Wednesday, December 4, 2013

1st Annual Christmas Light Run

Christmas is a great time of year. It's a time of family and friends. It's a time to honor our traditions and to give. This year I'm starting a new tradition.



This year I'm starting a new tradition. On Thursday, December 12th, I'm hosting my first annual Christmas Light run. It will begin at my house at 6:30 PM in Broomfield. We will do a nice easy run of around 5 miles around the neighborhoods of Broomfield. I'll bring Christmas music with me and we will try and look at all the houses decorated up for the holidays. We will end at my house and eat snacks and drink a hot beverage of your choice (tea, coffee, hot cocoa, etc). If you don't live in Colorado, I'm encouraging everyone to get out and do it wherever you are in the world.

Along with this, I've also got a contest going on. As many of you know, each year I run in the Disney Marathon Weekend races. I run as part of Team AllEars to raise money for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I am trying to raise a total of $500 by Jan 10th. How this contest works is that I'm asking you to get out on the night of December 12th and have a nice relaxing run around your neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights that are up. Take a picture of you with some of the holiday decorations around your neighborhood. Also, I'm asking that you make at least a $5 donation to the charity of your choice (but I'd love it if it's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer). E-mail me by December 16th a picture of you in running gear in front of some lights and your name will be entered into a drawing. My e-mail is mpaxton88@gmail.com

If I reach $200 total donations I'll raffle off a insulated Camelbak Water Bottle so you can take a hot beverage with you on those long cold winter runs. Last year I used to take hot tea with me on long cold runs.

If I reach $400 total donations, I'll raffle off my favorite new winter running gear, a Merino Wool Buff. Great for keeping your neck and face warm while you run.


If you'd like to make a donation to Team AllEars and Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, you can find my personal page here - http://tinyurl.com/dopeyrunner88

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

F.L.A.T.S. Half Marathon Race Report (the best little race that you need to do someday)

I've been intending to write this blog post for a while, but every time I keep sitting down to write it, I ended up doing something else.  It's a little over a month past the race and it's time I get this race report up.  

Earlier this year after Fruita, Andrea, Mike and I, two of my closest friends were sitting around debating on which races we wanted to run this year. We all had our own individual races that we were working towards (myself the Dopey Challenge and my triathlon) but we wanted yet another race that we could all go do together, and we all preferred a trail race.  We threw out a few different options.  Moab (which I couldn't do because I was in Florida) and Durango were both options that we were looking at.  Then Michael reminded us that his friend Ivy puts on a small trail race in Kirksville, MO every year in the fall.  While it was a bit of a drive, the race itself sounded about perfect.  It was in early October, so the chance of poor weather was low.  Not only that, it was a half marathon and while it was a trail race, it wasn't super technical.  Also it was cheap ($35 early registration, $45 after 9/8/2013).  

Leading up to the race, I hadn't really trained for it.  My running mileage was actually quite low since I had been concentrating on my triathlon all summer. My goal for the race was to just get through it and have a good time.  Andrea had been fighting some hip issues and I had a sciatica that had been acting up.  For this reason, we talked about maybe running the race together, at least part of it.

On Thursday, we loaded up in the car early that morning and started the drive out.  I normally hate road trips, but for some reason this trip went by fairly quickly, maybe because of the great company I had.  I had thought originally we'd be staying in a hotel like we did for Fruita, but Mike talked to his friend and race directory, Ivy and he offered to put us up in his house for the weekend.  This was incredibly generous of him as not only did he and his wife have to entertain three guests that weekend, they also had to put on a race.  

We ended up getting into Kirksville late that night.  The next day we didn't have much planned, Ivy had to finish up the prep for the race and take care of the packet pickup site for the athletes.  Being that he was the race director, he took care of grabbing our packets and swag while we hung out like bums at the local coffee shop all day long (drinking way too much coffee mind you).

So...I wanted to point this out.  This is how all races should be.  For our $35 dollar race fee we got a nice bag, beanie, soft cotton shirt (my favorite race shirt atm), and water bottle.  This price also included our bibs and 6(?) food/water stops on course.  And still at the end of the race of only 120 or so runners he raised over $3500 for improving the trail system around the town.  

Awesome Swag - Hat, Bottle, Bag and Shirt.  Also lucky number 88 on the bib for me

The night before race Andrea and I sat down on the floor of his kitchen and helped him get all the aid station boxes prepped and ready to go.  This meant measuring our Gatorade in plastic bags so that it could be quickly dumped into water jugs the next morning.  Not only was there Gatorade, water and GUs, he also had other great snacks like pretzels and M&Ms at some of the water stops.  Trail races always have the best aid stations.

Packing up the aid station drop boxes the night before

The morning of the race we were up bright at early at 6:00 am ready to go.  The race itself was a point to point race so we had to drive to the finish line, park and then board a bus to get to the start.  Scanning the weather on the way to the start I was a bit worried about a passing storm.  Luckily it sprinkled a bit on the bus but by the time we got off it had cleared up.  

Mike, Andrea and myself before the race

The one thing to understand about this race is that it's small.  Only 120 racers or so and many of them knew each other.  It's a very intimate feeling.  Very different than a New York Marathon or a Disney Race.

The other thing is while there were some slower racers, for the most part it felt like a pretty fast field.  I consider myself a middle of the pack runner most of the time.  Both Andrea and I were worried we'd be one of the last runners over the finish line.  In the end that wasn't to be the case, but still it felt that way as we were standing on the start line.

The race start, about 120 people 

A few minutes before the race, the race directory Ivy stands on a rock to give a short little speech about the race.  It's cool out, but Michael suggested that I toss the long sleeve and race in the singlet.  I was doubting him a bit, but in the end it turned out to be the absolute right call.  

Race Directory Ivy giving a pre-race pep talk

The race course itself is pretty well thought out.  The first mile and a half was on asphalt and wide open.  It really allowed the racers to separate into their appropriate paces.  Once you hit the singletrack a bit later, passing was fairly difficult. As someone who normally does a 4:30s run/30s walk ratio, that was fairly difficult during this race because of the singletrack.  You had to wait for walking breaks for areas where people could pass and then once you started to run again, often times you'd be stuck behind groups of runners until it opened up once again.  Andrea and I had decided to run together and that made it even a bit more difficult to pass since there were two of us.  I think the walk/run was still the right call because of the injuries we were dealing with, but I think we lost some overall time because of it.

 First mile and a half on nice wide asphalt

Once you get on the singletrack the best way to describe the course was that it was FUN.  The leaves were starting to turn so we had some of the most beautiful scenery to run through.  The course wove up and down through forest near a large lake.  There was some minor elevation gain/loss but it was mostly rolling hills that were run to run.  The ground was dirt, moist from rain the previous day.  I thought it felt pretty grippy most of the way except for a few places were it was a bit slippery from wet leaves on the ground.

 Andrea cruising down the singletrack around mile 6

Both Andrea and I decided that we'd run pretty conservatively the first half using a walk/run.  At 6.5 miles we'd check in and see how we felt.  We had let a group of runners pass us around mile 4 and by the time we hit mile 6.5 both of us felt good and I wanted to catch back up to that group of runners.  Alas, that was not to be even though we kept seeing them ahead of us once we got back down by the lake, always one bend ahead of us. :)

Myself cruising down a hill

It's an interesting case study on people and their attitude/mental game near the end of a race.  At around mile 11 I was feeling great and told Andrea that I was going to push the pace a bit and take off.  She was having a bit of hip issues and told me to go for it.  Andrea is a rare bird that near the end of a race, she kicks it into a gear that I haven't been able to find yet.  I thought I was cruising along pretty well and then around mile 12 at a walk break, Andrea caught back up to me.  At this point we saw Michael coming back on the trail towards us.  He had already finished and came back to run in the last mile with us.


 Somewhere in the latter half of the race

About the last 400-800 meters you leave the singletrack and hit a dirt road.  It wasn't far until the end but I just wasn't feeling like I had much left in me.  Michael was cheering me on, trying to get me to dig in and find just a bit more strength but for some reason it just wasn't happening.  Andrea on the other hand dug in and just took off.  From what she said she just wanted to be done, as her hip was hurting.  Honestly I think she just is pretty awesome and likes to push it hard at the end of a race.

Finishing Line at the local winery

The finish line happened to be at a beautiful local winery.  Not only was there hot coffee, soda, bananas, chips.  They also had a stack of pizza waiting for the runners once they crossed the finish line.  Just goes to show all races should serve pizza to their finishers.

Andrea and Mike post race 

I finished in 2:15:14 and Andrea finished seven seconds before me 2:15:07.  Michael was speedy that day and finished in 1:49:08.  Age group winners got some awesome beer glasses as well as a bottle of wine donated from the local winery.

Mike and I post race with a finisher shirt 

In conclusion, this was one of the best races I've ever done.  Would I suggest it to someone else?  Hell yes.  The course was fun to run.  In my opinion if you have never done a trail race and are anywhere near Kirksville, look at doing this race next fall.

Thank you once again to Ivy and Kitty Koger as well as all of the volunteers for putting on such a great race.

 For more information about the F.L.A.T.S half marathon, check out their facebook site - https://www.facebook.com/pages/FLATS-Trail-Half-Marathon/251720808185656.


Monday, October 14, 2013

So what happened to that triathlon I was supposed to run?

So for those who have been reading my facebook or blog, you might have seen that I was supposed to run a triathlon this year.  Whatever happened to it?  I had trained most of the summer for the race.  I even borrowed a nice road bike from my good friends Mel and Bryan.  I had donned a swimsuit and even did a few open water swims.



All in all, the training was going really well.  I was still pretty nervous about the swimming portion of it so I had been focusing most of my efforts on that.  The problem is that the week before the race, Boulder got a bit of rain.  And when I say a bit of rain, I mean more rain than I think it has ever gotten on record.  Some were calling it the 100 year flood, or the 1000 year rain.  It was pretty bad.  Several lost lives, millions of dollars in damage (road, property, etc).  I myself was holed up with my wife Joelle out in Broomfield.  To us it just seemed like several days of constant rain.  But 10 miles away in Boulder and even more so in the mountains to the north and west it was much much worse.

Anniversapocolpyse 2013

More Flooding in Boulder

So the company holding the triathlon had to take several issues into account.  At first it looked like they might go ahead with it.  They ordered a water quality test and put up a post saying that they might go forth.  But after talking to the city of Longmont they realized that the EMS and police staff that usually assist on races such as these were so overworked with flood relief that they couldn't staff the event.  So instead, they decided to reschedule it two weeks later.  Unfortunately I already had a race that I was running that weekend in Kirksville, MO so they (Without Limits) gave me a credit to run a race for the following year.  In the end I was pretty mixed up with how I felt about it.  On one hand, I was relieved. This is going to give me a lot more time to really practice my swimming before my first triathlon next year. I'm also hoping that I'll have some more time to get in on my bike.  On the other hand I had really been gearing up all summer long.  I had invested not only my time in prepping for this race, but also several friends that helped me prepare.  I had spent money on gear (swimming and biking gear mostly, along with wetsuit rental and rec center fees).  It's not that it will all go to waste, but still it was a bit disappointing.

So what happens next?  Well in September I completed the Disneyland 10k and 1/2 and had a great race overall even though my running had really suffered throughout the summer.  I also did the FLATS half marathon in Kirksville, MO a few weeks ago.  While my performance was not 100% (I wasn't tapered and been dealing with some injuries) it was one of the best experiences I've had on a race course.  I should have a race report up about it in the next week or so on Nerd Herd Running.

Other than that, my next big challenge is the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in January.  For those that don't know, it's a new challenge of theirs where you will run a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, 1/2 marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.  I looked around for a few different training plans and decided to try out Hal Higdon's plan. It has a lot of miles but I'm hoping that it may prepare me better than I have been in years past.  Not only do I was to just complete the races, I want to feel good doing so.



If you haven't heard, I am not running this alone.  For the past 3 years I've been part of a running team called Team AllEars. This will be the fourth year I've decided to run with them and also raise money for a great cause.  Each person running is asked to help fund raise for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

If you'd like to donate to help me out meet my fundraising goal, I'd really appreciate it.  Even $5 will help.
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/DIY/General?px=5837494&pg=personal&fr_id=2350

Anyway, I think that's it for today, hopefully I can get back to posting more regularly as I get closer to the Dopey Challenge.

Thanks!

Mike





Monday, July 29, 2013

The Low Hanging Fruit

What is the low hanging fruit you may ask?  Well in running, something I have been observing lately is that often times as runners we focus a lot of time and energy into a certain aspect of our training with a very small returns. Often times if we step back and take a look at the whole overall picture, there are things that we can change in ourselves that can make a large benefit in our overall time in a race. I guess you could call this also call this article, "Train Smarter, not harder" or "The Lazy Runner's Training Guide".


Anyway, to bring myself forward to why this is relevant today, I was having a discussion with a friend recently over instant messenger.  I was explaining to him that in general, I am a lazy person.  If I can find an easy to way get faster, I'll go down that road first before trying the harder solution. My good friend once told me that an easy way I could get faster was to drop 20 pounds. Free speed he called it. This article is a collection of ideas that myself and some of my other running friends came up with. These are controllable variables that can affect your speed in a given race.
  • Train smarter - What I mean by this is to train in a way that includes a variety of different training runs that is geared towards building your muscles in an even balanced manner.  Do some work at race pace.  Do some long slow work.  Do some faster intervals. Use walk breaks in your runs (Galloway). This will be different for each person but find out what it means to you to train and race smarter. 
  • Training consistency - This also tags along with the train smarter. Are you consistent in following your training plan, even if that training plan is as simple as running three times a week.  Or do you have the tendency to skip workouts often. How consistent are you in completing your workouts (and just as important, completing your workouts as written)?
  • Training volume/Training Stress - This is a place where someone has to be careful.  You have to balance family life along with the threat of injury. But, for some people, they will become faster by just increasing the amount of training stress from week to week. Training stress can be defined as the amount of volume or intensity of training that your body can take and convert into more fitness.  For many of us, we equate training stress with just adding more volume, aka running more miles per week.  While that is often times very beneficial, you can also add training stress by adding things like speedwork or intervals to your training. Often times quality can be better than sheer quantity.  
  • Cross training - This dovetails in with both training smarter, training stress and avoiding injury. There are times we can include more cross training into our workout regime because it doesn't add much if any training stress to our bodies.  Not to mention cross training can help build up the other muscles in the body and help avoid injuries.
  • Avoiding injury - Often times it can be something as simple as not doing activities that might be high risk or add strain to our bodies. It can be preventative as seeing a doctor when you think you might have the onset of an injury.  Injuries are often a sure way to decrease your time in a race if not keep your from racing or training completely.  
  • Weight to Power ratio - For most of us that means losing weight. This is a careful subject that usually pretty taboo to talk with all but maybe the closest for friends.  But it can also sometimes be one of the biggest changes you can make to yourself to increase your speed.  Sure, losing weight isn't easy, but there are some studies out there that show significant performance increases as you lose weight.  Here is an interesting calculator that gives some rough ideas of performance increases as you lose weight.  Also if you are interested more in this subject, I highly suggest checking out Matt Fitzgerald's book, Racing Weight. Also it's always good to consult your doctor before taking on any sort of weight loss program.
  • Proper Hydration - Have you figured out your hydration?  Are you drinking enough water?  This becomes a bigger issue as the longer your race becomes.  Also as heat enters into the equation, hydration can make a huge difference on your speed. Without enough hydration you can cramp, overheat and it impacts recovery. Some studies show that a 2% loss in hydration will result into about a 6% decrease in performance over a 10k distance.  Make sure you are drinking enough water (as well as getting enough electrolytes).
  • Proper Nutrition - Are you fueling enough before a race to be as topped off on glycogen as you can? Are you ingesting foods that sit well with you and don't give you stomach cramps?  Are you eating enough calories during a long race?  Are you eating too much? Again, this may not be a huge deal when you are talking about a 5k, 10k or even half marathon.  But over a half and you are getting into the territory of running out of glycogen and bonking during longer runs. Also it's important to eat following workouts so that your body has the fuel it needs to build the rebuild your muscles.  
  • Proper Rest - Are you obtaining enough rest that you are giving your body the time and energy to absorb the training you are doing?  Are you taking recovery weeks in the middle of your training to allow your muscles to build back up?  
  • Pain tolerance - For a lot of us that are new to running, our minds don't like to feel pain. Now I'm not talking about the sharp pain in your knees that you may be feeling.  I'm talking about the dull hard pain of a fast intense workout. This is something that you can train your mind to handle better. Often times it is done by just doing more workouts at that uncomfortable level. Get to the point where it feels hard and understand that you won't die by sitting at that effort level. Do those workouts often. Then in a half marathon when you are running the last mile to the finish and you experience that feeling again, understand that you've felt it before, this is nothing new and you can hang onto that feeling. Coach Scott Gurst talks about it as finding comfort in discomfort (both mentally and physically). When you feel discomfort, that's when you are getting stronger.
  • Mental Blocks - Mental blocks I believe are a huge obstacle of many amateur runners. How many of us have looked at our training schedule and said, "Wow, that's a lot of mileage, I'm not sure how I'll be able to do that".  Or we have looked at another "faster" runner and said, "She's so much faster than me, I'll never be able to run that fast".  These are all mental blocks that are self-defeating. Get rid of that negativity. If you think positively, you will have positive results. One of the first things you can do is stop thinking of yourself as fast or slow.
  • Visualizations - There have been sports psychologists that have studied Olympic athletes to figure out what makes them all successful.  One of the biggest common factors that they all share is that the majority of them all practice some sort of visualization. It isn't just visualization of them crossing the finish line as a winner, it's more specific than that. They visualize how they should feel at different parts of the race. They are prepared at mile 20 when it gets hard as to how it feels because they have felt that feeling before and have visualized it before the race. They not only practiced positive visualizations, they have also practiced visualizing when something goes wrong and what they are going to do about it.  If they cramp up at mile 13, they might think through exactly what they would do (slow down, stretch out the muscle, drink more water). Next time you are prepping for a race, think about doing some visualizations
  • Pacing/Race Execution - Did you go out too fast? Did you take your walk breaks at the correct time?  Did you run a flat race (pace-wise) or at least one with negative splits? 
  • Running Form - This one is tricky, but there are times that I've gone out and watched other runners. Just by looking at them you can tell maybe they have a strange placement of their hips.  Or they are swinging their arms too much and thus wasting extra energy. The best idea here is to have a running coach look at your form and see where you can be more efficient. Sometimes if that isn't possible, have someone record your running and just look at yourself. Some high end elite runners have cars with mirrors attached to the back of them driving in front of the runner so that they can watch their form while running.
  • Cadence - This goes along with form but how is your cadence? Often times the rule of thumb that I have heard is that you should have run at around 180 steps per minute. While there isn't a huge amount of studies to show that to be 100% correct, there are many studies that show that increasing your cadence can reduce the amount of force upon your body and thus reduce the chance of injury and will increase the amount of training stress your body can take.
  • Equipment - This is as simple as making sure you get fit with the right shoes at a running store. Sometimes it means trying a different type of shoe such as a minimalist shoe or a pair of Hokas. It could also be something as simple as switching from a water belt to a handhold water bottle (waste belts press on my stomach and make me feel ill).  
  • Caffeine - Seriously, I do this.  Three weeks before a race I stop drinking caffeine. The morning of the race I down some caffeine gus and away I go.  Be careful as this can wreck your digestive process (as I've learned sitting on a port-o-potty at mile 20 of a marathon).  
  • Training at Altitude/Racing at lower altitude - Not really an option for most of us but one that I take advantage when I run a race at sea level. In an ideal world you want to live high at altitude and train low. That's not really an option for many of us unfortunately. 
  • Blood doping/Performance enhancing drugs - I put this on here as a joke, but also a window into why some professional athletes go down this road.  Let's say you have done everything on the list above and still you can't get the times you'd like to see, there is always drugs as well as blood doping to give you that little bit of edge to win.

What are some lessons here to be learned here?  This is in many ways a theoretical discussion. Sure, it doesn't hurt to look at the above list and see if you can fix some of "low hanging fruit" in your own training. Overall it will probably help and you will get faster. But, faster/slower, that doesn't really matter.  There are so many variables from race to race (even on the same course), year to year, person to person that the best thing you can do is to go out and race the best possible race you can on that day.

What's your low hanging running fruit?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Training Update - Oktoberfest Triathlon


I haven't posted here recently, mostly because I've either written some blog entries for my running team, Team All Ears or for my other running group, Nerd Herd Running. Also with all the training that has been going on I haven't had a chance to take a trip up Sanitas.  I do still owe a certain Mr. Mike Kelly 3 laps up at some point. The issue is that it's basically a 3 hour run for me, and I am not sure I'm really trained for that right now. ;)

So what has been going on?  Well I decided to train for my first triathlon this fall (more on that later). Other than that after the Princess 1/2 in Feb. I had a trail 1/2 in Fruita (becoming one of my favorite races). Then I trained for and raced the Bolder Boulder last month.

Also since last winter we have been continuing our track workouts on Thursday night focusing on speedwork. For the most part it's been made up of myself, Jeff, Michael, Rebecca, Andrea and Kate.  Bryan C. has been joining us off and on when he's been able.  Michael was leading the workouts but with him also coaching his Ironman Triathlon group he was getting a bit burned out.  He asked me to take over leading the workouts when I could.  I have to admit, it's been so much fun. He sometimes helps me come up with the specific workouts but I usually am the one leading them during the actual workout. It's a bit intimidating since I'm one of the slowest runners in the group but I feel like I'm growing in my knowledge of how to train runners. I still wouldn't put me in the coaching category but I'd like to get there someday.

I think the big thing that has been going on with me is that I'm training for my first triathlon in September. It's a sprint tri called the Oktoberfest Triathlon.  I think I've probably mentioned that before. Coming into this training cycle I had pretty much no swim fitness and very little bike experience.  In fact, back in February I went swimming with my friend Michael.  I told him I was pretty worried about my swimming.  What he just recently told me is that when he saw me swim, he was pretty worried for me as well. :)  I hooked up with a local swim coach (also my old trail running coach) and got some lessons.  While my swimming isn't perfect (far from it honestly) it is getting better. At this point I'm going to keep swimming 2-3 times a week. I'm going to try and get in at least 2 open water swims ahead of time as well.  Once that happens and I get closer to the race I'll evaluate whether I think I can actually do it or not.

As for cycling I just borrowed a bike for Melanie C.  Soooo much better than my old mountain bike. I've gone out three times on it so far and I'm trying to get an idea of what kind of bike fitness do I have and how hard can I push.  I wore my HR monitor and did a bit of comparison between running and cycling. So far what I can tell is my legs need some work. :)  I tried to push myself a bit more than an easy ride and my HR was pretty low. I'd call it maybe zone 2 effort (marathon). This next ride my goal is to try and do some sort of zone sampler to get an idea of how to push hard on a bike.

Thank you so so much Mel and Bryan!

One of the best things about triathlon training is because I have to train for three events, I don't do a whole lot on a single event. Right now I am getting in 6 workouts a week, 2 bike, 2 swim and 2 run.  If I have time for an extra workout, I'm adding a swim.  If I have time for two extra workouts, the plan is to add a third bike workout. While I'm a bit worried about my run fitness going downhill I'm feeling a lot more rested when I do run. The goal is continue to do Thursday track for speedwork and then get a long run in to keep my base high enough for the Double Dumbo Dare in September. I have a few key run workouts that I'll mix in as I get closer to the Double Dumbo Dare, but the majority of my training emphasis right now is on the triathlon.

I just wanted to touch on a few other things that have been on my mind.

Gear - Triathlons are expensive. I guess just like starting out with any other sports there is an investment. While I knew this going into the race it still surprises me a bit. Sure, for running I have all my gear except for elastic laces (so I don't have to tie my shoes in transition). Swimming, I needed actual swim shorts (jammers here), a membership to a pool, new swimming goggles (tinted as I found out that clear ones just don't work in an outside pool) and the cost to rent a wetsuit. Biking it where it starts to get expensive. This isn't all mandatory but the things I've either invested in or are considering investing are, bike computer (to calculate my cadence), bike shoes (still up the air), bike shorts, bike jersey, flat fix kit. I borrowed a bike so luckily I didn't have to pay for that.

Training time - It's higher than training for a straight running race (at least for me) but it's easier. Switching to different disciplines keeps each workout feeling more fresh and I don't feel as fatigued every day. With summer heat here I've been getting up earlier to get in my workouts in the morning before work. I've noticed that while I can bike and swim first thing in the morning, I still struggle with running that early.

Mental Effort of a Triathlon - I think there is quite a bit of mental effort in doing a triathlon that isn't part of a running race. You need to be a bit of a planner.  How do I setup my transition?  What is my strategy if I get a flat? There is just so much more than can go wrong. To me I like the challenge but I could see it not being for everyone.

That is most of what has been on my mind lately.  I'll try and give another update on my triathlon progress as I get closer to the race. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lap 10 - Lovely Laura Cissell

Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 12:00 PM
Temp: 68 degrees?
Time Up: 32:00
Time Down: 23:00 (backside)

So...this week is the week before the Bolder Boulder.  For the most part it was suppose to be a taper week to get ready for the race.  While the Bolder Boulder isn't an A race for me, I am following somewhat of a training plan for it and I do hope to perform well.  I have a few laps still to finish up this last winter for my fundraising.  I still owe one lap to Laura (this one) and two to Mike Kelly.  Laura I promised that I'd run one with her this summer so while technically this one is hers, she and I still need to find some time to get up on this mountain.  Mike's laps also had a stipulation that we'd run them together and not just run two laps at once (which I've done twice) but to do three.  Since it takes me close to an hour a lap even though the distance isn't long, 3 laps is pretty equivalent of a 3 hour run.  It's going to be a dozy when I do that. :)

Training has been going fairly well lately.  I have taken over leading some of our workouts on track nights on Thursdays.  Mike still helps me put together some of the workouts, but I try and lead them. It's been going really well. Last week we did a great set to prep for the Bolder Boulder (which is a 10k).  We ended up doing 10 x 1k with a 200m rest in-between each set.  The idea was that you run it at your race pace but you are breaking it up with short rests.  All in all my data looked pretty good except that it took me a bit of time to settle into my 10k pace.  

This week the run I had planned for Tuesday I had done the week prior. So instead of repeating that workout I decided that I'd see if Jeff wanted to take a quick jaunt up Sanitas for my Tuesday run. Luckily he was up for it. :)

 Jeff standing before the mountain!

It ended up being the perfect spring day.  Not too hot, not too cool. My good friend Andrea txted me on Monday night seeing if I wanted to get up at 5:30 am and go running with her this same day, after I had already made plans with Jeff.  Since it's hard for me to turn down a friend when they want to run, I said sure. But if anyone knows me, I am not a morning runner. In fact, Andrea I thought was my friend and also not a morning runner, nope, no longer, now she loves it.  I even wrote a poem for her.

a friend she was once
sunrise stole her heart away
why run this early

So not only did I run with her in the morning, I also did Santias with Jeff at lunch.  At the start my legs were pretty tired, but about halfway up I started feeling a bit better about it. While it may have not been a great idea to take a long lunch on a day like today, it did feel great to get out and about.


 It's been raining a lot, everything is green.

So to digress a bit, not only have I been running quite a bit, I'm also training for my first triathalon ever.  It's in September but I have a long ways to go. I haven't started biking yet, but I have started swimming.  My first two swim lessons are behind me.  While I'm getting better, after my swim this week I was pretty discouraged. I think it was the first time since I started down this path that I actually thought I may not be able to complete the race. I have 4 months to go and while I saw progress this week I've decided to just keep at it.  I'll take a few more lessons in June and I'm going to try and hit the pool at least 2 a week (if not 3 times).  At this point I'm even fine cutting back my running in order to get more swim workouts in.
 At the top again!  Legs are a bit tired today.

Last time we were up here, we went back down the frontside.  If you have never hiked Sanitas what you might not know is that it's pretty steep and sort of trecherous.  Jeff had a slight spill that first time he went up so this time we opted to go down the back.  Honestly, the back is a lot more fun. The first half is pretty technical but the second half you can really open up and practice your downhill running.

Coming up on this summer, after the Bolder Boulder my next goal race is the Double Dumbo dare in September. I'm still planning on racing the 10k and then seeing how I feel about the 1/2 the next day. Following that 3 weeks later is my triathlon and then straight into Dopey training. 

What a view!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about Dopey training and have been pondering a blog post about it. In fact when we went to Fruita for the Desert RATs half we talked about it quite a bit on the way back. I think while I'm in TN next week that's going to be one of my goals, to finish this blog post I have rattling around in my head about how to train for something as long as the Dopey without getting burnt out.  

I also realize I never talked about my experience at the Fruita race. Suffice to say it was one of my best races yet, a huge improvement over last year.  I'll try and throw up some pictures and some thoughts about it maybe this weekend.

Stay safe this weekend and enjoy the 3 day break. :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lap 9 - Dave McMillian

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 6:00 PM
Temp: 45 degrees
Time Up: 34:30
Time Down: About 30 minutes

Sanitas is back!

Just a short little catch up for people that either haven't read my blog before or don't remember.  Last year I committed to doing laps of Mt Sanitas (in the Winter) in order to raise money for the running team that I'm part of, Team AllEars.   Some amazing friends of mine generously donated to the cause and because of that I had committed to doing all these different laps of Mt Sanitas.  Well I was deep in the training for the Disney World Goofy challenge and I had a lot more donations than I thought I'd get.  So basically I didn't finish all the laps.   Anyway, two months later, here am I, training for the Desert Rats Trailrunning Festival in Fruita, CO.   I figured now was a good time to get in some more hill work and to finish up the laps I owe people.  This lap is being run in the name of my good friend David McMillen and his wife Mishi.

As I said, I am right in the middle of training for a half marathon out in Fruita.  It's going to be on April 20th.  I'm not running it alone, in fact quite a few local Colorado friends are planning on running it with me (Michael Kelly, Andrea Oakley, Rebecca Boozan, Kate Bierbaum, Jenny Bitzan, Karen Lipisky to name a few).  It's a trail race so we have been trying to get in as many off road training sessions as we can.  Since the weather was so nice today and we wanted to work on practicing our downhill running, Andrea and I decided to head up to Mt Sanitas.

 We had a bit of snow and rain earlier in the day, but you couldn't tell.

Such a difference to be training with light once again.  Andrea showed up at my house at 5:30 and we headed out from there.  Still plenty of light once we got up on the hill.  I think it may have been around 50 degrees when we started but it was a bit breezy.   Still a beautiful day out.  Tuesday both Andrea and I did a pretty hard hill repeat workout so our legs were still recovering a bit today.   Also Andrea hadn't had enough to eat and I was recovering from a wicked hangover from the previous night (the wine bottle and I had a fight and the wine bottle won).  The plan was to take it easy on the way up, but then to go down the backside and really practice some good downhill running.  This is important as the Fruita course has a wicked elevation gain around miles 8-11 and then a steep downhill right after that for about 2 miles.  We were trying to get some wear and tear on our legs to mimic the course.

 I think she just enjoyed getting warm in the sun

For some reason my lungs didn't feel at 100% today.  I hope I'm not getting sick and that it was just something that was hitting me today.  We stopped about halfway up so I could snap a few pictures.
 Boulder sure is beautiful almost all year round

For the most part my training for the race has been going really well.  I took about a month off after the Disney World Marathon and didn't do any serious running during that time.  Since about mid-Feb I started back up training for this race.


 Look how good of shape the trail is in for being mid March

While the trail was in great shape, my wife just informed me that we have a few days of rain and snow rolling in.   At least it looks like its a recovery week on the schedule so while I do have to get runs in, this is a week to rest.

 Woohoo!  The top, again!

Felt really good getting to the top again.  The last time I was up here was our moonlight jaunt. I still owe Laura one more lap and I hope that we can plan another moonlight run up sometime in the future. Heading back down I seconded guessed myself (like I do often) and took the wrong path.  Andrea and I backtracked and with the nice help of a local young Boulder hipster, we found our way back down.  Andrea was dealing with a bit of a side cramp but still managed to push hard through the rest of the run.  I'm so proud of that girl, I probably would have just walked it. =P

Part of the hill we were bombing down

Anyway, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've blogged.  I had a bit of burnout in general after the marathon this year.   I'm trying to get back into habit of blogging more often.  I did want to take the time to mention another cause that I'm fundraising for this year, totally separate from Team AllEars.

There is a group of us friends that had recently gotten together.  Not only are we all runners, we are also all total nerds (if you didn't already know I was a nerd, well...you just don't know me very well).   We sort of informally call ourselves the Nerd Herd.  We have a website if you want to check it out as well as a Facebook group.  Since we are all runners and we live all across the US, we have decided to put on a virtual racing series this year.  Each race has its own theme.  The first one is called the "May the 4th be with you 5k".   The second one later in the year is the "Happy Birthday Harry Potter 5k and 10k".  The last one is the "Banned Book Week 5k and Half Marathon".  All the profits to these races will be going to charity.   Registration should be opening very soon so if you are interested in helping out a good cause and want to get fit at the same time, please consider signing up.  If you are curious how a virtual race works, we have a FAQ located here.  I'll be posting more information on this soon.



Friday, February 8, 2013

Marathon Weekend 2013 - Monday/Tuesday and Final Thoughts

Just thought I'd finish up a quick blog entry talking about the rest of my trip after the marathon including some final thoughts about the race weekend.

We woke up Monday morning with some pretty exciting plans for the day.  Our good friend Shane and Steve are getting married at WDW in October.  They invited us to go with them over to the wedding pavillion to meet with their wedding planner.   In addition it was check out day at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  As a surprise to Joelle I booked us one night at the Polynesian hotel.   This meant we were not able to make our breakfast meet with Team AllEars at Kona Cafe that morning.  We ended up packing up and checking out of Animal Kingdom Lodge and heading over to the Poly.  We quickly checked in and went to our room to throw our luggage in there before heading over to the wedding pavilion   Wow, what a room.  By now we have stayed at quite a few Disney resorts but by far the Polynesian has the best and biggest rooms. I've always thought it would be my favorite resort, but this one night stay cinched it.  I want to come back someday.

Lei time!  I do love the poly....

After checking in and dropping off our luggage we walked over to the wedding pavilion.  After stopping by the front desk we found out that the time for our appointment was a bit mixed up.  Instead of 9-12, our appointment wasn't until 1.     Not a big deal as we didn't have any huge plans that day.  We decided to hop in the car and head over Disney Hollywood Studios.  I hadn't got much time all weekend to ride many rides so no one had an issue with me heading over there and getting some rides in.  I think I ended up riding Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Roller Coaster.  After that we went and grabbed pictures with the Wreck-it Ralph characters.  I don't remember doing much other than that.  We did walk around a bit and had got some lunch.


Pictures at HWS with Vanellope and Ralph!

After touring a bit, we headed back to the Wedding Pavilion to make our appointment.  I think at this point I expected to be a lot more tired than I really was.  My legs were sore, but it wasn't horrible.  I also hadn't gotten much sleep all weekend but it hadn't caught up to me yet.

We were quickly met by Shane's wedding planner and they brought us back to a small room and started to the process.  It was actually really interesting.  Basically you plan your entire wedding with the exception of food tasting (though we did have a cake tasting) in one sitting.   I'm not sure if anyone got bored but I found it pretty fascinating    It took about 3-4 hours and by the end of it I think Shane had most of the details worked out.   Our wedding planner did say that the next DVC (Disney Vacation Club) property that was to be build would be the Poly.  Now if I was rich, I'd invest in that. :)

Yes, if you want to pay $2400 you can arrive in a white coach to your wedding

After the marathon wedding planning session I think Joelle and I just bummed around our resort.  We ended up getting dinner at Captain Cooks and then decided to hang out on the beach on the Poly watching Wishes from a hammock.  It was a very relaxing way to end a very busy trip.


Yay Stitch!

After we watched Wishes some of the Nerd Herd was heading out to Jellyrolls down on the boardwalk.  It is a dualing piano bar.  I had never gone before but we ended up having a blast.   Cover was $12 but the piano players were really talented.  Julie, Erinn, Christine, Sara and Erinn's friend ended up showing up.  We stayed until probably midnight.  By then I think the races were catching up to all of us and we were turning into pumpkins.  After wishing a very happy night to the Herd I headed back to our room and crashed out.

Our awesome room!

The morning we leave seems to usually always be a bit rough.  Joelle likes to sleep in a bit (who can blame her) and I usually have a few things I want to do before heading out.  Sometimes it's watching the opening show at Magic Kingdom, sometimes it's hitting a park to get in a few more rides.  Due to some poor communication we missed the opening show but we did get checked out.   We had a few hours so we headed over to the Magic Kingdom anyway.   We played some Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and I got to ride Space Mountain.

Shortly after that we headed to the airport and headed back to Colorado.

Messed up pupils at the airport from touching my eye after applying a Transderm Scōp patch on Joelle

Some final thoughts about marathon weekend in general.  I really enjoy this weekend as I have so many friends I've made over the last three years that I get to see.  Doing the Goofy is fun, but it ends up making the weekend a really full weekend.   I pretty much felt like I was go go go all weekend long.  We did have some friends down and did some really special things as well.   To really do your best on the Goofy it takes a lot of downtime to rest.  Next year if I go back I think I'm going to go with a different plan.  The plan is to backload the trip like I did this time and not plan hardly anything the first few days.  I am planning on doing the 5k with some friends but then I think I'll skip the 1/2.  I haven't done just a marathon yet and I think I really want to focus on a good marathon race.   Of all the race weekends, I think this is probably my third favorite (just talking about the RunDisney portion of it).  Wine and Dine is still my first, I think it's an excellent time of year and it's a great race.  Tinkerbell out in Disneyland comes in second due to crowds and weather. I'm not 100% sure I'll be back next year, but I think it's pretty likely.   I just hope overall if I do come back that we have better weather.

Thanks to everyone who followed along with my posts about race weekend.  I've got some fun things coming up including the 2013 Princess Half Marathon as well as training for the Fruita Half Marathon.  I'll be having some more Sanitas updates soon including a triple lap with Mike Kelly.   Look for those soon!

Ears Up!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marathon Weekend 2013 - Sunday - Full Marathon

Well this cold has been kicking my butt but I really wanted to get around to finishing my blogging about the WDW marathon weekend.   Anyway, once again it started way too early.  The alarm went off at a bright and shining 2:45 am.   While the first two early mornings I manged to sneak out without waking up Joelle, this third morning luck was not on my side.  She manged to wake up enough to wish me good luck, roll over and head back to sleep.

Again, too fricking early.  Up at 2:45 am.

Once again I decided to drive to the start but I ended up leaving a bit later than the day before.  Still traffic wasn't really an issue and I got a parking spot right next to the entrance of the waiting area.  Once inside I gathered up with the rest of Team Allears.   Instead of waiting around we learned our lesson from the day before.  A few of us decided to head out quickly after the team picture.   Eddie and I headed to our corral and while we got there early, I preferred that to getting there right before the race started.  Of all the parts of marathon weekend, I really do enjoy hanging in the corral watching the fireworks and listening to the music.  In fact, one of my best memories from a RunDisney race was Tower of Terror weekend hanging in the corral dancing with my TAE buds.   I even got a great shot of my friend Jamison dancing.  Someone remind me to get that up on youtube....

Me and Eddie hanging out waiting for the start

Much like the day before, it was darn humid for the start of the race.  The good thing is it felt a bit cooler, maybe high 50s rather than 60s.   From the day before I had a few choices to make.  I could go for a flat race (same pace) the entire way through.  Or I could preload a bit of speed and get through as much of the course before the sun came up.  Not sure if it was the best choice but I decided to to do the latter.  Ended up basically going out at the same pace that I did the half marathon in.  Until the sun came up, I felt great.  The first six miles went by really fast, faster than the day before.  The magic kingdom was beautiful and in fact I liked it better than the previous year just because it was dark when I ran through it.  I love running through the parks when it's dark (probably the reason that the Wine and Dine 1/2 is my favorite race).

After pulling out of the Magic Kingdom you have a few miles to run down along the back of the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Hotel.  I ended up hanging with a group of high school track runners.  They were really nice and we got to chatting for a bit.  Finally they decided enough with this slow pace and took off.  I could tell that this race wasn't much of a challenge for them.   

I think mile 9 or so we headed into the Richard Petty Speedway.   This was a new part of the course and a welcome addition.   The humidity was so bad that you couldn't even seen all the way across the speedway as there was a layer of fog in the center.  We probably ran close to a mile around it and they had a bunch of old cars lined up as well.   

After the speedway you run a few miles on the back road near the water treatment plant.   By now the sun was starting to come up and it was getting light out.  I still felt pretty good and ended up joining a group of Galloway pacers.   They were having a blast.  Probably 30 people or so and they were just joking having a good time.   I think I lost them when heading into the Animal Kingdom at mile 12.   

Of all the parks, this park was probably the most disappointing.  Not sure why, it just wasn't that much fun to run through.   We came in through the back, ran through Asia, then Dinoland and back out through the parking lot.  I'd say this is when I started to struggle the most.  The pace started to seem a bit difficult and I was really looking forward to seeing Joelle and the TAE cheer squad at mile 15.

Like last year, my wife was hanging with the Colorado Sisters (and Bryan) at mile 15.  I knew that by about now the sun would be up (came up over the horizon around mile 13).   I decided to give her , a towel, a shirt, pair of socks, my hat and my sunglasses.  To keep myself entertained, pretty much from mile 13 to 15 all I could do is rehearse in my mind the order that I wanted her to give me stuff when I saw her.  I came up and was like, "Towel, then shirt, then hat!".   Pretty much dried off, switched shirts.  Maybe I hung out for 2 minutes max.  

Feeling good at Mile 15 (only cause my wife gave me a new shirt)

After then the race sort of turned into a blur.  It started getting hot.  I was pretty much okay until mile 19 and the my body started acting up.   Let's just say my system was not working as it should.  I knew I would slow down for the rest of the race but I slowed down a bit more than I had hoped.   I made it through the Wide World of Sports (we were in there for like 4 miles).   Then headed up to Disney Hollywood Studios.   I ran by the chocolate stand but by now there was no way I could eat it.   Finally we got to Epcot, one of my favorite parts of the course.  Too quickly after that it was all over.

Compared to the year before, I felt 100 times better.   Got some food and water down.  After getting my checked bag and drying off a bit I took a visit to the massage tent.  Normally after this I go back into Epcot and have some lunch but I knew we still had a Magic Kingdom meet along with dinner and then a desert party.  Decided to jump in the car and grab some food back at the hotel.  At the last minute I took a detour and stopped by a McDonalds and wolfed down a 20 piece mcnugget.  Normally I try and eat like a vegetarian but I knew that my body wanted chicken.

Peter Pan proclaimed Daniel won the goofy.  It must be true.

After food, a brief nap we headed over to the MK for a quick meet before dining at Be Our Guest.  We ended up riding Pirates and then went and did a quick photo op with Peter Pan.  Peter proclaimed Dan the winner of the goofy, which he totally was. ;)

A bunch of us headed over to Be Our Guest where I got to dine with my Nerd Herd buds, Sara, Julie and Christine.   Totally fun.  Then Lee, Laura and myself headed over to get a picture with Goofy.  It's sort of become a tradition for us that whenever we finish a race, we get picture with the character that sponsored the race with our medals on.  We did it for Tink and also the DL 1/2 I believe.

Goofy was thanking Lee, Laura and myself for running in his race.  He decided to just fly...

The night finished up with a lovely evening watching Illuminations, again this time seated with the infamous Nerd Herd.  I had expected to feel a lot more tired at this point but really I felt pretty good.   Joelle and I took a nice stroll out the front of the park and headed back to the TTC with Jan Pepe to our car.  It was a great ending to a very very long day.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lap 8 - Andrea Oakley


Date: Saturday, January 26th, 9:00 PM
Temp: 41 degrees
Total Time: 1:35 minutes

So we tried to do this back in December but I sort of bailed on it.  The idea was to do one of my laps of Sanitas during a full moon at night.   I think it was cold that night and I was sort of peaking out with my training for the Goofy at the time.  I just didn't have much in my legs.  Anyway, Andrea looked at the calendar and went ahead and scheduled a repeat attempt for January (thanks again for picking up the ball on this).  Since the marathon two weeks ago I had come down with a really nasty cold.  This week has been really nasty for running as I couldn't seem to get rid of this cough.   Today especially not only has the cough really been getting me down but also I seemed to have almost no energy.  Woke up at 9:00 am and by noon I felt exhausted.  

Spent most of the day hanging with friends but was a bit worried about my energy level for the late night run. Ended up picking up Kate and Michael and met up with the rest of the runners (Andrea, Rebecca, Laura and Lindsay).  

On a side note, Michael and I had decided to once again go without sugar for a month.  Rebecca was in our original bet back in November but I hadn't seen her in a few weeks.  Once she heard that we were back on the no-sugar bandwagon, she agreed to join as well.  It's nice to have friends willing to give up cookie dough for each other. ;)  Anyway, the bet is 50 bucks and ends the same weekend as the Princess 1/2.


The crew getting ready to head up

When we started out, we had just finished getting a little bit of a drizzle here in Boulder.  Oddly even with the drizzle it wasn't that cold.   I'd say I even overdressed a bit.  The smell of the fresh rain still hung in the air and already I was feeling better.   

This picture screams instagram filter

We took our time with the ascent.  I started off using my headlamp but quickly I ended up turning it off.  The moon had just enough light that most of the time I was fine without it.   Some of us had been up to the top of Sanitas before.   Others it was their first time.  I was glad they picked tonight to do it as it was a beautiful night.  In fact, I so prefer running at night I'm not sure I want to do it again during the daylight. ;)

Relaxing a bit at the top before heading back down.  

Once we got the top we sat around looking at the view for a bit.  I tried to snap a few pictures but the lighting conditions were not cooperating with my Iphone.  

Wow..I guess that reflective gear on my jacket really works....

A few of us were getting cold so we decided to start heading back down.  Instead of going down the front side, we decided to head down the backside.   While the start of that trail was a bit more sketchy, eventually it opens up into the Sanitas valley trail which is a really nice downhill where I normally run my hill repeats with Fast Forward.

Boulder at night

There are places around the country right now that have a few feet of snow, it's below freezing.  Here in Boulder it's rather pleasant out, no snow on the ground and we are blessed with such a gorgeous view.  I'm not sure there is anywhere else I'd rather live.  

Finally able to open it up running down the backside.  

Once we got down to the valley trail we all opened it up a bit and coasted the last mile back down to the parking lot.  There we were treated to libations and hot cocoa from Andrea.  I was about to partake when my good friend reminded me that hot cocoa has sugar in it and that would have cost me my 50 bucks.  Michael, thinking quick on his feat mentioned that we were allowed sugar in our post-workout recovery drinks.  We let him get away with it since especially he had already completed a 6 hour bike ride  earlier today and was replenishing his fuel supplies.  

Thanks Andrea for the post workout refreshments 

Yay!  We don't have to do it a second time...

After the run driving home I realized that I while I felt crappy all week, this is the best I've felt physically all week.  I think I'm finally recovering from both the cold and the Goofy.  Tomorrow my goal is to get in the pool and try adding some swimming to my workout routine.  

All in all probably the most leisurely but also most enjoyable lap of Sanitas that I've done.  I can't wait to do it again in the future and this summer it might have to become a regular outing.  Thanks again to all my great friends who came out last night to join me, not to mention all my friends that helped and supported my journey with Team Allears.  I still have four laps of Sanitas to go (one with Laura, a triple lap with Michael) and I'm hoping it doesn't end there.