Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Once, Twice, Three Times a Failure

      Today is Tuesday and that for the past three weeks has meant getting up early and taking my run indoors at WMU's indoor track for some half mile repeats. Due to a series of early morning stupidity that didn't happen as planned today. I set my alarm last night two actually one for 5:20 and one for 5:30 in case I miss the first one. (which happens more than it should) Setting two alarms works great if you actually turn both of them on.
     -Fail Numero Uno- When the first alarm went off this morning I simply turned it off instead thinking I had a back up should I fall asleep before getting out of bed. Well I fell asleep and the alarm that was not on did not go off. Obviously. Luckily I woke up at 5:37 anyway so I technically only lost 7 minutes. No big deal I got ready a little quicker than normal, grabbed my things I had set out the night before and was out the door. I was in a good mood because even with the slight over sleepage I was still about 5-10 minutes ahead of last week just like I wanted to be.
     -Fail Numero Dos- Halfway to the track I realized I had everything I needed....except for my running shoes. While dropping numerous F-bombs I promptly turned the car around to race home and get the shoes that were sitting on the basement steps where they had been drying out from last nights run. Okay got the shoes, heading back to the track, still trying to stay positive. The 10 minute buffer I had is gone but that's okay, just motivation to get those repeats done quicker. No worries I got this, I've got everything I need and I'm almost there.
     -Final Fail- I arrive at the parking lot that usually has a number of cars with the ever so runner popular 26.2 and 13.1 bumper stickers proudly displayed. Strange none of these vehicles are here, in fact the only cars in the parking lot are the two maintenance vehicles. I park and walk up to the building only to find one of Westerns sports teams is having team practice on the indoor track! I hang my head return to my car and suddenly I remember that when I looked at the schedule for the Tuesday morning indoor runs that there was one Tuesday that was absent from the list. Today. Tuesday. January. 25th. I proceed to drop an F-bomb that would rival the atom bomb. I thought about just running on the schools outdoor track but 20 degrees doesn't go well with singlet and shorts. Positive thinking has officially been thrown out the window and I'm so bummed. I returned home for the second time this morning and plopped down on my couch completely disappointed and thinking that this is going to be one of those days. after a couple of minutes of self loathing I looked at the clock and realized that I still had enough time, if I hurry, to change into some outdoor appropriate clothing and I can do my repeats outdoors through the neighborhood with help from my phone GPS. It wouldn't be perfect but it was my only way of salvaging my morning. I changed quicker than David Spade on the airplane in Tommy Boy and was out the door. The slush and general shitty road conditions were less than ideal for speed work but it would have to suffice. I finished my repeats, stretched, showered and was off to work with just barely enough time to reward myself with my Panera bagel sandwich! Okay I may have been two minutes late but in my mind it was totally worth it! I was in dire need of a pick me up and from then on the day carried on without a hitch. Which is good too because I'm generally a pretty easy going person and not much gets to me but man this morning I don't know if I could have taken one more setback with out flippin out! Haha Luckily looking back on it and realizing there wasn't really any harm I've been able to laugh about it and have learned a lesson to always check the schedule the night before! Shoes always make sure you have your shoes too. And turn the alarm on don't just set the time. There that's enough lessons for today. Hope everyone else had a smoother morning than I did!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Step #1 to avoid stupid injuries -turn on the lights!

      Last night I went out for my first of many marathon pace runs. Since I'm shooting for 3:30 marathon that breaks down to 8 minute miles. nice, easy round numbers! After work I set out for my six miles at 8 min pace and did so quite well if I don't say so myself. I ended up running 6.25 miles in 49:33 which works out to about 7:55 pace so pretty darn close! Pacing is always something I've struggled with in the past so this year I'm going to really try and focus on running the pace that I want to and not let outside influences change it too much. The biggest thing is going to be keeping it under control during races, I tend to get caught up in the moment and take off like a greased up deaf guy on company picnic day! By the end of the race that usually bites me in the buttocks so this year we are going to work on that every week. Maybe I'll come up with a mantra or something...yeah that sounds good, I think I'll do that.
      Later last night I was walking through my poorly lit hallway (poorly lit because I didn't turn on a light) and tripped over my sleeping dog who blends in with the dark like he's a shadow. This resulted in me flailing arms and legs around like a marionette who's strings have been cut thus kicking a door jam with my right foot. The last two toes on my right foot to be exact. It hurt like a son of a bisnitch! I hobbled into my room and plopped down on my bed praying that I wouldn't look down to find a busted toe or two. Thankfully other than a little swelling and a whole lot of pain it didn't look too terrible. I went to bed last night hoping that nothing was broken since I've been told there really isn't anything you can do for a broken toe. I contemplated the possibility of just cutting off a toe if it was broken because I'm sure that would heal faster and possibly hurt less when running.....hmmm that may be crazy talk.... This morning I woke to find the swelling had mostly subsided and in it's place a decent looking bruise. Still sore and it continued to stay sore throughout the day but it also started to feel better as the day progressed so I'm not too worried about it any more. Never the less I'm going to take today off and give it some time to heal a little more. I'd rather get in my long run miles this weekend instead of a couple today. So instead I'll do some strength training today and hit the road tomorrow and Sunday.
Looks pretty good tonight compared to this morning

       Hope everyone had a great Friday and your weekends are filled with awesomeness!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quiet Down Debbie, I'm Busy Being Awesome

      As much as I love running, sometimes it seems like the last thing I want to do, or the last thing I should do at that moment. There are mornings I wake and feel so comfortable in bed that getting another hour or two of sleep seems like a much better idea than getting in a few miles. Or maybe it's the afternoon, or after work and I'm feeling sluggish, rushed, stressed or any combination of the three. There have been plenty of times where I've actually dreaded going running. Some of those times I've given in. Over the years there have been quite a few times I've given in to the Debbie Downer attitude. Recently though I've come to realize that so far every time that I've managed to shake some sense into Debbie and get my derriere out the door I've not once regretted it. The same is not true for the times I've let Debbie win. Take this past Tuesday as an example. The alarm went off at 5:30 stirring me from my glorious slumber. ~snooze~ "just ten more minutes". Ten minutes later the all to familiar and annoying "melody" of beeps accompanied by the low tone of the phone vibrating again interrupt my sanctuary of sleep. After a few moments of half asleep internal debate on whether or  not to get out of my cozy warm bed I stretch out and slink out from under my covers and stumble to find my running clothes that I've set out the night before. Which by the way if I hadn't done, I definitely wouldn't have won the debate that took place moments before. I've found I need to have everything ready to go for the next morning like clockwork so that I have no excuses for not getting around early and quickly. After letting the dog out and giving him some food I'm out the door, into the garage and into the car. Sh!t where's my watch?!? I can't do half mile repeats without my watch I think to myself. Yes even after the careful planning of the night before I still managed to forget something. Oops. I scrambled back inside collected the forgotten watch and was back in the car. Welcome to Michigan winter; the roads are total crap. No asphalt here just a wintry mix of slush, snow and ice. This coupled with the press of the snooze button, and the forgotten watch has added up to arriving at Westerns indoor track ten minutes later than I wanted to. The previous week I cut my workout one repeat short due to time restraints and I was starting to stress that it might happen two weeks in a row! Never the less I ran my warm-up and started my repeats feeling somewhat fresh which was nice because I wasn't too pleased with the previous nights workout. (Monday night I struggled through 2.5 miles on the dreadmill at my parents house. I planned on knocking out 3-4 miles but not even the Billy Joel Pandora station could keep me content running on that contraption of boredom!) By the time I was finishing up my second repeat I had almost entirely forgotten about how rushed/stressed I was feeling. Now my mind was bouncing back and forth between upcoming tasks of the day, the pace I was running, and plans for the upcoming year. I felt great throughout the remainder of the workout, finishing all six repeats with time for a couple lap cool-down and some stretching. On my way to Panera to pick up a french toast bagel sandwich (my bribe to myself for getting up early and running) all I could think about was how great I felt and what an amazing feeling of accomplishment I had. I know some of you may be thinking "dude you got up a little early and ran a few laps....la di frickin da!" Well guess what for me it's a big accomplishment so eff off already! Ha ha. I'm just kidding I wouldn't say that. But seriously eff off. This is my blog and I'm not a morning person. So back to where I started, if you can find a way to silence that lazy ass inside of you who answers to the name of Debbie Downer then trust me you will soon be enjoying a delicious french toast bagel sandwich (or whatever else you bribe yourself with because seriously who would get out of bed early without some sort of bribe?) while realizing who AWESOME you are. So there you go. Tell that B!tch Debbie to zip it and go out and be awesome!
      What do you do to motivate yourself when it seems like you're fighting an uphill battle against your inner demon?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Random Ramblings

I realized something today while running. My birthday is April 26th. I knew that part already. The part I realized is that this year I will be turning 26 on the 26th! My golden birthday! Then I realized something else, the Kalamazoo Marathon is May 8th which is two weeks after my birthday. So I've decided that instead of doing much on my actual birthday to celebrate, instead what better way to celebrate turning 26 than by running 26.2? I couldn't think of one so I'll push back the birthday celebration two weeks and get everyone to come out after the marathon for some well deserved drinks. This might actually work as a shameless ploy to get my friends out to cheer on the marathon. It's a two-fer.
This weekends runs went pretty well, six miles yesterday and eight miles today brought the weeks total to 31. Since it snowed quite a bit Friday night I decided to avoid the slush covered roads and drove to the parking lot at the trail head a couple miles from home. Due to construction there is a half mile detour from the parking lot to the trail. Now you've got two options on the detour, sidewalk or the bike path on the shoulder of the road. Guess what, both options sucked and were covered in 4 inches of slush. Awesome. I trudged through the muck the whole time hoping that the trail was in better condition. Lucky for me it was! Though it didn't look like it had been plowed in a few days the snow was packed down and less than an inch deep so running on it wasn't terrible. I finished strong and felt great. After my run I tried out some new workouts from a Runners World article Fully Fit. It didn't seem to bad and wasn't that difficult....except the wrestler bridges. Holy eff they were a struggle and today I can definitely feel the muscles in my back.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Weather Wednesday

Saw this little lady on the side of the trail during Sunday's run

I was surprised she let me get this close!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hood To Coast

I just got back from seeing the movie "Hood to Coast" and I hope you were able to see it as well. It was amazing! One of the most emotionally moving films I've ever seen, and yet it kept an even keel by being comical and inspiring at the same time. I hope it comes out on DVD because it is instantly a favorite for me. For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about I'll try and fill you in without giving everything away because well that would be a dick move.
          Hood To Coast is the worlds largest relay race. It covers 197 miles in Oregon from Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean. 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the race and it has grown to a limit of 1,250 teams, each team having between 8 and 12 members. Each member of the team will run three non-consecutive legs which range from around 3 miles to almost 7 miles. Doesn't seem like a whole lot, until you realize they have been up for over 24 hours and when they aren't running they're riding around in vans supporting their teammates. The Film is a documentary that follows four of the teams on their journey. The teams couldn't be any different if they tried. For me it was almost a roller coaster ride of emotions, but I tend to let myself get lost in movies pretty easily. This one being true made it that much easier to do. All four teams provide humor in their own way, but two of the teams really tug at the heart strings. I feel like if I'm ever lacking motivation to get out and run, all I have to do is think about what they've gone through and what running has done for them and at least right now I don't think anything could hold me back. This movie came at the best time for me. I'm at the beginning of training for my second marathon and my first time training through the winter. I know there are going to be times of weariness and a lack of will. It's not being pessimistic it's just the truth. Nothing in life goes perfect, but I feel like I've just added another weapon into my arsenal of "anti-wah wah"!
         I went to see this movie with one of my oldest friends and former high school teammate and we both agreed that we are going to try and put together a team and try our luck at entering this puppy because it is that AWESOME! Ha ha, have I told you that I'm excited yet? I love the idea of being on a team again. That is the one thing that post high school running has left me devoid of. The feeling of being on a team, the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a group and the team I was on was like a big slightly dysfunctional family, so maybe this will be the way to get that feeling back.
         Okay so now that I'm done gushing about my new favorite movie, how about a training update? I have never been a morning person....ever... I am known for strolling into work when I'm supposed to be there...as in the last second I'm supposed to be there. I just hate getting out of bed in the morning. It's so comfy why would I? That being said, I got up BEFORE work EARLY 3 days last week and once so far this week! The best part is I actually enjoyed it. Not the getting out of bed before I absolutely have to but the part after that. The part where it's 7:30 and I'm at work close to a half an hour early and I've already done my workout for the day. I'm wide awake, energized, not drowsy and ready to go on with the day, knowing that when work is over I don't have running hanging over my head in case there is some setback where it might not happen. It's done and out of the way and at 7:30 in the morning I have a feeling of accomplishment that I just didn't get when I ran after work. It's weird but it almost gives me another reason to love running! So there you have it I'm motivated, I'm excited, and I'm feeling great and ready to kick some winter training ass! Oh and now that I am all excited and motivated....A) it's time for bed and B) tomorrow is a rest day for running ha ha go figure! I hope you all get a chance to see this movie if you haven't already. I know my little preview doesn't do it justice so you'll just have to take my word for it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Weather Wednesday

Obie loves the snow!

And running circles haha

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Reflection to the Future

     Seeing as how I didn't keep the best of records of my running endeavors from the past year, my 2010 review will instead consist of my new obsessions and discoveries of the past year.

              Music ~ Mumford and sons ~ British accents and a banjo in the band, how can you resist?

Food ~ Penn Station East Coast Subs ~ Move over Quiznos and Subway, These are delicious!

              Candy Obsession ~ Generic bulk sugar covered gummi bears ~ need I say more?

Television (A tie) ~ How I Met Your Mother ~ SUIT UP! ~ and ~ Raising Hope ~ I can't even describe it

              Snack food ~ Garlic Lovers Hummus and pita chips ~ Who doesn't love garlic?

Movie ~ Inception ~ Chris Nolan is my favorite director, he hasn't made something I didn't like

Moment in Sports ~ The Detroit Lions Won 4 in a row!!! ~ Last time you could say that was 1999!

      Just a few of my favorite things from the last 365. Now since the first of the year has come and gone it's probably time I make some goals for 2011. Some are specific and some are more generic.
  • train for and complete kalamazoo marathon
  • maintain running at least 4 days a week when not training for something in specific
  • run at least one 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon
  • run a race in a different state
  • add in more cross training
  • bike more
  • volunteer at a race 
  • meet more local runners
  • run in the morning at least one day M-F
  • run 1000 miles
  • Keep track of my running totals better (that way I know if I hit 1000 or not haha)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside!

    I've been running off and on since seventh grade, so roughly twelve years. There haven't been a lot of constants throughout those years except for one. Without fail every year I took the winter off. Call me a baby but in Michigan it's typically cold in the winter. One thing I've never been overly fond of is being cold. This winter all that is changing. You see the city of Kalamazoo (my hometown) decided they needed a marathon, and I decided I needed to run said marathon. So far no problem, then they decided it would be a spring marathon! What am I to do?! Surely I can't train for a marathon indoors on a treadmill, because if there's one thing I dislike as much if not more than the cold it surely has to be running on a treadmill. I can handle up to a half hour on one but at that point I'm usually ready to go certifiably insane. My only other option; talk to people who have figured out the secrets of surviving the arctic weather. (I may exaggerate a touch when it comes to how cold it really is!)
    So here we are the beginning of the new year and the temps have been below 30 degrees for over a month now. (oddly enough except for new years eve where it was 51!) Lucky for me I have an old friend who works at the local running store who supplied me with ample amounts of info on how to survive the next four months.

                             Layer, Layer, Layer
                  The biggest key to staying warm in the winter is staying dry. Layering helps accomplish this as long as its done right. Even though it's below freezing outside your body still sweats a lot when you're running. the key is to move this sweat away from your body to the outer layers where it can evaporate. The first thing I put on is a base layer. For now I'm going with a Patagonia Capilene level 1 long sleeve shirt. Its snug but not overly tight like most under armour style compression shirts. I'm not a big fan of the uber tight feeling so this shirt works well for me, and it's made from polyester which by the way is great for moisture management.

                   Next I wear a looser slightly thicker but still fairly thin layer. This helps again with moving the moisture and since it's thin it keeps the bulk down so I don't feel like the kid from A Christmas Story! I've got a few different options that have worked well so far. If its not crazy cold I've been wearing my brooks technical shirts that I've gotten at a couple of races, one is long sleeve and the rest are short. They seem to work well when weather is around 30 degrees give or take 5. I also got this next gem for Christmas and it is nothing short of awesome! It is the Nike wool 1/2 zip. The thing is awesome, did I mention that yet? From what I'm told wool is the only fabric that traps water in it's vapor state, and moves it away from the body. Sure sounds very technical blah blah, all I know is it works and it has kept me warm. The 1/2 zip is nice because it's a quick and easy vent if you start to get too warm and let me tell you it keeps you warm. It has little built in mitten like pockets at the end of each sleeve and I could not believe how warm they have kept my hands when it's been below 20 out!

                   Depending on the temp and whether or not it's windy/wet or calm and dry my outer layer either consists of a thin wind blocking, water repelling layer, or a thicker fleece like layer. The wind can get pretty brutal and cut right through to your core so the wind blocking layer is a must for gusty days. I got a Saucony Epic Run Jacket, which came with a cool little rechargeable USB LED light that clips on the sleeve for added visibility. It's light, thin, water resistant, and awesome at blocking the wind. My other outer layer option is a New Balance 1/2 zip with little holes for me thumbs at the end of each sleeve. This piece has worked well in the cold but the wind still tends to cut through if it blows very hard so that's when I need the wind breaker.

                  I received two pairs of tights for Christmas, both of which display my lack of a bum.... which is why I usually wear a pair of shorts over them. That and a little added weather protection over my man parts is always a good idea. From what I've been told the thing you want to look for in tights for winter running is thermal tights. Meaning they have some type of fleece like lining on the inside for added warmth. Both pairs I got have this fleece like lining. The second pair also have a softshell exterior covering a lot of the front. This helps block the wind from chilling you to the bone. Both pairs have worked really well.

                  I have a couple of choices for headgear which is good because lack of hair on top of my head means an extra need for warmth. I have two skull cap like style hats from brooks, both have reflective logos and one is half bright green for added visibility. The third option is a Saucony Balaclava which covers whole face, head and neck, minus an opening for my eyes which is convenient for....seeing. I haven't worn this option yet because it hasn't been that cold or windy yet, but when I do I'll let ya know how it works out!
                 On my feet I've been rocking Smartwool phd light cushion socks, the wool is crazy soft and works great at both cushioning and keeping my feet warm.
           So there you go that's what I'm using to avoid turning into an ice statue of a runner this winter. There are a lot of great products out there to keep you warm. Remember to layer, pick items made from non-cotton materials like wool or polyester that will wick moisture away from your body. Items with softshell or something similar work well at blocking the wind. That's about all I've got, if you have some tips for staying dry and warm this winter I'd love to hear about them. Oh and don't forget to stay hydrated this winter, you don't always think about it but again you still sweat a lot when exercising in the winter, don't forget to replenish that lost liquid!
        Official training for 2011 starts tomorrow! woohoo! hope everyone had a great New Years Eve and 2011 brings you a lot of happiness!