Friday, January 25, 2013

A Day in the Life

Ten miles with Dr. Mike before lunch.

It's got salmon. Fish is good for you.

Six miles with Alex before a quick visit to Dr. Ness. Then Zagi's for dinner.

It's got sausage. Sue me.

The beer is an Belgian-style Dubbel from Captain Lawrence. Excellent.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Usually at the start of the new year I'm pretty quick to add up my mileage from the previous 12 months.  Sometimes I'll even do it a few days in advance, in case I need to squeeze in a few extra miles to hit some nice round number for the year.  The holidays this year were a bit harried, however, and I didn't even get a chance to add up 2012 until last week.

So, there it is.  3103 miles.  Considering the beginning of my year, I can't complain too much.  I had a sacral stress fracture in the middle of December 2011 and didn't run a step in 2012 until February; I didn't crack 250 miles for the year until the first week of April.  The 1023 miles in the first six months of the year was my second-lowest six-month total dating back to 1997.  So, to have a solid 2080 miles from July 1st on--my best six-month stretch since early 2010--was a nice finish to the year.  The total is my lowest since 2008, but all in all, given the extended recovery time early on, I'm more or less satisfied.

And yes, I know tracking yearly mileage is passe, arbitrary, meaningless, and probably counterproductive.  I don't care.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some food for thought

Apples are my favorite fruit because they are delicious and nutritious.
I love tomatoes! They are so healthy.
Juice is healthy for you, but only if you drink it sometimes.
Sometimes veggies don't taste so good a little, like spinach, but they're still nutritious.
Milk is healthy.  It's a good drink to drink!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Recover from the Holidays 50K

Training has been going pretty well recently.  After a decent race at the Blues Cruise 50K in October, I was able to recover quickly and build up my mileage; I ran just over 500 miles between Thanksgiving and the new year, with a few decent if unspectacular workouts mixed in.  This stretch of solid training gave me some confidence heading into the Recover from the Holidays 50K last weekend.

The RFTH is a fat ass-style event hosted by Pete Colaizzo and Charlie Sprauer of the Mid Hudson Road Runners.  The course is ten laps of a 5K paved out-and-back with two short climbs.  It's been held the first Saturday in January for the past 18 years and is a great test of early-season fitness in a nice low-key, low-intensity setting.  In 2011 I ran 3:53 for the win, which set me up for a pretty successful first half of the year.  This year I thought I could run closer to 3:45, maybe even under 3:40 if everything broke well.

Things didn't start well though, as I wound up stuck with a shift at the hospital Friday night which I couldn't get out of. The shift ended at 3am and I was finished with my work around 4, so rather than drive home and then back to Dutchess County just a few hours later, I grabbed one of the unused OB/GYN call rooms and snuck about two and a half hours' sleep. Not an ideal race prep! But by the time we lined up for the 9 am start I was feeling more awake than asleep, at least.

I took the lead immediately at the start and knew within two minutes that unless I completely crashed, I'd be able to secure a win; the only person with me was my friend Ian, owner of the excellent specialty store Finger Lakes Running Company. Ian was in town on business and was staying at my house for the weekend; I knew he was only planning on two laps and that I'd be on my own pretty soon. By the time we reached the halfway point of lap 1, we already had close to a minute on the chase pack.

Look out!  Heel strike!
Photo: Bob Kopac

My initial plan was to run 22:00 per 5K lap, which works out to a 3:40; this seemed pretty reasonable. Ian was feeling good though and we fell into a nice tempo while we chatted, coming through 5K in 21:30. No panic, but I made a conscious decision to try to slow down on lap 2. Didn't work: 21 flat. Ian was nice enough to tack on a third loop, and we came through the 15K after another 21:30 in 64 minutes, two minutes ahead of schedule.

Photo: Bob Kopac

As Ian peeled off, I let myself ease off the gas a bit and settled into what felt like a nice sustainable tempo. If I could find 22 minutes now, and settle into a rhythm, I'd be set. I was definitely feeling good, though, because the laps just kept coming in the 20:45-21:30 range. The second 15K was a 1:03, good for a 2:07 30K split, a full five minutes ahead of 3:40 pace. By the middle of lap seven, though, I was starting to feel a bit of strain, and knew that my effortless day was about to get much more difficult.

People think an ultra on a multi-loop course is boring, or demoralizing, and though it can get repetitious, I kind of like it. Laps make it very easy to find your rhythm and gauge your progress. Mentally it can actually feel easier to run a lap course; rather than think about how long you have to go, it's much easier to focus on each lap individually. You can do this on a single-loop or point-to-point course as well--"Just get to the next aid station"--but it's very comforting to know exactly how long each lap is and how far you have to go at all times. The out-and-back made this even easier, with the added benefit of being able to track the progress the competition.

By the start of lap 7 I had about 15 minutes on second place and nearly 20 minutes on third. I didn't know either runner, but both looked pretty strong, and they were both still on pace to run close to, or under, four hours, an excellent time. At this point I started playing some mental games to try to keep myself focused on the pace. By now I was committed to holding 21:00-21:30 per lap for as long as I could. I drew motivation from the prospect of my iPod. I wouldn't turn it on, I promised myself, until either I ran a lap over 22 minutes, or I had lapped second and third place.

Ten minutes later I lapped third, starting to strain a bit but still feeling pretty smooth. Another 21:15.  Lap eight, 40K, almost a marathon now. Tightening a bit, but still strong; another 21:15. Finishing up the eighth lap I saw second place resting at the aid station for a few minutes and breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally able to fire up the iPod.

Starting to feel it a bit.
Photo: Bob Kopac
Over the final two laps I started to struggle, especially on the hills, which were not terribly long but after the eighth or ninth time through were getting pretty annoying.  My ninth lap was my slowest of the race (only by about 20 seconds or so) and, powered by Springsteen's "Better Days" and Titus Andonicus' "Ecce Homo" over the final circuit, I finished with a 21:30  for a 3:32:08, sixth-fastest in race history.

Overall I was very pleased, holding extremely even splits (1:45:45/1:46:23) during a basically solo effort on limited sleep and taking in just three GUs over the course of the race.  All in all, a great start to the season and a solid confidence-booster for my next race, the USATF 50K Championships at Caumsett Park in March.

Much thanks to Pete and Charlie for a great event.  Not many folks would give up a Saturday to take splits in the cold for a free fat-ass race every January for 18 years.  This is a great event to have on the local calendar.  Only 16 finishers of the full distance this year (about the norm), but over 100 people showed up to run at least a couple of laps and get their weekend long run in.  Also thanks to Jason Bellamy, who again provided long-sleeve t-shirts to all finishers--a nice perk for a race with no entry fee!

Salad people

This is a picture of a salad person.  I made it with my mom and sister.  We got the recipe from my cookbook, which is also called "Salad People (and More Real Recipes)."  It is a very healthy snack.  It is made from: sliced pears and apples, yogurt, carrot sticks, pasta, grapes, blueberries, and peas.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hi from Lexi

Me and my dad want to inspire people with our writing. I hope people learn
how to eat healthy, and stay active. In 2nd grade, we are learning about nutrition
and I want to help others eat healthy.


Monday, January 7, 2013

What's all this, then?

I'm not much of a talker, but I can talk running all day.  And I usually do.  Which my wife loves.  So, in the interest of my not getting divorced, I've been toying with the idea of a blog where I can randomly vent to people I don't live with about running in general and my running in particular.

Today, my older daughter, Lexi, came off the school bus and told me that she wanted to start a website about eating healthy.  Now, my wife is an excellent cook (I love you honey!) and does a great job of providing our family with what I think is a very healthy diet at home.  Having said that, no one who knows me would pick "healthy eater" among the first thousand or so adjectives used to describe me.  So, then, a website where my daughter talks about healthy eating while I talk about running and, more likely than not, unhealthy eating--that seems like a natural fit.

And now here we are.  So let's not get our hopes up, people.  We're not going to be dispensing any earth-shattering advice or knowledge.  I know next to nothing about eating or cooking healthy, and I don't much care to; if you're looking for anything more insightful than "Vegetables are good for you" or a list of my kids' favorite foods, you're probably out of luck.  I mean, if you're going to be taking nutritional advice from a seven-year-old who'd prefer to eat macaroni and cheese seven days a week, then I don't know what to tell you.  Hell, I'm not even going to vouch for any of the running stuff on here, since I'm drinking a beer right now and probably will be every time I write in this thing.  But, it'll be fun.  I'll put some race reports up, maybe some product reviews when I come across stuff I like; we'll throw up some pictures of Lexi's healthy meals and my unhealthy ones.  Maybe my wife will post some recipes and make this almost like a real blog that people would want to read.  Who knows.  There's a ton of crap on the internet.  A little more can't hurt, even if most of the fats wind up being polyunsaturated.