Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting back on that horse...

I have had a difficult time finding the drive to start running again since my marathon.  It's like my next planned marathon (either Steamboat in June or Colfax in May) is so far away I keep making excuses.  I was dealing with an abdominal wall strain during the first few weeks and since then I get out for a run or two a week.  Each time it is less easy to run how I want.

I am walking a half marathon distance with my mom on Sunday.  It will take us some time but I think it's the perfect thing to just unwind for a few hours and recharge my batteries.  We make excuses and don't take care of ourselves too often.  I am feeling that.  I fortunately have watched my weight stay under 165 but I need to run to stay fit.

I have enjoyed time with my family.  October is a very bad month for us.  My father-in-law was lost two years ago and I talked about it HERE.  My wife and in-law family are a strong bunch of people but their rock will forever be gone and an early loss of life is never easy.  It has also been nice to enjoy a football season after spending last year very much wrapped around my love for running. 

So I will get back on that horse to running 25-50 miles a week but I have enjoyed my family time, CU and Broncos football, the circus, recharging the batteries and enjoying life.  A nice long walk with my mom will be a good start to getting on that running horse.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ADT Marathon Recap, Reflections & What's Ahead...

Well, my goal of 3:45 came and went at Mile 17.5 under the bridge of Woodmen Road when the 3:45 pacer passed me as a cramp in my right calf completely stopped me in my tracks for about a minute and a half.  My finishing time was 3:55:42.  This is a full 8:34 slower than my first marathon at Myrtle Beach or roughly what I am supposed to run every mile at to achieve a 3:45 marathon.  I would like to say I am upset, but instead I went from down and dejected at Mile 18 and through about 23 miles when every mile crawled by to feeling pretty great about myself and the whole experience by the time I finished.  I cramped off and on from Mile 17.5 until about Mile 24.7 where the Jack Quinn's Running Club awaited at the final aid station.  I had my final wind kick up there and my calves completely relax finally.  But let's start the night before...

After a long day, the wife, Andi, and I arrived down in Monument in the dark after an exciting Colorado Buffaloes victory.  The Maps on the iPhone tried to get us completely lost but we managed to get to the Inn at Palmer Divide with a little help from my Aunt D and Uncle Tim.  (Note: This place could be a $200/night place with some remodeling to the bathrooms and updating the bedrooms, but like my Aunt said it had a nice resort feel to it with a small family ran feel to it.  It is only a $100/night and I wish we had a day or two more to enjoy the Springs area and stay there.  Well worth the money!!!)  Sophie was waiting in her PJs in the room with the Harrington Harriers in bed with "her" cousins Katee & Emily, which are actually my cousins but they are closer to Sophie's age than they are mine so I understand but I digress (as usual).  We quickly said good night and headed downstairs to get a quick bite and to get Sophie to bed.  I prepped for the race while Andi got to bed as well.  After about 45 minutes I was ready for the next morning which was now less than a 5 hour alarm away.  It didn't matter, I slept poorly and had to get up to go pee a couple times.  When the alarm went off at 3:50 a.m., I laid in bed for another 10-15 minutes and just relaxed.  I finally said no more delaying this and got up.  I ate rice cooked the day before in the bathroom on the floor so as not to wake the family.  Finally around 5:00 I couldn't wait any longer and I ventured out of the room to just relax a little.  Around 5:15 I headed back in the room to grab some more fluids and saw a nervous and excited runner.

Him and I headed up to the lobby and talked while he debated heading to the start at 5:15.  The young man's name was Stephen.  He was a recent college grad that was shooting for a 2:55 to ensure he gets in to Boston by being 10 minutes under his qualifying time.  I wish I had another hour to talk with Stephen.  He seemed like a real down to earth great person with a positive outlook on life.  He couldn't wait any longer and at 5:40 rushed to ensure his spot up front with the elite runners.  I later found out Stephen finished at 2:59:35.  I am hopeful he is able to get in when the qualifying time is opened to all runners that have qualified rather than just the 20 minutes and 10 minutes faster groups.

Around this time I headed up to see if my Aunt D or anyone was up from the Harrington group.  My Aunt D was sitting at the little lobby area near their room and I hung out with her the next 15 minutes talking about Sophie and her night.  Around 6 she decided to check on my Uncle and I hurried downstairs to do my last preparations and we were out of the hotel by 6:15.  A quick 3 minute drive got my Aunt Dee and I to the start and I did my traditional pee next to a bush to make sure I was good.  I felt much better physically than I did in my horrific Dog Days Half and felt like I had prepared my fueling much better and given myself plenty of times to relieve myself of the issues I had in July.  I stood at the start with my Aunt D and honestly felt like I was just going for a run.  Unlike the Myrtle Beach Marathon, I didn't feel nervous or focused on anything in particular, I was just going for your every day 26.2 mile run.

Before I get into my run and other things, I first have to give my thoughts on the marathon course, the people who put on this race and whatever else there is to add to it.  First, the course is absolutely gorgeous for a marathon.  The views of the Air Force Academy, the feel of being in the mountains though you really are only in what is the foothills of the Springs area are amazing.  It is a race that should only continue to gain popularity.  I wasn't fortunate enough to go to registration but I hear it was quick and easy and didn't require much hassle.  The aid stations have plenty of cups of Gatorade and Water stacked so even if you only manage to get one from a volunteer, grabbing a second one as I often did is of great help.  There was plenty of places they offered gel packs throughout and there was plenty of aid stations placed in perfect locations throughout.  The trail is well maintained even with heavy rainstorms in the area for much of the past month.  Mainly, again, the views of this course area amazing and the fact it is downhill but not leg destroying downhill is a reason I will run this race again!

And suddenly my run and the Harriers ran began with my Aunt and I wishing each other a good run (this without hearing the fact we had even started because of all the excitement and nerves from the group) and with the first mile of the ADT was a warm-up for anyone slower than the Top 20 runners because the trail around Palmer (Dry) Lake is far too narrow for nearly anything but to just go with whatever the group ahead of you is doing.  The 3:45 pacer was within eyesight and that was good enough for me.  No reason to run too hard the first mile even if it's a little slow.  When we started heading downhill and down the American Discovery Trail it started opening up a little and you had more than your shoulder width to run.  I ran it slow and so did the 3:45 pacer I noticed for the next couple miles. At around Mile 2.75 the sun shown over a ridge and hit me hard and I felt the warmth of my father-in-law rush through me and smiled brightly and knew it was a great day to go for a run with the weather, the pure beauty of that trail and I felt amazing.  Finally at Mile 3.75 I crushed the first little uphill of the course and was almost on the heels of the pacer.  After about a mile of just hanging with the 3:45 group, I kept my pace going and couldn't hear him chit chatting with the group once I got to about Mile 6.  Around Mile 6.5 I saw Andi, Sophie, Tim, Emily and Katee turning around to cheer me on before the checkpoint.  It was good to see them and I felt really good.  I kept churning when I knew I'd see them again at the relay transition point at 7.8 miles.  I gave Sophie a kiss and Andi a high-5 and felt amazing.  I knew I was on a good pace.  At 8.5 Miles you hit your first real hard hill up and I killed that hill while other marathoners walked it and looked a little dejected.  At Mile 9.5 a gentleman pulled up alongside of me and we ran along side one another for about a mile.  I asked him the time when we hit the 10 mile marker and we were at 1:25 which was right on pace.  He was a nice guy and we had light conversation about how beautiful certain aspects of the course were and before I know it some skinny tall bastard wearing orange is in my peripheral vision and I knew it had to be Tim Harrington!  I knew my Aunt had crushed it and they were far ahead of their pace and should easily beat 3:45.  Tim and I ran together for about a mile and a half. I felt great and he gave me some pointers. 

We saw a view similar to this but a little bit zoomed out.  This part of the trail has amazing ridges with drop offs of a hundred or more feet but is amazing.  At Mile 12 Tim bid me adieu and took off while I kept plodding along.  There was a lot of downhill and some uphill at this point where you went through the wooded areas.  I felt good when I exited the heavy treed around Mile 15.25 just before Ice Lake which looked like this.
At Mile 15.5 (didn't see no lake) I saw port-a-potties and felt like there was no better time than then to take a quick pee break.  I exited and saw the 3:45 pacer and went well he obviously picked up the pace!  I knew I had as well.  I took off and right at Mile 16 saw two young bucks right off the trailhead while I was all by myself.  It was an amazing site as they both looked into my eyes.  I felt great and then things started turning a little sour within minutes, I felt my leg twinge a little and a loss of energy.  It was very sudden.  That mile to where I'd see the family around relay transition point 2 just past the 17.1 mile mark was brutal but I kept going strong passing people on the uphill even feeling a little concerned with my pace and like I was slowing.  When I saw the family I tried to put on a strong face, but I knew cramps had kicked in.  I had just finished a gel and was just wanting to take leg cramp pills to keep myself from doing so if possible.  I think I rushed it and washed them down rather than taking them how I should have but still it was too late.  As soon as I got to the bottom of the hill and out of their site and under the bridge to Woodmen Road, my calf completely seized and would not let go (and where we started this blog post).  I just rubbed it and did what I could but it took a little to finally relax.  I walked it off about 15 seconds once I got comfy and started a slight jog.  The run until cramp began.  Right around Mile 18, I was on a pedestrian bridge that almost made me feel like I was going to pass out.  I thought I was starting to lose it but realized it was a very bouncy bridge and I hadn't lost my mind and I was fine.  This was a war on the mind for the next 4 miles.  All I could tell myself is get to your family at Goose Gossage Park at 22 miles and the last transition point to the relay.  That 4 miles seemed like a death march.  I would walk/run all the way there.  My family knew at this time I was not doing well.  They had their phones out to take pictures and I gave a 2 thumbs down but decided to give a good one as well.  It was good to see them but I was negative at this point.  I think I said I'm cramping like a bitch and just shaking my head.  My Aunt D really tried to pick me up and Andi, Sophie and Emily tried to as well.  I spent the next mile wondering how long I would take and if I got to Mile 23 I would be lucky.  Suddenly my attitude changed on an unexpected uphill I walked with a guy wearing a BEEF A great source of protein shirt (after reading Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run I was mocking this shirt because from my past year and a half I have found Beef to be an only if there is no other option meal) I had seen early on in the marathon and who had passed me off and on.  He was more concerned about his heart rate while I was just complaining about having cramps in my calves.  I suddenly got a new wind.  I was over next to Colorado College and while I couldn't see much of the college the run was more scenic and gorgeous and I knew I was doing better than most people out there.  At Mile 24, I walked up a little hill with a man from Orlando, FL.  He was humbled by the altitude and based off what other sea level people go through when they come here and I have read about, I felt for him.  He was struggling and just shooting to beat the 4-hour pacers.  I felt the same way and when I saw that last aid station and walked as I drank my last of fluid and electrolytes, my calves finally released. 

With right around a mile to go I saw my Uncle Tim had ran all the way back to check on how I was doing.  He had ran from Mile 7.8 to the finish with my cousins and had obviously hightailed uphill to check on me and "bring me home".  I think he was a little surprised to see me running as fast as I was.  I was back around marathon pace and suddenly my calves were completely fine.  I didn't think it would last so I went for broke until they would try to seize up again.  I have to tell you, I was probably showing off and ran about 30-45 seconds faster that last mile than I could have on my own.  I am grateful that he came back because it helped me catch 2 or 3 people within the last half a mile.  The temps were hot and this part is the ugliest part of the trail but it opens up to a beautiful view of America the Beautiful Park and this glorious structure with it's awesome water falling.  I wanted to be flying through the middle of that when I saw it.  I kicked it into a higher gear but the finish was far enough away I knew I might just stop and sit in the water but I kept going.

Then I got about 50 feet from the finish and saw my wife and daughter and cousins with my Aunt there and felt amazing.  I had kicked the last 1.5 miles ass and was finishing strong how I envisioned finishing a marathon.  The previous 7 miles of pain and doing between 9:30 and 10:30 miles didn't matter, just that I was tearing it up.  The best part was my wife and family had read my mind without me saying it and had Sophie ready to finish with me.  I grabbed Sophie's hand and we crossed the finish line with the clock showing 3:56:03. 
As you can see Sophie has much better form than I do and has fortunately got the Kunkel genetics in fast twitch muscle fibers.  The people at the finish were yelling to be careful.  What they didn't know is I would be lucky to keep up with this little speedster (fastest in her class by far)!!!

My eyes are closed because I almost lost it and began crying.  The emotion of having your family with you is something that I didn't realize how amazing it was until I crossed that finish line.  I didn't care I was over 10 minutes over my goal.  I cared that my wife and daughter were there to be a part of it, that I had beat 4 hours and the Harrington Harriers who have been some of my biggest supporters were there with my immediate family supporting me during the run.  It was a great experience.

I had a great experience in my first marathon finishing the LIFE challenge my Uncle and brother let me join in on and having my mom and brother's family there to support me.  But I was so close to my goal time, had never ran a marathon and it was more about the goal, the goal, the goal.  After that marathon, I ran this one as a long, tough run with great support along the way.  I had a goal, I still want that goal, but finishing and doing something you love and having your family be a part of something that is a challenge and great accomplishment just completing is a far more important than what the clock says and it made my day!

My day was made better when I was able to enjoy Taco Bell again for the first time in weeks and to get an email from my mom that had her time and distance for the Selena Half Marathon (I made that name up) that she had done the same day.  I am so proud of my mom.  She has went from being completely inactive and making work a priority over herself for far too long.  She has kicked butt fully committing herself to take care of her body and has lost around 20 lbs and can now go 13.1 miles.  She never thought it would be possible but I knew she could and am so glad she has changed her life.

So what's next?  I don't know.  I want to run a 3:45 full marathon and 1:50 half marathon before I turn 33 in June.  I would like to finally re-test for my Professional Engineers License in April.  Mainly, I'd like to help my wife get in better shape and happy with herself a little more.  She is a gorgeous woman to me that I love no matter what but I know she would be happier to be in better shape.  My goal is to be supportive in that role as a husband and as a coach to her.  What else is next?  Who knows but to have people like my wife, daughter, mom, brother & his family, Uncle & Aunt, my in-laws is what is most important for whatever does lie ahead down the road.  Either way, I know part of my life will always  be running because running is part of a tool to help you change your life like it has mine.  No matter how much you think you may hate it, starting slow and building up slowly you will see how much it can improve your life and help change you for the better.  Taking 30 minutes to 4 hours to go for a run your mind is allowed to open a lot and your happy endorphins will make you realize while it's not easy, it's rewarding for your MEPS (Touched more in on this post about improving yourself Mentally, Emotionally, Physically & Spiritually) .  Now if I can work on eliminating cussing and saying yes more to my wife instead of being the hard nosed person that has to argue the fact I am right all the time, even though we know the wife is always right. :)  Have a great day and enjoy your run!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ADT Marathon Preview...

Alright, Marathon 2 is in my sights.  American Discovery Trail (ADT) Marathon on Labor Day is a point to point marathon from Monument to Colorado Springs (more precisely America the Beautiful Park).  Last year I ran the first leg of the relay for my Aunt D, because she was having serious knee issues.  I ran around an 8:00/mi average over my 7.8 mile leg and saw parts of the other 3 legs.  So, I will kind of do a  breakdown of the marathon by the relay legs. This is also where I will be seeing family, getting some goodies maybe and getting my time (I don't wear a watch when I run) so I will break down each segment (at the end I will break down the time goals of each leg):

Leg 1: The first leg of the relay is 7.8 miles and starts at Palmer Lake in Monument.  Palmer Lake was pretty much a dried up hole last year (hoping the rainy last month has helped it out this year), but it is a great start for the marathon, being as you run on a dirt trail that is flat for the first mile so you can get your legs warmed up rather than start burning them up running downhill right off the bat.  This part of the ADT trail is called the New Santa Fe Regional Trail.  It is all on loose gravel and downhill!  There is only one real uphill during this portion around Mile 3.75.  I tend to run my uphills with little effort of late and feel like the few people I am running close with will lose some ground here.  There are some other minor ups, but it's mostly steady downhill starting elevation of 7254 and drop to 6700.  This leg of the run is scenic and very open with tree-lined areas and subdivisions occasionally but some wide open space through much of it.  At the end of Leg 1, there is some up and downs.  This is where there is a sizeable uphill at the transition zone.

Leg 2: The second leg is 9.3 miles and this is probably the best part of the marathon in my opinion.  The scenes are amazing through this leg and most of it is running through Air Force Academy property.  While I only got to see the last mile of this leg waiting to run with my Uncle until he transitioned to my cousin (last year they had you trek up a mile from Woodmen Rd for a last minute change due to AFA rules) this area had a nice little uphill at Mile 16.5 and was heavily treed.  Based off just driving by this area of I-25 and touring the academy as a kid, this is one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado Springs and while I've never seen a game there, I have always loved the view of the stadium from the highway.  Still this leg has a max elevation of around 6800 and drops to around 6300 so there is a lot more steep downhills I've been told with some nice uphills to re-awaken the legs.  I am excited most for this leg because I will be able to relax and this is where I will probably be at my strongest.

Leg 3: The third leg is 4.9 miles and starts at Edmonson Trailhead.  This is where the loose gravel/dirt trail of the first two legs gives way to concrete paths the remainder of the marathon.  It appears this transition zone is closer to the Woodmen Rd exit and the trek is much shorter for the 3rd leg runner.  This is where we will finally cross I-25 to the east side around Nevada Ave.  We will also finally transition to the Pikes Peak Trail after the New Santa Fe ends.  This area nears I-25 and goes under quite a few main roads off I-25.  It is very industrial/commercial and I am sure this will be where I have to face the wall at some point.  I am hoping it is when I get closer to Goose Gossage Park and where I will have a cheering section in Andi, Sophie, cousin Emily and my Aunt D IF I am not 20 minutes behind my Uncle and cousin Katee.  If that is the case, they will have to wait at the finish for them 2 and I will have crashed big time.  About a 200 foot elevation drop from 6300 to 6100.

Leg 4: The fourth leg is the last 4.2 miles.  I will be looking left a lot or East, because to the right/West is I-25 and more businesses.  The other direction has some beautiful neighborhoods and tree lined area.  This is an area where I will get to see my Uncle Tim's alma mater in Colorado College.  Unfortunately the idiot administrators got rid of the football team my Uncle started 4 years on but I have many memories of Harrington in the secondary as a young kid.  I've also done some work to the Art museum near the campus and this will hopefully hold me over until I am gutting out the last Mile and a half into the open and BEAUTIFUL America the Beautiful Park.  I think I emphasize beautiful because I will be done at this point. Drop from 6100 to just under 6000.

Even with this knowledge of the course, there are a lot of questions running through my head I need to point out first:
  • Did I get enough miles in?
  • How will the warming day affect me?
  • Will my knee hold up that made me take a few months off from getting any significant mileage?
  • Will I cramp in my calves again like I did for Myrtle Beach the last 4+ miles? 
  • Am I going to have stomach or need to use restroom issues like I did for my half marathon in July?
  • How will my legs feel averaging 200 feet of downhill every 4 miles, 1280 total?  Will this cause cramping in other areas I haven't had issues with before?
  • Can I beat the Relay team of my Uncle Tim, Aunt D and Cousins Emily and Katee; aka the Harrington Harriers?
To answer some of these questions I have looked at what I did for Myrtle Beach and looked through all of the experiences of the past year of running when my mileage really increased from casual 20 miles a week to 30+.  So here are my answers
  • Did I get enough miles in?  I looked at Myrtle Beach training plan and while I didn't have a 50 week base built up to it, I noticed that I have ran as many miles as I did the last 15 weeks of that marathon.  Additionally, I have ran more days of 6+ mile runs than I did throughout my training for Myrtle Beach.
  • Warming Day?  Usually on Labor Day, the high is about 80 in Colorado Springs area and fortunately that wouldn't hit until later but it has got up to 90 for this race.  Last year my leg was perfect with clouds and 50s to low 60s temps.  By the time my cousin Katee had finished it was probably high 70s to low 80s.  I don't think heat will be an issue.  I have ran many long runs and intermediate runs in 90 degree temps.
  • Will my knee hold up? I had a scare actually yesterday when I felt soreness for the first time in this training cycle (after I had finally healed from Marathon #1).  My bothersome left knee was tight.  I ran 4 miles anyway, because I am a marathon runner and I must run.
  • Calf cramping? Not sure, but I believe I need to take gels high in Potassium and will take some quinine leg cramp medicine at the halfway point and Mile 18.  My calves cramped the last mile of the Dog Days Half.  I think this can be attributed to two things; 1. Dehydration from using the port-a-poo twice and 2. The OTC2.0 Injinji calf compression socks.  I like them and they felt good to wear after my long run but actually running in them restricted my calves too much.  I think if I am going to do compression gear on my calves, I will need to be sized for them and use sleeves instead. 
  • Stomach Issues? I am someone that needs to use the restroom regularly or too often probably.  Somehow the world came together for my full marathon that I didn't have to use the restroom at all during the race.  I ran a 20 miler a couple weeks ago and didn't have to go either.  There is hope.  I will be getting up 2.5 hours before the start and consume all chia, coffee and food within the first 45 minutes.  This was my biggest downfall for the half I believe.  I didn't give my body long enough to process and had a full sloshy stomach because of it.  Additionally, I will eat smart the night before.  I had too much red sauce and sugars the day before I believe.  I ate a ton the night before the marathon but gave myself adequate time to let it process the next morning.
  • Legs after going downhill 200 feet over every 4 miles on average?  I have ran a downhill half, GTIS in 2012 and ran training runs with a lot of downhill that average more than 200 feet in a 4-mile range.  I seem to do really well and not have leg issues later in the run.  Hope this stays a pattern.
  • The Harrington Harrier Relay vs Ventura solo? This is a competition because my Uncle and I are competitive.  I was almost dumb enough to bet him I could run within 30 minutes of his time for Myrtle Beach but being a rookie and learning from him, decided it was a bad idea.  We don't have a bet other than pride currently.  I am not sure on this either.  My Aunt D has been kicking ass this year since e-mailing me in March how she was going to get back to the person she wanted to.  She has got faster and thus made her leg of 7.8 miles a challenge to get a lead on her.  My Uncle Tim is a machine and even though he just ran a marathon this past weekend his legs will be pretty much normal on Labor Day and I will have at least a 1:30/mi disadvantage over his 9.3 mile leg.  My cousins are active and if their heads are in it, they could really just stay in front of me the whole time and I never catch up during their 4.9 and 4.2 mile legs.
I have this laid out as my plan Race Eve and Race Morning:

  • Around 10-12: Drop Sophie off with The Harrington's
  • Around 1: Arrive at Mile High Stadium... oops, Sports Authority Field and enjoy tailgate with Kunkel Family for next 3 hours awaiting the Buffs starting the Mike MacIntyre era of CU Buffs football with a win over the Lambs of CSU.  This is where while most every one else will be enjoying drinks and fattening foods, I will be consuming water and Gatorade constantly.  This I do not look forward to since the bathroom lines are long and I will need to use them often.
  • After game around 7:30 or 8:00: Head down to Monument and meet up with the Harrington's and Sophie!  I don't know whether I will try to sneak in a bowl of spaghetti for the game or if I will have to eat a late dinner, but I prefer to not eat after 8 so maybe Andi & I will stop for a quick dinner.  Will have to figure this out with her and discuss this with my Uncle since a late dinner may spell similar issues to what I had on my half.
  • 10 p.m:  Need to be in bed.  I will have all needed items out and ready to go for following morning.
  • 4:00 a.m: Wake up and be as quiet as possible.  Shower and consume liquids.  Yes, I like to shower before I make myself smell putrid and it wakes me up.  Get dressed quickly and head out to lobby of Inn at Palmer Divide where I will eat. Rice most likely since I am reading (thanks Scott Jurek for Eat and Run) and seeing the benefits of rice more and more.
  • 5:00 a.m.: Will have all liquids and food taken in.  I will watch some TV, sip some liquids and spend the next hour relaxing.  Relieve myself many times and hopefully fully by departure.
  • 6:10 a.m.: Head to start with Aunt D.  We will have to figure if we are going to be taking a separate car or if Tim will be dropping us off or what.  Consume another banana to help get more potassium in.  Drink some Gatorade.
  • 6:20 a.m.: Last minute port-a-potty/poo chance and be ready to go by 6:30.

Line up near 3:45 pacer and maybe talk to them a little.  I can't let a pacer dictate how I run but I will use him to determine how close or far away I am from my goal.  I am hoping they start off a little fast, so I can pass them before Leg 2.  I am excited for a 3:45 pacer.  Myrtle Beach had the 3:05, 3:35, 4:00 and then like every 30 minutes.  There is a large group between these areas and it's nice to see the ADT realizes this.  (Note: Since this is such a heavy BQ, I think maybe a 3:05 guy to go with their 3:30 and above would help but thanks for the 3:45 pacer for sure.)

I will run the first mile and a half at about 30-45 seconds slower than my marathon pace of 8:35/mi.  I will naturally be running a tad bit faster after that until the Relay Transition at Mi 7.8.  I am going to try to be smart about it and not completely destroy my legs and have lactic acid build-up and hose my chances.  I plan on being at about 1:07 at this time.  I believe my Aunt D will be around 1:11 assuming she runs 9 minute miles.  She may be faster, I am not sure.

After a hello and high five from the wife, kid and I am sure shit talk from my Uncle, I will have anywhere from a 2 minute lead to 5 minute lead over the Harrington Harriers.  Though I wish my Aunt the best run possible, I am hoping I have saved a lot in the tank and have closer to 5 minutes.  My Uncle Tim I have to assume will be running 7:00/mi.  I will be picking it up and hopefully gain ground on the downhills and stay around pace on the uphills.  I am assuming I run this leg around 8:00/mi.  I am assuming my Uncle passes me by Mile 10 if I only have a 2 minute lead and no later than Mile 13 if I have a 5 minute lead.  I am really hoping it's the halfway point so I know I only have 4 miles where I am losing ground to him by 75 seconds or so a mile.  This would put me at 2:22 and the Harrington Harriers at 2:16.

At this transition zone, I will try to take a gu or chew and maybe a leg cramp pill just to try to keep it from happening.  I will then become the hunter after being the hunted.  My cousin Emily is tall for a 13 year old and is a decent runner for her age.  I saw her gut out an 8:15/mi 5k with my Uncle.  My guess is she is a tad slower than this and closer to my marathon pace of 8:35.  I will be running just over 8:00 still at this time.  This would put me at 3:02ish with 4.2 to go.  I will take another gu, get some energy and positive vibes from the family and hopefully see a winded Emily because they are only 4 minutes ahead max and are at a 2:58. 

This is where I will answer a lot of questions.  Katee is shorter than her sister and 12.  She has gotten faster in the last year.  She ran under a 9:00/mi in the 5k we all did running on her own.  I assume with my Uncle and wanting to beat me, should be about 9:35/mi.  This would put the Harriers at around 3:38 and me at the same time.  I honestly would be happy to lose and get 3:45, but the competitive side makes me hope that the weather conditions are right and my legs hold up and I don't lose my pace at the end. 

I will eat a ton of the free food, put on my compression socks and be in misery until draft nigh.
Goal Time is 3:45, Time to Beat is probably 3:38 and I honestly think if I don't have any issues I can hit that but I could have issues galore and be lucky to break 4:00.  That is the power of the marathon, you can never be prepared for everything.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Most fun I've had on a run (Blame it on the Rain)...

Great start when your subject has Milli Vanilli in it. 

I ran around 8 miles yesterday 8/8.  Coincidence?  Actually yes!  My legs feel really good considering I did 50 miles last week and when I went out for this run I was just going out comfortable and not trying to do too much.  The first 3 miles were pretty boring running down 104th but when I turned around and started heading through Turnberry, it got more interesting.  The skies were darkening in many areas up north with the clouds heading towards me and there were 100s of people out in the neighborhood for a back to school night at the elementary there.  The parking situation looked pretty bad and I was glad I am still 12 months away from that.  Of course that makes me equally sad knowing my little baby is no longer one and is less than a year from back to school night!!!  Eek. Well, I felt great and hit a couple of sprints in my run through there.  I wasn't Dash from Incredibles fast but I felt good.  At Mile 5.5 it hit me, I need to get to King Soopers for a quick restroom break and oh those clouds look ominous and I better hurry because they are headed this way.

I got out a few minutes later and BIG FAT RAIN (yes, I just said that like Forrest Gump) was starting to hit the ground.  It wasn't heavy rain but it was good rain.  I was smiling ear to ear and enjoying the run the next 3/4 of a mile with the rain and the warmer temperatures.  It felt amazing and I felt in complete peace.  Then the rain became beyond heavy to flash flood worthy with a mile to go and I heard a huge crack of thunder and knew lightening strikes were within 1/2 a mile or so.  I think I sprinted up the little hill I've done 100 times the fastest I ever have.  At the top of that hill is another 1/2 mile to my house.  I was completely soaked, fortunately I decided to run with my pack so my phone was somewhat being kept from the elements.  I was exhausted when I got a few streets from the house and I could not find a place to run that didn't have at least an inch of running water.  The sidewalks were like little streams and the gutters were little creeks flowing at high levels.  The street my townhome is on had even more water and I finished my run up to the door drenched.  My clothes were dripping, my phone got a little wet (thank you Otterbox from keeping it from getting flooded) and I was exhausted.  My shoes were full of water and my socks could have been used to fuel for another two miles.  I decided to snap a picture of what it looked like the last mile of my run when I got my phone out and was able to snap this.  You can see the BIG FAT rain and the sidewalk stream and creek of the gutter.  It was a blast.  Felt great during the run and the ending made it exciting.

Going out for a 22 miler this weekend, have a 10 mile speed workout today and another 6-8 miles I'll throw in there somewhere.  Yeah, I procrastinated badly this week to get 50-55 miles in this week. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dog Days Half Recap & Review (THINGS NOT TO DO BEFORE A RACE)...

I wish I could say that this race went as planned and leave it at that.  I instead get to share what not to do before a race and make a fool of myself.  Hopefully it will help you not do some of these dumb things when you are prepping for a race.

I woke up just before 5.  I had my race bib pinned and clothes out the night before.  I wanted to wake up so I got a shower. Yes I am a rare breed. I don't like smelling worse after a race so I like to be clean before. Now I don't before a morning run but a race yes. It was 530 before I got out after band-aiding the nipples (Note: I still use the 3M NexCare Waterproof band aids and they are the best thing. They stick to the skin and don't come off after any run. The key is to not touch the other side at all. Otherwise put new ones on right away.), getting dressed and taking the dog out. Felt okay for time but I am always last minute and by the time I had gott coffee, bagel and sorts drinks it was nearly 6. I finished all these in 10 minutes and tried a bathroom break. It didn't do much other than make it 6:20. I left and was still needing to get gas. It was 6:25 before I left the Kimg Soopers by my house near Reunion. Oh crap!  I was cutting it close and my gut was full. I talked to my mom the whole way there and got there about 6:45 but decided rather than a port-a-poo waiting line I would hurry through Caribou Coffee. I felt relieved but it was now about 6 til. I drove the half mile to the parking lot and ran 1/2 a mile to the start after a quick Vasoline application and swig of Powerade. I felt full. I was starting in the last 25 people and knew I set myself up poorly by eating too many carbs and not getting my liquids in until much too late but we were off!!!

I started out a little fast but comfortable pace. I was passing people at a high clip. Around Mile 1.5 I had passed all but probably 50 of the 215 people running.  Things kept going well and the people thinned out on the course and everyone found their rhythm  I felt strong and was doing well uphill.  Problem is my gut kept telling me, idiot, I am full I don't want water or sports drinks.  I want you to empty these carbs.  At Mile 4 I was considering a stop but felt strong.  A mile and a half later I felt strong but knew I needed to get to the Aid Station at 7.25 miles.  When I saw it I was euphoric.  I had only seen about 5 people pass me on their way back and could see there wasn't too many ahead.  I was probably in the Top 40 runners and within my 1:50 goal time.  I did my business and the legs felt good and I had a bump in my step until a 1/2 mile later where I knew my gut was not okay.  I needed to use that aid stations port-a-poos again and I knew there was no chance at 1:50 but I could still keep it under 1:55 maybe.  I finally felt somewhat better but hydrating still was a pain.  My stomach was full and I just couldn't push past my marathon pace even though my legs felt strong and I was not winded at all.  I felt comfortable.  I passed some people that were struggling the rest of the way and kept up with a lady I chatted with briefly about missing her first BQ by less than half a minute due to having to relieve herself.  By her hat, I could tell she had qualified at a later time so obviously she can just use it as a story.  I got ahead of her at about Mile 11 and was ahead until the last 1/2 mile when my legs could not push because I was now dehydrated from by bathroom breaks.  While she and one other guy that passed me had a last push, I was just trying to not cramp.  I crossed the finish line and knew I had beat 1:55, so I felt alright.  My official time was 1:53:22.  I know I spent at least 4 minutes in the port-a-poos and probably could  have ran a 1:48 or so if I had ate smarter.

I feel good.  I ran a time that was respectable with all the issues.  I didn't feel like I was truly pushing it like I have in a couple of the harder parts of my runs on Tuesday mornings with my Uncle Tim.  The course was beautiful with the temperatures in the 60s to 70s, a cooler July morning.  The sun cleared from the clouds though and I could feel the heat increase by 10 degrees pretty fast.  The organizers did a good job of having the course labeled (though I was very familiar with the trail so it was easy for me) and had plenty of volunteers.  They gave away a ton of free swag and had a good amount of food and other post race things for a half, 10k and 5k.  I think their numbers should increase for next year.  The only negatives I would say is that the 3Plenish electrolyte mix was awful and 99% of people know Gatorade or PowerAde as their electrolyte replacements.  It wasn't just my stomach having issues but the taste of the powder.  The other was not having a clock at the finish and one at like mile 7-10.  That was the only two negatives I could say for this event.  Otherwise I was very pleased with how it was ran and All Out Multisport will be in business with races and other events for years to come and will  have me as a competitor again for sure.

Last, huge props to my mom.  She showed up and waited for me through 10:40 even with my tardiness and other issues going on, she picked me up and it was good having someone to talk to and hang out with while I waited for all the other events to happen.  She has been a good supporter of me changing around my LIFE and we are planning on doing a half together where I hope I can help push her through it even when she's feeling like she is done.  She has lost 15 lbs in the last year and really started to increase her activity level doing over 15 miles in a week.  I am very proud of her and excited to be able to do a half with her later this year.

So onto what's happened since and what is next... I ran 50 miles this past week. I was hoping for 60 but with a trip to the Western Slope and back within 48 hours, it's never easy to get miles in with a packed weekend schedule.  Fortunately I did 20 miles Thursday night.  My calves were shot at the end.  The last 2 miles were not easy.  I like the compression socks but am starting to wonder if winter running are better suited for them or to use as recovery for a few hours after a long run.  They almost feel to restrictive like they are causing blood flow issues for the rest of my legs.  I have 55-60 miles planned this week.  I plan on doing a 22 and then 11 miles of Yasso training.  I have all 7 days planned to run, so we shall see.  I am going to try my long run without the OTC2.0 Injinji's just to see the difference in how I feel.  After this week, I'll dive into what my taper is and what my realistic and perfect race goals are for the ADT Marathon.  Until then, enjoy the run, not the runs.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dog Days Half Marathon Goals and ADT Marathon in site...

I feel more than prepared for this half marathon.  I have 4 runs of 14-17 miles.  I have been 30-35 miles for a few weeks.  The problem is, the half marathon is not my goal, it's the full on Labor Day for the ADT Marathon.  We will get to that later, first we will focus on the Dog Days Half.  This race is in Westminster this Saturday, July 27th.  It is on a trail that is half dirt/road base and half concrete that I have ran over a dozen times.  It is one of my favorite trails in the northern suburbs and the views of the mountains are quite impressive.  Additionally it isn't too difficult on the legs and was a great place to train for the Myrtle Beach Marathon.  It has some nice little up and down in it but the elevation gain/drop is only about 150 feet.  I get more than that in my runs near the house.  Other positives of this race are they are giving out a ton of prizes and raffles at the packet pick-up and after the race they have something I heart, breakfast burritos.  They may be in trouble because if there was two things I would do for competitive eating it would be pizza and breakfast burritos.  I will save some for the other finishers though.  Bubba Chinos breakfast burritos are my second favorite behind only Santiagos and it is close.  I look forward to them but I should finish first.  So goals and other thoughts on the race:
  • It is great that the half marathoners start before the 5k and 10k group due to the heat of the day.  The bad news, it starts at 7:00 a.m. so I would have loved an earlier start by like 30 minutes.  The 3 mile marker is where things could get congested.  Based off running a slower first 5k for the half, I still should beat the 5k and 10k runners by 5-10 minutes so I won't have to worry about dodging any of them.
  • The start is where the finish is so Westminster City Park will be seen 3x.  This is great.  It is a nice area that is wide open with a great view of the mountains/flatirons.  Another positive is the last 5 miles where people start questioning themselves is headed back west.  Unfortunately the first mile or two has a crap load of prairie dogs that runners will be cursing at.
  • Aid stations aplenty.  There are 5 aid stations just for half marathon runners, 3 for 10k and 1 for 5k, however if you look at this correct, there is actually double the amount of those.  10 aid stations for 13.1 miles is absolutely a pleasure that runners should be excited to have and thanif.  I especially look forward to aid station 4 and 5.  Aid station 5 should only be needed once but hey, it's nice to  have the option to use it more than once.
  • So I have laid it out like this; this race is being used to blow out the engines and see how I do running at marathon pace or slightly faster for 13.1 miles.  I will treat it like I will the marathon, try to run slower than marathon pace by about 15-30 seconds the first couple miles.  After that I will start increasing the pace and take advantage of the downhills.  The time goal is simple, 1:50:00.  This would beat my GTIS Half by just under 2 minutes (and my Myrtle Beach halfway point which was eerily only 1 second slower than my GTIS Half).  It would show I can double that time and add 5 minutes to my full marathon time and feel confident with a 3:45 come Labor Day.
I am excited because All-Out Multisport seems to be trying to get a lot of quality events in the Denver suburbs and build them up over time.  They have been doing it for what looks like a year with different events and charities involved.  Part of the money for this one is going to the Colorado Canine Rescue.  I hope they build up their series they are putting together and stick around because they are an economical friendly racing series compared to the ridiculously priced half and full marathons you see the big names like Rock and Roll try to charge.  The event director replied to an e-mail within minutes and I appreciate that sort of attention.  They are hoping for around 500 participants for this week and I hope they get it.  Their link: All-Out Multisport has quite a few races coming up so check them out and sign up.

Onto the Marathon training; I have to hit my marathon training goals over the next 3 weeks (after the half) and taper for the last 2 weeks.  It is a short taper but I feel that 3rd week of taper I can run a 16-18 miler and not do anything to really hurt myself recovery wise.  Which brings me to what my goals are.  On Sunday after the half I plan on running a slow 10 miler.  It may be more like a slow walk 6 miler but we shall see.

Next week/Week 5 (counting back) I have to gut out a 20 miler and get some Yassos in (Goal is 8).  It may be dumb but I am going to try to get 50 miles next week, follow it with a high 40s week and then taper .  I know the last few miles are going to be brutal on my 20 miler.  The good news is I have an evening that I will be able to do this without messing with family time by doing this next week with the family taking off a couple days before I do to go to the Western Slope.  I will miss not having Sophie and Andi around but I won't feel so obligated to hurry back home like my 17 miles were due to bathroom breaks and a couple of work related structural observation detours on my long run this past Sunday.  I feel good but I am worried. 

Week 4, get a 22 mile run in, do 10 Yassos and really push myself to a high 40s week, maybe even 50.  Week 3 will be start taper but will be mid-30s with a few extras.  Week 2 will be low to mid 20s.

Due to really nursing myself back from the full, I started my training late and made excuses.  In order to have a legit shot at 3:45, I will have to make the excuses end.  I am hovering around 165.  My goal is to get to 157 by ADT.  I need to eat smarter, really get my runs in and push hard.  No excuses.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Running in Colorado has its ups and downs...

Colorado is a great state to train for any race.  However, I learned from my pancake flat marathon that no matter where you run in Colorado, it is almost impossible to run without elevation gain or drop.  My run Sunday was proof positive.  I dropped close to 200 feet in elevation in 16.5 miles but considering I dropped nearly 500 feet in elevation by Mile 8, you can see that the steady incline home from there was not fun and may not seem to make a lot of sense for Marathon #2 of mine, a mainly downhill course for the American Discovery Trail (ADT) Marathon on Labor Day.  That point to point course has a drop of 1280 feet.  But looking closer at the map there are a couple of quick 50 to 100 foot climbs that are going to be difficult and that mental toughness will be needed.

So news and thoughts from the past week:
The wife, Andi, and I celebrated 5 years of marriage.  Like running in Colorado; marriage has its ups and downs but I am more up than down with my lovely wife of 5 years.  We had a great weekend and enjoyed Saturday evening and night with just us two.  It feels weird not having Sophie around at all times but an occasional 12-18 hours without her once in awhile is not a bad thing for sure.

I signed up for the half marathon, Dog Days of Summer 5k/10k/Half in Westminster on July 27.  I don't know what to expect.  Right now, my goal is to finish in 1:50 or better.  However since I am not tapering and just using it as a fast training run.  If I get 1:55, I don't believe all hope is lost.  If I am struggling to get 2:00 hours, I may be lucky to get 4:00 hours come Labor Day for ADT.

I got some new shoes and paid over twice what I have for any pair of shoes in my life. I have spent $65 for shoes, but $136 seems exorbitant.  Oh well, I was tired of blowing out the pinky toe of all my previous running shoes and had noticed any others I have tried on are just too narrow from the start so I went with a pair of Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane 15 Wide 10 1/2.  I was bold enough to get 20 miles on them over the weekend without breaking them in at all.  My toes and feet are a little sorer than normal but I attribute this to them not being broke in at all.

I have three goals for this week.  Get my speedwork ramped up by doing some Yassos, do some MTYs and don't settle for anything less than 40 miles.  I have been doing MTYs and plenty of marathon pace mileage but have been hovering in low to mid 30s for my distances every week.  I would like to peak around 55 and the only way to achieve this is to not miss runs like I know I have.   Last goal is to eat better.  I have been falling back on fast food, desserts and fatty foods over and over and saying next week.  Fortunately I am smart about it and only have got up to 169 once.  Otherwise I have been in the 165-167 range during the mornings.  My goal is to be 162 by race morning on the 27th and 155 by Labor Day week and 157 by Labor Day (from carb and liquid consumption).

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Need for the Great American Marathoner and Running Book Thoughts...

I won't be able to give a complete thought on it until I finish it but I want to start with this; Pre was an amazing person that changed the culture of running in America.  He is the type of American runner we need again!  Even though we have some amazing, hard working, great people that are ultra talented and I can only dream to run a marathon within an hour of what they can, there is something missing to make long distance running and running in general BIG again.  There is that honesty, that swagger, that brashness, that never settle attitude and that American born USA runner that is missing that Pre was.  Pre didn't want to just compete and be amongst the best, he wanted to be the best and he ran his races to where he gave it everything to be on top, not just on the medal stand.  Watching his race in 1972 Munich a few times, you see this.  He could have medaled if he sat back, instead he charged over and over again and it is amazing to see that strength.  Ryan Hall could be that type.  Heck, he was in a commercial that only runners knew who the hell he was.  The marathon is now the ultimate measuring stick for runners.  A great 5k/10k runner like Galen Rupp brought a slight blip to the national radar, but with so many people trying a marathon or half marathon for the first time, that is what the general population needs in America to get the buzz going.  The main problems I see preventing this:
  • Americans aren't required to be on their feet as often as those other competitors, so they start behind already. 
  • I believe genetics are an excuse after what I have done, but I believe the fact your upbringing and the lifestyle you live is contagious.  America is the most obese nation for a reason, too many places it is not a priority to be active.  I believe since 2010 that this trend is starting to make a turn.  More people are being inspired and making a change.  Back on task at hand: I think even though these are the most fit people in the world, they have been around a lifestyle that doesn't REQUIRE exercise like those strong Ethiopian and Kenyan runners. 
  • They don't work together as much as the other countries blocking opponents or tiring opponents to sacrifice themselves for their fellow countryman.  Maybe this is changing a little, but I don't see it.
Here is what needs done to make running a national excitement and create a buzz that makes the front page of ESPN rather than just something that is noteworthy:
  • It starts with Boston 2014.  A year after such a tragic event, the world's eyes and especially the great nation of The United States of America will be on Boston.  Ryan Hall, or some young gun that comes out of the woodworks,  gets completely healthy and declares he is going to win Boston.  He backs it up and does it in record time running it in under 2:03.
  • Afterward he states that he will break the IAAF recognized mark within a calendar year.  ESPN starts covering his progression and he is given the money and backing by the U.S. Track and Field.  He does it and now the hype begins about when will the 2:00 hour marathon be next.
  • The hype of the marathon gets so big that the 2016 Olympics in Rio is an absolute hype machine and featured amongst NBCs coverage.  The world record continues to be talked about because it has been broke by an American and then taken over again slightly by the Kenyans or Ethiopians.  USA has its best team and is set up to medal and perhaps challenge for gold.  Everything sets up for a perfect race and an American wins and sets marathon running into a national craze more than it already has become.
Yes, these are dreams but something as big as these events may be the next spark to make running an even cooler thing to do and get the attention needed to help make some of these runners get the pub deserved.  The USA Track and Field Championships did not get the viewership on TV or in the stands and that shows that people just don't care.  If we can get up for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (and Belmont IF the first two legs are won by the same horse) and it be talked about on every update, why can't a human pushing the body beyond its limitations not get that same recognition at least once a year?

I have read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes and am currently into Pre by Tom Jordan about Steve Prefontaine.  I didn't start reading any of these books due to my Uncle Tim saying run your first marathon and then get bad thoughts in your head.  He was dead on.  After reading Born to Run and Ultramarathon Man I have had visions of running 100 miles with Tarahumara at Leadville or running in CA pulling myself down the road on my hands and knees but finding that last wind to get up and finish strong.

First I will say Dean Karnazes must be a wizard and have stolen Hermoine's time turner necklace.  I read about how he kicked ass in the business world, balanced family and ran 40-200 miles in a week and I look at my life and go, how do you pull that balancing act?  Next, I will say I enjoyed his stories.  I believe a few of them got Hollywooded from trying to have that finishing line that makes a movie or book captivating but it is amazing to hear of his accomplishments and hard work.  Ultramarathon Man is a book that you will hear some good stories from Dean and while it kept my interest for most of it I was ready for the end of the book.  I honestly have put his other books, 50/50 and RUN back on the shelf because I was more interested in reading about a guy I already know more about in Steve Prefontaine or read someone elses story.  Born to Run on the other hand I could have read another 50 chapters on human genetics, the Tamahara people and some of the ultramarathon events and people involved in them.

I read these books, read peoples blogs and read stories and have come to the conclusion, RUNNERS ARE INSANE.  They are at the edge of the definition of Insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  The thing that keeps runners from clinical is the fact they become educated and take the time to improve slightly thus barely keeping away from insanity.  They have recurring injuries; they go get poked and prodded and try everything on earth to get healthy.  They are just short of improving their time to qualify for Boston or reach a goal; they run further, they do all the little things to get quicker from losing even more weight (even though they are already too skinny for the general public) to core improvement to whatever it takes.

An insane person is in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction.  Runners talk about their running, think about their next run, their past runs and future races.  Runners ignore injuries and go for a run that would keep the average person more sedentary than normal.  Runners are happy people but if they miss a run or something causes their schedule to get out of whack, it can get ugly. 

I don't want to give away everything from my book, to be released in the year 2020 (Said like Barbara Walters) titled Why Runners are Insane, but it will center around a clueless non-runner becoming an educated runner and the stories .  Note: This book is currently just a pipe dream but I enjoy writing and think I may be driven to ramble on more than a blog.  In the meantime I should probably accomplish something larger than losing 50 lbs and 1 marathon.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RUN, it turns crap into sunshine...

Yes, running will help turn some of the bad things in your life into a ray of sunshine.  You can be having a bad day at work, at home or whatever it may be and with each minute your feet hit the ground, I equate it to 5x that time you are going to feel better and have more positive outlooks on things.  This is the endorphins your brain generates giving you that runners high people speak of.  Now that high tends to fade when you are dealing with an injury or just slogging through a run, but I can tell you even on those days, you get done and your body and mind go, so you hurt, you just accomplished something that is good for your mind and body.  So my advice to you if you are having a shitty day and need a boost, find 30-60 minutes and go get happy with a run!!!

Now onto other items; the first of which is my new socks!!!   I have always been fortunate that my feet don't blister and remain pretty soft and in good form even when I am on my feet a lot.  I have ran for around 15 months in the same 4 pairs of Old Navy Active socks.  They breath okay, fit tight and I didn't have any blisters in all that time.    However most of these socks now have holes near the ball of the foot and I noticed the ones that don't I have sweating issues and my first blister.  Maybe they just have too many washes to them, but it was time for a change and that change came in the form of Injinji toe socks that my mom purchased for me.

 I have to be honest, the skepticism was running high for me before trying a pair of these on.  They look like gloves for the feet and that just isn't normal  After a few runs in them, I have to give them a thumbs up and a toe up since you can see that when I have my shoes off.  I am a big fan of wearing flip flops and sandals and part of that is I would rather be in bare feet than a pair of shoes when not walking (or running) on the road.  I like how my foot "feels" every step rather than feeling restricted.  They also seem to feel more spacious in my shoes even though the thickness between my old socks and the Injinjis are similar. Here are some benefits from Injinji's site I already see:

- Proper Toe Alignment (makes for healthier happy feet)
- Superior Moisture Management (drier and less smelly feet)
- Better posture, better balance (you get full use of your toes!)
- Blister and hotspot prevention (relieve some of that foot pain)
- Tactile Feel (enabling natural feel and movement in ANY shoe)

My mom got me the Run No-Show and Run 2.0 Mini Crew that I will use for my shorter runs (under 15 miles) and a pair of the Compression 2.0 OTC socks.  These are supposed to do similar things to what calve compression sleeves do with the increasing circulation and healing.  Before my marathon someone mentioned considering Compression Sleeves/socks over my calves and after running it I wish I had read that advice months before because I didn't know how much circulation was going to lack during the marathon.  As my Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap stated, it was not good the last 4-5 miles.  I say worth a shot to take that advice and the fact my mom hooked me up for a pricy compression sock instead of me splurging makes me say THANKS MOM!!!

Next, running on the treadmill.  I am not a fan of running on this contraption.  It doesn't feel natural, minutes tick by and each second is in front of your face.  I am not a hamster.  That said, due to some severe weather warnings and fear of getting caught in a downpour or lightning and only having limited time, I cranked out 10 miles on Andi's treadmill.  I call it hers since she uses it more and it was meant for her use mainly.  I have to say I enjoyed the last couple miles on it because Sophie and Andi were in the room while I finished.  I have to say that it was also bearable because there was a movie playing the whole time and what better movie than Forrest Gump?!  So yes, I was RUNNING!!!

Last, I go back to the I am a Marathon Runner, I Must Run Youtube Clip.  My Uncle and I have been doing 4-6 mile runs the last 4 weeks.  It has helped me show I can run an 8:00/mile pace fairly easily and give me confidence that I can break a 3:45 if I put in the miles needed over the next couple months.  I enjoy these runs with him because he is a faster runner, by a minute plus a mile, and it pushes me over running by myself.  I refer to the I am a Marathon Runner clip because my Uncle was dealing with back pain today that would keep the normal person doing little to no physical activity but he powered through our 5-6 miles without a complaint. 

Have a great week, go on and get happy, go for a run!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Running and Diet Strength built from Wrestling...

I have been thinking about what really made my quick weight loss a success and why my running a marathon maybe wasn't as Earth shattering as I have read others accounts.  Believe me it took a ton of hard work and mental toughness and I have a TON of respect for anyone that puts their body through that sort of torture.  I have never felt the soreness or inability to move how a human should in those 24 hours immediately after the race. I also put it amongst the greatest events in my life after my child's birth, wedding, graduation from Mines and on par with other things involving coaching the sport that is probably a big reason for that success, wrestling.  But as Dan Gable said, "Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

Wrestling was not easy for me growing up.  I started as an overweight Heavyweight when I first started wrestling at 8 years old.  I didn't beat ANYONE that first year and spent many practice and match time on my back with fluorescent lighting burning my retinas.  Fast forward about 6 years and wrestling finally set in.  My 8th grade year of wrestling I was in shape, I could run 3 miles like it was simply part of practice (which it was often) and I spent more time looking at dust on the mat from pinning a kid than being stuck.  I wrestled for a dozen years, helped a little while in college while my brother finished up HS and then after a few years away from the sport coached at the HS level for five years.  During that time I learned a lot.

Wrestling taught me things that you won't get in any other sport besides maybe boxing/MMA which all have ties and similarities in their training.  The key things wrestling taught me that helped make my LIFE change and becoming a runner a success are as follows:
  • Weight control/loss: This ranges from knowing the body isn't truly "starving" from eating hardly anything to nothing over a 24 hour period to changing your diet.  I would go from 15 lbs over my wrestling weight at the end of football season to wrestling weight within a month.  You learn to eat less and you learn to cut out things you don't need (empty calories of drinks and candy).  A reason for my rapid weight loss and sustained weight loss is I know when I eat poorly I need to do more than run more, I need to cut calories out the following day or days.  I need to give my body a boost with good foods. 
  • Endurance and speed: Unfortunately we didn't do enough and I didn't take it upon myself to do more long distance running but when we did, the 2-4 mile runs we'd often do were not difficult because of hours put on the mat where there is little to no breaks and it's continuous movement and strain on the body.  There was also plenty of speed bursts in wrestling that are great for tempo training where you have to go from your slower pace to an increased pace.  These helped a ton on my Yassos, MTY runs and in realizing I could increase my pace. 
  • Mental toughness and never give up attitude: One big thing I learned from years of being a crappy to average wrestler was how to fight off my back and not get pinned.  I got pinned once in my last two years in HS (a freak pin) and maybe only a couple times my sophomore year.  The reason is, I learned not to give up and keep fighting because you always had a chance in wrestling until the final whistle or buzzer sounded.  This was huge the last 4.2 miles when I was cramping increasingly in my calves.  I never walked the entire marathon.  I  had to stop and stretch my calves far too often but I kept pushing and running.  I knew I'd finish, which brings us to...
  • Confidence: Once you train at something enough times and see success, you realize you can attain what you set out to do.  I knew I was going to finish the marathon, I knew unless a bus hit me, my body and mind were trained well enough that I would easily get under the 4:00 hour marathon I initially set my goal for and had a legitimate shot at 3:45.
  • Striving for more: I didn't attain my 3:45 goal and like all competitors, you aren't satisfied with barely missing it or wanting more.  My goal is under 3:45 my next marathon with the mindset I am shooting for a 3:40 instead.  Next year (AND after I finally sit for my Professional Engineer license in April) I will be shooting for a 3:30.  That is a big step.  I want to EARN the right to run Boston within the next 8 years but will have to get faster and older to do so.
The biggest thing that correlates between the marathon runner and a wrestler is this quote from maybe the greatest wrestler of all-time:
“Most men stop when they begin to tire. Good men go until they think they are going to collapse. But the very best know that the mind tires before the body, and push themselves farther and farther, beyond all limits. Only when these limits are shattered can the unattainable be reached.” -Dan Gable

I have been dripping with sweat with every part of my body exhausted during some intense wrestling practices.  I have had the same feelings during running and especially those 20+ mile long runs and during my marathon.  I knew I could stave off hunger at dinner helping me cut some weight, power through that overtime after exhausting my body for the last 3 periods instead of just giving up that takedown, fight to win or kept running through that finish line with both calves cramping instead of walking through it and just being satisfied that I finished.  Be strong mentally, keep pushing and never be satisfied.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Running or jogging, does it matter?

I have heard the term jogging a couple times of late during my "runs" and read a post about being called a jogger and it got me thinking, what is the difference between the two?

I had a guy say during my long run in Hawaii, "Great jog man!"  I kind of chewed on that for the next few miles and when I went by him again I avoided eye contact and increased my speed.  So, yes a run being called a jog or hearing the term jogger kind of got to me and it mattered.  I think it is something many "runners" deem to be the wrong term for what they do.

Runners don't jog.  They have different paces depending on what intensity their run is for that day.  I have read people's accounts on what the difference between jogging and running is.  To me, there wasn't much until I deemed to be crap, running is 8 mph or fast.  I have seen this in a couple places, but they may reference the same source.  I am too lazy to check that out.  To me speed doesn't have anything to do with it.  I am sorry, but a person doesn't jog a marathon in under 4 hours.  I believe speed doesn't have anything to do with it but the heart rate of what you are doing, along with your history of speed.  Not everyone starting running can run 7:30/mile like the 8 mph can say.  That is a Yasso 800 for me.  I can tell you I am running at that point and it is tough and I can't sustain that for more than a mile without exhausting myself.  Based off the times I see, only about the Top 5% of a marathon field can even call what they are doing to be running if you follow the 8 mph rule.  That is just crazy talk.  I could jog 26.2 miles and not cramp and take 5 hours to do it.

To me jogging is equivalent to a super fast walk but instead of shuffling your feet you are actually picking them up.  Jogging is running at slow motion with the Chariots of Fire music blaring in your musical memory bank.  So I will put what a jog is to me:
  • 75% of a person's marathon pace or 80% of half marathon.  I run my slow runs a minute to two minutes slower than my marathon pace depending on how far into training I am and the mileage I have on my legs.  They are comfortable but not easy.  If I slowed down another full minute, then I'd call it jogging because it would be as easy as walking.
  • There you go, if it feels as easy as a walk the same distance it is running slow motion. Kind of like a fast walk to me. 
  • Heart rate.  Jogging's heart rate is calm and much like when walking.  A long run is increased above that.
  • Jogging is being able to hold a full conversation without much discomfort.  I have conversations the few times I have ran with someone else and it's brief, tough to do and sentence structure is similar to that of a caveman.
  • Running requires effort and is not fun, jogging is fun, it is goofy.
  • Jogging can be done in one of those polyester full suits you see people at the store wear in their 70s.  If I run in that, I get heat exhaustion in anything above 30 degrees.
That's the long winded simple way for me to put it.  We are runners, not joggers.  Show us runners some respect you casual observers.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm back in the saddle again!!! Marathon 2 in sight...

Yes Aerosmith's Back in the Saddle Again is blaring through my head writing this post.  But, I feel like it's time.  I had a full week of running, 25+ miles, and then ran a 5k after walk/jogging a 5k the day before in under 8:00/mi pace this past weekend and have felt hardly any pain or none over the last 3 weeks.  My knee used to be tender to the touch even with a couple days off and now I don't even feel pain when poking and prodding it, so I've decided it's time to set some running goals.

  • First and foremost, I plan on running the ADT (American Discovery Trail) Marathon in Colorado Springs on Labor Day. 
  • I will be doing a half.  I found one that runs along Big Dry Creek in Westy (which I run frequently) called the Dog Days 5k, 10k and Half and believe that is as good of a place to start since I know that area.  I honestly don't care what time I get on that course being as it is narrow and I don't know what the set up will be probably trying for a 1:50 so I can set a personal best and to try to prove to myself I can run a 3:45 marathon or better a little over a month later.
  • Break the 3:45 mark.
  • Run more in the morning and late night.  Only tough part of mornings is getting back before 6:15 so I can make sure I am home before Andi.  I guess I will just have to wake up and get out of bed with a purpose.
  • Run my long runs earlier and different routes so I avoid the heat and to explore the Reunion area more though I have ran many of the roads east of Highway 2 and west of Tower between 88th and 120th.
I ran 11 miles yesterday.  It was in the low to mid 80s.  I felt alright though I wasn't trying to set the world on fire.  A few things I can take from it.  I need many more miles on my legs to get back into Myrtle Beach shape.  I need to get back to 160 to feel comfortable on those long runs and to start running shirtless more.  Under 160 I feel good running and running without a shirt off.  I FEEL those 5-7 extra lbs. otherwise.  My fast/feast diet needs to be implemented twice a week and over the course of a month to get those results.

I am excited to get back to running and that I haven't felt my injury bug.  Let's hope it keeps up.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hawaii gets me running & Aulani Disney Review...

Aloha.  First, a few reasons due to lack of blogging, my knee had kept me from committing to running since the marathon far too often and second, Hawaii was coming up so life was hectic and third I had to enjoy Hawaii before talking about it.  So here it goes:

Well, I went on vacation with my family (which includes my wife, daughter, brother-in-law and his family, other brother-in-law, mother-in-law and her sister) to Hawaii last week May 3-11.  I have found the one state I could live in other than Colorado.  And I am told that the other islands are even more beautiful.  Oh paradise is right!!!  The 9 of us got in on Friday May 3rd around 5:00 HI time.  That night was a whirlwind of grocery shopping (pricy!!!) and just getting unpacked.  We didn't even have time to do more than say wow, this is a gorgeous resort.  Add to that the worse traffic I have been in for a 5 mile stretch and my first impression was eh... we'll see.

I awoke early Saturday and decided to get a run in.  Magical is a good word for the views from my 4-5 mile run that morning.  These are the highlighted views near our resort I got from that run.

Yes, isn't that brutal?! 
Running wise the good news is my knee felt great (and did the whole trip).  I ran 12 miles on Friday before we left and a total of about 25 miles during the week with a lot of swimming and walking around.  I feel like I am ready to finally jump full steam into training for a marathon and believe ADT on Labor Day is the one I will shoot for.  That said, that is all my running talk for this blog.  The time we had as a family and the sites we saw.  That is what I want to highlight as well as a full Aulani Review.
After this site, we enjoyed a day of pool and beach cove near Aulani.  To put into words how well done these two things are is difficult.  They have a great lazy river and kids pool (unfortunately construction was being done at the bigger pool area) as well as kids park and two big kids slides as Sophie would put it.  Our first drinks and family fun was that day.

Unfortunately Sunday was rainy and just not much happened because there was no sunshine throughout the day so we had a relax day to get over some early sun burns for some.

On Monday I visited an area that will live in infamy and rightfully so.  Pearl Harbor is a beautiful place but one of the most significant places in American History.  We were all kind of in awe as most people are the first time they have visited.  My Grandpa Ventura joined the military shortly after that day and I wish he was around still to talk about that day and if it was one of the reasons he joined.  My Grandpa taught many of the men that flew in World War II from home and never saw action across seas but my Great Uncle Bart was in World War II.  World War II is one of the historic events that have fascinated me, Pearl Harbor's significance in the whole thing never really struck my fully until being there.  The site at the USS Arizona Memorial and the live footage and other information around the area was amazing.  My favorite part was seeing the massiveness of a battleship by going onto the USS Missouri and it made me think of my Navy Man Uncle Tim being at the Persian Gulf War when the USS Missouri was used for military use another time.
The wall at the USS Arizona Memorial.  If you look at the left and right, the two little boxes
are names of those that have chose to be buried at sea with their family they lost that fateful day.

The cannons on the USS Missouri

Those things are like hotels on sea with their size and amount of people they can hold, but obviously they had a much more important significance.  The day was long and exhausting but to end at the flight museum was pretty amazing.  Thinking of what happened there and the fact my Grandpa actually flew a few of the planes those men did in war was a nice exclamation.  I ran a quick and sweaty 3 miles with barely any sunlight and chlorine filled eyes.  I was spent.

Tuesday we started with breakfast with our Disney friends at the Makahiki Buffet and it was amazing food and a great morning.  Especially for Sophie who was all atwitter about Goofy and Minnie and Mickey encounters.
Sophie with her friend Mickey before breakfast

We enjoyed another day at the Cove and swimming pool.  This is when our worse sun burns hit the group (I had minor ones that just turned into a good tan and very light peeling throughout so I got lucky, no blisters for me!) so Wednesday we relaxed and hung out around the pool some more and in the shade.  We watched Cinderella from the patios of my brother-in-laws rooms and ended the night with a great couple rounds of drinks with my brother-in-law Barry, (and former CU Buff football player), and his friend Sam that played with him at CU for 3 of the 5 years he was there.  Anyone that has played team sports and really embraced it knows the family atmosphere they have and I have seen through my brother-in-law that when you really bust your ass at the next level that camaraderie and family atmosphere is even better.  It was fun listening to stories of their friends from the team and life experiences.  Sam is a native to Oahu and as I saw with almost all of the natives and have experienced with the couple encounters I've had with some I met here through Barry's CU playing days, they are loving, friendly and exude a positive way of life with electrifying smiles and warmness.
Barry, Sam and Barry's son Jayden

Thursday was... you'll see.  I awoke pretty tired from not getting to bed until close to midnight.  We got out on the road around 8:45 and maybe it was for the better because we avoid the traffic of the heart of Oahu.  We drove to North Shore to start the day.  It felt like we were in a new world suddenly.  It was desolate, the industrial/commercialized Honolulu was not in site and it was like driving through the most beautiful mountains and vegetation that I've ever seen.  It was an amazing rainforest.  We saw some of the coolest pine tries that I have ever seen.  I wish I was running that route instead of driving it so I could have taken in its beauty and got some pictures of it.  It was magical.  North Shore matched it's majestic views.  There was small waves due to the time of year but they were the most powerful waves I have ever seen or been in.  The shore lines were as high as 40 feet elevation gain I'd say and maybe more on Sunset Beach closest to the Pipeline.  Here is a view from Laniakea Beach/aka Turtle Beach.
At the far left you can see some of the cliffs near the Northwest of Oahu and some of the strong waves and vastness of ocean across to a nice little group of palm trees for this beach cove.

Some of the best views of the ocean but of the valleys towards the mountains of Oahu was from the curve near Waimea Bay Beach.  I saw one of the coolest views that was like that out of some fantasy movie where the image sticks in my head in slow motion with these immense wind turbines spinning.  I don't even want to put a picture here for fear you won't get the vibe I am describing.  If I find a picture in the other cameras people were using I'll put it on here later.

After Waimea Beach was a no go (due to parking), it was on to Waikiki.  This was the only time during vacation that the family had one of our meltdowns.  The drive in sucked because we took Hwy 92 in and had to go through 30 minutes of stop and go lights.  Sophie had to pee and we could not find a public parking place anywhere.  It was brutal!  I couldn't find a place after looping a few blocks and decided rather than any more issues I'd let the ladies find a place on the beach.  Only problem was, the other half of our group was 2 miles the other way on the west side of Waikiki Beach.  So we all had to walk a mile plus to meet up in the middle.  It was hot, there were a ton of people and we were all frustrated with not being able to find a place to park.  I had no idea where the  other half parked so I parked another half mile away from them.  Fortunately we all cooled down once we met up and even though none of us were big fans of Waikiki Beach, we all just got along after that.  Then we went back to the vehicles and changed so we could have dinner at the last place my in-laws had dinner at in Waikiki and a Kunkel family staple for vacation, Margaritaville!  After an hour of shopping and walking the mile to Margaritaville, we waited for sunset that I missed due to Sophie needing a bathroom break and then went to dinner. Waikiki continued to give us issues.  It was an uncomfortable heat for the first time all vacation, it was loud with a live band and two of the people got sick and we all felt like shit.  The 3 men decided to hike back to the cars rather than all of us.  It was a nightmare.  I compare it to a Tokyo mixed with Las Vegas.  It was uncomfortable.  Then after getting to our cars and having a dead phone, the night was starting to get interesting.  I was lost and so were my brother-in-laws.  Fortunately I found the street I was on BARELY in the corner of a zoomed in area of Waikiki and managed us back to where the rest of our party waited.  I was relieved to be on the road, but Waikiki threw another punch of detours for the direct routes to where we needed to exit.  We got in past 10 sometime, all exhausted and wanting to just be in bed.  No offense to anyone that loves Waikiki but the beaches and the congestion of that area is awful and none of us were fans of it.  Maybe if we were staying there and had a hotel nearby, but after seeing many better beaches that day and during other vacations, I rate the pigeon infested, dirty beaches of Waikiki as my least favorite ever.

Friday I awoke wanting to forget the hectic nature of the day before.  I woke around 6 and was ready to try out my knee and do my first run in double digits since Myrtle Beach Marathon and first run over 5 miles.  I ran it smart and slow and went 12 miles without a problem.  If there was a trail that ran along the west side of Oahu, I would have explored that but there was enough trail and beautiful sites in the Ko Olina (name of little area Aulani sits in) and along the coves of Ko Olina to get 12 miles.  It was a great way to start the last full day there.  The rest of the day was beach and poolside to get our last major sun.  It was a great day finished with beautiful pictures around sunset at the Cove we spent so much time and then dinner at the buffet.  I pigged out after not eating much that day and after my long run, I figured I hardly go to buffets and especially ones with fresh pineapple and so many delicious choices.  I learned I can only handle raw fish that has rice around it and that oysters taste like the saltwater they live in and are not my thing.




Saturday was depressing.  It is the first time I have left a place and was so sad to go.  I hate leaving Florida when we go because I enjoy it but I am exhausted.  This felt like a vacation with all the relaxing we did and not running around.  I wish we had seen more of Oahu and had a chance to visit the less populated islands but hopefully that can be done another time.  We needed a vacation to relax after every one being so go-go-go in life, it was nice to relax at one of the most well done resorts I have ever seen.  That review will follow shortly.  The drive to the airport worked out well on Saturday and we had a smooth 7 hour flight back.  We all crashed when we finally made it home and the four hour time change is brutal.  I'd hate to live in the Eastern time zone and have to come back.

Overall, it was a magical place to visit.  It was paradise.  It was tropical.  It was gorgeous.  It left us saying we have to come here again.  CU plays Hawaii in 2.5 years and I am hoping we can go again.  We are all blessed my mother-in-law Julie took us on such a vacation.  We all couldn't afford it at this time and she didn't make us pay for much and tried to pay for everything.  She does a lot for our family and I am appreciative of it immensely.  I also thought many times how this vacation may have not happened or been years down the road if my father-in-law Zane was still around.  That made me pretty sad.  On the other side, Zane always wanted to see his family happy and enjoying themselves and loved the vacations we had.  I am sure he was smiling heavily upon us and I am thankful to him as well.  I feel blessed. 

My favorite part of vacation was watching Sophie and her excitement meeting the Disney characters and her on the slides.  She did a great job on the plane rides and is a total thrill seeker like her dad.  The 3 of us got to relax a little bit and I enjoyed spending a week in paradise with Andi and Sophie with all of our family.



Tanned on North Shore

Showing some sun
Not tan at the first day

My beautiful wife on our last night at Disney
It would not be fair to not give the Aulani Disney Resort some major props.  I saw all of the surrounding resorts and while they were beautiful and had their own cool things like the JW Marriott next door having hammerhead shark and Sting Ray pools next door, the total amenities at Aulani and the look and feel made you feel part of the culture.  From the natives that I met or heard conversations of, they have major props that they give the resort.  Disney perfected this place to give it a tie to the culture of Hawaii's native people.  The only way you knew you were in a Disney resort is seeing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Stitch and Chip and Dale hanging around.  The swimming area is relaxing, but super fun.  The beach cove is super laid back but also ocean feeling enough with it's deep waters and solid, but not immense currents.  I did not find anything to complain about.  The view was amazing, the lazy river was amazing.  The slides were fun.  The kids park was a blast for the little ones.  And it was simply GORGEOUS!


We all miss you Aulani!!!