Racing — Race from where you are today, rather than where you may have been yesterday

running-advice-bugI decided to race last weekend despite having not been training or racing much the last few months. I’ve been taking some time off, but there was an opportunity, I needed a good workout, so I thought I would give it a go. But here’s the thing, I’ve run this race before. I knew the course. I knew what I could run. I knew I could run with the leaders . . . or could I?

Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves. I had to keep reminding myself to race my race from where I was this week rather than last year at this time. It’s easy to slip into a mindset of “I’ve done this before” or “I know how to do this.” The question is where is my fitness today? How should I race now rather than then?

The situations that I can see this coming up are two — after dealing with a lay-off from an injury or after taking time off for other reasons. It can be really easy for runners to head back out to a race with visions of their performance based on their last race, but that can only set us up for disappointment. When we start thinking down the “I think I could path” we often get a real dose of reality trying to put it into action. I’ve actually had runners say to me they were disappointed with a race performance as compared to a previous performance years earlier. Our fitness changes, so must our expectations.

The real question to ask yourself at any given point is “what is my fitness now?” Setting goals or expectations based on an idea of past performance won’t translate into actual performance out on the road or the race track. It isn’t as though we can will ourselves to run faster than our fitness will allow. If we could, everyone would be running world records just by setting their minds to it.
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Racing — Taking The Pressure Off

running-advice-bugOver the past couple of months I have supported lots of runners at their Spring marathons. I’ve been kind of fascinated by a common theme that I’ve heard from some of them. The most common scenario goes something like this. The runner is telling me that they originally planned to run their marathon in X time but that now that something has happened to them, they’re “just going to relax and see how it goes.” I bumped into a couple of such runners out on marathon courses and they looked great, happy, and relaxed. One such runner said to me, “Once I really realized that I couldn’t make my goal, I felt so much better about the race.”

The common theme here is the tremendous pressure that we place on ourselves as runners. What these runners are expressing is a form of relief that they are feeling after loosening the pressure valve and letting themselves off the hook. As I asked one of the runners above: “hey, we knew that you weren’t going to win this thing, so what’s really changed here?” Nothing’s really changed, except that they’ve allowed themselves to experience the race without the pressure that they were putting on themselves.

Pressure is not necessarily a bad thing. The sense of pressure that we place on ourselves is something that helps us perform. When it comes time to endure pain, push hard, or dig deep, it is that sense of pressure that allows us to respond and meet those challenges. But pressure can be a negative thing as well. If we become obsessed with meeting our goals, especially our stretch goals, then we can drive ourselves crazy with anxiety and worry. This just takes away from the experience and makes us feel bad.

What’s important is that we are in touch with the pressures that we are putting on ourselves and try to understand where they are are coming from. Are these real competitive pressures that we’re feeling (such as from a true adversary or in trying to set a new personal best) or are we simply putting pressure on ourselves to meet a particular goal? I commonly hear runners say things like, “I just really wanted to run 3:35:00 here at this race.” They are heartbroken when they run 3:37:00 or 3:40:00 or 3:45:00 — but have they actually failed to achieve something that anyone other then they would even recognize?
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Races — Goucher & Bak Win First Rock N Roll Portland Half

running-advice-bugPortland, Ore. – May 20, 2012 – It was an Oregon sweep Sunday as two in-state residents took home titles at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon. Ryan Bak of Bend and American marathon star Kara Goucher, who trains locally with the Oregon Track Club, each prevailed in dramatically different fashions.

Kara Goucher Wins 2012 Rock N Roll Portland Half

Beneath a steady Portland mist along the scenic Willamette River adjacent to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, runners from 49 states and 16 countries kicked off Portland’s annual Rose Festival. The lead pack of 6 men, who all owned half-marathon personal bests within one minute, ran an opening mile of 4:57 through the downtown streets, before crossing the Hawthorne Bridge into east Portland.

Bak, Arizona’s Tibor Vegh and Philemon Terer of Kenya separated themselves from the competition at mile six after the steady uphill climb past the swanky business district section located along Hawthorne Blvd. The three runners stayed together until they reached the scenic downtown views on Lloyd Blvd just before mile 12, when Bak made his move to take home the victory with a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 5 seconds.

“This was my third weekend in a row racing and it was great to have a decent pack of guys who were all competitive. When the three of us were together until mile 12, I was thinking this is really going be a race,” said Bak, who finished fifth at last weekend’s U.S. 25k Championships and will run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth on June 16th. “There was a lot happening with little surges here and there, and it was a great feeling to win with the sprint at the end in front of the spectators in my home state. This was my first Rock ‘n’ Roll event and it was a lot of fun and great to have it so close to home.”

With a competitive men’s race, Goucher arrived to the starting line as the most talented runner in the women’s field, using the local race as a fitness test for the upcoming Olympic Marathon in London on Sunday, August 5th. She completed the 13.1-mile event uncontested, crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 5 seconds.
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Filed under: Marathon Running

Races — Rock N Roll Adds Pittsburgh Half Marathon to Series

running-advice-bugPittsburgh, PA – March 21, 2012 – Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI) ), organizers of the Rock N Roll Marathon series, today announced Pittsburgh as the newest Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon destination beginning next year. The inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Pittsburgh Half Marathon will be held on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

“We’re excited to welcome nearly 12,000 runners from around the world to the City of Pittsburgh next August. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is an excellent opportunity to show why National Geographic Traveler named Pittsburgh a ‘Best of the World’ place to visit,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The musically themed race series combines live, local bands, enthusiastic cheerleaders, and spectator-lined streets, taking runners on a 13.1-mile tour through one of America’s iconic cities. The race will promote Pittsburgh as a destination city, highlighting its landmarks, unique neighborhoods and scenic riverfront.

Estimates project more than 50 percent of event participants will travel from out of town and the event could fill 5,000 hotel rooms in the Pittsburgh area, providing an economic impact of $8 million for restaurants, shops and other local businesses in its first year.
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Humor — Ten Signs Your Running Partner Wants to be Your Valentine

running-advice-bugHappy Valentine’s Day to all of your runners out there. Let’s face it, many of us live running. We run in our spare time. We hang out with runners. The single people among us may even want to date other runners. But as always, the approach in making this known varies from person to person. In that spirit today I present my list:

Top Ten Signs that Your Running Partner Wants to Be Your Valentine

[Two new bonus items make it twelve now.]

12. Running partner shows up to the run in a red thong with a heart on the front and that’s all.

11. Creepy grin when suggesting that “downward facing dog” would be good for your flexibility.

10. Offer by your partner to put Body Glide on was a nice gesture, but took on new significance when he indicted where he was going to put it.

9. New tattoo across his calf says, “if you can read this, you’re following too close (and I like it.)”

8. Suggests meeting in the hot tub instead of the trail-head where you normally meet.

7. Replaces energy chomps with heart shaped candies that say “Be mine.”
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Marathon — Will the Marathon World Record Continue to Fall?

running-advice-bugWhen it comes to marathon running world records, we go through eras of both stability and great change. Today we’re in an era of change with the world mark dropping fast. The current crop of runners, both young and old, are taking advantage of advances in training methods, modern science and perhaps a bit of luck to keep the barometer of marathon running speed falling downward.

Patrick Makau Breaks the Marathon World Record

Looking at records of the fastest marathon times ever recorded, including both certified world records and world’s best performances, the top four fastest times in history were run in 2011 and eleven of the twenty fastest times ever were run in either 2011 or 2012. Add 2010 to the list of 15 of the fastest times in history are on the list.

Two races in particular produced a crop of incredibly fast times. Last April’s Boston Marathon, with perfect conditions and a tail winds, saw Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop run well under the world record at the time in 2:03:02 and 2:03:06 respectively, narrowly missing breaking the 2:03:00 mark. It was just 2009 when Haile Gebrselassie break the 2:04:00 mark for the first time and you have to go all the way back to 2003 to find the first time that broke the 2:05:00 barrier.

The times at Boston were not recorded as official World Records because of the net drop in elevation of the course in Boston so the marks set there are considered world’s fastest times instead. But looking at the World Record itself, this past Fall saw even more action. At the Berlin Marathon is 2011, Patrick Makau took a whopping 21 seconds off the then World Record, scorching the course in 2:03:38. Just a month later, Wilson Kipsang almost broke it again in the Frankfurt Marathon running 2:03:42.

And just this past weekend, the Dubai Marathon produced stunning times. There four men ran under 2:05:00 for the first time in a single marathon. Ayele Abshero won the race in 2:04:23 with Dino Sefir, Markos Genti and Johnathan Mayo all running under 2:05:00 as well. That means that four of the top 20 fastest times in history were run in the same race this past weekend.
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Races — Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon Announces Race Route

running-advice-bugCompetitor Group, Inc. (CGI), organizers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon, have unveiled the race course for the inaugural event. Approximately 15,000 runners are expected at the half marathon that will kick off the Rose Festival with a uniquely Portland flavor when it debuts for its first running on Sunday, May 20.

“The Rose Festival is proud to partner with an event that will showcase Portland, promote a healthy lifestyle and most importantly, bring even more visitors to our great city,” said Jeff Curtis, CEO of the Rose Festival. “We thank the City of Portland and all of our community partners involved with designing a course that both local and visiting runners have never had the chance to experience, including downtown, the waterfront, two bridges and inner eastside neighborhoods.”

The half-marathon start venue will be located on Naito Parkway, which is adjacent to downtown Portland’s scenic Tom McCall Waterfront Park alongside the Willamette River. After a short tour of downtown, runners will enjoy the first of two bridge crossings as they head to beautiful east Portland. There they will experience an eclectic mix of Portland neighborhoods, gorgeous Laurelhurst Park and a wonderful downhill finish heading back towards downtown on Lloyd Blvd. After the final crossing on the iconic Steel Bridge, runners finish back at the Waterfront Park on Naito Parkway at the corner of Salmon Street.

“Portland is a beautiful city with a strong local running community and this course was designed with the runner experience in mind. I truly believe it’s the best course the area has to offer, given the unique layout of the city, mass transit and our goal to be sensitive to churches and bus routes,” said Alan Culpepper, two-time Olympian and Operations Director at CGI. “The route offers an abundance of scenic views, including the Willamette River bridges, East Portland and Laurelhurst Park highlighting the very best of the City of Roses.”

A free two-day Health and Fitness Expo will kickoff event weekend on Friday, May 18 at the Oregon Convention Center. The expo is free and open to the public featuring the latest health and nutrition information with a variety of products for sample and sale, as well as a series of interactive fitness clinics.

Event weekend concludes with a finish line concert at Waterfront Park. Past Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon headliners have included SEAL, Blues Traveler, Journey, B-52s, Goo Goo Dolls and Bret Michaels. The headline act for Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland will be announced at a later date.

To see the new Portland Half Marathon race route on Competitor Group’s web-site, click here.

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Races — Dublin Joins Rock N Roll Marathon Series

running-advice-bugDUBLIN, IRELAND — The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series will officially add a half-marathon in Dublin, Ireland to its schedule of events in 2012. Competitor Group Inc., parent company of the Rock N Roll Marathon Series, has reached a partnership with Athletics Ireland to launch the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon, which is expected to attract more than 10,000 participants and is currently scheduled for Monday, August 6, 2012.

“Ireland and its capital city of Dublin are a perfect fit to host a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event,” said Peter Englehart, CEO of CGI. “Dublin is a bustling city with a great love of sports, outdoor entertainment and world-class cultural offerings. We are extremely happy and pleased to bring an event of this caliber to the city and we know there will be a lot of excitement around this race every year.”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon is now part of an international series of musically themed marathons and half-marathons, uniquely combining entertainment with a scenic 13.1-mile road course. The event features live bands performing at every mile along the route, cheerleaders encouraging runners, themed water stations and a finish line concert headlined by a major act.

Race weekend in Dublin will begin with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo where all participants go to pick up their race number. The expo will feature several running and fitness retailers, exhibits with free nutritional samples and a series of interactive clinics.

“This event provides a perfect stage to grow local participation in athletics and it also comes at a time when we are increasing our focus on sports tourism,” said John Foley, CEO of Athletics Ireland. “Competitor Group is a worldwide leader in the endurance sports sector and it has an international presence that will help bring runners to Dublin from around the world. We want people to come to Dublin for our beauty and our culture and leave with an unforgettable running experience.”

Runners can take advantage of a special three day registration offer through 19 November by registering online at RunRocknRoll.com. Registration will officially open 1 December, and be provided by the Active Network.
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Races — Chicago Marathon Looks to be one of Year’s Fastest

running-advice-bugCHICAGO — The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming this weekend and will include an impressive elite field —including several national record holders—who will match strides against Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova, America’s Ryan Hall, and Kenya’s Moses Mosop on the flat and fast streets of Chicago on October 9.

With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games less than a year away, the 34th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon continues to shape up as a pivotal world-class competition for athletes vying for Olympic team berths. This includes an exclusive opportunity for American wheelchair racers to compete for four (top two men and women) automatic qualifying spots for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team.

“This year’s elite field is one of the most internationally diverse and talented that we have ever hosted at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, with the top athletes in the world hailing from six continents—North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia”, said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski.

Bidding for her third straight Bank of America Chicago Marathon title, Shobukhova, the Russian record holder in the marathon, will face perhaps her fiercest competition from Kayoko Fukushi, the Japanese recorder holder in the 3,000 meters (8:44.40), 5,000 meters (14:53.22) and halfmarathon (1:07:26), who will be looking to add the national marathon record to her impressive list of accomplishments. Fukushi, a two-time Olympian, struggled in her highly anticipated marathon debut at Osaka in 2008, but aims to fulfill her marathon promise in her second attempt at the distance.
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Racing — Ryan Hall to Compete at Rock N Roll Virginia Beach

running-advice-bugVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – September 1, 2011 – The original half-marathon of the series that bears its name, the 2011 Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon will look to crown its first American champion since Deena Kastor in 2001 when Olympian Ryan Hall toes the start line on Sunday, September 4.

Hall, 28, won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in New York, finished 10th in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing, and is the only American to break the one hour barrier in the half-marathon (59 minutes, 43 seconds) on a record standard, certified course. He recently finished fourth at the 2011 Boston Marathon (2:04:53), running the fastest marathon time for an American.

“Ryan is a special athlete at the peak of his career, and we’re delighted he’s coming to Virginia Beach this weekend as he prepares for the Chicago Marathon in October,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

Throughout its history, the Virginia Beach event has produced some great champions, including Paul Tergat and Martin Lel. If Hall is to follow in their footsteps, he would have to break the stranglehold of African domination at the race; nine of the ten races to date have seen the champion hail from Kenya. Shadrack Hoff of South Africa crossed the half-marathon finish line first in 2001, the event’s inaugural year.
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Filed under: Marathon Running