Monday, November 23, 2015

Training 11/23-11/29

11/23- Gold's 3 in 23:54 (7:58 pace).  Just barely finished below the Mendoza line and had to rally in the last 3 laps to do it.  I won't call this a collapse but I really feel like I've slipped in the last 5 days.  Fortunately, there is an explanation.  I tried Lithium and B12 again yesterday evening.  I thought maybe it was the orotate form of Lithium that I could not tolerate.  It turns out that any form is bad.  B12 still won't work either.  It simply hadn't cleared yet so no big deal.  I should be better tomorrow.

11/24- Repeat of yesterday and my time was down to 23:08 (7:43 pace).  Splits were more even and this was significantly better than the previous day but not even close to the "new normal."  I did take ill-advised zinc and methionine last night.  It appears that the MTRR nucleotide product is a non-factor at best so I will likely have to be content with gradual improvement with Sparga.  Concern, panic or doom?  I'm at concern now.  If I'm still struggling around Christmas, it upgrades to panic.

11/25- It may be time to panic now.  Collapsed after just 1 mile on Lakeshore and turned around.  My heart wasn't into it because I was about to leave to visit my parents and too much FOS and caffeine are hurting me.  Hopefully, I can take a mulligan on this one.

11/26- Surprisingly good Thanksgiving Run on Peter's Trail.  Finished a 5 mile out and back route in a time of 36:30 (7:18 pace).  Loose and overstimulated.  Did not want to slow down.  Too much FOS was the culprit yesterday.  Back to concern now.  No longer in panic.  Splits were 17:58-18:32 and I was working pretty hard to hold the pace at the end but the route was slightly sloped with a lot more incline on the back half.  Pace was more even than the splits suggest.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Turkey Burner 5K RR

I am in the midst of my 4th week without a major collapse, which is a very good sign.  Still, I was a little sluggish at times during this week.  I thought the culprit was Histidine but it turns out that it's Yucca (for ammonia detox).  I can tolerate a small amount (half a pill) but if I take a whole pill every day, I will be a little stiff and sore but able to handle a standard issue run (5@ sub-8 pace).  That's still a huge improvement over where I was before starting the FOS.  Back then, just a trace of that stuff caused me to tighten up something awful and could not break 9:00 for just 1 Mile.  Could I clear my system after just 1 day off it?  I woke up on race day feeling less sluggish and more overstimulated, which was a good sign.

Race morning:
I've stayed in a hotel for a goal half mary in Monty but for just a local 5K, I'm driving in the morning.  Yes, it was early but no different from my long group runs.  I was up at 5:00 and on the road just after 5:30.  With a stop in Prattville for gas, I got the the race site around 7:00.  This race was located about 10 miles east of downtown and the site of the race made it special.  I had been there 4 weeks earlier on what was supposed to be a farewell tour of my old running routes but I've shown enough improvement to keep going.  We had near perfect weather conditions with sunny skies and temps in the low 50s.  The only gripe was a moderate headwind at times.

The race was held just outside Metro Fitness gym.  I was a member there when I lived in the area from 2006-2009 and the race course would cover part of a group run that I did in November 2006.  It was then that I realized that I just might be able to come back from Stage 3 adrenal fatigue.  Could this be the start of a 2nd "impossible comeback"?  I had wanted to do this race several times in the past but it never fit my schedule.  I could not think of a better time than now to do it.  I was hoping to see my old friend Susi but unfortunately, she could not make it.  I was a little sluggish warming up but did not feel any pressure to deliver a good time.  A post-35 PR was all but guaranteed.

  I was really planning to go out slower and try for a negative split but it didn't happen and this wasn't the course to do it.  My GPS signal was a little funky early but I hit the quarter mile at 1:36 (20:00 pace).  Too fast but it was slightly downhill.  The course was a bit more difficult than expect but was quite scenic.  It covered upscale residential areas and a few views of a small lake.  The course did not lend itself to negative splits.  I could be wrong but it seemed like the first half was about 75% downhill but that would make for a tough finish.  I'd describe the course as gently rolling.  Nothing was severe or even moderate but a small climb with a half-quarter mile to go would be rough.  I hit the Mile marker in 6:43 but the instant pace had already slipped to the 7:00 range.  I was clearly licked shortly after the Mile marker but my pride and strength held and there would be no collapse.  I believe that I was passed by only 3 runners in the back half.  I got to Mile 2 in a solid 13:47 so even with a slight elevation gain, I should be pretty safe for a sub-22 and with a decent chance to finish under 7:00 pace.  Unfortunately, I lost it on the last climb.  My breathing was loud from early Mile 2 on and my legs didn't have much power.  I was happy to get across the line.  Sub-22 was pretty safe all the way so my kick was rather weak.  My finish time was 21:54 officially.  It was good enough for 18th overall and 3rd in my age group and I got a nice medal out of it.
7:04 (13:47)
7:15  (21:02)
 :52- last .13 (6:40 pace)
21:54 (7:03 pace)

Final thought:
Not bad.  Probably a fair assessment of my fitness.  I am capable of a 21:30ish with better pacing and a pancake flat route.   To put this in perspective, I have done 3 half marathons with an average pace below 7:00 plus 2 more in the 7:05 range.  Still, back in 2007, I raced a Retro Run in 22:17 and by the next summer, I had edged under 20.  I will not be racing again until Mercedes and I am unsure if I will do the 5K or half mary.  I do hope to be in sub-21 or sub-1:40 shape by then.
I was allowed to run a few laps inside Metro Fitness as a cool down for old times sake.  Pretty cool.

Road trip:
I left the race just after 9:00 for a trip to Meridian, Miss' Sippy to visit Trent, my old Bible study leader.  He lives on the north side of Jackson now so this was a good halfway point.  It was important for me to see him because when he moved, I was at or near my lowest point.  He had prayed for me countless times and I really wanted him to see me feeling better.  The route from Monty was US-80 almost all the way.  It was nice countryside most of the way but the area is among the most economically depressed in the county.  I did stop in Selma, which does have a pretty nice downtown and crossed the historic Edmund Pettus bridge. It was a very enjoyable lunch at Western Sizzlin' and he prayed for me aloud for several minutes after we finished.  Man, I wish I had recorded it.  This was my favorite part of the trip.  I took I-20/59 back to the Ham and it went without a hitch.  My only stop was in Cuba, where I was glad to see lots of American flags.  This was Cuba, Alabama.

Next up:
For the billionth time, I'm fine with gradual improvement and some days may be slightly worse than the previous one but I do expect to be sub-21 within a couple of months.  I did a 19:09 time trial just before turning 34.  No reason why I cannot come close to that at 35.  I have lost a step in terms of fitness but I believe I am being hurt more by unbalanced chemistry.  The Sparga works as does SMALL amounts of Yucca.  I want to give B12+Lithium another try as well as low dose molybdenum.  I'm not ready for methyl donors yet but I may benefit from the MTRR nucleotide.  No pressure to perform next week with the travel involved.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Remaining States Part 2

I was thinking last week about each state that I have yet to do and researched potential targets.  Here it is.  Enjoy.

Alaska- Anchorage for sure.  There's a race in June and another in August.  Neither is a PR course.  I think I'd prefer June because it would be cool to experience 20+ hours of daylight.

Hawaii- Really can't go wrong here.  It will be beautiful no matter where I go but also warm and humid regardless of the time of year.  This could also be a stopping point to break up a trip to Australia.

Washington- RnR Seattle in June.  Cool summer getaway and I could see a Mariners game.

Montana and Wyoming- There are 2 races a week apart in Yellowstone National Park in June. The Yellowstone half is in Montana and the Grand Teton is just a few miles south but it's in Wyoming. Both are trail races at 6,500 feet elevation.  Time means nothing on a course like that.  I'd have to spend a week in Yellowstone but I'm sure I can find stuff to do nearby such as Glacier National Park.

Nevada- RnR Las Vegas.  This is an evening race in November and would be interesting.  I don't gamble but I'm sure there are some shows worth seeing.  The race itself starts and finishes in the Strip but is largely residential.  Edit:  I'm beginning to think a Lake Tahoe race would be more fun.

Utah- Cottonwood.  There are 2 races that are basically the same course in the Spring and early Fall.  The course drops nearly 2,500 feet in elevation (nearly a 5% average grade).  Even at high altitude, that's not PR-legal but it could be tons of fun.  It is located just outside Salt Lake City.

New Mexico- Santa Fe.  There's another high altitude downhill race here but it's only about 1,000 feet net drop and might be PR-legal.  I'd road trip into Amarillo, Texas.  I've never been to West Texas but I hear it is very different from East Texas.

South Dakota- Black Hills for sure.  Rural and off the beaten path but I'm sure the scenery will be awesome.  I will also re-visit Mount Rushmore.

Nebraska and Iowa- I'd like to double up here with just one trip. Best case is that I find something in Omaha on Saturday and something not far across the border in Iowa (maybe Des Moines) on Sunday.  That could be tricky because about 70% of races are Sunday.  Omaha is right on the border.

Kansas- This is the only remaining state that could possibly be a drive.  I would likely opt for Eisenhower in the Spring in Abilene, near Kansas City.  I do have a childhood friend in the area and would like to see a Royals game.

Minnesota and Wisconsin- Definitely a chance to double here, possibly this year.  There are several races in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that would be nice in late Spring/early summer.  That's just across the border from Wisconsin.  Milwaukee would probably be too far but Madison and Eau Claire are definitely close enough.  I could see a Twins game too.

Michigan- Detroit Free Press for sure.

Maine/New Hampshire/Vermont- Should be able to double here if I can find a Saturday/Sunday combo.  I've got a really cool idea here.  Do Maine and either Vermont or New Hampshire then come back for the remaining state plus Montreal.  1 weekend, 2 races, 2 countries, 2 languages.

Connecticut/Rhode Island- Lots of runners double here.  The 2 races are ING Hartford and Newport, RI.  It's a Saturday/Sunday combo in the 2nd week of October.  Leaves will be changing this time of year.

Maryland- Island 2 Island in Ocean City in late April.

New York- There's the Manhattan half in January and the NYC half in March.  The courses are similar.  Obviously, I'd prefer March because the weather will likely be better.

New Jersey/Delaware- I found a Saturday/Sunday combo in Dover and Atlantic City.  They are only a little more than 2 hours apart and I can use Philly as my hub.

Massachusetts- Boston.  If I never qualify, my choice would be the Boston Memorial half in late May.  Unfortunately, Red Sox tickets are almost impossible to get.

I think that covers them all.  It could take me a decade to do all this but I'm beginning to think it may be worth it.

Training 11/16-11/22 (race week)

The plan this week is to drop the mileage back down to the 30-35 range with a mini-taper.  The planned race is the Turkey Burner and I am doing it more to see an old friend from Monty than to race for a fast time.  I predict a time in the high 21s with a goal of a sub-7 pace (21:45).

11/16- 6 miles on Lakeshore in 45:44 (7:37 pace).  I have felt about the same for the past few days.  My legs were fine.  Relatively loose and limber with decent power but still significantly over-stimulated and easily winded.  I'll take it but changes need to be made going forward.  The Sparga will be upped and so will the Thym-Adren.  As for the TMG (methyl), I had a slight negative reaction and became a bit more over-stimulated.  Not quite ready for it yet.  Tempo tomorrow in lieu of Johnny's workout.

11/17-  3 mile time trial at Gold's nearly all out.  Finished in 20:42 (6:54 pace).  Upped the Sparga and Thym-Adren and was somewhat less over-stimulated today but it was not a significant difference.  This equates to roughly a 21:30 for a full 5K.  Can I beat it on race day?  It will probably depend on my pacing.  Splits today were 6:44-7:00-6:58.  If I had gone out slower, say 6:52, I could have repeated the 6:52 then maybe come home in 6:46.  That would add up to a 20:30.  Restraining myself on race day may be difficult.  Added a half mile cool.

11/18- Gold's 5 in 39:17 (7:51 pace).  A little sluggish today but most likely no cause for alarm.  Never really pushed the pace and allowed a mild fade (19:25-19:52) so I did manage a sub-8 on the back half.  No collapse.  Added a cool.

11/19-  In taper mode now.  2 miles naked on Wisteria just before sunset.  Felt about the same as yesterday which was a little sluggish but not horrible.  Even with a rest tomorrow, I'll hit 30 if the weekend goes according to plan.
I had been taking Histidine sporadically for a few weeks because it was low on my UAA test and it is intended to "improve sulfur metabolism."  It's a non-factor at 1 pill/day but if I increase it to 2-3 as directed, I will feel a bit heavy and sluggish.  It feels like it increases the sulfur burden.  I pitched the bottle and should be better by tomorrow.  I do NOT count this as a collapse.

11/20- 1 mile comfortably hard at Gold's.  I was looking at about 7:04 before sprinting the last lap to finish in 6:56.  I felt that I could have kept the 7:04 pace another 2 miles, which would bring me home just under 22.  I'd be a little disappointed in that but I've got another day to clear the Histidine.
I will also explore other options.  Added a mile cool.

11/21- Turkey Burner 5K in 21:54 (7:03 pace) plus a warm and cool.

11/22- Easy 7 from the Trak Shak.  Ran it naked and did not care about the pace.  I'm sure it was well over 8 on a hilly route.  It's been confirmed that the cause of the mild sluggish feeling is indeed Yucca and it has yet to fully clear.  Still, as recently as 4 weeks ago, I never could have finished a 7 miler if the pills were out of whack.  I hit the quota for the week.

Weekly summary:
Did pretty much what I planned this week.  No real complaints.  3rd straight week with 30+ miles.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Remaining states

MOST definitely:

Alaska and Hawaii-
.  These are the only 2 U.S states that I have yet to visit and I will surely go regardless of my running status.  If I can’t run a half, I bet I can find a companion race at a shorter distance.

I spent a summer in Salisbury (near Ocean City) and would very much like to return to the area for a race as well as to drive the full Delmarva Peninsula.

The Detroit Free Press race course actually goes into Windsor, Ontario, Canada for a few miles.  I think that’s really cool.  I also have a couple of buddies that live in the area.

Connecticut and Rhode Island-
I rode through here when I was maybe 4 years old and part of me does not feel right about counting these 2 among the states that I have visited.  The best/worst part of it is that the races are on the same weekend so I’d have to be in very good shape to manage that.  Of course, I won’t “race” either of them but would have to at least finish respectably to enjoy it.

South Dakota-
I visited here when I was 7 years old and yes, I do vaguely remember it.  There is a downhill race at altitude in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore.  I’d have to go a bit off the beaten path but I’m sure that the scenery would be amazing.

The one to do here is RnR Seattle, which could be a nice getaway in early June.  I’ll leave 90 degree weather for temps in the 70s and yes, this is the dry season there.

There are several high altitude but almost all downhill races here.  It would be difficult to assess the exact value of my time but that becomes less important as I get older.  The scenery would be awesome.

New York:
It would have to be in Manhattan, nowhere else and yes, there are a couple half marathons there.  It would be really cool to race through Central Park and Times Square but I dare not drive and a hotel within a few blocks of the starting line would awfully pricey. 

Boston is the only one to do here.  It would take a miracle for me to qualify and I do not have any interest in running for charity.

If I am to do all of these, it would take me to up to 36 states.  Maybe I could be talked into a couple others.  I suppose that if I get up to 40 states, I’ve got to go all the way. There may be other opportunities to do 2 races in the same weekend in nearby states.  NJ&DE, VT&NH, MN&WI.  Yes, there is a chance that I will end up doing all 50.

Training 11/9-11/15

11/9- Gold's 5 in 38:20 (7:40 pace).  Even pace and felt good most of the way.  Had a lot left at the end too.  It feels so good to have a stable dosage and not have to do all those better with or without tests.  I've said it a billion times but I'd rather be a little slow but stable than fast and unstable.  Now that it's a reality, I feel even more strongly about it.  Most of my workouts this year have been little more than a chore but I actually enjoyed this one.  Another change in my health is that I am sweating a lot more.  That's also characteristic of excess adrenal activity.

11/10- Johnny's workout.  8x400 at Vestavia in sets of 4 with a 2 min R.  Finished with an average of :84 or roughly 5:38 pace.   (86-84-83-84) (85-84-85-80).  I believe that I can break 6:00 in a Mile time trial and Johnny agrees.  Solid workout.  Calves are very sore.  Not used to getting on my toes and sprinting.

11/11- Trak Shak 8 in the daylight on Veteran's Day.  Finished in 66-flat (8:15 pace).  I'm fine with this one.  Pace was slow but this was a hilly route done the day after a hard speed session.  I don't think I've done this route all year and I've forgotten how nice and scenic it is.  Cool down tribute to Ochocinco.

11/12- Saulter-Trak Shak 5 route in 37:58 (7:35 pace).  Felt good.  Strong even pace.  No complaints.  Beautiful day with temps in the upper 60s.  Added a mile cool.

11/13- Planned rest day.  Felt good most of the day but overstimulated in the evening.  Long cold run tomorrow.

11/14- 13 mile BTC group run.  GPS died in Mile 11 so I'm unsure of the exact distance but it was around 13.  Pace was sub-8 up until the "hill that sucks" so I estimate about 8:05 on a pretty hilly route.  Given a flat course and a race setting, I believe I could go sub-1:45 for a half now.  5 minutes away from "respectability."  At a low-8 pace, I found a group that matched my pace.  If you get into the 7:40 range, you're too fast for the BTC but not good enough to stick with the sub-3.  Need only 4 tomorrow to hit 40 for the first time since January.

11/5- BTC recovery run.  5 miles from Highland Park to downtown and back.  I chose to run it naked (no watch).  Pace was probably similar to yesterday.  Legs were fine but felt quite a bit over-stimulated.  I may need to up the Thym-Adren and/or Sparga.  I did try TMG (methyl) yesterday and did tolerate it okay but am not sure if I can run on it.

Weekly summary:
If I kept track of grades and won/loss record, this would have been a winner.  21 days since my last collapse.  That's a very good sign.  It's too late to salvage 2015 but I am going to surprise a lot of people next year.  41 miles on the week is my highest total since January.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

NOT Retiring

Still no results from Yasko but I expect to get word any day now.  No panic no matter how bad the results.  I am primarily hoping to rule out Mercury toxicity and amalgam removal.  If the results show probable mercury issues, I will do a re-test to confirm before I pull the trigger.  I am about 90 percent sure that I know what it's going to say.  Here it is:

My number 1 problem is sulfur toxicity, which is likely the source of the runaway adrenal function.  Mineral support (Cal/Mag) plus Thym-Adren (adrenal suppressant) will help but it's not nearly enough.  Think about a runaway truck going down a steep mountain.  Simply tapping the brakes every few seconds is not going to be enough.

I need to do something to reduce the sulfates and the Sparga is likely the best choice.  B-12 and Lithium still cannot be tolerated.  Low dose molybdenum might be worth another try down the road.  Yucca can be tolerated at low doses. In the past, just a few drops of Sparga caused overwhelming fatigue and depression.  Sparga could not be tolerated probably because of mal-absorption issues but since I have been taking the FOS supplement, I have had no such reaction in the last 2 weeks.  Yes, that's right.  I have NOT had a collapse in 2 weeks.  Though I am far from being in the clear, I have seen enough improvement to keep going at least until the end of the year.

Changes in health:
As I said in my last post, the biggest change is that the flu-like malaise has been replaced by over-stimulation and mild anxiety.  That's how I should feel as a fast oxidizer.  My resting pulse rate is way too high (close to 90 BPM).  The average person's is 72 and for an athlete, it should be more like 60 or lower.  No reason to panic about this.  I have been told and have personal experience that suggest that my adrenals have sped up in response to solving a major problem (sulfur toxicity and malabsorption) and it is only a temporary reaction.

30 miles on the week, all at sub-8:00 pace with the exception of the recovery jog intervals.  My longest run was an 8 miler in 63:21 (7:55 pace).  Even if I slipped to the 9:00 range over the next 5.1, I still would have come in around 1:49:30 for a half mary.  I've found that I can hold a pace around 7:50-8:00 in relative comfort on a standard issue 5 miler but if I speed up to the 7:30s, it's as if there's a noose around my legs that really begins to tighten.  If I am to bump it back up to the 40 MPW range, I am going to have to be okay with paces in the 8:00-8:15 range for the time being.  For the millionth time, I want to see a GRADUAL climb out of this hole.  I may not feel any different from one day to the next but progress should be evident over the course of several weeks.  If I can avoid collapses, I may be in half decent racing shape by Mercedes.

I am listed as probable for the Turkey Burner 5K in Monty 2 weeks from now and it will likely be my last race of the year.  Realistically, I have probably set my last PR which means that I was 3 for 6 in my lifetime goals.  I can live with that.  In order to enjoy these races, I've got to get back under 21/45/1:40 in the big 3 distances.  If relatively healthy, there is no reason why I cannot do that in my mid-late 30s.  A 1:45 half will become acceptable sometime in my 40s but not now.  The 2016 race schedule remains a big question mark.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Early response to Sulfur Detox Products

In the days since completing the Half 2 Run Challenge, the sadness has diminished and I am feeling more proud of my accomplishment.  However, I credit my improved mood to a shift in chemistry rather than what happened in my external environment.  Since I got back last Saturday night, I have tried 4 treatments that failed in the past.  My hope was that the failure was due to the mal-absorption issue and now that I am taking the FOS and probiotics, my tolerance should improve.

The verdict:
B-12 and Lithium are just as bad as they ever were.  No big surprise given the blood test results.  I must confess that I did binge on caffeine after the race and that may have hurt me.  I'll try again this weekend.

Sparga and Yucca-Both of these cause an immediate negative reaction to just a trace every time prior to taking the FOS.  Now, it appears that I can tolerate BOTH provided that the dose is relatively low.  The plan calls for 10 drops twice a day.  I'm doing 5 drops once a day.  This stuff is supposed to slow down the adrenals indirectly by reducing the sulfate.  Strangely, I have felt over-stimulated with a bit of unexplained anxiety.  I had a case of the shakes today at work.  I expect that I will calm down eventually.  Still, feeling "wired" is HIGHLY preferable to the flu-like malaise that I've had most of the year.

The last 2 days have been slightly better but not so much that it's considered significant.
Tu- Johnny's workout.  2x800 in 3:05, 4x400 in 84.  5:52 overall pace with generous rest.
W- Lakeshore 5 in 38:54 (7:47 pace) with moderate effort.
That's okay.  As I've said many times, I want to see a gradual climb out of this hole.  Getting it all back only to lose it a few days later is psychological torture.  Even if my half marathon pace improves by just 3 seconds per week, that's a 6 minute improvement in just 10 weeks.

I was toying with the idea of running Vulcan this weekend.  I figure I'm good for a time around 50 minutes, which would be a post-35 PR but I've decided against it.  I still don't want to answer all the "what's wrong?" questions from the locals.  I may run the Turkey Burner 5K on 11/20 in Monty to see my friend Susi.  I would hope to see noticeable improvement by then.

A couple of people have told me to shoot for 50 half marathon states.  If by some miracle, I recover my health, there are at least 5-6 on my list that I would like to do and I could see myself hitting 35 before it's over.  I suppose that once I hit 40, I've got to go all the way.  It will be hard to justify a plane ticket to a rather remote area without tourist attractions nearby.   I would like to do more international events rather than 50 states.

Once again, this is NOT about running fast again.  It is about having a chance to enjoy life.
Still no word from Yasko but there will be no panic if it's bad (which it will be).  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Half 2 Run Challenge Complete

1. Seaside Half. Seaside Florida - 1:59:37 PR  3/07 (state #1)
I was expecting a nearly dead flat course along the coast.  Instead, it was an out and back route that veered slightly off the coast and contained a few rolling hills.  Though it had few views of the water, it was a decent choice for Florida and well-organized overall.  I went out around 1:50 pace, which proved to be too fast and I had to walk-jog the last 5K but rallied for a sub-2.
2.       St. Jude.  Memphis, Tennessee- 1:48:17 PR  12/07  (state #2)
Highly recommended event and probably the most fun I’ve had in a race.  Outstanding course that featured iconic city landmarks such as Beale Street and the Mississippi River plus Overton Park with a finish inside the minor league baseball stadium.  Mostly flat early with a few rollers toward the end with a downhill finish.  Here, I went out too slowly but finished with a strong negative split and a massive PR.  See Graceland, Sun Studios and the Rock and Soul Museum here.
3.       Eugene.  Eugene, Oregon- 3:56:03 PR  5/08 (state # 3)
First full marathon and could not think of a better place to do it.  Nice flat course mostly on paved trails on the Oregon campus and the Willamette River.  Ran a pretty smart race and though the last few miles were ugly, I never walked and got the sub-4 on my first try despite being a bit under-prepared.  Road trip included the beautiful Oregon coast, Mt. Hood and Prefontaine’s hometown of Coos Bay.
4.       Banco Popular. Chicago, Illinois- 1:42:50 PR  9/08  (state # 4)
Nice course through Univ. of Chicago and a long stretch along Lake Michigan with only a couple noticeable hills and the swag included perhaps the best medal I’ve received.  Good shuttle service and surprisingly affordable hotel.  I ran a good evenly paced race here on my birthday but this event will be most remembered for the driving rain throughout the entire race and being shivering cold afterwards waiting on the shuttle.
5.       Mercedes.  Birmingham, Alabama- 1:34:02 Half/3:21:56 Full PR   2/09  (state #5)
I may be biased because this is my home race but this is another 5 star event.  Organization is always flawless and the event has top notch swag including an iconic medal and great after party catered by Jim & Nick’s.  The course has some highlights but is not especially scenic and though it contains a few long inclines, it definitely could be a PR course.  I’ve done well in both the half and full marathon here but those hills pack a punch on the 2nd loop.  If you pace it well, you can really gun it those last 5 miles.  Best half time came in 2011.  Best full was 2012.
6.       Fargo.  Fargo, North Dakota- 3:43:22 PR  5/09  (state #6)
If you are looking to escape the heat for a late Spring marathon and are unconcerned about anything except your finish time, Fargo is a good choice.  The course has almost no hills and though not particularly scenic, fans are out in force shouting encouragement.  I chose this race to check off both North Dakota and Minnesota for my Visit 50 states project.  I flew into Minneapolis and saw the Mall of America, which included an indoor amusement park.  I was 13 minutes faster than the previous year and again ran a pretty smart race but was hampered by bronchitis during peak training.
7.       BR Beach.  Baton Rouge, Louisiana- 1:32:57 PR  12/09  (state #7)
Scenic course that included lakeside views, upscale neighborhoods and the LSU campus.  Fast course that included just a few small hills.  Organization was fine for the half but I’ve heard it can be lonely in the full.  Sunny but very cold conditions and I quickly got very chilled after finishing.  Ran a tremendous race that capped off an incredible 27 minute improvement in just 2.5 years.  Placed 3rd in my AG and the RD was nice enough to mail my plaque free of charge.  I knew that a sub-1:30 was within reach but challenges were ahead.
8.       ING GA.  Atlanta, Georgia- 1:38:18-  3/10  (state #8)
Scenic tour of Atlanta that was relentlessly rolling including both long inclines and steep rollers.  Tough stretch after Mile 10 and an uphill finish.  Expo was at the Georgia Dome and had everything that you could possibly want.  I was coming off an Achilles injury and ran a pretty good race on this course despite being a bit out of shape.  First big race with my buddy Nick and the stormy weather held off until after we got home.
9.       Country Music.  Nashville, Tennessee-1:42:27   4/10
This is one of the few races that I would not recommend.  Run Memphis if you need Tennessee.  Hotels and entry fee were very expensive but swag included a nice post-race concert and a cool looking medal.  Most of the hills were in the first 8 miles but they will wear you out.  I went for a fast time on a day that it wasn’t there and completely melted down in the last 5K and reacted badly to the Cytomax sports drink.  Got back to the hotel just before a big storm hit.
10.   Run For Life.  Madison, Mississippi- 1:34:47  10/10 (state #9)
Another race that I cannot recommend though I’ve heard it no longer exists.  Advertised as flat but it was actually a rolling course through the upscale suburbs of Jackson and contained a brutal hill in Mile 12 before a downhill finish.  I was on pace for a small PR but lost it on the hills at the end and hurt my knee in the process.  Placed in my AG but there were no awards.  Run Tupleo or MS Blues instead.
11.   Rocket City.  Huntsville, Alabama- 3:43:18  12/10
Very well organized event with the host hotel just outside the start/finish line.  Gently rolling throughout with only 1 memorable hill around Mile 22 and lots of turns.  It could be a PR course though it has since been changed.  Quality event all around and I ran a decent race despite being under-trained due to the recent knee injury.
12.   Scenic City.  Chattanooga, Tennessee- 1:32:49 PR  2/11
Broke the PR drought with a great performance on a tough course.  Roughly out and back route with 4 major hills but some flat sections, city views, bridge climbs and bike trails.  Just missed an AG award but still very pleased.  Well organized but small race with a minimal expo.  Lots to do in and around the city but Memphis is still a better race option for this state.
13.   CDA.  Coeur D’Alene, Idaho- 1:33:21  5/11  (state #10)
Another race chosen as part of the Visit 50 states project and welcome relief from the heat in late May.  Located at mild altitude on the panhandle near the Canadian border, it is a very beautiful area and scenic course as well but there was a major flaw in organization.  I thought I was on pace for a PR until the last mile was measured 2 tenths too long.  Either the course was long or the mile markers were off.  Still a good trip that included stops in Spokane, Washington and Missoula, Montana.  Recommended if your finish time is less important to you. 
14.   Monty.  Montgomery, Alabama- 1:31:31 PR 10/11
Used to live here and this course showcased the better areas of the city.  Rolling course with an uphill start and tough climb in Mile 11 but I PR’d it.  Finish in the minor league stadium and one of the best after parties of any race.  Placed 3rd in my AG and got a nice little plaque.  First time under 7:00 pace overall and edging closer to THE goal.
15.   Nationwide.  Columbus, Ohio- 1:31:02 PR- 10/11  (state #11)
My first serious attempt at a sub-1:30 and I was on pace through Mile 9 before faltering a bit in the last 5K.  Mostly flat course with just a couple mild inclines and a downhill finish.  Fairly non-descript in terms of scenery but did feature some downtown, residential and the Ohio State campus.  I was within 5 seconds per mile of THE goal now.
16.   White River.  Mountain Home, Arkansas- 1:33:34- 11/11 (state #12)
Downhill start for the first mile followed by an out and back route on a very gently rolling bike trail.  Good course for a sub-1:30 attempt but it wasn’t there on this day.  Small race with few perks in a rural area with little-nothing to do.  Run this one if you’re looking for a fast time.  Otherwise, opt for Little Rock if you need Arkansas.
17.   3M- Austin, Texas- 1:28:12 PR- 1/12  (state #13)
The race of my life when everything was going right in terms of health and training.  I consider this my crowning achievement as a runner.  Even greater than beating my HS XC PR later that year.  Very fast course with a net decline but some uphill stretches.  Time was legit because you only gain half as much on a down as you lose on an up.  Highly recommended race.  Road trip included lunch with a HS buddy, San Antonio and Bush-41s presidential library.
18.   RNR Denver.  Denver, Colorado- 1:39:13- 9/12  (state #14)
Mile high elevation cost me about 3.5 minutes here though the course was relatively flat.  Slightly out of shape due to a bout with plantar.  Tough stretch from Miles 10-12 but a downhill finish.  Good swag and an excellent destination race.  Saw Garden of the Gods and a Rockies game.  See Rocky Mtn. National Park if you have time.  Average race performance.
19.   Thunder Road- Charlotte, North Carolina- 1:34:57- 11/12  (state #15)
Started and finished in downtown Charlotte but this was a hilly trek through upscale tree-lined neighborhoods.  Downhills were long and gradual while climbs were shorter and steeper.  Last 5K was nearly all uphill and had to fight hard to hang on to the sub-1:35.  Decent performance in which I pushed for a time that was not there on this course.
20.   13.1 LA.  Los Angeles, California- 1:29:52- 1/13  (state #16)
Point to point course featuring the boardwalk, a bike trail in the sand next to the Pacific and a road in which you could view the ocean to the west and mountains to the east.  Outstanding scenery and I was in top form here as well.  Though a PR was out of reach, this would have been even faster if not for stomach cramps late.  Road trip included lunch with a childhood friend, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Reagan library.
21.   GO!  St. Louis, Missouri- 1:42:13- 4/13  (state #17)
Health was beginning to decline here.  Faded early and it got worse with every mile.  Very hilly course though most of the climbs were in the first 8-9 miles.  Like Nashville, the early hills will beat you up and leave you with little left at the end.  Solid organization and good crowd support.  Toured the Budweiser plant and visited the Arch. 
22.   Marshall.  Huntington, West Virginia-1:35:50 11/13  (state #18)
In a state with almost no flat land, this course had only 2 short hills and is definitely a PR course.  Not a whole lot to do in the area but I was there to race.  Wide variety of scenery including city streets, riverside and parks.  I ran a solid even pace with only a mild fade the last 5K.  No frills expo but a well-organized event.  Lots of out of staters here and recommended if you need West Virginia.
23.   Blue Ridge.  Roanoke, Virginia- 1:49:26  4/14  (state #19)
On a course with 3,800 feet of elevation change, this was actually a pretty decent performance.  Time means little on a course like this.  You will conquer 2 major mountains with scenic views and run on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Saw Appomattox and Monticello.   If you are up for a challenge and don’t care about your time, run this one.  Otherwise, go with Richmond or VA Beach. 
24.   Blue Nose.  Halifax, Nova Scotia- 1:43:26  5/14
My first international race experience was not a pretty sight.  The race itself was very well organized that featured a very scenic course that was tough but fair.  Downhills were short and steep but climbs were more gradual and manageable.  Highlights included a downtown section, a harbor and a park overlooking the Atlantic with cheering fans.  I was hampered by a draining travel schedule featuring Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia plus worsening sensitivity to pills.
25.   Monumental.  Indianapolis, Indiana- 1:34:30  11/14  (state #20)
Flat course and a nice tour of the city through downtown and residential areas.  Only 2 noticeable inclines with a few long declines as well.  Lots of turns but definitely a PR course.  Conditions were very blustery all the way but the rain had moved off.  Ran a very even pace and was pleased with my race.  High quality event.
26.   Route 66.  Tulsa, Oklahoma- 1:37:42- 11/14  (state #21)
Featured mostly residential areas with a couple of parks and a riverside section.  Overall, a relatively non-descript event and a moderately difficult course.  Faded early but managed a bit of a resurgence at the halfway point and finished with a slight negative split.  Road trip included a stop in Little Rock for the Clinton presidential library.  It fit my schedule well as it was just before Thanksgiving and it’s not a bad choice for Oklahoma but OKC is likely the better option.  My last race as a serious runner.
27.   Phoenix.  Mesa, Arizona- 1:42:15- 2/15  (state #22)
By this point, I was just looking to get through it.  The highlight of the trip was not the race but rather a trip to the Grand Canyon and an overnight stop in beautiful Sedona.  The race itself was slightly net downhill but was mostly an imperceptible incline through mostly rural and residential areas with a finish in a shopping center rather than in Phoenix proper.  Performed as well as could be expected given rapidly declining health.
28.   Bluegrass.  Lexington, Kentucky-1:50:46-  3/15  (state #23)
Gave it all that I had here but there was nothing there.  All rural course through horse farms outside the Keeneland race course.  Tough course was rolling all the way with almost no flat spots.  No hill will kill you but cumulative effects will wear you down.  Nice after party and medal but weak shirt.  Recommend KY Derby in Louisville instead of this one.
29.   Montour Trail- Robinson TWP, Pennsylvania-2:06:38 PW- 9/15 (state #24)
Located just west of Pittsburgh mostly on a crushed limestone trail.  Flat and fast course but by this point, the crash was complete.   All I wanted to do was finish.  I expected it to suck and had gone numb to the pain.   Small event with few perks.  My only comment after finishing was “only 1 more to go.”  Saw a Pirate game at PNC Park.
30.   Spinx Runfest.  Greenville, South Carolina- 1:56:19- 10/15 (state #25)
A return to one of my old stomping grounds made the last one special.  Tough but fair course that included lots of long moderate hills especially on the back half but there were flats as well.  Scenic route that included city streets, trails and parks but the major flaw was a lack of Gatorade on the course.  Pleased with the improvement over last time and proud of my accomplishment but sad that it may be over.  Competing this far below my peak is too painful both physically and emotionally.  Road trip included stops in Atlanta and Clemson.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Spinx Run Fest RR

I've averaged roughly 20 miles per week over the past 12 months which simply won't do.  I had not gone longer than 7 in a single session since my last race in mid-September.  I have been using new prebiotic and probiotic supplements and had not had a collapse in the last 5 days.  I was cautiously hopeful for a respectable performance but 3 days out, I caught a bit of a head cold.  It didn't kill my energy but certainly left me weaker.

Left work early on Thursday and made a pit stop for the night at Nick's place in Atlanta for the night.  From there, it was roughly 2.5 hours to Greenville but we made a stop in Clemson for lunch at TDs.  It was one of our regular hangouts when we were students so it brought back some memories.  We arrived in Greenville by late afternoon and checked into our hotel.  Next, we took a walk down by a beautiful riverside trail with 2 waterfalls.  Part of me still misses this place but I don't see myself leaving Birmingham.  There was a reason why I chose this event for State #25 and it would be special regardless of the result.  On the night before race day, my cold took a turn for the worse with a cough and stuffy nose but I did improve by the next morning.  Unfortunately, my stomach was jacked up and I feared the worst on the race course.

Race plan:
I know that I can hold an 8:00 pace for 7 miles on flat terrain with something left at the end.  Realistically, considering my cold and lack of fitness over the longer distance, the stretch goal was 1:50 (8:24 for 13.1) but I really wanted to be under 2 hours.  My first half had been a 1:59 but I slipped all the way to 2:06 last month.  I decided to shoot for about 8:20 pace for the first 3 miles then pick it up if I feel good.

Tough but fair (6 out of 10).  Lots of hills especially on the back half but there were some flat sections.  Thankfully, most of the climbs were long and gradual.  It covered a nice mix of parks, trails and city streets but there was one MAJOR flaw with the organization.  There were only 4 aid stations and NO Gatorade (only water).  If this had been a warm and sunny day, I'm not sure I could have managed without electrolytes.

Not surprisingly, I was out a little faster than planned but not stupid fast and yes, the first mile was mostly a gradual decline.  My stomach remained jacked up early and I was afraid that I might have to pull over multiple times but fortunately, my luck held and the discomfort actually diminished after Mile 5 or so.  When I got through Mile 4 still feeling halfway decent, I knew that there was a good chance that I would not be collapsing.  Early on, I was on pace for about 1:48ish, which certainly would have been acceptable today and would represent a tremendous improvement over last time.  Unfortunately, I slipped a bit in the park in Mile 6 but still passed the halfway point around 55-flat (1:50 pace).  However, I had been warned about the back half of the course and figured that the realistic goal was to hold a sub-2 pace over the 2nd half.
8:05- (8:05)
8:12- (16:17)
8:17- (24:34)
8:34 (33:08)
8:20 (41:28)
8:34 (50:02)  10K around 52-flat.
8:53 (58:55)

At the beginning of Mile 8, we hit our first really tough hill and I decided to take a short walk break to save myself for the end.  Probably a good call but fears of a collapse were creeping back.  Thankfully, the course went back down for the remained of the mile and it was not long before I was back on pace.  Mile 10 contained another tough stretch with a climb on the trail followed by a turn on to the road that revealed more uphill.  Once again, I was reduced to walking.  By this point, I was doing math in my head and calculating how much of a fade I could endure yet still break 2 hours.  To my relief, I found that even if I slipped to 10:00 pace the rest of the way, I could still make it with about 2 minutes to spare.  Miles 11 contained 1 long downhill and a fairly long flat section through another loop in the park but I was running on fumes by this point.  Then, Mile 12 was just about as bad as advertised.  It was a long steady moderate grade for almost the entire mile and this time, I took a longer walk break.  I feared that it would be all uphill to the finish, which may put the sub-2 in jeopardy but yet again, when I knew I could not take any more climbing and my calves stabbed with pain, the course went back down briefly.  Mile 13 was a more gentle incline most of the way before a turn into the minor league baseball stadium and a finish at home plate.  I knew that I was looking at a 1:56:xx so I did not push it too hard down the stretch.  I really didn't have much to give anyway.
8:50 (1:07:45)
8:56 (1:16:41)
9:29 (1:26:10)
9:19 (1:35:29)
10:31 (1:46:00)
9:34 (1:55:34)
:45 (last .09)

Final thoughts:
I have now completed at least a half marathon in half the states, which completes the Half2Run Challenge.  I am proud of what I have accomplished and pleased by the 10+ minute improvement over last month but the predominant emotion is sadness.  I am simply not in condition to do this anymore.  I looked so bad on the walk back that several people asked me if I was okay.  Still, I think I have shown enough improvement to at least postpone the retirement decision until I get the results from Yasko and give the sulfur detox products another try.  They might work now if the prebiotics improved my mal-absorption issues.

Official result:
Time of 1:56:19.  Probably around the 50th percentile for my new AG.