Road Thrill Wins the 194 Mile Florida Ragnar Relay

I’m incredibly proud to have been a member of the excellent Road Thrill team:

Team Road Thrill at the starting line

We won the first Florida Ragnar Relay, 194 miles from Clearwater to Daytona. Our team average 6:51/mile for 22 hours and 13 minutes. The second place team, a men’s team called Legends Plus from Florida College, was more than 39 minutes behind us. We had six men and six women (winning both the open and mixed (men and women) divisions):

Ashley Espy
Jaclyn Solodovnick
Jami Ludwig
Kristine Poyner
Jaclyn Solodovnick
Lindsay Sundell
Melanie Ladenheim

Oscar Boykin
Ed Dunne
Jake Logan
Julio Palma
Alex Phipps
Andrew Robinson

I hope I won’t embarrass my teammates by heaping praise on them, but I witnessed some truly heroic running on their parts during our 22 hours and 13 minutes over those 194 miles. If you know any of these runners, congratulate them and implore them to regale you with tales of running through the night across Florida.

I twittered the event and you can read those twitter posts here. Some of the pictures from the event are on flickr with my Ragnar tag.

All I can say is that this was an other-wordly experience. Running through the night with such support was amazing. Watching that runner come to the exchange (in my case, Julio Palma) and running to get the baton to the next runner (in my case Jami Ludwig) was really inspiring. The team was split into two vans. I was in Van 1 with Jaclyn, Jami, Kristine, Jake and Julio. It took us a couple of exchanges to get the hang of dropping off a runner, cheering them in the middle (and maybe giving water) and then moving into position so the next runner could go. When it was my turn to run, I knew that after the drop off I could expect to hear my team cheering about 10 minutes later, and I knew I wanted to be looking strong when they went driving by.

You can see all the legs on the Ragnar site. I was runner 3. I did 3.6 miles at 6:31/mile, 9.5 at 6:34/mile, then 3.7 at 6:50/mile. I “slept” for about an hour at exchange 12.

Ragnar tried to arrange it so the teams would arrive in a narrow time window. That meant the slowest teams started first, at 8:00am, and the faster teams later. We started with the last group at 2:00pm. It was exciting, because when we started, no one was behind us. We didn’t see many runners, and the exchanges were dirty and used. As we got a few hours in, we started to pick up runners from earlier start groups. That was really exciting to us. By the second and third sets (legs 13-24) we were really starting to pass a lot of runners. Then, it died off. We were fighting Legends Plus for most of the race, but by the start of the third set it looked like pretty much had them thanks to our van 2, which was by far the strongest van in Ragnar. Towards the end, we heard there were only a few teams ahead of us, all of whom started earlier than we did. We started to get ambitious and hoped to not only win overall, but finish before any team. We almost did it, but one team, Steamed Muscles, that started at 11am, finished about 30 minutes before us. They finished third in the mixed division and fifth overall, congratulations to them! We spoke to some of the second place mixed finishers, “12 Hearts, 36 Legs, No Brains – Brandon Runners”, at the start. They were really nice and very encouraging. Congratulations to them as well.

I look forward to next year. Let’s see if we can go under 22 hours!


Completed Week 4 of Marathon Training

This is a small progress report on my marathon training.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I am following the Furman Institute training program. You can download their “First to Finish” marathon training program to see exactly what I am following. I really enjoy having a precise plan. If you are thinking of getting more into running and are not working with a coach or working from a plan, I highly recommend taking a look at one of Furman’s plans. They have 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon plans. Working with a plan is a smart move.

I’ve been able to hold the paces, I’ve felt good, and I’ve been looking forward to the runs. I am making one modification: I’m making my long runs 10% longer than they call for, and I’ll probably do a couple of 24 milers at my peak: week 8 and week 6. I want to be well prepared so I can go hard on race-day.

My main concern is to avoid injury, and in that regard, I think I’m doing well. I have been using the cold therapy pool at my gym after my runs and I believe it helps my muscles and joints recover from each workout.

That’s it. Not much exciting to report. Perhaps the most exciting thing was that I ran 22 miles yesterday, which is 3 miles longer than I had ever run prior. That will be the record for about a month until I get up to 24 miles, which will be the record until I do 26.2.

Week 1 of Marathon Training: 16 weeks until 2:59 Marathon

On December 6, 2008, I’ll run the Memphis St. Jude’s Marathon. This week marks the first official week of my marathon training. I’m following the 16 week program by the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST). This program includes 3 quality runs a week, and then 2-3 days of cross training (swimming and cycling) per week. This plan is covered in their book, Run Less, Run Faster.

I tried to run a marathon once before (Feb 2007). I did not respect the distance and tried it without any serious training. After the halfway mark, I had to stop due to a flare up of illiotibial band syndrome.

This time, I’m following a careful plan and working hard to avoid training errors that could lead to injury. I have a good base. I’ve been doing between 12-17 mile long runs for the last two months. I’m doing resistance training twice a week. After my long runs I use the 50 degree cold pool at the gym to cool my legs.

I try to remind myself that every time I run, I’m running the marathon. The race is not on one day, it is the totality of my training leading up to it. Here’s hoping that everything goes according to plan.
Update: I ran 2:57:18. Woo!

Not yet a sub-5 minute miler.

Not wanting to fall into the trap of only reporting success and never failure, I thought I should report that I failed to run one mile in less than 5 minutes at the track meet.  You can find the results at the FTC website. I did 5:11 for the mile, and then I did a “cool down” 2 miler (which was more of a tempo pace) at 12:25.

I want to thank Brian Menaker. He’s much faster than me, but he paced me for the race. I didn’t make my goal, but I really appreciate his help in my attempt.

My plan is to try again about once a month until I hit it. I’m going to try a new training method: run 6 x 1000m repeats at 5:00/mile pace. Any training or racing suggestions would be appreciated.

Breaking a Barrier: 5K in 18:06

On June 14th I ran a 5K in 18:06, which meant I finally broke a goal I had for most of the year of breaking 18:10. Below you see a picture of Jake Logan and myself after the race:

A Pair of Pies and PRs

This race was the 2008 Run for the Pies in Jacksonville, FL. I had tried several times this year to break 18:10 and failed. I did 18:23, 18:31, 18:49, 19:01. I was getting slower and starting to worry I would not ever make the goal. I was probably racing too much.

When I was doing the Run for the Pies, I felt good. I was very optimistic that I could make the goal. About 2/3rd the way through the race I started to have my doubts, but I was able to quickly let go of them and just run. I remember turning the last corner, maybe 1/10th of a mile from the finish and running hard. I could barely see the LED clock in the distance and it read 17:30 or so. I knew if I pushed hard I could make it, so I gave it everything I had. When I went through the chute, as goofy as it sounds, I put up my arms like I had won the race. It was the first time I was ever completely satisfied with a run. I knew how hard I had worked, and how many times I had failed to run 18:10. Breaking 18:10 put everything right with the world. On top of that, since I ran less than 20 minutes, I won a delicious apple pie (my favorite!) and I came in 4th (out of 69) in Men’s 30-34, 22nd overall Men’s (out of more than 600).

Of course, such satisfaction is short lived. We must go on to other goals. In my case, I have two: on 8/1/08 I’m going to run a mile in 4:59 or less at a track meet in Gainesville; on 12/6/08 I’m going to run the St. Jude’s Marathon in 2:59:59 or less.

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him

Motion Capture

On April 9, I went to the UF Sports Performance Center to do a 3-D analysis of my running. You can see a picture above of me on the treadmill. What we did was have me run at an easy pace and record my running, then I did 8 intervals of 2 minutes at 5:30/mile followed by 2 minutes at 8:00/mile. They took one measurement of me at the 5:30 pace. Then, after I was nice and tired, they took another measurement at an easy pace to see how my form degraded with fatigue. The white dots in the above photo are the balls they glued to me so the cameras could capture my movement. There is a photo of the software screen below (click on it to see a slightly better image):

Stick Figure Me

The point of all this was to see if there was something in my form causing the intermittent knee and piriformis pain I’ve been feeling lately. They turned up something interesting on the first analysis. When I toe-off on the right, I twist my right foot out, almost completely parallel to the ground. This motion activates my piriformis and puts a torque on the knee, and it is almost certainly wasted energy. You can see a bit of it in the following two pictures:

Finishing Gate River Run
Crossing the finish line

I’ve been practicing that motion and focusing on keeping my foot straight. It seems to be helping. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they learn when they look at all the angles my body makes as I run. Hopefully this will suggest some areas I need to strengthen or make more flexible. Additionally, there might be some specific exercises or drills I can do to improve my form.

Recent Race Report

I haven’t blogged about any races recently, mostly because I haven’t had any personal records set recently.  But every performance can’t be my best yet.  So, here’s a quick rundown:

Five Points of Life 5K, 2/23/2008

I did 19:11, 10th place overall, 1st place 30-34.  The full results are online.  Richard Ritari took several pictures: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7,8].

Gate River Run 15K, Jacksonville, FL, 3/8/2008

This race was the 15K championship.  It was a very exciting race.  There were 12,087 finishers, 818 in men in my age group.  The wind was insane that day, there were gusts of up to 30 mph (I heard).  I came in 282nd overall (out of 12,087), and 37th in my age group (out of 818) with a time of 64:22.  Unfortunately, I ran a little injured that day and I had to stop to walk three times.  Since then, I’ve limited my mileage and I finally think I’m recovering properly.  The full results are online. Interestingly, I was the only runner with the last name Boykin. You can see some pictures of me by clicking here.

Trigator 2008 Sprint Triathlon (250 m swim, 8 mile bike, 2 mile run) 3/30/08

This was my first triathlon.  It was fun.  It was the furthest I’d ever swam without stopping, the third time I was on a road bike, and the first time I used clip-in pedals.  My time was 34:02. Triathlons are really different from a running race because of the transitions. Switching from one sport to another is just strange. Your brain switches gears. You have to put on shoes, grab a bike, take of helmets, put on a race number, all sorts of little things. It’s frenetic.

Equal Access Clinic 5K Run, 4/5/2008

This race was unfortunately a bit messed up.  First of all, while in second place, I saw the first place runner directed the wrong way, or so I thought.  When I got to that point, I went the way I thought was correct, but I was not 100% sure.  In any case, I was taking a different course so already the race was messed up.  Later in the race, due to my GPS, I was pretty sure the course was short, and that must have meant I went the wrong way.  Finally, it turned out that I went the right way and the race official had misdirected the lead runner (Julio Palma), but the course was maybe 0.15 miles short.  Since I thought I had messed up, and didn’t want to appear to have cheated, I first would not cross the line.  After talking for a few seconds, I eventually did go through the finish.  Julio Palma deserved to win the race.  I’m sorry if I was a part of any of the confusion.  According to the FTC time, I finished at 18:13 in second place, but the race time is pretty meaningless.  I speant the last quarter mile worried I was cheating and I stopped running about 40 feet short of the finish to explain the problem.  Lastly, even if I had run all the way, the course was short so the time wouldn’t be meaningful.