Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Memories

No, I don't mean that I'm going write about 2007 memories (that would be quite a post!), but I do want to share some of my memories of 2007. This year wasn't a big year for me in terms of running. I did do a lot of running, but after qualifying for Boston in October 2006, I promised my wife (and my body) that I'd take a year off from marathoning and run Boston in 2008. So, I didn't do a whole lot of racing, but I did run enough to stay in pretty good shape, and have some good memories.

I got to participate in a relay race at Rock Canyon Elementary School in Provo, Utah (I worked there last year). It was the teachers versus the 6th graders. I ran the third leg of the 4x100m race, the same leg I ran in high school. That brought back some good memories of my track and field days. And, we kicked the students' trash.

For the past five or six years I've done a fun run 5k in Springville, Utah. It is a huge event, part of a week long summer celebration, complete with HUGE prize drawings (like BBQ's, trampolines, bikes, etc.). My wife has done it with me a couple times, and I've brought my girls along with me last year. This year, we all did it, along with some other family members. And this was to be our year to win something. The only thing we've ever won in the years we've participated was a dirty water bottle and pen that didn't work. This year was no different as we once again went home empty-handed. Oh well, maybe next time.

A couple weeks after that race, we made the big move to Phoenix. I had to get used to running in the crazy heat and the August humidity. I ran a few 5k's after the move and joined a running club. I also got my first coaching job with one of the middle schools in the district where I work. That was a great learning experience. I am looking forward to coaching the track team in 2008.

So, even though my running wasn't as intense as other years, I still had some great memories. I am looking forward to 2008 and the awesome experiences to come. I hope you all have a happy and successful new year.

P.S. I've added a few "running partners" (blogs I read regularly) on the right. I hope that's alright with everybody. I'd like to add more, so if you're not on my list and think you ought to be, let me know, and I'll gladly add you. It's been great running with all my new RBF's this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Week in Review

This week definitely wasn't as exciting as last week. I had a good workout on Monday, an ok tempo run on Thursday, and a real tough long run this morning. I planned for a 10-miler up and back down South Mountain. I made it to 9.5, and my ankle started bugging me. I decided I'd better listen to what it was saying, so I walked the rest of the way. That was extremely frustrating. The aching reminds me a lot of the pain Topher was experiencing a couple weeks ago (Is that still bugging you, Topher? Has anything helped?).

On a brighter note, I picked up some new ASICS Gel-Nimbus' today. I usually run in the Cumulus model, but I couldn't pass up a sweet clearance deal on the older model Nimbus. They are a half-size smaller than I usually run in, but still a half-size bigger than my regular shoes. The fit still seems to be pretty good. Anybody else run in these? What do you think of them?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What a week!

This week was such a great week for me. I am on Christmas break (I'm a school psychologist in a local district, so I have three (!) weeks off for the holidays), and I am loving it. If you haven't read any of my recent posts, the weather is so perfect. I love the Arizona winter! I won the "Time for some lovin'" clock from Topher in the Runner's Lounge virtual white elephant gift exchange, and my training has been going so well. It's got me feeling very confident that I will be able to reach my goal of breaking 3 hours in Boston (less than 4 months to go!).

My week started out with some speedwork on Tuesday. I did 4x 1200 meters each at 4:30. That was really tough, but it sure felt good to run fast again, and to be able to keep it up over that distance. Wednesday wasn't a scheduled run, but since I didn't have to work, I thought I'd take my littlest daughter out for a few easy miles. Thursday was a great tempo run. That had me feeling so good that I wanted to go out on Friday, but I thought I'd save my energy for my 9 miles on Saturday. That run only made me more excited for my training. I ended up with an average pace of 7:12 per mile, and a total time of just a few seconds over my 8 on the 8th race time. I really don't know what has made the difference in the last couple weeks, but I am totally on a high, and it feels so good. I can't wait to get out there this week.

On Saturday, my older sister and her family from Las Vegas came to visit for the weekend. My older brother from north Phoenix also came for the evening. We had a lot of fun hanging out, playing at the park, having dinner, opening some early Christmas presents, and our kids had a great time together.

p.s. I hope I'm not sounding cocky or arrogant or anything, but I am just kinda proud of how my training is going, and want to share my excitement.

p.p.s. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Love Running!

Isn't it so awesome to come in from a run with that feeling? That you just love to run? I had an excellent tempo run this afternoon. It was a beautiful day, 59 degrees, lots of sunshine, Christmas break. Can't get much better than that. I did 5 miles on a route I ran a couple times about a month ago, so I was expecting to finish in approximately the same amount of time. Last time, I struggled to keep a 7:30 pace. Today's run started out with mile one at 6:33. Here are some of my thoughts throughout the rest of the run: Wow, a little too fast, better slow it down a little. Mile 2: 6:43. Still faster than planned, but I'm feeling good, I wonder if I can keep it up. Mile three: 6:46. This is getting tough, but mile four usually seems to go by faster than the others: 6:35. Awesome! One mile to go. I can do this. Whoa, this is getting tough. Almost there. Mile 5: 6:30. Yes! Oh man, that was tough.

I walked in the house with a big smile on my face. I told my wife that I just can't get over how good of a run that was. This is one of the reasons I run. It just feels so good. Well, for me, most of the time. Having a good run like this goes to show that all that hard work and training is really doing something. I am getting somewhere. I am getting better. I will reach my goals.

Don't you love to run?!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I love winter!

I never thought I'd say that. But after the run I had yesterday, I can no longer deny it. I don't know where that photo was taken, but it was definitely far, far away from Phoenix! Holy cow! That looks freezing! Beautiful... but freezing! It was 64 degrees yesterday afternoon, and I don't think it's going to get too much colder any time soon. I ran out in a t-shirt and shorts and did some speedwork. It was great! I don't mean to rub it in to those who have to deal with the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, but Topher asked for some sunshine, so I just wanted to share the love.This isn't where I ran yesterday, but this is the beautiful scenery I get to enjoy. Don't get me wrong. I moved from Utah this summer, so I know what it is like to run through the snow and cold. And this is the type of running I have been looking forward to. It certainly makes up for the 30-some odd consecutive days of 110+ degree weather we had this summer. I hope you are staying warm this winter.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Virtual White Elephant Gift

I saw this and immediately thought of Amy over at Runner's Lounge. It's the perfect solution to keep your nose from being your "running" partner. Simply strap this comfortable, light-weight, hands-free, one-size-fits-all apparatus on your noggin and off you go. Say goodbye to using your sleeve as a tissue, and say hello to the Portable Snot Squelcher!

For those not knowing what this is about, the Runner's Lounge community is having a virtual Christmas party with white elephant gifts and all.

A Christmas Greeting

This might not have a whole lot to do with running, but it sure is cute. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's a Miracle!

The Chicago Cubs needed a miracle. At least that was the premise of the 1993 film "Rookie of the Year?" Henry Rowengartner, a huge Chicago Cubs fan, has some sort of accident (I can't remember how it happened--it's been too long) and hurts his shoulder. Somehow after it healed, his shoulder became incredibly powerful and the Cubs pick him up as a pitcher. His new-found ability ends up taking the Cubs to the World Series.

That's sort of how I felt yesterday on my 8 miler. That dog bite from the 8 on the 8th must have done something to me. I felt great! I haven't felt that good on a run in a long time. Now, I'm not claiming to have become an elite runner as a result of my little accident, but I ran a different 8 mile course (a more difficult 8 mile course), and I ran over 3 minutes faster than the race last week. I even had to stop to get a rock out of my shoe.

Can I attribute such a difference in one weeks time to the effects of that dog bite? Probably not. But it makes for a more entertaining post than just saying that my cold is gone, my hamstrings are feeling great, and I've started running more this week. Plus, my run caused me to reminisce about the fun movie that I went to see with my best friend when I was a wee lad of 14.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Getting Ready for Christmas

My wife and I have been having tons of fun making cute Christmas ornaments for friends and family out of Sculpey oven-bake clay and other things. We have made Christmas trees, a snowman, colored lights, etc., but tonight I had run out of creative ideas. As I was sitting and staring at the clay, I envisioned my running shoes. I thought, "Wouldn't be be cool to have a running shoe ornament?" Of course it would! So I made this, modeled after my older, Boston-qualifying Asics.
You might not be able to see all the detail, but it's pretty sweet! I even put shoelaces on.

Back in 2003, we started a tradition of purchasing or making ornaments for each other. The year I ran my first marathon, my wife got me a ball ornament with "26.2" painted on it. Last year she made an ornament with a picture of me running the St. George Marathon when I qualified for Boston. This year, my she made me a cool ornament with my new hero on it, Steve Prefontaine.It is really just one of those picture keychains with Pre and a card with a quote inserted. Like I said, we've been having a lot of fun and getting pretty creative this holiday season.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8 on the 8th Race Report

It was a cool 53 degrees when I stepped out the door this morning to warm up for this highly anticipated event. I was alone for my warm-up jog. Well, at least I thought I was. Little did I know there was a vicious canine lurking beneath the black SUV in an upcoming driveway. The dog sprang, narrowly missing the reflective lettering on my lower pant leg. It retreated, and the moment I thought it was gone, it attacked again, this time nipping my calf. Luckily it didn't break through my pants, but it did give me a good sized bruise with some matching teeth marks. Thinking it would be fine though, I finished my warm up and headed toward the start line. I made it just in time for the 9:13 AM start.

I tried to keep a nice easy pace as I haven't run for nearly two weeks because of my cold and my sore hammies. It was pretty quiet out there on the race course. I only saw one other runner, and she was going the wrong way. The course wrapped around and through some housing developments on paved paths and horse trails, but I did have to wait for traffic at a couple locations. The race finished at the park where my wife and kids met me at the finish line (my girls actually were the finish line). We embraced, enjoyed some post-race refreshment, and walked back home.

This was a very enjoyable race. The best virtual race I have ever participated in. I finished in a time of 1:04:48, a little slower than I was hoping for, but hey, I got bit by a dog, for cryin' out loud! Thanks to Nancy for organizing a great event!

The official results are in. Pictures, awards, and everything.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cross-Country Season Review

I've been wanting to make this post for a while, but I wanted to wait for our team picture (kinda sad that we only had 3 kids make it through the season). Coaching the cross-country team was a fun and challenging experience. Great to see the kids having a fun time, frustrating to see so many of our kids not able to participate because of bad grades. Great to watch them progress, frustrating when they didn't put in the effort. The season ended with one of those great moments. The championship meet. One of our runners cut about 3 minutes of his best time, and kept an awesome pace. Another, also improved on his time and showed himself that his effort really pays off. Our final runner had a harder time, but he was all smiles after he crossed the finish line.

The boys did a great job this season. And I learned a lot of lessons about coaching and working with kids. There are some things I will do differently next time, and hopefully that will make a difference in motivating the kids to put in the effort needed to progress. Track season is just a few months away, and I can't wait!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Off to a good start...Well, not really

Well, my first week of Boston Marathon training didn't exactly go as well as I had planned. I did my first workout on Tuesday, some speedwork. I don't know if I was still sore from the Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving morning, or if it was some residual soreness from my pratfall, but my quads, and especially my hamstrings were really tight. It was really annoying. I didn't want to risk any injury on that chilly 53 degree Arizona morning (yeah, I am sort of rubbing it in. I just moved from Utah, and am really not missing running in the snow.), so I cut the workout a little short and didn't do my last 800. They are feeling a lot better now, though not 100%. Later on that evening, I started coming down with a cold that has stuck with me since then, and haven't been able to run. I was really bumbed about missing my long run this morning. So my workout consisted of cleaning the house, doing dishes, baking some oatmeal raisin cookies (Lani wasn't home to insist on putting in chocolate chips instead of raisins! Ha ha!), and making paper boats and floating them with my girls in the little puddle in our natural, Arizona desert, landscaped backyard.