Archive for category dc

An (Un)Important Decision

This will be brief.  As I’ve mentioned (and mentioned (and mentioned)), I’m considering running the National Half Marathon on March 20th.  Currently, the one factor holding me back is cost.  Here’s the breakdown:

PRO CON
No Travel $93 Registration
Finisher’s Medal $93 Registration
Great Sense of Accomplishment $93 Registration
Meet Up with Old Friend Wake Up Early on a Saturday

And there you have it.  A pretty unimportant decision to be made, and an over-the-top analysis of something that you couldn’t care less about.

So please vote!  And leave comments if you’re feeling generous 🙂

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Spring Has Sprung!

Ah, the wash of sunshine pouring over you after 3+ months of layers and confinement.  Few things are as underrated as sunshine to those who bask in its warmth year-round.  Granted, as a transplant from South Florida, I, too, took sunshine as an undeniable constant for a time.  As my northward migration has taken me through Nashville, and now DC, I have undone that expectation to wake up to the warmth of that lovable ball of burning gas.

Well, this past weekend, not two days after my last rambling about the cold weather, did we get a taste of a heatwave!  I know, I know, particularly as a native Floridian, 55* and sunny is no heatwave.  But when the temperature nearly doubles from the days prior, it is no less an event than an unseasonably snowy seasonal snowstorm.  It was glorious, and it really made me appreciate the beautiful weather after having been without for several months.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if I had a choice, it would be 55* and sunny every time I laced up my shoes.  Screw “appreciating it more”.  That’s just what you say when you’re a have-not.  Give me the warmth and leave the cold to the Canadians.  There are other bloggers out there that I follow who fall on each end of the spectrum, specifically in Michigan and Hawaii.  I’d guess that Frayed Laces wouldn’t give up Hawaii for anything, while Nitmos could live without the Michigan winter (with respect to training).  In fact, I imagine if you asked 100 endurance runners / triathletes, 99 of them would take the amazing year-round weather (and that 1 leftover guy is a liar).

Anyway, this past Sunday featured an outstanding long run that was to be a kind of pre-test for the National Half Marathon coming up.  It went really well, and actually made my decision to sign up for the race harder.  I was hoping I’d fall apart and use that as an excuse not to do National.  Instead, I hit a 7:31 pace for 11.5 miles, not far from the goal race pace.  Ugh, jerk.  So now I’m left wondering if I can take the results of that awesome run and shift them 2 weeks onto race day, or if I should just forget it anyway.  I’ll put up a poll in my next post for you, my lone reader, and see what you think.

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The Lull after a Marathon

Miami was my eighth (count ’em, 8 ) marathon.  After (almost) all of them I take about a week off and then hop right back into it.  This time is different, with no race on the calendar.  It’s rare for Mikey here to not have at least a few races on the horizon.  It provides motivation to train and just something to look forward to; a change of pace, no pun intended.  However, with a few “real-life” unknowns in the near future, I have restrained myself from registering for any races.  Since Miami, I took 2 weeks off from running completely.  I barely even ran to get across an intersection, let alone log any miles during that time.  And you know what?  It was nice.  Real nice.  Sleeping in, not worrying about when I’ll get out for 2+ hours to run, and just straight up relaxing.  Because let’s face it.. I relax like I run.  I relax hard.

Anyway, it’s been a weird month and change since the marathon.  The National Half Marathon is on March 20th here in the District, so I’ve been eying (apparently not spelled “eyeing”) it.  Alas, the registration fee is a bit steep at this point in the game.  Including tax, we’re talking almost ninety-three Washingtons.  For the fans of the Civil War, that’s almost nineteen Lincolns or nearly two Grants (I suspect if the South had won, Bob E. Lee would be on the Fifty, wouldn’t he?  Go North, ftw!).  I’ll have more to follow regarding the National Half.  But at least, you, as my only reader, know what I have been up to.  So, thank you for your continued readership and maybe someday it will double!  A boy can dream…

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March is Spring …pause… NOT

The title of this post is a subtle Borat reference.  If you haven’t seen Borat, well, don’t worry about the title.  Also, I think you should update your Netflix queue now.  Basically, I mean that it is March, so where’s the Spring-like weather?  My run today was 34 feels like 27 degrees.  Fahrenheit.

Now, I understand that we can’t actually say “Spring has sprung” until March 20, known as the Vernal Equinox (thanks to Wikipedia for knowing things like that so I don’t have to, kind of like my own personal external hard drive), but the fact that it is March 5th and my water bottle can still freeze is a bit unnerving.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the cold.  I just think the cold has it’s time, and that time is known as December, January, and February.  I expect, nay, demand that the cold cease and desist at once to allow flowers to bloom and running tights to be put away.  Alas, this is unlikely in the next few days because there are still pockets of icy snow on the ground from that Ice Age 2.o we experienced a month ago.

So, Old Man Winter, scoot yourself northward, and know that I will be heading out each morning wishing for global warming to get here sooner*.

The Details

Regular 7.5 Mile Run:

Distance: 7.65 miles
Time: 59:50
Pace: 7:49 min/mile
Average HR: 162 bpm

*And by global warming I mean Spring.

Gypsy! Give me your tears! If you will not give them to me, I will take them from you!  (another Borat reference)

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First Date, Part 2

Picking up where Part 1 left off, the other concern I had with a new running compatriot would be pace.  I mean, who knows how fast someone named “Ben” would run?  Is a Ben faster than a Mike?  Where does that compare to a Colin, or even, say, a Derrick??  Oh boy, what had I gotten myself into?  At least his name wasn’t Mebrahtom.  Mebs are fast.

What? Ok, so we met up at the water fountain and started up some treacherous hills.  As one astute reader noted (Colin), the pace of yesterday’s snow-filled hill run wasn’t exactly slow.  And that’s what I want to talk about.  While we were battling up hills and dodging abominable snowmen, I talked about how I just finished the Miami Marathon, which was my 8th.  He mentioned he was targeting a marathon in his hometown in NY in September, and said there was a $100 prize.  ???  I asked Ben if he had run any marathons and he mentioned just one.  When he was 17… I’m thinking, “wow, are you going to say how you fell apart?”  Not so much.  I asked his time in his one marathon, when he was 17 years old.. 2:38.  What!?

That’s almost an hour faster than my fastest!  He is confident he’ll win the marathon in September.  I then realized something that hadn’t crossed my mind.  Ben is faster than Mike.  He explained that he was a member of his D-1 track team for the last 2 years, and ran a 4:08 minute mile.  He wanted to meet up to run because he finds he goes out way too fast.  Like, his first mile of a typical training run is in the ballpark of 5:20 min / mile.  Wow, so as it turned out, running with me would be like walking in a tar-filled sandpit.  So I not-so-jokingly said that we could get together when I’m doing tempo runs and he has recovery runs.  Ouch, my pride, it hurts.

So, we’ll see how long this running relationship lasts.  It may come down to a “it’s not you, it’s me” and him running away from commitment slower people like me.  It’s definitely worth meeting up a few more times, but I think that we’re looking for different things from a running relationship.

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First Date, Part 1

Admittedly I am no pro at first dates.  In fact, where it matters, I’ve really only had one 🙂  In other contexts, there have been a few here and there, like a “first date” playing racquetball or a “first date” with destiny.  Anyway, Tuesday I had a rendezvous with a fellow DC runner, we’ll call him “Ben”.  I put out a “Anyone need a running buddy?” on MapMyRun.com like 11 months ago, and he responded last Thursday.  Fashionably late, I guess.  We ultimately decided to meet Tuesday morning at 6:45am at a mutually known water fountain.  I had two concerns from the outset: Snow and Pace.

For the snow, I wasn’t sure how clear the paths would be after the snowpocalypse snOMGasm snowmaggedon winter weather we’ve had over the last 2 weeks.  As I set out for the 2 mile journey to get to the water fountain, I opted for the road more traveled, fearing that my usual path would be under 18 inches of packed ice.  It was a good choice, though it involved more traffic lights and slow-moving pedestrians (read: walkers).  Made it to the water fountain only 2 or 3 minutes late, but Ben was there waiting.  Feeling bad, I didn’t want to make him wait around any longer, so we shook hands and immediately discussed where to go.  Quick agreement about most paths probably not being passable, we decided to go up.

From the outset, it was uphill seemingly forever.  Having only run once on a treadmill for 2 miles since the Miami Marathon (which didn’t require much hill training itself), it would not have been my first choice.  But hills ranked higher than uncleared ice shelfs similar to what sank the Titanic.  Between dodging patches of ice and climbing hills, there wasn’t a lot of small talk.  I learned he graduated high school the same year I graduated college (yikes!) and that he pulled an all-nighter writing a paper the night before and came straight from the library to meet me for a run (hardcore!).  We followed the roads, letting the amount of snow dictate where we turned.  Seemed like a good idea until we got a little lost… so my 5-6 mile run turned into almost 8.

As for my concern about pace, well that’ll have wait for another post.

It was fun to have someone to run with, and it definitely motivated me to get out the door in the first place.  I think we’ll be meeting up again, though not sure when yet though, so stay tuned!

Distance: 7.77 miles
Time: 1:05:38
Pace: 8:27 min/mile
Average HR: 162 bpm

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Welcome to Miami

The ING Miami Marathon was Sunday in hell Miami.  It was hot and humid, which I would expect for Florida, though I was hopeful for some sort of mercy.  Well, mercy came in the form of 93% humidity, 72 degrees at the start, and cloudy. Thanks for the clouds?  Anyway, Colin and Barrett woke up at 3:30am with me, and we all got into the car by 4am to head down to Miami.  They were troopers, considering Colin and I picked Barrett up at the airport at 3:30am the night before.  They picked up some sign making materials at the Expo on Saturday, but wouldn’t let me know what they’d say.  The suspense!

A few pre-race observations:

  1. People in Miami wear less clothing than the average race participants
  2. Starting a race at 6am means that you see many people still out from the night before. Very drunk.
  3. Homeless people in Miami are much scarier than homeless people in DC
  4. Slow people line up in front of fast people no matter what state the race is in

After parting ways with Colin and Barrett I found myself next to some old lady (see #4 above).  The race started on time and surprisingly smoothly.  For the uninitiated, trying to get 14,000 people moving from a standstill can be difficult.  It’s kind of like bumper-to-bumper traffic, where you start going, get excited that you’re making progress, and then slam on the brakes to avoid a fender bender.  Well I didn’t have to worry about bending any fenders on this day.  I did, however, have to take a pit stop about 0.4 miles into the race, which hurt the first mile split, but you can’t argue with nature.  Pretty quickly my energy began to drain, blamed on the humidity, because what’s a race report without blaming something on the elements.  I made it through the first 10 miles pretty smoothly, running down South Beach (where more people were still out from Saturday night, see #2 above), though there was another stop.  Around mile 10 I heard my name (though “Mike” isn’t really the same as if my name were “Cosmo”) so I looked over my shoulder and saw someone I went to high school with (also named Mike.. see what I mean? Cosmo.)  We briefly chatted before the race, just saying that we should meet up, but it never happened.  We caught up on life as much as you can while running through a rain forest and knowing you still have to run 16 miles.  I continued on after about a 1/2 mile back on pace, but it was so just so random that it had to be told.

I planned to see Colin and Barrett a little after Mile 12 and then a little after Mile 13.  This was what I was waiting for, getting to see the clandestine (SAT word) signs.  I saw Colin and then Barrett about the same time they saw me, about 100 yards away holding signs over their heads.  Both are pretty much just inside jokes, so after all this hype, you won’t give a “lol” or even a courteous “ha”.  Anyway, Colin’s said “3:27:28 Or I’m Still Faster”, referring to how he beat me in Chicago by 34 seconds.  That got him a nice little spray from my water bottle.  Barrett’s was less of a jab saying “Mikey: 8 | Barrett: 0”, as this was my 8th marathon and he’s run none (yet).  I rounded a few corners and the Half Marathon course split off to finish, leaving far fewer runners on the course with me, and far fewer fans on the sidelines.

From there I headed south for what seemed like 100 miles through very pretty neighborhoods.  I caught a bit of a runner’s high from about mile 14 through mile 18 at which point I said hello to every police officer directing traffic and every spectator out watching the race.  At one point pair of runners pulled over to answer their phone.. Nature was calling.. but rather than a porta-potty they found nothing. They pretty much stopped next to a wall and became friends with that wall very quickly.  About 50 yards away was a couple families watching the race, and two young girls (12 years old?) saw what was happening, whispered to each other, and laughed while turning away.  I called them out on it and shouted “You don’t need to look!”, resulting in immediate embarrassment as their faces turned red as an embarrassed twelve year old girl.

As I was nearing the finish, around Mile 23, there’s a little out-and-back onto a bridge where we went half way across the bridge and then turned around.  As you turn onto the bridge, it begins to curve and the only thing you focus on is the 90 degree incline.  The bridge just goes straight up about 200 feet.  Well, it would seem that the race director has a sense of humor.  As you approach the rockclimbing wall of a bridge, you start to see there’s an underpass that loops around under the incline, flat as a pancake.  I didn’t find it amusing, though I was grateful for the turn of events.  I saw Colin and Barrett one more time right at Mile 26 as I approached the finish and picked up the pace as much as I could.  Though I probably lost 14 pounds of sweat during this steam room marathon, I finished strong and got the medal.  And let’s face it, that’s what matters.  I had to take 3 pictures of this one, because it might be the coolest one ever.  It spins!  Twice! My finishing time was 3:35:45, about 7 minutes slower than Chicago, but the conditions were much tougher.  I did run the second half 5 minutes faster than the first, which impressed me, and should impress you too!

The Details:

2010 Miami Marathon:

Course

Distance: 26.2 miles
Time: 3:35:45
Pace: 8:14 min/mile
Finishing Position 273 out of 2913 (top 9.4%)

Miami Medal Front

Miami Medal Double Spin

Miami Medal Single Spin

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