Posts Tagged ‘marathon running’

5:50 a.m. and the alarm clock sounds.  It is a holiday weekend, but for a distance runner in Texas this time of year, there is a price to pay for sleeping in.  Even at 6:00 a.m. the temperature is already a steamy 77 degrees.  We have a 12-mile long run on the schedule hanging on the door of the “magic fridge” and this is not a run to skip.  So I hop out of bed, get Kayla started with her first trip outside of the day and her treat and get ready to knock out one final run.

20 weeks ago the Run for Dom training cycle began with a 3 mile run on December 28th in 32 degree temperatures.  83 Runs, 47 triathlon bike rides, 1,293 training miles, 1 half marathon, 2 full marathons, a mile race and $27,292.74 dollars raised for Dom’s family had been achieved up to that alarm clock going off.  All that was left was my final 12-mile training run. 

Run for Dom 2 Marathon/2 Week Training Plan

“12” is the distance that I like to run 4 Sundays after a marathon letting me know that my body is recovered, my fitness level is sound and I can basically go anywhere I want from here.  Another Marathon?  I could be ready in maybe 8 weeks.  A half-marathon?  No problem, is there a race next weekend?  Time for some speed training?  Hills?  Tempo Runs?  It’s all in play as essentially I am ready to ramp either up or down from that 12-mile distance.

Final 12-Miles

Sunday’s run was uneventful on a hot Austin morning.  I made sure to bring my hydrabelt with me topped off with two 10 oz. water bottles.  Over the course of 90 minutes and 59 seconds I would drink both bottles and still lose 4 lbs. according to my bathroom scale.  It was hot out there – but it felt great to let the miles tick by and think a bit about all of the ground we covered in the last twenty weeks. 

The last 5 months was a pretty remarkable “run” for sure.  Sunday’s run was a fitting workout, both enjoyable but very challenging at the same time due to the elements.  We mixed in some hills to make it tough at the end – just the way I like it.

I was hoping to come in right at 90 minutes (7:30 pace) this morning – but as the hills and heat started to get to me, I decided to slow my pace a bit and enjoy the final 5 miles of the run.  No sense to push pace just to post a 7:30 this morning, 7:34 would do just fine.  Monday (Memorial Day) will be a true rest day for me – no running, no cycling – possibly a strength training session – but no cardio work.

There will be one more task on the to-do list however, and that is to map out the next 90 Days of training.  We’ve got three weeks until the Holland, TX 5K on June 19th – which will be a race we take somewhat seriously.  One year ago I was able to set my PR at the 5K distance and take home my first (and only) first place age group trophy of my running “career”.  It was a hot, hot day last June when I was able to post my 19:43 time and I am hoping that training in these hot conditions the next three weeks will again prove to be helpful come race day.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be dedicated to tempo work and hill repeats during this next 90 days, with a “Naked Wednesday” run stuck in the middle.  Saturdays will be an “easy” day – maybe just 5-6 miles with my Sunday runs alternating between 8, 10 and 12 miles throughout the summer months.  These next 90-days will also map out the remaining time Dawn and I have left awaiting the arrival of our daughter Landry.

Sure to be an exciting time for both of us – although I’m sure Dawn was wishing this final trimester was not going to be full of 95+ degree days.

Finishing off Sunday’s final Run for Dom workout was bittersweet.  Normally I like to immediately cross off a tough workout as I grab my water bottle out of the “magic fridge” when I get back home from my run.  But I let the final square go “uncolored” throughout the day Sunday as a reminder that we still have some unfinished business when it comes to our Run for Dom goals. 

Yes we reached our fundraising goal through the help of a lot of amazing friends both old and new – but our true goal, our credo if you will, was to “Kick Cancer’s Ass 26.2 Miles at a Time.”

As Dom prepares for another round of chemotherapy this Wednesday, it is clear that we haven’t quite gotten there yet.  So for now we’ll leave that final square on our RFD schedule clear.  We’ll have plenty of time to fill that one in later, when we’ve made it all the way to the end.

One Run To Go

26.2 – It’s been two weeks now since we’ve seen each other.  I’ve had some time to reflect on our relationship and come to a conclusion about us.

Even when you and I are apart, I still think about you.  It happens on early morning runs sometimes when I let my mind wander or when someone asks me if I am a runner.  As much as I want to say “yes” to such a simple question, I find myself replying that “I am a marathoner” instead.  You’ve become a part of who I am and as much as I’d like to say I have you out of my system – I know I am kidding myself.  The fact of the matter is you are not going anywhere, and neither am I.

The way I see it we still have some unfinished business.  A score to settle if you will.  I’m going to be taking the rest of 2010 off from our ongoing battle to tend to some big things on my end, becoming a Dad for the first time.  But I just wanted to let you know that you haven’t seen the last of me yet.

Back in 2006 I thought that I was ready for you and all the challenges that you brought with you to Philadelphia.  I trained for more than six months and showed up confident, although a bit gimpy from a training injury.  You owned me that Sunday.  As the miles continued to build my inexperience showed.  You toyed with me through the first half of the race, but once I hit the river and approached the mid-way point of the course I knew I didn’t stand a chance. 

You made only one mistake that day, and that was you didn’t break me completely when you had the chance.  I limped home on an injured IT band in 3:58:08 – just under the 4:00:00 mark. 

You left me just enough hope that with hard work and more experience I could give you a fair fight.  In November of 2006 our scorecard read:

Marathon 1, Joe 0

I took most of 2007 getting back to full health and trained harder and smarter in 2008.  I decided to fight you on neutral ground at Pittsburgh in May of 2009.  I was a nobody that day.  Bib number 2506, hidden in a pack of thousands of marathoners.  You never saw me coming at you that morning and you paid the price. 

Quite frankly you didn’t have any answers for me that Sunday in May.  Bridges, Hills, Rain, Wind – you tried them all and I kicked your butt to the tune of a 3:17:43 and entry into the greatest marathon of them all, Boston in 2010.

Marathon 1, Joe 1

In April of this year we met again in Hopkinton.  You tried to trip me up with a training injury in December, but frankly I had too much at stake to let it bother me.  We were running for a cause this time around – and even though we had a return match just 13 days later, I didn’t hold anything back.  It was a fair fight and I wanted to see once and for all who was better.

Frankly it was you who surprised me at Boston.  I had heard your hills were tough and that you deceived a lot of runners with your downhill start to the race – but experiencing it for the first time was really something.  We fought it out over 3:22:43 and as much as I hate to admit it – you got me again.  I could make excuses about the late starting time, the 1,600 miles I traveled to our fight or the fact that I “didn’t have it” that morning.  But it’s my fault for bringing a knife to a gun-fight and you frankly kept me from achieving my goal of 3:20:00 fair and square.  Good for you.

Marathon 2, Joe 1

Which brings us to our return match in Pittsburgh two weeks ago.  I know you showed up with a lot of confidence that with only 13 days to prepare you were going to take me down once and for all. 

You played the weather card again, dumping a rain storm, heat and humidity on me for more than three hours.  But regardless of what you think about my finishing time – I beat you.  My goal was simple – to finish that race with a smile on my face and honor my good friend’s battle with cancer.  I was the hands down winner on Sunday – just ask anyone who was there to witness it.

Marathon 2, Joe 2

So here we are my “frienemy” – after four battles we’re all even 2-2.

I’m going to give you some time to regroup and think about how much you really want this next shot at me.  It may be that we finally meet here in Austin, TX – on my homecourt.  Or maybe you’d like to try to take me down once and for all at the scene of your greatest defeat – Pittsburgh.

The next time you see me I’ll have another person rooting for me as my daughter witnesses her very first marathon.  I hope you don’t think for a second you stand a chance.  So enjoy yourself for the rest of 2010, but don’t get too comfortable.  You’re going to look up one day soon and I’m going to be there gunning for you.  You better pack a lunch, because it’s going to be a battle.

A week ago Sunday I was heading into the final mile of my 12-mile long run when one of my all-time favorite songs (running or otherwise) greeted me on the footbridge near my home – Springsteen’s Born to Run.  After my run it got me thinking about a new playlist for the Boston and Pittsburgh Marathons – we even took some requests and got a few recommendations in the comments section on the blog:

I have always trained to music and really enjoy it.  I currently have 1,044 songs in my iTunes library with 15 different playlists that I rotate around between my long runs, tempo runs, speed work or recovery runs.  In fact over the last 5 years of running essentially 5 times a week there have been fewer than 10 occasions where I did not run while listening to music. 

Philly Marathon 2006

My first marathon at Philadelphia in 2006 I ran without music.  I remember running my final 20 mile training run before Philly without music to simulate race conditions.  On a fishing trip with a friend in 2007 we decided to knock out a quick 5-miles and did so talking and chatting.  And over the years I’ve had a few occasions where on the road I forgot my Nano or experienced a technical difficulty with my charger or earphones.  That’s it.  1,300 runs +/- and all but 10 of them I’ve been jamming to more than 1,100 hours of music.  I would say that places me firmly in the “Run with Music” camp of distance runners.

There are a lot of runners who really would rather hear the world around them when they are on the road or trail and do not train with music.  That’s what is so great about the sport of distance running; everyone finds their own solitude in a different way.  Whether it is chatting with their running club friends, listening to their feet pound the pavement or rocking out to Bruce and the E. Street Band.

But last week when I was reading through some postings on Daily Mile there were quite a few runners that cited the reason that they did not run to music was they could not find a comfortable and/or affordable set of ear buds that would stay in place.  So they simply ran without.

Like most things that I learned about running and specifically running equipment, I learned about earphones through trial and error.  But about 3 years ago I stumbled upon a set of earphones that worked so well and have become so comfortable – frankly it never occurred to me to share them with everyone.  So if you have been looking for a new pair of ear buds or are simply thinking about giving running with music another try – I wanted to introduce you to the Arriva line of headphones.

The Arrivas were originally designed for snowboarders and rock climbers who needed headphones that would not move around.  They are constructed from a zig-zag wraparound wire that clings to your head like “tentacles”.  The ear phones are completely flexible and soft but at the same time just rigid enough to keep light pressure on your head so they stay in place even at a full out sprint.

If you can imagine a tension like mechanism with “memory” that is how the earphones are constructed.  The ends loop over the tops of your ear and down into your ear canal with three different sized soft-plastic buds that you can switch out for the best fit.  I use the largest bud inserts and once I work with a new pair for five minutes or so to get the fit right I do not have to mess around with them again unless I pack them up for a trip or they get stretched back out due to me taking them on and off.

The sound quality is good to very good compared with other ear buds I had tried in the past and the wired version costs just $19.95.

Another feature I like is that the cord comes straight down the middle of the back of the ear phones – keeping it from swinging around in front of me interfering with my arms or my water bottles during a long run.  To me this is honestly a 5-star product:

It looks as if they have actually started producing a “wireless” version of their ear buds to work with the iPod Shuffle.  I am still running with my trusty Nano – so I have not made the switch over to the wireless model – but if they function anything like the wired version – it should be a two thumbs up product as well.

I have gotten about 9 months out of each pair I have owned before I’ve had any issues with a short in the wire or a bad connector.  Traveling and packing the earphones for work trips close to 25 times per year as well as my high running mileage I think categorizes me as a “hard user” of their product.  But even if I replace the product slightly more than once a year on average – I couldn’t be happier with the performance and value.

Arriva Ear Buds in Action - Austin 3M Half Marathon

I am really struggling to decide whether I will run with music at Boston or decide to go without.  Part of me would like to really soak in every mile of that race and hear everything going on around me.  Another part knows that I am so accustomed to running to my own beat I may miss it along the course.  I may just split the difference and run at a greatly reduced volume.

Boston had been a goal of mine since 2007 – somehow I think that missing out on even one shout of encouragement from the crowd or one sound from the course will take away from the experience. 

That said somehow it doesn’t seem right not to carry along with me the people I’ve spent so much time with over the years training like Bruce, Clarence Clemons, The Clash, Green Day, Eminem, The Smithereens, The Replacements and The Ramones … seems a little unfair, shouldn’t they get to run Boston as well?