Monday, May 28, 2012

Left Overs and the Return of Bob

I took a planned week off of running this week.  It has been nice and necessary.  I was pushing my limits in many ways.  I did miss running sometimes though and am ready to ease back in.  I had a few random items left over from the marathon.

I thought this quote from Runner's World reflected a lot of how I am feeling about the experience.
The biggest reward of marathon training is confidence. A 20- or 22-mile training run cannot be purchased, and it can't be rescinded. You are the owner of that strength, and it is a powerful force when life tries to knock you down. You have evidence of your tenacity, your ability, and your passion. - Laura Saladino, Runner's World Challenger of the Week 

I am still trying to process all of my thoughts and emotions following last weeks marathon.  It affected me in so many different ways that iris hard to describe.  I am still getting so much positive feedback on having finished.  Thanks to all of you.

I thanked one person for doing me a favor when he knew I was tired the day after the marathon.  He said something to the effect of, "No problem!  I'm glad you're still alive!"

Bill posted this helpful advice the day before I ran.  It helped me going into the marathon and getting through it.
Good luck this weekend at the Ogden Marathon!  Stick to your plan & enjoy every mile of it!
I read a couple of Jeff Galloway's books in preparation for the marathon.  He said that there are mind tricks that you can play on your self that sound a little weird, but seem to work.   I employed this technique during the marathon when things got rough.  I started chanting, "You can do this!",  in cadence with my pace and it allowed me to keep going a little longer and faster.  It helped me get across the dam!  I know what my family thinks about that!  Your chanting Ray!, it's a little long so start at about 1:15 and see why we laugh about chanting.

Finishing last perspective.  Here are the stats from the race:

Overall: 2402 out of 2402
Men: 1215 out of 1215
M 55-59: 69 out of 69
Age/Grade: 35.01% Place: 2389
Finish: 6:57:04 Pace: 15:55
Tag Time: 6:57:04
Gun Time: 7:02:45

Looks pretty dismal until you consider that 3129 people registered.  2402 people finished.  That means 729 people for what ever reason didn't finish the race!  That's 23%!  I'll take the finish!

Bob Harper Returns

Many of you remember that I am a fan of Biggest Loser.  I have purchased and endured many a Biggest Loser / Bob Harper Workout.  I like Bob's attitude, work ethic and training style.  The only advice I haven't heard a lot about is Bob's nutrition philosophy.  He has recently released a book called The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin
I've read the first couple of chapters and started following a few of the rules.  So far so good.  I will let you know how things go on this.

Goals for the week.  Read more of the book and follow each rule as I finish.  Run twice this week and see how it goes.  Thinking about throwing in a short hike as well.  You in Gordon?

Hang in there and I will too!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last Was Best of All the Game

I knew when I decided to do a marathon that I was biting off more than I could chew!  The half marathons I had run in took all that I had, but for some reason I got the courage to sign up and see what I could do.  After four months of training and one long day on Saturday, I found out what I could do.  I have written about what I learned during training.  Saturday was the day I had done all of this work for.  I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know how it would test my limits and how rewarding it would be.

I am not going to give all of the details, but there is still a lot to report on.  I haven't even been able to process all of the experience myself.  I am going to give the highs and the lows and let the pictures do most of the talking.  Thanks to my brother Gordon and my wonderful sister-in-law Martha, I have several pictures to share.  I got very few, but they were taken during extreme conditions.  But before the pictures, I gotta say.  I DID IT!  I finished the marathon!!!!!  WHOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!

Here's a little bit about how it went.

No pictures from Friday, when Gordon and I drove up to Ogden, got checked in, got my Bib number, ate pasta, went back and did a walk through at the runner's expo.  It all went smoothly.  The packet pickup was great.  I walked right up, got my number, race shirt, check that the timing chip worked and got out of there quickly.  I got a good nights sleep with only one brief night terror when I woke up and thought, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!!!.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I got up Saturday at 4am.  I ate a light breakfast, got ready and headed out the door.  Gordon drove me over to the busses by 4:45.   This was really well done as they got the busses loaded quickly and we were headed up Ogden Canyon to the starting line.

As soon as I got off the bus, I headed over to the porta-potties to avoid these lines.

We waited at the start of the race for about an hour in 30 degree weather.  They had fires going to keep people warm, but it is hard to have enough fires for the 1000 plus runners.

The first 7 miles were mostly downhill.  I kept on my pace during this time.  I talked briefly with a runner.  I asked why she decided to run a marathon.  She said she was 44 years old, had a son with a disability and wanted to take care of him as he grew older.  I thought of my brother and sister-in-law who where there with my nephew Mark who you will see in a picture later on.  Already I was inspired by others during the race.

Miles eight through fourteen were a real challenge.  There was a lot of hills, contending with traffic and being out in the sun for long stretches.  Thankfully the temps stayed cool.  As I was trudging towards mile 10, Gordon pulled up in his truck and asked how I was doing.  It lifted me up just seeing him so I could truthfully say ,"OK!"  He went on a head to a pull out by the next aid station.   Here are a series of pictures of me approaching the mile 10 aid station.
The pair you see behind me were not a pair for long.  In about 2 miles, I ran by as the wife told her husband she couldn't go any further and told him to go on.  After a couple of exchanges, he passed me and I didn't see him again.

I was glad that Gordon was able to meet me on this part of the course.  Most of it was closed to traffic.  I was able to get rid of an overly stuffed fanny pack which made a big difference.

A got a great reception from the aid station at mile 13.  All of the volunteers started chanting my name which they saw on my race bib.  "BRUCE, BRUCE. BRUCE!!!"  I couldn't help but stop for a second and give them a WOOF WOOF WOOF and then we all cheered.  The enthusiasm was repeated at each of the aid station.  I can't give thanks enough to all of the volunteers who gave water, sports drinks, Clif Shots, Blocks and Bars, orange slices and even Otter Pops! They took the time to make you feel the race was there just for you!

Here I am leaving the aid station.  There was traffic to content with during this part.  I had a semi pass really close to me at one point and I was off the road a bit.  It came to an abrupt stop behind two runners that were unaware the peril behind them.  He then figured out he could go around them instead of running them down!

Right before mile 14 was the gut check.  It was a half mile climb.  There were only a couple of us getting up this hill by the time I got there.  It was getting warm, and I had to focus on the near term just to get up.  Much to my surprise there was an otter pop waiting at the aid station which really helped cool me down.  I also dowsed my head with water at almost every aid station from mile ten on and poured one down my back.
Ogden Marathon Facebook Page

Last week, I wrote about my fear of 17.3 miles and the time cutoff.  I was looking good time wise, but the hill took a lot out of me.  As I approached the dam, a car drove up and the driver said, "You have three minutes to get across the dam. If you hurry, you can make it."  Below is a picture of the dam crossing taken by someone from the marathon.  The car drove up where you see the cliff face meet the road.  It wasn't a short distance.  I started to worry.  All I could do is say a quick prayer and move as fast as I could.  As I reached the end of the dam, the race official started to approach.  Was it good or bad news?  He smiled broadly as he told me, "Good job!  You beat it by a minute!"  I was one minute away before being taken off the course!  I waited until I turned down the Ogden Canyon road and gave a quick thank you prayer before I cried a bit.  

Ogden Marathon Facebook Page
Here is a picture of what the course looked like coming down Ogden Canyon during the main part of the race.
Ogden Marathon Facebook Page
This is what it looked like when I got on it about a mile down after crossing the dam.

And this is what I looked like.  I think I wanted to smile, but forgot how!

About Mile 18
I had until 1pm to be out of the canyon.  I could see two other runners ahead of me, but wasn't in any condition to try and catch them.  I had a van come up to me with a race official asking if I was ok.I was at mile 22 at that point.  I am pretty sure I was the last one out of the canyon.  I had 5 minutes to spare!  :)

From here, we were on a multi-use path.  By the time I got to mile 23, (and another enthusiastic greeting!), I had been on the race course for 6 hours.  I was greeted by the Ogden Police on bikes.  One of the policeman struck up a conversation with me and said what a great name I had.  Of course, his name was Bruce as well.  He stuck with me all the way to the end, keeping me company, telling me stories and I felt no pressure at all.  I was being treated like the whole race was all about me.

As I turned onto Grant Avenue, I could see the finish line about a mile away.  Gordon rode up on a bike and was able to go most of the last mile with me until he took off to grab a camera for the finish.   All of the Ogden Police who were on parade duty escorted me in.  I didn't feel like a last place loser, but a true marathoner.  I was given the hero's welcome as I approached the finish line.    

Coming down the finisher's shoot, I was amazed how many people had stuck around to see one tired runner coming in.  I can't count how many high fives I got.  The cowbells being rung just for me were just great!


The fist pump I gave may have seemed a little over the top, but it represented a feeling that rose up in me as I had done something that with a lot of hard work, over many years and had seemed impossible was finally coming to pass.  It was overwhelming to cross that finish line and hear my name announced over the speaker that I was a marathoner!

 These great volunteers gave me such a welcome as they made a tunnel with their arms and gave me a victor's welcome.
 I received my finishers medal and on the other side I was greeted by Gordon, Martha and Mark who I referred to previously.  They will never know how much it meant to me to have them there.  Then much to my surprise, my cousin Teri greeted me as well and told me how proud she was of me.   

I knew the marathon would be hard.  I also knew it would be a great accomplishment when I finished, but what couldn't have known was how overwhelmed I would be by how much the support of family, friends, the Ogden Police and the great Ogden Marathon crew and volunteers would add to my experience.

And thanks to all of you who have followed me along!  I got a lot of comments, emails, Facebook shout-outs, handshakes, phone calls and hugs the days leading up to the run.  Any time that little doubt if I could do it would come in, the thoughts of not letting you all down pushed them out and I dug a little deeper.  I have gained a lot of friends both as runners and fellow bloggers.  My family has been great and my running advisors have all added to the courage to complete the task.

What's next?  Rest up a bit and easy stuff for a couple of weeks, but there is a summer full of adventure ahead.  I will need to gear of for those adventures!

Hang in there and I will too!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Taper and Marathon Training Experience

This week is a taper week. That is if you don't count Saturday because Saturday is anything but a taper. It is the marathon! I'm glad my brother is willing to go up with me. It should be a good experience for both of us. We will head up to Ogden on Friday afternoon. Friday is the only day you can pick up your packet. Rather than drive the 150 mile round trip twice, I booked a room. I am naturally nervous and excited all at the same time.

My son-in-law asked me about training for a marathon. He is considering running one and wanted to know what my experiences have been. I will bullet point some of my experiences.
  • It's the hardest thing I have ever tried to do physically.
  • It is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
  • It is HARD work!
  • You face your doubts every time on every long run. This is important training to finish a long race.
  • Every time on the long run, the last few miles is sooooo hard.
  • Every long run I go in nervous and come out grateful that I got the mileage in.  They keep me humble
  • I have learned a lot about myself.  I can do more than I think I can.
  • Training is just more instructive and character building than the actual race is.  The race is the official payoff.
My biggest fear for the marathon is this statement:
For safety reasons, runners that have not entered Ogden Canyon by 11:30am will be required to board the bus and be transported to the finish line - No Exceptions!
If I can make the 11:30 cut off, I should be able to get it done. It is 17.3 miles. The race starts at 7am. You think I should be able to make it, but there are two big problems. Even though the race starts at 7, I need to be at the back of the pack since I am doing a run/walk approach. I can keep up between a 13- 15 min per mile pace. I'm not sure when I will actually hit the starting gate. Being towards the back will delay the start and eat into the 4.5 hour time limit. But at the same time, if I do the math and based on my longer runs I should be still be fine. It's just a nagging doubt.

The forecast looks good. 75 degrees for the high. Just a bit warm at my projected finish, but it could be a lot worse as we are scheduled for 80's the next couple of days.

Hope you all had a great mother's day. We had a good time with family at our place. I enjoyed cooking fajitas for both my Mom and my wife. They are both great mom's.

Hang in there and I will too!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Bandit and Coach BGoody

I ended up having a great week but for different reasons that I would have thought. One of my son-in-laws was registered to run the Columbus Half Marathon on Saturday, but a death in his family had him fly out west to attend the funeral and spend some time with his family. He asked his sister-in-law, my daughter Rachel, who lives close to Columbus, if there was anyone that she knew who would want to use the registration. After several unsuccessful calls and a comment from her husband, she decided that she would take the registration and run it herself. She has been running and is in great shape, but she has not specifically been training for a half. I believe her longest run lately has been somewhere in the 4-6 mile range. Normally when training for a half, you would at least work up to 10-12 miles on your long runs.
I caught wind of this as part of a Facebook conversation. I thought I might have some good suggestions for her from what I have learned in my couple of years of training, but at the same time, I struggle with getting better and I am not that fast. But I have read, trained and seen what others have done so I thought I had an idea of how she could pull this off.
When I called, she was very open to my suggestions. I asked how fast she could run a mile and how some of here recent runs have gone. I was impressed by her running speed distances so I knew she had a shot at being successful. So I went to Jeff Galloway's site, plugged in her mile rate and it calculated that she could run a 10 minute mile during a half. I then looked up what her run/walk ratio should be and it turned out to be 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking.
Like I said she was very open to the idea. I told her to start at the back of the pack, keep to the side so when she stopped and walked that she would be out of the way. I also told her to not go out too fast. It is better to be a bit slow at first and if you still have extra energy at the end, to finish strong. I told her how I do my nutrition during a longer run.
She did great! She followed my advice to the letter and she finished at about 2:11 which was about 20 minutes better than her previous half. She was exited and now knows that she can do well at the longer distances with the training she is now doing. I was very happy myself. I was glad to be a part of her great race!
So now you know where Coach BGoody fits in. What about the bandit? In racing jargon a bandit is someone who runs in a race without paying. Guess who became an unintentional bandit on Saturday? Your's truly. Let me explain. I was scheduled for my last long run which was a 14 miler. As I explained before, it is good to not only practice your nutrition and pace during your long run, but anything you can do to simulate the course is of great benefit as well. All three of my half marathons as well as the upcoming Ogden Marathon are downhill races. To get used to the pounding, it is good to run a lot of downhill to get ready for what is coming. A good standby for me is to get dropped of up Provo Canyon somewhere and run down to home. I had a good route all planned out to go down South Fork and then catch the trail down from Vivian Park. I woke my son up and we drove up the canyon but found that South Fork was closed due to the Provo City Marathon. I knew the race was Saturday, but forgot that the route started up South Fork. Runners were just pouring down the road! I decided to just start running from Vivian Park where the top of the Provo River Trail is and run down, but that meant running with the half and full marathon runners. Holy cow! The trail was so crowded with runners that I had to carefully merge onto the trail. I tried to keep out of people's way and didn't take any water/sports drinks at the stops. I had my own water and after a couple of miles the crowd thinned out as the faster runners got ahead. So here I am both the bandit and the coach!
I had to readjust my route after I got out of the canyon. I parted ways with the runners when they funneled them all onto the road as I stayed on the trail. As I paralleled the runners before turning and heading west. I saw an older runner plugging along. He couldn't even stand up straight. It was inspiring to see him just keep on going despite an ailment that would be an excuse for most of us to throw in the towel. It was about this time that my daughter texted me and said she had about 1.5 miles left to go and was going strong. It gave me a surge of strength and I got a little teary eyed knowing how happy she was going to be crossing that finish line.
You'll have to squint really hard to see the older runner up ahead.

Long post, I know, but one last story. As I was running along I saw two young runners with shirts on that said, "We're expecting.... and expecting to finish." I couldn't help but catch up to them and tell them that I had one daughter who just had a baby, another who is expecting twins and a daughter who was running a half marathon in Columbus. There were smiles all around!
Hang in there and I will too!