Thursday, July 31, 2008

What have I done?

And what am I doing?

This week's Take It & Run Thursday at the Runner's Lounge provoked some self-examination of what I have accomplished this year and my goals for the rest of the year.

This last year, I haven't been able to much racing because I had to save my money for our trip to Boston back in April, but that it perfectly fine. I would not have traded that experience for any amount of racing. The Boston Marathon was something I have wanted to do since I first started considering running marathons just over 4 years ago. Running that marathon was such an incredible experience. None of my other marathons can come close to comparing. This was definitely the highlight of my year so far. As of right now, there are no other marathon plans in the very near future, but I am looking for a good one to run this winter. If you know of any good ones run on a Saturday in the southwest, please let me know.

After Boston, I didn't really have any plans or other races in mind, but I wanted to work on my speed in the mile. This idea actually started last September when I watched the film Without Limits for the first time. Inspired by the dedication and drive of Steve Prefontaine, I decided I'd like to break 5 minutes in the mile. This summer I have been seriously working on it, and I am getting very close. You can follow my progress in the sidebar of my blog. Just a couple weeks ago, I came across an organized 1 Mile Race in Tucson, AZ at the end of August. I am really looking forward to testing myself against other runners.

With school starting next week, I am looking forward to coaching the cross-country and track teams at the middle school in the district where I work. Now that I have some coaching experience under my belt, I think this year will be a lot better than last year. Hopefully, I'll be able to pass on some of my knowledge and motivate the kids to have a great season (and hopefully, we'll have more kids come out!).

What to expect for the rest of the year:
- A lot of speed work. I will be breaking that 5 minute barrier in the near future. I hope to build up some more endurance with that speed to then improve my 5k and 10k times.
- Increase my mileage as fall approaches. I would really like to train for a marathon this winter and shoot for a PR. Who knows, maybe with the speed I have built up, a sub-3 hour marathon is possible.

I am really looking forward to my future in running. Working on my speed has been a fun change, and it has been very exciting to see the progress I have made. Achieving goals is extremely motivating. I can't wait to see what else I am capable of.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fun with iMovie

My daughters love to have races around the couches in our living room. As any running father would do, I've properly instructed them in many of the aspects of running and racing. Below, you'll see the product of my training with them, a quality production made on my MacBook's iMovie program.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mile attempt #9

As I was going to bed last night, I was thinking about what I'd like my splits to look like for this morning's attempt. I was planning to run under 5:10, three seconds faster than last time, so I was manipulating the split times in my mind to try to figure out the ideal strategy. I always start out faster than I should, so I was hoping to run the lap in about 1:17. That should allow me to run the second lap in about the same time. I could then allow myself to slow down a second or two for the third lap, and then finish strong with a split of about 1:14. So, when I got up this morning, I was excited to get out to the track and give it a shot.

Remember how I said I always start out to fast? Well, that didn't change today. I ran the first lap in 1:14. I was pretty frustrated with myself because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep that pace up, and had to slow down. Although the second lap was quite a bit slower (1:21), I was only a second off of where I wanted to be at the half. Unfortunately, I was probably a lot more tired that I would have been if I had kept a more even pace, and I did the third lap in 1:22. I'm discovering that I have a decent kick because over my last several attempts, I have been able to consistently, increase the pace. My final split was 1:13. I was definitely pleased that, as fast as the first lap was, my last lap was faster.

So, what do you get when you add up those splits? A new PR, that's what! Final time... 5:10. Exactly what I was aiming for today. Even though I wasn't able to follow my "ideal strategy," I was still able to obtain the desired result.

Stay tuned for attempt #10.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Running talk at church

I think a lot of you already know that I'm a member of the LDS church. For those who are not familiar with this church, we do not have any paid preachers or anything like that. Instead, for every Sunday meeting two or three members of the congregation are asked to prepare a talk beforehand to share with the rest of the ward. Yesterday, Lani and I had a turn to share our thoughts. I figured that since a major part of my talk was about part of my running experience, I'd share it with you. It's kind of long, but I think some of us may be able to relate in one way or another.

We were asked to base our remarks on Matthew 6:24, which says:
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Mammon derives from an Aramaic word for "riches," but I think this could also be translated to worldly possessions and things that often come with them, such as pride, power and prestige. A prophet from the Book of Mormon, named Moroni, describes the effects wealth and pride had on his people:
"... Ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel... For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted... Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not." (Mormon 8:36-37,38)
God has placed such importance on serving him that he made it his first commandment:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to [graven images], nor serve them..." (Exodus 20:3,5)

We may not overtly worship idols or graven images as many did in Old Testament times, but we can often let things take priority over worshiping and serving God and building his kingdom. Other types of gods include riches, material possessions such as cars, homes, and clothing. There are also intangible things like degrees and titles, or popularity or the "perfect body." Addictions, not just to drugs but to less harmful things like the internet, video games, or sports.

Obviously running is an important part in my life. It wasn't so long ago that it may have held too much importance. I could get up at 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday to go for a run, but I had a hard time getting myself up at 6:30 to read my scriptures before work. I could feel myself drifting farther from God. It was harder to feel his spirit. Admittedly, running had become a god for me. I was serving mammon by following my own self-interests.

When we moved to Arizona last summer, we were coming to a new job with a pretty nice salary, but when I got my first paycheck, we realized that things weren't going to be as comfortable as we thought. It was actually going to be really tight. Through many prayers we received the assurance that God would take care of us if we did our part. We felt our job was to reach out and befriend our neighbors. We were real excited to do this, and we knew that if we did, God would take care of us and provide a way for our temporal need to be met. I knew I needed to change some things about myself and rearrange my priorities in order to be worthy of the promised blessings.

One Sunday morning as I was reading in the book used for the lessons in one of our church meetings, I read the lesson for that afternoon, entitled "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me." Things started jumping out at me like: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21), and "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33), "these things" referring to food, clothing and basic temporal needs. It wasn't long before I realized what running had become. I knew where my heart was, and I knew I needed to change my priorities, and that if I did so, God would bless me and my family for it. That morning, I made the commitment to myself and to God that I would read my scriptures every day before I went running.

I can tell you that blessings have followed. Personally, I feel more in tune with the spirit of God and much closer to him, and that I am better living up to what he expects of me. We have been able to spend time with our neighbors and get to know them. We have also been tremendously blessed financially. We received checks at very unexpected times (allowing us to make our trip for the Boston Marathon), and I was able to get a very nice raise.

I have truly seen Gods blessings in my life. He has kept his promises. I know I am far from perfect, and that reading in the scriptures every day doesn't make me more righteous than anyone else, but I do feel that it has made a difference in my life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Perfect Mile

Knowing that I am training for a sub-5-minute mile, Nitmos recommended that I read The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb. I picked it up at the library last Friday, and devoured it. I loved it so much, I had to write about it. Don't worry, no spoilers.

The book details the history of three remarkable runners, all with the same goal of being the first to break the 4-minute barrier for the mile. The American Wes Santee, the Australian John Landy, and the Englishman Roger Bannister all set out to reach this goal that many believed impossible.

The story begins with the athletes qualifying for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Each athlete faced challenges and struggles at and prior to the Games, which in turn prompted their decision to be the first to break the barrier. Over the course of the next two years, each would train relentlessly and make several attempts at breaking the barrier. But only one could be the first. And that long-anticipated day finally came in the spring of 1954.

As I am training for a similar barrier, I was intrigued and the descriptions of their training. Santee trained with his University of Kansas track team, Landy trained through the night in Australia, and Bannister juggled his training with medical school. Each showed great promise and repeatedly demonstrated that they had the potential to reach their goal. Reading about how they trained and broke through mental barriers en route to the time barrier gave me new ideas for my own training.

This book gripped me for many reasons. 1) I ran track in high school, and I can remember very well the anticipation and adrenaline of my races. I was able to put myself on the track beside them and re-experience that rush of adrenaline with each athlete's races, aided by the eloquent writing of the author. 2) I am training for my own mile race next month. These stories will stick with me and run through my mind as I train for and run that race. 3) I am currently striving to break my own barrier of 5 minutes. Although I would only be about 3 quarters of the way through the mile by the time they finished, I feel like I can relate to their experiences and attempts. I understand how it feels to have setbacks, and I know the excitement that comes with progress. I hope I can experience the elation of breaking my barrier as well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My crafty wife

I love my wife. Lani is the best. She's beautiful, intelligent, insightful, motivating, supportive, creative, and a great mom. Add the fact that she's a runner, and she's a pretty sweet catch.

We recently celebrated our 7th anniversary (well, we actually haven't done anything yet), and she had the opportunity to show off some of her mad sewing skills and creativity. We have talked about doing something with my marathon medals besides storing them in a box in the closet. Yesterday, I remembered seeing what Nic's wife made him for Christmas, and we decided to do something similar. Later in the evening she went to work on the race shirt I got from our 10k on the 4th of July (which I still need to report on). The shirt is a medium, but looks more like an extra large. We cut off the sleeves and a strip from the sides and Lani sewed it all up, and Voila! I have a made-with-love-shirt that I probably wouldn't have been able to wear otherwise. Thanks Lani!!
And here's a close up of the shadow box:
Left to right: Park City, 2004; St. George, 2004; Salt Lake City, 2005; Park City, 2005, St. George, 2006; Boston, 2008


by Lani

Will you all burn me at the stake if I confess to you that I'm not a fan of Asics? Not that I have anything against the company, mind you. I think the phrase their company name came from--"Anima Sana in Corpore Sano" (sound mind, sound body)--is way cool. Reid tells me Asics are, by far, the most popular brand of running shoe. He swears by the Asics GEL-Cumulus. I wish I could like Asics. "Real" runners wear Asics, right? We even bought me a pair of Asics (different model than Reid's) several months ago, but they weren't in my possession for long. After a few days of deliberation, I finally accepted that I just didn't like the feel of them and went back to my old shoes.

Yesterday, we hit Sports Authority with a coupon 'cause I decided it really was time to retire the Sauconys I'd been wearing for far too long (plus we decided they could be my anniversary present from Reid...7 years!). I thought I'd go ahead and give Reid's beloved GEL-Cumulus a chance (even though they were pricey). I tried a few different brands, but, when push came to shove, my feet just preferred Sauconys. Even the lowest model Saucony felt more comfortable to me than the GEL-Cumulus. In the end, I came away with a pair of clearance Saucony Hurricanes for about $40 (originally $125). Love a good deal! Here they are next to their retired cousins...I took them out for their virgin run this morning. Verdict... I'm definitely a Saucony girl. And I'm okay with that.

How about you? Take our poll and show us who's boss. :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mile attempt #8

Coming off my last attempt and interval workout, I was feeling pretty confident that I would be coming home with a new PR. I even told Lani to expect that when I got back. She told me she was. After a 3/4 mile warm up and some stretching, I was on my way. I started out at what I thought was a comfortable pace. That thought ended when my 20 second timer beeped several strides after the first 100m. After one lap, my time was 1:15. Wow! I was feeling good, but thought I'd better slow it down a tad. Second lap, I definitely slowed it down. Maybe a little too much. My time for that lap was 1:23, which still had me 2 seconds under my goal time of 5:20. My third lap was also a 1:23, which put me 1 second over. But knowing I was able to run a 1:16 final lap last week, I was still confident I'd get a new PR. I started to pick up the pace, but didn't seem to be making up any ground over the first half, so I gave it all I had for the last 200m. My final lap split was 1:12. Total mile time... 5:13! 8 seconds faster than last week! Exhausted as I was, it was definitely an incredible feeling. I'm getting so close.

My interval workouts are definitely paying off. I'll probably try some 800m repeats this week keeping them around 2:30. I should be in pretty good shape if I can do 3 or 4 of those. Hopefully I'll see as much benefit as I did from my last interval session.

Stay tuned for attempt #9.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mile attempt #7

I just got back from a tough interval workout and thought it was about time to write about my 7th mile attempt. We got home from Utah Saturday night, and I wanted to take advantage of the decrease in elevation as soon as possible (more than a 4000 foot difference). So I headed over to the track Tuesday morning. I managed to follow my own recommendations from my previous attempt, so things went a lot better than last time.

1. Make sure my warm-up is closer to 1 mile than 3.
I drove to the track instead of running the 3 miles, did a half mile warm-up, and felt a lot fresher when it was time to get going.

2. Go earlier in the morning before it gets too hot.
This was a little harder to do in Phoenix. I forgot how quickly things heat up here. I got to the track just after 7 AM and it was already 91 degrees.

3. Stick to the game plan - 1:20 quarters.
I made use of the "interval timer" mode on my watch, and set it to beep every 20 seconds, which is the amount of time it should take to go 100m to stay on pace for a 5:20 mile.

4. Don't stay up so late watching 24.
Well, I didn't stay up late watching 24. It was The Office, our new obsession. Hilarious!

My right knee has been a little sore since my long run with my brother-in-law at Bear Lake, so I stretched a little before my run and had no problems with it. I started out being exactly where I wanted to be when my timer beeped for the entire first lap, clocking a time of 1:20. Beeps every 20 seconds makes it really easy to see when I am starting to fall behind, and the second and third laps made it clear that I needed to pick up the pace. After 3 laps, my time was 4:05, meaning that if I was going to make my goal of 5:20, I would need to run a 1:15 final 400m (the pace I need for my ultimate goal of 5 minutes). I crossed the finish line, looked down at my watch, and let out a loud "Yes!" 5:21. A new PR by 4 whoppin' seconds! I'm getting closer, and I can see myself getting it soon. Especially if I focus my workouts more specifically on the mile.

So, today I ran 5x400m intervals. My goal was to do them at 1:10 each. Here are my splits:

Very encouraging. I was exhausted, but very pleased. More workouts like this is what I need to get there.

Stay tuned for mile attempt #8.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hey, it's good to be back home again

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive. We returned home from our long vacation to Utah last Saturday night. We had a great time visiting with family. Here are some of the highlights:
Snow on the drive up.

The Art City Days 5k with Lani.

Prepping the deck for outdoor carpet with my father-in-law.

Beautiful views if the LDS Timpanogos Temple from my brother-in-law's house. Click here for more info about LDS temples.

Roasting s'mores. A frequent occurrence at my in-laws'.

Doggy family reunions. (Left to right: Fenway, Boston's brother; Jack, his dad; Boston, himself; Jill, his mama; and Chip, his other brother)

The Art City Days Carnival.

Visiting my sister and niece in Salt Lake.

The family's alternative cooking experiment.

Family reunion at Bear Lake.

Visiting my parents in Idaho.

And fireworks, of course.

I had some great runs and races while there. I've reported on most of them already, but I still have a race report for the Fourth of July to write. That will be coming shortly. My last three runs have been in three different states, and the previous one was a long run with my brother-in-law stretching across the Idaho-Utah border. I feel well traveled but am very glad to be home.

Preview of posts to come:
-Race report for the Provo Freedom Festival 10k
-Mile attempt #7

Hopefully I'll be able to get those up very soon.