Monday, March 28, 2011

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Gators?

Subtitled: When life gets in the way of running.

This last week was a true test of balancing a marathon training schedule and life. Since I haven't picked the right lottery numbers, I continue to have to "punch the clock" with my day job which sometimes gets in the way of my running life. This last week which was my four week countdown to running the Boston Marathon presented one ugly (with a capital "U") schedule. Over four thousand travel miles covering Denver, Orlando, Chicago and New Jersey all in the same week. There are some trips that present some variety to the running schedule which are welcomed--nothing like a run in Central Park in New York city vs. running from your house for the umpteenth time. This week was not one of those glamour trips.

One thing you realize when you train for a marathon is that while healthy, you are downright tired. Cresting the 500 mile mark while training for this year's Boston already had me anxious for taper, but this trip took it's toll on me. Traveling alone can tax the body (who designs those seats anyway...not near enough cush for my bony running tush.) Adding to the air miles was the long days that included two days walking a trade show (not a running expo,) late nights with work, and challenging diet (airport food.) I had at least three nights with only around 4-5 hours of sleep. Brutal. I packed my run gear and managed to get most of my runs in...including a nine mile tempo run in Orlando. No disrespect to Orlandoans, but what was Walt Disney thinking when he plopped a resort 100 miles from the Ocean? The temps hit nearly 90 which meant I waited until dusk to knock out the run. I perused mapmyrun and google and saw some nearby lakes...that could be nice...perhaps there's a path? Then I realized, not so smart. If they aren't pitching Disney or Universal Studios, they're peddling gators in Orlando. This isn't some unleashed dog nipping at you on a suburban running path, this is a nasty carnivore that can devour a small vehicle.

I decided not to risk "life and limb" and opt'ed for running the main drag and it was a drag. One hot mutha with no energy. Snow was my reward as I dragged my luggage and tired butt into Newark after a flight delay that sent us to North Carolina to visit their tarmac for a few hours. Brutal. I finished the week with one more flight delay and looked forward to running in my home state of Colorado with my running group. A simple 10 miler after last weekend's 20. If I was a cell phone, I only had one battery square. Brutal. My body felt like I hadn't trained at all the last four weeks.

"Listen to the body" I try and tell myself, and in this case, I'm going to listen. My body needs some serious rest over the next three weeks as I'm going with a three week taper vs. a two week one. At this point, another 20 miler or aggressive Yasso's will not yield a lower time in Boston. Rest and avoid gators is my mantra. Sorry for all the venting...I feel better after venting to the virtual world. Ending the week on a high note was my Boston bib # in the mail. Number 8740 in the opening Red Wave (Wave One.) I like that number. 21 days and counting.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

30 Day Boston Marathon Countdown

I should have known this was gonna be a good week when my "Seeking Boston Marathon" blog stickers came in the mail.

When I first fill out my 16-18 week training plan, it looks rather ominous with all those blank cells and with the miles completed at zero and the miles to go over 600 miles. As I whittle away at the runs and the weeks, I enter my runs on DailyMile, but also in my plan spreadsheet. Little by little, the miles completed and miles to go build and shrink respectively. Today marks the 30 day countdown to the Boston Marathon next month. Is it finally within reach? WOW!

I feel a little bit like the Christmas store near my house that's open year round, but dormant nine months a year. The excitement builds as the date approaches. I am such a kid in a man's body. If you've followed my blog and training, you know there's been a fair amount of bad and ugly, but not much good with this training session. Sensing something wasn't quite right, I went in for a VO2Max study and walked out with a blood test instead. Overtrained was the diagnosis and under my normal iron levels = anemic & tired. Eight days off--brutal. I've eased back into it the last two weeks.

This week was the first week after the layoff that I put a full effort into it which culminated with today's long run. I "waffled" on whether to run 16 or 20. I had already logged three 20+ runs and considering I was essentially overtrained, I went out thinking I'll run 16, but see how it goes. I've induced my diet with more iron this last week and as the run progressed, I decided to go with 20. My pace was conservative, and at a conversation pace (around 8:20-8:30 per mile.)

Running with my normal Saturday running group (Runner's Edge of the Rockies) gave me a boost as did the phenomenal scenery on the Louisville (just outside the Boulder Flatirons) course. The final tally; 20 miles in 2:46:05 (8:16 avg moving pace,) but most important, I felt GREAT! This was two days after one of my worst runs. Ahhh...the ups and downs of running.

The course eased up towards the foothills with over 900' of climb and descent on the "out and back" course. Despite some friends who questioned my sanity trying 20 today, I felt like I needed one more twenty and the confidence to go with it. My plan is 16 next Saturday, then I go into a three week taper. I've found that the three week works better for me than two. Aren't there a lot of things that are better in threes?

I plan to update here on my blog and daily on my Facebook page as I wind down the training and wind up for Boston. A confidence builder for sure today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Boston Giveaway

Just in time for Boston in 31 days, the "SeekingBostonMarathon" blog stickers came in for all my blog/twitter and DailyMile meetups and running peeps at next month's running mecca.

I'll be posting my 30 day countdown here and on my Facebook page. Having dealt with injuries, a prescribed layoff, and heavy travel (with a new job) to juggle with my training, it will be interesting to say the least.

For the the first 25 people to join my SeekingBostonMarathon Fan Page on Facebook, you can have one of these beauties to adorn your car, laptop, locker, or recently shaved head. Click here to join.

The countdown begins...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin go Bald (Bragh)

I picked up this month's Runner's World magazine and they had a small article entitled, "Lucky Charm: Rituals that help runners really excel." "Did they write this article for me?" I'm thinking as it seemed to strike a chord. We all have bizarre rituals and superstitions that we believe have an impact on our race day performance. Some are well-founded routines that have worked in the past. I got input from a top runner whose pre-marathon (or long run) meal includes chocolate Cheerios with almond milk--one man's barf, another man's "Breakfast of Champions."

The most bizarre sports ritual I can recall is baseball's Moises Alou who urinated on his hands to toughen them up--now that's dedication. And who can forget Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham wearing a woman's thong to break a slump. I have a number of rituals that include laying out my gear the night before, traveling with my foam roller, or going to a movie the day before a race. Over my past few marathons, I have gone with a near bald shave and realize that I'm in good company since Ryan Hall (U.S. 12-K and half marathon record holder) does the same thing before his races. (One of several "secret weapons" mentioned in the article.)

This year, I decided to combine one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day with my pre-marathon shave by getting my head shaved for the St. Baldrick's foundation benefiting Children's Cancer research. A worthy cause and I "killed two birds with one stone" by making a donation and getting my streamlined race day look. Kind of a reverse Samson--but he actually lost his power when his hair was cut. Like Hall, I have also shaved my legs before (Chicago Marathon) and even wear the controversial Power Balance bracelet. Combine that with proven routines (gear, training, or diet) that work over your 16-18 weeks of training and you will have an increase in confidence on race day.

In the four and 1/2 weeks left, my other decision is what singlet to wear race day? I'm debating between buying a new one (my usual ritual) and wearing a previous PR singlet. Either way, every bit helps. What's your lucky charm?

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cutting Corners

For those that have labored for years to finally get to Boston and run the finest race in the land, one of the items that most of us yearn for is the hallowed Boston Marathon jacket. Like the green jacket adorned on the winner of the Master's golf tournament, I couldn't wait to put on the BAA jacket last year...almost more anticipation than the medal itself.

Stop the presses. Major controversy has once again hit the esteemed Boston Athletic Association. Adidas, the long-time sponsor of the BAA event has admitted it made a mistake and this year's jacket will be silk-screened--not embroidered which is normally the case. Troll the message boards and they are lighting up with runners from previous marathons whose jackets are "peeling" from previous years where they opt'ed to cut costs and silkscreen the jackets.

I'd hate to be the person at Adidas that selected the chop shop in China they outsourced this crown jewel to. Not good.

From Adidas, "By Sport_Buyer, February 17, 2011We sincerely appreciate your feedback on the Official Boston Marathon Jacket. You helped us discover an error made in our supply chain that resulted in a screen printed logo instead of embroidered logo. As seen in previous images on, we thought we were getting embroidered products too. We apologize for the confusion and thank you for alerting us.

While not what was anticipated, the Official Boston Marathon Jacket for 2011 is screen printed.

We take this situation very seriously and have taken the following steps to address the situation:
(1) We have re-priced the product to $85
(2) Purchasers on prior to Feb 15, 2011, we will be emailing you to arrange a credit for the difference.

We have been proud partners with the Boston Athletic Association for many years and value deeply the event and our relationship with the marathon and its participants. We look forward to seeing you at the 115th Boston Marathon."

Is this the same person that consulted the NFL on refunds for the people that didn't get into the Super Bowl? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those that have worked months and years to wear the knock-off.

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine