Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Potential Uh-oh

I haven't had a run since J's revenge run of 6/20, where he dragged me about a minute's pace faster than I wanted through nearly 7 miles of paved trail in the heat (which literally makes me leak fluid all over the place). 
I don't think I bothered to mention my sore knee as an excuse on the Flushing run, because that went pretty well, but the truth is that Tuesday I kind of tweaked it a bit and it was doing a little grinding and popping on Wednesday morning.  Of course, as I usually do, I just ignore everything and run anyway (e.g. my right heel pain [still around], my outer left foot's soreness/random sharp pain, both of my feet having sharp pain at the top of the foot, near the ankle, etc.).  Like a small child afraid of monsters in the dark, when it comes to me and "injuries," I just figure everything will go away if I throw myself under a blanket and close my eyes.
So after running on it on Wednesday and it getting worse, I figured why not pile on and do the usual Thursday run (which we had every right to skip)?  That didn't go very well for me.  I was barely in walking shape that night, and it didn't feel incredibly better Friday, when I decided to stand on it for 4+ hours at the free Andrew WK gig at the Majestic (which was just a hot mess of a show, the people watching has never been so incredible at anything in my life).
In his classic all white outfit
Anyway, come Saturday (my usual longer run day), I finally wised up and said, "To hell with it, I'm not running today."  It's now Tuesday and I feel a bit better, but I'm reconsidering the usual run day again, even if it is just a short 30 minute one.  There's only a little over a week until Volksläufe, and there's probably a thin line right now between me getting better for it and screwing my leg up to the point where I won't be there. 
So any suggestions on how to simulate something resembling a tempo run that's low impact, let me know in the next couple hours.  Otherwise I may just be a big enough dummy to run.  I'd really like to hold off until Thursday, though.  It's getting better with rest and I think it will be alright by then.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flushing 5K

As I've said several times before, I like this race because of its historic significance in my running habit.  This is the first official race where J and I paired up, and is essentially what cemented us as the dynamic duo of crazy running people in our circle of friends.  Sometimes all it takes is one random call saying, "You want to run this race in Flushing today?" 

Normally, this race is scorching hot.  Last year, I believe it was closing in on 95 degrees by race time, and we even were given lots of warnings to take it easy and get water along the way.  This year, we didn't get anything close to that.  Even though it was the hottest temperature of the day, we topped out at 76 degrees, and, although that's actually higher than it's been due to the odd colder temps we've been getting, it was a welcome reprieve.  I also think it's usually on a Thursday, and had I known it was Wednesday (which we only found out the day before), we could have cancelled our usual Tuesday tempo run (which always leaves us a little sore the day after).
When we got there, registration was quick and easy, and, as we lined up to go, it seemed a little less crowded than usual.  I'm not sure if it was actually less people or not.  I'll have to check when the full race results are published.  Anyway, we got going on time for once, and right off the bat I got clogged up behind a few people.  J took off like a shot and was bobbing and weaving around everyone with ease (he can fit through tighter spaces).  So right away, he had a HUGE lead on me.  Not only that, he was cranking those legs hard.  I didn't know if he was going that fast, or I was just going that slow, but I tried to keep up with him either way. 

Once we got to the first mile marker, I knew the answer.  The volunteer called out a 7:34 for me, and I knew it was a matter of him going that fast.  As soon as I heard that I couldn't help but just immediately back off.  I was frightened and confused about the time.  I think it was probably my fastest mile ever, in my life.  Maybe if I didn't hear the time I would have kept pushing, but I just almost immediately went slower.  It didn't help that I totally missed my water grab, and only accomplished knocking over a Dixie cup of water onto the ground (I'm smooth like that)

It's tough to tell whether that was a better decision to slow down in the end or not, though.  Despite the quick start, it seemed like I held my position pretty well.  Sure I was passed here and there, but I also kept pulling up ahead of people in my general vicinity.  Not only that, I was closing my gap on J (meaning, he didn't disappear whenever we weren't in a straight-away).  We got to the two mile mark and I really started to make a push.  "Only a mile to go?  I got this." 

Then we ran into a guy later saying, "This is the REAL 2 mile mark.  The last one was mismarked."  Son of a b*tch!  Now my pacing was thrown off, and mentally that just screws with you.  You think you have a mile to go (okay 1.1), you go another 1/4 mile, and suddenly, you still have a mile to go.  I was actually pretty frustrated, but, you know, small races.  What can you do?

I pulled up to water station #2 (which I believe is just #1 on the loop back), and ::drumroll please:: NAILED IT!  I wanted to do the celebratory water station chugga chugga hydration shuffle, but there was no time.  I would just have to do it mentally.  I turned the corner toward the big downhill by the church, pushing hard to catch J, looking to my right to see if my mom and sister happened to be there in their usual spot for the parade (not this year), and caught him at precisely the same spot as last year.  I'm sure, for that, he hates me.  That's probably why, when he felt good yesterday, he dragged me through a much faster paced 7 miler than usual, staying 3 to 50 feet in front of me at all times (and it was much hotter then). 

Anyway, I turned down Main toward the finish, putting in about all I had left to give, and just barely kept my lead, crossing at about 26:18 (26:04 official, a course best) and only being about 6 seconds ahead of J at the end.  Immediately headed for the water, and then we began the long 2 mile walk back to the school (which is all uphill).  We looked at our results, and got some more water.  I was super hungry and settled for a couple cookies, even though I didn't want them (no fruit this year). 

We met up with a friend at Gina's for some pizza, and then went over to his place for a drink.  I'm pretty happy with the race, but I'm guessing I could have done a little better (especially with the first mile). 

We both signed up for Volkslaufe.  Stay tuned for that one.  There is a big twist on what we're trying to do for that race this year.  I'm sure anyone reading this will fall into one of two camps when they find out what we're doing.  Those camps will be "That's hilarious." or "You guys are idiots."  Maybe both at the same time for a few (and that's pretty much my assessment).  We're going to have to really up the training next week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Although I May Flirt With All Kinds of Dirt"

Yep, that lyric from Depeche Mode's "To Have and To Hold" pretty much owned my brain during a good chunk of the Flirt With Dirt run.  It was impossible for it not to.  I spent a lot of time with the "Music For The Masses" album in my day.

As far as the race itself, I do believe it's one of the more enjoyable experiences I've had.  The parking situation was super easy.  I got there about an hour early, which, for some races, can still be a nightmare.  Not the case here.  I paid $5, they waved me back several times, and eventually I was parked on top of a hill only about 200 yards from the start and packet pick-up.  I really can't remember too many races I've traveled to that were this simple, and didn't have you waiting in a long line of cars to get parked. 

You don't get much closer than this (no zoom)

This left me with a lot of time to stand around and talk to people.  Unfortunately J was not with me due to the race selling out and him not signing up earlier.  I did run into someone we know though, and he was doing the 5K (won the age group too).  I even got to see him and a good chunk of the other 5Kers file on in, because we were starting 30 minutes after them.  Pretty much half of the 10K runners were a cheering section for the 5K.

Shortly after watching some of the leaders come in, we lined up for our race.  I lined up (optimistically) with the 10 minute people.  I was hoping to stick with most of them and make a go at actually having a good trail race for once.  In the end, this was probably a good decision.

We started off down a hill, making a half loop around a soccer field, and then we were on a gravel road heading into the trail.  It felt like a good pace off the start for me.  Once we got into the deep woods, it was really calm and peaceful, almost to the point you could be lulled to sleep.  Had it not been a little chilly, I could have seen stopping for a nap.  Even the runners themselves were pretty quiet out there.  Trail runs usually have a lot of loud, boisterous riff-raff, but everyone for this one (at least near me) seemed very subdued.  You had to listen close to even hear a quiet "passing on your left" here and there throughout the race.  I think the only yelling I heard was directed at someone that dropped something and a person behind them trying to get their attention to return it.

Like a lot of trail runs, you get parked behind someone you want to pass, and you kind of debate it for a while.  I never really know when to do it or not, because I know I'm not the most steady-paced person.  My miles vary so much that sometimes I'd be better off just staying behind someone to even out the pace.  This time, though, I think I made all good decisions.  Everyone I went by stayed back there, and the people I eventually pulled up behind for the last 2 miles were kind of towing me in to the finish.

The one thing that made this race more fluid, though, was the fact there aren't any real hills.  Unlike the other two races in the series (Trail, Legend), this trail run is almost dead flat.  Sure there are hills, but nothing that an average (or even below average) runner is going to get beat up by.  Like any trail race there are a lot of roots, rocks, and uneven spots, so you do have to be careful of that.  Also there are a few places with some quick drops in the path.  So if you're following someone too close, you may not realize that nature put a step there for you.  Sometimes your fellow runners will let you know, and sometimes you find out for yourself.  All of those obstacles are a lot easier when you're only going a little over 6 miles.  The feet never really get lazy on you for that distance.

Zonked, and have no idea why my tongue is out

I ended up pulling in with a time of 1:10:15 and a net time of 1:07:49, which was good enough for...well...nothing. After I finished, I grabbed a quick water and one of those blueberry muffins that I was hoping would still be there when I finished. That muffin was gooooooood! Just another reason to like this race. It was just a really laid back, relaxing, good time. I just wish it wasn't so early, because I realized when I left, it was only 9:30, and there is just no finding beer that early. So, because of that, I just went home, made some eggs and relaxed.

Muffin Deliciousness

Yeah, I didn't exactly do this entry in a timely fashion.  I've been swamped with life (in a good way).  Flushing 5K tomorrow (and the post for it over a week later, I'm sure)

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Run For the Ice Cream

I know it's been a while.  There hasn't been all that much worth reporting, though.  To be honest, I did not do a single running race all of May.  It was pretty unbelievable when I realized it, but the entire month had come and gone and the only event I did was the Tour de Crim. Sure there was that one awesome trail run where we found the links of the Genesee Trail to the Flint Trail system, but that wasn't organized.  That was just J and I trying to get lost in the woods.

I love the logo

Yesterday was the Diplodash Ice Cream Bash.  I believe this used to be the Retread, so we had to do it.  That and completely undoing your exercise with ice cream is just something that's near and dear to my heart.  The only drawback was they weren't taking old shoes with the soles worn down for that charity that resoles them and gives them to needy people, so I still have 3 pairs of old shoes in my back seat.

I didn't know what to expect.  I haven't had a 5K since March, and that one was pretty slow.  I haven't been able to gain any speed lately, even on short runs, so I didn't have very high expectations.  Time-wise, I was thinking of shooting for a 27:somthing, but mainly I just wanted to go all out and push as hard as I could, for as long as I could, and give it everything I've got.

When we started, I realized that the race course was also the same as the Retread, and knowing where to go and how long until the next turn or until the race is over can mean a lot.  I saw a few familiar people that I used to try to keep up with before (when I was better), and I though if I could try to keep up with them it would help too.  J blew out in front of me, but I kept some of the familiars close in front of me.

That only lasted about halfway through though, and I started to drop ground to them.  I don't think I was slowing down.  They were just making their second half push, and I was huffing and puffing and already in top gear, so there was nothing I could do.  Just after where the mile 2 marker used to be (no markings this year), I caught J and dragged him along for much of the rest of the race.  He dropped back just behind me with a 1/2 mile to go, and pretty much stayed there about 20-40 feet behind me.  The good thing about that is I probably kept him lined up ahead of some other people in his age group (he's not gone up out of mine), and he got a pretty nice award.
Still love the logo
To tell the absolute truth, I don't think I've ever pushed myself harder in a 5K.  I never let off the throttle and I was pushing myself to the point where I was considering doing the unthinkable and stopping to walk in a 5K.  I was just being that hard on myself.  My legs were on fire, my lungs were burning, every breath felt like it just wasn't enough to sustain me for the next one.  I kept thinking to myself that this must be how the real runners push themselves to win races every single time they go out.  I don't think that's something I could ever get used to.

I pulled in with the clock time just above 26 minutes and as soon as I stopped, I wanted to go lay down.  The more dominant feeling, though, was that I felt like I was going to throw up and I even walked, half bent over, away from the finish just in case.  Luckily that passed, I got some water, and then went over to get some ice cream (Mint Chocolate Chip!).

One of my favorites
The run was sponsored, partially, by Baskin Robbins, and they were handing out coupons at the finish and by the YMCA.  I think the universal sentiment was, "Where the heck is there a Baskin Robbins around here."  To be honest, I didn't know we even had one, and I don't think anyone else did either.  Now, mind you, this is also a crowd of running, healthy people, so it's not necessary a representative sample.  The coupons didn't say where they're located, and I still haven't bothered to look.  Also, I think I lost the coupons, but, Baskin Robbins, we'll always have the YMCA...
Thanks Baskin Robbins!
We popped in to check our official times and J age-grouped, as I mentioned.  I came in about 7th with a 25:55, which fits in as my 3rd best 5K of all time (I'll take it!).  I'm hoping this will get me going a bit with the speed.  I've been trying to work some tempo runs in, but I think what will help most is just getting some more distance.  It's been a little rougher this year with me being the pushy one, but I think we'll get there.  I've also dropped about 10 pounds in the last two months, and kept it off.  My wife is on this healthy kick and stopped bringing junk into the house.  That makes things a lot easier.  Although, I will admit I did bring in some Hostess substitutes this week because I miss the Twinkie.  I couldn't help it.  I give myself some credit for not deep frying any (yet).

We popped downtown for a bit for some beer.  We went to the Torch and had a Short's Huma, and I followed that up with an Arcadia Whitsun.  Then we went over to The Loft and shared a $10 pitcher of Fat Tire (and that was a big pitcher...almost 5 pints worth).  There was a lot of talk of old memories and laughing there.  That and we were watching this guy who some birthday girl in a nice dress was talking to (instead of her friends), and were rooting for him to successfully complete the process.  Tall, weird-looking dude, I hope you at least got her number.

I've got Flirt With Dirt tomorrow, which I almost forgot about, because I thought it was July 8th, not June 8th.  J was going to join, but it is "Sold Out," so I guess I'm going alone.  We'll see how that goes.  I've never really done a 10K on trail before, so how to pace that out will be interesting.  Either way, it's an auto-PR. 

I'm open to suggestions on where to go around that area.  I haven't been down to bars in Novi in years and it was always in that strip-mall sorta place with the Post Bar and the Irish place (and The Library Bar across the street).
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