Monday, June 26, 2017

Marathon training rule 2: Surviving the Treadmill

Why is their a gun in my cup holder of my treadmill? I didn't load it did I? Please tell me I didn't load it! Lets not check maybe I ran out of bullets. Lets take our mind off it somehow. Lets looks to see how long we have been running it must be like 4 or 5 hours by now. 3 minutes, how the heck can it be just 3 minutes. This stupid thing is broken. I bet the gun isn't broken. Stupid treadmill. This must be how hamsters feel. Why isn't their a support group for hamsters and their wheels? Does PETA protest at pet stores the sale of hamster wheels, they should. I am going to write a letter to PETA just after I caress this gun a little. 4 minutes down, six bajillion to go.

Running on the treadmill if you train for a fall marathon almost always becomes an evil necessity. These little horrible torture devices are only slightly better than running outside when its 110 degrees, only slightly. Lately I have become very picky about my treadmill's because not all treadmills or gyms with them or workout rooms are the same. But unless you want to roast to death being followed by vultures until you swallow your pride and knock on someones door and ask for a drink of water you get on one and try and pass the time as best as you can as one treadmill minute is equal to ten running outside. Here is a ranking of treadmills in different environments from worst to best to help you make it a little better.

1. The Hotel treadmill. By far the worse treadmill you can find not because it might be cheap which it typically is or that it was bought in the 1980's which isn't uncommon but because of the room they put it in. Hotel treadmills are found in tiny little rooms with no circulation. Its like a mixture of hot yoga on a treadmill that can be so rickety you think Fred Flintstone once ran on it. Let me paint you a picture you are out of town on business in a seedy little trucking town where outside running doesn't seem like a good idea. You head down to the treadmill alas your training plan calls for speedwork. You don't even bother putting on a shirt because you know two miles in it will weigh 10 pounds so soaked in sweat you will look like you jumped in the pool fully dressed. If you could run fully naked you would but last time you did that the hotel manager had strong words for you. Half way through you have soaked the treadmill where it looks like you were having a water gun fight and all of sudden you slip and almost go off the back of it as the treadmill is so slick with your sweat it has now become a slip and slide. You pause the treadmill and towel it down so you don't die when you start running again. You finish your workout and our glad planes don't let you bring your treadmill gun with you because either you or the treadmill would have got a gap in its arse.

2. The complex treadmill. If you are like me you might live in a complex with a treadmill. Hey free and close to home but just like the hotel treadmill they are in a little room made by the devil, seriously I am sure hell is just a tiny room with no circulation as you run on a treadmill. Only plus sides are is it only a two minute walk back to your house and you can bring your own fan which only makes it slightly better. Or even better yet half way through the run you can hop off the treadmill and say eff this I don't care if its 200 degrees outside I am finishing outside. Unless you make the mistake of texting your coach to say this and he says suck it up buttercup get your ass back on the treadmill and you go stick your head in the kitchen sink than finish the run back on the treadmill to make him proud. But he will never be proud of you but you do it anyways.

3. Gym treadmills. Not all Gym treadmills are built the same. My favorite gym treadmill is on the second floor of the community center with wide open areas and tons of air flow. Its almost like running outside with AC for the airflow. Yea the treadmill is a little rickety and old and one of the treadmills shocks you if you dare put headphones into it to try and watch tv laughing at the fool who thought he could pass the time while on the hamster wheel. But the airflow is amazing, give me that airflow and that hotel treadmill I once ran on that was possessed by the treadmill gremlins and kept speeding up and changing incline for no reason like a bucking bronco trying to throw me off and I'd be happy. The gym treadmill usually has tv or a movie playing and depending on the gym some airflow, but the treadmills aren't well maintained and thousand of people have rode them into the ground. But do remember if someone gets on the treadmill next to you at the gym its a race you must race them and first person to fall off the back or puke loses. Pass the time efficiently.

4. Your home treadmill. You sir are a sick bastard how much did you pay to be able to torture yourself at will in your own home, seek help. Ok seriously with these you can set up 50 fans and get all the airflow you need, set the thermostat to 40 degrees until the kids yell dad we are out of blankets. And the best part is some strange person (me most likely) hasn't sweated on it so much you think they had a supersoaker filled with human sweat with them. You don't have to go anywhere to run and you can run anytime in front of your tv or in a basement surrounded by all your lovely medals from when you got to run outside.

So make friends with the treadmill, make sure the gun is not loaded, and remember if someone is running beside you its a race.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Seriously don't die, rule one of marathon training

In rule one of how to survive a marathon we went over an important step hydration and how to avoid buzzards. Before we move onto rule two we really should hit on rule one a little more.

Imagine you are running on the surface of the sun, you thought you brought enough water but your desire to sleep in versus running outside when the temps say 110 is always battling itself. When the alarm so rudely buzzes at like 4 something in the morning when no sane person alive would get up much less get up to run 15-20 miles you turn that little nuisance off. You doze for a few more hours before you finally say well dang it lets get up and try not to die. Somewhere along the way you run out of water and the sun beats down on you and you are pretty sure you are going to die. The vultures and buzzards are following you, circling above you letting out a kakaw every now and then to let you now when you die your flesh will not go to waste. So nice of them to let you know this kakaw we will eat your flesh kakaw you look like a happy meal kakaw. Here are some tips on how to find extra water when your sure you are going to die. All of these have been tried and have worked, sometimes multiple times.

1. Lawn sprinklers, not just for kids to run in when its hot or water to make green grass in a desert but lovely on the lips. Scales on a 1-5. Reliability scale: 2 (most don't water during the middle of the day as you shouldn't so you have to find the sneaky ones who just don't care about the rules, damn the man). Taste: 3 (who knows where this water is coming from and its usually pretty warm). Overall 3 (just because you can also run in it afterwords).

2. Discarded half full water bottles. Now many people like to train on marathon courses and the sane ones also like to run in the morning and do some silly thing called water drops so by the middle of the day plenty to be found. If you are running on a marathon course these bottles are lovely, just don't drink the yellow ones. If night running hold the bottles up to the moon to check for a hint of yellow. If no moon close your eyes and pray to whatever god you want its not a yellow bottle. Reliability 2 (outside of marathon courses and water drops these bottles are a lot less infrequent and cannot be trusted as well either). Taste 2 (almost always piss warm and in the case of the yellow ones probably piss tasting as well). Overall 2 (there is a lot of shame in drinking from someones discarded water bottle but get over that quick buttercup).

3. Knocking on someones door and asking for a drink of water. The first time you do this you will find yourself in a new low of despair so thirsty you aren't afraid to knock on someone's door and beg for a drink. But soon you don't mind because the buzzards won't stop following you. Reliability 4 (lots of houses to be found typically and most sane people are indoors enjoying AC). Taste 4 (the water is lovely with a little shame to wash it down). Overall 4 (yea people look at you weird but man that water is good).

4. Gas Stations. This seems the simplest but a lot of times your route doesn't lead you pass many gas stations. Sure you get a few stares if you have ditched your shirt and look like some crazed lunatic from a bugs bunny cartoon escaping the desert but that water is ice cold and so yummy. Reliability 2 (I just don't seem to plan routes around these places). Taste 5 (that stuff is ice cold and in AC you may not wanna leave the AC). Overall 4 (just for the AC).

5. Water fountains. Unless you are on the trails the city provides these are almost impossible to find and then for some reason they turn them off turn during the winter. We live in the desert not the arctic white north leave us our water gall darn it. Reliability 1 (just too hard to find). Taste 5 (I don't know what it but these are always ice cold and yummy). Overall 2 (great when you can find them).

Until next time don't drink the yellow water.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rule Number 1 of Marathon training, don't die

Its a blog, at one time everyone had a blog including me, wait I still do have a blog. I just never update it, probably post things people don't care about or do race reports. Well lets change this up a bit, maybe we can stay on this horse for a little bit this time. Last time I posted I was talking about goals and I still haven't met those goals. I might be chasing that darn sub 4 until I am trying to get it running with a walker and beating people out of the way with my cane but gall darn it I never seem to stop chasing it. I have missed triathlons this year after a year of marathon training, you dirty little race that bests me every time I will beat you or die trying, I am giving it one more valiant effort for sub 4 at Saint George marathon even with a coach this time. So next year I will be going back to triathlons but I am chasing that sub 4 one more time, one more round with the devil, one more round of trying to beat it before it beats me.

I got some crazy goals for next year already, yes I will be doing a full ironman be it me doing it solo style on my own using gas stations as aid stations and drinking from sprinklers (so please leave your sprinklers on). The idea being to finally get to do the old full Saint George ironman course which has haunted my dreams or maybe its my nightmares from 2011 to now of always wanting to do it. That or doing a sanctioned course with those weird people who come out and volunteer and cheer us crazies on but it will happen. But for now lets changes this blog up. I am an emotional runner, I run with my heart and not my brain. I run too fast when I shouldn't, I run on days when I shouldn't, I end up lying on the ground taking a nap in the middle of a half marathon sick as a dog with the flu. It's who am I and what I do so lets make this the blog of what not to do.

Running is simple right, you just need a pair of shoes and not even those sometimes some people just run barefoot, and miles of road ahead of you. Lace up and hit the roads, just got off work, let's run. No one likes to wake up to run early, run when you can. Somewhere along the road you caught that rare virus called raceitis. And now deep in its clutches you have signed up for a marathon. A marathon to be held the first week of October which means you gotta train during the summer. I also happen to live on the surface of the sun come July and August its true just ask anyone they will tell you as they cook their scrambled eggs for breakfast on the sidewalks.

So going to the trusty internet I find a plan by some man Called Hal. Hal seems like a trusty name right, I mean that's like a grandpa's name or that cool uncle that sets off fireworks in the street. Good ole Hal. Hal thinks you should run these things called long runs which start at like 10 miles and work its way up to 20 miles. I am starting to trust Hal less and less what kind of lunatic runs 20 miles on a Sunday. Maybe I was wrong that Hal seems like a seedy character after all. Oh well lets do this Hal, wait wasn't the computer from that Kubrik film called Hal, don't let me out a cargo bay door Hal.

At first not too bad I've run four half marathons after all I can do these 15miles heck doing three five mile loops around my house isn't too bad throw a few gatorade on the window sill and some waters and you are good. But man everytime you pass your house and am like crap there is AC in there and my TV isn't 5 or 10 good enough, NO, lets keep doing this. Wait there is my house again, dang it, Hal you suck. Maybe we should try running marathon course, I mean get dropped off and run home then we don't have to pass the house so often and its promises of AC. Hal is saying we need to run 18 miles perfect, Veyo is 18 miles from my house, but I don't wanna run on my birthday on Saturday lets run on Sunday, yea Sunday sounds great. But I don't wanna get up early the day after my birthday lets get up around 8:30 then we are running by 9 or so yea thats a good idea lets do this.

Was that a buzzard? Are buzzards following me? Why is it so hot? When did I run out of water? What is water? Crap I have forgotten the taste of water? I know that buzzard is following me! Why didn't I bring more water? 32 ounces of water should have been enough where did it all go? So hot! So thirsty! We've been running what 4 miles without water now, that's not too bad no one can die from just 4 miles without water right? Only 4 more miles to go? That's what 57 miles without water right? Wait no 4? Crap I can't math anymore? 8 the number is 8 Regis, what do I win? Can I trade my winnings for a glass of water Vanna? Oh my gosh is that a church!?! It's Sunday, they have church on Sunday in August right? I am going into that church its gotta be open. Oh my gosh its open its open wheres the drinking fountain? Don't you judge me you tie wearing freaks I will stick my head in this drinking fountain if I want. Ahhhhhhhhhh. When did I take off my shirt? Who cares WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rule number 1 of marathon training, always bring more water than you need. Especially if for some reason you start running at 9am when the temps are going to be 109 that day, drop that water everywhere pretend you are throwing pokeballs and trying to catch pikachu. Until next time, yes I was that homeless looking shirtless sweaty crazy person that wandered into your church and proceeded to dunk his head in your drinking fountain and lap from it like a dog, no shame in this game.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Goals anc achieving them

I’ve decided to change this blog up. Up until now I have been doing the normal oh race report here maybe a little talk there but honestly do you really care about someone’s race report that much unless they take amazing pictures during the race which I don’t I am too focused. So lets make this a blog and not a journal look at what I did here and oh here and sure I might throw those in somewhere again but lets change things.

So what do we want to talk about lets talk about race goals first yep its still on my mind. So I hear people say sometimes oh I just wanted to have fun and oh I had no goal in mind but I almost always want to yea horse shit you have some idea of what you want to run. Maybe you don’t want to admit it out loud or maybe its buried deep down and you aren’t going to voice it. But yea even if you haven’t trained at all and have zero chance of doing it cmon admit it that sub 4 or that sub 2 or that 10 minute mole is still there in your mind. Yea sure you know you got no chance at it but you kind of want to go for it but you know your training or lack there of won’t allow it so you do it for fun.

Now that’s not to say that sometimes yea you are just out there to run for fun or with no time goal but to finish heck even me who’s so competitive with myself has done that sometimes but I think most of the time you are like hell yea if I can go x in y time it would be amazing. I had an older gentleman once tell me that he does it for fun and that his pr day’s are gone so yea he’s just out there to do it and enjoy it still. I told him well I am still young and I can still pr so yea while I still can and before time catches me I am sure as hell going to try for it as often as I possibly can. Heck I can see myself at 65 just trying to set a new 60-70 year old pr, maybe my pr’s will need to change soon I can run as a master maybe I will have to make my new pr’s master pr’s but screw that I only started running when I was 33 I still can beat those times.

So I started to look at my race goals normally I go into a race with a stretch goal, a A goal and a B goal. I know there is probably zero chance I make that stretch goal unless I have that one magical unicorn race and those are so rare and amazing by damn you don’t find that unicorn that often. It’s there though because it’s the goal that hey maybe you don’t get it today unless you have that magically perfect race but you won’t to get it eventually and it’s what you work at. As I have raced over the years that stretch goal has changed and evolved. When I first started running when I had no dreams of running a marathon it was to run a sub 30 5k and 2:11 half. Why a 2:11 half marathon well that happens to be exactly a 10 minute mile. I had no delusions of a sub 2 half I just wanted to beat a 10 minute mile for 13.1 miles that was all. So my first sub 2 was anticlimactic and actually might be the closest I have ever come to that magical unicorn race and meeting a stretch goal (heck I might have its hard to remember what your stretch goal was five years later unless you wrote it down) where and to date I still consider it the best race I have ever run.

The reason being was because I was chasing that 10 minute mile which I got in August of 2011 running a 2:08:47 shortly before my first marathon and then the very next half marathon I ran I blew it out of the water running a 1:55:31 just that November. I remember knocking my gloves out of my pocket at mile 2 or 3 and actually backtracking to get them other than that it was a nearly perfect and flawless race for my current fitness. That’s when the goal became a sub 4 marathon because I just ran a sub 2 half. Just the month before my stretch goal had been a 4:30 marathon with a sub 5 as my A goal. All of a sudden the sub 4 was born off that one magical race.

But those races when I hit my A goal have been so rare and far between that 1:55 half running my first sub 30 5k, running my first sub 1 hour 10k, running that sub 5 marathon and then surprisingly this year with my half ironman with my 7:16 as my stretch goal for the 70.3 has been and still is sub 7. My B goal is almost always to PR who doesn’t want to PR. That B goal always means every time you hit it it’s just going to be that much harder to hit it the next time and the next time. It’s hard to be sad about PRing although yea I have been disappointed in PRs like my half pr as I was on pace for my stretch goal of a 1:45 all the way up to mile 10 when I stopped to tie my shoes and couldn’t get going again. It’s devastating to go from running 8 minute miles to 9-10 minutes struggling to finish.

The last few years I have had to settle for knowing all I was going to do was finish but even then I tried to hit some type of time goal. I wanted to run a 4:45 at the marathon last year I still wanted to run sub 2 at all my halves even though I knew I had let myself slip to where I couldn’t anymore. I think goals are important and your stretch goal is something you should always be reaching for I hope soon to finally get that sub 4 which would have been a stretch goal once and now is an A goal as my stretch goal is starting to look like a BQ. Always evolving always changing and always altering.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Is Boston possible?

I think at one time or another every runner thinks about Boston at some point. It’s that pinnacle of running the one race you just can’t sign up for or throw your hat into a lottery to get in. It’s that race you have to qualify for and be somewhat good at this thing we call running and or our hobby to do so. I am aware of the charity route and I don’t look down on anyone who goes that route but to me that route personally would seem like cheating like buying an entry into the most prestigious marathon out there. The reason it feels like cheating is because I know deep down if I put the time in, the effort in, the blood, sweat and tears in I could qualify. It would be hard, it would be a lot of work, it would be a lot of sacrifices but I know I could do it. So buying my entry rather than earning my entry feels cheapened. To line up at Boston knowing that I put all that time, that effort, that hard work to get there would be the greatest feeling ever.

For the first time in years I can actually think about Boston again, when I was running 5 hour marathons because of lack of training or my focus being elsewhere (life or triathlon it makes no difference) Boston was a fleeting dream no where in the realm of reality. But after spending the last 10 months regaining my speed and training hard and going for my first sub 4 shortly I could actually possibly think about Boston once more. I know don’t get ahead of myself get that sub 4 first heck I’ll easily beat my 5:17 at Saint George last year without barely trying. But that leaves the realm of what now after spending the better part of the last year training hard. The thing is I know I have the speed my last timed mile was a 6:46 in February (I want to retime a mile after marathon training but don’t want to mess with my training to do so right now) so I know I can run the 7:27 mile my BQ would require me to run it. Heck I should be able to run a 5k around that range right now (I ran a 23:44 5k in March which is a 7:39 average close to what I would need) but the trick is getting it from a 5k to 26.2 miles. Do I want to spend the next year putting in the effort, the blood, the sweat and the tears. First things first though Big Cottonwood and the goal I have chased since 2011.

Back at it again Sub 4 or bust

I think I have always had a love for running but never explored it until I was in my 30’s. You will always hear people say no way would I ever want to do High School again but me it’s different I would love to do High School again and join the track club and see how fast I could get when I was still young and before I let myself get so fat. I remember being 20 years old and my whole goal in running was just to have that six minute mile like the fast kids in High School and Middle School. I wasn’t fat in high school I just didn’t do much running so I was always that slow kid that ran the 12-13 minute mile during the mile tests they made you do. I remember redoing those miles tests at 20 and I did time myself in the 6 minute range but no idea how accurate that was as I am pretty sure I just figured the distance off the odometer of my car and used a wrist watch for the time (hey it was the late 90’s I am not even sure GPS existed yet much less your fancy garmin watch you probably were still using road maps or if you were fancy like me directions you printed off mapquest before making a trip). That was my whole goal when I was 20 just to run a fast mile to make up for those painfully slow ones in school. I don’t think I ever ran more than 2.5 miles, I didn’t know what a 5k was and was only vaguely aware of what a marathon was I just wanted a good mile time.

Fast forward more than a decade and 200 plus pounds when I started running again was because yea I have always loved it. I started walking it was just a mile and half every day for the year of 2009 354 out of 365 days that year. Near the end of the year I started running bit by bit mostly just the last block home because who doesn’t like to sprint to the finish. When I did my first 5k after learning what one was (hey running has taught me the metric system better than school ever did) it was just 39-40 minutes I didn’t keep logs yet so I don’t know the exact times (the first logs I kept for my running has my 5k times in the 36-37 minute range). But I was happy with that I mean just two years prior I was so winded running to first base in a kickball league I had people offer to base run for me even though I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine I will do my own base running even if I die thank you very much.

I have always been gungho and kind of leap in with both feet I signed up for my first 5k in August of 2010 and by November of 2010 I was signed up for my first half marathon that I finished in disastrous fashion. But anyone who races knows the addiction better than crack and I am quite sure more expensive. So yea you want to do better so you sign up again forgetting the pain and in the beginning it is so easy to get faster it seems like you will pr forever. I pred in the first 16 races I did, I mean my half went from a 2:30, to a 2:20, to a 2:13, to a 2:08 to a 1:55 in rapid succession within a years’ time. Heck that 1:55 I ran in November of 2011 I still consider it one of the best races I have ever run to this day (still no Garmin just a cheap Timex watch I got for $15 at Target but better than my first half when I didn’t own a watch so I memorized songs every 15 minutes on my iPod so I knew how long I had been running oooh Indian Outlaw is on I must have been running for 45 minutes now) and it still stands as the 4th fastest half I have ever run.

So from 2010-2012 I got nothing but faster trimming my half from a 2:30 to a 1:50 and my marathon which was a pretty good debut of a 4:58 down to a 4:18. When I first started running I dreamed of a sub 20 5k then I realized I really don’t like 5ks (don’t get me wrong running a fast 5k can be as difficult as running a fast marathon maybe even more so it’s just not my cup of tea) heck I don’t even remember the last time I even tried to race a 5k maybe 2012 I have just been counting my 5k pr off splits from half marathons or a 10k because I seriously haven’t raced one in forever. So then my goal became a sub 2 half which I got pretty early on so I decided I wanted a sub 4 marathon and a 1:45 half. 2012 was my banner year it was when I was my fastest and all my pr’s were set. It seemed both those goals were just out of reach and I would get them soon.

2013 I consider that little shelf right below the peak that makes you think oh I am still just right here but I am just a little off. I still was easily running sub 2’s (I ran 4 that year with also what I consider one of my better races of a 1:59 at STG half not because it was my fastest but because it was done on a much harder course then where I was setting my pr’s of Snow Canyon and Bryce or even Parowan. I have yet to do a true cheater course though like Big Cottonwood, Timp or Drop 13 as I consider Snow Canyon or Bryce a step below those as while yea you get some pretty good downhills the first half of those races the second half of those races suck in comparison and take some grit to hang on through rollers) and my marathon was decent with a 4:25. You are like I am still right there I will get that sub 4 soon, you can still see the peak you are still pretty close to it. 2014 wasn’t kind to me at all though. I had a rough first half of the year and decided to once more make an attempt for that elusive marathon pr. I knew it was unlikely at the time as my best half that year was a 2:01 I ran at Parowan as the peak was getting further and further away, I just couldn’t seem to close the gap any longer. Then I had my major bicycle accident that led to my worst marathon to date (to be fair no way should I have even done the race as I was just 6 weeks off a major accident and an ambulance ride to the ER without being able to run more than 4 miles because after that I would be pretty close to lying down and dying from sheer exhaustion (it’s an odd phenomenon to go from being able to run a half marathon every single weekend to being near death after just 4 miles).

2015 was even worse, things arose that led me to me being my laziest in more than 5 years and all desire just kind of seeped out of me. I spent more time watching Netflix than I did running that summer but I did get through all 7 seasons of Buffy and a couple seasons of the Shield and was starting to round the corner on the X-Files. Those heights and speeds of 2012 were long gone, heck even running a sub 2 now seemed impossible something that had been so easy from 2012-2013. It was August and remembering how miserable my 2014 marathon had been on no training I was like oh crap I guess I should train. That led to what was basically a 4 week marathon training program that consisted of two half marathons (including my slowest Parowan in 2:09) and one 19 mile long run then a taper. On August 20th I weighed myself and I hit my highest weight since 2010 and was like no uh huh not happening and promptly lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks before the marathon. I didn’t run the most terrible race putting up a 5:17 but that was still almost an hour slower than my pr of 2012.

Then I made a major mistake I decided to sign up for a second marathon a week later just to get into the Guinness book of world records. I hadn’t trained for the first marathon now I was doing a second one a week later. I came out of that not feeling very well and for the next three months I would be peeing blood after any hard workout and in an utter state of exhaustion the entire three months. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong I had wanted to do a full ironman in 2016 and had been saving up for it. But I could barely get through workouts and was crashing really hard. Then in January I woke up in major pain peeing blood again and ended up in the instacare the moment they opened. I had an infection, I had had the infection for probably three months which is what had caused the exhaustion. I was put on antibiotics and told not to ride my bike for 4 weeks which meant no ironman as I could no longer train for it. The antibiotics also seemed to rob me of my immune system as for the next 2 and half months I was non stop sick. I would get the flu on a Tuesday get over it by Friday then have a cold by Saturday night. All told I had the flu 3 times, 3 colds and 2 stomach bugs that seemed to stretch on for months on end.

The only good thing that came out of being so sick as when I started to train in November I was base building for the ironman so I was doing a lot of speedwork. With the help of Justin Snyder who I cannot thank enough and months and months of relentless speedwork every week, week after week at the track all winter I suddenly found my speed again. When told not to bike I shifted all my focus to running and decided this would be the year I got that elusive sub 4. Non stop sick I still hit the track every week, my miles were low but my quality was high. I had saved up quite a bit for the ironman so decided to take my very first racecation and traveled to New York City for a half marathon. I had more fun than I had had in years. And I ran my fastest half since Parowan in 2014 taking it more as a training run with intentions of trying to race a pr the following Saturday at Southern Utah half marathon. After 5 days in New York averaging 10 miles a day walking and 24 miles the day of the half marathon I came home probably more tired than when I left. Southern Utah half did not go as planned as we were racing into a 25 mph headwind that never stopped the entire race coupled with the exhaustion I was still feeling from New York. I knew by mile 3 that if I tried to hold my pr pace that I would blow up sometime long before the finish so I made a tactical decision and let off the gas just three miles into the race deciding to try and run my first sub 2 since November of 2013 instead. I was very pleased with my results as I ran a 1:57 on very tired legs into a headwind that made me want to weep at times. I knew just six months prior that race would have easily been a 2:20 if not worse so I was happy with the end results.

I made the decision that I wanted to make my sub 4 attempt at Big Cottonwood despite being told that Saint George was a lot easier. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone though somewhere I reside too often and do something new and different though. One of my greatest weaknesses has always been mental toughness when it comes to runs. Starting out walking then slowly running led me to taking walk breaks throughout my running career even long after I didn’t need them. I could pace or run an entire half marathon without walking as long as I was running with someone but if I would go for even a three mile run around my house I would be taking walk breaks every mile. I spent all winter conquering that weakness and now no longer take a single walk break on any of my runs (it took me over six months to totally break the habit and I recently finished a 20 mile run with zero walk breaks). My other weakness has been hills something I also worked on all winter running up and valley view drive over and over and over until I no longer even thought about the hills. So yes Saint George might be easier but for me I wanted to a race where I am not thinking oh look this is where the wheels fell off in 2012 or man I could have done better here in 2013. My tune up half was Bryce Canyon and that was a disastrous race from my car catching on fire to getting picked up on the side of the road, to almost zero sleep, to completely running out of energy half way through the race. I wasn’t even trying to set a big pr just a minute or two and it still galls me even a month later. I know it’s my third fastest half I have ever run only behind the two pr’s I set at Snow Canyon and Bryce in 2012 but I really wanted that pr. I knew going in that I had run more miles then I had ever run in a 6 week period, I knew my legs were tired but I wanted it so bad and even though it was my fastest race since 2012 I walked away disappointed. I am trying to pump myself up I know my training is there, I know after a taper my legs won’t be so tired but that stupid self doubt won’t go away, had I got the pr at Bryce it would have boosted me. I broke down my 2012 race, with 18 miles to go I still only needed to average the 9:09 and was perfectly on pace as you should be negative splitting the second half of Saint George. Even at mile 21 and after Ledges with all that is left is the fast downhill to the finish and I still only needed to average a 8:30 mile but that’s where the wheels came off the bus and instead of running 5 miles in 45 minutes I ran 5 miles in 1:03. The pinnacle is right there again I can see it again I know I am right there once more. I am no longer near the bottom like I was in 2015 but after chasing a goal for so long and so many years I can’t but help but feel apprehensive. It seems like this goal that has been there for years and years just won’t let me grab it. I wrote this to clear my mind not even sure if I would post it, this isn’t taper madness this is peak training madness with legs that feel like veal cutlets hoping and praying all the hard work will finally pay off.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The first race I have cried afterwords, Saint George Half Ironman 70.3

Over the last 2 year I have really transitioned from being a runner to a triathlete. I just found that I love triathlons more than running races and actually enjoy biking more than running as well. This has led me to focusing a lot of energy on biking and less on running the last couple of years and especially this year. Last year I did this same race and it was my first half ironman and was probably the single toughest race or thing I had ever done until yesterday. It was a train wreck of a race where I cut my foot on the walk to the start and then cramped for 69 miles gutting it out to just finish. I thought there could be nothing tougher that that and I was very wrong. After the race I spent several months melancholy wanting to get back on the horse so to speak but I could never find a race that fit into my training or travel plans (I only had one week of vacation last year and I used that when we had our second baby in October). So this years ironman was to be my redemption race.

I have put more miles in this year than I would have ever thought possible increasing my training volume in the same time frame by almost %75 as last year. Coming into the race I had logged over 2006 total miles doubling my bike miles from last year while keeping the same run miles and also increasing my swim miles. I had done a lot of extra swimming in hopes of making some good strides there on my way to a pr as well as a lot more biking. I figured if I just didn't have any cramping issues a run pr would be easy as I had a train wreck of run last year that resulted in me getting a 3:10 run time. My goal was to redo this race and I had picked a fall half ironman and then this race again next year as prep for my first full ironman Coure D'alene next June.

This year I have 13 days of vacation so I decided to use a whole week before the race as the wife really doesn't want to travel with the baby. I figured I could come in rested and relaxed for the race and just kill it with a great taper as by the end of training cycle I could feel my legs were dead. I didn't get in really big bricks like last year with my best brick being a 40 mile bike followed by a 6 mile run but I had way more of them this year doing a good sized brick about every three weeks. I had also logged three 60 mile rides in prep so I figured with having done the race and my training volume I would be ok.

It was nice having the week off I took a nap everyday and played with my kids and it was just really restful. I went to the expo Thursday as I really wanted to get a cycling jersey for this year races and didn't want them to be out of my size. But they didn't have any gear for this years race as they were behind and all you could do was order them to be shipped in like 4 weeks. They did have some of last years jerseys for half off but alas not in my size. I did go a little spend crazy having saved up some cash for this years expo as I got some 70.3 cycling shorts, 3 water bottles (one STG 70.3 official, and two red ironman ones that match my bike), a new 70.3 finisher name shirt, a ironbaby onesie for Mason, a new car sticker and a STG70.3 ironman glass.

I had been obsessing over the weather the entire 2 weeks leading up to the race. In Saint George we get a windy season and when I mean windy I mean windy. There were rides leading up the race in 35-40 mph headwinds that just brutalized you. Problem was the windy season didn't seem like it was going to end before the ironman. But the wind started to look better the closer it got but then everyday the heat index just kept going up and up with it showing it would be 94 that day so it was guaranteed to be a hot day. I started taking Scaps (sodium tablets) around Wednesday to try and help come race day knowing how hot it was going to be. I took one Thursday morning before one last swim in the lake before the race and it really upset my stomach on the swim (glad I did it Thursday instead of Saturday race day). I felt like I was going to throw up for an hour afterwords. So I decided to not take any Scaps the morning of the race and I think it really psyched me out of the swim.

On my way out I stopped and got a free chiro stretch out that they were offering. As he was working on my shoulders he commented that I had no range of motion in the one arm. This is the shoulder I had tendinitis in for several years and might be contributing to my slower swim times (only one factor though as there are others) he stretched it out and tried to give me some range of motion back in that arm and man did that hurt but I figured that it would be worth it if it helped on my swim. I didn't do much that night as I was going to go to another pro meet and greet but I had already gone to one on Tuesday meeting last years winner as he gave some really good tips that I planned to incorporate like setting up transition.

I woke up Friday more nervous than I had ever been for a race in my life, I felt like I was going to throw up all day Friday and all the way until the swim start on Saturday. I also made the mistake of kind of packing Friday a little to full. Friday morning me and Oliver went to the triathlon club breakfast and played at the park it was held out. We came home and had some lunch and then I took him to see the Amazing Spiderman 2. Once we got home from the movie I ran bike out to the lake to do bike check-in taking most of my biking and swim stuff so I had less to take in the morning. I ran through my initial checklist of what I needed 2 tubes, 2 Co2 cartridges in case of flats, nutrition on the bike (I go with shot blocks), my Scaps, bike helmet, gloves, and bike shoes, wet suit, goggles and my swim cap. Most of my clothing I would do the next day.

I got home grabbed dinner real quick and then we went and did the ironkids race with Oliver again this year. My wife talked me down from the 1 mile race and we just did the 200 meter race so he could finish with other kids as we were DFL last year. We then rode the carousel and my wife dropped me off at home where I put out the rest of my stuff for the morning. I must have gone over in my head a 1000 times a checklist to make sure I had everything I was so nervous, heck even though I knew I had taken goggles out with me to bike check-in I almost packed another pair I was that frantic. I set up everything I needed on the couch for the next morning cycling jersey, cycling shorts, race belt, run gear bag with shoes and extra shirt in case I wanted to change out of my cycling jersey for the run and flip flops I got from wal-mart for $2 that I could lose at the swim start so I didn't have a repeat of cutting my feet again like last year.

I finally forced myself to go to sleep around 9:15 am with an alarm set for 4am. I woke up at 12:30 needing to pee and after that I was awake every 45 minutes to an hour as my nerves still wouldn't settle down. So the only good sleep I got was that 9:15-12:30 they say that Thursday is the more important but alas I didn't get much sleep that night either as Mason is teething and he woke up 4 times in the middle of the night. Not much you can do so I grabbed my stuff and my wife dropped me off at the busses so she would have the car at the end. One of my friends was on the bus so I sat with him and we talked and it was a nice ride out to the lake. My nerves still wouldn't calm down so I could only get half the peanut butter sandwich I had packed down and I couldn't even look at the banana (I had been eating 2 bananas a day since Sunday though as I didn't want a repeat issue of cramping this year). I also had a cliff bar and a shot block so I figured I would be ok nutrition wise prerace.

I walked over to where the triclub was and talked to a few of them (for some odd reason I was the only one in our triclub that got a bib not below the 400 range but had some advantages as I was bib 1308 which means my bike rack was the very first bike rack to the left as you came into transition so I woildn't even need to look for my bike rack it did mean a long run out to the mount line but it would be nice to find my bike so easily. It also meant I had perfect access to the portapoties and I used them twice before the race). At 6:45 they kick you out of transition even if your swim wave is later like mine was being a 7:33am start. So we went down and watched the pro's go off at 6:50. Even they aren't perfect as we saw one pro keep getting outside the buoy line and almost hit a buoy at one point.

We finally made our way down to the swim start and I noticed that they moved the swim start out further this year. You swim to a swim start point and you have 3 minutes to do so, I watched the two waves go in front of us and in both those waves half of them didn't make it to the swim start before there gun went off. Last year I made it and had to tread water for a minute before the gun went off. I knew that wasn't going to happen this year and it was likely several minutes before I actually crossed the swim start point after my gun went off. I was ok with that as I had hoped to shave 10 minutes or more off last years time and figured that wouldn't eat up too much of my time.

Nothing felt wrong on the swim, I just didn't feel very fast. Up to turn 1 the water was pretty calm, we got some chop just minor chop on the way to turn 2 but nothing really bad. I didn't have any problems sighting and just stayed on the outside like I did last year until I had to make the turns. I might have gone a little wider than I should have this year as I did have to correct a few times and swim more into a beeline with the next buoy but it avoids me having to fight waves coming up from behind me me being a slower swimmer. It seemed to take forever to get to the second turn but finally we were on the last stretch and you could see the shoreline. This the part where I about lost my mind. 4 times on the way to the shore I had a kayaker park right in front of me so someone could hold on. They didn't go lengthwise but rather broadside so I had to swim around them and once he did it right in front me so I actually ran into the kayak. I was so frustrated that the last time it happened the swimmer swam right over the top me to get the kayak when he clearly saw me as he was backstroking that I wanted to scream. It also costs time to change direction like that constantly so I had no idea what my swim time would be. I didn't see the clock coming out so I didn't know until the end. I ended up swimming a 1:10:43 five minutes slower than last year and I am not sure where the time was lost if I was just slower or if its because I swam to wide or the longer swim to the start or constantly have to stop and start and change directions on the last stretch of the swim.

Like last year I had to pee on the last stretch but couldn't so I again just stripped off my wetsuit and peed in the portapotty since they were right by my transition. I got in my cycling clothes and shoes and hit the bike I thought I had a better transition but again slowing to use the portapotty made t1 a 8:11. Now after freaking out about the Scap because of Thursdays problem I decided I wouldn't take one until an hour into the bike which ended up being a huge mistake as I completely forgot to take them at all when things started to go wrong,

I felt pretty good on the bike and was doing really well knowing I was going to have a pretty big bike pr. I moved way up in the rankings 211 spots to be exact on the bike which meant I had to pass 211 (It actually averaged out to I was passing someone once a minute on the bike) people. Man that was excruciating at times it seemed I was constantly passing people and I swear some riders acted like it was there first time on a bike with zero bike etiquette like not staying to the right or riding side by side with someone where you were constantly yelling on your left to get past. But the bike was going well I was doing well on my nutrition and riding through the bike stops rather than stopping. It was at aid station 2 I started to feel a little warm and I took two waters one to drink and one to pour on myself. I shrugged it off knowing I was on the portion of the course I was the most familar with and I could really get into a groove here having ridden it hundreds of times.

At aid station 3 at mile 40 I actually got off the bike and filled my water bottle that was gone on my bike (I was using dr pepper in my second bottle for the sugars) and got two more water bottles one to dump and one to drink. I knew something was wrong at this point I was incredibly hot and I couldn't seem to cool down. Mile 44 is where the worst hill of the entire course is Snow Canyon and I was completely overheating just getting up to it miles 41-44 are a steady climb before before that one last climb for a mile at 44 on a %12 grade. I couldn't get into a groove anywhere on 41-44 and I was just overheating I was starting to pour water on myself nonstop I couldn't get it under control. I had to get off the bike for a moment before the last big climb. But still didn't feel right on the decent into town. I was still passing people frequently but I just couldn't see to stop overheating. Just before the last hill my wife and kids were there waiting to cheer me on which was a pickme up and helped me get through the last 2 miles as I was already going into a dark place.

I got to the last hill at mile 54 and had to again off for a second and pour the last of my water on myself and drink what I had left. I cruised into town just wanting something to drink so bad and something to pour on myself. I did end up setting a 5 minute pr on the bike despite the two stops and really slowing down the last 15 miles I was on my way to a huge pr before that my bike split ended up being 3:34:09 much slower than I anticipated and I was going for a 3:15 maybe a 3:10. I drank the last of my dr pepper in t2 and was kind of out of it I forgot everything in t2 didn't take my scaps with me didn't eat my apple I had left for nutrition in my run bag. All I could think about was getting some water. I was slow in t2 because of this I was in a complete and total fog and ended up with a 6:35 t2 slower than last year where I had to work out a cramp just to get off the bike.

They had some water coming out of t2 but it was a small aid station but I grabbed 3 glasses two to dump on myself and one to drink. As I was trying to get going a friend noticed something was wrong and asked me what was wrong. I told her I was overheating and couldn't get my temp down. She told me to drink lots of water and salt and that was when I remembered my scaps for the first time and now it was too late to go get them. I couldn't run much that first mile I couldn't get my temp down and I couldn't seem to breathe the hotter I got. When I came through t2 I saw the clock and subtracked my 38 minutes from the pro start to my wave and knew if I could just manage under 3 on the run I would pr and go sub 8 that became my focus my sole focus the whole run. I finally made it to aid station one which is led by my friends and I knew most of the athletes there they could see I was struggling got me tons of extra water poured tons of water on me got me soda everything I needed and I started to feel a little better.

I started to run a little more and started to focus on hitting my pace. I started to slip near the end though before aid station 2 as I began to overheat again. I was just hanging on at this point to get to the next aid station to get to the next water to get water poured on me. I unzipped my jersey half way down and my wife kids that I have a vneck sunburn as it was one of the few places I burned that and my neck and face. I finally make it to the second aid station get some more water I am taking as much as I can I dumping ice down my jersey so it will slowly melt in any effort to stay cool. After mile 2 is where the first really big hill is a %10 grade up I knew I couldn't run up it the way I was feeling and knew my time would slip but hopefully I could pick it back up on the descents. the walking helped some and when I got to aid station 3 I finally manged to cool down a little and feel a little better.

After mile 4 you start to go downhill for 3 miles and I was starting to get my temp a little manageable. I ran into a friend and he became my running buddy most of the run we would go back and forth when one of us had to walk but I finally started to whittle away at the pace I wanted to hit. And knew if I could just hang on I could hit it the last 3 miles which were all downhill. I did pretty well until the turnaround at 6.55 as not only do you have to go back uphill but the aid stations were further apart as they wound you around the paths up on the red rocks. I could not seem to get to an aid station fast enough and my temp kept rising and rising and rising again. I was suffering just to try and make it to the last downhill stretch. I couldn't get enough water when I hit the aid stations and I would only get a little ways away before I felt really bad again.

But I kept saying you worked too hard to not pr all you got to do is manage a 39 minute final 5k and you got this, you could run that in your sleep (I ended up doing it in 35 actually). It kept being just get to the next aid station get some water keep your times down. When we hit mile 11 on the run my wife was again out there with the kids my friend noticed and waved and had to tell me hey your wife is over there I was so out of it as I didn't even dawn on me who it was. I was completely lost in a fog I did my best to wave and knew I was so close to the finish it was great to see them. It was just finish keep your time down just finish keep your time down. My wife joked with me I checked my watch 10 times while I was passing them.

Finally hit the last aid station and my friends had a ice cold dr pepper for me and lots of water again. One of them ran with me for a half a mile and kept encouraging me. I knew I was close I knew I needed to keep running so I would do so in spurts there was nothing left all I could do was think keep your time down keep your time down. Run walk run somemore try and not think of anything but moving forward. Finally hit the last stretch and my wife was there again it propelled me across the finish. I didn't want a staggering finish photo like I got last year so I tried to keep my head up until I was past the photographer didn't stop my watch or anything as I knew I had hit my times. I knew I had pred and got sub 3 on the run and sub 8 for the race. Run ended up being 2:56:32 and the single hardest thing I have ever done and final time ended up being 7:56:10 a 12:18 second pr.

I had several volunteers try to take me to the med tent as I was staggering pretty bad and in a complete and total fog. But I declined all I wanted to do was find my family and sit down and then go lay in the splash pad (which I did several times). After laying in the splash pad and finally cooling down a little I told my wife I was going to go look for refreshments so I staggered to the refreshment tent. It was a long walk to the tent as it was half way across the town square. I began to fog up pretty good some people asked me if I was ok and I could barely talk. My breath was gone again I was completely and totally emotionally, mentally and physically spent. On the way back I started to cry as it was so far away back to the splash pad and I was never going to get there I was just so gone emotionally by this time. Finally made it back laid down again in the splash pad. And sat with my wife and she gave me the baby. I began to cry again because I had my baby I was just so happy to be done and have my baby it was just one of those moments.

After awhile I walked to get my bike out of T2 when my core temp finally came down a little after some ice cream or as much of it as I could eat and I almost started crying again when I posted on facebook what happened just bringing back the emotions of what I just went through.

I have heat exhaustion even today I still can't get my core temps where they need to be and I overheat even inside the air conditioned house. I took 3 cold showers when I got home and despite drinking over 100 ounce of ice water I am not peeing that much. I am drinking water non stop and can't seem to get enough. I woke up in the middle of night with charlie horses and at 2am my muscles hurt so bad I couldn't get back to sleep. So I was awake from 2:30-6am, I finally felt back asleep at 6am to be woken up with a charlie horse in the balls of my foot at 7:30. I just feel worn out.

I still don't know how I pred or hit my run times I don't think I have ever gutted out a race so much. I am happy for the pr but I worked so hard for so much more it has left me totally bummed at the same time. I am again contemplating when I can do my next race just to get out there well after the first bout of never ever ever ever again.

The final temp for the day ended up being 95 and it was that when I finished at 3:30. I will take the 12:18 pr that was for sure wore my medal the rest of the night because I earned that dang thing.