Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm BAAAAACK!!!!!!! (aka I'm writing for the first time in 2 years and I don't know how long it will last)

WOW! October 2009 was my last post? That is REALLY SAD! AD – No teasing please!

No promises here but I will attempt to start blogging again as I participate in a local Sahuarita “Biggest Loser” competition. It is 12 weeks long. I will attempt to do one post a week to keep you up to date on my endeavor. This will be the first such post but hopefully not the last. After the 12 weeks, we’ll see where we go from there…

First, to catch you up… (its either this or you go back and re-read 3 years of blogs!) After my marathon in the fall of 2008 I ran a half marathon 2 weeks later. The combined stress of those two events plus the severe overtraining I was doing culminated in a shredded ileotibial band in my right knee. Following physical therapy, rests periods, reduced mileage, and a year of frustration, I all but stopped running due to the pain. After peaking somewhere in the 285lb range my running had dropped me to 183 lbs at the time of my marathon. I had lost just over 100 lbs and for the first time in a LONG time my BMI was classified as normal.

The year after my marathon and subsequent injury wasn’t without running. I still did another half-marathon in SLC but my weight did start to climb again as my mileage dropped from around 40 miles/week down to 10-15 miles/week. By the fall of 2009 however I was lucky to be running 1-2 times/week if at all. When my wife and I went on our cruise to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary that August, I was weighing in at 205.

As my career started a transition in the winter of 2009-2010 my amount of free time shrunk drastically and I focused for the next year and a half on that career change and relocation. The problem was, I let my weight go unattended and it climbed and climbed.

So, that brings us to today! A coworker has participated in some of these competitions in the past and notified me of this one starting. Knowing full well that competition is the key to my success, I figured it is now or never. Next March I cross the dreaded 40 year old mark. I hope by then I will be back in shape, ready to tackle my next marathon and that elusive 4 hour mark that I so narrowly missed on my first attempt.

As for the weigh-in for the competition, I weighed in at 246 lbs (242 at home with less clothing). 60% of my blood sweat and tears weight loss, lost! But just look at the whole new motivation I have to try again! I look forward to your encouragement, words of wisdom, mocking accountability, and probably quite a bit of general apathy as my running has NOTHING to do with your happiness.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rise 'n Run Results - Name Change?

Just though I would put up the official results from my race back on the 19th. I was starting to wonder if they would ever publish them and then on the official website they put out a press release but never the overall results... but they finally did, kind of. Instead of posting them on their site, they emailed them out to all the participants. I thought that was different. I have never seen that done before, but hey, I got my results... kind of.

You see, in the official results my name is not listed. Once again I'm sure a well intending volunteer convinced themself that surely the list must be wrong, who would have "John" as a last name? That's right. So even though I registered electronically and even though the name was listed correctly on the sign-in sheet the morning of the race, at some point the volunteer (must keep reminding myself of that fact) took it upon themself to "rectify" the situation to which they had no evidence to the contrary other than their preconceived notion of what is and what isn't an acceptable last name... Although I am well accustomed to that happening throughout my life, I will NEVER accept it without at least a small twinge in my gut.

Okay, venting over, now the results!

Official time: 24:15 (as I stated in my original post)
Total Runners: 198
Overall place: 27th
Male place: 24th
Males age 35-39: 4th (yep, 1st non-podium looser!)

As for what is next. I am signed up to run the Cactus ChaCha in Phoenix Arizona the weekend I am out there for business. I am running that with my brother and one of his boys. Feel free to join us if you can. That should be fun!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Kicks

Just a quick post to show off my new shoes. My old ones were up over 420 miles so it was time to transition to a new pair. I always like to have an overlap before I retire a pair of shoes somewhere around 500 miles. In a sad statement of how few miles I have run this year, my old shoes are the pair that I ran my marathon in last year. In the peak of my training I had a pair that only "lasted" for about 2 months of running. Of course I still wear the retired shoes for non-running activities, but I'm starting to get a collection of those built up.

So here they are. I have upgraded from the Saucony Omni 7's to the Omni 8's. Some changes have been made and the shoe actually received the Runner's World Editor's Choice award. The biggest change in my eyes is the removal of the plastic webbing on the outside edge by the toe that was added to the Omni 7's. It really bugged me when I was running and I debated switching to a new shoe. I guess enough people complained that they dropped it back off. The shoe is also a touch lighter, they have moved the arch support back slightly, and added additional cushioning to the heal. All in all, I think they have taken a step forward (no pun intended). My first run, 6.4 miles of mixed surfaces, on Saturday went well and was the longest run I've done since my Half Marathon in April. No pain, discomfort, or any other issues noticed. I really think I will like this upgrade and I hope it won't take me as long to reach 500 miles this time around.

So for your oooing and ahhhhing pleasure, here are the pics. Now catch me if you can...

The top one shows you the tread, this one gives a clearer image of the profile. The other noticable change is making the webbing grey instead of the previous white. They also use quite a bit more metallic silver. They just look flashier than the previous models.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Roswell Rise 'n Run

Last Saturday I ran my first 5k race this year… kind of. Last May I ran in a 5k that was put on by my church. It was free and was more focused on participation than competition. I came in 4th overall behind two teenage brothers and their mom. I lost to the mom by about 3 feet having started my kick too late. That race I finished in 22:12 about 3 weeks after I ran the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. Because it was so small, not truly "open" to real competition, they started 30 minutes later than the announced time, and because I had to leave literally 2 minutes after I finished to get home, shower, and drive for 45 minutes to make it to my son’s Karate Tournament…. I guess I never felt like it was a real race. But looking back I guess I missed my best opportunity to brag about finishing in the top 3 for the males and 1st in my division! What was I thinking!

Anyway, as to this week’s race. Ever since Peachtree I’ve been taking a break and then after my cruise in early August started to think about running again. I went a couple weeks and realized that August had become my lowest mileage month in a year and a half. To get me off the couch and moving again I went out and signed up for the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon here in Atlanta. I’ve done that race for the last two years.

Having signed up for that, I realized I needed some near term races to get me started now instead of say, the first week in November. So, after searching the Georgia race database, I found one close to home in September. The 4th Annual Roswell Rise n Run.

I had to show you the logo because it was a bit ironic. Sure, it was dry during morning registration, but for the last week and about 5 minutes after the race started it has been nothing but rain here in Atlanta. Not as bad as it was on Monday – Atlanta’s 100 yr storm event – but it was setting the stage for the flooding, saturating the ground.

The race is a nice 5k/1k fun run combo but as usual, that is always trouble. They lined us up all together and who do you think made up the first 5 rows? You guessed it, about 40 6 year olds with their moms to do the 1k. The director with the bull horn suggested that if you don’t run under 5:40 miles, you may want to move back but that didn’t seem to phase but maybe one or two of those kids. They blissfully got ready to run and the race director blissfully didn’t push the matter any further.

As they sounded the horn a swarm of 6 year olds broke out of the gate like they were running a 100 yd dash. There rabbit start probably saved them from a good trampling as it stretched out the field a little before they began to tire. It was funny to be weaving through kids with the sound of mothers behind me yelling at their kids to slow down. By the 100 yd mark I made it past the last kid just before the course took a 90 degree turn. I didn’t look back but I can only imagine how bunched back up that field got making that turn.

The course started at an Elementary school and ran into a nearby park. One of the first quirks of the race was the speed bumps. The road in the park had speed bumps every hundred feet or so it seemed making for some modified strides to avoid them. I was happy when the course turned off the road and onto a crushed stone path that winds through the park. That was however, about the time the rain started coming down. It never rained hard enough to detract from the running but it was a bit more than an annoyance.

At the 1-mile mark I realized I had gone out a bit too fast for the amount of training I had put in. Mile 1 was in 7:11. I was quite winded and knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold that pace. The course then took a turn through the woods over some marked roots and into a neighborhood behind the park. I’ve never run a race that included so many various types of running surfaces.

Shortly after returning to the park through a wooded trail section back onto the crushed stone I reached the 2 mile mark. Mile 2 was in 7:53. Slower but really more in line with what I was expecting. I came around a corner and saw the race photographer from True Speed Photo. He was sitting under a table to keep his camera out of the rain but it produced an interesting angle on the shots, almost diagonal and obviously from a low angle. I really liked them, except for the obvious pain in my face...

Mile 3 is where I really started to feel my lack of training. There were some more hills here and tight turns. Interestingly the course doubled back on itself several times so you were sharing a 6-foot wide path with runners going in the opposite direction. The organizers did a good job setting up cones to keep traffic flowing correctly though.

Thoroughly soaked at the 3 mile marker I was hurting and had a little discomfort in my right hamstring (so long as it is not my IT Band, I’m okay with it!). Mile 3 was painfully slow by my standards and I was pretty upset with my 8:29. That is training run time, not a race! Mad at that split I took off for the last .1 miles as hard as my winded lungs would let me. The last .1 miles was in 41 seconds (6:50 pace if you were to extrapolate it out…). Of course it helped that the final tenth of a mile was all downhill, but we can leave that part out, right? We’ll also ignore the fact that my PR of 21 minutes flat translates to 6:46 per mile for the entire race, not just the final tenth of a mile…

It all goes to prove that when we aren’t moving forward, we ARE moving backwards. There is no such thing as standing still.

Post race was interesting. It was the first 5k I have ever done that didn’t finish at the start line. We finished in the park and had to walk back to the school to get to the food, free stuff, and the T-shirts. At the finish line we asked which way to go and one of the volunteers pointed a group of us in the wrong direction. We ended up walking the long way around, back on the course with runners still going, probably going a good mile, instead of the ¼ mile short cut most people were pointed too. I guess I looked like I needed to walk a little bit more.

As for results, I can’t find them posted anywhere so I don’t know where I finished in my group or overall. My time as I passed under the clock was 24:15 but that was not "official". At first I got a little excited as I noted that I was the second card dropped in my division’s slot, then I realized he was pulling them out and logging them as he got them. I should have known that that time wouldn’t be anywhere near the podium in the 35-39 yr old male division…

So, there you have it, my first full race report in quite a while. And look Real, a blog post with NO mention of bowel movements, wait a minute, crud! Ignore this paragraph please. Anywho…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poor Neglected Blog

Other than my wife, I have two dedicated friends who are probably the only people to have noticed the fact that I haven't posted a thing since May. Both of them have reached out to me this month with a gentle reminder that they do in fact care and want to hear from me. One was a college roommate of my wife to which I owe an unplayable debt of gratitude, the other is a cyberfriend that I have known for a couple years through the magic of the Runners World Online discussion Forums. One might think that I they have guilted me into writing this update, and one might not be entirely wrong, but on a bigger scale, there is a reason I haven't written of late.

As we all know, the bulk of my posts are about running. Guess what has been suffering this summer? After my Half in Salt Lake I really stopped running. Not cold turkey, but comparatively so. I think I ran maybe 20 miles a month through the summer, then in August it was maybe 15... Yeah, I "ran" the Peachtree in July, perhaps the first big race that I didn't do a race report for. Maybe I'll go back and do one. But the bigger issue was that even then I didn't feel like much of a runner. I walked for a short portion of that race because I was undertrained for it and got winded up Heartbreak Hill. Other than when I hit the wall in my Marathon, cramping in both legs from the hips down, that is the only race I have ever walked in a race. (Starting line crowd weaving not included) While some would kill for a 52 minute 10k, myself included 3 years ago, I am having a hard time stepping backwards to step forwards.

With September has come new attitude. I have rejoined the Runners World discussion forums, started running 2-3 times a week (for a start), and even signed up for a race or two. I'm running a 5k this weekend, looking at another 5k on October 3rd, there is a trail race in the park I do my daily runs in in early November, all leading up to the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon that I have run the last two years. With that as a goal, I am striking out to get back to where I was a year ago. With determination, a cooperating IT Band, and a little luck, I'll get there.

There, ya happy? More to come.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Salt Lake City & the Half Marathon

The majority of my entries this year have been related to either my injury or my plan to run the Salt Lake City Marathon/Half-Marathon. It really is sad that even after all of that I have allowed over a month to pass since the event to record the experience. The fact that NO ONE has been clamoring for my write-up speaks to how little the smattering of readers I have even care. Well, I guess you have to put up with a report anyway.

After repeated attempts to train for the full marathon, each ending in IT BAND issues, I finally accepted reality and registered for the Half-Marathon. I guess it speaks well of my fitness and training to be able to just default to a 13.1 mile race without much concern. There was a time not so long ago when completing that 5k presented a significant challenge.

I arrived in Salt Lake on Thursday evening and was picked up by my sister Coleen. Even though I moved away when I was 14, Salt Lake will always feel a bit like home to me. After dinner at my sister Diana’s house we went up to my grandparent’s old house that Coleen now lives in. Perhaps no structure in Salt Lake holds more memories for me other than my childhood home. Despite the small rooms, even smaller closets, head trauma waiting to happen staircases, and general design for no one taller than 5’6", I love spending time in that house.

On Friday we had a relaxing day around the house. Then I went for a short run. That is when the panic set in. About a quarter mile into a 2.5 mile run my knee burned like it had at the peak of my troubles. I was so angry and upset and pushed through the pain (which I knew I shouldn’t do). I finished my run in severe pain but never let on to Coleen. I debated withdrawing from the race for fear of risking more damage. I don’t know what was different on that run, but it was perhaps the most humbling 2.5 miles I have ever run. Ultimately I decided that I had come to far to back out now so I stretched really well and hoped that I was just stiff from the flight and time change… (Yeah, that’s it, knee pain is attributable to jet lag! A desperate man will believe anything.)

Next Coleen took me to drive the route I would be running. This was the first time I have done this and it was really quite helpful the next day to know what was yet to come. From the endpoint we went to the Salt Palace to pick up my bib and race packet. The neatest part of that experience came in the form of an announcement over the PA system. They announced that a David Warden would be giving a presentation about Triathlon Training on one side of the conference center. I turned to Coleen and asked if they were referring to "our David Warden". She said that they might be as she thought he was a tri-athlete. We wandered over to the presentation area and there sat my 1st Cousin once removed, David Warden. We had played quite a bit as children before we moved away from Salt Lake but I’m not sure if I had seen him since! It was so cool to catch up with him.

After finishing up at the Salt Palace we went to Trolley Square. We had made a reservation at the Spaghetti Factory where all my Salt Lake family would help me carb load for my race. It was so nice to sit down to dinner with all 4 of my Salt Lake siblings and various members of their families. The trip to Salt Lake would have been worth it just for that. My mistake that night however played into the next day’s story. Looking over the menu, they didn’t have just plain spaghetti with marinara sauce at all. The closest I could find was the "Mt Vesuvius," which was close, but included Tobasco in the sauce… mistake! If anyone ever considers any menu item with the word Tobasco in the description the night before running any distance beyond the 20 feet from the TV to the toilet, STOP THEM! Other than that, the food and company were fantastic.

Due to the afore mentioned menu item, I visited the restroom 4 times between that night and the next morning. I was convinced that there was nothing left in my system to worry about, as there couldn’t possibly be anything left in my colon following the cleansing it had! (more on this assumption to come at a later time…)
Race morning I got up and went through my typical routine. I was dressed, showered, and ready to go well before race time. I ate some toast with peanut butter and proceeded to consume most of my sister’s grapefruit juice as I had drank most of her orange juice the day before. Only then did I wake her up and ask her to drive me the few short miles from her house to the start line. As we approached the start line we came to an intersection where the cops were stopping cars from getting any closer. I reacted quickly, handed my bag to my sister while asking her to bring it to the finish line, and then I bailed out of the car so she wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of finding some place to park. Only after she drove off did it hit me that I had forgotten to call my wife as planned. My phone was in my finish line bag, pulling away. It was the first "hitch" to the day.

The temperature was perfect, cool but not cold. I had on some gloves and a hat along with my standard running gear and that was more than enough to keep me warm. At the start area I realized that Vesuvius was not done erupting and found my way through the port-a-potty line again. I jogged a bit to warm up but didn’t want to press my luck with my knee too much before the actual race. I lined up a bit further back in the pack than I should of, partly due to lack of faith in my knee, partly due to lack of faith in my ability to run at altitude, and partly due to my general lack of faith in my preparation and training. The other thing that I found a bit amusing was the start line entertainment. It was a Baptist Choir singing gospel music. Not exactly the "pump you up" race music you would expect, and oddly out of place in this bastion of the Mormondom.

When the race finally started it took me almost 2 minutes to cross the start-line and initiate the timing chip strapped to my foot. The first mile was quite frustrating weaving through very slow runners and groups of 8-10 people that present very imposing obstacles when they move en mass. Although I was moving at what I though was a quick pace my watched beeped at the 9 minute mark and I had not yet seen the 1st mile marker. I hit the lap button, convinced that I had just missed the marker.

The field continued to thin and it became much easier to find my way through the crowd but I was still passing a lot of people through that second mile. When I reached the second mile mark and my watch was still on 6:53, my suspicions were confirmed about the first mile. So including the crowd weaving I was on an 8 minute pace early on.

The third mile is where I developed a side stitch. This is not common for me at all and I think this was the first sign of running at altitude. I consciously increased the rate of my breathing to try and compensate for the lower levels of oxygen (I have no idea if this is the suggested approach to such a situation). That seemed to work as the stitch relented and didn’t come back the rest of the way. Mile 3 took me 7:32.

Mile 4, in 7:42, is where it hit me that I hadn’t even thought about my knee, let alone felt any pain from it whatsoever. It is almost just as frustrating to not have issues because it highlights the unexplained times when it blows up on me.
I had settled into a good rhythm and those middle miles went by in a blur, or should I say without incident.

Mile 5, 8:08
Mile 6, 8:14
Mile 7, 7:52

Somewhere in mile 8 the red pepper sauce from coastal Louisiana decided that it wasn’t done and I felt the growing need to find a port-a-potty once again. I went quite a ways trying to convince myself that I could hold it or perhaps that it was just gas and I could let it out and be done but eventually rightly concluded that the next available outhouse would need to be occupied. Mile 8, 8:18.

As I was passing the 9 mile mark, 8:27, in Liberty Park I was in near panic, looking for the park lavatories, debating asking a local home owner, anything short of ruining a good pair of running shorts. Then I saw the row of plastic green sheds up ahead that had never appeared as such a godsend to me before. I jumped in and stopped my watch (I didn’t want to count non-running time!). The pit stop took me almost exactly 2 minutes and was far more enjoyable than any "No 2" should be. As I took off running again my knee twinged for the first time all day and I nearly panicked but within a few hundred feet the pain went away, never to return the rest of the run.

Mile 10, which included a little of the in and out of the potty was run in 8:55. Miles 10 and 11 went by with a new lightness afoot but still were slower due to the stage in the race I was at. Mile 11 took 8:46. Although I was slowing, I was still quite happy with my overall time considering all of the obstacles I was facing coming into the race. I had set what I thought was a realistic goal of 2 hours, roughly 9-minute miles, given those obstacles, so my splits up to this point had all been gravy. Then I hit the biggest obstacle the course had to offer, State Street climbing up to South Temple. Most of the course is downhill, something like 400 feet net from start to finish, but mile 12 is a straight shot that gets steeper and steeper as you go. The capital building and the stupid arching bird monument over State Street at South Temple are deceptively far away and taunt you the entire climb. Mile 12 was my only split slower than 9 minutes (other than my miss timed 1st mile) and that beast of a hill nearly broke me, 9:32. It was the one of the few places where I noted several people passing me and perhaps the most apparent example of my lack of altitude training.

The run down South Temple to the old train station was relaxing in comparison. I ran Mile 13 in 8:34. The turn into the shopping center that was the finish line was really cool. The last .1 miles (39 seconds) was through a relatively narrow outdoor mall that crowded the family and friends right on top of you. I saw Coleen with her two boys and heard her screaming my name. Only later did I see how poor of a videographer she was. ;) Diana and Adam were down the chute a bit further, near the finish line. It was so cool to have them take time out of their day to cheer me on.

So, the final results:

Gun Time (from when the gun starts the race until I finished): 1:52:48
Chip Time (subtracts the time to cross the start line - what the organizers use to assign placements outside of the "winners"): 1:50:53
Watch Time (did not include the potty break): 1:48:49


802nd out of 4139 Half Marathoners
545th out of 1588 males
79th out of 248 35-39 year old males

Overall, I was ecstatic with the finish. It could always be better, but halfway between my fastest (1:40:35) and my slowest (1:59:05) Half Marathon times was a perfect compromise given the challenges of injury, elevation, and digestion that I faced.

That evening we went swimming at Cottonwood Spa where I really learned how to swim as a kid. I went by my childhood house that has changed SO MUCH since my childhood. On Sunday we went to Church in my Grandparents old ward house. That may be the first time I have been in that building for anything other than a funeral. Then Coleen hosted a big dinner with the whole family coming over. It was a great get together that could have only been improved with the addition of my wife, parents, and other missing siblings. It is times like that that make me miss not living closer to the bulk of my family.

I flew home Monday morning, having failed to make time to visit a college friend that I had hoped to stop by and see but for the most part I had accomplished what I had set out to do that weekend. In the end the trip was less about the run and more about my sister and my family for many reasons but I was glad that the run had given me a reason to be in Salt Lake at that particular window of time. Hopefully, at some future date, I can return to the valley and conquer the full 26.2 miles I had intended to run.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nissan Upgrade Plan

Now that I have successfully chased off all of my faithful readers (both of them) by my failure to update for going on two months… I guess it is time I write something. My guilt and failure have been highlighted by my enjoyment of a friend’s blog that has had an enthralling thread of entries about her courtship 18 years ago as recorded in her journal at the time. What a fantastic window a journal is into your own mind. While some events are communicated through facebook, there is no lingering record of my status posts. I have come to realize that my blog is the only form of journal I am likely to keep in the foreseeable future so I better make a few attempts at entry every now and then.

So, where was I when I left off? I had just been cleared to run by my physical therapist, my Salt Lake City Half Marathon was 2.5 weeks away, and I was still driving a Nissan Sentra… I guess things have changed some since then. I will try to catch up, but I won’t do it in one MEGAPOST that takes forever to read and covers everything from then to now… I’ll try and break it up some.

I progressed quickly after I was cleared to run. I didn’t do too much or go too far but I had a couple weeks in the upper teens in terms of mileage. The PT asked to see me one last time on Monday the 13th at which point I would be on my own. I got up and left to that appointment. It was raining pretty hard and I was driving a stretch of road that I am normally on an hour earlier. The added traffic, the poor visibility, and I will admit, my mind being elsewhere, culminated in me wrecking my 2000 Sentra.

A mini-van had stopped and was waiting for oncoming traffic to turn left into his subdivision. There was no turn lane and the right side of the road had a guardrail preventing me from ditching off to the right. This road is about a mile long with just this one 8-10 house subdivision on it. I had never encountered cars going in or out of it before in all my years of passing it. After turning on the road my focus was diverted to something else, what I have no idea. I just remember I was not looking straight ahead when I realized that this silver mini-van, shrouded in rain and low clouds, blurred by the early morning light… POPPED out of nowhere to be parked 40 feet in front of me with me going 40mph on wet pavement.

I locked it up but the damage was done. I did manage to avoid hitting him square, more my front left to his right rear. I think that is why my airbag didn’t deploy, thank goodness. It probably resulted in more damage to my car however. Being paid for with liability only, my Sentra was a complete write off. Of course, Jamie had to show up with her cell phone camera to document the damage…

I was fine. The only damage was a small scratch on my left shin and a HUGE gouge in my ego that will heal over time. I ended up taking the day off, never going to my appointment (or back to PT since), and buying a new car that day. We really are a family that can’t function without two vehicles so waiting to buy was only an option if we were to borrow a car for a few days, which a friend offered, but I didn’t want to mess with it.

Long story short, we ended up buying a white 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5SL. We discovered last year (after Jamie similarly totaled the van) that if we went with a slightly used car, we could load up on the options and still have it be affordable. So our van has the built in DVD w/ 6 disk changer, stow-n-go seats, heated leather seats, sunroof, and the tow package (slightly bigger engine and a tow hitch). Similarly, my Altima has the heated leather seats, BOSE sound system w/ 6 disk changer, and the sunroof. I really have enjoyed the added features that we could never afford or justify on a new vehicle.

A month later, I cannot tell you how much nicer my commute to and from work has been. I get 3-4 less miles per gallon than my Sentra, but I should have traded up long ago. To think, all I had to do was sacrifice my perfect driving record...