Thursday, July 26, 2012

Race Report: Rock to Pier Run in Morro Bay, California

It looked to be the most loaded field in Rock to Pier history.  Past champions, my nephew, my kind-of nephew, and my wife were slated to toe the starting line at the fourth annual Family Reunion 6-mile Rock to Pier run on July 17, 2012.  My wife and I started the tradition at our family reunion after running the actual live event in 2008.

In addition to these past champions, athletes from the other two houses involved in the beach side reunion were scheduled to give it a whirl.  An early starting time, tons of children to tend, and a rumor of rum drinking, however, limited the participants to only 3--me and 2 brothers-in-law.

I was very confident of a top 3 finish.

I'm on the right. Race Champion Kearby is on the left.  Parry is in the middle.
My goal was to come in under 50 minutes.  I ran the first two miles in 16:07 and felt very confident in not just a sub-50, 6-miler, but perhaps a sub-49.  Then mile 3 happened.  Mile 3 contains a 50-yard rocky surface to traverse during low tide.  We did not begin the race at low tide and the 50-yard rocky surface became a 100-yard rocky surface, 100 yards that slowed me to a 9-minute pace and threw me out of rhythm.  At the half way point I was a bit over my 50-minute goal pace and mile 4 did little to improve my confidence, an 8:22 mile that left the end in doubt.

That's when my improved aerobic capacity made an appearance.  I ran the next mile in 8:12 and the 6th mile in 8:01.  If the race distance were actually six miles, I would have easily come in under the 50-minute time goal I had established (as you may have deduced by adding the six times together).  The race distance is not six miles.  It's 6.04 miles.

Since I sprinted the last half-mile, I didn't bother to look at my watch, so when I crossed the finish line, I had no idea if I'd achieved my goal.  I hit stop on the watch, looked down, and saw...


I'd done it.  I set a personal course record (it's the 6th time I've done this race) by 3:29 and beat my goal.  Unfortunately, I finished seven minutes behind my brother-in-law who shattered the family reunion record by over four minutes.  I finished second for the second straight year and crushed my other brother-in-law who beat me two years before.

We left the two babies at the beach house (supervised) and celebrated ocean style.  I'm back row left next to my lovely wife.  The three children are ours: Savannah, Trenton, and Mazie (from right to left).
We decided to move the race time back to 10:00 next year to increase participation, regardless of tides, which means I'll really have to train to procure a top 3 finish.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heart Rate Monitor Training

My coach, who also happens to be my wife, came up with the ridiculous notion that I shouldn't be completely thrashed after each run. I told her she was stupid (under my breath). I agreed (out loud) and continued thrashing myself for several months, culminating in my earth-shattering 4:13 marathon during which I felt pain in every cell of my body.
All those people behind me eventually passed me.

As the summer temperatures settled around 105 degrees (quite cool for Vegas in the summer) every day, I decided on some cross-training. At the same time, I began reading a book about this middle-aged guy (I'm turning 43 soon) who became this mega-runner/triathlon guy. I have no desire to become a mega-runner/triathlon guy, but I have a strange fascination with mega-runner/triathlon guys. I even have a picture of Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek naked. (I really don't. I'm just trying to lure visitors to my site and I'm sure "naked picture of Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek" are immensely popular Google search terms.)

As I was reading the book (an incredibly tantalizing book review is coming up (the guys name is Rich Roll (I'm not kidding))), he talked about how his endurance training began with using a heart rate monitor. Even though he was used to busting out 2-hour runs all out 3-4 times per week, his coach would make him run without allowing his heart rate to exceed 140 beats per minute. He protested because all he could do were 10-minute miles. Before long, however, he was able to run 7-minute miles with the same energy output.

I love gadgets.  I now own a heart rate monitor.

I've used it twice and its excruciatingly tough, tough to the tune of 11-minute miles. It's kind of nice though. I'm not thrashed like my wife/coach tells me I shouldn't be (which leaves energy for a little night-time exercise, if you know what I'm saying). I could run for hours in the heat at 142 bpm. I have another gadget and more numbers to fiddle with. Since I'm doing P90X 2, I can go all out on those workouts without worried about being too sore to complete my 11-minute mile runs (I'm giving it 60 days and if my efficiency doesn't improve, I'm ditching the new gadget).

At my next marathon, I'll be as happy as this 80-year-old who narrowly defeated me last time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ultimate Endurance Test

Apparently there are illegal immigrants who have obtained Social Security cards.  If this is true--which it probably is since I read it on the Internet--these people need to be found and interrogated.

I was born in this country.  I'm a United States citizen.  I pay taxes.  But for the life of me, I can't seem to get a social security card.  Perhaps these illegals can help.

It all started a couple weeks ago when my wife suggested I get my documents together in case I need a passport.  "Sure, no problem," I thought. I headed to the local Social Security Administration Office to acquire a replacement card. This particular office, unfortunately, didn't distribute Social Security cards.

I ventured to the correct office, nearly an hour drive, a few days later. It was closed.  Due to a power outage. There wasn't a single building on the street other than this office that suffered the same fate.

I'd like to interrupt this post an offer a book review of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (And It's All Small Stuff): This book is stupid. Not a single thing in it prepared me for my feelings at this moment.

I needed to renew my driver's license too, so I thought I'd take care of two fun activities at once. I found a DMV in the same neighborhood as the aforementioned Social Security Office. Four years ago when I last renewed my driver's license, it was a much simpler world. You just showed them your license, paid some money, got your picture taken, and received your brand new license before you left.

That system was much too convenient.

A stereotypical DMV visits involves an interminable wait. This stereotype exists for a reason. "Hooray," I thought as I plucked a number from the information desk. "Only 113 people in front of me." Luckily I had my Kindle and could read about how we can control our anger.

After a couple hours, I entered the DMV worker's desk, showed her my license, paid my $22, and watched as she hole punched my old license, handed it back with a temporary license, sent me to the photo booth to get my picture taken, and told me I'd get a new license in the mail in 7-10 days.

I then ventured to the Social Security Office.  The power was back on. "Hurray," I thought as I plucked a number from the automated machine. "Only 84 people in front of me."

I sat around for a couple hours. My number arrived. I handed the government bureaucrat my driver's license. He told me it was no longer valid. I smugly handed over the piece of paper the DMV lady gave me. He told me it was no longer valid.

I'd like to interrupt this post an offer a book review of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (And It's All Small Stuff): This book is stupid. Not a single thing in it prepared me for my feelings at this moment.

I will not reveal what conversation transpired at this point. I don't seek to excuse my actions, nor am I proud of the verbal abuse launched on the automaton government bureaucrat, but come on!

I'm really excited about these people being in charge of my health care.