Friday, March 30, 2012

Cherry Blossom preivew

Sunday is the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. I hope to do well, time could be anywhere in a range. I did not get in to first corral, so I don't think i'll be able to hang with my friends before the start. At least most of them. I haven't done this race since 1993 (I did half with my sister and then kicked in for something like 1:16). I also did it in 1992 and set what appears to be my PR for the distance. Since I was 13 for that race, it's a piece of why the blog is named Peaked at Age 13. I am hoping to run under that time. A equal effort to Club Challenge on a much flatter course should mean that is possible. To be continued...

March is going to be an odd month. I had unplanned sick time at the start, then I ran everyday until today. The miles piled up, and i'm sitting at 193. I really want to run a couple quick miles today and tomorrow and keep the streak going and hit 200, but I probably will take the days off and rest for the race. I really don't have another race of emphasis until the Frederick Half, which is more than a month away. A month without a day off is what i'm planning right now. It may not happen, I have a trip to Gettysburg at the end that will complicate. But there is always a way to run if the desire is there, and so far the desire is there. So we shall see.

Weekly totals for the past few - 36 this week, 55 last week, 52 the week before that...

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Nostalgia Tour Continues

2012 as the year of the return continues. I returned to Frederick to compete in not one, but two races. The first was Francie's 5k, which was not a race from my youth, but a race in a place from my youth. The second was the Forest of Needwood 5 Mile, which was a race from back then. Oddly, when I discovered these were both on the same day I was at a loss to pick one. But upon closer inspection the 5k was at 9 and the 5 miler was at 1 I realized I could certainly do both. Neither would be a ground-breaking time or place, but it would be a nice change and good miles as well.

Francie's 5k
Francie Billoti Wood was a student at Middletown High and a member of the track team. She was a couple of years older than me, but we did overlap in tenure. She was also a friend of my sister and a good friend to some of my sister friends. Her tragic passing back in '09 was pretty big news across the state, if you were around you would have heard about it. It's the kind of thing that rocks a small town like Middletown. Francie was getting back into running for fun and training for a marathon, I believe. It was natural that folks put on a race in her memory. This year was the 3rd event, I had wanted to make the previous ones, but circumstances did not allow it (busy or lazy, basically). This year, in shape and training lots, I thought it would work. I let me sister know and she wound up walking it with my mom.

I would have preferred to the 5 miler first and hoof the 5k. But it was the other way around, so I had to try and show some restraint for the first race. It was very popular with the younger kids so they took off, along with some legitimate fast folks in the front. I settled in very early and passed quite a few people as we progressed through the High School property to Green Street. A decent hill that left me ahead of all but one very young girl (the lead pack was off and out of mind by then). The backside of Green Street is a nice downhill, around the corner and through Middletown's 'main' intersection. I knew we were past a mile at this point and I was under 7 best I could tell. The course then went up past the memorial park (site of so many Spring Thaw 5 Milers) and then to Linden Ave. The water stop was near half way and I was around 10 minutes so still cruising a decent pace. Linden has a decent down-and-up that we used to use for workouts back in my school days. That certainly helped me power up and around the loop.

I saw David Schafer coming out of the loop and gave him a cheer. I'm sure he had no clue who I was (a bit of theme). He was cruising to 18 and change, still amazing in his 50's (he was a state champ and Olympic marathon trial qualifier back in the day). I was still trailing the small girl, she couldn't be more than 12. I laughed to myself as that was me back in the day, very young and running with competitive folks. We crossed 40A and back on the school grounds. I knew there was less than a mile and I was feeling quite sore from the miles I had been doing. But I had run hard that far and I wanted to cruise in to the finish. And when I did I was still a bit surprised at the time. 20:51 was only about a minute behind my Shamrock 5k time and that was a net downhill course, this one had both down and up hills. I figured I had killed the Needwood, but I was not all that worried, I guess. I jogged back to where my sister and mom were walking and finished the race with them. They came home in less than an hour, which made my mom very happy.

I saw my old High School coach and some other folks from school. Won a random prize (round of golf at a course they built since I left Middletown) and then won the overall age group award. I figured I was somewhere around 10 overall, checking the results I was 8th (The 12 year old girl won the women's race in an amazing 20:35). I was a bit concerned about the course being short, but I mapped it when I got home and if anything it was longer than 3.1 by a little bit. Well done, Middletown.

Forest of Needwood 5 Miler
I don't know how many times I have done this race. It was the traditional season opener (not counting Club Challenge which I had never managed to do) and the first Grand Prix race for the Steeplechasers. I didn't realize, but this was the 30th anniversary, so it was a good time to make a return to run. I tried to map out the course ahead of time, remembered the main part was running along Lee's Lane, the site of Needwood, home of former Maryland Governor and notable colonial figure Thomas Sim Lee's ( plantation. Yes, he's also one of 'those' Lees...

The course I remembered as fairly rolling. I did not remember it being so open, which meant it was more challenging as the temperature crept up towards 80. I didn't really do much warming up, I figured a slow first coupe of miles would do the trick. But apparently my habitual fast starts know no bounds and I was through the first mile at 6:45 or so. Even if it was aided by some downhill running, that's still a fast start for the second race of the day. I kept it rolling and the second mile was a sold 12 flat. I attempted to drink water at the first stop, but I didn't get much down and I was off. The halfway point was marked (bonus) and I was around 17:30, which would equal a 35 minute race, exactly 7 minutes per mile. But I was fading a bit and was ok with that. I was passed twice, both women. I was a little worried about losing grand prix points (my secret motivation for doing the race), but there was really no one else threatening. At mile 4 was a rather significant hill which I has mostly forgotten. I don't know if I would have done the race if I had remembered. I think perhaps that's a fun Frederick County thing, putting a nasty hill towards the end of races to break the flatlanders that come to race. I may have not noticed having grown up with those hills my whole life. But I digress.

The last mile was fine and I wound up with a respectable 37:25 (officially time was a bit fast, but I think they have the times bumped up one spot for each runner). Celtic Solstice was 34:34 for comparison, but that was cooler, less hilly, and most importantly not right after a 5k. Again, a fun way to get to 10 miles for the day. I also took home an age group award (second place this time). I don't think too many folks from my age group in the Grand Prix ran so I will gain some ground that I lost because Club Challenge didn't count.

Miles for the week were 52, possibly an all-time best for me. I followed up going to Patapsco for 90 minutes of trail and path running (and two trips up Gun Road). Shooting for 54 or 55 this week, before a lighter week prior to the Cherry Blossom.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shamrock Around the Clock

A bit late for this race report. Shamrock 5k was Sunday in downtown Baltimore. A net downhill course, I figured I would be able to run as quick a time as physically possible at this stage of my comeback.

Shamrock, however, is a very big race. Probably largest I've done outside of the Marathon and Half last season. Luckily Jon ran last year and he had a strategy for getting in front of most of the slower folks that line up. We were about 20 rows back for the gun. I wasn't super satisfied with the warm up, but that's the nature of these type of races. Starting back just a little bit was nice for keeping the pace down, but I probably expended some extra energy getting around the slower folks.

For the first mile Jon was around me. Using his new GPS watch toy he let me know we were at 6 minute pace and it felt pretty relaxed. I know that's too fast but it's unavoidable on the course as the big downhill is right at the start. There is a bit of an uphill before the course turns onto Key Highway, and the first mile was around 6 flat.

The course is pretty simple, going out Key Highway and then turns around and heads back. It gave me an opportunity to see the front of the race going by the other way. Lots of the fast Fall Road crew in the first 15. Pretty impressive to see, considering there were some super fast people that were skipping this one. At the turn I was 10 seconds or so ahead of Jon. I was probably still on pace for low 19 at this point. The course has a slight hill and around there is the two mile mark. The folks read off 12:29, but it was closer to 12:20 due to the delay at the start. This means 6 flat followed by 6:20. Heading in the wrong direction...

The last mile is probably all mental, and I think I still struggle with this. Although, I might have just tired out from the hard running and did the best I could after that. But Jon passed me on the turn to Pratt Street and gave some encouragement. I tried to pick it up and hang with him, but there was very little fight. I passed the 3 mile mark around 19 flat and the finish was 19:45. Overall, it was a very good time considering my training and my recent history. First time under 20 since I was 20 best I can remember. Jon was 19:35, very good on the small amount of training he's been doing so far this year.

Next up: a double back home...

Friday, March 9, 2012


The day after Club Challenge I caught something nasty. It put me out of commission Monday night and then again Thursday through Sunday. I managed a little over 7 miles on Tuesday (on no solid food) at a very slow pace. And I tried to run the Leap Day 4k on Wednesday. But it rained and I felt like crap and managed a pretty pedestrian 17:30.88. Side note: these results are credited to Guy Incognito, the old Simpsons Joke.

I didn't run Saturday and probably could have. I did sleep, a lot. Sunday I was a bit better and ran a slow mucous-heavy run in the morning. And then I did a double with 9 along the waterfront in the even at a decent pace. It was good for the confidence, since I was feeling like I could no longer run after having such a down week. Initially I wanted to put the morning run on Saturday and give me a near 30 mile week, but now I've change my mind. I put both on Sunday and now I can just write off the sick week and this week will be very close to where I wanted to be right now, 15 weeks out from Grandma's.

Onward and Upward from here.