"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back On My Feet

It's been a while and I have a lot of catching up to do. Once of these days I'll get to it.

I caught this on TV a few minutes ago, though, and it really caught my attention. Ingriguing is the word that keeps coming to mind. I'm not sure why yet though. It's only set up out in Baltimore and Philadelpia right now, but seems like a good cause. Take a look...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Run Like Hell! Bend Half-Marathon Recap

Lots of question marks heading into race last Saturday. Among them:

What would the weather be like? All week there was the potential for rain, perhaps even some snow, wind gusts, sun, and temperatures anywhere from 42-58 degrees.

What would the course be like? The available map wasn't too detailed and wasn't much help in getting an idea of what things would be like. An employee at the store where we checked in did say it was a fast course, with a little bit of incline in the first half but overall fairly flat.

What role (if any) would the elevation play? I live at 150ft elevation. Bend is at 3600ft. Not a huge difference if you're going be watching a movie, shopping, eating etc. Running? It was a complete wild card and I had no way to judge how my body would handle it.

Friday night as we pulled into town, checked in and went to dinner the weather was near perfect. 60 degrees, clear, a slight breeze. There were storms in the area though, and it was evident as I stepped outside the hotel lobby at 6:30am Saturday morning. The pavement was wet and there was cloud cover. More noticeable was the sustained wind and the occasional gusts sweeping through the parking lot. As the morning went on (race didn't start until 10am), the skies cleared, but the wind increased.

I felt good as I arrived at the starting line. I had gotten the rest I needed, had kept my diet to only those things I know work best for me and had put in the miles to be as prepared as possible. I had a 4-stage race plan I felt was more than attainable based on my training runs and knew what I wanted to do.

There were about 150 of us that started the race. The first 1/2 mile as up an incline and I knew immediately that I felt different. And not in a good way. For everything I had done right to prepare myself, I could tell immediately that my legs felt tired and heavy. Not a good feeling to have in the first mile. I focused on getting into a rhythm, steadying my breathing and settling into the pace at which I wanted to run the first 3 miles.

At the 3 mile mark I wasn't feeling any more energy and was struggling to keep the pace. At this point the course started to take us out of town and into the high desert country. With this transition, the wind kicked up, gusting more frequently in my face. At about the 4.5 mile mark we started to climb a hill. This must be what the guy was talking about, I kept thinking. Try to settle in, get through the hill and then stretch out and just run the last 5 or 6 miles.

Well we climbed. And climbed. And climbed. And then we kept climbing. For roughly 5.5 miles we climbed hill after hill, only occasionally getting 100 yards or so of leveling out before starting the next climb. There was nothing but tumbleweed to block the wind and so we bore the brunt of every gust. It was actually pretty miserable and there came a point at about mile 9 when my focus turned to just finishing.

The last water stop was at the 10.5 mile mark. I wasn't hurting from a physical standpoint, but I had zero energy left and was dragging one foot in front of the other. I wasn't sure how spent I was until I grabbed a cup of water and started to walk while I drank it. Problem was, I couldn't walk. My legs just wouldn't do it. I staggered a bit before giving up on walking and started running again, a motion that didn't make me want to fall over.

At 12.5 miles, I did something I've only done one other time during a run: I stopped. After an hour and 45 minutes my body simply wouldn't go any further. My feet had been dragging on the ground for about a half-mile, no energy left to even pick up my foot for each step, when I came to a wooden post sticking of the ground (we were on a trail at this point). Without even realizing it, I found myself leaning on said post. I gathered myself for a few seconds, told myself to get up and finish, and started running again.

The running was short-lived though, as I had to stop again a couple hundred yard later. This time, I walked through a tunnel going under the street above before running the last 1/4 mile to the finish line. For what it's worth, I had two people trying pumping hard to catch me in the last 75 yards. I'm happy to say that I mustered enough to hold them both off.
Immediately post-race, I was pretty dizzy and seeing lots of large black spots. After a few minutes though I was fine. Three days removed from Saturday I feel fine. I didn't have any muscle soreness, knee pain or anything. I woke up the next morning and felt fine. That said, I think the biggest factor was the altitude. The effect of a decrease in oxygen to my blood and thus, to my muscles was something I wasn't prepared for. I didn't particularly like the course either, and it's probably not one I'll run again.

At the end of the day, I finished in 1:54:47. That's just six minutes slower than the Champoeg Half-marathon I did in September. Given the wind, the altitude and the course, I'll take it and move on. Now to find a flat course at sea level....

(on the right, with my dad -- it was his first half-marathon)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nike Human Race 10k Recap

In case you missed it, yesterday was dubbed "The Day the World Runs" by Nike. In short, they want as many people using their Nike+ gear to run a 10k on that day and upload the data for a sort of world-wide race. Last year had something like 780,000 participants around the world. They encourage you to run a 10k wherever you happen to be if you're not anywhere near one of their official race locations. Kind of cool I guess.

Portland happened to be one of the official locations, so at 6:15 on a Saturday morning, my parents and I made the trek up to Niketown, where the race would begin. Walking into the store we were treated to a spread of food (I'll take some after the run, thanks though) and a free Nike Dri-fit shirt. Around 8am the guy in charge gathered everyone around the store, gave some final directions and sent us out the door.

Because we were all on our own to start and finish, there was no official "Go!" but after a few moments of everyone looking at each other, wondering who would be the first to leave, one lady finally did. And we all took off after her.

I haven't spent too much time around downtown Portland in the daytime (mostly just heading home at night after a Blazer game), but running towards the river and then over the Hawthorne Bridge was pretty cool. The river was calm, the air crisp, not a lot of cars or other people around. Very quiet for being in the middle of a big city.

The course was an out and back and after crossing the river and running along side of it for a mile or so, we eventually got onto the Springwater Corridor trail. About halfway across the river I noticed I was running behind a guy running at a pretty good pace. A much faster pace than I wanted to run. I had even told myself over and over again not to get caught up in the excitement of a race and get out too quickly. Something was different on this run though. I felt good. My legs weren't sore or tired and so I decided to stay on this guy's heels and not let him get away.

We passed the 1 mile mark at 7:00. Way too fast, but I was still within 5 feet of him. Then the 2 mile mark at 14:30. Still way too fast I kept thinking. But as long as I was looking at the bottom of his shoes, I'd be alright. We made the turn at the 5k point at about 22:20 at which point two things happened: 1) I took the 180 degree turn a little bit more slowly (read: carefully) than he did and 2) I fumbled around with the water bottle in my hand for a few seconds trying to get a drink. When I looked back up, my pacer was 25 yards ahead of me.

I spent the next mile trying to make up the distance, but his pace alone was taking everything I had, much less running even faster to make up the distance. He eventually pulled ahead a little bit more and by the 4.5 mile mark I was alone. No one behind me, this guy now 100 yards in front of me.

And then, for a mile or so, I lost my focus. I started looking around, wondering how far it was until the bridge, checking over my shoulder to see if anyone else was coming up on me. All things that caused my pace to drop significantly back to my normal 8:15-8:30 pace I can run in my sleep.

I caught myself doing this at about the 5.25 mile mark and refocused for the last mile. As I crossed the finish line at 45:08, I was pretty pumped at the over all pace. And yet, I wondered, could I have done it in 44 minutes or less? I figure that's about what I lost in the mile I lost focus. Maybe another day. For this day though, 45:08 falls under the "Race of my life" category.

A quick turnaround this week for the Run Like Hell! Bend half-marathon on October 31st. Should be interesting. Bend is over the mountains about about 3500 feet elevation (I live at about 150). The forecast could be anything from sunny and 50 degrees, to snowy and 28. Less than 3 days out and there's still no firm idea of what we'll be running in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It is with sadness that I announce....

Th rain is here. At least for the next 10 days. And that just as far as weather.com projects. Every single day: Showers. Showers. Showers. Showers etc. etc. etc. And it will probably be that way for another 180 days after that, as it often is here in the Willamette Valley. I resigned myself to this on Friday, and took full advantage of it on my 13.3 mile run Saturday morning run (to be addressed later). My intentions yesterday were to finish the recovery process from Saturday, get the lawn mowed, the garden harvested and taken down for the winter, the raspberry bushes trimmed back, pull a few weeds, pretty much all of the things I hate to do in the rain.

In the waning hours of the afternoon, as the clouds began to roll in and the temperature began to drop there I was, pruning my raspberry bushes (delicious, by the way- very pleased with how they grew in their first year) when a lady in full workout gear ran by. Content to take the day off for recovery, I didn't think much of it until I saw the huge rain cloud crawling over the hills to the west. The rain was coming. It would be here before morning.

It wasn't two minutes before I was in the house throwing on my gear, looking to my wife for the OK (she was getting ready to feed the kids dinner--I think) and sprinting out the door. The road was calling my name.

I started way too fast, but I knew I was only going to go 2.5-3 miles so I didn't care. My legs burned. My lungs were on fire. I was sweating profusely and getting cold at the same time. And it was awesome.

4 months ago I decided my goals for the 2.6 mile 4th of July fun run were a) don't finish last in my family (sorry Courtney) and b) don't puke at the finish line Since then something very strange has happened: I love to run. Strange things indeed...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have I done any good?

At work the same FedEx delivery guy delivers and picks up packages almost every day. A few times, he's stopped in as I've been gearing up to go for a run and so we've talked briefly about what race I'm getting ready for or other various things. He used to run and then stopped. And then got into biking and then stopped. As I was preparing for Champoeg he mentioned one day that his brother runs ultra-marathons, and having just finished Born to Run I was pretty interested.

As he made his delivery yesterday, he says out of the blue, "you've inspired me to start running again. I ran 3 miles yesterday. I hated every step of it, but felt good when I got done. I'm going to keep doing it."

Have I done any good in the world today? Perhaps.

At the very least, maybe my FedEx packages will arrive a few minutes faster.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recovery Time

It's now been two weeks since the Champoeg Half-Marathon. The recovery process has been a new experience for me. As I think I mentioned in the recap post, later on in the day after the race I felt completely drained of energy, nutrition, mental energy, everything. Sunday was a bit better and by Monday morning I was ready to go again. Mentally. Physically, not so much.

I finally ventured out for a short 3-mile run on Wednesday night. The first two miles were miserable. My knees and shins ached and I felt like I was wearing lead pants, my legs felt so heavy. I iced a few joints and mucles that night and felt alright by the time I bed. The next day I ran 8 miles (more on this run in a separate post), but still didn't feel quite right physically.

I didn't actually run again until Wednesday of this week, when I did a 5-miler from my office back to my house. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but something feels different. I don't know if my form is different or what it is, but even on short runs, by the time I'm done my calves feel like they are going to explode and I spend the rest of the day and next morning gingerly walking around. This wasn't something I had experienced prior to Champoeg. So I'm monitoring it. Lots of icing. Lots of stretching.

Nutritionally, I've been craving fats, oils and proteins the last two weeks. Three things I didn't care for or like to have much of in my system prior to Champoeg. This has resulted in more eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds being consumed and less pasta and fruit. I don't expect this to last too long, but it makes sense to me that my body is asking for these things as part of a rebuilding process.

So what to do now? June is still a LONG time away it seems like. An entire rainey-windy-miserable Oregon winter away, in fact. I knew I had a problem when I struggled to find motivation to go run last week (the day I ran the 8 miles actually). Once I was out and going I was fine. I've got to find some way to keep my runs interesting (new routes? shorter speed runs? hills?) and effective. They need to have some purpose. I'm working on changing things up a bit, knowing that the more options and variety I have, the quicker the winter will go by. I have to find something to push me, something kicking my butt out the door even if the weather sucks. I need some new challenge as the next step towards ultimately running the marathon in June.

Of course, there's always the Run Like Hell half-marathon in Bend on October 31st...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Champoeg Half-Marathon Recap

I woke up this morning and took a quick inventory of how I felt. In the resting position I didn't feel too bad at all. Excellent, I thought, I slept off the pain I went to bed with. Then I put my feet on the floor and took a step towards the bathroom. If not for the bed table stopping my fall, the floor would have done the job. It wasn't the pain felt yesterday that nearly put me on the ground (blisters on multiple toes, knees that felt like someone had dinged them with a hammer among other things), it was two extremely stiff calf muscles that apparently didn't get the wake up call this morning.

To briefly recap the race yesterday, my time, unofficially (times haven't been posted online yet) was 1:48:30 (8:17/mile). Right where I expected to be. Right where I hoped I would be. I am completely satisfied with it. I couldn't have run any harder for any longer than I did, at least on that day.

The weather forecast called for occasional showers throughout the morning and that's what we got. We arrived about 75 minutes before the race so my buddy could register. The field we parked and registered in was wet and it started raining as soon as we got there. By the time I was ready to put my shoes and socks on, my feet were already wet, so I had to quickly try to dry them.

30 minutes to race time, I wandered over to the restrooms for one last visit (one of many in the 24 hours leading up to race time). NOTE TO ALL RACE DIRECTORS: When you have more than 300 people show up to your event, all of whom have been guzzling various liquids for the past 24-48 hours and who will be running for the next 1.5-3 hours, please provide more than two restrooms. If the local farmer's market can bring in two dozen and drop them on a parking lot every week, I'm sure you can do the same. Make it happen. As it was, I was about 60th in line and just barely made it to the front of the line before we started gathering at the starting line.

The race director himself, a fine human being I'm sure, was a whole different story. We're all standing there, ready to hit play on our Ipods and start running and he starts giving us some instructions as far as the course was concerned. Very nice, thank you for telling us where the first turn is. I'm not kidding when I say that he then went on to describe every turn and landmark we would encounter over the next 13 miles. It seemed like it was a joke. Like we were all keeping track of it, writing or drawing his verbal map on our arms or something. After the first 30 seconds or so of this the crowd of eager runners had mostly tuned out and had either gone back to stretching, talking with those around them, or fiddling with their clothes, earphones, pacing gadgets, etc. when out of nowhere we here, "Go!" What, no Ready, Set?

The first few miles were pretty easy. We started on a road so there was plenty of room to work around people while paces were being set. I don't run well with others. I don't like their pace and I don't want to run at their pace. But I did have one lady who stay within my peripheral vision for the first three or four miles. It was unspoken, but it was a good pace. It was my pace. It would be great if she could keep this pace up, I thought. But alas, she made the turn soon thereafter to head back to the finish line (there was also 5-mile race for those not wanting to do the full 13.1).

At about the 4-mile mark we started gradually going uphill, culminating with a pretty good climb 1.5 miles later. After the climb there was a steep decent, covering about 1/2 mile. The rain had stopped before the race had started, but it was misting at this point. There wasn't any wind though so it wasn't too bad.

The turnaround point was at the 7.7 mile mark. I'm not sure how far out I was from that when I saw the race leader flying towards me, on his way back. I learned later that this guy finished in 1:07 (5:06/mile). To say he "ran" is an understatement. It looked more like he glided over the road, hardly taking the time to touch the ground on each step. A lady running next to me at the time commented on how fast he was going and I agreed, adding that it didn't even look like he was trying very hard. Simply amazing.

After the turnaround point I encountered a headwind. Luckily, after about 3/4 of a mile of this I turned and didn't have to deal with it the rest of the race. It did start to rain pretty hard at this point though and did so for about 3 miles.

By the time I reached the steep 1/2 mile climb going back (the steep 1/2 decent going out), I was feeling pain in my knees like I had never felt before. I made my way up the hill, knowing that going downhill the next 1.5 miles was probably going to hurt even more. I was right.

At the bottom of the hill there was about 3 miles left. 25 more minutes I thought to myself. I was just about there. I kept my pace up, though if it hadn't been for the 175 beat/minute Podrunner mix I was listening to this would have been impossible. I had noticed one guy and one lady who had been in view at varying lengths behind me since the turnaround point (10-50 yards?). I decided that I wasn't going to let them beat me. If others were going to show up out of nowhere (and a few did) and pass me, fine, but not these two.

I passed the 12 mile marker and buckled down again. One more mile I thought to myself. The last one is always the longest though, isn't it (especially when it's actually 1.1)? I made a couple of turns, ever aware of my two chasers behind me. The finish line must be right around that next corner I thought. Unfortunately I thought this about four times. Finally, I came around a turn and could see the finish line about 1/4 mile ahead. At this point, the lady had passed the guy and was closing in on me. No way I thought. Not this close to the finish. I kicked it up a half-notch (because I didn't have a full notch left in me) and gradually pulled away from her ever so slightly, crossing a few seconds ahead of her.

Finishing was a weird experience. There must be something about the experience your body has just gone through to cause you to not be able to think very clearly. After continuing in the same motion for almost two hours, all of the sudden so many things are happening. Run through the chute, look at your time (forgot to do this), turn off your own stopwatch (forgot to do this until a minute or so later), tear off your bib portion, get handed a medal, be given a bottle of water, be directed over to the food table, have various race personnel ask how you're feeling. It's difficult to comprehend it all at once.

So I did it. And I'm glad I did. I'll get into the post-race activities and how I felt another time but it was a good experience. More than anything else, I learned that I've got work to do if I expect to be able to run twice that distance in a full marathon. I'll take a couple of days off to recover and rest. I'm playing in golf tournament next Saturday so there won't be any long run this coming week. But after that it's back to work. Maybe I'll find a few races to run over the next few months. I'm not sure. I need to at least maintain where I'm at right now though, so I don't have to start from scratch in February/March of next year. I'm glad I got talked in to this though. It was a bit intimidating. And now, having done it, I think the next half-marathon will still be intimidating, but for different reasons.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Olive Garden MVP

A quick shout out to Diane the Olive Garden waitress is in order.

Diane executed her waitress responsibilities beautifully last night. I ordered the never-ending pasta bowl special and told her I was going to eat an obscene amount of the stuff. Within moments, our table was being served our 1st bowl of salad, followed closely by a 2nd bowl. That's nice, I thought. But I didn't come here to eat salad.

My first plate of pasta soon arrived, and that's when Diane really stepped her game up. Instead of wandering away and coming back later to see if I wanted another plate (after I had already been sitting with an empty bowl for some time), and then making me wait another few minutes for the order to arrive, Diane instead asked what I would like next, even before I had taken my first bite. Awesome. By the time I was finishing my first plate, the 2nd was arriving and I was ordering my 3rd. Never staring at an empty plate for longer than a minute or so, this process continued until the rest of our table was finished and I was willing to be done so as to not make them wait for me. I don't know how many plates I polished off, but Diane boxed up one final one for me to take with me.

Perfect execution. Here's a shout out to you, Diane the Olive Garden waitress. You've earned it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Go Time

In the final stages of preparation for the Champoeg half-marathon on Saturday. I feel pretty good at this point. I've had to good Saturday runs of 10.5 and 11 miles, a couple of consistent weeks running 5, 5, and 3-5 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and then had a good 6 mile run on Saturday as I started to taper my miles a bit. This week I ran 4 on Tuesday and had planned to run 2 yesterday, but had to call a bit of an audible. I went up to the high school to run on the soft, spongy track only to find that the marching band and cheerleading squads had taken over the entire stadium, closing the track. More than a bit miffed, I did what anyone (I think) would do less than 72 hours before a race: I said screw it, I'm going to go find the biggest hills I can find and run them. And so I did (it wasn't hard to find them as the high school is essentially build at the highest point in all of West Salem).

So 3 miles up the hills it was. And it felt good. I pushed myself pretty hard, finished up back where I parked and knew I was ready to go for Saturday. In a related story, I was rewarded with a shin splint in my right leg this morning. Shouldn't be any problem though.

My diet the last couple of days has been a steady diet of banana/strawberry/blackberry frozen smoothies, water, bananas and pasta. Eating lots of carbs today and then will eat a normal amount tomorrow.

Today's prep will consist only of some good stretching. Tomorrow I'll probably walk or lightly jog a mile or so and follow it up with some more stretching.

The goals for Saturday:

Race of my life goal: 1:44:48 (8:00/mile)
Realistic goal: 1:48:05 (8:15/mile--my pace in all of my training runs)
Worst case scenario goal: 1:50:00 (8:24/mile)

The forcast calls for 50% chance of rain at racetime. At least it won't be t0o hot.

It's go time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Protein vs. Carbs

If the choice between eating protein or carbs the day before a long run was a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it early on. At my parents house yesterday I was offered some left over steak. Too tempting to turn down, I enjoyed it. And when I wasn't hungry later on in the evening, I realized that there would be no carbs running through my system like there usually is on Saturday morning runs. To the steak, I added a breakfast of three eggs, a tomato and two pieces of wholesome toast. I was interested to see if I would feel any different primarily eating protein rather than carbs.

Without giving a travelogue of the entire 11 miles (1:34:18, 8:34/mile), I'll just say that I felt like I had to gut the whole thing out. I didn't get any sort of second wind nor was I able to speed up at all the last mile, peaking with a kick the last 1/4 mile. I felt like my body lacked any sort of reserve energy.

Edge: Carbs

Also a first today, I ran in the rain. A different experience to be sure, but not too bad. Other than my wet socks causing my toes to form blisters on top of blisters. As I finished the run, I felt (and probably looked as well) like a cold, tired, wet dog.

I'm pretty confident in my ability to finish the half-marathon in under 1:50:00 in two weeks. I'm feeling like a great day would even put me under 1:45:00. This week will be similar to the last, 3 miles on Tuesday, 5 on Wednesday and 5 on Thursday. Saturday will be tapered back to around 7 probably, depending on which route I decide to run. I may go back to Bush Park and run on the unpaved bark trails. Easier on the knees for sure. After that, it's race week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

There's tough....and then there's insane

You be the judge on this one:


Sunday, August 30, 2009

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore

So, not quite how I saw things going on Saturday morning. A great run, no doubt. Probably one of my better ones. Here's a running diary of the morning:

5:30: Wide awake ready to be in the car at 5:50, arriving at Minto Brown Island Park at 6 and running by 6:10. Unfortunately, its cloudy and so it's still pitch black.

6:00: Finally starting to get light, so off I go.

6:10: Arrive at park. Park happens to be next to the Willamette river and as I turned off of the main street all I can see is the tops of the trees. A very thick fog engulfs everything else.

6:25: Run begins

Approx 6:50: Make wrong turn around mile 3. Realize it around 1/4 mile later and reverse course.

Approx 6:55-7:30: Make wrong turn after wrong turn. Get completely turned around and lost in the outer reaches of a 900 acre park where everything looks exactly the same (paved path surrounded by large trees occasionally encountering a bridge to cross the numerous marsh/swamp areas). At one point, come to a "T"--which isn't a trail at all, but some back country road. Look both ways, realize that all I can see in both directions is endless road, and choose to turn right. Finally find an entrance back to the park only to continue to get lost, recognize nothing and end up near a landfill. Continue to run, thinking that seeing runners coming the other direction is a positive sign.

Approx 7:30: Finally cross a bridge that I recognize and continue on for the last 3 miles. Pace increases. I feel great, despite not knowing how far or how long I've gone.

7:52: Really increased the pace the last mile or so. Sprinted the last 1/4 mile to the car, turned the kitchen timer off and looked for the nearest oxygen tank

7:55: After walking around for a few minutes, finish off my Gatorade, unlace my shoes to get my car key and go to unlock car to get a dry shirt, new bottle of water and bananas.

7:56: Realize that I'm locked out of my car (apparently I can't lock it from the inside, shut the door and expect to unlock it from the outside with a key later--I know now)

8:00 Approach middle-aged man getting out of his car to inquire about using his cell phone. He says he doesn't have one (I'm really hoping he meant "I don't have one with me" rather than "I don't have one"--otherwise, sir, this is the 21st century, please join it).

8:10 Lady on the other side of the parking lot FINALLY finishes her call and I ask to use her phone. She obliges. I make call.

8:40 Dad shows up with my other set of car keys (and electronic lock thingy). Now sitting there cold, thirsty, and in a wet shirt.

I was planning to run 9 miles. Even after looking at various maps for almost an hour, I still have no idea how exactly I got to where. I know where I came to the road. I know where the landfill is. I know where I got back onto my route. How I got to and from those major landmarks I have no idea and probably couldn't retrace if I had to. But my best guess is that the total run was approx 10.50 miles in 1:26:59. At an 8:23/mile pace, that's consistent with how I felt and what I expected to do, so I think the 10.50 miles is pretty close. Oh, did I mention I had a map of the park with me also? I swear it looked nothing like what I was running through. Maybe I need to lob a complaint over to the City of Salem.

So other than starting late because it was dark, getting lost (repeatedly), having no idea how far I would have to run to make it back to my car, and then locking myself out once I got there, there were a number of positive things to speak of:

First, I tried out the 171 bpm podcast from Podrunner. Awesome. Kept me at the same pace for 56 solid minutes. This was particularly helpful when I was lost. No use in stopping, just keep putting my left foot on the ground on the beat, put my head down (not literally, that would be bad running form) and keep on running. I will continue to use the FREE Podrunner podcasts, but will use mixes with quicker bpm's so as to increase my pace.

Secondly, I stashed a banana in a tree at what would have been the 6 mile mark. Worked out well. No stomach cramps or anything.

Thirdly, carried about 8 ounces of Gatorade with me instead of water. I wasn't sure about this, but the sweet flavor was nice. As to whether it helped anything? I don't know. But I felt good. So I'll say yes.

A rest day today (Sunday) and one tomorrow (see last week's Monday disaster), but back at it again Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week.

BTW, the half-marathon in three weeks is no longer intimidating. Now I'm running it not only to finish but to push myself to achieve a certain time as well.

Friday, August 28, 2009


A quick FYI--there's been an issue with being able to comment on posts. This should be resolved now. Gearing up for a 9 mile run through Minto Brown park tomorrow morning. No run and no basketball this morning = No Alarm Friday. Nice (though I was still wide awake at 6am).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why June 2010?

A few people have asked me why I'm training for a marathon being held so far out in the future, in June 2010. Well, I'll you.

1. Scheduling. I don't (and won't) run on Sundays. It's just not something I'm going to do. I last time I missed a week of church was when I was in the emergency room on a Sunday during my freshman year of college. There's a couple of things in my life that I'm fiercly proud of and this is one of them. More than just the streak though, it's not something I feel right about. That said, I realize that many, many people, even some within my own faith I'm sure, have no problem with it. That's fine. No judgements passed. It's just not for me.

The problem I encounter is that all of the big races are held on Sunday. I would absolutely love to run the Rock n' Roll Las Vegas marathon on December 6th. That would be right in my target zone calendar-wise. And how cool would it be to run up and down the strip with thousands of people watching, bands playing, and zero traffic? Awesome. My in-laws have lived in Vegas for 20 years and my wife's birthday is December 5th, so it would be an easy excuse to be in Vegas that weekend already. I think running the Chicago marathon with 45,000 other people (not to mention 1.5 million people watching) would be incredible also. I've been to Chicago a few times and would love to go back there and do this. Other marathons held on Sunday: Seattle (2009), Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and New York to name a few. Marathons on Saturday: Salt Lake City. No thank you. Running 26 miles through the Wasatch mountains after living and training at elevation 150 ft is not going to be my first marathon attempt.

Newport is the first race within 4 hours of me being held on a Saturday. If someone knows of another one within about 200 miles of Portland, OR, please let me know. Which brings me to the next reason...

2. Budget. Unlike the government (sorry, not a political blog but some things just need to be said), I actually live on a budget, both out of necessity and desire. The entry fee alone to one of these races is a little bit steep already, so the idea of airfare, hotel room and other expenses isn't feasible right now. Would I make an exception for something like Chicago or Las Vegas? Probably. Nashville, TN (Saturday race)? No.

3. Newport is the coast. It's flat. It's at sea level (it's the coast if you missed that). A decent way to tackle number 1.

Lesson Learned Part 2

A great run this morning. The same 5 mile course as the one I struggled through Monday (run in reverse today), but a world of difference in how I felt and the pace I was able to maintain. I clocked in today at 40:28 (8:06/mile), nearly 4 full minutes faster than Monday, when I struggled just to finish. It was evident within the first half-mile that something was different today. There was no fatigue or soreness, and I could tell my pace in was much quicker. Even at the top of the extremely steep and somewhat long hill in the first mile I felt fine. I was in rhythm, my breathing was calm and my legs were already in their numb state. I wish I could find a better way to describe it than that, as numb isn't the word I'm looking for. Basically when I get into this type of rhythm I no longer feel anything, I just sort of go. So what changed from Monday to Wednesday?

1. Rest. I played basketball for an hour on Tuesday morning, but didn't do much of anything strenuous since Monday morning. I touched on this in my last post so I won't belabor the point, but a second day of rest after my long Saturday runs will be important, no matter how much I may be itching to test myself on a Monday.

2. Diet. Reflecting on my diet over the weekend, I realized I hadn't eaten any fresh fruit, hadn't been drinking as much water, ate no pasta either day and had my share of cupcakes and frosting leftover from a birthday party. Not a good combo obviously. Not the worst thing in the world to have a few sweets here and there, but in the absence of fruit, carbs and water, it probably just made things worse. On Monday afternoon my wife (bless her heart for putting up with all of this) brought me a pound of fresh strawberries. I cut them up, along with 6 bananas, and had lunch. It was awesome. I instantly felt better. I had the same thing for breakfast/lunch yesterday and then had a big plate of pasta and some homemade veggie soup for dinner. Another banana or two last night before bed an another this morning before running and I was ready to go.

3. New music. I'm not a huge music buff, so my library of songs is quite small and some wouldn't be very helpful to run to. As a result, my playlists on my Ipod Shuffle have become stale and old. While I am searching for some new tunes to run to, I went back to an old favorite this morning and loaded in the Rocky IV soundtrack. There was no snow, no shouting "Drago!" at the top of the hill and no Cold War being waged, but it seemed to do the trick. More than anything I think, it was just different. I'm thinking I'll hold Rocky in reserve for when I really need it, so it doesn't become stale also. I've started exploring something on the Itunes store called Podrunner, a free download of upbeat music that's based on how many steps you take per minute. I'd have to figure out what this number is for me before I download anything, but I'm willing to try it one of these days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lesson Learned

It's no secret that one of the most important aspects of any marathon training program is adequate rest. I certainly subscribe to this idea but after this morning's run, I now give it the proper respect it deserves.

If you've been following along with my weekly runs, you know that I typically run intermediate distances on Monday and Wednesday and a shorter easy run on Friday in preparation for a long run on Saturday. Sunday is always a rest day and Tuesday and Thursday are sort of in between days (I play full-court basketball for about 45 minutes in the morning). Prior to last Saturday, my long runs had typically been between 4 and 6 miles, including the 10k a week ago. At these distances, Monday morning would come and I would be feeling good, ready to start a new week of training. With the addition of a half-marathon to my schedule though, last Saturday's run became 8 miles, a personal best since starting to run in June.

In conjunction with increasingly longer Saturday runs I also moved my rest days around, allowing my body and extra day of rest on Monday, then running Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and taking Friday off in preparation for Saturday. It made sense when I put this schedule together. I should have stuck to it.

When I got up this morning I didn't feel quite right. I was a little bit stiff and a little sore but after a few minutes finally decided to shake it off, stretch and take off anyway. The sky was clear, the sunrise was taking shape and the air was crisp--these are not days to be wasted in a waning Oregon summer. What followed was a 5 mile struggle.

I could tell early on that my legs were fatigued and hadn't fully recovered from Saturday when I pushed myself pretty hard. My diet the last 48 hours hasn't been the greatest either, but I'll deal with that separately. The point is, no how much I think I want to run on a Monday morning (or a Friday for that matter), I need to find something else to do--like stretch, do some light weights, walk, read a book, watch TV or play dumb computer games. Something other than running around the hills of West Salem.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Change of Course

The 10k went fine on Saturday. Pretty much what I expected, no better, no worse. Official time of 50:27. Finished 18 of 66. A friend of mine asked me about it later in the day and after giving him the 10-second summary he mentioned that he was going to run a half-marathon in October and tried to convince me to run it with him. My initial reaction wasn't a yes or a no, but I told him I'd look at it online and get back to him.

Well, I found it online. And it's not in October. It's September 19th. Five weeks from yesterday. Initially my though was a 100% definitely not. But then I started thinking about it more and more. By the time my friend and his wife stopped by to pick up their kids, I agreed to run the Champoeg Half-Marathon with him. September 19th. Five weeks from yesterday. Here was my thought process from No to Yes in nutshell:

1. The Monmouth/Independence 2.6 mile mini-marathon on July 4th, the 5k at Bush Park and the 10k this weekend didn't phase me at all. I knew if I put a little bit of time and effort it I could show up and finish just fine. There was another 10k I was going to run September 19th, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I needed to do something more difficult. Something that would really stretch me. The half-marathon in five weeks intimidates me, to be completely honest. The 10k does not. All the more reason to do the half-marathon.

2. The way my schedule sets up the next few weeks it may actually be the best time to do it. I don't start teaching my early morning class until mid-way through week 4 (of 5), and I'll have those two or three lessons prepared ahead of time. Week 5 I'll be tapering off on my mileage and my wife and kids will be visiting Grandma in Las Vegas, so I'll be able to go run whenever I need to during the day.

3. As mentioned previously, I'm not doing this for regular exercise. I'm doing this to achieve a goal. Right now I'm excited about running and feel good about doing so. I should take advantage of that and get all that I can out of it right now.

So September 19th it is.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Liberty House 10k (Minto Brown Island Park, Salem, OR)

I clocked in unofficially at 50:26 this morning, good enough for 2nd place in the M25-29 division (I'm not sure what that means as I won't know how many people were actually in my division until the results are posted online--I got a pretty red ribbon though). I did what I expected to do. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm never going to blow anyone away with a 5 or 6 minute/mile pace. But I am pleased to be hovering around the 8 minute/mile pace regardless of distance. That translates into a sub-4 hour marathon pace (though figures differ depending on who's conversion calculator you use), which is where I want to be.

The race itself wasn't too bad. After the initial spacing out in the first half mile I only got passed by two other runners and spent most of the race running by myself. I think this is good for me, as I don't feel any pressure to run too fast or slow. If I have any complaints about the race setup, I would have preferred a second water station rather that just the one at about the 3.5 mile mark. I was about a mile past needing some water at that point and was feeling the effects.

Overall, I was pleased with the run though. I'm considering taking this week off to let my body rest a bit before gearing up for another 10k in mid-September. From there, it's into official marathon training mode with the schedule I've chosen to use taking me up to the June 5th, 2010 race in Newport.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Race Prep Zone

With the Liberty House 10k now less than 48 hours away, I've entered the final nutritional phase of my pre-race training. The final two days I basically eat fruit and pasta. No meat, no dairy, no fats of any kind (i.e. nuts, seeds, oils). Fats make me feel heavy and sluggish -- I don't need any of that on Saturday morning. Here's a rough sketch of my diet yesterday through Saturday morning:


  • 20 oz banana/blackberry/romaine lettuce smoothie for breakfast
  • Nine bananas throughout the day at work
  • Around 4:30pm a big plate (8-10 oz) of whole wheat pasta with a fresh tomato (from my garden!) and pure tomato sauce (no corn syrup, sugar, additives, etc)
  • Around 8:30pm a half dozen burritos with refried beans, garden lettuce, tomato, green onion, salsa on whole wheat tortillas


  • 8-10 bananas eaten throughout the day
  • Medium-sized bowl of oatmeal around 2pm
  • Big plate of rice pasta (more carbs/gram than whole wheat) with tomato sauce eaten around 4:30pm
  • Banana/blackberry/lettuce smootie around 8:30pm


  • The same as Thursday with the exception of wheat pasta instead of rice pasta (haven't experimented with rice pasta the night before a race--I'll try it next week before next Saturday's run)

Saturday (run goes off at 8:30am):

  • 32 oz banana/strawberry smoothie around 6:30am or so
  • Water throughout the morning, but none after about 7:45am

If it doesn't go without saying, from Thursday on I always have a bottle of water with me. I don't know how many of ounces I go through, I just drink it constantly.

In addition to the diet, I'll probably run a mile or two friday morning just to stretch my legs. Nothing too hard, but something to connect my run on Wednesday to the race on Saturday. I don't have run today, but I played basketball for about 45 minutes this morning to get my heart rate up.

I'll check back in on Saturday after the race. A few goals below:

Race of my life goal: 48 min (7:44/mile)
Realistic goal: 50 min (8:03/mile)
Worst case scenario goal: 52 min (8:23/mile)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Good and Bad All at Once

Today's run was a struggle. It was a little bit chilly still at 6:30am and despite stretching things out, I could tell it took longer than usual to get the blood moving, muscles warm, etc. For some reason I wasn't focusing very well either, as evidenced by my sloppy running form. I repeatedly found myself with my hands too high, my head too low and my breathing all over the place. The consequences of my hands often drifting north of my waist were evident later on in the run as my shoulder and neck muscles became tired and tight.

All of that said, I was pretty shocked with my 5k split time of 23:50 -- nearly two full minutes fast than the same 5k I ran for the first time three weeks ago. Overall, I achieved my goal of doing the 5.5 miles in under 44 minutes, clocking in at 43:52. I don't run with any sort of timing device on my person (more on this later), so, despite how I felt during the run, I feel pretty good about it now that I've completed it.

Rest day tomorrow and then a week of prep for the Liberty House 10k next Saturday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Plotting a Course

Finding a training program that fit my schedule was difficult. Many that I looked at required, in addition to the 3-6 requisite runs per week, multiple days of cross-training and lengthy strength training activities. This just doesn't work for me. I have a wife and two young kids, all of whom want, need and deserve as much time and support as I can give them. I work 45 hours a week. In addition, my current church responsibilities have me teaching a morning scripture study class to a group of high school seniors everyday before school. Combine the lesson/class preparation time and the time spent in class an it amounts to a 15-20 hour/week second job (unpaid). This doesn't leave a lot of discretionary time during the week.

I then found Art Liberman's State of the Art Marathon site (www.marathontraining.com). Before getting to his recommended training schedule, I liked much of what he had to say on a number of subjects, many of which I will probably reference here in the future. His training program is pretty straight forward and in two parts. First, a 19 week buildup program followed by a 17 week training program. He's not real big on cross or strength training (though he doesn't ban it outright by any means) and he's a big proponent of getting enough rest before and afte the longer runs.

To follow this program I needed to add an additional 8 weeks, which I've done by using the first few weeks of the buildup program as my preparation for a 10k on August 15th and another one on September 18th, after which I'll start into week 1. I've also adjusted things so that Sunday is always a rest day (as well as Thursday). Basically it's two or three days a week at first and three or four days a week later on with a longer weekly Saturday run. My strength training will consist of short quick workouts using dumbbells at home--things I can do while taking a break from lesson prep.

As to when to actually run, I think my best bet will be to leave directly from work before going home. Fortunately, there's a huge park with numerous trails within a few blocks of work where I can mark off as many miles as I need. Given the length of the runs, from now until January I should never need longer than about 50-55 minutes to finish. I'm most concerned about January and February, when the runs start to become longer and its too dark and dreary to do it in the morning (I'd have to be done by 5:45am to be able to get ready for class). March through May I might be able to get away with running in the 4:30-5:45am time slot (as a morning person anyway, this isn't a huge deal--the dumb cat wakes me up around that time everyday anyway so she can go outside, it would just be a matter of not crawling back into bed--mind over body, right?).

The time commitment poses the biggest threat to my preparation. I don't worry about the length of the runs or the discipline to do them. But finding the time, or making it rather, will be difficult.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Than Just Finishing

A lot of the reading I've done the last few weeks has told me that the only goal I should have for my first marathon is simply to finish. For all the time and enrgy spent and miles run in preparation for the big day, though, simply hoping to finish feels like I'm selling myself short. Certainly a good goal, yes. But not one that's going to keep me motivated enough to go run 12 miles on a cold, dark, rainy Oregon day in the middle of February.

I'm a numbers person. I like math and I'm pretty good at it (real math, with numbers, not the theoretical equations that doomed me in my one and only calculus class). I break down a run probably more than I should by crunching numbers in my head while I'm driving, stretching or even during the run itself. How fast was that lap? What's my mile pace at that speed? How fast do I need to run this loop to bring my overall mile pace down to what it was yesterday? Am I running this 2nd half faster than the first half? I suppose that people think about a whole variety of things when they run. These are some of the things I think about to pass the time and take my thoughts away from listening to myself breath or hearing my feet hit the ground.

Various authors and websites have classified goals in every way imaginable: Process and Outcome goals, Results and Performance goals, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time-based), and long-term and short-term goals to name just a few. What are we really getting at here though? Yes, everyone's goal is to finish. You wouldn't sign up, train and show up if that wasn't your intention. Even if the goal is, say, 7 hours, I don't know of any other way to prepare both physically and mentally than to have something to strive for. Something measurable in very small increments (like a daily run). And if you have small daily pace goals, is it too much of a stretch to do the same for the actual race?

I know for a fact that if I don't have a daily pace goal (determined by keeping meticulous records of each previous run) that the 12-mile February run mentioned earlier probably isn't going to get done. I would be bored and would wonder why I was bothering to do it. There would be no purpose to pushing myself and no way to measure improvement (as a sidenote, I guess I can cross off "increased overall health due to regular exercise" as a candidate for The Reason for doing this--that alone apparently isn't going to get me out in the rain and cold in February).

So what does it all mean? I don't have a time goal for Race Day yet. I don't even have a best case/worst case/time-I-would-be-happy-with goal yet. It's too early. But I do have one immediate goal and one short-term goal to share.

IMMEDIATE GOAL: 5.5 mile run on Saturday in under 44 minutes (8:00/mile)

SHORT-TERM GOAL: Liberty House 10k at Minto Brown Island Park on August 15th in under 50 minutes (8:02/mile)

Working out the kinks

Don't be shocked if this site evolves over time. I'm not sold on the layout, there are a few typos here and there and I have some elements I want to add but need to figure out how to do so. Unfortunately, I can't edit from the computer I use the bulk of the day (but I can post through a google gadget), so any errors will have to be corrected in the evening. Thanks for checking it out though. More to come...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And we're off...

On July 4th, 2008 I ran in the annual 4th of July race in my hometown. It was the first time I had ever chosen to run just simply to run. The race was 2.6 miles (the "Mini-Marathon" they called it) and I walked to the start line without one day of training or preparation. At 26 years old, how hard could it be? I didn't stop until I got to the finish line, but it certainly wasn't an experience I looked forward to ever repeating.

Skip forward 11 1/2 months to June 12th, 2009, when I was all but guilted in to running the same race this year (all of my siblings, both my parents and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins were apparently going to run it). Determined not to drag myself over the finish line again, I began to run a couple days a week. The first day I ran 1.5 miles. And then 1.75 the next. And then 2, 2.5 and 2.75. The week prior to the race I ran 3 and 3.5 miles before backing off to 2.5 miles a few times before the big day. Needless to say, things went a bit better. I still wasn't quite satisfied though. I felt like I could and should be able to do more. I signed up for a local 5k two weeks later and continued to run a few days a week. The 5k came, and I came fairly close to my goal with a time of 25:35.

I ran a few days the following week, mostly because I was enjoying being back in shape and able to play basketball for an hour without the fear of having to be carried off the court, something I hadn't been able to do since high school. I had my eye on a 10k race in August and decided it was a nice goal to shoot for.

Then, on the Saturday following the 5k race, I returned to the park where it had taken place, determined to run a personal best 4.5 miles. A funny thing happened that day. I ran the 4.5 miles and felt great. So I ran another 1.5 miles. And I still felt great. So I ran another 1.5 miles. And had it not been for a prior engagement that I needed to get to, I would have kept running. The thought went through my head, "Hey, you're not too bad at this." Now, I realize I'm not going to blow anybody away with a 5 or 6 minute/mile pace or even come close to winning any races, but what I can do is compete daily against perhaps my most difficult opponent: myself.

I found a training program for running a 10k and have worked through it the last few weeks in preparation for the race a week from this coming Saturday. But in the back of my mind, this crazy idea kept coming: I should run a marathon.

Entering the picture was the Newport, OR Marathon (http://www.newportmarathon.org/) to be held June 5th, 2010, 10 months from today.

I'm not a runner. I was never the most athletic person on any team and I lacked endurance, despite my best efforts. But I would put my level of competitiveness and desire to win/succeed above any challenger. Whether it's basketball, checkers or Skip-Bo (one of my son's favorite games), I want to win. So it is with this in mind that I launched the Mind Over Body Marathon site.

Over the next 10 months I will detail my experiences preparing for my first marathon. I'll talk about, among other things, goal setting, which training program to use and nutrition. I'll also keep you up-to-date on my progress, which routes I'm running, and offer some thoughts and feelings that I have throughout the process as well as provide motivational stories, quotes and other useful information as I come across it. I'm not completely sure why I want to run a marathon yet. I have some ideas that I continue to think about, but I probably won't know for sure until I cross the finish line.

But for now, here we are at the starting line, ready to embark on a journey of self-discipline, commitment and personal achievement. I invite you to follow along, join in, participate, offer your thoughts and suggestions or let me know what you're doing (or have done) to train for marathon. Or just simply watch from a distance. The time for doubt, nervousness and uncertainty are over. It's time to run. Wait for it...wait for it....BANG! And we're off...