Friday, January 29, 2010

The advantages of being a slow runner . . .

In the last year or so, I have become increasingly aware of the multiple advantages of being one of the runners at the "back of the pack."  In my earlier years I was a "mid-packer," running marathons in 4 hours or so.  I knew things were different for me then the guys and gals at the front, but the differences weren't all that evident.  But in the last few years, my pace has been slowing considerably.  Most of you faster runners just don't know what you're missing!  Here are a few advantages of slowing it down . . .

  • For me and my "back of the pack" buddies, a "day of fun" stretches out sooooo much further!  As a front runner in a marathon, a front runner only gets to run 2 1/2 hours, or maybe 3 hours . . or maybe even 4 hours.  But my buddies and I get to continue on at least another hour and half!  And races don't even charge us for all the extra fun!
  • In fact, races actually reward me for running slow!!!  If a marathon entry costs $100 and you only run 2 1/2 hours it cost you 66 cents per minute to run.  But for us "back of the packers," the price drops to 28 cents per minute . . . a discount of almost 58%!!  This is HUGE!  So . . . running for us "back of the packers" is much more economical!
  • We get a greater opportunity to develop our pain tolerances for much longer durations.  I'm sure it must hurt to run a 50k in 4 hours . . . and that is quite an accomplishment if you do that!  But imagine the feeling of of accomplishment you would have if you continue on and endured the pain for twice that long!  (Hope this doesn't sound like bragging!!).  I would even run slower to develop even MORE tolerance, but race directors seem to be trying to limit how good us slow runners can become by instituting the dreaded "cut-off" times, meant to limit our fun and somehow limit our pain-tolerance development.
  • As a "back of the packer" I've learned to be VERY flexible and self-sufficient!  Front runners NEVER have to deal with comments like, "Sorry, but we ran out of gels about an hour ago . . . maybe they will have more at the next stop!"  (By the way, the next stop NEVER has any either!!).  And it becomes even more exciting when all the fluid are gone and you still have 30 more minutes to endure . . . er . . 30 more minutes of fun to enjoy!  At my last 50k race (where I was the last runner . . . but still beat the cut-off by 30 minutes!) they had: 1) packed up all "eats", 2) had run out of gatorade and 3) had two, four ounce cups of water waiting on me!  You "front runners" never get to practice your patience and flexibility like this!
  • Also, as a "back of the packer" I learned to be appreciative of the little things!  Like at this same last 50k race, they ran out of finishers awards . . . but managed to scrape up something to present me with at the finish line.  I really did appreciate the extra effort . . . they could have just had nothing!  At another race, they presented finisher with special finisher shirts . . . but unfortunately they had run out by the time me and ":my buds" finished!  Heck . . . we've already got plenty of shirts!
Now I'm not trying to "knock" you fast folks.  I'm sure you still enjoy your runs too!  And I believe there is a place in running for you.  But I have to admit, I can't help but have a certain feeling of superiority . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How long is a "long run"???

Opinions differ.  Guess it depends on where you are in your training.  I sure remember days when a 6 mile run was a long one!  I also remember when a 15 mile run was just a "chip shot!"

Well, today,the answer is simple!  Today, a long run was only 13 miles!  When I headed out this afternoon, I thought a long run would probably be 18-20 miles . . . but I was wrong!

The run felt great!  I had a blast and felt really strong . . . but my new shorts started chafing me!  Plus, I'm planning to do the Fall Lake Run next weekend . . . not sure what I'll do.

Marathon?  Or 50K?  Not sure.  Definitely not the 50 miler!  Then, the next weekend I'm doing the Uhwarrie 20 miler. (Got to admit I wish I had signed up for the 40 mile run.)  So, I'm thinking either marathon or 50k next weekend, then the 20 mile run at Uhwarrie.  Should be fun no matter what I do next weekend!

The day after Uhwarrie,  I'm flying to Denver.  Then, over to Vail to spend a few days with my daughter, Laurie.  Can't wait!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Frosty WAS Frosty!

Nothing funny or clever to say about the 2009 Frosty 50k . . . this one was a challenge!  Not because of a tough course, but the temperature and winds made the race just work.  Hard work.

17* at 8am when the race started.  31* when I finished . . . and it got as hot as 35*!  The Frosty 50k was definitely well named!  No wind at the start, but by 9:30 or so the winds kicked up.  Not terribly strong but they just cut through you and made the temperatures seems even colder.  But no snow on the ground!

I made fairly good clothing choices and was prepared for the temps (and the mid-day wind!).   I was never really uncomfortable.  Tights, nylon shell pants, three tech shirts, gloves, a wind shirt, toboggan and a balacava!  But there were two or three fools out there that actually wore shorts!!

Usually before the start of a race, you have a chance to visit some with friends you've made at other races.  But for this one, everyone stayed in their cars until 5 minutes before the start!  Still, I happened to find myself standing next to Michelle Hepler, someone I had met at last year's Frosty 50.  Other than Michelle, I only saw Eric Chatham and Ron Fleming (we had shared a motel room the night before!).  It was only later on the course that I saw the others!

 Here is a picture of Michelle and her friends at about mile 8 (Michelle is the one in orange!)

I'm learning the joys of a different side of running . . . cutoff times!

For the uninformed, most marathons and ultramarathons establish a set cut-off time that a runner must finish by.  For Frosty, we had to finish within 8 hours.  Really a gracious plenty!  And I ended up beating the cutoff by 30 minutes . . . but it was on my mind from mile 23 on!

Up to that point I really felt I was running good!  I usually use my watch to remind me of my intervals, but at Frosty with all the clothes I couldn't hear my watch going off!  So I honestly hadn't looked at the time or my pace all day up until mile 23.

That's when I ran into the wall . . . and hit it HARD!  Lucky I didn't break my nose!  When I did look at my watch I was shocked!  I had already been out there almost 5 1/2 hours!  I honestly felt like it should have been 5 hours.  I should have been at 26 by this time!  Don't know where the time went!

Finished the last 8 miles with Paul Pickett . . . my new friend from Sanford, NC.  Paul had run further in a 24-hour race, but had never done a 50k with a cutoff.  I believe we inspired each other and finished together . . . the last two finisher of the 2009 Frosty 50k!  (Sorry but the camera lens got wet from my sweat and froze up some!)

Here are some more pictures from Frosty:

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.