Thursday, May 30, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Love is in the air.

My three "Love" thoughts on this payday Thursday.  I guess that's four because I also love getting paid.

Facebook Love:

No.  This is not finding your high school sweetheart on Facebook...that was MySpace's space.  I had a random post on my Seeking Boston Marathon Facebook page that I'd made WomenRaces.Com's "100 Motivating Endurance Facebook Pages List."  Perhaps they mistook the tutu I was wearing in my "I Was Beat up by a Ballerina" blog post and thought I was a female runner.  I'm in touch with my feminine side and my female readers, so I'll gladly accept the nod.  Check it out (HERE) as there are some great runners to follow on Facebook.  I was informed later that there were a number of male bloggers/pages that made the list.  Thank you WomenRaces.com!


Twitter Love:

It doesn't make much to make me happy.  I still appreciate it when Bart Yasso occasionally responds to my tweets or Facebook posts on running.  I'm still waiting for Kara Goucher to respond to my overtures, but I'm about to put her on my "Mean Girls" list.  After blogging about my latest lust, my Brooks T7 Race shoes that I tried for the first time this week, I got a "Favorite" from the mighty Brooks Running themselves.  Take that Kara!



Mailman Love:

What can brown do for you?  Brown can deliver some great mail.  I get enough bills and worse through Mr. UPS and regular mail, but this was a great mail week.  Skora Running reached out to me to see if I wanted to test drive their shoe.  #twistmyarm  I put these baby's in the corner of my office and I'm waiting for the "right" run to bust them out...soon.  It's a minimal shoe so not likely on my long run this weekend, but perhaps for the tempo intervals I have scheduled.  I slipped them on and they feel like slippers.  I think it's love.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's Not Complicated; Running More is Better

Seeking Boston Marathon's slight spin on AT&T's popular, "It's not complicated" commercial; "Running More is better.

Like a Gazelle...I Mean Zebra

When you think of really fast runners, you use words like "gazelle," and "cheetah."  Super fast and graceful animals.  Today I felt like a zebra.  I know what you're thinking.  A zebra looks like a bastardized version of a mule.  And how fast can a mule run anyway?...the answer would be 40 miles per hour according to the American Museum of Natural History.  Proof that the black and white mule is pretty darn quick and proof that I will exhaust all research sources in the name of run blogging.  The zebra is not as fast (or graceful) as the aforementioned gazelle or cheetah.  Gazelles can run up to 60 mph and over distance at 30 mph.  The cheetah is the fastest of the bunch running up to 75 mph, but they are not marathoners which is why the gazelle (albeit slower) can sometimes outrun the cheetah.  What in the Wide World of Sports (or Wild Kingdom) has that got to do with SeekingBostonMarathon for donkey's sake?  #newshoes

I've been lusting after my new kicks for a few days.  My Brooks T7 Racers arrived by mail before Memorial Day, but I wanted to wait for speed work to break them out.

I've been ogling them for a few days now.

These are not trail shoes...these are not heavy support shoes with lots of posting for pronators.  They're built for speed and are super light at a whopping six ounces. Why the zebra reference?  

The bottom of the shoes resemble either a cougar's (the bar version) halter top, or a wicked mean and fast zebra print.  Beyond the bold colors and brazen Brooks name across the front of the shoe, the shoes have an extremely light mesh on the top.  They also sport the "off-set" lacing which provides...I'm not exactly sure what that provides.  I have to ask Brooks on that one.  It  feels quite comfortable when laced up and doesn't constrain the top of the foot.  I have never worn ballet shoes (REALLY...I haven't!,) but I suspect this is what ballet slippers feel like which are certainly lighter than my "man cave" slippers.

The "true test" of the zebras was my first speed workout in them today.  My run coach prescribed a 15 minute warm-up run followed by a two mile tempo at near half marathon pace.  After the tempo run and a brief two minute rest, I ran 15 second strides over seven minutes; first 15 seconds at 5K pace, then a cooldown stride, and then repeat for seven minutes.  After another quick 90 second rest, I ran another tempo run faster than the first.  This one started at sub-seven minutes and sped up to a 6:31 pace.  Another quick breather, then I finished with a ten minute cooldown.  This was perhaps one of the best speed Tuesdays I've had in awhile--certainly the best I've had since the Boston Marathon last month.

I don't know if it was the shoes, my coach, or my coaches plan, but I'm feeling faster.  At least today I did.

I have slowly migrated from "meatier" shoes such as the ASICS 2160/2170's to largely training and racing in much lighter shoes.  I ran Boston in the Brooks Racer ST5's.  The ST5 has been my "go to" shoe lately.  My current training focus is training for the Slacker Half Marathon in June.  It's a wicked fast downhill course, and I wanted to test out a faster race day (and speed day training) shoe.

After today, it would be an understatement to say I'm kinda digging the zebras.  I've never viewed myself as a "graceful" runner.  I'm not a gazelle or cheetah.  I've got occasional back and hip issues so I run more like Quasimodo when he's  told to "go ring the bell."  While the zebra may not win the Wild Animal Kingdom beauty pagent, it's pretty darn fast and pretty darn tough.  You don't want to take a donkey kick from the black and white mule! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

In(Vince)ible

I've always approached running as if I didn't know much and can always learn more.  When I first started in the sport, I learned on my own and through books.  I realized that could only take me so far and sought out professional help (not the first or last time for that in several categories.)  The first run group I joined was Runner's Edge of the Rockies which is wildly popular in Denver with long runs planned every Saturday around the metro area.  I met many good running friends who I still keep in touch with.  One of those runners was Vince DiCroce.  Vince was among a trio of DiCroce's in the group.  His brother Chris (and wife) Sarah also train with the group and took on the role of triathlon coaches.

Early on, I could tell Vince had the "right stuff" as I hadn't punched my BQ (Boston Qualifier) ticket yet so I was a bit of a "sponge" wanting to learn from anyone and everyone.  Vince was faster than me, and a more seasoned runner.  I recall talking to Vince about drinking from the elusive Boston Marathon chalice.  He told me once I qualified, they would come in bunches.  I thought he was crazy.  What I didn't know at the time was that Vince was a brain cancer survivor.  You couldn't tell by looking at him--he was a lean fast athlete.  Crazier than that, you couldn't tell by talking to him.  He stuck me as a man with confidence and didn't walk around with a negative aura of  "I've got cancer."  Quite the opposite.  He became an inspiration to many.
Vince (in orange) leading several teammates in InVincibles t-shirts (photo courtesy E. Brumleve/Facebook)

Since being diagnosed with cancer in 2004 with a life expectancy of 3-5 years, Vince became in(Vince)ible. He has run 30 marathons and went on to become an Ironman...SEVEN TIMES.  Vince clearly decided that brain cancer would not define who he was and "spit in it's face."  In one of his recent Ironman's, he had to "pull out" of the race due to a minor (un-related) medical issue.  The dreaded DNF.  "Captain Courageous" was miffed as I would be and decided, "I have all this training" and signed up for a another marathon to take out his DNF frustrations.  Not having trained for a fast marathon, but an Ironman, he didn't know what to expect.  Dude broke 3:10...in his forties.  I once again looked up to him.  "How does he do it?," I wondered.

Vince ended 2012 with a PR and blistering 3:03 at the Richmond Marathon in November.  With the race still a blur, he and his wife Linda found another blur on his MRI the day after flying home.  The cancer had returned.  Chemotherapy resumed, and Vince once again said that he would not cave in to the disease.  As his treatments resumed, his lean Ironman body became what he described to the Denver Post as a "POW" in a May 2013 article.  Between treatments, he was thinking the improbable...he'd run the (Denver) Colfax Half Marathon along with his wife and daughter who were both running the full.

Yesterday, Vince did not run the half.  He ran the full and collected yet another marathon medal along with dozens of his run club who donned t-shirts honoring their friend with the quote on the back, "I will not just survive, I will be better than before."  Once again, I shake my head with bewilderment and an insane level of respect.  Just as I did when I first met Vince, once again, I am looking up to him.

You can follow Vince and his story on his blog at, And So It Begins Again.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Boston Plus Thirty

Thirty days to the day, work once again took me on the road.  Ironically I traveled to the home of my best marathon ever thirty calendar "page flips" after April 15th in Boston.  A bit surreal and somber to take in the scene.  I thought I'd share in pictures the makeshift memorial for the victims impacted by the 2013 Boston Marathon.






Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fifty is the New Thirty

Bruce Willis is still trying to "Die Hard," and Cindy Crawford keeps drinking from the "fountain of youth."  Both don't look or act their age, but they can "pull it off."  It's not like the creepy old guy wearing be-dazzled jeans or the older woman wearing a top meant for a 20 year old that both evoke a non-verbal "ewwww" reaction.  In high school and jr. high, I looked ten years younger than I was, and I felt cursed.  (Many) years later, I'm thankful for my youthful appearance and attribute it to genetics, running, and my slightly younger wife keeping me on my toes.  I'll get back to Bruce in a minute.

El Jefe after the race
After a marathon, I typically deal with some post partum depression. My wife and I both struggled after Boston dealing with a delayed reaction to the horrific events that unfolded after I crossed the finish line.  Numb, inability to focus on work (and school,) and perhaps a mild dose of depression ensued.  I know myself well enough to know that I need to have a plan post marathon; specifically, I normally have a race already picked out to keep the training and race adrenaline running through my veins.  Not much different than the addict looking for their next high.  I promptly signed up for a June triathlon and planned to run a half later that month.

I watched the local Cherry Creek Sneak in Denver two weeks after my "mary" and resisted the temptation to race in it so close to Boston.  My coach's plan continued to prescribe rest, mild work-outs, and cross training.  All didn't satisfy my need to hit the running "crack pipe."  I slightly rebelled and informed coach Benita I was going to run the Highlands Ranch Cinco de Mayo 15K race this last weekend.  I figured, this would give me the race "rush" I was looking for prior to my first triathlon of the season and planned half marathon in June.

There's something to be said for running a local race...a "homecourt advantage" if you will.  Last weekend was a busy race weekend in Colorado including the popular Colorado Marathon.  I was unsure Friday night if I'd race Saturday morning since I really hadn't run that much in three weeks.   I had also put 50 minutes on my feet on Friday with a modest "jog" along the local canal trail.  I hate that word (jog,) but that's what it was.  I had also had clients I entertained in town Wed and Thurs night so I was just "flat tired" come Friday night.  All the wrong variables for racing on Saturday.  Of course, I did the "alpha male" thing and proceeded to head out to the recreation center nearby for the race day registration on Saturday morning.

I had a rough idea of the course as it started and finished out of one of the local rec centers that I trained out of on occassion.  Talking to a fellow runner about the course prior to the start, she mentioned a "tough hill" around the turnaround point.  I'd later learn that it went up the Lone Tree bluffs which is where I head when I need a challenge hill training session.  I honestly wouldn't have signed up for the race if I knew this was included in the course.  I was in no shape to be racing up a hill.  This "beast" of a hill resembled the one that the legendary football player Walter Payton would run up in his off-season to build strength.

Once the gun went off, I had some semblance of a race plan thinking I'd head out around a 7:20 pace then try and pick it up after a couple of miles.  Wouldn't you know that my Garmin went to sleep right as the race started so I had no idea of my pace as we took off.  I started out with a small grouping out front.  One guy (much younger) took off.  I let him to.  I was going much faster than I'd planned, but I was running naked (without GPS.)  Early on, I was helping set the pace with the runners out front.  I clearly was not thinking straight...what am I doing here???

The younger "gazelle" was creating distance, and I had no visions of catching him.  I wanted to stay near the front of the pack.  Sizing up the runners, I didn't see too many that I recognized as the local fast runners. Either that or the "fast ones" were running the 5K starting 30 minutes later.  Surprisingly, I hung onto 2nd place for awhile, then 3rd, and eventually fourth.  All three ahead of me looked like they were in their 20's.  "Just try and hang with them" and hang onto a "top five" finish I thought to myself.  That would be a "first" for me to come in as an overall top five.  There are no asterisks on how many entrants in a race and a podium is still a podium I also thought--even if this was a smaller race.

As the hills got hillier, I realized the tough turnaround mile, the other runner mentioned was in fact the "Sweetness" (Walter Payton) hill.  "Crap!  What did I get myself into?"  At times, I felt like I wanted to walk up that bluff, but continued to run.  My opening 6:40 pace dropped to 9:15 running up that "bastard of a hill."  Insult to injury was that the teen volunteers at the top of the hill weren't handing out water; they were chatting and texting.  I had to stop briefly to hydrate for the fun descent.  I dropped below the 7 minute per mile pace flying down the hill, and had up-and-down "rollers" (hills) on the way back.

I resisted the temptation to look behind me to see if any old dudes (or young ones) were going to challenge my top five finish but I didn't look back.  I could tell my pace slowed a bit and had one last ugly hill to climb to the finish.  At this point, some of the slower 5K runners were on the course.  A couple teenage girls stopped running two across when they heard me coming.  I "threw on the brakes" and still ran into her back.  I grumbled that they shouldn't do that.  ("Grumpy old man"they probably thought.)  A 5K mother was running with her grade schooler and mom had no idea runners were coming in.  I nearly wiped the little girl out.  Sorry!  I realize this was not a "hardcore" race, but there were hardcore runners racing in it.

As I crossed the finish, I knew I held onto fourth place overall and first in my age group as the three ahead of me were in their 20's and 30's.  I was 30 seconds behind "Bo" the last few miles. Bo was 33.  We chatted after the race and congratulated each other.  He was shocked to learn my age.  I'm sure the race results looked a bit bizarre read as the ages read 29, 26, 33, and 50.  Yes, I'm 50, but I like to think I don't look like it, or run like it.  Yippee ki yay mother f....  I guess 50 is the new 30.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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