Friday, April 25, 2008

A Great Run...But Wait, There's More

Yesterday I had one of those runs that I wish I could box up and keep for one of those days when I feel sluggish and like I am pulling the weight of the world behind me. You know what I mean. The run was fast, smooth, everything felt good. Weather was ok. I had good strength and power. It was really one of those days that you wish you had the nerve to yell out, "Look at me, I'm having a fantastic run". But you don't because of what people might think. I was so excited that, well, I did yell out. No one could hear me because of the traffic, so I was safe. It felt good! But wait, there was more.

As I walked back to my house during my cool down, I noticed that just about every tree that I saw was blooming. New leaves were all over the trees. Flowers were breaking through the winter ground with a burst of energy. The yards were starting to turn green. Kids were playing outside. People were out working in their yards. It had all happened so fast, so smooth, so powerful. The flowers were stretching with new strength racing to get the best look at the sun. It was as if they were yelling out to give notice that they were up and ready for the new season.

However, unlike when I yelled out about my fantastic run and nobody heard me. These signs of spring yelled out, and I listened and heard. Then I stopped, looked up and said, "Thank You! What a great run!".

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

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pictures from the Brew to Brew Ultra-Marathon

In my first post about the Brew to Brew race, I mentioned the great group of friends that I had run with me during the entire race. Many thanks to all of them! Here, some of "The Group" waits before the race.

Just before the start of the race. It was great to have my son Andy to run with during the race! Andy would run several parts of the race and eventually run the distance of a full marathon. The Brooks Infiniti jacket was a great addition to my race gear.

Just after the start of the race.

Stretching. Thanks Randall! Randall is my personal trainer. He really got me ready through many sessions of work on stretching and strength training. It was very important to stretch during the race during the re-fueling stops. I had a great set of stretches to do. Used them most of the time, but there were stops that I just ate and ran.

Hammer Time. Thanks again Berta for all of your help! The hand-held bottle thing was new for me. What an adventure that was. It was sure great to have it between stops!

Here I am with Andy at the finish. What can I say, I was really happy about accomplishing my goal of running the race under 9 hours.

Just finished the race and was getting this really cool hand-made clay medal. We had great weather here at the finish after a mixture of everything during the race.

Talking to Berta here telling her that I was already planning my next ultra. I don't think she was surprised. Felt really good after the race.

The race was a fantastic experience. Many great memories. Can't wait to do another ultra!

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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Puddle Game

I have always been a firm believer in training in all kinds of weather. The reason for that belief is that you really never know what type of weather you might encounter for a race. Usually, running in all types of weather pays off. If you have been training in the wind and rain, you will run a better race if those conditions meet you on race day. If you have been training in cold weather, then a cold weather race will be something that your body say, "Ok, I know how to do this let's go!". I really believe that you should take on whatever weather comes along. That is with the exception of lightning. Stop, find shelter.

But that's not where I am really going with all of this. Yesterday, it rained. Yes, I ran. Yes, there were puddles in the streets. I was on the sidewalk most of the time during my run so I was avoiding the major collections of water. Then it started. It seems as though runner+puddle= great time for drivers/cars. It might be my imagination, but I was sure that drivers were finding great sport in seeing just how wet they could get me. I could hear them coming up behind me, gritting their teeth, almost aiming for that puddle that would totally soak the runner on the sidewalk. They were very successful. It isn't the first time. It has happened many times.

So I have decided to start assigning points to the splash. If they want to play games, I can too. Ok, here goes. Car vs. Runner. The car gets 5 points if the splash hits just the shoe area. 10 points if the car gets sock and ankle area. 20 points anything else waist down. Full body soak and the car gets 50 points. There, that works well. So yesterday, after a brief 6 mile run, I was soaked from the waist down. It didn't happen all at once. Of course I kept score. Then I realized that I had no way to get any points. Not good! So, I need to develop a plan of attack.
Any suggestions?

Coming soon to this blog, Car vs. Runner: Runner gets points!

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

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"To infinity, and beyond"

Buzz Lightyear, in the movie Toy Story, said, "To infinity, and beyond". That's exactly how I felt wearing my Brook's Infiniti shoes during the ultra-marathon that I ran last weekend. The Infiniti is the latest in Brook's line of Guidance category shoes. Brook's provides the following description of the shoe: "Roll out the red carpet for the Infiniti. Plush meets performance in this new shoe, with stacked MoGo in the forefoot for a cushy toe-off and just the right amount of guided stability to curtail mild overpronation. Don’t let its good looks fool you—this rising star is ready for serious mileage". The shoe really met all of my expectations and then some. The feel and support were amazing! It was a very important part of the success of my race. Of all the pieces of equipment that we runners buy, I can't stress enough the importance of a good shoe! Take care of the feet first. Fashion later. Too many runners are wearing shoes that need to be replaced. Depending on the miles you put in on your training, regular shoe rotation (yes, I firmly believe you should buy two pairs of shoes at a time) should be in your plans. I know cost is a factor. I do believe that dollars invested in shoes will be very well spent in terms of how you feel about running and how well your body feels about running. Brook's offers many options in men's and women's footwear. Take a look at what they have to offer. As with any shoe, please go to a qualified person to help you find the right shoe that meets your needs. It will save you in the long run. No pun intended.

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

Tapering/ Recovery Training

Ok. So I have to admit I don't do the taper thing very well in preparation for a marathon or an ultra-marathon. I do it, but it's not without protest. As I trained for the ultra that I just completed, those thoughts were even more strong. Why run less? Don't they know what I am about to do. Run less, rest more? Wait a minute. Tapering is a term that means during the last two to three weeks of your race training plan, you cut down the miles and add in a few more rest opportunities. I have read several quotes and articles in Runner's World and other running magazines that encourage and highly recommend putting a taper into the final weeks of your training plan. This quote from the Runner's World website says it in a very plain way: "So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they're desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don't," says Patti Finke, who coaches 250 marathoners a year as co-director of the Portland (Oregon) Marathon Clinic. "What they don't realize is that in those last few weeks it's the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don't lose fitness in 3 weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn't change at all." So yes, I did taper before my ultra and like I have in past marathon training plans. And yes, it worked again. I should not fight the concept but embrace and welcome the opportunity to enjoy the weeks leading up to a race. I am still learning. But I encourage you to do the same. Remember, it works!

Recovery training is another area that I always have wanted to rush. Usually, I do. Hal Higdon has several great training plans for a variety of distances and advocates that you take several weeks after a race to let your body heal and to increase your miles back on your next training plan at a pace that allows you to recover well. There are several training plans and thoughts on this subject too. Some people take less time to recover than others. That will always be the case. Everyone is different and should find a training plan that fits their needs. The point here is to take some recovery time after a race. There are exceptions to all of these plans. Some people will react better to taking the concept of "recovery" to mean taking a few days off and then start preparing for the next race. Remember, not everyone fits the same mold. If that is what works for you, then go for it. Higdon calls a recovery training plan a "reverse taper".

Ok, one of the exceptions to what I have just said about tapering and recovery is that during the months from October to February, I will (along with my son Andy and our friend Larry) run four marathons in those months. We will run in the Marathon2Marathon (October), The Wellstone's Dallas White Rock Marathon (December), The Chevron Houston Marathon (January), and the AT&T Austin Marathon (February). Yes, I know. Where is the taper? Where is the recovery? Well, my running friends, I already have a plan. As the races get close, I will let you know the training plans and how they are going. But for now, remember to have a taper plan and a recovery plan in place. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. It helps to be a little bit crazy sometimes doesn't it?

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

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ultra Experience

Sunday April 6, 2008... Brew to Brew is Finally Here
3:00AM- Alarm goes off. Start getting ready (follow race day list)
4:00AM- Leave Lawrence, eat oatmeal mixed with apples and soy milk and drive to start
5:00AM- Arrive at Brew to Brew start. Drink pre-race drink of Hammer's Heed
5:20AM- Start stretching workout, meet up with "The Group", eat Hammer Bar
6:00AM- Get on bus for short ride to the starting point.
6:15 AM- The adventure begins

Yesterday was my first Ultra-Marathon. I completed the Brew to Brew race from Kansas City to Lawrence in 8:54:43. It was one of the most unbelievable running experiences that I have ever had. I say that for several reasons. It was just awesome! The race featured a 3 foot wall to climb over at our pre-dawn start, levee rocks the size of small boulders, mud, sand, gravel roads with chunks of rocks as big as golf balls, wind, a rain shower, sunshine, and clouds. I loved every minute of it! It was by far the biggest running challenge that I had ever trained for. I had three goals for the race: (1) Finish, (2) Have Fun, and (3) Maintain pace. All goals were accomplished. My training plan was effective and well thought out. My race day strategies worked very well. It was a good day!

There are other reasons the day went so well. For one thing, Berta had everything all organized for me as far as food and all of my Hammer Nutrition products. Special thanks to our daughter Kelsey for her Finish Line tape that I got to break through coming down the stairs to start the day. Kelsey and Berta's great signs. Kelsey has made the best signs you can ever imagine for all of my races. They really inspire me! The support of "The Group". I had someone running with me the entire way. They were supporting me, keeping me on pace, telling great stories, and taking good care of me the entire route. Many thanks to all of you for helping me out. Some of the members of the group ran many more miles (10,14,20 miles) than they expected. I will always remember all that you did! Thank you Andy and Caroline for all of the organizing. Andy and I have shared the road many times from 5K's to Marathons. We have helped each other through many training and racing situations where we really needed each other for support. This race was no exception. As Andy ran (26 miles total-marathon distance- including the last three legs of the race with me), we approached the final leg and I realized that I had a chance to finish under 9 hours. I mentioned it to Andy and off we went on the final 4.7 miles at an increased pace that was amazing. I had a sudden surge of energy and felt really strong. Legs were strong and the body was ready to go for it. He paced me with expert technique and as we pushed to the finish I knew we would make it. We did! 8:54:43. What a day!

Again, thanks to all of you who helped me realize another running dream. You are all a big part of my running family and mean so much to me!

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

Hammer Nutrition Products Are Outstanding!

During my Brew to Brew Ultra-Marathon, I used several Hammer Nutrition Products that worked great for me. I am very impressed by the results. I wanted to share some thoughts with you about the ones that I am using for training and races. The sports drink that I am using now is called Heed. It is an excellent way to get good hydration and electrolyte balance for any length of run. I prefer the lemon lime flavor but there are several to choose from. I noticed right away that it just isn't as sweet as other sports drinks and that it really does a much better job compared to other sports drinks that I have used. Heed's "lactic acid buffering and antioxidant support" is well formulated. It makes a difference that you can feel! Another drink that I use is Perpetuem . It is designed for endurance training and racing but I use it regularly for runs over an hour as well as those long training runs. Wow! It's fantastic. I can really feel it kick in and provide maximum energy. Perpetuem is a great carbohydrate and soy protein blend that provides you with optimum fuel to meet your expectations. Add a packet of Hammer Gel to it and you really have a great combination. Hammer Bars have become a mainstay in my training run and racing nutrition plan. Hammer Bars are another great carbohydrate and protein option in a "solid food". They can be used before, during, or after a training run or race. They are a great addition to any nutrition fuel plan. During my training and also during the race I also used Endurolytes capsules as my electrolyte supplement providing me with essential minerals that I needed. I am very happy with the results

I encourage you to try some or all of the Hammer Nutrition products that I have talked about. They have really made a difference in my training and I really felt that they gave me the nutrition that I needed for my Ultra-Marathon yesterday. Let me know if you have any questions or what you think about these products when you give them a try.

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