Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Pose

Remember when Desmond Howard emulated the pose of the Heisman Trophy statue after a big play against Ohio State?

Well, apparently the Shutts strike the same pose when crossing the finish line. Check out my finish photo from the race last weekend compared to Beth's from the Best of the US last October.

We're always going for the watch to get that accurate time and have a painful look on the face at the finish!

Here's a few more photos that can be found from the race set at

Pre-race warm-up for Beth, Karen, and I (JT's saving his bullets for the race)

Starting out the race near the front

Kicking it in to the finish. I always seem to put my head down for a stride or two when I'm trying to dig a little deeper. Not too great of form from a physical standpoint, but mentally it helps me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buffalo Creek 1/2 Marathon RR

Another fine day along Buffalo Creek in Freeport.

The weather could have been a tad bit warmer, but it didn't rain and ended up in the high 30's. And, just in case Jen Harrison checks this out--no the snow was more in the center of the state by State College. This year Beth was running also as a tuneup for Clearwater and my cousin K and her dad came along and ran also.

We had this elaborate logistical plan of positioning of cars since this is a point-to-point race. It involved three cars--we leave two (one for Beth & I; one for K & UJ) at the finish line so we didn't have to ride the shuttle back. Then we all head up in one car up to the packet pickup and start. We had to figure out what bags to put in what car and what keys needed to be carried during the race and what bags to drop off, but it all worked out smoothly.

To the race, I've been happy with my training all fall balancing with the XC guys, Beth, and my own long runs. Last weekend, I averaged under 6:30 pace for a 14-mile segment of a 17-mile run and felt like I had some left. So, I figured I'd try to better my 6:00 pace from last year's half and see what happened. We all warmed up together and had some nice conversation catching up on K and her life. A couple pit stops and a couple striders later and it was time for the race.

Having done it last year, I knew the course layout and the level of the field. I was 11th last year and figured I could sneak in to the top 10 this year having the marathon training base underneath me. Off we go and I was 9th or so a mile in to the race. Last year, our places from the first mile were just about the same as we finished so I figured I just needed to settle in and hit my splits.

This is a downhill point-to-point course, so that definitely skews the splits some. At the same time, the majority is on a crushed limestone rails-to-trails course, so that neutralizes some of it (but it's still pretty fast!!). Mile 1 I'm out in 5:28 and rolling. Here's the rest of the splits and some commentary:

Mile 2 - 6:04 (the only real uphill in the race)
Mile 3 - 5:44
Mile 4 - 5:41
Mile 5 - 5:44
Mile 6 - 5:46
Mile 7 - 5:51
Mile 8 - 5:50
Mile 9 - 5:54
Mile 10 - 5:58
Mile 11 - 5:54
Mile 12 - 6:02
Mile 13 - 6:00
13.1 - 0:35
Total 1:16:32 - 5:50 pace - (1:19:06 last year)

From about 1.5 miles in until 10 miles in, I was running side-by-side with another guy (last year I was in a pack of 5) and we just steadily worked our way up, picking off one person around mile 6 and one around 8. I was feeling good, but didn't know what I had left hitting these 5:50's, but I just tried to hang with the guy beside me.

We closed in on the 3rd place guy around mile 10 and I could tell my running partner was breathing pretty hard. We had just caught said 3rd place, so that guy probably was losing some. All of the sudden, I shifted my entire mindset to just clicking off miles to actually RACING. This hasn't happened for years if you don't count trying to outkick people on the homestretch of races. I thought, "Okay. 2.5 miles to go. I feel good, let's surge and see if they go with me." Surge happens and they didn't respond. Hmmm....

I hit the 11 mile marker and just hit my watch to get the split but don't even look at the time since I'm now racing vs just hitting times. There are some curves in the trail since it goes along a creek, so I even tried to put in a few surges around turns. All those HS XC strategies were coming back to me! Since Beth and I train on the trail almost every weekend, I knew the remainder of the course pretty well and I started mapping out the strategic places to sneak in some surges.....actually I'd like to think that but I was time-wise probably just running as hard as I could and running scared so they wouldn't catch up to me.......

What the heck--I was in 3rd place with just a little more to go! I get to about a 1/2 mile left on the trail (1.5 miles left in the race) and I knew the trail changed from the crushed limestone to blacktop, so I put on another surge (at least in my head). I pass the 12 mile mark and just hit the watch and get ready to leave the trail for the final 0.8-ish on roads to the finish. There was an uphill switchback to a bridge and then into town.

I was mapping out my final surge strategy up this hill when I see this guy jogging back towards me with his hands up in the air. It was the 2nd place guy and he missed the switchback off of the trail and had to come back. He yelled out, "Where to we go?" I said back (out of breath), "Up the hill and over the bridge in to town." Now, he's 50 yards behind me. So, I'm in 2nd place (in sort of a cheap way). I felt bad that he didn't make the turn (last year they had a person at the turn) and had my mind made up that I'd slow up at the finish since he earned 2nd but just got off course (after the race, he said he lost more than 30 seconds there).

But, no worries as he flew past me with about 800m left. He happens to be one of the better runners in the Pittsburgh area after all. I follow him down the hill, we make a left turn at the 13.0 mark, I look over my shoulder and see that the other two guys (the former 3rd place and the guy I ran most of the race with) were too far back to get me. I split my watch at 13 and then just focused on kicking it in as best as I could and cross at 1:16:32--a 2.5 minute improvement over last year!!! And, as Beth's triathlon posse would say, a 'podium' finish--third place. Wooo hooo!

And, it was a good day all around. Beth beat her PR in the 1/2 marathon by 3:15 and was the 2nd female. My cousin ran well and won her age group and finished 5th or 6th female OA. My uncle, coming off of sickness and injury issues, almost equalled his 1/2 marathon time from Pittsburgh.

After the race, some bagels, Eat'n Park Smiley Cookies, Pizza, bananas, and other stuff to refuel as Beth and I then go over to the YMCA to swim since Beth had a workout to get in (those crazy triathletes!!!). She did a real workout. I just meandered back and forth doing slow laps except for being a rabbit for the 2nd 25 on a couple of Beth's 50yd repeats.

A stop by GetGo for a footlong for lunch, pick up the car, a PSU shoutout win (great job, defense!!), house clean, and now it's time for bed. Good day, indeed!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PSU, Cold Weather, and Half Marathon

That's what's going on right now....

Last weekend, I went up with my college buddy (and fellow IE graduate) B as he had tickets to the BIG Penn State-Eastern Illinois matchup........okay, not too big. Eastern Illinois is a 1-AA team and people outside were trying to give away tickets. And, as evidenced by the picture below when JoePa led the team onto the field, the student section wasn't all that enthused about arriving punctually to a noon start against an inferior opponent. PSU won 52-3 and it was about that close. PSU did pretty much whatever they wanted. Right before halftime, EIU was actually driving down to about the 10, but Navarro Bowman picked up a fumble and ran it back in a James Harrison-like play for 90 yards an a touchdown. Game over even though it wasn't even halftime.

Nevertheless, it was a great experience being back up in Happy Valley. I sent a message to Beth at one point after I did a short run on the PSU golf course (site of the XC Big Ten Championships in a few weeks) and past my old apartment that I was just going to stay up there and that I'd see her at the end of October when she came up for the XC meet.

One of the neat things about my friend B is he's involved in different things. First of all, he's one smart dude as he got his PhD in IE from PSU. Secondly, he tries new things. He told me a few years back that he signed up for a standup comedy class. I thought he was kidding, but he actually did a few local shows.

He also told me he was experimenting with growing square watermelons. SQUARE watermelons? That's what he said. He told me over the weekend that this past summer he experimented with seedless, HUGE barrel, and other types of watermelons. He brought a few with him that Beth and I had (they were great!) and of course Roxy was very intrigued by the whole watermelon thing.

On Tuesday, I helped out with my second college fair of the fall. This was up in the North Hills at LaRoche College. There was some registration snafu's so we weren't in the E's by Edinboro, but rather way in the back. We're in the back row kind of in the middle of the picture with the blue tablecloth. Still a good time, but people are much more in a hurry to get out of there by the time they get to the last few tables.

I say 'we' because I found a fellow Etown-er in the Pittsburgh area willing to give up a night and share about Etown. Beth and I met TF back in March at the Spring Thaw. That was my DNS race due to the ankle injury playing basketball. Since I wasn't racing, I was hanging around the finish line while Beth was out there and these two parent-age people came up to me and commented about the Etown Hoodie I was wearing. They said that their daughter went to Etown and ran there. Small world! So, long story short, I recruited a new alumni to come to the college fair and hopefully this will DOUBLE the coverage of the Pittsburgh area for college fairs by Etown alumni (since 2 is twice as big as 1) in the future.

This weekend is the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. I'm going to have to get my game face on as I haven't raced since Memorial Day. Last year's race went really well for me (at least for the first 9 or 10 miles) and I somehow maintained 6:00 pace. I'm shooting to go slightly below that considering I actually have a distance base underneath me with the marathon training. The hindering factor may be the weather--mid 30's with a chance of snow or rain. Ugh! But, that may be what it's like next month in Philly so I better get ready for it.

Beth's running this year as a tuneup for the Half IM World Championships in Clearwater and my cousin K's coming back again this year (won her age group) and her dad (who I ran the Pittsburgh half with last spring) are coming to run, too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fun fall!

Last Sunday, Beth and I were invited to go to our first ever Steeler game. I'm a big fan and watch just about every game on TV or listen on the radio, but I've never had a connection to get a ticket (and assumed I never would). However, Beth's good friend was able to get four tickets to the game and it was great! It was great weather and the Steelers took it to the Chargers to go up 28-0 early in the third quarter. This was our previously agreed upon time to leave since we all had to get up for work the next morning (AND K & T are from the other side of Altoona). It was a little nerve-racking to hear how close it got in the end, but a fun game nonetheless.

Our seats were in the next to last row, right on the goal line where the Steelers scored three of their touchdowns. In the row behind us were about 10 or so San Diego Chargers fans (of course the only tickets they could score were in the last row!). I actually didn't mind being up that high--you were able to see so much more than you do on TV. You were able to see players get wide open on passing plays and I kept screaming and pointing, "throw it to him--he's WIDE open!!!"

One place where Beth and I fall short of being true members of Steelers Nation is that we don't have Steelers jerseys. I think about 95-98% of the crowd did have jerseys. At least I had a Steelers hoodie.....albeit a 2005 AFC Champions hoody--even though they went on to win the Super Bowl. Hey, it was cheap at Dick's Sporting Goods a month after they won back then since they had all the Super Bowl merchandise.

Poor Beth had a black Powerbar coat with a PURPLE hoodie underneath. It sure got a few facebook comments during the game!!! She did get a Terrible Towel from a vendor before we crossed over the Clemente Bridge.

Now if this wasn't great enough, I also have lined up for tomorrow a trip up to Happy Valley! My one good friend from my IE days at PSU, B, asked me a month or two ago if I wanted to go to this game because he had two tickets. Granted, it's against 1-AA Eastern Illinois, but it's still the experience of being up there. So, after my first EVER Steeler game, I'm going to my first PSU game since college six days later. Awesome!

The one down side to all of this is that it's making for a very full fall. As Beth and I were debating of whether or not to go to the Steelers game, we were seeing the weekends fill up and realized that Thanksgiving is going to be here before we knew it. I know we've all got busy lives, but I figured I'd throw this out there, so just humor me:

  • Sep 23: College Fair for Etown at WCCC and drop off the dog at parent's house
  • Sep 25-28: BOUS for Beth in California
  • Oct 4: Steelers game
  • Oct 10: PSU game
  • Oct 13: LaRoche College Fair for Etown
  • Oct 17: Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (both of us) just up the road in Freeport
  • Nothing the weekend of the 24th.....yet
  • Nov 1: Big Tens XC Championship at PSU (going up Saturday and watching Sunday)
  • Nov 7: PIAA XC meet in Hershey (maybe we'll have boys & girls both there)
  • Nov 12-15: IM 70.3 Championships in Clearwater for Beth
  • Nov 22: Philly Marathon for me
  • Nov 25: Thanksgiving and eating a lot and taking a deep breath!!!!

Overall, my training's going pretty well. I was pumped with last Thursday doing a 15x400 workout with the XC boys (88 sec down to 73) and then coming home and doing a 9 or 10 mile tempo workout with Beth. I felt pretty good during it, but it sure beat me up for the next few days.

I got home from the Saturday invite at Central Catholic and it was so beautiful out and Beth left me a message that she wasn't going to be home from her bike ride for another two hours. So, I got my bike ready and headed out for an hour ride because I figured it may be the last time I ride outside this year. It was so nice out and I felt great. So, I got home with about another 30-45 minutes until Beth got home and then was going to do her 30 minute brick run. I figured I'd do that with her, so I just caught the end of the exciting Michigan-MSU overtime game while waiting for her to get home.

We go out for our run and I'm chatting up a storm about our guy winning the CCI by outkicking a guy from the big rival and telling her about the Michigan-MSU, VT-Duke, and a couple other games. Then, we turn around and come back and we're about 20 minutes into the run and.......BONK! I had to slow down to a walk. I took in food after the invite and with my bike ride, but apparently not enough. It was a brutal shuffle that last mile-plus home for me and a good lesson in training nutrition.

But, I bounced back and had a good long run on Sunday and today PR-ed in the 2 mile during a track workout with the XC boys. They are so fast! I was killing myself to run 80's each lap to pace my group while the top group was just cruising and clicking them off. THEY then did a sub-5:00 mile and sub-2:25 800, but I opted out of those and did some distance since my marathon prescription for Sunday is 17 miles with 14 at race pace. I needed to save something.

So, off to Happy Valley tomorrow and then another fun week ahead. Next thing you know, we'll be off to Florida and then I'll be running my marathon and then eating a whole bunch of turkey and fixin's four days later!