Monday, July 27, 2009

Mama... come quick! I found my rhythm!

Just like Steve Martin in "The Jerk", I recently discovered something about my rhythm. Or rather, about my biorhythm.

Do you believe in biorhythms? Labeled a "pseudoscience" by some, I became a believer in the cyclical ebb-and-flow of awesomeness during the Torchlight 8K race in Seattle last Saturday night. I've created a fairly sophisticated illustration (below) to walk you through this race report. The chart flows left-to-right from the moment I woke up, to whenever it was I passed out.
7am: Wakey wakey eggs and bakey. Or just skip the breakfast and pour a beermosa. Feeling pretty good here. Yeah, sure... there's a race later, but that's a loooong time from now.

10am: I have a great idea... how about some yard work? After all, I've almost recovered from last weekend's bout with shovel-and-rake (in which I managed to fall on my head, be nearly crushed by a yard waste container, and strain my back in separate incidents). The awesome level is peaking. I'm good at yard work. It's hot. Here, have a PBR.

12pm: You know what goes well with yard work? Painting, that's what. It can't possibly hurt to spiff up the house a bit while I wait for race time to come around. In fact, if I have a beer (just one, mind you) the carbs might actually prove beneficial later.

3pm: On the bus to downtown. Fading. Just a little. A nap sounds kinda nice.

4:15pm: Race organizers recommended I show up at 4:30 to pick up my number and packet. After all, the lines will be huge. I'll show them. 15 minutes early, suckers!

4:20pm: Wow, that line moved fast. I guess now we... wait.

5:00pm: And wait.

6:00pm: Is there someplace I can lay down?

6:30pm: START! Alright, this won't be so bad. No, nevermind. This pretty much sucks. Ok, just settle into a pace and don't lose sight of that guy in the tube socks up there... stick with him! Damn, that guy's fast. He must be doping. Here, I'll run with this 11 year-old kid for awhile. There, that's b... hey, slow down! Little doper.

6:50pm: Running down 4th Ave in front of thousands of people waiting for the parade to start. Little kids jump out to high-five the runners. I want to acknowledge 'em. Really I do. But they're kind of pissing me off with all their "energy" and "enthusiasm" and what-not. Just run.

7:03pm: Ok, the finish line is just around that corner. I think I have one more kick left in me (so my wife thinks I'm a stud). Here we go! There, I can hear her off to the left cheering louder than everyone else's wives combined. Spirits lifting. Just. Stomp. The line.

7:15pm: Beer me, baby.

8:00pm: Now this is fun. I'm good at parade watching. Next year maybe we'll just skip the whole "running" part.

Seafair Torchlight 8K | Saturday, July 25, 2009
Time: 33:50 | Pace: 6:48 | Place: 189/2681 | Age Place: 11/187

Monday, July 20, 2009

What's next?

I told myself (and a select few in the circle of trust) that if I didn't absolutely hate marathoning after Missoula, there was a small, outside chance that perhaps I maybe might possibly consider entertaining the thought of doing another one.

Ok, Portland Marathon. Here we (probably) come!

My goals will be more concrete this time, and the training more marathon-specific. There are about 10 training weeks left, with a 10-day taper at the end. I hope to knock 17 minutes off my Missoula time, for a 3:15.

I want to try something a little unorthodox for training; alternate speed and distance weeks. It would break down something like this...

On speed weeks, run 5-7 miles 4x per week, including at least one hill workout and one tempo run. Do track or hill work on Saturdays that builds in intensity over the 10 weeks. Weekly mileage: 25-35. On distance weeks, run 6-8 miles 4x per week. Do long runs on Saturdays that build in distance from 15 miles in week 1, to 28 miles in week 10. Weekly mileage: 40-60.

My thinking is that mixing up the workouts will shock my body into quicker improvement. I'm leaving two days of rest per week mostly because I like to do things other than run. Like sit on the beach with a cold one.

Anyone have experience with a plan like this? Or, what kind of plan have you used to improve speed after a first marathon?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Missoula Marathon - 15 pictures

These pictures will tell a lot of the story from my marathon. You won't, however, see the to-do list I wrote the night before as I paced my Missoula hotel room. A list containing such gems as "take a shower", "get dressed", and of course the unforgettable "lube up". But you will see what my dad saw as he stopped every couple miles to document my progressive suffering and deteriorating form (thanks, man). And you'll see what I meant in the first post when I told you, this was all about family.

Pinning on the number.

My biggest fan and unquestioning supporter. My Lisa. Just out of frame, the giant pepperoni stain on my sweatshirt.

See, there's that stain. Very, very classy. Dad and I at the start.

After the gun. Third guy back is my cousin, who won the race in course-record time.

I ran my first couple miles very easy and felt great.

After seeing these pictures, I have dubbed my left hand "the claw", and vow to fix this disturbing form flaw.

This is what we call "heavy legs" at about mile 20. Sweet ride in the background. "Ok, they're not 20's, they're 10's. But I keep 'em clean."

Return of the claw.

A really pasty guy crossed the line just before me, but I looked way cooler. Fist pump, yo.

You know your dad's proud when he doesn't ask you to put a shirt on for the hug-shot.

My mom and Dave. Moments like this are fleeting. But I'll never forget.

My in-laws Bob and Kay stayed in town an extra day just to see the finish.

I insisted on a trip to the salad bar before my nap. Yep, always putting good health first.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Missoula Marathon 2009

"Last mile, buddy. Remember this."

As I pounded out my last, painful strides on the Missoula asphalt, my dad rode alongside on his bike and spoke these final words of wisdom. "Remember this." He had come from Seattle to be a part of this day and ridden the entire marathon route, stopping every few miles to snap a photo and give a little encouragement.

My legs lightened, then disappeared.

I rounded the last corner onto the Higgins Street Bridge. And there, on the left, was my mom, cheering with hands in the air, and my stepdad smiling ear-to ear. "Go, Michael!" They had loaded me up with homemade carbs the day before, and driven four hours just for this moment.

I kicked hard and challenged the guy next to me, "Let's go!"

Exhausted. Don't fall. Stay up. I knew Lisa, the kids, and my in-laws were right there. I could hear the cowbell. Lisa had gotten up at 4am to drive me to the start. Didn't want to miss a single moment. She had encouraged me through months of training, put up with my stress and worry on this "vacation", and even helped the kids make big posterboard signs for the finish.

I put one hand in the air and stomped the timing mat.

Two of my dad's old Montana running buddies were the first to find me. "You're in the club now." Then came Lisa, glowing with excitement and wrapping herself around me for the best hug ever. Next my kids, not normally out of bed before noon in the summer. Suddenly everyone was there. The picture I had painted in my head, the one which kept me going through the thousands of steps now behind... the picture had come to life.

There's nothing particularly heroic about running 26 miles. Just about anyone can put one foot in front of the other for a few hours. It was not a sense of having "conquered the roads" that made me feel like a hero in Missoula last weekend. It was my family's love. And that is what I will always remember about my first marathon.

Missoula Marathon | Sunday, July 12, 2009
Time: 3:32:12 | 13mi Split: 1:42:52 | Pace: 8:06 | Place: 80th of 615