So what happened to February...and March...and the first week of April?
Fortunately I have still been able to fit in my core training runs (or at least approximations thereof) these past few weeks but if the weather stays like it has been the past few days, and it is predicted to do so for much of the next week, I may have to dial back my race expectations. But I will be honest with you, pace leading in Little Rock and Race Directing (even as part of a committee) for the 24-Hour Around the Lake have really gotten me off track with training. Oh sure, the joy of running is still there...buried somewhere in with all of the meetings and letters and phone calls and emails and unreturned correspondence and....
Let's just say that there is a reason why I don't have ANYTHING officially scheduled following the Boston Marathon, though I have been kicking around the idea of a couple different possibilities for early October and hopefully running in my own race in July, but really I am just looking forward to going out for a nice trail run or seven without concern for distance, pace, hydration rate, etc. Because truly, what does it say when you find work to be a nice distraction from your hobby / outside interest?
That said, time to go change and warm up for my interval workout tonight in 20 minutes.
Okay, so maybe there is some truth to the comments I keep hearing about me stretching myself too thin and committing to too many things. But sometimes it is hard to know when to stop, especially when you combine wide and varied interests with a helpfull personality and (the perception of) free time.
I was/am the Course Director and Volunteer Coordinator for the Marathon Sports Super Sunday 5k/10k that was held this past weekend on Super Bowl (that's right, I said it) Sunday in South Boston; an event which has grown from 330 participants to maximum capacity of 1,500 in only 2 years.
That in itself is enough to have kept me busy these past few weeks but of course I pile more on top of that: a return to Miami to lead the 3:20 (7:38/mile) marathon pace group for the ING Miami Marathon, racing to a 26 second PR (13th place - top 0.9%) finish in the Tropical 5k the morning before, ushering for the NewRep Theater's production of "Cabaret" , taking on the Director of Sponsor Relations duties on a newly formed Race Director Committee for the 24-hour Around the Lake: Ultra.Marathon.Relay that takes place at the end of July in Wakefield, MA, volunteering for the WGBH family and kids day activities at the studios (I get to be the official event photographer), and of course all of the other stuff that comes with life as a married highway engineer.
But don't get me wrong, I obviously enjoy doing all of these things or else I wouldn't put myself in these situations. I just have to figure out how to better distribute them across the year so that they don't all jumble over each other like has been happening recently.
So obviously I have still been running and am now preparing myself for my next full out effort at the sold out Boston Marathon in April. But before that I will be making my first ever trip to Arkansas to lead the 3:30 pace group for the Little Rock Marathon on St. Patrick's Day weekend (what a lousy time to be away from the Boston area) and to visit with my good friend Susan who I met when we were on the FHWA PDP training program back at the turn of the century. I need to get more core work and hill training in between now and then because I am still feeling last night's 14 mile run on the ice/snow along the Charles River and back to my apartment (into the wind...uggh). I was toying with the idea of going to yoga tonight, but the prospect of walking home in the 6-degree temperatures at 7:30 when I have so much to do around the house (including catching up on this blog) lost out to a quick 30-minute workout in the gym and an overheated bus ride home.
But the cats were not going to feed themselves (they made that much clear when I finally got home), the laundry, the filing, the dishes, the sorting, the vaccuming, the...wow, this is depressing. I just can't think about it anymore.
Well what do you know, another day of freezing rain/sleet/ice to make my life more interesting. Currently things are just wet so hopefully tonight's run won't have to be canceled or abreviated because I really need to get myself back into race condition before my next 5K (16 days) and marathon (17 days). But that future stuff can wait...
Now is the time for a little reflection on the recently concluded year; a year of unprecedented (for me at least) performance. Yes, somehow I managed to make it through 2008 in better condition than I could have even imagined at this time last year. I not only survived my "ambitious" personal challenge, that saw me race more than 350 miles in 16 races over the course of the year, including 12 as part of "RunningBull's Run to Honor America's Veterans", but I also managed to finish in the top 10% for each event (that I was not participating in as a pace leader) including 8 finishes in the top 5 of my age group.
I ran a grand total of 2094 miles for the year. Unfortunately the local weather conditions did not permit me to run on New Years Eve, sort of like the LSU defense did to Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl (again ), so I did not reach 2112 and thus could not find the Passage to Bangkok or the Temples of Syrinx before passing into the new year. But still, that is more than I ran in 2007, 2006, 2005, on back to at least 1993 combined and am therefor not all that disappointed in having to wait until New Years Day to knock off those remaining miles.
My efforts to help support the New England Shelter (now Center) for Homeless Veterans in 2008 were mostly successful. I came up about $3000 short of my fundraising goal BUT I did generate some additional publicity for the Center, generated some good will and feelings of appreciation for our veterans and active duty personnel, made my father proud and gave him something to talk about at the VA hospital where he lives. For all of those reasons, and more, I have decided to continue my efforts into 2009.
However, this year I will not be focusing my schedule around participating in the Thematically linked events that I had in 2008, which dictated my travel, training, and race availability. I will instead focus on completing one or two dramatic ultra-endurance level events while also expanding my role of service to the sport in honor of the service of our soldiers.
I will be continuing my new found role as a Marathon Pace Leader: currently scheduled to lead the 3:20 group in Miami and either the 3:30 or 3:15 group in Little Rock.
I am the Volunteer Coordinator for the 2nd annual Marathon Sports Super Sunday 5k/10k on Feb 1 in S. Boston. I was the Course Director last year. Volunteers are still welcome to sign up for on course support during the race (water table, course monitor, timing chip collection).
I joined the newly formed Race Director Committee for the 13th annual 24-hour Around the Lake Team Relay, Ultra-marathon, and Marathon presented by the Somerville Road Runners in Wakefield, MA on July 24-25. I am currently operating as the Director of Sponsor Relations undertaking great efforts to keep this event fun, exciting, and affordable to all participants. I hope to be able to find a way to actually participate in this event and enjoy the fruits of my labors, but odds are I will too many duties that will need my attention that weekend and will have to sign up for someone else's Ultra.
Speaking of sponsors, I feel that it is time for me to pass the torch and will be stepping down from Team Aquaphor after my 3 years of representing their Endurance Athlete Team. I had a great time, met some wonderful people, and enjoyed some excellent benefits but feel that it is good to spread the wealth and will not stand in the way of some other deserving up-and-coming athlete.
And of course, I am registered to both volunteer for and compete in the Boston Marathon in April.
Now I can get outside to put up the Christmas decorations, hopefully before the temperatures drop much more and everything ices over here in Somerville. Otherwise the 12-days of Christmas might start out with one Josh in a cast; and that isn't going to help me get back into marathon shape for Miami in 6 weeks.
But before I get into all of that, I want to take this opportunity to thank DAV Chapter #27 in Somerville, MA for their support of RunningBull's Run to Honor America's Veterans and the New England Center (formerly Shelter) for Homeless Veterans. Their timely contribution will help keep the spirit of the holidays alive and well in this time of thankfulness, of family, and of rememberance. Receiving the email message of their intended contribution of support for my cause to honor our fallen soldiers by assisting their comrades in need on the homefront confirmed that my decision to continue with this mission (even after completing the self-appointed 350 miles of races this past year) was the right one. But I will not be repeating the same concept as last year. I will be refining the schedule of events to minimize travel and maximize the potency of my efforts. I will continue to help lead others to achieve success in their individual missions at a few select marathons in the coming year because I truly enjoy watching them become heroes to their families, their friends, and to themselves over the course of these few hours we spend together. The spirit of volunteerism and helpfulness is rejuvinated by these efforts and the message that I am spreading of support, of hope, of honor to commitment shines through more brightly to those other active participants as well as to the spectators standing on the sidelines, watching at home, or reading about it in the paper or online. But first I need to get back into race condition.
Granted my schedule has been completely turned this way and that since my first 50-miler 3 weeks ago, which has reduced my ability to get out and run as often (or as far/long) as I had been prior to Thanksgiving, but I didn't expect to be experiencing knee / IT Band "pain" on runs lasting longer than an hour. Sure, common wisdom probably says that I should still be recovering from my last race, from donating blood, and from the 6 car rides I spent crammed into a compact car (usually as the driver of our 2004 Honda Civic) that each exceeded 4 hours within the past 3 weeks. But then common knowledge would point out that I don't always listen to common wisdom, or common sense for that matter. I don't beleive that I am being reckless or misguided in trying to get out and run for an hour or so 2-3 times per week, especially not after having taken it very easy for the 10 days before my first run. However, I will still take it slow and not enter any races over the next couple of weeks (be they 50k or only 5k) while I gradually bring my long run back up to 3 hours. Hopefully tomorrow will let me enjoy a relatively easy 2 hour run before my brother-in-law and his darling daughters arrive for their winter weekend adventure visit.
Which of course means that I have to finish cleaning so that I can then start...er...um...finish decorating the apartment, forget all of that email, regular mail, sorting, filing, Christmas card writing, shopping, cooking, photo editing, application submitting, and aarrrrggghhh. Man, I really do love the holidays, don't you?
Though I have to admit that there were times out on the seemingly never-ending Tow-path segment, run into an 18mph headwind, when I didn't know how I was going to do it. The temperature at the 7:00am start was 19oF and with the wind chill I don't think that the ambient temperature ever crept above freezing.
I am so thankful that I had packed an entire second outfit for my mid-course (mile 38) gear bag because I needed the dry gloves, the change of socks and shoes without frozen cushioning foam, the wind jacket (duh!), and the second pair of tights which actually covered my ankles. I don't want to even think about the amount of energy my body was expending just trying to keep warm during those first 6 hours. But at least we didn't have to deal with snow, or worse yet, rain.
The volunteers (and general spectators) at the aid stations were so incredibly helpful and supportive. I want to thank them all for braving the cold to come out and support us runners as they did. The tepid soup, frozen m&m's, and pb&j sandwiches kept me moving out there and I am so very grateful for them all.
The final 8-miles of rolling hills climbing up from the river to the finish, though a welcome change mentally from the constant level terrain of the tow path, were brutal on my body. I felt like I could walk faster uphill than I could run at that point and the few brief downhill sections vibrantly announced their presence to my quads and my knee ligaments. And yet still I was able to finish this race on the run with my final mile at 8:26 pace (comparable to the initial 3 miles of the day).
It felt so good to stop and savor the sunset before enjoying a couple slices of pizza and a quick shower before the awards ceremony. No, I didn't earn any special award for my performance beyond the Hostess cupcake and cup of hot chocolate..
Though one of my local newspapers (The Somerville Journal) did provide a brief write-up on my efforts to support the NESHV and honor our fallen soldiers through my running, which hopefully will remind its readers of some additional things to be thanful for this holiday season.
So now what? Well for one thing, I have been busy trying to catch up on all of the household/familial responsibilities that had been piling up while I was away just about every weekend (including attending my wife's operas as the official videographer last weekend in Hingham and Duxbury, MA and this weekend in Lansdale, PA). Next weekend I will be hosting a group run / breakfast clinic out of Karma Yoga Studio in Harvard Square. Feel free to join me if you are available; we will be starting the 4-5 mile run at 8:30am and enjoying free Bear Naked granola with yogurt and fruit after we finish.
But this is all just filling time until Nov 20 when I will be heading down to Maryland (with a detour to hopefully visit with my mother for her birthday) for the JFK 50 Mile Memorial, my first official ultramarathon race on Nov 22. Wish me luck on this stepping stone to next summer's Vermont 100 Miler.
I know, I know, I should devote as much time and attention to my garden or maybe organizing my photos into albums or finishing that letter to my brother or any of those other "important" things in life instead of running through the woods for 10-30 hours. But none of those things give you a spiffy medal like this one when you finish:
I am currently fighting off some sort of cold complicated by sinus allergies that presented itself following my return flights from Dayton, OH following last Saturday's US Air Force Marathon for which I was a pace leader, running 3:40 for the first time. This was an interesting challenge, made all the more interesting when my stop watch reset itself somewhere between Mile 1 and Mile 2 and made a bit more complicated by some erroneously placed mile markers scattered throughout the course, because I don't actually train at that pace. Granted, I also don't train at the 3:30 pace that I have led twice before and will be running again at the Chicago Marathon in 2 weeks, but it is at least closer to my normal long run training pace.
Last night was the Armed Forces Race, the final summer race out of the American Legion Marsh Post in Cambridge, for which I finished 2nd in the 5.2 mile option with a new course PR. I started to think about how I can no longer use the old standby of, "but I just ran a marathon 5 days ago", about half way through the second lap when I started to develop a stitch in my side trying to keep pace with the eventual winner. Because honestly, last weekend was actually easier than the prior weekend (when I put in two 20+ mile runs after dark and in the rain) and I still ran hard quality repeat intervals at Tuesday night's track workout.
But honestly, I just ran too hard by staying with the leader and I had to pay for it in the second half, when my pace dropped off by nearly 10 seconds per mile. I still finished strong, but not as strong as I would have liked. Which means that I am going to have to do a much better job of controlling myself and gauging my maximum sustainable effort for next weekend's Army 10 Miler in D.C., especially when starting with the other triple digit bib number racers in the first wave. Because my burning out at 5 or 6 miles is going to make the last 4-5 miles mental and physical anguish that I will have to deal with on my 10+ hour bus ride back to Boston.
It was just 14 months ago, while reading the weblog of Robert Jordan (aka James O. Rigney, Jr.), that "RunningBull's Run" was conceived of in its present scope and scale. Up until that time I had been searching for some reason, for some cause, for something bigger than myself to dedicate my running efforts towards since I had at that point achieved my original running goal: to qualify for and compete in the 111th Boston Marathon (2007). I knew that I wanted to align myself with a charitable group to make a difference in the lives of others with the financial resources that I collected as well as motivate and inspire others through the actual act of running.
Reading about Robert's (he will always be Robert to me, since that is the name he used during the half dozen occasions on which we interacted) battle against Amyloidosis, about his family, about his time in Vietnam, about the simple things in life and all of his plans for the future, brought my conceptual thoughts into focus and aligned me with a cause that already had meaning to my life and for which there exists a continuing unmet need.
At this point many people assume that I signed on to assist the Mayo Clinic or the Amyloidosis Foundation but I chose instead to dedicate my efforts to battle against a more insidious and pervasive disease; Apathy for the plight of our war veterans. I chose to align myself with the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans located in downtown Boston to help raise awareness of their proven and effective programs and services that help rehabilitate and reintegrate our homeless veterans. I wish that there was a simple and direct link associated with this choice or with my decision to undertake such a (relatively) ambitious endeavor. Nobody even blinks twice when a cancer survivor or family member of a cancer victim signs up to raise money for cancer research by running a 10k or Marathon. But when a 32 year old civilian employee of the Federal government announces that he is going to run in a series of races over the course of a year for a combined distance (350+ miles) that exceeds the sum total of his lifetime running career in support of homeless veterans...that gets a bit complicated.
And since I am not a professional writer who can tie this all together nice and neatly I am just going to lay out the key points that when taken as a whole come together, mesh, meld, and result in THIS, this ongoing experience to which I have dedicated 1 year of my life.
My father is a disabled Vietnam veteran who now resides in the VA Medical Center located in Bedford, MA.
My favorite author (Robert Jordan) was also a Vietnam veteran, but one who was able to effectively manage the after effects of his war experiences by channeling them through his writings.
My best friend in high school, my college roommate, 3 of my co-workers, my cousin, my grandfather, my father-in-law, and about a dozen other people who are meaningful in my life are veterans.
Our nation has been at war against a Terrorist organization since September 11, 2001; though you wouldn't know it based upon the coverage in the media, the urgency in Congress, or the focus of our economy and the output of our manufacturing sector.
My middle brother celebrated his 20th birthday on September 11, 2001; while I watched on live television from the fitness center of the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska as a plane crashed into the North Tower.
Over 4000 American soldiers, many of whom enlisted in response to that attack, had been killed fighting the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq (now over 4730).
I had met and run with Dean Karnasas in Boston and Chicago during his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days challenge, after reading his Ultramarathon Man book, and witnessed first-hand the human body's ability to overcome normally recognized limits.
I wanted to help, not ignore, not pick and choose, and not "pay off" the homeless and the hungry people living on the streets of my city in one of the wealthiest nation's in the world. Especially those who served that nation but somehow slipped through the cracks after returning "home".
I wanted to give back to other runners; to help them to achieve their goals while I continue to pursue my next goal.
I have learned from this experience that our limits are self imposed. We can go so far beyond what we could ever imagine if we are only willing to focus ourselves and dedicate our time and effort to achieving the goals that we establish. The keys to remember are patience, perspective, perseverance, and positive attitude.
This photo was taken the last time I saw and talked with Robert Jordan. We discussed running, languages, dining in Cambridge, and the joys of travel before he signed my German language editions of The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt. I obtained these books, and three other later volumes, to help keep me motivated on my path to self improvement through learning an additional language since I want to read my favorite stories and experience my souvenirs from Salzburg. However, my language study has taken a back-seat while I have focused on maintaining my physical condition to undertake the challenge of completing the component events of "RunningBull's Run to Honor America's Veterans".
1. Bataan Death March Memorial
White Sands Missile Range, NM
2. Boston Marathon
3. NJ Marathon (pace leader)
Long Branch, NJ
4. Western States Endurance Run
70-mile Memorial Day Weekend)
70 Mile (trail)
5. POW-MIA Race for Freedom
South Boston, MA
6. Concord Minuteman Classic
7. Air Force Marathon (pace leader)
Wright Paterson AFB, OH
8. Armed Forces Run
9. Army 10-Miler
10. Chicago Marathon (pace leader)
11. Marine Corps. Marathon
12. Veterans Memorial Road Race
13. JFK 50-Mile Memorial
50 Mile (trail)
And so now I must run, off to my track workout in preparation for this weekend's Marathon where I will continue my efforts to thank our Armed Forces personnel who continue to risk their lives in defense of an ideal, I will continue my efforts to motivate and inspire the runners who have elected to follow my guidance to achieve their own goals, and I will continue to show our veterans that they have not been forgotten.
Thank you Robert/Jim
You may be one year gone, but you are not (nor will be) forgotten.
Though this probably wouldn't surprise too many of my college friends (except for the fact that the word isn't spelled differently) but is actually a pretty big deal. I was recently selected to the 100 member inaugural Team Bear Naked endurance athlete team from out of 3,186 applicants. In fact, I even completed my first official race just yesterday as part of the Nike Human Race 10k in Boston as a Nike+ runner since the nearest official event was held in NYC. It was only my second 10k race (the first being the 2006 Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta) and the first race I finished in 1st place since high school.
In fact, I so completely owned the course that I even took home the Finish Line. (I am currently, as of the time of this posting, ranked 164 in the world for all of the "virtual racers" with my time of 39:33 - a time that I could have been even better if I would have thought of this run as more of a race and not an obstacle course while dodging the hundreds of college kids and their families who were moving in on Commonwealth Avenue)
I am going to take this as a sign that my training of late has been paying off and that people are recognizing my efforts and my greater potential. Hopefully this increased visability will also help improve my fundraising ability for RunningBull's Run to Honor America's Veterans and therefore can provide a greater benefit to the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. For my next race event, in just 19 days, I will be leading the 3:40 (8:24/mile) pace group at the US Air Force Marathon. Come say hello if you find yourself in the Dayton, OH area on race weekend.
While visiting with my father-in-law at the Jersey Shore I decided to combine some time at the beach with my abreviated long run, necessitated by too much time dedicated to driving this weekend, while also practicing running on uneven shifting terrain by logging a 2 hour run on the beach. Maybe it was because I have spent so much time following the Olympic swimming competitions. Maybe it was the result of Usian Bolt blasting through the 100m in World Record time, but I also decided resistance training by running barefoot through the crashing surf. Either way, the abrasive sand in my shorts for 90 minutes quickly paled in comparison to the discomfort caused by the jumbo sized blisters under both of my big toes. But at least I was smart enough to call it a day before they could pop or tear thereby letting sand get under the skin. Now I will just take it easy for the rest of the weekend, enjoy time spent with my wife's family (especially our adorable nieces), and relax before the long drive home tomorrow in time for work at Karma Yoga Studio.
Back to the Olympics. I want to congratulate Michael Phelps for his tenacity, dedication, and incredible mental focus to have completed the amazing string of successes that has resulted in Olympic gold 7 times in 7 days. I wish him and his relay teammates all the success in the world for Sunday but want to focus on his most recent come from behind victory over Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly. Unlike the majority of Americans who would consider a silver medal finish by mere hundredth of a second to still be a failure, I consider it an amazing accomplishment nonetheless. Milorad Cavic completed an amazing race against some of the greatest athletes in the world and forced "the greatest swimmer of all time" to live up to his title by giving everything he had to win by the smallest officially measurable unit of time. And if the result would have gone the other way, I would still see it this way because in the end that is the heart and soul of sport and competition.
It reminds me of the famous "Duel in the Sun" between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley at the Boston Marathon where these titans completely exhausted themselves going back and forth through to the finish with Beardsley refusing to quit, refusing to surrender to his muscle cramps or dehydration, and refusing to give the race to the pre-race favorite. Winning, though important for the awards and rewards from the sponsors and fans, is less important than the knowledge that you gave your best effort in the attempt. Congratulations to everyone who gives it their best effort in chasing their dreams and who inspire others through their efforts.
I have recently been able to get back into the swing of things with my run training and have brought my weekly mileage back to the positive side of 50. Which is a good thing since today marks the first day of my 16 week training plan / countdown for the JFK 50 Mile Memorial (my first official ultra).
Of course saying that I learned just yesterday of a nice low-frills marathon / 50 mile race not too far from home in Ipswich, MA that occurs two weeks sooner. I am considering contacting the Race Director to see if the 37.5 mile option will be available again this year, as it apparently was in years past. I know, it probably isn't the best idea considering I will be racing the Marine Corps. Marathon two weeks before and pacing two others between now and then, but I am a little anxious about the distance having never run more than 30 miles (in just over 5 hours) before. Combine that with the fact that I have only participated in one race (last Thursday's ++" in which I finished 4th overall, same as last year but with a time 35 seconds faster over the 5.2 mile course) since July 4 and I am starting to get a bit antsy.
Which is why I am glad that I finally took the plunge and joined my local running club, the Somerville Road Runners (www.srr.org), so that I can undertake some structured workouts with other competitive runners - many of which are much faster and more accomplished than me. I have only attended two of the weekly track workouts but am already feeling a better sense of place while also learning better control of my faster paces. Though that is much easier to do on a measured oval than on roads and trails so I am waiting to see how it carries over into my long runs and tempo runs.
I decided to skip the track workout last night in favor of a long overdue Yoga session to help prepare myself for the next round of races. Probably not quite as effective as a good theraputic massage, but I don't have time or $ for that right now (I know, famous last words). My medium-long runs over the weekend felt much harder than they should have.
Even accounting for the temperature, rain, and terrain my Saturday morning run through the Middlesex Fells felt like more than 12 miles. And holding myself to an 8:00/mile pace for Sunday morning's 15 mile run in the rain was also harder than I expected...and not because I had to hold myself back from going too fast either. So I squeezed in a nap on Sunday afternoon before work at Karma, rested on Monday, and kept my pace slow and easy running from work to yoga and yoga to home last night. I just need to keep tonight's NikeTown run nice and easy, make sure that I sleep well tomorrow, and I should be good to go for Sunday's 10-miler. Besides, I still need to break in my new Nike Vomero 3+ shoes before the Chicago Marathon so I don't want to push things too hard on their maiden run.
My primary goal is to finish no further back than my bib number (#985), but I would also like to see if I can manage a steady 6:12 pace through the first 9 miles and then let the final mile determine how far under 62 minutes I can get. Thinking positive thoughts and dwelling on the fact that I have never raced 10 miles before. I know that I can do this.
Just like I know that I can manage running 3 marathons in 36 days, because I did that just this past spring. But unlike this time my hardest runs came early in that series while now I am almost "tapering" my way into the Marine Corps. Marathon.
okay, truth be told, it is past time to begin training for my next marathon coming up in just under 2 months. Fortunately, I have managed to maintain at least a moderate level of endurance fitness as evidenced by my daily 1 hour runs while attending my conference. Though it was a bit easier even at elevation to run when the temps and humidity were both in the mid-60s as opposed to what I came home to here in the Boston area.
It just isn't fun to get out in this kind of hot soup for long slow runs, tempo runs, repeats, or even jogging to the library and the post office (which I have now done 3 times in the 2 days that I have been back). Obviously, I am just going to have to figure it out and make sure that I can get myself re-conditioned enough to hold a constant 8:25/mi pace at the US Air Force Marathon to fulfill my Pacer duties. After that, things should work themselves out well enough for me to run a respectable 10-miler in D.C. before picking up the pacer tempo in Chicago (maybe running in this heat and humidity IS beneficial after-all) to hit even 8's.
If you have been recieving my monthly email updates then you know that I set a new PR at the POW/MIA Race for Freedom at the end of June. But what you might not know is that 5 days later I tackled the Concord Minuteman Classic Road Race (5 miler) on July 4th and actually considered chasing after an even better time.
The weather was actually much better for this attempt being in the mid 60s with a misty rain falling. The only problem was that I had just spent the previous hour and 40 minutes biking roads, trails, and deer paths through the woods to get to the race 9 minutes before the start. Not so ideal for someone whose last bike ride longer than a mile was 7 years ago in Anchorage, AK. But still, I felt pretty good having warmed up before the race and was only about 100 feet out of 10th place when we hit the first mile marker...in 5:38. Now to many that isn't all that fast. In fact for me it wasn't all that incredibly fast, but then again the last time that I ran a sub-6 mile I didn't have 4 more to go immediately following. I slowed off the pace a bit to keep from burning out, which I don't think really mattered since I had already likely killed my chances at a sub-31:00 race by biking the 18 miles to the race, and got through mile 2 at 12:11. But as should have been expected, it just wasn't there for the final 1.5, even with a strong final 1/4 kicking to the finish.
Afterwards we recieved 100% Concord Grape Juice from Welch's (which was quite tasty and refreshing) before I faced the 18 mile return trip home. By the time I got home I was physically and mentally wasted. I was sore, tired, hungry, dehydrated, and sore. Yes, so sore that I had to say it twice. And it was then, after I got home, cleaned the mud and muck from the nooks and crannies of the bicycle, and just before setting myself to weeding the muddy garden that I appreciated what happened at that wooden bridge crossing the stream in the field on April 19, 1776; on that same land that I had run through only hours prior men had stood up for their principles, for their rights, and for their freedom. All it had cost me was $15, 5 hours of my day, and 41 miles of exercise. For them, it was so much more. And that was all that I needed to ensure that I properly celebrated my Indepedence Day holiday barbeque with friends to honor the sacrifices made by men protecting their friends and families.
Too bad that it took me 9 days to find the time to write that while sitting in New Mexico for a conference that kicks off in the morning when I should be sleeping. Well, maybe NOW I can get some sleep.
Since my normal running schedule had been so upset through all of my recent travels, my regular blood donation (every 8-10 weeks), and my first 100 mile week (thanks to the Western States Training Camp) I tested myself last weekend with a local race; the Auburndale Community of Newton, MA "[Rove the Cove 5k|http://www.auburndalecommunity.org/rove_the_cove]". This race provided me an opportunity to gauge my current capabilities in a shorter (i.e.. faster) race while also helping my friend Alain promote his series of race events that directly conflict with the POW-MIA Race for Freedom and my work shift at Karma Yoga Studio next Sunday by distributing flyers for the Boloco Heartbreak Hill Grand Prixand wearing his race shirt. It doesn't hurt that I am also a huge fan of the Boloco burritos and smoothies.
Well, I found that I can still run in the low 6-minute range over varying terrain on a hot and humid day so my race performances should be fine next week. Now I just have to figure out how to get out to Concord in time for the start of the race on July 4, since my wife will have the car for her residency at Tanglewood, the Train doesn't run early enough, the buses aren't running, and I don't necessarily want to run the 15 miles each way to race for 5 more. Maybe I can borrow a bicycle.
The trials, tribulations, thoughts, and experiences of a Highway Engineer masquerading as an amateur Ultramarathon enduarance athlete attempting to make a difference in this world - or - How I lost my mind since moving to Boston.