Help You to Help Me

I have been running longer than many of you have been alive. As such I want to part with some of the wisdom I have accumulated over the years (OK, I admit it’s closer to a dusting but it is an old dusting. OK that just sounds weird (what’s new around here)).  Anyway, here are some answers to common running questions.

1. What should I eat for a pre-race meal?

Great question.  There are two schools of thought.  One school of thought is not to eat anything pre-race.  This is a horrible idea.  2-3 hours before the start you should eat a light meal of 14 oz of steak for protein, half a pizza for carbs, and gallon of ice cream because what good is a meal if there is no dessert involved.

2. How long should my long run be?

Take the distance of your target race and multiple by 5.  Multiple that number by the cosine of the largest hill on the race course and then add your age and then covert to base two.  Then ignore all that and run within 10% of the race distance.

3. How should I fuel during my race?

Remember question 1 when I said to have a half of a pizza.  Now you can eat the other half.  Bonus points if there are anchovies on it.

4. What pace should I try for in my race?

The top speed of a cheetah is around 70 MPH.  Try and keep it slightly below that or you will go out too fast.

5. Where should I line up to start the race?

Hey, you paid the same entrance fee as everyone else, so you step up to the front where you deserve to be.

Mr Coffee Mug would like to remind you all of this is total BS

Mr. Coffee Mug would like to remind you all of this is total BS

6. Should I slow down at the water stops?

Heck no!  In fact many races take 10 seconds for each water cup you knock out of a volunteer’s hand so see how many you can knock to the ground.

7. Are there differences between a color run and a regular race?

Who cares?  If Lebron James can toss chalk up in the air, so can you and make every run a color run.  This works especially well at races like Marine Corps or Boston Marathons.

8. Should I listen to music?

Music can help pass the time away during your race.  However, since not everyone can afford a mp3 player you should blast your tunes using a portable speaker to help spread the joy.

9. I’m starting to think you don’t have my best interests in mind.

Well if you look at the title, it is “Help you, help me”.  By totally screwing up your race it will help me place higher.  You’re welcome.

Later,

Marsden

Hains Point(s)

Hains Point is familiar to DC runners.  I use Hains Point to tack on mileage during my long runs and it also works great when the weather turns crappy because the US Park Service does a decent job keeping the one way loop clear and plowed.

Hains Point in 1935 as stolen from the Wikipedia page.  Really hasn't changed that much.

Hains Point in 1935 as stolen from the Wikipedia page. Really hasn’t changed that much since then

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Hains Point.  On one hand it is a great place to run from a scenery perspective.  It is particularly nice if you can get over there when the cherry blossom trees are blooming if you can avoid the throngs of tourists.

Hains Point and the frozen river.  Keeps my yacht from going out darn it.

Hains Point and the frozen river. Keeps my yacht from going out darn it.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about Hains Point.  The first is just of the pet peeve variety.  The 3 mile loop is mostly one way traffic, however the majority of runners choose to run with traffic.  Being the run against traffic type, it drives me a little batty watching everyone putting their lives in the hands of Maryland driver behind them. But hey, it’s a free country.

The other thing about Hains Point I don’t like is that is it where my races go to die.  I have raced twice in the last year where the course has gone through Hains Point.  The first was the Cherry Blossom 10 miler where I started to heat up when I got to the park and quickly lost my pace (ignoring I was under trained and went out too fast; it is SO much easier to blame a piece of land than my stupidity).  During the Marine Corps marathon Hains Point took another shot at me and the winds went out of my sails when I hit the halfway point of the marathon.

So on Saturday since most of the roads and trails in the area where still covered in ice, I went over the Hains Point for my long run.  It started with a pep talk by the Pig.

It is apicture of a toy pig on the dashboard of my car.  He gives quite the speech

The Pig giving his inspirational talk.

The first loop of my long run was fairly uneventful.  The park hadn’t opened to car traffic yet so half of the first lap was nice without any car or bike traffic.

Pretty picture of the snow.  Nice to watch as you run.

Pretty picture of the snow. Nice to watch as you run.

The 2nd lap was uneventful as well.  However on the third lap I noticed a bunch of small kids gathering toward the point on the island. It looked like the kids were going to do a short loop around the parking lot.  Not wanting to get smoked by a bunch of 6 year-olds I picked up the pace a little and relaxed when I got to where I thought they would turn back for the parking lot.  Another victory in the books for Running Lonely!

National War College as seen from Hains Point.  Wonder what kind of keggers they throw?

National War College as seen from Hains Point. Wonder what kind of keggers they throw?

Another thing I like about Hains Point is that the park has heated restrooms.  I heeded natures call but when I emerged I saw the kids barreling down the road like a bunch of mini Usain Bolts.  Turns out they were running a 5K and I as in danger of getting passed.

It is a picture of the kid from Christmas Story who had 100 layers of clothes on to go out in winter

This is probably closer to the reality of the situation

I quickly kicked back into gear as the kids kicked for the line.  I thought I had it in hand when school bus came out of the parking lot and cut me off (coincidence, I think not).  However I got to the turn off before any of the munchkins managed to pass me.  I did get a few odd looks from the parents as I passed the turn off.

It is a pic of the author doing the #1 sign with his gloved hand.

My victory salute may have contributed to the looks I got.

So I completed the rest of my run but by the end my hamstring started to ache,  Was it Karma?  I prefer to think it was Hains Point taking another swipe at me.  Well we have another round scheduled for April during the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and we will see who has the last laugh.

The airport as seen from Hains Point.  Wonder if I could walk over to the runways.

The airport as seen from Hains Point. Wonder if I could walk over to the runways.

Later,

Marsden.

 

Phonetically Friday

Well I have gone through 14 drafts of this post and still basically have nothing to say. Or more specially, nothing I want to say.

As I have talked about before, last year was a year to plunge into running and see where it took me. The year is long since over, yet I am reluctant to move on to the next phase or commit to what I am doing. I’m just drifting without real purpose and it is not a feeling I enjoy.

I was reading a blog the other day on not giving in to negative self thought.  One of the quotes was “don’t say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say about a friend”.  Turns out my friends don’t seem to like being called dumb, fat and lazy.  Go figure.

A picture of several bunches of pink roses for Flowers for Friday

Here are your Flowers for Friday to make up for the horrible joke

Well after 20 near misses it finally snowed a couple of times in the DC area.  I was able to get a run in just as it started to snow last Saturday.  I enjoy running in the snow just as it starts to snow.  One, it is a good way to check how your foot strike looks and there is a certain peace in new snow.  Of course the bad news is it gets cold and it’s hard to find places to run which aren’t covered in ice.  Since I am pretty much an ice running wuss (and yes, if I had any friends left I would call them that if the situation arose) I have had to do some of my runs on the treadmill.  Great for keeping an even pace, but it gives me more time to think and these days that may not be the best plan of action.

It is a glove with a skeleton outline of a hand. It is shooting a bird to winter

Dear winter

Yellow tulips.  Nice and Spring like

More Flowers for Friday

So before I get too cranky, I will leave you with my hopes that you have a Pigtastic weekend!!

 

Later,

Marsden

 

Academy Awards

I’m a slow enough runner that I don’t complete for age group awards.  Heck, I’m usually thrilled to be in the top half of my age group.  So, if I am going to get any awards associated with running, I am pretty much going to have to give them to myself.  Here are my awards for the year.  Just be happy that this year I’m not forcing my acceptance speech on you.

Best Picture

It sure isn’t a selfie

The picture is the sun reflecting off the Potomac River

Best Picture. Maybe next year it will be my resignation letter from work.

Best Long Run

The week after Marine Corps marathon I had a great 13 mile long run.  The temps were great, the sun was shining, and I felt strong during the run.  If only the feeling lasted more than a day.

Another picture of the Potomac river with the run rising.

This picture wasn’t from that run, but captures the serenity somewhat.

Best Supporting Actor/Actress/Pig

It is a picture of a toy pig next to a picture of a runner running by the Charles River in Boston

Was there really any question who would win? The Pig struts his stuff by the Charles River in Boston

Best Special Effect

It is a picture of the author's running shoes and there is a red leaf that perfectly matches it.

What are the odds of finding a leaf that matched my shoes? Twinsies! (or Twinkie if you live in a specific area of Texas)

Well, it is time for the post award show after party.  I think I’ll wear this:

It is a t-shirt that reads "More people have read this shirt than your blog"

Sad but true

Later,

Marsden

The Hour

Picture of the Pig with a tiny snowman. Don't know why he doesn't make snowpigs.

This has nothing to do with the post, but I know you all love pictures of the Pig and a tiny snowman just makes  it just that much better.

I was in 8th grade and the rumor was sweeping through the school–The cross country team was going to run for a whole hour straight.  Most of my classmates where in awe since none of us had run anywhere close to an hour before.  My reaction was slightly different:

Oh hell I could do that

My classmates looked at me like I announced that I was running for Homecoming King and planned to take a super model to the dance (turns out that look was one I needed to get used to). One kid particularly was incredulous and went “Oh, yeah!” No doubt his parents would have been amazed at the intellectual discourse their tuition money was buying. “Yeah!” was my reply. My parents knew they were being ripped off, but they were just happy I wasn’t in public school getting my ass kicked for using terms like “intellectual discourse”.

 

The photo is of campus which looks like a small Midwest college and the school sits on the Tennessee River.  It is a school of a bunch of rich pricks.

My school from 7-12 grade. It is really something to see in the fall. Hillier than it looks in this stolen photo.

My school had a requirement to do something athletic after school.  If you were on a sports team, this met the requirement.  For us less industrious types there was something called General Athletics.   Basically you would check in at the start of the hour and then you could go off and play touch football, fencing, racquetball, volleyball or whatever struck your fancy. The bottom line was as long you didn’t get caught goofing off, you pretty much could do what you wanted for an hour.

Since I know no one would believe me if I didn’t have a witness, I recruited one of my friends to tag along and at the appointed time I went to check in with the teacher to start the hour.

We told the teacher we were going to run for an hour and got that “Are you kidding me” look that I still hadn’t gotten used to just yet.  We started to run just as the clock tower started to chime at the top of the hour.

We started with a lap to the front gate (not sure if it was to keep the world out, or us in) and back and once we did the lap we didn’t know what to do next since that was about as far as we had been required to run before.  We decided we would run up the hill of the main campus and back down.  After each segment it was like “Well we still have time, where to next?”

I don’t remember that much from the run, but we ended up running up and down most of the campus and ball fields and even managed to time it so we got back to check out just as the chimes ushered in the start of the next hour.  The teacher looked at the two sweaty 8th graders in front of him and said “See you tomorrow.”

I remember this as my earliest running challenge (well other than the whole running from dinosaurs thing this being the late 70s). This run started my basic pattern in running where I take on challenges not being prepared but managing to come out OK in the end.

Because, hell, I CAN do that.

Later,

Marsden

Great Expectations

It’s the moment that runners often fear.  You are at a party and you are suddenly talking to a non-runner.  Although your first inclination will be to turn and run, this doesn’t have to be your first course of action (and take it from me, the extra interval training of running away just leads  to never being invited back).

So what is a runner to do in this awkward situation?  You could discuss literature, but you haven’t read a book in months because you spend all your time training.  You could read Cliff Notes, but who has time for that either?(plus Cliff notes remind you of Cliff bars and gels and you can’t concentrate anyway)  Well like the IRS, I’m here to help.  Here are some short summaries of some books which you can use to impress those you may meet at a party.  This is my way of giving back to the running community.

 

A picture of a pine tree with snow.  It is pretty, unlike this blog post.

Once again the picture has zero to do with the post. Big ass surprise.

The Sound and The Fury

This is the saga of a person who learns how to foam roll for the first time.

Great Expectations

“It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs”. Oh, wait that is from “Tale of Two Marathons”.  This book chronicles the exhilaration that speed work provides when training for a 10K.

1984

This novel describes a dystopian future where Big Brother watches your every move.  Think timing chips and Strava.

Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

It’s kind of like the Tortoise and the Hare except the wardrobe just sits there.

Old Man and the Sea

This book is about swimming for cross training.

Rabbit Run

The story of fast trail runners and their quest for the finish line.  I do not recommend the sequel, Tortoise Run, because the plot drags along.

Catch-22

Bib number 22 has won the last 10 races, but this time the challengers think they can beat #22.

The Sun Also Rises

The powerful sequel to “The Sun Sets”, this is the story of a 24 hour runner who breaks down and crys at the sight of the sunrise. Not that I would ever do anything like this.  I didn’t have enough energy at sunrise to break down.

Gone with the Wind

A runner chasing a PR is foiled by a strong wind.  Anyone who has run a marathon in Virgina Beach knows how this story goes.

The Big Sleep

This blog writing is hard work.  My eyes are getting heavy…zzzzzzzzzzz

 

Later,

Marsden

 

Boredom and Fleece Lobsters

Well it has been a bit since I have done a training update.  This is partially because I haven’t really decided what I am training for and partially because I find writing about my training to be boring (though I’m sure humorous for my audience).

The next race I have on the docket is the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  I had toyed with doing a spring ultra, but my body didn’t really recover fast enough post 24 hour race for me to put in the miles needed for early spring ultra.  So I have been concentrating my weekend day runs on speed for the 10 miler and have been slowly increasing my long runs so maybe I could do an early summer 12 hour race.

Here is what is what my training looked like for the last week:

M- Swim Tue-6 miles goal pace W-Bike Th-6 miles goal pace F-Do nothing like the good Lord intended. Sat-11Mile long run. Sun-4.5 mile recovery run

I’m about to fall asleep talking about this.  Hang on, let me chug a Red Bull before I continue.

A selfie of the blog author looking like an idiot as usual.  This one covers his face so it is a slight improvement over usual.

Me prior to my run on Sunday. I was told I look liked a fleece lobster. No word on it was one was of the rock variety.

I have had some difficultly deciding on what pace to run my “race pace runs”.  For now, targeting 10 miler race pace works just fine, but as I increase the mileage of my weekday runs over the coming weeks, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to run 10 miles at race pace twice a week.  If I was going to do that I could just save myself the money of race registrations and the embarrassment of running in public (see photo above if you need a reminder of why that might be).

Then there is the matter of what is my target for the CUCB 10 miler?  I would certainly like to take 5 minutes off my time from last year and I don’t think it would be out of the question to knock 10 minutes off my time from last year if everything went my way on race day (of course I thought I would be married with two kids by this point in my life so my thought processes are somewhat suspect).

So far I have been gearing my training toward the more aggressive goal and have been hitting my training targets. However, I am getting to the point where I should either focus on speed for a 10 miler or distance for a summer ultra (or maybe I will go hybrid and mess both up).

Decisions, decisions.  At least with a Red Bull in me, I won’t be able to sleep tonight and will have plenty of time to think about it some.

Later,

Marsden

 

Flying Friday

I have a lot bouncing around in my head at the moment, but I will spare you the details for now. I feel my life is in a transition and I have made the leap from one slide of the chasm but currently I am suspended in midair. There isn’t anything I can do to impact where I land, but I do notice it’s a long way down if I don’t make it to the other side.

This is why I don’t write motivational posters for a living.

So here are some flowers for Friday and a Pig picture. Because whose life isn’t improved by a pig and flowers?

It is a picture of The Pig with a bunch of bannas.  It is cute.

It’s the weekend, go bananas.

A picture of yellow dafadils.  Flowers for Friday

Spring has sprung (if you are inside Whole Foods) Flowers for Friday.

 

A picture of some purple flowers and an unusual light orange rose. Flowers for Friday part 2.

Flowers for Friday part 2.

Everyone have a Pigstatic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

Smarter(ish)

With age comes wisdom.  Well, that is what I have been told anyway.  Personally I’m waiting for the wisdom to wash over me, but until that day I have gone back and looked at my running to figure out how I have been smarter about my running over the years.

The picture is of a lake with the sunrise coming up.  It is a nice picture despite the fact it has nothing to do with this post.

Another picture that has nothing to do with the post. I have found that WordPress readers won’t notice new posts in their feed if there is not a pretty picture.

1. Old Me: No training plan.  I would just go and wing it.

New Me: Training plan in place, I reserve winging it for race day.

2. Old Me: Would run in place at stop lights.

New Me: Throws empty cans at passing cars to provide a little extra motivation for that next interval.

3. Old Me: Starts too fast at races.

New Me: Would start too fast at races if I could still go that fast.

4. Old Me: Tube socks

New Me: Compression socks.   Hey wait, it’s the same darn thing just 40 bucks more expensive!

5. Old Me:Distracting your friends to try to hide the fact your run went like crap.

New Me: Post pretty pictures on Instagram to hide the fact that your run went like crap.

6. Old Me: Wore shoes until there were holes in the sole.

New Me: Puts every run into a spreadsheet for each pair of shoes and then I wear shoes until there are holes in the sole.

So who says I am not getting smarter over time?  Wow, that was loud chorus.  I couldn’t quite make it out so I assume that you all said yes.  Self delusion is one thing that never changes.

Later,

Marsden

The Poetry of Running (Florid Friday)

There is a website that will take your Twitter feed and turn it into a poem.  The site is called Poetweet. Here is an example of what comes out of my Twitter feed (and yes, I will tie it in with my running later on).

This is bad poetry and I will spare you the pain

The schools explains much about the failure of the educational system

I did this with the AbbyAndThePig feed as well.

For food
by AbbyAndThePig

They wouldn’t let and I park here
Crime scene tape on the front door.
What’s the treat status there?
To your window on the 2nd floor?!!?

Spring is just around the corner
Wow, pet stores deliver!
I’m looking for the can opener!
Share?— she means hand it all over.

I prefer the term entertaining!
Good house cleaner from last time.
That’s a good thing!
Partners in crime
Pig! Best of luck in your training!

 

What does this have to do with anything?  It feels a lot like my running of late.  It makes some sense, but it is mostly jumbled and comes out a mess (which is a decent summary of my blog as well).   I guess I had hopes that I would come out my 24 hour race stronger and faster which would allow me to tackle the big dreams I have bouncing around in my head.  It was an unrealistic expectation but I rarely let realism get in the way of being disappointed.  It is left me to ponder if I should double down on my efforts or take my foot off the accelerator and just coast (either way I can mix my metaphors).

Typically I would just coast.  Back in 2004 I spent 9 months working to lower my half marathon PR.  I worked hard.  I did lower my PR.  I was left with the feeling afterwards that it was a heck of a lot of effort for a measly 4 minutes off my PR.  I decided I would coast at that point and my half marathon time stayed stagnate  for the next 8 years.  The times weren’t great, but given the effort I was putting in, I wasn’t going to sweat it (pun intended).

Last year I went back to putting in hard work but most of my results were more along the running further distance than any speed increase (though I did managed to knock two more minutes off my half marathon PR).

So I feel I am at a fork in the road (which beats a spork for sure).  I am looking at the time, effort, and possible gains and weighing against the other things I can do with time and money (the Pig and I visiting Key West sounds good right about now).  I hit 50 this year and just maintaining becomes harder and harder and improvement take more on top of that.  All things to ponder, but probably not on a beach in Key West.

But I will leave you with something less depressing.  Here are your flowers for Friday.

Yellow Tulips for you as part of Flowers for Friday

Flowers for Friday

Later,

Marsden