Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Role Playing running doesn't burn calories...

I have been on the phone with clients for the last five hours straight. Just like yesterday and the day before, and just like tomorrow. That’s what I do. Today though, I have been having a recurring discussion with different folks about how they can most effectively improve their business is by improving their ability to communicate with customers and potential customers. We then went on to the same topic that I make sure to cover every single week: The most effective tool you have in your tool box to help with this improvement is to Role Play. Same sh!+, different day. If you Role Play, your team will get better at communicating with potential customers, and be able to turn more of them into actual customers. If you Role Play, you will all be more confident having these conversations, and will be less likely to give up during the sales conversation. If you Role Play more, you will make more money. Period.

Why in the hell won’t they, don’t they, Role Play more?

Then the light bulb went on over my head. Because it’s hard. It takes commitment and dedication. It takes the willingness and ability to become comfortable with doing something that makes them uncomfortable. It is inconvenient, and there is never enough time. It’s a lot like losing weight. It’s a lot like staying healthy. It’s a lot like eating right. It’s a lot like running.

People aren’t overweight because they don’t know what it takes to stay in shape. They are overweight because doing those things is hard…. Like running.

I used to write a blog. It was pretty O.K. Then I ran a race, a marathon, and my performance humiliated me. Blank blank blank… blah blah blah. I have not run more than once every two or three months since then. That was over a year and a half ago.

I am very aware of what I need to do to stay in shape. I am very aware of what I need to do to maintain my weight. I am very aware of what I need to do to get back on my horse and run. It is kind of simple. I need to put on my running shoes. I need to lace them up. I need to go outside. And I need to put one foot in front of the other at a fast enough pace to not call it walking. That’s really about it. So why has it been so damn hard?

When Jane and I were training for the Marathon, I was excited to jump out of bed and get down to the street. When we were running three to five times per week, I was happy to kick her out of bed and beg her to get her shoes on and go with me. Now the shoe has been on the other foot. It has been VERY hard to find the motivation and actually do it. Jane has tried to be that force I obviously needed, but she has not been able to find a way to get me back on track.

She got me out about six months ago, and we came close to getting mugged in broad daylight (o.k. it was in a tunnel, which we took a detour around when we watched the guy go in ahead of us hiding a very large rock under a full length parka in 90’ heat). She got me out a few weeks later, and we got attacked by a dog (nope, didn’t get bit, just made me cry like a little girlJ). This was exactly what I needed to keep my but on the couch; having my lack of motivation being reinforced by crappy luck and fear. But the reality of it is that I have been using this as an excuse to be lazy.

When my big brother and his wife came to town this weekend for my dad’s 80th birthday, there was no getting out of going running. They are both in their 50’s and are both still in Marathon shape and run regularly (did someone say Boston?). They rode the Tour De France route last September. The hard part! They are a little intimidating when it comes to how in shape they are. But they are also someone I apparently have no ability to say no to.

We got up on Saturday morning and jumped in the car for a drive up to our favorite park-and-run spot. It is at a gas station right at the corner of 16th Street and the canal, where we can run along the canal that takes us along to the Biltmore, passed the Wrigley Mansion. Our plan was literally to go a mile out and a mile back. I was very happy with the fact that we were too busy talking and catching up to realize we went a little over a mile and a half before we turned for the run back to the car.

It is still hot out here in Phoenix, and this was not really an exception. But it was a sweat that was worth it. Not the kind you get here everyday walking to your car in 115' heat. The kind that we earned. It was different. It was nice. It also made me really look forward to getting back home to the pool :).

In the end, we ran about 3 ½ miles, more than I have run in a year. It felt good, and yes, my legs hurt. But as you runners like to say: It’s a good kind of hurt. Maybe I will go out again, so I can say that like a runner, instead of the guy who has a nice pair of running shoes. It would be good to do a little less Role Playing, and a little more doing. Maybe we will try this again. I kind of hope so. (p.s. Shout out to my Sis-n-LawAmy on her awesome Portland Marathon finish this weekend.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Review

When I crossed the finish line at 5:32:49, I was not sure how I felt. It could have been elation. It could have been an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. It could have been a flood of emotion. It wasn't. I was just glad it was over. I am pretty sure that if it was a multiple choice answer it would have been D. I just don't know if D would have been "All of the above", or "None of the above".

I was cold. No. I was freezing. And I was in pain. I was done.

I had signed up for the race for two reasons. I had been running regularly, and I wanted to set a long range goal so that I would keep on running. And Expedia had a killer deal on vacation packages to Orlando. Now, nine months later, I was kind of wishing Expedia had had a killer deal somewhere warm...

We were supposed to catch a redeye out of Phoenix on Thursday night, to land in Orlando on Friday morning. On the way to the airport we were listening to the news when they said that all the flights going through several southern states were cancelled do to lack of defrosting equipment. One of them was Georgia. We were going through Atlanta.

We have never actually been to Florida on vacation together. We have tried, and failed, more than once. 10 years ago were booked for a day at Disneyworld, and a week in the keys, when they declared a mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Ivan. The next year we were booked on a charter sailboat for a week in the keys when our dog got sick. The vet bill came out to the same amount as the boat charter for the week. To the penny.

This was the third time Jane and I had tried to go to Florida on vacation. If this trip gets cancelled, I will never try again. Florida will be dead to me...

Flight left on time... No problems. Of course we got delayed leaving Atlanta due to the airport only having one plane de-icer...

We landed in Orlando about 10am. After picking up our luggage, we caught the shuttle to the rental car agency, and headed out to the Health and fitness Expo at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex. It was very cool. Packed with people. Wall to wall runners. It was great checking out all the shirts with the different sayings like "26.2 miles - what could go wrong?" I think most of the racers were just looking for warmer clothes...

When we picked up our race packets, I had to show them the results from the half marathon that I ran back in October. They moved me up to Coral C. In hindsight, all this accomplished was that there would be more people starting the race behind me that would pass me later on as the wheels fell off my race plans.

Friday night we went to Epcot Center and walked around the world. We had a spectacular dinner in Italy, and saw the sites in 30' weather. We had thought that we dressed appropriately, but froze our a$$es off. I guess the only time I have ever spent out in 30 degree weather before, I had been skiing. It is easier to stay warm skiing and wearing long underwear than it is standing in line for an hour waiting to go on a ride.

The next morning we got up and went to the Nike Store at the outlet mall, along with about 500 of our closest running friends. It had been both raining, sleet and snow, before we got up. It was crazy. It was like shopping on the Saturday before Christmas. Every person that was on vacation in the state of Florida that day was piled in to that store buying warm clothes. Including us. We knew that is was going to be cold, and thought we had packed for it. But after one night walking around in it, we both realized we did not bring enough.

My plan had been to be in bed by 8pm on Saturday night, so that 3 am would not come so early. We were supposed to be at the bus in front of the lobby no later than 4am. So when Jane made us get in line at the Test Track ride, I started to get concerned. Not only did the timer say that the approximate wait time was 30 minutes, but again, it was freezing frikken cold outside. Needless to say we got on the bus at about 8:30 to get back for our 8:00 bedtime...

I had picked this hotel because it was the closest one to the starting line. You needed to be on the bus no later than 4:00am to get to the staging area. You then had a 20 minute walk from there to the starting line. We were going to try to walk instead. I set the alarm for 4 am. An extra hour of sleep, and a shorter walk. It took us about 12 minutes from the door of our room to get to the starting line. Perfect...

There were some 16,000 runners that finished the marathon, so I am guessing there were more than 20,000 that started it. When we got to the starting line, it looked more like a million. I guess when you pack that many people onto a stretch of road under an overpass, it just seems like a lot. There were people wrapped in blankets, ski parkas, sleeping bags, and even some in shorts. I was wearing five layers of shirts, two layers of tights, a head band, a hat, gloves, and a scarf. And I was still cold.

Jane and I spent a while in line for the porta potties, and then we split up to go to our separate corrals. She was in H, and I was in C. It was getting close to race time, and I was starting to get nervous. I really wanted to make my goal time of four hours, and I did not know what or how much the temperature would affect it. It ended up taking its toll more than I had imagined possible.

When the race started with a burst of fireworks off of the top of the overpass, it scared the crap out of me. It was still pitch black out, and they looked awesome as they shot up into the sky.

It was go time.

The first bit of the race was like an obstacle course. I had to work my way around all of the items of clothing and blankets that people were tossing as they started to warm up. It was like being up near the stage at a rock concert. Wall to wall people. You could not pass anyone at this point even if you wanted to. I was being bumped from behind from the left, and from the right. And I did my best not to run up on the guy in front of me. It was about three lanes wide, and became even more congested as we reached the first corner, which was a one lane on-ramp. People were hopping over the curb and running in the grass along the side, while dodging street signs, power poles, and the like.

We circled around the big golf ball of Epcot, and then went into the park and ran around the world, along the lake. Since it was very early in the morning, the park was still closed. Disney tried to make up for this my having employees (cast members) line the course at intervals and cheer on the runners. They were awesome. They were in whatever their uniform was for their job. So some were in coat tails, some were in costume; some were just dressed for the cold weather. But everywhere we went, they cheered.

By the time we reached mile four we had maintained a 9:30 pace and I tossed the scarf and the head band off to the side. I was surprised that we had been able to go that fast, so I was happy with it. By the time we reached mile seven, I removed my top 3 layers, and threw two of them away, and put my top layer back on.

My back had started to tighten up before the race, and I had to keep adjusting my posture trying to find a position that seemed to cause less distress. By mile three my hips started to ache. It was not something I had dealt with before, and it freaked me out a little. By mile seven, I actually started to think about the possibility that I might not finish this race.

Mile SEVEN, and I am already worried about not finishing. WTF!

We ran through a lot of service roads in the areas between the parks. They were very dark, lit by only generator light stands. It was a little scary running in the dark knowing that if you tripped and went down, you were going to get trampled by the 500/5000 people behind you.

We reached the happiest place on earth in the 10th mile. Running through The Magic Kingdom was amazing. Main street was all lit up and glowing with excitement. At this point my hips were in so much pain I was ready to quit, but running through here made me forget all about it. For a little while...

During my nine months of training runs, I had never had a pulled muscle, cramp, or even a pain that was more than an annoyance. By the time I ran through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, I had reached the point where I knew that if I did not walk for a while, I was not going to see mile 26.

I don't remember when I stopped. It was somewhere between mile 10 and mile 12. I walked for about five minutes. I walked through the water station. I pretty much walked through most of the water stations for the rest of the race. The ground was like a hockey rink from spilled water and PowerAde that had frozen on the ground. It was like skating, it was so slippery. But as ice covered as they were, I did not see a single person go down the entire race. That was pretty amazing, considering how much ice there was.

About mile 13 I got a cramp in my right groin muscle. Now let me explain. Prior to mile 13 I didn't even know there was any such thing as a groin muscle. But when it cramped into a knot, there was know guessing. I had to pull over to the side of the road out of people’s way. Since I had never had anything like this happen before, I wasn't even sure what stretch to do to help stretch it out. I did side lunges and it helped almost immediately. I stretched for a couple of minutes and then got back into the race. I made it maybe 300 yards before it cramped again.

The pain was the sort that made me stop almost immediately. I went over to the side of the road and stretched again. I would run until the cramps were too much, and then I would pull over and stretch. By mile 16 I was cramping in both legs. It went on like this for about 10 miles.

It is odd how the power of people cheering makes the pain a little less noticeable. When we would reach a spot where there were fans cheering, I found myself running faster and smiling more.

At some point around mile 23, we came around a corner to see a full choir of about 40 people all dressed up in there robes and singing their hearts out. It was a seriously cool surprise. The fact that they were out there freezing there a$$es of and singing for us made me want to run harder, to pay them back for their efforts.

I did the first half in 2:18:34. I was actually happy with the time considering how poorly it felt like it was going. Between the half way point and mile 20, I averaged about 15 minute miles. I guess that is what happens when you run about 300 yards at a time. From mile 20 to the end of the race, I think it lasted 3 days 7 hours, and 28 minutes. At least that is what it felt like...

When we started to circle the lake at Epcot, letting us know that we were nearing the end, I had nothing left. The cramps had subsided for the last couple miles, and I realized that I had hit the wall at some point, but because I had been stopping due to the cramps, I did not realize it until I kept on running. As we got to the last corner on the lake and I was looking over at the big golf ball we had circled at the beginning of the race, all I wanted was to get off my feet and out of the cold and wind.

When I crossed the finish line at 5:32:49, I was positive how I felt. I was ecstatic. I was elated that I was done. My friend asked me later at what point in the race I said to myself "I will never do this again". I told him never. All I could think of was redemption. Even during the worst of the cramps, all I was thinking was that I hoped the next one isn't like this. My time is going to absolutely suck. I obviously need to run another marathon to redeem myself. A five hour marathon is not how I'm gonna go down...

They handed me a Mylar blanket immediately after I crossed the finish line. I just carried it for a minute, thinking what the hell is this thing going to do for me in this cold. I was still holding it in my hand when the girl put the medal over my head. Wow. This is the medal I have been working towards for nine months. It felt heavy around my neck. It felt good.

When I got to the spot where they took pictures, I was still carrying the thin silver blanket. I thought I was still grimacing from the pain and the cold when they took my picture, holding my medal. (Later, when I received the e-mail of the picture, I had actually been smiling ear to ear... go figure). After the picture taking, there was a woman volunteer who was doing nothing but helping people put the blankets around themselves. The wind was blowing so hard that you couldn't have done it by yourself, especially since my fingers were not working because of the cold.

I checked my phone to find out where Jane was. I assumed she was back at the hotel already. She also had started the marathon, but since she had an injury in September, she had not trained, or run for that matter, in over 3 months and I assumed she did not get very far. Her last text showed that she was at mile 18. I was in shock. She was still running. She had not run in over 3 months and she was going on 5 1/2 hours. My phone rang and it was her. She was at mile 23. She was actually going to finish. And I was going to stand out here and wait for her. Shi+! I mean... Good for her!

By the time Jane crossed the finish line, I had been done for about an hour. I was ready to die. All I had on been the running clothes that had not able to keep me warm while I had been running, let alone, now that I was stopped. But I wanted to be there for her, and I wanted us to get our picture taken together, holding our medals. She crossed at 6:16:40.

Her goal had been to run/walk as far as she could, and just enjoy Disney and the experience. Jane’s first marathon was a spectacular success. Mine was a humbling experience. By the end of this week, I will have signed up for my next marathon. I would love to say that I am going to reach my 4 hour goal, but at this point I will settle for running a race from start to finish, without melting down. Without walking.

This paragraph is for all of you people that are thinking about doing something hard. Or thinking about quitting something, because it is hard. Or even worse, because you are embarrassed about your performance, and don't want to feel stupid. Right now I am telling the whole world that my first marathon was a complete and utter blankety blank. The key word in that sentence was "first". Get back on the horse. Don't give up. It's still January. The year is still young...

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010- a look back - a look forward

This posting took me about two and a half hours to put together last night. When I was done, and ready to publish it, Blogger lost it. It was probably user error. So tonight, I am starting over. I hope this is not a sign of the year to come:)

Nearly every positive change in the world started as a goal. That is how we get better. We take a look at something we are doing, and make a choice to improve the outcome. Last year you saved $300 per month, this year you want to save more. You set a goal of saving $500 per month. That is a goal.

Earlier this year I did a story called Goal Setting for runners. There are a million different stories and articles about goal setting on the web. Actually I just googled "Goal Setting" and there are 3,510,000 listings. That is a lot. This is not one of them. This article is two things: a reminder to you that goal setting is important, and it is that time of year when you can find the most support to help you with your goals. And number two: This is my way of making my goals public. My way to help me stay accountable to my goals. My public declaration.

This is the time of year that your local gyms are full. They have all the people that joined and didn't come last year, back again. And they have all the New Years resolution people from this year in there trying to get back in shape. Running shops now have lines on weekends of people getting fitted for their new shoes. 5k's and 10k's scheduled for the nest few months get an added burst of participants from all those people who put running on their list for 2010. Again.

If you are one of the people that already goes to the gym, or already goes to the track for Wednesday Night Workouts, you may find yourself having to wait in line for the next piece of equipment on your circuit, or having to run around a few more slow runners on the track. Hey, it's that time of year. Some people resent these people that are trying to get back into shape. Some people call it amateur month.

You know what I say to these already in shape dedicated complaining athletes? Get over it!

Last year I was one of those people that decided to make a change in my life. Last year, like the previous 20 years, I told myself "This is it. This is the year I am going to get into shape." Last year I did it. I started at the beginning of last year, and am still going. Maybe this is your year.

I started by doing P90X. I got up at 4:30 am in the morning, six days a week, and stretched, kicked, punched, jumped, stretched, lifted, and pulled. I was in pain on a regular basis, and I burned off a lot of calories. I hated it. An hour and a half of yoga two times a week made me want to shoot myself. I started substituting running on the days that I was supposed to do yoga. The more I ran, the more I enjoyed it. I decided to substitute running for the day we did Plyometrics.

It did not take me very long before I had replaced P90X with running altogether. I loved it. I found my Chi. I logged about 900 miles in 2009, and I ran my first half marathon.

It does not matter what you choose, just choose something. Find something that is good for you, that you enjoy. This is a running blog, so there is a good chance that running is what you found. But if you start replacing your runs with yoga and Plyometrics, to the point where you are working out 4 or 5 times a week , and you are loving it, that is the right choice for you.

Don't get me wrong, I still have a weight problem. I am running the Walt Disney World Marathon next Sunday, and I am in the best shape I have been in 15 years, but I am also close to me heaviest. I wrote about Weight Loss and Running a while back, but apparently I did not read it. Just because you run three or four times per week, doesn't mean you can overdose on Carmel Cone Ice Cream whenever you want. Me legs are in great shape, and my cardio is also strong. But my core is still jello. That is the part I am taking on in 2010.

2009 also saw the launch of this blog, Run Into Shape. I have always thought about writing, but could never come up with a subject, or a medium, that was quite right. Now I have running, and just about everyone writes a blog:) Of the 300 runners I follow on Twitter, I think over 100 of them write a blog. With that many running blogs, the fact that Run Into Shape is the number four most followed running blog on Facebook makes me proud. Thanks!

My 2010 Goals:

Running: I am running my first Marathon this upcoming weekend. I am going to Disney World to mark off one of the most important and difficult items on my life list so far. I plan to run a total of three in 2010. I also plan to run two half marathons. I am aiming to break four hours my first race, and would like to qualify for Boston in my third. My guess is the Qualifying for Boston Goal will be back on my list for 2011.

We are also running the Ragnar Relay Del Sol coming up in the end of February. This is a 12 person team running three legs each for a total of about 203 miles from Prescott to Mesa in Arizona. We will start at noon on Friday and finish about 8pm on Saturday, about 32 hours or so. This is going to be a blast. Our team is made up of people from Seattle, Phoenix, and some Seattle Transplants. We had only one requirement for the people we chose for our team. We don't care about how fast they are, they just have to be fun. If I am going to spend 30 plus hours crammed into a van with you, I want to make sure they know how to have a good time.

That, and you need to be able to finish your three legs. So I guess that makes that two requirements :)

I am shooting to log 1250 miles total in 2010. This will require about 25 miles per week for the year. This will need me to average 4 runs per week to run this many miles.

Training: In 2009 I ran the miles. In 2010 I am going to actually train. I will do hills, track, tempo runs, intervals... and more hills. This is a real goal for me. A hard one. I don't do hills ( see The Hills are Alive).

Health (Eat to Run, not Run to Eat): It is time for me to put the same effort into controlling my diet that I do into my exercise. I have proven to myself that I can stick to the running, now it is time to work on the intake. I was doing very well when I was wearing my Body Bugg earlier in the year. But since I quit using it, I have stopped counting calories, the one sure way to control your weight. I will not go on a diet, just watch my diet.

I want to lose 25 pounds in 2010. There, I said it.

2010: Get back on the Body Bugg and log my food. Every day, every meal. Take in less calories than I burn. It is simple. Just do it.

Keep on Bloggin: Look for a face lift to my blog sometime in march. My goal is to write an average of once per week this year, for a total of 52 stories. This is a much bigger commitment than in 2009.

I am a believer in competition. Why do something if you don't want to do it well. In blogging, there is a scorecard. They are called followers and income. Since you need to make $100 before Google will take the time to cut you a check, and I am only up to about a total of $.34, I think I am a ways away from making any money from my blog. That means I track followers. On blogger, a good blog will have 100's or 1000's of followers. I have 26. I want to reach 300 followers on Blogger, and 300 on Facebook. That would make Run Into Shape the most followed blog on FB, and somewhere about 5079th on Blogger :) I will settle for #1 on FB in 2010.

I have other goals for 2010. I hope to get promoted. I want to take Jane to Europe for our anniversary (13th). I want to launch Inspirational Runner. I also have some financial and budgetary goals. But today we are sticking to the point of this blog.

What are your running and fitness goals for 2010? Are you planning on running? Sign up for a 5k. Are you making a mileage commitment? Are you going to run a certain amount of times per week? Do you want to run a marathon? Here is your chance to put them in writing, and make your public declaration. Loud and Proud! Leave your 2010 goal as a comment.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Disney World Marathon - 30 days and counting...

November 9th, 1989, will always be known as the day the Berlin Wall came down. On a slightly less historically relevant note, January 10th, 2010, will be known as the day I ran my first marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Why do I compare thee? Because so far, to date, I have never hit the wall...

There are a few things that all runners , and many non-runners, have heard of. We have all heard the term "Runners High". We have all heard about the races we run. The 10k, the 5k, the half marathon, the marathon, even the 50 yard dash.

Some of us will know more of the technical terms like "Tempo Runs", "Hill Workouts", and "Interval Training". But the big one, the one we all wish we didn't know, is "Hit The Wall". Hitting the wall to a runner, would be like removing the tires from the wheels on a race car, with about 20% or 30% of the race left. It becomes a completely different race. Instead of worrying about your speed or your pace, you start to worry about weather you are going to be able to even finish the race...

Or so I have been told.

28 days from now, I will catch the red Eye from here to Orlando. We will land about 9:00 in the morning. The plan is to spend the day at Disney World, and then get to bed early. I will need to go for a run the morning we get there. That ought to be fun. Throwing on the kicks and heading out after about 10 hours of travel.

But before that, I have four weeks of training left... I will wake up sometime around 5:00 am 17 more times between now and race day. I will strap on my shoes, layer on my running gear, and hit the streets four times per week for the next four weeks. I will run 105 training miles between now and then. Yet, I will never hit the wall.

Tomorrow morning I run 12 miles with my long run group. If you read this tonight, 12/11/09, please send me an e-mail, and tell me to make sure to dress warm and kick butt! ( )If you read this tomorrow, shoot me a message and ask me if I actually got out of bed (not a chance in h e double tooth picks that I will miss this run), so give me props on my morning 12, it's gonna be cold. If you have my cell number, send me a text.

29 days from today, I will wake up in my hotel room in Orlando, and not go for a run. The only Saturday in the last six months that I get to sleep in and not feel guilty about. I still don't get to sleep in. You don't go to Disney World to sleep in...

Next Saturday, three weeks out from the race, we run 20 miles. Both the longest distance I will run during my training, and the longest distance I will have ever run, up to that point. Those are the mornings that I lose sleep over. It will give me a decent gauge on how my race is going to go. I think I will get a little taste of the pain that will be involved. I will get to work on the mind games that will hopefully enable me to keep my mind on the prize... and off the pain.

Between now and that 20 mile run, I will run five of the seven mornings. Those are the runs that I sometimes struggle with getting out of bed. A little help is always appreciated... ( Facebook message). I am somewhat confident that I will be able to run the 20 miles. It's the training runs between now and then that dictate both my pace and my pain that I am not so sure about.

When I get up on the Sunday morning of the race a month from now, it will be more like Saturday night. The race is at 5:40 am, and you have to be in the lot at the park by 3:00 am to get on the ferry and make sure you are there on time. With the two hour time difference between Phoenix and Orlando, that means I will need to leave my hotel by midnight or not much later (AZ time), to be at the starting line when the gun goes off... WTH!?

What time do you need to go to bed if you need to be up by midnight?

About two weeks out from the race, I will start to taper my training. That means that I start cutting back on my mileage. My Saturdays will go from 20 miles, to 10 miles, to six miles. After building up in miles every weekend for the last six months, it will almost feel like cheating. It will be a nice change after averaging over 80 miles per month for the last half a year.

By Christmas weekend we will will be down to about an hour and a half for my long run. I don't know if that will be enough to burn off the turkey, gravy, and hot toddies I plan on consuming over the holidays. Shoot me some inspiration to get out on the streets and run off some of that extra insulation I will be packing on ( Twitter ).

With 30 days to go, I am starting to get both nervous and excited. I am starting to think that I will actually be able to do this. But I am getting nervous about how I will react when I hit the wall. I have talked to people that hit the wall at mile 13, mile 17, mile 22, mile 23, mile 25, and just about every other number between 11 and 26.2. You know who I have never spoken to? I have never talked to the guy that didn't hit the wall. No one has ever said that to me.

Will I be the first? Will I be the only person in the world to run a marathon and not hit the wall? My guess is not. So the real question is: How am I going to respond when I hit the wall? Will I step up, or will I fall apart. Will I dig deep and fight through it, or will it grab my by the throat and shake me like a little rag doll?

When my knees start to shake, and my hips start to burn, or my calves cramp up into a bag of knots, what am I going to do? My question is "If you have been running along at your goal pace, and you hit the wall, how do you keep going and reach your goals? How do you not give up?"

I get to spend 4 full days in the happiest place on earth. (Adam Dopps, now that you have been running 4 days a week for the last 6 months, where are you gonna go? I'm going to Disney World) Now, with that being said, 30 days from now I AM going to hit the wall. I will, at some point, develope concrete sacks for legs, and rubber bands for lungs. I will reach the point, that I will question my metal.

The other thing I know is that when I am running that 26.2 miles, 30 days from now, I want to be able to look back and think about some of the things that I heard from you readers. I want to get 300 e-mails, facebook messages, blog comments, or tweets between now and then. When I hit the wall, I will start running your comments through my mind. The funny ones. The inspirational ones. Even the ones calling me an a$$hole. Actually those are the ones I love to think about when I run. I want to prove them wrong.

About 100 people per week read this blog. Send me a note. I want to have a lot to think about that day. I need to have something to laugh at during my training runs. I want to have something to thank you for when I'm done.

November 29th, 1989, the wall came down. January 10th, 2010, I will be breaking down another one. And I will be thanking and thinking of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stop Thief! Come back with my dedication!

This is the 3rd time I have started writing this posting in over a month. I have a hard time writing about my running when I am not happy with my commitment level of running. I obviously need a running partner. I am having a difficult time holding myself accountable to get my ass out of bed and go running. I have been averaging three runs per week for the last two weeks. I went two weeks without running at all, before that. My upcoming trip to the Walt Disney World Marathon is going to be hard for me.

Very Hard...

My goal for this blog is to accomplish three things:
1. Entertain you, the reader.
2. Motivate you, the reader, to get out and run.
3. Motivate me to get out and run.

I apologize about this one in advance. This one is all about number three. I am in need of some motivation.

11/13/09 I grew up in Seattle. Of the 40 years I lived there, the year I lived in a warehouse loft downtown next to the Kingdome was my favorite. I now live in downtown Phoenix. What can I say... I like the night life baby... so the song says.

When I got the chance to watch the world series a few weeks ago in a bar in the upper east side of Manhattan, I took it. When it was over, and the bastard Yankees had won the final game, I went to Times Square and celebrated like I was one of them. What do you care about this? Not much, except I was supposed to get up the next morning and go running in Central Park.

It didn't happen.

If you would have asked me before hand, If I had to choose between running in Central Park or whooping it up in Time Square, I don't know which one I would have chosen. But, as they say, hind site is 20/20.

A few nights later, when I got the chance to check out the Irish Pubs of Downtown Boston- have you ever been to Boston?- again, not much of a contest. The next morning when my wake up call came and I was supposed to go running along the beautiful waterfront (think Boston Tea Party), I instead called the front desk and asked them to give me another call in an hour.

The same story played out the night I had the chance to go to Newport, Staten island, and Philadelphia. Long story short, I was on the road for 12 days... and I didn't run once. Not to mention i have put on about 10 pounds in about 30 days...

If you are the type of person where sticking to an exercise program is difficult, like I am, well, every day you put off starting up again, you are one day closer to never doing it again. This is the stuff that was going through my head on the flight back to Phoenix. I had eight ours of travel time to stress about what I had just done to my marathon training. I have been training for the Walt Disney World Marathon for 6 months. Could I have ruined my chances in just two weeks?

When I landed in Phoenix, I had a 2 1/2 hour drive up to Prescott where my wife was working for a couple of weeks. Just what I need. Two more hours to do nothing but stress out about my long run the next morning. I haven't run in two weeks, and I am supposed to do 14 miles the next morning. 14 miles. That is longer than I have ever run. I am in panic mode. What does missing that much of your training do to your abilities? This is all new to me. I have no idea...

As I started to get close to Prescott, I realized a couple things. One is that it is well over 3000 feet in elevation. And the other is that there is not one single block that is flat. There is no way I am going to find somewhere that I can run 14 miles up here that isn't constantly up and down hills.

12/3/09 That was two weeks ago. The next morning I ran laps around the Mall in Prescott, the only flat area I could find. Sears, Pennies, Dillard's, Barnes and Noble, Michael's, Bed Bath and Beyond. Sears, Pennies, Dillard's, Barnes and Noble, Michael's, Bed Bath and Beyond.

Lap after lap after lap.

Every single time I got to Pennies, I would look off to my left across the parking lot at my car. It was everything I could do to keep going instead of turning to my car and giving up. After about 13 laps, I did just that. I gave up. I had run just over 6 miles.

I ran 4 miles the following Wednesday. Three days later, I got up and went to my Saturday Morning Running Group for my weekly long run. We were scheduled to go 16 miles. I had run a total of 10 miles in three weeks, and was about to try and run 16 miles.

I usually run alone on these runs. I know that the whole point of running with a group is so that you don't have to run alone. I don't know, there just isn't anyone there that runs my pace, and I always want to try to run at my goal marathon pace during my long runs. My pace is not fast, it is just my pace. But that morning I asked a few of the people that I knew ran together as a group, if i could run with them.

It was a long 16 miles, but thanks the Harvey and Chelsea, I finished. It was good to run with a group. The next weekend my long run was supposed to be 12 miles. I did not run with the group. I ran on my own. I ran 9 1/2.

Day after tomorrow, I am supposed to run 18 miles. There are two things I know. Number one, I need to run with people. I can't depend on myself to get out there without motivation. Number two, my race in January is going to be hard. Very hard.

Again, I apologize for this one. I apologize for being a slacker with both my running, and my writing. I will try to be funnier with the next one. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My first half marathon...

When I woke up this morning and looked at my alarm clock, I was a disappointed. 3:14 am. O.K., that sucks. The race is still 4 hours and 16 minutes away. It is a 15 minute drive from my house. Why am I awake? Why am I thinking about the race? Why can't I go back to sleep? Why did Kathleen comment on my Facebook page that there was going to be a hill at the end of the race?

When my alarm went off at 5:30, I think I had been asleep for about 20 minutes. Not a great way to rest up for my first half marathon. I got out of bed and went out into the living room, and it was still pitch black outside. I got down the box of oatmeal, and made myself some breakfast. I was trying to do everything right. I had drank a full 16 ounces of water when I woke up in the middle of the night.

I was filling my glass up with water at the fridge as I heard a bunch of yelling from outside. Now remember, I live on the 10 floor of my building, and its 5:30 am. It sounded like an argument, or a homeless guy screaming in the wind, or a party. You never know what it's gonna be downtown. I went to the window and looked down to the parking lot. I was about to open the door out to the balcony when something went flying through the air into the darkness below.

What the hell?

I went out on to the deck and realized that the noise was actually coming from the balcony of the unit directly below me. Now, these guys have already earned a little bit of respect. It's 5:30 in the morning, and they are still going strong from the night before. They are so hammered that they are launching full cans of beer from their 9th story balcony at their OWN truck below. This is the best morning ever.

The best part was listening to their college age alcohol induced debate... "No man, you gotta throw it higher to be able to get it that far." "No, you just gotta throw it harder." But my favorite was: "I don't know man, from this high, you might break the window"...

Ya think?

I said "Hey fella's, do me a favor" and they all looked up at me like deer in headlights... "Could you guy's just dial it down a notch, and for sure... no more launching beers at cars."

"Sorry man, but it is our truck" I'm guessing they aren't science majors.

"I know, stop anyways." "There are a million widows that can see you from up here, and someones going to call the cops." and for real... they said "o.k.", and went back inside and closed the door. Things have sure changed since I was a juvenile delinquent...

We were on our way to South Mountain Park where the race starts. We took a left, heading south toward the mountain when I began to suspect something sinister was going on. "are we going uphill?" I asked Jane. "no, it's flat" she replied. About a block later she added, "OK, maybe it is a little bit of an incline" and another block later "ok...we are definitely going uphill. Then in the next block we passed mile marker 11 and we were definitely STILL going uphill. "Sorry baby" she added, "that's gonna suck!" Apparently, the last 2.1 miles are all up hill. Crap!

We got to the start about 20 minutes before the race. There were over 400 people running in the half, and about than 200 running the 5k. I haven't run in any sort of race in almost two years, and that one was the first one since 1995. I was getting more than a little nervous. 13.1 miles, and the last two are all uphill. Welcome to your first half marathon.

Much of the advice I had received prior to the race was the same. 1. Don't come out of the gate to fast. 2. If you're looking to run a certain pace, make your first few miles 20 or 30 seconds slower, and 3. Save yourself some energy for the end of the race. You want to run even splits (Second half of the race at the same pace you run the first half.... hard to do when you are tired), or even run negative splits, where your second half of the race is faster than the first half.

When the gun went off, I was about half way back in the pack. Since I already noted the last two miles of the race are going to be uphill, then it just makes sense that the first two miles are downhill, since this course is a loop. I was shooting for about a 9:20 pace for my first couple of miles. Best laid plans of mice and men... My first two miles were 7:36 and 7:42. It was all down hill, so I was hoping that I had not expended too much energy. I tried to make up for it in miles three and four by running high nines, and I ran 8:09 and 8:56. Crap.

Even though I didn't slow down as much as I was trying to do, It was hard to tell because of the amount of people that were passing me. I was working on my pace, while trying not to stress out about the last two miles, and whether they going to cost me my race. Was I going to be able to keep a 9 minute pace, which is already very hard for me to do, AND keep it up during the uphill portion of the race at the end?

As I passed the 5 mile marker and looked at my watch, I heard a noise from ahead. It was cheering and clapping and yelling, but I wasn't able to see what it was about. Then a figure came from around the corner, running towards me from the other direction. It was the leader of the race. This guy had already reached the turn around point, a little less than 2 miles ahead of me, and was on his way back. I was just passing 5 miles, and he was already at 8. Holy Crap. And to make it even more impressive, he was smiling and waving back to us as he went by. There is just something wrong with that level of talent being all rolled up into one guy, or a least one set of legs, lungs, and determination. I was impressed...

When I reached the turn around, I gave myself a high five. I'm running with 400 other people and I don't even have someone to celebrate a milestone with. It seems a little weird to have this many people around me and to still be that alone. Not one sentence was muttered from start to finish. I said thanks to the people at the water stations a few times, but that was about it. Other than that, I spent the entire run with my internal monologue. Even I get tired of listening to myself after that much time.

After the turn around, my spirits lifted a little bit. I was able to look head on at the people that were behind me in the race. I know that long distance running is really a race against the clock, against myself. But it still felt good to look at some people that were behind me for once, instead of all of the people that had been ahead of me during the first half of the run. Maybe I have a little to much competitiveness in my, by I certainly don't like spending that much time focusing on all of the people that are beating me. It was a nice ego boost to realize I was still doing o.k. in the overall picture of the race, half the people were ahead of me, and half of the people were behind me. I guess that makes me a middle of the pack runner:)

When I passed 8 miles I was thinking "Wow, Do I really have 5 miles to go?" I was still moving along at my goal pace of 9:15, but I could feel myself slowing a bit. It ends up this was my first mile that I ran over my goal pace, but not my last. I didn't run under 9:15 for the rest of the race. Now my biggest concern was, will I be able to stay close enough to my the 9:15 to make up for however much I will eventually and surely slow down climbing the upgrades for the last two miles? My body is already telling my I don't have enough left in the tank to NOT lose time when I hit mile 11, the bottom of the hill.

I reached into my key pocket as I was approaching the water station just before the last turn, and the final 2 miles of the half marathon. I felt like a kid pulling a piece of gummy bear out of a pocket full of sweaty lint. Next time we will do better planning. This time however, I blew it off and threw it in my mouth, chewed it up and swallowed it just as I approached the held out hand with the cup of water... at the beginning of the hill. I shot the water and tossed it in to the garbage as I started up the hill.

I was looking forward and up the street. It was long. You could see the top... it was damn long. I don't do hills. (see "The hills are alive")

I literally have read more about running hills than I have actually run. One of the things I remember most is that they suggest that you pump your arms faster than normal. I haven't read enough to know why, but I thought I would give it a try.

About a quarter of the way up, I realized two things. One, I was tired. Two, I was making pretty good time. I was actually passing more people than their were passing me. Middle of the pack movin' up.

I was coming up on a 25 to 30ish gal that was ahead of me. She was trucking right along, but I was faster. I don't know why, but I felt good. I think it was the fact that I could see the top of the hill. I could see how much longer I would have to keep running. Once I got to the top, it was cross the street to the last dirt trail to the finish line. Most of that was going to be up hill also, but this was the hard part.

I passed her not to long before I hit the top. I was about to give myself another high five when I noticed everyone ahead of me was turning left. I had for gotten that the course turned at the top of the hill. It was probably another half mile till we get to the dirt part of the course, but at least it was flat. Fortunately I wouldn't need much energy to take on this part of the run, which was good because I didn't have any left.

I started doing the math in my head. Wow, it looked like I might make it. I might be finished in less than two hours. It will depend on how long the final dirt trail portion is right before the finish line. It seemed to go pretty quick when I ran down it, but I was full of adrenalin. Not much adrenalin left... As I reached the end of the stretch and everyone was turning right to cross the street, my thoughts of hitting my goal went up in a cloud of blacktop. There in front of me was another long stretch of road, just as long as the first hill I had just finished, heading south along the golf course. I had completely forgotten that I had run down this street. Rather than having just the dirt trail to the finish line left, I still had about a half mile of uphill blacktop road first. Crap.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? I had two goals. The first one was to finish my first half marathon. The second one was to finish it in less than two hours. Right when I started to think I might be able to do it... BAM! Not gonna happen. I figure I will run a 12 to 14 minute mile pace up this hill. I spent everything I had on the last portion. I looked at my watch. I was at 1:54 something. There is no way I am going to finish in the next five minutes. I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk.

I was already surprised at how many people were walking the hill. These were all people that had been ahead of me for 11 miles. These were all people that would have reached that 2 hour goal, if they would have been able to keep running. These were all people that had given it their all, but were out of gas. They, like myself, will all finish the race. They like myself, will not finish in under two hours.

I, unlike them, am not going to frikken walk. No effin way. I am not throwing stones. I am just not willing to do it. No one would care. No one would say a word. There was probably a dozen people walking the hill. You gotta do what you've gotta do. I have to run. I have to try.

The timer said 2 hours two minutes and some odd seconds as I passed. The thing that I concentrated on during that last hill climb was that Jane would be waiting for me at the finish. As I approached there was a crowd of people cheering me on. Jane was there, smiling, yelling and taking pictures. I was finished. They handed me a bottle of water as I crossed the finish line.

As I lay in the ice bath when I got home, wearing a sweat shirt and drinking the cup of coffee with Baileys that Jane had brought in to me, I was happy. I think when I woke up this morning I had another goal that I may have pushed to the back of my mind, be happy with however it worked out. My official time ended up being 2:01:33. If not for the hills, I possibly would have made my time. My goal for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January is under 4 hours. Twice the distance, twice the time. Maybe there won't be any hills.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hangin' with the home boys... part 2

As we headed out the front door towards the elevator, I asked how far they wanted to run. I was a little worried that it would be farther that I was planning on, since I am going by my training plan for my upcoming marathon in January.

Paul answered that he didn't care, what did I want to run? I told them that my usual loop was a four mile run, or we could go to the next leg, and it would be about seven miles. To that, Pete said "Seven miles, that would be farther than I have ever run in my life."

On the outside, I played it cool. On the inside, I was jumping up and down with a big giant smile on my face. All I was thinking was that no matter what, at least I would be able to match their distance. Even if I come in 10 minutes behind them, at least I will be able to run as far as they do.

I was one cool cucumber... "O.K. Four miles it is"...

We got out of the elevator and walked across the lobby towards the front door. I asked them if we were going to stretch out outside, or had they already done that upstairs while I was changing. Paul said "I read that it doesn't really make much of a difference if you stretch or not. I'm not much of a stretcher." And off he went...

I found out a few things during the course of this run. Pete is probably more at my level as far as running goes, and Paul is nicer than he used to be. When we were growing up, we had a saying. "It doesn't matter who you offend, as long as you get a laugh". Now, you need to understand, these two guys were born funny. I just want to be like them when I grow up.

We don't take the saying seriously when it comes to other people, at least not anymore... But with each other, there have been few limits as to what you could say over the years. It was obvious that Paul passed on several opportunities to have fun at our expense. There were lots of chances for him to make jokes about my breathing, complaining, pace, or pointless banter. I was trying to keep him from paying attention to the pace part. He let it go... Much appreciated. I am pretty sure that by the time my Garmin beeped at me, and Paul asked if that meant we had gone a mile, he was having a hard time hearing the alarm over the sound of mine and Pete's breathing.

As it ends up, Pete has done most of his running up to this point on a treadmill, and I have done most of my running at over a 10 minute pace. I don't think that Paul would call anything over 10 minutes actual running. More like speed walking. Maybe even slow speed walking...

Paul and I were talking throughout most of the run, or at least the first 3 miles. At one point I said that I have a hard time gaging my pace when I am running under 11 minute miles, because I am not used to it. I said that "I know that right now we are running about 10 1/2 minutes.." Paul responded with "We are running just over 9 minutes".

"That's what I'm talking about. I never run this fast, so I have no idea what our pace is. And I'm the guy with the Garmin"... One of these day's I am going to have to learn how to use the light on this damn thing...

We started talking about back in the day when we used to run together. Back when I was faster than Paul. (Sorry, I am a little bitter...) We were talking about the night we ran the Firecracker 5000, and the beers at the starting line. We remembered that my little brother ran that race with us. Well, sort of... We had all been together at the starting line. The beginning of the run was up a gradual slope. When we got to the first turn, my brother was no where to be seen. We assumed that he was (obviously) either up ahead, or had fallen behind. When we got to the end, we wandered over to the pub that we had all agreed upon as our meeting place after the race.

When we walked in, there was my brother Matt sitting at the table waiting for us. He was flushed and wet with sweat. I gave him a high five and said "Nice run Man, how long have you been waiting for us?" He told me "Not to long", and we went on to order drinks. The server brought us our round, and bent over to whisper in my ear. "Your brother told me that you guys bet on the race, and that whoever lost was buying the drinks." And since that was me, she was willing to work for a better tip. She then told me that my brother had been there for about a half hour. No way he could have done that. It was only a 5k.

It ends up that when we hit the first turn of the race, he had already fallen behind, so he said screw it, and took a left instead of a right, and went straight to the bar. He was on his 3rd drink by the time we got here. When he saw us walk through the door, he dipped his hands into his water glass and splashed his face and ran them through his hair.

She got a good tip all right, but my brother is the one that paid it:) Best laid plans...

As we were laughing at the old story, I told them that I have talked more during these few miles than I have during all my runs with Jane combined. She runs with her iPod, so she is always listening to music. I don't run with music, because that is when I think about my blog writing, and I am afraid that music my screw it up, so I don't even want to try it. I might like it... and no more blog.

Pete followed that up with "You guys talk, I'm gonna concentrate on breathing. Obviously I need to run outside more."

At some point before the run I had mentioned that my goal for the upcoming marathon was to break 4 hours, which would be averaging 9:15 minutes per mile. I said that with my average pace for my training runs, it was starting to seem like that may not be a possibility. Towards the end of our run, Paul actually ran across the street away from us, and then crossed coming back to us. He was obviously trying to get in a little extra work while staying with us at our much slower than his usual pace.

He finally said, "Yes, I think you are going to have to do something about your training runs if you want to break 4 hours". That was a very nice way to put it Paul. We may have passed the "It doesn't matter who you offend" theory...

This was the first time in a long time that running had been a social time for me. It was awesome spending time with two of my best friends, while at the same time doing what has become one of our favorite activities. It makes me miss spending more time with old friends. We used to run races together regularly. Back before we all got married and moved away. We need to find a way to spend more time together.

Speaking of spending more time with old friends, we have signed up for the Ragnar Relay Del Sol, here in Phoenix. It goes from Prescott to Mesa this Feb 26th & 27th. We will run a total of over 200 miles in about 24 hours. Each runner will run three times and each run will be from 3 miles to 9 miles each. Little or no sleep. There will be 12 of us on the team. So far we have four of us from Mount Rainier High School, wives, neighbors, friends from work, and one of our old pals from The Greenlake Alehouse. We have space for a few more...

I run my first ever actual half marathon this Saturday, October 24th. It is the 41st Annual ® YMCA Half Marathon, in Phoenix. I am scheduled to run 12 to 14 miles this Saturday as part of my training plan for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, so the timing is perfect. I will use this race as both a gauge on my time, as well as practice for keeping to my scheduled pace. I will be using drink stations, and trying to not pick up my speed every time someone passes me, as well trying to make my goal time of under 2 hours. These are all things that I never get to work on during my training runs. Wish me luck...

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