More PR’s in Philly

In one of my first posts, I made a statement that my goal in 2011 was to set PR’s in every event.  After my recent trip to Philadelphia, I can erase 2 more times from my old resume and pencil in a 29:49 for 10k and 49:14 10 mile.  I haven’t had that much fun racing since qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon last October.  Both the Penn Relays and Broad Street events I competed in had a great energy and atmosphere to them.  You don’t seem to hurt as much when you realize your racing at the famed Franklin Field at the Penn Relays or when you are chugging down the heart of Philadelphia’s busiest street with 30,000 other runners.  I truly was feeling the love in Philly!

After a disappointing race out at Stanford earlier in Spring, I had to find another competitive 10k to race before the end of track season.  At the same time, I made plans to get back on the roads for a few races as well.  As I searched for another fast 10k, I realized I would have to wait until the last weekend of April to do it, which was going to conflict with the Broad Street race I wanted to do.  As I looked over my schedule I started to think about the possibility of doing a 10k/10-mile double.

It was hard to wrap my head around at first, because prior to this attempt, I had only ever done a 10k/5k double at our conference track meets – and racing a 5k is a lot different than trying to recover and run a 10-mile race.  At the same time, I thought it would be a good challenge to see how my body would respond to a race situation when I was fatigued.

Shamus enjoying a post-race breakfast with the trophy

Going into the Broad Street race, I thought I could contend to be the top American and had a goal of running around 50-minutes (5-minute per mile pace).  As the race started and I got rolling, I was surprised at how well my legs and body were feeling.  I started getting pretty excited when I went through the halfway point at 24:16 because I knew I would break 50-minutes; my attention and focus was now on trying to run under 49 minutes.  Unfortunately, I found myself running the last 6.5 miles almost completely alone and not having someone there to help push me a long was probably the biggest reason for not breaking 49 (although having race a 10k 2 days earlier probably didn’t help either).

I ended the race in 6th place overall and finished as the top American.  I guess the number 6 was my number for the weekend, as I finished 6th in my 10k race on Thursday night (they’ll probably name a street after me and call it 6th – fans of the movie, Prefontaine will appreciate that quote).  But I had a ton of fun at the race.  That was the largest race I have ever been involved with (the Broad Street 10 miler is the biggest 10-mile race in the US).  It’s pretty cool when a city shuts down for a running event.  As runners, we’re used to not getting much attention and being at the low end of the sporting popularity totem poll; however, big city races dispel all of this.  People line the street from start to finish and it’s a great boost to hear people cheering for you the whole way!

The weekend in Philadelphia was also a chance to visit with some old teammates of mine – Shamus and Pat.  Shamus was in town for the Penn Relays working with Nike and Pat works at the UPenn hospital and was nice enough to house me for the weekend.  I also got to officially meet Pat’s wife, who quite easily had the coolest running story of the weekend.  The shorthand account goes something like this: in the midst of her long run on Saturday, she stopped to administer CPR to a woman who had collapsed.  She ended up having to cut the clothes off the woman and use the AED to shock her a couple of times.  She was able to get the woman’s pulse back and then outraced the ambulance to the hospital.  When I left Philadelphia the woman was still alive.  Pretty amazing run!!

I’m at the Columbus airport waiting to catch my flight to Chicago for the MAC Championships @ Northern Illinois.  I’m excited/anxious to see how the Bobcat distance girls do this weekend!  I’ll be back racing next Friday night at the Sunset Distance Classic meet in Athens.  It’s a great event and encourage everyone to come run/watch!  Hope to see y’all there.

Until then, Godspeed!

Penn Relays and Philadelphia

It’s been a great trip so far.  My first race of the weekend – Penn Relays 10k on Thursday night – went well.  I ran a new 10k PR (29:49) and finished 6th overall.  Storms earlier in the day resulted in about a 90 weather delay, so our race didn’t technically start until Friday, with a 12:30 a.m. start time;  I wouldn’t be too upset if I never finished another race at 1 a.m.

Other than the start time, it was a good night to race.  The storms earlier in the day gave way to a calm night inside Franklin Field.  Temps were a little warm, which is why I think everyone was a little conservative at the beginning of the race.  We went through the 5k around 14:58 and it wasn’t until the 4 mile mark that things began to pick up and spread out.  My last 1k could have been better, but I was happy with the finishing time.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be back on the starting line for the Broad Street Blue Cross 10 miler.  It’s the largest 10 mile race in the US, with 30,000 runners signed up to run.  I’m feeling surprisingly well after Thursday’s (or Friday’s, depending on how you look at it) race.  I went for a little shake out run on Friday with former OU teammate of mine – Pat Harvey.  He took me on a little tour of the city, which including a run up the stairs of the Philly Art Museum – made famous by its scenes in Rocky movie.

Last night, Pat and I, went with Shamus – another OU teammate who is in town for the Penn Relays – to the Phillies game.  It was nice to kick back, relax and catch up.  Ryan Howard had 2 homers, 1 of which was a grand slam.

I’m heading back to Franklin Field for the rest of the Penn Relays this afternoon.  They’ve got some good races on tap.  The USA vs. the World relay races should be fun to watch.  The Penn Relays is without a doubt the most unique, and most chaotic, track meet I’ve ever seen!!

Penn Relays week!

Today, I ran my last workout before Thursday night’s Penn Relays 10k race.  The weather in Athens was warm and humid, but I didn’t mind since the workout was short and sweet.  I’ve always been a fan of the final pre-race workout because it’s almost always over before the normal workout pain arrives.

My free training advice of the day is this: if you’re looking to gauge where your fitness level stands during your final pre-race workout, you’re looking in the wrong place.  At this point in a runner’s training the proverbial hay is in the barn.  Basically, nothing that I’ve done in the past week will have a major impact on my race – it’s all more or less maintenance work.  If you’re not ready for a race 10 days prior to the actual race, there is nothing in those last 10 days you can do to get yourself ready.  To put a spin on both the former Arizona Cardinal’s head coach, Dennis Green, and the Zac Brown Band, you are who you are and you will get what you gave (in terms of the work you put into your training).

As for the race itself, the 10k field will be both competitive and large, with 65 guys on the track at once.  If I learned one thing from running in a big 10k race earlier this year at Stanford, it’s that I’ve got to be a little more aggressive at the start to get myself in a more manageable position.  The race has a host of elite runners, including 12 guys who have run faster than 14:15 in the 5k (2 with PR’s under 13:50), as well as the 7th place finisher at the 2008 US Marathon Olympic Trials, Nate Jenkins.  It will be a fast race, so we’ll see how long I can hang on!

The race is Thursday night at 10:55 p.m. and you’ll be able to watch it on the website (FloTrack) below:

http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/238230-2011-Penn-Relays

The next until you hear from me, I’ll be in the city of brotherly love…until then, godspeed!

Holy Boston Marathon! Plus a look ahead…

It’s been 3 days since the Boston marathon and I’m still trying to comprehend everything that transpired!  We saw 2 men run under 2:03:10 (the world’s record is 2:03:58).  An American man (Ryan Hall) ran under 2:05.  And then there was the women’s race, where 2 American women finished in the top 5.

The story of the race belonged to American Desiree Davila, who made runners and non-runners stop in their tracks around noon Monday morning, as everyone collectively found themselves yelling at their tv’s and computers for one last push.  Davila ran courageously over the last 10k, surging to the lead on several occasions (including in the final 600 meters), but ultimately would finish second, just 2 seconds behind the eventual winner.

Monday was truly a transformational day in the sport of distance running; there were so many amazing story lines.  For me though, I was most inspired and impressed by the incredibly gutsy performance by Davila.  The next time I get in a tough spot during a race, I’ll probably think back to this race and her determination to keep pressing.  Check out a recap of the race below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYrvIRe0zTc&feature=player_embedded#at=33

I also have exciting news to report regarding my upcoming race schedule.  I had previously made plans to race at the Hillsdale Relays next weekend, but will now head to Philadelphia for not 1 race, but 2!!  A week from tonight (Thursday), I’ll be racing the 10k at the Penn Relays.  After a couple of recovery days, I’ll be lacing up the race shoes again on Sunday morning for the Blue Cross Broad Street 10-miler in downtown Philadelphia.  It’s an ambitious race schedule, both physically and mentally, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of the double race weekend and feel like it will make me a better runner in the future.  It’s very difficult to simulate what your body goes through at the end of a marathon, but I feel like Sunday’s race will take my mind and body to that place, without destroying my body like a full marathon.

Obviously, I’m excited about the opportunity to run at the Penn Relays and getting back on the roads should be a great way to end a what will hopefully be a fun and fast weekend in the city of Brotherly Love!

Godspeed.

Major Marathon Excitement!

It’s mid-April.  Spring is in the air and no longer is it necessary to wear multiple layers of clothing on runs.  This also means we are growing ever-nearer to the highly anticipated “short” shorts season – an often overlooked time of the year that women all over these United States eagerly (and certainly secretly) await.  It won’t be long before a skinny runner will don the short shorts in a neighborhood near you!

Now, back to the topic at hand.  What mid-April really means is that we are just days away from 2 major marathons – the Boston marathon and the London marathon.  London will take center stage first, as what has become the most competitive marathon in the world, will be contested on Sunday.  The following day, thousands will make the 26.2 mile trek east from Hopkinton to Boston in the most historic foot-race of them all.  In running terms, it’s like have the Super Bowl on back-to-back days!

Having reverted my focus back to the track this Spring, I’m finding myself missing the roads, especially when I watch events like the ones taking place this weekend.  There is something special about a big-city race.  You can feel the excitement in the city the moment you put a foot on the ground.

Three years ago I went to Boston to cheer on a few friends and see what it was all about.  There are only a few experiences during my running career that I can point to as “moment-changing” events.  The weekend I spent in Boston in 2008 is definitely one of them.  Coming home from Boston that weekend, I realized that I wanted more out of my running.  I felt this incredible drive to train harder than ever before.  It took me a while to get back in shape – at the time, I wasn’t in the best shape – but since then, I can happily look back on that weekend and say that it played a huge role in where I am today.  Luckily for me, my process of getting back in shape went more smoothly than our trip back to Ohio, as my friend and I spent the night sleeping on the cold, hard (and wet) LaGuardia airport floor!

I told myself back in ’08, that when I went back to Boston, I would go back in the best shape of my life and be one of the people running that race, not watching.  I can’t wait for that April to come!

Godspeed.