"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Actively Resting

This week and next find me engaging in "active rest".  For me, that means little to no running but lots of cross training, hiking, stretching and rolling.  My body needed a break and was letting me know that if I didn't give it one, it would just take one.  So, no running until November 1st.  Next week I will also be taking a technology break.  No internet, computer, television, etc.  It's time to refresh mind and body before I embark on my next phase of base building.

Have you ever taken a break from your workout and/or running routine?  How'd it go?  Did you have any issues when you restarted?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grand Rapids Half Marathon Race Report

Grand Rapids Half Marathon, Grand Rapids, MI
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Unofficial time on my watch 2:16:20 for an average pace of 10:24/mile.  Official time turned out to be 2:16:17, so my watch was close.  Finish was 1089 overall out of 1644, 80th in my age group out of 94.  Not dead last, so I'm happy.

Mile splits from my watch:
Miles 1-4 44:39 (didn't see markings for miles 1-3, so didn't take a split until mile 4)
Mile 5  10:30
Mile 6  10:19
Mile 7  10:20
Mile 8  10:17
Mile 9  9:50 (where'd that come from?!)
Mile 10  10:00
Mile 11  10:16
Mile 12  9:56
Miles 13.1 10:13 (a 9:17/mile pace!  Yowza!)

Packet pickup on Saturday afternoon was uneventful.  Staff was helpful.  Nice race shirt and some socks in the bag.  Cool!

I was accompanied to the race on Sunday morning by my wonderful wife who was my "official" cheerleader and photographer.  Thanks honey!  It meant a lot to have you there.

When we left Sunday morning it was raining, a little bit breezy and cold.  I was worried it was going to be a wet, cold morning for racing.  We hung out inside the Y near the starting line until it was time to line up to stay warm and dry.  Almost as if it was planned that way, just as we got started the rain stopped and the wind died down.  The temperature at the start was in the mid 40's.  With no wind and no rain, it was perfect running weather.

The first 4-5 miles I wanted to start out slow, so I stuck with the "Al Gore" pace team.  They were pacing a 4:58 marathon.  Once I was warmed up, I left them behind.  They seemed like a fun group that was going to party their way to the finish.

I'm a ways back.  Just after I'd made my move around team "Al Gore".  The pacers are in the background with the orange shirts.

Apparently the lady next to me can run and play the harmonica simultaneously ;-)

The next few miles were spent between "Al Gore" and "John Bingham 'Penguin'" teams.  I caught up to the "Penguin" pace team at around mile 8.  The Penguins were pacing a 4:44 marathon/2:22 half marathon.  Lots of runners in this group and lots of congestion.  Moved ahead of them a bit to get more space.

This middle portion of the course from mile 6 to approximately mile 11 was mixed between a bike path and a road.  The route took us through Butterworth Park and towards Millenium Park so it was as if we had suddenly left the City.  One minute we're running through an urban neighborhood, the next we're in a meadow following the Grand River.  Neat.  I had some fun in this section as there a couple of small hills to run up and down.  I especially enjoyed the down parts.

The last couple of miles were spent chasing down pink shorts lady.  She passed me between mile 11 & 12, but then didn't pull away.  So, I followed hoping I could just match her pace and have her pull me in to a strong finish.  Somewhere in mile 13, I managed to catch and pass her.  Whoever you are, thanks!  I enjoyed racing you to the finish.

Bringing it home on the stretch to the finish.  I need to lean forward a little.

Passed all 4 of those people in the last 200 yards or so.  Nice race!  Nice to see someone in the crowd showing a little Tigers pride.

All done!

Brought my handheld filled with Gatorade so I could avoid the congestion at the aid stations as much as possible.  Only slowed to grab some Gatorade at 2 or 3 aid stations, skipped the rest.  Didn't bother with Gu or anything like that because I've never practiced with it.  Had to stick with my rule:  "Tried and true, nothing new".  Also, I am accustomed to running my long runs with my handheld,  It would have felt weird without it.

Pre-race dinner was at the Red Tomato pizza buffet in Muskegon, MI.  Loved it.  Upon further reflection though, I feel that would have been a better choice for after the race instead of before.  My tummy says pizza is not it's preferred pre-race running fuel.  It says pizza would be awesome for recovery though.

Post-race recovery was barbecue at Smokey Bones.  Baby back ribs for me.  Yum!  There is nothing like smoked pork to recover and refuel.  Not sure if that's nutritionally sound, but it tasted really good and hit the spot, so I'm going with it.

Overall my strategy of slow and steady worked out well.  In retrospect I might have pushed it just a little faster a little earlier than I did, but I have no regrets.  I had never run a road half before and had no idea what to expect.  My training was ~35 mpw with a weekly long run of 10-12 miles.  That got me to the finish line feeling good.  Upping the mileage and doing a little speedwork would probably make me faster.  I was happy with my kick at the end.  It validated my approach of starting slow.

Up next is some recovery time and a little break from running.  In the interim I'll be doing plenty of cross training, rolling and stretching.  In November I'm starting back with a plan to get to 40 mpw.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Hay Is In the Barn

Well, the hay is in the barn.  All the training is done.  Packet pickup is accomplished.  Gear is organized and laid out.  The number is pinned to my shirt.  Nothing left but to toe the starting line and have a great time.  For anyone else running in Grand Rapids tomorrow, my bib # is 10055.  Feel free to come up and say hi.  Hopefully I'll be back on Monday with a great race report.  Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Virtual Fall Trail Tour - Sand Lakes Quiet Area

This week the Virtual Fall Trail Tour stops at the Sand Lakes Quiet Area somewhere between Traverse City and Kalkaska, MI.  I hope you've been enjoying the tour.  I know I've been enjoying the field work :-)

The Sand Lakes Quiet Area is part of the Pere Marquette State Forest, encompasses 5 lakes and is crossed by the North Country Trail, the Michigan Shore-to-Shore Trail and the TC to Kalkaska Trail.  There are also innumerable unmarked trails, old logging roads, fire breaks and game trails criss-crossing the forest.  Back country camping is allowed.  There is also a State Forest campground at Guernsey Lake

The trails are not too technical in nature.  There wasn't much for rocks and the roots weren't too bad.  The surfaces  are dirt, packed dirt, packed sand, loose sand and in some places leaf drifts.  In places the trails were obviously old two track logging roads.  Nice and wide.  In other places the trails were narrow single tracks.  Today I confined my running to the North Country Trail segment that runs through the Sand Lakes Quiet Area.

I ended up running about 9.7 miles in a little over 2 hours.  Not fast, but I was concentrating on keeping the effort easy.  I also stopped occasionally to take pictures, enjoy the view or try to figure out which way to turn at trail intersections.  Only made 1 wrong turn.  I figured it out 0.7 miles later when I ended up on the horse trail.  Oops.  Today's weather was amazing for mid-October.  Sunny and 79.  Awesome!  I don't think we'll see that again until next spring.

Map of the area with the major trails

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Virtual Fall Trail Tour - North Country Trail

This week's stop on the Virtual Fall Trail Tour is the North Country Trail, or more specifically a section of it just north of Manton, MI along the Manistee River.  My run today covered approximately 11 miles.  Weather was sunny and 61.  Just about perfect trail running weather.

The trail is about as technical as anything gets in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.  It's narrow, not defined really well, some of the blazes are obscured, and lots of tree roots.  On the section I ran today there were some steep climbs and descents as the trail made it's way over some creeks that feed into the Manistee River.  Between those creeks the trail rolls gently.  The biggest challenge today was way-finding.  At times the trail would just completely disappear.  I'd be standing there in a grove of maples or red pines looking for another blue blaze so I knew which way to go.

Had to take a spur trail from the trail head to the main trail.  Of the entire run, that was the most difficult portion just because it was the hardest to navigate.

This is fairly representative of the trail.

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One of the gentler sections of the trail.

Ran across this little guy sunning himself.  He didn't seem too worried about my presence.

Much of the trail overlooks the Manistee River.  It was really one vista like this after another.

Overlooking the Manistee River

I just really liked the color in this tree.  My camera didn't capture the depth the yellows very well.