Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Arrival: A Flurry of Emotions and an Overnight Snow Flurry

A few thoughts on my early arrival to Boston.

There has been plenty of coverage, reverance, and remembrance nationally and even more so in the city of Boston regarding last year's Boston Marathon.  My emotions have been "all over the place" over the last 72 hours.  I made the mistake of watching the National Geographic Channel's docudrama "Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers" on Sunday night.  I had all but "blocked out" the negative events of last year's marathon until the images flickered into my bedroom.  Some of the coverage I had never seen before including the clip showing the backpack set down in front of Marathon Sports.

We are all ready to move on, and trust me, I'm not one to wallow in the past or misery, but issues I had the month within last year's marathon have resurfaced a bit.  On Monday, I was in a semi-catatonic state incapable of focusing on work.  I arrived into Boston a few days early and ironically on the one-year anniversary of last year's Boston Marathon.  Prior to arriving, I sprang for the in-flight Directv on United to catch the Hynes Convention Center tribute service live.  It was emotional, and  I'd have to say that Joe Biden's speech had me ready to race the moment I landed.  "We own the finish line" reverberated in my head.
Sorry for the squinting, but that early sun is bright off the snow.

After a short run at my hotel, my social media feed started talking about the "copy-cat" moron that paraded down Boylston on Monday.  I could have gone back into the abyss, but I was too pumped by the sea-level lungs I had on my short run.  I am in town for business and stopped into a local 99 Restaurant for a quiet carb-loaded dinner wearing my 2013 Boston Marathon celebration jacket.

Mind you, I was an hour north of the city itself and I was a stranger in the very local bar...think thick Boston accents with the bartender wearing a Red Sox jersey (watching them lose in the cold to the White Sox,) and the waitress wearing the same delivering my "mashers." (We call them mashed potatoes in Colorado.)  Once they spotted the blue and yellow jacket, I went from the ignored out-of-towner to local royalty.  They asked if I'd run the race last year..."are you running this year...did you hear about what happened today?"  As many of them left and I as I was leaving, they all wished me luck.  The magic of the Boston yellow and blue.

I skipped the local beer with dinner and got to bed early with my goal of getting in maximum sleep leading up to the expo on Friday and Saturday.  I woke up early on Wednesday with a planned six mile run with some goal pace miles and strides.  I also woke up to a fresh blanket of snow in Boston.  So much for Spring weather.  I did not panic as next Monday is still a long ways off and weather is not something within my control.  More importantly, due to my taper, my legs felt fresh as did my lungs.  Confidence building as I want to own the finish line!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday; Jump, Miles, Feet

Three things on my mind with less than twelve days to the Boston Marathon.

Jump

I had what will likely be the last long tempo run yesterday.  I often get asked, "what's your goal for your marathon" with the expectation of "I will complete it in _______ amount of time."  The first answer I always give is, "complete the training."  Completing a marathon is one thing, but the training itself is not a trivial thing.

Needless to say, I was "jumping for joy" after my seven mile tempo run on Wednesday.



700, But who's counting

I hit a new high-water mark in number of miles trained for this marathon...700.  The only asterisk is that some of those miles were on the bike (I'm not a century rider,) but some were also in the water.  For the non-swimmers out there, it takes quite a bit longer to cover a mile in the water.




Free SeekingBostonMarathon stickers to the first three that can solve the above run riddle.

Toenails

I posed the question on twitter yesterday.  Are toenails required to run a marathon?  I hope not because I will line up in Hopkinton with only five.  Skip the shoe size advice...my issue is I've converted to more of a mid to forefoot strike.  Run more than a few miles downhill without a heel strike and you will lose a toenail or two along the way.  It also helps to clip your toenails a bit shorter, but who has time for that.  #notafootmodel


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Post Boston Marathon Blues Giveaway

Before I get to the giveaway, this may be a bit premature since the Boston Marathon is still twelve days away.  There's a lot of things I've learned about myself in this marathon game, and one of them is to have a solid plan for once the race is over.  Perhaps I'm unique (that's a rhetorical statement) in that my postpartum race depression sets in within hours of completing a marathon.  Don't mock me...and don't tell me you've never looked at the race calendar within the first 48 hours of a mary to determine where you're going to get your next race adrenaline "fix." #runjunkie

I always have a plan for what I'm going to do as far as a next race when I have a big race planned.  Yes, I get some rest right after a marathon, but my mind and competitive spirit needs to know what's next.  I have compared the Boston Marathon to Christmas, or more appropriately the day after when all the anticipation, exhilaration, and gifts are gone.

With that, I'm "paying it forward" by offering the "Boston Marathon Blues Giveaway."  The good folks from Reebok Spartan Races and Ortholite have both provided giveaways.

We are giving away one from entry to any Reebok Spartan Race, and
Three pairs of Ortholite Insoles.

Enter at the bottom of this blog post and on my Facebook Page.

What is a Spartan Race?  Let's start with the concept was conceived by eight ultra-endurance athletes and one royal marine who have tackled Mt. Everest, the Ironman, and served military duty.  This is no dog walk or "fun run."


Reebok sponsors the Spartan Races and have introduced the All-Terrain Series especially designed to take on the rigors of such a course.  You won't want to wear your "Aunt Gail's" bleach white tennis shoes for one of these races.  Check out the Reebok All-Terrain Shoe HERE.

Along with the right shoe for the right race, you also need the right insole.  Ortholite insoles are designed to fit in all athletic and outdoor shoes or boots.  The open-cell foam is designed to allow air to circulate around the foot; keeping it cooler and drier in the shoe.  They also boast a unique spring-back technology that ensures your insole won't flatten out and it will retain 95% of its thickness over time.



There you have it; pick your next race and more gifts to ease the pain of those post-Boston blues.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Run With Runs is No Fun

(inspired by real events)

A Run is supposed to be fun.
Fun on the run.
Run for fun.

This run was not near my home.
This run was not in my state.
This run was not very long.
But it became quite wrong.

It started with sun.
It started with fun.
Fun in the sun.
Fun on the run.
Run for fun.

It started so subtle
Something wrong with my butthole.
I could tell right away.
This feeling would stay.
Gurgles, gurgles would not go away.

My mind became curious,
Why my bowels were so furious.

This would not be air that came from my butt.
Dear God find me a bathroom.
Said the noise from my gut.

There it was.
A Pizza Hut.
Perhaps their bathroom would save my gut.


I sit, I sat.
At Pizza Hut I shat.
Sit, sat, shat.

I'll skip the details.
The smells and exhales.
But I left there much lighter.
My bung no longer tighter.
My hole no longer corked.
My cheeks no longer torqued.

An award winning crap.
Under my belt.
That nasty feeling.
I no longer felt.

Moments later I returned to run bliss.
When all of a sudden,
Oh no, the urge to piss!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Tough Day at the Office

Over the course of a training session, there are going to be good days and bad.  Hopefully, the good outweigh the bad.  I've started to figure out that allergies are perhaps the culprit with me as it seems that as the season changes in Colorado, I always seem to get sick.  The challenge is how to balance rest and recuperation relative to how sick or run down you are.

This week was one of those weeks (weaks.)  I wasn't exactly doubled over with the flu, but the worst day was non-stop running of the nose, sneezing, eyes watering, absolutely no energy, and a mere two hours of sleep.  My coach recommended simply jogging this week or taking day(s) off.  I took my first un-scheduled day off over the course of my #100DaystoBoston journey to the Boston Marathon on Tuesday.  Even with work, I had a hard time getting through the day or maintaining any level of energy.
Tough twenty miler with Santa Monica Pier in the Background

I re-bounded slightly with a fairly tame eight mile run on Wednesday, and struggled with another ten on Thursday.  I resorted to a couple walking miles on Friday with a nasty twenty miler looming on Saturday.  With vacation plans and for scheduling reasons, I stuck with my plan of running long on Saturday vs. Sunday.  Only problem other than my overwhelming lack of judgement and "Alpha Male" logic was that I still was not feeling right and running super low on energy.

Friday night provided my third night of a mere two hours of sleep.  My wife dealing with similar sinus issues and imbibing a couple vacation cocktails had a bit of (understatement) snoring happening.  I love you honey, but it sounded like Chewbacca was having his way with a goat in our room.  I tried noise-cancelling headphones, wrapping the hotel robe belt around my head and ears, and the earplugs which were more like ear amplifiers.  Eventually, I wrapped the thick king-sized pillow around my head and managed a couple hours.  I woke up late.  I moved slow.  I skipped breakfast and merely had one Kind bar.  #notenough
Massage Parlor Torture Apparatus

Armed with Generation UCAN in my Nathan Hydration vest, I ventured out from Marina Del Rey out to Venice Beach and Santa Monica.  After a two mile warm-up, my coach prescribed six two mile intervals that progressed from a 7:45 pace to a 7:15 pace.  Each interval had a one mile floater recovery between each.  While I lacked much energy, the first ten or so miles seemed okay and enjoyed the scenery provided by the boardwalk.  Along the way, I spotted Claire Danes (Homeland) running with her baby stroller and was happy to see she was not crying.

Somewhere around the fourth or fifth interval (pushing 7:25-7:35) I sensed this was not going to be my day.  I had now passed Marina Del Rey and was heading towards LAX and an industrial section of beach.  The wind seemed to pick up and the sideways which should be flat seemed to roll (somehow I managed over 600' of elevation gain and fall over this run.)  Without grossing you out too much, my nose was still purging...a lot.

With the wheels coming off, I did not want to cut this run short, but had the toughest set of two mile segments ahead.  I don't know how, but I gutted out 7:12, 7:13, 7:09, and 7:18 as planned over the last four.  The cooldown was pretty pathetic as I was doing the "old man shuffle" as I headed back towards my hotel.
Day Later in Venice Beach
When finished, I was second-guessing everything as I often do; "why didn't I rest more this week," "why did I not have anything today (that one was obvious,)" and (most appropriate,) "why didn't I move this to Sunday.  Family and a cruise was the answer to the last one.

Perhaps as a subtle sorry for the snoring, my wife scored me a massage that afternoon.  I became a bit concerned when I saw two iron pipes installed above the massage table like a small set of gymnast parallel bars.  As the massage began, I was starting to wonder how the slight of build woman has such small hands as she was working my back.  Those were not hands.  Little Mary Lou Retton was working the parallel bars and digging her feet into my back.
"Maximus Dorkus" at "Muscle Beach in Venice Beach

Over an hour, she had me contorted in ways my body had never bent.  On my stomach she pulled back on my arms bending my back in a yoga pose only  intended for the young and limber.  At one point, she had her heel dug into my "taint" again pulling on legs and arms.  #helgashouseofpain

As Helga or Mary Lou (actually Dim Sung) was working me over, I began to reflect and realize that if I could belt out that twenty miler on one of my worst days, I am capable of much better on a rested body in Boston in less than thirty days.  Better yet, as I went out for a shake-out run on Sunday, I had more bounce in my step than I did the day before.  (Thanks to my wife and Dim Sung) Miles three and four I ran too fast, but I was enjoying the ocean breeze and freak show that is Venice Beach.  All the things I wanted yesterday, but didn't happen.

Day 71 of my countdown

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Ten: A Medal Won and Lost

With time winding down towards next month's Boston Marathon (thirty three days as of this writing,) I wanted to get one more boost of race adrenaline before "toeing the line" in Hopkinton next month.  St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays where I'm (pretend) Irish like many for one day.  What redhead does NOT like St. Patrick's Day?

There were three races to pick from this last weekend in Denver (Running of the Green, ROTG,) my local Highlands Ranch 5K, and Denver's Lucky Laces.  Lucky won out as it was in Denver's City Park and was on Saturday vs. Sunday which was my preference based on my training schedule.  As a bonus, I signed up my youngest son who's been swimming and practicing with his triathlon team gearing up for Tri season.  He had not run a 5K distance this season, but his conditioning was ready for a race.
Post-race father and son medal worthy performance

It's hard to use a 5K as a barometer for a distance race (marathon,) but my coach has prescribed quite a bit of speed for next month's Boston Marathon and I've pushed many of those shorter interval training sessions much faster than I have before (venturing below a six minute per pace mile.)

At the start of the year, on my DailyMile profile page, I listed a number of goals.  One of those goals was to "break" 20 minutes in a 5K which I'd never done before.  Conventional wisdom would say that for someone at my age, that opportunity would be in the rear view mirror and not in the windshield.  Screw that.
Father and son bling

City Park provided a great locale for the race racing around the Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and two lakes.  Like many St. Pats races there was a festive atmosphere with Irish music pumping up the large crowd.  The course itself was essentially flat with a little bit of a rise (a mere 72',) a fair amount of turns, and a bit of a wind.  Viewing the glass as "half full" I felt that the sinus cold I was dealing with was better to happen for this race and a month out from my marathon.  Nevertheless this messed with my head a bit as I didn't feel 100% physically.  In terms of training, I had a subdued confidence that the PR I'd set only three months earlier, but just outside twenty minutes could fall this day.

I ran into a few runners from my run team, Working Class Athletics, and another good run buddy of mine (Vince) before the race.  After giving my son some last minute advice (and not wanting to see him hurl his large breakfast,) I settled near the front of the pack in my usual spot in a race of this size; second or third row.  With such a short race, there's not a whole lot of race strategy, but I felt that if I could go out a six-minute per mile pace in the 1st mile then average 6:30 in the next two miles, I would end with a strong push that would hit my goal.

I surprised myself in that I held with the front of the pack fairly close that first mile and held to my goal.  With slightly cool temps, I was surprised that I was not "dying" after that first mile.  Mentally, I told myself, "only thirteen more minutes."  The rest of the course was pretty consistent.  The only confusing part was that as we started to go through some of the turns, the runners behind me were now running towards me to the right of the orange cones.  One dude yelled out, "you're going the wrong way!"  I hoped that was not the case, but the only way that was possible was if the lead cyclist was not going the right way.  After the race, one member from my race team took 1st overall in the 10K (Daniel,) yet the race results showed two women finished ahead of him.  No doubt there were some misguided runners along the way as he held first the entire time.  Not saying a woman couldn't beat this guy, but there was no woman ahead of him throughout his race.

My final time showed 19:21.  I felt I had crushed my goal, and picked up first in my age group--three seconds ahead of second place. My splits were just as I'd planned; (5:58, 6:24, 6:15, 6:38, 6:27, 6:26 and a "kick" at 5:12.)
What remains of my 1st Place Medal

Others on my team had equally great races (Daniel with 1st overall,) and Kevin with a PR in the 10k.  My son got second in his age group.  Hardware for father and son, Irish music, and pancakes awaited us at the post-race celebration party at the Park Mansion adjacent to the park.  Just when I couldn't love St. Patrick's Day any more, it's now the owner of my 5K PR, a perfect ten in that it's now my tenth straight podium (non-major.)  All in all, a perfect ten and another confidence boost for Boston.

Epilogue:  Once again, ignoring my cold, I head out Saturday night dressed in green with my wife to celebrate St. Pats and my accomplishment with my 1st place medal around my neck.  Clearly enjoying the moment, my medal separated from the ribbon somewhere in the middle of my Violent Femmes "Blister in the Sun" karaoke performance.  Yes, I danced my medal right off.  I'm hoping someone is enjoying it as much as I did for the twelve hours I owned it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snot Rocket Malfunction

Before the heart of the matter, I have a number of  apologies to get out of the way.

Those offended by body fluid humor
The nation of Singapore
My Late Grandma Lela
Several running friends and strangers last Saturday
My Mom and her friends who aren't runners but read my blog

I'm sure there are a few more, but that about covers it.

First off, I am not going to apologize for utilizing the "god-given" right of the runner to utilize the snot rocket.  For my mom and her friends that aren't runners, the snot rocket is simply putting the forefinger to one nostril and blasting out whatever is clogging your breathing with a burst of air while running.  Switch to the other side and repeat.  Bonus points for directional accuracy.  Like Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josie Wales," who would spit tobacco with great accuracy (i.e. hitting the snout of a dog,) I too have perfected my aim and can hit a cactus whilst running at a 6:30 pace.

Why the snot rocket you ask?  Carrying tissue is not an option as it will get soggy within ten minutes without even using it.  My grandma Lela would stuff Kleenex's everywhere; in her bra, blouse, or up her sleeve.  A tissue was never far away...she would not understand this and would likely purse and tilt her lips to the side with disapproval.  Sorry Grandma.  Without this option up your sleeve, you're left with hopefully the world's largest Kleenex canvas which is your running route.

Along with accuracy, you have to factor in etiquette such as deviating your run path when running with others to avoid "sharing the experience."  You must factor in wind and coorelate with proximity of those with you.  You should also understand local, state, federal, and other nation's laws around fluids.  On my trip to Singapore last year, I learned that you couldn't spit.  I should be in jail for snot rocketing the Singapore Botanic Gardens as I blew somewhere within the Ginger Garden. #gingerinjailforgingergardensnot

Before I get into my latest egregious offense, have you ever seen the snot-nosed toddler who hasn't learned how to blow his nose yet and his parents let their runny nose crust over their nostrils, upper lip, and cheek?  The same kid where you're tempted to tell the parents to take care of that sh*t or have an urge to find a warm washcloth?  You get the not-so-pretty picture.  Hold that visual thought if I haven't lost you yet as a reader of this post.

Last Saturday was another aggressive marathon goal-pace mile training run with my running team; Working Class Athletics.  Ten easy (7:45 or slower) miles, then 4-5 miles of tempo miles hovering a 7-7:10 pace.  This was not a "stop along the way" for a rest, water, or potty break and I had no Kleenex up my sleeve.  It was a fantastic run and with a bit of some sinus stuff going on, I was snot-rocketing all over Denver's "Wash Park."  Many have written about snot-rocket etiquette, but noone seems to include the "hey your fly is down," or "hey, you have a little somethin', somethin' on your face there."  Thanks (NOT) to my running buddies for not sharing this warning before I went about my day after this training run.

In turn, I apologize to them for not clearing the launch pad as I had one half of a world class snot mustache that went up my left cheek...that I didn't know about.  Over the next hour and a half, I also apologize to the manager at Easy Entrees where I stopped to pick up our meal order, and the waitress at the Brewery Bar II.   The same waitress who had to listen to the story of my son who has mono at home.  I couldn't figure out the strange looks she (and others) gave me until I went to the bathroom to wash my hands before eating my lunch.  There it was in the mirror.  One half of a Salvadore Dali snot moustache.  I'm sure the waitress was thinking, "no wonder your son has mono, you're a disgusting pig."  I may be a pig, but I was a fast one on Saturday, but that's "snot" my problem.