Sunday, August 28, 2016

Goals anc achieving them

I’ve decided to change this blog up. Up until now I have been doing the normal oh race report here maybe a little talk there but honestly do you really care about someone’s race report that much unless they take amazing pictures during the race which I don’t I am too focused. So lets make this a blog and not a journal look at what I did here and oh here and sure I might throw those in somewhere again but lets change things.

So what do we want to talk about lets talk about race goals first yep its still on my mind. So I hear people say sometimes oh I just wanted to have fun and oh I had no goal in mind but I almost always want to yea horse shit you have some idea of what you want to run. Maybe you don’t want to admit it out loud or maybe its buried deep down and you aren’t going to voice it. But yea even if you haven’t trained at all and have zero chance of doing it cmon admit it that sub 4 or that sub 2 or that 10 minute mole is still there in your mind. Yea sure you know you got no chance at it but you kind of want to go for it but you know your training or lack there of won’t allow it so you do it for fun.

Now that’s not to say that sometimes yea you are just out there to run for fun or with no time goal but to finish heck even me who’s so competitive with myself has done that sometimes but I think most of the time you are like hell yea if I can go x in y time it would be amazing. I had an older gentleman once tell me that he does it for fun and that his pr day’s are gone so yea he’s just out there to do it and enjoy it still. I told him well I am still young and I can still pr so yea while I still can and before time catches me I am sure as hell going to try for it as often as I possibly can. Heck I can see myself at 65 just trying to set a new 60-70 year old pr, maybe my pr’s will need to change soon I can run as a master maybe I will have to make my new pr’s master pr’s but screw that I only started running when I was 33 I still can beat those times.

So I started to look at my race goals normally I go into a race with a stretch goal, a A goal and a B goal. I know there is probably zero chance I make that stretch goal unless I have that one magical unicorn race and those are so rare and amazing by damn you don’t find that unicorn that often. It’s there though because it’s the goal that hey maybe you don’t get it today unless you have that magically perfect race but you won’t to get it eventually and it’s what you work at. As I have raced over the years that stretch goal has changed and evolved. When I first started running when I had no dreams of running a marathon it was to run a sub 30 5k and 2:11 half. Why a 2:11 half marathon well that happens to be exactly a 10 minute mile. I had no delusions of a sub 2 half I just wanted to beat a 10 minute mile for 13.1 miles that was all. So my first sub 2 was anticlimactic and actually might be the closest I have ever come to that magical unicorn race and meeting a stretch goal (heck I might have its hard to remember what your stretch goal was five years later unless you wrote it down) where and to date I still consider it the best race I have ever run.

The reason being was because I was chasing that 10 minute mile which I got in August of 2011 running a 2:08:47 shortly before my first marathon and then the very next half marathon I ran I blew it out of the water running a 1:55:31 just that November. I remember knocking my gloves out of my pocket at mile 2 or 3 and actually backtracking to get them other than that it was a nearly perfect and flawless race for my current fitness. That’s when the goal became a sub 4 marathon because I just ran a sub 2 half. Just the month before my stretch goal had been a 4:30 marathon with a sub 5 as my A goal. All of a sudden the sub 4 was born off that one magical race.

But those races when I hit my A goal have been so rare and far between that 1:55 half running my first sub 30 5k, running my first sub 1 hour 10k, running that sub 5 marathon and then surprisingly this year with my half ironman with my 7:16 as my stretch goal for the 70.3 has been and still is sub 7. My B goal is almost always to PR who doesn’t want to PR. That B goal always means every time you hit it it’s just going to be that much harder to hit it the next time and the next time. It’s hard to be sad about PRing although yea I have been disappointed in PRs like my half pr as I was on pace for my stretch goal of a 1:45 all the way up to mile 10 when I stopped to tie my shoes and couldn’t get going again. It’s devastating to go from running 8 minute miles to 9-10 minutes struggling to finish.

The last few years I have had to settle for knowing all I was going to do was finish but even then I tried to hit some type of time goal. I wanted to run a 4:45 at the marathon last year I still wanted to run sub 2 at all my halves even though I knew I had let myself slip to where I couldn’t anymore. I think goals are important and your stretch goal is something you should always be reaching for I hope soon to finally get that sub 4 which would have been a stretch goal once and now is an A goal as my stretch goal is starting to look like a BQ. Always evolving always changing and always altering.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Is Boston possible?

I think at one time or another every runner thinks about Boston at some point. It’s that pinnacle of running the one race you just can’t sign up for or throw your hat into a lottery to get in. It’s that race you have to qualify for and be somewhat good at this thing we call running and or our hobby to do so. I am aware of the charity route and I don’t look down on anyone who goes that route but to me that route personally would seem like cheating like buying an entry into the most prestigious marathon out there. The reason it feels like cheating is because I know deep down if I put the time in, the effort in, the blood, sweat and tears in I could qualify. It would be hard, it would be a lot of work, it would be a lot of sacrifices but I know I could do it. So buying my entry rather than earning my entry feels cheapened. To line up at Boston knowing that I put all that time, that effort, that hard work to get there would be the greatest feeling ever.

For the first time in years I can actually think about Boston again, when I was running 5 hour marathons because of lack of training or my focus being elsewhere (life or triathlon it makes no difference) Boston was a fleeting dream no where in the realm of reality. But after spending the last 10 months regaining my speed and training hard and going for my first sub 4 shortly I could actually possibly think about Boston once more. I know don’t get ahead of myself get that sub 4 first heck I’ll easily beat my 5:17 at Saint George last year without barely trying. But that leaves the realm of what now after spending the better part of the last year training hard. The thing is I know I have the speed my last timed mile was a 6:46 in February (I want to retime a mile after marathon training but don’t want to mess with my training to do so right now) so I know I can run the 7:27 mile my BQ would require me to run it. Heck I should be able to run a 5k around that range right now (I ran a 23:44 5k in March which is a 7:39 average close to what I would need) but the trick is getting it from a 5k to 26.2 miles. Do I want to spend the next year putting in the effort, the blood, the sweat and the tears. First things first though Big Cottonwood and the goal I have chased since 2011.

Back at it again Sub 4 or bust

I think I have always had a love for running but never explored it until I was in my 30’s. You will always hear people say no way would I ever want to do High School again but me it’s different I would love to do High School again and join the track club and see how fast I could get when I was still young and before I let myself get so fat. I remember being 20 years old and my whole goal in running was just to have that six minute mile like the fast kids in High School and Middle School. I wasn’t fat in high school I just didn’t do much running so I was always that slow kid that ran the 12-13 minute mile during the mile tests they made you do. I remember redoing those miles tests at 20 and I did time myself in the 6 minute range but no idea how accurate that was as I am pretty sure I just figured the distance off the odometer of my car and used a wrist watch for the time (hey it was the late 90’s I am not even sure GPS existed yet much less your fancy garmin watch you probably were still using road maps or if you were fancy like me directions you printed off mapquest before making a trip). That was my whole goal when I was 20 just to run a fast mile to make up for those painfully slow ones in school. I don’t think I ever ran more than 2.5 miles, I didn’t know what a 5k was and was only vaguely aware of what a marathon was I just wanted a good mile time.

Fast forward more than a decade and 200 plus pounds when I started running again was because yea I have always loved it. I started walking it was just a mile and half every day for the year of 2009 354 out of 365 days that year. Near the end of the year I started running bit by bit mostly just the last block home because who doesn’t like to sprint to the finish. When I did my first 5k after learning what one was (hey running has taught me the metric system better than school ever did) it was just 39-40 minutes I didn’t keep logs yet so I don’t know the exact times (the first logs I kept for my running has my 5k times in the 36-37 minute range). But I was happy with that I mean just two years prior I was so winded running to first base in a kickball league I had people offer to base run for me even though I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine I will do my own base running even if I die thank you very much.

I have always been gungho and kind of leap in with both feet I signed up for my first 5k in August of 2010 and by November of 2010 I was signed up for my first half marathon that I finished in disastrous fashion. But anyone who races knows the addiction better than crack and I am quite sure more expensive. So yea you want to do better so you sign up again forgetting the pain and in the beginning it is so easy to get faster it seems like you will pr forever. I pred in the first 16 races I did, I mean my half went from a 2:30, to a 2:20, to a 2:13, to a 2:08 to a 1:55 in rapid succession within a years’ time. Heck that 1:55 I ran in November of 2011 I still consider it one of the best races I have ever run to this day (still no Garmin just a cheap Timex watch I got for $15 at Target but better than my first half when I didn’t own a watch so I memorized songs every 15 minutes on my iPod so I knew how long I had been running oooh Indian Outlaw is on I must have been running for 45 minutes now) and it still stands as the 4th fastest half I have ever run.

So from 2010-2012 I got nothing but faster trimming my half from a 2:30 to a 1:50 and my marathon which was a pretty good debut of a 4:58 down to a 4:18. When I first started running I dreamed of a sub 20 5k then I realized I really don’t like 5ks (don’t get me wrong running a fast 5k can be as difficult as running a fast marathon maybe even more so it’s just not my cup of tea) heck I don’t even remember the last time I even tried to race a 5k maybe 2012 I have just been counting my 5k pr off splits from half marathons or a 10k because I seriously haven’t raced one in forever. So then my goal became a sub 2 half which I got pretty early on so I decided I wanted a sub 4 marathon and a 1:45 half. 2012 was my banner year it was when I was my fastest and all my pr’s were set. It seemed both those goals were just out of reach and I would get them soon.

2013 I consider that little shelf right below the peak that makes you think oh I am still just right here but I am just a little off. I still was easily running sub 2’s (I ran 4 that year with also what I consider one of my better races of a 1:59 at STG half not because it was my fastest but because it was done on a much harder course then where I was setting my pr’s of Snow Canyon and Bryce or even Parowan. I have yet to do a true cheater course though like Big Cottonwood, Timp or Drop 13 as I consider Snow Canyon or Bryce a step below those as while yea you get some pretty good downhills the first half of those races the second half of those races suck in comparison and take some grit to hang on through rollers) and my marathon was decent with a 4:25. You are like I am still right there I will get that sub 4 soon, you can still see the peak you are still pretty close to it. 2014 wasn’t kind to me at all though. I had a rough first half of the year and decided to once more make an attempt for that elusive marathon pr. I knew it was unlikely at the time as my best half that year was a 2:01 I ran at Parowan as the peak was getting further and further away, I just couldn’t seem to close the gap any longer. Then I had my major bicycle accident that led to my worst marathon to date (to be fair no way should I have even done the race as I was just 6 weeks off a major accident and an ambulance ride to the ER without being able to run more than 4 miles because after that I would be pretty close to lying down and dying from sheer exhaustion (it’s an odd phenomenon to go from being able to run a half marathon every single weekend to being near death after just 4 miles).

2015 was even worse, things arose that led me to me being my laziest in more than 5 years and all desire just kind of seeped out of me. I spent more time watching Netflix than I did running that summer but I did get through all 7 seasons of Buffy and a couple seasons of the Shield and was starting to round the corner on the X-Files. Those heights and speeds of 2012 were long gone, heck even running a sub 2 now seemed impossible something that had been so easy from 2012-2013. It was August and remembering how miserable my 2014 marathon had been on no training I was like oh crap I guess I should train. That led to what was basically a 4 week marathon training program that consisted of two half marathons (including my slowest Parowan in 2:09) and one 19 mile long run then a taper. On August 20th I weighed myself and I hit my highest weight since 2010 and was like no uh huh not happening and promptly lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks before the marathon. I didn’t run the most terrible race putting up a 5:17 but that was still almost an hour slower than my pr of 2012.

Then I made a major mistake I decided to sign up for a second marathon a week later just to get into the Guinness book of world records. I hadn’t trained for the first marathon now I was doing a second one a week later. I came out of that not feeling very well and for the next three months I would be peeing blood after any hard workout and in an utter state of exhaustion the entire three months. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong I had wanted to do a full ironman in 2016 and had been saving up for it. But I could barely get through workouts and was crashing really hard. Then in January I woke up in major pain peeing blood again and ended up in the instacare the moment they opened. I had an infection, I had had the infection for probably three months which is what had caused the exhaustion. I was put on antibiotics and told not to ride my bike for 4 weeks which meant no ironman as I could no longer train for it. The antibiotics also seemed to rob me of my immune system as for the next 2 and half months I was non stop sick. I would get the flu on a Tuesday get over it by Friday then have a cold by Saturday night. All told I had the flu 3 times, 3 colds and 2 stomach bugs that seemed to stretch on for months on end.

The only good thing that came out of being so sick as when I started to train in November I was base building for the ironman so I was doing a lot of speedwork. With the help of Justin Snyder who I cannot thank enough and months and months of relentless speedwork every week, week after week at the track all winter I suddenly found my speed again. When told not to bike I shifted all my focus to running and decided this would be the year I got that elusive sub 4. Non stop sick I still hit the track every week, my miles were low but my quality was high. I had saved up quite a bit for the ironman so decided to take my very first racecation and traveled to New York City for a half marathon. I had more fun than I had had in years. And I ran my fastest half since Parowan in 2014 taking it more as a training run with intentions of trying to race a pr the following Saturday at Southern Utah half marathon. After 5 days in New York averaging 10 miles a day walking and 24 miles the day of the half marathon I came home probably more tired than when I left. Southern Utah half did not go as planned as we were racing into a 25 mph headwind that never stopped the entire race coupled with the exhaustion I was still feeling from New York. I knew by mile 3 that if I tried to hold my pr pace that I would blow up sometime long before the finish so I made a tactical decision and let off the gas just three miles into the race deciding to try and run my first sub 2 since November of 2013 instead. I was very pleased with my results as I ran a 1:57 on very tired legs into a headwind that made me want to weep at times. I knew just six months prior that race would have easily been a 2:20 if not worse so I was happy with the end results.

I made the decision that I wanted to make my sub 4 attempt at Big Cottonwood despite being told that Saint George was a lot easier. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone though somewhere I reside too often and do something new and different though. One of my greatest weaknesses has always been mental toughness when it comes to runs. Starting out walking then slowly running led me to taking walk breaks throughout my running career even long after I didn’t need them. I could pace or run an entire half marathon without walking as long as I was running with someone but if I would go for even a three mile run around my house I would be taking walk breaks every mile. I spent all winter conquering that weakness and now no longer take a single walk break on any of my runs (it took me over six months to totally break the habit and I recently finished a 20 mile run with zero walk breaks). My other weakness has been hills something I also worked on all winter running up and valley view drive over and over and over until I no longer even thought about the hills. So yes Saint George might be easier but for me I wanted to a race where I am not thinking oh look this is where the wheels fell off in 2012 or man I could have done better here in 2013. My tune up half was Bryce Canyon and that was a disastrous race from my car catching on fire to getting picked up on the side of the road, to almost zero sleep, to completely running out of energy half way through the race. I wasn’t even trying to set a big pr just a minute or two and it still galls me even a month later. I know it’s my third fastest half I have ever run only behind the two pr’s I set at Snow Canyon and Bryce in 2012 but I really wanted that pr. I knew going in that I had run more miles then I had ever run in a 6 week period, I knew my legs were tired but I wanted it so bad and even though it was my fastest race since 2012 I walked away disappointed. I am trying to pump myself up I know my training is there, I know after a taper my legs won’t be so tired but that stupid self doubt won’t go away, had I got the pr at Bryce it would have boosted me. I broke down my 2012 race, with 18 miles to go I still only needed to average the 9:09 and was perfectly on pace as you should be negative splitting the second half of Saint George. Even at mile 21 and after Ledges with all that is left is the fast downhill to the finish and I still only needed to average a 8:30 mile but that’s where the wheels came off the bus and instead of running 5 miles in 45 minutes I ran 5 miles in 1:03. The pinnacle is right there again I can see it again I know I am right there once more. I am no longer near the bottom like I was in 2015 but after chasing a goal for so long and so many years I can’t but help but feel apprehensive. It seems like this goal that has been there for years and years just won’t let me grab it. I wrote this to clear my mind not even sure if I would post it, this isn’t taper madness this is peak training madness with legs that feel like veal cutlets hoping and praying all the hard work will finally pay off.