Saturday, January 30, 2010

15 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, January 25th 2010: Rest.

Tuesday, January 26th 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike. The only purpose was to help justify the inordinate number of cookies I consumed throughout the day. My self-control with junk food has completely vanished.

Wednesday, January 27th 2010: 4 miles @ 12:30 minute/mile pace. This was positively the worst run I've had in a long time. I felt out of gas. My knees felt like Chuck Norris bashed them with his nun chucks. My feet decided they wanted in on the action and decided to shoot with pain. I took 13 walk breaks over the 4 miles.

It was discouraging. It feels like my ambition far exceeds my physical ability. If I may use the mountains of southern Utah as a visual aid, you will see my ability since starting to run a year ago. Progress came quickly. Hard work produced results. But I think I've reached a plateau. My body doesn't seem to be cooperating quite as well.

Thursday, January 28th 2010: Rest. (With a dash of feeling sorry for myself.)

Friday, January 29th 2010: 15 minutes on exercise bike.

Saturday, January 30th 2010: 8 miles @ 10:40/mile pace. I drove to the dirt road leading to the LaVerkin overlook for my run. After the first mile I strongly considered going back home because it was SO cold. I stuck it out though and it started to warm up toward the end.

I got to the overlook, then headed back to the car, but that was only around 3.5 miles. I explored a few side trails, then ran back to the overlook again to get the whole 8 miles. Here's a view from the top.

The whole road is either a steady uphill or steady downhill. My knees and feet were still sore, but nowhere near what I felt on Wednesday. Just to make sure we're clear - it was freezing. My under-nose region was raw from wiping snot with my sweatshirt. I am hoping that over the next week Chuck Norris will leave my knees alone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Painter's Half Marathon 2010

January 23, 2010: St. George Half Marathon (Painter's Half Marathon) - 13.1 miles in 2 hours 39 minutes!

This was my 3rd half marathon and I was nervous in the days leading up to the race. Mainly because it had rained non-stop. And the weather report said it was supposed t0 be 33 degrees with snow at start time. That sounded, hmm, whats the word,......miserable.

Shortly before leaving for the race, it was still so dark, overcast, and foggy outside. This was the view out our front door. Miserable.

We saw some of our neighborhood running buddies at the Dixie Center before the start of the race. Everyone was packed in there to stay warm and prevent runny noses from turning into icicles.

Miraculously, the weather started to clear up before the start of the race. It was still cold outside but not the bone-chilling cold that makes you wish your life would end. Actually, the weather and temperature were absolutely perfect. Perfect.

I told Mel months ago that I would run Painter's together with her. This was our first race where we ran with each other. It was fun to have someone with me the whole time.

I LOVE doing races. I feel a kinship with all the other crazies who have allowed the pain and triumph of running to become part of their lives. My knees started to hurt over the last few miles and it started to feel like a buzz saw was slicing through my kneecaps. It wasn't bad enough to make me curl up in fetal position and cry like a school girl though.

This was the hardest of the three half marathons I have done because there were lots of uphill stretches throughout the course. But the scenery was amazing. The trail winds along the Virgin River, and I had to stop to take this picture with the temple in the background.

I really liked running with Mel. We did a little bit slower pace than I usually do, so it was nice to never feel out of breath or worn out. It is awesome to still feel strong at the end of the race instead of feeling like hyenas ate your muscles for dinner.

Around mile 9 we arrived at an awesome water station. In addition to drinks, they had donuts, hard candy, pretzels, and gummy bears. Awesome. Mel grabbed a handful of gummy bears. I started laughing because I remembered Kristin's marathon story. She said she got gummy bears at a race once also. But then realized that some people apply Vaseline in "nether regions" to prevent chaffing......and probably used those same hands to dig into the bowl of gummy bears. I was giggling as I told Mel this story. She promptly launched a gummy bear right out of her mouth. Good times. Good times.

We finally saw the finish line and finished strong. We averaged a 12:12/mile pace. We held hands and raised them up in the air as we crossed the finish line. I felt so thankful to have her there. I felt thankful that we had that experience together. It was an amazing, challenging, difficult, inspiring, painful, and rewarding experience. The pride and happiness you feel after accomplishing something like that is hard to describe. Moments like today make me happy to be alive.

Mel's Painter's Half Marathon Report

Here is Mel's report of the 2010 Painter's Half Marathon

I was worried. I was real worried. My training got interrupted by a foot injury taking me out of running for about 5 weeks. I started running again one week before the big day, the longest run being 6.5 miles.

The morning of the race came with fog and a light mist of rain. Half of the Hurricane 8th Ward & many other friends met at the Dixie Center for the start of the race. It was nice to talk with one another & get pumped up. I saw one of my friends from work that is just getting into running. He was running his first 5K. The smile on his face was priceless.

Ok, time to start the race. Cory & I moved toward the back because we weren’t trying to break any records. The first couple of miles felt pretty good. We started out slow as to not be completely burned out by the time we finished (at least that was the plan). Just after the first aid station we came upon two distinct people. One was a speed walker and the other was this bigger obnoxious man in a sick fluorescent green wife beater tank top. I told Cory they could not beat us. We played the yo-yo game for miles. We would pass them & they would pass us. It was starting to get ridiculous.

One of the times we passed them up this ginormous hill & at the top one of the people directing traffic said “Hey that’s Cory Reese. He is an amazing piano player”. It makes me proud to be married to such an amazing guy. So back to the guys we were playing tag with. The one in the green wife beater had stopped at the bathroom so we passed him and went around a little loop. When we came around the loop there he was coming out of the bathroom & do you know what he did? He CHEATED! Instead of going around the loop he just went around the bathroom & met up with us. This went on for a couple more miles.

By the time I reached mile 7 I was starting to feel it. My hip was sore, my legs were weak. I gained some motivation when we started seeing some of our friends coming back towards the finish line. Then I realized we still had 5 more miles to get back to where they were which was mile 12. We have some crazy fast runner friends! My least favorite part of the run was the Bloomington loop. It was not my friend. It just seemed like it was an uphill battle the entire loop. It wasn’t steep; it was just a constant slow upgrade.

Towards the end of the loop there was another aid station that had candy, gummy bears, pretzels, etc… So I took a couple gummy bears & started chewing them up. Cory ruined it for me when he told me a story about an article that he had read about this similar aid station & that the girl passed on the gummy bears because she thought about where everybody’s sweaty hands had been. Out came the chewed up gummy bears in projectile vomiting fashion.

We were almost done. Every muscle in my body was aching. Cory & I crossed the finish line hand in hand with a time of 2:39. My only goal was to finish without injury, which I did, but I also beat my Bryce Canyon time on a harder course so I was proud of myself for that. I want to thank Cory for running with me even if I made him be last place in his age division. He is a great motivator & I love him so much! Bring it on Ogden half!

16 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, January 18th 2010: 6 miles @ 11:31/mile pace. Mel and I started the run with Jackson who ran his first mile ever (see story HERE). I ran the first mile with the FiveFingers. The FiveFingers are like wearing a flashing sign that says "Look How Big Of A Running Geek I Am!" I'm okay with it though. I've had plenty of other experience looking like a geek.

Tuesday, January 19th 2010: 40 minutes on exercise bike. The epitome of boredom.

Wednesday, January 20th 2010: 4 miles @ 8:35/mile pace. Ouch. I went as fast as I could go for 4 miles. It was a significant challenge to prevent my lunch from becoming yard art. Thankfully no food ended up on the sidewalk. But...ouch. It was a really, really good ouch though. I was proud of myself. Ouch.

Thursday, January 21st 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike.

Friday, January 22nd 2010: Rest. Carbo-loading included 3 pieces of toast and hot chocolate for breakfast, 2 frozen burritos for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner. And a ridiculous amount of oatmeal raisin cookies. Mmm. Don't mind my drool.

Saturday, January 23rd 2010: Painter's Half Marathon!! Read the full race story HERE!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Mile

Last week I read an excellent article by Marc Parent from the Newbie Chronicles in Runner’s World. Parent’s writing is so funny and so true. Click HERE to read the article.

He wrote about his seven year old son running his first mile, and the trophy they got for him. We thought that was a cool idea and told Jackson that we’d get him a trophy when he could run his first mile without stopping.

Jackson was instantly ready for the challenge. So we headed out in the brisk January air for his first effort. As he chugged along, I thought about the Little Engine That Could. He didn’t whine or complain, and seemed to have fun testing his limits. He finished with rosy red cheeks and a big smile.

Gas to drive to the trophy store….…$3. Personalized metal trophy……..$15. The sense of accomplishment in your child…….priceless.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

17 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, January 11th 2010: 5 miles @ 10:30/mile pace. My body didn't feel so swell during this run. Lately my focus has been on getting some running done instead of pace. Curse my knees.

Tuesday, January 12th 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike.

Wednesday, January 13th 2010: 9 miles @ 10:38/mile pace. I wanted to get in one semi-long run before the Painters Half Marathon next week. The run actually went okay, except for one slight problem.....I ate at Arby's about an hour before running.

I'll be the first to admit - this was arguably the finest meal that has ever entered my esophagus. Oh, sweet glory. The roast beef sandwich. The scrumptious curly fries. The heavenly mint shake. It was bliss.

Until I had the pleasure of running 9 miles with a gut-load of trans-fat. The strain to keep roast beef from hurling back onto the sidewalk was a challenge.

Thursday, January 14th 2010: I had an appointment with my sports medicine doctor, Dr. Millward to get my quad checked out. I figured two and a half months of pain was enough to warrant a chat with the MD. He was relatively sure that I'd survive, and said it's likely micro-tears in the muscle. He also confirmed that my knee issues were related to the IT bands.

The IT band is a band of tissue that goes from the hip down to the bottom of the knee. With repeated motions (like running), it can get tight or inflamed and cause pain on the outside of the knees. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is pretty common with runners. Grrr.

Friday, January 15th 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike. Fascinating.

Saturday, January 16th 2010: 6.4 miles @ 12:25/mile pace. I took Mel on the Desert Reserve trail which was fun. She decided that she is going to do the Painters Half Marathon next week also. We registered months ago, but she started having foot problems and thought she would be out of the race.

I promised her months ago that I would run it with her, so we'll keep with that plan. I'm guessing we'll do the run/walk method to make sure she doesn't re-aggravate her foot issues.

I can't guarantee how fast we'll run. I can't guarantee that I won't question my sanity for running another half marathon. But I CAN guarantee that I won't eat at Arby's before the race.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm In Love

I'm in love. With my wife. And my kids. And this new hand-held water bottle I got for Christmas.

This Nathan bottle holds about 20 ounces, has a comfortable, secure, and adjustable hand strap, and a pouch big enough for a Gu packet or two.

I also have a water belt, which is very comfortable....until you actually start running. Then...the water starts sloshing around, it hurts my hips, and I start to feel like a pack mule.

The hand held bottle, on the other hand, feels like it was formed in the womb with me. I love you my water bottle. And wife. And kids.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

18 Weeks To Marathon

I took it easy this week because the outsides of my knees still hurt and my right hamstring may be getting worse instead of better. Grrr. I'm not so much worried about being ready for the Ogden Marathon in May. I'm more worried about the St. George Painter's Half Marathon coming up in two weeks. I'm realistic that I'm not going to be breaking any speed records. My goals for Painter's are 1) Not die, 2) To finish, and 3) Do it with as little pain as possible.

Despite the rest week, I did get a bit of physical activity. It is interesting how the freedom of running sometimes makes my mind wander: Why would anyone ever own a cat? How do they get the raspberry filling inside a Hostess raspberry-filled donut? Holy Moses. I almost sprained my ankle. Hair on toes is pretty gross. Do I smell bacon? Am I there yet? Why does everything that's "bad" taste so darn good? And on a serious note, how long will it take until gray hairs on my head outnumber black hairs?

Wednesday, January 6th 2010: 7.5 miles in 1 hour & 20 minutes. I went back to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and ran the same route as last week. (I took the kids back a few days later and got this photo.)

Saturday, January 9th 2010: 30 minutes on exercise bike + hiking around Confluence Park. I took Jackson and my good camera with me this time. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers Review

When reading the book Born To Run, I was completely stunned by the amount of research done on foot and knee injuries.....and how almost all of them can be tied back to our shoes.

If you think about it, that makes sense. When you run with shoes on, you strike the ground with your heel first, then roll the foot forward. On the other hand, when you run barefoot, you strike more toward the ball of your foot and you run lighter. The force of impact is much less.

I combined the overwhelming research in the book with an extensive Google search and found Vibram Five Fingers shoes as the perfect blend between running barefoot, and getting the protection of a running shoe. Do a Google search for reviews on Five Fingers and see for yourself.

So I ended up buying a pair. The KSO (Keep Stuff Out) model is best for running. The sole provides enough coverage to protect your feet from the brutality of running barefoot, but it is flexible and provides no arch or sole support (which is the purpose), so you re-learn how to run lighter and minimize the force of impact on each stride.

I'll be honest with you....I don't love them. Yet. They take a little getting used to. The only issue I have is that the seams feel a little like crumpled newspaper between your toes. But I think that will go away when I break them in more.

And I've tried to heed the advice to start off very slow with them. It takes a little time to get our feet used to running differently. With my frequent injuries and knee pain, I was willing to try something different. And I'm willing to have my feet look slightly strange.

So although I don't love my Five Fingers yet, I like them. And I think I'll love them very soon. I guarantee that after reading Born To Run, you'll be sold too. The reviews and research about decreasing running injuries can't be denied.

19 Weeks To Marathon

Wednesday, December 30th 2009: 4 miles at the track. I decided I'd see how my knees would hold up for speed training. This was my first speed workout at the track in many months. It was cold and snowing so I had the track to myself. I questioned my sanity.

The knees felt fair for the four 800's (twice around the track) that I did faster. My times were 3:34, 3:46, 3:57, and 4:02. It was really strange, but it felt really good to have a few fast bursts where my lungs were burning and my stomach struggled to keep the barf down. I didn't care to make a mess on the track.

Thursday, December 31st 2009: 1st Annual Beat The New Year 5k. Our running buddy Karrie set up a very informal, no-pressure, fun 5k around the neighborhood. It was the most enjoyable 5k I've ever run (stomach was never tempted to hurl Gatorade). We just jogged as a group of friends, and finished up with some donuts and hot chocolate.

Friday, January 1st 2010: 1 hour & 15 minutes of trail running. I decided I was letting my training calendar determine my running instead of how my body was feeling. So I left my watch at home to ensure I was enjoying the scenery instead of focusing on my pace.

I ventured behind our house to Confluence Park. I am truly ashamed to say that in the years we have lived here, I'd never left the pavement to go explore this area less than a mile behind the house.

The views were beautiful and amazing as I scampered along the Virgin River. I cursed myself for not bringing my camera. I promise I'll go back again soon to take some pictures for the site. I realized after a half hour that I had forgotten my mp3 player. I'm SO thankful I forgot.

Saturday, January 2nd 2010: 1 hour & 35 minutes of trail running. I headed out on another nearby trail in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve for my Saturday run. I thought the trails may be easier on my knees.

I can't describe how amazing this run was. The softer surface made my running almost painless. I cruised up hills and down hills and went fast for the whole time. I hadn't spent much time on these trails so I wanted to run everywhere I could and explore. I wanted to see where each trail led.

I again didn't take my watch, camera, or mp3 player. It was so fun to be out on trails by myself with nobody in sight. I went to the bathroom four times --- just because I could. Not being among neighborhoods and traffic was freeing.

On my way home I realized what an enormous difference the softer surface made. I had to run on pavement for the 1/2 mile back home. Going from soft trails to street made my knees hurt almost immediately. I couldn't believe how much more impact I felt with each step.

I will definitely be going back to these two areas, both for picture-taking and running. After being on these trails it makes me wish I never had to run on the road again.