Monday, January 31, 2011

Training Peaks Blows My Mind!

I used to be the triathlete who thought all of the expensive gadgets were a waste of money.  The only electronic device I used was a speed/cadence sensor for my bike.  Even today, I have a hard time justifying the cost of some of the products that are out there, made to enhance your training.  The difference between when I first got into triathlons and today is, I wish I could buy most of those over-priced gadgets.  I still don't know that any of them are 100% necessary, but a lot of them are pretty darn cool.

It all started when my wife bought me a Garmin Forerunner 310xt.  It's a gps watch for triathletes, and until I owned it, I had no idea what I was missing.  To sum up it's use, it is basically like having a coach follow me around during my workouts.  I can set it to let me know when I'm going too fast (like that ever happens!), too slow, if my heart rate is too high or too low,  or a ton of other different notifications.  I'm pretty positive that my training to qualify for Boston would not have been successful without it (or at least gone as smooth as it did).  And that's just the tip of the iceberg!  There's devices that tell you how many steps you are taking and at what rate, how much power you are exerting on the bike, lap counting devices for swimming, devices that you can hook your bike up to and ride virtual courses, and the list goes on and on!

CycleOps Power Meter - Cycling Power Meter
Garmin Foot Pod
Swimming Lap Counter
Computrainer - Bike Trainer with Virtual Courses
No technology here, just a bad, and slightly funny,  crash

And with all of these devices comes the never ending task of interpreting the data that they record.  Since I only use my Garmin watch, my data interpretation is pretty basic.  I have been using Garmin's online site for storing and analyzing, called Garmin Connect.  It wasn't until recently that I decided to give Training Peaks a try.  I've heard a lot about Training Peaks in the past, mainly from various websites.  This past week, I have been in contact with a new website called, and they are going to be using Training Peaks, so I decided to give it a little looksie.  As a side note, I'll explain the whole thing once I'm sure what it's all about...basically they contacted me (and a gazillion other people) about starting this online coaching community, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in doing some coaching...more to come later this week.  As I was saying, I just created an account with Training Peaks.  And, holy crap!  This site is out of control!  I've only signed up for the free version at this point, and the uses are just about unlimited.  The way you can analyze the data is so much more in depth.  And you can keep track of all your food intake, copy and paste workouts, and so much more!  It's just a couple notches above the Garmin website.

I haven't quite figured out how the whole site works, but from the 30 minutes I spent looking around on the site, I'm pretty sure I'm going to start using Training Peaks instead of Garmin Connect.  I definitely recommend it.  If you're looking for a place to track your training and analyze the heck out of it, then you should try it too.

Ah, and I almost forgot.  I found a new way to train for the swimming portion of Ironman Arizona.  It's pretty cutting edge, so I don't want to give away my exact plans.  But, here's a little video that gives a taste of what I'm going to incorporate into my training once the race gets a little closer:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 1 schedule

Week 1 is upon us!  Well, me, I guess.  I'm pretty excited to get back into training for all three sports.  I pretty much neglected biking and swimming during my marathon training, which I shouldn't have done.  However, my wife was thankful for it (or maybe she wasn't, and prefers I be gone training more...).  Anyways, these first few weeks are going to be pretty laid back.  There's set workouts, but if I'm not able to squeeze in a full workout, I'm not gonna stress too much.  Running is the only aspect that I can't skimp on, since I have a 12-person, 200-mile relay in three short weeks!  So without any further delay, here is week 1!
  • Sunday - Run - 12 x 400m @ 1:19 with :90 rest intervals
  • Monday - Swim - 30 minutes of easy Zone 2-3 swimming.  Bike - 45 minutes of Zone 2 spinning, shifting through various gears to simulate rolling hills.
  • Tuesday - Run - 2 miles @ 7:46/mile, 3 miles @ 6:11/mile, 1 mile @ 7:46
  • Wednesday - Swim - 30 minutes of easy Zone 2-3 swimming, including drills.  Bike - 1:00 of Zone 2 spinning, shifting through various gears to simulate rolling hills.
  • Thursday - Run - 8 miles @ 6:49/mile
  • Friday - Swim - 45 minutes of easy Zone 2-3 swimming, followed by 15 minutes of easy spinning on the bike
  • Saturday - 1:30 of easy spinning, including 5 sets of "spin-ups"*, followed immediately by a 30 minute run.
*Spin-ups are done in an easy gear, spinning as fast as you can (without bouncing).  The goal is to gradually build to your max cadence over 1 minute, then stay at your max cadence for as long as possible. When you need a break, recover for at least one minute, then repeat.

I forgot to mention something earlier.  Most of this training is based off of heart rate zones.  If you're going to do any of this training,  go to this website and do one of the tests to find your recommended training zones (also found in Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Training Bible").

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 IMAZ Training Plan!

So here it is.  After hours and hours of work, slaving over numerous books and websites, and reviewing my previous training, I'm finally done!  I've put together a training program, with the swimming and cycling portions mostly based on Joe Friel's two books, "Going Long" and "The Triathlete's Training Bible".  He has many, many other books, but I read too slow to read more than two a year, so maybe I'll consider them next time.  For the running, I'm going to be sticking with my proven training book, "Run Less Run Faster".  It's quite a long plan, going from January 31st to Ironman Arizona, which is on November 20th.  Here's the weekly categorization:
  • Weeks 1-3 - Transition period.  Basically I'll be easing back into working out multiple times a day.
  • Week 4 - I have the Ragnar Relay Del Sol race.  I'll train through this race though, rather than do any tapering.
  • Weeks 5-8 - Prep period.  Again, getting used to working out multiple times a day.  However, now I'll be sticking to my weekly structure more strictly.
  • Weeks 9-12 - Base 1.  This period focuses almost strictly on endurance.
  • Weeks 13-16 - Base 2.  This period adds some speed work.
  • Weeks 17-20 - Base 3.  This period has the same focus as Base 2, but duration is increased.
  • Weeks 21-24 - Build 1.  This period will add some focus to anaerobic endurance.
  • Weeks 25-28 - Build 2.  Same as Build 1, but duration is increased.
  • Weeks 29-30 - Peak. This period contains race specific training.
  • Week 31 - Race.  This week has the Disneyland Half Marathon, where my goal is under 1:34.
  • Week 32 - Transition.  Basically a recovery week after week 31.  
  • Weeks 33-36 - Base 3.  Same as weeks 17-20.
  • Weeks 37-39 - Build 1.  Same as weeks 22, 23, and 24.
  • Weeks 40-41 - Peak.  Same as weeks 29 and 30.
  • Week 42 - Race.  Ironman Arizona!!!  Goal is under 12:00 (and to tell Eric Byrnes "nice job" as I pass him!)
Now to explain all of this just a little further (but not too much, because if I'm getting bored typing, I know you're getting bored reading!), it's basically a bunch of 4-week cycles.  There are 3 weeks where the daily workout times increase gradually, then it backs down for a week, then builds back up for three and backs down for one.  Repeat that about one hundred times, and that's basically the plan.  It's called "periodization" and supposedly is the thing to do, if you're looking for things to do.

The weekly workouts were a bit of a struggle for me to figure out.  Because I have a family, it is best for me to have some sort of set schedule, so they know what training I'm needing to get done each day, rather than having it change on a daily basis.  So trying to come up with a weekly schedule that could stay the same every week, and work with my work schedule (going to work for 24 hours, then being home for 48) was a little tricky.  I needed to have my workouts split in such a way that whether I was going to work in the morning, or coming home, or not working that day, I would be able to get my workout done.  So here's what I came up with:
  • Sunday - Run
  • Monday - Swim and Bike
  • Tuesday - Run
  • Wednesday - Swim and Bike
  • Thursday - Run (long run)
  • Friday - Swim and Bike
  • Saturday - Bike and Run (done as a brick)
And on top of all of this, I'll most likely be riding my bike to work (36 mile round trip) starting in March.  There's going to be days when I have to do my biking on the trainer, and there's going to be days when I have to run on the treadmill.  But, that's just the way it's going to be.  And I know there's no days in there to rest.  All I can say to that is, Sunday and Tuesday are going to be short workouts, and every fourth week is going to be a recovery week.

Wow.  That looks like a lot of training.  And that doesn't even say anything about the actual workouts I'm going to be doing.  I'm not going to list those out, not only because I have no desire to stare at this computer screen for that long, but also because I know nobody is going to sit and read through all of that nonsense!  Instead, I'll do weekly posts about my training.  Similar to my previous blogging, I'll include in each "training post" what I plan on doing in the coming week, as well as a recap of how the previous week's training went.  Which, will start tomorrow.  Woo hoo!  So if anybody feels like training for Ironman Arizona along with me (other than you Eric Byrnes...don't be stealing my training plan!), feel free!  Week 1 will be posted tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eric Byrnes doing Ironman Arizona!

I was reading one of the recent issues of Triathlete Magazine, when I can across an article about the once great Arizona Diamondbacks player Eric Byrnes (I say once simply because after he signed his huge contract extension, he was never the same).  The article was about Eric's newly found love...triathlons.

A few months back I did a race called the Prospector Triathlon.  It was an interesting race on the management side, with it being their first time having the race an all (let's just say the olympic distance swim magically turned into a 2-lap swim because they could figure out how to get the buoys to stay in place, and we started about 30 minutes late!).  Anyways, during the awards ceremony, they announced the winner of the clydesdale category like this, "Eric Byrnes. Byrnesie?  No way."  Sure enough, standing right in front of me was Eric Byrnes.  And he did in fact win the clydesdale category.  When he accepted his most wonderful plaque, he took a moment to explain why he was there.  He basically said that tri's had always interested him, and he got around to doing one a little while before the Prospector's Tri.  Since his first tri, he was hooked.  He also said that he had his sights set on other races, but didn't really say which ones.

Well, this article was the big announcement, I guess.  Sure enough, Eric Byrnes is going to be racing Ironman Arizona this year.  It will be his first Ironman distance race, and I'm sure he is going to do spectacular.  Why?  Here's just a few reasons:
  • 35 years old (which is around the age of most pros)
  • Former professional athlete
  • RETIRED (at 35?! - must be nice!)
  • millionaire
Now I'm not saying that because he's rich that he'll do good.  I'm saying that he basically has the perfect situation to get into racing triathlons.  He has the time, the money, and he has the athleticism.  The only thing that I see as hindering him is his size.  He's not excessively large, but he's always been a pretty built ballplayer.  Maybe with all this endurance training he'll slim down quite a bit.  I bet if he wanted to, he could finish sub-10:00 in his first attempt.

Which brings me to my next my goal for Ironman Arizona going to stay at finishing sub-12 hours, or is my new goal going to be to beat Eric Byrnes?  Maybe I'll just track him down during the race and keep harassing him to give me autographs, which would definitely break him mentally during the race.  It's pretty much like Chris McCormack breaking down his opponents mentally.  Chances are, though, that he'll smoke me, so I should probably just stick with my original goal.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Still waiting

I had to double check and make sure I didn't accidentally disable commenting on my previous blog.  And I didn't.  Which means, I'm still waiting for all of those free coaching offers to start coming in.  I'd appreciate if you contact me before next Monday, which is when I will be starting my self-made training plan.  So, go ahead.  I'm waiting!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why can't a tri coach be free?

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to put together my overall plan for the next triathlon season.  The easy part was picking the races.  All I'm focused on for this year is Ironman Arizona.  And since this is a pretty pricey race (but well worth it in my opinion!), it pretty much eliminates all other non-essential races.  At this point, the only other races I have planned are the Ragnar Relay Del Sol and the Disneyland Half Marathon.  The only way I will be adding any other races is if I am lucky enough to get another sponsorship, like the Team Marathon sponsorship I had last year.  The hard part of the planning is the training.

I've read a fair amount of books over the last few months, trying get a ton of different viewpoints on ways to train.  The Run Less Run Faster book, which I used to qualify for Boston, worked as advertised.  If I could apply this book to the triathlon world, I probably would.  In fact, that's one option I'm looking at.  The tough part of that particular training plan is that it is very intensive, and doesn't really account for any rest, which will almost definitely lead to over-training or injury.  Another book I've read is the Triathlete's Training Bible.  There's a ton of great info in that book.  I'm currently trying to filter through it to see if I can produce an effective plan.

With so many different options out there, it's very hard to know what will work.  I suppose that's why many coach's will tell you that triathlon is a multi-year commitment.  This is in large part because there is such a trial and error effect in the sport.  There's no way to know how your body will act during an Ironman until you do it.  So you learn a little each time and try and make improvements.  

The other hard part is trying to evaluate your training as it is happening to see if you are improving.  And since I will be training just about every day, looking at my daily training results is going to almost have to be a scheduled workout of it's own!

I would love to pay someone to do all the scheduling and analyzing for me, but that's just not realistic, or really even worth it for the level I'm at.  I mean, have you seen how much some of these coaches charge?  This website ranges from $185 to $900 per month!  Maybe if I ever get to the point where I am just on the cusp of qualifying for Kona, then I would maybe sell myself on the streets so I could  have some extra cash flow (I'm assuming I would have some buyers...) and hire a coach.  But until then, I'm accepting offers from anyone who wants to go ahead and coach me for free!  Trust me, it will be well worth your time.  And just imagine how great some volunteering would look on your resume!

And just to express my current feelings about developing my own training plan, I found this wonderful photo:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thanks for the inspirational words!

Looking back on this whole Goofy/Boston thing, it seems pretty crazy.  I signed up for the Goofy Challenge and very, very long time ago.  At that point, I didn't really have any aspirations, other than finishing.  It wasn't until I came across the book "Run Less Run Faster" that I started to think that I could improve my times.  I ended up starting a training program to finish a half-marathon in 1:45 (I think), and ended up finishing in 1:34:04.  That's the moment when I started to think that maybe I could train hard enough to qualify for Boston.

The reason why I thought that I maybe had a chance was this:  when I finished that half marathon way ahead of my estimated time, I had only gotten through half of a training plan.  I knew it was still a long shot, but I thought that if I set my goals pretty high, maybe it would force me to follow through on my training.  The other thing that kept me honest with my training was that I told a couple people about my plan (sort of).  I don't normally tell anybody what I'm hoping to do in a race, just in case I blow up.  But by telling some people about this lofty goal, I felt I had to follow through.

I decided that I'd like to be able to look back on my training so I could see what did and did not work for me, so I started a blog.  Originally, it was on, and I started it when I applied to Team Marathon Bar.  I kept it going when I made the Team, and decided to just keep it going even though my sponsorship season is over.  I moved it here for a few different reasons, but that's another story.  Once I had made the decision to go for Boston, and it was time to start training, I put a post on IAMTRI describing my goals.

Now, I'd like to say at this point that I appreciate when anybody comments on my stuff.  I assume nobody reads my blog, so when I get a comment, I'm very happy.  This comment was a little different though.  It was pretty much the first feedback I received after I put out in the world that I was going to attempt to finish the marathon portion of the Goofy Challenge in under 3:11.  When I first read it, I was still pretty excited about making the decision to attempt a BQ time and also excited because I had just started my training.  So my first reaction was not something I'm going to write down (as it wasn't very nice).  So, now that you are about to burst with anticipation, wondering what could have possibly been said, here it is, word for word:

"Jason, have you run a marathon before? If so, what's your PR? I haven't looked at the qualifying times in a while, but if you are 26, your BQ time is 3:05 from what I remember. A 1:34:04 half-marathon is a great time, but that would probably equate into a 3:15 marathon (factoring in a slower pace for doubling the distance). I've run 3 Boston Marathons (20 marathons total, my PR is 3:19:18 when I was 40), and I honestly think you need to determine if your goal is completing the Goofy Challenge, or qualifying for Boston. I don't honestly think it's feasible to do both in the same weekend unless your regular half-marathon and/or marathon times are significantly faster than what you posted."

So first off, this guy didn't do his research.  All you have to do is go to the Boston Marathon webpage to see that a qualifying time for my age is 3:10:59, not 3:05 as he states.  Secondly, just because you haven't been able to achieve a 3:10:59 marathon doesn't mean that I can't.  Oh, you've run Boston 3 times, and 20 marathons before?  Well that must make you able to predict how hard I'm going to train.  

Now, I understand that this guy was just giving some constructive criticism, and I can appreciate that.  But why did it have to be so negative?  Couldn't he have just said "good luck", or maybe even "that's quite a lofty goal, I hope you are planning on training a lot".  I would definitely have accepted either one of those.  

Anyways, the point of this post is that if you have goals, (and I mean realistic goals; if I had said I was going to try and win the marathon, that would be another story) then go after them.  As you can see, there are going to be people who doubt you.  It just makes it that much sweeter when you can prove them wrong and say, "IN YOUR FACE SUCKA!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lessons Learned from Goofy Challenge (and a Garmin 310xt giveaway!)

I know I am writing a lot about the Goofy Challenge, and I will eventually move on to other things.  It was just a pretty big and exciting weekend, so I'm trying to make sure I don't miss anything.  Today is mainly going to revolve around lessons learned, or things I'm going to try and remember for my future races.  So here it goes.
  • Eat only one plate of spaghetti the night before a race, not two
  • Train like you plan on racing.  I did a back to back run (Friday/Saturday) almost every week for 16 weeks because that is how race weekend was going to be.  And on race day, I went through the same warm up routine that I went through before every single training run.
  • 1 Marathon Energy bar, 1 cinnamon/raisin bagel, and 1 small cup of coffee 3 hours prior to race time is enough for a marathon.
  • For temps in the 50's, a t-shirt is acceptable.  For temps in the 40's, 1 short sleeve shirt and one long sleeve shirt, and ear warmers works great.
  • A mylar blanket plus hand warmers will keep me warm before a race.
  • My nutrition strategy worked great: 1 PowerGel every 4 miles and alternate 1 big sip of water and electrolyte drink at every aid station.
  • Do not lather on the BioFreeze immediately after a marathon, especially if it's already cold out.
  • The Race Retreat Tent at Disney World is worth it, regardless of what others think.
  • Running 3 races in 3 days was an awesome experience, but next time I probably won't try and set any PR's.
  • It's actually hard to eat a lot of food at an all-you-can-eat dinner the night following the marathon.
  • I'm still not the guy who wants to wear his medal all day at the theme park (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not for me).
  • The training plans in the book Run Less Run Faster work phenomenally.
  • If I stick to my training plan, my results are very pleasing.
  • Peeing in the woods, or on the side of the road, is acceptable during marathons.
  • Learn how to run the straightest line better (according to my Garmin, I ran an extra quarter of a mile during the marathon!).
That's all I can think of for now.  If I think of any more, I'll come back to this page and update it.

Tomorrow will be my last post about the Goofy Challenge (I think!).  It's going to include some great words of encouragement that I received from someone who read my old blog on  You're gonna love it!

Oh, and the giveaway!  This guy, Ray Maker, has one of the best triathlon blogs around.  He does very in-depth reviews of just about every piece of technology out there for the sport.  His site has become so popular that he is able to give about a very sought after piece of equipment each month.  This month, the Garmin 310xt (which is exactly what I's so freakin awesome!).  Just go here to enter into the contest, and you could be the proud new owner of a Garmin 310xt!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Random Excitement from the Goofy Challenge Trip

It's been a week since I finished the Goofy Challenge (in my case, the unofficial Dopey Challenge) and I still can't quite believe that I was able to finish the marathon portion in a time that qualified me for the Boston Marathon.  The more I think about it, the more I realize how lucky I am.

With all the stuff that was going on these last couple weeks, I sort of had to set other things aside to focus on remembering all the details of my races.  There were a couple other awesome things that went on during the race and a couple days after the race.  Before I get to those, I got my hands on copy of another view of the finish line.  I'm the one with a white long-sleeved shirt that crosses the line, yells, and puts his hands up. 

One of the awesome things that happened during this trip was that my dad finished the Goofy Challenge as well.  My dad has done plenty of races in the past, including marathons and triathlons.  Unfortunately, he's had a string of bad luck with the last bunch of races he's signed up for.  Without going into too much detail, he's had to drop out of a couple of races for various reasons (including injury and a death in the family), and he's even had a slight medical scare after his most recent race, which was in September of 2010.  Since that September race, he's been in and out of the doctor's office, trying to figure out what was wrong, and he was basically told not to run.  So, as determined as he is, he trained to walk the 39.3 miles of the Goofy Challenge.  

If you ask me, I think that walking the Goofy Challenge is more difficult than running it.  To be out on the race course for such a long time, by yourself, and to continue to stay focused enough to stay on pace for 39.4 miles is crazy!  I am pretty sure that if I was in my dad's situation, I may have been a DNS (Did Not Start).  I saw a shirt during the race which pretty much sums up the way my dad viewed this race, and really the way that every race should be viewed.  It said "DLF > DNF > DNS".  It meant Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which is greater than Did Not Start.  Because getting to the starting line is really the biggest obstacle to overcome, the reward for all the training is the race!  It doesn't matter if you come in first, last, or anywhere in between.  The race is really each participant's celebration of all the hard work they've put in.  

So on that note, I'm very proud of my dad and how much he went through to not only make it through this race, but just to even make it to the starting line.  It's been a while since he's had a successful race.  And even though he didn't set personal time records, this was the first time he'd done anything like the Goofy Challenge, and he finished with plenty of time to spare!  And not only did he finish strong, he stole the show during the final straight-away leading up to the finish line.  Here's how it went down:

And here's a picture of my dad and mom, after my dad finished the marathon:

The rest of the week was pretty phenomenal, but there was one other thing that really stood out.  A couple nights after the races were all over, we went to the Spirit of Aloha luau at Disney's Polynesian Resort.  At one point in the show, the hula girls picked out two guys to come up to the stage and have a little hula dance-off.  Luckily for us, my buddy Justin, who also completed the Goofy Challenge, was selected.  Now, Justin is a very enthusiastic individual, and doesn't get embarrassed very easily, or at all.  He's definitely a joy to be around.  Anyway, Justin was going head to head with some Joe Schmoe from the other side of the luau.  All they had to do was do what the girl in front of them was doing, and do it better than the other guy.  If you watch closely, Justin is doing such a great job, the girl that is leading the other guy is laughing at Justin!  So who do you think won this battle!

 And here is Justin and his wife after Justin finished the marathon:

And Justin sure made an impression.  Him and his wife were in one of the theme parks the next day and Justin was recognized by another family that was at the luau!  They told him that he was by far the highlight of the show (I'm not sure if that is a knock on the show or just some high praise for what was obviously some fantastic dancing).  And I'm not going to say how many adult beverages were consumed before the dance.  Let's just say it was all you care to enjoy, both food and beverage.  Ha!  

I'm not quite sure when the results of this trip are really going to set in.  Maybe some time later in the year, like October, when registration opens for the Boston Marathon.  Or maybe not even until April of 2012, when I'm hopefully running the Boston Marathon.  All I know is that I'm very grateful to even have to opportunity to possibly register!  I have some more stuff about the Goofy Challenge coming in the next day or two.  Mainly some lessons, or tips, that I learned that I want to write down so I don't forget them.  Because if I don't, I most definitely will!

Disney World Marathon Weekend: Mickey's Marathon recap

With Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5k and Donald's Half Marathon done, I had my sights set on the full marathon.  I had spent the last 16 weeks training to finish this race in a time that would qualify me for the Boston Marathon.  For me, that meant finishing any time under 3 hours and 11 minutes (3:10:59 or less).  My previous marathon PR was 4:17:49, so I would be trying to shave off over an hour.  I knew this would be tough, but I felt I had found a pretty good training plan, and followed it almost exactly.

My recovery after the half marathon went pretty much as planned.  We walked around Animal Kingdom for a couple of hours before we headed back to the hotel for dinner.  Again, we were planning on a spaghetti dinner.  I seemed to have over-done it just a bit with dinner for the half marathon, so I held myself to one plate this time.  I think I was asleep by about 8:00 pm.

Just like for the half marathon, I was up at 2:00 am, had my Marathon Energy Bar (only 1 today, to try and avoid the port-a-pottie during the race), cinnamon/raisin bagel and cup of coffee.

And unlike my wife, I always remember my race bib!

The race retreat was even more worth the price of admision before the marathon.  It was quite a bit colder out, I think around 42*F at the time the race started, so sitting in that tent was very, very nice.  As I said in the half marathon recap, I thought I would be getting another special lunch box, but no!  Instead, I got this water bottle:

It's actually a pretty nice water bottle, and has the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge logo on it.  Is it worth the price of the tent?  Probably not.  But like I said, sitting in the warm tent was better than standing in the cold!

And as we did with the half marathon, we had to walk to the start line again.  This time, I brought this little guy to keep me warm...

This is a mylar blanket.  Surprisingly, they keep you warm quite well.  So this blanket, coupled with a pair of hand warmers kept me from being too cold while I was walking to the start line.  Once we got to the starting corrals, I decided to use the bathroom one more time, which I did not do for the half.  This ended up being one of the most pivotal decisions of my race.

As soon as I was done with the bathroom, I had about 10 minutes until race time.  I did a light jog up to corral A, followed by my routine stretch, and had about 2 minutes to stand around and be nervous.  Once those 2 minutes were over, it was game on.

The first 13 miles went almost exactly as planned.  My nutritional plan was to take a small drink at every aid station and eat one Power Gel every 4 miles.  I needed to average a 7:15/mile pace in order to achieve my goal.  My eyes pretty much stayed glued to my Garmin, which I had set to display my current pace and my average per mile pace.  After 13 miles, I knew I was right on track, but I was starting to feel a bit tired.

Once I got to mile 17, I started to have some real doubt on whether or not I could finish in time.  Through mile 17, I ran every mile at, or faster than, my goal pace, so I knew I had some time to spare.  But as I watch my average mile pace get slower and slower, more and more doubt began entering my mind.  I ran mile 18 in 7:30, as well as miles 19-22.  Mile 23, I somehow ran in 7:15.  Mile 24 is where I almost lost it.  It was somewhere around this point that the 3:10 pace-runner passed me with his group of runners.  This was quite a devastating blow.  I tried so hard to keep pace with them, but I almost pushed myself over the top.  I decided to draw back just a little, and aimed to keep them in my sights.  Mile 24 ended up being an 8:02 mile. 

Miles 25 and 26, I don't really know what happened.  I know I was running through Epcot at this point, but I was so focused on trying to stay upright that I was pretty oblivious to everything else that was going on.  Each time I saw a mile marker for the last 3-5 miles, I was trying to do the math in my head to see if I had enough time to finish under 3:11.  Once I got to the mile 25 marker, meaning I had 1.2 miles left, I decided to give it all I had left.  Now, I did have my Garmin, so I knew I was going to be very close on time.  I had set it so that I could push the lap button 27 times, once for each mile and then the last .2 miles would be the last lap.  When I reached mile 26, I accidentally pushed the lap button twice, which ended my workout.  I could no longer see how much time I actually had before I hit my goal. 

All I had was the actual race clock.  I knew my chip time was less than the clock time, but I wasn't sure by how much.  The time on the race clock, when I saw it at the mile 26 marker, said something like 3:08:37.  This put me in a panic, because at the time, I thought that there was no way that I could run .2 miles in a minute and a half.  Well, I didn't realize that I actually had two and a half minutes.  And I'm glad I didn't realize that.  I sprinted my butt off trying to make it to the finish line in time.  Here's a couple of photos, as well as a video of my "sprint" to the finish:

And my official finishing time...drum roll please....3:10:25!  I still can't quite figure out how I did it, but I finished in time to qualify for the Boston Marathon

I said earlier that using the bathroom just before the start of the race was possibly the most important decision I made that morning.  Well, had I not stopped and gone before the race, I almost certainly would have had to use the bathroom during the race.  And since I only qualified for Boston by :35, I may not have qualified.  So, somebody upstairs was definitely looking out for me on race morning!

(That's me on the bottom left with my hands on my head.  I knew right then that I had definitely qualified for Boston because the clock time was under 3:11, and my chip time was some 30 seconds less than that!)

(From left to right, all the hardware I earned.  5k, half marathon, marathon, Goofy Challenge)

 I knew my training would bring me pretty close to my goal time, but I didn't realize I would have been that close.  There's a couple reasons why I think I came so close to the cut-off.  First, the obvious.  I ran a half marathon the day before the marathon, which caused me to fatigue faster than if I had been fresh for the marathon.  My rebuttal is that I trained this way every week.  The other reason is that there is almost no way to run exactly 26.2 miles during an actual race.  Why?  Because race courses are measured at the shortest distance on the course.  The don't have the official measurement take wide corners, or weave around people.  That's all added mileage.  My Garmin says that I ran 26.45 miles, which would put me at a whole quarter mile farther than I needed to go!  Did I actually run that far?  Who knows.  All I know, and all I care, is that I came in under the Boston Qualifying time!

One thing I probably won't do again immediately after a race is put on BioFreeze.  I rubbed this stuff on my legs, thinking it would maybe help my recovery.  It pretty much only made me freeze.  I could not warm up.  At one point, I was sitting in the race retreat tent, wrapped up in a mylar blanket and shivering.  Some lady came up and gave me some warm soup because I must have looked terrible!  I even went an put back on my morning clothes, including a sweatshirt, and couldn't get warm.  Once the BioFreeze wore off, I was fine.  I won't make that mistake twice!

Now that this is over, and before I start focusing on my next goal (finishing under 12 hours at this year's Ironman Arizona), I'm going to look at how much work I put into this race.  I started training specifically for this race on September 20th, 2010.  So this includes all workouts from that date through the marathon.

(This is what I have recorded on my Garmin, so I may have missed one or two workouts...)

Number of runs: 67
Number of miles: 579.47 miles
Amount of time running: 89 hours, 12 minutes, 39 seconds
Number of calories burned: 52,669 calories

Those are some crazy numbers.  I can't even begin to imagine what they are going to look like for the Ironman!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Disney World Marathon Weekend: Donald's Half Marathon recap

The first event in my three-day event had come and gone (you can read about Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5k here), and now I was getting ready for the real meat and potatoes of my weekend.  To get ready, I planned on having a home-cooked spaghetti dinner the night before.  We ate dinner at about 6:00 pm, and I was in bed by about 8:00 pm.  The plan for the morning was to wake up at 2:00 am, and be out to the bus by 2:45 to leave at 3:00.  My parents were both running the half marathon, as well as a my pseudo-training partner and his wife, so I had some company in the morning.

We all had made the decision to pay for what Disney called the "Race Retreat Tent".  Due to the horror stories of 2010's marathon weekend (snow, sleet, hurt feelings, etc.) we decided to pay for the tent so we wouldn't have to worry about those things, whether they happened or not.  The tent opened at 3:00 am, and we could stay in it until whenever we wanted, but there was a 20 minute walk to the start line, and a 5:35 am starting time.  So needless to say, we all wanted to get there early to get our money's worth!  

The tent was actually pretty nice.  It was nice and warm inside, with breakfast and assorted beverages, a small stretching area, some port-a-potties that were only for "race retreat" use, and some Disney characters to take pictures with.  Now, I'm a pretty big fan of how well Disney usually does things.  This tent was not one of those things.  It was nice to be somewhere warm.  The rest of the "amenities" were pretty lame.  They said there would be a special race retreat merchandise section, which ended up including only one type of t-shirt.  The private bathrooms were just sectioned off port-a-potties.  But the lamest part was that the tent was in the farthest possible area from the starting line!  So even though we were paying to stay warm in this tent, we had to walk farther than everyone else that didn't pay!  However, I am glad that I paid for it.  It was extremely nice to be sitting in a warm area from 3-4:45 am and let my morning coffee do it's work, if you know what I mean.  Oh, and as an added bonus, those people who signed up for the Race Retreat were given a small cooler, towel, and first-aid kit:

At first I thought, this stuff is pretty cool.  Then I inspected it a bit.  The cooler is nice enough.  The towel is just some blue towel, no embroidery or anything.  And the first-aid kit is nothing special.  I figured that for the amount of money I paid for this thing, they could have taken the "free gift" a little further.  And then I realized that I had paid for 2 days in the tent, so I was possibly getting 2 coolers, which I thought would be only fair.  But on my second day in the tent, I was surprised with a different gift, which is pretty much just as lame.  I'll save that gift for the next post.

Now on to the race.  For breakfast, I woke up and had 2 Marathon Energy Bars and 1 cinnamon/raisin bagel.  This combo proved very trusty when I ran the Disneyland half marathon back in September, so I decided to go with it again.  Following that, I had a single cup of coffee.  Everything seemed to be going just fine.  

When we walked outside, it actually wasn't too cold.  I think the temperature was around 52*F, which is pretty perfect running conditions.  What helped even more was that we were being herded like a bunch of cow to the starting corrals.  It was pretty warm walking with that huge group of people.  As we started walking, I ended up separating from the others, because I was to be starting in corral A and they were all in various other corrals.  

Once in my corral, I did my routine stretch (and I think I was the only person stretching!) and got ready for the gun to go off.  My plan for this race was to run anywhere between 9:00-10:00/mile pace.  The course was pretty fun, and didn't really have any surprises in the forms of hills or obstacles.  There was actually a fair amount of entertainment on the course.  I didn't really have any nutritional plan for this race, as I was taking it fairly easy.  I found out quickly, however, that I would need to change my morning strategy for the marathon.  Why?  Well, by mile 4, I had to make a "natural" stop (as they call it in the Tour de France)  This was alright today, but tomorrow it could ruin my race.  Besides that short stop, I took a drink at each aid station and ate a Power Gel at mile 9 (or whenever they were handed out).  All in all, it went great.  I finished in a time of 2:03:15, which is nowhere near my PR, but it was a 9:24/mile pace and was exactly what I was aiming for.  Here's a little clip of my finish:

Like I said earlier, I am a pretty big fan of how Disney does things.  Minus some of the lame parts of the Race Retreat tent, Saturday's half marathon was great.  Not only was it really fun for the runners, but I think it was really fun for the spectators.  I mean really, where else can your kids do this while you're off running a half marathon?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dopey/Goofy Challege Race Recaps!!!! First up, the 5k.

Well it's been a little while since I've posted anything.  I got pretty caught up in the new year, and getting my final little bit of training in for the big event.  I'd like to think that I was just extremely focused on the upcoming race, and that's why I didn't do any posts, but that's not completely the case.  Anyways, the race is over, and it was so much fun!  Rather than doing one big summary of the whole weekend, I'll do each race separately.  So here's the 5k recap.

I signed up to run this race mainly because I was doing the Goofy Challenge (a half marathon and marathon on a Saturday/Sunday), and I noticed that there were some people online talking about a "Dopey" challenge.  The "Dopey" consisted of doing the Goofy Challenge, plus the 5k on Friday.  So the weekend would look like this: Friday - 5k, Saturday - half marathon, Sunday - marathon.  It was an unofficial thing, but I figured, if I'm gonna go do this thing, I might as well do it all!  So I signed up, and kinda forced my wife to sign up for the 5k with me.  It was her first 5k, and I think she actually enjoyed it (though she won't tell you that she did!).

The day started off to a bang when we woke up and found out the it was pretty stinkin' cold outside.  We had been watching the weather forecasts, but they were basically changing every hour.  Then once we get to the race site, we found out that my wife had made a little mistake.  Here's a video to explain...

Which explains this picture:

And here's my bib (which I did not forget, I'd like to point out):

It started in the parking lot of Epcot (at Disney World), and sort of went around the parking lot before entering into the park and running around the big lake and exiting the park to the finish line.  I think there was around 5,000 people that did this race.

There were a couple funny moments during the race.  First, both my wife and I didn't get a chance to use the beautiful port-o-lets before the race.  So unfortunately, as soon as the race started, my wife needed to make a pit stop.  The problem was, every bathroom we came to, the other women who were in the same situation were coming out saying, "There's no toilet paper!"  It took us until the 4th stop to finally find a port-o-potty that had the required sanitary wipes.  Second, there were these guys that were dressed like pink flamingos, and were running around trying to make pink flamingo noises.  They had pink tutus and all.  Pretty funny.  Next up were these three little kids that were in full costume.  There were running around like crazy, weaving in and out of everyone.  If you blinked, they were gone.  Here's a short clip of them:

Finally, there was a group of girls that were wearing the exact same outfit as my wife!  Here's a short clip of how I almost lost her in the race...


What are the odds of that!?

So with that, the 5k was over.  And here's a picture of me and the wife holding up our fabulous finisher medals.

Oh, I almost forgot!  My 2 year old daughter ran a race that same day!  She ran a 100m dash!

It was pretty entertaining watching, and running with, all these little kids.  I took video of the whole thing if you wanna watch it.  Never mind the lady at the very end of the video who is yelling about her child.  It is not really a funny story as to why she's yelling, but the way she handled the situation was pretty funny.  So, here's Alli in her 100m race!

Now that's all for Friday's excitement!