Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fort Collins Thanksgiving 4 miler

It was another great Thanksgiving morning in Fort Collins (our 6th).  My mom and step dad, visiting from California, came out and ran the 4-mile race with us this morning.  Ean and I ran a relaxed warm-up through town and met up with Scott, Pete and Celeste.  We slid in to the starting line-up where we formed a pack of my favorite local friends and runners including Mike, Rob, Brian, Brian, Shannon, Lisa, Nick, Tim, and about 3000 others.  I went out hard but under control and exchanged some laughs and encouragements with others around me.  I ran briefly with a couple runners from my cross country team and was glad to see them out staying in shape and running well in the off-season.  As we made the right turn on Mulberry, Brian commented that pace felt fast, and it did, but my watch said we were well over 6 min/mile.  Mile 1 was 6:09 and felt too hard.  I pushed and tried to stay relaxed up Mulberry, but the pace got slower and it kept feeling harder.  I was glad to see City Park and the turn on to Bryan.  Mile 2 was 6:32 (ugh).  My sub 26 minute goal was slipping away, but I decided to just keep pushing to do whatever I could on the final 2 miles.  I made the turn on to Mountain pushed on to Shields, gave Mr. Stone (Blevins school counselor and regular race volunteer) a high 5 and then hit mile 3 in 6:24 (a little better).  I knew I just needed to hold that pace for one more mile and I'd be there.  Cat, Mindy, and Mary were at the turn on to College and their cheers helped me push the final 150 yards to the finish.  I really didn't have anything left for much of a kick, but I gave it all I had and watched the finish clock get closer and closer to 26 minuted as I approached and crossed the line in 25:54.  This was not my fastest run on this course, but it was faster than last year and I am happy with that.  Mike, Scott and Pete were all at the finish line still catching their breath and they had all run great races with PRs of one to two minutes.  I jogged back to the corner just in time to see Ean coming in for an amazing finish and a huge PR of 34:24, which was more than a minute and a half better than her goal. We jogged back to find Maddie who had met up with a friend and we ran in to the finish with them.
We walked with Maddie back to the car to grab some warmer clothes and then jogged back on the course one more time to finish with Micah, Ama and Papa.  We found them less then a half mile from the finish, having a great time on this beautiful morning.  We ran in together one last time and then headed home for the Thanksgiving feast.  I am thankful for my family, my friends, my community and wonderful days like today.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I just got home from the Towers Time Trial and when I added my day's 11 miles (3 mile run with Ean around the park this afternoon + 1 mile warm-up for Towers + 7 miles up and down Towers) to my cumulative miles for the year I hit 3000!  I have shot for 3000 miles the past two years, but came up short with 2348 miles in 2009 and 2725 in 2010.  It looks like I'll finish this year off with 1000 miles more than I ran just two years ago.  This has been the year of big training miles and I am hoping that this year of building lots of base will pay off with some racing break throughs in 2012.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4 x 1600

I got out of bed a few minutes before 5 am this morning and went to the track.  I owe some of this to Mindy, who called me last night to ask what time I was going to be at the track in the morning.  It would have been really easy to hit snooze and go back to sleep had I not known that she would be there.

I could hear the wind blowing outside the bathroom window as I brushed my teeth and thought this could be ugly.  Running mile repeats is hard enough, but doing it in the dark, when it's cold and windy might just be too much.  It turned out not to be that cold and the wind had mostly died down by the time I jogged out on to the track at 5:50 am.  It was still dark, but the gibbous moon was high in the western sky and the first hints of sunrise were visible to the east.  With all my excuses gone, I jogged a few laps, ran some strides and lined up for mile #1.  My plan was to run four 1-mile repeats in 6:15 with a 400 m recovery.

Mile 1 started out okay, but got tough in laps 3 and 4 and I finished in 6:17.  I had said that I'd take the first one easy, so I shook it off, jogged a lap and readied myself for #2.  Mile 2 was hard, but I stayed on pace for the first 3/4 mile and then dropped off a bit at the end finishing in 6:16.  I jogged the recovery lap with Mindy, and we commented on the beauty of the morning and the difficulty of this workout.  Mile 3 didn't feel terrible, but I couldn't hold the pace.  I finished in 6:22 and almost quit right there.  I'm not sure if my slow times were because I didn't push myself hard enough (got to HTFU) or I just wasn't having a 100% morning.  I walked/jogged a recovery lap and lined up for one more.  I credit Mindy and you (my loyal blog readers) for making me feel accountable to finishing the workout that I had set out to do.  I ran mile 4 in 6:32 and felt good about getting it done and dissapointed about not running faster at the same time.  I ran a couple laps with Mindy before she headed home and I jogged across the field to my classroom to start the work day.

I have mixed feelings about this workout.  It was great to get up and enjoy the morning, watch the sunrise and do the run.  It was frustrating not to run the times I wanted.  I think I have the fitness to run 6:15 pace it just didn't happen today.  The sum of my mile times from this morning is 25:27.  If I can run that next Thursday, that would be Thanksgiving Day 4-mile PR which I would be happy with, but I'm not ready to give up on sub 25:00 yet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

3rd time's a charm?

I put my name in again.  We'll see what happens on December 10.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

6 x 800

So I got out on the track after school today with some hope and a little dread about the workout I had planned.  Six 2-lappers is really not a big deal, but running them on the track alone, in the cold, at the end of a long day is a heavy task.  I jogged a few laps hopping to feel better about it as I warmed up, then ran back in to the building to visit the bathroom, then ran back to the track, did a couple strides and decided I better just do this.  The Blevins track is pretty lonely in the late afternoon in November.  The sun had gone down and the park and fields were pretty empty.  One of my students was on the football filed when I started and he did shout out an encouraging "go Mr. May" as I came around the curve on my first repeat.  After he left, it was just me and the track.  My goal was to run all six repeats at my goal pace for the Turkey Day 4 mile (6:15) so that would be 3:07.5 per 800.  I figured I'd shoot for 3:05 just to be safe.  The first 800 was 3:01 and was a little rough, so I decided to ease up some on the next one.  I jogged a lap recovery and started number 2.  3:04 and it felt much better.  Jog a lap then number 3: 3:02.  Felt pretty good and the workout is half done.  I started to think that I could make it through this.  Number 4: 3:02.  Alright, only two to go and these are feeling better than I'd hoped and I'm running faster than I'd planned.  I started number 5 (thinking "only one more after this") and I was starting to feel the pain coming around the second curve of lap one.  I held on and finished in 3:01.  I jogged my recovery lap feeling very good about the workout and realizing that I probably should have set out to run 8 repeats instead of 6 but it was too late for that now.  I decided to push it a bit on this last 800 and try to go sub 3.  Go!  I hit the 200 in :44 then the 400 in 1:29.  I was on pace for 2:58 if I could hold on for one last lap.  I pushed it through the final 200 m and hit my watch at the line: 2:55.  That last one hurt, but I did it and I was done.  I put my jacket back on, jogged a few more laps and then ran back to my classroom to gather my stuff, hop on my bike and ride home.  A good workout on the track.  Next week: mile repeats.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I ran the Tortoise and Hare 5K this morning and finished in a disappointing 20:07.  My goal was to run even 6:15/min pace since this is my goal pace for the upcoming Fort Collins Thanksgiving 4 mile.  My splits instead were 6:20, 6:23, 6:29, :55. I will write off today's slow run to having tired legs from yesterday's 15 mile somewhat hilly run though the mud on the Blue Sky and Indian Summer trails.

Last weekend I ran the Spooktacular 5K at the park down the street hoping to run well under 20 minutes and I did run 19:41 which was good enough for 10th overall and 2nd in my age group.  This was my besk Colorado 5K which I was pleased about, but I know I could have run it smarter.  I started out too fast and died in the last mile; splits: 5:55, 6:12, 6:28, 1:03  I stopped at the timing mat that was placed 20 yards out from the finish which explains my especially slow final 10th, but still you can see from the splits that I didn't run very smart.

Coming in to the false finish at the Spooktacular 5K

Before we moved to Colorado five and a half years ago I routinely ran 5Ks in under 19 minutes.  Back then I was running a group track work out every week, training mostly roads and racing 5Ks and 10Ks.  My 5K PR is 17:50.  I was 30 and it was downhill course at sea level, but still I was fast.  Since I moved to Colorado and started running mostly trails and mostly slow and not very many 5Ks, I have not run a fast 5K.  Well, I guess I'd like to and maybe if I can get some speed back in the shorter distances, it will pay off with faster times in my upcoming trail ultras too.  So I am heading back to the track at least once a week for the next few weeks to see what I can do.  There is another 5K next weekend, but I'm not sure if I am going to do it.  I will be running the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day 4 Mile which is pretty close to a 5K.  My best time for this race is 25:43, but this year I'd really like to go under 25 minutes.  6:15/mile will do it so Tuesday night I'll be at the track running 800s.
Carlsbad 5000- back when I was fast (18:47)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Risk of Failure

I read an interesting article several months ago (I don't remember the magazine or the author) about the allure of the possibility of failure.  The article rails against the trend in western society and the education system in particular in respect to the many structures that have been implemented to minimize the risk of failure.  We don't score many youth sports events so nobody loses, we change academic grading scales to do away with the F, we lower standards, we decrease expectations, and on and on.  Despite this trend, or maybe in response to it, the most difficult ultrarunning events are often the hardest to get in to.  There is a thrill in the challenge of attempting something when you have no guarantee of success.  When I read this article, I found it interesting and inspiring, but I also realized that I was not really excited about the prospect of not finishing a race.  I was proud to have completed every race that I had started and I had achieved many of the time goals that I had set for myself.  I had never stood at a starting line and thought that there was a real possibility that I might not make it to the finish line.

Then last July after 65 miles of getting lost and off course, extreme heat, ridiculous climbs and a lot of frustration, I dropped from the Grand Mesa 100.  It was a huge blow to my pride and confidence as a runner.  I still think about it and wonder if I should have kept going.  So a month later I went up to South Dakota and ran another 100 and finished running a 3 hour course PR.  Two months ago I stood on the starting line in Leadville confident that I would make it to the finish and hoping to do it in under 25 hours.  23 hours later I ran out of time at mile 76.5 and my race was over.

I have attempted the 100 mile distance four times and only made it to the finish twice and I have yet to finish a true mountain 100.  So facing those facts, I decided to take the risk again.

But this time I am going to finish.