Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm Hungry...Where's a Cow When I Need One

"I'm so hungry I could eat a cow. If one wandered into my yard, it would be like a scene from a vampire movie." Those were my words Friday night. It didn't matter that I had had 2 recovery drinks, plenty of water, 2 big bowls of homemade chicken noodle soup, some birthday cake and ice cream and a steak chimichanga—I was withering on the vine. My body was craving more protein. This happens to me every time I have a long run over 10 miles and then it just gets incrementally more demanding the longer the distance. Friday's run put my body into full fledged protein binge mode.

I planned my route on Thursday so I could get my run in on Friday. I had a meeting at 8:30 am on Saturday morning and there was no way I was getting up to go run at 4:00 am although after Friday's run at 5:00 am I am considering the possibility of more runs at that time. My route called for 22.4 miles. I designed a course that would take me from my home to my parents home. They don't live 22 miles away, but with some creative mapping, I was able to get a route that would give me that distance.

Thursday night I put everything out where I could get to it. I stuck my hydration bottles in the freezer–one with Powerade and one with water. The Garmin and iPod were on the counter next to the hydration pack which contained a couple gels, a Larabar and some Shotblocks. I put a copy of the map of the route on the counter for my wife and gave her an estimated time to pick me up or recover my body in case I didn't show up in a reasonable amount of time.

The alarm went off at 4:20 am and surprisingly I was wide awake and ready to go. I fixed 1/2 PBJ sandwich and a super concentrated Instant Breakfast drink that has a good carb/protein mix. I was out the door by 5:00 am and on the road. My route took me away from the cities for the first 12 miles. I was hoping to average a 9 minute pace. I encountered a few road construction areas that caused me to detour, but for the most part I stayed on pace. At mile 13 I hit the hill...why I chose this hill is a mystery. I think I thought that after I got the hill conquered it would be a downhill stretch the rest of the way. The hill was quite a bit steeper than I thought it would be and by the time I was at the top, my energy was spent.

Miles 16-20 were a blur. The sun was up by then and starting to warm up. I was in the city and the traffic was distracting. At mile 22 I realized I was nowhere near the end of my run. The detours had added mileage to my plan. I stumbled into my parent's yard at 23.5 miles. My long run was over–I don't have another one before the marathon.

I threw on the recovery socks when I arrived home and spent the rest of the day doing work, assisting with my daughter's birthday party and EATING. Any cow that might wander into our yard today has about a 50/50 chance of surviving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friday's Run

It's been a good running week for me. I've been able to get in 3 runs with one of them being an interval session. My thigh has been sore, but nothing serious. I've snacked on a few of my shot blocks, but I'm going to save for them for the Epic Relay in a couple weeks. I'm sure I'll have plenty of leftovers for the art sculpture that I'll sell on the corner of WalMart. I'm hoping to get some inspiration on the relay. Maybe a bust of my runner physique.

Tomorrow I am doing my long run for the week. Saturday is packed from 8:00 am until late at night, so getting a long run in is next to impossible. So Friday will be a 22 mile run. It is going to be my last long run before the marathon in September. I'm booked in August on the weekends so I may be able to get a 15 mile run in before I taper, but nothing long. This is it.

I created a route that takes me from my home to my parent's home where hopefully my wife will be there waiting to give me a ride home. Or I'll be hocking shot blocks to pay for bus fare home.

Send some vibes my way if you read this...even if they are post run vibes they can count toward recovery.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pimpin' the Shot Blocks

"Hey Runner...want some cran-razz Shot Blocks?"
"How 'bout some Tropical Punch or maybe even some Black Cherry?"
"I got what you need...just trust Blaine here, he'll hook you up.."

Yep, that was me at the Deseret News Marathon. I teamed up with Get Fit––a local running store–– to man the aid station at mile 16. My job was to stand about a hundred yards before the water table and hold out Shot Blocks to the runners. I was hustl'n the Shot Blocks. There were a total of 4 of us out there sweating it out, offering our wares to the runners as they passed by. The only thing missing was my white suit and cadillac.

The elite runner men passed by without a glance. The elite women came by and I knew the girl in third place. She's run in the Renaissance Academy race that I put on every year. She's super nice and way fast. She ended up taking second place. Of course she was so focused on the course that she didn't recognize me...maybe it was because of my rico suave style of passing out the Shot Blocks. We were working to get a sign put together so one of the little kids working with us could dance with the sign attracting the runners to us.

The experience of volunteering for a big race like that was fun. Getting up at 4:20 am so I could be out the door by 5:00 am was not fun. I did walk about with some fabulous parting gifts. I got a new Get Fit tech shirt and the grand prize...a box of Shot Blocks. I'm in Shot Block heaven right now. When we were cleaning up, we asked our crew chief what to do with the Shot Blocks (we had already decided to split it between the three of us, but felt it was worth mentioning.)

I'm thinking of ways to make these work in my favor. Some ideas I've considered.

• Going to the various WalMart's and returning them for in-store credit...combined with my tv fund, maybe it would put me over the top.
• Head to some popular running areas on Saturday morning armed with Shot Blocks and water and sell them to runners in the area...again possibly enough for my big screen tv.
• Horde them and see what the half-life shelf life is of a Shot Block. Will they go bad or just get better with time?
• Give them out as Halloween candy come October. I'm sure parents would appreciate the 50 mg of caffeine that is in the Tropical Punch flavor.
• Create a modern work of art and sell it on eBay...maybe making enough for my big screen tv.
• Combine them with old socks, belly button lint, a half used stick of body glide, old size 9 running shoes some other fabulous prizes and hold a giveaway.
• Put a sign up saying "Shot Blocks for Sell" and park myself at the local Wal-Mart next to the lady selling the Beagle puppies.

I'll have to spend some time pondering on what to do with my new found treasure trove.

Anyone have any ideas?

Until then, if you see someone standing on the street corner in a white suit with a cadillac (there is a guy down my street who owns one...maybe he'll let me borrow it) with Shot Blocks, you'll have to stop by. Blaine 'll make you a deal...

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Boat Has Come In

In the mail today, I received a free entry to the Cedar Canyon Half Marathon.  It looks like all my hard work, multiple race wins, Runner's World cover material efforts to get a free race has come has come in. Could it be that i've hit the big time? Is it possible that my half-marathon status has moved into the elite territory? Will I finally get my name printed on my race bib without me having to use a marker? Am I delusional?

That last question is correct. Back In April, as I was picking up my gear bag for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon there was a booth for the Cedar Canyon Half-Marathon and I know that I filled out my name and information on a card and turned it in. Maybe this will turn the tide on my contests. Adam is giving away a $40 gift card and Tricia is giving away a Go Lite hydration system. This could be all the Karma I need to get back on the "win" board.

Now, the downside to this is that the race is on September 18 and is a 4 hour drive. This normally wouldn't be a big deal, but I also have a marathon on September 4 and then a relay on September 11. My racing budget will be pretty lean at that point and my legs may not be functioning.

So for this year, I will have to pass on the FREE offer. Wonder what that will do to my Karma.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Six Feet Under

It's a sad day in running for me. A faithful companion has passed away. We started this running journey together over two years ago. It has been there for me in my highs of PR and my lows of 20 mile crappy runs. My earbuds have died.

I knew something was wrong last Saturday when I was finishing my 20 mile run. I noticed at mile 10 that I was having to turn the volume up really high to get enough sound. By mile 15 only one earbud was working. I actually thought maybe this was a good thing. After all, if I only have one working then I can still hear traffic or people commenting on my superior form saying hi when I pass them on the road. I could become a more polite runner because I could respond in kind.

This morning though, it all changed. I got about 1/4 mile from my house when the sound was cutting in and out. I thought maybe my McGyver fix from long ago was finally catching up with me and I had erased all my songs. I stopped to look it over and the display readout was fine, I could move through songs ok and it looked like they were playing fine. I had this sinking feeling that maybe my faithful blue earbuds had moved on to that great big iPod in the sky.

I finished my easy 4 miles, but it wasn't top form because I was preoccupied with the thoughts of whether the earbuds were truly dead or maybe they also needed a McGyver treatment to them and also thinking about what I could have done different to prevent this. I came home and plugged the iPod into the stereo and it played fine. I was stunned into silence for a moment then I told my daughter that my earbuds had stopped working. Her response? "Great Dad, now you can go get new ones for both of us because mine stopped working two days after I got them."

This younger generation has no respect.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Dinosaur, A 20 Mile Run, A Life Saved and A Toenail Lost

Remember how excited I was for my 20 mile run?

Friday afternoon
My wife and I signed up to give blood. In our area, there are a couple organizations that are authorized to draw blood. Generally, the Red Cross is the one that has come, but this time a different company came. I'm a proponent of giving blood and I'm a big fan of the snack table that they have for after giving blood. Most of the time, you can expect to see some snack crackers, a variety of juice and water and maybe some Oreos. This company, however, knew how to win my heart. There were chips, cookies, Oreos, multiple juice choices, Swedish fish, etc.. It was snack heaven.

As I wrapped up the blood draw, I'm given a pamphlet and the lady said to refrain from heavy lifting or exercise for the rest of the day. I asked her about Saturday and that I run. She laughed and said "As long as you're not planning on a marathon or a really long run, you should be ok." I laughed with her thinking "I'm ok, I'm just doing 20 miles." Looking back, maybe I should have seen that as a train wreck waiting to happen.

Saturday morning-5:15 am
If I'm going to get 20 miles in it's going take me about 3 hours at a easy pace which means I've got to beat the heat. The temp was scheduled to break 100 for the first time this summer. My run incorporates the trail that has haunted me since the last 20 mile run in March where we ran through a blizzard. I started closer to home so I wouldn't have to juggle side streets to get in the full 20. At 5:45 am, it is already in the low 70s outside. At 6:00 am I'm on my way.

By 6:30 am, I'm noticing that although I'm at my easy pace, it's a little more difficult than normal. I'm wondering if maybe it's the weather or possibly the blood giving from the previous day. I keep plugging along. At mile 4 I start on the trail. The first 4 miles is relatively flat and the next 6 are slightly downhill. At mile 9, I see three women running my direction. We know each other from previous races. They are all wearing race numbers, but they are casually running (they are usually the top finishers) so I'm wondering what race is happening. When I get to mile 10 at the turnaround there is a park filled with booths and police and lots of signs. It's a city festival with a 5K race. I get a quick drink, use the restroom and turn around. I've kept a pretty steady 8:30/mile pace.

The next mile and I start feeling the heat of the day. The sun comes out in full force by mile 13. At mile 14, I encountered the dinosaur. I don't know why I missed it before, but on the other side of the fence is a giant sculpted T-Rex. If it were real, I would have been a snack. I had nothing left in me to push may pace. By mile 15, I'm wondering if I'll even make it to mile 20. My stamina is not what it was two weeks ago when I did 17 miles with a 3 mile hike after...I'm beginning to realize that maybe giving a pint of blood the day before a run wasn't the best idea. My feet are starting to really hurt.

Between mile 15 and 16, I had to actually stop take some deep breaths and walk a little as I'm starting to feel a little dizzy (I'm plenty hydrated and my electrolytes were fine, it's just hot and the energy tank warning light has gone on). The last 4 miles was pure agony. I took off my shirt from miles 15-18 then put it back on for the last 2 as I ran through a residential neighborhood (I have an excellent runners tan and self-conscious about running without a shirt) and didn't want to scare any little kids that might be out. My pace has slowed to a jog with bursts of running. I made it back to car and my Garmin registered 19.8 miles...WHAT?!! I am not going to round up or go home with a 19.8 mile I wandered around the parking lot so I could get the full 20. I would normally just pass my car then turn around and run back. I figure my time sucked so there was no point in pretending...end time was 3:33 minutes..

I made it home, laid in the sprinklers for a few minutes before going inside for a recovery/protein drink and a cold bath. I gave the recovery socks a good test and I'm a Huge fan. I wore them the rest of the day. That evening, I took off the socks and evaluated my feet. As expected, I had a blister on the same toe I always get, a few other rubbed areas and a toenail that has seen better days. You'll see by the photo which is which. I have yet to find a solution to the blister on that toe. I've done Body Glide, changed socks, changed shoes, worn a band aid...nothing works.

I'll give this weekend's long run a solid C. I got the run in which is important, but it wasn't pretty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Here a Hill, There a Hill

Hill training in my neighborhood is not a problem. In fact, I struggle at times to find a run that doesn't involve hills. I live at the top of the hill which is actually the top of the top of many other hills. Many thousands of years ago, my hill was under water. A giant lake covered the land. Giant sea creatures swam in what has become my backyard and finding seashells in the area is a pretty common occurrence.
The other interesting fact is that because this was once a lake our whole area is built on sand.

Have you heard the "wise man, foolish man" story? If you haven't, in a nutshell the wise man built his house on the rock. The wise man had great construction and a man cave.  The foolish man built his on the sand, had a hallway that bows and wonders what the construction people were smoking when they built his home. Winds and rain came along and the foolish man lost his home, hadn't kept his home owner's insurance up to date to include flood insurance and consequently had to keep paying his mortgage on a home he no longer had....something like get the picture. The wise man on the other hand, had calculated the annual rainfall in his area, built his home with a solid rock foundation and had a terraced yet gently sloping landscape that led the water away from his house. His weather monitoring device in his back yard kept him apprised of the conditions. Because he was prepared, he sat back enjoying the Cubs game on his 60" LCD HDTV with a frosty drink by his side and his wife making some fabulous Guacamole dip right before the 7th inning stretch.

Our house is on a hill, we don't have flood insurance because it would take a flood on the scale of Noah  to take out our home, but we do have earthquake insurance—thanks to the fault line that goes right across the mountains that we can see from our home.

With the Epic Relay approaching in a month, I felt it was time to actually run a hill workout rather than just have hills in my workout. When I told my kids the plan this morning, my oldest grinned–because he knows our neighborhood. Our street is nickname "suicide hill" because the kids like to ride bikes, skateboards, etc.. down it. With my plan in place I headed out. It's a completely different run when I am purposely looking for a variety of hills to run. I put in 4 miles of ups and downs that included some longer 1/2 mile climbs and some short 1/8-1/4 mile steep climbs. The short steep hills are all in my neighborhood so I ran them a few times after I had done the longer hills. I returned home a very sweaty and tired mess.

I'm glad I got out early because we'll be close to 100 degrees today. The mornings warm up fast. Saturday I am planning on my first 20 mile run since that blizzard run back in March. I am slightly tempted to run the same route just to show it who is boss. I get to map it out today. The good news is that there is no rain in the forecast.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reward for a Job Well Done

I've been evaluating my training/reward ratio for my training and I think I've gone awry right on track. I've always been a firm believer in the concept of rewarding myself for a job well done. With my work, I set loosely followed goals to accomplish before I do my blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. For my running, I'm following the same pattern. 

I have a chart with my training schedule for my September marathon. The first few weeks, I was very diligent and excited about checking off my runs. I was careful in having a good recovery drink with the proper carb to protein ratio, I made sure I was drinking a sufficient amount of water, etc. 

If I accomplished a good long run, I rewarded myself with a trip to local burger place—a great source of protein, carbs and sodium. 

I've done some tweaking to my schedule and thought I'd share it with everyone.

1-5 miles = chocolate cookie, bow of ice cream, brownie, etc. If all else fails, then a handful of chocolate chips will work. Of course this is after I have properly rehydrated, had a recovery drink.

6-10 miles = Stepping up from the previous list. Ice Cream is stepped up to Ben and Jerry's, Brownie is now a brownie sundae,  recovery food is now leftover pizza, generous helping of Dr. Pepper, etc..

Are you with me now?

11-15 miles = Wendy's or McDonald's. If the run is closer to 15 then it is perfectly acceptable to tack on a couple apple pies or maybe a hot fudge sundae.

16+ miles = favorite burger place (the wait is long, but the food is good), maybe taking the family, possible trip for pizza

I could reward myself with a bowl of granola or a nice juicy banana...yeah that sounds as exciting as sticking to a training schedule. After a while, it just gets old. Now, take that same granola, add a scoop of Cherry Garcia and now you've got something going. Take that banana and stick it in a pot of melted chocolate and you've got a reward worthy of the 5 mile run you just put in. If you're coming toward me with oatmeal, it better be wrapped up in cookie form or you can take it back.

It's all about rewarding yourself for a job well done.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Freedom Festival and 10K Freedom Run

In my family, I am the only runner. My wife has said she would "rather be drawn and quartered" than become a runner. Months ago her family decided it would be a "bonding" experience to participate in the 5K. My sister-in-law who works for one of the festival sponsors got us a pretty sweet discount. My wife put her feelings for running aside and signed up. I signed up for the 10K.

Packet Pick-up
Packet pick-up was on the 3rd of July. I was curious how the race shirt would fit after the diagram they supplied. The shirt wasn't too bad. A little short in the length, but overall surprisingly good. The additional race materials were mediocre, but I wasn't expecting much. They had a few vendors available, but the most interesting vendor was the Recovery Socks people. 
I've been interested in getting a pair for some time and at the urging of my wife I picked up a pair.

Race Day
Another 5:30 am morning. Did I mention how much I dislike mornings? This was a family event so everyone got to be up. I grabbed a gel just in case I needed a boost during the race. The family was all walking the 5K while I did the 10K. The starting points were at two different locations. My starting location was at the finish for both the 5K and 10K. I dropped the kids off at the finish and gave them instructions on where to meet at the end of the race. With over 4000 people running the race combined with spectators, I was a little nervous dropping them all off, but they did great.

The 10K started right on time. They had dividers for the various paces which made it much easier once the race began. I settled in at the back of the 7 min section. My plan was to maintain a 7:30-7:40 pace in the hopes of getting a new PR. While there were no sharp climbs like my last race, but there were still a few long uphill climbs. I felt stronger throughout the run. At mile 3, I turned onto the street where the Grand Parade following the race would be held. I came upon the rest of the family at their 1 1/2 mile mark and cheered them on. Coming into the last mile of the race, I still had the possibility of a PR...just a little more. The race turned onto the remaining incline and my energy level hit zero. Pulling into the finish, I saw my time of 46:12. Alas, no PR this day, but still a good race. My energy and stamina levels felt good. The rest of the family finished about 20 minutes later.

Following the morning festivities, we headed up to a family dinner and pool party—A nice finish to the weekend.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jam Packed Fourth Startin with a 17 mile run

The past fourth of July weekend was jam packed of adventure, intrigue, hair-raising and spine tingling moments. There was definitely some romance and mystery involved mixed in with a lot of sweat, heavy breathing and definitely some groaning. It would be a shame to cram all this information into one post, so this may be a two or three parter..there is a lot that occurred.

Holidays in our home have different events that take place. For instance, Memorial Day means weeding the gardens, mowing the lawn, making an annual trip to the cemetery where we will wander around for 20 minutes saying things like "I remember it was right by a tree" before we go and get a map. 
Christmas means we get up about 7:00 am with the kids (no way am I getting up at 3:00 am), lounging around the house until I get in the shower about noon and then maybe a family dinner or sledding.
Father's Day means I get to sit in my favorite chair and read a book while the kids and my wife cook dinner. 
Fourth of July: This is probably the busiest holidays in the year. I feel like we have got to get our money's worth out of this holiday. Just like shopping for the best deal on fireworks, it's a matter of importance to squeeze every ounce of juice out of this holiday. This fourth of July was no exception.

July 2-5:30 am
"I really really don't want to go running this morning...." I groan as I turn off the alarm and look down at my running clothes. I know I set them out last night as my reminder that I am running 17 miles this morning. I pull on the shorts, throw on the shirt, rummage through my myriad of running socks to find the "right pair" for the day. I get myself a peanut butter sandwich and a thinner mix of protein drink. By 6:00 am, I'm leaving the house. I've left a map of my run so in case I'm not back, my wife can direct the police on where to pick up my body. I really am looking forward to the run, I just don't like running in the morning..come to think of it, I don't like getting out of bed in the morning either.

The cool air of the morning was fantastic. By the second mile, I'm glad I got up and out the door. I hit a good groove and my pace stayed in the 8 min/mile to 8:30 min/mile. In order to avoid the road construction going on, my route looked like and EKG, but I enjoy going through new areas. There are a few hills during the course of my run with a long uphill climb at the end (that's what I get for living at the top of a hill).

I arrived home in time to refill my bottles, eat something quick and down another protein drink then we were off to meet my sister-in-law and her family for a hike up to Timponogos Cave (a popular attraction in the area). The hike is 1 1/2 miles each direction with a climb of 1,250 feet. At the end of the hike, my legs were definitely feeling like Jell-O.