3.1, 6.2, 12.4, 13.1, 26.2

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faster Than a Horse

I’m upset with HyVee. More like pissed off. At one of their business practices in particular: not being able to get a kid’s meal “to go”. If you follow me on Twitter, you know what I’m talking about. In short, they will not let you get a kid’s meal to go. WTF? I tried to order a kid’s meal to go for my 8 year old last night and I was told “No”. They cited some lame policy about people cheating the system by ordering a kid’s meal, then secretly loading-up more food before hitting the door. Are you kidding me? I had two kids with me Captain Obvious behind the counter. One of which will eat the kid’s meal when we get home, you Jackwagon. With a dumbfound, confused look on my face, I asked for clarity on the ruling:
Me, “What? I can’t get a kid’s meal to go?”
Captain Obvious, “No. I can give you a kid’s meal, but I’m going to have to charge you full price”
Me, “What? You’re kidding me, right?”
Captain Obvious, “No. That’s the policy”
Me (steam rolling out my ears), “Uh, no thank you” (mumbling my frustration under my breath)

What really gets me is they pack the container so full that there’s no way to get anything else in there anyway. Besides, do I friggin’ look like I’m a high schooler looking to scam the system for a few extra morsels from the salad bar? Use your damn brain, people!

OK, rant done. I’m better now. On with the show…

Running Update
Been another great week of running for this cat. Knowing I wasn’t going to make my Thursday run due to a card game at my father’s house (more on that below), I decided for some speed work on Tuesday to hold me over until my Saturday long run. And at the YMCA no less! For those of you who know me and the type of stuck-up, snooty runner I am, you know how I feel about running on a treadmill. I loathe it. But, despite how I feel about tready, I opted for speed work at the Y rather than running outdoors (I hear you gasping, LDV ). It had nothing to do with the weather; it was actually a decent evening to run. I just wanted a controlled environment to try some speed work. It had been 9 months since my last serious, focused speed work session, so I was a little nervous about it and wasn’t exactly sure how it would go. I started off with a ½ mile warm-up at an 8:30 pace. Then kicked it up to a 7:45 pace for the second ½ mile. With my legs warmed up and ready, at mile 2, I upped the speed to a 6:55 pace. I had forgotten how good it feels to stretch the pace and let my legs fly. I was able to maintain the 6:55 pace for the entire second mile, then kicked it back to a 7:45 pace for a short recovery. At mile 2.25 I jammed the pace to 6:30 and was able to hold it for an entire mile. Recovered for the next quarter mile at a 7:30 pace. At mile 3.75 I did the unthinkable (to me anyway): I set the pace to 6:10 and let my legs fly for a short ½ mile. I was huffing and puffing, but it felt great to sprint. Ended the workout with a cool-down from mile 4.25 – 4.5. Not your average speed work session, but it worked for me. Oh, and I was beat-down tired afterwards. …and sore the next day. Damn this old body!

Thursday = no run. Instead, I got rolled at the card table by a bunch of old, retired cops. More on that below.

My long run this week was a step-back 7 miler. It was very windy here last Saturday; sustained winds around 17 - 20mph with gusts up to 30mph straight out of the north. I picked a route that was mostly east-west in direction to keep me from having to run into the stiff north wind. I ran from my house east down the main drag of Ankeny, then a quick right at Cherry St, then a left on 3rd (through Old Town Ankeny – another one of my favorites for running) down to Casey’s at 3rd & Blvd. And back for 7 miles.

There is a lot of holiday, “townie” things going on in Ankeny on the weekends this time of year. And one of those things is horse-drawn carriage rides through Old Town. And, just as I turned onto 3rd St, in the middle of the Old Town section, I found myself next to the horse-drawn carriage. The horses looked like they were enjoying their leisurely stroll as I passed them. The folks in the carriage, however, did not (note the weather conditions I described above). I politely waived to the kids and parents in the carriage and gave a “what’s up” nod to one of the horses as I ran ahead. I bring this up, because of the obvious significance and likely only conclusion that can be drawn from this; I can run faster than a horse. :-)

In the end, the wind wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Granted, I had several layers on and was on a route that was mostly shielded from the wind, but nonetheless, a good run. Next week: 10 miles in the snow. Ah, the first snowy run of the season. Can’t wait!

Training Update
Four weeks into the Men’s Health workout and still liking it. Lots of back and shoulder work; which I needed. With only two weeks left for this routine, I’m already looking ahead to the next lifting/workout series. Any suggestions? I was thinking of incorporating more leg/hip exercises for this next series. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough squats or lunges. Do you guys ever get that feeling? Anyway, my goal is to get something locked in place by next week so the transition from one routine to the next is short and simple.

I was able to get back in the pool this week. But it didn’t feel good. Largely due to the fact that I was tired and hadn’t eaten well leading up to the swim. I only cranked out ¾ mile before I decided to pack it in. It was one of those situations where I was so tired I could tell my form was way off. Breathing pattern wasn’t right. Legs were slow. Arms were out of sync. I was working much harder than I should’ve been. Oh well, at least I made ¾ mile, right? Next week: 1.2 miles.

Non-Running Thought of the Week
So I mentioned above I played cards with my dad and his retired cop buddies. Holy schnikes, I got rolled! Bought-in for $40 and left with empty pockets and my tail between my legs. These rat pack wannabes play games like “Iron Cross”, ”Chase the Lady”, “7-card High/Low Split Jacks-or-Better to Open; Trips-or-Better to Win” and “7-card Low in the Hole is Wild with a Hole Buster on the Last Card”. No joke. Average pot size (after the ante and several rounds of betting) is $15 - $20. Real money, by the way.

In the end, I had a great time. Listening to those guys banter back and forth cracks me up. Just like in the movies. Oh, and did I mention I was the first to leave (at 10PM on a week night) and got heckled for it. Old Bastards….. :-)

Remember, “You’re not running until you’re GimpyRunning”.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hillbilly Enablers and Honking in The Key of 'F'

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving break. I got to spend copious amounts of time with family and friends. As a bonus, my sister was in town for the week from Kentucky, so it was nice to see her and her family. Which reminds me, I’m mad at her. In response to my last blog entry entitled ‘Bucket of Cookie Dough’, her and her husband gave me a Pillsbury log of chocolate chip cookie dough. It was funny; we laughed. But sure enough, I’m half-way through the log, slowly taking it down one spoonful at a time. Damn you Hillbillies! You know I have no will power when it comes to cookie dough! She is what I’d call ‘An Enabler’. LOL. Anyway, on with the show…

Running Update
I ended up having a good week of running this week; I’m pretty proud of that. Typically over the Thanksgiving break, I tell myself I’ll stay in my running and workout schedules, but I inevitably don’t. This year was an exception. I ran 5 miles on Thanksgiving Day morning and knocked out an easy 10 miler Saturday morning.

My long run this week was a good one; 10 miles under a bright sun and good temps for late November. There are a few certain parts of Ankeny that I really like running though, and after nearly four months, I was able to return to one of them; Ordnance Road. At first glance, there’s really nothing special about the road; it’s pretty ordinary. As a matter of fact, it’s plain and boring. But that’s why I like it; it’s simple, easy and unassuming. For those of you who know Ankeny, it’s the stretch of Ordnance Road from State Street to Walnut Street. It’s a long, gradual half-mile uphill heading east. On one side of the street is light commercial businesses; a landscaping business, a couple collision repair shops, a “townie” bar and even an old-school lumberyard. And on the other side of the street are older, smaller houses will modest sized yards. Again, nothing special about the street at all; but for me, each time I’m on the sidewalk, racking up the miles, there’s just something about the aura of each house’s characteristics and now it contrasts with the businesses across the street that seems to relax me. If running is my drug, then this street is my high. The balance of commercial business hustle-and-bustle contrast against the laid-back, quiet residential setting is both soothing and comforting. Ever since I ran up and down this road a couple years ago, I always try to incorporate Ordnance into my long runs. That’s why it’s been so long since I’ve run it; it’s part of my double-digit running routes. If you’re looking around for me next Saturday morning, I’ll be on Ordnance Road enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of one of my favorite running spots.

Reflecting on my preferred running street got me thinking; what’s your favorite stretch of running real estate? Do you have that one area that you always enjoy running through? Or perhaps that one street that brings back memories everything you run on it? Respond in the comments section to let everyone know where your favorite path/trail/street/area is.

Training Update
So I mentioned last week about my strategy for not over-indulging in the Thanksgiving feasts that abound this time of year. And I’m happy to report that I did a pretty good job with not consuming too much. We had two big meals to hit on Thanksgiving Day, and I successfully navigated though both of them without over-eating; which was my goal. Knowing that I was motivated to keep with my training over the break, I wanted to realize the bonus of good workouts with not over eating. It was tough, but I made it (except for the damn cookie dough. Or should I say “cookie DOH!”). For each meal, I didn’t cut back on what I ate (turkey, stuffing, potatoes, deserts, rolls); I just halved all my portions. So the quality of my Thanksgiving dinner intake was the same, the quantity was vastly different from last year. Though some would argue that this strategy isn’t the healthiest, it seemed to work for me this year and kept me away from the “I ate too much” gut ache. Goal realized!

The only down-side to my training routine this week was I didn’t get to swim. I tried, but karma was bound and determined not to let it happen. The family and I headed to the Y Sunday afternoon (my normal swim day) so I could swim, Shannon could exercise and the boys could play in the daycare room. We got there at 2PM and headed straight for the daycare room to drop off the boys. Door was locked. On the locked door was a schedule for when daycare is available; 4 – 6PM. DOH! We were two hours early and I really didn’t want to leave and come back later. Disappointed, I ended up running an errand with the boys while Shannon got her work out in. Had to skip the swim day.

Update on the Men’s Health inspired exercises: so far, so good. I’m two weeks into the routine and having fun with it. I’ve done more back and shoulder work in two weeks than I’ve done all year. And I can tell. Not from ripped, bulging muscles. Oh no, more like from the ache and tiredness of back muscles that haven’t been worked much. You know, that good tired ache from hard workouts. I still have another three weeks to go with this routine before I change it up again. Any ideas for what the next 4 – 6 week routine should be (don’t say plyometrics. I hate plyos)?

Non-Running Thought of the Week
I successfully worked the following fact into two – yes 2! – separate conversations this morning:
     Most American-made cars honk in the key of ‘F’.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Shannon for nearly notching her first vehicle tag last week while running. So close!

Remember, “You’re not running until you’re GimpyRunning”.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bucket of Cookie Dough

It’s been a couple weeks since my last entry. Sorry about that, had a big presentation I was preparing for, so didn’t have much time to blog last week. And today couldn’t be a better day to update this blog. I just love this time of year. If you’ve been around me for more than 10 minutes, I’m sure you’ve heard me say that a dozen times. There’s just something about the fall, and specifically the month of November, that I just love the most. Especially for running; the air is crisp and cool. The temp is just right and the fall colors make for great running scenery.

Running Update
Nothing too exciting to report on for the last couple weeks of running; I’ve been holding strong with 5 & 6 mile base runs during the week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). My last couple long runs have been 8 and 9 miles with a 10 miler on tap for the upcoming weekend. Once I get that knocked out, I’ll have met my goal of getting myself back to 10 mile long runs by December. The next goal is to maintain the 10 – 15 mile long run over the winter and then ramp-up to marathon distance training in the early spring. So far, all is going to plan. I just hope the weather cooperates so I can still be on the streets between now and March.

Training Update
This week is always a hard week to maintain a good workout/running routine. And it’s not just from having all sorts of food readily available at your finger tips. Having extra downtime from work combined with a sense of eagerness because the holiday season has officially kicked-off also contributes to many people’s lack-luster desire to work out this week. I know I feel victim to that last couple years. But this year my plan is a little different. Rather than be hyper-sensitive about calories, portion sizes and good food/bad food intake like I am every year at this time; I’m going to allow myself the one or two days of extra indulgence to partake in the tradition that is the Thanksgiving feast. And the reason why I can do that this year all center’s around my new workout routine. As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve started a new workout schedule/routine courtesy of Men’s Health. Rather than the focused, isometric workouts I’ve been doing the last 14 months, this new routine is a return to the full-body functional movements that I had a lot of success with in years past (makes you wonder why I went away from it, doesn’t it). The workouts are shorter than what I’ve been doing, but I’m burning more calories (not to mention sweating more too) because of the up tempo, constant full-body movement. So with the new workout, comes more confidence about being able to burn off the “holiday calories” that I know I’ll consume over the next few days.

The other side of the “food indulgence” is swimming. I never thought I’d be a regular in the pool as part of my training and exercise. But I have to say, I really enjoy it. To anyone out there, if you think you’re in shape, hop in a pool and start swimming. You’ll quickly discover how NOT in shape you really are (that’s what happened to me). There are two specific reasons why I’m swimming: 1) it’s a great full-body, hardcore exercise that will kick your butt without the impact that running and lifting has on your body and 2) I’ve decided to do the Ironman triathlon in 2012. Yep, you heard it here first; I’m going to compete in the Wisconsin Ironman in 2012. And rather than play catch-up with my swimming training next year, I’ve already started in on a methodical swim training program that I can slowly workup to the 2.4 mile swim that’s the first leg of an Ironman event. I started swimming at the beginning of the summer. At first I swam laps for 20 minutes. Now I’m up to swimming 1.1 miles in just under an hour. My goal is to get myself to where I can swim 3 miles in one shot by time of the Ironman.

So with the new workout routine and extra burn from swimming, I feel good about not having to watch my intake of food this weekend. Of course I say that now, but I’ll let you know how this philosophy worked out in next week’s column.

Non-Running Thought of the Week
Fact: over the last three weeks, I’ve eaten an entire bucket of cookie dough. I don’t even know where it came from, but like clockwork, I’ve consumed 1 or 2 spoonfuls a night for like 20 days. On a related note, I’ve had an upset stomach for three weeks. Damn me for not having the will power to stay away from chocolate chip cookie dough! Now do you see why I run? If I didn’t, I’d be huge! LOL.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Remember if you decide to run-off your calories this holiday season, “You’re not running until you’re GimpyRunning”.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rebooting This Blog

Time to blow the dust off this blog and get back to grinding out meaningless thoughts and comments about running, training and other nonsensical junk floating around in my head.

Let’s get right to it.

Catching up
So it’s been since last spring since my last post. As I’m sure it is with everyone else, a lot has happened between now and then. But what hasn’t happened a lot is running. Here’s the rewind… I was on a quest to use Grandma’s Marathon in June to qualify for Boston. That so did not happen. In fact, I posted my second-worst time in a ‘thon at Grandma’s. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have even run it. I was injured, over-trained and just not prepared mentally. I had spent the month leading up to the race fretting and worrying about potential outcomes based on my setbacks and injuries I’d suffered over the last 6 months. In the end the run was a pure grind. I felt decent for the first dozen miles, but then hit “the wall” at mile 13. So the last 13 miles were a combination of pain, determination, run/walking and a whole lot of frustration.

I ended up having to take a full month off from running after Grandma’s just so I could heal. And then in late July, I suffered yet another injury/setback from dislocating and breaking a toe in a volleyball tournament. Spent the next three weeks on the mend (again) and by the time I was able to run again, I jumped back into it so fast, I ended up with Runner’s Knee and shin splints. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I’ve been able to get back into and maintain a regular running schedule. I’m slowly working my way back to a 10 mile long run every week (still a couple weeks away from that) and I’m hoping to maintain the 10 mile long run on Saturdays throughout the winter. My long-term goal is to start ramping back into ‘thon training around March or so.

Running Update
As mentioned above, not a whole lot to update you on for running over the last few weeks. The most exciting thing that’s happened lately is the 2 mile yelling match I got into with some a-hole who almost ran me over in an intersection last week. Yes, you read that right – a “2 mile yelling match”. I was running along a mid-major road on the NE side of town. As I approached the intersection of a cross-street, I did my usual routine and took a quick glance behind me to make sure there wasn’t anyone attempting to run into me. After years of running and almost being hit several times, I do this out of habit as a last-second check to make sure any cars in the intersection are paying attention. Or, more specifically, paying attention to me. Sure enough, this genius wasn’t and sure enough, he proceeded to turn right from mid-major to cross-street cutting me off and narrowly missing my foot by a couple feet. So, like any good, well respecting runner should do, I tagged the trunk of this car, held up my arms as if to say, “what the f….?!?!” and continued my trek through the intersection. Apparently my slapping his car and corresponding jester did not sit well with him, because he stopped his car, and hanging half-way out the window, yelled me. My response was short and specific as I looked over my shoulder at him, “I have the right-of-way, Jackass!” I continued along the same road for another block then veered onto a bike path. I was still amped up from the exchange and replayed it a couple times in my head over the next half mile. At the end of that half mile, the bike path intersects a street and just as I was approaching that intersection Youknowwho from my yelling match had stopped in the middle of the intersection and was waiting for me. Sure enough, he had double backed to meet up with me again at the next bike path/street intersection. I was still 40 – 50 yards from him, but decided I would continue towards him, but if he got out of his car, I was going to take evasive action. I figured I wouldn’t be able to out-sprint him if it came to that. Thankfully he stayed in his car, but was yelling and swearing at me as I neared the intersection. I simply reminded him that I had the right-of-way and quickly passed behind his car. And by “reminded him” I mean yelled back, this time with more gusto. After I was through the intersection and continuing up the bike path, he sped off and turned on the next street that parallels the bike path. I could see him off to my left on the street pacing me, turning around in parking lots if he gotten too far ahead of me. This continued for the next mile and a half and we exchanged pleasantries each time the other was in ear shot. Eventually, the path must have been far enough out of his way, because when I reached the end of it (next to a fire station I might add); I didn’t see him. I kept expecting to see him throughout the rest of the run, but thankfully I didn’t. But I was on high-alert the rest of the way, constantly scanning traffic anytime I got close to it. In the end, I had only gone 9 miles, but was wiped from being adrenalized for most of the run.

Training Update
Starting this week, I’ve decided on a new routine to break out of my rut of the same old workouts I’ve been doing all summer and so far this Fall. Thanks to Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness, I’ve put together a full-body, functional workout that should help compliment my training as I work back into long-distance cardio shape. I haven’t put my own workout together in a while, so I’ll keep you posted on whether or not this is a good idea.

Starting off the new workout routine on Monday with legs/hips, back, abs and chest. Running Tuesday, then arms, shoulders, abs and back on Wednesday. Run Thursday. Friday is a day off. Saturday is long run (8 – 12 milers over the next month) with swimming and abs on Sunday.

Non-Running Thought of the Week
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter: @GimpyRunning. I have a lot of important, earth shattering things to say.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Speed, Tempo and the Loop of Coin

It freaking snowed last night. Snowed! And not just a dusting mind you; it snowed like 4 inches. What the hell??? I was hoping we were past all the snow and drifting. I ran a couple days ago in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt – it was 65 degrees. And now, 36 hours later, it’s 28 degrees with snow on the ground. Over the past week and a half, the temps have been close to normal for this time of year and all the snow had melted. So it’s been nice to see my yard again lately. But thanks to the latest, seemingly never ending round of snow, I think I’ll move this weekend’s long run from Saturday to Sunday so I don’t have to contend with all the snow. I’m hoping the temps will raise enough to melt away some of the snow on the paths/sidewalks.

Running Route:
My long run last week was 15 miles at an 8:06 overall pace. At a couple times I was down around the 7:45 range, but for the most part I was disciplined enough to stay up around 8:00. According to the FIRST training guide, I was supposed to run an overall pace of 8:11, but I just can’t seem to get myself to go that “slow”. Not to sound like an asshole or anything, but it’s the truth. I’m finding out that for my long runs I only have one gear. And the speed of that gear depends on a variety of things: my body (breathing, stride, comfort, and fatigue), the pace, the elements, and the route. I suppose having just one gear is OK, as long as that gear becomes faster over time. Hence the new training regime.

For this long run, I started out from my house, ran to the southwest side of town, then over to the south east side, then north to Briarwood Golf Course and back. It was a good run. I was in shorts for the second long run in a row and the sun even managed to peek out a couple of times. I took my running gloves just to be sure my hands stayed warm, but I ended up carrying them most of the way.

Tuesday was speed work. I met LL at Saydel High School over my lunch hour and jammed out the following speed work out:

2 mile warm up
1200M @ 4:33
1000M @ 3:44
800M @2:58
600M @ 2:13
400M @ 1:27
(all with 200M rest in between)
10 min cool down

The whole workout only took a half hour, but holy shit did it kick my ass! Speed work is something new to my training routine this year and let me tell ya, it sucks balls. But, I know it’s what I need to help get my pace times down to BQ range. It’s one of those ‘glad you did it’ things when you’re done, but you really don’t enjoy it while you’re doing it. Know what I mean?

Thursday was supposed to be a tempo run of 1 mile easy, 5 miles at 7:15 and 1 mile easy (total of 7 miles), but instead of running on my own, I ran with my normal crew and they decided to run Loop of Coin. This route is definitely NOT conducive to tempo work. Its 6.7 miles of rolling and steep hills south of Grand in Des Moines. While the quaint roads and houses make for great scenery on the route, the course itself is too hilly to accomplish what I wanted. After taking the first mile easy, I tried to push pace in hopes to get down to the 7:15 pace range, but the hills were working against me. It was a forced pace that just wasn’t going to happen. So after about a mile of trying, I gave up and just let my body dictate how fast it wanted to go. Stride and breathing felt OK, but pace wasn’t what I was hoping for. In the end, I was probably around 7:50 – 8:00 for pace on a very hilly route, so I’m hoping that equates to 7:30ish on a flat route. Probably not, so that will put more focus on next week’s tempo run.
 Tomorrow will be a long run of 17 miles. Thanks to Shan, I’ve mapped out a new route around Ankeny that doesn’t have me backtracking and doing multiple loops. More on that in my next entry.

Training Update:
More of the same on the training front: squats, lunges, core work and shoulder strengthening. So not a whole lot going on there.

For those of you who watch WHO news in the evening, you might have seen GimpyRunning on TV Thursday night. TV-13 was filming a segment on weight loss at my gym (Gym F/X) downtown. The film crew, interviewer and the trainer being interviewed were camped out right in the middle of the open area where I do all of my workouts with the free weights, Bosu balls and yoga mats. I did a fairly good job of staying discreetly out of the way, behind the camera crew. A couple times I had to walk around them to get weights, so I tried to look as manly and “in-shape” as I could knowing that I might be in the shot. After they were done with the interview, I heard the reporter tell the camera guy to film footage for filler usage during the segment. So off went the camera man around the corner and I got some room back to finish my workout. I did a few leg exercises, then settled onto a yoga mat for some side planks rotations. So there I am, cranking away when all of a sudden I have that ‘someone is watching me’ feeling. I glance up and sure as shit, there’s the camera, camped out right next to me, filming away. In the end only a few seconds of me doing side planks and shoulder presses was in the segment, but the camera was close enough there’s no mistaking that is was my ugly mug front-and-center on the screen. I watched the segment online and had to chuckle at myself for being pretty much the only guy they show actually working out in the gym. What can I say, I guess they needed a pretty face for the camera to fall in love with. LOL. OK, maybe not. The link to the story is below. Check it out; I’m not currently charging for autographs and I’d be happy to sign some chests.

Link: http://www.whotv.com/news/who-story-diet-weight-loss-031810,0,730111.story

Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are a few non-running thoughts swirling around my melon these days:

- As reported in my last entry, I tried to watch The Informant! last week but just couldn’t get into it. Shan watched it a couple days later and said I should stick it out (I only got 20 minutes into it before turning it off) because it’s actually a really good flick. So, I’ll try to watch it again this weekend. I’ll let you know what I think in my next entry.

- I wonder if I’m bad luck to David Beckham. The guy hasn’t missed a soccer game due to injury since his career began and the day after I bought his Adidas indoor soccer shoe, he blows out his Achilles tendon. Sorry David, my bad. They’re pretty sweet shoes though.

- This last round of snow is just stupid. Stupid and it serves no purpose to keep snowing.

- I’m typing this blog entry using my 55” LED TV as the monitor. Our laptop has an HDMI port that connects to the TV. The other day I bought a wireless keyboard and mouse so I can do exactly what I’m doing now: sitting my lazy butt on the couch and typing this entry. As soon as I’m done with this, I’m going to watch David After Dentist and other random junk on YouTube for about an hour.

- How cool would it be if we could all be a super hero? What would your super power be? Mine would be the ability to refrain from saying stupid shit out loud. There’s just no telling how powerful I could be with that ability.

Running Rant of the Week
Old Man Winter, why are you being so mean? First we endure the worst winter we’ve had in a decade, pounding us with record-breaking cold temperatures, then you ease-up and let it be nice (seasonal) out for a couple weeks and now there’s four inches of snow on the ground again. And most recently, the idea of flooding went from a possibility to a reality. What the hell? Did Mother Nature piss you off somehow and this is how you’re getting back at her; creeping your crappy season into spring? I mean, come on, if you don’t let up soon, Father Time is going to be pissed that you’re messing with his woman (oh you know they’re an item). In the last seven days of running I’ve worn just shorts and s short-sleeve shirt on a Tuesday and then been in full winter gear on a Saturday. I dedicate this running rant to you, Old Man Winter. You annoy me and I can’t wait for you to go on your summer vacation.

Until next time. Remember, you’re not running until you’re GimpyRunning

Thursday, March 11, 2010

F.I.R.S.T. Thing's First

OK, before I get too far into this entry, let me catch everyone up on why the blogs have been a bit lacking over the last couple weeks. A couple weeks ago I came down with either a nasty stomach bug or food poisoning. Either way, whatever it was, hit me like Ike hitting Tina on a Friday night. Essentially, I spent all of Sunday night and most of Monday getting sick. It was brutal. And just when I thought the heaving and grunting was over, I’d go another round with the toilet. I went both days without being able to hold any food down. Not that I was hungry, mind you, but even if I wanted to eat, it would just come right back up. By the time Tuesday evening rolled around, the puking had stopped and when I jumped on the scale the next morning, I was 7 pounds lighter. Yes, 7 lbs in a day and a half. Not exactly the most ideal way to shed those final remaining pounds left over from the winter.

So, from being sick, I didn’t run or lift much that week. I did however fully recover to jam out a 13 mile long run that week. More on that later.

Training Update:

Last week was my first official week with my new running workout. It’s called F.I.R.S.T; which stands for Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training. In a nut shell, it’s a training program put together by a father and his son that focuses on removing the “junk miles” from a marathon training regimen. It’s fairly similar to typical marathon training programs in that there are three distinct days of running; a speed work day, a tempo day and a long run day. However, the difference with FIRST from other programs is that on the days you aren’t running, you are cross-training – cycling, rowing or swimming. This will make the days you run more effective and focused on foot turnover and quality leg strength. This is the first time since starting to run that I’ve taken-on a program of this nature. In the past for marathon training, I’ve typically just ran short, medium and long runs during the week while lifting on the non-running days. It wasn’t until I hooked up with LL and this training program that I’ve spent so much time on leg strengthening and working on muscle imbalances in my hips, legs, and back. Which is a perfect pairing for quality running; hence the FIRST training program for this guy to get to Boston.

So the first week of FIRST training looks like this:

Sunday: Rest – what a way to start off the week!

Monday: LL workout – TRX workout, loaded with core, back and chest work.

Tuesday: Speed work – 10 – 20 min warm-up. 3 x 1600m @ 6:12 pace (1 min rest between sprints). 10 min cool down

Wednesday: Cross-training – cycling. 10 min warm-up. 30 min @ 95 – 100 RPM. 5 min cool down. Much harder than it looks on paper.

Thursday: Tempo run – 6 mile run: 2 miles easy, 2 miles @ 6:45 pace, 2 miles easy

Friday: LL workout – functional movements with a emphasis on squats, lunges and ab work

Saturday: Long-run – 13 miles @ 7:56 pace

Week two is more of the same with the speed work being longer distances and the long run being 15 miles are an 8:11 pace. I’ll admit, it’s difficult for me to hold back to an 8:11 pace, but fearing burnout, I’m trying to adhere to the slower pace. When looking at the long-run distances, the first 6 weeks of long miles are all above an 8:11 pace. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Running Routes:
The last two long-run routes have been 13 and 14 miles in and around Ankeny. Again, like I mentioned in my last entry, I found myself in Old Town Ankeny while making my way from one side of town to the other. For the 14 miler, I was in shorts for the first time since October. Felt so good, but at the same time, it was raining and 38 degrees. But, by God, I was bound and determined to be in shorts.

Today’s run with Cap was not like any mid-week run I’ve taken. Instead of being a tempo run, a trail run or a hilly run; it was all three! And here’s how it happened….we started off from 15th & Grand where we always meet up when it’s just the two of us and then headed up (west) Grand towards the Art Center. Our hope was to run the Art Center Loop, which hooks into the John Pat Dorrian trail along the river, and check out any flooding first-hand. The 2.5 miles from downtown to the Art Center was the tempo portion of the run. We were somewhere around a 7:20 – 7:30 pace. Once we got on the JPD trail, it didn’t take us long to run into the flooding. About a quarter mile into the trail, the trail was under a couple feet of water. Not wanting to turn back, we decided to traverse the 50 feet from the trail uphill to the higher elevated railroad track that runs along the trail. We ended up running on the railroad track for about a mile. I’m sure it was quite comical to see the two of us trying to hold a conversation while diligently concentrating on landing each foot on the railroad ties to prevent from falling on our faces. I would equate that mile of the run to a trail run; constantly checking the terrain below your feet to make sure you have solid footing while making your way across uneven territory. Once off the tracks, we headed back downtown by way of the neighborhoods south of Grand Avenue. For those of you familiar with these neighborhoods, you know that they are built on one steep hill after another. The two miles south of Grand made up the hilly portion of the run. And it was grueling. Those two miles are part of the Loop of Coin. And that route is grueling; nothing but hill after hill. Catch my drift about the hills yet? It was slow going at times, but we made it back downtown with a total of 6ish miles. All-in-all it was a good run; company was great and weather was nice. Not that I’m a hurry to have that kind of a combo run again, but I’ll admit, it was fun to have a run with that much character.
 Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are a few non-running thoughts swirling around my melon these days:

- I tried to watch the movie The Informant! with Matt Damon last night and I just couldn’t get into it. Normally, anything with MD is good, but this movie was dragging so much I gave up after 20 minutes. I guess I’m the type of person that has to get hooked into a flick right away to capture my attention. Maybe that’s why my favorite films are: The Big Lebowski, the Star Ware trilogies and The Hangover.

- I’m on a new project at work and it’s really sweet. I’m definitely going to enjoy the next four months.

- Shannon landed a 9 – 12 month consulting gig! I can tell she’s excited about it. She’s been out of work, or “between contracts” as I like to say, for a couple months now and staying at home was begining to wear on her. So happy for her.

- LDV is really coming along in her return from baby #2. She’s going to be back in the sub-8 min pace in no time.

- I’m a little concerned that San Fran has been so quiet in free agency so far. I was hoping they’d make a splash by signing a big tyma free agent, but nothing significant yet. Damn you Mike Singleterry for being so conservative!

- I absolutely loathe working downtown this time of year. For the past two weeks and now this week, downtown has been bombarded with thousands of out-of-towers who are in town for either the state wrestling or state basketball tournaments. Every day for the past three weeks I’ve seen an out of town license plate going to wrong way on a one-way street or grumpy old people wearing “Linn-Mar-Sully” or “Fairfield” paraphernalia walking aimlessly through the skywalk, obviously lost. My new project has me commuting between downtown buildings via the skywalk at least once a day, and it’s overrun with annoying teenage girls doing annoying teenage girl things and even more annoying teenage boys being dumbasses. Geez, I remember when I acted just like that during the tournaments. Makes me wish I could travel back in time and kick my own ass for being an idiot.

The Ink Has Arrived!
As promised, here are some pics of my new ink. I don’t really have a running rant this week, so I thought I would share the tat with everybody. I had to take the first part of this week off from running and lifting to let the tat heal. Today was my first run since getting the new ink last weekend. Badass if I do say so myself:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Impact if Ink

When first putting together my fitness program to get me to Boston in 2011, I never thought getting a tattoo would be something I would have to alter my training schedule around. Since I started my quest to qualify for Boston back in October, I’ve had to alter my work outs or running schedule for injuries, work schedule, vacations and now ink. Well, pigment is technically the accurate term. As many of you know, I have an intricate tattoo covering the top portion of my right shoulder and upper arm. Its one continuous piece of tribal-like marking I created myself that engulfs my existing “SF” logo tattoo with every piece of the tattoo interlocking with the next. What’s there already was, by design, the first of three phases of the tattoo sequence. The first phase, what exists as of last week, covers the upper part of my arm and shoulder. The second phase, what I had done last weekend and will finish this upcoming weekend (it's going to take three 2-hour appointments to complete this phase), covers most of my right peck and the under-side of my right arm. The third phase (scheduled for later this summer) will cover most, if not all, of my right shoulder blade. I’ll start work on that design in the spring.

So how does this impact my training you ask? It’s simple: the healing process. Let me explain: there are a few key people that I talk to and receive advice from that directly impact my running schedule: my trainer, LL. My wife, Shannon. My body. And most recently, my tattoo artist, Jonny. Jonny works at Skin Kitchen Tattoo here in Des Moines. And let me tell you, in my opinion, this guy is the Pierre-Auguste Renoir of tattoo artists in Iowa. I won’t let anyone else put ink on me; it’s Jonny or nobody. So aside from the hetero man-crush I have on Jonny and his amazingly detailed work ethic and out-right passion when it comes to the art of painting on skin, I let him tell me if I can run or not. And I do that, because he knows best about how the body heals after getting inked. In the place where I’m getting this tattoo, there will be a lot of skin movement and friction from running or the functional movements from my lifting exercises. And with Jonny being the expert on how new ink reacts to those types of circumstances, he’s really good for saying “yay” or “nay” to how soon I can run after getting new ink. Case and point – when I go for the fill-in portion for this new tattoo, I have to wait at least 5 days to allow the skin to heal enough so that the ink won’t bleed out and scar from the friction of my arm swinging as part of my running stride.

With all that being said, I’m hoping to get a 14-miler in this Saturday afternoon before my 9PM appointment with Jonny later that night. As of today (Monday), the weather looks good, so hopefully it all works out. Because after I see Jonny Saturday night, I’m on the shelf for a week.

Still haven’t gotten the bugs worked out for the countdown component for my blog. So consider that still under construction.

Training Update:
This past session with LL was a good one. We took a break from focused leg work to do more of an all-around functional workout. This week’s routine consisted of: squat-to-press, Bosu ball lunges, bicep curls, sumo squat to up-right row, backward lunge with peck fly and, as always, a shit-load of ab work. J Though there wasn’t a lot of specific ab exercises, what she had me do was very oblique-focused. This is what I get for complaining about having “back fat” from not wanting to give up Taco Johns. All-in-all, it was a good workout and I’m looking forward to doing it a couple more times before we meet again.

The Running Route:
This past Saturday’s long run was only 10 miles. Based on how I felt after last week’s run, I probably could have gone another two or three miles, but I didn’t want to push my luck and force miles. Going into the run, I had already decided on an easy 10-miler, so that is what I stuck with. But I’m happy to report that for the second long run in a row, I felt great and wasn’t gassed at the end; a good sign that I’m finally getting back into the shape I was in towards the end of last summer before all my injuries piled up. This route was pretty much the same route I’d been running through Ankeny with the exception of staying on the streets instead of using the trails. Literally. For the entire 10 miles, I was in the street. Which was disappointing considering the 10 ft wide sidewalk along 18th street wasn’t cleared from the snowfall the day before. This really surprised me, to be honest. Usually the city of Ankeny is really good about getting the trails and city sidewalks cleared off right away after a snowfall. Especially since those pathways are used so often by runners, walkers and bikers year-round. But, for whatever reason, the sidewalks were junk, which meant Yours Truly was street-bound the entire run.

If there’s one thing I enjoy about running through Ankeny, it’s the scenery. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what side of town you’re on, Ankeny has done a good job over the years of backing up quaint neighborhoods to other developments (new or old) that almost always offer a pleasing sight while running. The route I took Saturday was no different. Starting in my brand new development (Cherry Glenn Estates) and running north, then east I passed a few open fields and an undeveloped lightly wooded area. Just in the first two miles alone, I saw a picturesque snow-covered hill side, the wide-open space of huge corn field and even a couple of deer. Continuing east on 18th St, I ran past another new housing development that backs up to one that’s been there for several years. But the transition from new to old development isn’t so dramatic that I feel like I’m in another town. That’s the thing that I’m learning to appreciate about Ankeny; one development naturally flows into the next. From there I traversed a smattering of new and existing neighborhoods, a sports complex and eventually ended up in “Old Town Ankeny”. This is, by far, my favorite place to run in the entire town. Old Town is only a fraction of the size of Ankeny itself, covering less than 10 square blocks, but the layout and nostalgic feel of the buildings and houses is something out of a small town portrayed in a Hollywood movie. The two story buildings are butted quietly up to each other with store fronts on the ground floor and studios above. And where there are houses mixed in, they are larger, dated homes will yards full of huge trees that have been there for a hundred years. This neighborhood isn’t full of houses that are run-down, but you can tell the homes have been a part of the landscape for several decades. Just running those 10 blocks completely relaxes me. From Old Town, I continue east on 3rd St, crossing Hwy 69 (Ankeny Blvd) and through an area that consists of a couple busy street, some small shops and fast-food restaurants. Once through that, I’m right back into an older, quiet neighborhood that joins another older, quiet neighborhood. Eventually, I hit my 5 mile turnaround sport and get to run back through all the pleasing sights from which I just came. No deer on the return trip home, but still some pretty nice views.

Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are some of my non-running thoughts since my last blog posting:
- Went and saw Valentine’s Day last night with the Steele's and Hanson’s. I have to admit, I really enjoyed this flick. I didn’t think I would, but I did. I recommend it as a good date night movie.
- Is it OK that I think Ashton Kutcher is cool? I’m sorry, but he is.
- Our new TV doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, but I’m already looking forward to watching something, anything, on it. For those of you who haven’t seen and LED TV, go check one out. What a difference from an LCD it is.
- I’m still sick of shoveling snow. Even though Shannon shoveled from the last round of snow. Thanks Babe!
- I think it’s about time to turn over the music on my iPod. I’ve played out every current playlist I have and now the songs are starting to annoy me.

Running Rant of the Week:
To the super smart high school chick that almost ran me over while turning out of Casey’s: pay attention, put down your damn cell phone and take a freaking look around before running the stop sign and tearing onto the street!

How kids these days are such terrible drivers is beyond me. I have no doubt that this girl at some point was shown the proper way to drive by her parents. We’ve all been there before – 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, radio down, use your turn signal, always be on the lookout and….I don’t know…. don’t run stop signs!

If you haven’t guessed by now, this week’s rant goes to the airhead that almost plowed me over coming out of the Casey’s on 18th. If it hadn’t been for me paying attention to her (not that I wouldn’t anyway), I would’ve been sliding across her hood. But not in a cool way like Bo or Luke Duke. But like in the rolling from hood-to-windshield-to-ground way when someone’s clearly not paying attention when behind the wheel.

And this rant really isn’t about almost getting hit, as any runner will tell you over the course of a running season, you almost get hit several times. That’s why it’s so important as the runner – or biker for that matter- to ALWAYS pay attention to the cars and NEVER assume they see you. In my closest of near misses (there have been several over the years) it’s always a situation where the driver is not paying attention and bleeds through a stop sign or intersection. So I’m not ranting about almost getting hit. But rather because this girl was obviously so engrossed in her phone conversation that not only did she not see me, she didn’t see the stop sign she blew through on her way into a busy street. And I would think I would be easy to spot because; 1) I was wearing all black against the white background of snow. 2) her view of me was not obstructed by tall snow drifts. 3) In anticipation for both of us arriving at the corner at the same time, I put up both my hands just above my head (think referee when a field goal is good) as I always do to draw more attention to myself. 5) I slowed down and locked eyes with her. But despite all that, she still came within a couple feet of hitting me as a result of running the stop sign.

You may be asking, after this latest near-miss, will I be running in the street anymore? Answer: damn right I will. I have just as much right to be in the street just as a biker or a car does. Granted, I’ll admit it’s not the safest place to run, that’s why I always do everything I did above to avoid getting hit. But with sidewalks that have 2 – 4 inches of snow on them, I was left with little choice for a clear running surface. And, I’m not one of those naïve, “feel bad for me” runners either; I realize I’m in more danger when I’m running in the road vs. the sidewalk. So I’m not going to pretend that I’m surprised by almost getting hit. Hell, I’ve almost been clipped while on a closed course during a marathon. It happens on a regular basis for me and every other die-hard runner out there. It’s something I’ve learned to stay aware of when I’m out in the street. So again, to the chick in the red Cobalt, pay attention. Next time it might not be a runner at the intersection. Next time I might be an 18-wheeler that can’t stop on a dime. #justsayin’.
Oh, and one more thing to Little Ms. Oblivious: put the cigarette out, you barely look old enough to drive, let alone smoke. It looks trashy for someone your age. Don’t you know smoking is the most unattractive things a woman can do?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Qualifier Set

Greetings from the snowy Midwest. I don’t think it’s gone a week without snowing since Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the weather has been cooperating on the weekends lately to allow me to get my long runs in. Three 10 milers in a row over the past three Saturdays with a 12 miler planned this weekend. Of course that all depends on how much snow we get this Friday afternoon and overnight. I’m hoping for only a couple inches, but not holding my breath. I need to be able to log miles Saturday morning because of my upcoming tattoo appointment Saturday night. I’m having more of my arm/should tattoo filled in, so I won’t be able to run for a few days due to the fresh ink. So I need to get my log run in Saturday morning or afternoon or I’ll have to push-back the tat appointment.

It’s Official – Qualifier Set:
I’m registered for Grandma’s Marathon on June19th. This race is best known for its mostly flat route and ideal qualifying conditions. This will be my first attempt of 2010 to quality for the 2011 Boston Marathon! I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited because the route is quick and ideal to qualify with; nervous because of the preclusive off-season of running I’ve had due to various injuries or weather-related setbacks. I feel like I should be farther along in my training and logging more miles a week than what I am (currently logging 20 -25 miles/week), and I also feel like I should be posting faster training run times (averaging 7:45 – 7:50/mile over the last several long runs). Technically I haven’t “officially” started my marathon training that LL is putting together for me, so I may just be antsy or overly paranoid at this point. Nonetheless I officially have a set date for a qualifier. In the coming months as the race gets closer, I’ll start lobbying for everyone to make the pilgrimage to Duluth to come hang out and support me as I try to achieve my goal.

I was planning on adding a countdown timer for Grandma’s, but have yet to get the stupid thing to work on this blog site. Once I figure it out, it’ll be at the top under my intro.

The Routes:
My last few long runs have been primarily the same route through Ankeny. Leaving from my house, making my way around the NW side of town to the main bike trail (formerly a railroad track) that bisects Ankeny diagonally. Then I take that path to “Old Downtown” Ankeny, then east to East Elementary School and back. If I have one complaint about Ankeny it’s that it isn’t very big, so in order to log any kind of serious mileage, I have to double loop my routes just to get in 15 & 20 mile runs. I remember getting burnt out on running the same route over and over last summer and fall. I get easily bored with running the same route week-in and week-out; especially when I’m on them for 3 hours at a time.

Training Update:
After having a couple weeks of focused core and back workouts, this last one was all legs. The good news is I can tell that the muscle weaknesses in my inner thighs and glutes are strengthening (TMI?), but I’m definitely still feeling the burn from a full hour of quad and calf focused exercises. I have no idea how LL comes up with some of the exercises she has me do, but man, they certainly kick my ass each week. In a good way, of course. Last week’s work out included exercises called, “speed squats”, “single leg step-ups”, “standing lunge step-through” and “crouching Cohen curls”. All of them are leg exercises designed to strengthen my quads, hammies, calves and my money-maker. J All of which have to be in top condition to handle the long, steep hills in Boston. I’m secretly hoping for a lighter workout today when I meet with LL, but we’ll see. I’ll let everyone know how today goes in next week’s entry.

Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are some of my non-running thoughts since my last blog posting:
- Spencer now has an open gap where his two front teeth previously were a couple weeks ago. He’s proudly sporting and empty grill since he lost both front teeth in the last 2 weeks. Mom and Dad are not proud of his ability to squeeze food out of the opening like a Playdough Fun Factory.

- Ty has now become the chattiest 4 year old on the face of the planet. I can remember just a few short months ago when he would say all of five words a day. Now he’s chattering from the time he gets up in the morning until the time he puts his jams on at night.

- I’m having a lot of fun in the poker league I joined. It helps that I’m currently in first place in the overall points standing, but I still have a long way to go to win the league (5 weeks left). Plus I have everyone gunning for me. But, I like that it forces me to keep my poker skills sharp and is helping me become a more-rounded poker player.

- I’m sick of shoveling snow.

- My wife is a damn good cook. Next time you see her, you should ask her to make you salmon or turkey chili.

- I think Shannon is going to have a blast on her ‘MILF trip’ this spring. I hope she remembers her phone has a camera.

- My contract at my client was extended through June 30th, 2010. What a relief to have that locked down.

- Last week’s long run was the most fun I’ve had on a run since Thanksgiving.

Running Rant of the Week:
This week’s running rant isn’t about a person or place. It’s about a thing: the treadmill. Let me ask you this, Mr. Treadmill: why do you suck so much? I mean, no offense, but I loathe running on you. You’re big. You’re bulky. And quite frankly, no one really likes you. It’s very rare that you’ll hear someone say, “I really love running on a treadmill. I’d rather do that than run outside.” In most cases, if someone is on you, it’s because they have to be, not because they want to be. You are to running what a slump-buster is to baseball.

I bring up the treadmill because thanks to Mother Nature being a pain-in-the-ass last week, I was stuck inside on tready for my Tuesday short run. I’ve often said that I have a 4 mile max on a treadmill for no other reason other than I simply hate running on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape I’m in, I still can only manage 4 painfully-long miles on tready. By the time I hit 4 miles on the ‘Machine of Despair’, I’m so mentally defeated that I can’t stand to run another 10 feet. There are just so many things about the treadmill that I do not enjoy capped off by that stupid mileage gage. Or as I like to call it, “The Gage of Evil”. For me, that is the worst part of tready; the mental mind job I get from that gage. I’ll be on a tready, running along, thinking it’s been like 20 or 25 minutes and I feel like I’ve covered 3 miles, but to my unpleasant surprise when I look down to check the mileage, it’s only been .4 tenths of a mile. Aarrgggghhh! I’m the type of runner that has to have stuff moving by me when I run; gives me the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of making progress. But on tready, I’m stuck staring at a TV screen that I can’t focus on because of the bounce in my stride. Or I’m stuck enjoying the obnoxious sounds of the heavy-footed person next to me pounding the shit out of the treadmill while clambering around, arms flailing like they’ve never run upright before. Though it’s quite comical to see, it’s annoying having all that ruckus next to me with no way to run away from it.

So, to you Mr. Treadmill, this week’s running rant is dedicated to you. With any luck, I won’t be on you for the rest of the year. It’ll be like we’re married and my birthday has already come and gone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

LunarGlide Eclipse

I’ve decided to add a countdown to the 2011 Boston Marathon on my blog site. Not quite sure how to do it yet, but know that it’s coming. I’m hoping a countdown will help keep me, and you, motivated to see my goal get closer. I’m also going to add a countdown to my first qualifying marathon. I’m hoping to decide on one soon, so once I do, I’ll add that countdown clock. Most likely going to be Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota in June. Again, that’ll give everyone reading this Pulitzer worthy blog an idea of when my next event is. :-)

What a winter it’s turning out to be. And I don’t mean the blizzard, below-freezing temps, record snow fall, fog and ice storms. I mean the amount (sever lack thereof) to road time I haven't been able to get in due to Mother Nature’s influence. It wasn’t until this past week that I was finally able to piece together a full week of running:

The routes:
 Last Tuesday, I logged a 4.5 miler over my lunch hour in WDM. For this route, I took Westown Prkwy to 50th, north to the Greenbelt trail, followed the trail to 103rd and then back on 103rd/Clark Street. What a hilly route this turned out to be. On 103rd St, I ran up a hill that reminded me a lot of Brady Street in the Quad Cities, just not quite as long. For those who haven’t been to Brady Street, it’s the famed first mile of the Bix7 route (http://www.bix7.com/2009/). It’s a solid ¾ mile straight up one of the steepest hills in Eastern Iowa. No joke. And it sucks the entire way up. The best I’ve been able to manage for a first mile time is 11 minutes. Granted, that’s with 20,000 other runners crowded around me, but you get my point. Back to the route - the trail itself in the Greenbelt Park was snow-covered, but thankfully there was traction. I’d regret the decision to run the trail later that night when my knees and lower back were sore from running on the uneven snow. Nonetheless, it felt good to finally run outside.
 Last Thursday I got in a 5.5 miler. Same story, different day. Hills, hills and more West Des Moines hills. All-in-all, a good run. Pace and stride felt solid. Took a different route and was able to take in some pretty cool WDM scenery of “old money” houses tucked back in quaint neighborhoods. Running in the street was a little dicey from the slick conditions, and I ended up sliding rather than running through a few areas.
 Saturday was my first long run in a month. I was hoping the route I went on was 8 miles (I didn’t map it out before heading out), and when I mapped it out online when I got back, it was actually 9. So that was a nice surprise. Not too bad of a pace either for not having run long in a while: 9 miles in 1:10:00 (7:46 pace). Best thing about the route is that it was flat (thank you Ankeny).
 This Tuesday was another 5 miler. This time I was in my new kicks (see details below) and had my Nike + iPod trainer with me. Having it has finally, after all these years of running, allowed me to track my pace, mileage and overall splits. Hoping for a flatter route, I took Westown Prkwy west over the interstate to 60th. South on 60th to Ashworth, back to 42nd and then back to the office. Nothing too exciting with this run.
 This Thursday route sucked. Only 4 miles because my legs were tired from this week’s round of workouts. But what made it challenging was the pace. I forced the pace the entire way. I had it set in my head that because it was a shorter distance, I was going to push pace to make up for the lack of extra mileage. What a mistake that turned out to be. Of course I was able to complete the run, but my gate and breathing rhythm felt like an unfolded lawn chair through most of it. I was spent by the 3rd mile and had to coast in the last one.

Not in a million years:
For those who don’t follow my wife (@GraceyJones) on “dat Twitta”, I broke down and bought a pair or Nike running shoes. Yes, Nike - can you believe it?!?! For those that don’t know, I loath Nike and their corporate overlords that oversee the migrant, wage-sucking sweat shops around the globe. But, man, they sure can make one helluva running shoe. At the advice of my trainer, LL, I bought the 2010 model Nike LunarGlide shoe and they are ballin’! Well except for the colors: lime green - yes lime green - dark grey and blue. I should be fairly easy to pick out in a running crowd. They’re twice as light as any Adidas running shoe I’ve ever owned and they feel great during my runs. If you’re wondering why I bought them, it’s simple; it was a “business decision”. The LunarGlide shoe is one of the best distance running shoes on the market today. It’s the first self-correcting shoe for your running side. In other words, it neutralizes the over or under pronation on you may have in your natural running stride (see pronation defined at: http://www.nbwebexpress.com/achieve_more/running_gait.asp). For me, I over-pronate, meaning my feet roll significantly inward during the normal foot fall of a running stride. That’s why if you watch me run from behind, my knees tend to “kick out” just after my foot makes contact with the ground. The shoe’s sole helps keep my foot more inline with a natural rolling motion that will ultimately save my knees and back from pain down the road (pun intended). And since I regularly run more than 15 – 20 miles per week, having that extra support will hopefully help prevent injury as well (which we all know I’m paranoid about).

Training update:

Still hammering away with the crazy-intense leg/hip/core workouts with LL. Now that I’m back to running 20 miles per week, I’m hoping to shed that annoying remaining 7 pounds I put on over the holidays.

Lately, LL has focused my workouts mainly on my hips and inner thighs to further strengthen the muscle weaknesses and imbalance I have in those areas. To get a glimps of some of the leg work I'm doing, try doing a squat while standing on an upside-down Bosu ball, holding a 22.5 kettelbell. Talk about wobbly legs! Hopefully all these leg workouts will pay off this spring when speed work begins.

Running rant of the week:

To the people of West Des Moines, Iowa – would it kill you to move over when I’m running in your lane? Even just a foot or two would be nice. Instead, you hold steady on your lane, barely giving me room to squeeze by your two ton vehicle and the three foot high pile of snow on the curb. Ever heard of the phrase, “share the road”??? I’m sure some of you may be wondering why I’m running in the street to begin with and not on the sidewalk. I can answer that in three simple points:

1. Revert back to my last blog entry about the people of WDM not clearing off their sidewalks.

2. The constant up/down impacts of going from sidewalk-to-street and street-to-sidewalk at every corner steadily wears on my knees and back. Especially after 4 or 5 miles.

3. I’m a running snob; I don’t like to run on the sidewalk, even if it’s cleared off. Look around and when you see a runner in the street instead of the sidewalk, you can bet that they are an advanced runner. I’m defining “advanced runner” as someone who most likely runs year-round and more than 15 miles/week. These runners feel the same way about the sidewalk that I do (see points 1 & 2 above). The street offers a much more consistent surface to run on, and, unless you’re in WDM, there is usually plenty of room for a comfortable stride.

Anyway, back to my rant; all this week and last when I was on the street, only a few vehicles were kind enough to move over to give me some space. It’s almost like this phenomenon of runners in the street is a new concept to everyone else and they aren’t quite sure how to react, all the while none of them move over in their lane. Case and point: over the last couple weeks of street-running in WDM, I’ve been honked at, flipped-off (courteous of Valley High School students who think they’re being funny when, in fact, they’re being douches), stared at and yelled at. Yes, yelled at. One lady took the time to slow down as she approached me, rolled down the passenger window and yell at me for being in the street. That was a first for me. In all my years of running, that hadn’t happened to me before. I didn’t know what do to, so I just smiled and waived.

To sum up this rant: do us runners a favor and just move over a tad when you see us in your lane. We’d really appreciate it. Besides, if you hit us, I promise our lawsuit will out weigh your vehicle any day.