December 8, 2009

Tecumseh Marathon, 2009 (#25)

When: December, 2009                                                                     
Who: Me and Lesa
Recall: Coldest marathon yet.                                               
Overall: Another great time in the Indiana woods
Rating: 5/5 carbs

What is Mickey Rourke doing in Indiana and why is he “running” downhill so slowly? Of all the people I spend the most time running with during the 2009 Tecumseh marathon, it would have to be a guy who reminds me of a sober Mickey Rourke running like a maimed duck. We start leap frogging each other on the first incline after mile 16. I pass the duck footed Mickey on the downhills. He passes me on the uphills. But, just before mile 18, Big Red Man slows everyone down leaving both Mickey and me stuck behind Red just like the 23 cars lined up behind some Idaho driver pulling a camper up Logan Canyon at 32 miles an hour with no desire to pull over and let other pass. Who know Big Red Man was from Idaho? Being 8 or 9 people behind him and lacking the horsepower to pull out and pass him I convinced myself I’m preserving energy and silently cursed Big Red Man until the trail breaks out of the woods and onto the road just before mile 18 aid station. Such are the issues when running a trail marathon.

Before running into Mickey and Big Red Man, who I name for his bright red XXXL fleece top he was wearing, the day went as planned. By waiting to drive over Saturday morning, Lesa and I were able to be around for Erin’s birthday on Friday. The race doesn't start until 10:00 a.m. EST on Saturday so we leave the house at 4:30 CST and get to Yellowwood camp ground around 8:30 in time for me to pick up my race packet in the campground rock pavilion. The skies are clear and the temperatures must be in the 20s. Burr. I layer on clothing and then catch a bus to the start while Lesa drives back to Bloomington for breakfast and a day of Christmas shopping.

The thing I dread most about Tecumseh is the nearly one hour yellow school bus ride to the start. First, yellow school buses are not comfortable and, second, these buses are driven by school bus drivers who are incapable of reading a map. It’s a good thing there are always a few locals on the bus who know the way. Granted the start is at a remote ranger station and their are many back roads in the Hoosier State but come on! Your a professional driver. Pretend the ranger station is a school and just get us there. Later in the day I hear that one of the other buses hit a deer on the way to the start. Yikes. A common goal for any marathon is to finish but that goal should begin at the starting line and not include the bus ride to the start.

I share the left hand seat of row 14 with a Purdue college student majoring in pharmacology. She has a little bag with gloves, energy bars, and other odds and ends inside. I ask her if she had any EPO or other drugs to help with endurance. No luck. Just Skittles.

What the bus driver doesn’t know about reading maps she makes up for in heat generation. The internal temperature of the bus gradually climbs to a very annoying level of heat perfect for roasting water fowl or chestnuts but not humans about to embark in a 26.2 mile dance with dehydration. I pray a bottle of Powerade offsets the sweat lose encountered on the bus. Between the sunny skies and sitting for an hour in a yellow broiler on wheels I forgot just how cold it really is until I stepped outside! Ouch, that hurts.

As usual the race doesn’t start on time so I have time to get reacquainted with the cold. I decide to start about half way back from the front. Last year I made the mistake of starting too far back and ended up meeting too many runners-who-go-downhill-slowly. This years' strategy works well. There is much less delays on the trail and I seem to be making good time. The two or three times I am slowed down it is because some girl (sorry but it’s true) is tip-toeing downhill with her hands raised above her head or standing still at a stream crossing trying to decided how not to get her shoes dirty. Later I did her one lady tell her female friend, “Now at the stream, just go! Don’t wait.” Good advice.

As I approached the mile 7 aid station I see a white, 2 foot by 2 foot sign with red lettering that reads “run, run.” A few feet later a similar sign says, “Rudolph.” There are more signs to follow along with Christmas music blasting from the aid station. It’s a unique experience to be running along a trail deep in the woods and then suddenly be hit with Christmas signs and music. They even lined one of the foot bridges in green garland! I love it. I notice the race director and thank him for the holiday cheer.

One of my favorite sections of the trail is between miles 7 and 12. It’s mostly downhill and at one point goes through a small pine tree forest! It’s also nice because you aren’t too tired to talk to other runners and you can still enjoy the scenery. In past years I would be running mostly by myself at this point but this year I'm the caboose of a small group of runners. Against my dad's advice, I trip for the first time but get both hand out in front of me to stop my fall just before my face meets the trail.

The short stretch of gravel road after mile 12 is not fun to run on and it's not really in the woods but for some reason the photographer chooses to take pictures here. Of all the beautiful miles of single track trail and he decides to photograph runners on a road. Yuck. Speaking of yuck, the road continues to the top of Indian hill. I know it’s Indiana but I swear this hill is longer and steeper than the 6th North hill going up to USU from the Twin Pine Ranch. Not only does running up it not make any sense, for me and ever other runner around me, it’s not even an option at this point.

Once on top, the brisk western wind motivates me to get running. Before too long I’m back on the trail heading downward, out of the wind and toward another stream. So far, my wet feet have had managed to warm back up after ever stream crossing. So far. The sign at the mile 16 aid stations says the food is free! Excellent. Half of a banana, some Gatorade, a few pretzels and I was ready for the next incline but not before crossing another stream. Rather than wait in line to cross on a fallen trees' trunk I run through the stream. This time my feet never quite warm up until I'm back inside the rock Pavilion.

Beyond the stream is where I first encounter Mickey and Big Red Man. This is another beautiful section of the course where the trail follows a creek through a small valley. The peaceful silence is broken by Big Red Man's loud mouth friend who cruises into the mile 18 aid station shouting something loud and obnoxious about hot chocolate. I had arrived minutes before and his arrival gives me the incentive to take my hot chocolate to go. Of course, "to go" means "walking" so I can drink the warm, chocolate elixir.

For the first time I am running mostly solo and feeling pretty good until I get to the next hill. I down shift to walking mode and get a dizzy feeling in my head. Weird. At the top I begin running and the dizziness is gone. Still weird. From then on whenever I stopped to walk uphill, I get dizzy but it goes away when I begin running. Dehydration? Maybe. Sinus infection. Likely. At least it's spurs me on to run whenever possible. Unfortunately, despite my new found source of motivation, I just don't have the energy to run uphill. It doesn’t help any that I hate this section from mile 18 to 20. I know the math is wrong but its got to be at least 5 miles long and I despise every one of the hidden miles. And what’s more, my forearms start to cramp up. Forearms? Yes, I have cramps in my forearms. Go figure. I have no idea why but the excitement of the sharp descent at mile 21 helps me forget the dizziness, the deception, and my tired arms. Now I can focus on the finish which is just on the other side of Lake Yellowwood.

Mile 23 is at the one end of the lake, say 6:00, and the finish is at 11:00. So I tell my self that I only have to run counter-clockwise from 6 to 11 and I’ll be done. I know it’s strange but that’s how I think after 23 miles. At this point the trail is not as hilly but there’s more mud. A few yards outside the aid station I find myself in another pine forest and...right behind the running duck, Mickey. With his feet pointed outward he is able to run downhill slower than I can walk downhill. Literally. No kidding. You'd swear it was an optical illusion but he really can run that slowly. Let the leap frogging return. I pass him on the downhills and he passes me on the up hills. Distracted by though of running up Mickey's back, I tripped for the second time near mile 23 but, again, both hands go down preventing a face plant in a large puddle of mud. Sadly both hands go down in a mud puddle leaving my gloves so muddy and wet that and my hands refuse to go back inside. I stick my gloves in my shirt back pockets (very handy) and continued on with my hands tucked up inside my sleeves. It's a good thing that I only had to run two miles without gloves since it’s mid-afternoon and getting colder. Eventually, I catch Mickey just before the trail ends at mile 25. Mickey takes advantage of the last aid station but I figured, “Let’s get this thing over with”. The trail is replace by a gravel road that is noticeably harder than the trail and my legs feel it right away but are willing to continue along as long as they are forced to go faster than shuffle mode. It works except for the one last aggravating hill. After the hill I shuffle onward eventually turning left into the Yellowwood campground. As I run the final stretch towards the finish line I see the race director again whom I congratulate on hosting a well organized and fun race. He replies, “Thanks" and adds, "You ran a good race today.” I’m not sure what he meant by that since I finished 405th out of 593 runners but it made me feel good.

Who know Bloomington, IN had traffic jams but Lesa got caught in one and missed me finishing but arrived before I finished my soup and sandwich. Finishing any marathon brings a sense of accomplishment and relief but there’s nothing quite like following a 26.2 mile run in the cold with some hot homemade soup and a delicious sandwich while sitting in a rock pavilion warmed by a roaring fire. It's weird, I know, but it's funny how enjoyable simple things can become after running a marathon.

October 17, 2009

Food Rules

After reading a list of food rules on a New York Times webpage, I thought I'd pass along my favorites and add one of my own.

Obvious but sound advice.

Makes perfect sense.

I need to eat more fruit.

The above rule is so true now that I think about it. Once a food stops tasting good, stop tasting it.

Healthy food may be expensive but so is surgery and medicine.

I would add random eating or snacking. I never pray over a chocolate chip cookie.

A good sound rule that I need to remember more often. In today's society we don't need to always "clean our plates" or "get our money's worth".

I like this one. It coincides with the Mormon fast offerings program if you include giving your dinner to a neighbor.

Here's what I tell my students.
"There is no magical food, there is no evil food. Just eat less. In particular less sugar, startch, and fat and replace them with more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains."
(Disclaimer: I need to be better and practice what I preach.)

September 26, 2009

Top of Utah, 2009 (#24)

When: September, 2009.
Me, Tom, Bill and Kristin

Recall: Tom sets PR only one week after Lotoja!
Overall: Still one of my favorite marathons.
Rating: Remains 5/5 carbs

Starting Line at Hardware Ranch

I didn’t know what to expect going into TOU 2009. With record cool temperatures, summer 2009 provided nearly perfect running weather allowing me to log enough long runs to feel good about running a marathon in September. In fact, I felt good enough to dare imagine setting a PR or even breaking four hours. However, I can’t run Top of Utah Marathon without Tom who would be coming off the 206 Lotoja bike race only a week previous. Plus, his hamstring had been giving him problems. So how would he feel? Would his legs hold up? There was no snow in the forecast, like in 2000, but there were warm temperatures. Eighty degrees, in fact. I’d rather have snow. In the end my approach to 2009 Top of Utah was the same as I have with most other marathons; just an extra long run with a medal at the end. My goals were realistic and practical; finish and don’t die.

Blacksmith Fork Canyon

I ditched work Thursday afternoon and flew from Indy to Salt Lake passing through Denver. Paige and Lorin were gracious enough to put me up for the night and to get me to Logan Friday afternoon in time for dinner at Firehouse Pizza with more of the family. After dinner it was time to pick up our race packets which always include, among other junk, a T-shirt. Out of the previous four TOU marathons I’ve run, there had been only one T-shirt worth keeping and that fact remains. This years long sleeve, bright orange T-shirt will not have a place in my clothing rotation, except maybe on Halloween if I go as a pumpkin or short carrot. I don’t understanding it. TOU has a great looking logo but they don’t use in on their shirts or finishers medals.

Elevation Chart for Top of Utah, Ogden, and St. George Marathons

Friday night, sleep can easy as did waking up – at 2:00 a.m. I was so awake I was ready to run then but I laid in bed for an hour, feel asleep for another hour, and back awake with a slight stomach ache at 4:00 a.m. Bill and Tom showed up the Twin PIne Ranch around 5:00. Kirstin would be meeting friends and riding up with them so we three brothers drove to Merlin Olsen Park to board a yellow school bus. The night before and on the ride up, the topic of “race” strategy came up without any decision except to play it by ear.

Predicting victory at mile 16.7...
(Photo by Bob)

We got to Hardware Ranch just after 6:00. When the sun showed itself, we could see it was a beautiful, cool morning that says, summer is gone and fall is waiting at the finish line. Black powder rifle fire started the race and we crossed the starting line about a minute later. The excitement surrounding any marathon makes it easy to start out faster than planned but the downhill slope at TOU makes it even easier. After the first mile it was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to hang with Bill and Tom who were pounding out sub 9 minute miles, which is my speed limit. A 9 minute per mile pace over 26.2 miles gets you a finishing time under 4:00 hours so I decided to stick to that. Bill and Tom were taking advantage of the 18 miles of downhill, and a brisk tailwind. The scenery was beautiful, as expect and I was loving it. I get a little frustrated when my iPod tore a hole in the tiny side pocket of my running shorts and begin to slide down my leg. I caught the iPod before it feel free but had difficulty in pulling it back up through the pocket hole. Meanwhile three fit young Turks in green running shirts were playing a game of sprint one mile, walk, repeat. I would pass them during their walk and they would pass me during the sprint. Odd.

Paige, Polly, and Bruce - who is pushing me away - at mile 18
(Photo by Molly)

No moose were spotted on the descent of Blacksmith Fork canyon but the gorgeous scenery reminded me that I was not in Illinois. I drank Gatorade at very other aid station and swallowed some gel at mile 8. The further down the canyon I ran the stronger the tailwind became which was great for not just the additional propulsion but its cooling effect as well. My time at the halfway point was 1:57. Spot on. The cheers from the crowd at the mouth of the canyon were a welcomed change from the solitude of the canyon. The first familiar face I spotted by Adrienne in her car just past mile 14 followed by Bob who was patrolling Hallow Road on his bike. Bob updated me on Bill and Tom who were at least 5 minutes ahead of me. Go Tom! Go Bill! Bob snapped a few pictures and peddled off to look for Kristin. Somewhere along Hallow Road a short developed in my right earphone. Arrgh. That small annoyance didn’t last knowing I was closing in on mile 18 where I’d find an energy bar, Dr. Pepper, and a great group of fans. Thanks for Paige, Molly, Polly, Bruce and the rest of the family and friends for the support. That was exactly what I needed. Until mile 18, I was maintaining a 9 mile per mile pace but started to feel tightness in my stomach so I didn’t eat the energy bar. After leaving the gang at mile 18, I nixed the iPod in favor of the sounds of nature. The hope that a walk jog strategy would provide some relieve to my stomach was unfounded. I must have had a look of consternation on my face during one of the walking periods in Providence causing a fellow runner blurted out, “Hang in there. You can do it.” Okay, thanks, I thought very sarcastically. It’s not like I haven’t done this before. I don’t mind anyone cheering me one but when they say things really personal, like they know you, it bothers me. Fortunately, I was able to chuck just down the road when I over heard a husband or boyfriends’ comment to his running partner. “I only wish you felt as good as I do.” Oh, that should really help her.

Hanging out with the family at mile 25
(photo by Bob)

It was great to see Sam at mile 21. She kindly offered me a DP but I declined and asked if she’d take my hat, iPod and power bar. I could only walk the next 2 miles and partly with a family practice physician from Hill Air Force base who was running his first marathon. He was dress in his orange TOU long sleeve T-shirt and long running pants. While it wasn’t as warm as I had expected it was definitely too warm for long sleeves and pants. I told him about Bill, GB and running TOU in the snow in 2000. He was impressed with Bill’s miraculous recovery. Ironically, we were almost passing Lisa Schupe’s house at the time.

Polly and me at mile 25 with an emergency vehicle lurking ominously in the background
(photo by Paige)

The switchback part of the course in River Heights is my least favorite and I debated if it was worth walking the final 4 miles against taking off my number and cutting through River Heights on a direct route to the Tabernacle for a ride home. With my number off I decided to give running another try with limited success. Plotting along I made it to the hill down into Logan and turned west on 300 South towards Main Street. As I approached the intersection of 200 East a runner ahead of me was yelling at the driver of a truck attempting to make a right turn onto 300 South. His tirade consisted most of F-bombs along and its corresponding single finger, hand gesture. As I ran through the intersection, I caught up to Mr. F-bomb just before the truck was able to turn right and drove right past us. I asked, “What was his problem?” pointing to the truck. “He was honking at the runners and spectators. Here we are out busting our humps doing something he’d never do. You know, something healthy and positive and that guy has a problem with it.”

Somewhere between mile 25 and the finish

After walking up that disturbing little hill between 100 and 200 South, I jogged to the Tabernacle where I was once again greeted by family and friends. It’s a great feeling to have people who know you cheer you on. I could have stayed longer since my first two goals (sub 4 hour and new PR) were unattainable and my third goal of finishing was fairly certain. Where the course turns south on 100 East a loud mouth man with good intentions told me how good my form was. Smooth he said. What? Don’t mistake slowness with smoothness. Going slow does not make for good form. Good form is found is a fast form. I would have rather heard him say, “You look good,” even though I know he would have been lying. I saw Paige, Molly, Polly and Bruce walking back to their car just after I crossed Center Street but I kept moving knowing I only had about 3 blocks to go. Then it dawned on me. I had no idea what my time was. I was using my iPod as a timer, which was with Sam, and I hadn’t really noticed the clocks on the course. I realized I had no idea what my time was but was pleasantly surprised when I made the last turn and saw the time near 4:20 rather than 4:40 or more! I jogged the last tenth of a mile looking for familiar faces in the crowd. Towards the finish line I saw Shelly and then Laura and Clark. Settling on finishing 49th in my age group, I stopped and high-fived Clark and Laura just feet from the finish line. It was worth any 48th place prize money I may have missed out on.

At the finish line
(photo by Shelly)

Bill soon found me in the crowd and told me the excellent news. Tom broke four hours! Animal.There I was hours earlier wondering how Tom’s legs would hold up and he goes and runs a sub-four hour personal record! Well done, squire! I don’t care how much Bill, Shep and Kimball motivated him over the last 5-6 miles, he still had to do it on his own two legs. Impressive to the maximum.

"After you"

Looking back maybe I shouldn’t have had the BBQ pizza the night before (but it was really good). Or, maybe I shouldn’t start marathons at altitude. Or, maybe I should get new ear phones before each marathon. Or, maybe I should reinforced the pockets in my running shorts with duct tape. Or, maybe I shouldn’t wear a red shirt when I run marathons. Or, maybe I should just shut up and train harder so I can run like Tom. And Bill?

July 30, 2009

Deer Picnic in Our Backyard

It's hard to see them but a doe brought her three fawns into our yard to feast on hostas and other sorts of vegetation. We used to scare them away but realized it was a lost cause and now prefer to sit back and watch them eat lunch...and dinner...and breakfast.

Bon appetite our ruminant friends!

July 7, 2009


While I'm very skeptical of the hype of 5-Hour Energy shots I think there might be something to FRS Healthy Energy. It contains some sugar, a great source of energy not found in 5-hour Energy, caffeine and an antioxidant called quercetin plus other stuff.

Quercetin has been studied a little bit and the results look promising. It is thought to increase the energy producing mitochondria inside muscle and brain cells. One study should that taking 500 mg or quercetin twice a day for a week increase aerobic endurance 13.2% and VO2max by 3.9%. That almost sounds too good to be true. The study didn't look at what was responsible for the increases-did it really increase mitochondria or not?-however, it was a well designed study and published in a respected journal. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties positive effects on the immune system both of which can help speed recovery from exercise.

But, you don't have to buy FRS to get it. It's naturally found in apples, citrus fruit, and onions among other foods although you'd have to eat a lot of these to get the same amount as found in FRS or other forms. Quecertin is not a vitamin or mineral. It's a flavonoid that helps prevent damage to the cells of the body cause by free radicals. Free radicals are produced all the time but in great amounts during exercise so active people produce more free radicals, which cause greater damage to their cells, and therefore may benefit from anti-oxidants, like quercetin, that remove free radicals.

Runners World had a blurb about quercetin recently as I'm guess many others have as well. It also has general health benefits to it as well. So if it really does help, I'm sure we'll be seeing more supplements (sport drinks, gels, and bars) and foods (cereals, breakfast shakes, etc.) with Quercetin in them.

July 4, 2009

Top of Utah

Next marathon: Top of Utah, September 19th. This positive review from (8th one down from YPR) helped me decided on TOU over the Air Force marathon.

Cache Valley, be prepared for snow that weekend! It's happened before (see TOU, 2000). Below is a graph comparing the elevation of TOU, Ogden and St. George marathons. TOU has more "inclines" in the last few miles, something I wish they could change.

Training officially started yesterday with a 14.3 mile run. Below is the old Nike+ view of my run. (I inadvertantly, stopped my watch after 13.34 miles but, honestly, I did one more mile)

Here's the newer look to Nike+. It makes me look a like a better runner so I like it.

Today I ran in the Habitat for Humanity, Four for the 4th fun run. I finished in 31:53, just under an 8 minute per mile pace. If I could keep up that pace over 26.2 miles, I'd be running Boston next April. If I could knock it down to a 5 minuter per mile pace I'd be running in the 2012 Olympics. How do people do that?

Anyway, the Four for the 4th run was fun. I ran most of it with Ethan Garrett. We ran most of the Washington D.C. marathon together back in 2002 and he ran the Indianapolis Marathon the same year I did in 2007 and was nice enough to wait at the end until I finished. I talked to Brett Bartlett at the start and then the finish. He didn't wait for me just like he didn't at TOU, 2000 and Memphis, 2000 but when you run that much fast than me, he shouldn't wait.

Depending on how things go with TOU, I may try the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis on the first Saturday in November. Then, there's Tecumseh a month later. I can't wait for fall! Although the past week was perfect running weather. Well as perfect as you can expect for summer so I took advantage of it and logged 29 miles this week. A decent amount for me.

June 23, 2009

I still haven't decided which fall marathon(s) to run. Waiting for the cheap airfare to Utah to help make up my mind.

My next "race" will be 4 for the 4th here in Charleston on, of course, July 4th.

Last year started using the Nike+ system in March and below is a summary my running year.

77,899 calories sound like a lot until I compare it to how many calories I ate (which I never count).

This weeks forecast. Too hot to run?

Another view of this weeks forecast. And it's only the first week of summer! Yes, it is too hot and too humid to run!

But it's never to hot and humid for DP.

My favorite self-portrait :) on Twitpic

May 23, 2009

Just Mostly Dead at Mile 11, Not All Dead.

Between miles 5 and 7, and before acute neuromuscular failure kicked in, I felt a strong urge to run The Top of Utah Marathon on September 19. I figured if I really trained and pushed my self I might have a chance of breaking 4 hours...or maybe not. My PR is at 4:07 but I had Ben pacing me. I'll have to check on airfare before I can know for sure. 

What got me going at the end of my run? A nice downhill stretch along with Chris Isaak's cover of I Want You To Want Me. Time for some Powerade and banana bread.


May 11, 2009

Potential Marathon List

I'd like to be running the Ogden Marathon or the Berryman Trail Marathon this Saturday but neither work out so limiting my self to marathons that are within driving distance from Charleston or could be part of a trip to Utah and are not on Sunday, here's my list of what I'm looking at for the rest of the year. 
Any other suggestions?

May 9, 2009

May 9th's run

I ran my own 10k today rather the half-marathon that SBLHC sponsored. Upon completion I was congratulated by Lance Armstrong (via Nike+ system) for completing a strong run and burning a lot of calories. Thanks, Lance.

Here's one of the random thoughts that popped into my head while running: I'd rather run Saturday mornings and hopefully live a longer life than drive around town shopping garage sales to live a life surrounded by more junk.

May 3, 2009

May 2, 2009

Saturday morning run - May 2nd

8:00 Helped Dave B move a few things to his new apartment.
9:30 Visited Darryl G in the hospital.
11:00 Went for a run. The graph is a very distorted. The slowdowns are hills and/or old age. Still thinking about another marathon before summer. 

More wedding photos

Some of the images from Ben and Courtney's reception on April 24, 2009. Thanks again to Paige and Lorin for the pictures.

Paige, Erin and Molly at the Logan temple.

Polly showing off her dress

Paige with Bruce 

Lorin holding Bruce

Beautiful ladies

Polly with Salt Lake City temple in background

Ben and Courtney

Polly and Courtney