Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday's Featured Blog: Detroit Runner

I'm starting a new, weekly series on my blog.  Every Friday, I hope to showcase a blog that I enjoy reading.  Maybe you'll head on over to that blog an enjoy it too.  And, if you have suggestions about blogs to read, leave it in the comments below.


In this inaugural "Friday's Featured Blog" post, I'm featuring Detroit Runner (aka, Jeff).  Jeff gets the honor of the first FFB post because he features "Detroit" in his blog name (Note: If any bloggers out there have Michigan, Vernors, or Valpo in their blog name, you may find yourself as an FFB post very soon.  Just saying...).  Jeff's blog chronicles his journey from non-runner to marathoner--his first marathon is scheduled for May in Traverse City, MI.  To top it off, he's using Hal Higdon's Intermediate Training Plan, so he's bound for success!

Of special note with Jeff's blog is that he's hosting a Virtual 5k on March 5 called the "I Just Felt Like Running" 5k.  I'm sure all runners can identify with that title.  If you're in the Detroit metro area, you can join Jeff and a few others for a run at Stoney Creek.  If you're not in Detroit, what's wrong with you?  I mean, you can run virtually anywhere!  From his last update, he needs some more states represented, and more guys!  So sign up by clicking the image below.

The Friday's Featured Blog series is an opportunity for me to feature blogs that I enjoy reading.  If you're looking for new blogs to read, click on to the blogs I feature.  If I feature your blog, and you're uncomfortable with me doing so, or using images from your site, just drop me a note in the comments and I'll take it down.  I have not contacted the owner of the featured blog prior to posting this--it's just my way of giving a shout-out to a worthy blogger.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Have I Done?

You know those runs where you feel as though you could run across water? (No, frozen lakes don't count).  Where everything goes perfectly?  Where you feel light on your feet?  Where you have the urge to shout "Good Morning!" to every runner you see?  That was my mindset in committing to run the Securian Winter Run Half Marathon.

Now I've fallen flat on my face.

Why?  Look here:

Here is a plot of my weekly mileage for the last year.  From June to October, I averaged at least 30 miles per week.  I then ran a 3:42 marathon.

Lately, I've been struggling to hit 20mpw.  I can make excuses--the weather, traveling, work--but those are just excuses.  So it pains me that I will be unprepared (read: undertrained) for a race.  Of course I can say that I'll treat this as a "fun race" or a "B race"--but it's a race, and I won't be racing.

But I'll be there on Saturday.  At the starting line.  For my second fun-size marathon.  And I need a strategy.  I may try this on for size:
  • Accept that I may not PR: My PR is 1:52 and change.  It was a hot, humid day that turned into a hot, humid, and moist day.  I paced it poorly.  I didn't know the course.  I should be able to beat that, right?  Maybe.  But I have to understand that not every race is a PR race, and that I'll have another chance to beat it at the Boom this year.
  • Smart Pacing: I sucked at pacing the Boom.  Out too fast, crashing around mile 7.  I was awesome at pacing TCM.  So, I need to control my pace early on, then push later.  This will be much appreciated since there are a few "hills" in the first few miles.
  • What Pace? I haven't settled on a goal time yet.  My last race where I wasn't injured was TCM, and I don't have that kind of base right now, thus I can't use that race to predict a time.  I can't use my training paces because of the weather we've been having (winter weather skews the pace slower).  If I average 8'30" miles (my marathon pace), I could finish in 1:50.  I'll probably run the first few miles around 9'00", then see what I can push it to.
  • Hills: There are hills at mile 1-2, 6-7, and 12-finish.  Once again, I'll be applying marathon strategy here and won't attack the hills.  The phrase of the day will be "even effort".  Ok, I may attack that last hill just for fun...
  • Fuel/Water: Water stops are at mile 3, 5, 8, and 11.  From what I can tell, there won't be any sports drink.  I think I'll eat drink ingest Gu at mile 5.  Mile 3 is too early.  Mile 11 is too late.  And miles 5 and 8 are too close together.  So, mile 5.  I'd like a second one, but there just isn't a great place for it.  Maybe I'll consume it at the start, and push mile 5 back to mile 8.  Who knows?
  • Weather: It's supposed to be high teens/low 20s on Saturday.  I'm cool with that.  It's actually rather ideal, and I'm tempted to wear shorts.  But, I'll probably wear my new compression tights, and some ventable layers on top.
Bulleted lists make me feel better.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Cold Here

It's a fact of living in Minnesota: it will get cold in the winter.  And this week, it did:

That 5°F temp and -14°F wind chill was before it got really cold.  (That night, it would get to -16°F air temperature.)  And of course, I ran.  It's not hard to run in extreme cold, it just requires lot's of layers.  Like a parfait.  Or an onion.  Here's what I wore:
  • Hat
  • Neck warmer
  • Ski goggles (silly, yes, but if you've ever had contact lenses freeze to your eyeballs, you know what I'm talking about)
  • Under Armour long-sleeve base top
  • Brooks long-sleeve shirt
  • Nike windbreaker
  • NB windblocker tights
  • High School warm-up pants
  • thick socks
  • shoes
  • Yaktrax
Yes, a little crazy.

I even did the "duct tape on the shoes" trick:

It was a good (but short) run.  My Yaktrax malfunctioned halfway in, so I carried them.  And I lost the duct tape when I did that.  Oops.

Moral of the story: Cold weather is not an excuse to run on a treadmill.  That is all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My New Compression Tights

Readers of this blog know that I'm pretty "old school" when it comes to running.  No GPS, no HRM, no CIA, no, wait, what?  Anyway, it may surprise you that I know own compression tights.  New Balance Windblocker tights, to be exact.  Surprised me too.  And it's a convoluted story of how I got them.  In essence, I wanted to register for the Securian Half Marathon in person at Run 'n' Fun.  By registering in person, you get 25% off any purchase made in-store.  A pretty sweet deal.  I was in the market for new pants and/or tights that were better suited for winter.  So, after trying on more things than I care to recall, I ended up with these compression tights.  They were the only things that fit my criteria and were available in my size.  So here we are.

I'm skeptical of all the compression fanatics out there.  Some of the theory behind compression gear makes a little sense, but if it were that big of a deal, runners would have been squeezing their muscles long ago.  It actually seems rather silly that the mere act of squeezing muscles will cause us to set new PRs.  Long story short, if you want to run faster, put the investment into running more miles and crafting a better training plan.

Yet, here I am, with a pair of compression tights.

I tested them out today, and they behaved like I expected.  Like tights.  The windblocking fabric kept me comfortable, and my legs propelled me forward.  I didn't notice any extra benefits from the compression.  I didn't run 4 minute miles.  I didn't leap over buildings in a single bound.  I stayed warm, and I ran.

The awkward part about these tights is New Balance's approach to runner safety.  Concerned that runners may not have a RoadID (which is must-have for all runners), they put a "tape" in the pocket on which you can write emergency information.  In reality, this "tape" looks more like a pull-tab just above my butt.  Here is the placement:

No, pulling it will not make me say "Somebody's poisoned the water hole!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goals for 2011

Before I talk about goals, I have an announcement.  Adam from The Boring Runner has informed me that I  won the "Yaktrax Award" for the Freeze Your Thorns Off Virtual 5k.  The prize is virtually nothing, but I am virtually thrilled to receive it.  I hope to use my title to help other runners in need--those who have found themselves snowy, cold, and without traction in life.  I will not stop working for them until our coefficients of friction have increased and our Domes inflated.  Here I stand.


2011 is here, and I'm starting to put together races and training for the upcoming year.  I've not finalized my race schedule yet, but here are the ones I'm looking at right now:

  • Securian Winter Run Half Marathon
  • Irish For a Day 10 Mile
  • Human Race 5k or 8k
  • Cannon Falls Duathlon
  • TC 1 Mile
  • Brian Kraft 5k
  • Croixathlon
  • Red, White, and Boom Half Marathon
  • TC 10 Mile
There will be other races, but I'm most certain about these.  I had considered the MDRA Grand Prix, but since I missed one of the events already, I don't know if there are enough races left that I would do to make it worthwhile.

Anyway...  Beyond races, I'm hoping to join the circus setting a few goals for myself this year:
  • Race More:  I like racing, and there are so many good races around here that I'd like to experience, so I'm going to do some of them.  I'm not constrained by marathon training this year, so I can race more often without worrying as much about injury.
  • Add More Variety To Racing: I have a confession to make--I've never raced a 10k.  While I don't have a 10k on my schedule yet, I'd like to do one.  And a 10 mile.  And a 1 mile.  And more Fun Size Marathons.  Variety is good for the body and for the mind, and doesn't hurt with packets of M&M's either.
  • Average AT LEAST 40 Miles Per Week: The thing that helped me the most last year was not drowning an increase in mileage.  40 mpw isn't super high, but I think it's a pretty good goal to shoot for.
  • Run a sub-20 5k: Let's just call this one Unfinished Business.
  • Run a 5'20' Mile: This is an "out there" goal, but 5'20" is the fastest I've ever run a mile, so if I can match that, I'd be happy.
  • Don't Drown: I'll be doing 2 or 3 triathlons this year, and each one during which I do not drown will be a victory.
  •  Rehab Roy: Roy is my faithful 2-wheeled companion (below).  Roy is a bit tired, though, and will need some work if I want to do some duathlons and triathlons.  {Rant: Did you know that Roy would be banned from the Rev3 Cedar Point Triathlon?  I'm not doing that race, but Katie is thinking of it, and she told me this awful news.  What kind of a triathlon bans mountain bikes?  Not a great idea for a competition that tries to seem not so elitist.  /Rant}  For Roy to make it through another year, I'm going to need to replace the brake and shifter cables.  A new chain may be in the works, too.  After this, I expect Roy to live many, many more years.
Have you thought about your goals for 2011 yet?  Do you like planning as much as I do?  Are you hopelessly attached to a 13 year old mountain bike?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Freeze Your Thorns Off 5k

I write this in the midst of a whirlwind trip from Minnesota to Michigan to Ohio to Michigan to Ohio to Michigan to Minnesota.  Katie and I were planning on heading down to Ohio on Saturday, so if I wanted to do the Freeze Your Thorns Off Virtual 5k, it was going to be early.  Really early.  Much too early for being on holiday.
But I did it anyway.  Up at 5:30am and out the door by 6am, I was off.  I didn’t do a warm up (oops), and there was a ½ inch of snow on the ground, so my Yaktrax went with me in the 15°F darkness.
The distance was 5k-ish.  I mapped it out before leaving, turned around at a bridge over a drainage ditch creek, and headed back.  Time: 23’55”.  Not stellar, but I wasn’t trying for a PR, so I’m pretty pleased with it.
Thanks to The Boring Runner for organizing this--it virtually felt like I was running with all kinds of people!
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