Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Revolution Run

Earlier in the year I was barely ahead of the least miles I have ever run in one calendar year (which was, ironically the year I ran 52 Marathons). I knew the reasons – travel, racing, and working all lowered the numbers.  My threshold for a successful year is 2,000 miles.  Not because it is arbitrary but because I have found if I am running around that many miles in a year, my results are best. When it appeared I was going to be in the 1800 mile range I didn’t fret.  But slowly a few things fell into place and with the last three weeks of December all being spent in my home (a rarity), the miles piled up. It wasn’t until this past weekend when I did my fake marathon run at Liberty Park that I realized that not only would I probably get 2,000 miles, I might actually get 2011 in 2011.

Then I also realized this was unnecessary.  I would already be upping my miles quite a bit this week and given that I had a fleeting bout with the beginnings of an injury just a few months ago, ramping up for the sake of hitting some milestone was pointless.  So I decided I would simply run what I was planning on running and if 2,000 was hit  - great! That said, barring an injury in the next three days, I will hit 2,000 miles somewhere on the Olympic Oval here in Salt Lake City early New Year’s Eve morning.

Two years ago, when a race got canceled on NYE I made up my own 6 hour run, doing 2 three hour loops of Liberty Park with a brief break in between each.  I did this to simulate what I would experience in the 202 mile run I was going to do just a few months later.  Last year I went to San Francisco and on a day where many seasoned ultrarunners ran well below their usual goals, was able to win the One Day Run with a total of 41.4 miles in 6 hours.

This year, I neither have to travel nor make up my own race as I will be running the New Year's Revolution Run. Supporting the Autism Council of Utah, running with old and soon-to-be-new friends as well, I am looking forward to another great ending to another great year. I will be shooting for about 30 miles, or 110 laps of the oval but the entire four hours will be just about having fun. hope to see many of you there!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Loopin around Liberty

So I described my Christmas morning run last week and I can say it went off smashingly yesterday morning. Seventeen loops of Liberty Park with a jog there and back to give me a smidgen over 26.2 miles.

My friend Chris was kind enough to waste part of his holiday morning with me and helped me kick off the first four 1.5 mile-loops at a nice clip (12:28, 12:16, 11:53, 11:47).  Chris is mostly a cyclist who is trying to cycle all of the designated state routes in Utah.  You can read about his adventures here. He has, however, taken to enjoy running even more lately, so it was a pleasure to have him out there helping me get my butt moving.

We talked about how I hoped to see Henry, who is an older gentleman I see on occasion when I run in the mornings.  I talk about Henry, ironically, in this post about a run on Christmas morning two years ago. We had not seen him by the time Chris skedaddled to go home to his wife and celebrate the holiday but three loops later (11:38, 11:49, 11:53), there Henry was!  I saw him for the next few more loops before he went about his business once again. As certain family members of mine struggles with health issues it is a melancholy feeling I get seeing Henry, so vibrant and alive, out here all the time.  It will be a truly sad day when I don't see him anymore.

The next series of loops was, to put it one way, odd. Somehow, even though at the halfway point of each loop, my times were all over the place, the next 7 loops somehow being almost exact mirrors or one another (11:38, 11:38, 11:38, 11:31, 11:38, 11:38, 11:36).  When each loop popped up with that 11:38, I just laughed more and more.  Being a little tired, I would forget about it until the loop was ending, hit my watch, and laugh again.

I saw more than a few runners out on this morning but a couple running together were out there for quite sometime.  They were running the opposite direction (who runs clockwise?! Weirdos.) and slightly slower than me so I got to see them pretty frequently.  They would sometimes stop, sometimes walk and sometimes utilize either the cedar chip trail or sidewalk.  I was very curious about what exactly they were out there looping around for but I am sure they were thinking the same thing of me.

My friend Darby showed up and did a few loops as well and it was nice to be able to see her.  A few other friendly faces popped in and out and I loved how so many people were taking advantage of a pretty darn nice running day.  The inversion (Utah pollution for those not in the know) wasn't too bad, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the high 20s or low 30s.

I saw I had an off chance to run virtually the exact same time as I had run last year (3:24:26) so I picked up the pace a touch on the last three loops (11:27, 11:24, 11:14).  It wasn't enough however and I ended up running just a hair off in 3:25:31.  I was pretty darn pleased. Kind of amazing to me how just running a minute or so off of pace per mile can make even 26 miles seem relatively easy.  Given the adventure I have coming up next April, this was definitely food for thought.  

Here's hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Running Fun

Last year I had my plans for all the major holidays mapped out.  Then life intervened. So I had to change them.  On Christmas morning I decided I would run a marathon distance around the loop in Liberty Park, the park across the street from where I live.   (I seriously love this freaking park. Made a video of it HERE. Yes, it is schmaltzy on purpose.)

When I move from Salt Lake City, I am going to total up the number of miles I have run on this 1.5 mile loop. It would surprise me none if the total was over 2,000.  It is convenient, safe, clean and flat. It is absolutely perfect for me.  Some people think the idea of doing 17 loops (25.5 miles plus the .75 of a mile total from my doorstep to the start and back) sounds monotonous and boring. Which is fine because I find some people boring. So it all evens out.  But the loops of Liberty allows me to just zone out.  No stoplights to worry about and no street crossings -  just the occasional idiot drive in a car not realizing they need to slow when they enter a pedestrian place and lots of time with one's own thoughts.

Last year I was clipping along at a very solid pace when I realized that I was actually going to run a solid marathon time for a simple training run.  I ended up running 3:24. I had a few people pop in for a few laps which really warmed my spirits on a chilly day. Christmas this year looks like it will be more of the same - quite brisk with a light covering of snow.

I have no idea what I will run this year in the Second Annual Dane Rauschenberg Memorial Christmas Mid-Morning 26.25 Marathonish Distance Classic and it really doesn’t matter.  It is about embracing the ability to exercise and having fun while doing so.  Even though it is Christmas morning and I would rather be spending it with my family and friends, burning off 3500 calories, enjoying what should be by then clean air and spending time to think about those I cannot be with is not a bad replacement.

So starting at 9 AM (ish - again, it's Christmas!), you will know where to find me for the next 200 minutes or so.  And if you don’t see me, stand in one spot and in less than 12 minutes guaranteed I will go running by.

Merry Christmas everyone! Love you, Mom and Dad!

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Marathons in Review

I knew this year would not be one that was focused on marathons. In fact, half-marathons alone outnumbered fulls 20-14. Throw in my beginnings of a foray into the triathlon world, all while continuing to travel and speak and promote health and fitness, and I am surprised I even got 14 marathons in at all.

Of course, one always hopes to do well when they toe the starting line and in spite of training that really did not point to it, I was hoping for a PR in the marathon distance in 2011.  That didn’t happen.  But in hindsight, 2011 was a very good year for me marathon-wise. 

First, I did my first ever back-to-back sub-3 hour marathons. I was surprised I hadn’t done this before, but lo and behold there are still plenty of things for me to achieve in marathoning. Second, in spite of a near Achilles tear that would have sidelined me for quite some time, forcing me to shuffle through a marathon and reconfigure my schedule for the remainder of the year, I averaged the fastest overall marathon time for a calendar year since 2008.

So as the year comes to a close, here is a look back at the marathons I did in 2011. (Full recaps can be accessed by clicking in the name of the race!)

01.08.11    Mississippi Blues Marathon - MS

For the third straight year I was honored to be the guest of the MS Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS. In 2009, it had been hot and humid.  In 2010, bitter cold.  2011’s weather was darn near perfect.  Finally starting to get over what had been a horrendous-month long cold, I was just one week removed from winning the 6-hour NYE race in San Francisco.  Funny how one thinks that because the calendar changes the body should be refreshed.  I remember going out at a sub-3 pace for the first 5 miles and knowing there was no way that would continue.

Somehow it did and I ran a 2:59:43. (Video HERE)

01.16.11    RNR AZ Marathon - AZ

Right before the race I did some stat searching and was shocked I had never done consecutive sub-3s before.  Well, I figured I could not only do that but also try to knock off  “2:57” from the times I have never run previously in a marathon.  I fell off the pace in the last 5k and missed that 2:57 goal but still got a nice 2:58:39 to get the back to back sub-3s. Great way to start the year.   

Friday, December 16, 2011

Active at Altitude - Life Changing Training Camp

 I have been extremely blessed in my running life.  I have experienced almost uninterrupted health with just the niggling of an injury here and there. Through my own speeches and presentations, I have spoken to literally thousands of people, heard their stories and have been inspired. My great fortune continues with some of the luminaries in this sport who I can actually call real friends. All that I have been doing in the exercise world for the past half of a decade was not just to see how fast I can get from point A to point B (although that has been definitely an integral part) but rather to learn as much as possible, explore what the body can do, give and receive information from athletes of all abilities and soak all of it in. My desire has been about more than just being an active participant in the sports I love but to give back what I have learned.  I have always said that knowledge not shared is wasted.

That is why I am able to announce, with the utmost of pleasure, I have been asked to host one of Terry Chiplin’s Active at Altitude Running Camps, set to take place from May 13 to May 18, 2012 in stunning Estes Park, Colorado.

I have spent some time in Estes Park already and cannot wait to be back there again just a few weeks shy of my 36th birthday. More information about the camp, prices and everything else can be found on the Active at Altitude website To be working with Terry, who has conducted dozens of these camps, is a treat and an honor. Terry and I have been working on this camp for months and will be giving campers an experience they will never forget.

So start planning your schedule for next year and let us all teach you how to Refuse to Settle!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kiawah Island Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 44th Edition 
683.1 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Kiawah Island Half Marathon
Place: Kiawah Island, SC
Miles from home:  2199 miles
Weather: 40-50s; overcast, slightly humid

Going into my final traveling race of the year I was quite excited. First, to be back in Kiawah, a race that I rank as one of my favorites, was indeed a treat.  To be asked to be the presenter at the post-race dinner for the second straight year was an honor and the cause for more excitement. At the dinner I would be premiering the trailer for the short film that was made about my solo running of the 202 mile American Odyssey Relay in 2010. Ever since the race was completed I have had to muzzle myself and not talk too much about the race or even write a recap of sorts. Mostly, I had no idea how I could even encapsulate how amazing the adventure was or how grateful I was for my crew’s assistance in a typical recap. Then, when I first got a glimpse of the footage for the entire endeavor about a year ago, I knew how I could do all of those things by making sure I kept the vast amount of my feelings and emotions about the trek quiet until the movie was finally released.

While the release date is soon, but unknown (most of the editing process and everything involved is completely out of my hands) being able to at least show the trailer for the movie has had me ecstatic for weeks. So, even though this is out of chronological order, as I ended my weekend by showing this trailer, I will start this recap off by showing you what those in Kiawah were the very first to see.  Click Here to watch!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More than the Bare Minimum

I once was checking my email and saw some of the headlines posted under my web browser’s “Hot Topics List”.  More often than not I glance at these for two seconds (as I do not care about Justin Beiber or most of what counts as a hot topic) but I do like to be informed about the world around me.

However, on this day, one of the headlines was:

"The bare minimum amount of exercise you need to stay healthy (it's less than you think!)"

I shook my head and read on. The gist of the article is that just seven minutes of exercise weekly, if it is vigorous, may prevent diabetes by controlling your blood sugar. Yep, SEVEN MINUTES a week. British researchers say that "You can make just as big as an effect doing this as you can by doing hours and hours of endurance training each week."

OK, let's get serious here. I get the reason for this article. Every single person in America thinks they have the busiest schedule on the planet. No one else has a job, or kids or a life to balance. As such, it is hard to find time to exercise (or so I am told.)

These articles are designed to say "Hey, I know you are super-d-duper busy but you CAN still be healthy." They are trying to get people to at least start on an exercise plan hoping that the feel-good benefits will make them exercise more, plan their day better, eat more healthily and do so incrementally. I get that. Sometimes it is the baby steps that are needed to get us going.

The problem is the article is only talking about what "may" be needed to help control your blood sugar. I think every exercise sports therapist type person in the world would agree that blood sugar alone and its control are not all that is needed to stay healthy, as the title suggests.

And do we really want to be advocating the bare minimum? Is that what this country has come to? I mean, the obesity epidemic is well-documented. After returning from foreign countries I am shocked at how fat the average American is.  Or, in my line of work, after spending a weekend at a health and fitness expo, walking into an airport is a shock to the system. When I was in Korea a few years ago, my two Aussie friends and I played a game of "Spot the Overweight Korean Person." It took us over half an hour to even find one and we were out running amongst the masses. Do you think you could make it to your car before the winner of that same game would be declared here in America?

Perhaps I am too sensitive to the entire exercise side of things. People know what I have done and think that it is obvious that I am all for exercising because it is so easy for me. I am here to tell you that hasn't always been the case. I was definitely overweight in college when I played rugby. Not obese but I did eat a little too much a little too late in the day and too often the wrong types of food. So suffice it to say that even though I know the health benefits of exercise, a run can sometimes be the last thing in the world I want to do.

But here is the kicker. I will run/swim/bike etc.  I will not necessarily go run vigorously for 7 minutes and come home and call it a day. Bare minimum or not, I want more. And I am not saying that solely about running and exercise. I am talking about life.

Do not settle for bare minimum. Refuse the status quo. Strive for more. If you fall short of more it will still be far greater than the equivalent of 7 minutes a week.

Monday, December 5, 2011

St Jude Memphis Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 43rd Edition 
670  miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: St Jude Memphis Marathon
Place: Memphis, TN
Miles from home:  1519 miles
Weather: 40-50s; sunny, windy

In my third marathon ever, the Marine Corps Marathon, I ran as a St Jude Hero, having raised the requisite amount of money required to run for the organization as a charity runner.  In fact, the race was so challenging for me, if I had not been wearing the red singlet with the St Jude name on the front, I am unsure whether I would have finished. Heat exhaustion had taken over well short of the 26.2 mile mark and just the desire to show that what I was dealing with was nothing compared to what the children had to handle on a daily basis kept me moving forward. When I finished, I was a dreaded mess and remember vividly thinking I would never attempt another marathon again. Obviously, that did not stick.

As I near the end of one of my many running goals, it is no coincidence that Tennessee would be the 46th state I had run a marathon in. You see, I had been saving this particular state for the official St Jude Marathon held in Memphis every year. Finally, this year my schedule abated and I was not only able to run the race but along with Hal Higdon and a few other speakers, kick-started the first every speakers bureau that the St. Jude Marathon has had. This was a fantastic honor for me.

Working with the Tennessee Beef Council, I was also at the expo in my penultimate appearance of the year as the spokesrunner for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Combining what I love to do (run) with what I love to eat (beef) and doing my first ever race in Tennessee in a race I had ached to do for years was the perfect trifecta. Seeing many friends who I had not seen in ages, along with meeting many people who I had talked with for quite some time but never actually met made it all even better.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't Call Me Crazy

Nope, I am not crazy. Or nuts.  Or insane.

I know it is meant as a compliment. I really do. 99% of the time I take it as such. But recently when I have heard it, it began to irk me. Let me explain.

It first started when I ran 52 Marathons in one year. It progressed when I ran four marathons in 13 days, two of those being the Boston Marathon at its regularly scheduled time, then the course again later in the day, followed by one in Korea three days later. Then with my 202-mile solo running of the American Odyssey Relay, I heard it more and more. The problem is I feel the use of the word shows both a lack of both imagination and the desire to push our limits.

Allow me to reiterate the first paragraph’s premise so it is clear. I know that no one who says that is trying to insult me. They are just trying to state that what I am doing seems a little out of the realm of their comprehension. (OK, maybe some are trying to insult me, to which, you really are going to have to try harder. I write on the internet - you don't think I know real insults?)  But there is indeed an underscoring of that word that I think is one of the problems with today’s sedentary American.

Why is running 202 miles crazy? Well, because to 99% of people in this country, running a marathon is still something that seems impossible. A 13.1 miler is still slightly insane and an “I only run when someone is chasing me” attitude pervades 290 million people in these United States. So, without a doubt, 202 miles would seem insane, even to many runners out there.

I submit we stop using the word. I think it is the real "c" word. I admit I have been caught saying it once in a while but I really try not to do so. There is nothing crazy about chasing your dreams. No insanity is needed to wish to push the boundaries of one’s own body. In fact, as I have often said, crazy is sitting at home doing nothing eating crappy food endlessly. Insanity is going to work in a dead-end job while your dreams float away. Pure madness is staying in a loveless relationship when there may be the person of your dreams just around your corner. All of those things I mentioned make you a complete and total nutter.

Me—I just want to see if something I would like to do is past my limitations. I already know what I can do. I want to see what I cannot do. So, if you wish to compliment someone because they are doing something which seems either impossible or beyond what you think you can do, find a different word.  Or make one up. Or just tell them they are inspiring and you hope to someday chase down your own unattainable goal. 

Just drop the "crazy" crap.