Monday, August 29, 2011

Outrunning the Hurricane

Nathan HPL #020 2.0 Liter Men's 2-Liter Hydration Race Vest (Flint Grey)That's probably a bit over-dramatic, but it is technically true.  Saturday morning, as usual, our training program met for our weekly long runs.  What seemed like ideal conditions (cloudy and 70) was not quite as advertised as it appeared on my phone at 5 am before I stepped outside.  It turns out that when an impending hurricane is only a couple of hours away from hitting, the humidity levels tend to be pretty high.  Shocker, huh?  Well, suffice it to say, within steps of running, everyone was soaked.  Luckily, I brought my trusty hydration vest with me, knowing that I'd at least be out there for a fair amount of time to warrant bringing along hydration. The thing works like a charm, but that's a post for another day.

I ended up running for just over an hour (yahoo!!!), which got me 7+ miles and a new time/distance record since the injury.  This week has been a bit more normal feeling from a training standpoint, because my stats are somewhere in the realm of "normal" for me.  I ended up with 5 runs and about 28 miles, which is the most I've put up since marathon training (albeit at slower paces now).  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

But back to my point of the post - we had a number of marathon runners who were going 16-20 miles this week and the big question mark on the day was whether or not they'd be able to get in the miles before the storm hit.  I'm proud to say that despite the 100% humidity, which forced several runners to stop at 7-11s to pick up extra hydration in addition to what they already brought, everyone made it back safely before the rain started.  And just as I was pulling away from the store, thus began the next 24 hours of constant rain, wind, and nastiness.

Though it wasn't from the rain, we all returned from our runs (no matter the distance) looking like we had just ran through a hurricane.  I'm pretty sure everyone spent Saturday evening by kicking back with a cold glass of some type of beverage and their legs elevated while the storm did its thing, knowing that the hardest part was over...all they had to do for the rest of the weekend is wait out a hurricane...what's a hurricane when you've logged 20 miles anyways....  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Weekend Away

This is going to be a short post (for a change), since things have been incredibly busy lately, if you haven't noticed from the lack of consistent posting around these parts.  I'm sure I'll be back to posting more frequently, but in the meantime, bear with me!

This past weekend Rebecca, Tucker, and I headed up to NYC for a wedding....well...Tucker wasn't actually invited, but we brought him anyways since we were staying with my sister.  En route and while we were there, we managed to have some fun times.  See these 2 photos below for some evidence:
While driving up, we managed to find ourselves only 10 cars back from where traffic was stopped literally for 30 minutes, while the 9-11 motorcycle ride decided to leave from their lunch break on their way up to NYC.  It was kind of hot sitting around for a while, so we shut the car off on I-95 and posed for a nice family picture.  We were annoyed at first, but since we got a nice photo and story to tell out of it, we decided it was (almost) worth it.

Monday morning before we left, we got up and went for a nice jog along the piers in Brooklyn in perfect weather.  I'd joke that it looks like I'm standing against a green screen with a fake background, but that really is Lower Manhattan back there and not Photoshopped!

That's all for now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More on Increasing Flexibility

It should come as no surprise that I am here again writing about flexibility.  I have written about it before here and here, but I am back with some more good info on it.  Only, I just want to mention that when we speak of flexibility, we really mean mobility or range of motion.  Being flexible is good, but it doesn't directly correlate to the functions we carry out when swimming, biking, running, etc.  What does correlate is mobility.  In other words, you want to ensure that you maximize your full range of motion

For example, without full range of motion in your hip (in the adductors, abductors, hip flexors, etc) when running, your body begins to rely on other muscles (quad, lower back, etc) to compensate and do the work the muscles around the hip should be doing, which creates inefficiencies in how your body expends energy and it slowly begins to cause a breakdown in your form as those other muscles get tired from having to support a function they weren't meant to do.  Of course, everyone has their own personal limits on how far that mobility will go, so be sure not to push past YOUR range of motion.  While this will increase over time with practice, the goal is not to force it.

So on to today's resource courtesy of Running Times and Phil Wharton, who you may remember from my previous post, was involved in some of the training I went through to become a running coach.  It is yet another great resource on Active Isolated Flexibility (AIF), formally referred to as Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) - Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Luray Triathlons and General Lees

This weekend was a fun one - we traveled west to one of my favorite race destinations in this area - Luray, VA, to officiate the International and Sprint distance triathlons.  There is just something special about the Luray race weekend that stands out among other races.  After talking to Rebecca about it, we both agreed that it is the town and volunteers (most of whom are local) that truly make it a special experience.  For a relatively smaller race (1200 people between both races), there are tons of volunteers who are all happy to be there and are extremely well organized.  For anyone in the area, I'd highly encourage you to make it part of your race schedule every year.

This year, we lucked out with the weather for the most part.  Saturday was a perfect day for racing with temperatures in the 70s for most of the race.  Late day rain on Saturday that never seemed to let up until 6 am the next day started to pose a threat for Sunday's race, but it stopped just as everyone was arriving at transition.  What it did do, was cool the water down just enough to make it wetsuit legal (77.4F), which many people were happy about.  Oh and I did get to chat for a bit with Audrey before she raced the Sprint.  She may not have seen me during the race because she was in racing hard, but I happened to spot her on the swim (entering the water), out on the bike course, and on the run.  Great job on your race!

Now, this year's race experience was a little different than previous year's in that I wasn't the only one involved in the race.  Rebecca made the trip down with me, but she had a job of her own.  Let's see if you can figure it out from the picture below:
Have you figured it out yet?  If not, click the image to zoom in....anything???  Ok, well, maybe this version will help:

See that person WITHIN the red fencing?  Yep - Rebecca was working as a race photographer!  It was so much fun to be able to work at a race and see her doing something I know she loves to do - document activity.  And while we're talking about documenting things, I know she had her fair share of interesting finish line antics, but I happened to capture one as I was watching some people finish:
Oh yes - a group of 3 guys (only 2 made it down the finishing chute) were dressed as cowboys - 2 plastic guns ablazing and the other was "riding" a horse.

And lastly, some people attending the races this past weekend may have noticed that it was particularly crowded in town.  And more specifically, every hotel seemed to be booked.  Well the races had something to do with it, but not everything.  The "other" event nearby was Dukesfest, held in nearby Sperryville, VA.  Now, when I first heard about this event, I was thinking that I'd see the town covered in General Lees driving all over the place. 

Sadly, we only saw a few...there's always next year...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Man of Many Straps

It seems like the more I get into this dog running stuff, the more weighed down I get.  Don't get me wrong though, nothing is better at taking your mind off actually running while running, than a dog.  While you'd normally be thinking about smooth breathing, landing under your center of mass, quick cadence, etc, I find myself focusing on things like where Tucker is, are there squirrels anywhere nearby that I need to brace for, what about any dogs, or if he is dragging behind or pulling way out front.  All these things take a lot of extra effort, but it seriously makes the time fly by.  Before I know it, my time is up and we're done!

But over the course of figuring out how to run with a dog, I've noticed that I carry a lot more stuff than I used to.  Mostly in the form of straps.  No, not quite like this.  For a normal run without a dog, I'd just head out the door with my Garmin and heart rate strap.  For longer runs or in the heat, I bring some water.  But for dog running, I bring a storage belt to hold my cell phone (just in case of emergency), I have my heart rate strap on, AND we just got a dog running belt, which is pretty cool if I do say so.  It slides around so if Tucker decides to change his position, it generally slides with him.  This is much better than having to move from one side of the trail to the other, depending on where he wants to be.  Instead, I am hands free!  But it does come at a cost - it is yet another piece of equipment I am dragging out the door and the clips are pretty heavy duty, so it adds some extra weight.  Nothing like a little weight training! 

In any case, it makes dog running much easier and more fun for both of us, which is what it's all about anyways, right?

Anyone have any other dog running tips?

Friday, August 5, 2011

As Seen On The Track Last Night

Thursday nights are track nights for our running program, which usually turns out a fair number of our runners.  We also share the track with other runners, as it is held at a public school where the track is open to everyone.  I always enjoy the things I see during this time, because it ranges from normal to wincing and feeling downright pain for some people on the track.  Fortunately, none of those people are in OUR program :)  Let me provide a few examples spread across the spectrum of things I saw last night (from normal to ouch):

Normal - Two older (we politely call them Master's athletes) running 400 repeats.  They are at the track doing a track workout.  Makes sense to me!

Sort of Normal - A couple running laps together on the track.  The reason I don't consider this normal - the track is not one of the first places I'd head to if I were just going to run the same pace for however long I was going to run.  There are a multitude of trails, sidewalks and everything in between to choose from in the area, but the track would not be my choice.  But - to each, their own.

Next to Normal - Lady pushing her jogger stroller on the track.  Again, probably not the first place I'd go, but it is safe from obstacles (except for other crazy runners), so I can see the logic here.  For me though, it was more about the manner in which she was running.  The curves kind of create a challenge for strollers that don't have a front wheel that rotates, so on each curve, I was always curious if inertia was going to take over and cause any issues.  Fortunately, it did not :)

Ouch - Large man running barefoot around the track.  The ouch part isn't so much the barefoot part...but with temperatures in the upper 80s, I'm sure the black rubber track was pretty warm.  But that's not my issue.  My issue was with the aggressive heel striking (and resulting toe slapping) and slow cadence I was witnessing.  Lap number 1 seemed ok.  Lap number 2, he started to have a bit of grimace on his face.  By lap 3, he looked uncomfortable and seemed to cut his lap a bit short.  And then, the barefootin' adventure was over.  Now, I've got no beef with anyone who wants to do some barefootin'.  Try it some time - it's fun!  What I do have beef with, is those that go about it in the completely wrong way.  From what I saw, I think I know his type.  He probably keeps a copy of Born to Run* by his bedside at all times, just so he can relive the excitement of the Tarahumara.

So the lesson learned here is that maybe there are multiple reasons to go to the track.  Sure you can get your workout in, but people watching can be just as fun!

*In all honesty, I enjoyed the book and do keep a copy by my nightstand...of course, that is where I keep all my books. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A New Measure of Progress

I realize these posts are getting kind of boring around here - blah, blah, blah I ran for 5 minutes, blah, blah, blah I ran for 10 minutes.  So sorry if that doesn't satisfy.  For me though, it's about the most exciting thing I have going for me in the endurance world, so it keeps my mind active.  So for today's post about what I did today, I am going to take a different angle.

You see, up until recently, I was measuring progress by how many minutes I was running or whether I crossed the 1 mile threshold.  But not anymore!  I've got a new metric that classifies what I am doing as officially running:

I now run for more time than it takes me to get dressed and ready to run

It's all about the little victories around here and this is certainly one of them.  It always felt kind weird that I'd spend more time getting ready to run than actually running.  But not now.  No more!  Progress...
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