Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Friday, March 23, 2012

Discovering the Joys of PRing though Intervals

After a two and a half week hiatus, I'm finally back after running a 15K and a marathon, but more on them in a minute.  For the first time ever, I tried running intervals during the Gate River Run.  I repeated the experiment during the marathon the next week.    Even though I had never tried them before (and I know that generally you shouldn't add something new on a race day) I found that I actually enjoyed running them.  During the GRR, I ran a 5-minute run, 1-minute walk interval. The next week I decided to walk with a friend who was doing a 9-minute walk, 1-minute run interval.  I think I will try to pick up the pace a bit for my next race, but for the Shamrock it was probably just what I needed.  One final general observation, which goes for both races;  I was really surprised just how many people were wearing their race shirts during the races, though there were fewer in Jacksonville than in both Virginia Beach races.  Wearing a race shirt in the race is generally a sign of a rookie; it just isn't done.

The view of Jacksonville from the Hart Bridge above the St. Johns River.

The Gate River Run was on Saturday March 10.  It started and finished at the Gator Bowl in downtown Jacksonville, FL.  The elite women were given a seven-minute head start over the elite men.  This allowed two women to cross the finish line before the first men, though the fastest man turned in a faster chip time by over six minutes.  The men's division winner was Mo Trafeh, one of the U.S. representatives to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  I got his picture, but I couldn't quite work up the nerve to actually meet him.  I guess I'm turning into a running geek.

As for my race, suffice it to say, I was not one of the elite runners. I started well back of the elites.  I got off to a good pace. The first two miles were sub 13-minute miles.  The next two were sub 14. After that, I started losing time. I lost a lot of time getting up and over the Hart Bridge.  The Hart Bridge, which is incorporated in the design of the medal, is a very tall bridge over the St. Johns River.  Overall, though, I was reasonably pleased with my time of 2:14:08.  At least that was the time on my watch.  Unfortunately, when I pulled up my official time, somehow my chip time and the gun time was identical, even though I crossed the start line long after the gun sounded.  No matter though, whatever time I ran was a PR since I had never run a 15K race before.

The Beach/Boardwalk as seen from my room.

The next weekend I was off to Virginia Beach for my second marathon.  Course: I wasn't sure what to expect.  Between injury, illness and occasional bouts of laziness, I had horribly undertrained for this race.  I was excited to finally meet some of the other members of Running of the Ears, known as ROTErs.  Most of the other ROTErs were running the half.  The consensus was that because of the variety of schedules arriving in VA Beach, that a meet up before the race would be better.  I went to dinner the night before at Mannino's Italian Bistro (  It was a ways off the beach, but it is the best Italian food I can remember having.  Anyone going to VA Beach would be well served to try this place.  I went back to the room and stayed up too late watching Louisville beat New Mexico in the NCAA tournament; totally worth it though.  I got up early the next morning to watch the start of the half marathon and to search (in vain as it turned out) for some of the other ROTErs.  It occurred to me that, never having met them, looking for them in a crowd of over 15,000 people would be problematic.  I did recognize a few of them as they crossed the start line, though.  After the half went off, I made my way back toward the start line of the marathon.  I knew that there was one ROTEr that I felt confident I could find.  We were in the same corral and the number of marathoners was much smaller that the half marathon field.  Nonetheless, it took until only about 5 minutes remaining before the start of the race before I found Janice.  Her intended pace meshed well with my undertraining; also I wanted to have a race partner.  It turned out to be a good idea.  I was undertrained, and on antibiotics for a lingering case of bronchitis. Add to that the fact that my hips started bothering me about halfway through the race, and I'm not sure I could/should have gone any faster than I did.

We started out running until the field thinned out and, largely, left us behind.  Once we weren't getting in anyone's way, we started into intervals of 9 minutes walking with 1 minute running.  The first half of the course largely mirrors the course of the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon that is held each year during Labor Day weekend. We started at 33rd St and Atlantic Ave heading south. The first half contains the only significant bit of elevation, the bridge over the Rudee inlet. The course continues past the Virginia Aquarium, through Camp Pendleton (not the one in California) and then back onto the Boardwalk.  Leaving the Boardwalk, we returned to Atlantic Avenue at 22nd St. and headed north past the Half Marathon start, roughly the halfway point of the race.  The race ran up the Beach to Fort Story.  I was very much looking forward to reaching Fort Story.  My friend Tiffani, from my old high school church youth group is living at Fort Story. Tiffani said that she would be out watching the runners come through.  When I got there, I discovered that her kids had made me a sign. I have fans... who knew?  We stopped for a minute or so and then we were off again.  We left the Fort and headed south; back toward the finish.  Upon leaving the fort, we saw the first numbered street sign. There were only about 50 blocks remaining.  We ran through several groups of cheering volunteers as we neared the turnoff for the Boardwalk.  As we were just about to make the final turn, we saw several more ROTErs who had run the half waiting for us cheering.  We made the final turn and saw the finish line just beyond the Neptune statue.  We ran on and, for the first and only time all day, separated so that I could ensure that I PRd.  I finished about a minute ahead of Janice.  We both set new PRs.


A sign for me.  Almost makes me feel like a real runner.

Even though I was running only about 10% of the time, I still posted a better time than I did at the WDW marathon.  Part of that is due to some of the picture taking I did in Disney World.  However, I logged a much better time on the back half of this marathon that I did on the back half of Disney World; and I think that this is due, in no small part, to the intervals I ran.  In the coming weeks, I'm going to start experimenting a bit more with intervals as the group I'm hoping to run the Marine Corps Marathon with will be running 1 minute running, 1 minute walking intervals.

All in all, I enjoyed running in Virginia Beach.  There are stretches that are pretty boring; especially the stretch alongside a swamp on the backside of Fort Story. Most of the run was enjoyable; especially the parts near the water.  Once we got onto Fort Story, it turned out to be very pretty.  Fort Story, for all you history buffs out there, contains the site where the first English Settlers set foot in Virginia.  It also has two very picturesque lighthouses. 

The thing that was most enjoyable about it, though, was having a running partner.  I got to spend seven hours hanging out and progressing through a 26.2 mile course making a new friend; that's pretty cool.  Moreover, that's the kind of thing that running with a group like ROTE promotes.  VA Beach was my first race with other ROTErs and I could not be more excited to run with them again.  I'll get a chance to run with them in a number of other races this year including, Dover AFB Half, Baltimore Ten Miler and Half Marathon, Philly RnR Half, MCM, and of course the Disneyland Half and Walt Disney World Goofy.  I got to meet more ROTErs after the race.  ROTErs Megan, Jen and Lauren were waiting and cheering near the final turn.  They came and found us at the finish line after Janice and I completed our Marathons.  After we had time to clean up, we met for dinner at Baja Cantina on 23rd st (another spot that gets two thumbs up from me).  One of these days, I will get around to writing a post where I will wax poetic about the wonders of Running of the Ears.  For now, I'll just say that ROTE is a terrific site for those who enjoy running, love Disney, and want a place to meet and be encouraged by people with similar interests. We ate and hung out for about two and a half hours before we broke up and returned to our hotels and got ready to return to real life.

Fast forward a few days. I got back out on the track yesterday and ran a mile.  This may not sound like much, but this is much sooner than I usually return to running.  It's usually more like a full week between a half marathon and my next run.  It was two weeks between the WDW marathon and my next run.  I felt a bit sore but good overall.  I'm very hopeful I can keep fitness level up going forward. My next race is the Pike's Peek 10K in Rockville at the end of April with my next half marathon in June in Dover DE.  In between, I'll be squeezing in a trip to London and Rome.  Not sure how I'll squeeze in some running to stay on track, but it's a good problem to have.

One final postscript: In one of the most baffling ad campaigns I've ever seen, Pearl Izumi, a running gear company based out of Japan, has succeeded in ensuring that I will never buy anything bearing their name; even if I eventually work my way into their targeted demographic.  To see the ad that just came out check out fellow ROTEr Beth's blog:  In short, Pearl Izumi is calling out marathoners that run a 7 hr marathon (a time that I'm just slightly below) as moseyers that are not giving the race their all.  Leaving aside the stupidity of alienating a demographic that is much larger than the elite marathoners who comprise a very small portion of each race's field, who are they to say that just because we are running at a slower pace than Boston qualifiers that we are not giving it our all.  I find this to be incredibly insulting both on my behalf, and on behalf of many runners who do give it their all to finish at six hours and above.  It is not easy to be on your feet for nearly seven hours; it took me until Tuesday to resume walking without me feet feeling sore.  I don't care for boycotts, as I generally don't like the idea of squelching speech in the marketplace of ideas.  However, in this case, Pearl Izumi has clearly stated that they do not want business from people like me.  I'm more than happy to take their hint.    

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


This will be a short post with getting ready to leave first thing tomorrow to head down to Florida.  I registered today for the Marine Corps Marathon.  I only worked a half day so that I could be at my computer when registration opened at 3:00 this afternoon.  After a six mile run, I got home about 2:30 and began waiting for registration to open.  As it turned out, registration opened about twelve minutes early.  I registered immediately so that I'd be sure to have a spot, for peace of mind.  However, I didn't think that it was too urgent since it took 28 hours last year for the race to sell out.  About three hours later, the MCM website posted that they had sold out, much to my stunned surprise.  I expect that in the coming years they are going to have to implement some sort of lottery or qualifying standard.  Good thing they haven't this year.

This weekend I'm off to Jacksonville, FL to visit family and run the Gate River Run on Saturday.  The River Run starts at the Gator Bowl stadium and continues 9.3 miles through downtown Jacksonville on both sides of the St. Johns River.  For those interested in seeing a course map: The course finishes just beyond the bridge in the picture.  I hope have a race recap up sometime later in the weekend, though I may not have it up until I get back.