Thursday, November 26, 2009

Boulevard Bolt Recap

Hail my running brothers and sisters! Today was my first Turkey Day race and it was a doozy. The field was at least 1000+ strong of timed runners and 7000 non-timed runners and walkers. As I've said before, my training since the marathon has been a bit slow, but I figured that I could still finish under 8:00/mile. I lined up in the finish-under-40-minutes section and waited with my buddy Matt for the race to start. With a field this large, inevitably you have several people line up where they don't belong, and it was clear that was happening today. The gaggle of 9 year old boys and the 70 year old in front of me were evidence of this. But I could have lined up in a faster section also, so I won't complain too much. The biggest problem with this scenario is that I had to weave through the crowd till I got separation from the pack. So that means my start time was slower than I would have liked and I burned a ton of energy surging through the crowd.

Mile 1 - 7:22

By mile 2, I had settled into reasonable pace and found somebody to draft. We'll call him gray Underarmor guy. We also caught a downhill and built up a reasonable amount of speed, but I knew that there was a slight uphill coming up.

Mile 2 - 6:51

At mile 3, I felt the weakness in my training catch up with me. I started to slow down and I was breathing hard.

Mile 3 - 7:10

At mile 4, my right foot started to hurt and my side was aching. Part of me wanted to quit, but the other part refused to let anyone see me walk it out. I saw another family from SBA and pushed on. There's nothing like seeing someone you know to inspire you to keep moving. After all, you don't want them talking about how they saw you walk in a race.

Mile 4 - 7:33

Finally the last mile came and thankfully it was mostly downhill. I was tired and hurting from the exertion, but I knew the end was near. I kept moving and was surprised to cross the line under 36 minutes.

Mile 5 - 6:58

I finished the race in 35:55 at a 7:11/mile pace. Matt finished in 42:00 even. I'm still trying to talk my buddy Frank Ziegler into running a race, and I think this would have been a good race for him since it is flat. Regarding my pace, it was few seconds faster than my 10k pace, but then again, I'm not sure that I could have maintained that pace for another mile. Don't get me wrong, this was a good time and I'm happy with it. However, I still think that I could have done better, and I'm disappointed that I've let my training slip. Clearly I need to get back on the stick and beat my post-marathon pounds off my gut. With that I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and I hope to see some of y'all next Friday at the Rudolph's Red Nose Run 5k. Run hard and have fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Hail my running brothers and sisters! It's Thanksgiving Eve, and tomorrow is a big day. I start off the day with the Boulevard Bolt 5 mile Turkey Trot at 8:00. Then I get to ready myself for Thanksgiving, which my lovely wife refers to as Joel Day (I haven't decided if she calls it that because it's my favorite holiday or if it's because she thinks I'm a Turkey). My mileage has been light the last couple of weeks, but after next Friday, I'm hoping to get back into more serious training. I'll admit that the cold weather and the short days has made it hard for me to motivate for long mileage. Still, I can't wait to get into a race again, even though my training has been less than stellar. I'm hoping to just run under 8:00/mile at this point. Oh well, wish me luck. I'll probably need it! Run hard and have fun!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to the club

Hail my running brothers and sisters! It seems like everyone to whom I've talked has decided to take up running! I'll take some small credit for this trend as I've become a disciple of pounding your body into goo to make a better you (Hey that rhymes!). Even my lovely wife has decided to run a 5k in the near future. As such, I've been fielding questions from newcomers asking for tips to get started. Well hold on to your hats kids, because here we go.
1. Run hard and have fun. Now running 'hard' will be relative to whoever you are. If you've never laced up a pair of running shoes, then a 15 minute mile may be hard. For beginners, I suggest doing a run/walk program of running 2 mins and then walking for 2-3 minutes for 20-30 minutes every other day and increasing the time you run between walks each week. This builds your overall strength and helps your body adapt to the stresses of exercise. If you can do more, good for you; go out and do more. But as I tell my cross-country kids, if you run so hard that you're not having fun, you're running too hard and you need to slow down. A couple of caveats to this is that 1) if you're a beginner, running isn't all that fun at first and 2) if you are racing, winning is fun.
2. Get the right shoes. I suggest going to a running store and having one of their employees properly fit you for the shoe you need. Just like there are different body types, there are different running shoes to accommodate those body types. Not everyone needs a ton of cushioning and stability. You can probably get a better deal on shoes at the big box stores, but they probably won't know which shoe will be right for you. So buyer beware!
3. Run like a bird, not like a chicken. Keep your steps small and light like a bird. I also try to think "Nose over my toes." Light, short, quick steps should keep you from over-striding and risking possible injury. Another visual cue is if you see your toes extend past your knees as you step out, you're over-striding. Keep your back straight and tall, but a slight forward lean from isn't too bad. I don't want to see your arms swinging wild like a chicken running from the farmer. Instead keep your arms bent at about 90 degrees and tucked close to your sides. They should swing forward and back slightly, but your hands shouldn't cross the center-line of your chest. Women with big chests sometimes prefer to keep their hands up to help keep the girls in line. I don't have a problem with that either.
4. Rest like you mean it. When I say only run every other day, I'm not kidding. Unless you've been training for months and your body can tolerate the work, then you don't really need to run everyday. Resting helps your muscles recover enough so that you can go out and throw some more miles on your body the next day. If you feel guilty about completely laying out, then go to the gym and throw up some iron or do some push-ups and sit-ups, but just don't overdo it.
5. Eat like poor person. I didn't come up with this line. I think it may have been Coach Joe Vigil. In any case, this is a tough one, even for me. My secret? Keep your proteins/meats lean, eat lots of veggies and fruit, and cut down on enriched flours and sugars, and you should be good. But what's the use in all this running if you can't on occasion chow down on a box of Oreo's, you say? Go ahead. You have to indulge every once in awhile or you'll make yourself crazy. Just keep it reasonable. Maybe a cookie or two, every other night until you can ween yourself off of the sugar crutch. If that doesn't work for you, by all means go ahead and chow down. I'll see you at the finish line...fatty. Just kiding. Maybe.
6. Rubbing is racing. Actually it isn't, but it got your attention, didn't it? Entering a race can be a great incentive to maintain your training. Even if you're not out to take first place, a race can help set goals for you so that you don't embarrass yourself out there. There's no shame in being last, after all Last is a place (my son told me that one!) and they cheer just as loud. I just ask that if you go out there, finish strong and finish proud of what you've accomplished. And if that isn't good enough, remember you've probably finished more races than the guy sitting in front of the TV with the shameful crumbs of Oreo's covering his belly.
All right, this seems like a good time to wrapping things up. And so you're probably thinking that we've reached the part of the blog where I say to keep your goals realistic. Sorry, this ain't that part, and frankly, I have no idea what reasonable is (you heard me, Ziegler! I'm still waiting for you to trot your ass out here! Ha!). Personally I may never be happy until I've won the Boston Marathon. Will that ever happen? Puh-lease! But it doesn't stop me from trying. I just understand that this won't happen over-night. Likewise, good things will happen to you if you give yourself a chance to realize your goals and persevere through the tough times. There are always new ways running can reward you. 1 more mile. 10 seconds faster. 5 more pounds off the spare tire. You get the picture. Run hard, have fun!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Clarksville Half-Marathon

Hail my running brothers and sisters! First off, congratulations to all my friends (who knew I had friends!) who used this race as their first half! It was a great day for a race, if not a bit windy (we'll talk about that later). So onto the re-cap:

Pre-race: I arrived at the course, finished my usual breakfast of pb&j on toast, and quickly found the port-a-potties. I took care of business numero dos, and then I went off to stretch and warm up. 20 minutes before the starting gun, I made my way to the port-a-potties again to relieve my nervous bladder, but the line was so long that I ended up running into the woods. Interestingly, I wasn't the only one doing so, but I was the only guy!

The Start: I looked around for a couple of my friends, and finally found them right before the starting gun. I wished them luck and trotted up to the front. The race didn't have a wave start or corrals, so everyone just picked where they wanted to start.

Miles 1-4: I did in 7:12, 7:15, 7:35 and 7:37 respectively. In my typical fashion, I started out way too fast. The adrenaline was really pumping, but I would pay for it later in the race. As is also typical, the first 2 miles lied to me and told me that I felt awesome and would surely whip this course. The course was still relatively flat at this point and was easy to traverse. Mile 4 was my wake up call to how badly unprepared I was, because my left calf started to cramp up ever so slightly (but enough that it caught my attention). Part of the problem was that I only got water at the drink stations. I didn't know where the gatorade was, so I settled for water (I later learned that they ran out of water at some which sucked for the later runners). By mile 4, I was so overheated, I also made the decision to shed my long sleeve shirt and ran baring my bronze awesomeness for the rest of the race. This also resulted in a number of cheers at one spectator spot, "Go shirtless guy!!!" I of course pointed at them and yelled back, "You know it, baby!"

Miles 5-8: I did in 7:46, 7:56, 7:44, and 7:51. The middle part of the race was a real test of my patience. The course became hillier and curvier. This was also when I discovered that the course was not closed off. Traffic was intermittently coming through forcing the runners to the side of the street. Had I known that the course was not closed, I might not have run it, especially since I was nearly run over by a cement truck at mile 8. The driver clearly saw their were runners on the road, but he didn't seem to care as he plowed on through into the racer's lane. I managed to jump ahead and to the side as he finally slowed down, but it really made me angry as it had upset my pace. Add to that, the wind had picked up and suddenly I found myself running into a headwind.

Miles 9-12: I did in 8:10, 8:55, 8:58, and 8:17. This is where the wheels came off and I nearly gave up. I had been following a long line of traffic, cars, not runners, and the fumes, the headwind, and the hilly course had all taken their toll. I was nearly whipped and ready to quit, but I knew that the end was close. So I did a gut check, mentally told myself to quit acting like a particular part of a woman's anatomy, and picked up my pace at mile 12.

Mile 13.1: I did in 8:55 and 1:14. The last mile was just about holding on and finishing. My left calf was tightening up, my butt was sore, and my right ankle was on fire. I limped over the finish line despite my best effort to make a final kick. I got a PBR of 1:45:31, 13:27 minutes faster than my time 6 months earlier. I headed straight for the vitamin water (which sucks by the way. Give me gatorade any day), drank it down, ate some chicken biscuit, and wandered around as I waited for my friends to cross the line.

My final impressions of the Clarksville Half-Marathon is that it was fun but hard. It was really cool that I knew so many people running the race, but it could have been better organized. The weather was perfect except for the wind, but that just goes with the territory. The course was challenging but not overwhelming. Now, I'm going to limp back to my couch and rest my ankle. Good luck and godspeed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WTF was I thinking????

Hail my running brothers and sisters! Maybe you all can help me figure out WTF I was thinking when I signed up to do a half-marathon 3 (count 'em 3!) weeks after my very first marathon! Seriously, I poured a lot of time and effort into that marathon and was lucky to come up with a sub-4 hour finish, so why on God's green earth would I believe that I could turn around and bang out another 13.1 mile race 3 weeks later. Like my wife says, I'm not Tarahumara, I'm from Tull-a-homa (to get this joke, you need to have read Born to Run and shame on you if haven't read it yet).

At some point this week, I ended up having this conversation with myself:

-Joel, you've run farther than 13 miles on any given weekend, just treat this like a training run, right? Am I right?

-Wrong, asshatius! You, my friend, forget that being a Monkey Boy with banana's for brains, treat every race like...wait for it... a race! There's no training runs on race day! That young jedi is why you fail.

-Well crap on a cracker!

So what will I do? Simple, I will run my ass off despite that I haven't run over 20 miles a week in the last 3 weeks, and I will probably break something important. Hopefully it won't be a part that I tend to store my brains in at various points of the day as my wife would be very unhappy with me. Love you Dear! But I digress. Before this week, I was hoping that I could cut my time down to around 1:40 to finish. Now, I think that I'll be lucky to finish under 2 hours. I'm still excited about the race, especially since this is a first half-marathon for a couple of my friends. I could decide to pace my friends and help them finish, but we all know that would be lie. I can't be trusted to hold back on race day. Seriously, if stupid were a pill, I would be a frickin pharmacy. Pray for me, my dumbass will need it. Ugh. Good luck and godspeed.

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