Monday, February 16, 2015

Work Hard, Play Hard

3 hours.  ...  ...  ... . ..

That is such an enormous amount of time to cover 26.2 miles.

Why does it need to be that hard to cover 26.2 miles?
My running goal (life obsession?) is to cover 26.2 in said time (less than 3 hours).
And I was oh so ready to do it in late 2014, but due to getting greedy and pressing my luck - "3 hours... that is lame.  I need to go at least 2:55", I overestimated my 45 year old body's ability to keep up with my ambitions, I injured myself, and spectacularly blew up.
And my asinine'ness has cost me a solid 2.5 months in being injured.
But it has given me a great opportunity to step back and get a little perspective on my running and my fitness in general.  
This time has also allowed me to return to the weightlifting ways of my 20's and 30's (wow did I really used to act like all of the muscleheads I see at my gym).  

During that time I learned how much I love exercising, working out, and being competitive in general.  
Whether it be running, working out, work, swimming laps in the pool... I hate losing!
Accordingly I think this is a great song to describe a sound life mentality: 

  Work Hard, Play Hard  -  Wiz Khalifa

And as I have finally seemingly put my knee injury behind me it is time to "work hard - play hard", stop ****'ing around, and start getting busy on the running front!
Time to (re)start the assault on a sub-3 hour marathon!

As always - running is so awesome!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tucson Marathon - DNF, "Hello Mr. Thompson"

So earlier today marked the 19th running of the Tucson Marathon here in beautiful Arizona US, which is also the first marathon I ever ran four year ago.

What a bitter pill to swallow today.
A big fat DNF (did not finish).  My first ever DNF.

First prior to the race the day before the whole fam went down to Tucson from Phoenix and we snapped off a few good pictures at a fun mall in Oracle AZ:

How awesome does my family look?!
Answer:  Very.

Also how about this cool on Saturday late afternoon picture:
Tucson is cool!

Then it was back to the hotel to sleep, and blah-blah-blah I got ready for the race in the morning.

Backing up a little bit though, my ~12 week buildup for this race was the best I have ever had.   Thanks to my now straight to the point really solid coach, and after previously having a solid coach as well, I had got myself in to the best running shape I had ever been in by a significant margin.  I ran a 1:25:31 in a half marathon about a month ago, an over 2 min PR which via those converter things had me projecting our to around a 2hrs 58 mins full marathon.
And I was feeling bordering on invincible (for me) and thought that *finally* a sub-3 hour marathon was in the cards.
I also joined/have been running with the Phoenix Free Soles Running Group which, along with the Sonoran Distance Project adds up to more bad ass runners than you can count.  There is always somebody around to deliver an absolute a** whupping.  Awesome.

But unfortunately, due to feeling/committing a Feeling Invincible'ish While In my mid-Forties (FIWIF - kind of like a DUI) I kept pushing my fitness luck and pressed it hard in a Turkey Trot, and then the day after the turkey trot, and.. ... I tweaked my knee and DNF'ed around mile 17.  And I knew I was doing it while I was doing it...
Why did I keep pressing it?  Ugh.  There is a fine line between pressing your training and crossing the line into injury, and obviously I did not respect it, I overran my coaches schedule and crossed the line into injury-ville..  What an idiot.
So then from last Friday through race day I didn't run, and only elliptical'ed a few days ahead of time, and held out hope that I could some how ham-and-egg it around today and still go under 3 hour.  But... no.

My race today played itself out today similar to Homer Simpson in The Simpsons in the 'Cape Fear' episode.
After the race started as soon as around 2 miles in I could feel my right knee - sore from my overpressing it at the Turkey Trot and the day after, and that it wasn't right.  And as I went through the rollers at the start of the race I knew I was screwed.
And yet I kept on pressing it and pretending that somehow things would be OK.
The Cape Fear Episode, and especially this portion of it

is one of my absolute favorites from The Simpsons, me and my old work homey at work used it often in our discussing co-workers (in this case I would be the subject of the ridicule and/or mockery).  From the video:

  • My conscience/common sense: "Ok Ted... when I say your name is Homer Thompson of Terror Lake and that you are not injured, you will say 'Hi' ". 
  • Me: "Check"
  • My conscience/common sense:  "Hello Ted, you are not injured, you can pull off a sub 3 hour, you are not injured".
  • Me:  "... ... ... ..."  (blink, blink, delusional runner) 
  • My conscience/common sense: "Remember now... "Your name is Mr. Thompson. And you are not injured."
  • Me:  "I got ya."
  • My conscience/common sense: "Hello Mr. Thompson / Braun... ... ... "
  • Me: ... ... ...
  • My conscience/common sense:  "Ugh... Now when I step down on your foot, and we all admit that you are injured and should DNF, you say ok and 'Hi' "
  • Me:  after realizing as early as mile two and denying the increasing pain mile after mile...  "I think he is taking to you (someone else)"
Bottom line - I was in denial that I could finish the race and go under 3 hours.  And again around mile 17 when my right knee was in full-throbbing mode I pulled the plug.

It really sucked... I was (am) in such good shape, yet my crappy a** right knee was not cooperating.  Didn't my right knee know that I was in way under 3 hour shape.  Obviously not.  Ugh.

Ahh well.  I am absolutely loving running with the Phoenix Free Soles and improving myself as a runner.  Revenge will be mine in spring marathon races!

Time for a Comeback for my spring marathons.  Don't doubt it!  Get outta my way as I am running a sub-three this spring - believe it!!!

Running is Awesome!

Monday, November 3, 2014

3TV 1/2 Marathon Race Report - Dirt Off My Shoulder

For those keeping score at home I have been on a multi-year journey to get under 3 hours in a full marathon.
Over recent years as I have fumbled my way along through a few injuries (more strains due to upping my mileage more than I should have) and few sub par marathons (a 3:08, a total implosion 3:3x something, and a 3:03), my journey has evolved from a journey to more of an obsession.
Along the way though I have not stopped believing (cheesy song by the appropriately named band Journey).

And over the last few months I was introduced into / found the awesome Phoenix Free Soles running group here in The Valley.  They have so many awesome runners and I have been having my a** handed to me regularly twice a week.  It is funny how receiving a regular thrashing can motivate one...  Not to mention having another great running coach who gives straight feedback and has pointed out some of the same things my prior great coach did (was laughing with old running coach about this prior the race today before he went out and set the masters course record and masters state record in the 5k).  It seems as though I like to try to cheat in extra miles into my weekly mileage (love me some junk miles) which both of them have busted me about.  I guess there are worse things I could be doing for not sticking to my schedule.

Anywho... within my current buildup to a full later this year, this 1/2 marathon would serve as a perfect opportunity to judge where my fitness is at how things look for me getting under 3 hours in a full later this year.
And things look good.
With this as a background - earlier today marked the running of the 3 TV 10k & 1/2 Marathon, and I was able to brush a little dirt off my shoulder...
(dig this song - was bopping my head to this jam prior to the race)

as I was able to set a shiny new 2-min PR, 19th overall, and 2nd in my age group in running a 1:25:31 for the 1/2 marathon (haven't uploaded the Garmin yet - having technical difficulties).  Boom.  Dirt off my shoulder.

Prior to the race saw a number of folks from the Phoenix running community so was great catching up with so many people.  Had a pic snapped off (was the only picture I had from the day as our youngest was sick so I went to the race solo) with 3 folks from my prior running crew from where we lived prior to going to Japan this last time;

A brief shout out to Cory on the right who is running 50 marathons in 50 months in all 50 States - and I believe he is still on track to have them all be BQ's - he is a machine!

Earlier in the week my coach thought I would run about the same as these two really fast ladies in our running group - which knowing them I thought would be a little rich for me, but I figured he knows what he is talking about, and so I would go out in ~6:30's and just see if I could hold it for the race.
And generally speaking it worked out that way.  I was actually a bit surprised as the last about 5 miles I was able to pick up the pace slightly (miles about 3 - 8 were a slight uphill, then that same 5 miles / road back in thus a slight downhill).  I even felt like I could have pressed slightly more and picked up maybe another 30 or seconds or so in total, but who knows, if I tried to I may have blown up (as I usually do in most races).  But are you kidding... a 2 min PR in the 1/2.  I may or may not have gone old school like ESPN's Stu Scott after I crossed the finish line and did "a little pop and lock, and.. Booyah!"

So now it is time to put the head down for the final push up to my full marathon, and somehow find . a . way to get under 3 hours.  Which given the time here, should be doable.

Running is awesome!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hypnosis 60k Ultra-Marathon Race Report - Boom Goes the Dynamite

As you get older birthday presents, and your birthday generally speaking, becomes less of an event compared to when you were young.  Instead of thinking of presents you may get and fun stuff you may get to do, it becomes another year checked off where you simply increment your age.

This year my family got me some good gifts, I got some good well wishes, and then on my birthday itself... I got to work a little over 12 hours with a 2.5 hour conference call at the end of the day sitting at work alone until around 7:30pm.  Ugh.

So how to celebrate...?  How about signing up for one of the Aravaipa Running Insomniac Night Trail Runs?  The Hypnosis Ultra-Marathon.  Is there any better (belated) birthday present to get for oneself?  I think no!
60k of fun starting at 7:00pm running through the night at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Avondale AZ.
100% pure awesomeness!!!

And I somehow managed to pull out a 4th place finish.

So anywho - prior to the race report itself, a song to set the mood.  Keeping with the 'Boom' theme, I will go with this song as it shuffled onto the iPod(s) a few times - I had to use two iPods as I was out running for 7 hours and 27 minutes - Garmin stats Here.

So to the actual race report...
The race started promptly at 7:00pm, our Girls and the Mrs. missed the start as I asked them to get band-aids (we drove up to the place separately so they wouldn't have to stay the whole time) just in case as I forgot to bring them - which in retrospect was pretty stupid to ask them to do as at the race there were multiple first aid tents and am certain they had band-aids at them.

So the race started, there were about 30 people running the 60k (there were other races as well with many more people who were not stupid enough to run 60k in the dead of summer Phoenix heat), and I settled in somewhere around 10th by my count around the first loop (Here is/was the course).
One guy passed me probably around 3 miles and I was slowly able to settle into a rhythm without someone right ahead or behind me.
Soon enough I was at the aid station out on the course and sucking down Coke, Gatorade and water.  And for whatever reason oranges and watermelon were the foods that looked good at just about every aid station stop, so I was sure to snarf down copious amounts of them at each aid station stop.
I was also doing a good job of keeping on top of my hydration throughout the race. Between these things, the food I brought & ate (Gu's and Picky Bars), and RedBull I was throwing back which I had in our cooler, I never hit any real bad lows throughout the race.  This was key.

Anywho, I was through the first "Blue Course" 10k loop, and onto the 15k "Green Course" (the 60k course consisted of running in sequence the courses:  Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue).
And while I liked the Blue Course, the Green Course did not agree with me.  Too many up downs (even small ones) throughout, and too many sections I just felt like I couldn't "flow" - was just too choppy for my liking (plus I bit it / face-planted on this course the first time around it).
Also generally speaking about the courses - where they joined up for the end of their loops (so you had to run around the same 5k every loop - Blue and Green Course) there was a decently long section which was really rocky and choppy, and you couldn't really run with any kind pace at all.  It was like a section of a twisted ankle or faceplant onto pointy rocks just waiting to happen. Oh how I hated that section each time around.
So anyway, here were a few good pics our oldest got of me at the start/finish area which each course looped back to:
Here I am doing ... ... ... ... something.

And then it was time to get some food.

Then time to look for something to drink.

Got it!

Umm...  Red Bull.

I remember commenting to the Mrs and kidlings "I feel great", after I the 2nd loop (so at around 40% done), and it was a trend which would continue.

So I just kept rolling, and I started to slowly pick people off and progress up the leaderboard.  It felt great.
And the rolling along just continued.  And I was having a great time along they way, hamming it up with other runners and the aid-station volunteers - the group of folks at the aid-station out on the course were great.  They were joking, cheering, quick to fill up my fluids, and dancing to "Baby Got Back" & other assorted songs each time I rolled through, it was awesome.  And they were there the whole time - from 7:00pm to 6:00am they said.  That is some volunteering!

I also I got to see a good sampling of the Arizona desert night wildlife.  I saw snakes (2), scorpions (too many to count), and assorted spiders.  One spider looked big enough that it could have pulled me into it's spider hole if it had went for it - especially as I was in a pretty dilapidated state when I saw him - he could have chomped on me for months.

So I just kept rolling, kept avoiding low patches due to keeping on top of fluids and food, and soon enough I was on my last loop.

I have to admit I was pretty punchy at this point, tripping more than I should have, but before I knew it I was at the out on the course aid station for the last time, getting water dumped on me, hamming it up with the great aid-station folks one last time, and then bringing it in for the last two miles.

And with about 1 mile left, for the first time - this song shuffled on:
 This is How We Do  (knocking down 60k's) 

I dig this song - total Flint MI (my hometown) song.
And I was feeling it (surprisingly as I was at like my 58th kilometer at this point) so started hammering it home for the last around mile at a decent clip.  I was in my own little white guy listing to old-school rap music world.  Great way to finish!

And then I crossed the line for one final time at about 2:27am  (as the race started at 7:00pm and my official time was 7:27:07).

After chatting with some folks for about 20 min I then made the drive home, took a shower (wow was that needed), and slept for... all of about 2 hours.  I woke up as my body was so hungry I couldn't sleep.

Anyway, just a great experience.
Time to take a few days off, slowly start back up, then get into my training block for a full marathon towards the end of the year.  Speaking of which, after a summer of long runs gonna have to start getting back to speed work - ugh.  I think I will need to ask for directions for how to find a track - at least I think that is what they call them :-)

Running is Awesome!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacation (and a little racing)

Just wrapped an awesome family vacation back to my home state of Michigan.

A whirlwind around the state going to my hometown of Flint, Up North, to Mackinac Island, and generally all over the state visiting relatives.
I/we even set foot on the University of Michigan's campus while visiting relatives.  Fortunately the feelings of stuck-up-idness and entitlement as we drove through campus quickly dissipated.

I even managed to mix in some racing into the vacation - the day we left for vacation my mom sent me an email and informed me that there was a race going on the morning we arrived.  The Atwood Stadium 5k & 10k Races.  And they staggered the times so you could race both if you wanted.  So I had her sign me up, we got in at 3:30am, and after getting the kids settled and luggage lugged got in 2 hours of sleep in the room I grew up in and then got ready to run!  

The 5k started at 7:30am, and the 10k at 8:30am for those running "The Duo" as they were calling it.
I could not have scripted a better way to start the vacation - running a 5k and then 10k back-to-back in my hometown (home neighborhood really) the morning we arrived.  Was so great going down to the stadium where I spent many a Friday night watching H.S. football games.

In spite of nill sleep and awesome leadup to the race... Not! (have not been missing any meals since my marathon a bit back and while have been logging some good miles I have been avoiding speed work like the plague), I managed to pull out a 6th in 5k, a 3rd in the 10k and a 3rd in "The Duo".  Too funny.  Side note: the dudes who were in 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the 5k didn't run the 10k - lame and weak!
The races themselves were so fun - at one point I was as far back as 10th in the 5k when people started imploding ahead of me, and as far back as 7th in the 10k before people started blowing up. 
Such great fun - here are a few pictures from as taken by Jinx'd Photography (they said ok to share via the pics on Facebook - so taking them up on).
Before the start of the 5k while a guy belted out The National Anthem.  Great.

At the start of the 5k.  The dude without a shirt on won both the 5k & 10k and the dude next to him in the navy blue tank-top took 2nd in both.  They were both cool dudes.

Start of the 10k.  Same two dudes ahead of me again.  Guy in blue tank-top perhaps could have won the 5k or 10k if he wasn't wasting energy fiddling with his headphones at the start of both races  :-)

Looks like I was sweating a lot here towards the end of the 10k.  It was a hot one, and I forgot about that MI humidity.

After the 10k a pic with our youngest.

So my times were pretty lame, but in addition to the above excuses they were both really hilly courses around my old Mott Park stomping grounds.

Then we went to Halo Burgers and took pictures at/of the Vernors mural.  So Flint!

Also snuck in a visit to my long since shut down HS and Junior HS.

These were taken right after going to the newly opened awesome downtown Flint Farmers Market and having a great breakfast (see above comment about not missing meals) while bumping into old friends and catching up on happ's.

Then it was Up North for a great time.  The highlights included our oldest taking a ton of great pictures - she is quite the budding photographer, canoeing, reading here and there two great books still not done with (this and this), going to Mackinac Island, my losing track of my mileage on a long run and putting in 30 miles (awesome in retrospect, not so much at the time...), partying too hard one night, going to The Venetian Festival, and seeing many relatives and old friends.
Everything a vacation should be...

So now on the running front it is a few weeks until a bat-s*^! crazy 60km night ultra-marathon starting at 7:00pm here in Phoenix (any time day or night in Phoenix in mid-August promises to be a scorcher), and then commencing a big training block to try (again) to get under 3:00hrs in a full marathon towards the end of the year.

 As taken by our daughter from the Round Lake drawbridge looking out towards the Big Lake side.  Awesome!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hot Stuff

The assault on a sub 3 hour full marathon continues... ...

Running for any amount of distance in Phoenix in the summer is brutal.
It is 'Hot Stuff' in Phoenix AZ in the summer:
BTW - this song is the disco jam.

Ramping up the miles lately for ultra-marathon racing season - 37 miles for the weekend with some good elevation gain on Sunday.  Saturday's 22 mile run starting at 4:00am was brutal hot towards the end of the run and I got dropped like a bad habit by a bad-ass lady trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials.  I suppose if you are going to get your ass handed to you might as well be by a bad-ass runner. 

The plan for the summer is to put in tons of base miles, try to cause some noise in an ultra-marathon later this summer (only 60km - but hey that is still a decent distance), build up a good base, and then start putting the screws to everything - speed work, tempo runs, miles per week, diet;  in preparation for hopefully a sub-3 hour full marathon towards the end of the year.

Finally here is picture from the official race photographer at the Ojai Mountains-2-Beach Full Marathon last month giving the thumbs up while I was still getting mine just prior to completely imploding and folding like a cheap suit;
I was so in control here and a sub 3 hours was pretty much a given at this point.  Ah how things can go so bad so quickly... ...  Ugh.

Total side story... that dude just behind me with the gray shirt and CHIPS sunglasses pissed me off for some reason during the race (for no reason other than his cheesy sunglasses - he was probably a normal good guy) and he totally passed me with about 1/2 mile to go and I couldn't do anything about it.  Ugh.

Anyway... as always  - Running is Awesome!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kawauchi & Voigt

A cool and fun thing from my two favorite endurance sports people...

First - Yuki Kawauchi-san's (Japan's 'Citizen Runner') results thus far in 2014 as maintained by the great Japan Running News site:
Absolutely nuts volume of racing and results.  He has raced 22 times through 6/15 already in 2014!!! There is nobody in the world who comes close to that quantity and quality of results. 

And how about the always hilarious Jens Voigt discussing his performance in the Tour of California:

How had I not stumbled across this hilarious interview previously?!?!

Interviewer:  This is your last Tour of California, you had a pretty quiet week,but you got in a breakaway today,you must feel pretty happy about that?
Jens: 'What the #*^! quiet week?!  I was suffering like a pig every day.  I was trying to go on a breakaway every day.  But it looks like I'm the most feared rider in the world!

Absolutely hilarious.

Endurance sports are made more fun to participate in and follow due to people like Kawauchi & Jens.