22 November 2008

Who's that guy?

I have received a lot of funny looks when showing my old driver's license to people as the picture did not look like me. Nobody declined me anything, butI decided I should get a new one before voting earlier this month just in case. It seems almost obligatory to post "before and after" driver's license photos, so mine are included below. The before is from 2002, I was probably around 300. The after is 2008, at 180. The poor quality of the current photo isn't my fault, it's that bad on my license as well

My weight has been fluctuating up and down, a little more up than down, lately. Still at a weight I can live with but not as low as I'd like it to be. As I sit down and make fitness plans for the winter months losing some more weight is going to be part of that too. I want to run a lean and mean marathon next spring!

Now playing: KUNC (NPR Radio Stream)
via FoxyTunes

02 November 2008

sub-2 Hours!

I ran my first half marathon in 2:31:56, a pace of 11:35 seconds per mile, about 18 months ago. Not too long after that I decided I wanted to run a half marathon in less than 2 hours. At the time I had been running for 6 months and my speed had picked up tremendously, I had taken 2.5 minutes off my 5K pace in those 6 months so I figured it was just a matter of time and work, but a sub-2:00 half was going to happen sooner rather than later. Afterall, I had just started doing speedwork for the first time, minutes were just waiting to fall off my time. I was naive then.

I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. By the end of last year I ran a 2:15, and a 2:09 this past spring. As mid-summer approached I decided to target the Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon for my sub-2:00 race. I'll leave out the gory details of my training, but suffice it to say that some runs I had it, some I didn't. I was 75% sure I couldn't maintain the 9:09 pace needed to break 2:00 for 13.109 miles. But that 25% kept me working. Here's my race report.

Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon
Saturday 01 Nov 2008

It was a perfect day for a race. The temperature was around 50°F at the start, maybe 60°F by the end, the sun was shining, there was no wind. I was happy with my taper, my legs were feeling quite strong the previous several days, I beefed up on carbs the previous night, and stayed out of the kids Halloween candy (within reason ;-). Oh, and I was well hydrated as evidenced by 3 trips to the bathroom during the night Friday.

I ran with a guy from work and a lady he knows. The guy from work could have gone faster, but we both appreciated his running with us and we both set PRs today. It certainly helped me to have someone to run with the whole way - when solo it seems easier to give yourself permission to slow down a bit when the going gets tough. Today I just ran with the other two, hardly glancing at my pace on my GPS. I've run with Frank, the guy from work a few times these past few weeks and it was these runs that convinced me sub-2:00 was possible. They were some good tempo runs in the 6 mile range, all about the pace we ran today or bit faster. The thing about those runs is that I just got behind Frank and a couple other fast guys at work and held on, not paying attention to pace until we were done, then saying "wow, I didn't know I could run that fast". There really is something to be said about Seaweed's comments on giving yourself permission to run faster. Interestingly, a month ago I accpeted that sub-2:00 wasn't likely and would probably have to wait until April. I think this lack of pressure and the confidence from recent tempo runs allowed me to relax and run a good race.

I didn't run negative splits, so maybe could have run a tiny bit smarter, but I think I did pretty well. Miles 1-8 were all sub-9:00 miles, ranging from 8:40-8:59. Miles 9-13.1 I was slowing a bit, but not a ton. All but one of those were between 9:00 and 9:10. Mile 12 was the toughest at 9:20. My kick at the end was a gradual speed up of maybe 20 seconds a mile for the last 0.5 mile or so, in other words I didn't have a ton left at the end, I left it all on the course. It certainly is fun to be up in the middle of the pack during the race, a relatively new experience for me on races of this distance. I am used to being "lonely" the last 3 or 4 miles but there are a LOT of finishers in a half between 1:50 and 2:10. Finishing 153rd out of 297 finishers I can say I'm a mid-packer now.

This was my sixth half marathon, my finishing time of 1:56:40 is a PR. My previous half PR was 2:09 last April, though on a VERY hilly course and no taper. Think 600 ft of climb in the first 2 miles and a week after a 20 mile run. My first half was 2:31:56 in April '07, 18.5 months ago. That was a watershed day for me as it changed my outlook on myself, my weightloss, and my fitness. But that day I never dreamed that this time was possible. Who knows what the future holds. My buddy Frank was talking about taking up ultrarunning, in my oxygen deprived state at mile 8.5 I thought this was a good idea.

Now playing: Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
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12 October 2008

Worldwide Festival of Races

The Worldwide Festival of Races is the brainchild of SteveRunner, author of the Phedippidations. It's a virtual race, think globally, run locally. The race is run around this past weekend, as part of another organized race or on a course of your own design. The idea is just to run together as one global community. There were 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon options. The people behind the race describe it better than I, so click on the link above if you want more info.

On the Weight Watchers Guys on a Diet message board we organized a team of 25 runners. Some of us were experienced runners, many were running their first ever races at the distances they signed up for. I am quite proud of Team GoaD Racing as many of them completed a feat they did not think possible when I brought this concept to their attention last spring. Way to go, guys!

My "race" was really a training run for the Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon I am running on 2 November this year. I ran a 2:10:54, just about 2 minutes slower than my half marathon PR. I was happy with this time for 2 reasons, first I ran at a training intensity rather than a race intensity. And second I had tightness in my left Achilles at about mile 10. Against my runner instincts ;-) I slowed down for the last 2 miles by about 90 seconds a mile to give the Achilles a break. Through 11 miles I held a consistent 9:45 pace which would have been a PR for me, and is 15-30 seconds off my anticipated pace for the upcoming race.

Now playing: Runners Roundtable Podcast: Steve, Toni, Nigel, Nik, Dan & Zen Runner... - Episode 4: John Ellis and Matt the Dump Runner
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28 September 2008

Been Awhile

I realized I haven't posted anything here since the marathon. Not that I expect anyone to hang on any words here, but thought I should post an update. I've had a great summer, the highlight spending 9 consecutive days in a tent on vacation with my extended family in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks this summer.

On the running front I definitely backed off my mileage after the marathon. After posting 100+ mile months in April and May I logged 64 miles in June and only 29 in July. Though my running miles backed down, my cycling jumped way up. I cycled 75-100 miles a week during those months and have become quite interested in cycling. In August I started ramping up for a half marathon on 1 Nov and a trail race I ran a couple weeks ago so I'm back at around 70 miles per month now. I'm hoping to average 20/wk from here to the end of the year which will put me at 1000 miles for 2008 and give me a good base for a spring 2009 marathon, maybe the Colorado Marathon the first week of May.

I mentioned I ran a trail race a couple weeks ago, the Sombrero Trail Race in Estes Park. It was only 4.5 miles, but had lots of uphill in it. I beat my goal time by 4.5 minutes. I had a blast at the race (and finished in the top 20% of the field!) and more importantly thoroughly enjoyed trail running this summer. Next year I'd like to do a half or full marathon on the trail. It is truly a different experience than running on the road and something I'd like to do a lot of in the future. Maybe someday I'll be one of those ultrarunner nutjobs you read about!

On the weight front I've basically maintained my weight from marathon time. I've been down as much as 5-7 lbs from the marathon, but have been up a few at times too. I'd like to drop another 10-15 and hope to do so before my spring marathon.

On the Weight Watcher's front I have some exciting news. WW runs a contest each year called the "Inspiring Stories of the Year" contest. You submit an essay (or video recording) and it is judged mostly on the merit of how inspiring it is. I submitted the essay. Of 1500 entries I was one of 17 entries chosen to be a finalist! I won a Macy's gift card and am in the running for a grand prize which is a trip to NY for a photo shoot, a night out on the town, a feature on the WW website, etc. I'm not sure when we'll find out these results. I've included my essay below.

There is no finish line”

I turned the final corner and had 1.5 miles to go. Thoughts and emotions were racing through my mind. I remembered being 18 and fairly athletic. I remembered being 36 and unable to keep up with the guys on my softball team anymore. A concert where walking from the parking lot to the amphitheater took me so long I missed several songs from my favorite band. I remembered swollen legs and difficulty getting up off the couch.

I remembered being scared while walking into the local Weight Watchers center to learn how to lose weight for the first time in my life. I remembered being amazed at how low a healthy weight was. I remembered deciding I wanted to just be a “normal fat guy” instead of a “big fat guy”. I definitely remembered the first compliment I received after beginning to live healthier. I remembered thinking this was actually not too difficult. I remembered walking, then hiking, and then climbing mountains. I remembered realizing I was then a “normal fat guy” and also realizing that was no longer enough.

I remembered that I used to be outgoing, an extrovert. I remembered not realizing how much I had changed. I remembered the self confidence coming back, the extrovert in me peeking back out. I remembered my meeting leader and the friends I have at our WW meeting. I remember the friends I have on the Guys on a Diet message board and how they all wished me luck in this race. I remembered the man who told me I didn't look like I belonged at Weight Watchers on the day I first weighed below my goal weight. I remembered the wonderful celebration at my meeting the day I reached lifetime status. I remembered the easy stretches, and the hard stretches.

I remembered the first step I ran. The first 5K race. The first half marathon. I remembered the day I decided I would run a marathon. I remembered the long slow runs in the cold, wind, and snow. I remembered the short fast runs in the heat. I remembered never wavering in my resolve to run this race.

I then passed the 26 mile mark and snapped back to the present as I saw my wife and children up ahead. 285 yards and I'll have a medal around my neck. But I won't be finished. This is for life, there is no finish line.

04 June 2008

Steamboat Marathon

27th Steamboat Marathon
1 June 2008
Hahns Peak Village to Steamboat Springs, CO

Actual finish: 4:58:26
Anticipated finish: 4:35:00.

Overall 242 of 315
Men 155 of 184
M35-39 27 of 29

Hahn's Peak Village sits north of Steamboat Springs by just about 26 miles. It is at about 8200 feet in elevation, Steamboat Springs sits about about 6800 feet. Per my GPS the course had 2000 ft of descent and 600 feet of ascent.

About a week before the marathon I started getting serious butterflies. Not always, just off and on. They peaked the Friday before. The closest I've had to this was the morning of my first half marathon, but it was just that morning and nothing like this. I knew I would finish, knew I was as well trained as any beginner, but logic could not win this battle. Saturday night was better than most that week, probably a mix of having dinner with a buddy who also ran the race and our families and the accepted inevitability by then. But it really wasn't until I started running the race that the nerves completely left.

Riding the bus up was fun, lots of light conversation, some jokes about how brilliant the half marathon folk (lining up on the other side of the street) were, etc. Looking around on the bus everyone looked like a runner of some sort. Not all skinny elites, but everyone looked the part. It was cool to feel part of that group. Feel, heck I am part of that group!

The marathon course was beautiful. It ran down a river valley with only the last 1.5 miles being in town. There were mountain peaks in the distance still partially covered in snow, meadows full of wildflowers, the sounds of the river high from spring run off at times, and very little traffic.

The weather early on was perfect, about 55F at the start, no wind, sunny. I was expecting to be cold at the start, being early and being 1400 ft above the finish, so I knew it was going to be hot before it was all said and done. The first 6.5 miles of the marathon went by fast. I felt awesome, knew I was going a little faster than I wanted to (10:15 mile avg vs 10:30 goal), but I wasn't feeling it at all. My legs were still very fresh and I was having a great time. A net 778 ft down certainly helped!

During the second 6.5 miles I slowed partially because of some uphill sections and partially because I was starting to feel it in my legs some. Not terribly, but there was enough of the race left I didn't want to push too hard. This section saw my average pace drop by 30 seconds a mile to 10:44 over a net drop of 359 ft though there were some rolling hills in this section. I hit the half marathon with a split time of 2:20. A little off my anticipated pace which would have give a split of 2:18. At this point I was starting to feel a little fatigued. I was encouraged by the split time, but could tell my pace was slipping and thought a 4:35 finish was unlikely. I was still in very good spirits and still enjoying myself greatly.

The third quarter of the race was the toughest for me. Miles 14 to 18 specifically. My overall average pace dropped 15 seconds a mile over these 4 miles alone. Mentally I found these miles hard to keep going. It wasn't that I was physically unable to run at pace, I was having trouble mentally focusing on running at pace. When not fatigued it is easy to set a pace and run it almost on auto-pilot. Here I had to focus on running faster or I just slowed down to a 12-13 minute pace. It was about mile 18 that I realized that this is what they mean when they say the marathon is as much mental as physical. There will be more pushing the pace under fatigue conditions during my next training. At mile 18 I dropped my pace down to 11 minute miles or so and held them until the hills at mile 20. The third quarter of the race was a net 248 ft downhill. Overall I still felt good as I finished the leg running strong. Definitely tired, but I could sniff the end.

The last quarter of the race has some hills cruelly placed at miles 20-23. All together about 248 ft of climb. You get it all back in miles 23-26 for no net elevation change in this leg. After running great from miles 18-20 the hills were a rude awakening. I could hold a decent pace on the level, but uphill I could not, a 13 minute pace was all I could muster. At mile 23 I picked it up again and ran a sub-11 minute average for the last 3 miles. I had no kick at the end, but did run the last mile at a constant 10:13 pace for a relatively strong finish. It was 75F for last 1.5 hours I was on the course. It felt like 95F.

I thought I would be emotional at the end, afterall I have come a lot longer than 26.2 miles to get to this point. I had a few moments in the latter miles where I teared up briefly while reflecting, but that was it. Finishing was wierd, after running that long it just felt wierd to stop. It felt good, don't get me wrong, but I just kind of stood there at the end of the chute taking it all in. One of the volunteers even asked if I was OK, I guess because I had been standing there for awhile. With a big grin I told him everything was great. They say you never forget your first one. Of that I am sure.

I awoke on Monday the same guy. Still committed to living a healthy lifestyle, still got a little flab to lose, still love playing with my 2 girls, still like to run. But there was a little bit of pride stuck down inside me somewhere that wasn't there before. As I lost weight I became one of "the other half". Last Sunday I became one of what the other half aspires to be. One of the rumored 1% to ever run a marathon in their lifetime, one of the < 0.2% who will run one in 2008. Damn.

I'll definitely run another. This fall maybe. Sometime I'll run one in a bigger city just to see what the hub bub about, but I suspect I'll prefer the rural locations.

Pics: Up top is from about mile 6, down below is one from mile 18 and one at the finish.

Now playing Rush - Marathon

27 May 2008

Getting Nervous

This past Friday night I was kind of off-kilter, but wasn't sure why. About an hour later it hit me, I was starting to get nervous. It's only gotten more frequent since then. 26.2 miles, that's a long way to run. Rationally, logically I know I did enough training and know I should be as ready if not more ready than your average first timer. But emotionally I'm still nervous. There's nothing more I can do at this point either, so being nervous doesn't help anything. Hopefully logic wins out soon.

This past week was week 2 of the taper. I bought some clipless pedals and shoes for my bike and enjoyed several bike rides with them. I can tell I am going to really like them and suspect it will enhance my cycling strength. I also had a good tempo run, a 5K speedwork session, and a 10K race that I substituted in for my long run this week. The Bolder Boulder 10K is a huge race with around 50K participants. I believe it is the second largest 10K in the US. It's a fun race with tons of spectators, bands along the course, and a fun finish into the football stadium and 2/3 of the way around the track. I know a 10K race isn't exactly part of the standard taper, but it is fun, and it's a company tradition where I work so I'd never live it down if I skipped it. I didn't meet my goal time of 54:00, but the 55:38 I ran was still a PR (by 8:24)!

I don't know if I'll post again before the race or not. This week I'm hoping to relax, eat well, drink lots of water, do a couple 3 mile marathon pace runs, and skip all my cross training (no matter how much I'll want to ride my bike). And I think I'll dig out that book of marathon stories and re-read some of the stories in it.

Week 2: 13.2 miles, long run 10K race
Now playing: The Band - Ophelia
via FoxyTunes

18 May 2008

2 Weeks and counting

This marks the end of my first week of the taper. I went out and ran "only" 12.8 miles today. I averaged my anticipated marathon pace of 10:30 per mile and that included stopping to walk as I drank my watered down Gatorade and ate my fig newtons. I also ran the last half faster than the first, the last quarter the fastest of all four. It was a good run, and will be my last double digit run before the race. I originally planned 10 for next weekend but since the Bolder Boulder 10K is on Memorial Day I am going to use that as my long run next weekend. I'm looking forward to the Bolder Boulder. My company sponsors any employee who wants to run this race, we have 15 of us signed up this year in 3 teams. I am in considerably better shape this year than last and think I have a real shot of taking 10 minutes off my 1:04:02 time last year.

For the first time in 3 weeks I did not commute to work on my bike. I have put a self-imposed limit of 15 miles or less per ride, 2 times a week, during my taper. As much as I want to get out and do more I do not want to get sick or overdo it with only 2 weeks to go until the marathon. I did have some quality runs this week though with a good 5 mile tempo run and a speedwork session of 800s. After doing 1600s for most of my training the 800s felt REALLY short.

Week 3: 23.6 miles, 12.8 mile long run

Now playing: Blues Traveler - The Mountains Win Again
via FoxyTunes

13 May 2008


If you've only read the latest entries here you know I'm training for my first marathon, but may not know that this whole thing started with me walking into Weight Watchers to lose weight. 3 years and 2 months ago I started that. Today, 13 May 2008, I have achieved what Weight Watchers calls Lifetime Status. To do this I had to reach a goal weight, in my case set by my doctor, and then maintain that weight (or below) for six weeks. To me this means I don't have to pay Weight Watchers anymore! I don't believe in artificially setting a weight to stop at, but rather think that your body will tell you when it wants to stop. I'm still losing weight, so my body is not there yet. And I'm OK with that as I still have some flab to lose. There is no finish line.

My WW meeting leader is quite proud of me. I was her first member to ever lose 100 lbs, and her first to hit 150 lbs lost. She orchestrated quite the party at our meeting this week. There were noise makers, a cooler of (root) beer, and a few pictures of me around. The weekly topic was about exercise, so most of the meeting was a discussion between her and I. Additionally she and several WW members who have been attending the same meeting as I for some time chipped in and got me an REI gift card. It was a very touching time. When you accomplish something it is easy, maybe even human nature, to downplay the achievement. Seeing the celebration others planned and hearing that you are an inspiration to others is both humbling and an ego boost at the same time. Since I do not feel I am finished it was all kind of weird. But it was very touching, very cool.

Below is a scrapbook page my wife made with pictures from along the way as a gift to my meeting leader.

Now playing: The Beatles - A Day In The Life
via FoxyTunes

11 May 2008


Tomorrow marks the start of marathon training taper. A typical marathon taper is 3 weeks of reduced workout load, cut by anywhere from 20-50% depending on how much you were doing to start with. The idea is to work enough to maintain fitness but rest enough to be at your strongest when the marathon comes. That's three weeks from today, 1 June 2008.

The taper is probably coming at just about the right time. I had been working out awfully hard, both running and biking a lot, including a couple bike commutes to and from work, 24 miles one way. This past week I went out and run at lunch time and then had a particularly hard ride home with a stiff headwind. Later that night I came down with a sudden cold that wiped me out for nearly 3 days. I believe this was a sign of overtraining as I could not seem to get enough sleep either. For only the second time in my 16 week training plan I skipped a run (speedwork). And I skipped a cross training session too. It's amazing the razor's edge we can live on. I was at the peak of my fitness, running fast, biking a lot, feeling invincible and then BAM! I'm wiped out.

I did do my last long run of my training after skipping the speedwork and cross training. 19.5 miles, better than my first 20 mile run but not as good as my 22 miler 2 weeks ago. My pace wasn't where I wanted it, I was hoping for anticipated marathon pace but ended up running about 30 seconds a mile slower. Given the cold and overall crash I had last week I'm not as disappointed as I might have been. I've still got the lingering effects of the cold, but am not so wiped out or tired anymore though.

Week 4: 29.6 miles, long run 19.5 miles.
Now playing: They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse In Your Soul
via FoxyTunes

04 May 2008

Peaking too soon?

Another great week of running in the books. I ran a tempo run with a couple of people from work - both of them faster than I. In the sixth mile I started pushing the pace and while they kept up, they were both commenting on how they couldn't believe I had anything left in me. I banged out that mile at a barely sub-8:00 pace. While they were running behind me I garnered a "Your legs are ripped" comment too. I'm still glowing over that one. On speedwork day it was snowing and raining. Instead of our typical rest between intervals we decided to do some fartleks. We ran 4 miles and did so quite fast for me, about 30 seconds slower than my 1600 interval times. It may have been being cold and wet that pushed us faster, but whatever it was we were moving.

After that run I decided to re-assess my plans for a 5K this weekend. My original plan was 8:30 miles. I started thinking 8:15s were possible since we pretty much ran 8:30s for our fartlek. I didn't have a watch (forgot it) but that goal wasn't too far off as I ran a PR (by 3 minutes) of 25:24. My last 5K, and previous PR was last October. Evidently marathon training improves your 5K too!

Today I ran 10 miles at anticipated marathon pace. It seemed easy. I ran from my house to the finish of the Colorado Marathon and watched the 3:45 - 4:10 finishers. Most looked pretty strong. I'm taking the image of them finishing strong and aiming for that in 4 weeks at Steamboat. It was fun watching marathon finishers. I've watched them while training for a half, but never really truly appreciated the feat then.

On Thursday I was talking to my running buddy after our Fartlek workout and told him how great I was running. His reply was that he hoped I wasn't peaking too early! Great, something to worry about when everything is going well. Actually I'm not worried, one more hard week and I'm into the taper. It feels awesome to be running this strong, and injury free.

Week 5: 23.4 miles, long run of 10.1 miles.
Now playing: Barenaked Ladies - Grade 9
via FoxyTunes

27 April 2008

26.2 - I can't wait!

I just finished the best week of training of my short running career! I am pysched. Bring on the 26.2 baby.

I ran 10 miles at anticipated marathon pace one morning just at daybreak. The nearly full moon was hanging just above the mountains, the birds were singing, I ran well, it was beautiful. Another morning I went out with a couple guys from work and we ran 6x1600. We've never run that many, it was work no doubt, but I wasn't wrecked afterwards. The old "good tired". And even with the hills on #s 2, 3, and 4 I still managed to average 8:06/mile for the 6. I ran my fastest 1600 ever at 7:30 as well.

A few weeks ago I ran 20 miles. I wouldn't classify what happened as hitting the wall, but I wasn't happy with my energy level and ability to hold pace the last 4 miles. I was questioning whether my anticipated pace was realistic. I did suspect that maybe I had not eaten enough the day before that run though. So this week I put that to the test. On Saturday I ate not only carbohydrate heavy, but also ate more than I normally would. I ate lunch then ate an extra sandwich, I ate dinner then had an extra burger and extra half potato, and also snacked more than normal. The result, near perfection. I ran 22 miles! and held close to my anticipated pace the whole way. And miles 16-22 were the strongest six I ran. And all things considered, I felt awesome afterwards. I am very confident I have figured out the trick to eating right the day(s) before, and it is to eat and eat (and maybe eat more). Fig Newtons and Gatorade as long run fuel are also still treating me well. They say that training for a marathon is no time to lose weight. While I've dropped 15+ during this training, I understand what that saying means now - you can't skimp on food before or during a run of that magnitude. Which makes perfect sense if you think of it as a 3100 calorie run - that's more than I eat in a typical day.

It's been awhile since I threw in a picture, here's one of me glowing after my 22 miler.

Week 6: 40.3 miles, 22 mile long run

Now playing: The Reverend Horton Heat - Big Red Rocket Of Love
via FoxyTunes

20 April 2008

A cutback week, eager to get to it

42 days until the big race. Time flies when you're running your butt off. Well, all things are relative. I'm not putting in the 60 mile weeks many do, much less the 100-120 the elites do. But I am running a lot. After a 20 miler followed by racing a half I planned a cutback week this week. Earlier this week I thought it might be beyond a cutback week. After not feeling too bad on Monday I felt pretty sore on Tuesday, especially my achilles/lower calves. I think it was a result of tightness everywhere else in my legs as I haven't had achilles pain before. Some biking Tue and some ibuprofen seemed to take care of things though as I had a good recovery run on Wednesday and then put in my normal speedwork (5x1600, total of 7 miles) on Thursday. I topped it off with only 10 miles for my long run today though I held anticipated marathon pace for the entire run. I'm feeling good and ready for 3 hard weeks including a 22 and another 20 before I hit the taper.

On the weight loss/improved body front I went shopping for some new shorts this weekend as all mine are falling off me. I bought a couple pair of size 32 shorts. Yeah I said 32" waist. Crazy. I also bought a size M t-shirt. It will fit better in a month or so, but I was swimming in the size L one. It's wierd (and a little sad) to have trouble finding shorts that fit not because there aren't any that big, but because there aren't any that small. I say a little sad because though I am making great progress I am not skinny. I am evidently approaching the underside of the mean though. This past week was week 2 after hitting my Dr. goal weight at WW. 3 weeks from this coming Tuesday I'll be considered a "Lifetime" member and can stop paying them!

Week 7: 20.2 total miles, 10.1 mile long run

Now playing: The White Stripes - Death Letter
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14 April 2008

Half way there?

Half way as in Half Marathon. I ran the Horsetooth Half Marathon yesterday. My original plan was to run it at my planned marathon pace. But I ran pretty well Tue and Fri this week and knew there was no way I was going to be able to hold back. So I made a plan. I haven't run a recent 5K, but have had some race pace training runs. From these an equivalent half time would have been 2:06:42 (9:40 pace). I finished in 2:09:00 by watch (2:09:34 gun time). It's a hilly course (and I ran 20 7 days prior, not exactly a standard taper ;-) so I am very happy with my result. After the monster 2 mile hill at the start I averaged a 9:37 pace. Adding to the experience was the attendance of my parents, the first time they have seen me race. I'm not sure who was more proud, them or I. This race was a 6:42 PR for me and 22:56 faster than when I ran it 1 year ago as my first half marathon ever. I don't think I'll take another 23 off for next year, but I wouldn't bet on my time being over 2 hours either.

Considering my relative lack of hill training before the race I felt pretty good afterwards. Minor aches on Monday but they were probably aggravated by riding in a car all day. A day after bike ride seemed to stretch things out a bit. I first tried this after my half last November and am sold on this.

Here's a link to my race pictures complete with some great scenery in the background on some of them. I'm wearing orange, there are some pictures of a guy in white included in this search that are incorrectly labeled. Too bad they didn't mix up our times, he finished 21 minutes before me! ;^>

Oh, and my time in this half predicts a 4:32 marathon (10:24 pace), a pace 4 seconds faster than the faster edge of my anticipated marathon pace. Cool beans!

Week 8: 22.9 miles with a long run of 13.1 miles.

Now playing: Jethro Tull - Mother Goose
via FoxyTunes

06 April 2008

Gravy Time

Most beginning marathon training programs take you through a progression to a 20 mile run 3 weeks before the race. Looking at these plans I felt I was at a point to run more than the 6-8 mile long runs many of them start with. I took the FIRST plans for first timers and vets and kind of made a hybrid. I have the speedwork and tempo runs from the vet plan (though the two were similar) and made a beginner-plan like progression but started up at 12-13 miles, leaving me time for more 20 (or more) mile runs. I ran my first ever 20 miler today. I did some things right, could have done some things better. I ran the whole way, except for when I was eating and drinking. I slowed down a lot in the second half. But I got through it. I ran about the same pace as for my 18 two weeks ago, which is about a minute or so slower than my anticipated marathon pace. Not that I have a time goal, I just want to finish strong and not be wrecked, but I have an idea of what I am capable of.

To the entry's title, I've done as much, distance-wise, as most training programs have you do. And I still have 8 weeks until the race! So from an endurance point of view everything from here is gravy. I have a half marathon race (shooting for marathon pace), a 22 miler, and another 20 miler on the calendar for the next 5 weeks which will leave me 3 weeks to taper to the race. Having run the one 20 that most do, I am not sure I feel ready. I feel confident could finish, but not ready yet. Maybe you never feel ready, at least for your first.

It's been a great weekend for me. Not only the 20 miles but I hit my Dr. assigned goal weight at my weigh in on Saturday. I weighed in at 188.6 lbs. I am not ready to be done losing weight, but am ready to be done paying Weight Watchers. Six weeks of maintaining a weight <190 and I'm what Weight Watchers calls a Lifetime member (free if I maintain the weight loss). Week 9: 41.8 miles, 20.2 mile long run (deceiving because last week's 10 was folded in, a 2 week average of 26.8 miles is a better way to look at this I think.
Now playing: B.B. King & Friends - Never Make Your Move Too Soon w/ Roger Daltrey
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31 March 2008

Scared for a Day

I have been extremely lucky (or maybe just smart) when it comes to injury. I've never had a running injury sideline me in the 19 months I've been running. This winter as I have really ramped up my mileage I have been paranoid by every ache and pain. Is it ITB syndrome, is that knee pain normal, will my foot fall off? You get the idea. Anyway, I woke up early Sunday morning with an extremely sore back - back spasms if I wasn't careful sore. I don't often get a sore back, even when I was at my biggest I didn't really have trouble, so this was very disturbing to me. How long would it set my running back? I spent Sunday worrying about just that.

I am not sure what exactly brought it on as Saturday was a Day of Rest (DOR) and last week wasn't a ton of miles, though I did run hard off-road and up and down hills on Friday evening. I also kicked a soccer ball around Saturday afternoon, but that doesn't seem like something that would do it either. Who knows. Vitamin I didn't touch it on Sunday, but a little pill left over from my root canal last spring seemed to do the trick as I awoke feeling much refreshed today. And more importantly I went out for 4.5 miles tonight and felt great, not a note of anything from the back. Big sigh of relief. I'm going to swap my speedwork for the 10 miler I missed last Sunday and then I'll be back on schedule.

I was down another 0.6 lbs this week, now at 190.8. Although I plan on going lower 190 is my Dr. set goal for WW. Almost there.

March totals: 107 miles, 52 miles long runs, 26.1 miles at tempo pace, 14 miles of speed work including 11 one mile repeats. My first 100 mile month.

Week 10: 11.8 miles, no long run due to back

Now playing: Steely Dan - Charlie Freak
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23 March 2008

New highs and lows

10, 5, 7:40, 18, 34, 191.4, these are the lucky numbers for the week.

Today marks the end of week 11. The marathon is in 10 weeks. Sometimes 10 weeks can seem like an eternity, other times it seems like no time at all. Lately I'm leaning towards the latter. I'm also running in a half marathon in 3 weeks. The Horsetooth Half Marathon was my first half marathon ever and a day where I first truly took in all that I had accomplished both in weight loss and in running. I plan to run this event every year in celebration. I also look forward to opening it up a little on a race course, I haven't raced since Thanksgiving.

This week started with a couple after work runs (again, Daylight Savings Time rocks!) including a 10K run on Monday to make up some of the missed miles on Sunday. Thursday was a day of interval work. I set out with a guy from work to do 5x1600 repeats (5 x 1 mile). After 2 uphill and into the wind the next 3 tied, then slightly beat, then shattered my 1600 PR with a time of 7:40. Doing five 1600s is a personal best too. My buddy wants to work up to 8, I think we'll just take them one at a time and see where we end up.

My long run this week took me 18 miles. I set out to do 17, but calculated my route in my head but misrembered the distance of one loop by 1 mile. I didn't run fast, about marathon pace + 60 seconds, but I finished stronger than I started. While I was tired, I still had a little more in me when I finished. Another 8.2 miles? Maybe. In 10 weeks there will be no doubt. I have a little work to do on figuring out how to eat on the run, etc. I know I didn't hydrate enough yesterday, and waited too long after eating to go out as the gels were not enough. While I felt the effects, I didn't hit the wall though. I can tell this is more important at 18 miles than 13.

I also set a new high for weekly mileage at 34.0 miles.

OK, that's it for the highs. For the lows there is my weight. I weighed in at 191.4 lbs this week! Oddly enough, training for a marathon seems to be good for your weight loss ;-), I'm down 5 lbs in 6 weeks!

Week 10: 34.0 miles, 18 mile long run

Now playing: Rush - Far Cry
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16 March 2008

Rain Delay

Week 12 ended in disappointment. I went out for my first 17 miler run today and ended up calling it quits at 7.8 miles. I got caught in wind and rain and was soaked to the bone. I felt bad while sitting in the coffee shop and waiting for my ride. The rain looks much easier to deal with when you're inside and dry. Given that I've never wimped out due to the weather before I think this was an exceptional case and the right choice. Snow I could have dealt with, it just falls off you. Guess I'll bag the 17 next week and figure out how to adjust my schedule.

Other than that I had a good week though. With Daylight Savings time I got a good 10K tempo run in after work one day and did a relatively fast 4 miles on another with one 1600 interval during that run at an 8:00 per mile pace, my fastest yet.

Week 12: 18.0 miles, 7.8 mile long run.

Now playing: The Who - The Kids Are Alright
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09 March 2008

I can do this!

Week 13 is in the books, the marathon is 12 weeks from today. I am feeling very confident about this. I almost wrote "nothing but confidence" there but decided not to because I don't want to sound too cocky. I know this will take a lot more work and will not be easy. But I am confident I am up to the task. I'll reserve the right to change this tune after my first ever 17 mile run next Sunday.

While I have the occasional aches and pains, my legs and body are holding up well to the increased training. I have had no injuries (knock on wood), though I have been paying attention to my IT bands. I am probably just paranoid as I have had no pain during runs from the ITB, just a little tenderness afterwards. Seems like I've read too many stories of people getting knocked off course by ITBS.

I've actually felt so good running lately that I've been tempted to add in more. So far I've resisted. Yesterday was a bit of a cutback in long run mileage at "only" 12 miles. I ran with a buddy from work and we had an awesome run. 12.1 miles, a decent amount of rolling hills, and managed a 10:33 pace. To put that in perspective for me, that's about 1 minute faster than I've been running long runs solo. It's also only 11 seconds off my last half marathon pace. It's also only about 5 seconds off my "best case" marathon pace. Why is it that we run faster with others? Sure seems to be the case with me.

On the weight loss front I seem to be losing again. Quite possibly due to the increased training. I'm down in the 194-195 range now, and actually weighed in below 190 right after my long run yesterday. I know that weight isn't real, but it's kinda cool to see numbers like that on the scale! It would be awesome to run the marathon in the 180-185 range.

Thought I'd start throwing my mileage in these. Here's a summary to date, I'll just include the current week from here on out.
Week 13: 24.6 Miles, 12.1 mile long run
Week 14: 26.7 Miles, 14.5 mile long run
Week 15: 21.3 Miles, 15.1 mile long run
Week 16: 24.2 Miles, 13.0 mile long run

Now playing: Collective Soul - Breathe
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24 February 2008

Week 15

So in only my second week of training I miss a workout! What a bum I am. Well, as I have often said with losing weight, sometimes life gets in the way. I did have a good 9:39 pace 10K tempo run and I went out on Sunday for a 15.1 mile long run. I held a good pace and it wasn't really hard work until the last 2 miles. And during the last 2 miles I was pushing the pace as well, to simulate the kick at the end of the marathon. All confidence again this week.

I've been enjoying more marathon stories from the books mentioned last week. A few from some really gifted runners, a few more from just regular guys (and girls). I like the latter, it's hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who goes out at a 6:30 pace in their first marathon, but someone who stumbles through the training and needs everything he has physically and mentally to finish the beast I can relate too. I have started playing out my marathon finish in my head to get me through parts of my run. It worked well for my first half, I expect it to again.

Now playing: Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends woodstock version
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17 February 2008

Week 16 in the books

This week I did a 6.2 mile tempo run, 3 x 1600 m repeats (including one at 8:21, a PR for me), and a 13 mile long run. Though my paced lagged a bit on the long run, I still felt pretty good about it. It was windy as heck and I still got out and ran. Overall I have felt pretty good about the marathon this week. While there's a healthy amount of respect I didn't feel at all intimidated this week. I've been reading a couple books of marathon stories, First Marathons and The Spirit of the Marathon, both by the same Editor. I have realized that while I am not at the level of some of the people in the stories, I have certainly read some stories of people who were way less prepared than I will be, and they still finished!

For those who know anything about marathon training I plan on following the FIRST (See also) training program, though I may back off on the five 20 mile runs in the plan. FIVE 20 milers seems like it may be more than necessary for a first-timer. We'll see how the first 16-18 mile runs go. Anyway, FIRST is a plan based on running fewer days (3 days per week) than traditional marathon programs, but doing so a little faster with very directed workouts (a speed session, a tempo run, and a long run each week). Additionally 2 days of non-weight-bearing aerobic cross training are required, not suggested. The idea is that you get aerobic workouts with the cross-training while allowing your legs time to heal up and stay fresh. I am really enjoying spin class, have found a great teacher with great taste in music.

Now playing: Elvis Costello - Watching the Detectives
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10 February 2008


So 16 weeks from today, Sunday 1 June 2008, I'll be running 26.2 miles in the Steamboat Marathon. 26.2 miles, over four and a half hours. Wow! If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be running a marathon this summer I'd have laughed in your face.

How do I feel about all this? Some combination of excited, scared, awed, inspired, nuts, stupid, and wonderful. Typically 2 or 3 of these at the same time! I've said before that I'm an adult-onset runner. Growing up, though I played sports, I hated running. Running was punishment in most of the sports I played. That I am about to undertake such a physically demanding endeavor, voluntarily, is at times baffling. And at the same time I knew this day was coming the day I ran my first 5K, Labor Day 2006. I didn't admit it then, even to myself, but part of me knew. The runner in me, patiently waiting to be set free, knew.

My "official" training program starts tomorrow, but I've been building up base miles since early January. Distance-wise I am back where I was last summer and fall, not quite back there speed-wise. I will try and document my feelings and training experiences throughout the next 4 months in weekly blog entries. No promises though.

If you are a runner, or just want to see an inspirational film, I recommend you go check out Spirit of the Marathon on 21 February 2008. I saw this movie in it's first showing last month, it was great. Those emotions I listed above, I felt all of them at one time or another during this movie.

Lastly, after cracking 200 last November I've lost about 5 more lbs. I'd like to drop another 15 before the marathon, the training will likely help with that. But if I don't, I don't. Running is more important to me now.

Now playing: Pink Floyd - In The Flesh
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