September 27, 2012

Saucony shoes and apparel at Dick's Sporting Goods

Specialty running stores are always a good place to find a selection of Saucony footwear... but Dick's Sporting Goods now carries a big lineup - most of their locations stock the Triumph, Hurricane, Guide, Ride, Kinvara, Peregrine, Exodus, as well as childrens' models.

There are several DSG locations are in the area: Salt Lake City (Gateway), Layton (Layton Hills Mall), and new locations just opened up in Midvale (Ft Union Family Center) and Orem.

We've visited these stores and found that the sales associates are very knowledgeable. The new store in Midvale has a treadmill where they'll be doing free gait analysis.

We're starting to see some Saucony apparel pop up in these stores as well, which is awesome - being that now that the days are getting shorter, its definitely ViZiPRO season!

Back to the Half

Back in early August I was planning on running two marathons this fall. But as I got closer to the TOU Marathon, I decided that would be my last marathon of the year. Since the TOU Marathon went really well, its been easy to stick to that "no more marathons in 2012" plan of action.

Recovery from the marathon has gone pretty well. I've taken the last 12 days easier than I ever have in the post-marathon timeframe. As I mentioned in the TOU Marathon race recap, my hamstring started giving me some problems around mile 15 of the race, and it took about a week before it felt normal again afterwards. I only ran (a generous word... more like slowly jogged) about 40 miles the week after the marathon, which was my lowest week in about 2 years.

Soon I'll gradually starting to build it back up, with a goal of peaking again around Thanksgiving (plus/minus one week). I've targeted two half-marathon races for that period - Big Sur Monterey Bay (11/18) and RnR Las Vegas (12/2). I feel like I have a couple good races left in me this year if I play my cards right, and those races (due to their very competitive nature) should give me a great opportunity to go after a half-marathon PR.

I'm looking forward to this last cycle of training for the year. I'm going to keep my mileage a lot lower than during marathon training, focus on very specific half-marathon workouts, and hopefully end this year on another high note. Its already been a big year of training/racing, so I have to take a smart approach into these last couple months. Nothing trumps staying healthy and consistent.

Big Sur Half Marathon

September 24, 2012

Diet Mountain Dew ICE CREAM?

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
- Michael Jordan

Well, I gave it a shot. I tried to combine the two best foods in the world. You can't help but wonder what will happen when you start pouring the nectar of the gods into your ice cream maker. The results were less than spectacular - edible, but not as good as Fun Munch Cookies and Cream, which is what I went for after 2 bites of this new creation. Diet Dew is still best served as a delicious, extreme beverage, while ice cream making should be left to the experts (ie. Kroger). At least now I won't have to live with the "what ifs" :-)

September 16, 2012

2012 Top of Utah Marathon

Final stretch of the TOU marathon!
Yesterday I won the Top of Utah marathon in 2:22:12. This was my 4th marathon and first time breaking the tape in first place - it felt good!

Below I've posted my recap and lots of photos... Here's some more links as well - Fast Running Blog race reportFull Results  - Herald Journal Newspaper Article (this is pretty good, they do a great job of covering local running races... although I'm not a professional despite what it says in there!) - Herald Journal Photos. My pre-race thoughts and plan for the rest of the year can be found in Friday's post.

OK - here's how the race played out...

Some crazy guy sprinted off the starting line like a madman, but that only lasted for about 30 seconds. Then I found myself in the lead with Jon Kotter (who I figured would be my primary competition) and Steve Shephard right beside me. Steve ran w/ us for about 3 miles, then it was just Jon and I for a long time. I wanted to come through the halfway point somewhere between 1:09 and 1:10. I figured that was fast enough to run a quick time if I felt great, but I wouldn't be risking a major blowup either. 

Running down the canyon was honestly pretty boring (like a well-run marathon should be in the early miles). I just tried to settle into a rhythm and run good tangents. It seemed like Jon was content to follow whatever pace I set. I could sense that his breathing was a little more labored than mine was, but he is a really, really tough racer and competitior - so I wasn't taking him lightly by any means. I had a race on my hands.

Splits until the halfway point were: 5:16, 5:15, 5:14, 5:10, 5:21, 5:17, 5:18, 5:13, 5:17, 5:26, 5:22, 5:12, 5:16. The half-marathon split was 1:09:14. Perfect.

We came out of the canyon and I saw Andrea for the first time just past 14 miles. She handed me a gatorade bottle, which was my first fluids of the race. Yeah, not ideal, but I blew through all the aid stations too fast and missed all the cups (not that I can drink out of them anyways). Andrea was all over the course - she wasn't allowed to bike w/ me, but she still got to 8 different locations over the last 12 miles and handed me drinks and words of encouragement everytime. As always, I owe a lot of my success in general to her support and influence, but today she also played the very specific and important role of keeping me somewhat hydrated. I didn't drink much in terms of quantity during the race, but the frequent sips in the later miles were enough to get me through.

Back to the race, miles 14-16 were 5:17, 5:19, 5:22. My right hamstring started to lock up a bit somewhere around 15 miles and that got me a bit worried because that could be a problem (ask Andrea, or Ryan Hall) if Jon made a move. I backed off the pace and bit tried to keep the effort level relaxed. The focus shifted more to racing than worrying about time at that point. I started to think about when I would make a move and decided I would wait for an opportunity on the upcoming hills. Miles 17 and 18 were 5:28, 5:28.

The police escort managed to not lead us off the course like they did to Paul last year, and a little past 18 miles we started to climb the big hill. Jon told me that he was tightening up and couldn't hold the pace anymore. I guess that's what happens when you run the Alta 8K the week before TOU :-) Jon is a great guy and awesome runner, and we slapped hands and wished each other the best. As I pulled away I told him that I hoped I didn't see him again until after the finish, but at no point over the next couple miles did I think the race was over... I was definitely worried that he might find a second wind and come back. So I tried to build a lead up the hills, running miles 19 and 20 in 5:36, 5:37, then back down mile 21 in 5:29.

As I went past the TOU 1/2 finish line in Providence, I thought about how much nicer it is to just run hard for a little over an hour. I could sense that although my pace was slowing down, my lead was also increasing. I went into "DON'T BLOW UP LIKE BOSTON AND PHILLY" mode (aka no miles over 6:00) as I wound my way into Logan. Miles 22-24 were 5:43, 5:46, 5:43.

Just after mile 24 Andrea yelled out "Hey! You're winning a marathon!" and it sort of hit me that I was going to win the race. I knew I wasn't going to fall apart if I maintained the same effort level, and while my hammy was tight, it was manageable as long as I didn't have to sprint.

Going up Main Street, I got a boost when my friend Adam's daughters were jumping up and down cheering "Go Jake Go Jake!" That put a huge smile on my face because they are pretty much the cutest girls ever. Miles 25 and 26 were 5:47 and 5:44. I felt like I could have gone to another gear, but I also just sort of wanted to cruise in and enjoy the victory.

I came around the corner and started to look for the moose. Earlier this week Andrea found a stuffed moose at DI and we had a plan that I would carry the moose across the finish line (like Meb K carried the flag at the trials/olympics) if I was winning (because TOU's logo is a moose). Well, I was winning so I wanted my moose! With about a tenth of a mile left I saw my friend James running towards me to the left of the finishing chute and he smoothly handed it off to me. It was a lot of fun crossing the line, breaking the tape, and pumping the moose in my hands. Everyone in the finishing area got a kick out of it. I was all smiles. Final time was 2:22:12.

I immediately got my hamstrings wrapped in ice (they are feeling OK now), then had fun watching everyone else come in. Lots of excellent races from several of my friends. It made me really happy to see a lot of them have good days. I couldn't believe how deep the women's race was, with the top 5 all breaking 3 hours (including Rachelle w/ a 2:58!!!).

I'm happy with the results today. Anytime you win a marathon, you can't really complain. There are some things I know I could have done differently in training this summer that would have made me stronger over the last 10 miles of the race, but I didn't want to make this a super hard training cycle. I wanted to put myself in position to win TOU and run a good time, which I did. I know I can go faster than 2:22, and I will. This wraps up a solid summer - 1:06:03, 15:17, and 2:22:12 in the past 3 weeks - I'll take that.

Some quick additional bullet points I want to get down...

-I took about one-third of a gel during the entire race. I opened 2 packets but really didn't want much of either. I know I need to get better at this in the future. Andrea thinks that part of the reason I fade at the end of marathons is due to lack of calories (both at breakfast and during the race itself), and I agree with her. But for today, I was willing to take my chances and not risk upsetting my stomach. That's why I love the half-marathon, you don't have to worry about that kind of stuff at all.
-Weather was cool and perfect. That's primary reason I was able to get away without drinking much. In the two warmer and/or humid marathons I've run, staying hydrated has been a challenge. 
-I'm not really a great downhill runner. But that's OK. The big ones in the future are going to be on flat courses anyways.
-I am extremely fortunate and lucky to have such an amazing support system and group of friends in Utah. Thank you everyone for all the positive thoughts and encouragement!!!
-The Fastwitch 6 is an amazing shoe. No feet issues at all. In fact, I didn't even feel the need to take my shoes off afterwards, and we walked around for quite a while.
-Moose trophy = awesome!!! 

The start
Jon (#3) and I right before the start
Mile 14
~16.5 miles into the race
Around 19.5 miles when I started to break away
Crossing the line w/ the moose!

With Allie and Rachelle - who finished 3rd and 5th, respectively
Top 5 men
In addition to this moose trophy, I took home a cool $1500 for winning this race

When they give you bib #1, you have to perform up to that level!

September 15, 2012

Top of Utah Marathon Quick Results

I won the TOU Marathon in 2:22:12 this morning. It was a lot of fun to break the tape (and carry a stuffed moose across the finish line). Full race recap and lots more photos tomorrow...

September 14, 2012

Pre-TOU Marathon Thoughts

Tomorrow is the Top of Utah Marathon. I like to put down some thoughts the day before big race while things are still objective in my head. This is essentially the same thing I posted on my training log this morning.

I'm taking a break (of unknown duration) from 26.2 after the race tomorrow. This will be my 4th marathon in 15 months - not a crazy amount by any means (especially considering how quickly I can recover), but I don't need to run another one later this fall. If I run fast, I'll want to run another marathon to legitimize the performance on a flat course... and if I bomb again, I'll want to redeem myself. So no matter what I know there is a part of me that's going to want to jump right back into marathon training... I'm better off just saying I'm NOT running another marathon this year and then I'm publicly accountable :-)

Around the beginning of August I got on the CIM bandwagon and starting looking past TOU for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn't really know if I'd round into shape to run fast by mid-September and didn't want to force the issue, and 2) At the time it seemed like Andrea was back on track for a late fall marathon, and I thought it would be fun to train for the same thing as her (like we did last year). Well, she is obviously not running a marathon anytime soon, and my fitness (which was always there but just needed some fine-tuning) has transformed into solid racing form over the past 5-6 weeks. I feel confident about my ability to run a good marathon tomorrow, despite my somewhat unstructured approach to training this summer.

This was a different marathon buildup than the last couple - big(ger) mileage weeks, no shorter interval work (I haven't done a track workout in over 3 months), slower tempo runs... honestly it didn't feel like the "grind it out" hard work that marathon training can be (it was actually laid back and pretty fun, which is really what I was after)... but the results from the past couple races show that I'm not too far off my best performances in the 5K/Half-Marathon range than I am when doing the workouts that are specific to those races. I believe that training is largely cumulative - I've been very consistent for a long time now, and the work I put in leading up to Boston and Portland/Duluth had a long-term benefit that I can still tap into. Training cycles build on each other. I may not be as fast over one-mile as I was in June, but I don't think it will come down to that. Maybe I'm being overconfident, but I feel like I'm as ready to race the marathon as I ever have been in the past.

I'm excited to run tomorrow and see what I can do. The last two marathons I've run have ended somewhere between very bad (Boston) and very, very bad (Philly)... so I'm hoping I can prevent that from happening again and race all the way, like I did at UVM last June (back when I thought the marathon was easy).

Assuming I don't get trampled by a moose or elk, after this marathon I'll shift my focus back to the half for the rest of the year - Monterey Bay and RnR Vegas will be good opportunites to go after a 1/2 PR on fair courses. I want to wait and see what USATF announces as the new OTQ standards, qualifying window, and site of the 2013 USA Championships before I start thinking about when my next marathon will be. If I'm smart (and more importantly - we get lots of powder days this winter!!!) I won't even think about the marathon again until next fall. There are a lot of other races I want to run in the meantime.

Not that the numbers really mean anything (and they definitely are not a performance predictor), but I have a spreadsheet that makes cool graphs that are nice to look at, especially when looking back at this stuff down the road. These are some comparisons of the buildups towards all four marathons...

Total Miles (11 weeks leading up to marathon)

"Fast" miles (Marathon effort or faster)

Week by Week

I think the most interesting thing about this, looking back, is that I was really hammering out a ton of quality workouts leading up to Boston. This buildup has been more similar to UVM, where I just built a huge aerobic base and then sharpened up with some races over the last month.

In terms of objectives for tomorrow... my goal is to win the race. My "plan" is to run by feel (no real target splits I sort of know what range I should be in at the halfway point) and finish this one with authority.

I saw this quote earlier in the week and I think its fitting...

"If you live cautiously, friends will call you wise, you just won't move any mountains"

I like to make these "big picture" calendars to look at training cycles. This is what it looked like this summer...

September 12, 2012

Injury Pains

This post was written by Andrea...
2012 seems to be my year of injuries. As if right on cue to the new year, I developed forefoot pain that bothered me from January until the beginning of March. I was able to train successfully from then until April, but then I re-aggravated a distal hamstring strain during an interval workout. I decided to train through it until the Half Marathon Championships in June. After that, I slowly ramped my training back up. I finally got my mileage back up... only to begin experiencing hip pain in July. I decided to take more time off..

...and here we are now - its September and I've hardly run in the past month. The hip pain got worse over the next six weeks. In that time, I tried ART, physical therapy, and a round of oral corticosteroids with no relief from the hip pain. Just last week, I got MRIs of both my hip and my spine. Results = inconclusive. A little displacement in a nerve in the spine area, a little unusual labral characteristics, but nothing that couldn't show up as a false positive on someone that was 100% healthy and asymptomatic as well.

One of the most frustrating things about an injury is not knowing: 1) the root cause of the pain, and 2) how to recover from/fix it. I was given the go-ahead to exercise again as long as it didn't cause the pain to get worse.

So this week I started running/cross training a little more. The hip pain actually seems to be getting better with exercise... but at a cost. The biceps femoris muscle of the hamstrings, from the distal attachment to the short head, is painful when I run. So the million dollar questions - are the two injuries related? Is one causing the other? Are the problems I am experiencing coming from a completely different source? Could all this be related to the chronic back pain I had up until May of this year?

It is so hard for me to be injured. I like to be as active as possible, whether it be running, hiking, skiing, cycling, etc. I'm trying to stay positive with all of this, but I NEED my exercise to keep me sane, to relieve stress, to clear my mind, and to feel like I've accomplished something every day.

I'm at the point now where I just want to be healthy again. Forget about training for a specific race, forget about high mileage and tempo runs. I would be perfectly content to get up every morning and go for an easy 30 minute run and be able to have fun adventures. For a while, at least :-)

September 9, 2012

Layton Classic 5K (then a weekend in the mountains)

2 mile mark of the Layton Classic 5K
As always, I ran a shorter tune-up race on Saturday, a week before the marathon. I decided to head up to Layton for the Classic 5K and that was a great choice - its a very well organized race on a honest course - some rolling hills at altitude made it a good test. I didn't have anyone to push me and won easily, so I was happy to run 15:17 and feel pretty good doing that. You can read a more detailed race report on my running log - Layton Classic 5K Race Recap.

After the race we headed up to Alta, went for a hike, hung out with friend at the post-Peruvian Dash BBQ, then spent the night at the Peruvian Lodge. It was fun to get up in the mountains... the weather is beautiful right now.

Andrea is on the mend and starting to run a little bit more - its been great to have her company and run with her again the past couple days. She'll have an update on the blog in the upcoming week.

Less than a week until the TOU Marathon - Guess its taper time... 

About 1/4 of a mile into the race
2 mile mark
Approaching the finish line
Hiking up at Alta
Andrea hanging out at Cecret Lake

We spent the night at the Peruvian Lodge - what a great location!
We spent a lot of time in this hot tub over the weekend
We had the Peruvian Lodge pretty much all to ourselves
Oktoberfest at Snowbird
Last year we went up here for Oktoberfest with my Dad and took a tram ride
Andrea being awesome as usual
The last major order of business for the weekend was to melt a bunch of chocolate and dip stuff in it!