Saturday, December 31, 2005

Reflection and Introspection

Poised on the brink of New Year's Eve and less than 24 hours from doing the Fat Ass 50K I can't help but look back over the past twelve months and reflect upon my journey from there to here, from then to now. It was at this very same time of the season last year that I resolved to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In the days between Christmas and the New Year last December I was at loose ends and rummaging around for something to do, a goal, a sense of purpose - Hell, even I wasn't sure what I was looking for. But reading the History of the Boston Marathon was a prime motivating factor. And once I was forty-five, a 3:30:59 qualifying time seemed tantalizingly close to my 3:53:12, a time I had just achieved in Victoria that past Fall..

I am not even sure why I chose Boston. Possibly in large part, and I say this now in all honesty, because it seemed like such a nearly impossible task. It seemed almost undoable, just beyond my grasp. I had struggled, really struggled, for the better part of three years to crash through the four hour barrier in a marathon. And having done that, I promptly decided that I had to do something else. Of course, given my recognition of my amazing powers of procrastination and my rare ability to seduce the canine, I knew I needed something of an incentive to keep my nose to the grindstone. I love the whole idea of the grandiose scheme, but let's face it, most grandiose schemes then take a gargantuan effort to pull off. Think of the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China or the Panama Canal, climbing Mount Everest or reaching the Poles without having to eat your sled dogs, or Jessica Simpson's career. Near impossible feats, every one of them. When I stumbled across a few Blogs I really did have a Eureka! moment. What better way to spur myself on than to face endless public humiliation?!

Now, having qualified for Boston, I have enjoyed a small sense of achievement, but nothing on the scale I thought it would be. I am a little surprised at this. What was I expecting, I wonder? Garlands of flowers, public accolades, newspaper headlines, nubile young women prostrate at my feet, rounds of free drinks in the bar? Well, all of them of course, especially the nubile young women, but also something I am not quite sure I am able to put my finger on.

After a year of running and striving and struggling, a part of me, a big part it turns out, remains unsatisfied. I want more. I am just not sure what the more is. I am happy with my progress for the most part. I have tried to peak for two marathons per year for the past three years, Spring and Fall. And barring injury in the spring of 2004, I have performed a personal best in the last three marathons I have set out to do my best in. I am proud of myself for that. I did enough work to feel that I earned it. Is the wanting more a symptom of the age we live in? Is there no such thing as enough?

This past year, by setting the bar so high in my Boston attempt, I was also forced to train as smartly I was capable of training. I love the fact that I was still able to exercise the discipline necessary to lose twenty-five pounds. Having said that, since qualifying I have also back slid and my weight has crept back up. But I am still fifteen pounds lighter. And after tomorrow I am going back "on the Boston wagon". Why? It really feels great to have a goal and a purpose and a long term objective that requires so much focus. It seems to keep me grounded and I truly enjoy the sense of purpose it lends my life. I love the fact that it puts me in close contact with other people who have similar goals and ambitions and a similar sense of purpose. I like marathoners. I like hanging around with people every bit as obsessed as myself. There is a comfort in knowing that I am not alone in my lunacy. I have company. I am not the only crazed one in the crowd.

My primary goal for Boston is to enjoy myself. Enjoy the experience of getting there. But I also want to honour the race and it's great tradition. I want to run my heart out in Boston. When I qualified in Kelowna, it was my best marathon time ever, but oddly enough, it is the marathon experience that has been the most vivid and memorable one to date for me. I can still replay almost every step of the Okanagan Marathon in my mind's eye, even though it was the most physically demanding of all my 26.2s. This of course flies in the face of accepted thinking. Usually the hardest races are supposed to take so much out of you that all that remains at the end is a blur. To really enjoy the marathon experience goes the accepted wisdom, you have to slow down and smell the daisies.

But I would really like to qualify for Boston again in Boston. I would really like to be able to say that Boston inspired me to run a personal best. That I went to Boston and gave it my all and did my best. So, once again my nature is to be a contrarian and go against the grain and the advice of everyone in the know and go to Boston and do a gloriously impractical incongruous Vince thing.

I can hardly wait....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Going Through the Motions

I am gearing myself up to run the Fat Ass Fifty (50K) on New Year's Day and honestly, the most appealing part of the run is knowing that I'm going to burn off some of the fat I've packed onto my ass over the holidays. I am struggling a bit to get in at least three days a week of training. Since the beginning of December I have managed to get my big long runs in on Sundays and the rest of the time I am juggling my schedule to top up my tank with a couple of 10Ks.

And in preparation for the Las Vegas Marathon, I managed to keep my mileage up to about 60K (40-odd miles) a week. The good news is that in the midst of all the running I have been doing, I have been taking it relatively easy pace-wise and my weight is steady in the mid 180s. Starting the first week of January it will be back to the Spring Marathon Clinic, back to Tempo runs and Race Pace and back to my marathon diet.

Patrick and Hugh and I are going to follow up on our practise last sumer and fall of doing more shorter races this season and in pursuit of that strategy we'ved joined the BC (British Columbia) Athletic Association. They host the excellent Timex Road Race Series where runners are ranked on their best seven finishes out of fifteen scheduled events that take place around the province of BC. It only costs $35 to join and you get a discount on your entrance fees for being a member. If you run 10 of the 15 events, you get a t-shirt!

Getting excited about Boston!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Still Here

My computer, which has been working in fits and starts and hence giving me fits, finally packed it in, crashing and burning in spectacular fashion.

Thus, explaining for the curious, the on and off nature of my posts for the past six weeks.

I have a new computer - thank you John and Patrick - or at least new innards and a hard drive and new software and hopefully a new lease on life in cyberspace.

I shall return!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oh, So Close!

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I was very pleased with our start, as the weather was clear and cold and the temperature was 36 degrees F and I felt it was important to ease into this race. I did not anticipate there being a headwind of up to 25 knots that came right into our faces between 10 and 20K, straight out of the North. And this was the same part of the course that was a long, slow gradual climb.

At the halfway mark we had almost crested the hill, but the damage was already done, I fear. We made up ground like gangbusters over the next 10K, but at 3:55 and with a little over three miles to go we had shot our bullet.

The thing I love about the Polar S625X is that it gives you such a great tool for breaking down a race afterwards. It is an amazing training tool in that respect in my opinion. To paraphrase a good friend, "the data never lies." And you don't have to relie on a faulty memory, the Polar just spits it out for you.

My Lucky Number in Vegas is 26.2

My lucky number in Vegas is 26.2... So says the reverse of my Las Vegas Marathon Finisher's Medal. I couldn't agree more!

Bib #1109
Age 45 M
START 6:15:33 AM PST
5K - 34:27:00
10K - 1:07:52
15K - 1:39:51
20K - 2:12:19
HALF - 2:19:29
25K - 2:43:43
30K - 3:15:02
35K - 3:46:43
40K - 4:20:30
FINISH - 4:35:47
Chip Time: 4:35:47
Clock: 4:43:39
Pace: 10:31
Placement Overall: 3908 Gender: 2713 Division: 406

A nice little negative split, but as you will see from the coming heart rate and pace chart we ran out of gas with about three miles to go... At 30K I really thought Cynthia had 4:29:59 in the bag. But fighting the head wind and the long, slow uphill between 10K and 20K had already taken its toll. Oh, so close
! Next time, Cynthia.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vince Vegas

I just had to quickly put up a reply to Scooter's last posted comment:

For those of you who may be wondering, I looked up Vince's results at Las Vegas. I figure he must have been up late at the table the night before (or keeping a friend company...I hope she was cute...but it was probably Hugh or somesuch). Actually she is pretty cute, in fact, very cute, something I often tell her husband...

After cracking the 3:30 barrier mere weeks ago, Vince posted a Chip Time: 04:35:47 Clock: 04:43:39 Pace: 10:31. I was trying to help pace Ms. Cynthia Chung to a scintillating 4:29:59, and she would have made it except for an at times brutally cold (as low as 36 degrees) headwind for a good seven or eight miles in the heart of the race (gusting to 25 knots directly in our faces from the north). Congrats again, Cynthia on a brilliantly run first marathon.

Cynthia taught a half-marathon clinic and also trained through some really aggravating injuries during the summer and fall. She never quit on her way to her goal. That's a true marathoner in my books. But I predict much faster times in Cynthia's future when she has an opportunity to reap the full benefits of a training regime with speed and strength workouts. The heart of a lion!

Vince, I trust you had fun there, your splits were nice and steady, so good job at that.

I had a good time, more of which I will post later. During the race itself, my avergae heart rate for the full marathon was 141 beats per minute, with a high of 158. (sprint to the finish, when I tried to keep up with Ms. Chung!)

The highlight of the trip and the weekend was speaking at length with Bill Rogers and getting both his book and my race bib autographed by Bill and -- ta da -- Joan Benoit Samuelson. Now, back to work!

PS And thanks to Cynthia and June and Stu for being such good run buddies on the road. Next stop on my long run training schedule - the Fat Ass 50 K on New year's Day! I figure that should give me an aerobic base and a half...

Then Baby, it's all Boston. I am aiming to run Beantown somewhere in the vicinity of 170 pounds (185 this morning). Was very nice to come home and find my Boston Marathon confirmation postcard sitting in my mailbox.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

Damn it, Vince! Where are you? Where are all your posts?

Slow down, folks. All is well. Working six and seven days a week to pay for my far-flung vagabond lifestyle.

Plus, I AM going to Boston...

Leaving in a few hours for Las Vegas to run the marathon this Sunday. Running with friends and hoping to pace them to a few new PR, PBs or what have you... personal bests, personal records, you get the drift. Will be very happy if every one squeaks or ekes out a 4:29:59. Sound familiar? Gotta luv runners.

Will let you all know how it turns out. Thanks for missing me and my Blogs. Once I am seriously back into training for Boston, I'll be Blogging again on a regular basis.

Thank you, thank you very much...