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If It’s to Hot to Run It Must Be July?

 

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The start of the Crim 10 Mile

If it’s too hot to run it must be July and if it’s July it must be Crim time?  Wait you say? Isn’t Crim in late August?  Yes to both, if you want to have any chance of racing a grueling 10 Mile road race then you had better be in the sharpening phase of your training in July.

The Crim 10 Mile Road Race is one of only a few truly elite 10 mile road races in the country each year.  Named for it’s founder Flint area native and former Speaker of the State House for Michigan, Bobby Crim, the Crim has always enjoyed an awesome reputation among runners from all areas of the globe. The first race was on the 4th Saturday in August back in 1977.  It started in mid day and featured hundreds of runners including several “big name” runners who ran to help support the Special Olympics program. It has since evolved into a series of races and special events centered in downtown Flint. Several American records have been set on the course and countless world class elite runners have participated. The listing would take too long to include but the very short version includes super elites such as Joan (Benoit) Samuelson and Bill Rogers.

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Bobby Crim himself !

Back in 1977 my running consisted of a few occasional runs mostly to remind myself that I could still run. It was my first year out of grad school and I was working for an architectural firm in Flint.  I was not aware of the race. Had I been aware, I probably would have at least given it serious thought about entering. Many other things were on my mind back then, most of them involved my wedding day that was only a few weeks from then, so on the other hand, maybe I would not have chosen to compete.

Flash forward to 1984, the year of my first Crim. I left the Flint area in 1978, now had two young baby daughters, and had recently somehow managed to return to a more serious form of running.  I discovered a local running club, The Novi Trackers. This group more than anything else was responsible for my running career moving forward.  Members of this group told stories of the Crim race the prior year and encouraged me to join them at Crim in 84. I  remember being a bit hesitant as I had not raced in anything more than a few miles up to then but was excited to return to my hometown where I established my running roots many years earlier.

Now as summer is past it’s midway point my thoughts begin to focus more and more about my returning to race “The Crim”.  For at about this time each summer, I begin to train a little harder, focus a little sharper, and anticipate a bit more, about the 4th Saturday in August and another return to Crim. Except this year will be much different!

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Stretching out at the starting line, Crim 2015

Oh I still approach Crim like a child approaches Christmas, but this year will mark my 30th running of the Crim!  One of many special innovations Crim organizers have evolved is the establishment of The 30 Year Club. The 30 Year Club was initiated at the 30th running of the Crim in 2006. It consisted of all the 24 runners who had ran every Crim!  Each year since new members are admitted to this now prestigious club of Crim veterans. So this is my year. The 2016 Crim will be my 30th and I have been anxiously awaiting this year’s race for several years now!  Next week it officially begins as I have been invited to my first meeting. I hope to learn much more of what and how the Crim organizers have in mind to help me and about 15 other Crim veterans make this our best Crim experience ever!

Please check back regularly as I certainly plan to post many updates on the rapidly approaching 4th Saturday in August, downtown Flint Michigan!

Thank you and Run Happy

Coach Lee

 

Expectations

 

SoBoston Fin Line 16 race weekend is nearly here after logging over 600 miles of running, strength training, stretching, and more, ready or not here I come Boston.  Like a football coach having a game plan for the “Big Game”, runners need to have their personal game plan or strategy to assure success in their marathon.

Every marathoner shares at least two common goals for their marathon. The first is to simply get to the starting line healthy and ready to race their best. This is often much more difficult to attain than it sounds, for many runners fail to listen to their bodies during the grueling training period of 16 -20 weeks and thus experience an injury that at a minimum disrupts their training. The second goal is to simply finish the marathon!  This too sounds so simple for anyone who has trained. However, the marathon is a very humbling experience. Over the course of 26 plus miles so many influences are challenging the runner that to simply complete any marathon is a sweet victory.

Then there are the various other goals. Typically runners have a specific finishing time they aim to achieve. Others may run to experience the thrill of it all and could care less about the finish time.  For most runners participating in the Boston Marathon are running Boston as a result of attaining their previous goal, to qualify to run Boston!  One does not simply enter the Boston Marathon, a runner needs to qualify in a previous marathon in order to become eligible to enter!  The result is a field of 30,000 runners who represent the best marathon runners in their respective divisions.

My  expectations for the Boston Marathon are rather basic and focused more on enjoying the overall experience while still running a very respectful race. Short of a last minute freak accident, I should toe the start line in a healthy condition. I also feel confident I can finish the 26 plus mile route. The big question is how long will it take me and how will I do it?  What is my goal time to finish the Boston Marathon?

To answer those questions I needed to compare my experience at Boston 10 years ago to my race prep this year. In 2006 I had a 4:03 marathon time. Up to that point it was my slowest marathon finish time by 30 minutes! I was both disappointed and somewhat embarrassed. So my next goal for this year’s Boston is to finish in at least a sub 4 hour time.  Again, I still feel confident about being able to run a sub 4 hour marathon, but the challenges of the Boston course will not make this an easy goal to reach.

Back in September when I gained entry to this year’s Boston Marathon I had the lofty goal train hard and aim for a 3:40 marathon time. A bit optimistic, but not out of the question. That is until somewhere the middle of this winter.  I realized that real-life obligations also play an important role in one’s marathon training schedule.  Back in the fall I had planned to run much more than my training in 2006.  Actually, when I run my final, very slow paced, 4 mile run tomorrow morning, I will be 3 miles short of my 2006 training miles!

But, this does not mean I am doomed for a 4 hr plus marathon either. I also incorporated several new regimes into my training. Back in January I enrolled in a 7 week course with famed professional sports trainer Kirk Vickers of Triad Performance. Under Kirk’s tutelage  I my core strength improved as did my running form and efficiency.  I sacrificed training miles for training improvement.

Also different from 2006, was my early speed training with the Ann Arbor Track Club. From November through March each Tuesday night, various speed sessions at the University of Michigan’s indoor track was a great way to sharpen my running and conditioning while running with friends too.

Then there is the backbone of all my runs, my running buds with the Running Fit 501 training group out of Novi and Northville. I have been honored to help coach this group of people who enjoy running and running together. Our Wednesday night workouts continued to challenge us all especially during the dark winter Michigan nights. We also do our long runs each Saturday at Kensington Metro Park. This park is packed with Boston like hills so the long runs that incorporated challenging hills also. So simply stated, my training did not include mega miles it did include an overall better quality number of sessions. The results will not be known until some time mid-Monday.

As an obsessed runner who keeps detailed records of all my training for the past 30 years I know that I am also 10 pounds lighter going into this year’s marathon than my  2006 Boston run. Of course I am also 10 years older too and age does play a factor. I have experienced a slight slow down of my training runs this year.

So what started out as a goal finish time of 3:40 has been ratcheted down to a 3:50 mark. But in the end, if I simply finish and have a fun time doing so in the process then that will make all the work worth it. Regardless of my experience I will return to continue to RUN HAPPY 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and check back next week for the results!

Coach Lee

Finally, Do As I Do Too! or, My Detroit Marathon Story

Background

As a coach for the past seven years to many adults who are training to run a half marathon or marathon as a part of the Running Fit 501 program, I offer advice on how to successfully train and attain their goal for their race.  The problem is that what I tell these runners is much easier said than done. I ought to know for I have not been able to fully follow all of my marathon advice until the Detroit Marathon this past October.

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Pre Race, Cobo Joe’s Bar, downtown Detroit about 5 AM, thinking I’d rather be doing almost anything else than run a full marathon this morning!

First let me set the stage. I thought I had retired from competing in marathons in November of 2011 when I won my Age Group in the “City of Oaks Marathon” in Raleigh NC. That was until sometime early last summer when my daughter Alexis and I each were selected via a lottery to compete in the Chicago Marathon. It would have been Alexis’s first marathon. Unfortunately Alexis became injured late in her training and could not compete. On race day, I found myself alone again at the start line facing the challenge of a 26.2+ mile run. I knew how I was suppose to run a marathon, start slow, be smart, etc.  But this was Chicago, a nearly totally flat and therefore fast marathon.  I am accustomed to hilly courses.  So when I started faster than I should have, I thought this is great! I may run my fastest marathon in nearly 20 years!  Somewhere around mile 16 I was reminded of how all marathons can be very humbling.  I will spare you the details, let me simply say the next 10 miles were not pretty. Nonetheless, I was able to qualify to compete in the 2016 Boston Marathon with nearly 10 minutes to spare.  Regardless,  I knew my poor performance was my own mistake and I did not set a good example for my runners.

So it came to be that my daughter Alexis, her in-laws, and my other daughter Bridgett wanted to take a trip and run the Bayshore  Half Marathon in Traverse  City at the end of May (2015). Instead of running the half marathon, I was determined to avenge my Chicago disaster and compete in the full marathon at Bayshore. Like Chicago,  Bayshore has a reputation for being a fast and mostly flat route to race.  Well, I will spare you the details of that marathon except to say I made the same mistakes again. In fact if I had not had to make a pit stop at mile 16 my finish time (3:46) was nearly the same as Chicago.

Bayshore was not to be my last Marathon. My daughter Bridgett, was planning to run her first marathon at Detroit in October.  My plan was to surprise Bridgett at the starting line and run the entire marathon with her.  This would no doubt mean I would run my slowest marathon time, but instead this would be a once in a lifetime type event.  I prepared a training plan for Bridgett and she did very well adhering to the plan throughout the summer until the combination of higher miles, the hot and humid weather where she lives (NC), her final term as a grad student, along of course with family and work obligations all combined to cause her to pull out of her marathon training in mid- September.  Her decision was the right one for her. But it meant I had only a few weeks to “tweak” my physical and mental preparation.  Yes mental too.  I firmly believe that a marathoner needs to mentally prepare to compete in a marathon as much as they do physically too.

Race Prep

People can appreciate the time it takes to physically prepare to endure a marathon, but only a very few understand the importance and time required to prepare mentally.  With less than 5 weeks to marathon day the time to tweak my body and head was minimal. Nonetheless, I was convinced in my mind to make this my best marathon since my previous decoration to retire from marathoning 4 years earlier.  I decided to minimize my taper time from the normal 3 weeks to a minimal time of 2 weeks.  On each of my training runs I began to visualize my upcoming marathon. It helped greatly that over the course of the past several years I had participated in several marathon team relay events so I knew the quirks of the course, especially the final half.  I had also ran the first half of the course even more times as it is the Half Marathon route.  That along with being a native Detroiter and toured Detroit in the back of my grandfathers car more than half a century ago all helped greatly in taking on the mental challenge of the race course.  So each training run I visualized a part of the route.  My training hills became the stretch up the Ambassador Bridge.  My speed work on the track became my final kick along Fort St. and so on for many segments of the course.

While mental preparation is important if not critical, no amount of mental prep will result in a successful marathon if the runner fails to train their body for race day. Some of the training advice I offer runners for race day include:

  • Get plenty of rest the day before your marathon and hydrate
  • Start slow, make your first mile your slowest mile
  • Concentrate on running a negative split (second half faster than the first half).
  • Fuel properly during the race.
  • Do not go out too fast
  • Do not do anything new,  do not experiment on race day.
  • Do not go too slow  or too fast as you run up and down the Ambassador Bridge
  • Do not get caught up in the cheering crowds as you exit the underwater mile tunnel, you will waste too much energy too early (mile 8) in the race.

You would think these all are very sensible items therefore simple to do correct?  Well, no, ironically as simple as they sound they are very difficult to actually achieve. In fact I have never achieved all of these during my marathons.  I have never run a negative split in any race yet alone a marathon. I tend to be the runner who believes in miracles and start races a bit too fast thinking this time I can hang in there to the finish.  No, not even close, witness Chicago and Bayshore results!

If I was not going to run with Bridgett then I was convinced I would run my smartest marathon and avenge my Chicago and Bayshore Marathons.

The Marathon

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Do you see me?  I am the one with a blue hat and a finely crafted garbage bag running suit!  It was a very chilly start to the marathon.

The day before the marathon (rest day) I went downtown to watch my grandson Charlie run a kids mile race with his mom Alexis. Bridgett, her husband Shane, with granddaughter Katie, and I enjoyed watching Charlie and his fast finishing kick to the finish line.  Following Charlie’s race we trudged over to the race expo to pick up our race bib and a few souvenirs. This was all fun and good, but I was on my feet too long! Remember rule number one (see above) Lee!  I remember thinking most of that day that I really wished I had not entered the marathon.  What was I thinking!

Race morning came early, very early as we left the house at 4:00 AM to get to downtown. Parking was to be easy. Our training group had once again rented out Cobo Joe’s Bar.  It is strategically located near the start and finish area, but we needed to get downtown early to  avoid the street closures. Our bad, as the streets had closed much earlier than we had planned.  Our normal parking area was not accessible!  This only added to my stress and anxiety of not wanting to run not to mention a long walk to Cobo Joe’s too.

Soon enough it was time to lose my warm clothing, face the chilly elements wearing my thin racing gear, and get to the start line.  I always prefer to race in shorts and singlet (tank top style) race shirt.  My rule is if it is 40 degrees and rising then singlet and shorts are my dress.  This morning the temps were in the low 30’s and it was a bit breezy, and this was in and around the protective buildings of downtown Detroit.  Imagine the wind high on the open Ambassador Bridge! So I decided to wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt under my Brooks singlet.  This would still not be enough to ward off the predawn chill, so I also added my usual garbage bag cloak.

The half marathon and marathon runners start together and run the same course until about the 13 mile mark.  Thus as you line up at the starting corral you don’t know who is running which race, unless you are able to see their bib color. They also place you somewhat in order of each runners anticipated pace. Faster runners to the front and slower runners towards the rear. Runners are further divided into waves.  Each wave consist of a limited number of runners and the start of each wave is about 2 minutes from the previous wave start.

I found myself up near the very front of the second wave with a bunch of other scary fast looking runners. Again, why am I here? Am I really going to run more than 26 miles, at a reasonably fast pace, without stopping, and hope to be done in about 3 hrs and 40 minutes?

Joining me at the start was Meg Schulte, a fast runner from the 501 training group. Meg had run the Chicago Marathon only one week ago and was planning on competing in the half in Detroit. We chatted about race strategies, she asked about my plan for the marathon, asked if I was planning on an 8 min or so pace. I simply said no way and proceeded to explain my last two marathons. My goal was to start out very slow (for me) perhaps not any faster than 8:45 and I would not be disappointed to start even slower maybe 9:00 pace.  I explained my goal to run a smart race and run a negative split. That was my focus!

I started as planned, very slow yet warm in my garbage bag cloak.  I did force myself to keep it slow and not stay with other runners, I just kept repeating “run my own race”.  It wasn’t long after that that teammate Meg Schulte came up along side of me and while I was tempted to run along with her I knew it would be race suicide to stay with her, so she ran off into the still dark of the pre-dawn ahead of me as I ran down Fort St.

My garbage kept me warm and I was determined to keep it on as long as possible. The problem is that runners need to be able to display their race bibs to Homeland Security agents as you approach the Ambassador Bridge (about mile 3) and begin to leave the good ole USA and run into Canada. So for nearly a mile I ran with the bottom of my bag pulled up over my stomach to display my bib.  Normally it probably would have been OK to lose the bag by now but we were heading up and over the bridge about 400 feet above the Detroit River and nothing to block the somewhat strong winds.  I continued to focus on holding my pace, no need to spend too much energy on this hill climb, yet no need to slow down too  much too.

Oh Canada

Top of the bridge, a beautiful view in all directions. Two countries and thousands of runners.  Pace picked up a bit on the downhill route into Canada. Off came my garbage bag as it found it’s next home appropriately enough in a garbage barrel. Running through Windsor Canada is always fun.  Its great to look up and see the thousands of runners behind me strolling down the Ambassador Bridge, great crowd support along Riverside Dr. too eh?  I remember seeing the Canadian election signs out in the yards.

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Mile 6, Riverside Drive in Windsor Canada, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit River in the background

I also remember watching runners who appeared to be candidate for my age group ahead of me.  I ever so slowly gained real estate on them to the point where I could peripherally glance a peek at their  race bib and see that they were in the Half Marathon. Not a problem as I continued to slowly pass and see yet another potential competitor just ahead.

In the past I made the mistake of looking at my Garmin to see my pace etc. During the past few years as a Garmin runner I had come to depend too much on the device and less upon my “feel” as a runner. I knew that if I was to run a smart race I needed to rely more upon the feel of my legs and body and less on a satellite in outer space to run a smart race. After all, it worked well for me for over 40 years of running. Nonetheless, of course I gave an occasional glance at my Garmin but this time it was truly only occasional and it was to assure myself that I was still holding the pace back and not running too fast.  All through Canada, it felt like a very easy controlled controlled jog and I was still holding back. In fact, I had actually began to run a bit faster pace but not by all that much.  I told myself “all is going according to plan”, “you have been here before Lee”, “just hold this pace”.  In other words, a whole lot of positive reinforcement.

Running along Riverside Dr. in Windsor offers runners the best view of Detroit. Within the a few stride lengths the runner can see Detroit’s entire riverfront.  I was remembering back to my childhood the image of the riverfront, the Boblo boat docks, concrete silos, and an overall industrial look. Today’s view is much improved and will continue to improve. I also noticed the river walk location. The 23rd mile mark is along that area. I quickly put out of my head how much farther it was to there and redirected my brain to running consistently along Riverside Dr.

Runners soon make a few turns and head out of Canada and back to the good old USA by way of running under the Detroit River!  The tunnel is a truly unique feature for the marathon. While I was not cold, neither was I overheated in my running gear but the tunnel would soon change that. During the nice downhill path into the tunnel I unzipped my turtleneck shirt and removed my hat. Yes, as always, the tunnel air was warm and dry. Just about the time that the tunnel’s warm air was truly  becoming uncomfortable my legs felt the pavement’s incline and there really was that light at the end of this tunnel!

Back in the USA

One recommendation I always share with Detroit marathon runners, especially new marathoners, is to avoid a fast spurt of energy when you come out of the tunnel.  There is always a huge crowd awaiting and cheering the runners and you can easily get an adrenaline rush that will cause you to waste too much precious energy too early in the race.  Mile 8 of a marathon is not when you want to start your “kick”!  I thought I did pretty well in holding my pace out of the tunnel. When I exited and turned left onto Jefferson Ave. a race announcer announced “Lee Mamola, Novi, MI”!   Talk about trying to avoid an adrenaline rush!  Nonetheless, I have literally been down this road before and I managed to keep my cool and continued to the next downhill, under Cobo Hall.

The next stretch of the course was not to be my favorite. Runners run along a part of the Lodge expressway before returning to the streets of Detroit via the incline of an exit ramp.  It felt like this part was added only because officials needed to add some length to the route at some point. Then when you do return to the streets the route becomes long and straight. A few years ago my legs fell off at this point in the route while running in the Half Marathon.  I remember that this part required continued concentration.  I continued to tell myself my pace  was good, I still felt very fresh and relaxed, no sense of tiredness at all.

Before I knew it we were back onto the winding streets, into historic Corktown, and the bricks of Michigan Ave. The half way point was only a bit more than a mile or to be exact, 8 minutes and 37 secs away.  It was at this point that I started to target a runner ahead of me and focus on slowly gaining on them if I could.  Some I could, or rather wisely decided not to chase too, but of the ones that were maintaining a pace near mine, I did pass.  It’s especially fun to pass runners that are clearly at least 30 and sometimes 30+ years younger than me at this point in any race.  It was a great confidence builder as I headed to the midpoint of my marathon in Detroit.

Half Way There

Actually just prior to the 13 mile mark the half marathoners are separated from the marathoners as the half marathoners make a right turn to their finish line and marathoners continue the route.  My guess is that about 3 out of 4 runners are competing in the half marathon. So all of a sudden what was once a pack of familiar fannies you have been following suddenly diminishes to a much smaller group of serious marathoners. You also quickly realize that this is serious business and you need to continue to press ahead.

My second half began with a downhill along Griswold and between Detroit’s tallest and significant buildings. I remember a little more than a year ago walking down this very street with my boss at the time Lou Trama. We had meetings in the Ford Building and Guardian Building. Lou had been ill and had a difficult time breathing during this short two block route, his lungs were not healthy. Within 6 months he would pass on to his next life.  I was remembering Lou and that day when I came across two enthusiastic members of the Running Fit 501 group. Thanks to the cheers from Ron Smerigan and Liz Wright my mind was just as quickly refocused to the marathon. These streets of Detroit have been in my head for over 60 years, it was like running in my own neighborhood.

It had also helped that for the past several years I had competed at various legs of the Marathon Relay too.  Familiarity with a race route, especially a marathon is crucial to a successful race. Last year I ran a nearly 7 mile leg of the relay beginning from just prior to the 13 mile mark to the 19+ mile mark.  This helped me greatly for the marathon.  The long stretch along Lafayette became more bearable. I also remember trying to listen closely to my body. The time to hold my pace was behind me, if I was going to reach my goal of a negative split then I needed to slowly increase my pace without increasing too much. I remember passing the historic streets of St. Aubin, Beaubeon, Mt. Elliot, and how these streets were named for the families that settled along the Detroit riverfront. With each passing street I knew I was getting closer to historic Indian Village.

Fueling My Marathon

During the summer I experimented with a new sports drink, a product called  UCAN. This product is designed to minimize the peaks and crashes of other energy sources that are primarily sugar based and instead it forces your muscles to burn energy from fat sources within your body. It has a taste that takes some getting use to liking but once you do it’s not all that bad.  I loaded up on the drink for 48 hours in advance of marathon Sunday while resting as much as I could.  Then on race morning I also drank sufficient amounts to extend my energy to about 2 hrs.

Throughout the marathon I would take cups of water or gator aide at every aid station (roughly every mile or so).  It also was very apparent to me that I was more than adequately hydrated for shortly after I drank a cup, I also lost a cup, all throughout the marathon. But for the first time ever I had never raced this length of 16 miles without some sort of energy gel or candy. The UCAN was doing it’s job!  Then shortly after the 16 mile mark I could begin to feel my legs beginning the start of feeling fatigued.  Every runner knows this feeling.  I did not bring any UCAN product with me, so at the next aide station at mile 17 I would take a gel.  I had packed a few “emergency gels” in my pants just in case they would be needed.  But at  mile 17 they were passing out a gel product called “Boom”  I had actually used this product in the past and had very good results. So I grabbed a banana flavored gel and washed it down with water as I began my entry into Indian Village. But before I did, I grabbed another “Boom” gel from  a volunteer.

Boom gels are very appropriately named because my legs did feel a boom as I returned to my senses and reminded myself that the 8:05 pace my Garmin was telling me was too fast at this point.  The run through Indian Village is essentially a run around a  big city block. It’s a block that includes many of the older and finer homes in Detroit. It also has maintained a vibrant neighborhood over many years despite the myriad of challenges that eternally seem to plague the city especially for the past 50 years or more. But on this beautiful sunny Sunday morning filled with God’s autumn colors, all was just fine with me.  My pace was steady, continued a bit faster as I started to pick off more and more runners during the next two miles.  Then before I knew it my trip to  and through Indian Village was coming to an end.  As much as I enjoyed this part of the route I was glad to take on the next segment.

The Wall?

I remembered this route from my leg of the marathon last year. Runners leave the cozy confines of Indian Village and are thrust onto the wide open venue of Jefferson Ave.  I remembered this stretch to be a short  distance before the route takes the runners over the Belle Isle Bridge. In fact this segment along Jefferson was much longer than I remembered. No problem I was still running strong, I felt relaxed, and kept telling myself how awesome this was as I continued to “pick-off” even more runners ahead of me!  My pace continued to steadily increase albeit at only a few seconds per mile, I looked at my watch and noticed I had crept down to below an 8 min mile pace, ouch! A bit too fast Lee, cool it!  So, I did, I relaxed, smiled and waved at the DJ along the course offering encouragement and focused on the next milestone which was a relay exchange point.

It was at the Jefferson Ave. exchange point where I ended my leg from last year passing off to my son-in-law Steve. Steve was a good sport just to participate in the family relay team last year.  It was this same spot several years ago that I stood awaiting to receive the relay tag from my teammate Jessica Shehab. I was very familiar with this point in the course and the many fond memories of running here in the past came back to me in a flash.

It wasn’t much longer when I found myself feeling isolated as I ran the length of the MacArthur Bridge and approached entry onto this famous island. As an architect I appreciated the fact that the island park was designed by the famous landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted. For those who may not know who Olmsted was, he is to the landscape architecture profession what Frank Lloyd Wright is to the architecture profession. He was also designed New York’s Central Park, many other parks in the city of Detroit, and even nearby Ypsilanti. This sense of history did not help me as I was beginning to bake in the warming morning sun.

Once again I unzipped my turtleneck and removed my hat to release some warmth. I could begin to feel my legs begin to fatigue.  This was surely the result of the “crash” side of taking the Boom gels earlier.  I needed to fend off this fatigue. I remembered the last minute sage advice from my training partner, an excellent marathoner herself, Jessica Shehab.  She sent me a note reminding me to have my mantra to get me thru any rough spot(s) in the race.  So as I was about to begin to exit the bridge, I knew I had to maintain my pace, I could not let myself slow down at all.  So I told myself the following: “I am a running machine, I am a running machine” over and over.  As I entered onto Belle Isle I could see that I as also approaching another aide station so I reached for my honey gel, grabbed a cup of water to wash it down and noticed the sign that read “Mile 20”.  I had just run 20 miles and frankly still feeling pretty good! My pace was about 8:10 per mile, not too shabby for this point in the race.

Belle Isle

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Mile 21.5+/-, struggling against the wind and feeling very isolated on Belle Isle.  “You’re a running machine Lee”.

Despite the natural beauty, scenic urban vistas, and level flatness, the Belle Isle portion of the marathon route is not a welcoming part of the marathon.  In many prior marathons the runners ran entirely around the island (about 6 miles) and in the early years the marathon finished on Belle Isle. More recently the organizers cut the marathon route to about half of the island, the half that looks back to downtown Detroit and where the finish line is located. The reason the island is not favored by runners is the nature of the elements along the route here.  Despite the weather conditions on the mainland, Belle Isle inevitably offers tougher running conditions. Runners will experience stronger head winds, minimal crowd support along the way, and most runners are battling the effects of “Hitting The Wall” all combine to make this a difficult struggle at best.

The head winds of Belle Isle were upon me as I ran along the southern edge that overlooked Canada to the South. Yes, this is the only area of the world were Canada is actually south of the USA! I could feel my form weaken and I knew this was that turning point in the race where it would be easy to give up emotionally and struggle to finish the final few miles.  Thankfully I was able to fight this off and began to focus on catching the runner who was about 50 yards ahead of me. I focused on maintaining a steady pace as I fought off the head wind. Up ahead I could see the fountain. This is where the route would turn and the wind would be at my back.  I caught the next runner as I passed the fountain.

Just ahead was the next relay point. I was very familiar with this part of the route from running here the past two years. I had flashbacks of passing off to my teammate Marianne Carter here.  Before I reached the actual relay point I ran over the finish line of the Detroit Grand Prix!  I also grabbed another gel to fuel up for the final portion of the course. Mile 22 was now behind me. I told myself the race was going good. “I was a running machine, just continue to hold your strong pace Lee”.

There were not many runners arond me as I headed for the final turn before leaving Belle Isle and the long run over the bridge. There was a woman standing along side the route cheering. She noticed my name on my bib and shouted encouragement to me  “Lee, you’re a running machine Lee, you look strong”!  How did this woman know my mantra that had kept me going through the toughest part of the course?  I took it as some sort of a magic sign, took her advice, and picked up the pace over the bridge back to the mainland.

River Walk

There was great crowd support for runners departing the bridge. Their cheers helped me keep strong as I ran down Jefferson Ave. heading towards the Detroit River Walk park.  Between Jefferson and the River Walk we ran down a part of the course where Charlie had ran the day before.  I remembered how Charlie managed his “final kick”, if Charlie could reach down and go for it surely his Papa could too!

I finally reached the River Walk, the part of the route I was both anxiously awaiting and dreading. I welcomed this part of the route as it represented the beginning of the end. I dreaded it because of the uncertainty of the winds a runner might need to resist and certain twists and turns in the route would require additional energy resources from my continually dwindling reservoir.

I remember a young lady runner was attempting to pass me. I decided not to let this runner who was likely 40 years younger than me pass this old dude. It meant my pace would need to increase slightly as I fought her off for the next half mile or so.  This was the part of the river park where there were several twists and turns in the route.  My proven radar for running the tangents (shortest distance between two points) ultimately allowed me to pass this young runner for the last time. Next, focus on another runner.

The next runner was actually RF 501 coach Suzi and 501’r Raymond Yost, They acted surprised to see me and yelled encouragement, told be I was looking strong (I felt strong too). Suzi encourage me to catch the only 501’r who was only a few hundred yards ahead of me. Another young-in 30 years my elder, Anthony Miller. I was not going to focus on Anthony I was going to focus on my own race effort. I felt strong, knowing too that the end was coming.  I continued to run strong along Atwater St. passing runners as I did. I remember some runners turning their heads as I passed them and telling me I was looking strong!  Keep up the good work guy! When you receive encouragement from fellow runners along the way it only serves to keep you going even stronger.

The next part of the route was a challenging little hill between Atwater and Jefferson. This was a huge struggle!  It was short but relatively steep hill at a very strategic part of the course. Normally I charge up hills, not this time though.  My brain decide to take it easy, do not waste any energy, just get to the top in one piece. It was slow, but my legs kept turning and before I knew it the hill had passed and I was crossing Jefferson, approaching Larned.

The Final Kick

I survived the little hill and was turning onto Larned. Ahead was the parking lot I used to park in when coming downtown for meetings with AIA Detroit and the Michigan Architectural Foundation. I was surrounded by buildings I was very familiar with for many years. My legs were feeling totally drained. The crowds along the route where larger again. Many voices from strangers reinforcing my effort.  I could not let them down. I came upon Woodward Ave. How many times have I been at the intersection of Woodward and Larned in my life?

I was aware the finish line was approaching but I was not ready for the next turn leading to the finish line approaching so fast!  Before I knew it I was back on Griswold for a short stint, an uphill stint too!  Ugh! There were two runners just ahead of me as I approached the bottom of the hill. They were running strong. I was determined to show these “young  kids” how to finish a race. Knowing this was the last hill in the marathon and that the finish was near, I kicked my pace into another gear, pumped my arms, held my head up high, finished the hill and rounded the final turn!

There it was the finish!  Yikes it was not that far away, just a few blocks to go!  So I continued to run even a bit faster passing several more marathoners!  I simultaneously felt totally fatigued and strong as I did my best to focus on the finish line.  The announcer called out “Lee Mamola from Novi finishing”. Finally, arms reached in a victory reach as I crossed the finish line!  My final kick was at a 6:10 per mile pace!

I was relieved the marathon was done, I  was greeted by volunteers placing a finisher’s medal around my neck and another wrapping me in a mylar heat blanket. Over to my left were Bridgett and Alexis who each had finished their half marathons and came back to see me finish and finish my strongest marathon too!

Finish Bright
26.2 Mile Mark, The Finish !  II felt strong, and finished fast. It took months of training, two previous “rehearsal” marathons, hundreds of miles of running, and a strong willed determination to successfully cross this line.

It took some time and effort to exit the finish area but before I did, Bridgett and Alexis joined me in the area and we posed together for a finishers final picture.  Between the three of us we ran 52.4 miles this Sunday morning!

Results

The final numbers are in, once you have completed a race there is nothing you can do to change the actual results and nobody can ever take away the fact that you completed a race, especially a marathon!

My final net time of 3:41:06 (8:26/mile average pace) was good enough for a 3rd of 68, Place finish in my age group, 503 of over 3,800 other marathoners. I hit my goal of running a negative split by nearly two minutes, felt strong throughout the entire marathon, and finally avenged my previous two marathons in Chicago and Bayshore (Traverse City, MI). The final notable mark is that I also qualified to run the Boston Marathon (should I elect to run) with nearly 10 minutes to spare for 2017!  I finally ran a race the way I coach other runners to do. 

Following a slow and somewhat chilly walk from the finish area with Bridgett and Alexis, I returned to Cobo Joe’s to be very warmly greeting with applause and cheers from all the great folks and running buds from Running Fit 501!  I must admit that caught me totally off guard.  I don’t remember what I wanted to do more at that moment, change into dry pants or devour some of those juicy looking chili fries and onion rings some folks were already having.  I do remember the fries, onion rungs, and the suds that washed them all down tasted great!

1165_175382
Proud Dad with his support crew, Alexis and Bridgett, very fine runners too!

I was onto the long walk back to our car, a refreshing shower, and more eats as we celebrated our youngest granddaughter Katie Jane’s second birthday too!

Thanks to all who took the time to read this long story, it was about a marathon after all.  This has taken me weeks to gather and ultimately post. I look forward to any comments, feedback, and especially from anyone who may now be inspired to run a Marathon!

Thanks again and remember to always RUN HAPPY!

Coach Lee

 

 

 

When In Doubt

Finally!  Here it is my next post.  It’s been months since my last post and the reason has a lot to do with why I write this post. The two are related.  My last several posts were about my participation in the Chicago Marathon last October.  This post is about my participation in the Bayshore MaratTCBAYhon next week in Traverse City Michigan.

The marathon route is one of the most scenic routes of any as it travels 13 mile up the easterly side of Grand Traverse Bay then returns and finishes on the track at Traverse City HS. This is a flat and fast route, a favorite marathon of many runners.  It will be my first Bayshore.

Despite my diligent training last season preparing to take on Chicago I did not finish the marathon very strong.  That finish was my inspiration to enter the Bayshore Marathon.  My initial goal was to train diligently and finish the marathon in 3 hrs and 20 some minutes (3:28 would be sufficiently awesome).  Then reality hit.

Instead of starting my first month of training, I sat out most of November due to a small stress fracture in my foot.  There was also the tragic loss of my baby sister’s husband in late November.  In December I took advantage of a career opportunity and returned to a firm where I had previously worked several years ago.  This move was a very positive move in many ways including being training friendly, nonetheless, the new job keeps me very busy but all in a good way.  Before I knew  it two months of training opportunities were lost along with my waistline.

Then thereMinus14 was Mother Nature and our frigid winter (yes I did run outdoors at -14F).  It seemed like all winter I was never able to get into a training rhythm during the week and my long runs on the weekends were more like medium runs.  Then just as I was able to string together a reasonable training week or two, I stumbled on a patch of ice and needed to give my injured foot a week of rest. Following a week of decent running, I caught some form of a nasty bug that was going around.  So, you can start to see the picture of my training?

I was down to the bare minimum amount of training time required to finish a marathon. I can report that much of this time has been fruitful. I raced two half marathons and actually finished well but they were difficult efforts.  My week day efforts improved.  Still,  my weekly mileage of only 30-35 miles per week less than recommended minimums of 40 plus miles per week.

MartianHM
Racing towards the finish of the Martian Half Marathon

All of this adds up to the title of this post.  I do have many lingering doubts about running a marathon 6 days from now!  So why post this?  Because earlier this morning I read an article about overcoming negative thoughts during a marathon.   Among a number of methods was a suggestion to make your goal public. Tell as many people as you can about your marathon, your goals, your thoughts, your experiences. So I am putting this out to the entire world!

I may not run a 3:20 something marathon, I may not win my age group, but I will run a marathon, I will run a SMART marathon, I will enjoy the experience, I will celebrate afterwards, and I will anticipate the next marathon!

Stay tuned world and take a peek at this marathon: http://www.bayshoremarathon.org

See you back here sometime next week?  Be sure to sign-up to follow my blog posts for updates. In the meantime,  thanks for visiting and continue to RUN HAPPY!

Lee

Departing Taperville

Chicago Marathon
Chicago Marathon

Following months of training that included long runs, fast runs, slow runs, hills, diet, yoga, weights, and yes even an occasional massage session, the time has come. There is nothing else I can do at this point to improve my training effort.  Now the best thing for me is to relax and attempt to rest as much as possible so I can report to the starting line healthy, rested, and ready to race Sunday morning in Chicago. My journey to and through Taperville is nearly over.

The marathon is a very humbling experience. Despite how one has trained the runner needs to be very prepared and to prepare for anything can happen. I am at a loss for expectations for this marathon. For me the wild card is the course. It is a very flat and fast course. I do most of my running on very hilly routes in Milford and Northville. I do very well with hills, so you would think running on a flat route would be to my benefit. I will let you know how that works out after Sunday.

The Chicago Marathon will be my 9th marathon. After placing first in my age group in the City of Oaks Marathon in 2011, I decided to retire from the event with my win. However over the past 18 months my youngest daughter Alexis has taken up the sport, trains with our group, and completed several half marathons. She decided to make Chicago her choice for her first marathon. We entered the lottery back in December and learned that we each were selected to compete this past April. However she will not be running this marathon as a previous injury has yet to properly heal so I will look for her along the route cheering me towards the finish line.

I have two finish time goals, a realistic one and an optimistic one. Realistically I hope to complete the route in 3 hrs. 40 mins or less. Optimistically, and if all the stars are properly aligned on race day I would be very happy to break the 3 hrs. 30 min mark, which is very possible based upon training and conditions. Hopefully these times will place me in the top 10% of the entire field and somewhere near the top 25 in my age group. My strategy is to start slow, run a very even pace for the first half (1hr 46 min) then continue until somewhere about mile 22-23 where I hope to press the pace and run a negative split (1hr 44 min). This will not be easy, as I said at the start, the marathon can be a very humbling experience.

The start of the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I hope to be somewhere in the middle of this crowd on Oct.12 this year.
The start of the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I hope to be somewhere in the middle of this crowd on Oct.12 this year.

If you like you can follow me along the streets of Chicago by visiting www.chicagomarathon.com and find the link to “Track a Runner”. From there you can enter my name and you should be able to see my split times at key points along the course. You can also watch the marathon live via the web: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Watch-the-2014-Chicago-Marathon-272105781.html  Coverage should begin at about 8AM Detroit time and extend until about noon. Following the live TV coverage the NBC station continues to broadcast the average runners (like me) crossing the finish line. Look for an old architect in a light blue running singlet and shorts. I start in the first of two waves at 8:30 Detroit time.

Regardless of the outcome, you can safely bet that I will be out there “Running Happy”.  Thanks for your support and time to view today’s posting. Please check back soon for my marathon report.

Lee

Today in Taperville

My journeyMoon through this mythical and magical place runners refer to as Taperville continues.  This is my last week, the end is near.  So far all is going to plan. I know this because I no longer feel like a fit runner!

It’s hard to comprehend how I will survive running a full marathon at the end of this week. Yet all signs indicate all should be fine.  During this year I have lost over 15 pounds and my fear is that most of my lost pounds will miss their home and rejoin me during this visit to Taperville.  I am happy to report only a pound or two have decided to return this week.

I find my mind is going crazy making mental notes of items I need to pack for my trip to Chicago. Things most people do not think of taking. Items such as Vaseline,  precooked oatmeal with honey, GU packs, and even my mylar warming blanket from The Brooksie Way finish over a week ago.  Runners should save these blankets to help them keep warm while waiting for the gun to go off in early morning fall races.  I need to think about racing clothes, shoes, socks, and of course the standard issue garbage bag.  No, not to toss my waste into but rather to wear as a pre-race suit.  Many laugh at me for this but many more runners are jealous of me during the final pre-race moments.

Runners refer to this period as “Taper Madness”. A madness like many other madness’s I suppose, cannot be adequately explained but only experienced.

So how appropriate that as I enter this post the moon is full and experiencing a total eclipse this morning.

Continue to Run Happy my friends. Thanks for stopping by y blog today.

Lee

 

 

The Tradition Continues

Crim start

Judging solely by the title you might think this is about Christmas or a similar special event. Well, it is about a special event but has almost nothing to do with Christmas. More on the Christmas part later.

This is Crim week, the week prior to the fourth Saturday of August. The Crim 10 Mile road race is one of the best, if not the best 10 Mile road race in the US. It began back in 1977 and while I was working as a young architect in Flint at the time, I was not aware of the race. Back in 77 the race occurred 5 weeks before my wedding day so I had other things on my mind the summer of 77 besides running a grueling 10 miles in the afternoon sun. It has been 30 years now since I first ran Crim and this will be my 27th Crim race. Only a few more and I can join the truly elite runners who also have run 30 Crims and get a 10 minute head start on the field of over 10,000 runners.

So what makes it so special for me? Easy, it’s always been sort of a homecoming. It’s the area where my running career began as a high school runner in track and later cross country for Grand Blanc. Not long after that first Crim, I relocated from the Flint area to Metro Detroit where I continued to run primarily for fitness, not for competition. My passion to run long distances along rural roads or race along the curve of a flat track remained in my blood. Then late in 1983 I hooked up with a group of like-minded runners in the form of The Novi Trackers and I suppose you can say the rest is history.

I ran my first Crim race in 1984 wearing cotton gear and my very expensive $36 running shoes. Back then the race started away from the finish area downtown Flint. It started on the campus of Mott Community College. There were no timing chips, no corrals, no wave, just the national anthem and the gun. Runners lined up as close to the start as possible and dared to run across dangerous curbs and damp lawns to get as fast as start as possible. I vividly remember standing in the crowded start, wondering if I would even finish a 10 mile race my longest race distance was only 4 miles. I just wanted to survive, literally!  It was only about 18 months prior that my father passed away from a heart attack in a room of St. Joe’s Hospital that overlooked the start of the Crim course. I looked to that window and asked him to overlook my race.

A few years later the start was moved to downtown Flint and the crowd of runners grew from 2,000 to 5,000, to now over 10,000 for the 10 Mile race. They also now have several other races and events that spread over several days, and there is a full time staff to administer the good work of the Crim Foundation.

Since my first Crim I have had several personal traditions, all have evolved over the past thirty years and I trust they will continue to evolve and new ones started. In somewhat chronological order they are:

  • The first is the Saturday afternoon nap! It’s tough for me to get a good night’s sleep prior to any distance race so by the time it’s over, I am dog tired and need to recover.
  •  I have also always waked very early on Crim race morning, typically awake by 4AM. I get dressed, have a pre-race breakfast then drive up to Flint (about an hour north) and arrive just as others begin to arrive to downtown Flint, including the sun! It’s a dark ride and I enjoy my running tunes while munching on energy food or playing chauffeur to some of my running friends also racing 10 miles.
  •  Then it’s to a parking space, which has varied over the years but seldom beyond a 100 ft radius.

Bill Robin Lee

  •  For the past 20 years or so I drive up to Flint late Friday afternoon to visit the race expo. Pick up my race bib, T-shirt, goody bag, and scope out the Expo. Until 2 years ago the Crim also had a vast array of Crim related merchandise for sale. Posters, hoodies, polo shirts, even chairs and umbrellas. But my favorite has always been the coffee mugs. I must have nearly every coffee mug sold for the past 20 years. Always tastefully designed with the creative artwork by a local artist. Unfortunately this sales area no longer exists. Apparently the Crim Foundation has instead delegated the sales of such items to a major running gear company, not happy.
  •  For many years my pre-race tradition on race morning has been to simply sit on the steps of the Citizens Bank Building which fronts the starting area and simply people watch. I have met people there that morning that I have not seen in decades!
  • The race itself has many numerous traditions, the weather conditions, the start, the course, the entertainment, and the finish line. Perhaps the best feature of the Crim finish are the frozen popsicles and cold wet paper towels racers receive after running a grueling 10 miles in hot, humid, hilly, and sunny conditions. Forget the cool heavy weighted finisher’s medal it’s all about the popsicles and other post race goodies at the finish line.
  •  In early August several years ago I was inspired to sit down and type out a mile by mile description of how to race the Crim course. I titled it “Touring The Crim Course”. It’s a stride by stride of how to strategically race the course and provide a preview of what to expect along the way. I re-issue this 8 page article with update. Ironically, I found my own description very helpful to me during the Crim races since.
  • Post finish line has its own separate traditions. It begins with lining up with other race finishers to receive a hot slice of pizza and a cold beer. Yes it’s probably only about 10AM but this is one morning this combo works.
  •  Just a few feet away from the end of the pizza and beer line tent is a drive way to the parking lot. I have been arranging to meet people at this point for years. Usually people from years ago. It’s also a great spot to simply sit and people watch even after the pizza and beer are long gone.
  •  Up until about 8 years ago that would have been the end of my Crim race day. For the past 8 years I have been a part of the Running Fit 501 Marathon Training group. Each summer we have 50-80 runners race the Crim. Each year we also form some form of team and compete in the Crim Race Team event or our own event. It has always been a fun post race party regardless of how well one raced that day.

501 Crim Start

  •  Ultimately it’s back home for that well deserved nap but that’s not the end of the Crim race day tradition! Up until about 4-6 years ago, you could relive that morning’s race on TV. The local Flint public TV station had perhaps the best race coverage of any race on TV anywhere, yes even including word class events such as the Olympics! WFUM’s team did an excellent job of not only covering the leaders and elites but also the common runners too. They would regularly cut away from the elite coverage and show the middle of the pack runners in live time. I remember seeing myself struggle up the Bradley Hills at the 5 mile mark one year. That shot taught me to look up when running uphill!
  •  The TV coverage is long gone only to be replaced by same day results on the web and many YouTube videos. It’s a different world.
  •  Other ancillary traditions include stopping at my mother’s house in Grand Blanc either the night before the race or post race on my return home. The last such visit was in 2004 as she passed from this life 10 months later. My sister who lives in Flint also sends me the pre and post race clippings from the Flint Journal. I still have many of those old clippings. Good thing because the Flint Journal is also a victim of the digital age.

So, what about that Christmas tradition I mentioned at the start of this lengthy post? Well, I suppose you could say the Crim race extends to the Christmas season in our house too. For the past 6 Christmases I decorate our tree with race medals from that year and medals from my most memorable races from prior years. So adoring the Christmas tree with my medals from the New York City, Boston, Detroit, and Raleigh, Marathons are many Crim medals from the current year and many years prior.

Christmas Tree 2013

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy piece. By the time this gets posted I will be heading up to Flint to perhaps start a new tradition by competing in this year’s USATF, Masters 1 Mile National Championship Race.

Run Happy.

Lee

Greetings Strangers!

The start of the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I hope to be somewhere in the middle of this crowd on Oct.12 this year.
The start of the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I hope to be somewhere in the middle of this crowd on Oct.12 this year.

Greetings Strangers!

Actually I have been the stranger for not posting here in the past five weeks. I do have a good excuse however. I have simply been out there running more! This past April I won the lottery, no not that lottery, the lottery to be among over 40,000 other runners to compete in this year’s Chicago Marathon on October 12. After winning my age group at The City of Oaks Marathon in November 2011, I thought I had retired from marathons. But this year I decided to try to enter Chicago because of the unique opportunity to run it with my daughter Alexis. We each entered the lottery and we each won! This will be her first marathon.

So I thought I might stray a bit from the usual theme of mixing running and architecture and begin to post my efforts to train for Chicago. I hope to post at least once a week and will try my best to keep these posts short and sweet. To bring you up to date what follows is a very short summation of the training since April. Actually, I have been running pretty consistently all year (as I have been doing now for more than several decades) so the training started with a solid base of miles.

April was all about the mindset. Sure one needs to log plenty of miles to successfully complete a marathon, but if your head is not in it, your marathon experience will not be a very enjoyable one at all! At first I found it difficult to jump right from the regular routine of running 25-30 miles per week to a more rigid schedule with many more miles each week. The real change occurred in May.

My work schedule M-F is normally 7am to 4pm. This makes it difficult to get any kind of a run in the mornings. I was able to change my schedule to a later start thus allowing me an extra hour to run or do another type of workout such as yoga. I still get out of bed at the same time as before, but now I am out there running.  In late  May I started to run nearly every morning. These runs typically are not long or fast,  but when combined with evening runs scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays they will provide a significant opportunity to build my mileage base to where it needs to be. At this point I am now running 40-45 miles per week.

The month of June simply is the best month of the year to train in Michigan. The weather is nearly perfect for running, especially early in the mornings. It is actually light enough at 5:30 in the morning to see your watch without any backlight! There is also a new freshness when combined with the long range outlook for racing in the fall makes this time of year my personal favorite. Like every team is a champion in their pre-season training camp, every runner is headed for a PR (personal record) in their upcoming fall marathon.

In addition to building the mileage base, I simultaneously need to lose some weight. For me this will be more challenging than building the miles. It always has been. Ironically, training for a marathon tends to add weight to people versus any significant loss. I have been paying close attention to my diet needs and doing well. I am on a path towards my goal but from here on out, it will be difficult.

For now, all is on track; I simply need to run more, eat right, and enjoy the experiences along the way. Thanks  for taking the time to read this, check back again soon, and Run Happy!

Lee

Was Einstein A Runner?

Einsteinrunning

I have a theory about the person who has presented our world with many of his own famous theories. I believe that Albert Einstein was a runner! When you hear or read his name you probably have a vision of him in his later years, looking old with his head of frizzled grey hair. It would be tough to imagine him as a runner but that’s my theory.

So what is my basis for this theory and how do I go about attempting to prove it? Well, like most of Einstein’s theories only a limited segment of the population would ever understand my theory. In this case one would need to be a runner and more specifically a marathon runner to totally understand my hypothesis. Let me explain.

It all centers on time. Einstein believed time was relative to motion and space. Without getting too technical the best example is comparing two extremes. On one end of the spectrum there are times we all experience when time seems to simply fly by and then there are other times when time just seems to move so slow.

For me the time that seems to fly by the fastest is the one hour before I need to leave the house each morning and experience the thrill of the pre-dawn traffic along the expressways of metro Detroit. I have always been a morning person and I enjoy taking my time to wake slowly, sip my coffee, check the overnight email, do some morning yoga stretches, lift a few weights, and if I got out of bed early enough perhaps even a morning run. All of this before I need to do anything remotely associated with getting ready for work. There is never enough time to eat my breakfast, iron a shirt or pants, shower, get cleaned up, and out the door. I manage to get most of these items completed but I am continuously amazed by the speed of the hands on our grandfather clock each morning.

Then there are those times when time seems to come to a near halt. Perhaps the best example is when you are at work, with little to do except to remain on duty. You ultimately begin to watch the clock. Time appears to drag on forever! Fortunately for me this situation does not occur too often but when it does I begin to have an understanding of what eternity might feel like.

Still, what does this have to do with Einstein being a runner? Plenty, for runners experience many instances where time seems to fly by and other instances where time seems to take forever. Perhaps the best example occurs during the experience of running a marathon.

Early in a runner’s marathon experience they are likely feeling exuberant and why not. The runner’s body and mind is rested, filled with emotions, and eager to perform well. Typically runners run the first mile or two faster than they should so in addition to being alarmed by the speed of their mile split time, they also feel like time has flown by, perhaps as fast as my typical workday morning.

Contrast the experience of the early marathon miles to the later miles. It could be anywhere after mile 15-16 or even as late as mile 24 or so (I need to interject to the uniformed here, that a marathon is 26.2 miles). Regardless, in nearly every marathon, the runner will begin to struggle and this struggle extends to the runner’s brain. The runner’s brain is tempting the runner with a myriad of reasons to stop running, at least slow down! Coincidentally, the runner’s pace per mile has likely slowed considerably too. The runner may only be running a minute per mile slower in the later miles than the earlier miles but it is a huge difference. As an example, if the runner started the marathon at an 8 min per mile pace and runs a 9 min per mile pace towards the end, the runners pace has slowed by over 12%. Yet in the runners mind, the runner feels like they may be running half as fast. For the runner in this condition, time seems to drag on and on and is further exacerbated by the physical difficulty of continuing to run these final miles.

Again, back to Albert Einstein, he had to have been out for at least a long run during his break time. He experienced the anguish of the later part of a long run and had the brilliant idea to relate the sense of time to one’s experience as they travelled.

That’s my theory and I am sticking to it !

Thanks for taking the time to read this and continue to RUN HAPPY.

Lee

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Architect

The image of the prototypical architect and long distance runner is one where the architect or runner is each alone in taking on their respective challenges.  While there are plenty of times that an architect or a runner welcome seclusion the reality is that architects and runners come to depend upon a growing list of specialized experts to help them reach their respective goals.

An architect may be identified as the “Designer” for a building and in fact in some instances the architect my in fact be the only architectural person involved to produce not only the design concept but the balance of the necessary duties required to complete the building through to the end of construction. The more common scenario is one where a single architectural firm produces the design and provides on going services through the entire construction.  In this situation, there will likely be several individuals who lead various stages of the design project.

Yet even  a single architectural firm does not have sufficient capabilities to provide all the necessary services.  Most firms will sub-contract services to provide mechanical (HVAC and plumbing), electrical, and structural engineering services. Then in an attempt to provide the client with the required expertise there are also an ever increasingly list of specialty consultants.

The list of specialty consultants can be never ending list of experts. The most common include such disciplines or specialties as; acoustics, kitchen equipment, interior furnishings, signage, elevator, historic, and many more. It is the architect who determines the need for such specialists and who is also the one responsible to coordinate the efforts of the entire design team, including all of the specialty consultants.

So it is for the runner too! In my early days of running the sport was extremely simple.  A runner bought a pair of running shoes, put on some shorts and a shirt and ran.  More than thirty years ago shoes started to become more and more customized to match a runners style, the pace and diversity of options available to the runners started to increase. Then there were changes in a runner’s gear too. Specialized fabrics designed to keep runners cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather became popular.  Now there is an entire specialty industry to serve the runner. The list of toys and tools is probably best left to another post.

My point here is the observation that like architects, who have become to rely upon a team of specialists to help the architect perform better, there is a comparable list of specialists who have emerged to help the runner!  Most runners who take their training seriously must admit they seek outside experts to help them perform at their best. This list of experts are likely to be as simple as the experienced runner and sales person at a local running specialty store to, a group or personal coach, yoga instructor, massage therapist, sports trainer, nutritionist, medical doctor, and perhaps even a runners personal IT specialist to help the runner maintain their digital tools.

Sure it used to be such a simple sport. In my opinion, the sport may have become significantly less simple, it has become even more enjoyable!

Now go lace up your shoes, find your nearby satellite, and RUN HAPPY 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this today.

Lee