Racers On Your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set, Go

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The big day is finally here.  Well it will be tomorrow, the 2008 St. Jude Memphis Marathon.  It’s bitter sweet.  Although I’m very excited about finishing tomorrow, I’m somewhat sad. I’ve spent the past 5 months training, 11 if you include the Germantown Marathon (when I got sick two weeks before the race). After tomorrow, there won’t be anything to train for until March.

Well, I’m sure that I’ll find something to train for, or take that time to find a new power song.

For those of you who are braving the cold weather, enjoying the sunshine, the cold beer afterwards, and having your spirit lifted by the patients, parents, and loved ones at St. Jude . . . GOOD LUCK!!!!

Only 21.097 km (13.1 miles) to go.

A Perfect 10

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This year’s St. Jude Memphis Marathon is coming up fast, December 6th, 2008.  This race can’t get here fast enough.  Last year was my first half marathon and while it was a huge personal accomplishment I definitely felt the pain of being a rookie.  Wearing the wrong socks, not hydrating enough, and not running enough before hand.  I believe that I only got up to 9 miles during training and my mid-week runs should have been taken more seriously.  I paid for those mistakes by feeling hung over almost day and two blisters.

However, I was to not be beaten.  This year I have trained not only harder, but more efficiently.  I completed my 10 mile run yesterday and it felt great.  Most importantly I felt great afterwards.  The key being that I brought food with me on my run and ate a little bit around mile 4.5 and mile 8.5, along with staying hydrated with a mixture of Gatorade.

It was the perfect 10.

Only 3.1 miles to go.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

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While I was training for the half marathon last year, I was fortunate I didn’t have to experience any extreme temperatures or humidity. The day of the race I think it got close to 70 degrees . . . in December.

This time around I’m having to experience extreme Memphis heat and humidity. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 am, 12 noon, or 8 pm, it’s always hot and muggy. Even when I’m done with my run and get cleaned up I still can’t seem to stop sweating for at least 2 hours.

I completed a 5 mile run last week and I felt as if I’d run a marathon. Even with all the Gatorade and water that I carry with me on my runs, the hot weather is a formidable adversary.

In order to keep up with my training obligations, I’ve been reading up on how to run SAFELY through the hottest parts of the year. Here are some tips that have come in handy:

  1. For long runs that are held on Sunday, preparation should begin on Saturday. Eat light and drink LOTS of water.
  2. Slow down. When it’s extremely humid outside, sweat won’t evaporate as easily.
  3. If you’re new to running in the heat, start in the hottest part of the day, and start slow. Take a short walk or run a few easy miles a couple of times a week for the first few weeks. “Spending all your time in air-conditioning and then expecting to run well outdoors in the heat is not going to cut it,” says William Roberts, M.D., former president of the American College of Sports Medicine and the medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon.
  4. Wear socks made of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from your skin to help prevent blisters and athlete’s foot.
  5. Drink adequate fluids 30 - 45 minutes before you exercise and then a cupful every 10 - 15 minutes while exercising. After exercising, drink more fluid than you think you need. Sport replacement drinks are superior to water, especially if you’re running longer distances and times (over 60 - 90 minutes). The electrolytes and carbohydrates in sport drinks will help speed your recovery from the stress of fluid loss and your long distance run. Sport replacement drinks also taste great, encouraging you to drink more than you otherwise might.
  6. Dress lightly and wear light-colored clothes. Avoid cotton t-shirts, which will become soaked, heavy, and prevent evaporation, which is how your body cools itself.

A Change of Pace

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Ever since I purchased my Nike+ kit I’ve been relying on the collected data not only for motivation, but to track my training as well. I’m currently on hiatus from any serious training until June, when I start training for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. My fellow bloggers and I have all expressed the need to train smart. Part of my “smart” training strategy is to give my body a break - especially my knees.

My current regimen now consists of three types of running:

  1. Up to 4 miles outside
  2. Running to the gym (~1.12 miles from my house), working out, and then running home
  3. Up to 4 miles on the treadmill

This has been my routine since early March and it feels great. My knees are holding up and I haven’t had any problems with motivation due to the fact that each workout is different.

This change of pace is helping keep me on track.

To Race or Not to Race?

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For the past three and half months I’ve been working toward my goal of running the Germantown Half marathon. Despite some ups and downs, I was on track with my progress and on my way to another half marathon under my belt. Unfortunately, I got sick, along with what seems to be everyone else I know, and wasn’t able to run consistently for about two weeks. Once I finally was able to run again, I knew that I had to ease back into it or risk 1) getting sick again 2) injuring myself.

With the race only two and half weeks away, I knew I had a tough decision ahead of me. To race or not to race? I talked to Scott about my dilemma and he encouraged to me to push through and finish what I started and worked hard for. Last week, for better or for worse, I had to make the decision to not run it. Though I feel I would have been able to finish, I think that I would have done more harm than good. I kept thinking about what I’ve read and been told concerning pushing yourself too hard. The reason why I had shin splints was because I had increased my mileage too fast. I can’t forget that my big goal, the REAL goal, is to finish the marathon in December. I have a long way to go, definitely more than 400 meters, and I want make sure I cross that finish line.

Since I’ve made that decision to not run the Germantown Half marathon, I’ve fully recovered from my illness, completed my first 100 miles with Nike+, set two personal records for the mile and had better overall runs. I feel I’ve turned a corner in my training and have had a renewed love for running and training. Spring is in the air and with that comes new life. So lace up your shoes, grab your Gatorade, hit that center button, and log some miles.

A Marathon Application

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A Marathon Application

My good friend and fellow Nike+ challenger Derek, who currently averages 80 miles per month, applied to run in this year’s Flora 2008 London Marathon. I was surprised to learn that Derek was turned down and would not be allowed to participate this year. “You keep winning the Nike+ challenges; you’re too good for us,” they said. I’m kidding about that quote of course, but I’m not joking about the decision.

It did not even cross my mind that runners had to apply to enter. I’m so used to running in fairly small local events that I thought runners just paid their money to register, and then show up on the day of the race. Not so for the London Marathon! I was quite shocked by this realization.

I have fond memories of watching the London Marathon each year on TV, as it is always shown live each April by the BBC on a Sunday morning. It’s a national, televised event that raises a lot of money for charity, most notably by a large number of runners who wear wacky and colorful costumes, competing not only to complete 26.2 miles, but also to see who can get on TV. So if “Wacky Steve” from Liverpool, dressed as a giant, yellow banana can be allowed to run the London Marathon in eight hours, surely the race organizers should let Derek from Birmingham, with a likely 4 hour 30 minute finish time, take part. Think again.

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Since my last post I have set a set a new PR for my fastest mile and had a long run or two, but I must admit last week I wasn’t able to run as much as I should have, but in place of two of the missed runs weren’t in vain.I saw two OUTSTANDING movies that are helping me push through those days when I say to myself, “Man I don’t want to run today”. The first of the two is called, “The Long Run“. Though one may be of the opinion that the name isn’t very creative, but trust me, it fits. The movies is about a failed track coach who discovers a young woman who has extraordinary talent and with his coaching will be able to win the Comrades. Read the rest of this entry »

And I’m Feelin’ Good

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I don’t know if the planets were aligned, or if was just my lucky day, but my run last night felt great. I ended up having lunch with an old friend, Vince Perryman, who got me into cross-country running while I was in high school. The difference between Vince and myself is that, oh yeah, he is an elite runner and hasn’t stopped running since the age of 14. I mentioned to Vince my born-again dedication to running.

While explaining some of the recent trials and tribulations with my training plan for the Germantown Half Marathon, Vince offered some astute and simple advice:

Don’t think about always beating your personal best. There is a fine line between pushing yourself during training and pushing yourself over the limit. You might not only injury yourself physically, but break yourself mentally.”

While I was suffering through the St. Jude/Memphis Half Marathon in December, Vince was setting a personal best for the FULL marathon. When asked what made this race different, he said it was because he didn’t worry about anything but the current moment. He didn’t over think his strategy. He just ran HIS race.

So last night I stood out in my front yard and told myself that I was going to forget about the challenges and just run. I would run hard, but smart. I ran right past the Pyramid when I heard, “400 meters to go!” I thought to myself that I would sprint the last distance. I didn’t think about how far I had already run nor did I think about what my pace was or might have been. I just ran my way.

When I completed my last 400 meters and ended my workout, I heard that WONDERFUL, welcoming female voice telling me I had beat my personal best and I was very happy with my average pace per mile. Furthermore, I was excited to just be out there, enjoying my run again, oh — and not falling down and almost breaking my finger, like I did last week!