Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bay to Breakers 2010! (Recap, the PHOTOS)

If you did NOT read the story behind the pictures then read it HERE.

If you've read the story, here's the photos and I have to warn you; there are many and they are extremely random!

A visit to Haight-Ashbury and the district's hippie thrift stores after a few beers and this is what we come up with...

My 6 a.m. Pre-Race hydration kit. . .

Walking to the corrals at about 7 a.m. . .

Has anyone seen corral C because we're hydrated in all the wrong ways and ready to kick arse!

The beginning of corral C and exactly what I needed to kill some time -- Tetris shapes!

I have no idea what is going on at this point and neither does Brandon. . .

The thousands of tortillas that were thrown around for the half hour or so wait before the race start. Why? Ummmm why not, I guess?

In this picture we have a little bit of everything. You can see that both the caveman and Robin Hood are eagerly awaiting the slow walk to the start line. There's a very happy looking Asian woman and a scary one, but what is the woman on the far right doing to that... is that a small child????

Can we start running yet? Wait.... did I put on deodorant this morning??? Probably not. . .

Time to run....

Ninjas and Vikings and a pirate all in the same picture oh my!

Two pothead guys asked me to take a picture of their stash as I was waiting in the bathroom line at Mile 1. Mind you... this is in the middle of the road in the middle of San Francisco!

The funniest thing I saw the entire race - people dressed up as Salmon trying to go against the flow of the crowd...

Looks like some of the South even found the way to San Francisco....

One way to keep other runners from getting too close...

Running up the Hayes Street Hill....

Look down from a top the Hayes Street Hill...

A giant carrot. Why not?

A naked guy carrying a purse and running in what a friend called "Jesus sandals." Not cool.

A random waterfall in San Francisco? Who knew?

More naked people and they even have balloons. . .

And finally... the breakers!

My cousin and I just after crossing the finish line. . .

The last few pictures are some I snapped on the way out of town later that day. Here's the Rock.
A random San Francisco neighborhood hill...

Needs no introduction. . .

Good bye San Francisco! I shall return next year!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bay to Breakers 2010! (Recap, the story)

What can I say?

Whoa..... wow..... whoazers!

Words can only describe this 99-year-old 12k race, but the experience.... well, you really, REALLY need to go see it for yourself. I first heard about Bay to Breakers long before I considered myself a runner. It was the Discovery Channel, or maybe even the Travel Channel, that was running one of those "World's best parties, festivals, events (insert noun here) shows" that caught my attention. I watched the reporter interview person after person, each dressed completely bizarre and fully intoxicated as they trudged, climbed and even crawled by on a street in San Francisco. This stuck in my memory since I grew up visiting family in the Bay area. "That would be fun to go do some day," I remember thinking.

Well, that time came last weekend. As of Friday before the race I considered Bay to Breakers a "bucket list" race, or even a bucket list item for a non-runner, and I still do, but as of race day I'm seriously thinking of trying to make it an annual event. To sum it up in a few words; insanity, randomness, HILL, crowded, only in California, alcohol, pot, expressionism, cultural screw, wacky and FUN all come to mind. Here is my recap of my first, and hopefully not last, ING Bay to Breakers 12k race.

First, off let me say the Expo sucked. Jeanie and I arrived Friday afternoon after a congested drive from Sacramento into San Francisco. I'm not the most experienced runner, but I've been to the Disney Marathon and Donna Marathon Expos along with a few smaller ones and ALL of them were better than Bay to Breakers. It was quickly obvious that this race is really not geared toward mass quantities of "runners," but more suited for the average person out to have a good time. I was hoping to get some swag for my girlfriend, but what I left with (other than my bib number and one-color cotton T-shirt) was a goody bag of dog food samples, arthritis patch medication samples and some literature on Volkswagen cars. Other than a private vendor selling "once-used" shoes there was no opportunity to buy new shoes for the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon we're running next month. However, there were plenty of free wine and vodka samples. Go figure.

Jeanie and I got a little lost trying to find my cousin Robert and his friend Brandon, but eventually rendezvous at Magnolia Pub on Haight-Ashbury streets (neighborhood) and I must say that is an INTERESTING district in the city. After a few tasty beers we found ourselves going from thrift store to thrift store shopping for something crazy to wear. We weren't alone. Thousands of other runners were doing the same. There was definitely a sense of energy in the air. I equate this experience to the normal "expo" experience. First, we found some fishnet tops along with actual short SHORT running shorts from the 1980s. I objected immediately to the fishnet tops, but was outnumbered three-to-one and had to reluctantly try on the outfit. I was surprised to learn that with my body type I can totally rock a fishnet skin-tight top. The funny thing was that none of my friends could "rock" the shirt and pretty soon they were objecting to the idea while I pleaded in favor. Outnumbered three-to-one again we kept the pants idea and continued searching. I found some kilts, but was shot down as they were "too expensive." After about an hour of laughing, carrying on and joking Brandon's wife, Renee, found a bunch of skin-tight retro tank tops that matched all of our retro pants. On the way out of the store we found matching bow ties. Scary, I know! A few stores later we found some knee high socks at American Apparel to finish off the outfits.

By the time we made it to our hotel (picked solely for it's 1-mile to starting line distance/location) and quickly discovered that they failed to tell us that it was wedged between China Town and the Red Light district. Again... interesting neighborhood!

Around 3:30 a.m. the noise from outside on the street went silent and I think we all caught a few hours sleep before our alarms sounded at 5:45 a.m.

This is how my pre-race morning played out:
1.) Use community hallway bathroom with other funky dressed runners.
2.) Put on insanely short running pants while reminding myself that nobody knows me here and laugh at my friends as they laugh at me because we all look stupid.
3.) Drink as much Redbull, Gatorade & Vodka mixture as possible.
4.) Talk to girlfriend after getting drunk and while walking to the start line in 48-degree overcast weather.
5.) Imagine in my mind what kind of chaos would occur if an earthquake happened right now.

All this before 7 a.m.

By 7:20 a.m. we had found the entrance to our corral. Since I was corral B and had no intention on taking this race seriously I back tracked into corral C to meet up with Jeanie, Robert and Brandon. If anyone has ever ran with the Hash House Harriers just think of a Hash with about 60,000 people involved. The website says about 24,000 people registered, but the local news said they estimate 60,000 people take part in the race one way or another. As it started I think there was probably at least 15,000 people ahead of us and we didn't make it to the actual start line for a few minutes. Looking around I could see everything imaginable. If I didn't know any better I would think it was Halloween! Ninjas to my right, people dressed up as Tetris shapes to my left and naked people in front of me!

Just after passing the start line an announcer yells "runners to the left, walkers to the right," but what I experienced was chaos. Walkers everywhere and runners everywhere! Nobody really cared though.

Just after mile 1 we stopped at some port-o-johns, because well, we were drunk and that's what drunks do. As I'm waiting in line the race is literally flowing around me on all sides. Some guy next to me says, "hey bro, you taking pictures?"

"Yup," I said.

"Take a picture of this man," he says as he holds up a handful of marijuana. I look down in amazement as him and his friend, both wearing race bibs, are standing in the middle of the course rolling a blunt to smoke out in clear daylight!

And that is the general attitude. The race is famous for naked runners and we did see a few. Apparently the thing to do these days is start with your clothes on and after the start get naked, store clothes in backpack, run most of the race, stop just before finish line and put your clothes back on... so we saw lots of naked men and women running with backpacks.

One of the most hilarious things were about 20 people marching down the center line of the road dressed as giant salmon going BACKWARDS! Then behind them were about 20 more people dressed up as grizzly bears.

Then there were the dozen or so hecklers dressed up on the side of the road as giant bacon all drinking beers!

Starting off I had the impression that we were all staying together and "fun" running the race. Before I knew it I had lost everyone. I knew that Robert and Brandon, the least experienced runners, were ahead of me and Jeanie, who runs at a slower pace, was behind me. I didn't want to leave Jeanie, but now I couldn't find anyone. Without I plan I continued to run at my pace. Before long I literally ran into Robert and Brandon and decided to stay with them since I had a phone and Jeanie had the other phones and I wanted to be able to find everyone at the finish.

Whether they knew it or not, Robert and Brandon were running on pure adrenaline and excitement. I don't think there was much thought to pace. When I found them we were approaching the famous Hayes Street Hill (an 11 percent incline near mile 3) and we were weaving like rally race cars as we passed hundreds of people up the hill. It was beginning to be easier to run at any pace (the first mile was a 12-minute mile at the fastest whether you wanted to go that slow or not).

We reached the top of the hill and could see down the other side. The last 4-miles seemed to be mostly downhill, but not steep downhill and I can see why 12k world records are broken on this course. I would have loved to see the elites run by going down this gradual almost controlled hill.

The last few miles are all within the Golden Gate Park, which I learned is actually bigger than Central Park. There was even a waterfall within the park that is within the city. Amazing! As we reached the final downhill jaunt the Pacific Ocean opens up before us and we turn the corner to run the final 1/2 mile along the shore line. The finish line is now visible and Robert feeds off its energy taking off on what I estimate to be a sub-7 minute pace. I'm not one to ever sprint the end of a race. I feel like it's amateur for some reason. It's just my thing. However, I stick with him as I've got tons of reserve energy and I take pictures the entire way. We finish with Brandon only a few seconds behind. Jeanie eventually finishes and we're all stoked beyond belief.

At the finish line they make an announcement that the top female runner broke her own record for a new world record. Awesome! She is a Kenyan of course. Jeanie and I take a shuttle back to the start line while Robert and Brandon walk about halfway back on the course to Brandon's flat. I was told that the scene on the Hayes Street hill a good hour after we conquered it was the same crowd only four times as drunk and nuts. Next year I want to do it again, start in an earlier corral to get a good time and then go back and watch the chaos coming up that hill!

See you in 2011 Bay to Breakers for the 100th running!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting lost in Sacramento....

Friday morning I found myself in Sacramento, California. It was a couple days before the Bay to Breakers 12k in San Francisco and the friends I'm staying with are working until the afternoon. Sounds like a good opportunity to explore the area by running!

The plan: To run 2-3 miles from the residential neighborhood to a park with bike/running trails and come back.

What happened is as follows in a photo essay. . .

Started off in your average California neighborhood. Nothing special, except the rolling hills were a nice change.

One mile into the run I found the bike trail, which reminds me of the Hawthorne Trail near Gainesville, Florida.

Oooooh distraction! I had to stop to take some pictures of the wildflowers, which are going nuts right now!

Then a rather large squirrel crossed my path...

The pavement of the bicycle trail is getting old. This Jeep path looks fun...

Ok... now I'm a little confused about which way to go as the Jeep trail abruptly stops. . .

This looks fun. I'll run down a path of large smooth rocks!

Found a lake! The water is super cold. We kayaked here about a year ago and my cousin capsized. I check my watch and whoa, I've been running for 35 minutes already. So much for a short 2-3 mile run. Better figure out my way out of here.

More wildflowers, but wait, is that a turkey???

After chasing the turkey I come to an open field to run across. Over to the left there were piles and piles of rocks. The smooth river rocks stacked into huge hills. I wondered at the time (and wished I taken a photo) if these rocks were piled up when they built a nearby dam or if they were from the 49ers and the gold rush. Later, I'd learn they were from from the gold rush.

When I found my way back to a road this turkey cross the road right in front of me. I yelled at him that the female turkey was back in the wildflowers. Not really knowing where they hell I am at this point, I give in and use the GPS function on my phone and Google Maps to see where I'm at and come up with a plan to get back to the house. It involved a different route that looped through some even more hilly neighborhoods!

Then this gigantic rabbit crossed my path. It was seriously as large as a small dog.

After running for about an hour I realize that I'm hungry. I stop into a NY Bagels (because you know out here in California it seems smart to eat something New York?) and have myself an organic turkey sausage, egg and cheese blueberry bagel. Mmmmmmmm.....

After getting back I what I think is my path using the My Tracks app on my phone and discover I ran 7 miles. Oops!

Next up Bay to Breakers 12k 2010... the craziest race I've ever run in my life! Stay tuned.

Friday, May 14, 2010

16-Miles turn 17 BREAKTHROUGH!

Note: I'm in Sacramento today. This post was written yesterday, but delayed due to a lack of free WiFi.

I'm sitting here in the airport with my shiny new Dell laptop waiting on a delayed flight with a couple thoughts:

1.) Props to Delta Airlines for actually noticing that I am, indeed, TALL and taking the initiative to assign me an exit row seat without extra charges.

2.) Delta Airlines is now running late. No Bueno.

3.) Mixing Airborne with Rockstar should be illegal. I'm buzzing so freaking hard right now that my fingers are shaking as I type! It will be interesting to see what the girlfriend (dietitian) has to say about this apparent vitamin overdose.

4.) Now is an excellent opportunity to update the blog on our Post-Muddy Buddy long run last weekend.

Heading into last weekend I was really anxious. If it were up to me (not having Jenny motivate me) I would have done the Muddy Buddy Race and counted that as the major workout for the weekend. In hindsight, that would have been a mistake. I'm so happy that Jenny kept me us on track.

The previous 3 or 4 long runs have taken so much out of me. At the end I've been exhausted and felt like I can go another mile. My legs have been constantly sore for weeks. I think I'm beginning to forget what it feels like to have fresh legs. This makes me nervous for fear of "over doing it" and hurting myself (see last fall's Achilles tendon injury). Everything I've read on Achilles tendon injuries and rehabilitation basically leads to one thing; slowly working back up to speed over time. I'm following a marathon training schedule by Hal Higdon and lately I'm beginning to trust the schedule more and more. Here's why.

Jenny ran the Marine Core Marathon last year. She followed a similar schedule with obsessive compulsive accuracy. She had a good race. She had an awesome race by my standards. Following the schedule "slowly" eases my Achilles tendon back into high mileage weeks. I made a promise to try to follow the schedule as written as far as pushing the envelop of injury. I'm still listening to my body, but I'm following the schedule and if it says for example 14 miles then that's what I'm doing and not one mile more. If I come up short because I'm feeling like I'm on the brink of injury that's fine too, but most importantly I'm not intentionally going beyond the schedule.

Running the scheduled 16-miler the day after the Muddy Buddy was scary to me. I had my doubts, but in the end I believed in Jenny and I believed in the training program and I think that's what's important. It's almost a leap of faith. If my Achilles is going to act up then so be it, but until then I'm making progress!

Jenny and I made sure we got plenty of sleep the night before. Eight-and-a-half hours to be exact. The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and we were up and about, stretching, eating and following our routines. One of the things I've concentrated on the past few weeks is increasing my calorie intake. I'm not obsessing over it, but I've probably increased it by at least 1,000 additional calories per day and this is paying off. I feel like I'm eating all the time and almost forcing myself to eat, but I'm noticing longer levels of energy on the long runs. I ate a large breakfast before our run and allowed time to digest.

A little after 7 a.m. and Jenny and I are out the door. We start at a moderate pace and begin to chat about all things as we normally do. Jenny is a little upset because she was using the Indo Board cylinder as a roller and she feels like she may have actually bruised her ITB area of her leg. Note to all you runners/surfers: DO NOT USE A SUPER HARD INDO BOARD CYLINDER AS A FOAM ROLLER. IT'S JUST A BAD IDEA.

By mile 5 I'm feeling really good. My breathing is normal and my legs surprising feel great! I'm making more of an effort to drink and hydrate during this run than past runs. The temperature is also pleasant at about 75 degrees. I'm chatting away and so caught up in the story I'm telling Jenny that I don't notice that we've past the turn around by nearly 4 blocks. Oops! We turn around, head to the beach and start a long "into the wind" run up the beach. After a couple of miles of the strong headwind we opt to get back on the coastal road and uses the oceanfront homes as a wind shelter. We get back on the beach near the inlet, run around the park boardwalk, stop for GU and water and head back south weaving through beachside neighborhoods.

Before I know it we're 2-hours plus into the run and only have a few more miles left to go.

But some thing's wrong; we're within close proximity of my house (maybe 2 miles) and I'm feeling really good. In fact, I'm feeling like I could run another 5 or 6 miles. My feet are a little heavy, but I've got something I'm not used to and that's ENERGY! I'm feeling strong. My breathing is relaxing and I'd bet that my heart rate isn't too shabby. We round the last block and we can see our imaginary finish line several hundred yards ahead. Jenny is quiet and for the first time I'm actually having a better run than her. She is ready to be done. As we get within 50-feet I ask, "where the hell is our finish line," and Jenny responds with, "whoa, that's your first curse word this run!"

It's then that I know I had an amazing run. In previous long runs I've dropped numerous "F-bombs" as soon as the halfway point. This time I'm owning the run. We find the line and stop, walk, hug and give each other our usual post run kiss. It's a few shortly after that I re-route the run with the additional distance (my mistake) on and learn that we actually went about 17 miles. Like I said, I'm sticking to the schedule and not intentionally going any further than it states. This run was a break through for my confidence. For the first time I actually feel like maintaining our pace for all 26.2 miles is possible. And, I'm actually looking forward to our next longer run of 18 miles the weekend after this weekend!

Time will tell.

And it should be a good story to tell as well!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Thursday Stoke!

I'm back!!!!

Yup, after missing several weeks of the Thursday Stoke I'm back with mucho to be stoke about. You see, one of the reasons I've missed a few stokes is because of a hampering computer problem. Simply put, my work computer exploded a few weeks back leaving me with only my home computer and that has hampered my blogging abilities. Today I'm totally stoked and happy to announce the addition of a new computer.

Dude, I got a Dell. . . well, another Dell. Anyways, I'm back up and functioning at 100 percent.

The other reason for my slacking on the blog front is a case of being busy. My training for the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon has stepped up to almost a part-time job and my lower legs seem to be in a state of perpetual soreness. Recovering from all this running is taking a lot of rest time. I'm forcing myself to sleep more and stretch/roll a lot more and trying my hardest to avoid injury. Only a little more than a month to go until the marathon. I can't wait!

Which brings me to the real stoke of the day!

I will be leaving on a jet plane in just a few hours to head west to California where I'm meeting up with a few friends to part take in this "bucket list" of a race on Sunday. Look for a crazy recap next week. . . or perhaps from my new computer from an airport on the way home!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Dirty with some help from my Friends!

Oh Muddy Buddy, how I love thee!

On Saturday six friends converged upon Disney's Wide World of Sports for the Orlando venue of Muddy Buddy, a 6 to 7 mile two-person team race featuring running, mountain biking, obstacle courses and a super dirty mud pit. I'm happy to report that Teams Rockstar (Jenny and myself), Hot Wheels (Justin and Tracy) and Rift Raft (Erin and Joey) were well prepared with matching outfits, decorated bikes and even a last minute underpants stunt!

Let me first say that the way Muddy Buddy works, if you haven't heard, is simple. Each team is composed of a bicyclist and a runner that follow the same course and start at about the same time. There are five transition areas with different obstacles (wall climb, cargo net climb/slide, balance beam, net crawl and mud pit). Runner and biker switch at these transition areas. Generally, the bicyclist arrives first and leaves the bike for the runner who then passes the teammate before arriving at the next transition area. Hopefully, both runner and biker arrive at the end at the same time where they must crawl/swim/fight through a mud pit together before crossing the finish line with their "Muddy Buddy."

Age divisions are in combined ages. Our group of three co-ed teams had three age divisions covered. There are about 2,000 teams in the race (4,000 participants). Yup, it's a pretty big deal.

Rockstar, Hot Wheels and Rift Raft met the night before the race in Orlando. Rockstars and Hot Wheels booked a race sponsor (Disney) resort hotel (All-Star Sports Resort) for it's convenience (proximity to race site) and price (discounted to $88 per night after taxes), but in true Disney fashion quickly found out that Disney once again gets a capital FAIL in accommodating runners (no-late check out and providing coffee/breakfast starting at 6 a.m. when race participants must be at the race by 5:45 a.m.).

Dinner the night before was a blast. After a few "adult beverages" we found ourselves in one of the hundreds of cheesy tourist trap stores around the resort area of Orlando. These stores generally sell nothing but junk at inflated prices. Someone (they shall remain anonymous) decided it would be a great idea to purchase and wear novelty "BVD" whitey tighty underpants on the outside of our running outfits for the race. Hilarity ensued.

Hey, super heroes wear underpants on the outside of their tights.... right?

And we are nothing short of super heroes!

Yup, that's right.... those novelty underpants all have one thing in common: FARTING!

Jenny and I decorated our whip.... or ahhh... bike. As you can see we convinced the tourist trap store owners that we needed a "Sale" balloon for the race. The idea here was to be able to find our bike in the transition areas without wasting much time.

Here you can see Team Rockstar completely geared up before the race!

The actual race was insane and so much fun! I will definitely be doing this race again in the future. Jenny and I started in Wave 8 (since it's trails they stagger the starts to avoid crowding) with me on the mountain bike and her running. Our strategy was to start the stronger biker and runner with that event because whatever you start on you do one more time than the other. I started behind several hundred bicyclist. Later I'd learn that Jenny started almost with her foot on the start line of runners (yup, that's my girlfriend!). If I could do it again I would have fault my way to the start line of bicycles. The first 5-minutes was nuts. It seemed everyone in front of me was slower or just out for a lazy weekend bike ride. The trail was not wide and features few places to pass, but I found and used them all. By the time I made it to the first transition I looked around and could see very few blue wrist bands (each wave was assigned different color wrist bands) and it was apparent most of Wave 8 was behind me. Kickass!

The run was a bit difficult to begin as my legs felt super heavy. I'm not a triathlete and definitely NOT used to brick workouts, but after a few minutes I got up to speed and again found myself passing a lot of runners. I am NOT used to passing people in races and began to feel guilty each time. The running surface was mostly grass and sand through fields and pine forests. This happens to be my favorite running surface. Screw asphalt!

At the second transition area I arrived running before seeing Jenny pass me on the bike. I started to worry that she might have had a problem with the bike. A list of possible problems ran through my head. Could she not find the bike? Did the seat not adjust? Did she throw a chain? As I waited in line for the obstacle, a 20' tall cargo net climb to an inflatable slide, I see her fly by on the bike. "Rockstar!" I yell at her. We are on course and doing well!

For the next few transitions everything is perfect. We flip flop during the run/bike right on pace. after each of my runs I start slowly on the bike to catch my breath and then get on it toward the end passing more and more people and seeing fewer and fewer blue wrist bands. At several points (small muddy creek crossings, sandy hills, or steep grades) I jump off the bike, throw it on my shoulder and run with it. This allows me to go so much faster than those trying to ride through it and proves to be a great strategy, although both balloons burst or break. At one point while I'm running a guy dressed as Fred Flintstone passes me. I notice he has a blue wrist band.

"Oh hell no," I say to myself and I lay chase.

Old Fred sets the pace and while he remains ahead of me I stay with him for the remainder of the race both running and biking. Before I know it we're on the last leg. I'm on the bike and I can see Jenny running 100 feet ahead. I pass a volunteer that yells out "only 1/2 mile to go," and I slow up behind Jenny. My thinking is I don't want to rush her and we have to finish together so why pass her yet? I follow slowly for about a quarter mile and lose sight of Fred Flintstone. Then I ride up and yell "Hey Rockstar, we're doing great!" She smiles and says a few words, but I can tell she doesn't want to chat at such a fast pace. I hang out for a few hundred feet and then decide to ride ahead in case there's any delay in ditching the bike before the mud pit. It turns out that the volunteer telling us 1/2 mile to go was smoking crack and it was really about a full mile. I ditch the bike and run over to the meet up area only to find Fred Flintstone also waiting for his partner. Only a few seconds later I see Jenny barreling down the course to us!

She arrives and we leave Fred there waiting for his partner and charge the mud pit. This part is a blur to me and I can't wait to see the official pictures (I just might buy one). We crawl through the mud and it really isn't that bad. There are rope lines to crawl under. I hold each line up for Jenny as we make our way to the end. We cross the finish line together covered in mud holding hands and smiling!

Immediately after finishing we were a little confused about where our friends were so we decided to rinse off. The showing area consists of probably a hundred hoses and people everywhere stripping down to underwear. It was a strange site. We wash our hair and try to get most of the mud off. Jenny donates her Brooks to charity and we work our way back to the vehicles in the parking lot and find team Hot Wheels and Rift Raft. We all have celebratory beers and spend a few hours watching other teams finish and hanging out.

The mud pit before the race. It smelled like cow manure.

The Mud Pit during the race...

Teams Rockstar, Hot Wheels and Rift Raft after the race with celebratory beers!

Unofficial Team Rockstar Results (Muddy Buddy hasn't posted the official results yet)

Time: 49:40
Place in 66-75 Age Division: 10th
Overall Place out of 2,000 Teams: 141st

Not bad considering we agreed before the race to "try" and run at only tempo pace since we have a scheduled 16-miler training run the next day!

This was a great experience and I'd recommend Muddy Buddy with flying colors! It really is fun for every level runner/biker. People get dressed up all crazy and nobody takes it too seriously. It's a great vibe and complete blast! And.... AND you can drink beer at the finish!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ocho Miles for Cinco De Mayo

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that confuses me in that it seems like Americans celebrate it more than Mexicans. Heck, the real Mexican independence day isn't even in May. Whatever the case, it seemed like a good day for a run. I woke up extra early and promptly fell back asleep. By the time I got up the sun was already up and the heat and humidity was quickly getting to summer-like levels.

I hit the road with an 8-miler routed, one GU and my iPod. It was already 80 degrees. The first few miles went fine and I felt strong. I hit my first water stop and forced myself to drink a good amount of fluid whether I felt like I needed it or not. By the second water stop, somewhere around mile 5, I was fully involved. Fully involved, with sweat that is...

I like it hot and I'm proud to say that I usually do well in extremely hot conditions. For some reason this year I seem to be having a hard time acclimating to the heat. Our weather here in Florida is in full summer conditions. In the past few weeks the humidity levels have gone from in the 70 and 80 percent levels to reaching close to 90 percent. This makes it feel 5 to 10 degrees hotter than it really is and really sucks the hydration right out of you!

By mile 6 I had a decision to make. I'm within .4 miles to my house. I can call it a day, admit defeat, go home and go to work. Or, I can continue on through a golf course neighborhood loop and add 2 more miles making my scheduled distance of 8 miles. There just happens to be a convenience store in front of me. "Screw it, I'm going to go buy an electrolyte drink, slam it and see how I feel," I tell myself.

As I check out the selection I notice a drink I've never seen before. It's called Gatorade RECOVER 03 and is in a funky shaped bottle. I think I saw the word "recover" and was sold on the spot. It was a little pricey at $2.99, but given my current condition well worth it.

I attempt to slam it down just outside the store, but can't because it's thick tasting almost more like a shake. A little shocked, I now look at the label to discover it's actually a protein shake. Apparently Gatorade has taken their standard sports drink with plenty of sodium and potassium and added milk product to give it protein. Wow! I drank half and started to run the remaining two miles carrying the bottle like a carry along. It fit well in my hand. With 1-mile to go I drank the rest. It was even foaming from being shaken up just like a protein shake would. It says for after workout, but I'll admit it allowed me to go the extra mile, or two miles in my case and finish my run in temperatures close to 90 degrees and super high humidity.

Thanks Gatorade and Go Gators!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday . . . 15-miler Recap!

Opening statement:
You know your girlfriend is a runner (and dietitian) when you take her to get her wisdom teeth removed and one of the first thing she tells you after, but while still heavily sedated, is that she wished they had used a different sedative instead of the one her oral surgeon chose because the other would have had more calories!

May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, is a public holiday in most of the world except the United States. I backpacked through Germany once upon a time and discovered that on May Day nobody works and everything is closed. This May Day happened to fall on a Saturday and with only seven weeks to go until the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon it only means one thing -- long run!

Originally, a few friends planned to join Jenny and I for our scheduled 15-miler, but with new injuries plaguing our friends, Jenny and I found out the day before it would only be the two of us. I changed the route ever so slightly to accommodate only our needs and we ended up getting a slightly later start that if we were forced to meet friends at a pre-determined time. This meant one thing and that was "heat." Now Jenny and I both prefer heat over cold, but with a record-reaching cold winter I think my body acclimated more to cold this winter (plus it was my first real "running winter") so when the temperature reached 90 degrees toward the late morning and miles 13, 14 and 15, my body screamed a huge "WTF?" But more on that later!

We started off happy and eager, well nourished and hydrated, rested and loose. We created an imaginary start/finish line for fun where a large crack in the asphalt spanned across the road in front of my house. (as you can see once you stop looking at my girlfriend's beautiful runner's leg)

Early on the temperature was a perfect 70-degrees. The sun was already up, but a thick haze was keeping it cool. "If only that will last most of the run," I remember thinking. By mile 4 we were on the beach heading north with the wind at our backs and feeling good. (Look how happy we are!)

By the time we reached the inlet (jetties), or about 2.5 miles later, the haze was long gone and the sun was really heating things up. I was drenched in sweat. Now I like sweating, but once I'm acclimated to the Florida summer heat, which I'm not... yet, well, maybe now after this run I am. Hmmm.... I'm not sure. Anyways, I spotted two spinner sharks breach the waves a few yards off shore as we passed my normal surfing spot. The ocean was flat, side-choppy and nobody was in the water. Jenny's untrained eye never saw the sharks and I decided not to mention them nor point them out, but let her keep telling me a story (she's going to learn to surf now that's it warm and I don't want to freak her out before she gets her toes wet)!

Next was a mile long stretch of a boardwalk loop through a park. This is wear the heat really started knocking on TallGuySurfing's dehydration threshold. We made it to the bathrooms and I noticed we'd been running for longer than an hour and I haven't used a bathroom yet. Uh oh... I down my second Gu, drink some water and eat a handful of roasted almonds and dried cranberries that I pre-mixed and had in a baggy in my pocket. I know from experience that when I don't have to use any restrooms on a long run that it's a sure sign of becoming dehydrated, so I drink even more water. We continue on south weaving through beachside neighborhoods and even a short trail that Jenny was delightfully surprised to see before reaching Dees house. Dees was doing some work in his garage and was nice enough to let me stash my shirt on his patio. It was drenched. I'm talking wring it out and drink a cup of sweat drenched! It felt great to be rid of that hindrance and the air on my bare skin temporarily cooled me down. They asked if we'd take their golden retriever, Roxy, with us, but when we told them we still had 5 miles to go they simply said, "nevermind." Haha...

Then there was the bridge.

In my infinite wisdom I decided to place the high-rise bridge at mile 12 thinking that in the Seattle Marathon the large hills appear to be around the halfway point. This seemed like a good idea at the time... that is until you've ran 12 miles, it's 90 degrees and now there's this big freaking bridge in your way!

As one might notice from the picture Jenny is merely a speck in the distance. Yup, that's right. She is totally "chicking" me and this bridge! Actually, we discussed it and decided she should run ahead since I was reduced to a speed walker pace and going slow up hills actually hurts her legs and I was afraid it could aggravate old injuries if she stayed with me. Now at this point of the run we had only walked during water stops and ditching my shirt. I'm proud to say that I did not stop on the bridge and when I got to the top I released a few "choice" words for what I thought of said bridge. (This self-portrait just before those "choice" words is probably the worst picture ever of me and I'm totally owning it!)

Never fret! Jenny was waiting for me at the bottom. We had to cross an intersection, which she tells me I almost walked out into oncoming traffic. I suppose I was a little narked, hypoxic, stupid... whatever you want to call it. I made it about another half mile before giving in and taking a walk break. Hey, Hal Higdon says it's ok! Although, I'll admit, I felt pretty damn defeated at that point. After maybe 100 feet we start running again and make it to the last water stop in a park by the river. I feel like if I try and take my last Gu I'll throw up so I decide to drink only the water and splash some on my face and neck. (Below you can see Jenny looking like a million bucks at the 13-mile mark at Riverside Park)

The last two miles were a little painful. I think, and I say I think because it's a bit of a blur, we took three more, maybe four walk breaks before reaching that imaginary finish line. A dirty crack in a road never looked so appealing in my whole life! I collapsed on it!

Some of you northerners might make snow angels. Down here in Hades, after running 15 miles, I make sweat angels!

In retrospect, it really was a good run no matter how bad I make it sound. I conquered my "allusive" 15-miles without provoking injury and I learned a few things. As I get more and more long runs under my belt I'm learning more and more about my body. I'm learning how important nutrition is not only right before workouts, but weeks before. I'm learning how to listen to my body more and more and recognize symptoms that might be signs of "bad" things starting that I can prevent or head off in advance. I'm also learning about how to better take care of myself in the days spent recovering or leading up to a long run.

I iced my lower legs after the run as a precaution, ate a huge amount of food and took an hour nap. Amazingly, I felt like a million bucks later in the day. My Achilles tendon is fine and despite some expected lower calve soreness it seems like I'm learning to recover better. Hell, we even went scurfing (being towed behind a boat on surfboards) the very next day!

Next week:
Muddy Buddy + 16-miler