Friday, November 11, 2016

Ab-Fab




A late race report but hopefully welcome because we all need a bit of good news!   


Nearing the end of my 2016 running streak, the small but perfectly formed marathon in the neighbouring town of Abingdon loomed.  


Loomed, because there is nigh zero crowd support (just the odd sheep); you aren't allowed to wear earphones as they don't close the roads, and the weather can be precarious.   Nevertheless, it was selected as it is an 11 minute drive from home, and anyway... it all went ABsolutely-FABulously.  

Daughter as race crew as wife had to go to Canada urgently -
but she watched my progress on iPhone findfriends



Executed marathon properly.  Finally.   For the last three marathons I've failed at sticking to the plan.  Either too little running and too much rowing.  Or went out too fast and blew up.  Or just failed, full stop.   Or followed the plan and the legs didn't cooperate after 18.   But today it all worked.  



Plan was 10, 10 and 6.2:   first 10 miles of patience and holding back.  Rein rein rein.   Starting with 8.45 miles and gradually easing down to 8.35s by ten.  Letting people run away knowing I'd pick them off later.  Enjoying the views.  Turkey farms and sheep and no crowds just countryside.    
This is on my arm, not leg.   Haha  

Then 10 miles of focus, getting down to 8.30s and holding there.  Not suffering or racing just hold hold hold.   Picking off runners and executing the plan.Then the last 6.2 was drive drive drive.  "None shall pass" me.  And no one was allowed to.  Pace thus picking up and dipping under 8.30s.   
 



I physically felt the Wall at 22: It was a double loop course reasonably flat and suddenly at 22 I couldn't breathe for half a mile as my body switched to fat burning.   
Amazing that I didn't fall apart but I'd run 2000 miles in training this year so my body and little mind could handle it.   So I gulped air and Gu and dug in for the final push.    And SMILED AND SMILED AND SMILED


Ecstatic at the Finish.  Daughter got the announcer to name-check me as I ran around the stadium track, noting this was my 20th marathon and that I'd last run this one in 1998 when daughter cheering me on was 3 years old!








Then tea and results check 3.41.01.    Faster than the last time I ran this course all those years ago!   And better than I'd aimed for for the last three marathons and this one i.e. 3.45.    Fabulous.     The days of 3.16 marathons may be gone but I'm really chuffed.    Phew!!!!  




and finally, here is a photo from the same race in 1998, with the same daughter as pacer that time


 



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Catch

So, recovery from the Chicago Marathon proceeds apace. I have a few pulls here and there (calf, left shoulder) that I think have more to do with doing less and not stretching enough than they have to do with running the Marathon.

Yesterday I took a group of students running, and I was focussing on form rather than speed.  Today I cross trained and, on the bike and in the pool I was focussing on a smooth pedal and swim stroke.  It occurred to me that in all three disciplines, a (the) key to a smooth and efficient stroke/stride was timing "the catch."  This is more obviously and traditionally a part of the wisdom on swim technique.  The stroke is divided into the glide, catch and pull.  But the same is true on the bike, as your foot hits the bottom of the stroke, you pull back, engaging the hamstring.  That little pull back is the difference between pounding like a piston and a smooth circular pedal stroke -- stomping v. spinning.  I didn't really realize until recently that the same is true with running.  How smoothly does your foot transition from landing (toe/midfoot/heel) to catching and pulling you back. Ideally the plant and the catch are virtually simultaneous.

In all three disciplines, the catch is where the stroke/stride shifts from getting into position and/or shock absorption to transmitting power.  Timing "the catch" makes a huge difference.  In the swim, you suddenly notice yourself moving steadily (rather than choppily) through the water.  On the bike, your hips pivot slightly forward, your legs relax, and the power transition seems natural.  Running, suddenly the stride gets smooth.

Does this make sense? Am I making it up? Max??


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recovering

Ten days out. Recovery seems to be going smoothly.  I did a shakeout run on Friday after the Marathon -- 3 miles slow.  Sometimes my legs feel zippy during the first run after a marathon.  They did not  No pain, though.  Saturday I met D and we went for a birthday run. His b'day was 10/8, mine 10/13.  He is a lot younger than me, but we are slowly returning to the running form we both enjoyed a few years ago.  It was delightful.  Then out for coffee.  Then Sunday swim and spin, followed by an actual run at pace on Monday.  I'm feeling good. This makes me nervous.  The few weeks after a marathon have always been dangerous for injuries, so I'm trying to take it easy, but it's going to be hard. . .

Friday, October 14, 2016

Race Report -- Chicago Marathon

So, there's really no such thing as a no goals marathon.  There are always goals and metrics for success.  But, if there was going to be a NGM, this year's Chicago Marathon was it.  I had a short time to train, got sick during the taper, and only bought my airplane tickets three weeks before.  But by any measure (except finish time), the Chicago Marathon was a rollicking success.  I got to run a great race in a beautiful city, with huge friend and crowd support on a perfect day.  Absolutely no complaints.  I flew into Chicago on Friday, with enough time to meet Spencer and go for a shakeout run on the lake.  Sorry Brooklyn Bridge Park but there is no better place in the world to run than the shore of Lake Michigan.  It's worth the trip in and of itself.  Proving that Spencer knows everybody, we were even overtaken by a former client of his who is training for Comrades . ..  For dinner, we met Max (in town for a conference) and his wife (who was speaking at the conference) for greek food, and even talked antitrust.   Saturday was laid back.  Expo, brunch with SBRC buddies, and then early dinner carb load at the perfect little italian place on the North Side.

Race day was cool but clear.  Made it to the start from the L in time to drop my bag, pee (illegally), line up, and pee again (legally).  My plan was very simple.  I was going to let the crowd slow me for the first couple of miles, then settle in as close to a 9 minute pace, meet Spencer at mile 6.5, and then hang on as long as  I could.  Best laid plans.  I was at the back of the first wave.  I was sure there would be some back up, but kudos to the corral seeders.  As soon as we hit the line, the pace went straight to 8:30/9:00.  So did I.  What the heck?  Notwithstanding texts from Spencer to slow down, I hung with the pack, feeling good (and stupid).  Spencer dropped in at mile 6.5, and we had a delightful long run together.  We hit the half at 1:58, dialed it back a bit.  I still felt good at 30k, but then the wheels started to come off.  I could tell, because Spencer was talking and I wasn't.  Then Spencer was running and I was running to catch up to him. . . No disaster, just lost a gear.

Anyway, Spencer got me through Chinatown, Mile 21ish, and then I slogged it in.  I made a decision, a bit before Spencer left, that I was going to have fun, and minimize suffering in the last hour.  No way I was going to break 4 hours, and no reason to ruin a nice day by courting injury.  So, I walked the water stops, concentrated on form, didn't feel too bad, and was certainly ready for a beer at the finish.

Considering that I was not running at all in mid-July, and that even finishing a marathon seemed like a remote possibility and a bad idea, Chicago was a victory.  Also, a truly great city with a great course.  I would completely do it again.

Thank you Spencer for hosting and incredible support, and congrats to my SBRC buddies for great (much faster) races!!



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Still feeling mediocre

So I met my taper goal of not going very far or very fast.  3.6m at a 9:00 pace.  it was hard. My lungs still aren't clear.  Did I mention that I always find something to whine about when I'm tapering . . . ?