Thursday, May 29, 2008

Running in the AZ Heat

I never considered myself a heavy sweater. That is until I moved to Phoenix last summer. I don't recommend a move to Phoenix in the middle of June. By August, we were starting to wonder if we made a mistake moving here. We ended up having over 30 consecutive days of 110+ temps. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the heat. I'd take 100+ temperatures over below freezing temperatures any day.

Here are a few things I've learned to help with the heat:

1. Your body adapts to the heat. At first, running in super hot temps was utterly miserable. I am too addicted to quit, so I kept going anyways, and was able to enjoy it before too long (even though I'd come home dripping with sweat).

2. I am capable of getting up super early to run. I like sleeping in as much as the next guy, but when it's already in the 80s and 90s by 7 AM, getting up at 5 (or earlier) is much more motivating.

3. Always have plenty of fluids available. When I lived in Utah, I never took water or Gatorade with me unless I was going to be gone for more than an hour. In Phoenix, I needed it on runs lasting about 30 minutes.

4. Misery loves company. I started running with a group last summer, and even though the heat was awful, we had a great time socializing.

5. Only run in moisture-wicking gear. Duh.

6. Do part of your workout indoors. I coached cross-country and track at the middle school this year. It was much safer to keep the kids indoors for stretching, warm-up and cool-down. That way the kids were out of the heat as much as possible and had plenty of water available.

7. Possibly the most important tip I can give you is this: Wear a headband! They are very fashionable ;-) and extremely functional.

The heat is not something we need to fear. If we approach it wisely and are prepared, we can have a very successful and enjoyable summer.

This post is part of the Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday, and can also be found in the Runner's Lounge Know-How section of their online community website.

Calling all creative minds! Contest!

I love running bloggers! They are so creative and witty and clever and fun. I need your help. Lani and I recently purchased a used car, and it really needs a name. It is a 2007 Chevy HHR. It's a pretty sweet ride, but saying "Hop into the HHR, girls" or "I'm gonna take the HHR" is kinda cumbersome and awkward to say. HHR? What is that? I know what Chevy says it means (Heritage High Roof - Lame!), but we want a real name.

So this car has the initials HHR, and we need some help coming up with a fun name for him or her. We want YOU to tell us what those letters stand for--first, middle, and last name. Lani is posting about this little contest on her blog, and after the deadline of 10:00 p.m. (AZ time) on Sunday, June 1, she and I will go through the entries, pick a winner, and they'll get some kind of prize (to be determined). Unfortunately, the prize won't be a sweet bike or anything fancy like that, but it'll be something you might like. So get creative and post a comment below. Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mile attempt #4 and other stuff

Today's attempt was sort of spontaneous because my running schedule was off with the holiday on Monday. I enjoyed a nice easy run on Monday without having to get up early before work. I've been doing my mile attempts on Tuesdays, so I thought I'd do it on Thursday this week. But last night, I felt like I really wanted to run. So I went out today after my wife got home from her run. I did my mile warm-up out to the start and took off. My first quarter mile was right on pace, but I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it up all the way, so I slowed down a smidge and was at 2:39 at the half. Apparently I slowed down another smidge or two because I ended up with a 5:29. I was pretty surprised with that time because I felt like I was going faster and pushing harder than I did last time. I blame it on my workout from last Saturday. I did three 1-mile repeats at 6:00 pace because I have a 5k coming up on June 7th, and thought I ought to get some speedwork geared toward that. I guess I can't improve every time.

Stay tuned for attempt #5.

Wow, I just looked at that paragraph and realized how boring it is! But, I'm too lazy to go back and rewrite it. I will share some other random thoughts, though.

1. Lani and I will both be doing the above-mentioned 5k on the 7th. This is a run we have been doing every summer for the last 6 years or so. It's become sort of a tradition. I've done it every year, and Lani has done it 3 or 4 times. She hopes to really see what she can do. I think her best 5k is about 33 minutes, but that was when she wasn't the runner she is today. I think she'll be closer to 27 minutes. Expect to see a race report from her early June. They also have tons of big prizes randomly given away after the race. We've never won anything, so cross your fingers for us.

2. I've been seeing a lot about the USATF Stretch Study lately, and can't decide if I want to do it or not. I read about it last summer, and I still have the same hesitations now. I would really like to participate, but I am afraid that I'll be put into the stretching group, which would require me to stretch prior to a run. I never stretch before a run, and I am afraid of what might happen. The purpose of the study, after all, is to look at the rate of injury between the stretching and the non-stretching group. What do you think about it?

3. I've only received one response to my solicitation to start a running blogging group to Move a Million Miles for Ryan Hall. It's just a simple way to show support for Ryan as he prepares for the Olympic Marathon. All you have to do is log your total weekly miles on the website. If anyone is interested in doing it with me and Shilingi-Moja, just post a comment.

4. We are looking forward to our summer. School is almost out (Friday is my last day before summer vacation) and I am definitely looking forward to some time off from work and more time to be with my family (and more time to run, too). In addition to the 5k on the 7th, I'm also planning on a 10 mile race on the 14th. Lani and I will also be doing a 10k on the 4th of July. Should be a lot of fun.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Get movin'!

Move A Million Miles to support Ryan Hall in his quest for Olympic Marathon Gold in Beijing
I was amazed watching the coverage of the men's Olympic Trials Marathon last October. Those guys can really move! Since then, I have tried to keep up with what is going on with the U.S. marathoners. About a week ago, I read a post from Shilingi-Moja about a movement to support Ryan Hall as he prepares for the Olympics. It is not a fundraiser or anything, just a way to show some support and encourage people to live a more active lifestyle. I thought it was pretty cool, and signed up. The goal is to Move a Million Miles by means of any human-powered activity (e.g., running, biking, swimming, walking, etc.) before the start of the Olympic Marathon on August 24th.

I got an email this week saying that there are currently over 1600 participants covering over 200,000 miles. As of today, every participant would need to move 5 miles per day to reach that goal. Not too bad, but I sure don't run 5 miles a day every single day. Needless to say, more participants are needed. So, click the link, sign up and start logging you miles and support Ryan Hall and the rest of the U.S. Olympic team.

If anyone is interested, there is an option to report miles as a group. Maybe we can start a group of running bloggers. Post a comment and we can come up with a group name. Pass the word along, and let's start adding up the miles.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mile attempt #3

I've got good news and bad news for todays attempt at the 5-minute mile. Let's start with the bad news. There was no wind this morning. Nothing whatsoever to push me from behind and give me the boost I got last week. Here's the good news: There was no wind, and I still beat my time from last week. By one second. That's an all-time PR for me. That came somewhat as a surprise because I was really feeling like I was going much slower than last time, but it boosted my confidence that I'll reach this goal sooner than later.

Nitmos asked what I was doing to increase my speed, so here is a brief synopsis of my training. Until last Thursday, I hadn't done anything specific to train for my mile besides going out and running the mile as fast as I could. I decided to do a little interval session this week, and I feel it made a big difference. I ran four 400m repeats in 1:15. That's the pace I need to do per quarter mile for a 5-minute mile. Let me tell you, that was so hard. As I have been focusing on the marathon for the last 6+ months, I really had no idea how fast that was. So for the first interval, I just ran as hard as I could (knowing I had at least 3 more to do). I did that one in 1:07. Much faster than I wanted to go. I was able to reign it in for the next three, running 1:13, 1:12, and 1:14. After that, I couldn't do any more. I think I will do this workout again. I'm also thinking of doing some 800m and mile repeats in the coming weeks. Anybody have any suggestions for other workouts that will help improve my mile time? I'll definitely keep you updated on my progress.

Stay tuned for attempt #4.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Huh... I think now I REALLY get it

By Lani

Last week I was feeling less than ideal. I was tired, cranky, and really low on energy. My tendency toward hypoglycemia was kicking it up a notch or two. I wondered to myself... what is the deal?! Why do I feel so yucky? Yesterday morning I think I figured it out.

Hello?!? I hadn't been running!

Until yesterday, the last time I had been running was Monday, May 5. Wednesday I couldn't pry myself out of bed. Friday I had to babysit a friend's baby early in the morning. Then last Monday I was in Colorado for a friend's wedding (check out the red rocks at Red Rocks!). I guess sometimes you don't realize how great something is until it's gone, eh? No wonder people say that all the time.

Sheesh... lo and behold... Yesterday morning, though I was crazy tired and didn't really want to get up, I did, and, when I got back from my run, I felt AWESOME!! My energy was back. Life was great! I thought... huh... maybe I'll keep this running thing up.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mile attempt #2

I had been debating whether or not do run a different mile route to avoid the dogs at the start. When I walked out the door, my mind was immediately made up for me. There was a pretty strong breeze, so I thought I'd take advantage of the wind, and run a stretch of road with the wind at my back. Maybe it was cheating, but I'm still in training, so I'm not too concerned about it.

As soon as I started, I could tell that the wind was helping, but by the half, it seemed to have eased up a bit. I was pleased that I was able to push it harder toward the end of the mile. Last week, I was really struggling, but today was a lot smoother.

I finished with a time of 5:26, tying my all-time best. That's 10 seconds faster than last week. So, by my calculation, if I cut of 10 seconds per week, I'll be under 5 minutes within three weeks. Give me another 6 or 7 and I'll be giving Alan Webb a run for his money. Not bad, huh? Just pray for increasingly stronger winds. ;-)

Stay tuned for attempt #3.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

10k on the 10th of May

I love the taste of PR in the morning. I knew I was in great shape, and didn't feel my previous PR for the 10k stood a chance. So, with Lani going out of town for the weekend, I needed to get my race in a little early. So I mapped out my course and toed the line on Thursday morning (hope you don't mind the head start, Nancy).

This virtual race was pretty uneventful. No ravenous dogs, I didn't have my sweetheart to shuffle with. And since I was out the door before my girls were up & at 'em, I wasn't even able to get any cute pictures with them.

But, I sure had an awesome run! It was a beautiful morning--66 degrees, clear skies, only a slight breeze. I headed out through the neighborhood, through the new housing development, through the older, less developed neighborhood, around a few cotton fields, along a little canal and back to my neighborhood.

That previous PR? Destroyed it. By a minute and 10 seconds! Official time was 40:44. I was feeling amazing! I felt like I won a race. At least that's how I described my PR to Lani. I don't enter races because I think I can win, I enter races because I'm competitive with myself. So to get this PR was like winning a race. What a feeling!

So, this was on Thursday. The girls and I took Lani to the airport this morning, and when we got home, I wanted to take them out and be a part of the 10k on the (actual) 10th. I knew I wouldn't be as fast as I was on Thursday, but I wanted to see what I could do. We basically did the same course (only slightly modified to stay away from the busy road), which is now known as the Princess 10K course (because our jogging stroller is not just any stroller, it is a carriage for my two little princesses). We finished in a time of 45:44. Not too shabby.

I don't know if this is allowed (I'll have to let race director Nancy make the final decision on this), but I had such a great time, I'd like to enter this race twice. One for myself, and the other in the stroller division. I'll even throw in some fun headband pictures with my girls from after the race. Thanks again, Nancy, for a great race!

*UPDATE* Race results are in, and I am officially a Legend of the Loincloth.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mile attempt #1

I don't know how many attempts it will take, but it's got to start somewhere, right? I feel like this is one of those shoot-for-the-stars/ reach-for-the-impossible kind of goals. As I mentioned on Monday, Tuesday was to be the first National Run A Mile Day (I hope you got your mile in), and I was going to take my first step toward the sub-5 minute mile mark. My goal for today was to run around 5:30.

I got up early Tuesday morning, got ready and headed out. My course was a mile long block near my house. I did about a 9 minute warm-up, and then got ready to start. Just as I started, three relatively large dogs ran from a nearby doorstep barking playfully. I was very pleased (I've had my fill of dogs chasing me during a run) that they obeyed me when I told them to "Go on home!" Once they got back into the yard, I started again without any problems.

I had measured out my quarter mile splits online, but I was a little confused at the first split which was about 14 seconds slow. This threw me off and the next (correct) split was 18 seconds fast. My last 2 splits were just a few seconds slower than hoped for, and I ended up with a time of 5:36 for the mile.

This was a tough run, and there will be a lot of work necessary to reach my goal. But, I know I'll get it! Two things that I thought will help me (beyond correct splits) will be to get a good nights sleep and get some good fuel prior to the run. Late nights, early mornings, and nothing but a granola bar pre-run probably don't lead to optimal performance.

Stay tuned for attempt #2.

Monday, May 5, 2008

National Run A Mile Day

May 6th, 2008 is the very first National Run A Mile Day. It marks the 54th anniversary of Roger Bannister's running of the first sub-4-minute mile. The website doesn't have a whole lot of information, but I imagine that it's purpose is to inspire and motivate people to get up and exercise and live a more healthy lifestyle. In celebration of this event, I plan to begin my quest for a sub-5-minute mile. My fastest ever was 5:26 about 8 years ago. My fastest recent mile was a 5:36, so I believe that I can reach that mark (probably not tomorrow, but in the near future). It would be awesome if all of you got out there and ran a mile (or dedicated one of your miles) to celebrate this inaugural event. I'll be sure to let you know how my mile goes.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Lessons Learned, Part II

When I wrote my previous post of things I learned in Boston last week, I really wanted to come up with 26 items, but since it was getting late when I posted, Lani encouraged me to keep it to "an even ten." So without further ado, here are a few more.

11. The crowd was simply amazing! Don't let yourself tune it out. Soak it up. Let it energize you.

12. Take an early bus. I got to Boston Common about 6:15, and didn't have to wait in line either at the port-a-potties or to get on the bus.

13. Bring warm clothes to Hopkinton. It's pretty chilly at 7 AM. Although I had pants, a long sleeve shirt and my sweet Boston Marathon jacket, I was wishing I had a sweatshirt or something extra to wear.

14. Bring sunscreen. It was a beautiful day in New England. By the time I finished, my face, arms and neck were pretty red.

15. Give high 5s. I guess this is related to #11, but it was fun to see the kids faces light up when I reached my hand out to theirs.

16. Put your name on your shirt. Again, this is related to #11. This was probably the smartest thing I could have done. Think of something unique. "Ax" is definitely a little cooler than "Reid." The spectators definitely got into it.

17. A simple left turn can mean so much. That turn from Hereford St onto Boylston was amazing. Spectators were lined up probably 5 or 6 deep. The sound was deafening. You can see the finish and you know you're gonna make it. This guy describes it perfectly.

18. No matter how much you're hurting, you always have something left for the final push to the finish. This is something I've always believed. This race reminded me of that.

19. It's hard to hold back at the beginning. Anyone giving advice for Boston will tell you to take things easy the first few miles (which are downhill) and save it for later in the race. I think I did a pretty good job, but could have kept it a little slower.

20. Don't worry about time. This is Boston; enjoy the experience and have a good time. Although I didn't make the time I was hoping for, I had a great time.

21. Keep your eyes up. New England is such a beautiful region of the country. I realized, from looking at pictures from the race, I totally missed out on a lot of the scenery.

22. My experience is worth a lot more than a few buck on ebay. I was wishing I had picked up some more souvenirs, so I was checking it out and I found people selling their finisher's medals. Isn't that ridiculous?! I'm not the only one who feels this way.

23. Make a friend in Hopkinton. It'll ease your nerves and help time go by more quickly.

24. Co-workers will think you're awesome. When I went back to work, countless people came to congratulate me. I was even asked to share my experience with the 5th grade classes who were talking about drugs and how I wouldn't have been able to do what I did if I had been using drugs.

25. Kids at school think it's cool. A school psychologist is not a real high profile position in my school. But after my visit with the 5th graders, I've gotten a lot more hi's, waves, and smiles of recognition.

26. Be prepared for a never-ending high. It's been almost 2 weeks, and I still can't stop thinking about it.

26.2. Virtual friends are awesome! I felt tons of support and encouragement from all of you out there. Thanks for reading my blog and running with me.