Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If You're Not First, You're Last

I am a very competitive person.  I always have been.  I struggle with the thought that this is still a good quality to have.  It is helpful in my professional life as I work to be the best at what I do.  But I actually take it a step further.  Not only do I want to do my very best, but I want to be better than the guy/girl that did the work before me.  All in all I don't think it is a bad thing, as the result is that I usually elevate the performance of wherever I am working.

However, when it comes to my personal life, I am not so sure that the competitive bug is a good thing.  Example: When I was in high school I played in the Western Big 6 athletic conference.  To this day, if anyone tells me they are from Quincy, I have an inclination to dislike them.  When I hear the name Brian Moline, a reporter on the local radio station, I cringe a bit because of his last name.  And when I read about my daughter's birthday party on my wife's blog and saw the name "Treasure Rock Island" my stomach turned a little.

I race innocent girls on the streets over my lunch hour and I challenge Olympic athletes to half marathon races.  Sure my ultimate goal is to do my very best personally, but my best work in a race is done when I am chasing somebody down from behind. Competition helps to keep me sharp, but is it really a value I want to display and possibly have my own children emulate?

I don't know the answer.  I am asking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bubba's 1st 5k

After Katie and I ran in the Kirby Derby last year, our son said that next year he wanted to run the 5k.  I was a little leery of the idea.  I didn't know if he understood the commitment that it would take to run that far.  We suggested that he could run part of the race with us and he said, "No, I want to run the whole thing."  We told him that it would require a lot of work and effort; that he would have to train to run that far.  And over the entire Fall and into this Spring he has stuck with the training, running several training runs and calculating his total miles.  A couple of times, on really hot days or lengthy runs, he would really struggle and I began to wonder if it was healthy to have a 6 year old running 3.1 miles.  But he stuck with the training and often talked the race.  Finally last Saturday, Bubba ran his very first 5k!

We had t-shirts made for the event.  the whole family was going to participate in support of Bubba.

 You can see that he was really excited, to have his own shirt, his own number, and to be racing his very first 5k!

There was quite a crowd at the starting line.  The race had a record 770 participants in the 5and 10K races.

All sorts of family and friends came out to cheer Bubba on in his race. 

The grandparents...

The Morrison's...

...and the Haas' (Ian was so proud that he ask his parents to help make a sign for Alaric!)

Bubba's first mile went so incredibly great!  he had never run a full mile without having to stop for a walking break, but not today!  We crossed the 1 mile marker at 12:35!!!  Bubba was flying and he even ran a little further to the first water station before taking his first break.  We walked for a couple of blocks and were back to running.  By the time we reached the high school he was asking for another break.  We had worked out an agreement that every time we stopped for a break we would establish 3 distance goals before we would stop.  he cleared his three goals and we began to walk again.  We were still making great time.

Then bubba asked if he could use the restrooms.  Because there were no toilets on the route we told him he was going to have to try and hold it.  We realized that we would be running right by a public park that had a restroom and he could stop and go there.  A couple of blocks up, Bubba and I ran to the restroom at Nick's Park.  I told him to use the toilet and while I was there I would use he urinal.  Bubba put the seat down on the toilet and I asked "What are you doing?"  "I have to poop!" he exclaims.  Is this kid just like his father or what?!

Bubba finished his business and we were back on the road.  Bubba kept pushing hard but you could see he was starting to wear out.  We took another couple of breaks and headed for the homestretch.  As soon as we started running Bubba saw his karate Sensai on the roadside cheering him on.  It gave Bubba an extra pep in his stride. 
Finally we turned the corner to the finish and Alaric turned on the afterburners and cruised over the line!

He finished in 46:32; just a shade over 15 minute per mile.  Considering that we had to stop for several minutes during the bathroom break, I am certain that he ran much faster than that!

Here he is with his finisher's medal!  He was very proud and we could not have been prouder for him!  Good work, Bubba! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cat and Mouse

After pushing pretty hard for the Marathon Relay and keeping with a tough week of workouts following, my 12 mile training run on Saturday was very physically taxing.  So, when I left for my lunch time run on Monday, I thought I would take it pretty easy and treat it like more of a recovery run.  When I started the run my legs were still tight, but the quickly began to loosen up in the first quarter mile or so. 

Right about that same time another runner, a female, entered onto my route.  Every time I come across another runner, I spend a significant amount of time evaluating their form and pace.  I also take note of what they are wearing as far as clothes and gear, i.e. HR monitor, GPS, iPod, etc.  There was nothing extraordinary about this particular runner, white shirt (non-tech), orange running shorts, no watch.  Her form was good, but she didn't "look" like a runner.  She was short, medium build.  The most critical thing that I noticed was that her pace was faster than mine!  I tried not to worry about it.

"You're not racing, Brian.  You are recovering."

"So what if it's a girl.  There are plenty of girls out there that are faster than you."

"Stick to the plan."

As she began to pull away, I could actually feel my pride draining away.  My shoulders hung and my head dropped.

"It doesn't matter.  You are not racing.  You're just out for a nice, easy run."

By the time she got a full block and a half ahead of me, I was taking stock.  I was a half mile into a 3 mile run.  My legs had loosened up, and my lungs felt great.

"Fuck it.  Let's race."

I opened it up right away, and within 2 more blocks I was within striking distance.  Then, unfortunately for her, she got caught up at a red light.  As she waited for the walk sign, I am pretty sure she turned and saw that I was coming, but if she did she gave no real indication of taking notice.  I was within 30 feet of her when she was finally able to cross the street.  Not having to break my own stride, I made up the ground quickly.

The dilemma of passing was a real threat now.  I could pace behind her a few feet, but I always feel a little "stalker-ish" when I do that to a anyone, let alone a woman.  I could pass her, but sometimes I feel a little "dick-ish" when I do that in a non-race format.  Then I considered that I had just spent the last half mile "racing" this girl down Lincoln Ave., and I decided that I would go ahead and pass.

I pulled to the left and began to make my move.  As soon as I reach her blind spot, she gave a little glance over her shoulder and she took off!

"Oh, I see we have another competetor on our hands!  That's fine."

I tucked back in behind her, encouraged by this little match of wits.  I stayed a couple more feet behind her and looked for my next opportunity.  As we approached the next stoplight, I saw my break.  having run this route 3 times a week for the last several weeks, I have become familiar with the timing of the lights and traffic.  I knew that the walk sign would be on just as we were to get to the crosswalk.  So, she probably slowed a little out of concern for her safety, and I opened it up again, veered to the left, and passed her a couple of feet before entering the street.  I know its petty and I know that I took advantage of 2 stoplights to catch her, but a little smile came across my face as soon as I passed her.

Now, I don't know if she stayed straight, turned left/right, or stopped completely because as I turned right and headed down Kirby, I told myself to never look back.  The last thing that I wanted this girl to know, if she did go the same way as me, was that I was racing her and I was deeply concerned about her turning around and passing me!

When I finally reached 4th Street, I glanced back and the girl was nowher to be found.  She probably stayed straight at Kirby and headed out to Windsor for a long ass run, but what I would like to think is that she was so awed by my superior racing abilites during our little cat and mouse that she no longer wanted to run on the same path as me. 

Is it any wonder why I run by myself most days?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Illinois Marathon Relay 2012

 Once again, I participated in this year's Illinois Marathon Relay.  Originally, we had tried to bully my 18 year old cousin into running with Katie, my sister, and me.  Therefore, we came up wit the name Flatheads, an term of endearment for our grandpa.  When my cousin bowed out due to Senior obligations, we recruited or friend Lara to complete our team.

Lack of time and commitment to other obligations made training pretty tough for most of the team.  Katie probably prepared the most, but her feet have been giving her enough trouble that even the most prepared were having concerns.

I ran the first leg of the race and my whole goal was to do better than I did last year.  I had held back on a few recent runs just to be a little more fresh when it came to this race, but not enough to endanger my half marathon training for June.  As soon as the race stared I felt great.  The weather was cool and cloudy which turned out to be perfect weather for a really good race.  I started well back of the pack because our corral position was based on our predicted finish time, 4:20 or about 10 minutes/mile, but I run much faster than that and therefore got caught behind the crowd.  I did a few nifty maneuvers and managed to work my way through the crowd, while still maintaining a good pace.  As the mile ticked by I was running a pretty regular 7:30/mile.  I was feeling good and I was concerned that pace would not beat my lasts year's time.  So I picked it up a bit for the last couple of miles and finished my leg, 6.7 miles, in 50:01.  I felt like it was a great run.

I handed off to Lara,  who was joined by her husband Phil.  Lara had some concerns about her abilities to complete her leg, so Phil ran with her as moral and, if needed medical, support.  Lara ran past her parent's house where her son was cheering them on. Phil grabbed a hot dog.  Lara claims to have struggled a bit with a few aches and pains, but she completed her 6.9 mile leg in just about 1:10!  Right on schedule.  Note: Phil ambushed the remainder of the race with a couple of other friends!  No recent training to speak of and he ran about 20 miles on a whim!

Next came Katie.  She had the good fortune of running past her parent's house and they made a great sign for her and recruited the rest of the spectators to cheer her on as she passed!  A couple of miles later, Katie passed by her brother and nephew, who were out cheering her on.  There was also the offer of beer from a neighbor, which she bravely passed up.  Her feet held up great and she completed her 6.9 mile leg in about 1:11!  by this point we were ahead of our predicted time!

For the Final leg we handed it off to my sister, Anita, to bring us home!  Anita's job had kept her from thorough training, but she had recently completed the Shamrock Shuffle in preparation.  She was not nearly as nervous as last year, and her performance proved it.  She only stopped to walk one time on the only hill of the entire course, and met us at our designated meeting place right on schedule!  We all joined up and ran across the finish line in Memorial Stadium as a team.  We finished in 4:11:34.  We were 26th of 65 teams in our division and 97 of 202 overall relay teams.  I think we kicked ass!

We had a lot of support along the way.  Besides Katie's family on the course and Phil's assistance in the race, my parent's and our kids came to the stadium to cheer us on.
Anita's friend Betsy was also huge support!  She ran the half marathon in the race, lined up with me at the start, and came back out to join our triumphant run across the finish line!  i am trying to get Betsy to be my marathon partner for next year, but she seems a bit hesitant. And let's face it, I am pretty hesitant myself!

In my typical fashion, I attempted to incorporate alcohol into the event.  You can see from our shirts that the intent was there.

Mission completed!