Saturday, December 22, 2012

Week in Review: Dec 17 - Dec 23

First off.... just a heads up for you athletes reading this, a fellow local triathlete is doing a give away and, frankly, the more ways I promote it the more chance I get to win.  The prize?  A Garmin Forerunner 910xt.  So, if you want a shot at this, head over to his blog and promote away!

Swim: 0
Bike: 0
Run: 24

A little sad.  I got a sweet bike related gift (uh.. a few of them actually) and I didn't make it on the bike. We left for North Carolina on Friday, so we spent the week burning the candle on both ends.  I did manage to get in 6 miles Monday, 12 on Tuesday, and 6 at the gym on Wednesday.

This post may actually be a bit premature.  I'm sitting in the same spot as when I wrote this post (in Greensboro, NC) and it is Saturday.  I'm hoping I can convince Ken and/or Kyle to go for a run with me tomorrow.  The weather is suppose to be nice tomorrow, so I'm sure something will happen.

I'm hoping to get 12 more miles in before the end of the year so I can hit 1,250 miles!!!

Holiday Fun!
Since we are out-of-town on Christmas, we did our gift exchange with my family and with TKB before we left.  I got the PowerCal (as I talked about last week), 2 awesome bike jersey's (A Felt Bicyle jersey and Truman State University jersey, my undergraduate alma mater), a new foot pod, and that's all I can think of right now.

Another week and another lack of Disney costume previews.  We only have a few weeks left, so we better get cracking!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Week In Review: Dec 10 - 16

Holiday season is in full swing.  Three holiday parties in one weekend!  Of course that means eating way too much and drinking a little too much.

I was able to take a bit of the stress out by having four full days off from work.  What was on the docket?  Not much, really.  Other than running, it was finishing up some Christmas shopping and some other geeky projects.

Let's look at the week:

Swimming: 0
Biking: 0
Running: 42 miles / 5:40

I caught up some miles after taking most of the previous week off due to illness.  This included one 20 mile run on Friday at an 8:33 pace.  Nice!  This may be my only chance to get in a 20 mile run as we leave for North Carolina on Friday and won't return until the next Saturday or Sunday.   I'm planning to bring all my running gear as well as some bike and swim items.  I'm not sure if I'll hit 42 or 50 miles next week, but at least I can give myself a chance!

This week will also be light but I'm hoping to get over 30 miles.  This should ensure that I get 1,250 miles running for the entire year!  Crazy!  I think that is twice the number of miles I hit last year.

Swimming and biking should increase, especially since I got a new toy for Christmas from my brother, sister-in-law, and TKB!  A CycleOps PowerCal!  It's an entry level Power Meter used to tell how much "power" you are generating while cycling.  Yes, Power.  The output is measured in watts.... like a 60 watt light bulb.  This is an entry level device.  The one I got costs $100.  It's basically a heart rate monitor with a special algorithm to determine your output.  Normally, Power Meters will have some sort of attachment to your pedals or wheel to perform it's calculation.  Those units cost anywhere between $1000 - $2000!!! CRAZY!!

That's all for now!!  Have a good Christmas and safe travels!!

Sorry!  No new items purchased for the Disney costume.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Week in Review: Dec 3 to Dec 9 & Disney Costume Preview #2

Slowin' me mojo
Well, after a great week of running, biking, and swimming it sure came to a halt last week.  15 miles total in 1 hour, 58 minutes (under 8 minute average tho!).  The cold weather is settling in and we put our winter sheets on the bed, so it's a little harder getting up in the morning.  It didn't help that I started oozing stuff out of the nose.  I took it easy last week even though it was suppose to be a 50 mile week.

Yeah, Disney is going to HURT.

With how things went at work last week, I'm just going to completely forget about the week.

I was lamenting last week about how training is going to be tough with the holidays.  So I'm expecting things to be a little out of whack.  The good thing is I have 11 work days between now and Disney.  So when you consider we will be wheels down in Orlando in exactly a month, I will have 66% of my days off.  (read: lots of time to potentially run).  My plan is to simply run when I find time to run between holiday parties, contracting work, personal website stuff, and hanging with friends.  Joe VI and I aren't shooting for a particular time on the Dopey Challenge, so when I do run, it will be by heart rate. Each run will have a specific HR goal.

Today was a good example.  I had the day off from work so I set aside two hours to go for a run.  The Parks and Recs department extended a paved trail where I like to run, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Below is a picture I posted about a month ago.
The trail extension under construction.  CAUTION!
They added a mile south, so that trail is now 7 miles total when you do an out and back.

Green: Previous
Blue: NEW TRAIL!!!!

With it taking 2.5 miles to get there, I did 12 miles.  My goal was to be in the upper 150s heart rate (mid-aerobic.. I think).  I left my watch on the huge Heart Rate screen plus mileage.  When I got home I was shocked to see a 7:45 pace.  For a route that includes 843 feet of elevation gain, I will take it!

It's all about the heart rate.  People really need to consider training by it more.

Disney Costume Preview #2
The acquisition of costume pieces slowed last week as no new items were purchase or received.  But one item is on special order as we are having it customized.   Here it is:

It's high performance head gear.
From the manufacturers site, minus the customization of course!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Week In Review: Nov 26 - Dec 2 & Disney Costume Preview #1

Last week not only did I get some time on the bike but also spent some time in the pool.  This was more cross training and to see how bad my return to triathlons are going to be.  The bike was OK as it was just a recovery spin from my "hard" 5 mile run the day before.

Swim: 1000 yards / 20 minutes
Bike: 8.87 miles / 30 minutes
Run: 34.3 miles / 4 hours, 45 minutes

I'm still in running mode in preparation for the Walt Disney World 5k, Half, Marathon weekend.  So working in swim and bike will be a little bit of a challenge.  Heck, getting a run in will also be a challenge as we will be spending 10 days on the road around Christmas.

Joe VI and I met for a 12 mile run on Sunday and it will probably be the last time he allows me to plan a route.

Elevation gain of over 1,200 feet, most of which is in the first 9 miles.  It was the first double digit run since our 50k 3 weeks ago.

Disney Costume Preview #1
I am not normally a costume guy for races.  The most I ever got dressed up was for the Krispy Kreme Challenge in 2011:

So for my first race in 2013, Joe VI put together an idea for a costume for the marathon.  So over the course of the next month, I'll be previewing items.  Item number one:

Red Calf Sleeves

Item number two has been ordered and hopefully will be here soon so I have something to put next week.  There is some custom work to be done though, so it might take a little time.

I would make this entire "preview" a contest to see who can guess what we will be going as but:

  1. I don't have anything to give away.
  2. All my readers already know what we are going as.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Disney is GO!

Up Next
Besides a 5 mile run last Wednesday and a 5 mile run on Sunday at the park with TKB, I mostly took the week of Thanksgiving off following The North Face 50K.  So, basically, I didn't take last week off.

Anyway, I'm back into the training mode for my next race races.  In January I will be running the "Dopey" Challenge.  That is the unofficial name of the Disney Goofy Race and a Half Challenge plus adding in the Disney Family Fun Run 5k on Friday.  So added it up: 5k on Friday + Half Marathon on Saturday + Full Marathon on Sunday = 42.4 miles.

Training Plan
So how does someone train for such a race?  Good question.  I'm basically just executing my Chicago marathon training plan.  It is Hal Higdon's Intermediate II marathon training plan.  He stacks the weekends up by running fast, decently long distances on Saturday and long slow distances on Sunday.  The peak weeks have 10 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday.  So it's a pretty good plan to prepare for running 3.1 more miles on Saturday and 6.2 more miles on Sunday.

The problem is that the Chicago marathon training plan is 18 weeks long and I have 7 (including this week) until race time.  With having just completed a 31 mile race 1.5 weeks ago, I should have plenty of base to handle starting at the peak mileage weeks for Disney.  This week is 34 miles, next week is 50 miles.  I repeat that 1 more time and then I'll start that tapering for three weeks.

I'm hoping to add a few workouts a week as well, such as cycling on Monday's (which I did yesterday) and maybe some weight training.  We'll see if that actually happens.

My last two 5 mile runs have been an average 7:28 minutes per mile and 7:19 minutes per mile.  I think with it getting cold has motivated me to pickup my pace.  We will see what happens when I use the treadmill inside.

Speaking of Hal Higdon

I did actually chat with him for about a second and shake his hand.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my iPad for him to sign his book.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Race Report: The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K

Google Search - define:endure
I think I should have done that search about 4 months ago.  Patiently suffering does not sound like a good idea.

The North Face Endurance Challenge is known for its trail courses of 5K to 50 miles.  Last year they added a road race in Kansas City and I put together a relay marathon team.  Tons of fun.  I decided to give the 50K a shot this year and convinced Joe VI to do the same.  A 50% off coupon made the cost of the 50K and marathon the same.  So if we decided to go down to the marathon, no big deal!

If you are wondering, another quick Google search will let you know how many miles is 50 kilometers:

It is only 4.8 miles more than a marathon (if you don't know the distance of a marathon, I'll let you Google that).  Could running 4.8 miles more be that more difficult? Let's see.

Leading up to the race I started my carb loading by boiling a full pound of whole wheat pasta to eat with every meal.  I also throw in some smoked chicken meat to add some protein. I start to over hydrate myself this week as well.

Energy in a box

On Friday I had many people asking if I was excited about the race.  I really was indifferent.  It was as if I had no race at all.  It was really weird.

TKB and I went to Italian Delight for dinner.  Since I had been carb loading all week, it wasn't that critical to actual eat pasta, so I ordered a Chicken Parmesan with a side of spaghetti.  I really like their Chicken Parmesan and definitely recommend it!  We went back home, watched a movie, and was in bed by 10pm.  I slept surprisingly well.
Probably not the best advertisement.

Typical pre-race breakfast and we were on the road by 5:50 to stop at the local barista for my last pre-race pick-me-up.  I love Pumpkin Spice Latte season!
Smile now.  Not later.

Pumpkin Spice and Everything About To Get Painful.
Doesn't have the same ring to it.
I dressed in the same outfit as Chicago, but I added my Zensah calf-sleeves and the free The North Face arm warmers.  While I was a little worried wearing the arm sleeves causing overheating, they were much thinner than the ones I wore for Beach2Battleship at warmer temps.

We arrived at Theis Park around  6:30am and my first pit stop to the port-a-johns.  After which we met up with Joe VI & Lauren (running the 10k), Kristen (running her second marathon!), Bryan (another co-worker who just finished a 50K trail race a few weeks ago and doing the 50K here as well), Ashley (running her second marathon since having a baby about four months ago) and Ryan (first 50K).
Joe VI, Lauren, Me

Eventually Joe, Ryan, and I made our way over to the start line.

Race time was 7:00 and sunrise was 7:05.  Fortunately it was light enough so I could wear my sunglasses.  It was going to be a long day without them.  Unfortunately, something else wasn't working so well.  My Garmin had been "starting up" for about 20 minutes.  It was still stuck on the start up "Garmin" screen.  My pleas to the race director to hold off on the race were ignored, granted I didn't actually say anything.

A little after 7:00am, we were off!  This time they started the race on the street.  Last year they started and finished in the park.  Apparently that was a little too "traily" for some people?  This is a road race after all!

After about a tenth of a mile I heard my Garmin beep and it was ready to start recording the oncoming 31 miles of torture fun.

Miles 1 - 15
Yeah.  I'm covering the first half of the race in this section.  This was probably the most fun I have ever had on a race.  Joe VI and I were having a great time joking around with pretty much everyone we saw.  We were debating on what would go out faster, our legs or our attitude.  Didn't matter, we were enjoying things.

Mile 13.2 Split: 1:57:49 or 8:56 Pace.
I took gels at miles 5, 10, and 15 (+/- a mile)

Pretty good pace.  While I had sketched out a race pace plan, it was really more about not running too fast/hard and we were being successful with that.

One issue we discovered is the mile markers for the half marathon and those for the full and 50K were switched.  Ours were showing at the half mile point on our watches. Something was amiss. Since we didn't really have hard time goals, it didn't matter but was rather annoying.  My watch was already off by a .10 of a mile because of the startup issues.

Some of our jokes were leading to the various "don't poop yourself" variety.  We were both having some issues there.  I guess I should have only eaten half of that chicken last night.  We debated on running into stores or malls.  We stopped at one aid station but there was a line for the bathoom.  Eventually we stopped at the aid station in the River Market and took care of some business.

After a mile of the aid station, I realized I still needed to pee.  What?  I spent so much time taking care of the #2, I forgot about #1.  My priorities were definitely in reverse order.

Miles 16 - 24
This was pretty much all uphill. It was disgusting but the scenery was beautiful.  I will say that there was some weird misdirection going on for me during Cliff Drive.  I knew it was uphill but it actually felt flat to me.  It was at this point that I lost Joe because I was probably running faster than I should have.  When we got to the end of Cliff Drive, I heard footsteps behind me and turned to talk to Joe and it wasn't him.

I ended up catching up with a guy who was from Bismarck, ND.  We chatted for about 4 miles or so as we matched pace pretty well.  He then dropped me on another nasty hill. At this point I dumped my gloves at an aid station, hoping I wouldn't regret it.

We started the eventual turn back towards the finish.  I was doing surprisingly well.  I was hitting a decent pace and had caught back up with the Bismarck runner.  I was starting to think about the fact that I was about to run farther than I had ever run before!

Around mile 23 is when we met back up with the marathoners.  It was good to actually have some more company on the road.  Because of the pace I was running compared to the marathoners, I was actually running a minute per mile faster.  This meant that I could entertain myself by catching and passing people. Also known as the runners fishing game.

It was also this section of the course that we could tell it was the high point of the elevation.  Any time we got into a clearing there was a strong wind.  Unfortunately, it wasn't at our back but our front.

I ate a gel at mile 20.

Miles 25 - 28
I was also getting close to the last relay station.  This means I was running the one part of the course I was familiar with as I ran the last leg in 2011.

The Bismarck guy stopped for a bathroom break at the relay station and I trudged along.

Mile 25 Split: 3:40:25 or 8:49 pace -- Nice! A negative split!

It was at this point that I finally saw someone I knew on the course.  Kristen!  I almost missed her too but managed to say "hi" as I passed.

I was also playing leap frog with a female runner.  As we were approaching Crown Center (ie, Hospital HILL) she said something like "almost there!" to me.  I said, "not until after this hill".  Apparently she had not run a race that included this hill before because she started asking all about it.  Once we hit Hospital Hill I immediately turned to a fast walk while she kept running but eventually walked.

I had planned to take a gel at mile 25 but never did.

Miles 28 - 30
Eventually my fast walk passed a couple guys hanging out at the aid station, appropriately placed at the mid-point of the hill.  It was Bryan who was running his second 50K in about 3 weeks.

It was really at this point that I kept up sustained walking.  I had done really well trying to keep up the running because I was afraid that once I started I couldn't get back to running.  Since I was on the home stretch I knew I had plenty of motivation but I decided to walk anything that resembled a hill.

The mile markers appeared to still be messed up.  They had the marathon and 50K mile markers on the same sign post (granted about 5 mile different) so I was curious which one was correct since 50K is a smidge over 31 miles and a full marathon is 26.2.  Was I going to run an extra .2 miles?

Mile 31
Still walking the hills when I found them.  I was eventually in ear shot of the finish line music and decided that was enough motivation to keep me moving.  I remember this part of the race very clearly from last year.  Which is the last quarter mile is all downhill.

I could easily see that I missed my goal of 4:30 by 7 minutes.  It didn't matter.  I was done!!

They turn you through a chute where someone hands you a bottle water.  The lady asked me if I wanted two, in which I replied no so as to leave some for others behind me.  She probably had 1,000 bottles of water with only a couple hundred people still on course. Oh well.

I picked up a space age mylar blanket and entered the post-race food area.  They had bananas and apples, as well as more Gu Brew and water.

Finish: 4:37:53 / 8:57 pace
Overall: 40 out of 218
Age Group: 13 of 47

I'll take a sub-9 average pace for a 50K.  It's funny how running 4.8 more miles required over an hour of running compared to Chicago; however, we met the total elevation gain of the Chicago Marathon within the first mile.  We were also racing this to do the distance, not meet a time goal.

My legs were definitely not happy.  They had ice baths available, so I stuck my feet and ankles in them for a few minutes.  I didn't fully emerge my legs because it was simply too cold out and I was feeling miserable enough.

After I got out, I saw Kristen's husband Jeff heading over to the food tent so we waited for Kristen to get through.  Just standing there talking for a few minutes was horrible on my legs.  I had to keep moving.  So we meandered through the booths and I found the food trucks with the post-race food.  Since I ran the 50K, I got $10 in food vouchers.  I bought red beans, sausage, and rice.

We met up with Lauren and the kids by the finish chute.   She had finished her 10k, gone home, showered, rested, and returned to the race while Joe and I were on the course.  With the Glympse -- GPS tracking -- software that we use, it was easy to see where Joe was on the course.

Tucker, the husband of one of my friends from my high school years, stopped by as he was waiting for Breann to finish her first marathon.  We chatted a bit while I watched Ryan and Joe cross the finish line... with my legs still screaming at me.  I don't think my legs have ever felt that miserable after a race.

I finally decided it was OK to sit down to see if it helped.  It was pretty windy at the park and Joe had found a nice place to block the wind.  We eventually took off for his house to clean up.

During the post-race, Joe commented how blue my lips were.  It wasn't until 2pm (2.5 hours after I finished) that they returned to normal color.

After we got home I immediately got in bed since we had an evening of socializing ahead of us.  I had been wearing my compression socks since getting out of the shower and also took a Meloxicam (like taking 18 Advil).  When I got up from my 3 hour nap, my legs were doing quite well.  I think wearing my calf compression sleeves aided in that as well.  I never had the "my calf muscles are going to fly off" feeling during the race.

Next Morning
My legs were probably equivalent to that of the day after the Chicago Marathon. My left ankle felt "weak", which I actually experienced after Bringing Up The Rear 5K a few weeks back.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Race Preview: North Face Endurance Challenge 50K

Tomorrow is the North Face Endurance Challenge's 50K!

This will be the first time I will run more than 26.2 miles officially (pretty much all of my marathons have been completed in 26.4 miles due to poor routing on my part).  Sadly, I really don't have the same level of excitement or worry about this race.  It has nothing to do with the North Face people, it's purely because I'm running the distance to run the distance.  I have no finish goals in mind.

I mentioned to Jill this morning that it's likely because I'm subconsciously freaked out about it.

Let's take a look at my training:

This shows the number of miles per week in the six weeks prior to the Chicago Marathon.  Then the next 6 weeks is leading up to the 50K.  You'd think I'd have more mileage per week after Chicago.

Following Chicago I was having calf issues that took over a week to relent.  Interestingly enough, the week I hit the most mileage since Chicago (Oct 29 - Nov 4) I also put in about 70+ hours of work due to downstream impacts of Hurricane Sandy at my day job.  How did I manage 42 miles?  I had a 15 mile run on Friday and 18.5 mile run on Sunday. Since Chicago, I really only had 3 runs more than 10 miles and those were two of them.

Needless to say, this race is going to hurt.  What can I do to help that?  Take it easy... as much as the KC hills will allow.  Pretty much all of my training runs (including the 15 and 18.5 milers) have been under an 8:30 pace.  So I think I'm just going to target that pace and see what happens.  If I were smart, that would mean starting slow for the first 6 miles and then running 8:20 - 8:30 the last 25 miles.  What will probably happen is I will run slow for 6 miles then go sub-8:00 minute miles for 10 - 15 miles and then struggle to stay under 9:00 for the last 8 or 9 miles making it average to 8:30.  (Didn't I say I had no finish goals earlier?)

Post-race I plan to spend a little time on the bike trainer and maybe one really short run and that is it for the entire week.  My next race is the Disney Goofy Challenge and 5K.  So I'll be re-evaluating my training plan and picking it backup after I stuff myself with turkey.

Good luck to everyone!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Race Report: Bringing Up The Rear 5k

Bringing Up The Rear 5k - October 28, 2012
Also known as the "race that almost didn't happen".

As I mentioned in this post, I found out about this race when I bumped into a friend of mine at the health expo for Hospital Hill.  She was helping a friend run a booth about the race who had lost her husband to colon cancer in October 2011.   It was a pretty easy decision to signup for this race. Good friends, good causes, and the race was within running distance of my house.  It's literally about 5k away!

So if this was such an easy decision, why didn't it almost not happen? Work.  I had a project scheduled for implementation on Saturday (the day before the race).  We do this project every year but this time it took longer than normal.  I started at 3am on Saturday but I got the final "all clear" at 8am on Sunday. One hour before the start!  Fortunately I was home and had already changed into my running gear.  If this race had been somewhere other than English Landing Park, it would have been a no-go!  Whew!

I did have a banana and bagel while I was waiting for the "all clear".  It did help that this race was at 9am so I would be able to take my time in the morning.  Also, I did get a decent night's sleep even though I woke up every few hours to check in on things at work.

I decided to dress up as my mobile orange barrel (see the photo at the bottom of this post).  With the weather was upper 30s I did elect for a short sleeve orange top and a long sleeve base layer.  Normally I would not have worn my new calf sleeves for a 5k but there was talks of Joe VI and me doing a long run after the race.  They were nice leg warmers in the meantime.

TKB and Morgan had already taken off for the race while I was working.  I managed to get down there when my Mom had arrived.  So we walked to the coffee shop in Parkville, which is where TKB and Morgan were cooped up to stay warm.  This being my Mom's first race, I helped put her timing chip on and TKB helped with pinning her bib to her sweater.  It was fun showing my Mom the ropes!

We left to go back to TKB's car to drop things off and we met up with Aaron and Jenny (who you may recall ran the Blues and Brew 5k in September) and Lauren.

Aaron, Mom, TKB, Morgan, and Jenny.  Sorry, I guess we did our photo shoot before Lauren arrived.
 We took off for the start/finish line, which was priceless:
Boxers!  Good thing they weren't brown.
We ran into many friends near the start line, including people I knew from high school  (Hi Amanda!).

With about 5 minutes to start I moseyed up to 'toe the line'.  That was a challenge because their were about 20 kids across it.  The emcee asked the kids to move to the side so they didn't get run over by the big kids.  hehe. This was undoubtedly the smallest race I have participated in, so it was fun to see kids having a good time here.  It definitely lightened the atmosphere.  I said "Hi" to Dave (Jenny's husband) who was in it to win it.  So I lined up behind him and a few other fast looking people.  After the national anthem, we took off!

1st Mile
Once things got settled after a 1/4 mile, I was probably sitting in 7th or 8th place.  I'm not used to being able to see the race leaders for a good portion of the race.  The course is on a crushed gravel trail with some areas of pavement near the start/finish line.  While I was familiar with the park, I had no clue what the course route would be like.

The first mile involved running the first smaller loop so we actually did a big circle and ended up having to run around all the walkers.  I would probably complain about this but I actually didn't mind it at all.  I preferred the grass than the gravel.  I enjoyed running by people I knew and tapping them on the shoulder. hehe.

My first mile was 6:19 pace.  Waaaaaaay toooooo fast for me.  Oh well.  I did the first 1/3 of it under 6 minute pace.  Oops.

Given all that, it felt OK.

Mile 2
So now we are on the longer stretch of the trail that sort of U-turns back along the river.  It was about this point where I got passed by 2 guys.  One looked older than me and one looked way younger.  Fine with me!  Not in my age group!

There was another turn around a circle drive where there was a water stop.  I, however, didn't. I kept cruising along.

7:07 Pace

My first 1/3 of a mile of the race caught up with me.  Since we had doubled back on the trail, I got to see Aaron, Jenny, and Lauren working their 2nd mile.

Mile 3:
I had caught up with the younger guy that had passed me earlier and I must have given him the motivation to take off because as soon as we hit that u-turn again, he was gone.

I tried to muster all the turnover I could so as to not leave anything on the course.  I did see TKB and Morgan, as well as Mom walking with Bob and Nancy (Jenny's parents).  As the tunnel vision started to close in on the finish, I heard another person say hi to me and it was the Officer of my department at work.  Well, I had to confirm it on Monday at work because I wasn't looking around much at this point.

7:01 pace.

The last 1/10 of the race was on pavement but I seemed to keep slowing down.  Mostly because I allowed myself to look back and no one was closing in.  No PR for this race anyway.  That sub-20 minute 5k will have to wait until next year.

Time: 21:14 / 6:50 pace

Not my best 5k performance of the year (by 21 seconds) but this crushed gravel does slow me down.

They had water and chocolate milk waiting for finishers as well as a big bucket of protein bars of various brands and flavors for your taking.  I did grab one because of the impending 20 mile run with Joe VI (although, I was definitely questioning it now); however, the pancake brunch and make-your-own mimosas and bloody marys were on the menu next.

I waited for Aaron, Jenny, Lauren, TKB, Morgan, and Mom to finish before heading over.  Eventually Joe VI came over as Lauren was finishing and we decided to nix the run from Parkville to Roeland Park with a potential run later in the day.

After a while they posted the results:

From TKB's instagram
1st Place in Age Group!  Woo hoo!

According to the official results, I was 9th overall as well.

Apparently I didn't get the blue memo.

Pancakes and Sausages from Chris Cakes.  So good.

My 1st Place Trophy!  And Bloody Mary!

Bob, Mom, and Nancy!

Mom, Nancy, and Bob flying into the finish line!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Advancing My Running Gear

Runners Leggings
There have been numerous times over the past few years where I have put my legs to the test.  Beach2Battleship 70.3, Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Marathon, and the Chicago Marathon (to name a few).  During these events I have noticed my calf muscles are what hurt the most during the later stages of the race.

Most recently, I've had some lingering effects with both of my calf muscles after Chicago.  In fact, I have yet to wake up in the morning without my calf muscles hating me.  They feel tight during the first few steps of the day but eventually there is a lingering pain throughout the day.

I have compression socks that extend up to my knee cap and I pretty much always wear them after a long run.  The compression does feel good but I want to be even a little more proactive.  I decided to invest in a pair of Zensah calf sleeves.  These look like leg warmers but have a nice level of compression to improve blood flow and aid in recovery.  If you look at my last post, you can see me wearing them.

My first run with them did not go very well.  It was 80 degrees and humid.  While they are suppose to have breathable fabric to wear in the heat, I just wasn't used to them at all.  A planned 12 mile run probably wasn't the best 'break in' run. In fact, it turned into an 11 mile run.

With all that, my calf muscles felt the best they had in 2.5 weeks this morning.  They weren't 100% but definitely better.  I wore them again on tonight's run and I had my 2nd best 6 mile run ever at 7:32 pace.  My best 6 miler was at 7:16 pace; however, tonight's run included 700+ feet of elevation gain.  The 7:16 run had 25.

New Kicks
TKB and I went to the KC Marathon expo.  I actually went with the expectation of buying the calf sleeves at an expo discounted price.  Not only did they not have the Zensah line, there was no discount with the brand that was for sale (granted, I didn't look at every booth).  Let's be honest here, all they had for sale were lame black and white colors.  So I eventually walked around and found the Mizuno rep.  My 2nd order of business was buying running shoes because I was over 500 miles on the current pair.  Once I hit 400 I start looking for a new pair.

I always buy the Mizuno Inspire line.  This shoe is a stability shoe because of a pronation "problem" I have with my running style.  I ended up talking to the Mizuno rep who showed me a line of lightweight shoes.  I've been interested in trying running flats as I've started to land more on my mid- to fore-foot (at least at the start of my training runs and races).  "Flats" have much less of a heal so it helps force you to land closer to the front of your foot, which is suppose to be a more efficient running style.  When you land on your heal, it creates a breaking action that your legs have to overcome.

She showed me the Mizuno Elixir 7 shoe.  While not a true running flat, it's definitely lighter. 9.3 ounces for the Elixir and 10.9 for the Inspires or about 14% lighter.  It definitely has a smaller heal rise as well and probably not as much stability support but enough to not be considered a "neutral" shoe.

Since I've been wanting to try a faster shoe, it was an easy decision.  I did my first run on Tuesday and wore them tonight as well (both 6 miles).  They feel great and I'm definitely glad to add them to the rotation.  I will probably use my normal Inspire shoes for longer runs.  You can also see these shoes in my previous post, but here is a close-up:

Tiger Stripes!  (Also know as Mac OS X 10.4 -- Mac geek humor)
Speaking of adding the shoes to my rotation, this is the first time I've had two pairs of shoes at the same time.  This means I need to start tracking the miles better for each shoe.  Normally I just remember the day I switched a use my training logs to add it up.  Luckily, dailymile has an easy way to tag equipment in your log entries.

Random Thoughts From Chicago & Andrew Somora Foundation 5k

A couple things that didn't make it in my post about Chicago (or maybe it did.  It's late and I'm tired but I can't sleep... so you get a new post):

  • When trying to get rid of your half-filled (I'm an optimist) water bottle from the middle of the corral, lob it over the crowd of runners.  Don't beam some un-expecting runner in the neck 10 feet away with the velocity of a major league pitcher.  Didn't happen to me but I witnessed it.  How would you like to start your race with a migraine?
  • While trying to have fun and not cry about my legs wanting to fall off, I gave some high five to people in the crowds.  I heard one person say, "ooh, that hurt".  I guess that's how the receiving end of a 8.5 - 9 MPH high five feels.  Sorry.
  • Lots of signs about poop on the marathon course.  Love it.
  • Lots of signs about Paul Ryan on the marathon course.  He must be fast or something.
  • Dear sir holding the sign "Don't let your mind win!".  Please hold that sign around mile 13 and not 22.  It's too late.
  • Chicago Marathon's elevation map looks like this "_____________/". (stolen from some post somewhere)
  • Chicago was the first race I used "throw gloves".  These are $2 gloves purchased at the local running store for the purpose of dumping them after the start of the race.  For the next race that I have throw gloves, I'm going to put my twitter handle and blog address to see if that person finds me.  No, I will not put "I have stamina, call me (xxx) xxx-xxxx." This is in response to the "You have stamina, call me (xxx) xxx-xxxx" signs.  [Unrelated: my mind thinks stamina is spelled "stimina".  Had to correct it both times]
  • No matter how many times I run 26.2 miles, I will NEVER grasp the concept of running 26.2 miles.
  • I nursed back a specific issue with the my right calf; however, both left and right calf muscles have had a general achey feeling since Chicago.  I definitely need new running shoes (550+ miles now), which is likely the culprit.  They are arriving Thursday.  I received a pair of compression leg sleeves today that I'm planning try out too but that's more part of my long distance race planning.
  • Chicago (and the Blues 'N Brew 10 Miler) boosted a lot of my confidence in running.  Based on those results, I've been picking up the pace in my training runs knowing I can handle the pace.
Upcoming Race - Bringing Up The Rear 5K

If you remember from my Hospital Hill Half Marathon Race Report (Go ahead and read it.. I'll wait... OK.  Welcome back), a friend of mine is helping put on a 5k at English Landing Park this Sunday.  It's to fundraise for the Andrew Somora Foundation which helps "families cope with the financial burdens of a colon cancer diagnosis."  Andrew lost his life to colon cancer a year ago and his wife Julie started this Foundation in his honor.  This 5k is among many of the events used as a fundraiser for the Foundation.

TKB and I signed up for the event, as well as my mother!  My Mom informed me tonight that she has been getting her training in with a couple 2.5 mile walks.  She'll do great! I've been able to convince a bunch of friends to run as well, so if you are free this weekend and you are in KC, please considering participating.  The race is only $30 and you can register here or at the race Sunday morning.  It starts at 9AM.  They recently posted on Facebook that they had 466 people registered.  That's awesome!!!  It should be interesting considering the size of English Landing Park.

I really have no expectations for this event in terms of time goals.  It would be interesting to see where I am with a 5k considering how my marathon-turn-ultra training is going.  I actually have to work all day on Saturday, so I won't be able to get any running done then.  So I am thinking about getting up as early as I can to get a long run in and then just take it easy at the 5k.  I'll be honest though.  I really don't like running at English Landing Park.  This is a crushed gravel trail.  I've done many pace runs at this park this year and the loose gravel actual hurts a little more on the legs since I don't get as good of a grip.  It seems my times are 15 - 30 seconds per mile slower on the gravel portions of the trail than when I get on pavement. I'm probably just being a big baby though.  Obviously, I don't do any true trail running.

Well, that's all for now.  

I will, however, leave you with this captivating image:

The tall skinny ones...

Even my watch has orange.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Race Report: Chicago Marathon 2012

Travel Day
TKB and I met up with Joe VI at KCI around 9am the day before the race for our flight.

I guess if 50% of your training miles are together, you tend to think alike.  I didn't check to see if our cycles had aligned yet.
Once arrived in Chicago, a quick orange line train to downtown and we were soon checked into our hotel where we met up with Ben. Off to the Health Expo and Packet Pickup we went!  We weren’t exactly sure where McCormick Place was but we decided to hoof it.  The hotel people said it was about a mile away.  Actually, it was two miles but we were OK with it.  Our training plan called for two miles that day, so why not a leisurely walk?

Halfway there, we picked up the fifth member of our clan, Ken.  Ken happened to be in Chicago for a wedding, so it was absolutely perfect.

The Health Expo was huge.  It had your garden variety booths of local races and running stores but also had the major vendors like Nike, Mizuno, Brooks, Gatorade, and so on.  Packet Pickup was painless, as you would expect from a major event like Chicago.

They had a wall with every registered participant.  Found me.

See... found me.... can you "found" me?

We probably spent about two hours at the expo before it was time to get Ken and TKB back to the hotels.  (Ken was staying at The Drake Hotel while we at the Congress Plaza).  TKB was Kenny’s date for the wedding, which was perfect because Joe VI, Ben, and I were going to be pretty boring company.

While TKB was getting ready, we took off for dinner.  We eyed a pasta place but decided to stop at Potbelly’s instead.  Potbelly’s is a local sub shop so I had a sub with veggies and chicken.  Something light to match up with the pasta dinners and lunches I had been having for three days straight.

After stopping at a CVS and a bakery for a 12 pack of water, Gatorade, banana, and a bagel, we were back to the hotel around 5:30.  The rest of the evening was spent watching TV and getting ready for the morning.  I had a date with a melatonin at 10:00pm and off to slumberland I went.

The alarm went off at 5:00am.  Bagel & banana downed.  I got dressed and woke up Joe VI for a trip to Dunkin Donuts for some wake-me-up-and-race juice.  After last week’s race, I decided to add this to the mix.  I’m not sure if it does anything but it seemed to work then.

Thanks to this, I dunked a few things about 30 minutes later.
This walk for coffee helped settle some nerves.  According to the forecast in the week leading up to the race, it was going to be starting in the upper 30s.  My cell phone read 43° and seeing 40s made a whole world of difference.  I was prepared to use my arm warmers and start the race in a fleece sweater if needed!

Our plan was to be out of the hotel at 6:45, get a warm-up jog in, and head to the start corrals by 7:00. By getting in 30 minutes early, we hoped to get somewhat close to the front of Corral “B”.  Our plan was foiled a bit because being on the top of the 14th floor hotel made it a challenge to get down to the lobby.  We waited for a long time to get an elevator that wasn’t already full. People from lower floors were getting in it while it was traveling up.

It excited me knowing that someone at a homeless shelter is wearing a KC Royals shirt.
We soon found a set of port-a-potties with no lines and then jogged over to our start corral.  I guess we got our warm up jog in anyway.  I’m not sure what time we got to our starting position in the corral but it was after the national anthem.

After 7:20 the corrals were closed and the elites were introduced. I decided at that time that the long sleeve shirt had to go.  I getting rather warm amongst the bodies of Corral B.  I still held onto my $1.00 gloves I was wearing though.  Soon enough the crowd lurched forward a few times and we were officially off and running!

Miles 1 – 3
If you were lucky enough to catch my auto-post at 7:35am on Sunday, you would have read that I threw out my pre-race plans for the marathon.  I registered for this with the intent of Boston qualifying (BQ) and so I’m going to do everything I could to achieve it.  I planned out the first 16 miles of the race to match my capabilities.  If I blew up and even missed a PR, then I was still going to be happy that I tried.

Planned: So miles 1 – 3 were going to be 8:00 minute pace, 7:45 pace, and 7:30 pace.

Running through downtown Chicago was a battle of GPS reception with the tall buildings and the occasional tunnel.  I have a footpod but it’s not as accurate.  I did elect to use the auto-lap feature instead of manually marking the miles, which was good because I missed the first mile marker.

Actual (via Garmin): 7:59, 7:14, 7:40

Huh?! This data was impacted by the poor GPS reception.  I knew this around mile 2, so I did a quick calculation that I needed to hit mile 3 in 23:15 to be on target and I think I was a bit ahead of it.  Fine with me.

I was still feeling great!  I’m hitting my goals and the systems check read, “FANTASTIC!”

Miles 4 – 6
These miles were supposed to be at BQ pace of 7:14.  I wanted to settle into the pace to see if I could manage it.  I was still feeling good. My breathing didn’t sound like a horn from a clown car.  My perceived effort was still in check.  I decided earlier in the week not to have my Heart Rate on my first Garmin screen. I knew that if I would watch this I would slow down with concerns about blowing up late in the race.  Since I had already decided that “blowing up” would be OK, no need for that read out.

Actual: 7:08, 7:17, 7:13

We are out of the skyscrapers at this point, so I’m trusting these figures a bit more.

How about that?!  I’m still hitting my mark.  My body is still feeling great.  I’m starting to feel a little labored but I’m cruising along.  I did take a gel at mile 5.

I had caught up with the 3:15 pace group while running down La Salle around mile 4 to 5. They were a huge pack of people.  I had made a conscious decision to move to the southbound lanes of La Salle as it is divided by a median but once I hit these people I moved out because I couldn’t pass.  That was probably why mile 5 was a little slower.

Something that was kind of neat was spotted during this stretch.  I saw people taking down tables off to the side of the road.  It was the tables that held the hydration bottles for the elites.  They don’t necessarily take cups from volunteers but have actual water bottles waiting for them on a table in the middle of the road.  They just snag one up and run on.  I could also see the helicopter used for videoing the elite’s race.

Miles 7 – 9
Goal: Start catching up with 3:10

I had decided to set the Virtual Partner (VP) on my watch at a 7:14 pace.  So when I hit mile 7, I could check that and see how far behind I was.  My ultimate plan was to shoot for straight 7 minute miles until I caught them.

Actual: 6:57, 7:07, 6:54

My VP said I was .18 of a mile (or around 1 minute, 15 seconds) behind them at the start of mile 7.  I had to take this with a pack of salt tablets because I knew my watch wasn’t as accurate as it needed to be and I was likely further behind them.

My splits were right on target of straight 7:00s for the average pace.  Systems check was still great!

It was at this point during the race that I started to play mind games.  I was already working the scenario of when I would tell myself “BQ was lost.”  By starting that now while I still could push through, I thought it would help me later.

It was also at this point that I shed my gloves.

Miles 10 – 12
Goal: Wherefore art thou, pace group 3:10?

My VP said I was about a football field length behind them.  I kept hunting for 3:10 pace group bibs. People who signed up for a pace group were given bibs to put on their backs.  Every time I would see one of these I would hope they were for 3:10.  Most were 3:15 but I would also see an occasional 3:05.  Did I pass the 3:10?!  Surely, no.

Actual Splits: 7:03, 7:05, 7:16

Whoa!?  I’m still hitting around 7:00s!  And I was still feeling good!  My legs were starting to talk and the balls of my feet were definitely noticeable, but nothing I wasn’t already prepared for.  The pain was in the legs but I could keep it pushed down.  My cardio was still doing very very well.

The one 7:16 did include some inclines on a bridge but I probably shouldn’t blame that.  I did make myself slow slightly though.

Gel at mile 10.

Miles 13 – 15

Could I possibly be slaughtering my half-marathon time?!   We were back in the downtown area and my watch was going to be a little questionable.

Actuals: 6:51, 6:50, 7:19

Whoa again!  Two sub-7s through the half marathon point?  The legs were starting to notice some wear now.  As you will see, this was the last time I would see anything under 7:00 pace.

Even though my VP had told me I had well passed the 3:10 pace group, I still never saw them.

Half marathon time: 1:35:24.  That’s over 10 minutes faster than my existing half marathon PR!

Gel at mile 15.

Miles 16 – 18

The plan was to have caught the 3:10 group by now and I did not.  My legs were killing me at this point.  I kept wishing, begging, pleading to every muscle fiber to keep up the turnover.

Actuals: 7:26, 7:35, 7:56

At mile 18 I finally hit the point I was talking about earlier: “BQ is lost” had finally come.  I tried with all my might to push harder.  I tried kicking up the pace for 100 meters just to rejuvenate my legs.  It wasn’t working.  The legs wouldn’t kick over faster.  But you know what……

I had the biggest smile on my face.

I had made it to mile 16!  I had matched my pacing strategy to near perfection and it simply wasn’t good enough.  My 25K time (15.5 miles) was at a pace of 7:17.  Those 3 seconds off the pace added up over the course of the 15.5 miles amounted to never seeing the 3:10 group.

The average pace had also taken its toll on my legs.  Usually when I say that I “blew up” I generally refer to hitting the wall or running my heart at the red-line so much that it needs a breather.  All of that felt fine, it was the beating I had put on my legs that was slowing me down.

It was also around these miles that the clocked had ticked past 2 hours and 5 minutes of racing.  By this time the elites had started crossing the finish line.  Crazy.

Miles 19 – 21

Goal: 7:14 Pace
Actuals: 8:29, 9:08, 9:37

I was definitely being passed by lots of people as I slowed down.  I was starting to play leapfrog with some people but also passing others…. even people who looked faster than me.  I saw some people leaving the course.  I was still surviving and moving along… just at a much slower turnover.  Looks like they had the same plans as me and was just as successful.

I think it was at this point that I was walking the aids stations. Not the entire aid stations because they all spanned TWO city blocks.

Mile 22 – 24
Goal: 7:00 Pace

Actuals: 9:49, 8:44, 8:58

At the 21.5 mile I had my first thoughts of dropping out of the race because it finally happened.  It was something that has never happened to me in any race of any distance.  My left hamstring seized up on me.  It was an awkward stop.  Even worse was the timing.  We were coming up on a turn and I had positioned myself to the inside.  So now I’m hobbling around the corner hoping I don’t impede anyone’s race trying to cut the corner as well.

I hobbled to a stop eventually when I was out of the way and stretched a bit.  I drank some Gatorade to get some electrolytes in me.  I started again.  One step, then two, then a bit faster pace and I was back to cruising along under 9 minute pace.

In my previous marathons I would stop to stretch after mile 20 so this was mostly on target.

Miles 25 – 26
Goal: 7:00 Pace
Actuals: 9:29, 9:35

Well, the sub-9:00 pace didn’t last long but that’s OK.  Walking the aid stations a little longer now and there are a bit more of them.  At this point, the race had turned back north onto Michigan Avenue.  I could see the McCormick Place where the Health Expo was held and thought, “That was a looong way to walk yesterday and now I’m running it?!”

Quit your complaining, you are almost done!!!

Mile 26.2
Goal: Go crazy!
Actual: eh… who really knows.  My Garmin distance was off.

I had been envisioning this moment in my head.  I watched a documentary over a year ago called “Spirit of the Marathon” where they filmed a handful of people training to run their first marathon at Chicago.  It is very inspirational.  I remember watching them turn onto Roosevelt Rd. and then down Columbus Dr. I was finally doing it myself.  I actually thought the stretch down Columbus Dr was longer from the film but right as I turned there was the red sign with big white letters: “FINISH.”  There were bleachers on both sides for spectators (mostly cleared out since the elites had finished nearly an hour and a half earlier.)  It was very cool.

I look like I'm running about 1 mph.  Honestly, I probably am.

Finish: 3:29:26
Age Group: 681 / 3,502
Overall: 4,047 / 37,455

I had lost Joe VI almost immediately under the start line.  I knew he was going to take off to chase down the 3:05 group, so I had tried to not let him take me with his pace.  I was definitely thinking a lot about him in the last 10 miles of the race as I finally allowed my mind to wander away from the pain. I was looking forward to seeing how he did and to hear about his race.  While he didn’t reach his BQ goal either, he did complete his very first marathon in a great time.  Good job, Joe VI!!!

Apparently the girl behind Joe literally fell apart.  A quick tape job and she's back at it.

Ben was also on the course still as he started in a wave later than us.  He was completing his second marathon and he also got a stellar PR too!

Ben in that sweet sweet Adidas jacket (see below).

Once again, this is a world-class event. You walk about half a city block before reaching anything.  They have to make room for 45,000 people showing up at the finish line (something other races have trouble with, even smaller ones).  First up is the space-aged warming blanket (Yes, Please!), then your medal (Very Cool!), then a bunch of refueling options (YES, Please!), and then the free post-race beer (YES, PLEASE!!!).

312 Urban Wheat.  So good.
TKB was wandering around Grant Park trying to get to me.  I eventually caught up with Joe VI and we collectively decide to meet-up in front of the hotel.  As you can guess by now, our hotel was extremely close to the start/finish line.  It was across Michigan Avenue from Grant Park.  Thank you, Lauren (Joe VI’s wife), for getting it reserved within days of registering for the race back in February!  This saved us a lot of time.

Days Later…
It’s Tuesday after the race and I’m still sore.  I think I have a lot to learn with recovery.  Compared to my previous marathons (and half-ironman), I don’t remember being this sore this far out. It could be because I pushed myself harder than any other race.

I did skip the ice bath (because the bathtub would still be filling up today) and elected to drink pop and beer instead of water the rest of the day.  Monday was a lot of walking around (good) but I should have done some stretching as well (not so good).  The dehydrating flight home wasn’t all that great either.

The hope is to get a short jog in Wednesday morning to get back into things.  I do have a 50K coming up!

Final Thoughts
When I tell people my goal was 3:10 and then turn around to tell them I finished 3:29 may sound like I had a bad day, but just the opposite.  I pushed myself farther than I expected I would.  BQ may not be in the works this year or next but I’m seeing things that make me look forward to putting it back on the board.

One Last Thing
As I posted on Facebook, this day had double meaning. I wouldn't have been able to complete this race without the love and support of TKB.  The marathon also marked "mile 11" of our life long ultra-marathon.  I love you, Tricia!

The sign TKB was holding for me.

Worth It!

Dinner at Giordano's. Nom Nom Nom.
Ben getting ready for his start.

The back of his sweet, sweet jacket.