Sunday, January 25, 2009

How Cold Was It?

It is often said that everything is "relative". Well for me and hundreds of runners here in Orlando, it has been COLD! I guess I can look at it and say, well this is our annual one week of winter. In fact as I am writing this, it appears that our warm temperatures are returning.

Despite the cold temperatures, several mornings in the 30's, it did not deter me or many of my fellow runners from getting out there and logging some miles. If you dress properly in layers and for me my hands need to be warm. If my hands are warm I'm fine. After about a mile the body adjusts and comfort is restored.

On Saturday, I ran the "Season's 52" road race in Winter Park, how appropriate to hold it in "Winter" Park. The distance was adjusted from the standard 5K. Since the primary sponsor is the "Season's 52" restaurant, we did 5.2K. The race organizers, Track Shack, did provide a time clock and "Champion Chip" timing for the 5K distance as well.

It was a perfect morning for a race. The temperature was just above 40 and calm. A group of us did a 3 mile warm-up run to the race. We timed it so that we arrived at the start with time for a potty break and ditching the warm-up clothes. We lined up and were off before our bodies could cool down.

I felt very good in the first half-mile so I knew that I would have a good run. I settled in with two runners, Darla and John. John is in my age group and for the past 3 years he has always beaten me, but I've been getting closer. Darla is a breast cancer survivor who at best I manage to stay with for 2 miles, but today would be different.

At mile 1 my time was 7:00 minutes even, at mile 2 it was 13:50. I was now "stalking" John running just off his left shoulder at a safe distance not to impede him or the other runners. Darla was to my left and slightly ahead, but still in sight! As we approached the 5K mark I moved around John. We ran shoulder to shoulder across the 5K and the finish line. Because it was a "chip" timed race I had a 2 second cushion on John. When the results were posted I had finally beaten John by a mere 2 seconds. Darla was still ahead of me, but it was by 1 second, look out Darla!

I finished with PR's in both the 5K and 5.2K. My 5K time was 21:53, the first time I have run under 22:00 minutes. I placed 2nd in my age group out of 36. Overall, I finished 179th out of 2,407.
The photo was provided by my sister and brother-in-law who live in Central New York.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Goal is the Boston Marathon

2009 is going to be the year I "officially" pursue the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After almost 5 years of running, I believe I have achieved a point where I can realistically consider a "BQ". It will take many miles of training, good health, avoiding injury, some luck and the many, many friends, runners and non-runners, who will motivate me toward my goal.

I have selected the Mohawk-Hudson Marathon on October 11, 2009 as my qualifying race.

Please visit my new blog "My Goal is the Boston Marathon". Just click on the title for the link.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Fountain of Youth"

Sunday morning the group pictured above and about 300 others ran the 25th annual DeLeon Springs Half-Marathon and 5K. It is a nice, no frills race, held about 50 miles north of Orlando. The "Springs" are named for the famous explorer Ponce DeLeon, who searched Florida for the "Fountain of Youth".

Having gained six pounds over the Christmas and New Year holiday, I wasn't sure what to expect with my run. Mentally I was prepared and physically I had been training, but at a slightly heavier weight. The ride to the race took about one and one-half hours. Bob aka "Sponge Bob" was the designated driver who picked me up at my house then we picked up Jennifer and Denise. About six miles before the race location we stopped at a Wal-Mart Super Store for bananas, coffee and a potty break.

We arrived at the park and picked up our race packets. No long lines, no ID required. Being the 25th anniversary race, they had black long sleeved "tech" shirts with silver lettering, nice! After meeting other runners from Orlando, we relaxed, then warmed up. The temperature was in the high 50's and it was overcast, slightly damp. It was an 8:00am start, so we knew that as soon as the sun rose the temperature would likewise rise. We managed to get to about the 10-11 mile mark before the sun broke through the overcast. At that point it didn't matter.

The race course goes through a rural section of central Florida that does not resemble the "postcard" views. There are large stands of pine trees and cattle ranches. There were no spectators along the route except for the water stops and the cattle, who seemed to be less than interested in our race. Twice the Amtrak train between Orlando and Jacksonville went speeding past us.

I felt good from the sound of the starters horn. It is a "Champion Chip" timed race, but it is a "gun" time result. I doubt if it takes the last runner more than 30 seconds to cross the start line. I remember seeing the clock at mile one, 7:25 a bit quicker than I expected. Two miles, 15:30, three miles 23:23. I was concerned about averaging a sub 8:00 minute pace, but I continued to feel great. At six miles I was at 47:45. At nine miles I caught up to Erin from my training group, we passed nine miles at 1:13:00, just above an 8:00 minute pace. Although I had not told anyone, my time goal was 1:50, I was ahead of the pace necessary to achieve that. I took mile 10-11 a bit easier in order to have a strong finish. I reached twelve miles at 1:40, I had 10 minutes to run 1.1 miles. I ran strong and started a kick with about one-quarter of a mile left. I passed under the finish line clock at 1:48:45 a new PR, I had met my objective. I placed 3rd in my age group out of 14 and 49th overall.

Maybe I had found the "Fountain of Youth"!