3.1, 6.2, 12.4, 13.1, 26.2
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Hills in WDM

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

I had my first run in West Des Moines last Thursday. First and fore most, I had no idea WDM was so hilly! As I always do before heading out, I mapped out my run on the USA Track & Field web site (http://www.usatf.org/routes/map/); nothing major, just a little 5 mile loop. It didn’t take me long to realize I was in for quite the hill work out.

The route: the weather was perfect for this time of year: light winds, sunny and temps around freezing. I started at 42nd & Westown Prkwy and headed south on 42nd. Not too bad down 42nd, just the slightest downhill for a half mile or so. Then I turned right (west) on Ashworth. This is where it went downhill quickly. Literally. Right after the turn from 42nd, there was a long, slow, gradual down-and-up hill covering the better part of half a mile. Like every runner will tell you, the going down part wasn’t bad, but the going up part was a challenge. Especially on snowy, icy sidewalks. Not wanting to fall flat on my ass for the whole world to see, I shuffle/ran the down slope portion of Ashworth and then had to run half in the snow and half on the sidewalk for traction for the up slope (more on slippery sidewalks in my rant below). Once up the hill, I turned left (south) on 50th St. I don’t know why I never realized this when driving on 50th St, but that thing is all down hill from Ashworth to EP True. Normally, this would be great for a run; I’d be able to rest while coasting down it and I don’t normally expend much energy going down long hills. That was definitely not the case this time thanks again to the snow-filled and ice-covered sidewalks. The entire mile down 50th was a game of Try Not to Fall on Your Ass. All the way down was a combination of “old man shuffle running” mixed with “trail run high-stepping” with a bit of “slide sideways like your on an ice rink” and a lot of “clearing hurdles of piled snow at every corner”. I don’t think I hit any type of stride cadence the whole way down. Good news is I didn’t fall; bad news is all that “combo running” made my knees ache. At this point, I turned left (east) on Stonebridge Rd. Stonebridge is a subtly winding road cutting through a quiet, modest home neighborhood. I was in the street on Stonebridge because apparently no one on that street owns a shovel. The first part of Stonebridge is flat, which offered my knees a bit of a break, but after a couple blocks it was back up-hill again. This hill was steeper than the one I had just come down on Ashworth. It was right about this time that I realized how little about the topography of West Des Moines I knew. Here I was thinking I would run a quick 5 on a flat route in WDM as an easy tempo run. That was hardly the case. It was also at this time that I realized that in all the stories Shannon has told about her childhood, growing up on this side of town, going to Fairmedows and such, she failed to mention how freaking hilly this part of town was. Or if she did mention it, I glossed right over those parts of her stories. OK, so it’s probably the latter, but still, there are way more big hills to contend with in WDM as there is around downtown. Back to the route, I stayed on Stonebridge for a mile until arriving at Valley West Drive. Turned left (north) on Valley West Dr and continued - you guessed it - up another flippin’ hill. “How long can this one hill be?” I though. If I go up any higher I’m going to be having afternoon coffee with St. Peter. OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get my point. Valley West Dr eventually levels out and even dips down a bit at the corner of Ashworth. I turned left (west) on Ashworth, traversed more ice-covered sidewalks up a short hill and eventually got back to 42nd St. Turned right (north) on 42nd and ran all the way back to Westown Parkway. Total length of run, 5.14 miles. Number of sore knees and back from slip-sliding my way through the route, 2 and 1. Number of times I almost fell on ass, countless.

All and all, not a bad way to pop my WDM running cherry, but believe me, I’ll be looking for something I little less hilly for my next route.

Training update: I mentioned to LL during my last training session that I mention her a lot in this blog. So, LL, I hope you’ve found your way to my little running blog world you see before you. Again, she’s found yet another way to kick my ass with a workout. I know I “complain” a lot about the workouts she has me do, but I can really tell a difference in my running from them (for the record, you should hear me complain during the training sessions with LL; I’m ten times worse. I know, can you believe it, me whine and complain? Shocking isn’t it?  ). To qualify for Boston, I have to run 7:28s (3:15:59 for an overall time). Thanks to LL’s butt-kicking workouts and me keeping with my long runs during the off-season, my last few 10 mile runs have all been around 7:30 pace. This is significant because I technically haven’t started the running portion of my training for my qualifying quest. I’ll officially start that in late winter/early spring. The long runs I do now are “maintenance” runs to keep my long-run base up so I don’t have as much ground to cover (pun intended) once I get serious about my running training. So by knocking out 7:30s now, that’ll help the tone and hopefully expedite my speed training in the spring.

Running rant of the week: To the people of West Des Moines, Iowa - first of all, let me say that this side of Des Moines is filled with cozy neighborhoods, trendy coffee shops, beautiful houses and eye-popping landscaping. For that, I say thank you for being aesthetically pleasing to the eye. But, people, seriously, c’mon. What’s with the uncleared piles of snow and skating rinks you have for sidewalks??? You’d think that by living in nice neighborhoods and on busy streets, you’d make more of an effort to keep your sidewalks cleaned off. My “run” was more of a shuffle-and-slide-a-thon as I made my way through your “upper-income” neighborhoods. I guess I was expecting more what with the big houses and fancy landscaping and all. I figured everyone on this side of town would actually had a shovel or snow thrower. Let me be the first to tell you that shuffling down your sidewalks only to have to leap over the 3-foot high piles of snow and ice steeplechase style at every corner really sucks for us runners. Do us and every other WDM sidewalk-bound mountaineer a favor and clear off your sidewalks. I hate to be a whiny bitch about his, but there’s really no excuse, other than laziness, for not keeping your sidewalks passable. Especially at the corners. Take the extra few minutes and clear a path for everyone to get though. I couldn’t help but think as I was traversing the snow-piled corners, how would an elderly person make it through the piles? Answer – they wouldn’t.

OK, ranting done. Sorry about that. Just frustrates me. Especially since I’m not in training for a trail run.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with their families. Enjoy this time together and I’ll be back in a couple weeks with another post.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Up to Speed


OK, OK, so I’ve been getting a ton of grief for announcing in my last update (October) that “I’m back” when, in fact, I haven’t posted since then. What can I say, things have been hectic over the past couple months. Allow me to bring you up to speed…

[insert weak excuses for not blogging here]

Injured – Some of you may know this, as I’m sure you heard me whine and complain about it, but for those who don’t, I was injured for all of September and October and most of November. Well as injured as a runner can be and still function normally day-to-day. So I finally broke down and went to the doctor after experiencing knee pain for two months. What started as a small irritation in my left knee in September, turned into major knee pain by late-October. I was having trouble running, going up and down stairs and working out. I had cut-back my running mileage steadily over that two month period to try and give my knee a rest, but it just wasn’t getting any better. In fact, it was getting worse. So, I go to the doctor and sure enough, I have Runner’s Knee (tendinitis). By that point I was barely running 10 miles a week and had quit most leg workouts, so gearing-down for another couple weeks wasn’t too hard to do. It was harder on me mentally more than anything else, just ask Shannon, she’ll vouch for how whinny and bitchy I was from not being able to run. Nonetheless, I took it easy for a few more weeks and was able to resume my normal 20 – 30 miles a week running schedule in late November. Been gimping along ever since. J

Job – some of you may know this already, but for those who don’t, I chose to leave my current client, Aviva, and opted to pursue another consulting opportunity at Sammons Annuity Group. It’s a much smaller company than what I’ve ever worked at (400 employees), but the chance to work in a pure Agile project environment was something I couldn’t pass up. So I left* Aviva and started here last Monday. Ramping down at one client to go to another was like the sprint at the end of a marathon; you’re cruising along and all of a sudden, there’s a ton to do, and limited time to do it in. So, that chewed up a lot of my free time over the past few weeks.

* I’ve agreed to stay on at Aviva, working 5 – 10 hours a week (evenings/weekends) until the end of the year. So technically, I haven’t officially left there yet.

Home Life – what can I say, things are hectic for everyone around the holidays and our Halloween and Thanksgiving was no different. Though we didn’t travel far to be with families, the hustle and bustle was still present. That combined with an overwhelming amount of work to get done before “leaving” Aviva kept me pretty busy.

So there, those are my “excuses” for not keeping up with the bloggage. I dare not vow to keep up the blogging multiple times a week, but I have made it a goal to update this thing a few times a month. After all, my one, two, three….six steady followers are probably on pins and needles wondering how my training is going. You know you are!

Segway to a training update – Like I said a few paragraphs ago, I’m just coming back from a setback, so my miles aren’t quite where I’d like them, but I’ve still been able to crank out 20 miles/week (two “easy” runs and a long run of 10 miles) for the past few weeks. All and all, I’m not too far off my maintenance schedule for the “off-season”.

LL (my trainer, Lisa Leon) and I have been meeting one a week for the past few months and I’m happy to report that that is going well. LL continues to kick my butt with new and different exercises week-in and week-out. Things like Bounding, Reach Thrus, Superman-to-Banana Rolls, Side Plank Repeaters and my personal favorite; Bird Dogs. The goal here is for her to put together workout routines that help strengthen my muscle weaknesses (hips, gluts, lower back) and improve the imbalances I have (hammy vs. quad, low back vs. abs, inner thigh vs. outer thigh, etc). And to this point, she’s been doing a great job. I can prove it by the amount of sweat I leave on the gym floor by the end of a one-hour workout session. Apparently I have a lot of imbalances, but according to LL, most die-hard runners do. So we’ve been spending the first part of the off-season working diligently on lunges, core work, hip-flexors and glut firing (not that kind of firing, Chad).

As for logging miles, I’d like to stay on the 20 – 30 mile/week regiment for the next couple months, but with a winter that’s started off with one helluva bang (14 freakin’ inches and a blizzard for the first snowfall of the season – don’t get me started on why I didn’t replace my snow blower when it died last year); I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to run. I’m holding out hope that I can stay on that pace, otherwise getting to Boston might take longer than expected.

Next steps – continuing having LL whip me into shape and picking a spring marathon to qualify with.

For my non-running blog thought of the week – I recently joined a poker league as a winter activity to keep me out of trouble and hopefully sharpen my poker skills (or lack thereof). I think Shannon is secretly happy I did it so I’m not interrupting her Thursday Night TV with my constant puttering around the house and roughhousing with the boys during her shows. I’m sure she’ll enjoy the extra piece and quiet around the house a couple times a month. Anyway, the league meets twice a month (every other Thursday) and we had the first league tournament last week. It’s a points league where you accumulate points for how you place in each tournament (along with any money earnings for that night’s tourney finish – top 3 get paid), with the top point-getters finishing in the money at the end of the league. What a blast! It was like playing at Prairie Meadows; I didn’t know anyone (except for Big Sexy) and, more importantly, I didn’t know anyone else’s style of play. I was both nervous and anxious to play with a new group. In the end, I finished 3rd out of 11 taking home $30 in prize money. Not bad for my first showing. We’ll see if I can validate my showing next week for Week 2 of the league. I’m sure it won’t be easy, I have a feeling I’ll have at least one person gunning for me.

Ideally, I’d say, see you in a couple days with another post, but with me, you just never know…

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm Back!


OK, so I didn’t really go anywhere, but it’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I feel obligated to make the announcement that I’ve returned from my slacking of blogging. Actually, I wish I could say I’ve been slacking, but it’s been quite the opposite. The last few weeks have been crazy hectic at work with me being in Topeka, KS for most of last week for one of my projects. And when I’m not running around at work, Shannon, the boys and I have settled into our normally busy home life of running from place-to-place with whatever free time we have in the evenings on weekends.

So an update on my running/training schedule: I’ve officially decided not to run the 2009 Des Moines Marathon. This decision was difficult in that I feel like I could physically complete the ‘thon, but mentally I just haven’t been into the training and preparation leading up to the event. After having already achieved a PR in July, the continued preparation for the Des Moines ‘thon started taking a mental toll on me right away. Like I mentioned in my last post, I think I hit the wall with my training. Some refer to it as “over training”. No matter what I call it, I just feel that by forcing the run, I’m increasing my risk of injury or mental collapse. And for those who have run any kind of race, the mental aspect, the mental training and strength, is, in my opinion, far more difficult to overcome than the physical aspects. So by not having the desire to sustain the necessary training, I lost the urge to put in the required miles for training. If that makes sense…

Since my last post, I completed the Cyman Triathlon on September 13th. By my guesstimate, I completed the event in 1:25:00, 23 minutes faster than last year’s time and 2 minutes faster than Hickory Grove a month earlier. I say guesstimate because I don’t have an official time according to the event. Here’s how it went down: that morning when I got to the transition area right after it opened, I went to the registration table to get my arm and leg marked with my bib number and age. When I got there, I told the half-awake guy my bib number. “261”, I said. Without feeling the need to double check my arm for what he put on there, I got my markings and headed to the chip table for my timing chip. Here is where I made my mistake; instead of telling the lady handing out chips my bib number, I just showed her my arm and reached for the timing chip she handed me. Again, without checking the numbers, I slapped on chip on around my ankle and started setting up my transition area. What I didn’t notice was the zombie with the marker put ‘216’ on my arm instead of ‘261’. So when I was given chip 216, it wasn’t even activated; thus not registering anytime I went over a timing mat in and out of transition. But thanks to being able to recognize other people’s bib numbers in the pictures Shannon took of my heading in and out of transition, I was able to piece together fairly accurate times for each leg or the tri.

I had a great swim, approximately 9:45 in the water. My first transition was considerably faster than Hickory Grove, probably less than 2 minutes. The bike however was a different story. About 10 miles into the 14.5 bike while aggressively changing gears, I threw my chain. At first I couldn’t believe I had done it. It’s never happened to me before, in training or an event, but I’ve heard it happening to other people. And I can confirm what I’ve heard from them, throwing your chain during the bike portion of a tri “sucks balls” (quoting Jay from every single Kevin Smith movie). Once it registered that I was pedaling my ass off and not going anywhere, I quickly pull off to the side of the road, chuck the chain back on the gear box, and hop back on my bike with only losing a minute or so. All-in-all, it wasn’t that big of a setback, but mentally, I was thrown for a loop and just that couple minutes of not making progress on the route wrecked my psyche for the rest of the event. I kept having that, “hurry up, now you’re behind schedule” feeling. I was able to hammer out the remaining 4.5ish miles in decent time; by my guess I think I averaged a little over 18 mph on the bike, so I was pretty happy with that. Transition two from bike to run was quick, but what happened on the run “equally sucked balls” (again, quoting Jay from the big screen duo of Jay and Silent Bob). About a mile into the run, I got the worse side cramp I’ve ever had while running. Cramping has happened to me a few times during training runs, but never during an event. So needless to say I was frustrated and pissed off at my body. Again all I kept thinking was, “now I’m even farther behind schedule!” I had to stop and walk through the water station at mile one and the rest of the run was a hard grind. I had to slow my pace just to allow myself the opportunity to breathe deeply. The worst part was my legs felt great, but I couldn’t capitalize on “fresh” legs for the run. In the end, the entire run was terrible, but I still managed a 24 minute 5k.

Thanks to a great swim, a quick fix on the bike and a grinder of a run, I was able finish with a new PR for a sprint triathlon.

So with Cyman complete and my decision not to run DSM, my events for 2009 are all but over. In a few weeks, I’ll be running the Susan G. Koman run for breast cancer. That will be my last event of the year. However, my quest for qualifying to the 2011 Boston Marathon officially started yesterday. I met with my new trainer, Lisa Leon, who subsequently kicked my ass with her redonkulously challenging lunge and squat-based workout. Nonetheless, I feel like I’m off to a good start with my training. I know I said I would start my Boston qualifying training until November, but Lisa and I agreed to ease into this round of training as it is something new that I’ve never done before. Now all I need to do is figure out which 2010 marathon I’ll use to qualify on.

Lastly, I’d like to send a shout out to the high school douchers that went out of their way to splash me on my run today. Thanks a bunch, a-holes! Its one thing to get splashed inadvertently, but it’s another to watch a car switch lanes for no other reason other than to careen through the only puddle big enough to reach the poor sap running in the rain. Man, that shit was funny when I was doing it in high school. Now it kind of sucks being on the receiving end. God it sucks getting old…

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Can you hit "the wall" during training?

Is it possible to hit “the wall” during training? After a couple months of lackluster, unmotivated training, I think it is. I tell ya, I can’t seem to find the energy or drive to train like I did in the spring. I think because I hit my marathon goal time for the year back in July, I’m having a hard time staying motivated for the DSM marathon in October. It’s not that I don’t want to run it, because I do. It’s just that I don’t want to train as hard as I did in the spring and early summer. I was going balls-out with my workouts; Mondays were 60 minute recovery workouts, Wednesdays I was meeting with my trainer for an hour and Fridays were hour and a half hard workouts. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were run days ranging from 6 – 22 miles, and I rested on Sundays. At that time I was really getting into the functional and leg workouts because I had never done them before, so it kept my attention and desire. I was seeing direct results in my running pace dropping steadily, so the reward for me was totally worth the effort. That was then. I think it’s safe to say I’ve plateaued with my training since the Okoboji marathon in July. Though I understand that my per minute pace time can’t always drop like it had been, I get that, but I’m to the point that even running doesn’t interest me like it used to. Now I’m running because I have to, not because I want to. I remember going through this when I trained for my first marathon in 2007; towards the end of my training I was running because that’s what the training group was doing. And if I didn’t do it, I thought I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon. But, when I finished that marathon, all the thoughts and feelings of the mentally challenging training vanished and were replaced by tears of joy and the incredible high of doing something I never thought possible (yes, I actually cried when I finished my first marathon; I was overwhelmed with emotion).

So, it is 2007 all over again? Part of me doesn’t think so. I say that because this time I know what to expect when finishing a big race. Granted, no two finishes are ever the same, but I’ve got perspective that I didn’t have in ’07. This time it’s different. Lately I’ve been asking myself if I really want to run the DSM marathon. My answer is always “yes”, but to what extent? Because I’ve plateaued in my training, I don’t feel like I’ll be able to better my PR from July. So it’s hard to stay motivated to run 26.2 miles “just for the shirt” as they say. Again, I get that I’m not always going to be able to run faster than the time before, but having that revelation sink in has been a factor lately when it comes to motivation. OK, so I don’t know I won’t run faster, but based on my training output and lack of motivation lately, it feels like it’s not going to happen. Next year I’ll be on a quest to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon, so that training should keep my attention and dedication. I seem to be in a lull since last month. I wonder how long it will last. Since my “official” training for Boston doesn’t start until January, it could be a while before I snap out of it.

So, what say you devoted readers of the GimpyRunning blog? All two of you. :-) What’s your take on my dilemma? Am I burnt out or just a wuss that needs to suck it up and train? I’d like to know your thoughts.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hard Plastic and Steel Tips

T-minus seven weeks to the Des Moines Marathon. The countdown is on!

Saturday’s training run felt great; a nice, peaceful run through downtown and the ghetto by Drake University. 12.5 miles at a 7:40 pace. And it’s a good thing I was moving along, because we ended up having a busy weekend.

But rather go into that, I have a question for everyone: since when did Ladder Golf go from one ladder to two? I ask because when I went to Google the blueprints to make my own (there’s no way I’m going to pay $50 for something plastic when I can build it for $14 out of PVC), there was site-after-site outlining how to make two of them. When the heck did this happen? When I first learned how to play Ladder Golf (or Bolo Golf or Ladder Toss or whatever you want to call it) a few years ago, there was just one ladder. A player from each opposing team stood on either side of it, 20ish feet away. While two players tossed golf ball bolos, the other two would stand dangerously close to the ladder, drinking beer and heckling the players tossing balls. And the ladder was small and hard as hell to get a bolo to land on. Now, it would seem, that not only are there two ladders, they’ve grown to be twice as big as the original ladder I learned on. And what’s with the “golf balls” that come with the new game? They’re not golf balls; they’re more like soft chew toys for a puppy. Where’s the danger in that? Geez, can the make this game any easier or lazier!?! I mean, c’mon, it’s already one of the best “laziest games” ever, but having one ladder on each end the size of Buicks seems a bit much. Might as well call it “Even the Most Chemically Inconvenienced Person Could Hit the Ladder with the Nerf Golf Balls”.

As of now, I’m boycotting the latest double-ladder version of Ladder Golf. I say bring back the harder, more likely to get struck by a golf ball, version! It’s the whole Lawn Darts game all over again. Remember when those things were made out of hard plastic with steel tips? Injury was always mere seconds away at any given time when you played that game. That was the best part of the game; knowing that at any time you could be impaled in the foot by a dart. Man, those were the good old days. And then “they” deemed it too dangerous and came out with the Diet Coke version of the game with bean bag weighted tips and soft, bendy plastic for the body of the dart. What’s next, Styrofoam horse shoes? It’s bad enough that everything these days has smooth, plastic edges and with on kung fu grip (remember when Tonka trucks had sharp, steel corners?), but don’t mess with lazy, beer-drinking lawn games. Let the boycott begin!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hickory Grove Triathon Photos

OK gang, it's been a while since my last updated. Here's what's been going on...

For the past few weeks, I've been in a good training groove gearing up for the Hickory Grove Triathlon. Tuesdays are run/swim/run days that consist of running 2 miles from downtown DSM to Gray's Lake, swimming 2 - 3 laps around the buoys (at the beach), then running the 2 miles back to the gym downtown. I've been in this Tuesday training routine for the past 6 weeks. Thursdays are still medium length run days where I've been averaging 7 - 9 miles each run. And Saturdays are the long runs. In between those are the usual functional workout sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

My last few long runs have sucked. Yep, straight up been grinders that haven't felt good at all. Lately it's been my hips and lower back that have been bothering me a bit, but I think that may be from my shoes being old. In thinking back, I've had them about four months now, so time to get some new kicks. That's usually how I know my shoes have flattened out; when my back, hips and legs start aching.

Solid training, but challenging long runs for the past month gave me mixed feelings going into last weekend's triathlon. The Hickory Grove Tri - at Hickory Grove Park by Colo, IA - was my first tri since Cyman last September. Though I felt ready training-wise, I was still nervously excited to get it over with, so to speak. Because last year's tri was my first, I felt like I stood a good chance to post a better time with the HGTri. HGTri is a sprint triathlon consisting of a 500 yard swim, 15.5 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. Cyman is also a sprint tri and since it was my first one last year, my goal was just to finish it. With the HGTri, I was hoping to better each of my leg times. And I'm happy to say that I did just that! Here is a breakdown of my times:

500 yd Swim - 10:52
Transition 1 - 2:20
15.5 m Bike - 48:47
Transition 2 - 0:47
3.1 m Run - 22:30

Total time - 1:25:18

I bested my 2008 Cyman time by 22 minutes! The 2009 Cyman Triathlon is in three weeks where I'm hoping to shave off a few more minutes of my overall time. I think where I can improve the most is in the swim (I'm hoping for a 10 minute swim) and on the bike (Cyman is a mile shorter bike route, so hoping for 45 minutes). I'll keep everyone posted as to how Cyman goes in a few weeks. Until then, here are some pics that Shannon took at HGTri. Enjoy...

Getting In…



Swimming along…















Making sure I’m not the last one out of the water in my heat…























Heading to Transition Area…





















Hitting the road on the bike...
















This is what Chris and the boys do while I’m racing…
















Out of Transition…





















The final sprint…





















The finish…






















Heading home…
























The countdown is on to Cyman Triathlon on September 13, 2009. I invite everyone to come out and check out the action. Oh, and to see me in a Speedo! OK, that’s probably not the best way to recruit a large cheering section, but nonetheless, it’s a spectator-friendly tri and I’m sure you’d have a good time.
Until then, I’ll stay in training, drinking my “girlie beer” as Weirson would put it, gearing up for the next event…
















Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Greatest XM Channel Ever?

Run/Swim/Run again today. Swim felt the best it’s felt since I added it to my training routine a couple months ago. Usually my stroke feels good, but my breathing is rushed (get your minds out of the gutter). Today everything fell together and it turned out to be a solid swim. And I need a few more swims like this one because I signed up for the Hickory Grove Triathlon earlier this week. It’s at Hickory Grove Park (by Colo, Ia) on Aug 23rd. It’s a very spectator friendly tri, so I invite everyone to come out and enjoy the atmosphere. And don’t let the fact that I’ll be in a Speedo scare you off. Ok, enough about training…

So I got XM Radio for Blackout (what is what the boys named my Tahoe) and it didn’t take me long to find the Hip Hop channels. And sure enough, one of the first songs I heard on XL Backspin (the “throw back” hip hop and rap music channel) was ‘Posse on Broadway’ by Sir Mix-A-Lot. I hadn’t heard that song since 11th grade. Man, I was dope bumping that jam in my 1978 Honda Prelude. Booyah! Since then I’ve heard other great throw backs like; ‘Joy and Pain’ by Rob Base, ‘Ditty’ by Paperboy and even ‘3AM Eternal by KLF. I think this music channel could possibly be the best channel ever invented. Ever.
Quick show of hands, how many have not even heard of any of these songs? Almost everyone? Thought so!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Active Training Weekend

Greetings and happy Monday to everyone.

The Jones household had a busy training weekend. I was all set to run Saturday morning with the Capital Striders, but when my alarm went off at 5:15AM, I promptly turned it off and rolled back over for more sleep. I woke up when Spencer and Ty came in at 8:22 and were looking for breakfast. So I didn't get to my run until later that afternoon.

Since is was cool and breezy, I went ahead and ran my step-back 16 miles in the middle of the afternoon. I don't normally run my long runs at that time, but I thought I'd give it a shot since the weather was cooperating. The first 6 miles flew by and everything felt good. By mile 7 I was getting tired for the first time and was stuck running into the wind from DMACC to Casey's at 3rd & Ankeny Blvd. After a quick stop for water at Casey, I continued to 1st St, down to Trilene and by the time I got to Briarwood Golf Course, I was officially tired and looking for water. I was able to make it to the Casey's at 36th and Hwy 69 for another water break, but was getting more and more tired by the minute. I walked a bit then headed west on 36th to State St. Which was all up hill. Which I hadn't realized until I was running it. Isn't it amazing how you never really see how hilly a street is when you're driving on it? The entire time I was on 36th, I was running up hill. And it sucked. I was running against a cross-wind the entire way and there is nothing out there to slow the wind. But, the good news is that when I turned south on State St, It was downhill and down wind. Totally made up for the last two miles I had run on 36th St.

By the time I got to 18th & Irvingdale my legs were tired and heavy. And my right hamstring was tight and getting tighter with each stride. To protect both my hammy's, I ended up walking a few times during my last 2 miles in. I don't normally walk that much (shot my per/minute time), but was worried that if I over did it, I'd possibly pull a hamstring. And that would be the end of the DSM marathon just like that.

In the end, 16 miles in 2:18:00 (8:37/mile). Not what I was hoping for time-wise, but finished it without an injury. Next week's long run is 20 miles. Hopefully that will go better.

So that was Saturday. Sunday Shannon ran 6.4 miles in the morning and I went for a quick 10 mile bike ride. I had taken my tri bike (Specialized Allez Elite) in on Tuesday for a tune up and didn't get it back until Saturday. It was nice to be on the wheels again, but I had forgotten how tiring biking could be when you're trying to maintain a certain mph throughout a ride. For now, I'm trying to keep it between 15 - 18 mph until I can log some longer rides. Then I'll think about kicking up to 20 mph. We'll see how that goes....

So after a long run Saturday and a bike ride Sunday afternoon, I played volleyball in league Sunday night and, surprise, surprise, had no legs whatsoever. It felt like I was trying to jump out of quick sand. I just couldn't get my legs to come around. So, lesson learned for me - no biking in the afternoon, two hours before volleyball. DOH!

On a side note, I'm going to try and get my hands on some pictures from the events I've done this year. I'm hoping to get them posted yet this week. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Busy Not-So-Busy Week

So after all the running and on-the-go vacationing we've done over the last few weeks, this week was supposed to be one of those nice and easy, stay-at-home weeks where the evenings are empty and everyone juts hangs out at home. Umm...yeah...totally didn't happen. As it is with every week in the summer at the Jones household, we've been on the run yet again this week. It's not a bad thing because we've had fun running around. I was just hoping for a quiet week coming off consecutive trips to the lakes. Anyway, here's the week in rewind...

Monday was a typical Monday with the boys still wound up from the weekend. Makes for a long evening of noise, taddling and drama. Tuesday ended up being movie night because we went to Steele's flag football game at Valley Stadium on Wednesday. Game was at 7:15, so didn't get home until 9. The Kamikazes lost, but made a game of it in the second half. Thursday Shannon and I subbed in volleyball on Matt and Amanda's Waukee team. Dropped the boys off at my 'rents and didn't get back home with them until 9:45. And for the record, the volleyball leagues in Waukee play by some back asswards rules. Since when can someone from the back row come up and block at the net??? Oh and rally point scoring blows. This morning I was amazed at how easily the boys got up and got moving! We were invited to the Barnstormers playoff game tonight, but going to pass since it doesn't feel like we've been home much this week. That and I'm running 16 tomorrow morning, so want to be rested for that.

On to the training runs this week.
- Tuesday: ran/swam/ran to/at/from Grays Lake. I landed hard on my left shoulder on Sunday in volleyball (actually thought I might have broken my collar bone at first. Turns out I'm just a pussy and just banged it real good), so I wasn't sure how it'd feel during the running or swimming. It's 2 miles to the beach at Grays. I swam 2 laps around the buoys (approx 500M). Then 2 miles back to the gym. Entire work out took me just a little under an hour. Shoulder felt good the whole time so that's reassuring to know it's not severely injured.

- Thursday: ran 8 miles with Cap. Got to give a "what's up" nod to Mix whose (still) nursing a sore heel/achilles. Rest up and heal quick, Mix! Cap and I ran the Art Center loop. Man I love this route. Especially when the temps are cool like they've been. The road behind the Art Center and the trail through Water Works park are very pretty this time of year. The conversation was great and pace was nice and quick; probably around a 7 minute mile.

Like I mentioned above, stepping back on Saturday and only running 16 miles. I'll have to add-on mileage if I run with the Capital Striders training group; they're only going 10. Haven't decided if I'm running with them or will just loop around Ankeny. Will let you know on Monday when I rewind the weekend.

I'm hoping to get my bike out of hock from Kyle's Bikes in time to get some miles in this weekend. I took it in for a tune-up on Tuesday and haven't heard from them since. C'mon Kyle, don't leave me hanging!

And in a touch of irony, on my way back from having coffee with LDV this morning I saw a guy puffing away in front of a building. Cigarette in one hand and his pack of smokes in the other. The hand he was holding his cigarette with was the same hand he had his LiveStrong bracelet on. Maybe I'm being overly ignorant here, but that struck me as stupidly ironic.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tired Legs

I have tired legs....still. I ended up taking this past Monday off from working out as a reward for my showing at the Okoboji Marathon last Saturday. Though I didn't workout, I did "loop the lake" (walked around Gray's Lake) with Lori, so I wasn't doing absolutely nothing on my day off. :-) So, as of Tuesday, I consider myself right back into "training" for the DSM marathon and a couple triathlons I have my eyes on. Tuesday's and today's run were good from a cardio workout and breathing stand point, but my legs felt heavy and sluggish during both runs. The DSM marathon is in October and having already achieved my time goal for the year last weekend, I'm trying to figure out what type of run I want it to be. I was hoping for 3:30:00 for DSM in October, but now I wonder if I shouldn't set my sights on trying for a better time. Or, maybe I should just back-off on my training and just run DSM for "fun". I know, I know, who runs marathons just for fun?!?! According to Shannon, I do. :-) I will admit, all of a sudden I find myself within striking distance of my Boston Marathon qualifying time: 3:10:59 for my age group (it seems like I'm a ways away from that time, but to my credit, I've knocked 38 minutes off my marathon time over my last two marathons - 20 minutes of that was between last October to now). It's a stretch, and probably not very likely that I'll hit that time this October, but I'm giving serious thought to trying to quality for Boston this year. So again, I'm back to what type of DSM Marathon I should run: just for fun and start the "serious" Boston training next year; or kick it up a notch now so I don't have as far to go next year? I suppose this weekend's long run will be a determining factor. I'm curious to see how my body responds to a to a fairly lengthy "long run" having just ran the 'thon last weekend; I'll probably go 18 miles this Saturday morning. If it feels good, then I might be inclined to continue grinding out my training to see how much more, if any, time I can knock off running the DSM Marathon. If Saturday's run feels like junk, then maybe I'll step-back the hard running for a while and just focus on keeping my cardio up. I guess I'll find out Saturday. I'll let everyone know on Monday what the verdict is. Until then, I'm patiently waiting for my legs to stop being tired. LOL.

Monday, July 20, 2009

3:30:40

Before I start in on my rewind of the Okoboji Marathon, let me apologize for the lack of pre-race bloggage leading up to the event. I was stuck grinding it out at work to free myself up for the weekend. And once we got to the lakes I didn’t have access to the Internet, so I wasn’t able to generate a lot of pre-race hoopla. With that being said, here is the 32nd annual Okoboji Marathon in review courteous of GimpyRunning:

First, let me start with the AMAZING weather. I still can’t believe the better-than-perfect running conditions for the race. 70 degrees in July! Can you believe it?!? The temp was a cool and crisp 51 degrees (and no wind) at 6AM for the start of the marathon. Perfect. The entire race was drenched with perfect weather conditions, low humidity and just enough cloud cover to keep the sun busy in a game of hide-n-seek for most of the race. I think the temp was around 65 when I crossed the finish line. Fatigue wasn’t a factor for me at all during the run, and part of that was due to the Mother Nature being so kind. More on fatigue, or lack thereof, later…

I will admit the start of the race was fairly un-organized. I’m sure if you ask anyone that participated in any of the Okoboji Homecoming events (marathon, ½ marathon, triathlon, 10K); they’ll say the same thing. Just ask Shannon about the start of the 10K race (very unorganized). More on Shannon’s race in a bit. Before the gun sounded, there were a few runners that were unsure of where to be due to the lack of the usual pre-race announcements and countdown via a bullhorn. Regardless, everyone got situated and the race started right on-time at 6AM. I do feel obligated to point out that I led this marathon…for about 2 tenths of a mile…then I got passed like I was standing sill by 10 people. Damn Elites! Nonetheless I can say I led a marathon at the start. :-)

So this route was, by far, the hilliest route I’ve ever run for any race on (including the Bix7 – per capita, there were more hills on this route than the two big ones on the Bix route). The way the route is set up, the marathon goes around the West Lake and overlaps the first 6 miles with the last 6 miles. In other words, the start line of the race is also mile 20, with the finish being at Arnolds Park (picture running around a track and overlapping the last 100 yards). The bulk of the hills are miles 1 – 6 and then again, those same hills for miles 20 – 26 along Lake Shore Drive (LSDr). For anyone that has not been on LSDr in Okoboji, you are missing out. It’s a four mile stretch of winding road, cut right out of the forest, lined with beautiful homes and breathtaking views of the lake. Whenever we’re up there, I always make it a point to either run or drive on LSDr. I spent the first 6 miles of the route doing what I always do when I’m running on LSDr; taking in the scenery and enjoying the quiet morning. My head felt like it was on a swivel checking out all the sites and sounds. It was so peaceful, I didn’t even notice the hills and the next thing I knew I was crossing the famed bridge that separates East Lake from West Lake (the one that is on all the postcards). One more long hill and I was passing the Arnolds Park entrance. I was 7 miles into the race and was feeling great. I had found a gate and rhythm that was comfortable and everything felt good.

The next several miles consists of running along Highway 71, ducking in and out of clustered neighborhoods and resorts, and back for a long stretch along Highway 86. Going into the run, I was a little nervous about running along the highways because the route is not a closed route. Traffic is free to move along the highway as it normally would on a Saturday morning. Thankfully though, there were enough race supporters and nice drivers on the route that there was never any danger to the runners or bikers (the triathlon bike route loops the lake on the same highways as well). For the most part, the drivers got over enough and gave room that I didn’t have to leave the pavement of either highway. I did not want to run on the loose gravel shoulder. There were only one or two ignorant people that didn’t move over or slow down (more on ignorant drivers later).

The half-way point of the marathon is at the Wahpeton green space, right off of Highway 86. Since the race is smaller and (very) loosely organized, there is no clock at the half-way point like there is in other, larger races. So by this point in the race I was wondering what my time/pace were. I had been running in a comfortable groove and my legs seemed fresh and light. I as I approached the halfway mark, I casually asked one of the on-lookers what time it was. “About 7:45” he said. Here I was without any expectations for time for this race (after all, I kept referring to it as a “barometer run” – a race you run just to see where you are at in your training for a similar event later on in the year), and I found myself on pace for a 3:30:00 finish. Trying not to get caught up in the math, I kept my stride and my “wheel turn” felt great at that point, so I just stayed in that groove and kept chugging away.

Between miles 13 and 18 there were a few points that I couldn’t seen anyone in front of or behind me due to there only been a 100 marathoners spread out around the lake. At times it was peaceful, feeling like I was running by myself, and others is was nerve racking as I was left wondering if I had made a wrong turn and was of course. In the end, I stayed on the route thanks to the barely visible arrows painted on the roads, showing the way (a couple times I had to make last second turns to stay on the route because I couldn’t see the arrows until I was right on top of them).

I took a short walk break at mile 18 to take in some water and PowerAde and then was back to the grind after a minute or so of walking. Mile 18 is where the route leaves Highway 86 and cuts through Triboji Resort/Neighborhood, spitting me out on the far north side of the lake. At this point I felt like I was in a good groove and put it on “cruise control” as some runners would say. Right around miles 22 – 24 is where I’ve hit “the wall” during my past two marathons. I kept waiting for that to happen as I approached mile 22, but it never did. I just stayed in my groove and kept marveling at how fresh my legs felt. I guess four months of running 18 -22 mile training runs has paid off.

Just like before, I kept my mind loose, wondering from random topic to random topic and the next thing I know I was back at the famed bridge. On the sidewalk on the north side of the bridge is what I referred to as my “home free point”; mile “25” painted on the ground. At that point, I knew I was going to finish strong since I hadn’t hit the wall by then. With only one mile to go, started up the last hill and quickly approached The Emporium, which is situated right next to the Arnolds Park green space. I could see the finish line across the open green space and had only one more turn to go to reach the finish. I was 300 feet from the end when it happened…I ran into a car.

I didn’t even see the little old lady’s car until I was right on top of it. As I was running on the far right side of the road that approaches the Arnolds Park entrance, she, along with her three old bitty friends in the car, had passed me on the left and decided right after she was clear of me that she wanted an open parking spot on my right side. So she turn in front of me towards the parking spot leaving me know time to stop and, BAM! I ran right into the side of her car, just behind the back passenger door. A bit stunned, I collected myself and did the only thing I could think of doing; pounded on the trunk of her green Taurus as I continued behind her. I couldn’t believe she cut me off and I had run right into her car. There were several on-lookers that were yelling at her to get out of the way of the other runners continuing down the road towards the finish. Now completely adrenalized, I rounded the last corner and finished strong.

3:30:40 was my time. I finished 14th overall (out of 100 marathoners) and 4th in my age group. After the race I kept saying that I couldn’t believe how good the run felt. How much fun it was. How great the route was. How f-ing crazy the little old lady that cut me off was. How perfect the weather was. How I never expected to best my time from last October by 20 minutes! How I’m already looking forward to running it again next year.

It was a great race that resulted in a new PR for me. It’s one that I will never forget.

I promised more on Shannon’s race, and here it is: Congratulations to my lovely wife for knocking out her first 10K race! She smashed her goal time by 6 minutes and looked strong and relaxed as she was coming in. She finished in 1:14:15 and is already talking about running the Des Moines Half Marathon. That’s my girl!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Story of GimpyRunning

For those of you who don’t know, GimpyRunning is the name of the tattoo I have on my back, between my shoulder blades. Here is a picture of it in case you’ve been lucky enough not to have had the pleasure of seeing me with my shirt off. :-)

Before I get too far into this whole blog thing, I thought I would share with you where that name, design and state-of-mind came from.

GimpyRunning was born out of two things: running (obviously) and the fact that I’m always gimping around. For those that have known me for a long time, they’ll tell you when I was growing up and through my 20s, I always managed to injure myself or get dinged-up doing the simplest of tasks that often never warrant getting hurt (kicking a football on a tennis court, for example). But, because I’m so *ahem* talented, I managed to end up bruised and battered from just about any activity I did. [The back story here is that most of it was a product of my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) being so bad at the time. It seemed that whenever I would do anything active – softball, football, golf, etc – my RA would flare up enough to make walking uncomfortable. Hence the hobbling around – or a better word would be gimping around.]

It was during a time when my RA was at its worse that I was first referred to as Gimpy. It was when I was coaching at Van Meter High School. I was the assistant Varsity boys basketball coach and head JV basketball coach. One of the conditioning drills we would run during practices was good old line drills. You know the ones where you would start at the baseline line, run to and touch the free throw line, run back and touch the baseline, then run to the half court line, touch it and run back to the baseline. And so on. To up the ante for the kids (as well as to keep them motivated during practices) the head coach and I had a deal with them: because I was young and “in shape”, I would run the line drills with them and as soon as any of the players beat me, then practice would be over with (this drill was always at the end of practice, naturally, so I was fresh and they were tired from a full practice). So night-in and night-out we’d usually run 4 – 6 full-court line drills before one of them would beat me. It was after one practice when we were all heading out of the gym to our cars when one of the kids saw me gimping my way along and asked me why I was gimpy. I explained to him my situation with RA and the affects it had on my body. Several of the other players overheard our conversation and starting referring to me as Coach Gimpy. From there, the nickname stuck.

It wasn’t until a few years after that when I really got into running**. One night I was reminiscing with friends about that period in my life and how I would compete against the kids in line drills, but would always end up gimpy that evening or the next day. At that same time, I had started to kick around the idea of forming my own running group and was looking for a catchy name to call it. After thinking about how beautifully ironic the two names sounded together, I came up with GimpyRunning. And I thought every good running club needs a good logo, right? So I came up with the design of a free spirited stick man, with his crazy, dreadlock hair bouncing around from running. Granted my running club isn’t off the ground yet, but I’ve associated the GimpyRunning design into every aspect of my running life. One of those aspects is in the form of a tattoo on my back. To me, GimpyRunning is my way to mentally and visually symbolizing fun and happiness in its purest form. That tattoo serves as a permanent reminder that life is about enjoying the little things; the simple things that bring joy to your heart and soul. That is what running does for me. It’s my escape. It’s my stress relief mechanism. It’s how I stay in shape. It’s what I do to relax. It’s what keeps me young.

Today you’ll hear me refer to GimpyRunning as my alter ego. I proudly wear the logo as a moniker for all my training and race events. It has become my own little version of a “bat symbol” that I want everyone to associate me with. So when you see the GimpyRunning logo on clothing, pictures or overhear people talking about it at the water cooler, you can say, “hey, I know that guy”. OK, so my little clothing and marketing empire isn’t off the ground yet either, but hopefully it will be soon…

** One thing to note here is that the more I got into running, the further into remission my RA went. So ever since I started running and working out 7 years ago, my RA has been in remission. How’s that for sweet irony?

Monday, July 13, 2009

T-minus 5 Days to Okoboji Marathon

I'm inside a week before the hilliest marathon I've run to-date and my lazy ass didn't run my last tune-up run this past weekend. Chalk it up to the busiest weekend I've had in a couple years (poker Friday night, Summerfest activities Saturday morning - afternoon, Barnstormer's game and UFC fight Saturday night).

Waking up Sunday morning for my long run - I pushed the run back from Saturday because with poker night being the Friday before, I knew I wouldn't bet much sleep that night - it was picture-perfect for a run; cool temps, little breeze and just enough cloud cover to keep me from getting fried on the run. I got up around my usual Sunday morning time (6:30AM) to let the puppy out for her morning business and as I sat on the deck waiting for Cede to finish I thought to myself, "man, it's an awesome morning". But instead of jumping into my running gear when I got back inside, I made a pot of coffee, turned on Pokemon (for Spencer - naturally he was up and at 'em by then) and returned to the deck. Sure, I would've liked to knock out my finally taper run before the marathon, but I just couldn't get my lazy butt off the outdoor love seat on the deck. It was nice to sit and take-in the quiet morning with my coffee and overly-rambunctious puppy (she chased her tail for the better part of 20 minutes). I haven't just sat and enjoyed a sunrise in a long time.

After a half hour or so of just sitting and sipping java, Shannon finally found me and joined me on the deck. Before long Ty joined us as well and we all sat for close to an hour and a half enjoying the morning. It was that last refreshing morning cleansing I was hoping for before the big race next week.

So though I didn't physically run to round-out my preparation for the race, I mentally prepared and relaxed my way through the morning to officially finish my training for the Okoboji Marathon next week. This will be the first time that I've fully rested the week before a 'thon, so we'll see if this strategy pays off (if it works for LDV, it can work for me, right?). Then again, I might be kicking myself next week for slacking this week.... I guess I'll find out in 5 days.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

07/09/2009 Training Run

I see I've picked up a couple followers to this here blog. Obviously more will start coming in droves once news of this spectacular blogspot hits the mainstream outlets. OK, who am I kidding. But I guy can dream, can't he?

Anyway, onto the today's run. Today was just a quick 8 miler commonly known to my running group as "Art Center Loop". Starting at Nationwide Insurance (where I meet up with my fellow pavement pounders) on the corner of 10th & Grand, we head West up Grand to 45th St (the entrance to the Art Center). We follow 45th South past the creepy, algae-invested pond; past the swimming pool and hook into the John Pat Dorian trail. Following the trail to the river and eventually the back side of Water Works park, we reach our unofficial walking point: the pedestrian bridge the crosses over the Des Moines river. After the short walk, we follow Water Works Park Rd East back to entrance of the park at Fleur Dr. Crossing Fleur at the entrance of Grays Lake, we jump onto the walking path along the river, heading North back towards downtown. A quick shot over the George Washington Carver Bridge and another left (North) turn onto 16th St and we find ourselves back at Grand Ave. Taking Grand East into downtown and ending back at Nationwide at 10th & Grand. Total length of the route is close to 8 miles. I throw in an extra .5 miles since I'm running to and from Gym F/X. So a little over 8 miles for me.

Today's run was ideal. Uncharacteristically cool temps thanks to the cloud cover with a slight breeze from the North made for a quick pace. I don't have a Garman GPS watch, but my guess is that it felt like a 7:40ish pace. As usual, the conversation and company were top-notch (we covered Mike Jackson to Steve McNair to 80/35 Fest and the music industry). I'm still feeling the affects of yesterdays workout as far as tired muscles go (met with my new trainer and he put me through the ringer), but nothing that kept me from having a good run.

Next run is this Saturday's training run. My last run before the Okoboji Marathon (July 18th): a nice and easy 16 mile step-back run. More details on that run to come...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

GimpyRunning Blog Off The Ground!

Today I'm officially launching the GimpyRunning blog!

After several months of asking my wife, "why don't I blog about running?", I've finally gotten around to making that happen. Although in my defense, getting the GimpyRunning blogspot off the ground after only a few months is actually pretty quick for me. Took me almost three years to do the whole Facebook thing.

So in the coming days/weeks/months/years I'll be recapping runs, giving advice, sharing experiences and other tidbits of useless information about running (or not about running) to anyone that is willing to read or wants to know about me personally or running in general. Either way, prepare to be indulged with all the running information you care to absorb. OK, who am I kidding, I'm going to use this bad boy as my vehicle for everything and anything I want to blog about.... :-)

Enjoy!