Saturday, November 29, 2008

One down, three to go

Another non-running post, but it's playoff football time, so as long as the Griz keep winning, you're gonna keep hearing about them. Today they played a first round playoff game against the Texas St. Bobcats (marking the Grizzlies 2nd straight game against a Bobcat team after whupping Montana St. last week). The Griz got off to a slow start and fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter. But, they came storming back behind the running of Chase Reynolds and ended up winning big, 31-13. Reynolds carried the ball a whopping 38 times for 233 yards, both career highs for him. The 38 carries also ties a Montana record. He also scored two TDs. Not a bad day. On to round two, which will be a rematch against either Cal Poly, who the Griz beat 30-28 in the first game of the season, or Weber St., who handed the Griz their only loss of the season, 45-28.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Speedwork? I don't need no stinkin speedwork!

It's been a long time since I set my 5K PR. About thirteen months, to be exact. It was at the Halloween 5K in Rapid City in Oct. of 07. I ran a 19:45 that day to break 20 minutes for the first time ever. It was a joyous occassion, but over the past year plus, I've gotten then sense that that PR was ripe for the picking. I first started to think so in April, when I ran the second half of the Kevin Whirlwind 10K in 19:05 on my way to my first sub-40 10K. The problem is, I didn't have many opportunities to improve on my 5K PR between last October and now. I ran exactly two 5Ks in that time: one just a week after the Colorado Marathon in May and the Halloween 5K last month. The first was never intended to be a PR effort coming to soon after a marathon on a hilly course. The second was where I was planning on making my move, but Mother Nature conspired against me with 45-50 mph winds. The result was that 19:45 remained as my official 5K PR. Until yesterday.

I could probably run 5Ks faster if I actually trained for 5Ks, but the fact that I'm almost always preparing for a marathon, be it basebuilding or actual training, kind of puts a damper on that. So, I just squeeze them into my running schedule and hope for the best. Looking back at my running log for the year, I haven't done a speed workout since July 1st. Since then, I've run a few races, but all of my training runs have been at a relatively slow and easy pace (8:15-9:00 miles). In order to set a 5K PR, I would have to run under 6:30 miles. Would my body know how to go that fast after having not done it for over four months?? I've heard a lot of stories about how runners make great improvements in their race times after a period of slow, high mileage running. I've been doing just that, long slow miles, since July. My previous three weeks of training were 93, 96 and 102 miles, with no mile faster than 7:20 in that stretch. I was curious to see if this was really going to work, or if I was just going to suffer (well, being a 5K, I expected to suffer either way, but I was hoping not to do it needlessly).

Mother Nature cooperated yesterday. Earlier in the week, forecasts had called for winds of up to 20 mph on Thanksgiving morning, but those winds never materialized and it was dead calm at race time. It was cold, in the low 20s, although even by the end of the race it had warmed up quickly and it would eventually reach 50 in the afternoon. In any case, I was comfortable in shorts, a long sleeve pullover, a beanie and gloves.

The Turkey Trot in Rapid City is a huge event, the biggest race of the year for the Black Hills Runners Club, in fact. Why? Because they give out pies afterwards. There are no official times or places or age groud awards or anything like that. Just a post race raffle for over 300 apple, blueberry, cherry and pumpkin pies. Word is that there were 880 people signed up for the event yesterday. A vast majority of these were walkers or joggers who may or may not have even run the entire course. That's a lot of people on a bike path, which made things interesting during the race. I made sure to line up right near the front, knowing full well that I needed to get in open space as quickly as possible. It worked well, and after some jostling I was able to fall into my goal pace (at least 6:17 miles, which would equate to a 19:30 race) and then some. I quickly located a couple of local runners who I know run a slightly faster pace than I usually do and I followed them for a majority of the race. We hit the halfway turnaround in 9:30, on pace for a 19:00 race and, while that is a huge PR in and of itself, I knew that I would ultimately be frustrated if I came that close and didn't break 19 minutes. Fortunately, there seemed to be a slight downhill on the return stretch and although I ran a good chunk of the second half on the grass because there were just too many people on the bike path, I managed to negative split the race, running the second half in 9:13, good for a final time of 18:43, a PR by 1:02.

I knew that PR was stale, but didn't really think it was that stale. It's pretty amazing what you can do with no speedwork whatsoever. Maybe it was the was my first race ever wearing Asics Speedstars and they lived up to their name.

The crappy part of the day? I didn't win a pie for the first time in three years of running this race. But don't fear, I managed to stuff myself with enough Thanksgiving food afterwards to make up for it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Century plus two

I'm just so f***ed up and I'm never gonna change...
It's never enough
No, it's never enough
No matter what I say
It's never enough
No, it's never enough...
Those are lyrics from Five Finger Death Punch's song "Never Enough". They come to mind because, for one, that song is on my ipod and I often hear it while I'm running. And, although the song itself isn't about running at all, those snippets of lyrics seem to pretty accurately describe my running addiction. How many miles is enough? I have no freakin clue, but 102 has gotta be damn near (or at least I hope so). Here's how my highest mileage week ever went down:
Sunday: I had done some calculatin and figured out that I needed to average 14.29 miles per day to finish the week with 100. With that in mind, I started the week off with 8.81 miles in the morning and 5.3 in the afternoon, for a total of 14.11 for the day.
Monday: 14.12 miles, all in one chunk.
Tuesday: 10.52 in the morning, 5.32 in the afternoon for 15.84 total.
Wednesday: 9 in the morning, 6.1 in the afternoon for 15.1 total. The morning run was by far my toughest of the week. My legs just did not want to run anything faster than about 9:15 miles. However, the afternoon run was great as I clicked off 8:30 or faster miles with the same perceived effort as in the morning.
Thursday: 8.61 in the morning, 5.43 in the afternoon for 14.04 total.
Friday: 18 miles. I had the day off of work and wasn't sure what I was going to do running-wise. It started snowing fairly hard late in the morning and I decided to just head out and see what happened. The snow eventually stopped, then turned to rain sprinkles, then the wind started to pick up. Through it all I felt good, so decided to get my long run out of the way. This ended up being my fastest paced run of the entire week.
Saturday: 11 miles. Friday's run put me at 91.22 miles for the week, so I needed less than 9 to hit 100. But, I've already run 100 miles once back in March or April. For some reason, 102 seemed more appealing than 101. So, 11 miles it was. This was my second fastest paced run of the week.
Total: 102.22 miles
So, a new weekly mileage high. The best part is, I sure as hell don't feel like I ran 102 miles last week. In fact, I feel like I could do it again no problem. But I'm not gonna. This week will be a cutback week. Last week, I had double-digit mileage every day. This week, it'll be one, maybe two days with double digits. The logic is two-fold. First, I guess my legs deserve a break after 4 straight weeks of 80+ miles and three straight weeks of 90+ miles. Second, I really, really, really want to beat my stale 5K PR at the Turkey Trot 5K in Rapid City on Thursday and hopefully taking it easy this week will help.
Okay, now for a football update. As I mentioned in my last post, the Montana Grizzlies will be making their 16th straight trip to the FCS playoffs beginning this coming Saturday. Yesterday, they learned that they will enter the playoffs as the number 4 seed and will face another Bobcat team, this time Texas St., in the first round. The number 4 seeding is critical because it assures the Griz homefield for the first two rounds and, if #1 seed James Madison gets upset, then in the semifinals also. The crappy thing is, the rest of the 16 team field is matched up regionally to reduce travel costs as much as possible. So, the Grizzlies' second round opponent will be either Weber St., who handed the Griz their only loss of the season, or Cal Poly, who the Griz narrowly beat on the road in their first game of the season. But, at least the game will be in Missoula either way, which gives the Griz a huge advantage. GO GRIZ!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The 108th Brawl of the Wild

Okay, so this is going to be another non-running related post, but bear with me. Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year back in my home state of Montana. It was the 108th meeting of the mighty Montana Grizzlies (my alma mater) and the pathetic Montana State Bobcats in what has recently been dubbed by someone as the "Brawl of the Wild". Whatever you call it, it's a series that has been dominated by the Griz. Going into this game, the Griz led the series 67-35-5. Those 67 wins included a streak of 16 straight that included my 4 years at UM. The Bobcats did eventually break that streak and actually won 3 of 4 from 2002-2005, but the Griz had won the last two, so maybe another streak is in the works.

The Griz are currently riding a wave of 11 straight Big Sky Conference titles and 16 straight playoff appearances. The Bobcats glory days are behind them. They won a national title back in 84, but have done little since then (besides lose to the Griz a whole bunch). So far this season, the Griz had compiled a 10-1 record, losing only to Weber St., who they will end up sharing the Big Sky championship with this year. The Cats came in 7-4, but had won 4 straight games. In any case, playing in Missoula, the Griz were fairly heavily favored.

The biggest shocker of the game came before the ball was even kicked off. You see, the Griz had warmed up in their normal uniforms, which are maroon and silver. But, after going back into the locker room for the final pregame meetings, the Griz emerged from the tunnel just prior to kickoff wearing their throwback copper and gold uniforms, which were last worn in 1995. The crowd went NUTS. Apparently, this plan had been brewing since August, but the athletic director and head coach managed to keep it a secret until Saturday. Pretty impressive. Check out the pictures below to get an idea of the awesomeness of these ugly uniforms:

This first picture is the Grizzlies' current uniforms, featuring the "new" maroon and silver colors:

These are the old school unis:

Yeah, they are ugly, but they are ugly in the awesomest of ways. The story is that the Griz originally wore maroon, but that Jack Swarthout, who coached UM in the 60s and 70s, changed the colors to copper and gold after going to Texas to learn the wishbone offense (the "copper" is identical to the University of Texas' burnt orange). After the 1995 season, in which the Griz won their first national championship, the copper and gold were retired and replaced with the current maroon and silver. Seeing these old copper and gold colors brought back some good memories of that first championship year.

Not only did the crowd love it, but it seemed to give the players a boost too. The game was fairly close for the first half, but the Griz busted it open in the second half and ended up winning easily, 35-3. Today they will find out who and where they play in the first round of the playoffs. They have a decent shot of getting a top 4 seed, which would guarantee them home games in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The University is auctioning off the throwback unis today (and will make a buttload of money out of the deal, I'm sure) so we won't be seeing the copper and gold again in the near future, but it was fun to see em on the field for a fews hours yesterday.


Friday, November 21, 2008

A trip down memory lane (part 2)

As I mentioned once before, a month ago I made a pilgrimage back to Missoula with some college buddies to get drunk, act stupid and watch a Grizzly football game. Mission accomplished. Today, my buddy Kloker sent me some pictures from the trip. So, here's a brief photo tour of Griz Trip 08:
This first one is just minutes after we arrived in Missoula. We literally headed straight for Sean Kelly's, one of our old hangouts. From left to right, that's me, Bill, some girl I don't know but I think we woke her sister up at 3 AM to give us a ride home, and Stich. Stich is so photogenic, isn't he?

This second one is at the pregame tailgate on Saturday. The short guy in the orange hat is Kloker. That's our friend Max's mom on the left. Max didn't make the trip out this time, but his mom drank with us before the game.

This one is Bill, myself and Stich at the football game. Yes, we had been drinking.

And, last but not least, me feeling the effects of the peppermint schnapps after the game at Hooters. Don't let that stupid grin on my face fool ya; I felt like crap with a capital C.

Ah, memories....

The plan is to do this thing every other year, so again in 2010. One thing I learned while I was there is that I'm actually getting old (the horror!!!)....two years oughta give us all enough time to recover properly. One thing I know for sure: no peppermint schnapps next trip.

Back to running; I've got a big week brewing. I'll tell ya all about it when it's over though, because I don't want to jinx it. The suspense is killing ya, isn't it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Miles, miles, miles

I've reached a sick point where I feel like I'm a slacker if I don't record at least double digits on any given day. I remember the day, not so long ago, when 10 miles seemed like a long damn ways. Now, I find myself going through mental torment if I don't get in at least 10 miles. I am one sick bastard....

Sunday - 10.49 miles

Monday - 8.48 miles in the morning and another 5.25 in the afternoon.

Tuesday - 15.36 miles. An awesome run. I took off for a 2 hour run and quickly settled into a fairly effortless 7:45ish pace. I was on cruise control pretty much the entire way.

Wednesday - 8.02 miles in the morning, 5.22 in the afternoon. Apparently, I used up all my mojo during Tuesday's run, because I felt the exact opposite during the morning run. Just getting the 8 miles done was a struggle in itself. Of course, that didn't stop me from tacking on the extra afternoon run. I told you I was sick.

Thursday - 9.01 miles. That's right, just single digits for the day. This had more to do with gorging myself at the Ruby Tuesday salad bar at lunch than anything else. I very seriously considered going for a late afternoon run, but knew by the feeling in my gut that I would regret it if I did.

Friday - 8.49 in the morning, 5.6 in the afternoon. The afternoon run was my first indoor run in a very long time. The wind was blowing 25-30 and it was snowing, so I wimped out and ran inside on Black Hills State University's indoor track.

Saturday - 17.13 miles. Didn't feel great, didn't feel horrible. Not my fastest long run, not my slowest. It just was.

Total - 93.03 miles

So, that's two straight weeks over 90 miles. I've only hit 100 miles in a week once. Doing the math, I have to average 14.29 miles per day to get 100. Yesterday I ran 14.11 (in two runs), this morning I did 14.12 so, I'm right at that magic number. So, yeah, I'm thinking of going for the century this week and then cutting back pretty significantly next week to rest up for the annual Turkey Trot 5K in Rapid City. Sick, sick, sick....

Monday, November 10, 2008

High altitude training

I spent most of the past week a little out of my comfort zone (about 3000 feet out of it, to be exact) in Colorado Springs. I had to go there for work (supervisory training) and had hoped to get in some good runs on the Springs extensive trail network. The training schedule, however, dictated otherwise. Since I would spend most of the day in class or eating (seriously, three meals a day at the all you can eat buffet at the resort they put us up in), I didn't get as much daylight to explore as I would have liked. Consequently, I spent most of my runs wandering around the streets of CO Springs in the dark trying not to get lost.

While I was off in the Springs trying desperately to burn as many calories as I was taking in, the Black Hills got hammered with a blizzard. We're talking over 40 inches of snow in some places and wind gusts to 78 mph in Rapid City. Nasty shit. So, this would mark the third time in the last couple of years that I've gone out of state for training only to have to return in bad weather conditions. The other two times, I made the trip back just fine, other than some white knuckle driving. This time, not so much. About 40 miles from home on Friday night, my co-worker and I hit a patch of black ice on the interstate, skidded across the left lane, bounced off the left guard rail, skidded back across both lanes and side-swiped the right guard rail, where we finally stopped. Thankfully, neither of us were hurt at all. The government Trailblazer, however, is a little worse for the wear. From now on, I'm either flying to training or only going in the summer.

So, back to running. Despite the long days at class, I managed to hammer out some good miles while I was in CO Springs:

Sunday - 8.9 miles in the morning, another 4.61 in the afternoon. Finally got around to raking leaves (I was waiting for them all to fall first....I swear....I wasn't just being lazy).

Monday - 7.27 miles followed by the 7 hour drive to CO Springs and 3 hours of training.

Tuesday - 13.74 miles in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. First runs at 6100 feet. I didn't feel like I was gasping for air, but my pace was noticeably slower, especially on the uphills (which there were a lot of). After the afternoon run, I intently watched the election results as they started coming in. GOBama!!!

Wednesday - 10.24 miles.

Thursday - 10.16 miles in the morning, 7.34 miles in the afternoon. Both times I ran in the afternoon, it felt much, much easier. Is there more oxygen when the sun is up or something??

Friday - 8.6 miles followed by the aforementioned adventure on the way home. The good thing about crashing where we did is that we were near enough to home that someone could come retrieve us.

Saturday - 20.1 miles. The longest run I've done since.....uh.....the Missoula Marathon back in July, I guess. I was planning on going for at least 15, but felt pretty good so decided to go for 20 instead. By mile 17, I was pretty sure I shouldn't have done that, but it was too late by then.

Total - 95.95 miles. Yes, I would have run another 0.05 on Saturday if I would have known. In any case, it's my highest weekly mileage since April.

This week, back to the grindstone at work (except for the Veterans Day holiday tomorrow). Hopefully, miles will be similar to last week, but we'll see if Mother Nature has any more tricks up her sleeve....