Monday, April 28, 2008

24 weeks ‘til Chicago

I’ve been thinking of adding a running angle to my blog for a while, but I’ve been afraid that I’d bore the tears off of my friends and family if I did. I’ve finally realized that no matter what I write, I’m boring them, so why not add some running stuff to the blog?

So, my blog is down to running and wine. I guess that they are two of my major passions in life, if not the major passions. Maybe I should rename my blog to “Running over Grapes” or something similar…

Why did I decide to do Chicago? The (Medtronic) Twin Cities Marathon is one week before Chicago and is my favorite marathon ever. I placed 3rd in my age group last year. I know how to run a great race on the TCM course and I love the local support. So why not run it? Why choose Chicago? I’m not sure. It might be that I’m starting to get up there in my running years and I wanted one last shot on a flat course and a significant PR. It might be that I was impulsive and when Marty and Deb decided to do Chicago, it sounded like a great idea and so I went and signed up. It could also be that I simply needed a change. (and CHANGE seems like the them for the year, doesn’t it???)

I’m already looking forward to the training cycle; hard runs, easy runs, and long runs. Cold runs, yielding to incredibly hot runs, yielding to cool fall runs. To strides, to fartleks, to tempos, to hill runs, to long runs, to easy runs. I’m looking forward to it all. Chicago can’t come fast enough….

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Heart the Marathon (Part 3)

Anne's Freevo picked up the Paris Marathon, which I watched tonight. Two things stuck out. First, the Men's race was tight at the 40K marathon. Very tight. Two guys, mano-a-mano, trying to run the other into the ground. Kenya vs. Ethiopia. Man vs. Man. So, they pull up to a water stop, one guy grabs a water bottle, the other slows for him and they go on and share the water. Seriously? Share water? Slow down for the other competitor? Yep. That is marathoning. And that is why I love it. Ethiopia's 20 year old wonder one, but it didn't matter to me. 40Km showed everything I needed.

Second, the women's race. Amazing. Kenya vs. Ethiopia again. Kenyan woman running with horrible form, obviously beat. Ethiopian lady, drafting off of her, biding her time and finally grabbing a commanding lead. Or did she? Kenyan lady, basically running like the Humpback of Notre Dame, passes her back. And breaks Ethiopian lady. Kenyan lady, runs across the finish line with her head bobbing like she was listening to Def Leppard or Poison in the late 90's. With a strain on her face that makes waterboarding look like pleasure (okay, maybe not). I clapped at a recording of a recording. It was awesome.
I Heart Boston (and the Boston) Marathon

This (past) weekend was incredible. Anne and I flew into Boston on Friday and checked into the most kick ass hotel I've stayed at in a long time, the Marriott Custom House. The building was built in the 1860's as a Custom's Building for Boston Harbor. In the 19-teens, the feds built a 26 story building on top of the building. So, imagine the Jefferson Memorial with a a 26 story building (similar in style to the Foshay tower in Mpls.) The Feds moved out in the 70's into the awful Pei designed Boston Federal Government Building. Yes, this is the same Pei who designed the Pyramid at the Louvre and JFK Library. I can't speak for the new digs, but the old digs rock. Marriott gutted the tower in 1910 and renovated the Custom House in the late 90's. This hotel was amazing.

Anne and I went out to eat at Sel de la Terre, about a 3 minute walk from our hotel. Amazingly good. So much so, we went back later in the trip.

Saturday, we went to the Expo, and because it was so incredibly beautiful out, walked around alot. We went to lunch at a restaurant on Tremont Street called cafeTeria, in which we had a pretty good Kobe Hamburger. Hmmm--Hamburgers and fries two days before a marathon. That evening we (Mike, Nathan, Emily and some of her friends) drank some beer at the Black Rose (awesome) and then went to Todd English's Kingfish Hall, which was mediocre. (Sel de la Terre was cheaper and 5x as good). So, we walked alot, but enjoyed the day.

Sunday rolled around and we watched the Women's Olympic Trials. Simply amazing, except that we walked around for 5 or 6 hours 1 day before the marathon. No problem, right? That night we went to Trattoria di Monica, an awesome but very small restaurant in the North End of Boston. Off the main drag, but packed due to it's 6 table space, it was great and an opportunity for us to meet a couple we met on diving on Dominica who live in the Boston Greater Area. Great Fun.

Monday came early. Breakfast at the hotel at 5:30, buses to the start at 6:15, and the start at 10 am. It was cool before the start, with temps in the 40's and very damp. Unluckily, the clouds broke at 9:59 and shone on us throughout the marathon. I started in corral 1, and started conservatively. I don't have my splits, but tons of people passed me throughout the first 10 miles. The problem was is that I didn't feel comfortable. I realized that I hadn't run at marathon pace (or faster) for more than 6 miles all spring--and both of those were in very short races. My legs also hurt from walking around the 2 days prior to the marathon. I hit the half in 1:25 and change, exactly what I'd hoped.

By 16, I knew I was toast. My legs were mush, especially the inner quad muscles. I was in trouble. I pushed through the Newton Hills and held myself together with very few people passing me. However, once we hit the downhills after Heartbreak Hill, my quads were on fire. I tried to stay composed, but I was sure that I was going to cramp up for the remainder of the race. Luckily, they didn't and I only slowed a little, finishing in 2:55:08. Losing just under 5 minutes in the second half. Much better than the first time I ran the race when I lost 15 minutes, but still slightly disappointing. But only slightly...

Looking back, I'm very happy with my time. Very. I did no marathon specific training and ran this entirely on base mileage. I walked around a lot the days before and had some great meals and some great times at the Black Rose. I got severly dehydrated (my bad, yeah, but hey--it was the warmest day of the year so far!).

So, in summation, great race, great time and an amazing city.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Heart the Marathon

I work up 3x this morning before 4 am and finally got up at 4:15. Why? The freakin' London Marathon was on WCSN.COM for free. I dragged my butt out of bed, threw my body on the couch and watched the marathon. What a show! I can't believe the I can hang out and watch 2:05 (2:25 FOR the women) worth of running. But I can. And there is no better show on the airwaves. The tactics and the physicality of this are second to none. Imagine running 1:11 400's for 105 laps. And then having 2 other guys hang on to you. And then sprinting away from them. WOW.

I can't wait until Boston next week.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring has finally Sprung (2008)!

I made it over to Lebanon Hills today and was astounded by the sounds of spring. Warblers, chickadees, cardinals, and yes, frogs... I can't wait for the trails to be clear--they look like mashed potatoes and gravy right now-- snow, and mud mixed together to make a mess. In two weeks we'll be running in the parks and enjoying the solitude (funny that I used we, eh?) of the woods once again.