Saturday, January 29, 2011

I May Have Seen A Ghost

Monday, January 24th 2011: 9 miles @ 10:21 minutes per mile pace. I honestly think I was half-asleep during this run. I know I went because my Garmin says I did. I know I got home right after my daughter woke up and she said I smelled like bacon. But I slept through everything else.

Tuesday, January 25th 2011: 5 miles @ 9:35 per mile pace. I did another 4 miles that night on the treadmill so that I could have two rest days before the Saturday long run. I read somewhere that an important part of training for an ultramarathon is to practice walking fast. So I did some of this on the treadmill. If it weren't for ESPN I would have been bored out of my ever loving mind.

Wednesday, January 26th 2011: 11 miles @ 10:29 minutes per mile pace. I ran on the dirt road near Diamond Ranch Academy. Unfortunately there were lots of cars that drove past in the first few miles and the road was uber-dusty so I'd estimate I consumed around 320 calories worth of dirt. Delicious. My contact lenses were uber-gritty.

I was in close proximity to the most cows I have ever seen on a run. They were everywhere in big herds. It goes without saying that I had to dodge lots of pies in the road. And I'm not talking the coconut cream kind.

Many of the cows were safely confined behind barbed wire:

But the majority of the bovine were in big herds uncomfortably close to me on the side of the road. I don't know why, but big black cows staring at me from a few feet away gives me the willies.

It was cold and windy. And if there are two things I hate, they are, in no particular order...cold...and....windy. And Cream of Mushroom soup. I hate that too.

I love my wife and children. I love my extended family and friends. I love junk food. I love the idea of Celine Dion going mute. Although what I didn't love was this hill in the middle of my run:

Thursday, January 27th 2011: Rest.

Friday, January 28th 2011: Casual 8 mile bike ride with Mel.

Saturday, January 29th 2011: 24 miles @ 11:29 minutes per mile pace. I left for my run at an inhumane hour of the morning (I didn't even see the sun until mile 18). The first four miles of the run were through neighborhoods but then I reached an uninhabited area with miles of empty fields. I again started to get the willies.

It was pitch black except for the 10 feet ahead of me that I could see with my head lamp. I had to keep my eyes on the road to make sure I didn't step in one of the many holes. Did I mention that it was pitch black? And then suddenly out of nowhere an old man appeared right in front of me. He didn't have a light and was taking a walk at this inhumane hour in the pitch black. I wondered if I saw a ghost.

I nearly needed a clean pair of pants.

You know the part in horror movies when the bad guy suddenly pops out from behind the door and everyone screams? Yep. It was exactly like that. The following is an actual picture I have taken of my view in the dark using my head lamp. Then I added a man similar to who I saw on my run:

I took regular walk breaks and kept my pace a little slower and was feeling amazing after seven miles. So good in fact that my pace really sped up. By the time I realized how fast I was going I think I had gotten myself into trouble. Because a few miles later I got shot in the rear end by a blow dart.

Or at least that's what it felt like.

Blow darts to the rear end don't feel awesome. I walked much more over the last 4 miles. I'm optimistic that some ibuprofen and a day off tomorrow will help. When I finished I didn't feel proud of myself for running 24 miles. I just kept thinking "How in the name of Meb Keflezighi am I going to run 50 MILES in less than 2 months?!?!?"

I just have no idea what to expect with the ultramarathon. I want to make sure that I have trained enough to complete it, but I definitely don't want to over-train. And I definitely don't want to run into another creepy old man in the dark in the middle of nowhere.

"I don't rate myself as a fantastic, talented athlete. I just have perseverance. I'm a cart horse. I work hard."
~ Colleen DeReuck, Four-time Olympian

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Running Goals

I have only two goals in my running career. They are:

GOAL #1: Run a marathon under 4 hours. I am sure that this will happen at the precise instant when every planet in our solar system aligns perfectly, there is a 63mph wind gust blowing against my back, and.....someone is waiting at mile 20 with a scooter I can ride for the last six miles. Unless all those factors are met, a sub-4 may be unlikely.

GOAL #2: Get a Jumping Jack picture during a race. In most bigger races, there are a few photographers on the course to take pictures of the suffering carnage on the battle field. I am bound and determined to get a picture of me mid-air doing a jumping jack, similar to this:

This is a courageous undertaking. First of all, you have to spot the photographer far enough in advance that you can muster the strength to actually jump. And then you have to time the jump perfectly at the exact moment the photographer is zooming in on you and they happen to take a picture.

I had a chance at a Jumping Jack picture at the finish line of the Mesquite Marathon. Let me tell you something: it is HARD to jump after running 26.2 miles. But I did. Please....hold your applause. (And then my legs nearly gave out on me when I landed. I nearly ate pavement.) Unfortunately the photographer missed the opportunity. Clearly he didn't understand what a huge accomplishment it was for me to jump.

There are inherent risks involved in seeking Jumping Jack pictures. Of course you risk injury when trying to jump with floppy legs. But you also risk having pictures taken of you looking like a complete idiot. When a Jumping Jack picture works - it is awesome. When the picture is taken either right before you jump or right after you jump - you look like someone is stabbing a #2 pencil into your spleen.

I have some potentially good news: I had not one, but TWO attempts at Jumping Jack pictures during the recent St. George Half Marathon. Organizers will post the pictures soon. And until then I will continue to pray that I have accomplished Goal #2.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

St. George Half Marathon Review 2011

St. George Half Marathon: 2 Hours & 23 Minutes (and 40 seconds)!

Thankfully the weather was much better than when we ran this race last year. A big crowd of crazies gathered at the Dixie Center Saturday morning for the St. George Half Marathon. We met up with a few of our crazy friends before the race:

Later as we headed to the starting line I tried to take a serious picture of myself with the wife and then a bunch of crazy yahoos photo-bombed our picture. They are fortunate I didn't provide a complementary round-house kick to the jugular.

I think being part of a race is always so interesting and fascinating. It always gets me how different people are, and you can't predict athletic abillity by how people look. Sometimes I pass people who, judging by their looks, should smoke me in a race. And then sometimes I'm passed by people who look like they just checked themselves out for a morning pass away from the nursing home. I LOVE the unpredictibility. One guy (yes, shockingly this picture is a guy) was running so fast that his legs were on fire....literally:

As far as elevation, this course wasn't too bad. There were a few rollers but nothing to really get panicked about. Due to some course changes, we passed the same areas a few times and there were lots of cheering spectators. The first part of the race was through neighborhoods, but much of the last section was on paved trails with cool views:

I witnessed the funniest thing I have ever seen in a race. Behind me I heard some motors whirring and then suddenly we were passed by......wait for it......wait for it.....Segways! Yep. Segways! These people were lucky to escape with their lives. Obviously they didn't understand that runners can get cranky during a race. They are tired and hurting. They are fighting voices in their heads telling them to give up. They would trade their first-born child for a Segway to ride to the finish line. And then to see Segways cruise past are lucky there wasn't a prison-style death match for those Segways:

I ran the race with Mel and tried to set a steady pace for her to beat her half marathon PR (personal record) of 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 31 seconds. When we reached the final stretch I knew it was possible. I tried to encourage her to keep going.

There was a big crowd at the end and she made a valiant push toward the finish line and finished in.....wait for it.....wait for it.....2 hours, 23 minutes, and 40 SECONDS! She missed her PR by 9 (NINE!) seconds. I don't think she cared nearly as much as I did, but I think she'll beat it at the Dogtown Half Marathon next month.

There was a selection of good food (peanuts, Rice Krispy treats, granola bars, fruit snacks) waiting for us in the finishers area. And then I saw this image of bold patriotism:

It was a fun race and I enjoy running with Mel. Maybe we'll ride Segways at the next half marathon.

Nobody cares if you're not a good dancer. Just get up and dance. The same holds true for racing. Whether first or last, we all cross that same finish line. Just get out there and run.
~ Dean Karnazes, Ultrarunner and best-selling author

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Poodles and the Hurricane Rim Trail

Monday, January 17th 2011: 8 miles @ 10:25 minutes per mile pace + 27.5 mile bike ride @ 13.1 mph. I have two possessions which I love with every fiber of my being: 1) my piano, and 2) my bike. When I'm riding my bike it has this little humm, this little purr that I adore. At one point I was heading down the road and I saw what looked like a person with two kids. And then as I got closer I saw that the lady didn't have two kids. She had two enormous, overly groomed poodles. She looked positively ridiculous. I fibbed and told her my wife liked those dogs and asked if I could take a picture:

I added a few miles to the Sand Hollow loop which is beautiful and challenging. My favorite part is reaching the top of the mega-hill overlooking Sand Hollow Reservoir:

There are some huge hills to climb on the way back home and my legs were completely fried. It felt like I was trying to pedal with string cheese. I was on the brink of wussing out and calling Mel to pick me up but made it home.....eventually. My average mph tanked in the last few miles of hills.

Tuesday, January 18th 2011: 6 miles @ 10:23 minutes per mile pace. Just the usual early morning run with my trusty head lamp. I did two more casual miles that night on the treadmill.

Wednesday, January 19th 2011:
11 miles @ 11:26 minutes per mile pace. I ran the Hurricane Rim Trail for only the second time ever. (Click here to see some pictures from the first time I went with Tom.) The first mile is brutal uphill steep enough to make you cry uncle. I had actually forgotten how challenging the trail was. No need for an iPod when you have amazing scenery and a rocky, twisting trail to keep your mind busy.

In town there was a wind advisory with the breeze at 43mph. But on top of the cliffs the wind was howling much worse than in town. I did not enjoy that in the slightest. Curse the wind. There was also a section of the trail that was really muddy and slippery with no way around it. My shoes got caked with mud:

I thought it was cool to see my house from the top of the Hurricane Rim. It is right here:

I will definitely go back to this trail, but I will definitely NOT go back during a wind advisory.

Thursday, January 20th 2011: Rest. This is a rest week (40 miles) before bouncing up again next week to 54 miles.

Friday, January 21st 2011: Rest. I added a few miles to the runs earlier in the week so that I could have a few days off before the St. George Half Marathon.

Saturday, January 22nd 2011: St. George Half Marathon! I did a 3 mile trail run with my brother-in-law Matt later in the day. Good times.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Favorite Running Shoes

Let's play the game One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others. Which pair of shoes is not like the others?

Answer: the pair of shoes on the left. These are my new ride. (They look remarkably similar to my previous pair of running shoes, and the pair of running shoes before that.)

The other two pairs of shoes have each carried my chicken legs around 450 miles.

Experts recommend changing your running shoes every 300-500 miles because the cushioning and support break down and leave the feet and knees more susceptible to injury. (Although other experts recommend a minimalist approach to shoes - certainly a whole different discussion.)

The first running shoes I ever bought were Saucony Progrid Guides. They were like music to my feet. And since then, they have been my shoe of choice. My friend Liz calls them "clod hoppers" which seems accurate. They are heavier than many running shoes, and I want to slowly migrate toward lighter sneaks. But these have worked well for years, and basically I figure "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The cushioning and support may be lacking from my old shoes but they are still in good condition and make good shoes to wear around during the day. In fact, I love my old running shoes so much that I can't bear to part with them. Hence, I have five pairs of running shoes sitting in my closet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

One Long Week

Monday, January 10th 2011: 8 miles @ 9:31 minutes per mile pace. We didn't get home from the Southern California Half Marathon until after midnight Sunday night so I couldn't drag myself out of bed in the morning to run. Consequently, after working all day I came home and put the "Dad" hat on until the kids were in bed. It ended up being a late night run and was 23 degrees when I headed out. Bleh.

Tuesday, January 11th 2011: 4 miles @ 11:00 per mile pace. This was the first run I had done on my treadmill for a long time and it actually wasn't too bad. I'm thinking my mom's treadmill which I ran on a few weeks ago must be broke because that run was pure agony.

Wednesday, January 12th 2011: 22 miles @ 11:10 minutes per mile pace. I ran on the Arizona Strip dirt road. I originally hadn't planned to do my long run Wednesday, so I didn't eat very good or hydrate adequately the day before. That certainly came back to bite me. The scenery was incredible. I love running in a place I've never been before, and especially in a place most people have never seen. Pictures don't do justice to how awesome it was.

I was feeling pretty good for the first half of the run. I reached a cool river bed which had a few different paths so I made sure to mark which direction to go when I returned.

I felt a little bit (slight under-exaggeration) of panic when I reached mile 11 to turn around and head home. In the far distance I could see the mountain I was running back to which made me nervous. I was in the middle of nowhere. I was starting to feel dehydration hit and I realized that my two hand-held water bottles probably weren't enough to keep me going for 22 miles. Houston.....we have a problem.

At mile 16 I hit the wall. I was surprised because it's been quite a while since I have had that feeling of complete exhaustion. My feet really hurt. I wasn't having very much fun anymore. But then I remembered a book I read recently called "RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running By Feel" by Matt Fitzgerald. The book was EXCELLENT. It talked about how a key aspect of training is strengthening our ability to suffer. It was like a light bulb went off. The purpose of my training is to learn how to suffer and still keep going.

That is quite a profound thought. Normally us humans do whatever we can to avoid suffering. I know that certainly applies in my marathon training. I don't want to do anything that makes me too uncomfortable. But after reading the book I realized that sometimes it's okay to suffer. It's okay to be challenged. It makes us stronger. Remembering this helped me accept the fact that I was struggling and I pushed myself to keep going even though it was hard.

Pretty soon I ran into another little problem in addition to the fatigue and lack of water: it was getting dark. It became a race to beat the sunset. But in the end I lost the race.
Sunset = 1. Cory = 0.

For the hard workout, I rewarded myself the same way any health-conscious runner would do: stop at Burger King on my way home. The buy-one-get-one-free chicken sandwich deal....are you kidding me? How could anyone pass up 1260 calories (literally) for $3.69?

Thursday, January 13th 2011:
Rest. Sweet, sweet rest.

Friday, January 14th 2011: 8 miles @ 11:35 minutes per mile pace. This one was tough. My legs were (are) still pretty sore and felt like slush. I have this little tweak on the bottom of my right foot that appeared over the last few days. I hate little tweaks. I ran another mile with my little girls at the school later in the day - my favorite mile of the week.

Saturday, January 15th 2011: 10 miles @ 11:12 minutes per mile pace. I ran the first 3 miles with Mel. I was still feeling discouraged mentally and physically after Wednesday's run but I somehow had a little of my mojo return half way through this run and felt better at the end. Thank goodness.

This was a PR week for me: 53 miles this week. This is the most I have ever done in a week and the first time I have been above 50 miles. I have a hard time comprehending that I will run this far IN ONE DAY coming up March 26th. Bring. It. On.

"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at."
~ Jesse Owens, American track and field athlete

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm A Runner Video

When I first saw this video I laughed so hard that tears were released from my eyeballs.

When I saw this video the second time I laughed so hard that tears were released from my eyeballs.

I can relate to this guy a little too much. A perfect description of the nerdy life of a runner:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Southern California Half Marathon Review

What happens when you and your spouse have airline tickets that need to be used, AND you're feeling spontaneous? Allow me to answer that question for you. On a Tuesday night you look around on the internet for upcoming races, find the 2011 Southern California Half Marathon coming up over the weekend, register for the race, and fly to California two days later.

The hotel we stayed at had an awesome continental breakfast, which I was incredibly thankful for because before a race, you have permission to eat ridiculous amounts of food and can justify it by calling it "carbo loading".

One of the selling points for the race was that it was big. I read that last year more than 6,000 people ran the half marathon. I love the feeling of nervous, anxious, excitement before a race. That anticipation of what may happen in the coming miles is the reason I have developed an addiction to starting lines.

Another thing I was looking forward to was running a fun, casual race with the spouse. Mel is a fun running partner. (Except that she sometimes runs like she is drunk and struggles to stay in a straight line. Hence, we do a lot of hip-bumping. It's okay Mel. I forgive you.)

We were enjoying the starting line festivities when all of the sudden I looked behind me and immediately had an intense fear of being killed. Be honest - does this not look like the Unabomber preparing to run a half marathon?

This was probably the most awkward race I have ever done. Much of the route was on a somewhat narrow bike path which would be awesome for a weekend jog, but not so awesome when you cram thousands of people onto the path and tell them to run.

We covered the same roads and bike paths a few times. You can see the steady stream of runners heading one direction, reaching a turn-around point, and then coming back on the other side of the spillway.

Another unique challenge when we ran on the streets was navigating the little bumps down the middle of the road. So in addition to avoiding tripping/being tripped by other runners, we had to avoid these little puppies that seemed to be begging someone to eat asphalt.

One of the most amazing things about the race was the high amount of kids that ran the half marathon. Kids! Apparently schools from all over southern California have a training/incentive program for the kids to run the race and there were thousands of them. I counted the age divisions, and there were honestly more runners under 18 years old than any age above 18!

This was inspiring. It was cool to see kids cruising down the road without a fancy GPS watch and high tech running shoes. They were just having fun. I was stunned to see how many were ten years old. Or twelve years old. Or fourteen years old. Inconceivable! I would have NEVER been able to do something like this at their age. Getting kids involved in such a healthy activity at such a young age is brilliant. I wish everywhere had a program like this.

It was an intimidating feeling - you can't slow down. You can't speed up. You can't pass anyone. You are just part of a moving blob. Thankfully nobody tripped. Otherwise a domino effect would have started and every single other runner ahead and behind them would have toppled over too.

We crossed through a few tunnels along the race and I got my favorite picture of the day. Somehow this picture of Mel leaving the tunnel appeared to be black and white.

I learned a valuable lesson at the Southern California Half Marathon: you hear funny things during a race when you aren't wearing headphones. One kid seemed to be struggling, and the only way he could keep moving one foot in front of the other was to sing Michael Jackson really loud. I don't think he was trying to be funny. I think he was hurting. Another lady was swearing so much that a sailor would have blushed.

And then guess who we saw at exactly mile 12.7?!? THE UNABOMBER!!! We passed him and I just had to get another photo. You'd never believe it, but it's hard to be inconspicuous when taking a semi-mug shot of a potential mass murderer.

We finally reached the crowded finish line amid an unusually high number of cowbell-shaking spectators and finished in 2 hours 27 minutes. You may soon be able to see some of these race pictures on America's Most Wanted.

"Racing is the fun part; it's the reward of all the hard work."
Kara Goucher

Running In The Snow

Monday, January 3rd 2010: 20 miles @ 11:29 per mile pace. I had the day off work so I figured I'd get my long run in for the week. I had no idea that the weather service had issued a Winter Weather Advisory so as I walked out the door I saw this:

Of course I was less than thrilled. I contemplated just staying home but then figured it might be good training for the Buffalo Run to do some miles in the snow. On the plus side, I didn't get overheated or dehydrated the whole time. On the negative side, my fingers felt like frozen Vienna Sausages. My nose was on perma-drip. And the roads were pretty slick.

I still can't get the St. George Ironman out of my head. But the Ironman marathon course is positively NUTS. So I decided I'd see if I could do it by running the hardest route I could find: the 600 North street in Hurricane. The hills are insane in the membrane, and I gained a total of 2313 feet during the run. For you locals, I ran from my house to the fire station, then back home. Then did the whole thing again.

It was long and I was definitely sore afterward but I survived and didn't lose any fingers to frost bite. I truly wish the Ironman was full so that I wouldn't be in such a dilema about whether or not to sign up. I'm leaning toward attempting this next year.

Tuesday, January 4th 2010: Rest. Knees + feet + muscles = ouch.

Wednesday, January 5th 2010: 10 miles @ 10:27 per mile pace. I woke up very early so I could get the run done before work and saw two incredible shooting stars. They were like fireworks. Which seemed comforting considering that it was 23 degrees.

Thursday, January 6th 2010: 5 miles @ 9:54 per mile pace. I was feeling surprisingly good on this run, and was happy to have that rare feeling that you could push harder if you wanted to. When I reached the turn-around point I saw my friend Darrel and had fun running with him back home.

Mel and I were given some free plane tickets by Delta after our frightning/miserable experience going to Hawaii. We had to use the tickets soon, so on Tuesday we looked around for possible races to run. We came across the Southern California Half Marathon which happened to be coming a few days. We were feeling spontaneous so we booked the flights, registered for the race, and left for California two days later. Being spontaneous is fun.

Friday, January 7th 2010: Rest.

Saturday, January 8th 2010: Southern California Half Marathon!

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” ~ Steve Prefontaine

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I HATE Treadmills

Monday, December 27th 2010: 18 miles @ 10:51 per mile pace. I knew we were going to be going to Salt Lake in a few days and a mega storm complete with 8-14 inches of snow was in their forecast. Bleh. So unless I wanted to run 18 miles in the snow (tempting, but, um, no), I needed to do my long run Monday. Before work. Double bleh. I didn't take any pictures because, you guessed it, it was pitch black outside.

Shockingly, no amount of diet Mountain Dew gave me the jolt I was needing by 6pm when I left work.

Tuesday, December 28th 2010: 6 miles @ 11:47 per mile pace. Another pre-work run in the dark. But after yesterday's run I felt like a slug. My legs felt like they were full of diet Mountain Dew. Oh, wait......

Wednesday, December 29th 2010:
Freezing temperature and hideous amounts of snow in Salt Lake. I missed the balmy 25 degrees of southern Utah.

Thursday, December 30th 2010:
7 miles on (gulp) the treadmill. I'm just too sissy to run in 10 inches of snow and slush on the side of the road as cars slip by within inches of turning me to roadkill. So I spent 7 miles with my worst enemy, Satan's Sidewalk (aka the treadmill):

This was pure agony. The treadmill is like some kind of freaky vortex. You work twice as hard but only go half as far. I was panting and sweating my guts out within 5 minutes. I kept finding excuses to stop and get off for a minute:

Mile 0.4 - Better get off and move the water bottle closer to the treadmill.
Mile 0.7 - Whoops, better get off and move the remote control closer too.
Mile 1.1 - I think I'll go to the bathroom.
Mile 1.5 - Did someone just knock on the door? Better go check. Maybe it will be a serial killer who will put me out of my misery.
Mile 1.7 - I swear, I just heard someone knock again.
Mile 2.0 - Man, that water went through me quickly. Why not take another bathroom break.
Mile 2.6 - You know what sounds good? Graham crackers. Lets go see if there are any graham crackers in the cupboard.

And so on. And so on. You get the point.

Friday, December 31st 2010: Another 4 miles on the dreadmill. I would rather listen to an entire Celine Dion CD than run 4 miles on the treadmill. At the moment, the treadmill and me are not on speaking terms.

Saturday, January 1st 2011:
Do cupcakes, chocolate, donuts, diet Coke, candy, In & Out Burger, ice cream, and Almond Roca count as carbo loading? If so, I did an AWESOME job of carbo loading this weekend.

What's really crazy is that I counted how many miles I ran in December: 172 MILES!!!! That is by far the most I have ever run in a month. I am excited about what the new year will bring!

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction."
~ William James