Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chasing a Better Version of Myself -- First 9 miler: 6/26

 After getting a migraine and sleeping for 10 hours on Saturday, I was a bit apprehensive about attempting my first nine mile run on Sunday.  However, I felt right as rain when I woke from my coma on Sunday morning a decided to give it a go.  I made sure to drink plenty of fluids before leaving and to take my hand held water bottle with me, and a post run water bottle, which I left in my car for after my run.  The plan was to run in Umstead, continuing the same course that I have been running, and just add another half mile on to the outward portion of the run.

I began my run at just after 8:30 am, but I could already tell that the air was much less humid than it had been on the prior morning.  First mile, felt a bit ragged to me, and I had an odd pain in my shoulder blade.  However, the pain faded right around the first mile mark, and I seemed to settle in to a good groove.  Around this time, I began to think about the prospect of running nine miles, and the idea of nine miles began to intimidate me.  I was beginning to have doubts, and just as those doubts were taking root in my mind, a guy just blew right past me.  I hadn't heard his foot steps until he was right behind me, which was strange because the dirt and gravel roads of Umstead will usually let you know that someone is coming up on you.  I got a little annoyed that he blew past me so easily and that my head was filling with doubts.

I began to think that there was a better version of myself out there somewhere in the world that wasn't having doubts about his run and that didn't care about some ninja runner dude blasting past him.  I started to think that this better version of myself was just in front of me and right around the next bend urge me to catch him.  I have often had these thoughts in the past as I have run, but this time I seemed to be in a full blown fantasy land and started to get a more complete picture of this better me.  The prospect of running nine miles wasn't phasing this better version of me because he had been running his entire life.  This better version of myself wasn't a heel striker.  His breathing was impeccable, and he didn't weigh 282lbs.  I started thinking about all the ways that he was better than me: he didn't mind cleaning his cat's litter box, he played high schools sports and was good, but not cocky, where as I quit in Jr. High.  He spoke three languages and was working on a fourth, he didn't mind running in the humidity, and wasn't bothered by Horse Flies, he didn't get angry in traffic.  This better version of myself can do long division, he gets Bebop and The Beat poets, he can run a 5k in under 20 minutes, he love to do push ups, and doesn't get nauseous at sight of coleslaw.  He can spell the word "subconscious" correctly every time without the aid of spell checker, and he loves to proof read.  I imagined that if I squinted just right I could see him about to crest a hill on the horizon just powering over the hill.

As I kept thinking of all the ways this other version of me was better, the miles were clicking off.  I started to think that I'll never be able to truly catch this better me, and that I catching him wasn't the point.  The point is that I am not sitting on my couch drinking beer and watching TV, I am not still 330 lbs, and I don't look on runners from from the window of my car and wonder what madness compels them to run.  I realize that what's important is that I am out here giving chase to that better version of myself.  And as I passed the four mile point on the utility road for the first time in my life and committed myself to running nine miles, I realized that by going beyond this point that I was about to eliminate one thing from the list differences that separates the me that I am to day from the better version of myself that exists in my mind.  I was about to find out something he knew, which I hadn't until now.  I was going find out what the next half mile of this rod looked like, and then I was going to find out what it felt like to run back to where I started and complete a nine mile run.

When I reach the turnaround I was tempted to start thinking about all of the versions of myself that were worse than me, but I decided that it wasn't necessary because our paths weren't going to cross on this road today.  I am well aware of many of the mistakes that I've managed to avoid, and revisiting my good fortune just seemed unnecessary. The next 4.5 miles weren't a struggle, nor were they filled with thoughts of my better self.  These miles were peaceful and fill with a sense of pride that come from doing something that was once unimaginable.   The last mile was the up hill struggle that it always is when I run this course, but no more than it is when I run eight miles.  When I finished my run, I began to think of next weeks nine miler not as a mere possibility but as a certainty.        

I did 9 Mile in 1:37:07.57 for a 10:47 pace.

Mile1: 10:34.36
Mile 2: 11:12.13
Mile 3: 11:09.30
Mile 4: 10:42.44
Mile 5: 10:38.08
Mile 6: 10:14.22
Mile 7: 10:22.84
Mile 8: 10:33.55
Mile 9: 11:40.55

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5k Race Report! 5-25

The Sweat Your Thorns Off 5k would be my first virtual race, and I have been looking forward to it since reading about the Freeze Your Thorns Off Race in January.  So here is my Race Report:

Location: Shelley Lake Park, Raleigh NC
The Course: A two mile paved Greenway which circles the lake.  It is fairly flat with one steep little incline just before the 1/4 mile mark and is repeated at the 2 1/4 mark. 
Advantages: I know this course very well, it is very runner friendly, and has not traffic to deal with.  Also, the lake is already measured and every quarter mile is marked.
Disadvantages: It is summer in the South, muggy as all get out. 
Unknown Factor: Friday night's dinner of fajitas quesadillas at a local Mexican restaurant . . . not a wise choice the day before a race, virtual or otherwise.

Pre-Race: Hiroko and I woke up late and got off to a late start.  I had hope to get out of the house by 6:30am, but that was a pipe dream.  We didn't leave until after 7:30am and by the time we arrives at the park it was nearly 8am.  Not good!  The cool morning air was quickly burning off and the thick muggy -- "God Hates You Raleigh Air" was beginning to set in.  Hiroko agreed to play camera man for me.  She didn't feel like running with me, but she did make her way around the lake at her own pace.  I did a little stretching and made my way down to the lake from the parking lot.  The Greenway is accurately marked off, so I wouldn't have to rely solely on Old Bob to keep track of the distance.  I made my way to the start of the course and had planed to have Hiro do an official countdown for me, but I decided against it because there was a group of TNT runners gathering for a training run at the same place.  So, I just hit start on Old Bob and was off.

Mile One: most of the time when I run Shelly Lake, I run in the opposite direction to avoid the steep incline at the beginning of the course.  It isn't a huge climb, but the grade is pretty steep and leaves you feeling gut shot right at the start.  But, today I decided to take it on head first.  Mistake!  I pushed my way up it rather quickly, and I felt the punch to the gut that I had expected.  It took me until the half mile mark to work through the initial shot from that incline.  The first half mile was almost entirely devoid of shade, so I was already sweating pretty hard by the half mile mark.  After the 3/4 mile  mark I was able to settle down a bit and start workout the kinks.  I got into the shady section of the park started to enjoy my run.  I did the first mile in 8:28.78, which was slower than I had hoped, but considering the humidity and that initial incline I was happy with it.

Mile 2:  This is my favorite portion of the park, almost entirely in the shade.  It is mostly a gradual incline, but there are no hills at all.  You cross two foot bridges: the first is really small and is right around the 1 1/4 mark.  I ran into one of the TNT training groups at the bridge, but they didn't slow me down or interfere with my run at all.  It was nice to see so many people out running that might not be running without the support.  After crossing the bridge, I continued to run fairly well.  This portion of the trail brings back lots of memories for me from the first time that I lived in Raleigh. from 1991 to 1995.  I used to come to Shelley Lake with my dog, Jon Doe. 

Every time I run through this portion of the trail I think of him.  It is one of my favorite place to run in Raleigh for just this reason.  The Second mile ends with a long foot bridge that is often full of people feeding ducks and geese, which can be a bit tricky to run because it is a popular spot with kids.  Today, it is fairly early and there are few families on the bridges so I am able to cross it with no problems.  I did the second mile in 8:36.94.
Mile 3: The third mile is a repeat of the second mile.  I had hoped to be feeling better at this point than I am.  I am regretting the fact that I left my water bottle with Hiroko, who I haven't seen since I started running.  I am also wondering what possessed me to run the lake in this direction!  Had I gone the other way, I would have only had to climb one hill, that is not nearly as steep as this little beast that I was tackling for the second time this morning.  The heat and humidity are beginning to have their way with me, and I can feel myself struggling more than I should be at this pace.  At the 2.5 mile mark, I can't wait for the the end of this run.  I feel heavy and am regretting those fajitas quesadillas from the night before . . .meh.  As I push toward  the three mile mark, I can see my pained expression reflected in the looks of the people that I pass, who all seem to look at me as a man on the verge of collapse.  Vultures are surely gathering above, there is a dude in a black cloak carrying a scythe on roller blades right behind me, and the wandering unholy spirit of Miss Ney -- The Scariest substitute teacher to ever terrorize a third grade class room (she used to bring her own paddle to school with her . . . Her OWN PADDLE FOD GOD SAKE . . . the woman was just Evil-- and now her evil spirit is just waiting to pull me down into the the netherworld . . . I can feel it!   I am fading fast . . .Raleigh, you suck with your cursed humidity and constant forecast of 90 degree heat with a chance of an isolated thunderstorm or scattered showers that never FRICKIN' happens!  Double Meh!  I am not really sweating at this point, it is more like melting.  The only thing that could make this worse would be if I had a Lady Gaga song stuck in my head . . . wait . . . what's that . . . the girl running towards me is singing: 

Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(she's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(she's got to love nobody)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)

It is official, God hates me!  . . . . . . . Ok . . . it isn't that bad, but it is starting to suck and I really am feeling the hurt more than I should.  I did mile 3 in 8:52.63, but it sure felt longer!

At the three mile mark, I am trying to guess just how many more steps I'll need to take to get to complete this run, but math has never been my strong suite.  Miss Ney's evil Spirit laughs and curses my in ability to do long division!  I turn the last corner and see Hiro waiting for me.  She is taking pictures as I stare at Old Bob, so I can stop right at 3.1 miles and not one inch more.  I am crushed. and, so glad to see her.  At the 3.1 mile mark, I stop running and hit stop on Old Bob.  My time is 26:44 for a 8:37 pace.  This is about 30 seconds off of what I have been running.  But, I honestly feel like crap.  Thankfully Hiro has my water bottle and after a short rest for me to catch my breath, we head back to our car, which is on the other side of the lake.  This was not a  good run for me.  My time was alright, but I struggled much more than I normally would with a 5k.  I am pretty sure that I got dehydrated.  Later in the day, I got a migraine, went to bed at 8pm, and slept straight through to 6am.  I don't think that I realized just how humid it was in the morning.  Overall, I had enjoyed my first virtual race, can't wait to read the other reports, and look forward to Freeze Your Thorns OFF! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday Morning Pre-work Sweat Fest: 6/24

Thursday, I woke up with a cramp in my calf that kept me from running.  I had planned to run either at Fleet Feet or with Hiroko at Shelley Lake, but my cranky calf was just enough of a problem to call it off.  Friday morning I decided to run before work.  The morning air felt nice and was a welcome change from the muggy afternoon runs that I have been doing most Thursday's.  I had enough time to do three miles brfore work, so I ran the Komen course in reverse.  I need to change the course just a bit because of traffic, but I still did a full 5k.  Towards the end of the run, the air seemed to get more muggy and the run turned into a huge sweatfest, but I was good to be running and not stuck in the gym.

P.S. Remember to hydrate!

mile 1: 9:46.70
mile 2: 10:22.31
mile 3: 10.06.06

3.1 miles 31:07.97 for a 10:05 pace

Weds. AM Sports Conditioning Class: 6/22

This class marked my fourth day of not running part of it was planned, but part was just bad luck.  The class was boring but effective.  This class is one that doesn't change and at all.  I am just not fond of how it is structured, but it is a good workout, so I still attend from time to time.  Anyway, here is a song that I really love.  "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads.  I just love this song.  Enjoy.

Tuesday Toning Class -- 6/21

Hiroko and I were planning to run on Tuesday, but the air was filled with smoke from some wild fires in the eastern part of the state.  However, a lot of people around here were wondering if it was the UNC athletic department burning all the football players' parking tickets . . . hmm!?!  Anyway, we decided to do the Toning class at the Y instead and spare our lungs.  The class was pretty good.  It went heavy on the abs, which both Hiro and I need.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Monday AM Sports Conditioning Class -- 6/20

Monday, I decided to attend the morning Sports Conditioning class at the Y rather than run.  I skipped my long run on Sunday to spend the day with Hiroko and to give my body a rest.  It seems like a good week to change things up a bit, rather than run the risk of burning out or injury.  I've enjoyed my races over the last two weeks and think that I have learned a great deal about the way I have been running.  I have come the the conclusion that I am just going to have to focus more on doing the things that I don't like during training: getting up earlier, more cross training, and speed work, if I plan to give a better effort during a race.  Really, how can I ask myself to dig deep on race day if I am not used to it during training.  Therefore, I drug my sorry ass out of bed Monday morning at 4:30AM and got ready for the 6am Sports conditioning class at the Y.  I enjoyed the class a great deal, which made it well worth the effort.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Running of the Bulls 8k: Race Report 6/18

I registered for this race on a whim after running the Komen 5k on the 11th.  Before the Komen, I hadn't run a race in nearly two months and afterward I realized how much I missed running in races.  I had seen the Running of the Bulls 8k listed and had given it some thought, but decided against it because Hiroko wouldn't be able to go because of work and because the fact that it was in Durham -- about a 40 minute drive from where I live.  Honestly, 40 minutes isn't that far, but I have never gone more than 15 minutes for any of my races (except the 8k in Hawaii, but even that one was only 10 minutes from our hotel), and basically Durham is one of those place that always seem farther away in my mind than what it is in reality. But, after a hectic start to my week and continuing to jones for a race,  on Wednesday I decided to register. 

The race was being held in the historic and revitalized areas of downtown Durham, including the American Tobacco Historic district, the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park  and finish with a lap of the warning track inside the old Durham Athletic Park where the film Bull Durham was filmed.  This area of Durham also happens to be the only part of Durham that I know anything about.  So, I knew that the course would have some hills, but I didn't think that the hills would be as difficult as the Komen's hills. So, Friday night Hiro and I trekked to the The Bull City Running Companyfor the packet pick up before we headed out to Chapel Hill for dinner.  

Race Day:

I got up at around 5am to give myself plenty of time to make the 7:15 start.  I left the house with plenty of time and didn't figure to hit any traffic.  However, I was dead wrong.  Just outside of Durham there was some kind of road work going on that had traffic at a stand still.  Since, I didn't know the area at all, I waited it out rather than try to take and alternate route and risk getting lost.  I should have gotten to the race with about thirty minutes to spare, but I ended up parking my car at 7am and still needing to find the starting line.  I was only about a half mile away, which I used as a warm up.  Once I got to the start, I couldn't find any port-a-johns set up, which I though was odd.  However, I quickly realized that we were allowed to use the restrooms a the Durham Farmer's Market, which was near the starting line.  After returning from the bathroom, I noticed that everyone was moving towards the starting line for the beginning of the race and I would be stuck near the rear of the field of over 700 runners.  But, I figured that I could use this as a way of keeping myself from going out too fast and decided to just deal with it.

The Start of the Running of the Bulls 8K
Mile 1:

On my way to the race, there were just tons of crap songs on the radio, and I was just ecstatic that not one of them had managed to lodge itself into my head.  It took me 36 seconds to get through the start, there were just tons of people in front of me, and the course start on a hill, but I was just happy to have made it to the race on time and decided to just focus on the race ahead.  After the initial hill, which lasted about a quarter mile, the rest of the first mile was fairly flat and I spent it trying to make my way through the pack without getting boxed in or expending too much energy weaving around people.  The first mile felt really slow, and it was when compared to the first mile of nearly all of my other 8 or 5k's, but I think that it was more in line with where I should have been on those other races.  I did the first mile in 9:24.

Mile 2

One of the many awesome people that
helped with the Running of the Bulls 8K
 The volunteers at this race were really awesome!  They had
the course marked of extremely well, had people at nearly every major intersection and turn, and all of these volunteers had cowbells, which they rang with great zeal.  Honestly, this was one of the most organized races that I have run.   During the second mile the folks with the cowbells helped me out a great deal and gave me something to focus upon other than the hill at the end of the second mile.  As I passed on person, I couldn't resist the temptation to do my best Christopher Walken and demand "more cow bell!" Overall, I was feeling fairly good after this mile, and I tried to think of the rest of the race in terms of a 5k.  I did Mile two in 8:54.

Miles 3 & 4:

I'm not sure where things started to go a little sideways for me in this race, but it was in these two miles, so I'll deal with them together.  Mile 2 had ended with a water station, which I never handle well.  I fumble with cups, never stop to drink, and always fill like crap for about 30 seconds after drinking.  I came out of this one the same as always.  I went right into a hill, but again was able to focus on bell ringers rather than the hill.  Still I could feel myself beginning to struggle as we made or way along a flat stretch towards another hill.  My confidence began to waver partially because I didn't know the course and how many more hills we were in for or where they were, but there was something else going on too.  I wasn't willing to hurt.  I was running alright, but I was holding back and not willing to dig.  I ended up running a fairly complacent third mile, and only ran it as fast as I did because of a large downhill portion.  I ran it in 9:19.  I kind of began to realize that I had more in the tank and needed to work harder towards the end of the mile.  The fourth mile began with slow deceptive incline that caused a lot of people around me to begin grousing about.  This portion is where I really seemed to needlessly lose time.  I should have pushed harder to cover this portion of the course faster.  I had even picked up my pace at the end of the third mile, but backed off allowed the complaining of the people around me to give myself an excuse to not push.  After getting through this slow portion of the course, I forced myself to pick up my pace.  I was irritated with myself for not running hard and decided that I would attack the last mile of the course.  I was able to salvage the second half of mile four and do it in 9:31, which would be my slowest mile of the day.

 Mile 5:

Running.  For the first time in this race I begin to run.  I don't know what is ahead of me but I am beginning to pick up my pace.  I got really confused and thought that we were covering a different part of the course and that we had one more hill or I would have pushed even harder than I did.  Regardless, for me, I am steamrolling through this mile.  The fastest mile I had done in a race since I got Old Bob is 8:03 at the NHL All Star 5k's first mile.  That consisted of a major downhill that I exploited and still destroyed me for the rest of the race.  This mile did have a downhill to it, but it was nothing to right home about and I was already attacking and pick people off well before the downhill.  By the time I entered the stadium, I was committed to legging it out to the end.   As soon as stepped 
I am the orange speck in the back of this picture, but the guy wearing 669 finished four people behind me.
out onto the field I went into an all out head long sprint and tried to pass as many of the people in front of me as I could.  I sprinted all the way across the warning track of the out field, made the turn and at the left field foul line and headed for the finish, which was set up somewhere between third base and home plate.   
Looking for the finish line.
Crossing the finish
I did the last mile in 8:00 minutes flat, which makes it the fastest mile I have done in a race since I got my Garmin and tells me that I needed to push harder in this race.  I have been reluctant to test my limits in my last few races and have stayed in my comfort zone.  If I am going to run scared, I need to just save myself the registration fee.  I run races to test myself and to gauge my improvement as a runner, and you can't measure your improvement if you are only looking how you run at 80% of your ability.  I finished the race with a chip time of 45:08, but took no risks.  I had a great time at the race and am starting to realize my mistakes, so I count it as a huge success.  But, this race will be an even greater success if I can force myself to run harder at my next race rather than sit back and run complacently like I did in this race until the last mile.  

***I want to give a huge shout out to Anthony at Running Down for letting me gaffle his photos for this post.  I really appreciate it!***

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Flowin' Thursday Run -- 6/16

This sums up my entire run on Thursday.
I did 3.72 in 35:19.06 for a 9:29 pace.

I got off work late and didn't have time to use the bathroom before leaving for the Fleet Feet social run.  I did  the first mile in 8:47, I sort of had to go so I figured I had better push my pace.

Mile two -- things were starting to get worse so I just tried to maintain my pace.  Running in a residential area, so finding a tree or bush wasn't an option.  I did the second mile in 9:05

Mile three -- hitting some in inclines and the problems are getting worse.  I am really struggling and looking for a public restroom in some of the parks we are passing, but no luck at all.  I did the mile in 9:48.

The last .72 was full of hills, which were unpleasant.  I did the first two, but on the last hill it was either stop running or wet myself.  And since I haven't wet myself in a least 30' some odd years and this wasn't an actual race.  I chose not wetting myself.  I did the last .72 in 7:38.58 for a 10:36 pace.

Yeah, nothing else really to say about this run.  It was just uncomfortable all around.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wednesday Evening Sports Conditioning Class

Monday I did some stretching and general maintenance at the gym.  Nothing really enough to consider it a real workout.  Tuesday was a rest day because Hiroko and I planned to go out for dinner with some friends.  Wednesday's workout almost didn't  happen because of too much sake and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, but I persevered and went to the Sports Conditioning, which end with just enough time for me to get home and shower right before the face off.  The workout was really awesome and left me a sake sweating mess!  lots of push ups, sprints, abs, dips, lunges, ect.

As for the hockey . . .I had actually called Boston in 7 games at the start of the series.  Everyone else was say Vancouver in either 4 or 5, but I had faith in Tim Thomas and knew that the Sedin twins and Luongo would wilt under the pressure like the flowers they are!  I am not even a Boston fan, but I am so glad that they won!  The Sedin's and Burrows had more diving penalty minutes than points and that type of play should never get rewarded!  So in honor of the Boston Bruins I give you -- The Dropkick Murphys:

And . . . Queen:

Hydr-eight-ion Run 6/12

The day after the Race for the cure I returned to Umstead for my Sunday 8 miler.  This time I brought with me my brand new Nathan's Hand Held water bottle.  And let me tell you, that sucker is worth every penny!  I felt a world of difference in the way I ran this eight compared to how I have run the last two weekends.  I think that I sweat more, but felt much more fresh as the run progressed.  I was pretty tired from the previous days race at the start of my run, and I ran a little slower than I had last week.  But, at around mile five, I could feel my legs finally hit the right gear and felt well sorted at point where I normally begin to struggle.  By the time the dreaded last mile began, I could feel that my legs still had a reserve of strength that I just normally don't have and was able to power through the last mile. I even manged to kick a little just for fun for the last two tenths of a mile( . . . ok not for fun . . . but to end the run sooner!).  Some of these changes may be the result of my body getting acclimated to running eight miles, but I really think that most of is the result of better hydration.  I did have one long running battle with two sweat bees through most of mile five.  As annoying as those things are I'll take them over the deer and horse flies any day.

And according to good old Wikipedia Sweat Bees sting is nearly painless and they are virtually harmless anyone, who is not allergic.  I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know this and will just do my best to ignore them on my next run.  Go forth and Pollinate little bees!  You'll have no more trouble from just a gentle shoo.  Above is on of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, who are unfortunately most often associated with a Bee Girl. 

I did 8 miles in 1:26:45.36 for a 10:50 pace.

1 10:33.53
2 10:42.81
3 11:10.57
4 10:51.30
5 10:56.05
6 10:33.45
7 10:13.78
8 11:42.40

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(R)anniversary -- 2011 Tirangle Race for the Cure Race Report: 6/11

Last year, I ran in the Race for the Cure as my first 5k.  I entered the race with a lot of reluctance, but Hiroko wanted to participate, which prompted me to enter as well.  I had no idea that running in that race would ignite my passion for running, but it undeniably has done just that.  Over the last year I've entered race after race and sought to engage in the running community, both here in Raleigh and in the Blogosphere, as much as possible.  I spend countless hours thinking about running, I annoy my friends with talk of PR's and training schedules, Runner's World get's more of my attention than all my other magazines combined, and my moods are now directly linked to my running schedule.  Sometimes we aren't able to pinpoint a moment when our lives changed, but in this case, I 'll always be able to tell people when the runner in me was born.  Therefore, the Race for the Cure, which is already a very special event for my because my Grandmother was a breast cancer survivor, holds just that much more significance for me.  It is my (R)anniversary!
After last years race I thought that I was going to die!
As oppose to last year's race, the Race for the Cure didn't bring me any feelings of dread, none at all.  I felt excited and wanted to run my first repeat race ever.  For the first time I could gauge my performance by how I ran last year as well as how I ran my last race.  I knew that the course was hilly and that the idea of a PR wasn't realistic.  My idea going into the race was to try to do better than the time for my last race, which had been a fairly flat course.  Goals were to finish close to 26 minutes and just enjoy the race as much as I could.

Saturday morning was about as perfect a day for running as you could ask for around these parts in June.  We had thunderstorms Friday night, which just cooled everything off on Saturday morning.  After Thursday's run , my legs were cranky and sore for most of Friday, but on Saturday they felt just as great as the mornings weather.  The start for the Komen Race is so close that Hiroko and I were able to from our place.  We arrived with about 20 mins. before the start of the race and quickly lined up.  This race is extremely popular with over 3,000 runners in the competitive race, so I didn't mind lining up in the front and getting passed rather than wade through a ton of people, who went out too fast and started walking after the first mile.  Also, the first mile of the race is on a very wide street, which can accommodate a large group of runners. 
Hiro and I after last year's race

Mile 1:  The first mile was mostly on a decline and felt great.  I wasn't having to weave around people like I had feared.  The one time I thought that I might get boxed in, the people in front of me just open  up right when I needed and gave me a clear path.  My legs felt really good and I wasn't having any breathing issues.  In many ways this was my best start to a race.  I did lose Hiroko almost from the start, but I knew that she would be back.  After finishing only 10 seconds behind me in our last race I knew that Hiroko would be gunning for me.  I finished the first mile in 8:07.11

Mile 2:  The second mile was a Beast!  No other way to put it.  It was a series of low rolling hills one after another.  I hit the first hill with no problem at all, but knew that there were more to come.  On the second hill, I saw one the instructors from my Y and picked up my pace a bit to run along with her for a bit.  The third hill was the largest one, but I could tell that the hills of Umstead had more than prepared me for this section of the course.  The last hill wasn't real a hill as much as it was a just a slow incline that sucked because of the previous three hills.  One runner fell just in front of me but didn't see what caused it, I think that she may have either been bumped into, this portion of the course was pretty narrow, or fell off of the curb.  Either way, I was shocked to see her on the ground but wasn't close enough to help, and she was back on her feet by the time I got close to her.  This was the first spill that I have seen in a race, and it reminded me that anything can happen in these events.  I didn't see Hiroko at all during this mile, but I was sure that she would come gunning for me soon enough.  I did the second mile in 8:25.74 and came throgh this portion of the course in better shape than I had the year before.

Mile 3: This mile starts with another incline that gradually levels out, but the incline lasts for about six blocks.  The third mile begins right as we turn onto Dixie Trail and head towards Forest Hills Baptist Chruch, where the last water station is set up and the choir from the church sing to the runners as the run.  As I made my way up Dixie Trail, Hiroko pop up right beside me.  Last Year I had to stop running at this point and walk, but this year, I was still running.  The the instructor from the Y was still near by but now my focus was on Hiroko.  I knew that she had been underestimating her ability to handle the hills, and was probably feeling really good about herself now that the majority of the hills were behind us.  Hiroko is eight years younger than I am and in much better shape in general, and she is a more natural athlete than I am.  I have no doubt that if she worked at running and trained in a half way descent fashion, she would smoke me in every race.  But as it stands now, I train more and have a better idea of what to expect from my body.  Right as we approached the Church and the turn onto Clark Ave. Hiroko made her move and passed me.

I didn't give chase at this point but just kept my pace as I passed the choir and water station.  I can't remember the song that the Choir was singing, but just seeing them gave everyone a lift.  Hiroko picked up speed  and started to pull away from me, but I know Clark Ave. well and had a plan.  The first two block of Clark are a slight down hill and the next two are a hill and the last one is another small quick decline before you cross Faircloth Street (step over the lane divider) and merge back on Hillsborough St. and run the last tenth of a mile on a small incline.  I figured that I would let her run the first to blocks of the decline and then catch her on the hill.  She put a thirty or forty feet between us as we went down Clark and I expected her to to slow down as she hit the last hill, but to my surprise she just took it on.  I was able to close some of the gap between us but she was still a good ten feet ahead of me as we passed the three mile mark and crossed Faircloth. She was starting to pull away again and it was decision time.  I did the third mile in 8:50.88
We felt much better after this year's race!

I know that I have a better kick than Hiroko, but I wasn't sure if I could sprint all the way to the finish line given the incline.  If Hiroko gave chase and I faded, she would surely re-pass me, win, and hold it over my head.  Normally, I am not a competitive person, but running is my thing and I don't want to lose to my wife, who hardly trains and then bee-bops into a race and at the same level I run at after having trained for weeks!  Urgh!  By now Hiro had a good 25 to 30 feet on me, so I committed myself and kicked it.  I caught up to Hirko shortly after we merged on to Hillsborough Street.  As I passed her she let out a loud "damn!"  But I tried not to look back and focused only on the finish.  I thought that I could keep up my sprint to the end, but I didn't know if she was trying to give chase.  As I closed in on the finish I fought of the urge to look back or let up and finished strong.  I came in at 26:10 with Hiroko on my heels at 26:14!  She said that she knew I was coming at some point but didn't think I would start my sprint so far out.  Next time, I am sure she will be ready for me. so I am just going to have to bury her from the start.

Hiroko & I at the finish
I enjoyed my (R)anniversary and can't wait to start year two of my running life!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Taking On the Fleet Feet Four Miler: 6-9-11

The four mile Fleet Feet course has been kicking the crap out of me since the heat went all nuts-o on us.  But, with the Komen Race for the Cure 5k in less than two days, I needed to prove something to myself by running this course well before the race.  Therefore I went to the Fleet feet social run with the idea that I would handle this course.  Also, I knew that this would be the last run of my first year of running.  Last year's Komen was my first race of any kind, and it awakened my passion for running.  So, I sort of had the idea that I wanted to finish my first year running with a good effort.

 The high for the day was once again in the mid 90's and well into the range that makes me crazy.  But, by 6pm the heat had noticeably dipped, so that once our run began it wasn't as wretched as it has been in recent evenings.   I started the run out fairly well and my goal was to run about a minute off of my race pace, which I thought would be in the mid 8 min mile range.  The Komen course runs right through my neighborhood, which makes my very familiar with hilly nature of the course, so staying in the 8 min mile range will be a challenge for me.  I decided that for the social run that a pace somewhere in the 9 min. mile range would do just fine for the first 3 miles and that I would take whatever I got from the last mile, which concludes with a hill that has been killing me for weeks now.

The first three miles were uneventful.  I ran them strong and was able to stay in the time range I wanted.  But, no matter how well I was running the prospect of that last hill just loomed over me for the entire run.  I tried to tell myself that I have run this hill successfully more times than it has gotten the better of me.  But the memories of my last two failures wouldn't fade and all I could do was dread that hill.  When I finally turned onto the last mile, I was in attack mode and just went after the hill.  I stopped looking back for the other runners, and just focused upon pushing my way up the hill.  I broke it down in section in my mind and tried not to focus on the whole thing.  I didn't allow myself to look too far ahead, and section by section I steadily progressed up the hill.  When I got to the top of the hill I was out of a little more out of breath than I wanted to be and my legs were a little more sore than they needed to be with a race less than 48 hours away, but after taking on that hill, my mind was relived and that made it well worth it.And in honor of that -- I leave you with the greatest music video ever made.

I did 4 Miles in 39:11.19 for a pace of 9:48

1 9:14.47
2 9:29.14
3 9:37.14
4 10:50.34

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shelley Lake Run 6-8-2011

Hiroko and I decided to run at Shelley Lake again Last night.  We both enjoy running there for a multitude of reasons. Hiro likes it because it is mainly flat.  I like that it brings back fond memories of my first dog.  We both like that we don't have to deal with traffic . . .ect.  We did 2 miles together, which was really fun.  However, I forgot Old Bob, so I have know idea about our pace.  The heat wasn't bad be the time we got there, but we did work up a nice sweat regardless.  I felt pretty good with the way I ran and Hiro says that I seem to be running much stronger than the last time we ran together, but I know that she is just trying to set me up and plans to crush me at the Komen!  It is not going to work . . . I know exactly what she is up to and I plan on foiling her plan!  Because if I don't, and she turns in a faster time than me, I will never hear the end of it!
Shelley lake

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday Toning and the Greatest PSA ever . . . Don't Talk - Angry Voicemail (Uncensored)

Yesterday's toning class was pretty good.  I went to the gym in the morning for some stretching, to use the foam roller, and to workout my vastus medialis, which often needs some extra attention.  I returned later in the day with Hiroko and we took the afternoon Toning class.

Today, I came across the greatest PSA in the history of PSA's.  Personally, I am not fond of text messaging and I fucking despise people who use their cell phones in a movie theater, so I love that the  kicked her out and then used her voicemail to make her the subject of even more ridicule.  Love iiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Awesome Runnin' Weekend -- Day 2 6/5

Confidence, cooler temperatures, shorter shorts and no sleeves, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" still streaming through my head, who knows what led to it, but I had an awesome run.  I ran the same eight mile Umstead course that I ran last week, but this time I shaved off four minutes without really trying!

Last week the first four miles were kind of a struggle, but this time not so much.  I just tried to run at a comfortable pace and didn't give the distance much thought after the first mile.  Last week, I was clearly intimidated by the idea of running eight mile and was reluctant to commit to the distance.  But, my mind was set on the distance and didn't let it effect me at all this go around.  Interestingly, my pace was fairly consistent (at least by my standards) regardless of inclines or declines until mile six, when I was being attacked by a horse fly and mile eight, which is all uphill.  As I mentioned earlier, I still had the same song stuck in my head as I ran, which thankfully is a song that I like.  I have completely stop running with my I-pod and no longer take it with me, so I always try to listen to a couple of good songs before I leave the house because I dread the day that I get anything Gaga related stuck in my head just before a run.

Luckily the flies and the heat weren't bad until the return portion of the run.  I ended up going to war with one for the most part of the sixth mile that I'm sure caused me to waste a lot of energy and mess up my stride.  The damn thing bit my back, through my shirt, on my right shoulder blade.  I finally got away from it when I was able to hit it hard enough to drive it into the ground.  But, I didn't kill it unfortunately!  I saw the damn thing bounce off the ground and fly off in the opposite direction.  Meh.

The last mile was the one part of this run that still filled me with dread.  The hill that makes up most of that mile is just looms over the whole last half of the run and was really the only thing that I could think of after dispensing of Mr. Evil fly from Hell!  By this time, I was totally soaked through with sweat, so the small breeze that was blowing in my face actually cooled me down more than it slowed me and was a welcome relief from the sun and heat.  Every time I reach a portion of shade, it seemed to shrink just as I reach it, making think that the sun and trees were just playing with my mind.  By the time I reached the end of my run, my shoes were again filled with sweat and squishing as I walked, which caused me to go out and by water bottle for runners!  The run as a whole was just rock-on and leaves me pretty optimistic about my race this weekend.  Which I am sure means that the wheels will come off during the race, but at least for the moment . . . I am cautiously optimistic that the hills of the Komen course won't crush me. 

I did 8.00 miles in 1:24:14.12 for a pace 10:31. 

1 10:25.38
2 10:43.28
3 10:44.14
4 10:03.43
5 10:10.83
6 9:54
7 10:09.28
8 12:02.26

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awesome Runnin' Weekend -- Day 1: 6/4

Saturday morning I got up earlier and with more ease than I had any other morning that week.  Work vs. Running . . . hmm . . . which one do you look forward to most?  Having increased my miles on my week day runs, my plan was to repeat the same runs that I had done the prior week.  Most things I have read say that runners should not attempt to increase their mileage by more than 10% from week to week, and I see no reason to buck that advise.  Currently, my plan is to add miles onto my weekly runs because I don't like the idea of having 50% of my miles coming from my long run.  I've seem the topic of weekly mileage breakdown debated a lot and have yet to find a definitive answer.  However, 50% does seem to be on the high end among most people, which is why I plan to add miles in on my weekly runs.  Granted, at this point, I am not training specifically for either my Half Marathon or Marathon, so I feel like I have a some flexibility in my workouts.

Currently, my aim is more focused upon building the self discipline needed to put in the proper amount of work.  I want to improve my general conditioning and try to work off as much weight as possible before I begin a specific training program geared toward the Marathon.  Also, I want to focus upon learning and applying proper post run recovery routines.  It is one thing to be able to run 10 miles once, but it is another to ask you body to do it repeatedly.  Considering my weight is much higher than most people attempting to run a Marathon, I'll need to do everything I can to aid my body in its post run recovery.  I need to be disciplined about stretching, using the foam roller, taking ice baths, using my compression socks, and nutrition.  In the past, I have been kind of hit and miss in all of these areas, which is part of the reason why I wanted to commit myself to running in the marathon.  The marathon is unforgiving and is not going to allow my to be slack without making me pay a price that I just don't want to pay, so dedicating myself to doing things correctly now will only help me later.

As the title of this post might suggest, my runnin' weekend was in fact awesome!  Saturdays 3.7 mile trail/multipurpose road run was nearly too good to be true.  I began my run about 30 mins. earlier than I had the week before and the temperature was not as disgusting as it had been last Saturday, which I am sure helped.  The first mile was on the trail and a little shaky, but most first miles are a bit shaky.  During mile two (also a trail mile) everything seemed to be clicking, my legs felt great, my breathing was easy, and my new Saucony Triumphs seemed like money well spent!  Mile two also contains more uphill running, so I handling this portion o the trail gave me a real confidence boost.  During the third mile, I had to work to reel myself in.  Also, I got to see a deer pass across the road about 5 yards in front of me.  This was the first deer that I had seen while running in Umstead.  She was a beautiful doe, and I was surprised to see her that late in the morning, but she was moving towards water and might explain it.  As awesome as this run had been, I was still dreading the last .76 mile, which just mainly consists of one giant ass-kicker of a hill.  But, this run indeed proved awesome when I stormed right up with hardly giving it a thought.  Normally, whatever song is stuck in my head on a run completely abandons my as I climb this hill, but during my run on Saturday -- this song just kicked the hell out of that hill:

So thanks Adele!  I was actually shocked at just how well I went up that hill.  If there has been one constant since I began running this course in Umstead, it has been that this last hill has pretty much kicked my ass. But, Saturday I took it at 10min. mile pace and had energy to spare at the end.

3.76 miles in 40.57 for a 10:52 pace.  Over 90 seconds faster than last week.

.76 7:44.08 10:07

Friday, June 3, 2011

Miami Marathon Registration Run -- 6/2

Well Boys and Girls, I did it.  I have committed myself to running in the Miami Marathon in January.  I am excited, nervous, and slightly overwhelmed.  Regardless of the outcome of good, bad, ugly, downright scary, I am determined to make every effort to enjoy the challenge of this commitment.  I am in 100%!  It is that simple.  If I were not, I wouldn't dream of doing this.  As my love of running has grown over the last year, the challenge of a marathon has been looming off in the distance, seemingly waiting for me to make this leap.  Well, yesterday was the day where I put my chips on the table, and if all goes as planned, I'll go all in on Jan. 28th!
I'm In!
My eating habits are already changing, but I am going to have to get tough on myself, and I expect to have injuries, wretched runs that make me doubt myself, swollen feet, sunburns, fights with horse flies swarms, runs in every weather extreme Raleigh can imagine, and I am sure to face difficulties that I haven't even considered.  But, I welcome it all.  I want and need this sort of challenge in my life, and if in the course of my training anyone that reads this blog begins to hear me bitch and moan too much, please feel free to remind me that I wanted it.

After work I celebrated my registration by attending a very hot Fleet Feet Social Run, which I enjoyed a great deal.  I chose to run the 3 mile hilly course because it most resembles the Komen course that I will be running next Saturday.The heat was still a sweltering 93 yesterday, but we are expecting it to relent for the next five days!  High's in the mid 80's to low 90's!

I ran 3.07 in  28:48.92 for a 9.23 pace.
Mile 1 8:57.71
         2 9:24.67
         3 9:54.67

And just to reflect my mood here is my song for the day:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If you read my last post, this says it all!

Hawaii and Miami On My Mind . . .

Yesterday was the official National Run Day and more importantly, it was the 5th anniversary of Hiroko and I wedding ceremony.  It wasn't our actual anniversary because we were married in Japan at Kasukabe city hall in September, but waited until June to have our wedding because of work and the difficult nature of having a wedding in Hawaii and asking all of the guests to travel there from either Japan or the east coast of the U.S.  Regardless, June 1st is still a very special day for us.
Has it really been 5 years?
But, since it was in the middle of the week, we had decided to move most of our festivities to other days.  We had planned to still go to a workout class after work and then just have a nice dinner and chill, but I failed to notice that the class wasn't on the schedule this week.  Therefore we waited until the evening heat had started to die down, and went to Shelley Lake.  Hiroko wasn't feeling up to running so she walked around the lake while I ran.  I got about 2/3 round the lake before doubling back and meeting up with Hiroko to walk the rest of the way.  All told I ran just shy of 2 very sweaty, sticky, miles, which I thought was just about all that was needed because I wanted to spend some time at the lake with Hiro. All day yesterday, we found ourselves talking about how much we have changed in the last five years.  We remembered that trip to Hawaii for our wedding and just couldn't imagine that it was five years ago.  Running was a big topic in this conversation because it has unexpectedly become a major part of my life.  At the time of our wedding, I had lost a great deal of weight, but most of that was do to my lifestyle in Japan.  I still was not health conscious and running was not something that either of us ever though that I would do, let alone, have it become such a major part of my life.

Which brings me to Miami . . .

Recently I signed up to run my first Half Marathon, The Neuse River Bridge Run, and can feel that it has changed the we I am living.  I am already changing my diet, mixing up my workouts, and feel like I have a real goal to strive towards.  Also, the idea of running a full marathon has gone from "something that I might one day do" to part of a natural progression.  I have been trying to find the right Marathon that fits in with my commitments, running goals, and Hiroko and I's work schedules. 

This morning I was reading Emily from Sweat Once a Day 's blog post about signing up for races on National Run Day because she was unable to run.  One of the Races was the  Miami Marathon on January 28th, 2012, which would fit exactly into my schedule.  Also, Miami is one of those places that I have always wanted to go, but just don't have a great reason to go.  Well, it looks like I might just have a great reason to go!  None of the Raleigh Marathon's will work for me until at least April, and if I am going to travel to a marathon I want it to be some place on the east coast and warm.  The only thing that is holding me back from registering is that I haven't yet run a half marathon.  But, I really like the idea of setting up a great goal and working towards it for the remainder of the year. 

I know that I could wait and think things through some more, but that is just not my style.  This is what I want and it works for me.  So what I guess I am say is that . . . I will see you in Miami!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday Toning Class: 5/31

Wow, I felt shockingly good following Sunday's eight miler.  I little stiff but much better than I had expected.  Hiro and I had the day off together on Monday, which was like only the second time in all of May.  Boo!  We spent most of the day cleaning and shopping, both things that we needed to do in a big way.  We also did some rearranging of the apartment as well.  I  decided to use the day as an off day rather than try to fit a workout or a run in an already busy day.

Tuesday, we went the gym together to take a toning class.  There was a new instructor teaching the class, which made me happy because I enjoy mixing up my workouts.  I like it when I don't know what to expect from the instructor because it forces me out of my comfort level.  Also, every instructor has different ways of hitting a muscle group and when you got to the same person's class over and over, your body just get use to that method and the effectiveness is reduced.  Both Hiro and I enjoyed the class and were really glad that we attended.

Before the class, I did a mile on the Dread-mill at an 8:34 pace.  I could really hear a major difference in the way I ran.  Hiroko and I both noticed it.  My steps are much lighter and controlled.  The rhythm is even and a pace that would have left me spent last year was a walk in the park.   My progress as a runner became apparent.  Now, I need for it to translate more into weight loss and overall fitness. 

Now, I am going to leave you with one of my fav's DU you with some great advice for life: