Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oakland Running Festival Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 9th Edition 
170.3 miles raced in 2011
Race: Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon
Place: Oakland, CA       
Miles from home: 736 miles
Weather: 50 degrees; Slightly humid.

This race was part four in a four-part plan during the month of March to try and find some fast twitch muscle fibers in these old legs of mine.  In case you hadn't read some of my most recent recaps, in the middle of the humid and windy 13.1 Miami Beach race I decided to change both my Georgia Marathon and Oakland Marathon racing plans.  Instead of doing the marathon at both, I would be doing the half instead, realizing now was not the time to simply be adding marathons to my notched belt.  Rather, I would try to speed up my turnover in lieu of upcoming short-distance triathlons and races like the Fit for Business 5k and 10k in May!

After a warm 1:25 in Miami, a much cooler Sarasota Half Marathon the next week allowed me to tie for my second fastest time ever in a half.  Last week in Georgia was a step-down race to rest just a touch before tackling Oakland here. I did not necessarily feel that best in the world but as I have told so many, rarely do we feel great on race day.  But you can't get to the finish line unless you toe the start line.


At the expo I spent almost as much time talking about my fueling habits as I did about the 52 Marathons in 2006.  People were extremely interested in learning what exactly I eat in order to keep going.  I told them there is no magic pill or elixir out there.  A simple and healthy diet is key.  For me, rather than trying to figure out where I will get all the nutrients I need on a daily basis, I simplify it all by eating as much lean beef as possible. There are plenty of ways to fuel your body but I can think of no better, or tastier way, to fuel mine.

From my vantage point at the expo I could see outside and saw the dreary and dismal weather from the past few days was continuing outside. Technically, it was more or less perfect running weather if the rain would stop falling.  But it sure did not make for a pretty day.  I was ready for the day to dissolve into night so I could help myself to my traditional steak dinner and head off to bed.

With a 9 AM start, one of the latest race times I have ever had (and one I was not even aware of until fellow attorney and runner and new friend Caitlin made me aware of it the evening prior to the race at the expo itself) I actually got to sleep in some. Without a doubt, I appreciated every bit of this - waking around 8:00 AM to slowly go through the motions of readying myself. Soon I found myself standing near the starting line, speaking with gentleman named Sam. Sam was shooting for a 1:17 and was standing all alone near the starting line. I sauntered up to him and we chatted for a bit, laughing at how no one else would come close to the front.  Or those who would were still getting in some last minute sprints out in front of the timing mat.  It is a half-marathon - I am sure you will find some time to work out the kinks, guys!

A fantastic rendition of the National Anthem was sung and we stood rather spellbound.  Soon it was time to inch up toward the starting line.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review - Beyond the Iron

In the interest of full disclosure, I was asked to write one of the intros for the new book by Wayne Kurtz called Beyond The Iron.  However, I agreed to write that intro for his book because I felt it was a fascinating read with wonderful insight into a world few will ever tread.

For the most part, Wayne's book is not for everyone. That may seem like not the best thing to say about a book I am most assuredly giving a positive review to. However, I stand by the statement.  You see, Beyond the Iron is a book for those few athletes out there interested in learning about and training for Ultra-Distance Triathlons.  If you are curious what an Ultra-distance triathlon is, more or less it is any triathlon longer than an Ironman.  Yep, longer.  (Read a little more about those types of races here.)  Beyond the Iron introduces the reader to those races, describes the idea and history behind them, as well as including a 20-week training plan to prepare a triathlete for a double iron event. Within the book there are a great deal of ideas on strength training, properly fueling oneself for these extraordinarily long events, how to set goals, and finally, preparing oneself mentally to tackle these seemingly impossible races.

Wayne himself is a numerous finisher of all differing varieties of Ultra-Distance Triathlons and if there is any event where the one telling you how to compete must have actually been in the competition to describe what is needed to take on one of these mammoth endeavors, it is an Ultra-Distance Triathlon.

As with any training book, it can be a little dry at times, simply because a 20 week training plan is a great deal of info about working out that is fun to complete but a little stale to read. Nevertheless, this is a good read filled with invaluable insight. Check out Beyond the Iron if you are looking to get into pushing yourself to the extreme.

I give it 4 out of 5 See Dane Runs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Georgia Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 8th Edition 
157.2 miles raced in 2011
Race: Georgia Half-Marathon
Place: Atlanta, GA       
Miles from home: 1890 miles
Weather: 60 degrees; Slightly humid.

I decided that for this race I was going to be minimalist.  No lubricant, no breakfast food, no drinking of any liquids before the race. I would eschew deodorant and say never-you-mind to even thinking about showering before the race. Now, why would I do all this?  Am I suddenly the most eco-friendly runner in the world?  Nope.  So when did I decide to do all of this?

Well, when I woke up at 6:50 AM.  For a 7:00 AM race.

After yest another wonderful weekend of making new friends and meeting old ones at the expo, I was not sure exactly what I was going to try and run.  Having decided two weeks prior that I was going to change from the marathon to the half as I try to work on my shorter distance speeds, I had run a fairly decent 1:23 in Sarasota last weekend and was faced with a quandary. What to do with the rather hilly course here in Georgia?  No matter how hard I pushed, chances are the time on the clock would not be to my liking.  Plus, just one week after running my second fastest half ever, I felt a slight step down would be nice.  But what time? 1:27? 1:25?

Speaking to my friend Bobby Overton who works for the company SpiBelt, I found out he was shooting to run sub-1:30.  I asked him if he would want some company and when he agreed I now had my goal. We planned to meet in Corral A where we were both would be seeded and give it a go.

Then I forgot to wake up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Terry Hitchcock- My Run

I first heard about Terry Hitchock and his story a few years ago.  It is quite an amazing one and one that has been immortalizing in a movie coming out March 31st.  Rather than bore you with the details, allow me to whet your appetite with a short video.

I was given some boilerplate language to promote the movie as well, but I felt it was inadequate to really grasp what Terry had done. Saying Terry had run 75 marathons in 75 days was also, in my opinion, a misnomer given he hadn't actually run a marathon race on 75 consecutive days.  Like so many people who had done amazing running feats, in order for the public the grasp how far they have run, media outlets often use the term "marathon" to say how long they have run.  But to me, and hosts of others, a marathon is not just a distance run- it is a race. And terry's story was about much more than just a race on 75 days.

In fact, I felt that the story was so incredible that to try and add anything to it that was not 100% true would distract from the wonderful story in the first place.  So I will simply allow you to view the video for yourself and see what an incredible journey terry took.

I hope you will support the running community by viewing this movie when it comes out March 31st!  the more people who view movies and purchase books about running measn the more opportunities other people with amazing stories to tell will be able to bring those stories to not only other runners but the masses as well!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sony Walkman W-Series review

I received a pair of the Sony Walkman W-Series for review recently and have to admit I was skeptikal.  Not because of anything Sony designed or how the product would work but with my own genetic design.  There is no secret my ears stick out a touch and as such, it often makes having headphones in while exercising quite the pain.  Now granted, I don't wear music when I run too often but occasionally it is a good pick me up.  So when I do wear headphones, I can find myself constantly shoving the buggers back in there.

So when I see a product that looks nothing more than a pair of slightly weightier headphones, which would appear to me to simply slide out of my ear as I job along, I have a doubt about whether the product will actually work for me.  I can say, after a run in the Walkman W-Series yesterday that I am pleasantly surprised.

As I ran around the hilly roads of Fort Yargo State Park with my good friend Shannon, I knew staying in my ear would be the highest test.  And even while I would occasionally have to give them a little shove (I like to have the earphones snug in my ear) they stayed right where they were supposed to be.  The volume on the player was excellent and the buttons, which took a minute or two to familiarize myself with (as I do with any new gadget), soon became second nature.

Uploading music to the player, which has 2 gigs worth of space was relatively straightforward.  I am still trying to figure out exactly what the magnetized portion of the ends of the headphones do but I think when they are together it shuts the device off.  To be honest, I haven't had time to read the instructions which i am sure clearl delineate that!  But that tells you how easy these are to use!

Of course, I still hold skepticism about how much Meb Keflezighi , a spokesperson for this mp3 players wears the product (then again some people are always skeptical about the products I use too, so I guess it simply will always be like this), but the fact remains I was quite pleased with its overall perfromance.  I cannot wait to give it more tests runs in the future.

In the meantime, two of my readers will receive their own Sony Walkman W-series as a gift from Sony themselves. I will be holding a random drawing tonight of those who are friends of me on Facebook to give those W-Series players away.

Others interested in getting their own player can also use this special code to get a discount off of the normal price of $60.  By clicking HERE, you can get your own Walkman W-Series for just $49!  

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sarasota Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 7th Edition 
144.1 miles raced in 2011
Race: Sarasota Half-Marathon
Place: Sarasota, FL       
Miles from home: 2386 miles
Weather: 53 degrees; darn near perfect if not for the occasional gusts of wind.

I went for a gorgeous run of mile repeats on a man-made causeway to a spit of an island called Howard Park.  Beautiful and warm sunshine crisped my skin while a cool breeze kept me from overheating.  The run was so wonderful that I thought about doing it the next day even though it was a 30 minute drive from my brother’s house where I was staying. Then a cold storm blew in, as is wont to do in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico and changed my plans.  This storm also significantly affected how well I would run on Sunday at the Sarasota Half Marathon in a positive way.

As I had the previous week prior to the 13.1 Miami Beach, this week I had done a book signing at various locations in the greater Sarasota area.  With no “expo” per se I was able to meet and great many runners who were interested in speaking but not enticed by magnetic holograms which somehow were supposed to help their balance.  The more runners I met, the more times I realized I was hardly the only one doing back to back half marathons.  I guess many Floridians were taking advantage of two top-notch races, taking place just two hours of driving apart, before the crushing heat and humidity of summer in South Florida set in. Everyone was raving about how nice the weather was going to be which, of course, made us all nervous as heck that the weather was going to turn bad.  However, aside from some forecasted wind, nothing looked poor about the next morning’s run whatsoever.

I finished a long day at the running store on the day before the race with a yummy beef lasagna to fuel me up properly for an attempt to run much faster than I had the previous week at the 13.1 Miami Beach. My fantastic friend Shannon was using this race as a tune-up for a marathon run the next weekend at Virginia Beach.  At dinner we were kindly interrupted by a group of people who asked if I was Novak Djokovic. While I can see the resemblance, I think I would have been flattered more by Brad Pitt.  Or maybe if I was depositing Djokovic’s paycheck, then I would be happy. Nevertheless, the good laugh ended a great day as we readied for the race the next morning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oakland Marathon

I have spent a great deal of time running on the side of the bay that most people think of when you mention the Bay Area of California. From running every one of the races that the San Francisco Marathon has to offer to winning the 6 hour New year's ever race on December 31st just of last year.  When I heard last year that the people who put on the fantastic Baltimore Marathon were going to also put on an entire Running Festival across the country in Oakland, I was ecstatic.

Then I found out it was scheduled for the weekend of my Umstead 100 miler - an integral race in my step up to run 202 miles.  I could not cancel the 100 miler so I vowed to return to Oakland asap.  Well, that just so happens to be next weekend on March 27th when I take part in the Oakland Running Festival Half-marathon!

Starting right in front of Oakland City Hall, the race will traverse plenty of historic places in the area, including a trip around scenic and runner-friendly Lake Merritt.  After that I will just be trying to hang on for dear life as the runners in this race last year threw down some blistering times.  My PR would have only netted me third in my own age group!

I know some people I spoke to about this race were worried that it may be a little hilly.  To be honest, it does look to have an uphill climb for the last 1.5 miles.  however, as i have heard at least in some shape or form many times "Don't wish it were easier. Wish you were better."

I like the challenge of taking on a tough course against fast competition. I love the idea of running a race for the first time. The exhilaration of the unknown is tingling.  Over 3,000 runners in the half alone last year seemed to agree with me as they took on the inaugural event. They must have know, like I already was aware, that an event sponsored by Corrigan Sports Enterprises,is almost guaranteed to be top-notch. Having done two separate Charity Chasing runs at both the Frederick Marathon and Baltimore Marathon in 2007 and 2008 respectively (both events operated by CSE), I am definitely no stranger to the wonderful work they do.

As such, I cannot wait to be running one of their races again, this time in an completely new venue!  Hope to see you in Oakland! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

13.1 Miami Beach Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 6th Edition 
131 miles raced in 2011
Race: 13.1 Miami Beach
Place: Miami Beach, FL       
Miles from home: 2535 miles
Weather: 75 degrees; HUMID; windy


This was an extremely bittersweet weekend for me.  I always enjoy being part of the 13.1 series and spending time in Miami prior to the death march that is the summer humidity season is always a plus.  Unfortunately, a good friend of mine, Stephanie Goodrich, was in a very serious cycling accident and was recovering in the ICU here in Fort Lauderdale. She was supposed to have been out racing with the rest of the over 3,000 people at the 13.1 Miami Beach but was instead battling for her life.  In a stroke of good luck and fortune and whatever else you may wish to attribute it to, Stephanie has made remarkable strides in her recovery in such a short period of time.  However after multiple brain surgeries she has a long road ahead of her.  So while I was here to enjoy myself, I could not take my mind off my friend and how she was supposed to be breaking a sweat on the roads with me. There was no doubt in my mind that I was dedicating this race to her, our friendship, and her hopeful quick recovery.

My thoughts for the race itself, which seemed far less significant but just as important to keep myself moving forward, were to run in the 1:22-1:24 range.  As I am trying to transition from marathons and ultras this year into triathlons using shorter distance racing to help me do so, my desire was to try and get my fast twitch muscle fibers firing as much as possible. That is if I have any fast-twitch muscles fibers (either “left” or “in my body to begin with”.  You choose.)

Part of the ever growing 13.1 Series, the 13.1 Miami Beach race allowed me to mix and mingle with a variety of runners, many who were even more new to the running experience than those I usually get to speak to.  With a half marathon and a 5k on the docket, many of the runners were uber-newbies when it came to running. I had to refocus my attention when asked questions as I realized that much of my usual advice would be lost on people who had often never run more than 2 miles in their life.  It was slightly refreshing to have to fire some new synapses in my brain and not simply rely on rote memories to dispense advice to many.

At a book signing at the Runner’s Depot in Aventura  I had the pleasure of meeting Meagan Nedlo, a recent Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon who was working for one of the sponsors of the 13.1 series.  It was quite a stark contrast between those who were hoping to complete 3.1 miles of running and a woman who was going to compete against the top female runners in the nation in just a little over a year.  However, we would all be on the same race course at the same time (if Megan had been actually running instead of working the event, that is) which is what makes the entire sport of running so wonderful and cool.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cowtown Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 5th Edition 
117.9 miles raced in 2011
Race: Cowtown Marathon
Place: Fort Worth, TX
Miles from home: 1218 miles
Weather: 65 degrees; HUMID

As a fella obsessed with numbers, the Cowtown Marathon presented a milestone for me.  As my 128th lifetime marathon, this race signified that I would have finally run as many marathons post-Fiddy2 as I had when I finished that excursion.  With 12 marathons prior to the 52 Marathons, I had 64 done by the end of 2006.  If I was able to stumble across the finish line at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, I would have done 64 more since then.

My average for those first 64 marathons? 3:22:08 (This includes a 5:17 marathon at Leadville.)

My average for the next 63? 3:14:10 (This too includes a Leadville marathon as well as a Pikes Peak Marathon and a stumbling-forward-with-food-poisoning-marathon in China in 2007.)

What does this all mean?  Doesn’t really matter, actually.  I just like numbers. Which is why I had my eye on this particular race for quite some time. Two years ago I had been at the Cowtown Marathon but had not run it as the next day I was taking part in my first USATF Championship race (a 50k which I had one of the better races of my life and took 10th overall.) I was so impressed with what I saw at Cowtown that I came back last year and actually ran it as one of my final tune-up races before my solo 202 miler.  This year, with a brand new course and lots of changes installed I was happy to be back again.  Given there is an ultra option always available chances are good I will be back again next year taking part in that.  But I had to get through this race first.

As is almost a 100% guarantee in the days prior to the race, I spoke to many runners who were either running their first race or nervous or both.  Many assume I no longer have butterflies in my stomach given the number of races under my shoes.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I may not get nervous about that which I do not know any more but there is plenty I know which gives me quite a fair amount of pause. One of the things I do know is how poorly my body adapts to humidity and unfortunately, race morning called for heaping amounts of that.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going Back to Cali - Fit for Business 5k/10k

I know I am both
a. old
b. may possible have too much random stuff floating around in my head when

anytime I think of going to California I am reminded of LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali".  The first tones of brassiness at the beginning of this song were once an ex-girlfriend's ringtone and whenever I hear it on the radio I still have a Pavlovian response to reach for my cell.  Then I realize that was like 6 years and 5 phones ago and I settle back and just enjoy one heck of a song.  It nevertheless always makes me think of a warm and fun place.

I mention this because I am heading back to California again after spending a wonderful weekend in Huntington Beach last month.  This time I get to take part in an inaugural 5k and 10k in Bakersfield, called "Fit For Business!" I was looking for an opportunity to test my legs and see if they had any fast-twitch muscle fibers left as I get ready for as many triathlons as possible in 2011.  Contacted to help kick off an inaugural event by the Kern Economic Development Foundation to be their keynote speaker and run in my choice of 5k or 10k which would do just that was just plain serendipity.

Registration for these races will open March 24th, but I wanted to start getting the word out now for all of those looking for a way to shake off some rust in May, push your boundaries or just enjoy an Saturday run in Bakersfield!

Stay tuned for more information as it gets developed and check out their facebook page HERE for more details as well!