Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another Goal Accomplished

Back during my first go round at running, I established a goal of running a half marathon.  I wanted to finish in under 2 hours.  The closest I came was 2:02:04.  The fourth and last one I ran took over 2:11. That last run marked the beginning of the end.  It was obvious I would never be fast enough to accomplish a 2-hour half marathon.

That was in 2006 or 2007.  I don't remember exactly.  I still ran, but no more than 2 or 3 days a week.  Sometimes not at all.  I started doing triathlons and that was fun, but alas, I still didn't reduce my running times enough to make me excited about the sport.

Then along came Tony Horton and Shaun T.  They got me into the best shape of my life. I noticed I was running faster.  I was setting prs in nearly every conceivable distance.  I decided to apply my new found fitness to running.

Shaun T


I set out this morning on a 12-mile run.  About 3 miles in I thought I'd make it a half marathon and get that 2-hour monkey off my back.  For whatever reason, 13.1 miles didn't seem that far.  Perhaps it's because I'm training for a marathon and half that distance doesn't seem as intimidating?  Perhaps it's my increased fitness?  Perhaps I've been reading too many Dean Karnazes books?

Me at the Kaloa Sugar Mill 10-mile run in Hawaii.  I've dropped 20 pounds and 2 minutes/mile since this race.  As bad as I look in this picture, I felt even worse.
I figured if I'm running a half marathon I might as well make it official by naming it.  I dubbed it the Trent Lorcher Invitational.  There was a good chance I would win since I was the only participant.  I finished in 1:49:55, well below the seemingly impossible 2-hour threshold, well below my personal best, well above a Boston qualifying time.

It's time to get to work.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Running Book Reviews

I’m an English teacher and I’ll be the first to acknowledge that English teachers have ruined more good books than people of any other profession.  I also remember from my days as a high school student long ago that most books my English teacher made me read I found boring and long winded.  These book recommendations, thankfully, do not come from Trent the English teacher.  They come from Trent the runner and creator of the incredibly entertaining Running from Mediocrity blog.

Must Reads (You’ve probably already read these)

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes – I’m under the impression that many in the ultra-running community think Dean’s a bit of a sellout.  I’m not a member of the ultra-running community, so I don’t care.  If I were a member of the ultra-running community, I probably still wouldn’t care.  The guy’s taken something he’s passionate about and made a ton of money writing about it.  Awesome!

Until I read Ultramarathon Man I had no idea there was such a thing as ultra-running.  Even if you have no desire to run a 100-mile race (my hand’s raised firmly in the air on that one), Dean’s account of the Western States 100, the Badwater Ultramarathon and his one-man 199-mile relay race will open your mind to new possibilities and make running a 26.2-mile marathon seem easy (until you actually run it, of course).

Although Dean’s a bit in denial about how training for 100-mile races might put a strain on one’s personal life, and although there’s an awful lot of humble-bragging, Ultramarathon Man is inspirational, entertaining and well worth the effort.  By the way, his third book, Run, has set a new standard for humble bragging.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – Born to Run has been credited with the increased popularity of barefoot running.  The book’s excellence, however, goes far beyond persuading people to toss their running shoes.  It makes the case that human beings were born to run and that the survival of the human species can be linked to the genetic capacity for long distance running.  It is not, however, a scientific dissertation on human evolution.  It’s an account of MacDougall’s quest to run injury free, the Tarahumara Indians, and one of the greatest ultra-races ever.

The book reads like a novel and includes characters Charles Dickens would be proud of.  The Tarahumara are real.  I looked them up on the Internet and we know the Internet would never lead us astray. They live in the Copper Canyon region in Western Mexico. Barefoot Ted is real.  I looked him up on the Internet too. He once organized a triathlon in which the participants could only use equipment that existed in the 1800s.  Scott Jurek.  Real.  Caballo Blanco.  Real.  That’s not his real name though.  You’ll have to read the book to find his real name or look it up on the Internet, which, as you know, will never lead you astray.

Other than the incredibly annoying, repulsive couple from North Carolina who entered the race and the pro-hippy sentiments ofCaballo Blanco, whom I admire for completely different reasons, the book makes a valuable contribution to people who like to run and read.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker – I can’t believe a book this good and this popular with runners has been around since the 1970s and I had never even heard of it until a couple months ago.  Although it’s fiction, it’s obvious the author understands the dedication it takes to succeed in the sport (Parker himself was a track star at the University of Florida).

Although the book relies on the tired anti-establishment cliché popular among victims, Occupy Wall Street losers, and people who like to blame others for their failures, it’s in depth account of the fictional training regimen of Quenton Cassidy is enough to motivate runners to get their butt in gear.  Its literary merit makes it an excellent read for runners and English teachers.

If you've written a book about running and want me to review it, send me a copy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Ingredients for Runner's High

It had been a while since I'd had a really strong run.  Last Thursday I was finally feeling healthy and decided to head outdoors for a 10-mile jaunt.  The first 3.5 miles were uphill.  It didn't matter.  I was still enjoying myself.

Then I got to turn around.

For the first 3.5 miles, I had hills for lunch.  Going down them was dessert.  I reached a point about four miles in where I was enjoying myself--perhaps 'enjoying' isn't the right word--and could only smile.  The only time I'd ever smiled uncontrollably while running was the time a sixty-year-old passed me and immediately tripped with a little help from my left foot.  I'm just kidding (it was my right foot).  Anyhow, smiling uncontrollably and running ten miles aren't usually synonymous.  But they were.  This state of bliss lasted for about 2.5 miles when I made the mistake of looking at my watch and realized I still had four miles to go.

Those four miles happened to be the fastest four miles of my life.  Go figure.

Recipe for Runner's High (I'm not an expert by the way)
  • Don't get run over by a car.
  • Run downhill.
  • Wear underwear to prevent chafing.

Putting things in perspective
  • I ran 10 miles in 83:24, an 8:22 pace.
  • That's a faster pace than I was running 5-ks a year ago.
  • I ran the last mile in 7:45 on a flat surface, the fastest of the 10 miles, which tells me there was plenty left in the tank.
  • The slowest mile was 9:20 going uphill, which tells me I'm slower going uphill than downhill.  Who would have guessed?
  • I'm still more than a minute/mile slower than my Boston qualifying pace.
  • I've made a lot of progress but there's a lot more work to do.
Go me!

Other notes: I'm getting faster.  I ran five miles this morning faster than I'd ever run five miles.  My mind needs to accept that I can run even faster before it happens.  I'm excited for the marathon and excited about my training.  I'm excited my wife is hot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Best Weight Loss Plan Ever?

We all know that Bulimia is a very stupid weight loss plan, but what about Reverse Bulimia?

Reverse Bulimia, by the way, does not involve eating puke--yours or anybody else's--although I've a friend who ate puke once (he also ate spiders and hot peppers).  In order to fully incorporate Reverse Bulimia into your training regimen, you need to catch the stomach flu, which is not as hard as you think.  All you have to do is hang out where people with the stomach flu congregate--hospitals, public trash cans, and Burger King, for example.

I was fortunate enough to hang out at a place where the stomach flu was on the rampage this week: my house.  Here's how Reverse Bulimia works:  I got sick and was unable to eat much on Friday.  On Friday night/Saturday morning, everything I had eaten for the past couple days exited my mouth via my esophagus.  I had no desire to eat most of Saturday.  The evening came and I needed food, junk food, so I went to the store and bought a bag of potato chips.  After downing those, I raided the fridge and made some peanut butter and jelly pancakes, followed by a trip to the pantry for some Hostess cupcakes.  I don't even know why there are Hostess cupcakes in my pantry, but I didn't care.  My wife saw how hungry I was, and not knowing of my foraging, made me some potatoes fried in butter, which I doused with ketchup and gobbled down in about 23 seconds.
Twinkies are an integral part of the Reverse Bulimia Training Regimen.
Fruits and vegetables were strictly off limits.

When all was said and done I had eaten some of the worst-for-you, delicious junk food in existence (oh, I forgot about the cheese) and didn't gain a pound because I had thrown up prior to the binge.  If you do it right and plan your stomach flu for non-running days, you can participate in the diet and not slack on your training.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.


Training Update: Skipped Saturday's short run and took it easy today with an 8-miler at about an 8:34 pace (I'm just kidding.  It was far from easy).  I'll resume two-a-days tomorrow. This chest cold is getting old.  Set a pr for dry heaves today. 

I realize I've been writing a lot about vomit lately.  This trend should end (as should my vomiting).  There's only so many angles you can approach throwing up from.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Running is...

I got up at 4:30 Friday to get in a good morning run.  There aren't many people out that early, I've noticed, just runners, bikers, dog-walkers, and drunk people driving home from the casinos who haven't gone to bed yet. 

It was an enjoyable 7-mile run.  It was the first time I'd run that far since June, although I'd done several longer, more intense workouts in the intervening months.

That's why I couldn't figure out why I felt so horrible all day.  If seven miles does this to me, then what are 26.2 of them going to do.  Later that night I threw up.  Two of my five children threw up.  The three children staying with us because their parents are enjoying a cruise while we clean up their kids' puke threw up.

Turns out that running is...contagious.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What did I get myself into?

I loved my Monday morning run so much that I did it again on Tuesday.  I did a Max Insanity video Monday and Tuesday afternoon.  I had planned on an easy day today but changed my  mind.  I lifted weights in the morning and did mile repeats in the afternoon.

What was I thinking?

I had never done mile repeats before.  I had no idea what to expect.  Now I know.  I only did two of them and if I can maintain that pace for an additional 24.2 miles with no rest in between, I'll almost qualify for Boston.  Nothing has ever seemed more impossible.

Workout Update

My body is handling the increased work load quite well.  I altered my original schedule to accommodate my new found love of morning runs.  Tomorrow (Thursday) will be an actual rest day.  I'm sleeping in and doing some kind of Yoga in the afternoon.  I'm going eight miles on Friday morning, which means I'll have to get up at 4:30.  I'll work out back and biceps on Saturday and call it a week unless I feel like strengthening my core.  That'll make 21 miles for the week with a couple of serious fitness workouts and some weights.

The 2 months of Insanity has prepared my body well for the training I'll need to do for the upcoming 26.2 miles of insanity.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm all in...

My wife suggested I start running twice a day.  I've never been much of a morning runner, even in the summer when it's about 145 degrees in the afternoon.  I realized that if I'm to make significant progress I need to step things up, so I took her advice and ran 4.5 miles this morning.  I loved it.  It took a little longer to loosen up than usual and the first mile was about 25 seconds slower than normal, but I loved the morning run.

It looks like I've established a pretty comfortable pace for runs between 3-8 miles of 8:25.  That's obviously a far cry from where I want to be but it's a good deal faster than what I was running last year at this time.  So for now, I'll give myself a pat on the back, gear up for getting faster, and continue to improve.


There's a good post on BQby40 about goal setting and disappointment.  Check it out.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Running in Vegas

The disastrous Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Marathon--and by disaster I'm referring to ridiculously large crowds, poor organization, and people drinking poisoned water causing them to vomit and poop uncontrollably--has led some to believe Las Vegas is not a great place to live for runners.  Not true.

Although the heat in the summer reaches baked potato-like temperatures, the other nine months are wonderful for those who enjoy a nice jaunt outside (the summer gives us air conditioned indoor tracks, treadmills, and mornings (before six only)).  It's been sixty degrees or higher and sunny every day for nearly two weeks.  I'll trade in months of below freezing temperatures for sixty-five and sunny and a slight chance of violent diarrhea any day.

Bring your (own) water when you run here!

Today's weather was perfect for running.  My calf, however, didn't think so.  I shut it down after 3 miles as a precautionary measure.  I could have run all day, if I wanted.  Better safe than sorry, though.  It's good to see my take-it-easy pace is faster than my former go-all-out pace.

I was going to start two-a-day runs on Monday but I'm just not 100% confident in my calf, so I'm going to go double workouts instead.  Here's my schedule for the next week:

Monday A.M: Max Interval Cardio        
Monday P.M.: 5-mile low key run.
Tuesday A.M: Core Cardio and Balance
Tuesday P.M.: Chest, Shoulders and Tris
Wednesday A.M.: Sleep in                      
Wednesday P.M.: 3-mile track run: 23-minute goal time.
Thursday A.M.: Pure Cardio                  
Thursday P.M.: Max Cardio
Friday A.M: Core Cardio and Balance    
Friday P.M.: Back and Biceps
Saturday A.M.: 8-mile run                      
Saturday P.M.: X2 Core
Sunday: Rest

It's an ambitious schedule, I know.  There's only 16 miles of running for the week.  There's 2 Max Insanitys, one regular Insanitys and three semi light core workouts.  There's two weight workouts.  All cross training workouts are synergistic in nature and will improve conditioning.  I'll evaluate and turn a couple of morning workouts into morning runs next week.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Breaking News: I'm Not Very Fast

My wife called me out on my four goals for one marathon stunt from a couple days ago.  We discussed my quest to qualify for Boston and decided it will probably not happen on my first attempt.  There is ample evidence to support that claim, by the way.  I have, therefore, revised my Utah Valley Marathon goal.

Goal:  Finish the race without soiling myself, preferably in 3:45 or less.  You may be thinking that I'm copping out or quitting.  Not true.  I'm just getting started on this not being slower than a rhino with his horn stuck in a cottonwood tree phase of running and although the improvements have been solid (I set another 3-mile pr yesterday), they are not enough to realistically challenge the long term goal of qualifying for Boston.

It will probably take a few tries to get this done. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My good friend over at Feet Meet Street (When I say ‘friend,’ I don’t mean actual friend. I’ve never even met the guy.  I think he’s a teacher and if we worked at the same school, we could be friends), talks about how setting goals helps us realize just how colossal our failures are. Funny stuff.

But is it true?

As the URL of this wonderful blog suggests, I have set a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. When I started training, months before I started the blog, I had no notion of qualifying for Boston. I just felt it would be a good time to run a marathon. As I lost weight and got faster (mostly through cross training), I thought it would be a great idea to set a ridiculous goal: qualify for Boston. To find out just how ridiculous this goal is, just check out this listing of my qualifications.

Yesterday, my first semi-serious run after the strained soleus, while recovering from a minor chest cold, I ran 6.2 miles (Technically, I ran 6.45. I stopped after the first ¼-mile to forcefully discharge phlegm, walked back, and started over). I finished that 6.2-mile run 11 seconds faster than my fastest time ever. Now you would think that’d be accompanied by fist pumps and jumping jacks. Not the case. It was so much slower than the time I would need to even have a slight chance of qualifying for Boston that I was upset.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It’s bad in the sense that I should have at least given myself a pat on the back for running faster (nearly a full minute faster per mile than I ran a 10-k in June). It’s good in the sense that without a ridiculously stupid goal, I would not have improved my times as much. In addition, because there’s so much more improvement needed, there’s little chance for complacency.

So, yes goals do help us realize just how colossal are our failures, but they help us fail less than we would have unknowingly failed otherwise.

12 goals for 2012
  1. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 4 hours. I realize this goes against the blog’s URL.
  2. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.75 hours. So does this.
  3. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.50 hours. And this.
  4. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.25 hours and qualify for Boston. I can have multiple goals for the same event and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  5. Run the River Mountain Loop. That’s a 35-mile extremely hilly route that goes around the River Mountains, adjacent to Lake Mead, in Southern Nevada.
  6. Run the River Mountain Loop without dying.
  7. Drop an additional 15 lbs. I currently weigh 180. 180 pounds is the least I’ve weighed on New Year’s Day since I was in the 7th grade. I’m estimating that 165 pounds would be a better running weight to have any shot at goals 3 and 4. It would also make goals 1 and 2 less painful and more likely.
  8. Finish paying off my student loan. We actually had this goal for 2011. We hammered out ¾ of it last year. It’ll be done by March. What does this have to do with qualifying for the Boston Marathon? Not much. But there are some applicable principles between the two: (1) Consistent effort produced big results; (2) The goal provided motivation to work more; (3) I ate a lot of pasta.
  9. Attract more visitors to my blog. If you’re reading this then the goal’s been accomplished.
  10. The last three deal with my relationship with God and all that stuff that makes me a better father, husband, person, and runner—things like prayer, serving others, developing charity, not murdering walkers who travel three abreast on mountain trails and don’t move when I politely yell “passing on the left,” and studying divinely inspired writings. These are actually goals 1-3, not 10-12 but this is a running blog and not a religious one so I put them at the end.