Saturday, December 12, 2009

There is no substitute for training

As solid a statement I have ever heard, it applies to most anything. I'll expand here to illustrate what I mean.

1) Athletics - Seems obvious, and though my athletic abilities seem limited to running and biking (and I mean limited), I do okay for my age group, especially in multisport. As a straight runner, I am capable of way more, but without putting serious time into training, will never catch the rabbits in the top 10%. I PR'd not long ago on a 1/2 marathon (1:39), but I know (with considerable time and effort), I could be in the 1:25 range. Biking? I'm not experienced enough or fast enough to even hang out with riders. I won't even say anything about swimming. But put these together, and I do okay. I can run a 7 to 7:30 min pace after a 20-22 mph ride on a medium course. The formula is simple: effective training + more time = better performance. My marathon performance is better when I put the time and effort in. This year I failed to put adequate time into longer runs, and it showed. I need to decide haw to best utilize my time in 2010. There is no substitute for training.

2) Drinking - I am not a big drinker. Actually, I don't drink very often, or very much; when I do, my tolerance is low, so the span from sober - buzzing - drunk is quite narrow. In another lifetime, that span was quite broad, as I was trained for it. Actually, I was probably training for this four days per week (ah, college youth). While I do not wish to ever engage in this kind of behavior again, the difference is clear. While on vacation last week, I found myself reverting to an evening of consumption best reserved for those trained to finish above the 80th percentile. Fortunately, my body's early warning system reawakened after a two-decade long siesta, stopping me from continuing what would have devolved into an ugly and painful outcome. I think that being ill/hungover while at sea is a bad combination. I have not been training to drink, nor do I want to. But if consumption is planned, it may be best to occasionally imbibe. There is no substitute for training.

3) Eating - I am not a big eater. I enjoy food, but for the most part it serves a purpose. I watch what I eat - watch it going down my gullet. Really, I pay attention and watch the volume and keep from overdoing 'bad' foods. I'm not overweight, but am 5-10 lbs above an ideal racing weight. That said, I do like to eat certain things, and can easily overdo them, if they are to my liking. I can put away 1/2lb of pasta, or 1/2 loaf of French bread, or 3-4 bagels, plates of stir-fry. While on vacation last week, there was endless opportunity to eat. While I limited myself, I ate way more than normal, resulting in a few (okay six) additional pounds as a souveneir from my cruise (not continuing this exercise has caused the weight to drop again). Towards the end of the week, I grew tired of eating. I was full after a cup of soup. I simply wasn't hungry. For comparison, there were professional eaters all around. From buffet hounds to professionals (not quite up to Mr. Creosote), these people ate like it was a sport. This was their arena, and like [food] gladiators, they battled themselves to maximize their intake. Years of training came down to this: An endless supply of prepared food on a 7-night cruise. This is where their training paid off. The top finishers would consume more value than they paid. The back of the pack folks would subsidize the bill. But we all had fun and got something out of it. There is no substitute for training.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marathon #4

Well, another marathon under my belt. It didn't go as well as I had hoped, but still went okay. I had hoped to run a 3:35, or at least beat last year's 3:39, but I ran out of steam. I started feeling it around mile 16, as my heart rate was starting to climb, while my speed was not. By mile 22 my pace was tanking, resulting in a 3:49:34. Not too bad, considering I wasted September as a training month. For that matter, August too. I simply failed to devote adequate training time towards this endeavor. Though I did well in the short races, going over two hours is another dimension.

The race was well organized (TuxBro always delivers), and I liked the new course. The weather was great. It was clear, and low 50's to start. There was a bit of wind in places, but not too bad. There were plenty of water stations, though some of the later ones did not have adequate manning; I skipped two stations where I wanted to get water, but didn't want to stop to wait for a cup. Not a big deal. The post-race food/drinks were decent, though Fazoli's pasta isn't what I'd consider to be very good. No matter, as I wasn't up for much food at that point anyway.

I felt great for the first 16 miles, and was on pace for my target. Then my heart rate started to climb. And I think I was becoming dehydrated, as I was not sweating very much. I started hitting every water stop (except for two), but it didn't seem to be helping. I felt hot, though the temp was mid 50's. Here are my splits:

Mile Pace HR Mile Pace HR
1 8:00 152 14 8:24 163
2 7:53 159 15 8:26 163
3 8:03 157 16 8:35 162
4 7:57 160 17 8:40 162
5 7:52 160 18 9:01 161
6 7:58 159 19 8:14 161
7 8:10 159 20 8:50 163
8 7:51 158 21 9:02 162
9 8:03 160 22 10:22 156
10 7:56 160 23 11:55 152
11 8:04 160 24 9:28 153
12 8:11 161 25 12:29 140
13 8:07 163 26 10:07 153
0.2 1:56 164

By the end of the race, I was spent, mentally and physically. After last year's race, I went home for the afternoon, then went to a Halloween party. After the Flying Pig, I went home and worked in the yard. After this race, I went home and showered, and was too tired to do anything. I napped for almost an hour, and then made a giant bean burrito for lunch. My legs were tired and uncomfortable. I later remembered my new 2XU compression pants I got as a prize (from Athlinks). They are for running and recovery. I wore them for the rest of the afternoon, and they seemed to help a bit. But I was just spent.

Like before, I learned a few lessons that will eventually help me in the future. Some lessons I need to have thumped in my head repeatedly, like, put the time into training, get adequate rest, train with a plan, and devote time to recovery. I clearly didn't put the time in for this event. My time and mileage for 2009 will be about 60% of what it was for 2008 (only two pairs of shoes this year…). I have been getting about 5-6 hours of sleep every weeknight for the past nine weeks. I generally didn't know what distance or effort I was going to train until my shoes were on. I'm surprised I didn't flame out even worse on the run. I think the mini a few weeks ago gave me a little more hope about my endurance. As far as dehydration, I drink a great deal of water. Nearly two gallons per day, and rarely less than 1.5. I realize this may flush beneficial things I fail to replenish, but the past week has been kind of strange. You'd think drinking all this water, I'd never be thirsty. Or have chapped lips and dry hands. Wrong. I was really thirsty all week, my lips were chapped, and I was getting splits on my hands. What's up with that? I think I should probably look into it. My system is probably a mess.

What next? I normally do the Drumstick Dash, but will be in Tennessee this year. There is a Turkey Trot called the Habtrot, and is very close to where I'll be. I may sign up for it, though I'm not yet sure. For 2010, I need to evaluate some things. Like why marathons? Do I really like the distance, or is it to simply do a distance most people won't? Strangely, I want to do something harder, but first I have to be successful at this. I don't think this race is representative for me, and I really think if I align myself with efficient time and effective training, I can break 3:30. Yes, its nearly ten minutes off my best time, but I think it's doable. I want to be faster, in both long and short distances. I simply want to do well in my age group. It seems multisport is where I can find this.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ft. Harrison Mini (Indianapolis Marathon and Mini Marathon)

I really didn't do anything to prepare for this race. Taper? Not at all, considering this is supposed to be a warm-up for the Monumental Marathon three weeks later. On the contrary, I am at the end of my opportunity for high-mileage weeks, so I ran 10 Saturday, 10.5 Monday, and though I planned 7 each for Wednesday and Thursday, the weather didn't cooperate and I instead suffered on the treadmill for a maddenly boring 4 mile run. Add to this my inadequate training, getting roughly five hours of sleep every night, combined with a three-hour wine tasting at Ruth's Chris the night before the race, and you have the making of an interesting Saturday morning race.

I came home from work early Friday, played Monopoly with Sam for awhile (he was home sick), ate 1/2lb of pasta, then caught almost an hour long nap before going to the Ruth's Chris wine tasting with Michele. Wine tasting, the night before a race??? Well, this was not only free, but was high-end wines, combined with appetizers at a restaurant I really enjoy. The wines were plentiful, and it seemed you could taste as much as you wanted, as many times as you wanted. Products that stood out were Opus 1, Silver Oak, Quintessa, Faust, and a few others of which the names escape me right now. These wines are not in my budget ($100-200 per bottle), so it's always a treat to drink them. The appetizers included a few of thing's I either didn't want to eat (seared tuna) for fear of GI issues during the race, or just weren't my thing (shrimp, brie puff pastries). I instead opted for chicken skewers glazed with a spicy teryaki. I must have downed ten of those, washing them down with cheese and crackers, chocolate mousse in dark chocolate cups, and a few of these amazing chocolate squares (2") mounted on a bed of crushed nuts. Each time I ate one of those I could only think how I shouldn't be having another one, with a race less than twelve hours away. The sweet taste of ambrosia quickly vanqished those thoughts.

My point here? I was hoping for a race where I wouldn't embarass myself. Surprisingly, things went far better than I anticipated. The morning was cold, and I figured it was going to be long sleeve weather. I'm not acclimated to the cold yet, and the 30s are kind of a transition zone for clothing. With frost on my windshield I headed to the race (only a ten minute drive). I brought shorts with me, just in case it warmed up enough before the race. I was really on the fence about my jacket, as I didn't want to get too warm, and shedding clothing is a hassle (I don't have any "throwaway" clothes for this purpose). It was too cold for me to change, so after having a Roctane GU (first time for this kind) I headed to the start. I had planned on arriving earlier, and making today's run a long training run by warming up for two miles, running 13.1, then tacking another three on the end. Well, it didn't work out that way, and my warm-up was only 1/2 mile, after which I worked my way through the crowd (6,400 entrants) to the self-seeding area for the pace I wanted. there was no sign, but I was ahead of the 3:40 marathon group and a bit back from the 7:00 pace sign.

The race began on time and the course was narrow for the first mile; crowded but moving well. I felt really good, and as the miles ticked by, found I was running 7:25-7:45 splits. Huh? This was kind of strange, as my effort was not very high, and my heart rate was only slightly higher than my training HR. There were plenty of water points (I think every two miles), and as I passed each one, opted to continue my plan of doing the things you should never do for a race: lack of training, inadequate rest, alcohol and strange food the night before, trying new gels on race day, and now skipping water points. I figured I had plenty of water before the race, and I do drink over 1.5 gal every day. Actually, it's a hassle for me to drink from a cup while running, as I have not practiced this, and end up either choking on it or spilling all over me - I usually walk a few steps to gulp it. Since it was cold, I didn't want to get all wet, and I didn't want to slow down.

Anyway, at mile 8.5 there was a water point where I did get a cup of water, and I ran into David Klossner link to his blog, who is training for Ironman Louisville 2010. We ran together until just after mile 10, where he wanted to speed up for a tempo finish. I opted out, choosing to stay with my pace, especially with the coming hill. The hill wasn't as bad as I thought, and my split only slid to 8:15 that mile. As it was, my last two miles were 7:55 splits, and I was quite pleased finishing at 1:41:39.

A PR without training for it, and without any pain or suffering. As I look at it, if I upped the pain threshold a bit I should be able to shave a minute or two off this race. And if I actually trained better/smarter, who knows? I feel much better about the Monumental Marathon in three weeks. I haven't planned a pace, but this race helps with it. I cannot run a 7:45 for 26.2, but 8:15 or so might be sustainable. My main concern is energy management. I need to eat well during the days prior, and I think Roctane GU will be the gel for the race. I learned a few lessons at The Flying Pig Marathon, and though I had pain in my foot most of the race, my pre-race meal, combined with a real lack of sleep and the wrong gels, put me in to what I now think was simply a bonk - mentally and physically. My pace was solid until mile 21, where I really tanked. All I can do now is put a little time in and be smart for this race.

So I finished with a PR, walked around for a few minutes drinking water, and once I was sufficiently cold (mid-race I wanted to ditch the jacket), started to run again to make my long run. This plan did not work out, as Sam was playing in his soccer tournament less than a mile away. I ran over there, and after learning Gabriel was starving, brought him back to the race where I figured he could share my post-race meal. That worked out great for him, as he ate most of my meal, though I did get a cookie and some beans. Oh well, I'd wait until I got home. Returning to the game, I continued to freeze until the end (Sam's team won), after which we'd have to quickly get home, eat, shower (for me), and return for another soccer game in ninety minutes.

All in all, a good day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The few races I did this summer have gone pretty well. Given the minimal amount of training, I am pleased with my age group finishes in the Energy2Action duathlon (2mi/16 mi/2.5mi 3rd place), Blacksnake duathlon (2mi/20 mi/2.5mi 2nd place), and Tri-Indy duathlon (2mi/12.4mi/5k 3rd place).

The Fisher Area Sprint Triathlon (500m/10mi/5k)was my first tri, and I finished within a minute of my projected time. My swim was weak (expected, as my swim training consisted of swimming 40 laps in my pool two weeks before the race), and first transition ridiculously slow, but the bike (21.4mph avg) and run (7:17 pace) went well. I was 12th in my age group, but as a first timer (newbies were grouped by age as well), I was first in my age group.

I ran in the Cancer-Free Lungs 5k last weekend, a non-competitive race (meaning no timing, bibs, or chips), which meant most of the participants were walkers; there were a handful of runners, but none were fast. My buddy Mike and I led the whole race, crossing the finish line together at 21:44 (6:59 pace). He could have waxed me at the end, but didn't. I was running at near redline for most of the race, with my heart rate in the 170s (174 avg), eventually peaking at 181 near the end. Speed is not my thing, but it did feel good to push it a bit.

September has been my lamest month of "training"; it's more like I am training to be lethargic. I have two races coming up, for which I am not prepared. The Ft. Harrison mini-marathon is in a bit over two weeks, and while I have no concerns with the distance, figure my speed will be lacking. Worse, this race was supposed to be a final prep for the Monumantal Marathon in five weeks, with a solid taper in between. I should be running an 18-20 miler about next weekend, but I haven't even run a 10 miler since Labor Day. Yes, I am way behind, and will not catch up. if I hadn't already signed up for the marathon, I would probably skip it for lack of preparation. Not being prepared to run a mini is no big deal; I can fake it and just slow down. 26.2 miles cannot be faked. You are either prepared or not, and that is a major factor in having a good race or a bad race. Oh well, I just have to get off my arse and utilize the remaining time as best I can.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Upcoming Races

I have some races coming up. You'd think I might actually train a bit to get ready for them, but it seems my training is more suited for getting ready for GluttonFest 2009. At least the races coming up soon are short: I have a sprint triathlon this Sunday (Fishers Triathlon), and a 5K the following weekend (Cancer-Free Lungs). But I really need to focus on October, as I have the Monumental Marathon on 11/7, with a mini-marathon two weeks prior (10/17). I'm not worried about the mini, but I don't think I'll be breaching 1:40. I'll be lucky for a 1:45. Or even 1:48.

It's been hard to put the time in, but I started riding my bike to work to make better use of my commute. It has helped me with my duathlon performance, as I have placed in my age group in all three this year (3rd in Energy2Action (May), 2nd in Blacksnake (August), and 3rd in Tri-Indy (August)). If I put the time in, I might get a win. Sad, but my VO2 max numbers show a potential
(with lots of training time) for a sub-3:00 marathon.

Time. It's hard to make time to train. The afternoons are impossible, as the kids get home from school, and the whirlwind doesn't cease until after 8pm. I was running at lunch, but I really don't have enough time to run and stretch; if I can't get at least 40 minutes on the road, I won't even bother. That leaves early morning. I have been running a bit before work, but getting up at obscene hours to run remains a challenge. If I hadn't already signed up for the Monumental Marathon, I wouldn't even worry about it. But I have, and with less than two months to go, I still have a chance to redeem myself by getting back in the game and putting forth the effort to beat my marathon PR of 3:39:56. I learned some things from the Flying Pig Marathon that will hopefully help my next marathon: adequate rest, pre-race meals, and race nutrition.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I won a lottery today

Well, sort of. God was smiling on me this morning. After I entered the parking lot at work this morning, a strange thing happened. I turned the steering wheel -- and nothing happened. I was moving very slowly, as I was turning to enter the lane about 50 feet from where I usually park. I stopped and didn't quite realize what had happened until I started backing up and consciously turned the wheel. It was then I heard the drag link (kind of like a tie rod) dragging on the ground. Holy smokes! Two minutes earlier I had been on the interstate going about 70mph. Now I had a 100% steering failure. I left my truck where it was, as I couldn't move it to a better place and went in to start my day. I would talk to a few of our steering experts about it when they arrived. Note: the item that failed isn't an item we make or supply. We make the steering gear to which the part that failed attaches. The part that broke was a Pitman arm ball joint; the ball popped out of the socket, something which should never happen, especially on a 2002 vehicle with 93,000 miles..

As I went through my daily routine of stuff, I started giving some thought to the bullet I had just dodged. Had it broken at 70mph, the drag link would have hit the ground and turned my wheels all the way to one direction even faster than I could do it by turning the steering wheel, and I figure if I missed the sparse 5:40 am traffic I would have careened off the newly constructed concrete walls/sound barriers before rolling violently to a stop. I would have ended up in the hospital or more likely a morgue, without ever realizing what had happened.

Further, I had ridden my bike to work a couple of days this week, and was driving around with the kids the past two afternoons. Had I not ridden my bike, the failure might have occurred with them in the car.

And the failure happened in the best possible place. I was able to get a part at a nearby auto parts store, and someone at work fixed it in less than fifteen minutes. Had it happened anywhere else, I would have had to have it towed. Even at home, I didn't have a tool to take the ball out of the Pitman arm.

I was very lucky. Yes, I think God was watching over me today.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Energy2Action Duathlon

Having run the Flying Pig Marathon three weeks before, and the Geist Mini marathon seven days prior, and doing nothing, including stretching, until this race, I think I did okay. It was a small race (95 people), and with ten people in my age group, I placed 3rd. The first run felt good, the transition very slow (I never once practiced it), then the bike... Well it felt really good, but this was the third time I rode my bike in 2009... This is the place to be strong, and where I can really improve, as I can pick up another 2mph avg with less effort than shaving 1 min off my run pace - and the value is far greater. Legs heavy after bike - 1/2 mile to get in the groove. Again, last brick was summer 2008. Race was well-organized, especially for their first one.

Geist Mini Marathon

Hoping for 1:43, but lolligagging mid-course didn't help. Not a strong run for me. I was feeling good, and as I passed mid course, I looked at my watch and woke up... What had I been doing the past couple of miles? My pace was way off, and I realize my perceived effort was low. I wasn't even breathing as I might on an easy zone 3 run? Sheesh. Had I been sightseeing? Worse, having gone so slow wasted an opportunity to take advantage of the long shallow descent I had been running. In another mile the climb starts. Well, time to get moving. The rest of the race was catch-up, as I tried to make up nearly five minutes in about six miles, with one of the miles being real hills (for Indiana). Okay, it didn't happen. I made up about two minutes or so, finishing two minute slower than my "normal" time, and three more than my goal. Lesson learned. Race organization was great, with only two issues: A mix-up at packet pick-up had me with the correct chip, but with the bib for someone else. I had even looked at it and made the same mistake as the volunteer - the two middle number were reversed. I realized the error at 10pm, found an email address at the race website, and sent a note with my information. The next morning I went to the race trouble desk as soon as it opened, and voila, my correct bib was already there, as my note had been forwarded an hour earlier. I was quite pleased, and though the remedy would have been simple if they had not found my bib, it showed good organization. My only other issue was the challenging navigation of the post-race area. It was hard to find anything - okay I had a beer ticket and I couldn't find the beer tent. The chocolate milk (sponsored by the dairy lobby) was spot-on, and a reasonable substitute.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Goofy Kids

This is what happens when you let a seven year old boy play with a waterproof camera by the pool.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flying Pig Marathon Experience

The Flying Pig was an experience. The race was well-organized, and there were many people cheering along the course. There was water/gatorade every mile, and with the half marathon folks splitting off around mile seven, the course was not crowded. But let me back up a bit. The race and trip were an experience.

I got to Cincinnati later than I should, found my motel, then went to the expo to get my race packet. Arriving at the expo, I got my packet and then embarked on my quest for schwag (I love free stuff), of which I quickly realized was not going to go well. As I approached the GU booth, they were giving away GU (which I wanted), and the person in front of me got the last one. The people manning the booth then proceed to start tearing the booth down as quickly as they could, as the expo was over for them. Continuing through the expo, there were plenty of things I could buy, none of which I wanted, needed, or even cared to look at. The booths that would have had the good stuff had cleared out. Oh well, walking around an expo the day before an endurance event is really not a good thing to do.

As I walked back to my truck, I started thinking about dinner, and realized I had a problem. Actually, multiple problems, since my motel was not exactly a nice place. It was a little worn out. Okay, it was a three star dump. I stopped at a CVS I found next to the convention center to get a gallon of distilled water. Now, I'll drink tap water from most any tap in the USA, but the tap in my motel was not one of them. I did not want any GI issues on Sunday, and with my water consumption being 1.5gal/day, I didn't want to shock my system with some parasite or condition from the motel. I realize my worries were likely unfounded, but you'd have to see the motel to understand.

The Motel

I expected the room to be a little worn... I wanted to spend as little as possible, since I just needed a place to sleep and shower; my alternative was to return home Saturday (there was no race-day packet pickup available), and then get up around 2am Sunday to drive to the race. So, checking in was uneventful. The clerk was watching some Asian video that had women/kids screaming and crying, and it was turned up a bit loud. No matter. On my way to the room, I noticed the dozen Harleys parked in the lot… Huh. So, I go to the second floor and opened the door to my room. It was interesting. The carpet was a little worn. And maybe a little dirty. The bathroom light, a single exposed mini-fluorescent tube, flickered a bit, then died. Huh. Okay, the towels look clean, and there is toilet paper. And a couple of wrapped soap mini-bars. Too bad they don't know what Tilex can do for a shower. Michele would never stay here, nor would I subject her to it. Okay, pull the bedspread, as I'm not touching it again. Damn, I forgot to bring Clorox wipes. Remote control in plastic bag - damn, someone stole one of the batteries from this thing. Oh well. So, I head to the expo.

Returning from the expo, I stopped at the front desk to inquire about the bathroom light, and some extra towels (so I can lay them on the floor for a path). "The light's out? We don't have a key for that. You should just know where your stuff is. Ha ha ha. I can get you some towels." Fine. Now it's time to find dinner. I don't know what I was thinking, but I thought dinner would be an easy affair. The only thing nearby was White Castle, Big Boy, and a host of Soul Food places. With a marathon twelve hours away, I was not going to try anything new, unusual, or high residue (ruffage). started driving north, and after fifteen minutes, settled for Cracker Barrel. It wasn't my first choice, but I needed to eat something and get ready for bed. I opted for pancakes, hash browns, and biscuits, which is a tasty meal, but later learned to be a critical flaw in my pre-race strategy. Shoveling my dinner and a pitcher of water (I later learned the server was not supposed to leave a pitcher with me, as another server kept trying to confiscate it), I returned to the room and took a shower.

I set my phone alarm for 3:30am, and though I wanted to get a wake-up call as well, I didn't want to touch the phone. I went to bed around 9:30, and starting around 10:30, was woken up pretty much every forty-five minutes by noises outside. Most of the noise was from the people next door, either talking loudly, or from their television. I would wake up, look at the time, laugh, then fade out once again. Many times I thought about calling my voice mail to record what I was hearing, but I would doze off again. I heard the lady next door talking about how "You have to add 1/2 lb of lamb, 1/3 lb beef, and 1/3 lb pork"; I never learned what it was for. There were many noises from the parking lot, like yelling, but the 2am Harley engine check was a priceless aid for slumber.

Alas it was finally time to get up. I took a shower, had a bagel and oatmeal (made with instant oatmeal in a cup of cold distilled water). I brought my stuff down to my truck, and while I can't be positive, I'm pretty sure the night clerk was watching porn. It was raining and cool. Well, I expected it might rain. I guess I'll need my hat.

The Race

I parked downtown, and made my way towards the start, stopping at a major hotel (The Hyatt, I think) to hang out in a dry place with many others who were waiting to go to the starting area about a mile away. This was also an opportune and important time to use the facilities. Leaving with the throng of people, we headed to the starting area. As we got close, I realized I was cutting things closer than I should, and barely made it to where I wanted to be for the start (the 3:30 finish time group). So, the race starts, and with the rain gone, I stashed my hat inside my shirt - another lesson in abrasion…). I realize people want to start towards the front, but walkers? Come on, if you are going to clog things up, at least have the decency to walk in single file for awhile. The pack quickly steadied, and I felt good. Then came the long climb starting around mile 5. I decided not to push too hard, and let the 3:30 group pull ahead. Jeez, when does this climb end? Around mile 8, I started feeling a pain in the ball of my right foot. Huh. Then there were more hills. Where were these things on the course profile??? How did I not see this? These short hills are steep! Push on. By mile 16, I was really hungry, and thinking of a big, heavy meal (damn those useless pancakes!). It was getting hard to maintain a high cadence (170-180 steps/minute). By mile 20, my foot was really hurting, and my pace tanked. I ended up walking parts of miles 23-25. I lost around twenty minutes in the last six miles (I was 2:45 at mile 20).

It felt really good to finish, and I learned a few critical lessons. Where you sleep the night before a race does matter. Consider dinner options before you go. Pancakes are not a good pre-race dinner. My foot make have clobbered me, but energy was also a major factor. When parking, find a spot closer to the finish, instead of the start - walking two additional miles after poor marathon finish is not much fun, especially when you are starving.

Oh, my finish? 4:03:04


mile time HR
1 7:50 155
2 7:51 159
3 8:00 164
4 7:55 164
5 7:59 165
6 8:16 164
7 9:09 163
8 8:39 162
9 8:23 161
10 8:20 160
11 7:25 160
12 8:44 160
13 8:21 158
14 8:34 157
15 8:28 160
16 8:41 159
17 8:44 157
18 9:16 157
19 9:12 154
20 10:30 148
21 10:41 142
22 10:08 145
23 11:24 134
24 14:53 119
25 13:14 123
26 10:40 140
0.2 1:52 155

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five days

Only five days to The Flying Pig Marathon. Actually, in five days, I'll already be back home. I am as ready as I'm going to be. I did not put in as much time as I should, and I neglected doing as much core work as I needed (I hope that doesn't bite me again), but I feel good, and want to test some different strategies. I am also going to try out running with music this week. Normally, I cannot listen to anything while running. I like the silence, and music messes up my cadence. The silence also allows me to tune out. But, I'm going to try something different. I borrowed an ipod shuffle, and have a short playlist of music that may be beneficial later on when my leg turnover/cadence starts to lag (I try to keep 180 steps/minute).

Oh, I am runner #3144. You can get text messages of my progress during the race by signing up here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What the hell is wrong with some people??

I work in a manufacturing facility. A very large manufacturing facility. It's about 1.8 million square feet, and when I started over fifteen years ago there were 4,000 employees. With our reduced volume and products, we are now down to around 800 employees, which is still a decent sample size for the general population.

I must preface this by saying most of the people are hard-working and dedicated, and want to simply do their jobs and go home. That said, I think the statistics for strangeness at my place is a bit skewed, as there have been an inordinate number of folks (I have seen and heard about) who have done things or been part of activities that I just don't see anywhere else. I mean nowhere. Yes, there have been the people with alcohol or substance abuse problems. There have been the relationship problems. I have known some really strange people. I have seen and heard things that I cannot share with just anyone, because repeating these stories and forbid it, laughing about some of them, reflects on me.

Those of you who have heard the tales know of what I speak. How many of you know men who have had their [ex] wives throw all of their clothing on the front lawn? Check. Or brought it to work to throw out in front of the guard shack? Check. Or have been shot at by them? Check. Convicted arsonists? Check. Felons convicted of attempted murder? Check. Church "preachers" who steal from the company? Clans of brothers working together who I cannot begin to describe in a way that would do justice, but suffice it to say in one case brothers 2&3 refuse to speak with brother 1 because he had killed brother 4 with a 2x4 (no murder conviction (aggravated assault), because it took over a year for him to die). I had to call the police when he showed up at work one morning. People who live at work, because at 60+ years of age they thought they had scored big by getting a woman half their age to move in, only to have her then move her biker buddies in and shove him out. I didn't even blink. Lunatic hotheads who everyone is sure will someday kill someone? Check, check, check, and check. In fact, he did eventually kill someone, and though he shot a sheriff while en route to kill his ex-wife and mother-in-law, he was finally apprehended less than a mile from their location. There are so many things I could share. Many of us talked about compiling the stuff for a book, though nobody would believe it.

What is my point? Strange things don't surprise or shock me. Something happened today that changed this. In one of the men's restrooms in my area, we had a "poop bandit." I don't mean a thief, but someone who pooped on the floor, walked through it, leaving poopie footprint tracks everywhere, then smeared it on the wall as some sort of poopgraffiti or "poopart" (does this make him "Poocasso?"). Now, as a self-described poopaphobe, I am especially horrified. Who does this kind of thing? Is this an angry person, quietly plotting away day after day ("They'll all pay! Hmm hmm hmmmm")? Or did he just have to go, and think, "This seems like a good idea!" Unbelievable. I used to use this bathroom to wash my hands (as a germophobe, I rarely use toilets away from home). Now I can no longer use it, as there is no amount of cleaning, short of acid and steam, that will make it remotely usable for me. Thank goodness I wasn't the person who found it! I would probably be in a corner somewhere, catatonic and drooling or sucking my thumb.

I guess I'm just venting. I just had to get it out, lest I go find a bathroom somewhere...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting Older

As we get older, things change. Of course, everything around us changes, but I'm talking about us as individuals. We are more mature (though many people I know would dispute that I act like an adult), and physically we gain and lose various abilities. In fact, I'm really not the same person I was twenty years ago. I'm pretty sure all of my cells have been replaced with new cells.

I digress. On Saturday I learned about motion sickness. I have always been immune to it, with only three exceptions: I was spinning excessively on a ride at the State Fair when I was nineteen, and had a hint of the feeling beyond dizziness. Then again in 1987, while in San Francisco for spring Break. My friends Jerry, Dave and I drove out towards Napa Valley, and we stopped at a small airport (near Sears Point Raceway) that offered biplane rides. Jerry had done this previously, and I was all for it. The "menu" had choices: The Scenic Ride, Thrill Ride, and The Kamikaze. I chose the kamikaze. After paying my money, I went to the airplane, which was already running. My safety briefing consisted of this: "Don't touch anything. If you have to get out, pull this [seat belt release], pull this [another belt release], get out, and pull this [parachute rip cord]." I keenly awaited the coming maneuvers as we climbed to 3,000'. Once there, we started doing loops, spins, dives, more spins, rolls, and some really violent spins (tail yawed heavily while spinning). As all of our maneuvers were conducted between 2,000'-3,000', I quickly realized the parachute was useless. The spins were such that I would never be able to get out of the plane (say, in the event of a catastrophic failure), and if I could, would be batted like a baseball. And if the flight was controlled enough that I could get out, there wouldn't be a need, as the pilot could just land it. Anyway, after my flight, I wasn't sick, but I wasn't quite right. My equilibrium was off, and I had to lie down in the car for a bit while we drove to wherever it was we were going.

The third time was in 1991. I was in San Diego, on my way to Hawaii, where I stopped in to see a buddy from Airborne School. He was an Air Force dude (commissioned about the same time as me), and had recently finished his initial training as well. He was training to fly F15's (which would be sooo cool). He had just completed an aerobatics course (for fun), and was eager to show me what he had learned. We rented an airplane (rated for this endeavor) and went flying over the bay in San Diego. The experience was similar to what I'd had a few years earlier, and I wasn't sick, just not right with the world.

All of my life, I have enjoyed rides that spin, roll, and turn you over: thrill rides. The Son of Beast is the most violent roller coaster I have ridden, but I have no qualms about eating chili fries from Skyline Chili while waiting on line for the ride.

Saturday was something new. I learned I can do something, and in no time go beyond "not right with the world" to the realm of "Oh my, I must stop this now." So what was it? What was the diabolical device that caused me to reflect on my age and realize that I too can be vulnerable to a motion-related issue?

A commercial grade tire swing…On a children's playground. Yes, forty-three years of motion, and a playground brings me down. Yes, this is the actual swing. Those are not my kids. I found the picture someone had posted on flickr. This swing is a large construction grade tire, with a bearing and swivel at the top. The bearings must be of NASA grade near frictionless ceramic type, because it spins so smoothly, and with the mass of the large tire, seems to have perpetual motion, as the tire spinning does not slow a bit once started. I spun Sam around like crazy, and he merely got dizzy, wanting to spend over thirty minutes playing on this evil device. I figured I'd give it a try. Sam started spinning me, and in less than two minutes, I was brought to my end. I had to get off. I had to maintain my composure. I was hot and sweating. I was dizzy. I felt ill. I had such a headache. I had to sit. What just happened? Holy schnikes! Stay cool for the boy. Now he wants me to chase him. Running after him, every impact of my foot is compounding what I just felt. After leaving the park, and returning home, I had to take a nap to shake it off.

I have always wanted to somehow get a flight in a fighter jet. I used to think I might fare better than many, though I might well get sick. Now, given the opportunity, I'm pretty sure I would have an experience similar to the one described in this funny article from Sports Illustrated.

I still wouldn't pass it up.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rotten SOB

Somebody stole my stuff. I mean, he cut the lock off my locker, took my iPod from my coat, as well as my gym bag. I say "he" because this was in the men's locker room at work.

I never considered the value of my running gear, as running is supposed to be the least expensive athletic activity. Right. What one fails to consider is the value of the things that you accumulate over time. It isn't just a $90 pair of running shoes. I had three sets of clothes in the bag, as the weather has been varying, and I didn't know what I would need; I had clothes for 22 degrees or below, 50 or below, and warmer (or workout clothes). Each "outfit" is not inexpensive, as those familiar with the gear understand. The running jackets, light and heavyweight compression pants, Zoot shorts, Mizuno gloves are not cheap. And then it gets worse. I bought the shoes ten days ago. There' s the Suunto heart rate monitor, with associated PODs, my RoadID, and especially my custom orthotics. I have had them about fifteen months, and had put about 1,300 miles on them. There was plenty of useful life left for them. Those were $400. So, losing the bag is significant.

And with the exception of the iPod, and maybe the watch, the rest is completely useless to anyone but me. What a hassle. My level of aggravation is off the chart, and I should probably go to confession for all of the evil thoughts I had. I think I just used a year's worth of obscenities (vocal and mental). For as much as I curse, I think I borrowed from 2010-2014.

I'm done venting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beware of the Doghouse

I really enjoyed this. This link has a clearer version than the embedded video, but links eventually go bad. Funny thing is, I can see this happening to me (what's wrong with giving a kitchen appliance as a gift?). I'm a little smarter than that, I think, but the idea that one can actually get the "wrong" gift for someone can be difficult to understand. Yes, I understand there are inappropriate gifts for people, but would a new washer and dryer be such a terrible gift? I'm not going to test it out, but I guess I look at things differently. I am happy to get anything, whether it be something I want or need, or something that just saves me time and effort. I would routinely ask for socks and underwear as a Christmas gift; not because I really like that stuff, but because I will eventually need them, and me not having to go to the store to get them is a gift. I hate shopping.

Anyway, enjoy the video.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Change in Plans

Due to schedule issues it looks like I will not be able to run in either the Illinois Marathon or the Country Music Marathon. I had actually considered running in both, but my rocky start this year makes this a somewhat foolish goal. That said, neither will fit in at this point, so I am looking at The Flying Pig Marathon on Sunday May 3 in Cincinnati. It has good ratings, and the course looks forgiving. It's also close enough to make it a day trip. I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope it doesn't interfere with anything.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Still Funny

This may be a few years old, but I still think it's funny. There were a few different commercials, which you can see at YouTube.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring Planning

Okay, on to a different topic. I have really backed off from running the past couple of months. At least the lower back pain is gone. I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago, and had a nice ten-mile run one day, and a horrible 3.5 mile run the next. What I am trying to do now is develop a sound training plan. I need to start getting the mileage back up, but also incorporate speed work. I also have to concentrate on core strength, the likely culprit causing the two+ months of back pain. Having a plan will make it much easier to be motivated to get up early in the mornings again. It will also help me to get back to a better weight for running. To those who say I was too thin over the summer, I'll say I have gained ten pounds since August. That isn't a good thing, as the weight is merely in the form of padding… Once I get back into a regimen, I'm sure things will change. Since each pound of "extra" weight can equal a minute added to a marathon, and given I'm considering a training plan to get down to 3:20, there is easy time to be shed.
As I mentioned before, I'd like to run the Country Music Marathon at the end of April. I think running the Illinois Marathon in early April is too aggressive, and likely will instead run the Sam Costa Half Marathon at the end of March. I'll be more prepared to decide once I'm back on track. For over a year, any time I went running, it was always for at least 40-45 minutes. Any less and it wasn't worth getting sweaty. Now I have to be cautious about ramping up the time and distance, as every injury seems to come down to adding too much, too fast. I'm going to start with my training plan from Dec 2007, and build from there. At least I'm not starting at zero.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Somebody Has To Pay

Now that the coronation is over, perhaps we can focus on what is happening around us. The government has become too big a force in our lives. Look around. The bailout of the financial industry has in effect nationalized the banking industry. Companies are lining up for "free" money. People are depending on government to "fix" things. What??? Try to find one example where government has fixed anything. How about where government has used public funds efficiently? Ronald Reagan used to say, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" The financial industy's mess occurred because of government meddling. There are plenty of articles about it, but why do people think giving more control to the people who put us on our current path will somehow make it better? Is Medicare a good example of good, efficient use of taxpayer dollars? How about Social Security (the grandest Ponzi scheme in history)?

I have voted in the last six presidential elections, and in three my choice did not prevail. Two of those had horrible candidates at best, while the other four were marginal. I'll support whoever wins the election, including Obama, but not policies with which I may disagree. It seems the population centers of the country want more big government, but who pays for it? Government gives away money or spends it only by taking it forcibly from someone else. Someone has to pay. Just as bad, the treasury has borrowed all it can, and now just prints money, which just makes what little I have worth that much less.

The people who seem to gripe the most are those who don't even pay federal taxes. Their idea of paying taxes is of the federal withholding from each paycheck. They then file their 1040 to get it all back, though in their mind they think they paid taxes. In reality, they should change their exemptions to reduce the interest-free loan they are making to the federal government. And many get more back then they paid. I'm sorry, but if you "pay" $500 in federal taxes, and get a $5,000 tax return check after filing (yes, Earned Income Credit), you have no business complaining about how much you "pay" in federal taxes.

I have seen comments from people about how terrible the last eight years have been ("I have awoken fron an eight-year nightmare."). Okay, my worldview is different from everyone else. But a nightmare? I'd really like to hear a few examples of a nightmare, and then understand how one can directly attribute the cause to George Bush. Perhaps a military family can make a connection, but I just don't get it. I think there is a more direct connection to the Congress, to which I say, "Throw the bums out!" But the level of contempt for George Bush is ridiculous. He didn't veto anything until 2006. There were many pieces of legislation that I think should have been sent back, and most were spending related. Bush gave the big-government crowd who have now elected Obama just what they wanted - more big government. The media complained about the cost of the 2005 inauguration, yet yesterday's made the 2005 event look like a child's birthday party. Both are outrageous wastes of taxpayer money. The media double standard is sickening. What's wrong is wrong, regardless of whom or what party is responsible.
Where is The Constitution in this? Doesn't anyone care about it? I think there are too many people who haven't even read it, or understand it. The Federal government exceeds it's Constitutional authority on many things, because we allow it. I'm finished ranting.

So what now? People want more government. Somebody's got to pay.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What to do when your best isn't good enough

What do you when you try your best, whether it be in a race or some other athletic activity, or even in life in general, and it just isn't good enough? Sometimes you may find you thought you were giving 100%, when in reality it may have only been 95%. Other times you may have truly given 100%. During the activity, can you really tell the difference, or does it depend on the situation?

According to my VO2 max testing (two different testing protocols), I have a potential to run a sub-three hour marathon (one test actually had me closer to a 2:20). Interesting. How cool would that be? I guess I could get there if I didn't require any income and could simply train full-time. Not to mention the will to get there. I think I'll be satisfied if I can get to 3:20. Of course that is likely based on statistical projections, but I can't help but wonder what might have been, had I understood it and not only had the drive to get there, but a coach and an understanding of how to train for it.

Upon reflection, if you think you had more to give, you can use the information to dig deeper the next time. But what if you had been giving 100%, but the results are unsatisfactory? You can change the way you train, change behaviors, and work smarter/harder to improve. But what do you do if that still doesn't cut it? Keep working to find a way around/over the wall? Accept it? Choose a different wall? Of course it depends on priorities, time, and will, but what if your best still doesn't cut it?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's Next?

So, what next? I'm considering the Illinois Marathon and the Country Music Marathon, and may do both, though the three-week recovery time in between races may not be long enough for me. We'll see. I'd really like to do another fundraiser for a destination-based event, though I'm not sure what organizations are out there that do this (besides Team in Training). I enjoyed the experience and it was for a good cause. For now, I'm just trying to get back in the saddle after a couple of low activity months. A few days after the Monumental Marathon I experienced back pain that hasn't yet disappeared, and piriformis issues that caused numbness in my leg. I'm looking forward to getting back on the wagon, as I know I can shave some time off my run. I think if I can get back to where I was at the last marathon, I can reasonably run a 3:34. If I put some quality time into training, and get some serious speedwork, I can get to a 3:20, though it will take a serious breakthrough to get there.