Friday Video: Sally McRae and Western States

It was 34 degrees my morning run which is way too goddamn cold for late April. Still! Summer is coming, and with it, the marquee ultra running events. I’m super excited for this year. A whole new crop of talented runners are on the rise, including the fascinating and talented Sally McRae, who placed 10th in last year’s Western States. I don’t know yet if she is planning on running it again. I hope so. I’d love to see what she can do now that she knows the course.

Here’s a really great video of McRae’s Western States quest. Enjoy!

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The BQ(Q) – Serguei A

With the Boston Marathon happening this week, there’s been a renewed interested int he BQ(Q) project. I appreciate Serguei taking the time to add his story! Thanks, Serguei!

Name: Serguei A

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38

Height: 5’11

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 150lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

It was the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach 2015, the time was 3:06:08. It is a very flat course, a little bit windy, but the weather was perfect 40-45F.

However, for the first time in my life I hit the wall, without even realizing it at the moment. I think this cost me 6 min of time, because I was probably ready to finish around 3 hours. But it was still a PR – 7 minutes faster than my previous one and finally a BQ.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

About 3 years. I never ran before 35, but did some recreational cycling, swimming and rollerblading.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

About 3700 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

1700 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

16 races, mostly short 5Ks. Also several halves and 2 full marathons.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

No, I have a virtual coach, that prepares a customized program for me. He coached me already through 3 marathons and I PR’ed every time.

Usually it is a very long training period, 5+ month of gradual increase in both mileage and intensity. I did 65 miles in a peak week, but mostly it was around 45-55 mpw. But the workouts consisted predominantly from intervals, tempo and fartlek runs. The coach doesn’t believe in junk miles, so the workouts were either long or intensive.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

Yes, I do track workouts twice a week with Community Running of Boston. In addition to the virtual coaching.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

Not really. At the beginning of the marathon training cycle I did swimming twice a week and cycled once a week. During the peak mileage weeks I just ran 6 times a week.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, I believe track speed and interval workouts with a running club actually made me a runner. They changed everything for me.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Seek professional coaching or a running group. You can push yourself much harder if somebody is watching.

Spend a lot of time on injury prevention. I constantly do static core stability exercises and running drills to improve my running form. As a result – no injuries the last 2 marathon training cycles.

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Totals for the Week of April 20, 2015

Run Miles for the week: 29.7 in 4:41:12
Run Miles for the year: 466.5
Projected total miles for the year: 1562.1
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 42.3/6
Run Streak: 0
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: n/a
Prospect Park loops for the week: 2
Prospect Park loops for the year: 26
Bike Miles for the week: 28.3 in 2:30:49
Bike Miles for the year 102.4
Projected total bike miles 386.2
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k bike miles 52.5/7.5
Swim Yards for the week: 0
Total Swim Yards for the year: 2700
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~7:00
Average Weight 177
Books Finished: 3 (In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette, Hampton Side; All the Old Knives, Olen Steinhauer; Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 15
Total books by women 8
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 53.3%
Books per week to reach 52 1.00

Notes: I was planning for this to be a bit of a cutback week… but it turned into more of a cut back then I would have liked. Kids, jobs, etc. Let’s see how I do this week.

 

 

 

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Totals for the Week Ending 4.12.2015

Run Miles for the week: 42.5 in 6:38:48
Run Miles for the year: 439.8
Projected total miles for the year: 1558.5
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 42.1/6
Run Streak: 8
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 1
Days until I beat my old run streak: 106
Prospect Park loops for the week: 1
Prospect Park loops for the year: 24
Bike Miles for the week: 12.5 in 1:00:30
Bike Miles for the year 74.1
Projected total bike miles 302.5
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k bike miles 51.9/7.4
Swim Yards for the week: 0
Total Swim Yards for the year: 2700
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~7:30
Average Weight 177
Books Finished: 1 (In the Wood, Tana French)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 12
Total books by women 7
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 58%
Books per week to reach 52 1.06

 

Notes: Weather was shit all week, so I was relegated to the treadmill most nights, and didn’t get much biking. Still a strong week for running, my biggest mileage week in awhile. Feeling good, ready to keep this bus moving along for another week and hit that elusive ten hours of cardio mark.

 

 

 

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Some Quick Thoughts on Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

You know those books where you start reading and there, in the very first pages, is a phrase you just have to underline or copy out? It’s so perfectly done, you need to honor it. But then you keep reading, and just a page later, there’s another perfect sentence. And then another. Now you’re underlying something on every page. But you’re no longer a young man. You don’t have time to underline the whole goddamn book. So you give up on the underlining because this thing is just so goddamn well done there’s no point in highlighting just a section or two.

You know those kind of books? Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is one of those books. It is an extended mediation on nature as seen through Dillard experience living in semi-rural Virginia and it is awesome. Usually, meditations on nature aren’t my thing, but this one was so gorgeously written* that I couldn’t resist. Here’s a good bit:

I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it: he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why.

That’s pretty good, right? I think that’s pretty good.

The prose of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek blew me away, and the subject matter (reflections on nature, and man’s relationship thereto, basically) got me thinking.

As we (and by we I guess I really mean I) become a more and more an industrialized creature, it seems we idealize the natural world and its wonders more. In my Brooklyn apartment, I find myself watching nature documentaries and dreaming of running courses deep in the mountains. I read about Dillard witnesses a flood at Tinker Creek and I’m a bit jealous.

Of course, there is a reason for this. The natural world is wondrous (Dillard has a passage about the praying mantis that will just blow you mind) and our fantasies of it can be a soothing balm after a long commute home from the office on an overcrowded four train.

But nature is also, to me, and many others, incredibly foreign.  Living near a creek in the woods is something reserved for those with second homes and the shrinking populace of the rural poor. Everyone else is crammed into cities and cul de sacs where we witness not the wonders of the ingenious muskrat (another awesome Dillard vignette), but the feats and foibles of our fellow men. And these things too can be as fascinating and horrifying as the mating of a praying mantis. Isn’t this worth some exploration as well?

Can’t we learn something from close observation of the man made world around us?

I think so. I think I might try.

*Some might say this one was overwritten, and I see there point. There were times when I thought, “Oh stop it, Annie, you’re just showing off”.  In her afterword Dillard basically admits this — that’s Pilgrim is the book of a young person determined to show her chops.  That she does. This woman can write.

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Training for the Week Ending April 5, 2015

Run Miles for the week: 37 in 6:06:08
Run Miles for the year: 394.2
Projected total miles for the year: 1514.6
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 42/6
Run Streak: 1
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 113
Prospect Park loops for the week: 3
Prospect Park loops for the year: 23
Bike Miles for the week: 37.4 in 3:11:57
Bike Miles for the year 61.6
Projected total bike miles 274
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k bike miles 50.8/7.3
Swim Yards for the week: 1200 in ~25:00
Total Swim Yards for the year: 2700
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~9:45
Average Weight 180
Books Finished: 1 (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 11
Total books by women 6
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 52%
Books per week to reach 52 1.06

 

Notes: Another solid week including my longest run of this training cycle (22 miles in 3:43:29, and the highest total number of cardio hours I have ever done. Just got to keep this train moving.

 

 

 

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Totals for the Week Ending 3.29.2015

Run Miles for the week: 35.5 in 5:30:21
Run Miles for the year: 357.3
Projected total miles for the year: 1465
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 42/6
Run Streak: 1
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 113
Prospect Park loops for the week: 2
Prospect Park loops for the year: 20
Bike Miles for the week: 27.1 in 1:56:50
Bike Miles for the year 24.2
Projected total bike miles 118.3
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k bike miles 50.2/7.2
Swim Yards for the week: 1000 in ~25:00
Total Swim Yards for the year: 1500
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~8:00
Average Weight 180
Books Finished: 1 (The Last Spymaster, Gayle Lynds)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 10
Total books by women 5
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 50%
Books per week to reach 52 1.03

Notes: A great week. Cycling is on the rise, swimming is less painful, and I nailed my long run. More weeks like this, please.

 

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