Posts Tagged colin

Elevate Your Game

When training for, well, anything, the saying goes “Sweep the leg” “Practice makes perfect”.  I take this very seriously, at least when it works out in my favor to make a point even though I didn’t realize it.  Case in point, for the upcoming San Antonio Marathon, several of my recent long runs have serendipitously followed a similar elevation profile to the race elevation.  Take a look at the comparison below.  On top is the marathon elevation and the bottom is the elevation for my recent 20 mile run.  I mean, come on. They’re nearly identical*!  I’m so awesome.

So, in an effort to stir up some trash talk, I think Colin is going to be in some trouble to be as prepared as me for this race.  Nevermind he’s coming off an injury, unsure how he’ll hold up over the entire race distance, and doing a 13-week training plan versus my 18-week plan.  No mercy!  Well, actually, we’ll probably run together the majority of the race**.  I’m sure more accidental comparisons will present themselves as well as some professional trash talk, so stay tuned.

*For the skeptics and internet trolls out there, the vertical scale is the same for both graphs.

**At least until I see the opportunity to Tonya Harding him.  Good luck, Nancy.



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A First Time for Everything

In case you haven’t been keeping track of my life, I recently began working at National Instruments* in Austin.  It’s been a crazy whirlwind of information being thrown my way, but it’s starting to piece itself together in my head.  Just one of the adjustments necessary when moving to a company 70x larger than my last.  One of the benefits of a larger company is organized extracurricular activities!  Yesterday, we had a 3 Mile Fun Run.

As far as my (running) career has gone, the only “races” I’ve done have been longer distance (i.e. half and full marathons only).  No 5K or 10K races here.  So this 3 Mile Fun Run (note: not a 5K (3.1 miles)) is uncharted territory for these here legs.  I got some quick pointers from Colin (like “deeeeeeeeeefinitely warm up” and “don’t go out too fast”) and showed up to the sign-in table.

After a few important messages, like course directions, we lined up and were let loose.  The course itself was three 1-mile loops, each loop in the shape of a T.  We started at the bottom of the T, headed “north”, made a right, then a U-turn at the right end, ran til we made a U-turn at the left end, and then a right to head back “south” on the long part of the T. I should mention here that all registrants had to write down their expected finish time.  My estimated time was 20:59.  I diligently scanned the list and figured that if it all played out as expected, I’d come in 6th (out of 57 runners).

I warmed up a little by bouncing up and down.  At the start, I found myself in 3rd place and going much faster than my 7 minute/mile pace.  Sorry, Colin.. 0 for 2 on your tips.  Anyway, after the first lap, I found myself in first place!  All I could think was “when are these other guys gonna fly by me?”  After lap 2 I felt a sense of relief as I told myself “less than a mile to go!”  I kept looking over my shoulder, checking for someone to come up behind me.  During each of the U-turns I was able to gauge how much of a lead I had.  As the finish got closer, step by step, I started to realize that no one was going to pass me.

I crossed the line with a time of 18:54, over two minutes faster than my prediction!  In 1st place!  That’s a lot better than 3649th place that I got at the Chicago Marathon.  No word yet if I actually win a prize, but it was cool just to come in first!  Not gonna lie, when we were getting the instructions before the race about the course, I was thinking that only the person in first needs to know where to go.

P.S. – It’s worth noting, this doesn’t mean I’m the fastest person at NI.  It just means I was the fastest person to sign up and participate in this race fun run.

*No, we don’t make calculators.  That’s Texas Instruments.



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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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:


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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Colin Watch, Day 2

Well boys and girls, things are looking bleak.  Most recently Colin tried out some sort of tape contraption that was going to help his IT Band issue.  Alas, it was worthless.  Some deep tissue massage is next on the regimen.  Hopefully that will show promising results.  We’re 11 days from Race Day, so we’ll see what happens.

Fingers crossed, or like I said yesterday, I’ll be running (solo).

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It’s officially Day 1 of Colin-watch.  Over the last week or two, his knee has been giving some trouble.  The worst part, it only hurts when he runs.  Now, for the 99.5% of people who are not going to run a marathon this year, that shouldn’t be a problem.  I mean, like any logical person would think “if it hurts only when you run, then don’t run”.  It’s not so easy for someone who is pushing 200 miles every month to just shut it down, especially with less than 2 weeks until the race.

If he doesn’t run the marathon, I’ll be doing it solo… so he better get over this knee business.


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Chicago!  Land of Opportunity!  Might’ve made that up, but it got the ball rolling.  Just got back from the Chicago Marathon and there’s lots to tell.  Let’s back things up a bit: exactly 15 days before the race we started checking out Accuweather for the preliminary weather report.  Nice!  50* and clear skies.  As the race approached, the weather was all over the place, so we gave up.   All told, it was unnecessary worry.  Race day came and the sky was clear.  Clear and 31 degrees…as in -2*C.  We headed out of the hotel in our gloves, hats, and 55-gallon trashbags for warmth.  We looked like a black, shiny Grimace.

Colin and I were in Corral B, starting in a reserved area for the top 5,000 runners.  That means we’d be chased by 35,000 people!  Talk about motivation!  We got special treatment by “qualifying” in a previous race, and not on our good looks like you probably assumed.  Understandable.  Our goal for the race was 3 hours 30 minutes.  My previous best was 3:37 and Colin’s was 3:43, both from last year’s Marine Corps.  We saw the 3:30-pace group (8-minute/mile) and decided to stick with them, no matter what.  Early on we focused on staying with the group and keeping warm.  Starting in downtown we got to run through the enormous buildings.  Unfortunately about half of the first mile is underground, effectively incapacitating all GPS watches and throwing off any reliable splits.

Luckily, we chose a hotel right on the course, so Ev and Brittany were able to fall out of the hotel to see us at mile 1.5.  They could scurry 3 blocks over to mile 2.5, and then run inside to stay warm.  Yay fan support!  (Note: After the race, they said we looked like crap early on.  We blamed it on the cold.)  Speaking of fan support, the entire 26.2 miles reminded me of the finish line of other races.  There were just so many people cheering the whole time, even in the semi-Ice Age weather.  The first 7 miles took us from skyscrapers to the burbs up by Lincoln Park.  To this point we were both feeling strong, but I pointed out that we should be feeling strong after only 8 miles, with another 18 to go.

On our way back into the city Colin and I found we were getting a little too far ahead of the pace group.  We took the opportunity to refill water bottles around mile 10 by walking the water stop and reloading.  By the time we were back up to pace, the group was only a few steps in front.  The pace group was less than consistent early on, which worried us a little; not so much that we’d be going too slowly, but more that we didn’t want to use too much energy early on.  I guess they felt our fears through some running ESP because they started hitting their splits.

We saw Ev and Brittany again at mile 12.5 for a much-needed boost!  From there we hit the half way point at exactly 1:45, which made me a little more nervous considering our track record of finishing long races (read: fall apart and struggle to walk…).  Into Greektown we saw some generic-named restaurants, Agora-this, Zeus-that.  It was actually the quietest part of the course as we got out near Malcolm X College.  Colin dropped back again to… get more comfortable, while I stuck with the pace group.  He actually caught up pretty quickly, around mile 16.  If I remember correctly, not much happened until mile 20, when Colin said that we can wait about 2 miles to see how we’re feeling and maybe pick up the pace.

BAM!  Felt like I got hit in the face with a 2-by-4 by the ridiculous crowd support entering Chinatown.  For a second I thought we actually ran into the REAL China based on the number of people.  I estimated there were anywhere between a few thousand and 1.4 billion people cheering us on.  Well that was all the motivation we needed to pick it up.

From mile 21 until the finish, every mile split got faster. We realized that’s how you’re supposed to run a race, and not do what we did in Nashville.  The miles (for me) went 7:53, 7:48, 7:47, 7:42, 7:29, 7:28.  Yes, I was able to finish the race with two sub-7:30 miles.  Makes you wonder if I had more in the tank.  Well stop wondering.  I didn’t.  During this time, Colin took off on me.  I could see him the whole time, but I couldn’t make my legs go fast enough to catch him.  He ended up finishing 34 seconds ahead of me.  In order to minimize his victory, it took him 12,448 seconds and it took me 12,482 seconds.  Virtually identical.

Chicago 09

I finished in 3:28:02, a full 2 minutes ahead of my goal and 9 minutes faster than my previous best!  Wow!  Amazing!  Out of sight!  Tubular!  Radical!  Colin finished in 3:27:28, an unheard of 16 minutes faster than his previous fastest time.  The race was great, the weather cooperated, and we both did exceptionally well!  Next on the docket is likely the Miami Marathon at the end of January.

The picture is straight, we just can't balance right now.

The picture is straight, we just can't balance right now.

The Details:

2009 Chicago Marathon:


Distance: 26.2 miles
Time: 3:28:02
Pace: 7:56 min/mile
Average HR: Didn’t wear HR Monitor

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