Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Attempt at the Marathon Distance

Saturday was another training run for my upcoming marathon.  Every third of fourth weeks are extra long runs.  This week I was scheduled for a 26 miler.  I always worry about these longer runs because I know it will be a tough one!  The run did end up being tough (and shorter than planned) but it was also a fun adventure in many ways.

The Flying W
The first few miles were fairly uneventful.  I have covered this part of the course before many times over the last few years.  As I climbed a hill and turned west, I saw a several friends guys that I know heading for the hills on their mountain bikes.  I haven't seen them out for a while so it was good to see them.  My next memorable event was as I was approaching a busy intersection a couple of miles later.  I was running on the sidewalk during this part and my toe caught a part of the sidewalk that was raised up just a bit.  I then proceeded to do a running Flying W.  What is a Flying W?  I first heard of the term from mountain biking.  It happens when you a tearing down a trail when suddenly your bike stops but you don't.   As you sail over the handlebars, both arms extend flailing over your head giving you a brief similarity to the letter W as you fly through the air.  I did the running version of this as both of my arms naturally flew up and out as my body lunged forward.  The flailed around frantically as I tried to keep my balance.  I'm glad I didn't go down, but I am sure as cars went by they enjoyed the sight!

Down to Utah Lake
I talked to a neighbor who is a runner who has done "The Tour de Orem" before.  It is a 20 mile loop around my city so I followed his general directions.  It took me further west than I would usually run and I'm glad I did.  Even though I didn't see them, my daughter and her husband saw me running down by the dump (which is not as bad as it sounds).  It's always fun to either see someone you know or have them see you.

As I turned south, it wasn't long before I was down by Utah Lake.  It is Utah's second biggest lake after The Great Salt Lake.  The temperature was perfect and there were plenty of beautiful sights and wildlife around.

Saw lots of water fowl including Canada Geese. 

Utah Lake

Even though Spring has started, it will be a bit before things green up.

As I headed back East, this pasture was full of horses.


Just before heading east, a truck stopped and asked me for directions.  The freeway in Utah County is undergoing a big change and a lot of road and on ramps are closed or restricted.  I think I set him off in the right direction, but it is really confusing.  Hope he didn't end up in Idaho!

As I headed east, I crossed a busy street and then got a bit confused myself.  I wound through an unfamiliar subdivision, but finally found a way out of it and ran over to UVU.  BYU gets a lot of attention in Utah County, but Utah Valley University has grown to be a good sized university that can stand on it's own merits over the last ten year.  This was the lowest elevation in the run and I knew I needed to get back up on the top of the Orem bench sooner or later.  As I cut up through the campus, I found this to be the best route.  I wasn't planning on stairs!  I thought of both Alan and Michele when I saw the stairs.  No going fast up the stairs.  My heart rate climbed just fine walking them.

Feel the burn!
A Stop At the Gas Station
After a little more hill climbing, I  was close to University Mall.  I was running out of water and knew there was a gas station on the east side of the mall.  I had brought some money with me and bought a bottle of water.  It was kind of weird standing in line in my sweaty running gear but nobody passed out.  I was glad for a restroom as well.

Lavell Edwards Stadium
I still had several more miles to put in, so I made a decision to drop down University Parkway and go by Levell Edwards Stadium.  I had forgotten that the football team was playing their annual spring football scrimmage.  I made a detour to take a peek at the playing field and hopefully top off my water bottle.  No luck with the water, but it was fun to see the field all nice and green.  I wish I could have gotten a picture, but my phone died while I was there.

I then headed back North and went worked my way over to University Avenue and took the Provo River Trail all the way to the canyon.  During this stretch, my GPS died.  I knew I was close to 20 miles completed, so I tried to figure out a route that would add six more miles.  I was starting to run out of water so I thought I would have to hit another gas station but to my surprise, my neighbor came running toward me in the opposite direction.  Without me saying anything, he said if I need water, his wife was in a car about 30 yards away and I could get some from her.  What great timing!  I topped off again and ran the last stretch to the canyon and then headed west.  I thought I was getting pretty close on mileage.  It is hard for me to calculate stuff when I am running a long distance because I am putting all my resources into "right foot then left foot."  It was getting harder to maintain my pace and ended up walking most of the last couple of miles.   After I got home and recovered, I went out to Map My Run and measured the rest of the run and found out I was a two miles short.  It was hard to find out I was a couple of miles short.  Hard to be too down though. I was able to get 24 miles under my belt.  I was able to maintain my pace for at least 20 miles and build up my endurance.  All in all it was a good training run.

I now get a few lower mileage weeks and then my last long, long run is 29 miles!  For now, some much needed recovery runs for a few weeks.

The Long, Long Post
If you have read this far I am impressed.  Part of my reason for the blog is to document my progress through the process and I know I will forget a lot of this if I don't get it down somewhere.  But I hope that you enjoy it too.  Once again, I really appreciate the support!

Hang in there and I will too!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Time Flies By

2 Month Warning

This warning is actually just for myself. I am two months away from the Ogden Marathon which is set for May 19th this year. I have put in a lot of miles training for this and it will be here faster than I think.

This week has been fairly mellow as far as training goes. A couple of 45 minute runs and then a 6 Miracle Mile run. No, it's not a new religious fad. It is Jeff Galloway's method of determining if you are on course for any common distance run of your chosing. After going through a warmup - which for me consist of running about a mile over to the high school track and then doing some sprint warm ups - you then run a mile at a sustainable pace. In Jeff Galloway's own terms that means no puking! I can run that mile in about 10 minutes. He gives you a formula which tells you how what you project pace is for a marathon and also what pace you should train at. For me, I should be able to run a 13 minute pace and should train at a 15 mile pace. My last super long run, I tried to stick to the training pace and it helped. There are other opportunities during training to run and marathon pace.

These aren't very fast paces for experienced runner, but for me to even finish a marathon will be a great accomplishment. The interesting thing about the Galloway method is had has you run one of your training runs for 26 miles (which is what I will do this Saturday) and 29 miles (four weeks after the 26 miler), you back off in between the super long runs to give your body a chance to recover. These runs are always scary for me, but I so far I have been able to get them done. Each of these recent super long runs have all been a personal best distance for me.

Another Scout weekend

I did my Saturday Miracle Mile training run on Friday so I could go camping with the Scouts this weekend. We rented out a couple of Yerts at a Girl's Camp. A Scout's dream to go to girl's camp perhaps. Maybe, but they use the facilities for girl's camp in the summer and rent out the yerts and cabins during fall - spring to whomever wants to come up. It is well taken care of by volunteers year around and it ended up being a good experience for us all.
Getting some grub ready
Plenty of chances for sledding

What kind of things do you do in your "spare time?" Does work, family and getting fit take up all of your time or are you able to eek out some time for other activities as well?
Hang in there and I will too!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Several years ago, I got involved with a side project. It kept me working late into the night quite often. I was also under a lot of pressure at my regular job.   Then in the middle of all of this, I switched jobs which required me to get up quite early to commute into work. During those few months, I gained a lot of weight. In less than a year, I think I gained more than 50 pounds! Looking back, it was amazing we were able to put in as many hours as we did on such little sleep. My health really took a dive and I was at high risk for all sorts of problems. I felt that I messed up my metabolism during that time but couldn't figure out what to do. I ended up going into the doctor's for some help on being so wiped out. They found my thyroid levels were low and got me on some medication. That did help turn things around and not too long after, I started getting serious about getting my health back.

I talked with my older brother tonight about being tested for stress levels. The doctor was surprised at the high levels of cortisol through out the day. Cortisol is a hormone that our body produces as a reaction to stress.  His doctor told him not to exercise more than 45 mintes at a time and to do interval type training.

I have recently been feeling some of the stress feelings coming back and have had trouble losing weight. I wonder if all of this training that I have been doing over the last year has been stressing me body too much and is causing some of the problems that I have been having. I did some reading up on cortisol and stress and think I may be onto why I have been experiencing some set back lately. No doubt about it, training for a marathon stresses the body.  We've had a lot of upheaval at work as well.  Nobody is losing a job, but things are moving around a bit in our department.

Am I going to quit training? No, but I am going to see what I can do to be better about getting a better night's sleep, reducing stress in other parts of my life and just being aware that I need to be healthier.
How do you react to stress? Maybe those urges to eat something is not just a lapse in will-power but a natural response to your bodies response to stress. Raised levels of cortisol increases appetite.  Dang hormones!  :)

Stress comes in many forms, emotional and physical. Make sure you are aware that excessive stress can be detrimental to your best intensions to be more healthy.

Long run report
I never thought I would say this, but my 10 miler long run was pretty short compared to last week's 23 miler. Winter weather still comes and goes, but we are getting warmer temperatures more often. Saturday was a beautiful day. I didn't go very far up the canyon on this run, but I made it two miles up before I turned back around. I liked this view of Cascade which is one of the seven peaks that Gordon and I will be climbing in our adventure starting this summer.

Glad to see Big Clyde getting back after it.

Hang in there and I will too!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

I anticipated my Saturday run with some excitement with a dash of fear mixed in. My last long/long run was 20 miles and it was a tough one. I cramped up, tanked the last few miles and really had to gut it out to finish. I just wasn't confident that this scheduled 23 miler would go well.

It wasn't without it's pain. It wasn't without it’s moments of doubt and questioning myself. I was better prepared for what was ahead though. I learned some lessons from that tough run and I was hopeful that this one would go better.

I mapped out a course that wouldn't be a steady climb for the first part. It would be hard for me to run this far with out elevation unless I wanted to do the whole 23 on the treadmill. That wasn’t going to happen! I was able though to map out a course that would mix in the elevation change in doses rather than all at once.

The first nine miles consisted of running from my place to Lavell Edwards Stadium where the BYU Cougars play football. I ran up (and down) to the stadium and then cam back along University Avenue and headed back home. It was nice to be able to make a quick stop, dump off my gloves and then head right back out. Probably no more than a minute to do that. It was nice to have other options if needed. 

I then headed out in a different direction and started another big loop that had a lot of ups and downs but it was all manageable. I was surprised by how cold it stayed. I took off about 6am and expected it to be cold, but even after the sun was up, it remained cloudy, damp and cold. I was glad I had dressed right for the conditions.

Probably the hardest part was when I had reached the low point elevation wise and had to trudge up a big hill. By this time, my Garmin had quit. Must have been too cold to hold the charge for that long. I was hoping my phone would keep me company, but within three miles it suffered the same fate. I pretty much knew what I need to do to get the run finished, but I did have to estimate. The Garmin quit at 16 miles and the phone quit at 20. I didn’t quite though and was glad to get the final stretch back home.

Even though these long runs are hard, I know that it the only way to give myself a chance of finishing the marathon. I learned early on to find a training plan for whatever race you want to finish, stick to it the best you can, learn from your mistakes, trust yourself and trust the plan. If you put the time in, you have a good chance of succeeding.

Sounds a lot like goals in general doesn’t it?

When have you been most successful in your life? What did it take to get you there? Have you tried to apply those lessons you learned to your weight loss and getting fit plans? We’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell us what works for you.

Hang in there and I will too!