Sunday, October 6, 2019

Half at Fort Ben Race

Yesterday, I ran the Indianapolis Half-Marathon at Fort Ben. It's a nice race on roads and bike paths through Fort Benjamin Harris State Park. Pretty scenery, well organized, and fairly close to home (2 hour drive). This was my third time there. The last two (2017 and 2018) were my two worst half-marathons ever. This year was different. Cooler weather. Better training. Patience. I ran by power via my Stryd pod, trying to stay disciplined and keep the heart rate low. It worked. I finished in 1:44:05. Not close to my PR for this distance (1:32), but definitely a PR for this course. Here are statistics for the three races here:

Finish Time
Place Overall
Place Div
HR avg

Based on heart rate data, I could have pushed harder and maybe knocked off a couple more minutes. I think a 1:40 was possible. Maybe. But I might have pushed too hard and blown up finishing slower. Who knows. What I do know is I felt good all race, always in control, and I had plenty left for a 2+ mile push at the end. That's a win. Nine minutes faster than last year. Another win. No injuries and ready to train again. Big win!

What was different this year?

#1: Weather. It was cool and dry (48F at start). Past years have been warm and humid. The race started 30 minutes earlier too--nice change.

#2: Training. I did more 10+ mile runs leading up to this race. That helps a lot. Plus I focused much more on pure aerobic training (low HR), rather than intensity and speed.

#3: Discipline. I held back at the beginning. Kept patient in the middle, then finally let it rip in the last 2 miles. Probably should have pushed just a bit harder all race. Oh well.

Extra bonus: First race in my Hoka Rincon shoes. They were awesome!

Maybe I'll get it all perfect next year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Back to MAF

I just finished a little over a week of pure aerobic, low intensity, running. Basically Maffetone based HR training (180-age, with minor adjustments). I'm happy. I was sick of getting tired, getting sick, or injured. Funny that my attitude changed when I missed 2 days of work due to illness (right after a VERY hard run). I also was reading the book "The Happy Runner" at the same time (very good read). Things converged and I had an epiphany! I want to be happy. I want to run. I want to run happy. I need to be healthy and injury-free to run happy. Thus, I need to slow down and enjoy the whole process. No stress, little pressure. My last long run, 13 miles on the Kickapoo Rail Trail, was fantastic. I maintained a 9:23 pace with a heart rate average of 126. Never felt tired (during or after the run). No pains. Recovered quickly. This is real-life healthy training!

For a distance runner like me, the MAF method makes sense. If I add just a touch of speed, like regular strides and short hill repeats, then I'll be fine for almost any race I target (half-marathon to 100 milers). The half-marathon may require tempo runs, but if those are done judiciously, I'll stay healthy.

I have a half-marathon race at the beginning of October. Then a 50 mile race beginning of November. We'll see how my training and racing goes. Feel comfortable and confident that I'll be fine. For me, the priority is life-long running. And enjoyment. I want to be a happy runner.

NOTE: If you are training by heart rate, make sure you have a reliable and valid measure of HR. Wrist-based optical HR sensors are notoriously unreliable. I switched to a chest strap and have very good readings that I can trust.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Running Gratitude

I'm grateful.

About 2 weeks ago I ran too fast and hurt my knee. Took a few days off, then came back easy. It healed. Then this past week I ran too hard (again). I got sick the next day. High fever, chills, sweats. It wasn't pleasant. But it only lasted 2 days. Missed a few days of running, but I'm back again.

I'm grateful. My recent injury and illness were short-term. I'm back to normal. Actually, better than normal. I have a new appreciation for my general good health and fitness. I can run. At times I become arrogant and want to push harder to prove I can run fast. Prove that I still "have it." With age comes wisdom, but it also brings doubts. Aging encourages comparisons to a younger self. Those comparisons are rarely positive. Lying sick in bed, I was able to reflect on why I was sick...and why I was injured earlier. It was me. It was me trying to be something I'm not. I need to be happy with who I am as a runner. Today. Live day by day in the present. To stay healthy, fit, and happy, I need to accept myself and be grateful for all that my body can achieve. Today. It's not about a better tomorrow. It's about a great today.

I want to be a healthy and happy runner. Temporarily losing my health helped me re-focus on what is important. Now, I'm grateful that I can run every day. Short, long, fast, slow. Simple running, for myself, is all I need. Time to live in the present.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Howl at the Moon Race Recap: It Sucked!

I ran the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra this past weekend. Well, maybe "running" is not the right word. Jog/walk is more accurate. And I dropped out after 7 loops (24.5 miles) and only 4.5 hours. So another DNF for me. I was severely dehydrated and peeing brown/red urine. Not good. Sad that I dropped out, but it was the right decision. After about 3 hours of resting, and 2+ liters of sports drink, I finally peed "regular dehydrated" urine (dark yellow). By dinner time, I was doing fine.

For me, the day sucked. I was not trained well for an ultra. Plus, I'm not a good heat runner. It was not that hot, but it was deceptively warm and sunny. Many people dropped out with heat exhaustion or dehydration. If it was hot and humid from the start, we'd all have run more cautiously. Oh well. Live and learn. I've learned that as I've gotten older, I do not tolerate the heat. And I simply do not enjoy the suffering. Ten years ago I would have continued to push and rack up the miles. I'd embrace the pain and enjoy others stopping early. Now I'm the one dropping before the full 8 hours!

I'm not sure I'll ever run Howl again. I've disappointed myself the last 4 attempts. A good policy would be "no summer races." But...I hate leaving on a low point. I want my last Howl at the Moon race to be a good one. Next year they plan to add a 24-hour event to the traditional 8-hour race. That would be a good last Howl run! Or maybe not? I could just volunteer.

PS: Special thanks to Gregg Rose in his first year as Howl race director. It was a well-organized event with fantastic support. KRR is a great running club! I now have 654.77 "Howl at the Moon miles."