Friday, November 24, 2006

Better than expected

21:05 for 4 miles yesterday at the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble in soaking wet Somerville - good enough for 4th place - in my first race back since suffering the stress fracture in early July. This was a whole minute better than I thought I was capable of running at this stage of the game, so I was very pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out. The mediocre time might reflect otherwise, but this is easily the best race I've run in two years. Trust me on that one.

Splits were 5:21, 5:25 and 10:20 (missed 3-mile marker) for the last two. A definite step in the right direction, but it's just that, a step. I've gotta be careful not to get too excited and skip any this time. One at a time, one at a time...

In greater news, congrats to Rich & Jess, my bosses at PR Running, on the birth of their first child, Nathaniel. Lil guy came into the world this morning at 4:44, a month earlier than expected, but happy and healthy nonetheless. He checked in at 18-1/2 inches and just under 6 pounds. He and momma Allen are doing well and Big Poppa Rich is one excited dude, and rightfully so. After enjoying the rest of his holiday weekend, Baby Nate will be working the floor on Monday as our infant fitting specialist, giving us a much-needed extra hand heading into Christmas season.

That'll do it for a few days, likely. Take it easy fellow bloggers, lurkers and the like.
Quote of the day:

The flame might be low, but the fire's not out.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy trails

Yesterday morning marked a much-anticipated return to the humble home of Ryan and Christy Mae Carrara and the soft trails of Hudson, Mass. Normally, "long" is the theme on Sunday morning at the Carrara household, but not yesterday - not for anyone involved, in fact. The customary post-run brunch, however, was still in full effect, so many thanks to Christy Mae for providing a fantastic means of replenishment afterward.

Back to the run itself. The three of us giddily (OK, maybe it wasn't that exciting) made our way into Memorial Forest for a pleasant 72 minute jaunt on the aforementioned trails. The air was a bit moist and the ground somewhat damp, but the running was of course fantastic, and Ryan and I felt so dandy that we finished up our 10-mile effort with 6 easy strides on the road. This was my first double-digit run since early July and I'm happy to report that as of 11:37 p.m. on Monday night everything is indeed still feeling good. 10 days till Turkey Day and the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble 4-miler in Somervile. The latest line in Vegas still has me coming in at 22:30 with a 30-second swing either way. I'm no Benjamin Eckstein, but I'd say that's a pretty fair bet at this stage of the game.

That'll have to do it for tonight. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I ran 2 mountain races this year because I am good at it. It does not mean I like to run hills. Does the local garbage man love garbage? No, but you gotta go where the money is.
- Eric Blake on his 2nd-place finish at the Monson Memorial 1/2 Marathon

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pressure's on

Due to unyielding pressure from the unconventionally altitude trained Katie Gwyther, I bring to you this unplanned late-night entry. I don't have much to write about, but I aim to please, so here goes...

While working at the store the other night, I was visited one of our loyal customers, namely one Rich Marion. It was the first time I'd ever met one of the finest distance runners to come out of Templeton, but I did have some background information on him which I intended to have him expound upon. Thankfully, he obliged, and now I can share said information with the three of you out there reading this.

You see, for those of you unfamiliar with the now 40-something-year-old Mr. Marion, here's what I got. Back in the late 80s/early 90s he was one of the best distance runners to make his home in Massachusetts. His road times ranged from low 14's for 5K to 23:51 for 5 miles. Throw in a 2:21 marathon for good measure and you're looking at a pretty damn impressive running resume.

Now I had heard from my high school coach, Jim Gonyea, some tall tales about Mr. Marion and his training. "He doesn't know how to take it easy," is how Jim put it to me. "He set his 5-mile PR during a training run." For legitimacy's sake, Rich's 23:51 was run on the roads in Connecticut, but the preceding quote from old Mr. Gonyea pretty much exemplfies the point I'm trying to get it: this guy didn't mess around.

I also do know of a course record Mr. Marion holds, that being my town's 4th of July 2-mile Road Race record of 9:16. Rumor has it that Rich warmed up for the race by first running the course in 9:48, then coming back 10 minutes later to clock a 9:16. Not unbelievable, but impressive nonetheless.

Anyway, back to my chance encounter earlier this week with our aforementioned master's hero. After helping him find a new pair of lightweight trainers to pound out his miles in, I picked Mr. Marion's brain for some specifics regarding his training, and was rather surprised at what I gathered. He doesn't "pound out the miles" at all, so to speak, but believe me, he's not fooling around out there.

I'll preface the following summation of Rich's unorthodox training methods by saying the man works long hours in an office - has been for a number of years from what he tells me. He runs on his lunch hour - always has - typically 4 to 6 miles because frankly that's all he has time for. But get this, his typical 5-miler only takes him anywhere between 27 and 30 minutes.

"I try to run within a minute of my race pace," is how he desscribes his training approach. "That way when it's time to race, my body isn't surprised to run fast."

On the weekends is when Rich would run the bulk of his miles. Typically a longer run of 15 miles or so (longer if training for a marathon) and another of 8 miles, for a weekly total that usually averaged out in the mid-40's.

"Sometimes I was just wiped and had to take a day off," he said.

The longer run, surprisingly, was run quite slow. Typically he would slow the pace on those to 7 minutes a mile or so, and run for "two or three hours."

Not surprisingly, he ran a lot of his miles solo. When training for a marathon, his highest weeks would top out at 70 miles, but "over a 16-week period, most were between 40 and 60...I've never been a high mileage guy. When I was running 70, I might run closer to 6 minute pace when I wasn't doing a workout."

After a few years of low key running, Marion has been back at it of late as a master's runner for the BAA. He recently ran a course record in the Groton Town Forest XC races, as well as a 4:24 road mile in Marlboro. On December 31st, he'll be at the Millenium Mile in N.H., where he hopes to clock a time in the 4-teens.

"It's downhill and fast," he said. "I should be able to hit that time."

So what did I take from my conversation with Rich the other night? A lot of stuff, actually. To make it easy on myself and those of you who've made it this far though, here's the ever important short list:

1. Quality miles over quantity of miles. Do what you can, where you are, with the time you have. Simple as that. No excuses. (Editor's note: As brought to my attention by one Mark Driscoll, this not meant to be interpreted that I suddenly advocate low mileage training. I don't. As Malmo would say, I'm an advocate of right mileage training. Make the most of your mileage, whatever it may be.)

2. Emphasis on threshold type running. Even though Marion's overall mileage was low, most - if not all of it - was at a quick, but not killer pace. (Editor's note: Again, I am a NOT a sudden convert to low-mileage/higher intensity training), but do I think there's something to be said here for the importance of tempo running. Throw some easy recovery runs in there and some well-placed speed work and you've got yourself a recipe for success.

Unfortunately, that's all I've got time for tonight. Sorry for the above bit of rambling, but if I suddenly happen to remember anything I forgot to mention, I'll be sure to update in the very near future. Any questions the above text might generate, however, feel free to fire me a question at any time. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

People who ran at that time were runners. They were weirdos... At that time, they were just a different breed.
- Patti Dillon on runners in the 70's

Monday, November 06, 2006

NY, New Balance, new additions and Nationals

Congratulations are in order on many fronts today, so let's not waste any time...

* First, to good pal Kim Nolan on a 2:57:44 yesterday at New York. When told she handed it to Lance Armstrong, the too humble Nolan replied, "I never even saw him." That's because his slow ass was behind you the whole time!

* Second, to the most underrated and underrespected man in marathoning, Pete Gilmore. He was the top American yesterday and 10th overall in the Big Apple, adding to his stellar peformance at Boston this past April. Get the guy a shoe deal already!

* Next, to my New Balance Boston teammates on solid days yesterday at the USATF-NE Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park. Both our squads ended up second in the team standings to the always well-stacked BAA. Erin Dromgoole was our top gal in third overall and the immortal Mike Maceiko led the men with an 8th place finish. We've got a pretty solid crew coming together and it's only a matter of time before things really start clicking for everyone.

* Speaking of NB Boston teammates, the next round of congratulations goes out to Brad and his wife Caitlin, who are expecting their first child this coming April. If he or she is like dad and has a firm hold on hitting splits dead-on, be on the lookout for Baby Brad sometime before Boston!

* To the flying Skyhawks of Stonehill cross country. Both the women's and men's teams qualified for Nationals yesterday with first and second place finishes, respectively, at the D2 New England Regional, also held at Franklin Park. Granted I only ran with one of the current studs on the guys' squad, if any of you badasses are out there reading this, I challenge you to become the first Stonehill squad to nab a top-10 finish. It's been long overdue. The talent is there; run with confidence and show the rest of the country where you stand.

That'll do it for now. There's much to get done with a free afternoon staring me dead smack in the face. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I think I bit off more than I could chew.
- Lance Armstrong

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dead to me

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Jogger's World - the one with a corpse-like Deena Kastor on the cover - to entertain myself on a slow night holding down the fort at PR Running. Right off the bat, let me say that I have nothing against Deena Kastor - hell, she's one of my top-3 favorite runners of all-time - but RW did an atrocious job this month dolling her up for the cover shoot. Luckily, I'm not the only one who shares these sentiments.

Back to the issue itself. Lots of laughable stuff in there, as usual, but a piece entitled, "The American Runner, 2006", practically had me rolling around on the floor. It might not have the same effect on you, but for $4.50, you can find out "who you are, what makes you run, and why you like Chariots of Fire." What an eye-opener! For instance, I never knew that...

* There's a 49% chance I'm running with a water bottle on my person at all times, a 43% chance I've got my MP3 player with me for the 50% of the time I spend running on busy roads, a 25% probability that I'm carrying a GPS unit with me so I don't get lost on the treadmill I happen to run on 5% of the time, but only a 17% chance I'm carrying my cell phone so that I can call someone with the completely valid excuse that my wife is ovulating, thus preventing me from actually getting my run in.

* Each year, I buy only 3 pairs of running shoes because there's a 31% likelihood I'm running 4 days a week at an average of 9-9:59 per mile.

* The thoughts "latte, latte, latte" and "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" are the key mantras missing from my motivational strategy to help get me through a tough workout.

* Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and the Black Eyed Peas "Pump It" should be two of the songs I definitely have programmed into my MP3 player when I'm blazing a trail for 16% of my 20-29 miles per week.

* Pre barely edged out my dad and Jesus as people I'd most like to run with. And good 'ol George Dubya is a more desirable running partner than either Lance Armstrong or Will Farrell. Did they conduct this poll in Florida? I demand a recount.

* 59% of the time I'd rather get laid than go for a run. Actually, I can't argue with that.

That'll do it for this entry. If the numbers are accurate, there's a 2% chance I'm meditating before I head out for my run. It's 7% more likely, however, that I'm searching for my Fuel Belt. "You won't miss me anyway", however, according to the No. 2 excuse used when certain obligations threaten to keep me from a run. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Don't allow injuries or other setbacks to derail your faith in your ultimate goals. Everyone goes through hard times.
- Kara Goucher giving arguably the most useful piece of advice in the aforementioned issue of Runner's World