Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fox in Sox, Socks that Rock

"And here's a new trick, Mr. Knox....
Socks on chicks and chicks on fox.
Fox on clocks on bricks and blocks.
Bricks and blocks on Knox on box."

What the hell was Dr. Seuss smoking when he wrote that one? If he ran marathons, it would be more like;

Green socks, black socks
Socks on Jocks
Pick the wrong socks and the Fox Just Walks

As confusing as Dr. Seuss' tongue twisting lyrics, so is the plethora of socks available to the marathon runner. In this blog, I will review two socks; SmartWool and VitalSox. There are a few decisions to make when picking the sock that works best for you.

Cotton, wool, or synthetic?

Cotton? Are you kidding me? Wear cotton in any race of length and your pigs will be hating you. When I started running, I used Thorlos. High cotton meant a lotta blisters. My best was a cherry tomato I earned in San Diego in 2007 (yes, that's my actual San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon blister on the left.) Rookie mistake, but it was a beautiful blister as far as blisters go. Sorry, Thorlos, but you're in the bottom of my sock drawer limited to cross-training and short runs. Since learning that cotton is the devil (same goes for shorts, and shirts--this isn't a pick-up basketball game, do you really want to carry that extra weight and chafe your nipples off?) I have moved to wool or synthetics.


I have to admit, these have been my most consistent sock for training runs of any length or 1/2 or full marathons. Least likely to peel off the running shoes and find a black toenail or cherry tomato. Due to the wool and when combined with the right amount of BodyGlide on the little piglets, you're far less likely to get post race feet souvenirs. An added benefit of the SmartWool sock is they are typically a thicker sock so you get a bit of cushion out of them. Pounding 26.2 miles and your feet will thank you.


These guys move the compression benefits you'd typically get from Skins or CW-X into your feet. Like a pair of Skins, they are a snug fit to provide the compression benefits and have a much thinner fabric. Among the many mistakes I made at the Boston Marathon, I made a rookie mistake of using something I hadn't tried in a previous long run. Fortunately, this one paid off. I'd just received a pair of VitalSox in the mail two days before Boston along with a pair of their long recovery socks. I won't detail all the leg maladies I'd dealt with leading up to Boston, but let's just say that the only thing that wasn't hurting or hadn't hurt leading up to Boston on my left leg were my toenails.

Stopping by the VitalSox expo booth at Boston, I was told by the gentleman working the booth (who I'd later find out was none other than Arturo Barrios) that I should be wearing them before the race. It makes sense. I'm wearing compression tights today (two weeks after Boston) under my jeans to give my legs an all day massage. After Arturo's advice, I wore the longer recovery socks the next full day leading up to my race. The Recovery Sock was even tighter than my Skins but felt great once they were on. Benefits of the Recovery Sock include increased blood circulation, reduced lactate acid production, and improved oxygen deliver to the muscles. Yeah Baby!

Knowing Boston is not a PR course typically and this wasn't going to be a personal PR day for me, I wanted the most support possible for my feet and legs for the day. I went with my heavier Asics shoes (vs. lighter racing shoe,) Tommie Copper Calf Sleeves and VitalSox compression socks. Going into the race over-trained and sore before I started, this was the right strategy as my legs survived the pounding downhill and Heartbreak Hill. My legs held up and I felt that I finished the last five miles stronger than I did the year before. The best part of the VitalSox experience was that a day after the marathon (and running a 3:34) I wasn't hobbling like I normally do after a marathon. No black toenails and no cherry tomatoes. Only knocks on these socks is the price tag. Made in Italy may have something to do with that, but likely comparable if you're used to paying for other compression products. One other note on black toenails. While many consider them to be a badge of honor, it may be a sign that your shoes are a 1/2 size too small or you forgot to clip your toenails before the race.

Which to choose?

Like many things in running, and probably more so with shoes, you need to experiment with your long training runs to see what works best for you. Just like I have a race pair of shoes I favor and an everyday pair I will likely rotate socks, but if I need recovery or come race day, I believe the Italian made formula socks will become a regular component of what I lay out the night before.

These socks rock! Green Eggs and Ham I am.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Finish Line

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Oh where to begin.

My name is Ty and I'm an addict. A running addict. There are many pleasures in life, but even something as innocent as water, carrots, nutmeg or too many miles can lead to bad things when done in excess. Monday's 115th running of the Boston Marathon was my fifth marathon in 16 months--about three too many for an elite or more importantly an average runner like me still learning their way around the sport. None of the past five seemed crazy at the time;

CIM/Sacramento (Dec '09;) After a ten month hiatus due to a stress fracture in Chicago, this was my first BQ (Boston Qualifier.) First and only race I didn't feel like I really hit the wall.
Boston (April '10;) I wasn't about to wait a nearly a year and a half to run my dream race. A Charity entry that also allowed by BQ time so I could corral based on time.
Steamboat Springs, CO (June '10) This is the one I should have skipped. Disappointed with my 3:23 at Boston, I signed up for the soonest race I could to redeem myself. Came in 3rd in my division, but had no energy at all.
Portland (October '10;) I figured four months between races was fine and there was no way I'd "not" run a fall marathon. Heart rate training paid off, yet I "hit the wall" around mile 16. Again, no energy, but a BQ (at the time.)
Boston; (April '11) No energy in my first few miles, walk breaks, early "wall" and finished eleven minutes slower than last year with a 3:34. No PR, no Boston PR, no BQ.

The above would explain how I felt flat from the start. If I was a cell phone, I started the race with one or two battery squares.

Here's my full race report;

Let's cover the good stuff first. Mother Nature delivered the best weather the Boston Marathon has seen in a century. Temperatures were in the 50's and there was a tailwind. In a bizarre weather year that has delivered brutal weather to Austin, Napa, and Houston marathons, this sounded too good to be true. The tail wind showed up as advertised and helped deliver the world's fastest marathon, but due to the downhill course and tailwind, Mutai was robbed of the official world record. My pre-marathon portion of the trip was an A+ (read my Boston Marathon 48 hour blog countdown) with Runner's World posting a picture of me on their Facebook page of me and my foam roller working our way through the airport. There were updates from Runner's World's Facebook Page on Hall and Goucher and the back side of an anonymous runner carrying his portable chiropractor all the way from Colorado to Boston. Too cool.

The night before

Wanting to avoid the chaos of Pasta in Boston's North End Italian district, we caught dinner close to home at Grotto in Beacon Hill. Another excellent choice thanks to Yelp and my wife. Sunday night prep rituals went quite smooth as I was getting my game face and KT Tape on. My body had dealt with issues over my Boston training plan that included achilles, heel, IT band, shin splints, a bit of a strained glute, and "throwing out my back" two weeks before Boston. My glute required a bit of a tape job before I laid out all my gear. I'd later discover that I only forgot two items for the race itself; a Breathe Right strip and my "lucky" Power Balance bracelet (left on the nightstand.)

Pre-Race Morning

I slept quite well compared to the eve of previous marathons, had my pre-race breakfast (yogurt, cereal, bagel and Juice) and headed to the buses in Boston Common. Staying in Beacon Hill, it was simply a 1/2 mile walk to the bus. Another bonus for staying where I was. Most everything else seemed similar to last year in Athlete's Village which is located at the school up the block from the official corral start. I charged my phone at the Nissan booth which felt like a premonition...they didn't seem to have a charger that could help charge my human battery. A slight twist to last year, I got in line for a pre-race massage in the gym. I never got the massage as I was getting close to the start time, but benefited from the warmth of being inside vs. dealing with the early morning cold and wind outside.

The Corrals

I had bib # 8740 which had me in wave 1 in corral nine which took off at 10 AM. I hit the porto-potty one last time near the corrals and headed in for the last 20 minutes of waiting. I connected with my good buddy Vince from back home in the corral with ironically a couple of other CSU grads which felt like good karma. Vince and I are in the same running club (Runner's Edge of the Rockies) in Denver and have run many a Saturday long run together as well as the Portland Marathon. Prior to the gun, I tossed aside my old sweatshirt and pants. Game on!

The Gear

I brought three pairs of shoes; a mudder pair to slosh around in Athlete's Village and two pairs to chose from for the race. Given the leg issues I had in Portland, I did not run in my lighter Brooks Racer ST 5s and opted for more support in my every day training shoe; the Asic 2160's. I had my oldest pair of light gloves to keep me warm at the start which I knew would be tossed aside a couple miles in along with the tube sock arm warmers. With the (left) leg issues, I debated wearing the full length skins or calf compression sleeves. I opted for my new lighter Tommie Copper calf sleeves. Tommie Copper infuses their products with (you guessed it) copper. I suppose it's akin to the benefits of wearing a copper bracelet for arthritis in the hands. Unlike last year, my quads held up and the lower leg pain was held in check w/ the new sleeves.

The Race

After the National Anthem and gun, my buddy Vince and I crossed the start line and hit our Garmin's for the start of the race roughly five minutes after the elites took off.
Vince is a tad younger, and faster than I so we ran the first mile or so together and I told him to take off. Not having the greatest training session and knowing that going out too fast can ruin a race, I intentionally started out conservative trying to maintain 7:40-7:50 pace, but was not really feeling much energy or adrenaline. Sometimes it takes a few warm-up miles to get "in a groove" I was silently telling myself. The weather was perfect and I did occasionally feel a push from the wind at my back. As I approached the 13 mile mark, train noises on my left and distant screams meant I was near the insanity at Wellesley college. Throngs of (or was it thongs) of women were screaming as if Justin Bieber had arrived on campus. I skipped the temptation of the many signs and hand motions to stop for a kiss. I didn't want to stop so I settled for high fives as I ran next to the mayhem. I ran into another running buddy (Tim) I believe after the halfway mark. Tim was running his 20th straight Boston Marathon, but due to injury had barely trained yet was still running the race. Somewhere around the Newton hills, I began to fade. I got plenty of sleep this last week, ate well, nourished well during the race. while I didn't wear my heart rate monitor, I know that wasn't my issue. Overtraining/racing fatigue was winning the battle as I slowed down. For the second year in a row, I didn't realize I was in the midst of "heartbreak hill." Chalk images on the asphalt of a broken heart was my clue that "this must be it." Unfortunately, at this point, I stopped checking the Garmin for current pace and ran by feel. I knew that 3:20 was not happening and eventually realized that a BQ 3:30 was not happening either. I wouldn't call it my "second wind" because I don't think I ever got my first somewhere around Boston college (Mile 20.) At that point, I started to play the mind games of only five miles left and comparing to all the "easy" five or four mile runs I had back home. Once in the city, I recognized another friend Matt (Luau on Twitter.) He was having breathing issues (since mile 17) and we traded turns providing encouragement to finish strong even though we both probably were already showing disappointment with where we would finish. Weeks from now I may go back and compare my last 3-4 miles in the city, but by "feel" I felt far more energy at the tail end this year vs. last. For my wife, sister and brother in law that had camped out on Boylston all morning to get less than a minute glimpse of my sprinting at the end, I wanted to finish strong. I may have looked like hell, but I felt like I was flying. Their bonus was a front row seat to the fastest men's finish ever, the closest womens finish, and strong showings by Goucher, Davila, and Hall.

Post Race

One week before I was to run the Boston Marathon, I went to my running physical therapist in Boulder. I hadn't seen her since I had my athletic blood work done the month before indicating prolonged muscle fatigue (high cpk enzyme) and anemia due to an uncommon (among men) low iron count. Explaining that I still didn't feel like I had any energy, she advised that I didn't run Boston at all. She'd gone through it before and it took it's toll and almost a year to rest and recover. She knew that I wouldn't take her advice. It's a tough race to qualify for and this year it was tough to even register for it. Airfare and lodging was paid for. I had family that flew all the way to Boston to see me race a one-in-a-lifetime race. My blog is named seekingbostonmarathon not watchingbostonmarathon. Against my better judgement, I ran it. Got the medal, got the jacket, got the t-shirt but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed the cold beer post race and got plenty of support and congratulations from my family. It was also interesting in that there were thousands of runners in the city the previous two days and I'd certainly met a number (and enjoyed it,) but there was something much different about the interaction among the runners after the race. A lot more subtle nods of the head and verbal congratulations knowing that we'd just finished something special. After the chaos near the end, we went for dinner and a few more beers, reflections and laughs at the Red Hat bar. My sister saw her first marathon that included a woman who shat herself, a man who pissed himself, and her baby brother run sprint down to the finish.

Feeling Fortunate

As I enjoyed my cold beer and checked in on my running buddies over twitter, DailyMile and Facebook the congratulations poured in. One runner in particular pointed out that he knew he would never qualify and congratulated me (and others) on completing the race. In Jr. High I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis which is a form of arthritis that among other things can "fuse" the SI (sacroiliac) joints which is not a good thing for runners. I remember something was not right back then when we had to run laps during P.E. and I came in "dead last" having to run around the baseball chain link fence and back to the gym. It wasn't that I was particularly slow, but I couldn't run without pain. Perhaps I'm a freak of nature because I'm running in my 40s with this disease and was able to run the greatest race in the land--twice. As I battle my imperfect need for perfection, I will try and remind myself of how lucky I was to have been there, and not second guess the last sixteen months. My daughter was trying to console me and reminded me that "Dad, some people can't even run a mile." Such a smart young woman.

I didn't listen to my PT about not running Boston, but her second bit of advice was if I ran, I needed to take a month off after the race to heal and rest. I ignored the first time and know better than to ignore the second.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Boston Marathon: 48 Hour Countdown

Here we are less than two days away from the Super Bowl, Gave 7 of the World Series or Lord Stanley's Cup except I'm not watching this one on T.V., I'm running this frickin' thing--the Boston Marathon!

A slight change in my approach this year, I flew to the East coast Wednesday morning for a business meeting on Thursday and was able to fly from Philadelphia to Boston late Friday morning. The advantage this gave me was three extra days adjusting to the Eastern time zone and getting into Boston one day earlier than last year. Somewhere along the way I read (likely from Hal Higdon) that it's best if you can arrive one day early for every time zone you travel. Given the turbulent training session I've had, I'm thrilled to get in early and be as adjusted and rested as possible.

Unfortunately, I may have "peaked early" since the highlight of my Boston Marathon trip happened in Philadelphia. After a five mile run along the ass end of the Philadelphia airport and water treatment plant (I didn't care because all I could focus on was that I was a mere four hours from running mecca) I was hanging in the pre-board area and was approached by a man from Runner's World who spotted my 2010 Boston Marathon jacket and my travel companion--my foam roller. He had this, "that's too f'ing funny" look on his face and snapped a cell phone picture. I gave him one of my blog stickers and left it at that.

A few hours later after landing at Logan International airport, I started to check into my virtual world and realized my foam roller and I made it to Runner's World Facebook page. I'd gone viral. My five minutes of Andy Warhol running fame.

Best quote came from my Runner's Edge of the Rockies buddy Steve, "So Runner's World's Facebook page today has one picture of Ryan Hall, one picture of Kara Goucher, and one picture of Ty Godwin. Good to see they captured all of the pre-race favorites." While excited about the cool pic, I was embarrassed to find out it was none other than Mark Remy who I met and snapped my pic. Wouldn't be bad except I'd admitted I was the one they'd tagged but said I think his name was Mike?

I arrived at our condo in Beacon Hill and it exceeded our expectations (my wife done good.) Spending a good part of my life in a hotel room on business, I prefer to scope out something that feels like home and helps me relax. This place rocks in that department as seen in the video below.

Boston Marathon Beacon Hill Condo from Angus Godwin on Vimeo.

Friday night we ventured out for pasta in the North End. You know you're probably in the right Italian restaurant when there's a picture of Robert Deniro hanging in the vestibule. "Are you talkin' to me?" The food at Limoncello and very Italian and Boston wait staff did not disappoint. I'd recommend the lasagna over the spice penne. Good times with my wife, sister and my brother-in-law.

I had visions of catching Kara Goucher at Niketown on Saturday morning, but a snafu with the alarm combined with my body demanding another hour or so of sleep meant a slow start to the day that began with the duck tour of Boston. our driver, Disco Dan was quite entertaining as we took in the sights and history of Boston along with his wit. I even got to drive Daffy Duck in the Charlestown river--talk about soakin' it it. Aside from the amphibious duck we've largely used Boston's "T" subway system to get around. Nothing like the smell of a subway to make you feel like you've been baptized by the city.
Prior to heading over to the expo, I hit the DailyMile meetup at McGreevey's right across the street. A couple of these folks I'd met at last year's Boston meet-up, some I'd never met, and a couple of us commensurated over the "water boarding" we got at Portland in October (a soaker start to finish.) It felt like a reunion as I've got to know many of these friends well albeit over a web site. Another highlight and I once again came away with a door prize; Remy's "The Runner's Rule Book."

Boston's expo is a pleasureable overdose of running clothes, tonics, potions, gadgets and grub. After coddling my bib and grabbing my race shirt, I headed to the official Adidas souvenir swag area. Talk about a mad was like one of those shows where there's a dozen brides dresses at 80% off and 36 brides grabbing at the them. Either that or a stock trading floor..."you got that in a large?" as they keep carrying the goods in. One jacket, one singlet, t-shirt, a patch and my debit card starting to melt, I took off for the rest of the expo. With Remy and Bart Yasso's books in hand I was able to meet Bart, and Mark for the second time and get them to sign my books.

I've finished the night with a little Mexican food in our condo (I find it good to load up on salt two nights before a race,) and winding down in the home on Beacon Hill. At last year's expo, I watched the video on the marathon in the John Hopkins' booth and heard a veteran say that you can assume your sleep the night before a race won't be that good. Get a good night's sleep two nights before the race. I'm following Dr.'s orders. Good night!

Monday, April 4, 2011

3000 Miles to Graceland: Boston Marathon Two Week Countdown

Graceland. Resting place of Elvis and destination for over a 1/2 million visitors a year who make their pilgrimage to get some divine rock and rock inspiration from "The King." In the running world, there's only one indisputable Graceland, and that's the Boston Marathon. Runners from all over the world will make their running pilgrimage to Boston to their running mecca. Meb will be there...Ryan and Kara will be there as will several past winners. New York is trying to build similar prestige with their fall classic with even tougher standards for entry...ironic, that the BAA raised the qualifying times recently to maintain the elite status of the race. There is only one Boston Marathon.

I'm two weeks away from Graceland, and as they say, my training is in the books. I am in taper mode and nothing I can do from a running standpoint will improve my race day performance other than rest and build my mental confidence for race day. No more long runs, no more challenging Yasso's. Watching the "My Run" documentary last week about 57 year old Terry Hitchcock run 75 marathons in 75 days he extolled what I already knew which is the marathon is more about the mental game than the physical one. Hitchcock was the most improbable character to take on that task; heart problems, overweight, inexperienced (or more aptly, no experience,) and bad legs--kind of the later stage Elvis. He finished with stress fractures in both ankles and in his patella.
Terry knew that the physical part was going to be a challenge, but found the mental part even tougher--to allow your mind to convince your body to continue on.

The next two weeks will be all about rest, diet, and the mental preparation game. This has been my most challenging marathon training session to-date with over training fatigue, excessive travel stress, a prescribed layoff, and pain in my left leg that moved from my heel to my shin and now in my IT band and left hip bone. Given that, there's confidence in a few facts and numbers.

7: The number of marathons I've run.
4: The number of those that have been Boston Qualifiers.
3120: Training Miles in the last two years getting to Boston.
19: The number of 20+ mile training runs over that same time period.
3:06: My average Yasso 800 pace. Some consider a marathon finish predictor. I'd consider that a bit insane.
4: Depending on last minute travel, the number of days I'll be acclimating in the E. U.S. timezone preparing for the Patriot's Day race. Some suggest a day for every time zone you have to travel to a race.
3: Number of taper weeks. I've tried two, but at my age, three seems to suit me better.

While I still consider myself a rookie in this crazy sport, I can focus on the above experience to begin preparing myself mentally for the race. 3120 miles to Graceland.

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