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.
  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W45DRy7M1no&t=2m24s


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:
     http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.jp/2014/03/the-kawauchi-counter.html
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.






Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ojai Marathon Race Report - My Ambitions as Runner

This weekend marked the running of the Ojai Clif Bar Mountains-to-Beach Marathon, and to cut right to the chase - I finished in 3:03:41.  Ugh.  Fail. 
It read 3:03:08 on the big clock at the finish line when I crossed (see below) but 3:03:41 is the official finishing time - and I didn't start the race  30 seconds before the gun went off... so go figure.



Anyway... prior to this race I thought that after it was done whether I got under 3 hours or not I would need time to step back and reflect, and think of what I wanted to get into next...
- Swimming more?
- Doing some cross-fit type of stuff?
- Ultra Marathoning?
- Back to weightlifting and grunting?
- Competitive Euchre and/or Bridge?  Side note... I only learned a few years after college that Euchre is mostly only a Midwest card game.  Great college drinking & hanging out game - the rest of the country is missing out.

But reflection time took about 5 minutes after I finished... I am going under 3:00 hours in a full!  Period.  
My running as hard as I can days are not over.  As the insightful and motivational figure from my youth Sylvester Stallone astutely observed in relation to my quest to get under 3 hours:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahts98kT_fQ
Tell 'em Rocky,  err... I mean Rambo.  I have still got a score to settle!

I *must* run under 3 hours in a full marathon!!!
And while I may not be the smartest bulb in the pack, I am one of the hardest headed and delusionally determined people going.  So I am going to listen to Rambo's advice.  I mean, he seems like a perfectly reasonable guy at this point at the end of Rambo right? 



Ok... ...
As with most all of my race reports - I need a song to set the mood.  And since I was totally jamming to this right before the race started, and I suppose since I have already stated my Ambitions as a Ridah Runner, and finally since it it is the title of this blog entry, I gotta go with

If only Tupac could have been with me from up above as I was imploding from about mile 21 on... :-)


Before I start my marginally entertaining race-report, how about looking at me pictorially go through all five of the stages of Grief and Denial immediately after the race as captured by our oldest daughter a budding photographer;

1.  Denial and Isolation
How did this happen...?
  
 2.  Anger

  
 3.  Bargaining
  I just finished the full dammit!  Gimme a few more friggin Goldfish!


  
  4.  Depression



5.  Acceptance






So on to the race report itself...

First prior to the race I had got myself into great running shape thanks to my totally kick ass Running Coach.  He did a great job of structuring my motivated but frankly aimless'ish running ways, kicked me in the ass when I needed it, and gave me sound advice throughout.  I really should have been able to pull it off based on his coaching and plans...  If only my running was up to the same level of level as his coaching...


So after riding the bus from Ventura up to Ojai CA at 4:00am I predictably went to the bathroom about 5 times, listened to a bunch of hard rock music and rap such as the aforementioned Tupac song and got myself into a worked up troublesome mood before the start.  I love getting really angry before the start of races - it takes me back to my underdog Flint MI & MSU days.
So at the start I lined up right at the front - as it is a smallish race (1,500 people) and I didn't want to have to waste tons of energy trading elbows with fellow runners at the start of the race.
I had the words of my coach ringing in my ears "I don't want to hear about you going out too fast, if you go through the first 1/2 of the race in like low 1:27's I will wring your neck" (ok he didn't say the wringing my neck part but it was implied).
So I did generally ok with those instructions, I hooked up with the 3:00 hour Pacer at around mile 7 and after listening to him talk to people it sounded like he knew the course well and knew what he was doing, so I decided to stick with him and the 3:00 hour crew.
It was good rolling from mile 7 on.  Chit chatting with a number folks with different stories of goals, plans of redemption in this race, and a general good mood & vibe.
We went through the first 1/2 in 1:28 high and it was feeling oh so easy, my confidence was building by the mile.
The one thing he did do which I think was generally the right thing, but wonder if it was for *me*, - in that he was clicking off like 6:40'ish or 6:45'ish miles as we were heading slightly downhill - he said at around the 1/2 way mark he was going to click them off a little quicker as the course got flat around mile 20 or 21 and was slight downhill until there.  And that he was going to run the steady downhills a little faster as that was a "3:00 hour effort".  And it seemed to make sense, and in reflecting I think it probably was right, but even though I trained running downhills, I didn't train for it enough.  And around my 18 my quads started to say to me "Hey dude, you are just slamming us - We weren't prepared for this, time to start shutting things down."  And so around mile 20 the 3:00 hour pacer dude started to slip away into the distance.

I don't know why I let him slip away.  I talked/talk about manning up this and that, but it seems like somehow I don't _really_ have that killer instinct.  And then around mile 22 when I realized and gave in to the fact that I wasn't going to make it, I let the wheels really fall off more than I should have.
- Was it because I went out too fast?
- Was it because I wasn't truly prepared for the quad-thrashing?
- Was it because I talk a big game but when push comes to show I fold like a cheap suit?
 Who is to say.  But in any case the wheels fell off.


Oh wait...  I just thought of a non-sequential funny typical me dumb-a** story.
I had really bad cramps in my last full marathon and realized through trial and error it was due to sweating out so much salt and losing electrolytes (I am a big sweater).  So I taped an e-cap to one of my Gu's.
And I was going to swallow it with my first Gu planned for around mile 8 (I go through 3 Gu's in a full).  But when I pulled out the Gu it wasn't there, so I pulled them all frantically out while running from the back of my shorts pocket and felt all of them for that gel e-cap but it was not there!  What a pisser I thought.  So I rolled with it.  But then when I was taking my last one around mile 18 I realized it was taped to that Gu (How did I not find it earlier! what a jackass).  So I tried to pull/rip it off of the Gu but it was not happening - I couldn't rip the tape, so I figured I would do it with my teeth.  But I broke the cap and only got down like 1/4th of it, but as the capsule was broke it tasted way nasty salty which left a taste of a small spoonful of salt in my mouth - yuck.  Fortunately an aid station with water came up finally and I could wash the nasty taste down.  What a bonehead.


Anyway back to the implosion part of my story... I started to just fade and absolutely implode when I could no longer see the 3:00 hour pacer.  Why couldn't I motivate myself?  Why was I so lame?  Why did I let it slide so much from the 3:00 hour mark? All questions which I will stew about for some time.

Eventually my implosion and weak-willed-ness mercifully came to an end and our oldest snapped off the following as I hobbled to the finish line - if you look closely you can see my face in full grimace mode.

Also here is me finishing in 3:03:08 (look at the clock!  It is actually 06 at this point - and it didn't take me 45 seconds to get from there to across that blue mat - I was slowing down at this point in the race, but not that much!) - I was handed  33 extra seconds...
You can take those 33 seconds back thank you very much  :-)




Anyway, after finishing the above 5 stages of grief and denial ensued.

Joking aside though I am way happy.  It is an 8 minute PR, and I am knocking on the door of getting under 3:00 hours.
I finished 61st overall and 7th within my age group. 

Then after the race my better half, our oldest, and myself went to the beach at Santa Barbara - cool to watch the beach volleyballers get busy, to walk the pier, and for me to drink margaritas.  Then on Monday AM we went through Santa Monica on our way home to Phoenix. 


Anyway, that is all I got.  Happy end of day Memorial Day.  So many people have done so many great things for our awesome country.  Very thankful.



Running is Awesome!



Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's Get Ready to Rumble...!!!

After years of running (around 5?) I have rounded into my best running form by a wide margin.

And now finally it is all chips in for a massive new marathon PR (Personal Record / best).  Race week is upon me...  So...
 



It seems like years, and certainly months upon months of day after day of running, dieting, running, elliptical'ing, running, swimming, running, dieting, running, lifting, and running some more.
If I don't get under 3 hours in this weekend's upcoming race I think I will completely implode.

And with a great build up block, it is all in right in front of me for the taking.  Time to taper, sleep (a lot), start getting amp'ed up during the week, and freak out about every little detail about the race.  I think I may be influencing currently being debated net neutrality proposed laws with all of my clicking reload for weather forecast updates. 

Fortunately for me getting amp'ed up will be no problem...  Some of my favorite getting amp'ed up video's / songs which I will be (over) watching this week:
  • Sammy Wanjiru & Tsegaye Kebede throwing absolute haymakers at each other at the 2010 Chicago Marathon (I have no idea how this doesn't have hundreds of thousands of views) 
  • Most every Triathlon Kona Ironman World Championship over the last 10 years on YouTube (even though I could never do one love watching people just lay it all out there).
  • MSU Fight Song / Videos.  How about This One, That One, This One, or That One!  And for motivation & fun for UofM & MSU fans alike.... This One.  All Awesome.
  • And all kinds of kick-ass & cheesy music to fire me up!  Such as:


Time to man up.