Sunday, March 28, 2010

7 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, March 22nd 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike. It was late at night before I had a chance to get on the bike. 20 minutes was all I could muster before I almost fell asleep.

Tuesday, March 23rd 2010: 3.6 miles @ 9:43 per mile pace. I woke up early to go to the track with Jackson. Too early. But I am tough. I have will-power. And we got as far as the car. It was cold. It was dark. It was windy. So I made an executive decision: cancel the workout. Unsurprisingly, I didn't find any resistance from Jackson.

That night I ended up going out late after everyone went to bed. I'm sure it was exactly zero degrees warmer. And zero percent less windy. I was thankful to get home to my warm bed.

Wednesday, March 24th 2010: 6 miles @ 10:59 per mile pace. I did a jaunt through Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Following this, I erased every shred of healthy behavior by consuming a Big Mac combo meal from McDonalds.

Thursday, March 25th 2010: 20 minutes on exercise bike. Yet another late night. This week really tested my ability to fit exercise into a crazy life. Even if it meant making little sacrifices - like a little bit of sleep.

Friday, March 26th 2010: Rest. And shockingly little junk food. (I made up for it after my run on Saturday: Chicken Basket with Fries and a Mint Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen. I believe I died and went to heaven.)

Saturday, March 27th 2010: 17 miles @ 12:15 per mile pace. One of the hardest runs of my life.

Mel and I decided to run the course of the upcoming Hurricane Half Marathon on April 24th. The new route starts at Sand Hollow Reservoir. I brought my camera when I drove around to drop water bottles before the run. This is near the beautiful start of the race:

A really bad thing happened before we started running: the wind picked up. But this wasn't your average wind. This was Chuck Norris-esque wind. The kind of wind where you have to look out for low-flying trains. I really wasn't sure I could do it. But I knew I couldn't go home and do 17 miles on the treadmill. I would surely go postal. This picture was moments before the run as Mel and I sat in the car considering calling it quits:

But we forged ahead. The first mile was actually easy because we were running with the wind. But then things got ugly when we turned to head into the wind. Earlier in the day I reached an area of the road where you are running between a sand dune, and the sand still blows onto the road.

It was a different picture an hour later when we were running here. Sand was blowing so hard that you couldn't see in front of you. There was a bike race going on as well. Six or seven minutes later when we got through the sand dune we turned around to see the bikers going through the sand storm. It was a surreal thing to behold. Out of nowhere a bike would emerge from a swirling red cloud. We had sand in our eyes. Ears. Nose. Teeth. Everywhere.

Things I Learned From The Wind:
1) If you don't have sunglasses, you best be learning how to run with your eyes closed.
2) You must be acutely aware of wind direction when blowing a snot rocket. Otherwise you will be wearing a snot rocket.

As we were heading up a ridiculously steep mile-long hill (which our friends have named "Nemesis") I started laughing, mainly to keep myself from crying. The wind was howling so loud that we couldn't hear each other talk, let alone our mp3 players. It took tremendous effort just to get one foot in front of the other.

The website said the wind was 33 miles per hour with gusts much stronger. If you took my picture during this run, I SWEAR to you my face would look like this (minus the creepy moustache):

Mel ran 10 miles then I did 7 more. I was so grateful to have her there with me in the midst of the suffering. She is a trooper.

By the end I wasn't feeling real swell. I felt completely exhausted and my stomach was not thrilled with the amount of Gatorade and Gu packets I had ingested. But I survived, and I think every run I ever do will seem easier now after this experience.

"Our sport becomes not just what we do but an integral symbol - on all levels - of who we are."
~Gloria Averbuch

Sunday, March 21, 2010

8 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, March 15th 2010: 30 minutes on exercise bike. Seriously, if we didn't have the television right in front of the exercise bike, the boredom may cause me to slit my wrists.

Tuesday, March 16th 2010: 7 miles @ 10:28 per mile pace. After a long day at work I was itching to get outside. I headed to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and wore myself out going up and down the hills. Running on trails has positively saved my knees. And since there's nobody around, you don't have to worry about holding your bladder until a port-o-potty.

Wednesday, March 17th 2010: 30 minutes on exercise bike. Watching basketball got me through it.

Thursday, March 18th 2010: 4 miles @ 10:43 per mile pace. This was an early morning run and my knee surprisingly didn't bother me too much.

Friday, March 19th 2010: Rest. Pasta. Gatorade. Chocolate-covered toffee. And a FAT oatmeal raisin cookie from Maverik.

Saturday, March 20th 2010: 15 miles @ 11:03 per mile pace. I headed toward the Sky Mountain Airport which is a regular route for me. This was my farthest run since the marathon almost 6 months ago. And the fact that I ran 15 miles considering my recent knee injury is nothing short of a miracle.

But even more important than the distance is the fact that I actually felt GOOD (good!) for 15 miles. It was almost freakish. I've been so used to feeling like this after my runs:

My body held up so well that my last two miles were faster than all the others. Crazy. I attribute the success of the run to one thing: my walk breaks. I was strict with running five minutes then walking one minute, whether I felt like it or not. This helped me never get to the point of feeling exhausted and it gave me an easily achievable goal - running for only five minutes didn't seem too tough.

For anyone looking to run longer distances, check out Jeff Galloway's website. This guy is no quack. He's been on the Olympic team and held distance records. He knows his stuff. And he's an advocate of the run/walk method. His website will give you all the details. I am a believer.

With a few miles left I saw my friend Tom. We talked for a second, then as we went our different directions he said "Go big!" That gave me a good push to the end. The rest of the run was fairly uneventful. Except for two big dogs who thought it was funny to taunt me by coming up to me and barking like crazy. I prayed that I wouldn't have to use my ninja skillz on them.

This is the first time in months that I'm actually feeling confident with my running. The Ogden Marathon is less than two months away and I'm excited for the challenge.

"I run because it's so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought."
--Arthur Blank

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

9 Weeks To Marathon

We had the opportunity to spend the week with good friends in HAWAII!!!!! Mel's family thought we were crazy planning to run in Hawaii. They haven't been able to wrap their heads around the fact that we actually think running is fun.

Monday, March 15th 2010: An absolutely horrific flight to Hawaii. Me and airplanes are not friends. I don't enjoy being locked in fetal position for five hours while breathing other people's air. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 16th 2010: 3.5 miles. Mel and I ran around our resort at Ko Olina on Oahu with our friend Darin. I was worn out from travel the two days prior so it was a little rough.

Later in the day we hiked to the top of Diamond Head, an extinct (fortunately) volcano. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Here is a view of Diamond Head from the ocean.

Wednesday, March 10th 2010: Ice cream. Macadamia nuts. Shaved ice. Pulled pork. Pineapple. Ice cream. I love Hawaii.

Thursday, March 11th 2010: 3.5 miles @ 11:18 per mile pace. Mel and I ran around the resort again and I felt better.

Friday, March 12th 2010: Pulled pork. Pineapple. Ice cream. Are you sensing a theme here?

Saturday, March 13th 2010: 10 miles @ 11:26 per mile pace. Mel joined me again. Let me just tell you - she rules. She is preparing for the Ogden Half Marathon in a few months and has been training so diligently. I really admire her.

This was one of the coolest places I've ever done. It's easy to be happy when you are running along the ocean amid rows of palm trees.

The run was incredible. We also had an added challenge of dodging the stray cats (we counted 12). They seem to enjoy the jogging path in the mornings also. It was the perfect ending to a great week in Hawaii.

Friday, March 5, 2010

10 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, March 1st 2010: 30 minutes on exercise bike. My first attempt was to run on the treadmill but my knee had other ideas. Fine, be that way you dumb knee. I didn't want to run on the treadmill anyway.

Tuesday, March 2nd 2010: 4 miles at the track. My knee still wasn't feeling the love. I could go about 100 meters (one fourth of the way around the track) before it started to ache. So I decided I would run 100 meters, then walk 100 meters and got 4 miles in.

But you know what's crazy? By walking every 100 meters, I still averaged a 11:41/mile pace. I figured out that at that pace, I could walk every 100 meters in the marathon and still finish in 5 hours! Not that I'm planning to walk every 100 meters, but it was comforting to know that I could and still finish in a respectable 5 hours.

Wednesday, March 3rd 2010: 4 miles @ 9:53 per mile pace. I headed to Confluence Park with Tom to scout out a course for the upcoming Hurricane Trails River Run on July 3rd. The scenery is amazing and the hills are a fun challenge.

At one point I was huffing and puffing and sweating gallons. I glanced over at Tom who looked like he had exerted about as much energy as it would take to make Ramen noodles. I had a pleasant exhaustion.

Thursday, March 4th 2010: Rest. And cherry chocolate cake.

Friday, March 5th 2010: 13 miles @ 11:17 per mile pace. I drove a few minutes up the road toward Apple Valley to get to an area where I would have a long dirt road. For you natives, I headed toward Diamond Ranch Academy.

The weather was PERFECT. The temperature was PERFECT. You couldn't ask for anything better. And the scenery was incredible. There were many points where I had to stop and drink in the vistas all around me.

I took lots of walk breaks. I was strict about walking every few minutes whether I felt like I needed to or not. I decided that my goal for this run was to end feeling good. I wanted to finish feeling like I could run another mile if I wanted to.

The frequent walk breaks helped tremendously. There were sections where I was sore and tired but I never felt exhausted. It felt really good to take walk breaks because I wanted to instead of walking because an injury forced me to. Another thing that helped is that I didn't look at my watch once. Not once! It prevented me from feeling stressed that I wasn't going fast enough.

I was so happy to finish the run while accomplishing my goal: my body felt good enough that it could have run another mile. I have been converted to Jeff Galloway's run/walk method. I think me and running are friends again.

"Make friends with pain and you will never be alone."
~ Ken Clouber