Friday, June 12, 2009

5 years ago today

On June 12, 2004 I ran my very first marathon. I have very fond memories of that race, even though it was by far my slowest time, I got injured, and it was a very difficult course. Today, on the anniversary of this race, I wanted to re-post one of my very first entries on this blog. Memories from my first marathon...

It was a cold and rainy morning in Park City, Utah in mid June 2004. My wife and daughter, as well as my aunt, drove with me to a mountainside school where I would join about 250 other people for my first marathon. Excitement and anticipation bubbled inside me as we headed toward the start line to join the throng. I was actually doing it. I was reaching my goal.

The race started, and I took off at a comfortable pace. Before long, I realized I was passing a lot of people. My confidence was rising, and I knew I would be able to do well in this race. After a few miles, I met up with a couple guys and began running with them. Tracy and Don were their names. They were both experienced marathon runners, and it was nice to talk with them and listen to their advice and experiences. It was then I realized that we were talking. I never imagined that one could talk through a marathon. Talking wasn't even making it more difficult, it was actually energizing! I was with them for about 10 miles, until about the half-way point. It seemed they were beginning to slow down a little. I was feeling great, so broke away from them. And I kept feeling great, even when the course became more difficult. It was about mile 17, just after I reached the highest point on the course, that I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I thought I'd better walk for a while to give my legs a rest. It felt funny, but I thought it would be alright. I started to run again, but the pain persisted. I walked some more and soon Tracy and then Don both passed me. They both told me to take it easy, not overdo it. I still had about 8 miles to go, but I was not going to give up. I accepted the fact that I would be walking most of the rest of the way.

The sun had come out and it began to warm up. It was really a beautiful day. And even though I was walking, I was still having fun! This was so awesome! I was still doing a marathon--a little different than planned, but I was still doing it. I made several attempts to start running again, but the pain was still there, still as bad as ever. Eventually, I could see the finish--about a quarter of a mile away. I forced myself to run. I wasn't going to walk across the finish line. As I got closer, I heard the announcer say, "Here comes Reid from Springville, Utah." I then saw my family standing just before the finish cheering me on. It felt great! I had done it! And boy was I glad it was over. I finished with a time of 4 hours 30 minutes. Less than an hour slower than the time I was hoping for. I started thinking about how fast I could have been had the injury not occurred. I was getting excited to do it again. I had to do another one. And then another. I was addicted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Mile Story

You may remember my 5-minute mile quest last year. I've spent some time reminiscing this week, and finally wrote this post about my overall experience. Down below, I've inserted links to all my mile reports. I figured it's about time I removed it from my side bar. Besides I may need to start a new quest this summer and need the space.

Speed. It’s something I had always wished I had. Actually, when I was little, I thought I had it. Some of my friends even called me “Speedy Reidy.” Then, when I joined the track team in middle school, that perception was smashed to pieces. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone was faster than me! Sprints, distances, you name it. I just couldn’t keep up. Luckily, I loved to run enough that it didn’t discourage me too much, and I ran on the track team all the way through high school. Over the course of the next six years, I was determined to get stronger and faster, and during my junior and senior years, I actually started winning a few races.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Those are words that most runners are probably familiar with, and they describe most of my life as a runner. It was in the fall of 2007 when I first discovered the author of this quote, Steve Prefontaine, in the film Without Limits. His dedication and determination inspired me in a way that I had never imagined. After watching the movie with my wife, we discussed my running goals, and where I could take my running. I decided I really wanted to get faster over shorter distances like the mile. So the next morning I went out for a mile run just to see how fast I could do it. 5:36. Hmm, that’s only 10 seconds slower than my all-time fastest mile. Was a 5 minute mile possible for me?

Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t right as I was just starting my Boston Marathon training. However, after the marathon, I would be able to spend the summer working toward that 5 minute mark. And that’s when the quest began. As soon as I recovered, I went out for a time trial, and, what do you know, I ran a 5:36. I was picking things back up right were I was with that first mile.

After a few attempts thrown in with my regular runs, I realized that I needed to focus my workouts and approach my goal less casually. Once I started some intense interval training, I saw my times drop from the 5:20s to the 5:10-5:15 range. I was really seeing the benefits, which motivated me to do more of my workouts at the track. And I was really enjoying it!

While training, I learned about an inaugural 1 Mile Race. Whoa, perfect timing! How cool would it be to reach my goal at this race? I worked harder and harder and was able to get down to 5:09 before the race. I was feeling pretty confident that I’d get it with the added competition and emotions inherent in the race atmosphere. The race was awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it. In fact, it was pretty slow compared to some of my recent times. What happened? Was I getting burnt out?

I needed to do something different, so I called on my blogging buddies to come together and run a mile with me in the form of a virtual race. What better way to reach this goal than with dozens of friends from around the world. I received an overwhelming response from so many, even people I didn’t even know. How could I fail with so many people pulling for me and believing in me? I couldn’t let them down!

After a couple weeks of excellent workouts and words of encouragement from many new blogging buddies, my confidence was brimming. My wife and kids accompanied me to the track this time, fully expecting today to be the day. After a slightly nervous warm up, I was ready to go.

I took off at what seemed a comfortably hard pace, but ended the first lap 6 seconds ahead of schedule. I didn’t think I could keep that pace up, but I didn’t want to slow down too much. After adjusting my pace, I was still 4 seconds ahead at the half-way point. I was still in excellent position to break that 5 minute barrier, but I could feel my strength waning. After 3 laps, I had dropped to 1 second behind pace, but, based on my recent workouts and previous mile attempts, I had confidence that I could pick up the pace and finish strong. With a half a lap to go, I was right on pace, but was exhausted. I was sprinting as fast as I could go. As I came around that final turn, I could see my family waiting for me at the finish line. I was almost there. All I could think about was crossing that line. As I did, I stopped my watch and slowly looked down. Trying to keep from falling in exhaustion, I turned to my wife, and with a huge smile on my face, simply said “I did it.” 4:59.95. But it wasn’t just me who did it. My wife did it. My kids did it. My blog readers did it. Their friends did it. We did it together, and I couldn’t have done it without all that support.

Speed. Did I finally have it? Sure, I got tons faster than I was before. But I gained much more than that. Pre was right. If you’re not giving it your absolute best, you are definitely sacrificing the gift. But I think more is needed to reach some goals. You need motivation, dedication, and inspiration. For me, the thing that helped the most was knowing it wasn’t just me out there. I was no longer giving my best for myself. I was giving my best for others. And that helped me learn that maybe my best is a little better than I thought.

Attempt #1 - 5:36
Attempt #2 - 5:26
Attempt #3 - 5:25
Attempt #4 - 5:29
Attempt #5 - 5:26
Attempt #6 - 5:40
Attempt #7 - 5:21
Attempt #8 - 5:13
Attempt #9 - 5:10
Attempt #10 - 5:09
Attempt #11 - 5:14
Attempt #12 - 5:16
Attempt #13 - 4:59!

Mission Accomplished.

This post can also be found at the Runners' Lounge by following this link.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My boy's first run (and mile attempt #1?)

I took my boy out for a run for the very first time this morning. Well, technically, it wasn't his first run, but first with me, and first in the stroller. I think he had a pretty good time after we got going. After a couple minutes, he started crying, but I think it may have been because he didn't know what was going on. He's probably not used to going fast or being alone in the stroller, and didn't know where I was. But after I came around to the side where he could see me and I started talking to him more, he calmed down, and we had a nice run together. You can see how much he enjoyed it by looking at the picture. :-)

I've recently been thinking a lot about my 5 minute mile quest from last year, and how fun it was. Now that I'm getting over my knee and hamstring issues, I'd kinda like to do it again. So, as we were running, I figured I oughta just go for it and see what I can do with the stroller. I was able to run a 5:58. I kept a pretty even pace throughout the entire mile, but it felt like I was running with a parachute. There wasn't much wind, but what there was was blowing in my face and filling the stroller. I'd like to see what I can do without the stroller.

So, I may be spending some more time at the track this summer. I'd really like to run under 5 again, but I think I'm gonna focus more on 2 miles and the 5k. I've said before that I'd like to run 2 in less than 11 minutes, and a 5k under 17. We'll see what happens. I've still got to be careful so that I don't aggravate that knee again. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Progress. I love it!

It seems like it's been a long time since I've written about how my running is going. After taking pretty much all of February off, and half of March with my knee injury, I've been taking things really easy and slowly working back into things. I started out running once or twice a week, only a couple miles at a time at about a 9-10 minute pace. I eventually worked my way up to 3 runs a week, at about an 8 minute pace. I am now running 4 times a week at a pretty decent pace, and it sure feels good. This morning I ran 4 miles in 27 minutes. I think my monthly mileage is a good indicator of the progress I've made over the last several months.I'd say I'm getting back to normal, although I'm still being very cautious. I've been icing my knee almost daily, not doing more than two tough workouts per week, and very gradually increasing my long runs on the weekends. I've also done some strength training for my quads, hips and hamstrings, although not as regularly as I should.

On my calendar, I've got a 5k on the 4th of July. I'm hoping to get down to about 19:30. I think if I can do that, I'll have a good chance at placing in my age group. Placing would be cool, but my goal is getting the time. I also hope to run a half marathon in October, and a full marathon in January. Hopefully some other 5ks or 10ks as well, as long as time and finances allow. I'm looking forward to getting faster, but I really want to run long again. Every time I walk by my marathon medals, I keep thinking to myself how I want more of them. I can't wait!