Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Want Less Muscle Fatigue? Run 200 Miles.

The above is the title of an article I just read and I concur.

In 2010, I ran the American Odyssey Relay, a 202 mile race from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, D.C. Normally meant for teams of 6-12, I eschewed the relay idea and did it all by myself.  I finished it in just a hair over 50 hours. Sixteen days after that I ran a challenging half marathon, at elevation, into some tough winds and took 3rd overall.

I tell you this because of an article I read in Runner's World magazine online. It is not exactly new (it came out in July) but it is one many may not have seen.  Basically, studies conducted on the 205-mile Tor des Geants in Italy found that the 200 mile finishers damaged their bodies less with smaller amounts of inflammation than runners they looked at who ran 50 and 100 mile races.

This, of course (and please read this) does not take into account/realizes it is impossible to decipher MANY factors. For example, we have no idea which 50 or 100 mile races they were looking at for their sample in comparison. Even so, the same 50 or 100 mile race can have vastly different times from year to year, even for the same runners.  So, acknowledging that there are a great deal of caveats in this, I have to say that "the Tor des Geants athletes’ muscle damage and inflammation levels  (are) “much lower” than control subjects" is not something I am surprised about at all. When the researches attribute this to a slower pace and short cat naps, I have to say I have empirically tried it and proven it works.

To begin, my 100 mile finish of the Graveyard 100 last year left me with a respectable 21:55 finish and 12th place overall. There were also three places (miles 44, 65 and 87) where I stopped for a lengthy period of time and in the most cases, napped. At the end of the race, whilst feeling quite tuckered, I felt not nearly as decimated as one might expect from running 100 miles on pavement. (I also incorporated eating full cheeseburgers and other tactical things which work just peachy for me, but that's another story.)

The next weekend I ran a 5k in Georgia, on a course that measured long in a decent time of 19:27. That is hardly a blistering time but remove the extra portions and I went 18:xx on a hilly route just 6 days after finishing a 100 miler. Moreover, the reason I ran the 100 miler the way I did was to prepare for my 350 up the Oregon Coast.

During those 7 days of running along Highway 101, I also fit in hard running, supplemented by small breaks. Even though virtually every day had me doing other duties, like meeting with school kids for speeches or conducting interviews, I was able to get up each day and slog forward at a slower but comfortable pace. All of the above I  the way I did because of knowledge I acquired running the 202 miler.

With no real blueprint training plan out there on how to run 202 miles, I had to invent one.  It was one that constantly changed and had to be manipulated to deal with all the changes that occurred during the run. However, short rests ever 35 miles or so, while acknowledging I would be running at a MUCH slower pace than usual is how I smashed every single expectation I had for myself during the American Odyssey Relay. I took it easy in the beginning, mincing along, especially since the first 1/3 f the race comprised virtually all of the uphill. Then I had more speed and endurance as time went on and was running very quickly when I came out of my rests. Hindsight is 20/20 but all the events I have done since then have shown I utilize breaks very well and come out of them often like a new fresh runner.

What the article does not address is while there might not be a muscle fatigue as great as in other races of shorter distances, these types of runs can leave one with an empty core. What I mean by that is in the three superultras I have done (the 202, the 350 miles in Oregon and the 165 miles over three days with a marathon to boot at the end Dane to Davenport) while the measurable damage may be less, there is this deep-seated exhaustion which permeates through the whole body for weeks and sometimes months. You might have a body which can handle more than expected but you don't have the energy or desire to do much of anything.

Furthermore, according to the article:

"This shows, the researchers note, “that the amount of neuromuscular fatigue is not necessarily correlated to the difficulty of the event (duration and/or elevation).”

Again, this makes complete sense to me.  It is not necessarily the event itself which caused pain and exhaustion but how hard you attack the course. Which is why whenever well-meaning friends and fans tell me a half-marathon will be nothing for me, given what I have accomplished, I tell them anything will hurt if you run it hard enough. In addition, while many are running multiple marathons in one year, I have been told by those in the know, the reason mine stands out is because I was running at, or faster than, my previous capacity throughout the year. (Evidenced by a new PR in the 42nd weekend of the year.) Like all of the above, I got stronger as the day/week/year went on.

So, obviously, running 200 miles isn't for everyone, but chances are something of a similar, but shorter variety, could be yours if you simply re-evaluate your race pace and learn what your body can handle.

(As an aside, the film about my running of the 202 mile American Odyssey Relay is now available for purchase!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Updated Look at Cross-Training

The following is an older post I decided to update with some additions at the end:

 I am often asked how much, if any, cross-training I do in my normal routine. For the past few years, the answer was easy: slim to none.

During my 52 Marathons in 2006, I went to the gym a total of two2 times. The entire year. I was deathly afraid of an overuse injury from the gym that I simply did not go. I mean, there were other things keeping me busy that year as well but the fear of of derailing an entire year's worth of marathons by pulling a hammy doing squats kept me out of the gym. Obviously, I could have found ways to minimalize injury but I just decided avoidance was best.

In the past few years I have tried fitting in some other activities here and there but mostly, when I want to exercise, I go for a run. It is just so damn easy and convenient. Put on the shoes and go. Sure, I do some trail running here and there, which to some extent is a type of cross-training but other sports and activities have had to be pushed to the backburner. This has become increasingly true as I now make a living as a runner (so to speak.) When your paycheck relies on your legs, you can't go will-nilly repelling down a cliff or go paragliding on a whim. ( I miss those days.)

Even when I have tried to incorporate some of my old lifestyle (pre-running) back into my current life, I have met with some resistance. For example, I tried to get back into boxing last summer but after just one workout where I too quickly tried to start hitting the heavy bag, I was left with some serious aches and pains that made me swear it off for a while. I know the reason: I had simply come back too fast and too hard. But by the time I had healed I was back into my running routine. No more boxing that summer. Too bad. I have a mean hook.

However, this summer is different I have the USAT National Aquathlon Championships rapidly approaching on August 2nd. and while I was able to win my first and only triathlon on basically no prior swimming at all (report here.) I cannot possibly think I can race at this level just on muscle memory and skills learned 15 years ago.

So back into the pool I have gone. More so than any other sport I have played, it is amazing how quickly you can lose swimming shape. Fortunately, I have been keeping in good shape for the past few years and that I have always been pretty natural as a swimmer. Although I recently was reminded how awful my form was, even in my prime, when my high school swim coach for my senior year found me on facebook and teased me about it. Of course, he then wrote back "But you kept winning. Was hard to get you to change!" And apparently, I raced like Pre in the pool, even if I don't on the track. For example, in districts my senior year, I went out like a bat out of hell and even though I was seeded 5th, was able to make the eventual champion chase me down and beat me but both of us broke the previous district record in doing so.

Which brings me back to the chlorinated track, so to speak. This would mark my 5th workout in about 3 weeks in the pool. While the first few were all about getting my sea legs in me. I felt I could push it a little harder today. Still (surprisingly) reeling from my hill workout yesterday I was feeling a little pain in my left abdominal region and my back. Hoping it is just the hill workout and subsequent ab workout after it I still played it smart and dialed down the intensity.

That said, I was quite pleased to go out and do 5 x 500 yard swims on 7:04, 7:13, 7:04, 7:08 and 6:56 with about 30 seconds rest in between each one. For the runners reading this, that probably means squat. For the swimmers, they probably are thinking "And you call yourself a swimmer?!" But I will have to beg a little forgiveness as I get back into the pool mode.

I at least have done a low 5 minute 500 yard at one time. Sure it was 16 years ago but i felt this was a step in the right direction. And when I don't feel like I could have run 5 miles worth a damn today I was glad to know I could still get a pretty intense workout in the pool and rest my weary legs (because Lord know I never kick, right Coach Ague?)

Besides, how am I supposed to take advice from a guy who let me wear a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt for a photo-op?

And hey CJ and Jon. Remember how we revered the guys as gods whose 9-year-old record we broke? Well, we have now held it for nearly twice as long. Now go get in the pool, both of you. I have no doubt your strokes are as deteriorated as mine!


I wrote the above over four years ago. Since that time I have had two bad bike crashes messing up both shoulders (2009 and 2012). I have tried to take my cross-training to different directions but I always come back to running.  Even when I cycled a bit to compete in a couple of Ironman 70.3s, it was barely more than a handful of times. While I have gotten to the pool more frequently, it is still a bit of a hassle.  Running is just so much easier to go and do.

However, as I have finished running a few of my more challenging long-distance running adventures including the solo running of the American Odyssey 202 mile race, the 350 mile run along the coast of Oregon and this Fall's Dane to Davenport, I have decided to once again try to supplement my running. November will be, I am guessing, the least amount of miles I have run in six months. I have once again started going to the pool and once again been boxing. I even have gone to the gym in what has to be the first time in five years.  My legs had been giving me some problems that I don't think running alone was going to fix.  So I decided to try something new to make them better.

That's just it about exercise and life. You never know it all and when you think you do, something changes. I am always learning and experimenting. I do stand by my feeling I have held for a long time that the best way to become a better runner is to run better. Seems simple but it is true.  Now, sometimes, "running better" means to take time off from running. Rest, recover, get stronger. Sometimes it means to charge full-force into the breach.  It is a constant give and take. Like life.

Anyone who tells you they have all the answers about how to get better is simply trying to sell you something. Don't buy it. I have run 146 marathons in my life and I know I do not know everything.  But I do know I am always doing what I can to figure out what works best for me.

You should too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Response to Chad Stafko's Article that Runners Need to Get Over Themselves

OK, you wrote an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal (online). Get over it.

In case you missed it, the apparently (and unsurprisingly jowly), Chad Stafko, wrote an article about runners getting over themselves.  I saw it and immediately knew runners would (mostly rightfully) get upset upon reading the piece. But I wanted to read it with an open mind and see if he had any valid points.  I looked hard and I found a few.

Without a doubt, there are runners out there who run specifically to get attention.  They want the medals and the accolades and the facebook pictures to post. Granted, they are far outnumbered by those who do not seek to only run for attention and not the other way around as Mr. Stafko tries to concede in his “OK, I know, this isn't the case for all runners” ending. 

But here’s the thing, Mr. Stafko.  Let’s say that these people are only about getting attention through running. They somehow need to be reaffirmed by their friends and family because of some need or desire to feel like they have achieved.  Let’s say this is the one and only reason they are out there running. The ONLY thing they want is that bumper sticker to show off their running prowess.  In this scenario I am taking your diatribe and amplifying it to the nth degree. There can be nothing else in their intentions except the wanton need for the pat on the back. To which, I say, so?

What a splendid way to be narcissistic! Bettering their own health by being active. Lowering the cost of health care by doing their part not to be sick. Taking up less space and consuming less natural resources by exercising solely by locomotion. And that is the WORST case scenario!

What is a slightly better case scenario? Maybe these people are overcoming an addiction and this is how they deal with those cravings.  Maybe they are trying to put behind them the loss of a loved one and this is the way they cope. Perhaps they are trying to inspire others to chase their own dreams and leave behind the naysayers who don’t believe they can do things on their own.

You ask “Why would someone want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 10 miles adorned with fluorescent tape to avoid being struck by someone who has the good sense to use a car for a 10-mile journey?” which misses the point on so many levels.
1.    I hate getting up at 5 a.m. to go for a run. I avoid it at all costs. I run in the afternoon or the evening.  Or whenever.
2.    Nevertheless, some people have to run then as that is when they can fit it into their life with a job, children, etc.
3.    Regardless of what time they are running it is not to get from Point A to Point B in the quickest way possible or they would take the car. Instead, the “journey” has a multitude of actual reasons other than traversing the distance.

Look, obviously, I like running.  But I didn’t always. Football is my favorite sport.  I boxed Golden Gloves.  I played rugby in college. You know, all those real man sports. Then I begrudgingly took up running.  Didn’t like it right away. Actually, I loathed it. Then I realized how freeing and wonderful it is.  I found a niche.  I travelled the world.  And now I get to use my sport to better people directly and indirectly.

You say it is easy to spot the runners? Perhaps. They are often the ones with grey hair and wrinkled skin from years of exploring the world outdoors. They are the heavy ones who used to be much heavier.  They are the thin ones, the muscular ones, the old and the young, the people who are living life vicariously through themselves. In other words, they are everyone.

I’d mail you a copy of my book so you could see what I mean but apparently reading about running is the equivalent to masturbation. One thing we definitely need less in this world is people reading. Egads!

Here’s the thing: the only thing runners really need to get over is the next hill. Come join us, Chad.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Santa Barbara International Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 8; 25th Edition 
1 mile skied, 2750 meters swam, 48 miles biked and 368.1 miles run in 2013 races
Race: Santa Barbara International Half Marathon
Place: Santa Barbara, CA
Miles from home: 943 miles
Weather: 50-60s; Sunny

I have run either the Marathon or 13.1 distance at Santa Barbara four of the past five years only missing in 2011 when I was contractually obligated to be elsewhere. I don't run the race because it is easy (it is not.) I run it because the race it well-run, honors our Veterans, and, well, is a nice place to be in November.

One of the few complaints I have is the elevation profile given by the website. It is a tad misleading to the average joe. Which is why I am showing you here what you can expect to run when you take on the half marathon. Like Tucker and Dale, you are in for a doozy of a day.

As you can see, you have a few hills to contend with and I will break them down for you in my recap of this race. In addition, what would make this a different race than usual for me would that I would be carrying a US Flag to honor our Vets.  I have carried the flag once before, on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 and knew what I had in store for me. I only wish I had constructed my flagpole a little better.

Race Morning: 

The morning of the race I was fortunate enough to have my friend and fellow Team Beef member, Carin, pick me up at my hotel and take me to the start of the race. We got there with just enough time to hit the bathrooms and get ready for the race to start. Carin was hoping for a sub-2 hour half and it was her comment earlier about looking at the elevation profile and thinking it was a "flat" race that prompted me to mention it above.

Moments before the start of this race, I realized that the two pieces of thin flagpole that were simply slung together in the middle were probably not sturdy enough to survive the race. I ran over to a friend who I knew had some tape on him and seconds before I lined up, I had Old Glory seemingly ready to go.

First Three Miles: 6:22, 6:49, 6:32

All I hoped to do on this day was to run strong, show support for our Veterans and survive what might be my last race of 2013. I also wanted to stay out of as many people's way as possible.  As such, I would stay off to the side of the race course, not running the tangents and keeping my flapping flag out of the face of my competitors. When the first three miles went by in a rather surprising time, I thought perhaps I had a chance of breaking my flag-running PR set back in 2011 at the aforementioned race in Chicago. Given the fact I was facing even more technical problems with my flag was very impressive as well.  I had not pulled the zip ties connected to the grommets of the flag to the pole tight enough and it was continually sliding.  Right before the end of the third mile, after simply trying to push the flag back into position and move forward, I grabbed the nub of the zip tie I had not cut off and pulled it as tight as possible with my teeth. It finally seemed to work.

Luckily, these first three miles are simple to run with just a little bit of elevation change. After the first 2.5 miles run on city streets, you pop onto a bicycle path which, if just for a half of a mile or so, technically leaves Santa Barbara and into Goleta (thank you, Google maps!)

To the 10k: 7:14, 7:03, 7:16

I have said it before and someday I will learn why, but bicycle paths always wear me out.  Today was no different. Even though I had solved my flag problems and could concentrate my energy on running, I soon found I had little energy to run with.  Knowing there were a series of hills coming up at miles 6-8, I felt if I was feeling tired right now, I had better slow it down a touch.  Here and there a runner would pass me and compliment me on running with the flag.  It always seemed to come along right when I was feeling the most weary and I would perk right up.  I had learned from the previous time running with the flag to add a cloth handle of some sort to the pole as my sweaty hand would make it rather difficult to hold. In addition, if the handle was too thin, I would exhaust my hand trying to hold it tightly. Even having tried to solve this problem, I nonetheless, had to switch hands every once in a while as my shoulder would start to burn.

Nevertheless, the bike path running would continue until mile 5.5 when we would finally jump out onto the city streets again.  I felt a little stronger here and did my best to take in fluids. It was a gorgeous day but already far too hot for a heavy sweater like myself. A few spectators had made it out to the bike paths (although very few left the comforts of their own homes to step outside and cheer.  This is a big point of contention with me. If I had a race go by my front yard, I would be out cheering people on like crazy.  In fact, I have. Often.)

A slightly slower 6th mile had me hoping I had saved some energy for the hills.

Onto Mile 10: 7:30, 7:07, 6:36, 7:31

Coming out of the neighborhood, we made a sharp right and immediately began a climb.  So many remember the final hill's climb from previous years they tend to forget about the two rises and drops during these next few miles.  As we began the climb up the first of two roller coaster hills in a mile or so, the wind which always seems to be every-present in Santa Barbara varying only in severity, picked up a touch.  My flag whipped back and forth and looked rather elegant.  It made that wonderful snapping noise that flags make in wind and it actually made it sound like a runner was right on my heels. The wind also damn near bent the skinny flag pole in half and I had to start carrying it with two hands to keep it from snapping. Ruh-roh. Seven more miles of this might get a touch tiring.

As my pace slowed here and there, fighting the wind and the hills with no arms to pump, a runner would pass me occasionally.  All had kind words to say whether it was about my effort or the flag. One gentleman said something, looked at me and said, "You're THAT guy!"  I agreed with him knowing full well what he met (I had spoken to him briefly at the expo) but didn't have much of a witty comeback other than "Yep, I am that guy."  As he pulled away he just said "52.  Wow."

Running down a hill, I can usually make up time on virtually anyone.  But my legs were simply exhausted and sore.  Not used to this happening so early into a race, I just decided that the difference between a 1:29 and a 1:31 or whatever was not worth looking bad holding the flag.  It is amazing how much straighter and truer you run when you are carrying your nation's colors. I am not sure I would consider myself an enormous patriot but as much as is wrong with our country, I do love it.  I love those who serve and protect us and allow, as I say, goof-offs like myself to play around on weekends knowing we are about as safe as is possible in a dangerous world.

Back up another hill and then down another, the crowds grew a little more dense. I would hear clapping as I passed and would raise the flag as high as I could. The clapping and cheering got louder and it urged me forward. As we passed under an overpass, I heard the feet of a female runner approaching me. It is always interesting how not only the footfalls but the breaths of women differ so much from men.  Perhaps I have just run a lot of races but they are so distinctly different.  It reminded me of me running this marathon back in 2010 when I was joined by a woman running the full and decided to help pace her into a time she was hoping to get. However, this time I didn't have the energy to do much more than hold onto this girl's coattails.

I knew there was one more small rise before a nice long downhill.  I put my head down and pushed. Making up some ground on a few runners and passing a few who had been in front of me left me feeling vindicated and knowing I had run the course the best way possible until now. This trip down Los Positas Road left us mostly in the shade. This was good because I needed a break from the penetrating sun.  It was bad because, and I think I am remembering meteorology correctly, air travels from high pressure to low pressure so it was rushing out of the shadow of the colder darker air to the sunnier drier air to the right of us. All that means was my flag was a flying. Again, it became a two-hand affair and all momentum was lost.
Credit: Simon Ibsen
Then there was Cliff Drive.

Heading home: 8:06, 7:06, 6:51, :53 

As I made my way down this last bit of hill, one runner said as I passed him "I am just going to try to hang with you."  I told he was welcome to do so but chances are he would pass me on the next monster of a climb.  I think, however, he was just wishfully thinking as he soon fell out of sight.

This marks the fourth time I have run Cliff Drive in this race and it never gets an easier. At least knowing it is there helps keep the "Will this EVER end?" thoughts out of my mind. As I pushed hard up the hill, my friend Chase, a Maintenance Officer at the Arizona Army National Guard came up beside me. I told him I would love to run with him but I didn't have the energy to keep up.  Chase ran this race last year on a wonky ankle so bettering his time today was huge on his list. He ran a stellar time, beating me by over a minute in these last three miles.

When you finally reach the top of this beast, you are almost in the clear.  You do a quick little snake of right turn left turn and then one tiny little hill awaits you.  I hate this damn hill.  But then you turn and within seconds are treated to a glorious view of the ocean and a long gradual downhill to the finish. Even more glorious is the last mile is adorned with flag after flag, put out to honor our veterans by the local ROTC.  Members are there to hand a small flag to every runner who wants one and I can't imagine anyone turning them down.  As I ran by I heard of them say "I am guessing he doesn't need this."

As the course flattens, you head toward Santa Barbara City College and finish on their track.  I had made a reference to the fact that I disliked how the course zig-zagged a little before entering the track a few years ago in my race report here and I readied myself for that twisting.  Much to my delighted surprised, that portion was removed and just a lap on the track remained. I am not saying that I caused it but I am taking credit for it in my head anyway.

Onto the track I went and proudly raised the flag as high as I could. Two guys behind me saw this as an opportunity to pass me in the last 10 yards and I can't really begrudge them of it.  A race is a race until you cross the finish.  However, knowing I had a little more ornamentation on me, I decided to not try to push it to the finish with them, potentially poking out an eye.

All told, a solid effort on the day with a time of 1:32:57 and 77th overall is what I netted. I had more than a few friends run very solid times on this course which just impresses me to no end. It is not the most difficult course out there but it is not easy.  To run well on this means you really do like to climb some hills.  But no matter how tired I got, I knew what I was doing was a cakewalk compared to what our soldiers went through in combat and what many of them go through after returning home. This was my miniscule attempt at trying to say thank you to all of them.

So, thank you, Veterans.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Terrible Boston Marathon Halloween Costume (and Getting Over It)

So some young girl went and did something stupid.  Then a group of people went and did something far worse and illegal.

In case you missed it, Alicia Ann Lynch dressed up as a wounded Boston Marathon runner. Tasteless and tacky. Then "the internet" attacked her en force in a way that should be reserved for people who have actually done pretty heinous things. They sent her and her family death threats. They found nude pictures of her and posted them online. The vitriol got so bad that she apparently lost her job over the incident and deactivated all her social media accounts before pleading with people to leave her family out of it and let her take the heat.

Here's the thing about being young and dumb - it's allowed.  In fact, every one of us were both at one point and many are still the latter. Raise your hand if you haven't done something probably considered tasteless and stupid once in your life. I am guessing few if any of you have probably moved your hand from the mouse or keypad.

But being young and dumb doesn't give others the right to do many of the things listed above in an act of supposed retaliation. Believe me, as a human with compassion, I was definitely taken aback by the hubris of the girl.  As a runner, I thought about tweeting something along the lines of "You are an idiot." I was very affected by the attacks at the Boston Marathon as I penned in a post that even Boston Magazine picked up. However, I am more affected by the stupidity and heinous acts of members of our own Congress. You know, people who can shape legislation? People who are not 22 years old and are supposed to have out best interests at heart and seem to rarely do so.

Yet in spite of my feelings about the stupidity of Ms Lynch's costume I would have never thought about going to lengths many did in trying to "shame" her.  In fact, I have often felt that "shaming" is one of those terms which is so overused these days (like "bullying") that it is on the verge of having no meaning anymore. Having said that, when you send death threats, post private information and generally try to mess with someone's life, that is an actionable offense. (I know. I have dealt with a couple of idiots who feel their "anonymity" is protecting them when they have tried to say lies about me. Guess what?  It won't.)

These internet vigilantes think the have done some service when that is hardly the case. They will go back to their lives the next day and not even care about the carnage they left behind them. It is one thing to call the person a racist or tacky person or anything else on the lines of free speech. But to actually try to cause irreparable harm to a person and their reputation is pure lunacy. In fact, as I mentioned, while Ms. Lynch was stupid, she did nothing illegal. Those retaliating against her have indeed. The thing about free speech is that when you protect it, you protect it most for the people who have polar opposite viewpoints (Yes, even the racist, ignorant, slovenly, slack-jawed bigot of a mother who dressed her 7 year old as a member of the KKK.)

More so, if the incident she unwisely chose to mock has shown us anything, it is that violent, angry responses are exactly what caused the bombing in the first place and they are not the answer. Fortunately for Ms. Lynch, the rapid speed with which news is digested in today's world will mean she is a forgotten sidenote by next week. Hopefully she can learn a little about what to do in the future. But moreover, hopefully others will learn that their reactions were far worse and did zero to solve the problem.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Live Ultimate Run / Partnership with Swirlgear

This December I will be getting a guaranteed PR at the Live Ultimate Run in South Beach. How do I know that? Because I will be running a race distance I have never done: the quarter-marathon. A little quirky perhaps but really so are most race distances to begin with when you get right down to it. Either way, instant personal best. Near the beach. In the winter. As my gift to you, I have finangled a code, "TRAVEL10" to get you 10% off your registration. 
You're welcome. Now go use it!

Also, I am very happy to be working at this event with a company called Swirlgear. From their own tagline, this is a “specialty women's running apparel brand that celebrates the individual spirit of active, discerning and motivated women.” 

Now, why in the sam hell am I working with a company that makes women's running apparel? Well, it goes to the fact that I have been championing women’s involvement in running for as long as I have been donning running shoes. In fact, I dedicate an entire chapter in my book 138,336 Feet to Pure Bliss to how women have not only helped create the running world we live in today, but have kept it from stagnating and regressing. Many of the innovations and changes we take for granted in the races we participate in exist due in large part to the inclusion of women in our sport. 

As such, working with a company such as Swirlgear which is about creating new and exciting products to support this demographic while not charging an arm and a leg to do so, is a no-brainer. I have seen their products at expos nationwide and on runners out and about while running. More importantly, I have dealt with the people who are involved with moving this company forward and they are where this partnership begins. 

This is why we are going to create a contest for the Live Ultimate Run in South Beach in which one winner will get the VIP treatment during this race (I think they should call it the "Dash with Dane" but chances are they will come up with a better name.) As their own personal running concierge, I will help pace them from start to finish, providing funny anecdotes, advice and maybe even a little bit of my residual sweat (which I am apologizing for in advance.) In addition, this lucky winner is going to be totally decked out in Swirlgear apparel. Dang! I can think of few better places to get your sweat on than South Beach in December while rockin' some new duds. 

But hold tight loyal readers! Even if you don't get selected as the grand prize winner, I have also been able to work with Swirlgear to get you a 10% off code as well.  Like above, it is "TRAVEL10" and this will knock 10% off your purchases at their website.  Guess what has two thumbs and will like that deal?  You! (Unless of course you have one or less thumbs in which case you will still like that deal. Also, I am sorry about your thumbs.)

So, register for the race, pay attention to Swirlgear's website and social media to find out how to be the lucky winner and then get ready for an awesome personal best in a fantastic place while your friends are freezing back home! 

Let's take out talents to South Beach.