Thursday, March 5, 2015

I'll Be Your Coach Karlie

As runners we are presented with a precious gift and that's to lace up shoes every day, walk out the door, and explore the world around us with our own two feet.

Runner's World sent an email out this morning about a supermodel, Karlie Kloss who is certainly built like a runner (even though she doesn't think so...think VERY long supermodel legs) but detests running as she posted on her Instagram.

Runner's World has done their part by putting together a Catwalk to 10K(#CatwalkTo10K) training plan (HERE.)

I consider it my philanthropic duty to offer up my coaching services to Karlie at no charge (especially since it appears that she's starting her training in Paris.) I feel I am overqualified for this important position because I;

1) LOVE running and am convinced I can make you love it too.
2) I love running in Paris too.
3) Like yourself, I loathed running and actually made fun of runners in high school, so I can relate.
4) I have matching running tights.
5) With my training you can occasionally "splurge" on food, drink beer, and still maintain your supermodel figure.

To answer your Instagram question you posed on my first day of running, "What inspires, motivates, or challenges you?" Challenges inspire me! One small goal at a time which has never been stronger as I've battled back from serious injury to racing in my fifth Boston Marathon next month. I'll await your tweet, Facebook page comment, Instagram Direct Message, or blog comment below to begin your coaching.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do Marathons Ever Move Indoors?

Boston got hammered again in the last 48 hours with snow. Let's hope it melts by next month's Boston Marathon. Locally, the trails are covered in snow in Denver and more snow is showing up today. How has your winter training gone, and at what point do you move a run indoors?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Miracle on Ice

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit, but other titles that were considered were rejected by the editors of SeekingBostonMarathon.com;

"A pretty good day"
"A good run on a cold day"
and
"Thank you Sir, May I Have Another" (would have been confused with my Fifty Shades of Marathon Grey post.)

While I provide write-ups of nearly all races, I never recap training runs as they're typically quite run of the mill (no pun intended,) uneventful, and quite frankly boring. While I've been spoiled with some absolutely fantastic running venues on the road, I have also been quite run down (another run pun) as of late with a heinous travel and work schedule. Get out your "cry me a river" mini-violins, but the last two weeks have been on the road to Seattle and San Francisco with work. One of those days looked like this;

5:30 AM Conference Call with Boston from Seattle
6:00-7:20 Squeeze in a seven mile recovery run before the regular workday started
8:00 AM Breakfast and strategy meeting for the day ahead.
8-5PM Three customer meetings.
5:00 PM Customer demo after hours
7:00 PM De-brief with management over dinner in a strip mall
8:30 PM Conference call on escalation issue
9:30 PM Eyes collapse halfway to hitting my hotel room pillow and thinking about 6:30 AM conference call.

The one misnomer about distance runners is that with all that training you must be in incredible shape and have all sorts of energy. Half of that may be true, but you're downright exhausted. For those that travel, you know that airplanes, hotels, differences in time zones create additional strain on the body and takes extra planning to fit in training every day. Worst example of that was two years ago in Barcelona (no I'm not complaining) having to squeeze in an 80 minute run before the breakfast, tradeshow full day, and into the evening with client dinners. A six AM run was essentially 10PM according to my body clock...then my day started. Anyway, you get the point.

All this leads up to my first Boston Marathon simulated training run last Saturday preceded by 48 hours similar to the timetable outlined above on Wednesday and Thursday and traveling home to Denver on Friday. I had the option of taking a "rest day" on Friday, but my "alpha male" decided on a 13 mile indoor spin followed by weights on Friday afternoon. The weather forecast called for Denver's version of "Snowmageddon" throughout the weekend. I was "flat out" tired and considered emailing my run coach begging for sympathy and "could I move this to Monday," or "the following weekend?" Pure testosterone kicked in, and I set the alarm to knock out the eighteen mile run on Saturday.

Friday night, my wife prepared a fantastic chicken and dumpling dinner, I loaded up on some iron and B vitamins and "crashed hard" before 10 PM. Many of Runner's Roost Race teammates were racing on Saturday morning at my favorite run series at nearby Hudson Gardens, but I notched my first race the weekend before at the Love 'Em or Leave 'Em 5k knowing I wanted to get the simulated run in on this Saturday. I had horrible energy for that 5K but managed a podium running on a bad back and pure guts in that race. I had a lethargic twelve mile recovery run the following Sunday. All this played "mind games" with my confidence going into the simulated Boston run.

My coach's plan for this training run was a six mile warm-up (30-45 seconds slower than marathon goal pace) followed by some quick stretching. Post stretch were three x three miles with the first set 10-15 seconds slower than marathon pace. The second three mile set was followed by a two minute recovery "jog" running at marathon goal pace.

The last three mile set was 10-15 seconds faster than marathon goal pace. I would finish with 2-3 recovery miles. This is consistent with many of my training runs which either alternate fast and faster or as I did on this day, progressively run faster. This makes sense if you want negative splits or simply want to have energy in the second half of a marathon. I ran this one at Denver's Washington Park which has a roughly 2.5 mile loop around the park. The deep snow didn't materialize until later in the weekend, but the outer gravel path was quite sloppy with a mix of snow, mud, and ice. I stuck to the inner asphalt roads and started out way too fast.

Given my current state of conditioning and what I felt like, it was hard for me to put a target on what my marathon pace should be. An eight minute per mile pace would be a 3:30 marathon and five minutes below my BQ target. While I'm not sure yet if I have it in me, I still want to break 3:20 which means a 7:40 or better pace. My 5k and half marathon times indicate this is quite doable, but I've yet to break 3:20. Anyhow, I set 7:40-7:50 as the rough marathon goal pace targets for this day.

As I mentioned, I went out a bit too fast hovering an eight minute per mile pace during the six mile warm-up. I don't want to taunt the "run gods," but it seemed quite comfortable.  I consciously continued to try and slow it down, but running slow still hung around 8:05 pace. My confidence was building. The one thing I like about runs like this is you compartmentalize each segment vs. thinking, "I have to run 18 goal-paced miles!" No, this was a six mile jog, three three mile runs with two minute recoveries, and the cooldown would be the easiest part. Sometimes simpler said than done.

The first three mile set was easy considering I basically ran that pace during warm-up. The crowds were thin in the park, but had a good number of hearty runners out there along with the Chinese yoga group squatting in the Northwest corner of the park. There was what felt like a five mile an hour breeze, but it didn't seem to impact me much considering it would only be a headwind half the time on a looped course. I seemed to have worn the right level of clothing with a light skull cap, long-sleeve Eddie Bauer run shirt, gloves (of course,) and my Nike run vest. I wore my favorite Skins compression tights which ironically I wore in my marathon PR race in Sacramento.

The second set mentally seemed quite doable again thinking, I just need to knock out three miles hovering a 7:40 pace. Lethargy hadn't set in yet, and I dosed with Hammer Gels and my new-found love, SOS Hydration. Having a loop course, I used my larger water bottle at my car, and carried it for the first six miles. I then switched to my Simple Hydration bottle that slips nicely inside your run belt and pants basically nestled in your butt crack. The beauty of this you really don't notice the weight yet can carry your favorite liquids.

After the second set, I again had the two minute recovery then mentally said, just three miles left. My energy was still there and decided to push it a bit. In the third mile (actually mile 15 at this point) I ran a 7:18 mile. Infrickinsane! I had no idea where this energy had been or where it came from. Yes, I was a bit tired after that last set, but mentally it was now cooldown time and I ran roughly 2.5 miles to make it an even eighteen miles for the day.

I tweeted, Instagram'ed, and posted on DailyMile and Facebook. I have an amazing support group online and got comment such as;

From SugarMagnolia; "how you've gone from a collapsed lung to 18 miles at an incredible pace is a testament to your strength and dedication. Wow!"
From Barb on DailyMile;  "dang! look at you go!! effing fantastic!"

And the best part was from my coach, "Glad to be in charge of your program and help all I can but at the end of the day, your improvement and this fantastic comeback, is vastly due to your hard work physically and mentally, coming back form disappointment."

No miracle, but a good day at the office.
SeekingBostonMarathon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Team Sport

This year has been fantastic thus far with a mere 3.1 racing miles under my belt. As I've chronicled here, this isn't a comeback (I won't call it that Brian,) but I've come a long way in seven months in terms of training and hopefully getting back to my podium ways, but there have been a few significant things happening on the blog and athlete front outside what happens outside.
Sporting the 2014 BlueSeventy Helix

Good things must happen in threes as I was selected to be a Fitfluential Ambassador, speaker for FitBloggin15 in Denver and I am thrilled and honored to be selected as part of the Runner's Roost triathlon team. On Sunday afternoon, I attended the Roost Running Triathlon Race Team meeting at the Runner's Roost Denver store. Denver is not unlike most running communities in that it's a very tight-knit group that are passionate about the sport of running and triathlons. While I know many of the athletes on the team, this year I get to represent the best run and triathlon store in Colorado boasting many of the states top athletes.

Fun and Fast Group
Sunday's meeting was a lot of fun seeing some good friends including Ted who loaned me my first wetsuit for my very first triathlon. My wife can blame him for getting me hooked on the sport, and I already apologized for peeing in his suit. I did do him the favor of rinsing it out. Also there were the DiCroce's who I used to run with every Saturday with Runner's Edge of the Rockies. I still remember Sarah telling me that Ironmans are easier than marathons. I'm hoping to prove that out some day but this summer will continue to focus on the shorter tri distances.

Runner's Roost has teamed up again this year with BlueSeventy for the team wetsuits, goggles, and tri-bags. I raced in a Helix last summer and absolutely loved the buoyancy, flexibility in the arms, and zipper construction.  Roost has also partnered with local (Boulder, CO) company Pearl Izumi for
Race Team Gear
shirts, shorts, tri racing suit, and E:Motion Tri N1 v2 triathlon shoes (shown left.) We received our Runner's Roost logo tri bags, shoes, and race shirts at the meeting with the balance of the gear coming in April. Who doesn't love some killer swag? What makes it easier is being a fan of the store and both sponsors brands before making the team.

For many a triathlete especially in Colorado, there are many hours on the trainer indoors, swims at the recreation center, or the occasional outdoor ride (not lately) on the unseasonably warm day. For me, my primary focus for the next eight weeks remains Boston Marathon training and getting my "lungs back." My current run coach knows I will switch to triathlons soon after Boston so she's already incorporating the swim and (indoor) bike on my cross-training days. I note that my rides have been indoors as the bike I totaled in July is still totaled, but I've started to drool over bikes on web-sites as I'm shopping for my 2015 ride.


SeekingBostonMarathon


2015 Mens Helix Full Wetsuit

Friday, February 20, 2015

Love 'Em or Leave 'Em Fast

"Love 'em or leave 'em fast" (Prince: Little Red Corvette)

It was a "Love 'Em or Leave 'Em" 5k but it was anything but fast. I am at roughly the halfway point (rough is the right word) to the 2015 Boston Marathon and stubbornness is outweighing performance at the moment. I hadn't raced yet in 2014 and was bound and determined to race before the month of February was out. My timing could not have been worse (start string of excuses on why I fell short of my own expectations.)

Work has been busy and on the road with lots of trips to Seattle which provides for some great destination runs on the road, but travel can tend to wear a man out and takes a lot of planning to get planned runs into the schedule. Last Wednesday and Thursday were heinous work days of the 15 hour variety. Thursday started with a conference call at 5:30 AM, squeeze in a quick recovery run, then off to meetings which ended with a 5PM customer meeting, debrief, and back to the hotel for an 8:30 PM meeting. I dragged my tired butt to the airport Friday morning to discover I had seat 34B as in "back of the bus" and right near the "bathroom."

I had work to do on the plane which contorted my body to fit between passengers in 34A and 34C. My back (which is not the best) started to tighten up. By Saturday night, I'd officially "thrown out" my back and could visibly see my alignment was out of joint compensating for the pain in my lower left back. I slept like crap, and woke up with stomach issues. In other words, perfect conditions to go out and "race" a 5k.

I had a couple Valentine's Day 5k options and opted for the one closest to home with a later start thinking the extra 45 minutes of sleep was needed. My back ached with sharp pain in the morning. My ribs hurt from the 50 miles run over the week. My run demon overcame my logic angel and head out to Parker, Colorado for the race.

After arriving and registering for the race, I started to jog back to the car. My back was killing me and each step in my slow jog sent sharp pain to my lower back. Shit. I was thinking this may not be so smart to try and race but smart and my run decision-making don't always align and I'd already paid my $35. I went for a mile warm-up run and the back loosened up a bit as I tried to survey the course I hadn't run before. I ran with a father and his lanky 13-year-old son who was on the cross country team, and looked fast. His father and I both commented about "oh to be young and fast." The 5k course was largely flat with a couple of modest rises. There was also a cone (I hate cones) at the halfway turnaround point so I could see who was ahead of me as anyone ahead would cross paths with me as I approached said cone.

My strategy was use adrenaline for the first mile hoping for mid six minute pace, keep it around the upper six minute per mile pace for mile two, and use guts and adrenaline again in mile three. As the runners congregated around the starting mat, I spotted someone lined up near the front that looked about my age. He looked serious as I did. I figured I'd "cloak" him as best as possible and try and take him at the end. I never lost sight of him, but never caught him either. The 13 year old I'd warmed up with was ahead for most of the run and I'd take him around mile two and a half. This was not a PR day as I was sore, tired, and it took everything I had to muster a top ten finish and manage second in my age group behind "Lile" who I'd meet after the race.

As I wrote this post today, I looked back at my three races since my accident and took some solace in the progress I'd made;

November Turkey Day 5k Nov. '14: 22: 28 (Did not place)
Santa Stampede 5k Dec. '14: 21:15 (2nd AG)
Love 'Em or Leave 'Em 5k Feb. '15: 20:52

I took further comfort knowing I felt like crap and was exhausted this day. Low twenty minute should be the goal next time out to get even closer to my sub-twenty PR pace of 19:21 last March.

Confidence despite the disappointment on the way to my fifth Boston Marathon in April.

SeekingBostonMarathon

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fifty Shades of Marathon Grey

Blog Disclaimer:  This post contains material which will make the next encounter with my parents, parents' friends, my kids (they never read this anyway,) and former youth pastor quite awkward.  If you fall in those categories or are easily offended, thank you for the page view, but please skip this one.  Not the first time that SBM has been offensive.  An SBM post on S/M.

With the movie release of Fifty Shades of Grey, it's appropriate to point out the fact that Mr. Grey was a runner in the book and there are several parallels between running and the book (will have to update the movie comparisons after seeing it Valentine's Day weekend.)

Occasionally, I poke my head outside the running world and tune into society.  I was in Raleigh a few weeks ago and was discussing what to get my wife for her birthday.  A colleague of mine mentioned that at a neighborhood gathering, all the wives were talking about the book, "Fifty Shades of Grey."  He'd downloaded it to his Kindle and promptly got busted by his wife.  "But honey, I bought it for you."  That didn't go over very well.  What's all the fuss about with this NY Times #1 Best Seller #mommyporn

If you haven't heard about the book, you've been "living under a rock." Apparently, all the rage in suburbia here in the US, Fifty Shades of Grey is about bad boy Christian Grey.  Half perfect (rich, handsome, fit,) and half messed up.  Christian is incapable of having a "normal" relationship and is a hardcore sadomasochist.  Didn't we get a spanking as a kid for each year?  I decided that a book about spanking was a  perfect birthday gift along with a couple other traditional gifts; shoes, and perfume.

Curiousity got the better of me, and I started reading (for pure research purposes) about Mr. Grey and realized he must be a marathon runner.  Why?  My top ten reasons why marathon running is like Fifty Shades of Grey.

1)  According to dictionary.com, a sadomachochist is someone who likes to inflict pain or one who derives pleasure from pain.  Training is tough. You know that miles 21-26.2 of a race will have a healthy dose of pain, yet we love the sport.  In fact, you could say marathoners actually pay for pain.
2)  Both are obsessions. 
3)  Both take up a lot of real estate.  He has a whole room dedicated to his sport.  I merely have a part of my closet and the trunk of my car dedicated to mine.
3)  Sore nipples.
4)  No doubt, a lot of sweating going on with both.
5)  Shortness of breath.  Chafing.
6)  We both spend most of our time thinking about it, and not enough time doing it.
7)  Lots of "toys."
8)  Plenty of people label both as "unhealthy" yet those that indulge, defend them as healthy lifestyles.
9)  Lots of lube or Body Glide.
10) "Thank you sir, may I have another?"  At some point during the process, we swear that we'll never do it again. We always come back for more.

Mr. Grey is clearly a marathon runner as we both derive pleasure from this often painful sport.  You might say, we are a slave to the sport.
SeekingBostonMarathon

A Run at Night Was a Scary Sight

It all seemed so right, to run at night.
The weather was warm, not a cloud in sight.
A perfect day, a perfect night.
Away from cars, under stars.
Away from bars, isn't that Mars?

I strapped on a light and ran in the night.
It seemed perfect, it seemed right.

Not a normal run, without the sun.
Cold it was not, in fact it was hot.
Odd at that, considering it's winter.
There should be snow, there should be ice.
Without freezing this would be nice.

As I entered the trail, it became quite dark.
All around me, the dogs bark, barked, bark.
Barely a moon, I ran with my hat.
It wasn't dark, it was darker than that.

I ran with no music, just the sounds of the night.
It started so subtle, with no one in sight.
I looked left, I looked right.
As the scary noises grew in the night.

I looked left, I looked right.
Brustle in the bushes as I flashed my light.
I heard this, I heard that.
Noises played with my head, was that a cat?
The noise was too loud, it couldn't be that.
This animal was not that, it wasn't a cat.

Rabbits run wild on this very trail.
The rabbit, the hare, it couldn't be that.
It couldn't be that, it was not a cat.

Was it a lion, was it coyote?
My mind ran wild as if on peyote.
Left, right, the noises grew.
Was I their meal, was I their stew?

As I headed back, my pace increased.
Running fast, away from the beast.
I saw the bunnies, I saw the hare.
The howling animals gave me a scare.

Not all for naught, as I was not caught.
At the end of my run, no longer fear.
There was no deer, only a beer.
SeekingBostonMarathon