3.1, 6.2, 12.4, 13.1, 26.2
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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!