It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was putting on layers of clothes and a hat and gloves to go out on my morning run in single digit temperatures. And this week I’ve been dripping with sweat after running in technical t-shirts and shorts with the temps near 80 degrees. That’s Michigan weather. From one week to the next, or even one day to the next, we can experience all four seasons. I’ve never lived in another state but as I look at the weather reports of hurricanes in the east, tornadoes in the plains, and earthquakes in the west, I think I’ll stay here in the Midwest. Swings of forty or fifty degrees in a few days makes life interesting. I can dress for that weather. Harder to dress for a hurricane.
It was the first race I remember running. The Oak Apple Run in downtown Royal Oak, MI, in the summer of 1977. I didn’t run in high school but my freshman year of college I had started running with some friends from the dorm. So while home for that first summer I heard about this local race and decided to enter. I really don’t remember what my time was or if I even enjoyed the race. But apparently I did because today I ran in the 40th Annual Oak Apple Run and I’ve probably only missed three or four of those forty. And I’m guessing I’ve run at least 250 other races over these last forty years. There have been 5ks, 10ks, 8ks, 5 milers and 10 milers, half marathons and full marathons, races in 90 degree heat and sub-freezing cold, sun, snow, wind and rain, morning races and evening races, local races and out-of-state races, races I’ve won my age group and races I’ve been disappointed with my times.
I’ve collected a lot of race t-shirts from these races. Years ago they were cotton, then more recently they’ve been technical shirts that wick water away to dry faster. Many of the cotton shirts have become rags for cleaning, or were donated to Salvation Army. But one shirt I’ve kept is the one from that first race in 1977. It has yellowed some and shrunk some but I’ve still kept it in the drawer along with the newer, more colorful technical race shirts. It’s a good reminder of what a great run I’ve had these last forty years. Here’s hoping to have forty more!
When I set my 2016 mileage goal of 1,000 miles, I thought it would be a bit of a stretch since I only ran 843 miles in 2015. I had joined an online running group through a site called. http://www.runningahead.com. It’s a virtual league where runners are put into teams based on your predicted mileage and then teams go head to head each week to see which team exceeded their goal by the most miles. Once I had committed to my “team” to run 1,000 miles I knew I was going to do it. I also hadn’t decided to run another full marathon in 2016. So when I made that commitment in the summer, I knew I’d reach 1,000 miles by fall.
Here’s how my weekly mileage looked for 2016. The first half of the year I was fairly consistent at around 20 miles per week. In Michigan, if I can keep my winter running at that level I feel that’s an accomplishment. I only run inside if there’s ice on the roads or temps in the single digits, so last winter I was able to get outside all except a handful of days.
The second half of the year I started following the Hanson’s marathon training plan. Their theory is run hard miles each week but don’t run the typical training runs of 20+ miles. Their plan tops out at 16 miles for the long runs.
I took a few weeks to recover from the Detroit marathon and then worked my way back to close to 20 miles a week but kept on the low side for the balance of the year.
So I closed the year at 1,301 miles. 300 over my goal. Overall, not a bad year.
Now, what about 2017…?
It wasn’t my fastest marathon and it wasn’t my slowest. But the Detroit Free Press Marathon is always a good one. Crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Canada at sunrise, running down Riverside Drive in Windsor lined with cheering families, suffering through the stale air of the underwater tunnel back to the USA, then cruising through historic Corktown, the beautiful homes of Indian Village, and enjoying the views from Belle Isle and the Detroit Riverwalk must be one of the best courses in the USA.
The last time I ran the full marathon here was 2010. That day started great but ended badly. I was overconfident and paid for it at the Wall and limped to the finish with my worst marathon time.
This year I was more cautious at the start but still struggled some after the 20 mile mark. Could have been the unseasonal heat, could have been any number of things but I think it was that I’m six years older and finishing a marathon is really hard! And finishing with a 9:00 minute pace is even harder.
I’m not sure if I’ll run another marathon but if I do, I know it won’t be any easier. But as they say “The race is not always to the swiftest, but to those who keep on running.”
If you like classic cars (50s, 60s, 70s) or customized cars and trucks, you need to attend the Woodward Dream Cruise outside Detroit. .
And if you like to race a good, local 5k, you need to run the “Cruise in Shoes” that kicks off the Dream Cruise Saturday.
Today was the fifth annual Cruise in Shoes. I’ve run them all with a high time of 23:40 and a low of 23:28 for fourth place (they award medals to top 3). Today, I started strong and held on for a 23:20 which, to my surprise, led the 55-59 age group. So a 1st place medal, beating 48 other “old” guys in my group. 72 of 888 overall. No complaints.
And medals were awarded by Elvis!
It seems most runners are either music listeners or they are podcast listeners or they don’t use headphones at all. I switch it up frequently and bounce between all three. I don’t seem to have a pattern, it just depends on the day and my mood. I also depends if there are new episodes of the podcasts I listen to. Recently I’ve added a few new podcasts to my list – Runners World, Marathon Training Academy, Stories from the Trail – and have been catching up on past episodes so I’ve been listening to these more than music. But a few days a week I still switch to iHeart Music app and select one of my favorite stations. Or I’ll listen to my favorite music podcast – Freight Train Boogie.
However, since I never use headphones during races, I’ll occasionally train without them so I get used to listening just to the surrounding and my own mind. The variety of music, podcasts and nothing helps keep things interesting. If you are in a routine of one listening habit, mix it up. You may like the change.
When does a 52:00 minute 10k beat a 49:00 minute 10k?
When you run them a week apart.
Two weeks ago I ran the 39th annual Oak Apple Run 10k in Royal Oak, MI. I’ve probably run 35 of those 39 races. This year they moved the start time from 8:00AM to 9:00AM and it was a warm, sunny day. I ran a 48:50 which was not a personal best but one of my better times for the last few years. And I was fourth in my age group. Of course, they give medals to the first three places.
Then a week later I ran the Detroit Riverfront Run 10k. They also had a 9:00AM start but that day was even hotter at 80 degrees and full sun at the start. The combination of heat and tired legs from the last race was a challenge. I forced myself to keep pushing but I ran a 52:40. One of my worst times I recent years. So imagine my surprise when I checked the posted race results and saw I placed first in my age group. Apparently the heat affected the other “old” guys more than me. I collected my medal although it felt somewhat unearned based on my own pace standards.
Last weekend was the Martian Races here in Michigan. I’ve heard of the race series for many years but ha never run it so this year I ran the half-marathon. With temps in the mid-20’s and gusty winds making it feel colder I knew I wouldn’t set a PR. The 2:00 pace group felt like a good place to start to I cruised along with that group for 3-4 miles. Then as the snow started falling and the wind picked up I decided to pick up the pace also. As we ran through Hines Park and around University of Michigan- Dearborn I continued to push the pace and felt good. Finishing with a 1:55:13 was good enough for 8th of 38 in my age group and 268 of 1035 overall so not bad for a snowy, cold, windy half. (And of course here in MI one week later it’s 73 degrees!)
My running team is in first place. Yep, I joined a virtual team this year on Running Ahead and after seven weeks we’re in the lead with 74 points, which is 7 points ahead of the second place team. So far it’s been fun and has motivated me to get an extra run in a few weeks when I would have used the winter weather as an excuse otherwise.
The league seems well-run (pun intended.) There are 20 teams of about 30 runners each. The teams are balanced based on each person’s projected annual miles. I set my annual goal at 1000 miles. In 2015 I logged 850 miles which was a little light due to some injuries early in the year.
I haven’t taken the time to learn the exact rules for scoring yet. I just know that each person contributes to the team’s points by exceeding their mileage goal for the week. The weekly goal is your annual goal divided by 366 then multiplied by 7. I’ve exceeded my weekly goal in 6 out 7 weeks so far this year. The week I was short was due to a twisted ankle after finding a pothole on a dark, pre-dawn run.
Normally, this time of year is the hardest to keep my weekly miles up due to the ice and snow. Fortunately the weather hasn’t been too bad this winter although I have used the treadmill a few times in order to hit my weekly miles. Once Spring and Summer come I should be able to increase my miles and hit the annual goal without problem (assuming no injuries or set backs.)
Hopefully I can keep putting up points for the team. A little extra motivation never hurts.