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Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

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Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:22 pm

So, hey, I’ve decided to blog again. I wanted to wait until I formally decided what my 2012 marathon plans are and now I have. As the title of the blog references, I’m targeting the Tucson Marathon on December 9 as my goal race. The blog title is a shout out to my good buddy Schuey as well but I’ll let you puzzle that out.



What are my plans? The goal for me remains a sub 3 marathon or bust. Despite having run 1:25, 1:24 and 1:22 in my last 3 raced half marathons, I’m 0-fer on trying to run 26.2 In under 3 hours. In fact, I haven’t been particularly close. Two 3:09s and a couple of others worse than that. I feel like I’ve run adequate training mileage and nailed quality workouts leading up to my previous sub3 attempts and executed a good in-race plan a couple of times going for it but the late race blow ups have been pretty bad and I’ve become too accustomed to the final 10k death march of a finish. I’ve definitely struggled in any kind of warm temps and also with late race cramping. Ugh, the distance just owns me right now. Marathons are so much fun, aren’t they? But I’m going to go for it again and I’m hoping picking Tucson stacks the deck a bit in my favor as well.



Why Tucson? Downhill. Cold temps.



I think I’m a pretty good downhill runner and haven’t been plagued with the quad soreness that others have experienced at races like Boston. I’ll definitely be specifically preparing for some long stretches of downhill running by using my treadmill set to negative incline and there’s an excellent 1 mile long hill in a state park near my house that I’ve done repeats up/down on before. Honestly, the expected cooler temps out there is a bigger deal for me. I’m a completely different runner in cold/cooler temps and I crumble even in half marathons let alone marathons if the temps are even moderately warm. Reading the race reviews of Tucson and seeing people complaining about frost at the start and being able to see their breath had me signing up minutes later.



At least one of my buddies (Scott, who many of you have met) is going to run it as well and we are working on another friend (Jason) to run it as well. It would be good to have company for travelling out there. I asked my wife if she wanted to have a family journey out to Arizona for that weekend and she laughed and said “no way”. They are in for going to Boston with me each year but I think they are done travelling with me to other races. Running can be pretty boring. I gather that watching other people run is even more boring!



Training-wise, I don’t plan big changes although I’ll be doing something a little unusual in that I plan to run two full length marathons as long runs. I’m signed up for both Chicago and Marine Corps in October. My plan now would be to complete both of those at some kind of non-race pace. Two mega long runs thrown in with a lot of other mileage I’ll do. I backed way off on weekly mileage since early May and have only recently built back up to a reasonable range and doing a long run each weekend. But as July comes to an end, I’ll be back into running every day and doubles some of the days as well. I’ll have to formulate a more detailed plan with some advice from Dave but I’ll probably throw in a full off day every other or couple of weeks as well. But overall I’ll build my mileage base back up over the rest of the Summer and then look to hit peak mileage closer to the race in October/November. Nothing really planned in the way of mid-cycle goal races that I’ll go all out in. Oh, maybe a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. There’s one in Maryland I did last year and I finished one place out of winning a pie – this year, I want pie! Hopefully running that hard will fit in to the plans. I frequently do races in place of hard but not all out workouts – such as Chicago and MCM as long runs - and I’ll continue to do that with 10ks or half marathons.



But folks coming to this blog for long and detailed discussions of my training runs or running philosophy will be disappointed. I’m far more likely to blog about the new songs I added on to my running iPod or the TV show I watched while I grinded out another run on the mill. Plus the NFL season will be here before we know it and I’ve got three Fantasy Football drafts to prepare for and so that will probably take up a couple of pages in this blog before too long. I’d love to see my blog get hijacked with postings about any random topic someone wants to talk about – and I do even like the running related and super technical topics too. All are welcome and encouraged to post in this little corner of the 365 Boards.



Hopefully having this blog will keep me a bit accountable and I’ll try and come back fairly often to update on what I’ve been up to.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Schuey on Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:01 pm

One man gone and another to go
My old buddy, you're moving much too slow!


Hum Tucson in December? Maybe I can talk lisa into allowing me to take a weekend trip with you and run Tucson with you.

Keep a-rolling
just a mile to go
keep on rolling, my old buddy
you're moving much too slow!

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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Jerry on Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:43 pm

My wife and I went to UofArizona there. Never went back ........
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Mark B on Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:20 pm

There was frost on the ground at the start of what ended up being my best marathon ever. I smile even now when I think about it. Smile

I hope the cooler temps work their magic for you, too.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  JohnP on Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:44 pm

Good luck with the race, Chris. That seems to be the only area you need some luck in as your training usually goes very well, but races have had some bad weather. With frost in the air, you should do great. It was 28 degrees a few years ago at Philly and while it was cold in the starting corral, it was awesome to run in. I really admire all the races you run as well. Running marathons during training at a moderate pace is a good idea, I've done it a number of times.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  KBFitz on Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:10 am

Sounds like a plan to me!

Chicago & MCM in the run up?

What, no ATM, MCM, JFK triple?

You should look up Max in Santa Fe. He ran Tucson in 2010 (3:29:30) and posted a nice race report on Hal's boards at Training Peaks. Unfortunately the TP race report board there is no longer available. Remind me to thank Gear for removing that deep resource from the web.

Frost before the start? Sounds like my kind of race. Go git em.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:54 am

Yeah a Chris blog!

So Tucson in December, huh? Can a girl crash your party?? Since I'm out another week or so with this achilles thing, I'm realizing that NY will just be for fun - so hmm, Tucson - downhill (like you, I like downhill and never seem to have shredded quads), Az (knocking off a state), and cold - sounds perfect! I'm betting though that I can convince my husband to come - then he can be pit crew for all of us.

And Tucson is my 50 State friend, Judy's favorite race and PR marathon.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:04 pm

Schuey wrote:One man gone and another to go
My old buddy, you're moving much too slow!


Hum Tucson in December? Maybe I can talk lisa into allowing me to take a weekend trip with you and run Tucson with you.

Keep a-rolling
just a mile to go
keep on rolling, my old buddy
you're moving much too slow!


That would be AWESOME! My hotel (the main host one for the race - some Hilton) is booked so you've got a place to stay. We would have Chicago in October, you coming here for JFK in November and then Arizona in December? Plus, I'll definitely be out to you for some work trips well before October to see the baby and get you out there for another Lakefront run. Let's make it all happen!

Michele, the more the merrier! It doesn't look like it is one of those huge event type marathons. 1,000 or so runners, I believe. Ultra marathon legend Pam Reed is the race director. I don't know much about it but I liked the look of the downhill point to point course and the average temps look pretty good for marathon running. If your friend Judy liked it, that's a good sign. It would be fun to have a big group out there - take a look at the info on it at their site and see if you can make it work. The only thing I'm going to insist on is a huge Mexican meal post race. We gotta find the best place in the area to kick back post-race with awesome food and drinks.

Kevin, hmmm.....ATM.....I LOVE that race. I'm not signed up but I think they do bib transfer. I need to look into that now. On JFK......once again, I've got the soccer tournament to coach that weekend. Everyone is coming here to my house for the pre and post race stays but argh, I'll miss the race itself once again.

So....running. Tonight, I'm pacing an 11 year old. My daughter's best friend is the daughter of Scott. She's very fast. She's in the Junior Olympic Nationals next weekend in Baltimore, running in the 3000. Tonight in an 8:30pm start 5K, I'm going to try and pace her to a 5K PR. I've done this for her twice before and her current PR we got doing this is 21:35. Her Dad could maybe handle the pacing duties but that's getting close to his own PR and he's currently hobbled a bit with pf so its me alone pacing his daughter. Tonight the plan is for me to run steady 6:45s and if she can hang on, she'll sneak under 21 with a 20:59. Hopefully still a PR even if she falls a little short. Good marathon pacing practice for me and its funny to watch the double takes from some of the other runners as they see an 11 year old gliding along next to them.

But before that, Cassidy's 11th birthday party. Actually, the birthday itself was back in March. So we are, uh, a little bit late. Her and maybe 20 friends taking over a laser tag place. Whether they want me to or not I'm jumping in there and playing.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  fostever on Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:55 pm

"...moving much too slow," hmmmmm! Planning on ultra marathon type speed?
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:59 pm

Thanks, Chris - I will. Mexican sounds great as there is really none worth eating in Cleveland (think of the Bowling for Soup song - Come back to Texas).

By the way, if the hotel is the Hilton El Conquistador, it is a pretty nice resort and your family might want to reconsider.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:16 pm

My hubby says that a trip to Tucson in December would be fun -so count us in.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:01 pm

SUCCESS last night at the 5k. My job was to pace Cassidy's best pal Gillian to a new 5K pr. We crushed that time (21:43) and ran a 20:48! It was a nice night to run. Much cooler than it has been recently. She stuck right with me through 2 6:45 miles and then started to drop off pretty badly as we started the 3rd mile. We passed by her parents and Jennifer and Cassidy at around 2.2 miles and that must have given her a boost because she then really picked it up, closed up the gap to reach me and then we started killing it over the final 800m or so. 20:48 is 6:41 pace so she dropped the hammer well during our last mile. Pretty impressive for an 11 year old girl. There were lots of adults in the finishing corral doing double takes that little Gillian kicked them down. Then burgers and shakes with the whole group - yum! She'll be running in the Junior Olympics National Championships on Saturday and both families will go up there to cheer her on.

Before that, we had Cassidy's birthday party at the laser tag place and yes I did jump in there and play with/against all of the 11 year olds. After racking up an impressive 102 kills in the first game and being ranked the #1 player out of 30, I shot my mouth off bragging to all of them and so of course I was a huge target in the 2nd game. Plus two of the other Dads saw how much fun it was and they joined in as well. Tougher game for me and at one point mid game, I slipped all the way down to #5 ranking as I had a hoarde of little kids chasing me around and killing me over and over again. But I rallied and got back to #2 overall by the time the game ended. Fun and tiring! Most of her friends know me well from me having coached them in soccer since they were 4 years old but a couple who are not as familiar were probably wondering "who is the nutty old guy playing with us?"

Now its time for me to do a long run on the mill watching Breaking Bad.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:00 pm

This is a great plan. For real. You are a very good hill runner and have the soccer quads to thrive on a downhill course. If you put in the downhill specific training, you are going to crush it.

Pass along my congrats to Gillian. She's a bad ass!
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Dave-O on Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:08 pm

Sounds like another disappointing album from Gaslight Anthem. Bummer, because "'59 Sound"remains one of the best albums of the past 5 years.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8192885/the-gaslight-anthem-brian-fallon-falls-short-bruce-springsteen-emulation-new-album-handwritten
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Joel H on Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:13 pm

Woohooo, another Chris blog. I can't believe there isn't a Top 5 yet in this blog, it has been up for more than a day hasn't it?

Good luck in getting that elusive sub-3 and that cool weather sounds wonderful. I hope to get some of that too but it has been pretty elusive down here the past few years.

Gillian is a beast, tell her congrats! So no Twilight dolls for Cassidy's b-day this year? Wink Wink
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Jerry on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:59 pm

I got to show Lucy Gillian's race. She has 9 minutes to catch up. Very Happy
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:12 pm

We won our semi-final match in indoor soccer last night and go on to the finals next Thursday. A very satisfying 5-1 win. It was the best we've played/looked defensively in 2012. We were just fully in sync on each of us covering a guy and switching off constantly and doing well-timed double teams and presses. The other team was so clearly frustrated about not ever being able to get into a rhythm out there. Too often, our team sits back and lets inferior teams move it around on us and keep possession but last night we stepped up and suffocated a weaker team. Wish it was always that smooth and easy!

I've had a little right knee soreness (a misstep on the mill almost a week ago, I think) so I've been going easy running-wise and even did an unscheduled fully off day this week as well. I feel fully back to 100% now so whatever it was must have just been some kind of muscle tweak and nothing medium or long term. I'll run 8 tonight and then do a long run and medium run Saturday/Sunday. I'm still drafting out the overall training plan covering from now until Tucson but the general ideas I'm going to follow are:

- I'm going to add a Pfitz staple of a mid week (Wednesday) long run. I'll start them at around 12 but do 15 most of the time. I typically do runs in that mileage range from 7:00 to 8:00 pace so no matter what, I'm still talking about a run that takes no more than 2 hours. I need to bite the bullet each Wednesday and do it before work. That will have me waking up painfully early but that's what I gotta do and it will only be that once a week that I need to do that.

- More as I get into September and beyond, I'm going to start doing regular mill runs with the negative incline set to -2% or -3%. I'll also do a bunch of specific hill workouts over the time period but adding in just regular runs a couple of times a week but with the mill set to negative instead of 0% is coming.

- Soccer will continue. I'll not play the Thursday before the race itself but other than that, I'm going to play every week. Does it help? Nah, probably hurts more than helps in terms of running prep. I could certainly use the time and energy better devoting it to race prep. But all of my buddies are on the team and its fun and so I won't quit. I just hope I don't get injured.


- Less track work. I like track repeat workouts. I'm typically good at them relative to how I do other runs. But I don't think its what I need. If I'm looking for 1-2 workouts to do a week, I'm far better served doing something hill related or a tempo than 400s/800s/1600s. In the final sharpening phase before the race in December, I'll do some. But I don't expect to head to the track much in August/September.

- Running to/from work. I've done it before but never really made it a habit. The hardest part about it is figuring out the logicistics. I can leave my car here and we have a lockeroom and showers downstairs. It just takes a little planning for me to bring stuff in on say a Tuesday, run home that night and then run back in on Wednesday morning with all of my work stuff being left in the car. The shortest route between home and work is only 4.1 miles but there's lots of ways to go that can add on as much mileage as I want. Combining commuting and running!

Olympic Opening Ceremonies tonight. We are going up to my brother's house and the plan is for he and I to take off and go see a late showing of Batman while the kids and wives watch the Olympics stuff. And then its going to see Gillian run in the Junior Olympics National Championships in Baltimore tomorrow morning.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:31 pm

Good luck to Gillian!!!! Let us know how she does - so very exciting.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:31 pm

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Good luck to Gillian!!!! Let us know how she does - so very exciting.

She did great! Her PR was 11:57 but she ran a 11:39 today. Lots of really really fast competition pulling her along. She finished 17th (out of 40) overall. 1st place was 10:45. Yikes...my 3k PR is only 10:40. Heather Burroughs, who ended up being a 3 time XC All American for Colorado has the all time 11 year old record of 10:03 (!!). The event itself was really cool. It was at Morgan State in Baltimore. Tons and tons of people there and all kinds of events going on at the same time. All new to me since I have no background in running and had never really seen a track meet. I liked watching the high jump and pole vault.

Then we came back to my brother's house and I did 10 on the trails near his house. Tough run. Its hot and humid and its been too long since I did trail running. I felt great for portions of it but some of the big climbs zapped me and I was barely moving.

Saw Batman last night. Thumbs up but my least favorite of the 3 Nolan Batman movies. Some plot elements didn't make much sense. Still good and I'd see it again but just not quite as good as the first two in my opinion.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Martin VW on Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:14 am

LMK what didn't make sense in Dark Knight Rises and I'll explain it to you, Chris... Smile Abundant Marxism...the whole thing smacked of a Communist revolution.

Billy didn't like the fact that Poison Ivy wasn't teamed with Bane...and that Catwoman was a crime fighter. We did have a discussion on the way home about who was sexier, Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss), Agent Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) or Anne Hathaway's Catwoman. Add in Michelle Pfeiffer and maybe Honor Blackman, that can be your first list - Top 5 leather clad action movie characters.

Good to see you have specific goals, count on me to be I'm in your corner, as always.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:09 pm

I mentioned a few days back that I'm having some pain in my right knee. Its not gotten any worse but it doesn't seem to be going away. I'll classify it as mildly troubling right now. I've been luckier than any runner I know to have avoided injuries since I started all of this 4+ years ago so I'm not used to a recurring pain like this. I'm sore and beat up all the time during a marathon cycle but it always amazes me how quickly whatever soreness I have goes away and then i can run freely again. This is a bit different. For over a week now, I've been fine once I get going and I just ran 8 today with no issues at all but after I run and I'm sitting around for any amount of time, my right knee is very stiff and sore. Its not my left knee which had the reconstructive (ACL and MCL replaced) surgery on it. If it was that knee, I'd be flipping out I bet. So like I said.....mildly troubling. I'm thinking I'm going to take tomorrow (Tuesday) as another unscheduled full day off. The plan is to run decently long Wednesday. Normally a full off day gets me back to 100% so we'll see if it does the trick this time and how I feel Wednesday post-run and Thursday for soccer (FINALS!). Hopefully right back to how I feel normally. If not, it may be time for me to do what I NEVER do and that's go see someone to see what's up.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Matt W on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:46 am


Hey Chris,

I'm glad to see that you have a plan for what you want to do. I hope Tucson is the big race you've been trained to run for the past few years. I think it's a great plan you have set up. I'm even tempted to head down that way, but right now I just want to not be fat and out of shape before I start dreaming about marathons again. Smile I hope your knee is feeling better soon and that your soccer final goes well. Keep up the good work.


You can pass on a big congrats to Gillian from me. I know JOs are tough. I didn't make it out of Prelims in the 5K or 1500 when I ran, so placing as well as she did is an incredible accomplishment.

Oh, my 2 cents for the MVW debate: Anne Hathaway > Scarlett Johansson >>>>>>>>>>>> Carrie Ann Moss. Cool Also, if I was Nolan, I wouldn't put Poison Ivy or any character from that awful Batman & Robin Movie that George Clooney "starred" in back in 1997 or so.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Joel H on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:53 am

Definitely smart to take 1 day off to make sure everything is cool. Fingers crossed it is just a niggle.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Michael Enright on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:43 pm

Sorry the knee continues to bother you. Rest is always a good idea, as hard as it is to deal with psychologically.

Mine constantly hurts from the ITBS (unless I'm > 1 mile into a run!).

You are lucky!
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

Post  Chris M on Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:32 pm

Joel H wrote:Definitely smart to take 1 day off to make sure everything is cool. Fingers crossed it is just a niggle.

Thanks, guys. Yeah I think I can officially call it just a niggle and downgrade to Defcon 4 down from 3. Did 12 miles slowly today and it was a complete non-event. Felt just fine before, during and after. I probably tweaked a muscle in there and I can still feel its not 100% but well on its way to being back to normal so I resume normally scheduled programming. Both Jennifer and Cassidy got hit with a 24 hour stomach bug this week. I always joke with them that I am "strong in mind" and can fight off any sickness with my "brain bullets". It is weird how I never get sick. I started working post school in 1994 and I've taken one sick day (back in 2000) since then. There have definitely been times that I've been under the weather but seemingly never the wipe out sickness of a flu or whatever just went through them. So of course I crow about my superpowers and how I've defeated viruses by just putting up my hand like a stop sign. I think they would actually like to see me get sick just to shut me up but so far so good so I'm talking smack about it.
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Re: Half a Mile From Tucson, By The Morning Light

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