09 August 2011

60 and 75 -- A Tale of Things Remaining

Surging toward the finish at 2011 Bozeman Classic 10k
With the calendar now reading 9 August 2011 (how did this happen?), a mere two months remain until the 34th running of the Chicago Marathon. As a number, 60 is a fair amount. Sixty dollars goes pretty far at the grocery store. Sixty minutes is more than enough time for an entire class session (for those thrice weekly Monday, Wednesday, Friday courses). Sixty feet is a descent height for bouldering, free diving, and about the same distance as the 20 yard box on a football pitch. In a runner's world however, 60 represents an all too brief training period (that is, when it is not representing 60 miles -- which is a whole lot of distance in [this] runner's world). Most training regimens for distance running suggest around 5 months (the revered Hal Higdon usually works on an 18 week schedule) weeks to adequately prepare a runner's mind and body for the marathoning experiences.   I think this rather poignantly marks what you might call "crunch time."  With training days vanishing -- only 5 (or perhaps 7 depending upon my scheduling ability) runs over 17 miles remaining -- I am focusing on the quality, speed, and altitude of the training days available.

Don't worry, there's still time to contribute to my charitable endeavors (on behalf of the Chicago Fire Foundation). If you're ready, willing, and able, please take a few moments to visit my fundraising page and make a donation. Since I'm aiming (i.e. contractually obligated) to raise a lofty $1000 (with a hefty $755 remaining [approximately 75% of my total fundraising commitment]), I will greatly appreciate any and all contributions. Don't forget -- every penny helps (no amount is too small [nor is any amount too large]). Click here or click on the Chicago Marathon logo at the top of righthand column to access my fundraising website.

With most of the past month spent in (or en route to) Bozeman, I was fortunate enough to spend some time training at (or above) 5000 feet. About twice as high as my typical training environment in Blacksburg, I am relatively confident that thinner air more than compensated for the diminished weekly mileage. The lung and leg burning elevation not only made for unique training camp of sorts, but also provided a (humbling) pre-marathon test of race fitness. My stay in Bozeman conveniently coincided with (among other things [including the Bite of Bozeman and the Sweet Pea Festival]) the annual running of the Bozeman Classic 10k (for more details about the race check out this article from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle [click here for a batch of photos]).  

Pre-race seriousness
Pre-race excitement.
Who knew that August would be sweatshirt weather in Bozeman?
Check out the new Moby Dick warm up apparel! Geeky chic at its best.
As you can see from the photos, the Bozeman Classic 10k was graced by perfect running weather (pre-race temps in the high 40s/low 50s, slightest breeze, warming sun, and finishing temps around 60). With a nice (albeit surprisingly hilly) course, enthusiastic spectators, and post-race watermelon, oranges, and Great Harvest Bread products, it was a pleasant first Montana race. After chasing some very fit athletes around the streets of downtown Bozeman, I clocked in at 39:48.06 (a respectable 6:25/mile pace) good enough for 24th overall (8th in the 30-39 male category).

Additional incentives to visit Chicago on Sunday, 9 October 2011:

Olympian Ryan Hall to Run the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has announced that U.S. Olympian Ryan Hall will compete in the 34th annual race on October 9, setting up a rematch against fellow sub 2:05 performer Moses Mosop of Kenya. Hall, who recorded a personal best 2:04:58 at the Boston Marathon in April, finishing behind Mosop’s 2:03:06, will match strides against the world’s best runners in Chicago as he begins his run up to the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon. Hall also announced that he will donate any prize money earned in Chicago to his non-profit organization, The Hall Steps Foundation (and here too when the site is repaired), to support anti-poverty programs in East Africa. 
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon presents an invaluable opportunity for Hall, the 10th place finisher at the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing, to compete on a global stage with the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and the London Olympics on the horizon.
Ryan Hall on his way to finishing 4th
at the 2011 Boston Marathon (2:04:58)
photo courtesy of Asics
Ryan Hall on running the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon for charity
"The joy of running for something more than yourself is contagious and totally satisfying, not to mention tremendously motivating in training. I am both excited and honored to take part in a race that realizes that it really is more blessed to give than to receive."
U.S. Women’s Soccer Stars to Lead Charitable Program
Soccer stars Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan who spearheaded the U.S. women’s team to the World Cup final will be part of the race weekend activities at the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The trio will be part of a charity relay team on race day at the October 9 event. 
“The opportunity to partner with Bank of America and the Chicago Marathon is a thrill for us,” said U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. “There’s going to be such a tremendous spirit of camaraderie - from the public and private organizations working together to stage the event to all the athletes and their supporters pursuing a personal best or advancing a community cause. It’s going to be a great weekend.”
Not sure what all the marathon hoopla is all about? Check out this great highlight video from last year's Chicago Marathon for a better picture of the dedication and enthusiasm synonymous with marathoning.

Hope to see everyone cheering from the sidelines as I grit out a (hopefully) respectable time for 26.2 miles.

Please don't forget to take a look at my Chicago Fire Foundation Marathon Fundraising site. Donations are welcome 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until 7:30am on 9 October 2011 (i.e. race day). You can access the fundraising page here or via the link in the righthand column of the blog (just click the Bank of America Chicago Marathon logo).

Montana marathon training also included a day hike on
Hidden Lakes Trail, hovering around the 9000 ft mark