Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rain, Wind, Hail...repeat

So, the weather has been doing it's own intervals today and I decided to let it have it's fun without me. It's typical this time of the year to start getting some cold storms come through, but to see snow in the mountains isn't always a pleasant idea. It's a harsh reminder that even though 1 month ago, we were hitting the mid 90's, one month from now and the highs will be in the mid 50s to 60s. I have a better running jacket on order that should be here soon. That will make the cold weather a little more bearable. Tonight I'll put in 5 miles on the treadmill. I signed up for the 10K yesterday at the local store. I was looking to see if they had anything on clearance worth picking up but they didn't. I've noticed that my pace has picked up since the marathon. I've done 2 rounds of 5 miles about 20 seconds faster than I was at a month ago. The first day I chalked it up to the fact that I took a week off. Yesterday though, my knee was a little bothersome but I was still running along...that's great to see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alpine Adventures on Friday

Here's a great little short film that was shown at a local film festival. There is a subtle link to running in this movie, see if you can spot it. Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2 Lead Feet

Yesterday I felt like it was time to get out and run, but I wanted to give it one more day just to play it safe. This morning I got up and went through my typical morning routine. It's cooler now in the mornings and the sun is now in my eyes as I run. I can either start running later in the morning or get some sunglasses.

This morning's run was to be a nice easy casual run. I might as well have been wearing lead shoes. My body felt like I was dragging it along. I looked down to check my pace and it showed I was running a 9:30 pace, but it just felt sluggish. I'll probably run again tomorrow or do a slightly long run on Saturday.

Next week I will work to be ready for the Oktoberfest 10K that is in my area. I'd like to beat my previous 10K time. I also get to look around for some cool weather gear. I plan on running outside more this winter and would like to be prepped.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Race Photos

I just received an e-mail from the race photo people for the Top of Utah Marathon. I actually have to say that this time I around I was a little more prepared for the photos and was on my best behavior. I scrolled to the bottom of the thumbnail images to discover that I had changed my shirt, put on sunglasses and lost a significant amount of hair during the race. I remember being glad the race was over and standing in front of the race banner, but I didn't realize I had changed so drastically. Here's my new (I guess) look...oh, and I changed my number also apparently. I was 356 when I started the race and I changed to 556 when it was all done...I guess a lot happens during the 26.2 miles.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Top of Utah Marathon report

Going into this race, the majority of the people who have run it really liked the course and now I know why.
The weather was outstanding. Our hotel had a complimentary breakfast and they opened it at 4 am because of the race. It was a 20 minute bus ride up the canyon to the starting line. We got there in plenty of time to hit the restrooms and get warmed up. By warmed up I mean getting into the tent with all the other runners and the heaters. It took enough of the chill off to be ok.
The first 19 miles of the course was mostly downhill. A gradual 1-2% grade so it didn't shred the calves. The race started. For the first mile I was glad that I had done quite a bit of trail running because I ran along the side of the road to pass people. After that it thinned out enough to squeeze by people. I started off slow and steady not wanting to hit my stride too soon. In retrospect, I think I could have picked it up a little and still be ok.

The aid stations began at mile 3 and were every 2 miles after that. The canyon was fabulous. At times, we got a slight tail wind which felt nice. My upper body tend to take a little more time to warm up so I debated whether to wear a jacket and throw it in one of the clothing drops along the course or just go for it. I'm glad I opted to pack it with my other clothes as I was fine.

The first 14 miles there were no spectators. At mile 14 there were so many people there cheering on the runners that it felt like the finish line. The volunteers on the course were fabulous. There were so many people handing out water and gatorade that I almost felt bad not taking something. Everyone of the volunteers were cheering on the runners. EMTs were at every aid station and the police presence was really good. I saw more than one policeman double checking on a runner as they were stopping traffic.

At mile 20, my energy was shot. I was so grateful for a banana at mile 21. After that, it was one aid station to the next. I knew I could make it one more mile. I also had done a 23 mile run once before so I just kept telling myself that if I had done 23, I could do 3 more. I rounded the corner with 3 blocks left to hear some familiar voices screaming "DAD!!" and then three kids came running beside me telling me to "Keep Going" and "Pick up the pace". They ran with me for about a block and a half.

Finishing was incredible. I had three goals in mind. The supreme goal was a 3:20 marathon, the middle goal was 3:30-3:40 and the other was "finish the damn thing in one piece". I ended with a 3:45 so I am pleased with the time.

The post race was cool. They had a live band that was really good, there was plenty of food, chocolate milk, gatorade, water, fat boy ice cream sandwiches. They also had a full-blown Medical station set up with hydration stations set up. Again, the volunteers were everywhere.

We walked back from the race to our hotel which was about 4 blocks away. It was good to just walk and let my muscles cool down and stretch out. I showered quickly then went down to the pool and just waded and stretched out a little more. The water was cool, but not freezing. After a celebratory lunch I came back to the hotel and crashed for a few hours. That night, we took the kids to a movie and just relaxed.

Hats off to the organizers. They stay at the finish until the very last person comes through to congratulate them.

The question is "What's next?" I'll figure that out later in the week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

POM Tea Review

The people at POM contacted me to see if I would be willing to try their new POM Tea. Since this falls right in line with one of my blogging mantras (free stuff is good..more free stuff is even better) I immediately said yes.

The 4 teas arrived a week ago and I've sampled 3 of the 4. The fourth one I never sampled because my wife beat me to it and drank it. I was a bit put out by that because it was the one I was looking forward to sampling the most.

I'm not much of a tea drinker. I generally don't like hot tea or ice tea. Mostly because they are too watery or way too strong. These new teas from POM are changing the way I think though. The flavor was really prominant, but they had a touch of sweetness to them so that the flavor wasn't overwhelming.

The four flavors I sent were:
Light Pomegranate Hibiscus Green Tea
Light Pomegranate Wildberry White
Pomegranate Lychee Green
Pomegranate Peach Passion White

My wife drank the Wildberry one and tasted the others and said that the Wildberry was her favorite.

I sampled the other three and my favorite was the Pomegranate Lychee Green. It had a sweet taste to it with a little of the Pomegranate coming through. The Hibiscus has grown on me. Initially I thought the Hibiscus was a little overwhelming, but after coming back to it, I found that it didn't bother me as much.

The one I didn't like out of the three I had was the Peach Passion. To me, this one had a bitter aftertaste that I just couldn't get used to. My daughter (who is 11) on the other hand loves the Peach Passion so I guess it all depends on your personal taste.

The day that the teas arrived I had just gone to the store and they had a big bottle of POM juice marked down so I picked it up. I still prefer the POM juice over the teas, but on days when I don't want a glass of water and a soda is too sweet, these teas would be perfect. One other thing I found out was that I prefer the tea a little warmer than straight from the refrigerator. It seemed that the flavors mixed together better and I didn't have any bitterness like I did when they were really cold.

Thank you once again to the wonderful people at POM. They were even nice enough to include a free coupon so I can go choose another flavor. They have a bunch of different flavors available.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sock Dilemma

The Top of Utah Marathon is this weekend. I've picked up some new shorts (with safety pins here), i've picked out the shoes I will wear and have worn them on enough runs that they have molded to my feet or my feet have molded to them. I'm pretty sure I will go with my long sleeve top since the weather at the start will be around 45 degrees and the finish will only be in the mid 70s. My new dilemma is with the socks.

In the past, I had my day to day running socks and then my super nice (meaning I had to pay more than $5 for one pair) socks that I saved for long runs or races. They were like the white shirt that hangs in my closet and only comes out on really special occasions unlike my other non-white dress shirts which come out on a regular basis—that and the fact that a white shirt really shows when it hasn't been ironed and a color one is easier to get away with not ironing. These were the "special socks". My kids knew that they were only reserved for special times. No one touched the "special socks". If I found that my socks were put in one of the kids drawers there was hell to pay (maybe not hell but I'm sure maybe heck was involved). They were like the lucky rabbits foot. I felt energized and ready for the race when they went on. Now, they've lost their magic.

Last month, the WRIGHTSOCK people sent me six pair of socks to test and guess what? I absolutely love the socks. Even the ones I thought were way too thick I wear now with my roomier shoes. I'm stuck now because I've lost my magic socks. Which pair will I wear now? Will it be the coolmesh ones that are ultra thin? Maybe the Running IIs which have the great arch ribbing so that my socks don't bunch? Maybe the SLX pair with their cool looking gray and red accent colors? I can't pack my gear until this has been resolved.

If I should choose incorrectly, it could blow my whole marathon strategy (I plan on having one by Saturday morning). I might be stuck with a Game Time Decision here. I may end up bringing the three pair that I like best and then choosing the morning of the race or if worse comes to worse, I could always safety pin the other two pair to my shorts so that I could just grab them and change. Although that has it's own drawbacks so that is out of the question. At least I have discovered where my limit is on how far I'll stoop in resolving this dilemma.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

State Fair Time

As a follow up to my poor decision to run down the canyon on Saturday, we went to the State Fair.

I haven't been to a State Fair since I was in High School when a painting I did for a competition won and was sent to the fair. I remember the fair was quite boring, but that was also 20 years ago. I have since matured and now enjoy walking through the various exhibits, seeing the animals (all the time wondering what the difference is between the first place cow and the second place cow), and enjoying the poor nutritional food choices available.

Make no mistake. If you go to the fair and expect to get a high quality meal, you may wish to consider getting some professional assistance. The fair is where all the taboo items on the runner's nutrition list can be found. Luckily, my fringe eating policy allows me to dabble in the dark arts of fair food.

One item that I have longed for since I first heard of its inception is a deep fried twinkie. It combines the two best food groups: the twinkie food group and the deep fried anything food group.

After an hour of wandering around the fair, we came upon the Holy Grail that I had been seeking. The deep fried twinkie booth appeared from the mists and was now in front of me. My mouth immediately started to water while inhaling the luscious odor of cooking oil and batter. Immediately my feet began moving and I shouted to the kids to join me in this feast.

Upon arriving at the stand, I noticed a large sign that had the words "New This Year: Deep Fried Brownie Deluxe" in big bold yellow letters. Next to the letters was the photo was a huge photo of a batter fried square on a stick covered in whip cream and chocolate sauce. How could I resist? Of course I couldn't. The whip cream didn't stay around long, but my first bite into the brownie was beyond words. The fried outside was perfect, the inside brownie was warm and gooey oozing with chocolate fudge. Heaven...

After the trip down into sugar high lane, we stopped in at the fine arts exhibits and low and behold there was a butter cow exhibit. A friend of mine recently went to the Iowa State Fair and bragged about the Butter Cow on exhibit. I saw her photos and I have to say that it was an impressive representation of a cow, but it pales in comparison to the ones on exhibit here. The artists took some artistic liberty and the result is in the photo.

Next year, I'll plan on the deep fried booth again. Maybe I'll go for the deep fried PB&J or the deep fried oreos.

Rewarded for a Stupid Idea

Looking back on this weekend, I definitely was having some mental reasoning issues. It started on Friday when we did our last speed workout until the marathon on Saturday. Basically we sucked at the whole thing, but we still were able to knock out two intervals of a 10 minute run at a 6:30 pace...sounds painful? It is.
The plan for Saturday was a 10-11 mile run. Ideally we wanted something downhill because we are both sick of hills. In order to accomplish this feet, we would have to take two cars. One to leave at the bottom of the hill to take us back to the top where we parked the first car. I don't know what came over me, but Friday afternoon I texted my running partner to see if he was open to running down the canyon like we did several weeks previous. I remember being sore, but not overly after the run. I just assumed that this time would be similar.
On Saturday morning, we met at 5:30 am to drive up the canyon. The idea was that if we got up there early enough, we would miss the majority of the traffic coming up or down the canyon. What we neglected to realize is that Saturday was the first day of the Elk Hunt. To give you an idea of how big a deal that is in this area. When I was in school, we would get two days off in the fall for the deer hunt. They've gotten more politically correct and now they call it "Fall Break". We were passed along the way by plenty of cars and trucks going up and down the canyon.
The idea of it being easier because we had a month more of intense training also turned out to be false. The first 5 miles weren't bad, but by mile 6 I was ready to throw in the towel. The other idea that contributed to our lack of judgement was when we decided to run down the canyon at our ideal marathon pace.
One day of poor judgement + one day of doing what was initially poor judgement = Barely able to move the next day
By Saturday night, my thighs were sore. When I woke up this morning at 4:30 because the cat decided that it was the perfect time to go out, my calves were hurting. By 7 am when I officially woke up, I couldn't move.
Sitting, laying, standing without any movement all feel good. Walking (especially going down stairs) and I am in agony.
The good news is that I have seen the last of that canyon for this season. The marathon course is a 1-2% downhill grade for the first 16 miles. That will feel much different than the 5-6% of the canyon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Week Left...

One week from tomorrow I will be completing the Top Of Utah Marathon. This morning we did a 8 mile run with some speedwork/tempo run involved. You might ask what this entails. Well, you see the plan is to run really fast for 10 minutes (a 6:30 pace which is kick butt fast for me) and then do a slow jog for a 1/4 mile then run another 10 minutes at the same really fast pace followed by a collapse and twitching as people either mock us or call 911. So far, we've only been able to accomplish the two 10s once. We did manage to do two 7s at this pace.
Today i was not feeling in my top form. It is a result of going against the good running angel on my right shoulder which said "get the chicken sandwich." Instead I went with the rebellious running angel on my left shoulder that said "mmm...the chili cheeseburger looks fabulous..." Suffice it to say that my energy level was not stellar this morning.
After the first 10, we were both ready to collapse so we walked for a few minutes and then slowly built back up to a decent run. 2 miles before the end of the run we decided we'd just run at what our ideal race pace will be which is 7:13. It was much easier than 6:30, but I was still beat when I arrived home.
I've been strategizing my race for next week. The bus leaves the park at 5:30 am to go to the start 14 miles up the canyon. The temperature at the beginning of the race will be in the 40s-low 50s, but by the finish we should be in the 70s. I've been thinking about what time I deserve to wake up so that I can get something to eat and then have something else light while on the bus to the race.
Either direction, I am glad that the race is finally here. The hotel we are staying at is only two blocks from the finish line so I can go back to the hotel and collapse if needed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gel Anyone

I stopped by the running store where I got my recent shoes to pick up a new pair of shorts and some gels for the upcoming marathon. I was examining a pair of shorts when a salesperson approached. I explained that I was looking for a pair of shorts with a pocket or two that could hold a gel or two for the race. I guess I triggered something, because what I got felt like something out of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The salesman said that instead of putting gels in a pocket, he pins them to the waistband of his running shorts. I thought this an interesting way of carrying them, but the idea of having them pinned outside of my shorts and flapping around while I run seems a little odd. I told him this and he paused with an odd look. This was one of "I never thought of this idea" coupled with a "obviously an amateur runner" look. He explained that he doesn't pin them to the outside, but instead pins them to the inside. When he needs one he just grabs it an the safety pin allows him to tear it while it is still pinned on. He demonstrates the ripping maneuver.

I was a little taken back by the maneuver and thought maybe he's be offering me some of his invisible Gel. Ferris Bueller moment... I'm a little distracted by this thought and wondering how I could possibly run, reach down the front of my shorts, grab a gel, rip it and take it all without tripping. I doubt I have it in me.

The salesman then informs me that I get to be careful where I pin the gels because the movement and friction can rip the gel while running and then there is a big mess. I think that is an understatement. I can see it now. I'm running along. It's now mile 9 and all of a sudden I'm starting to feel something creeping down my leg. It's a slight tickling sensation almost like a bug of grass or something lightly tickling the skin. I reach down to brush it off only to feel something wet. First thought–I'm bleeding. I look at it and it's not blood. I examine the contents further only to discover that it is one of my gel packets that has leaked out and down my leg. Miles 9-26 would be ones filled with horror, embarrassment and resignation over the whole incident. All I'd be thinking about is how soon can I hit the shower and what does Gel mixed with sweat smell like and what color is dripping down my leg. I doubt I'd be buying the marathon photo from the course.

I took his advice with the nod of understanding and chose the shorts with the pockets.
No leaking gels for never know what advice is waiting at the local running store.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Book Friday

I have discovered a whole new selection of books that I never knew existed. I'm an avid reader. I'm on the library's preferred donor list. I keep asking them if I can just put down like $50 every January to cover late fees. Whatever is left over at the end of the year, they can keep. I have been turned down every year. Our local library isn't as large as some of the other neighboring cities, but it has definitely improved in the time I have lived here (coincidence that after I move in they decide to expand the library. I could probably have a wing dedicated by now)?

So the first book on the list is:
Is Your Dog Gay? by Charles Kreloff, Patty Brown, Victoria Roberts
This is not really a question that has kept me up at night. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned, but I just figured the dog was straight and that was it. Now that i've read this title I'm beginning to think that maybe we have bit to do with it. I remember having more than one pet that I attached a boy name to only to find out it was a girl and then switch the name. I probably contributed to my pet's sexual preference. This could be a really good book. When I eventually get another dog, I will for sure pick this one up.

Next up:

Do-It-Yourself Coffins: For Pets and People by Dale Power and Jeffrey Snyder
Another book of high value for me. I am a person and we currently have a cat. We have had various goldfish and a gerbil who have all been buried somewhere along our property. This book may have been handy to have. I think I would refrain from building my own coffin although maybe it could save me a few bucks and my surviving family could use the extra cash for a really big party. It didn't get very good reviews so I think I will pass.


Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague
I wonder if Julian spent some time as a homeless person? Here's an excerpt from the book listing:
Working in the naturalist's tradition, the photographs depict the diversity of the phenomenon and carry a surprising emotional charge; readers inevitably begin to see these carts as human, at times poignant in their abandoned, decrepit state, hilariously incapacitated, or ingeniously co-opted. The result is at once rigorous and absurd, enabling the layperson to identify and classify their own cart spottings based on the situation in which they were found.

I'm in the mountain west and out here we don't go out of our way to look for abandoned shopping carts.
This is definitely something that has me intrigued. Is it a growing problem in the East? I haven't seen any 20/20 specials. I haven't heard of any Senate bills designed to use my dollars to track down wild shopping carts. Does anyone have experience with this issue? Anyone been out running and come across a shopping cart? If so, were you able to identify it?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

WRIGHTSOCK Challenge Wrap Up

I finished the WRIGHTSOCK Challenge last night with a end of challenge conference call. Thank you to Runner's Lounge for giving me the opportunity to participate and a BIG THANK YOU to Tom and Pam at WRIGHTSOCK for providing the socks. I learned a lot about my sock preferences and how important they are for me as a runner.

I felt that I gave these socks a great test. They ran through short runs, long runs, hill training, speed training, wind, rain, mud, weeds, more weeds and everything in between. A few of the runs I finished expecting to have a blister or two and then to my pleasant surprise finding out that I was blister free.

There wasn't a single pair of socks that I really disliked out of the 6 pair I was sent. A few I will save for cooler weather or when I wear a different shoe, but in all they are great.

I'm not at a dilemma in my running. My running socks originally mingled with my day to day socks, but now my running socks are beginning to take over the sock drawer. Likewise the drawer that holds my running clothes is also at max capacity. I've got to either sort through the drawers and thin out my selections or I get to free up space elsewhere for my running clothes.

In other news, I decided to start my slow taper toward the marathon in 2 weeks. Originally I planned only a two week taper, but my desire to do anymore speedwork or hill work has completely gone out the window since last Saturday's run. I plan on just taking it easy, doing some shorter maintenance runs and then being in top shape for the marathon.

Tonight is the start of college football and I'll be going back and forth between watching the Utah game and participating in the live draft for the Half-Fast fantasy football league.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No Chocolate Milk?!

In April as part of the swag that given out at the Salt Lake City Marathon were coupons for a free pint of chocolate milk. I love chocolate milk. The coupon has been hanging up on a bulletin board in my kitchen all this time. Last night, the wife suggested we go for a walk and redeem the coupon. She walks on a regular basis but goes to either the gym or her work. It was a cool night and the kids were in bed so I changed into some shoes and shorts and headed out with her.

The grocery store is exactly 2.5 miles from our home (we ran to it and back that morning) so I was eagerly anticipating the chocolate milk. We arrived at the store, walked right to the back and picked up a pint of chocolate milk. It was about 10:30 pm and there was no waiting at any of the lines. We walked up to the cashier, handed him the coupon and the milk and anticipated that we'd be out the door. I had that smug i've got a coupon for a free item on my face. The coupon knocked 30 cents off the price, but didn't give it to me for free. The cashier looked at it and rang it luck. He got his manager to come over. She looked at it, rang it up and same thing...balance due of 90 cents. After a minute we compared the coupon and discovered that I had grabbed the wrong brand.

So, having my running shoes on, I jogged back to the dairy and looked for a pint of Cream o Weber Chocolate Milk. To my horror, the store doesn't carry any of their products. I walked back to the cashier deflated knowing that my reward for walking to the store was crushed. Even the store manager felt bad...

You might be thinking...why not just go to another store? Well, you see the coupon expiration date was Aug. 31, 2009...

As I was posting this, I thought I'd look for a photo on the company website. Turns out, the convenience store 1/4 mile from my house carried Cream o Weber.