Monday, May 31, 2010

Surpassing 2009

We just returned from our annual Memorial Day camping trip to Entiat, WA...way out in the middle of nowhere. My in-laws have property on the Entiat River, so their kids (i.e. my wife and our kids, my wife's sisters and their families, and one other family that's friends of all of our families...are your eyes crossed yet?) all converge there for three days of riotous fun...if you can call having everything you brought with you smelling strongly of campfire smoke and un-showered bodies fun.

I managed to roll out of the tent this morning at 6:00 for a run. Wasn't sure how far it would be. I was going to "Forrest Gump" it...just keep going if I felt like it (within limits, of course). I chose to run "up" the road. It was definitely up, climbing an average of 100 feet per mile. Not terribly steep, but good enough for a decent hill workout. When I was 5 miles in, I decided that a pre-breakfast 10-miler would be groovy. Thanks to the downhill, my return trip was 6 minutes faster.

My right heel reminded me it was still there, but it wasn't a run-stopping pain. It seems like it's not getting any worse, so for the moment, I've decided to train through it, unless it DOES get any worse. I have no idea what the issue is, but as long as the status remains quo, so will my training.

This morning's 10-miler also put me beyond last year's very modest running mileage (825 in 2009, 828 as of today for 2010). Having done it in 5 months is something I feel pretty good about. Hopefully I can keep the pace through the end of the year.

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

RR

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CUT OFF!

Why have I been cut off? Well...
Left to right, starting with the top row (all Brooks): Launch, Defyance 3, Defyance 2, Cascadia 3, Defyance 2, (bottom row) Launch, Defyance 3, Defyance 3, Cascadia 5

The only pair currently retired are the Defyance 2's in the upper right hand corner. All shoes in the bottom row are "in the wings", i.e. yet to be added into the rotation.

Mrs. Resurrected Runner has put the kibosh on further shoe purchases for the foreseeable future. Party pooper.

Watch for me on an upcoming episode of "Intervention". Imelda Marcos, eat your heart out.

Giveaway on Another Running Blog

If you haven't already, check out Chris McPeake's blog, called Suck it Up - Rantings of a Runner on the Edge. It's always a good & entertaining read. He's another guy in his 40's (there are a lot of us, aren't there?) and he puts in a LOT of miles. He's preparing to run his first 100-miler on May 29th. He's currently hosting a pretty cool giveaway, too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hindsight, and...What Next?

Well, that was a fast week! It was a week ago today that I finished my first marathon. I took three days off from running, then ran the next four days (gently, with exception of today). Things are feeling pretty good. I totaled 20.2 miles, capped off with a group 6-miler this morning at a 7:24 pace. My quads and achilles are still a bit sore, but I feel more recovered than I expected to.

So, what are my thoughts on my marathon training cycle? For the most part, I feel pretty good about it. There are some tweaks I'll make next time around. It might be easiest to itemize my thoughts:

  1. Include more recovery weeks. I felt fresh relatively early in my cycle, and probably peaked about half way through. Toward the end, my legs went flat and I felt tired often. I only threw in two cutback weeks in my cycle. I feel that I would have stayed fresh longer if I had cut my weekly mileage every third or (at most) fourth week. That may also have allowed me to increase my mileage even more during my regular weeks.
  2. Find a way to eat even more. I felt weak toward the end of the training cycle. I believe I lost too much weight, yet my appetite wasn't ravenous most of the time. I think I could have solved the problem by eating small snacks throughout the day just to get in some extra calories. I just need to remember to do it!
  3. Keep up with the strength training. When I started running again last year, I intended to include some strength training at least twice per week. Nothing outrageous. Just enough to maintain some upper body and core strength. As my training progressed, I was just too tired to keep up with it. Consequently, my upper body continued to waste away. I'm not looking to "bulk up" necessarily, but just a little extra strength would have been nice.
  4. Hill work is my friend. I did a moderate amount of hill work, but I could have done even more. I feel that it's equivalent to strength training for the legs. I believe it can also enhance speed. My marathon was mostly flat, but with some ultras coming up this year, I'll definitely be focusing more on hills (and trails...which I love).
  5. Nail down my race nutrition. That's kind of a nebulous comment, but I had some definite issues during the marathon...although I think the heat had a lot to do with it. I don't think I'm far off. This one is just going to take race experience to figure out.
  6. Easier easy days. I usually structured my weeks thusly: long run, recovery run, hill/progression run, recovery run, recovery run, tempo run. Rinse and repeat. Not a bad plan (IMHO), but as the cycle went on, my "recovery runs" gradually got faster. Or some of them did. It's difficult to run slower than what feels comfortable, but I think even subtle pace variations can make a big difference.
Off the top of my head, that's about it. The race was tough and could have gone better, but I honestly don't have many regrets about the training leading up to it - especially for the first marathon. With experience, I'll continue to improve and refine my training.

What's next? Well, this year will continue to be interesting. As I write this, I'm three weeks away from the Lake Youngs Ultra (28.8 miles). There's no time for ramping up again for that, so I'll go into cruise control until then, running moderate mileage at an easy-moderate pace, hopefully going into the race pretty fresh. I don't plan on "racing" it, but I'd like to see what I can do. Then I need to shift into high gear, in terms of getting a little bit of speed back. I'm running a local 5k in early July in preparation for the Ragnar Relay, in late July. No races are scheduled for August, so I'll have a short window to ramp back up for the Skagit Flats Marathon (hopefully), on Sept. 12th. I'd like to see if I can improve on my Windermere Marathon time (and experience). No heat, please! Then, another short window before my first 50k at Baker Lake (Oct. 2nd). I hear it's a tough course, so again, this will be more for the experience than a fast time. I may run a little 10k in November, then will probably finish the year with the Last Chance Marathon (or half) on Dec. 31st. Should be a fun rest of the year. Hope I can stay healthy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Photos - Windermere Marathon, May 15, 2010

Before the start, still feeling surprisingly fresh.


At the half marathon mark. The heat is getting really...well, hot.


Nearing the finish.


Crossing the finish line, totally spent.


Feeling even worse than I look (Adam R., who seems to think I always take good race photos, this is for you)


Fake smile, but cool medal. Let's do this again!

Runner's Round Table

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking part in a lively discussion on the Runner's Round Table, episode 82, entitled "Reasons to NOT Run a Marathon". The show was led by Joe Garland, and included Matt (from the Dump Runner's podcast), Flo, Mark Ulrich, and myself. Matt and I shared stories of our recent marathons - what went right, what went wrong, what went into the training and preparation, and whether or not it was worth it. Mark reflected on his experiences of finishing 19 marathons, and the goal of running 6 this year. Flo, having completed several marathons, is currently interested in shooting for a higher "age grading" in shorter distance races. Joe is up in the air about whether he'll "run" the NYC marathon or "race" it. Matt is planning on running a fall marathon, which I'm also considering.

While I agreed that one doesn't have to run a marathon to be considered a "runner", I look forward to more marathons in the future. The challenge still intrigues me (as does the idea of ultras). It was an interesting show and definitely worth a listen.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Windermere Marathon Race Report


Everyone always says that your first marathon is special and you'll never forget it. With mine only one day removed, I don't have the benefit of weeks, months or years to reflect on it. But I already know that it will be special and memorable for many reasons.

After several months of focused training, I finally ran my first marathon. The Windermere Spokane Marathon started, ironically, in Post Falls, Idaho at 7:00 am on Saturday, May 15th, 2010. My wife brought me to the start 30 minutes prior to race time. Most of those minutes were spent standing in a much too long port-a-potty line. After the pit stop and a good-luck kiss from my wife, I lined up near the back of the pack, along with roughly 400 other marathoners. The skies were perfectly clear and it was cool enough to make my teeth chatter as I stood wearing my Brooks ID kit - a singlet and shorts that I wish were just a tad longer to cover more of my pasty-white chicken legs. Around my waist was my Brooks Aid Station belt, which held a 22-oz Nathan bottle full of Heed, and two 5 oz flasks containing Hammer Gel. I kept a handful of E-caps in a zipper pocket on the belt. After a 10-minute delay to make sure the chips for the full marathoners were synchronized with the chips for the half marathoners (who started at the same time, but 13.1 miles closer to the finish line), we were off. Led by a race official on a bike (more about this later) we made a large loop around a strip mall before being led onto the Centennial Trail, headed for downtown Spokane, Washington. The first three miles seemed to fly by in no time. I was just a tad ahead of my planned pace, averaging 8:25 per mile. My desire was to go out even slower than I felt I should, then increase my pace later in the race. But I felt fine at this point. In fact, the first 10k felt great, at a fairly slow 51 minutes. Here, I took my first hit of gel. The sun was beating down on my shoulders and the temperature was creeping up as I continued drinking every mile on the mile. My heart rate was higher than I had hoped, but I chalked it up to race nerves. At about mile 8, things weren't feeling quite as effortless, even though I threw in an 8:15 and 8:17 for miles 9 and 10. I reached the half at 1:50, where my wife was waiting, ready to swap a cold bottle of Heed with my now empty bottle. During the quick exchange, I told her "this is going to be tough". I was now feeling the heat, and my legs were already feeling some fatigue. I was surprised by how heavy the new, full bottle felt as it replaced my empty one on my belt. iPods weren't against the rules, but were discouraged. I decided against wearing mine for this and other reasons. So, without the distraction and/or motivation of music or podcasts, it was about this time that the mental games began. I kept thinking, "oh no - I didn't plan a 'mantra' ahead of time!" I quickly adopted whatever positive self-talk I could come up with. I started telling myself "You've got this. You're strong. You've done the training. Run steady, you've got this". As the miles clicked off, I was a bit frustrated with how difficult it was to fight the negative voices in my head, saying "My legs feel dead! My breathing is far too labored for this pace! There are still so many miles to go. It's too hot", etc. It became a pretty intense battle.

Through mile 15, I was still averaging 8:24 miles. Even though the whole course had a net elevation loss of 240 feet, there was an uphill portion from about mile 16 to mile 18. It may not have been terribly significant, but by now it seemed like a small mountain. This is when the walk breaks started. I was getting a slight cramp in my right calf. I was still able to run, though. I had begun taking my E-caps at about mile 6, then every few miles after that. I only took 8 during the race, which I thought was enough. At about mile 20, I started thinking that maybe it wasn't, as my right quad started cramping and having spasms. To make things more interesting, it seemed like my system quit processing the fuel I was taking in. I felt like I needed to continue drinking and taking gels, but my stomach was getting more and more bloated. By this point, the heat was a major factor, as more and more runners were resorting to walk breaks. The course continued to roll along, up and down, with just enough little hills to spur on more cramping in my quad and, now, both calves. I was down to averaging 8:35's at mile 20. I started doing some math. The dream of a 3:30 finish was gone a long time ago. I'd have to run a 49-minute final 10k to finish in 3:40. Normally not difficult, but at this point, there was no way I'd even get close to that. I walked the first two minutes of mile 21. Miles 21, 24 and 25 were the slowest - all a little over 10 minutes. My hopes went from a 3:40 finish, to a 3:45 finish, to thoughts of "okay, I just want to break four hours!" At about mile 24, there was an active train crossing. As I approached it, spectators were yelling "you can beat the train if you hurry!". I saw the flashing lights and the gate across the road, so I willed my aching legs to sprint. I and a couple other runners ran across the tracks seconds before the train came through. Wow.

As we got into downtown Spokane, my leg cramps were intensifying. I felt like I was dragging my right leg, as I had little power in my quad, and my calf wasn't allowing much push-off from my foot. As I ran past the Gonzaga University campus, toward Riverfront Park, volunteer on bicycles rode toward us every few minutes, asking, "are you trying to qualify for Boston?" Of course, I kept answering "no", but wondered why they were asking this. As I began crossing the bridge over the Spokane River to run the final stretch toward the finish, my sister appeared, frantically telling me that I needed to turn around and run more if I wanted to run a full marathon. By now, I was experiencing a bit of brain fog and thought, "okay, this is NOT a funny joke, Andrea". But she kept explaining as I ran by and, given the BQ questions from the bike people, I realized that something was wrong. I didn't mention it before, but every mile marker in the race was quite a bit off. They were coming far too early, according to my Garmin (and everyone else's around me). When I reached the finish line, the announcer was telling everyone that they needed to turn around and run another point-something miles if they want to run a full marathon. Either he didn't say the exact amount as I was finishing, or I just didn't hear it. Not thinking, I ran across the timing mat and said to the volunteer, "I want to run the full distance. What do I do?" She gave me a confusing answer, so I just followed another runner that was doing the same thing. When she turned back around, so did I, crossing the finish line for a second time. I don't know the whole story, but the official on the bike that I mentioned earlier apparently didn't take us on a big enough loop at the beginning of the race, so we were short of the full distance. Oops. In an otherwise well-organized event, this was disappointing and frustrating. Those of you who have finished a marathon know how ready you are to finish when you cross that line; how your brain and body are ready give up the battle. It was disheartening to have to turn around and run even a short distance further. After I finished for good, I received my medal, met my wife, two daughters, dad, step-mom and sister, who escorted me to a chair, where I promptly collapsed, dizzy and nauseous. Twice they tried to get me to stand up, but it wasn't going to happen, as I turned pale and nearly blacked out. After some chocolate milk and several orange wedges (the only food that sounded good), I finally made my way to the bathroom with my dad's help, then to our vehicle for the ride back to my folks' house for an ice bath and, eventually, some solid food.

I can't say I was disappointed in my performance, but I know I can do better. When I ran my first half marathon 7 months ago, it was the hardest thing I had done at that point. Now, this marathon takes that distinction. I still have some work to do, but I'm excited to move forward and shoot for a faster finish in the future. After the soreness dissipates, of course!

Here are the numbers:

Chip time: 3:46:20 (when I accidentally crossed the mat the first time)
Actual finish time: 3:49:32
Avg. pace: 8:45
Overall place: 67/344
Gender: 54/180
Age Group: 12/32

To all those who I've had the privilege to share this journey with either in person or online: thanks again for the tremendous encouragement, support, advice and friendship. The journey doesn't end here. It's just getting started!

Photos to come...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Marathon DONE

More later, but briefly: Very hot, lots of carnage out there, bad calf & quad cramps from 18 on. Held on for a 3:49:32. Not what I was shooting for, but for a first, and given the conditions, I'll take it. I'll post a race report later (including the story of the 'finish line fiasco'). Thanks for all the support!

Oh, and congrats to Adam C. in Florida for guessing the closest finish time. Message me on Facebook with a shipping address and I'll get the movie out to you soon. Thanks!

Thanks!

Thanks for the guesses and encouragement! I'm hoping that sleep the night before a marathon is overrated, because not much of it happened last night for this marathon rookie. Got out of bed at 4:00 for a light breakfast and coffee. Looks like a beautiful, if not a bit too warm, day ahead. I'm a little nervous but also very excited. Even though there are MANY more races to come, it feels like the last few months of training are being boiled down to this one day (thus the nerves, I guess). I know that the earth won't leave its axis if I have an off day. Still, like all of us, I want the race to go according to plan and to be able to report a good result. But good or bad, it'll be here for the reading!

Again, thanks for joining me on this journey so far.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

MARATHON TAPER DIET, The Finale

Ooooh, boy...


There's Still Time...

...to guess my marathon time this Saturday! Closest guess gets a free DVD copy of Running the Sahara. I saw a screening of this in March and it's an excellent documentary of a crazy group of guys who ran over 4,000 miles across the Sahara Desert.

From fastest to slowest, here are the guesses so far:
  • 3:28:47 Joe Garland
  • 3:33:20 HT
  • 3:33:30 Julie
  • 3:34:26 Mike
  • 3:36:10 Greg
  • 3:38:15 Evolving Through Running
  • 3:39:21 Adam R.
  • 3:40:30 Nancy
  • 3:41:01 John
  • 3:41:25 Ansky
  • 3:42:11 Sheila
  • 3:42:37 Javarunner
  • 3:50:00 Adam C.
  • 3:53:53 GreenGirl

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MARATHON TAPER DIET, "Fun Munch" Gluttony Edition

Mmmm...yes, my friends, it truly is a 'fun munch'*

*which still makes me laugh, every time I say it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Video Giveaway

Since several other running bloggers have been gracious enough to host giveaways, so I felt compelled to jump in and offer one of my own. I have an extra DVD copy of Running The Sahara:

Next Saturday, I'll be running my first marathon. To win the DVD, be the closest guess to my finishing time. As much as I love my friends outside the U.S., I'm only going to offer to ship the DVD in the States, due to postage costs.
Many of you probably have an idea of how my training has gone, but I'll briefly summarize:

  • I've averaged 41 miles/week during my 16-week marathon training cycle, with a high of 52 miles.
  • I've run longs runs of 18, 20, 22, 22 and 16 miles.
  • I've done a reasonable amount of hill training, tempo runs and progression runs, but very minimal speedwork.
  • I ran a 1:41 half marathon earlier this year, and have run the last half of recent long runs at 7:40-7:45, after going out at 8:45's or so (the hopeful plan for my marathon).
  • If you had to pin me down on a guess, I'd say around 3:40, but it could be anywhere from a 3:30 (if everything goes perfectly) to 4:00 (or more) if the wheels fall off.
  • The course is point-to-point, with some gentle rollers, but mostly flat.
That's about it! Post your guesses if you're interested. Thanks & good luck!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Second Taper Week DONE

In order to confess how anal I sometimes get about mileage, I'll start by telling you that, coming into this week, I had a streak of 20 straight weeks of 30 or more miles each week (most of them over 40). This week, I ended with 29.6 miles. So, can you guess what my first thought was? You are correct! "I should go out for a short run so I can get 30 for the week and keep my streak alive!" And you know what I'm going to do? Ignore that thought! Because of the marathon, I'll be over 30 next week, but the following week, I'll be well under 30, so the streak would end anyway. I'm trying to fight my tendency of being caught up in the numbers.

Here's how the week went:

Runs: 4
Miles: 29.6
Long: 13.1
Avg pace: 8:03/mile
Avg HR: 131

Next week will be very easy - short runs Mon & Tues, then a very short "loosening up" run on Friday, the day before the race.
Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MARATHON TAPER DIET, Cinco de Mayo Edition

Mmmm...chicken enchiladas & beer! ¡BueƱos noches, amigas y amigos!

MARATHON TAPER DIET

Mmmm....carbs!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Meaningful Run

Last meaningful run until the marathon, that is. I had my final scheduled double-digit run today. It was originally penciled in as a 12-miler, but I decided to make it a half marathon so I could do a test-run of my marathon, in miniature. It was VERY windy, but the rain held off.

My main concern is finding appropriate paces at different times during the race. My race plan can be summed up in two words: Patient and Conservative. That describes the first half of my race, anyway (I hope). I had a few friends run marathons this past weekend, and while I congratulate them for doing great, the comments I heard most were similar to, "man, I died at mile 18" or "those last 6 miles took forever!", etc. That may happen to me even if I do go out slowly, but I know they WILL happen if I'm NOT patient and conservative for the first half (or longer) of the race.

So, with all that said, here's how I approached today's run, as told by the numbers:


Overall time - 1:45:41 - 8:04 pace
First half - 55:23 - 8:27 pace
2nd half - 50:18 - 7:41 pace

I'm pretty happy with my pacing. My later miles were a little quicker than planned, but it's what my body naturally wanted to run. We'll see if that happens during the race. As I did in this mini-test, I'll take the first few miles very slowly, then gradually pick up the pace. Later in the race, if I've got sub-8's in me, then I'll go for it. I'm also pleased with how my heart rate settled into a nice zone later in the run. Low 140's seem to be pretty sustainable for me for a reasonable distance.

Hydration: I decided to take a drink every half mile. It ended up being a little annoying, but I wanted to make sure I was well hydrated. In the marathon, I'll probably drink once per mile. I took a shot of Hammer Gel at mile 5. In the race, I'm planning on taking a hit every 6 miles.

I weighed myself right before the run. After the run, I peed about 15 oz (don't ask me how I know. Just…trust me). During the run, I drank about 25 oz of weakly mixed Heed. When I got home, I weighed myself again and had lost 2.2 lbs. It was more than I had hoped to lose, but better than the 4.6 lbs I lost after last week's 16-mile run.

My messed-up toe was an issue again. It started feeling uncomfortable at about mile 8. I tried to focus on not pushing off with my toes (while not altering my normal stride), but I'm now convinced that my shoes are the main cause. Sadly, my Brooks Launches (my favorites) may not be my race day shoe. If I don't go with them, it'll have to be my Brooks Defyance 3's, which are a great training shoe, but a bit heavier. I'll bring both to the race and make the call there.

From here on out, every run until the race will be relatively short. I'll still throw in some marathon pace miles, but it's time to let the body fully recover. I'm still feeling a little tired, so I welcome some down time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

April Wrap-Up

Another week and another month comes to an end. Here are the final number for April:

Running Miles: 171.3
Runs: 20
Time: 24:32:12
Avg. Pace: 8:36
Avg. HR: 132
Long runs: 22, 22, 16
Races: Tulip Run 5-mi (34:47)

Here's how this first taper week went down:
Miles: 36.4
Runs: 4
Long: 16
Time: 5:02:46
Avg. Pace: 8:20
Avg. HR: 132

Monthly Mileage, Year To-Date:
Jan: 162.1
Feb: 162.7
Mar: 206.4
Apr: 171.3

Year-to-date Running Miles: 708.6

Okay, I'm even boring myself now, which means it's time to stop. Hope you all had a good week!