Saturday, November 27, 2010

Race #6 of the Season: Mile High United Way Turkey Trot

I was waiting to post this until I uploaded the one whole picture I took on race day, but I figured meh, I can edit it in later.

Anyway, my racing career started, as I've shared here before, with the Lone Tree Firecracker 5K way back in 2005. From there, it's slowly expanded. I've occasionally done races with friends; I've done several by myself. Since Brandon moved out here in early 2008, however, with the exception of my second year doing Tri for the Cure (he has extra "equpiment" making him ineligible), I've done every single race since with him.

Until now.

Due to his day job of airline pilot, he wouldn't be able to get back home until the evening of Thanksgiving ... which doesn't really help if he wants to do a morning Turkey Day race. That, combined with the fact that it was forecasted to be cooooolllldddd on Thursday morning made me delay signing up for the race.

But I signed up anyway. I drug my butt out of bed early Thursday morning, bundled up and drove to Wash Park. I got there insanely early to get a good parking spot so I could escape quickly (had to work at noon), signed up, did my pre-race business, chose a corral and ... went back to the car to stay warm.

The good thing is by race start (10:15; more like 10:18 for me), it was a lot warmer than it had been forecasted to be. Earlier in the week, I checked the forecast: roughly 18 degrees by race start; feels like 8. That's cold (even for you minnesotans :-p). By the actual race start though, it was in the mid- to high-30s. Relatively toasty by comparison.

Toasty enough that I ended up overheating during the race, but more about that in a bit.

Anyway, by about 9:30, Brandon had hopped on a flight and I wasn't going to sit in my car doing nothing ... so I got out and got into my corral to stand around doing nothing. Awesome, I know.

Before I go further, the corrals. The Mile High United Way Turkey Trot (MHUWTT) is the nation's largest four mile race. A lot of people do it. There were supposed to be over ... 9000? doing it this year, but the actual number of finishers ended up being a lot less ... probably due to the cold. Wusses. As a result, they changed the start from "mass insanity" to "five corrals of organized chaos." The first corral was for the good people who would be averaging under an 8:00/mi. In other words, not me. Corral five was for families, people with dogs and people with strollers. Corrals two through four were for the rest of us.

I had initially gotten a sticker for corral three, but after hearing that there would be a few minute delay between the starts of all corrals and time was kind of an issue for me ... I chose corral two. Jammed into the corral as it started to fill up was when I first started to think I might have been overdressed.

Take for exhibit: my toasty warm Nike Pro running tights with my SkirtSports race skirt over them with Drymax socks and my shoes with a trick learned from Steve in a Speedo - duct tape.

Turkey Trot

On top, a whole bunch of SkirtSports - marathon tank, Runner's Dream long-sleeved shirt and one of their winter jackets (which I ended up not needing). I also was wearing gloves, my ear mitts and two hats.

All of that stuff was very useful in keeping me warm in the corral (except for my feet; no sun was getting down to them) ... but ended up being bad on the course. I'll learn some day.

After chatting with a couple of the racers around me (basically: why haven't we started yet? we're all freezing; and why do you have duct tape on your shoes?), it was finally ready for our corral to go.

With the start, I saw the help of the corrals; it made it a lot nicer at the beginning of the race. Sure, you still had to jockey for position, but it wasn't NEARLY as bad as it has been in the past. Mile one was the interesting mile - a band, a dead squirrel right smack dab in the middle of the road (pretty fresh, too; if i had run with my camera i so would have taken a picture), you know. It also went by pretty quickly. I glanced at my watch about 50 feet from the first mile marker and it said 9:13. Sweet.

(I should now mention that my goal for this race was to crack 40:00. I have also figured out that my "happy pace" in training runs - the pace at which I can control my breathing, and feel like I'm going fast but just on the edge of not being able to hold it - is probably around a 9:30.)

I took my gloves off about the same time I visited the water station in mile two. I walked briefly to make sure I got my gloves safely zipped up in my pockets and to snag and not choke on my water. I also, in mile two, managed to snag some guy's dropped glove from the ground and give it back to him without missing a stride. The mile two mile marker came at 19:something ... so it was a slower mile. But it felt like a slower mile. I was a tad concerned on time though and tried to pick it back up a bit.

Mile three contained another water station and the loss of my hats to my pockets. I tried unzipping my jacket, but the full pockets bouncing around were annoying so I zipped it about halfway up and dealt with the toastiness. I didn't check my watch at the marker so I don't know where I was at at that point.

I would also like to mention at this point that attempting to zip up a jacket while running is NOT an easy feat.

Mile four seemed so long. I started seeing more and more finishers walking past and I was starting to pray I was going to have enough time to get home, showered and hopefully some food in me before hopefully making it to work on time. In any case, the finish line eventually came upon me and I stopped my watch after crossing the third mat - 38:06.29 (race clock time was 41:something thanks to the staggered starts).

In other words, goal: hit. I waded through the masses for my water bottle, my bagel and my free gift from the Runners Roost tent (after coffee mugs the last two years, they switched to pint glasses this year), snagging an extra one for Brandon because I'm a bad person.

I went to the car, had a mini freakout when it first looked like my street was blocked off, sped home, showered, changed and was able to clock in at work at exactly 12 noon. As for food, well, I just snarfed down some coffee cake when I got to work. Not ideal, but meh. I consumed enough corned beef that night and enough turkey on Friday to make up for it.


Time: 38:06 (close to the watch)
Pace: 9:32
Div/Place: 151/486
Sex/Place: 697/2926
Overall Place: 1720/5263

Top fifth? I'll take it. I was above average (avg. time 45:08), too. Go me.


Take a look at the results from the two previous years:

2009: 40:52
2008: 48:26

So that's about almost a three minute PR from last year and 10 FREAKING MINUTES better than the first year I ran this damn race. That, my friends, makes me happy. :)

Next race: VEGAS!

On a side note, the duct tape TOTALLY worked. My feet were starting to go numb while waiting in the corral but they were warm by the end. I know this was the duct tape and not just running because I have come back home after cold runs with half-frozen feet. So, success!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

Our friend Lindsey had a great post over at her blog yesterday about Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving was spent commuting from Greensboro to Denver, but ultimately, I made it home and although we're pushing our meal to today, being at home on a holiday was immensely satisfying.

So I usually use this last part of the year to reflect on the previous year and what I'm ultimately thankful for. This list will be incomplete and I will leave someone or something out; for that I apologize in advance.

- my fiancee, who I adore and who adores me and gives me the strength day in and day out to continue doing what I'm doing
- my friends and family who continue to support me during this ridiculously hard stretch of life
- our troops around the world and the fact they continue to fight for our freedom, even though a lot of Americans don't care about it
- Zygi Wilf for firing Brad Childress
- the fact that the world hasn't descended into total anarchy...yet
- delicious Starbucks and the wonderful drinks (and pastries) they serve up
- Tucson and the joy it brings me
- The Fighting Sioux and the joy they bring me
- the new Twins stadium
- Paige Elizabeth for her wonderful photography and the happiness she brought us in our engagement shoot, and will bring us in our wedding photography
- 3:16-4:17 of Arno Cost's "Cyan"
- the fact I am able to still save some money, even though I am basically dirt poor right now
- my racing season being successful, in my opinion
- the ability and the means to continue to grow in the hobby and lifestyle that I love
- the fact I continue to grow as an athlete, maturing in both body and mind

I think the thing I am MOST grateful though, ultimately, is simply the ability and means to participate in the sports that I love. I recently talked to someone in Greensboro and asked them if they would like to come running with me. He said he couldn't run a mile. I told him I was only going on an easy 3 and would take it slow, but he said he was too out of shape to even run a mile. I think about where I was three years ago, how running a mile was a task too tall. How working out was a 1/4 mile of walking or a situp. Look at me today. And look how far I want to go.

For that, I am thankful. :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Place of Zen

After a horrible 6 day stretch on reserve which tested me in more mental ways then I care to mention here, my reward was a nice stretch of 4 days off. I'm still on that stretch and it's oh so nice to not think about work.

We went down to Tucson for a couple of the days. Tucson, as you may remember, has, an active cycling community, and best of all, Sabino Canyon. Last time we came here, we hiked up to the top of it and back down. This trip, we decided to run the canyon.

While we were running up the canyon, I was looking around at all the cacti, including many that I had taken pictures of last time we were hiking up there and I got this incredible sense of zen. A feeling I haven't had on a run in a long time. It truly felt like "my" place to run. Even though we ended up cutting our run short and not running up the entire canyon, it was still an incredible feeling to just be there. To be on vacation, away from the daily grind that my job has become, and to be in a place that I love, it was an incredible feeling.

I'm curious, blog readers. What's your workout place of zen? Where are you at most peace when you work out? There's others for me, but I think if I could run in Sabino Canyon every time, I would achieve some ridiculous nirvana that even the Hindu people would be jealous of.

On another note, I did an 8 miler this morning, my long run for the week. I averaged a 9:50 mile pace on it. Vegas, you're mine! Bring it on!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


12.41 miles in 2:15:17 for a 10:54.07/mi in the high-30s with massive hills from 5700-6000 feet.

Bring it on, Las Vegas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keeping my mind healthy

I use this blog as a sounding board quite a bit, as you can all tell. Let's face it: I'm not a writer and often I end up on rambles that probably make no sense to anyone other then me and sometimes T.

On Tuesday afternoon, I flew again to Greensboro, where I was to begin a 6 day stretch of reserve. Meaning I sit around, wait for the phone to ring, and go to work. The phone has yet to ring. So instead, I'm forced to shell out money for a hotel room so I can at least be somewhat productive and not have to sleep on the crew room couch at the airport.

The real thing here that hurts the most is that I'm away from home for nearly a week.

T and I started dating in December 2007. At the time, I was living in Minnesota, she was living in Colorado. I was a pilot for an airline out there; she was doing her college hockey writing gig out in CO. No big deal; I flew out whenever I can, I also hooked her up with buddy passes so she could fly out and see me. Even when living nearly 1000 miles apart, we saw each other on a consistent basis. I was juggling my bartending job at this time too and still was able to manage.

Fast forward to today. I'll be gone from Tuesday at about 2:30 in the afternoon to Monday at 5:00 in the afternoon (and that's if I don't work Monday and can go home early). That's nearly a week of not being home. That's a week of being on the road, unable to get tasks done at home that need to get done. A week of being in a town where I refuse to take up residence, where I don't know anyone, and really, just go through the motions. I basically count down the days until I can get back to Denver, where life is happy.

So what do I do to make sure I don't fall in a depressive state? One thing I do is plan my days back home. I plan on what I'm going to do so that my days in Denver are fun and productive, not blah. For instance, we're going to Tucson on Tuesday morning. It'll be a great chance to get some R and R, eat some In N Out, and check out the Triathlon Store. We'll also get some good running in Sabino Canyon. Last time we hiked it. This time we're running it.
Today I'm going to be doing a 12 mile run. During this run, while I plan on focusing on my form, obviously, I'm also going to be doing a lot of thinking. Keeping my mind healthy. As much as I want to quit and find something else in Denver, right now, I don't have the skills to find something that will pay me as much as what I'm making doing a pilot, even though that's barely enough to get by as it is. I have friends constantly there to remind me to stick it out. To ride this wave of bad luck; that things will get better with time. I know ultimately that they are right; it's just hard to see right now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


As a quick check-in on this month before today's scheduled post ... I'm sucking with cross-training this week, though I did manage an hour of yoga which I've been meaning to do for about two months now, so yay me.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post ...

I'd like to take a small trip back into what I shall call T's Exercise History.

I started running regularly after I graduated college in 2005. Lone Tree (my hometown) decided to host a 4th of July 5K and I thought it would be fun to run the stupid thing. I think I trained ... for a couple weeks at least ... I don't really remember now. My time: 35:17. Go me. I ran pretty sporadically after that for the following year, but I started working out fairly regularly and ended up chopping a whole bunch of time of for a 31:31 in my second ever 5K (same damn race).

In 2007, my time in that race went to poo (35:49), despite the fact that it was my third race that season. It was also hot as all hell (pushing 100 degrees by the finish) and I had an asthma attack. Woo. That summer was also the summer of the bodybugg in which I went insane.

It was also the summer/fall I ran most consistently and got my 5K PR (which still stands) of 26:27. There's a race up in the small mountain town of Buena Vista, Colo., every September called the Autumn Color Run. It's fairly low-key ... or was up until last year when it started NOT being fun which is why we didn't do it this year (among other reasons). In any case, the course is pretty much ideal for setting PRs. Sure, it's at 8,000 feet, but it's 3.11 miles that's all downhill (well, it seems flat, but you actually lose elevation over the whole race). In other words, it's a fast course.

Last year, in my frustrating year of running, I still managed to pull a 27:35.5 out of my butt on it (8:52.85/mi).

Getting back on track to summer/fall '07, around the time of Autumn Color, I was consistently averaging around an 8:30/mi. It was, in a word, awesome. And then depression really started setting in (stupid bodybugg making me insane ... as well as working at 24hour). And then I yanked the damn thing off my arm in October and started eating like crap again and didn't work out or do anything active for about three weeks. And, worst of all ... I kinda quit running.

I picked it back up again (if you want to count running 1-2 miles each time out picking it up again) back in late late '07/early '08 when I first started dating my blog partner and fiance here, Brandon.

I've been running relatively consistently ever since (and ridiculously consistently since at least may '09), but I've never been able to get back to the point I was at in '07 with those damn 8:30/miles. If I'm honest with myself, it's been hard getting consistent average times under a 10:00/mi since then.

However, this year's been a bit different. While it took me for-freaking-ever to crack the 10:00/mi barrier last year (and i managed under it for less than a month)(woo september), I've done it with some regularity this year. Hell, I finally cracked 30:00 in the stupid Lone Tree race this year and I've been trying for that for six damn years.

I'd probably be regularly in the 9s, but I've also been running a lot more and a lot longer distances (not the 3 mile "long runs" of yore, but more like 8-12) and we all know that longer distance runs are going to be slower than your normal pace. They're called endurance runs for a reason.

In any case, all this rambling brings us to today. Despite my craptacular times last year, I still managed to break the 9:00/mi barrier twice; once in the Autumn Color Run and one other time.

This year, I still can't freaking manage it. I have this 4.69 mile loop around here. If I go the way I like, it's a lot of gradual downhill and then up one nasty trail hill and home. I've been getting some speedy (for me) times on it and got a 9:01/mi a week or two ago.

That loop was today's run (a 4-5 miler on the schedule). Even though I had a headwind for a good chunk of the downhill portions, I felt like I still blazed through it. The results? 42:16.68 ... for a 9:00.87/mi. AAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH. SO CLOSE to sub-9. SO CLOSE!

Someday soon, I hope.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

October Recap

As T said, October's theme was "keep on keepin on". We definitely were "keepin on" as our running was ridiculous. The amount of times I ran, combined with my times, were shocking. However, I think we may have overdone it a bit...more on that in a minute.

Here's the totals:

Running - 84.77 miles
Swimming - 1.12 miles + some drills that didn't get measured
Cycling - 12.26 miles
Lifting - 7 sessions
Off days - 4

Those numbers are impressive to the untrained eye, yes. But there's not enough cross-training going on, and like T mentioned, we may have peaked too early. Maybe too much mileage in the month of October. I know both she and I are slightly broken down and both longing for Vegas to be done; on the other hand, neither she or I have ever trained for a 1/2 marathon, so maybe this is how it feels and it's up to us to break down that wall? I don't know. Regardless, November is off to a decent start; I'm going for a 9 miler tomorrow in Toronto. Weather is supposed to suck, but it's time to man up, right?

Thanks to all our supporters out there. :-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

October Round-Up

October was a good month, but it may also turn out to be a bad month. Read on to find out ...

October's theme was "keep on keepin' on," primarily in terms of half-marathon training. In terms of running, that was a definite success. I kept on with my three runs a week, just racking up the mileage. I didn't cross-train nearly as much as I would have liked, though I did do a bit more than I did in September.

I want to keep this part short, so onward to numbers!:

Running: 83.77 miles (average went up about 5 seconds/mile ... though i blame the last two runs of the month for that)(highest month's total by a whole hell of a lot)
Swimming: 1.37 miles (average went down about a minute/mile)(also did 750m crawl work ... it's progressing. slowly. i need help here)
Cycling: 14.57 miles (average mph stayed about the same)
Lifting: seven sessions
Other: pile o' fail again

The biggest thing to notice there is the run total. 83.77 miles. That surpassed my previous high by damn near 36 miles. That's just crazy.

While the mileage was all well and good, Brandon and I were discussing if, just maybe, we did a bit too much. Both of our bodies are sore and we're starting to feel a bit rundown. Our last long run (with the soon-to-be longest run ever of 12 mi) is next week and it is not even funny how much we're both looking to not only taper, but the offseason.

My guess is part of my problem is I haven't been cross-training enough. Three swims and two cycles to go along with 13 runs ... not quite enough. It's just been tougher to get that other stuff in right now because the running is such the focus. There have been a few times I've skipped a scheduled swim or cycle due to, well, life getting in the way and my justification is that it's okay because it's Not a Run and that keeping up with The Running is the most important part.

However, my body may not be agreeing with that. Still, all I'm asking it to do is get through one more month. One more month until Vegas and I'm going to let my body take a break. Not quit, mind you, but rest. Spend more time in the pool. Cut down on the mileage. Spend more time in the weight room. Buy a trainer and spend time getting acquainted with that.

All it needs to do is get through one more month. Which, aptly, is why November's theme is "stay the course" ... because we both need to stay focused and not let the fatigue get to us.