Sunday, August 28, 2011

South Valley Half Marathon Report

It's been a busy week filled with a quick three day trip to Vegas to remember and celebrate the life of my wife's grandfather who finally finished tasting everything on the menu at Blueberry Hill Diner. After the funeral, it was get kids back home to start school and get caught up with work. As a result of all this business, my post about the South Valley Half Marathon got lost in the shuffle. Here is my belated post about this race. 

Me, Whitney and Candice
I didn't know much about the race other than the links I saw on various blogs. I was asked to pace the 1:55 group. Whitney was planning on sticking with me in her efforts to finish under 2 hours. I invited Candice to join our pacing group and she agreed to pace the 2:15 group. Candice and I met briefly as she went running by me at the Timpanogos Half Marathon a few weeks back. It was great to meet her and visit a little.

We met early to pick up our bibs and signs. The race had put together a clever retro looking logo which they put on their medals and t-shirts. The bus ride up to the starting line was uneventful and I spent the time dozing. Our bus driver was kind enough to point out a few of the aid stations along the way and to remind us that anything we left on the bus was hers

One of the first things I noticed when I got to the starting line was the lack of bathroom facilities available. The lines were long and not moving very quick. Whitney was a few minutes behind me in the never ending line. The race was chip timed for the finish which meant that everyone's time started when the gun went off. 

Here's what the race website said about the course.

That's picturesque, right?
"This scenic, down-hill course begins up beautiful Rose Canyon in Herriman.  Athletes will enjoy a gradual decent though wooded foothills.  A spectacular view of the Wasatch Mountains promises to inspire every runner.  You will experience a fun-filled, well-supported course though the South Valley."

Doesn't that sound fabulous? I think they were talking about another race or maybe it was a race template where they just added some adjectives, nouns and locations. The start area was in a wooded area that was nice, but that's where it ended. The one thing I remember is the endless road, the 4 miles of uphill climb and the never ending view of cheat-grass.

Cool Retro Look
As a pacer, our my goal is staying on pace. I spend a lot of time looking at my watch, calculating where I should be and checking it in relation to the mile markers. The first couple of miles went by and I'm right on pace. I was told there was a climb so to be a few minutes a head of pace to compensate for the hill slow down. After mile 2, I start noticing that the mile markers are off. As time went on, I noticed that my watch and mile markers were almost 1/4 mile off. 

At mile 4, the climb began. The climb was gradual enough to start that I was only about 15 seconds slower per mile, but from mile 6-7 the climb was steep and tough.

Mile marker 11 and 12 come along and I'm on target and even a little bit in front. At mile 12, the organisers must have realised that they were off so they attempted to make up the difference from mile 12 to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 1:57. The other pacers that came through had the same results I did. A few of the race people were talking about our finish times and we mentioned to them that the course was marked incorrectly and ended up longer than 13.1. The nodded their heads like this comment was nothing new. 

I'm going to pass on this race next year.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Epic Weekend

Epic Cache-Teton Relay was a week ago. I had every intention to get this post done before the middle of the week. As you can see my road to "you know where" is getting another brick.

This was my second year participating in the Relay and only the third year the race has existed. With marathons and half marathons popping up faster than your local Amway dealer can draw circles, it is nice to have an event that is different.

Epic Relay began three years ago with only 12 teams that participated. Last year there were under 50. This year there were 84 teams. It's one of my favorite events.

If you're unfamiliar with the relay system, picture 2 vehicles of 6 runners together playing a giant game of Tag for over 30 hours. Team "Remember the Tetons" started at 7:30 am in Logan, Utah. The teams are staggered so that the slowest teams start early (5:30 am) and the faster ones start later (12:00 pm). Our team was what you would consider the "upper middle class" of team speed. We were pushing to finish in under 30 hours. The finish was 206 miles later in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

A couple nice things about relays is that you have some freedom in the choice of your three runs. The downside to be a faster runner in a relay is that your freedom is generally limited to the hardest ones. I was originally assigned the hardest leg of the relay (#7), but after some significant amounts of swearing and waving my arms up and down like a mad man sweet talking I was able to get switched to the fourth hardest leg (#11) of the course. My runs consisted of the following:

1. 9.31 miles
2. 7.07 miles
3. 3.31 miles

The good thing about my part of the race was that the first leg was the hardest and it definitely lived up to the hard part.

I started my run at 4:00 pm with the temperature in the mid 90s with lots of steep climbs and drops. The first three miles of my run were hot, but I was holding my own. The last 6 miles of the course were agonizing and I just wanted to fall into an ice cold stream.

My next run was at 3:30 am. The route was a gradual downhill for 7 miles. By the time my leg started, the temperature had dropped to 31 degrees. As I ran, my breath would get thicker or thinner depending on the temperature.

My last and final run happened about 12:30 pm. The route was a level paved trail. I pushed this as best I could to make up some time. In the distance I could see one last runner I was gaining on. The thought of one last "road kill" (when you pass someone on a relay) gave me the little boost that I needed.

We finished the relay in 30 hours 29 minutes for an 11th place finish out of 84 teams. We didn't make our under 30 hour goal, but we also added about 10 more miles to the course than last year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running Naked

As part of my new training program, I am making some changes to my running habits. I took off on my first run on Tuesday morning. It was an awkward run to say the least. I kept wondering if people were staring at me. I was completely and utterly NAKED*!

My new training program I am following is all about getting back in touch with the way my body feels as I run. The base miles are designed to just build aerobic base miles without breaking down my body. It's not about speed or tempo. Those things are designed to come along in the Big Workouts. Tuesday was my first opportunity to get in touch with this new style.

It was really awkward for Tuesday, but today's run was much better. For a good portion of my run, I was just in a good groove. I had no care in the world what others would say as they saw me running along. I went throughout the neighborhood, down on my favorite trail and looping back home. It was refreshing.

In fact, I've been toying with the idea of participating in this fashion for the Epic Relay that I am running this weekend. I've run it by a couple of the other runners on my team and at first they seemed a little dismayed that I'd even consider such a thing, but after explaining it further, they are good with it. Should be exciting.

*Would you like to join the running naked craze? It's easy, just leave your Garmin at home. If you're like me, running sans watch was very revealing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Training Regimen

On Saturday, I finished coaching the half marathon training group I have been working with. This is the second consecutive coaching I have done. I enjoy the opportunity to give back and work with others to get faster, but I feel it is time to return my focus to my individual training. I have been looking at various new training plans. I looked into using Runner's World like I have done in the past. I enjoyed it, but felt like it wasn't fit for me. I followed the last plan really closely, but the results were less than ideal when I ran my last marathon.

This time around I opted to talk to a friend who is an elite runner. She's run multiple races of all sizes and has always come to some of the races I direct. I gave her a brief rundown on my current status and where I would like to be as a runner.

After his gig in Oz was over,  the Tin Man started running.
Who would have guessed. 
She put together a 3 page plan explaining everything and giving me some great advice. Her plan comes from the Tinman training philosophy.

It took me some time to figure out what the philosophy was and how to incorporate it into my training. In essence, I will be focusing on a couple things:
1. Building my aerobic endurance by adding more days to my training
2. Making my runs more efficient
3. Running more small races to track my progress

First thing on the list is adding more days to my training. I'm working into a 5-6 day a week plan. I'll be adding 1-2 additional short run days (30 min max) for the next few weeks until my body gets used to the increased number of days.

One day a week, I'll have what is called a "Big Workout." This is more than just a long run. It is a longer run, but incorporates other workouts into the run (i.e., tempo, speed work, fartlek, hills, etc.).

I'm excited for the new change and what it offers to my own training.

Does anyone else follow the Tinman Philsophy?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Race to Chevron

'Twas the morning of the 5th and the plans were in place.  Four runners would meet for their first morning run.

With Raylene as the coordinator the plans were in place.

Raylene would go right to meet Blaine with Mieka to the left. Katie would meet the group at chevron by 7, then they'd all run back to the place where they started.

My mind was 'a-buzzing to get out and run. I hadn't been running with my friends in a while. I got up at 4 to make sure I'd be ready.

I opened the cupboard to prepare a fine breakfast to discover to my horror that the peanut butter had gone missing. I looked on the counter, under the sink and the pantry. There's none to be found which means my plans are all ruined.

With a sigh and a grumble I pulled out the cereal. A bowl with dried fruit, a few nuts and some yogurt. Not my best breakfast ever, but better than nothing.

With the Garmin strapped on and my fuel belt attached, I kissed my wife goodbye as she mumbled "have fun and be safe."

I flew out the door without glancing back. At the corner I saw Raylene's chipper face. "Good Morning," she beamed and we started our run.

My legs felt great for the first couple miles. My stomach however had other ideas. It grumbled and complained from the very beginning.

At mile six we called Katie and made new arrangements. I'd stop at the Chevron where Katie was waiting and drive her truck to the place where we started.

Mile 8 came upon us and my stomach lurched hard, I felt the urge for a pit stop without one to be found. By nine I was reeling, my stomach was hurting—where's a honey bucket when needed?

I'm almost without hope when off in the distance, A glimmer of hope. I see the chevron where Katie is waiting. Without a word to my friend, I rushed right inside. What a relief that I got there in time and NO ACCIDENT.

With a wave to my friends, I bid them farewell. "Good luck on your run. I'll see you all later."

The End....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Timpanogos Half Marathon

I finished the race and was going through to get a bite to eat when the Smoothie King people greeted me and said "We were just wondering if we would see you." This tells me one of two things:

1. I should talk to them about sponsoring me
2. I'm a big Smoothie King whore fan who visits the store way too often

I ran as a pacer at the Timpanogos Half Marathon this past Saturday. I've really enjoyed being a pacer because I'm too cheap to pay for my races and giving back to others who are wanting to hit a new PR. The course was put together well and overall it went smoothly. I am sure I could have beat any previous PR had I been running this rather than pacing. Here are some of the highlights of the race.

 1, 971 foot elevation loss with the majority of it in the first
7.5 miles.

  • Got there are 4:30 am and met the other pacers to get my bib, bag and shirt.
  • Arrived at the start about 5:20 am to see the long lines at the Honey Buckets. I don't think there is enough time to wait in line and still be in the crowd with my sign.
  • At 5:40 am they announce that the race is delayed due to some buses that were slow getting up the canyon. Since everyone was ready to start, that meant the bathrooms were free—SCORE!
  • 6:00 am the race starts
  • 6:15 am I'm running way too fast for the 1:55 pace. Instead of slowing down, I told the 1:50 pacer to speed up.
  • 7:00 am approximately. Candice runs by, introduces herself and then promptly ditches me to beat her 1:55 time. I looked for her after, but the pink top, blond hair pulled back with a pony tail was the "go to" style of the day.
  • 7:43:45 I am close to the finish, but still more than a minute from my pace time. I slow down to a light jog. 
  • 7:44:45 my official chip time. 
I didn't need a GU the whole time. My legs felt great. I didn't get a race shirt, but they promised that they were ordering more and would get us one. Next year I'll run this course and see what I can do.