Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Running for the Bay Marathon

Just two weeks after I travel to Wichita to take part in the inaugural Prairie Fire Wichita Marathon, I will find myself in Apalachicola Bay, Florida to help start another new race weekend: the Running for the Bay Marathon!

It will be with great honor that I will join Keith Brantly, one of the most accomplished distance runners in US history, in welcoming runners to this brand new weekend of races. To be able to take part in an event that brings in that caliber of talent is something which I can be extremely proud and flattered by.  I hope to find the time to pick Keith's brain and learn how he was able to stay so competititve over such a long period of time.

Moreover, I will be assisting in some of the actual details of the race, as I have been asked to be a consultant on some of the finer details.  That too is a considerable honor and one I am more than happy to provide.

With a course that offers virtually pancake flat running and long crossings of bridges over the Gulf of Mexico, there is plenty to see along the course and for those who like to run their marathons on level courses - it would be hard to imagine one much flatter.  In addition, running along the beach houses of St. George Island should be able to give us all a place to think about retiring to, or at least coming back to sink our toes in the sand once the race is over.

It is easy to see I am excited about spending a weekend down here  in an area of the country I have never before spent time.  Registration was once closed but given the demand by more runners to be able to get in this inaugural race, the directors have been convinced to reopen registration for a few more days.  Don't miss out on your opportunity to be part of what is sure to become a destination race for many!

Please come join me the Thursday before the race as I will not only be doing an all-day book signing at Panama City's own Freedom Sports but I will also host their Bridge Run at 6 PM.  For more information, contact Freedom Sports! 

Look forward to seeing everyone at the Running for the Bay Marathon on October 23rd!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quad Cities Half-Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 30th Edition 
803.2 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Quad Cities Half-Marathon
Place: Quad Cities, IL
Miles from home: 1239 miles
Weather: 50-60s; Slight clouds leading to clear skies and good temps

As I wrote in my Blue Ridge Outdoors article, sometimes it is the smart thing to drop one of your goals.  Here at the Quad Cities Marathon, it made perfect sense for me to go from my planned run in the full marathon to cutting the distance in half and running the 13.1 mile option for half-marathoners.  I regret nothing about my choice at all.

As I met old friends, made new friends and have just a wonderful weekend in the Quad Cities area, I could not believe it had been four years since I had made the journey to this quaint cluster of cities nestled along the Mississippi River (and let's not forget East Moline, making it the "Quint Cities".)  I hereby vow, regardless of whether it is for the Quad Cities Marathon or not, I will not wait another 4 years to come here again to race, talk with friends and just enjoy wonderful mid-west hospitality.  The plethora of Chicago Bears paraphernalia sure doesn't hurt my desire to come back either (especially on cute girls.)

I may have found my future wife.
Prior to the race, I was honored to be asked to be the featured presenter at the Noodles Pasta Party.  I also found it funny that when asked what I fuel myself with I, at a pasta party, said I was on my way to go get a steak. But what I recalled about this exact room was how I had been asked by the effervescent Race Director, Joe Moreno, to stand up and give a few words about my 52 Marathon task under way four years ago.  They had not had the speaker in this room since then and here I was in the exact same place, speaking to just as many enthusiastic, smiling faces. Telling those in attendance that they should relish in pursuing the impossible, I had plenty of examples in front of me of those who were doing it - be they the invited runners who could run 2:09 marathons or those who were fighting their own impossibilities.

The Quad Cities Marathon and its related races were experiencing their biggest year ever, yet the races still had a small town feel in spite of full street closures, fire trucks with gigantic US flags blocking whole streets and the aforementioned talent on-hand to make the race seem far bigger than it was.  While I was disappointed to be not participating in the full marathon, I knew I would be able to at least fulfill a position on the pace team helping those wishing to run a 3:10.  My plan was to run as even-paced as possible through the first 8 plus miles and when the full marathoners continued on, I would keep the same pace onto the end so that anyone wishing to run a 1:35:00 for the half knew exactly where that time line was: me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prairie Fire Wichita Marathon

It is not going to happen for another thousand years. The date is 10.10.10.  Besides the symmetry of the number, which is beautiful in and of itself, is the ultra nerdy stuff people like myself love. you see, 101010 is not only redundant it is also binary for the number 42.  If it were 26 maybe you, my American readers would be more intrigued.  But for those who see distances in kilometers, 42 means a great deal.  Like the number of kilometers in a marathon.  So there is no way I am going to miss running a marathon on 10.10.10. 

Where am I heading? Well, I have decided to take part in the Inaugural Prairie Fire Wichita Marathon!

This will mark, not only the first time I have run a marathon in Kansas, bu the first time I have even set foot inside the Sunflower State. Eight years ago, on a cross-country drive from PA to Los Angeles on Interstate 44, I drove within .17 of a mile of the Kansas border. I almost thought of exiting on the Missouri side, driving a mile into Kansas and turning around again. But the moment was lost.  Now, nearly a decade later, I get to take part, not only as a runner, but also the featured speaker at the Pasta Dinner to welcome people to this inaugural race.

Crossing the Arkansas River no less than 6 times, (I always love crossing rivers) the course meanders through downtown Wichita and through or around several parks as well. I am excited to have been asked to be part of this event and hope that I will see all of you there as well!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maui Marathon, 5k, and Front Street Mile Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 29th Edition 
790.1 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Maui Marathon, 5k and Front Street Mile
Place: Ka'anapali, HI
Miles from home: 2930 miles
Weather: 70-80s; Bright sunshine; high humidity

The Maui Marathon most assuredly did not go my way.  Even for Maui, the weather was unusually humid.  Humidity does not sit well with me. Actually, I suck in humidity. I wish I could possibly put it less bluntly but it's the truth. All runners will experience a slowdown in their running in humid conditions but I have to say there are few people out there who are as pathetic as I am when the humidity gets high and temperatures go up.  But, I am getting a little ahead of myself.

When I arrived in Maui to take part in the events for the weekend I was introduced to the concept of the Warrior Challenge.  Runners could run a 5k on Saturday morning, then take part in the Front Street Mile Saturday night, before choosing between the marathon or the half-marathon on Sunday morning. I had no intention to do anything other than the marathon this weekend but soon found myself with a Warrior Challenge Bib number by Friday afternoon. I am very impressionable.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marathon Time! Nervous?


Seriously.  117 marathons under my belt.  Number 118 is happening this weekend on the beautiful island of Maui as I take part as both a participant and a speaker at the 40th Annual Maui Marathon.  And I am nervous.  When race morning comes it will have been 105 days between 42.2 kilometer races (I am going metric b/c Hawaii is far enough away to feel completely foreign.)  When was the last time I had such a gap between marathons?  Last year when I separated my shoulder getting hit by a car?  Nope. Sometime in 2008?  Not really.  At the end of 2007, I had an 85 day gap between Marine Corps and Carlsbad at the beginning of 2008 but that was partially because I was making a complete life change with my occupation and moving across the country. Surely it must have been the rest I took after completing 52 straight marathons, right?  not even close!  That was only 49 days.  No, ladies and gentleman, we have to go back to 2005 when I ran the Rock N roll San Diego Marathon in June and waited until October to run Marine Corps as my last marathon tune-up before the 52 Marathons began.  Yep, it has been nearly 5 years since I have had a "break" of this magnitude.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nite Beams - Product review

At the Chicago Half Marathon this past weekend, I spent some time speaking with the creators of Nite Beams. Basically, the Nite Beams are a LED line of safety products for anyone wishing to be out and about after dark.  Simple concept and one that has been done in some way or another for years. 

When I was given a Nite Beam armband to test run, I wasn't exactly blown away by any sort of inventiveness at first.  I have worn lighted warning products for years at night and didn't expect anything different with this one.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  On my run that evening down the Lake Shore Drive trail from my hotel to check out Soldier Field, the arm-band caught the eye of just about every passer-by.  It was unmistakably bright and with the option of keeping it light constantly or have it blinking, I noticed it really did make me more obvious to those around me.  As I was running on a car-free running path I could not test its effectiveness with actual traffic but he bright lights also lit the road ahead of me, letting me know that it was definitely making its presence known.

I felt the button that activated the light was a little too thick and mentioned this to the creators. They assured me they were working on that presently and would employ a system used i their hats to make it less obtrusive in the future.  Also, I felt the Velcro band around my arm was a little too stiff.  Granted, I basically took it out of the box and but it on my arm, and therefore it may need some breaking it.  Nevertheless, I think a softer foam rubber under-coating would have made it a much better product  For my 7 mile run it was perfectly comfortable but as an ultramarathoner, I think in much longer terms of running!

If the softness of the band is improved and the button made less fat, I think this will be an all-around top-notch product.  But with the one I tested, I think there were small tweaks which could be made to make it even better.  As such,  I give it 3.5 SeeDaneRuns with the potential to go up even further.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chicago Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 28th Edition
759.8 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010

Race: Chicago Half Marathon
Place: Chicago, IL
Miles from home: 1396 miles
Weather: 50-60s; Bright sunshine

I love Chicago.  Yet this race marks only the second time I have ever set foot within its city limits.  The last time was eight years ago and I spent less than two full days here and I had my car towed because I unknowingly parked in an illegal spot.  And I still love Chicago.  Much of it comes from my unabated, rabid and nonsensical love for the Chicago Bears. When I booked this trip a few weeks ago, I did not even take into account that the Bears might have a home football game the same weekend I was in the area.  I kicked myself when I learned this as I easily could have stayed in town a few more hours and watched the game.  As it ended up nearly giving me a brain aneurysm watching them eke out a victory over Detroit, it is probably good I didn't go.

This almost loss capped off what had been an almost horrible race day as well. Racing in the 14th Annual Chicago Half Marathon, I was hoping to continue the best running I have done all year starting with a simple workout about two weeks ago that lit a fire under me.  After lethargy stemming from my 202 mile run in April had set in, I found my energy level had ebbed extensively.  I would have a good workout here and there but nothing consistent.  So by running my fastest half-marathon of the year last weekend in Oregon and having a wonderful weekend at the expo working with the Illinois Beef Association to educate people about all the fantastic health benefits of eating a diet rich in lean Beef, I was ready to take on this course. Unfortunaetly, my body did not seem to agree.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 27th Edition
746.7 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010

Race: Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon
Place: Lafayette to Carlton, OR
Miles from home: 802 miles
Weather: 50-60s; Overcast and cool with slight humidity

I have been looking forward to this trip and race for a few months now.  After I made an out-of-the blue decision that Portland needed to be my next home, I figured I should probably go there and actually see the area once before acting on that decision.  With the Oregon Wine Country Half marathon just south of Portland, I found my reason to make the trip.

Having completed the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon, put on by the Destination Races in late July, I had a feeling this race would present some beautiful scenery as well.  While I feel Napa had more of an actual "vineyard" feel to it, I think I prefer this beautiful course.  Moreover, after taking a break from racing last weekend (only the 4th such weekend since my 202 miler) I was actually feeling like a person who wanted to run again.  Amazing what an extra week can do for you.

First 5k: 7:14, 5:17, 6:52
The race started in between two fields of grapes at the Stoller Vineyards with Mr. Stoller himself firing the pistol to get us under way. My race plan was to hold myself in check and try to run 6:30 miles as long as possible and just enjoy the day.  Slightly overcast skies and a coolish breeze coupled with great racing temperatures to give us nearly ideal running conditions.

After the first mile marker proved to be a little out of place (proven by the second one being equally out of place on the other end of the scale) I was pleased to be right about where I wanted to be.  The lead pack of runners had disappeared off into the foggy mists of the horizon and we all wished them a fond goodbye.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Ironman Experience

This past weekend I got to get my first taste of the entire Ironman Triathlon experience in Louisville, Kentucky.  

While I was not racing, I most assuredly was wishing I was.  But triathlons and then potentially full Ironmans are going to be on the docket soon.  I am beginning to build my base of both experience and knowledge about them and expect to be cranking out more than a few in 2011.

However, as the guest of the Kentucky Beef Council, I got to spend three wonderful days at the expo meeting and greeting 3,000 triathletes and here their stories and how they go to this point.  Many had chosen Louisville as it has a reputation for putting on a great race and also has a little more give in its registration process allowing athletes a tad more time to get signed up.  Ironman and full 140.6 mile triathlons are becoming very popular which is a fantastic sign for this massively obese country we live in.

At the KY Beef Council booth, I was helping to get people signed up for Team Beef- a collection of athletes from all over the country who are proud to include Beef in their diet.  In fact, the response from people who wished to sign up for the team was so immense, we had filled the entire roster for Team Beef by 10 AM on Friday!  We had to turn tons of people away including pro triathlete Jocelyn Wong, who was crestfallen when she heard she was too late to join the team.  Fortunately for Jocelyn, she does tons of triathlons and chances are good she will be sporting the Team Beef singlet soon!

Also "hungry" to join Team Beef was Max Longree who took third place - OVERALL!  In this atmosphere for the first time I wasn’t sure what reaction these elite athletes would have to the message that beef is a good source of protein to fuel their bodies.  However, athlete after athlete came up and talked about how they fueled their training on all the different varieties of beef.  And those who had questions, were obviously intelligent people who had done their research (for those looking for more in-depth knowledge about Lean Beef the Ironman site itself, please go to this article by Shelley Johnson HERE.)  I was more than happy to have KY's Director of Marketing, Alison Smith, with me, (who herself is a cattle producer) to really nail down some of the more obscure facts and send more than a few people away with a "Hmm." expression on their face.

More than anything, my craving to enter this world of three sports blossomed as I stood around people who were either chasing a lifelong dream or were attempting to get on the podium.  While I can definitely state I am not really looking forward to all the aspects that come with using equipment in a race (e.g., everything that has to do with the bike) that is the biggest drawback I see.  Everything else is a plus. A new group of people to meet.  New stories to hear.  A separate world of athletics to try and conquer. I am ready to begin that journey and am glad to see so many other athletes, both seasoned and novice, follow a similar diet of lean beef!