Thursday, February 23, 2012

Run of Flubber

Before I begin, you can stop with the old guy jokes.  The title of this blog comes from the Disney classic, "Son of Flubber" from 1963.  No...I did not see it when it originally came out, but I do remember the rerun as a kid.  A classic underdog story of puny little Medfield College completely outmatched in the big football game against powerful Runland. 



In have a constant quest to find any competitive edge I can in training--remember, I've actually worn Power Balance bracelets.  I came across something for my feet that caught my eye.  My long list or running injuries started with Plantar Faciitis in my left foot--the result of serious miles on shoes past their prime combined with two straight days on my feet at a trade show.  Ouchie mama!

Since trying everything from a frozen water bottle, lacrosse or golf ball rolled under the arch of the foot and the infamous "guaranteed not to get lucky that night sexy Strassburg sock," and custom orthotics, I eventually rid myself of PF.  Given my high arch and training schedule however I've continued to wear orthotics in my running shoes for the most part.

Not exactly an orthotic,  Springbak promises "flubber" type results--turn an underdog into an overachiever.   The insert is rather thin so it fits under your normal shoe insole and promotes speed, strength, height and endurance.  Walk down memory lane with the flubber video and you'll entertain yourself and understand the connection.  Faster and more endurance--words any runner would want to hear. 

I won't get into all the science of the product, you can check out their site for that, but one thing that seemed to resonate with me was the claim that "There is a time honored formula for improving running speed: shorten footplant time and increase stride length.  Running on a resilient surface such as a rubberized track will accomplish both."  Think of the difference between running on a dirt trail, concrete path, and brand new high school track.  I run my fastest on the later.

I've used the Springbak's on a couple runs now and can definitely see the difference early on.  I could feel a bit more bounce in my step, but after 15 miles, it was a little harder to discern the flubber advantage.  "When running, they allow over 80% return of energy. This in turn improves your running speed significantly.”  This friday I've got a long run planned and will be sporting my Springbak's--every little bit helps when you're taking on powerful Runland College or a 20 miler.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snowshank Redemption

Flash back to 2001.  I had just started running (away from things) and realized that not only do people run outdoors vs. on the treadmill, but they actually organize races for people who aren't in High School or College.  If you're lucky, some of them even serve beer.  My first ever race was "Run the Rock" in Castle Rock, Colorado in 2001.  Seven years before I discovered marathon'ing and ten years before I discovered triathlons.

I made two mistakes that day; 1)  I nearly missed the turnaround for the 5K racers and added an extra 20' running with the 10K runners. 2)  I left before all the post race hoopla.  Little did I realize that I came in 2nd in my age group.  I had to swing by the Chamber of Commerce office the next week when I realized I missed my moment in the sun.  The tiny little trophy has been moved twice, lost a wing (that I glued back on,) and has a spot in my Boston Shrine in my office. 

I was shut out on podiums until my third place at the Steamboat Marathon in 2010.  Based on that trajectory, my next running placement would be in 2019.  "Patience grasshopper."


Which brings us to 2012 and this last weekend.  I wouldn't say I have a "chip on my shoulder," but 2011 was an off year for many reasons so I came into 2012 with renewed vigor to get back to my fast winning ways.  I took time off last summer to rest, and get hooked on triathlons and started this year with a new training plan.  The FIRST training plan based on the book,  "Run Less, Run Faster."  How could you go wrong with a title like that?  Since reading the book and starting the plan, I'm starting to buy into the program and also looking for their sequels, "Eat More, Weigh Less" and "Less Work, More Sex."

While my (knock on wood,) Femoral Acetabular Impingment pain seems to be under control, I seem to have wrestled more than I should with winter flu bugs.  Stress, travel, and heavy training don't really go well together and as a result, my body has been feeling pretty puny lately to the point of visiting the Dr. this last Friday.  When they don't know what it is, they call it a virus, and tell you, "don't be such a puss and call me if you don't feel any better in two weeks."  Thanks Doc.

Despite better judgement (consistent problem of mine,) I signed up for the Snowman Stampede 5 mile race on Saturday.  Color me stupid, but I hadn't been in a pure running race for ten months (Boston Marathon last April,) had been training for two months, and wanted to see if FIRST was paying off.  Colorado Runner Magazine sponsored two races; a five and ten miler.  Knowing I had traveled that week (weak,) still feeling flu'ish and needing to tack on my long miles, I opt'ed for the five miler.

The Snowman Stampede hubbed out of Littleton's Hudson Gardens which offered some cross country terrain around the Gardens and a scenic route along the Platte River.  A slight "home court advantage" in that the race was only 15 minutes from home and I've certainly run the river route plenty of times.  There wasn't much snow at the Snowman, but temperatures were brisk (sub-freezing) for the race--is it Spring yet?  My goal for the race was to run sub 35 minutes (or sub 7 minute mile pace.)  Aggressive considering the flu, but not considering the last six weeks of speed work.


Random stranger took my prize pic.  She had a large thumb.


I clearly thought I was running Yasso's or a one mile race as my first two miles were 6:34 and 6:38 pace miles.  I settled into a seven minute mile in the third and was starting to feel weak in the last two miles logging 7:10 and 7:07 minute miles.  My head was throbbing and thought about barfing for a minute after the finish, but settled for water and the runner's buffett of bagels, oranges and bananas.  As they began to post results on the folding table, I was curious to see how I compared to the other old guys.  Must be a typo...first?  I scanned and read it again thinking it might be different, but it still held.  Podium, hardware, bling, cash prize, and schwing.


No trophy, but my first "First" and a cash prize ($25 Gift Certificate at Runner's Roost.)  Considering I had no business racing that day, I'll take it.  I am also pretty content with the first chapter in my running redemption year.  The "Snowshank Redemption."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love is in the Air: Ten Things to Love About Running

With Valentine's Day this week, love is in the air and #runchat is asking bloggers to write about their top ten reasons they love running.  My "Bo Derek" list.

1) A great sense of accomplishment.
2) #bromance.  I've made some great friends through running; either through my running group (Runner's Edge of the Rockies,) or online through twitter and DailyMile.   Sort of a running "Band of Brothers."
3) Free bananas. All you have to do is drop $150 on registration. $500 for Airfare. $400 on lodging. Train for four months. Run 26.2 miles and you can eat all the bananas you want.
4) Chasing women in tights. Women in tights chasing me.
5) Bling.
6) Jubilation of crossing the finish line.  I cried the first time I finished a "mary," and the first time I BQ'ed (but then again, I "tear up" every time I watch "Rudy" or "Hoosiers."
7) New shoes every six months or 500 miles; whichever comes first.
8) Running the gauntlet of Wellesley college coeds--the "scream tunnel." For 200 yards, you feel like a rock star.



9) Carb loading. If you love bread and pasta, this is the sport for you.
10) Some of best naps you will ever find after a 20 mile training run.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Italian Beef, Captain Crunch, and Lucky Charms

Very random "Three Things Thursday" thoughts one month into my marathon training plan and one week away from Valentine's Day.

Things that don't go together

I'm into the fourth week of my marathon training plan and had quite a variety of ups and downs in my training.  After last Friday's blizzard and taking a poll, most voters told me to get my ass out there despite the 18" of snow.  I complied, but moved the Saturday run to Sunday which meant I could run (with my running group) on Denver's Cherry Creek trail.   The path was plowed but still had a variety of snow and ice patches to dodge.  17 miler done! 

I followed the long run by my "best swim ever" on Monday.  I don't know what it was, but it felt effortless to knock out a smooth 1 x 2000 yd swim.  Schwing!  Those two complemented each other like polyester and pants.  Tuesday was interval track day.  Not really thinking this thing through, we had Italian Beef sandwiches for dinner Monday night.  Talk about a "gut grenade."  Not so smart.  After (ahem) preparing my system early Tuesday morning for a run, I hit the gym for 5 x 1000 intervals with 400 recoveries.  On the T.V. in the gym was none other than Bart Yasso talking about the Kauai Marathon.  Normally, I'd have a "Bart Boner" with a marathon on T.V., but the Italian beef, an aggressive 6:03 pace on the 1000's combined with images of runners laboring in a marathon really made me want to stop at four 1000's (or three) and promptly hurl.  I didn't want to disappoint Bart so I ran all five, but lowered the last one by two seconds. 

I've decided that watching a marathon on T.V. is good to get you motivated to do a marathon, but it has a psychological factor that doubles the pain during intervals.  Add Italian Beef to the equation and you have a full-scale "assplosion" waiting to happen.  Italian beef the night before and running go together Star Wars geeks and dating.

Ice, Ice, Baby

I mentioned my Sunday long run along the Cherry Creek Trail.  Probably a whole blog story here when I run out of ideas to write about, but there really is a science around running on snow and ice.  Not just the equipment and clothing (see Cold Nipple Calculator,) but the constant monitoring of where your feet will land.  One of the best "diggers" I ever took was winter training in Colorado with a "tumble and roll" off a snowbank onto the pavement.  Since then, I've tried to become better at spotting the conditions as I see them by foot strike.  Black ice, smooth ice, powder, packed powder, and my favorite, "Captain Crunch" ice.  Cap'n Crunch ice is that crunchy stuff on top of pavement--safer than black or smooth, but not as good as packed powder.  All of it not good for running posture as you're not supposed to run looking down unless it's a trail run or you're scanning for ice.

Don't Mess with Tradition

I love the holidays and Valentine's Day brings out the kid in me remembering back to grade school days of picking out your box of Valentine cards for the party at school.  There was always one or two in the box that were cooler than the other 30 in the box and those went to someone special.  Talk about a love message so subtle, they never knew the flimsy card had some extra special meaning.  My ineptness at an early age (and still into my adult age) with women is too vast to cover here--just ask my wife.  Another Valentine tradition as a kid was the conversation hearts from the New England Confection Company (NECCO.)  Same thing...you'd hand them out to someone special as if it was random, but you really went through the sayings to make sure you were sending the right message.  Each year, I look forward to buying a box or two for myself and more for my wife and kids.  I bought my first box this year and found they didn't taste quite right.  I figured I was "duped" and bought a copycat brand.  My wife bought me a six pack of what she thought was the genuine real deal conversation hearts and same thing.  "These things taste like crap!"  Being a crack journalist, I researched NECCO's site and discovered that "The new Sweethearts® have been re-formulated to be softer and more fun to eat."  They also added more flavors.  I was fine with the flavors they had.  I was okay when they added blue diamonds to "Lucky Charms," but more like you took something great and turned it into crap.  Who changes a 100 yr old recipe that people enjoy?  You don't see them trying to fix or modify the fucking candy corn at Halloween do you? Some marketing dude should be fired.  #disappointed

Did I really just write a running blog that included references to both Lucky Charms AND Captain Crunch?  Yes, but not by design.  Random three things Thursday...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow Day

Actual twitter conversation last night;

Michelle: "Please let there be school tomorrow, Pleeeasssseeeee!"

@SeeksBoston26Mi: "Let me guess...you're not looking forward to kids spun up on Cocoa Puffs home all day?"

One of my more memorable runs in Roxborough Park 
If you live in Colorado, or caught the national news this morning, Colorado is getting hit with a blizzard today.  As a kid, these are the two words you love to hear, "Snow Day."  Kids love it, parents "not so much."  Runners are probably split on the topic.  

As far as weather goes, wind is not a runner's friend. Light rain can be nice in the Spring.  Heavy downpour during a race just plain sucks (see Portland Marathon write-up.)  Just like rain, I've had great runs in the snow, and others (New Year's Eve last year in single digit weather in blowing snow) that tested my resolve.  Having run Boston the last two years, there's no way to avoid running in the snow when you have a 16 week training program leading up to April.

With the Colorado Marathon planned for this May in Colorado, I have to be prepared and train in all weather conditions.  That means, don't puss out if the white stuff flies and get your ass out there.  Having said that, the forecast calls for over a foot of snow today (Friday.)  My training plan calls for a 17 mile run Saturday morning.  My running group, (Runners Edge of the Rockies) normally runs regardless of conditions for the reason I mentioned above, "you can't predict race day conditions."

Based on the amount of snow that's out there right now, I'm sticking with the plan to run and will have my YakTrax in the car as I'll likely need the extra traction.  The good news is that the weather has been good leading up to the storm so there won't be ice underneath the snow--that's when someone gets hurt.

Current snowfall on my hot tub as of 8 AM Friday.
The question is, at what depth do I move the run to Sunday (it won't be any better,) or god forbid, indoors.  Indoors leaves two options; dreadmill and indoor track.  Just how dizzy do you think I'd be after 170 turns on a tiny indoor track and how sore will the legs be from all those turns?  I'll take this one to a vote.

Go to my facebook page HERE  and vote.

Voting options are;

1) Don't be a wimp and get my ass out there with my YakTrax and get it done.
2)  Get on the dreadmill and watch some crappy movie on TBS. 
3)  Run 170 laps on the indoor track and promptly throw up from dizziness afterward.

I've left the voting open to add your own options.  A SeekingBostonMarathon sticker for the most creative solution.

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