Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Free Pizza

Pizza is my favorite food and my top junk food weakness.  It doesn't help that it's probably one of the worst foods in the world for you.  When I first moved here, Mary and I would celebrate Pizza Monday every signal Monday.  On Monday's you could buy a large Domino's pizza for $5, every Monday.  After the weight started climbing, we decided to cut it down to about once a month and then Domino's had to go ahead and change their recipe which resulted in above average pizza turning into crappy pizza.
Is this part of their new recipe?

We've both always been Papa John's fans.  Sure, it's not as good as Jet's (best in Sumner County) or even on par with Sam's Club (most underrated pizza) but Papa John's hits the spot and they usually will run pretty good deals from time-to-time.

Can't beat Jets! Be sure to order Turbo Crust.

Right now, they are running a promotion where if you pick the correct result of the Super Bowl toss, you will get a free one-topping pizza.  When it comes to coin tosses, I always pick "tails", so I submitted my prediction.  I spoke on behalf of Mary and had her choose "heads." You have to enter by Super Bowl Eve, so be sure to make your prediction.  And it's even more helpful if you have a friend/significant other who has an opposing view.


I'm just glad Papa John found a bunch of extra dough (pun intended) because he went from planning to increase the pizza price, due to not having enough money to pay for insurance for his employees, to being able to give away millions of free pizzas with several promotions over the last few months.  What a stroke of luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

Another late movie post.  But unfortunately, I've been down with the flu for the past couple of days, which has left me useless.  I went from not having the flu for like eight or nine years, to having it twice in under one year. At least it happened to me after the marathon!

Flu Symptoms

This week's pick is Buried.  I had my eye on this movie for quite a while but wasn't sure how it would be.  Having a movie that takes place almost entirely in a coffin doesn't excite me very much, especially since I'm terrified of being buried alive (but not as much as being steam-rolled to death or lost at sea, alone and without a boat.  I have a nightmare about it at least once every couple of months).  But Phone Booth took place mostly in a phone booth (original title) and it was actually a pretty decent movie, so I decided to give Buried a chance.

Buried's budget was only just under two million bucks. But as I mentioned, it takes place mostly in a coffin.  It stars Ryan Reynolds, who portrays an American civilian truck driver, based in Iraq.  He wakes up to realize he is in a coffin, underground, bound-and-gagged with only a lighter and cell phone. Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the ground. The only thing he can remember about the situation is that his convoy was attacked by a bunch of insurgents, with many of his co-workers being killed during the attack.

The cell phone goes off and it's the kidnappers demanding $5 million or else he will be left to die.  He doesn't know who to turn to, so he calls the State Department who says they don't negotiate with terrorists.  He then calls the Hostage Working Group who tell them they are looking for him.  The kidnappers call back, ask him to make a hostage video and then it only gets worse from there.  The plot is simple but I found myself emotionally attached to the movie.  He knows he may not get out, so he does his best to call whoever he thinks can help him and also tries to get in contact with his family, knowing it could be the last time he ever gets a chance to talk to them. It's one of those films that stick with you long after it's over and is definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 21st-27th Training

Monday: 5.4 miles (6:32); 9.3 miles (7:45)

Tuesday: 11.6 miles with 11 miles medium@5:36.  Was a little rusty at first but felt really good by the end.  Right before the turnaround, I saw man run out of his trailer and start puking off his porch.  When I passed him again, he was blowing out snot/puke rockets and yelled "honey, I ain't taking no more medicine!" Who needs to train in Flagstaff or Boulder when you get to see stuff like this?; 6.2 miles with 10x.15 miles with .35 recovery.  Ran these as glorified strides and to get in some faster turnover on some tired legs, without causing too much stress.  Legs felt really slow at first but felt really good by the end.  Started out in the 4:40s and worked down to sub 4:20 with a 4:30 or so average for the fast ones.

Wednesday: 10.4 miles (6:26)

Thursday: 4 miles (6:19); 6.4 miles (6:54) with 4xhill blasts

Friday: 7.5 miles (6:44); 3.4 miles (7:33)

Saturday: 4 miles (7:14); 8.1 miles with 5k in 15:12.  Ran a little harder than AT effort.  I feel like this course is about 20s short or so but it is so insanely twisty, it is as "fast" as a legit course.  From about 1.25-3 miles, you are constantly making sharp turns, going up or down, etc.  During that time there's hardly any stretches for more than 5-10 seconds where you are running straight.  Was happy with how my legs felt.  Ran 16:18 here last year and 15:51 the year prior.

Sunday: 20.1 miles (6:06).  Really good run and was already running 6:15s a few miles in, so I made myself relax.  With Boston potentially on the agenda, I've decided to start running downhills a little harder to get my legs more ready.  For my long runs, I'll usually run The Boomer and then St. Blaise but I swip-swapped it so I can finish running down Saundersville, which is mostly downhill but has some climbs as well.  I feel that will replicate Boston pretty well.  Ran in the upper 5:30s for the last two miles.

Week Total: 96.4 miles. Pretty decent week and feel a ton better than last week.  I'm really pleased with my recovery and I'm surprised I've been running my easy days as quickly as I have been.  I think a large part of that is my reduction in mileage and intensity.  If you are training very hard, you have to slam on the brakes on the easy days.  I should finalize Boston as soon as I hear back from someone.  If it works out, I'll add in some intensity next week.  If not, I'll just keep it easy for a few weeks.  Also put on about four pounds since the marathon and am getting my off-season pooch in already.  Ate the rest of the ice cream and Teddy Grahams so they would be out of the house (good logic there)

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 London Mens Marathon Fields

Insane Field! 
Elite MenPersonal Best
Patrick Makau (Kenya)2:03:38- World Record Holder
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya)2:03:42
Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya)2:04:15-2:03:02 at Boston
Ayele Abshero (Ethiopia)2:04:23
Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia)2:04:38
Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya)2:04:40- London Record
Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia)2:04:52
Stanley Biwott (Kenya)2:05:12
Martin Lel (Kenya)2:05:15
Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia)2:05:42
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil)2:06:34
Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda)2:07:20- Won 2012 Olympics
Yared Asmeron (Eritrea)2:07:27
Adil Annani (Morocco)2:07:43
Marcin Chabowski (Poland)2:10:07
Bunta Kuroki (Japan)2.10.08

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Norovirus

Runner or not, the norovirus can put you on your butt.  Who doesn't want a day full of puking and coming out the other end a well?  I was the lucky recipient of this about a month ago and even though I was in bed for only a day, I felt pretty run down for a few days afterward.  Here's an interesting read from National Geographic about the Norovirus.  I learned the bug is a lot more hardcore than I thought and it's crazy how contagious it is.  Heck, Mary's mom had it, gave it to Kate, the next day Mary got it and being the loyal husband I am, I slept by her side and woke up puking the next morning.  This baby will jack you up and the article makes it sound like it has an evil mind of its own.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

In order to stay true to the wide variety of films I suggest, I'm going with another documentary, Man on Wire.  It's not as cool and action-packed as Man on Fire, but it's still a pretty cool flick, and that's coming from someone who doesn't like most documentaries. 

Man on Wire is about Phillipe Petit's 1974 highwire walk between the Twin Towers, 1,350 feet in the air.  Phillipe is one of the rare brave Frenchmen, who is wire-walker, magician, unicyclist and street performer.  Talk about a renaissance man!  He was sitting in a dentist's office when he saw a drawing of the proposed towers and knew he was destined to conquer them.  As someone who is terrified of heights, how in the world did he pull that off?  And not only did he pull it off but he went back and forth eight times.  Unfortunately, the walk was illegal and he was arrested.  The man is always trying to bring you down. 

Man on Wire

The movie shows old "training" footage as Phillipe prepares for his walk, along with photographs of the walk, reenactments and present-day interviews with the participants.  It can get boring at times but overall, it's a really cool story and is opens your eyes to how crazy/brave this guy really was. 

January 14th-20th Training

Monday: No Running.  Left IT band/vastus lateralis is really painful.  Doesn't feel like marathon soreness, just an insane muscle knot.  Hurts whenever the quad flexes.  Upstairs pain is no different than downstairs pain

Tuesday: No Running

Wednesday: 6.7 miles (7:04)

Thursday: 6.1 miles easy

Friday: 3 miles easy; 7 miles easy

Saturday: 17.1 miles (6:38) with 9.72 miles (6:12).  Ran with three people I've never run with before: Daniel Lepage (former Tulsa runner), Jeanette Faber (2:32 marathoner who just moved here) and Lanni Marchant (2:31 marathoner I met in Houston, who is in town visiting her boyfriend most weekends).  Felt really good and smooth.

Sunday: 9.4 miles (6:36)

Week Total=49.3 miles.  Other than the quad pain, recovery went great.  Not sure what which direction I will take training wise.  I'm leaning towards running the Boston Marathon but it's not the most logical choice.

Houston Marathon

After months of hard work, I was really looking forward and relieved, that it was time to head to Houston.  I ended up switching my flight to Friday so I could sleep in on Saturday.  I left school, headed home to pack and was on my way.

As usual, I left a little bit later than I wanted. I got to the airport about 45 minutes before my flight, but unfortunately, the security line was HUGE.  After waiting in line for a while, and seeing that it was 5:00 (with a departure time of 5:20) with several dozen people ahead of me, I felt I would miss me flight for sure.  To make matters worse, it was Southwest's last flight of the day to Houston.  Luckily, fate was on my side, as they opened up a new line, starting with my row.  I got through the checkpoint a few minutes after 5:00, hauled butt to my terminal (which was at the back of the airport) and barely made it in time. 

I had a direct flight to Houston, which was a pretty short flight. I brought my laptop with me on the plane so I could knock out a couple of episodes of The Wire.  But I was an idiot and brought my broken headphones, which meant I had to watch it with subtitles.  If you've seen the show, you know it's just not the same.

In honor of one of my favorite characters on The Wire

Eventually, I landed in Houston, went to get my bag and was on my way.  I've never had to get a taxi before.  Well, technically I did in Kenya and managed to get lost and ride around everywhere.  Somehow, it only cost me four bucks.  But when it comes to getting a taxi in the airport, I had no idea what I was doing.  I saw a huge line outside and tried to get in one but they told me I had to go to the front of line.  Who knew?

Thirty-six bucks later, I was at my hotel, the Hilton's of America.  The taxi driver must have thought I looked like a skinny dork because he knew I was a runner as he asked who the tough competition would be.  But it was dark and he may have not had a good view. However, the lady behind the hotel desk had a much better view obviously, as she asked if I was in the air force.  Must have been the muscles popping out.  

My roommate for the race was 2:05 marathoner, Wilson Erupe.  When I got to the room, he wasn't there. So I hung out so he wouldn't come in the room and see a bunch of random crap everywhere.  He lives in Iten, Kenya and his English was really limited, so we communicated the best we could.  He did tell me several times on Saturday that "tomorrow, we kill the people" and started running in place.  He was in bed a little bit after 8:00pm, which was perfect because I had a pretty bad headache and wanted to sleep as well.  After a phone call to the wife and a couple of Benadryl, I was out to the world.

After waking up, I tried to figure out when Wilson was running, so I could hopefully tag-along.  It's not everyday you get to run with a 2:05 marathoner and he would have been the fastest guy I've ever gone on a run with.  I'm not sure who takes the title before that, maybe 3:36 1500m runner, Jason Lunn, from the Hawaii race a few years ago? 

I was wanting to run around four miles with a few short pick-ups to wake my legs up and get them loose for the race the next morning.  We ran what had to be close to nine minutes for the first mile and then he started accelerating.  After running a mile at well under 6:00 pace, I let him go so I could do my own thing.  I jogged around for about 15 more minutes, threw in some short, quick spurts and then headed back to the room.  

Once Wilson got back, we headed to breakfast.  They had a special room set aside that was always stocked with food.  I ended up getting this huge, gooey cinnamon roll, what was probably the best croissant of my life and drunk some Gatorade.  New York City Marathon winner and Olympic Silver Medalist, Meb Keflezghi, was also in there, which was cool.  But I don't like to bug people like that, so I just let him be.  By the end of the weekend, I felt like he was stalking me because I saw him another 10+ times.  He was supposed to run the half-marathon but came down with the flu a couple weeks prior, and wasn't feeling ready to race.


I was planning on walking around a bit but I just bummed around the hotel until lunch, which was a turkey sandwich, some chips, Gatorade and a huge sugar cookie.  I didn't have anywhere to be until the athlete meeting at 2:00pm, so I knocked out a couple of Wire episodes, wasted time on the internet and then prepped my fuel bottles.  I planned on taking four of them during the race (every 5ish miles or so) but made a couple of more, just in case I missed them.  I decided to jazz them up a good bit so they would be easy to see as I approached the tables during the race.  My friend, Jake Krong, suggested orange duct tape, but since I didn't have any of that, I covered each bottle in yellow floor tape and then  put a bunch of black polka-dots on them with a Sharpie.  Yeah, it may have looked fruity but I didn't care.

After the athletes meeting, I got my race gear, which was pretty cool.  They gave us mini-backpacks, with the race shirt, hat and our bib numbers.  All of the other guys in the elite field had their last names on the front of their bib but since I was a late entrant, I had to settle for just number 21.  I then turned in my fuel bottles and ended up signing up for a free 20 minute massage.  I got one for an hour (well, really like 50 minutes, those scammers) Thursday afternoon at Massage Envy but the lady wasn't that great and I should have trusted my instincts and gone to Julianna in Nashville.  But since I was still feeling pretty tight, especially my right hamstring, I figure another one would do me good.  The guy was pretty decent and I felt better afterward.

I should just cough up the dough and buy one of these

After a quick shower to wipe off all that massage oil crap, I headed down for dinner, which was held in some ballroom.  I got some spaghetti, some huge meatballs and several breadsticks.  I saw my old college competitor, Mario Fraioli there.  He wasn't running but he coaches a lot of casual to elite runners and one of his guys was running the marathon.  He was eating with his marathoner, so I didn't want to intrude.  He's really gone far with his writing and went from a guy who wrote the occasional article for Running Times, to writing for several publications, future author and is also a senior editor for Competitor.  I ended up sitting beside a guy who was wearing some Saucony stuff, as I figured we would have some natural camaraderie.  His name was Martin Williams and he was a really cool guy but what made him even more cool was that he and his wife live in England, so they had English accents.  We talked a bit about race strategy, training and how we enjoy life with a toddler.

I planned on heading to bed early but I was a little bit antsy.  Strikeforce was also having a show and they had some good match-ups, so I headed down to the library to watch it on my laptop (the internet is free in the lobby but $14.95 in your room.  I ain't no baller.).  After seeing Gegard Mousassi submit Mike Kyle, I headed up to my room.  There were still three fights left, but with a 4:30am wake-up time, I needed to head to bed.

All week long, I was paranoid about the weather.  A couple of days before, it looked like it would be really windy, with some potential rain showers.  After waking up, I checked the weather and it looked like the winds were only 12 mph, the rain would probably dodge us and temps would be in the high 40s.  Not ideal, but Boston (80+ degrees), New York (cancelled) and CIM (rainstorms and insane world) would all agree it could be much worse.

CIM picture from this year

I headed up to the athlete room for some breakfast. I like to stick to simple, easy to digest carbs when I'm within 24 hours of a race, especially the morning of.  The last thing I want is some whole grain stuff hanging out in my stomach.  With that in mind, I opted for Pop-Tarts, a bowl of Fruit Loops and a bottle of Cool Blue Gatorade.  Plenty of carbs, with enough calories to keep me satisfied.

I checked the weather again and oh snap, it looked worse.  Winds were now 22mph with gusts up to 30mph and rain on the way.  I was pretty bummed because wind that strong is pretty significant and definitely slows things down.  I then debated what to race in.  Since my Saucony deal ended on December 31st and I don't find out if I'm renewed until late February, technically, I can race in anything.  But the Grid Type A5's are my favorite flat, so choosing those was a no-brainer.  I packed two different racing uniforms.  One was my regular Saucony outfit and the other one was my "bad weather" uniform, with some Tennessee flavor: long sleeve Camouflage Under-Armour (well, Walmart brand, technically), with the sleeves cut off and Vizipro Orange Saucony arm sleeves.  I felt the camo would hold much less water than my Saucony singlet but if it didn't rain, I felt the singlet would be a much better choice.  I followed the advice of Malcolm Gladwell and went with my first instinct by choosing the Saucony stuff.

We had to meet in some lobby area at 6:00am, so we could be escorted to the start at 6:30am.  I ran into Martin, talked with him a bit and then did some light jogging up-and-down down the really long hallway for a few minutes.  It was a little earlier than I wanted to start my warm-up, but I felt running inside was much better than heading outside in the cold, wind and rain.

Finally, it was time to go.  I grabbed a poncho and pair of gloves that were offered and we were on our way to the start.  It was a bit of sad walk because instead of walking out, ready to run a really fast time, I knew my fast time was out the window.  I came to Houston to run fast but that was out of the question.  At least I had the competition.  I jogged around some more, took my millionth bathroom stop for the morning, stripped down, threw away my poncho and headed to the line, taking a spot in the second row, behind Fernando Cabada.

Finally, the race was off.  As soon as I started running, I realized how strong the wind was.  I did my best to drop my head and tuck in behind people.  The rain was coming down and after a few minutes, I thought, "man, that stuff hurts" only to see little ice balls bouncing off the ground.  Great.

Early in the race

I don't know if it was because of the temperature or the weather itself, but I felt really flat and couldn't relax at all.  The marathoners and half-marathoners start on different blocks and don't merge together until a couple of miles in, so based off that, I was probably somewhere in the high 20s, place wise.  Finally, the first mile marker was in sight and after passing it, I split my watch to see what it was.  5:35. Crap! As soon as I saw my split, I had visions of a 2:20+ time.  But with 25.2 miles to go, picking it up, getting frazzled or giving up isn't something you need to do.  I kept up my same effort level and continued my journey.

I caught up to a small pack of guys and took a spot right behind Tommy Neal.  I don't know why, but I'm terrible at running in packs.  Maybe it's because I do nearly all of my training alone, but with people in the mix, I get thrown off my rhythm and occasionally bump someone with my elbow, or get too close, which results in someones foot flying into my leg on their back kick.  Tommy's leg clipped me once and I apologized.  It happened again a minute or two later and rather than him think "who is that idiot" I cut a sharp left in hopes he would blame it on the guy beside me.  Sneaky, sneaky.

Over the next few miles, I was able to slowly move my way up.  There were a ton of Africans nearly out of sight, with Andrew Carlson in tow and not too far ahead were Fernando Cabada, Mike Reneau, Sergio Reyes as well as a couple of rabbits.  A little bit over three miles in, Martin and Cesar Lizano, a 2:17 guy from Costa Rico and 2012 Olympian caught up to me.  At 3.5 miles in, I took my first fuel bottle.  I knew it was still early in the race and because of the rain, I didn't feel like drinking it but I knew I would need the carbohydrates later, so I drunk nearly all of it.

I could tell the pack with Cabada in it wasn't leaving me and I was pulling away from Martin and Cesar, so I felt at that point, it made the most sense to do a surge and catch up.  That way, I could draft off them for a while, rather than fight the wind alone.  I was really intimidated to run with these guys so early.  On paper, they were on a different level and I still had over 21 miles of racing left.  In a way, I felt unworthy and felt like I was the nerd trying to sit at the jocks' lunch table.  But my effort level felt pretty good, so I decided to tow along.

 I tucked in behind Mike and rabbit, Joe Moore.  It was a bit of a deja-vu experience because I ran with Mike and Joe for most of the US Half-Marathon Championships this past June, before they dropped me a little bit over 10 miles in.  We were clicking off the miles in the 5:15-5:20ish range pretty consistently and I felt like I was back in college running the steeplechase as I jumped over several deep puddles because few things are worse than wet socks (even though my socks were soaked by now).

Eight miles in, I took my second bottle and shortly after that, I worked my way to the front of the pack. It was intimidating running ahead of these guys but for the first time, I was starting to feel pretty relaxed and since I did my fair share of drafting, I felt like I should also help with the pace.  No freeloading here!

At 10 miles, we started to string out a little bit and after checking my shoulder, I noticed that Mike was gone. Sergio and I continued to lead the pack until a few minutes later, Cabada rejoined us. We hit halfway in 69:18 and I was still feeling pretty good.

I was really enjoying the moment.  Here I was, hanging with some guys who have much better resumes than I do but I was holding my own and feeling pretty good.  Well, that moment was short lived because before I knew it, Fernando and and Sergio put 50 meters on me.  I looked over my shoulder and could see Cesar about 100 meters away and believed Sergio and Cabada were just bidding their time and I would probably run the rest of the race alone.  Well, it was nice while it lasted.

I tried to lock into my rhythm and rather than falling behind over time, as I expected, I was closing the gap on the guys and a couple of minutes later, I was back in the pack.  I was scared that I was running too hard, so I closed my eyes for a few seconds and tried to really "feel" the pace. It felt good and no worse than it does on my marathon pace runs, so I knew I was good to go.  A little over 15 miles in, Cabada dropped out.  Oh snap!  I then realized that I was going to go home with a little bit of money and told Sergio that he was going home with $5000 and I'd be happy with my $2500 (I totally forgot about Andrew Carlson during the race).

The wind was pretty strong and I almost asked Sergio if he wanted to alternate the lead.  But I was pretty self-conscious and asking him something like that is like asking a girl out on a date.  You have no idea how they respond but the fear of rejection is too great.  And who wants to feel awkward for the last hour of the race?

Sergio and I mostly stuck together with me unintentionally putting a few meters on him here and there. At this point, my left IT band was getting really, really tight.  The tightness started around 10 miles in and I was scared it was going to get a lot worse.  I was waiting for and expecting Sergio to leave me at anytime and when he did, I was going to tell him to give me a shout-out at the press conference (top American got invited to it).

I was wondering if the wall would come soon but I was still feeling pretty good (other than the bum IT band). At 20 miles, I tried to take in more fuel (fourth bottle) but my stomach felt too full so I just chunked it after a couple of sips.  Once we hit 21, I felt like I had a lot of fight in me and at 22, I picked it up a little bit and split that mile in 5:06.  I put several seconds on Sergio that mile and I locked into the rhythm as I hit the next one in 5:04.  With about 5k to go, I had about 100 meters on him and felt like I had plenty left in the tank.

The 25th mile went pretty quickly and I was really enjoying the moment.  I went from the subelite field, to elite at the last moment and was on my way to finishing as the top American.  I could see an Ethiopian way in the distance but with my left calf now getting pretty tight, I didn't feel like pursuing him. I went through 26 miles and was really gaining on him, but just kept the same effort.  Finally, the finish line was in sight!  I could see the clock was in the 2:18:40s and I REALLY didn't want to run a 2:19:00.  2:18:59 is only a second faster than 2:19:00 but saying you're a 2:18 marathoner sounds a lot cooler than saying you're a 2:19 guy.  So I picked it up, ended up crossing the line in 2:18:52 and immediately started gimping around on my left leg.  On my way inside, I wondered who that tall looking marathoner with the seductive eyes was. Crap! It was Andrew Carlson who finished as the top American.  I was bummed for a second but knew he deserved it.  I honestly didn't feel like he would finish the race as he had an achilles issue and was limping around the hotel the day before.  But he battled the elements, along with his injury, so he definitely deserved it.

For some reason, no one got updates on me.  Then I saw the results and I was not listed. I figured it was something to do with my bib number, as I went from number 209 to 21 and figured they would eventually figure it out.  I started talking to a guy named Ben Zywicki, who ran for the Colorado School of Mines (cool sounding college) and he used this race as a long run and ended up running 2:24.  Pretty impressive.  We went to go do some jogging but right away, I started limping like an old, injured man in the middle of a heart attack, so I stopped.


After a while, we got the results figured out and I began my long, limpy walk to my room.  Wilson was in there and he ended up third in the half-marathon in 62:12, with the winner at 61:54.

I then ate more than my share of junk food, talked to Sergio and Cabada for a bit and then jumped on of the athlete shuttles to the airport.  It's a small world because it turns out the girl I was sitting beside, 2:31 marathoner Lanna Marchant (blazing for a girl), lives on the TN/GA border and comes to Nashville nearly every weekend.  She was looking for some people to run with while she's in Nashville and I ended up running with her and some other people this past weekend.

Well, there's marathon #4 in the books (only my third marathon "race" though).  With the conditions being as bad as they were, I've had a lot of people ask me how much faster I could have run with ideal weather. Mario felt like it was 4-5 minutes.  I was a little over 90s behind a 2:07, 2:11 and 2:10 guy and was just behind another 2:07 guy.  Sergio ran 2:19 and has run 2:14.  Cesar ran 2:22 and he 's run 2:17.  I definitely think this race was worth a 2:15 and maybe a 2:14.  If this would have been ideal conditions, I don't know if I would have finished 9th.  As I mentioned earlier, people come to Houston to run fast.  We all had visions of fast times in our heads and once the weather went bad, so did our visions....if we let it.  I think that really messed up some people's race but I didn't let the conditions affect my mind.  You can't have perfect weather but you can always try to put in a perfect effort.  I was really happy with my effort but I want a faster time than 2:18.  The results aren't going to have an asterisk beside the times, stating the weather was bad, so for now, I'm a 2:18 marathoner.  But the most encouraging thing was that I never hit the wall and felt really good (other than the gimpiness).

Mario also ended up writing a piece on me here

Random Thoughts

  • While I've been a believer in the gel dissolved into water method, I think I will retire it.  In Houston, I didn't need 40 ounces of fluids, but if I wanted all of the gel, I had to drink that much.  I probably took in about 30 ounces, which is only 300 calories.  From now on, I'll use the same bottles, but attach the gel to it, so I can get the calories and take as much water as I need.
  • I would label this an "A" race.  I beat some good guys, felt good and had plenty left in the tank.
  • Looking back at my training, my build-up was less than ideal.  I didn't get in enough marathon-specific work and I wasn't "fast" enough before starting my marathon training.  Most of that was out of my control though.
  • Next on the agenda is either a couple of easy weeks, a month long speed phase and then six weeks of marathon-specific work, followed by the Boston Marathon.  What is smarter is probably a few easy weeks, a short base phase, long speed phase where I attack my 5k/10k/half-marathon PR's and then peak for the US Half-Marathon Championships.
  • Battle damage from the marathon: obviously the left IT band and calf.  My left heel also really hurt, which was probably a result of me switching to more of a heel strike, due to the tight calf.  What hurt the most were my toes.  Both of my big toes were really painful as well as my third toes.  I may just need to put in a slightly thicker insole into my shoes.
  • After running in a pack with Cabada, Sergio and Mike Reneau, I realized that they are all a good bit leaner than I am.  I doubt their diet is as bad as mine.  I believe there's a strong correlation there.  That's something that stuck out to me and is something I will work on.  
Balanced Mile Splits: 5:35, 5:16, 5:16, 5:22, 5:15, 5:06, 5:10, 5:10, 5:14, 5:15 (52:39 10 miles), 5:17, 5:22, 5:21, 5:18, 5:28, 5:22, 5:25, 5:24, 5:18, 5:17, 5:16, 5:06, 5:04, 5:17, 5:17, 5:30, 1:12

5k Splits: 16:41, 16:18, 16:07, 16:30, 16:40, 16:46, 16:15, 16:09


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday (Wednesday)

Cut me some slack on the lateness, as I've been a lazy bum since Sunday.  I'm deciding to go old school with my next pick, as in two years before my birth.  This week, I'm suggesting you check out the Warriors.

The Warriors is set in futuristic New York City. Unruly gangs and cops fight over their battle to rule the streets.  Cyrus, the leader of the Gramery Riffs (terrible name) decides to call all the gangs to Van Cortland Park to call a truce, so they can team up and rule the city.


Most of the gangs are fans of the idea, except Luther, leader of the Rogues, doesn't like it at all.  He assassinates Cyrus and blames it on the gang known as the Warriors.  The Warriors try to quickly escape as now, every gang is out for revenge.  The Riffs use the radio to call out a hit on the Warriors and which gives them trouble around every corner as they are hunted down by other gangs and try to make it to safety.

Batter Up!
And you thought the Bloods looked tough?

Will they make it back? Will the other gangs find out the truth?  You just have to check it out.  It's pretty cheesy, especially for a gang type movie, but I enjoyed it.  Being from the 70s, it's much cleaner than most movies today and it's worth 90 minutes of your time. 

January 7th-13th Training

Monday: 10.3 miles (7:31)

Tuesday: 4.6 miles (6:33); 7.4 miles with 6xhill blasts (7:09)

Wednesday: 10.7 miles with 2x3200m with 800m jog rest, 2x400m with 400m jog rest.  Ended up running 10:13 (5:11, 5:02), 10:09 (5:06, 5:03), 66, 63.  Originally, my plan was 4 miles straight at MP, then 4x400m@5k but I felt a little flat on the first mile and there's no need to force things, so I "easied" it up.  I actually felt pretty decent afterward and probably just needed to warm-up a little better.  The second 3200m section felt easier than the first and I felt good on the 400s.

Thursday: 3 miles (6:33); 7 miles (6:37). Got a Massage at Massage Envy to save some time and money.  Should have gone to Julianna in Nashville because this lady was no good. 

Friday:  6 miles (6:34); 2.36 miles (:11).  Got bored on the plane, so I got some mileage splits from the window.  Pretty fast flying!

Saturday: Ran for 26:15 (3.8 miles?)

Sunday: 27.2 miles with marathon in 2:18:52.  Cold, windy, rainy, deep puddles.  5k splits: 16:41, 16:18, 16:07, 16:30, 16:40, 16:46, 16:15, 16:09. Felt like absolute crap at the mile and I was expecting to see 5:15ish for the split but it was 5:34.  As soon as I saw that, I was expecting to run terribly.  Slowly moved my way up and caught Mike Reneau, Fernando Cabada, Sergio Reyes and two rabbits a little under 5 miles.  Ran with them a while, took the lead once or twice and then got dropped by Cabada, a rabbit and Reyes shortly after halfway.  Fell back 5-10s, caught back up and then ran with Sergio with Cabada and the rabbit dropping out shortly after 15.  Ran side-by-side with Sergio with a small lead over him here and there.  Left him for good at 22.  Was expecting to hit the wall but never did.  Really pleased with the performance and felt like this could have been under 2:15 with ideal weather.  Didn't feel good until 10+ miles.  Left IT band was really tight around halfway and I wasn't sure how it would go.  It got really, really tight, along with my left calf, the last mile, so I backed off.  Don't know how I pulled this off with the effort level I used.  After the race, I was gimping around because it was so painful. 

Week Total: 80 miles. Great week, with a great peak, when I honestly wasn't expecting a ton.  Not sure what I will do as far as recovery goes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Houston Marathon Preview

The Houston Marathon is just a few days away and I'm ready to get 'er done.  It's been a long season and I'm ready to let it all out.  I started hard training in July in hopes of running 2:15 at the Columbus Marathon in October.  I got really fit and was able to survive the hot Nashvillian summer.  But it wasn't meant to be as I got a bum achilles four weeks out.  Another marathon X'ed out, which was three in a row (Rocket City, Mississippi Blues, Columbus).  I didn't have enough time to get in shape for a December marathon, so looking around, it seemed like Houston was the place to course, good competition.  I'm not worried about prize money or running a strong race on a tough course, I just want a fast marathon time for some gratification and street cred.  My last marathon race was the 2011 Country Music Marathon in 2:24:08.  I ended up setting a new half-marathon PR of 70:10 in the first half and with a current half-marathon best of 64:39, I feel like I'm ready to smash my old PR, especially since Nashville is a slow course and I was in no-man's land most of the race. 

I started back with consistent training in early November and rapdily improved my fitness within a few weeks.  By early December, I was rolling and felt like I had a lot of room for improvement.  I ended up running the Rocket City Marathon as a steady long run and felt good running a 2:26 in warm conditions, despite peeing my pants (and on my right shoe).  I recovered really well, with no soreness but caught a puke bug, which went from my mother-in-law, to Kate, to Mary, to me in just a few days. That thing jacked me up and stole my mojo for a few days. A week or so later, I was rolling again and knocking out some heavy mileage.


For the past week or two, I've started to become a little more tired than anticipated.  I'm hoping it's just fatigue from all of the hard training and once I taper up, I will really be ready for battle but you really never know until race day.

I was able to enter the Houston Marathon as a subelite, which meant I got a free entry and a starting spot behind the elite corral.  All other expenses were on my own.  My biggest concern about the race was my fueling issue.  In my prior marathons, I've had people helping me out during the race by handing me gel dissolved into a water bottle.  It works because I'm able to get in my calories and fluids in one she-bang.  Drinking out of cups has always been a huge issue with me so my bottle solution works perfectly.  I ended up finding a guy on Let's Run, who was going to help me at miles 10 and 20.  My plan was to pack a gel in my back pocket, take it at five miles, attach another gel to my water bottle at 10 miles, so I could take that at 15 and then drink out of the cups the best I could.  I was a little nervous about it but felt it could work.

After the elite entries came out, I felt like my half-marathon stacked up well compared to the others. After sending an email, asking about fuel support, the people at the Houston Marathon were really nice and granted me my wish.  I now have eight different stations I can place my bottle, which is a HUGE relief.  Now I just need to decorate my bottles in a crazy fashion so I can identify them when I'm running.

My mom always told me that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."  Over the last couple of days, I've been boosted up to a hotel room (rooming with 2:05 marathoner, Wilson Loyane Erupe) and moved into the elite corral.  Thanks a lot Erin!
Going into the race, I don't have a concrete time goal.  If conditions are perfect, I feel like running sub 5:15s is very realistic and if I play my cards right, I feel like I have a 2:15 in me.  But now I'm a few days out and the weather doesn't look that great. As a result, I'm going to run by feel and see where it takes me.

Looking at the elite entries, there are a handful of guys who have run 2:14-2:17, which is perfect for me.  My plan is to play it cool the first 9-10 miles and once the half marathoners branch off a different way, I will mentally buckle down and start seeing if I can catch some people.  A marathon is a long freaking way and if I mentally try to stick with a pack from the get-go, I will start to lose focus late in the race.  I find that by running "mentally numb" and staying relaxed during the first part of the race, I am able to use more mental energy later in the race, when I really need it. 

Some people may run using a gung-ho, aggressive approach, but that's not me.  I'm not trying to get in a slugfest early on and try to knock you out shortly after the bell. I like to think of myself as a goofy-looking Grim Reaper. I wait until you are almost dead and then I finish you off with the baby hammerfirst of doom.

 Mike Russow KO's Todd Duffee [UFC 114]

There's not much I can do leading up to the race to help my performance. I'm going to try to be disciplined and get at least seven hours of sleep each night, watch my junk food intake and then enjoy my carbo-loading.  I haven't decided on my pre-race meal yet, but my go to snack, especially when I'm travelling is gummies.  Full of easily digestible carbohydrates and one of my favorite foods.  The only decision now is choosing between sour worms and regular gummi-bers (sour bears are too soft and gummi-worms are too hard).

Over the last couple of days, there's been a couple preview articles about the race this weekend.  One containing all of the elites, international and domestic, with the other one containing the top American men marathoners in the field. Since has been really generous with their finances and funded an American's only prize purse (in addition to the regular money, provided by the race itself), I'm a little more focused on my my red, white and blue brothers.  Here is my mini-preview of the elite Americans, with my thoughts on how I match up with them.

The Untouchables
Fernando Cabada
Age:  30
Residence: Boulder, CO
Personal Bests: 13:34 (5000m), 28:25 (10000m), 62:32 (Half-Marathon), 2:11:53 (Marathon)

In my mind, Fernando Cabada is the top American in the field.  He finished 7th place at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:11:56 and has a knack for the long distances. He's run on three US teams, has won three US titles, holds the American 25k record and runs for Newton's Team Alchemy.  This past year, he took off several months but is back at it again.  Some people are against extended breaks but I think it's great for mental and physical longetivity.  He trains in Boulder under Brad Hudson, who is one of the most well known marathon coaches around.  Cabada is hoping to crack 2:10 and if the weather is good, he definitely has a chance.  It appears he's been running really well in workouts, and then I remember he's running a mile up in the air, which makes them even more impressive.


Andrew Carlson
Age: 30
Residence: Minneapolis, MN
Personal Bests: 13:32 (5000m), 28:25 (10000m), 62:21, 2:11:24 (Marathon) 

Andrew Carlson is the other top American in the field and runs for Team USA Minnesota/Brooks. While other people are more aggressive in their move to the marathon, he seems like he's taken the traditional approach of maximizing his speed in the shorter distances first.  He's run on four world teams and is a former US 15k and 25k champion, with his PR's almost clones of Cabada's.  He made his marathon debut at the Olympic Trials, in which he finished 6th place in 2:11:24. That show's he has the talent and wheels to rub sub 2:10 once he gets another marathon or two in him. He was supposed to run New York in November, but we know the happened with that race. He currenly has an achilles injury, but is still committed to the race. Because of that, I give Cabada the nod over him.  

Odds of beating one of these guys: 10%.  I would say 1% if it was the half marathon or less but the marathon is another beast.  But the only way I will beat one of these guys is if they hit the wall really badly.  Not the figurative marathon wall, but literally run face first into a building and decide to continue with the race. 

The Most Likely Nots

Sergio Reyes
Residence: Palmdale, CA
Age: 31
Personal Bests: 13:52 (5000m), 28:29 (10000m), 64:17 (Half-Marathon), 2:14:02 (Marathon)

Sergio Reyes has been training and competing at a high level since college.  He won the USA Marathon Championships in 2010 and runs for the Asics' Aggies.  He also earns my respect as he works 50 hours a week as a project engineer testing F-16 fighter jets. Pretty cool job.  Add an hour commute each way and you have a full plate on your hands.  He's also coached by former National Class Marathoner and owner of Running Warehouse, Joe Rubio, who has taken hundreds of dollars from me over the years.  In my opinion, it's the best running retail site on the internet.  Can't beat lower than retail prices, no taxes and free two-day shipping (and returns)!

Mike Reneau
Residence: Minneapolis, MN
Age: 34
Personal Bests: 63:38 (Half-Marathon), 2:14:37 (Marathon)

Mike Reneau has a pretty cool story.  He was a state-class wrestler (toughest sport) in high school and ran a little bit of cross country.  In college, he enrolled in a distance running class, in which you had to finish a marathon to pass the course.  He ended up busting out a 2:36.  Since then, he has been slowly plugging away and has shown he is a true marathoner.  He's one of the grandpa's of the elite group but with his late start to running, he has several years of improvement ahead of him.  I ran with him for about 10-11 miles at the US Half-Marathon Championships this past year before he dropped me pretty badly, beating me by 19 seconds.  Reneau currently runs for the Twin Cities Track Club (and I believe Brooks) and is also shooting for a top five finish at the World Snowshoe Championships in March.  As a result, I really hope it doesn't snow this weekend.

Odds of beating one of these guys: 30%Both of these guys are going out in 66:00 and shooting for 2:12.  Normally, I would feel I would have a 50% or greater chance of beating one of these guys with those PR's, going out at that effort.  But both of them have shown to be very consistent in the marathon and appear to have figured out the distance.  My only shot is if one of them blows up pretty badly and I run well. 

The "I think I can"

Tommy Neal
Residence: Colorado Springs, CO
Age: 29
PR's: 14:28 (5000m), 29:32 (10000m), 65:00 (Half-Marathon), 2:36:49 (Marathon)
Tommy Neal has rapidly improved since graduating from Central Missouri State University.  He qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials but did not finish the race.  Last year, he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, which is amazing considering the high level he competes at.  He is coached by Scott Simmons and runs for Adidas Boulder Running Company Team. I was a little bit bummed he made the pre-race preview, while I didn't get any love. I've run just as fast, feel I am just as good looking and after spending my extended break from running a few years ago at Westside MMA, I'm confident I can hold my own against him in a fight. 
Odds of beating Tommy: 51%.  Neal is a tough runner and is shooting for a sub 2:15 this weekend.  Our half-marathon times are pretty close (64:39 vs. 65:00) and we both haven't run a marathon "in-shape" so it will be a fun match-up.  An interesting tidbit is that Neal, Cabada and Reneau all set their half-marathon PR's at the 2011 Garry Bjourkland Half-Marathon.  A tailwind on a point-to-point course is a big help.  Even though the marathon has so much uncertainty, I feel I'm more of a longer distance guy than him (I have no speed and get beat by a 4:52 miler on hill sprints). And not to mention, I have a lot of gray whiskers, which gives me the old man strength advantage over him. Should be a close match-up. 

Well there it is.  The race starts Saturday at 7am.  If you're bored, you can track me here and/or watch the live stream here

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cold Winter's Day 5k

The fam and I headed back to my old hometown, Columbia, SC to see my family for a few days after Christmas.  I don't use traveling as an excuse to not get in training, so I penciled in the Cold Winter's Day 5k as a time trial, two weeks before my marathon.  I knew it wouldn't be pretty because if you run a fast 5k shortly before your marathon, you're not truly ready for your best 26.2 miles.


I last ran this race in 2005 in 15:14. I ended up winning over O.J. Striggles, who talked smack pre-race about how he would beat me.  A little over a mile into the race, he pulled slightly ahead of me, talked some friendly trash, and then I responded by throwing in a long surge and dropping him to get the victory by 14 seconds.  Since I wasn't really fit when I ran 15:14, I felt like I would at least be able to break 14:30 and maybe sneak under 14:20 if things went well.

Sorry OJ, I was one man you couldn't slaughter

The Thursday night before the race, they announced they were giving time-based incentives to the winner.  If you broke 15:00 you got an extra $100.  Sub 14:45 was worth $250 and sub 14:30 was worth $500.  After seeing that, the race became a lot more appealing.  Instead of logging 15 miles the day before the race, I only put in 12.  I felt like 14:45 wouldn't be an issue but I really wanted to nab the $500 (assuming I would be able to win).  The course is somewhat rolling but can be fast if you run it well.  The first mile is definitely the toughest with the last mile including some decent downhills.  My plan was to open up around 4:40-4:45 and then hammer.


I felt like at least two or three guys from RunFurman would show up, if not Fam, who lives 1.5 hours up the road.  However, while warming up, I really didn't notice anyone and when it was time to head to the line, I felt like I would be running out front alone.

Since it rained prior to the race, the roads were really wet.  I wasn't sure how it would affect me, but I knew it wouldn't be ideal.  However, I still felt like I was fit and ready to roll.  The race starts on a gradual 1/2mileish hill, before branching into the neighborhood.  I immediately shot out front and was using my GPS to keep me on pace.  It felt like I was rolling, but I was running over 4:40 pace on my watch, which meant I was running even slower than that in reality.  I came through the mile in 4:48 and was temporarily bummed as it meant I would have to close the last 2.1 miles really hard.  At that point, I felt like sub 14:30 would be tough but 14:45 was definitely in the cards.

Not my prettiest moment

The second mile had some rolling ups and downs and I ran the first half of that at sub 4:40 pace and was gaining my confidence back.  However, the uphills came and I started slowing down and lost some time.  I came through the second mile in an even slower 4:49, which meant I would have to run sub 4:38 to break 14:45.  I started trying to hammer again and my legs felt like they were sprinting but I couldn't find that power I was looking for.

With about a half mile to go, I knew 14:45 wouldn't be possible.  I ran down the final hill and when I saw the clock getting into the upper 14:40s, I had an "oh snap" attack as I realized that I may even miss out on sub 15.  I was able to hit the line in 14:55 and I was pretty bummed.  I thought for sure I'd be at least worth a 14:30 something, which is a big difference time-wise and I guess financially.


But looking back at it, I have to realize that I was all alone, the streets were wet and the course had a ton of rhythm changes, which really wreaks havoc with my style of stride/running, especially since I'm trying to be the marathon metronome man.  The week before the US Half-Marathon Championships, I ran 14:47 on a pancake course, with competition for the first mile, and then I ran well a week later, so maybe it's the same situation (hopefully).  I'm also coming off two really hard training weeks and have done very little work at sub 4:50 mile pace, so maybe it means I'm marathon fit. Enough excuses for now, it's time to continue the training with the end goal on my mind.

But it's always good to come back down to South Carolina and race on my old courses and see some of my old friends.  Strictly Running always does a great job of managing their races.  At most races around Nashville, results are posted pretty quickly on a wall, post, etc..  At the Cold Winter's Day race, the results were posted on two big screen TV's. Pretty fancy!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Netflix Movie Monday

Life has been busy in the Wietecha household.  We've been getting back on our work schedule, been on the road traveling and I've been pushing Kate all around the house in her new Cozy Coupe.  I'm tempted to track my Cozy Couple mileage while I push her so I can add it into my weekly mileage (with that being said, I'm still mad I didn't track my summer work mileage before my senior year of college at Office Max.  If we weren't with a customer, we had to be walking around the store and with 30-40 hours a week, I easily had an extra 30+ walking miles, on top of my 100ish miles a week of summer training).  As a result of my business, I haven't been able to "waste" my time watching movies on Netflix.  But I did get around to watching a movie I've been waiting to see and it turned out to be pretty good.  Sure, Mary woke up from a deep slumber on the couch and said something along the lines of "what in the world are you watching? Why do you watch crap like this this?".  But hey, at least I enjoyed it.

This thing took forever to put together.  Mary spent well over an hour on it!

This week's movie is going international again.  Maybe it's a subconscious reaction to knowing that I will get smoked by a bunch of international runners this weekend and will bow down to their superiority.   As long as I run well, who cares?  But to make a long story short, another Netflix movie you should check out is Troll Hunter.

Troll Hunter is in Norwegian with English subtitles.  The first thing I learned about the movie is that Norwegian accents are terribly annoying.  But I was able to get past that and get into the movie.

In Troll Hunter, a group of college kids set out to make a documentary on an alleged bear poacher.  The investgate witnesses and Finn, the head of the Norway Wildlife Board.  Through their investitagion, they find a prime suspect...a rough looking chap named Hans (at least 50% of the male population is Scandanavia has to be named Finn or Hans).  After a while, they are able to track down Hans who continually tells them to get lost.  They don't heed his advice and puruse him all over the country.  Eventually, they track him down in the woods at night time.  Rather than him being grumpy and telling them to get lost, he runs past them, yells "troll" and leaves them in the dust.  One of the university kids gets bit but they still won't believe it's a troll.  While most people believe trolls only live in fairy tales, the government really knows they are real life creatures. 
It's a Jotnar!

After a while Hans starts to warm-up a bit and allows the students to follow him as he travels around the country, slaying trolls. The movie is in a documentary format and in a way, is pretty similar to the movie Cloverfield.  Occasionally, the movie gets slow but the troll scenes are pretty cool and the story line slowly sucks you in.  The ending was pretty sudden and somewhat of a cliff hangar but I guess that keeps it somewhat "real" and true to its documentary format.


If you have around 90 minutes to sit still and keep up with the subtitles, this  is a decent little movie.  While I didn't enjoy it as much as Cloverfield, it was something I found some enjoyment out of.

Decmber 31st-January 6th Training

Monday: 4.4 miles (7:01); 8.7 miles (7:34)

Tuesday: 3.7 miles (7:21); 7.4 miles (7:01) with 8xhill blasts

Wednesday:  4 miles (7:18); 11 miles with a bombed workout.  The plan was 10 miles at MP or a little faster or if I felt a little off, 3x5k with 1k float.  A couple miles in, I decided to change it to the 5ks.  First one was 16:01 (5:10, 5:07, 5:09), 1k jog at 3:41 and the next one was 15:55 (5:03, 5:07, 5:12). After that, I called it a day because my hip flexors and legs were getting a lot more tired than they should.  Maybe I could have done another one, but I just wasn't feeling it at all.  I also think part of it was that I was expecting this to be much easier than it was.  A month after being in crappy shape, I cruised 10.7 at 5:04 pace, so I thought I could easily run under 5:10.  Frustrating because I wanted this to be my last really hard day.  Looking back, I should have stuck around 5:10s for the first two intervals and then see how I was feeling.

Thursday: 3 miles (6:54); 9.2 miles (6:45)

Friday: 5 miles (6:52); 7.4 miles (7:03)

Saturday: 18.8 miles with 3x5k.   Decided to repeat the workout I attempted Wednesday and if I felt good, push the last mile some.  First 5k was 15:54 (5:09, 5:10, 5:06).  Felt pretty decent.  Was making myself stay around 5:10s.  1k jog in 3:36 and the second 5k was 15:55 (5:10, 5:08, 5:06) and my hamstrings started to become a little bit tired. 1k jog in 3:36 and the last was 15:42 (5:10, 5:10, 4:53).  I was starting to get tired on the second mile but the last one wasn't bad.  I was pushing and had to focus on the pace but I was able to lock into 4:53ish the entire way.  If I ran flat out, I feel like I could have broken 4:40.  Decent workout overall but wish I could have got this done Wednesday.  If so, the plan was going to be 12-14x400m@ 5k pace with 1:00 rest and 16-18 miles tomorrow.  I was going to make this a two run day, but I ran into my semi-neighbor, Will, on the cool-down, so I ran with him for a bit. It was good to get this done in one dose and looking back, I got in "long run" mileage.

Sunday: 8.2 miles (6:54); Skipped 2nd run. Was going to run 4.5 in the evening, but I had a migraine, so I took a 2 hour nap, woke up with a bigger headache and fell asleep for three more hours.

Week Total=90.6 miles.  Volume was a little lower than planned, but that's due to the skipped run yesterday.  I wish my week would have gone more smoothly, but looking at last year's log, I bombed my work about 10 days out from my planned marathon and then ran it well a couple of days later.  I felt like I peaked well last year (even though I didn't race), so things should go well this weekend as well.  I'll run 10ish on most of the days next week and will have a very light workout Wednesday.  Hoping for good weather!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Massage Tools for Runners

Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release or whatever you want to call it.  Running puts a whooping on your body and the wear and tear can cause achy muscles, "knots,"  etc.  I'm pretty terrible when it comes to the small stuff.  I'll run all day if I want to but if you ask me to stretch, strength train, do form drills, etc., I'll revolt.  Yeah, I'm sure it would help to do that stuff, but frankly I'm too lazy.  Maybe I'll make it my New Years Resolution to do that crap but I don't really believe in New Years Resolutions, so I probably won't do them.

But alas, I have been known to work on a muscle knot or two, so I've tried out many-a-tool to see what works.  In an ideal world, I'd have access to a good masseuse but I'm too cheap for that.  Here is an old man's opinion over a variety of tools to treat yourself at home.

The Stick

This was my very first massage tool.  I bought it in high school and in college, I left it on the track van and some jerk stole it.  Most people will use it on their calves and it seemed to work pretty well for that.  But my next tool works better and is about ten times cheaper.

There She Is!

If you're thinking about buying The Stick, save your money and buy a rolling pin.  It's much more firm, covers more surface area and seems to work much better on my knots than The Stick does. Just don't use it and not wash it, or your Polish roommate will get really mad at you (sorry Bob).

My Foam Roller

 Nearly every runner has a foam roller and many swear by them. At first, it really jacked me up and had me punching the floor because I was getting so mad at the pain it was causing.  Eventually, I feel like I adapted too much to it and don't use it much at all anymore.  However, I'll occasionally use it on my IT Bands and hip flexor area.  I also find that it works better when I use it on a hard surface.  If you've never owned one of these, it'd definitely be a good purchase.

PVC Pipe
After becoming somewhat desensitized to the foam roller, I thought about making a foam roller sized PVC pipe.  As luck would have it, my summer and winter running partner, Vance Pounders, made one for me.  If you want to make your own, you can get one cut pretty cheaply at Home Depot, Lowe's etc. in whatever size your heart desires. It works pretty well on your quads and hip flexors, somewhat ok on your calves and hamstrings but I find it way too hard for my IT bands.  If it's too hard for you and you really want to be an overachiever, you could cover it in a yoga mat, carpet, etc. 

I've always heard that this guy doesn't play around.  I had a gift card to Fleet Feet so I used it on one of these.  I use this more than my PVC pipe and foam roller but I can't use it without feeling like I'm violating the ground. There's almost no way to use this without being in an awkward position. But other than that, it works well on my calves, quads, hip flexors and IT band.  I even use the wheels on the bottom of my foot.  It's pretty hard and if I had to describe the "hardness" it sort of feels like a tennis ball wrapped around a PVC pipe.  But it's much smaller than my foam roller and PVC pipe, which makes it easy to travel with, so it may be worth the $65 or whatever it costs.

Lacrosse Ball

One day while my (former) track kids at JPII were doing a track workout, every few minutes, a lacrosse ball would fly over the fence and about take me out.  I picked one up, looked at it a bit and decided to "borrow" one and see how it worked.  After using it for a few times, it's turned out to be one of my favorite tools in my arsenal.  It works perfectly on the individual knots in my legs and is hard enough to work on the hamstrings (the hamstrings can be hard to work on because they are so dense). You can even use it to massage the often neglected and often irritated illiopsoas. The illiopsoas is like a ninja.  Few people knew what it is or consider it as a culprit in a running injury but a tight psoas can cause all sorts of havoc on the lower body.  Treat the sickness, not the symptoms.

Foot-Rub (no, that's not my hand)

I bought one of these a few years ago off Ebay but you can get them in random stores or where I buy nearly all of my stuff, Amazon.  It seems to work well on my arches and works better than a golf ball. But the little knobs can fall off, especially if your dog steals it.  It was only like five bucks, so it's a good investment, especially if you frequently get plantar fascia issues. 

Trigger Point Therapy Workbook
This isn't a tool per se, but a book.  Trigger points/knots can cause referred pain almost anywhere in your body.  A knot in your soleus can cause pain in your back.  A knot in your hip flexors can cause knee pain, etc.  This book covers the entire human body and shows common problem areas and how to massage them using a variety of tools. I could go without the black-and-white drawings of an old man, wearing tightie-whities but other than that, it's an excellent choice for people who want to treat their own issues at home. 

Thera-Cane, or what I call the Shepherd Stick

As time goes on, I like this more and more.  The shape is perfect for massing your back and neck and the little knobs are perfect for pressing down on any knots you can find.  Pretty simple tool but works well. 
R8 Roll Recovery
I don't own one of these but I would really like to test this thing out and it looks like it would probably be my most favorite tool.  It looks like you could put a lot of force into it and is adaptable to many areas of the body.  Maybe one of these days I'll get one but not many places sell them yet.  For now, you can order one here.