Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Run race report

We got to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our family in Utah, and BRRR was it cold. A big winter storm blew through. It didn't leave much snow, but it left the coldest temperatures I've ever experienced. We had a great trip, but I am glad to be home and out of the cold and snow (which we hit on the way home)!

I met up with my speedy brother-in-law in the 10 degree (or less) weather for the International Thanksgiving Day run in Orem. I don't think I've ever run in that cold of temperature, even when I lived in Utah. After a good warm up (not sure you can call it that if you're still freezing!), we headed back inside to stay warm until the start. By the start of the race, I was ready to get the suffering over with. I had sort of given up the hope of winning a pie (2nd place age group award), because of the cold and all my extra layers. My main goal was to go under 25 minutes, but that would be in question as well.

I also forgot to pack my watch for this trip, so I had to just run this race by feel. After a quick jump off the starting line, I settled into what I thought was a pretty good pace. I felt a little slow all bundled up with a scarf over my face, two jackets and long pants, but that was ok. I hit the first mile marker really wishing I could check my split, but oh well. I just focused on the group ahead of me and gradually made my way toward them. I eventually caught that group, but another small group caught me. By about 3.5 miles, though, I managed to catch all but one of them. I thought I might be able to catch another couple in the final stretch, but their final kick matched mine. As I approached the finish, I could still see 24:something on the clock. My face was a little frozen, and my eyes too blurry to make out how much time I had before 25. Just as I came close enough to focus, it turned to 25, and six seconds later, I crossed the line. So close.

Official stats:
Time: 25:06
Overall place: 22nd
Age group: 1st
Age group award: Turkey! I guess Christmas dinner is covered. :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Growing, Glowing, and Going: Slacker

The latest in my wife's exercise and pregnancy posts where she discusses the discomfort of a growing belly and her transition to walking as opposed to running, a reminder of how important exercise is for the fetus and mommy, as well as a little bit about chocolate. Click the link below to read the full post.

Growing, Glowing, and Going: Slacker

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grand Canyon Marathon Race Report

I've been deceived! The map and elevation chart made this marathon look tough, but they did not do this course justice! This thing was by far the hardest marathon I have ever completed. I'm just happy I was able to complete it.

I started out running with a buddy of mine who had similar training times as me. We were sticking to our plan of a 7:45 average pace. That was supposed to be completely manageable considering the training I've put in. But by about mile 10, I could tell the elevation (7000 ft.) was really affecting me, and had to slow it up a bit, and my buddy took off. He was cruising. I managed the next 10 miles running around 8-8:30 minutes per mile, and then slipping to 9-ish. At mile 20 there was supposed to be a pretty big hill lasting a little over 2 miles. That was a lie! That hill seemed to never ended until mile 25. I was forced to walk for several minutes during each of those miles, and was putting in 11-12 minute miles. It was awful. I've never had to do that before. Luckily the last mile was mostly down hill, and I finished with a 10:40 mile. My official time was exactly 3:59, and I finished 10th overall.

This was my first time ever to the Grand Canyon, and it was amazing. Even though this race was incredibly tough, the views were even more incredible--almost making the killer course worth it. I definitely have plans to go back to the Grand Canyon, but I don't think I'll be running this marathon again. Maybe just the half. :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Growing, Glowing, and Going: Randomness

So, if you've missed the news, my wife and I are expecting our fourth kiddo in February. She was just getting into running when she became pregnant with our last one, and quickly came to learn the many amazing benefits of staying fit during pregnancy. Over at her Birth Faith blog, she is starting a series entitled "Growing, Glowing and Going" relating her experiences of running through this pregnancy. Here's a taste. I'm going to make you click over for the full article because I think she's got a cool site, and I'm proud of her and what she's doing. Without further ado, Growing, Glowing, and Going: Randomness...

1. Last night I found the “doggy tag” necklace my bro-in-law gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It has my name and emergency phone numbers just in case something happens to me while I’m out on a run. And the other side has one of my favorite quotes from one of my heroes. It got me thinking that I should tell you about her some time. I think I will. Be sure you carry some form of I.D. when you run (especially if you’re pregnant)! (Click here to read the rest of the article)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Holy amazing run, Batman!

I was up at 4:45 this morning hoping to get my run in pretty early. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain with thunder and lightning, so I held off for a little while. At 5:30, it seemed to be clearing up, so I drove over to South Mountain. When I got there, it started coming down again. So, I waited about 10 minutes, but the rain just kept coming down harder and harder. I ended up deciding to head back in the direction of home since it wasn't raining there (at least it wasn't when I left. Well, it poured all the way back home. After about 20 minutes or so, it began clearing up again, so I mapped out a new route and headed out. The plan was to run the same 8 mile loop I did on Thursday, stop at home and change into my new/used Kinvaras (Thanks Ted!), and go out for another 5.

The first 8 felt really good. It started raining on me about mile 2, but it only lasted a couple miles. After a relatively slow first mile, I settled in to a comfortable pace for the rest of the run (except for mile 6 which was on a gravel trail where I had to stop like 5 times to dig out mud and rocks from my socks). Turns out that pace was BQ pace. Cool!

I got back home in just under an hour and changed my socks, shirt and shoes, and headed right back out for my final 5. I think I may have tied the shoes a little too snug, but other than that, they felt great. Maybe it was all the hype I've been reading about these shoes, but these last mile were really fast. Like 7 minute miles and below. Man, it felt great!

I got back home in time to enjoy some homemade chocolate chip/banana pancakes and fresh blueberries and strawberries.
Besides the new shoes, I had a few other "firsts" for this run. I just got a new Halo headband. Loved it. It's time to retire the old (really old) headband. :*( (see here for more on my relationship with this headband. In addition to my usual toast and banana, I had a green smoothie for breakfast and a spoonful of organic blackstrap molasses. Turns out molasses is super good for you. I'll be trying it out as an energy gel again. I really think both of these really helped on the run today.

Enough of my ramblings. Here are my splits:

Goal pace - 7:30
mile 1 - 7:58
mile 2 - 7:20
mile 3 - 7:23
mile 4 - 7:14
mile 5 - 7:17
mile 6 - 8:00 (mud, rocks)
mile 7 - 7:15
mile 8 - 7:12
Intermission ~ 7:00
mile 9 - 7:01
mile 10 - 7:02
mile 11 - 6:59
mile 12 - 6:48
mile 13 - 6:26
Total time - 1:33:51

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Race reports - May to July 2010

I've been meaning to post some race reports for a long time now, and in fear of them never getting done, I am just going to post what I wrote in my training log. Maybe I'll add a few extra details. Here they are in chronological order.

Martin Charities 5k - Glendale, AZ - May 22
This race is put on by the former Arizona state treasurer, who just over a year ago lost his wife during childbirth, and his baby shortly thereafter. The race benefits water safety programs, which his wife was passionate about.

Man, there were so many turns in this race, it was unbelievable! I met a couple of my track kids and one of the other coaches and a friend. One of the kids, who also ran cross country and really wants to beat me, just ran a 4:59 mile and a 10:52 2 mile at Regionals a couple weeks ago, so I was finally ready to concede that he is faster than me now, and I was fully expecting him to beat me. He took off like lightning, and I held back. By mile 2, I had caught him though, and unfortunately, he didn't stick with me. I'm very pleased by the time of 18:42, 8 seconds off my PR from like 5 years ago. There's another 5k next Saturday that we might do. New PR is in my sight!

UPDATE: Official race results say 18:25, and put me in 4th place overall. I know that's not right. The 18:42 is more believable, and I'm pretty sure I finished about 10th overall (unless there were some speedy bandits).

Arizona Road Racers Summer Series 5k #1 - Phoenix, AZ - May 29
This 5k was a little different than your typical race. Everyone was handicapped based on their age. I started 14 minutes and 5 second after the first people. If you ask me, that was a terrible idea for this course. It basically puts the faster people at the back of the pack, and the course was very tight along the bike path parallel to a canal. It even goes through a very narrow tunnel, where I got stuck behind an old lady with a walker who was being passed by another lady with a jogging stroller. That caused a slight loss of momentum (sarcasm).

Overall, though, it wasn't a bad race. I certainly felt like I was working harder than last week's 5k. Unfortunately, my time (19:37) didn't show that. But, I still beat my track runner. (Dang it! I want him to beat me!)

Freedom Run 5k - Provo, Ut - July 5
This event has become a tradition for us. My bro-in-law also runs it with several members of his family. I really wanted to race the 10k, but I didn't want to do too much the week of my half marathon, so I just ran it with my wife. It actually felt really nice to take it easy after the intense training I've done for the half. We had a nice time together. Official time was 34:18.

Hobbler Half Marathon - Springville, Ut - July 10
This was the event I was training for. I really wanted to build up and get a new PR, and I really thought I'd do it, or at least come close. The course ran down the Left Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon, and down through town. I started out exactly where I wanted to be. My pace was almost perfect. I felt like I was just cruising down the hill. After a couple miles, I started running with another guy, and we helped pace each other for the next several miles until he disappeared at a water station. I sure could have used him later on in the race because about mile 10, I just died. I had gotten out of the canyon, and just couldn't hold my pace any longer. Luckily, my bro-in-law and his family were parked along the side of the road and cheered and rang their cowbells for my. They leap-frogged me a few times and then took off to meet me at the finish. This really gave me a boost, and kept me going. I really appreciated that, but I was still not getting back on pace. I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:29:23, relieved that I was still under 1:30. Definitely not a bad time, and good enough for 19th overall and 2nd in my age group. My bro-in-law wants to do it with me next year. That'll be really fun to run it with him.

After the race, my name was pulled out for the raffle. I won a set of Skullcandy ear buds. They are pretty cool. Too bad I never listen to music on the run.

So, there you have it. A quick and dirty, 4 in 1, race report. I've got a couple marathons planned for this fall/winter, and hopefully some more shorter races thrown in somewhere. I'll try to get those race reports done sooner than I got these ones done!

And don't forget about the giveaway on my wife's blog! She's looking for ideas for a title of a series of blog posts she plans to write about exercising through pregnancy, while she, herself, is pregnant(!). She's got some great books and baby wraps to give away, and $25 from BornFit. So if you know anyone who is prego or may become so, this is a great opportunity to score some cool stuff!

Could lecithin be the solution to running related joint pain?

I've posted before about my wife's birth blog, but her latest post got me thinking. In her post she describes the common pregnancy pain in the pelvis and how eggs, more specifically lecithin, essentially rid her and others of the pain. The pain is caused by strain on the ligaments. So, I wonder if lecithin would be helpful in alleviating other joint pains. What do you think?

My dad had to give up running years ago because of bad knees, and subsequently had surgeries to repair damage, yet is still unable to run. I wonder if lecithin would have been helpful in getting back out there on the road.

Several months ago, I was having issues with my feet and ankles. Could lecithin have sped up my recovery? Who know? But it is all very intriguing, isn't it?

Check out her blog post, "Got Lecithin?" if you're interested.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

BornFit Giveaway!

Do you know any pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant runners/fitness buffs? Click here to check out my wife's website for a cool giveaway/contest incorporating both pregnancy and fitness.

We recently found out that we are expecting baby #4. My wife ran through most of her last pregnancy and could really notice the difference it made in her pregnancy and labor, so she is determined to do it again. She has blogged about pregnancy and birth for the last 3+ years, and is very passionate about it. On her new website, she will be documenting her adventures in Prego-fitness-land. So head on over to her site and find out how to enter. There are a ton of easy ways to enter to win a $25 discount code to BornFit (fitness apparel for expecting mommies), books, and handmade baby wraps. Check it out and spread the word!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whiskey Row Half Marathon race report

I was really bummed back in January when I was unable to do the half marathon I had been planning on. But once I was over my ankle injury, I started looking for another option, and came across the Whiskey Row half marathon in Prescott, AZ. The website touts the marathon as one of the toughest in the country. It starts at a mile above sea level and climbs nearly 1000 feet to the turn around, and then turns around to follow the same route to the finish. I knew it would be a challenge, but I've always considered myself to be pretty strong on the hills, so I was really looking forward to it.I had a bunch of friends running it also. Most of them went up on Friday to spend the night since Prescott is about 2 hours from Phoenix, but I decided to drive up with a friend and her brother the morning of. We kind of cut it pretty close, but we made it in time to pick up our packets, wait in line for the potty, and still have a couple minutes to spare at the start line on Whiskey Row. The nickname for the road comes from the many saloons that used to inhabit the block back when Prescott was mining town.

My goal was to hold least an 8 minute pace up the hill, and then fly down the hill, and finish under 1:40. I started out pretty quick since the hills in town were not very significant. As the hills got a little steeper, I pulled back a little, and tried to hold it steady. Between miles 3 and 4, the hills became HILLS, crazy hills, but I still managed to stay under 8 minutes per mile.

Just before the half way point, I saw the leaders coming down the hill, and they were flying! That was energizing to see their speed, and that carried me on to the turn-around (which was just after a pretty significant amount of water/mud flowing across the road, which, of course, we had to run through twice). After turning around, it was hard to maintain a controlled pace because the hill was so steep. So, I just let it loose. I don't know what my splits were, but it was fast, really fast. But it was so much fun. Coming down, I saw several of my friends and we cheered each other on. I continued down the hill, in a groove, and then I hit an uphill. Not too long, but pretty steep. It really through me off. Once I got over, I just couldn't find myself again. Then, with about 1 mile to go, I ran out of gas. The people I was running with gradually pulled away. I am happy to say that only one other person passed me, so I must not have slowed too much.

Coming around the corner and crossing the finish line was such a good feeling. A feeling I haven't felt since my last half nearly 4 years ago. I finished with a time of 1:38:26, good enough for 24th place overall, 19th among the men, and 4th in my age group. I'm very pleased with that, considering how tough this course was. It got me thinking what I could do on a different course, and couldn't wait to find another one to do (the Hobbler Half in July--training to set a new PR).

This is definitely a race I will do again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 3

Continued from part 2.

I was really wishing I had volunteered for that long 8+ mile run. I was feeling great after that last 8 miler, and wanted to go again. As it was, I was running a 3.3 mile run, and another speedy guy was taking the long one. We cheered him on and headed to the next exchange where I would take my final run. There we waited, and waited. We waited a surprisingly long time, but he eventually made it (not feeling as good as he would have liked), and I took off. I was hoping to do this run really fast, like 5k race pace, but after about a mile, the previous 13 miles and only 30 minutes of sleep in the 30-something hours started to catch up to me. I still managed a pretty good pace, but was unable to go as fast as I wanted. I happened to see a guy that I recognized from other races I have done, and knew that he was faster than me. However, he clearly didn't feel very well, and slowed to a walk. A little over two miles, I hit an intersection where I had to wait at the stop light to cross (twice), and lost a lot of time. The guy was able to catch up to me while waiting, and got me a little worried because he looked like he was doing much better. I really didn't want to let him beat me. On the green, I took off at the fastest pace I thought I could hold, but I could still hear him behind me. With about a half mile to go, I continued to pick up the pace and had a strong finish, but was completely exhausted. Though, still with a smile on my face.

It was fun to chat with the runners from van #1 and cheer on the rest of our team. Once our final runner started, we headed for the finish to meet the rest of the team. When we were almost there, three of us got out to jog back and meet our runner and run in with her. She really appreciated us meeting her. We ended up running an additional 2 miles. Just before the finish, we met the rest of our team and crossed the finish line together. What an experience that was! The 12 of us in our bright yellow shirts into the arms of our families.

The whole event was incredible. I ended up running 19.41 miles over the weekend. What could be better than hanging out in a van for two days with a bunch of other runners? I can't wait to do it again! My buddy wants me to come up to Utah to do the Wasatch Back Ragnar this month, but unfortunately that is not likely to happen. I'll just have to wait until next year's Del Sol.

A whole slew of race reports coming up

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been a very good blogger lately. I've had some really great runs and some really great races over the last several months. Since the Ragnar Relay, I have run a half marathon, two 5ks, coached high school track, registered for my next marathon, and started training for a half marathon PR. Over the next few days, I plan to catch up on my race reports, and hopefully rekindle a little blogging fire.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 2

Continued from Part 1.
After I handed off the baton to our next runner, we leap frogged the rest of our runners into the early evening. We had a blast cheering on our runners, ringing the cowbell, and chatting with our teammates and other runners. Our last runner finished just as the sun went down, and handed off the baton to the first runner in van #1, and we drove to the next major exchange (#18), stopping for some dinner along the way. At the exchange area, we tried to get some sleep. Cramped in an SUV with 5 others didn't make for very comfortable sleeping arrangements, though. I think I slept about 30 minutes before it was time to get up and meet van #1.
Somewhere around 1:00 am, our van's first runner got the baton, and took off for his 7-ish miles along the quiet highway. We met him three times along the course to give him water and encouragement (and cowbell). During one of our stops, we saw a police car, with lights flashing, fly by us. We then headed to the next exchange where I was to get ready for my 8.8 mile run. When we arrived, the volunteers said the parking lot was full. I jumped out, downed a gel and some water, and they directed the driver to pull back out on the highway and park on the shoulder. When I thought our first runner was getting close, I pulled off my jacket and pants, and headed to the start line. As I was waiting, they told us that there was a serious accident down the road, and the road was blocked, and that they weren't letting anyone go yet. So, we waited and waited. Our runner arrived to pass off the baton, and we waited some more. And then some more. Then, they finally told us that, due to the accident, everyone was to go directly to exchange 24, skipping legs 20-24 all together. Needless to say, we were all disappointed, but our thoughts were with the runner, or the volunteer, or the individual with no association with the race whatsoever (the rumors were flying, and nobody really knew what was going on).
At exchange 24 (where van #1 would have been scheduled to run), we were told that they would be starting everybody from that exchange, but there was a lot of confusion as to what was to be done with the rest of the legs. It turns out that we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. We contacted van #1, and found out that our captain was sick and not able to run again, her husband was hurting, and everybody else was indifferent on whether they ran their final leg or not. So, we decided that van #2 would run the 6 legs van #1 would have run (legs 25-30), and three of us would join three of van #1 for the final six legs of the race.
Coming out of exchange 24, I ran the first leg of 8.5 miles, all of which was uphill. Prior to starting, the accident was really getting to me. It put a real damper on everything. None of this mattered. Somebody was hit by a car, badly injured, or dead for all we knew. But once I started running, I began to feel invigorated, grateful to have the opportunity to run, grateful to be alive. As I ran, the sun was just starting to rise. A new day was beginning, and the world was brightening. I was filled with energy, and hardly noticed the hill. I began passing person after person, encouraging them as I passed. And my teammates were there for me, cheering me on. I reached the end of that 8.5 mile long hill with all smiles in an hour and 2 minutes, wishing I had said I'd run that last 8 mile run instead of the 3.3 miles in the last stretch to the finish.

Click here for Part 3.

Celebrating 31 years with a week of 5ks and a virtual race

So, I turned 31 on Friday. 31 isn't really a milestoney year, but I wanted to do something different, something I have never done before. Sounds a little daring, doesn't it? I got to thinking, 31, 3.1. That's kinda cool. Why not make all my runs this week 3.1 miles? Why not run 3.1 miles every day? Why not go for "negative splits," and make each 5k faster than the previous day? What a way to celebrate, eh? I haven't run everyday since high school cross country, so I didn't know how I would hold up, and afterall, I'm not a teenager any more (even though I could probably pass for one).

Monday. 3.1 #1. 25:12
I started out the week pretty easy with a 5k before track practice (I'm coaching at the high school this year). Pretty slow, but considering I still had 4 more to run, I thought I was in a pretty good position to reach that negative split goal.

Tuesday. 3.1 #2. 24:29
I thought I was going to get rained on, but it was just starting to clear up when I headed out. I'm not really used to early morning runs anymore since I've been running mostly in the afternoon before track practice. And I forgot how dark it is.

Wednesday. 3.1 #3. 22:11
I didn't start out very fast. Maybe these consecutive days were starting to get to me. After about a mile though, I got in a groove, and just went. And it felt great!

Thursday. 3.1 #4. 21:15
This one felt pretty quick, but I was feeling pretty week towards the end. I started feeling nervous about the big day coming up. I'd have to really crank it out. I kept telling myself that a goal that is easily attainable is not much of a goal. That helped me stay motivated to keep going strong.

Friday. 3.1 #5. 20:52
This was by far the hardest 5k I've done this week. It was the coldest morning run of the week (a mere 47 degrees), I was tired, I had just run a reasonably quick 5k 14 hours prior, then spent about an hour running hurdles with the high school kids in the evening. But, afterall, a goal isn't much of a goal if it's easily attainable. So, I pushed through all that and managed perfect "negative splits" for the week. Happy birthday to me. :-)

Saturday. 6.66 miles. 50:46
So, Razz at Running off at the Mind put together this little "I hate winter" virtual race. I thought I'd give it ago, even though I love winter. I mean, come on. I live in Phoenix. Winter is the best time of year. The weather can't get much more perfect. 60 degree temps, sunshine. I feel sorta bad participating in this race because I haven't had to deal with the seemingly never-ending winter much of the rest of the country has had to face. But, I love races, so I couldn't pass it up.

I ran with a couple friends on a favorite course. There are some trails and some good-sized hills. We took it pretty easy most of the way, and enjoyed the course and our conversation. After a couple miles, one friend started to drop behind. He waved us on, and the other friend and I picked up the pace going up the hill. We got back to our cars at exactly 6 miles, and my buddy ended his run, and I kept going for another .33 miles, then turned around and finished with an even 6.66 (it was actually 6.68, but what's 2/100ths of a mile?). 50:46 was the final time. Oh, and 67 degrees was the temperature. And no cloud in the sky. Not to mention a lovely breeze. Sorry, but I love Arizona winters.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 1

It's not too late for a race report is it? It's only been a week and a half! I think it's taken me this long to catch up on the sleep I missed out on during the race.

Before I get started, though, I want to express my condolences to the Mayasich family, whose son, Robby, an 18 year old Phoenix kid, was hit by a car while passing water to one of his teammates about half way through the race. He was air lifted to the hospital, but died a few days later. I don't know all the details, but it is really a sad story.

I had never done a relay race before, so I was really looking forward to this adventure with a bunch of friends. I was excited to be running over 20 miles in about 36 hours. The plan was to run our first leg, get dinner, nap, run our second leg, go to our team captain's parent's house to sleep, then run our last leg and finish as a team.

Everything started out as planned. I was in van #2, so we went straight to the first major exchange and waited for van #1 to arrive. As the last runner from van #1 passed by us (almost without us seeing him), we cheered him on and jumped in the van to cheer on our first runner. I was telling Lani later that it was like running three races while having our own little cheering section. The van would leap frog the runner throughout the course and everyone would cheer them on as they ran.

So, we cheered on our #1 and made our way to the next exchange where I got ready for my first run of the day. My first leg was a 5.5 mile route that started out slightly downhill, but had a couple pretty tough and long hills. I really wasn't intimidated by the hills, and thought they wouldn't really be anything to worry about. I started out pretty fast, and when I passed an older gentleman, he made a comment about the hills coming up. He was probably thinking something like "This kid is gonna die on those hills." To be honest, I had actually forgotten about the hills, and it got me thinking that maybe I was starting out too fast, but I didn't want to slow down. I had been waiting to run all day (this was 1:30 in the afternoon), the adrenaline was pumping, and I was feeling great, so I just kept charging ahead. The hills definitely humbled me, though. The were much tougher than I anticipated, but that man's comment helped push me up those hills. I just focused on moving forward, and like in any other race, focusing on the person in front of me. I finished my leg in 40:44 with and average pace of 7:19. I was totally expecting my pace to be well over 8 minutes. It certainly felt like it! After handing off the baton/snap bracelet, I stretched a little, and we hurried to cheer on out next runner.

Click here for Part 2.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ragnar Relay test run(s)

So, I'm doing the Ragnar Relay Del Sol next weekend, and just completed a pretty sweet simulation this morning. For those who don't know what a Ragnar Relay is, it's a 12 person relay race covering about 200 miles. They have them all over the country. The Del Sol relay runs from Prescott to Tempe on Friday and Saturday.

I had started to get a little nervous a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be able to do it at all because my ankle started to really bother me. I think there was something going on in my peroneal muscle and tendon. But after wearing a brace and taking almost 3 weeks off, I was able to get back into it with enough time to get some final training in. I really wanted to simulate the relay as best I could to see not only how my ankle would hold up, but also to see how it would feel to run three times in a little over 24 hours.

My plan was to run Friday morning, Friday evening, and Saturday morning. My legs for the relay will be 5.5 miles, 8.8 miles, and 8.4 miles for a total distance of 22.7 miles, so I did runs of 4.2 miles, 6.3 miles, and 5.0 miles for a total of 15.5 miles. I wanted to be able to run 8 minute miles and not push it at all just to play it safe on my ankle.

Run #1, 4.22 miles, 33:22, 7:55 pace
I got up at 5 AM for this run. I don't think I've run this early since before Christmas. It was dark and a little chilly, but not bad at all. I started out with my first mile around 8:20, but I really picked up the pace without realizing it and kept the rest under 8:00. I even ran one mile in 7:33. I was a little worried that I was going too fast, especially since I still had two more runs to do, but I was feeling really good, so I just went with it.

Run #2, 6.34 miles, 48:53, 7:43 pace
I wasn't able to get out last night until after 9 PM. I had gotten my girls to bed by 8, but my son was still awake, and I had already offered to take care of him while my wife had a friend over. By the time I got him to bed, it was pretty late, and very dark. But there was a beautiful starry sky to enjoy. I really wasn't sure how this run would go after having dinner only a couple hours earlier. I'm not used to running in the evening, especially with so much food in my tummy. The first couple miles or so, I was really feeling it, but after that, I felt great. I felt strong and had lots of energy. I did a two loop course. The first just over 25 minutes, and the second in 23 and some change. I really felt like I was in a groove, and was tempted to do another loop, but knew I still had one more run to do in the morning.

Run #3, 5.02 miles, 38:21, 7:39 pace
I stayed up a little too late last night, and couldn't stop thinking/dreaming about my next run. So I was pretty tired this morning, but I did get up looking forward to this run. As soon as I started off, I knew this wasn't going to be as good as last night's run. I felt really slow and like I had no energy, so I was very surprised when I kept looking at my pace and seeing that I was well below the 8 minute pace I was anticipating, thinking that can't be right. And it turns out that my average pace for this run was the fastest of the whole weekend.

Was this little experiment a success? I'd definitely say so! My ankle held up extremely well. I was able to increase my pace with each run (although the last one didn't feel as easy and comfortable as the first two). Plus, it was exciting to do something I'd never done before. I'm getting more and more excited to do it again next weekend! Expect a race report and hopefully some pictures then.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Desert Classic Marathon volunteer report

"I should have been running this race," I kept thinking.

I had been planning to run the half marathon last weekend, but had to change those plans a couple weeks ago when I started having issues with my ankle.

"Well, if I can't run it, I might as well volunteer and help out."

Volunteering for races is a lot of fun. It's a different experience being on the other side of the water station handing out the water instead of running by and taking it. I've volunteered for a few races before, but this was my first time at a water station, and I gotta say the water station is a lot more exciting than the registration table.

I was teamed up with Rio and her daughter, and we made our way to water stop #1, 1.5 miles from the start. When we got to the stop, the supplies were already there, but we had to get it all set up, which was a little difficult in the dark (trying to read the directions on the sports drink package and calculating how many ounces are in 5 gallons), but we managed with time to spare before the runners got to us. While we waited, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise in the east, and a sweet moonset (is that a word?) in the west.
As it was my first time at a water stop, I had to work on my hand-off skills. My hands got spilled on a few times starting out, but it didn't take too long getting the hang of it. I think I only missed one hand-off the entire day. That's if you don't count handing sports drink to my friend who called out water (in my defense, though, he did reach for the wrong hand). Luckily, he was only 1.5 miles from finishing his first marathon (in stellar time, by the way), that he didn't mind at all.

Hopefully, this ankle thing will take care of itself really soon as I've got lots of running plans. But if not, I'll be back to volunteering, that's for sure.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year's Day 5k Race Report

This race is quickly becoming a tradition for New Year's Day. Each year that we have lived in Arizona, my wife's sister and family have come to visit us after Christmas. My brother-in-law, who is an excellent runner, and I have done this race two years in a row now. It's great to have an opportunity to run with him when he comes (even though it's hard to keep up). On one of our runs, we were talking about our goals for this race. He was hoping to run under 18. I have been hoping to run under 19 for months now, but have so far been very unsuccessful. And with the December I had (nearly 2 weeks off with some strange rib pain, and a few more days off with a cold), I really wasn't expecting much at all. But, I love running races, so I was excited for it anyway.

I got a new watch for Christmas into which I can program my target times for each mile, so, with encouragement from my brother-in-law, I programmed splits for a 19-minute 5k, mostly just to test out the function, but also thinking how cool it would be to really run those times.

The course is pretty flat except for a minor hill going out of the park near the start, and where the trail goes under a road at about the 1 mile mark (you hit this hill in the other direction at about mile 2 since it's an out and back course). Leaving the park, I was in 4th place, just a short distance behind my brother-in-law. A short while later, I was joined by 3 gentlemen with whom I stayed with until the turn around. At this point, they all took off. I didn't let them get too far ahead of me, but based on my experience last year, I thought I'd be able to catch them before the finish. There was no one very close behind me, but I did see a large group of runners approaching after I had turned around. This group was lead by several young guys, who looked like they might be pretty quick. This struck a little fear in me, because I really didn't want to get passed by anyone else.

There weren't any mile markers beside mile 1 (where I was 12 seconds ahead of my target time, by the way), so wasn't sure how I was doing on time. I was just trying to get to the finish line as fast as I could. As I entered the park, I could see my brother-in-law making the final turn to the finish, and the 3 guys who passed my not too far behind him. When I hit that turn, I could see the clock, and saw that it was still well under 19 minutes. I had no idea I was going so fast (with this target time setting, I wasn't able to see the total time for the race). I crossed the line at 18:46, only 12 seconds slower than my PR. Unbelievable! I was exhausted, but already thinking about when I'd be able to fit in the next 5k.

I ended up finishing 7th overall, and a little surprised to be 2nd in my age group. Turns out that the much older looking guy with the big, bushy beard who won the race was also in my age group. Bummer. My bro-in-law finished 3rd, and 1st in his age group. Go us!

After the race, we went over to the "Hole in the Rock," and played a bit. We all had a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Looking back, looking ahead

I guess I haven't done much blogging in the last year. I hope this makes up for it.

I started 2009 off not really knowing what I was going to do. I had recently gotten over a knee injury that kept me sidelined for almost 2 months and derailed my marathon plans, and things were finally starting to get back to normal. I ran a decent New Year's Day 5k, and I was feeling optimistic about the future. I began planning on the LA Marathon in May, some fast 5ks, and an encore to my 5 minute mile. But, before the end of January, my knee pain came back, and I forced myself to take some more time off. I later figured out that the injury wasn't really a knee injury, but my IT band. I learned a couple stretches and strengthening exercises, and have only had the occasional flare up since.

My marathon plans ended up getting put on hold, I skipped the 5 minute mile thing, and really focused on the 5k. I managed to do several 5ks this year. Progress was slow, but it did come as I went from a 20:42 on New Year's Day 2009 to a 18:46 in 2010 (race report yet to come).

The arrival of spring brought another season of track. I was again coaching at the middle school, and this year there were actually a couple kids I knew from when they were in the elementary school that I work at. Once again, we had a small team, but we really had some talented runners, which made it a lot of fun. In the fall, I was able to coach cross country at the high school. What a difference! Don't get me wrong, I love my middle schoolers, but it is so nice to be coaching kids who are actually motivated to run! We had a good season, saw tons of progress with the kids, and the boys team even made it to state. How awesome is that?! I'm hoping to be able to coach track at the high school this year. If not, I'll be back at the middle school.

This year, I am running a half marathon on January 30th and the Ragnar Relay Del Sol February 26th-27th. I really want to run another full marathon this year (it's been almost 2 years since my last one). I'm thinking of the Whiskey Row Marathon in Prescott, AZ in May, and maybe another one in the fall. I still want to try for that 3 hour marathon. I also want to keep working on the 5k. This last one was only 12 seconds off my 5 year old PR, and I know I can beat that. Gosh, I might as well throw in a 10k and a mile race to get every distance under a marathon. Hmm...

Hopefully things will go as planned. I hope you all have a successful new year as well.