Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hate the chafe? Then do I have the product for you!

Look, if you're an athlete you know about chafe. No, matter how great the clothes are or how fit you are, eventually you're clothing is gonna bind up or pinch or you're going to fill your clothes with so much salt that pursuing your desired activity will be an effort in how long you can feal with wearing sandpaper. Base of the neck, nipples, groin and your naughty bits will all eventually succumb to the chafe monster. Now we all have been told by that "best buddy" how to deal with chafe: band aids, baby oil, vaseline or just "suck it up". None of those options work particularly well and because of that fact I've been on the hunt for ANYTHING that could help me out. I suffer the double indemnity of never finding clothes that fit me so well I won't chafe (I could run in spandex but really, who wants to see that?) and I also sweat salt by the tons. So I recently stumbled across this product made by Everstride.

Now at fist glance, or use, it might remind you of another popular anti-chafe stick on the market, Bodyglide. Here's the issue I have with that product: it feels greasy and cakey (is that even a word? well, it is now). Its hard to put on and is very difficult to clean off/out. Bad enough when its on me or my clothes but as a triathete I need this stuff everywhere and the gross build up of it in my wetsuit, cycling and running shoes eventually led to my having to throw them away. No such issue with Everstride's stick! Easy to put on, it goes on dry with a nice firm stroke, no mess NO chafing and SO easy to clean up. I use it on me, my clothes (yup, on the neck if shirts and along the pesky seams of shorts) on the openings of both cycling and running shoes and on my wetsuit. This stuff is FANTASTIC! I keep a stick with me all the time and getting caught on a windy, dry day for a 10k in New Mexico I even used it on my face and lips! I really can't endorse this product (and to be honest, all of Everstride's products) enough. Its obvious that this is a company that cares about and creates products FOR athletes.

I want to share the love too so if you comment on this post you'll be entered into a drawing for an Everstride gift pack. Tweet the link to this post and 'cc me "@rangerdutch" and you get 2 entries. Its just that easy. Good luck!

*update* I just realized that in my excitement to share the greatness that is Everstride's product, I didn't put an "end date" on this contest! Ok, so this contest will end on the 31st of January.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Classis 5k...where I was classic me...

Year two of running the Winter Classic 5k in Cambridge but I really like this course. Its a pretty flat out and back loop. I don't know why I'm such a fan of doubling back (ONLY for 5ks of course) but I really like seeing more runners. I play the head game that they'll never catch me and I turn up the pace.

So, after finding and acutal parking space on a side street (who's not paying $20 for parking for 2 hours in downtown Cambridge? THIS guy!), J and I headed to packet pick up. Now one of the cool things about this race last year was that on top of getting a race shirt you also were also randomly chosen to either win a cool embroidered head the spirit of the season...a piece of coal. I thought that was hilarious! I of course got the head warmer last year and J got coal which I found to be even MORE funny but no such merriment this year. It seems that people were offended by getting coal last year and the race stopped doing it. Really peope? I mean REALLY?! Geez, lighten up a bit!

I did finally meet twitter friend Danielle. A wicked cool, chick totally deck out in her best Christmas apparel for the race (see pic below) and we milled around the start. Ah yes, the start. I told myself that I had no intentions of "racing" today or setting a PR but as race time got closer I found myself magically pulled toward the front and calculating pace times in my head (classic me). And while I was crunching numbers I heard the gun go off. Now I've been trying a different approach to racing the last few races. Rather than get so fixed on the pace on my Polar RCX5G5, I'd just hang with the "lead" group of the race and try to settle in. I read an article a few months ago that one of the reason Ryan Hall was having an issue at races was his watch said he was going too fast so he would layoff and then eventually not be able to bridge the gap back to the leaders. Yes, I k,ow I'm NO Ryan hall but it does make sense. Your body performs differently on race day and if you can hold a pace, you should. Don't let your mind work against you.

We went out at a good pace. And by "we" I mean the 2nd lead group after the gazelles that take off at a 5k. We hit the 1st mile marker on a 6:20 pace. Not fast but not slow either. Now 5ks are an interesting race. Or at least to me they are. Unlike a 10k or greater distance, there's no "blowing up" on a 5k, just run as fast as you can and then at the halfway point or or 3 mile marker, turn on the jets. Well, due to my extreme concentration...or whatever...I totally missed seeing the 1 mile marker. As we hit the turn, I knew that we were moving pretty fast but we're headed home so I needed to turn up the speed. Now I also had motivation to continue pressing the pace. This tiny (like sub 5 foot) girl with a gymnast's build was right on my shoulder the whole way. Now, I don't like having ANYONE on my shoulder for a race but I dislike it even more when its a cute little girl who looked to be in her mid 20's there. There's no way she's getting by me so I need to step it up. I will say I took great pride in passing people wearing local runner's club kit. They looked like runners and here this broken old guy was passing them (insert smile here).

The crew post race
We hit the 2nd mile marker and I was a little tired but there's only 1.2 miles left so I need to get my butt in gear. I leaned forward, started to pump my arms and frantically pushed to get separation from the gymnast girl. There's a right hand turn into the finish with a cop car, lights flashing to mark the turn. When I saw it from about a 1/4 mile away I just gave it all I had. As I made the turn I could see the clock. It was in the high 19's. Are you kidding me?! My 5k PR is 19:54! For a race that I wasn't "racing" I was close to my PR?! Running I did some math (which if you know me you know tapped all of my mental reserves) and realized even running wide open at this point I'd finish around a 20 flat. Damnit!

Sure enough I crossed the line with 20:08...14 seconds off my PR. Yes, I know its still a good time, but to know I was that close while still feeling "good" during a race is a little frustrating. Good take away was that my pace was constant between 6:20-6:25 throughout the race. Unlike the 5k PR race I had where I went out at a 5:45 first mile and spent the rest of the race trying to hold on. That race was a year ago and here I am a year later (and older) and I came close to that time with little train up. I also knocked 90 seconds off my time from last year's race on the same course. So not bad and good learning points, so much for not "racing it". Luckily I could drown my thoughts in a GREAT post race breakfast at Friendly Toast afterwards...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Hot Chocolate 15k...there was NOTHING hot about it...

Normally I go into most races with some level of anticipation or agitation (um, have you met me or have you read this blog?) but this was an event that came up that seemed to be one of those just "neat" things to do. I don't know of many 15k's, it was in DC (hello, I love DC) and it was sponsored by Ghirardelli (um, hello I love chocolate even MORE!). So, kind of a no brainer. Fly down, have a great race, take in some sights, easy right? Um, NO!

We can start with packet pickup. I had no idea where the National Harbor was. Its about a 30min cab ride from the airport is how far. Holy moly, in the middle of nowhere much?! J and I finally get into the packet pick up tent to get our numbers and jackets. Yes, instead of your run of the mill cotton tee or a performance tee, this race offered water/wind proof running jackets as your schwag. I have to admit...THAT is great race schwag. Now we were told if we registered early, we'd get our names on the race numbers and if you could provide proof of times from prior races you could actually qualify to be placed in specific corrals (which would also be on the race number). I submitted my time from the Army Ten Miler which qualified me to be in high corral AND I received an e-mail from the race that my time qualified me to be in placed in Corral A. Sweet! I pull my race number from the name and not the corral I was told I was in. Ugh. Okay, I head over to the "customer service" table with my number and I was greeted by a peppy young girl who before I could open my mouth asked "and what corral do you want to be in?". Really? We're just willy-nilly sticking anyone in corrals because they want to be now? Crapballs! Ok, well I figure most people won't be in A because they would be concerned about being up front and I had Coral O on my bib so slap that "A" on there lady. Quick walk through the "expo", and I say "expo" with the quotes because it was really 6 tables of discounted gear for sale and an area to buy Hot Chocolate branded clothing, and back to where we're staying. Time to focus on having a good carb load meal, getting off the legs and getting some rest.

The crew pre-race trying to stay warm
Race morning meant getting to Crystal City to hop on a bus out to the venue. You'd think the driver would know where to take us right? RIGHT? Wrong! The bus driver, driving a chartered bus the size of a city metro bus, didn't get lost once...but TWICE on the way to the race start! Ever seen a bus that big trying to make a u-turn? It is not pretty my friends, not fun either. It got to the point where the local area folks that were sitting up front were telling the driver how to get the race venue. Something in me should've thought this would foreshadowed the day's events but I sat and continued to sip water and stay hydrated and more importantly enjoy the warmth. Oh ya, I guess I forgot to mention that while it was a balmy low 50's day on Friday, it plunged down into the 30's on race day. Just outfreakingstanding! The bus finally arrives at the drop off point and we walk up to the staging area. Now, there are tents that are heated where people are setting up hot chocolate and the food for after...but nothing for the ten thousand people showing up to race. We're all just forced to stand in this open parking lot freezing out butts off. One highlight was finally getting to meet one of my fav Twitter buds Bo and in turn also met Mary and Elyssa. Misery loves company and we were providing each other ALOT of company.

For some reason the race decided it would be better to start and end the 5k before they STARTED the 15k. So, after sitting around all morning shivering in the cold...we got to do it for ANOTHER 30 minutes AFTER being put in our corrals, waiting for the 5k to finish. Honestly, by this point most of us were so mad we were warm from the anger! And the whole time the announcer keeps saying how we can bathe in chocolate when we're done because there's so much of that's worth the wait (more on that little crock of crap later in the old blog).

Well, at least I look fast
Finally we hear the gun and we're off. Within the 1st 1/8th of a mile the course is already turning back on itself on our way to not one but 4 turns to retrace our run in order to get the 15k mileage. Look, long distance runs are boring by nature but when it's over the same run course over and over again...during a race no less..count me out. Oh and this race just gets better. My favorite part was coming up on the first water station to volunteers pointing to and yelling "water/Gatorade on the table" as they sat on the side of the road!

To be honest it didn't get much better for the rest of the race. Most of the race entailed running down hills to then turn around and run right back up them. The best part was the turn around that happened in a gravel parking lot in the middle of nowhere...ya, good times.

Ok, crossed the finish in 66:23 averaging a 7:08 pace. Not bad I guess. I would've liked to be faster but to be honest, at mile 3 or 4 I just wanted the race over so I bit down and pushed through. I mean this blog was gonna be named "fueled by anger" afterall.

Once again, I did not put together a "smooth race" bouncing around with 7:16, 6:54, 7:04, 7:19, 7:37, 7:02, 7:32, 7:12 and 7:36 for my mile splits which ended up giving me a 7:08 overall pace. I attribute most of that to the terrain. The course was just never flat long enough for me to get into any kind of rhythm. So, race done, linked up with the crew and headed to the much sought after chocolate. Another disappointment. Not only did we not get unlimited chocolate as promised (a small plate of a pretzel stick, a marshmallow, a little rice crispie square, 3 pieces of apple and a small cup of hot chocolate was all we got) but we were herded by megaphone wielding people telling us to "not stop and gather" and "keep moving". Really? We just got done running a poorly executed race while you stood around and now we can't even enjoy the after race party?!

Goodbyes said it was time to get back to where we're we staying. The shuttles to get back had a line with a 2 1/2 hour wait and DC suspended bus service to the area so the only way back was $40+ cab ride back to Georgetown. Just so you know it's not just me, you can find articles about the race here and here. It was so bad it made the D.C. press! As of yet the organizers haven't offered a refund or taken responsibility for a terrible event (oh ya, I forgot to mention that traffic and organization of the event were so bad that even starting an hour late some people were still stuck in traffic and unable to make it to the start!). I'm up to try another 15k race but it will never be by one sponsored by Running Away Multisport (ironic name I know).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The rescheduled Wrentham Halloween Duathlon...the only thing scary was my performance. Boo.

Having gone through taper madness the week prior I had to deal with my last duathlon of the season getting rescheduled due to MA's "snowtober". more week of trying to train, but not overtrain and stay sharp for the race. I had originally planned to run a local 5k on Saturday and since the dua got bumped, I'd race it the next day but thought that since I seemed to be getting a cold and wanting to do well on the Sunday, I decided to not run the 5k and focus all my energies (what there were of them) on the Dua.

I was support staff for J and her parents as they all ran the 5k on Saturday. While I was happy to do it, when I saw the times getting posted I couldn't help but think that I should've run the 5k myself. But no, no, no, the dua is the priority. It made more sense to save all my energy for Sunday's race (really, now I'm trying to be sensical?). THAT's the one I want to do well at. J posted a PR on the course, took 3rd in her age group and her mom won her age group for the 2nd year in a row. Great job by the two of them. Ok, support over, time to get get geared up for the Duathon.

I would love to say that race prep is this easy thing but that would be a straight up lie. I take over a room with gear layout so I can see it all. I hem and haw about what I should wear to the event, what I should wear for the event and what back up clothes/gear should be taken. Then there's what fuel to pack, how much and which water bottles should go (yes, I have specific water bottles to use based on event). I have done equipment layouts for "go to war missions" in my Army career that took less time and effort than it takes me to pack a transition bag! Then there's the bike. Oh, the bike. This will be the first event that I get to race my new 2011 Cervelo P2. If you don't think that bike looks sexy, you and I have no need to be friends. Cyclists and multisport racers always have a bike that is their prized possession. That P2 my friends is mine. Yes, I know they make P3's and P4's but to be honest those are variations on a theme. A theme set by the P2. So after lovingy wiping the P2 (named Natasha by the way) and double checking all the measurements were correct and fit was good, I was all set for the Duathlon.

Race morning went fine. Up at the right time, standard breakfast of cereal, juice and protein drink of some kind and headed out. Trying to be relaxed, I took my time and arrived at the setup area only an hour before the start. Now you may think that's normal but not for me dear redears. I normally show up to an event so early that I help the organizers SET UP. Yup, I'm THAT guy. I'm trying to get be better, I really am.

I LOVE duathlons, there is such a simplicity to setting up the transition area; bike, helmet, cycling shoes, water bottle and maybe a gel...thats it. Now I would be me if I didn't go back no less than 5 or 6 times to make sure the bike was set up right or my cycling shoes were in just the right location for easy donning. Now because I just got my P2, I have yet to buy the "wing" thats needed in order to mount anything behind the Carvelo's distinctive seat post so I decided to run the bike "skinny", 1 water bottle, no spare tubes or repair equipment. I must admit, as you can see in the picture, the bike looked pretty pimp. It was cold for race start, not as cold as the last time I did the event, but cold enough. I was wearing a tri top (Polar, of course) with a long sleeved under armour hot gear shirt, tri shorts and my Saucony Hattori's. I thought to use the Hattori's becuase it was a 3 and 2 mile run, the shoes weigh next to nothing (i.e. faster foot turnover) and the'yre like slippers so they'd be perfect to get on and off for a duathon. I knew what I'd run last time for the course so I knew I needed all the help I could get to run a faster time for the first leg. Now let me stop right here and say that while I knew what times I wanted to run, I had no plan for said want. So...when the gun went off, I decided to move to the front of the pack. I thought we were running fast but I was afraid to look down at my Polar RCX5G5. Why? Well, if I was running too fast, I was afraid I'd decide to slow down too much. If I felt like I was running fast and glance down to see I was actually running slower, it would take the wind out of me. Looking over my HR data post race, it seems I turned the first mile in 6mins. Granted I was hoping to run fast but thats a little fast for still having a lot of racing left on the day. So...even without looking at my watch during the race, I thought the pace was fast. Rather than trying to catch anyone, I just focused on hanging with the lead group. No mile markers on the course made pacing a little more difficult too. I was more gassed than I thought I'd be nearing the end of the first leg. I completely forgot that the end of each leg (both runs and the bike) finished a 1/2 mile climb INTO the transition/finish. Yay! And by yay I mean it sucked! I came in off the first 3mi run leg at 19:29, knocking a full minute off the run the last time I did the event .

T1 went relatively smoothly. I was cold and my fingers did not want to cooperate with me at all but I got out of T1 in 1:21, was on the bike and on my way. The bike course is billed as "rolling". When I, and the 3 guys around me, all on tri bikes, spend alot of time up and out of the saddle rocking our bikes....that's not rolling, thats HILLY my friends. I will say, that with even the hills my P2 rode like butter. Unfortunately I hit a pothole right out of the start. I thought for sure I'd flat (the idea of the sexy "skinny" bike now being a terrible one) but luckily I did not. Nor did I when I hit another pothole around mile 8. Ugh. I made it through the bike course flat free and headed into transition. The end ride into the transisiton area was over grass. GRASS?! Are you kidding me. I'm riding a razor blade of a bike thats edgy on pavement and in order to get into transition I have to ride on grass! It was like riding through sand...slow and difficult to keep the bike moving and upright. Into T2 at 35:07 which put me at an 18.7mph pace. NOTHING exciting about that pace at all. Even though the pace wasnt fast, I guess it was fast enough to freeze my hands and feet because neither of them wanted to work in transition. AND...those great slipper Saucony Hattori's that I thought would be so easy to get on in T2...were not. Cold hands, and cold sweaty feet made those Hattori's feel two sizes too small. I couldn't get those shoes on for the life of me. That led to a T2 of 1:19. That is flat ridiculous for a bike to run transition! Angry and cold, I was off on the run.

The 3rd leg was 2 miles and to be honest it took almost a full mile just for me to warm up and settle into a pace. Once again, I didn't focus on my watch for time or pace and just ran as hard as I could. That 1/2 mile climb into the finish sucked even more this go round. I ended up crossing the line in 1:11:19, knocking a minute off my time on the coure, coming in 22nd overall and 4th in my AG by...wait for it...30 seconds. Crappy T2 kept me off the podium. If you don't think I'm gonna stew about that one until I can race that course again, then you don't know me very well. I dod accomplish my goal going into the race of bettering my time but not going into it with a solid race plan and poor execution kept me from being even faster. It was a good performance, not great and I have plenty of lessons learned going into the offseason.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flexible is sex-able...

Ya, I have to give credit where its due. I stole that tagline from my buddy JMegs. You can follow his blog here.

So like any multi-sport athlete, I'm always looking for other types of workouts that will allow me to recover from the rigors of swim/bike/run training. Throw in that my body is the rice krispies treats of bones due to years of injury and that list becomes even more narrow! So J turned me onto Bikram yoga a couple of years ago. For those of you not in the yoga "know", Bikram is 26 yoga poses, done over the course of 90 minutes in a room heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40%. So in essence, you're turning your body into a human pretzel in a sweat box. I know that might sound like a turn off to the exercise but believe SHOULDN'T be. The heat keeps your body warm and receptive to the stretching, the list of poses (13 standing, 13 on the floor) are designed to gradually get harder throughout the session. The poses not only have benefit to joints but also for concentration, balance, digestion and circulation.

And...if you don't think its a workout, just look at my heart rate graph and calories expended total, courtesy of my Polar RCX5G5 and Those spikes in and elevated heart rate are from...POSES. My "workout space" for such a tough cardio workout was my 6ft by 3ft yoga mat. Um, did you see the caloric burn for that session? A thousand calories! That ain't no joke folks. I get a great plyometric muscle/joint workout in 90 minutes, that caused no pounding stress to said joints AND I burned a grand in calories to boot! And to be honest, when its over, I never feel more refreshed. A nice hot shower and I'm ready to head out for a run or bike ride. I know that sounds crazy but its the truth (at least in my case). Not to mention its a great change from the monotony that is triathlon training. Few things I certainly want to point out if you've never been to a Bikram yoga session: it wouldn't hurt to look here to at least get an idea of the poses you'll be doing (don't get freaked out, the people in those poses are PRO's. Very few people on the planet actually achieve that level of stretch in Bikram), understand that your first few sessions are going to be a learning experience until you get accustomed to the flow and tempo of the session, don't get upset that you can't do a pose or poses because "muscling your way" through them isn't going help and will probably hurt you and lastly...when they say all you have to do is breathe...believe them! I'm amazed about how much better I feel, how much more flexible I am and how quickly i seem to recover from tough workouts when I have Bikram in the trainiing rotation. You really should try it out. If you're looking for a great Bikram studio in the MetroWest Boston area I totally recommend Bikram Natick run by my friend Maria. She and her staff ROCK!!! Namaste.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I reached the beach...

Okay, so back in May of this year I was made aware of this thing called "Reach the Beach" (RTB) because J and a mutual friend were asked to be on a team. Being the inquisitive kind of guy I am, I had to log onto the Internets and find out as much about it as I could. The readers digest version: it's a 200 mile race over 24 hours, where you race as teams of 2 to 12, self supported. "Legs" are broken down by mileage/runner and the race folks set up and man "official transition points" where they note what runners are coming through and handing off the " baton" in order to make sure no one is cheating. Said transitions areas range from cones on the ground in the middle of nowhere to churches, schools and restaurant parking lots along the way. One of the benefits of the latter transition areas is that they are manned by locals and stocked with all sorts of great post run fuel.

So, I watched J and her 12 girl team do Reach the Beach Massachusetts, following their tweets and texts throughout, meeting them at a transition area at o'dark thirty in the morning to say hello and even met them at the end to see how it went. From the outside looking in it looked like so much fun and quite a for KNEW I was gonna have to do one myself.

Flash forward a few months and I find myself on a team for Reach the Beach New Hampshire. I must admit that seeing the start gate for the race was a little daunting but I was gonna do this thing come hell or high water (and as you read on you'll see it came pretty close at times). I had asked to be the runner with the most mileage on my team (um, of course) so at 11:16 on a cold Friday morning I stepped off on my first leg of 5.65 miles. If you know me at all from reading this blog or knowing me personally, you know I had two goals; run faster than any of my team mates AND run down as many other teams as I could. It was cold. Yes, I know its New Hampshire in September but it was cold. Tee leg started sunny but it rapidly got overcast, rainy, sleety (is that even a word?) and then cold. I picked up 6 teams while out on my leg and finsihed at a 7:05 average pace. Not bad, not great. I was hoping for sub 7 but knew that I had 3 more legs and little chance of real rest over the next few hours so I just did what I had in me. Two more runners after me and then my team was "off" for the next few hours while our second van and the runners therein took there turn at legs 7-12. The next few hours were spent having a delicious lunch, grabbing some more cold weather running gear (did I mentioned it was freezing cold) and napping in the van until it was out turn.

Less than 12 hours after my first leg I was back at it. My 2nd leg was 4.98 miles at 10:15pm. Not a long leg but I never run in the dark. I am always fearful of getting hurt, because of my own ignorance and lack of attention that leads me to step off a curb or into some hole in the pavement and sprain my ankle or worse (which I have totally done by the way. My last night run, I fell and sprained my ankle in the middle of a 10 mile anger-fueled-run that required me to run 5 miles back home on it. My foot, ankle and lower leg looked like some terrible science experiment gone wrong but that's for another post) or because some half awake idiot driver was gonna plow head on into my squishy body. Luckily, neither of those things happened. But, in my opinion, that leg was not marked very well for night running. At one point, had it not been for my team sitting at the top of a hill, I would've taken a wrong turn. The level of suck that would've come with that mistake isn't even something I would care to discuss. I would've been crestfallen (ya, big word, I looked it up, perfect for this situation). The leg was hilly and there was freezing rain. Amazingly, it was warmer at night for my second keg than it was for my first one in the middle of the day. AND...there were hills. I'm not familiar with the state of New Hamphire but I guess there are hills EVERYWHERE. So when I finished my leg in 37:09 at a 7:20 pace I was wiped out. Back in the van in some warm clothes and support my teammates as they finish their legs and and then it was off for some well deserved sleep.

My third and final leg was 8.66 miles at about 9:27 the following morning. Remember when I said earlier that the 'Shire of New Ham was hilly? Ya, I got the whole state in my last leg. THe elevation profile of the legs looked like a fat man's EKG! I have never in my life run a course like this. It was a bold new experience. One, that in all honesty, I'd rather not repeat anytime soon. Maybe I can talk to these organizers about a "Reach the Beach Georgia" would be pancake pancakes...wait back on track here. Anyway, the course was hilly and I was tired. Around mile 4, in perfect daylight with no one around, I stepped off the shoulder and twisted my ankle. So loudly in fact that a lady from another team standing on the side of the road asked if I had just broken my ankle and did I want to stop and have her call me team? Um, no. My motto has always been that there are only two ways to finish a race, crossing the finish line or being carried off in a stretcher. So, my response was, after a stream of expletives, "no thank you I have 4 miles to run this off" and just kept going. It was somwhere around mile 6 that I had that age old chat with myself that we all have at some point..."why the hell am I doing this?", "why can't I just be fat and sit on the couch watching tv while pounding a bag of Doritos (I've done that by the way, one of those family pack wasn't pretty and I'm not proud)?". I just need to get this run over and then I'm done. Of course, when I glanced down and saw that I was under two miles from the end I turned it on and headed for home. My frustration was replaced with the elation of running into the transition area with LOTS of people cheering me on and the realization that I was done running. Final leg done in 1:04, 7:22 pace. Ah, the hills were indeed alive and I was delighted to be through with them. Hence the look of fatigued happiness while I sat in the back of the van!

Yes, my RTB just turned into a spectator sport...sweet! Amazingly enough, while walking back to my team's van I ran into the lady that saw/heard me turn my ankle. She asked if I was okay and said she couldn't believe I kept running after that. Ya, the ankle was a little swollen and later turned a bit purple but to be honest it was worth it. I got to spend the rest of the time cheering on my teammates as they ran their last legs and we headed to the finish. I have to tell you, that I am normally ALL about MY performance but Reach the Beach taught me to actually enjoy a race and see it with/through the eyes of my teammates. My teammates were awesome and I can't thank them enough for asking me to participate! Now...when is Reach the Beach Massachusetts?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Allow myself to introduce myself...

Its funny that I get questions from alot of folks about "who I am" or what I think of myself or my favorite, "you seem like an interesting person". Not the least of which come when people, who only know me through social media, meet me in person. So here's a snapshot from a "25 things about yourself" that circled around my group of friends a while back. I'll do a write up of "my story" for the blog and throw in some pics for comedic relief.

1) I desperately wanted to be the cool kid in school but beyond the fact that I was a dork it was near impossible to get away with anything when my mom was a teacher in my high school and my dad was a cop in our town.When I look in the mirror I still see that dork kid.

2) The saddest day of my life was when the doctors told me that due to injury my career as an Airborne Ranger was over. I'm upset I never had the chance to lead men in combat nor did I get to leave the Army on my terms. I miss it every day.

3) I've had broken bones, surgeries, spinal meningitis, kidney stones, a broken back and pelvis before the age of 28. I figure the rest of my life should be smooth sailing. I'll sound like rice crispies but hopefully injury free.

4) I am a firm believer in the mantra of "that which does not kill us makes us stronger". Everything in our life, good or bad, helps us become the person we are. I truly believe that suffering makes you a better person.

5) Every year I treat the Tour de France like its the second coming. That's all that's playing on all the TV's in my house, its on the web and I get updates non-stop. I'm fanatical about it. I even take days off from work to watch the certain stages live (L'Alpe D'Huez is a must). I saw the Tour pass near my mother's hometown of Gaillac France in '86 and have been hooked ever since.

6) I have very few happy childhood memories but one of my fondest is my French uncle (a bear of a man) sneaking me out of his house so we could eat Lion-O chocolate bars and drink Orangina in his beautiful garden outside paris. I just thought that was the coolest thing.

7) I have 2 speeds, 100mph and 0mph. Unfortunately after all this time I've never found a speed in the middle. It has been a great cause of difficulty for me and most of the people in my life.

8) At any given time I have a thousand TV's in my head all tuned to different channels that I am indeed watching. And you wonder why I always look pre-occupied!

9) I care for my friends and family to a fault. If you're "in the circle", call me at 3 a.m. and say you need me to be there, I'm on the next plane no questions asked. I do however expect the same out of them but have been disappointed most of my life.

10) I believe like and respect can be mutually exclusive. I known plenty of people I've disliked but that doesn't mean they're not the best at their given profession.

11) I wear my heart on my sleeve. If I like you you'll know and if I don't like you, you'll definitely know that. Life is too short to put up with hidden agendas or BS. Either say what you mean or get out.

12) I love a good discussion. To sit down and have an in depth conversation with anyone is one of the best things ever. I don't care if its Schroedinger's Cat or Who's the best Bond (Connery of course!).

13) I know the craziest stuff. Wanna know who's voice is on that commercial on TV or when was the first time "x" actor was on screen? I'm your guy. However, I couldn't tell you what the inverse log of 10 was if my life depended on it. I have come to realize I have no say in what knowledge my brain retains.

14) For some reason I always feel I have something to prove and everything is a contest. I know its a terrible way to go through life and its caused more than one injury over time (see #3). That's probably driven by the fact that I grew up with a father that used to tell me "no matter how good you are there is always somebody better". I have to be the best at everything and if I can't be then I debate with myself over whether to do it all.

15) I fear death. I've seen it up close, on too many occasions and know that there are too many things I have left to do that I don't have time to die right now.

16) I have an unhealthy obsession with technology. If its a new bell or whistle I have to read/know all about it and then must have it for myself. When they find a way to install hard drives in our head and replace all our joints and muscles with nano composites, I'll be the first in line for the surgery.

17) I am constantly amazed by the human race. I find it very hard to believe that we possessed the skill to crawl out of the primordial ooze and evolve into what we've become. Or the fact that all it takes is for you to look around and see most of us haven't evolved at all.

18) I get sick to my stomach and moved to tears any time I hear "Taps" played.

19) I realized that after deep introspection that I'm an obsessive compulsive, narcissistic sociopath with low self esteem, approval issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yes, ladies I am a catch!

20) I love comic books and in particular Iron Man. When you were a dork kid without a lot of friends, comic books were a great way to escape and be anyone. I, in particular, idolized Tony Stark and Iron Man. What kid doesn't want to grow up to be a genius billionaire playboy who was also a super hero. Yeah he's an alcoholic but that's a small price to pay. I know practically EVERYTHING about Iron Man and own almost every comic book. Whatever, its my one vice.

21) Learned in college that drinking and I don't agree. Its not that I don't like it, its just that I get in trouble. I'm a huge fan of Double Black Jack and Hose Cuervo but they've gotten me into more than enough trouble. I have the bone chips and scars to prove it.

22) I hate my birthday, Christmas and almost all holidays. I do however LOVE Thanksgiving and would be happy to spend all day cooking, making the turkey and enjoying the meal with family and friends.

23) I could spend all day in a movie theater watching movies. I have skipped out on class and work to do so, paying for the first show of the day and then spending the rest of the day sneaking into movie after movie. There's just something awesome about the lights going dark and getting lost in a great story for a couple of hours.

24) After leaving the Army I got up to 245 pounds on a diet of Coca-Cola, McDonalds and cigarettes. Yeah, there's ONE of fat me that exists. I've never been so ashamed or embarrassed.When I look in the mirror I still see that guy.

25) Every time I fly to Atlanta I always take time and drive out to Covington (the place I consider my hometown). I have no family left there (and until Facebook had no idea that any of my friends were there) but I drive around just to see home. I like to see the town, how its changed and am always surprised at how its become a suburb of Atlanta. I remember when the only thing to do was cruise Newton Plaza, go to El Charros, drink at the water tower or hang out at the Waffle House. I've lived all over the world and now that I live in Massachusetts I realize the greatness that is down to Earth Southern people. I wanted so very much to get out of that hick town but as I get older I'd gladly move back there in a heart beat.

By no mean is the above list all inclusive, to quote Shrek..."I am an onion" but I thought this might give you a shotgun blast about me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Inaugural BAA 10k, the first time in my life that negatives have been positive

I am still short the goal money I needed to raise for my charity run of the Boston Marathon. I'd appreciate any and all contributions. No amount is too small. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate just hit the button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance. Now on to the bloggy.

Hi, my name is Dutch and I have a problem. Hi, Dutch...

No really, I do have a problem, I get caught up in the moment at start of EVERY race. The nervous energy, the "will I do well", "am I faster than that guy", "is today a PR for me", "do these shorts make me look fat"...all sorts of thoughts run through my mind. That all leads to me going out way too fast, blowing up within a few miles of a race and then fighting through pain and agony in order to finish and turn in a decent time.

Well, not this time my friends, no sir. THIS time I was finally gonna do it, I was gonna run negative splits at the Inaugural BAA 10k. Now to be honest, I was helped in that decision by looking around and seeing all the pro's and club runners warming up around me. Looking like little, fast, nimble deer in their warm up gear and here I am walking around looking like bull in a china factory the decision was made. So, knowing there was NO way I was gonna place, I decided that this would be the first race I would actually try this novelty thing called "the negative split".

So...walking up to the 7:30min pace corral I did some last minute stretching, reminded myself of the goal at hand and waited for the gun to go off. And...for the first time...when it did go off I didn't take off like a bat out of hell. Looking down at my pace, I decided to start on 7:30's and then slowly work my way down.

Miles 1,2,3-7:38, 7:23, 7:30
I wouldn't say they were comfortable miles. Not in the sense that I was hurting, rather I didn't know what to do since I wasn't hurting. I mean, isn't every race supposed to be a battle with nausea and cramping right out of the gate? Realizing that wasn't the case was a new experience. Change? We fear change... I was trying to be conservative (hence the 7:38) but hitting the turn (yes it was an out and back favorite kind) I realized I could start chipping away at my pace on the way home.

Don't worry Marathon Photo,
I bought this pic it just hasnt arrived yet

Miles 4,5- 7:19, 7:12
Now I felt like I could start to speed up. I should probably run negatives knocking off 10secs per per mile but I kinda got excited when I hit the turn and then tried to make myself settle down. In hindsight I didn't need to be so conservative the first half but oh well.

Miles 6 and the .2- 7:02 and 6:23
One mile left and I felt I had gas in the tank for a kick.  Contrary to my normal feeling of running on vapors and having extending conversations with the deity of choice about how, if I ever cross the finish line, I will never run another one of these stupid races again. So with only the .2mi to go I figured I should dump whatever fuel I had left.

For the first time ever, I crossed a finish line: not angry, not a wreck and actually happy with my performance. And...I might actually have been happy. I only thought other people experienced this but no, no I could too. Granted it was no land speed record at 45:39 but it was a decent time. It was however only 8secs slower than the 10k I'd run the 2 weeks prior and in that race I blew up at mile 3 and was hanging on for dear life. I'm still chasing a 40min 10k but I guess getting smarter about how to race will help.

My name is Dutch, I have a problem...but I'm working on it and am making progress...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It was my shame but now it's my pride...

As I write this I am still short the goal money I needed to raise for my charity in order to run the Boston Marathon. I was able to run (obviously) but the bill is going to come due and I'm still over $1,000 short. I'd appreciate any and all contributions. No amount is too small. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate just hit the button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance. 

It has taken a long time for me to come to grips with the 2011 Boston Marathon. To be honest it took all my desire to train and race, hard or otherwise completely away. I have been embarrassed and ashamed of that race and my performance, or lack thereof, so I've done everything I could to not think or talk about it and move on. Then I ran across this picture in a stack of racing photos and numbers. I hate this picture. I hated it when I turned the corner and saw the cameraman taking it, I hated it when I saw it on the "proof page" for marathon photo and I hated it when it came in the mail. I ordered it however because it is an image that truly portrays how I felt from mile 13 on.

You can read about my Boston Marathon in an earlier blog post on here but a quick BLUF (bottomline up front) is that is sucked. Not sucked as in "aw, man I'm not gonna get a PR" but sucked as in "I'm so angry and in so much pain that hate everything and want to find a puppy or baby to strangle (don't worry, no children or animal were harmed during the course of my marathon)".

I will be honest and tell you that I work very hard for no one to see me in pain or struggling especially when it comes to races. I was taught as a young cyclist thats okay to be in pain...but no one shoukd ever know you're hurting lest they attack. I would love nothing better to be a machine when it comes to training and racing, able to drop a 6 or 6:30 mile pace at any distance on any day but that's not the case. When it doesn't go my way I just lock my jaw and push through. Which, in hindsight, is probably why I look constipated in most if not all of my race photos and most days at my desk ( in hindsight maybe that's why I always get those weird looks at work).

I do think however that weakness is not in the body but in the mind. The only reason you can finish well or even finish at all in some cases is because you believe you can and tell your body you will. Unfortunately for me it feels as if I have spent most of my life in damn near any of my pursuits, athletic or not, having to put my head down and telling myself to get it done no matter what. That certainly was the case with Boston. My race systematically fall apart as the miles went on. I cramped up, threw up and blew up but the thought of not finishing NEVER crossed my mind. I saw people fall down, pass out and give up all around me. I just put my head down and knew I'd suffer whatever I had to in order to finish. The face in that picture shows it.

I hated this picture...and now...I love this picture.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Half's been a long, long time.

Just a reminder, I have still yet to raise the required amount of money needed for the charity I ran the Boston Marathon for. As of today I'm over $1,000 short of my required goal. I'm STILL to raise money so I could really use your help. I appreciate any and all contributions. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate, please click the donate button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance.

So I registered for the Worcester Half Marathon a while back thinking it would be a good follow on for Boston. Little did I know that I'd lose all my racing/training mojo after that marathon. I've slowly gotten back into racing through duathlons but those only have 2 or 3 mile long running legs. Subsequently, I haven't done a run over 4 or 5 miles since Boston...but my duathlons have been going well so I figured I'd throw in at least a 6 mile training run before the race and I should be good. Right? Right?!

As competetive as I am, I had to realize going into the race; I haven't done a half mary in over a decade and that having any expectation more than finishing would be silly (um, just because I said that out loud does not mean I thought that for real at all. I just know it's the "right thing" thing to think). I did not however expect to dislocate a rib the day prior to the race (a different one this time, long story for both how I can dislocate ribs and how this one got dislocated). Oh well, figured since I registered for it I'd just go into for fun and see how I did. If the pain was too great I could always drop out, right (yes, another thing that sounds right to say)?

So on Saturday J and I went to the "expo" to pick up our numbers and race. Said "expo" turned out to be 4 tables and a rather disjointed group of people assembling race packets. I wasn't expecting an expo the size of Boston's but sheesh. So, big pasta dinner and a good night's sleep was in order before the big day.

Luckily the race start was just down the street from J's place so no need to deal with the mess and hassle of parking. A short walk and we were there. Milling around at the start, it dawned on me that the dislocated rib, the realization that Worcester is by no means a flat city (i.e. hilly) and that I've not run over 5 miles since Boston were all conspiring to make this a less than fun endeavor. So, I tried to something a bit out of character for me...calm down and be smart. I recently read an article on that for races where you're given a chip for timing, since time starts when you cross the start line not at the gun there's no need to be at the front nor rush to be there at the gun. Since I have a terrible problem with going out to fast at the start of a race and fading over time I figured this would be a great way to approach the race. The gun sounded and we're off. Now one of the added benefits of starting at the back of the you get the great psychological boost of running by people throughout the length of a race :)

Miles 1-4: 7:44, 7:34, 7:38, 8:11
My rib was killing me. By mile 2, I made the decision to give it one more mile and if I didn't feel better I'd stop. Then I said the same thing to myself at mile 3. By mile 4 it didn't notice it anymore so I just concentrated on running. That 8min pace at mile 4 was a result of a hill...a really big hill.

Miles 5-8: 7:32, 7:44, 7:25, 7:53
I tried to settle into a comfortable groove. However it was starting to get warm so I tried running in the shade as much as possible.

Miles 9-12: 7:55, 7:55, 8:11, 8:02
Now I'm obviously starting to get tired. The lack of training at this distance is starting to set in. Add in that there was one huge, long hill, in the sun with no shade in sight before the "turn for home" and I started to slow.

Mile 13 and that .1: 8:07, 7:34
To be completely honest, by this time I just wanted it to be over. The last mile seemed to last forever. I started to pick up the pace as I passed the mile 13 marker. I crossed the finish in 1:42:45, averaging a 7:50 pace. I was shooting for at least a 1:45 so not too bad. Hindsight being what it is, had I been able to keep pressing through miles 10-13, I could've not only a shaved 2 minutes off my time but I would've been able to catch my other friend running the race (I am competitive remember). All in all not a bad day and the grin in the photo shows I am very happy to be done with the race. Oh ya, HUGE thanks to Jessie for being an awesome, one woman support staff and photographer. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I just did it at the "Just Du It" Duathlon

Even though the Boston Marathon is over, I still have yet to raise the required amount of money needed for the charity I ran for. As of today I'm over $1,000 short of my required goal. I was lucky enough to get an extension so I could really use your help. I appreciate any and all contributions. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate, please click the donate button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance.

I have to admit that I wasn't really planning to run a race this past weekend. I'd been out of the gym/off the road for 5 days and was just gonna be a lump but I got peer pressured into registering for the race (funny story actually because I registered for the wrong race! My friend wanted to do the one on Memorial Day weekend and I thought she meant the one on May 21st. I refuse to have a "DNS" so I dragged my butt out of bed to get to the race). Of course I ended up being the first racer there. So after being the test case for check-in and packet pick up I headed out to the transition area to set up. I have to admit that a duathlon transition spot looks so much smaller compared to a triathlon one. It looked like I was missing something (ya, another sport!). 
After set up I had time to chill out and make the prerequisite numerous bathroom stops required from a morning filled with water and coffee. A little warm up run and it was off to the start line. 

On the starting line I looked around to see a local that always places in the top 3 of any race he enters (ugh) and then I glance over to see a guy wearing a skinsuit of the Great Britain National Team (are you f’ing kidding me?!). So….I quickly made the assessment to just go out and enjoy my first real “race” since the Boston Marathon. I was really surprised how good I felt off the starting line. We quickly turned into the lead pack of 4 runners and pulled away from the rest of the field. I knew we were running fast but didn’t want to look down at the pace for fear it would freak me out and I’d slow down, so I just focused on hanging with the lead group. 1st, 2nd and 3rd pulled away but I kept them in sight. Heading into T1 off the 3 mile run my time was 18:24 and I was 4th overall. For whatever reason T1 was a killer. I took way longer than I wanted. I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t seem to catch my breath or I was amazed that I was 4th overall but I fumbled with getting out of my running shoes, helmet on, grabbing fuel and a quick sip of water before hopping on the bike. That time wasted let 3 people get by me coming out of transition. 

The bike course was billed as rolling hills and a downhill toward the end. It certainly didn’t feel that way to me. I shot a GU and got some more water in me. It took me a good couple miles to get my breathing under control and settle in. By then I did notice that I need to change the stem on the tri bike. I felt way to jammed up and need to stretch out a little more (a 10mm longer stem should be just the ticket). I was also concerened that the bike course wasn't marked very well and there were a couple of times I had that sinking feeling I missed a turn. While on the bike 2 other people passed me. Now if you know me at all, you know that makes me VERY angry…cycling is MY sport and nobody is supposed to pass me. So I got angry and pedaled harder. The course was hilly and on a couple of occasions I got out of the saddle to muscle through (and yes, I know that negates all aero goodness of my sweet tri bike but I did say I was angry…). Headed into T2 off the 11 mile bike my time was 35:18 and I was in 7th overall. 

2nd transition went a little more smoothly but still fumbled with trying to get a drink of water and get out. Unfortunately 1 guy beat me out of transition so I left out for the last 2 mile leg in 9th place overall. My legs felt like lead coming off the bike and I needed at least a quarter of a mile to get them settled and back on pace. I could see 7th and 8th place in front of me and tried to close the gap but since the final leg was only 2 miles I couldn’t catch them. I came into the finish with a 2 mile time of 14:03, finished 9th overall and took 2nd in my age group with a final time of 1:10:25. I have to say, I was actually proud of myself. I just did the event “to do it” and didn’t put any real pressure on myself to place. Like I said earlier, I contemplated not doing the event at all. I was very happy to get a top 10 finish and the age group placing was icing on the cake. Not a bad day. Not to mention, wearing my Polar gear and doing so well I really felt like a Pro! Big props go out to J for being my support team. It was great to have her there to chat with and keep me calm during the morning and yell out splits and words of encouragement at the transitions and at the finish! Now to register for that Duathlon this upcoming weekend….

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My 2011 Boston Marathon, there wasn't the thrill of victory but there was the agony of defeat...

Although the Boston Marathon is over, I still have yet to raise the required amount of money needed for the charity I ran for. As of today I'm still $1,000 short of my required goal. I was lucky enough to get an extension to the 18th of May to hit my mark. I'd appreciate any and all contributions. No amount is too small. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate, please click the donate button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance. Now onto the race recap...

Okay, I’ve been way overdue for race reports (I have a few in the hopper) but wanted to get this one out since it was fresh in my mind. I could, and probably will, write up an entire post about the Athlete’s village, all the people and the spectacle that is the Boston Marathon but I’m just focusing on the race and me for this post. I guess where to start with all this is that I drove into Boston last year to see the marathon expo before the 214th edition of the Boston Marathon to see what all the hubbub was about.  I will tell you as I walked around the expo and saw all the booths and all the people participating I thought to myself "hey, I can do this". I’m fit, I’m fast and have a mileage base. I've done marathons, there’s no reason without training I couldn’t run a decent marathon time even if it was the “historic” Boston. There was a lot going on in my life at the time so I just kinda kept the desire and inner monologue to myself for months. Then while out running a local 5k with J, I mentioned wanting to run the marathon in passing. Her mom made some calls and then told me she knew how I could get a number if I wanted to run and then this quest was underway.

I have run marathons (quite a few actually) but it had been years (again, quite a few actually) since I’d run my last. There was a time when I and a group of friends in college ran marathons because it was something to do on the weekends and a reason to take trips. There was little “serious training” applied toward those events. Because of who I am and all the Army Ranger training, I have become very accomplished at being able to put my head down, fighting through the pain and finishing. That was how I got through most of those marathons, but this was Boston, the crown jewel of marathons, and I wanted this to be a special race. I wanted to not necessarily have an easy race but I didn’t want it to be a grueling slugfest to the end.

So, I got a coach and a training plan and went to work. While that “structured” marathon training started at 8 weeks out, I thought I had a great fitness base to go forward. I did all my workouts at the ties prescribed or faster. I won’t go into the week by week breakdown but 3 big things I think that are noteworthy during the training were my “long run” of 21 miles (that was completed at a 7:46 pace. I did bonk, like huge crash and burn bonk at the end, but made it through), I got the flu and missed 5 training days the week after that long run, and the 13mi training run (finished in 1:36)  8 days before the marathon (the 21 and 13 mile runs were on the Boston course). I felt good, prepared but little antsy the taper week leading up to Boston. I will say that I thought a “bad day” would have me running a 3:30 or 3:45 marathon but I thought that with my training and average pace throughout the training, I should hit in the 3:20s on race day.

My plan was to lay back and just deal with getting through the mass of humanity in the first few miles. I was in Wave 3, in the 6th of 9 corrals. There were A LOT of people in front of me. I thought that would work in my favor. I have a tendency to go out fast for every race so this would force me to slow down, focus on navigating through people and get some space so I could settle into my pace and run.  I figured that would probably take me 2 or 3 miles, 4 at the worst and then I’d settle into a 7:45 pace.

I got a call from my coach the night prior to the race with a new plan. Run the first 8-10 miles at an 8 minute pace, run up to the 20 mile mark at 7:50s and then either hold that pace for that last 10k or use up what I had left in the tank for the finish. The purpose being it would hold me in check during the “downhill” portion of the marathon and give me legs to get through the uphill section to 21 without bonking. I will say that this new plan completely freaked me out and I said as much. I am very much a creature of habit. I train as I fight (there’s the Army creeping in again) so if I train at 7:45s then that’s how I’ll run. Now I need to run to a new pace. Because I wasn’t accustomed to the 8 minute mile, I was afraid I’d expend precious energy in the early part of the race “chasing the pace” (i.e. would look down and see 7:45, know that was too fast, layoff the gas, hit 8:10 then need to speed up to hit 8s) but that was the plan and I'm a good soldier so let’s go with it.

So come the following morning, I step across the line in Hopkinton and the race begins:

First five miles: 8:52, 8:00, 7:51, 7:54. 8:09
Like I said I knew the 1st mile or 2 would be a toss up because of all the people. I spent alot of time weaving between bodies and trying to find a "clean" running lane. Every time I glanced down to see my pace I was at a 7:45, plan was to hold 8's so I'd slow down to get there and then like clockwork I'd fall to 8:05 or 8:10 and have to speed up again. It was really nice to see my chiropractor Dr. G on the sidewalk cheering me on. If not for him keeping this bag of bones together I don't know if I could've done Boston at all. But I was really focused on my pace so I could only gave him a quick nod. As you can see by the pace breakdown, I was working very hard to get to and stay on 8 minute miles. I felt good, not great. It was warm. Granted it was in the mid 50's but when you live in MA and the normal temps were in the 40' felt warm.

Miles 6-10: 7:52, 7:59, 8:00, 7:53, 7:58
The only thing I was focused on was trying to hit 8 minute miles. It was a challenge to say the least. I was constantly looking down at my pace to see where I was and constantly adjusting to try to stay on 8's. I hit the 8 mile mark and realized I wasn't feeling great so I figured holding 8 minute miles out to the 10 mark might give me some time to recover and worst case I'd make that my pace for the rest of the marathon and end up with a finish time in the 3:30's. I had a friend hand me a carbo drink at the 9 mile mark and I sipped away at that over the next 2 miles.

Miles 11-15: 8:18, 8:22, 8:38, 8:44, 9:04
I hit the 11 mile mark and was tired. I felt as if I'd been running for a lot longer than 11 miles. I think that the energy I expended chasing that 8 mile pace for the first 10 miles physically and mentally exhausted me. That amount of energy should've gotten me to 18 or 19 and here I was only at 11. Ugh. The only highlight was having my personal cheering section. I didn't realize it but my yoga teacher Maria was on the sidewalk and jumped 10 feet in the air when she saw me. That might have put the only smile on my face for the race. Just before 13, while running through Wellesley I didn't feel well.  In the midst of having a "I wonder why I don't feel well" discussion with myself, I threw up. In stride mind you because I wasn't gonna slow down for nothing! I was happy to have at least got a "...did you see that guy throw up and keep running? That was awesome!" yelled from some girl on the side of the street. I felt a little better but it took a little out of me as you can see my pace slowed after that. I knew that my new focus would be to replenish water and electrolytes because of what I was losing/just lost.

Miles 16-20: 8:55, 9:43, 10:50, 10:06, 11:11
I made sure I grabbed water and Gatorade at each mile marker (as in stride as possible) and sipped them to replenish. I knew that J was just on the other side of 17 with another carbo drink so I had the bonus of not only getting some fuel but also seeing a friendly face with words of encouragement to perk me up to look forward to. As the picture can attest, I needed all the perking up I could get. I was exhausted. There is something to be said when you realize this and STILL have 9.2 miles of running left to go. I just leaned forward and kept going. After the 17 mile mark is where you turn right at the fire station in Newton and head uphill. After cresting that hill I threw up again. This is where I had a moment of panic. I tried hard to get back to running a decent pace but throwing up again made me quickly realize I was gonna lose/losing the hydration/electrolyte balance that is so key to long distance events. My focus immediately changed. It went from a "let's keep this pace or that pace" kind of operation to a "lets focus on what's important and salvage what we can" type of operation. For those of you that now me or know the story, this was the 2009 Chicago Triathlon all over again (that one however was because of an error with the events staff/organizers). I had to now make sure I grabbed water and Gatorade at every mile marker from here on out to try and limit the damage.

Miles 21-25: 12:28, 10:46, 11:59, 12:16, 12:52
Now I'm just struggling to get back in any kind of running rhythm. You can see that miles 19-21 I went 10's, 11's and 12's minute pace respectively. At mile 21 I threw up again. Now, there is nothing left in the tank. I'm fighting through nausea (ever time I tried to pick up the pace I fought the urge to vomit so I'd lay off the gas), muscle cramping/seizing and I'm angry. I mean really angry (about a long list of things but this really isn't the forum for that discussion). For those of you that don't know me...welcome to MY fuel. Unfortunately, I am great at performing angry. I have the ability to turn off the world, focus on what I'm most mad about and that can, and has, got me through everything difficult in my life to the finish. When other people give up or quit, I can run on angry vapors forever. So time to buckle down and go down swinging. I got the pace back down in the 10's and then 11's, 12's respectively again. I saw the infamous Citgo sign and knew I was close to the end, so I gave it everything I had left. You know my motto..."you can throw up at the end". Sure I threw up 3 times already but I'm sure I had something left. Mile 26 went down at an 11:54 pace, that .2 mile end of the race was run at a 10:05 pace and my 2011 Boston Marathon was over. I will tell you that one of the main things that kept me going toward the end was knowing I'd get to add the very desirable,  and in my opinion the my very much earned, Boston marathon medal to my collection. That is why there's a smile creeping into my face.

I was and still am disappointed. My goal was never "just to finish". Hell, for those of you that know me...not finishing is never an option. I would've crossed the finish line with pneumonia and on two bloody stumps if I had to (ya, ask me about that forced road march in Ranger School). My goal was to have what I deemed to be a respectable time for me. I'm embarrassed by that overall time and by my pace throughout the second half of the marathon. Those aren't my numbers. That is only applicable to me. Everyone has their own pace for their own events but those aren't the kind of numbers I expect for myself. I firmly believe that if you aren't disappointed when you don't accomplish your goal, therein lies failure. My body has recovered. The day after Boston I logged a 21 mph bike ride and I'm back running again. I hope if the weather holds this weekend I can go out for an 8 or 10 mile run on Sunday. I don't know what to think moving forward. I will continue to train and race. I don't know if I want to do another marathon or if I have any desire to do Boston again, only time will tell.

And let me just clear this up before I get the standard "this is just one race" or "its not failure but what you learn from it" crap. I've had 7 surgeries, a broken back, a broken pelvis, broken more other bones than I desire to count, had spinal meningitis and kidney stones, and a very successful career and as Airborne Ranger leader while dealing with all that and the Army STILL had to tell me "thanks for playing but you can't do this anymore" and medically board me out for me to discontinue my service. Three years ago I weighed 245 pounds, had a size 38 waist and dragged my ass back into the gym to get back in shape and start being competitive again. I'm now normally around 168 pounds and frequently turn a sub-6 minute mile. I'm a walking poster child for "knocking the dust off and getting back up".

Right now I think I'm gonna get back to the type and frequency of training that allowed me to pick any race on a weekend and do well. I will always fight on to the next Ranger Objective...

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Worcester Celtic Pride 5K. Ya, I focused on the big picture but it all got fuzzy.

I am still short the goal money I needed to raise for my Boston Marathon run for charity. I'd appreciate any and all contributions. No amount is too small. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate just hit the button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance.
Yes I was in the middle of marathon training but if I go for more than a couple weeks without racing I go crazy. So, I figured why not squeeze in an easy 5k? Its not much race mileage, should be fun and I'd still be able to go out and do the 13 mile training run I had on the schedule. Now the Celtic 5k is one of a 3 part 5k racing series that takes place in MA and RI. I considered racing all 3 to see how I'd fair but decided to just go with race in Worcester since it's so close to my house. The race happened only a few hours before the Worcester St. Patty's Day parade so there was a TON of people out to offer support while they were setting up in their spots to watch the parade. And, since it was pretty much the only race going on in the area that weekend and it was a "series" race, there was a A LOT of people racing. Notice I didn't say running. Yes, when you go to any race the participants are broken down into 2 classes: people "running" and people "racing". And now a public service announcement from me: As an FYI, the "racers" are normally adorned in local running club attire or sporting their marathon of choice clothing. Being in Massachusetts means "racers" are normally wearing BAA or any of 3 or 4 high end running club's gear or Boston "qualifier" clothing. They normally look like little gazelles and are warming up and stretching frantically before the start. If you see these people, they are taking this race seriously and are hoping for a placing or top ten finish. And now back to the recap. All that contributed to a "mini-Boston" kind of feel that was kind of cool (although after running Boston it wasn't even 5% of what I would experience at the Mara).

There were quite a few things this race had going for it (at least for me): First off it was on a chilly morning. Yes, I consider myself a Southern boy but I don't run well in the heat anymore. The cooler, the better. Second, it was an out and back course. I LOVE out and back courses. Yes, the turn might suck a little but it helps me gauge pace going out and coming back and if I can see the finish it motivates me to stay fast throughout instead of living off mileage markers to know where I am in the race. Lastly, it was flat...I mean damn near pancake flat! The race had expected pace corrals also set up and asked people to self seed. So, even though I knew I wasn't supposed to go all out I figured I'd move my way toward the front and see how I'd fare. The race starts and I'm off. I went out a little too fast (see the trend here...). And by fast I mean fast! I hit the 1st mile in 5:55 without even realizing it (and I was only in the top 50 with that time). Part if me was excited (come on, who doesn't want to be speedy?!) and part of me got concerned. I did have a 13 mile run on the schedule today after all (that longer mileage after and all out race is gonna suck).

So, I laid off the gas... or so I thought. The turn was hairpin, so a little precarious, and we were back on our way to the finish. I hit the 2nd mile 12:30. So much for laying off the gas. I was surprised actually. I felt good, I wasn't winded, nor hanging off for dear life which is my usual race regimen. It struck me that I could grab a PR. That elusive animal all we runners chase. I set a 19:54 at the 5k distance a year earlier (yes I have run a 19:30 but I was 20 at the time so that does not count now at my advanced age, with a broken body and over a decade layoff from racing) and I realized that I could beat it. Talk about a devil and angel sitting on your shoulders! In the span of about 30 seconds I ran through every discussion in my head. Should I turn on the gas and try for the PR? Should I lay off the gas since the focus of the winter was training for Boston and just finish? Or...should I stay at my current pace and just see how I fare? In the end I settled with Boston being the ONLY thing I should be focusing on and laid off the gas...finishing in 19:54 which put me 63rd out of 1426. Are you f'ing kidding me?! 19:54 and I laid off the gas? Sonuva!!! Yes, I know that I wasn't supposed to be "racing" the 5k but like I ever show up for a race to run "just for training" or "just for fun" even.Yes I know that there was a bigger picture but I am me after all. I could've smashed a PR. You know as a runner, when yo get fast, bating a PR by even 15 seconds is a big deal. We're talking I could've cut a minute, even 90 seconds off my PR. Ugh!

Think I could just get over it and move on? Why no, what do you think I got to ponder the whole time during the aforementioned 13 mile training run? Yup...welcome to being me. Note to self: if you have a chance to set a PR you'd better do it no matter what. If will sit somewhere in that 90% of your brain you don't use and pop up at the most inopportune times...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The "Old Fashioned 10 Miler". The only thing "old fashioned" was the pain.

Of course I must remind you that I'm running the Boston Marathon this year on a charity number so I need to raise money in order to participate. If you are so inclined/motivated please click the donate button at the top right of my blog to donate to my cause and thank you in advance. Now onto the bloggy.

I have been struggling with not starting too fast and working hard to keep a steady pace while racing. If anything my posts, tweets, and Facebook status have showed you is I'm the "go as hard as you can" guy. Problem is you can get away with that for a 5k but once you stretch out to 10ks and beyond the idea of this mythical notion of "pace" becomes more and more important. The first 10k of my season, appropriately enough on New Years' Day (what better way to start the year I thought) I went out to turn the 1st mile in around 6 minutes and spent the race of the race trying to "settle" down. That effort led me to slowing down and being caught by very people I blew past at the start.

So being the good student, I decided to pick a long race a week in advance no less, as opposed to a couple days before which is my norm, and seeing if I could start "slow" and run a steady paced event. The race of the day was the "Old Fashioned 10 Miler" held in Foxborough MA. Luckily for me, one of my coworkers was running the race too and was hoping to run an 8-8:15min pace. How better to start well and then run negatives throughout I thought than to start with her? So, a light mile run to the start. Ya, I had no idea it was that far from the registration area but it was a great reason to get warmed up and tune the HR. We pushed our way along still iced over 3 foot snow banks to finally make our way to the front of the pack for the start. There we a lot of people racing today. A lot? Over 500 ran the event.

So while chatting about a run strategy with my coworker, the gun went off and the race was on. The course billed itself as "2 flat miles, 6 rolling miles and 2 flat miles". It may have been billed that way but couldn't be further from the truth. We were running uphill before even hitting the first mile marker. A quick glance down showed my HR at about 145 and we ran the first mile in 7:51. That's the slowest 1st mile I've run in a race in a long, very long time but I felt great! Pushing toward mile 2 my coworker said she was going too fast and was gonna lay of the gas. Goodbyes exchanged, we parted ways. I settled into a comfortable pace and the next thing I realize I hit mile 3 in 20 minutes. Guess I was feeling feel pretty good. Now it was all about keeping this comfortable pace and staying warm. Oh ya, did I forget to mention it was wicked cold?! We're talking 17degrees kiddies and with an equally wicked wind, the temp dipped down to the low teens. Brr, just brr.

This was a race of firsts all around. This race also had me wearing the most clothing I've ever worn for a race too. Nike head sock, Nike running gloves, under armor cold gear shirt, long sleeve t shirt, my new Polar running singlet and, and, and my new polar running jacket. Yes, it was cold kiddies. At one point I thought of taking off my jacket, rolling it up and running with it in my hand but then I'd hit a strip of shadowed road or a good gust would hit me and I thought better.

So while alternating opening and closing my jacket in rider to regulate heat I noticed a funny thing....I was actually ticking off miles at a steady 7:30 pace. Miles 4, 5, 6 ticked away and then toward the end of mile 7 was "the hill". Everest it was not but it was a climb nonetheless. So much so, you could almost hear my fellow runners' collective "pop" when they hit it. So if they hill is slowing them down then it's time to pump my arms and pass them. Which, I did like a champ however once I hit the top of the hill my hurt felt like it was gonna explode. A quick glance down to my Polar FT7 heart rate monitor showed my heart rate hit a dizzyingly high 236bpm. Less dizzy than black spot seeing which made me realize I need to adjust HR zones based on a massive max HR.

I have never been so happy to see a mile marker, even it it was only mile 8, even having 2 more to go.Mile 8 was tough however. I tried very hard to maintain my pace while getting my heart to settle down. Then there was mile 9. There is a certain happiness that comes from knowing you're closing in on the finish and it's only 7 to 7:30 minutes away. I wasn't familiar with the course so I gingerly started to get faster for fear theee was some dumb hill around the corner or I might gas out. After a few minutes I heard heard a local runner say there was about half a mile left so I tried to pick it up. I finished strong, crossing the line in 1:16:00 and flashed my new Polar togs with pride. I finished 138th overall out of 512, 118th male and 30th in my age group. Oh ya, this race seemed to be a training race for everybody in the Boston Athletic Association or ANYBODY who's racing Boston
So, first 10 miler in the bag (my first so it was a PR) with a decent result. Now I wonder if I can find another before the Army 10 Miler in October :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

There was nothing super about the Super Sunday 10k

I'm running the Boston Marathon this year on a charity number so I need to raise money in order to participate. If you are so inclined/motivated please click the donate button at the top right of my blog to donate to my cause and thank you in advance

I've been talking about doing a "race in every state" thing for a while but haven't really done anything about it. So, since it’s a new year it’s a perfect thing to add to the to do list. That every state in 2011 but at least get a good start. On a recent trip to NM to visit friends, there happened to be a 10k that fell on Superbowl Sunday. And 3 birds get killed with one stone: I get a race in another state, log some training miles and burn off some calories before eating the crap food associated with watching the Super Bowl. Add in that the weather here in MA was a bone chilling 10 degrees with 3 or 4 feet of snow on the ground and NM was a balmy 45 degrees and it’s a super bonus!

As always, I have to layout everything the night before. I know it's probably anal but if the Army taught me anything it's that unless it's laid out where you can see it, you're gonna forget something and I wouldn’t be able to sleep of this little setup wasn’t done (OCD much?). Because it's winter and it was "cold" in Albuquerque, the race started at 1100. The weather was supposed to be in the mid 40's (practically Spring for those of us in NE) but come race day the temp dipped to 20 with a whipping wind that made it feel like it was in the teens. I of course didn’t pack any real cold weather gear. I mean why would I the weather said nothing of this "chill" that moved in. But...I figured I'd warm up after the 1st mile and when the sun came out. I did however find a new use for the Everstride's anti-chafe stick during this experience. My face and lips were getting dried out just waiting for the race to start. I used it like it was a big tube of Chap Stick and it worked great! Soft face and supple lips...but I digress.

The course was pretty straight forward, after a winding start it was 2 laps of the course. Within the 1st mile, the wind died down, the sun popped out and it got warm. 40+ degree warm but warm nonetheless. As is my habit, I went out too fast. I know that I should run negatives but I just have not been able to get a handle on it. I had hoped to run steady 7min miles. Instead, I hit mile 1 at 6:46, mile 2 at 7:08 and then "settled in" at 7:29 and 7:23 for miles 3 and 4 respectively. Mile 5, as is my usual, trailed off to 7:49 and I spent the last mile plus trying to catch up hitting mile 6 at 7:35. All said and done, 15th overall with a time of 45:34 and placed 4th in my age group. Honestly I was a little bummed about that because the 1st and 2nd in my age group took 1st and 2nd overall. But hey, every race director does it their way and I wasn't very happy with my time anyway. Another race in the books, another lesson learned but at least I got in a race in another state and the scenery was beautiful.