Sunday, February 16, 2014

As Promised

As promised in the previous post a few days ago, I have started yet another The Running Architect blog site!

You are invited to take a peek and look around at the new content and navigation.  I do plan many more posts and much more graphics to accompany each post.  Please take a look,  let me know what you think, and follow the new The Running Architect blog site:

Thank you.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

New For 2014 !


Surely I must be among the last to wish you a Happy New Year!  To answer the overwhelming inquiries as to where have all my posts gone, I am here to announce they are in progress!

Not only the new posts but an entirely new website!  One of my New Year's resolutions was to revamp the look and content of this site. I had started several attempts only to have been frustrated by some technical glitch. So instead of a revamp I am redoing the entire site.  Please stay tuned and be patient I do expect to have the new site complete in several weeks.

The site might have been done by now except for the running I have been doing in my spare time. I don't need to tell you that this has been one of the most difficult winters to train outdoors, no matter where you live!

Thanks for your patience and I look forward to announcing the new site soon.

Run Happy!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Little Perspective

Architects should know a thing or two about perspectives. I am referring the method of drawing a building as if viewed in 3-D.  It's (or was) one of the first things they use to teach young want-to-be's in studio classes. Today I am writing about a different perspective, as in another point of view.

This past Sunday I ran The Brooksie Way Half Marathon. This is a race that is still a newbie on the racing scene being only 6 years old now, but one that is quickly emerging as one of the best half marathons in the country. Last year it was listed as on of the top 10 most scenic fall half marathons in the country. One of my most memorable racing events of my 45 years of running occurred during the very first Brooksie Way when I raced along side of Bill Rogers for the last 6 plus miles of the race. Needless to say, Boston Billy out kicked me at the end, but that race day is a subject for another posting.

The Brooksie Way is also a course that has become famous for being so challenging. The first 5 miles or so are all basically downhill. Except the downhill is at such a slope you don't really feel as if you are running downhill at all. This is not a good thing for a distance runner to experience. This type of downhill course causes most runners to run too fast during the early miles of a race. It also causes runners to use certain muscles in their legs a bit differently then they normally do during their training runs. The second half of the course is up a series of larger hills. This is especially tough on the runner that started the race too fast and whose legs are likely already fatigued.

I have run all six of the BrooksieWay Half Marathons, each year always doing very well in placing high in my age group category. Two years ago I finished second!  Each of the first five years I had always used The Brooksie as a training race for marathons such as New York City or The City of Oaks in Raleigh NC. This year I do not have any marathons on my schedule nor do I plan to race in November. So I had planned to enter The Brooksie as my destination race. I had imagined that if I targeted this race there may be a chance I could even WIN my age group! So that was the plan back this past winter and spring.

Then life sort of got in the way as they say. Nothing bad or serious, simply a series of nagging muscle injuries in the winter and spring set my training back, followed by other personal  obligations and priorities involving family and work. Still I managed to get sufficient training completed to where I felt comfortable with my chances of winning this year. Then comes the race week.

In the week prior to race day was not able to keep my running schedule, then a nasty cold germ decided to pay me a visit causing me not to sleep to well the Friday night before the race. Not to make excuses, I set my sites on doing well and keeping my streak of completing all of my Brooksie finish times under the 1hr and 40 minute mark.

The race conditions race morning were near perfect. If I could be nit-picky I would have preferred a few degrees less than the 60 deg. mark and a bit more sunshine. But the weather on race morning was great because they had been forecasting rain for the morning. So all should have been fine, but somewhere deep down I  had known for sometime that this was not going to be one of my better races. Nonetheless when the gun went off so did I.

I started what felt like a slow pace but in reality it wasn't. My Garmin was telling me I was a little too fast for the first miles and these miles did not feel too easy for me either, this simply confirmed my prerace sense. During the middle miles and into the big hills, it was doubly confirmed. Still I tried to run my best. The cloudy days did not lift my mental fitness for today either, I really do prefer to run in the sun.

The final long stretch of road was ahead, I decided to try to pick up my pace.  I did it for a few yards but this was not my day. I decided to turn this run into a great training run for my next half marathon in only 4 weeks. I finished a bit strong, passing a few runners, at least this helped to improve my spirits for the day. I crossed the finish line and saw the clock tick a few minutes past the 1hr 40 minute mark.  My slowest Brooksie Way finish. 

At the finish line I was a bit disappointed with the race and I knew my finish was a direct reflection of my race prep, especially during the past month. I met up with several of my training buddies, all who ran great that day.  They deserved congratulations for their great efforts.

So what does this have to do with "Perspective"?  It took a day or two, but as I received congratulations from many of my running friends I wondered how to express my thanks while also expressing my disappointment. Then there came one more congratulatory note, this one came from another runner friend, an older gentleman who only took up running while in his late 60's. His post to me was "I am green with envy".  That's when it hit me!  What a dummy I had been these past few days.

The new perspective was the fact that I should be (and am) grateful for the ability to run at all, grateful for being able to share my love for sport with many runner friends, and being able to run faster than 48 other guys in my age group as I finished 4th in my age group and 293 of 2,600 runners in the half marathon. So from this perspective, I say thank you "Noodles" for pointing out how really fortunate and blessed for being able to continue to be a part of this special sport and lifestyle.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and go out and "Run Happy" today :)


Friday, September 20, 2013

32 Years Ago Today

Do you remember what you were doing 32 years ago today, let alone what the world was like 32 years ago today?  I remember vividly but will put off the reason until a bit later in this post.

I was an architect, I was a runner, although not nearly the same extent of running as I do now. Thinking back, the world we live and how we live it has changed so dramatically! As an architect my drawing skills were critical to my career. Back then the technically sophisticed architetural firms were using something called plastic lead to draw on plastic mylar film. There was maybe one large firm in town that might have been experimenting in creating drawings by way of a computer. But the thought back then was that computers were too slow and too expensive to ever be considered as a practical tool in a firm.

The most sophisticed running shoes were made by a relatively new shoe company called Nike, and their Pegus model sold for about $35/pair. Compared to today where there are too many significant specialty shoe manufacturers in the marketplace and a runner can expect to pay at least $100 for a decent running shoe.

Back in 1981, the high tech running gear consisted of a nylon type fiber that frankly was very uncomfortable when wet with sweat. Cotton was the norm. In colder or wet conditions there was this new invention called GoreTex, but it did not come cheap.

When you left your house for a run down the road you likely hoped nobody saw you because it would be considered weird to run down the street in shorts and a T-shirt. Now, I enjoy running into and with many other runners on the roads and along the trails. We all wear some version of a high tech fabric that wicks the sweat from our body and keeps us cool too.

Also, you would start your run and not really be too concerned about how far, how fast, heart rate, route, etc. your run would cover. Now, most runners require a connection to a satellite flying thousands of miles above them in outerspace! This of course makes us all very concerned about previously unnessary facts such as pace, heart rate, hills, etc. Some runners even include a telephone with them on their runs now. Imagine the cord length that would have required in 1981!

Things have changed, we have cell phones, computers, gear, all to help us improve while making our life easier. So while Apple issues the 5th generation of their phone today, think about how you survived back in 1981, 32 years ago today and how did you ever manage to get through your day without such items that are essential in today's world.

Some of you of course were not even a part of this world 32 years ago today, and there is one very special person who came into this world 32 years ago today which is why I remember exactly what I was doing 32 years ago today and the day before 32 years ago today too!  Happy Birthday to my lovely daughter and first born, Bridgett who was born 32 years ago today and in the coming weeks ahead will be experiencing another day of birth as she and her husband Shane welcome their first child and daughter into this world. I wonder what the world of technology will be in 2045?

Thanks for taking the time to read this today.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Half an Update

Well my plan to run everyday of the month did not pan out this month. July 1st was rainy, stormy and I just simply wimped out. That being said, I did take advantage of the holiday week and did log 40 miles of running this week!  Longest weekly total of the year thus far. I still am on target for July becoming my highest mileage month of this year!

Thanks for checking back.

Running Happy.


Monday, July 1, 2013

A New Half Year's Resolution?

With the ever growing popularity of the Half Marathon as a race event, wouldn't it make sense that we also have a Half Year's Resolution?  This being July 1, it's the perfect day to announce your Half Year's Resolution!

I believe in establishing realistic goals I also have a habit of running at some part of the first day of each month.  This way I can truthfully say I have run everyday of the month!  The challenge is however to keep that streak going for more than a few days. This month of July begins with a Monday and of course includes the 4th of July holiday.  I almost always run on Monday's and I expect to do the same tonight. Tuesday mornings have also been very easy for me to include a run, typically an early morning run at sunrise. Wednesday is of course our training session with Running Fit 501, so the first three days of July will certainly not be a problem.

The 4th of July, as with most holidays also is a great opportunity to get a run in on the schedule. Good weather holidays also represent an opportunity to complete a longer or a more intensive run. This is my plan for this year's 4th of July. While others are awakening to prep for a parade or a day of celebration, I will likely be at my neighborhood track getting some speed work in before the sun rises and the heat of the day arrives.

This then leaves my weak link of this schedule to be Friday. This Friday I plan to be in the office. However, since nearly everyone in the office will be enjoying a very long weekend, I actually plan to have an uninterrupted day. This lack of pressure to start the day will enable me to get a nice easy paced recovery run through the neighborhood in and done before I need to be at work.

Then it's back to our Saturday long runs and a full weekend of running!

Well, that's the plan  for my resolution at least. I do look for July to be one of my highest mileage months of 2013, check back soon and see how I do.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and Run Happy :)


Monday, June 3, 2013

Marathon Pacing Groups

Long before there was ever such a thing as "pacing groups" in marathons and now half marathons experienced runners often made arrangements with one of their running friends who was about to experience their first marathon to "run them in" the final few miles or so.  I observed this process long before my first marathon and thought how terrible!  Well intended but terrible!

Running a marathon is all about the individual. It is a test of one's physical and mental endurance and ability to over come.  There are as many different reasons and challenges to run a marathon as there are runners who participate. When I ran my first marathon I wanted to run the entire 26.2 miles by myself.  I appreciated support throughout my training and leading up to the actual event but once the starters gun went off, I was on my own to finish. For if I had a friend "run me in" the final miles it would have meant that I really did not do it all on my one and after all, you only run your first marathon once! Ever! 

In recent years nearly all marathons and now most half marathons have this "thing" called "Pacer" or "Pacing Group".  A well trained and experienced runner who can run a marathon with reasonably predictable results, carries a little sign listing the targeted finish time on a smaller stick. This dedicated and well intention runner then carries this sign several feet above their heads while running the entire race. The result is a GLOB of runners swarming at each side and slightly behind the Pacer.

While I will never be a part of a Pacing Group, I do understand their popularity, particularly among novice runners.  Runners today depend more and more upon other runners for support especially during training. So it makes sense that runners are intimidated by the thought of actually running such a grueling event all on their very own.  If a runner chooses to race with a pacing group, fine, that is their personal decision that I totally respect. Unfortunately runners who always run with a pacer will never truly  be able to claim a personal achievement and satisfaction of running a marathon by themselves. They do not know what they are missing.

I was reminded of another reason not to favor Pacing Groups yesterday during my run of  the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon. I knew at the start of the race that my string of 7 consecutive sub 1:40 half marathons was in serious jeopardy thanks to a nagging injury and irregular training most of this past winter and spring. Nonetheless, I was healthy to race and was going to give it my best try.  To do this I planned to run a steady 7:40 to 7:45 pace for the first 5-6 miles. The race started and I felt I was running easy but the pace fro the first few miles was actually much faster than planned. So I decided t run relaxed, keep it easy, do not push the pace, and hope for the best. For me, I knew this required a consistent and focused mental approach too.

Corresponding to my slightly slower paced was an up and coming thunder of rubber soles running shoes rapidly gaining on me from behind.  I know there can be a group of runners from time to time and especially during the early miles. Then before I knew it I was absorbed by this SWARM of runners centered around a runner with one of those stinking pace signs!  This was the 1:40 pace group. This was the group that I wanted to beat and that I wanted NO part of being a part of but it looked like I had no choice except to speed my pace a bit and keep ahead. So I did just that. I not only began to run faster than what I had planned, I also begin to loose focus on my run as my mind focused on angry thoughts towards the idea of pacing groups.

Before too long the group caught me again. Not unexpected since I was now "paying" for my recent little surge. But this time I was boxed-in. To be boxed-in means that as a runner you are totally surrounded and cannot run past or around another runner.  So here I was, a bit "ticked" and not using my energy reserves wisely.  So I decided to let this group go past with the idea that I would pass them later.  

Well passing them later never happened as I spent a mile or more battling this GLOB of runners along the narrow two lane road. It was not the fault of this pacing group that caused me not to run another sub 1:40, it was solely my own insufficient training that lead me to finish in1:46. But it was this group that caused me to be disturbed by the continuing and growing trend of pacing groups swelling to take over control of our otherwise great sport.

I urge my fellow runners who have come to depend upon these groups to grow-up and run your race by yourself and reap the corresponding rewards.

I welcome the views and experiences of my running friends and readers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Run Happy :)