Home Run Challenge 2.0

10.20.2018 This year has been the first in twelve, that I’ve really stepped out and pushed myself to accomplish more challenging runs.

Beginning in January, I started re-developing a solid training base for an eventual marathon. That marathon was run in July was my seventh since 2007.

My plan, as I continue forward, is to run progressively longer and more involved challenges. The first hurdle, was to run a solo, self-supported non-event marathon. I did that out at a local park a few months ago.

Next up, was another marathon distance run out and back from my home three times less than three weeks ago.

Yesterday was significant because I ran 26.2 miles solo, and self-supported, and point to point. I met a neighbor and coworker just down the street and he gave me a ride to the start of my run. Coincidentally, my place of employment is exactly 26 miles from home. Convenient. I drove the route a couple times scouting for shoulder conditions and to see how many places there were to stop to make purchases. Fortunately, and as planned, I didn’t need to stop anywhere.

My last marathon was on October first, with twenty two additional training miles in between. In retrospect, I should have tapered longer to give myself fresher legs. It was a very challenging last five miles.

The gear I took along weighed just at ten pounds with the majority of the weight being from the nearly one gallon of Gatorade, and the hydration backpack and twin bottle carriers themselves. Additional weight consisted of twelve Nature Valley bars, 14 Slim Jim’s, four oranges, four Gatorade energy chews, and some mustard packets.

I began my run just before sunrise and wore my red flashing LED headlight for another hour after daybreak to increase my visibility. The first three or four miles had a rather narrow shoulder and involved stepping into the tall grass frequently to avoid the many morning commuters. The rest of the run was on a gravel shoulder with occasional concrete sidewalk and pavement.

The total run was just over six and a half hours. Given my normal leisurely pace, I think the time was respectable given the extra weight I carried and the general incline the entire route. The Strava app I used kept track of miles and terrain well, but I did manage to somehow pause the app and lost about three miles of run data.

I listened to my own music library, as well as NPR’s Fresh Air and All Songs Considered for the bulk of the run, and then switched to YouTube for saved songs for the last hour and a half. Just a word of note, I’m much more mindful to keep the volume lower than would normally be comfortable. Over the hours, the ears and mind can be easily fatigued from the constant bombardment of noise. Typically, I like to listen to spoken audio to pass the hours, and music when I need a boost of energy. The best of both worlds here are one of my favorite podcasts, The Hawaiian Concert Guide. I’ve been a longtime fan of Polynesian culture and find their music very peaceful and cathartic. The two hour podcast is an easy and enjoyable way to pass the time.

Over the miles, my pace did slow as expected as I fatigued and took more walk breaks. To the best of my recollection, I didn’t stop to walk until around mile 18. Upon returning home, my legs and feet were pretty sore. I usually finish up tired, but not often sore. I attribute it to the hills, extra weight, overall distance, and only eighteen days between marathons. I remembered to trim my toenails before beginning. A sharp edge can easily cause some pain with the 50,000 or so foot strikes. Unfortunately, I must have missed a sharp edge, because I bloodied a toe and didn’t realize it until I removed my socks. The pain had been there all along; I just didn’t recognize what it was.

At seven AM the next morning, I’m sore, as expected, but could still loosen up and go run another ten if I needed to, but will exercise good judgment and recover fully. My next challenge has yet to be planned. With a 100 miler on the horizon, I think a 50K or two should be next. My pacing and training have always been extremely conservative. I could probably push harder, but I like to play the long game and and mental confidence is critically important when it comes to being out on the road or trail for that many hours.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll subscribe to keep up with all the new developments. Please let me know if there’s any way I can hep you live your own great adventure. Have a great day!

Patrick

 

 

 

 

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Tapering

I’m now officially under one week until my first solo, self-supported, point-to-point marathon! Stay tuned for more information to come!

Recovery Week

08.17.2018 After having completed my first solo, self supported marathon on the second day of my vacation, my intention was to get a couple recovery runs in before heading back to work. Well, work resumes in the morning, and I haven’t run so much as the first step – and I’m fine with that. Nine days off proved to be relaxing and productive. I got several projects taken care of around the house, but I also drank a lot of coffee and watched more television than I have in a very long time. Don’t get me wrong. I tend to push myself nearly every day only stopping when my body threatens to quit on me. My next running challenge isn’t for another nine weeks so I have more than enough time to fully recover and build back up before running my next point to point solo self supported marathon. Two interesting points to note. First, I have really enjoyed Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. I’m not one to binge watch very much, and for practical reasons, time simply won’t allow.  I watched several episodes back to back and on back to back days. It’s quite well done. You should check it out if you have the chance. Secondly, with my imagination free to run this week, I’ve looked very closely at running the perimeter of Manhattan Island. It’s approximately 37 miles. I’m confident I could do it, but right now, it’s most important to stay focused on financial priorities and not spend several hundred dollars on what is essentially a selfish endeavor. If you know much about my life, I typically end up with what I want, but typically wait a l-o-n-g time to get it (e.g. the ’95 Corvette I had wanted for from ’97 to 2017). In the meantime, I’ll take my own advice and start with what I have and go from there. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support. Have a great day!

Choccolocco Challenge

08/10/2018 Today was the first time for several things. It was the longest training run I’ve ever run. It was my first solo, self-supported marathon. Technically, at 27.5 miles, it was my first solo, self-supported ultra too. Technically. As a continue working on these personal running challenges, I like to be able to set the schedule and more so the pace. I’ve never been a fast runner. My best marathon was 4:09. I’ve only gotten slower since then, and I’m OK with that. Many would shudder at the thought of a super-ten minute mile pace. I don’t mind a challenge – obviously, but I take any kind of extra pressure off by choosing not to push myself even harder for a time goal. “Race never, Run forever”. (I think I just made that up!)

So the day started at 04:00. I was up, ate a little and stretched some. I don’t usually do more than light warm up, but my back had actually been bothering me. It was better then, but didn’t want to risk an unnecessary injury. I packed two coolers. One had food, and the other my hydration. Chccolocco Park, here in Oxford, AL, has a loop that goes around a man-made lake, and another loop segment that follows Choccolocco Creek. Combining the two gives me a distance of 1.7 miles. Knowing that I was likely to lose count of my 16 laps, I put 16 rubber bands around three of my fingers and removed one after each lap.

It was nice having my own fully stocked aid station every 20 minutes or so.I had been collecting things that I knew I would likely want. Smarties, PB & honey, and orange slices were my most preferred. What surprised me is how much I craved the Slim Jims I packed on the spur of the moment. It must have been the sodium, but I’ll most definitely be including these in the future. The granola bars and mini muffins didn’t appeal to me at all. As for hydration, I downed just over a gallon of Gatorade and Body Armor. It was in the high 80’s and humid.

As I plan longer, solo, self-supported, point to point runs, I’m really going to have to carefully plan hydration. I ordered a new hydration backpack from Teton Sports. (I quite literally wore out my last one). It has a 2L capacity. I have two other bladders I can bring, but that’s just added weight. In reality, I will need to scout out locations where I can purchase and refill my spots drink, but that narrative is for another time.

Having just run a marathon a months ago, the miles run between then and now have been minimal. I decided a more full recovery and taper were better than cramming in more miles. I felt strong and ran the first 15 miles like any other run. The course is flat and scenic. As the morning wore on I started to feel fatigue in my legs but kept the same pace. The last seven miles (over twenty) were tough mentally. I had been listening to music and podcasts, but just got a little bored, and was ready to be done. Anyone with experience will tell you that endurance running is all won or lost in your mind. On the next to last lap, I pulled out my GoPro and filmed some clips for a race review video at a walking pace. On the final lap, I lugged my two coolers out. The picnic tables I set up on were under some trees, but also nearly a mile from the car. Call it plodding if you want, but lugging those two coolers that last mile out, were hot and slow.

Normally, I’d feel a strong sense of accomplishment, but the fatigue seems to mask much of it. Half a mile down the road, I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and bought a large frozen coffee. That was exactly what I needed. The load of sugar made me more alert to the fact that I was giving myself an ice cream headache every thirty seconds or so.

(8/11) As I write this follow up the next morning, my legs are very sore – more sore than I can remember them being in a long time. Maybe it was the distance. Maybe it was porting 25 lbs of supplies nearly 2 miles. Either way, I’m already planning the next challenge. Tentatively, I’ll run another marathon in October. In all likelihood, I’ll have my wife drop me off 26.2 miles from home and I’ll run the “Home Run Challenge”.

If you’d like to see the race review video when it’s available, be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

…and until I talk to you again, I hope you have a great day!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbSE21EKSTlcgsdifL2R3AQ/videos

 

 

The Art of Running in the Rain

08.01.2018 Today was the first time I’ve left the house in the rain, to run in the rain, knowing that it was going to rain the whole time. What started as light sprinkles soon turned to light showers, and stayed that way for the duration of my eight mile run. I brought, and used a poncho. It was the same unopened poncho I had found on the side of the road – ironically – just minutes after being caught in a heavy downpour several weeks ago. It worked well and kept me dry, especially my iPhone and Bluetooth headset. However, upon returning home and some reflection, I think I will just run in my normal raincoat whenever I know it’s going to be wet.

This is very much a season of firsts. With seven marathons now behind me, I’m no longer a novice. However, I’ve set my sites on bigger challenges and look forward to my first ever 26.2 miles training run just one week from tomorrow.

Pushing Forward

07.16.2018 With my marathon just eight days behind me, I decided to go out for another long run, 16 miles to be exact. Normally, I’d take a good two weeks to fully recover and then start building back up to distances like that. In addition to the distance, I added a slightly more challenging element to the run. Normally, I run out and back, and for distances longer than ten miles, I’ll do a double out and back from my own front door. Today, I geared up with a hydration vest and my twin bottle hydration waist pack and ran 5.7 miles to Choccolocco Park, three times around the lake and then home for the sixteen mile total. I brought 3-liters of Gatorade, three Nature Valley bars and two Gatorade energy chews. There was a restroom at the park. As I prepare for longer self supported challenges, this kind of training will prove invaluable. In other news, I finished editing my marathon race report, bundled it into an episode of my Runway, and you can watch it here:

RUNWAY Ep.111 Burn Your Half Off Race Report

Race Report

07.09.2018 Well, I’m glad I was up and out the door early. I thought for sure Chattanooga was in the Central Time Zone. It is not, and instead of getting there with and hour and 20 minutes to spare, I pulled up, got my bib number and started running shortly after. It was actually pretty ideal. Like I wrote yesterday, I knew I was better trained and better prepared for this race than any other previously, so there was no nervousness, but still, I didn’t sleep great. I was up every hour and a half or so, and finally woke up at 2:30. The Burn Your Half Off had 5K, 10K, half and full marathon, and 50K options. The course ran alongside the Tennessee River, and consisted of two out and back loops each about 1.5 miles out in each direction. This meant the centralized aid station was every 3 miles. The race director is an ultra runner herself and did a great job keeping morale and food up. There was a big spread and I found myself hitting the liquids hard with several energy gels and miscellaneous high calorie snack foods. At my request, there were even Smarties! The best, THE. BEST. thing was the shots of pickle juice. Turn your nose up if you will, but when you’re running a marathon in 85 degree weather, you’re sweating pretty hard and your body needs the salt. The weather certainly could have been hotter, but it was partly cloudy all day with a nice breeze most of the time. It was as ideal as it could be for a Summer race in the South.

I’ve been running for over 12 years, and at this point in my life, it is all about the fun and the challenge of whatever I’m running. I do not run for time or speed, and I certainly do not compete. The Burn Your Half Off is so laid back, you actually keep track of your own miles. When I finished, I actually forgot to check the time, but think I finished somewhere around 5 hours and 30 minutes. This may be my slowest marathon, but again, I run for fun, not for speed. After the two and a half hour drive home, getting out of the car was a struggle, but within 20 minutes, I felt good, and could have gone back out and run 10 more miles. That was surprising, and also a testament to the thoroughness of my training. Even this morning, the day after, I’m a little sore, but feel good. I’m going to spend a few more days recovering, but start will start building up again for Challenge 2. I will run a 26.2 mile training run. This will be the first time I have run that distance outside of an actual event. Thanks for reading. Have a great day, and go live your own great adventure!

Challenge: 1 Marathon

07.08.2018 it’s 2:50 AM and I am up early getting ready to run my marathon. It is the Burn Your Half Off (double half) in Chattanooga, TN. This will be my fifth marathon (seventh if you count the 50K and 40M), and I am better prepared for it than any before it. I have also carbo loaded more thoroughly, so I’m interested to see what kind of difference that makes. It’s about a 2:20 drive from my home here in Oxford, AL, so I should be done and back by mid afternoon. I’m not going for speed. I’m going for fun…That sounds like a new tag line. I’ll have to remember that one.

Will It Float

06.25.2018 This week a co-worker told me about about a cardboard boat regalia coming up in about a month. After giving it a little thought, I’ve decided to give it a go. I started collecting boxes at work and have a general idea of how it will work (functionally), and look aesthetically. Stay tuned for updates!

Neither Rain Nor Dark Of Night

06.24.2018 After close to thirteen years of running, I’ve successfully conquered two running conditions I had until late, avoided at all costs. Running in the dark, (read early morning), became a necessity as my longer training runs required me to be finished by mid-morning. I solved that with a very good headlamp i bought on clearance from Best Buy for $5. It’s got a high and low beams and a steady or flashing red strobe. I use the flashing LED’s and it’s amazing how vehicles will move over when that’s all they can see coming at them. The other condition is rain. Having ruined a iPod several years ago, I’ve avoided running in the rain to preserve my technology, but also to avoid the discomfort. Now, the other morning, I rolled the dice and went out for five miles knowing there was a storm front moving in. Sure enough, I got caught in it. The two Ziploc sandwich bags did a good job protecting my phone, and my Bluetooth headphones are water resistant. Knowing that I wasn’t going to have to replace either of them, I ran in the rain, and enjoyed it. From here on out, as long as the temperature is agreeable, I won’t avoid the rain. However, I did step up my tech-protection. A few years ago, I bought a thick plastic, triple sealing Travelocity brand cell phone carrier. It’s 100% waterproof and is far superior to plastic sandwich bags, and, it too, was bought on clearance – apparently for such a time as this.