Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting Down and Dirty

Date: 08/26/12
Route:  Merrell Down and Dirty 10K
Distance: 6.2 miles
Total Time: Don't Care
Temp: 82 and Sunny (and very very muddy)

   This was not one of my finer runs. But that was for all the right reasons. They do not lie to you, you will get muddy, very very very muddy. Here is a pic of me crossing the finish line:

   As you might notice, I am a little dirty. Not only do they put you through a mud crawl, they do it twice. One time right before the end so you really come out covered. I am pretty sure they make the mud by taking topsoil and adding water, so it is jet black and nice and sticky. 

   Everything went pretty smoothly in the packet pickup area, and they had a nice race staging area set up so you could get ready. I appreciated the bag drop, so I could have somewhat clean clothes after the race. In fine obstacle race tradition, we started right up a huge hill. The obstacles were well places and spaced out, and unlike some other runs that I have heard of, we did not have huge waits at them. My only real critique of the obstacles was that there were too many mini walls. I loved the water crossing. After running about 5.5 miles, to go out into the lake was incredibly refreshing. I thought I would be all grossed out by wet shoes, but we were close to the finish, and right after that we soon went through the first mud area. 

   It was definitely a different experience then a normal race. Everyone was very chatty on course, and no one was to concerned with their time, and seemed more interested in helping out then getting ahead. If you look close at that picture of me finishing, you will see a grimace. That is becasue I fell on the rock climbing wall and rolled my ankle. I know that climbing walls are fun, but since everyone has really muddy feet, the cleats were VERY slippery, and my foot just slipped off and down I fell.Still a great time, and I am excited to say that The Wife showed some interest in running the 5K with me next year. 

Best Part: The Human Car Wash you can go though in the wash off area
Worst Part: DO NOT wash these clothes with anything else....ever 

So, anyone out there have any mud run reviews/tips?  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back In The Saddle

This is not me. 

So, I have been away. Well not really away, just not writing, or to be honest, running much. It has been a  combination of things: sickness, being busy with other things, and plain old fashioned laziness. I had a monster running month in June with three races, and I dissapointed myself in two of them. Here is a little review:

Flirt with Dirt 10K - 12:31/Mile. This is a pretty nasty trail run in Novi of all places. I ended up running the course (which was considerably harder then last year), with a pace of about 3 seconds per mile faster then last year. I felt great going into this run, but it just did not hold together on the back half of the run. I even ended up walking a few of the nastier hills.

Solstice 10K - 11:07/Mile. I was supposed to run this race with RA, over at Feels Like Flying. I had been training pretty well before the race and felt pretty confident in hitting my goal time of 10:00/mile. We started out running together and we nailed the first mile in 10 minutes. However, there are a set of three nasty hills right at mile 1, and I slowly lost RA as she kept pace and I never was able to catch up to her. She valiantly tried to slow up for me to catch up, but it was to no avail.I ended up running this race 1 second per mile faster then last year. She ended up running the second half very very fast. Here is a fun pic of us after the race

Note that RA is VERY fast.

So I should be back in the saddle, I am training now for my annual Detroit Half, and I have a lofty goal of under 11 minutes per mile. Fun times are ahead for sure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Assaulted by Mother Nature

Date: 05/10/2012

Route: Work 4 Miler
Distance: 4 Miles
Pace: 10:41/mile
Temp: 90 Degrees!
Due to some scheduling changes, I was able to do a run right after work a few days back. I knew it was going to be interesting because I work in Troy. MI amongst a bunch of low rise office buildings. It also turned out interesting because for some reason mother nature had it out for me on this run.
First lets take into account that it was hot out. I had no idea how hot it was until after my run, when I as driving home. As you can see below, it was pretty steamy outside:

So there was that. I was running mostly through a subdivision that was a little lacking in shade, and it quickly got VERY warm. I don't know about you, but I run much better when it is cooler. I think this mostly has to do with being a big guy, I just don't cool off quickly while exercising.

Nature also decided to assault me with maple helicopters. There was a point in my run where I ran by this nature preserve that was all maple trees by the road. I had those helicopter things hitting my in the eye, all over my face, and really everywhere. This was a good quarter mile of running with my hands over my face.

Yeah, these things....thousands of my eyes

Besides being boiled alive by the heat, needing some body armor to protect me from the helicopters (this is starting to sound a lot like the Hunger Games, not a afternoon run), I had to deal with one final obstacle from nature. Some of the things that affect me the most while running are smells. sometimes running by the Thai place smells really good, and other times it just makes you want to puke. 
Well for this run I all of sudden ran by a house whose owner must have had an obsession with lilacs. While normally I like the smell of a lilac, with its deep rich tones; while running it is a totally different story. Those deep rich smells infiltrated my lungs, and all I wanted was clean fresh air, which was already in short supply due to the stiffing heat. There also seemed to be an endless supply of these lilac trees. I....just....wanted....fresh...air.

Finally I emerged from the tunnel of lilacs, and shortly thereafter, my run finished. I was actually not to disappointed in the time, with the heat and unfamiliar running territory. Hopefully I will get a chance to do some more of these runs in the future. 

What about you, what are the worst conditions that mother nature has thrown at you during a run?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nom Nom Nom

One of the highlights of the Martian 10K for me was the chocolate milk after the race. It got me thinking about the way food has evolved as part of the race event. A couple of years ago, it was not uncommon for their to be no provided food after a race. If there was anything it was a:

Now it seems that we are presented with the following at every race:

In recent races,  I have been given free GU on the run, eaten pizza and drank free beer afterwards, and also been given bagels, cookies, bananas, muffins and M & M's. It seems that there has been a food cold war between races lately, as the post-race spread gets more and more elaborate. While this is great in the moments after a run, I don;t want race prices skyrocketing just so we can have a NY strip after the race. Pretty soon races will be $100 and we will get a jacket, a gold belt buckle, a medal, steak after the run, and a 30 minute massage the next week. Sometimes you just want to go out and run.

So readers, a few food related questions:

1. What do you like to eat after a race?
2. Are you excited for the trend in post-race food, or do you like to bring your own food.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Texas, Our Texas

Date: 04/09/12

Route: Texas 4 Miler
Distance: 4 Miles
Pace: 11:15/mile
Temp: 83 Degrees

"Texas, Our Texas" is the state song of Texas. The Wife, who is originally from Texas, tends to hum and sing this whenever we are getting close to going to Texas or are actually there. It turns out that if you are from Texas, you definitely know this song, as it is drilled into your head sometime in junior high. They probably made you ride a wild bull or something until you memorize it. My Texas running adventure unfortunately consisted of just one run, as I got sick late in the week, but here is what it was like:


There, that just about wraps it up.....

So apparently in Texas, it is hotter then in Michigan. Not just hotter, but HOTTER. Here is what I ran through:

Ok, so that might be the Sahara Desert, and it might not have been that hot. To my Midwestern bones though, it felt awfully toasty. The sun just beat down, not  a cloud in the sky, trees were few and far between, as I was running in cattle country. is was also very sandy, the middle portion of the run was on a "road" that was really just a 20' wide strip of sand. All of the sudden I was running on the beach! As this was an out and back, I knew it was going to be fun coming back as well. I also had to keep a watch out for copperhead snakes, as I almost stepped on one earlier in the week.

There were several nice things about the run. The scenery was beautiful, as I was running mostly by cow pastures, so there was grass stretching out to the horizon.  It was also very cool to see so many butterflies, they would flitter past me, while I was running. Apparently the monarch butterfly comes through the area pretty heavily, so I was seeing the tail end of the migration northward. It is strangely calming to run by a herd of several hundred cattle.  They just kind of moo and shuffle along.

I have friends who live and run in Texas, and I have a ton of respect for them. I am sure they would say the same when I am out running in 13 degree January, but honestly, I think heat is more dangerous to a runner then cold.  We have the recent example of the Boston Marathon, which took the unprecedented move to grant weather deferments to anyone who wanted them, because it was going to be 83 out. Heat can do serious things to a body under prolonged stress, and especially people like me who are not the smallest and tend to warm up very quickly.

It was fun to run in a new and different place, but I was glad to put in a few miles tonight in perfect running conditions, about 53 and partly sunny.

So what is the hottest weather you have ever run in, and what was the effect on you?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Abducted by Martians....AHHHHHHHH

Date: 04/14/12
Route:  Martian 10K
Distance: 6.2 miles
Pace: 10.37/mile
Total Time: 1:06:01 - 10K PR!
Temp: 51 and rainy

They call this race an "invasion of races," and they are not kidding. With a marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K and a 5K, the organizers have a full docket for all levels of runner. I was running the 10k today, since I probably am not good enough (YET) to run half marathons three weeks apart and I just ran the Rock CF Half three weeks ago.

I was not able to do a packet pickup on Friday due to flying back from Texas (don't worry, blog post about running in Texas coming soon). I arrived early under a stone grey sky, with occasional rain drops falling. I had to park in a lot with a meter, and only had a ten, so I ended up with a zillion quarters. Lesson for next year is to bring some quarters. Packet pickup was smooth, and I think the shirts are quite funny. Jeff, over at Detroit Runner, disagrees, but I find it quite nostalgic to be running in a space invaders shirt. I stole his shirt picture, because, well....I am lazy and mine was dirty So thanks Jeff! What do you think?

Jeff's shirt, mine is somewhat larger!
I started off very strong considering I am sick with a nasty cough, and was still jet lagged.. My fist mile came in at 10:11, and I was not hyperventilating, so I decided to turn it up and run a couple of sub 10 miles. This may not seem like much, but I have a goal this year of a 10k with an average below 10 min/mile, so it was nice to get a couple of miles at that pace.

After mile three, we really entered the nicest part of the course, winding through Hines Park and the University of Michigan - Dearborn campus. The problem was I was slowing down! I could not really pinpoint the reason, everything seemed to be working. I will just chalk it up to jet lag and sickness. I cruised across the finish line at 1:06:01, or 10:37/mile. My Garmin had me at 10:33/mile, so that was pretty darn close.

I am very happy with the time, given the conditions. This was a 10K PR for me by over 3 minutes, or 35 seconds per mile. I am pretty confident that I will be able to bust though that 10 minute barrier this running season. My best 10K run last year was in June, so I am running faster, even while sick, earlier in the season then last year, so I guess I cannot complain.

At the finish, there was ample food and drink, these guys know how to organize a bunch of runners. The best part was chocolate milk! I love chocolate milk after a race, and to get a nice cold jug of it was great. I would bring my own, but I have no way to keep it cold, and it is best really cold. The medal was pretty snazzy as well.

Overall, I would give this race an excellent rating. Some, including Jeff, are not fans of the half here because it is essentially a out and back course, but the 10K course is scenic and fast. So I would highly recommend this as a 10K, and probably will be running it again next year. Next race on the schedule is the Back to the Beach Half, but it is over a month away, I am going to focus on getting well and putting in some miles.

Luckily the Martians returned me safe and sound back to the homestead in Plymouth. All is well.


1. Do you have any strategies for running though sickness?
2. What do you think of that crazy shirt?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


With apologies to Eminem for stealing the title of his most recent release, let me preface this by saying rather then recovering from some drug additicion, I am talking about recovering from a half marathon. I know, not nearly as exciting.

When I was running my first half, back in 2009, I saw a sign along the course that said "you don't need toenails anyway." This being my first long run, I kind of chuckled and kept going. After the race, when I changed my shoes, I saw one of my toenails was black...very appetizing. Sure enough, it fell off and I was sans one toenail for a while.It took me FOREVER to recover from this race. I believe I went home and took a 3 hour nap. I did not move for a couple of days and certainly did not run for a few weeks.

After this last half, I did nothing you could call exercise till Thursday, and then it was a 30 minute bike ride in the gym followed by light weights. This time I was happy with my recovery, and I ran a good training run on Sunday. This week it is back to the normal 4 and 6 mile runs during the week with some weights mixed in. I hope to one day be able to run a half and then get that twitchy leg feeling I get if I have not run in a while the day after the race.

My good friend, RA, just ran a half and had to take a few weeks off, and she is way fast, so I do not think there is a correlation between fitness level and recovery time. Some people just keep right on trucking, and there probably is a correlation between average miles per day and recovery time. If you are used to running 12, then a day with 13 is no big deal.We are all different, and it amazes me how different people and different bodies deal with the stress of running a half or full.

So here are some questions:

1. What do you do to help your post-race recovery?

2. How long do you usually wait after a half to resume your running schedule?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Rocked Rock CF

Date: 03/25/12
Route:  Rock CF Half Marathon
Distance: 13.1 miles
Pace: 11:48/mile
Total Time: 2:34:29
Temp: 54 and cloudy

I was a little worried going into this race, as I have had a very bad week or so with running. I tried to do a long run last week of 12 miles, and ended up doing about 3 and deciding to sit down and rest. Mostly that was due to recovering from Pinkeye (funtimes, that), and trying to run before I was really ready

The weather dawned cool and cloudy, perfect for a half. I had crashed at my Aunt's house, which was only about 15 minutes away from the start, which helped me be able to sleep a little later. I arrived about 6am, so I was able to check in with plenty of time. I am one of those annoying people who get to races with an hour or more to space because I cannot stand being rushed on race morning. 

After getting all decked out with the Garmin, Gu's etc, and hitting to porta potties, I went over to the start line. I was looknig for a friend of mine from way back in HS, Brad Thomas, who I saw was going to be there on Facebook. Brad has an amazing and inspirational story. We ran together back in HS, and he was one of those fast people. Last year Brad had a tow truck roll on top of him, breaking several bones and ribs and doing severe damage to his hip. The doctors told him that he might never walk again, and certainly would not be doing distance running. So the fact that I might be able to run with him for his first post accident (16 screws and 3 plates in the hip later) half was something I was looking forward to.

We were able to meet up just before the start and then we were off. I had set some modest goals for the run given my sickness over the past few weeks. Brad was just hoping to finish, and maybe crack a 13 min/mile pace. We agreed to run together for the first couple of mile and then reevaluate.We came out pretty well, pacing the first three at 11:28, 11:31 and 11:33, that is pretty consistent. Brad was worried about going to fast, and I had basically made the decision to stick it out with him. We dialed it back a tad, but still maintained a sub 12 pace.

The scenery on this race is amazing. Grosse Ile is a generally upper income community located on an island in the Detroit River. So we did a lot of running by VERY large houses, and almost the entire course was right on the water.  Great view for almost the entire race. The weather stayed cool and cloudy, and we kept ticking off the miles. The water stations were very well laid out, probably about every two miles, so that was nice. They even had a station giving out GU packets! You can never go wrong with some GU.

As we got closer to ten miles, I could feel my legs starting to revolt, and Brad was in the same situation. We slowed down a little, but still kept up a good pace. Mile ten was our slowest mile, at 13:11, and that was mostly because Brad had to do a wardrobe change to shed his long sleeve tee. We finished fairly strong, with Brad 2 seconds behind me. Our pace was 11:48/mile, which I was happy with, and Brad was ecstatic with. Here is the post race pic:

Overall, the race was extremely well run, and has definite PR potential. A couple of bloggers I follow PR'd at this race including Megan over at Watch MeGo Run and Rose at Hacker Half Marathon who PR's be an amazing 11 minutes! Did I maybe run a little slower to stay with Brad? Possibly, but also possibly not. I was worried about even being able to run this, and maybe his company helped push me to the finish line. 

So a couple of questions:

1. What is you morning of race routine?
2. How long do you take off after a half?
3. Who saw Hunger Games over the weekend? 

Here is my cool Garmin widget so everyone can spy on my entire race:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Eyes are Smiling

Date: 03/11/2012
Route:  Corktown 5K
Distance: 3.1 miles
Pace: 9:14/mile
Total Time: 28:44
Temp: 62 and sunny

The first race of 2012 is in the books! The sun was shining, the temp was in the low 60's and me and about 8000 of my closest friends decided to amble up Michigan Avenue in Detroit. I had an internal goal of at least tying my best time from last year, 28:46 at the Jamesers 5k in October. I thought there might be an outside chance I could hit my year goal in the first 5k of the season, which is to run one in under a 9 minute per mile pace.

I started off strong, rocking to "Don't Let Me be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmerelda. This song was such a great motivator, I would listen to only it for the full 5k. With the warm weather (I actually had to wear sunscreen!), my legs were quickly warmed up and the first mile flew by in 8:48.This was right about where I wanted to be, maybe even a little slower. The problem was that with so many people starting, it was very hard to get in a set rhythm early. As the pack thinned a little bit I was able to catch my stride.

The first half of mile 2 went by very quickly. Once you cross into Downtown, it seems it is only a minute and you are turning around at Campus Martius. The trip back was not so kind. I felt strong all the way through the end of mile 2, but by mid mile 3 I was fading. The great part about this race is that you are running along a parade route, so there are literally thousands of people cheering you on. This was a great motivator, and one thing that seperates this race from many. No lonely finishes here.

As I came into the slight turn toward the finish shoot, I was able to kick it in pretty well, and I am glad I did, becasue I beat my PR by two seconds. The atmosphere at this race is top notch. While running I saw at least 3 runners stop to shotgun beers given to them by the crowd. While I do not in any way condone drinking while running, it does give you an idea of the atmosphere of the race. It feels like a giant party where a run broke out.

Another crazy note, someone who I ran HS cross country with was also in the race and finished 12 seconds ahead of me, out of 8K runners. I tried to find him before the race, but it was pretty much impossible. Hopefully we can do some runs together in the future.

No rest for the weary though, my first half of the season is in two weeks! I am excited to run the Rock CF Half on Grosse Isle for the first time, it has gooten rave reviews from some of my runner friends. That means that this weekend is the dreaded long run of 12+ miles. Hopefully this weather holds out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Down and Dirty

Last night I ran a mile in 8:35. For most serious runners, this is slow, but for me it is pretty amazing. As a bonus it was outside, in the amazing 65 degree weather. So kudos on that.

Recently I received a race mailer, which I am sure all you runners out there are used to being bombarded with. This one was for the "Down and Dirty" Merrell Mud Run 10K. I have been wanting to try out one of these obstacle course races for a while, but they are always too far away. The Tough Mudder for Detroit, for expample, is acually between Toledo and Cleveland, not exacly a quick car ride away. This one however, is being held at Kensington Metro Park in Milford, so it is not far away.

Here is a pic from their website, looks fun right:

Here is the course info:

What do you think? Should I give it a go?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hot and Cold

Date: 02/26/2012
Route: Hines Park 9 Miler
Distance: 9 Miles
Pace: 10:22/mile
Temp: 36 Degrees
Wind Chill of 24 degrees

One month to go. The official half marathon countdown has begun! With the Rock CF Half Marathon exactly 1 month away, training has gotten hot and heavy as of late. 9 miles was planned today, and 9 miles were completed with no problems, even a little faster then I thought I would. Next weekend will probably be the same and then I have the Corktown Races 5K, always my first race of the year and always a blast. My semi-official goal is to match my best 5k time from last year at my first 5k this year. Then it is the long run and the race.

This is by far the most aggressive running schedule I have ever had. I have never run more then 1 half in a year, and this year I have three scheduled. Usually I have a nice long slow ramp up to the Detroit Half in October; instead this year my second race is a half. Needless to say I am excited and a little anxious.

My real problem running lately has been temperature. It seems to be too warm for my snazzy NbX Windblocker, but too cold to run in my standard pullover. This results in a true paradox. If I run with the NbX jacket, I start off fine, but get too warm in about 2 miles, however if I run in the pullover I never quite get warm enough. I will be excited when the temp starts hanging out in the low to mid 40’s because that is perfect pullover weather. My luck we will jump right to the 60’s, which I guess is not something to realy complain about. Here is a nice snazzy pic from this 9 mile run:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentines, Waffles and 4 Miles

Date: 02/14/12
Route: Treadmill
Distance: 4 Miles
Pace: 9:37 mile
Song That Started Me Off: “Hello” by Martin Solveig
Song That Brought Me Home: “What is Love?” By Haddaway

So for my amazingly romantic Valentines Day evening, I went to the gym. I would call that lame, but The Wife and I are celebrating our V-Day on Friday night. Life with a toddler works off of childcare availability, not strictly off the calendar.  

The gym was surprisingly full, but I was there earlier then normal, at about 7:45pm. Usually I am one of those people that show up when everyone else is leaving, around 9:30-10pm. There were even some couples there together…nothing like sweating together to make a relationship grow. I suppose it is better then Waffle House!

One of my goals for 21012, and honestly the one I think will be the toughest, is to run a 5K in under 9 minutes a mile. My PR was last year at the Jamesers 5K, where I ran 9:15 per mile. So some of my treadmill running has been focused on 4 mile runs, as I figure that will make the 5K's more tolerable. I also have been trying to run negative splits, and I was able to accomplish that tonight as well. 

The run was proceeding very well until that last half mile. I suppose that this is how you know you are pushing your body a bit, buy the fact that it protests that last little bit. I really had to focus on my breathing the last half mile. Personally, if my breathing rhythm falls apart my body quickly follows. So I was able to hold it together, and finished with a 4 mile pace of 9:37 per mile. See empirical proof below.

With the Corktown Races here in about a moth, I am feeling pretty good about matching my PR from last year, which is my goal for this race.  Hopefully as I keep training, I can start running some practice runs under 9 a mile. How is your spring race training going?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

9 Miles of Taylor Swift

Date: 02/05/12
Route:   Hines Park 6 Miler + Bonus 3 Miles
Distance: 9 Miles
Pace: 10:46mile
Temp: 40 (felt more like 50)
Annoying Song Stuck In My Head: Some mashup of all of Taylor Swift’s abhorrent pop songs.

I had planned a nice 8 mile run as I am slowly ramping up distance to my half marathon on the 25th of March. It was a beautiful day outside though and I found myself challenging my body to run farther. Usually at about the 4 mile mark, I start the turn around and head back to my house. Today I decided to just keep on running.

It was very rejuvenating to add some unseen terrain to my run. I think it is easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to your running courses. I was to the point that I knew within about 20 feet where the mile marks were on my standard 6 mile course. It was definitely time to change things up a bit. Adding the distance was just a mechanism.

I was having a great time running in new territory, the only problem was every step forward would have to be duplicated on the way back. After running though a nice picnic area, I circled back and started to head home. While the last mile was kind of tough, and I needed a bit of downtime after the run to recover, it felt really good to cover this distance with a month and half to go before my first half of the year. I know for sure I was not running 9 miles in February last year, so hopefully this is a good sign of things to come. The only bad thing: Taylor Swift stuck in my head…..I mean really?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Treadmills…Yuck! Treadmills…Yeah!

I think hardcore runners despise treadmills. It is so EASY to assume the attitude that YOU (awesome runner person), are above the lowly treadmill. Treadmills are for the unwashed masses. Treadmills are what the flabby office jockey hits up for 10 minutes, boosting his ego and letting him eat another bag of Doritos.  The serious runner, well he runs, outside, in the elements. 60 minutes, the maximum time the gym overloads let someone use a treadmill, while adequate for the 5k trainee, hardly handles half of a real runner’s race distance. 

I was recently reminded why none of this is true.

I had gone quite a few months without a gym membership, but running at night has become difficult lately because there is a chance that there are icy patches I would not see. The idea of wiping out and breaking an ankle 3 miles from home was not a good one. For safety sake, I relented and signed up with Planet Fitness in Northville, for $10 a month.

 This has already made a huge difference with my running, allowing me to train more consistently at night, without the risk of a debilitating slip and fall accident. I also get the added benefit of being able to do some strength training and getting some entertainment in. I mean who does not want to watch a Gold Rush marathon on Discovery while running 7 miles?

So I have dropped my disdainful attitude regarding the treadmill. I still much prefer to run outside, in the fresh air, feeling the terrain under my shoes, but I have learned to appreciate what the treadmill offers. What about you, are you a treadmill snob, or a loyal user?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes

How do you do it?

Why do you do it?

What do you eat?

Are you insane?

These are the four questions that Dean Karnazes sets out to answer in his book “Ultra-Marathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner.” Apparently almost all of these questions can be answered by one word….pizza.  First, the story of how all of this started.

Apparently the way to get into great shape involves copious amounts of bad tequila and mid-life crisis. Dean, out for his thirtieth birthday, took off into the night in a drunken haze, running all through the night (in dress socks), and ending up 30 miles away, with convulsing muscles, swollen feet, and a restored pride. This was to be the beginning of one of the greatest careers in ultra running the world has known.

Back to the pizza. Whenever Dean runs, he needs fuel. You cannot physically run the distances he does without eating. He has found one of the best methods for fueling up is having a pizza delivered to a street corner and meeting the delivery driver. Apparently complex carbs and fat is no problem while running for 36 hours straight. His other favorites are Pedialyte and any of the nasty stuff on those roller grills at 7-11. With 5% body fat, I think he can afford the occasional greasy pizza.

Dean has run everything from the Western States 100 miler, to 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He has also participated in the only marathon to ever be held in Antarctica, and raced acrossDeath Valley. The man epitomizes extreme running.Scientific analyses has confirmed that while his body produces lactic acid (the stufdf that makes your muscles become useless and start twitching) like the rest of us, he also has a mechanism to reduce that lactic acid WHILE running. This means the only limit on his running is fuel and sleep.

The book is a great recount of his journey from marginal HS cross country runner who stopped moving for 15 years to a world class athlete.  Dean has a great writing style, kind of along the lines of the style used by Andre Agassi in “Open.” You will often know what was going on in his head during one of these events. I highly encourage you to pick up borrow this book from your local library and give it a read. It is inspiring to read about what the human body is capable of. Dean is a firm believer that all of us have a runner inside, it may not be  a 100 mile runner, but nonetheless, we are all capable of running long distances. He at least has me thinking a marathon is not crazy at all. I mean he runs them to WARM UP!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Slog

Date: 01/22/2012
Route:   Hines Park 6 Miler
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Pace: 10:55/mile
Temp: 22 with a wind chill of 12

I knew this was coming.  All winter long, my runs have been great. The weather has been very cooperative. Not today. We received about 3 inches of snow on Friday night, and none of it had melted. The JD clan had even visited the Plymouth Ice Festival on Saturday. This was a workout in and of itself, as we pulled the wagon with CE in it to Downtown Plymouth and back (about 1.5 miles). Here are some pics of me pulling the wagon and at the ice festival with CE.

So of course I took off on a planned 6 mile run. Cold was not an issue, in fact for most of the run I was caught in that zone where you are really to warm, but you cannot cool off because you would freeze. All of my Northern friends would be familiar with this feeling while shoveling.  While I was running I kept noticing that my feet were very toasty warm, and I could not figure out why. I was also experiencing some foot irritation, which did not make sense at all. I was basically running in snow about 2-3 inches deep, with a couple of footprints in it.

Around mile 4 of this run, I came to a section where the sidewalk I run on is right next to a busy road. This was a disaster. All of the cars driving had thrown up about 3 more inches of slush on top of the snow. So for about 3/4 of a mile I was running through 4-5 inches of snow./slush mix. I say running, but the more accurate description would be slogging. Every foootfall pushed piles of snow around and I had no grip at all. How I managed to run that mile in 11:32 is beyond me. I needed snowshoes or skis.

After that section, I had to take a walking break. I suppose it was a great workout, my muscles certainly felt that way. After walking about a half mile, I finished up the run, still on slippery sidewalks with plenty of snow. When I returned home, I realized why my feet were so warm but also irritated. I had ran in REI hiking socks! By accident in the rush to get out the door I had not changed into running socks. While warm, they definitly irritated my feet. I DO NOT recommend running in hiking socks.

Man was I wiped out by this run. Has anyone out there ever experienced something similar, an unexpected obstacle in an otherwise normal run?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter....Finally or NBx Windblocker Jacket Review

Date: 01/15/2012
Route:   Hines Park 4 Miler
Distance: 4 Miles
Pace: 10:52/mile
Total Time: 43:29
Temp: 22 with a wind chill of 13

So alas, La Nina, or global warming, or some funky thing with the jet stream could not keep winter away forever, and we finally have seen some traditional winter weather around metro Detroit. Sunday dawned cold and clear, with some leftover snow in the ground from some Saturday light snow showers. I was eager to get out and try a run in the colder weather with my snazzy New Balance NBx Windblocker Jacket.

I ended up getting a later start then expected because...well...things happen when you have a 19month old. So I left the house at about 4:45pm all bundled up against the cold. My first reaction with the new jacket on was WOW, this thing lives up to it's name. The jacket shed wind like it was not there. As I started to warm up the jacket became this warm, cozy shell against the elements, I could tell I was getting nice and toasty. This was actually refreshing, and I believe it helped me warm up faster. The thumb holes on the jacket were also excellent, allowing me to keep most of my hand inside the sleeve. The fit is nice as well, I would say cut athletically without trying to be a second skin. This was important to be as a big guy with broad shoulders. I do not like wearing skin tight clothes! This jacket allows freedom of movement while still keeping close to your body. Due to the fact that this jacket has more pockets then I can count, I was able to take along my cell phone, so a I got this beautiful pic just after mile 1 of the sun going down over a crest above the park.

So I continued along me way, continually on the look out for icy patches. Mostly everything was just covered in a nice 1/2" thick coating of nice crunchy snow, so I did not encounter any footing issues. I was definitely running slower then normal, as I was running in a more upright stance to avoid the chance of slipping. I did see some YakTrax tracks in the snow, (Raquelita over at Running Historian talks about these more, as she actually own them.) which made me think they would not be a bad idea if I want to run in the park all winter. By the way it makes no sense to say out load "YakTrax tracks," it just messes with your head.

The run was definitely enjoyable, I actually find cold weather running to be quite refreshing. The new jacket exceeded expectations, and I would give it a hearty thumbs up for anyone looking for cold weather running gear. Soon time will come to start gearing up the distance for the half marathon I have planned in March.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Rearview Mirror

This week has been kind of slow on the running front. It has been a combination of Christmas tree removal (We have a real one and it is a two day process to take everything off of it, take it down and clean up), and just general activity. I was looking over some of my times on the nifty new race results page that I have created, and thinking about how my training has been going. It it amazing how far I have come in just a few short years.

In 2011, which was the first year in a while that I had run with any kind of seriousness, I had a very elusive goal. It was to run a 5K in under 10 minutes a mile. This eluded me through two races in 2011. My best time was an amazingly close 10:01/mile in the Plymouth Fathers Day 5K in June. I felt like I was flying through that race. When I saw the time on the clock as I finished I sprinted as fast as I could to try and beat that barrier, but to no avail. It would take until a race in October, just a few weeks before my half marathon run for me to break the 10 minute barrier, and I would smash it, coming in at 9:15 a mile, and this was in REALLY cruddy weather. To give some perspective on my 5k times in 2011, here they are in order:

Corktown Races 5k, March 13th, 2011, 33:18, 10:43/mile
Plymouth YMCA Fathers Day 5k, June 19th, 2011,  31:09, 10:01/mile

It was amazing to cross that finish line at 9:15/mile, I almost did not believe it. Oh don't worry, I know that in the grand scheme of things I am slow, and I am ok with that, but it is always good to accomplish your goal. Taking 4.5 minutes off your 5K time is pretty impressive. I more write this to speak to anyone out there who is thinking of running, and lamenting how slow they are.....its ok, everyone is slow when they start. If anyone can prove that even the most out of shape individual can start seeing drastic improvements with some practice, it is me. 
So get out there and run.

If you thought last year was nuts, here is a recap of my 2012 goals concerning time:

1. Run a 5k in under 9 minutes a mile

2. Run a 10k in under 10 minutes a mile
3. Run a half marathon in under 11 minutes a mile

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Warm Weather and A Wife on the Run

Date: 01/08/2012
Route:  8 Miles through Hines Park
Distance: 8 Miles
Pace: 10:28/mile
Total Time: 1:23:45
Temp: 35, Sunny

It has been a pretty great week for physical activity around the JD household. The amazingly warm weather around  Detroit continued throughout last week, with Jan 6th coming in at 55! degrees, and highs in the 40's for most of the week. I have taken advantage of this by having a great running week. I ran 4 miles on Wednesday, 3.1 on Friday and 8 today. I figure I better take advantage of this weather while it lasts. While it has been warm, I am counting on a harsh late winter and and spring.

Something else strange happened on Saturday afternoon. The Wife occasionally goes out for a short jog, just to get some physical exercise in. She has NEVER been serious about running or even worrying about how fast she goes. So off she goes on one of these short runs, but in this case we strapped the Garmin 405 to her wrist. I was taking care of CE and starting to get a little bit concerned, as The Wife had been gone over 30 minutes. We are watching out the window, and all of the sudden she appears running down the street, and then she runs right by the house. Now this does not make any sense to me, but she does a lap around the block and comes into the house with a huge grin on her face.

It turns out she ran a 5K. She did not set out to do that, but as she hit milestones, she just kept thinking, "I can do a bit more." I always knew she could run that kind of distance if she wanted to, in fact I am sure she could be faster then me if she wanted to. Trust me, she is built much more like the prototypical runner then myself. If she keeps this up, we can be one of those annoying couples running together with CE in the stroller:

Our Future...HA!

I am hoping to get her into a 5K race this summer, as we all know, once you are in a race, there is no turning back. I was just glad to see how excited she was, running is a passion of mine, and I would love ot be able to share it with her.

Coming later this week, I am going to review a book I recently read, "Ultra Marathon Man" by Dean Karnazes. My preview is simply one word...Wow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bugjuice, Bad Movies and a 5K

Date: 12/31/2011
Route:  Belle Isle New Years Eve 5K
Distance: 3.1 miles
Pace: 9:28/mile
Total Time: 29:22
Temp: In the low 40's

I was carpooling to this race with three "gentlemen," who all loosely belong to a Facebook running group I am a member of. In true JD style, they are all faster then me. So getting to the race involved driving to Canton, then Dearborn, then Detroit. Always interesting conversation with a crew like this. Some running chatter mixed in with movie trivia (seriously, movies I had never heard of, these guys are practically ancient) ;). It is always nice to have company at a race, even if it is someone to identify your body afterwards.

The atmosphere was festive, quite a good crowd there. We were dismayed that with so many people running, there were only 4 porta johns. I firmly believe that race directors use some sort of arcane math formula to get the number of porta johns to have on race day.

Here is an example for this race:
(X + Y + Z / 200,000) x .0001 = P

Entrants = X
Expected Spectators = Y
Workers and Volunteers = Z
# of porta johns to have on hand = P

I think they use this formula and then add 1 just to "be safe". Craziness

I had almost no expectations going into this race. The weather was toasty for December, great running weather. I have a goal of running a sub 9 minute mile pace for a 5k this year, but I figure that will come later once I am in hard core training mode for all the half's I am going to run this year. My last 5K, was the Jamesers 5k, which I magically won my age division at a blistering 9:18/mile pace. I was hoping to get under 9:30/mile, but would have been fine with anything under 10.

I also was going to use my new Garmin Forerunner 405, that had arrived 29 hours before race start time. So part of my goal in the race was to check out the results and see if they were helpful. Full review of the 405, including performance at this race soon.

So we take off and I am pressing the pace a little, picking it up in the last quarter mile of the first mile. I crossed the first mile at 8:53, right about where I wanted to be. This was also nice because we had a chance to pass by the Scott Fountain, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately the scenery went downhill quickly. Mostly in mile 2, we got to see some of the old abandoned structures on the island. It is very sad, because it is clear that Belle Isle was once very beautiful. Don't get me wrong, it is not like there was trash everywhere, and drug dealers hanging out, it was just...shabby. You could tell that maintenance was not getting done. Everything looked like it could use a coat of paint.

At the 2 mile mark we were right by the conservatory, which did look very nice. I felt myself slowing down, there was just not much in the tank to push the pace that third mile. I was very happy with my pace up to that point. As we ran by the Dossin Great Lakes Museum (wow could this place use a new building), I was in that situation where some people were starting to pass me, and I hate that. In the Detroit Half, it was great starting slow and then passing people for 10 miles, great motivation. So I tried to pick up the pace but no avail, the body was unwilling.

I cruised across the finish line, and checked the Garmin, which said I had ran 3.18 miles, so it gave me a pace of 9:14 a mile, but taking that time for 3.1 miles it gave me 9:28 a mile. I guess I have no reason to be mad, but it frustrated me that I could not pick up the speed in that third mile. So that is my goal going forward in 5k's, to push myself in the 3rd mile. I know I said I would give a full Garmin review later, but if you want to check out the page for this race, click here (I do LOVE the map feature)

So end result was right about where I had expected to be. I think getting in the 8's is going to be harder then I thought. After the race, there was the requisite bananas and  bagels, but there was also something called Bugjuice Naturals, which is a mixture of fruit juice, vegetable juice and milk....and man is it tasty. If some marketing guy from that company wants to send me a case, I will sing their praises for a while :). Apparently it is something new because it is not even available on their website yet. Back to the training grind, the next race is a half in March!