Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thompson Island 4K

This race is sponsored by my office building, Equity Office. I learned about it from the "Captivate" video screen in the elevator, which is a pretty cool gadget, great biz idea, I wonder if they're doing well, I haven't seen it elsewhere yet. It just cycles through weather, news, etc. with sponsored ad boxes, etc. It also helps solve the problem of what to do with your eyes in an elevator. The race is to benefit Outward Bound, a great organization which mostly helps kids by, Idunno, doing crap outdoors. Bill Rodgers helped create this event.

So I'd planned, tentatively, with a couple office mates to run this as a corporate team, but when I got back from Oregon they'd bagged out of it, so I went alone. Runners, 300 or so, were ferried from Rowe's Wharf, Boston to Thompson Island. Beautiful afternoon.

I knew Bill Rodgers would be there, as MC or whatever as he's very involved in this race, but I wasn't sure he was actually running. I spotted him before we got on the ferry, decked out in running gear. He looks exactly like he looks in photos/videos, just hanging out with (I later learned) his brother. To me, Bill is a major celebrity, I clearly remember his incredible string of 4 Boston and 4 NYC marathon wins from 1975 through 1980. I admire his obvious love for the sport, his reputation for being a nice easy going guy, but also being extremly competive on the roads, determined to bury his opponents when necessary, and continuing his running into his late 50's, inevitable falling times and all.

Ten minutes before the start, I'm at the urinal doing my pre-race business, and up steps none other than Bill Rodgers, peeing right next to me. Wow! On the way out, he just starts talking to me — have a good race, it's a great course, etc. — we start jogging together, he's giving me details/pointers about the course. I'm jogging and chatting with Bill Rodgers! Wow! Tells me specifically to be careful about footing as it's a very twisty cross country course with a variety of terrain, dirt, gravel, and uneven grass trails.

I'm hoping for very low 6:00 pace, and if lucky, sub-6:00. With a 5:52 pace 5K PR I figure that's at least a possibility. But this course turns out to be quite tough for me, I haven't run a cross country type course for many years, lots of tight turns, up, downs. Went out pretty fast, so did everyone else, tough getting through the crowds, not a lot of space, settled into low 6:00 pace, back/forth with a few runners in my pack, knew it would be over before I knew it, only 2.5 miles. Nailing the downhills, the uphills really tiring me.

Wish I could enjoy the course/view more, it seems nice but I'm running too hard to appreciate it. I sideswipe a pricker bush which rips across my scalp, bleeding, probably lost some hair on that. Nearing the end, the periodic uphills really tiring me. Then into the final half, flat, uneven grass, taking a turn I'm flying, and then, I'm on the ground. I fell, this can't be happening, I don't know how it happened, running one second, skidding across the ground on my left shoulder the next, rolled my right ankle bearing left. Probably better that I fell though; I think if I hadn't it may have somehow been more pressure/strain on my ankle.

I'm astounded at how quickly I was able to evaluate the situation, very few seconds, the ankle's okay, I'm okay, thank goodness, soft landing, the human body is amazing. No sooner am I down than I spring up and sprint into gear. The volunteer I fell pretty much in front of yells encouragingly "go get him!", referring to the guy I'd been running neck and neck with for the past mile. I can feel the ankle a little, but I think it's okay, very glad just a quarter or so to go, kick into gear, strong finish, but I couldn't catch the guy. Official finish was 15:32, 6:15 pace, 8th place out of 267. I figure I would have been 10+ seconds faster if I hadn't fallen, maybe 7th instead of 8th, I think I might have been able to outkick the number 7. Oh well. Decent race.

A little after, my friend Bill, comes up to me, asks how it went, we chat for 5 minutes or more, about the race, the course, I tell him about Hood to Coast, etc. I'm shooting the shit with Bill Rodgers. Wow! Tell him how I wiped out, feel a little stupid as this is exactly what he'd warned me about. He looks great, btw, I look it up later, he's 59 this year, I didn't realize he was quite that old, doesn't look a day over 49.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hood to Coast Relay 2006

Hood to Coast Relay, 2006. Just the facts for now.
Team:   Nike Dairy Airs
   12 males, ages 17-47
Distance:   197 miles
Start Time:   7:30:00 PM, Friday 25, 2006
Finish Time:   5:40:09 PM, Saturday 26, 2006
Time:   22:10:09 (6:45 average pace)
Overall Place:   42nd out of 1032
Division Place:   5th of 127 (Men's Corporate)
My legs:
LegStarted   Miles   Time   Pace
12   2:35 AM   5.97   39:14   6:34
24   10:35 AM   5.03   30:35   6:05
36   5:08 PM   5.22   32:45   6:16
Totals   —   16.22   1:42:34   6:19

I love this freaking race. What a time was had by all. Got to run the final leg. Stressful but glorious — I got to FINISH! Everyone else is done but me, worry worry worry in the way back of the van while everyone else starts in on the beer. But what a dramatic ending.

So here's the deal. My brother-in-law, team captain, doing this for 15+ years, I'm here for my 2nd year, he's got a bet with his boss at Nike who has his own team — they start 5.5 hours earlier (at 2:00pm) than our team (at 7:30pm). The bet is that our team will overtake and beat the boss's team with a 5.5 hour lead. Bet was for a dollar for all I know or care, bragging rights are the important thing.

Doesn't look good for us until near the end; we're in touch with the boss via cell. Comes down to the last leg. We met up with him at the exchange for the last leg, we're both waiting for our next-to-last-leg runner; their's come's in first, the boss is off and running (he's in his 50's, 8-9 minute miler). We wait. Our guy finally comes in about 10 minutes later, my turn, no pressure, my brother-in-law just tells me I NEED to catch his boss, no pressure, but I NEED to catch him, with a 10 minute lead on the 5.22 mile final leg (not 5.8 btw as advertised.) Quick arithmetic tells us it's possible but not likely.

Our runner hurridly slaps the blaclet on me, he's spent. I'm off like a bullet, pumped up on a dozen Red Bulls, snickers, and adrenaline. Ran into a mile uphill on roads after a half on nice trails, but thankfully, that's it (the map show's nearly 2 miles uphill), then downhill, for about 2 miles, wow, that's a new one on me. Flying! 5:40 mile or something, letting gravity do its work, thrashing my leg, I know I'll be hurting tomorrow but who cares.

Keeping it strong into the flats toward the Pacific, continuing to pick off runners like flies, though no sign of the boss. With 2 miles to go (I'm wearing the Garmin for this leg only to track distance/pace) I'm really starting to tire though — legs are toast from two previous races/legs on the same day, no sleep, and 2 miles of intense downhill running.

I was told that this 5.8 mile leg was somewhat short, I'm hoping so, I ask a volunteer how far to the end — half mile he says! Sweet! Way short! I pick it up. Spring over the springy wooden foot bridge toward the ocean. Really starting to tire, I ask another volunteer how far — "Oooh, less that mile" — Crap! Not another mile! Demoralized, I pull the pace back (low 6:00s to mid/high 6:00s), I'm fading.

Then, after banging a left onto the boardwalk along the ocean, I see some of my teammates strolling casually up ahead toward the finish. Adrenaline surge, I pick it up again, gotta look good for the team :-) Too little energy to verbally acknowledge them, I blow on past them. "David's on the boardwalk! David's on the boardwalk!" I hear them yell in excitement. They obviously didn't expect me so soon.

My brother-in-law yells to me about his boss — "David, he's just up ahead, three lamp posts, you can catch him!" (I later learn that he had just congratulated his boss on winning the bet as he ran by, assuming I wasn't coming.) He yells to one of our faster teammates — "Brian, run up and pace David!"

I'm dying but have been forced to accept the fact that I'm going to have to suck it up, this is too public, everyone's counting on me. This bet is like some kind of big deal with my brother-in-law and all his Nike buddies, not just our team but other Nike teams, lots of trash talking, emails, teasing, etc. I can't let him down.

Adrenaline takes over, I pick it up big time. The boss is just up ahead, 30 yards or so and going pretty slow, but I'm not sure where the finish is, he could make it there first, so I'm really pushing hard, sub-6:00. Brian is pacing me by running up ahead, encouraging me, really helps, I know I can do it now.

I reel in the boss and before I know it I fly past him, elated, no stopping me now, the finish is just yards away, right onto the sand, past some crowds and through the finish! I'm done! Dying, hands on knees, nearly collapsing, spitting, coughing, drooling, but I'm so happy! A peak moment. 22:10:09, a new Dairy Air record.

It was like a goddamn movie ending. 197 miles and it came down to 32 seconds. If any runners were just a little slower we wouldn't have done it. We have a great team because, besides getting along well, we're so competitive, not outwardly really, but when someone finishes their leg 4 minutes faster than projected, then next runner is resolved to beat their projected time as well.

My other legs, though less exciting in the end, were pretty good. The first leg was around 2:30am through downtown Portland. Surprising number of people out and about, including a few homeless. It was mostly flat, cool, not cold, ran shirtless.

My only disappointment was that I was sure I was running sub-6:30 pace, but ended up with 6:34 pace for the 5.97 miles (I'm using the distance from, btw, different from and I think more accurate than the official distances). In fact I came up 30 seconds short on my projected time which made me very anxious to get going and make it up on my second leg. Everyone else, in both vans, had beat their projected times.

My second leg was down a country road, totally flat, around 10:30am. I was determined to run it fast, ended with a very respectable 6:05 pace (PR actually.) Early enough that heat wasn't too much of an issue for the 5.03 miles.

Everyone else did great too, really pushing themselves. This is my kind of team. I see lots of other runners taking it easy, talking/chatting while running, man, that's not for me, this is a race.

One very slightly disappointing thing was that, of all the people I passed (kills - I didn't even keep track this year, must have been at least a hundred - collectively the team must have passed many hundreds since our starting time was so late), not one runner challenged me, I was hoping to barely catch someone and then race them, push each other, I think I might have run a bit faster, at least for my first two legs. And no one passed me at all.

H2C was everything it was last year   a lot of fun. A running road trip. And beautiful Oregon weather. I love it out there, the air seems cleaner, clearer, crisper. (And the Honey Buckets smelled great! Not like the porta-potties back east, which just smell like, well, shit.) It was hot, but not oppressively so, no humidity like back east. Beautiful clear black starry sky at the fairground before our second legs, tall trees swaying gently in the peaceful wind. And, lots of great looking women to admire ;-) Something about being in a van with six sweaty guys for a day of running really brings out adolescent locker room talk and behavior :-)

My memory of last year's Hood to Coast must have faded some as I told my wife on the way out that I probably wouldn't do it next year, twice was enough, but no way, I'm there in '07 everything permitting. Now, next stop, Reach the Beach in three weeks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


7.4 miles after work, Quannapowitt loop, 6:38 or something like that pace, Garmin died a mile in. That thing needs constant recharging. Surprisingly energetic, longer runs starting to pay off maybe. I'm 47 today, nearly halfway there, not dead yet, 'nuff said. NPR had Nora Ephron on the other day talking about her book I Feel Bad About My Neck, funny stuff, I can almost relate, if I was a woman and a few years older. Watching my birthday present now, season five of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Book is coming out in October. Vacation. Off to NYC tomorrow for a few days, then flying out to Oregon for Hood to Coast.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Drama Week

Since last post, fmi, rest, then 7.5 miles (6:49 pace) around the Lake, rest, rest, another 7.7 miles (6:50 pace) around the Lake, rest, and today, 11.1 miles (7:09 pace) around the Lake twice. Right mid/lower shin/calf still sore, felt it every step for the first 5 miles, then either numbed up or stretched out, then cruising, splits: 7:15, 7:09, 7:14, 7:15, 7:03, 7:07, 7:03, 6:50, 7:35 (hill), 6:37, 7:30. Did something new, wired myself up to the iPod while running outside; do it on treadmill regularly, but never outside, totally different experience, actually liked it, but I'll probably limit it to the longer runs, too distracting for shorter/tempo runs.

Probably one or two days rest on the docket. Glad I got the 11 miler in 'cause I was sitting in a theatre seat most of the rest of the long weekend.

And what a weekend, the culmination of six plus weeks of drama camp for the kids. Saw nine shows in four days, Zam (11) and Jem (8) both, multiple times, in two different drama organizations. Both in Damn Yankees, Jem in Emperor's New Clothes, Zam in Cinderella, biggest part ever, nasty step-sister, perfect. And then saw the high school kids in Urinetown. Man, what a load of talent, Broadway's got nothing on them.

How did my kids become such drama geeks, not from me certainly, I'm pratically a Steppenwolf. So glad they have though, such a great group of kids, the whole age range, so passionate, and just having fun, no inhibitions, I'm envious but just glad to be witness to it all.

How times have changed. Having observed the entire drama camp cast over many weeks, a number of the high school cast members are obviously and even almost flamboyantly, gay. These guys would've had the shit kicked out of them in my mid aero-fucking-smith 1970's high school. So glad things have changed for the better in that area.

At one of the drama workshop presentations, one kid, pretty obviously gay, even did a monologue from the Laramie Project, very excellent and pretty intense. Same kid, in Cinderella, a minor-ish role, stuck out his foot, humorously, to try on the glass slipper! Talk about out there, he's only like 14 years old. You go, man!

This ain't no brand name town, no Hamilton, Wellesly, Andover, or Lexington, mostly working class, but there's hell of a lot of passion and commitment to local theatre/drama here. Never had much interest in this before, but so it's so cool my kids are into it. It's all about having fun and being yourself, as well as commitment and passion. And socially, as far as I can observe as an adult/outsider, drugs/etc are not a central part of the scene (unlike my school years.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Couple days rest after Tuesday's 10 mile inferno at the Newburyport Yankee Homecoming. Then 6.5 miles on the home Landice, low 7:00s down to mid 6:00s, still a bit hot, no air conditioning in my home "fitness room", otherwise known as the study. Another day of rest (this old body needs lots of those.)

Today, 10.3 miles at 7:07 average pace, splits - 6:56, 7:19, 7:09, 7:10, 7:12, 7:09, 6:56, 7:16, 7:32 (long hill), 6:31. Ten @ 1:11:18, 4 minutes faster than my pathetic Yankee Homecoming performance (let it go.) Started really tired, warmed up, got into a pretty decent relaxed groove around the lake, twice. Beautiful day, hot but not horribly oppressively so, not too humid, breeze, not so bad at all.

Yesterday, we went to Body Worlds 2 at the Museum of Science in Boston. Highly recommended. If you haven't seen it or heard of it, it's an exhibit of human cadavers, dead people, which have been plastinated and posed in interesting configurations. All skin and fat removed (everyone's got a six-pack.) There's a lot to see, I'll probably go back again. I'm not writer enough to express in words what I saw. Definitely not "gross" or creepy or anything like that, for me anyway, as I've heard some project (without yet seeing.)

The creator obviously fancies himself an artist as well as anatomist, and perhaps a comedian as well. It did occur to me that the guy is a freaking sick-o who's managed to find a socially acceptable outlet in the name of science. Probably not, but ya never know.

One trivial observation that struck me was that the belly button, which I naively thought was a superficial scar is actually more a deeper remnant of the umbilical cord than I'd imagined - a truncated tube embedded deep into the abdomen. And the slightness of it all was striking; there's not much to a human body, when the flesh is removed, even the most 'buff' cadavers seemed somehow a little insubstantial and puny.

Anyway, it is what is it is, life, death, science, check it out.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler

That's it. I'm done. No more racing for a while, till Hood to Coast in three weeks anyway. Despite the "heat emergency", I and 1000 other runners showed up for the summer classic Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler last night in beautiful Newburyport, Massachusetts. Must have been 100F, muggy, everyone was sweating just standing still.

I planned on taking it pretty easy as I haven't been handling hot weather running very well anyway, but I pretty much bonked at 6 miles, really awful slog for the last 2 miles, really wanted to stop and am glad just to have finished. An embarrassingly slow 1:15:00, 7:30 average pace — positive splits — first 5 at 7:00, second 5 at 8:00, ugh. (I ran a 7:17 pace 10.2 mile training run just a couple weeks ago!) It was partly the heat, but not totally. Lots of friendly townfolk out with the hoses, I stayed relatively not-so-hot and wet in fact, but I hadn't thought about the implications of my shoes getting so drenched — they must have weighed at least two pounds a piece with the water and all by mile 3, and I really started feeling it. Maybe I should have just taken them off and gone unshod. And it was after work, usually not a great time of day for me. And did I mention it was hot? My wife and kids think I am absolutely bonkers.

So there's my litany of little excuses. What I really have no excuse for is that fact that I just haven't been putting in enough long runs to expect any quality or consistency for a 10 mile race. It's been a little wreckless and lazy of me to be racing so much (7 races since June 3rd) without putting in the required training — my endurance past 7 miles is really lacking. Time to get back to work, forget the excitement of races, hit the road and recall the loneliness of the long distance runner.

(For the record, since last Saturday's 11.1 miler, just rest and then 50 minutes pretty hard on elliptical Monday, still nursing right shin, not much worse after this race, thank goodness.)