Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Benchmark

I ran a gmap pedometer certified half-marathon yesterday morning as my last hard workout prior to the Baltimore Marathon. I even woke up at 5:15, just like I will on marathon morning, and waited until the marathon start time of 8:00 to begin my run. Usually I begin my Saturday run at about 5:45 so I can get some miles in before my son wakes up, and then we finish the run with a few miles together. Yesterday I ran solo to get a feel for where I am as far as my ability to hold a steady pace for several miles. My son woke up earlier than usual, especially for a Saturday, around 6:15. After breakfast, he helped me gather my gear (shoes, and camelbak), and fuel (grapes - I’ve never tried eating those fancy gels and gues, maybe I’ll get some free samples at the race expo). After that we worked on a Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle and read about Nimo and his lucky fin.

By 8:00 I felt pretty good. I begin most Saturday runs with a slow jog to loosen up the legs. But having been awake and up for a few hours naturally stretched my muscles and I was able to comfortably begin running at a faster pace. Except for the very high humidity, it was nearly perfect running conditions (overcast and ~65 F). I felt strong over most of the route, which included big hills over miles 7 to 11, and finished in just under 1:40. I am happy with where I am and think that a 3:20 marathon is reasonable. Of course a 1:40 half-marathon doesn’t automatically translate to a 3:20 marathon, however, I ran yesterday on tired legs and yesterday’s hills were longer and bigger than the marathon course hills, and there were no cheering crowds and bands playing along the route yesterday which can contribute to “marathon magic.”

I learned a very good lesson yesterday too. Even without the cheering crowds and bands along the route, I felt so good and ready to go at 8:00 that I did the first mile in 7:00 flat. I averaged 7:37 for the entire run, so to begin with a 7:00 was starting out too fast. The Baltimore Marathon’s first three miles are uphill, and with the added excitement of running with thousands of people I will have to really concentrate to run at a pace that feels way too slow. A few 7:00 miles at the start of that course will make for a bad marathon experience for me. Now it is time to rest up, fuel up, and mentally prepare for marathon day. Yeah!

Friday, September 26, 2008

2 Weeks and Counting

It’s just about here. The Baltimore Marathon is only two weeks away and tomorrow is my last big preparation workout; thirteen or fourteen miles hard. I have run one other marathon, Green Bay in 2003, but this time I feel much more prepared, although still very inexperienced at the marathon distance. Tomorrow’s workout will be a gauge of where I am. I have not trained with any specific time goal in mind, and this isn’t a must-do situation, not for me anyway. This entire marathon process is just another step in the road, a log book of entries to review and improve upon for the next process. I have enjoyed the evolution of increased distances and faster speed workouts, but most of all I have enjoyed the additional miles with my son; that is our time. Whether “honking” at the geese we see in the park, or discussing Thomas the Tank Engine and his useful friends, it makes everything simple. While I doubt he realizes it, my son has been a good coach, because simple running is good running.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Running into the Sunrise

One thing I have enjoyed as summer turns to fall is the later sunrise. I’ve been heading out for my Saturday morning run at about the same time each week since June, which is generally between 5:30 and 6:00. There was plenty of light by 5:30 in June and July. Now that it is mid-September, the same brightness doesn’t occur until 6:15 or 6:30, and I kind of like running in the dark. Running is a nice way to view a sunrise. And tomorrow morning will be another good day to see the sunrise. Mile repeats in the park before running a few miles with my son and dog. Cheers!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Tortoise or a Hare

I did my last long run, a twenty-five miler, before next month’s marathon. I did about sixteen with my neighbor over the real hilly part, and finished the last nine relatively flat miles on my own. I did not run with my son or dog because there was a good chance of rain, and I’m not sure I would have made it very far; the last five miles were especially tough. Lesson learned; it may be better in the next marathon training cycle to not be satisfied with a twenty mile run, but to incorporate another twenty-five miler into my training. I know there is something called “marathon-day magic” when everything will come together, but yesterday was a rather humbling experience. Now I must concentrate on the mental aspect to maintain my confidence in running strong for twenty-six miles. I may reshape my initial race-day strategy and remember that it is better to make steady progress than to fade like a rabbit.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big Cats and Falling Fish

I did mile repeats yesterday in the Perryville Park, which is a nice place to do that because the road that loops around the park is about a mile. On my way home through the VA Hospital grounds I saw a big feral cat. There are many feral cats that live in the VA/Park area and a lot of them get quite large as they are well fed by visitors. As I neared the cat I startled a bird of prey that was in a tree just between me and the cat. There are numerous birds of prey that reside in and around Perryville, including osprey, hawks, and even bald eagles. I was not able to identify the type of bird I startled, but I know that it was a bird of prey because I did catch a glimpse of a rather large bird, and the fact that I was nearly hit with a fish as it flew away. Apparently I chased the bird away from breakfast. I really didn’t mean to do that. I guess the cat will have another healthy meal. I’m glad the fish didn’t land on me. I don’t know what I would have thought, but being hit with a fish is the last thing on my mind during a morning run.