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  2. SD Holiday Half RR

    Finally, it all came together! Backing up a little, I first attempted sub 2 for a HM last January and again in June. While I missed the mark both times, I did have successful training cycles where I lowered my PR from 2:11 to 2:01:5x. I also transitioned from 3 days to 5 days per week running. I spent the summer maintaining my base and then began training for my first full marathon at the end of August (race is in 4 weeks!). Initially, I was aiming to break 2 at a race in mid November but things fell apart 4-5 weeks prior. All workouts that had any intensity were a huge struggle. My coach and I decided to postpone the HM goal and focus on MP workouts and long runs instead. I ran that November HM as a workout which definitely was the right move. After backing off of speed a little in October, I’ve hit the track a few times in the past few weeks and I’ve been back to running well. The San Diego Holiday Half is a local favorite where this is maybe the 5th year it’s been running: it's a point-to-point course with the start line at 731 ft and the finish at 13ish ft. It contains a bunch of rolling hills and is supposed to be an overall enjoyable course (I have not run it before). I ran my first 20 miler the previous Saturday and then did lower mileage and intensity this past week plus I skipped my normal leg strength workout on Wed. I didn't feel completely fresh going into the race but I was ready to go for it! Race morning was a cold 53 degrees for San Diego as I parked around 6am. I had woken up at 5:20am which is my normal time--very nice to not get up earlier than usual! Parking was super easy as there's a giant shopping center 0.5 miles away from the start area. I could have arrived at 7am and had plenty of time. I stayed warm in my car until about 6:45am then went into Starbucks which was a nice alternative to POPs. I felt a little bad for not buying anything but I'm not a coffee drinker. There were maybe a dozen runners in there but no bathroom line, sweet! I slow jogged it to the start line and had about 20 min to spare. For the first time ever, I decided to use bag check so I could hold onto my long sleeve for a few more minutes. After my warm up, it was not cold at all which had me slightly worried that it would warm too quickly. For the past few weeks, it's been 60 at sunrise then 70-something by 8am in full sun. Thankfully, race morning was the first overcast day in forever and it would remain cool and cloudy for the entire race. Plus the dry, windy, fire-provoking nonsense that we've had a lot of lately was absent. I would actually feel a few sprinkles during the race! We haven’t had rain in months so this had everyone looking around like wtf? There are 4 corrals and somehow my guesstimate finish time of 1:59:55 puts me in Corral 1. Ummm, no. Plus the 2:00 pacers are in Corral 2 so that is where I line up. We start 3 minutes after Corral 1 and we're off! My goals for the race are A) sub 2, B) beat PR (2:01:5x) and C) have fun and don't mess up marathon training. The course has it's biggest hill at Mile 1 then is net downhill with rolling hills until Mile 10, then flat-ish to the finish. Coach told me not to kill myself on the hill then for Miles 1.5-10 to "Go, Go, Go"; to take advantage of the elevation decline. I am usually terribly conservative during races, afraid of burnout at the end. This time I planned to stay with the pacers as long as I could. I talked to them in the corral and they planned on even pacing throughout (9:09 pace). I try to keep the pacers nearby for the first mile, slipping a little going up the biggest hill but always within maybe 20-50 ft. Around the first mile split, I hear a jingle and see a lady on the far right side drop her car keys on the ground while getting something out of her pocket. I yell out and point over (I'm almost on the far left side of the 3-ish lanes we're running on) but no one grabs her keys. I turn, and run over and backwards to get them but then see her continuing on ahead, too far for me to sprint with ease. Runners around me yell Good Job! as they realize what I did and I figure I'll catch up to her at some point or worse case, give them to the RD at the end. Another mile goes past and I see the lady ahead has just realized she doesn't have her keys and is looking frantically in every pocket of her shorts and flip belt. I feel a little bad but I'm still too far back to catch her…at least, without potentially sabotaging my race. This is a PR attempt, folks! Luckily, at the water stop she pulls off to the side and almost stops so I'm able to tap her shoulder and thrust the keys at her. She's yelling OMG THANK YOUUUUU!!!! as I continue past and I don't see her again. I'm glad to help her not have a very terrible morning plus it has kept my mind off the fact that the pacers are running sub 9 minute miles. I see a timing mat up ahead and look at my watch: 2.8 miles. Weird, I swear the race emails mentioned splits at 5K, 10K and 10 miles for the live tracking. I note the time at the mat and picture my coach having a heart attack when she sees I've hit the "5K" split at a 40 second 5K PR time, hahaha Miles 1-3 8:59 / 8:54 / 9:06 Around this time, the course goes from a wide road to a narrow bike path. The area around the 2:00 pacers has gotten super congested and I debate what to do for a few minutes. Do I stay with the pacers who are running a tad fast and risk getting run over? Or move ahead and try to avoid getting passed by them later? I feel really good and am running comfortably hard but it's also early in the race. Typically, I look at my watch a million times during a race and run by the numbers. I fear crashing and burning with miles to go so usually if I see a pace that seems too fast for me, I'll slow down rather than just listening to my body. Making the decision to pass the pacers was a key point in the race for me. I even thought about Gonzo Runner (though I’ve never met him!) since I had just read his most recent race report about racing aggressively. Even though I was seeing paces starting with an 8, I felt good and decided to trust my training. This probably only worked because I have been running so much lately! For the majority of the race, I ran the downhills harder and the uphills a little slower, looking at my watch here or there but never focusing on it. If I saw a too-fast-for-me pace on my watch, I simply assessed my breathing and my body. Things kept feeling good so I continued on. Miles 4-6 8:36 / 8:54 / 8:44 Holy crap! I just ran faster than my 10K PR by 30ish seconds!! And....hit the 10K mat around 6.5 miles. Coach will think I'm dying a slow death based on my uneven splits, which she'll expect was inevitable based on the seemingly way too fast first 5K, haha Miles 7-9 8:57 / 8:58 / 8:52 Still cruising and the miles are flying by. I’m really going to do this! Hit an aid station where I had to wait a few seconds for a cup of water. Lots of water jugs but only one volunteer pouring them out. Blech Mile 10 timing mat is at 9.5 miles. What the heck, Timing Company?!? The course has a bunch of small rollers and it’s definitely getting harder to maintain pace. I just think about staying with the folks around me. Next water stop has no water in cups. The single volunteer cannot keep up. Race Fail #1. I’m not dying and it isn’t hot but I could really have used some water. I keep going, slightly disgruntled. Mile 12 finally has some water. I grab a cup and walk twice as long as I normally do to get every last drop, leading to the slowest mile of the race. I am way ahead of sub 2 pace so I don’t freak out. Miles 10-12 9:02 / 9:02 / 9:19 We’re heading toward the coast and it’s mostly flat. There’s a random side road for a little out and back and then we’re heading to the coast again. I focus on moving my arms to take my mind off the fact that my legs feel like they’re numb. We get closer to the beach and with about 0.3 miles to go, I start to speed up for the final push….yet, at the same time wonder how there’s still 0.3 miles to go when we’re almost to the beach. Maybe we run all around the parking lot before the finish? We turn the corner into the lot and BAM! Right there is the finish. Race Fail #2 My watch says 12.89 miles as I cross the finish and I debate for a moment continuing to run to get to 13.1 miles. The finisher chute is pretty congested so I just stop, THRILLED with my splits and PISSED at the short course. Mile almost 13 7:57 (8:55 pace) I finish in 1:55:22 with 8:57 pace for 12.9 miles. My previous PR was 9:13 pace back in June so quite the jump! I figure I could have squeaked under 1:57 if the course was the correct distance since I was just starting to speed things up for the final sprint. Granted there’s a pretty good net downhill for this course but still, I can’t believe I was able to run that fast, for that far! Another success was feeling like I could listen more to my body and ignore (somewhat) the numbers on my watch. Of course, that worked because I actually have the training to back it up right now. Part of me is ecstatic with the race and part of me feels like it doesn’t really count. The course is USATF-certified but I bet the small out and back near the end had a misplaced cone for the turnaround. I have mixed feelings about doing this race again because failing at the course length and inadequate water on the course are 2 big failures. Anyways, I am so happy with myself and everything that was in my control. Two days later and I'm feeling great, nothing blistered, chafed or sore. 4 weeks until RNR Arizona! Spotting DS just before the finish and running over for a high-five... I swear my form is usually better than this DH tried not to get the "no swimming, high bacteria levels" sign in the photo, haha
  3. Today
  4. The Happenings

    Cool running group. I say go back to the gym. Or any gym. Crossfit maybe?
  5. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    You now have a better appreciation for those NFL teams that have Sunday and Thursday games in the same week.
  6. The Happenings

    You had me at tacos and beer.
  7. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    Congrats on the AG win!
  8. Last week
  9. Well That Was Fun! Central Florida Spartan Beast

    These races are made for you
  10. How to Lose A (Non-Runner) In 10 Days

    This is great. Maybe he'll enjoy some nice snow runs soon
  11. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    Some fine racing for both of you!
  12. How to Lose A (Non-Runner) In 10 Days

    I wish I could get my sister to run. But you can't make anyone do anything (and she's just not interested in anything even mildly "sports" related)
  13. The Happenings

    McGruff!! Although he looks a little creepy. Love me some HIIT too.
  14. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    The elusive AG award is elusive no more! I wish I could channel your "go big or go home" mentality as I'm always too hesitant for fear of the inevitable crash and burn. And great job for The Wife! 20 sec PR in a 5K is awesome.
  15. RR Millinocket

    Nice! Seems like 29 would be above average for December in Northern Maine.
  16. The Happenings

    The blingy dinosaur is adorable, and I love the scruffy little tan dog in the center of your group picture. Your running group sounds awesome!
  17. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    Congrats on the win and great job pacing the Wife!! For Thanksgiving this year, we had the privilege of hearing three different recordings of Alice's Restaurant...it was special! This is what happens when you leave the radio on and don't leave the house all day. At least we satisfied my DH's requirement to hear it at least once to make Thanksgiving official. I thought it was just a Philly-area tradition with WMMR. I didn't realize that it is a national event.
  18. The Happenings

    Sounds like a great running group.
  19. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    AG win and PR for TW. Living the dream.
  20. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    Excellent RRs as well. Glad you got the Wife's stubbornness to come out at the end of the race!
  21. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    Nice races, congrats on the AG win. What's the spring half you're targeting?
  22. Dogs and Turkeys and Grape Juice

    A belated two-fer race report. I knew I was going to like this race. We had gotten a flyer about the Atlanta Lab Rescue’s 5K, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, in a swag bag for some other race we’d run this year, and signed up to help support a good local cause. It was a 9am start, which I like because fuck mornings. There was going to be a coffee and doughnut truck parked at the start/finish line. And, of course, there would be dozens of dogs. They were already just a beer truck shy of perfection, but then I checked past years’ results and realized it wasn’t a particularly fast field. Most of the races I run are either huge fields or attended by the local Track Club’s elite team, so I’ve never even sniffed an age group award. Well, that’s not entirely true, I came in second in a small race in NJ a few years back but they only gave awards to the winners. But I’m not really fast enough to be winning anything anyway and I’m in a competitive age group, so I usually focus my post race revelry around the beer tent, not the podium. But while perusing the past results I realized that my usual 5K times would have placed in my age group, and a small PR could have easily been competitive overall. This now went from a “feel good” race to a competitive one. At least, it did in my head. The Wife was planning to jog/walk the race with The Dog, so I did a solo warm-up mile while she avoided saying hi to the people attached to the dogs attached to the butts The Dog was smelling. It was a beautiful morning to run, temps in the 40s with a light wind. But I was struggling to get going. I had only done one or two short interval sessions since Chicago, and the lungs were definitely feeling strained as I tried some strides at the end of my warm-up. I knew after months of marathon training and a mostly speedless few weeks I wasn’t in peak 5K shape, but was still hoping to see some residual benefits of the marathon cycle. I backed off PR hopes and lined up at the front of the small pack at the start line and hoped to stay close to the leaders for at least a little bit. The official starter was a three-legged senior dog who had a little cart his back half sat in to let him run. He was going to get a small head start then duck off to the side to continue his race once we all went by. Seeing how happy he was as we all cheered him on and he got to lead the way made the mass of dog lovers all a little misty eyed, and we all looked for distractions that didn’t involve eye contact. I used this time to scope out the competition and assess my chances at any kind of podium finish. There were a lot of people who looked to be about my age, so I started sorting them by apparel. There were a bunch in sweat pants and wool beanies who I didn’t consider competition. There were a few others who looked fit and were wearing tights, but their shoes were the off-model ones (like New Balance 270 or Nike Solarknit) sold by running brands at big-box stores like Costco or Sports Authority, and look as though they had 9,483 miles on them. So I dismissed them as gym bros or crossfitters. I continued in this manner until I’d whittled it down to 3-4 people who looked to be my age, were dressed appropriately, and had racing flats or at least legit running shoes on. I wasn’t feeling great after my lackluster warm-up, but was hoping for some of that race day mojo to start pumping once the horn went off. Once it did, there was the usual rush of people sprinting out to get into position, and a group of roughly 25 runners broke away and stretched out into a mostly single file line. I worked my way into a slot near the middle of this pack and tried to settle into race pace. The course was an out and back consisting of a straight shot up, over, and down a hill for a half mile or so, then a left turn and another straight stretch along the main road until the turn around. I was guessing a fair number of the people ahead of me would start fading and falling back before long, so my plan was to keep a steady rhythm and let them come back to me while staying as close as possible to those I perceived to be the real competition. As we made our left onto the main road and headed out to the turnaround, I realized the entire out was uphill. Because I’m a masochist I smiled when I saw this, and since I’m also a sadist I planned on using it to break the people ahead of me. My usual strategy in short races is to sneak up on and then charge past people backing off on an uphill, and either demoralize them by how effortlessly I fly by or goad them into giving chase and running my race instead of theirs. I always back off slightly at the crest, partly to regroup and partly to give my mark a glimmer of hope. Then I take off on the downhill, running almost out of control and breaking my pursuer. Because all of my usual running routes have elevation charts like sine waves (well, one’s closer to a cosine, but I doubt Hipparchus or Fourier is going to read this and dispute me), I’m well adapted to rolling terrain and this strategy usually works. I’m typically closer to the middle of the pack though and the hills aren’t usually a mile long, so I wasn’t sure it’d work this time. Nevertheless I made my way up to the first target and took advantage of the music he was blasting (I heard it from his earbuds 10 yards back) to stealthily sneak in behind him. I caught my breath for a moment, and then swung out and put the pedal down to decisively pass him, causing his head to jerk up and breathing to stutter when I popped into his field of vision. I watched in the shadows at my side as he fell back even as I eased off a bit, and then began slowly moving up to reel in the next target. I repeated this a few more times, and combined with the “out too fast” crowd fading away it wasn’t long until I could only see a handful of runners ahead of me. Barring a burn out there was only one of them I thought was close enough for me to catch, so I tried to maintain and recover a little bit on the last of the uphill out stretch, then planned to make a push after the turnaround. Then I heard footsteps behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed a couple pulling up right behind me. From my quick scope, they both passed the “do they look fast enough to worry” test, so I checked my Garmin and realized I had backed off more than I thought. The combination of the long climb, energy expended passing people, and lack of speedwork had me working harder than I’d have liked, but I tried to pick it up again and hold them off as long as I could. I managed to get my two pursuers to fall in behind and draft off me for a bit, and as an unintended consequence of my push I had caught the runner ahead of me. I used the turnaround to slingshot past him, patted myself on the back when I realized he looked about my age, and tried to ride the downhill as close to the edge of out of control as I could. Then I heard the footsteps again. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the woman who I had managed to hold off on the uphill passing me on the down. It was a strong move, and I didn’t know if I could cover it, but I tried to just keep her within striking distance. I could see the people still on the outbound side and knew that we were pulling away from our closest pursuers, and the leaders were far enough ahead that I knew we weren’t catching them. So I focused on keeping the woman ahead of me as close as I could without crashing and letting myself get caught. I tried to count the runners ahead of us, and made out 4 men and 1 other woman. I knew the overall leader looked like he was 16 (and lazily jogging, the little bastard), and recognized one of the guys as one of the runners I’d pegged as competition. I couldn’t make out the other 2 men and tried to calculate the odds that they were both 35-39, but was it was becoming a lot of work to maintain pace and I just resolved to not let myself get passed. As we entered the final stretch, I alternated between trying to push and reel in the woman ahead of me and checking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being reeled in myself. My lungs felt like dried out elastic that had lost its stretch, my legs were pumping pure acid, and I had snot dripping into my mustache. Ah, the sensory stimuli of the 5K. I crossed the line in 21:10, which is only a few seconds off my PR, but about 30 seconds slower than the last half of my most recent 10K. As I caught my breath and muttered mild unpleasantries over my time, I counted the other finishers and confirmed I had come in 6th overall, which is by far the best result I’ve had in any competitive endeavor since the Pinewood Derby (which I absolutely OWNED). The woman who I had chased the entire second half came over and we congratulated each other on a well run race while she waited for her boyfriend to finish. The Wife and The Dog trotted in just as I was finishing my cool-down, and while she got in line at the doughnut truck I checked the official results. The guy I swore was my age was actually 45, and after a moment of debating whether he looked good for his age or I looked bad for mine I checked the other men who’d finished ahead of me, and none of them were in my age group. So...did...did I win? We stuck around for the awards eating doughnuts and petting dogs and then picking dog hairs out of our mouths until the announcements started, and they confirmed I’d won my age group. The emcee making announcements and handing out awards was a little taken back when I walked up, and I realized why once I saw the pictures. After a moment of staring blankly at me and mumbling something about not having any change I told him my name and they snapped back into action and handed me my award and took my picture, which I’m sure won’t make the cut for next year’s promotional pictures. On Thanksgiving every year, the Track Club holds a half marathon and 5K. Neither The Wife or I thought we’d be in shape to race a half and cook Thanksgiving dinner, so we opted for the 5K. I had initially planned on racing, but after the hard effort just a few days before I decided an all out 5K effort probably wasn’t the best idea. The Wife was itching to race however, so I agreed to pace her on a PR attempt. The first ⅔ of this race is almost entirely uphill, but there's a long, fast downhill finish. Which happens to be in front of the old Turner Field, which served as the Olympic Stadium in 1996. This means that the final stretch is not only downhill, but also passes under arches covered in Olympic rings and a mock-up of the Olympic torch. An inspiring finish chute to say the least. But we had to get there first. After a disappointing Chicago result, The Wife was a little mentally scarred and started to back off every time things got uncomfortable, fearing an impending blowout. This is in direct contrast to my racing mindset, which is “if we haven’t blown up yet, keep pushing”. I knew this wouldn’t work for her, so I tried distractions and pointing out things to take her mind off a potential crash and burn. Like the woman ahead of us in the Kona shirt and size XXXXS tights which were somehow still too big and made it abundantly clear she was running commando. Or the pre-teen boy running behind her and tripping over his jaw while he stared. We got through the first 2 miles slightly behind PR pace, but The Wife was looking pretty gassed. I tried subtly pulling ahead to see if she’d follow, but I could tell from her ragged breathing there wasn’t much left in the tank. The Wife isn’t big on mantras or upbeat encouragement, so I didn’t bother trying that. She’s stubborn as hell and has an incredible pain threshold which you’d think would be great for racing, she sometimes just forgets to tap into that. So I decided to try and coax her down that path. Finish line in sight downhill through the Olympic arches, I turned to her and asked how she felt. She gave me an odd side-eye and said nothing. So I leaned in and said “Do you want to feel like you did after Chicago, or Philly, or Publix, or do you want to feel good after this?” She looked at me again from under a furrowed brow, and suddenly found another gear. I could barely keep up with her kick, and she ended up with a ~20 second PR. She's as tough as they come, she just forgets that sometimes. We got home in time to catch Alice’s Restaurant Massacree at noon while I seasoned and prepped my turkey, stuffing, and Thanksgiving trimmings. The rambling spoken word/ folk ballad/ satirical protest song is always my “it’s officially Thanksgiving” moment, and we spent the rest of the day cooking, watching football, eating a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and watching whatever the Giants call that thing they did in the night game. That performance made me glad I picked up an extra bottle of that Russian River zinfandel. Since then, the running has been uneven. But not non-existent. Training for my spring half starts after the new year, so until then I’m just trying not to drink myself to death. At least wine is good for your heart, right?
  23. The Happenings

    Where's Chris? Not at ton has been going on lately. I had planned to jump right back into a training plan right after Rehoboth, but I haven't. I've just been running when I feel like it and I like that! Last Thursday, I finally made it back to my run club. It was a Toys for Tots collection night so I ran over to the toy store just across the street, and grabbed a blingy dinosaur. McGruff and some police officers were there to collect the toys. I am really loving this run club because they do lots of good things for the community, and there are always lots of great new people to meet. As soon as we started running, it started snowing pretty hard. I didn't have a headlamp so I had to stick with someone who did. I ended up running much faster than I intended so it kicked my ass. I was able to hang though! After running two loops of the usual route, we got back to Runner's Roost where they always do a raffle. If you run, you get a ticket. I won a Saucony hat! After that, we always head to Rocko's Cantina for tacos and beer. I'll be going tonight for the ugly sweatshirt run! Isn't it cute?! Monday, I ran five miles after work on the Bear Creek Greenway, just behind my house. As usual, I didn't wear a headlamp and I didn't almost get hit by a bike this time. About a mile and a half into the run, which runs along the Bear Creek and a sewage system, I started smelling these wretched fumes. It smelled like a cross between pain thinner and dead ass. It was really strong and was making me nauseous. I had to smell it for a whole mile, and then turn around and smell it more. The pluses of that run were seeing a small herd of grazing deer, and hearing owl hoots in the woods. Tuesday, we had a high of 69 degrees! I was able to run while it was still light out so I donned shorts and a t-shirt and hit the trails behind the house. I haven't been running on the trails much since it gets dark so early/light so late. I've been saving trail runs for the weekends. I haven't pulled the trigger on joining my old HIIT gym again yet, and now I'm not sure I will. I found out that my coach left which is 70% of the reason I liked that gym. They also changed the name so I'm not sure what's going on there. However, I haven't seen another gym like this and I really love the hour-long HIIT workouts. They are super intense! The first Denali training is a month away, and I'm pretty excited to get the first one out of the way just so that I have more information on what exactly will be happening. That's it for now. Thanks for reading, Chris
  24. How to Lose A (Non-Runner) In 10 Days

    If he can keep running through the holidays, he can run through anything. Way to be a good friend!
  25. RR Millinocket

    We go to Maine every summer to visit the in-laws but are mostly down south. I love the small town races that we've done there....don't know about in the winter though!
  26. Well That Was Fun! Central Florida Spartan Beast

    You're such a badass!! Love this!
  27. How to Lose A (Non-Runner) In 10 Days

    Good stuff! Warn him now about chaffing, code browns and the hopelessness of running without also blooping.
  28. Well That Was Fun! Central Florida Spartan Beast

    Hamstring is still grumpy but I’m just tuning it out.
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