1 month to go…been a busy summer

I haven’t blogged in a while. I wish I had a great excuse like I was on a trek to find my mantra or saving the earth from albino mind chiggers. Sigh, just really busy and haven’t been finding the mojo. That I hope to change over the next few weeks as we start a new goal season as I wrap up this year of crazy goals.

Marathon…1 month away.

I signed up early this year for the Top Of Utah Marathon, thinking hey I have months to train, piece of cake. Ha!. I don’t think the 26.2 miles are as extreme as is the training plan leading up to the race. How do people find the time? I didn’t do myself any favors with my summer race schedule, but still 30-40 plus miles a week…insanity.

Past two months

Since this summer started I have run a total of 3 half marathons

1. Provo Canyon 6/8 Time 2:14:04 —was happy as this was my first after shoulder surgery

2. Timpanogos Half and Sogonapmit Marathon 7/27 Time 2:07:55 (they have me toeing the line, so this is actually about 1 minute over as I don’t crowd the start line) PR

3. Hobble Creek 8/17 Time 2:13:39 Eh, I have some injuries, was just a fun run

Plus I participated in the Epic Cache Teton 205 mile relay between Logan, Ut and Jackson, Wy…where I was attacked by Mosquitos.

kevin running

I am the yellow dot in the lower left side, trying to kill as many bugs as possible while not eating too many…yuck.

Team Off the Couch…I am the big guy in the middle, called Big Bird by one teammate.

So now here is my next month leading up to my marathon

1. Color Run 8/24 – Awesome as I get to run with the wife and 5 year old son, really looking forward to an easy jog

2. Disney Half Marathon 9/1 – sea level but also pretty flat – family running weekend, wife 10k, 5 year old son 200 meter dash

3. Mt Nebo Half Marathon 9/7 – only 6 days, but hopefully I am feeling stronger than right now, plan to do a few miles later in the day.

That then leaves me two weeks to prep for the full. YIKES!

Injuries

On the PR run for the Timp Half, all of the downhill left a lasting impression on my left calf. I had been dealing with a right calf issue for a while this spring, but new shoes seemed to have squashed that. This is more of a lingering strain that just won’t go away with rest, massage or foam rolling. I am actually going to order some more supportive Mizuno shoes in an effort to lesson the load on the legs, so hopefully that will help. I also ran a couple of times with compression socks, which also helps on recovery, but I am not a fan of the socks. I ordered some compression sleeves to go with the new shoes in the hopes of recovering by the marathon. Wish me luck.

Mens Mizuno Wave Enigma 2 Running ShoeZensah Compression Leg Sleeves Injury Recovery

New shoes, Mizuno Wave Enigma 2                                     Not my legs, plus I will wear shoes and socks.

I also decided to crack/bruise a rib. I did this by diving over the back seat of the van during the relay race, in between leg 1 and 2, while recovering from the asthma attack brought on by the hundreds of mosquito bites. It didn’t feel good at the time, but I didn’t think much of it until two days later, then now 1.5 weeks later. During the half this past weekend, it was ok for about the first 8 miles and then a funny step…bam…hard to breath when you have a rib injury. My goal is to move to a treadmill for a few runs to bring down the shock and hopefully just work my way over enough time where this heals as well.

That is the past few months and next few weeks in a nutshell, what have you guys been up to?

Cheers!

 

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Starting the marathon…even in new shoes

So this past week my training program started to show up in my calendar. I had moved the Marathon training program from Nike from their Facebook page into my outlook.com web calendar a while back, then quickly forgot since I had a few weeks. Well, the waiting is over, I am now ‘training for a full marathon’ officially.

The good thing is that this is a ‘finish’ program, so the miles coming up are nothing compared to where I was a few weeks back with the half marathon training, leading up to the race. This past week I ran a 4 mile run, two 3.1 mile runs and this past weekend I ran 6 miles and 4 miles back to back. As with a lot of things, I tend to modify the official plan to something that accommodates my life, versus letting some calendar rule my days, especially the weekend.

At the same time I have been changing a lot of things related to my gear, which quite honestly I am focusing more on right now as taking on this adventure is a bit brain numbing, thinking about the distances I will be running. I would rather keep my analytically brain attached to the data points that relate to myself.

Phone

This is the new Sony Xperia ZL. The L stands for LTE, which my company is in the process of deploying, hence why I had to pick one up. The good pieces are that this phone is packed with other features, such as massive memory for music (16 GB plus a memory card slot), huge bright screen (5″) and even though pretty massive, not much heavier than the iPhone 5 (5.3 ounces versus 3.9 ounces). The battery life is what really has me excited, as my iPhone was at about 15% at the end of my half marathon, which won’t quite cut it during my upcoming marathon. This phone’s battery is roughly 50% larger so it will be about the operating system and applications.

I have been testing out three.

1. Runtastic

2. MapMyRun

3. Nike +

I like the UI of Runtastic and MapMyRun and they tend to be solid on GPS, just a little bit ‘off’ on distance. Nike + was right on with the distance, just ‘off’ on the details of ground elevation and split times. Reality is that I will continue to rely on my GPS watch and just use the phone to track my current pacing and play my music.

Hydration

nathan

Over the past year I had been using a Camelbak  dual 20 ounce water bottle system when running, which is just too much weight and not comfortable for long runs when starting. When the bottles are empty, life is fine, but when you start out, man that is a lot of water on your back.

So I did some research and found the Nathan Trail Mix 4 system, with 4 10 ounce bottles and a belt that has two wonderful features. The clasp swivels so it isn’t fixed at one angle, allowing it to adjust as it moves up and down on your waist. It also has elastic straps between the bottles and the clasp, which allows you to make it snug so less bouncing while not chaffing or cutting into your sides. So far in two long runs the system does the no bounce as advertised, but the length releases during the runs, so I spend more time tightening the system. This I have to figure out, as it just doesn’t work well but I love how the weight is equally distributed around the waist, not pounding one area over the others. The bottles also are perfect to hold for a while and not so heavy to distract you.

Shoes

So if you have followed my running, you probably have noticed I am a Nike fan, always have been since high school basketball and Air Jordan’s first came out (yes I had a pair of red’black ones even though my HS colors were Purple and Gold). Over the past few months of longer runs I have noticed that my right calf has been suffering and I read a few articles on what might be causing that ‘injury. Some of the articles and posts suggested that some people experience lower leg pain when their shoes are ‘opposite to their running style. Eh…I am really one who thinks the Overpronate/Underpronate might be a bit overblown.

I tend to run very neutral but the shoes I had been running for a while, Lunarglide 4 and the rare Air Icarus Plus are more of a support shoe. So based on this suggestion and reading so many fabulous things about Mizuno Wave Riders, I decided to try out a pair to see if this would help my calf pain. I located a pair for around $52 on runningwarehouse.com (After 15% off coupon code) and now have run 10 miles in these shoes.

What I like about these shoes is that they are there. I really didn’t think about the feel or the cushion or the strike zone, I simply ran. My calf felt great, as well if not better than it had in many, many runs. Another piece was that when I ran faster (for me, not fast) I didn’t think about the shoes but felt the form stay a lot more consistent. Mizuno has a term called “Mezamashii” or Brilliant Run, which quite honestly I felt was actually happening.

Up this week is about 20 miles over 4 runs and then onto vacation in North Carolina where my wife and I are doing a sand dune 2 mile race on the 4th of July.

Until then, Run Happy!

First half since surgery…running with happiness

“Happiness isn’t an outside job, it’s an inside job”

This was from a fortune cookie last week, one that sort of rang a bell in my head. I was leading up to my first half since my shoulder surgery and had some concerns about my fitness and mental strength heading into the run.

I try to always run happy, something I recently suggested to my wife when she headed out for one of her training runs. She later said she was cursing me during the run, something along the lines of “screw happy, what the hell does he know about happy, etc…” I once read that if you run happy it helps pass the time. I am not big on mantras or visualization, that stuff is a bit too deep for me.

“You never do as much as you are capable of and you never accomplish as much as you think you did” Not from a fortune cookie and a summary of a ‘mantra’ I heard a lot during military training. Bottom line, there is always more you can do, we as humans always typically hold something physically back, afraid of the bear or dinosaur in the next room that we will have to fight or flight from.

Putting these into my run this past Saturday in Provo, Ut was key for me. Waking up at 2:50 am to catch a bus was not on the happy agenda, but I made the most of it by eating one of my wife’s amazing muffins (she now has her own home based bakery, so proud) and gulping a large coffee. It was a large contingent and we had over 2 hours to kill, so I walked around meeting new runners and just laughing at women walking into the porta-potty that was only urinals. Sorry, it was 5 am, comedy comes in very odd forms.

Glad I did the last offload as there was no porta-potty along the course, more on that later.

I started the run with a new plan. Even though it was a downhill start for the majority of the first 9 miles, I went out slow. Maybe too slow. I put myself at the 2:10 pacer and felt if I kept him in my back pocket, I would be finishing around my PR of 2:10:46 but I had ZERO goal of hitting that time, given I had only 5 weeks of real training leading up to this race. He actually passed me at mile one, which I hadn’t planned on, so I picked it up, maybe a bit too much. After that I sort of said, shut down the brain and run you fool, not like you are even ready for this run.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.06.02 PM

As you can see, I was pretty good on the downhill. I felt ok, the views were amazing. Not often do you get to run down a four lane highway cutting through a canyon with waterfalls along the way. There was a slight uphill around mile 4 to which I said if you want to get ahead of the pace, you might want to glide through the next couple of miles so just relax and run. Mile 5 was my fastest which was pretty cool, however I think I was distracted by all of the runners heading into the woods.

You see, seems the race paid for porta-potty’s along the course, the company just failed to put them out there. I personally didn’t have to run to nature, but it was almost comical watching men and women head over the ditch to see a bush. Some dived across the other lanes to bathrooms at parks along the route, which I am sure had nasty lines. So much for being a well oiled machine, but they did send an email apologizing. Maybe they will give a coupon for next year…HA!

When we finally got out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be a haul to downtown. One nice thing, there was not one single turn on this run, but then again, when you crested the last hill at somewhere between 10 and 11, you could see downtown Provo in the distance. Sigh…that was a long way away with no breaks other than one last water hole. What helped me was thinking about my 4 year old and his 1k later in the morning and thinking about him starting his running ‘career’ out that day.

I didn’t hit a PR on this run, but I had no illusion of that happening. I had a secret hope that with enough downhill, I might get under 10’00″ pace for the race, but that was just not in the cards. The last mile was awful and I was just trying to get across while jogging.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.17.44 PM

This was a bit off as I started off a little early and ended a little late on the phone application. The funniest part of my run was that they didn’t call my name that I heard and I kept checking in with the timers on my result. I had to go to the timer’s van and ask which they said my chip worked at the starting line (glad of that) but not at the finish. They had to ‘go to the video’ which would happen later. It was up by the end of the day, but was funny nonetheless.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.20.42 PM

There were 1,963 runners and I also learned a new term, ‘getting chicked’. I was chatting with a group that was the NYPD running team, part of a X Country team and had told them my only goal was to NOT get passed by any marathon runner. Their goal was to not get chicked, i.e. get beat by a girl. They were serious telling a story of coming out of an emergency porta potty dash at one marathon only to see they had been passed by a girl and they simply had to pass her back.

Well, from what I can tell their fastest runner didn’t quite make it, he may have beat her across the line, but she did beat him on chip time. I can only dream of having that sort of speed.

My summer will be now focused on 4 more half marathons and my first full in September. My goals are to get under 2:05 in the half this year and just to finish the full, all while focusing on being happy on my runs and being a role model for my little guy, who wrapped up his 1k with over 1,000 other kids. Here he is hydrating back up after that run. We actually are all running the color run later in the year, so only 4k more that day.

logan

 

Back to me…running out of a funk

Major shoulder sugery…work trips…life…more work trips…gastroenteritis (not fun)…no blogging due to self pity…back to running. That has been my last 4 months since my half marathon in Florida. Ups, downs, sideways and that was just March.

Reality is that I underestimated the recovery of my shoulder, as I didn’t know how really bad it was. My doc had to do more than he expected as the shoulder kept dislocating during surgery…oops. I wasn’t able to exercise let alone run for 8 weeks. Even then I wasn’t really ‘suppose’ to be running, but man was I needing something. I hardly could sleep, I was in pain standing, sitting or lying down and it was impacting every aspect of who I was, at home and at work. Life was not flowing, it was like I was living life in a fog with my high beams on.

A few weeks later, I was ready to try and get my first half of my Run The Slam done on April 27th. My body was not willing and I called it off, added to that I had to get sick with gastroenteritis which really sucks by the way. Since then, I have been pushing hard and I think it might be paying off. I now have my first half a week from Saturday and I wrapped up my 10 mile run this past week. I looked back to my training leading up to my first half, where I was extremely serious and following a plan to the T and I was amazed to see that my last long run leading up to that race was a 10.6 mile run in 2 hours and 6 minutes, a 11’50″ pace. This past week I ran 10.0 miles in 1 hour 55 minutes for a 11’33″ pace.

Given the physical struggles which led to a lot of mental challenges, I didn’t think I was actually training faster, rather probably slower. I did have a trip to sea level this past month where I was running paces of 9’17″ for 4 miles, which was helping boost the confidence a bit, but again my brain was not allowing me to calculate where I was mentally. Ignorance might be blissful, but damn its hard to know without looking back. Part of why I love my Nike + GPS watch is the history online to allow me to go back and really check out things like this, which I probably need to do more often.

So here I am getting ready for my first of 5 half marathons and getting ready to kick off training for a full marathon in September. I bought a Boston Marathon shirt from the BAA store to remind me of one of the reasons I run…because I can and I am not afraid. I run to prove to myself that my body doesn’t control my mind, but my mind is in FULL control of my body. I might never get full range of motion back in my shoulder, but that won’t slow me down, in fact it proves that no matter my body’s efforts to quit, my mind is strong and so are my broken down legs. I won’t be the fastest, I won’t be the smoothest, but I will run my race, at my pace and I will inspire someone (hopefully) to do the same for themselves.

Cheers,

Not sure how to start

Today started like any other day for me. My son woke me up at 3 am, then again at 6 am, then again at 6:30 am. I knew it was going to be a long day, just not how long.

The first thing that hit my mind was the date; tax day. I then remembered the people who were in Boston, thinking about my own running goals with no inkling that I would ever qualify to run in that race, my fat ass just never could allow me to get down to those speeds, let along for 26.2 miles. I thought of the couple of people i know who were running, who might be running and I tried to think positive thoughts to those, hoping the weather wouldn’t be like last year, which seems to be happening at more long races.

I went to work, thinking about my trip to New Orleans tomorrow, hoping I could get all of my work done before the day ended…

Never in my wildest dreams would I expect a call from my wife who told me bombs went off at Boston.

My wife and i were merely co workers during 9/11 where we talked that day about what we were seeing. Now we both are runners with her finishing a 5k last Saturday and me trying to recover from shoulder surgery and possibly complete a half marathon in two weeks.

The images I saw were out of my worst nightmares of military experiences. I have seen bombs explode, I have seen the outcome and I would only wish this on my worst enemy, and not even then now. These things are non-discriminatory, hurting anything and everything.

Worse for me, the time of 4:09:44 I saw on the race clock was probably around the time I would have been finishing if I ever do run a marathon.

Quickly I got on twitter to see all of the people I know there and to see what was going on. I saw famous people who were in shock. I got a tweatback from Dick Beardsley about one of his club runners who was half a mile from the finish. I stated “Glad he was safe, sad he was that close”. He agreed.

Someone who works for me said a friend was literally 1 minute complete and still in the chute when the bomb went off. 1 minute.

I read a blog post of a girl who was 30 feet away from the explosion, walking towards.

I have a special place in my heart for Boston, my dad a lifelong Red Sox fan. I was in Logan Airport 1 week to the day before 9/11. I love the history and the people from there.

So what can a guy in Wyoming do to show support of the over 130 people now impacted and the 3 people who have lost their life to this senseless act? Well, I went for a run tonight and probably ran harder than I should have with my shoulder feeling the way it did. I swapped out my shoelaces to yellow and blue, the colors of the run.

Tomorrow I will be flying to New Orleans and I plan on wearing a race shirt as I saw many runners plan on doing so. Hopefully the people seeing me walking around two airports in my shirt, my USA running hat and the sad face, people will know how I support the runners who ran to the hospitals to give blood, those who ran but did not finish and to the poor older man who literally was blown off his feet, yet was walked across the finish line.

gss-130415-boston-bombing-fallen-runner-reax.grid-8x2

I also am going to run this stupid half marathon in two weeks. I don’t care if my time is 4 hours, 9 minutes and 44 seconds, I am going to run in honor of the people lost and injured. I am also now firm on running a full marathon this year. I signed up for one, thinking I might want too, and didn’t want that to fill up. So on Sept 21st, 2013 I will wear my blue and yellow shoelaces and a shirt I plan on buying from the BAA website to honor the race, the people of Boston and that no idiot can make me be afraid. The point of terrorist acts is to put fear in the minds and hearts of citizens. I WILL NOT BE AFRAID, I WILL STAND TALL AND SUPPORT THOSE WHO DO THE SAME!!!!!! I WILL NOT HATE, I WILL NOT HAVE ANYTHING BUT FAITH, LOVE, AND COMPASSION.

shoelaces

 

Best laid schemes o’ mice and men

Don’t you love it when you have a plan. You scheme, you research, you come to conclusions…then life happens.

For me, I was seriously looking forward to running in 2013. I have felt a real stride in my stride, power in my runs and an ease of getting out on the road. My last half marathon, only my second ever, was with probably half of the training I should have done and sill managed a solid 2 hour 11 minute finish, even with 700 feet of elevation.

So as I started my journey way back when, I talked about my injury laden body. Mainly my problems are in my knees, both of which have undergone too many surgeries and lack simple things like cartilage. But I also mentioned my shoulders, which are equally in pain 99% of the time. It got so bad this past week I actually went to a doctor to see about the extent of the injuries. What do I hear? torn labrum.

I could have done an MRI and he said that would help him know if I needed a 2 hour versus a 3 hour surgery. Ha! Worst part was that he basically dislocated my shoulder while examining it, and said “wow!”. How often do you think you hear that from a doctor about how bad your joint is.

I didn’t expect his recovery on running though. Who would think a shoulder impacts your running. But he tells me I might be on the sidelines for at least 2-3 months. It might be longer if I am not good about things and that worries me. Knowing myself, I have always pushed my recovery and probably done more harm than good. My wife this time probably will have something to say about that.

So right now it looks like after my business trip in January I will be headed under the knife and expect 5-6 weeks of a sling, 3-4 months of reduced usage and 6-9 months of therapy. We will see how this impacts my schedule, but for now, my January half will be the last race for quite a while. Till the surgery, I plan on training for my half with all I have as it could be the last for a while. Then the blog will turn into a recover from a shoulder surgery blog and maybe how to relearn your golf swing as well.

Wrapping up, kicking off

So I have been pretty quiet…and lazy as of late. Wish I had more excuses…no I don’t actually. Life gets in the way of life sometimes and when this happens to me, I turn to what I know best…being lazy. Ha!. Actually I have had some foot pain along with massive shoulder pain, so it just hurts to run. Tomorrow I see a shoulder specialist, so hopefully he will give me good news…not!.

So I was looking back at 2012 since I have no more races left to run this year and looking for my challenge for 2013. I turn 44…yikes…in April, so what do you do when you beat your challenge of a half marathon? Run a full? maybe…but what about a relay…could be…how about we stay realistic? So I looked around Salt Lake running websites and came across this.

Runtheslam.com

image

So here is the premise. Run four of six main half marathons over the summer, or two alternates and you get a plaque with special medals. I like that idea. Plus you get $5 off each race and guaranteed entry. Awesome!. I actually had signed up for 1, so I was 25% committed already.

Here are the other race choices.

image

I looked at the dates and found a perfect fit, which was the Thanksgiving Point half, which is 2 days prior to my birthday. Score! Birthday half. I was already registered for the Utah Valley Half, which was the scene of my first 5k in 2011 that started out my addiction running road races. Now two more.

What caught my eye first was Mt Nebo. Are you kidding me? 3,500 foot elevation drop. Yeehaw!. Strap on the jock strap and hang on baby!. Plus at $50, much more reasonable that other races I have signed up for recently…more on that later.

Now for the 4th…hmmmm. My family is actually heading to the Outerbanks in July, so would it make sense to run two halfs in two weeks, which would be the case on the AF Canyon run? Plus the Timpanogos run in July is the exact same course, just $40 more…sigh on that part. They both have about the same number of runners, so reality is that the latter would suit my family needs and keep me from trying too many runs in too few weeks.

I actually could do more runs and they take your fastest time in the overall, however I am not kidding myself on placing, since they don’t have a fat guy Clydesdale division. Plus I do plan on holding out a possibility of running a full, depending on how the first half of 2013 goes. Here are my thoughts.

Quad City Marathon.This is my hometown race, that I honestly didn’t even know existed. I know all about the more famous race in my hometown, which is the Bix7, but I never knew we had a full marathon. I did move away 25 years ago and the run has only been ongoing for 15, but hey my mom shares all.

Chicago Marathon. This is 3-4 hours from my hometown and my sister lives in the ‘burbs. Flat course and simply one of the top 5 in the US. I don’t know if they cap the run, so I might have to decide early.

DisneyWorld Marathon. The only downside of this is that it isn’t really in 2013, it will be in 2014, but that gives me more time and I am 100% positive I can convince my wife to go along with the idea. Hell, I might even convince her to run the half for her first ever, since it will be Disney Smile

Next race

In looking at all of this on the calendar, I realized that having my first run in April was really going to feed into my procrastination. I simply needed something sooner for me to get out NOW and stop this cycle of running 1 or 2 times a week at most. Enter my business trip to St Petersburg, Florida in Jan.

I looked at my favorite website for finding races, runningintheusa.com and saw one the Sunday before my work week and thought, why not? I never get to race on Sundays (thank you LDS church for imposing your will on the masses) and more important, never, ever at sea level. My last run at sea level I did nearly 5 miles in 40 minutes. Let there be oxygen on this day of worship (for someone)!!!!!

I picked the St Pete Beach Classic for two reasons. 1. No Bridges. Those are nothing but hills in disguise.  2. It’s on the beach in a beautiful neighborhood. If I won’t have mountains, at least I can have ocean and amazing houses, yachts, etc…

So now I am about 7 weeks away, having a hard time with running 4-5 miles, but with a plan. Probably not a great plan for January, but I am hoping extra red blood cells will carry the day.

Training

I am going to use the Run Less, Run Faster plan again. I am jumping into the middle (OUCH) so we will see how this goes. Sunday I ran 5 miles in I have no clue as my iPhone 5 decided to have a bug on the Nike+ App and stopped the GPS with the 15 minute pace update and I didn’t start my GPS for about 0.4 miles into the run. Oh well, the run sucked and I hated it.

Tonight was back on the Sprint/Interval/Long Run cycle with this being Sprints.

2 Sets (6×400) 90 second RI between 1/4, 150 seconds RI between sets.

I ran them in a pyramid pace, building speed each quarter from 7.5 mph to 8.0 mph in 0.1 increments. Why? I have no clue. I then went back down from 8.0 to 7.5 in the second set. Wow, I was sucking wind hard by the last two. Total distance 4.1 miles in 41 minutes. Oww.

Accountability

So now I have told the 10’s of readers my plan, therefore I am accountable to my plans and goals. Thanks for reading, I promise I will chat more about this and hopefully you will see me sufffer grow as a runner. Cheers!

What do you do in order to motivate yourself to keep at it?

Review: Little something, something in my coffee

If there is one staple in my day, it is my morning cup(s) of coffee. I love coffee, always have since I was a kid stealing drinks from my mom’s bridge club. I was always told it would stunt my growth, but alas I ended up at 6’2”, so guess that theory is out the door.

This past month, I signed up for a bzz campaign from bzzagent.com for a product review campaign on Green Mountain Coffee Wellness Collection. What could be wrong with getting samples of coffee that are not only tasty, but are good for you, right? Sign me up for that one!

The Wellness Collection are two flavors of Keurig K Cups of coffee launched in Sept of this year, that are a Focus Blend and an Antioxidant Blend. The Focus includes 50 mg L-Theanine while the Antioxidant has Vitamin C and E. These are even 100% Fair Trade Certified Coffees, yay for the small coffee growers!

Introducing Wellness Brewed

The big fear I had going into this taste test was that somehow the flavor would get upset. You see, I drink my coffee straight up, i.e. black, so there are no ways to mask a bad cup of coffee. The initial shipment came with 3 boxes of 4 Cups, which had two of each flavor. So this entire week I have been getting my morning to go cup of both blends.

The flavor is just like other cups of GMC products, very smooth and with no bitter aftertaste. The favor was more of what I would expect with a decaf product, in that it was a bit flatter than most robust brews, but I could also attribute that to using 12 ounces of water per cup versus 10 ounces.

The only down side of putting supplements into anything is how do you measure success or determine if this is working. In the week I have been drinking the Focus blend, I can’t say I have better focus at work, but then again, how can you say I don’t. I am sure there are levels of L-Theanine that would have to get built up before I would see any benefit. I do like the idea of getting vitamin C in my coffee, as I typically would drink a glass of OJ to get that instead and who needs those extra calories?

In the end, I love the idea of supplements in my coffee, since it is something I just don’t skip on any morning. The price of this is around $4.00 more per 24 count box of K Cups, or $0.25 each. The good news for you is that if you would like to try these, simply go to the web store and enter GMCBEWELL code at checkout and get $3.00 off your purchase until the end of 2012. You can even sign up for their auto-ship club and save 15% as well, which for me makes sense.

Question for everyone then: What supplement would you like to see in your coffee, tea or other staple drink, if any at all?

Running in the mountains

I remember sitting on the bus for my first ever half marathon this summer and overheard a couple from Houston who were stressing a bit about the effect of running at elevation for the first time. I caught them off guard as I laughed and said I was worried the other way, as I was coming down 3,000 feet while they were going up 3,000 feet.

So as I was thinking about a nice topic for a blog entry yesterday while running in 30 degree weather, I thought of people who would be coming up to visit various ski towns across over the next few months, so would they know what to expect from an altitude plus dealing with the conditions we also have in the winter months.

Altitude, or running with 22% less oxygen

Running at altitude has been compared to the imagination of only using one lung. You see professional football players sucking on tanks when playing at Mile High Stadium on Sundays, so what is it like to run longer distances than 100 yards at the most? I remember the first run I ever did when I went from Biloxi, Mississippi to Cheyenne, Wyoming twenty plus years ago; it was as if my lungs were no longer part of my cardio system. The body does not like the idea of trying to expend energy without the proper mix of fuel and oxygen.

Most places you investigate about how to deal with coming to elevation talk about coming early to acclimate yourself. Unless you have extra time, or could afford your own sleeping chamber, not really practical. Other things I have seen talk about taking iron and antioxidant supplement. This article shows that green tea extract which was shown to improve the body’s ability to deal with the lack of oxygen.

Fluids, get more

Another thing people forget is that the humidity is extremely low at elevation. Since most of the body’s loss of fluids happens via breathing, and you tend to breath a whole lot more while working out, you simply dehydrate faster and more extreme. Many people get headaches and attribute that to altitude sickness, however it most likely is simply dehydration and can be solved by drinking twice the normal amount of fluids. I know when I run at home elevation of nearly 7,000 feet I consume at least 2x the amount of fluids from when I run my races in Salt Lake City, which is 2,500-3,000 feet lower.

Run Slower Stupid

The facts are simply you will not perform as you do at lower elevation and trying puts yourself at risk of injury. Most people put 20-30 seconds per mile slower at least when you get over 5,000 feet and that is almost exactly what I see in the opposite direction. Even Ryan Hall in a blog entry talks about how pacing yourself, especially that first or second run, is extremely import to ensure you don’t have a harder time with recovery.

Dealing with Temps, it’s cold up here.

One thing that people forget is that the sun is a huge heating source, given the lack of atmosphere to attenuate it. This is why people get sun burned that first time on the ski slopes or hiking, as they don’t put on enough sunscreen given the elevation. The opposite is true when they go outside and feel warm in the sun, they don’t layer up enough for when they get into a shaded situation or clouds roll in. You layer up for the worst case, not for basking on the sundeck outside of the hotel room.

The key is layers to keep you warm and then to insulate you from the elements. My rule of thumb is 1 layer for ever 20 degree drop in ambient temperature below 52 degrees. So at 32 degrees I run with one layer more than a base layer, which is a wicking material to keep sweat off my skin. At 12 degrees I add another insulation layer on top of that, etc…and I don’t suggest running below -20 degrees. You get too cold and the air actually starts to injure your lungs and exposed tissue, especially the eyes and soft tissue in the nose/throat.

Also, make sure you cover up your extremities and wear a hat. The hands, toes and ears are all very susceptible to frost bite and when you are exercising, including skiing, you are sweating and making this more extreme. While running or biking, wear gloves and extra wicking layer of socks along with some decent warm ones. As for your ears, that depends on the hat. A good stocking cap that covers your ears will be good, or ear bands and a running hat for those who care about looks. Just keep all skin covered as best you can and realize that these parts of your body are what really are needing the layer.

Summary, be prepared

They key in all of this is to really come to the mountains and any higher elevation prepared, especially in the winter months. At the same time, be realistic on your exercise and if you are doing something competitive, know you won’t set a PR, but you will most likely set a personal favorite in the experience category. So if you layer up, hydrate properly and be reasonable, you can enjoy the beauty as well as the experience of running miles at over a mile high.

Long Cold Fall Funk

So I haven’t blogged in a while, for a few decent reasons such as travel, work, family, puppies, but mostly because I haven’t been running since I finished my last half marathon. The same excuses fall in line as to why, travel, work, family, puppies, but reality is that both are caused by flat out laziness. I think the fall season got to me, especially after concluding my goal of the year to do a half marathon. Hell, I even finished two instead of one.

I started blogging because I wanted to hold myself accountable and maybe, possibly help motivate someone else out there to jump on the bandwagon and get healthy. I guess when I got across that last finish line I sort of peaked and fizzled.

Another possibility is that being so far north in the mountains, the sun sets quite early and now it is dark when I wake up, dark when I get home, so the thought of running on the treadmill is just not calling me.

I need to find a way to get out of this funk though, so time to set up myself to fail another crazy ass goal. I thought about doing some triathlons, but picked the worst time to think about it, given the one planned as a family relay this weekend already is getting shuttered due to a snow storm that is now dropping a few inches, so the bicycle portions was killed off (mine). Sigh…

Odd thought…ever pay $11,900 for a pair of running shoes? epic fail.

goofy shoe

Last few runs have actually been pretty solid. Since I am not really focusing on any major distances, I have been really focusing on regaining some speed I used to have in my youth.

Last month during a trip to sea-level in Los Angeles, I managed two runs, with the first really being about pushing myself on speed since I was running 7,000 below normal.

Forgive the map and weirdness, I was trying a new application MapMyRun, which has a pace functionality I thought might help keep me on a new goal of 8:30 miles. We were staying at the Ritz at Marina Del Rey (company function, we usually stay at a more reasonable place, promise)

image 

When I took off, I really felt amazing, after a couple of short runs following my half, but I was flying for me. When I hit the first mile at 7:40 I about peed myself. I then hit the path along Venice Beach and was having a blast running along where I had seen so many movies, but it is much different at 6:30 am. I did see a lot of locals, but they were getting ready for the day, only two smoking their medicinal mary jane.

Mile 2 and mile 3 both when by at a similarly fast pace and I know I ran my first ever sub 25:00 5k, just hard to tell with this app. Mile 4 I started feeling the pace I was running and was also doing a Starbucks calculation from the one I saw at around mile 1. I knew that I could stop off and get me and the wife a coffee, trying out the new iPhone Passbook app. Awesome tool for runners, no need for a credit card or cash to pick up some java.

Since then I have run 4 other times in the past month, all averaging 2-3 miles and at paces around 8:30 – 9:00 minute miles. My goal is to keep this new pace as my baseline, rather than the 10:00 minute miles I accepted this past two years. I figure what I might lack in distance over the winter I can make up for in pushing my speed work.

Other goals are yet to come, but right now I am signed up for one half marathon in early June, but that just is too far out. My wife keeps joking that I will eventually add that marathon to the list, but I know how my body feels after 13.1 and doubling that is just not really something I am mentally ready for. If I do, the idea is to make it a destination marathon of either my home town in Iowa, Chicago (family there too) or Disney World (she loves there).

I am super proud of my family, who I think I motivated a bit, in that my wife finished her first ever 10k two weeks back at just under 60 minutes, which was her real goal. My younger daughter also finished her first ever 5k last month, so the house is full of runners. She has a tough mudder planned next year, we will leave her to that one, as I will happily do a full before I take on electrocution and ice water.

I hope to get back into running soon, focusing on weekend runs at first and then (ugh) back onto the treadmill or 1/11th mile track at the local rec center. Either way, I do hope to also blog more about what is happening here in Wyoming.