Friday, February 18, 2011

Ironman 70.3 - Boise

I'm in.

Not exactly a Michael Jordan-esque proclamation of "I'm Back" when he came back from his first retirement, I am nonetheless, extremely excited to be making my Ironman 70.3 debut this June in Boise. I will be racing as part of the Idaho Team Beef to show what athletes who live a healthy lifestyle while balancing their diet with Beef can do on the athletic stage.  Heck, I have been doing it for years now already!

While I know I will be nowhere near as prepared as I would like to be for this race, as I will just be getting fitted for my bike next week and have done next to no cycling in my life, I knew the time was right. I have recently begun swimming again trying to regain the form which made me fairly competitive in high school (5:15 500-yard freestyle) all while continuing to run, do book signings, speeches and my normal litany of travel.  Hitting the pool has been extremely hard given I have not and will not be home for a single weekend until mid-April at the earliest but it is challenges like this that I thrive on.

With one confirmed Olympic distance tri schedule for May 1st at St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL and another tentatively schedule three weeks after that, I know I will be taking a crash course in all things triathlon very soon. And while I know I have my work cut out for me (some of the leaders ran half marathon times I would be happy to run in a half-marathon alone!) I have every intention on making a splash!

Hope to see you in the City of Trees in June!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 4th Edition 
91.7 miles raced in 2011
Race: Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon
Place: New Richmond, WI
Miles from home: 1341 miles
Weather: 45 degrees; cool (Indoors)

“In that moment I realized the frustration that comes when the body breaks beneath the compelling demands of the will to victory.” –Roger Bannister

For the inaugural Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon, the first man to run under 4 minutes in the mile had a quote in his book, The Four Minute Mile, which perfectly described my feelings right around mile 20. Here, without warning, I became completely separated from body and learned the true frustration which arises when my body will no longer do what my mind so wants it to do. But I am getting ahead of myself.  I am also burying the lead, as I am known to do. For that, you will have to read on. It is worth it.

My goal for this race was to keep my streak of sub-3 hour marathons alive which would help me in about 15 subsequent goals at the same time.  I was running the race with one of my best friends, Dani Ashford, who I knew was going to crush the competition. Dani was running just her third marathon ever and unless some unheralded speedster came out of the woods, there was no way she would lose. Dani did not share this sentiment, especially given her inability to train as of late because of a busy work schedule, ridiculous amounts of snow in the Twin Cities area where she lives and a soon-to-be-happening move across the country.

On the Saturday before the race, in between signing a book or two at the packet pickup, I checked out the terrain and course with Dani. With the marathon course being just shy of 120 loops, we figured that 90 second loops were necessary for a 2:59:59. Dani, hoping to run a 3:10 would have to average 95 seconds per lap. We tested out the turns of the course which were far more forgiving than we expected they would be, except for one which was far sharper than ideal.  Both Dani and I were employing ICEPSIKEs on our shoes and wanted to see how they would work on this terrain.  Dani told me that one of her weakest skills was handling turns-something one would definitely have trepidation about with a course that had over 800 of them.  Having a decent eye of angles and how to run them I pointed out to Dani how and where to make cuts, showing that hugging each wall would be inefficient in some places and of utmost importance in others.  How well this advice would play out in the next day with dozens of other runners around us remained to be seen.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anticipating SandBox Indoor Trail Marathon

With my 127th Marathon looming, one could think that the marathon itself may have gotten a little stale for me.  And I have often felt in races myself, "OK, let's get to mile 20 please so we can then really see what this race has in store."  However, I am giddy with excitement about the Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon which I detailed in a blog posting HERE.

My goal for this race is no secret- I would like to go sub-3 hours for the third straight marathon this year. However, with the unique layout of the course, with what seems to be two right angle turns and no less than 5 curves to go around every lap (of ~105 laps, give or take), is that something I can do?  I have no idea and that is what is intriguing me!

I am also especially curious to see what riff-raff (and i include myself in this description) shows up to run this race.  I think that says a great deal about the character of the people who decided to try out a new race in a new venue in a completely unique fashion.  They are adventurers and experimenters.  You will have some plodders and you will probably have a 2:35 guy who is hoping to mop up the competition is a small-town race.

I do know one of my favorite people in the world will be there - Dani Ashford.  The former Minnesota golden Gopher Steeplechaser will be taking part in her third marathon.  I more or less convinced her to do this one since it is so close to her home.  So even though she is in the midst of packing her life into boxes for a cross-country and the ridiculous amount of snow and cold weather have kept her training down, she is doing the marathon as well.  And she has to be one of the favorites to win the women's race for sure.

Because of the unique surface of the race, I will be employing a product I use for slick footing back home in Salt Lake City called ICESPIKE.  Having utilized them in the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile trail race last year and seeing how they provided great footing but also were unobtrusive at the same time. I thought this would be the perfect place to try them in a race as well.

So there are all sorts of fun and interesting things to look forward to in this race.  it is going to be an exciting weekend for sure!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ING Miami Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 3rd Edition 
65.5 miles raced in 2011
Race: ING Miami Half Marathon
Place: Miami, FL
Miles from home: 2532 miles
Weather: 60-70s; Slight humidity, sunshine

I have come to learn the difference in cold weather over the past few years.  Nothing I have experienced in Salt Lake City has compared to East Coast cold.  It is, plain and simply, the humidity.  you hear about a dry heat and scoff but I will take 95 degrees in SLC over 80 in, say Washington D.C. with its normal humidity any day of the week.

After getting reintroduced to weather that hurts when visiting my family in NW PA last weekend (-14 degrees or so in temperature- not counting wind chill) the 30 plus degrees in Salt Lake City when I returned home was downright balmy.  The 60s and 70s in Miami this past weekend were glorious.  But what was so wonderful about this weekend’s weather, at least for me and many other similar runners, was very low humidity in the air.  In fact, the weather conditions were just about perfect.
Me, some guy named Dick or something, and GP.

As is usual, I met a plethora of fascinating and special people at the expo where I was happy to be part of an excellent guest speaker schedule which included my good friend GP Pearlberg.  I saw runners who I had first met last year when I ran the Miami Marathon and got to catch up on how their running had gone the through the past 365 days.

My goal for the weekend was to help my good friend Shannon set a new personal best in the half-marathon.  Having already done two marathons in January alone, her attempt at setting a new PR in the half might be stretching it a bit (especially since she is not fully back from a severe iron deficiency problem late last year and is still getting used to a completely new gluten-free diet.) But I like to help people strive for all they can get.  As Robert Browning said “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?”