Save the soul of the New Haven 20K

Runner types- the New Haven Road Race folks sent me an email survey, the gist of which was asking if they should ‘add’ a half marathon option to the Labor Day 20k.

Please tell them ‘no’.

The 20k is a great race as is, period, full stop.

I was kind of upset when they trebeled the size of the crowd showing up Labor Day morning with the 5K; however, in hindsight, it works as an option to get the whole family running. Which is awesome, and adds to the great atmosphere.

However, adding a half marathon would be a huge mistake, because you wouldn’t really add runners, rather just shift folks from the 20K field. Any new runners who came to the event to the event would be the dumb ones who can’t think metric and realize that 20k is only a half mile shy of a half marathon. The folks who care deeply about labels, and are just looking to check a distance box instead of running for the sake of running and reveling in the last day of summer. The types who won’t do a triathlon unless it’s got an M-Dot.

From here on, we’re going to call the proposed half marathon the 21K. And I encourage you to drink beer.

Not every event needs to be the same. There’s value in having some odd distances, in that it captures the essence of racing, which is “Hey, I bet I can get THERE faster than you”.

Tarzan Brown should be to the top of River Road and back, construction dependent, and shouldn’t get truncated to a 5 mile race. Adding another 0.2502 miles would make the Manchester Road Race just another 5 miler instead of an almost 80 year Thanksgiving Tradition. Probably would start at 10 AM instead of “10:00 a.m. Sharp”.

These traditions are what unite us in our local “tribes”, what give us opportunities to actually talk instead of just nodding while we pound out miles day to day to day. New Haven on Labor Day should be a 20k followed with beer on the green, and then pizza and more beer in the park.

While I’m pretty convinced just based on tradition, being a stick in the mud, and getting into my mid-40s, I’m skeptical of the logistics of running a 21K alongside “The” 20K. I’ve run several marathons where there was a half marathon run on the same course, and where the races split has always been a giant bag of poop for mid-pack runners, regardless of which distance they’re running. Either the half runners miss the turn and get a slower half time, or the marathoners accidentally make the time and end up running 26.4 instead of 26.2. And that’s where there’s a HUGE difference between the race distances.

Part of the reason the 5K and the 20K work alongside each other is because they are “alongside” each other, not on top of each other. The start areas are together, which is cool, and the finish areas are together, which works because even if you’re walking a 5K, you probably are going to finish ahead of the elite runners running the 20K.

However, if they add a 21K, how are they going to break up the course? Is the 21K going to have a completely different course? Is the 20K finish line just going to be further up from the green and the 21K finish, robbing the 20K runners of the traditional finish? Imagine the confusion coming down Whitney to Temple where the diversion for the 21K happens. Logistically, it just doesn’t work without adding confusion to the runners and/or robbing either the 20K group or the 21K group

Anyway, the idea stinks. I’d still run it if the only race was a 21K, just because the weather and green are glorious on Labor Day, and at the end of the summer, a 20K-ish distance is just fun to run, and to revel in a summer’s good training. But the idea of running both a 20K and a 21K doesn’t work for me, though I’d keep running the 20K out of spite, and griping about the split or the finish or something, which then spoils a great summer day.

Homecoming

Back down in San Antonio for alumni weekend at my alma mater. It’s been way, way too long since I headed down here, and I really don’t think that the last time I was here I ran much.

I’m struck by how much I’ve changed since I was here – I’d always thought I was a pretty active guy, but looking back, I avoided a whole lot of quarter mile walks by jumping in the car. Didn’t really spend any time running at all until I got into the Navy, which is a shame, because the campus is an awesome place to run. Good choices for long, flat runs; adjacent to a city park with even more trails … Different time, different me, I suppose.

Got in yesterday noon-ish, had way too much chips and queso for lunch, napped, and then headed out for a run. Which may or may not have been a mistake – this was by far the hottest day I’d experienced all year, somewhere in the mid-90s, and dry. So, needless to say, the run sucked big suckage, even though the roads were great, traffic was light, there was a delightful half-mile gravel track to run in the middle of the out-n-back, etc.

Then this morning, I had a good lie-in (at least for someone coming to Central time zone from the east coast, accustomed to life with small childrens), then drove down to the campus to run. The run was delightful – through a park that borders the campus, up through a trail the campus maintains, and then back down past the dorms.

And the thought hit me – why had I never done this while I was here?

Glory, Glory

Hallelujah!

Not an epic, not a PR, not a transcendent run, but I’m happier than I’ve been in way, way, way, too long. Broke out of the office this afternoon for a late lunch run. Not the greatest of days – low 70s and humid, gentle breeze, no real sun.

The run on the schedule wasn’t huge – three miles. I’ve graduated in my rehab – Couch to 5K is finished, so I’m on an 8 week 10K program now. Beginner – lots of walking, a little bit of running. So, easy three at lunch along flat, flat, Pequot Ave along the Thames River in New London. Wasn’t dreading it, but wasn’t looking forward to it.

Then, about the time I turned around, I realized a couple of things:

  • My left ankle wasn’t starting to feel stiff
  • My right knee wasn’t hurting or twinging for the first time in two weeks
  • I didn’t feel like i was going to die
  • I was pretty blissfully happy
  • Somehow, things had gotten better.

    Anyway, when I got back to the office, I knocked on every bit of fiberboard I could find – didn’t want to jinx things. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d crossed a threshold from healing back to running, and can’t be happier.

    FWIW, Thom Yorke (Radiohead singer) has an exceptional new album out. Very much a headphone record, very much an acquired taste. Highly recommended if you’re even remotely inclined to – kind of low speed electronic music. Dunno. Guess that means I’m old. He’s also distributing via bittorrent, which was interesting. Still plan on stopping by the Telegraph to see if they’ve got vinyl.

    One Step Forward, stutter step back

    So, it’s time for my semi-annual mile and a half test. Still nursing the tendon pull in the left foot, and a twitchy right knee to boot. I did one more run last week – out ‘n’ back at Bluff Point. First two miles were great, then – well, not bad, but not good.

    Took the rest of the week off.

    Sunday afternoon – I’d decided just to kind of phone in the semi-annual test. Jog it, y’know, nice and easy. So, I did.

    Long story short, I’m not terribly upset. “Phoning in” 1.5 miles on the track ended up being 8 minute miles. Which isn’t bad. Plus, I didn’t wake up this morning feeling hurt. So, I’ve got that going for me.

    Anyway, it’s been a kind of tough summer, but in the whole first-world problem type of tough. I didn’t run or bike nearly so much as I wanted to, but I spent most of a week backpacking on the Long Trail, spent a week in Vermont on vacation with the family, spent a week at scout camp, and spent a month on a ship in the Arctic. Mileage is way, way down, but weight’s not up.

    Now I need to get focused; buckle down for the winter, and come out of the other side stronger and healthier than ever.

    Glorious Fall Week

    I’ve been rehabbing a pulled ligament somewhere on the inside of my left ankle/top of my foot since, say May, though it feels like I’ve been working on it since about 1999. It kind of feels like it’s been getting better, but still not good.

    A bunch of decent/good runs last week – I was in Albuquerque, and had a great run along the Rio Grande, a terrible run on the bike path behind the hotel, and then a transcendent run on Friday on my way home from Bradley International on the Salmon River Rail Trail – perfect weather, a solid sign of fall leaves in the trees. Everything I love about New England wrapped into one amazing half hour on a Friday Afternoon.

    The oldest kid is running high school XC this year, and he’s completely gotten faster than I am. Which is fine, and actually a great sign that he’s developing into the kid Missy and I hope he will, but it’s still kind of a kick in the teeth…

    Saturday, we head out to a Cub Scout hike at Devil’s Hopyard State Park. Hike was awesome. Kid’s got 5-6 easy on the training plan from his XC coach, so I say “Hey, why don’t we go for a lap of the park after the hike?” Absolutely, he says.

    Hindsight says that may have been a mistake.

    (“Dad, you’ve got talking hindsight?”)

    Profile was brutal – two miles up, and a mile straight down. Kid was nice and didn’t laugh out loud at me. I decided we’d still feed and house him for the night.

    The downside is that I may have tweaked my right knee. Ran again yesterday; 3 miles easy at Bluff Point, and something’s just not right. It’s not bad, but not quite right.

    Oh, well. I’m down 5 pounds from earlier this summer, and I’m actually itching to run and ride for the first time in a while.

    Posted in Run

    #nostrava Saturday

    So, an idiot with aerobars hit and killed a pedestrian in Central Park this week. And, BikeSnobNYC wrote a decent proposal to de-Strava-fy for the weekend out of solidarity for the dead woman’s family.

    So, I did.

    Missy and I did our semi-regular loop this Saturday morning. It’s glorious here – started the day at about 50 degrees, up to mid 60s by the time we made it downtown for lattes. The loop’s almost perfect – a quick kicker of a climb about 5K into it, rollers for the next 15K, coffee at about 25K, and we’re home and dusted less than two hours after we leave and about 25 miles later. Half the ride has water views, most of it has very little traffic and great shoulders – you should come ride with us.

    The above is from last weekend. Missy uses a garmin and doesn’t upload to Strava, and she says we went faster this week than last week. But, honestly, that’s not why we were out there. It was a gorgeous day, we sweated a bunch, spent some quality time together, and helped accelerate the eventual heat death of the universe. Not much more a guy can ask for.

    I’ve got to point out here that I can’t blame Strava for one idiot on a bike, and I plan to go back to logging bike rides on Strava as soon as I ride again after today. Strava is kind of a net positive to my mind, a place where one can track progress and evaluate fitness trends. I’ve used it to find good rides and runs as I’ve traveled, and it’s probably kept me safer overall than if it didn’t exist.

    The bigger takeaway I’ve got, though, is that we, as individuals, put a pretty low price on other people’s lives sometimes. I’m participating in #nostrava weekend because I think we need to change that. As a driver, I’d also like to see something similar started when a motorist kills a cyclist or pedestrian, but that really takes the form of being a more conscientious driver every day, as the country averages about 100 fatalities from automobiles EVERY SINGLE DAY EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. And a lot of those are from folks who didn’t think they were trying to set a personal speed record.

    Be good to each other out there, no matter what your mode of transport.

    In the end, the blackberries will take over

    In the end, Tom Robbins may be right about blackberries.

    The woman who checked me into the hotel at SEA-TAC pointed me down the hill to the DesMoines Creek Park trail to get in my daily 5K. Lovely run, except for the almost 250′ of climbing over a quarter mile between the hotel and the trailhead.

    Nice paved bike path type trail; not a whole lot of people, but a ton of beautiful ripe blackberries sitting there waiting to be eaten. Made me happy.

    Ankle felt good. Slow and steady.

    Posted in Run

    Maybe it’s the altitude

    Wow – Four whole posts this year.

    There’s a little bit of reason for that, but first, some running.

    I’m away for work, previewing New Mexico for the troop trip to Philmont next year (and some real job stuff, too), and staying on east coast time means getting up at 4 AM local and getting on the treadmill. ‘Cept today I didn’t get on the treadmill, I headed outside.

    Great pre-traffic run. Little bit of gravel through a park, no twinges in my foot.

    Sometime back in February or March I sprung the crap out of the tendon on the inside of my left ankle. So, it’d hurt one day, feel good the next, and I’d go out and put, say 4 or 6 miles on it. Then it’d swell up and hurt like heck for a day, I’d rest for a day, and then run when it felt marginal. Eventually, one day of recovery stretched to two or three.

    Finally, in late May, I went and saw a doc. Nothing broken. Went to the podiatrist, and “Hey, the left foot’s way flatter than the right foot!” Great.

    June was spent in an ankle brace, July’s been spent walking in orthotics and doing short jogs. August will be spent underway, so by September I should be somewhat back. And singing Bad-a-yah.

    Two days in, I think I did get a light case of altitude sickness – woke up with a headache, nausea, and drymouth this morning that couldn’t be explained by too much beer last night. Wish I were staying here – coffee, exercise, and exposure to altitude would cure that in the long run.

    It’s good to be back running.

    Not Dead Yet (again)

    It’s been a frustrating spring. Cold, wet, blah, blah, blah.

      Something’s up with my left foot. Started training for a marathon to be named later, and sometime in mid-March, felt a pop midway through a 10 miler. Left foot felt really, really tender. Ran another mile on it, then walked about 3 to get home. (Probably should have called the wife for a pickup). Since then, the foot’s swelled up for about two days every time I run, and really starts to hurt at about 4 miles. (Probably should go see a doctor) Bleh. Want to run
      So, don’t use aluminum bolts to hold a rack to a frame if you anticipate carrying anything resembling a normal work load (computer, notebook, change of clothes, lunch) on a regular basis. The one aluminum bolt I had on my commuter snapped earlier this winter. Tried to use an “easy-out” to pull the aluminum out of the steel frame, and ended up with a really, really smooth hole. So, now I’m terrified because I’m about to re-thread the hole. Worst case – need to put in a helicoil, but had to source a tap.

    Anyway, it’d be really easy to be down, I think. BUT!

    Snuck out for a quick ride after a storm on Sunday afternoon, and, without really trying to hammer, cranked out 6 PRs and two personal seconds on a loop I ride pretty frequently.

    Not bad for an aging, fat dude.

    Spring

    Huh. February. Where’d that go?

    Actually, it’s pretty much for the best that February is a black hole for this year. Pretty decent month running, great month spinning, but, like the old joke goes:

    Why does February not have 30 days?

    ‘Cause if it did, I’d have to kill myself.

    Not quite that bad, but, holy cow, I was ready for March to arrive.

    Anyhow, rode to work this morning. Had a meeting in Mystic, so caught a ride for me and my bike over to the meeting, and closed out the day here:

    Even better was Saturday. Solid 10K run on a leg that’s coming back from a near miss with PF, and a great spin – about 15 miles, then this:

    Then an easy 5 home. In shorts.

    Spring’s a magical time. I think that there’s a good chunk of survivor camaraderie going on – on my ride in this morning, there were at least two cases in which drivers actually yielded the right of way to me. Stunned. It’s usually pretty easy to ride around here, but this morning was especially nice.

    Lots and lots of happiness.

    Survived birthday season with the boys, and looking forward to spring. Only cloud on the horizon is that Missy and I didn’t get a relay team for the Vermont City Marathon. Can’t have everything, I suppose.