Thursday, August 27, 2015

Something Doesn't Smell Right About Rock & Roll Denver

UPDATE: I will admit when I'm wrong. The Rock 'n' Roll Denver did not move to Commerce City. I was contacted by their PR and was advised that it in fact starts at the Adams County Fairgrounds. Unfortunately, it still runs through Commerce City and local runners that know that stretch of the Platte just don't run there. The biggest issue is Denver seems to becoming harder and harder to get a permit for run races. Considering the run crazed nature of our town, I don't get it. The race does not run through the refinery depicted in the original post. It only gets within .2 mile of the facility.




Original Post:

Arguably the mecca of the running sport (perhaps Eugene may contest this,) Denver can't seem to buy a break when it comes to distance events this summer. Earlier this summer, the Revel Marathon had several hundred participants show up, but the buses did not. I give Revel credit as their only issue was trusting a guy named Tony with the busing of athletes. As it turned out, Tony's PUC complaint list was longer than Meb's fan club mailing list.

Not to be outdone, the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon has been moved outside of Denver to (drum roll please...) Commerce City! Rock 'n' Roll Commerce City doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and doesn't seem to fit with the likes of Rock 'n' Roll San Diego (I've run twice,) Montreal, New Orleans, and the list goes on of every glamorous city you'd want to race in. Every part of Denver has a redeeming quality, but Commerce City isn't what you see in the "Visit Denver" commercials. As a Denver native, I associate Commerce City (as many do that don't live in Commerce City) with the Oil Refinery that burns your eyes and nasal passages when you pass through along I-270. It's also home to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. If that sounds like an oxymoron, that's because it is.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal in 1960 (source: Wikipedia)

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal was a chemical weapons manufacturing center in World War II and also served as a prisoner of war camp. Parts were later sold off to the old Denver Stapleton Airport and eventually closed in 1992. Just as bright as turning Denver Rock 'n' Roll into Commerce City Rock 'n' Roll none other than George W. Bush turned it into a nature preserve with the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act. While it's now home to over 300 species of wildlife, I wonder about the effectiveness of the toxic cleanup of things like Sarin Gas. For some reason, arsenal, prison camp, airport, and toxic waste clean-up are not the images you want folks to conjure up when they're thinking of dropping "hard earned" wages on a destination marathon.

"Win the race, win a rabbit!" Rabbits used for Sarin Gas safety testing (Source: Wikipedia)
Misconceptions of Denver's other smelliest part, the Purina dog food plant belonging to Commerce City aren't true. It's on the other side of the railroad tracks and belongs to Denver. Commerce City is however home to Denver's fifth favorite professional sports team, the Colorado Rapids. So, they have that going for them.

The Rock 'n' Roll website describes the course running along Denver's Platte River which is gorgeous in parts of town, but when I've run that far north, I turn around. I had a run group have a scheduled run along Denver's Highline Canal and Platte once before in that area, and it's not pretty. The course map shows a gradual climb over the entire course. Sign me up! #sarcasm (I prefer downhill at my age.)





To minimize the  hate mail I might get from "Commercians," I consulted Yelp to see what others thought of Commerce City;

"Lower Commerce City is terrifying. With pilot flames and maze-like one lane roads, it is one of my least favorite places to drive."

"Thanks to Suncore and extremely cheap housing and real estate, Commerce City has become a sort of Mecca of industry meets meth users meets grey hound gambling megalopolis."


Denver Rock 'n' Roll in 2012 when it was in Denver
According to local 9News, the event this year was plagued with permit issues and complaints from locals. ""We got essentially informed that we would have to come up with a new plan," said David Benjes, one of the organizers. He added the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon planners learned of the changes "sort of late in the game...It's a solid course. It's a rural course. We'll have bands every mile," Benjes said. Umm...not sure if David has run through Commerce City...they're not known for attracting runners.

Given all that, with the race right around the corner on the calendar, it sounds like they made the best of the situation, but having raced and paced the Denver Rock 'n' Roll before, this one is not on my list this year. If you do plan to run the event, you might want to pack your own water. Or as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith would say, "Cmon man!"

Author's Note: Revel made the best of the situation by offering full refunds--see POST. I'm hoping Revel can survive all the refunds and I'm also hoping Rock 'n' Roll can survive this year's P.R. challenge and bring the race back to it's namesake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seeking Boston Marathon is Seeking New York City

There's an elephant in the room and its name is the New York City Marathon. I won't rehash all the injuries or talk of "comeback" over the last year, but the fact is, I had set a goal a long time ago that I not only wanted to run the New York City Marathon, I wanted to qualify to get in. Part of what drove me was someone who told me I couldn't get in via qualification.

I did that last year (running a 1:29 half marathon,) but an accident, meltdown at the Boston Marathon, and injury setbacks have got in the way of fulfilling my goal of actually racing in it.

May 18th I started rehab on the torn labrum in my left hip. The same hip that hampered the whole month prior to Boston and lead to my slowest marathon ever. I have had more doubt than optimism over the last three months and only started running again in early July. Those first few runs were not pretty. I was out of shape and literally weighed more than I have in probably fifteen years. Apparently, I was "stress eating." My hip was still sore. My physical therapist told me I could scale back on the strength exercises, but perhaps with Meb (Meb For Mere Mortals) speaking to my running subconscious, I decided that I needed to do more; not less.

Since then, I have been a devout stretch and strength guy. I have averaged six days a week upping my time per day at 25-30 minutes doing a variety of strength and stretching (see POST.) I have combined that with a blend of chiropractic work, ART (Active Release Therapy,) and massage on average of once a week. In all, that's around 2,500 minutes since May. You might say I want to run that race.

I have been talking to my running coach, but had not told her I was going to race New York, but was going to start increasing my miles to see if my body could handle it. I started that around sixteen weeks out from New York which is when I typically start the official training plan for a marathon. I started introducing normal aspects of my training which included speed work on Tuesday or Wednesday, tempo on a Saturday, and long on a Sunday. My hip was getting stronger, but I still had some days of soreness.

Then along the way, something odd happened. I started to get a bit faster, and I started to have some days where the hip didn't bother before, during, or after a run. I iced it a lot (and still do.) Since mid-May I have also done a lot of cross-training (swim and bike,) and resumed doing triathlons. I've raced twice and have another sprint triathlon this coming weekend.

This last week was more than a bit of a breakthrough. I had the best bike ride perhaps ever. I increased my quantity (8x) and speed (progressing to sub-six minute per mile pace) on Yassos on my speed work-out day; then followed that with a nine mile tempo run on Saturday with a 14 mile long run on Sunday. That was my best weekend in six months.

Not even two weeks ago, I felt I was headed to surgery and made a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon on Monday (yesterday.) I took a long time getting to the point, but my doc was thrilled. He was impressed with my strength and stretch regiment. At this point, he's given me a solid green light to run in New York. Fuhhgetaboutit! Getthef*ckouttahere! You gotta be kidding me!? Yes, the hotel is booked, and I'm all in. Bring it on. Start spreading the news.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Soybu Apparel Review and #Giveaway #WinAllThePrizes

This is a review and a GIVEAWAY post. This giveaway has an added bonus of a linkup that offers several other giveaways at the bottom of this post. Enter to #WinAllthePrizes and please add your giveaway too!

There are some things that just aren't right. Like MLB baseball managers wearing a player's uniform. As if Jim Leyland was going to take over first base or pinch hit at age 70 for the Detroit Tigers. The
other thing that doesn't feel right is wearing my running clothes when I head to the gym for cross training, weights, or (rare) sweat yoga session. While I generally don't care what I look like at the gym, I do care about feeling comfortable with what I'm wearing depending on the workout.

At this year's Fitbloggin conference, local (Denver-based) Soybu had a fashion show and handed out a nice piece to each of the attendees. Their long-sleeve Kinetic Storm became one of my favorite new shirts. I've gone to the point of hiding it from my teenage son who's also a triathlete and discovered he's the same size as me. While much of Soybu's apparel is oriented towards women and yoga fitness, they also have an expanding line of men's clothing. I was impressed by the fact that Soybu embraced all body types as they offer a wide range of sizes (many they had in the Fitbloggin' fashion show.)

They won't say it, but I will--they struck me as the anti-Lululemon company. I could never bring myself to buy their men's clothing as it seemed pretentious and that was before the controversy last year. Given all that, I reached out to Soybu and they gratiously provided a couple pieces for me to test drive. (I received no other compensation for this post, and the opinions contained herein are mine.)
If you've been following my journey of late, I have been working hard on rehabilitating a torn labrum in my hip, so since the middle of May, I have 25-30 minutes a day of stretching and strength work combined with a lot of cross-training vs. running 6-7 days a week. I have been wearing the Kinetic Short-sleeve Storm shirt and Samurai Short Storm gym shorts. They tout the shorts as the perfect "gym to life" shorts and I must say I have to agree. Given the summer temps in Colorado, and working out of the house, I'm always in shorts.

The Samurai's allow me to go from home office, to my physical therapy, and function as my workout clothes when I'm doing my strength work in the gym or on the yoga mat at home. They have a blend of lightweight fabric and stretchable fabric they move with all my stretches, but are light enough for running or other cross-training. The shirt is an anti-wicking material that's also light-weight with an athletic vs. "boxy" gym shirt. Can you say "crazy comfortable?"

My only complaint is they hadn't come out with black which is now available in the shorts.

Now onto the really fun stuff. Soybu has generously provided one item of your choice from their website for the winner in the giveaway posted below.  I have also teamed with RunningwithSDMom.com and EricaFinds.com in their #WinAllThePrizes #Linkup. You can post your giveaway with the link-up at the bottom of this post, enter the Soybu #giveaway, and check out the others in the Wednesday Giveaway Roundup (rules HERE.)

                                           

The Seeking Boston Marathon Soybu giveaway runs for ten days. Signing up for the Soybu mailing list will also send you a 25% off coupon.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, August 17, 2015

Meme Monday: The Shining Marathon



Friday, August 14, 2015

Rocky Mountain High

Okay, okay, the most overused term in Colorado is the title of this post which has more to do with our state's reputation as the "Amsterdam of the West." In this case, last weekend I competed in the Rocky Mountain Triathlon in Silverthorne, Colorado touted as the highest triathlon in the world at 8,730 feet.

This was only my second triathlon of the year in my abbreviated campaign as I've continued to rehabilitate the torn labrum in my right hip. I have traveled through Silverthorne several times over the years as it's on the way to Vail and many other ski areas. Silverthorne is in a mountain valley just beyond the Eisenhower tunnel along I-70 which had it's origins in mining and served as a camp for workers building the nearby Dillon Dam. The race transition area was in the North Pond off Highway 9. All in all, by far the most beautiful triathlon course I've ever competed in on all three legs. The run leg took off south along the Blue River Trail.

With heavy rain and flooding in the Denver area this summer, my normal open-water swim area has been shut down for much of the summer so I haven't had much open water practice. Dealing with elevation, and mountain cold water temperatures, my son (also racing) and I had a practice swim in our BlueSeventy wetsuits on Saturday with the race on Sunday. Considering there was still snow in ski areas in July, the water was quite a bit colder than what we'd been swimming in Denver this summer so it was a "good move" to get an idea of what we'd encounter on Sunday.

I had slightly higher expectations of myself compared to my first race since I'd only been running a few weeks on the bum hip prior to my first race. There were two distances; sprint and olympic and I opted (as I normally do) for the shorter and faster course. I have a need for speed! With a smaller body of water and perhaps the water temps, the swim was only 400 meter, bike was ten miles, and run was the typical 5k.

We stayed in Keystone nearby at the Keystone Lodge and Spa which I'd highly recommend. We had a fantastic dinner in the hotel the night before and I soaked in the hot tub before my usual "tossing and turning" night of sleep before a race. The room was spacious with an amazing view of the mountains and a crazy comfortable bed so I actually slept quite a bit better than normal. The morning routine was just that not before stopping for a quick cup of "joe" in town before racking our bikes in transition.

The mountain morning air was "crisp" for sure as even the volunteers were shuttering as they checked us in. Before the race started, I had another swim warm-up and was ready for the race. The only challenge with the pond was the water's edge went from gravel to large rocks in very shallow water so running in (or out) would be a challenge.

My swim leg was respectable, but I veered off a bit a couple times and my breathing was off in the first half. I raced in the safe confines of my local pool earlier in the week at the 400 meter distance which was around seven minutes. With my indirect line in the water and some of my normal abnormal open-water breathing, my swim was just under nine minutes. My transitions in this race were methodical with respectable times of 1:14 and 1:13. There's definitely room for improvement in my T1 getting out of the wetsuit, but my "flying squirrel" mount of the bike on my shoes already clipped in went quite well this time around.

The bike course was touted as flat which it generally was until the return leg of the out-and-back which seemed slightly uphill but the bigger issue was a headwind the whole way back. I was absolutely flying on the outbound at one point going 32 mph which is the fastest I've gone in a race on a flat course. Unfortunately, I lost time on the headwind return, but at least hit my goal of averaging over 20 mph on the bike leg.

As I mentioned, the run course was beautiful as it ran along the Blue River Trail. I felt I'd absolutely "bombed" my first triathlon this summer on the run leg which is normally my strength. That was a few weeks earlier at the Rocky Mountain State Games which was 25 minutes (ugh...slow.) I was reasonably pleased as I hit my goal of improving on the run as my 5k leg was 22:33.

All the above was good enough for second in my age group with a podium prize of a bottle of wine--certainly beats another medal. Speaking of which, the finisher's medal might have been one of the coolest ones I've got. Serious bling with antlers!

The race was managed by Human Movement, Inc. I hadn't done any races with this group before, but found them to be extremely

friendly, organized, and put quality into the shirts (Under Armour branded) the and race medals. the only "downer" was while there was beer (it was warm,) there was no food before or after the race. I fuel myself prior, but was craving calories after the race. I would thought a local vendor could have made some "bank" by selling anything. Yelp would deliver as we devoured sandwiches from Jersey Boy's Pizza and Deli in town before the trek down the hill.

Overall, I'd say a solid improvement from my first triathlon. Next year? They are moving the race to Lake Dillon and adding a half Ironman. #tempting

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meme Monday: Races are Like Vegas



Monday, August 3, 2015

Meme Monday: No One Has Ever Drowned in Sweat