Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Green Acres Run Week

"New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue."

Two runs..two different ends of the running universe. This is like some scene out of a movie or some cheap T.V. show from the 70's. A run in New York's Central Park (a must run running bucket list run) on Tuesday and ending the week with a run in the middle of rural nowhere. Green Acres is the place to be.

New York Central Park Run from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

My busy day job continues to offer variety and challenge with my running life. This week took me to New York City for meetings. There was no way I was going to New York and not run one of the greatest running parks in the world. Central Park is a bizarre oasis in the middle of the "hustle and bustle" of Manhattan. Getting a hotel in the city is the first hurdle assuming you don't want to pay $500+ a night. A roll of the dice on Expedia put me in the Chelsea neighborhood of the city. I stayed at the Chelsea hotel which is a cool not so run-of-the-mill hotel that boasted pictures of Jay Z in the lobby and Matthew Modine was either staying there or lived there. Cool dudes...how'd I get a room here?

The Chelsea used to be an art school and has artwork hung throughout the hotel. Next door was the historic Chelsea Guitar store on one side and the infamous Donut Plant featuring eclectic donut flavors such as "Pistacio." No...this wasn't my typical Marriott Courtyard business trip with breakfast at Starbucks. Wanting to get a full feel for New York, I planned to take the subway to Central Park after consulting with the hotel's concierge. He also warned me about running on the Northern Harlem end of the park. The subway station was literally right outside my door, but I looked out of place as I entered my Northbound station twice from the wrong side of the tracks.

New York Run Part II from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

Confused I entered the Southbound side of the station (twice) walked upstairs, said, "this can't be right" and re-entered the wrong side again. Color me stupid or out-of-towner, a $2.25 subway trip cost me $6.75 but I was I finally headed North to Columbus Circle.

This is the second time I've run in Central Park. Being a movie buff of sorts, it's cool to see parts of the park that have been in so many movies including one of my favorites; "Marathon Man." Marathon Man is a classic Dustin Hoffman film who is being chased by bad dudes in the heart of New York.

New York City Run Park III from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

The movie has a famous scene of Hoffman running around the reservoir; the
"Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir." I was a total tourist complete with fanny pack and camera...actually an amphipod running belt and iPhone to capture some pics and video along the way.

I wrapped up my day with pasta at one of New York's classic Italian Restaurants, Patsy's. You know it's gonna be good when there's signed pictures of James Gandolfini and Mayor Rudy Guiliani in the lobby. Fuhgetaboutit!

A late night with clients, a long flight home and another couple busy days of work was my penance for such a cool experience. The scheduling "gods must be crazy" decided that my Memorial weekend in the same week would be spent in Wray, Colorado visiting my in-laws.

"Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside."

Wray is big by small town Colorado standards; two stoplights in town. No Memorial Day 5K's that weekend, and I'd be 184 miles from Monday's Bolder Boulder which included Ryan Hall this year. I've run Wray before in August on a country road that was absolutely covered in dead grasshoppers and pushing 100 degrees--not one of my more memorable runs so I was having a tough time getting psych'ed for this Memorial Day run. While the scheduling gods were crazy, the weather gods gave me a gift with rain the day before and cool temps for my scheduled Sunday long run--a ten miler.

I drove the city on Saturday night plotting my route. The problem with a two light town is that it's tough to map out ten miles in town unless I looped it a few times. The fringes of town are downright dangerous with no sideways or running paths...just a gravel shoulder and semi trucks not used to seeing pedestrians on the side of the road.

Rural America Run from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

I plotted a route through town, then up Alco (rural version of WalMart) hill to head out of town on a smaller county road. Fewer semi's I figured would be the safer bet and more scenic. No iPod for this run, so I could hear trucks or animals coming. Perfect cool temps and a nice solitary run...peaceful...I wasn't thinking about work, my sore left hip, bills, lawyers, quota, or anything except the cool country air in my lungs. Once again, I stopped a few places along the way to snap some pictures. I got some odd looks and I don't think it was because of my neon orange and blue Brooks. I got the feeling, they don't see too many runners on these roads--in fact, it may have been the first time I can recall I didn't see another runner. I was okay with that. One of the more peaceful runs I've had.

Two cities that couldn't be more different provided two of the best runs I've had in awhile in the same week.

Footnote: I apologize for the wind in a couple of the videos. I guess I need a foam attachment for the iPhone microphone. Answer to the trivia question? Christopher Columbus of course.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ugly American

There's a wide range of emotions and sportsmanship in sports in the U.S. especially as fans. We have the NHL which from it's "Hansons Brothers" roots established the "goon" as a position on a hockey team and fighting has become a regular part of a hockey game. "I went to a boxing match and a hockey fight broke out." Golf has rules like don't walk across a lie and don't talk during a player's putt or drive. Kind of the opposite of the free throw in the NBA especially in the playoffs where the baseline fan's job is to "F" up the toss from the line.

Running is an individual sport, but there's a fair amount of camaraderie amongst runners and fan support is arguably the best in any sport since most live through the training of those they're rooting for. As a runner, you may meet a stranger at mile 23 that's hurting and you will encourage them and try to will them to go another mile. I ran into my online run buddy luau somewhere around or after Boston College at this last Boston Marathon, and we both were trying to push each other to finish strong.

This last weekend was Spring football in our house. Yes...bizarre to have football in May in Colorado, but it was playoff time for my son's 7th grade Titans football team. Just like "Remember the Titans" movie, this was a bit of a ragtag group of boys who weren't exactly the most "well oiled" cohesive team at the beginning of their season, but each week, they grew as a team. Learning as individuals, learning fundamentals, and learning how to play as a team. Kids learn from kids, but mainly from teachers, coaches and parents.

This last Saturday's playoff game was a huge first round playoff win for the Titans over the Young Guns who had previously beaten the boys in blue (jerseys.) Where things went sideways was as the game got "out of hand" in the second quarter with the Titans drubbing the Guns. Three Young Gun parents manned the "sticks" helping the officials determine first down and yards to go. One of the three took his "angry pill" and on virtually every play, he barked at his son and increasingly barked at the officials for the call or lack of call. His partners had a down-by-down debate with the line judge on where the ball should be placed. Aren't you supposed to use the children at the dining table rule as a stickman and "be seen and not heard?"

Just after the lead instigator parent's dog ironically got into a fight with a dog 1/4 his size, the refs had enough and booted his ass. Belligerent, he wouldn't leave the field like a petulant child and ranted about the poor officiating, and "I want my money back!" What a proud Dad moment. Moments later after a change in quarters as I was walking onto the field to replace ugly dad, the remaining two, were complaining to the refs about a two yard discrepancy. The game was out of hand and two yards didn't mean diddly. Two more parents were tossed again barking at the refs.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the coach of the Guns who had himself been barking all day, had his under the breath complaints turn into an every play outburst against the zebras. I'm not sure how much those refs made, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't enough to deal with these four.

It was an interesting parent moment in the car ride on the way home as I tried to turn this into a life lesson. I was more upset than the three dads that were booted. I told my two boys that I hope I would never lower myself to that kind of behavior. Did these men ever hear the term "lead by example?" I'm not trying to get all "high and mighty" but be careful of how you behave because someone may be looking at you and learning how to behave. Unless you want a bunch of future Jerry Springer show candidates, show some class and try and set an example for those that look up to you. At the next marathon race, bring your cowbell and cheer them all on with class.

Monday, May 16, 2011

He Blinded me with Science

I assembled a wine rack in my poor man's wine closet under my stairs one year and had to take it apart a number of times and reassemble because to my naked eye and then tape measure, the 6' rack was just a tad off. Call it perfectionist, "type A," OCD, or whatever your label, but it just didn't look right and I was determined to get it right. I've taken a similar approach to my marathon training as I have dissected, analyzed, critiqued, and turned to science to understand why I've hit a plateau which has turned into a mini-slump. Just like many of my local Colorado Rockies baseball players who have hit an early season slump and are trying to rediscover their swing, I'm trying to re-capture my run mojo. Like baseball's Nuke LaLoosh in "Bull Durham," I have even considered wearing a thong under my running shorts to re-capture the "genie in the bottle." I know, "TMI."

There are the obvious issues I've covered here on my blog; mainly you can "run" five marathons in a year in a half, but few of us can "race" that many in that time. I have been hooked up to the Gatorade VO2Max machine and trained for a year with a heart-rate based training plan which helped drop my heart rate at higher speeds. While my heart rate has improved, I still felt a need to get to the bottom of my fatigue. At Boston this year, I wasn't overcome with testosterone in the first few miles by flying out of the gate. In fact, I knew that in the first few miles, I had no fuel in the tank. Who slipped the Drano in my mojo (and why was my wine rack still crooked?)

Just as I jumped into running science after last year's 2010 Boston Marathon, I once again drove up the road after this year's Boston to running mecca in Boulder, CO to seek divine guidance. "Oh Swami, why does my spring have no spring and it feels like someone stole my spark plug." I sought the answer with a naturopathic Dr. in Boulder who I was referred to my one of my running lexicons. He heard my symptoms and ordered my second athletic blood work in the last 60 days to get to the root of the issues.

Once again, iron deficiency showed up as the one that jumped off the page on my results. Uncommon in males (is that why I've felt compelled to watch "Real Housewives of Orange County " and rearrange the furniture?,) my iron level (specifically my Ferritin level) was 67. Men range from 20 to 380. My "Nature Doc" who specializes in athletes said that out of 500 men he'd see in a year, he might see two with iron levels as low as mine. Not the kind of lottery you want to win. Clinical diagnosis; sports anemia. That doesn't sound good. That once again explains the fatigue I've felt in my recent races, but more importantly in my training.

Consulting my Doc and other running coaches, I stuck to my plan of NOT running for one full month. The last time I never ran for a full month was the month before I started running in 1999. My eleven year streak was over, but I was ready to try anything (did I mention the thong?)

If you're still reading this (thank you) and you're probably saying, "when is he getting to the good news?" Boulder Dr. has a plan to get me back to healthy iron levels in a short period of time. It may sound a bit radical, but I hooked up to an IV bag of Iron to get me on the fast track to boost my iron back to normal male levels. No, I'm not "doping," I'm not on the "juice," but pill format can take up to a year to get me back to where I need to be. in parallel, I've re-dedicated myself to diet balance (re-reading Matt Fitzgerald's "Racing Weight") to also balance my body.

The other good news, is that my running chastity belt came off on Monday and I've logged 14 miles in three days. Too early to tell, but mentally I feel great and have my next goal in site (but not ready to announce to the world wide web.) Needless to say, I feel I am still learning this sport and have much improvement to make. I am Iron Man!

Have you suffered with sports anemia? How are you dealing with it?

Monday, May 9, 2011

You know you're a marathon addict when...

1) When you're driving and see a runner on the road, you either slow down to check out their form and pace or feel compelled to honk.
2) Your trunk looks like a running swap meet. The back of my car still has winter gloves, old shoes and usually at least one running outfit. Have you ever had to run in dress socks because you forgot your running socks? Extra everything in my trunk most of the time. Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside that trunk?
3) You look at new shoes online or in magazines with the zeal of a 13 year old boy who's not spending his time online looking at shoes. "shoe porn."
4) You look at the marathon schedule within 48 hours of just completing a marathon. You really feel like an addict on this one. Your body is trashed, you need rest, and you're looking for your next running fix. Run junkie.
5) You are scheduled for 800's, show up early and the track is iced over. Instead of blowing off track day, you improvise and run 800's in a Target parking lot. True story.
6) You not only know what a "snot rocket" is, you're pretty good at at. Directional aim separates the rookie from the rude runner.
7) You check out Kara Goucher's run gear on her magazine cover before you check out Kara Goucher.
8) You actually know who Kara Goucher is, and know how to spell her name.
9) You know how many miles you can run without BodyGlide on the toes or nips. My over/under is 10-12+ miles.
10) You know what temperature warrants singlet, short sleeve, long sleeve or more.
11) You have run every "out and back" possible from your house and you're sick of most of them having run them waaaay too many times.
12) You've run after 10PM because you haven't got that day's scheduled run in yet. I'm a morning guy, occasionally a nooner, but rarely after 5 and almost never after 10. I have done the hotel treadmill after 10PM. Talk about "dreadmill." Not fun.
13) Your first hobby is running and your second hobby is writing about running.
14) You have an entourage. Running physical therapist, chiropractor, running club, running coach, massage therapist, dietician (haven't got that one yet,) exercise physiologist, Naturopathic Dr.and sometimes therapist. You could say I've "pist" a lot of money away on this sport. One expensive sport. If you're in your 20's, this list is much shorter.

What makes you a marathon addict?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Maniacal Sabbatical

Have you ever made a bet or commitment that you regretted right away or had a hard time sticking to it? Such was the case mere moments after running last month's Boston Marathon. After running five marathons in 16 months (and realizing I'm not Dean Karnazes) and being told NOT to run Boston, I knew that my body needed rest. My running PT told me if I ignored her advice and still ran Boston, then I should take an entire month off from running.

After running the race with only one battery square, I committed to my family, I would not run for a month. Hide my shoes. Ignore all the spring marathon fever and runners running around my neighborhood. Like the clip below, I sounded uber confident, but started second-guessing the choice within moments...or as soon as the door was shut.

Was it the beer talking (quite possible,) or post marathon delirium? Here's my commitment to a marathon runner not running for a month. Is that like Charlie Sheen giving up booze and women? Both are addictions. You be the judge.

So how have I done? Two weeks and counting and no running. Cold turkey. Lame duck, or call me chicken, but I'm trying to stick to my plan.

Why such a radical layoff?

Three aspects are impacting this strategy; 1) low iron/anemia, 2) cpk enzyme, and 3) PT/running coach guidance. As for the iron, it's rare for men to have low iron, but my athletic blood work prior to Boston turned up a low iron count which I've been taking supplements for and doing my best to insert natural sources. Anemia equals low energy--not exactly something an endurance runner wants. My cpk enzyme (discussed in greater detail in my blog post; "Grounded") issue is best described by my Dr. as, "There are several muscle enzymes denoting muscle damage and CK (CPK) is probably the most representative and used..yours was for sure elevating denoting muscle damage." Trashed muscles mean they can't retain glycogen...again, very bad. Based on the above, my elite runner (and running physical therapist) recalled a similar stretch of marathons. Fundamentally, if you never let your body recover, you're constantly in a state of disrepair. All of this adds up to rest.

So other than gaining weight, what have I been up to? I took the first week off. Since then, I have done some moderate cardio work (non-impact) on the bike and eliptical combined with some core body and upper body strength work. Just as I stick to my marathon training plan, I'm focused on sticking to my recovery plan and meeting with a naturopathic medicine expert in Boulder this week. More to follow on that...

In the meantime, whatever I say, "don't open the door" and please hide my running shoes.

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