Saturday, February 5, 2011


"If you make every game a life and death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." -- Dean Smith, basketball coach

Hi guys - What the heck happened? I guess Father Nature returned from his vacation and decided to get back to work. Warm early morning runs last week and this week, I'm freezing my butt off again. Had another short ice storm and sightings of snowflakes that nearly shut down the city AGAIN! Could be worse. My son in Boston almost can't see out of his living room window because of the snow! When Bostonians complain about the snow, you've really got something. Kind of like an Eskimo saying "Man, it's chilly out!".

So many things to cover this week and I know I'll leave somethings off that I'll remember later today. Ah, the joys of getting old.

First of all, on a very serious note, we, in the Birmingham running community, were deeply saddened when one our half marathon trainees was hit by a car while running early one morning this week and very sadly passed away. Sundeep (Andy) Caplash was only 38 years old with a lovely sad. You always think something bad will happen to the other guy, but as my dad always said "To the other guy, you're the other guy". My dad was pretty deep! Please, if you run in the dark, make yourself visible with reflective gear, blinking lights, or some other warning. When I switched to early morning running, I was reluctant to wear reflective stuff (guess it was a macho thing). Now, I look like the State Fair. Andy's legacy should be that we ALL vow to be safer. I didn't know him well, but in our close community, it does strike a special chord with all of us when a tragedy like this happens. I know many of us will dedicate runs or the upcoming marathon to Andy. So sad!

Well, here we week from the Mercedes Marathon and Half Marathon. Hope I didn't surprise anybody with that last sentence! If I did, then it's time to get serious about your training. The good thing is that you can just ease right into your taper week. I hope some of you are getting nervous, because if you're calm, then you don't get it, or else you're one supremely confident person. Nervous energy is good as long as you can control it and you keep it positive. Don't let it develop into panic as the week progresses. Keep reviewing the training you've done - you've been out there for months in the rain, heat, cold, wind, snow, everything that Father Nature could throw at you. You've done your 20 miler, you're 17 miler, your 15 milers. Why in the world would you have negative thoughts? When I was training for my first marathon (I think it was the one right after Phidippides died in 300 BC), my mentor, Max Michael, told me if you can get through the training, then you're a marathoner. Yes, so many things can go wrong on the BIG DAY, but let's just put that in the "things we CAN'T control" column. Your body is ready and rarin' to go, Don't let idle negative thoughts muck it up. If you've been following the taper plan, then this will be one easy week. Tomorrow, the full marathoners do 11 miles and the Half Marathoners do 15 miles - just want to see if you're paying attention - you guys do 6 miles. Then the rest of the week is laid back with just a few miles to keep the legs loosened up. NOTHING you do this week will help, but you can do a whole lot to screw up your race. My usual schedule is to take Monday off, run Tues/Thurs, off Friday, then a short 20-30' jog on Saturday IF I feel like it. I like that Saturday run especially if I fly to a race on Friday, but seeing that I don't plan to fly the 10 miles from Hoover to downtown, I'll probably take Saturday off and spend part of the day at the Expo. All runs or walks should be done at the same pace you have been doing in training - don't goof off just because it's taper week and don't try to cram in any speed work! Eat normally, which should mean 60-70% carbohydrates and don't stuff yourselves. The fact that you're running less will cause your muscles to store the extra carbos you're ingesting just by eating normally. Drink often - don't pass a water fountain without taking a swig. Don't worry, you won't get hyponatremia walking around the office! By now, you should know my #1 bit of advice - KNOW THE COURSE!!! Get a hold of a course map, including the elevation, and look at it EVERY DAY this week. Then try to picture yourself running the course comfortably, I don't want anybody to ask me at the start "Are there any hills?". Hopefully, you locals have done at least one of our "on-the-course" training runs. If not...Too late!! There is so much confidence gained in knowing the course.

I've put together a team of Pace Leaders that will pace 4 - 5 hours ( 5 groups at 15 minute increments). If you've never used a pace leader, it does take some of the strain of thinking off of you. All you have to do is run! Once, when I was about to lead a 4:30 group a few years ago, some gruff runner asked me "Do you guarantee I'll finish under 4:30?". I answered, "No, but I guarantee I'LL finish under 4:30!". A Pace leader studies the course and will adjust the pace during the run so energy is spread out to allow the goal. I'll be leading a 5 hour group, and although the overall pace is about 11:30/mile, I doubt we'll run many 11:30 miles. But, we'll get to the church on time.

OK, that's about it from Running With Al Central. Tomorrow is the huge Futbol game and I sure hope Birmingham City can muster the energy to beat West Ham in the English Premier Soccer League. I know you all feel the electricity. Oh yeah, then there's that other Football game with the 3 hour halftime show. I'll be rooting for the Steelers, but I think the Packers have the better team. How's that for covering my bases? Speaking of bases, pitchers and catchers report for baseball Spring Training next week - Yey!! I know, I'm, baseball, running...I hope you all have a good taper week, and most of all, run safely. I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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