Trail Tumbles

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Biologist BobTrails will kill you if you’re not careful.  In this photo, biologist Bob examines the skeletal remains of a deer that we ran by just short of two miles on the Picture Rock Trail this morning.  Keith, Joey and I didn’t wait around for the lecture to finish before we screamed up the mountain at a strong pace, that is until Joey stumbled over a rock near four miles and landed hard.  We took the final mile up a bit more conservative.  I should mention that Joey is only in Middle School.  Don’t think I ran more than three miles until my sophomore year of high school.

Bob caught us on the way down with about two miles remaining on our ten miler.  But he took his eyes off the trail and took a spill.  Falling on the way down is generally more painful.  We met up with the two Jens at the trail head to discover Bob’s wife, one of the two Jens, also took a tumble.  I’m guessing the night moves will be delicate in their bed tonight.

Banged Up

The Jungle Trail

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brit & dad

Running hurts.  Not the running itself so much, I enjoy that.  But the recovery.  It’s a pain I don’t mind so much because it’s positive feedback that I’m working out.  But I’ve dropped my mileage this summer, or more importantly I’ve reduced the number of days I run, and that makes my legs more sore in between runs.

ellie & dad

That I’ve been more sore in between runs tells me I’m not doing enough to maintain my fitness.  I could reduce the distance of my runs, but I don’t want to do that.  I enjoy running 8 to 10 miles.  Anything less isn’t worth a shower afterward.  Research suggests there’s no health benefit to running beyond 35 miles per week, but I like the 45 to 60 mile range.  Running is a hobby that I like to put that much time into, essentially 6 to 8 hours per week.  And I think 5 days per week keeps the pain away more than only 3 days per week.

karen & ed

Discovering a new trail will help me run the miles this summer.  Dave explained to me how there’s a trail that branches off LoBo at the softball diamond near the corner of 83rd and Niwot Road.  I’ve never seen it because I turn a few feet before the street crossing to take the unofficial dirt trail along the creek that cuts behind the softball field.  This new spur gives me a 10 miler if I take it up behind NHS.  Ellie tells me the section around NHS is called the Cross Country Loop, and that a heavily-canopied section is called the Jungle Trail.  That’s a pretty cool single track.  Best feature is a strong hill near the turn-around.  Worst part of LoBo is it’s so flat.  This greatly enhances my workout.  I ran it both yesterday and today for a total of twenty miles.

I ran it yesterday, smartly wearing a hydration pack.  Not sure why I thought I could forego water today.  I think I was only planning to run 8 but got lured into running the new trail again.  Dipping my hat in the irrigation ditch helped on my return.  What really saved me from walking though was the Sebestas came up from behind me on their bikes at 7 miles and Dave left me with his water bottle.  That carried me home.

the girls

A couple of ten milers.  A new trail.  And brunch with my girls at the Greenbriar Inn.  The perfect Father’s Day weekend.

My New Copy Editor

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Telephone_Building_in_Denver

A month ago, one week into my new job, I navigated my way up to the 11th floor to look at my old office from when I worked in the Denver Main Central Office 23 years earlier.  Not sure of the date on this photo, but the art deco building was completed in the early 1940s.  The 11th floor was completely empty, under construction.  The experience left me nostalgic still, thinking of old work friends.  Namely my boss Lesley, and one of my colleagues, Victoria. Maybe I thought of them together because they were close friends themselves.  So I called them.  We finally met up this morning for breakfast at Tangerine on 28th and Iris.

They are both doing well, traveling the globe together to exotic locales, most recently Northern Italy.  Sadly, both their husbands have passed.  They look healthy and remain active though.  I’m going to ask Lesley to hike around the Indian Peaks later this summer.  Victoria is not exactly the outdoor type.

I also intend to ask Lesley to help me with my next novel.  She’s retired now, but apparently performs copy editing.  The irony here is that, as my boss, she constantly edited my work.  My job as a data network design engineer involved a great deal of technical writing.  She would take a red pen to my papers.  She no doubt enjoyed this activity as she was a college English professor in an earlier career.  I’m also hoping she will help me with some of my dialog that takes place in the UK, because she’s also British.  Lesley will be the perfect copy editor.

The Surge at 4K

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surge at 4K a

This photo captures my surge at the 4 kilometer mark in the Bolder Boulder.  Twelve year old Jordan Leblow catches me here, after starting in the wave 60 seconds behind me.  We run nearly together the rest of the race, both running 7:26 for our final mile.  Pretty fast for a little kid as he finishes 6th in his age group.  I do beat 29 year old David Shoening, running on the other side of me in this pic, by a solid 15 seconds.  The difference in our times was from this surge through to the fifth mile.

Folsom 5th mile a

38 year old Terra Beaton might be passing me here on Folsom at the 5.5 mile mark as she beat me by over 10 seconds.  She ran nearly identical to me except both her first and final miles were 5 seconds faster.  Like me, she finished 8th for her age.

Folsom Stadium b

I didn’t put on much of a kick but I did pass 19 year old Callie Trautner here inside Folsom Stadium, beating her by over 3 minutes.  Callie finished 13th in a competitive women’s age group.

celebration beer

This is how a 55 year old man celebrates after racing against a multitude of generations over six hard miles, by drinking a Dale’s Pinner Throwback IPA before 8am.  The weather channel said the race started out at 51°.  I would guess closer to 60°, I was sweating hard from the first mile.  My next planned event isn’t until October and I’m not sure how I’ll train until then.  Might turn my focus back to writing my next novel.  It’s a sequel to Cyber War I.  I think that’s the plan for the rest of the weekend – writing.

Bolder Boulder 2017

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BA Wave Start

I prepped for this morning’s 10K with coffee, leaving my stomach mostly empty of foodstuff for the six mile race.  I would passionately breakfast on the java bean like this every morning if my knowledge of nutrition didn’t suggest otherwise.  Unlike running a marathon, my muscles won’t be at risk of depleting their glycogen stores before crossing the finish line.  Ideally, I’ll avoid debilitating oxygen debt as well.  A conservative start the first half mile should position me for a strong surge after two miles.  That’s my plan.

Karen dropped me off at 30th and Valmont and I looked over at my racing flats sitting in the seat next to me.  If I wore them instead of my training flats, I’d be committing to run hard.  Mental toughness is less than abundant at 6am.  With caffeine for courage, I put ’em on.  I laced them up and jogged down the street to the race start on 30th and Walnut, where  I queued up in my BA wave corral after a little warmup.  Checkout the little green Martian photo-bomb.

I blogged the other day I was confident I could run a 7:20 pace, but was hoping for a 7 minute pace.  I ran exactly a 7:20 pace.  I felt comfortable with my first mile in 7:13, although it felt faster than that.  Mile two was typical for me in 7:17.  I already knew by this point that I would likely average a 7:20 pace, but I surged per plan after 4 kilometers.  Still, mile 3 came out as my slowest, at 7:26, just like always.  That mile is tough after completing the climb up Folsom.

The fourth mile wasn’t much faster in 7:23, but again, just like every year, I ran my fifth mile the fastest, in 7:05, amazingly the same exact time as last year.  I struggled to maintain my pace after that and slowed back down after I reached Folsom again.  I ran the 6th mile in 7:22 for a 45:29 finish.  8th place in my age group.  A little slower than last year.  I’m fine with that since I’ve only been running on weekends for the last five weeks.  And I maintained a pace that challenged my lactate threshold from start to finish.  That Bolder Boulder is always a tough race.

BB Finish

Bolder Boulder Race Plan

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BB shoe

Everyone has a race plan for running the Bolder Boulder, until they run up that mile-long hill on Folsom in the second mile.  That’s when they learn that at altitude, even slopes feel like mountains.  I like strategerizing my race plans ahead of time.  My goals for Memorial Day include running faster than the year before, and to do so with a sub 7 minute per mile pace.  The fun in planning is from knowing this course so well.  I know every turn, every uphill, every down slope.  I know the third mile will very likely be my slowest and the fifth mile will be my fastest.

So another goal will be to run the third mile better.  One clever way to do that is to run slower the first two miles.  It’s not easy starting slow in such a massive race stacked with screaming spectators from start to finish.  The excitement is amped up, and my BA wave will start out fast.  I’m going to try to run the first mile a little over 7 minutes, maybe 7:05.  Rinse and repeat for mile two.  That will have me averaging over 7 minute miles, but if I can commit to race mode at the top of Folsom Street, I’ll make it up over the next four miles with a sustained surge.

The best place to start my surge might actually be half way into mile three at 4KM on Glenwood Drive.  This is near the high point of the course.  The streets undulate a bit here and continue a slight climb to mile four, which is where I historically start my surge.  It’s also where everyone else surges.  When they zig, I’ll zag.  One issue with this plan though is that the street gets crowded in the third mile as starting waves begin to converge and it might be difficult to pass other runners before mile four.

I’ll leverage that convergence at 4 kilometers.  Runners who have started 60 seconds behind me in the next wave and maintaining a 6:40 pace will catch me about here.  Surging will be easier if I can follow after a faster runner as they pass me.  The question will be how long I maintain my surge.  I don’t expect to be able to hold it to the end.  That’s fine, but I’d like to maintain it through mile 5.  And I’m not certain I can run a 7 minute pace.  I’ve only been running on weekends for the month of May, and might have lost some conditioning.  I’m certain I can maintain a 7:20 mile pace.  Regardless of pace, the plan for Monday is for a conservative start and an early, sustained surge after two miles.  I’d like to break 44 minutes.

The Lazy Gardener

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IMG_0830My strategic delay in planting this year looks brilliant given last week’s heavy spring snowfall.  The wine I drank this weekend was in celebration of my gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, kale, spinach, leeks, lettuces, chard, strawberries, melon, and a mix of florals to bring the bees; not the pity party so many of my fellow growers wallowed in as they assessed the damage to their crops.  Sorry guys but second mouse gets the cheese.

I have to share with you the tremendous energy I have after planting.  The mud, deep under my nails, gives my fingers satisfaction they can’t find hammering away on a keyboard.  Like a walk in the woods, despite the physicality of it, I’m sitting on the porch, drinking a cold one, feeling recharged.  Gardens give life.  I get so excited just thinking about sautéing those greens.  This is going to be a good summer.

Time to Run

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time

It’s the weekend so it’s time to run.  Got in fifteen miles today.  I’ll target fifteen again tomorrow.  Now that I commute to work, the weekend is all I have and I want to get in at least thirty miles per week.  I’ll start working from home a couple of days a week too, after I get my legs under me at the office.  I don’t need to run every day.  I’m already in decent shape.  I just need to maintain.

The Bolder Boulder is next weekend.  I need to show up and meet expectations with a top ten finish for my age.  After that, my next big event won’t be until October, a three day run through spectacular national parks – Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon.  If you’re jealous and thinking about it, it’s already sold out.  I’ll need these big weekend runs to prep.  The third day will be a 19 mile run around the Rainbow Rim Trail with 1550 feet of vertical loss and 1600 feet of vertical gain.  I’m going to need to add some mountain trail runs to my weekend routine.

Marathon Photos

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tunnel

I registered for the Bolder Boulder today.  I wanted to wait until after running the Colorado Marathon to be certain I would still be up for running a race at the end of May.  Marathons sometimes require a bit of recovery.  I felt fine this week though, ran 10 miles today.  These photos are gratis from the Colorado Marathon.  The one up top coming out of the tunnel is around two miles, which is about where I put away the ear buds.  I don’t always like music when I run.

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This photo above is somewhere in the first half.  The one below is around 16 miles.  I passed that lady behind me in the pink top, 32 year old Nele Lefeldt of Houston, after the first 10k.  Interesting to see she remained right behind me this far.  Ultimately she beat me by twenty minutes.  I passed other runners non-stop from the start to when I got sick in mile 22.  Probably should have stuck with the 3:30 pace sign which I caught around 3 miles, but I got irritated by the kid who commented on my age and surged past.

half

I bet not many of you promote yourself in races like I did with a shirt referencing my novel, Cyber War I.  I know a thing or two about marketing.  Not sure what throwing up through mile 22 will do for sales.

16 miles

Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to train much before the Bolder Boulder, but I’m in a good starting wave, BA – the 5th wave.  I suspect I’ll be able to match last year’s time of 44 minutes.  I like to run the second half of that race hard, from the high point at Casey Hill on 13th St., to the bridge over Boulder Creek on Folsom.  I don’t save anything for the final quarter mile into the stadium.  That hill isn’t worth racing up.  Two more weeks of training.  See you in Boulder on Memorial Day.

26 miles

Poudre Canyon

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IMG_0788

A marathon is a long run.  Don’t bother fact checking that, unless you intend to run one.  In my experience, it’s also true that the miles in the second half of the event are longer than the first thirteen miles, if measured by time rather than distance.  That was true today as the 70° heat eventually caught up to me.  Still, I had a good run.  This photo of me and Karen was taken in the Cubby Room at Bisetti’s Ristorante.  We went for Italian and for some reason got sat in their most romantic setting.  It’s a private room with a fireplace.  Yes, I drink wine the night before a marathon.  You never know when it’s going to be your last.

20 miles smile

Marathons can also make for a long day.  I boarded a bus from the Hilton Fort Collins at 4:30am this morning to ride up Poudre Canyon for the 6:30am start of the 2017 Colorado Marathon.  My Weather Channel app said the race would begin at about 54°.  That was from the night before, I didn’t have a signal in the canyon.  Other people were showing 60°.  Not ideal for running a marathon.  Surprisingly, I’m still smiling in this photo at 20 miles.

20 miles barn

My buddy Chris drove out to Fort Collins to take these photos.  Can’t thank him enough.  This one is the same spot, at 20 miles.  You can see the cloud cover helped to mitigate the heat.  I ran the first half at a 7:30 pace.  Pretty fast considering I train between 8 and 9 minutes per mile, depending on the distance.  I knew this was from a combination of the nearly 1% negative grade and running with others.  This had me well ahead of my target time of a 3:50 finish.

21 miles

My pace dropped to 8 minute miles for the 3rd 10K, miles 14 to 20, still really decent.  This accomplished one of my biggest goals, which was to run the third quarter of this marathon strong.  The heat got to me right after this photo though.  You can see the fatigue setting in.  I ended up vomiting three times in mile 22, which began my slow down.  You could say I vomited a 9:30 pace for mile 22.

23 miles

Before I succumbed to the heat, I was on pace to easily qualify for Boston, and was feeling excited.  Running ten pounds over my weight from the last few years, I wasn’t expecting to run this fast.  But I slowed down to a 10:30 pace for miles 23 and 24, then an 11:30 pace for the final two miles.  After getting sick, I began to stop at the aid stations for a half minute to not only drink additional fluids, but to pour several cups of water over my head.  Seemed like the smart thing to do.  Not sure I would have finished if I didn’t stop for water.  I train with my heart rate under 150 beats per minute; the combination of this heat and my early pace gave me an average heart rate of 177 bpm.  Not used to that.

kick

I did finish, fairly exhausted and with a bit of cramping afterward.  It was good to have Chris and Karen there to help me recover.  Not sure if I’ll be able to train for marathons in the near future, now that I commute to Denver for my new job, but I’d like to run this puppy again.  Great course.  Just need to get lucky with the weather.  I thought my bib number, 537, all primes, would work some magic, but weather rules in marathons.  I’m happy with this one though.  Great run overall.  Finished at 3:42 and took second for my age.  As I was passing an Indian kid, about 20 years old, earlier in the race, he said to me in a strong, rhythmic accent, “Wow, do you mind sir, telling me your age?”  Told him I’m 55 and he said something else about being impressed.  Not sure what he saw.  My hat would have been covering my gray hair.  Apparently I look old from the neck up.

finish

In Between Jobs

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wapiti trailWhat did I do on my one day off, the start to my three day weekend, in between jobs?  Seriously?  You have to ask?  I went on a trail run.  Six miles up and down the Wapiti Trail at Heil Valley Ranch.  Gorgeous outside too, with 50° and full-on sunshine.  I wore shorts and a long-sleeve T.  The weather will turn to snow around 6 or 7 and the temperature will drop to below 30° later tonight.  Good thing I could run early.

I would have enjoyed taking a week off between jobs but CenturyLink wanted me to start as soon as possible.  They were going to have me fly to DC the first day but they couldn’t pull that off for a new hire.  Would have been nice to meet all the team face-to-face but sort of glad because it likely would have required traveling on Sunday and I want my three day weekend.  Just sort of hanging out now, setting up my new Mac Mini, merging photo libraries from various other machines.  Fun stuff.

Big Blue

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IBM BookshelfMomentos from twenty-three years at IBM sit on my bookshelf.  Maybe more are hiding in my desk drawers.  I might have lifted my stapler from the office.  My history with IBM began when I drove a forklift working on their packaging line the summer of 1981, as part of the production of word processors manufactured in their Austin, Texas facility.  I later worked as a computer operator as an intern in 1990 while obtaining my masters from CU in Boulder.  I then started my 23 year run in 1994 with their wholly-owned subsidiary ISSC.  I forget what that stands for now.

My stash includes a coffee mug from that first gig with ISSC, various recognition things, a passport with all its pages full of stamps, a sticker making fun at me for an attempt to write a motivational blog when times were bleak – made me laugh even though the joke was on me – and the ubiquitous Think logo.  Not pictured, the stapler because I use that.

Karen and I have always considered it ironic that my career was so steady while she averaged three W2s and 1099-misc forms annually from her contract jobs, because our personalities suggest the inverse.  She’s cautious and I’m the risk taker.  But I was generally satisfied, doing really cool things.  When I did begin to think of departing, other life events got in the way.  And my searches were always passive, meaning I only responded to recruiters contacting me first.  I could enumerate a half dozen reasons for finally leaving but the primary logic is that sometimes stimulating professional growth requires a new start somewhere else.  So that’s what I’m doing.  New job begins May 1st.

Funniest thing is that, because I turn 55 on Monday, tomorrow, three days before my last day on the job, I qualify for retirement.  Specifically, the retirement benefits IBM makes available to departing employees based on certain criteria of age and years of service.  I get to take my pension with me and roll it over into an IRA.  And I get future health benefits that I’ll be able to apply toward medical insurance premiums after I’m retired for reals.  I didn’t plan this, it’s all bonus.

Meeting retirement criteria though, actually accepting the benefits, on top of turning 55, is enough to make me consider that I might have reached middle age.  I didn’t pay much attention to turning 50, but 55, well, it has twice as many fives in it.  Karen arranged for a few friends to come over next Friday evening for a happy hour to celebrate both my birthday and changing jobs, and it has the undeniable feel of a retirement party to it.  My fault I suppose for working so many years at IBM before moving on.  I’m not normally very introspective.  Very few of these blogs ever wax nostalgic.  But saying goodbye to so many colleagues and the events of my last days has given me pause to reflect on my career.

I’ll be 70 in another fifteen years.  Safe to say I’ll be retired before then.  I simply don’t feel that old.  I run a marathon in another two weeks.  I’m still youthful, in my mind.  Granted, I grip the stair rail walking down in the morning, to support my delicate knees and ankles.  But that’s just because I run so many darned miles.  After sporting a buzz cut throughout my 40s, I grew my hair out, and it’s not all entirely gray.  It still grows like a weed.  I will admit to listening to relaxing music, but that’s my acquired taste.  I still wear blue jeans and t-shirts.  I still do new things.  Published a book.  I’m taking on a new job.  I’m not dead yet.

Neither is IBM.  It might seem like I’m leaving a sinking ship.  Five years of shrinking revenue.  But I’m not leaving because of that.  Like most people still there, I believe in their strategic imperatives, and I understand their business will diminish before it picks back up.  That’s simply the way creative destruction works.  Other than say the phone company, IBM is perhaps the only American technology company still around after 100 years.  If I say IBM, you hear computers.  IBM is synonymous with technology.  IBM will be fine.  By the way, I have a half dozen IBM-logo button downs from working as a booth-babe at trade shows if anyone is interested.

Marathon Nerves

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Banner13

Ever train for and run a marathon?  Since 2010, the upcoming Colorado Marathon will be my twelfth.  First time to run this particular event, although I did run the 10K associated with it last year.  It was a dream run in the May snowfall.  This photo above is of the marathon from last year running through Poudre Canyon.  If you have run a marathon, then you can likely appreciate my current state of mind.

A marathon on your calendar is like waiting for a hurricane to roll in from the sea.  Like being called into the principle’s office as a kid after ditching class.  Like prepping for a colonoscopy.  You know you’re going to get your ass kicked.  The closer I get to May 7th, the more completely preoccupied I am with thoughts of the final 10K.  Those last six miles when the legs attempt forward motion without the benefit of glycogen.  I know I can run twenty miles, I’ve reached that distance in my workouts.  Regardless of conditioning, completing 26.2 miles is never a sure thing.  Generally training builds confidence, but marathons don’t care.

Part of my nervousness likely stems from not having run a marathon in 18 months.  And knowing I’m ten pounds heavier than I was in my last four marathons.  My pace will be slower, I’m predicting 9 minute miles.  That doesn’t bother me.  Being able to hold that 9 minute pace after twenty miles is what I think about in all my recent training runs.  I expect the first half, the first thirteen miles, to be enjoyable.  The big question is at what mile running stops feeling comfortable.  And how I’ll deal with it.  I’ve never not finished a marathon.  I’ve had some go south and done my share of walking.

There’s a sizable hill after 18 miles.  That’s unfortunate placement because that’s right where runners typically hit the proverbial wall.  When there’s no more fuel to burn.  Cramps tend to occur around twenty miles too but like a flat tire, those can be fixed; whereas an empty tank can leave you stranded.  If I have to, I’ll walk that hill and try to fire the engines back up on the downward slope after the top.

Oh well.  I should stop thinking about it.  I’m committed.  I have one more week of decent training.  My taper starts Monday.  I probably won’t even run the final week.  I’ll be commuting to a job in Denver and don’t expect to have time.  Won’t matter.  Can’t fall out of shape in a single week.

The Perils of Trail Running

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picture rock gang

I was all set to run my final twenty miler today but instead received a tempting group text last night from the running gang to run Picture Rock.  I can run twenty miles tomorrow.  My marathon training plan is flexible that way.  I haven’t run with the gang in quite some time.  It was great seeing everyone for Easter weekend.

We all started out together the first couple of miles.  This trail is uphill non-stop for nearly six miles.  Keith and I left the larger group after two miles and continued at our pace to the top.  The grade isn’t steep so it’s not as difficult as it sounds.  It is at altitude though.  I run so regularly on a flat trail that it challenged me.  We ran up fairly aggressively, but took a cautious approach on the return down.  My legs were sufficiently fatigued and I didn’t want to risk hurting myself before my upcoming marathon.

Jen Louden

Jen was less cautious and took a spill.  I wasn’t there to see it but she didn’t seem overly concerned herself.  Her response was, “minor raspberries really.”  The surprising thing was that not more of us fell considering the size of our group.  Picture Rock is fairly technical with all the rocks.  I’ve fallen three or four times on this trail.  Usually on the way down.  Falling hurts at my age.  Still, trail running is worth the risk.  It recharges your body and soul like few things can.  Happy Easter everyone.

Change is Good

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Beth in Paris

I got nothing this week, so I’m posting this photo of my darling buddy Beth after completing her Paris Marathon this morning.  Paris France, not Texas.  My buddy Chris will be running the Boston Marathon in another week, on a Monday actually, Patriot’s Day, just before taxes are due.  Training for marathons is decidedly less exciting than running them.  I need to slog it out for another four weeks before I get my day in the sun.

I need to keep up the boring mileage for the next two weeks before I can start to taper.  I’m changing that training strategy though.  The long runs wear me out too much for the shorter runs.  My average pace, long or short, is over 9 minutes per mile.  I’m going to keep my long runs at 10 miles or less from now on.  Ten miles actually feels short to me now.  I can maintain a strong pace for that distance, and the next day my legs aren’t so fatigued that I can run fast again.

I would need to run close to an 8 minute per mile pace to qualify for Boston.  I can see now that’s not going to happen, but I’d like to work on speed somewhat over the next few weeks to be able to run under a 9 minute pace.  That will give me a finishing time under 4 hours, which I’m always happy with, especially if I can run comfortably at that pace.

In addition to keeping my legs fresh for speed, shorter runs will enable me with more energy and time for stretching afterward.  That’s arguably as important as the miles.  Avoiding muscle overuse injury becomes important this close to the race.  My knees and ankles have been weak and should enjoy the respite.  I’m not a slave to routine and am always flexible to change.  Change is good.