"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Monday, May 31, 2010

I won this race once...

I won the 2007 Kevin Gatons 5k in 15:37, by an almost-30-second margin. Three years later, I finished in 16:59, 11th place. It was not an encouraging sign.
The Gatons race has become a great chance for high schoolers, fresh off of the state meet, to come out and take a shot at a 5k after months races of two miles or less. The result is a 4:40 first mile every year.The last three years, I have been at the head of the pack through the mile, and three years ago I surged ahead and dropped everyone else. The last two years I have made it into the third mile before I fell off when we hit the downhills.
This year I was facing a little more intense heat. I got a late start heading out to Greensburg and arrived about 40 minutes before the race started. After hitting the bathroom and getting registered, it was 30 minutes. Having been stymied by the course last year, I wanted to run it completely as a warmup. Shafer accompanied me for the first mile, then turned back. When I got to the second mile mark, I told some girls managing the water stop that I wanted someone to throw water in my face when I passed by, because I would likely need it. The weather was rough...After changing into my flats, I saw who I would be up against. No Moravec or Becker this year, but the trio of Mt. Lebanon guys who made states had shown up- Rad Guzenhauser (9:07 3200m), Sean Staltari (9:27 3200m) and Alex Moran (4:20 1600m). As proud as I was that they made it to states, I was loathe to be beaten by them, so that ratcheted up the pressure. When Rad introduced me to a kid from North Hills who ran 9:15 a few days before, I realized that the race was only getting tougher and I would have to run beyond what I had displayed a capacity to do previously this year, if I wanted to win. All I could do was go out with the leaders and hope their orientation toward shorter races would come to the surface and my long-distance training would pay off.None such luck.
The gun went off and I, as always, was far behind. I moved up swiftly, but the effort to do so drained me. I felt like my legs were gone not even a half mile into the race. Bobby Wolfe from Baldwin took it out hard. Everyone chased him. They had the legs to do so. I had four 400s under 72 seconds to my name in the last year- I was not going to be running 4:40 this year.
The first mile was a warm mess, and I split 4:59. I knew that wouldn't last, with the course's main hills coming up in the second mile. I started to drop back, realizing I was putting myself in jeopardy, not of losing the race, but of putting myself through more pain than was necessary. This wasn't a race to try to win, it was a workout with other people. 10:35 for the second mile. Yeesh. I started to jog toward the top of the hill. Shafer came up on my left. We reached the water stop. Nothing. They didn't throw the water on me. Finally, pointing to my face activated the last teenage girl to fling the cup....right into my stomach. Great, none of the relief for my face, but plenty of water added to the sweat in my shorts and shoes, which were starting to sound like sponges.
It did provoke me to speed up a little and use the downhills. I was more aggressive in the third mile this year, though the uphill near the stereo store flummoxed me. At this point, I knew sub 15:30, sub-16 and 16:25 (my typical 5k time, sadly) were out of the picture -- I just wanted to fend off Shafer, Jim Hommes and Brandon G so I could be the first Hound across the line. My kick was nonexistant, I just kind of faded into the finish line, as some Norwin runner outkicked me.
I snuck under 17:00- 16:59.1, and held off Shafer (17:05) Jim (17:06) and Brandon (17:14). I was just a little less than one minute behind Wolfe, who won. The slower winning time (about 23 seconds faster than typically) made me feel a little bit better later on, but first, I wanted to get a four-mile cooldown so I could have 11 for the day. After heading off with the Hounds and some of Jim's runners, I immediately fell back and struggled through a rough time. I ended up cutting it off at three miles.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I had plans to meet up with Alex Lochner in Fox Chapel and run a few easy miles with him before I set out on my own, but his great uncle was in grave condition and he wisely opted to see him. I slept in a bit Saturday and ended up heading to Schenley Park. I did nothing special, a loop around the golf course, down to Oakland, up Beechwood and back around the 3k loop. It was similar to my long run route in 2007 when it was too snowy for trails, but I didn't go all the way to Braddock Ave or Greenfield. The hills did not bother me as much as when I was in town in March...

Sunday morning, after a thankfully dry wedding, I went out to Robin Garber's place in Ingram to meet her for a run. We set off to explore the Montour Rail line that runs parallel to Chartiers Creek. She turned back after three miles, and after some missteps, I found the trail, but not exactly as I had envisioned it from the satellite map. I kept following the train tracks, until I looked at my watch and saw 45 minutes. I should have crossed the creek and been halfway through McKees Rocks by now! I climbed up a hill and looked over the trees to the creek- but it was a good bit wider than I expected. Oh dear, it was the Ohio River... I backtracked until I saw the Radcliffe bridge in Esplen, crossed it then found the Linden Bridge to McKees Rocks. There were no trees along the route, and the sun was starting to get to me, so I scrapped the plan to run along the west bank of the creek and took the Windgap Bridge back into the city and through Windgap and Fairywood back to Robin's place.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Too much DC....

I spent an awful lot of time running in the city this week. After my long run on Monday, I woke up for a quick three miles in Falls Church and complemented that with 7.5 that evening around the Mall.
Wednesday was five miles in the morning, then a parallelogram loop of southeast, during which my good mp3 player shorted out.
Thursday I did a short workout in the morning, but had to add three+ miles around the Capitol after work, which was sweltering.
Friday, I got into work early and did a half marathon around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point, during which I saw Dickson running.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


After Sunday's aborted long run, I had to try again. Running before work, at least 16 of running, was a bad idea, so I decided to cobble together a run around the city after work to fit an errand in. I am trying to meet with a few groups to promote the GRC Father's Day 8k, and The DC Capital Striders are among the primary groups I want to contact. I was going to meet up with them and talk to various runner, get about 6 miles in, surrounded by 10 miles otherwise.
I ended up offering to help the Striders stuff bags for their race instead, then Laura O'Hara suggested I run with her. She would be ready at 6:15, so I started off down Massachusetts to Potomac and Pennsylvania in Southeast and added a lap around the Capitol and the Botanical Gardens.
Laura took me down the mall and over the 14th street bridge to the Mt. Vernon trail and a loop around the Iwo Jima Memorial. At this point, I was reaching about 10 miles and the heat and humidity had me worn down, but she kept me going. We ran into Klim and Dickson near the Lincoln Memorial and headed around the Capitol and then I headed back to the office for a cold shower. I felt pretty darn good, having totaled about 16.75 miles in the conditions prevalent that afternoon.
I unfortunately did not remember my calf compression sleeves, which I have come to really enjoy. I think they'll work wonders after long runs, though I am making it a habit of wearing them after most runs of six miles or longer.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Uneven weekend

Friday I woke up and got a quick ~3 around Falls Church, then came home and added onto a Park loop, with great results, for almost seven miles. Then I headed out kind of late to Clay's law school graduation party. I knew it would endanger any hope I had of a productive fartlek in the morning, but as it turns out that was all moot.

I sat on a metro train for about 15-20 minutes waiting to leave the station Saturday morning. After four hours of sleep, I didn't have the temperament to deal with being late. I ran across the bridge to the store and found two Jakes, two Pats, another Charles, Henry Dickson and a Matthew, but, as I heard from a text earlier, no Karl. He was on board with my morning workout plan, but his calf issue ended up being exculpatory for me, because I really didn't feel like it anymore. We ran a pleasant, but warm, 10 miles along the Mt. Vernon Trail and Hains Point. Around eight miles, I started to get really insanely thirsty, and shortly after I decided I was not going to run hard anymore. About that time, Ernst decided to start pushing, and I just kind of let things go. I kind of stuck around for another mile, but once we hit the Georgetown waterfront, I just kind of easily jogged it in. I was happy enough to hit 75 miles for the week, and I probably overdid it with water when I got back to the store.

I spent the rest of the day, and Dylan's fifth going-away party that night, hydrating for what I hoped would be a vigorous long run in the morning. I'm remarkably good and drinking water in a social setting. I wish I could do so at work, because I so frequently come home completely dehydrated and need to delay my evening run. I gave myself ample time to get to the Bethesda station Sunday morning to meet Klim, and we joined up with Karl, Marren, Dickson, Murphy and Dylan at The Line. I hadn't run the RCP trails from The Line...well...ever, because the ground was always covered in snow. There was a fine but constant rain pouring down, and I quickly decided on ditching my shirt. It felt a lot like the Pittsburgh Marathon, humid and warm, but not as warm as Pittsburgh. Splashing through mud puddles in a medium-sized pack felt felt reminiscent of college, getting back into the Virginian climate and having people with whom to run.

I was enjoying it and marveled at how fast the first 15 minutes went. I would be able to cover 16 miles with no problem. That is, until three minutes later. All of a sudden, I lost the sharp focus I had on controlling my legs. I got woozy, and when we stopped and hit the bathroom and water fountain, it hit me just how out of it I was. My legs started quivering uncontrollably, and I started to have trouble talking. I wanted to try to push through it, because who the hell falls apart three miles into the run? The rationality of pushing myself beyond what was already untenable was nil, though, so I headed back to the cars, dejected and hoping to salvage something from the trip. After getting back to the cars and having half of the most delicious orange in my entire life, I ran around the adjacent park for a while and back into Rock Creek Park for another 36 minutes, for what I conservatively figure to have been a total of 11.5 miles. Marren was waiting when I got back, so we rapped for a while before Murphy, Klim and I joined Chuck and Towpath to do some more planning for the GRC Father's Day 8k.

So, I'll give my long run another shot on Monday. I'm meeting up with the DC Capital Striders to talk about the GRC race at 6:30, and they run about six miles, so I will run the first 8.4 before meeting up with them, do six with them, then head back to my office for 16. It's not great, but it will do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A little thirsty

I ran an easy 7.4 total Wednesday evening, part of which with Melissa around the Tidal Basin.

I have added onto my medium long run, making it 13 miles, so I had to make some adjustments to my run to work route. never a fan of too much of the W&OD, I cut the first two-mile stretch and instead headed down Park and Columbia to Falls Church Park, then took W&OD to the Custis Trail. I felt amazing as I started out, with no knee pain and more morning energy than I can remember having. I started out a little too fast, as a result, hitting the mile mark at 5:59. I eased up, while still pushing a little bit, though there was not much shade and it was sunny. I got pretty thirsty. Then my sentences became short and choppy. The rolling hills were nice, though I had to worry about bikers squeezing through while going pretty fast. Running along the sound-absorbing wall next to I-66 makes me feel like I am going much faster, because of the vertical contours to the wall. Rather than take the Key Bridge as was my routine when I got to Rosslyn, I took the Mt. Vernon trail to the Roosevelt Bridge, over to the Kennedy Center then along the Rock Creek Trail to the Lincoln Memorial, down to the Capitol along Constitution and up First to my office. 13.1 miles, 1:22: 43, well faster than the Pittsburgh Half.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A faster four

The workout plan for Tuesday at B-CC fell apart so I decided to do a work workout in DC. Since i haven't hooked up my bike odometer, I don't have the miles marked on Hains Point, but a careful measurement with mapmyrun.com showed me a 4.02 mile loop, starting at the Ohio Drive Bridge and looping to the parking lot near the south end and back up and along Buckeye Back to the bridge. So I decided to do a tempo, aiming for between 5:20- 5:30 pace. I jogged over, tried on the old Puma Completes and was off. The west side wasn't bad- I had to move for a few cars and bikers, but since I was facing traffic it was easy to see them. Turning at the parking lot, rather than the tip of the road was a big help, but as soon as I turned onto the east side, the wind was in my face. I leaned as much as I could to cut into the wind. When the road split into two lanes, I moved to the left to continue to face traffic, and the turn onto Buckeye was a blessing. I picked it up and tore around the last turn and held my form back slightly past the bridge to finish in 21:28. For 4 miles it was 5:22 pace but when I measured the course again I came up with 4.02, so it's 5:20 pace. Just what I wanted. The cooldown back to the office took forever, and my sweat-soaked shirt chilled quickly in the breeze, but once I got off the Mall I got back with no problems. A solid solo workout.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I need to fill in about a week, here...

I never really wrote a complete entry for the last week or so, I need to do that.
Anyway, I had a nice little run in a drizzle today. 8.6 miles around the Woodley loop at 6:25 pace. I was hurrying somewhat to get back to work on a story about a program in Los Angeles, and the people I needed to talk to were going to be free at 7 pm eastern.
It was the kind of day that should be miserable- after two days of beautiful, sunny weather, it was a cool drizzle. That I thrived in the rain today was a good sign to me- that the frustrations with the two halves I ran earlier in the month was not based on burnout. The only thing I was burning out on was holding back. I am enjoying the "drudgery," the junk miles, and even though I'm just in the middle of a 75 mile week, it's a good sign. And, most basically, I enjoy what I am doing. I can't discount that..

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alright, you killed me a little bit, half marathon

I ran a half marathon honestly today, and it hurt. What hurt the most was probably the realization that I did not do everything I could to prepare for the distance, and even if I had been "on" last week in Pittsburgh, it wouldn't have been enough. It would have been better than today, but the chances of me breaking 1:11 were very slim. When I finished the race today, even falling off pace as much as I did to the point where I was going my distance run pace , I was wiped out.

The weather seemed great in Rosslyn as I warmed up for a half marathon that some running store or something held. I felt loose, light and ready to go. Robbie Wade and Mike Wardian were there, so I expected to just tuck in behind them. The horn went off and we headed right down the hill and onto Jefferson Davis Highway...and I was in front. Whaaaaat? I thought about stopping dead in my tracks until the other guys caught up to me, but I decided to just keep rolling and try to stay relaxed. I came through the mile in 5:15, despite trying to jog.

The other guys caught up to me and I was ready to let them go to work. 5:22. It was starting to get windy. A quick out and back showed me that this dude in a Calvin College uniform was closing in on me. He passed me in the third mile, but I tried to focus on him for a while. 5:31. Hmmm, things don't seem to be going my way in terms of keeping the pace under 5:25. I started to run into the wind, though it was coming at an angle and we turned a bit. When I hit the fourth mile in 5:37, I figured my shot at sub 1:11 was over, and I would just try to keep running at a decent pace. 5:43, as I took it easier and enjoyed a long turn on an interchange onto Wilson Boulevard, where I felt the true strength of the wind, right in my face.

The next 1.5 miles were miserable. It was starting to hit me just how well this wasn't going and how quickly it got that way. 6:03 for my sixth mile, during which another guy passed me and I fell into fifth place. I hit the halfway mark in 36:59- 5:38 pace. As I approached the turnaround I thought, oh, if I can repeat that I can break 1:14. A second after the turnaround, I knew I was wrong. I managed to repeat the 6:03 at mile 7 and dip under at 5:58 for eight, and I thought I could power through the last five miles, but I couldn't. All alone at this point, the wind was wearing me down, now somehow coming from all sides. I slowed down to 6:15 for the ninth mile, then pushed for a 6:07 to break 58 for 10 miles, which I did in 57:58.

After that, you would have had better luck preventing a mess by filling a 12-year-old up with a mixture of orange juice and warm milk then strapping him to a merry-go-round in an Oklahoma stockyard. I hit 13:03 for the next two miles and 6:36 for mile 13. A volunteer yelled "good race!" to me and I deadpanned back "no, it's not." She responded, "oh, well then I'm saying it to the guy behind you." As poorly as I was running, my bruised pride was still technically pride, so I kicked it in, finished, and turned around to see the guy was much farther behind me than I expected from the way the girl was talking. I ended up 1:18:19, still not what I want for a half marathon PR, but it's better than 1:29:14. Though I didn't need to go to a medical tent this time, I was exhausted, and had to lie down for a bit and just breathe a little. I stretched my legs out to make sure I didn't pass out or fall asleep, grabbed my bag, and went right home. Blue Powerade never tasted as good as when I finished.

My diagnosis: I tapered too much. My training volume in April dropped off too much from a great February and March. My weekly mileage went as such: 75, 80, 75, 80, 80, 81, 72 (took a day off), 74, 63, 60 (took a day off), 55, 42 (Pittsburgh), 56. My last long run was the first Sunday in April. The two weeks after Cherry Blossom were seven and six miles, respectively, on the Sundays. That just wasn't enough. It wasn't tapering, it was atrophy. I forgot what it was like to run 13+ miles on a regular basis. That's going to be my medium long run from now on. I have no trouble imagining that if I was hitting my splits in Pittsburgh or today through 10 miles, I would have just fallen apart.

I now have three months until my next serious race, I'm looking forward to taking a long-term approach to developing speed and endurance for the half marathon and getting ready for a serious attempt at a full marathon. It's time to become a long-distance runner.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Watch your back, half marathon, you haven't killed me yet

I'm taking another shot at the half marathon. I'm hoping any number of factors- no travel necessary, much better weather (a low of 43 and no rain anywhere nearby), and a sense of gratitude at having another chance will inspire a more...well...inspired performance.

Last week's race ended up being less a race than a tempo run followed by a long cooldown. Though I tried to think of it that way, it was a lot more evident Tuesday on a run with JARRIN where we hit the trails pretty hard in the afternoon sun and I felt better than I had in a week. Chris Sloane reinforced my thoughts on that and I knew by Tuesday evening I was ready to go and redeem myself at the half marathon.

Tuesday night I got some news that deflated me a bit, disappointed me greatly, but in a way makes me more tenacious. I'm not sure how much I want to elaborate on it right now, but suffice to say it put my future in a whole new perspective that truly frees me to do what I want. In similar circumstances, I've focused in races and achieved a lot, so I hope that happens again. By the same token, I have a new approach to how I will look at my running, one which removes a lot of restrictions on how I will go forward.

I needed a race, though. I kept hearing about the historic half in Fredricksburg, May 16. Plenty of time to recover and rev up. But it meant travel and staying a night in Fredricksburg, two expenses I didn't want. The Lynchburg Half in August seemed viable, and would give me time to prepare more, and it seems a fair goal. It's a month earlier than the Philly Distance Run, which was too close to Chicago for my tastes. Joe Wildfire's wedding precludes me from racing the Patrick Henry Half, so Lynchburg is now on the books. I figured I was settled on Lynchburg when I became aware of Jimmy Daly's plight. Like seemingly everyone on the GRC besides HUGE, he had an off day on Sunday, and was eager to get back at it I suggested Fredricksburg, which doesn't work for his schedule, but he told me about a race held by another shoe store, right in Arlington. Sunday. With much more favorable weather. Dare I, or dare I? I dare.

While I would like to still break 1:11, that will not be my singular focus this time. I just want to enjoy the race and see what I can do. I'll likely be in better shape to do it at Lynchburg, because I had 10 miles to nitpick my fitness on Sunday. That's not to say I won't, but I'm going to see where things take me tomorrow. I spent so much time tossing and turning the night before Pittsburgh because of the stress I put on myself to overcome the elements I know would be rough. I analyzed the course too much, staring at the map when I ended up standing on the Metro. I have no idea what this course is like, except that it's two loops. Arlington isn't THAT hilly and whatever hills I climb I'll have to come back down. This is going to be fun.

The Disney Cross Country Festival in 2003, another hot muggy race that went poorly but was followed by a lot of fun that changed my outlook.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An athletic miscarriage - my Pittsburgh Half Marathon

It was pretty friggin' ugly.

Short story: I shelved the race about 4k in because things were looking increasingly bleak in terms of both hitting my time and remaining conscious while maintaining a competitive pace.

Long story: I spent the last few months preparing for a race- my first at the distance but one that was certainly within reach. My races prior to it trended toward me being able to meet my goal. The race, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, was in my home town, where dozens of my friends and acquaintances would be watching and cheering. After seven months away, I wanted to demonstrate that I had made a significant jump in my fitness, able to keep a solid effort up over 13.1 miles. I wanted each of the cheers I heard from my friends to keep me speeding up as I charged for home, dipping under 5:20 as I covered the last 5k.

I woke up at 5:30 to prepare for my 6:00 shakeout run with Matt Ciccone around Chatham Village. I ran shirtless and sweat was rolling a half mile in. When we drove downhill to the Strip District, the air was even thicker. I warmed up along Liberty Avenue and trudged back to the starting line on Smallman Street and met up with a few familiar runners. Sheehan and Weiss warmed up with a little more focus, meanwhile I turned around and saw Chris Geddis charging toward me with a smile and a hearty handshake. Kristin and Kara Price were there, along with my Hound teammates- Brandon G, Jim Hommes, Eric Laughlin, Rirch Crowley, Greg Byrnes, Ryan Erdley, Timmy Wu!
We're all pressed back behind the line. It was getting awfully warm. Sweat poured off of my body. This is the most uncomfortable I have felt in a long time, and besides a few strides I hadn't made any strenuous movements. It wasn't blazingly hot, but it was so humid I am amazed the air could hold the moisture.
The gun goes off. Everyone charges ahead. I stay cool, glad to suddenly be out of a crowd of 98-degree bundles of muscle, respiration and perspiration.
Not a half mile in I come up on Andrew Sutherland's shoulder.
"What are you aiming for?"
"1:11, but starting out at 5:30."
"Well, we're not going to hit 5:30 this far back."
The Canadian made a point. I sped up a little, but carefully. I wanted to stay fresh...
Hallie is on the right side of the street, the same place as she was last year. I give her a thumbs up and a smile. I'm biding my time...
Eric Shafer limps off the course! What's going on? Jim runs over to him, grabs something and gets going. I pass him, Rich Crowley and a few other Hounds who I expect to be running in the 1:15-1:18 range.
One mile- 5:26 high. A little fast, but alright. The rest of the lead pack is far ahead, and a lot of the people I figured would be farther back are going out hard. I'm running close to even splits for a 1:11, I know they can't all be...

I catch up with Greg before the turns onto Butler Street and Penn Avenue. There's Matt Hannigan! 5:38? uh oh, I hadn't felt myself slip so much, but I guess I need to start pushing. About two and a half minutes later, I started to feel some numbness in the back of my neck. What???? Are you serious? Steve Strelick yells for me "COME ON CHARLIE, YOU CAN DO THIS!"

He's right. I can. We ran harder than that for our tempos last year on a hilly-as-hell course in Schenley Park. 5:20s after a 5:05 first mile uphill. I miss training with him, his self-deprecating humor matched mine pretty well. I remember that we ran those times in below-freezing temperatures. Big difference. Brian Quinn is on a bike, cheering. I start to look around and see black splotches in the bottom halves of my eyes. It reminded me of the Rock and Run 5k in 2004, which I decided to run eight hours before and nearly passed out at the end. I wasn't even 5k into this race. About three minutes later, I couldn't run any faster.

That was it.

I thought about what it would take to catch back up to my pace. I thought about what it would take to do the bare minimum to hit my goal. They were all too far for me. I cursed myself for not being able to push through it. Despite all my training, I wasn't prepared to do everything. I couldn't force it. At the very basic, I couldn't do it. I was incapable. My head had suddenly gotten very warm, too much to handle. I was getting dizzy, my scalp was itching from the inside out.

Bradon G passed me, told me to come on. No. I won't.

I saw Hallie, gave her a thumbs down. I dropped to a jog. I think I figured I might as well run the course, as long as I was there. Also, I wanted to make sure the results reflected the number of participants, so I was somewhat committed. Rachel Yacono was there on Penn Avenue, but I gave her a thumbs down, too. Paul McCaffery ran by. So did Mad Dog Jones. The Wildfires, such great supporters, were there right before the 16th Street Bridge. I talked to a blind veteran running the race with an attendant. As I hit the North Side, Ryan stopped for a few seconds so I caught up with him. Pat Fisher passed me some time around then. Then Kristin Price. Timmy Wu sometime around then. I caught up to Andrew Sutherland, and he started struggling at this point.
I saw Matt Meurer in West Park and I made some faces at him. He had guessed I would run 1:29:30 as a joke, but it was coming true. Doen't'at beat all?
Phoebe Ko got me coming back around the park. I saw Jeff Hains, not-so-fresh off of his race in Boston two weeks before, chasing me down... well, not really, but it was happening. There goes Dave Masse...
Javed Gangjee, the most mobile and enthusiastic road race cheerer, got me coming off of Allegheny Commons.
Not what I wanted to hear, but I can't fault him for trying. When you are running well, you want the entire world out there to see it. When your presence on the roads makes it smell like an open sewer in Bogota, then you want the roads likewise deserted from people trying to escape the stench. Despite the water falling from the sky, people were out there. It wasn't rain, it was more like the sky was just bleeding. Rain relieves the ambient humidity and cools you off. This wasn't rain...

I crossed the bridges to get to the North Shore and saw a digital display outside of a bank- 72 degrees. It was a little past 8:10 a.m. At this point I was regretting my choice to keep running. It was no longer even fun. I wanted to go home. As I passed the Hyde Park Steakhouse, on one of the stretches I thought would be fun and fast, I looked over and saw Michelle Corkum. Her pace was blowing me away. I tried to keep up to help keep her company, but I gave up on that and started cheering instead. Someone else passed me then. I can't remember who. As I climbed the West End bridge ramp, Jess Gangjee passed me., so did Carl Hubel. I cheered my lungs out for her as we crossed the bridge and she faded from my sight. A crowd lined Carson Street at the end of the bridge, and I thanked the West End for coming out. Brooke Smith saw me and yelled, though for a while I thought it was Beckie Hollerman. Some dude who was running without a shirt wished me luck and I said "Oh, I'm not racing, I'm just enjoying a run."

A total lie. I wasn't enjoying this. I was regretting it and hating myself with the same thoughts. The dumbest thing I did was keep going. Whoever said there was any kind of honor in finishing everything you start was a moron. Larry Quinn, his wife Liz and their dog, Little Donnie Iris, were at Station Square. Gillian Sowray was handing out water near the incline and for the second straight year, she saw the look of dejection on my face during this race. I saw Breen Masciotra a few blocks later, then Ed Koontz passed me. The last two miles were nothing but misery and more misery. I was tired, depressed, devastated and furious at the same time. I saw Javed once more as I was crossing the Smithfield Street Bridge. He had skillfully toned down his cheering, just letting me know I was close to the end.

Scores of cheerleaders from Plum lined the street in front of Kauffman's and I wanted to punch every one of them. Everyone who cheered for me was a total effing moron. They clearly didn't know good running if it kicked them in their moronic faces. I was fed up by the last turn, and then I saw Coach Wright and we made eye contact. He reached for me when I crossed the line and asked me if I was okay. All I could ask was if Ryan had won- he had! I let out a whoop and he told me to be serious- was I okay? Be honest... I tried to explain that 'it' wasn't happening and I just gave up on the race... He handed me off to a volunteer, saying "he doesn't usually finish back here, keep an eye on him." I led the volunteer around as I wandered the finish area. I saw Michelle and Heath. Jack Hartnell told me I'd be glad I did this someday. Someone gave me a medal. I tried to throw it into the Allegheny River in an act of defiance, but it hit a fence three feet ahead of me and fell to the ground. Dr. Eric Anish turned around and the volunteer told him I needed to go to "the tent." He led me in and a nice group of pediatric nurses took over. I begged them not to use a rectal thermometer and they had me lie down on a cot, packed my head and neck with ice and I watched and laughed as people tripped over the median in the road.

Coach Wright talking to me before I even cross the line. I'm going for my half marathon PR here! (sadly, that's true)
My splits:
78th place
64th man

My long run workout one Sunday afternoon in March, during when I averaged 6:00 pace for almost 15 miles, would have taken me through the half marathon point in 1:18:39, good for 21st place, and the day I ran that I stopped for traffic on the road!

There was no honor or character building in finishing the race as I did. My name is etched in results that I want to forget. I do feel smart that I didn't keep racing. I was so hyped for this race that if I had tried to race, balls out, with a hope for achieving my goal when the likelihood was so slim that I would achieve it, I would have been devastated. I would have probably hurt myself or exhausted myself in weather that was too much for me. What the day amounted to was a short tempo run and a long cooldown. Granted, it ended up being slower than a distance run on a normal day.

The part that hurts the most is that people, either not knowing any better or trying to be helpful, tell me good job. They're trying to help and be supportive, but it is depressing to hear that repeatedly when I know it was the slowest pace I have ever run for a race. My marathon, when I ran like a clown and started in the back, ended up 20 seconds per mile faster.

There ya' go...

Thank you to Javed Gangjee for documenting my agony in these photos and a sincere thanks to him and everyone else who was out on the course or sent their tidings. I do appreciate them.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things are going to take a dark turn...

...when I get back to Virginia and write up my Pittsburgh Half Marathon "race" report...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Time to go

It's time. The weather might be a little warm, but that will just keep me from feeling too spry at the start. If I going to feel good, I'll need it 40 minutes in.

When I see this church ahead of me, I'd better be feeling like I'm running too slowly. My last 5:17, 5:13, 5:05. I don't want to be anywhere near those times. 5:30. 5:25 at the fastest.

I took Thursday off, I was toast. I ran an easy 9.5 Friday afternoon, to get adjusted to running in warmer weather. An easy three on the Mt. Lebanon track and cross country course followed by some drills within an earshot of Coach Wentzel instructing some high school hurdling girls on their form. That man's voice always makes me chuckle...

I'm excited by some early results at the Atlantic 10 track championships. Matt Llano won the 10k in 29:43, Tim Quinn earned his first medal in the 10k with a third place in 30:23 (who PRs at a conference meet?) and Chris York earned a point with a 31:26. Julie Rechel finished second in the women's 10k in 36:00 after a long battle with balance issues and Erin Lunny snuck under 37 to finish fifth. Garrett Graham hit 9:35 in the steeple, which I didn't realize he even did, and he'll be rarin' to go for the 1500 tomorrow. It's a good day to be a Spider, I'm ready to make tomorrow one, too.