Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Great blog that (my wife shared with me) from the Weight Watchers CEO. In fact, most of his blog entries are fabulous. But, this one is definitely worth reading and sharing:
"Is all the joy in the world in an un-finished plate of food?"
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I was checking my fitness and food logs, today, and realized that I had forgotten to add in the Michelob Ultras that I drank while playing volleyball on Saturday night.
I was annoyed that I was going to have to add food to my log that I had forgotten when I suddenly realized what I had been doing while I was drinking those beers.
From 7pm until 10:30pm! That's almost 3 and a half hours! I estimated that with all our breaks I probably really only played for 2 full hours, but that's still 120 hours of volleyball that I could add to my tracker.
And it had been so fun that I didn't even think of it as exercise, so I hadn't added it to my tracker.
So, that means on Saturday I ran a half marathon in the morning and then played volleyball for at least 2 hours in the evening.
That more than makes up for the extra beer I added to my food log.
So, remember, if you make your exercise extra fun, you forget that it's even exercise.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Location: Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV
Race Coordinator: Calico Racing
Event: Running With the Devil 50M, Marathon, 1/2, 10K & 5k
Start Time: 6:30am
My Distance: Half Marathon
Weather: 85-100°F; very dry (below 10% RH)
Calico Racing specializes in putting on adventure races. These aren't your run-of-the-mill loops around a park or a trip around a few city blocks. Uh-uh. Their races are out in the wilderness in interesting locations with beautiful or different scenery. And of course, their races are always ultra friendly.
Running w/the Devil is purposefully scheduled for the end of June, close to the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. The purpose is to run in purposefully hot hot temperatures.
The race used to start at noon so that it was entirely run during the hottest part of the day. But, they've toned it down by pushing the starting times earlier into the mornings in the hopes of attracting a few more runners and also so that more runners actually end up finishing the race!
Last year I ran the 10k. This year I wanted to challenge myself by running the half, instead. Also, I had already finished 3 other races put on by Calico Racing in the last 12 months and if I completed 4 I would complete my Calico "Half Slam". This was also the last race available to complete my slam since their next is the ET race in August and would not only be too late, but would also be the same race I began my slam with, so it wouldn't count. So, this was my only chance to complete my half slam.
If you've been following my blog, you would know that I hurt my back two and a half weeks ago. Combined with too many days off since my last race in April, this race was going to be a challenge for me even without the possible extreme temperatures.
As of a week ago, the forecast for today was high temperatures around 106-110. So, this is what I had been preparing for.
I spent the last two weeks trying to get myself as acclimated as possible for the hot weather. It helps that I live in town and the temperatures have been in the 100's all week. So, I made sure to make multiple walks a day from my office to our other office down the street. I kept the a/c in my truck as low as possible (or off, if i could stand it) with the windows open while driving to and from work and around the town. Also, previous to hurting my back, I had done some runs with the local running club in the evenings when the temperatures were in the high 90's.
My plan for the race was to wear my camelbak (with 32 oz of Gatorade and 32oz of water plus ice) and include plenty of ice in the reservoir. I was going to wear a light gray cotton exercise t-shirt underneath a white tech-material running shirt; this way the cotton t-shirt would soak up my sweat while the white running shirt reflected the sun and wicked away moisture from my cotton t-shirt to help keep my core cool. I considered trying to find a running hat, but I didn't have time to look and hats also tend to make my head hotter, so I stuck with my Bondi Band sweatband.
With race time being 6:30, I woke up this morning at 4am and did some last minute carbo-loading. The day before the race I read up on some good carbo-loading techniques and decided to try them out. Lord knows I needed all the help I could get to finish this race.
So, last night I had 3 hamburgers and large fries from McDonald's. This was to help me carbo-load for my race, so there was no guilt or regrets.
This morning I ate a banana, a flour tortilla, and 2 pieces of toast, and drank a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade G2. 132 grams of carbs. The article I read on Runners World said to get close to 150 without stuffing yourself silly, so I was pretty close and I hoped that it helped.
There was no traffic on the way to the race - tho I did stop twice in Boulder City to use a restroom since I knew there would a line at the port-o-potty at the race.
I parked and got out of my truck almost right at 6am. I was hoping to get there closer to 5:45 to get my sunscreen on and soaked in well before the race, but 30 minutes would have to do. This was also probably the latest I'd ever arrived at a race. I am usually at least an hour early.
I applied my sunscreen and wondered if I should reconsider my decision to wear two shirts. I stuck with them and decided I could always take one off mid-race if I needed to. I took one last look at the temperature and it was right at 85 degrees which the race director had predicted for the beginning of the race. The forecast from a week ago was apparently a little high, tho, as this morning the forecast had been revised to a high of only 99. It was still going to be hot, but it wouldn't hit the 100's. That would make the race just a little more bearable. Of course, I didn't know that before the race. I only found out afterward.
This race was going to be a tough one even if I was healthy.
I took a little too much of my own sweet time getting my sunscreen on and checking out the awesome comments people posted on my SparkPage. I read them all in the truck as I got ready to race and they put me in a great mood to start my race.
The parking lot was close to the lake, but was deceptively far away from the start line which was further from the lake and close to the highway we were going to run on. So, it took a good 2 or 3 minutes to walk up from my truck to the starting line and I finally arrived with less than 10 minutes left. There was a line at the port-o-potties as I had figured, but it went fast enough for me to make one quick final stop before getting into the starting chute with just 3 minutes left. I didn't have to wait very long and before we knew it, we were off.
The beginning of the race is a two tenths of a mile uphill to the highway. The rest of the race is rolling hills with the highest being about a 250 foot climb. Nothing too steep, but very little flat land.
Since I was lacking in recent long runs (my longest since April 22 was just one 7 mile run. Other than that, I never ran further than 5 miles on any occasion other than one other 6 mile run) I decided my only real chance to finish this race was do some run-walking. There was no way I was going to be able to run the entire 13 miles. With some help from TRILLIUM22 and SEABREEZE62 from the SparkPeople Galloway Team, I had settled on a 3:1 run:walk ratio.
When I started out, I wondered if 3:1 was going to be too much walking and decided to try a 4:1. To make it easiest on me, I decided to a straight up 4 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking. I made sure to get my walk breaks in right from the start even though it felt odd to walk after only half a mile. After two 4 minute stretches of running, I hit the 1 mile mark and decided I needed to back off to the 3:1 ratio. 4 minutes was just a little bit too long and my back seemed to get the most sore in the fourth minute. On a positive note, tho, my back was only getting sore and not stiffening up. I figured if I switched to 3:1 I would have a better chance of keeping my back in shape.
Running 3 minutes and walking 1 seemed to work well. 2:1 might have worked better, but I decided to stick with 3 since I seemed to be doing well enough. Right when I would decide that I must have forgotten to hit the timer on my watch, I would look down and see that I had maybe 8 seconds left to run. Conversely, the 1 minute of walking always seemed to go by a little too fast.
After 3 or 4 miles, most of the people who were going to pass me had done so and I spent the rest of the race close the the same people as I would alternate passing them and them passing me at various intervals depending on the locations of the water stops and when or if they stopped to walk.
I knew Shrinkinrunner (Jodymarie) was also going to be running this race, so I kept an eye out for her, especially near the turnaround point. I'm pretty sure I recognized her somewhere between miles 6 and 7 and I yelled out "Good job, Jodymarie!" as loud as I could muster. Either it was her, or some other people are now think I'm a little nutso, yelling to an invisible friend.
One of the cool things about run-walking is that I was able to take pictures during the race. In a couple of my races I had tried to take pictures with my phone, but it was difficult and I would usually have to stop and walk, so I usually never bother. However, with regular walk intervals, I was able to takes some photos and text a couple of them to my wife (that is when I was in cell range; there are plenty of dead spots around Lake Mead). That was a new experience that I enjoyed.
A couple times I extended either my walk interval or my run interval when I was nearing a water station or wanted to take a certain picture, but for the most part I was able to stick to my 3:1 ratio pretty religiously. Only once did I end up forgetting to hit the timer on my watch.
Around mile 5 we started to see the lead runners passing us as they headed back towards the start line. From then on I tried to yell "Good job!" or some other sort of encouragement to as many of the other runners as I could. Many of them did the same to me. It was awesome.
For most of the final 6 miles, I kept passing and being passed by the same 4 girls who walked most of the uphills and seemed to be tiring. A few of my walk breaks put me right next to them on a few occasions and I encouraged them as best I could. They definitely didn't seem to really be prepared for the desert heat as they were not from Las Vegas. The rocky scenery and the blacktop can make any hot day feel 10 times worse. It may have been 95 for the last stretch of the race, but it was probably closer to 100 or 105 on the road surrounded by dark rocks that were also soaking up the heat from the sun.
In most of my training runs and races where I have worn my Camelbak, I usually take drinks from it at every mile marker. Since I was stopping to walk every 3 minutes, I took the opportunity to take a drink almost every time I stopped to walk right from the beginning of the race. I wanted to make sure I stayed plenty hydrated because if you don't start drinking from the start, if you don't drink enough and start getting thirsty, it's too late and there's no way to catch up on your fluid intake until the race is finished or you stop. I made sure to not only drink from my Camelbak, but I also took water from almost every water stop which were spaced out every 1.5 miles.
My hydration plan seemed to work great. Only towards the end did I start to feel my mouth start to dry out a just little bit, but my mouth stayed moist the entire time and I never ran out of saliva.
My legs were getting pretty tired towards the end of the race, but I knew I had plenty of energy left to finish and even run further. However, I decided that once I hit the 12 mile mark I would run the entire last mile. It ended up being pretty difficult since the last mile was mostly all uphill to the final turn before the final two tenths of a mile downhill to the finish line.
I had plenty of energy to run-walk the last mile, but running the entire last mile was a real stretch. With 100 meters of uphill left, I was passed by another runner who encouraged me as she passed. I was nearly drained and stopped to walk a couple steps, but I used those two steps to gather the rest of my strength and then get back to running with renewed determination and a faster pace.
I passed the lady who had just encouraged me - and she did so again as I passed her - and then I made it to the stop and slowly stretched my legs as I headed downhill to the finish. I picked up speed as my legs stretched out and the aching from the long uphill went away. I didn't get to a full-out sprint, tho. The downhill made me too nervous and there wasn't really enough space past the finish line to decelerate, plus, I was really pretty drained. I ran as fast as I could reasonably muster and then slowed down and stopped just past the finish line.
I had done it! I finished!
And to my delight, I finished in 2:27:55 according to my watch. I knew I was going to be slower than 2:15 and hoped to at least finish under 2:45 based on my training, the weather, and my decision to run-walk. Finishing in under 2:30 was a very pleasant surprise. Based on how I felt and how many runners it seemed were in front of me (and how slow a lot of them were running) I thought I was be lucky to finish under 3 hours! 2:27 was way better than I was expecting.
Around mile 3, my back was sore and I had worried it was going to tighten up on me, but it didn't. When I hit mile 5 I started to get more confident about finishing, but still felt slower and more tired than I usually do. I just made sure to keep up my hydration so that in the worst case scenario, I would at least be able to walk to the finish line under my own power for as long as I would need to. Once I hit the turnaround point, I was pretty sure I was going to finish with no problems and by the time I hit mile 10, I knew I had it in the bag as long as I didn't do anything stupid.
Since I was concentrating on timing my run-walk intervals, I wasn't timing my mile splits like I usually do. I did get my 1st mile split (10:20) and my 3 mile split (31:57), but it was too much trouble. I took another split at either mile 9 or 10, but I don't remember which it was. I'm pretty sure it was mile 10, tho (1:52:51). That puts my final 3.1 miles at around 34:51. So, I definitely slowed down a bit on the back half. Of course, the first mile was mostly downhill when I had the most energy and I was doing a 4:1 ratio, so it's not really that surprising that I ended up running slower than that.
So, here's what I learned and what I did right for this race:
1) Prepare for the weather - I definitely feel like I did a good job acclimating myself to the heat in the weeks before the race. It never really felt that hot, even when it was between 95-100 towards the end.
2) Dress for the weather - My cotton undershirt with a white tech shirt on top worked beautifully. Even at mile 10, the sweat on my cotton undershirt felt cool on my skin and kept me feeling comfortable in the heat.
3) Run-walk - After finishing, I can tell you there was no way that I would've been able to run the entire race. I would've slowed *way* down or ended up walking the last few miles or even the last half of the race.
4) Take it easy - With a long layoff and a tender back, taking it easy was the way to go. This was not a race to get a PR in, anyway, so that definitely helped. And even taking it easy, I surprised myself with a better time than I expected. I averages 11:17 per mile which is well below the 9:30 pace from my fastest race or even the 9:30-10 min/mile pace from my training runs. But, it was the speed I needed to run to finish and stay healthy.
5) Hydrate from the beginning - I made sure to drink between 64-100oz of water every day this week. On race day I drank 32oz of Gatorade when I woke up and drank 24oz of water from my water bottle on the way to the race, so when I started I was plenty hydrated. Then, with the extreme heat during the race, I made sure to take drinks from my Camelbak from the very beginning of the race and also make use of the water stops. At no point did I ever feel in danger of becoming dehydrated. I never stopped sweating and salivating.
After the race I stuck around longer than I have at any of the races I've been in so far. I had some snacks (banana and a bagel) and water to make sure I re-hydrated before I left. I didn't leave until after I had peed twice. I met the race director and picked up my Half Slam award (I'll post pictures below) and stuck around until after they posted our official chip times. My watch was off by a few seconds since it took a minute to switch from the countdown timer to the stopwatch. My watch said 2:27:55 while my official chip time was 2:27:46. I sat around drinking water and chatting with some of the other runners and volunteers before finally heading home and stopping for a well deserved lunch at Port of Subs.
Now that I've iced my back and finished up this blog, I think it's time for a nap.
Here are some pictures from my race:
Lake Mead (pre-race):
The Course (just past mile 4):
Almost to Mile 5:
View on the Return Trip:
Mile 8 (what a view!):
Almost to the finish (in the furthest grove of trees off in the distance (a little over a mile left):
Finish Line (came back and took this after I finished):
Calico Half Slam Award:
Tired, Hot... finished! (w/a chill towel):
Thank you to the kind souls who offered to take my photo for me!:
Final scenic self-portrait:
Friday, June 22, 2012
So, today I ran.
For 40 feet.
From the front door of my office to my truck... and then back.
It's the first time I've run in over two weeks.
Yeah, it's not a lot; however, I did so without any discomfort in my back. No tightening.
So, that is a positive.
I'm also thinking of going to the gym tonight to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes to stretch out my legs before my race, tomorrow.
And maybe I will run for a minute or two. Slowly.
Or maybe I'll just walk to the gym and back to get myself extra acclimated to the hot weather.
And then drink a big glass of water.
So, anyway, I've now run for 40 feet (approximately). How will that transfer to running 13.1 miles?
I'm going to find out, tomorrow!
I haven't been this nervous for a race since high school.
My freshman year we were running at Palos Verdes and they had this one super steep hill. All the upperclassmen on our team were exaggerating to try and freak out all the freshmen.
I was absolutely terrified to run and told my coach I didn't want to run because I was too scared of the hill.
First he told the upperclassmen to cut it out.
Then he told me to just go out and run. He told me it didn't matter how fast or slow I ran. All I had to do was go out there and do it. Just try to run up the hill. If I ended up walking, it didn't matter as long as I made it up to the top and then finished the race.
So, I did just that. I just ran. With no expectations.
I ended up running up that entire hill and every other hill on the course. It wasn't that bad. If fact, every year after that I looked forward to running on that course.
I had conquered my hill and my fear.
Now, I love hills. Why? Because they are easy? Heck no. Hills are hard.
I love hills because I love to conquer them.
When you let your fears hold you back, you will never conquer.
You never know what you can conquer if you never try.
Tomorrow I will run. I will finish.
I will conquer.
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