Monthly Archives: September 2013

Study: Changing Running Stride Does More Harm Than Good

This article that I’ve now seen posted by three running friends seems to deserve a
response. One was a neutral “hey check this out” post, one was using it as an
excuse to continue running with terrible form and one bashed it in order to
promote Chi running.

See the full article here:

http://running.competitor.com/2013/09/training/study-changing-running-stride-does-more-harm-than-good_41136

From the article:

Sixteen runners were recruited to participate in the study. They were asked to run at 16 kph (6:02 per mile) and their rate of oxygen consumption was measured to assess their running economy. Their stride rates and vertical displacements (or bouncing) were also measured. The treadmill used for the experiment was tricked out with a visual and auditory feedback system for cadence and vertical displacement.

The researchers gave each runner a target cadence and vertical displacement to aim for in a second go at running at 16 kph with a breathing mask on. The targets were intended to slightly increase each runner’s stride rate and slightly reduce his vertical displacement from current levels. The runners were able to hit these targets with relative ease with the aid of the visual and auditory feedback provided.

“Alterations led to an increase in metabolic cost in most cases, measured as VO2 uptake per minute and kg body mass,” the researchers confessed.

Back to my commentary:

This guy has funny running form
This guy has funny running form

First, the research study was 16 runners and with such a small sample size I’m not sure what conclusions can be made. Next it was a short term study not a longitudinal study over several weeks allowing runners to adjust to a new running form and have the accompanying muscle development that would go with using a different stride. So basically I think the study is junk.

In response to the “Running form doesn’t matter” or “You will naturally arrive at your most efficient running form over time by logging miles and listening to your body.”—I’d say yes, BUT,…. While I agree there is not a single perfect stride or perfect exact movement that can be applied to all runners, there are certain ranges of movement that are like guard rails to keep you on track. For example the whole heel strike vs. forefoot strike debate needs to be moderated with how far in front of your body is the strike happening and the loading rate on the leg. A severe heel striker hitting way out in front of their center of gravity and pounding the pavement with a slap of the foot is not running efficiently. A heel striker hitting just slightly in front of their center of gravity and maintaining a cadence above 170 might not be that bad! Should you force the runner to strike with their forefoot to satisfy that specific element of Chi running, POSE method or whatever other exact specification you’re relying on? No. Should you get the heel pounder, floppy foot runner to adjust some? Yes.

In response to the “One session of Chi Running and you’ll feel it is easier to run and be more relaxed!” — Keep in mind; these changes take practice, patience and many, many miles to accomplish. A single session of adjusting bounce and how hard you strike the treadmill will NOT arrive at a more efficient stride.

My personal anecdote on running form efficiency comes from a study I participated in at the University of Florida Running Medicine Clinic. I ran with shoes on the treadmill at 7:20 pace for a while and they measured my caloric needs by having me wear a mask that measured my breath as I exhaled. Then we repeated the same thing a week later but I ran barefoot. Most people in the study burned more calories and more fat running barefoot. Keep in mind all runners in the study were screened to be forefoot strikers so the transition to barefoot should be fairly easy. The obvious connection in my mind was that even though they were forefoot strikers, doing a different or new thing requires different muscle recruitment, makes you a little nervous and uncomfortable and therefore a slightly higher heart rate and caloric expenditure would be expected. But wait! My results were different. My heart rate was lower running barefoot and my caloric expenditure was LOWER running barefoot. Why? I run in near-minimalist shoes frequently. (Kinvara, Pure Flow, NB 1400, Type A5 racing flats) My body is used to less support and taking the weight off my feet felt fine. I was relaxed, rolling along and comfortable. So maybe over time, the other runners would also become more efficient at barefoot running with practice? I don’t know but it seems logical to me! We are all a research study of ONE.

Two More Shoe Reviews: Trail Workhorse and Road Workhorse

Here are two more quick reviews of shoes in my arsenal. Who is running the Cross Country race at The Rock trails tomorrow?

Brooks Pure Flow

The Brooks Pure Project is one of the best examples of the new “almost minimalist” style being talked about in every running publication. The Flow is neutral, has a 4 mm drop and split outsole feature to let your big toe flex independently. The Pure Flow has plenty of cushioning for a road shoe and has a nice stable feel to it. It’s a good every-day mileage type of workhorse. I’ve had a pair of the Flow I and the Flow II. I actually liked the upper on the first version better but the change to the upper wasn’t enough to scare me off. Much has been said about the split toe design but I can barely tell the difference running in it. Cushioned, neutral, high mileage shoe!

Innov8 Terrafly Trail

Inov8 trail

I bought these because I had a 50K trail race coming up and none of my trail shoes had what I wanted for a 31 mile run. The Terrafly is fairly light at 9.1 oz, has enough cushioning that running on pavement is comfortable and the outsole is stiff enough to offer protection from rocks and roots. I only did a few training runs in them before the Sweet H2O 50K in Georgia but I did get two runs of over 20 miles in them and they worked great. I couldn’t have been happier with them at the race. We were on mountains, through creeks and over very tough terrain and I had no foot soreness or blisters after the race. My hamstrings and quads…..NEVER have they hurt so bad! I still use these for trail runs at San Felasco regularly and I’d bet on these to last at least 500 miles for me.

Sweet H2O

Jim Burgasser, Me and Steve Wilcox at the Sweet H2O 50K in Lithia Georgia.

The Top 8 Races in Gainesville

LGAA start

Everyone loves a countdown or top rating list. So to provide that for you as we head into a new racing season here is a list of the best races in town! A few weeks ago, I did a survey of 115 local runners and asked a number of questions about local races. What surface do you like to run on? What type of awards do you like? Do you want a tech fabric shirt or cotton? Or a no-shirt option for $5 less? We also asked runners to rate 19 local races on a scale of 1-5 stars. The runners were asked to rate the race only if they had run it in the last two years. So here’s the top 8 ranked by a blended %. That just means 5 stars =100%, 4 stars = 80% and so on. Therefore, if everyone who ran the race, gave it 5 stars, the score would be 100%.

Race Score
Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon (Hawthorne Trail) 91.2%
Flatwoods 5K (Austin Carey Memorial Forest) 88.6%
Five Points of Life Half Marathon 88.0%
Newnan’s Lake 15K (Earl Powers Park) 87.6%
Trail of Payne 10K (Payne’s Prairie trail run) 87.6%
Race the Tortoise 5K (O’Leno State Park) 86.8%
LGAA 5K (Ironwood Golf Course) 85.6%
Turkey Trot 10K (Tacachale) 85.1%

So what makes a highly rated race better? Looking at other survey factors, it is easy to see why the Tom Walker Half Marathon scores so well.

Most popular distance? Half Marathon.

Most popular surface to race on? Paved bike path.

Price? It is in line with what people expect to pay for a Half Marathon.

Is it a scenic course? Yes. (According to the survey, a scenic course is one of the top 5 most important factors when chosing a race!)

So on many of the most important factors that runners value, the Tom Walker Half Marathon hits the mark. No wonder it is #1!

Also worth noting, there are many races in town that scored really well (over 70%) that I would certainly recommend. This list is just the ones that scored over 85%. So find a race, train hard and run fast! See you at the races.

Fastest 8 Races – A Non-Scientific Completely Biased List.

I gave you a nice, scientific, survey driven Top 8 list for local races in my last post. So now for the completely biased, non-scientific Top 8 PR races! Why 8? Because I feel like that’s a good number! No logic or science involved! If you want to run your fastest race at a given distance, check out one of these options. Some are local, some are not but they are all FAST.

I included a little information about each event and what my results were at each one to give you an idea of why I think the races are a good opportunity for you to run your best race there too. What races should I have on the list? Tell us! Add your favorite fast races in the comments. I’d love to hear about other fast events.

Fastest 5Ks-

  1. Race the Tortoise- O’Leno State Park, High Springs, FL.

2. Run for the Pies- Jacksonville Landing

  • June 14th 2014
  • http://www.1stplacesports.com/calendar.html#june2014
  • Flat, lots of competition. It will be warm but the flat course, speedy runners to race with and beer at the end of the race motivating you to bring it in fast compensate.
  • Ran 16:38 Masters PR there in 2012
  • Ran in Saucony Type A5 this year. Ran in Brooks T7 last year.

Fastest 10Ks

  1. Charles Harris Run for Lukemia- Tucker GA

2.  Crescent City Classic 10K, New Orleans, LA

Fastest 15K

  1. Newnan’s Lake 15K- Gainesville, FL

Mohawk Hudson pic

[View of the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. Fast and scenic.]

Fastest Marathons

  1. Chicago Marathon
  • October 13th 2013
  • http://www.chicagomarathon.com/
  • Flat, well organized, great weather and a fantastic opportunity to run with over 30,000 other marathoners
  • Masters PR of 2:42:22 in 2013
  • Ran in Saucony Kinvara 3

2.  Mohawk Hudson River Marathon

  • October 13th 2013
  • http://www.mohawkhudsonmarathon.com/home.html
  • Point to point, net downhill course. The course follows the river and is very scenic. Smaller race with limited entries. Known as a great one to get a Boston Qualifier.
  • Ran 2:44:02 in 2011
  • Saucony Kinvara 1 or 2 – Can’t remember!

Fastest Half Marathon

  1. Naples Daily News Half Marathon
  • January 19th, 2014
  • http://www.napleshalfmarathon.net/
  • Flat, fast. Most of the “Florida’s Fastest” times for Half Marathon are run at this race. Good competition and typically good weather.
  • Running it this year to get a PR!

The BEST Running Shoes

What shoes are the best to run in? Has anyone ever asked you that? My answer is usually, “Lloyd Clarke shoes.”

Lloyd Clarke Sports has their own BRAND of shoes now? No, but as my very small bit of research shows, there is a reason Lloyd Clarke Sports carries so many brands and styles of shoes. I took a quick survey of the runners at our Sunday Run Day training run yesterday. I asked them what shoes they were wearing for the run, why they like them and how many pairs of running shoes they wear during the week.

Altra pic saucony pic

Runners at the Sunday Run Day Group run=             14  [6 women and 8 men]

Most popular Brands:

Saucony                              5

Brooks                                3

Altra                                    1

Asics                                    1

Inov8                                   1

Mizuno                                1

Nike                                     1

Topos                                  1

topos

Most popular style:

Saucony Kinvara               3

Brooks Ghost                     2

Most common reasons they like their shoes

Light                     4

Good Fit               2

Cushioning          2

Color                    2 (notably the 2 who said color was an important factor were both men)

Total pairs of running shoes owned by the group:                39

Average pairs per person:                                                           2.78

Most pairs used by one runner:                                                 5

So what does this tell you as a runner hunting for the best running shoe for your foot? We had 14 runners, 8 different brands and 10 different styles. I think that means your best bet for finding your perfect shoe is a place where they offer a large variety of brands and styles. Try them on. Get professional help in fitting them. Run on a treadmill for a while in them.

shoe-wall

Closing notes

I am one of two people with 5 pairs of shoes in my weekly rotation. Partly because I want different shoes for different surfaces or types of training and partly because my shoes are always wet and it is hard to have a dry pair unless I cycle through a few.

My shoes:

Saucony Kinvara               Used for daily mileage, tempo runs or a Marathon race

Inov8 Terrafly                    Trail shoe for long runs in San Felasco

NewBalance 1400            Daily mileage or tempo runs. Very light shoe.

Saucony A5                        Racing flat used for track work or racing

Newton Momentum        Trail shoe for shorter trail runs

Other shoes I’ve owned recently but that are not in my current rotation:

Brooks Pure Flow

Brooks T7 Racer

Saucony Viratta

All stats in case you’re a real geek!

Gender Brand Style Reason

# of pairs

F Altra Torin Comfort, zero drop

3

M Asics 1160 color

1

F Brooks Ghost heel support, wide toe box

5

F Brooks Ghost wide toe box

2

F Brooks Pure Flow light, comfort

4

M Inov8 x233 color

1

M Mizuno Wave Rider good fit, cushioning

1

F Nike Structure supportive & flexible

1

F Saucony Kinvara light

2

M Saucony Kinvara light

4

M Saucony Triumph Cushion

4

M Saucony Kinvara light, neutral

5

M Saucony Ride good fit

3

M Topos RR Recommended by LC staff

3

Taking the Mystery out of Running Calculators

Finding the right pace for training runs, track work and tempo runs sometimes seems to be a mystery only known to expert runners and high dollar coaches. Or if you could find the formula, it was in the back of a book by Dr. Jack Daniels and while it all made sense (sort of) you still had to read mice type charts and do some math. I’ll be your trail guide to help simplify and sort of the training pace calculator craziness, twists and turns.

Does it all really matter?

That’s a fair question. It could all be gobbly gook made up by people with PhDs trying to sound smart and make a buck! Just go out and run, run, run, and you’ll eventually get faster- right? Without engaging in PhD gobbly gook, there is a scientific basis for running at certain speeds or effort levels for specified distances or amounts of time to get maximal results from your training. There is more than one way to zero in on the right pace /effort. Heart rate monitor training is great for beginning runners and those with a fetish for statistics. Running by feel works for experienced runners and those who are tuned in to their bodies. Pace calculators are essential for track workouts, race strategy and goal setting. The best system is some combination of these methods that fits your training plan and personality.

Reason #1 to use a running calculator- Measure race performance

Was that 5K when you won your age group your best performance? Or was it that 10K the month before? Or your awesome marathon? Use one of these calculators to compare your performances. According to the McMillan calculator and the USA Track and Field (USATF) Age Graded calculator, my best races have been my 10Ks. My Half Marathon time should be almost a minute faster but my 5K and 15K times are fairly comparable. I can also plug in my times from college and get an age graded score. My college PRs score about 4% higher than my current Masters PRs. So by that measure, I’m getting close to being as good an athlete as I was in college. I’m not running anywhere near the same times but on the age graded scale I can still race my former self! The other major benefit is that it moderates your expectations for a new distance or a race you have not run before. You can plug in your current 5K time and get an idea of a reasonable Half Marathon goal. You should moderate the calculator prediction with what you know about yourself, your training and the race conditions you’ll face (hills, heat etc.) but you won’t go out way too fast for the Half Marathon if you stick with the guidance of the calculator.

[Click on the images below for a larger view]

McMillan page1

USATF page

Reason #2 to use a running calculator- Run the most beneficial training paces

Most runners log regular training runs too fast and do their tempo runs too slow. The track interval paces are all over the map with some going way too fast and some afraid to push the pace. The McMillan calculator and Runworks calculator will give you training paces for various interval distances and types of runs. For me, those paces match up really well with what my coach recommends and with my goal times for various distances.

The way I approach interval work is usually race pace. I’ll run 800s at 5K goal pace for example. Mile repeats would be at 10K goal pace. This is more of a mental exercise but also gets me targeted physically on the right effort level for a race performance. The training principle of specificity! The calculators help me target those paces and get the specific training I need to reach my goals.

McMillan page2

Final Thoughts

Pace calculator tools are useful for planning your training, setting race goals and setting correct effort levels during all types of runs. The four below are some common and well respected ones that I’ve used. They don’t all use the same methodology so the results will be slightly different depending on which one you use. Think of them as guard rails to keep you on track, not exact targets.

Runworks Calculator: http://www.runworks.com/calculator.html

McMillan Running Calculator: http://www.test.mcmillanrunning.com/

USATF Age Graded Calculator: http://www.usatf.org/statistics/calculators/agegrading/

Score My Run App for iPhone: http://www.scoremyrun.com/

Run for the Pies, Jacksonville, June 16th, 2012

RUN FOR THE PIES

(skip to the summary at the bottom for the important stuff)

The Run for the Pies is a long standing tradition in Jacksonville and despite the warm temperatures usually encountered on a June evening, this is one of the fastest 5K events in the state. Offering free pie to fast runners and free running shoes to really fast runners helps generate a good pack of speedsters up front. The party atmosphere at The Landing draws in the rest of the crowd.

Gainesville runners were well represented. Look down the results in both the “Elite” race and the “Open” race and you’ll see many of our local runners went home with pie! This was my second trip to this race. Last year I ran my best 5K of the year there and I wanted to improve on that performance.

Entering in the Elite race meant that I said I can run sub 17:00 for the 5K. There was no checking up on credentials like a Boston Qualifying standard but running way over the time would mean an embarrassing race. The elite race loops around a few blocks downtown 4 times so the runners getting ready for the Open 5K, all 1,500 of them, can watch and cheer for the racers. Being DAL (ask a runner if you don’t know what that means) in front of a big crowd would not be fun. The Elite women get a head start of 2:30 followed by the men.

The starting cannon gets the race moving and the fast guys wanting free shoes took off at a hard pace. There was a U turn 200 meters into the race and even with a field of 30 runners; you don’t want to be in a thick pack running a U turn. I settled in at the back deciding to avoid the danger. Even at the back the pace was fast. Running in next to last place was not really my plan but there I was, holding onto the back of the group. Just before the 1 milemark several of the lead runners went straight where they should have turned left. I could see the confusion as they swept a big turn to get back into the race. (side note: Run the course before the race you bone heads!)

Mile 1 brought us right by the start / finish area where the crowd was. 5:10 and still in 29th place- next to last. Then it happened. Everyone started to fade. I faded too but not like everyone else. I spent the rest of the race passing runners. Just before Mile 2, I passed a friend who I really wanted to beat. I went by a pack of 6 runners and tried to surge ahead enough to get a cushion.

My focus shifted to the green singlet 10 meters ahead of me. As the gap closed, I heard cheers along the course, “Shawn! Run hard!” and “Go Shawn!” With about 500 meters to go, I finally passed Shawn on a turn. I surged and accelerated off the turn. I didn’t want to be in a sprint with 100 to go. He came back and passed me anyway. I settled in 2 yards back and geared up for another surge. I passed him and thought I had settled it. Nope. On the final turn with 200 to go he pulled even. It is a good thing we pushed each other because what we didn’t see behind us was a younger runner blasting a sprint and gaining ground. I beat Shawn by :02 and the other guy by just :03. Why is it that a 5K hurts more than a half marathon? I was glad to be done!

I found Meredith De Franco in the finish area and a Jacksonville.com photographer got our picture holding our pies. Meredith also appears with Betsy Suda, (4th woman overall). With a pie in hand and a new Masters PR, I was pleased with the race.

For the Open 5K I jumped in and paced an old friend. He was hoping for a sub 20:00 but ran 20:22. Considering his training is about 25 miles a month, I think he will get it next time with just a bit more preparation. He ran hard and held on even when it hurt so despite missing the time, it was a good step towards him getting fast again.

The post-race party is the main attraction at this event. Complete with live music, a pie eating contest, beer and pizza. There was a big group of Gainesvillians both at the band area and at McCool’s Irish Pub after the race. I also got a chance to lift a beer with my new friend Shawn.

In summary….Race course, Elite Race : 4 stars. How can I give anything less to a course where I ran fast 2 years in a row. I don’t like all the turns but the crowd cheering and the competitive field more than make up for it.

Awards: 5 Stars. PIE! Or shoes if you’re speedy like Meredith, Betsy, Josh, Phil, Mike Hensley, Mike Rosato, Brian, and some other Gainesville fast folks. The Open race also had nice medals. Ask Barry Murphy or Dan Monteau if you want to see one.

Post-Race Party: 5 Stars. One of the best. Get a hotel room with some runner friends rather than driving back to Gainesville after the race.

Results: http://1stplacesports.com/pies12res.html

Pictures: http://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/category.asp?eventID=1488767&CategoryID=10519http://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/category.asp?eventID=1488876&CategoryID=57820http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10150873493452283.403112.54708827282&type=3
.

Chicago Marathon, October 7th, 2012

This is a big one. 40,000 runners BIG. I registered early and started a training plan but I didn’t get travel solidified quite so fast. In fact, I pretty much waited until the last minute. Flights were not bad and I got a hotel in town, about a 30 minute drive from the race. If you really want to have a hotel close to the finish line, be prepared to pay over $300 a night and book it early. I got a nice hotel and a rental car for ¼ the cost of a hotel near the finish line. Driving in the morning of the race was fine because I took the advice of a local and left early. The parking does fill up and it cost me $20 to park but having a car with a heater in it post-race was essential. The information desk at the expo tried to tell me I should take the train in but I’m glad I didn’t listen.

The race management in Chicago is unbelievable. As a director of several small events over the years, I am really impressed by the large events that go so well. There are clear signs and lots of helpful people to guide you to the correct corral and get you to the starting line on time. I didn’t even have to wait in a line at the porta-potty!

The huge crowd charged out from the start and I managed to keep my cool and not go out too hard. Mile two was a touch fast but then I settled into goal pace and really got in a nice groove. I wore two long sleeved shirts, a skull cap and gloves for the first half and ditched layers as I went. At the half marathon mark, I was twelve seconds faster than my goal pace and had unloaded the shirts, hat and gloves. By mile 15 I found myself cruising with a guy from Michigan as we maintained pace but started passing lots of other runners. The weather was nice and frequent yells of “Go Gators!” and “FLORIDA!” from people in the crowd who noticed my Florida singlet kept me moving.

About the last five miles, the distance had worn me down some. I never had the marathon nightmare of hitting the wall but the pace slowed slightly. I powered through the last few miles on the energy from the crowd, prayers, and will power. 2:42:21 at the line and I was toast. My only complaint about the race is that the Gatorade was too far from the finish line. That seems like an odd complaint but it felt like it took another mile to get to the Gatorade! I shuffled back to my rental car, taking a sitting stop on a bench part way there. Ibuprofen and chocolate chip cookies in the car dulled my pain. It had been a good race.

A car with a heater was AWESOME to have near the finishline.
A car with a heater was AWESOME to have near the finishline.

Race details

check out the other Lloyd Clarke Racing Team results too…Meredith’s PR time and Stephanie’s Marathon debut time. They both ran FANTASTIC!!!

Dan’s Results:

http://results.chicagomarathon.com/2012/?content=detail&fpid=search&pid=search&idp=999999107FA30900000AE691&lang=EN_CAP&event=MAR

Meredith’s Results:

http://results.chicagomarathon.com/2012/?content=detail&fpid=search&pid=search&idp=999999107FA30900000B6CE6&lang=EN_CAP&event=MAR

Stephanie’s Results:

http://results.chicagomarathon.com/2012/?content=detail&fpid=search&pid=search&idp=999999107FA30900000B6CF6&lang=EN_CAP&event=MAR

Tour de Pain Extreme, April 1st, 2012

Marathons are not enough. Now we need ULTRA Marathons. It isn’t enough to have sports. TV viewers now demand EXTREME Sports. And for the first time, the Tour de Pain isn’t adequate. First Place Sports had to take it up to the EXTREME with the Tour de Pain Extreme. Three starting lines in 24 hours; 10K, 5K and Half Marathon. 22.4 miles of racing.
I fully acknowledge that from a training perspective for a goal oriented runner, this is not an event to do. You don’t want to PR in any of the races. Either you’ll blow your shot at the last race or save too much and leave precious time on the table in the early races. That’s exactly the intrigue. How hard should you run in the first two races? If you sit back, how much time can you really make up in the half marathon?
The intrigue sucked me in and that’s how I ended up driving to Jacksonville at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning. I had a long drive to think about my plan. Even my committee of trusted advisors came to a split decision. Two said, run hard (but not too hard) the first two, maybe just :05 – :10 slower per mile than 100% effort. Then count on guts, strength and marathon training to pull through the half marathon. Then there were the conservative minds telling me to take it really easy for the first two races and blast the half marathon. One wanted to split the difference and said to go easy on the 10K, then “Who cares about a 5K? Just hammer it! And finish up with a blood and guts effort in the half marathon.” My decision was to run mostly by effort and just try to stay with the other runners. “You gotta be in it to win it!” was a slogan popular with my college coach. So I’d run as easy as I could, while still staying in the hunt. No hanging back like the conservative advisors recommended, unless the other runners dictated that.
Starting Line #1
A half mile into the 10K, the lines were pretty clear. Sammy Palmer, who beat me at the Tom Walker Half Marathon and Trail of Payne 10K, shot out to a lead. The chase pack was Orinthal Striggles, Paul McRae, a few other runners and me. Orinthal and Paul took control of the group and I slid in behind them. By the 5K point, I was the only one in the group with Paul and Orinthal. Paul worked the late hills to put a small gap on us and Orinthal sat on my shoulder. With the finish line in sight, Paul surged to a sprint and Orinthal blasted a 200 meter kick like he was in an 800M race. I cruised in to 36:15 with a smile. 4th place.

Finish of the 10K
Finish of the 10K

I crossed the line, and gave a high five to the guys in front of me, then ran straight to my truck and chugged down some chocolate milk with a hardboiled egg. Recovery food was going to be important. I jogged a mile and then ate some more. No beer after this one, although it was available. I loaded into my truck and drove to Hanna Park on the beach, checked into my camp site and went straight to the beach. Wading into the 70 degree water was a little uncomfortable but the cool healing of the ocean was needed to set the legs back to full strength and settle the mind to focus on the next race.
Starting Line #2
Heavy Rain left Jacksonville humid and warm. More storms were on the way and Doug Alred advised the runners, “If it starts to lightning a lot, we advise you to seek shelter and stop running. We will however keep the finish line open…”
There were new faces on the line for the 5K so they were not part of the series but they served the purpose that inexperienced, young runners serve at every 5K in America: They took the pace out fast. A line formed single file behind the strongest rabbit down the street in front of The Landing: Orinthal, Paul, Sam, and me. After the mile mark, Orinthal made a strong move and Sam went with him. I hung back with Paul and a fading rabbit. By the end, Orinthal was a minute ahead of me, the rabbit blew by me in the last 100M and Paul again finished strong, looking comfortable just :06 in front of me. 17:44, 5th place (4th of the runners doing the series)

5K Finish
5K Finish

Gatorade, bananas, a hardboiled egg and a beer seemed like good recovery food. I scarfed it down, not really eating or drinking, just consuming. A short cool down to holler at some fellow Gainesvillian runners and I was ready to get back to my cozy tent at Hanna Park. Steak sandwich, more eggs, apples, a pear and lots of water for dinner.
Starting Line #3
Everyone in the front pack had reviewed the standings going into the last race. We all knew where we were and what it would take to catch or be caught. I knew I had a guy named Gerry :55 behind me but I wasn’t worried about him. Paul had :18 on me and Orinthal had 1:06 on me. I thought I could catch Paul, although he looked strong.
1. Sammy Palmer 52:15
2. Orinthal Striggles 52:53
3. Paul McRae 53:41
4. Dan Clark 53:59
5. Gerry Glynn 54:53
Orinthal and Paul took control of the pace and pulled away to a 10 and then 20m lead. In the pack Sam and I discussed the fact that Paul and Orinthal were reactive in their racing so we didn’t want to catch them and send the pace even faster. Sit back and wait. We discussed the standings as we ran and a voice piped in from behind us. Gerry asked when I entered the Master’s Division. I said, “January! It’s good to race with the Masters and not worry about the young guys like Sam!”
“Ha! Good for YOU.” Gerry joked. Then he added, “I’ll turn 50 soon, so I’ll be in a new age group too.”
By Mile 4, Paul had dropped back to our pack and Orinthal chugged on. “Do ya think he’s coming back to us the second half?” asked Sam.
“Sam,” I said, “I’ve seen what you can do the second half of a half marathon. You can get him.” Back in November, Sam torched the second half of the Tom Walker Half Marathon in Gainesville to beat me by a large margin. My bet was still on Sammy blasting off and catching him.
Gerry surprised us by being the one to push the pace. He surged a little and was up by 10m and then quickly by 15. Exiting the Evergreen Cemetery, I decided I couldn’t let him gap me. I knew he just had to beat me by a minute to beat me in the series, so I wanted to keep close. I picked up the pace and surprisingly, I wasn’t reeling him in very fast. I got within 5m at the 7 mile mark and looked at my split: 5:42. Ouch. Enough of that. I set my legs back on cruise control for a more reasonable pace. Gerry’s move and my subsequent chase stretched out the pack. Sam soon passed me but the rest of the pack, including Paul, fell back.
The rest of the run became a test of mental toughness and trying to maintain pace. I held onto just over 6:00 miles until the last 2 miles where we encountered the only real hills on the course. Just after the overpass hill at mile 11, I caught and passed Sam. On the Riverwalk ramp, less than a mile from the finish, the run felt much more like a marathon than a half. Gerry had found some wings and soared into a 1:18:02. He clearly had the race of the day! Orinthal cruised in at 1:17:37 for the win. I was 3rd in the Half Marathon in 1:21:05 and glad to be done with it!
Final Standings- full results click here
1. Orinthal Striggles 2:10:29
2. Gerry Glynn 2:12:53
3. Sammy Palmer 2:14:33
4. Dan Clark 2:15:02
5. Kim Pawelek 2:17:03
6. Paul McRae 2:17:07

Tour de pain award

 

Final Thoughts
The races tested body and mind. The runners I talked to after the event were already considering what their new strategy for next year should be. My strategy? This year was pretty good. My total time for the 10K + 5K was about equal to my 15K time at River Run. Looking at the % scores used for age grading my 3 races were 80%, 78% and 79%. Consistent effort level and I was tapped out at the end of the Half Marathon. The only question is: Could I make up more time in the half marathon if I had gone easier for the first two races? Maybe…. Gerry certainly ran his best race last and made up a lot of time (85%, 82%, 88%). Kim, the women’s winner did the same. She was well behind me in the first two races but closing fast on me in the half marathon. But the mental aspect of being “in the race” headed into the last event has value too, right? The overall winner went 78%, 80%, 80%. The intrigue remains so I guess I’ll have to go back next year.

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, October 9th, 2011

Hudson Mohawk

“Your PR awaits” beckons the website for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. “The path to Boston starts in Schenectady,” it declares, referring to the start of the race in Schenectady, NY and encouraging those looking for a Boston Qualifying time. The product lives up to its billing with a well organized event, a net downhill course and typically cool temperatures. That’s why I took Coach Joe Burgasser’s advice and traveled to Albany New York for the race.
I arrived Friday night and had Saturday to rest, visit the expo and check out the finish area of the race. I jogged to the riverfront with Sean Gallagher, another runner coached by Joe Burgasser on Saturday morning. We were pleased to see the finish line was only about half a mile from our hotel. We both were feeling confident despite the weather reports calling for unseasonably warm weather. The forecast predicted high 50s for the start and low to mid 70s by the time we would finish. As Floridians we joked that the locals were not going to be happy- they weren’t. I said I’d run a 2:44 if I did it right and possibly faster if everything went really well. Sean was ready to go out hard and looking for a sub 2:30.
A friendly greeting awaited me at the starting line. I glanced down front row of runners and saw a Florida Track Club singlet. It was Gainesville native, Kellam Bartley. He was on a down cycle of training and was running just for fun. As it turned out, he still ran a pretty fast time for not training much! It was about 57 degrees at the gun and 400 meters into it I was in 9th place watching the lead pack pull away. They were out fast and well behind them was the right spot for me. Unfortunately, nobody else thought it was a good pace so I was by myself. The first few miles had some of the biggest downhill portions and everything felt great. Arriving at the Mohawk River, there was a steep downhill and the view of the river in the morning sun was beautiful. My splits varied some but based on the amount of downhill each mile it was actually pretty even effort. I finally saw another runner at 14 miles. I could see his legs were dead and I just went by quickly. We were running on a paved trail now with nice shade that felt like running in San Felasco, just with pavement rather than dirt.
I really focused during mile 14 to 21, rolling my imaginary mix of music from our Praise Service at Church to Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet and Toby Mac. I passed another runner at about 18, pulling into 7th place; just rolling, picking up the pace a bit and having fun. By 22 I was working hard, I missed the mile marker at 23 and realized when I saw 24, I had slowed down a bit. OK. Time to get the party started. I blew past a tall Russian guy who looked fast on the starting line but now looked like a race walker because his heel float was so low. At mile 25 the skyline of downtown Albany can be seen and I was weaving around half marathon walkers who were cheering me on. Downtown looked so far away. I bumped into a walker during the last mile, not because she was in the way but because I couldn’t run where I told my legs to go. Just after the 26 mark, I heard a voice from the crowd, “Go! You can be under 2:44!” I went, but I was 2:44:02 at the finish. It was now about 75 degrees, sunny, and I wanted nothing more than to sit down. I sat next to the Medical Tent and drank chocolate milk and water before heading back to the hotel, another marathon away. Really it was just a half mile but it seemed far at the time.
Sean had followed his plan to go out hard, hitting 1:15:32 at the half marathon mark. However at 16 miles, he got a cramp in his calf and stopped to stretch it out. Even with that lost time and running with a sore calf, he ended up with a time of 2:36:27 in 3rd place. A somewhat disappointing time but an accomplishment considering the adversity he faced during the run. Kellam told me on the starting line he’d probably run 2:55 and he delivered, running a 2:55:43 for 19th place. Overall, it was a good day for the Floridians.
Full Results: http://areep.com/events/mhrm/2011/marathon.txt
Race site: http://mohawkhudsonmarathon.com/