Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week of 10.24.11 - 10.30.11

MON. - 0

TUE. - 8 mi. (road and trails) -- a great first ever run as a 34 year old.  I explored the "new" Tomaquag Trail in Hopkinton.  Short but sweet.  A nice and leisurely run on the way out turned into a hard 3.5 mile tempo on the way back to beat the bus home.  Big negative split. [56:12]

WED. - 8 mi. (road) -- ran on my perfectly marked 800 m road section.  6 x 400 with 400 recoveries-- [79,80,81,81,78,79]. Faded at the end, although times don't reflect it.  Maybe my legs were a little tired from yesterday.  Still felt really good to do's been quite awhile.

THU. - 5mi. (road) -- freezing cold rain.  YUCK.  Squeezed in between department meetings and then back to school for Open House.  Double Yuck.  I've been running faster recently.  So I've got that going for me...which is good [35:07]

FRI. - 10mi. (road) -- great run in two different states.  Calves a little fatigued/sore but good pace. [72:09]

SAT. - 5mi (TM) -- boring.  Man I hate running inside but it was too shitty outside.  [37:07]

SUN. - 0 -- awesome.  Slipped yesterday in slushy crap while yanking the boat out of the water and stowing shit.  Although it didn't hurt too badly (able to run on the Dread Mill), now my right hip flexor really hurts.  Bag it.  Feel like a loser but better to wait a day (or two) I guess. 

TOTALS:  36 miles

-->had what was going to be a decent week (finally) in October.  Missed out on a longerish run Sunday.  Alas, instead of being back up in the low 50s where I SHOULD be, I'm mired in the 30s again. Oh well. C'est la vie. Parfois, merde est merde!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week of 10.17.11 - 10.23.11

MON. - 5mi. (road w/some woods) -- a little variety with some bushwacking through fields with no trails.  Nice out. [36:28]

TUE. - 0

WED. - 6mi. (roads) -- soaking wet in the rain.  I really pushed it during points, especially during the hills...just too see.  I felt pretty good. Finally feeling "normal" (almost). Nice. [43:42]

THU. - 7mi.  (road) -- windy.  Legs a little tired. [51:59]

FRI. - 0 -- too busy after school. Puddin' bought a boat. Morone saxatilis, Pomatomus saltatrix, Tautoga onitis, & Sarda sarda beware.

SAT. - 8mi. (road) -- really enjoyed this morning.  I felt great.  Big wedding today in NH! [60:30]

SUN. - 5mi. (road) -- kind of a disappointing end to the week (in terms of mileage).  The run itself was short but at a  faster clip.  [35:03]

TOTALS: 31 miles

-->another low mileage week.  My legs feel fully recovered.  Most of my runs this week were pretty decent.  Unfortunately, I need to get my brain recovered and back on track.  Hopefully next week is better. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week of 10.10.11 - 10.16.11

MON.- 0 -- recovering on the ride home from Albany

TUE.- 0

WED.- 3mi. (road) -- very easy but 1 mile in my legs informed me that its still only a few days out.  Felt good today at school but running inflamed damaged fibers again.  Oh well. On a related note, Mandy is running Hartford this weekend.  I'm excited to watch her but also I can't wait to watch the battle for supremacy up front.  Planning my race watching strategy and what positions/spots to watch the lead pack. Good luck, Fyffe!!

THU.- 0 -- need another day off to rest

FRI.- 0 -- legs feel better.  I wanted to run but logistically, couldn't make it happen.  Sucks.

SAT.- 8mi. (trails) -- Vin Gormley trail.  I saw 0 hunters, (which was nice).  Legs still not 100% but feeling much better than they did. [62:01]

SUN.- 5mi. (road) -- sort of pressed for time.  Felt really good until the last mile.  A little faster than necessary.  Stupid.  Legs got a little fatigued.  [35:36]

TOTALS: 16 miles

-->a very low mileage week but whatever.  The last two runs were enjoyable and although I definitely still don't feel 100% recovered I'm having fun.  Puddin.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2011 Mohawk Hudson Marathon

After months of build up (mental and physical) I finally drove with Mrs. Puddin' to Albany to run the Mohawk Hudson Marathon. Where do I begin?  I learned and experienced so much it is difficult to know where to start. Sorry in advance for the length of this post.  It's cathartic and helps me expel the mental diarrhea that's been rolling around my simple mind for the past few days.

 Ultimately, this race was chosen for a several reasons: its relative proximity to Puddin's hood (3 hour drive), small field (800-900 runners annually), and a net elevation loss (about 300 ft.).  It was my first full marathon so, despite having high hopes/goals, I still wanted it to be an enjoyable and uncomplicated experience. I had goals (A and B) but I didn't want to become a total slave to numbers either.  Just let the race unfold and see what happens......

Everything up to the race went smoothly--bib pickup, hotel checkin, the ritual pre-race pints of beer, etc. I was feeling pretty good about the whole deal.  I slept great and caught the bus to the start in Schenectady with no problems either.  Although I was a little worried, I was surprised by how relaxed I was at the same time.  'Shouldn't I be more nervous about this?' I repeatedly thought on the bus.  The trivial conversation from the runners in the seats around me lulled me into a relaxed state as the river and early foliage rolled by.
The only observation that added to my angst (slightly) was the fact that it felt like we had been on the bus for an hour and driven 50 miles.  Was I really going to run all the way back to Albany?!?

We arrived at the start in a small park where I milled around for awhile and made small talk by a nice, warm fire with a woman from NYC.  I expressed my nervousness and self doubt about what I would encounter at mile 18 and thereafter.  She dropped a great line on me: "Don't worry about.  You simply have to accept the pain.  But whatever you do, don't back off.  Drop the hammer instead.  Let everyone else slow down.  It's supposed to hurt.  Make the hurt count."  So simple yet so Zen at the same time. 

I strolled over to the start to check it out and watched other runners file in as well.  After about ten minutes of wandering around I began a very slow jog to warm up and get the bathroom thing flowing.  Who needs Porta Jons when you've got the woods, right?  I stretched a tiny bit, lubed up and then lined up about 4 rows back.  Everyone was excited and bantered back and forth, awaiting the customary pre-race speech, National anthem, and "go" signal.

Finally we began and I moved out.  I made a solemn promise to myself to run a tiny bit slower than goal pace (for at least the first 3 miles).  About 6:50-6:55 was OK by me, I just wanted to stick with this before picking it up slightly to around my goal of 6:45 pace.  Another (unspoken) goal was to run even splits, or possibly even slightly negative.  Again, let the race unfold and see what happens.  About a half mile in,  I found myself bunched into a group of about 10-15 runners.  They were amicably chatting away about other marathons (namely Boston), where they were from (primarily MA) and what their goal was.  Once everyone realized they were all shooting for 3 hours they made an agreement to run together as a pack.  I, being a newbie, said nothing but settled in with them and quietly kept moving. Maybe I could let them "carry me" and then pick up the pace around 16-18 and do what I intended to do. Let the race unfold....see what happens.

The course itself exited the park, wound down some small roads (with one short, steep downhill) and then picked up the local bike path.  The views along some of the path were excellent.  A lot of elevated vistas overlooking the river, marshy wetlands, and small ponds.  There was excellent birding available but alas, there was not a second to spare on them.  Too bad.  I was glad we were (overall) descending downward, but to my chagrin I realized later that these "giving" downhills were actually "taking" from me.  They were slowly but surely eating up my quads....but I didn't find that out until much later on.

The pack continued onward, most of us quietly keeping pace while others kept chatting away.  This was an entirely new experience for me.  It is one thing to watch lead packs of Kenyans (or Keenyans) and Ethiopians in marathons on television but to be a part of one and take turns trading off leading and bringing up the rear was very interesting.  The entire time I wasn't quite sure if I liked it or if it annoyed me.  Being new at this, I decided it couldn't hurt to stick with them, as long as they stayed around MY pace.  Remain calm and carry on.  Let the race unfold and see what happens. My mile splits for the first 6 were: [6:54, 6:50, 6:38, 6:40, 6:39, 6:49].

I made a concerted effort to hydrate early and often and consumed a little fuel around mile 7.  We continued to wind through very small "crowds" of people, sporadically situated along the bike path.  I was feeling great and just focused on my keeping my form and clicking the "Lap" button at every mile marker.  This second leg of the race was probably my most consistent pace-wise.  I felt great and really thought that as long as I didn't overdo it, this would be a pretty good race.  I must admit here that around mile 10 or 11 I even allowed some mental visions of me finishing strong the last half mile with a smile on my face.  Oh what a naive boy I was. 

Around mile 12 I began getting annoyed with "the wolf pack".  Whenever I tried to move to the front or change position in the pack, the 5 members of some club with yellow singlets were running 4 abreast and taking up the entire width of the bike path.  This didn't bother me when they were keeping pace or even going sub 6:40ish.  However, when they slowed (or felt like they slowed slightly) I wanted to keep going but had difficulty moving around on such a narrow path.  Finally, I managed to squeeze back to the front and after a few minutes I picked up the pace ever so slightly.  I moved out about 5-8 meters in front of everyone else and was quickly reprimanded by the "alpha male"/star runner of the group: "Hey.  Easy there buddy.  Remember the rest of your running friends in the group.  Don't push too hard and mess us up!".  I didn't acknowledge the comment but slowed very slightly back down to the pack.   Excuse me?!?!?  I'm sorry but I never verbally agreed to stay with you assholes.  And, the last time I checked, you guys were shooting for 3:00.  I want sub-3:00 thank you very much!  Maybe I was in the wrong there but.....suck it!  I'm sorry if it is not proper runner's etiquette to push the pace a little.  But isn't this an effing race?!?! Sorry for wanting to beat you douchebags to the finish line.  Oh well. We crossed back under an interstate somewhere around mile 12 and another steep downhill nipped away at my quads (again, completely unbeknown to me).  Another Gu and more fluids.  Let the race unfold and see what happens.   My splits for miles 7-12 were:  [6:46, 6:46, 6:44, 6:49, 6:50, 6:47].

We continued on and ran under quite a few roads in viaduct/tunnels.  It was eerily shady/dark and difficult to see.  However, the sun was climbing higher and it was warming so the shade was welcomed.  I began feeling some minor discomfort here and that alarmed me.  Uh-oh.  I thought I was supposed to feel like a million bucks until at least 16, 17, 18, or after....Oh no.  Luckily, just like the books stated, many times the rough patches subside and you go back to feeling great again.  Also, there were a few points where my left knee (lateral edge) and IT band began bothering me.  Another few minutes of panic set in.  How the hell could I finish if knee pains persisted and/or worsened?!?!?  With 12 miles left, it would be impossible.  Once again, I checked my form (feeling fatigued yet, Puddin'?), mentally and physically loosened back up and the pain went away.  Close one.

Throughout this stretch it made me feel good to watch 5-6 members of the "3 Hour Wolf Pack" fall off pace and drop way back.  I could tell by their form, footstrikes, slouching, and breathing that I (hopefully) wouldn't be seeing them again. The remaining members of the group crossed the 13.1 mark at 1:28:XX.  A tiny bit slower than I had hoped but if I could maintain even splits, I'd be good to go.  Knee pains and very minor fatigue on and off for the next few miles but they quickly went away.   At mile 16 one of the guys near me announced "10 mile race now fellas.  Stick together until mile 24 and then it's on." Once again, I declined comment but reaffirmed that I had no intention of staying with them the entire time.  We then approached a very minor, short uphill and I was admonished again: "Easy.  Don't kill the hill, guy.  You'll kill yourself."  Thanks, Coach.

We exited the bike path and entered into the outskirts of older, industrial Albany.  This was not my favorite part.  After enduring two more steep downhills ("Damn, my quads are starting to get a little tired") we crossed railroad tracks just before mile 18.  Thankfully, no train was rolling through.  Prerace, runners were made aware that we did indeed have to stop for the train at the crossing (they had timing mats set out). I was glad to get by that hurdle.  It now appeared that we would be running several miles through the city now with a lot of traffic along crumbling asphalt, and no longer in the shaded bliss of the bike path.  Big change.  Great timing too.  I was now starting to tire, however, nowhere near as badly as I expected. Let the race unfold, and see what happens.  My splits for miles 13-18: [6:48, 6:46, 6:39, 6:52, 6:43, 6:42].

It was at this point that two other "silent ghosts" in the pack decided to move up.  The first guy surged quickly away at what was probably a 6:15ish pace.  A few moments later the other non-talker pushed ahead.  I decided I'd had enough of the pack thing and decided to go "with" the 2nd emmigrant.  Both of them opened up a sizeable lead over me but around mile 19 I began to reel the second guy in.  At mile 20, I remembered that I was supposed to be hitting the wall.  I still felt good and realized that it had been my fastest mile so far (6:37).  Hell yeah!  I was going to make it!! At the 21 mile marker I lost a little of my mile 20 jubilation and energy but was comforted by the fact that we would soon be turning back onto the bike path along the beautiful river again.  Nice. 

We were on the bike path for about a half mile before hitting mile 22 -- and it was here that everything started to, excuse my french, fall the f*#k apart!!  Now I know where the phrase "the wall" comes from.  It was as though someone flipped a "feel like shit" switch.  Immediately my mind turned to crunching numbers:  "OK.  You'll be OK.  Only a little over 4 miles to go.  Just try and maintain pace.  How much can I afford to slow down?  10 seconds?  Will 7:00 miles cut it?"  I was way too tired physically and mentally to even comprehend any of it. So I simply pushed onward.  At this point I could tell I was starting to look ugly too--slight forward slouch, sluggish leg shuffle, arms crossing over in front of my body, etc.  I simply couldn't do anything to prevent it.

I finally caught the 2nd guy to pull away.  He had to slow down to begin retching/dry heaving.  I couldn't spare a milligram of sympathy.  It then turned into "The Duel In The Sun" between yours truly, near-death Muddy Puddin' and an equally sweaty, distraught, and emaciated runner (the original Wolf Pack deserter).  We took turns passing one another and I found myself just getting pissed off.  I actually thought at one point, "Just friggin' pass me and stay in front.  Stop this nonsense. Please!"  We skirted around the half marathon racers (and annoying walkers) and continued battling onward.  I wanted to quit so badly.

 Let me be honest here with myself as well as with anyone reading this:  Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, prepared me for how I felt at this point.  No matter whom I talked to (Eazy G, KG, various other experienced runners), what books I read, or articles I studied; words could not/cannot do it justice.  It sucked.  I realized that I was going to be cutting the 3 hour thing really close but I still came dangerously close to walking.  I seriously almost gave up the ship.  Somehow I managed to keep going.  I'm not sure how.  But I did.  Guts?  Stupidity?  I don't know....My splits for miles 19-24 [6:57, 6:37, 6:52, 6:50, 6:50, 7:11]. Note the commencement of the crash and burn at mile 24.

I don't remember much about miles 25 and 26 besides pain and fatigue.  That's it.  By this point it was warm and sunny and probably in the mid 70s.  Much too warm for my liking.  At the 25.1 marker (which was actually 12 mile marker for the half marathoners) I begged and pleaded with myself to just keep going.  I had let the race unfold, and now I was just living a bad dream. Splits for miles 25 and 26: [7:04, 7:05].  I know that doesn't seem like a huge drop off but it felt like it.  I'm suprised my pace only slowed that much.

At mile 26, I know the crowd was there.  However, I couldn't really see them.  They may have been cardboard cutouts.  I just couldn't even register their existence.  I couldn't really hear them.  Just Puddin' and his self doubt: Oh man, I don't think I can do this. Where the hell is that friggin' finish line? 

Finally it came.  As we turned a corner I saw it and the clock.  It clicked over to 2:59:00 and I knew I was going to make sub 3.  However, I wish I could say I felt elated and happy.  Instead I just felt the Angel of Death right behind me.  Did I mention it sucked?  I know that all of you realize this simple fact but remember, I was a virgin. This was uncharted territory for me.  And boy, did it ever suck.

My official time was 2:59:21.  Immediately upon crossing, I "took" my medal (they draped it on me as I stumbled past), grabbed water and Gatorade and tried to continue walking.  Mrs. Puddin' found me and congratulated me but I barely heard her.  I shambled off to the side and tried to get my shit together. It wasn't easy. 

Apparently, as others finished, my wife also filmed other various runners as well.  This random guy she found and chatted with looks as banged up as I did and sounds exactly like I felt.

I'm not sure if I second his opinion though. 

At the time I definitely did -- "Never again".  But now? With a legit Boston qualifier under my belt, how can I look at myself  in the mirror and honestly feel that way?  Looking back I now know that I was definitely a little undertrained. Perhaps I overestimated my fitness.  Perhaps I just didn't do enough MP running late in 20 mile runs to practice dealing with discomfort.  Perhaps I could stand to lose 8-10 lbs and not drink so much beer.  No matter what, this I do know: IF there ever is a next time, I know what to do the same as well as what to do differently. 

Man, I love running.......

Stay thirsty, my friends.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week of 10.3.11 - 10.9.11 MARATHON WEEK

MON. - 0

TUE.- 4mi.  (road) -- nice and easy.  Had to keep reminding myself to back off and slow down.

WED. - 7mi. (road) -- 2 mile warmup then 3 miles at MP [20:17] then 2 miles easy. Felt good....but doubts still linger if I can keep that up for 26.2

THU.- 5mi. (road) -- [36:32]

FRI.- 0

SAT.- 3mi. (road) -- easy jog at home before leaving for Albany

SUN. - 27mi. (road) -- Mohawk Hudson Marathon.  Busted out my first ever marathon with a 2:59:20.  I'm pleased but physically beat now, (obviously).  I'll post a write up ASAP.  I know my legions of fans are waiting to hear me wine and complain about my trials and tribulations.

TOTALS: 46 miles