Monday, July 31, 2006


Ten mile race

On Friday, I ran the Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile road race, in Narragansett, RI. My time? 1:19:55, of course (that's almost exactly 8 minutes per mile, which seems to be my predestined pace). I should feel very good about this, but I am a little disappointed because I was hoping for a faster pace. The reason I hoped for a faster pace is so that I can have more confidence about doing the 8-minute pace in the marathon.

I know that my goal for my first marathon should be simply to finish, but I can't shake the hope of an 8 minute pace. This is because that pace will give you a finish time of 3:30. Not only that, but it gives you enough slack that if you slip to 9 minute miles, you will still finish in under 4 hours (just under). If I had done the ten miler with a pace comfortably below 8 minutes, I'd be more hopeful about meeting my marathon hope.

I ran pretty hard for the race, and felt pretty beat afterwards, so is there any hope I can keep that pace for 16.2 miles longer? That is the question. I'm hoping 3 more months of training, plus crisp October weather, plus months of hopes and dreams, will help me reach that goal.

But enough about disappointment and future concerns. It was a great race, tons of runners, scenic locale, and enthusiastic crowd. Running with the crowd was very exciting, even if I was seriously boxed in for the first mile, and had occasional traffic problems throughout. The weather had been very hot and humid all day, but storms were threatening by start time. Between miles 5 and 6 the sky got really dark and lightening was spotted. Just as I passed mile six, and turned down a tree-shaded road, the sky opened up and we were all drenched. It felt good, and the scene was slightly surreal-- running along with hundreds of people in pouring rain. I'm not sure if the rain helped or hurt. It definitely mitigated the heat and humidity, but the drenched shoes and clothes may have been a little detrimental.

After the race, a massive street celebration. I met up with my brother Matt, who also ran, and compared notes. All in all a good time.

Will post soon with more thoughts on this race.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Flipping the little switch

By which I mean overcoming the current inertia to make changes and achieve my latest goal. I have mentioned before that I wanted to lose some pounds before getting into the serious training. Well, I failed that. The good news, at least is I did not gain back anything since my small weight drop a couple of months ago.

However, I still slightly disappointed by my lack of progress. I know exactly what I need to do, but have been unable to muster the will to achieve it. Essentially, I just need to knock off the treats, or the second helpings.

I know that I will lose some pounds simply by cranking up the mileage. However, I would be much better off making a concentrated effort to speed this up by watching the diet. The biggest hazard I face is joint injury, and every pound less means that much less stress on the joints with every stride I take. Sure, I will lose weight when I am running 25+ mile weeks, but do I really want to be carrying 10 excess pounds over those 25 miles?

This post has existed in draft form for a few weeks now. I have been struggling with how to write it without being too confessional (what would be the point?). Also, I have no great wisdom about how to break out of this rut. But I think my experience is shared by many, if not all, of the people who have to work hard at weight loss and maintenance. I offer this post as in illustration of the human condition--the amazing capacity we have to look at the facts, see very clearly the right path to take, and then not take it!

The only hope I can offer is to take it one day at a time (hardly a new insight, I know!). Congratulate yourself on the good decisions you make, don't despair at the bad decisions, but keep the goal in mind.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Crossing the threshold to longer distances

Today I ran 9 miles, the longest distance I have run in the last 10 months, and about 2 more miles than any run in the last few months. This is definitely a change from the first part of the training, which was pretty much the same old same old. I felt good, and my pace works out to 7.58 minute miles. That makes me very happy, as it makes my goal of an 8 minute pace for the marathon seem within reach.

This was also a test of whether I can motivate myself to get up early enough to run a greater-than-one-hour run and still get to work on time. This I did, but it took some planning last night to help me get out the door on time.

Sometimes I think this whole endeavor is charmed. A few posts back I described how my hill training route near my house worked out to be an exact one-mile loop, within a gnats eyelash. Well, for todays run, I needed to find a 9 mile course. I took my 7.1 mile Charles River run and used the Gmaps Pedometer to calculate the distance to the next bridge (the so-called Harvard Bridge, which goes to MIT). I subtracted the part of the route specific to the 7.1 mile route, added on the extra part to include the Harvard Bridge, and the distance worked out to be ... 8.97 miles!

It was nice to run this course and travel over some of my old stamping grounds. I got to count Smoots again, and see the Citgo sign up close.

Another amazing coincidence. I need to run 10 miles next friday. Well, it just so happens there is a 10 mile race next friday in Rhode Island, the Blessing of the Fleet Race. A seaside race, just the right distance at just the right time. Oh, not to mention that this race is something of a family tradition, in that my brother Matt, and sometimes my sister Tess runs it.

But oh, the humidity these days! Todays run was at 6 a.m., and not a ray of sun to be seen. Still, my high-tech singlet was soaked through. I took along an 8 oz. bottle of Gatorade, which I think was very smart. I will have to be sure to do this for all of my longer runs, especially in this kind of weather.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I'm registered!

As of today, I am officially registered! I've put my money down, so if nothing else, my frugal nature will help me follow this through to completion--would hate to see that $50 go to waste. Now I will be sure to say "I am running a marathon this fall", not, "I think I am..." Also, I can let go of that little worry that I would not register early enough to be in before the 1200 runner cut off.

This week's training went well. It was a study in inprecision, by design. I was supposed to do a 4 miler on Tuesday, and a 5-miler today. I don't have handy routes for those distances, so I let myself to a slightly-shorter-than-3-mile route Tuesday, and a slightly-longer-than-5-mile route today.

I had to overcome a little internal resistance to depart from the official printed schedule, but I think I need to get used to the idea that close enough is good enough. There will likely be times in the next few months when I cannot do every single run to the prescribed distance, due to time limitations, or health, or weather. For example, if its 100 degrees out, and I "have to" run 8 miles, I need to be comfortable skipping it, or doing an easy 3 miles instead. Or, if I have to stay up late because one of the kids is sick, or something, then its ok if it means I can't make the next days run as planned.

In another effort to lighten up, I intentionally left the watch in the locker on one of the runs.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Week 2 wrap up

Feeling pretty good about my second week. Monday was a vacation day and Tues. was the Fourth of July, but I kept to my schedule, running 3 miles each day. I even got ambitious and did my home hill route for Monday's run (the loop is a one mile course with a serious hill-- see earlier post). I averaged about 8:07 per mile, which is very good, but each loop was progessively slower, so I have concerns about the hill series of the CCM. My concerns are about meeting my time goals. I believe I can stagger up any number of hills at some pace.

Today's 7 miler went well, tho it was not my fastest run for this distance.

So, the second week done according to plan. I don't think I'll be able to keep the schedule this perfectly for the duration, but I'll do my best.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Running, out of time

On Friday morning I realized that I had left the house without my watch. That meant doing my run without getting a time. I have a hard time not being bothered by this. I should be pretty comfortable now that my pace it pretty good right now. I really only need to check in with the watch as my distances increase, to see how well the pace will scale. (I still have hopes, probably way too ambitious, of doing 8-minute miles in the marathon).

Anyway, once I resigned myself to the fact, I found it sort of relaxing to run without the ticker. When I came to a street crossing, I did not have to go through my routine of stopping the clock, restarting when I could cross, then checking a couple of times to make sure the watch was not on pause anymore. I think it would be a good thing to intentionally run familiar courses untimed on a regular basis.

So the first week passed, and I completed all of my miles. (Well into the second week now, so far so good. Hope to post a summary on Friday)

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