PR-ing the Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon

Today was the 3rd annual Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon. I signed up for this race last year right after running the soggy 2nd annual Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon. Today’s weather was a cool 47 degrees and overcast. If you are unfamiliar with the West Lafayette and Lafayette, IN area that surrounds Purdue University’s campus then let me tell you the course is a bit hilly.

The course starts out on the edge of campus near Ross-Aide stadium and heads out toward the Purdue golf courses. The first 5-6 miles are very pleasant with a few rolling hills and even includes a great deal of downhill grade running as you cross down into the Wabash river valley to the Lafayette side. Once into Lafayette you run around the downtown Lafayette area and then begin your trek back to the shores of the Wabash around miles 7-8.  It is very picturesque and filled with memories for those returning alumni, like myself, who spent our formative years at our ol’ Purdue.

Do you remember me saying a few sentences ago that you were running DOWN into the river valley? Holy hell, you have to get back to campus! Mile 8 to 9-ish is all uphill. You think a bridge would be flat. NOPE!  It looked flat from the other side! …optical illusion apparently.

Up until then I had been maintaining a nice sub 9-minute pace and feeling great! I was fueling on a strict schedule and running through the water stops without slowing down. I used the crush top cup method to pour water and gatorade down my gullet and kept running never breaking stride and surprisingly getting most of the life giving liquids into me without too much spillage.

That “last” hill felt like it went on forever and it took a lot out of me. We climbed and climbed and climbed. I passed many a runner who was brought to a walk, but I had trained for this hill as I run most all my treadmill runs at a 1% incline so I am used to maintaining pace on an incline.  By the time I was at the top of the hill I felt like I was moving so slow, but my Garmin was still telling me that I was well below a 10-minute mile pace even though I was over my 9:05 needed to come in under 2-hours. At the top of the climb we made a turn to take us over to the Purdue University hotel and through the heart of campus to head back toward the stadium.

Passing the 10-mile marker I remembered where the course goes next and I remembered I was mistaken on that “last” hill comment earlier. The course doubles back on itself to go back by the Purdue golf courses toward the finish line in order to avoid running up that enormously steep hill that is right next to Ross-Aide stadium.  In order to accomplish this the course goes up Stadium Avenue to McCormick Road, passed the fraternities near Slater Hill…yes, it’s called Slater hill because well, it’s a big hill…like the kind you can sled down in the winter time…with a couch if done correctly.

The good news! It’s not that long of a climb. The bad news! It’s steeper than the bridge I mentioned earlier. This time my Garmin told me that I WAS over the 10-minute pace for a short period. I caught more and more runners as many walked up that hill. At the top of the hill was the 11-mile marker. I had 2.1 miles to go on relatively flat terrain and I was about 95+ minutes into the race. I realized I could do 10 minute miles the rest of the way and still beat 2-hours!  However, I didn’t come here to run 10-minute miles so I pushed it to keep a pace closer to 9:20. After passing the 12-mile marker I enjoyed the last 1.1 miles. At about a quarter mile out three Fleet Feet guys passed me and I decided to stick with them. They were running an 8:22 pace which felt surprisingly good to me! I cleared passed the three as I sprinted to the finish looking at the clock right as I crossed the line.

The clock read 01:57:08.  I know a few more seconds will be shaved off since I wasn’t toeing the start line at the gun.

Afterwards I was prepared for the smile, but I was unprepared for the emotion as I’ve chased this sub 2-hour goal for a couple years through unbearable heat and more than one very chilly race. Today’s race was perfectly set with a cool temperature, a sun under cloud cover and otherwise dry conditions. I cannot be happier right now and I’ve already put my new PR medal in it’s place of honor on my PR medal holder!

In two weeks I have the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. This is a training run for The Dopey Challenge and I am excited to run it! Next weekend I will still do a long run of close to or right at 20 miles. Looking forward to it!

Happy Training!

Brian

Epic Run Today!

I had a fairly epic run today!  I was less than impressed with the weather when I woke up so I headed to the gym.  What can I say? I hate being even remotely cold on a run unless someone is putting a medal around my sweaty neck at the end of it.

My goal for this run was two fold. Run a sub 2-hour half marathon and go 15 miles.  I accomplished BOTH!

Screenshot 2014-10-04 18.24.31

I started out with an easy warm-up at a 9:40 pace then moved it into a little faster than my half marathon pace at 8:57. The first 65 minutes of the run I kept it flat, but upped the speed to an 8:34 pace by the end of it. Then I reset quickly and went again. My overall pace for the first half was a 9:05 and I covered 7.16 miles.

I’m sure the other gym rats were wondering why I had three water bottles lined up next to the treadmill, but I didn’t want to stop for down time between 65 minute sessions on the treadmill.  On the second half I put it straight to 8:57 and added a 0.5% incline to make it more challenging. At the 10 mile marker I upped the incline to 1% and kept it there. I wanted to make sure I simulate a little incline so it makes the TM run more realistic to the outdoors so I add incline regularly on indoor runs.

As I approached the half marathon distance I kept increasing my pace. In the last 1.1 miles I was at a 8:00 minute mile pace and feeling good. Still realizing that this is not official I covered the 13.1 mile distance in 01:57:48 then finished out the rest of my 15 mile run between an 8:57 – 9:05 pace.  My overall time for 15 miles was 02:15:09 (9:00 pace).

I also had on my new calf compression sleeves by Yorkberg! I’ve ran three times with them and I like them! Comfortable, easy on/off, good amount of compression and they stay in place across long distances.

Screenshot 2014-10-04 18.00.42
Not my legs

This is great motivation as my previous best time for that distance is 02:05:49. I can’t wait to do it for real on a race course! I’m hoping that my Purdue University half marathon goes well on the 18th, but I also realize that course is very hilly so we shall see!

Happy Training!

Brian

Count Chocula Cereal is the Everest of Carb Loading

Today’s morning run was sponsored in part by Count Chocula Cereal!  Count Chocula…blah, blah…BlahBlahBlah…

2014-09-20 07.56.43
Pics of me with the cut-out mask will come soon.

Today was day 114 of my RunStreak! I have two runs planned for the day and the first I did 3.56 miles in just under 30 minutes for an overall estimated pace of 8:21/mile. This isn’t a bad pace considering I stopped for a selfie a half mile into the run.

2014-09-20 07.16.35 HDR
It’s definitely time to shave my head again!

Hope you have a great run today!  If you haven’t started training for Disney Marathon weekend and are signed up then you better get to hopping!   Ok, don’t actually hop that could be bad.

Happy Training!

Brian

It’s all for charity…

Last week someone (Matthew Thomas) over at Team DAWS, the charity dedicated to ridding the planet of the horrible genetic disease known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA for short, came up with the crazy idea of challenging myself and a friend of mine (Mitch Brannen) to a little fundraiser for DAWS to raise some cash for a good cause.

The Challenge:

This is a very simple event.

Assuming a certain threshold of fundraising is met Mitch and I will dress up and run as Anna and Elsa (From Frozen…but you knew that) during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend if people donated money.

After the fundraising goals are met, we will be dressed in full costumes that are being designed including a matching tutu or skirt. But who could forget complimenting makeup and a full wig to ensure authenticity…jeesh.

Donate money today and see us run around Walt Disney World in full regalia.  You never know what surprises may be in store.

What are the minimum donations for the two of us to run?

  • At the $500 total donation level, we will run the 5K in full costume.
  • At the $700 total donation level, we will run the 10K in full costume.
  • At the $1000 total donation level, we will run the Half Marathon in full costume.

When does the race take place?

  • Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is January 8-11, 2015

How do you know we ran in costume?”

  • Pictures will be taken along the way and posts on all of our social media including a Go-Pro video of the race!

Do you get a tax receipt?

  • Yes, 100% of your donation will be tax deductible and a receipt will come from DAWS.  

Upping the Ante: …but wait, there’s more…

If we raise $2000 in total donations, I have reluctantly agreed to shave my legs for the event…how do I get myself into these things? I keep remembering it’s all for a good cause.

Wait, it gets better!  Again at the same $2000 total donation level, Mitch will shave his head! No joke, we have video of him saying he would and you can see it here on my Facebook page!

Something for YOU the donor!

For every $25 you donate, you will be entered into a drawing for a free pair of new running shoes.  Donations must be made by November 30, 2014.  The drawing will be held on December 1, 2014.  Emails will be sent out to receive information on Brand, Style, Size, and Shipping Address.  Brooks, Asics, Nike, Saucony, and New Balance are all available.

I didn’t realize training for Dopey would make me so…well, you know.  Uh, happy to help out a good cause!

Happy Training!

Brian

Don’t Stay Thirsty My friends!

Remember to stay hydrated out there when the humidity and temperature are high! I wore two hydration belts today on my long run so I could bring an extra 12 ounces with me. Drink at regular intervals (mile markers are easy) so you keep your hydration in check. It’s a good idea to weigh yourself before and after runs so you know how much water weight you’ve lost. You will weigh less after a run. Don’t let this fool you into thinking this is all an actual loss of body fat / weight…you need to replenish those fluids lost on the run.

Hot Day
The dog days of summer have arrived and they are barking mad!!

During my long run today my weight dropped 3.4 pounds on the run. That was with drinking at regular intervals and downing 28 ounces of water total across 10.23 miles. I felt good afterwards and when I got home I had my protein recovery shake and continued to sip water as I recovered.

I also slowed my pace on this run as I knew I shouldn’t try to maintain my usual pace and wouldn’t be able to regardless with today’s conditions of high heat and humidity.  So today I went out, got the mileage and enjoyed the run.

Happy Training!

Brian

I’m a Streaker!

Recently, I decided to start a run streak. If you’ve not heard of this phenomena then let me fill you in on the challenge.  A run streak is when you run every day rain or shine…or snow or ice…or hurricane for that matter as long as you do at a minimum a continuous 1 mile run. I was contemplating as to when I should publish a blog about my run streak because let’s face it, proclaiming from the mountain tops that you have a run streak of 3, 5, or even 14 days long is not really all that impressive. Therefore, from the mountain top of my recliner where I presently perch I am happy to proclaim that I have so far accomplished a run streak of 78 days! I have ran every day since May 29th for at least 1 mile, but usually more. Today was my 78th

My most active run week so far has been the week of June 16th covering 61 miles. June as a whole was fairly productive as I ran 170 miles and then followed up with a 130 miles in July. August is promising to be a heavy mileage month as it is just August 15th and I have already covered 90 miles!

I have no delusions of grandeur as I am fully aware that many runners put in a LOT more miles than this on a weekly basis, but I must say I have enjoyed running more and I have also gained a considerable amount of speed from all the extra miles. To put it the way the old cereal commercial did, “Mikey likes it!” My body is responding well and adapting to the increased mileage. Considering I am also following the Insanity DVD series while I do this run streak I can say that my body has never felt stronger or more fit!

Why do a run streak on top of Insanity training?  Well, as you know I am training for the Dopey Challenge this coming January. What better way to prepare myself for the challenge of running 48.6 miles across four days than to run every day up until, throughout and after the runDisney’s Marathon Weekend!

I’ve ran Goofy twice (once unofficial) and both times I felt okay afterwards with minimal recovery, but this year I want to run through the parks with ease and be able to have a good time after the marathon without a noticeable limp!

Why else?  I’ve been playing with low mileage training plans for a few years and they have served me well to build a base, however, I have noticed that I’ve stopped improving on speed and endurance. I am interested in running a single day ultra and have tried to make the jump to a longer distance race, but have found that it’s difficult to run a low mileage program and continue training by piling all my miles into my weekly long run. Plus, thru continued reading of research I have found that the usual weekly long run that many plans prescribe may not be the best way to go about training for any distance. So, thru this run streak I’ve decided to run more often and up my midweek mileage runs. The run streak just fits…and it’s a lot of fun too!

Anyway, I hope you have the opportunity to see me streaking thru your neighborhood or on a nearby race course!

Happy Streaking!

Brian

Running in your Dreams

Do you ever dream that you’re running? Not like, “AAAHHHH!!!! THE BEAR IS GOING TO EAT ME!!” …running, but dreaming that you are on a great run. Not just a great run, but the best run of your life! On this run your lungs are feeling great with nary a burn. Your legs feel like you could run until dawn. Your energy level is so high that your only thought is to see what’s over that next rise. It is without a doubt THE best run that you’ve ever ran. It. Is. Perfect.

Screenshot 2014-06-08 10.56.03

Goodbye dream, goodbye sleep, goodbye nice warm bed as it is time to hit the floor! EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, STUPID ALARM CLOCK!! (snooze)….. 7 minutes of wonderful snooze…who decided that a snooze is 7 minutes long anyway…I mean 7 minutes? seriously?…..doesn’t matter….ahhhh, it cannot get better…this bed is the best bed since beds were invented as it is mine and it is warm and it is comfy and this would be a horrible run on sentence if i were not  sleeping right this very…EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH…STUPID ALARM CLOCK! Who the hades has me running at 5am!?!?!?!?…stupid bad man! Ok ok ok ok…i’m awake…why did I stay up for the Project Runway Marathon on Lifetime…??

Sleep is important. Sleep to the average non-athlete is important. Sleep to someone who lives an active lifestyle or who is training for an event like a marathon, Ironman or other feat of endurance is even more important.  Here’s why:

1. Sleep curbs inflammation. Research indicates that people who get six or fewer hours of sleep each night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.  Your body needs time to reduce inflammation from your daily activities as well as from the bouts of exercise you put it through.

2. Sleep improves performance. A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more endurance.  The results of this study further support previous research seen in tennis players and swimmers.

3. Sleep assists in weight loss / maintenance. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.)  Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite the study reports.

4. Sleep helps with water reabsorption. During sleep, the kidney balances water, sodium and other electrolytes. Without enough water the kidneys can’t balance electrolytes properly. So make sure you’re well hydrated so this very important can happen during sleep!

5. Sleep is when you build / rebuild the brick house. Please excuse our mess while we make improvements for your future enjoyment. You go out for a long run, you take an hour and destroy it in the weight room, you tear it up on hill repeats, you run a PR. All of these tear you down and you need time to make repairs. Sleep is when you do this.

6. Sleep keeps you sane. In fact it is crucial to sanity. It seems that while you are busy doing your day job, your brain actually works nights and has quite a bit to get done while you are unconscious. Yes, running keeps us sane too, but sleep, it turns out is more important still!

So, it’s obvious that sleep is important, but how much do you need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Okay, 7-9 hours of sleep. Are you getting enough? This is if you are NOT an athlete.

If you ARE an athlete in training, that may not be enough. Now, just because you don’t consider yourself an athlete doesn’t mean you are not. If you are training to do a marathon, 5K, half marathon, Ironman, 10K, triathlon, duathlon or just go to the gym several days a week to stay fit, maintain or lose weight or play racquet ball with your best friend then guess what?  …you’re an athlete.

“Just as athletes need more calories than most people when they’re in training, they need more sleep, too,” says Dr. David Geier, MD, director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. All the stress and grueling practices require more time to recover. Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, recommends that an athlete in training should sleep about an hour extra per night.

That’s eight to ten hours of sleep each night especially for those big training sessions like weekly long runs.

I know it’s difficult. Kids, work, homework, PTA, volunteering, family time, church, date night, chores, house work, social life, gardening, band practice, t-ball, alone time, vacation, bake sale AND you are also training to run the Dopey Challenge.

So, maybe don’t go for the 100% win of 10 hours of sleep each night. Maybe instead, track your sleep for the next 14 days and see where you are in regards to the amount of sleep you get. Next, if you’re under the minimum then try to get an extra 30 minutes each night of the week and maybe an extra hour the nights before and after your long run. It may not be what the doctor ordered, but it’s a step in the right direction!

Now excuse me please, I need to get to sleep!

Happy training and sweet dreams!

Brian

Numbers STILL Don’t Lie

Back in December 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Numbers Don’t Lie.” At the time I tracked my nutritional intake and training output on an excel spreadsheet. I was a year into training for my first marathon that would take place just three weeks later at Walt Disney World. Now days there are a plethora of different websites and technology to help people keep track of their caloric intake as well as their physical activities.

Today, I’ve left Microsoft Excel spreadsheets behind in lieu of my Fitbit. I own a Fitbit One and enjoy logging all of my calories and physical activities throughout the day. I can keep an eye on my calories in versus calories out throughout the day and at any given time have a snapshot of where I am in my daily fitness journey. It’s a very helpful tool and it keeps me honest. Why? Because numbers don’t lie. If I choose to not log a snack I am just cheating myself and skewing my numbers. If I want to know why I’m gaining, maintaining or losing weight then it’s easy just to look at the numbers and know whether or not I need to make an adjustment or stay the course.

Looking at the numbers takes a lot of the variance out of the thought process. I have had people swear to me that they barely eat anything and cannot lose weight. It’s becoming more common knowledge that if you use more calories than you eat then you will lose weight.  What many people fail to consider is the damage of one or two meals each week. In the past I have enjoyed a “cheat meal” as a reward. What I didn’t realize is that I could offset all of my efforts with that one meal if I weren’t careful. Having a cheat meal is okay, but I still needed to pay attention to serving size. If my cheat meal accounts for 2-3 thousand calories or more then I very well could have worked out the entire week just to have that one meal and NOT lose any weight. Of course this is assuming weight loss is the goal.  This includes even running a marathon.

Imagine going to a cookout and indulging after a hard fought 26.2 mile run (marathon distance).  You have some major hunger so you have a burger with chips, potato salad, a coke and maybe even throw back a couple beers. Later on you decide a hotdog looks good…after all you EARNED it across those 26.2 miles, right? You also have dessert and maybe another beer if you are so inclined.  A couple cookies make their way to your plate as you hash the day’s running event with your friends and family reciting paces per mile and the number of gels you took in along the way. Before you know it the afternoon is gone and you stick around for Round 2 of eats and treats! After all is said and done you begin to add up the caloric intake and come to realize that while you may have burned ~4,000 calories during the marathon that you ingested in excess of 4,000 calories for the day.

Screenshot 2014-06-01 10.46.02
Even after a marathon effort you can still take in more calories than you burned for the day!

Now, you know me and if you’ve read my other blog posts I adamantly defend the right to enjoy a good cookout!  Plan it into your training schedule, please! However, we still need to take into consideration portion size. Have a beer…heck have two or three! Have a burger! Have a slice of pie! But, keep track along the way as you don’t want to negate all of your efforts. I want you to understand that while running is a great calorie burning exercise running is NOT an open ticket to eat anything you want as much as you want.

Also, don’t go in the entire opposite direction. After a marathon (or any a long run) you need to take in calories for recovery and taking in extra protein afterwards is a good practice in my experience. Again, focus on proper portion size…not too much and not too little.

One more thing, I know I used the marathon distance as an example and I know that many would say that the marathon isn’t about weight loss.  I agree, I was just using the ultimate distance many runners aspire to as the extreme example to prove my point.  Even running 26.2 miles you still can’t outrun your fork. Even going the marathon distance doesn’t mean you can or should eat everything in sight afterwards. As they say, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

Happy Training

Brian

An Apology to My Knees….from a Runner

I realized the other day that I have yet to sufficiently apologize to my knees. No, that’s not autocorrect from “niece”…she’s good. I’m talking about the two joints that every runner loves there in the middle of our legs.

If you follow my story then you know that in late 2009 I took up the activity of running. It’ll be my 5-year running anniversary this December. I’ve put thousands of miles on my knees while running. I’ve ran 44 races to date and I’m adding two more this month alone! It is time. It is time I apologized. My knees deserve an apology at this point. They’ve been waiting a long time. So here it is. The moment my knees have been waiting for since longer than I care to admit.

Dear Knees,

I am sorry I waited until I was 33 years old to start running. It wasn’t fair to you, both of you, to keep you weak for that long while also forcing you to carry my fat ass around all day. I know I could have made you stronger a lot sooner by taking up running sooner, but I was scared. I know, that’s no excuse. What the hell did I have to be scared of anyway? I was also ignorant. I’ll admit it you don’t have to agree so quickly…jerks. Ok, sorry, this IS an apology after all. I was ignorant and wanted to blame anything for my aches and pains, your aches and pains rather than my inability to get off the couch. I just “didn’t have the time,” remember?

I understand now that running has been the best gift I could have given you to make you stronger, ache less, and feel better all day especially on those days when we are on our feet all day. Oh, by the way, send my best to our feet…you live closer after all.

To wrap this up tell your ligaments, tendons and surrounding muscular structure not to worry. I will continue running well into my 70s and 80s.  I may slow down, but I will not allow sitting around to weaken you to the point where I blame daily activities for a weakened state and the aches and pains of being lazy like I did for too long.

One last thing, shorts weather is coming so look alive down there!

Your friend,
Brian

Triathlon Training

Today is Day 3 of a 20 week full Ironman triathlon training program that I am doing to prepare myself for the 70.3 REV3 triathlon in which I will participate on September 7th. Why a full training program for a half event? Well, as you know I am not the best swimmer and am still meeting with a coach who I have dubbed “The Minnow” on a weekly basis.  I may even extend the coaching sessions another 10 weeks just so I have someone pushing me through the summer.

I am doing the 20 week program so I will be more than prepared (doubly prepared actually) to jump into lake Erie in September and swim for 1.2 miles.  Because if you are running and you get tired then you walk, if you are riding and you get tired then you coast, but if you are swimming in the middle of lake Erie and get tired then you drown…I don’t want to drown!

So far I love the Ironman training.  Monday was a rest day followed by a bike and swim Tuesday morning.  This morning I was technically supposed to do a swim followed by a 40 minute easy ride, but the pool heater at LA Fitness is broken so I’ll just sub in my swim coach session tonight in lieu of a morning swim in the ice water. Friday is an interval run day (albeit an easier one as I have a half marathon this weekend too).  The weekends will see endurance rides and endurance runs with some other type of  exercise following to work on transitions.  This Sunday is supposed to be a 6 mile run followed by a 1000 yard swim.  Sunday is the day after my half marathon so it’ll be a recovery run for me….and then a 1000 yard “recovery” swim.

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