Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011's Birthday Run- Vermont City Marathon

Each year, since 2008, I have run my age in years on (or close to) my birthday.  With a marathon scheduled last year the day prior to my birthday, I fudged my own rules as to when the miles could be run and did 34 miles on May 30th, the day prior to my birthday.   This year, I will fudge them an extra day just to make sure that I can have them coincide with my appearance at the Vermont City Marathon on May 29th. 

This marathon will mark my first time ever running a marathon in the Green Mountain State.  Actually it will be my first race of any kind in Vermont.  Actually actually, it will be the first time my feet ever will have been put down in Vermont.  What a great way to spend a birthday weekend!

As of right now I am not sure where the extra 9 miles of running will come to get me from the marathon distance to my 35 years.  I am sure I will come up with something interesting.  In the meantime, I am happy to be looking forward knocking off the 41st state in what should be my 132nd marathon.  

With my presentation on Saturday at the Sheraton Burlington’s Amphitheater I will be detailing and discussing not only my 52 Marathons in 52 Weekends but also my solo running of the 202 mile American Odyssey Relay.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Burlington on Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 2nd Edition 
52.4 miles raced in 2011
Race: Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon
Place: Phoenix, AZ
Miles from home: 660 miles
Weather: 50-70s; Chilly and bright sunshine

I made no bones that I had two goals for this race
1. to run a sub-3 hour race 
2. more specifically a 2:57.   

For those new to my madness, I like to keep myself entertained in marathons by choosing exact times to knock off.  For example, in Dallas in December I ran 3:02 which was the last time between 3 hours and 3:30 I had never run (meaning I have run a 3:01, 3:03, 3:04 etc at one marathon or another somewhere in my travels.)  Next on the list of times not run? 2:57.  I had run 2:58 on three previous occasions and a 2:56 was mine in the Hangang Marathon back in 2008.

Being such a numbers guy I was quite surprised when I learned just last weekend after running a 2:59 at the Mississippi Blues Marathon that of the 76 times I have run a marathon within 7 days or less of running another I had never run consecutive sub-3 hour marathons.  This seemed impossible.  I had 16 sub-3s to my credit, surely two had been back to back.  Nope.  There had been many closer permutations of this but never had I run them consecutively.  Well then, here’s my chance.

I spent the two days prior to race in my usual spot – signing books at the expo.  I was working with Sof Sole for this race as I debuted a yet-to-be-released-to-the-public insole in my K-Swiss shoes.  I spent a few minutes catching up with Steve Scott (the most prolific sub-4 minute miler in the history of running) and also talked to both Frank Shorter and John Bingham.  On the side of the aisle of people you do not know, I once again was privy to the stories about successes and failures ailments and goals and dreams from the assorted masses gathered at this race.  After now more than two years of doing this lecture and book signing circuit, I never get tired of seeing the wide eyes of newbies, learning about the sport itself from people who have forgotten more about it then I know, and laughing at those who don’t realize I am the guy next to poster when they either say “That’s impossible!”

Some of my closest friends in the world I owe to this fantastic but exhausting lifestyle.  And for the thousands I can say are more acquaintances than friends, I wouldn’t want anything more than the fact that they too feel they can share their life and stories with me.  And now that I will be working with Sof Sole at various Rock N Roll races, ones where there is a much larger percentages of people taking that first step into marathoning, I have a feeling the experiences of mine I share with those will be far outnumbered and outclassed by the awesome experiences that get shared with me. Every time I sit down to  new expo, knowing the next two days will be long ones indeed I think: "Here we go again” and sigh.  When I finish I think “Can’t wait to do this again!” and smile.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mississippi Blues Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 1st Edition 
26.2 miles raced in 2011
Race: Mississippi Blues Marathon
Place: Jackson, MS
Miles from home: 1746 miles
Weather: 30-40s; Chilly and bright sunshine

For the third year in a row, I started my running and racing in Jackson, Mississippi.  And for the first time, the temperature and weather behaved exactly how it should for the deep south in January- darn near perfect.

When I look back over this race it always surprises me of the numbers.  There were just about 700 marathoners in the race.  However, it feels so much bigger.  It feels like you are part of something more important and more special.  With every "Thank you for running in Jackson!" you receive from the volunteers on the course you get this sense you are wanted and appreciated.  From the warm hospitality to the fantastic finisher's medal to the succulent beef wraps at the end of the race (oh so yummy and I am taking credit for that one!) this is a race that should be on your calendar next year.  Period.

Prior to the race I had the distinct pleasure to be the special guest of the Mississippi Beef Council.  Signing books out of their booth I was able to tell those who always wondered how I fueled myself, well, how I fueled myself.  With beef being a major part of my diet, and one that I find incredibly healthful, it was awesome to experience so much feedback from other runners who incorporated beef in their diets as well. And for those who did not, while they are missing out, it was also excellent to hear their viewpoints and exchange information.  It is always fantastic to have intelligent conversations with people who have differing viewpoints but respect each other enough to allow the other to have those different opinions.

The expo itself was a treat as i got to see so many old friends.  This was my 6th trip to Jackson in the past two years.  I couldn't definitely see someone living here for quite some time.  Not me.  Why?  Because I would melt into a puddle during the humidity of the summer.  But if they ever dome this place, I am there!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's One Day Race Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 39th Edition 
1025.4 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: New Year's One Day Race

Place: San Francisco, CA
Miles from home: 741 miles
Weather: 40-50s; Intermittently rainy

In 2007, I wanted to end my year of running by doing a race which started prior to the New Year and ran over the 12 o'clock hour.  However, I did not get into the race lottery.  In 2008, I spent the New Year taking care of a drastically flu-stricken girlfriend.  Last year, I wanted to do a fun race on a looped course in Wyoming but two weeks prior the race was canceled due to lack of funds. (I think that was the reason.)  So, I decided to make my own adventure and ran for 6 hours around the park across the street from my house. I surprised myself with 43 miles.  Given the fact I was merely running for fun, by myself, I was quite pleased with this total.

This year, I had originally planned to be in Florida to take on a 12 hour event but life intervened as it so often does.  The race venue changed to San Francisco and the race changed to a 6 hour event, instead. With the month of December being one of the toughest months I have had to deal with in quite some time, the mere fact I showed up on race morning surprised me - especially when travel snafus made what was already going to be one of the most convoluted travel weekends I have ever had (long story) even more crazy.  But, I arrived in San Francisco ready to take on the 6 hour challenge with extreme melancholy making me almost wish a few hours later that I had left my heart in San Francisco. However, I had a plan and a goal and that was to run 48 miles (a 7:30 minute mile pace) or potentially more.

I had previously ran this exact same course two years ago and found that even though there is probably only about 3 feet of elevation change per loop (at most), it seems to be a relatively tough course to do loops around.  Perhaps it is the three 90 degree angle turns and the one even sharper in degrees that add to the level of difficulty.  I know in 2008 it was the very unseasonably warm Halloween weather which took me from hoping to run close to 80 miles to barely eking out 68.3 miles. The weather for this race looked far more palatable but storms were looming.  Regardless, the race needed to be run.  I was as ready as I knew I would be.

1st Hour - 8:56, 7:52, 8:01, 7:58, 7:57, 8:00

The course loop is an uneven distance of 1.06 miles which doesn't sound like it will throw you off much from just a standard mile.  However, it is just long enough that if you plan on running say, a 7:30 minute mile (as I was), the extra .06 means your per-loop time is actually almost exactly at 8 minutes.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I forgot to factor in that extra .06 in my calculations on this night.

When the race started for me the 24 Hour people had already been running for 9 hours and those in the 12 hour boat had 6 hours under their shoes.  I get demoralized in races when a relay team passes me - I can't even begin to fathom how annoying fresh legs were to those already hours upon hours into their respective runs.

I spent the first loop running with a trail runner from the greater San Francisco area whom had never done such a timed race as this.  Erik was his name and he seemed like he had a good battle plan.  I obviously wanted to take the first lap a little conservative but when we went through right at 9 minutes, I realized I needed to pick it up some.  There was no way I was going to average 8 minute loops at the end of the race without a few under that time in the first hour.  I bid Erik adieu and picked up my pace.

As each loop went by I was a little concerned that, while not pushing too hard, these 8 minute loops did not feel as easy as I hoped they would be this early in the race.  However, mentally, the first hour went by very fast.  For that, I was quite pleased as I had a million thoughts going through my head.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New and Different Races in 2011

For me, 2011's athletic endeavors plan is to try things new and different, and for the most part, on the shorter side of things. Beginning 2010 with some 50 milers in prep for the 202 miler in April and then ending the year with my 6 Hour Run in San Francisco (recap coming soon) book-ended a year of doing some ultras for me.  Don't get me wrong, I will still be enjoying the occasional marathon or ultra but for the most part, my focus is on trying to see if I have any fast-twitch muscle fibers left and to utilize them, when my traveling and working schedule allows, in the triathlon.  However, without a doubt, some longer races will be calling my name.  the first one up in 2011 of any particular note is the 1st Annual Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon on Valentine's Day Weekend.

I definitely had not really planned on spending Valentine's Day this way not too long ago but this seems like a wonderful way to take on a new race. Based in Wisconsin in February (I actually just got cold thinking about it) the Sandbox Indoor Trail Mararathon is very intriguing to me for two reasons.

1. Back at the turn of the last century, indoor races of very long length used to back arenas.  I like this homage to the past.
2. The indoor marathon has been done before but I can't say a trail one ever has.

Consisting of 105(ish) laps of what basically looks like an upturned Capital letter "E", the course runs on the Sandbox Arena floor used mostly for motorcycling events. This just looks so unique and fun!

Given the oddity of the course and what looks like no less than 1260 turns (yeah, seriously), I had a feeling the footing might be a little on the potentially shifty side.  As such, I have decided I will be wearing a pair of ICESPIKE in my shoes for the race to help with traction.  It will be an test I have similarly done before given I wore the ICESPIKE product in the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile last year.  They provided excellent traction and didn't even bother me on some of the semi-paved portions of the race.  Now I get to see what they will do on this surface as well.

In any event, it promises to be a marathon unlike any I have ever done, and once you have done 125 (and counting come race morning) sometimes a little variety is good.   Registration is now open and I hope to see you there!