In Like a (Lame) Lamb

As previously mentioned, February wasn’t the best month, but it ended with a pretty enjoyable half marathon in Phoenix. Considering I had not run at all in the three weeks leading up to the Phoenix Half Marathon, I spent the first few days of March gimping around in abject misery, as if I had just run my first marathon.  I think I even felt better after that!

Now, five days after the race, my legs are starting to return to normal, and I can look back on the whole event without reaching for a hamstring or painfully massaging a quad…

The marathon and half have a pretty early start, but the race organizers decided it was best to have the busses to the start begin at 3:30 AM and stop running by 5:00 AM.  I boarded a bus at 4:00 AM, after getting up about 3:00 and driving from my dad’s house on the opposite corner of the valley.  After arriving at the start, I had a full 2 hours before the race started.  It seems to me that they might get away with moving that window of time for the busses a bit later – not that I would have gotten on a bus too much later.  And they definitely need about twice as many Port-A-Johns at the start.

Once the race finally got underway, I went out at a very leisurely pace.  Having just kicked a bad head and chest infection a few days before, and not having run for 3 weeks largely due to that, I really wasn’t too sure what to expect.  While a photo early in the race makes it looks as though I was having some kind of aneurysm, I was actually doing okay.

Phoenix Half early

I managed to tick off a few miles at a 7:45/mile pace – much faster than I anticipated going – but it felt fairly comfortable.  By the time I got to Mile 7, though, I was beginning to feel the lack of any training whatsoever, as well as the effect of the cold.  My head was getting congested and my chest was tightening.   About that time, we turned south and into a headwind, and that ticked me off.  It was really about the last thing I wanted to deal with so I did what anyone out of shape and suffering from recent illness would do…I tried to run faster.  For the next two miles, I pulled off a 7:40/mile pace, and then the wheels started to come off.

Shortly before the wheels started coming off.

Shortly before the wheels started coming off.

Running with about 85% of lung capacity isn’t really a recipe for success.  As I entered the last few miles, I struggled keeping my pace below 8:00/mile.  I didn’t want to completely blow up, but I knew that I could push through to the end.  Thankfully, a significant downhill stretch started around Mile 12.3, and I let my stride open up and “flew” down the hill. (I ran Mile 13 in 7:25 – a full 10 seconds slower than my target marathon pace for October).  At the bottom of the hill was a left turn toward the finish line, which was still a half a mile away.  I figured “what the hell?” and covered that stretch at around a 6:30 pace…and nearly collapsed after crossing the finish line.  Official time – 1:41:27…about 10 minutes off my PR. :)

Go Pokes!

Go Pokes!

FInisher!

Now that I’ve spent the last few days recovering, I am starting to set my sights down the road again. In May, I want to run the Colfax Half Marathon (through the zoo!), and maybe the BolderBoulder 10k.  The focus will be reestablishing my currently puny base, getting back into good running shape, and entering summer training in June ready to take it up a notch.  I seem to be injury free, and the most important thing I need to do is trim off a few pounds.  I am also thinking about going back to run this race again next year because I know that I could have crushed it had I been in race shape.

Plus, I kind of like visiting my dad’s place…

There are obvious other reasons to go back to run next year.

Categories: Training | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

My lost February

February started off with such promise.  A new legislative session was underway, which usually dominates my professional life and bleeds over into my personal life (especially my running time).  While my training had been merely maintenance over the previous weeks, I was looking forward to starting to dial up my training, including running a couple of half marathons.  In the very first week, I registered for what will be my tenth marathon.  I wanted it to be a “bucket list” marathon so I signed up for Twin Cities in October.  There is nothing more powerful than a goal.

The weather early in the month was ideal, other than spurring on the global warming hype.  There were days in the 70’s…in Colorado.  It was better than springtime running – because it felt like late summer or fall!  However, warm air in winter almost always comes at a price.  Sunday, February 8 was the first of the two half marathons, and while the day was unseasonably warm, there was a steady gale of about 30 mph – with gusts over 40 mph – descending on the valley from the mountains. This meant the first 7.5 miles of the Ralston Creek Half Marathon was a steady climb to the west into the teeth of the wind.



Nothing like a little 30+ mph headwind!



What was already a slow course because of the elevation game became a survival struggle.  I had to apologize to a fellow runner near the apex of the climb when a rather large blast of wind blew us to almost a complete stop. (“You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me!” I yelled at the elements) The strategy was basic.  Just finish.  And I did.  Slowest half I’ve ever run, and I was thrilled about it.

The first four days  following week was lost to my job, and left me to plan the two weeks following that for preparation for the Phoenix Half Marathon on the last day of  the month.  The last two days of the workweek were very long, intense days, and by Friday I knew I was catching a cold.

No problem.  In the rare instances when I do get sick, it is usually because I get run down, and it is usually nothing more than a minor head cold.  I always get my flu shot so I wasn’t worried about that.  However, by Saturday, I knew I was in for something much more significant…and then proceeded to spent Saturday – Wednesday barely making it out of bed or the couch.  While I never ran too high of a temperature, my head and lungs filled with crud, which finally led me to visit the doctor to rule out pneumonia.

While I made it back to work the last two days of that week, it took another week for me to finally feel well again.  Just in time to jump onto a plane and head to Phoenix!

So while I finished the month in a warm, (mostly) sunny place running a half marathon, previously hoping I might dial up a good effort for strong, late winter finish, I was instead left with the reality that it had been 20 days since I laced up my running shoes.  As it turned out, I was able to find a pace that worked for me, slightly faster than a long run workout pace, and I only struggled a bit in the last few miles.  I’ll take it – even though I knew that I could have crushed that course under “normal cirumstances.”  Maybe I’ll come back next February.



Maybe it is a bit of an overstatement to say February was “lost.”  I had a great month from a professional perspective, my lovely bride and I got to have an awesome impromptu date night before I left town, I’m got to see friends and family in Phoenix, and there was no snow..

Go with the flow, man.  Go with the flow.  There’s plenty of time left in the year, and the big target is on October 4.

Categories: Other stuff, Training, Twin Cities Marathon | Tags: , | 5 Comments

It’s all about the base

Damn you, Meghan Trainor

nrm_1405002775-meghan-trainor_all-about-that-bass_video-snapIt was on a run that I thought of this catchy blog title because I was thinking about all the work I have to do in the weeks ahead to establish the kind of base I will need going into full on marathon training in the summer.  “It’s about about having a good base,” I thought to myself…and then there was Meghan Trainor in my head singing it to me.  And now I hope I’ve passed the gift on to you, as well.  No trouble.  :)

All jokes aside, dialing up the kind effort I think I will need in October means putting in time now to reestablish the base that I once had.  My training philosophy goes something like this:

  1. Build up weekly mileage with a 2-3 shorter weekday runs (3-6 miles) at a comfortable pace and a long run on the weekend at slower pace.
  2. Once 30-35 miles per week is comfortable, then start adding speed.
    1. Speedwork/intervals once per week
    2. Tempo runs once per week
    3. Goal pace long runs at the end of recovery weeks (every 4th week)

For me, personally, it also means significant improvements in “daily life” things.  Since the beginning of the month, I have been making a significant effort to eat better and smarter, get more sleep, and limit alcohol. (I still love beer and I always will…but loving it all the time is never a recipe for success!)  I porked up pretty good after slowing up post-Wineglass Marathon last October, and now it’s time to pay the piper.  I still have some kinks in my legs and lower back to work out, too.

Oh yeah – I ran a race, too

No big deal, since I am not trying to break any land speed records right now.  (No chance of that, if I was.)  I ran the Yeti Chase 10k at Bear Creek State Park, and it was a bit of a grunt.  There was definitely some terrain, but it was a beautiful morning.  I got to park about 100 yards from the start line so that was pretty nice, as well.  I started out a bit faster than I should have, but it really forced me to work and clarified the massive gap that exists between present day and my 10k PR back in 2011, when I think I was in peak condition.

Early in the race so I wasn't sucking wind just yet!

Early in the race so I wasn’t sucking wind just yet!

Repeating history

I’ve done it before.  I looked back at some of my previous training cycles, including what I wrote about on this blog.  It really is mind over matter, especially at 5:00 AM when it is cold and dark outside.  Inevitably, I always finish those runs feeling good and telling myself to remember that when I think staying in bed would feel better.

So as January ends and February begins, I feel pretty good about where I am at – knowing that I still have a welcome effort in front of me.  In October, I want to run my best marathon yet.

For now, though, it’s all about the base…about the base…

Categories: Training | Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 minutes of fame

Kevin:

Family that lost $500 in Broncos tickets scam, receives the gift of a lifetime from another fan

Life is a pretty interesting ride sometimes!

My wife and I were just watching the news as I was updating my listing for my Broncos playoff tickets.  I am, ironically, travelling to Indianapolis for my mom’s birthday and can’t go to the game.  When I saw what this guy and his family had been through, it was pretty clear to us what to do.  I certainly wasn’t planning on TV cameras, but those were Jacob’s wishes and I didn’t want to disrespect that.  As long as someone else is inspired to do something good – and that everyone remembers to get tickets from authorized resellers as much as possible – then “Mission Accomplished.”

Go Broncos!!

Originally posted on FOX31 Denver:

[ooyala code=”Ruc2VucjqDVUq_n_1vQgXaBJzxNdXIqX” player_id=”47658b6fe4a043a48f5296392ce1db7f”]

DENVER — One Denver Broncos fan performed an incredible act of kindness and generosity Tuesday. It took place one day after FOX31 Denver reported about a local couple who fell victim to an online playoff ticket scam and lost $500.

A Good Samaritan who had his tickets for sale because he can’t make it to the game decided to give those tickets to the couple for free. He made the dream of a lifetime come true for the fans.

Kevin Bommer donated his tickets to Jacob Luna, who couldn’t believe his good fortune.

Bommer had his tickets for sale on an authorized site, which is actually a good way to find legitimate tickets.

Watch Julie Hayden’s video report above to see how Luna reacted when he received the tickets from Bommer.

View original

Categories: Other stuff | Tags: , , , ,

Planning for 2015

One of the most difficult things for me, as someone who likes to make a plan, and then see it come to fruition, is the occasional crushing disappointment that comes with a relative inability (at times) to “go with the flow.”  As I think ahead to 2015 and the things, I want to do, I am trying to embrace this conflict a bit more, rather than avoid it.

It is an incontrovertible fact that, for a great many things, “going with the flow” doesn’t cut it.  Planning for retirement, air travel, and most of what I do on a daily basis for my job serve as good examples. Waiting to see what happens in many circumstances makes you a victim of them, and then often ends up costing you more.  I am wired to plan, and I am not ashamed to admit it is because I want to control a predictable outcome.

This is the cross I bear…

My lovely bride serves as the yin to my yang, and I definitely want to do more to make her happy and less to disappoint her.  So with that in mind, I can be relatively confident that the plans I am making for 2015, which in this venue are almost exclusively running and fitness-related, will not conflict with her carefree, happy-go-lucky nature that can be both endearing and maddening at the same time.

Progress

I cannot look forward without a look back because 2015 is somewhat of an anniversary.  Ten years ago this year, I think I was just about at rock bottom in terms of life and happiness.  My first marriage was careening towards its eventual end, and I had reached a point in my health where I likely wouldn’t have had too many years left to be miserable.  I was nearly 240 pounds and my exercise regimen consisted largely of 12 ounce curls and straining to pull open the next bag of Doritos.  It was not a pretty sight.

2005 - Pushing maximun desnity

2005 – Pushing maximun density

What happened after that was something I wrote about in my very first blog, and for a few entries after that.  I got my s**t together, albeit with a few bumps along the way, and starting dropping weight.  I was challenged by others to run so I did, and my dad and I ran together in my first race after that.

First race. The Phoenix New Times 10k (Tempe). November 2007

First race. The Phoenix New Times 10k (Tempe). November 2007

Not too long after that 10k, I met my lovely bride.  In much the same way that I got my physical self back together, she was the one who really got me 100% back on my feet.  In 2008, she gave me an early birthday present – a Garmin Forerunner 305, which today would feel like a microwave oven strapped to my wrist. On March 29, I logged my first “official” run using it – a 3.4 mile run from home that I still remember today.  I was training for my second race, the 2008 BolderBoulder 10k, and was running religiously at this point.  I never really gave much thought to doing anything more than a 10k.  Who on earth would want to run farther than 6.2 miles???

Funny how that works.  I ended up running that and several 5k and 10k races over the months ahead.  When my bride and I decided to make it official (she lived in Seattle at the time…ask me sometime about long distance relationships) and she was to move to Denver in June 2009, we coordinated it so I could run my first half marathon – the inaugural Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Half.  It was the first of many sacrifices she has made for me to pursue an avid running schedule.

She still likes to talk about how when asked by her if I ever was going to run a full marathon, I told her I really didn’t consider myself a real runner and that half marathons were the most I would ever do.  She saw right through that, and 6 months later – nearly 5 years ago today, I ran my first marathon in Arizona.

First Marathon - 2010 Rock 'N' Roll Arizona.

First Marathon – 2010 Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona.

Planning marathon #10 and everything else

I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I can at least plan the next 12 months – as much as possible.  This year brings another milestone, in that the next marathon I run with be my tenth, and I want it to be as memorable as possible. The ultimate goal for 2015 is to run a PR and sub-3:10:00 marathon this fall, and I want to it to be the Twin Cities Marathon.

First things first, though.  For a lot of 2014, I referred to trouble I had been having with my running health, which I attributed to a lot of different factors. My PR at the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon took a toll, but there are a lot of other factors in play.  As I begin 2015, those have not necessarily been resolved and the price has been decreased running health because I ran very few miles after October.

To ensure I didn’t totally fold up like a paper airplane, I signed up for a winter series.  I ran a 5k in December, and there is a 10k at the end of this month, as well as a half marathon at the beginning of February.  I wanted to make sure that I had targets on the calendar to keep me focused on a goal and to make sure I didn’t totally slack off.  I also wanted to plan something beyond the winter series I signed up for to keep the train on the tracks.  That’s a good thing because the slowdown in activity, plus the joy of the holidays have conspired to set me back a little further.  Now I am “running heavy,” and will have to address that along with tackling other aches and pains that have subsided very little for over a year.

So here are the goals/races/plans in no particular order:

  1. Get my fitness house in order.  More cross training and exercises to balance out the imbalances in my body due to running being my sole activity.
  2. Triage on my training diet.  I used to have a good one – I currently do not.
  3. Yeti Chase 10k – January 25, 2015
  4. Ralston Creek Half Marathon – February 8, 2015
  5. Phoenix Half Marathon – February 28, 2015
  6. Attain my target training weight sometime during the summer months – 182 pounds.  I’m not going to disclose where I am at now, but let’s just say I have some work to do…
  7. Twin Cities Marathon – October 4, 2015.  Goal: PR, sub-3:10:00

It is an ambitious plan for me, but it is the right plan to get things moving back in the right direction.  Plus, the greater the challenge, the sweeter the reward!

MTCMOctober 4, 2015

Categories: Training | Tags: , , , , ,

Closing the Book on 2014

A memorable year

I haven’t written anything in my blog, since October, which is pretty reflective of the relative importance to running in my life since that time.  Back then, Gabriella and I had just wrapped up a wonderful trip to New York for the Wineglass Marathon and a whole lot of sightseeing.  I think my lowest mileage day might actually have been the marathon!  Indeed, I wrote back then “…I started “feeling my legs” way too early, and I knew I was in for a struggle in the last 6-10 miles. Indeed, by the time I got to Mile 20, my legs were gone.”

Following Wineglass, I let my miles drop off much for most of the rest of the year.  There were a lot of things I wanted to do with the rest of 2014, but my legs were pretty beat up and even 20 mile weeks felt like a struggle.  For the record, a lot of my problems are related to running being about the only impactful physical activity I do, and issues I have with my legs, lower back, and (occasionally) hips are related and could be addressed with some focused effort on some other activities to balance out muscle development. If I have any big plans for 2015 – and I sure as heck do! – then I have to change things up a bit.  No – I am not making that a New Year’s resolution.  (Sidenote: I think New Year’s resolutions are dumb. Anything worth resolving to do doesn’t have to wait until the beginning of the next year. Resolve can happen on any day of the year.)

Looking back at the end of 2013, I closed it out much the same way I am closing out 2014.  After the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October 2013, my miles dropped off quite a bit for the rest of the year. I knew I was beat up after that, but I also was able to celebrate a nearly-3 minute PR. This year’s marathon was about 14 minutes slower than that, after a mediocre summer training session and a whole lot of miles on our feet in New York City in the days before heading up to Corning, NY. However, I also know I was saying a lot of the same things I am still saying about getting some relief for my legs by strengthening other parts of my frame.  Oops.

Regardless of that, my Wineglass time should be plenty to get me into Boston 2016, which I definitely want to do because it seems so many of my training group is going to be there, as well.  That is in the future, though.  To dwell on all of that would be to take away from some great moments in 2014 in races and with my Runner’s Edge group:

Starting off the year with snow and pancakes.

January – Starting off the year with snow and pancakes.

I can't believe nothing froze up and fell off.

March – 2014 That Dam Half.  2 degrees. I can’t believe nothing froze up and fell off.

March – Most of my fun pace group.

April – 2014 Boston Marathon

 

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October – Wineglass Marathon. Corning, NY

 

December - Superior Stocking Run 5k

December – Superior Stocking Run 5k

Looking ahead

As 2014 closes, and I look forward to 2015, I will be getting back into a more regular routine again and hopefully addressing some of those things I know I need to work on.  The last 5k I ran earlier this month was part of series I signed up for to “help myself” make sure that I worked toward staying in a little better form than I might otherwise have done.  There is a 10k at the end of January and a half marathon two weeks later in early February.

By then, I want to have my legs back under me again.  I’ll be traveling to Phoenix at the end of February for a very quick trip and the Phoenix Half Marathon. This fall, I am going to run my 10th marathon, and I want the early part of the year to be a good springboard into the summer training season.  If I can get myself back into optimum running shape, I want to take another shot at beating my PR and getting under 3:10:00.

I have not yet picked my fall marathon, but I am 75% sure that it will be the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  It is on the marathon bucket list, and I definitely want #10 to be a memorable, as well as one with a favorable course profile.  I may need every bit of help I can get!!

Hats off to all of my running friends for all of your hard work and a great 2014.  Happy New Year!!!

MTCM

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Categories: Boston Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Other stuff, Twin Cities Marathon, Wineglass Marathon | Tags: , , , , , ,

Oct-GO-ber

Now that this month is winding down, it finally feels like I can maybe get caught up a little bit.  Quite literally and figuratively, I have been on the run for the entire month.

New York – Canada – Wineglass Marathon

I never did a race report for the Wineglass Marathon at the beginning of the month, but that happened after having done a lot in the four days before I even got to the start line.  (How that predictably affected my marathon will come up a bit later)

New York City (9/30 – 10/2)

My lovely bride and I landed in NYC in the late afternoon on September 30 and hit the ground right off the bat, spending our first evening out and about in Times Square. Having made it a priority and planned it a long time before, we spent most of our first full day at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum paying our respects and taking time to reflect on all that happened on that day and the days since.  The memorial, the museum, and the progress in retaking that ground with the Freedom Tower and other buildings is inspiring and impressive. We were pretty exhausted by the afternoon, mostly emotionally. That evening, we headed up Broadway to the Gershwin Theater to see “Wicked.”  It was a great show – surprisingly funny and the singing performances were quite good.

On Thursday, we took off on foot through Midtown, Soho, Tribeca, and the Financial District.  Initially, we took the subway from our hotel near Greeley Square, below Times Square, but it was a beautiful day and we wanted to see a lot of the city that we didn’t get to see in 2010 (when we were there for the NYC Marathon). That afternoon, we went all the way back up to the Upper West Side and spent a couple of hours on a CircleLine boat tour around Manhattan.  It was cool and blustery, by that time, but still a nice October afternoon.  After dinner we wanted to back to see the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower at nigh, which would have been great had we remembered that the memorial closes at 9:00 PM.  Still, we were out and about.  There are always things to see in NYC.IMG_4667IMG_4732

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Corning & The Wineglass Marathon (10/3 – 10/5)

On Friday morning, we made our way to the Upper West Side via an exciting NYC taxi ride, and rented a car to head to Corning, NY.  Usually, I am a freak-o about plotting out the route and knowing exactly where I am going, but I didn’t really do that this time.  I knew how we were leaving Manhattan and, generally, what interstate highways we would be on, but I never even bothered to look at which states we would be going through.  Anyone who knows me know this is highly unusual! So after crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania – my first time in that lovely state since 1991 (Gettysburg) – we passed through Scranton and stopped for lunch in Clark’s Summit at a restaurant that turned out to be where Pam & Jim of “The Office” had Valentine’s Day dinner in 2013.  Small world.

After a mostly scenic drive through PA and west through New York’s Southern Tier, we arrived in Corning in the early afternoon and drove through town.  That didn’t take too long.  It is not that big of a town!  After going back and getting settled in at the bed and breakfast I found online back in January (thank goodness – it was awesome!), we went back into town to the Corning Museum of Glass. That was the location of the expo, which may have been the most disappointing part of the entire experience.  I have been spoiled by that aspect of running in large events. They have race expos to match.

Saturday, we toured the museum, drove out to Bath, NY – site of the start line – and had some lunch before driving almost the entire marathon route back to Corning.  Except for the driving, I was on my feet entirely too much, especially after all the walking in New York City. We ended up going into town and finding a place that could get us seated in a reasonable amount of time and had a pasta special to boot.

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The marathon
Before a recap of my particular marathon experience, let me first say this about the Wineglass Marathon. It is a great event in a quaint, beautiful setting and offers a very scenic marathon route. In spite of being small, the crowd support was good, and the on-course support was as good as any marathon I’ve run before…and better than a few. However, if you are going to Corning, NY expecting a “big time” marathon and everything that goes with it, then you’ll be among the spoiled whiners that complain about it afterward. That does not mean there is not room for Wineglass to improve, but rather an equal amount of opportunity for people to be grateful for the effort that goes into putting on an event like this.

Wineglass increased the field size this year for both the marathon and half-marathon – 2500 and 3000, respectively, I believe. It is too many. The town itself has a difficult time with enough lodging and restaurants, but the start area of the marathon also suffers from limited pre-race shelter and amenities. However, once on course, there were never any crowding issues. It was wide open.

I had a both a good day and a very rough day. The good? I qualified for Boston in 2016 with over a two-minute cushion. I was aided by the fact that I’ll turn 45 in 2016 and needed a 3:25:00 to qualify versus the 3:15:00 I needed before. Originally, I wanted to try to PR this race, but it was clear by September that my training and my recovery, specifically, were not going well enough for that to be realistic. So I wanted to break 3:20:00, and that didn’t happen either.

Other than having to make an unexpected pit stop at Mile 7, the first 16 miles went basically as planned. However, I started “feeling my legs” way too early, and I knew I was in for a struggle in the last 6-10 miles. Indeed, by the time I got o Mile 20, my legs were gone, and I knew I was going to have to dig down to make it the last 10k. Short walk breaks at aid stations gave me some short-term recovery and allowed me to make it across the line, but it blew up my splits. I came in just over 3:23:00.

Or did I? According to my watch, which I started and stopped at or near the start and finish lines, respectively, I ran around a 3:23:35. However, according to the official timing, I came in nearly a minute faster. An alternate timing site (don’t ask me why there was one…Wineglass won’t answer my inquiries) reflected my finish time accurately, but that was not the “official” time and Wineglass claimed on Facebook and Twitter that the site had timing errors. Even when a number of others noted the same issue, Wineglass stuck with its story.

Why do I care? Any runner worth his or her salt is proud of what they have run and would not want to be part of cheating the system. I am stuck with the official time because that is what will be reported to Boston. However, depending where the cutoff is to fill the field, that means some of Wineglass’ runners will get into Boston when they should not have and perhaps crowd out someone who legitimately deserves to be there. I have to admit that has left a bad taste in my mouth. I know what I ran.

In retrospect, although I was aware of it at the time, all the sightseeing we did in NYC before getting to Corning took a toll on my legs. I was not fresh on marathon day, and I paid for it in the last 10k. However, I had an awesome time with my lovely bride, and I would not change a thing if I had it to do all over again. It will definitely change how we plan future trips that include a marathon.

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The rest of the trip –  Niagara Falls, Toronto, and back to NYC (10/6 – 10/9)

On the day after the marathon, we left our wonderful B&B after the biggest breakfast I think I’ve ever had and headed for Niagara Falls.  We thought about taking the scenic route, but since we weren’t going to have a lot of time up there, we took a pretty direct route.  Over the next couple of days, we covered a lot of ground on both the Canadian and US sides of the border, including an awesome “Maid of the Mist” ride.  If you are ever there, take the Maid of the Mist (on the US side) versus the Canadian boat.  For whatever reason, the Maid boats get up closer to the falls, which you can clearly see if you watch them both from above.

We also took time to visit Toronto, although it was a quick visit and most of the time was spent looking around from the observation deck of CN Tower.  Toronto is definitely a city I would love to explore more someday, especially given that it has a pretty rich history.  Maybe I’ll run a marathon there someday.

After our last evening in Niagara Falls, we headed back to New York City along the northern tier of the state the next morning.  We stopped in Syracuse and found Dinosaur BBQ quite by accident, but since my friend Hollie had recommended it, we had to stop.  It turns out that restaurant was the original and it did NOT disappoint!  After a scenic route back that took us through the edge of the Catskills, we arrived back in New York City and had time to go see the 9/11 Memorial at night. Mission accomplished!

…but that only got us through the first nine days of Oct-GO-ber!

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The rest of Oct-GO-ber – a football extravaganza

There was no slowing down the rest of the month, at least until today (Halloween).  After getting back home, I had a full week of playing catch up at work, as well as an early 5th anniversary celebration with my lovely bride.  Even though our anniversary was on Friday, we covered different parts of the region over the weekend.  She went to Fort Collins for parent’s weekend/homecoming at Colorado State, and I went to homecoming at my alma mater, the University of Wyoming, following a short run with my running group that morning.  After a full day of tailgating and football, I headed home to get ready for a full Sunday morning.  In a week moment, I agreed to lead a 2:00 pace group for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Denver Half Marathon, which meant getting downtown by 6:00 AM.  I love pacing, and I had a blast, but I was spent by the time I got home.

 

RNR PacingI had little time to rest, though.  After Mrs. B returned home, we gathered our strength and our Broncos orange to head down to Sports Authority Field for Sunday Night Football.  The Broncos vs. the 49’ers on what was a record-setting night for Peyton Manning. He is now #1 in touchdown passes, surpassing Brett Farve.  It is one of my most memorable Bronco moments.  There was no rest for the weary, though. Four nights later, we were back to the stadium for Thursday Night Football vs. the San Diego Chargers. Of course, the Broncos won and moved to 6-1.

Two days later, we packed up the car and headed to Fort Collins for the 106th Border War game between Wyoming and Colorado State.  To there is no other game I want Wyoming to win more badly than that one is an understatement.  The schools are 65 miles apart and bitter rivals.  (Yes, I know my step-daughter is going there…but I still love her)  CSU is good this year, and Wyoming is…rebuilding.  Thank goodness our 4 hours of tailgating was so awesome because the game got out of hand for Wyoming early, and while the final score was respectable, it did not reflect the first half thrashing that Wyoming took.

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A solid week of work  closed out the month – a very busy month.  I got my running shoes back on toward the end of the month, and I’ll have to start getting back into running shape again throughout the winter.  For now, I am relishing a great month – most of it spent with my lovely bride – and all the miles we put on.  My plan for the rest of the year is to have a balanced approach to everything and really enjoy the fall and the holidays.

Doctor’s orders. Happy Halloween!!

Dr. Love, Cardiology

Categories: Other stuff, Training, Wineglass Marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why not Wineglass?

I have spent the better part of the last 14-16 weeks getting ready for tomorrow’s Wineglass Marathon. It hasn’t been the greatest training cycle, and it hasn’t been the worst – and my expectations are appropriately in check. Honestly, at this point, I feel relieved of the burden I had a year ago when I was trying so hard (and succeeding) to PR at the Marine Corps Marathon.

That, of course, was one of my goals for this marathon, but several factors made me decide that I was not in good enough condition to try to best my Marine Corps time. Now, I will feel accomplished if I can beat my required BQ time (for 2016) of 3:25:00 by more than five minutes and guarantee myself a slot. If not, I just plan to enjoy a beautiful Southern Tier fall run and celebrate what has been a pretty special trip with my lovely bride as we come up on our 5th anniversary.

I wanted to run a fall marathon is a smaller venue. I love the big, crazy ones, but something a little more intimate and relaxed sounded much better. “Why not the Wineglass Marathon?” I asked myself. It has a bit of everything, and Corning is a great town. And the B&B at which we are staying cannot be beat! The view is amazing!

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When we leave here, we still have a bit more celebrating to do before we head home. No matter what happens, as I wind my way through the country roads from Bath to Corning, NY, this trip will have been a smashing success.

But I wouldn’t mind that sub-3:20:00 to go with it, too!

Categories: Training | Tags: ,

Training update: Wineglass Marathon

This time it’s been a battle

I have certainly had much more productive training for the Wineglass Marathon than I did for the Boston Marathon this past April, if only because I had more time and better weather.  However, I have still been struggling to find the momentum that I had going into the Marine Corps Marathon last October.  “Struggling” is an understatement, actually.  This training cycle has been mostly frustrating and generally disappointing.

I’ve tap-danced around this thought before, but I am finally able to admit that my PR effort in Washington, DC did some damage.  I gave that everything I had, ran a 3:11:38, and I have not been quite right since then.  Aches, pains, and tightness are one thing – and there are certainly plenty.  However, ever since last fall, my legs have been slow in recovering from even low impact runs during the week. After a long run or hard interval training, they feel completely dead. Any subsequent run feels like a soul-sucking death march.

There are certainly some of my own actions (or inactions) that have contributed to the situation, but I cannot pin any one thing as “the cause.”  If it were that simple, I could just fix it.  For the sake of therapeutic disclosure, I confess to the following:

  • Inadequate sleep
  • Beer
  • Weak core muscles
  • Lack of crosstraining

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not a failure, nor do I think I am letting myself down.  My diet and nutrition, for the most part, have been much more consistent and well-balanced.  Even in the face of significant work and life challenges, I have been managing to get in my miles, except for some weeks like this past one. Sometimes, the mind is not willing and the body is more than happy to oblige.  Occasionally, I don’t have time to get in a scheduled run. Sometimes, I’ve just flat out felt like crap – and none of my “bad habits” explain why my legs have felt like oaken stumps for the last few months.

As I get nearer to October 5, the reality is that I am not yet in the right mental or physical shape to do to my body that which would need to be done to beat my current PR.  I have yo-yoed back and forth on that for a few weeks, but this weekend I finally took the time to asked myself “so what”?  When running begins to feel like employment and not recreation, then it is time to take a fresh look at just why I do this to myself.  It sure is not to beat myself up and feel like crap.  It started out as a means to improve myself, and maybe that part happened so fast, initially, that I lost the right perspective.

Just finishing any marathon is an achievement.  If I could get faster in every successive race, that would be great, and maybe I still can.  However, this time around, I am letting go of my initial goal to go sub-3:10 and PR.  Instead, I am going to make sure I finish (which is always a goal) and get another Boston-qualifying time so that I have a chance to go back in 2016. By then, I’ll have moved into a new age bracket, which makes my BQ time 3:25:00.  7:49/mile pace.  I was nearly able to do that on marginal training earlier this year in Boston.  I’ll shoot for sub-3:20:00 and see how it turns out.

When that is done, I am going to recover and shift my focus to recovering my whole body and getting things straightened out again.  I’ll tackle some of the vices and deficiencies, but I’ll also work on my largest obstacle, as well – the mass of gray matter between my ears.  It is probably due for a boot camp.

Wineglass Marathon

Categories: Training, Wineglass Marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Not everything is about running

I do not have any other blogs. I do not have any other places where I write down things that happen outside of my protected little world of running and racing that I obsess over and talk about to anyone who will listen…or read.  This, however, I wanted to write and share, even if no one else reads it – and this is as good a place as any to do it.

I have not had to deal with death much in my life, or at least not in my adult life. I guess that makes me lucky – or woefully unprepared. As far as family and friends, my grandparents all passed away when I was younger, and other close relatives and friends are still alive with a couple notable exceptions.  Those closest to me, though?  I’ve not had to face it much. When it comes to pets, I only had to directly face it once some time ago, but I just had to face it somewhat out of the blue in the last few days.

There has been only one living soul that was my constant companion for 17 years – my cat, Lucy.  I am a dog person.  I always was; I still am.  However, this cat wasn’t “just a cat,” and yesterday I had to say goodbye to her.  I wrote this about her yesterday, and felt much better having gotten it out and memorialized.


 

016For the last 17 years, I have had one continuous companion.  Lucy has been with me through thick and thin and has always been there for me, especially when I was on my own.  I subjected her to several moves, other dogs and cats, and different people but she always seemed to forgive me. The last 7 years have probably been the most content, and she ruled the roost. 

After 17 years, we had to say goodbye to Lucy – one of the coolest cats I have ever known.

She was born in July 2007 and came from a fairly sketchy pet store near my apartment in Cottonwood Heights southeast of Salt Lake City.  It was clear she was part of a litter that someone sold to the store.  Inside a large cage, all of her brothers and sisters were climbing around, most behaving like lunatics.  On the bottom, backed up in corner was a little puff of fur, and when I pulled her out she squeaked, burrowed into my shoulder and started purring.  She picked me and came home that day.  As it turned out, it was more of a rescue than a purchase, as she needed early trips to the vets for various ailments and surely wouldn’t have lasted very long in the dump she came from.

Baby Lucy Baby Lucy

Her name was short for “Lucifer.”  When she came into the house, there was another cat named Angel…a black cat from hell.  Naming her Lucifer was supposed to put the yin back with the yang, and it mostly worked.

Lucy is the only cat that could ever fit in with this self-proclaimed “dog person,” and I don’t think any cat could ever replace her.  She was a cool customer – a sweetheart almost all the time.  She was never much bigger than 7 or 8 pounds – the runt of the litter – but she held her ground like she thought she was an 18-pound Maine Coon Cat.

When she was younger, she could fly.  She would come from across the room at a full sprint and spring 6-7 feet in the air to grab a well-thrown toy mouse.  She was a fearless moth hunter, and her eyes would always focus to a laser-like point at the mention of the word “bug.”  She would chase a laser dot in circles until wobbly, and then come back for some more.

In fact, she definitely fancied herself a hunter. While she was never an outdoor cat, she went out on the deck or in the yard a couple of times.  Gnats and flies trembled in her presence.  Indoors, she craved the flesh – turkey, chicken, and especially ham.  Whenever a Christmas roast was being prepared, I always had to keep an eye on her for fear she’d try to take it down.  Occasionally, a bowl with bacon grease left in it to cool would have notable tongue grooves in it.  And nothing would stand in her way if she heard Reddi-Wip being applied to ice cream.  It was her greatest guilty pleasure.Christmas roast for me?007

She was 12 when Gabriella, Christy, and Cookie came into our lives.  She and Cookie figured it out pretty fast, most likely because they noticed they looked a lot alike.  They never fought but often went nose-to-nose just to say “hi.”  We are pretty sure that when we were out of the house, especially on vacations, they were both glad they had each other.

For 17 years, I could always count on Lucy greeting me when I came home.  She was almost always at the top of the stairs or on the ledge above that.  Sometimes, I would walk by with something on my mind or something in my hands – in which case she would present herself again until she got some pets.  I’ll miss that. Often, she would scare the crap out of me when I would wake up with her sleeping on my chest, staring at me and willing me to get up and feed her. I will miss that, too – in a way.  She had character and personality, and she was good at making me laugh. I’ll really miss that.

But mostly, I will just miss my pal.

Lucy
July 1997 – July 21, 2014

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Categories: Other stuff | Tags: , , ,

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