Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful, Marathon Reflections, and What's Next

First of all, with the Thanksgiving Holiday having just passed, a couple of things I'm thankful for:

*Beth - for being so supportive and encouraging of all that I do, even when I come up short of my goals.
*My family - that I had a chance to spend some time with on Thanksgiving.
*My job - some days I truly reflect at the end of the day and think, "I'm even getting paid for this." At least most days. Some days are rougher than others. Also, just thankful with so many people out of work.
*Our church - it's great to be able to celebrate our relationship with Jesus with such amazing people. And, if you are into praise music, you have to check out Cornerstone's newly released 2-CD album of live and studio music. It's so neat to think that these talented people on the album are the ones up in front leading worship each week. Check it out!
*My health - to have the chance to do all of these fun sports activities

And, I'm just thankful for each day God's given me to make a difference. Not to get into the details, but I was in a car accident two weeks back. The car got totaled, but I came away with just a sore neck for a day or two (I kidded with the insurance adjustor that my legs were sore, but that was more due to running a marathon two days prior). A split second one way or another, things could have been very different.

So, it's back to the drawing board with the marathon training to get ready for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May 2012. We've determined that we're going to tweak my training since I've done the same plan the last two times without achieving my desired goals.

I liked the weekly mileage I hit since mid-July (51, 47, 49, 45, 46, 55, 50, 51, 53, 50, 43, 46, 49, 45, 45, 53, 42, 32, marathon week), but there must still be some things that I can tweak so that I'm not running out of gas at the end of the marathon. Here's some of our ideas that I'm going to implement with my next plan:

*Weekend piggy-back of long day and medium/hard day to try to fatigue the legs more for either the long run or the medium/hard run.
*Throw in a double run day here and there (like Beth's doing for her current training)
*Maxing out the long run to more like 25 miles instead of 21. Beth was telling me that Josh Cox has a long run where he does a 3-mile warmup, 18 at marathon pace, and a 3-mile cooldown. I think that would be a good way to push the legs a little more on the long days.
*Not be so 1-dimensional in my training. Due to working/coaching/spectathleting, there's only so many hours in the day that I can allocate to training. So, I got all my runs in, but that was it. Just runs. My only "swim" since the start of school was 15 minutes in the Pacific when we were in Kona. My plan is to be more involved with weights (and I've started already) even if it's at the sacrifice of a few miles. Also, I want to "cross train" with some other sports. Whether it's going back to doing the box drills with the track kids, basketball,....and I think I want to channel my college days and get back into racquetball, but I've found there aren't many courts in the Pittsburgh area. So that may be on hold.

So, that's where I'm going to start. In the last week I got three swims in, so that's off to a good start. Any ideas out there are more than welcome in the comments section. I know there's a sub-3:00 marathon in me. It's just a matter of doing the optimal preparation to get it done.

And, with the marathon, comes another opportunity to support a great charity. The Elizabethtown College Alumni Group (Pittsburgh Chapter) wanted to support a charity as a group for this year's Pittsburgh Marathon. We started out with a list of 8 or so great charities and, after lots of discussion, narrowed it down and decided to go with Running for Laptops. I worked with them for the Great Race back in September and found it to be a great group and very easy to lend my support.

So, whether it's $5 or $500 (more like the $5), I'd love to have you join me and my Etown alumni friends in supporting this group that provides laptops for students who have "aged out" of the foster care program. These students don't have all the love and support that so many of us have with our families and having that computer to help with college, being organized at home, or looking for jobs could make all the difference.

What are YOU thankful for? Think about sharing just a tiny bit (the value of two cups of coffee) of what you've been blessed with to someone who hasn't had it as good. Thank you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

...or the alternative title: "Back to the Drawing Board"

Well, where to start?

The good:
-My hamstrings didn't cramp during the race
-The weather was nearly perfect (started in the upper 30's, finished in the low 50's)

-I ran under control for the first half (even through 20+ miles), and was on target for 3:10 through 23 miles

The bad:
-My next to last gel went down very slowly
-My final gel really wouldn't go down (and only took in half of it before tossing the gel pack into a garbage can along the course)
-That gel (and pretty much all other items I ingested that morning) got tossed out in three successive heaves about 100 meters apart around mile 24-ish along the riverfront
-While not cramping, my hamstrings were "letting me know they were there" from about mile 6 or 7 to the end. They just felt tight and never got loose (maybe this was a good thing and held me back on my pace, though)

Needless to say, I didn't hit my 3:10 goal.

After the gun went off, we departed city island and I tried to settle in to a 7:15/mile pace. I felt like I was crawling along, trying to NOT go out too fast. The result - 6:52. Ugh! Miles 2 and 3 were just over 7:00. I saw Beth and told her that I was trying to throw on the brakes. Finally, mile 4 and 5 were 7:18 and I was settling in.

As I saw Beth, it was back over to city island with miles 6 and 7 at 7:05's. After leaving city island, the mile 8 sign was missing, but miles 8 and 9 averaged out to 7:19 each. The next three miles were along the riverfront and were in the 7:0x's (with a little bit of a tailwind).

We then veered off the river and up towards the industrial park. I went through the half in just under 1:34. I was hoping for 1:35, but I wasn't all that far ahead of pace (and much more relaxed than the 1:28:30 in Pittsburgh). The least scenic part of the race was along the industrial road with the 18-wheelers. But then we went into the HACC campus (where I saw Beth 3 times) and was feeling great for miles 16 and 17.

Mile 18-20 took us through a park. This was the only hilly portion of the course. They were short, steep ups and downs. Things felt good and, after a 7:25 of a mostly up hill mile, mile 20 was 7:06.

Okay, 10k to go. Mile 21 was 7:35. The legs were starting to feel tired, but I wasn't too concerned. It didn't feel as bad as Pittsburgh. Also, I figured to just back off and fulfill my goal of jogging the whole race. If I didn't hit 3:10, so be it. Mile 22 was 7:42 and the thought, "that's fine" went through my head. Mile 23 slowed down to 8:08 as I'm attempting to put down my final gel.

It didn't go down too well. I forced down maybe a third of it. Then, I finally chucked it into a garbage can because I couldn't take anymore. I'm not sure if it happened before or after the 24-mile marker but I'm definitely sure of what happened. It felt like there was a direct hose from my stomach leading out of my mouth and someone turned the faucet on. With that taken care of in the riverfront park, I shuffled forward. However, after another 100 or so meters, a repeat of what had just happened.

Okay that has to be it, right? Mosey on down the road another 100 or so meters and somehow I hit the triple. How was there anything left in my stomach?

After all of that, the final three miles are 8:58, 11:38, and 11:48. Heck, I even picked up a cramp in my chest as I did the final 0.2 across the bridge (2:41 for the last 0.2).

So much for comfortably jogging into the finish line. Oh well. Final time 3:22:02. At least it was a couple seconds faster than Pittsburgh!

So, it's back to the drawing board. But, like Steve P reminded me on fb, I still got in some good training miles this summer and fall and will hopefully set me up for a solid training cycle for Pittsburgh in the spring. Also, Ben said it is just as much about the journey as the goal. So, onward we go!

Thanks so much to Beth for being the spectathlete extraordinaire all weekend!

So, some reflection to come and some adjustments for sure to get me to that sub-3:00 goal.

Thanks to everybody for the kind words!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Marathon Weekend!

Last weekend we were staying in Harrisburg and the XC teams were racing in Hershey. This weekend, it's my turn to race in the Harrisburg Marathon!

First, about the state XC meet. Our
boys ended up a CLOSE 4th (our 153 points were only 21 points from a state championship) and the girls ended up 8th. Great efforts on both ends and a great season!

Back to the marathon, it actually kind of snuck up on me. Not from the standpoint of my training. I was logging all my miles and hitting my speed workout goals since August and all throughout the fall. But, you're just so focused on the schoolyear and the XC season and helping the kids be successful. So, when the races were over last Saturday, I had the realization, "Oh yeah - I'm running a marathon next weekend!"

So, here we go. I think I've mentioned a few times that I'm trying to make this marathon more of a low-key stop along the way to my third attempt at a sub-3 hour marathon next May in Pittsburgh. The goals are a little more simple than the last two attempts in May 2011 and November 2009:

1. Run the entire 26.2 miles (aka NO MUSCLE CRAMPING/SEIZING UP)
2. Finish around 3:10 (7:15 pace)
3. Negative split the first 13.1 vs the 2nd half

With that, I'm hoping for a positive day. The weather looks like it's going to cooperate - starting out in the upper 30's and finishing in the mid-50's with sunny skies all day.

In other news, there's the entire sad story surrounding Jerry Sandusky and the leaders at Penn State who did not do enough to help the situation. Very, very sad. I'll repost the facebook post from Tuesday:

So sad to hear about everything coming out of Penn State. My heart breaks for the young victims, angers at how Jerry Sandusky could allegedly continue those acts over so many years, and is confused over the alleged lack of action from other leaders. A request for the media as the story evolves is that they are more concerned about getting it ACCURATE instead of getting it FIRST.

That's all you can really say. Beyond the grand jury statement we don't know anything else. Because of that, I wish people wouldn't give opinions or speculation on things they don't know about. It was a bad situation and not enough was done. I will be very interested to see what further information comes out and trust that the administrators and the legal system will help sort everything out and do their best to make things right moving forward.

Keeping in perspective that this is all relative that pales in comparison to the victims of the abuse, I feel bad for the Nittany Lion football players. They did not sign up for this. This is not like any other college sports scandal. They did not do drugs or steroids. They did not accept any money, cars, or other illegal benefits. They did not cheat on tests. They did not do anything wrong.

However, they're lumped in with the evil things that Jerry Sandusky did AND they have to find a way to focus and attempt to put their best effort on the field against Nebraska on Saturday. Obviously this is a bad situation. I just ask that people support the players, especially the seniors on their final home game, and keep in mind who were the bad guys with all of this.

Enough of the heavy stuff. Off to pack and then tomorrow off to Pennsylvania's capital to get ready for the 26.2 on Sunday.