The swine grind

For the first time ever I've put together a playlist for a race and I'm not excited to hear it. It feels worn out: I haven't bought new music in a while so all my current music is played out and I have no new music to spice it up. I'm seriously hoping the course entertainment will live up to expectation and that I'll be so busy following the pacer that I won't care what I'm hearing.

After several hours of ordering and "mixing" here's the final playlist for The Pig.

  • Proud Mary; Tina Turner (yup, still need it to kick off a race)
  • California's Burning; Augustana
  • We Used to Vacation; Cold War Kids
  • I Feel It All; Feist
  • See the Sun; The Kooks
  • What She Came For; Franz Ferdinand
  • I Turn My Camera On; Spoon (this song single-handedly made me a Jaguar fan)
  • Wow; Snow Patrol
  • Tell Me In the Morning; Cold War Kids
  • Rock Wit You; Alicia Keys
  • Viva la Vida; Coldplay
  • Sam's Town; The Killers
  • In The Hospital; Friendly Fires (my new favorite band)
  • Down to the Market; The Kooks
  • Stab My Back; The All-American Rejects
  • Song I don't know the name of
  • Unstoppable; Santogold
  • Losing Touch; The Killers
  • Razor Blade; The Strokes
  • Freedom 90; George Michael
  • Ulysses; Franz Ferdinand
  • A Dustland Fairytale; The Killers
  • Lazy Gun; Jet
  • Detriot; Black Gold
  • All Time Lows; Hellogoodbye
  • Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough; Michael Jackson (Marcy's favorite)
  • You're My Favorite; Caesars
  • Roxanne; The Police
  • She Doesn't Get It; The Format
  • Blinded By the Light; Manfred Mann's Earth Band
  • Rehab; Amy Winehouse
  • Lucid Dreams; Franz Ferdinand
  • Attention; The Academy Is
  • 11:11 PM; The All-American Rejects
  • Bitch; Rinocerose
  • Barracuda; Heart
  • Electricity Scape; The Strokes
  • Time Bomb; The Format
  • Canned Heat; Jamiroquai
  • The River Is Wild; The Killers
  • Outsiders; Franz Ferdinand
  • Red Light; The Strokes
  • ABC; Jackson 5 (my old school addition to this playlist)
  • Paul McCartney; Scissor Sisters
  • Mr. Brightside; The Killers
  • Beat It; Fall Out Boy (lots of Jackson and Jackson-inspired music)
  • Jump In The Pool; Friendly Fires
  • No You Girls; Franz Ferdinand
  • H.A.P.P.Y. Radio; Edwin Starr (I first heard this song during a spin class forever ago and found it a perfect song for the final kick)
  • She Don't Use Jelly; Ben Folds Five
  • Hot N Cold; Katy Perry (this is my one pop music cave in for the playlist because it is SO DAMN CATCHY)
  • White Diamonds; Friendly Fires
  • You Spin Me Round (Like a Record); Dead or Alive
  • 25 Miles; Edwin Starr (What follows has pretty much stayed the same for the past three races)
  • Times Like These; Foo Fighters
  • Juicebox; The Strokes
  • Let's Dance to Joy Division; The Wombats
  • The Pretender; Foo Fighter
  • Move Along; The All-American Rejects


Not all running is about Marathons

The Pig--my third Marathon, the first Marathon I have to really travel for, and a potential PR--looms a mere 105 hours away. However, as much as I make a huge deal out of Marathons and Half-Marathons and as much as I try to run them all over this great big country, there are still two shorter distance races that I have made it on my lifelong "must run" list.

Currently there are two such races on the list. The first is the Bolder Boulder 10K. It is a bit of a celebrity race in that there are 50,000+ runners, rolled out in 50+ waves. It's also an excuse to go to Colorado and enjoy the outdoors. This has been the more recent addition to list and I think I first heard aobut it reading a prideful post over at Half-Fast.

The other race on my short list of short races was actually one of the first races I ever heard about: Bay to Breakers 12K. The first time I heard about Bay to Breakers was actually one of the first times I picked up Runner's World (back about five years ago). I remember reading about a group of people that dressed up as salmon and ran the course backyards (from finish to start) in order to go mating. I died laughing when I read that.

Over the years I've only read more about the crazy costumes, outrageous traditons, and all around good times. Actually, I have yet to hear of any other race that comes as close to a block party as Bay to Breakers. If I lived within any kind of driving distance of San Francisco I would totally run thsi race every year.

So imagine my surprise when after reading about this year's Bay to Breakers in Runner's World I get an email from the Bay to Breakers' PR agency. Apparently, one of them found my blog and liked it (wtf?). At first my mind just to the impossible: they're offering me a bib number! Could I be that famous?

But then I actually read the email and found this to not be the case. (Sigh.) Instead, they are offering a bit of a deal for any of you (fair readers) who might be interested in signing up for the race! Below are details for getting 5% off early registration to the race:
  • Visit www.ingbaytobreakers.com for details about the race
  • Register online by midnight on April 30th, 2009 to receive the early registration price with an additional 5% discount http://tinyurl.com/cy3vkw
  • Enter this coupon code 5SROD2009 (case sensitive) and click ‘redeem’ before completing your registration
  • This offer is limited to the first 100 registrants, so make sure to register as soon as possible!
  • Please direct any questions to info (at) ingbaytobreakers (dot) com
  • The Fine Print: This is an online offer only. Discount is valid only for the registration fee. It is not applied to optional purchases such as the MUNI pass or packet mailing fee.

It might not save a ton of money (less than $2 for single runners), but first, your money goes to charity and second your other option is to pay that money. So there.

Enjoy peoples.


Thoughts on The Pig

One-week to go and I am in full race-frenzy mode. I'm reading every piece of information on The Pig's website, twice. I'm looking for places for dinner and the post-race brunch. I even managed to read through the entire course description (that thing is like ten pages long) during work yesterday.

In anticipation of the race next weekend a handful of loosely collected thoughts have bubbled up about training and te race itself:
  • I have felt really good the past four months throughout training, even though I've increased my speed and added a cross-training day to my weekly schedule. I've felt tired, but nothing like the fatigue of training for my first two Marathons.
  • I'm worried I didn't make my training schedule hard enough because the training went easier this time around. I did increase my speed but not really the mileage--although I'm always apprehensive to increase the mileage because that means waking up even earlier than I already do.
  • I'm wondering if the cold weather helped things feel easier. This is the first time I've trained straight through the winter--and what a winter it's been. Snow and freezing temperatures like crazy--remember the sweatcicles? I'm sure it helped build up stamina. The only issue now is that temps are warming up fast and I haven't adjusted to the temperatures yet--yikes!
  • I recovered exceptionally well from the Great Bay Half-Marathon. Last time I did a Half-Marathon before a Marathon it took me a full week to get back into the groove of training. This time I was back in training mode the first day back.
  • I still have trouble with 20 milers. Ugh, one day I'll get these down.
  • Since I'm going for a rather ambitious goal of 3:40 for this race (a full 10 minutes off my PR, yikes!) I want to try running with a pacer. I guess I have to feel out the pacer and their strategy before the race and make my decision there, but I really only hear good things about pacing groups.
  • I'm having doubts as to whether I should make a playlist for this Marathon. First, if I do end up with a pacing group, I'm sure it would be rude/unbenefitical to listen to Liam during the race. Second, there is so much going on during this race--150,000 spectators, 20,000 runners, water stops every mile, entertainment virtually every quarter-mile--that I'm wondering if I'll even need the music. I will probably end up going through the motions and creating a playlist knowing full well that I will only list to a fraction of it.


Post #CC

This is post number 200!

Last time I had a centennial I pulled out all the stops and ended up writing one of my longest posts ever. Seeing that life will not quit these days and that I'm having a hard enough time just working, running, and sleeping, I'm going to have to have to attack this one differently--were you really expecting a 200 line post, just 100 took foooorrrreeeevvvveeeeerrrrrrrrrr!

I actually don't have much to say. After 200 posts, I'm a little bit faster and have an easier time waking up at 5:30 in the morning--but I still have yet to successfully complete a 20 mile run. Even last weekend, I started out with a beautiful 13 miles, I stopped for a bathroom break and then all the stitches suddenly appeared. I finished only 18.5 miles because it just wasn't happening.

So really, not much to celebrate--except that I got to 200 posts one month faster than I got to 100 posts. Actually, lately, when it comes to running I finding myself just thinking about tapering for The Pig, planning the trip, and getting my mind in the right place for the race. I'm second guessing my goal of 3:40 everyday, but it wouldn't be a goal if I didn't second-guess it, right?


Getting excited

Now that I'm in the two-week window before the The Flying Pig Marathon I'm checking out the website for daily updates, forum posts, race day protocol, etc..

Today, I came across this press release that posted April 15:

"Now called the Flying Pig Marathon powered by P&G, the Marathon’s weekend events with P&G include the Crest Smile Mile at Mile 22; Old Spice High Endurance Mile to the Finish, with prizes going to the fastest male and female runner along the final mile; the Head & Shoulders Above the Rest award, to the fastest leg of the City Dash 4-person relay for male, female and co-ed teams; ‘Lipstick on a Pig,’ where runners will be offered free lipstick samples so they’ll look their best for their finish line photo, and the Pampers Diaper Dash on Saturday, for the littlest “Piglets.” The weekend Health & Fitness Expo also will be known as the P&G Health & Fitness Expo."

I think this has become my favorite race ever--and I haven't even picked up my race number yet!


I see runners

I spent today in my client's offices in Connecticut. Usually on Boston Marathon Monday I can play the race in the background of my computer while I'm working, but looks like this year I'd have to miss it. I spent the whole day today talking to my co-workers and bosses about the Marathon and my own upcoming race in less than two weeks (!!!).

When we wrapped up our meetings we hopped on the Amtrak to head back to the city. We grabbed seats on the cafe car so that we could all sit facing each other. Now, this was five in the afternoon and this train probably left Boston around 3PM (to get into NYC at 7:15).

While we're sitting there a guy walks by with a 2009 Boston Marathon t-shirt on--and I do a double take. For him to be on this train means that: 1) he had to be in the first wave, 2) finished in less than three hours, 3) had time to shower, and 4) had time to get to a train station (which is pretty difficult on Marathon Monday). Never mind that the guy had children with him, which i assumes only slows down the process.

Wow. You could not get me on a train and heading home so quickly after a race. Hell, for The Flying Pig I'm staying in town for 28 hours after the race. Maybe these Boston runners are superhuman.


This week needs to end

It's 10:46pm and I'm still at work. It will be another 60ish hour work week. Oh yeah, it's also peak week for Marathon training. No idea how I'm supposed to do an 85 minute hill run tomorrow before work.


The Great Bay Race Report

Or: "How a Half-Marathon became a 100m dash"

The race itself actually wasn't that eventful--no bee stings or historical monuments along the route. I found myself drifting off a lot and dancing to the music on iPod, which means I was in great physical and mental shape for this race. The result is that there isn't a lot of play-by-play activity, so let's start off with the splits.

The Splits
These still amaze me because my game plan was to run the first two miles at about a 9:00 pace and finish with an average pace of 8:23--but my body was thinking differently that morning.
  • Mile 1: 8:53
  • Mile 2: 8:39
  • Mile 3: 8:42
  • Mile 4: 8:50
  • Mile 5 & 6: 16:58 (couldn't find Mile Marker 5, but his is an average pace of 8:24)
  • Mile 7: 8:03 (Um, remember we're supposed to be shooting for an 8:23 pace here)
  • Mile 8: 8:27
  • Mile 9: 8:15
  • Mile 10: 8:0
  • Mile 11: 7:45 (What's this? My tempo pace is 7:50.)
  • Mile 12: 7:45 (Again?!)
  • Mile 13.1: 8:42 (Pace=7:39, where did this come from?!)

Around Mile 10 is where I realized that I would be bringing home some serious PRage, which not only fueled me down past tempo pace, but pushed me down into speed work territory. The running gods smiled upon me that day for I had finally learned how to race with hills after two difficult efforts in 2008.

How this went down
Unlike most races, this one had a leisurely 11am start time, which really confused me. There was no pressure to go to sleep early and I didn't have to worry about missing any alarms because I rarely ever sleep past 8am. We checked out of the hotel by 8:30am and had breakfast (bagel with peanut butter, yogurt, and apple juice) at a local bakery/coffee shop. Breakfast before a race? I've never experienced that.

While at the starting line I noticed two things. First, there were two guys running the race in nothing but Speedos. Yes, it was gusting up to 40 mph and just a hair above 50 degrees, but these two guys were in Speedos. The second thing I noticed was that this did not appear to be a race for novices. These New Hampshire people take their running seriously--it sounded like everyone in the crowd was a Half-Marathon and Marathon veteran.

After the gun went off the crowd bolted--I've never seen a starting crowd move that fast.

Then I got the stitch.

Oh, yes. In the first 100m of the race I felt a stitch start to form in my side. WTF? I thought I was done with these guys, at least for this distance. Apparently not. I spent the first four miles trying to recoup and get the stitch out of there--although you couldn't tell from the splits. I was trying to slow down, but my legs weren't having any of that. Fortunately, miles two through four were mostly uphill, which helped with the recovery effort. I concentrated on breathing regularly, I turned off the music and just listened to my pace. I straighted my posture as much as possible because I realized any slouching only made the stitch stick around.

By the crest of the hill at mile marker four the stitch had subsided. That's when the race really started for me. After this point very few people passed me. There were lots of rolling hills which mimicked the hills in Central Park, so I knew how to power over them and then use the downhill to my benefit without burning out.

From mile four to mile ten I was just taking in the scenery and picking people off one-by-one. My playlist was fantastic and provided lots of distraction and little boosts of energy.

When the course flattened out around mile ten I looked at my watch and started calculating a finishing time and realized that a 1:50 finish was completely within reach now. And the boost in pace certainly reflects that. I just kept thinking that all I had was three miles to go, just three tiny miles and I would have a new record and have another state off the list, how could I not go fast?

With eyes only for the finish line I busted out a super fast mile 11 and 12. But then something weird happened halfway through the last mile. Some guy, #945, came out of no where and passed me.

Excuse me? Here I am having a spectacular race, schooling all the other runners on the hills and someone has the testicular fortitude to sprint past me during the last mile? No. Way.

(I'm not actually this competitive. Come on people, I came in over 30 minutes behind the winner of the race. But there was just something really bothersome about passing people for the last half of a Half-Marathon only to have someone breeze by you in the last 800m. Especially when you know you still have lots of gas in the tank and that this other guy could very well fold after his little mid-mile sprint.)

Screw the finish line, my crosshairs locked on this guy.

He did manage to get a healthy lead on me, about 50m. But I had seen this happen in other races, I knew he couldn't maintain that pace at this point in the race, especially with some hills coming up. So I kept putting on the speed, but realized that I too was tired and couldn't summon up a charge like I did so easily in the earlier miles.

On the last big turn (about .2 miles before the finish) I caught up with the guy and sailed past him on the uphill. Ha! Take that sucka!!

Well, so I thought. As I was locking in on the finish and trying to maneuver through the runners in the narrow final stretch #945 charged passed me again and took about a ten foot lead.

Oh no, no, no. That was not going to happen--I knew that burst of energy was just to pass me. It was on.

I reved up and passed him a second time and I could see that he was starting to fail on the speedy pace. But the second he saw me pass him he charged up again. By now, the third time he passed me, we were within 100m of the finish line. There were thick crowds and the finish line was in view. Never one for lack of energy in the final 100m of a race, I charged up and yelled at him over the crowds and my head phones: "race to the finish?" He looked shocked at first, one that I would talk to him within spitting distance of the finish line and two that I had caught up to him yet again. He smiled and picked up the pace.

For the last 100m of the race we are locked in step, each trying to out run the other (him on the left trying to eat/catch up with me, on the right):

Here's another shot, just a second later:

The photographers had a field day with us. Here's another, this one is a little too perfect because both our arms are in the same position and we are both leading off the same foot:

After this last shot we dashed for the finish. We passed about three or four people in this little 100m spat. He thought he lost me and started to slow down when we had to split ways around a slower runner, but then I surprised him again and yelled "come on!" He got his final wind and blasted with me over the finish line.

Checking our times after the race I beat him to the finish by .04 seconds--a margin of Phelpsian proportions. However, looking at net times, he beat me 14 seconds, making him the faster runner. I guess we both had our own victories coming out of this 100m dash. He shook my hand afterward and said that if I hadn't come along at the end there he would have walked to the finish.

All told it was a fun race. I had a great time out there: it was scenic, the weather turned out great, and it was challenging without being punishing. For being a small rural race it was well organized and there were lots of amenities for the runners (hello free post-race pizza!). And I got to walk away with a brand spanking new Half-Marathon PR of 1:48:40--which only bodes well for The Flying Pig next month.


It's Wednesday already?

How did that happen? Oh yeah, 13 hour workdays and then a weekend full of driving (did you know that New Hampshire is FIVE hours away from New York City?).

So I missed my two year blogoversary--it was April 4, please send all gifts (monetary preferred) to my attention. Also, I haven't been able to share the great news form this weekend: my race!

To recap: my Half-marathon PR is 1:53:41 and I've been clocking times in this range for about two years. My ambitious goal was 1:50:00. However, this being New England there were lots of hills and 40 mph wind gusts.

But if the Newport Marathon was any indication, the harder the race, the better my PR. Yes folks, I didn't just make my goal of 1:50:00, I crossed the finish line in 1:48:40--that is a whole FIVE MINUTES OFF my Half-Marathon PR!!!

Full race report to follow...probably this weekend.


My number one cheerleader

With just a few hours to go until the Great Bay Half Marathon I can't help thinking about something. It's not the surprisingly hilly course we drove yesterday or the perplexing 11am start time. The thought that has been buzzing around my head since Friday night is how amazing Wifey is.

She never signed up for this. She doesn't even like to run. But sure enough everytime I mention a new race in some far-flung city she is totally gung ho.

Friday night she was making sure I had GU packs and a hat before I even looked at my packing list. Yesterday afternoon she was concerned for all the hills, but said I'd be OK because I run in hilly Central Park. Last night she made sure we ate at an Italian restaurant--even though I told her to pick whichever cuisine she wanted.

I checked our wedding vows. There is no mention of being a weekend widow or having to deal with intricate details of my bowel movements or listening to the inane runner shop talk. But nonetheless she has made (and kept) a commitment to be at the start and finish of all of my races--which really means she has promised to sit and wait for hours on end while I'm off running some silly race.

I've never asked her to go crazy nuts over running, she has just supported me (half)blindly in all my crazy persuits and for that I am crazy for her. I love that she scratches my head after a long run. I love that she's concerned about the aches in my feet. And I love that this afternoon, whether I make my goal of 1:50 or have to crawl over the finish line, she will be there (with a towel) to give me a victory kiss.

Thank you number one cheerleader for being the best wife this runner could ask for.

(Apologies for any typos, I'm writing from my phone.)


The Great Bay music post

With only a few days until the Great Bay Half-Marathon I've compiled my playlist for the race. Read here for the extensive background on the method behind my music (it took 2.5 hours to compile this 1.9 hour long playlist!).
  • Proud Mary; Tina Turner
  • Stars and Boulevards; Augustana
  • Before the Worst; The Script
  • In The Hospital; Friendly Fires
  • Crackin' Up; Caesars
  • Spaceman; The Killers
  • I Turn My Camera On; Spoon
  • Lucid Dreams (Original Version); Franz Ferdinand
  • Creator; Santogold
  • Pasos de Gigante; Bacilos
  • Indian/Bangra song
  • Tears Dry On Their Own; Amy Winehouse
  • Ulysses; Franz Ferdinand
  • Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough; Michael Jackson
  • Si Senor; Gloria Estefan
  • Stormy Weather; The Kooks
  • Paris; Friendly Fires
  • Another song that I don't know the name or artist of
  • If Work Permits; The Format
  • Heart In A Cage; The Strokes
  • My Moon My Man; Feist
  • Human; The Killers
  • Time Like These; Foo Fighters
  • 25 Miles; Edwin Starr
  • Reptilla; The Strokes
  • For Reasons Unknown; The Killers
  • Heartbreak Stroll; The Raveonettes
  • Let's Dance To Joy Division; The Wombats
  • The Pretender; Foo Fighters
  • Move Along: The All-American Rejects

Weather is looking good (56 degree at gun time) and just received confirmation for the car and hotel reservations. the only thing that has me concerned still is that the race starts at 11am--what the hell do you do until 11am? I mean I can eat a full breakfast, stretch properly, read "Anna Karenina," and still get there before the port-o-potty line forms.