Another lesson learned the hard way

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     Lately I haven’t been getting everything done that I want to. Sure, things come up for everyone, especially parents, but my biggest time consumption has been reading online. I’ve been reading articles from Runners World, some of my favorite blogs, like DizRuns, rUnladylike, Big Goofy Runner, and Shiawase Life. I also find web-based articles, follow twitter links, and have read You CAN Go the Distance by Bruce Van Horn this week. Why am I reading so much? I’m trying to learn as much as I can about running, training, racing, and all of the nuances that accompany these things. I’d rather hear about the experience, the mistakes, and lessons learned than to make the mistake myself. In turn, I am hoping that my mistakes might help someone else become a smarter runner without having to suffer the same way.

      Case and point: Over the past week I have totaled just over 10 miles plus 30 minutes on the spin bike. My plan calls for me to be between 40 and 45 miles per week as I ramp up the miles during marathon training. Why the slacking? Two weeks ago I did my first 18 mile training run and it felt great. I got a new pair of running shoes and put them to the test right away. Since this is the first pair of shoes that I’ve gotten since I’ve started doing actual “long runs” I didn’t see any issue with it. Now I do.

     I did not give my feet a chance to get used to the shoes or the shoes a chance to get used to my feet. With the insole padding being different than my current shoes, I actually hurt my foot because of the cushioning. The outside edge of the padding is raised just a little, but that little bit is severely magnified when multiplied by the number of steps in 18 miles. To make things worse, the shoes that I wear to work needed to be replaced long ago and the shoes that I wear when not running are ones that I used to run in. I just couldn’t see throwing away shoes that were only 3-4 months old. Honestly, I’m still getting used to the idea of wearing out shoes on the inside while the soles are still intact. 

    It took me better than a week and discussions with several people, but I finally figured out that the long run was only the start of the problem. I bought new work shoes and changed my out-of-work shoes as well. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! My foot is back to feeling right so I should be out there again soon. This not running thing really sucks!

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Race Recap: Stone Island 10k

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     Has it really only been six weeks since my last race? Somehow it feels more like six months. Needless to say I was really looking forward to the Stone Island 10k as well as the start of the Final Mile Fall Grand Prix racing series. 

Stone Island 10k start

And we’re off!

    Right as the sun was coming up the 5k race started with only 99 runners. The 10k started a few minutes later with a field of 278. I’m guessing it’s the summer heat that was keeping the crowd smaller. Again, this is my first year of running, but the races I ran in the winter and spring had a lot more participants. We’ll see as the 4-race series goes on. My goals going into the race were to PR (beat 50:55), go sub-50, and, if everything went right, to go after 48 minutes.

     The first half-mile was pretty typical for me: forget the plan of the race and just go! Yeah, I went out too fast. Some lessons need to be learned more than 12 times. I am getting better though. At the 15k race that I did in April it took me over two miles to actually slow down and for this one it was only a half mile. I did that first half mile in about 3:15 while my plan was 8:15 for the first mile. By the end of mile 1 I had been on the course for 7:24, but my slower pace since the 3:15 mark was good for my plan and I managed to keep it pretty well. Miles 2-4 went in 7:47, 7:46, and 7:51. I got a little concerned when I passed the 4-mile sign because the GPS on my MapMyRun app said 4.2 miles. Maybe I was going too slow. At the same time I felt like I was running on empty already. Not only was I concerned, now I was confused. The other mile markers were right even with my app. What happened?

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line!

     When I hit mile 5 I had one of my questions answered. My app and the course marker were just about even once again. Apparently someone had put the sign for mile 4 in the wrong place. I heard a few others commenting about this after the race as well. Still, I felt like it was time for a walk break. I couldn’t believe that I was gassed already. Somehow I kept my pace and held on. Miles 5 and 6 were each done in 7:58, and then I forced a finishing kick (7:11 pace) for the last 0.2 and came in with 49:13 and a new PR. That was good for 27th overall and 4th in my age group. The gentleman pictured just behind me above…. yeah he came in 3rd in my age group. He crossed the start line 10 seconds after I did. When they hand out awards for the top 3 in each age group, 4th really sucks! But 4th is also a motivator. Lesson learned: stick to your plan and have enough left at the end.

Still need to work on the smile!

Still need to work on the smile!

Stone Island 10k finisher medal

Stone Island 10k finisher medal

     A big thanks to Final Mile Race Management. This is my third race with them and they always do a great job! Also thanks to the Swamp House for the free beer, Dunkin Donuts, and all of the volunteers that made the race a success. 

Hydrating for most of your runs

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    Proper hydration is nothing new for most runners. All it takes is one story or experience involving dehydration and the lessen is ingrained. Most race directors will ensure that water, at a minimum, is available both during and after races longer than 5k. Many runners also make use of hydration belts, hand-held water bottles, or CamelPaks during races to suit their style and have better control over hydration needs. So, that pretty much covers it right?

    If you’re anything like me that hardly solves the problem. There are how many long training runs between races? How many race volunteers are ready to greet you at 6am on a Saturday morning after you make your first of five three-mile loops around the neighborhood? What if you’re out for a 20-mile training run? Should you attempt to start your run with a gallon of water and a quart of Gatorade? Probably not. So now what?

Fitletic Hydration Belt

Fitletic Hydration Belt

     I have come up with a solution, though I realize that it won’t work for everyone. However, it should be something that you can add your own tweaks to in order to devise your own solution. When I head out for a long run (13.1 or more) I run a loop of 6.55 miles. Two loops for a half and four for 26.2. With the starting/ending point for each loop being at my driveway, the obvious answer was to make use of the mailbox. I start with the hydration belt stocked with a water and a Gatorade and then put backup bottles in the mailbox for a quick, easy exchange when I loop around. If needed I can also throw some extra nutrition, snacks, and even a 32-ounce water bottle in the mailbox to allow for unusual needs along my run.

     The best part of this technique is that even the last bottle I grab is still cold. We can all agree that cold fluids just hit the spot better than warm water, right? But how? 

Bottle

Bottle half filled with Gatorade

     With a little planning it’s simple. The night before my run I fill two bottles halfway (one water, one Gatorade), and the rest to 3/4 full. Then I stick them in the freezer overnight. Just before I head out on my run I take them out and top them off. The two that started half full go in the belt and the rest go in the mailbox. After about 20 minutes of running there is just a small portion of ice left and it’s quite easy to drink as needed. After a loop I just stop at the mailbox, bottles in hand, and toss the old ones in and take the next set out. Just a few seconds and I am ready for another loop, and I have ice cold refreshment. You may need to adjust the amount that you put in the freezer depending on the weather, but this method works well in mid to upper 70’s (5am temps) in August in Central Florida.

Has this been a struggle for you as well? Have you found any other tricks that work for hydration during training runs? 

What lies ahead

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Running is an activity that many people can enjoy on a regular basis without ever getting competitive. Some don’t worry about how fast they are going or how far they have run. Some have no intention of entering a race because it’s just not for them. Someday I hope to meet one of those people because I’m not one of them. I am competitive, competing against myself and anyone else who is running at the time. I keep track of my workouts, my races, my PR’s, what worked and what didn’t all in an effort to get better, faster, longer, and stronger. Races provide me the opportunity to check my progress, and honestly, if I had the money I would run more races than I do. It’s the competitive atmosphere. In many cases it’s also an opportunity to raise money or awareness for a good cause.

The race calendar in Central Florida is different from many areas of the country in that there are very few races to choose from during the summer months. From late May to early September there is not a temperature reading below 70. Ever. This makes training for fall races more challenging, but I’ve been told that once the cooler temps hit I will notice speed and endurance that I didn’t know I had. That would be awesome as I have a full calendar and some lofty goals.

7day

The continuous summer forecast

What does my fall calendar look like? Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Final Mile Grand Prix Series for fall 2014. There are four races in this series including two 5k’s, a 10k, and a half marathon. Each of the races benefits a different local cause and the half marathon actually loops around a lighthouse in Volusia County, FL.
  • Three more RunDisney races: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-miler, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k, and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.
  • My first full marathon! I will be running the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, FL. This flat marathon course is a great Boston Qualifier located just a few miles south of NASA’s complex. Runners are rewarded with Space Shuttle medals upon completion.
Space Coast Marathon Medal

Space Coast Marathon “Challenger” Medal Courtesy of spacecoastmarathon.com

I also have three more half marathons in December. All together these races lead me to my ultimate goal in January, the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dopey Challenge, it consists on running a 5k on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. These runs take you through and around all four Disney theme parks plus ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex. For me, this is the ultimate competitive challenge. It’s me against me in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite characters cheering me on and posing for pictures, while I’m on the course.

This is why I am training so hard. I have been running now for nine months. Way back then I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. Every race is a challenge that I have accepted. Every race is a chance for me to get closer to my goals. I may be too competitive for some, but I know that in order for me to reach my goals I have to handle the competition. Namely myself.

If you’d like to see my full calendar, please visit my Gametiime page. And if you have a Gametiime profile, by all means, add me to your friends list and I’ll follow back!

What races do you have coming up? Are you training for a new distance?

Another month in training

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     If you are happy that the summer running season is in full swing then you probably don’t live in Florida. It’s OK though, the heat and humidity will be gone in another 3-plus months so no need to feel sorry for us. Seriously though, this is my first summer running and I’ve been told that if I keep doing the long runs, tempo runs, and speed sessions that I will see the difference once the weather cools off. The purpose of this post is to show that I have continued to do the work throughout the month of July and am ready to do even more in August.

     The month of July included 25 running days, 2 days on the elliptical, and two days on the spin bike. Two of the running days were races: The Celebration 5k in Palm Coast, FL (23:13) and the Suck It Up Buttercup 10k in Deland, FL (50:55). Both races were new PRs and the 10k resulted in a first place in my age group!

Buttercup award

Yes, that’s a cowbell trophy!

     My total running miles for the month were 132, bringing me to 758 for 2014. My objective for the month was to get a good mix of paces with my runs, and to stretch my longer runs. I only stretched my longest run by about a mile (to 14.33), but I stayed with my training plan. The big surprise was getting my fastest mile ever at 6:49 – I had never broken 7 minutes. Overall I am labeling July as successful. On to bigger and better in August.

     August brings a number of challenges. I only have one race on the calendar: On the 23rd I’ll be running the Stone Island 10k as the first leg of the Final Mile Grand Prix Racing Series. I’ve never taken part in a racing series so this should be exciting. I’m also planning on running my first 16 and 18-mile training runs in August as I continue to prepare for my first marathon. In addition, I will be taking part in two 30-day challenges: A #runstreak challenge and a 30-day plank challenge. 

     OK, I realize that this isn’t the most exciting post. Sorry, I am a numbers kinda guy more than I am an entertainer! I will be keeping the training summaries to once a month. My next post will provide some insight as to where I will be making all of this training pay off: The races I have on my calendar. If you’d like to get a sneak peak at some of them, or see the races that I have already completed feel free to take a look at my calendar at http://gametiime.com/rilla6969 As always, comments are welcome both here and at my Gametiime profile.

     Until next time, keep on running!