Sunday, March 31, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #EatToday

Saturday, March 30, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Reward

Sometimes a #reward can be pretty simple.  After yesterday's ten mile tempo run, a bottle of ice cold water couldn't have tasted any better.  Today's #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge word is #reward.

Friday, March 29, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Motivate

Today's #30DaysToBoston #photochallenge word is #motivate.  The subtitle to #motivate should be #THEjacket.  I've already procured my 2013 117th Boston Marathon jacket.  It's sitting in it's original plastic bag in the corner of my bedroom.  Wearing the jacket once you've completed the race is almost as special as the medal you get.  My motivation to get through my training and the race itself is once again being able to don "THE jacket."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Early

If you are running the Boston Marathon or any marathon for that matter, there are a LOT of early mornings.  Most of us are not fortunate enough to run for a living so that often means getting up wicked early to get your run in before you head off to work or take care of other responsibilities.  

This training session has been especially tough for me with an aggressive training plan (and coach) combined with a heavy work travel schedule.  This brings new meaning to the "early workout" run when you live in Colorado, you have meetings in New Jersey, and you have an hour and 20 minute run planned.  Worse that that was my trip to Barcelona.  You know you're a runner when you say, "I really don't want to go to Barcelona because I don't know how I'm going to get my running in."

Do the math.  You have to be on the trade show floor for meetings at 9AM and it takes a good 45 minutes to get there.  Hour and 20 minute run, 20 minutes to get ready for work and that means my "early morning run" starts at 10 or 11 PM according to my body clock.  Brutal yet beautiful as this morning's #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge photo shows one of my early morning pix taken with the sun coming up over the Columbus Monument and Mediterranean Sea.  Gorgeous and very #early.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Pain

There's a reason it's called a marathon and not a "walk in the park."  Your body takes a beating and that's before you even run the race.  Today's #30DaysToBoston #photochallenge word is #pain.  Before my marathon training plan even started, I was dealing with lower leg pain in the area of my previous stress fracture.  For Christmas, I gave myself an MRI to rule out anything bad.  Good news, no stress fracture and a green light for training.  Bad news was that they MRI didn't sprinkle pixie dust on my leg and make the boo-boo go away.  In other words, I had 600 miles to put on a already bum wheel.  The second bit of good news is that that pain has subsided for the most part--not the first time running MORE actually took care of something on its own.
Pre-training #pain
Today's #pain shot shows that I don't have just one "badge of honor," I have five.  Save all the "you have the wrong size shoe advice" emails and comments.  I have been using more of a forefoot strike and have run more miles for a marathon than I've ever run before, so this is my reward.  The other good news?  I won't loose any toenails in the race because the five longest ones are still growing back.

Monday, March 25, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Distance

You can tell that I sell analytics as my day job.  Runners are obsessed with numbers; tracking mileage (distance,) PR's, miles run this week, miles run this year.  I used to log each training run in a spreadsheet with comments on how I felt and heart rate.  I still track training miles in a spreadsheet, but the later items I log in Garmin Connect, Training Peaks and on DailyMile.  No need to write down my heart rate in too many places.  The spreadsheet (shown in the background of #distance) shows miles planned each week and actuals.  DailyMile shows that March was an all-time high in distance trained at 217 miles with a few runs left in the month.

What #distance have I covered training for this year's Boston Marathon?  571 and counting.  I had my first ever 70 mile week this month.  Today?  A mere five miles run on a recovery day.  What #distance did you run today and what #distance have you covered over your Boston Training plan?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Lovedones

Most marathoners know that with the demanding rigours of training there's a lot of sacrifice when it comes to the family.  It means a lot of (earlier than normal) early morning runs to accomodate getting kids to school or catching the parent teacher conference or recital.  If your significant other happens to be a non-runner like my wife, it puts a lot on them to take care of Saturday morning activities when you're off for your weekly long run.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it can also take a village to support a marathon runner and their crazy demanding sport.  Today's #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge word is #LovedOnes.

My #Photochallenge photo today shows my family at my daughter's 18th birthday party.  My daughter is shown with my wife in the lower right corner at my first ever marathon at the Rock and Rock San Diego Marathon in 2007.  Both are two of my biggest fans.  The upper right corner is one of my favorite race pictures at the 2012 Denver Triathlon.  My first 1st place age group podium made it special but I love the photo because you can see two of my boys and my stepmother at the end of the race.  This may be my only photo that happened to catch #lovedones in the finish line shot.  #priceless.

Friday, March 22, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Playlist

Today's #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge word is #playlist.  I posted the question on Facebook, what song rocks your run or are you most embarrassed about?  Me?  Eminem "Lose Yourself" is one of my favorite running songs.  My most embarrassing is a Glee version of a Journey song.  I'm not sure how that one got there.

Tomorrow is my last long run before Boston.  Not ironic that tomorrow's #photochallenge word is #longrun. Post a picture of your last run before Boston with the hashtags; #30DaysToBoston, #Photochallenge, and #longrun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Snack

Before I talk about today's hashtag, questions I've been getting about the #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge;

1)  What's a hashtag and how do I post?  A "#" before a key word allows you to search for that word on popular social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter.  Search #30DaysToBoston and you'll see some very creative stuff on each daily challenge word.  Post your pictures to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook with the tags #30DaysToBoston, #Photochallenge, and that day's tag and people can find your posts.
2)  If I'm not a blogger, or not running the Boston Marathon can I participate?  Yes and yes.  One of our sponsor bloggers (Lora) is not running this year, but has her sights set on qualifying.
3)  If I didn't start on Day 1, can I still participate?  Even though the party has already started, of course!
4)  Is there a giveaway?  Great idea!  Vendors can DM me on twitter.  We will announce something next week!  There's always a SeekingBostonMarathon sticker for participation!
5)  If it's a countdown, why aren't we counting down from 30? Today is #5...shouldn't that be #25?  Runners count miles differently.  After mile 1 in a race, we think, I just ran one mile, not "crap, I have 25 more to go." Somewhere around mile 20, we start counting differently.  "Only six to go."

Today's word is #snack.  For those that have followed me for any period of time, you know that my day job (not running) requires a fair amount of travel.  (Over 100,000 miles on United last year.)  This presents all kinds of challenges with training and diet.  There is a LOT of garbage you can find in the airport.  Luckily, I have discovered Kind products.  Today's snapshot was taken in the Chicago O'Hare airport on the way back to Denver.  I scored a bag of their Vanilla Blueberry Cluster Healthy Grains along with a Dasani water.  Much better than a greasy cheeseburger and beer (although that's debatable) and it's gluten-free.

On a final note, can someone explain why the BAA website shows 24 days to go?  Did they move the race to Sunday or can I not count?

Play #30DaysToBoston and a SBM Sticker is Yours while supplies last

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Inspire

Today's #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge word is #Inspire.  Hard not to be inspired by the story in the running world this week at the DC Rock 'n' Roll USA marathon.  Photographer Simon Rakoff was camped near the finish line waiting to snap photos of his wife.  He spotted the runner in yellow a mere 200 yards to the finish but he was ready to drop.  The runner in green jumped in and prevented the collapse.  Truly inspiring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Speedwork

Day #3 of the #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge countdown.  27 days until the Boston Marathon.  No doubt, all who are running this race in April used a healthy dose of speed work in their training regiment.  This is my new running group, Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (BCSM) run by James Carney and Benita Willis.  Some crazy fast runners with several sub three marathoners.  I "snuck" my way into the group and I'm trying to gain speed by association and some very good coaching.  Here we were getting ready for tempo runs this last Saturday.  I'm the slowest looking one on the far right.

Monday, March 18, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Breakfast

Day 2 of the #30DaysToBoston #photochallenge.  Blackberry and blueberry Jamba Juice Oatmeal (yum) and Latte from my Nespresso machine at home with almond milk.  Not so sure about the almond milk.

Just realized...shouldn't this be #29 instead of #2 if it's a countdown? Sometimes I confuse myself.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Shoes

Day one of the #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge.  If you didn't catch the challenge details, you can find them HERE in my previous post.  Each day as I count down to race day of the Boston Marathon, I'll be posting a picture based on each day's hashtag.  Today's hashtag is #shoes with a St. Patrick's Day influence.

These Brooks Pure Connect are part of my short distance speed work shoes, and they just seemed right on this holiday.  Happy St. Pats!

Join in the #30DaysToBoston #photochallenge fun!  You can post to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, your blog, or your neighbor's cat.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge

Hard to believe that the Boston Marathon is right around the corner.  After a one year hiatus, I'm heading back to the holy grail, the "motherland," run "nirvana," the Boston fricking Marathon.  My body knows we should be getting close as I am sporting five black toenails (spare me the comments and emails telling me my shoes are the wrong size.)  My DailyMile tells me I've run over 450 miles in preparation for the race and god-willing, by race day I'll crest 600 miles of training to prepare for the Newton hills and that cherished left turn onto Boylston.  In other words, "Ive been burning them and earning them, snapping necks and cashing checks!"  I'm getting goosebumps as I write this.  

To add to the excitement and count down the days, SeekingBostonMarathon has teamed up with four other bloggers to creat a #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge.  Haven't done a photo challenge before?  It's pretty simple.  Each day there are hashtags related to the race that you need to post a picture for.  You post the picture on your social media connections along with the daily hashtag, #30DaysToBoston, and #Photochallenge.  Our first post will be this Sunday which is #shoes.  That's an easy one as runners love to post #shoeporn.  I'll be posting on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, twitter and DailyMile.

We have a great set of bloggers lined up that are running Boston and one who has her sights set on getting there this year.  Please link to them to catch their daily pics.  Feel free to post the list to your blog or running virtual world.  I've also got a Facebook cover page image and a badge to post to your blog.

Use the html code below to post the above badge on your site.

<a href=""_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="150 boston challenge badge photo sbm-photo-chall-badge-150_zps619cfa2a.jpg"/></a>

The Facebook Cover Page

The awesome bloggers you'll want to follow and follow their challenge photos;

Link, post, and good luck with your last 30 days of training!  Ty (seekingbostonmarathon)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

They Don't Give out Medals for Training Runs

I had an old run club director who always told us, "they don't give out medals for training runs," but this weekend, I think I may have earned at least a green ribbon. I'm in week 13 of my Boston Marathon training with a mere five full weeks to go.  This weekend had a blizzard warnings for Denver and warnings from my coach that Saturday's run was going to be "tough."  You know when a run coach calls something tough and she's run in the Olympics, it's going to be just that--tough.

I had a review of my "fuel test" on Friday which was the 2nd half of my Vo2Max testing I did at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.  I have largely used "trial and error" when it comes to my diet prior to a race and within a race (or long run.)  Once again, lots of data to digest (pun intended,) but my sports nutritionist basically summarized that I'm a good "fat burner."  Not sure what that is, but it sure sounds good.  She also laid out just how many calories I burn in a race in an hour.  Understanding this gives me somewhat of an idea of how much goos, gelpacks, and gobstoppers to stuff myself with.

If you've closely followed my blog, you know that I've also had my share of raceday stomach issues including last years BQ race in Ft. Collins.  I've also had some low iron issues and what's perceived to be an anemia issue.  Getting depressed yet?...I'm getting to the good stuff.  Sharing this with Kathleen (my sports nutritionist,) she said that I could be dealing with some gluten intolerance.  Makes sense since I normally gorge myself with pasta the night before a long run or race.  #hmmm

Two other variables I've been "tweaking" on the nutrition front are what I use during a long run, and prior to the long run.  My run coach Benita has turned my onto UCAN products which she and Meb (yes...that Meb) use.  I have just started using the product for pre-fuel and recovery.  During a run, I have been using PowerBar Gel Blasts every two miles vs. traditionally fueling every four miles.

Aside from the nutrition aspects above, as I indicated in my recent blogs on my coach's training approach, it's focused on really pushing myself two days a week with the other days dialed WAAAYY down.  I've never run so many nine minute miles before.  She also has thrown in some "time on my feet" runs during the week at that slower pace.  Talk about a sadomasochist, recovery day?  Run for an hour and 20 minutes.  Another curve I haven't done before--consistent strength training 3-4 days a week.  Ironically, I worked at a restaurant in high school called the "Plankhouse."  My home has turned into a plank house.

That brings me to Saturday morning.  I've been laying off the glutens for a few days and certainly the night before.  I have been loading up a bit on liquid iron and took my Meb cocktail Saturday morning before my 21 mile run.  With the blizzard rolling in (never really materialized,) our group long run was cancelled so I had to hit the "Dreadmill" for a solo run. #brutal.

The prescribed run was a two mile warm-up (9 min. pace,) and (4) four mile runs at progressively faster paces.  Take a one minute (slower pace) break between the fours and finish with a 2 mile recovery run.

With the snow flying outside the windows, I fired up my iPod, took my first energy blast and set out to tackle this run.  While I've run plenty of 20+ mile training runs, I have never implemented progressives, or negative splits for that matter.  My (4) four mile segments came out as 8:05, 7:55, 7:35 and the last four (at miles 14-18) at a 7:25 pace.  At mile 21, no stomach issues and I still had energy.  Eureka!  What a breakthrough.  I am still slightly amazed three days later. #WTF

While they don't give out medals for training runs, I gave myself a mental ribbon for this one.  #fanf*ckingtastic

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Air Boulder

Working with my new coach (Benita) and the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (BCSM,) my coach had suggested I re-test my VO2Max, heart rate zones, and lactate threshold.  I had this test done nearly three years ago and felt it would be good to get a baseline for my zones at roughly the halfway point of my Boston Marathon training.  I'll (do my best to) describe what these tests are, but what's the purpose of getting hooked up to a bunch of equipment and drawing blood every four minutes?  The short answer is once I understand my heart rate zones, my coach can "dial in" the appropriate speeds for various workouts to gain the most improvement between now and race day (and beyond.)

Adam, who performed my test, shared a more scientific answer with a study performed in Sweden with a number of athletes.  Half the athletes trained 20% in their maximum range (5K-10K pace) and the balance just below that (still running pretty fast.)  The other group also trained 20% in their maximum range, but the other 80% of their runs were in a "basic endurance" mode with runs that were easy to moderate.  The "alpha male" in me would think the runners that ran fast all the time improved the most, but that was not the case.

This isn't the first time I've heard this, but matched up with my recent training, it really started to make sense.  Benita has me running six days a week with one day of cross-training.  Typically two days a week, she has me running above lactate threshold (there's that word again...I'll explain soon) or at an "all out" pace.  Think Yasso's speed (track intervals of 800 meters below 5K pace.)  Akin to the swedes in the study that improved, I'm running my other four days super slow.

The "Blur"
I've already got in trouble on DailyMile and twitter for using the word "slow."  Confucius say, "while one man's slow is another man's fast.  Same man's fast is another man's slow."  When Benita wants me to run slow, it's at a nine minute pace or slower.  I can honestly say, I've never run so many training miles at this pace, but I'm starting to see results.

Back to the testing.  I drove from "suburgatory" Denver up to Boulder for my test.  I have a couple of my other specialists in Boulder and don't mind the hour drive as I always feel I'm getting some divine running experience as many of the world elite train out of Boulder.  To help explain the test, first a few boring medical terms.

Heart rate:  Simply your heart's beats per minute.  Most Garmins have heart rate capabilities that require a chest strap to calculate and send to your wrist.  For my test, they used an EKG.  A "bonus" for being an old guy.
Heart rate zones:  One of the most valuable outputs of the testing.  This will tell you what your BPM should be under various speeds and levels of effort. Zone 1 is considered jogging with minimal effort and they go up from there.
Lactate threshhold:  Another important metric to get out of the testing.  This is "bonkville USA."  Above lactate threshold is where your body melts down and you're unable to recover in a race.  Lactate is a fuel that the body can use to fuel exercise at a limited rate, but there is a maximum rate of lactate recycling.  During low intensity, the amount of lactate that is removed from the exercising muscles is equal to or greater than the amount of lactate being produced by the muscles.  If you exercise above your lactate threshold, blood lactate concentrations continue to rise.  At this point, think someone just poured water into your gas tank.  #notgood
VO2Max: Maximum RPM's.  How large is your aerobic engine?

BCSM is on "the hill" in Boulder along the gorgeous flatiron mountains of Boulder.  My treadmill for the test looked out a window and actually had a light snow fall happening as I started my testing.  Adam proceeded to hook me up to all the appararatus while he explained what we'd be doing that day.  Over a certain age, you either had to have a waiver signed or get hooked up to an EKG.  I whiffed on the waiver so Adam proceeded to shave a few patches so he could hook up the EKG leads to my torso.  He used some crazy sticky glue for that and after hooking the wires up, he rolled a tight gauze over my upper half.  It looked like a fishnet tube top.  While I wanted to take plenty of pictures, there were none of me in the tube top.
Zones and evidence that I'm "Olympic"

After hooking up the EKG, he mounted the breathing tube that would measure my VO2 that had a "kluggy" headgear apparatus that tightened like a bicycle helmet.  Once it was on, it wasn't too bad, but then he applied the noseclip.  All my testing (and breathing) would be through the mouthpiece that fit into my mouth like a snorkle.  I'd get to wear this the next hour.  Once hooked up, Adam had me start out very slow with a warm-up run.

After the warm-up, we started super slow (in the ten minute per mile pace,) and turned it up every four minutes.  After each four minute interval, there would be a little pin-prick (Pink Floyd playing in the background) to measure the lactate in my system.  Most of this was pretty easy as it resembled a typical interval, but I don't normally don a nose clip and snorkle when I run.

After completing eight of these zones (progressing to sub-seven minute per mile pace,) and dripping blood all over Adam's treadmill, I was allowed another break before starting the VO2Max session.  The last time I had my VO2Max measured, they simply kept turning up the speed on the treadmill until I yelled "uncle."  For this test, they would start me out on the treadmill near marathon goal pace, but in this case, Adam would not speed up the treadmill, but keep adding elevation; 0%, 3%, 5%, 7%, 9%, and 11%.  My caveat here is that while I have run a lot of treadmill miles, I have rarely turned up the elevation.  My Gus Grissom (or George Jetson) moment came around 7%.  I should have held out longer, but a slight panic set in as I didn't want to fly off the back "George Jetson" style (see opening of the Jetson's cartoon with George walking Astro.  #ruhroh.)

After a quick shower, Adam and Benita walked me through the results.  Lots of data and charts to sort through, but a few highlights;

Heart Rate Zones:  As mentioned above, one of the best outputs from the test are your heart rate zones.  This will help my coach and me set paces for many of my runs.  I will try and mimic the swedes that took advantage of splitting training on the two extremes of the "bell curve."
Lactate Threshold:  My LT is at a 7:30 pace with a 150 heart rate.  This would be my PR area for a marathon with a lot of asterisks.  Course, training, race day energy, sea-level or not, and NOT wearing a nose clip.  This metric can improve over weeks and months with the right training.  Right on!

VO2Max:  I should have "lead" with this one.  According to BCSM and "Astrand: ACTA Physiol Scand 49 (whoever they are,) my max ml/kg/min is 56.1 puts me in the category of "Olympic" on a range of Low, Fair, Average, Good, High, Athletic, and Olympic.  This reinforces the fact that you can skew any statistic to make something look good.

I'll try and hold that thougtht in six weeks as I line up in Hopkinton for the start of my third Boston Marathon, "you are Olympic, you are Olympic, you are Olympic...."

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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