Update and Goals

I ran the 8K Book’n It for the Library race yesterday. Going into it I was tired and my legs are still tight (this is my own fault) since the marathon, so I didn’t expect a great performance from myself. It wasn’t chip timed and I don’t think our times have been posted online yet, so I don’t know how it compares to the only other 8K I’ve ever run, the Turkey Day 8K. My big goal for the day was to beat Bob (our 86 year old local running legend), which I did. It was a fun race.

What I learned (or re-learned) from the race was that I don’t know how to run short races. Short races are actually more difficult for me in a way. By short I mean anything below a half marathon distance. When I run marathons or half marathons I know how to pace myself, but with a short 8K race I’ve got no idea. It’s a short distance so I should be able to go out faster from the beginning, right? But how much faster? And since I have so successfully avoided doing any speed work all this time, I really have no clue how fast I can run.

Which leads me to the giant jumble of goals I’ve got to sort out. I think I have too many to tackle all at the same time.

First off, I realize that doing some speed work would be good for me. If nothing else, it would help me in these shorter races. Second, I need to start training for the Blue Mountain 30K. I’m neither a trail runner nor much of a hill runner, so I really need to get on that. And since it’s a 30K I’d like to just keep a decent distance base rather than having to train back up. I have also had an idea in my head to start doing some back to back weekend runs to help improve my recovery. And I’m trying to decide which races to run this fall. I really like the Sweathouse Half, but does it fit into my training for Blue Mountain? And I’m registered for Diva Day this year, and have the most perfect costume. But it’s right after Blue Mountain. I will probably be very slow.

I feel really lucky to live in a community where one of my “problems” is that there are just too many races to choose from. That seems like a good problem to have.

Also, I need to find the motivation to do core and upper body strength work. I was so good for the first 1/2 or 2/3 of Marathon training last year, but since then I’ve been terrible and that needs to change.

So to recap the goals:
Speed work
Hills and trails
Maintaining distance base
Back to Backs
Upper body and core strength

It doesn’t look that overwhelming on the screen, but I haven’t yet needed to draw up my own training plan, so I’m not sure where to start.

Additionally I’ve decided that at some point I’d like to run the Missoula Half Marathon, but I don’t want to do it unless I’ve done or have registered for a full somewhere else that same summer. (Apparently I have to do at least one full marathon each year. Or so my brain tells me.) So I’m looking for affordable marathons in other cities, particularly cities where I have friends who might be willing to put me up for a night or three.

So as you can see, I have no shortage of goals at the moment. This may be why I didn’t experience the blues after the marathon this year.

I’ll probably be tracking some of these goals here, as I go along. So check back if that sort of thing is of interest to you. In the mean time, enjoy running!

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Failing to Catch Imaginary Bob

I ran the Snow Joke half marathon yesterday. My intention going into the race was just to run for fun, enjoy the scenery and not worry about time. Those plans sort of worked out, and sort of didn’t.

This was my first time running the Snow Joke, but I doubt very much it will be my last. The course is really lovely, the race itself is the least expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of ($15 for the entrance fee and an optional $15 for a t-shirt). If you read through all the pages at the website, you’ll find some things that rub me the wrong way, but not enough to cause me to forgo the race.

I caught a ride to Seeley Lake with buddies from my running class and that was lovely. I hadn’t had much of a chance to chat with these ladies before so I was really happy for the opportunity to ride with them. We’d all heard stories about the long lines during registration so we left relatively early and got to town at a decent hour. It turns out that the organizers had made some changes this year so things went a bit more smoothly than we anticipated and the race started pretty much on time.

My buddies and I started off the first little bit of the race just jogging, to let all the faster people pass us, before setting our timers to 30/30 for run/walk/run. The front of the pack zoomed on down the road and the herd thinned out fairly quickly. As usual, once we started our timers, we began to play leap-frog with runners near us. We did gain on and pass a number of other runners, and even gained another running buddy for a while, in a gentleman who was having some trouble with his shins. He hung with us until the pain worked itself out, and then off he went.

On the up-slope of the biggest hill in the race (around mile 3) we leap-frogged for a while with a young man who was both tall and otherwise large. We were quite impressed to see him running and tried to be positive and encouraging as we leap-frogged and then passed him.

A little while after that, we caught up to Bob. For those of you from other places, Bob is an 86 year old local runner and bit of a legend, who runs all the races. Bob is great and many of us often speak about how we’d like to “grow up to be like Bob” meaning we want to keep running into our 80s and 90s and even beyond.

We leap-frogged with Bob for a while and then pulled ahead of him on the hill. But then, Bob overtook us on the downhill slope and pulled away a little. We weren’t too worried about that. I’m not sure what my buddies had in mind, but I figured we’d pass Bob eventually, and if we didn’t, as long as we kept him in our sights, I could take off towards the end and pass him if I wanted.

That plan seemed very do-able until the debacle at the aid station at mile 6. Two of my buddies needed to visit the porta-potty, and I was fine waiting for them. Except, the young man I mentioned previously, jumped in line and got into the potty before the second one of my buddies and he was in there for ages and ages. I’m guessing that he doesn’t know how to eat the day before a race yet, and had some serious digestive issues. While I do feel some sympathy on that count, it really did slow us way, way down and that made us all a bit cranky.

After we were finished at the aid station, I was pretty driven to pass the young man at least. My buddies had the sense not to let me pull them along too much, so I ended up running for a while with one of our other running buddies and then even he dropped back. From around mile 8 I was on my own.

For a while, I just ran a comfortable, but slightly faster than usual pace, and enjoyed passing people as I went. After a while, I began to wonder if there was any chance of catching up to Bob. In all reality, there probably wasn’t ever a chance that I could have pulled that off, but it motivated me to go a bit faster.

As I rounded a corner around mile 9, I was sure I saw Bob up ahead. I picked up the pace a bit and before long I caught up to the person I thought was Bob, but it wasn’t Bob. But then, up ahead, I saw another Bob, and off I went. Once again, when I caught up to that person, she wasn’t Bob and didn’t actually look anything at all like him. She just happened to be wearing something blue.

But wait! There he is!  That must be Bob there! I thought, as I came up a hill and around a corner. Upon catching up to this new Bob I had to have a good laugh at myself. It was a mailbox. A blue mailbox, but still just a mailbox.

For the next couple of miles I continued to catch up to one Bob after another, but none of them were actually Bob. Finally, I tried to catch one last Bob as we came up the hill at the end of Boy Scout Road, before the turn back onto 83. But of course, he wasn’t Bob either.

I followed a small pack of runners across the street and into the home stretch, but as I turned that corner I became a bit disoriented. I hadn’t noticed any markers pointing us that direction, and I felt certain we’d turned the wrong way. I slowed down considerably, waiting for them to discover their error and turn around. But they hadn’t actually gone the wrong way, and I eventually figured that out when I saw them turn the corner to the finish line, and sped back up.

As I approached the finish, I could hear a runner behind me and I was bound and determined not to be passed so close to the end, so I put every bit of energy I could into speeding up and crossed the finish a few seconds before she did. After getting my timing chip clipped off my shoe, I wandered back out to the corner to wait for my running buddies. I drank my water and cheered everybody in, and before too long there they were. As they came around the corner I fell back in and ran those last few steps with them and then met them on the other side of the line.

We all made it in under 3 hours, even after having so much time basically stolen from us by the young man and his digestive issues.

Here are the times my watch shows for each of the 13 full miles, so you can see exactly what happened.
Mile 1 12:34:51
Mile 2 12:40:00
Mile 3 12:46:00
Mile 4 12:59:00
Mile 5 13:06:00
Mile 6 13:17:00
Mile 7 18:07:00 (Look at how much time we lost!)
Mile 8 12:30:00
Mile 9 12:20:00
Mile 10 12:28:00
Mile 11 12:25:00
Mile 12 11:45:00
Mile 13 12:10:00

In the end, I caught up with at least 6 imaginary Bobs, including the mailbox. But I never did catch up with the real Bob. Bob finished in 2:48:47 and I finished in 2:52:43. I had a great run, through beautiful country and except for that delay, I enjoyed it very much.

RealBob

Here is a pic I took of Real Bob that first time we passed him on the hill around mile 3. He really doesn’t look much like a mailbox.

 

The Sweathouse Half Marathon

The Sweathouse Half Marathon follows a really gorgeous course through the woods and fields outside Victor, MT. It was a hazy day, smoky day thanks to all the forest fire smoke, so the cellphone pictures I took are even a bit worse than they would have otherwise been. I need a decent little camera, I think.  Nevertheless, here is a little peek at the course.

I ran the race with an awesome lady who was in my pace group during the Galloway class and who I run with often on Saturdays. Running with a buddy really makes so much difference, especially when you have someone smart and interesting to chat with. Periodically we were also joined by a gentleman who trained for the Missoula Half with our class, as he was working on finding his best pace. Looking at the posts in our Facebook group this morning there appears to be a strong sentiment that running with a buddy is the way to go. I know a lot of folks like to run solo and find it really relaxing and refreshing to do so. But for many of us, running with a friend helps keep us motivated, entertained and gets us through the rough patches. I am still surprised that I prefer running with others to running on my own. In so many other aspects of my life I’m an introvert and often prefer solitude. The lesson there is, don’t assume you will like or dislike running with others based on your attitude towards the rest of life, at least for me.

Prior to the race I’d been told by a few people that there were only two or three hills of significance, of which one was quite steep but also quite short so I was mentally prepared for that as much as I could be without having run the course before. The steep, short hill is right around mile 10 and was exactly as described. It’s a challenging little hill, but thankfully quite short and very satisfying to conquer.

The course was very, very well marked with orange and green spray painted arrows, and little bits of encouragement as well. I wish I’d taken a few pictures in places where they’d painted things like, “1/2 way! Woo hoo!” or “It’s a short hill! You got this!” but I doubt they would have come out.

My goal for the race was to have fun and run happy, and I think I knocked it out of the park in that regard. I don’t have an official time yet, and I managed to forget to stop my watch until I’d been standing around a little bit at the end, but I believe that my time was very close to 2 hours and 45 minutes. It seems that the 12 minute, 45 second pace is where I am most comfortable at the moment. Interestingly, based on my Magic Miles from earlier in the year, that is exactly what my training pace for a half marathon should be. Given that I’m running to have fun and finish rather than running to compete, it’s not surprising that I am sticking to my training pace. My marathon finishing time was less than two minutes short of the predicted finish at my training pace, so it would seem that Galloway’s predictions are quite accurate for me, once I take into account my total lack of competitiveness and focus on the training pace column.

I did have a short rough patch around mile eleven, but it passed quickly. I think I’ve gotten really used to my Saturday morning routine, which includes a coffee break around that point, after the breakfast run, before I run home. I was also quite a bit hungrier after the race than I usually am after a 13ish mile Saturday morning breakfast run. I am wondering how much of that was mental. A local business, Cowboy Troy’s generously provided free pizza and beer after the race, but sadly wheat and I are not friends so I had to pass. We also received a black cotton event t-shirt and a finishers medal.

My Missoula Marathon 2012 medal on the left and my Sweathouse Half Marathon 2012 medal on the right.

As The Accidental Athlete pointed out recently, it’s not really a collection until you have more than one, so I have now officially begun my race medal collection. I hope to get many, many more.

Nearly all the races coming up in my area for the next several months are 5k races. Even though 5ks don’t spark my interest, I may have to run a few just to keep my head in the game, as they say. And if a good opportunity comes up to travel to a not-too-distant half marathon, I still plan to stay ready to do that without having to train up for it.

The next Missoula Marathon is over 307 days away, but I still plan to be there and be ready to have fun and run happy.  I’ll be back to my Tips for New Runners series in the next day or two, so keep an eye out for that. Happy running!