The Wood-Fired Blog

A Few Thoughts on an Ironman

It’s been two weeks since I completed my first Ironman, and I wanted to share the experience with you. As a quick catch-up, I started training for Vineman in CA wine country, my first triathlon, five months ago, coming off a typical marathon racing cycle in December 2012. My feet and ankles were feeling a little beat up (tendonosis), and I wanted to take a period of time to focus on endurance, health and strength, without the pressure of running a marathon PR. So my first thought is that I did a pretty good job of achieving that goal. The training was fun, the race was a blast and I feel healthier and stronger than when I started.

A typical training week was 70 miles running, 180 miles cycling (lots of it on a stationary bike in the garage using an iPad), a couple of days of swimming for about 40 minutes, and 20-30 minutes of core and strength every day; 3+ hours a day on average. I slowed down training for the Boston and Big Sur marathons, but did not run those full out, so I was able to get right back at it.

Triathlons are a very gear-intensive sport.

Tri gear

By the numbers, I ran (did?) 12:32:01. That’s right. Twelve + hours, made up of the following:

1:22 Swim
6:51 Bike
4:00 Run
:17 Transitions

15th in my age group. 42 swimming. 40 biking. 3 running (my fault, I really should have been first; more to come on that).

As is the case with most marathons and ultras, we drove to the parking lot in the dark, and slowly shuffled our way to the start — where you set up your bike and get ready for the start of the swim. 5:15AM arrival and 6:39AM start.

I knew the swim was going to be my weakest link, and I thought it was going to be a disaster. My training times in the pool were not good, and I kept getting passed in the pool by little old ladies with water wings. I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble doing the 2.4 mile swim, but I was going to be slow; perhaps 1:30-1:45. The problem was that while my swim training times were getting faster by the week, they weren’t getting faster, fast enough. To where I decided to put more time into biking and less into swimming.

But what I didn’t know what what a big advantage you get from a Tri wetsuit. I rented a Zoot sleeveless wetsuit the day before the race, and tried it on the night before the race. The nice lady renting it to me kept asking if I had done any distance swimming before, or if I had ever swum in a wetsuit, and I kept smiling and saying no. These suits are really tight, and I went to bed worrying that I wouldn’t be able to breath.

When we got in the water to queue up of the start, it all made sense. I walked into the water, pushed off, and immediately bobbed to the top. Like a fishing bobber. So, I had a good chuckle, and thought that maybe I could do this.

The swimming leg itself was wild, and fun. We were started in waves, by age-group (with colored swim caps, so that you could identify your group), every three minutes. Which meant that you were passing people and (for me) lots of people were passing you from behind. Kicking, jostling, and even some profanity being hurled around as we made turns around the buoys. Really exciting, and as a friend pointed out, lots of testosterone flowing.

I fell into an easy rhythm and just cruised along. I thought I was going to be very near the back of the pack for my age group, but when I looked back, I could see that I was actually beating some of the guys. That was good.

The first transition was the more complicated of the two. You had to take off the wetsuit, put on your Tri shirt, clean the sand off your feet, and put on your socks, shoes, helmet, and GPS watch. Then throw all the swimming gear (including the sweats and shoes you wore to get there)  into a numbered bag, so you could pick them up at the end of the race. I did OK. You get out of the water and there are volunteers (great people) there helping pull off your wetsuit as you run along to find your bike. I got from the water to sensor where the cycling leg starts in 8 minutes. Not awful.

Funny. I spent a lot of time leading up to the race worrying about the heat of the afternoon for the run. But it never occurred to me that it was going to be cold cycling soaking wet at 8AM. And it was really cold and my teeth were chattering for the first hour or so. Who would have thought?

I put a lot of time into training for the cycling leg. Basically I was starting from scratch, and like my swimming, I knew I was getting faster, but I kept wishing that I was getting faster, faster than I was. I did a couple of timed, one hour rides on my new race bike in the week leading up to the race, to try to gauge my speed and endurance. I was hoping for 6:30, and pacing to 6:45. Between 16 and 17mph.

I had one hiccup pretty early on, when I realized that my back tire was rubbing the bike frame. It has been jostled somewhere during transportation and set-up, and I had to stop a couple of times to get it sorted out; and I even stopped at the first bike first-aid station to have a pro confirm that it looked OK. Lesson learned for next time.

It became clear that I was not in 6:30 shape around mile 30, when it started getting a little harder maintaining 17mph, and the muscles in my neck and shoulders started getting tired. I hit the half at 3:20, and knew then that I wouldn’t be able to do another 3:20 without having to put too much effort into it. I kept repeating my mantra: Finish. Stay out of the Medical Tent. Finish. Stay of out the Medical Tent. So I scaled back a little and kept trying to enjoy the day.

You can eat and drink a lot of the bike, so I had fun collecting Gatorade bottles and Cliff Bars at the aid stations, without stopping or crashing.

One interesting part of the cycling route was that it looped by our old house on Chalk Hill road; twice no less. If you’ve been following Forno Bravo for a long time, you might remember that we started in Windsor, CA, while I was living in Healdsburg and Italy. The house and the vineyard looked really nice. I planted a row of 200 Arbequina olive trees along the front fence of the property a few years before we moved, and it has completely grown in, and it looked great. Here’s to long-term planning. :-) I told the cyclist that I had been chatting with for miles that we were about to pass the house I had built — hammered every nail. Well, a large majority of them. She was nice about it and gave me a wahoo.

I made a small tactical error toward the end of the cycling leg. I had started to roll back my effort as the miles added up, and with 4-5 miles to go, I could smell the finish line and felt pretty fresh, so I cycled the last miles closer to 20mph. I felt fine, and I passed quite a few people, but what I would learn later was that I went into the run with my heart rate up a little too high. Next time, I will do a speed check and make up time leading into mile 100, and then really relax for the last 12 in order to prepare for the run. Live and learn.

The second transition was not my finest moment. I couldn’t find my race bag and was off by two rows in a sea of bikes and sports bags. I was wandering around looking for the green bag with my stuff. Not smart. I also realized that I had not “staged” my gear. Setting shoes, gels, hat, etc. right where I needed them. I had to dump everything out, sort through it, and put it on. Finally, I had decided the night before that I would run in running gear (loose shorts and shirt) rather than sticking with the tight Tri stuff. I hadn’t really trained in Tri shorts, and I didn’t want any huge blisters or chaffing marks. In the end, my second transition took 9 minutes. Ouch. The fast guys/gals do it in about 2:30. Another lesson learned.

The funny thing is that I was the only person on the entire race course not wearing Tri gear. I looked like a marathon runner who had got lost and accidentally ended up in an Ironman.

The marathon course was an out-back loop that we ran three times. So, it was roughly 4.4 out to a turn around. The weather was nice; much hotter than I am accustomed to, but it never hit the 90s. Getting on my feet after 8:30 in the water and on a bike felt good. Too good actually — I ran my first mile at 7:45. Which was completely unsustainable.

So I settled in, and enjoyed the moment. The first thing I figured out was that many Triathletes are cycling specialists, so there was a lot of walking and jog-walking. I passed hundreds of runners over the course of the marathon, and was passing people until the finish. All those people who had smoked me on the swim and bike legs. haha.

The course was pretty tough, with one hill that I need to walk each lap and a second hill that I walked the second and third laps. I hit the half at 1:51 and felt OK. I was still OK finishing the second lap, which got me to about 18 miles.

But the last 10K was tough. My stomach headed south, and I had to stop a couple of times and eat pretzels and water to keep from throwing up. The course was pretty much carnage at that point with lots of racers walking and stopping at the aid stations. Your thinking gets a little fuzzy at this point, and my math skills were suffering, but with a couple of miles to go, it occurred to me that I had a shot at breaking 4:00 on the marathon, and I ran the last two at 8:xx. My stomach had settled down, and I finished running really well, with a smile on my face. I just missed breaking 4:00, but the finish felt great.

I lost 6-7 minutes in the last 10K, and ran a positive 18 minute split (1:51/2:09) — as a runner, I should have done better than that. Still, I think I am in solid sub3 shape now, given the course and the conditions and the general rule of thumb to add an hour to your marathon time to get your Ironman marathon time.

Between my bike tire, my slow T2 time and my stomach issues, there was at most 15 minutes of lost time in my overall race, which means that I’m not quite in sub12 shape at this point. But I am in potential striking distance to possibly qualify for Kona in the next 2-4 years. I think I will need to go somewhere sub11 in the 55-59 AG to get there. So we’ll see.

Kona is the Ironman World Championship, and you get in by qualifying at a certified event. Qualifying it tough. Check out the finish at Kona.

Kona

I think some people do the Ironman once, and say “never again”. And I know runners who will never do another marathon. But I really had a good time. I don’t think this is the end of the line for me.

Going forward, I am hopeful that my marathon and Tri training will be compatible. What’s good for one, will be good for the other. With that in mind, I am getting close to making the commitment to take a stab at a PR marathon in December. California International Marathon (CIM) is early December; 17 weeks from tomorrow — I’m already registered. I think it’s going to take a serious commitment to specific marathon training (more speed training than I have done for the past 18 months), but I am hopeful that my legs and feet are strong enough to hold up to the pounding of hardcore speed training. My plan would be to do a complete marathon-specific training plan, while still doing additional cycling and swimming. We’ll see. I’m on 2:55:04 for the marathon, and 2:49:59 has a really nice ring to it.

If you’ve made it this far — thanks for taking the time to ready this!

 

 

 

 

Daily Hills and an Impending Ironman

hills

My first Ironman is now less than three weeks away, which means that starting tomorrow I am officially tapering for the race. Which is pretty scary. First off, I don’t really like tapering in general. Cutting back on training makes you feel lethargic and heavy, and lots of athletes, myself included, get a little crazy — taper madness. I’m also a little nervous because it is starting to sink in that I have never really done any of this stuff. I have never:

Run a triathlon of any distance.
Entered a cycling race of any distance.
Partaken in a swimming event since I was six.
Ridden a bike outdoors more than 30 miles.
Actually swam 2.4 miles. Ever.
Swam in open water.

I truly am a runner taking on my first triathlon. With this in mind, I am coming up with some realistic goals, including:

1. Do not end up in the medical tent.
2. Finish with a smile on my face.
3. Everything else is icing on the cake.

On the upside, I have had a good training cycle. I’ve been training for the event for about 20 weeks, with breaks for the Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, flu and a long weekend at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. I’m averaging about 21 hours a week in training (plus core, strength and stretching), where I run roughly 70 miles and cycle 200 miles per week. I am in the best overall shape of my life (thought I have not trained for a marathon and could not go out a run a PR). I have run a lot of hills (see graph above), and my legs are feeling good about balancing running and cycling. That’s good for my old body.

Overall, I am really enjoying the experience (so far). So let’s bring on the main event. I think I’m ready.

A Brief Report on Boston 2 Big Sur

It’s been a pretty odd couple of weeks. Following the events at the Boston Marathon, we were starting to settle down a little bit when we started getting security text alerts from MIT on the Thursday evening. Our daughter was fine and on the other side of campus, but her boyfriend was in the building across the street from where the shooting took place and he and a bunch of students had to be escorted back to the dorms. And then the crazy series of events long into Thursday night and Friday, and lots of time locked down at school. The memorial service for the slain MIT policeman was very moving; he was such an outstanding young man, and he was doing what he loved.

Big Sur Marathon

Then I caught the flu.

Maybe it was relief that I was feeling as I ran the last few miles of Big Sur. The crowds at the finish line were great, and I always see people I know. Then I got to hang out in the B2B tent at the finish line and talk with the other runners who did the double. Runners are a great bunch, and of course we all had the two races as a common experience. From the school bus trip to the start at 3:30AM to the post race festivities, it was an outstanding day. The weather was glorious and the headwind, while definitely present, wasn’t too bad. Well, not terrible.

I am now one of about 19 runners who have done all four B2B events.

It’s time to move on and start planning tomorrow’s crazy stunts. Ironman in late July, CIM in December and then Boston 2014. I’m getting older, but I refuse to slow down.

 

 

Boston 2014

Monday was a beautiful day in Boston. Perfect weather for running, it was clear and chilly, with almost no wind; runner friends had converged on Boston from all over the planet; the crowds cheering on the runners were fantastic; the race organizers and volunteers are the best, and my daughter and her friends are having a great college experience across the river in Cambridge — and we all have a lot of fun when we get together. These are the things that really matter, and they are the things that make all of our community events, whether it’s the local 5K or a big city marathon, so special. And Boston is the best.

acrosstheriver

MIT at Night

I was through the finish area safely ahead of the events, but one friend in our running group was close enough to hear the noise and feel the air move, and another was guiding a disabled runner and they were still on the course, and they had to work their way through the chaos to find their families.

Word in the runner community is that Boston 2014 is going to be huge. Which makes perfect sense; the running community, Boston and our society are strong and we are looking to the future with confidence. Everyone who is fast enough to qualify wants to be there to support Boston and our community. Runners are even going to come out of retirement to re-qualify, just to give their support.  I will be proud to be there.

Of course I am not from Boston. But here are two articles that I appreciated from Boston-native writers.

Strength in the Face of Evil

Messing with the Wrong City

 

 

And Now, Something Completely Different

I’ve been talking about doing a triathlon since last year, and the time has come. The tendonitis in my heels is getting better slowly, but I still cannot do the training load that I would like, so rather than cutting back, or continuing to push all of my athletic output through that weak link, it’s time to spread the load. I’ve signed up for the Vineman Ironman in Healdsburg, CA on July 27. Hopefully this will fill the slot last year where I ran the 50 mile ultra last summer, and I will come back stronger than ever for a fast winter marathon. Well, we can always hope.

full_vm_retail_v2.ai

If you have read our blog, you know I really like this stuff, and I am already enjoying the triathlon training. The Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 on the bike and then a 26.2 marathon. 140.6 in total. I’m a slow swimmer, so I’m not sure how competitive I’ll be. We’ll see. It’s different from pure running, but so far so good. I put a stationary bike (with an iPad strapped to the handle bars) in the garage, I still run out on 17 mile drive, and the local gym/pool is about a mile away. Last week I ran 45 miles, biked 125 and swam 4.4. It’s a different, whole body tired. And I’m always hungry.

Wish me luck.

I’m still running Boston (April 15) and Big Sur (April 28) this year, but they are basically training runs with friends. Which sounds like a lot of fun. Plus our older daughter is still in Boston, so I alway have that to look forward to.

Spring is almost upon us, and this is such an exciting time of the year. Forno Bravo is buzzing, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

 

CIM 2012 Race Report

Race reports are a part of the running community, and I’m not sure whether you want to read them here — but I thought I would share. We try to be a little funny and irreverent, while capturing the feeling for the day and the race. So if you are interested, here is my RR from CIM 2012.

Wind and Rain

A little bit of background. I have raced CIM twice before — 2:55 last year, and 3:04 in 2010. Two years ago there wasn’t a 3:05 pace group, because at the time the 35 and under Boston qualifying time was 3:10. So I made a last minute decision to run with the 3:00 group even though I wasn’t ready to run sub 3. But it worked out, and I ran 1:29:30/1:34:30 to hang on to grind out a 5 minute PR (with a +5 split). Last year, CIM was the first leg of the CIM2LasVegas double, and I was scheduled to run 3:20 with Paul. Just fast enough to catch the flight to Las Vegas, but slow enough to reserve some energy. But at the last minute, Paul missed his flight, so I thought what the heck, and ran full speed. I did 1:26:30/1:28:30 for a 2:55 — which is my current PR. And then caught a flight to Las Vegas where a few of us ran the marathon there. It was a memorable day.

My training this year since the Headlands 50 has been designed to help me build the speed and endurance to break my PR and perhaps even get down to 2:51:59 — less than two hours plus my age. I knew that it was a stretch, and I could feel that my easy speed improvements as a beginner were coming to an end. Comparing my training cycles from  2011 to 2012, this year I ran more miles at a slightly faster pace. The 50 miler was positive, though a different running event, I ran a poor 5K in October, and two pretty good 12 miles tempo training runs in November. Which basically meant that nothing was in the bag, but lots of things were possible — I guess that’s what makes it fun.

When I went to bed Saturday evening the weather was pretty calm, and despite having watched the local weather on TV (who correctly predicted that the worst of the storm would come through between 4AM and 9AM Sunday morning), I fell asleep thinking that they might be wrong and that we might have some real racing weather. Classic denial. Or maybe misguided optimism. All of which shattered by reality when the alarm went off at 4:30 and I looked out the window and the rain was pouring down sideways in sheets and the wind was cracking through the trees. The weatherman is almost always wrong — but today they nailed it. Great.

I drove to the start with another runner from my hotel, and we were just laughing as the car danced along the freeway in the wind. There was a tree down in the road near the start, with emergency crews cleaning up, and after she parked we just sat there looking at each other and saying “I’m not going out there”. Finally, I put on my garbage bag and stood in line to take the shuttle to the start. Some people were laughing, and a few had a look of complete shock. Like “what the heck am I doing here”? You know me, I think marathons are great and getting the crowd going was a lot of fun.

One of my more memorable moments was when I was sitting there in the porta-potty and the walls were rocking back and forth and shaking, and I thought to myself — “I am really glad I’m here. What a blast”. We had gusts into the high 20s (low 30s?), directly into our faces at the start.

Miles 1-6 40:41

As usual, I had no idea what my race plan was. A PR attempt was gone, but I wanted a BQ for 2014. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to settle in with the 3:20 group, or try to go faster. After a while Ron came up beside me and said hello — which was a big stroke of luck. He’s been running for years, we’re the same speed, he’s a Silicon Valley guy, he went to the same college where my daughter goes to school, and best of all, he actually knows what he’s doing.

We’re talking and running. My shoe laces come undone (I’m so not committed to the race that I didn’t even double knot my shoes), and I lose 20 seconds.

Early on, my watch gets wet and fritz’s out, so I’m gonna have to rely on other runners.

At some point Ron says that we are going to be taking a left turn into the wind soon and that we’d better find a group. Of course he’s right. So we speed up and get into the 3:05 group. My new home. We turn south and it’s like woof. The wind actually knocks you upright.

Miles 7-13.1 51:04

Water is pouring down the street — sometime over the top of our shoes making little puddles in the inner sole. We pass a dead raccoon who is making a dam and a little lake. Nice. Not much to say, really. The hardest part is trying to not trip anybody or get tripped, but staying tight really helps. Nobody is talking, and there is definitely not enough laughing. Tough crowd.

There are ankle high puddles everywhere and little streams and rivers in the road.

At some point after the longest due south stretch, Ron gets bored and says he’s off to catch the 3:00 group. He waves at me to come along, but I can’t do it.

I’ve never run with a pacing group before, and you get hammered at every aid station. Everybody slows down, we run into each other getting drinks, and then we have to get started back up again. Somewhere along the line I decide that I’m not perspiring anyway, so I stop drinking.

We hit the half, and I call out — what’s our time? And nobody responds. It’s survival mode.

Looking back, we hit the half at about 1:31:45 — on track for 3:03:30, so the pacer is a little ahead of schedule; though I didn’t know it at the time. And it took way to much energy to hit that time. A lot to much.

Miles 14-20 48:02

After the half, we grind on for a while (and I don’t know that we are faster than 3:05) and I’m thinking, OK, I’m going to fade so let’s try to beat 3:10 so that I don’t feel too badly about this race. Depression is a sad thing.

Then, a couple of miles after the half, we veer to the southwest, and the wind drops down. And we look up, and at the same time the pacer and I both say “maybe the wind is done”. The pace is feeling fine, so I pull out a little ahead of the pack to see if I can pull away. But after a couple of miles, I can hear them back there going pop, pop, pop, pop, so I give up and fall back into the group.

The pack is getting smaller, and we’re just holding on. But I’m right behind the pacer, and he’s a big guy — which is good, and it’s getting a little easier hanging with the group.

Miles 21 – 26.2 43:56

The rain has just about stopped and the wind has died down. If the race had started two hours later this would have been a PR day. Who would have believed it at 6AM.

At mile 21 something funny happens. We’ve been reeling in Ron — he tried to catch the 3:00 group but didn’t make it, and he had to run in the wind and rain by himself without the help of the group. So he isn’t that far ahead of us.

And then pacer slows down a little and says that he’s ahead on time, and he’s going to be slowing down — and the if you’ve got a little left in the tank to just go for it.

What the heck. Why not.

I caught Ron just before the bridge at mile 21.5 and keep going. In the last 4 1/2 miles I passed 49 runners, and got passed by two guys who beat me by about 100 yards. The crowds were out and the music was pretty good, and I was counting runners as I went. It was good for my concentration. My watch didn’t work, and I have no idea how CIM’s splits work, so I don’t know how fast I was going, but it felt OK.

My final was 3:03:40, so I ran almost dead even halves. That would include a fast first quarter, an awful second quarter that was both slow and a huge energy sink, and a strong finish.

Overall, this was a completely new experience for me. I’ve run PRs (which are pretty easy to get when you are a newbie), and a number doubles, where the second marathon is a fun run. This was neither. It wasn’t 100% effort, but it was close. And it felt good putting in my near best effort even though I knew it wasn’t a PR day. I could have mailed it in, but I didn’t.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Now it’s time to get ready for Boston 2013. I am committed to setting what is going to be my lifetime PR some time in the next couple of years. I would really like a Moose Mug (which does down to 2:52:59 in two month), I would love to hit a 2:49:xx before I get too old, and the course record for 55-59 at Big Sur is 2:57:xx. These are serious goals that I know are going to take a lot of work and some good luck. But I’m game to try.

Marathon Racing in the New Climate Normal

Sometimes it seems as though everyone has their own anecdote about climate change, and of course many of them a lot more serious than mine. But I just left the registration Expo for the California International Marathon, so here goes.

The weather forecast for tomorrow at race time calls for heavy rain with a 25 mph headwind. Not conducive to fast running. haha. Rain isn’t bad at all, but headwind is a killer. A number of running friends have decided to not fly in for the race, and they are finding other local races over the next few weeks. This comes on the heels the Boston Marathon (hottest race day ever), Big Sur (stiff headwind), and NYC (cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy).

It’s too bad, as I have been training to see if I could pull off a 2:51:59; or 2 hours plus less than your age. It’s pretty rare, but it’s going to have to wait until next year.

I promise I am not complaining — I had a great Ultra in Marin this summer and I’m happy at every level to be healthy and running. I also think tomorrow should be a memorable experience in its own right. But having a hobby that relies on the weather gives you a certain perspective.

So now it’s time to start thinking about 2013, staying healthy and hoping for some typical weather. I’ll you know how tomorrow’s run in the puddles goes.

Tapir, tapir

Here’s a quick catch up on my running and really great photo. The basic structure of marathon race training is a 6-8 week period of base building, where you run a slowly increasing number of miles at a moderate pace to build up cardio capacity and muscle strength, followed by 6-8 week period of your most intense training with long runs and speed training, followed by a 2-3 week taper leading up to race day. The idea behind the taper is to let everything rest and recover, so that you reach the starting line feeling fresh and rested. As a general rule, you run 80%, 60% and 40% of your peak running mileage during  the taper.

Interestingly, the taper period isn’t particularly fun. In fact, it’s pretty awful. If you are used to training at a high volume, cutting back makes you feel slow and lethargic — even fat. Which is where the term taper madness comes from. My race is December 2, so at this point I have done two weeks of tapering, and I can’t wait to race a week from tomorrow.

To keep my spirits high, here is a picture of a running baby tapir.

A New Trick for an Old Dog

A quick note on running and getting older — something that happens to even the best of us. haha. For the past year or so, I have been struggling a little bit with general soreness in my feet and ankles, and my training paces have been slowing down somewhat. It started before my personal best marathon race time last December, so I haven’t been panicking, but I was a little concerned. Train slow; race fast only gets you so far.

There is a general rule of thumb for distance running, which is that most runners get faster for about  6-8 years before peaking, regardless of how old they are when they start. The upward force of increased training and endurance is counterbalanced by the downward forces for of gravity and aging. Which makes sense.

Except that I have been running for only 4 1/2 years, so it’s too early for me to plateau.

So I took my problem to my online runners’ club, a forum very similar to the Forno Bravo Forum — but for distance runners. I got a lot of advice, from friends and strangers, ranging from run more, to run less, and from training for a fast 5K (a short race) to training for ultras (long races). The advice was great and a lot of fun.

But the best piece of advice came from an Australian runner, who recommended that I contact Keith Bateman, a well-known Aussie runner and running coach, who focuses on bio-mechanics, not training schedules. Keith is the 55+ world record holder in five distances between the mile and 10K. We got introduced and I explained my issues, and he agreed to help. He asked me to send him video of my running and then we would talk about it over a Skype lesson. Only in the Internet age could you get personal lesson for a world record holder by video conference.

It turns out that I have a couple of flaws in my running technique that can be pretty easily fixed that might make a big difference. Basically, my leading foot lands in front of my head, effectively knocking me back each stride and putting a lot of strain on my feet and ankles. Keith created graphics showing me what I’m doing wrong and gave me a series of exercises designed to fix it. Incredible. The lesson itself felt like a golf or tennis lesson, with technique, visualization and a lot of real-world “do it like this” instruction. Keith is, of course, incredible to watch doing demonstrations. Unreal turnover.

I have changed my technique for the past four days on 12, 12, 12 and 17 mile training runs, and the difference is clear. Perhaps stunning. I can run faster, with less effort and less pounding than before. It’s like running in someone else’s body, where I need to concentrate on running differently, and running correctly, or I fall back into bad habits. Just like golf. Right? But so far, so good. Everybody needs good hobbies, and good hobbies give all of us the ability to learn new things and to expand our minds and our horizons. This has definitely expanded how I think about my running hobby.

One last thing. Keith is a remarkable runner. He is the 55+ world record holder in the mile, 1500, 3K, 5K and 10K, and he is the oldest person to ever break 32 minutes for the 10K. He also runs a 1:11 half. That, to say the least, is incredibly fast. He is both a remarkable runner and a remarkable coach.

This is what a world record holder looks like running the 10K at 55. Maybe I can get there some day.