Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marathon Training RECAP

It's been quite a ride these past 18 weeks. When I started training for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon it was the end of winter, one of the coldest winters in Florida of my life! I remember complaining on here about the cold and wishing that I would actually "sweat" during some of the training runs. I also seriously doubting whether my Achilles tendon would hold and remain injury-free for the entire training period. Well, we went from the coldest winter in memory to one of the earliest and hottest summers in a long time and we ran through it all. My wish was granted and I experienced an entirely new level of sweating on the last few long runs. Being more soaked than when I'm surfing without ever touching the water... getting so hot that I actually stopped sweating (yeah, I know this is bad)... hearing my saturated shoes make "squish/squash" sounds with every step... you name it!

Yeah, we put in our time - sweat and shivers.

Now the hour is finally upon us and here I stand; uninjured, determined and ready. I know it's been awhile since I posted a "Thursday Stoke," and since it's Thursday this might as well be one of the best Thursday stokes!

I'm stoked to be running the Seattle Rock 'n' Marathon this Saturday! That's only 48 hours away! I want to mention a few things, all of which I'm stoked about. First of all, my goals.

Goal #1 - complete 18 week novice runner training schedule injury free. CHECK!

Goal #2 - Raise money for American Heart Association in memory of my father and to raise awareness of heart disease. CHECK!

Goal #3 - Have FUN and finish the marathon without injury. Leave it all out there on race day and get the best time possible, take as much of it in as possible and have as much fun as possible. Enjoy the run with Jenny!

I haven't accomplished goal #3 yet, but in my mind the first two and hardest two goals are met. The last goal is the easy part! All I have to do is run.

Here's some stats I pulled from, which I used to track only my marathon training progress from start to finish (I'll probably keep my account active after the race).

Miles run - 403
Time spent actually running - 61 hours and that's not including all the time spent stretching, recovering and EATING like a king!
Total workouts - 63
Distance traveled around the world - 0.02 (hey, it was on .01 FOREVER!)
Donuts Burned - 255 (but I didn't eat one single
Gas Saved - 22 gallons (would someone please put 22 gallons in my truck?)
TVs powered - 840 (don't really understand that statistic)
Fastest Run - 7:26 minute pace 5-miler on June 8th
Longest Run - 20.3-miler on June 5th
Shortest Run - 2-mile taper run on June 23rd (seriously Hal Higdon, what's the point of this run?)

It really has been a great experience and I'm so happy to have had a wonderful girlfriend to share the long runs with on the weekends. I've met a great group of runner friends along the way as well.

I've also been totally humbled by EVERYONE that has donated or supported us in one way or another. We set out to raise $795 or simply $15 for each year my father was alive (he passed away of a sudden heart attack when I was 15-years-old) with a simple website HERE. Without even having to try hard we immediately shattered our goal. The donations kept coming and coming and as of this posting we are at $1,888.60. That's absolutely amazing! Nobody asked us to raise funds and we aren't running this race as "official fundraisers," but it's been a great experience. I can't even begin to thank everyone!

As you're reading this Jenny and I are traveling to Seattle. Tomorrow is the Expo and Saturday is the race. The forecast as of today calls for a low of 56-degrees and a high of 69-degrees - perfect in my opinion. Jenny would like it a little hotter, but I'm content with anything under 90 degrees at this point! I'll try and get a recap up as soon as possible. I am Bib #11050 for anyone wishing to track me.

Wish me speed and endurance!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting .... waiting .... waiting....

First off, thanks to everyone's suggestions about my Brooks in my last post. I've decided to do two short runs (my last two runs) this week (a 3 miler and 2 miler) and wear them both again individually before deciding to wear the mid-mileage pair or the newly broken in pair. I'll probably make a last minute decision, but all of your comments have helped me realize that 225 miles is NOT too many miles and in the end I'll be fine no matter which shoes I decide upon.

Last weekend we did an 8-miler in Gainesville. It was the last long run of the 18 week training schedule. It was easy and fun. Three of Jenny's good friends ran with us as we weaved in and out of Gainesville neighborhoods and the campus of The University of Florida. We set out just before sunrise and by the time we reached the 5 mile mark we stopped for water at the football stadium (a.k.a. The Swamp) and low and behold there is Urban Meyer right in front of us! One of the only long runs that I don't bring my camera and we literally run into Urban Meyer! He's just arriving and getting out of his car while talking on the phone. He looks at us, looks away, looks at us again, grabs his briefcase, and then looks at us again before walking into the stadium. I yell to him, "Go Gators," as he walks away. I ponder why he gave us the strange look for the rest of the run. He had to be looking at us as we were the only people around. Then I realized how odd we must have looked; myself and 4 girls all older than college aged kids. I'm 6'7" tall and one of the girls is less than 5 feet tall. Plus, we probably seemed to come running up from no where. He was probably thinking something like, "oh crap, what are these people going to want?" Maybe the strange look was him being perplexed that we pretty much ignored him and headed for the water fountain. Regardless, it was 7:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning in JUNE and that man was at work! No wonder he had health problems after last year's national championship game. Anyways, it was good to see him and Go Gators!

I feel like I'm in a holding pin right now ready to be thrown out into an arena full of gladiators. Ahhh Tapering! There are 5 days until the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and I'm ready to rock for sure. So much time and effort has passed to get to this point and now only a few hours left. I've written packing lists, gone over plans, made finally hotel and travel bookings and even come up with motivational ideas to write on my arms and hands. I'm ready. Let's do this!

I'll close with a preview picture of things to come after the marathon!

Behold! My new shoes as of yesterday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Everyday it seems as though it gets hotter and more humid so I wait to start my afternoons later and later. It seems like they are becoming full on night runs either before the sun comes up or after it goes down. It's hard to believe that only a few months ago I was complaining about not being able to get my sweat on during my runs. Now it's just ridiculous. I'm drowning in sweat!

But that's not the reason for this post. The reason is I have a question or am looking for suggestions. In exactly 10 days Jenny and I will run the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon. I am currently in full on taper mode right now. My body is experiencing a range of emotions both physical and mental. One day I go on a really short run and it seems harder than a long run a few weeks back. The next day I go on a slightly longer run and I kill it and want to run even further after finishing. I'm trusting the training schedule (Higdon) and trying to follow it to the tee. It's kept me uninjured so far so I'm becoming a believer!

Tonight's run was a 6 miler. The last 6 miler of the schedule. I only have four more runs left; a 3 miler (I can't remember the last time I only ran 3 miles), an 8 miler, another 3 miler and finally a 2 miler. Tonight I decided to wear my older Brooks Adrenaline shoes. The last time I wore them was the 18 mile train run in Gainesville that seriously kicked my butt and got them extremely dirty. As I ran tonight they felt extremely good on my feet. I started thinking about how they actually feel better than my new Brooks Adrenaline shoes that I plan to wear during the race. Now I'm full on stressing out trying to decide if it's a fluke run/feeling or if I should wear my older Brooks instead of the new Brooks.

Older Brooks = 225 total miles
Newer Brooks = 75 total miles

I know that 225 is not that many miles and that I can probably get another hundred in ligament runs out of them if not more, but what do you all think? Is 75 miles not enough to break in the new ones? I wonder why the old ones feel so much better on my feet? They are the same make and model and size.

How many miles do you like to have on your shoes on marathon race day???

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

20-Miler in Gainesville summer heat

It's the pinnacle of any marathon training schedule. It's the top of the hill. It's the week you look at during week 1 and say, "holy sh*t! I wonder if I'll be able to do that!" Or for marathon veterans, it might be the week you look at and say, "I can't wait until I'm rockin' that mileage again!" For Jenny and myself it was last weekend and it involved a 20-miler through around, over and across the city of Gainesville, Florida. That's right; home of my beloved Florida Gators!

To make things more interesting the weather forecast boasted a "low" of 77 degrees and humidity levels were 90+ percent so basically that's the best it's going to get no matter what time we set out to run. Being one of the highest overall mileage weeks, my body was down right sore and pissed off. Runner's knee in my right leg and an old lower calf/Achilles tendon injury speaking up in the left leg. Bottom line: TallguySurfing was nervous, anxious and driven all at the same time.

I convinced Jenny (who isn't human when it comes to running in hot weather) that we must get up at 4 a.m. and be on the road by 5:30 a.m. to give us at least an hour to 90 minutes of running time before the sun begins scorching us. I could tell this didn't sit well with her as it's nearly an hour earlier than we've ever gotten up for a long run. This strategy veers from the routine. She's nervous about getting started earlier than our norm and I'm nervous about getting started too late. We attempt to go to sleep super early, but really only get about 5 hours, of which the last hour Jenny lays there awake.

As planned we start running at about 5:28 a.m. from the Gainesville Health Center down University Blvd. and it's humid. It's so humid that the water vapor is clearly visible in the air beneath the street lights. By mile one I'm covered in sweat and we're going at a 9 minute pace. "Ugg, it's going to be a long run," I think to myself.

The conversation begins to flow as normal, but I'm not feeling very talkative. Looking back I realize how freaked out I was about the 20 miles before me and the higher level of focus occurring, which unfortunately was hindering my conversation skills.

We are both wearing hydration packs to allow for more fluid consumption and to not have to worry about how far until the next water stop. Mine is filled to the max with a full pack of Crytomax blended into it. They will be serving Crytomax at the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon and want to make sure it agrees with my system in case I need something more than just water on race day. I'm also packing four GUs, including a Jet Blackberry with 2x caffeine for those last few miles.

Around mile 9 we are running through Hale; an upscale neighborhood with large and expensive homes. We stop at a tennis club. It's an upscale facility that I imagine the likes of the Stepford Wives or Desperate Housewives using at a more respectable hour. Since it's hours before anyone actually arrives so we have the place to ourselves. The water fountain is like that of a soda fountain with disposable cups, chip ice and cooled water. I'm in Heaven. I fill my Camelbak reservoir with ice. We discover the women's room is decked out with hair products, lotions and soaps. I curiously go to the men's room to find it barren and basic. Can you say "what the eff?" See pictures below. There are clean cloth towels ready for my sweat at courtside. This was the nicest water stop ever!

At mile 10, we met up with Tracey, whom planned to run part of the route with us (about 5 miles). As crazy as it sounds this relaxed me knowing that Jenny and Tracey could chat away and I could just push on through without having to worry about talking. I'm not going to lie. At this point of the run we are down on Archer Road west of I-75 heading east for 2 miles straight into the early morning sunrise. There is no shade and lots of traffic noise. I was not having fun at this point as I realize my shoes are actually squishing and squashing because they are full of sweat. Never in my life have I sweat so much that my shoes have become saturated this much. I've heard stories, but generally I'm not a crazy "sweater" guy. My feet feel heavy and my legs on par with fatigue. I ponder if I'll actually get blisters and if the new sweat saturation will help or hinder blister development. Tracey and Jenny are 20 feet ahead of me deep in conversation. We finally make it to a gas station at 75th and turn north. Knowing that we have passed the point of being the furthermost point from where we started helps my mental state ever so slightly. We stop at the gas station to use the restroom. My urine is a brilliant shade of yellow kind of like an elite Kenyan's shoes. No bueno. Back on the road and I'm slamming GU and sucking Camelbak like a big baby, but I keep to myself as I follow the two girls going north on SW 75th. At mile 15 it's time to say goodbye to Tracey as she needs to head back to her place and we have to head the opposite way. It was great having her company for part of the long run!

By now the temperature is surely in the upper 80s and while my legs are feeling pretty good all things considered, my cooling system is not happy at all. Jenny looks at me and tells me I look better than previous "hot" runs we've done. "You're fine," she says and urges me to keep going. This is good in my mind. At least she isn't worried about me. We hit a short 1-mile stretch of road with no sidewalk and little shoulder. The highlight of this section is an overpass bridge going over I-75. Jenny is NOT thrilled about this section and tells me we need to get over it quickly. She takes off (probably only at our original 9-minute pace that seems like a sprint now) and I'm left chasing the pony tail up the bridge. In my mind it's Mount Everest. By the time I reach the top she's already at the bottom on the other side. I stop and walk as a reward for my accomplishment of conquering this peak. The scenery of a 6-lane highway below me is not very rewarding so I begin running down the hill where I find Jenny waiting at the next intersection. Only a 5k to go from here!

During those last 3 miles I had to stop 4 times because of the heat. It went something like this:
1.) You feel your breathing begin to increase involuntarily almost to the point of hyperventilation.
2.) Your brain tells your legs to keep running, but the lack of oxygen (reaching VO2Max) overrides the orders of your conscience and primal instinct makes you stop and walk.
3.) Annoyed as all hell you either a.) cry, b.) curse or c.) grunt
4.) After a matter of seconds or minutes of involuntarily walking you are able to catch your breath, replenish your blood oxygen levels and your brain can force your legs to start running again.

This is not my idea of a good time. I'm so out of it that I don't even stop my watch as I have previously done at water and bathroom stops (I wanted to have an idea of pace while running on this run). With 1 mile to go we can see the gym where we started. This is almost cruel as we must turn away, run through a neighborhood, up and down another hill and then return to the finish. This is also good because the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon course goes by the finish line at the halfway point and again with a few miles left. Finally, Jenny points to a brown sign and says that's the finish line. We both finish strong and a sense of joy overwhelms me knowing that I just ran 20 miles with my girlfriend! And, my legs are feeling pretty good. Without the beginning stages of heat exhaustion I think I would be perfectly fine running 20 miles. A new level of trust in the training schedule is achieved!

After 20 miles!

I'm drenched from head to toe and feel like I just got out of the ocean. There's not an article of clothing on me that can't be wrenched out. We head home, shower, meet friends for the biggest brunch ever at Flyin' Biscuit and then nap the afternoon away. By evening we're feeling pretty good. During the run we played a game. The runner that curses the most has to buy Seattle Manhattans at The Top to celebrate the 20-miler and beginning of taper later that night. English curse words count as 1 point. All curse words in foreign languages count 1 point for ever two since it takes more premeditation on these words. If you've read my entire post up to this point it's not hard to imagine that I'm buying us drinks. I owned this game and even dropped profanity in English, Danish, German and Spanish during the run!

Here's to the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon, running our 20-miler without injury and beginning a slow 3-week taper! A round of "Seattle Manhattans" at Gainesville's Top bar and restaurant.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Running update (way over due)

Wow.... WOW! I haven't blogged since Bay to Breakers.... shame!

And here I was thinking I'd have more time to put up posts and then reality hit home with a busy work schedule plus the last few weeks of high mileage leaving me wondering where all the time went.

What I need to do now is bring you all up to speed in my training for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 26th.

May was nuts with almost each weekend being out-of-town events such as Bay to Breakers, Muddy Buddy and a weekend in Gainesville. I last left off with Bay to Breakers so we'll start the weekend after in Gainesville. This was the scheduled 18-miler long run weekend. Jenny and I decided to do it on the trails of San Felasco Hammock State Park. We were joined by Rochelle and her friend, but since they aren't in the same training situation as us they only joined us for the first 10 miles. We got a late start and the sun was already up. It was unusually humid and by the end of the first mile I was already sweating. The day before I purchased a Camelbak (Classic 2010) hydration backpack to wear. Honestly, I'm not sure I could have finished the run without it. We stashed Gatorade two miles in at a point that was also the 10 mile mark. I consumed all the Gatorade and all the water in my Camelbak well before we finished along with three GUs. The heat and humidity definitely took a toll on me. I was reduced to taking multiple walking breaks the last three miles. Jenny, of course, was a trooper and kept me motivated to finish. "Chase the ponytail," I remember telling myself several times! During the last 1/4 mile we came upon an ancient oak tree with a huge cave-like hole at the base. It reminded me of the South Park episode with the "underpants gnomes." I either imagined the gnomes coming and going from this hole or I hallucinated it! By the time we made it back to the trail head I was borderline heat exhausted. Goosebumps were forming on my arms and I was no longer sweating in the 90+ degrees heat. I colapsed upon the Earth in my TallGuySurfing tradition for after a hard long run and Jenny took a picture. We stopped at a fuel station and I purchased several sports drinks, Rockstar energy drinks and a TON of food, which I attempted to consume before making it the rest of the way home. After regaining my wits I checked my GPS and learned that we actually ran 19 Miles!!!! Sweet!

Two crazy runners going the distance on trails!

Spotting one of many deer...

The tree with the "underpants gnomes!"

Finished!!!! 19-freaking miles!

With 200+ miles on both my current running shoes (Brooks Adrenaline and Asics 2150s) I decided to get some new ones for the marathon. After trying on equivelant versions of Merrells, Saucony, Mizumo and Adidas I ended up buying the same Brooks I already have! Look how dirty 19 miles of trails leaves your shoes compared to brand new ones!

The next weekend (Memorial day weekend) was spent a home. The FishStock fishing tournament was in full swing and this year they held an inaugural 5k race. The training schedule said 14 miles. We decided to stir it up a bit by running 11 miles (actually about 10.5) before the race arriving only minutes before the start gun. We were joined at the race by Erin, Justin and a few other friends. I've run a few races in my home town and never seen more than about 200 people in any one race. This race saw 497 registered runners! Not bad for an inaugural race. Jenny and I started near the front back and Justin worked his way right up to toe the start line. I really didn't want to get caught up in a fast pace group. At the first mile I checked my watch and I was right on 7 minutes. Jenny was in my line of sight about 100 feet ahead. I checked my watch again at mile 2 and I had fallen back to a 7:20 pace. As we headed back along a scenic riverside road and the sun hit us I hit a wall. Not the kind of wall where you can't run, but the kind where you can't sustain your pace any longer. I felt my legs involuntarily slowing down. Old men and girls began passing me. Yup, I was being chicked! I lost sight of Jenny up ahead and no longer cared. I crossed the finish line at 24:50. Not even close to a PR, but good enough to get 4th in my age group and not bad at all for running 10.5 miles as a warm up! According to on my cell phone at race start at 8 a.m., it was 86 degrees and 96 percent humidity. Whew!

After the race! Erin, Justin, myself and Jenny. Justin and Jenny both claimed 2nd place finishes in their age divisions and Justin took 9th overall.... speedster!

After the running what better activity than the beach? We spent two days surfing and relaxing at the beach. I'd also like to note (since my blog seriously lacks surfing content these days) that leading up to last weekend we finally got a decent swell in New Smyrna Beach. I surfed 7 of 8 days and the swelled peaked on Wednesday with 7-8-feet wave faces at Bethune Beach, which I charged repeatedly on my 9'0" Walden Magic performance longboard.

Tomorrow I'm in Gainesville to run the longest run of the entire 18-week schedule. A 20-miler. It looks like several of Jenny's friends are going to meet us at different spots of the run to join in for 5 or 6 miles at a time. My goal is to be out the door by 5 a.m. and have at least half the run over by sunrise. My fear is that we'll get another late start and the heat/humidity will kick my arse! Stay tuned for the recap!