Tuesday, December 31, 2013

LVTC Half Marathon Recap

Let's not mess around. I set a new pr of 1:46:58.

The Three Sisters

The goal was actually 1:45, but at mile 5 when I realized the next 1.55 miles consisted of the Three Sisters, I changed my goal to setting a new pr, previously 1:49:17. For those of you not familiar with the Three Sisters, they're really steep and really long, at least they seem long. The three set of rolling hills last about 1.25 miles. They're too steep to run down, so it was basically a 2.5 mile stretch (out and back course) where running was very slow.  I averaged between 9:30 and 9:50 on this stretch. I don't have the exact times because my GPS didn't start working until mile 7.

If the course would have been like I thought it was, I would have easily broke 1:45. If it had been a flat course, I could have broke 1:42. I might just do my own half marathon time trial in February, but I'm not really sure what that would prove.

The Sisters on the way out.

Here's a good shot of the Middle Sister. The Last Sister's steeper.

The Race

The first two miles were uphill, which meant the last two miles were downhill. I'm not sure what I ran the first two miles in, but the last two miles I ran in 14:15. That's pretty speedy for the last two miles of a half marathon (for me at least). I then enjoyed three miles of down hill. That was nice. By mile 4--there were some hard to spot mile markers along the course--I was well under an 8:00-mile pace. Then came the aforementioned Three Sisters. I finished the first half in 51:15, about a minute slower than I had planned.

Then came the turnaround. And the Three Sisters.

I still felt strong, but there's only so fast you can run up three gigantic hills. I stopped and walked momentarily on each of them. Following the Three Sisters came a steady 3-mile uphill slog. I was disciplined and focused. I had run this portion of the course before and knew what I could do. The 1:45 mark was out of the question with four miles to go, but I knew I could shatter my previous pr, also set on a hilly course last November, but nothing like this one. The final two miles were tough but fun.

I was happy to be done!
 My Fitness

Despite sputtering a bit a couple weeks before the race, I was in the best shape of my life, having completed 51 runs of 10 miles or more during the year. There was no bonking or any such thing. Nobody passed me the last 10 miles. It was a small race. I passed seven people, five the second half and three on the last mile (ha!). I got stronger as the race progressed.

The Competition

This was a Las Vegas Track Club event. The quality of runner was very high. I finished 18/41 overall, 17/26 among men (only got chicked by one runner) and 2/2 in my age group. To put this in perspective, last November I ran two minutes slower on a less difficult course and finished 89/1100. It was good for me to race with accomplished runners this year. I plan on running this again next year (only $25).

OK, I places 2/2 in my age group, but I'm taking the medal!

I'm gonna rest. I've found a fast downhill marathon in September. I think it's time I qualified for Boston.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

LVTC Holiday Half Race preview

The 1st annual LVTC Holiday Half Marathon takes place on December 21, 2013. Here’s a little race plan and preview.

The Course

Although the course is an out-and-back originating at Equestrian Park in Henderson, it’s certainly no walk in the park, even if you completely bonk at mile 10 and roll down the hill to the finish line. I mapped it out on MapMyRun.com so I could get the elevation profile, which was unnecessary since I used to ride my bike there three or four times per week.

Throw in the fact that I work less than five minutes away, running the course was no problem. It starts at Equestrian Park and goes up hill for 2.2 miles. Not a crazy up hill, but steady and relatively steep. It then heads down for 4.35 miles, at which point one must turn around or risk running up the Three Sisters, which could lead to extreme pain.

The course begins at 2083 feet, goes up to 2310 at about 2.2 miles, shoots down to 1717 at the turnaround and then goes back.

The Plan and the Goal

There are some steep hills—up and down. My uphill pace needs to be 8:30. My downhill pace needs to be 7:30 to reach my goal time of 1:45. I actually think I can do it faster.

I did a practice run a couple Saturdays before the race, attempting to mimic the last 6.55 miles. I did a three mile jog downhill and then started a 4.35-mile climb, followed by a 2.2-mile descent, finishing in 52:15. If I could run the last half of the race in 52: 15, I’d shatter the 1:45 mark.

However, I ran part of the course twice, and the hills on the actual course are steeper than the hills on my practice course. I did a 6.5-mile run on the course last Friday, giving a decent effort over what would be miles 10, 11, 12. I ran a pretty steep mile 10 in 8:17. It was a steady, straight steep. Mile 11, on the other hand, was much more difficult. I ran it in 8:53. Mile 12 was fun. I did it in 7:00 flat.

The grade was 3% on the two uphill miles, although the second one seemed a lot steeper. There is a stretch, the first 1.5 miles after the turnaround, that’s steeper.

I’m going to shoot for an 8:45 pace on the 4-mile uphill stretch at the turnaround and a 7:15 4-mile stretch on the same downhill.

The Training

I have done 51 long runs this year (10 miles or more). I’ve done 24 long runs since September 1. I did nine in November and three in the first 10 days of December. The half marathon distance, therefore, is not at all intimidating. For that reason, I’m focused on finishing fast.

I usually go out conservatively and cruise to the finish line, passing hundreds the last half. I negative split my last half marathon and my last marathon. I enjoyed those two races, setting prs in both. I’m not going out conservatively this time. I’m starting fast and finishing fast. If I crash and burn, I crash and burn. I need to really see what I’m capable of doing.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to point out I’ve set prs in the 5k, 5-mile and 10k distances over the past month-and-a-half. I fully intend on shattering my prs in the 10-mile and half marathon distance, despite the crazy hills.

By the way, happy holidays from my clan!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Should Races Be Held on Christmas Day?

I read a really annoying article on Runner's World today about the increasing prevalence of organized running events on Christmas Day and whether or not there should be.


What does it matter to me or anyone if someone wants to hold or run a race on Christmas Day? People need to stop sticking their nose into other people's business. Although I have no plans to enter a Christmas Day race, I'm not going to tell you not to. Also, what do these anti Christmas Day organized running events want to do about it, anyway? Make it illegal? Protest? Some people just need to get a life.

How can you possibly have a problem with this?
To recap: If you want to run a race on Christmas Day, I hope it goes well. If you don't want to run a race on Christmas Day, don't.

Christmas Commercialization

These are the same people that whine about Christmas being too commercialized. Is it? I don't know. I choose not to participate in much of the commercialization. If you think it's too commercialized, then stop going to the mall and stop watching so much TV. I find Christmas commercials annoying, so I don't watch TV other than football (Speaking of football, all you Buckeye haters better wise up and recognize The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes).

It's really not that hard.

By the way, save your self righteous, anti Santa Claus bull crap for someone else. I worship Jesus, too. I love Jesus. I have been a missionary for Jesus. But if you wish to emphasize Santa, that's your own darn business. And buy me a gift while you're at it.

This pretty much captures the spirit of the holiday

To recap: If you want to go hog wild and make Christmas all about buying presents, go ahead. If you don't want to make Christmas all about buying presents, then don't, and God bless you.

Black Friday

Since we're on the subject of people who think they know what's good for everyone, Let's talk about Black Friday. I have no idea why anyone would want to go shopping on this day and I certainly don't know why anyone would want to shop for pre-Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, but apparently somebody does.

This doesn't set well with some people. These people, too, need to get a life. If someone wants to shop on Thanksgiving, why do I care? And if a store wants to open and offer great deals on Thanksgiving, go for it. I'm not going, but if you are, pick me up something good.

I'm bringing this guy with me to Wal-Mart

To recap: If you want to shop on Thanksgiving, good luck. If you don't want to shop on Thanksgiving, then don't.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rock to Pier Race Report: I Won!

OK, there were only four people in the race. I still won, though.

Distance: 6.07 miles
Time: 47:32
Pace 7:49
Place: 1/4

There was an actual Rock to Pier race two days before. If I'd have run that--the conditions were similar and the course was exactly the same. I may have had a bit stronger of a head wind when I ran, but we'll give the racers the benefit of the doubt.

Hypothetical Place: 157/1052
Hypothetical Age Group Place: 6/32

The Competition

It was the 7th time I've run this race, the 5th as part of a family reunion event and the first time I won. By the way, I set a pr by 2:27. Because I run this race every year, I use it as a fitness gauge. Needless to say, I'm pleased with my improvements.

The other contestants were my brother-in-law Parry, who beat me three years ago. He finished last this year, about 10 minutes back. Then there was Leslie and Tim. I'm not sure how I'm related to them, or more accurately, I'm not sure how my wife is related to Leslie since it's their family's reunion.

I figured I would win this year. There were no returning champions and Tim and Leslie had never run six miles before, although Tim, a very fit, athletic and handsome man in his twenties, had run a mile in around five minutes, so I knew I'd have to have a substantial lead by the last mile.

I'm going to treat the rest of this blog post as if someone cared about who won. It will be pretentious. I may indulge in self-importance. I may not.

The Race

When the race began, I kind of forgot it was a race, probably because there were only four of us, the starting line was a line in the sand that I scratched out with my foot, and there were only four of us. After about 20 seconds I remembered I wanted to run fast and that I wanted to win the race, so I sped up.

I was immediately concerned because I was breathing fast but it didn't seem like I was going fast, so I took a peek at my watch and saw I was going at about a 7:20 clip. For me, that's fast. Too fast. That was the first and last time I looked at the speed section of my GPS. I finished the first mile in 7:32. Tim and I were running together.

I  slowed down to a comfortable, fast pace, figuring my superior aerobic capacity would, in the long run, trump his superior speed (not to mention his physique, overall fitness, and good looks).

At the end of mile 2, I approached the section of rocks, a section that slowed me down last year because the tide was in and I had to run over a rocky section. This year I was in luck. Tide was out and I could continue to run at a comfortable, fast pace. I ran mile 2 in 7:52. There was about 15 feet of separation at this point.

There have been many a Rock to Pier family reunion run when the person I needed to beat was 10-15 feet ahead, so I knew exactly what my opponent was thinking. It's something like, "I'll just hang as close as I can and maybe he'll slow down and I'll pass him farther up." I also know that that's a lot easier to think than it is to do. I also knew I wasn't going to slow down. I also knew I was going to win.

I clocked miles 3 and 4 at 7:51 and 7:52. The lead was getting bigger but Tim was still too close for me to relax too much, but I was starting to tire and slowed down just enough to make sure I had something for the last mile. I knocked out mile 5 in 8:00. I almost felt bad for not accepting water from my kind of aunt and uncle, who had kindly came out to cheer us on and give us water, but there was no way I was going to waste time drinking water on a 6-mile run when it was below 60 degrees.

With a mile left, it was apparent I wasn't going to be caught, but I took no chances. If he was going to beat me, he was going to have to turn in a 5-minute mile. And if he turned in a 5-minute mile, I would have accepted my defeat with grace. I ran mile 6 in 7:51 and the last .07 at about the same pace. I came across the line about 1:20 ahead of the next finisher.



  1. Gotta love the mile splits: 7:32, 7:52, 7:51, 7:52, 8:00, 7:51. It's amazing how much easier it is to pace on a flat course. The first mile was a little fast and I purposely slowed on mile 5 to make sure I had something left, just in case. Four miles at pretty much the same pace is mathematically pleasing.
  2. I was happy to hear, via my mother-in-law, via Facebook that the second place competitor was taking the race seriously.
  3. I can run faster than this. Although beach temperatures are ideal and the flat course is nice, it's a little tougher running in sand than it is on pavement. That's probably why my calves were mooing the next day.

Will I Ever Qualify for Boston?

Probably not. But I'll keep trying.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to get used to running in the heat...

As the pleasant smell of mouldering baby poop ignites my senses, it can only mean summer has arrived and I need to take out the garbage. For runners, it means yet one more reason to wear booty shorts.

You've been waiting all winter to sport those bad boys!

My method for acclimating to the heat makes it less likely you'll end up convulsing on the black top due to heat stroke. By the way, I'm not a doctor. I'm not a running coach. Heck, I'm not even fast. But I do live in the desert, Las Vegas to be precise, and it gets freaking hot here in the summer.

The Uncle Trentie Method for Summer Running Acclimation

First off I will not include information such as drink lots of fluids. Any dingleberry knows that.

Step 1: Don't be an idiot. Unless you're training for BadWater, there's limits. Be aware of them.

Step 2: Wear a heart rate monitor. Your body has to work harder when it's hot. Sometimes you don't realize just how hard it's working until your tongue swells and you're sprinting from imaginary snakes. A heart rate monitor gives you instant feedback.

Step 3: Run with your heart rate in the aerobic zone (70-80% of your max heart rate). If you're not sure what that heart rate is, simply subtract your age from 180. You should not exceed this heart rate during your acclimation runs. There are other variables you can discover with a simple "heart rate monitor training" Google search. I, for example, can run 5-10 beats higher than that number because I took the time to figure out what my max heart rate really was, but that's for the experts to explain to you. I strongly urge you to study the teaching of Phil Maffetone.

Step 4: Run with your heart rate in the aerobic zone. I included this twice because you will think it's too slow and start running faster. Notice this post is titled how to get used to running in the heat. That's all you're doing. You're not racing. You're not doing intervals. Most importantly, you're not dying. When your heart rate gets above your aerobic threshold, slow down. If the rate doesn't decrease, walk. It's ok. It's 100 freaking degrees. It's ok to walk 20 yards to avoid ending up face down in a piss puddle on Fremont Street.

If you're running in the Vegas desert and see this, you're probably hallucinating.
Step 5: When you have to stop, and you will have to stop, eat an orange slice. If you've ever had an orange slice during a race, you probably found it to be the most disgusting fruit ever created. That's because those oranges have been sitting out in the sun for three hours. Put a few oranges in the refrigerator. Cut them in to fours. Put then in a plastic bag. Put them in your pockets. When you stop to walk or slow down, eat one. They're freaking good. Trust me.

Step 6: Remain near a water source. I happen to have a swimming pool. I understand that in some parts of the country a swimming pool is a luxury. In Las Vegas, everyone has one. When the temperature gets above 95, pretty much every day between June and the end of September, I'll run a loop that passes my house and dunk my head in the swimming pool every 2-3 miles. Sprinklers work to. So does a hose. A bottle of water as a last resort is sufficient.

Nothing impresses the ladies more than a sweaty man wearing nothing but a heart rate monitor dunking his head in a swimming pool.
 Step 7: Run near a park. Parks have drinking fountains.

Of course if you had any sense, you'd run at night or early morning.

In case you were wondering who Phil Maffetone was, it's this guy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The good and the bad from UVM #2 with tips and advice from a marathon novice

As I was struggling to finish my first marathon without collapsing or soiling myself, I was taken aback by a tall fellow just running along with a happy, goofy grin on his face. While me and many of my marathoning colleagues wanted to end our life by hopping in front of a bus, this guy seemed to be enjoying himself.

I wanted to be that guy.

I was that guy. I'm about to annihilate that runner in the bright green.

The good (during the race)...

Pacing. The most crucial part of my race plan involved the first seven miles, the fastest part of the course. I vowed, however, not to start out fast like most runners do on this course. If I was going to error, it was going to be erring on the side of caution.  I stole the first seven miles. I knew that many of the people passing me on this stretch would be wishing they were me in the second half.

Negative splitting. I didn't necessarily plan on negative splitting, especially with the first half having more of an elevation drop, but I did. I ran the first half in 2:00:55 and the second half in 2:00:00.

Still felt good at the end
Passing people. I passed over 250 people the second half of the race. It was freaking awesome. From mile 13-24, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I felt strong. Last year I felt exactly like all those people I passed. I couldn't believe how many people were walking. I was 862 at the halfway point. I was 419 the second half and 605 overall. In short, I was that guy.

The good (training)...

Miles. I ran considerably more miles in preparing for my second marathon. I set monthly distance records three times.

Slow miles. The first time around, I did every training run as fast as I could. That was stupid. This made recovery difficult.

Base building. I used a heart rate monitor and applied the teachings of Phil Maffetone to build a strong aerobic base. That allowed me to set multiple prs over the last nine months.

Consistent schedule. I had a basic schedule. Run on Monday, semi-long. Run on Wednesday, tempo or mile repeats. Run on Thursday, recovery (In the building phase I would do 6-8 mile slow runs on both Wednesdays and Thursdays). Saturday, long run. Although I had to alter the schedule because of life, I knew when the week started that I was going to run four times, one would be long and one would be fast.

Long run difficulty. I knew the course had a tough hill at mile 7 and mile 16. I tried to put a hill at mile 7 of medium runs in training and, more importantly, I put a long hill (about 5 miles) at around mile 15 of my long runs. I was also lucky enough to get strong headwinds at the end of those runs too, just in case (there was no actual head wind at the marathon). The uphill segments during the race had little effect on me.

The bad (the race)...

Piss problems. I drank way too much the night before and the morning of the marathon. I stopped five times to pee in the first ten miles and used the port-a-potty at mile 13. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why I barely missed that 4:00 marathon time.

Too conservative. I may have run the first half too conservatively. Oh well.

Tangents. Running to the side of the road to pee five times makes it difficult to run the tangents. I ran over .25 miles too far.

The bad (training)...

Hip. I got injured in the middle of February. Since I'd never injured my hip before, I had no idea that that hip flexor soreness would cost me six weeks of good training. I was really in a groove up to that point.

Fat. I'm too fat. I weighed about 186 for this marathon.

Running from Mediocrity

I finished 605/1471 overall; 402/823 for men; 62/128 for my age group. That's the top half in all three, but still dangerously close to mediocrity. But at least I'm running from mediocrity and not running to it like I had been.

What about Boston?

Well, the ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston. I'm not even close. Will it happen? Probably not. But I'll keep trying.

What next?


Thinking about Running from an Angel Marathon in January or Boulder City Marathon in December. I will not sign up, however, until my weight is 175 or below. My only hope for getting better is to stop eating so stupid.
That's one fat marathoner (with good chi-running form)

Monday, June 17, 2013

How I peed away my goal at the Utah Valley Marathon and why I don't care...

My stated goal for the 2013 Utah Valley Marathon was 3:54. That's not the goal I peed away. It's the 4-hour goal that eluded me by 55 seconds. Here's how it all went down.

First off, I executed my plan to near perfection with just two important glitches: (1) I foolishly said I could easily run a 1:55 half marathon the second half. Luckily, I was not foolish enough to try it when I realized I could not back up my boast; (2) I urinated five times and made a porta-potty stop in the first 13 miles.


I ate well the three days before the marathon and drank well on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday included a long drive, so I didn't drink too much during the day. At night, however, I drank two gigantic Powerades. Since I didn't have to go to the bathroom during the night--I slept from 10 p.m. - 3 a.m.--I figured I needed a little more hydration, so I slammed a glass of water and two Vitamin Waters. Of course, once you get to the starting line, there's plenty of Powerade begging to be drunk.

I met some new friends who I'll never see again and warmed myself by a fire. I warmed up nicely, got the legs loose and went to the bathroom a few times. I figured it was just nerves. Then the race started.

Miles 1-7: My plan had me stealing these miles, and I did. Unfortunately, I stopped four times in the first seven miles to urinate. I decided to run right behind the 3:55 pacer. The first two times I stopped, he would get ahead and I would catch up mostly, but then I'd have to go again and by the fourth stop he was farther ahead than I wished to catch up to. I convinced myself that going slower here was a good idea, so I just kept with the plan and finished the first seven miles in about 62 minutes.

That was two minutes slower than I wanted and 4.5 minutes slower than last year, but I was fine. I had stuck to my plan and considering the pee breaks, I was at just the pace that would allow me to finish well. There were quite a few runners ahead of me that I knew I'd be passing later in the race. That's a good feeling.

Hi everyone!
Miles 8-13.1: The long hill at miles 8-9 were a lot easier this year. That may be because they switched sides of the road to run on or it may be I had planned my training runs so that mile 7 meant going up an annoying hill. It's probably both. I only had to stop to urinate once during this section and I rolled in to the halfway point at a shade over 1:58. Perfect. Except I was about to poop my pants.

It's time for an interlude. Because I was an expert, having run the race before, I dispensed important advice to my fellow marathoners. And that advice was if you can hold it, wait until the halfway point to use the port-a-potties. There's a ton of them at the half marathon start. This advice became even more relevant since the course had no other port-a-potties. Apparently, the race director drove the course with the port-a-pottie provider the day before the race, but the port-a-potties were never delivered. Sounds a little fishy to me.

Anyhow, at mile 10, I needed a port-a-pottie. Bad. I was able, fortunately, to will my bowels and follow my pre-race advice to hold it until the half marathon start, which I did. Thankfully. You have no idea what a glorious site it was to round the bend and see a huge line of sea green port-a-potties lining the road. It was angelic.

I stumbled out of the port-a-pottie refreshed and lightened--physically, emotionally and mentally. The contrast from last year's race was stark. Last year, I availed myself of the port-a-pottie as a precaution and crossed the half-way point in under 1:57. But I was toasted. I had run it too fast and was dreading the second half.

This year's race, I hit the half way mark at 2:01 feeling absolutely fantastic and ready to crush the second half.

Miles13.1-21: I spotted the 4-hour pacer about a minute ahead and sped up to catch up to her. When I got there, I liked the pace she was running and tagged along for the next seven miles. I don't remember much from this section other than passing hundreds and hundreds of runners who had made the same mistake I'd made last year. I was experiencing a runner's high. I recall the pacer turning around and telling me I was strong on the hills. That was nice of her.

There was no wall at mile 20. There would be no wall.

Dang, I'm handsome!
Miles 21-24: At mile 21, the pacer stopped to drink water. I took off. I felt strong but tired a bit as mile 24 approached.

Miles 24-26.2: Aw heck! I slowed down. My hamstrings started to cramp and the 4-hour pacer passed me. I laid in wait at mile 25. I needed to finish the last 1.2 miles in 10 minutes. Part of my long run training involved 10-minute bursts at 8-minute mile pace or faster. I had this. Unfortunately, about 10 steps into my burst, my right hamstring cramped and I had to slow down. Dang!

The Finish Line: Ha! Ha! Hee! Hee! I made it. I sprinted the last half-mile and crossed with both hamstrings cramping pretty good. The second half took two hours. That's right: a negative split. I passed over 250 individuals the second half of the race.

Well Done!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Utah Valley Marathon Preview

It’s time for yet another Utah Valley Marathon. For a review of last year’s Utah Valley Marathon, follow the link. Here’s a preview of the 2013 Utah Valley Marathon from the guy who finished a mediocre 856 out of 2056 runners last year. 

We’ll see if I can run from mediocrity this year.

Goal time: 3:54

I included several factors when determining a goal time for this year’s marathon, not the least of which was the excruciating pain I felt last year towards the end of the race. According to every metric/race prediction formula/running expert magical prediction, this is a conservative goal. My half marathon times, number of miles at race pace, Yasso 800s and other random race time predictors indicate consistently that I should be able to log a 3:50 race time.

These indicators dictate, of course, that I train properly for the distance by completing all my long runs and mileage goals, which I have. Here are some tallies since January 1:
  •   I’ve completed 19 runs of 10 miles or more.
  • About half of those were 15 or more miles.
  • The three longest were 19.15, 20 and 20 miles.
  •  The two twenty mile runs were done on May 15 and May 22.
So why the conservative goal? Long runs. I haven’t felt particularly strong on the last two 20-milers. Considering how I did on those, 3:54 is a rather ambitious goal. My race plan, however, isn’t necessarily linked to time, but to effort, meaning there could be a significant swing (either way) in the results. 

By linking my plan to effort—as dictated by heart rate—I can account for weather and other things that pop up during a long race.

The plan

I’m using the results from last year’s race (4:12:57 finishing time) to shape my race plan this year. It is important to keep in mind that I am a more capable runner now than I was a year ago. I’m looking for the 4:00 pacer and letting him or her start out two minutes before I do, hoping to catch him around the half way point.

Miles 1-7: Other than the final 10-k, this is the most important section of the course. Last year I ran it in 58:35—too fast. I figured since it was almost entirely downhill that I could get away with it. I was wrong. 8:22 miles were still too fast.

This year I plan to steal these miles. I’ll strap on the heart rate monitor and not let my heart rate get above 147. This takes discipline, especially on rested legs, even more discipline perhaps than finishing the last 6 miles on dead legs. If I am able to master myself, these miles will seem like nothing more than a nice warm-up. 

Because the miles are downhill, I can keep the heart rate down without going too slow. If I
can get these seven done in under an hour (8:34/mile), I’ll be happy. I will not speed up, however, to accomplish it.

But wait. That’s only 12 seconds per mile slower than last year’s pace, which ultimately led to you wanting to hurl yourself into the canyon at mile 10. Yes, but I am a much more capable runner this year than last year, and if I’m not, that’s OK. I’ll run it slower. 

Miles 8-11: Last year, I ran these four miles in 36:19. Pretty good considering the two mile steep incline starting on mile 8. This stretch probably led to my demise more than any other part of the course. 

This is an OK section to run a bit slower than goal pace. And I plan on it. I will allow the heart rate to increase on the uphills. If it gets to 160, I‘ll slow down. Once I crest the hill at the 10-mile point, I will give my heart rate a chance to decrease before hitting my stride once again. If I can hit these four miles around the previous year’s 36:19, I’ll be very pleased. If not, I won’t panic.

Miles 12-13.1: Last year, I did these two miles in 20:05. Why so slow? I stopped at the porta-potties to take care of business. These miles are also characterized by hilliness. I do know that the first half of this marathon did me in. I finished it in just under 1:57. I had completed my last long run in training four weeks before the marathon. The longest run I had done during that month was 11 miles. I was cooked at this point. 

That will not happen again.

If I finish the first half in under two hours, I feel good about my chances of hitting 3:54, although the closer to 1:57, the better I’ll feel. This is true if, and only if, I follow my race plan—especially the first seven miles. I ran an 8:25 pace for 15 miles recently that included a 1:50 half marathon. I also nailed a 1:49 half marathon on an extremely hilly course not long ago. I ran a 1:52 half marathon on a recent 20-mile run (full disclosure: I flamed out the last four miles).

All these efforts involved wind, heat, hills or a combination thereof. Basically, what I’m saying is I don’t need to have perfect running conditions to bag a 1:55ish half marathon, even if it is the second consecutive one. 

The key, however, is to not burn up the first half. I’ll repeat this. The key is to not burn up the first half.

Miles 14-16: These miles, I believe, are mostly downhill. Last year I ran them in 27:18. Mile 15 was my last sub-9-minute mile. By mile 16, I was done.

At around mile 15, I’ll check my heart rate only to make sure I’m not red-lining. Otherwise, I’m running by feel.

Miles 17-20: The last significant uphill ends around mile 18, notwithstanding some hilliness to the end of the canyon—the canyon feels awfully confining at this point. I ran this section in 40:30 last year. If I run it in 40:30 this year, I can forget about finishing in under four hours. It’s during these miles I have to run that fine line between not burning myself out, but keeping up a fast enough pace.

Miles 21-26.2: Last year I ran 21-23 in 28:12. I felt great. I had pounded a Gu at mile 20 and was keeping up with the 4:00 pacer. I hit the wall, hard, at mile 23, running the last 3.34 miles in 42:09. I didn’t see the 4:00 pacer after the mile 23 marker. I just wanted to finish.

I have no strategy for the last 6.2. Whatever I have left, I’ll give. If it gets me across in 3:54, I’ll celebrate. If it gets me across in 4:00, I’ll celebrate. If it gets me across alive, I’ll celebrate.

Food and Drink

I made a big mistake by not eating or drinking enough the two days before the marathon. That will not happen again. Last year I stopped at every water station. I won’t do that this year. But I will make a concerted effort to eat more. I will grab a Gu at every opportunity and drink Powerade at minimum every other stop.

On second thought, my heart rate monitor's been annoying me lately. I'm just gonna run by feel.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Some Book Reviews

I read a lot. Here are some books on running I've read over the past few months with recommendations.

The Big Book of Endurance Training by Phil Maffetone

Ratings: 10/10 for useful information; 2/10 for entertainment.

Review: This book changed my life. If you've struggled with injuries or bonked at your most recent marathon or have hit a plateau in your training, read the book. You'll want a heart rate monitor after reading it, so get one now. My race times have dropped dramatically since reading it and doing what it says.

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll

Ratings: 6/10 for useful information; 8/10 for entertainment

Review: Dude was a college swimmer turned alcoholic. He then became a recovering alcoholic turned fatass. Dude then completed an Ironman triathlon on five of the Hawaiian Islands in like seven days or something ridiculous like that. I could have done without the me and my wife are so enlightened because of our East Asian philosophy and Vegan diet preaching, but it was a pretty good story. The part about overcoming his addictions was actually more interesting than the triathlon parts. This book introduced me to the concept of heart rate monitor training.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Ratings: 10/10 for information; 5/10 for entertainment.

Review: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. This is a common sense guide to eating healthy. I don't have a lot of common sense much of the time. Anyone who considers him or herself an endurance athlete would benefit from reading it.

Iron War by Mark Fitzgerald

Ratings: Information 8/10; Entertainment 8/10

Review: Fitzgerald recounts the epic Ironman battle of 1989 between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. The first 75% of the book is of pantheon quality. The last 25%, including the part about Mark Allen becoming a shaman surfer, is a little lame. This highly entertaining book has confirmed my suspicion that many world class athletes--especially endurance athletes--aren't necessarily to be admired outside of their fitness accomplishments. Both men had failed marriages, at least partly attributable to their endurance addiction. Karnazes is the only psycho endurance runner with a happy marriage that comes to mind. Dean, I'm counting on you. Keep setting the example!

Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn.

Ratings: Information 5/10; Entertainment 6/10

Review. This just in: Kenyans are fast. Finn is another left-winger who feels the need to apologize for prosperity. Kenyans, according to Finn, are fast because they run a lot as kids. They have too. Westerners are fat and spoiled by modern life.

As far as I'm concerned, the East Africans can have their gold medals. I'll take air conditioning.

Oh by the way: Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Most Depressing Day of the Year

I heard on the radio today (so it must be true) that today is the most depressing day of the year. Let us analyze.
  1. Resolutions. Apparently people are depressed on January 21 because they've already broken their New Year's Resolution. Really? If something was a good idea on January 1, wouldn't it still be a good idea on January 21? It's time to make third week in January resolutions!
  2. The weather's still bad. Not here. It's 60 and sunny right now. Not very depressing.
  3. The inauguration. Sure, the thought of listening to our commander-in-chief make excuses and blame someone else for his mistakes for the next four years is a little depressing, but if national leaders who don't live up to the hype are a reason to get depressed, then I'd have slit my wrists every four years for the past 24 years.
  4. It's Monday. I like Mondays, especially when I don't have to work. In addition, we get to celebrate the life of a great individual who reminded us that governments must protect our god-given rights, not take them away.
  5. Football. If you live in New England or Atlanta, you have every right to be depressed. I don't live in either place.
  6. Internet girlfriends. I suppose if you discovered your girlfriend who died but didn't die never existed and it was blasted all over every media outlet for a week straight and people are making fun of you incessantly, you'd have a good reason to be depressed. That didn't happen to me. My wife is real. And she doesn't have leukemia. And she didn't get in a car accident. And I don't have an Internet or non-Internet girlfriend.
After this thorough scientific analysis, there's really no reason to be depressed today unless you're a fan of the Patriots or Falcons, or you're Mitt Romney, or you just got exposed on national media for falling in love with a non-existent woman.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Running from Mediocrity in 2013

I know you don't care about my running goals and since nobody actually reads my blog, there's really nothing short of me posting naked pictures of farm animals that would attract enough readers to make me actually write a clever goals post for 2013, so you're stuck with this.

I just wanted to get them written down. I'll start with a quick 2012 recap, which I know you're dying to know about.

Finished 2012 with 1055 miles--an all time best. Set a 5-k, 5-mile, 10-k, 10-mile, half marathon and marathon pr.

2013 running goals
  • Set a 5-k pr (23:06)
  • Set a 10-k pr (48:02)
  • Set a 10-mile pr (83:20)
  • Set a half marathon pr (1:49:17)
  • Run a sub four-hour marathon (that would be a pr)
  • Run my first obstacle course race (signed up for Super Spartan run on April 6)
  • Run the River Mountain Loop
Feel free to hold me accountable. I have other goals for the New Year that are far more important than running goals, but they're for another forum.