Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017 Stafford Airport Runway Runaway 5k Race Report

I swear I don't sandbag my races. Seriously. I mean, I may sandbag a little during the race just because I sprint at the Finish line, but I've always done that. And maybe I sandbag about my capabilities just because I usually lack self-confidence. But I don't intentionally line up at the rear, claim to be a walker, then sprint past everyone in an attempt to win the race. That's not my style. Yes, I line up in the back, but that's to slow myself down because I struggle with slower starts and always want to rabbit out front. I also line up in the back of the pack because that's usually where I finish. And I'm okay with all of that. But I'm not that guy that passes you at Mach 3 only a half mile in the race because I'm better than everyone else.

Anyway, I bring this up because yet again competition during a race got the better of me. I'll break it down like this:

- Run 5k race at easy but steady pace
- Turn around and re-run 5k race course at slightly slower pace
- Finish the day with 6 miles

- Run 5k at way fast pace
- Run another 1.5 miles a little later at slower pace
- Finish day with 4.5 miles

So things didn't go quite as planned but they went better than expected. My coach's plan for me was just the 5k race. And that's cool but I missed a stupid 6 mile run last week and it's been gnawing at me even though I know it shouldn't and I wanted to hit that next mileage mark. Well, I missed the 6 mile mark but I walked away with a new PR and a little more distance tacked on.

Now, for the race itself. I forgot to do packet pick-up the day before so knew I'd need to get there a bit early. After getting directions the night before, and reading all the rules about running at an airport, I opted to go even a little earlier. So at 0500 I got up, got dressed, and headed out the door. I got some coffee and breakfast, drove down the road, got gas, and arrived at the airport terminal around 0615. Way earlier than expected.

It was dark so it was cool to see the landing lights and the beacon flashing but it was a little hard to figure out where to park. So I parked at the terminal. It was rainy and cold so I stayed warm in my car. Around 0645 I got out and got my bib and swag and went back to staying warm. Around 0715 I hit the head and repeated the process around 0745. On my way back to my car I ran into an old co-worker and we chatted a bit. It was great to see somebody else that has done well after leaving our previous employer.

I hustled to the Start line, tried to dodge the wind, and we were off. We hit the first mile mark way too fast and I could only assume the sign was backwards. As we looped around the first time, we passed the mile marker at a more respectable, and believable, time so I figured we were on the right track again. But I still wasn't sure if we had started by going the wrong way at the start.

While I mulled that question in my head, I enjoyed the tail wind down the stretch. We turned back around and did the same loop around a second time and this time we hit the second mile mark at another more believable time. Fighting that stupid head wind sucked and I made every effort to tuck behind people in front of me but most of the time I was rolling faster than they were or there was just an open gap in front of me. So I dealt with it.

Headed into the home stretch, we followed our outbound route back to the Finish and I looked at my watch again to see where I was. Seeing that I was close to my old PR time of 30:53, I kicked it. I made the last two turns and kicked it again to pass a couple more people before the finish. The one younger guy edged me out I think, but I'm not sure because my vision was so narrowly focused on the end.

Anyway, I came across, looked at my watch, and then tried to factor in the time it took me to cross the Start line. I knew I was close but wasn't sure until the times were posted. I ended up besting my last PR by 25 seconds giving myself a shiny new PR of 30:28.


Temps were about 35F to 40F. Wind was light to moderate (maybe 10 mph sustained). Sky was overcast with light rain that eased up the longer we were out there.

Fluids and Fuel:
Before the run I had coffee, two boiled eggs, and an English muffin. During the run I had plain water. Recovery was more coffee and two bacon/gouda sandwiches (which was after another 1.5 mile run where I had nothing to eat or drink).

Aches and Pains:
My wonky toenail on the right foot gave me fits the other day and instead of taking care of it, I ignored it. Well, it gave me fits again today and it serves me right. Nothing bad, just a toenail that has been a nuisance for years. Aside from that, I felt a little tight and crampy after the race but that's likely because I didn't drink as much as I usually do during a 3 mile run.

Wore shorts, thermal top, short sleeve shirt, gloves, BUFF, and winter hat. BUFF came off around Mile 2. Wearing shorts was perfect. Was chilly at the start but after a mile, my legs and fingers were plenty warm.

Today's Motivation:
Paying for a race is usually pretty good motivation. A new venue adds to that, especially one as unique as an airport runway (well, technically it was the taxiway, but still). As I neared the finish, that PR pushed me.

Naughty Neil:
I had some cheese and crackers last night and I ate them way too late. But I was busy watching HACKSAW RIDGE and felt the need to snack. Also stayed up a little too late (around 2330).

Start - 00:27
Mile 1 - 10:12
Mile 2 - 10:10
Mile 3 - 9:51
Finish - 30:28 (watch time was 31:00)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

40 Years Ago Today - March 1977

This photo came from the Aunt Wilma and Uncle George Estate and with it came some artifacts. In the envelope was a scrap of paper with my name and the date "March 1977" and a "Gift Check" for $200 to Las Vegas casinos. The "gift" was likely an insert from the photo developing company that was advertising for the Vacation Ideas company. That particular office is now occupied by Valley Construction & Repair.

Friday, March 10, 2017

40 Years Ago Today - March 10, 1977

For one final time, I see Dr. Melvin "Mel" Cheatham. I would officially be "release[d] from [his] care." The final analysis pretty much sums things up: "Will never know what caused problem or why." And forty years later, we still have the same conclusion as to what the problem was behind my big head.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

2017 John Robbins 8k Race Report

Spoiler alert, I did WAY better than I expected!

Today's race was one I've done in the past but don't usually make it a habit of doing just because it's kind of an odd distance and usually not the warmest race. Sure enough, the weather forecast I saw last weekend when I registered was about 30 degrees off. In the wrong direction.

And while I was disappointed with it being so damn cold, I think to a degree (no pun intended) it helped me move a little faster. I know the first mile I was a little afraid to stop and walk because I wasn't warm yet and walking would just prolong things. And I really wanted to feel my fingers. So I kept moving.

That "keep moving" was really the key to today's success I think. It's been years since I've run, without walking, any reasonable distance. As an ultrarunner, you just have to walk at some point. Well, I do. So my body is so used to just walking whenever it feels like it. Little hills. Aid stations. Feeling tired. Whatever excuse works, I just walk when I want to. I'm pretty good about running again soon enough but, well, it's still walking and not running.

Anyway, let me rewind. I got up, threw some clothes on, and headed out the door. I did pour a cup of coffee to enjoy on the way and decided at the last minute to grab some eggs and an English muffin for breakfast. When I run this early in the morning, I usually just down some coffee and go then eat breakfast when I'm done running. But things worked out with my gut so the bread and eggs, and some coffee, seemed to be okay.

Once I got to the event, I chilled in my car. But with the heat on because damn was it cold. I snagged some water to mix up my GenUCAN Hydrate and tried to not drink more coffee. I wanted to run, not get the runs. Speaking of the bathroom, I got into the porta-potty line with about 15 minutes until the start.

Timing worked out pretty good and I only had to stand at the Start line a few minutes before they sent us on our way. As usual, I started way, way in the back with only a handful of people behind me. I trotted along, trying to pace myself and go slow and warm up my fingers and breath without coughing too much. After maybe half a mile, I stumbled onto two guys that were keeping a decent pace that roughly matched mine. So I latched on.

One of them slowly dropped back by the first mile marker but I stuck with the other guy, Ralph. Ralph would end up being my hero. We clicked through the first mile, me right on his heels, keeping a steady, and what felt like easy, pace. Until I looked at my watch and nearly freaked out that he was pulling me along at sub-12 pace. Figuring I would blow up soon enough, I kept shadowing him. As I said before, I didn't want to stop for a walking break because I wanted my fingers to warm up and I knew that usually happens around Mile 2.

Ralph and I trooped along and made it across the second mile marker. I checked my time and it was faster than the first! Well, I reasoned to myself, that second mile was a little down hill and I really was close to feeling my fingers, maybe I'll just keep going along behind him. We trudged up the hill and made the turn-around point which was a little less than two and a half miles. I checked my pace and tried to do some fuzzy math in my head and assumed the pace was slowing and I was happy to see that. After all, sub-12 pace is a little fast for me. Even more so since my training had taken me to my first 5 mile run only a few days earlier.

We crossed over the 3 mile mark, I checked my watch, and nearly shit a brick. We didn't slow down, we were right on the same damn sub-12 pace. I was amazed. I pulled up even with Ralph and told him he was my new favorite friend because I had not run this far, without stopping to walk, in at least 5 years. We chatted a bit, trading stories and adventures and previous races. We came up to the aid station, shortly before the Mile 4 marker and I lost him. He stopped for water and a short walk break but I had my bottle so I just kept going.

I was sad to leave him behind but in that half mile or so leading up to the aid station, I had done the math in my head and knew I was close to a PR. I knew my old PR was in the 55 minute range and pretty old. And I knew that sub-12 miles would get me close to a PR. And I knew that, even though this was only a damn training run, I wouldn't have a chance to run this distance anytime soon, let alone be this close to a PR. So in that half mile before the aid station, I knew I was close enough to a PR to take a shot at it. So when I dropped Ralph at the aid station, I felt bad. But kept moving because my focus had changed.

Even though Ralph was behind me, I tried to keep the same pace going. An occasional glance over my shoulder showed me that Ralph was close behind but I had certainly put a small gap on him. So I focused on the people in front of me and tried to either keep them as close as they already were or reel them in. I ended up doing a bit of both.

The fourth mile marker came and I checked my pace and I was still close enough to chase a PR but I had slowed down a little. I managed to pick up another runner keeping a solid pace and we chatted briefly as we ran up the last hill for half a mile or so. He wanted to slow down so I thanked him for his little boost and merrily went towards the finish.

If you don't know what a "kicker" is, you've never seen me cross a finish line. I'm one of those runners that holds a little back just so he can sprint across the finish line. Well, I didn't have much in my tank so when the tall guy passed me with only a few hundred feet to go, I couldn't cover the move. My brain wanted to but I knew if I really pushed it, something would go wrong and I'd miss my PR. So I kept it tame and only sprinted the last few dozen feet.

That last block or so I knew I had the PR in hand and it was just a matter of how big it would be. Turns out I did better than expected. My old PR, from way back on March 13, 2011, was 55:29. My shiny, new PR is 53:28. That's two minutes off a really old PR. But I'm probably just as happy, or maybe even happier, that I ran the entire race. And not to confuse you like I did my wife, I mean I RAN the entire race. I didn't take any walking breaks. None.


Temps were about 25F. Wind was light to moderate. Sun was out with a few clouds.

Fluids and Fuel:
Before the race I had coffee, an English muffin, and two hard boiled eggs. During the run I had GenUCAN Hydrate. Recovery was two bacon/gouda/egg biscuits and more coffee.

Aches and Pains:
Both knees felt tweaky but when I noticed them, I focused on my stride and soon forgot the pain. I'm wondering if it's the shoes or the stride or something else. Everything else felt fine.

Wore thermal top, t-shirt, pants, shorts, BUFF, winter hat, and gloves.

Today's Motivation:
I paid for the race. Otherwise, I probably would have just stayed in bed. Just so damn cold.

Naughty Neil:
Well, I had pizza for dinner last night. And some lemon pie. Not the best choices but at least I kept it to two slices of pizza instead of a whole pizza.

Start - 00:18
Mile 1 - 10:59
Mile 2 - 10:45
Mile 3 - 10:57
Mile 4 - 11:10
Mile 5ish -  9:34
Finish - 53:28 (chip time)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

40 Years Ago Today - March 1, 1977

Once again I was back to see Dr. Cheatham. He checked my head again but, as expected, there was nothing new to report.