Sunday, January 20, 2013

I really should update this more often

Wow, I didn't realize that I hadn't updated this in nearly a year... because I ran 2 more half marathons in 2012 than I had originally planned, and I ran 2 1/2 of the last three, um injured...

So here are the six half marathon races that I finished in 2012:

Shamrock'n' Half Marathon (fastest time in 2012) -  I really thought I got off to a great start to a season of faster times - but noooo... (although I ran this 10 minutes faster than 2011).

Parkway Half Marathon (heat killed me, 81 year old guy passed me like dropping a bad date) - OTOH, I ran it like 1 second faster than 2011, but nowhere near my PR for this course and overall half marathon PR I set back in 2007...

Run on the Sly Trail Half Marathon (actually 13.9 miles or something like that) - Sierra "foothills" - if you consider running at 3500' to 4500' not "being in the mountains".

Urban Cow Half Marathon (rolled my ankle on the K Street ped plaza about 6+ miles in (we actually ran almost an extra 3/4 mile at the beginning because the cyclist leading Wave 1 made a wrong turn in Land Park - I ran the last 7 miles of this race on an injured ankle - hell, if Scott Jurek can run Badwater 4 days after spraining an ankle I figured I could hobble 7)... the last mile was pure torture and I dragged my left leg to the car like Mr. Q when I sat for a few minutes at the med tent with an ice bag. The Monday after - Columbus Day - was a *bad* day of pain on the couch.

Lake Natoma Half Marathon - I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this 3 weeks after stupidly stepping in a tree planter hole in front of Macy's. I discovered KT tape, taped the crud out of my left ankle, as well as hitting the bike on the drainer hard for a week and a half, and actually beat my 2011 Lake Natoma time by a few minutes... it was a giggle fest at the finish line after I screamed "OH YEAH" at the finish line...

Davis Turkey Trot Half Marathon - so I was feeling cocky after bagging a half marathon and a half and signed up for this < 3 weeks (by 1 day) after finishing Lake Natoma. I figured that this was a flat, easy course - except the weather picked that day to rain with winds out of the SE at 20-30 mph. Some of the open parts outside Davis were *hell*, but I stuck with the 2:15 pacer and came in at 2:13 something... 3 halfs in about six weeks. I was very pleased with my season! It wasn't a return to sub 2:00 races like I'd hoped, but I got a lot of races in and I fought through a stupid injury.

I also knocked off a 10K (the Super Bowl Sunday Run), a 5K (Race for the Arts) and the Sactown 10 miler. In terms of running a good hard race timewise, Race for the Arts and the Sactown 10 miler went really well.

I'm signed up for Davis Stampede Half on 2/3 - last did it in 2008 after finishing the 2007 CIM - and Shamrock'n' again in March. Beyond that, I'm pretty open this year. I probably won't do more than four halfs this year, but if I do Urban Cow (I'm not sure if I'll do Parkway this year) in October, Lake Natoma in October, and Davis Turkey Trot again that makes five... I could be *really* hardcore and do  the Clarksburg County Run Half between Lake Natoma and Davis Turkey Trot - that would be a half marathon 3 weekends in a row... or nearly. That could be an interesting challenge...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

run for the beer - or - the 2012 shamrock'n half marathon race report

Today was my first of 4 half marathons this year, again, I've signed up for the same four that I ran in 2011. I was curious if I'd be able to surpass my half marathon time from October of 2:09:49. I'd put in the miles during the winter, I'd rested my legs, but I didn't get a good night's sleep - the cats decided to play Wild Stampeding Herd all night - so I only got about four hours.

I'd changed my Wave start from Wave 2 to Wave 1. This was because the pace groups were only offered in 10 minute increments this year - your choice was either 2:00 or 2:10; there was no 2:05. In retrospect, this was a mistake, as I ended up going out way too fast, hanging with the 2:00 pace group until Mile 3 and then dropping back and running my own race.

Anyway, got up at 5:00, ate a couple of waffles, showered, and drove over my parking garage where I have my monthly pass, which also is only about a 10 minute walk from Raley Field in West Sacramento. Weather was perfect - upper 40s/cloudy at the start and it stayed cloudy and around 50 for the entire race.

It was nice that the road construction around the baseball stadium is complete. Nice roads to run in and out on, and it made the finish/start MUCH smoother than last year. Hit the bathroom, went to the start corral, and then, as I said, kept up with 2:00 group for 3 miles and dropped back. It was quite obvious that going much under my Urban Cow time was going to be very difficult today, so it became more a matter of whether I would break it at all.

Usually, I feel decent after Mile 4, but I never caught a good groove this entire race. It was a struggle all the way, and as a consequence, I actually don't remember that much of the course - I just wanted to finish, get my medal, maybe drink a beer, and go home. I also usually have no problem eating my Gu, but neither the first or the second I took set very well at all. I thought around Mile 8.5 that I was going to hurl big time, and the nausea came and went the rest of the way. I did walk through the water stations and did three short walks, which ultimately end up costing me finishing under 2:10 - official finish time was 2:10:48 - about a minute slower than Urban Cow, where I had the pacer. If I'd stayed in Wave 2 and ran with the 2:10 group I think I would have posted a better time. My Garmin times were all over the map.

OTOH, I wasn't nearly as wiped out at the finish as I was last year, where I could barely walk up the stairs from the baseball field to the mezzanine. I had to sit and stop shaking last year. This time, I was sore but not a total mess. I ran into a colleague that works for another agency at the finish, we went and had the free beer and I headed on home. I guess my approach to this race was very businesslike this time - just wanted to get it done. Later, after I cleaned up, we went to Burgers and Brew on R Street and I ingested massive amounts of protein... gonna be sore tomorrow... :p

Sunday, February 5, 2012

its not journey without steve perry! or super bowl sunday 10K race report

(time is crawling... is it time for Downton Abbey yet? ah, addiction)...

I hate 10Ks. I loathe this distance, but, hey, its a new year, its my first race of the year, and my first race in the 50 on up AG (age group).

Why do I hate 10Ks? Well, they hurt, just like a 5K, except 2x as long. In a 5K, you run like hell the 1st mile, you hold on for the 2nd, and for the 3rd, you try to keep running like hell so you can throw up at the end. Throwing up makes the 5K all worthwhile, right? Anyway, a 10K is pretty much like a 5K, except its 2x the fun (sarcasm intended). I figured that I might as well get it out of the way early this year as the first race - I opted for this one over one of the Davis Stampede races (which are always the first Sunday in February) because, well, rather than drive 25 minutes over to Davis and fight for a parking spot, this race started @ Sac States campus, with plenty of parking, right next to Hornet Stadium, I live a little over a mile in a straight line from the Sac State campus, and, even better, this race starts at 9 am, so it was not necessary to drag myself out of bed at o'dark'o'clock.

So far, I'm signed up for five races this year - Super Bowl Sunday 10K (now finished), Shamrock'n' Half Marathon, Sactown 10 miler, the Parkway Half Marathon, the Urban Cow Half Marathon, and when registration opens for the Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon next month, I'll sign up for that one as well, and I'll do Apple Hill again, and, probably use the Buffalo Stampede as a training run for Urban Cow (I mean, if I'm going to run 10 miles I might as well do a race). I know I live in the middle of a cycling mecca but I'm much better at running than I am cycling and running is not nearly the pain in the butt that cycling is, in terms of all the crap you've got to have (like a bike, bike shoes, helmet, bike clothes, etc.). I mean, I love to ride but I don't like to ride like I'm in a competition - its much more fun to ride for fun.

Anyway, that digression aside, the purpose of this race was to continue to gage my comeback from IT band injury, and see how the aging process is affecting running. I figured that this race would give me somewhat of a gauge of a realistic finishing time for Shamrock'n' in six weeks (where I will have a pacer available). My goal, other than finishing well regardless of how I feel, is to have a good race, and I thought, based on how I've felt and my weekly 10 mile run training times since last Fall, was to see if I could shave 2 minutes off of my 10K time from April 2010 (Zoo Zoom). I've never been a good 10K runner, I can pull off a decent 5K (sometimes) - 10 miles to half marathon are more natural distances for me to run. I have tons of stamina but no speed. I can also train for 10 mile to half marathon races without having the mileage take over my life on a daily basis (like marathoning does... that's a 16-20 week commitment and it becomes mentally draining about 2/3rds in). But a 10K is a good indication of how I'll run a half in the relatively near future (I actually tend to post better half marathon times than predicted by McMillan based on my 10K times - I don't pace real well in any race distance under 10 miles).

So, I just sort of took my time getting up this morning; race temperature was perfect - < 50 @ start, I'd put my stuff out the night before, ate a banana, hit the shower (seems weird but I don't like going to races with my hair sticking up in multiple directions, and I do not like wearing a hat unless its really cold or windy), stuck in my contacts (I was mildly tempted to wear my new plastic hipster frames but given that I've not worn plastic frames in > 30 years - you Don't Do Something New on race day), grabbed my sunglasses and drove over to Lot 8 at Sac State, adjacent to Hornet Stadium.

It was still coolish (you could see your breath) when I pulled in the lot at 8-ish. I could've probably waited a half hour - there was still plenty of parking - but I sat in the car and stayed warm until 8:30, hit the port-potty, and listened to a high school drum corps bang around while the Sac State cheerleaders stood around looking very cold in their cheerleader outfits (yes, standing there in a running bra and skirt could NOT have been fun - kudos to them for showing up). The unofficial results shows about 1,000 runners - its a good thing that there weren't more or the course would've been hopelessly crowded. We ran across part of the Sac State campus, crossed the same Guy West pedestrian bridge that connects to the bike trail and ran through the neighborhoods on the north side of the American River before returning to the campus and the finish chute.

Although I'd rested a bunch for this race - I only ran 17 miles this week and 3x - and I slept well most of the week, I felt a little tired for the first two miles. At one point, I was down into the 7s in the first mile, letting myself get caught up in the start rush, but within the first two miles I settled into what ended up being a 9:12 mile - I might've run 10 seconds or so faster per mile, overall, if I'd paced myself a little better, but given that it takes me about 4 miles to fully warm up, pacing is just hanky for shorter races like a 10K (maybe one of these days I'll get a runner to pace me - you don't see pace teams for 10Ks, as a general rule). Anyway, if my pacing had been more even, I wouldn't have faded like I did in Miles 5 and 6, although I was only about a minute slower for the second half than I was for the first.

I didn't take water at any of the stations... while the temp jumped about 10 degrees as the sun came up (it was in the 50s by the time we finished), its just a slow down and a distraction if its not hot and I was well-hydrated from the get go. At the halfway station, I slurped down a chocolate Gu, tossed the packet in the general direction of a trash box (thanks to all the volunteers!)... I picked off a few runners in the last two miles, and smiled a bit at 5 knowing that I would cut at least 2 minutes off my 2010 10K time.

Right before 5, we turned through a neighborhood where two either late teen/early 20 girls were cheering us on and waving the flags, and Journey was playing on the radio, and they were yelling "Yeah! Journey! Woo! Run faster to the music!" and I yelled "Its NOT Journey without Steve Perry!" And they said (my jaw dropped) "Who's Steve Perry?" Me: "The leader singer for Journey on that song!" Them: "It doesn't matter who sings!" Me: "ARE YOU NUTS? ITS NOT JOURNEY WITHOUT STEVE PERRY!"

God, I'm getting old, or the lack of musical education in this country is something to worry about. I mean,  ITS NOT JOURNEY WITHOUT STEVE PERRY. Geesh.

Anyway, ran across the ped bridge, up a ramp near the stadium, and got into the finish chute and the last 1/10th of a mile, and then this big buff dude - like the giant cop that was trying to pass me in the last 1/10th of Race for the Arts a few years ago - thought that he was going to run by this little guy like I was standing still. We locked eyes, he started to sprint - and this guy was probably 25-30 or so, maybe even younger but definitely not a student - I turned on the afterburners and dropped him like a bad date... I think I heard him mutter "s*** or f***" as I pulled away and hurled myself across the finish line, screaming "GIANTS SUCK!" (look at all the good that did, though :-p).

Unofficial results were 17/35 Age Group, basically my best AG finish to date in a large field (other than my 3rd place in a very small 5K a few years ago), 57:07 chip time - not bad for a crowded first mile and a course I've never run before with a lot of twists and turns. A little lightheaded after the sprint at the end but no hurl. I enjoyed this event, for having a thousand runners, it didn't feel that crowded or two weird. I passed on the post-race hot dog - as I had the intent to go home and do 4 miles so I'd have my weekly 10 miler in... not a bad time considering I'm heavier, older and slower but my PR for this distance is 55ish (don't remember what it really is, actually) so to be within 2 minutes is excellent and I think I can actually pull off a decent run at Shamrock'n' with the pacer - I'm thinking of doing the 2:00 pacer (they don't have a 2:05) but I think I might be able to pull off 2:00+ IF I lose 10 pounds in the next six weeks. I ran 9:12 with uneven pacing; 9:09 for a 2:00 half is totally doable with some weight loss and smart training.

Oh, I did finish the 4 - about fell over halfway through - had to stop, eat some bananas, drink some water and speed walked the 2nd 2. 10 is 10, and I left all I had on the course. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

once i went through 200 pages of typing paper a week

But I wasn't typing. When I was a child, I loved - loved - to draw. I even got sort of good at cartoons - not really good, and by the time I discovered playing guitar when I was 14, and how much I enjoyed (and still do) expressing myself musically, I had kind of burnt out on drawing.

But I drew a *lot* up to that point. Mom was always going to Place's dimestore, which I think was at the SW corner of 42nd St and University in DSM, and grabbing me a new pack of typing paper to draw on. Dad had a poster size "year at a glance" calendar that he kept on his wall down at WHO-TV, and for several years, he would bring it home - when the year ended - and I would draw whatever I wished to draw on it, and then that large composite picture - usually with lots of rockets, strange planets, and aliens blasting those rockets and planets to smithereens on it - ended up on the wall next to his film editing bench. My father was an odd duck, he was never very vocal about expressing his love for me - I'm still not entirely sure that he really did 'love' me, actually, although I think he was proud of me - but he insisted that I draw that stuff so he could put it up in his office. One of the cool things, back in the days before things like security were worried about, when WHO was down in rented space on Walnut, I was able to walk into the place - in the middle of the day even - and see my Dad working. Drove down there several times as a teen... when they moved to their own building across from the old Tech High School security got cranked down and it wasn't so easy to just walk in and see him.

Anyhow, I digress, because of my two children, the one that likes to draw is Meredith (and write). Davis - who I think has enormous musical talent but doesn't seem to be tapping it - is more inclined to build things with his hands and in his mind. Its not really important to him to creatively express himself, although he's glued to reading material as I was a child (and he also would rather live in the world of his mind than exercise or hang out with other kids). I also am rather stunned by how socially awkward he is, until I realize that he and I are exactly the same in that aspect (although he's mellower and has a sunnier personality than I do)... 

So with him just turning 12, I gave him what he wanted for his birthday, which was Mario Kart (insert version # here) for the 3DS that he got (along with his sister getting one) for Christmas. I'm not really fond of all the video game crap, but, I'm not in a place to enforce limited video game time because they're living in CT with their mother during the school year, and there are some battles that simply aren't worth the price of picking. Anyway, this year, I did not so much cave - as he is *always* asking for (insert hottest/latest game name here) a video game for the gad zillion gadgets he and his sister have (different world than mine, I know - I had shortwave radios, an electronics 100-in-1 kit, a chemistry set, those sorts of things) - as I figured it was time to perhaps surprise him with exactly what he asked for. I rationalize this by figuring that he'll understand, when he gets older, that by giving him what he wants not every single time that he will appreciate what he gets and to not take Dad for granted as a human ATM machine.

Meredith and he are exactly 25 months apart to the day, and her birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and she has emailed me her list (and yes, she typed and emailed it herself. Their level of computer skills is pretty decent, which says a lot about how easy computers have gotten to use vs. 10-15 years ago). She wants clay, a book on either how to draw - or pictures of - dragons, and plastic flowers. Her plan is to sculpt dragons, fire them in the oven, and then put flowers in their claws to make gifts. Kind of interesting, actually, and much more advanced than anything I did on that typing paper... she also draws on her netbook all the time (I suppose I should start getting her to email some of the images to me)...

But that typing paper and pens/pencils/markers/crayons was a lot cheaper than all of this electronic stuff... still I'm pleased to see that creativity going on (she's got an excellent sense of color, and oddly, she has the same taste in colors that Mom did - and she spent so little time with her paternal grandmother that this is something that must be genetic, right...)

its gotta be here somewhere

Then again, after watching all of the Sex and the City episodes, both movies (all on DVD), getting hooked on Downton Abbey, and just finished up watching 2011's "Bridesmaids" its probably good money that my Man Card - if I ever had one - has vanished into the ether...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the 2012 racing schedule... so far

Yes, I'm registered, and Before Its All Over I'll likely clock another four half marathons (not a big deal considering most weeks I bag a 10 mile run anyway - what's another 3.1 miles/5 kilometers)?

My goals are simple - get my sub 2:00 half marathon time back AND beat 1:58:12. I think its doable sometime this year. :-p

February 5, 2012 - Super Bowl Sunday 10K - Sacramento

First time doing this race, I'll get my 10K run in for my organization's 10K challenge, my time will suck, I will bitch in the race report how much I effin' hate the 10K distance and how much I suffered and sucked during the race, but I get to FINISH IN SAC STATE'S FOOTBALL STADIUM. Yea. And Oh, first race as a 50 year old. NEW AGE GROUP I WILL DOMINATE (keep dreaming).

March 11, 2012 - Shamrock'n' Half Marathon - West Sacramento/Sacramento

Ran this as a half marathon in 2011 for the first time; it marked my return to running serious distance from injury and first time I've used a pace group to meet a time goal... You run into Raley Field at finish. That's sort of cool, even though I detest baseball and almost got the dogshit kicked out of me there by the drunk contractor husbands of drunk suburbanite floozies who were screaming in our ears on the grass during the July 3/4 game a few years ago, I refuse to go back in for a baseball game - EVER... I will stick to the pace group leader for either 2:00 or 1:55 like evil superglue... and hopefully they'll have some ass kicking bands along the way this year.

April 1, 2012 - (insert ridiculous sponsor that I am too lazy to look up HERE right now) Sactown 10 Mile Run - Sacramento

First time doing this race.  You run around Midtown and East Sacramento and finish/start at the Capitol, I think. I love the 10 mile distance. Long enough to feel like you've actually run something and accomplished a good workout but short enough that you generally don't feel like you've been clubbed like a baby seal the next day.

April 28, 2012 - Parkway Half-Marathon - Sacramento

Run up and down the bike trail again (like I don't do this nearly every weekend anyway) and maybe I'll get to see some 50something dude that's older than 50something me rack himself on one of the anti-car bollards in the middle of the trail like he did last year in the first half mile - BOOM right there in the crotch, down on the pavement jiggling like he'd been shot with a half-dozen Tasers.

Yeah, I know its not funny but its really hard to hit those things - you gotta TRY. This is a wonderful course in that you can run it really, really fast and its the course I set my half marathon PR on... If I get to the turnaround and I'm < 58:00 at that point, not only do I likely have (unless the Mothership shows up and plucks me off the course) a sub 2:00 half going, I might just bust that PR if I run even splits.

Not registered yet, but likely - Urban Cow Half Marathon, Four Bridges Half Marathon, and Apple Hill (although I'll probably do the 3.5 option this year as I'll likely have dead legs after Four Bridges)...

white noise to pink silence, of a sort

My daughter *finally* had eye surgery yesterday to correct her intermittient exotropia, which is to say that her eyes would wander - not all the time - but enough that after trying corrective eyeglasses for a little over a year (she is mildly nearsighted) surgery was recommended to correct the condition.

The procedure in itself is not a big deal but its delicate; the patient is put under general anesthesia but it was remarkable how fast she got out of surgery yesterday... in and out in < 1 hour. She had double vision immediately after, which is a good thing, as it shows that the surgery is working. 75% of the time the surgery is successful and there's no need for a second procedure, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is it.

At almost 10 - she'll be 10 in less than a month - she's now getting into the stage of childhood where she seems, to me - living 2,500 miles away - to be changing as a person very rapidly, and she's now going into the stage that my son went through for a while, in regards to talking on the phone, which is to say she doesn't want to talk much anymore. For the past couple of years, she would stay on the phone for hours to talk to me; now, its "Hi, I love you" CLICK. Its a little disconcerting to me but its also a sign of growing independence... I guess... ugh.

perhaps its time to watch pulp fiction again

Everyone needs a Mr. Wolf in their life.

The Wolf: Jimmie, lead the way. Boys, get to work.
Vincent: A please would be nice.
The Wolf: Come again?
Vincent: I said a please would be nice.
The Wolf: Get it straight buster - I'm not here to say please, I'm here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you'd better fucking do it and do it quick. I'm here to help - if my help's not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.
Jules: No, Mr. Wolf, it ain't like that, your help is definitely appreciated.
Vincent: I don't mean any disrespect, I just don't like people barking orders at me.
The Wolf: If I'm curt with you it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

36F, clouds, drizzle, 3000+ feet elevation and 8.5 miles of rollers on Apple Hill - race report

I've done the Apple Hill Harvest Run twice - in 2007 and last year. 2007 was great. I was in my best running shape, it was a practice race before CIM, and I just wanted to see how running in the Sierra foothills at 3,000' would be - even if it was the shorter loop of 3.5 miles. Apple Hill also offers an 8.5 mile option, which is what I tackled this year, thinking this would be a great training run to wind down my participation in races this season. 

This year, I'm not in my best running shape, I'm trying to rebuild the base I had in 2006-07 before I hurt myself with an IT band injury in 2008 that has taken over 2 years to heal up enough that I can seriously run train again. In the process, I've lost a minute and a half off of my mile times for most of my race distances. This year, I was able to get back all of it but about 50-55 seconds based on my performance at Urban Cow. So I'm roughly a minute away from running times that are equivalent to 2007.

The purpose of doing this run was again, like Four Bridges, to simply have fun and wind down my season until I run Shamrock'n' next March. Knowing the hills and grades around Apple Hill - an area east of Placerville about 45 minutes east of Sacramento in the Sierra foothills, and about two exits down from the snow line in the winter (which is to say about a 10 minute drive on US 50. You go up another 1,000 feet and you've got snow nearly every time it precipitates (look at a place called Pollock Pines on the map, that's basically the snow line) in the fall and winter (usually after November 1st until April) - I figured I'd be doing some walking, and while you're not quite at high altitude cooking rules on Apple Hill, you're close - cooking rules start at 3500 feet and Apple Hill ranges from 3,000 to 3,300. There are a number of orchards and wineries on Apple Hill, and the start line for the races is at Para Vi winery on Larsen road (just down the road from the famous Larsen Apple Barn). Its an awesome start/finish because its ALL uphill. You run uphill, you finish uphill, it sucks but its great training if you take the right attitude.

I also had the luxury of knowing I'd set a PR regardless of my finishing time, because, well, I've never run an 8.5 mile race before hahaha. I had two goals for the race: A) Finish B) Not Die. Some of the grades can really push your heart rate up if you're not an elite runner, and sportsfans, I'm somewhere between Terribly Mediocre and Complete Suck as a runner, especially when I'm on tired legs at the end of the season, as I am right now. I'm still a BOP runner although I've improved over this year... I can see myself based on the progression I've seen moving back to MOP - where I was in 2007 - by Spring 2012, but I knew that today I'd be near the back, and that my biggest problem would be keeping myself from taking off early when I was still feeling great.

But my goals in these races isn't really placement any more, its running a good race based on how I feel and the challenge before me. When you're not an elite runner, you really can't continue running if all that's motivating you is to beat other people and continue to improve your times. There are other ways you can improve your racing without having to get a great time or blow away your fellow runners. Sometimes, its just being out there running and enjoying nature is good enough.

What motivates me is not Turning Into My Dad With His Bad Heart and Bad Attitude Towards Exercise. Do I enjoy every race? Not always. Sometimes it really sucks out there, but I know I even when I'm having a bad day, I'm going to finish, and that in itself is a form of victory. And I try to have fun out there, especially yelling at the volunteers and having fun with them because quite frankly, if you don't have the people handing out water and managing traffic, you're not going to have races.

The challenge today was three-fold, actually - 1) tired legs 2) hills on a course and distance I've never run and 3) the altitude and the temperature. It was COLD. In fact, this is the farthest I've run in temps < 40F. Ever. I did run a couple of miles in -10F weather in Des Moines during the 80s at my parents house on a lark, when I was a student on break, but I've not done that much distance running < 40F.

I packed a heavy sweatshirt - one of those gray Champion reverse weave Iowa 47 hoodies with a kangaroo pocket - for post race wear, but I ended up swapping out the Brooks hoodie I wore for 4 bridges for that sweatshirt when I got out of the car and started shivering. I knew I might get a little hot, but I also figured the 10:30+ pace I'd be running there might be some hills I would be race walking up with the wind blowing where I'd be freezing otherwise. I would have stuck with the running hoodie had I done the 3.5 mile loop - you're not suffering that long - but with the 8.5 you could be at mile 4 or 5 and be freezing your ass off.

Besides, I reasoned, I always seem to bump into Iowa fans/graduates at races, like I did at the Dog Run in Davis two weeks ago - post race here I walked by a guy that yelled "GO HAWKS" who graduated in '87, the same year I graduated from grad school. When I was waiting for the race to start, I saw my friend Nicole, who was running the 3.5 and she said "Isn't that kind of bulky" (she runs a 7:30 mile and has won Eppies 2x before illness took her down last fall, she's on a long road to recovery) and I said "not when you're trying not to freeze your ass off." Oddly, I was shivering while watching the kids' races and waiting for our start, but by the time the gun went off and we ran up that first hill and turned left onto Carson Road (hey, they've got an entire road up there with my name on it!) I had adjusted and wondered if I should have won the running hoodie after all (turns out I did make a wise decision - the temp only climbed to the low 40s by the time I finished, and there were a few spots the wind was really blowing through the little valleys and you could FEEL it).

I knew I was doing a good race pace - although the first 5 miles really had no challenging uphills - when I hit Mile 4 before I started to feel - like I usually do in anything longer than a 10K - like I was warmed up and ready to do the entire distance. Interestingly, I was chatting with some other runners and it was at this point that I was running with an 80 year old guy... who shadowed me (well, not really, he just kept going like the Energizer bunny) the rest of the way. I want to be able to run an 8.5 mile race in hills when I'm 80 ... and finish it at a decent time, considering the guys' age.

We were on really the last long downhill when I passed a group of teens that work at one of the Apple orchards and they were cheering everyone on nicely. I pointed to my Iowa shirt and yelled "Iowa beat Michigan yesterday!' 

"YEAAAAHHH!" they said.

"Three years in a row, first time in school history" I yelled as I went past. Then I screamed "MICHIGAN SUCKS!" They laughed.

So did some of the other runners, but whether they were laughing with - or at me - remains under question.

It was shortly after this that the long uphills began, and I started speed walking the grades. They were pretty tough, I wasn't the only person walking or run/walking. It wasn't until 7 and the last bit of the race at the turn at the Larsen Apple Barn, which puts you back onto to Larsen Road and the finish/start line, that the course gives you any downhills. And the last half mile is entirely uphill. I gritted my teeth - because I could hear the 80 year old dudes feet slapping the pavement behind me - and crawled up the last bit of grade running the entire way and hurting pretty good at that point, and crossed around 1:32. When I checked the results on the PCs that they had at the finish, I had run about 15 seconds per mile faster than I did at Lake Natoma, on what I consider a much, much tougher course. I'm sure I would not have maintained that pace had the race been much longer.

And I beat the 80 year old dude. I think.

This was a good race season. I'm not signed up for anything until the Shamrock'n' Half on March 11th, I'll probably do the Sactown 10 miler on April 1st and assuming they have it next year, the Parkway Half Marathon at the end of April. It may be a little more difficult to get in four half marathons next year, but I could take it one at the coast in May or June and then do Urban Cow in the fall. As I said, I'm not sure I want to do Lake Natoma again (if I do it I will do no hard racing or runs after Urban Cow like I did this fall).

I just want to get my sub 2:00 half back... and get a new half PR. Its doable, I've just got to work hard. And keep it fun...