Saturday, February 26, 2011

16 Miler Weekend

The forecast for the weekend called for a winter storm which meant my Saturday long run became questionable. There was the possibility of running indoors, but the thought of 16 miles on a treadmill was daunting.

Thursday night: Winds pick up, gusts of over 30 mph
Friday morning: 6 inches of snow on my driveway. Definitely not looking good for Saturday.
Friday 5:00 pm: Snow has stopped, temps got up to 43 degrees, snow has melted. Forecast calls for part 2 of the storm to come through in the early morning. I'm thinking maybe I can get in a run between the storm. If the roads are clear, I can handle running through a snowstorm as long as it is not a white-out.
Saturday 5:00 am: I wake up for some reason. I get up to check outside. There is a little snow, but it isn't snowing and the roads are clear.
Saturday 6:00 am: I'm up, showering and having breakfast
Saturday 7:30 am: I'm on the road. There is a little bit of wind and snow, but not much. Things are looking good.

The rest of the run was uneventful, occasional gusts of wind, some snow patches, but in the end 16.65 miles done. My average pace was 9:03 which is under the 9:15 that I should be at for my training.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boston Fever?

After a strong winter of continued running, I started toying with the idea of getting a Boston Qualifying time this year. My training has been solid. The course I chose is a faster course which gives me a bit of an edge. Things were looking hopeful if I continued on the same path.

I returned home on Thursday after a solid Interval run. After a shower, I sat down to compose an email to the 1/2 marathon group I coach. I pulled up a few blogs to discover that the Boston Athletic Association changed the qualifying registration process for 2012 and the times for 2013.

My first reaction looked something like this.

After spending some time digesting this, I think I have come to the following conclusion.

It's their race and they can do whatever they want.

I could go on and on about how the BAA is similar to the BCS system in their catering to the elite runners and ruining the sport for those who struggle and work their butts off just to qualify, but I won't. If someone really wants to thumb their nose at the Boston Marathon, there are 5 other states (Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Virginia) that offer a city named Boston....surely someone could create a marathon there.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Directionally Impaired

Being the half marathon coach for a group of beginners has its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is that I have to plan the routes for the Interval running and also for the long runs. For the common person, that doesn't seem like a big deal. However, I struggle with this process because I tend to be rather directionally impaired when running. When I run on my own, I will take new routes and paths simply to break up the monotony of running the same route from my house. It rarely matters to me if on an easy run I do 6 miles or 6 1/2 miles. One of the benefits of living in Utah is that the streets and cities are laid out on a grid that revolve around two major streets—main street (which runs east and west) and state street (which ones north and south). Going off this grid rarely do I get lost.

When I am coaching, however I am dealing with runners who haven't run as much or as often. For many of them, the distance we are running is the longest they have ever run. I work to keep to the plan.

Map #1 Original Plan
On Saturday, the plan called for 8 miles. The route was relatively flat versus the past few weeks that had a few hills. Map 1 shows the route we were scheduled to take. The route planned for a loop through some of the more rural parts of the city. There were two hills at the beginning of the route to over the freeway and then flat after that.

The run started as planned and we made it over the few hills and through the first few turns. The problem came at the bottom of the map where there is a small run and then turns into a long stretch. Unfortunately the streets aren't marked well because they cross into county roads and also criss crosses over into another city.

Map #2 Finished plan 
That's where the problem begins. Didn't see the turn. We kept running. By the time we made it back to a major intersection, I knew we would not be able to finish the back loop and still keep the run to 8 miles. You'd think–no problem– just cut across and go back. This is exactly what we did, but going back meant crossing the same two hills we hit on the way out. In the end, the route ended up being 8.6 miles.

My running group are learning very quickly that running with me means that just because we have a map, doesn't mean we'll stick to the map.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Wheel vs the Cage

Lately, the weather has been too cold for my tastes to run outside. We recently renewed our gym membership so I have no excuse to not run. When I go to the gym I have the choice of the cages (area for free weights or machines) or the Hamster Wheel (track). Depending on the time of day I go, I get to see a whole host of interesting people.

The morning crew (8:00 am -10:00 am) of people include old retirees who get in for free (there is a Senior center connected to the facility and a retirement home next door), moms with strollers, people who would normally be outside if it's cold me.

The evening crew (4:00 pm - 9:00 pm) consists of kids who should be down in the gym, kids whose parents have made the upstairs their own private day care facility, couples who like to walk and talk, teens who like to walk, talk and talk or text on their cell phone.

Neither option is ideal for running on the Wheel.

Hamster Wheel (aka the Track): The wheel is on the second level around the outside of the top level with the cages and other workout rooms in the center.  It overlooks the 4 different basketball gyms below.

As I run, I see the people in the cages, just like a guard who paces by the prison cells sees the prisoners. The rooms with the machines and weights are surrounded by a fence type structure that looks like something from the prison supply store.

To pass the time, I tend to track who is doing what in the two cages. First, I notice who is wearing a race shirt to see if I've run the same race. Then I track what machines people migrate too. My internal conversation degrades over time.

Lap 1 Machine Cage: "Anorexic looking guy who i've seen at a variety of races..going faster than I ever have and probably has no girlfriend","Old-guy white xyz race top is on the climbing machine looking like he's about to pass out", and "green shirt guy is on the bike".

Lap 1 Free Weight Cage: "big guy, black tank looking like he's going to burst a major vein in his neck", "tough looking chick I'd not want to meet in a dark alley"

Lap 12 Machine Cage: "That anorexic guy is now on the stair climber...he's an animal and really has no life." "Old-guy is finishing up and looking good" "Green shirt guy didn't last long on the bike and has migrated through 3 other machines...this is not the place to be picking up chicks"

Lap 12 Weight Cage: "Big Guy is chatting with the tough biker chick looking girl. It's the guns...unlike green shirt guy in the other cage."

Lap 24 Machine Guy: "Hey Green shirt guy...get a life already. Go get a membership at Gold's..there are no HOT chicks at the city rec center""Anorexic guy...yeah the sign says 60 min max on the treadmill for a reason...go find yourself a girl somewhere."

Lap 24 Weight Cage: "Yeah biker chick girl could definitely kick green shirt guys trash. That'd be an interesting cage fight..wonder if we can set it up."

Lap 32: ah blah blah naaammmee this ever going to end?

Usually by lap 40 or even 48 I've given up on the fact that I'll ever be able to leave.

I'm ready for Spring.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Impulse Marathons

In December, I made a list of marathons and half marathons that I would like to run this year. In January, I looked at my budget for the upcoming year and started scratching off the races that I wasn't passionate about running. I had the Salt Lake City Half Marathon on the list, but then I was going to skip it for another  half that is only 10 minutes from my house.

Then I got an email from with a coupon for $15 off the Marathon or Half Marathon. I put it on my "to be considered" list until I saw a post from a friend who said she's running the half. Next thing I know,  my "to be considered" is now "actively considering" the half. This would be my third time running this race. I know the course well and know about the leg killing climb 2 miles before the finish. Do I really want to run the half again? I get thinking "what if I run the full marathon?" And "what would my training schedule be?" I printed off a schedule from Runner's World and discovered that I already am running the routine it set. In fact, I'm pushing harder to meet my goal of a BQ in June.

Tuesday morning I got online, filled out the form and submitted my registration for the full marathon.

There is a point in the race where the marathon and half marathon split. The half does a U-turn and runs on the other side of the road (there is a concrete island dividing the street) for a 1/2 mile. The marathon continues straight. I always get thinking at this point "I'm sure glad I'm only doing the half." I wonder if this year I'll be thinking "man, I wish I was running the half.." Ahh well, maybe I could resurrect my "cause" for this race.