Thursday, December 15, 2011
I have been trying to decide the past couple of days if I should enter the Columbia Multisport Club’s "Biggest Loser" contest that starts at the end of the year. Most people who see me wouldn’t think I need to or that I would even have a chance in a competition like that. However, I entered it in 2010 and lost the 2nd highest percentage of weight lost amongst the guys! I believe I went from 175 to 145 and am pretty sure I could do the same again now, if not better. Well, I’m actually at 165ish right now, but could easily weigh 175 or more by my first weigh in a week from now if I put my mind to it!
Weight loss really is quite simple. Your body burns a certain number of calories every day. You eat more calories than your body burns, you gain weight. You eat fewer calories than your body burns, you lose weight. Yes, some people have higher metabolisms than others, but the previous statement still holds true! Watch the Biggest Loser, some extremely obese people on the show and they all lose weight the same way, through watching what they eat and increasing the amount of calories they burn by exercising. It’s called discipline folks! Something two thirds of Americans lack when it comes to weight...
When I put my mind to it, I can be extremely disciplined. But I can also be rather undisciplined in another area of my life which is pretty similar to weight control, finances. Finances like weight control are pretty simple; spend less than you make and you’ll do fine, spend more than you make, not so good... Hang on, don't most Americans have a problem with finances too? Everyone spending more than they make, buying huge houses they don't really need, or new cars they can't afford... I didn't do the huge house thing, but I obviously have been spending more than I make as I've managed to accumulate some credit card debt.
I need to be disciplined in both things, calorie control and finances. I shouldn’t wait for a competition to be disciplined on my calorie intake and take away from the success of others who truly need a "Biggest Loser" style competition to succeed at weight loss. I also shouldn't focus on one area of discipline while neglecting another which is equally as important. So starting today, I’ll be budgeting and counting calories... and you thought I was frugal before! Racing less is going to be the tough...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Found myself in Austin Texas on February 20th ready to run a half marathon. Hadn't planned this out too far in advance, I think I maybe had committed to running it two months out. Training had been going well and I felt I was in good shape. In fact, based on some of my workouts I was guessing I might even have a chance of reaching my bucket list goal of a sub 1:20:00 half marathon. That was before I drove the course...
Driving the course the night before it didn't take long to realize this wasn't going to be the fast course I thought it was! Turns out there are two big half marathons in
Prior to the start, they announced that Lance Armstrong and Joan Benoit Samuelson were running the 1/2
The first two miles or so were mostly flat or downhill with the exception of one short steep hill. I settled into a comfortable pace and was at about a 6:20 average when we began a long three mile section of gradual hills. To make matters worse, we were also running into a headwind! When we finally reached the end of this long gradual climb, my average pace per mile had dropped to my previous PR pace of 6:28. At this point I grew quite discouraged. I had driven 14 hours thinking about a goal of breaking 1:20:00 and now I’m not even running faster than my previous PR pace. I seriously considered easing up and turning the race into a training run. I had some serious self doubts about my ability to race anymore. Only several months earlier I had driven to
About this time we began a stretch of several miles of gradual downhill. Another runner caught up to me and said a few things in encouragement. So I picked up my pace slightly and began to run with him. It wasn't too much longer when another group of runners caught up to us, and this group just happened to contain Lance and Joan! Within a few short minutes I had gone from being mentally defeated to instead leading a 7 time TDF winner and an Olympic Marathon Gold medal winner in a half marathon. For the next several miles, 6:15 pace seemed quite easy!
Notice the video camera and no bib on the guy behind Lance!
Around 8.5 miles in Lance pulled away from me and the small group I had been running with fell apart. My average was now down around 6:24. I knew the course was mostly flat until the last 5k, so I was now pretty hopeful that I might beat my old PR! It definitely wasn't easy, but I ended up finishing in 1:24:35, ten seconds under my PR. Definitely wasn't as fast as I had thought I might run, but after the mental struggle I had midway through, it was definitely a rewarding result. Lance did beat me in the end, but I led him through more than half the race! The person who finished immediately after me, Joan Benoit Samuelson.
That's a marathon runner next to Lance, switched to the half to run with Lance?
Sunday, February 13, 2011
With all the snow we got here in
Nine o’clock race start, so the temperature was starting to climb a little. I knew it would be around 30 degree Fahrenheit at race start so in my book that is shorts weather when it comes to running races. I debated over just a tank top, decided to wear a short sleeve dry release shirt under my racing top. I was definitely in the minority, but in my opinion 80% of the field was over dressed, you have to start a hard effort out cold unless you plan on taking a layer off later...
The snow at the start was quite loose and when the horn sounded and we took off, I was afraid I was in for an extra long run. I had positioned myself at the front since the race director the night before had told me that after the first quarter mile or so it would be tough to pass people. One of the few other guys in shorts and a tank top took the early lead with another guy tucking in right behind him. I settled into third place. After the first section was passed and we were onto the actual trail, the snow was no longer quite as loose, for most of the rest of the way it was actually quite hard packed and not so hard to run on.
Start of the race
Once on the trail, the three of us in the lead started to separate from the rest of the field. The guy just in front of me I thought I might pass soon as the up hills seemed to be causing him to struggle a bit early on. Sure enough, around 2.5 miles in on an up hill section he pulled over to the side to let me pass him. So now I was in second place but it was still really early on! As we ran past an aid station, I figured out the guy in the lead was Rick and he must be local since they were cheering him on by name. It must have been around mile 3 that we ran through a really neat stretch of twisting trails. As we rounded corner after corner we ended up doubling back and at certain points you could see the people behind us in the race making some of the same corners only a ways back.
I had kept Rick pretty close, but the constant turns combined with the fast down hills had made a small gap open up. I would guesstimate he had a 20 or 30 yard gap at around 4.5 miles in. We came down a hill with some sharp turns and just around that time began overtaking some of the 20 milers who had started an hour before us. After already passing two, I rounded a corner and saw another runner ahead of me up a hill. It wasn't Rick, so I figured I was catching another 20 miler. It was a definite trail and it looked well used like other runners had gone that way, but as I ran up the hill to him, he was just standing to the side. I figured he was resting; turns out he had gone the wrong way! I dashed back down the hill to discover I had missed a turn, had that one runner not been standing up ahead on the hill, I probably wouldn't have missed it... Once back on route, the course opened up almost immediately into a field and way off in the distance was Rick, the 20 or 30 yard gap was now more like 400 yards!
A bit discouraged and frustrated, I tried to pick up my pace to close the gap a little. I think for me that open field was the toughest part of the race as I could still see Rick, but the snow was really loose in this stretch so putting more effort into my running didn't result in much increase in speed. Once finally past the loose snow, my efforts were rewarded with a nice stretch of uphill running, I knew I risked popping if I tried too hard at this point so I reined things in a little. I never did see Rick again until the end, but fortunately I didn't see anyone behind me as well! With only a week until my half marathon in
The second half of the race was pretty uneventful. I had no idea how far back I was from Rick or how far back third was from me. At one point on the trail, I had just passed some boats in a parking lot or storage area of some sort when I got worried since I didn't see any pink course markings in front of me a ways. Concerned I had gone the wrong way again, that maybe I had missed a turn by the boats, I began backtracking until I came around a corner and saw a runner I had previously passed along with a pink flag, I was going the right way! Just another minute lost; no biggie...
Finally, after dealing with I think the two toughest climbs coming in the last mile, I was at the finish line, total time of 1:27:16. Rick had finished in 1:23:38 so he had beaten me by 3:38. There’s no way to know exactly how much time I lost with my two course errors, I would guess maybe two minutes but certainly not more than three. I wouldn't have beaten Rick; I only would have hurt my time next weekend...
Definitely an awesome race, I think I could be happy running trail races every weekend! Looking forward to this event next year, the big question will be what distance should I do?
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I guess it is appropriate that I write a recap for these two races together as they were both run under less than ideal conditions. The night before Froze Nose I stuck screws in my shoes for traction for the first time. The morning of the Nut Race I added screws back to the same shoes to replace ones I had lost, plus some additional screws as there were 2 or 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground that we would be racing through! So both these races were definite winter events!
Froze Nose was a brand new event taking place at Albert Oakland park the morning of January 22nd. We had just gotten a decent amount of snow the week before so there was concern over the condition of the course. The original course ended up being altered since some of it was on a trail that was completely covered and was actually hard to locate!
I arrived on site with plenty of time so I decided to drive the course to check out the conditions. The roads actually didn't look too bad, some ice and slush in areas, but better than I was expecting. The worst section was the first 1/4 mile or so at the start and finish which was 2 or 3 inches of snow pack.
I didn't notice anyone that I knew would be fast at the start, so mentally I prepared for running solo. Sure enough, as the race started and I took off no one really went with me, my biggest competitor in the race would be the conditions and the course. The screws in the shoes worked well and I was able to take the 6 ninety degree turns with no problems despite the slush. The first mile was definitely the easiest with only some slight up hill but mostly downhill and flat. But, the second and third mile both had significant hills in them. I ended up running a 5:54 opening mile followed by two 6:15s with a final average of 6:02 per mile after I picked it up in the closing tenth of a mile. 18:44, not a time I would be excited about on a flat and fast course in better weather with competition, but for a cold and hilly course running solo I was pretty happy! Earliest in the year ever to get a win, so that was kind of cool too...
After taking the following weekend off from racing, this weekend was time for the Nut Race. Of course, as if the blizzard of 2011 hitting us on the Wednesday before the race wasn't enough, we woke up this morning to another 2 or 3 inches on top of the 18 we had already gotten! The sight of the new snow reminded me I had lost several screws on my last icy run at Rockbridge and that if I wanted to run well today I had better add some back. So, after a quick trip to
Once the screws were in place, I jogged to the start as I didn't really have enough time for a warm up. A few quick striders and I was ready to go. The roads were in pretty bad shape, several inches of snow covered most everything, my plans from the night before of dipping under 18:00 were not going to happen!
The race starts with a downhill so I naturally let myself go and pulled out to a quick lead. After a few seconds, Marc Keys and Bill Stolz both pulled up behind me. I slowed the pace down a little, the snow and ice were definitely hard to run in, each step gave some and pushing the pace too much was not a good idea this early on with Marc and Bill right there.
Providence was probably the worst stretch as the side of the road was really slushy but the traffic wanted to use both lanes even though there was hardly any traffic. I tried to ignore the cars as much as possible and ran in the clear section of the road forcing a few cars to move over into the next lane. As we rounded the corner at the top of the hill for the first time, Marc pulled into the lead and I was more than happy to follow at this point. The next time up that section, Marc put in a surge. Fortunately I had been running relatively comfortably and was able to match it. I felt pretty good on the downhill and flat stretches and figured my screwed shoes were a definite advantage, provided I could stay with Marc one more time up the hill. Our mile splits were 6:21, 6:13, and 6:04 with my final .10 5:39 pace, so Marc was definitely picking up the pace as we went. Fortunately I managed to stay with him on that final hill and I actually began to think I had a chance!
With about half a mile to go I put in a surge and took the lead. Marc matched it and stayed right on my shoulder. Things were starting to hurt and I began to worry I had gone too soon. I decided to put all my chips on the table and surge again; a small gap began to open! Of course, I then thought that he’s bluffing, he’s got a huge kick left and I’m done for... where is that dang finish line?! Fortunately the finish line got there before my muscle collapse did, and I won, beating Marc for the first time ever. A little bitter sweet as my total time was 19:19, probably one of the slowest winning times on that course. However, Marc Keys went under 17 minutes in a 5k twice last year which is one of my goals, so today served as reinforcement that it is an achievable goal! Now, when is that warm weather getting here?!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Here we are, almost a month into 2011 and I still haven’t written my annual year in review! Guess I ought to get on the ball... For 2009 I wrote a fairly lengthy review: http://triathleteguru.blogspot.com/2010/01/2009-year-in-review.html I think I will be briefer and more to the point this year, focusing strictly on my year of racing.
The year began as normal with several running races. I performed on par with previous years, no indications that 2010 would be any better or worse than previous years. I happened to get my first win of the year at a small 5k on February 13th, the “Erase Hate 5k” with a time that was nothing to write home about, 18:50. The next race for me was an opportunity to race a long course duathlon in
While I competed in a triathlon as a kid in 1989, I only did one event; my next was 13 years later in 2002! So I consider 2002 as my start in multisport and 2010 was my 9th year competing. That first multisport event I did in 2002 was the Buffalo Wild Wings Duathlon which later became the Shakespear's MaxTrax Duathlon. I did the shorter sprint race, came in 2nd overall and I've been trying to win that race ever since! It has been oh so tantalizingly close with 3 2nd place finishes and 3 3rd place finishes. Finally, 2010 was my year as I was able to grab the lead in T1 with an 8 second transition and extend my lead the rest of the way for a 2 minute win.
Following this win, I got a free entry to the
I wouldn't repeat any of those early season successes through the rest of the year, though I did continue to race throughout. By the end of 2010 I had raced in over 40 races, the most for me in one season by far. It was probably a little too much, because while I was having fun, my training lacked depth as did my performances as a result. Eventually, I got a bit burnt out and decided I had too much money tied up in multisport, especially since I had some debt accumulated. A “tri-gear liquidation” sale ensued, even going so far as selling my beloved “tripod”, the teardrop trailer I had purchased the previous October. I continued to race multisport on my road bike and discovered trail racing which began to re-invigorate my competitive drive.
So here I am, just about one month into the 2011 season. I’m running faster than I was at this point last year, this has the potential to be my best season yet! However, by taking the time to write this, I hope to avoid repeating the mistakes made in 2010. My seasons are marathons; I've got to pace myself so I don’t burn out and drop out half way through...