"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

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...