Thursday, April 22, 2010

Choosing a Race Shirt–Let's Keep this Simple People

When I go shopping for a new shirt, I have two categories of shirts that I look at:

1. Button Down dress shirt. This style of shirt can accomodate a tie, look good with a suit and one that I would send to the drycleaner. It requires me to know my neck and arm length dimensions and may even require me to try it on in a dressing room. If I go looking for this type of shirt, I know that it will require some thought so I work to avoid it as much as possible.

2. All other shirts. These can be button down, t-shirt, sweater, zip up, etc. Generally these shirts don't require a visit to the dressing room and at most will require me to hold it up and decide whether or not it fits. If I am in a "shopping mood," I may even hold it up in front of a mirror and look at it. In no way am I checking arm length, chest width, body height or anything that could possibly cross the line into the  category of dress shirt. The dimensions are simple, I wear either a M or a L depending on the style of the shirt.

Earlier in the week, my wife mentioned that her sister works for a company that is a major sponsor of a  Fourth of July celebration in the area. Each year, this celebration holds a 5K and 10K run and we can get a discount on the registration if we have her sign us up for the races. If I can get an additional discount on a race then that definitely gets my attention. It was no surprise when she asked me yesterday what my shirt size was. What did surprise me was when last night she came to me with the measuring tape and asked me to take her measurements for the race shirt. I didn't know how to respond to this request.

I did a double take and asked why she would require me to take her measurements for a race shirt. After all, if the race shirt is cotton we generally give the shirt to the kids that they can wear for pajamas or we use it when painting, etc. The tech tees will go in the running drawer if they are nice or to one of the kids if it's not. Why would I need to take measurements for a race shirt?

She proceeded to show me the following chart that the race has put together in determining shirt size. Since when did getting a race shirt require a degree in geometry? In addition, what are all the other dimensions used for? All of a sudden, a bead of sweat started forming on my forehead. Memories of Jr. High Geometry come to mind and how I could never figure out the hypotenuse of the triangle. I still struggle when my kids ask me if a triangle is "acute" or "obtuse". I like to tell them that we choose not to put labels on things so that they maintain their self-esteem.

After staring at the chart a few minutes and taking a few measurements, I came to the conclusion that I am a Small/Medium/Large and that none of my measurements really fell in their dimensions. I delved into my past experience of all my college classes Geometry when that occurred and told my wife to choose "C" and walked out of the room. Someone has crossed a line with this chart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Salt Lake City Half Marathon Report

I'm almost able to go down the stairs without wincing, I'm walking a little faster than the average snail and I can say that I completed the 2010 Salt Lake City Half Marathon.

I was carpooling with my sister and some of her friends to the starting. I shocked the family the night before when 9:00 pm came and I told them all I was heading for bed. I read for a little while and forced myself to sleep. Although it was not a deep sleep, I did feel somewhat rested when the alarm clock went off at 3:15 am. I got showered, ate a breakfast that consisted of a couple fried eggs and some sliced turkey rolled into a tortilla. Normally, I wouldn't be eating this heavy, but I figured I had almost 4 hours until the start of the race. I'd be getting a little hungry before the race began if I ate really light.

First item of business, port a potties. I found a set that were in a more secluded location so the lines are so long. I watched as the time ticked closer and closer to the 7:00 am start time. There were some fast ladies in front of me so I was able to get in, get done and up to the start before the gun went off. I merged in from the side rather than working my way from the back of the pack which allowed me to avoid many of the really slow starters. It only took 2 minutes for me to get to the starting line after the gun went off.

I wore the new shorts I picked up the day before at the Expo. The problem I did run into was that the fabric was a little too slick for my magnetic ipod to stay in place. I shoved it into a side pocket just before the start. The first 1/4 mile was slow for me and probably would have looked rather comical to the spectators. The added weight to my shorts put the weight off balance and my shorts were inching down with each step. I knew I had to adjust the drawstring, but I refused to stop. I was running and redoing the drawstring at the same time. My first mile on a slight downhill was 8:13. My breakdown went like this.

1: 8:13
2: 7:36
3: 7:19
4: 7:23
5: 7:44

At miles 2-5 I am feeling really good. My energy is high and I'm just in a good groove. I glance at my time and start to envision my finishing under 1:40. That's an exciting thought.

I brought two gels, but I didn't want to break into one too soon. This train of thought got me into trouble later as I waited too long to take my first gel.  Between mile 4 and 5 is when the marathon and half split. The half loops back on itself on the opposite side of the road and runs directly into the sun for a 1/2 mile.
The first few miles there are some older homes and shops, but pretty soon it is just road and more road.
The course starts some rolling hills at this point. Looking back, I should have had my first gel right before the aid station at mile 5.5, but I waited.

6: 7:45
7: 7:37
8: 7:50
9: 7:51
10: 8:44

I took my gel between 9 and 10. I slowed down enough to take it and ended up walking a little way because it spilled all over my hand. So I running and licking my hand and my time tanked. I really didn't get the momentum back after this point and there were some bigger hills coming up.

11: 8:04
12: 9:15
13: 8:02
.1: 6:43

At the end of mile 11 the course climbs 300 feet in less than a 1/4 mile. I know that this point the 1:40 time is out of reach, but maybe I can still pull off a PR. I'm working to keep pace with the others around me. I know that the course heads downhill that last mile and I'm wondering if I have enough energy to get finished. I usually have a burst of energy coming into the finish, but it just wasn't there. I rolled into the finish line at 1:43:50 which is 17 seconds slower than my PR. I got through the food line and wandered around waiting to cool down a little. In retrospect, I should have headed right for the bag pickup because by the time I got around to it, I waited an hour and missed seeing my sisters kids run the kids fun run.

My friend Supercords who ran the full made it at just the perfect moment. He looked like he had been run over by a truck. I saw the line behind me and I was 5 minutes from the front so I waved him over and had him get his bag too. Salt Lake would make this process ten times smoother if they would triple the size of the bag area and then let 10-15 runners go into the area at a time (which they finally did allow 5-6) and get their own bag and have the volunteers there to assist.

Lessons learned: Stop being stingy on the gels. Make sure the pants are cinched up tight to start. Get in the bag pickup line early. Run more hills.

Ending stats:
64/274 in my age group
449/4621 overall

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Expo 1 Race for Cause 0

The Expo for the Salt Lake Marathon opened today. Supercords and I drove up and were some of the first ones to arrive. They had a pretty orderly set up. First stop was to locate my bib number then head to the appropriate area that was in my bib number range. I headed to the half marathon area and Supercords to the full marathon. I was all excited when I saw the lines and the signs designating the various number ranges because my section had only 1 person in the line and all the others around it were packed-sucks for them. I got to the front and realized why there was only one person. They had shifted the numbering and now my area is at the back of the long line 2 rows down-sucks for me. I got in line and impatiently waited.

The race organizers are doing a new chip system. It is a little rectangular device that sticks to the back of my bib. I don't have to return it at the end of the race–bonus! I anxiously awaited getting my bib so I could show the world my race for the cause moment–In honor of everyone who have been harmed by six-fingered men. I looked at my bib and to my disbelief there is only a number. ONLY A NUMBER?! No Inigo Montoya to be found. Why have the option of a name on the registration form if I can't get it on my bib? I'm devastated, deflated and down right annoyed. Saddened, I picked up my bag and left the area.

I looked down the row of booths to see my friend wave me over. He had an excited look on his face like a kid at Christmas and he proceeded to tell me that the Nordic Track booth had clearance stuff out for cheap. Not wanting to pass up a good buy, I took a look to see if it was truly a sale or just things for sale. The Christmas morning feeling flooded through my entire body when I saw the items on clearance and the price– 2 for $15 or 1 for $10. Nordic Track sponsors enough races that they had left over swag–score for me! I picked up two new shorts and two long sleeve tops made from the material that warms as you wear it and supposedly cools also. Supercords picked up a great running jacket and various other items.

The time on our parking meter was expiring so we hurried through the remainder of the expo. We avoided the Samsclub lady pitching memberships, but scored on the free granola bars. I almost won a chopping board from Minute Rice but ended up with two refrigerator magnets instead. We both scored free t-shirts from a race sponsor promoting their half marathon and entered for various giveaways. I also scored a coupon for some free chocolate milk. This time I won't walk 5 miles only to discover that the store doesn't carry the brand.

In the end, I am pissed disappointed that my bib doesn't have Inigo Montoya written on it, but I am thrilled with the new swag. The shirt we got for the race was good. It's a light gray this year as opposed to the red from last year. The shorts are a definite go for the race, but the tops may have to wait a while as the weather is going to be warm enough for a short sleeve. In the end, Expo 1, Cause 0. Next step, writing on my bib.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Government Saving Program

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas Road Construction Season. I can feel it in the air. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the orange barrels are stacking along the side of the road. I contemplated the implications of this upcoming season in my run today.

I anticipate the benefits that will come from this season's construction. The Interstate will be one year closer to a smoother ride thus allowing me to pass all the idiots drivers on my the road. More importantly I have come up with a plan to speed things along.

The Problem: Economic downturn is the new buzz word in business this year. This catch phrase has increased or delayed the road projects in my area. With projects being delayed, my favorite running trails are rudely interrupted by a torn up road. The new pedestrian bridge that will link my new favorite running route is delayed even farther out. My ability to get the government to adopt my new health care reform package is put on hold until further notice. I have to take action.

The Solution: My new plan breaks through the excuses and creates a revenue generating process that will have friends and family talking about how crazy I am. I call it the "Adopt a Barrel" program. The concept is extremely simple, but the implications are endless. You now have the opportunity to own your little part of the road construction process by adoption a construction barrel.

Here's how it works: You log onto the adopt a barrel website. At the beginning of this new initiative, you will only be able to choose one option—adopt a barrel. You aren't really adopting the barrel to come home and live with you, but rather you get the honor of having your name printed on the barrel and then having it placed along the road for all to see.

Simply fill out the online form, write the name that you would like printed on the barrel, the number of barrels you would like to adopt and enter your credit card number. Once your barrel is put into service, you'll get an e-mail informing you where your barrel will be placed.

The proceeds from your purchase go into getting the road finished. After the project is complete you then will have the opportunity to purchase your barrel and have it shipped right to your door or for only pennies a day, you can buy a piece of asphalt. I can see this program expanding into offshoot programs; Adopt a Detour Sign, Adopt a School Crosswalk Sign, Adopt a Hazardous Waste Clean Up Site, the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Running For a Cause

I signed up for two upcoming half marathons yesterday. On the Salt Lake City Half Marathon sign up, I was going through the online form and it had a spot for a name on bib if different than my first name. I've never been offered this choice before. I see it in the elite runners all the time and felt a little honored. This quickly left me when I started debating whether I really wanted my name on the bib or if I could run as an alter ego. I got to thinking of all the possibilities with this option. I could easily succumb into mediocrity and just have my name on the bib or I could do something different.

What did I do? I decided to run for a cause. I could have joined the cancer team or the run for leukemia or something prestigious like that. Again though, why would I want to stay mainstream? I decided to honor "Inigo Montoya." He definitely had a worthy cause and he certainly did a lot of running. I'm running the Salt Lake Half Marathon in honor of all those people have been killed by six-finger men. I am sure there are plenty of six-finger men out there that are upstanding citizens, but for those few who have suffered by their hand (hah!), I'm here for you. If they have an announcer like they did last year, maybe I'll cross the finish line having him say something like "...Inigo Montoya, way to finish..." then I'll fist pump the air do something ceremonial in honor of this cause.