Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Running Happy New Year New You Year! What?

Happy New Year! Each year we are faced with new year's "to do's" by authorities around the world. This year is no exception. The cover of many magazines, well almost every magazine, carry headlines that it is time for a "New You!". Sometimes I think at the stroke of midnight we should all yell "Happy New You!", because that's what we are all told will/should happen. In the running community, things are really no different. Many running publications whether it be the magazine or online formats promote the same theme. Where were they in July?

Andy Rooney, of the CBS News program 60 Minutes, would have a ball with this. His humor would attack the theme of "It's Time for a New You" from many directions. Not pretending to even have an ounce of his talent, I can't help but take a look at the cover of one of the leading running magazines and have some fun with it. Runner's World has several cover story headlines that just invite a comment or two. Let's take a look at a few:

New Year, New You an inside look at "What kind of runner are you? Were you born to run a fast 5K, a strong marathon, or something in between? Here's how to find out- and how to realize your full potential." Actually not a bad article, but I don't know what I was born to run. No one has told me. The article sounds like you are supposed to choose by January first and then stick with it. What if you change your mind? Do you have to wait until the 2010 issue to see what to do?

28 Tips to Lose Weight, Get Inspired, Achieve Any Goal Why did they stop at 28? Have you ever wondered who comes up with these numbers? I would have done better with maybe 10. But could I have used 40? Who knows.

No Time to Train? 20-Minute Workouts If I don't have any time to train, where am I going to find 20 minutes? For some people they might as well have said 60 minutes or maybe 5.

Beginners, Feel Good on Every Run So does that mean that if I am not a beginner I can't feel good on every run. I'd like to meet a beginner that felt good on every run. I'd like to meet anyone that felt good on every run!

A Better Way To Breathe OK, now they've got me scared. There's another way?

Do You Tie Your Shoes Wrong? Well, no, I think that I am doing ok. I've been doing it for a long time and no one has told me that I am doing it wrong. I knew there was something I missed that day I was absent in Kindergarten!

Why We Need Running Partners Not being an early morning runner, if I run in the early hours, I really do need a running partner to help me find my way back home. Not quite awake!

Cut Calories, Boost Nutrition- Holiday Meal Makeovers How many people are really going to read this article before February?

On a more serious note. While it is fun to make a little fun at these Runner's World cover headlines, the articles that follow in the magazine are very well written and contain some high quality suggestions that I know will work to a certain extent for all of us. The January 2009 issue does contain excellent information in a very usable format. Easy to pick up and put into practice.

However, my favorite is the one on the cover of Adventure Magazine each month right underneath the magazine name: Dream It, Plan It, Do It. All kidding aside, that's got some power! Have a Happy New Year, and may 2009 hold all the best for you!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Running Journals

I received a running journal as a gift for Christmas. As I opened it, I realized just what I had in front of me. It was to become the "year in review" for 2009. Today the journal is empty. But what possibilities exist for each page! I can't wait to write down each and every training run, cross training session, rest day, or whatever I choose to write about. The running journal takes on a life of its own. Every step that I will take in 2009 will be recorded there for me to look back on and see just what I accomplished and the races that I ran in as well as the gear that I wore each day.

There are so many ways to keep a running journal. There are the written ones like I just got, the computerized program journals, and the journals that are a part of a Garmin or other brand of wrist technology. Whatever the type, the possibilities for analysis are endless. Overwhelming to some, just right for others. The flow of information is only limited by the one putting in the data. No matter if you are a 5K runner or an ultra-marathoner, I think that it is extremely important to keep track of what you do each day. It is also important to keep track of how you felt about your training and what changes you might make. It's difficult to do that if you can't look back at something and see how your run went a few weeks ago or months ago. So what am I going to put in my journal?

Well, here is a list of things that I will try and keep up with:
* Date and Time of training run
* Weather conditions for the day
* Distance for that day's training run (I will also fill out the week in advance so I can see what is coming up.)
* What gear I used that day and how I felt about how it performed
* Where I ran
* If it was a race, how I did and comments about race strategies that I used.
* Who I ran with, if not by myself
* Enter into the journal when I started wearing a new pair of shoes so I can keep track of the mileage. (Also keep track of my two pairs of shoes wear rotation.)
* Weekly and Monthly mile totals
* General comments about how I felt that day

So there you have it. Some ideas about what to write in your running journal. I am sure if you are writing in one you have many ideas too. These work for me. If you don't have one I would suggest you start one just to see the things that you have accomplished. You will be amazed at what you can do!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dallas White Rock Marathon

Just got back from running the Dallas White Rock Marathon on December 14th. What a great experience it was! It is a fantastic marathon. Great course and the volunteers were amazing. It was great to have Andy, Larry, and Joel there to run with.

Race day started out with a 4:00AM wake-up. Then we made our way into Dallas for the 8:00AM start. Parking can be an issue as it was for many this year who had to run to the start from vehicles that they had to leave due to traffic backups. It was really important to get there early to get into the lots. At 7:00AM I hosted an FCA Team Endurance meeting that was well attended by many individuals and we had a very meaningful devotion time to start our day. The confetti start is one of the best in the country. We had higher than usual temperatures and a strong wind to contend with the entire race. Larry Barthlow (Elite Runner Coordinator) was quoted in the Dallas Morning News as saying that his coach stated that "for every mile per hour in your face, it's minus 1.5 seconds [per mile]". Winning times according to the newspaper were 2:22:07 by Noah Serem of Kenya and 2:37:14 by Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia. The winning times were the slowest since 2002 and 2006 for the men and women respectively. There were 6,360 marathoners, 7,000 half-marathoners, and 3,000 marathon relay runners. I also had a chance to visit with Barefoot Rick, a fantastic runner with many accomplishments.

A very special thanks to Sheri, Larry's wife, for the great photography. Below in the next two pictures, Andy and I are finishing the marathon together. (3:48:58) Andy did a great job (a marathon PR) and it was incredible to run with him!



Below, Larry is showing his great finishers medal and is happy that we had such a nice day to run the race! Larry is a fantastic runner, a great friend, and bakes a medal winning apple pie!


My apologies to Joel. At Blog time, I didn't have a picture to put in. Hopefully, I will get one soon.

For the most part, the race was well run. Registration and packet pick-up were very well organized as were the expo booths. I was interested at why some of the major shoe brands were not represented at the expo. It was really strange not to see them at a major U.S. marathon. I will always be curious at why a Sleep Number bed company was there instead of a running gear company. The expo did have a very good small display for those interested in cycling.

The race volunteers were some of the best I have ever seen. At the aid stations, there were always plenty of people to help and they were really into the race day with enthusiasm. The course was challenging but fair although the wind did make itself known quite well as we rounded White Rock Lake. Not the organizers fault though. The marathon has a great finish at the American Airlines Center. The crowd was large and very supportive. However two areas that race officials can improve on would be the after race food and also there was no designated meeting place for runners and their families as was advertised in race material. This caused lots of confusion.

But you know, when you have a great race, can be around great friends, enjoy outstanding weather, and be able to start your day with FCA Team Endurance, it doesn't get much better than that! I encourage all of you interested in running a marathon in Texas to sign up next year for the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Meanwhile Andy, Larry and I are looking forward to our next marathons: the Chevron Houston Marathon in January and the Austin Marathon in February.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gobbler Grind Marathon/ Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

November 23, 2008. Race Day. Yesterday I ran the Gobbler Grind Marathon in Overland Park, Ks. The alarm went off at 5:00AM to begin the day. Our daughter Kelsey had made signs for me wishing me good luck as she always does (Her signs are outstanding!). Breakfast included probably the worst oatmeal I have ever made on a race day. My combination of oatmeal, soy milk, and protein ended up looking a lot like modeling clay. Pressed for time, I ate it anyway. Usually I make a pretty good bowl of oatmeal, but over the past few days that has not been the case. I arrived at the race around 7:00 on this cold November morning ready to run with a goal of running under 4 hours for the race. Race day preparation and routines are very important to me and include a good pre-race plan that is timed down to the starting time of the race. This day was no exception. After a couple of porta-potty stops and then stretching 30 minutes before the race, I was ready to go.

The race was run on a great course that included some residential streets but mostly running/biking paths. The surfaces were fantastic and the route was well-planned and challenging. The course included some challenging hills and some great footbridge crossings. The weather constantly improved temperature wise. The day was just about perfect for race day. A big thanks to the race director and all of the fantastic volunteers that helped at the aid stations. They did a great job! I wish that the volunteers at a race really understood how much their work at races is appreciated. There were several times on the course where volunteers directed runners as far as which path to take according to what race (marathon, half-marathon, and 5K) they had entered.

It was just one of those days. Everything felt great. I didn't get the best positioning in the starting pack. I was a little too far back. I didn't do a very good job of getting where I wanted to be. The race started and I quickly made my way out of the starting group of runners and was glad when things thinned out. As I approached the halfway point I was at 1:51:02. At that point, I knew I had a chance at running my goal time of under 4 hours. I decided to really let go, relax, and go for it. The last half of the race was run in 1:49. I was really happy with a negative split.

As I crossed the finish line, my watch read 3:40:02. I had just run my third fastest marathon. Once again, my Hammer Nutrition products (Heed, Perpetuem, and the Hammer Bar) provided the fuel needed to run well. I really didn't think about Boston at that point but my wife, Berta, mentioned the possibility that I might have qualified again. A quick call to Andy to meet him for lunch and a request for him to get on the the Boston Marathon website to check out what time I needed to qualify, led to the fantastic news that I had again qualified for Boston. I had run an 8:24 per mile pace and finished 2nd in my age group. Upon arriving home, I found the driveway full of sidewalk chalk congratulations that Kelsey had done for me. Yes, as the message said on the driveway, we are going to Boston again. It was a great day!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Running Thoughtfully

Running quotes have always been a favorite of mine. Stan Jensen's website run100s.com has a great section of running quotes that are serious and also will make you laugh. His website is full of great runner information that is very useful and is very easy to navigate. The quotes part of his website has really given me some things to think about the past few weeks as I prepare for my next marathon this Sunday. His site has helped me form new strategies on how to prepare for my next level of running over the next one or two years. Those goals include running a 50 mile and a 100 mile race. I know. Crazy as it might seem, the challenge is out there. The quotes that I have listed below are some that caught my eyes as I thought about things on my runs. My marathon and ultra-marathon goals will take careful planning and thought. If I stick one of these in my pocket on some dark winter evening, maybe it will give my feet a little extra bounce for the run. Enjoy!

"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal" Luis Escobar

"I decided to go for a little run." Forrest Gump

"If you see a fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra

"We'll tell you when to start and we'll tell you when to stop. In between, don't think, just keep running." Ken Chlouber

"If I can see it, I can run to it." Randi Bromka Young

"The 10K is a race. The marathon is an experience. The ultra is an adventure." Bryan Hacker

"If we do what we did yesterday, we'll be OK.  If we do something new
we'll be competitive. If we are always looking for new and innovative
ways of doing things then we will be the best."
- Unknown
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Runner's Toes/ This One Hurt!

Let's just get this laugh out of the way right now. Those of you that want to laugh can, others that can show sympathy please do. Most of you who know me, know that coordination is not my main strength. So when coordination is a priority, look out. I'm in trouble.

This morning as I was preparing for my run of 14 miles, I was getting my running gear together and had to get something from the closet. As I exited the closet, my left foot didn't. I raked the door across my left foot with most of the blow coming to my little toe. Now, to say the next sounds you hear would have startled the neighborhood would be a bit of a tale. But it did bring my wife up to the area with a question that we all love to hear, "Are you ok?".

With the wild look of pain in my eyes and near hyperventilation coming on, I quietly uttered the words, "My toe! It really hurts!" Then the question of, "What happened?" Too proud to tell exactly what happened and knowing that my son Andy was coming over to run in just a few minutes, I said, "Oh nothing." Then I just walked around until the pain went down to about a "2" as they say. I then realized that I had to put this darling little now swollen toe into my shoe. The pain was intense. But then I crossed that runner's threshold and either it just got numb, or I did. I quickly walked around and did my pre-run stretching and thought that I would be able to somehow run today. I wasn't going to tell Andy. No way. I wanted to have a great run without him worrying about "the Toe". In an amazing turn of events, by the time he got there and it was time to run things felt pretty good. No need to tell the story now I thought. Time to run! We had a great run and I really had no pain at all. At least I didn't think so.

After he left, I thought it was about time to check the toe and see how it was. When I took off the shoe things appeared to be normal. But when I took off the sock, there looking up at me was a little toe twice the size that it had been when I got up this morning. It had all the colors of the NBC peacock, looking much like a boxer that had lost a fight. It was a mess. So I did what most of us would do. Applied ice. Well, the swelling went down and now it still as all the colors but is about half as swollen as it was and doesn't hurt all that much. My wife looked down at my "ultra' feet and said, "Your poor toes!" Yep, they're mine all right. Several missing toenails, a black nail that is soon to vacate its home I'm sure, and a host of other sad looking nails of various sizes, shapes and colors. Before you laugh too hard, take off your shoes and socks and look at your own toes. Not a pretty sight is it? Just call them runner's toes and and be glad your kid doesn't take you for sharing time at school!

By the way. Changing the subject. One of my favorite magazines is UltraRunning which I read while toesitting today. They have a great group of writers and great race reviews. It is a comprehensive magazine that makes you want to sign up for every race you read about. Articles are very well written and provide very good insight into the world of ultras.

Check your toes, and remember....

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Marathon2Marathon Pictures

Marathon sunrise and a beautiful start. Here are some pictures of the Marathon2Marathon Race that Andy, Larry, and I did on October 18th in Marathon, Texas. It was a great trip and a great marathon to run. I highly recommend it for your race calendar next year. The people of Marathon were fantastic and the volunteers did an outstanding job. Wow, what an experience!























Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!











Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Trail Race

What an incredible experience! The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K race in Madison, Wisconsin was amazing. I ran it last Saturday (October 25th) along with Andy and Brett. After a 9 hour car ride, I was ready to run. The course was in the Kettle Moraine Forrest about an hour east of Madison. It was one of the most beautiful settings for a trail run that I have ever seen. It seemed that around every turn or up every hill, the course changed and it was even better than the miles we had just covered. It had rained the night before so there were spots on the course where there was standing water. We also ran through and over some mud, deep sand, rocks, small chunks of wood, small bridges, meadows, and along single track paths. The course ratings that were provided by the race website were very accurate in terms of elevation change, technical terrain, overall difficulty, and scenery. The race organizers did a very good job preparing us for what was to come. The course markings were excellent, the aid stations were very well organized with friendly people and plenty of food. The race organizers were ready to make the 31 miles as good as it could get.

Race day started off with my wake-up call about three hours before race time. I had granola with soy milk and added some Hammer Whey Protein. I then mixed my first hand-held bottle for the race with Hammer Heed. I was very happy with the way my Hammer Nutrition Products fueled me for the race. I had already pre-packed small one serving plastic bottles of Hammer Heed and Hammer Perpetuem to refill my hand-held bottle along the way along with my Hammer Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue Caps. I had a small waist pouch to carry them in. I was ready to go! I also packed my drop bag which I would have placed at mile 22 so I could restock what I needed in terms of supplements and race gear. The plan that I had worked out for all of this took a lot of time but worked very well and was a key factor in my success of the race. I was happy with my running strategy for the race as well. I had good strength and energy all the way through to the finish of the race. I actually almost took out a volunteer trying to put my medal on due to my surging finish with Andy. We finished the race with a negative split which is always a goal for me to try to get.

It was great to run with Andy and Brett others form the North Face stores. It was a great group. We all worked together to make it a team effort and many times as we encountered other runners along the way and talked to them, we realized just how awesome it was to be out on this fantastic course and with such great weather and surroundings. North Face provide great items in the packet for the runners. Each runner got a technical shirt, stocking cap, and a pair of socks. Very nice!

Post race time was spent trying to keep warm, enjoying a fantastic hot food buffet, and telling stories about the race to anyone that would listen. I followed up the meal with a Hammer Recoverite shake and then a late dinner with Andy and Brett. It was a great day! Andy and I had run a marathon the week before in Texas and here we were having just finished an ultra-marathon in Wisconsin a week later. It was time to celebrate our accomplishments.

It's recovery week now. Time to run a few miles and let the body gain strength and repair. Up next for Andy and me is the second part of the Texas Quad marathons on December 14th. The Wellstone Dallas White Rock Marathon .

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Marathon2Marathon Race Report

This past weekend (Oct.18th).........Who would have thought that when I signed up for the Marathon2Marathon race in Marathon, Texas that it would be so incredible? What a fantastic experience and one of the best kept secrets of all of the marathons in this part of the country. The organization of the race was outstanding. The volunteers were hard working and dedicated to making the race a huge success. Andy, Larry and I were all excited to start the first race of our Texas Quad of marathons. We were not disappointed at all. The number of participants was small in terms of some of the larger marathons around the country but that just made the experience all the more positive. Volunteers that worked the aid stations were very friendly and helpful and the stations were well stocked and easy to get to. The pasta dinner the night before the race was put on by several volunteers and was excellent. The post-race party was an outdoor event under the stars. I didn't realize that the stars could be so beautiful. They were so clear and bright.

The race course was challenging but also a thing of beauty. The race started just outside of Alpine, Texas and followed a straight line (other than one curve in the road) back to Marathon. It was run on a highway between the two cities. We, of course, ran on the shoulder of the road. You could see for miles at a time. It was amazing to have such views of the surrounding area. Running with mountains all around you as you are running in the lower elevations was something that I will remember for a long time. The course had several rolling hills with a "where did this come from" hill at mile 22. As you finish the race, you can see the finish line for miles and hear the sounds of the crowd waiting to cheer you through the finish. The people in the town really supported this race. They made you feel so welcome. The weather was fantastic. It was cool to start the race and warmed up as the morning went on. There is something very special about starting a race and watching the sunrise. It was spectacular!

We stayed at the Gage Hotel which was incredible! The food at the Gage was amazing! There is so much to do in the surrounding area that you could stay for a week and still need to come back for more. It is truly a runner's paradise.

A special thanks to Berta and Sheri who crewed the race for us. They did an outstanding job of keeping us going as well as helping other participants too. Their support was very much appreciated! I was very happy with the Hammer Nutrition Products that I always use. They were fantastic! My Brooks Infiniti's felt great the entire way and provided great support!

Many stories and memories were created and I'm sure will follow soon in this blog. The lady on roller blades that until mile 15 or so Larry and I couldn't figure out how she kept showing up coming down the road at us over and over again. The man that kept going to the "green porta-cans" until at one of the last ones he said he was sorry he had to catch up with us but the door was stuck. More on these adventures at a later date as well as race pictures. Larry and I had a great time running together and I am blessed to have such a great friend to run with at these marathons. Congrats to my son Andy who finished in 9th place overall with a sub 4 hour marathon! It is an incredible blessing to be able to do these marathons with him. What a day!

I can't wait to go back next year. You should check it out and reserve the October date for a great marathon. Pictures of the race this year will be posted soon.

This weekend (Oct.25th), Andy and I journey up to Madison, Wisconsin to run a 50K in The North Face Endurance Challenge. We will be joined by running group partner Brett. It will be an exciting time!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Running for the Future

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to an elementary school track club. Two or three times a week they gather before school to run/walk a distance that is determined by the individuals in charge, usually between 1 and 2 miles with parent sponsors along also. The third through sixth graders really look forward to their morning sessions and are very proud to be in the track club. I was asked to speak to them and tell them a little about how I started running, what it's like to run in a race, how I train, nutrition ideas, and stretching.

They listened very carefully as I described how I got started running and why I liked running so much. As I told them that I started out walking and running just like they are doing (but as an adult) and then progressed up to running different distances, it was clear that they were very interested in learning more and more. They wanted to know what it was like to run a marathon and an ultra-marathon. It was fun to tell them a few stories about the races that I had run.

However, the most exciting part of the morning was that there were 60-70 kids exercising on a regular basis and enjoying being with their friends and parents. As I talked to them it was clear to me that they were the future of running. Right there in front of me were the future walkers and runners that would perhaps enter races as middle school, high school, college, and adult participants. Whether it be for recreation or competition, they were going to be the foundation. It was so exciting being a small part of what they are doing.

Dean Karnazes has an organization call Karno Kids that raises dollars to support improving health and wellness of our youth. His website talks about how we all can become active in his quest of "No Child Left Inside". It's amazing what is going on in our communities.

As the morning ended I asked the kids if they knew what a standing ovation was. They mentioned that it could be something that was real good, something that you enjoyed, something special, and other phrases. Then I told them that the morning was not about me, but about them. It was about them getting up early to come to school and to care about their health and wellness. It was about them coming to be with their friends and parents and to walk/run on a beautiful October morning. It was about them being the future of running. I asked them to stand-up and give themselves a standing ovation. They did. The gym roared with excitement!

As I stood there watching them leave the gym and then joining in with them, I realized that sometime down the road they might think back to that October morning where some guy that ran crazy distances gave them an idea that they too could dream. And make it come true!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Marathons Here We Come and an Ultra too!



Some James Taylor for you to listen to while you read the blog below.

I am so glad that October is here! Marathon2Marathon in Marathon,TX. on October 18th and The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K on October 25th in Madison, WI. are just around the corner. I am excited to run them both. It will be an experience to run a marathon and an ultra on back-to-back weekends. My son Andy will be joining me to do both of the races and our very good friend Larry will be running with us at Marathon2Marathon. It has been said that Larry and I are long lost brothers that have found each other after many years. I am convinced that this is true. It is a blessing to get to run with him! For Andy, Larry and me these marathons start a series of races that begin in October and finish in February. We will also all be doing the Wellstone's White Rock Dallas Marathon in December, the Chevron Houston Marathon in January, and the Austin Marathon in February. Looks like a Texas Quad to me!

The super feet of our running group will be well represented at The North Face Challenge as Brett joins us and at Dallas where Joel joins us. It will be incredible to run with them! They are both outstanding runners and dedicated running buddies. We are all looking forward to a great time at some awesome marathons on some fantastic courses.

Running multiple marathons in a row like this will require good race strategies, good nutrition, and an excellent training plan. It will also be fun just to accomplish the goals that we set a year ago in Dallas. The conversation in the restaurant brought smiles to our faces. Our brows narrowed at the thought of such an adventure. But there it was on the table. The challenge of the Texas Quad. Could we really get all of this planned? Was it as crazy as it sounded? The answer to all of the questions was yes. So here we go! Texas and Wisconsin, here we come!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Marathon Long Run Training: Long and Steady, Surges, Fast-Finish, Marathon Race Pace, and Pace Changes

In the October issue of Running Times, an article by Greg McMillan, M.S. on marathon training discussed 5 strategies to use with your long runs. I really liked how he presented a plan that prepared your mind and body for the different specialized long runs that you would do in your 16 week training program. Each strategy prepares you for a different type of pace for your marathon training.

The Long and Steady training run is a run of 2 to 3 1/2 hours at an easy but steady pace. This strategy works on the build up of endurance of the distance for future long runs in your training starting with 20 miles and moving up to 26 miles. The Long Run with Surges, your goal is that on every other long run, you put in "surges" (running fast bursts) every 10 minutes. These surges can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 12 minutes. This will provide a faster than average change of pace during the long run. Surges are similar to fartleks. Fast-Finish Long Runs mean that you finish the last few miles (I would recommend the last 2-4 miles) fast. You would be on marathon goal pace and then run the last 10-20 minutes of your long run as fast as you can. You are basically going to empty your tank. The Long Run at Marathon Race Pace is designed to practice your marathon race pace during your long run. An example would be for you to have a run of 20 miles and run the middle 12 miles at marathon race pace. The final strategy presented is the Pace-Change Long Run. You need to practice changing your pace during the race by doing these pace-change training runs. Very seldom do you run a race at the same pace. This might be due to weather conditions, crowded field of runners, or how you generally felt that day. You might need to "change gears" due to terrain or race tactics. If your marathon goal pace is 9:00 per mile on a 20 miler, then your pace change during the middle 8 miles would be between 8:45 pace and 9:45 pace. You would alternate between these two paces. This would work for any pace that you might want to run.

(Your marathon race pace is a minutes per mile time that you have set as a goal to determine your finishing time)

The article has a great chart that shows how many of the long run strategies you should do. During a 16 week training program, it is suggested that you should do 4 Long, Steady Runs; 4 Long Runs with Surges; 3 Fast-Finish Long Runs; 2 Long Runs at Marathon Pace; and 2 long runs with pace changes. After trying several of these during training for my upcoming 4 marathons and two ultra-marathons, I have been very happy with the results. It has been a good plan and a good challenge. Give it a try. It is a great way to get "fast" and also break-up your normal training routine.

Reading to consider:
Run to the Top by Arthur Lydiard and Garth Gilmore
Speed with Endurance by Bill Squires and Bruce Lehane
Paul Tergat-Running to the Limit by Jurg Wirz
Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Runner Stopped by Police...Well Almost

Today on my long run I thought it had finally happened. I thought I was going to be stopped by the police. Not for speeding mind you, but for standing in the middle median while waiting to cross a very busy street on my route. Not a good decision on my part. The police car went by me, slowed down and then went on. Not sure whether I was going to be stopped, I continued on as if nothing had happened. Yes, I did make it across the street. But I did have the feeling the the car was lurking behind me the rest of the way waiting for me to make another bad runner decision. As I ran, I contemplated what I was going to say if the car came back and actually stopped me. So here goes:

(Flashing lights and siren blaring. I run to over to the curb and stop.)

Officer: "May I see your license and registration?"
Me: "Sure." Handing them my last gel and rag I use to wipe sweat.
Officer: "Do you know how fast you were going?"
Me: "I'm sure it wasn't too fast, I'm on a long run today and working on a medium pace."
Officer: "Did you say median pace?"
Me: "No, medium."
Officer: "Well, you were standing in the median in a very busy intersection. Do you know how dangerous that is?"
Me: "Actually I do this every week. Sometimes more than once."
Officer: "So you repeat this action on a regular basis?"
Me: "Yes. You see I run marathons. Do you happen to have any bread in the car? I am really needing some carbs." (Now I am starting to do some stretching because I am getting tight.)
Officer: "No we don't carry bread as a rule."
Me: "Ok, then can I have my gel back?"
Officer: "No, we are going to have to test it to see if there's something in it making you make bad decisions."
Me: "That won't be necessary, it's just carbs and protein."
Officer: "You runners are all alike. No regard for safety. Just run and run and run. Did you even look as you were trying to cross?"
Me: " Yes, but I did feel a few wind gusts from the cars as they went by." (More stretching)
Officer: "I am going to have to ask you to come sit in the car."
Me: "You don't understand. If I do that, I will lose all of my mental focus, get tight, cool off, wreck havoc on my running goal for the day, and that's not good."
Officer: "I'm sorry, we are going to need to check some things out before we let you go."
(Several minutes pass by.)
Officer: "We have also found out that you run with a group on the weekends. Is that true?"
Me: "Yes, it's a great group of runners!"
Officer: "Well, we're going to have to take you downtown. This is far too serious. Add the running group factor to this and we just can't let it go."
Me: "You don't understand."
Officer: "You'll get one phone call. I hope somebody in your group will come bail you out."
Me: "All of this because I crossed in the wrong place?"
Officer: Yes, crossing like you did is just not safe."
Me: "Say, on our way downtown, can we stop for bread? I need carbs!"

Tip for the day. Be safe and watch where you cross. Someone may be watching you!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Great Sunday Long Run

What more can you ask for in a long training run? Great running group. Great temperatures. Great stories, jokes, and other discussions. Nothing escapes this group as far as what can possibility be discussed. It doesn't get much better than it was Sunday. Our Sunday group was ready to go today. My son Andy, Brett, Joel, Casey, and Maria and I started out on a windy crisp day for a long training run. Our Sunday group is really awesome because anyone that comes can really just pick a distance that they want to accomplish that day and go for it. Some of the group members are training for upcoming races at a variety of distances and others are out for the great time of being out with the group. Distance really isn't a factor. Today's goals were from 5-20 miles. Some of the group ran a 10K race yesterday and I ran my second long run of the weekend. It just all works out. Today's run went fast. It seems like when you run in a group the miles go by so much quicker. I am really impressed with everyone in the group. They are all excellent runners and have a determination to accomplish what they set out to do that day. I have the greatest amount of respect for all of them as they find their distance for the day, go for it, and are supported by the group to reach their goal. They are amazing! It seems that the group communication as far as pace goes is always great and there are times we do push each other to reach for a faster pace and also give encouragement as we travel up a "fun" incline.

Of course there are other important factors that make our group training runs a success. That would be my wife Berta who meets us at several stops along the way to support us with a buffet of running nutrition possibilities. It's really amazing that she gives up many Saturday's and Sunday's to help us out or if the group is not running she follows me to help me on my solo training runs. Hydration and nutrition are just not a "worry" factor because she is there to help us out. If one of the group chooses to stop at a certain distance she shuttles them back to our house where we started and then hurries back to meet us again at the next stop. We are all truly blessed to have someone so dedicated to helping us out!

As I train for upcoming races, I am thankful to have the opportunity to run with such a great group of runners. It was a blast this morning, thanks everyone!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Marathon/Ultra Pace Groups

Also in October's issue of Runner's World is a great article on Pace Groups. The article titled, Party at My Pace, is an excellent account of the benefit of planning a pace strategy and having help maintaining it whether you are new to marathons or have run several. It's a good read. Remember only 1% of the population has completed this distance. What an accomplishment. To get there however, you need to use all available strategies. Pace Groups (groups that run together to reach the finish at a certain goal time) are one of those strategies that I highly recommend.

The article by John Hanc gives the following statistics: 30% of marathon participants run in a pace group, the 4:00 pace group tends to be the largest with 3:10 being the smallest, 38 is the median years of age of participants of the groups, and 69% have completed one or more marathons. These statistics are based on Clif Bar's Pace Team in 10 marathons.

There are however options. I like to put Pace Groups into three categories. A sponsored pace group like Clif Bar, a group that you form on your own probably a small or large group of running buddies, and solo with a pace band or watch.

The sponsored pace groups are really great. They are led by experienced runners that will virtually guarantee the finish time that you sign up for. During some of my early marathons I ran with several pace groups from Clif Bar and reached my goal time without any problem. They are entertaining and also release you from having to know exactly what pace you are running at a given point. They really make the race go fast.

My favorite pace group is running with my running buddies. We can all have the pace bands on and help each other along the way because we know what each other needs in a variety of situations. That has been the most fantastic experience of my running marathons and ultras. I treasure the time I have run with groups of friends from a group of 2 to 10. The support is extremely valuable as well as challenging. I think you are in more control of the situation if you run with your buddies. I have great memories of running with "the group" in several races and anticipate more great times in the marathons and ultras that I have scheduled coming up soon. Of course not everyone is as lucky to have a group of friends travel to marathons and ultras with them. So there is another option.

Running solo, is another option, with a pace band provided by online sources, expo sponsors, or a Garmin or other product is also a choice to keep you on pace. Many individuals choose this option and do very well. It all depends on what you are looking for in your race strategy.

There are some things to do and not do in a pace group as mentioned in the article. Don't arrive at the race late and attempt to find your pace group. If you are depending on running with them and can't find them this can be very upsetting at the start of your race. Don't expect the group to cater to your needs. Some of these groups at the large marathons will have quite a few people in them and they aren't going to stop for you if have do the restroom thing...but don't panic about that, slowly try and catch up to the group. They all carry signs and balloons and/or wear recognizable clothes. Don't run ahead of your pace group. "If you want to lead the pack, leave the pack". It can be very frustrating to the other runners if you are trying to prove your super strength. Do make sure you are in the right pace group with a time that is a reasonable goal for you. Do take clues from the other runners in your pace group and learn from their strategies and needs. Also, do give the pace group leader space. It does no good to be the "teacher's pet" in this case.

So there you have it. Three options for pace groups for you upcoming marathons and ultras. Pick one or come up with your own. Remember, your race strategy is important to your success!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Running Recipes/ Let the Drooling Begin

Today's edition of Runner's World online (Nutrition and Weight Loss Section article click on Fresh Thinking) and the current magazine print edition for October (Fresh Thinking, pp.65-73) have some fantastic recipes that are the favorites of several famous runners. As I looked at the recipes, drooling, I thought that if I had to drool everyone else should too. Often times, many runners think that they can't get creative with what they eat and still maintain the training value needed for optimum performance. The recipes that these four individuals tell about show that you can be creative and enjoy what actually comes out on the table from your efforts.

There are four categories: The Locavore (Carrie Tollefson- 1500-meter Olympian) "The locavore movement aims to capture that flavor difference and promote sustainable, community-based agriculture by favoring "low-mileage" foods over ones that have traveled long distances to arrive at your plate." Carrie's recipes include Beef Fajitas and also a Fresh Market Stew. The Omnivore (Nick Symmonds- 800-meter Olympian) "At the core of the omnivore's philosophy is this fact: As long as you don't overindulge, no food is off-limits. That means foods some might consider forbidden, such as red meat, cheese, and butter, are part of the omnivore's diet--in moderation." Nick's recipes include Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Sausage and also Fresh Fried Trout. The Vegetarian (Scott Jurek- Ultrarunning Phenom) "When it comes to being a vegetarian, there are few hard and fast rules. Some eat no animal products at all, while others may eat dairy, eggs, or fish. Regardless of where you draw the line, a vegetarian diet can provide healthy fuel for running." Scott's recipes include Sweet Potatoes with Garlicky Greens and a Blueberry Protein Shake. The Foodie (Deena Kastor- Marathon Olympian) "In the world of the foodie, eating is an experience to be savored--from selecting top-notch ingredients to cooking the meal to relishing each bite." Deena's favorites include Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza and another one is Grilled Vegetable Polenta Casserole.

There is quite a bit of information in this article. Wow! Great stuff. What category do you fit best? Try some of these and see how you like them. Yes, you do have time!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Support of a Different Kind

We have talked about how important it is to support others in their running and cycling efforts many times. Over the next few days many people in the Gulf Coast area will face challenges that many of us will never experience. As you all are aware I'm sure, Hurricane Gustav has set it's sights on a region of the United States that was devastated just a few years ago. Evacuation orders are becoming a reality in the area and thousands of people are wondering just what will happen this time. How bad will it be? We can hope that it will lose some of its intensity and not hit the region so hard. The hurricane has already caused severe damage and loss of lives in its path in other areas.

As you go out the next few days on your roads and trails, whether you are running, riding, or walking, take a few minutes to send your thoughts and prayers of strength to the people of that region. Run one for them!

Forward we go! May your roads and Trails be happy and safe!

Helen Gold Run/Walk 10K and 5K- Overland Park, KS

Start off your fall racing schedule with a great race that is in the Kansas City area. The 2008 Helen Gold Run/Walk this year will have a 10K and a 5K. It will be September 13th starting at the Fountains Shopping Center in Overland Park, KS. You can register at helengold5K.com or active.com. The races start at 8:00AM. This race is the largest contributor to Parkinson's Disease research in the Kansas City area. Race Director Bradley Brooks says," We offer a variety of participation levels because we want each person to feel uniquely inspired and empowered to combat this disease. We encourage everyone to choose the run or walk that's right for them to help us ultimately find a cure for Parkinson's". Have fun and enjoy the race!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Run for the Hills

I know what the experts say about hill workouts or hill repeats as they are called. Most training plans call for a runner to find a hill of a certain grade and run up and down a number of times in a certain amount of time. Tried that. Results were not great. Didn't really see the benefits after I tried several published strategies. Progress was minimal.

Here are some of my thoughts. How many race courses use the same hill over and over? So why do you practice running hill repeats up and down the same hill? If you are running a marathon they don't reroute you back to the same hill like a hill repeat. That's like a ride at Disney World. You can just do it over and over. Same ride, same hill. It's like putting in your bathtub. How much variation is there with that one? It's like throwing a Frisbee into the wind over and over and wondering why you don't get better at it. It's like hitting one of those paddle ball things with the ball on the end of a rubberband. How good can it get?

For the past two months, I have been running two different training courses ( 6 and 9 miles) with several major and/or rolling hills throughout the routes that are of different grades and surfaces. Each hill has its own characteristic. No I haven't named them. Yet. To me, this simulates a true race course. One with a variety of challenges so that I can practice different strategies for the training run that day. I can reverse the courses and make the run harder due to the change in grades. I could on a given day run one twice. The benefits are already starting to show. I am using different muscles all of the time instead of the same ones doing hill repeats. I am running the courses faster each time and feel much more confident about upcoming race courses that will challenge me in the hill department. I am able to really reach out and develop good strides before the next hill. Good cross training which includes weight training helps a great deal too.

I know what the experts say, but.....See what you think. If you are running hill repeats, give what I have said here a try. See if you don't feel like it makes you more "race ready". We all find our strengths in different ways. We also have to try new ideas. So run for the hills. Work hard, but have fun!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will You Be On the Podium?

After several nights of watching the Olympics, it's obvious that getting to the medal podium is what most athletes strive for as a goal. Getting a gold, silver, or bronze medal is what it's all about right? Well, for an elite few yes. But for the rest of us, not really.

I think we all need to construct a podium in our backyards or rooftops. That way when we finish a great run or ride we can jump up on the podium, raise our hands up high, listen to the music, smile for the cameras, and bask in the glory if for only a few moments.

What makes the two groups the same? Goals.

The medal winners and many elite athletes set goals. Both for competition and training. The rest of us need to also. Whether it's training or racing, goals need to be set. What types of goals can you challenge yourself with? In running, it might be a setting a particular time for the entire distance that day. It might be that you ran a long run for endurance or a tempo run at the pace you set as a goal. It might be that you wanted to run a distance that you had never run before. In cycling, it could be that you want to climb a tough hill. You might also want to ride a distance that you have never accomplished before. It could be that you are riding with a group that you really want to stick with and not get dropped. It could be just to have fun. Whatever the situation, a goal needs to be set each time we step out the door.

So the next time you step out the door or when you set up your training plan for the week, set goals that you can work towards. Put your best effort into them. Accomplish what you set out to do. Then when you get home, get up on the podium and celebrate! If you listen real hard, you'll be able to hear me cheering for you.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ultraman Dean Karnazes

I attended the one night showing of Dean Karnazes' movie 50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days last Thursday. It was outstanding! My first thoughts are that I hope that it does come out on DVD soon because I would like to watch it over and over again. Also, many people who could not attend that night missed an opportunity to see an elite runner really bring marathon and ultra-marathon running experiences to life through a very realistic lens.

Dean's goals were to raise awareness for youth obesity and to get America active. The movie captured the incredible journey that actually did take him to all 50 states. To run a marathon in all 50 states and also involve individuals of all ages in that in that journey was very meaningful. Many individuals joined Dean during all or some parts of each of the marathons and some even met up with him more than once. Some ran a few miles and some ran the entire marathon distance with Dean. Their comments were both thought provoking and sometimes humorous. In between the clips of each marathon were short segments of Dean running and talking about many things involving running. The movie also showed how much his family supports what he does and how important that is to him. There were several clips that illustrated how his family has contributed to much of his success. It was great to just hear him talk about so many things and how he got to where he is today and why.

It goes without saying that Dean pushes the limits of human endurance. But as I watched school children cheer him on and sometimes run with him and adults of all ages and abilities running with him it was very easy to see how he has inspired so many people over the past few years to start running. Thousands of people joined him across the country. It united people of all ages and abilities to "take the next step".

A lasting memory for me was one morning shortly after the New York City Marathon, the 50th, Dean headed down the hotel elevator in his running clothes, with a credit card and his cell phone back out into the early morning buzz of New York City to start the trek back where it all started with that first marathon. He said that he needed to "clear his head". To understand a runner. To understand running. One has to understand the training, the passion and the dedication.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Support and Encouragement...You Never Know Where It Might Come From

There are times when the little things in running become the biggest. People supporting your running and giving you encouragement is one of those things. Sometimes they don't realize it, but their words of encouragement and show of support will probably send you on your way to a great run or race that day. Such was the case for me yesterday.

My running schedule is such that I always run about the same time each day. Those times change during different times of the year, but I am very predictable (Those who know me are getting a kick out of that statement.) as far as a training routine goes. I have a set time to run and usually it doesn't vary much from day to day. Yesterday was no exception. You see, on Thursday's we have our residential trash collection and about the time I leave to run, the city truck comes by our house to pick up the trash for the week. A few months ago, the guys on the truck started asking me questions about running and how far I ran and how often and things like that. They were really interested in what I was doing but I could tell they were also thinking that there was a little bit of crazy in the guy they met each Thursday that took off running. But each Thursday that has passed this summer, we have always ended up meeting about the same time and our running discussions have grown from just a few questions to really talking about what's up next on the race schedule and how far was I going that particular day. Always later in my run I see them and they all wave and honk the horn on the truck just to say hi. Names? No we haven't gotten that far yet. We are just curbside friends.

Yesterday, I left a little early and thinking that I had missed them I was a little down. I actually looked forward to seeing them and talking to them each Thursday. As I walked down the street to start my run, there was no Thursday "HI!", no words of encouragement on this hot morning, no questions about why was I running so many miles that day. An empty start to my run.

Then there it was. From about a block and a half away. I could hear the truck. One of the guys yelled at the top of his lungs, "Hey buddy, have a good run today!", and with that the horn on the truck blasted louder than I had ever heard it. Probably woke up half of the neighborhood. It absolutely gave me chills. I waved to them, yelled back to them, and began my run feeling on top of the world and off for a great training run that day. I wondered if they really knew how much it meant to me. Next Thursday, I will wait and make sure that we meet and tell them thanks for the words of encouragement and support. I hope I can do something for them soon.

Support and encouragement. The little things are really big things.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ultra Race-Lunar Trek Run in Scandia, KS

It's 10:00pm on July 18th. For most runners awaiting their next race it would be time to start thinking about going to bed to get ready for the race the next day. Wrong! I was about to leave the motel with my son Andy to GO to the start of the race and start the Lunar Trek Ultra Run in Scandia, KS. The race was designed to benefit the Pike Valley High School Cross Country Team. There were several race distances that you could enter: 10K, 10 miles, 20 miles, 31 miles, or 40.4 miles.

The race starting time was 11:00pm and Andy and I were running a 50K (31 miles). There was a full moon that night after a day before that produced 1-2 inches of rain on the course. The full moon was intentional. The rain and mud the day before were not. But on this race night, the skies were partly cloudy, wind was calm, insects were ready, and the temperature was great. Berta had the support vehicle packed to the roof with all of the essentials that we would need for the night of running. All systems go! It was interesting convincing the body that it was about to embark on an adventure in the middle of the night that would take it down country roads for 31 miles. Andy and I did our best to prepare. We were all packed with the reflective supplies that were had to have. A vest and blinking red light along with our headlamps. We carried our hand-held bottles with our Hammer Nutrition products that included Perpetuem and Heed. I even sported new headgear for the first time. Thought it would help the headlamp rub. It did. Maybe a new look for me now.

We checked in with the race directors. What a tremendous job they did getting the race organized and supported with some of the best aid stations I have ever been to at a race. Many people gave up their entire night to staff the aid stations and make sure we had everything that we needed. They were always very supportive and willing to help us in any way. They did an awesome job. A very big thank you to them for all of the work that they put into the evening. We also met up with a great group of runners from Kansas City, The Kansas City Trail Nerds. What a fantastic group of runners! Below you will see a group picture of us before the start of the race.

It was great to be able to run with many of them and others from around the state during parts of the race. Having never run a race during the night, it was always fun and comforting to see a headlamp or red blinking light coming or going along the way on the out and back course. One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make was that it was just plain dark the whole way. I know, what did I expect in the middle of the night. But it was REAL dark out there on the roads. The full moon helped but it was still just about as dark as dark can get. It made for interesting running. The majority of the course was fantastic as far as the surface was concerned. Soft roads with small gravel. There were, however, challenging sections of mud and ruts in the roads that would suck the shoes right off your feet. I must say though that Andy and I did very well. I was really happy with the way we worked as a team to help each other out and to have great conversations along the way.

An extremely important part of running an ultra event is to be well-fueled and hydrated. Below, you will see the support vehicle that Berta used to keep us going throughout the race. She worked hard to have things ready as we approached and to also make instant changes in case we wanted to get off our plans that we had made and have something different.

I was very happy with the Hammer Nutrition products that I used. They again provided the essential nutrition that I needed to run a good endurance race. I still am impressed with Hammer's support for us as runners. My nutritional preparation included a bowl of granola with raisins, 2 scoops of soy protein, and soy milk three hours before the race. One and a half hours before the race I also took Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps, and Anti-Fatigue Caps. Right before the race I had a partial bottle of Heed. Along the way about every hour or so I also added in Anti-Fatigue caps and Endurolytes. Prior to a race I organize all of the things that I will need, bag them up and label them to make sure I keep on schedule with what I need to have.
Somewhere along the road, Andy and I stopped long enough to get a picture. It was still dark. It was so great to be able to do this ultra with Andy. It was his first and it was great to be a part of it with him. He and I have run many races together at many distances, but this one was one of the best ever. He did a fantastic job we were able to give each other support along the way that was very important! The conversations never really came to any earth shattering conclusions but it was just good to be able to talk and discuss race strategies and other things. It seemed as though we ran at a faster pace the closer we got to the finish of the race. We felt really good except for a few ankle rolls that I did in some of the ruts, but I bounced back and kept the pace.

We finished strong and we were glad to have accomplished the completion of a great ultra.

After the race it's always good to find a place to stretch. This one happened to be reserved for me. I had just finished my Recoverite drink and needed some stretching time as the sun was starting to come up. What a night! It was just incredible. Again, a special thanks to all of those in Scandia, KS that helped make this race a fantastic experience. I am already looking forward to it for next year and might even stretch my goal to the 40 mile race.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Great Summer Reads

Just finished a couple of books that I think many people would be interested in for their summer reading time or just to add to a gift list for the future. The first book, which was a Father's Day gift from my son Andy is titled, We Might As Well Win, by Johan Bruyneel. Bruyneel, the winningest team leader in cycling history, was the mastermind behind the success of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victories. He knows what it takes to win and throughout the book there are examples that can be applied to all sports, business in general, and life on a day-to-day basis. The whole book gives stirring examples of life on the Tour and what it took to win and how strategies, planning, studying the opponent, out thinking others, and giving maximum effort can be a tremendous factor in success at the highest level. It is a recipe for life. His innovative leadership style is catching and motivating. I found many times that I could just not put the book down because so much was happening that applied to many things that I do. It is fantastic!

The other book, Running Through The Wall, Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison is a collection of absolutely amazing stories from ultrarunners about their experiences in ultra running. To quote the back cover, " This book is a great inspiration not only to current ultrarunners, and to marathoners looking for the next challenge- but also to runners of all abilities, who will see that there is nothing you can't do if you have the desire.". The book gives an inside look at what makes ultrarunners tick, training required, their desire to explore their own personal limits and beyond. It lets you see what it's like to run ultras from beginners to experienced runners . The stories are informational, entertaining, and just flat out amazing. Their personal accounts of the races they ran can serve as a learning point for all interested in testing the ultra distances. Stories that deal with fatigue, blisters, nausea, and despair are countered with stories of hope, love, healing, self-discovery, friendship, selflessness, and triumph. As a new ultrarunner myself, the book gives me a foundation for building on my future races and training. Also, the advice from the experiences that these runners have had is priceless. Another "can't put it down book"!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Recovery and Rehab- Naturally

In the July issue of Runner's World, there is an informative article in the Mind and Body section titled Natural Cures. The question is raised, "Can alternative remedies offer runners a better route to pain relief?". I have often looked for the best way to treat a variety of aches and pains amid all of the recommendations of the experts in the field in a variety of online and print publications. So many opinions and so many treatments. Some contradict each other. Others just don't have common sense as a part of the solution. With that said, I read this article with great interest since I would rather go the "natural" route for treatment of aches and pains. Ultra-marathon champion Scott Jurek offered some good comments on an injury that he had and I thought it would be good to share his viewpoint and on a philosophy that I am increasingly buying into.

Jurek states that "Homeopathic therapies allow me to access my body's healing potential," Jurek says. " Alternative medicine aims to resolve imbalances and solve the problem rather than just relieve the symptoms." That's where I buy in. Too many times we take the approach of treating the symptoms and don't consider the bigger picture of trying to solve the problem. Jurek goes on to say, " Alternative therapies tend to place a greater focus on the biomechanics, nutrition, and alignment, details that can solve runners' problems". I like that. (It is mentioned also, that "for pain that is severe or chronic, see a medical doctor".)

The article suggests five therapies that we as runners should try. The article gives you information on what the promise of the treatment is, the science, and who should try it. The five areas are : acupuncture, sports massage, imagery, herbal remedies, and chiropractic treatment. After just having gone to the chiropractor today for an alignment check after a trail race, I have a strong belief that we should establish a team of support. I am lucky enough to have found some great people to help me out. I couldn't get along without them. I have a great chiropractor, massage therapist, personal trainer, and nutrition specialist. They keep me going. I appreciate their understanding of the running goals that I have and also the ability to keep my training plans in focus with future races. Sometimes it's not possible for everyone to put together a team like that. I am always open to readers submitting questions that they might have through the comment section of this blog and I'll reply back to you. If I can't answer your question, I will find someone on my team that can.

The next time and ache or pain strikes, please consider solving the problem instead of just relieving the symptoms.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Psycho Psummer Trail Run: KC Trail Nerds


Andy and I ran the Psycho Psummer Trail Run on July 5th. It was a great 15 mile trail run. The Kansas City Trail Nerds, lead by trail master Ben, organized and marked trails with outstanding expertise. Andy and I chose the 15 mile version although there was the option for the 50K and 5K. What an absolutely incredible experience! From the start, the organization was superb, all phases of the race were handled so well. It was just fun to be a part of it. Many thanks to Ben and his crew of volunteers for being on the trail, at the aid stations, before and after the race help, encouraging all of us throughout the race. You all are awesome!

Many of you know that most of my racing experiences have been on the firm ground of the "road". This was my second trail race, the first being a short 2.79 race a couple of weeks ago. This one was for real! The trail was very challenging for me as a rookie and I am sure for those that had run it before. The area had received 3-4 inches of rain a few days before so many parts of the trail were ankle deep in mud. I was introduced to the suction of mud and the swallowing of shoes. Yes, I was introduced to getting dirty during a race for the first time. Mud was everywhere. As if that wasn't enough, I crawled over, under, and sometimes through logs across the trail. Hopped roots and rocks, slid down steep drops and back up the inclines. Oh yeah, and that low hanging tree that my head didn't see. The closest that I had come to such in route challenges on the road was a banana peel or an old hot dog from a Kwik shop and a few hills here and there. So this was new for me. But I loved it. At first, my concentration and brain power was on overload trying to figure out how to survive this new adventure. Then I loosened up a bit figuring you just can't outwit a trail. Then the fun began. You know, that was one of the major lessons I learned from this race. Lighten up! Wow! What an adventure!

I can't thank Andy enough for showing me the ropes (or the mud baths), as he said, "Dad just watch my feet". Turned out to be a good coaching strategy as I watched his every step, well not all the time, to learn this new form of runner craziness. He is a great trail runner! Trail running is so different than road racing. I am having to really rethink strategies, pacing, equipment, and not going into the "zone" that so many times I have done in road races. Reaction time is crucial, one mistake and it's face plant city.

And so it is, the day after the trail race and I ran 15 miles on the road and felt like it was a walk in the park compared to the day before. I have so much respect for trail running, even more now than before. The people are fantastic and are very willing to help each other and even help a rookie trail runner. I look forward to future trail races of even greater distances and other courses. Speaking of that, Andy and I next run the Lunar Trek 31 mile Ultra in two weeks. Looking forward to that!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Peak Running Performance Publication Online- Outstanding!

Just got the latest issue of Peak Running Performance's online publication. It is packed with great information as usual and should be a bookmark for all interested runners at all levels. This issue is devoted mainly to the upcoming Olympics and has some excellent sections by some great authors that will challenge your thinking and your opinions about several issues at hand right now. You can access the July/August 2008 Peak Running Performance Issue by clicking on this link. Articles this month are: How Do You Perceive the Olympic Games, The 2008 Pollution Games?, The Making of a Champion, The Quest for Bronze, You Ask...Steve Answers, and 26 and Change.

I really liked the Training Strategy section titled The Making of a Champion, by Alberto Salazar, 1982 Boston Marathon Winner. I made a mental note of the many things that I need to work on to get better each day and also Salazar brings up important things to use to build your foundation for training. Salazar includes a list of "defining characteristics of the physiological and psychological makings of a champion". Now before you say that this article doesn't apply to you. Stop! Each day you go out and put one foot in front of the other and cover whatever distance you do, YOU ARE A CHAMPION! This stuff is for you! The characteristics that Salazar writes about are as follows: strength, power, flexibility, speed, endurance, economy, resilience, toughness, tenacity, dedication, competitiveness, courageousness, and spiritual.

Please take the time to sit down and read Salazar's article. It will inspire you and also challenge you as I said. The rest of the publication has incredible amounts of great information that can have an impact what you are doing too. Remember, YOU ARE A CHAMPION! Enjoy the reading!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Shoes. Wow!

The UPS truck rolled up to my house the other day and screeched to a halt as they always do. In it, were my two new pairs of Brooks Infiniti's. (Well, I'm sure there were other things in the truck as well.) There is nothing quite like getting new shoes to run in I don't think. Often they replace shoes that are near and dear to us and have logged their share of miles through all kinds of weather, races, and training. Not to say that we didn't appreciate all that they did for us, but it's time for the new ones to take over. With great anticipation, I opened the box and knew in a minute that these were the fast ones that Brooks sent me. Of course! The new shoe smell and the inside the shoe junk that always comes with them were all there waiting for me to take in. I just stopped and held them. I thought about all of the possibilities that they held. They smelled like a new car. I always order two pairs at a time so that I can rotate them daily especially on those double training days. Naturally, when I wore them for the first time the bounce was incredible. I felt that I was running on clouds. They felt fast! They felt fantastic! Yeah, there's nothing like a new pair of shoes.

Take a look at the Runner's World Summer 2008 Shoe Guide online. Click on Shoes & Gear to get to the shoe guide. Also, take a look at your current shoes and make sure that they are ok. It might be time for you to get to have the UPS truck screech to a halt in front of your house and deliver that new shoe smell to you.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

The Western States Endurance Run

News from out west is not good for one of the most incredible ultra races in the world. The Western States Endurance Run (100 miles) was canceled yesterday due to the many fires that are hitting that region of the country. There were a reported 840 wildfires statewide, 312 in Northern California, and 3,200 lightning strikes in Tahoe National Forest alone on June 21st. It was to be run June 28-29.

From the website some bits of information: "The Western States Endurance Run is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging."

Participants were notified of the event cancellation with the following message:

"
Dear Western States Runners,

It is with deep regret that we announce today that the 35th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run has been canceled, due to the unprecedented amount of wildfires that have struck northern California in recent days and the health risks that have been associated with these wildfires. The Board of Trustees of the Western States Endurance Run has consulted with many of our local and state race partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, in coming to this decision. We apologize to our runners for any inconvenience this decision has created."

Some background about the race: "The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn."

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are involved in fighting these fires (The true heroes!) as well as the participants that trained for many long hours to get to the level they needed to be at to run in such a challenging event.

Please check my friend Jean's blog Farther Faster for more details and pictures. He is an accomplished ultra runner and was preparing to run in this race.

I will still close this blog with what I always say in hopes that all will be well.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Vasque Summer Intro Trail 5K Run


Had a great time today running the Vasque Summer Intro Trail 5K Race in Kansas City organized by the Kansas City Trail Nerds. They set up a fantastic course and worked very hard to get it ready for this first race. It was no small task. Great job! I am really looking forward to the next race on July 5th which will be a 15 mile race. Here are some pictures of the race.


It was nice to get off of the roads and run on the soft turf. That's one of the things that I like about the trails. Jumping over logs is much better than curbs!


Headed for the finish. It was a downhill all the way at this point. Could hear the crowd roar. Not really, just kidding.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weather Or Not To Race

Last weekend the Ironman Kansas was held in Lawrence, Kansas. The 70.3 mile race involving swimming (1.2 miles), cycling (56 miles), and running (13.1 miles) was a great success. Participants had wonderful things to say about the volunteers, the community, the course, and the overall organization. I am sure there were other comments that were not as positive as there are in every race. However the real issue at hand is that weather played a factor in cutting short the event during the running portion of the race. Many participants did not finish the full course and the course was shut down due to rain and lightning. Newspaper reports (Lawrence Journal World) stated that 60% of the field had finished before the race was stopped. In this world class event, what do you do when the weather is a threat? Many participants were not happy that the race was stopped. Others stated that they had a good day and would come back to Kansas again. (No I won't play the Wizard of Oz card here)

As a race director, it is their job to insure the safety of all involved. Participants, volunteers, and spectators. Is it fair to cancel an event because of weather? No! Is it the right thing to do? That's where you get the most discussion. Many of us would rather run in any type of weather and look danger in the eye and say "Let's go". In my training runs, it takes everything I have to get off the road when bad weather strikes. Eventually I come around and give in. Do I like it? No! Is it the right thing to do? More discussion. Look back to the bumbling decision making of the race director of the 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Due to the heat, the race was canceled midway during the race. Debate still surges on about that call. I was personally caught in the middle of that one along with my son and several of our running group friends. These are two different stories and circumstances.

The Ironman Kansas could not control the storm danger that it faced and in my opinion made the right decision by stopping the race. It was a severe storm that could have very bad implications for all those involved. It is just too dangerous to be outside in Kansas (or anywhere else) during a severe storm. However, the Chicago decision to stop the race in October 2007 due to the heat will always be debated. Lack of preparation and proper stocking of aid stations for all participants not just the elite was a major factor in the cause of why it was stopped. Some people had no problems with the heat. But there were many people that had heat related problems. Medical attention was sought. It is always difficult to tell how your body is going to react to heat or cold on any given day. Race officials did not have a plan to facilitate the onslaught of the heat that they knew was coming a week before the race. The Ironman Kansas officials had about an hour to see that the storm that was fast approaching was going to have an impact on their event. They did what they had to do. Protect those involved. Yes, disappointment will always remain about the shortened distance. But one thought remains, at least there were no deaths or weather related injuries.

Solutions? I am sure if people got together and really thought about it, there would be a way to resume a race after a rain delay. Other sports have figured it out, why not these? Would it make sense to develop a system if during the last part of the race that has been canceled, a team of volunteers is sent out to warn participants and give them a flag or marker to mark where they are so that after the storm passes they can go back out to that point and resume the race? Would that be fair? Are there problems with that concept? Sure to both of those questions. It could be a no win situation. Race directors need to protect those involved. Is it our decision as participants? No! We lost our sense about things like that a long time ago.

Forward we go! May you roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doubling Report

I wanted to take a moment to report on how the doubling runs were going this week. As promised, I will let you know how I am doing with this concept posted earlier. This week, my running schedule starts with a morning run and cross training in the afternoon on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and then on Tuesday and Thursday I start with a longer morning run followed by a shorter run in the afternoon. On Tuesday I did a Tempo run and on Thursday I did a Fartlek run in the morning. Then in the afternoon an easy run. On Saturday, plans call for my long run of the week followed by a shorter run on Sunday.

I really like the concept of doubling and getting additional miles in for the week. I have to say though, there are two very important factors. First. Stretch! It is very important to stretch before your runs and after each run. Then repeat the process for the afternoon session. Also, a few minutes of stretching during the day will help too. Second. Hydrate! It is important to hydrate on regular days, but with doubling it is even more important. Especially this time of year. Both stretching and hydrating have had a significant impact on the success of the week's training. It will be a 60+ mile week. I'll let you know in a few days how things are going for the next week.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

People Running To It, Not From It

Last Saturday night I had the opportunity to attend an incredible concert event. It was an evening with the Barclay Martin Ensemble. As runners, we support many efforts around the world, in our own country, and our own communities, that benefit others. We are often asked why we run. Often times, we have no quick answers. But so many times the races we support are for very worthwhile organization. I imagine there were a few runners in the crowd last Saturday night but my focus is on the fact that a few individuals had a vision. A start and a finish line. They went after a goal to help others in need and it was wildly successful. Not only was it a great concert, but it was also a very meaningful cause.

Now a little history of where this is all going. My son Andy (founder of Interwoven Threads), who has run a number of races with me and several on his own, and his friend Barclay Martin got together and had the vision and action plan for the evening. The HALO Foundation was the focus of the night. That night, $1 from each CD sold as well as $5 from each Barclay Martin Ensemble and Interwoven Threads T-shirt was donated to the HALO Foundation to fully fund the purchase of beds and bedding for 20 at-risk Ugandan girls in need of residence at the HALO Orphanage in Kampala. Present Magazine also was one of the event sponsors. The goal for the evening was $1,000. It is safe to say that they met their goal. It was fantastic!

I encourage you to visit each website and see the incredible things they are doing for the world around them. It was truly a moment in time where a group of individuals "ran" towards helping others.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!