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Friday, December 16, 2011

Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon Race Report!

Saturday (12/10) was the Rehoboth Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. Last year I was a spectator and my wife ran the full. We brought the girls with us last year and myself and the little ones got to watch mommy win the whole darn thing!
Well this year, after her doing the Chicago and NYC Marathons in October and November, she opted to just do the half. I was not in the best shape ever and have been dogging it since Chicago (I've picked things up a bit since Thanksgiving). I finally decided to throw my hat in the ring and signed up for the half. I was hoping for a 1:35, but I really had no clue what level of fitness I had. Leading up to the race, I put in a few 4-5 mile runs and finally ran 10 the Sunday prior to the race. Needless to say, I probably wasn't properly trained for a PR, but I was hoping to start at a reasonable pace (7:20ish) and pick it up the last three or so if I had anything left in the tank.

The weekend began Friday night with a pretty decent sized crew heading to the beach. In all, we had 4 other guys we run with stay at the family condo in Ocean City. We also knew quite a few other "XMP'ers" were running so since it's a relatively small race, we had a pretty good representation at the RB Marathon. We drove down and arrived just past 7 at packet pickup. We got our packets, Brad switched from the full to the half with no issue (out of our 6, 4 of us would do the half and 2 would do the full). It just so happened the Italian restaurant directly next to pickup was having a "marathon special" with pasta and a beer for $15. Obviously we had to take advantage of the offer. The food was pretty good, the beer cold, the company fantastic. Post dinner, we were on our way to Ocean City to unpack and hit the rack. We had a 7am gun time so not much time to fool around.
Wake up call was about 5 (the alarm was 5:30, but the guys were plenty vocal to get us moving). Threw down a bagel, mixed up some EFS with Pre-Race and drove to Rehoboth. We got a spot close to the start but opted to sit in the car for a bit. The forecast called for a low of 28, but we were pleasantly surprised to wake up to mid 40s - perfect race weather. I decided no throw-away top was necessary and went with short sleeves, gloves, and beanie.

We made our way to the bathroom and then race start. The half and full both start and finish at the same spot and we made our way to close to the front. Soon enough, after the National Anthem, the gun went off and we were off running. I settled into just under a 7:30 pace for the first two and when we hit the third mile I was shocked to see my Garmin at 2.75...huh??? I just assumed that we'd make that difference up as we went along, but I assumed wrong. It appears that the entire race turned on an out and back too early. While this was a well organized race, there were spots on the course that could have been marshalled much better (more on this to come). Oh well, not much I could do about the discrepancy and I just figured it would work itself out in the end. After all, I wasn't after a PR so I would just run by feel and hope I had something in the tank after 10 miles or so.
The half and full marathoners run together for the first nine miles and then the halfers turn around and head back. This was the first time I'd be able to gauge Chrissy's situation. While I knew she would have a shot to win the overall, you can't control who shows up so the win wasn't guaranteed. I hit mile 8 and figured I would be seeing her soon and a few minutes past the 8 mile mark, she and Brad were heading back to the finish. I gave her a shout of encouragement and then a few seconds later I saw the #2 woman. I yelled back to Chrissy she had about 10 seconds on #2 just to let her know (it was probably a bit more than that, but running my own race, 10 seconds seemed about right to me at the time. After that, it seemed like it took quite some time to get to the turn around, but I finally hit it and headed for home.
I ended up running probably 5-6 miles along side a 16 year old kid running his first half. He was shooting for a 1:40 and I told him at about 10 that we were going to hit 1:35 if he could hold on. He said he'd never run more than 11 (sounds like my first 10 miler experience). We hit 11 and I told him if he could run the final two in 15 minutes we'd easily be under 1:35. As we hit 12, I pulled away a bit from the kid and hoped he'd hang in there. As I made my way to the finish, there was an older guy up ahead with about a half mile to go. I made it my goal to catch him which I soon did. Then, I spotted a girl soon after. I wanted to try to catch her too. Despite the spectator yelling to her to not let the guy catch her, I did with maybe a quarter mile to go. There was no one else in the area so I was in pure "hold on for dear life" mode. I finally saw the finish and crossed in 1:32:39 for a PR...sort of. My Garmin showed 12.89. So, it seems we turned around a bit too early at mile 2.5ish. My wife, Brad, and Dan were all at the finish. My wife took the title! She ran a 1:25:09 and won by :39. Man she's awesome! Brad took 4th in the 35-39 age group, but was pacing Chrissy. Dan got 3rd in the 40-44. I ended up 9th which I'll take any day of the week!
We decided to head to the car and get some clothes on and then head over to the 21 mile mark to see if we could cheer on Ken, Jeff, and Greg. I gunned it over to the area and we worried we may have missed at least Ken. We were lucky and hadn't missed anyone...including the leader (we called these guys Team Beard pre-race - there were a few of them all bearded out).
A pic of Brad and Dan with THE WINNER! as we waited.

And eventually Ken came running by...
Oh yeah...one with me :) Go Team reGen! Ha!
We decided to wait in the car for a bit to see Greg and Jeff, and almost missed Greg entirely! We saw him (while we were in the car), and luckily stuck our heads out in time to give him a yell! He later said that gave him the energy to score his first sub 3 hour marathon! But as we waited for Greg, an unfortunate incident happened. As we sat in the car, I noticed another guy turn up into the neighborhood instead of continuing further down the road and onto the trail. The course at this point was NOT properly lined or marshalled! I jumped out of the car and yelled at the guy he was going the wrong way and he eventually got on the trail...hopefully only losing a few seconds. That was the only poor portion of the race (that we knew of). I guess that comes with the territory with smaller races. We waited another few minutes for Jeff and then realized we might miss Ken finish so we jetted towards the finish and find out we just missed Ken. Doh! Oh well, we saw Greg and Jeff finish and then we headed back to the condo to clean up and get back for the awards.

Soon enough we were back to the awards party, grabbed some food, awards, beer, and then were headed home. Another successful race for Team Graham (especially the female contingent)!
And one of me holding some more of the victors spoils...
Now it's back to the grind and time to train for some spring races!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Burnoff Race Report

I decided to do our club race Saturday post Thanksgiving. They had a 5 mile and 10 mile race. Despite running with the club the past couple years, we've never done a "club" race. I have to say there definitely will be more of these in the future. They are very low key, and best of all, FREE for club members. We had to pay a $5 deposit for our chip but then we use the same chip/bib for all club races. I have to say that's a pretty damn good deal. My wife ran the Turkey Chase 10k Thursday morning...and as has become the norm, she crushed it, winning her age group and placing 7th overall. She also came close to breaking 40 minutes! Only 11 more seconds to go and she's there. On a faster course she would have crushed it!

Onto Saturday...the whole family went and my daughters ran the fun run with my wife. My 5 year old gets a total kick out of racing and my 7 year old would much rather be in bed or watching cartoons... The race was in a local state park and it was flippin' hilly! Ugh. I was hoping to run a 6:45 pace, but after mile one, I knew that wasn't happening. Everyone else we run with was running the 10 miler so it was tempting to double up, but I decided I would see what I could do with the 5 miler and hope that I could bang out my goal time. Well, the course was tougher than I expected (at least for my current level of fitness), but I managed a 34:32ish (no start mat so just gun time and that's what my Garmin said :) ). About a 6:52 pace so fairly close to what I was hoping for. I think it's a good kick in the rear for me to get back at it and start working on things for the spring. Oh yeah...on a related note, I've been training with a heart rate monitor and raced with it Saturday. Definitely is taking some getting used to, but hoping this will help lead to big improvements!

Post race, we hit the car and loaded a back pack up with reGen and headed back to the finish to watch all of our crew roll in. By the end, we must have given out 5 or 6 cases of reGen! The word is definitely spreading!

Oh yeah..."star sighting" - Desiree Ficker ran the race (she grew up in my area) and easily won the women's 10 mile race. She made it look easy!

Thursday is a big day...Day 1 of Eagleman 70.3 prep. If all goes as planned, I will CRUSH my time of 5:41 from last year. Can.Not.Wait!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back to the grind!

Well after taking off WAY too much time after the Chicago Marathon, I am back in the swing of things. Hell, I even ran TWO days in a row. That must be some kind of record for me. So I've decided to do some small races to keep the motivation somewhat high(ish). A little 5 miler is on tap for Saturday - The Turkey Burnoff! And then a half marathon in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on December 10. The goal for the five miler is to try and maintain a 7 min pace and the half, maybe...MAYBE be close to a PR (1:33). Not holding my breath there, but if the wind is low, it should be a fast course.

Unfortunately, haven't ridden or swam in quite some time, but that should start ramping up in a couple weeks.

"When you want it as bad as you want to BREATHE, THEN you can be successful"

Dream Big! (<---courtesy of Mile Posts)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Slacking on all fronts!

Well, since Chicago, I have let myself go to complete crap. This is totally my M.O. EVERY.DAMN.TIME. I have got to stop doing this to myself. Hell, I don't even need to be doing anything crazy! Just get out there and get the blood flowing. I made great strides this year so to let myself fall into bad habits immediately after my big race, is just BS. I've got a half marathon scheduled in December so I better get my butt in gear. And which is also one of my M.O.'s, I will absolutely be shooting for a PR. Each passing day makes this less and less realistic so no better day than today to get rolling. Let's shoot for 4....mmmmk?

On cooler/funner news, we are heading to NYC Saturday morning for the ING NYC Marathon. I will just be a fan rooting on my wife and a couple friends. It should be a good time and hopefully will help stoke the fires again.

Any motivation suggestions? I have some big goals for 2012 and the work needs to begin NOW!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicago Marathon Race Report!

Coming into the Chicago Marathon, I had setup some big expectations for myself. My previous PR was at this years Boston Marathon (I ran for a charity thus allowing me to run without qualifying) where I ran a 3:28:08. At the time I thought perhaps I could have done a bit better, but I did struggle through a few miles there so I'm not sure how much better I could have done. That said, as we (my wife and I) chose to do the Chicago Marathon, there was one goal on my mind: qualifying for Boston. Therefore I would need a 3:15:59. I signed us up the first day registration opened assuming we would run just in time for Boston registration. Fast forward a couple months and a new registration process for the Boston Marathon is introduced...including opening a month early! Say goodbye to my Boston Qualifier.

Onto race weekend. I still set myself up with that lofty 3:15 goal. In fact, I told EVERYONE I was shooting for it. I started second guessing myself a bit and was worried I wouldn't be able to hit my goal. That said, I had every intention of going for it!

We flew into Chicago Saturday, hopped in a cab and headed downtown. We couldn't check in yet, but we were able to drop off our bags and then we proceeded to Niketown to catch a shuttle to the expo. There was a shuttle ready right when we got there and we were soon heading towards McCormick Place to pick up our bibs/chips/tees.
We arrive and the expo is well setup and we easily pick up everything we need, peruse the expo, run into some friends from our running group, and then head back to the shuttles and back to Niketown. After arriving at Niketown, we hit the Corner Bakery for a bit of lunch, and then back to the hotel to see if we can check in. We can/we do, we hit the room, unpack a bit and then relax a bit.

We decide to see if we can take a boat tour, but that doesn't work out, so we take the water taxi to the Navy Pier and we just kind of veg out there for a bit. Then it's back to the hotel, relax, dinner at Buca di Bepo, and then back to the hotel for some shut eye. We actually are able to get into bed fairly early and if all works out, I'll get a decent amount of sleep (close to 8 hours if it works out perfectly...).

Race morning is finally here! Decent sleep, but I was mostly awake the last hour or so in bed. Oh well, I'm pretty well rested. I try to get some calories in, but I'm struggling. This is the first time it's really hit me that I may not be able to hit my goal and I could crash...HARD. Really having a hard time eating, but I manage to drink a reGen and a bagel (wow, is that all I ate???) - well, I take about 45 minutes to finally polish off the bagel and by that time we're at the race start/gear check.
With everything checked in, it's one more stop to the porta pottys, and then to our corrals. Wow, craziness trying to get into the corrals with a last few minute surge to get there! Oh yeah, I realized a bit before this that I forgot to wear my pace tat. DOH! Well, I knew I had to average a 7:26 to hit 3:15 so I would try to keep it there.

Finally in the starting area and I'm getting pretty nervous. Find a few inches of empty space, sit down and do a quick back crack and stretch and it's almost go time. Soon enough, the pros are off along with everyone else. I'm across the starting mat within a minute thirty and I settle in, looking to do an "easy" 7:45 for the first mile and then steadily pick it up. I hit the one mile marker (by the way, the Garmin hit 1 mile at about the 6:30 mark - tough signal in the city, but I knew this - no auto lap!) at about 7:38...ok, right where I want to be. Mile 2 was 7:33 or so so I've got some work to do to get on pace for the 7:15, but 24.2 miles to do it in. First 5k comes and goes (along with some EFS Liquid Shot - thanks to www.personalbestnutrition.com) and by the end of mile 4, I am ahead of schedule. Ok Owen, time to back off a bit. I was feeling pretty good and trying to enjoy myself and the crowds, thanking the volunteers, etc. I hit the halfway point, I've finished my first flask of EFS Liquid Shot (wanted to finish around mile 12 and I did somewhere around 12 or 13) and I'm currently at 1:37:16. PERFECT. Now, to do that AGAIN. Yikes! Well, the miles keep ticking away and it's beginning to warm up. I was feeling pretty good, although the heat was definitely picking up. By mile 20 I was feeling it. Not so much so that it was going to take me down...yet, but enough that the run was definitely getting harder and keeping the pace was becoming tougher. I don't recall off hand without referring back to my Garmin, but I was below my needed pace for a few miles between 20 and 25. The Nike Cheer Zone at 24.2 had me picking things up knowing there were only 2 miles to go, but then I say to myself, "another 15 minutes??? Are you kidding me???" Even so, I kept up the pace and finally hit mile 25. I know I have enough in the tank to keep it going. I finally hit mile 26, chucked my other EFS Flask, and with one turn left, I know I'm going to do it. I could have given a little more, but crossing the finish line at 3:14:50 was pretty damn satisfying.

I hit my goal! I can't tell you how pleased I was/am with the results. It only takes me a couple minutes to find my wife waiting for me. I of course try to act like I didn't hit it, but she knew. Oh what's that? What did she run? Oh, just a 3:03:28! WTF??? The woman can fly! The Graham's had a pretty damn good day in Chicago!

Oh, to celebrate the accomplishments, a little food and drink at the Signature Lounge on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taper time!

Less than two weeks until the Chicago Marathon. I'm feeling pretty good, and I've set myself up with an ambitious goal. I ordered my Pace Tats today. I went with my big goal, and one with my "I should definitely hit this" goal times (3:15 and 3:20). My PR is a 3:28 at the Boston Marathon (I ran for a charity this past year because I'm still a ways off from qualifying and I wanted to race since my wife was running) so this should be a lofty goal and I will be thoroughly stoked to hit my top end goal. Most of the work is done. A track workout tomorrow will pretty much be my last hard effort. 10ish miles on Saturday and then just a couple more workouts til game day.

Get fast or die trying

Monday, September 12, 2011

Parks Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday was the Parks Half Marathon. This takes place in Rockville, MD from the Rockville Metro running mostly down trails through Rock Creek Park to downtown Bethesda. Rumor had it that the course may be a bit under water/mud, but I had a set goal in mind and a PR to shoot for. In four weeks I will be running the Chicago marathon and my goal is to technically qualify for the Boston Marathon with a 3:15:59 or better. Chances are this will be way too late to actually get into Boston, but the ability to technically say I BQ'd (for this year at least - next year qualifying is 5:59 faster - or 3:10 or better for my age group). With this in mind, I wanted to run about a 7:15 pace for a half marathon hoping this would put me close to being able to run about a 7:30 pace in Chicago (I will need to officially run about a 7:28 pace to be 3:15:59 or better). I lined up with the 1:35:00 pacer (7:14 pace) and basically wanted to try and hold on as long as I could. The first couple miles were a bit quick, but there was some downhills that helped keep the pace up. At mile three there is a steep short hill dubbed the "silencer" and the pace slowed down a bit. This was also evident in mile four and somewhere around the third or fourth mile I decided to pick up the pace a bit and I pulled away from the group. I maintained a sub 7:10 pace for the next couple miles and then had a slower seventh mile and I began to wonder if I would fall off a bit. I knew I had some time in the bank, but I would still need to do work to hit 1:35 or better. At about 6.5 I opened my Gu Roctane and began to "sip" on it hoping for a water stop to come up. It seemed to take a bit to find that stop so eventually I took the whole gel. Soon after I was able to down it with some water and perhaps this allowed me to pick things up and maintain my pace. I seemed to be fairly steady/consistent throughout and by mile 10 I was ahead of pace by a bit and would most likely definitely hit my goal unless the wheels decided to fall off. I was hoping to hold on until I hit mile 11 and then pick it up for the final two. Well, this didn't quite happen, but I maintained close to my 7:15 pace I was looking for and when I hit mile 12, I slowly began picking up the pace. The Parks Half Marathon runs along a trail I am very familiar with. My running group routinely runs portions of this race so I know where I am and how much I have to go through much of the race. There is about a quarter mile of tunnel you run through just towards the end and I finally started to put the hammer down (for me anyway). I wanted to be a bit faster here, but my gut was telling me, "push any harder and you will have a visitor." I did manage to put a final push down and pass a few people and only one person was able to hammer it past me down the final stretch so I am ok with that (I think I could have picked it up a bit to hang on with him, but I was almost positive I would have puked and it may have been prior to the finish). I crossed the line in an official time of 1:33:47 beating my goal by over a minute and about a 5 minute 30 second PR. I'll take it!

Post race I caught up with my wife who incidentally just went out, 4 minute PR'd, AND won her age group (8th female overall as well). One day I'll catch her...maybe. I also met up with my cousins and a bunch of friends. This is a point to point race so I wasn't able to bring a bunch of reGen (or any reGen) but my buddy actually had one for me! That definitely hit the spot.

I'm sore today, but hoping to catch a few recovery miles. To be determined... I also have to treat my plantar faciaitis issue. It is definitely flaring up post race! Ouch!

On to CHICAGO!!! 3:15 or bust!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Team reGen

Ok, I have been meaning to mention that I'm lucky enough to be sponsored by the recovery drink reGen through Active Ambassadors. I really was lucky to get this opportunity. The first time I tried reGen was after the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon where samples were being handed out as we left the finishing area. I definitely enjoyed it at the time but didn't think much more about it until I heard about the opportunity through AA. I've always been a big fan of supplementation since I used to be really into lifting weights. So having the opportunity to support a nutrition company is right up my alley.

For any of you endurance athletes out there, check out Active Ambassadors for sponsorship opportunities.

I have to say that I love reGen as do most everyone who I've handed samples out to. Tastes great and starts the recovery process as soon as you start drinking it. There haven't been too many workouts lately where I haven't had one immediately afterwards. My workouts have been going great and I'm really looking forward to some PRs this fall!

So check out both Active Ambassadors and reGen. If you've tried reGen, let me know what you think!

Almost a big week...

It's funny being a part of an "experienced" marathon running group (aptly named XMP). I'd venture to say out of the 200 +/- members in the group, I'm probably very close to the bottom in number of miles run per week. A combination of time, laziness, procrastination, and body can't handle that much contributes to my lack of miles. I'm averaging over 30 miles a week the last couple months, but I'm not hitting that magic number of 40 (unless we manipulate the first day of the week in which case I did hit it last week). But I go by my www.runningahead.com training log which runs Monday through Sunday. I hit 37 and change last week. Oh so close, but not quite there. I would have hit it, but my wife was at the beach this weekend so I wasn't able to squeeze in those last 3 miles on Sunday. Oh well, hopefully this week...only 34 miles to go...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things looking up...

Despite dealing with some injuries (broken toe, plantar fasciitis), my running is coming around. I have a big goal of 3:15 or better at the Chicago Marathon with my best time of 3:28 from the Boston Marathon this past April. That's a pretty big jump, but I do think it's possible. I've got two months to get into peak form so we'll see how that pans out.

Last night was our group "speed" workout. We did 8 miles with 4 miles of lactacte threshold (with 1/2 mile active recovery between the work miles). I moved myself up two pace groups to push myself a bit as I don't think the pace for my pace group is enough of a work effort for me. I'm definitely better at shorter distances anyway (even though I have few results) so moving up was the right move. We averaged about a 6:50 pace over the four miles which I'm very happy with. That definitely gave me some confidence moving forward that there is the potential to truly do something big at Chicago. I'm still a long way out and to date and I have yet to hit over 30 miles in a week (I should be well over that this week). The first big test will be the half marathon on Sept. 11 to gauge where I truly am.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Well, I think I've decided to finally take a big and important step in finding a tri coach. I would like to get a true assessment of my swim/bike/run, but especially my bike. I am a good swimmer and know I could be much better simply by actually swimming (hey, I grew up swimming so I use it as an excuse to not go as much). My run is improving a lot because I am - go figure - running a lot more. My bike improved this year by about 5 minutes in my olympic distance tri and I was sub 3 hours in my first and only Half Ironman (which was my goal), but I also had some gear improvments that certainly could count towards those improvements. I would like to say it was all me, but Zipp wheels were probably a key component in cutting some time. I know I need to ride more and ride hills and ride more, but I feel like I should be MUCH better on the bike. It gets frustrating when so many people pass me while riding. I need to fix this. I'm hoping having someone looking over my shoulder will help me get over this hump and start me on the path to fast riding, but when I'm averaging sub 20 mph on an olympic or 70.3 tri, I just can't expect to be towards the front of the pack.

I've sent a couple emails out hoping to find a coach so we'll see what transpires. Anyone have a recommendation in the DC area??

Friday, July 29, 2011

The busted toe

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

A bit of a setback.

I mean seriously??? WTF? Was doing a few things trying to get out the door for a run to my daughter's soccer practice. I was scanning some documents and *BOOM* I kick one of my books sitting on the floor. It hurt, and I did my little sprint around the house trying to displace the pain, and it eventually subsides. I finish what I'm doing and go to get dressed for my run. Then I look down at my toe. It is already black and blue! Crap, I've seen this before as I broke another toe last summer. Well, this morning, the bruising has move all the way down the toe and is now the top of my foot also shows bruising. Well, I figured I'd see how a run felt and ran the 4 miles to the field. It pretty much hurt every step, but not unbearbly. The plan is for a 12 miler tomorrow morning at the beach and the 5k that I wanted to do has flown out the window. At least I didn't pay for the registration yet.

We'll see how the 12 miler goes and let's just hope that with some tape, it won't be too bad.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And So It Begins...

So I've decided to start a little blog giving you a picture into my pursuit of (relative) excellence. I used to be a pretty good athlete. Swimming, football, lacrosse, you name it, I played it and mostly played/did well. So now here I am, married to a wonderful woman (who is an outstanding runner), two kids, and trying to douse the competitive flames that still burn inside me.

I run and compete in triathlons. I'm a middle of the pack racer, but absolutely aspire to move towards the front. I definitely think it's possible, and hopefully I actually put the work in that is necessary to get there. It would be nice to be at least close to as fast as my wife is as well :) - she is a podium type racer (3:09 marathon currently).

So this blog will chronicle my workouts and races, talk about my aspirations, and maybe even inspire a person or two. While I'm writing this blog for me to help track my progress and hopefully learn from my mistakes, if you come across this, I hope you enjoy this.

Upcoming races:
7/30/11 North Beach 5k Dewey Beach, DE (tentative, but shooting for a PR)
9/11/11 Parks Half Marathon Rockville, MD (Goal of 1:35-ish)
10/9/11 Chicago Marathon (Goal of sub 3:15 - lofty, but I do believe I can get there)

More to come!