Archive for the ‘food’ Category

2013 ING Miami Half Marathon

Travel & Lodge

IMG_20130125_093053My wife and I flew into Miami, Florida on the Friday before the race at approximately mid-day.  We were greeted by a beautiful blue sky filled with popcorn-like, white puffy clouds, and a $40 cab fare from the airport to the hotel.  I booked our hotel several months ago based basically on a single criteria, its proximity to the start-finish line.  Luckily for us, the Holiday Inn Port of Miami was 3 blocks from the start line and 2 blocks from the finish.

My stomach had started feeling a little uneasy the day before our trip but I wasn’t too concerned since I wasn’t suffering from any other symptoms such as headache, fever or sinus issues.  I already had enough on my plate stressing over the recent shin splint appearance, not to mention the normal first-time big race paranoia over training, fitness, and whatever else could theoretically throw a wrench in my plans.

IMG_20130125_134858We arrived too early to check in to our room so we headed across the street to the Bayside Market Place where we decided to have a single, large splurge meal before I had to go on pre-race lock down.  We settled on the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory and while I didn’t necessarily care for the over the top Forrest Gump theme or the lack-luster service, the shrimp scampi was filling and tasty.  We also each enjoyed a Corona-Rita, which is a bottle of Corona beer suspended upside down over a glass partially filled with margarita mixer. If I wasn’t registered to run a half marathon two days later I could have sat right in that chair for the duration of the weekend.

Unfortunately, my stomach’s previous rumblings were not a false alarm and for the next 3 days, no matter what I ate or drank, I would have to make a direct path for the bathroom within 30 minutes or risk public humiliation.

The Expo

I had planned on just relaxing after lunch on Friday and heading over to the Expo on Saturday afternoon so I could catch a talk by Matt Fitzgerald, co-author of one of my favorite books on running.  But as it turned out, the hotel employee who was checking us in was also running the half marathon and we struck up quite the conversation, during which he constantly recommended that we go to the Expo immediately so we could register my wife for the Tropical 5k, scheduled to be run at 7:30 am on Saturday morning.

We took the free shuttle over to the Expo and it was a nicely laid out event with all of the typical and expected vendors hawking their goods and offering free samples of their products. I was adamant about not trying any of the energy gels, shots, gummies, etc so as to avoid any bad reactions, and instead we focused on purchasing a few items of clothing and other memorabilia.

And then it happened! While I was collecting my registration packet my wife told me she was walking over to sign up for the 5k event.  I was excited for her but honestly also slightly concerned about the logistical issues since the race did not start or finish near our hotel.  We wrapped things up fairly quickly at the Expo and headed back to the hotel turn in early after starting the travel day at 3 am.

Tropical 5k & Expo Day 2

We woke up at 5 am on Saturday, choked down some coffee and a PowerBar headed out on our adventure hunt to find the 5k race. We ran into another couple about 15 minutes into our trip, and then a runner visiting from Germany, and then another couple, from Brazil. No one knew how to find or get to the Miami Children’s Museum on foot from where we were. I knew we were in deep trouble when a BMW pulled up beside us and the occupants rolled down the windows and asked us if we knew how to get to the race because they were official event media personnel and were lost.

IMG_20130126_165115We walked about 5k through less than ideal neighborhoods and highways overpasses before running into a shuttle service at Parrot Jungle that took us to the race.  I stayed on the bus and rode it to the finish line of the point to point race so I could wait for my wife. She cruised through in a personal best for her, all smiles, and looking great. Congrats baby! Great atmosphere at both the finish line and the after-party which took place at Nikki Beach.

We left pretty early to get back to the hotel, clean up and shop a little for the kids and extended family before heading back out to the Expo so I could catch Matt’s speech about the “art and science of pacing.”  He gave a great talk, took questions after and I even managed to pin him in a corner for some last minute strategy advice as well as an autograph for my copy of Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon.

Rookie Mistakes

I did the best I could avoiding common pitfalls that sabotage unsuspecting or undisciplined racers.  I didn’t drink any alcohol other than my single beer on Friday. I stayed away from sampling new and exciting products from highly energetic Expo vendors, and then I let my goofy, dumb-ass pride kick in.

There was a beautiful blue, race-themed tech shirt for sale. And I started rationalizing how it might be easier for my wife to spot me in the race if I wasn’t wearing the official orange shirt like 25,000 other runners.  Plus I could then puff my chest out and wear the orange shirt during our flight home on Monday, bragging to the world about my exploits.

IMG_20130127_051338Well, what do you know?  By about mile 7 my nipples were raw. So raw that I was occasionally grabbing at my shirt to pull the fabric away from my chest rather than let it drag across my chest again.

Since I was feeling flat from all of my digestive issues I made a last minute to decision to abandon my strategy of running with a pace group targeting a 2:20 finish.  Instead I decided to program a 13.1 mile workout into my Garmin, and assign various pace ranges to several segments so I could be reminded of an overall strategy without feeling the pressure of running with a group or constantly glancing at my watch.

Unfortunately, I did not realize or forgot that this would cause the Garmin to not give me 1 mile split times but instead provide only 3 splits referencing the 6 mile, 4 mile and 5k segments I had programmed.  A real bummer not to be able to waste a few hours staring at my first ever half marathon split times from start to finish.

The Race

Finally! We get to what you came here for.

The corrals opened at 5 am and I walked outside the hotel with my wife at about 5:15.  It was literally 10° hotter than it had been the past 2 days and I immediately shed my jacket and took a few last sips of water.

We walked around a bit together as I jogged and performed some dynamic stretches. She snapped photos and did a great job of capturing the atmosphere.  I decided to search out my corral and she climbed the stairs of the American Airlines Arena to stake out an observation post for the start.

IMG_20130127_054044After the requisite opening ceremonies, we were off and walking…..shuffling….walking…….the wait wasn’t too bad however and by the time that I made my way to the timing mat I was actually running.

Maybe the best decision I made the entire weekend was to abandon the pace group idea and just let the race come to me.  I didn’t feel great and the adrenalin wasn’t jacking me up either.  I felt ok, but guarded and cautious, and I was happy that I had programmed a somewhat more conservative approach into my Garmin, as opposed to hitting my goal pace right out of the chute with a group of strangers.

It literally took me until mile 3 before I felt somewhat relaxed. I also made a promise to drink at every aid station, thinking that my constant bathroom issues plus the higher temperatures would drain me faster than I had prepared for.  At the first aid station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade on the run and promptly spilled the majority of it down my shirt on over my face. From that point forward I would walk whatever distance was necessary to drink the actual contents of whatever cup I decided to grab.

As a big race rookie, navigating the aid station mayhem was a bit disconcerting. Large groups of people mobbed the first table at each aid station creating human blockades that obstructed runners who were caught on the inside lane.  Timing my dash into the later tables at each station became a fairly technical game of guess-timating angles, speeds and distances in order to successfully hydrate while avoiding crashing into other runners.

There were a couple of aid stations throughout the course that were not prepared or re-stocked by the time I came rambling by, but for the most part I’d have to say the volunteers, aid and effort were great and I can’t really complain that anything they did or didn’t do had any effect on my results. They had a hard job all day and performed it well. Thanks!

My only other critical observation during the race is in regards to the Galloway, run-walk interval participants. They were strong, disciplined and plentiful.  But they also seemed to insist on running shoulder to shoulder, spanning a large width of the available course at any given time.  And of course, just like clockwork, they became a walking roadblock.  If you’re in a group of 6 plus people who know that you’re going to walk every 4 minutes or whatever your schedule is, can you please be aware of the fact that a long narrow rectangle of people is easier for other racers to navigate than is a wide, unyielding mass of elbows and backsides?  Please?

ING Miami is a beautiful course!

ING Miami is a beautiful course!

I was determined to follow the advice of going out slow and running the first half of the race conservatively.  I ran the first 6 miles without even considering an increase in pace.  And interestingly enough I felt better physically at mile 6 than I did at mile 2.  Over the next 4 miles I knew that I wanted to make a slight effort at increasing my pace but each time I tried to hold a new pace I’d find myself zigging and zagging among the crowd and feeling like I was wasting a lot of energy.  So instead I decided to start surging between every second or third stoplight.  I was feeling great and noticed that I was seeing mostly 10:xx + on my watch instead of 11:xx.

It was during this 3 to 4 mile stretch that I began fantasizing about what it would take to still hit a 2:20 or better finish.  Could I turn a fartlek style second half into a respectable finish?  Or if I found an opening in the course could I sustain a smooth transition to another gear and cruise through the final 5k at a 30 minute or better split?

I’d never find out.  Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 my right hip began to tighten significantly.  It was becoming harder and harder to drive my knee through, and I felt like I was leaving my right leg behind me at times.  I’m proud that I didn’t panic or just give up but it would be a lie if I said that I wasn’t frustrated knowing that my chance to turn an average effort into a respectable PR was disappearing quickly.

Garmin 610 Run Data

The final 2.5 miles or thereabouts were really just about not slipping into crash and burn territory.  I kept trying to remember a quote I read somewhere along the lines of, “the runner who can run the longest, and the fastest, while in the most discomfort, while staying the most relaxed will be the winner.”

My idea of winning at that point was digging in for a final, sub 10:00 mile or squeezing through the 2:20 window somehow but it wasn’t to be.  I just lacked the extra gear that more focused training wold have provided and I lacked the mental fortitude to ignore my hip for the final 5k.

IMG_20130127_095205I’m not necessarily disappointed. I beat my realistic goal of 2:30 and I did so knowing that there’s a lot more potential waiting to be exposed. But it won’t happen magically or just because I want it.  I have to make it happen.

Running may very well be the most honest game on earth. It won’t give you anything that you haven’t earned but it will give you exactly what you deserve.

The After-Party

Bottled water. Bananas. Bagels. Fruit cups. Medals. Pictures. Some band playing. Rice and beans. A beer tent that was too far away. A bright sun and green grass. Stretching against a tree. Finally finding my wife. A shower and change of clothes. Three cheese ravioli x 2. A 3 hour nap.

Gear

Brooks PureConnect

CEP Progressive Compression Socks

Garmin Forerunner 610 w/ HR monitor

Splits

Split 1, 1:07:07, 6 miles, avg pace 11:11, avg HR 156, max HR 171
Split 2, 42:09, 4 miles, avg pace 10:38, avg HR 170, max HR 177
Split 3, 32:07, 3.1 miles, avg pace 10:27, avg HR 178, max HR 182

ingmiami2013

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The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

Well, it’s official. 2012 has come to an end. Maybe not quite as dramatically as the Maya had allegedly predicted, but it’s over nonetheless.

As best as I can tell from my records I began my running experiment in late July, completing 5 runs between 1 and 1.5 miles each. Things started picking up quickly come August, and despite numerous injuries and setbacks early on, I’ve maintained a fairly respectable schedule (by my fairly lax standards as a former couch potato.)

August: 57 miles

September: 81 miles

October: 57 miles

November: 56 miles

December: 74 miles

561884_367390530006994_782436028_nSeptember’s significantly higher volume came as the result of never taking more than a single day off between runs, as well as running on quite a few consecutive days.  In addition, 13.2 miles of the 81 came on a run-walk effort on 9/11. It’s ironic that since my A goal is the ING Miami Half Marathon in January, that the 9/11 run is the only time I’ve ever covered the full distance.

September’s miles came with a high price however as I was constantly plagued by plantar fasciitis, bone spurs and Achilles tendonitis.  Eventually I was forced to receive a series of corticosteroid injections in my ankle and the sole of my foot. Fortunately I discovered that via aggressive stretching, primarily the heel-drop protocol, as well as daily rolling of a tennis ball under my arches, I could eliminate a majority of the issues.

2012 monthly totals

I participated in two official races: the ECO RUN 10k and the City Tour Race.  The Eco Run surprised me by taking us off road for a stint over the sand of the Pacific coast beach at Playa Herradura. Combined with some major late race elevation climbs and the heat and humidity, I was happy to survive and struggled through in roughly 68 minutes.  The City Tour Race was a 10k that wasn’t. The day before the race some logistical issues shortened the race to 6 miles, but along with an obstacle free and mostly flat course, the shortened route provided a great confidence boost as I felt like I was finally ‘running,’ crossing the finish line in 54 minutes.

I experimented with quite a few different training ideas and theories, everything from low heart rate training, run-by-feel, to more aggressive pace based plans. They all provided some benefit and unsurprisingly also had their distinct shortcomings (all as a result of my execution, not their design.) As I continue to grow in both practical experience, knowledge and theory I’m sure I will find or create the recipe that respects my limitations while still challenging me to progress.

2012-11-11 city tour race 10kMy strength training was more consistent but not necessarily any more effective because I mostly remained focused on the same, basic strength exercises that I’ve performed for general fitness. They certainly did not hurt or inhibit my progress in any way. But from the perspective of becoming a better runner, in 2013 I will fine tune my efforts to more closely match my specific running goals.

Diet and nutrition improved but were not consistent; a recurring theme in my year in review analysis. I made a concerted effort to implement a Paleo inspired diet, and lost about 20 lbs.  When asked, I describe my approach as 80% paleo, 80% of the time. I am carrying 170 lbs on a 5’10” frame, but am still a bit soft and know that my body fat percentage is higher than it should be or needs to be.

As far as shoes, apparel, gear and accessories are concerned I spent way too much money.  But on the other hand, the monetary commitment is a motivating factor in my desire to now reap dividends from properly utilizing my tools, toys and indulgences.

I have a high-end GPS watch with heart rate monitor, and enough shoes, shirts, shorts and tights to last until this time next year before considering any additions or replacements. The priority now (as it should have been all along) is on making it happen!

I will save my 2013 goals, plans and aspirations for another post. But I would be remiss if i failed to mention and thank some of the people who have made my running a positive and life enriching experience.

Let me conclude by offering my sincere wishes that everyone can look back on 2012 and if not necessarily happy with every race, result or effort, can at least recognize what happened, why and how to make adjustments that will improve your chances for continued and greater success in 2013!

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A detailed training log for the week is here.

Like many people who become involved in a new activity I love to research and read all the information I can get my hands on. Where I often fall short, however, is in translating my enthusiasm and new found knowledge into action.

From too many different sources to list, all respectable, qualified and accomplished in both endurance training theory and real world results, I have learned that my easy day runs must be just that: easy, slower than normal pace, and within roughly a 60% to 70% window of my maximum heart rate.

Surprise. Surprise. After almost 3 months of training, I really have not been applying this to my own running.  I made a concerted effort last week to make this happen and as a result I ran my first half marathon distance.

While you really don’t need to hear it from me, her goes: most people run too hard on their easy days and too easily on their hard days.

Make your training count! Have a goal and purpose for every run that you do, and recite that goal aloud before taking your first step.

Reward your efforts with quality food and your body will thank you.

 

Red Meat or Tofu? It Probably Doesn’t Matter

In a classic example of the fighting the wrong battle while the war rages on elsewhere, many of us are often caught up in the arguments for and against eating meat, vegetarianism, vegan lifestyles or even the fruitarian viewpoint. While we slug it out with one another in the trenches, belittling each other’s choices and creating an ever greater divide among us as consumers who like to pretend we are making more informed decisions, the government, politicians and agribusiness giants are busy raking in millions, laughing all the way to the bank, and potentially poisoning all of us, while forever altering the genetic code in ways that evolution never intended.

Genetically Modified Organisms and Foods (GMOs GMFs) are escalating at an alarming rate, entering our food production and distribution chain without the slightest pretense of legitimate testing or oversight. Despite corporate and state claims to the contrary, just recall any memories you may have about the tobacco industry’s scientists and attorneys when you weigh idea of fair, balanced or objective scrutiny and safeguards in relation to this industry.

Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives is a great primer on the topic if you’re interested. The film is a production of the Institute for Responsible Technology and can be viewed online. However, you can also order a dvd copy which brings additional bonus footage and four additional mini presentations on related topics.

An excerpt from the film’s website:

When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generations were put at risk by an infant technology.

After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves.

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.

 

Today’s run was a 3 miler. 1 mile easy, 1 mile of fartleks, 1 mile easy.

 

Fartleks are a great way to work a little speed work into your training without the significant stress and fatigue that a threshold run or intervals might create.

There are many variations on the fartlek theme, some calling for random bursts of faster running throughout your entire run, while others are slightly more structured calling for specific increases in pace followed by specific recovery periods.

Regardless of which method you choose, fartleks are a fantastic tool.  The relatively short duration of faster pace will help improve neuromuscular coordination as well as improve aerobic fitness.  Instead of locking your legs and lungs into another stale, easy run, consider adding fartleks to your arsenal for increased fitness, strength and endurance without substantial risk.

After completing my post run cool down routine it was time to refuel and I did so in grand style. Whole wheat pasta, omega -3 scrambled eggs, black olives, avocado and bacon.

For those of you who know I follow a Paleo or Primal diet guideline, I have no problem admitting that my motto regarding my food choices is, “I’m 90 paleo, 90% of the time.”

90% paleo, 90% of the time

 

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Detailed training log for the week is here.  I knocked out a 4+ mile run today and feel that I am slowly, but finally getting back into training instead of injury rehab.

The Olympic Games are coming to a close, I’m sad to say.  The luxury I have of working from home extended me the opportunity to leave the television tuned into the action practically from start to finish.  This morning I woke at 4am local time in order to watch the men’s marathon live and in its entirety.

Congratulations go out to the winner Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, who held off two powerful Kenyans, Abel Kirui and Wilson Kiprotich, crossing the finish in 2:08:01 and averaging a blistering 4:53 per mile.

I had high hopes for the U.S. marathon squad, and Meb Keflezighi did not fail to deliver, finishing fourth with a time of 2:11:06, only three minutes and five seconds off the winning pace.  Unfortunately both Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman succumbed to injury and were unable to finish the race.

Cesar Lizano, the local representative from my adopted nation of Costa Rica made the country proud by finishing strong in 2:24:16.  Lizano was trained by Mario Fraioli, the senior producer at Competitor.com.  Fraioli wrote a series of articles chronicling the coaching process with Lizano as they prepared for the Olympic games, the latest of which you can read here.

Kenyan runners in action

photo credit: john burnett/npr

John Burnett with NPR has an interesting article about the dietary habits of the elite Kenyan runners.

“It is a paleolithic diet,” says Dr. Vincent Onywera, senior lecturer at Kenyatta University’s Department of Exercise Science. “It borrows heavily from our forefathers who lived on fruits, vegetables, roots and lean meat.”

That should be good news to those who follow the Paleo diet, Primal Blueprint, as well as vegetarians and vegans.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to two people who are proving invaluable in my injury recovery and half marathon training.  Jeff Galloway was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and is also a monthly columnist for Runner’s World Magazine.  He is the founder of the Galloway Marathon Training Program, and emphasizes a run/walk interval method for both training and race day.  I highly recommend that you take a look through his website and give the run/walk intervals a try, especially on your long, slow run day where you will most likely be able to run farther and recover faster with this technique.

Jeff Galloway at Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon

Jason Fitzgerald is a competitive runner, published author and personal coach.  His website, Strength Running, is full of no nonsense, detailed information designed to make you the best runner you can be.  The links, articles and resources on the website will give you an entirely different understanding into the mind of a professional running coach and how to design programs that are appropriate for your goals and adaptive enough to change as you do, both mentally and physically.  A+ plus information organized and delivered in a clear and concise manner!

Here’s a quick excerpt from a recent article:

Elite distance races prove that you can’t be “just a distance runner” anymore. The ability to kick is mandatory in today’s racing world.

But just because it’s necessary for elite runners doesn’t mean that you can avoid sprinting during your training. Besides being able to negative split your race, sprinting also helps your running in many ways: it recruits more muscle fibers, makes you stronger, improves your running economy, and lessens the chance of injury.

Training suggestions:

  • Run 4-8 strides after your easy distance runs. Strides are about 100m long and have you start at a jog, build to about 95% of max effort, and slow to a stop. Run them barefoot on a grass field for increased foot and lower leg strength.
  • If you can run hill sprints, you can do them 1-2 times weekly on a moderate effort day (these are a bit more advanced!)

I hope everyone enjoyed the Olympic games and that at least a few of your favorite athletes were able to bring home the gold.

Make the coming week your best week of training ever!

Weekly Training Summary

Posted: July 22, 2012 in food, injury, running
Tags: ,

I’ve posted my weekly training summary for 7/16 – 7/22 over at 10N84W

Let me know how your training is going.  What are your goals, strengths and sticking points?

training food

Staying well fueled and fed for training