Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Third Trimester: 12 weeks until my marathon

As I sit here, I'm 12 weeks away from my next marathon.  The beginning of the third trimester!! As you might imagine, I sleep a lot, my feet are swollen, the hemorrhoids are back, and my body aches all the time. It will all be worth it in the end, but right now brewing my marathon baby sure is a lot of work.

Just like when someone is not growing a baby, when I'm not specifically training for a marathon, I still take pretty good care of myself - but not all that horribly good.  I'll indulge in the occasional six pack of beer, eat copious amounts of dairy before bedtime, and run a lot but not all that focused and certainly no speedwork.  It is a blast! I still get the benefits of being healthy with all of the running I do without all of the hassle of actually being healthy.  I have seen the light, life balance be thy name!

But let me tell you, when that marathon seed is in me? Things get serious.  Prenatal vitamins? CHECK! Soft cheeses!?  NO WAY! Jumping on trampolines!!?  ARE YOU KIDDING I'LL have my marathon baby premature! TWIST AN ANKLE!!! I'm drinking more water than I thought possible (babies need water) and I am always on the lookout for foods that could make my stomach uncomfortable or give me heartburn. My veggie and fiber intake goes WAY up and my french fry intake goes way down.

Having put in a few solid months of base building right around the 12 week mark, I start to incorporate speedwork into my plan. This training cycle I did it a week earlier than normal during week 13 (last week) - my marathon baby always was head of the class.  He is going to be president.... congressman.... something better than those two.

Last week I logged 58 miles.  I had been hovering in the mid 40s for the longest time but finally pulled the trigger on the 6th day of running which pushed me over the edge. The speed session I did last week was a 5 mile tempo run on Friday (8 miles total) with the tempo miles at half marathon pace or 6:30/mile.  Let me tell you, it.was.hard.  I did it on a treadmill at work which helped a bit.  Nothing like all of your work people watching you grunt and sweat to keep you going!!!  (Edit: I forgot that I also did 5x800 @ 6:00 the week before that. So, I guess I started doubly early)  The miles are adding up on my legs for sure. By the time my long run rolls around, I'm pretty trashed, but it is a good kind of hurt.... all 50 shades of it.

This week I hope to log 61 or 62 miles.  I'm going to do another round of 800s, this time hoping to get 7 of them. I had planned to do a 10 mile marathon pace run today, but the weather was NOT cooperating with a low temp of 92 degrees. So, I did 7 miles at whatever pace I could muster and called it a day. (7 @ 7:29/mile which felt like running sub 5:00)

So, if the heat doesn't kill me, that is the plan for the next 2-3 weeks. But, rest assured, the heat WILL kill me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is Meb cashing in his running cred chips?

American elite distance running is interesting to follow.  With so few athletes to root for, we latch on to anyone who has the faintest glimmer of success or triumph over adversity. Or, in the absence of either of those, is marketable enough (Let’s be honest…. read: has a pretty face) to put on a magazine cover.  While Americans only have a handful of men and women that could come close to challenging the highest levels of world-class elite marathon times (I won’t dare list them here at risk of forgetting one), one has been doing it rather consistently for the last 4-6 years: Meb Keflezighi. He isn’t the fastest, he certainly isn’t the youngest, but he is a workhorse of the “difficult” Major Marathons.

As such, it came as a bit of a surprise yesterday when I heard that Meb was hired as the “VP of Running” of competitor group who puts on the Rock and Roll marathon series of races.

Elite running is BUSY. Meb posted a YouTube of an average day for him. Spoiler: IT IS NON STOPPED. How can he have time to consistently train like he needs to stay at the top of his game?  Every article I read had Meb quoted with saying that he is laser focused on the 2016 Olympics. But, I can’t help but be a bit cautious that he is bending his focus away from running and more towards whatever it is that will pay the bills AFTER running.  In fact, he had previously flirted with retirement prior to his Boston win.

Really Meb? No way do I believe you ride this...
Now, I certainly can’t fault him for making a big money grab after his massive win at Boston (if that is what this is) or starting to set himself up for a post running career.  At 39 years old, he is easily 5 years older than any of his “real” competitive peers, so thinking about his twilight years has to be top of mind.  Additionally, as a friend Lauren pointed out, Meb is currently juggling seemingly 15 sponsors (giving most healthy living bloggers a run for their money... zing!!!) so adding one more iron in the fire isn’t THAT big of a deal? Maybe?

I personally really hope that Meb keeps his foot on the running gas pedal. Granted, I do realize that he isn’t a robot and can’t do this forever. Unless he IS a robot. In that case, all hail robot overlord Meb. But, part of the reason I’m somewhat bummed to hear about the new “job” is that I’m a big fan of his and would hate to see him hang up his Sketchers. Having met him a few times he really is as genuine as everyone says – so I just hate to see one of the good guys go. That said, hopefully he is able to do a bit of good work with the Rock and Roll races and swap out a few high school garage bands with more water stops or better beer at the finish line.

Thoughts? Am I blowing this out of proportion or is this the beginning of the end?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blogging Off-season is OVER!

Just like herpies, just when you think you’re rid of me, I’m back! Although, I suppose I haven’t really gone anywhere (also like herpies) – just took a little technology break for a few weeks.  You know, except for my phone, twitter, facebook, Instagram, Buzzfeed, online news….. okay, so maybe I just took a break from blogging.  Triathletes get their “off season”, so let’s call the last 3 weeks my Blogging Offseason. So, now that I’m all bloated up on hot dogs (read: beer), apple pie (also beer), and fruit salad (fruit beer) I’m ready to get back into the swing of things!  Here is what I’ve been up to:

At the beginning of the month I made my annual trip to my dad’s lake house. I not only took an internet break, but also took a bit of a running break. The logistics of running and taking care of my son were just too great to overcome. I did get to see all kinds of family, did some swimming, boating, but of course didn’t take that family picture that my dad INSISTED that we take.  Oops.  My son absolutely loves going back so that he can drive all of the heavy machinery.
 So, the lake on the 4th was.....busy

I was thinking the other day… the President can’t really have more than a beer or two, huh?  I mean, he could be in the middle of a keg-stand, Joe Biden holding Obama’s legs in the air (come on, you KNOW uncle Joe is up for a keg stand), and a nuclear war could start. Nothing says “leader of the free world” like telling the national security advisor to “shut his face” and “stop being so dramatic” while slipping Bud Light Biden a $20 for another beer run.
Crazy Joe Biden...

Fortunately, in spite of the time off while I was in Iowa, I have still been running! It hasn’t been as much as I would like and it hasn’t been quite as fast, but I’m getting out there. In fact, I did my first speed session (5x800 @ 6:00/mile) in months that went really well. That said, the humidity in Phoenix (read: like 50%) has been miserable. For the last week it has averaged 83 with 70%+ humidity while I’ve been running. Well, and that brought out the bugs (which are quite rare for Phoenix)!

Yes, that is one on my tongue. 

I haven’t locked in on a race for this fall but I am eyeing either the Detroit Marathon or the Columbus, OH marathon. That means that I need to find 10-12 miles extra per week FAST.  The 53 miles I’m running this week isn’t going to cut it.

Finally, today is my last day as a 32 year old that has a 12 year old mind. In that time I’ve ran 3 marathons (well, one last year was the weekend before my bday), started a new job, bought a house, had a few ups and downs, but most importantly kept my son alive. I’m not a huge birthday celebrator, so I’m going for a run, having some coffee with a buddy, and maybe a motorcycle ride.  That is, unless Joe Biden comes over – then it is keg stands all day long!

Of course, another work week gone slaving away at the factory wouldn’t be complete without at least a little chuckle.  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fathers Day Picture Mashup

As you can imagine with a Father’s Day post that is 10 days late, the last two weeks have been BUSY! My running is heating up, a lot of big things are happening at work, and my son keeps me on my toes nearly every day. So, like I’ve mentioned in the past, instead of writing about my running, I’ve been actually DOING my running. Which, has been fun.  But, the time has come to put a wrapper around Father’s day, boast about how amazing I am at procreating, and show you all of the fun things we did. Afterall, if you don’t post about it online, it didn’t happen.

Planning Father’s Day with a 3 year old is very similar to what I imagine Basic Training in the army to be like: Very structured to account for meals and potty breaks, lots of activity to tire you out, and usually more than a few tears. Mine was certainly no different.

First things first, we ran and fed the ducks. I decided that I would sleep in a bit so it was PLENTY warm by the time that we got out.  To that end, throughout the entire run, my son “suggested” that maybe we should just “wait a minute right here for it to cool down”. (He was in the stroller for most of it, but did run about 1/2 a mile.) He didn’t really want to hear my detailed explanation that at 7am we hadn’t reached the heat of the day and that we just needed to keep going or else it was just getting hotter.

I'm making the ducks race, daddy!
(my son, after I asked why he kept throwing the bread way far away from the ducks. I'll ignore the slight animal torture for a bit....)

For some reason, when we were done running and I was giving the neighbors chest bumps celebrating my awesome run walking around gasping for air, my son grabbed his ipad and settled in for a bit of post-run Netflix…. On the motorcycle… backwards.

While the new motorcycles have navigation, 
I'm not sure the reverse iPad watching feature is coming soon

Once we were all showered, I opened my gift. I’m not a big collector of “stuff” so I LOVED what I got.  A bit of a questionnaire that I hope to continue as he gets older to see how the answers change.

What color are daddy's eyes? "Black"
What is daddy's favorite game? "Hide and seek when I have to go poop"
What does daddy like to drink? "Water" (Whew! dodged a bullet there)

Next up: COFFEE.  Errrr, and donuts for my son. Nothing says “Father’s Day” like using your son as an excuse to load up on sugar. 

Father's day coffee!  The gal behind me bought it for my son and I.  Hooray!

"Daddy, does my food look like a cement mixer??"

The main event for the day was a mini golf, go cart, bumper boat place. The go carts were a bit too fast but everything else was a HUGE hit. He is still talking about hitting the other people with the bumper boats. 

Daddy!! Lets smash them hard!!

The video version!!

Tiger woods, without all of the Denny's hostesses 

Lunch was a steakhouse which, since it is hotter than the surface of the sun here, essentially closed out the activities for the day. We then went home for a bit of relaxing before nap time. My son is transitioning out of taking a nap (but still needs one) so getting him down is harder and harder.  He fought it for quite some time, but eventually DID fall asleep (on the floor...oops).

No daddy, I'm not sleepy at all....

Well, if you're not sleeping, I'm going to celebrate

Cut to 2 minutes later.... zzzzzz

I don't like to drink in front of my son super often, but I made an exception for fathers day.  So, not only was I day drinking at 1pm, I was doing it with my feet up watching some rough necks fish for crab in Alaska. 

Hooray nap time!

Overall, Fathers day was SO much fun... but freaking exhausting.  Honestly, it was a lot more work than I remember my dad's fathers day being. Maybe my mom planned all of it? Or, maybe my dad was content with sitting around in our underwear watching NASCAR on TV? Either way, I'd do it again in a heartbeat - just maybe get a bit more sleep beforehand.

Best fathers day ever!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Running, Poop, and NCAA coaching

Consistency.  I truly believe that to have success with running you have to be consistent. Unfortunately due to a number of circumstances last week was not a consistent running week OR a consistently regular pooping week. But, this week is shaping up to be better with at least one of those……


Last week I wanted to do 50ish miles and I logged 37 – missing 3 scheduled runs and cutting one short.  Forgotten running shoes, scheduling conflicts, and soreness all led to runs not happening. But, this week I’m on tap to run the 50 miles I wanted to run putting myself well on the way to some consistency. To be clear, this has required two days of 3:30 wake up calls and more than a few runs over lunch, but I’m making it work!  Oh but the pooping….

I seem to go in cycles where my stomach doesn’t cooperate for 2-3 weeks. I have no idea what goes on, but I am certainly in one of those now. The issue I have is that my colon doesn’t decide to wake up with the rest of my body…until about mile 4 of my run.  As an example? I went FOUR times on Sunday.  Once before, twice during my 17.5 miles, and once after. I suppose the good thing is that I was losing weight! Believe me, I’ve tried all of the normal remedies: Hydration, fiber, late night infomercial oil drilling machine (not really), but nothing helps when my body decides to make my runs a game of Russian roulette.


Finally, “at will” employment states are interesting. Those are states in the USA that can fire you for essentially anything as long as it doesn’t have to do with race, religion, or gender. Firing you for something like running the Boston Marathon for example. Such was the case for Matt Aguero, the cross country coach for a small Christian private college. He ran the Boston Marathon and was fired because of it. Matt coached this team before Easter, flew to Boston the day before the race (Sunday), flew back the day of the race (Monday, which was a school holiday). While I’m pretty sure that there are factors that aren’t reported, on the surface it seems REALLY silly to fire a cross country coach for running a 2:35 marathon and coming in the top 200 at Boston.

From what I can tell, Matt went against his bosses orders by running which is what ultimately resulted in the firing.  What makes this one interesting, however, is that the athletic director said flat out that the coach’s personal running was taking his focus and attention away from his student’s running.  To me, that logic doesn’t exactly compute.  I’m not sure how running for 90 min a day in his free time would in any way detract from his work responsibilities. But, I guess I’m not an elite runner or NCAA coach. Read the stories in the links above or here here and here.  Let me know what you think.


Finally, one of my favorite pics from the past week or so. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Running Plan and CurrexSole RunPro Review

A week or so ago (okay, maybe like 3 weeks) I posted about my running comeback. The last year of little structure and less discipline had taken their toll.  I was still running, (frankly, still running somewhat fast) but I lacked the consistency needed to really see any performance gains - let alone maintain my speed as father time quietly tugged at my jockstrap. You can fake your way through a 5K, but the New Jersey marathon (and the NYC marathon before it) were painful reminders that I had been faking my marathon training for quite some time.

My comeback is a three pronged approach: EPO, vodka, and cheeseburgers Having a plan, making it a priority, and setting small milestones. Or, essentially the strategy for doing like 90% of things that are hard.  Since I rambled on and on in the previous post, I thought I’d give a real live running update on my running blog and talk about having a plan.

Having a Plan:
When I was actively coaching (I’m not now) I lived and died by my own personal schedule. I’d slave away on a long term plan and saw some really good results by following it. Of course, I’d adjust for feeling sore or god forbid coming down with the man-flu, but for the most part I stuck to it.  Because of various reasons, I can't be that rigid now, but I'm finding that having a set plan has done wonders for my consistency and sanity.

Here is how I went about building a high level schedule:
I actually don't currently have a "goal" race, but I know that 75% of marathons are in late Sept / Oct so I'm building toward that time frame.  I also knew that I wanted to get up to around 65 miles per week with a handful of speed days thrown in. Easy!  Unfortunately, a month ago I was consistently doing about 25-30 miles a week in 3-4 runs. Sooooo, I was going to need a few months to build up to that kind of volume.  Here is what I came up with for a high level schedule.

May: Build miles with 4-5 days a week ending up around 50 miles per week
June:  Start to add marathon paced and tempo workouts once a week, end at 60 miles per week
July: Maintain 60+ miles a week, have two quality tempo and marathon pace days a week OR one speed day
August: RUN ALL THE TIME!!!! Tempo, speed, 65-70 miles, 6x a week
September: Race!

Is it perfect? No. Have I already deviated from it? Yes. But, it is a plan and I'm TRYING to stick to it.  I need to sketch out June, but this is what it looks like:


Another thing that I'm doing as part of this training cycle is allowing myself to try a few new things before I get too wrapped up in miles and miles of training. I don't require a lot of "gear" to run but just kidding a freaking love running gear and that first part was a total lie.

I get a fair amount of companies reaching out to me to do reviews of one form or another and for the most part I turn them down.  I wont try out a product I don't need or wont use and buy again.  Since I am a tight ass thrifty, that list is pretty small. However, I've battled off and on with pretty bad shin issues and have always wanted to try inserts to see how they would feel. Just the tip. For a little bit.

Enter: CurrexSole and their RunPro inserts. I was sent a pair of these to try out a few MONTHS ago and am just now getting a chance to type up the review.  Since nothing makes me more frustrated than seeing a review along the lines of "I just got these in the mail today and tried them on my 2 mile run around the block! Obvs I'm an expert so here is my review" I've put ~50 miles on these inserts over the course of those few months.

But first, lets get the things in my shoes, which wasn't hard at all. They actually fit surprisingly easily on the first try.  I had the "medium" arch profile in the normal running inserts, they also had a high and low arch profiles and a minimalist style that is much thinner.

These kind of instructions I approve with. IKEA would be proud

"I'm going to send you this free product, please cut it up. Thanks"

If you've taken the normal insoles out of your shoes, you know that they are pretty basic. These CurrexSole have all sorts of features that normal insoles don't. Read about them here. They're deeper in the heel so your foot stays where it should, they are sweat wicking, more supportive in the arch, and has a bunch more cushion....which the CurrexSole people call "rebound".  It lowers the fatigue on your calves which ultimately makes you faster.  Also, there is a part of the insole called "Medium Rebound PORON cushion" which I think we can all agree looks just a little bit too much like the word porn.

Everyone knows bigger is better

Also, more colors are better, obvi

Overall I like the inserts with a few caveats. They did exactly what I thought and hoped they would do. They provided a blister free supportive run that was cushier than my normal one. I did notice that there was a bit more spring in my step, but I can't totally confirm that it wasn't all in my head.  I didn't see a TON of the faster times that were promised (but honestly did see a few), but I also wasn't brave enough to try them in a marathon when I was all out either.

The caveat that I have is that I've been trying to get away from a super cushy shoe and into a more neutral one. I'm also varying what brand of shoe I wear in an attempt to keep my feet strong and not weak in a certain area because of a shoe brand. Because of that, I won't wear the insoles on every single run, but instead will try to rotate them in like I do with various shoe models.

Additionally, I'm going to use these as a bit of a way to try to add more life to older shoes. If I can get even 50-75 miles out of shoes that would otherwise be tossed, I think it is money well spent.  Well, and at $50, these certainly aren't cheap, but if they reduce injury and help me extend the life of shoes, they are well worth it.

 So, they get my seal of approval! I need to look up how long they "last" but I'm planning on getting at least one more pair when these wear out. You can pick them up on Amazon, Running Wearhouse, etc.

I got these for free. I'm legally required to put that by the man. I'm also legally required to tell you that no one told me to give a positive review.  They did, however, tell me to cut their product with scissors.  So, lets call it even.