Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Different Look at Racing

Two years ago my children's school started a 5K race at the end of the summer to kick off their back to school events. The first year had an ok turnout and the second year was dismal. This year, the school contacted me and asked if I would be willing to organize and promote the race this year. Here are the objectives I was given in February when they asked me to organize the race.

1. Include the community more this year
2. Change the date so that it is while school is still in session
3. Increase the participation
4. Spend no more money that is earned from registrations

#4 is the one that gave me a double take. Because the last race occurred on the 2008-2009 budget and the fact that the race registration didn't cover the expenses, I have had no budget for the race.

I took on the challenge though and it has been a worthwhile eye-opening event.

The official race day is May 2 (this Saturday). Two weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel and cancel the whole thing. We had a fair amount of sponsors lined up, spent time getting advertising up and talking to various public officials to get all the permits and permissions handled. The logistics were being handled, but we had only 5 people who had signed up. Then the heavens opened, the flood gates opened and we're now looking at 60+. Compared to a lot of 5K's this is a drop in the bucket, but going from zero to 60 is fabulous.

The t-shirts are on order and scheduled to arrive this week, the timing system is in process (we are hand timing this year as we can't afford anything fancier) and things are looking good. We've had a few hiccups with the weather which has shifted things a little. The fundraiser car wash for the 9th grade has been moved to the same weekend as the race, so we're adjusting the race a little so both functions can occur.

Hat's off to all the race organizers out there and all the volunteers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Next Goal

I ran an easy and slow three miles today and contemplated my next race option. I am registering for the St. George Marathon, but the race isn't until October. I need something sooner than that to keep me motivated toward that goal. The Salt Lake 1/2 Marathon was great and I would like to keep the momentum going.

I'm announcing my plans for the Bear Lake Marathon in June. This race is one of my favorite locations so the venue couldn't be better. The weather will be fabulous even if it rains and it is soon enough that I really get to focus my runs. This will also be an opportunity for me to see how truly committed I am because I will be in Chicago for 1 week the end of May. The adventure continues...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Would You Like That in a 5 x7 or 8 x 10?

I reviewed my race photos that were posted online. I felt a certain curiosity because this is the first race that has had photos as an option. In the past, my photo options have consisted of one of the following:
1. A photo taken by my wife after the race (which are generally good)
2. A photo of a person from a distance that may or may not be me
3. A photo that was taken of something else by someone I know and I just happened to get in the way
4. A photo of someone who is not me that my wife took because my kids were sure it was me

Any of the above 4 options are better than the ones taken of me during the race. Here are a few choices I had:
1. Me with my eyes closed. It must be that "zone" that I hear about. I had become one with the universe at that point.
2. Me with my mouth open and a bulge on one side of my mouth. That must have been just after I had stuck the 4 packs of gum in my mouth.
3. One where I looked like I was about to fall over from exhaustion. Ok, so that one was probably on the money.
4. Me looking at the camera with the "you've got to be kidding me, i'm in the middle of running my guts out and you're taking a photo? Like you'll get me to pay $14 for this one" look on my face

I'm thinking that maybe they should offer a digital swap option. They can take the headshot of any of your other photos and merge it to the body of any athlete they offer in their database. I think it would be a big ticket item. Maybe I'd end up looking like Rambo?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Salt Lake City Marathon Race Report

As I hit the final hill of the course after having a gradual downhill for the majority of the race, my mind gave me that scream that all runners hear "What the Hell are you doing?" I smiled as that thought occurred then picked up my pace. As we got within a mile of the finish, the number of spectators increased and the final 1/2 was wall to wall people. We entered the corral where the finish was and as I crossed the finish line under my goal time, I realized that I had accomplished what I had never even considered a possibility a year ago...I had run 13.1 miles completing a half marathon.

Here are my thoughts on the course and what I learned.

The weather has been so up and down lately that I wasn't clear on what I would actually wear until about 4:45 am after I had showered. I carefully kept track of the weather reports all week and they all shared the same story. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 60s. That meant it would be mid 40s to start the race and mid 50s at the conclusion. I threw my jacket over my technical shirt and workout pants on over my shorts. Breakfast included a couple mini bagels with peanut butter, a nutrition bar and some Powerade. I printed off the map the night before so I knew for sure where I was headed and about 5:30 am we stepped out the door to go up. Shera dropped me off around 6:20 am as close to the finish as she could which saved me having to get on the TRAXX or the bus to get to the start.

My first course of action. Get in line for the port a potties. At 6:30 am, the lines were only a brief 5 minute wait which I was grateful for. By the time the race started, some people had been in line for 15 minutes. Next was get a small glass of water, get my gear checked and get up to the race start. I made my way up to the middle of the pack, thinking that would be a good place to start. I wasn't expecting to break any records and felt that the middle would be a great place to start. The time ticked down, the race official gave the word and the gun sounded. The race had begun...for those that were at the beginning of the race. For those of us in the middle, we just stood there waiting for the line to start moving. It took about 8 minutes to get the timing mat and the beginning of the race.

My months of preparation was about to be tested. Would I resist the urge to run at my top speed because of the adrenaline flowing through my veins? Would I get into a pace that would allow me to go down hill without overdoing it and still have reserves for the inclines? Those were the thoughts as I started running. The going was slow the first 1/2 mile as people spread out, the slower runners moved to the back and those who were having shoelace issues moved over to the side. I felt good.

Before I knew it, mile 1 was complete. I knew the time displayed was off, so I checked my own time to see I was running at a 7:15 pace...way too fast for the start of the race. I wasn't planning on being that fast anywhere in the race. The goal was to finish under 2 hours. I calculated that I just had to be around 9 min/miles to hit that mark. Seeing the time and feeling that I wasn't overdoing it, brought the possibility of a hour 30 minute finish to my mind. I backed off my pace a little and settled in hovering between 7:45 and 8 minute/mile. Miles 3 to 9 were a blur. I had a little overly strong gatorade at mile 4 that caused me to cough. I had a gel at mile 9 with some water at the aid station.

The course continued relatively flat until 10 1/2 miles into it when we turned a corner and saw an incline that lasted about 3/4 mile. It wasn't a welcome site, but I was feeling good and just kept moving forward. I spotted my friend in front of me and inched up to where he was. Apparently he had started closer to the front, so he started the race about 6 minutes a head of me. We were both running faster than we had trained. I mentioned this as I passed him and made it to the top of the hill. Rounding the corner, the route went downhill for the last 1/2 mile before turning the corner for the final finish. The adrenaline kicked in and I finished the race with a 1 hour 49 minute time.

The adrenaline and endorphin rush was still lingering around as I received my finisher medal and picked up some post race food. I had finished the half under my goal time and my legs didn't fall off...all good things.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pre-Race update

Tomorrow is the big day. The day I see if all my work and training has paid off. I drove up and picked up my race bag, shirt and chip yesterday and walked around the expo. I was looking for more vendors, more free swag, etc.. because I am a swag addict. I got a set of golf balls, but nothing else. I picked up a couple gels. They didn't have the flavor I like, so I picked up a couple I'm ok with and a couple more. I'll bring a couple for the race and save the others for another day.

My number is 9009. A record turnout is expected this year and there is definitely some buzz in the air. I ran up to the store to get some pasta sauce for my own pasta dinner tonight and there were two different sets of conversations about the race. It'll be an early morning for me. If my wife opts to drive me up then I can sleep in a little longer. If I drive myself and take the shuttle then I get to leave at about 5:15 am to have time to get the shuttle, get to the start, wait in line for the bathrooms, etc.

I am a little concerned on the temperature. We woke up yesterday to 7 inches of snow...I think that was the most snow in one storm than we got all winter. I tweaked my back a little shoveling so it is a little sore, but I don't expect it to hamper my run. I'm sure if I was racing for first then it would be an issue, but if I was racing for first, would I be out shoveling??

One thing I enjoy about races (other than the free swag) is the upcoming race flyers. Turns out there is another Huntington 1/2 marathon in the fall. I e-mailed my buddy who took first place a few years ago and asked if he was interested. He told me he'd think about it, but I was welcome to stay at his place. I've got some time to work on him.

That's it for today, I'll post tomorrow or Sunday with my thoughts on the race and if I am ready to take it to the next level or hang around the 1/2 marathon for a while.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Huntington City 1/2 Marathon Flashback

As I prepare to undertake my race this weekend, I received an e-mail from a college friend. We spent our undergrad college years together and stayed in touch since. He related to me his first half marathon experience and I thought I'd share it.

I really enjoyed the half that I ran while training for St. George. It was over the 4th of July weekend. Huntington City was sponsoring a fun run 5K, 10K and 1/2. I registered and showed up on race day. We all loaded up into a school bus and began the drive. When we go to the 1/2 marathon starting line all the participants were asked to exit.

When I got off the bus I was surprised to find out that I was the only participant in the 1/2. So a person said go and started the stop watch. I began to run and everyone else loaded the bus and went down the canyon to the 10 K starting line. I had a police car tail me for the entire half marathon. The water stops had a few cups to choose from.

While it really didn't give me the experience of running against or with a group. I did provide some fun memories. 1) flashbacks of the OJ Simpson slow speed chase.... Very slow and minus a white bronco. 2) The only time I ever have (or probably ever will) take first place in a race. 3) My PR time for running a 1/2 marathon. I think I may own the Huntington city record for 1/2 marathon for my age group.

I've been to a few races where there were under 50 racers, but never have I experienced being the sole runner. As I have heard in the sporting world over and over, a win is a win is a win. So, a toast to Brian for taking on the Huntington City 1/2. I wonder if I can get in on the action this next year?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Race is On

The possible trip out of town fizzled, but the race is on. I'm as nervous and excited as a kindergartner going to his first day of school. Over a year ago, a group of co-workers, a print vendor and I were discussing marathons and we all decided it would be cool to train for a marathon or at least a half. A plan was put in place and over the course of the next year, we all fell apart. I had IT band issues from doing too much, too soon. One had a groin pull, another had knee surgery....the list goes on.

I have all the pre-race jitters. I've decided that my race outfit should reflect my efforts at obtaining free or really cheap race apparel. Here's how it looks and what it cost me:
• Mizuno top-free from doing a shoe fitting
• Perl Izumi shorts-free-participating in wear-fit trial
• Perl Izumi socks-bought from Amazon with the $40 gift card I got from Runner's Lounge (so technically free)
• Mizuno shoes-$35 deal at Fleet Feet

I'm also feeling pretty good in that I am only wearing two different brands. This is definitely an improvement over my first race which consisted of a different brand for each item.

Oh, the one item I didn't mention is my Hard Rock Cafe hat. I have an ongoing collection of them, so I always wear one on a race. Maybe someday i'll move to a visor, but for now, the hat does the trick.

I'm not counting my Nike+ or my ipod as those are accessories and accessories don't count.

I read through the race info and will be picking up a couple gels for the race. They are only offering gels to the full marathon participants, but I do better taking one around mile 6 or 7. There is plenty of drinks along the course, so I won't need my fuel belt.

Race time weather should be in the upper 40s so I am safe and not violating any 40 degree runner bylaws.

Race bag pickup is Thursday/Friday at the Quality of Life Expo.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Signs of Spring

Friday, the signs of Spring were all around us. As I took the kids to school, there were groups of people outside walking or running. The kids were asking why there were so many people on the road. I told them it was a sign of Spring when people move from the gym to the road. In a few weeks it will tapper off. I wondered if maybe I had missed a little known holiday.

One of the most obvious signs of Spring was that the strollers were out in force. The same moms that take up all the lanes of the track at the gym (even the ones reserved for running only) were all out of the roads. As my disclaimer, let me state that I have a lot of respect for those people who get outside and walk or run. They are definitely improving their health. The problem with some people on the road is that they forget that it isn't the track at the gym. At the gym if they take up all the lanes, a runner will generally weave in and out of their groups or politely ask them to move over. It's different on the road. There are cars. I generally move over a little when passing bikers or runners so that they have some extra room, but there were a couple moms walking side by side with their strollers without a care in the world. I had to slow down and move into the lane of opposite traffic so I wouldn't hit them. In return for my courtesy, I got a nasty look by one of the mom's as if I had disturbed her space. It is definitely a sign of Spring.

On another note, regardless of where I end up next weekend, I am still prepping for a half marathon. My long runs have been rather week lately. Yesterday I informed everyone in the family that I would be running 12 miles and to just plan on me being gone for at least 2 hours. I headed for the Jordan River Trail which in the summer is a really beautiful run. In the winter it is rather bland, but a nice change up from the roads. The weather was a bit iffy, but I was determined to get in my 12 no matter what it decided to do. When I got out of the car, I looked up at the sky and told it to give me 2 hours and took off. The route was a nice change from my usual residential area. It had just the right amount of curves, some slight hills and a couple good hills to keep the routine mixed.

I made it about 8 miles before the weather decided it had waited long enough. I ran about 2 miles in the wind/rain, but then I turned a corner and it all stopped. I was able to finish off the last 4 miles with no rain and just a warm breeze. It's like the wind/rain put me to the test to see if I was truly committed to my run or if i would wimp out. I won!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Half Marathon hiccup

I may have a hiccup in my plans for my first half-marathon. It happens to fall the same week that the kids have Spring Break. You may be wondering what the problem is with that bit of information. The problem is that the family is seriously housebound. Normally by now, the bikes are out, the yard is starting to get scattered with shoes, socks, bikes, etc. and friends are showing up on a regular basis. Not this year. It's been too cold.

As a result of our return to winter (it's currently 38 degrees and raining), the mood around the house is mirroring the weather. Everyone is in need of some time away from here. Even if we go from one rainy location to another rainy location, at least is a different scenery so the feeling is a bit different.

The race is set for Saturday. If we are going to go somewhere it will be a short Thurs-Sun trip since Shera's job is more restrictive than mine as far as taking time off. I have the option of finding a race wherever we end up, but that requires a whole different planning strategy. A friend was planning on doing a half marathon in May and I thought..that's perfect. I checked online and the race is all sold out. So the May race is out.

If the choice is go on a trip with the family so that there is joy and prosperity in all the land then that's where I'm headed. I'll pick up a race somewhere in the next month or two.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

POM Wonderful really is wonderful

Since I have no running to report on because my commitments to being the head of the 40 degree group prevented me from running outside over the weekend, i'll give you my official review on POM Wonderful.

Last week during the return to winter and with a mood about as nasty, I opened the door to find a case of POM Wonderful. First, thank you to Pom Blogger for sending me a case to test.

My first order of business was to digest the fact sheets sent with the case of juice. The information provided was concise, the layout was good (being a designer I look for these things).

So, here's my official review and my 9 year old daughter concurs:

Taste: I've tasted a variety of nutritional juices over the years and I have to say that this was a pleasant change. I expected something bitter that I would have to either hold my nose to drink or mix with something else. It has a little bit of a tart after taste, but not enough to turn my face inside out or anything. It is actually a little on the sweet side (but not overly) which is how I like my juices.

Appearance: The bottle is a cool design..what more do I have to say there. If my oldest were around, he'd probably snatch it up and we'd find it months later stuffed among his other "collectibles".

Serving size: The small bottle makes it easy to drink the whole thing and not think twice. It seemed liked two big swallows and it was half gone. The only downside to having the small bottles is that they take up a lot of space in the refrigerator.

Overall, I enjoy the juice so much that I will probably pick some up at the store instead of passing it by. I ran it by my kids to see how they like it and got these results: 12 yr old-Hey that's not too bad; 11-year old-It's ok, 9-year old: Can I have some more (she is the most adventurous in this arena), wife: It's a little sour

This week I will see how it fairs as an after race drink. My guess is that it will be fabulous.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The 40 Degree Group

Since Winter has decided to make a comeback (Vanilla...this is something for you to look forward to come Monday), I took to the treadmill at the gym. I'm part of the 40 degree group. If it isn't at least 40 degrees with sun/party sunny then I am at the gym. I'm thinking this could be a great Facebook group. We could promote ourselves as wise runners.
We can qualify to call ourselves dedicated runners because we have our race stats on our blogs and we are always looking to bring running into our daily conversation so that other will be impressed and because we really have nothing else to talk about.

We'd have our own motto...something like "40 degree group...because we like digits." Pretty clever,huh? We'd be a new feature in Runner's World. It would be the natural evolution from the beginner runner. There would be groups all across the country except for places like Florida where 40 degrees is unnatural. You might be wondering why 40 degrees. From my own scientific study, I have determined that 40 degrees is a good because it still requires running gear (is a runner really a runner if they don't have gear?), but it doesn't have the financial investment in the triple layer compression warming pants with the cold gear jacket surrounded by the winter wicking parka with the wool, nylon, pro warming battery powered gloves and hat that is associated with the zero degree group that is still frozen on the roads after our last storm.

There is another benefit to being a 40 degree runner. Treadmill mastery. Treadmills really don't like runners. They like the people who are out for a nice 30 minute jog or a walker. You might disagree because you see all those pre-programmed work out trainers like "5 K trainer" or "hill workout". Don't let those fool you. They are there as a stall tactic. As you work to figure our how to program it, the treadmill internally is figuring out the best strategy for throwing you off. The 40 degree group would be immune to all the treadmill's tricks or enough scars that it doesn't hurt anymore when thrown off. Like my interval training yesterday proved. Manually adjusting the speed and incline throws the treadmill off. It doesn't know how to handle this newly developed strategy on the part of the 40 degree runner. As a result, I got a good 8 miles done.

So, rise up you 40 degree runners! Cast off your warming gear and join me as we change the running world forever. As a dedicated 40 degree runner, you'll also want to make sure you have the complete running gear. Get your credit cards ready...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thank You Mizuno

As a runner, I learned a valuable lesson early on....there is no substitute for FREE stuff. Yesterday I did my easy run that was scheduled for Monday. For some reason, my Monday runs seem to always happen on Tuesday. I took the kids to the rec and did an easy two miles with them. After the run, I dragged my son to the local Fleet Feet where the Mizuno Precision Fit-mobile was stationed. I received an e-mail the end of last week announcing a hi-tech way of determining the best shoes for me. That was interesting enough and the $10 off coupon was ok, but what really piqued my interest was the FREE technical shirt being given out just for going through the process.

So, My son (who attributed this trip as just a small step above shopping and gave me crap for it the whole way until I threatened to take away his computer and Wii privileges) and I came to an agreement that he could stay in car while I went through the hi-tech process. And it was way cool. I got to stand on what is a large scanner while it scanned my feet then do some different scans and bends. In the end, it told me that the shoes I have currently are a good choice. I got a nifty print out about my feet and I got the FREE technical shirt out of it.

Today, the plan is to go do an 8 mile interval session. After a nice day in the mid 50s on Saturday, we are back to snow. That means it's the treadmill for me.