Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How do you Du?

Well, I have went off the deep end in endurance athletics.  I have run 1 mile, 4k, 5k, an adventure 5k, 4 miles, 10k, 12k, 1/2 marathons, a Ragnar Relay and a 25k.  This evening I signed up for my first full Du, the Minneapolis Duathlon.

That being said. HELP.  I have ridden a bike.  Hell, I own a very nice bike (as well as proper safety gear).

My Trek 1000 SL

I need effective training programs or advice to make sure my first Du is a good experience.  Luckily, I used incentives give out by Team Ortho to their volunteers to register. 

Looking to keep this one short:

Have you ever signed up for a race on a whim?

How did it turn out for you?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spectator Sunday

Today was not my day to run.  It was my day to be the support, yell like crazy and take awesome photos.  Here are a selection of photos I took for Future Wifey at the Stillwater 5k,10k, 1/2, 20 Mile and Full Marathon. (5 races one, finish line, and beer next to the finish line.)
I saw her as I was making my way to the guard rail that would be my perch for the start of the race.

The start of the 20 mile, 1/2 and full marathon ( Future Wifey was dropped off at the 5 and 10 k start area.)

Sometimes signs should be covered for race day. This one is for you SUAR!

The beginning of the end.

The end of the end.  Her new PR for the 10 k now stands at 50 minutes 7 seconds.
It isn't a finisher's medal, but it will still make you smile.

Future Wifey posing in front of the historic Stillwater lift bridge and the flooded river walk.

Well that is it.  This is what I spent my morning doing, and I wouldn't change it for any reason.  Hope you all enjoyed the photos.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sights We See.

It came to my attention on my run this evening that runners often get to see many sights that others might miss (including other runners that are focused entirely on their run).  Last year I had the privilege of running many races.  I saw sun rises, eagles soaring, heads bobbing amidst their own personal clouds of breath.  I saw people accomplish things they may have thought were not possible.  I saw the looks of disappointments in performances as well as the fire of determination burning to do better next time.  I saw parents dragging their children along encouraging them to do better.  I saw children dragging their parents promising that the finish line isn't that much farther (it is all a matter of opinion).

These are all things that are only seen by runners and the friends that they drag out of bed in the morning to drop them at the start, possibly cheer somewhere in the middle and pick them up at the finish.

Also, I have seen new cities.  I have traveled to different locals to see races that my fabulous fiance was participating in.  Las Vegas for a Mardi Gras themed race, Portland for a half marathon, and come this November Savanah, GA to complete my first destination race the Rock'n;Roll Savanah Half Marathon with my then new wifey.

Unrelated, I finished my own little 30 day challenge today.  I successfully ran at least one mile each day for 30 days straight.  Today, knowing that tomorrow holds a possible rest day, I decided to go for broke.  10 kilometers later, my legs hate me.  My quads quit around 4 miles in.  My feet were aware of the extra distance being pounded out. My calves are probably the only muscle group that is happy, but only because I didn't do the run in my Bikilas.

I had mentioned to my future wifey that I was wondering what my next challenge should be, and with out missing a beat she said I should run 2 miles minimum.  I don't think that will be quite it, but I will more than likely keep running more often as it seems to give me time to think and pray without all of the electronic distractions that I like.

For some reader participation:

What is something memorable that you have seen while on a race course?

Do you often do destination races? If so, do you you have one that stands out? (Boston counts but please have a second one too)

Note: first question has been edited to improve clarity of thought.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not just doing the minimum

The wait for my return is over.  Or at least my random drop off the internet world is over.  Back from a run and some thinking.

One thing that I have noticed over the past 29 days of running is that I often only did the minimum of 1 mile.  Granted some of those days were weather related, but today I thought I would do something a bit different and did 3.5 miles.  My Nike+ system is still wonky (read foot pod battery failure likely culprit) so I did things the old fashioned way and ran a route that I had previously driven after a reset of the trip meter.

I enjoyed seeing many people out enjoying the nice evening temps.  A few were on bikes, but most were out for a casual stroll.  I used them as miniature goals.  Pass the group of old ladies walking by the end of this hill (they were already 3/4 of the way up). Don't step in what that dog just did on the sidewalk and the owners ignored. Don't get hit by the biker that is weaving toward me on that down hill (bikes and sidewalks should not be used together on low traffic roads).  Nod knowingly to the other runner as they pass by.

I ran with a single head phone in just to give myself some rhythm and something to give me energy.  Playlist included artists like Flyleaf, Atmosphere, and J. Alan (my brother so it is OK if you don't recognize him, but if you want to check him out free download here).

Do you set mini goals while out on runs?

Do you listen to music? Use distance tracking equipment?

Friday, May 13, 2011

TC 1 Mile Race Report

It was a dark and stormy night... no, not believing it... OK, how about it was a misty mid-evening... more believable?  OK, I'll stick with that.  Yep, the evening had its share of little droplets of water.  The breeze swirled around through the buildings and the Hennepin County Library, located right next to the start, hasn't seen that many people in ages.  (It is actually a nicely designed building.)

Candid photo of my Bikila's while playing footsy with Future Wifey
The night was planned with multiple waves culminating in the USA 1 Mile Road Race Championships.  Myself and my lovely Future Wifey were in the Friends and Family wave that kicked off the night.  Participation was slightly dropped due to the weather,but the corral still filled up and got packed together rather cozily.  I started towards the back half of the pack to begin with since I was running in my newly acquired Vibram Bikilas this year and didn't really know if I could keep an above average pace throughout the entire mile.  They drew a bit of attention from the racers near me, and we started talking about minimalist running and some of the possible advantages and disadvantages.  We heard a faint beep and wondered if it was the start signal.  We decided it must have been since when we looked forward there was a line of bobbing heads.  The shuffle towards the start began.

Nothing too horrible only about half a minute of lag between gun time and chip time.  Then I became one of the bobbing heads.  My legs felt great the misty mid-evening was a nice temp for running and the mist that had been falling earlier had stopped, or at least I didn't notice it anymore.  The art of weaving through aspiring runners (read: new to organized events) and miniature munchkins (Family wave remember) is a bit difficult in such tight quarters, but I managed: 1) Not to squish any wee one or 2) shoulder tackle the woman pushing a stroller towards the front of the pack.

Side rant: I am fine with women and men that want to push their kids into the street  in strollers. BUT, please be mindful of other runners.  Ask the other runners around you what their expected pace is going to be.  If you can't match it, make the beeping noise for comedic effect and back until the response is near what you expect to run.

Back to sanity now.  The organizers were nice enough to set up clocks at 1/4 mile interval to help pace out the pack.  The first one for me read a litte over 3 minutes, and I figured that it would likely be around that as my lateral movement was almost equal to my forward at that point.  It was about that time when I came across a little runner dressed all in pink holding the hand of a bent over mommy.   I couldn't resist also stooping over and offering a high (for her) five.  She swung and missed (seriously you gotta look at the elbow you will never miss).  She managed to hit my wrist though and I figured it was close enough and continued on.

The wee one's energy must have been contagious because I picked up my own pace.  1/2 mile marker read only about 5:00.  The crowds weren't nearly as thick as they were in years past when the weather was nicer, but the ones that did brave the elements were loud enough.  The 3/4 marker read 6:55 or something near that, and I decided that my pace was about right since I was starting to get a nice burning sensation building in my calf muscles due to my adjusted stride (still not quite fully adapted to the Vibrams).

I passed by the always lively Brits Pub Cheer Zone and knew that the finish was near.  I buckled down and started to hit a decent stride (great wish I could have found that earlier).  My foot strikes felt light as a feather and the final clock came into view.  The crowd of stalled earlier finishers also came into view.  I wanted to be able to run through the mats not just too them, but that would have required a plow in front of me.  I managed to hit the first mat still in stride but had to pull back quickly other wise I was going to find out what people felt like under foot in the Vibrams.

The finish line fare wasn't much.  People shelling out water and massages that would have taken 10 times longer to get when compared to how long they lasted.  Free movie pass to a screening of the new Pirates movie was a nice treat though.

Future Wifey had already finished (new PR for her 7:08) while I set a nice little mark of my own at 8:28.  No where near my old glory days, but respectable for 240lbs rumbling down the street near barefoot.  We started to walk back and started planning how to get warmer clothes in time to see the main event of the evening.  We also expressed hopes of seeing one of the other Minneapolis area bloggers Steve the lucky man who got to meet Ryan Hall at the press event (photographic proof HERE).  No sooner had we mentioned that; I noticed a Tyr transitions bag not unlike the one my fiance won in a give away done by Steve.  We poke and prodded at each other trying to figure out if it was actually him or someone else who just had a really sweet transition bag.  Finally, I called out "Steve"; he turned, and we introduced ourselves while professing our jealousy at his ability to meet Ryan.

Mini Minneapolis blogger meet up accomplished; we headed towards the Brits Pub Cheer Zone where we planned to act like civilized rabid fans.  We found an empty space at a table near the edge of the patio next to the street and claimed it as ours.  I ran off to grab our sweat shirts out of the car while Richelle procured the traditional cowbells from the people handing them out.  I found Uncle Sam on the way back and told him I too heard some thing about the Boom (a half marathon on the 4th of July) and received a water bottle for my effort at remembering the phrase to garner a prize if he was spotted.  Since we were waiting at a busy corner, he was quickly mobbed.  I scooted away to finish my mission.  Warm clothing and wallet procured from my nearby vehicle; I went to find Richelle and show off my new found swag.  On the way I ran into a few cowbell dispensing Target employees and grabbed as many as they would dole out (turns out 3).  At the corner near Brits, I saw a cowbell lacking wee one and handed my surplus one to her much to the delight of her and the "what have you done" glares of her parents.

I found that my timing couldn't have been better.  The table spot mentioned earlier had become the entire table and the Women's Championship Wave was only minutes away from starting.  Multiple cowbells in hand and wonderful Get Lucky! 7k sweatshirt on I set about being a human noisemaker as the elite women flew past (congrats to Sara Hall and her 4:30.8 win).  The Men's Championship followed shortly after with David Torrence claiming his 3rd straight in 3:58.4.  That's right, by the time I would have been barely over 1/4 of the way through my race, he would have been finishing his had they began at the same time.  Puts their speed into perspective.  After the Men's raced by we retired to the interior of Brit's Pub for a post race beer and some amazing food.
Future Wifey enjoying a well deserved beer after setting a new PR
The aforementioned amazing food

Race gear and swag

Previously mentioned calf muscles

Pictures will likely fill in later to make this an even longer post. made it an even longer post.  The shorter version of the evening: "I ran a mile; it was kind of misting.",  just didn't seem as entertaining.

Question:  What should my sign off be or should '/end' continue its reign?


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TC 1 Mile Tomorrow

I am looking forward to double dipping tomorrow during the TC 1 mile (hey it is a mile run, I paid for it, and it fits my criteria for running at least 1 mile a day).  The TC 1 mile is a road race down the streets of Minneapolis and also contains the "USA 1 Mile road Championship" for the elites.

Which brings me to my second point Ryan Hall, yes US Olympian Ryan Hall, and his wife Sara will be there.  As one of you may know, Ryan Hall is one of my favorite distance athletes.  One of the other local bloggers that I follow , Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! seen HERE (nasty first sunburn by the way), has the opportunity to go  to the press luncheon prior to the event.  Will he meet Mr. and or Mrs. Hall who knows.  All I know is the Brits Pub cheer zone during the elite wave will likely have more than a few local enthusiasts cheering as the Halls blaze past.  Here is hoping that it isn't raining like it was this for this morning's run.

So I kind of liked the idea of picking your brains, so today's question is:  Who is your favorite distance athlete? 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hitting the wall.

OK, so I am 14 days into this whole run at least one mile a day for 30 days straight thing I challenged myself with.  Exciting, yes. Challenging, yes. Tiring, oh hell yeah.  Recently, I have noticed that what at the beginning was challenging and energizing has become sapping and repetitive.  I have hit a wall.  Not quite like a marathoners wall.  I know that physically I am more than capable of running more mileage.  But mentally I am finding it more difficult to actually go and do it.  Running used to be my escape and now it seems more like a chore.  It has slipped out of the realm of routine and in that space that is occupied by tasks that we know are necessary but often tedious.  The last couple of days have been tough to get out and run.  Partly do to weather today (morning showers). So my small bloggy pack friends, I have a question for you. 

How do you motivate yourself to get out and run? 

I still have a mantra I stole off of a Nike shirt that I purchased when Future Wifey ran Nike Women's Marathon and Half marathon in  San Francisco "Every. Damn. Day. Just Do It."  It has gotten me through two weeks, but the next 16 days are looking like a not so sweet 16. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The streak goes on.

The streak that I have restarted since the day after Easter continues.  I have run at least one mile/day.  This might not sound like much but one of those miles was to test out Vibram Five Finger Bikilas.  While they performed well and I am very happy with them, I have had calf muscles that have been threatening mutiny since Tuesday afternoon.  Wednesday my legs just felt a little dead.  Today however DOMS was in full effect and made most of my workout attempts quite interesting.  Since my job schedule is anything but normal (40/week but never really having set days off with consistency), I had the opportunity to do yoga again today followed by weight training. 

Yoga with calf muscles in protest is much more difficult than yoga normally.  Luckily, we did a lot of seated poses and only a few that were really standing and balancing on a single leg.   The real challenge is weight training after yoga.  You spent the last hour or so gently moving and stretching, lengthening and relaxing, only to start pounding and tensing, shortening and straining them for the next hour.  Do my trainers think I am nuts? No, they have pretty much concluded that I am.  No more thought needed.

But like my ADD demands I must also share a completely separate idea. Happy Cinco de Mayo. Or should I say Feliz Cinco de Mayo.  And since it is also a three things Thursday I will share three things.
1) I am continually blessed by having good friends and a wonderful fiance.
2) I am more that excited about being able to cook a wonderful meal for my fiance tonight (chicken fajitas)
3) Good Luck to EMZ who will be doing a 24 hr run to benefit the Sojourner Center. If you wish to donate, click HERE

Thanks for reading my ramblings. /end

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wait.. You run barefoot?!

I have joined in on the minimalist kick and will be back in a few hours to tell your how my new Vibram Five Finger Bikilas perform during all sorts of cross training/yoga/running goodness.

OK... so that took longer than expected.  Yoga was first on the list since I didn't arrive in time to squeeze in a mile run in the Vibrams.  Yoga I took traditionally and just did it barefoot to not confuse or distract anyone from their practice.  After about an hour of twisting and contorting and using muscles in ways that they don't normally get used the practice was over, I told the instructor that she would love my new shoes.  Not letting down on my promise I produced my Vibrams from my bag, and I think she instantly fell in love.  After getting quizzed a bit about them while making sure all of my toes wiggled into their respective spots, I stood up and immediately my calf muscles activated to the delight of all.  I don't have much definition in much of my muscles yet but my calf muscles apparently look freakish.

Enough of the lead up though.  You are all probably asking what they felt like or how they performed.  Well, they felt like slippers.  Seriously, these things feel like hugs for your feet.  The odd feeling of having cloth between my toes was a first while running, but it wasn't long before other feelings were pushed to the forefront.  If you wear these shoes, you will not heel strike.  I had to try to get a midfoot strike because instinctively I started plodding along on the ball of my foot.  I can hear all of the questions now, "If you strike on the ball of your foot doesn't that give your calves a huge work out?"  The answer is yes.  I have run many races and countless (or at least I didn't count) training runs since starting running more than a year ago, and, holy calves (get it), my calf muscles did not like me afterward.  I ran ONLY a mile, and even then I only did intervals of 2:30 min. running: 1 min walking. 

After the short run with them on I decided to do a little cross training in them.  Now, I am lucky enough to have access to a trainer.  He was full of questions, and he too is now thinking of picking up a pair to test this whole bare foot thing out.  It was fairly simple to cross train in them.  I was nice when using the Bosu or when planting to do any of the cable workouts that today had in store.  Throughout the entire work out I felt very grounded and very in tune to exactly how my feet were planted.  The balance work on the Bosu was strange however since I could feel the air shifting inside of the little half dome through the sole of the shoes.

All in all, I think I found a nice tool to add to the variety of training that I do.  I think I will do my weight training and some short interval work with them so my form improves but my calves will not want to kill my constantly.  I really should also mention that I got them at Gear Running Store in Edina. (just in case anyone in the Minneapolis area is thinking, but where would I find such a shoe?)  The staff was friendly and knew their stuff.  They also carry a lot of minimalist shoes as well if the one of the Vibram styles don't work out for you. Otherwise, your local REI or other sports stores may have them.