Don’t blog angry

It’s 4:41 am Mountain time.  I am sitting in the Denver airport with all my devices plugged in to the only electrical outlet I could find.  Nervous Ipod, Ipad and laptop owners are pacing eyeing me up.  Trying to decide if they should just ask to use one of the two plugs I am taking up (just ask I will totally share) or if they should keep looking.  I am tethering my laptop to my cell phone patiently waiting for an email that is my ticket home.  I am tired, I am cranky and I bet I have awful breath (onions from my cheeseburger 10 hours ago are showing my minty gum who is boss).

After sitting on the plane for 3 hours in line to be de-iced we had to return to the gate.  As part of the passengers bill of rights you can’t keep people on the plane for more than 3 hours.  After a 45 minute wait we got back on and were told 1 hour to de-icing and we would be off……. 3 hours later we were back at the gate.  Breathe with me…….  My 7:10 pm flight is now a 8:47 am flight and nobody is sure if my bag is at the carousel or will be put on my new flight, so I got that going for me (which is nice).  Honestly I just need to be home to get Elise to her Daycare Halloween party, it is amazing how having kids changes your perspective.  I can deal with the other ramifications of this total disaster of an evening into early morning, but I don’t want to let Elise down.  I need to be home by 5 pm.

Don’t blog angry!  I did get in a 3 mile run in Denver this morning, all my pieces still function after going full-out on Sunday at the Mankato-Half Marathon (Hooray!).  Now all I have left on the 2012 race calendar is the Monster Dash half-Marathon (in costume of course) this Saturday.

The run was easy but I did get the “altitude” lung burn right out of the gate.  It was my attempt at altitude training and I really think it will push me to new levels this weekend :).

Keeping up with Evelinruns over at: http://evelinruns.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/top-3-runningworkout-songs-2/comment-page-1/

My three favorite running songs for the week:

1) “Push” – The Presets

2) “Over” – GusGus (if things go well I will get to see them live in Iceland in about a week!)

3) “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince (“We’re not going to let the elevator break us down”)

Is this a coherent blog?  Will I get my email confirmation for my new flight?  Did I share my plug-in? (Yes I did, but I had to offer nobody was brave enough to ask).  Will I ever see my bag again?

How about a question you can answer; what are you listening to?

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Who ran it better? #Mankato Marathon

Runner 1 has been running for about 3 years.  He has completed 3 marathons and last ran a “race” in July completing a 5 miler.  Runner 1 is running his first half-marathon.

Runner 2 has been running for about a year and a half.  He has completed 2 marathons and last ran a “race” two weeks ago completing a full Marathon.  Runner 2 is running his second half-marathon.

The runners are exactly the same age (same birthday even) and have the same stated goal “break two hours”.  Runner 1 is a few inches taller and has a PR about 2 minutes faster for the full Marathon and about 15 seconds for a 5k.  So when they toe the line for the Mankato Half-Marathon who finishes first?

I am Runner 2 and although I wasn’t really racing anybody, I was racing Runner 1.  My goal to “break two hours” is really to beat 1:58:59, set a personal record and if that was fast enough to beat Runner 1 that was gravy.  I was purposely vague in talking with Runner 1 about my goal and knew the “break two hours” goal added a little fluff.  Runner 1 is my friend Darik, we have a non-competitive/competitive relationship in everything.  I know he tries to beat my times, my fantasy football team and really to win any other sport or contest that may be going on.  He knows I am trying to do the same, but we still talk strategy, go to lunch weekly and root for each other to do well.  To sum up, I wanted Darik to hit his goal of two hours but to finish behind me.

On race morning I stood in the slow-moving line for the port-a-poty (a sure sign of race day!) hustled over to the bag drop and then got to the start line with just a few minutes to spare before gun time.  I spent probably two minutes looking for Darik but did not see him.  I guessed he might be running with the 1:55:00 pace group and tried to move my way toward them.  I ended up 10 yards or so behind them when the race started.  I trailed the group for a while but still could not pick out Darik so I decided to run my own race, and try to set a PR.

It was a chilly and really windy morning.  I had not dressed well for the wind and by mile 2 couldn’t feel my hands.  I noticed a lot of the other runners were tearing up from the constant wind and was glad I had at least worn my sunglasses (look for the positives! It helps).  I followed my own rules and thanked the volunteers at the first water stop and gave some kids a high-five that looked half-frozen standing on the side of the road.  I ran a good pace, keeping good splits, and the run flew by.  At mile seven was feeling alright.  Not good enough to try to chase down the 1:55 pace group, who I could just barely see now, but good enough that I decided I would not take a walk break at the next water stop as planned.  I am not one to give race advice, but I will offer this: You don’t decide at the water stop if it is time to walk, you make that determination a mile out.  If given the choice I will always stop in the moment. A mile out I will asses what is going on and make an actual decision.  In this case “let’s keep running legs!  We got this!” was the decision.

Right after the water stop I did not walk through Darik showed up.  I had misjudged where he started and thought I was behind him.  So seeing him catch up to me was a little surprising.  He saw me going up a sneaky long hill on the course (it isn’t that steep but you think it ends about three times before it actually does) and had caught up over the next mile and a half.  He had assumed I was running with the 2:00 pace group and started closer to them, so we were at the same spot on the course but he was 20 seconds (I guessed) ahead of me.

So now what?  Do I try to run ahead and beat him by more than 20 seconds?  Should I hang out and accept that I am going to lose?  Do I sweep the leg and hope nobody notices?  I decided to walk through the next water stop and Darik slowed to let me catch up.  That sealed the deal, there was no reason to try to run past him and win by over 20 seconds.  First, I don’t think I could have and second that sounded like an awful time.  Instead we pushed each other to the finish.  We talked sparingly but really just acted as pacers for each other.  When I felt I wanted to slow down I just fell half step behind and concentrated on keeping up.  After the race Darik admitted he did the same.  When he felt like slowing down he kept moving to make sure to keep up with me.  There was no verbal communication about this during the race but neither of us wanted to back down from the pace the other was setting.  It was both a miserable and great way to run the final miles of the half marathon.

With about a quarter of a mile to go I announced I was going to open it up and try to end with some speed.  I was on pace to finish right around 1:55:00 and wanted to give it one last push.  Darik’s wife later reported he looked like he was really straining at the end, while I did not look quite as distressed, the extra strain netted a 2 second gun time victory.  My watch’s unofficial time was 1:55:01 which was well under my prior PR.  Collecting my race goodies I wondered what my official time would be.  I was certain Darik had beaten me but by how much?  Plus we still had a Jake’s large pizza on the agenda for after the race (we both finished our large – once again Darik was visibly straining a lot more at the end).

Later that afternoon the official times came in, Runner 1 – 1:54:21 and Runner 2 1:54:57.  I had started 34 seconds ahead and finished 2 seconds behind.  In the process I set a new personal best by over 4 minutes and finished the race faster than I thought I could.  I was both extremely happy with how my day had gone and disappointed.  Long term that was probably the best outcome, I was better than I thought I could be on that particular day but not quite good enough.  It gives me positive momentum into training for my next race but still leaves a moving target to set my sights on.  That is what I tell myself at least, because on October 21st Runner 1, ran it better.

Tempo Blog (what happened to Thursday edition)

What happened?!?  It’s Friday (awesome!) already, and I have no idea what happened to my week.  Sometimes;  work + kids + life = Help!  This was one of those weeks.  So I am dusting off a favorite quote to get some focus back.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take  your eyes off your goal.”
Henry  Ford

I hit the road yesterday under overcast and rainy skies.  I checked my Nike + stats and see I have not run in the rain since June!  I don’t actively avoid the rain (I actually like it) so that gives you an idea what the weather has been in MN these past months.

One of my favorite things about running is all the awesome gear you purchase.  A run in the rain meant breaking out my trusty Brooks running jacket, my “mudder” shoes and running hat.  Maybe I am the only one that gets excited by purchasing or using my running gear?  I bet not though.

Evelinruns put out a call for others to post their top 3 running songs on her blog (check it out: http://evelinruns.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/top-3-runningworkout-songs-1/) so I am posting mine.  I am not hip with the kids anymore so I usually find music by word of mouth any suggestions no matter the style are welcomed here.

The current three songs that give me some extra pep on my run:

“The Sky” (Club Mix) – Mat Zo.  Techno dance track probably not for everybody.  Best at volumes that are not safe for human ears.

“Rain” – Bloodgroup.  Chill music that is great for starting out slowly or refocusing after a whole bunch of up tempo beats.

“Regret” – New Order.  Going back to the early 90’s here.  This was the first song that came on during my run yesterday and I forgot how much I like this one.  It got put right at the top of the playlist for Sunday.

So what are you listening to?

Good race karma, and new shoes!

A few years back I was introduced to the idea of “good river karma”.  I had just finished white water rafting with my wife and two of our friends and we were all on a clunker of an old school bus back up to our starting point.  We were bouncing along a gravel road, recapping our adventure when the bus slowed.  I will be honest, my first thought was that the bus was not going to make it.  The driver announced we were picking up two more passengers that were not part of our group because it was “good river karma” to help out your fellow rafter/kayakers.  It is hard to say this was a life changing moment but it was definitely stuck with me through the years.

When I started running last year I tried to live up to the spirit of “good river karma”.  Saying “hi” to my fellow runners, making sure my Gu packets don’t end up on the ground and waving to cars that are kind enough to stop for me.  Basically I have tried to have good manners and show my thanks to others that exhibit them.  Once I started running in organized races (I am never really racing anybody but myself so using the word “race” always seems a bit off) I updated my terminology to “good race karma”.  It follows the same logic that we had on the bus that day.  If you look out for your fellow runners, the spectators on the course and most importantly the volunteers, you will bank some good race karma.  Here are some things I try to do:

  • Say thank you anytime I interact with a volunteer (packet pickup, water stops, bag check, finish line, police officers or other volunteers holding traffic and anybody trying to give me food or beverages after the race) always shocks me that not everybody is doing this.
  • High five kids along the route (not all of them if there is a big crowd and preferably the ones with gloves)
  • Try to respond to spectators cheering me on.  If you say “looking good runner(s)” I will mostly likely come back with “feeling good spectator(s)”.
  • Be respectful of the others runners space when possible.

This is not an exhaustive list, and I am always looking to add to it.  What to you do for “good race karma”?

I went out for my morning run in my new shoes!  I am trying out the Saucony Guide based on some recommendations.  I have been wearing a pair as walking around in shoes but never run in them, that plus they are substantially cheaper than the Trance 11’s I have been running in.  So we are giving them a go and my first impression was great!  They are lighter weight then and fit my feet well.  I did not have any new shoes issues like blisters or foot/ankle/knee pain.  I would not try to recomend shoes to anybody, because everybody is different, but so far so good for me. They are also way flashier then what I usually run in (see photo above with pair after pair of white/blue shoes).  I ended up with a color called ViZi Pro orange and I think the name accurately describes the shoe.

Have you seen my new shoes?  Yeah, you can’t miss them I guess.

Mankato Half Marathon right around the corner now.  Weather is looking great, and the course is looking fast.  I am feeling a slow, but with my banked good race karma, some additional high fives and well-timed “thank you’s” you never know.  Maybe I can knock out a fast time.

Everybody run!

Today everybody in my household that can run, did run (Haper is going to walk any day now, but not yet! Sweetie, no hurry really).  Elise went around the outside of the house a few times and also took a number of running jumps into our leaf piles.  She may have a future in the long jump, she really seems to be able to jump much further than should be possible with her little three-year old legs.

Jenn went out for a run before dinner and I got the late shift.  It has been a while since I ran at night and now I remember why I don’t.  It is past my bed time and I am not even a little tired.  I was up too late last night, drove 2.5 hours home from Northern MN (known locally as “up Nort”) did yard work (or built Elise long jump pits, depending on how you look at it) and now I am wide awake!  Oops!

The run itself was great (take that awful Friday run!)  Cool night, no traffic and surprisingly fresh legs.  I was out for about 5 miles for my warm up for the Mankato Half Marathon next week.  I held a good pace (for me) and felt strong all the way through to the end.  This is what running is about!  When things are going right you create your own breeze as your body cuts through the cool air surrounding you.  I don’t go fast enough to get that feeling all the time but it was there tonight. This is the kind of run you want to share with your friends, reminds you why you love running and makes you wonder why everybody doesn’t run.

Come on people, everybody run!

Back in the saddle again

After a lengthy 4 day layoff, I hit the street again this morning.  After running a marathon you may expect that running “only” a 5k would be easier (and less painful) than falling down.  But a great thing and an awful thing about running is,  no matter what happened last run you start over again every time out.  If you had the best run of your life on Sunday, that doesn’t mean your run on Thursday will be easy.  If you had a run through molasses that seemed like it would never end on Tuesday that doesn’t mean you Saturday run will suck.  It never runs itself, and you can never finish  your run based on reputation.

That was a long lead into a 5k this morning that on paper was easy; flat road, no expectations of going fast, no pressure of getting home quickly.  But, it never runs itself.  About a mile in I was actually wondering if I was still sleeping and having an awful dream.  My legs were churning but I didn’t feel like I was moving.  I thought I must have been running at least 30 minutes but I had only covered one mile (and it was only about 9 minutes).  It was, in a word, miserable.  It was the run that people go on and say “I hate running, why do you do that to yourself?”

I really didn’t know how long to wait before running again post marathon.  Clearly you need some down time, but how much?  I have heard: rest one day for every mile (26 days! really?) I have heard rest for a week after then “reverse taper” into your mileage.  I turned to the trusty google and found there is an article or training plan that will justify almost any number you are looking for.  So with this highly scientific research competed, I went with four days.  That might not have been enough?  Or maybe I just had a bad run.

That is one of the best things about running, I didn’t get injured, so when I go back out on Sunday it won’t matter that this morning was miserable.

Finishing a race makes you?

A)  Excited but ready for some well deserved time off!

B)  Depressed, I was looking forward to this event for weeks/months and now it is done.

C) PUMPED UP on an adrenaline high!  Let’s sign up for another race right now!  Like in three weeks!  Half Marathon, 10k, 5k – I’d do a toddler trot (and set a new PR), just sign me up!

D) None of the above

Remember the rules of multiple choice tests?  Always go with your first instinct and when in doubt answer C.  Well I am not in doubt and I will answer C, every time……. every time (my wife is somewhere nodding in agreement).  If I am in a race that means there is another race that needs to be signed up for, cue James Tolken as Stinger in Top Gun: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash”. (yeah I used that already, it fits better here and the rules of comedy says you can use something three times, just roll with it).  Absolutely, let’s review this further.

So after the Twin Cities marathon (October 7th) I already had on my schedule to run a Half Marathon, at the Mankato Marathon on October 21st.  This is my hometown race and I like to support it, plus we go to Jake’s Stadium pizza afterwards, my personal favorite pizza.  I have never found a place that I thought “yeah this is just likes Jake’s”, so when I get a chance to go, I take it and get a large (you  should go, and can thank me later).  Last year after completing the full Mankato Marathon I ate a full large by myself.   Really it happened!  There is video footage and everything.  This year since I am only running a half, I think I will only eat a full large by myself :).

To this I have also added the Monster Dash, Half Marathon on Saturday October 27th!  Why not!  You don’t need to be able to feel your legs in November!  Oh, did I mention I get on a plane to Iceland October 30th?  I didn’t.  Wait, who agreed to this?!?!  I did?  Really?  You don’t say, but have you seen the awesomely fantastic Monster dash half jacket you get?  Well, yeah I still need to finish……

The good news is my wife will be joining me for the Monster Dash half!  She has been training for a 10k and was not only crazy enough to let me sign up for a half, a week after a half, two weeks after a full (stay with me now, I got cookies in the oven I need to check on) but also crazy enough to agree to run it with me (thank you).  Also, costumes are encouraged for the Halloween themed Monster Dash so running crazy slow is no big deal if you have a reasonable costume to blame it on!  So I need a good costume idea, you have one for me?

And back to the top, finishing a race makes you?