Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last gasp

For some reason, I hadn't expected to do anything today; the last day of 2009. I'm back in Phoenix house sitting and with all my friends out of town, I thought I'd spend a quite night reading a book (A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce) and having a glass of wine or two. But noooooooo. Instead I ended up at a 3 mile run with a gun time of 10:30 PM.

Now, I realize there are lots of places on the planet where you just don't want to be out racing at 10:30 PM on December 31st; but it's fabulous running weather in Phoenix with the temperature around 45F (7C) at gun time. No wind, clear skies, lots of darkness and 500 of my closest friends. Where else should a runner be on New Year's Eve than with other runners?

I got in a good 2 mile warm up, took off my sweats and squeezed into the chute 10 yards back from the start line. After the gun went off, I spent 1/4 mile weaving in and out of the joggers who, for reasons that still escape me, insist on starting races up front. But after I broke free, I realized that I could still see the leaders up ahead and there weren't a whole lot of runners between me and them; at least a lot fewer than I've seen in other races this year. I was feeling good and the cool, moist air felt great; plus, I was passing 2 or 3 runners per minute and no one was passing me - this usually means I'm running too fast; but I just didn't care - I was having fun.

I never did see the 1 mile marker and it was too dark to read my watch anyway, but I really sensed that I was motoring along. I'd seen the 2 mile marker during my warm up so I could gauge my approximate position and knew I'd gone past the half-way point and I was still passing people; all be it at a much slower rate. I'd pass a runner, fixate my eyes on the next runner in front of me and give chase. I still had half the race to run and I knew I was running way too fast; but I still didn't care - I was having fun.

I took a timing hack at the 2 mile marker; but it was still way too dark to read any times. It was getting harder to catch the next runner in front, but I was slowly reeling them in one by one. My legs were feeling great; breathing was hard, but steady - not labored and I didn't feel anywhere near close to cracking. As I got near 1/4 mile to go I passed the last runner I'd catch in this race.

I fixated on two girls 20 yards in front of me and gave chase; but, they had their own ideas and continued to accelerate. I got within 5 yards of them at the finish, but just couldn't catch them.

I was shocked to look down at my watch and see that I'd run the last mile in 6:27; my unofficial time for 3 miles - 20:32; that works out to a 6:51/mi avg pace. That is the fastest avg pace of any race I've ever run.

So ... I can add three additional accomplishments to the year:

1) Fast overall average pace in a race: 6:51/mi
2) 3 mile PR: 20:32
3) Fastest single mile in any race since High School: 6:27

This is so much better than sitting around getting drunk. I think I've started a new tradition.

Have a great 2009 everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Wrap Up

Ah ... the traditional year-end wrap up. This should be really short since I didn't set any goals for 2008; other than getting healthy and over coming the injuries that plagued me through much of the back half of 2007. For the most part, I've accomplished that.

Although I only ran 1,100 miles this year; I'm running pain free. I had my weekly mileage built back up to the 40+ miles/week range in November and started to enjoy our sport again. I didn't race much, only competing in five 5Ks and one 10K all year; with none anywhere close to a PR.

On the plus side, I had three significant accomplishments

1) I started yoga, found that I really enjoyed it and dramatically improved my flexibility. Before yoga, I cold barely reach my shins and now I can put all 10 fingers on the floor (the palms will have to wait a few more months)
2) Introduced a new runner to our sport and coached her to a 31:11 in her first 5K and, in the process, created another running fanatic (insert evil laugh here)
3) Finally got my weight back down to the low 170 lb range.

I guess it's been a pretty good year.

I don't have a clue what 2009 will bring. Clearly, I need to get my life back on track with a renewed focus. I need to blog more and make sure that I keep up with all my blogging friends. I need to keep up the yoga and continue to improve my flexibility and I need to set some specific goals for running this year. With your help, I should be able to do that and more.

I wish you all the best over New Years and hope you all do nothing but improve throughout 2009.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from my Christmas Vacation in Mission Viejo, California.

Laguna Hills

My little brother and me

My nephew and me

Mt. Baldy

The Pacific Ocean

More ocean shots

Pacific Ocean through the Reeds

I didn't take the following pictures of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Eastern California, but got permission from the photographer to use them. They are really cool.

From Eastern California

From Eastern California

From Eastern California

From Eastern California

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Checking In

Holy mackerel, it's sure been a long time since I've posted. There's lots of turmoil in my life at the moment and I just haven't found the time to blog; however, I do miss following your trials and tribulation on your blogs as well as hearing words of encouragement from you.

Since I passed 1000 miles 3 weeks ago, I haven't kept up with my 40+ miles per week regime as evidenced by my weekly mileage totals; 33.9, 14.0 and 15.3 miles, respectively; 2, maybe 3 runs per week. I find it ironic that as soon as the weather in central Arizona turns perfect, my running takes a nose dive. Next week will be better (it has to be)

For all my friends celebrating Christmas, I wish you all the best next week and hope you have the opportunity to enjoy time with your families. The rest of us will just have to enjoy a couple of quiet weeks