Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beyonce, Boston Training Week 3, Frosty "25K"

Before I get to my training log...

Running Music of the Week:  Beyonce

I'm not ashamed in any way to admit this: I really like Beyonce's latest album.  The videos that go along with it are fascinating and compelling.

Beyonce opens her latest album with a fictional exchange from a beauty pageant.  She is asked "what is your aspiration in life?"  The answer is simple but hauntingly complicated.

"I want to be happy."

We would think that would be automatic for someone with the wealth and iconic status of Beyonce, but as other pop stars of her era have shown (Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, etc...), wealth and fame can lead to a tremendous amount of pressure, unhappiness, and erratic behavior.  Beyonce meanwhile has remained remarkably consistent and professional in her work.

Throughout the album, short clips from her own past are juxtaposed within and between songs that rotate between being dance-floor worthy or good for simply repping out mile after mile on a greenway in the cold.  In January, I need all the good music I can get.

She reminds us that the same Beyonce who has performed Super Bowl halftime shows and at Obama's Inaugural Ball was once rejected on Ed McMahon's Star Search as a young girl.

She calls attention to our cultural obsession with physical perfection, particularly for females, on "Pretty Hurts" (the video to this song is outstanding).  

She hides nothing about her physical relationship with Jay-Z on "Drunk in Love" and "Blow" - and more power to her...  Pop music is full of songs sung by 19 year olds about drunken random hookups in clubs all the time.  A grown married woman in her 30s with a child should be able to be as honest and open as she wants about an intimate monogamous relationship - and make it seem interesting.

She expresses the emotional pain of a miscarriage on "Heaven" and sings about parenthood on "Blue."  

She came under some heat for including a clip of the Challenger explosion announcement at the beginning of XO.  Beyonce was born September 1981 - we are both of this ambiguous generation between "X" and the "Millenials" (as much as standards try to force-fit us into the Millenials, I partially identify with both, but fully with neither).  We were practically the same age when the Challenger event happened.  I still remember where I was and how I felt when that happened: before that point, I was fascinated with space and wanted to be an astronaut, but it was the first time I realized that dreams come with a risk.  I don't see this as her making light of the explosion as much as calling attention to the fact that for anyone born in the early 80s, this was a defining moment in our early lives.

She reminds us that the amazing voice we hear on the radio, the picture perfect person we see on magazine covers is as human as the rest of us.

Genuine expression is true art - and this album is about as genuine as it gets.

Boston Training Week 3:

It was my last week off from work for the holidays and it was everything I really needed to recharge for the new year while getting in just the right mix of runs and time spent catching up with friends.  I have learned from years past that just because I suddenly have the time to ramp up mileage significantly, this is not the best or smartest thing to do for my overall health.  I am abiding fairly religiously this year to the "do not increase mileage more than 10% a week rule".  Could I have done more?  Sure.  Did I have to?  No.

Monday:  7.5 miles at Bass Lake / Moses Cone Regional Park

We planned on spending some time with friends for the New Year holiday up in the mountains, so I began the week at a cabin near downtown Blowing Rock.  This location worked out great for walking to bars (we frequented the Sixpence Pub), restaurants (note for next year: reservations recommended), but also running as it was hardly a 5 minute drive to Moses Cone Park.  

The park was built on the estate of an industrial era textile tycoon and is a mecca for running, easily one of the best parks in the whole state - with miles of bridle trails and good climbs.  Bass Lake is at the US 221 entrance and has about a mile long crushed gravel loop, which is good for us flatlanders that need a warmup before tackling the climbs.  The park can be accessed off 221 or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This first day I went in the afternoon, and the weather was fairly warm for Blowing Rock standards, which meant the loop around Bass Lake was sloppy.  I ran up the hill to the Cone manor, about a 400 foot climb over 2 miles, and then back down.  I tacked on another few miles on a side trail.

Tuesday:  7 miles at Bass Lake / Moses Cone Regional Park

The run was good enough the first day that I decided to go back, although it was much colder in the morning especially with the wind whipping around... I went down a few different trails than the day before and still did not make it to the back of the park.  I felt a bit tight/slow on the way up, but ended up thawing out eventually and going about 6-flat on the last mile going down hill.

Wednesday:  Happy 2014, no running.  Is Fall Out Boy still relevant?

Thursday:  5 miles on the Tobacco Trail 'easy', nothing too exciting

Friday:  3 miles on the treadmill easy at home (rest up for Saturday)

Saturday:  First tune-up of the year... The Frosty "25K" (14.9 miler, plus a half mile warmup)

Despite growing up in Salisbury and spending 8 years here in Durham, I have never run at Salem Lake Park in nearby Winston-Salem.  The Salem Lake 30K in the fall has been on my bucket list for many years, but for one reason or another, it never quite works out.  The Frosty Fifty (50K) was always a bit out of my reach, but they added a 25K option a few years ago.  Figuring I wanted to get in about a 15 mile run this weekend anyway, and knowing that I have many more local runs ahead of me at Umstead, Duke Forest, or the ATT, I decided to mix things up and give the race a try.  This also meant waking up at 5 AM for the drive over to make the 8 AM start in sub-20 degree weather.  

"Frosty" was no joke this morning, but after hearing about the negative double-digits in the Midwest today, I felt kind of soft by comparison even though I ended up with some pretty epic icicles in my beard after the race (sorry, no picture).  I had some company for the ride over and at the race, carpooling over with Jim from Durham, who had the 50K record for several years - having an ultra marathon record is a pretty impressive title for any runner to have.

My goal was target marathon pace (6:40s), which meant a good effort, but not an all-out race.  I hung with Jim the first mile, as his goal was 7-flat, which we hit dead on (7:03).  Early on, I tried settling back early and just tried to enjoy the surroundings - the undulating dirt footpath, the barren trees over the misty lake, which was on the verge of freezing over solid.  This helped level set my mind for the long haul.  Seldom do I get a chance to race somewhere new and have a chance to absorb the surroundings.  This distance was long enough that I could avoid going breakneck pace.  Holding back early would help later.

But soon enough, I started to push a little faster anyway.  6:48, 6:41, 6:35, 6:37, 6:41... the miles kept ticking off and I would pass a person or two.  Even the 6:30s felt very fluid.  With three races going on at the same time - a 50K, a 25K, and a relay, it was hard to know who was in the race with me.  It didn't matter - every time I saw someone ahead I pushed myself to try to catch them.  I didn't really worry about pace - I focused on keeping my form smooth and relaxed and just ran.  As long as 6:30s felt comfortable, I went with.  Not too long ago, that was a fast tempo pace.

Toward the end of the first loop, I saw a large group ahead of me, so I must have picked it up.  Mile 7 was in 6:28.   Ok... time to slow down.

They had to change the course due to flooding from an out and back to 2 loops.  This, however, resulted in the course being a fair bit short.  I did the first roughly 7 and a half mile loop in roughly 50-even.  My goal for the second loop was to hold pretty steady.  Again, I kept with the tactic of just trying to catch the person ahead of me, but then a man came flying by me (I don't know if he was even in the race) and then a woman who was moving quick enough that I knew better than to try to hang on.  

I passed a man who looked a bit older somewhere around mile 12.  He ended up finishing only about a minute behind me.  We chatted briefly at the finish - he said he was 58, which was an impressive effort.  I'm always amazed by these types of runners - I hope I can just run 15 miles period at that age!

Admittedly, the last loop was tougher but not much slower overall - all of the miles were in the 6:40s and 6:50s.

I crossed the line around 1:40:22.  At the end, I received a huge wooden medal.  Winning an overall award is still a surprise to me, so I asked "what was this for?".  The girl handing out awards said it was top 5.  I finished 6th overall - the woman who passed me early in the 2nd loop was the women's winner.  The field was so spread out that it was hard to know where exactly I was.

I had the "race" measured at 14.9 miles and pace at 6:45 overall.  It felt comfortable, other than maybe the last few miles, not bad considering it was also my longest run since last February.

So I can finally cross Salem Lake off my bucket list, and I would go back again for a race some other time, hopefully when the course is not flooded over.

Sunday:  4+ mile recovery run

Overall Miles:  42

To close... Why I Run:

#1 - A good excuse to see new places

#2 - Because after the Christmas decorations come down and my time off is over, I have winter and spring races to keep me motivated

1 comment:

  1. Glad the race went well! You forgot to mention your excellent carb loading preparation ;)