Thursday, December 30, 2010

Clean Slate



In less than 2 days, a clean slate awaits. 2011. How will you define the year? Where will you set the bar? For me, the challenges are below in what is a new move in that I am writing them down and have committed to following a plan.

1. Another Boston Marathon qualifier (3:15 or better)

2. Better my 18:51 5k time set in high school cross country

3. Sub 40 min 10k

4. Complete a duathlon or triathlon


What about you?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Ball Clacking Factor

With ole man winter rearing his ugly head and sending bone chilling, mind numbing, icy, deep snow to at least the Midwest where I reside, there is a certain condition that running men should be aware of: the BCF ( Ball Clacking Factor).

That's right: Ball Clacking Factor. Don't pretend like its not something that hasn't crossed your mind before. As the temperature dips, and you consider layering choices, your first thoughts immediately turn to the important parts: head, hands, and the twigs and berries, or the boys. Yup, you gotta make sure they are adequately protected because if any or all of them get frost bitten or worse, you my friend are in a world of hurt. And by hurt more than the average drop kick to the sack pain.

In order to gauge the extreme level of danger you may be in relation to the BCF, I offer up a few levels of discomfort for you to consider.

Level 1 - its cold out, but not that cold. You may experience minimal shrinkage at the thought of heading out.

Level 2 - as your running your thinking "is it chafing or are the boys trying to tell me something? as they snuggle together for warmth.

Level 3 - Its like some one finger flicked the top of your twig. Sounds mildly discomforting doesn't it? Yup, the first twinges of hypothermia may be setting in. Hope there is a tailwind on the way home to minimize damage.

Level 4 - basically at this level, one nad has crawled up looking for somewhere one to burrow into. Ever consider windproof briefs?

Level 5 - this is what Goose would refer to as the "Danger Zone". If you weren't already sterile you just might be after this run. The boys have headed for higher ground and a hot shower to reinvigorate and have them drop is not enough.

This has been a Public Service Announcement in the hopes that you do not suffer from the BCF this winter. Stay warm my friends, stay warm.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful


I am thankful for my family
I am thankful that I can run
What more does one man need?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Big Bird 10k - Wings Clipped


If there is one thing I love about my dad is his propensity to just put it out there. Simply put, to tell it like it is. Unabashed and with candor. To say that it has rubbed off on me is an understatement. So I was not surprised in the week leading up to the Roseville Big Bird 10k, that my dad was stating how he was feeling really good and looked to go under 60 minutes. Furthermore, he was confident that we could run down Dirrty Girl and the Ex Navy Seal and avenge the stinging defeat in the 1/2 marathon a few short weeks ago. True, his bruised foot from the hoof of a horse prior to the 1/2 marathon had healed and he no longer had any lingering effects of the cold but more importantly he had been able to string together some solid training and had been texting me all week about how well he had been feeling.




Our arrival at the community center about 90 minutes before the race was met with cold (around 40 degrees) air and a stiff wind. We hung out in the gymnasium and my dad began to lay out an ambitious BHAG for 2011, 2 marathons! His confidence was high and we chatted about potential marathons and I could tell that he really wanted to run a strong race. The goal was simple. Shoot for around 60 minutes and I would pace.

We all huddled in the car prior to the race and it was far colder than the 40 degrees that showed on the car dash.




The early miles seemed to tick off quite easily and we were just a hair over the 10 min pace at 2 miles. By this time though, Dirrty Girl had scampered off and would run an impressive and oh so close PR of 1 hr and 45 seconds.

However, just past the 3 mile mark, an old enemy coupled with the wind, clipped my dad's wings and the hope of a 60 min 10k...weather induced asthma. See the cold weather exacerbates his asthma and he has a difficult time breathing without hitting the inhaler, which of course he forgot in the car. We were reduced to a walk at certain points and he even had to put his hands in front of his mouth to try and warm the air. Nevertheless, he stayed strong and we finished just under the 1 hr 10 min mark.

I could sense the disappointment in his eyes and voice and we reviewed the race on our way home and today even over emails and texts. He stated the heart and the legs were willing, but the weather reared its head and the lungs could not keep pace. A race like yesterday forced him to re-evaluate his current fitness and program and said that maybe a fall marathon in 2011 along with some half marathons would be a more prudent and solid idea. I told him that was a great idea seeing as how it would give him an year of running under his belt before stepping up to the marathon distance.


If there is one thing about my dad I know is that you may try to clip his wings or hold him down, but somehow, someway he is gonna soar. He is a runner with goals of a marathon on the horizon. This is gonna be fun.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Soul Renewal

Chilly Air and cold hands
Head torch lighting the land
Course recon for the fat ass race
Clicking off the miles at sub 10 min pace
Leaves covering a lovely jewel
Forward flow and soul renewal

Monday, November 01, 2010

2nd Annual Lose the Turkey Fat Ass 50k

Well, after an uber successful inagural year in which we had a record turnout of runners, it is back for another year. Really this is just an excuse to not have to go shopping with the masses and to your a** :P

Details:

Lose the Turkey Fat Ass 50k

When: November 27, 2010

Time: 8 am

Where: Kensington Metro Park/Island Lake


Get out there and move your duff to eliminate the stuff consumed on Turkey Day. An easy “fat ass” ultra, with no fee, no aid (maybe), and probably no awards to be given. Mainly on bike paths, with about 13 miles of trail. Wear something hunter orange or really freaking bright to avoid being confused as a deer in the woods. Contact dirtdawg50k@aol.com for more info.


Course:

Begin @ Kensington Metro Park. *Note* There is a daily $5 entry fee if you do not have a permit. Park at the East Boat Launch and head west on the bike path trail. Just before heading over a bridge, there will be a path to your left that goes under I- 96. Follow the path under the freeway and into Island Lake. At the fork just above the short hill go right. Follow the Island Bike Path. Just after the 3 mile marker on the Bike Path there will be a turn off to the left. Follow that an into the Mtn. Bike Trailhead. *Note* There are port a potties located here.

Follow the blue trail head markers and continue on the trail until past the 8 mile marker. There will be a Two Way Direction Sign with a blue arrow pointing forward and a yellow sign turn left. FOLLOW the yellow sign to the left. Continue on the yellow trail until you return to the trailhead parking. Return on the bike path back to Kensington Metro Park and your car. Total Distance to this point approximately: 23 miles. (approximately 13 miles of this are trail)

To complete the 50k distance…do one loop on the Kensington Bike Path (approximate distance 8.5 miles)

For those of you preferring to do a shorter distance less than a 50k and don’t want to get lost, or run trails…you can just run loops around Kensington. Each loop is approximately 8.5 miles. Or run the 23 miles out and back section and stop.



NOTES:

1. There is no fee to run this (ok..except for the daily entry fee to the park. Most times though in the fall, there is never anybody checking the cars for permits)

2. It is HIGHLY ADVISED that you wear something hunter orange or very bright out on the trail section.

3. There is no aid. I might have something set up at the start/finish, and somewhere along the way, but it is a approximately 23 miles for the first loop.

4. You are responsible for your own safety out there. This is merely a loosely organized fun run that just happens to be a wee bit longer than a marathon.

5. Please email me with your interest so that I can begin to take a head count


Kensington Metro Park:

http://www.metroparks.com/global/kensington_map.php


A short video about the course can be found here: @ Just Finish


Notes:


Through the tubes of the internet, Craig (Director of the Paint Creek Ultra) has stepped up and will most likely provide an aid station at Island Lake.


I will most likely be running parts of this course to check the course, measuring it for inaccuracy with my GPS this weekend and will report back with any changes.


There really won't be any results, not sure if I will have any sorts of awards and depending on my mood, and weather, maybe might have some post race grub.


It will be fun, cause it's a run!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Press 1/2 Marathon

It almost never came to be. A horse and a cold almost derailed my dad's plan to run the Free Press 1/2 Marathon. Stepped on by a horse, my dad sent me a picture of his foot which was quite purple a mere 2 weeks before the race. He said it hurt pretty good, but to ensure that it wasn't broken he did actually go get an xray, which showed no broken bones. Whew! With that unfortunate accident sidelining his running, my dad also came down with a serious enough cold to require antibiotics. In total over the last 2 weeks, he said he may have run 9 miles. Talking to him the week of the race, my dad sounded terrible and said the he would have to let the foot dictate the pace.


Despite his ailments, that didn't stop my dad from talking mad smack to Dirrty Girl indicating that the only thing she would need to follow on race day would be the blinking light on the back of his hat as we raced toward the podium. I had to stand between the warring factions pre-race.

After what seemed like an eternity as they rolled the starting waves, my dad and I quickly got into an easy rhythm. However, that rhythm was soon interrupted several times as we made our way to the international crossing ,the Ambassador Bridge, and were reduced to a walk as we were corralled like cattle.
Crossing the bridge, we saw Dirrty Girl and her partner having to make an unplanned pit stop and sought quickly to seize upon the opportunity to put some ground on them. Our lead was short lived as they made up the ground and moved ahead for good in Windsor.

My dad was moving strong throughout the first half of the race, and maintained a steady pace.
Entering back in the U.S. via the Windsor Tunnel, the effects of the cold and the sore foot began to slow our pace. We walked a bit more, but who really cared? I was out with my dad racing again. Something we hadn't done in we figured conservatively 17 years. I played sherpa fetching water at aid stations, reminded him to take in some gels, and checked his general progress as we made our way through the final miles. My sweet women's knee high socks that I had worn kept getting attention from fellow runners and watchers keeping a grin on my dad's face as we made our way through Mexicantown and Corktown.

As we headed up the home stretch towards the finish, I was filled with a lot of emotion. Here we were, father (60) and son (35) getting a chance to finish a 1/2 marathon together despite numerous obstacles. How freaking cool was that??To add to the whole family getting involved, my sister drove down to the finish to capture the moment. She even had "Team Grandpa" shirts made for my nieces.
Despite soundly beating us by about 20 min, I posed with Dirrty Girl who ran a great race in her own right.

Going into this 1/2 marathon, there is no way I could have scripted a more perfect day than the one that turned out yesterday. Sure there are days when you are going to turn the screws and yourself inside out to achieve that a PR, and then there are days like yesterday, where just going for a run with the people you love, respect, admire is all that really matters. Our time of 2 hr 58 min won't go down as PR but it will go down as a memory of a lifetime.

Monday, October 04, 2010

It won't be like this for long.....


Today, I had the opportunity to take both my son and daughter out on a run with me. It took a little coaxing to get my son out the door, but fueled by a homemade cookie, he was ready to lead the way. My daughter, on the other hand needed no coaxing. She quickly grabbed her blankie and ran out towards the weather worn baby jogger demanding to be covered up.

Seems like yesterday, I was propping up my son with blankets so the straps would safely lock him in like an astronaut ready to take flight. Now, we are discussing his homework as a first grader and he was stopping at every street crossing making sure it was safe for me and his sister to keep rolling. I caught myself on several occasions yelling from afar like my dad used to do to me saying "Be careful, put your feet on the pedals".

My daughter urged me to go faster and to catch her brother. She pulled down the visor when the sun hit her directly head on and said she wanted to run when we were still 2 miles from home.

It was only 3 miles, but it seemed much longer. One of those runs and times where you wish you could just bottle it up and go back to over and over again. That is what memories are for. Even though, I know these times won't be like this for long, it is one that I will hold onto.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

How Do You Learn?


As my summer came to a close this year, I rounded out my reading with the Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk. While an excellent read on the trial and tribulations that one must undergo to become a Zen Buddhist Monk, the statement that stuck with me the most was this:
"For this is the only way to study Zen. Nothing can ever really be learned until it works through the nerves and muscles. "
Running for me has proven to be my learning ground. More than hours spent in the universities and libraries earning a degree to obtain a job, it is out on the roads where I have learned the most. Don't get me wrong, I love listening to lectures, working in groups, reading, writing, etc. Sitting is not the way in which I learn.
However, I have learned more about my limits, my passions, my desires, my wants and needs when everything else is just stripped away and it is me and the road ahead. It is in motion, that my mind and body can catch up at the same speed and can work through the internal chatter of my mind, listen to body, and make sense of the world around me. It is in motion, that those thoughts, opinions, etc can work through the entire body rather than just through my head.
How is it that you learn best?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Running with my dad

It had to be on his terms. It had to be because he had a goal. It had to be because he wanted it more than I did. That in a nutshell, is how my dad has come back to running.

Back in January of 2009, my dad had said he wanted to get back into running and could I come up with a plan? Sure, I could! Got a goal? He said well maybe a ½ marathon and maybe a marathon? What time do I need to run in a marathon to qualify for Boston? My mind immediately drifted back to my junior high and high school days when my dad and I would run and race together. Back to a time when I would call him at work after a run and let him know to the second how fast and how far I had run. I remember the training runs where my dad would effortlessly glide away from me and show me that there was much to learn about how to run. Well now it was going to be my turn. I would turn the screws to him when the time saw fit. You know, give it back to the old man a little bit. It didn’t happen.

Even after getting some new shoes and gear, the early motivation waned away last year. I never asked why, but I couldn’t make him get out there on the road.

Fast forward to about two months ago, when my dad said he wanted to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon this year. He is turning 60 and wanted to do something. Could he do it? Absolutely! If there is one thing I know about my dad is that when it is something he wants, he will get it done. Put a brick wall in front of him…he is going through it. I wrote up another plan working within his busy travel schedule for business and added plenty of rest days and some cross training.

It didn’t hit me until his long run of 8 miles this weekend but my dad and I have traded places in some respects. It was not about the time for a distance, the pace, or me giving it back to the old man. Nope, it’s about trading text messages about how his run went in another city, where can he find some hills to run, and when can we run together again. It’s about sharing a banana and giving me a new Power Bar to try after a long run.

I realize now, that my time with my dad out on the road for a run is something special and not to be taken for granted as I did years ago. Some father’s and sons might go fishing, hunting, or throw back a couple of cowboy pops to maintain their relationship when life takes them down different paths. Running has been the road that has led my dad and I back down for another chance to move forward for a few more miles.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Happy DNF

Simply put, I did not finish the 2010 Burning River 100 mile endurance run. My BHAG for the year was not achieved, the goal not met, but in all honesty it was the happiest DNF that I have ever had. My only other DNF was my first 50 miler at Dances with Dirt in Hell, Michigan when I got so lost (adding approximately 5 miles) before the 50k checkpoint that I was unhappy and stopped.

I knew going into Burning River that my goal was to simply keep moving forward. That motto, learned after my DNF @ DWD had proved successful along with the attitude that my running has to be fun.

Driving down the day before the race by myself, gave my mind plenty of opportunity to run through it's normal checklist of pre-race jitters: Why are you doing this? A hundred miles...how about just 50? Dude, you are gonna feel like road kill come Monday. I knew it was best to just let my mind run with the thoughts for the moment and after a quick nap and the arrival of my crew, I was good to go.

My crew, amazingly all listeners of the podcast, had volunteered their own time and money to travel from California and Alabama respectively to help me with this selfish journey. The pre race dinner centered around drop bags, nutrition, and the speech that come hell or high water that I am going to go through some bad patches, but you shove me out of the aid station were all gone over, but no one mentioned about this being fun.

Fun? Fun is subjective. For me, ultras are about spending the day away from the speed of everyday life and getting into a flow. You are reduced to the movement of your two feet and the span of the open road or trail. There are no other responsibilities other than to keep moving froward. After a period of time, and it varies on most runs, I normally slip into a rhythm and although the run might be hard, I am having fun.

Come race morning, I was feeling ready to go. The weather was going to be ideal (low 80's, next to no humidity, cloudy skies) and my buddy Kevin and I agreed to stick to a run 5 min/walk 5 min pattern for as long as we could maintain. Miles on the open road seemed to float by easily but by about mile 18 I was just there. I wasn't feeling great, I wasn't feeling bad, and I certainly wasn't into any flow. I had to start my running a bit earlier before the next interval because Kevin was running so strong, but no big deal.

Then it happened. Somewhere after the 33 mile mark, I had started to slow and told Kevin to go on, and I was alone for the first time in the day and started to evaluate. My ITB (nicknamed Irene) that had caused me to cut mileage for about 3 weeks? Not bad at all. In fact, it had warmed up nicely and was feeling good. Tammy the Hammy which had bothered me after Boston...not even there. Energy? not bad. Stomach? a bit full but just walk and it will feel better. Having fun? That's when it became real. I know ultras have highs and lows, and maybe I was at a low spot, but you know what, I wasn't having fun.

Being present in the moment, I told myself that I wasn't having fun that was gonna be it for the day. As fellow runners ran by and asked if I was ok, I told them that I was trying to reset my fun button. Most offered kind words of encouragement, but it has to come from within. I know I had people who had come a long way to help me out, but if I wasn't being honest with myself then surely they would be able to see that.

As I rolled into the 39.6 mile aid station, I told my crew that was it. I was done. I couldn't reset the fun button. Dutifully, they went thru all the things we had talked about in terms of not letting me sit to long, etc, but that was it. They went so far as to even call my wife who was in Chicago to try and get me back on the trail, saying I would regret it later, but I told her I would be ok with it. When that didn't work, they made me take my glasses off and look them in the eye and tell them I was done. So after 8 hours and 40 minutes, that was it, my day of selfish forward movement was over. A DNF in the books.

However, that was not the end of the day for me at Burning River. The crew dropped me off at the hotel for a hot shower, some food, and a short rest, and turned their attention to helping get my friend Kevin to the finish line. I have said in the past that this community of runners is nothing short of amazing, and that day proved it right there. After a brief respite, I was like brand new, and wanted back in the game to help my friend finish. I met the rest of the crew out at Happy Days and spent the next 45 miles helping out. My fun button had been reset and I was happy.

I hooted and hollered as I saw fellow runners come in and met Kevin at each aid station to help out with his needs. Seeing the race as a crew member was just as much fun and just as exhausting in some respects as running the race. The opportunity even presented itself for me to run the last 8 miles with Kevin to the finish which was pretty special.

Am I disappointed that I didn't reach my BHAG? Absolutely not.Ultras for me have always taught me a lesson about myself that I have been able to carry over to the real world. With last year's finish of the Burning River 100, it was that I can do so much more than I think I can. Don't ask me why I had to cover 100 miles to figure it out, but there it was. This year's Burning River taught me that if I am brutally honest with myself then I can be happy with the decision and have no regrets. Again, something that I was only able to answer out there on the trails. I was unhappy running, but happy helping a good friend finish his first 100 miler. I got a chance to meet some amazing people from across the country and hang out with them. A happy DNF.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A community unlike any other

A Community Unlike Any Other....

As I make final preparations for a return trip to the Burning River 100, I have given much thought to this in all essence selfish endeavor that I will be taking part in. Last year, I had somehow convinced my wife, and a couple of friends who I had run with before to follow me along the course. Without them, there is no way that I would have finished. To motivate me along the way in training, I further took a step that was tentative in nature and began putting out a podcast to chronicle my attempt at covering 100 miles. Normally, a private person, I thought others might want to know what it took just a regular guy, a father and a husband with a job to train and do the race.

I never expected and still have trouble comprehending the fact that not only did people listen to me ramble on, but this year, when I put out that my BHAG was to return to Burning River and try and go under 24 hours that fellow runners (Gordon, Mark, Megan, and Eric), whom I have never even met and are spread out across the country would volunteer for this experience. I could offer no air fare, gas, or accommodations. However, if it all worked out and they showed up that they would be part of a crew helping me in this selfish endeavor. Where else but in this community of athletes?

The road this year to the starting line has been filled some roadblocks and potholes along the way, but through it all, this community of athletes (yes, we are all athletes, whether you run, ride, swim, walk, etc) has been encouraging, helpful, and inspirational along the way. This weekend, I will be doing nothing special in the landscape of ultras. There are participants that have done many 100 milers, and people that this year have done Western States, Badwater, and now are doing Burning River.

I am simply going out there with the goal of moving forward all day and with the support of my crew and YOU, I will complete my selfish goal. Thank you in advance for all of your support. This is a community unlike any other.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

AT - NewFound Gap to Charles Bunion

Dirrty Girl and I were able to sneak in one more hike during our time in the Smokies, and it was the NewFound Gap to Charles Bunion route. An out and back 8 miler, it climbed quickly from the parking lot and Dirrty Girl put her new Vasque Blur SL GTX trail shoes to the test.
At about 3 miles in, we were able to check out the Icewater Spring Shelter.
Charles Bunion is a rock out cropping and just a short spur trail off the AT. The sign below indicated that Dirrty Girl was going to have face one of her fears: heights.
Cheezy pic, yes, but I am up on the rock out cropping while that was as far as Dirrty Girl was willing to travel.
View from atop Charles Bunion.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

AT - NewFound Gap to Clingman's Dome

If I had a bucket list, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail would be on it. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,178 mile marked hiking trail between Springer Mountain in Georgia and extending all the way to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Originally, when talks began about heading to the Smokies this summer for a family vacation, I was really excited about the opportunity to hop on the AT and log a few miles.

Enter, Randy McCarter . Randy who listened to the podcast and heard that we were headed this way offered up a route and to see if I would be interested in running/hiking this section with him. Absolutely!! My own research into which sections to hit had been not so much and to have a local willing to show me the AT was a great idea. Funny, when Randy and I met early one morning to drive up the mountain, he admitted that even though he had lived here for most of his life, that he had never been on the AT. Well, at least we had a buddy system to hit the trail, and we drove up the mountain to drop one car at Clingman's Dome and then back down the mountain to start our foray @ Newfound Gap.

If I have learned anything from my visits to National Parks, it is to start early! Even at 7 am, the parking lot was like a ghost town, but upon our return several hours later, it would be like the frenzy at an after thanksgiving early morning sale.

From Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome was just under 8 miles and took us approximately 2 hours and 40 min to complete. The trail was filled with many sections like this below.
The motto was simply to run when we could and hike the rest. Randy was a great companion and I certainly would look forward to hitting the trail again with him.




Although, you pop out on the trail at the highest point of the AT, there is this walkway thingy that you can go up to get views like the one below.



The best way to describe my intial experience on the Appalachian Trail is this: ruggedly beautiful.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Berea Forest Trail

Located just outside of the town of Berea, Kentucky, the Berea Forest Trail was the sight of a nice hike for Dirrty Girl and I to begin our foray onto the trails of the South. Our destination for the next couple of days are the Smokies, but this was for our legs to say hello to some real hills. We were greeted at the trailhead by a muttly mutt, who bore a dog tag reading: "Hi, My name is Tillie. I am not a stray. I live at the house next door. Let's go for a hike." Tillie, did not make the trek with us, but was waiting when we got done to roll over, get a scratch, and thank us for coming.

The Good:



The Bad:



The Ugly: :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Medals 4 Mettle


Yesterday, I had a unique opportunity to directly see the impact that the Medals 4 Mettle organization has on it's recipients. For those of you unfamiliar with the charity read below:

Via the Medals4Mettle website:

" In 2005, Medals4Mettle was started as a result of marathoner runners who award their finisher's medals to others who have demonstrated similar mettle, or courage. Certainly everyone cannot run a marathon, but people who are battle life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities demonstrate mettle everyday. Marathon runners experience the cheers and support from total strangers as they run through the streets, and these same runners cheer wheelchair competitors that they may pass on the course. Medals4Mettle celebrates our collective human courage, and our innate desire to reward and support each other as we all face life's challenges."


Let's back up for a second though. About a year ago, I ran across the M4M charity via the Internet and saw that there was a Detroit chapter. My medals were just hanging there in my man cave/running room collecting dust and really served no other purpose to me than to avoid hitting them as I rummaged through for gear. Now, of course if you had asked me 5 years ago to donate my race medals, I would have told you no way! I ran "X" race, I earned that medal. Call it the preciousness of youth or simply immaturity, but I didn't see the value in donating something I felt I had earned. Forward motion and reflection left me lots of time to think about what it all means in terms of my running, those medals, etc. I will always have those memories and no longer saw any need to keep those medals. Pass it on, and let someone who is really running a much more difficult race be recognized for their efforts.

For an episode of the podcast last year, I was able to sit down with the Detroit chapter president , Joe Burns and donated all of my marathon and ultra race medals at the time. I have continued throughout the year to plug the charity and through the podcast, I have received medals from fellow runners from all across the country including one guy who was able to collect over 200 medals from a race that I have passed on to Joe. Last summer, Joe invited me and a few others to Children's Hospital in Detroit, where we met a representative and donated some medals that would then be passed out to the children. While, I was truly inspired by that opportunity to talk up the charity, yesterday's opportunity left no doubt in my mind that every runner/cyclist/triathlete who has participated in an endurance event should donate to this charity at least one medal.

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital yesterday provided me and several others, the opportunity to meet and present children who are participating in their own endurance event that none of them chose with some medals. These children and their parents did not choose their event. They did not choose to have a closed head injury, or seizures, or compressed vertebrae, or burns, or have their twin brother not make it through the birth process. However, in every one of those kids eyes, I saw mettle, I saw courage, and I saw an indomitable spirit that said, they are going to persevere. They were going to keep moving forward.

I hope the small token acknowledging their efforts brought a smile to their face and a reminder that they are too endurance athletes in their own right. After yesterday, I have no reason, to complain or mire in the choices I make regarding signing up for an endurance event or an injury I might incur as a result. I made that choice, these children did not.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Road or Trail Runner?

Thanks to a fellow runner and listener of the podcast for this fun little test to see if you are a road or trail runner. What is your score?

1. Which would you rather run:

(a) the Boston Marathon in under 3 hours (0 points)
(b) the Pike's Peak Marathon in under 5 hours ( +1 )
(c) the Hardrock, who cares about the time (+2)

2. Do you regularly return from runs bleeding? (+1)

3. Do you regularly encounter animals which could maim or kill you (i.e. elk, bear, cougar, hog, or rattlesnake) ? (dogs don't count...only if you have been threatened by one) (+1)

4. Are all your running socks brown? (+1)

5. Have you ever gotten dirt in your mouth or up your nose from a fall? (+1)

6. Have you ever taken a detour in a race to top a peak or "see" what's over the next ridge"? (+1)

7. Do you time your workouts (-1)? Do you record the times? (-1)

8. Which do you fear more on runs, getting shot by hunters (+1), or getting shot by gangs (-1)?

9. Do you keep a written PR list (-1) Is it pubicly accessible (i.e. pinned to the wall of your office, or posted on a WWW home page)? (-1)

10. Have you ever missed a meeting at work because that loop was "a little longer than you thought"? (+1)

11. Have you ever had to pull cactus thorns out of your shoe, or a yucca spie out of your shin? (+1) Are there some in your leg right now? (+3)

12. On most of your runs, do you often have to decide whether to cross against the red light?
(-1)?

13. How long does it take a fresh pair of shoes to lose that "new look" two weeks (-1), one week (0), three days (+1) one day (+2), two hours (+4)?

14. Have you ever torn your shirt, shorts, or flesh on a barbed wire fence? (+1)

15. Do you regularly carry a street map on runs? (+1) A topo map? (+2)

16. Do you regularly wear gaiters or dump large amounts of dirt from your shoes? (+1)

17. Have you ever gotten lost enough on a run that someone had to come looking for you? (+1) And never found you? (+3) You're lost right now? (+6)

18. Are there times you can't go on your favorite run because of mud or high water? (+1)

19. Can you pee anywhere you want on your runs? (+1)

Scoring:

<7>A true road runner - may your PR's forever quicken

7 - 12 = A trail runner in spirit. now get the hell out of the city and move to where there are some trails!

> 12 = A hardcore trail runner. I can almost see your bloody knees from here

Saturday, April 24, 2010

114th Boston Marathon

It was a running nirvana. From the moment, I first boarded the shuttle parking to the airport, until I was dropped off 3 days later, I was surrounded by runners and running. I commented to my wife as we made our way through the airport to our departing flight, "If this is going to be my only chance to run Boston, then I think this is going to be a memorable experience." While I looked at runners proudly displaying their jackets from previous Boston Marathons, I had not earned the privilege yet and instead rocked and represented:


Boarding the flight and making our way to our seats, instead of hearing the mundane chat over business transactions and travel mishaps that is normally heard, I heard things like; "Yeah, I just got a cortisone shot yesterday, hope my knee will hold up." "I think I might have a stress fracture in my foot, but it should hold up through Boston." Gosh, I thought, I am going into this race injury free..guess I am lucky.




Landing in Boston, early Saturday afternoon, we took the T (honestly, if you ever go to Boston, don't even think of renting a car or a cab to get around the city) to our hotel which was conveniently located a mere 5 min walk from the expo center. If the plane ride was any indication of the running madness I was about to enter, the hotel and walk over to the expo was a sensory overload. Everywhere you looked, there were runners and Boston Marathon jackets. Now, the one thing I could not do, was to wear the 114th edition of the jacket since I hadn't run the race yet, but I saw plenty of people who were. Qualifying for me, didn't mean I got to wear the jacket until the race was done.



The expo was large, loud, and full of running gear! On Saturday, I pretty much wandered around and got to talk to and hang out with Mad Dog (Chris R of the Run Run Live Podcast). I also got to speak with Jonathan who is the owner of Go Motion Gear, picked up a 3 watt sternum pack that I am super excited to try and picked up some kick ass rainbow colored Injini socks. A stop at the Brooks running booth and a chat with Steve, who is in charge of the Brooks ID program got me some sweet new arm warmers which would come in handy on Monday.


Sunday morning found me tired and stiff from the flight and walking around all day. An easy run, I thought to shake out the legs was in order, and I made my way down to Boylston street where the finish line was located and was full of activity all day long as runners were not only taking their pictures by but also runners were preparing for the BAA 5k. I hung out long enough to shoot this short video: Many thanks

As I made my way around the Boston Commons, I ran into my neighbor who had dropped off her husband who was running the 5k and needed to shake out her legs for the marathon as well. We rambled for a few miles until, as we were running past a guy, I heard "Hey, are you Dirt Dawg?". I stopped and met Dane, a listener of the podcast and we chatted for a few minutes before my neighbor and I ran back and watched part of the 5k. The lead men and women were smoking ass fast, and the rain that had started to fall convinced me that heading back to the hotel was a good idea.

Even though it would have been a smart idea to rest before heading to Fenway Park, I wanted to soak up more of the energy and atmosphere of the expo, so I headed back and was rewarded by being the first person to stop back by the Zensah booth with a tweet and scored some FREE compression calf sleeves. Yes! The weather had been questionable all morning raining on and off, but that didn't deter us from heading to:

good ole Fenway Park. Funny, as a kid, I lived in Rhode Island for 10 years and never made it there. In the course of less than a year, I get to go twice. The trip to the baseball cathedral was made even better, when my buddy who commented to his dad that he was going back to Fenway since his first trip as a child, his dad replied, " I never took you to Fenway." The weather couldn't decided if it wanted to rain or have the sun out and quickly depleted my energy. A nap and good meal was in order to prepare for the race tomorrow.

Race Day:

People have compared the Boston Marathon to the NYC Marathon in that it a day of lines of waiting. Up at 5 am for a race that starts at 10 am, I am in some respects inclined to agree. From the hotel, it was about a 3/4 mile walk to board the bus. No way, no how, were you going to get lost on this day as all you had to do was follow everybody else with a yellow bag and Paul Revere.



The temps hovered in the low 40's waiting for a bus, but once aboard, it warmed up to near sauna levels (note: not good for someone who had ingested a large amount of caffeine). While the ride seemed to be much farther than 26.2 miles, once we were allowed to get off we were greeted to this:


Since, I had gotten on one of the earlier yellow modes of transport, I had about 2 hours to wait until the start of Wave 1, but snapping the obligatory picture of this:


grabbing some food in one of the tents and standing in line for one of the 490 porta potties (how do i know this? they mentioned it several times that they had more porta potties then ever before. still didn't seem like enough ) helped to pass the time. Anyhow, I also got a chance to hang out with Jake, from the Run Like Health podcast and chatted until it was time for me to walk to starting line.

After dropping your bag, it was approximately another 3/4 mile walk to the starting line. Although there were another set of port a potties for you to use, many including myself played a cat an mouse game with the po po and tried to find a bush, back of building, etc to empty our systems before the race. I entered into my assigned wave 5000-5999, and made my way to the very back. Ditching the long sleeve shirt, I was ready to rock in my Brooks ID uniform.


After a short walk uphill, the race course starts and drops like a pinewood derby car back in my Cub Scout days. Everything that I had read and been told was that the course was downhill for several miles and it would be prudent to to hold something back before the hills. I tried, I really did. Slapping high fives, trying to slow the paws down, I went past the 5k mark at 22:36. Yikes!! In all honesty the legs felt really good, and I even threw in some walking breaks but still passed the 10k mark in 45:25. With the rising sun and temperature starting to tick upward, I made sure that I hydrated and took a gel at the hour mark. When I passed the 1/2 marathon mark in 1:37:28, for a brief moment, I thought, well if I run an even or negative split the second half, I could BQ at Boston.


Yeah, not going to happen. The gently slope of the downhills over the first half of the race, left my legs buttered up to get pounded by the hills in the second half. If this had been an ultra, I would have certainly walked the hills, but this is Boston right? No way, no how and perhaps foolishly, I ran up the hills. Yup, that's how you make sure your quads start to hurt and your pace falls off. You know what? How the hell cared? My legs have been to that point before and I certainly made sure that I walked a bit at every mile but this was Boston. A long time dream as a precocious youth realized and I was going to soak it all in.

I was still on pace for a sub 3:30 marathon and what I figured I could honestly run kept moving forward. Just past the 22 mile mark or so, I ran by Dane, whom I had run into yesterday on the streets in Boston and we chatted for about a mile before he was moving much stronger than me and trotted off to a sub 3:20 and BQ for him.

Soon enough, I could see the Citgo sign and the pull towards home. The quads were heavy, and my pace may have slowed, but man o man were the crowds simply amazing. As I made the turn onto Boylston, I was flooded with emotion, knowing I was going to finish, and far faster than I had thought. Crossing the line in 3 hr 23 min and 07 seconds, I was rewarded with the unicorn:




I may have walked around, ate, and drank to much prior to the race, but who cares? I was there for the experience, and believe me, I got my fun and finished that run, but don't think that as I reflect on the race, that I am not already planning my assault on it the next time, whenever that may be.

Friday, April 16, 2010

So this Boston thing

As I prepare to depart tomorrow for the 114th Boston Marathon, I sit mixed with emotion. During a mandated visit to my mom during Easter Break as a youth, she knew of my interest in running and decided to take me to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. My memories of riding the bus with runners and hanging in and around the starting line of Hopkinton are seared in my memory but little did I realize at the time that you actually had to qualify to run the marathon. Qualify? The precociousness of my youth led me to believe that one day I could and would do this.

Fast forward 10 or so years when I finally decided to try my first marathon and thought, "Hey, I am going to run so fast that I will qualify for Boston on my first try." I did not respect the marathon on my first try, and she taught a cruel hard lesson. A lesson that led me to lick my chops and think maybe Boston would never be attainable.

Ten or so marathons were to follow and I was mired in mediocrity. I ran them to run them but did not do any specific workouts. Tempo? Hills? Progression Runs? Nope...give me LSD...all day. After a 3 hr 32 min effort in Detroit of 2007, I began to think that maybe, just maybe if I actually became serious and was willing to commit to doing the necessary work I might just be able to live up to that statement all those years ago in Hopkinton as a youth. In the spring of 2008, I ran a 3 hr 24 min marathon in Toledo in what could best be described as crap weather and fueled my efforts to maybe give it a whirl in Columbus in the fall. Tempo? Hills? Progression? Yes...

At Columbus, I did nothing smart. I went out to fast ( 1 hr 31 min) and than ran/walked the second half watching my watch like a school kid on the last day before summer vacation wondering if my time would run out before I had crossed the finish line. I crossed in 3 hr 9 min and 51 sec. I had my Boston BQ. Scheduling precluded me from running Boston in 2009, and really I was ok with it. I was glad I qualified, but I turned my sights to my first 100 miler. The fact that I am able to go this year is a testament to support from my family and friends who have allowed me to run and make the necessary arrangements to watch our children as Heather and I go.

During the course of the past year, I have had lots of time to do a lot of introspection and reflection on this sport that I love so much. As the talk about Boston started to whip up via social media that I frequent, I began to make sense of what running Boston means to me. So what if I qualified for Boston? Yes, I am happy with the fact that I ran a time they deemed as a qualifying time for my age group, but that is all it is...a qualifying time to run a race that demands a qualifying time. This is not to take nothing away from the history and tradition of the race, and yes, I will enjoy the experience. Does that make me a "real runner" over someone who didn't or who was able to gain entry via a charity or as an invitation? Absolutely not...fast or slow, WE as runners are out there on a daily basis putting our best foot forward. That is all we can ask for as we move down the road.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Run Because....

I continually order and read running related books. Few after reading, have made the cut in my opinion as keepers and ones that I will go back to from time to time to reread or find a quote or inspiration. Others, I have found are best to pass along to a fellow runner in hopes that they will learn or find inspiration between it's pages as it was not present to me when I was reading it.

Most recently, I finished Zen and the Art of Running, by James Shapiro. The book talks about runners and their attempts to get in the "zone" but through techniques in this book, you will reportedly learn to enter the "Zen" zone. By using a mindful approach which is most commonly associated with Buddhism, you may discover how to run longer, faster, and harder. It is an interesting read, and gave me something to reflect on, but not something that I felt was something I would continue to go to the well on.

Enter social media. I have done a couple of book giveaways via Twitter before, but asked nothing more from fellow runners than to indicate interest. This time, I thought that a reflection on why do they run would yield some interesting and insightful answers. So in order to enter the contest, I stated that they had to tweet me with the following statement and fill in: I Run Because..... (some of the responses).

- " I run because it is like drinking water"

- " I run because I need a new belt buckle. Running the Umstead 100 this weekend."

- " I run because it makes me feel so happy to overcome the evil brain every time I finish a run. It's a victory for me."

- " I run because NOT running isn't an option."

- " I run because it makes negative experimental results much more manageable. Also because, I feel better than I would if I didn't"

- " I run because it always given me back everything I've put into it. It's because of running that I even have a job right now."

" I run because it makes me a better person in so many ways: physcially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. My kids are happier when I run. "

- " I run because it helps slow everything else down."

- " I run because I was fat and out of shape and have reversed it. I'll live longer for me and my family. I can keep up with kids and cool runner friends"

- " I run because it saved my life. 7 years ago, I was over 300 pounds and unhealthy. I knew I had to make a change. My first 26.2 is this May."

- " I run because it keeps me sane."

- " I run because even though I love my job, it can be stressful at times."

- " I run because it makes me a healthier man, with a clearer head, a happier heart, and a sense of purpose."

- " I run because stopping is not an option"

- " I run because I can. More complex than it sounds. There was a time, when I couldn't"

- " I run because it makes me a better human"

- " I run because the trails feel unappreciated and need to be used"

- " I run because life demands it! And I accept that graciously."

- "I run because it makes me a better person at everything I do and makes me a better person."

In the end, it is not about a contest, or winning a book, but the answers that people provided showed an honest and open nature as to how and why they have chosen this sport. So the question begs....I Run Because....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lunch Run

By nature, I am an early morning runner. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is "up before the sun, to get it done." That being said, I had planned on doing another after school run today to get my mileage in for the day when I came upon an idea.

My job as a school administrator does not afford me the opportunity to squeeze a lunch time run or for that matter sometimes a lunch without interruption most days. However, I know that people swear by their lunchtime workouts as a way of maximizing their time and giving them energy for the rest of the day. So, with a Professional Development day on tap and an hour available for lunch, I thought, why not try out this lunch time run thing?

I am not gonna lie. As I sat through several meetings in the morning, I was giddy with the thought of slipping into my S3's (shorts, shirt, and shoes), sliding out for an easy 3, and hurriedly trying to scarf down some food within the hours time. The temp was a cool and comfortable 56 degrees with not a cloud a sight. Even though I gotten in just over 7 miles earlier that morning, the legs felt loose and light carrying my swiftly over the 3 miles in just under 24 minutes.

Post run, I slipped back into my work attire, scarfed down some food and resumed listening to presentations by various community agencies. However, the sweet smell of funk and the salty residue crusted on my brow was a reminder if only to me of the fun I had trying out this lunch run thing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Still Tread

On average, I get about 300-350 miles out a pair of shoes. Given that last year, I ran just over 2,400 miles, that means I have several pairs of shoes laying around that although have carried me swiftly and safely over roads and trails, are no longer serviceable to me. I usually keep one pair to kick around in, and sometimes send some to my local church, but this time the tubes of the internet have led me to The Shoe Shed.

From the website:

Runners Helping the Homeless with Their Old Running Shoes

Running shoes, unlike regular shoes, have a fairly limited shelf life if you run regularly. They’re good for about 300-400 miles. After that, support breaks down and the risk of injury goes up. So even if they look good on the outside, and have plenty of life left in them, they might not be okay for running any longer. The Shoe Shed takes your “mileage worn” running shoes and donates them to local homeless shelters throughout the United States giving thousands of people shoes-- your shoes.

Send Shoes To: Attention: Donate My Shoes 25333 Gosling Road Spring, TX 77389

Email: info@theshoeshed.com


Given the recent state of the economy, where a larger number of men, women, and children are experiencing job loss, poverty, hunger, and homelessness, it is but a drop in the bucket to help. So, check your running room, cave, area, closet, etc and see if you have pair of running shoes with some tread left in them and think of donating to The Shoe Shed or check your local running store for places they might donate too and help someone out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Video Test

Short little video i shot with my Iphone 3g using the iVideocamera app today after long run.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Putting It Down

Little scraps of paper and a rambling thoughts in my head are as far as I have gone in establishing my tentative race schedule for 2010. I know what I want to run, but putting it down and then discussing it with Dirrty Girl (wife) are keys in the building process.

Paint Creek 50k
A local fat ass where I ran only the 25k several years ago. However, I learned the loop that day and have used it numerous times in training. Only problem I remembered after I signed up is that it is my daughter's birthday. Hmm..

Green Jewel 50k
from the website: The Green Jewel 50K Fun Run is a running event that showcases the Cleveland Metroparks. Running from the Scenic Park (near the Marina) in Rocky River to the Oak Grove Picnic Area in Brecksville.

The Green Jewel run is part of the 2010 Western Reserve Trail Running Series.

Martian 1/2 or Marathon
I think I have run this marathon 5 times? If you are looking for crowd support, you won't find it here as the run is mainly an out and back on Hines Drive that is a low key and well organized event. Last year, I used it as a long training run by doing about 6 miles before the start. No sure what I want to yet in terms of distance since Boston is 1 week later.

Boston Marathon:
Not gonna lie...kind of excited for this. I managed to qualify somehow (Columbus 2008) and am in the process of getting the legs to try and remember how to run fast. Goal is to simply put in the quality efforts and show up on race day.

Kettle Morraine 100k
A big of a longshot in terms of traveling logistics only and that it falls near the end of the school year. Would love to run this as I have heard of the beauty of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Burning River 100:
Like a moth to a flame. My BHAG for 2009 took me to my core and it was everything that I had imagined and more. This was quite simply the best event I have ever participated in. Not simply because of the distance, but in terms of the course, support, and organization. I managed to put together a plan that kept my time away from family to a minimum and even in the months after this event, I have thought about the time out there, and I just want to go back. Simply put...there was nothing better than having no other responsibility for the day than to put one foot in front of the other and move foward. And oh yeah...it is the 2010 National Championship...

Hallucination 50k/50m
Held on the the beautiful Potowatomi singletrack, I paced my buddy Brian last year for his attempt at Michigan's first 100 miler. Only scheduling conflict is Dirrty Girl's 40th birthday that weekend.

Oil Creek 50k:
This ruggedly beautiful race sold out last year. Located near DG's grandparents, she actually encouraged me to sign up for this race last year. How is that for an endorsement? Haven't seen anything posted for it this year, but I am keeping tabs.

Detroit Free Press Marathon
Home of my first marathon. I ran it for the 5th time last year and had an absolute ball. Will try to remember and sign up early this year to avoid the frustration of standing in the immigration check and pay line.

Lose the Turkey Fat Ass:
My race directorial debut. Held on one of my favorite training loops, last year's inaugural event surpassed all of my expectations in terms of participation and weather. Totally fun

Nothing really groundbreaking here, but I know I have to plan things out. So far the only confirmed race is the Boston Marathon. Burning River is sure to follow soon. Most of it again is pretty local, but I am ok with that since I want to spend time with my family even while training for my goals. I will be coaching little dirt dawg's spring soccer team and then most likely will volunteer to help coach his tball team. Dirrty Feather just started gymnastics and will probably play squirt ball (soccer) for the first time this fall. As for Dirrty Girl, she is mounting a comeback to the roads and has a 1/2 marathon planned to try and achieve her PR. No doubt, I will be doing some runs with her, and will probably try and pace her. Looks like a busy year, but I know with proper planning, that I can achieve these goals. See you out there!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Y.I.R. 2009

Year in Review 2009:

Running:

# of runs: 350

Miles: 2,481

Time: 473 hours and 53 min

Average Run: 7.1 miles

Average Pace: 11:27 min/mile

Biking:

# of rides: 52

Miles: 428

Time: 33 hr 52 min

Average Ride: 8.2 miles

Best part was that I was able to get out there and meet some amazing people. Really excited to see what 2010 holds. Bring it!