Friday, November 30, 2012

We have a winner!

We have a winner in the free trip to Las Vegas and free entry into the Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll marathon. All you need to do is contact the person in Arizona or Missouri who won the Superball Jackpot and see if they'll spot you a few bucks.

For the record, I flipped a coin and if I'd have won the lottery, Terzah would have had a free trip to Vegas.  And there's a good chance I'd have thrown a free trip in for Arthur too, since he lives here. Alas, I didn't win so you guys will need to pony up the cash if you want to drink tainted water at next year's race and fight ridiculous crowds on the strip, all for the low, low price of a lot of money.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Win a Free Trip to Vegas and an Entry into the 2013 Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Marathon

I live in Las Vegas.  I don’t gamble. When I say I don’t gamble, I’m serious. I haven’t stepped in a casino in years unless I’m headed to the buffet. I love sports, but don’t bet them. When March comes around and people are filling out brackets, I keep mine in my office drawer and keep my money. Raffles? No thanks. 

Only idiots buy lottery tickets.

This will all be mine some day!
On Monday, I officially became an idiot. But I’m not a gambler. In fact, not buying the lottery ticket would have been the real gamble. I’ll explain.

My coworker was planning an excursion to Arizona to “invest” in Powerball tickets. If any of those tickets were to win, everyone would receive a proportional amount of the winnings, so when my colleague approached me about the investment, I initially said no. Then I realized that if the winning ticket were purchased by my coworker, I would work at a place where everyone but me was a millionaire. That would ruin my life. So I bought a ticket as  life insurance.

And if we win? I guess we can all quit our second jobs.

And if we win, I'll hold a random drawing for anyone who follows me (those are good odds, by the way, much better than the odds of us actually winning the lottery, since I have very few followers). The lucky winner will receive a round trip flight to Vegas a 5-night hotel stay, and a paid entry into the LV Marathon in December 2013.

I don't exactly know when this drawing is, but I'll probably know if I win since I'll be the only one at work the next day.

Hopefully, the water won't be tainted this year.  Nothing sucks more than hard core vomiting and violent diarrhea after running 26.2.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Miracle of Heart Rate Monitor Training: Really Big Free Half Marathon Review

Some thoughts on the Really Big Free Half Marathon at Lake Mead in Nevada

The Miracle of Heart Rate Monitor Training

I read a book about a middle-aged guy who wanted to get in shape and complete amazing feats of endurance. To build his endurance he started training with a heart rate monitor, keeping his heart rate in the aerobic range. The slowness of his training runs frustrated him. But it worked.

I did a little research on the topic and came across The Big Book of Endurance Training by Phil Maffetone. It talked about building an aerobic base by running with your heart rate in the aerobic zone. I was convinced. It was frustrating at first because I was running 2-3 minutes slower per mile than I was used to. After about a month I couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired of running slow, so I participated in The Boring Runner’s Virtual Sweat Your Thorns Off 5-k. It was in the high 90s and the course was hilly.

I set a pr.

For two months more I ran at my aerobic heart rate. I set another 5-k pr. The question that remained, however, is would it work at longer distances. I had to wait a month to find out. The Really Big Free Half Marathon was coming up.

I set a pr.

The Results

Official Time: 1:49:13
Overall: 85/1119
Men: 63/437
Age Group: 11/67

I’ll put this in perspective. This is the first time I’ve finished in the top half of men and top half of age group. My best overall finish before Saturday was 866 out of 2100.

What I Really Liked about the Experience
  • I passed so many people during the last half of the course. Usually it's the other way around.
  • I felt really good when I finished. Usually, I'm about to implode by mile 13.
  • Did I mention I finished in the top 100. That means I could have gone out with the first wave and not finished in last.
  • I saw some acquaintances and friends. I never run with friends. OK, I don't really have any friends.
The Significance of this PR

I can’t put into words how awesome I feel about this result. On the surface, I only improved my half-marathon pr by 42 seconds, no big deal. Consider, however, the following.

My unofficial pr was exactly 13.1 miles; that is, as soon as the Garmin said 13.1, I stopped. 13.1 at the end of the RBHM was 1:48:22, over a minute-and-a-half better.

This course was tough. My previous pr included only small hills and six miles on a flat surface.

My training was…enjoyable. Most of my training runs were slow and enjoyable. In the four months leading up to the race, I ran “fast” about six times.

The Race

The race began with a steep half-mile incline, one which I’d run many, many times. I knew once I got to the top of the hill and turned right I’d have a nice half-mile downhill. I made darn sure I didn’t overdo it for the first mile. I kept checking my heart rate monitor to make sure that didn’t happen. The next 2.5 miles were hilly—more up then down—and I made sure my heart rate didn’t get out of control. This took patience and discipline. After three miles I was at 26:40, about on pace with what I wanted to run the first half. This was good news insomuch that I hadn’t expended much effort. It was bad news because the most difficult part of the race elevation wise was the next three miles.

By the end of mile five (the steepest and slowest mile of the race), I was at 44:15, an 8:51 pace. I had a decision to make. I had to pick it up for the steep 1.5-mile incline if I were to reach my goal. Because I had run this distance twice in the last month, I knew I could finish. In other words, just finishing didn’t matter. It was time to increase the effort. If I crashed and burned, oh well. I got through mile 6 in just under nine minutes, a good accomplishment considering the elevation increase.

I hit the halfway point in 58:07, seven seconds more than I wanted, but well within reach of a pr and accomplishing my race goal. I turned around and began increasing the intensity. I looked at my watch at the eight-mile mark. I had over forty minutes to finish the last 5.1. I smiled. I celebrated by ticking off a 7-minute mile followed by a 7:35-mile. The last two miles had some nasty uphills but I was so close to reaching my goal, I just powered through.

When I reached the turn at the top of the hill with about a half-mile left, I knew, barring a face plant, I had done it. I sprinted with a smile and crossed the finish line in 1:49:13. I let out a hoot, a whoo, high-fived a stranger, made a complete ass out of myself, and sauntered down to Lake Mead.
Mile Splits: 9:24, 8:40, 8:34, 8:18, 9:15, 8:58, 7:46, 7:53, 7:00, 7:35, 7:58, 8:08, 8:11, 1:29 (.24 miles).

Keys to Success
I’ll make this applicable to the four people who read this. Here’s what allowed me to improve.
  • Heart Rate Monitor Training.
  • Eating Well. Read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, if you want to improve your diet.
  • Race Specific Training. The course was changed three weeks before the race. I was familiar with the course and aware of its hilly nature. I also knew there was a similar hill I run regularly, so I jogged up it and sprinted down it (about 2.5 miles one way) to figure out how fast I could run down. I used the results to devise a plan, which I executed perfectly.
  • I had a plan and executed it. I didn’t panic because I knew exactly what I had to do to reach my goal.
Race Review

I want to emphasize that the Really Big Free Half Marathon was free. I paid a $50 deposit when I signed up. All I had to do was start the race to get it back.

If you’re into getting a super nice t-shirt and a sensational medal with a bag full of stuff you’ll never use and a half-pound of paper that will never be recycled then you’ll not like this race. If you like spending hundreds of dollars on overpriced merchandise at a race expo, you’ll not like this race. The t-shirts were lame. Did I mention the race was free? The medal was basic. Did I mention the race was free? The food at the end was water, Gatorade, bananas, and oranges. Did I mention the race was free?

I could personally care less about the t-shirt and the medal, and bananas and water is what I normally eat after a race.

If you’re into the camaraderie and motivation that comes with running with others, you’d love this race. If you enjoy running on a beautiful course, you’d love this race.

There were some organizational snafus. The course was changed twice and it started a half-hour late. These are things that the organizers will fix for next year. Did I mention the race was free?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Half Marathon PR

I did exactly what I said I was going to do. 1:49:17.  58:07 out. 51:10 back. Race review coming soon. I bet you can't wait. I'll include some different training I did that helped, if you're interested in such things.