May 2, 2015

I ran the Garmin Half Marathon a couple weeks ago in 1:23:05. The time is what it is, which is one of the most useless phrases in English, and yet somehow instructive, when it comes to running. The time, after all, is what it is. Putting aside philosophical concerns about the true experience of time, that's easy enough to agree upon. And yet it's a great many things besides a sum of seconds, ticked off over the course of 13.1 miles.

This isn't much of a race report, though. Not really. I used to write them and I always try, but I find myself chronically unable. And this race actually has some specifics worth telling. I didn't get passed. Ran my first mile in 6:20, averaged 6:21 for the entire race. Just sat on my pace, even as the lead pack sprinted away, and then strung out before me. Something similar happened behind too. I ran the first few miles by myself. Then, slowly caught people. I think that, if the race had kept going, I'd have caught more. It was easy that way. The easiest race I've ever run, at any distance.

I got seventh, which both matters and doesn't. It matters, because it's a race, and other people were there, trying to run as fast as they could. I ran faster than 1879 of them. But it doesn't, because field size and depth is pretty arbitrary. I ran faster than a lot of people but not what I would call objectively fast. There are plenty of people from around here who would have gone faster than me, if they had raced.

Which brings me back to the time. It used to be fast. But now that I can run it, it's not. A few years back, when I was pretty new at this, I didn't expect to ever get under 1:30. Now I have, and I honestly expect to get under 1:20 soon. Well, not "soon". But soon. You know how that goes. Maybe that's a foolish expectation, but all expectations are, sort of. The Earth could always just explode, and then no one would run fast. So we don't know. Can't know. Not really. But we can look at the trajectory of things and suggest that maybe I will keep getting faster for a while. I'm still somewhat new, and not quite 27 yet. There's time. And maybe, additional fitness to be mined.

I should probably say here that I am coached now, and was for the several months leading up to Garmin. This certainly helped me run an easy race, whether I'm able to call it fast or not. It was as fast as I could go and it was never difficult. Doing hard workouts helps. And for the first time, I've really committed to doing them. I always knew I probably should. But the truth is I'm a hobby jogger at heart, and happy enough to trot around at 8:30 pace day in, day out. Hard workouts are generally uncomfortable, and maybe I'm a wimp, maybe I'm lazy, but I don't usually like them as much as the easy days. But I'm doing them now. Some would probably say money is the motivator here, but I don't think so. I've bought training plans before and every book about running there is. I never followed anything, really. But Scott Spitz, the coach in question, is a guy I know, like, and respect. He has some PR's I'd unequivocally call fast, but that doesn't really matter as much as those other things. Simply, I'll do the workouts he tells me to do, because he tells me to do them. If he were a faster guy I didn't know, I'm not sure I would. It's a little strange, but is what it is.

March 17, 2015

Pi Day Progression

The thing about running the same race, year after year, is that it provides an objective marker by which to judge progress. There are variables, of course, beyond baseline fitness. But in general, it's the best we can do. And since I'm getting up there in my trail running years now - I'm only half joking - I've now got a race for which I can call up four results.

2011: 1:39:08

2012: Didn't run it

2013: 1:34:31

2014: 1:31:54

2015: 1:26:48

This is not remarkable progress, of course. No massive jump, hinting at a deep well of untapped abilities. But it does speak to how one can shave time, and eventually, the resulting cut seems pretty significant. I also think it's interesting that my biggest improvement came four years after my first running. Which could, if I'm being optimistic, suggest that I still have some progressing to do, and that I haven't quite leveled off. I turn 27 in two months, so I wouldn't expect physical abilities to deteriorate soon. That will happen, of course. Inevitably. And then regression will follow. But for now, I'll indulge myself with the fantasy of perpetual linear progress.

March 15, 2015

Pi Day Half Marathon

My hair is trying very hard to escape my skull, in this picture. But it didn't manage to do so. Everything is still attached, and I ran a 1:26:49 trail half marathon, and I'm really very happy about that. Mostly because that's 5:05 faster than I managed last year, on the same course. And I ran well, last year. At least I felt like I did. I certainly didn't feel better, or easier, or whatever, today. But I was faster, and that's ultimately what people grade these things by.

March 1, 2015

Screwing around on the Asics Japan website

So I guess it bears mentioning that I don't speak Japanese, and I sure as shit can't read kanji. But I wanted to check out the running shoe section on the Asics Japan website... because this is an exciting Saturday night, for me. Don't judge.

Anyway, I clicked on a couple shoes that don't exist in the States, the Sortiemagic, and the Skysensor. I guess you'd say both are racing flats. Scrolling down to the bottom of the latter shoe's page, you see this:

I've circled what I find amusing. (Click on the picture and it gets big enough to see clearly.) That is, you can use the Skysensor if you're an elite racer (30 minute 10k) or a challenger racer (40 minute 10k). If you're slower than that, I guess you aren't supposed to run in this shoe.

Checking the page for the Sortiemagic, which is lighter, it's only for elite racers. So for people like me, who are faster than 40 minutes, but slower than 30... too bad.

Clicking around the rest of the site, it doesn't seem that they have any "racer" categories other than those two. I find it really amusing to imagine how this category system would go over on an American website. Not well, is my guess.

February 24, 2015

Kansas gets the Ultrarunning Magazine cover. I think this is the second year in a row for Heartland. I imagine you can see why.

February 22, 2015

I haven't written in a while. Maybe you've noticed, and maybe you haven't. The funny thing is that my blog traffic really hasn't changed a ton, since my backlog of coffee posts has always drawn far more readers than any of my running business. Even though those posts are really quite old now, that's still the case. Which is cool. If somehow I'm still teaching someone what the fuck a cappuccino actually is, or getting someone to realize that geeking out about milk steaming is a thing people do, then I'm happy.

So what am I doing? Running. Writing. Still, just not mixing the two as much. I'm 95,000 words deep in an attempt at a novel. Which... I don't even really want to call it that, because a novel is a thing that exists outside of Google docs, and I don't expect this ever will. That's not a statement on my perception of its quality - though I'm not saying it's great either - so much as it's a statement about myself. That is, I really don't want anyone to read it, because, blogging aside, I'm really a very private person. And sharing fiction is an absurdly personal thing. More so, I think, than telling you what's actually happening in my life. (This is still true, I think, even if the work in question is very far away from autobiographical fiction, which this is.) So it's a big fucking Google doc that I don't anticipate sharing anywhere. Let's go with that. Naming conventions aside, I'm really enjoying the process. Which is the point, sort of.

I'm going to transition that into a brief aside about running. Because I'm enjoying that process too. I'm running well, consistently, and healthfully. (Healthfully? Healthily? How would you even say that? I'm not hurt. How about that?) The plan is to run a good road half in April. 'Good' being subject to my whims and mood at the time, probably. As with everything. But I'm feeling fit, so the time shouldn't suck.

As for the fall... I have no idea. The idea behind running (or attempting to run) a decent road half this spring was so I could spin that into an attempt at redeeming my disastrous first attempt at a road marathon. But right now, I don't really know. Running to fix a negative feels less interesting to me right now than just doing what I enjoy. And while that may seem an arbitrary dichotomy, it doesn't feel like one to me right now. So maybe I'll decide 'fuck it' and try a 100. Maybe I'll just stick with this half marathon stuff, because the training for it has me feeling really good, basically all the time. I don't know, but I really hope I'm done writing by then.