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.
Most of the time when race day arrives I feel ready to race but other times I don’t. On those rare race days when I don’t feel ready, I still run but I don’t push hard to get a great time or set a PR.
Yesterday was the annual Jingle Bell Run in downtown Detroit. This is a nice event with a 5k and 10k that draws several hundred runners, many of them dressed in holiday costumes. This year I saw more than a few Buddy the Elf outfits, Santa Claus, Christmas tress, and even a Gingerbread Man. But the morning of the race I wasn’t feeling it. I hadn’t done any speed training in several weeks and even my weekly mileage had dropped to under 20 per week this month. So as I headed downtown to the event I was planning to treat it as a simple 10k training run. Probably at tempo pace but not much faster.
As the crowd gathered in the starting area I did a couple laps around the building to warm up then stretched a little. Among the tall office buildings downtown my GPS was not getting a signal when the gun sounded. I started near the front and kept pace with the crowd. It didn’t feel like I was pushing it and without the GPS or mile markers I didn’t know my pace until my watch restarted and I had run about 2.5 miles. My watch showed that I had run the last actual mile at a 7:45 pace. I was surprised but I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard so I kept going at the same pace. As I ran through Greektown, the Riverwalk and the Dequinre Cut I kept the pace. Heading back into downtown I passed the 5 mile marker. My watch showed 38:30. I knew I could break 48 minutes if I finished strong. That would be close to a PR (at least for the last five years or more). Turning the corner to the finish line I started my kick and crossed the line side by side with another runner at an all out sprint.
My time of 47:45 was close to my recent PR of 47:30 from 2008. And it was good enough for 2nd place in the M55-59 age group and 31st of all males.
The Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Half-marathon has got to be one of the best races in North America. It has it all. A great course that starts in the USA, crosses a bridge to Canada then comes back to the states through a tunnel under the Detroit River. Awesome views from the bridge and throughout the vibrant urban core of the Detroit. Fans lining the course. Live music at almost every mile. A heavy, custom designed medal. And much more.
I’ve run this race a number of times but it never get old. As we all start in the dark and wind through the streets on the way to the Ambassador Bridge each runner settles into their own pace. While crossing over the bridge many runners take out their phones and snap selfies of the sunrise. Running down Riverside Drive it seems as if every fan in Windsor Canada is ringing a cowbell while holding a sign cheering on a friend, family member or the entire field. The temperature and air in the tunnel under the river is always hot which makes the blast of cold air even more noticeable when we exit back into Detroit. The fans in Corktown and Mexican Village watch and wave from their front porches as the parade of runners snakes through their neighborhood on an early Sunday morning. Then it’s back downtown in the canyons of high-rise office buildings among crowds cheering us across the finishline.
And the race was even better this year as I set a personal record of 1:51:14 placing 35th out of 402 in my division.