Flyaway Friday (transitional version).

In triathlon or in long timed races like a 24 HR race, transitions can seriously influence your race result.  Try to rush the transition and you end up forgetting something important like Body Glide or your shorts. Take too long on a transition and you waste valuable time.

I’m transitioning from my spring season where the races are shorter, faster distances (well by MY standards) into training for the longer slower distances of marathons and beyond.  It’s been a tricky training month for me from a running perspective.  I wanted to ramp my mileage up and get a head start on marathon training, but ramp up too fast and I risked injury like last year.  Though if I ramped up too slowly, then I have missed an opportunity.  Did I end up like Goldilocks and find the one that is just right?  Ask me in December.

From Phoenix last December.  Flowers for Friday.

From Phoenix last December. Flowers for Friday.

The lessons from running are sometimes appropriate elsewhere in life.   My life is also in a transition.  For one thing,  I am likely to have to move from the place that I have been living for the last 4 1/2 years. However, it isn’t just limited to an impending move.  Unlike running where I at least have a vague idea of where I am and where I am going, I really don’t know where my life is transitioning to (or heck, even all that sure where I am now (OK, I am at my computer typing up my blog and having a spirited discussion with the Pig on who is the best 2nd baseman of all time (I say Eddie Collins and the Pig counters with Joe Morgan)).  It makes for an unsettling feeling that I feel like something is changing but I don’t know what.

The good news is that no matter what transition I am in the middle of, at least I remembered my shorts (well, so far).

Have a Pigtastic long weekend!!

Later,

Marsden

phoenix1 694Why have Christmas lights in May?  Because it is a three day weekend in the US and that is cause for celebration. 

PS. Spotify now has the ability to automatically pick tunes based on your pace.  Of course in my case I just get funeral marches.

Introverts Guide to the Benefits of Running (Office Version)

Everyone knows about the standard benefits of running such as improved aerobic conditioning, increased energy, and owning enough race t-shirts for a lifetime of casual Fridays.  However, for introverted people like myself, there are additional benefits to running when it comes to the working in an office environment.

Fewer Meetings with Co-Workers

Run at lunch and no one wants me in a room for an afternoon meeting due to the olfactory impact of a post run state (that was the nicest way I could put that one smells like a curious mix of garbage can and sunscreen).

How to End a Conversation Fast

“Have I told you about my 50K” will put an end to just about any conversation.  Being an introvert I have used this on more than one occasion.  Note this does not work with other runners.  If I am in a conversation with another runner, I bring up my latest swim.

Sorry But (not to be confused with Sorry Butt)

If one of my co-workers really wants me to attend their engagement party, wedding, or baby shower they should know better than to schedule it on the day I have a race scheduled.  When this happens I just send the Pig.  It’s really a win-win situation.

Check Please

One time you eat the entire bread basket before everyone sits down then you find the number of invites to lunch drops dramatically.   You think my co-workers had never heard of carb loading.

The Pig demonstrates how to eat all the bread and carb load.  He is still invited to lunch though because of his winning personality and ready wit.

The Pig demonstrates how to eat all the bread and carb load. He is still invited to lunch though because of his winning personality and ready wit.

So for the introverts out there, how has running benefited you in the workplace?

Maybe we can start an introvert runchat? Oh, wait…

Later,

Marsden

Hill Repeats vs. Beer Repeats

One of the staples of the running community is the hill repeat.  Another staple of the running community is drinking beer.  It got me to thinking if you can have hill repeats, why can’t you have beer repeats.  If you can have beer repeats, then how do they compare to hill repeats? (this is how my mind works which is why I typically and wisely keep my thoughts to myself)

Technique and needed equipment

Hill repeats are accomplished by running up a hill fairly fast,  coming back down, and going back up the hill fairly fast.  It requires hills and standard running equipment.

Beer repeats is drinking a beer and then doing it again.  All you need is a beer and preferable something to drink it in.

Advantage: Beer repeats.  No hills required and a heart rate monitor is optional.

Calorie Impact

Hill repeats deplete glycogen stores.

Beer repeats is sorta like carb loading.

Advantage:Beer repeats.  Who doesn’t like carb loading?

Social Aspects

Hill repeats are better with others.

Beer repeats are better with others.

Advantage: Push

The Pig drinks Hop Hog IPA.

If you ever wondered what type of beer the Pig drinks, now you know.  I need to teach him how to get better get better focus on his pictures. 

The More You Do

Hill repeats feel worse the more you do them, but are actually helping you in the long-term.

Beer repeats feel better the more you do them, but you are about to end up on YouTube.

Advantage: Hill repeats, though both make you stupider the more you do them.

Le Freak Beer-you are what your drink

I guess this is proof that you are what your drink.

Vomit Factor

Hill repeats can make you hurl if you over do it.

Beer repeats can make your hurl if you over do it.

Advantage: Hill repeats because at least you don’t feel quite as crappy the next day.

Bottom Line

So which is better–hill or beer repeats?  Why choose? run hill repeats and go with your friends afterwards to have a few beers.

Or if you are really nuts (stop looking at me like that(OK, maybe I shouldn’t have posted the Le Freak Beer if I didn’t want stares)) you can do hill repeats like a beer mile and drink a beer, run a hill and repeat.  However, when you have to watch a video of you vomiting your beer for the next 10 years, don’t blame me.

Now all you have to do is repeat as needed.

Later,

Marsden

Fly Friday

I was going to whine blog about me looking for a new place, trying to determine my training plans for Marine Corps, or my trying to decide on whether to run the Ottawa Beer Run vs Toronto Marathon (yeah, like those two races are anything similar).

But I eventually decided not to whine and just look forward to my 13 miler this weekend and that the weekend after this one will be a 3 day weekend.

So take an extra moment to appreciate at least one aspect of your life (just pick one (or two if you are feeling it)).  If nothing else, you enjoy the flower pictures and one picture of my failed attempt at being inspirational.

The Pig and some flowers.

The Pig AND Flowers for Friday. If that a fly Friday or what?

More Flowers for Friday

More Flowers for Friday

 

Which is why I am a white hot mess.  Yes, I am blowing the be happy theme, just stick to the message and not what I am saying.

Which is why I am a white-hot mess. Yes, I am blowing the be happy theme, just stick to the message and not what I am saying.  Almost a selfie for those keeping score at home.  Is this REALLY a Serbian proverb and why don’t they capitalize Serbian?  Have you ever noticed that capitalized is almost never capitalized.  This caption has turned out to be longer than the rest of the blog.  Many of my readers could do their long run in the time it takes to read this caption.

Have a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

Weather Detective

So are you type of the person who looks at weather web pages 6 weeks in advance of your race even though a dart board has a better accuracy rate?  If so you are a weather stalker detective (stalker conjures images of some weirdo who sits around making stupid jokes on his blog and hanging out with a pig in public (note to self, don’t sign up for Thinking Out Loud Thursdays)).

Anyway, being a weather detective is a painstaking process of looking at and analyzing trends of race day weather weeks in advance of a race.  How does it work?  Let’s take the June 14th Oddyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia, PA as an example.

So although it is over a month until the race, I went over to Accuweather and put in Philly and here is the current result.

So, this is just saying the weather is about as one would expect for Philly in June.  How boring is that?

So, this is just saying the weather is about as one would expect for Philly in June 14th. How boring is that?

However, this example isn’t very social media friendly because who the heck goes “OMG what normal weather for my half next month!!!!  What I going to do????”  Let’s be honest, that isn’t going to get you many RTs on Twitter.

So what is the weather detective supposed to do?  Well you need more a more epic weather forecast, so you need a different source.  Check other websites and weather apps.  One of them is bound to have cold, hot, rain, snow or some weather feature that will allow you to sound like you are not only running a race, you are fighting with Mother Nature herself.

Still no luck with finding sufficiently bad sounding weather?  This is when the Farmer’s Almanac comes in handy. “OMG it is going to be like running on the surface of the sun for Oddyssey!” which is social media for “a possible slight warming trend in late spring”.

As you get closer to your race there will be more apps that will provide you a forecast.  At some point real live humans will even get in the act.  Being a weather detective you will scour each of the sites and pick the worst forecast to bemoan your fate.  Why?  Because it is gives you a built-in excuse of what went wrong in your race, or best case scenario shows just how heroic you are when you overcome adversity to do well in the race.

No bad weather in any of the forecasts?  Then complain about how it changes from day-to-day, “OMG the forecast for Oddyssey keeps changing every damn day.  Don’t know if I will need a down coat or a singlet!!!!”  I say this knowing that Philly in mid June is going to be singlet weather, but this way I have garnered the sympathy of all the runners who don’t know what the weather for their race will be.

One word of caution, don’t fall for the hype yourself.  In my weather detecting for Across the Years, the forecast ranged from 80 deg F to 30 deg F with a possibility of rain, snow, or sunshine.  All my effort and I still ended up at REI in Phoenix buying rain gear two days before the race (and used most of it).

So what happens after you work to build up your race as a cross between a blizzard, a hurricane, tap dancing on the sun and a tsunami, and race day turns out to be 50 deg F and partly cloudy?

Blame the weather forecast because it made you over/under dress!

Well, it’s either that phantom cross winds.

Later,

Marsden

Blaming monster alien chickens is an alternative to the weather.

Blaming monster alien chickens is an alternative to the weather.

 

More Ways to PR

Sorry, I have a typo in the title.  I didn’t mean a Personal Record (PR), I mean a Pee-R, as in, well, you get the idea.  Also, I won’t talk about Pee-Bs because I don’t want to think about that while I am eating peanut butter.

You can’t go until you go

Pre-race waste removal is an important part of any racer’s ritual.  Let’s be honest, nobody want to hold it for an entire marathon.  So just is the best way to lay waste to this problem?  Here are some strategies you can use.

The Merry Go Round

Get in the line for the porta potty, do your business (hey, lock the door; nobody needs to be sharing that crap).  Exit and then get back in line.  Repeat until nothing comes out, or the National Anthem ends, whichever comes first.

Grease the Tracks

Coffee early in the morning is a great way to grease the tracks so to speak.  This is a balancing act because help for #2 can cause problems for #1.

The Outdoors Type

Sometimes you have to make the decision between throwing away your 100 dollar entrance fee because you were stuck in line for an hour, or risk someone yelling “Hey Pee-Wee” as you hide behind a tree.  Choose wisely.

The Lax Approach

No.  Laxatives could lead to very, very epic bad race photos.

It is a pictures of porta potties with the Washington monument in the background.  A monumental way to go.

A monumental way to go.  I think I have exceeded the RDA for puns for this post.   This picture will be part of my upcoming book, “The Runs”.

On Course Support

This is one of the “pay me know or pay me later” deals.  The toilets on course tend to have shorter lines, but the clock is ticking.  As a side note, why is the ones on course always out of hand sanitizer? (note to self, don’t shake hands post race).

Stand and Deliver

You can just go on the spot.  I wouldn’t even mention this messy option except for the fact that it would be nice for once if I wasn’t the worst smelling person after a race.

Later,

Marsden

The Battle of Monocracy and what it means to your running

As part of my trip up to Frederick MD for my half marathon, I had a little time to kill so I thought I would do something while I was in town.  Well, near my hotel was the Monocacy National Battlefield and being a bit of a history buff, I thought I would go over there to check things out.I didn’t want to spend too much time there since I had a half marathon to run the next day, but I did notice that there were trails that could be run.

Trail! Made me want to run.

Trail! Made me want to run.

Of course the Pig found his way into trouble.

This may end poorly.

This may end poorly.

For those who don’t know much about the Battle of Monocacy (and that would be most of you (and me before last week), the Confederate Army wanted to do an end around the Union Army and attack DC from the North.  The strategy was working fairly well, until the Confederate Army met the Union troops when they were looking to find a place to cross the Monocacy River.  The Union troops were outnumbered 16000 to 6800 but their job was to stall the Confederates long enough to for the Union to reinforce both Baltimore and DC since they weren’t sure where the Confederates were going to attack.  I’d bore you with the details, but I will spare you this time.  The Confederates won the battle, but the Union troops stalled the advance by a day.  That day was long enough for Grant to send troops back to DC and reinforce the city before an attack came.  In the end the Confederates had to retreat back to Virginia and never again mounted a serious threat to the North.

We will get to the running part after this drawing of General Early (who turned out was too late).

We will get to the running part after this picture of General Early (who turned out was too late).  

So what does this have to do with running?  This battle shows a couple of things that are applicable to running.

1. You can lose a battle and win the war

OK, it’s a trite saying, but even if you have a speed session or tempo workout and it doesn’t go as you wanted, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t made improvements that will pay off on race day.

2. Every little bit matters

A day may not seem like a lot but it was enough to save DC from being captured, at least temporarily.  Each workout you have builds the foundation for success down the road.  Even the little things like foam rolling and doing your core work matter.

 

 

The Pig eats dinner after our history lesson

The Pig eats dinner after our history lesson

Though one word of caution: If you let the Pig pose on Civil War cannons, expect to have to run like hell away from park rangers and spoil the idea of resting the day before your half marathon.  Talk about your battle for time…

Later,

Marsden

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from the Spring Racing Season

With the Frederick Half Marathon firmly in the rear view mirror, what did I learn from the spring racing season? (and why since I am back in Arlington VA am I still seeing Frederick in my rear view mirror?)

1. First race flat

My first race of the season tends to be a dud.  Last year at Cherry Blossom and this year at 1775K I came out flat. The difference this year was that I did a better job fighting through the flatness (though during hilly race so it was hilly flatness (if you didn’t blink at that idiotic description you have been reading this blog for a while))).  It did get a 5 minute PR out of the deal though.

2. Marathon and Ultra Distances

Marathons and ultras of last fall and winter helped me in the shorter distance this spring.  My marathon, 50K, and 24-HR race definitely helped me build my strength and endurance.

3. Training Distance Matters

I only run 3-4 days a week but increasing my mileage from last spring helped my racing.  Upping my long runs to more 12-14 area and having longer pace effort runs helped me maintain higher paces and feel more confident about it.

4. Ultra Running Good. Ultra Eating Not So Much

When I increased my mileage last fall, I also increased my eating.  I didn’t stop and gained 8 pounds which I didn’t need to drag around the race circuit.

5. Rolling Rolling Rolling

Keep that foam roller rolling.  Foam rolling on a daily basis helped with my increased training load.

6. You can’t schedule recovery

I had visions of grandeur after Across the Years that I would take a couple of weeks off, feel great and start kicking butt on my first run back.  Like my actual vision my vision of grandeur is 20×200.  It took a couple of months to get my legs under me (and trust me they looked silly off to the side).  I had to slowly build my mileage back so no ultras in the spring.

Flowers for Friday.  This doesn't have anything to do with the post, but it is a pretty flower.

Flowers for Friday. This doesn’t have anything to do with the post, but it is a pretty flower.

7. Tempo is great even if you can’t keep a beat

I rarely do speed work for various reasons (like it wrecks my knee) but doing two tempo runs a week helped me have the confidence to hold a faster pace than I have run in a while.

8. Overall the season went fairly well.

I PRed my 1775K by around 5 minutes, PRed the 9.39 mile (and the 10 mile during my half) and PRed my half marathon by 4 minutes over last fall.  Even more surprising was I was able to run the GW Parkway 10 miler and run it at a moderate pace instead of racing it and screwing up my half the following weekend.

So gains were made this spring and at my age, you will take any gains you can get.  Well except for weight and ear hair.

Have a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

 

Runner’s World Cover Idea

Runner’s World is having their annual “Cover Contest” I’m guessing that even if I met the criteria of “fit, athletic, and dedicated” I can’t really see Runner’s World putting this on the cover:

No.

No.

Or this

Hell No

Hell No

So I think that since I would like Runner’s World to continue as a magazine I must sadly withdraw from the competition.

However…

The Pig meets all the criteria PLUS he excels at product placement.

The Pig meets all the criteria PLUS he excels at product placement.

Later,

Marsden

 

Frederick Half Marathon Race Report (2015)

Dear Future Me,

I know your memory isn’t what it used to be (and trust me I know because it isn’t all that great now).  I know you are in the habit of writing these letters to your past selves so I thought I would just write this one myself.  Maybe it will jar some memories from your fading memory bank.

I am going to be honest from the get go on this one.  I was running the Frederick Half Marathon for one reason and one reason only.  I wanted a PR in the half marathon and I wanted to break two hours (OK, that two reasons but since my PR last year was 2:00:23 it would take some effort to PR and not break two hours (I sense my future self is shaking his head)).  This is child’s play for much of my blog audience, but in 11 previous half marathons it hadn’t happened (mostly by a pretty wide margin).

This time I was well positioned.  My weight was below 200, my training had been going well and I did all my race pace runs under 9 minutes with most of that coming under 8:45. Even my trial 10 miler (which turned out to be a trial 9.39 miler) went well and showed I was on-track.

So to avoid having to get up at 3 AM to make the trek to Frederick I spend 90 bucks for a room at the Day’s Inn.  About the only glitch was the Day’s Inn had over booked and asked if I would move to another hotel.  It turned out to be the Townplace Suites and was MUCH nicer than the Day’s Inn (and Day’s Inn was picking up the difference in price). . I drove up the afternoon before the race to pick up my race packet at the Frederick Fairgrounds (which were more than fair if you ask me).

Step 1 this way Step 2 that way I am guess they hoped I could find my car without a step 3

Step 1 this way
Step 2 that way
I am guess they hoped I could find my car without a step 3

It is a picture of a kangaroo with arms crossed pointing in opposite directions

They should have used this guy instead for the steps

 

After following the instructions for the Maryland Two-Step, I looked around the expo and realized I had forgotten to eat lunch (future self, I hope you actually use the devices in the future to keep from pulling this crap).  Fortunately the expo had enough snacking material to hold me over until diner.

I checked into the hotel and got a few stares bringing my foam roller in.  Future self, I hope you learned to hide it in a garbage bag.

Foam rolling, further proof runners are freaks (but in a good way?)

Foam rolling, further proof runners are freaks (but in a good way?)

The Pig and I went to a Chinese place to pick up some dinner and I spent the rest of the evening doing some yoga, foam rollering, and fighting with the Pig on who would get which side of the bed.

Sunday morning broke and it was a cool crisp morning.  I ate breakfast (PB sandwich and a banana in case you are curious) took a quick shower, did a little foam roller action, and packed the car.

I decided on parking at the All Saints Parking garage (I figured I could use all the help I could get) and avoid some of the traffic going in and out of Frederick (BTW it worked) and walked to the Fairgrounds for the start of the race.  It was at this point I remembered that I forgot my water bottle.  Fortunately I had a back up one, backup drink mix (and water to go with it).

So I got to meet long time follower Stacey,@RunToBeFree10 on Twitter, who was there to pace her Dad in his first half marathon.  Follower #15 met!  I wish I had more time to actually talk to her, but I needed to do gear check and get into my start position (after the appropriate porta potty stop).

Stacey, The Pig, and Running Lonely

Stacey, The Pig, and Running Lonely.  Picture credit to Stacey’s Dad.  I’m still kinda amazed he let me that close to his daughter.  He obviously doesn’t read the blog.

My game plan for the race was fairly simple.  I would go out with the 1:55 group and if I felt good at mile 10 I would punch it and if I didn’t I would pull back (spoiler alert, I didn’t even get that far).  The gun when off and we raced off.  The first mile felt a bit sluggish (insert snide comment here), but we hit 8:30 at the first mile.  I was going what the heck; I go out with a pace group and still go out too fast?  Future self, I can only assume you are still doing this, so rest assured your tactical race skills were not better in the past.

The first part of the course is shaded and went through downtown Frederick.  There is a slight rise for the 2nd mile and a roller in mile 3.  Although these two miles came in where I wanted (8:49 and 8:45) I felt that running with the pace group wasn’t really working for me since I was already sweating fairly heavily and didn’t want to risk a 2 hour half by blowing up in the first half so I let them go.

The next mile clocked in at 8:43 and there was another slow riser running by Frederick High school which slowed my pace further to 8:54.  Mile 6 was mostly downhill (8:46) but whenever we were in the sun (which was becoming increasingly often) I could really feel the effects.  This is a nice way of saying that sweat was pouring off me like I just climbed out of a dunk tank.

I slowed down for the next two miles hoping to conserve some energy going up the next slow rise (the entire course is 211 ft of elevation gain so it is all relative (or future self, you didn’t climb mountains, so stop pretending when you retell this story). Miles 7 and 8 came in at 9:01 and 9:02.  Going back to look at my heart rate data, slowing down didn’t really help, but it did keep me from going over 95% of my max heart rate (always a good thing at mile 7 of a half).

What goes up did come down in mile 9 and I got overly pumped about the downhill and came in at 8:40.  It was by this point in the course that there was almost no shade so I started to fade (well that and the going out too fast thing). I pushed mile 10 (8:54) and at that point I tried to pick up the pace some more.

Picking up the pace lasted about a quarter of a mile before I started to feel like I was about to throw up.  I know many of you would have pushed this, thrown up anyway and kept chugging along.  Me, not so much.  I pulled back the pace and started to feel better.  Going back to look at the post race data I went over 95% of my heart rate when I started to feel bad (if you are curious why I wasn’t watching this during the race for some reason my Garmin wasn’t displaying it when I checked around mile 2, so I gave up looking).  I knew at this point I could run 10 minute miles and still make a PR, so knew I could slow down a little and be OK.

The next two warmish miles were 9:04 and 9:02 which brings us to the last mile.

The last mile has a hill.  Not a death-defying one, but at mile 12.5 it was enough of a hill to that you noticed.  I fortunately had recovered a bit and was able to get up over and hit the gravel horse track that led to the finish (and pegging my heart rate at 100% in the process). I lumbered along with what resembled a finishing kick (I didn’t really have anything left; I just wanted to make it sound like I tried my best).  Then I hit the finish line,

1:56:14.  A PR of over 4 minutes in my 12th half.

@Midpackbiped (who finished much faster) was waiting for me in the finishing area to check how I did.  I told him I did indeed PR.  We did what smart experienced runners do at this point–>We made a beeline for the beer. Frederick is cool in that it gives you coupon for two beers.  We grabbed a beer and walked the Fairgrounds and talked about future races we would be doing.  We talked about how fast some of the runners in their 70s and 80s were and how we both would be happy to be able to even complete a 5K when we were 85.  We both agreed this was a good race and would be trying to put it on our calendar for next year.

Midpackbiped left and I went to grab my bag from gear check. Then I wondered around for a bit.  While watching the runners come in, a women in a wheelchair stopped to catch her breath as she wheeled across fairgrounds.  She explained that she wasn’t always in a wheelchair and that she didn’t have the arm strength yet to deal with the uneven and gravel terrain.  She preemptively said she didn’t want any help and while she rested she talked about the difficulties she was facing.  We made small talk for a couple of minutes and she said my shirt was cool (thank you InkNBurn!) and resumed her journey.

So  future self, this is the point I want you to remember.  You are lucky to be able to run whether you are gunning for PRs or just out for a slow training run.  Don’t forget how just freaking lucky you are.

Well, that and just give the pig the right side of the bed, it’s just easier that way.

Later,

Marsden