Sunday, May 18, 2014

One Chapter Ends, A New Chapter Begins

This post has been far too long in coming. I started this blog when I was serious about my running and racing. I felt like I could add a little humor to my running commentary. It's been a lot of fun. I have met some really neat people because of my blogging and running.

Since the time that I started blogging about my running I have run 14 marathons, too many to count half marathons and only a handful of 5k or 10k events. I never felt like a 5k or 10k was "my thing". I would start out too fast and never could quite get into a good groove. I like the feeling of finishing 26.2 miles, but I love the half marathon and the fact that I'm not so completely exhausted after.

I used to loathe running on the treadmill. That was before I discovered the Cinema Cardio at Gold's Gym. Now, I put in 6-7 miles on the treadmill while watching a movie on a wall sized screen with surround sound. It's not so bad anymore....

Somewhere along my running journey I started organizing events and working behind the scenes. I started with my children's local charter school, then moved into a city-wide event and then into actually getting paid to organize events.

This is where my new chapter begins. I took an opportunity/leap of faith and became a race director for Color in Motion 5K. They do color 5k events all over the country. As a race director, I get the opportunity to make sure the event happens, that all the bases get covered and at the same time I get to meet amazing people. I also get to travel to new places. Whether this will lead to something bigger and better, I don't know. At the moment though, I'm enjoying the journey.

So what now? Will this blog officially stop or will it just change form and I'll comment about being a race director. I'm not sure. There are a few posts I'd still like to do. I hope to get those complete in the next week.

Until then, as a good friend always signed his letters.
TTFN (ta ta for now)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Car Repairs are Keeping Me in Shape

A funny thought occurred to me as I ran today. My van repairs are keeping me from totally succumbing to the enticings of my couch.

In 2012, I was putting in between 50-60 miles each week. I was in great shape and enjoying the ability to run a marathon one weekend and then turn around and run another one the following weekend. Lately, i've been priding myself on keeping my Fat Boy Ice Cream sandwich intake in the single digits on a daily basis. I still am able to crank out 5-6 miles at a reasonable pace, but it's been many months since i've run more than 6-7 miles in a given stretch.

I tell myself that these are maintenance miles. By running 2-3 times a week at 5-6 miles each time I am preventing the couch from sucking me in for good. Sometimes though the motivation to get out the door and put in these maintenance miles just don't offer the motivation I need. Lately though, the guilt from my pants fitting tighter my trusty van and auto mechanic have devised a necessary intervention. I'm sure one day I'll thank them for it.

Exactly how I felt when I saw how many calories i've burned
My van has been in the shop a lot lately. My wife works away from the house and as such I can usually count on her for a one time drop off at the house or ride to work. The shop happens to be a 4 mile run from my house (although I have successfully gotten lost and done it in 7 miles before). In the past three months, i've had the CV joints replaced, the oil pan gaskets replaced (twice), brakes done, catalytic converter replaced, O2 sensors replaced, vacuum hose fixed, oil change completed, and a drive rod replaced. Some of these were done together and others were a one time deal.

Here's where i'm going to do some math. Let's say 10 repairs total. Figure my wife taking me one way 80% of the time. That's 8 out of 10 times, I had to get back home on foot (4 mile run) and 2 times where I had go both ways (8 miles). 4 x 8=32 plus 8 x 2=16 miles. That's 48 miles. In calories burned that is 9,540. That's equal to almost 3 pounds worked off or kept off. I'd say that's pretty good.

So thank you to my van that keeps going into the repair shop for keeping me off the couch and on the road. I'm going to go get a combo meal now. After all, it's only 860 calories which compared to the 9,540 I just worked off is totally justifiable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Am I a Second Class Runner Because I Pace?

My P90X enabled me to carry that sign
for 26.2 miles.
On Saturday, I finished my 11th marathon. I'm a little in awe about that. In fact, I paced the 3:50 finish
time for the race. This is only 5 minutes slower than my first marathon that happened only four years ago this fall.

I've had a few friends comment on all the recent marathons that I have done. The question is something that usually starts with "So, did you run this weekend?" At which point I say something like "Yeah, I did the Utah Valley Marathon..." In turn the comment from those who know I run a lot say, "Did you race it or pace it?" When I tell them that I pace it, they tend to not be as interested.

It makes me wonder if the fact that I pace a lot gives the impression that I'm not putting in the work for a marathon. It has me a bit baffled as to what a good response would be. Since I'm rather mild mannered and haven't chewed anyone out over the comment, I'll justify it a little here.

The facts of pacing:

  1. I get in for free. Most races in my area running around $85 for early sign up. Multiply that by three or four races and it starts to add up quick.
  2. I am timed, get a bib, shirt, medal, etc. just like everyone else.
  3. A marathon is 26.2 miles regardless of whether I am pacing or racing.
  4. I get the opportunity to give advice to those who are running with me and get to cheer people on to the finish.
  5. I have to be in marathon shape to run a marathon. This means that I'm putting in the training miles just as much as the next guy. 
  6. Running slower isn't always fun. I paced a 4:30 finish the first marathon I paced. I hurt for days after because I was exerting a lot of energy into running slower than is typical.
  7. I get to be super conscious of my time/energy because others are relying on me. My goal for each race is to be 0-30 seconds under the target time. For example, Utah Valley Marathon I finished in 3:49:41.
That's it. I enjoy the opportunity, but I also find myself wondering if I'm really pushing myself to get faster or if I'm just doing it for the free entry. I definitely feel as though there is a motivation to train if I am signed up for a race versus just pacing, but in the end I still have to be physically and mentally prepared to race.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Out Running....

I get on a roll with my blogging and then I fall off the wagon. My best and most fun ideas come to me while I'm running. I then finish my race and forget what I was all about. I'm going to get you all caught up on what's been happening from a race point of view and maybe share some of my more creative thoughts while I'm at it.

Salt Lake City Marathon (4:00 finish time pacer)
This was the marathon's tenth anniversary and as such they decided to make the race more interesting by making it rain the entire time. They also lowered the temperature so that runners were wet and cold. I planned accordingly though and wore two shirts and a jacket. For the marathon, they had two pacers for each time which makes pacing a whole lot more enjoyable. It rained steady for the first 18 miles and then on and off to the finish. I packed an additional set of clothes to change into once I finished. I'm glad I did, because it was cold and wet. This year they changed the course of the race and finished in a local city park. I'm sure when the weather is nice, the park will be a nice change, but this year it was just wet and muddy.

A couple things stand out about this race. First, Adidas was the race sponsor and as such, each pacer received a pair of shoes and a pacing shirt from them. I chose the Adidas Adios shoes and they have been AMAZING. At the time of this writing, I've put in more than 100 miles in the shoes with ZERO blisters. The fit is just perfect and they are super light weight. The only downside to the shoes is that they got rather muddy after the marathon and just aren't as nice looking. If some kind Adidas rep finds this, I'd be very grateful if you could send me a new pair that are clean–thank you!

The next thing that I took away from this race is everything I took away from this race. What do you get when you have race sponsors who have been out in the rain all morning? Sponsors that are very anxious to give away all that they have so that they can get out of the rain. Dannon Yogurt was a big sponsor and had tons of supplies. I left the race with multiple cases of yogurt.

Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon (2:05 finish time pacer)
This is one of my favorite races in the area for a few reasons. The course is not a typical downhill course. It's hilly and challenging, but not overly steep. The course start is 10 minutes from my house so I don't have to wake up super early to get there. The race team and director put on a fabulous race. I was originally going to be pacing the 1:55 group, but a last minute change put me at 2:05. I was okay with it because I wanted to rest my legs after the previous week's race.

At the expo the day before, I told everyone who stopped by our booth to expect a good course, but to take it easy. Because a lot of the course was on a golf course, the elevation chart didn't show all the rolling hills. I had a few people stick with me until mile 9 then I was on my own. The weather for the race was fantastic. The previous three years of the race it has been rainy and cold.

Provo City Marathon (3:50 finish time pacer)
I would love to like this marathon, but I just can't say that I do. The race company that puts it on does a good job and it's well marked, but I just don't enjoy the course. The first 13.1 miles of the course is fine. It starts up Provo Canyon and then descends down the canyon for 7 miles. The last 5 miles have a gradual downhill to the half finish. The hard part about this course is that the marathon participants have to run by the finish line knowing that they still have 13.1 miles to go. You have all these cheering people and lots of energy and then it becomes a whole different course. The remainder of the race is relatively flat and ugly. The support for the back half is pretty lean and there aren't a whole lot of volunteers on the course or spectators. This year I did have an additional pacer with me and that made things more fun, but overall not a great course.

At the finish line they did have a sponsor that had an oxygen booth set up. They had a 10 minute
session for free and you could choose the "flavor" of oxygen you received. When my brother in law (he paced the 4:30 group) and I got to the booth they just let us stay as long as possible. We took a self portrait of us looking tired and needing oxygen and sent it to our wives. The wives didn't appreciate us telling them that we needed oxygen.

Vigor Cottonwood Half Marathon (1:50 finish time pacer)
The director of the pacing group I belong to told us after the Provo Marathon that we were invited to pace a new event and he was giving priority to the full marathon pacers. I jumped on board and paced the 1:50 finish time. We got to be at the bus loading no later than 4:00 am which meant that we left my place at 3:00 a.m. Getting up at 2:15 a.m. to get ready for a race is not my idea of fun.

The course was steep and fast. I think I could have paced the 1:40 finish time group without much problem. The coolest thing about this race was that people were with me until mile 12 when I told everyone to speed up and finish as fast as they could. One man had been with me at Thanksgiving Point, but had crashed at mile 9 so this was exciting for him to be under 2 hours and feeling great at mile 12. A fellow blogger, Whitney from It's What Moves Me, was with me the entire time so we caught up on the racing scene a little. As I was approaching the 13 mile mark, the pace director ran by me and told me to stop or slow way down because the course was about 1/4 mile short. I stopped and cheered on runners just before mile 13 to wind down my time and finish within 10 seconds of what my 1:50 finish time.

That's it for up Utah Valley Marathon, HOMM Half Marathon and more....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mid-Michigan Running Group

While I was in Michigan, I needed a long Saturday run to keep my training on track for the Salt Lake City Marathon. I did a google search for running groups and came across the Mid-Michigan Running Group. They have their own event page and were doing a 15 mile run the Saturday we would be in town. The run started only 5 miles from our hotel and less than 2 from my wife's Grandmother's house.

Mid-Michigan Running Group
This group has figured out the secret to any runner's heart–food. All their runs meet or end at a local food place. The run on Saturday met at Bake N Cakes–A local cake shop that is the pride and joy of those in the area. On Sunday's after a long run, they meet at a local cafe. On Tuesdays they meet at a cupcake shop, on Wednesday's they meet at a local tavern and Thursdays are at pie shop. When I spoke with one of the group members she said they get better attendance when they meet at food places. These are my kind of runners.

There were two different meeting times for the Saturday run. Those who wanted to do 15 met at 8:00 am and those who only wanted 10 met at 9:00 am. When I arrived at the start at 8:00 am they had just started running and I had to do a little catch up. Only a handful of people joined the 8:00 group so I had the opportunity to visit with most of them. As we were running, I asked them where the best local places to eat were. I knew I was in good company when they all just started asking me about food preferences. The list got narrowed down to one or two places that got the consensus vote on favorite.

At 9:00 we looped back to the start and met up with a few more people running in the group. During the next ten miles, we looped around the MSU campus and I was told about some of the goals each runner had. Some members were training for a half and others a full and a few had done multiple marathons. I even discovered that one of the members had moved from Colorado recently and he favorite race is the Top of Utah Marathon which I have run twice. AMAZING!

We finished our run, I shook hands and wished them all well. They extended to me the invitation to join them again any time and that there were doing a recovery run the next day at a local cafe. I smiled and wished them well.

Fork in the Road Restaurant
This little place was among the top of local places that were close to where we were staying. We almost missed it. We arrived at the right time because the wait time got longer and longer as we waited. The menu is very simple. It's updated regularly and printed on a chalkboard. You order your food, then find a place to sit and then you have a waiter come over. Since we were new, we asked about their specials and then ordered. We decided on dessert which was intriguingly called a "Backward Rootbeer Float". My wife had the fried chicken which was fabulous and made me very envious. Whereas I ordered the meatloaf sandwich which was ok, but not like the chicken.

But the hit of the night was the Backward Rootbeer Float. It consisted of Sasparilla Ice Cream in Vanilla Creme Soda. The taste was amazing. I'm used to the flavor of vanilla followed by the flavor of rootbeer when having a traditional rootbeer float. With it reversed, my mind and tongue didn't quite know what to do. I kept expecting the vanilla first and when I got the rootbeer it was almost a shock.

The Fork in the Road restaurant was a hit.

Thank you to the Mid-Michigan Running Group for accommodating me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

We Interrupt This Michigan Trip for a Product Review

Free Swag! I love free swag! I love it when it's running swag....!

I'm pacing the Salt Lake City Marathon again this year. It's the 10th Anniversary of the race and I've run it four times. I like the race. I like that fact that they have taken out a big hill that was at mile 25 of the course. I like the fact even more that Adidas is the sponsor and they are giving all the pacers a free pair of shoes to run in on race day.

"Did you see how fast Blaine went by in those shoes?
Holy Smoke, they are fast"
Two posts ago I talked about the new shoes I bought because of my inability to control myself in a running store and how I had gone in with the intention to try on a pair of Adidas. I chose the Adidas Adios. In Spanish, Adios means goodbye which I am interpreting this to mean that I will be so screaming fast that people will be saying "Adios" to me when I put them on.

They arrived while we were on our trip to Michigan. I had my brother in law (who also is pacing) pick them up and care for them while I was gone. I gave him implicit instructions to speak about running in positive terms and he could even put his Adidas next to mine at night so mine wouldn't get lonely. He rejected my suggestion that he carry them with him as he was running in his. I would have completely shunned him at our family events because of this, but he did give up his shoe box since mine got damaged in shipping. That sort of sacrifice goes a long way in my book.

I've been able to take them out a few times this week and let me tell you–I'm impressed. They are very light and minimal like the Kinvara's, but the toe is narrower. I appreciate the narrow toe box because I have narrow feet. Wider shoes tend to give me blisters, but these ones feel really good. My calves and shins have been a little more sore than normal, but this is pretty typical whenever I get new shoes.

And they are yellow....!

Adidas has a new shoe called The Energy Boost that is supposedly going to revolutionize running shoes. When we were at our pacer meeting choosing our shoes, the Adidas Rep gave us all the details of them. It's a good thing they are hard to get right now and very limited in stock or I would have been having to check into a rehab for buying yet another pair of shoes.

Sum it all up. I like these shoes. I've never done a full marathon in a minimal shoe before, but i've done plenty of half's in minimal shoes. I'm looking forward to the race. Now I just need to get training... :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michigan Journey Part 1: Rest Stops, Honeybuckets, and Gas Stations...oh my!

This post has everything to do with bodily functions. I'm posting this solely as a courtesy in case my wife (who rarely reads my blog gets told by one of her friends or a relative or someone on the street that I'm writing about this) sees this. 

As a runner, I've developed a pretty high tolerance for rest stops. You can't be too picky when you are six miles into a 15 mile run and you get "the urge" and it's a "RIGHT NOW!" and not a "in 9 miles when you've fully recovered from your run and had a bite to eat..." I do have my standards and that involves only using facilities meant to capture what I am releasing. I'm not one of those "stop and drop" type of people that I see in races.

So, what does that have to do with a drive to Michigan. Think through this with me.

  • 24 hours of actual driving (30 hours if you included stops)
  • 2 adults
  • 3 kids
Since I never made it past Algebra in High School, I asked my son who is signed up for AP Calculus if there were some formula he could give me that would calculate the possibility that we would be making an urgent stop at some point in our travel. He just rolled his eyes at me and walked off. I'm sure someone has done a study. If not, maybe I'll apply for a grant. What is boils down to is a lot of stopping. Sometimes that stopping just meant gas, but if there's one thing I've taught me kids about traveling is that the chance of being left by the side of road diminishes greatly if you take the opportunity to hit the restroom while we're getting gas then when just filled up 10 minutes before and you were fine.

I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about cleanliness and sanitary conditions. Again, I am married to a marvelous women who has gone to great lengths to rid me of my bachelor man ways and converted me to the putting the seat-down-after-I-go ways of being. Combine that training with my knowledge and experience with all the public places to go in a 5 mile radius of my house and I'm here to give you a breakdown of rest stops from Utah to Michigan. I'll break them down state wide West to East. If you're on the East Coast and traveling to Utah, feel free to scroll to the bottom and work your way up.

One of the rare rest stops
in Utah

1. Utah- Despite the pride and respect I have for my home state, I have to say that Utah ranks just slightly higher than the public restroom at Starbucks in New York City that I waited an hour in line to use. First, finding a true rest stop in Utah is virtually impossible. Most have been shut down and boarded up. Your next resort is the gas stations that simulate rest stops. Your chances of finding one  where you don't have to read about "Bubba and his exploits" or wonder if maybe "Bubba" may have just left are slim. Grade: D+

2. Wyoming-In Wyoming, there are a few options. Rest stops are available. We stopped at two during our journey out and back. The first was when we crossed into Wyoming and they had a sign about not petting the buffalo. Another option is the Little America stops. About 150 miles from the Little America I started seeing signs advertising it. By the time I got there, I was convinced that it was one of the many wonders of the world and if we didn't stop it would be life-ending. On the trip out, the Little America in Wyoming was well kept, clean and l
iving up to the cleanliness the billboards claimed. On the journey back this same stop must have had a truckers convention come through not more than 5 minutes before we got there. Rest Stop Grade: C+, Little America: B

3. Nebraska-This section of our journey is like that nightmare that never ends. The endless miles of nothingness. The rest stops were above average comparatively. You could tell that someone had put some thought into making it nice. One of the places we stopped had a neat diagram showing how the stop had been built to absorb the sun in the winter and warm the place while being cooler in the summer. The smell was reasonable.  Rest Stop Grade: B-

4. Iowa-Someone in Iowa really put some thought into their rest stops. I've stayed at hotels that were not as nice as their rest stops. The buildings were attractive, the landscaping was nice. They even had free Wi-Fi. My wife commented that she could still smell the bleach and cleaner used in the bathroom. I had a boss who said he could tell how well a restaurant's kitchen was by the cleanliness of the bathroom. I've got to say that Iowa gets top marks. Rest Stop Grade: A

5. Illinois-Illinois is the land of the toll roads. I didn't realize they had these little things called Toll Oasis'. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is just what it sounds like. You're on this endless stretch of highway, you've successfully burned through $20 in change in various increments at various toll stations and you come upon this big complex that looks like someone uprooted a min-mall and stuck it on the highway. The bathrooms were comparable to what I would find at a min-mall with a lot of traffic. Rest Stop Grade: C

6. Michigan-By the time we reached Michigan I was in such a daze I don't even remember where we stopped. Since nothing stands out, i'm assuming we stopped at various gas stations along the way and depending on which one we chose it could have been pleasant or scary. Rest Stop Grade: C+ 

For the non-runner, this probably would be a very odd subject. For the runner however, this makes perfect sense. My wife will probably fall somewhere in the middle. She puts up with me as a runner so got to give her good marks for that.