Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Jacket

My 2013 Boston Marathon Jacket.  No...I won't wear it until AFTER the race. #motivation

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seeking Boston Marathon: By the Numbers

A look at the numbers in week twelve of Boston Marathon training with six more to go before the 117th running of the greatest race in the land.

262 and 2602:  Numbers of Facebook and twitter followers respectively I hit this last week.  I see 26.2 everywhere.

350: Number of miles run the last eight weeks preparing for Boston.

600:  Number of miles I will "crest" this marathon training session.  A new high.

23:  Number of consecutive days of training.  Didn't "hit" 25 as I was on an international flight.  Another new high for me.  Having always observed a "rest day," I don't know my previous number, but it' s not greater than ten.

7:30: My new lactate threshold at a 150 heart rate.  If the wheels on the bus go "round and round," this is where they fall off. Blog post to come.

40:  Years I went before I started running.

4:  Number of marathons I ran before qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

3:  Number of Boston Marathons I will have run assuming I "lace them up" this April.  The 117th will be my third.

50+:  Four.  As in the number of 50 mile weeks I've run in as many weeks.

13,946:  Number of miles I had to travel this week and last.  That's a long way to carry the running shoes to keep the training going on the road (Boston and Barcelona.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sweat Fest

"Girl, I want to make you sweat
Sweat 'til you can't sweat no more"

I'm blessed with good pores.  I somehow associate the quality of the workout with the amount of sweat generated.  This would also explain why I initially had a mental block around swimming as a workout as it's impossible to measure how much sweat I'm generating in the water.  Today set a new high, or a new low in sweat volume.  A perfect storm if you will as far as sweat goes.  Yesterday threw an uber aggressive interval run session at me early in the morning before heading out of town (ironically to Boston) for work.  Last night included a Thai dinner with a few beers at the Golden Gloves boxing championship in Lowell, Mass. The championships were at legendary Lowell Auditorium that produced boxing greats Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler.  It just seemed right to drink a couple cold ones in this environment.

Let's just say if your engine is running hot from the run the day before and you add beer and Thai food, you're in for a tsunami of sweat for your morning run.  Add the fact that the run was in a cramped hotel workout room (smaller than my bedroom,) and you're in for a sweat fest.

I've determined my new run coach is a bit of a sadomasochist so her idea of a recovery day after my tough Tuesday workout was a 90 minute run.  Short on sleep (five hours at best,) I dragged my groggy ass into the tiny workout run and fired up my (loaned) iPod and dialed in a nice steady pace of 9:05 for my recovery run.  You're probably already repulsed by this post, but you're still reading.  I normally start the real sweating around the ten minute mark, but the engine started heating up in the first few minutes.  I'm not quite sure what "wicking apparel" is supposed to do, but it didn't appear to be working.  My clothes were completely drenched with this run of the mill run.  Wetter than a dog in a pond.

I finished the run feeling strong and began to wipe down the treadmill and my phone which was perched on the dashboard. #gross.  I proceeded to gross out the lobby inhabitants grazing on breakfast at the Marriott Residence Inn before I headed upstairs to take a conference call.  Midway through the call, they claimed they couldn't hear me.  The call ended awkwardly and I went along to my morning appointment.  I "connected the dots" when my second call didn't work.  I doused my Samsung Galaxy S3.  I ruined my second phone within six months.  My last one went for a ride in my washer at home.  (Not recommended as a way to clean your phone.)

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this other than the moral of the story is, "Ty shouldn't eat Thai, drink beer, and perch the phone on the treadmill if I expect to work that day."  Note to self...if I don't want to work a particular day, eat Thai, drink beer, and perch my phone on the treadmill.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lost and Found Karma

If you found an iPod Nano with "SeekingBostonMarathon" inscribed on the back and googled this site wondering why "SeekingBostonMarathon" was inscribed on the back, congratulations!  You found my iPod.  If you are a runner that's seeking the Boston Marathon and cannot afford to buy a Nano, then I'll "pay it forward" and consider it a bizarre blog giveaway.  If you aren't a runner, don't know what the Boston Marathon is, and already have an iPod, then post a message on my Facebook page, and I'll gladly meet you to pick it up.  It was a gift from my wife.

If you ignore all the above, then I hope you enjoy the Glee version of Journey.  It was accidentally loaded on my Playlist, and you'll get a "jazz hands" curse.  Karma is a bitch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By the Book, Club, or, Coach?

If you've followed my short history in this crazy sport of marathon racing, you'd know that I've "tinkered" a bit with different running plans, coaches, and run clubs.  I ran my first marathon without running with literally anyone.  I read a book.  A very good book. Hal Higdon's, "Marathon, The Ultimate Training Guide."  I read his book and followed his beginning marathon plan.  I apparently skipped over the part that suggested running with others.  I broke four hours in my first marathon merely reading a book and running solo over the entire training period.

I recommend the book, but I don't recommend running alone. One is the loneliest number.

For my third Boston Marathon that's two months away, I decided I needed more personal coaching.  Out of nine marathons, I am proud of most of them, but only satisfied with a few of them.  Too many times, I bonked.  "Color me" naive or "color me" stupid...I'm still in search for a "bonkless" marathon.

In my last Boston Marathon, I knew I had nothing in my tank in the first couple miles.  Not good.  My career involves heavy travel that throws many a curve at me in my training schedule.  That means smelly running gear stowed in my bag each week (with even smellier clothes coming home.)  It also means some flexibility is required in the training schedule and plan.

After I graduated from self-training, I discovered the local running club.  I have made and met some of my best running friends through this group.  I have recommended many a new runner to the group.  This is another option I'd highly recommend for the beginner or runner who knows what their plan is and wants to run with similarly minded people.  This option takes much of the planning out of training as a plan is normally provided, and each weekend long run is mapped out with water every couple of miles.  Depending on the group's size, it's tough to understand each individual runner's history and tweak to their needs.  This is perhaps a drawback to the "one size fits all" plan.

Coach Benita
My last marathon, I combined the "Run Less, Run Faster" (FIRST) training approach from Furman and Runner's World along with running with my local group.  I liked the book as it seemed to fit my busy schedule and it allowed me to qualify for my fourth BQ and run in my third this April.  While this worked for me, and I think is a viable option, it still relied on self-coaching myself to a degree using the plan outlined in the book.

I have supplemented my training in the past with a personal coach using local run legend Maureen Roben.  I would meet her group once a week normally for "speed work."  I'm convinced this help me notch my first BQ at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento.  This also gave me the first glimpse into working with an acclaimed marathon runner who could also tune into my run history and goals.

All of this lead to me "shopping" for a new running coach to train for Boston.  Within the Denver area (not far from Boulder,) there's a plethora of options. Translation? #confusion.  There are some incredibly talented and qualified options.  I finally decided to team with Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and Benita Willis.  I've been with the group less than a month, but it's met many of my criteria;

Qualifications:  Benita ran the London Olympics (not the London Marathon) and has a 2:22 marathon time to her credit.  She won the world cross country in 2004.  Benita and her partner coached this year's Colorado Runner Magazine's male and female runners of the year.
Personalized Plan:  BCSM uses Training Peaks to plot each week's plan.  Before even starting my plan, I sat down for an hour and a half and shared my history, goals, and challenges.  Benita tracks my daily runs and adjusts accordingly.  You could say, she's in tune with me after a short time.
Approach:  One of the things I talked to Benita about was how I feel I've been tired by the time I hit the start line.  Normally by the halfway point of some of my previous plans, I would have run a couple of 20 milers.  I would also take a rest day each week.  I haven't run 20 yet, but the philosophy of the plan is to build strength and "peak" on raceday.  There is a strength plan in addition to my running schedule which is something new, or at least with a planned strength plan.  It's not for the timid either as witnessed by last week's three nine mile runs--three days in a row.  That would be a first for me.  There are typically two tougher workouts each week with an emphasis on building speed (and strength.)  The other miles in a given week I'm running MUCH slower than I'm accustomed in sometimes she wants me running 9:15 or slower.  While I haven't got to the long runs yet at the halfway point of my training plan, my weekly mileage has built up to 50 miles.
Results:  Too early to tell.  Raceday results will be the ultimate litmus test, but I have "bought into" the plan.  Last Saturday was speed/strength work vs. my traditional long run Saturday.  Two mile warm-up, followed by progressive intervals of three, two, and one miles.  My splits were 7:10, 7:02, and 6:36 (last mile.)  Coach was pleased and so was I.  I am officially the "slowest" member of this group, but feel I can only improve by running with faster, more experienced runners along with a world class coach.

I've talked about a number of options including the current (personal coach) approach I'm using. Self-train, book training plan, and run club.  What has worked for you and what are you using for your current marathon training plan?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pepe Le Pew

I've run through incessant rain (Portland Marathon,) mud, insane wind (I live in Colorado and sometimes difficult to avoid,) and brutal single digit cold (also a Colorado thing.) As I get older, I get more paranoid that I may encounter something even more dangerous such as a mountain lion or coyote.  Denver "butts up" against the foothills and we get critters from the hills that stray into the city at times in search of food or a good time.  I've had friends encounter a mountain lion on their bike, and my childhood suburbia home even had a stray bear show in the backyard.

Those are mostly all the bad things you might encounter on a run.  Today was more of a random or bizzare encounter.  My day job (which is not a runner or a writer) took me to a sales meeting in the San Francisco Bay area.  I left my cold weather gear at home in hopes of grabbing some outdoor running in shorts san hat, gloves and tights.  My meeting is in the Foster City area (South of San Francisco) within two miles of the San

Francisco Bay.  Last week was Boston with snow, a two hour earlier timezone to adjust to, and lots of treadmill miles.  Happy that this week took me to much warmer weather with an hour earlier advantage.  Traveling west is much earlier than traveling east....last week, I had a breakfast meeting and nine miles to get in before I got started.  That meant waking up at 4AM according to my "body clock." I flew home that night getting home at Midnight which meant I was up for 20 hours after running nine to start the day.  I'd have to go back to college to find a similar time span where I was up for that long, but there was no toga involved last week.

My favorite trail in the Foster City area is the San Francisco Bay Trail which is somewhat self-explanatory.  The is a 500 mile route of asphalt and concrete path mirrored by a dirt/crushed pebble track.  Quite an improvement in scenery over staring down a wall or morning news on the treadmill.
San Francisco Bay Sunrise--this part didn't stink

The first (or ironic) moment of this run of the mill (no pun intended) run was I headed out in my warm weather gear (by Colorado standards.)  As I finally hit the trail from my hotel, I ran into a number of other runners, but I stood out like a sore thumb...or a runner from out of town.

With the morning cloud cover, the local runners wore gear that I'd wear in Colorado in 30 degree and below temps.  Hats, gloves, running tights and odd looks at "the guy from Colorado running half naked" characterized the bay area runners.  The cool ocean air felt great and fueled my pace as I kept trying to slow down since my new running coach wanted these six miles at nine minute pace or slower.

The second or slightly bizarre moment came with two animal encounters within minutes of each other.  The first was my first ever live encounter with a skunk.  I have seen skunk roadkill before and I've smelled skunk from that roadkill usually through the safe confines of my car ventilation.  As I recounted my encounter with the skunk earlier on twitter, many asked, "did the skunk scatter off, what happened?"  I can only say that my extent of skunk knowledge comes from old Peppy Le Pew cartoons and instinct told me, not to get in his "personal space" and get away quickly.   I retorted on twitter that there was no smelly encounter with said skunk and that I was merely "faster" than the Le Pew.

Moments later after the leaving Pepe behind, I ran past a black cat on the opposite side of the path.  I've seen a few goat roping and rodeos (figuratively) in my day, but now I've got my skunk encounter.  I have to consult my voodoo handbook, but I am thinking that running into a black cat and a black skunk on the same run has to be some kind of divine good luck karma.  A good thing heading into my second half of Boston Marathon training.

Update:  Clearly there is a "colony" of black cats on this route.  On my second day run on the same stretch, I smelled the skunk but didn't run into him.  I did however come across FOUR black cats in a span of a 1/2 mile.  I'm also thinking that's gotta be good luck--four black aces in Vegas is a pretty good hand.

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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