Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Not too much time to blog with Christmas festivities upon us, however this will be my last/best opportunity to post for the year, so here it goes...

My last entry talked about the massage I won in a drawing from the Jingle Bell Run.  Well, I'm happy to report I got my rub down a couple days ago and it was great.  Turns out the masseur instructs massage at a local college, and he gave out 2 massages from the drawing.  His rates are pretty reasonable, so I might be seeing him again.  The only interesting thing I might add about the experience is that this was the first time I  decided strip down butt ass naked (for a massage) mainly so that I could get some quality work done on my glutes.

Back to my running.  I signed up for the local "Frosty 5k" on New Years Day, so my next blog entry will be the race report.  However, my main focus has been increasing my mileage base so that I can have a quality month of marathon training for January.  Here are my stats for the last 7 days:

12/18/2010 Weekly Mileage
Sat.178.5 min/mi on treadmill
Mon.107 - 1 mile intervals
Tue.118.4 min/mi
Wed.118.25 min/mi
Thur.48.4 min/mi
Fri.198 min/mi on treadmill

My final piece of running news:  I'm looking forward to the next week.  I'll be heading South to Houston for a few days, so I should get to run in some nice 70 degree weather.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Won Something!

Wow!  I won something by running, but it wasn't from crossing a finish line before anybody else.  Remember that Jingle Bell Run I just blogged about?  Well, I didn't really mention the nice 10 minute massage I got afterward at the finish area.  But last night I got a call from the masseuse who did the masseusing telling me I won a hour and a half full body massage from the drawing I entered.

I've won drawings before, but I didn't even take this guy's company card thinking I wasn't going to win, but that he would most likely spam my email for the rest of my life.

So he told me I won, but to call him back when I figure out a time for the appointment.  One piece of background info:  He has odd hours of operation after 6pm weeknights, and on the weekends which adds to my skepticism that this is a 'too good to be true' prize (not really, but play along with me here).  This leaves me to ponder a few options about my recent luck.

  1. This is all legitimate, and I am a lucky SOB who gets an awesome free rub down.
  2. There were many 'winners' of the drawing, and in order to get my massage, I have to sit through a seminar/sales pitch like those for timeshare vacations.
  3. There is fine print, like I have to pay for the oils and creams, or commit to a pay massage in the future.
  4. The massage business is a front for a prostitution/escort service.
  5. Not that I'm a homophobe, but the male masseuse is gay, and he turns creepy and horny while I'm all but naked.

Any other crazy scenario I might be missing?  Did I hit the nail on the head or what?  Ha!  Now that my imagination is done running away from me, I'll be sure and post how it all turns out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jingle Bell Run

Not only am I a Jingle Bell Run virgin, but I am also a 4 mile race virgin.  I wasn't really looking forward to this race which is sandwiched in between the Turkey Trot and the New Year's race called the Frosty 5k.  I am starting to go into marathon training mode, and substituting a 4 mile race with a taper for my distance running leaves me feeling guilty.  However, I've been skipping this event for several years now, and the local Jingle Bell Run is a popular race, so I wanted to give it a try.

The morning started out colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra.  Although Kansas can get a lot colder, my body hasn't acclimated to Winter weather yet, and there was a stiff wind from the North that caused the wind chill to be about 17 degrees.  I made it to the start area about an hour early.  At this point, I was debating how hard I was wanting to run this race since I was already guaranteed a PR, and I wasn't feeling in top form.  Having decided this race wasn't that important to me, I went ahead and partook in a free doughnut and hot chocolate, and mingled around trying to kill some time.

Skipping ahead, about a half mile into the race, we turned into that North wind running along the Arkansas River.  Right before mile 2, a gust of wind came up and blew off my cap.  I made a quick decision, did a 180 and ran back after my hat.  Luckily another runner saw me chasing after it and picked it up while it was still being blown the opposite way.  My snafu probably cost me a good 10 seconds.  But as I was retrieving my hat, Mr. Murphy's Law (look it up if you haven't heard of him) must have run past me cause no more than a minute later, the runner right in front of me lost his cap too.  Now I had another decision to make.  Do I pay it forward and retrieve that guy's cap that's blowing right towards me thereby slowing me down again, or do I say screw him, I've got to make up some time.  Well, let's just say there's probably some homeless guy down by the river who has a warm head now.  The rest of the race was unmemorable other than I did more passing than getting passed, and I finished in a disappointing official time of 28:46.  I was shooting for sub 28 minutes.

I planned on hanging around long enough to eat more food, and catch the results.  I was in a little bit of shock when the results were posted.  My name was on the first page of results.  Turns out I did well enough to finish 37th out of 687 runners, and bring home a 3rd place age group award.  I've never placed that high before in anything over a 5k.  I've done some race timing for the race director, so when he called my name for the 3rd place award, he had to mention to the crowd that I didn't even have to fix the results.  I'm sure no one else there knew what he was talking about, but he thought he was being funny, so it was more of an inside joke I guess.

Age Group Award with Shirt Logo Backdrop

My New Hamstring Fashion Accessory

My left hamstring was a little tight before the race, and afterwards it was worse, so now I've got a compression sleeve to wear on my leg for the next few days.  Hopefully with a little TLC it can feel normal again within a week.

A footnote on that guy's cap I failed to get:  Now that I have you thinking I'm an A**Hole, or as self-centered as Paris Hilton.  He was close enough to me when he lost it that I didn't have time to react and grab it, but I did try and stop it with my foot.  He didn't attempt to turn around or come back for it, so I kinda just kept going, but not without feeling bad for the next mile that I didn't have better reflexes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Trot

I'm standing in my closet the Saturday morning of the Wichita Turkey Trot staring at my shirts.  Which one to wear?  Such a tough decision.  Do I go long sleeve, or short sleeve?  Dark color or bright color?  Am I starting to sound female yet?  It can be a tough choice, picking out the right outfit for a race.  My main holdup is always trying to predict what the weather will be like in a few hours time, and how much will I sweat.  For the Turkey Trot, I went on the warmer side and picked out a long sleeve shirt.

I didn't do myself any favors leading up to race.  I added about 4 pounds since my marathon the previous month, and the night before, my wife made burritos for dinner.  I suppose I could've made my own high carb dinner, but I love my wifey's flavor of burritos.  Nevertheless, I've got my sights set on a PR.

I felt pretty good as the horn went off.  The first couple miles always seem so effortless.  As I got to the second mile, my friend Julie Campbell caught up to me.  She said she was treating this as a training run for the Memphis marathon in a few weeks, and she planned on an 8:00 pace for the Turkey Trot.  I informed her that her pace was about 45 seconds fast, but she was feeling good, so we ran together and chatted a bit over the next 2 miles.  Eventually I pulled away from her as she wasn't wanting to over do it.  The race is a "down and back" so I first get to see all the runners ahead of me as they head back, which was a little depressing, but then after turning around I got to pass the other runners and give occasional high 5s to the ones I knew.

Even before the turnaround, this race was getting tough.  My heart rate was hovering around 90-95% of max. so it kinda felt like a 5 or 10k, but lasting longer, and there was a bit of a head wind in the second half.  Despite all this, I was able to maintain my pace.  My legs were feeling fine as they were in marathon distance shape, but the cardio was my limiting factor.  In the last 5 miles there was only one guy who passed me about mile 7, while I passed a whole bunch of runners, picking them off one by one until I got to the home stretch.  Despite my last mile being a negative split, who should surprise me from behind with an encouraging word and out kick me to the finish but Julie herself.  She set an over 40 PR and took 1st place in her age group as a result of feeling better on race day than planned and giving into that competitive drive.  I too set a PR, finishing in 1:12:55, although the official results show me crossing in 1:13:05.

Afterwards, I partook in a turkey brat, and visited with lots of friends until I got to the curfew my wife set for me (she knows my ability to socialize and she had plans that afternoon).

My Turkey Trot Stats
Overall Place99/873
Age Group.7/49
Finish Time1:12:55
Average Pace.7:16

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trying to Build Some Momentum

It's already been a couple weeks since I last posted, and I find myself being drawn to the keyboard for some blogging, even though I haven't run a race or had a major breakthrough in that time.  I do, however, have a small list of things to talk about.  Note of forewarning:  I will probably be playing my 'engineer' card from time to time meaning I'm to be known more for my math skills than my writing skills, so bear with me while I try to move from thought to thought.  I'll try not to use nerdy words like 'binary', 'algorithm', or 'cantilever', as in "My leg accidently cantilevered over the curb, as I adjusted my pocket protector on my last run".  But I digress...

Wednesday I signed up to run the 10 mile Wichita Turkey Trot.  I've ran it for the last 5 years, and I'm pretty sure I can PR this badboy since I just set a marathon PR.  Hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I think I can sustain a sub 7:15 pace if the conditions are good.

I'm starting to get psych'd up for a string of PRs.  One reason I'm in a position to PR is the mileage I've been running this year.  I've already surpassed last year's total mileage, and today I eclipsed the 2000 mile mark for the first time, which has always been a target.  I guess I'm due, I've been at a plateau the last couple years (with no PRs) starting with a minor overuse knee injury, and it looks like I'm finally breaking through.  Speaking of mileage, here's my stats for the week:
11/8/2010 Weekly Mileage
Mon.28.75 min/mi
Tue.12intervals 10 x 1 mi
Wed.78.4 min/mi
Thur.107.6 min/mi
Fri.78.4 min/mi
Sat.13incline 1% - 8%
I'm pretty happy with a 51 mile week considering I didn't have any runs of over 13 miles.  That 2 miler on Monday looks a bit out of place.  About all I can say in my defense is the YMCA turned into social hour that morning.

I just got through reading August's issue of 'Runner's World'.  I know I've been slacking a bit to just be finishing the August edition, but hey, I've got a wife and 3 kids who like to spend time with me when I'm not running or working, or at least that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.  One RW article reviewed different compression socks.  I've never owned a pair, and I am skeptical whether they would make any difference, but it seems people swear by them.  Earlier this week after my 12-miler, my left calf felt real tight, and while more running didn't make it worse, it took a few days to go away.  I'm actually thinking about investing in some compression socks now.  If these socks really improve performance and recovery, maybe Trojan should set aside some R&D funds...  ha.

I will leave you with some running demotivational posters I've collected from the net.
This is a normal occurance for me.

Not a normal occurance for me.

Do age group victories count?

I think this guy needs a better attitude.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monster Bash 5K Dash

This weekend was the Monster Bash 5K Dash at Wichita's North Branch YMCA.  I got there an hour and a half before race time, not to run it, but to help time it.  This year I started helping the local race director, Clark Entz, time races once he got an electronic chip timing system.  I've been saying for years Wichita needs to get into the 21st century and start chip timing. 

Background Info:  The Easter SunRun 10k/2M back in April was the first local race to use chip timing.  Not only was it new to us, but the technology was new to the country.  We use the BigTags which are disposable chips stuck to the back of the race bib numbers, and it was so new that the manufacturer had to loan us the prototype hardware since the manufactured versions were not yet available.  One reason it took Wichita awhile to get chip timing was the expense.  A basic system costs between $20,000 and $30,000.  When Clark first announced he needed someone to setup and operate the chip timing system, I jumped at the chance to combine 2 of my interests, running and computers.

Back to the race...  I like the different perspective working the finish line gives me.  For one, I get to meet people I normally wouldn't.  A couple came up to me and asked if I would take their picture in front of the finish.  I found out they were from Orlando, Florida.  They actually said they were enjoying our weather.  How many times have you heard someone from Florida compliment Kansas on our weather?  Another lady came up and was wanting advice on glucosamine suppliments.  I also got to chat with a few friends, one of whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years.

Besides running into friends I know, I met a fellow blogger for the first time.  Lacy's is one of the first running blogs I came across on the world wide web.  One of the reasons I started my own blog was to connect with other runners, so when I somehow recognized her through the costume she was wearing, I had to introduce myself.  I was a bit surprised when she recognized me too.

My morning ended by tearing down and packing the equipment away after which one final 5k participant finished the race.  Notice I said participant, because I'm not sure the terms runner, jogger, or even walker would quite apply.  Ok, I'm sure she walked, but she finished in 1:24:15 for an average pace of 27:07 minutes/mile, a full 24 minutes after the next to the last place person.  I'm not singling her out because she was slow, or obese, or lied about her age (21 my ass).  Congrats to her for going 3.1 miles.  I'm only mentioning her because she insisted we manually access the computer file after the fact and add her to the results.  Again, I can understand most people who sign up for a race wanting to see their name/time in the results, me included, but I would think someone finishing in that time frame to be a) not caring b) just trying to get some exercise c) embarassed to come in last.  One thing that didn't suprise me about her was when she asked where the post race pancakes were.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Counting Calories

It's been almost a week since my marathon success.  I might add I've had my share of epic fails in marathons too, so I'm relishing this one a bit.  I've already signed up for my next marathon, the Austin Marathon, next February 20th.

One reason I felt I did so well this time around was I shed a bit of weight.  I'm not talking a lot, but I'm about 5 pounds lighter than I was for my last marathon, and I've lost about 10 lbs. since July.  I had to brace myself for ridicule whenever I would mention my stricter diet plans because everyone else thinks of me as a skinny runner already, but I knew I had the weight to lose.  I also knew I would feel better, run faster, and run longer without getting injured as easy.  I've been told that for each pound of fat I carry around, I should add 2 seconds per mile to my pace.  Doesn't sound like much until you start adding it up.  Losing 10 lbs. would mean an automatic 20 second/mile improvement or a 9 minute improvement on a marathon time.

Over the Summer, I was at the point where I had gained a few pounds, and even though I was putting in 60+ mile weeks, I needed to change something to get down to where I had been several years ago.  My strategy was to count my calories.  The idea is if I consume less calories than what I burn, I will gradually lose weight, and that's what I did.  Counting calories didn't sound fun, and it seemed impossible to account for everything I ate, but I found a website that made everything bearable.

The website I used is called "" (there are others like it).  You can actually track quite a few things.  Besides keeping track of the food you eat, you keep a daily total of the calories you burn, and how much you weigh.  It has a database with foods to choose from, and if it's not in the database, you can create and store custom foods.  It also tracks the nutritional info of all the foods which I utilized some.  For instance, I could see how many of my calories were coming from fat, carbs, or protein.  From the Runner's World articles I've read, ideally 70% of calories should come from carbs, and 15% each from protein and fat.  I found that even though I tried to eat healthy, I was eating too much fat, up to 30% fat calories per day.

Here are some of my screen shots from to illustrate.

Foods and their calorie breakdown

Daily Activities.  You give duration, FitDay calculates number based on age, weight, sex.

Calories burned versus consumed.  Looks like I was a good boy that day.

Pie Chart showing distribution of calories

My weight chart from July to October.
Maybe this information can help another runner out there who is in a postion like I was.  Feel free to let me know if anyone finds this useful.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Marathon PR in 3 Years

I started the weekend by hanging out in the RunWichita booth for the marathon's expo on Saturday.  I got to see a few friends, and talk about running for a couple hours to get me psyched up for the next day.

My race day didn't start off that well.  I rely on my Garmin GPS watch for both pacing info and heart rate, but I didn't try turning it on until my wife dropped me off by the start, and sure enough, it was DOA despite charging it the night before.  Just my luck I use it 6 days every week and it chooses marathon morning to go tits up.  The silver lining is the next day I researched online how to fix it, and it turned out to be a simple solution, so at least I'm not stuck buying a new watch.

Despite freaking out that my little wrist computer was now just a decoration, I told myself I can still do this the old fashioned way.  I've put in enough miles that I can come pretty close to guessing what my pace is and should be.  Before I knew it, the inaugural 2010 Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon was under way.  My first mile was an effortless 7:57, but I knew that was a little faster than what I could maintain.  About that time I was figuring out almost every runner has a watch, I'll just start asking them for my splits.  As luck would have it, a friend from the YMCA found me about mile 3 and we ran together until mile 9 using his GPS for our timing.  At the halfway point, I was told we were an hour, 48 minutes and some change into the race.  I did the math, and figured if I could hold pace, I would love to run a 3:36 marathon, but in the back of my mind, I knew it would get warmer, and I would hit the wall at some point, but I thought a 3:40 PR was likely.  Once I was into the second half of the race, it seemed like I was passing everybody.  However, most of them were either the half marathon walkers, or the early start marathoners, but I was passing the regular marathoners too.

In the mean time, I recognized a couple ladies who were there cheering on a loved one.  I had met them the previous day at the race expo when they started a converstion with me about becoming a Juice Plus+ client of theirs.  I said 'hi' to them, and they remembered me and started cheering for me too.  Seemed like I would see them every 3 or 4 miles, and they would cheer for me every bit as loud as my own family was.  It was really nice to have the extra support there, even if they thought my bib number was $$$. (just kidding)

Turned out my idea of asking other runners for my splits wasn't working out, no one around me was running my same pace.  As I passed mile 18, I reflected that that was where I hit the wall in last year's Wichita marathon.  It wasn't until just before mile 25 that I had to fight hard to keep from slowing down, but by then I could start to hear the crowd and the announcer at the finish line and my adrenaline kicked me in the butt.  I crossed the line in 3:35:49, meaning not only did I run a negative split, but I PRed by almost 10 minutes!

Running down the home stretch.  That guy in blue had some nerve making me sprint after 26 miles
 As always, my family was there to support me, and I got to mingle with friends before, after, and even some during the race.

My final thought on the Prairie Fire 2010, is how much of an improvement it was to year's past.  First of all, it's nice to have an expo like all other big races do.  Second of all, there was a lot more corporate support, and it showed at the finish line where I helped myself to free pizza, beer, doughnuts, hot chocolate, massages, and more.  This is also the first year they handed out "Finisher" shirts, and the finisher medals were a step up in quality too.  This race is going to grow year to year if they keep it up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Endeavor

I am excited to start a running blog about my experiences.  I told myself I would get the blog started before I run in the Wichita Prairie Fire marathon this Sunday, so here I am with 1 day to spare.  I'm really several years late, I've been running since 1999, and there have been lots of things to write about in that time.

I've had 2 long term running goals for awhile.  The first is to qualify for the Boston marathon, the second is to run 50 marathons in 50 states.  I'm nowhere close to either right now, my marathon PR is 30 minutes over what I need to get into Boston, and I've only ran marathons in 6 states.

I'm really getting psyched to run the marathon in 2 days, I think I have a shot at blowing away my PR of 3:45.  Hope I didn't just jinx myself by writing that.  I have boosted my training this year to include some 70 mile weeks, up from 40 - 55 mile weeks in years past.

The last thought I want to get across on my very first blog entry is that I believe anyone who is uninjured can run/walk a marathon if they put their mind to it.  Case in point.  I didn't know I was going to run my first marathon until a week before the race when some friends from work invited me to run it with them.  Up to that point, I had never even ran more than about 2 miles at one time in my life.  Now, I wasn't a couch potato either, I played basketball 3 times a week over my lunch hour.  But 26 miles did sound like a long way, so I told my friends I would try to run 6 miles that night and see how it went.  Turns out I wasn't able to run the full 6 miles without taking some walk breaks, and I was a little sore/tight.  However, I rationalized that I could manage to do 4 times that distance, so I signed up for the race just wanting to finish.  Everyone at work thought I was crazy for trying to run a marathon with basketball as my only qualification.  The next weekend I got to the starting line in my $16 pair of Walmart tennis shoes, and to cut to the chase, finished in 5 hours 8 minutes (and I beat the 3 co-workers who talked me into it).  Anyway, I tell that story from time to time to try and encourage others to give that distance a shot.