My New Post Run Drink - Thai Tea [sort of]

I started drinking a post-run drink inspired by Thai Tea.

I've been using brewed loose Jasmine Tea for this purpose...

  • Fill 16 oz glass full of crushed ice
  • Pour brewed Jasmine Tea cooled to room temperature to about 90% of the glass.
  • Pour 3 Splenda(TM) packets in the glass.
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with milk.
  • Stir by plunging spoon into ice.
Optionally, you can use about 2 oz less tea and fill the glass with some dark rum, although I don't recommend this immediately post-run.

New pair of Sauconys

Saucony Progrid Ride 3
10.5 Wide

My first (two) pair of Progrid Ride 3s after retiring 5 pair of Progrid Ride 2s and 11 pair of Saucony Rides overall, at an average of 500 miles per pair.

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On pre-marathon meals

Don't necessarily do as I've done here--I'm just illustrating a point.

For my three fastest marathon times, I've eaten as the last meal before:
- 3:32 - cheap mediocre Mexican food.
- 3:39 - Mexican in Florence, KY on the way to Cincinnati and pub grub at Nicholson's in Cincinnati.
- 3:49 - pub food in Memphis. (I figured it was a better option than BBQ)

There are multiple reasons why I do this:
1) After running the 3:39, I've sort of become superstitious about what I eat the day before.

2) I've never had any decent luck getting near an Italian place while out of town, the night before a marathon.

3) I run long runs on Saturday, which means that fish frys and team lunches at the Mexican place down the road are pretty common day before meals. They haven't let me down.

Food before my worst marathon times:
1) 4:42 - don't recall, but was on the road, so we probably tried to find pasta, especially since my daughter will mostly only eat that.
2) 4:34 - first marathon, spaghetti
3) 4:31 - pasta (it was a hilly marathon and I was coming off of injury)

DNF - ate pasta due to having an iffy stomach all week. For me, apparently, iffy stomachs need a little bit of grease, not carbs.

I'm not saying the night meal before doesn't matter. However, what you eat the night before is more likely to harm your performance than help it if you haven't gotten your body used to it before then.

You presumably spent 12-18 weeks preparing for this marathon. The body changes didn't happen overnight. Why magically change your diet the night before?

Do this:
- Eat what you know works for your long runs, even if it violates conventional running wisdom.
- Don't eat too much.
- Don't eat too little.
- Eat your last meal the same amount of time before your race as you do before your long runs.
- Hydrate adequately.

Misleading nutrition labels

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Burrito Nutrition Label

I hate when single serve packages list multiple servings for the package. The most likely consumption scenario, at least in the U.S., is that the entire package will be one serving. It may actually only be a partial serving, even.

The person who cuts the product in half and saves half for later is the exception--especially when it's a product or package that does not lend itself to warming and consuming only part, such as a pot pie or a burrito.

On New Boston Qualifying Standards, Fairness, and Determination

Warning: The title was initially "On Qualifying, Fairness, and Determination". I'm not sure if I'm sticking with that topic.  It just echoed the general reaction from runners in response to the new qualifying standards and procedures for the Boston Marathon announced 10 days ago. That's part of my inspiration for this post. I threw in the linkbait-ish "New Boston ... Standards" bit just so the post title is clear without the context of the blog as a whole.

Waaaaa...

Obviously, I'm late to the pity party/pile-on about Boston.  I probably whined 3-5 times on Twitter, so I'm not completely indifferent in how the B.A.A. has ruined my life and all (self-deprecating sarcasm, people...).  However, to be honest, for 31 years of my life, Boston qualifying was as unattainable as the Olympic trials is for the average marathon enthusiast.  I didn't even run for 30 of those years. It was only after breaking 3:40 in my second marathon that I needed a bigger dream. Boston, for my running ability, pretty much fit that mold.

Besides, I'm still too busy being annoyed with our own local half-marathon's changes to care about what's changed with Boston.  That, and jobs, kids, life, and actually finding the time to run.

My new standard

I don't really see that I have a new standard.  I set out with a goal of 3:20:59 [or 3:15:59 for the next couple of years] before I turn 40.  Those new standards are 3:15:00 and 3:10:00 respectively.  There is no sense sweating 5 minutes and 59 seconds when I have at least 12 minutes of gap to close before then.

Qualifying is one thing. Gaining an entry through qualification is more a matter of luck, unless meeting the standard wasn't a major challenge for you in the first place. The guaranteed entries will go to those who beat their respective standards by more than 5, 10, or 20 minutes.  The leftovers will go to those who just barely beat their time.  Given that the women's standard is 30 minutes slower than the men's, those margins are smaller percentages of the overall time for women than men.  This is not to mention the argument that the women's world record is only 9.2% slower than the men's, yet the fastest women's standard is 16.2% slower than the men's.

However, in terms of fairness and tough standards, Boston has, in the past, required a 2:50 for under 40 men, 3:10 for all other men, and 3:20 for women.

Determination

I can imagine that many people will abandon their pursuit of qualifying for Boston over this. I don't really see how a single organization managed to redefine the term "self-improvement" in the dictionary. Do you cease professional development because another layer of management was inserted between you and the CEO? Never mind. Don't answer that.

Challenge

All of this rambling aside, life changes, marathon entry changes, and course changes have made me reevaluate what a challenge is for me--at least this year.  It's not about lining up with 10000-50000 of my closest friends, although I'll probably do that in New York this year. It's not about hitting 10 PRs--I'm hoping for two.

This year is about running consistently, every week, every month.  I'm working on my 3rd 50-mile week in a row.  I'd like to build up a streak of at least 20 of those.  I'm also working on my second 200 mile month this year. It'd be quite an accomplishment for there to be 12 of those this year. With jobs and family, keeping running going this year is my Boston qualifying.  With a year of consistent running, maybe I can build a successful training problem on top of it late this year or early next year.

The Kentucky Derby Festival Sends an Email on the Course Change, Finally

Email from KDF Mini/Marathon

Of course, it's a marketing email.  (Speaking of which, I seem to always see "Constant Contact" on emails that get me more fired up than other email.)

You'll noticed that this email was received February 8, 2011.  The early registration deadline is February 14, 2011.  I would imagine that most procrastinators probably wouldn't have made the early registration date, anyway.

Thanks for the notice of the advance change for the early registrants.

The text reads:

- Now with both the start and finish lines downtown, our new Marathon and miniMarathon courses have been designed to be faster than ever while taking runners past some of Louisville's best-known landmarks!

- More great entertainment along both routes to keep you going on your 13.1 or 26.2 mile journey.

- Runners will enjoy the sights of Old Louisville and the Original Highlands and pass landmarks like Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Slugger Field, KFC Yum! Center and the Speed Art Museum -- just to name a few!

- It's a whole new challenge

On point 3:  I guess the Southern Parkway crowds weren't supportive enough.

Iroquois is for Runners, or How to Ruin the Best Half Marathon in the Country

The Course In Question

Go to the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon page for the course map.

Where I'm Coming From

I'm a runner with modest ability.  I never ran track or cross country in high school.  I barely finished the mile fitness test my freshman year in high school.

Those PE exercises and recess games in middle school?  I didn't have enough sprint in me to dodge a guy running up to me to tag me with the kickball that I just kicked.

In the last five years, I've built up the strength and endurance to run in the top 10% of the pack in a couple of marathons, and I've finished 8 marathons and 4 half-marathons.

A Comfortable Challenge

I regularly run the Iroquois Hill Runners' Hard Ten route for training.  The uphill portion is a slow and steady climb.  The lower loop [marked Rundill Road on maps] has some steeper grades than the uphill road. And yet, Iroquois is no Eden Park hill in the Flying Pig, no Hatfield-McCoy 700 ft/1 mile up and downhill, no undulating 300 ft/mile up- and downhills of the Flying Monkey.

The lower loop in Iroquois is somewhere between "not flat" and "a little more than rolling hills," depending on the elevation profile of your average training runs.  The base loop's hills around the base rarely break out of the 50 ft range, and you get just about as much assistance on the downhills as you lose on the uphills--without the sustained punishment on your quads of a sustained downhill.

The Iroquois Park Runner's Experience

Uphill and Rundill Rd at Iroquois Park in the Snow

Regardless of whether you're running by yourself, with a couple of friends, or a few thousand of your friends, the canopy of trees makes the run serene. As you race around the bends, the narrow field of view keeps you from focusing on a point too far in the distance, so that landmarks in your field of vision go past quickly. The bends on inclines and declines offer opportunity for the efficient racer to pass without weaving through the crowd. The steady slapping of shoes on the pavement is the primary sound heard throughout the duration of the park run.

In the racing experience, going clockwise through park meant that, once you passed the up hill road, you were catapulted down a downhill for almost a mile as you and your fellow runners spilled onto Southern Parkway.  Then, the race began in earnest.

It should be noted that even the marathoners do not get this release anymore.  The new course travels counterclockwise.

Southern Parkway

Running down Southern Parkway was my second favorite feature about the Mini course. With the start line there, there was plenty of starting area on Southern Parkway with plenty of room to roam on the bridle paths on each side.  Part of the challenge of this arrangement was that the first two miles involved some narrow streets and tight turns.  However, it isn't necessarily a bad thing to be slowed down leading up to the hills leading up to and inside the park.

When the start line moved to 3rd Street, the crowd congestion just after the first mile dissipated, but the legs were left with more than a mile less of running prior to hitting the hills.  No matter--Iroquois Park was still waiting, and the release onto Southern Parkway would still be there as well.

The crowds along Southern Parkway were always amazing. The bridle path on each side provides plenty of room for spectators. Since the Mini drew at least 3/4th of the runners, crowds supporting the half-marathoners will no longer have a reason to cheer along Southern Parkway.  It could be lonely out there for the marathoners, even as early as mile 8 when they split off from the half-marathoners and run toward Iroquois.  At least prior marathoners didn't hear crickets chirping until mile 12.

Commingling Futility

I sure hope there's a SOLID plan to keep 7 minute mile marathoners trying for Boston Qualifying from being obstructed by 15 minute miler half-marathoners when they rejoin at miles 7.75/18.  If I was running the marathon of my lifetime for the first 18 miles, only to be obstructed by people instead of "the wall", I'd feel like I had been assaulted by cronies of the race committee.  [See Again to Carthage: A Novel by John L. Parker (Amazon link) for a more vivid illustration.]

Updated April 30 [Race Day]

As I watched video of mile 10 of the Mini course, I saw a runner moving at roughly twice the speed weaving through the other runners. Apparently, at this point, there was no clear division of the two courses.

Also, due to last minute course adjustments, the mile markers 9/18 through 11/20 were paired...  That means that a 7:30 marathoner would have run into the wall 15 minute half-marathoners [the KDF mini attracts a large walking contingent] and would have to fight through for 2 miles, much like I experienced in Chicago, but with participants moving at half the pace instead of about 80% of my pace.

I encourage the 15 minute miler to participate. I blame bad course management for not giving a clear path for the half-marathoners and marathoners to co-exist.  Of course, I also blame bad course design, but minimally, better planning should minimize the challenges presented by the course layout.

Tradition

Having grown up near the park, I once knew little about the Mini except for the fact that we couldn't exit our neighborhood via Southern Parkway until after 10am, the barricades that lined the bridal path, and the stampede of runners running down the street.

Now, with the only the marathon route passing by at mile 15 instead of everyone passing by at mile 8--the neighborhood will now be blocked until noon, but the stampede of runners will be the thinned out trickle of marathoners that is typical of a medium-sized marathon at mile 15.

So, tradition doesn't mean much.  Unless it's Churchill Downs. I can't recall if Churchill Downs--especially the trip through the infield--was always a "feature" on the Mini-Marathon, but judging by the contrived nature of the path through Churchill's infield, I would have my doubts. Something about running through dank tunnels, snaking around aimlessly on the narrow infield path, and inhaling fresh hay and manure smell doesn't scream "preferred running route" to me.

By contrast, thousands of people hit the Iroquois hills willingly, sometimes even when the traction is limited.

No Complaining Without Solutions!

Okay, so it's easy enough for me to be a naysayer.  What would I do for the Mini course if I had some bizarre insistence on finishing on the waterfront?  Here's my course.  It's a pretty straight shot down 4th Street, and runs by the back side of Churchill Downs but not in it.  It would run through 4th Street Live! as well.

 

2011 Goals, Fitness and Otherwise

While this is a somewhat specific and lengthy post of goals, this is really more of a mindset setting for me personally that a specific set of checklist items that will determine my success or failure.

I hope to revise this [with revisions noted] on a monthly basis.

Running / Fitness

Train less, harder, and more consistently.

  • Don't shy from intervals and tempo runs.
  • Build to a 50 mile per week average by the end of January and keep the average within 2 miles per week of that mark.  The daily mileage slog has been accomplished.  I'm not going to improve my performance on pure training volume alone, unless I get a sponsorship equal to my current pay.
  • There are no marathon goals for this year.  I plan to run two in November, but this year is primarily and maintenance and base-building year.  I have failed to run an entire year consistently and healthy since 2007.

Release the apathy and fear.

  • Get outside in the rain once.
  • Hit the hills as much as possible.
  • Train on the hottest day of the summer.
  • Attack a run that specifically becomes a point of dread.

Train smarter

  • Get back into consistent strengthening exercises.
  • Add flexibility into the mix.

Plan daytime eating

  • Don't be caught off guard by the thought of what to eat 5 minutes before it is found.
  • Control daytime nutrition
  • Stash fresh fruit, peanut butter, oatmeal, etc...

Reading

Finish 24 books:

Music

  • Re-learn and improve organ and work up at least one organ specific piece in time for Easter.

Family

  • Establish a specific weekly activity to do 1-on-1 with each of the kids.
  • Date night once per week.

Business

  • Pet project development.

2400 miles later

This has been the best disappointing year ever!  200 miles per month averaged, despite barely creeping near 200 miles a couple of times the last few months.

A Running History

In 2006, I started running.  By virtue of every race being my first at that distance, I set 4 personal records [5km, 15km, half-marathon, 4km].  I ran my first race, a 5k race, in 33:44.  That's a pace of 10:52 per mile, which is a slower pace than my worst marathon finish out of 8 marathons.

In 2007, I set 9 PRs.  10 if you count the 9.2 mile leg that I ran for a fundraising relay race.  Among those were:

  • 2 - 4 miler PRs
  • 2 - 5k PRs
  • 1 - 10k PR
  • 1 - 10 miler PR
  • 2 - half marathon PRs
  • 1 - marathon PR

In 2008, I started the year on fire and feeling invincible.  I ran a PR in every race [6 total] through my second marathon in May.  I beat my first marathon time by almost 55 minutes.  I followed up that marathon performance with my worst marathon performance ever, 8 minutes slower than my first marathon time.  Angry about my performance, I destructively ran hard, started getting injured, and proceeded to insure a prolonged injury by trying to bounce back too hard after a few days off.  I recovered from my injury and hobbled through a marathon, and went on to run a 5k PR a couple of weeks later.

In 2009, I quickly injured myself out of being able to run any races until late spring [a 5k].  From there, I slowly built up mileage, peaking out at 70 and 80 miles per week toward a November and December marathon.  I PRed in November and had a fairly strong marathon in December.

2010

This year, I had the usual trifecta of PRs in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running -- 5k, 10k, 10 miler.  Unfortunately, my 10 miler performance had me horribly disappointed.  I had mediocre and uninspired training for the next few weeks leading up to my spring marathon, with a stomach bug circulating in the house the week prior to the marathon.  I never got noticeably sick, but I didn't have the guts [literally] to finish the marathon.

Since my spring marathon attempt was little more than a 16 mile long run, I went straight back into marathon training, setting my sights on Chicago-10/10/10.  I ran a 5k race after a high mileage week [80 miles?] in early August, and broke down during the subsequent 60 mile weeks.  I took 3 weeks off with lots of stationary cycling, and managed to get back into the swing of training 5 weeks before the marathon.  Chicago was a disaster.

Again, I tentatively trained through the marathon.  This time the Flying Monkey marathon was up.  Not exactly the "redemption opportunity" that one would hope for after crashing and burning on a flat marathon course.  Nonetheless, I ran 22 minutes faster than my previous Flying Monkey marathon and 17 minutes faster than my Chicago time.  While 4:08 is not exactly a good marathon outing for me, I was still very happy with some level of redemption for the year.

With Monkey over, I was a measly 140 miles or so from 2400 miles for the year with 5 weeks to go.  35 miles per week was going to be easy, even with travel, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Then a nasty little sinus infection struck the day after Thanksgiving.  I've felt bad before and managed to go out and trudge through 15-20 miles.  I did a 22 miler with a sinus infection two weeks before my first marathon.  It felt bad, but not much worse than sitting around feeling miserable.

This time, I've had two weekends where I just didn't care to start running a long run, much less go the full distance.  I've had a fairly persistent cough for 5 weeks.  The doctor last weekend had me x-rayed for pneumonia [two opinions later, both came back negative].  The cough is mostly on its last legs now, but I've had to take things far easier than I can stand.  Nonetheless, 2400 miles are in the books.  150 miles more than last year.