Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yasso Run on The Treadmill

One thing about Yasso 800's is that they are fun BEFORE and AFTER you begin. However, they leave a lot to be desired while I am doing them. Pushing the body to higher limits is a challenge. I have to be very distracted to complete interval runs on the treadmill, so today I watched an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise while I ran.

The first 3600 meters (3 Yasso's) were cool; I knew I could finish without a hitch. By the time I started the fourth Yasso, things were a little different. After the fourth Yasso, my heart rate went down from the mid-160s to the low 150s although it took a while. After mistakenly pressing the "cool-down" button, I had to stop to reset the treadmill for the final 2.13 miles. This was just the break I needed to finish the run. And now that I'm done with the Yasso, I feel like a million dollars. Of course I won't feel that way after I start the next Yasso!

Summary: .75 mi warm-up/cool-down; 6x(800m @ 7:53 w/400m jog).
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Monday, May 17, 2010

In The Rain...

When I took the dog for a walk this morning, I knew I had a tough decision to make: Do I run outside in the rain or hit the treadmill? I thought about it for a minute and decided I didn't want to run two straight days on the treadmill (I plan to do an interval run on the mill tomorrow!) I also knew I couldn't take Isis with me in the rain. If she lost her footing or decided to shake the rain off her coat, both of us could be tossed into traffic inadvertently. She needs the exercise, but I had to leaver at home this morning - we'll hit the road on Wednesday, if possible. Despite the shower, the run was good. Nothing major other than a few leaps to avoid small ponds on the sidewalks of northern Chi Heights. I'm sure people were wondering why I would run in the rain as they drove by. All I can say is once you've developed an affinity for running, a little rain won't stop a run!
Mile Splits: 8:42, 9:31, 8:47, 8:31, 8:01.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

The 2010 Illinois Half Marathon

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, I completed my third half marathon in a year and my second IL Half Marathon with a time of 1:54:19 - another personal record by about 30 seconds! The weather was not awful although by the time the race ended it was hot and humid. The average time for the half was about 2:21 which was 20 minutes slower than last year's time. The race was probably slower due to two factors: 1) the 80%-90% humidity and 2) the likelihood that there were more inexperienced half and full marathoners this year. More than 7% of the entrants were unable to complete the half and full marathons. The good news is that almost 7000 entrants did complete the 13.1 and 26.2 mile races.

Just like last year, there was plenty of electricity in the air just before the race started. This year the 5K race started first and caused a twenty minute delay of the half/full marathons. As I stood there talking to my sister before the race, I could see that almost everyone was hyped! I talked to an older gentleman who said the race was his first and last marathon. He had been training for a while but did not expect to try a marathon again. When the gun finally started, the runners at the end of the pack (me) did not move for almost 8 minutes. After I passed the starting line, I could hear the cheers and see all the people who had come to wish us off. The crowd cheered for us as though we were doing something that would benefit everyone. That's what makes me run faster.

My plan was the same as a last year: to manage the urge to run too fast, I started at the end of the pack and passed up people who were running slower than my goal pace (8:30 minutes/mile). I was able to keep that strategy for the first six miles and then I started to notice that even though I was still passing runners my pace was not quite what it was. I started to move my legs just a little faster as I checked my HRM to ensure my heart rate was not too high. A few minutes later, I got the same feeling, so I pulled my iPhone/GPS out of my pouch and checked my pace. I was astounded to see that I was running almost a full minute per mile slower than my goal pace! I thought, "Man, if this is as good as it gets I will finish slower than last year's half marathon." Well, the competitor in me didn't want that to happen. I decided at mile 7 I would have to turn it up a notch to at least finish with a time that would make my training worthwhile.

By this time, I was almost totally drenched with perspiration. Every two miles as I passed a watering station, I grabbed a cup, took a sip and poured about 75% of the water or Gatorade on my head. Using liquid to cool me down worked for a while. The run also got a little more complicated when we entered Meadowbrook Park at mile 8. Last year we entered the park at mile 5 and by the time we left the park most of the congestion had been dispersed. This year there was congestion all the way through mile 11! The problem with Meadowbrook is that the path through the park is very narrow; only about two or three runners can run side-by-side through the path. On many occasions, I wanted to pass someone who was running slower than my pace. Although I passed a few people, I had to wait until we reached the 9 1/2 mile mark before I could really turn it up. Unfortunately, I was fading fast when we left the park.

At mile 10, I thought this was it, "One more 5k and I'm done!" I knew where I was too. I need to go north on Race street for about 1 mile and then I would head west on Pennsylvania back towards campus. Once I hit Pennsylvania, the street would widen and I might have an opportunity to sprint the last mile or so. I had big plans as I ran past mile 10. When I realized I couldn't run any faster, I became content with my time. Several emergency carts whizzed by and I had to force myself to think positive thoughts. I prayed that no one lay unconscious on the street as a result of the humidity. A few days later I heard that one gentleman did collapse but no one suffered any major injuries during the race.

At mile 11, my legs felt like logs. I thought I was doing pretty good, and my the GPS confirmed that I was running a little less than 9 minutes per mile and I was okay with that. If I just hold on for another two miles I would be good. I took another sip at the watering station and drenched myself. This time the water stung a bit because, I guess, my skin was burning. A few paces down the table and I see a lady with a handful of GU energy packs! Thank you Lord. That was just what I needed. I had used my only GU and was hoping I'd see someone handing them out during the race. Okay, I was good...for another mile.

At mile 12, the GU had totally lost it's effect. I wanted to stop; not permanently, just for a few seconds to think things through. I abided with my conscious desire to rest and pulled over to the side just like a NASCAR driver at a major race. I walked for about 30 seconds or so and then told my self, "You didn't come this far to finish the last mile walking." With that in mind, as heavy as my legs were I went back at it again. Motivation was revived when I saw Memorial Stadium in the background. I could do this. A few winding turns and we would finish by running almost completely around the stadium and through the north entrance. As we ran down Fourth Street, I could see the dorms that housed me and my junk for three years. Okay, enough reflection I thought. I just needed to finish strong!

As the group of runners ran and walked past the south entrance of the stadium, I had a strange desire to just go through the south entrance just like last year. "Maybe no one would notice," I thought. The crowd had formed along the route and I could hear people saying, "Good job, man. Just a little more to go!" I'm telling you if I had not heard those words I would have walked the last half mile. My legs were so heavy, my shorts felt like it weighed a ton. And with every leg movement, I could feel the moisture splashing off my legs and just about everywhere else.

FINALLY, we made the last turn. I passed one more person and tried to put on my game face for the cameras (I really wanted a good picture like last year!) When I got within about 30 feet of the entrance to the stadium, I was greeted with a sea of Orange and Blue on a green background. At last, I was in the stadium. The noise was so tremendous. For a brief moment, I envisioned myself as as runner who was leading the Olympic marathon. Maybe not.

Just as I was having a moment of glory, the agony of (potential) defeat was calling me. I felt something down low and I knew it would not be pretty. I took a few more strides and tried to play it off. But, my face was telling the story that so many runners experience in their lifetime: I was having a sever crap in my right calf. I could see the finish line and just needed a little push. I looked down and passed one more lady. Then I squared my hips with the finish line and tried to turn off all pain receptors. I'm not sure how I looked at this point, but my guess is that it wasn't pretty. One last grunt and I crossed the finish line of instant glory. I had finished the IL Half for the second straight year.

As I slowed down, I could feel myself about to hit the ground. If there's one thing a man wants to avoid, it's falling or stumbling past the finish line. Just as my legs were about to power down, a really nice lady found my left arm pit and held me up. All I recall is that she asked me if I was alright. She asked me another question but it did not register at all. I mumbled something and then said, "Nooooooooo!" She walked with me for a few feet until my legs rebooted, gave me some water, told me to go to the medical tent, and then vanished into thin air. I was kind of hurt. I really wanted someone to take me to the tent because I could not see it. A few seconds later, my brain came back online and I saw the big white tent on the west side line on about the 50 yard line just about even with the finish line (so exactly how did I miss it?)

I grabbed some ice, grimaced for a few minutes, and chugged another bottle of H20. Another gentleman came flying into the tent filled with excitement and pain. We both stared at the guy getting a massage for a second or two and then he told me, "This was great. I just finished my first half marathon in two hours." I told him he did an awesome job. I finished my first half in about two hours last year. I could recall the "Runner's high" after the race too. I was happy from my fellow runner. And, at that moment the pain in my calf started to subside. I was starting to feel like "me" again. I would remain severely sore for a few days, but I had finished a race I had been preparing to run for nearly a year.

Races like the IL Full/Half Marathon are an experience I wish everyone could have. If the IL Half were held again next weekend, I'd be there...seriously!
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