Monday, July 28, 2014

Half-Marathon This Weekend

Photo of little Savannah ... for no reason other than she's beautiful!
My pseudo-internet-friend - Grace, of How I Complicated My Life Today - will think I made the following decision based on her prompting, but honestly I'd been looking for a summer Half-Marathon for some time.  This weekend I'll make the drive to Minneapolis to run the 12 Annual Urban Wildland Half-Marathon.  The race is actual in Richfield, MN, close to the Mall of America, so hopefully I won't get shot before, after, or during the race.  The "Twin-Cities" are about an 8-hour drive from home, so hopping in the car after the race won't be as bad as driving after a marathon.

I'm not a big "medal guy", and most of the time couldn't care less if they give a medal or not.  But when I found out that this race DOES NOT have finisher medals, I was actually kind of disappointed.  I guess I've just been conditioned to receiving a medal after a race of that distance ... but I'm sure I'll live.

The only medals awarded are for the Age Group Winners, and I won't be fast enough to place in my Age Group in this race.  For starters, the groups are divided into 10 year increments, instead of the usual 5, so my Age Group will be 40-49.  So to win, I would have to beat a bunch of folks younger than me.  But that aside, The top times in this bracket last year were about four or five guys running 1:22's ... I'm not in that league. So undoubtedly, I'll be coming home empty handed.

But the main reason for running the race is not, nor is it ever, receiving a medal.  It's to test myself.  And right now I think I'm faster than I've ever been.  My Half-Marathon PR is 1:28:06, but based on my training times, I think I should run quite a bit below that.  The course is supposed to be flat and fast, but who knows, weird things happen on race day sometimes, so I'll just play it by ear this weekend.

This is a recovery week for in my marathon training.  So I'll get some rest, reduce my mileage, and try to get ready for a really strong race on Saturday.  And hopefully, on Sunday, I'll have a new PR to report!  Have a great week!
... be great today!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Public Speaking Made Me A Better Runner

This was a verrrrrry casual training session with one of my Distributors ...
notice I didn't even take off my jacket, and the attendees look
"completely riveted" to what I'm explaining - ha
Even though I have a Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources Management, I have never worked one day of my life in the HR field.  Weird, I know.  I'm actually a sales rep for a national construction chemical company that manufactures products like curing compounds, concrete sealants, epoxies, waterproofing, stuff for pools, etc.  I deal primarily with architects, engineers, distributors (who sell our products for us), and some commercial contractors.  And while I spend most of my time visiting job sites, and trying to convince other sales reps to stock my products, I also spend a fair amount of time at public speaking events.  These events can be something small like 25 people in an informal  training session over our products, as in the photo.  Or it can be a lot more technical, speaking to a room full of 100-150 architects and engineers about industry standards and technology.  But regardless of the size of the event, I've learned that there are many principles I can draw from public speaking that make me a better runner on race day.

1. Make It Small ... One of the things that has really helped me reduce nervous energy before even the biggest speaking engagement, is to focus on the fact that even though it's a big day for me, it's just another day at work for everyone in attendance.   To most of the audience, I'm just another speaker rambling about his products ... and there will be another "me" from another company, in front of them next week talking about something else.  And for some reason, this minimization of the event has actually helped me keep things in perspective and not blow it up bigger in my mind than it should be ... which is where nervousness comes from.  Translated to running a race ... Even if it's a "goal race", I've really began focusing on the fact that there will always be other races, and whether I do really well ... or bomb ... the world's gonna keep on turning and most people couldn't care less - ha.  Sure, if I do well, I'll probably get a couple of "Great job Jim"'s!  But at the end of the day, it's probably not life changing for anyone.  Keeping the event in perspective has really been a positive step in settling the pre-speaking engagement, and pre-race nerves that waste so much energy.

2.  Don't Get Out Over My Skis ... Some of the topics I present can be fairly technical.  If I'm not careful, I can start to ramble and go down "technical avenues" that I'm not prepared to cover in front of a large group of people.  It's important for me to stay on track, stay focused, and understand that I control the room and can take it in any direction I choose.  This is important in my running and racing as well ... I absolutely have to "stay within myself" to be successful.  If I find myself running a 10K pace in a marathon, it's important for me to dial it in quickly and get back on track. If I run the way I've practiced and don't get out of control, it's typically a good result.  But if I start to run at paces I'm not capable of, the result can be disastrous.

3.  One Mistake Won't Kill Me ... Something interesting I've picked up on from years of public speaking, is that when I make a mistake ... most people don't even notice.  Now, even though I fancy myself as a pretty talented speaker, it's very likely that audiences just tune me out, and I could be inaccurate about almost anything and it would go undetected.  But as long as I don't let it bother me, most of the time it doesn't bother the people in attendance.  This is important for me in running a race too.  When I first started running, if everything wasn't perfect, I would freak out a little.  I would stress about my shoes being a little tight, or my iPod going dead, or my watch tracking my pace incorrectly, or the race being too congested, or one of my splits being a little too slow or fast, etc.  But none of these small things really mattered in the overall outcome.  And I've learned over the years to tell myself, no matter what happens, "This will not affect my race ... just power through it".  It takes some mental toughness at times, but I try to stay as positive as possible and not let these little things become big distractions.

4.  Practice = Confidence ... While I've never been a Toast Master (and have no interest in it), I work very hard at presenting my information better and more effectively than my competitors.  Yes, you know by now I'm competitive.  So as "8th Grade Speech Class" as it sounds, I practice everything I'm going to present ... audibly.  I never want the first time a particular point in my presentation gets spoken out loud to be on the day of the presentation.  So I practice everything.  I also spend time thinking of questions engineers might ask me, and visualizing different settings so I'm comfortable whatever the environment.  I labor over knowing every little intimate detail of the information.  And when I walk into a room to present the material, if I've prepared the way I should have, I have an extreme amount of confidence and know that things will go well.  Similarly, on race day, if I've prepped for almost every scenario possible, and truly put in the work, there should really be no surprises when the gun sounds.  Creating the race condition over and over in practice ... specifically pace ... has been one of the main ways I've experienced success on race day.

5.  Everybody Loves Stories ... Something that's a little challenging at times is making a technical seminar interesting.  But one of the best ways I've found to maintain attentiveness is to share stories or photos from job site experiences, explaining how a particular product worked in a specific application.  I can drone on for hours with stats and calculations that serve no other purpose than a fantastic sleep-aid.  But the second I begin a story from a real-world application, all eyes immediately focus on me and I usually have everyone's attention again.  As strange as it sounds, I try to use this principle in a race too.  After the race is over, I can tell you about my splits, the overall pace, etc ... but pretty much no one's gonna care.  But I if I tell you about a particular interesting person that I ran next to, or something unique about the venue, it seems to impact people a little more.  So as silly as it sounds, on race day I try to keep my eyes and ears open to take in as much as the experience as possible.  Noting the little details about the race as I run, keeps my mind off of how bad my legs hurt or how out of breath I feel, which seems to help me run a little better.  But most importantly, those little details make it so much more interesting for the reader or listener at a later date.

So there they are ... the five main ways that I've related public speaking to running.  I've found that both take a lot of work to be successful.  But if I'm willing put in the time and dedication, it usually results in a fairly successful event.  Hope your week is going well!
... be great today!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fall Race Schedule ... Join Me!

Following is my semi-set-in-stone, but completely subject to change, 2014 Fall race schedule.  I'd planned on a couple more races on both coasts, but our airplane budged took a little bit of hit this year due to several family issues, so our travel/race plans were altered a little.   If you're doing one of these races, I would love to meet you!

Urban Wildland Half-Marathon
August 2, 2014
Richfield, MN

This is a race I recently added because, frankly, I'm faster than I've ever been right now, and don't want to waste it all on training miles.  Plus, it fits really well into my marathon training schedule.  I can't imaging I won't PR at the race because at 1:28:09, my Half-Marathon PR is probably a little slower than it should be.  But crazy things happen on race day, so we'll see.

Pocatello Marathon
August 30, 2014
Pocatello, ID

This will be my first attempt at a 3-hour marathon, but honestly as always, the first goal is just to finish.  The second goal is to PR, even if only by a second.  I really don't think I'll be fast enough for a 3-hour marathon by then ... if ever.  There just seems to be a world of difference between averaging a 6:49/pace for a few miles during training, and for a full 26.2 miles on race day.  Right now, I feel like it will be a really good race considering the first part of the course is downhill.  But the 5,000 feet of altitude might have something to say about the outcome.  I'll try to get out there a few days early to get acclimated.

Plaza 10K
September 14, 2014
Kansas City, MO

If this race were more than two weeks after my marathon, I might actually "guarantee" a PR.  But I've tried that in the past and failed, plus, after running a marathon only 14 days prior, I'm not sure how much I'll be recovered.  But it's a really great race that I PR'd last year with a 38:41, and I should be able to run it fairly well again this year.

Prairie Fire Half-Marathon
October 10, 2014
Wichita, KS

This race WILL by my revenge on this course.  As you might recall, a few years ago I ran probably the worst marathon of my life here, considering my expectations of myself.  I crashed at mile 20, and after feeling like I would PR going in, I ran my second worst time ever.  And even though I won't be running the full marathon at this race this year ... I promise you I run down this flaming rabbit and kick his butt ... hopefully for my best race of the year ... and a half-marathon PR.  The course is flat and fast and ready to be had!

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
November 1, 2014
Indianapolis, IN

This is what I would consider my "A" race of the Fall.  It will be my second attempt at a 3-hour marathon, and it's the perfect course for it!  I ran this race a few years ago, and basically I LOVE any race in Indy.  It's a wonderful town that's flat and perfect for running.  And if everything goes as planned, hopefully it will be my fastest marathon ever ... and if the stars align ... maybe I'll be a sub-3 hour marathoner!

Longview Half Marathon
November 15, 2014
Kansas City, MO

Full disclosure ... I'm only running this race because it's about 3 miles from my front door ... and their giving away really cool jackets!  It will be very hilly and I WILL NOT be running it hard ... heck, I might even walk some of it.  It's the inaugural year for the race, so we'll see how it's organized.  But we have a lot of friends running it, so it should be fun!

So that's basically it.  I'll probably try to mix in a 5K somewhere, because I REALLY want to run one under 18 minutes, and I feel like I'm really close to that right now.   But I've already PR'd for the year in that distance, so if it doesn't work into the schedule, it's no big deal.  So there's my schedule ... how are your races shaping up for the Fall?
... be great today!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

One Of My Best Weeks Of Training

I'm about six weeks from the first of two Fall marathons, and several other shorter races along the way ... and training couldn't be going any better!  I had probably my best week of training ever and ended a really positive note with a strong 20 mile Long Run yesterday.  Here is how the week shaped up ...

My running was really strong during three though workouts (Tempo, Track, and Long Run), but honestly the change to leg strengthening on those days might be a game changer for me.  I wrote about it earlier this week here.  I absolutely LOVE this approach! I literally feel like I've added an extra day of recovery into my schedule, all while not compromising or dropping any of the necessary workouts.  I can't believe I never did this before.  I think it's going to make a huge difference with my energy level during the week.

This week is another fairly tough week and then a recovery week.  So hopefully I'll have another good week of training to report next week.  Hope your training is going well too!
... be great today!

Garmin Erratic Pace Display Update

For Christmas last year, Michael got me a new Garmin 910XT to replace my old faithful Forerunner 305, which had a few run-ins with water.  The 910XT is really more geared toward triathletes, which I am not, but I liked really the sleeker look.  However, since the day I got it, I've been less than impressed.

A few of the issues are that it dumps data when I'm near my open computer ... without being prompted.  I wrote about it here.   Also, I've had a few issues with the FootPod syncing correctly, but honestly a few of those might be pilot errors.  And from time to time it doesn't seem to load data onto the ANT Agent correctly.

But the biggest problem I've experienced with the Garmin 910XT, is that while running, the displayed moving pace is very erratic ... even though my pace is steady.  For example, I can literally look down while running and watch the pace change from 6:10 to 8:30 to 7:15 to 5:50 in just a few steps, all while I'm moving basically at the same pace.  It doesn't do it all the time, but for the most part, it just never seems to "lock-in".  This isn't a deal breaker during a run when I'm not that concerned with the clock.  I mean, I've been running long enough that I can basically tell "by feel" just how fast I'm going.  But on timed runs like yesterday's Long Run, or a Tempo Run where I want to hit specific paces, it's pretty annoying.  And after researching it a little, it seems to be a common problem with the 910XT.

But this morning I found a free download that fixes the problem here.  It's a Garmin firmware update that took just a few minutes to load.  I installed and then ran with it this morning and it seemed to fix the problem.  The displayed pace was much more steady and everything was back to normal!

I think some of the other Garmin's might have the same issue, although the Forerunner 305 never did.  Anyway, just thought I'd pass along the fix  It seems to be working for me.  Have a great week!
... be great today! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PR Tempo Run, 9 Miles@6:19/pace

I think I buried the lead yesterday.  In a passing line in my post yesterday about strength training, I mentioned that I ran my fastest ever Tempo Run on Tuesday.  I didn't write about it here because when I detail Tempo Runs, it usually gets about 7 reads.  However, I did put it on my blog's Facebook page (here).  But since I posted it, many folks have already commented and asked for details about the run ... and since I'm a man of the people and just try to give you what you want, ha ... here ya go...

It was simply one of my best runs I've ever had, race or otherwise.  When I started, I really felt a little tired and dead-legged, and never really felt "light and bouncy".  But my legs are actually getting stronger and faster this season than ever before, and yesterday was a very encouraging and positive sign for my Fall races.

The run was 12 miles in total, with the middle 9 at Tempo Pace.  The run wasn't "easy" at all, I mean it was a Tempo Run for Pete's sake, but I really didn't struggle with it ... and I didn't stop the clock at all from start to finish, even when I stopped for a second to fish hidden water out of the bushes.  The weather certainly helped because it was a record low of 55 degrees, with very little wind!  Simply a beautiful morning to run and I felt like I took advantage of it.

Now if you read this blog frequently, you know I can't just "leave well enough alone."  Even though it was my fastest Tempo Run ever, there are still a TON of things that need improvement.  For example, I've got to even out the paces.  A good solid Tempo Run should be a little closer together in pace.  That's simply a muscle control and core fitness issue.  But in fairness, my new Garmin 910 seems to skip around on pace much more than my old Forerunner did, so it's tougher to stay on schedule.  Also, for this marathon I want to get to where I can do 15-18 miles at 6:25/pace ... and I'm not there yet, but I'm hopefully working up to it.

But all in all it was a GREAT run for me!  Honestly, if Tuesday would have been a half marathon, I genuinely think I could have ran a 1:25 ... which is my goal in the Fall.  But for the time being, I'm dialing it back and trying to stay on schedule, adding more strength and speed, hopefully for my fastest races ever this year.
... be great today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ancillary Strength Training & Running ... Hmm???

One of the main hip strengthening movements I include in ancillary
workouts, photo from my Hip Strengthening Video, watch it HERE
"I dig ditches like the best of 'em",  that's a line from the song "Lazaretto" by Jack White.  If you didn't know that already, then I probably can't help you.  The lyric might actually be referring to me in my younger days, when I did, in fact, dig ditches while working at an electrical power plant in Sibley, Missouri.  But since I've always been a worker bee, especially in the way I approach marathon training, I view it more as a metaphor for my workout regimen.  Admittedly, I wasn't blessed with the requisite amount of talent to run and race at the speeds I desire, so I have work like a fiend to accomplish my goals ... and frankly, I overdo it sometimes.  But one of the things that has really helped me stay strong and injury free during marathon training cycles, is supplemental strength work along side my running regimen.  And even though I'll still get plenty of strength building drills in before race day, I'm beginning to rethink when those actually happen during the week.

Most of my favorite internet researched running coaches ... Jay Johnson, Jeff Gaudette, Renato Canova, Miss Zippy, and others ... recommend some form of strength training during the marathon training phase.  Coaches like Jeff Gaudette of RunnersConnect, and Amanda, a.k.a. Miss Zippy, suggest maintaining a strength schedule all the way up to a few days before the race.  Others like Olympic marathon coach Renato Canova, are advocates of doing the bulk of the strength training in the early stages of marathon building, and then tapering off to focus on race pace workouts.  I can see value in both approaches.  But the big question for me has not been when to start or stop the strength training during the training cycle, but where to place it during the average training week.  I mean let's face it, there's only so many available hours ... and physical energy, available during a grueling marathon training schedule.

Since I began adding consistent strength training to my marathon training a few years ago, I typically always worked it in on  my easy days. The hard Tempo, Speed, and Hill Workouts always seemed to take so much out of me and I wanted to be able to focus on good form and get quality reps in during the strength workout.  So for example, on the evening after an easy recovery run, I'd typically do 45-50 minutes of strength training.  The problem with this was my legs usually felt dead and heavy the next day, which was typically a high intensity up-tempo run.

But I'd read a lot recently where some elite athletes complete their strength training not only on the same day as their tough runs, but also ... immediately after the run was completed.  And in visiting with Miss Zippy this week, I found out that she does the exact same thing.  The theory being that it was easier to get the strength training in when your legs were still "hot"  and loose from the tough run, instead of waiting until later in the day when the legs had cooled down and stiffened up a little during the recovery.  Amanda told me it worked for her, and since I'm easily influenced, I decided I'd give it a shot.

So after Tuesday morning's Tempo Run where I did a total of 12 miles, and 9 of them at Tempo Pace, I came home, changed into dry clothes, stretched a little, and then immediately went into my strength training routine.  I thought I'd be too tired after the run (in fact it was my fastest Tempo Run ever ... 9miles@6:19 average pace), but it actually felt a lot easier than normal since my heart rate was already elevated, and my muscles were still loose.  And to be honest ... I loved it!  Plus, getting the strength training and hard run over all at once gave my legs even more recovery time, which I'm finding I need more and more as I age.

So even though it was only one day, I can immediately tell I'm going to love this approach.  I'll keep you posted if I adjust it a little.  But for now, I feel like I just added in A TON more recovery time to my schedule, all while maintaining a strength training regimen that I need during the grind of marathon training.  It seems to be a perfect fit.
... be great today!

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Wife ..."You've Got The Perfect Body"

When you start to get up there in age, it's the simple little things in life that make you smile.  Or in this case, the kind & romantic words offered by a loved one.  The following is the stuff Hallmark cards are made of my friends ...

It was a normal weekday morning after a workout, and I was getting into the shower ... which would be an an otherwise unsavory visual event for anyone not named "Mrs. Weatherly" (and probably for her too).  But right then and there it happened.  As she stood there staring at the grandfather of two (kinda gross, but we're all adults here) ... my wife, the wonderfully intelligent and strikingly beautiful Michael, of the blog "Slowly Tri-ing" actually said these words to me ...

"You've got the perfect body ..."

Before she could utter another word, I interrupted and said, "WOW ... thanks babe!  That's really cool that after all these years, you still think I'm sexy.  I know my face isn't much to look at, but yeah - I work really hard at these rippling muscles, washboard abs, and rock hard legs ... but I wasn't sure you noticed anymore!  It really makes a man of my age feel good that you agree and think that I have THE PERFECT BODY!!! Thank youuuwaaa!!!"

But alas, it was too good to be true.  Because before I could continue with my "Man Of The House" acceptance speech, she burst back in ...

"You didn't let me finish" she said, "You've got the perfect body ... for running! You've got long legs, thick thighs, strong calves, and tiny little feminine ankles and feet.  I've been reading a book about it lately, and saw it in a video. It's probably not the best body for a lot of things, but I've gotta admit you've got a good runner's body."

Honestly, the second part stung a little, but I didn't let on.  I told her it was too late, and that I had her voice on tape saying "I had the perfect body". (Man, the arguments I would win if we actually had audio tape recording all the time in our home ... but that's another post)  She of course just rolled her eyes and left the room.

But finally ... after all the core work, and running, and lifting, and watching what I eat ... it had finally paid off.  The woman I love finally admitted I was the perfect specimen!  Thanks sweetie ... I obviously think you're perfect too!
... be great today!