Monday, February 28, 2011

My 2011 Race Calendar

I’m looking forward to another fun year of races. For me, having an upcoming race on the calendar is the incentive I need to get myself out of bed every morning to train. Here is my tentative race calendar for the year:

January 22, 2011: St. George Half Marathon
February 26, 2011: Dogtown Half Marathon
March 26, 2011: Buffalo Run 50 Miler
April 30, 2011: Hurricane Half Marathon
May 21, 2011: Ogden Marathon
June 11, 2011: Utah Valley Marathon
July 16, 2011: Bryce Canyon Half Marathon
July 23, 2011: Deseret News Marathon
August???? : Any takers?
September 17, 2011: Top Of Utah Marathon
October 1, 2011: St. George Marathon (Complete the Utah Grand Slam!!!)
November 19, 2011: Mesquite Marathon

What are your favorite races?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dogtown Half Marathon 2011 Review

Monday, February 21st 2011: 10 miles @ 9:37 minutes per mile pace. Another EMBFSLR (Early Morning Before Work Semi-Long Run......say that ten times fast.)

Tuesday, February 22nd 2011:
4 miles @ 9:38 minutes per mile pace.

Wednesday, February 23rd 2011: 20 miles @ 10:29 minutes per mile pace. I went back to the same dirt road where I did my 30 miler last week. I started out by taking some side trails (part of the JEM trail) which were beautiful.

Everything was going along great until the sun started to come up. Then the ground began to thaw out and the trail became crazy muddy and slippery. I wasn't a big fan of trying to run 20 miles on an ice skating rink so I went back to the main road. I have a firm conviction that an awesome background should never be passed without getting a jumping photo. What I lack in speed, I make up for in photo self-timer skillz:

Unfortunately the main road was just as muddy. As a wise man once said "You've got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em." So I folded 'em. And drove a few minutes back home to finish my run on pavement.

I ran past the Hurricane Airport and happened to be right by the runway as a plane was coming in for a landing. The landing strip is right next to the road so the airplane was almost close enough to give me a haircut.

Thursday, February 24th 2011: Rest (and some glorious Taco Bell)

Friday, February 25th 2011: Rest

Saturday, February 26th 2011: Dogtown Half Marathon: in 2 hours, 23 minutes, & 26 seconds OR 2 hours, 21 minutes, & 45 seconds. (Tell you more about that later.)

I had one purpose for the race: be Mel's pacer/pack mule to get her to a half marathon personal record (PR). I used to think people running with Camelbaks were dweebs, but after wearing a sequin hat, the Camelbak was the least of my problems. I figured it would be good training for the upcoming ultra.

Thankfully we didn't get too much rain during the race but it was pretty windy, but not nearly as bad as the Mesquite Marathon. This is my favorite picture of the day: a cool background and a cute runner (who happens to be my spouse):

With three miles left I knew Mel's PR was within reach but it was going to be close. With two miles left I knew the PR was still within reach but we had to put the pedal to the metal. And then a smell hit us which was strong enough to cause a chunky burp. This little gem of roadkill..... A SKUNK ...... was right on our path.

Less than a mile left and Mel is tired. She begged me to let her slow down but I had to make an executive decision which I hoped she would eventually forgive me for - I held her hand and dragged led her the rest of the way. I took this picture in the last mile which is a pretty accurate image of how things were going:

Finally we spotted the finish line - and she was going to make it! Her previous PR was 2 hours, 23 minutes, & 31 seconds. She stopped her watch at 13.1 miles with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, & 45 seconds.

I stopped mine at the finish line and I think our official finishing time is 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 27 seconds. If that's the case, she beat her PR by 4 SECONDS!!! (Way cooler than the last half marathon where she missed her PR by 9 SECONDS! Nine!)

I was so proud of her. She worked hard and got a PR on a much harder course. And after we crossed the finish line she said she forgave me. Bonus! We talked with Janae ( afterward then got our fill of bread, oranges, and chocolate milk (what, no Twinkies?). Who would have thought running 13.1 miles in the wind with a skunk could be so fun!

"It's very hard to understand in the beginning that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit."
~ Dr. George Sheehan

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Let The Dogs Out

On Saturday morning me and the Mrs. are running the inaugural Dogtown Half Marathon in Washington, Utah. The forecast for Saturday is wind and rain. Bleh.

Over the holidays I got a hideous black hat with sparkling sequins as a white elephant gift. If Neil Diamond or Richard Simmons wore a hat, this is the one they would choose. It would have matched perfectly with the sequin outfit I wore at the Spooktacular 5k.

When I got the hat, all my extended family members dared me to wear it during a race. They also promised it would give me superhuman speed. So I decided to take them up on their dare for the race on Saturday.

Maybe with the rain there won’t be any sun glare off the hat. This will significantly reduce the possibility that other runners will be blinded by my flashy hat as they pass me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My First 30 Miler

Monday, February 14th 2011: 10 miles @ 9:54 minutes per mile pace. The run went well and this may be the fastest pace I have run 10 miles outside of a race. But let me tell you something amigo. It's no good to see 4:45am on the alarm clock so that you can run 10 miles before work.

Tuesday, February 15th 2011: 4 miles @ 9:50 minutes per mile pace. It was a beautiful morning and I loved watching light start to spread across the sky:

Wednesday, February 16th 2011: 30 miles @ 11:27 minutes per mile pace. Mission accomplished: my first 30 miler. I went to a new dirt road I had never run on before called Sheep's Bridge Road I think. As far as scenery, this is one of the most incredible places I have ever run.

My pace isn't completely accurate because it doesn't take into account my numerous picture stops.

I decided to give the Camelbak another try despite my first unfavorable attempt. It actually went a little better. I got back to my car after the first 12 mile loop to refill my water and made a critical error. I saw how much I drank on the first loop so I filled up the same amount for the second loop. I didn't take into account that it was getting warmer outside and that I was more fatigued.

So at mile 20 I went to take a sip of water and much to my horror - started sucking air. I didn't see how this was possible. I couldn't be out of water. I still had another 4 miles to run uphill into the wind before getting back to my car. I wish I was exaggerating. I hoped maybe there was just a kink so I removed the whole water pouch. Empty! Houston: we have a problem.

The 4 mile trudge back to the car was not enjoyable. I bit the dust. Literally. There was a wind advisory that day and running into the wind was like trying to run a marathon in a swimming pool. When I dared look ahead of me I saw a continuous river of dirt flying at me. The flying dirt stung my face and skin and got in my teeth. This was the advisory from the internet:

My pace tanked for those 4 miles but I finally made it back to my car for a refill. I had also packed one of my Valentine presents: a delicious cupcake. I figured I would regret eating it with another six miles to run but at the moment I just didn't care. That cupcake had a life expectancy of three seconds.

I set out into the wind again for six more miles and felt so proud of myself after finishing 30 miles.

My Garmin said I burned 3,316 calories during the run. And what better way to celebrate burning 3,316 calories than to eat 3,316 calories worth of carne asada french fries? (Yes, under all that meat and cheese there actually are french fries.)

Thursday, February 17th 2011: Rest. My purpose at work was to walk normal so nobody would ask why I was walking like Frankenstein. I certainly felt like him, but didn't want to walk like him. Didn't tell anyone what I had done the day before.

Friday, February 18th 2011: 4 miles @ 10:50 minutes per mile pace. Surprisingly not as sore as I expected.

Saturday, February 19th 2011: 8 miles @ 9:27 minutes per mile pace. I have no idea where the extra energy came from but that run was much faster than I could have hoped for.

Dogtown Half Marathon next week! I'm planning to run with Mel and see if I can pace her to a PR.

"It is the illusion that we can go no faster that holds us back."
Kenny Moore, American athlete and journalist

Friday, February 18, 2011

How To Display Race Medals

We had this little problem in our bedroom. Our race medals were hanging on this little shelf but this little shelf isn't very strong and we worried that if we added too much more bling, our shelf would end up on the ground.

So I got ambitious for Christmas this past year. I wanted to make Mel a plaque that would 1) be big enough to hold a picture, 2) be sturdy enough to hold lots of medals, and 3) be easy to add medals.

I went to every hardware store in the area to get ideas for the construction and eventually realized that it may be a big project considering my limited experience in building stuff. So I figured I'd make two while I was putting the work in.

And here.....are the finished products hanging on our bedroom wall!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Crazy Pictures

A few days ago I was perusing some recent marathon pictures and was reminded of arguably my craziest race pictures ever. CLICK HERE to see pictures of yours truly during the the 2010 St. George Marathon. Running with Mel seemed to bring out the idiot in me and I had the deliberate purpose of getting the most ridiculous pictures possible.

My personal favorites are the ones where I am flapping my arms like a bird (including across the finish line). When my sister saw these she said "Do you feel at all tempted to click that orange "NOT ME" button under any of these??"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Awesome Volunteer Opportunity

For all you southern Utah folk, I wanted to give you a heads-up that registration for Ironman St. George volunteers is open.

Last year we volunteered as catchers at the finish line from 7pm until midnight and this was easily five of the most fun hours I spent last year. Seeing what these people accomplish is inspiring, whether you are athletic or not. Plus, as a volunteer you get to experience all the excitement of the race without the incredible amounts of agonizing suffering. Bonus!

Click on the Ironman logo for a link to the Ironman St. George website. On the top row you will see a Volunteer button that you can click on for a complete list of available positions. This is an opportunity you don't want to pass up!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beware Of Flying Snot Rockets

Monday, February 7th 2011: 4 miles @ 9:55 minutes per mile pace. I was still sore from the 27 miler last week but had a little burst of speed and did the last mile at 8:55. Something I've noticed is that as my training distances have increased, my speed has decreased. So right now, a mile at 8:55 is pretty speedy for me. For many of my friends, 8:55 is slower than they run on a long, slow run.

Tuesday, February 8th 2011: 7 miles @ 10:21 minutes per mile pace.

Wednesday, February 9th 2011: 11 miles @ 11:40 minutes per mile pace. I ran the Hurricane Rim Trail but just didn't have the juice to run very fast (more about that here). Fortunately the incredible scenery made up for my less-than-stellar pace. My favorite part of the trail is when you come over this little ridge and the horizon bursts out in front of you. Suddenly you have a breathtaking view of Zion National Park, Smith Mesa, and rolling desert hills.

My second favorite part of the trail is this little section that is covered with the most awesome rocks. I added some to my pack and they bounced around like jingle bells for the rest of the run. And check out this bad boy. This is one of those rocks. Tell me it does not look like a Junior Mint straight from mother nature:

Thursday, February 10th 2011: 4 miles @ 11:05 minutes per mile pace. It was cold outside and I just couldn't bring myself to put on my four layers of clothing so I ran on the dreadmill.

Friday, February 11th 2011: 11 miles @ 10:18 minutes per mile pace. Saturday was going to be busy so I did my run Friday night. I made it about one mile before needing to turn on the head light. I'm glad I was able to catch the last of the day's sunlight:

This is my favorite shot of the week. I run this route at least a few times a week. I like how you can see the faint lines of the road on the bottom of the picture:

For my professional colleagues who may be reading, this would be an appropriate time to jump to another website. Seriously. Because what I'm about to tell you is gross. And I'd hate to have you listen to psychological advice from me after the mental image that is coming.

Okay.....are they gone?

Alright. So at mile 9 it was cold and windy. And what happens when you combine running+cold+windy? Correct. You get a runny nose. And it's not like you have a box of Kleenex with you, right? So what do you do? Exactly! Snot rocket.

Unfortunately I didn't judge wind flow very well. Because even though nostril #1 was launched with flawless execution, nostril #2 was not. Remember how I said it was windy? Well, snot rocket #2 launched.....right into my eyelashes. I know. Disgusting. Just another one of the many reasons why it's best to run by myself.

Saturday, February 12th 2011: Rest. I enjoyed an easy week this week but next week will likely kick my trash. My first 30 miler is coming up next week. Stay tuned. And remind me to wear glasses next time I run because running + cold + windy = messy eyelashes.

"The truth is that we can learn to condition our minds, bodies, and emotions to link pain or pleasure to whatever we choose. By changing what we link pain and pleasure to, we will instantly change our behavior."
~ Tony Robbins, Author and motivational speaker

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Enjoy The Ride

I ran 11 miles on the Hurricane Rim Trail today. It wasn't quite as windy or muddy as the last time I went. Thank goodness. I just wasn't feeling it though. I couldn't get into it. I finished with an average of 11:40 per mile. Bleh. One possible factor could have been the loco hills. Total ascent was 2,128 feet. The hills are steep so your legs get worn out on the way up and then get brutally beat up on the way down. Here is the elevation from today's run:

I was a little discouraged that it went so crappy. Fortunately by going slow, I had lots of time to think things through. I thought about how MOST training runs aren't really anything spectacular. They are mundane. Only rarely do you get a run where you 1) get to run in daylight sans flashlight, 2) have temperature warm enough that you don't see your breath, 3) have minimal wind (very rare), 4) have cool scenery, and 5) actually feel pretty good. Then I reminded myself that I should just be thankful that I can run. I work with lots of people who can't even walk to the car without being in pain.

While I was running I thought of a quote by a wise man I met many years ago named Gordon B. Hinckley who said:
"Most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey - delays, side-tracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

My focus after today is to work on enjoying the ride.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

27 Miles - My Longest Run Ever

Monday, January 31st 2011: 9 miles @ 12:56 minutes per mile pace. I woke up very, very early to hit the road before work. My hip/butt muscle was really bugging me and I couldn't run very far before it would act up and I'd have to walk. To be honest, I was very worried.

Tuesday, February 1st 2011: 40 minutes on the exercise bike.

Wednesday, February 2nd 2011: 11 miles @ 11:29 minutes per mile pace. It was 17 degrees outside and blowing like the dickens. It blew so hard for days that many houses in our neighborhood were covered in tumbleweeds. I've never seen anything like it before:

In fact, just to prove how bad the weather was....I did this run ON THE TREADMILL. (Gasp!) I have been so anti-treadmill since I started running two years ago so I feel like I'm betraying all morals and values when I tell you this, but it actually wasn't too bad. I know. That sounds crazy. Normally I would rather shove a rusty fork into my retina than run on a treadmill. But maybe I just didn't give it a chance.

I don't see myself spending a ton of time on Satan's Sidewalk, but when it is 17 degrees with wind similar to standing behind a jet engine, I may take the 'mill.

Thursday, February 3rd 2011: 4 miles @ 11:20 minutes per mile on (please don't judge me) the treadmill. I've read that an important part of ultramarathon training is learning to eat while you run. just so happens that we received the best Christmas present ever: an all-edges brownie pan! I thought I'd eat a brownie before my run. But it was so good that I ate another. And then another. And then I didn't feel very good for the first few miles on the treadmill.

Friday, February 4th 2011: Rest. Some crazy ultra-runners carbo-load on beer and nachos so I figured part of my carbo-loading for the Saturday long run could include some Mountain Dew and a large gas station sugar cookie. Delish.

Saturday, February 5th 2011: 27 MILES @ 11:28 minutes per mile pace! This was my longest run ever and I was anxious to see how I felt beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance. (FYI: 27 miles feels pretty much exactly the same as running 26.2 miles.)

I went out to the Arizona Strip dirt road, ate half a peanut butter sandwich at mile 7, 14, and 21, and a Gu at mile 3.5, 10.5, 17.5, and 24. I was able to keep the 5/1 run/walk schedule for the whole 27 miles and was so, so, so thankful that my tweaked muscle from last week didn't act up at all. Phew.

This is a really pretty place to run. There is a section on the Sand Hill road that is covered with Moqui Marbles from an extinct volcano. It seemed like the perfect spot to rest for a few minutes and take a picture:

When I was at mile 24 an older couple in a Jeep pulled up next to me. He rolled down his window and looked at me with a puzzled face and said "Um, do you need a ride?" I smiled and said "No, I'm okay. But thanks!" I wish I had taken a picture of the look on his face. He sat there looking at me dumbfounded for about eight seconds. It was one of those Awkward Silence moments and I was anxious to see what would happen next. He said "Well, okay." Then he stared at me for a few more seconds and then drove away. Priceless.

Since my picture at the finish line of the last race wasn't exactly a jumping jack, I figured I'd do my darndest to get a jumping jack picture during this run. Even though I have not yet mastered the skill of running fast, I have mastered the skill of the self-timer:

I ended the run feeling pretty good. Well, I felt like I had been run over by a Greyhound bus. But I felt the best I could have possibly felt after being run over by a Greyhound bus.

Top results are reached only through pain. But eventually you like this pain. You?ll find the more difficulties you have on the way, the more you will enjoy your success.
~ Juha Vaatainen, Gold Medalist at the 1971 European Championships

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Finish Line Photograph

Mission accomplished. I had proclaimed that one of my running goals was to get a jumping jack picture during a race. I was relieved when a friend sent this image from the recent St. George Half Marathon:

It's hard to be upset at a photographer for not getting a picture of you doing a jumping jack when ...... um ..... you don't do a jumping jack. I guess in the heat of the moment I didn't realize that instead of doing a jumping jack, I did a Look-At-Me-Riding-Invisible-Rollerblades jump. I didn't really have much time to plan everything out. I quickly scanned the fellow runners around me to make sure that, at least for a split second, the photographer would have an unobstructed view. I also didn't want to unintentionally give another runner a swift kick to the crotch. This meant slowing down so that Mel could finish ahead of me, but not slow down so much that the runners behind me would catch up.

The truth of the matter is that I'm very pleased with the Invisible-Rollerblades jump. In the words of the wise philosopher Napoleon Dynamite, I "caught like three feet of air." (Three feet of air = much less than three feet.)

(Note: no runners were kicked in the crotch during the taking of this image.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Justin BEAVER + My Runners World Article

Today I learned some exciting news. There is a section at Runners World Online called "Other Voices" which features a weekly runner/blogger article. And my post "Stalking The Elusive Jumping Jack" is the featured article this week! You can CLICK HERE to check it out at Runners World.

I love Runners World magazine so this was pretty awesome. My six and seven year old daughters didn't quite grasp that this was big news. So I had to slow down and back up. "Listen girls, this would be like you singing background vocals on Justin Bieber's CD." I was promptly corrected by the six year old. "It's Justin BEAVER. Not Justin BIEBER."