Friday, July 18, 2014

Beating Your Kids

Okay, so perhaps my second shock blog headline of the week. No, I don't beat my kids in the "beating up" literal sense, but my competitive spirit extends within the family. Tomorrow I will be racing my son in my third triathlon of the summer, and fifth (?) head-to-head match-up. We have both been competing in triathlons and running the last three years and he now works practically year-round on his trade. He has gone through a huge growth spurt in the last year as he approaches his sixteenth birthday in October. We started a father and son "official" rivalry back in 2012 as he "talked smack" about how he was going to beat me in a race. That didn't happen.

We have both got faster in the last year as he's grown and got coaching through Teens That Tri here in Denver and for me with my running coach through Working Class Athletics (Benita Willis.)

My son didn't beat me in that first race in 2012 and has yet to beat me in a triathlon or 5k. Don't get me wrong. I want him to beat me at some point as he's emerging in his sport and in theory, I'm in my "twilight" in the sport, but I'm not giving it up easily, or gracefully for that matter. Once he passes, me, I'll be looking at the back of his race jersey the rest of my life, and I'm okay with that.

Tomorrow is the Rocky Mountain State Games Triathlon in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We will both compete in the Sprint distance. Bring it on little man!

Have you competed with your kids in a race? How do you manage the competition?

This will also be the third race in my series of "Runs For Lungs" honoring my brother Tom who passed away last month. Miss you Bro! Will be thinking of you again tomorrow. Donate to the Lungevity Runs For Lungs Fund HERE to help kick cancer's butt!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adult Toys for Runners

Before you get excited, this is a family show (most of the time) and all about running and triathlons. With that, I have three new toys as part of my run arsenal that are too exciting not to share.


How many of your runs where you planned to run with music were delayed with untangling your iPod or MP3 cords? I have a "poor man's" option which is one of my "free" non-running runner tips and that is to put the earbuds and iPod into your runner's belt or bottle (anything with a zipper) leaving the cord outside the zipper. Next time you head out on run, it will not be tied into knots sitting in your running bag just as you left it.

For the new toy option, I'd recommend a set of Jaybirds Bluebuds X bluetooth headphones. It comes in a handy clamshell case (so you don't need to use the above method,) and has a short strap between the left and right earbud. Charging is simple as one of the buds opens up to reveal a mini-USB charge port--same as all my Samsung Galaxy chargers. They ship with a couple of rubber flaps that lock into your outer ear to hold in place as you run. It takes a little getting used to, but they stay in for me on short, fast, slow, or long runs. On one of the buds, there's a control button that turns the headphones on and off, adjusts volume, and advances songs all at the touch of a button vs. stopping to skip a song by opening up your actual device.

For the iPod snobs, it won't work with the Shuffle but will work with iPhones, iTouch, and iPod Nano (2nd generation with Bluetooth 4.0.) I use mine with my Samsung Galaxy S4. I often have my phone for safety, pictures, and my second source of music. If you happen to have a dreadmill run in the gym with a good data plan, or WIFI, you're "golden" with your Samsung, Jaybirds, and Pandora playlist.

Garmin 220

For my birthday this week, my family pitched in and got me a Garmin Forerunner 220...apparently, I've been grousing under my breath for awhile that I was due for an upgrade. I am now on my third generation of Garmins as I started with a Forerunner 205, 110, and now the Forerunner 220.

Both of my previous Garmin's still work, yet each one provided an upgrade over the predecessor. Two things I didn't like about my Forerunner 110 was the lack of history (lost from the previous version) which I regained with the newer 220. The second was the "clunky" vampire tap cable used on the 110. Yes, it eventually broke, but I am able to "jury rig" it to still work using a rubber band. I did like the fact that I could use the 110 as a regular watch which I often used.

The electronics in the 220 are clearly updated. The high resolution color display is crisp and easy to read in the dark or in direct sunlight. I've also noticed in the short time I've had it is that the satellite locks in much quicker. No longer will I be tilting my arms trying to get a signal on my wrist. The 220 also has bluetooth so I'm able to synch with either the cable or via bluetooth--both my PC's now have bluetooth which I also use to send running pictures from my Samsung (non-running tip #2--WAY easier than emailing them or texting, and free.)

If that's not cool enough, with the Garmin Connect Mobile App, others can track your position. Great for tracking within a race or for safety reasons!

I got the version (WITH) the heart rate monitor strap (the 110 also has this, but the 205 does not.) I don't always run with a HR monitor, but will use on occasion to see where I'm at relative to my zones (I've had them calculated twice now.) "Nobody puts baby in the corner," but my 110 will go to the bottom of my run bag.

Simple Hydration

I'd like to say I found this one on my own, but local ultrarunner Michael Aish uses this one. He's my running "man crush" so I reached out to Simple Hydration for a test drive. We all struggle with this one depending on how long your run is and how you carry enough water to "cover the run." I guzzle a lot and if it's anything over 30 minutes, I'm normally carrying water. I also have a watermark (pun intended) on how much to carry depending on the length of the run. One thing I absolutely loath is any kind of water belt...I feel this weighs me down and impacts my lower back and hips the most over a long run (anything over 12 miles.)

Simple Hydration has an innovative design that is curved to fit into the back of your running waistband or run belt. WARNING: Try this without tying your shorts and you will be displaying ham to the neighborhood which could either be a bonus or get you arrested. The hook hangs onto your waistband and doubles as an ergonomic fit while drinking.

After a couple trial runs, I used this in my last half marathon. Depending on how much you ingest, it carries just enough (13 oz.) to get you through a half (perhaps relying on one or two of the race water stations. Their website says 3-10 miles.) The advantage for me is that I like to take in some Generation UCAN during a race, but I'm not a professional with a team or water table to take in my own nutrition.

I was surprised at the Slacker Half Marathon to not really notice I was carrying the water (that's the whole idea!) and have the advantage of some UCAN (good enough for Meb...good enough for me!) Getting it in and out of my runbelt was not an issue at all during the race.

There's my three favorite new toys--have you tried any of them? Would love to hear from you or send me a line down the road if you try any of them out.  Email me at ty AT (spelled out to avoid spammers) or send me a DM on Twitter.

And don't forget to vote for me and SeekingBostonMarathon in the Chocolate Milk Contest!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vote Early and Often

This seems to be the week of the contest. Runner's World Magazine sent two of them my way this week so I'm rolling the dice and have entered both. Vote for both and mention on twitter or Facebook and I'll send the first 12 people a Seeking Boston Marathon sticker suitable for your skateboard, locker, laptop, notebook or cat. Voting is simple as it's merely two clicks. If you enter either of them yourself, let me know and I'll return the favor with a vote of my own.

The first contest is sponsored by Got Chocolate Milk which happens to be one of my go-to drinks after a tough workout or race. Chocolate Milk wants to know what your recovery routine looks like. I shared mine and you can vote HERE.

The grand prize here is a trip to New York for the Run 10 Feed 10 race event. Run 10 Feed 10 has teamed up with Women's Health Magazine and is hosting a number of these events to raise money to help end childhood hunger in America. Enter yourself and vote for yours truly. Other prizes here include;

GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition camera
Garmin Edge 810
Garmin Forerunner 610
Jabra Sport bluetooth headset
Smith Approach Sunglasses
Gift cards to running retailers
Special fitness swag from Men's Health, Runner's World, and Women's Health

The second contest is for the December cover of Runner's World Magazine. How cool is that? Vote HERE or click on the photo below.

RUNNER’S WORLD tells the stories of remarkable runners. Authentic, inspiring, athletic, passionate, unstoppable runners who have achieved remarkable things through running.

Thanks in advance for the votes. If you enter, drop me a line and I'll return the favor (vote!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Firecracker 5000

Last year I missed all the local fourth of July 5K races and (as many things do,) it was a source of irritation. Kicking myself..."why didn't I race" questions raced through my head as I looked at all the red, white, and blue. At this year's Boston Marathon, I bought the perfect stars and stripes singlet that (from InknBurn) that I'd considered wearing at the 2014 Boston Marathon, but opted to wear the same singlet from the 2013 race. For the last few months, my patriotic singlet continued to swirl as an un-used option in my running clothes laundry basket that sits at the back of my closet as I sift through shirts for each day's workout.

This year, my stars and stripe singlet and desire for a little fourth of July 5k sizzle was not to be denied. The week leading up to the fourth wasn't exactly ideal as family was in town and my diet and training was off kilter. Gluttony comes to mind. With that, I didn't register until race morning for the Highlands Ranch Independence Day 5K. Highlands Ranch is my home neighborhood and is one of the largest suburbs in America. It's literally my "home court" as the starting line was less than a 1/2 mile from my house and in the same parking lot where I drink my beer on the occasional Saturday night and coffee shop where I often fuel my day. A perfect choice, but I also knew what I was getting into as it's anything but flat.

There's literally no direction outside my front door that is flat. The race director billed this one as a "fast course" with a new layout. They were 2/3 correct as the first two miles were just that--screaming fast, but I jogged the course earlier in the week and knew the last mile was all uphill. As a training neighborhood, it's great for hills, but I wasn't sure if this was another sub-twenty course.

The mood was definitely festive as the beer tents were getting set up along with the inflatable bouncy castles for the kids, the radio station was out, and the stage for the band was getting set up. Record crowds were expected for the race with 950 registrants--granted, many of these were walkers and parents pushing strollers, but Highlands Ranch is also home to some pretty flippin' fast runners. Despite having raced a tough downhill course the week before at the Slacker Half Marathon and still feeling a bit sore, my personal expectations were still high.

The night before, I'd marked my leg with the initials "T.R." as I'd done the week before as I was honoring my brother Tom who succumbed to cancer in June. This would be my second race in my "Runs For Lungs" campaign to raise money for Lungevity which goes towards cancer research. (Donate HERE.)

My energy for the first 2/3 of the race was solid as I ran super fast in the first mile and held the pace I wanted in the second mile. I went out this way knowing that it would be tough to run a 6:20 pace in the last uphill mile. There was a runner who felt my hot breath throughout 70% of the race ahead of me, but I knew my last 1/2 mile kick would pass him. Not that the clothes make the man or the runner, but I wasn't going to let someone in basketball shorts beat me on this day even if he was twenty years younger than me. TR would not be impressed. :)

When it was all said and done, this race was a blast. (pun intended.) As they often do, Highlands Ranch and Racing Underground do a great job of organizing a race, and despite wanting to throw up for the last seven minutes, I enjoyed the new race layout. The icing on the cake was a 2nd on the 4th as in second place in my age group with a 20:06. My second fastest 5k, and a red, white, and blue banner day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Heavy Lungs, Heavy Heart, Heavy Legs, Heavy Metal

You get the point. There were many heavy things about my last race. The Slacker Half Marathon from Loveland Ski area to Georgetown, Colorado.

The heaviest of which was the thoughts of my brother Tom who lost his battle with lung cancer this month. Prior to the Slacker, I decided to dedicate this race to "TR" (Thomas Robert) as we called him. The news of his death was expected as I was in Kansas City a few weeks earlier to see him one last time and to say goodbye. Everything else (including work and running) became secondary yet I went about my days trying to focus on both--not very well. As I literally moved through the phases of coping with death, I moved towards "acceptance" and decided to dedicate this race and the rest of my 2014 running campaign to him by raising money for lung cancer (HERE.)

Tom (as the oldest brother) of the family taught his siblings many things; Hendrix to my brother Tim, and skiing to me. Somewhat fitting, Tom taught me how to ski at Loveland Ski area where I'd race on Saturday and had set my half marathon PR of 1:29:18 a year prior. Since that race a year ago, I wanted to return to "shave" 18" seconds off to run a 1:29 or better to qualify for the New York City Marathon. New York allows you to qualify with either a half or full marathon qualifying time. Generally the qualifying times are much more difficult than qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

The morning of the race, I used a Sharpie to write "TR" in block letters on one of my legs. I was unsure how I would manage the emotions of the race with him in mind. During the race itself, I was fine, but looking at the initials on my leg as I drove up I-70 to Loveland, I choked up as I looked at the mountains he loved to ski on in his youth.

This is not the typical spot of a race recap blog where I list everything that went wrong that lead to a disappointing performance, but my confidence was mixed going into the race as my training seemed to have been "going through the motions" the last month. Stress, travel, poor sleep did not help. I had a few good long runs along with my typical speed work. I know I can run fast, but was not sure if I could run fast for 13.1 miles.

I spotted two of my age group rivals who are faster than me at the start along with some other running friends including Ellen from DailyMile and Richard from my race team; Working Class Athletics. I set aside the two faster race rivals and had a mindset of running "my race" but also wanting to try and hit the podium. It would not seem fitting to dedicate a race to someone without going all out or winning at some level.

Perhaps it was the 10,630 starting elevation at the start of the race, but my lungs were heavy and labored in the first mile of the race. There was not much race strategy other than to average a 6:40 to 6:45 minute per mile pace. Once my lungs calmed down, I realized my overall energy was just not there. Heavy legs. Tired. Not the things you want in a race in the early miles.

One thing I did change with this race was using my new Simple Hydration bottle. I never carry water in a race yet wanted to find a way to get some of my usual Generation UCAN within a race. Simple Hydration has a curved  and hook-shaped design that slips into your waistband or running fuel belt (in the back) and is lightest and least disruptive solution I've found. I will definitely use this again in my next half.

We were fortunate to have a nice cool tailwind and I managed to hold the goal pace quite well with my half mile splits until the slight uphill at mile 6.5. My pace slowed to a 7:20 pace. Later those 35 seconds would cost me. Another incline on the overall downhill course at mile ten slowed me to a similar pace. Another 35 seconds lost. Once in the mining city of Georgetown, the course flattens with a couple slight inclines that cost me another 15 seconds.

At the finish line was my daughter cheering me on to a 1:30:12. Seventy two seconds off my primary goal but good enough for a 3rd place in my age group in a very tough field. Hopefully, TR would have been proud.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Heavy Heart

Sorry I have been off the grid here lately, but I lost a brother to lung cancer last week. It goes without saying, that blogging has been the last thing on my mind. Running is often my "drug of choice" when dealing with ups and downs of life. I have been juggling work stress, family, travel, and the latest news while trying to maintain my training. My brother Tom would not want me quitting on anything, but to celebrate his life and go out and do my best. My next race is this Saturday where I had high hopes and goals. I'm not sure where my training level is at, but I will race with him in mind.