Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yasso 800s and my WR prediction

The White Rock Marathon is only 11 days away.  This will be my 4th consecutive White Rock.  This morning I ran my last Yasso 800s leading up to White Rock.  Yasso 800s are an interval training workout that also serves as a predictor of marathon finish times.  (See my entry on Yasso 800s from this time last year here.)
This morning I averaged a 3:35 800.  The best thing about it is that if I leave out the first interval (I wasn't quite warmed up yet), intervals 2-10 ranged from 3:31 to 3:36.  I am encouraged by this consistency and by the strength of the latter intervals.  My normal pattern on intervals or tempo runs is to taper off with slower times at the end, and to be inconsistent in pace throughout. 

So based on the Yasso 800s philosophy, this should predict a 3:35 finish at White Rock.  This is actually pretty encouraging; my marathon PR is 3:35, set at White Rock 2009.  There are lots of factors, and Yasso 800 times are no guarantee, but I have been putting in more miles more consistently in the months leading up to WR  than I did last year.  (I'm at 87 consecutive days of running, and counting.)  Maybe, just maybe, I have another 3:35 marathon in me.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ultracentric at Lake Grapevine

I have been running in organized races for over 3 years now, so my volunteering at a race was LONG overdue.  I had absolutely no desire to run in the Ultracentric run, so I figured I'd spend a few hours there volunteering.  Lorrie, who hosts the NTTR trail runs, rounded up the volunteers and planned all the food.  I showed up for a few hours Saturday morning to help with food and registration.

The Ultracentric Experience is a timed run, with 48-, 24-, 12-, and 6-hour races.  Competitors run on a 2-mile loop as long as they can, as fast as they can.  The winner is the runner or walker who, at the end of the specified time period, has covered the most ground.  I didn't want to run because: 1. I ran in a timed race last year (Run from the Ducks, 8 hours) and decided that sort of race, running the same short course over and over all day, is not for me; 2. Ultracentric was run on pavement, with no shade; and 3. I ran the Rockledge Rumble the previous weekend and will run White Rock in 2 weeks.

When I got there, around 5 a.m., several of the 48-hour runners were plugging away, and some were sleeping, including one at the back of the food tent.  Shortly before 6, eventual winner Volodymyr Balatskyy hit 100 miles, less than 21 hours from Friday's 9 a.m. start.  He ended up with 208 miles, 68 more than the next competitor.  In the 24 hour race, Andy Thompson hit 90 miles, 6 miles better than the next runner.  The great part about is that at 61, he was older than all the others in the 24-hour race!

Special recognition goes to 11-year-old Isabella, who won the 6-hour race.  Apparently she and her dad travel all over the place running in races.  A fun bonding time for them.

I'm glad I was able to help out Saturday, and glad I wasn't running.  It was already getting warm and muggy when I left the event, shortly after the 9 a.m. start.  It must have been a long, hot day for the runners.  But I congratulate all those dedicated souls, thank Lorrie for her hard work, and commend Robert for putting on a unique event.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rockledge Rumble Race Report

Today the North Texas Trail Runners put on one of their flagship races of the year, the 16th annual Rockledge Rumble.  This race and NTTR are well intertwined in their respective histories.  As is the tradition, the Rumble is run around Veterans Day, with a theme of honoring America's veterans.

So starting with the most important part of the day, Tom Crull, race director, led us in the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, then introduced veterans who had come out for the race.  Today we were honored to be joined by veterans who served during WW2, one guy who returned from Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago, and many in between.  I can't help but be moved thinking about the sacrifices they and their families made serving our country, and thinking about the many men and women who don't come home.  And of course I remember my grandfather's proud service during WW2 and my father's service in the Navy.  Running a trail race seems so insignificant in light of their service, but the freedom to enjoy such hobbies and other pleasures of life is one reason they fight.  Thanks to all our veterans!
Granddaddy and Dad with the Mastin boys at Granddaddy's 95th birthday party.
I probably should have a picture of them in uniform, but I don't think I do.
I started out hoping to finish in under 6 hours.  I thought it was doable.  Two weeks ago I ran a little over 20 miles in 4 hours on the same course, so I figured if I could improve on that pace just a bit, I could do it.  I was on pace for a while, finishing 20 miles in about 3 minutes under 4 hours, and keeping that pace for another couple of miles to the 22 mile turnaround.  But after that aid station stop, starting out on the final loop, I knew I didn't have a 6 hour finish in me.  The first 22 miles, I averaged well under 12 minutes per mile.  The last 10 miles, I think I averaged over 15 minutes per mile.  Not so great.  So my finish was nearly 7 hours: 6:50:56 (39/76 overall, 13/15 40-49M).

Of course, trail running is not all about the times.  (At least for me; I know I'll never be a front runner, unlike Matt, who won the whole enchilada for the second consecutive year!  Way to go Matt!)  Trail running, for me, is about running in a beautiful setting and pushing my body harder than I normally do.
Lake Grapevine's north shore has awesome single track.  The shade was welcome today.
It's also about the people.  I got to run with Dave, who I run into frequently at these races and whose always interesting blog I read.  I ran into Andy from Abilene, whom I met at Run from the Ducks last year.  Mike was there, not running after having run at Cactus Rose 2 weeks ago, but his greeting at the finish was most welcome.  T. O. finished a few minutes behind me (he passed me late, then took a wrong turn), but while I will hardly be able to walk tomorrow, he'll probably be running the Fort Worth Marathon.  I finally met Dave from face to face.  There were lots of familiar faces and friends.  The trail running community is a lot of fun to be around and at every race or club run I meet new folks and catch up with others.  All in all, a well-spent day!
Char and Fred, President and First Gentleman of NTTR.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire came out 30 years ago, but remains every bit as powerful today.  You don't have to be a runner to be inspired by Eric Liddell, the "Flying Scotsman," who set the world record in the 400 at the 1924 Paris Olympics.  Besides his highly esteemed character, his missionary work, other running feats, and rugby exploits, Liddell famously chose to forgo a chance to run the 100 meters, his best event, at the Olympics.  The qualifying heats for the 100 were run on Sunday.  He refused to compete on the Lord's day, so ran the 400 instead. 
Liddell winning the 400 at the Paris Olympics.

It's a moving story of one man's conviction and shows the real heart of a champion.  Even though I'm a Christian, and most Sundays you'll find me at church, I never have shared Liddell's conviction about Sunday.  At one point, as he's leaving church, a boy's ball comes across his path.  He gently chides the boy for playing on Sunday.  What?  Most of us don't spend all day at church, so why not spend the rest of the day playing?  I could almost see correcting the boy if he were chopping wood or something, but a pick-up soccer game hardly seems offensive to God.  I certainly have run on Sundays, even a few races, and have missed church because of Saturday races.  I'm quite sure I don't measure up to Liddell spiritually, but his dogmatic conviction about Sunday seems a little misplaced.

Charleson pretending to win the 400 at the Paris Olympics.
The running in the movie is fun to watch.  I'm more into long distance running, but that would make for a boring movie.  Liddell's sprints make for more interesting viewing.  Ian Charleson's portrayal of Liddell's passionate, no-holds-barred running style makes me want to go out for some hard sprints.  However, I don't think I have it in me.  Liddell's famous line from the movie is, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."  My version is, "God made me slow.  When I try to run fast I feel his mockery."  Here's a video of Liddell's finish in Paris.