Monday, January 28, 2013

Missoula Running - Yes, It Is A Zoo

The March edition of TrailRunner magazine hit subscribers and newsstands early last week.  And, inside is a great 7 page article by Rachel Toor on Missoula's position as a primo running community.  [There's also a nice profile and Q&A piece on Missoula's Mike Foote.  (You can see the Buzzard's own profile of Footie at]  Rachel lived in Missoula several years ago; and, is intimately familiar with the local runners, trails, haunts and hangouts.  She's also an excellent writer and was a perfect choice to put together a piece on Zootown.  And, I couldn't agree more with her assessment of the town that's just "up the river" from the Muddy Buzzard's roost.

Missoula is not a perfect place.  They're currently in the winter period that can see some inversions and marginal air quality.  There are the social-cultural battles between the newer, college-town, liberal ideas and the traditional, conservative, timber/ranching/agriculture positions.  There's a surprisingly large homeless population.  The economy is still struggling to come out of the Great Recession.

At the same time, from an active, healthy, fit, lifestyle perspective - it's a great place to be.  Trails.  Water.  Mountains.  Wildlife.  Winter Snow.  Running.  Biking.  Skiing.  Paddling.  Hiking.  Hunting.  Fishing.  Camping.  It's all-right there out your front door (or back door as the case may be).  And, trust me - if you want to engage in any of those endeavors, there are plenty of like minded people to share in your adventures.  But, since the Buzzard is all about running - let's get back to the points addressed in the TrailRunner article.

Long-story-short, Missoula has an incredible running community.  A community that has really come together since the opening of The Runner's Edge in 2001.  In many ways due to the vision and energy of store owner Anders Brooker, the disjointed bands of local runners began to come together and have shown the ability to do great things.  Cases in point:  Run Wild Missoula is 1,500 members strong and hosts more than a dozen local running events.  The Missoula Marathon is a first class event  and creates an energy around itself that is unrivaled in Montana.  Runner's Edge and Run Wild cooperate to host numerous classes, workouts, educational sessions and speaker events.  Boston and Missoula Marathon training classes are a yearly staple.  Back Of The Pack and Galloway training groups have been developed to make sure that all levels of runner are supported and encouraged.  Monthly pub runs provide a fun, social opportunity.

But, most importantly is the support of and by the running community.  Hundreds turn out for speakers like Scott Jurek and Micah True.  Volunteers turn out in droves for major events like the Missoula Marathon, Mountain West Classic and Roots Festival 4-Mile.  Run Wild Missoula returns tens of thousands of dollars to Youth and Community Health & Wellness programs.  Having been around this environment for over 5 years now, I can honestly state that it is perhaps the healthiest, strongest running community in the Inland Northwest.  Seriously - although population dictates smaller numbers, Missoula is on par with better known running environments like Boulder, Eugene, Madison, Portland, etc.

With all that it has going for it, you would think that Missoula would be ripe to also have a powerhouse collegiate distance program.  Great roads and trails for training.  Reasonably cool in the summer and generally mild winters.  A dash of altitude - with higher elevation training a short distance away.  An NCAA Division 1 university right in the heart of the city - a university that is has some well established and successful academic programs.  And, as we've established - a large, organized and supportive running community.  One that would appear to be primed and ready to jump on board with a top level NCAA distance program (from all ends - volunteers, recruiting, financially).

And, in the past they've have, in fact, seen some success.  With runners like Tom Raunig, Dave Gordon, Dave Morris, Anthony Ford, Scott McGowan, Shelley Smathers and Katrina Drennan.  But, those days are now just a distant memory.  What we are now left with is a dysfunctional program that appears to be in tatters.

It seemed to really fall apart about the time that the school decided to part ways with Tom Raunig in 2007.  Tom was a passionate, knowledgeable and well-versed coach.  Sure, he had his shortcomings (like we all do); but, as a Grizzly alum, he was fully committed to the program.  The primary problem is that the school wasn't (and still isn't).  Coaching salary was (and is) an issue.  Program funding was (and is) an issue.  Lack of facilities (i.e. indoor track) was (and is) an issue.  Ultimately, Tom got to the point where he recognized that things were unlikely to get better in the short-term; and, decided that he had enough.  He left the school and took a teaching position at the University of Great Falls.  (The whole situation left such a bad taste in his mouth that Tom has not returned to coaching.)

Then began the process of finding his replacement as head XC coach and track's distance coach.  They screwed around and screwed around and got to the process way too late in the game.  Multiple people were interviewed (several of them very qualified) - but, between the poor salary and the lag in making a decision, they all declined offers, withdrew from consideration or took positions elsewhere.  That left them with no XC coach as they started to roll into summer.  Through some more ministrations, with sub-plots that are too detailed to go into here, they ultimately offered the job to Courtney Babcock (who accepted the position).

Courtney was an elite athlete, having represented her home nation of Canada at the Olympics, World Track Championships and World XC Championships.  By all appearances, she appears to have a good knowledge of training methodology; but, she had not previously been a coach (and certainly not at the Division 1 collegiate level).  However, she was a local (living and training in Missoula as part of the Mountain West club); she was available; and, she was a convenient solution to a messy situation.  So, UM took the easy way out and set the table to be able to continue to under-fund and under-support the XC and track programs.  (And, in retrospect - probably did not give Courtney the tools or resources to be successful.)

By all accounts, Courtney appeared to be well-received by the kids; and, seems to be competent in her training and hands-on coaching methods.  I can tell you that she is very well liked in the larger Missoula running community.  She is active in many Run Wild Missoula and Runner's Edge events - including coaching Tuesday night track workouts.  She continues to compete on occasion.  She is a nice and pleasant woman.

But, as with us all, she had some weaknesses.  One appeared to be on the administrative side (which, I can tell you from personal experience is a challenge).  And, she appeared to be especially weak on the recruiting side.  As Raunig's last recruiting class worked their way though and out of the program, the team and individual performance quality began to slip.  This slippage had created a bit of a tenuous situation with regards to Courtney's position.

Because of this, reports have it that a successful local high school coach had been approached to assist Courtney with the XC and distance program (to replace Phil Keller - who departed to coach XC in New Mexico).  Courtney's goal was to create a coaching team that could restore the university's program to respectability.  Just a short couple of weeks ago, everything seemed to be falling into place for the program to begin a new, positive, upward climb.

And, then,within the last week - it all just unravelled.  Although not publicly released yet (to my knowledge), word has it that Courtney's coaching contract is not being renewed by the university.  The suggestion has been that the program will not hire a true head XC coach.  Rather, they'll make it an assistant coaching position (XC and distance track) under the Director of T&F.  And, there appears to be no long range plan for any real, significant changes to the funding and/or support of the XC or T&F programs.  There also appears to be no word on what, if any, process will take place to replace this vacancy.  Rather, there has been some rumor that it may be simply be rolled into the responsibilities of the existing middle-distance track coach.  The end result - a head coach out of a job; a prospective assistant coach who stayed with his high school program; and, a program in turmoil and headed towards mediocrity.  A true lose-lose-lose situation.  And, a pretty clear message that UM is not really interested in XC or distance track being a priority.

And, while this is all going on, UM released their report of the academic performance of the athletics programs for the 2012 fall semester.  Highest team for average and credit-hours per student?  The women's XC team.  The men's XC team and both the track teams had averages above 3.00.  So, here you have a group of true student-athletes.  Kids that don't get in trouble.  Kids that do nothing but earn an education and bring pride and honor to the university.  And, what do they get in return - they get marginal funding, inadequate support and dysfunctional programs.  Clearly, the school is not that interested in athletic program development outside of the football and basketball programs.

And, you know, I'm a realist.  I know that FB and BB are the honey-holes for high school, collegiate and pro sports.  I know that's where the bulk of the resources will go.  Hell, even at Oregon, football is much, much, much bigger than XC or track.  But, that doesn't mean that the rest of the sports should get nothing but lip service and be included at the school for no other reason than to satisfy NCAA Division 1 regulations and eligibility criteria.  As I've already said, the elements are all present for UM to have a first class, nationally competitive XC and distance track program.  Boulder (Colorado) does it.  Eugene (Oregon) does it.  Madison (Wisconsin) does it.  So do Stanford, Arkansas, Michigan and Oklahoma State.  Within the Big Sky Conference, Northern Arizona has been able to do it.  So, I ask - why not Montana?

I can tell you, it definitely won't happen if the community (Missoula and beyond) just let's things continue as status quo.  There needs to be some pressure applied to the university administrative and athletics departments know that we expect and deserve something more.  Something better.  Something great.

Now, I know that there are bigger problems facing our nation, state and city.  But, I honestly believe that athletics can be a valuable part of the high school and college educational process.  Lessons in hard work, team building, overcoming adversity, goal setting and time management all come into play.  And, with adequate support, you can learn what it's like to work to achieve excellence.  Priceless lesson all.  And, I obviously have a passion for this sport and have personally seen all of these lessons at play.  That's why I took the time to put his down in writing.  Seeing great opportunities being tossed away was just too frustrating and I had to share my thoughts.

So, if you believe that the the student-athletes in the Montana XC and distance programs deserve something more - let your voices be heard.  Be civil.  Be polite.  Be reasonable.  Be honest.  But.........Be Heard.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Closing The Door On Austin

So, just about a week has gone by since the Austin 3M Half Marathon; and, I've had some time to collect my thoughts a little bit.  I was really pleased with the race.................And, that's what is was for me.  For the 1st time in at least 2 1/2 years I truly raced.

When I was diagnosed with my cardiomyopathy; and, with my subsequent internal defibrillator implant, I knew that I was never going to be at the same competitive level that I was up through 2008 (see "The Buzzard's Wings Are Clipped" at  But, as things have progressed a bit with my "situation"; and, I've been able to get a better feel for how my body functions in my new reality - I've come to realize that I can still satisfy my competitive cravings.

Here's some of the things that I've found:
  • My pace at all efforts (easy runs, tempo, intervals, racing) is anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds slower than what it was in 2007 & 2008.
  • The medicines I take have reduced my max heart rate to somewhere on the order of 150 bpm - probably 20 to 25 bpm lower than 2007 & 2008.
  • I struggle at shorter events/distances and faster paces.
  • I really struggle on uphills.  The low max HR and the reduced cardiac ejection fraction really do a number with my ability to overcome gravity.
  •  I seem to be able to stay pretty comfortable at or near my aerobic threshold (i.e. tempo) pace for an extended period.
  •  I still seem to have a pretty good sense of pace.
  • It takes me a while to get "into" a hard effort and to find my rhythm.  But, once I'm there I seem to be able to find a groove keep a good, consistent effort.
In the end, I was able to take all these things into consideration and put together a decent run in Austin.  And, it told me that I can still partake in races - especially at some of the longer distances.

That being said, I still have to accept that I'm not competitive - at least at the level that I'm accustomed to.  In 2004, I won Snow Joke in 1:13+ and I placed 6th in the master's division at Boston.  In 2007 I was 15th in the Master's division of the USATF XC Nationals in Boulder, CO.  Even in 2010 (prior to my official diagnosis and being put on meds), I ran a 1:20 Half Marathon in Billings off limited training.  So, lacking the cardiomyopathy and related med issues, I still believe that I could run 1:18 or faster for a half marathon - even at 50 years old.

But, that's not where I'm at.   So, I need to accept this new reality. At the same time, I've found that I can train to maximize my current physiological position and get the best possible performance out of myself.  It should make for an interesting experiment.

In the meantime, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, January 13, 2013

'Twas A Good Day

Up at 4:30 a.m. to get a little fuel and be prepped for the 6:45 a.m. start of the Austin 3M Half-Marathon.  Slept pretty good last night - which is a little abnormal for me on the night before a race.  As predicted, the winds shifted during the night (from South to North) and the temps dropped (from 71 degrees at 7:00 p.m. to 40 degrees at race time.  And, the winds were a blowin'  - 10 to 15 mph with gusts in the 20 mph range.  But, on the upside - it meant a tailwind for about 75% of the race.

At 40 degrees and a 32 - 33 degree windchill, it was a bit chilly at the start (outside of Snow Joke, definitely the coldest of any of the full or half marathons that I've done).  But, I had brought plenty of stuff to be prepared for any weather conditions - sometimes being an anal retentive geeky engineer type actually pays off :-).  The one thing that was a bit disconcerting to me was the darkness - it's the first time that I've ever started a race before the sun came up.  With 6,000 new friends at the start line however, it was just a matter of following the crowd and watching the feet and bodies within my 10' circle for the first couple of miles.

I lined up just behind the 1:30 pace group.  I had two goals:  the first was to hit the NYC qual. time for guaranteed entry for 50-54, which was 1:29:00 (6:47 pace).  The "stretch" goal was to hit 6:40 pace - which comes out to 1:27:24.  But, from my training block, I knew that I needed to be smart in how I got out.  So, figured going for the first mile or two with the 1:30 group (6:51 pace) would let me get into a good rhythm and keep me under control.

The pacer was great, he was right on at the mile (6:56 gun time, about 6:50 chip time).  But, there was some doorknob running alongside the pacer who just would not shut up.  The guy was annoying the crap out of me - so, at about 2K I move up just a bit to connect to a small group.  The next 2 miles were right on NYC pace - 6:45 and 6:46.

By this point, I was getting a bit warmer and had gotten into a decent rhythm.  But, I was a little afraid of getting too comfy in the 6:45 to 6:50 range; and, didn't want to be cutting things too close to the 1:29 finish.  So, decided to start moving up through the string of runners ahead of me.  Hit the 4th mile with 6:41 split and felt good.

That's when I really got into a rhythm and found my groove.  Mile 5 was 6:28; and, then I ticked off a the next 6 miles between 6:24 and 6:38.  All the while I felt controlled and within myself.  The whole time I just kept picking off people.  Off and on was hooked up with a local guy from miles 6 to 11.

By 11, I was starting to feel the effort.  Not at risk of blowing up; but, the late race fatigue was setting in; and, my right hamstring and pirifromas were both getting a bit tender.  But, by this point all I had to do was finish the last 2.1 miles in 16:00 - wasn't worried that I could hit that.

But, at about 11.5, we came around a bend in the road by the football stadium at the University of Texas and there were 2 decent hills staring at me.  Neither was terribly long (maybe each was 1.5 to 2 blocks long) or steep (maybe like going up a street overpass above a highway or railroad).  But, as I said, by this point the fatigue was getting to me.  And, perhaps the biggest thing that I've notice with my cardiomyopathy and the meds is that I tend to struggle on the hills.

I didn't give in though.  Doing just like I tell my XC kids - I didn't worry about pace so much, I just tried to keep the effort consistent.  And, it worked.  It got me through the 12th mile with a 6:46 split.  Then we turned a corner and there as one last hill looming ahead.  Again, just focused on effort and getting over the top.  Had some downhill until just a bit before 13 (which was a 6:45 split), then a bit of climb into the finish.  As I hit the 13 mile marker, I could see by my watch that I was not just going to hit my goal of 6:40 pace (1:27:24); but, had a shot at sub-1:27.  So, kept the effort strong for the last 200 meters and hit the line at 1:26:50.  I gotta say - it was a good feeling.

But, it was cold and super windy in the finish area (glad I wasn't working the race today).  So, I quickly grabbed my gear bag, put on some dry clothes, got a banana and some water and got on the bus back to the start area (and, luckily my hotel was within a block of the start).

A bit later, checked on the race results and saw that my chip time was 1:26:40, I was 114th overall and 3rd in 50 - 54.  (Tim Mosbacher - I wasn't wearing my GPS watch, so don't know if the Houston time warp extended to Austin :-) )  That comes out to a 6:36.7 per mile.  Hit 10K at 41:30 (6:40.6) and my last 6.89 miles were at 6:33 pace.  So, a nice little negative split.

Yeah, I know that it's a net downhill.  And, there was a good tailwind for much of the race.  But, I don't care.  After my last 2 + years I'm damn proud of this performance.  Hit all of my time and performance goals.  Physically felt good................muscularly and cardiac wise.  I'm just really pleased with the day.  It's been a long time since I've felt this good about a race.................guess I was finally due.

Now then, the only dark cloud.  Went onto the ING New York City Marathon site later in the morning.  They are still in a bit of chaos after cancelling the 2012 race.  As it stands right now, they have guaranteed entry to all the 2012 entrants (subject to full entry fee) for the 2013, 2014 or 2015 full marathons or the 2013 NYC half marathon.  They also have guaranteed entry for NY Road Runner Club members who meet certain criteria and runners who have finished 15 consecutive marathons.  The deadline for the 2012 entrants to make their decision is January 25th.  They'll then see how many runners choose to apply for the 2013 event.  From there, they'll decide how to handle entry options for runners (like me) who have met their qualifying time criteria.

So, there is the potential that there won't be a slot for me in 2013.  Guess I'll just have to wait it out and see what happens.  But, I'm going to hope for the best; and, in the end, I'm sure that things will take care of themselves. 

I'll have some good food tonight and a couple of beers and enjoy the feeling of a good run.  Then I'll figure out what comes next.  But, in the meantime.......................

I'll see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Austin Eve

Easy day on tap for today.  Slept in a bit (all the way to 7:20 a.m. - WoooHoooo).  Ate some breakfast, then hung out reading for a while.  Out for an easy 20 minutes to tour the first mile or so of the course.

Mostly hanging out the rest of the day reading, watching some football and mostly staying off my feet.  Will be going to lunch with my cousin Bo and his family. (Amazing how small our world is - come all the way to Austin for a race and am still able to hook up with family.  And, if I had chosen to go to Houston for their half - would have been able to connect with my sister who is working in the area.)

Weather is looking like it could be mostly good.  It's been warm and wet here for the last couple of days.  Low 70's and humid.  It was 69 and 95% when I ran at 10:00 a.m.  But, the forecast calls for a cold front to come in late today - that will bring race time temps to perhaps high 30's or low 40's (people here are already freaking out about how cold they thing it will be).  [I'd like it to be about 10 degrees warmer; but, I brought clothes to be prepared for most anything.]  And, there's a forecast for a fairly healthy wind of 10 - 15 mph.  But, it is predicted to be a tailwind - lets hope.  Net downhill with a tailwind - what more can you ask for!!!!

Part of my day will also be about trying to focus on the task at hand and being prepared to race.  Which is something that I haven't really done for more than 2 years.  I think that the last race that I really focused on was the 2010 Bloomsday.  It wasn't too long after that when I got my cardiomyopathy diagnosis and that kind of changed the ball game for a while.  For quite a while, wasn't quite sure what it would mean to my ability to race.

On top of that, I had a couple of very busy years with coaching the Plains HS XC and track teams.   And, at a couple of bigger events I was doing some race announcing.   All combined, that took my focus away from my own competitions.  I raced a bit; but, not much.  In 2012 I only raced twice - Wulfman and Montana Cup.  2011 was pretty similar. 

But, it's been a while since I laid out an extended training plan and focused on a particular race with a specific goal.  Clearly the race is the 3M Half Marathon in Austin, TX and the goal (as I've posted about before) is to meet the guaranteed entry time for the ING New York City Marathon.  That goal (for 50 - 54 age group) is 1:29:00 - 6:47/mile pace.  With my cardiomyopathy and the meds that I'm on - that's kind of now on the edge of my range.  So, things will need to be "on" for me to hit my mark.

Part of that is then going to have to be the component of mental focus.  Quite frankly, I think that it's the toughest part of the sport.  It's not easy to have the mental fortitude to keep pushing when the effort gets hard.  To convince your body that it can, in fact, keep this pace.  That you can get the next guy ahead of you.  But, it's a key component of racing.  And, it's been a long time since I've had to channel this mental energy.  So, I've been working to get myself focused and ready to take on this task.

Some specific music and some quiet time and I'll do my best to put on this last finishing touch. 

It's almost go time.

Until then, see you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, January 11, 2013

Austin - The Trip Begins

First day of the Austin 3M Half Marathon adventure.  Well, that's note entirely true.  It actually started last night when I headed into Missoula for the night.  And, I'm glad I did.  Pretty solid snow storm came in and the roads were not good.  With an early morning flight, glad I didn't have to the brave the icey roads in the dark.

Plus, that gave me a chance to stop by and get my first look at the new Runner's Edge location.  The store looks great.  Anders and the crew did a great job with the space.  It's a first rate retail set-up; and, they've done a fantastic job of layout, finishes, product display.  Just a great store.  They should be very proud.

Then, to top off the evening, was able to spend some time hanging out with Anders and Meg Brooker, Mike Foote and Tyson Warner at Sean Kelley's.  Good people, lots of laughs, stories galore.  Pretty good way to kick off the extended weekend.

Typical long day of travel today. To the Missoula airport by about 5:30 a.m., then didn’t get to Austin until about 1:30 Mountain Time (2:30 Central Time).  But, had a quick trip to the expo hotel to get my packet.  [Side note:  this is a fairly good sized race - 6,000+.  But, it's relatively low key.  Probably less than 20 vendors at the expo; and, it was a lot of "fringe" products - sunglasses, start up energy bars, probiotic drinks and the like.  But, that wasn't big on my agenda for this race anyway; so, no worries.]
Then, to my hotel (which is within about 200 meters of the start line) and a quick run of 20 minutes or so (plus some dynamic flexibility work).  A bit warm and humid today - 68 degrees; but, that felt good after leaving Missoula in the snow and 17 degrees.
Went out and picked up some supplies and pizza for dinner - then back to the hotel for some internet, blogging, TV and getting the feet up.

The last 10 days or so have gone pretty well.  Had a couple of lower volume quality sessions.  Over the years I’ve become a believer in the physiology behind the taper.  Reduce mileage to allow the body to recover from the stress induced by training.  But, still need to maintain some level of quality effort to maintain muscle memory and neuro-muscular patterns.  I’m also a big believer that you need to retain the sense of pace for your goal effort – I really like being able to dial into the “feeling” of the effort at race pace.  To me, that’s critical to success at racing long distances.

Perhaps just as important is the phsycological component.  During the taper, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing fitness due to the reduced mileage.  A smattering of quality allows you to feel a bit more at ease with the fact you’re not wasting away to being slow and fat.

And, as much as I know the physiological benefits of the taper, I dislike it all the same.  In spite of the quality efforts, it’s still easy to think that you’re losing fitness.  It’s easy to second guess the training.  Every day you feel like you’re about to come down with a cold.  Or a muscle twinge.  Or some other imagined soreness. 

For this race, my taper has been two weeks.  In week one, I dropped mileage from 54 to 42 miles with one hard workout (4 X 1 mile at 10K pace) and one last core session.  This past week (taper week #2), I’ll be down to 29 miles with a shorter quality session (2 miles at marathon pace) and no core work (just stretching and some dynamic flexibility).

The first week wasn’t too bad.  Had the New Year’s holiday and a busy work week to keep things busy.  But, this past week was a bit harder.  Not so much the second guessing – okay, maybe just a little bit.  No, it was more the feeling of coming down with something.  Cold??  Earache?? Flu???  In the end, I’m pretty sure none of those things are about to fall upon me.  But, just to be sure, I’ve been getting lots of sleep, bathing in hand sanitizer and gorging on Airborne.

In the end, not feeling too stressed though.  My workouts have gone well and normal training pace is feeling quite easy.  And, looking back at many/ most of my most recent half and full marathons, I realize that I’ve had the same feeling of impending illness during taper time in almost all of them.  So, I’m hopeful that this can be interpreted as a good sign.
Now - all that I can do is rest up, keep the feet up and get ready mentally.  I've done all I can physically.  Just need to get my head around the race and focus on what it's going to take to meet my race goal.
More tomorrow ................ until then, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Hay In The Barn

Have had a pretty solid last 2 weeks of training; and, now have just under two weeks to go until the Austin 3M Half Marathon (13.1 on 1.13).  Weekly mileage for those weeks was 50 and 54 (Hit 229 miles for October - which is my biggest month in over 2 years). 

For this build-up, followed some of the principles of the Hanson Brothers marathon training program.  A big part of their philosophy is the concept of cumulative fatigue.  Their mileage is a bit lower than some programs; and, the quality sessions are applied in a bit different structure.  But, in the end, the goal is to get your body prepared to deal with the fatigue that is experienced during a long race.  The training build up is intended to induce progressive, positive stress your physiological systems.  Then, as you hit the taper point, your body is able to rest and you, in theory, are ready to make maximum use of your these physiological adaptations on race day.

If the theory is valid, then I'm hopeful that I've planned things correctly.  I can tell you that I did feel the effects of the cumulative fatigue in these last two weeks.  I as a bit more tired than I had been through the rest of the training cycle.  And, I felt a wee bit "flat" during my last couple of hard workouts.  But, that being said, I did get in my longest run in well over 2 years with a very solid 16 miler last week.

For hard workouts, I was able to do a 3 X 1 mile at 5K race pace; a 6-mile tempo run; 2 X 2-miles at 10K pace; and, a 10 miler with the last 4 miles at Marathon pace.  All, in all, not a bad set of workouts.  And, pretty much all were right within my workout goals and overall schedule. 

On top of that, I have been able to get my weight down to the level where I have historically felt the best from a racing perspective (between 135 and 137 pounds).  It was tough to manage over the holidays; but, it looks like I put on maybe a pound at the most - not really worried about that. 

In the end, I've pretty done all that I can to be prepared for Austin.  Now it's taper time.  The mileage has already stared to drop.  Have a couple of up-quality workouts to keep the neuro-muscular patterns engaged and active; but, nothing of major significance.  It's really more about resting and some mental preparation.

So, here's too hoping for the best.  If you're interested in following the conclusion of my journey, I do hope to post some regular entries in the last couple of days leading up to the run and some post race thoughts.

Till then............................see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard