Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Final Countdown

17 hours to go until the start of my fifth marathon. Right now the weather forecast is calling for low thirties and snow. At least the rain they were talking about seems to be missing us. I can deal with snow but rain sucks.
I'm still not entirely sure what to shoot for as a pace, I may push it and see what happens. My long runs have all been good so I am interested in seeing what I can do. Whatever happens it will all be over by this time tomorrow.

And that won't be soon enough for everyone around me. As marathons get closer I tend to get obsessive about my behavior. No caffeine for at least a week before the race, I cut back on the beer (and that is the worst), and I limit what I eat to keep the weight down. None of those things really help to lift my mood much. The closer it gets to race day the more I get withdrawn as all my thoughts turn to what I am going to wear, or what my pace is going to be, or a hundred other things. Anything that isn't just how I want it makes me snippy and I take it out on those around me. Basically i'm a miserable crank.

So only one more night and 26.2 miles to go until I can get back to normal and stop driving everyone around me crazy.

And then Monday morning I can start planning for the next race.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Old Fashioned 10 Miler - Part 3

What can I say about a race that I have done well at for the past three years?  I guess I can say that I do great at this race and it has become one of the few that I look forward to each year.  Maybe it's the distance, maybe it's that I know the course well, maybe it's because it tends to be my first race of the year.  In the end it doesn't really matter what the reason is, the OFTM just seems to be my kind of race.

The day began cold with a lot of wind.  Coupled with reports from the previous days' MV 20 miler it looked like it may be a tad chillier than I had hoped so I threw on an extra base layer to be safe.  Showing up 15 minutes before start time I created a parking spot for myself, ran a bit of a warmup and then made my way to the start where I found David Woodruff.  We chatted, waited a few minutes, then it was time to run.

My plan was to use the race as a shakedown run for Hyannis next week so there were to be no heroics.  The first mile ticked off around 6:40 which was fine, I figured I would get the initial thrill of race day out and then settle into a comfortable 7:00 pace for the remainder.  For some reason I decided to change my Garmin screen so that it just showed the average lap pace and not the time so I could concentrate on pace without getting the urge to figure out where I was and how I would finish.

Mile two and two things had emerged; there was a guy staying close behind me that would have four or five hacking coughs every thirty seconds, that would not do, and also this one chick kept jockeying for position with me.  She would pass me, we'd hit a hill and she would drop out, and then she would pass me on the flats again.  Interesting, but I wasn't here to race, stick to the plan.

The race wore on, my pace was great, I felt good and we hit mile seven, time for the last two big hills.  This is where I shine, I don't know what it is about that last hill but that's where people start failing and I start reeling them in.  That women that I was going back and forth with for several miles was about 100 yards in front of me; hmm, I could take her.  She sucks at hills.  So I picked up my pace a bit.  Up the hill I went, right onto Mechanic St.  People start dropping like flies, I'm breathing slow and steady, them, not so much.  A mile left and I'm on her heels, and then, she's left behind me.

I decide to kick it, I'm feeling great.  The extra layer of shirt was a bad idea but no time to worry about that now, I've turned onto the final straightaway.  I keep pushing the pace all the way to the finish, the last mile completed in 6:13, just above 5K pace.  I cross the finish, look at my time, 1:07:44, and realize that I just knocked a minute off my PR.  Good run.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Weather

I hate this time of year; when winter starts to come to an end and spring seems just around the corner.  Through many months we have steeled ourselves against the cold temperatures, the frosty winds, and (especially this year) the snow and ice.  But right about now the weather starts to change and it has trouble making up its mind about whether it is still winter or if it has now become spring.  Suddenly the temperature shoots up to fifty degrees.  Hurray!  Good times are here!  Then just as suddenly it is 5 again.  Boo.

But every time it gets warm we begin to lose that protective layer we have built up over these many months, shielding us from the numbing effects of the cold.  Two weeks ago 15 degrees was just another normal day.  Throw in a day or two of warm-up and now suddenly 20 degrees feels like the return of the ice age.  Wind is colder, mornings more miserable.  Without even realizing it I find that I am wearing my heavy gloves for a run when it is 20 degrees.  Only 20 degrees!  At the beginning of the winter it would have taken sub-10 to make me put them on.

As the sun stays higher in the day and the we get glimpses of the weather to come, my ability to withstand another frigid day, another storm, another cold commute begins to be whittled away until I reach a point where I just can't stand it anymore.  If spring doesn't get here pretty damn quick I'm either going to lose it completely or move to Florida.

But the last time I went to Florida it was 30 degrees, so I guess there is only one option left...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Physics is a Bitch

I am a person.  I have a solid mass.  This mass is capable of exerting Force upon other solid masses and is completely incapable of passing through other bodies of mass.  This should be a pretty obvious concept.

And yet every day I encounter people who seem unable to grasp the very basics behind this scientific truth.  As I come running down the sidewalk towards them there seems to be a willful and conscious decision made to not move even the slightest bit to the side to allow me to pass. Now I know they are capable of doing this, for they often do so with other walkers, but for some reason they can't figure out that someone running at them can cause a significant amount of bodily damage if they were to be struck by that runner.  Do they not see me as a corporeal being?  I make every effort to stay out of their way, returning the favor would be nice.

As we all know, Force is equal to Mass times Acceleration; F=mxa. I weigh 74.84 kilograms (I know, I'm working on it) so if I were to be leisurely running down the sidewalk at an 8min/mile pace (7.5mph or 3.35meters/second) I would be exerting the equivalent of 250.7 newtons [N]. (1 kilogram force = 9.7 newtons) All of this Force would be transferred into you if I was to run into you due to your inability to move a couple of inches to the side.

Now I can hear what you are saying: "But doesn't the Earth's gravity exert approximately 689N on you at all times?  So 250.7N is nothing!" And you are right!  Except that my force is being exerted laterally and in the case of a collision will flow through the opposing person due to the lack of a sufficient mass to stop me.  A wall can easily absorb my Force but a standing person can not.  Not only will the person be knocked to the ground and potentially suffer an injury, my momentum will most likely cause me to continue forward and land on the person who was just knocked over.  Now we have a situation in which both gravity and the Force I am exerting is brought down on top of said person.  If the person is flat on the ground we have introduced an immovable platform (the ground) on which they are laying and therefore all of the Force I am exerting will be brought to bear directly on the person, unlike the initial collision in which some of that Force was transferred into momentum.  This is where serious injury can occur.

So basically, if you see me running down the sidewalk make an effort to move even the slightest bit out of my way.  After all, I come armed with physics.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stay Puft

Me, right about now
Less than three weeks until Hyannis Marathon and everything is right on track, everything that is, except for one small detail; I feel (and look) like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  But not the evil one from Ghostbusters.  I don't know what is going on but I don't seem to be able to drop weight to save my life these days.  Granted I haven't tried too hard and there have been a few too many times when I should have just walked away from that extra beer ("Fill it up again! Once it hits your lips, it's so good!") but it's not easy being on all the time.

What gets me the most is that I have actually increased my mileage quite significantly and yet I am still either gaining weight or staying static without changing any of my eating habits.  Intellectually I realize that losing a few pounds is the easiest way to improve my times and to make running that much easier but it is always an area that I have been lazy with.  It's easy to bang out a bunch of runs during the week but not snacking on something while I feed the kids, well that just wears on you after awhile.

With three weeks left until Hyannis I have finally decided to make a concerted effort to shed some pounds and get at least near racing weight, although that weight is a long way off.  A little willpower, a lot of running, and avoiding Girl Scout cookies (damn you and your sugary goodness!) and I think I can feel a bit better about myself come Feb 27th.  Then it is a simple matter of continuing the good habits and transitioning that weight loss in to wins!  Or at least a PR or two.

Apparently this is what 145lbs looks like. Only 20 more to drop!

Alright, enough bitching, all this talk has made me hungry.  Off to eat some carrot sticks.  Yeah...

Sunday, February 6, 2011