Sunday, June 28, 2009

Round Up Days 5K...I kicked your 15 year old butt

I didn't want to combine my last post with a running post. I thought about it, but how do I skillfully merge my cousin's funeral with the 5K race? They both happened on the same day and both were memorable. Here's a recap of the race.

It all started 1 year ago at the last Round Up Days 5K. I was a relative newby at the race scene. I didn't have a whole lot of running gear. I owned a couple pair of running shorts and some pseudo running shirts, but not much else. I remember waking up late and driving down to the race while munching on a Clif bar and drinking a bottle of water. It was not a stellar race. On top of that, the neighbor kid was running also and he totally kicked my butt the last 1/4 mile of the race. This is important because I have stewed on this fact for a solid year.

This year, I had two goals in mind. 1. Beat the neighbor kid and 2. Beat my 5K PR that I set last September

The new twist this year is that many of my family decided to run/walk the race also. I didn't have to worry about waking up late this year because I set the alarm for 6:00 am and was ready to take on this race.

500+ people started the race at the community center and it wound around the local area. I started the race focused on my two main goals and found myself running way too fast for my own good. The combination of Adrenaline and focus resulted in me feeling pretty haggard by the first mile. I'm amazed that I can run a half marathon and thoroughly enjoy the race, yet in a 5K my head is screaming as if we had just been attacked by aliens and I was the one to warn the world.

By mile 2 I was ready for this race to be over and done with. I went against my principles and took a drink at the 1 1/2 mile mark. I felt worse than I had to start with. I was sufficiently hydrated going into this race I was just looking for something to dull the ache in my chest and shoulder. instead, I found myself coughing for a 1/4 mile and wondering if I could throw up and run at the same time. I decided this wouldn't be a wise choice so I put it out of my mind.

I also noticed that there was a guy running the opposite direction and he had a race bib on. I thought maybe he was one of those idiot fast runners who finish the race and the come back to run with a friend and rub it in that he was done. I realized that he was going the opposite direction because the course looped back on itself. I think this was worse than knowing that this race would never end.

I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and suddenly the thought came to my mind "I wonder what I'll have for breakfast when this is over?" Seriously? I'm running my guts out and I can only think of breakfast? I'm not focused on my breathing or pacing or relaxing the'm thinking about waffles.

The home stretch came up and all my focus went to making the final push and finishing strong. I finished the race and had no idea what my time was until my son came up and congratulated me on beating my PR time. What? I beat my PR? I though at mile 2 I was finished. My efforts paid off and I beat my PR by a good 1:58 seconds.

The post race food was a better spread than the 10K that I ran earlier. Alas, the only people to get prizes were the first place finishers overall and in the age divisions. I took third. As for my two main goals going into the race, here are the results.

PR the race-went from a 24:00 minute PR in the fall of '08 to a 22:02 PR
Beat the kid in the neighborhood. He never showed up, but I know I would have kicked his 15-year-old butt.

Life as a Run: See you on the other side Scott

My cousin Scott died on Father's Day. As a young boy, we would go over to his house and play in their basement. He was 19 years older than I am, but he always took time out to play with us. As I got older, whenever we got together we would discuss life, movies and books. I always remember Scott having a positive outlook on life.

As I sat at the funeral yesterday and listened to his brothers speak about his life, I realized that if I compare our life here to a race, Scott was way a head of the pack. The gentle giant that he was attracted many people to his life and touched many for good. I will always remember his laugh, his thumbs up sign and always enjoying the opportunity to be in his company.

While I continue my run through life, I know that Scott has finished and he will be there at the finish line cheering me on. Good run Scott, good run!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Distractions

I'm all for summer. The weather is warm, the sun is out, there are plenty of activities to do and of course, there are a lot of races. This week, the weather turned from cool rainy weather to hot summer weather. I also have noticed that there are a lot more distractions to derail my fall marathon training.

One of my biggest distractions are those shaved ice stands that pop up all over the place this time of the year. If you are deprived and do not have any of these in your area, please let me know so I can come set one up and allow you to experience the goodness that is shaved ice. Years ago, my wife and I stumbled upon one of the first shaved ice stands in the area and instantly we became addicted. You might now be wondering what the big deal is, people have had snow cones for years, right? True as it is, you have not truly experienced life until you have had shaved ice.

Snow cones are made by grinding ice into small particles, piling them in a cone and then adding flavored syrup on top. A few problems develop with this barbaric form of a cool treat. First, the grinding just reduces the size of the ice, it doesn't make it any easier to eat. You still can break your teeth on a kernel of ice. Second, because you are dealing with small chunks of ice, you have to be extremely skilled in your geometry and sense of architectural engineering to be able to eat one without a snow cone landslide from developing. Finally, the syrup doesn't stay on the ice. It briefly touches the ice, realizes it is too cold to stay and moves to the bottom of the cone. By the time you have worked your way to the bottom you can be reworded with a fabulous sugar high or discover that the syrup has worked a hole in your cone and now everyone can see what you just ate.

Shaved ice is a whole different experience. First the ice isn't ground into smaller cubes, it is shaved. By shaving, the ices becomes more like it's snow flake friends and is closer to its crystalline structure (thus making it soft). No teeth break on the shaved ice because it is softer. A spoon is a necessity when having one. Then there is the syrup combination. Because shaved ice is much softer, the syrup likes to hang out thus giving the consumer a better tasting product.

Are you convinced yet? Here's a great added cream. Some places will add a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom before adding the shaved ice. Talk about added goodness. I didn't realize how deprived I was until I was show the light.

Why is this a distraction. Because there is one within 1/4 mile from my home and is strategically located on three of my favorite running routes. They aren't open at 6:30 when I am running, but they might as well be. I run by the stand and all of a sudden my pace slows and I start wondering what flavor combination will I try next. I fear that one day, I may just stop all together and be frozen in place staring at the different flavor options, admiring the tiki hut design for the hut and anxiously anticipating the time when it will open. It's a huge distraction, but I have come up with a solution that didn't even require me to buy anything.

My fuel belt has a pouch that will easily fit a couple ones. Who needs GU on a long run? Imagine what would happen being frozen in place when the store opens and to have NO MONEY! That's a frightening possibility that I am not even going to consider.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alternative to the bike portion of a Triathlon

I have run across an item that will revolutionize the world of triathlons for all those people who like the running portion of the triathlon, but dislike the swimming or biking. I'm a on sport type of guy. For those of you that are looking to expand your horizons, maybe you should consider the 'jump bike'.

This is a bike that has no pedals. It is 100% running powered. Check out the video to get a good feel for this. With this new piece of technology, you only have one more sport to overcome...swimming.

While I like the concept of a running powered bike. The bouncing up and down has me a bit concerned. I really don't need to be singing the alto part of the choir.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

TIART: Summer Gear

I got up for the second day in a row at 6:15 for a 6:30 am run. It's summer, the kids are out of school. My office is out of my home and my main client doesn't even open their office until 8:30 am which means that the majority of the people are wandering in sometime between 9-9:30 am. What am I doing up so early? Oh yeah, I get to go run before it gets blazing hot outside and my shoes start melting as I run and I end up with an inverted sunburn from the reflection off the pavement. My gadget and gear for running in the summer is a two-fold plan.

The first is the alarm clock. Years ago my wife and I put the alarm clock on the other side of the room. The theory being that if we have it in a place where we have to physically get out of bed and hit the snooze button, we would stay up. This was a theory that worked excellent for the first day and then we discovered that it really didn't make any difference. My sleep induced semi-conscious state didn't have any qualms about hitting snooze and crawling back into bed. My daughters' room is across the hall from ours. Their alarm clock goes off at 6:30 am every morning. Generally by 6:45 I am tired of listening to their music and since they aren't turning it off, I will walk across the hall, turn off their alarm and go back to bed. The alarm clock is just the first part of the plan.

My second part is having a running partner. This is a new portion of my plan. A neighbor down the street has a roofing company and I have a roof in need of some fixes. My patchwork quilt look isn't cutting it anymore. I found out that he runs on a semi-consistent basis but lacked the motivation to get out the door. He's giving me a deal on a re-roofing, I get a running partner for a few runs during the week. It's a fair trade off. I ran yesterday and wasn't planning on another run until Friday, but he called and wanted to go today, so I obliged. I figure in a week or two the novelty will wear off and I'll have to come up with a third part of the plan.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Like falling off a bike

Since my knee has started acting up, my blogging/running seem to be going hand in hand. I did a quick 4 miles on Friday at my near normal speed with little pain. I have been diligently stretching and running the stick over the IT Band areas to keep things loose. So far so good. The downside to this is getting back into the habit of running. I fell off the bike per se and am struggling to get back on it.

It'll just take a few good runs and I'll be back, but pushing myself out the door to accomplish that is where I am at. I signed up for the local 5K that is next Saturday. This year they have better prizes so I am looking toward maybe a new PR and of course the thrill of beating the neighborhood kid this year. I'm counting on him being slowed down by his baseball and football practice that he has every morning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mystery Diagnosis Solved

The official diagnosis of my knee problems is in. I was kind of hoping for something unusual that I could brag up to my running friends. Some sort or unknown phenomena that has a high cure rate or better yet, having the doctors tell me that they are in the final phases of a new leg replacement that will make Steve Austin (bionic man) look like a hamster on a wheel in comparison to where I will be.

Alas, no such luck. I have a more severe case of the good old IT Band than I had before on my other knee. I was given a prescription for Physical Therapy and told that if it doesn't get better then they'll do a cortisone shot. The good news is that now I have a name for my issue and I can work on my stretching and rolling techniques to get it feeling better. The bad news is that I don't get the bionic legs...

I have two weeks to get up to speed for the local 5K. Last year a kid up the street from me beat me by a good 2 minutes. I wasn't in the best of form last. This year I am determined to smoke his little 15 year old butt. Game on!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Japanese Ingenuity

I'm back from my multi-state trip. I had dreams of some nice easy runs each day I was in Chicago, Madison, or East Lansing, but because of my knee I was constrained to 3 miles on the treadmill in Madison and 3 days of cussing because I did 3 miles on the treadmill. I did do a TON of walking and some short sprints (from one end of the hotel to the other with a projector case over my shoulder weaving in and out of hotel guests....OJ would be impressed) while part of the conference staff, but only one day of actual running.

I did come across a little known piece of Japanese ingenuity today. In my car there is a Hershey Bar holder designed to keep one bar cool while I am driving on a hot summer day. I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I was eyeing a chocolate bar that a vendor had given me. I unwrapped it slightly and noticed that it hadn't turned to liquid, but was pretty close. Feeling an overwhelming sense of potential loss at losing a fine piece of chocolate, I did what any logical human male would do in this situation. I cranked up the AC and stuck the wrapped bar right in front of one of the vents.

As I was waiting for the bar to cool down, I got tired of holding it, so my finely-honed male genes took over and stuck it right between the teeth of the vent. It is a perfect fit. No longer is it blocking all the cool air coming through, but it is cooling much more of the bar than before. No wonder the US car market has suffered. This is almost as exciting a discovery as the day I discovered I could roll down all the windows in the car just by holding down the unlock button on my car remote.