Friday, February 13, 2009

Various and Sundry

Today's post will be a stream of consciousness mish-mash of what's been going on since I last posted a couple of weeks ago.

Injury Report and Upcoming Race

The groin injury is healing, and I'm back up to 40+ miles per week, though I've sort of tapered back down this week in advance of a half-marathon on Sunday. Weather forecast looks good (for February in New England, anyway), with mid-30's and partly cloudy. The course is flat. Given the groin injury, though, I don't think it's a PR opportunity (though sub 1:35 would be awesome). It's doubtful I'm in as good shape as I was in November, have a head cold (courtesy of one or more of my family members, all of whom have had the flu) and don't know if the groin can sustain that many miles of fast running. I've done a 3+-mile tempo run each of the past several weeks (on the TM) and that's been fine, but when I've tried to kick it into a higher gear at the end of my longer runs, I've had mixed success lately. The current plan is to go out at 7:30 pace for the first couple of miles, check my HR and see where that leaves me. Since I ran a very disappointing race there last year, I just want to have a solid outing, maybe place in the Top 100 and not aggravate the groin.

Is Hudson the new Pfitzinger?

I've been reading Brad Hudson's book "Run Faster". Despite the unoriginal title, it is a very well-conceived, clear and innovative training guide. He focuses on a balanced approach, keeping three fitness "systems" in optimal shape: neuromuscular, endurance and specific endurance. He offers a lot of variety in terms of workouts and paces. He suggests short hill sprints as the only thing a runner needs to build strength and inoculate oneself against injuries. Best of all, though, he touts the absolute, critical importance of truly "listening to one's body" and adjusting any training schedule as needed.

On the RWOL Marathon Race Training forum, I've noticed more and more former Pfitzinger aficionado's migrating to Hudson. I will put together a 13-week plan starting after Sunday's half-marathon, hopefully peaking at around 65 miles per week, with a weekly average of around or over 50.

Boston to Sugarloaf
Speaking of training plans, I held a Boston exemption/invitation form in my hand last week. It was the result of knowing a guy who knows a guy who knows the president of the BAA. I will admit to being extremely tempted to accept it, but simply could not do so without feeling like I'd given up on my goal to qualify on my own. I know I haven't run a marathon anywhere close to my potential (or I'm grotesquely out of touch with that potential), so I am still hopeful that when I hit the right training groove, stay healthy and draw good weather on race day, I should be able to run 3:20 or better. So, rather than take the invitation, I signed up to volunteer at Boston. It's a great opportunity to give something back to my sport, but in a totally self-serving way, since I'll be thrilled to be a part of the 113th Boston Marathon, even if I'm not running it.
So, after a bit of back and forth between whether to return to Burlington, Vermont or try something different, I have signed up for the Sugarloaf Marathon in Eustis, Maine. Ironically, the drive time is about the same as going to New York City, but it still feels "local". Last year, there were fewer than 200 finishers, a far cry from my 3 prior marathons. Also, the course profile is intriguing, in that it climbs for about 10 miles, then loses 1000 vertical feet over the final 16 miles. Maybe that will help me run a decent final 10K for once. We shall see.
Loose Ends
A couple of weekends ago, I visited family in Florida. My mother lives in a typically over-manicured gated adult community. On Saturday, I ran on the roads and sidewalks on Saturday morning, when it was about 50 degrees. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt and people looked at me like I was crazy. As I ran along the shoulder of the road, I felt that several luxury cars, driven by people who may be just a tad past their driving prime, came a little close for comfort. When I switched to the sidewalks (which I'd avoided because the walkers had them pretty well monopolized), I had to deal with a number of golf carts which also gave me a very narrow berth. Turns out I didn't feel great, and my scheduled 5-6-miler turned into a 4+-miler.
The next morning, I drove to the beach with the top down on the rental car. My sister (who was also visiting) shivered all the way (it was about 56 degrees), and I took off north along A1A wearing a singlet and shorts. Again, I was regarded as someone who might have just escaped from a mental hospital (with enough foresight to fill 4 bottles on his Fuel Belt, though). I ran about 13.5 miles, and it was a joy to be free of all the layers which are a necessary evil this time of year. No hat, no gloves, no face mask or neck gaiter. No worry that my bottles would freeze, or that a bathroom stop would be a monumental production in the bare, snow-covered woods. I simply ran, passed hundreds of people (including a few who were a sight for sore, winter-deprived New England eyes) and had a great run.

It was a bit harsh to return to New Englad winter, but I've run in shorts a couple of times since, so it feels like we've turned a corner. A recent thaw has exposed the road's shoulder again and much - though by no means all - of the ice is gone. It's just a matter of time before getting up before dawn does not have to be a chilling, dreadful experience, when an hour-plus morning run will let me watch the sun rise and know that - even when I return home by 6:15 - it will already have been a very good day. Not sure what more one can ask from a hobby.



Billy said...

Interesting. Do keep us updated on the Hudson program.

And I think it's awesome that you're choosing to volunteer instead of taking the exemption. I'm right there with ya about earning it.

It's in the 50's here right now and I am FREEZING. You crazy Ron.

Glad to hear about the healing(-ed?) groin!

Joe said...

Visited Barnes and Noble today and picked up a copy of the book. Looking forward to hearing your insights on the book.