Thursday, August 28, 2008

RWTH Follow-up

It was nice to get a mention in the Green River Star, which stated that not only did the overall winner of the Run with the Horses Marathon break the course record but so did 2nd place and myself in 3rd.

Then I received a nice note from the 2nd place finisher and saw he had posted his own recap HERE. He is the chap in the red shirt I mentioned in my own recap and pictured below.

Two other recaps of the race can be found HERE and HERE. It is very interesting to read other people's viewpoints of the same races you experienced. Truly puts things in perspective.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Run with the Horses Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 12th Edition
238.2 miles raced in 2008
Race: Run With the Horses Marathon
Place: Green River, WY
Miles from home: 165 miles
Weather: Sunny and 50s

This race was dedicated to my friend Paul, who rather unexpectedly, passed away on Thursday morning. A true gentleman, athlete and professional, Paul will be missed by more people than I could even begin to list.

The RWTH Marathon was a race I had wanted to do way back in 2006 as one of my 52 marathons. However, it fell on the same weekend as the Park City Marathon and given that both required a flight into Salt lake city and PCM was only 30 minutes away as opposed to ~3 hours for RWTH, I opted for the former. I wasn't disappointed either. However, I have been itching to do this race and with my schedule accommodating it this year, I was happy to do so.

This was a watershed marathon for me. It would be my first in Wyoming bringing my state total to 30 Marathons. It would also be my 80th lifetime marathon. Both were big milestones but I also had my eyes on another prize: winning.

I am a big-time researcher, so when I saw the race was won last year with a time of 3:20:33, I figured I need to see if was the runners or the course which accounted for the slower-than-normal race time. I used my trusty elevation profile on to see that, first of all, this was a challenging course. Not only did the race start at just under 7,000 feet, it rose to over 7,500 feet and stayed there throughout most of the race. Sure, there was a significant downhill to end the course but by mile 21, could I take advantage of it?

Further research showed that the winner of the race last year (one Jack McDermott) has a PR of 2:52:50. That PR is relatively close to my PR of 2:51. However, I did some looking and found that Jack hasn't lowered his PR much is the past few years and runs some very consistent low-2:50 marathons. As such, I figured he probably has just about peaked in his marathon times (which is, of course, pure speculation on my part). I also saw that he hails from Tallahassee, Florida so it was a safe assumption that the 7,000+ feet of elevation didn't sit well with Jack and Tallahassee's whopping average of 55 feet above the sea did not prep him much for this race (again, pure speculation, but when you don't sleep much you can do this sort of thing).

I figured that given the fact that I am more trained in elevation, living in SLC's 4500 feet, and already have a faster PR (and am still losing big chunks of time), that it would be a safe bet that I could run a 3:10 at the RWTH Marathon. Doing so would probably give me a victory. Of course, it would leave me with very little leeway in keeping my Boston Qualifying streak alive as well. Going into the race, I had ran a 3:10 or under in ten straight marathons. I wasn't sure if that would hold up here but it was one of those many goals we set for ourselves in a race when we don't have the luxury of dreaming of the Olympics.

So, I decided that I would give it a shot. And with Paul's passing, my desire to win the race was even greater. Even when I saw that a 2:36 PR marathoner had signed up for the race, I still held hope for victory. I very much wanted to dedicate a win to Paul's passing.

After driving to Green River (a nice little town, by the way) Friday night, I set up shop at the Super 8 hotel. I checked out the town a bit and thought it was really cool how the town was built right next to a sheer cliff face.

Prior to hitting the hay and trying to get a good night's sleep in the smoking room I was booked into, I picked up my packet and ran into some old friends from the marathoning circuit. When you go to small races, chances are you will run into the same lot again and again, as they too feed their marathon-hunger.

Upon waking the next morning at the wonderful hour of 4:30 AM, I ate an apple and grabbed a few other foodstuffs to take with me out to the start of the race (where we would bussed). However, the apple did not sit with me well and my stomach seemed to want nothing more. Given the gastro problems I had in the Des News Marathon a month prior, I decided not to push it by filling my stomach up with more than it wanted. Listen to your body I say. And my body said that it need to use the bathroom.

With only two porta-potties at the start of the race (for ~150 runners) this is my biggest complaint about the RWTH marathon. My second complaint is that it appeared that every single person in front of me was performing a 16-step routine in the bathroom. The average time was two minutes and forty-five seconds per person. (yep, I was timing them) What the heck were they doing?

As the clock wound down to the 6:30 AM start, I was assured they would hold it for a few minutes, as it was clear there were many still in line. However, with three separate races starting on the same clock, there would be no waiting. And with no chip-timing at such a small race, when the runners started and I was still one person away from the bathroom, I was SOL. However, what I needed to do, NEEDED to be done. So, I finally got into the toilet and did the fastest "business" you could possibly imagine. By the time I got out, I figured I was already a good 1.5 to 2 minutes behind. NOT a good way to start a race you want to win when there is a much faster guy than you in it.

First few miles:

I quickly began passing runners and by 2 miles in, was in 3rd place. I could see the runner who had the 2:36 PR in a yellow shirt ahead of me, with a red-shirted runner between us. They appeared to be about a minute or so ahead of me and from the very beginning to the very end, I could not shake the thought of: "Damn it. I would be right there if not for the porta-potty".

However, even as we climbed up and up for the first 6 miles or so, my split times were really pleasing to me. Miles of 6:30, 7:12, 7:56, 7:18, 7:03, and 7:15 were rather shocking given I was being very conservative and running uphill the whole time. I closed the gap between me and the other runner (who had run a 2:50 earlier in the year, I found out in post-race research) and felt primed for a late race surge.

To the Half:

With what I thought was the hardest part over, I began to try and pick up the pace a little bit. I could not let the two guys in front of me, pull away. However, what the elevation profile does not show in great detail is the numerous rolling hills in the middle section of the course. Running on packed dirt, at 7,500 feet of elevation is hard enough but every little molehill seemed like a mountain. I do not doubt that those who live and train at high-elevation work hard to be good runners. but when I hear of Kenyans training at 9,000 feet, I can only imagine it must feel like a joy to run at sea-level. And for those thinking that SLC's elevation prepared me for this, well, the difference between this course and SLC is the same distance between SLC and the vast majority of the east Coast. So it helped, but man not enough!

Moreover, while the weather was nearly perfect (50 degrees is my guess and the sun stayed behind the clouds for a vast majority of the race), I could tell I needed liquid. the problem was, my stomach was not a fan of anything I put in it, even plain water. So I had to conservatively drink when I could and make sure to hydrate the best way possible. And if I could not trust my instincts on whether I needed water, I only needed to look at my singlet which was ringed in salt.

That said, a 7:17, 7:04, 7:07, 7:11, 7:12, 7:14 and 7:27 span of miles put me at the halfway point at 1:34:35. Right on target. I could see the Pilot Butte in the distance and I knew, as one of the volunteers said as I passed him "You have less to do now then you have already done!" Simple but poignant.

Tough miles:

For the next 6 miles, I worked very hard at summiting the hills and was again pleasantly surprised with a 7:32, 7:30, 7:24, 7:29, 7:08, and 7:32. However, mile 20 hit me with a 9:25 and even when you know the markings must be off, this is a big blow to the psyche. In addition, I had run virtually alone the whole race. The two gentlemen in front of me had pulled far enough ahead that the constant hills and twist and turns frequently hid them from my view. With no a soul in sight behind me, and very little to focus on in front of me, my thoughts went to many "downer" topics. Some personal stuff crept into my mind, then the thought of not winning the race for Paul sunk in. The quite serenity of the high desert of Wyoming was playing tricks with me.

In addition, my legs were not tired, and I had plenty of energy in my muscles, but I could not get the oxygen to them to move them. I felt like a race car stuck in a low gear. It was quite frustrating.


Mile 21 went up and around a bend. At one point I could see the town of Green River in the distance to my left with a dirt road leading down to it.

To the right was another dirt road which faced north and looked like it ran unimpeded until it hit Montana.

As the two runners in front of me were nowhere to be found, I had little to go on in determine which path to take. I saw some red paint on the ground leading to the left. I figured this must be the way since it led to the visage of Green River. So I took it.

I figured wrong. After a good quarter of a mile, the path became very straight and I could see no other runner in front of me. Crap. I took the wrong path. Back up the hill I went, thoroughly demoralized. I took the other fork and about 5 minutes later saw the mile 22 marker on my right.

Finally, the downhill section began. A 7:12, 6:40, 6:51, and 7:00 mile followed. I was shocked how much energy I had in my legs. I could see that I was well under 3:10 so there would be no problem getting the Boston qualifying time I was hoping for even with my detour on the fork. Then it hit me that I had to factor in the time lost at the beginning. And by the time I realized this, it was too late for me to make up the time.

A final and desperate 1.2 mile sprint left me with a split time of 7:52 (which figured to be about a 6:20 mile pace) but it was not enough. As we finished on the unusually cruel passenger bridge which required runners to go up one last hill, I saw the park ahead which denoted the finish line.

I sprinted down the street to a smattering of applause and a "Nice run! All the way" from the second place finisher. Crossing the line (and almost taking out a volunteer who wasn't even aware a runner was coming in!), my watch had me a 3:10:07. But the only clock that mattered on this day clocked me at 3:12:04. Needless to say, I was none to pleased.

No first place, no BQ, and a feeling that I left far too much on the course. Even just a few hours later, after my drive back home to SLC I felt like I, I feel like I could go run a 39:00 10k. I am not sore, have no blisters and am just a little tired. Such islife. I at least comfortably won 3rd place, even if I probably lost 7 plus minutes all told on my porta-potty and detour.

Would I recommend the RWTH marathon? Sure would. I often say scenery means very little to me in a race as I see about 15 feet in front of me at all times. And I will admit it got a little lonely running up on the high plains without a single spectator (in fact, the famed wild horses made no appearance whatsoever for the marathoners; reportedly the half-marathoners saw a whole herd of them.)

But many times I caught myself looking around at the serene beauty. Even in the last downhill sprint, with a canyon wall on both sides of me when I was running at breakneck speed, I looked around and thought: "Wow. This is really pretty". However, don't come expecting a personal best. That simply will not happen (unless it was your first marathon as it was for a few people I met and of whom I am still in awe). There are also no crowds to speak of. If you need extrinsic motivation to finish a marathon, you will need to go elsewhere.

Yet, there is a certain niceness about this race that is hard to quantify. While I was a little bummed to not receive a 3rd place overall award (they only gave overall and age groups which left me with a 2nd place in my age group award to the number 2 finisher) my spirits were lifted when my age group award was a silver painted horseshoe! Now, that is cool!

To her credit, the RD tracked me down after the race and asked me about my opinions of the course. She listened intently and genuinely felt sorry about the missed turn and the bathroom incident. We spoke at length about various topics and she mentioned it was nice to finally meet in person (as we had exchanged numerous emails in the past). Obviously in bigger marathons, RDs don't have the time to do this. However, you often wonder in some of the races if they would even if they could. You have a feeling this RD would.

So, if you need a Wyoming Marathon for your state list, or just want to check out some beautiful arenas while kicking your butt on elevation, I would highly suggest you check out this race. In some of the quieter moments out there, with not a soul around and my lungs tightening from the thin air, I personally believe it was made easier by Paul looking over my shoulder. He'd be the first one to kick me in the ass for being all sentimental and probably call me a Sheila (he was Australian through and through) but he will have to deal with it.

I hope there is some good rugby in heaven, Paul.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Men's Olmypic Marathon Predictions

Well, I BOMBED a week ago with my predictions for the women but so did everyone else, I think.

Nevertheless, I am going out on a limb and picking some dark horses for this race.

Gold: Ryan Hall - I just feel it.

Silver: Martin Lel

Bronze.: Samuel Wanjiru

Rounding out the filed, I see Brain Sell finishing 13th with Dathan Ritzenhein besting him by 3 places in 10th.

Let's go USA!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beat the Train - A report on Denz

I can always count on my friends to run some crazy races.

While I focus on marathon after marathon and occasionally throw in a shorter distance race to convince myself I need to to focus on well...marathon after marathon, I get reports from my friends which I always must share.

My good buddy Denzil, located in England, often has tales of cross-country mud runs and feats of strength thrown into what would otherwise be a normal 10k. However, even for Denzil, who often wears a jester's hat

or something that looks like it is part cow during races,

his last one, the 25th running of Beat The Train, sounds so darn fun.

From the website:

"Race the Train takes place alongside as far as practicable the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back. In order to do this all courses use a mixture of public roads, lanes, un-metalled roads, tracks, agricultural land, and rough grazing pastures. The terrain varies all the time and can be very wet & muddy in places, the routes also ascend and descend quite steep terrain and runs on narrow footpaths with little chance of overtaking."

Or to boil it down to Denzil speak: "Its all off road and very muddy - Cracking race".

I know the US has some of these races, like Muddy Buddy events held in certain parts of the country, but I would love to see more. Races where you basically throw out your watch as you know finishing or competing against others is the only true test of how you did. And without the ever-ticking watch on your arm, there is more fun to be had.

And who couldn't add a little fun to their run?

Even though he did not beat the train, (given that he also ran a 10k earlier in the morning to accompany this grueling 14 miler), I am pretty sure that if he had a stout lager in his hand at the end, he was a happy camper.

Way to go Denz!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Women's Marathon predictions

I figured I might as well go out on a limb and state my predictions for the Women's Marathon being run here in just a few hours.

In fact, I am going to go so far as to predict their times as well. Without further ado, here they are.

1. Kastor - 2:22 (Obviously an upset)

2. Radcliffe - 2:23 (Given her recent bouts of injuries I moved her down).

3. Berhane Adere - 2:23 (Has performed well in the shadow of countrywomen and very well in hot conditions)

Good luck to all!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Like the Olympics? Don't care about Commentary?

I have often said I could not stand the commentary of most athletic endeavors on TV. I always wondered what it would be like without it. A few years ago I actually was able to watch a football game without any announcers. I will admit this: it was eerie. However, not having John Madden tell me that "the team that, um, scores more, is um, gonna come out on top today" was well worth it.

Well, if you want to see live streaming video of the Olympics and don't mind having extemporaneous commentary in Danish 9which makes as much sense to me as Madden does), you are in luck.

Simply go HERE. And do the following.

First, click on the television screen in the middle of the webpage. (Unfortunately, if you are a Firefox user, you have to switch over to Internet Explorer in order to do so)

Second, after another window opens, you will see a drop down menu on the bottom left. the 8th option down entitled "Sports TV" is what you want.

Third, clicking on Sports TV will open up new options in the menu next to it. Click on "Danmark Beijing Olympics Live".

, click the play button.

Fifth, enjoy.

I just watched a relatively obscure 3rd heat of the Women's 800 meter semifinals and loved every minute of it. Hope you do too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dog Running

It is well-documented I am not a fan of exercise in the morning. However, recently I came upon an idea that would be beneficial to not only my running but to many others as well.

Living across from a park where I often see dogs being run or walked, I thought about what a friend of mine had mentioned. Her dog was getting a little antsy during the day as it was one who loved to run. Unfortunately, she did not have the time to run it. Walk it at night, sure. But running was not her thing.

A light went off! I could run dogs! So now, a couple of times a week in the early morning I will be out running dogs in the neighborhood. It gets my lazy butt out of bed for a nice easy four miles or so, the dogs gets their much-needed exercise and I also get new buddies. I love dogs so much but my current schedule makes it impossible for me to have one of my own. So now I get the next best thing. Dognieces and dognephews!

All the joys of having a pet with about zero of the responsibility!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Taking care of my feet.

I will be the first to admit that I do not pay all that much special attention to details. Well, some. I mean I love stats about marathon splits or how many letters of the alphabet I have hit with the names of marathons (21 so far) or how many times I can find the number "52" in my race times. But when it comes to paying attention to certain things about my body, I am much more lax.

I don't wear a heart rate monitor. I have no idea what 90% of my VO2 Max is in order to properly run and until most recently I paid very little attention to what goes on my feet.

Now I am not talking about shoes. I do pay attention to that. Rather I am talking about what goes on the feet first. Yep, socks! You see, after running both the Ogden Marathon and Deseret News Marathon in the past two months, I was left with a couple of blisters in places I had never had blisters before. I know the downhill sections of these courses were to blame but I wanted to see how I could prevent it. I had a feeling the shoes weren't the problem. Rather, I needed to look more carefully at socks.

Being a heavy sweater, it is no surprise my feet get extra slick in races. I therefore knew I needed something with good wicking material. I had been using some old socks that I had been wearing for quite sometime. I decided to go back to a pair I had worn on a number of occasions but had more or less forgotten about recently. And when I say "forgotten about", I mean "lost in my move and had been too lazy to buy new ones since".

The socks I am talking about are Feetures.

I had worn these socks before and loved them and am not sure why I did not just stock up on them. Well, I won't forget to do so again. Especially after wearing them in my most recent PR in the Provo Trail Run Half Marathon that had massive portions of downhill. When I took my shoes off, my feet did not have a single new blister. Can't beat that!

The Feetures brand has three types of socks. And it was the "Light" brand that I wore to a set a new PR. I will undoubtedly be testing out the other brands on runs in the near future. In the meantime, I highly suggest you pamper your feet and buy a pair or two. You won't regret it!

On a side note, today I went for a nice easy 6.5 mile run which put me at 1778 miles run for the year. Nothing spectacular at all, really. But with 140 days left in the year, that total is higher than all the miles I ran during the entirety of 2006, when I did Fiddy2. I told you I like stats!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Provo River Trail Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 11th Edition
212 miles raced in 2008
Race: Provo River Trail Half Marathon
Place: Provo, UT
Miles from home: 45 miles
Weather: Sunny and 70s

Today was a long-waited for attempt at setting a new PR in the half-marathon distance. Last year I was hoping to set a new PR at the Ocean City Half but a freak snowstorm and wind conditions nixed that. (Video HERE) Then later in the year, in Erie I decided to run another half and really give it a go. Again, while I set a new PR, it was no where near as fast as I was hoping for.

This year I have run three marathons where the first half of the race was near or below that half marathon time in Erie. It was obvious to me that a new PR was well within my grasp. But I rarely race half-marathons. I don’t look for them to run and rarely even think about them. If I am going to race I want the full monty. This weekend looked no different until about 10 days ago.

You see, I was supposed to be heading to the Falmouth Road Race to both speak and run in this famed 7 mile race. However, when a plans fell through and left me with no time to find another partner who may wish to take the free expo space I was offered, I was left with no race to run.

Then I remembered there was a half-marathon in Provo that very same weekend. With no full marathon to entice me, I decided I may give it a go. However, figuring out where exactly the race was, where it was run and how to get there were all up in the air. Now, I don’t expect every single race website to have elevations maps, crystal clear graphics, and perfect grammar (ok, yes I do on this last one) but I do not expect the website to be so horrendous that it is treasure hunt in a foreign language.

Here are a few treats on the website (keep in mind these are verbatim)

“If you wait for the last bus's you may have to start after 1st runners have left, If bus is late, you will start late, so be early.”

“Do not drive up south fork. Due to the past fire at bridal veil, which is almost out. You are not starting at Deer creek dam! Don't drive there!”

Um, what?!

So, when there is such a lack of attention to detail on easy things it is hard not to worry about how the race will come together. Nevertheless, after the disappointment of not going to Falmouth, I needed a race. I also was dealing with the disappointment of the Deseret News Marathon and how I did not set a PR there. Therefore, regardless of any trepidation, I signed up for the race with a week to go.

One thing I knew about the race that was it was a mostly downhill course. And if you can decipher the text from above there was a slight course modification due to a fire in one of the nearby canyons. I learned from some of the runners in my Track Club here in Salt Lake City what exactly those changes were and how that in spite of the mostly downhill course that the hill from ~ mile 4 to mile 6 would test you. With that in mind, I watched the parade of nations of the Olympics, and after lying in bed for hours, finally fell asleep around 1 am. A 4:30 AM wake-up call would indeed be a little early.

Not to kick a man when he was down but a snafu at the start of the race delayed the start for at least 15 minutes. When the race finally did start, it was a cluster as ~ 2000 people crowded the start. With no chip timing on this smallish race, people pushed forward to the start line. Typical runner common courtesy was apparently forgotten this morning as people who had no business being in the front of the pack felt the need to be there anyway.

Figuring to finish in the top 20 or so based on last year’s times, you can imagine how perturbed I was to be in about the 5th line of people. In fact, it took a good 200 yards of the race, weaving in and out, before I finally escaped the masses.

This race would be a tale of three different segments. The first 4 miles were the largest downhill portion of the course. Following that, two miles of up hill would dictate the race. Finally the more gradual and winding final half would test me to see if I was ready to set new highs.

First four miles:
A 6:05 minute per mile pace is what I needed to not only set a new PR but go under 1:20. As that math is too hard to do while running I decided to run as close as possible to 6 even and count the extra seconds as a bonus to work with and draw on later. When I ran through the first four miles in 5:28, 5:50, 6:05, and 5:58. I was quite happy. Leaving a small one-lane country road to join the highway, I could see all 1.5 plus miles of the uphill we had to battle in the distance.

The Up Hill
With a 6:18 and a 6:21 for these two miles, I was completely stoked. I was right where I needed to be. I had passed a few runners and let none pass me. I knew the next 6 miles would mirror a portion of the Utah Valley Marathon that I had ran back in April. I just needed to hold my pace.

The last half:
A 6:00 minute mile for the first portion of this section made me feel great. A 5:56 minute mile had me shocked. Soon thereafter I was brought back down to Earth when at mile 9 had me passing in 6:51. Well obviously the mile before was short and this mile was too long. Could I trust the rest of the mile markers from here on out? Seeing myself hit a 6:07 at mile 10 gave me hope that I would reach my goals. I had a 5k left and only need to run just under 20 minutes to get a sub 1:20 I can do this!

Then a 6:19 at mile 11 really hurt my chances. With the last downhill section of the course contained in this mile, I was actually hoping for a little few extra seconds cushion. Instead, I lost about 15. I need to ratchet it up for one mile and then go all the way to the wall in the last.

Too bad I never saw another mile marker. As the course snaked in and out of parking lots and followed twisting and turning arrows, I could never quite find a quick pace. I was gaining ground on those in front of me, which only told me that either I was speeding up or they were slowing, but not how much was left of the race. With the mile 12 marker obviously not posted, I just tried to focus on the finish. I could hear cheering and a band in the parking lot nearby. But how were we going to get there? Unfortunately it was in the cruelest way possible. Passing within 10 yards of the finish, we looped up and then back down a riverway bike path. With no idea what the right time was, where I was going to finally turn around and head back towards the finish and which mile I was on, I simply gave it all I have. I had saved some in the tank as all I wanted to do was go sub 1:20. Even if I had more in reserve, the last thing I needed was to blow it too early and lose the big goal.

Between a surprising large crowd of people on either side of the bike trail, I finally caught a glimpse of the clock. Pushing it home, I not only broke my PR of 1:23:27 but also got under 1:20 in a PR crushing time of 1:19:37(ish) and finished in the top 30 (where exactly I do not know as of yet). I finally have a half marathon time I can be proud of. (As an addendum, when the results were finally posted, all of our times were skewed up, and my 1:19 became a 1:20. Oh well. Now I simply will have to crush my PR again later on!)

After cheering on a few friends of my club and being quite happy about my day, I remembered the sobering news I had heard the night before about a friend. I was originally dedicating this race to my best friend Anne as it was her birthday today but I had to also let the other friend know my thoughts were with him. Facing a potentially long and difficult road given a recent medical examination, I was even more grateful than usual that I get to go out and "play" every weekend as a healthy and fit member of the human race. I rarely take this ability for granted but it was even more plainly put in front of me with this tough news.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Holly Koester - again

Call me biased but I absolutely never tire of talking about my good friend Holly Koester. Many of you know the story by now but let me reiterate for those who are new to my blog.

Holly was an Army captain at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and had been in the U.S. Army for nine years when she was called on post for Desert Storm in 1990. As she drove to report for her post in a civilian vehicle with a history of tipping over she went on a temporary road and the car rolled. She injured her spinal chord and lost the use of her legs.

After being told she would never be an athlete again, Holly began racing in marathons. Not out of spite (if you know her there is not mean freaking cell in her
body) but because that is all she knows how to do: excel.

Well in Juneau, Alaska at the Frank Maier Marathon just a few days ago and 102 marathons after her journey started, Holly became the absolute first person ever, male or female to race a wheelchair marathon in all 50 states.

I am glad to call Holly a friend. Time and time again, when I hear people make up excuses for not doing things in life, be it because they aren't "built like a runner" or lack something somewhere, I think of Holly. I usually keep my mouth shut but think about how there are so many people out there who do not let limitations stop their dreams.

In my speeches, I am often asked who inspires me. with so many friends like Holly out there, I often reply: "Who doesn't?"

Way to go Holly!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Holy swag!

A vast majority of the runners I know and love do not run races for all the additional perks you can get. For us, those perks are just that: perks. We'd like a nice finisher's medal and a wicking t-shirt would be great. However, we will never turn DOWN great stuff!

Well, I have become privy to some knowledge about the upcoming Boulder Backroads Marathon that I wanted to share with any of you who may be looking for a late September Marathon in a beautiful place. Besides running in a place so many elite athletes call home for its pristine scenery and epic training runs,

runners of the races put on that weekend are in for a treat.

*Brooks Podium Shirt – free, with BM logo on it.
*Same cool hat as last year, but it is blue this year. And waterproof!
*Free pair of Powersocks for ALL runners (relay too).
*Free Teko socks to all marathoners.
*Cool, powder-coated, Boulder Marathon/Avery Beer bottle opener.
*Killer medals, of course.
*Supported course, aid stations every 2 miles.
*Appropriate food options after the event.
*The support of the City and County of Boulder.

*And you get to hear me speak! Ok, that might have drove you away ;)

I hope to see you in Boulder on the weekend of Sept 20th!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Quantity over Quality

We usually think about a statement like the title of this blog in a different way. We always want less of a superior product than more of a crappy product. However, a friend pointed me to a post today that said the following.

In his post Quantity Always Trumps Quality, Jeff Atwood made a very interesting reference to an arts-related book:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Arguments can be made for just about everything (I went to law school, believe me, I know), but this argument REALLY seems to make sense. Especially when you compare it to running long-distance running or long-distance racing. With the marathon, there is so much to learn from each race, so many nuances to be tweaked that running just one or two actual races a year seems to be counter-intuitive to learning how to race it properly. sure you can learn how to "run" a race better by repetition and coaching but only when you are IN the race, actually racing, will you learn what your body and mind do in a race situation.

Who knows if the pottery example from above is true? The fact of the matter is that I truly believe that it lends itself well to running. With 79 marathons under my belt, and 29 Boston qualifiers, I think I know a great deal about how to race.

I have raced in single digits, raced in 90 degree heat, raced at 13,000 feet above sea level, raced on trails, raced on roads, raced in multiple different types of shoes, sunglasses, singlets and shirts. I have raced in a handful of countries, raced against 25 other people and against 37,000 people. I have raced to a 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 10th overall place (No 8th or 9th. Hmm. Interesting).

I have also raced to be in the BOTTOM 38% of finishers and raced to finish 3068th overall.
I have raced a 3:19 marathon and have raced a 5:17 marathon, both times being 50th overall. I have raced sub-3 on 9 different occasions and once I was 3rd overall and the other I was 114th.

I may not be the best runner out there. But I bet there are few who know more about how to race a marathon, regardless of their situation, position, climate etc, than I. Is it because I am a better runner, smarter person or more intuitive? Nope. It is because I went out and raced. Often. I experienced the race.

Of course, I put in my time "running" first. I learned what I could in running, got in shape and then raced. To not do the running before the racing will lead one to a potential career that is short-lived and far from enjoyable. I did not want that. I started with smaller races and worked my way up.

And now, through the quantity I have done, and the quality which has come from doing them, I can say I enjoy both running AND racing as much as anyone else out there.

Speaking of which, it is time for me to go enjoy.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Some good out of bad

Well, the Des News Marathon was, for all intents and purposes, a bust for me. No time goals were meant except for the salvaging of a sub-3 time at the end.

While not too much of a fan of the way I look in photos, I am lucky enough to usually have a plethora of them to choose from. Cal it being in the right place for the photographers or luck or what have you, I may have gotten a new publicity photo out of the whole thing.

Not too shabby, I say. The secret: sunglasses.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bigger Stronger Faster - a Movie review

There is a theatre just 3 or four short blocks away from my house. It is one of those old-timie theatres with one screen and dilapidated chairs and bad sound quality etc. Ok, it is not that bad but you get the picture. I love those theatres. They always feel like they are transporting me back to the 1950s.

For the past few weeks I have seen they were advertising a movie called Bigger Stronger Faster* . the movie billed itself as being one about America's love affair with being the best and how we try to get there; specifically, by the use of anabolic steroids.

I am a sucker for documentaries, and being an athlete am a sucker for any movie or book or whatnot that is about them. Heck, while a movie crew should have followed me around during Fiddy2, I will still go watch Dean's movie because I like movies about sports so much! :)

Plainly put, however, THIS movie delivers. While never taking a hard line stance for or against steroids it actually is a rather refreshing look at the use of these performance enhancing drugs. Told from the viewpoint of the narrator whose family consists of three boys who grew up weightlifting and playing sports, it is very unique. Two of the brothers openly admit to STILL using steroids for the competitions in spite of the hurt it may bring to their families in the long run. The narrator, the middle child, is appalled at the thought of using steroids but never once becomes preachy or judgmental in his questions to his brothers about their use.

The narrator, Chris Bell, also seeks out answers from the big names in all of this. He invokes the steroid scandal in MLB by talking about Barry Bonds and others. He makes note of the professional wrestling scandals as well, given the WWF was the reason why he and his brothers got into weightlifting.

No clear cut answer is given as to whether steroids or actually as evil as they are made to be and as we are told they are in the media. In fact, there is a competing argument made, very well mind you, that they are no where near as bad as we are told. IT is actually a very enlightening movie and thought-provoking as well.

I highly recommend you check it out if it comes to your town.