Saturday, June 19, 2010

Race Report: A "Double" at the Hog Jog 2010

ORN:  2 mile Race:   15:17, 7:39/mile
           10K Race:      57:55, 9:21/mile

Summary:   The schedule clarified last week and I ran two, not one, race this morning, a first for me.  Ran the two-miler hard, just to see what I could actually do...I was thrilled to be under 16 and even happier to be well under that mark.  I ran the 10K as a comfortable workout and ended up having a nice negative split with no walking.  All in a wonderful farm area not far from home.


Pre Race.   Last Sunday, I was working over my training plan leading to the Chicago Marathon on October 10.  Something seemed out of synch though.  Once I laid it all out, I realized the alternating weekends of long runs and speed workouts that the plan called for were off kilter from events in our own schedule.  So, I just shoved things a week one way and  all fell into a fresh, refreshing alignment.  

First on this list was the chance to run a very popular local event, the Hog Jog.  It's been around for thirty-seven years now.  As the name implies, it's run in and around hog farms around the little town of Flora, Indiana, the center of one of the biggest hog producing areas in the Midwest.  If for no other reason, the T-Shirt from this race is a fun possession for most local athletes.  I've run it a number of times and was glad at first to see it fall on "speed weekend" for my training.

And, then, when I looked the site, I had a crazy idea.  They now have a 2 mile run at 7:30am, followed by the Main Event, the 10K at 8:15.  I said to myself, "Self, why not run both races?"  I've never run two races on one day before...but why not try?  So the idea took quick root and I registered for both.  I was pleased to see they allowed one to have a free entry into the 2 mile race if you had a full entry in the 10K.  Sweet...2 races for a mere $15.00.  Looking at both the weather and my training plan, I decided to run the 2 mile flat out and use the 10K as a nice training run on what was looking to be a very hot day.  

Up early, I really enjoyed driving the back country roads allowing the shortest route for the 25 miles from our house to Flora.  If you buy and sell grain futures, I can tell you, corn is looking terrific here so far.  I got registered, was able to run a couple of miles to warm up well and we were ready for this small "adventure."

2 Mile Race.  The gun went off right at the scheduled 7:30am start time.  I set up my Garmin to pace me through my objective...a pair of 8 minute miles.  Early on, I had to grope a bit to find a rhythm.  But in a half mile or so, it seemed to land in an OK spot.  I did notice lots of folks around me breathing heavily, while I was still comfortable.  But how to pace in a race so short?

I went through the one-mile marker at 7:49.  That was encouraging, as I felt pretty good.  It was so odd, though, to be a mile into the race AND have only a mile to go...boy, that's an adjustment.  So, I shifted into "finish strong" mental mode, just moments after ending the "start comfortably" mental mode.  I picked it up and started picking out runners 3-4 places ahead of me and passing them.  The pace gradually picked up and, amazingly, we had one more turn and I could see the finish line.  I kept pushing and finished the second mile in 7:26, for a race of 15:17. 

Sweet...on a warm, humid morning I had satisfied my curiosity as to whether or not I could still get below an 8 minute pace.  I got well below it and probably could have been near to 15 flat had I planned accordingly.  Yet, how often do you see a 2 mile race???  I've never run that distance before.  

One small competitive note occurred to me as I got ready for this race last week.  The 2 mile run is one-third of the US Army's Physical Fitness Test, along with pushups and situps done in 2 minutes.  With one son just out of the Army and my youngest having just left Friday for four weeks of ROTC summer camp at Fort Lewis, Washington, I just wanted to see how I might compare with how they have done.  The PT test is age and gender graded, so there is comparison possible.  Thus, when I got home I looked up the standards on line and, being 56 years old, I saw I scored at 96% of maximum.  And, even better, if I could do this same time in October, when I turn 57, I would grade out at 100%!!  Ha!!!  Need to ask the two guys just what their best run score was...just to see if the old man can hang with the young dudes!!

10K Race.  I went back to my car, swapped my lighter Brooks Adrenalines for my normal Brooks Beast shoes, got a dry shirt and met up with local running pal Greg.  We walked down to the start line and had a wonderful conversation.  Good thing...he's so fast, the only time I ever talk to him is before the gun.  

Right on time at 8:15am, the gun sounded (and yes, they used a real starter's pistol...a nice touch) and a pack of about 300 took off through the corn fields.  My aim in this race was to simply enjoy the run.  The temperature was rising, now above 75 and quite humid.  The course wound a bit through Flora (including a run, literally, down "Easy Street"...yes they have a street named "Easy" in little Flora, Indiana), then out onto county roads, through more corn and bean fields and past the requisite hog farms.  I was a little stiff early but got more comfortable, particularly after each water stop, where I walked and took a full cup of water.  

The mile splits indicated the subtle acceleration I was sensing was real:

1- 9:27

I hit the finish in 57:55, feeling quite good.  Amazingly, the two runs gave me two negative splits for the day...the first 3 miles of this race in 28:42, the second 3 in 27:34.  I like negative splits...they are rare.  

After the race, the organizers were cooking up pork burgers for all the participants...a yummy way to end a fun morning and it fit, fully.  

A nice day in the Midwest summer.  And keeps me on track for Chicago.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Modified Saturday Morning

ORN: 8.0 miles, R5/W1, 1:27:27, 10:56/mile

In the summer, Saturday morning always means an early alarm to get in a long run before the heat takes over too badly. Today was no different for the alarm but it was different for the activity.

Over the winter, it hit me that one thing a grandfather could do was to take his grandkids fishing. Not that I know anything about fishing...but it still seemed like a good thing. So, I've been trying to learn about local fishing and have actually landed quite a few fish in the area. Surprisingly, I've come to enjoy fishing. It's the opposite of running with respect to effort but much like it in that it gets me outside and in a reflective activity.

So, this morning was the first try to take my twin six-year old grandsons fishing. I picked them up at 7am and we had overcast, reasonable temperatures at a local pond.

Determined Fishermen

Nathan and Drew were understandably excited to go and off we tromped. We had some bites but landed no fish. Yet, that didn't seem to be a big problem as we had a marvelous time together.

From the pond, we headed to a local diner for pancakes and chocolate milk.

Drew, Nathan with pancakes

It was a great morning and a good choice on what to do on a day that saw temps into the 90s with very high humidity.

I finally got out for a run around 11am, intending to do 14 miles. About six miles into it, the sun came out and the heat was awful and I cut it off at 8 miles which was fine. It was a wonderful morning.

Persevere. Even if the fish don't bite.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Race Report: Sunburst Half Marathon

ORN:  13.1 miles, 2:02:07, all run, 9:20/mile

Quick Summary:

I enjoyed this race about as much as any I've run in the past year.  It was one of those wonderful but elusive races where I was in touch with the pace all the way to the end.  With the hot temperatures and 95% humidity, it was the best race conditions allowed. Emotionally, it was once again a great way to honor my Dad as well. 

The Gory Details:


This was the sixth year in a row I've run this event (doing the half 5 times now...I ran the marathon last year), the most I've run any single event.  I know the drill pretty well now, so decided to save a few dollars this year and not go up the night before.  Up at 3:30am, I was on the road 10 minutes later and parked near the starting line in downtown South Bend at 5:50am.  It took only 2 minutes to get my bib and goodies, I watched the marathon start at 6:00am and then had plenty of time to get ready and stretched before the HM gun went off at 7:30am. 

My goal for the day was to get under 2 hours.  My training and other indicators indicated this was possible.  The weather forecast projected temps in the low 60s at the start, with a breeze from the North.  Alas, 'twas not the case...a still, muggy overcast morning awaited us.  The air was fully saturated with the thick, heavy humidity characteristic of Indiana summertime.  I debated scaling my goal back to 2:05 but decided to leave it as 2:00 and see what happened.  My plan all along was to run continuously, not using a run/walk approach.  I also "ran light" not carrying any water, instead choosing to walk a few seconds while taking water at each of the plentiful aid stations.  I had one Gu with me, planned for mid-race.


The gun went off exactly on schedule at 7:30am and what fun it was.  This race is 50% bigger than it was just three years ago and there was a jolly mood in the pack.  I set my Garmin for the 2:00 goal and proceeded to see how well I could handle it.  

Did I mention the humidity??  Before mile 1 was over, I had sweat pouring into my eyes.  Before the mile 2 marker, my singlet was soaked and by mile 3 my shorts looked like I had just climbed out of the pool.  However, I was running comfortably, noticing my breathing was a lot easier than many around me.  By mile 5, I was about 20 seconds behind my pace.  A quick pit stop at mile 7 took another 45 seconds away.  At mile 8, a Notre Dame student I was running with asked how close we'd come to her goal of 2 hours.  I predicted 2:02 at that point.  Maybe I should be the weatherman.  

What was fun, though, was feeling fully in touch with the pace and the conditions.  I pushed myself yet had a feel for how to avoid going over the edge.  Miles 8, 9 and 10 were actually well under my 9:20 average and I was enjoying myself.  A big hill (well, big for Indiana) at mile 11 slowed things a bit but I felt strong heading into the final stages of the race.

The last 1.5 miles of this event, as the course approaches the Notre Dame campus from the south, are always moving for me.  As many of you know, my Dad played football at Notre Dame in the 1930s, so participating in an athletic event on that same turf is meaningful at so many levels.  Each year it hits me in a different way.  In this race, as we motored through some wonderful new commercial buildings along Eddy Avenue, I just got laughing.  I thought how funny Dad would find it to see this wonderful renovation of an area which was not nearly so nice when he was in South Bend.  We crossed onto the campus, made our way past the unfortunately-named Mendoza School of Business, along the west side of the stadium and my thoughts of Dad just grew.  The smile on my face, of fondness and gratefulness, was impossible to wipe off.  As we turned into the tunnel and charged onto the north end zone of Notre Dame stadium to the 50 yard-line finish, it was once again a moment of great joy, and one which honored my Dad's memory.


The organizers of this race, in concert with Notre Dame officials, really make this a memorable event.  Cold towels and abundant quantities of Popsicles are unique additions to the usual post-race fare.  The chance to simply stroll on the hallowed turf of Notre Dame stadium is a thrill for any sports fan and a personal treat for me.  I enjoyed this time as usual, then headed out, riding the well-organized shuttle bus service back downtown to my car.  A quick trip to a public restroom let me shed my soaked gear for some dry shorts and a clean T shirt, much appreciated.  As I started the car to drive home, the clouds finally let loose with a dandy, soaking rain.  I was home a little before 3pm, with quite an amazing 12 hour adventure done.

A nice surprise awaited me when I looked at the official results.  In my age group, I placed 13th of 53, in the top quartile.  I leafed back through other race results and couldn't find an example of doing that well.  I was astounded.  While I was pleased with the results, I had no idea it would have put me that high.  I was just over halfway up for all men, 420 of 845.  So, my 56 year old psyche was also satisfied.  

So, a nice race and a nice day.  I move on now to mostly just training through the summer heat for a couple of fall marathons. 

Thanks for listening.  Persevere.