Friday, January 7, 2011

Uggghhh-da running in the winter in MN

The perfect storm has settled in on me against getting my deserved miles: My travel schedule to warm climates is at a standstill and this winter has been absolutely miserable. I actually dont mind the cold... it's the blistering wind that chaps my face in seconds and ice all over the road. I end up running slow, risking injury and not enjoying one minute of my run.

Fortunately, I've been able to successfully move it indoors. It wasnt easy, but I've found some hidden benefits:

1) Company. All year I try to make it a habit to plan runs with a partner, especially long runs. You're less likely to miss a run and you're more likely to stick it out to the end. Running on the treadmill gives you the advantage of running alongside runners that you otherwise would not be able to. I run with a Boston qualified fella that has a tendency to push me when I need it. He can run 7 minute miles while I'm running 9:00 and he never pulls ahead. It also gives you a chance to pay it back a little as well. I see beginners that could use encouragement all the time... It wasn't too long ago when I was struggling to make a mile in 12 minutes.

2) Hill training. Last year when I was training for the twin cities marathon, I was doing quite a bit of work in Seattle. Every run was a hill run. This year I'm in MN where the highest elevetion is the freeway overpass. A treadmill gives you the unique advantage of setting a fixed percentage of your run going up and (if its a good treadmill) a fixed percent coming down. I find that even running a few miles with eleveation at 1 is helpful in  adding endurance.

So I'll continue indoors until the weather warms up a little. At least until the roads a little less trecherous. I have 3 weeks before I start my Grandmas marathon training which I intend to do entirely outdoors!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sock Giveaway

Stacey is giving away a pair of recovery socks. Check it out. I didnt know this type of sock even existed, so I'm pretty intrigued!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Running the planet

Running is one of those sports that you can take anywhere. Which is great because I do travel a bit. I make it a point to run everywhere I go. What a great way to experience the world.  I've picked up a few things along the way that are helpful and other things that are just plain fun:

Buenos Aries, Argentina:  Running in South America is amazing. Period. I usually run in the morning before things get started. In Argentina, this just means that I'm up before MY group gets started… but there is a whole world of people that are up at 5:00 am like it’s the middle of the day. Taxi drivers standing around, bread makers filling the streets with warm smells of fresh pastries, it's invigorating.  I ran out on a narrow fishing  pier that extends 1/2 mile out into ocean.  When I reached the end I stopped and looked out for a while, thinking : "the next piece of land out there is the south pole".  I've had similar experiences in Mexico City and Panama. If you never make it there, the Cuban section of Miami will get a good South American buzz going.

Sao Paulo, Brazil: This was a bad idea. Don’t do it. Stay alive instead.

Mumbai, India: Do not attempt to run anywhere in Mumbai without a GPS. You may find yourself saying: " if I just go East, I'll eventually reach the ocean".  India is a life changing experience.  If you want to see life at its most vibrant, get out of the hotel, the meetings, the restaurants, and go see life where it happens. Fortunately, in India, that is in every nook and cranny of the city. As far as big cities go, it is relatively safe due to the huge impact peaceful religion has on 99% of the population.  It's impossible to describe so I'll do it this way: Imagine running. You're smelling spices that you've never smelled before. You're seeing colors that you've never seen before. You see buildings that are more ornate than anything you've ever seen in styles that you can't imagine. The whole time you're dodging traffic, children playing, sleeping animals, and religious processions.  Don’t expect a good run, don’t bother timing yourself, but expect an experience that you'll never forget.

Athens, Greece: Sorry, it's impossible to run in Athens. If you do, then you're neglecting more important things in life like wasting away on the islands.  I tried twice but was to distracted by looming 3000 year old structures on mountains everywhere around me.  The only way it was possible for me to get any mileage in was the hotel gym without distractions.

Next: Rome. This May I will be in Italy a month before Grandmas Marathon in Duluth. I'm mapping out 13-15 miles through the ancient city. Given my past experience, I fear that I'll get distracted. I look at it this way: If running can get my butt out of bed and get me deep into the subculture of a city enough for me to get distracted be something I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced… Isn't that the point?

Monday, November 1, 2010

This week in running..

After runnung the Twin Cities mararthon, a few people have told me that they wanted to run as well. I guess if I can run any distance at all, then anybody can run! The greatest post run treat for me was Sarah announcing to me that she started running a little at work. Awesome. Nothing would make me happier than to go for a healthy, constructive, activity with my family instead of a going out for bad food... or spending money on junk toys.

So I tried to convince my boys that running was fun. No luck. Saturday morning I tried a different angle: medals. The thought of winning a medal struck my 7 year old Christopher. Once he gets set on something there's no stopping. We all got up early on a cold October Saturday and drove to the starting line. The race was a 1/2 mile kids run prior to a small town 5k. My 9 year old decided he wanted in as long as he was going to be there.

We signed the boys up and they gave us their finisher medals ahead of time. I told them that they didnt get them until they finished. They were getting excited! About 50 kids joined the race. Ready, set, go! They used a real starter gun (which may have been the highlight for Christoper). 1/4 mile out and 1/4 mile back. They started off together, but I could only see Jonathan coming back. Jonathan finished number 8, which he blamed on his shoes (Having an excuse for your poor performance makes you an official runner in my book). Christopher was walking back because he was bored, but as soon as he saw mommy, he sprinted into action.

The race is over right? Nope Nicky, the 4 year old, after seeing his brothers insisted that he wanted to win too. Even though he wasnt a sanctioned participant, I ran with him down to the end and we came back together. As he crossed the finish, Jonathan took his medal and put it on Nicky and said "you won, you won!". It was great to see that come out in him. As tempted as I was to join the 5k for fun, I wanted to keep that day about the boys. I hope that it sticks!

As for me, I ran 6 miles yesterday nice and slow. It was terribly hard, but hopefully it was the kick I needed to get back into a training schedule and out of recovery. So this week is the beginning of my tougher training schedule. We'll see how it goes!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting Started

...To the running blog. I'm chuckling because I don't consider myself a runner, despite the fact that I've run more than 400 days out of the past two years. The beginning of the blog is because I've come to enjoy reading others experiences and they've become quite inspiring (like my friend Runner Girl). The beginning of the run... that's a longer story!

Get ready: Two years ago I was facebooking with some friends from the distant past... one of my old buddies was looking for someone to run some crazy distance with him. I couldn't run 1/2 a mile, let alone anything with 'miles' after it. I know because I tried. 1/2 a mile of downhill running a few weeks earlier, and I had to lay down and catch my breath.
I woke up the next morning feeling pretty pathetic. I decided I would see if I had anything left in me or if I was hung out to dry. I drove across town to join a 3 mile charity run/walk. I got there just before the start. I was so nervous... standing around with actual runners. Gunshot. Go. I was pathetic. I had to stop at least a dozen times to walk. I gave up at least 3 times... but since the course was around a lake, I had to get back to my car somehow. Near the end of the race, there were many people encouraging me on; ringing bells and and calling out my number. If you're not a runner, this is new to you. It was for me anyway. I was a little embarrassed and perplexed at the same time.
I could barely drive home, I was so hurt. The next day I just ached in pain. Now comes the conversion... I wanted to run again. Pick a goal; faster, longer, with more grace, with less pain, just go. Why? I had spent the past 10 years sitting in offices and airports and getting seriously out of shape. Could I actually lose a couple of pounds this way?

Get set: I told my friend Dave about how it went and that I had run about 4-5 more times since then. I challenged him to run, any speed, for a full 30 minutes. He, like I, didn't fully understand how hard it was to keep going for any length of time as we've gotten a little older. He called me 45 minutes later cursing my name. We set a date and I flew out to NY and ran 3 miles with him and his wife. I was wanted to come back and enter a run with him so I signed us up for Sarataga's First Night 5k in December. Something came up and I couldn't get out there, so Chrissy ran with him instead. I think that ended up being for the better because Dave and Chrissy became running partners, which is a priceless training help.
Now something you should know about Dave and I. Since I was 14 years old, he and I have come up with plans to do just about everything, from biking across the US, becoming ninjas, and no fewer than 50 business ideas to revolutionize life as we know it. So of course, we needed to blow this out of proportion too. When the ice melted and we came up with the Dave 500. We would encourage each other by racing to 500 miles. At 3 miles-a-pop, this could take a while.
It wasn't long before Dave was way ahead of me. Work, blah, blah, some excuse kept me from running consistently. To catch up I started running a little longer. After a few months of consistent running, I thought I might be able to run a half marathon. Training and completed this put me ahead by almost 100 miles. As I recovered and fell back to shorter runs, Dave picked up the pace and started running 5 times a week between 5-6 miles at a time.  At the end we were neck and neck. Dave won achieving 500 miles to my 496.5 by running over lunch. BTW, Dave's a pilot, so running during lunch for him involves a change of uniform and passing through security... twice!

GO! After completing my half marathon, I thought I was done with any big distances. I was talking to my son about it who promptly asked... "you did half of it?". No, it was a big deal... it's just a measure of distance... Wait a minute. Yes, I just did half of something and I think I can do more. For the next 18 weeks I trained for the Twin Cities Marathon. Training was hard and every extra mile was a battle. I was travelling to locations with impossible hills and always on the road. It seemed that every time I was going out for my long run, I had to call my wife to pick me up. The morning of the race, I dropped from 245 lbs to 210. I felt like I was in great shape, but I was short on training. Despite running up to 30 miles per week, I had only run 15 miles for a long run.

Finish. The first 13 miles were easy. Seriously easy. I finished in 4 hours 33 minutes. It wasn't me though, it was the hype and the race, and the 300,000 people that showed up to the Twin Cities marathon to cheer and support every runner they saw. I hit a wall at 19 miles and the crowd carried me along. So here's to you 80 year old man with one leg running ahead of me, and to you soldier in full fatigues and boots carrying an MIA flag, to you little girl that told me I need the candy, to you stranger that offered me water from their own bottle, to you man who lost 140 lbs and survived quadruple bypass surgery, to you running buddies and work friends, to you Dave for bringing his family out to support the race, to my family who drove from spot to spot to give me a surge of energy, and to you Sarah, for taking double responsibility while I was out training, picking me up when I got stranded, for ignoring the first few rings to make me run a little longer, for telling me to go when I wanted to quit, and for giving up your birthday for a race day, ... to all of you, thanks for completing the run for me.