Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coffee's Year in Review

Well I guess its that time of year that we bloggers do this sort of thing. I'm not one for breaking cliches so I guess I'll do it too. My goals for 2011 were simple. I wanted to 1) Run injury free, 2) PR all distances and 3) Run the Marine Corps Marathon.

I ended 2010 with 942 total miles, and a brand new, shiny marathon medal around my neck. I was invincible. Nothing could stop me. I was the king of the world. I completed a marathon.  Out of my way, the world is my oyster...

I could do ANYTHING

Yeah you heard me. ANYTHING. The rules did not apply to me. So after my first race in 2011 (The Greenville News Run Downtown 5K) I did what any reasonable person who just ran their fastest 5K ever on a 27 degree windy morning. I decided to run 17 more miles to make it an even 20 on the day. Marathoners don't just run a lousy 5K. They come out and PR it then run til their guts fall out, right?

How do you think that turned out?

a) Generally owned the 20 miler
b) Got through it but learned my lesson
c) Had to stop and take a 4 mile limp of shame back to my car because everything on my body hurt.
d) I'm still out there on the trail somewhere.

HINT: Just like on the SAT, take C!

The good news from this 5K (other than the PR) I got to meet a super cool local blogger, and we've become pals this year. Go check out the Palmetto Runner. He's about to run the Goofy Challenge! Yikes. This after already completing his first Ironman 70.3 this year.

My training leading up to the next race in February obviously didn't go that well. I thought I could just cruise through it...I mean it was only a 10 miler. (Reminder: I just completed a marathon wink wink)

Two miles into the race I felt the first twinges of my IT Band acting up. By mile 6 I had been reduced to a limp. This was one of the days I wish I had brought my phone. I wanted somebody to come pick me up. I persevered, and finished the race, but my "run injury free" goal was right out the window for 2011. Perhaps the biggest positive in this injury was that I become a close, personal friend with my foam roller. Sure he made me cry on a daily basis for about 2 weeks, but after that we've been BFF's.

Over the next couple of months I started rehabbing, vowing to come back better, stronger, faster..

We can rebuild him...
During my time off, I suppose I used my nervous energy to start a blog. That endeavor wasn't without its lessons as well. I think I honestly saw other people's blogs and thought, "Hey they have thousands of people following them. I can do that!"

Pfft..uhh yeah...see how that works out rookie.

Blogging is HARD. Coming up with stuff to write (let alone funny or worthwhile) is even harder. Doing it on a weekly/semi-weekly dare I say DAILY basis is just superhuman. I think I expected readers to flock here, and companies to flock here for me to give away their crap. That IS what happens on most of the blogs I read. Neither of which happened, and I think I'm ok with that now. Seems much more freeing to be able to blog when I want to, and not when I feel like I have to. If one day thousands of adoring fans start reading this, great! But if not, my wife says its a good time capsule for my kids to read about me one day. (Hi Kids! Dad loves you!)

Lets see what else...another one of my "informal" goals as I started back running was to run with a group and run some new routes. That was perhaps one of the most fulfilling experiences of the year. It really does help to get through the pain and anguish of a run by being with someone else. Misery DOES love company.

I think pretty much all the rest of the high points running were recorded on the blog this year. Here are a few of my favorites and race recaps, in case you wanted to check them out.

Boston Marathon Live Blog-This was a fun way to spend the morning. I think I'll do this again in 2012. Sure beats workin.
First race back from Injury
My First Trail Race
Spring Water 5K Race-First Age Group Win and current 5K PR
Why we Race-Francis Marion Half Marathon
Marine Corps Marathon Recap
Paris Mountain 20K Recap

The Tale of the Tape
1315 miles this year
4 Pairs of Mizuno Wave Rider 14's (one particularly red pair)
8 Races (3-5K's, 1-10Mi, 1-11K, 1-20K, 1-Half, 1 Full) That's a lot of weird distances
8 months in a row of more than 100 miles per month
Average weekly mileage 25.29 mi.
Zero time spent on a PT Table.
PR's in every distance attempted (even the 10 miler...since it was my first attempt at that distance)
Great experience at the Marine Corps Marathon
By nearly every measure a successful year of meeting goals, and learning about running in general.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned this year...I'm learning now, best summed up in a quote by marathon great Bill Rodgers:

You can't do another marathon until you've forgotten about your last.

Turns out, the Marine Corps Marathon is a fair maiden that is not too easily forgotten. That coupled with shorter days, less sunlight and the cold has made for a rough training cycle as I prepare for the Charleston full in January. My heart is just not in the training for Charleston, and I fear the results will show just that. But I'm committed, and I know that I will learn from the experience. Perhaps if I learn nothing else, it will be to truly HAVE FUN at a race with no time expectations.

Looking forward to 2012...Here are my goals....

  • Two Marathons in the calendar year (January and a Fall Marathon to be named MUCH later)
  • Run Streak-"5K a day in May" Stay Tuned
  • Relay Race-I really would like to do one of these 200 miler relay races. They sound like a great time. Just need to find 11 more people who want to do one.
  • Run injury free
  • Contract with a major running shoe manufacturer
  • World Peace
  • Qualify for the US Olympics in London
The goals get significantly harder as you read them. (Yes me qualifying for the Olympics is harder than attaining World Peace)

One more get my partner and inspiration back out on the road after a lengthy battle with Mr. Achilles
 Best of luck to all of you for a happy and prosperous 2012.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Toughest 20K in the Southeast

Yeah...I'm still here. Yeah I still have a blog.

It seems that I have gone into a bit of a running 'funk' since the Marine Corps Marathon. I've not wanted to run, and I certainly have not wanted to blog. Chalk it up to cold weather, the time change, darkness all the time, or just missing the marathon experience...whatever it is, its tough to kick. My old recipe for avoiding this slump was to schedule another race, but even signing up for the Paris Mountain Road Race, and Charleston Marathon didn't seem to pull me out of it. Go figure.

Don't get me wrong, I've still been running. In fact during the week of Thanksgiving I hit 52 miles, but it was a drudgery to get out the door and make it happen. I was able to run the Paris Mountain course on a couple of occasions, and I am SO glad that I did.

The week leading up to the Paris Mountain race, we had some rain around here, and if you know anything about me, the bed won't let me up if there is even a chance for rain. So knowing that the mountain was going to be pretty grueling, I had a bit of an un-intentional taper, carrying only 12 miles for the week into the race.

Packet pickup was on Friday, and Christy went to pick up my packet for me. Why not "our" packets you may ask? Well she is still trying to rehab her injured achilles. This will be the 23rd race I've done...and the FIRST without my partner and inspiration.

She picked up the my..ahem 'packet' and sent me this pic of my bib.

I have never seen a more plain bib before. I promise I didn't just print this on my printer.
Turns out there was no "packet", just a few race flyers and brochures. Oh and there was no t-shirt either. They hadn't come in yet, and we'd have to pick them up at the race on Saturday.

Even though I had run the mountain twice, I still didn't know what to expect with regards to a racing pace. Would it be like a half pace? Was that too ambitious based on the elevation profile? As the race got closer, I thought that if I could land somewhere between 8:00 and 8:15 pace I'd be happy with that. I know I keep referring to the elevation profile...perhaps I should show you.

For you cycling fans, this is the same mountain that the USA Pro Cycling Championships ride up and over in their race each year in Greenville.
We had nearly perfect conditions to race in. It was about 40 degrees and bright sunshine. We did have a bit of a breeze that turned gusty at times. I can thank my wife for helping me not to make a grave mistake and overdressing for the day. Thankfully I went with short sleeves and arm warmers for the start instead of the long sleeve, as it got a bit warm in full sun.

I had quite a treat for this race. Since Christy wasn't racing, she had all the kids in the van, and they were going to be my support and cheering crew! She walked me up to the starting line and soon I was off.
Fleet Feet Greenville did not provide any compensation for wearing this shirt, but if they see this and want to give me a pair of shoes, I'm not going to turn them down.
After the race began I had a funny thought as I looked at all the bibs. I thought, this might be the easiest race in the world to bandit. As I was about to die nearing mile 3, I asked myself, who would want to?

My cheering wagon showed up around mile 2.5, which was a welcome psychological boost. I think it helped me pass about three other runners, just by seeing them and hearing them cheer me on. The Track Club (race organizer) did a good job of having music BLASTING at the first water stop at the peak of Paris Mountain. You could hear it as you got closer, so with every step it got louder and more motivating.

With this terrain, you'd think that once you reach the peak, the hard part of the race is over. My quads would like to respectfully disagree with you. On the descent I made up a lot of time, but it came at a price.

I saw my cheering group again at mile 7 where the "mountain" is officially over.

Mile 7...I just got passed
At mile 7, this lady (Blue Hat henceforth) passed me...and would open up a significant lead on me. I realized that based on the numbers of who I passed vs. who passed me...I am much better on the uphills than I am on downhills. As Blue Hat would go down hills, she would extend a lead on me, and as we'd climb I'd close the gap. I thought I had lost her on a couple of occasions as she disappeared from sight, but she'd be there around the next bend. I made it my goal to catch her. As we passed mile marker 11 I pulled even with Blue Hat. We exchanged pleasantries, and how much we'd like to kill the race course designer.

I crossed the finish in 1:40:22. At the time I really wasn't processing what that meant. But it would have been just under 1:46 marathon. Considering my half marathon PR is 1:42 on a completely FLAT course. I was over the moon excited with that time. It made me feel great to know I was in good shape leading up to Charleston in 40 days.

On the race website, it said that finishers will earn their horns this year. I didn't know what that meant, but I speculated it would be a Viking type hat, while another runner speculated that they would give out medals with horns on them. I hoped for the latter. Guess who was right?

I finished 36th overall out of 137, and finished 4th in my age group..that is in a 35-39 age group. This race featured 10 year age groups...which I am never fond of, but definitely not a deal breaker.

After the race I looked for the food, and sadly found about 5 bananas, and a half eaten package of cookies. Apparently the 5K finishers ate VERY well, or the race was not organized well. I went to pick up my shirt, and they had given them all out because there was a large showing of race day registrants. Which of course reminded me of this.

Why would a race organizer give all the shirts to race day registrants knowing that the pre-registered racers had not picked up their shirts?!?

Without a T-shirt, without a race medal...What exactly did I pay for? No food, no shirt, no race packet....did my $40 bucks pay for a viking hat? I'm pretty sure I could get this thing at the Dollar store for about .99 cents. Look, I'm not expecting a buffet meal, but when you charge half-marathon prices for a race, you'd better have something more than a cookie. They've been running this race for 41 years...FORTY ONE'd think they'd have this kind of stuff worked out by now.

Unless I'm convinced that significant changes are made, this will be my last time at this race...but I can assure you not the last time on this course. The next time I need a "hill" workout...I know EXACTLY where to go.

All the race operation issues aside, it was a great day, and extremely fun to have my support team cheering me on. Our kids don't get to see us race very often, but it is so cool when they are there to cheer you through the finish!

Totally worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A very special episode of....

Remember in the 80's and 90's when sitcom's wanted to venture into more serious subject matter? I'm assuming these were always during sweeps weeks to drum up extra viewers. We'd inevitably see our favorite sitcom characters like ALF, Fresh Prince, Blossom or Steve Urkel in some jacked up, un-funny scenario.

If you're not a Gen X'er you probably missed all those character references.

I don't think blogs have sweeps weeks, but if they did, I would TOTALLY get my wife to guest star for that week.

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted her to tell her amazing journey of what it took to simply get to the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon. Her story is one of overcoming mental, physical and emotional obstacles; but more than that, it is a story about how running can truly help to change your life.

I am so proud of her, and I think she will be an inspiration to everyone who reads my blog, so I hope you'll take some time to read it. I hope you enjoy "A Very Special Episode of Coffee...on the Run"

I'll get you started...

God must have known I would need help deciding to take on the challenge of another marathon while the bad memory of my first one was still so fresh.  But honestly, I was borderline delirious when I agreed to it.  On the evening of February 22, 2011 I had an accident while biking with my kids.  I knew my collarbone was broken, and I had an appointment with my doctor the next afternoon.  Somewhere between the accident and the appointment my husband asked me if I wanted to run the MCM with him.  He pointed out it was eight whole months away, but oh, one more thing.  I had to decide right then because it sells out super fast!   Read More

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon Recap

Well since we last visited here on the blog on Saturday night it was snowing in Washington DC. I was checking the weather every five minutes, and had changed my mind for the 32nd time in 8 hours about what I was going to wear. Oh and I jotted down these benchmarks for a successful marathon.

Let's see how I did...shall we?

 1) Go out slow. Slower than you think, Coffee. Don't even think about pace til you top the "big hill" at mile 2.5. ACCOMPLISHED

2) Thank every single Marine for their service and sacrifice. Every. Single. One. ACCOMPLISHED

3) Enjoy the day. This race is the reward. ACCOMPLISHED

4) Finish Strong. The only thing that matters is the final 10K. ACCOM--err well, I'll let you be the judge of that.

5) Cry like a baby when that Marine Lieutenant puts that medal around your neck. When you've done something to earn a Marine's respect, you've done something. ACCOMPLISHED (Sorry Lieutenant...I hope those tear stains come off your uniform...)
We arrived into Washington DC on Friday to cool, but manageable temperatures. The first thing I noticed was a lot of wind a LOT of wind when we met our chauffeur at the airport curbside pickup.

This is only the beginning of our pampering by our host all weekend...
We went directly to the National Guard Armory and into the expo. Yamma Hamma what a line to get in. We got there just a few minutes early so we waited in RFK Stadium Parking Lot for a while. By the time we got to the Armory the line had subsided, and we went to pickup our bibs.

4 digits are lighter than those with 5 digits (less ink..less weight..faster times) so register early! haha
A few spins around the expo, which is now affectionately called "Trick or Treating for Marathoners". A few swipes of the credit cards and we were done. In my line of work, I'm used to trade shows being about marketing; at a marathon expo, everything is about SELLING...BUY NOW. I don't think I'm wired that way. While Kesha (our host) and my wife bought a few things, I couldn't help but think.."I could find that cheaper online." Oh, and I tried a different flavor of Nuun...I am still NOT a fan. I did have a chance to stop by and see my friends at Arctic Ease I may be in a promotional video too...I hope they edit out all my bumbling for words.

With the expo behind us we made a trip to my favorite burger place in Arlington. Ray's Hell Burger. If you're ever in the DC area, go check it out, the burgers are amazing.

Under that slice of cheese is a hunk of American Beef so big you'll not want to eat for days.
Our host had provided a great space for us, and had bottles of water for us everywhere. She didn't want us getting dehydrated before the race. Later Friday night we spent time with Kesha's family and had a big pasta dinner...time to carbo load!

On Saturday the plan was to go to the Kids Fun run back in DC where Kesha's daughter was planning to run.. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to dump wet snow on us instead. Nearly all day there was some kind of freezing precipitation coming down. The Kids run went on without us it seems....Rain or Shine! We passed the time on Saturday with a treadmill shakeout run, and a trip to town to eat/shop/do anything but think about the race. It was difficult however, as this is what we saw the entire time we were out...

Do you know how much of a panicked feeling you have seeing snow everywhere the day before your run? I trained in 80-90 degree heat with ridiculous heat indexes all summer....not snow/wind/ice. The weather reports said it would all be gone by Sunday morning, so we had to take them at their word. We watched Spirit of the Marathon (again) and hit the sack early for a 4am wake-up call.

At 5AM on Sunday it was plenty cold, and the wind didn't help matters either. We drove to the Falls Church Metro station and had to wait in the cold, cold concourse on the train. We were bundled up heavily, but there were some that were there in shorts and t-shirt...three hours before the race. I decided NOT to wear tights, and opted for shorts, a long sleeved compression shirt and my personalized shirt and beanie hat. But pre-race I had stitch of clothing I could find covering me.

The walk from the metro to the Pentagon was long, but it kept us moving. Space was plentiful, and so were the porta-potties at the Runner's Village near the Pentagon. Baggage check was efficient and easy.

TIP: On a cold/windy morning a Porta Potty is about the warmest place you'll find.

Soon, we had paratroopers falling from the sky, then a flyover by Marine Osprey aircraft and of course, the National Anthem. Drew Carey was somewhere on the microphone starting the race, but I never saw him. Once I got into my corral, I snapped one last photo...

The howitzer blasted, and we were off. It felt good to get running finally.

TIP: Although it is a great idea to bring clothes to shed at the start, you should throw them to the sides of the race course. Don't leave them in the middle of the road for people to trip over. This especially goes for the garbage bag people.

Goal 1: Start out slow. This was a bit easier than I thought. My feet were frozen so they didn't want to go anywhere, plus much of the beginning of the race is uphill. I was positioned in front of the 3:45 group to start, and wanted to keep in front of them, but less than a mile in they passed me. From here on I will affectionately call the 3:45 group "the blob". I would say there were 30-40 runners that were in this group, and they covered the entire roadway. The first time I encountered them, I had been in a bit of open roadway, and suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of the Indy 500. The blob passed me on all sides. They stayed so close, you couldn't break away, couldn't pass, couldn't do anything other than keep pace or get spit out the back end. Keeping my promise to go slow, I got spit out the back end, and vowed to keep the blob in my sights.

Mile 1-8:40-Not quite as slow as I wanted, but I'll take it
Mile 2-8:53-Better
Mile 3-8:21-Warmed up, and now on the big downhill.

The next several miles just seemed to click off quick. I know that sounds weird, but they really did. There wasn't much going on the course at this point, so it was just about keeping up with the runners around you. I was a bit concerned already that I had made a mistake by wearing the compression shirt. It was hot in the sunshine, but cold when the wind hit you.

Mile 4-8:03 More of the big downhill
Mile 5-8:19
Mile 6-8:23
Mile 7-8:34 On the last big incline for the day.

Soon we hit Georgetown and the George Washington University area. There were tons of support, and people were calling my name like crazy. I felt like a rock star. At one point a runner ahead of me shouted out "Who is Randy?" and I answered that I was. He chuckled and said his name was also Randy, and he couldn't figure out how all these people knew his name. As we left the GWU area, I finally passed the blob, after tracking them for several miles.

TIP: Put your name on your shirt. It makes all the difference in the world.

Mile 8-8:21
Mile 9-8:20
Mile 10-8:23
Mile 11-8:05 We hit the first crowds near the National Mall, and what a boost of adrenaline!
Mile 12-8:19

It was now time for the lonely trip out to Hains point, which I had been worried about. People had told me that crowd support was sparse, and it could be even more windy out there. The trip to the end was ok, and I just kept clicking the miles off, and I was feeling good. When we got to 13, I can't really explain what was waiting for us.

There was a cheering section that was as pumped and crazy as I have ever seen at any race. The only thing I can compare it to is watching those crazy crowds at the Tour de France every year. There was loud music, dancing, people in costumes, shouting, cowbells, high was simply amazing. The people at Lulemon Athletica Georgetown put on this display, and I have to say it was by far my favorite part of the course. It was simply amazing. If this blog somehow makes it to anyone who was a part of that group, please accept my dearest thanks! Pumped full of emotion and energy, its time for the trek back from the Point and into DC.

Mile 14-8:22
Mile 15-8:24
Mile 16-8:31

I'll say it was about here on Independence Avenue where I first started feeling the first twinges of something wrong in my stomach. The Mall was so crazy, and packed full of spectators, I can honestly say that I saw NO monuments other than the Capitol building. All I focused on was the crowd lining both sides of the street calling out my name. I think its tough try to see the sights...the crowd is just too big. I was looking at funny signs more so than looking at monuments!

Mile 17-8:33
Mile 18-8:35
Mile 19-8:36

Ok...something is definitely wrong. It was at this point that I told myself I would make a pit-stop at the first available chance, so I did. Unfortunately it didn't help. Well I should say physically it didn't help my symptoms to go away, but it helped me mentally know that I wasn't going to poop myself.

Mile 20-9:17
Mile 21-8:18 Rebound!
Mile 22-8:23
Mile 23-8:27

At this point I am still ahead of the Blob, but the abdominal cramps are hitting me HARD. I'm using every motivational quote, every thing I can think of to power through these things. There is plenty of crowd support in Crystal City, but its just not cutting it. I'm trying to press on my gut or find anything to give me relief.

I succumb to the cramps. I kneel at the side of the road, trying to recover. This is not something I planned or prepared for. I've never felt like this before. I look at my Road ID..."Pain is temporary...quitting lasts forever". Gotta keep moving. So I get up and start walking. No sooner than I begin walking, the blob passes. OUCH. There goes my "B" Goal of 3:45.

Mile 24-12:22 Honestly, this mile might be even longer because of autopause on my Garmin.
Mile 25-10:43

In these miles, I just kept moving more stopping. I could walk when I had to, run when I could. Just get this thing finished. Nothing I did seemed to provide relief.

Nearing Mile 25.5 crowds really started to pick up again, and I vowed to myself to run the rest of the way out. I had been told that you had to race up a steep hill, then the finish would be at the top. WRONG. You race up a steep hill, then take a hard right turn, and the finish line still looks forever away.

I was on empty, and hurting, but I wasn't going to stop at this point. I had to finish strong.

Mile 26-9:14

Finish time 3:54:30. This is a PR by 1:44 over my previous marathon.

Here is my finish video. You can see me enter the frame when the race clock hits 3:55:47 I'm in a red shirt on the left hand side of the course. When I cross, listen for a guttural shout about 3:55:55. That would be me. I don't recall making that sound.

The moment I crossed, I broke down into tears (its my thing apparently). I felt like I had nothing left to give. There was still a bit of a hike and some waiting in line to get my finisher photo, so I was able to compose myself for the pic...
For $39.99 for a single digital image, you'd think they could actually include the flag atop the Memorial, and fix the sign where there was no glare, right? Here's my finisher page with all the photos
On the walk to Rosslyn where the finish festival was held, I had some time to think and ponder....

On one hand..type A me is mourning the opportunity that just slipped away to hit my 3:45 goal. Had I been able to just lay down three 8:30 miles I would have still hit about an 3:43 marathon. Did I just squander an opportunity because I was too conservative with my on-course hydration/nutrition? Is that what just happened here? I didn't drink enough water? Really?

On the other hand, I'm thinking, all those problems I had and I still hit a new PR? I think that is a testament to my current level of fitness compared to Charlotte. And was able to do it on perhaps one of the greatest race courses in all of the sport? This was a very good day.

The attitude of the latter won out. I thought about the often used Confucius quote which says "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

And with that realization, this was a GREAT marathon. I wanted to take a hatchet to my PR, but a scalpel still did the trick. We can read, and talk and blog about everything in the world, but marathoning takes practice. This is only my SECOND one. I'm often in so much of a hurry to be "good at it" that I miss the lessons. Experience was my teacher, and I will take her lessons to heart. I am ecstatic over the finish, and the weekend as a whole.

"Congratulations on a job well done"~Marine Corps Lieutenant
I cannot thank everyone enough for the kind, encouraging words, both on the course, by text, by email, by Twitter by DailyMile and in person. None of this would be possible without our support team back home to keep the kids while we're out on marathon adventures.

Surely this trip wouldn't have been more fun without the hospitality of my friends Brett and Kesha Kingswell, and their adorable kids Kenzie and Carter...and my new friend Callie the Labradoodle. Their "extra mile" attitude and hospitality was overwhelming. We could have stayed at a 5 star hotel and would not have been better taken care of. I will forever be in a debt of gratitude to their family for taking in a couple of sweaty marathoners.

Christy and I at the Finish Festival with Kesha, our Hostess with the Mostest!
Lastly, a big kudos to my wife who overcame incredible adversity just to get to the starting corral and finish with a new PR of 4:41 herself. She is an amazing woman, and I hope she'll tell her story about her experience here soon.
Now...In the immortal words of Clark Griswold....WHERE'S THE TYLENOL?!?!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

To Do's For Tomorrow...

1) Go out slow. Slower than you think, Coffee. Don't even think about pace til you top the "big hill" at mile 2.5.

2) Thank every single Marine for their service and sacrifice. Every. Single. One.

3) Enjoy the day. This race is the reward.

4) Finish Strong. The only thing that matters is the final 10K.

5) Cry like a baby when that Marine Lieutenant puts that medal around your neck. When you've done something to earn a Marine's respect, you've done something.

I've done all I can do. The clock will take care of itself.

I can dress with what I have. The weather will take care of itself.

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Remember why you're here.

Sleep well marathoners.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Number 9032 in your program...Number 1 in your hearts

Well its here. This week my wife and I leave for DC to run the Marine Corps Marathon. Its hard to believe that I signed up for this thing in February! I've blogged before about obsessing about the goal so much you miss out on the journey. Today's run was really just about reflecting on the journey. I've met so many great new people this year both online and offline, and I really feel like I've grown as a runner. I've branched out and started running with a group this year and I have learned so much from those older than me in the sport.

I remember the first day I arrived, and met all the "old guys", I thought I would run their legs off. Turns out they nearly killed me. You'd think that giving up at least 20 years to these guys would be a benefit, but they all know what they're doing. They've all been to Boston and are willing to share their wisdom with me each week. Each week I've soaked it all up. I'm lucky to have such a group around here than I can run with and I'm glad they've welcomed me as one of them.

I feel stronger and more confident than I did going into the my first marathon, and I hope to glean a lot of benefit from better preparation going into the Marine Corps. (crossing fingers)

So with most of the training in the books, and the last week of the taper ahead, I'd just like to thank all of YOU for your comments, and interest along the way. It is humbling to be told that something I said inspired someone else...if that's all that ever comes out of this silly blog of mine, I'll be a happy man.

I know you're all wondering..."How can we follow your run on Marathon Day?", or "How can we be part of the action?"

I am SO glad you asked.

First off, if you are running the marathon, look for a guy wearing THIS...

I've heard that if you put your name on the front people will yell for you. Don't let me down people.
I hope to meet lots of my Twitter and Blogger friends that I've met along this journey to the Marine Corps Marathon while I'm in DC. I'll be number 9032, and be the guy dry heaving before the cannon fires.

For those of you who will not be in DC, fear not, there are lots of ways you can be a part of that ACTION!

If you want to track my whereabouts while on the course, the MCM allows you to get updates via text, email, Twitter or Facebook. You can do this one of 2 ways.
1) Watch for my 10K splits and finish times. They will be tweeted automatically. (If you don't Twitter, you can always sit right here and watch the Twitter stream widget on the right hand of this page------->>>> over there >>>>>.
2) Sign up for updates HERE Follow the instructions to sign up for updates by your preferred message.

If you want to WATCH in real time from various parts of the course... head on over to Those Marines are gonna keep a good eye on us!

Once the marathon is over, I'll be sure to post the link to all the pictures, as well as the finish line video. I hope I don't cry....or collapse....or vomit. I hope you'll take advantage of all these ways to be a part of the experience. Just knowing you're following along will push me harder!

Race Predictions
Some bloggers do this, some don't. I'm a newbie (at marathoning and at blogging) so I can feign ignorance. Maybe I'll regret it as some others have, but being accountable to goals is what's got me this far! Here's what I'm planning/expecting to do on marathon day.

"A" Scenario-The perfect day. Weather perfect, nutrition perfect, GI tract perfect. I think I can do a sub 3:40 marathon. I believe I have it in me. 3:39:59. If this is to hold up, my 10K splits you'll need to watch out for should be around 52:10

"B" Scenario-A good day, and my original goal plan/pace is sub 3:45. I'll be thrilled with this, and like I said, this was my original goal going into marathon prep. Time to watch for on the 10K splits: 53:21

"C" Scenario-Just PR the distance. That's anything less than 3:56:14. Time to watch for on the 10K splits: 56:01

And if I don't do any of the three above? Then thank the Good Lord that he's given me a healthy body that I can go out and push myself to do my best and just enjoy the experience and thank every Marine on the course for their sacrifice to our nation. I consider it a privilege to be able to run.

Thanks again everyone, and stay tuned to Twitter and the blog for more updates!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Journey of a Thousand Miles...

...begins with a single step.
~Lao-Tsu, Chinese Philosopher

My first step this year was on January 4th. It wasn't my hardest run or even my longest run.


Without the first step out the door in January, none of the other ones would have been possible. The cold runs, the hot runs, the recovery runs, the slow runs, the fast runs, the tempo runs, the track runs, the actual runs (runner humor)... None of it would have been possible without the first step.

Today I hit a milestone for the first time in my running life. I hit the 1000 mile mark in a single calendar year. I realize that today is not possible without all of the other days that I didn't want to get up, and get out the door.
But today's post isn't about me.Today's post is about YOU.

Yes YOU.

I speak to a lot of people who marvel at running 26.2 miles...the sheer audacity of the task. They say things like "Oh I could never do that." or "Why would you do that?" or (my personal favorite) "The only reason I'd ever run is if something was chasing me."

Allow me to answer those if I may.

To the "I could never do that" crowd. The moment that you tell yourself that you could NEVER do something you have assured yourself that you never will. You have placed upon yourself chains that will hold you down forever. Our words and thoughts have power over us. Much more so than our muscles do. When you free your mind to do amazing things, you can achieve them. Yes YOU. Practice this, not just in a physical endeavor, but in your work life, and in your family. Change the way you think and speak and eliminate the mental chains that are on you.

To the "Why would you want to run a marathon" crowd. In the immortal words of John F. Kennedy...(we run marathons)

...not because they are easy, but because they are hard..

There is nothing innately special about running an arbitrary distance. Nothing. Had Phidippides only run 10 miles from Marathon to Athens then collapsed and died, maybe we'd all be running 10 milers. Sometimes I wish he'd only run 10 miles. But what is so special about running any race in general is you are 1) Pushing yourself toward a goal 2) Improving your health 3) Boosting your confidence in every aspect of life. Running for the elites is about being physically stronger, fitter, faster. Running for everyman is less about the physical, and more about the mental and emotional. The combined efforts of every workout, every early morning wash over you like the tides as you cross that finish line, and you are overcome with a feeling that you rarely find anywhere else. Its a hurt, but the best hurt you'll ever feel.*

*from a guy who has never gone through childbirth

Lastly to the "I don't run anywhere unless something is chasing me" crowd. This is written to my former self. If you see yourself here...good. Do something about it. If not, just indulge me...

" don't look fat. You're tall and you can carry a few extra pounds. You eat garbage, and it is catching up with you. You weigh more than you ever have, and if you don't do something you're going to be on maintenance medicines like Lipitor and Blood Pressure medicine the rest of your life. You are letting your body waste away. Wake up and do something. No you can't run a mile without passing out. But just go and try. Try to walk. Do something. Even if you don't want to do it for yourself do it for the people who love you. The first step is the hardest. Stop masking your insecurity with humor. You will uncover relationships and connections with the runner community like you never thought possible. Just take ONE step out the door. It is the hardest one. Just one. See where it takes you..."
In my case, its now taken me 1000 miles in 9.5 months. I NEVER thought I could do it, but I'm sitting here as living proof to all of you...that if you just take the first step out the door....Oh the places you'll go!

Just take one step. Today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

21 more sleeps...

...til the 36th marine Corps Marathon.

It was February 23rd, and I sat eagerly by my computer, clicking refresh every minute to see when MCM registration would open. I was nursing an IT Band injury at the time, and knew I had to build a base (again) before I started preparing for the marathon. My initial goal was to build 20-25 miles per week consistently before I started my marathon plan. Which by the way, I had no clue which plan I was going to approach.

Since then I've found out about a guy named Pete Pfitzinger, and learned how he hates my legs so much that he wants them to fall off every week.

Since February, I have run 860 miles, some good days, some bad days. Some missed workouts, some new PR's. All in all, I'm feeling as fit and strong as I have since I began running over 2 years ago. It all culminated with my biggest training run yet :25 miles. Pfitz doesn't ask you to run 25...but I promised myself in the last 10K of the Thunder Road Marathon, that I would not run less than 25 on my next marathon.

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to run 1000 miles this year. Barring a tough week, I should hit 1000 miles after my run on Saturday. Last year I hit 942 miles, so I'm very excited to have the opportunity to hit this milestone this week.

All of it, every single mile, culminating three weeks from now in Washington DC. One of my running friends on Twitter likened waiting on a marathon to waiting on Christmas as an 8 year old kid. Its a perfect analogy. Watching the Ironman World Championships on Saturday, then the Chicago Marathon on Sunday only got me more fired up to run. When they sang the National Anthem at Chicago, I was ready to run through a wall!

Unfortunately today wasn't all motivation and excitement about Chicago. This afternoon I heard about someone who collapsed just shy of the finish line and later died. The runner was a 35 year old firefighter who had run at least one other marathon before (from what I can tell on Athlinks). It's one of those things that is a sobering thought...we fret about paces and nutrition and what to wear...yet here's a guy who was raising money for kids who have been burned in fires...a guy who went to work every day to serve people as a firefighter...and he just suddenly collapses. A perfectly healthy guy...could have been any of us. Just a terrible tragedy and a loss for the running community.

Things like this help to see the big picture and will help to keep things in perspective during the upcoming taper. I just hope that something good will come of his passing, and others will be inspired by his service and willingness to give back to those less fortunate. I pray that God's grace and comfort will be with the family in trying to make sense of this tragedy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Coffee...on the Fam

I think I've got to break out of the "every blog post has to be a literary masterpiece that goes on for about 4 scrolls of the web page." Of course that begs another question...have I produced any literary masterpieces yet? I'm betting Dr. Clairborne, my college English professor would She hated my overuse of commas. You probably do too.

Yesterday marked a significant day in my life. Sixteen years ago I married the love of my life, and by some odd stretch of cosmic fate, she's still stuck around this long. I gotta give her credit, I think her being able to stand my very existence probably says a lot more about her patience and grace as a woman than it does my efforts as a husband. I never did learn to put the seat back down. Most days I still don't pick my clothes up out of the floor. For whatever reason she's hung around this long, I'm forever grateful. Without her, I'd literally only be half a person. Probably a hermit living in a cave somewhere eating bowls of cereal (lots and lots of cereal...and not Kashi either). I know this...I would have NEVER picked up running had she not signed up for a race. She has been, and continues to be an amazing inspiration to me. Maybe I'll have her to a guest blog to let her tell her story on training for MCM. It's been quite a journey. So I guess you can blame her for the running monster that I've become. Happy 16th Anniversary Christy...I love you.

Speaking of her inspiration, my son who is 10 participated in his very first Triathlon last weekend. He's a competitive year-round swimmer, so we knew that wouldn't be much of a chore for him, plus he rides his bike most days.Our only concern was with his running ability. He's run with his mom and I on some slower recovery runs and has struggled at times.

The Triathlon was a 100 yard swim, 3.1 mile bike and 1/2 mile run. He did really well on the swim, and he said he felt really good on the bike as well. He said the run nearly killed him. It was a two lap circle of the soccer fields at the YMCA, so I ran the 2nd lap with him to try to encourage and not allow him to stop and walk pace him in. When he finished, he literally wouldn't talk to us for 10 minutes. Not because he was mad...he was completely wiped out. It was extremely gratifying to see him put so much into something and try his very best.

Ready to hit the water

T1=That's Triathlete lingo for Transition Area One.
On the home stretch on his carbon fiber triathlon bike...oh wait, that's a 40 pound mountain bike. Sorry.

After the race...The half smile and thumbs up were coerced.
He was 18th out of 58 overall, but he was happy that he was 1st in his age group in the swim, and 8th in the swim overall. Much to the chagrin of triathletes everywhere, he said that the swim was the easiest part. I could not be prouder of him. His 7 year old sister wants to do it next year. Maybe instead of a college fund we should start a triathlon bike fund for these kids.

As for me, I got back on track this week. I hit all my workouts and completed a 20 miler this morning. I felt pretty good, with the normal ups and downs, but I felt like I fueled well so I think I've settled on nutrition plan for the marathon, which is now...29 DAYS AWAY!!!!! I am exactly one week away from the taper.

I don't say it enough, but I want to thank everyone who reads and comments (both online and offline) on this blog. I hope its brought motivation, inspiration and humor to your lives. I hope I can continue bringing it...or rather start bringing it at some point in time.*

*not guaranteed to ever bring it

Monday, September 26, 2011

The tale of the Milk Carton Runner

Missing for nearly two weeks.
I'd like to direct your attention to a couple of my most recent blog posts, one called Happy Little Accidents, and the other called Why We Race. These were perhaps the most gratifying and confidence-inspiring moments of my marathon training program. Being able to executed Yasso 800's at sub-goal pace, then followed immediately by a PR at my half-marathon tune up race had me in a great place mentally for the remainder of the marathon training.

Since that half marathon performance however, I've gone missing. Here have been my workouts:

9/13-Run through sickness" on my 12 mile run-only made it 6.5 miles
9/14-Sick with fever-supposed to run 6 miles

9/15-Sick-supposed to run 12 miles

9/17-Ran 17 of 20
9/18-Ran 5 of 5 Recovery
9/20-Up til 4am with a family member facing stage 4 cancer. Missed 8mi run

9/21-Rain (dainty flower) missed 11mi run.
9/ 4:45am? Yes. 9mi missed
9/24-Ran 12 of 17
9/25-Ran 5

In case you went to school in South Carolina, I've run 46 miles over the past two weeks, less than what I should have run in one single week at the PEAK of my marathon training. I am incredibly frustrated and mad at myself. Could I have rescheduled workouts from the morning to the afternoon or evening? Probably. Could I have run on a treadmill? Definitely. Did I? No.

In fact, I started my run on Saturday with all this garbage in my head, and it kept flowing non-stop. It was pitch-black dark outside (darker than normal) and nearly every possible negative thought that a marathoner can think went through my head..

"Why am I doing this?"
"Why am I up so early?"
"I don't have enough time to train for a marathon."
"Maybe I don't have what it takes...."

"Maybe half marathons are all I'm cut out for..."
"You're a fraud."
"What kind of a run blogger doesn't run?"
"You suck at this."

Wash....Rinse....Repeat. For 12 miles.

Is it any wonder I didn't make it any farther? It hit me while I was walking to cool down...

I let my yesterdays define my todays.

Remember the blog where I said that running was 90% mental? Instead of approaching the workout as a new day to start my marathon training, I approached the run encumbered by all this baggage of how much training that I've missed over the past two weeks. Let me tell you that's a lot to carry for a dozen miles. Some of this I couldn't help, some was self inflicted, all of it is real life. You can't help getting sick, you can't help family issues, you can help how you react...and let me tell you I've not reacted well.

I'm not an elite athlete. This is supposed to be FUN.

I completely lost sight of that fact.

So, I have a decision to make. There are 34 days left. What am I going to do with those 34 days? I can keep lugging around the baggage, and keep asking myself all of those negative questions OR I can put the missed workouts behind me, and approach the rest of them with a positive outlook while enjoying the remainder of the journey.

Tomorrow is a brand new day....I choose to treat it as such.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why We Race

So I suppose I'll soon need to turn in my blogger badge and credentials for not posting this week. I know my throngs of adoring fans have probably been waiting on pins and needles just to hear how the Francis Marion Dirt Dash Trail Half Marathon went last weekend.

Before I speak about the half, let me give some background on where this week has gone. I didn't have time to do much on the blog while in Charleston, and when we got back, it was late Sunday night. Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat which worsened through the day. Tuesday I woke up and decided that I would just "run through it", so I set out for my 12 miler. I made it about 6.5 miles in before I figured I'd soon be a lifeless lump on the side of the road, so I had Christy come and pick me up. When we got home I found out I had a fever, which continued throughout most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday. I felt better on Wednesday night and wrote this blog.

Well not THIS blog. When I came back on Thursday evening to edit it and send it out, I did some kind of voodoo magic erasey thing...then decided to hit the back button on my browser. Much to my chagrin Blogger saves everything almost instantly...even mistakes, and my wonderfully written blog post that would have changed the world was gone FOREVER.

So it is Saturday morning, exactly one week after the half, and here I am...writing it (again).

You may remember that I was looking for a "tune up" run before the Marine Corps Marathon, and had toyed around with this one as we have some good friends who live near the course in Mount Pleasant. What put me over the top on it though was another one of our dear friends said that she had picked it out as her first half. That was all I needed to hear. Its officially a couples weekend in Charleston! woohoo.

Avid readers of the blog and of DailyMile will remember my friends who are running their fist half marathon. Jacci and Greg are the angels who appeared at mile 16 of the Thunder Road Marathon to bring me a PB&J and cheer Christy and I on to our very first marathon. It was such a treat to be able to return the favor and be with them as they took on their first half.

When we left on Friday we thought it would be fitting to do something to let everyone know what we were up to...
 I'm "Forrest"...a little humor from my wife
We got a bit of a late start, and our friends in Mt. Pleasant picked up our bibs for us. She also had a great pre-race dinner waiting for us too. You can't get that kind of service at a hotel! We all settled in for the early morning wake-up call.

I got up at 4:45 to do my typical pre-race routine..shower, eat breakfast then dry heave til I get to the race. Check! I tried to put on a brave face for the first timers, but it certainly seemed that I was more nervous than they were. We arrived at the Francis Marion National Forest and parked. We then took a bus, then a golf cart just to get to the starting area. By the time we arrived at the starting area we had about 45 minutes before the race kicks off. Now I should say that in the middle of the forest it is a.) very dark and b) very quiet. The complete darkness made using the portable toilets a bit of an adventure.I don't like using those things anyway...but in the dark, it ratchets up the skeeve factor about 1000%.

It was about this time that I discovered that I had left my carefully concocted nutrition handheld in the refrigerator back at the house. (you see? this is why I dry heave) Greg handed me a bottle of water he had, and I figured I'd carry it, and figure something out on the course.

We wished each other well and got ready for the start. My goal was a sub 1:45, as my previous half PR was 1:46:07 on a road course. I didn't know what to expect, other than this course was flat...really flat. Most of the race was run on fire service roads, so you could see forever down these straight paths. Less than .5mi was actually run on what most people would call "real" trails. I settled into a 7:30ish pace and I felt like I could hold that for a while. It wasn't long before I was completely alone. Nearing the 2 mile mark I came upon the first aid station. They advertised that they'd have Hammer Heed (Gatorade like drink) Hammer Gels, and Water. I asked the attendant for the Heed, and he handed me a gel pack. (sigh) While running I looked at the back of the pack and decided just to squeeze the contents into the bottle and let the chips fall where they may. The flavor was chocolate...what was in my bottle looked....uhh...gross.

I couldn't believe how great I felt. I was holding a sub 7:45 pace and felt like I was just cruising. The Hammer Gel was doing well on my stomach, so that was an amazing relief. I was starting to get tired near the end, and was counting down the minutes til the end when I passed the 12 mile marker. Unfortunately my watch said I was at 12.25. I was REALLY hoping that sign was wrong. As I neared the finish I could make out 1:41 was nearing 1:42, so I really started sprinting, as my new goal was to break 1:42. Fortunately I did. My time was 1:41:54 for 13.26 miles.

Now you should know, that I have never run that fast, that far...EVER That is an extremely good feeling to have to build confidence for this marathon.

When I crossed, they gave my my....uhh...medal?


Why yes, that is a thin slab of pine with a rubber stamped image on it tied to a string. I can tell you're a real connoisseur of the finer things. I'm all for different and funky medals, but geez louise...

My disappointment with the medals aside, my job has now turned from runner to chief motivator and cheerleader for those remaining on the course. So, with my belly full of watermelon (which is a GREAT post race food by the way) bananas and water, I start looking for my friends. Christy, Greg and Jacci have stayed together all doing the Jeff Galloway method of Run/Walk/Run, so I am able to send and receive texts with Christy while she's on the course to find out how things are going and where they are. Around mile 10, Greg broke off from them to finish the rest of the race running, and he looked like he had just finished a morning jog, not a 13 mile run through the woods!

I looked like I had been beaten for 6 days after my first half marathon..this guy looks fresh as a daisy.
Greg told me after my marathon that I had inspired him to run a half. He's had a LOT to deal with this year, not to mention working crazy police officer shifts and all kinds of private event security jobs, but still found the time to dedicate to running. I can't tell you how proud I am of him.

In just a bit we saw our ladies on the horizon...they were all smiles as they crossed as well. Jacci had battled through stomach pain for about 5 miles, but Christy helped her to keep her mind off the pain by providing comic relief, or just talking nonsense to her. Jacci kept pushing on anyway, absolutely willing herself to the finish. Here is the picture just after she crossed.


People may ask you, "Why do you do run?" "Why do you put your body through that?" Those people may never know the feeling in this picture. Its that feeling that you have overcome so many obstacles, the hard training days, the early mornings, the bouts with potty breaks, the injuries, the good runs and the bad. Not to mention all of life that still goes on while you're training. Its that feeling of setting and achieving an impossible goal for yourself. A feeling of being so exhausted inside both mentally and physically, but so joyful inside. Its a feeling that you just can't get on a training run.

It is this picture. This is why we do it.

I'm just so glad that I got to share in the journey.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy little accidents...

Do you ever remember watching this guy on Public TV?

Sometimes I wish I had an afro.
He'd come on Saturday around noon...I seem to remember it was somewhere between cartoons and either college football or college basketball. In any case I'd have about 30 minutes to kill flipping around channels. Inevitably I'd come across Bob painting some landscape masterpiece and I'd be drawn in like a moth to a flame. Bob had this saying when he was painting that would appeal to the novice painter to reassure them and help their creativity. He'd say "we don't make mistakes...just happy little accidents." Then he'd turn some random red streak down the entire canvas into a house or tree or sunset.

No, I'm not suddenly turning this running blog into content about painting landscape motel art. Today I had a "happy little accident".

I've not done any track workouts in the buildup to the marathon, and I can't say that I've missed it, but I have wanted to get out there and test my fitness with some Yasso 800's. Yasso 800's are simply 10x800m around a standard track with a 400m recovery jog between each 800. If you'd like to run a 4 hour marathon, complete each 800m in 4:00 minutes. Do this 10 times and you should be in shape to hit your goal time. My goal time is 3:45, so I'd need to do all of my 800's as closely to 3 minutes and 45 seconds as possible. Simple, right?

Today's Pfitzinger workout called for 8 miles with 5x600m at 5K race pace (7:00 min/mi). So I figured it would be a good day to do my Yasso's instead.

This morning I wake up and I'm thinking about the workout, and thinking that I should be running the 800's at an 8:30 pace. (8:35 is the goal pace for a 3:45 marathon. Who knows where I got 8:30 mind doesn't work first thing in the morning). An 8:30 pace is a 4:25 800m which would equate to a 4 hour 25 minute marathon which is slower than I wanted.

I then remembered my Pfitzinger plan to run the 600's at my 5K which equates to an 3:30 800m.

As you can see, my mind is all over the place AS I"M RUNNING TO THE TRACK.The irony is, Yasso's are designed to be so simple, yet I've done all these stupid computations in my head, and I'm going to kill myself on the track.

Quick recap: 4:25 too slow. 3:45 target. 3:30 is too fast and what I have in my mind I'm supposed to run. I should probably start writing this stuff down. I don't trust myself in the morning.

I do my first 800m. 3:32. Not bad
I do my second 800m 3:31 Still feeling good.
3rd 800m 3:26 Nice!

It is at this point I realize out that I'm supposed to be running a 3:45 800m..not a 3:30. (for the uninitiated 15 seconds is a big deal to my legs/lungs)

Decision time, do I slow up and do the 3:45's or see how many 3:30's I can do? Is this a mistake, or a happy little accident?

Do you know me at all? What do you think testosterone drove me to do? "See what you can do Coffee-boy!"

4th-3:29, 5th 3:32 Halfway there...maybe I can pull this off.

6th-3:29, 7th 3:28 Still feeling like I have my legs under this really happening right now? My confidence is growing with every single lap.

8th 3:30, 9th 3:30 One've got one more...push

10th 3:24!!! Ok I got a little excited towards the finish and pushed even harder.

To those of you who have stuck through this blog so far, wading through the numbers, let me say I am ECSTATIC! I know this doesn't necessarily guarantee me of a marathon in the 3:30 range, but it is a HUGE confidence boost to let me know that I'm in the ballpark for sure.

Remember the blog about "Running is 90% mental?" This is an amazing confidence booster for me, and it certainly helps me think that a 3:30 at Marine Corps is certainly possible. I am so glad I screwed up the times today...I may have never known what I had in me.

Have you ever had a happy little accident while running? Tell me about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The wildest thing I've ever done...

Do you remember your first 5K race, or first "big" race. Do you remember seeing those runners at the front of the pack and seeing their wild looking shoes for the first time? While my shoes where predominantly white, or gray...sometimes with a highlight of red or blue, theirs were flamboyant orange or safety green or glow in the dark yellow. Sometimes they combined all of these colors into a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colors.
If you are ever hit by a car with these shoes, you get your money back.
I wondered what was wrong with those people. Where did they even find shoes like that? I suppose I was still not truly in the "runner's" mindset yet. You see I had always purchased shoes to coordinate with casual wear...something that would look ok to kick around in. Even when I bought my "first" pair of real running shoes, I still wore them for both running and casual activities.

Now that I have a backlog of about a half a dozen shoes with 500+ miles on them, I never wear my running shoes for anything other than running, and I have plenty of sensible, boring, comfortable shoes to kick around in. Readers of this blog may know that I am partial to the Mizuno Wave Rider 13, 14...and know that they typically look like this.
ZZZZZ...BO-ring...but they get the job done.
While flipping through a few webpages, looking for a good price on my next pair of shoes I came across a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 14's that caught my eye...
TA-DA...How you doin'....
Now, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall in my brain. It went something like this...

Conservative Randy: You can't pull those off
Runner Randy: Dude, those are sick!
Conservative Randy: They look like Dorothy's shoes from the Wizard of Oz
Runner Randy: They're RED perfect color to run the Marine Corps Marathon in
Conservative Randy: No no no, just get the white ones with the red tint...its a perfect compromise.
Runner Randy: Compromise sucks. We've had it your way our entire lives.
Conservative Randy: You know they are not any faster than the white ones.
Runner Randy: Tell that to the cops who pull over red sports cars all the time, bub.

Well guess who won? I placed the order with Running Warehouse and they should be arriving tomorrow. I have about a week and a half of marathon training before I'll start breaking the red ones in, and they'll carry me through Marine Corps (which is 60 days away).

You know if this is the wildest thing I've ever done...the sky is the limit from here.

PS: While shopping I've discovered that Mizuno is discontinuing the Wave Rider 14's and will be launching the Wave Rider 15's...Seriously? I'll never understand why shoe companies don't leave well enough alone. The 14's have only been out for a year. (sigh)

PPS: If you're looking for discounts on running gear check out my friend The Run Gear Guy he typically has all kinds of coupon codes and discounts on your favorite running gear. I used a 10% off code at Running Warehouse from his site. Check him out!

What's the wildest shoe color you've ever seen on a runner? Do you tend to be more or less conservative with your running shoe choices? Do red shoes actually run faster than white ones?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary Running!

Today was a big day.

Oh I don't suppose it started out being that way, and I definitely didn't expect it to be anything special...but life can be a bit unexpected sometimes I suppose.

In 2009, an out of shape 30 something used to say "the only reason I'd ever run is if something was chasing me". I guess you could say that hypertension started chasing him, and he began walking, then walk/jogging, then walk/running. This went on for a couple of months until his wife told asked him to run the 2009 Spring Water Festival 5K with her. He thought it would be a one time event. He thought he was just doing her a favor. He was dead wrong. He ran that race in just over 30 minutes, and the crowd cheering at the end was so amazing he had to experience that feeling again.

That in a nutshell is my story. Now, dozens of smaller races and a marathon later I return to that same race for the third time. I think it will always be on my race schedule. It holds a special place in my heart, and it always feels like "going home" to race. It is my official start of the fall/winter racing season.

This year I haven't been focused on running fast. I've not done any speedwork at all; I've simply been putting miles in...a lot of miles. Coming to today's race, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Should I try to PR? Am I putting my marathon training at risk by running hard? Should I just have fun? Can I have fun, set a PR and not get hurt? If so, that would be the perfect race!

Today I had the perfect race.

Race day starts out much the same for me, regardless of the distance of the race. I get so nervous and worked up, I start dry heaving...pretty much from the time I leave the house until I get to the race course. My wife laughs every time. I suppose you'd think I'd get used to it by now, but I haven't. Today I made myself sick before the was awful (Twitter followers know what I mean).
I got to the course, and got our bib and packets. I took a look at our t-shirts

I cannot convey how eye-bleedingly fluorescent lime/yellow this shirt is. But it's PERFECT for a runner who runs in the dark, right? Uhh it's cotton. Where am I going to wear a fluorescent yellow cotton shirt? I guess I can direct school traffic one morning. Or help airplanes land...maybe serve as a lighthouse on the coast...

I warmed up and was feeling pretty good, still not knowing what my legs had in store for me. I made my way to the start line, and we were off. Feeling good, downhill start...check Garmin...6:45 pace...AWESOME! Right where I want to be. First incline, legs felt remarkably strong and I good passed lots of people. (Historically I've passed lots of folks early in the race, and they passed me back later on as I faded.) Recovered a bit on the downhill and hit 6:43 pace for my first mile. I started up the second incline on the course, and passed a few more folks..(my legs feel really good...this is an odd feeling) I hit a bit of a lull coming into the 2nd mile. I was running alone, and got lost in thought a bit, so I'm sure I gave up some time, but I probably needed the break to breathe. I hit the water station, nearly choked when water went up my nose. (two years in and I still can't drink water out of a paper cup). Most of the last mile was downhill, so I was able to make up a bit of time. I crossed as my Garmin said 21:50, which would have been a 5 second PR from my last 5K race in Downtown Greenville in January. My official time wound up being 21:53. A 2 second PR, and 29 seconds off of my time at this course last year.

I'm particularly excited about these two seconds because the conditions could NOT have been more different at these two races. For the Greenville Downtown was 27 degrees, nearly no humidity and a chilly wind. Today it was 72 degrees 90% humidity and no wind to speak of. It feels good to be able to run this kind of speed in the heat and humidity.

I felt great...but the cherry on the top of my day?

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I am now an age-group WINNER. An amazing, and unexpected present for running to give me on our 2nd anniversary. I knew I loved running...I just didn't know that it loved me back so much!

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't share the moment with one special lady who drug me into this...and give her a huge shout out. My wife...after all her injuries over the past 10 months or so obliterated her 5K PR by nearly a minute! She came in 3rd in her age group! Way to go Christy!

I'm sure I've gushed too much and for far too long, but I'll leave you with this thought...that you'll hear me say over, and over and over on this blog. YOU...CAN...DO...IT! If I can, anybody can. If you can't do it by yourself, I'll help you. Running will change your life...and her gifts on anniversaries aren't too bad either.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Running is 90% Mental...the other half is physical"

I hope Yogi Berra doesn't mind if I take a bit of liberty with his quote about Baseball. The more I run, the more I realize just how much it is a mental game.

No no, not in the way that you may be thinking. I'm not being one of those arrogant guys who say "if you just tell yourself you can do it, then you can do it." I'm saying that despite all your best efforts at training, and how great your legs may feel, or how many times you've done the distance...there is ALWAYS...ALWAYS that voice inside you that says..

"Why don't you just quit."

When you really boil it down, that is truly the essence of distance running. The mental wrestling match that takes place that takes place when you are running on a 20 degree day and want to stop at mile one. Perhaps its the still small voice in your head that keeps repeating itself at mile 5 because you've never been over five miles before. For you marathoners, maybe its mile 20 when you hit the wall.

It doesn't matter when it happens, or your skill or distance level, you will only ever be as good as you can win the wrestling match with that voice. Today he spoke to me a lot. Mile get the idea. Honestly he wouldn't shut up until around Mile 16. That was the point that one or more of the following 3 things happened.

1) We got off that boring Swamp Rabbit Trail and my mind woke up.
2) The GU Espresso Love Caffeine kicked in
3) I could smell the finish (only 16-18 minutes remain Coffee)

In any case, my legs rebounded with energy I missed for miles and I was able to hit paces I had not in several miles, even with tired legs. Why? I had won the battle with that voice. My legs weren't tired, my mind was tired. I won today's battle with the voice, but I know he'll be back. Probably first thing Monday morning.

You can win it too. Prepare yourself to meet him, have plenty to say back, and most importantly don't give up. He'll eventually leave you alone...well at least for a few miles. Now go kick his butt.

Quick important sidebar...if the voice says anything about having to're not going to win that one. Find a restroom...quick. Trust me on this.