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Entries in running (4)

Sunday
Dec262010

2010 Charlotte Thunder Road Half-Marathon Recap

Two weekends ago, the annual Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon & Amica Insurance Half-Marathon were held, despite the below-freezing temperatures.  This was my second time participating in the event in some capacity, however in 2007 I only ran the anchor leg (10 miles) of the Marathon Relay.  That year, I specifically remember the starting temperature being 16 degrees, however this year I believe we may have crept up to a warm 20-22 degrees when the opening gun went off.   

 

I finished in 2:15:49, which isn't going to send me up to the Boston Marathon any time soon, however it was fairly consistent with the 10:00-per-mile pace I used during my training sessions.  I've got close to eight weeks to train and prep for the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon in February, so here are a few of the key learnings and experiences I took from the Thunder Road event - hopefully you can either take advantage of my mistakes, or simply use them for comedic value.

 1. Don't Over-value Cold Temperatures

Dating back to high school football, I always over-dressed for competing in outdoor cold weather.  My philosophy is that I'd rather be so warm that I am nearly sweating underneath, than risk cold muscles.  My eight (yes, 8) shirt layers mostly took care of upper body warmth, however there did come a point when it was too restrictive and I felt as if I was running in a bulletproof vest.  I learned why some runners value shedding layers after a few miles in, your body will eventually acclimate (to some degree).

As for lower body, I am not one of those runners who can wear shorts in cold weather.  This is important to know about yourself, since years ago I got talked out of wearing pants for a cold weather race by a friend at the starting line, and my legs never warmed up until I got back in the car for the drive home.

2. Periodic Outdoor Training Is Valuable

I badly underestimated the value of getting in a few outdoor training runs in the cold.  Most of my training was done indoors on upstairs tracks or treadmills - and while pure practice miles are the ultimate goal, there is something to be said for knowing how to navigate a long run outside when the air is cold and sharp to breathe, and the concrete is cold and unforgiving.  I only got one outdoor 7-miler in two weeks prior, and that was not enough.

3. Allow for Life's Interruptions

This one is nearly common knowledge but bears repeating, life and work will ALWAYS interrupt your training.  I also lost a week to knee soreness and chose rest/recovery over additional mileage. But when sharing stories with others, it seems as though no one enters a race feeling like they had a flawless, trouble-free training schedule.

4. The Correct Shoes are Key

I bought a pair of Asics Gel Kayano 15's with the intention of them being my training and race shoes, but chose incorrectly.  They're a great stability shoe, however I over-thought the shopping process and needed to get a pair with more of a cushioning focus (since I'm still about 10-20 pounds heavier than i'd like to be).  The Asics began to hurt my feet during training, but it was too late to go for a new pair.  I chose to stick with the "nothing new on race day" strategy and went with my trusted Under Armour runners, since they had carried me through my longest training run (10 miles) weeks earlier.  They held up fine, but this was definitely the retirement performance for these awesome shoes, as they will now be relegated to cameo appearances during fitness classes.  Thanks to some gift money from Santa - I'll probably go after a pair of Nike Zoom Vomero 5's for the Myrtle Beach race, since I got great runs out of a pair four years ago.

 5. Peer Support Can Make All The Difference

I have never been a big fan of running in groups.  I'm not necessarily against it, I'm just not in-shape enough to run with others without fearing I'm the "Slow Guy" in the group.  Plus I need the freedom to be able to stop intermittently for water breaks (or possibly the occaisional dry heave in the bushes when no one is watching).  However my group during the race was a major key to me finishing with a somewhat respectable time.

As you know from reading my site - Philip Ciccarello is one of Charlotte's more elite runners.  Philip (and one of his friends, Dana) motivated me to meet them before the race and start together at the opening gun.  Dana's goal was a 1:50 finish, and though Philip could have probably run that time while carrying a sack of charcoal over his shoulder - he pledged to run with us as to set the pace.  It did not take long into the first two miles for me to drift back into the slower pack, but this was to be expected.  However true to his word, Philip helped Dana power through a sore hip muscle to finish in 1:49:28 - her new personal record. 

Then, when most normal humans would have found a Gatorade and a warm place to sit down, Philip ran back to the Mile 12 marker to pace me through the finish line.  His timing was perfect since I was  definitely contemplating another walk break along with the others around me.  It goes to show that there is definitely something to be said for having a pace group and encouragers along the way.

To the right is a photo of Philip (orange) and myself (blue) with about 800 meters left until the tape, and you can read Philip's excellent race recap here.

Another friend actually Tweeted live during the race (a great concept I wish I had thought of).

As I mentioned, I've got about eight weeks to get ready for the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon in February.  After that, the goals shift back to a combination of reducing my mile time significantly, CrossFit-style metabolic workouts, and hopefully a few 5K races once the weather warms up again.

Sunday
Sep192010

Fitness Spotlight: Regular People - Volume 3

It's been a while since I have highlighted an everyday person that provides a great fitness example for the rest of us, but I met one recently in Philip Ciccarello

We "met" originally through Twitter, which is one more testament to the power of social media.  By day, Philip is the Director of Technology for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, an economic development organization. His real passion however, is running.

As you can tell by his photos - Philip is a very in-shape dude.  His blog highlights a wide variety of things, but among them you can find shoe reviews, and several informative running/training recaps.  He's also a fan of the post-long run ice bath (which I can attest is one of the true signs of both physical and mental toughness).

I'm always up for learning new things from people more experienced or knowledgable than me, and Philip has put me on to a couple good online training programs for my upcoming half-marathon, in addition to the littany of running information on his blog.

I hit him up recently for a look into his typical day's approach to nutrition around running workouts, and he was good enough to share:

"Most of my diet is very clean though. Try to eat a lot of vegetables, potatoes, rice, whole wheat breads, chicken, fish, and fruits. Basically I *try* to stay away from fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, pre-processed foods, red meats, desserts…it’s tough. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally fine to cheat on your diet once a week, but that’s where it should stop."
 
My Monday – Friday diet looks something like this:
 
6:30 Workout – coffee or vitamin B
8:15 Breakfast – either bagel or oatmeal (the real kind) w. peanut butter or cereal if no workout
10:00 Snack – Fruit or some nuts
12:00 Lunch – Usually a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with cheese and chips (with multi-vitamins)

3:00 Snack – More fruit
5:30 Run – depending on the day either a light to moderate run or speed work
7:30 Dinner – Pasta, Chicken, Fish, Potatoes, Vegetables and once a week sushi

His long runs are typically Saturdays, preceeded by a pancake dinner Friday night for carb loading, and usually a bagel or toast an hour or so in the morning pre-run.  For anything longer than 13 miles, he'll bring a Gu gel for consumption 45 minutes into the run.  

Post-long run, he may use Gatorade to get simple carbs back into the system and feed the drained muscles.

You can also learn a little more from his interview with RunnerDude's blog back in July.

Philip is one more example that despite having a regular everyday job and busy schedule, you can make time to get out on the road or in the gym for exercise and still find balance to fit it all into your lifestyle.

Sunday
Sep192010

The Road to The Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon

I'm always telling people to set new goals for themselves, and to attempt things outside of their comfort zone.  So in the interest of taking my own advice and not being a hypocrite, I signed up for the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon a week ago.

This will be my second half-marathon ever, I ran one here in Charlotte close to three years ago.  My goal was just to finish, and I accomplished that (barely).

I signed up for the Dowd YMCA Half-Marathon on about three days' worth of planning (I was "in-shape" but cannot say that my training was with an endurance race specifically in-mind).  This time I am giving myself plenty of lead time for the February race, having just started a training program from Runners World, and also just invested in a decent pair of stability running shoes, thanks to tips from one of the elite runners here in Charlotte I met recently.

As for diet - I've had to jettison my Intermittent Fasting and low carb strategies to keep my energy levels up for two-a-day workouts.  I'm not necessarily training twice per day, some days are AM runs or AM spin bike with fitness classes taught in the evening.  I haven't resorted to breads and starches, just upped my frequencies of complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and black beans, with an occasional Powerbar or similar quick energy source when necessary.

I'm also hoping to shed about ten pounds between now and February, so I've (sadly) had to limit my weight training to once per week at-most.

I'll check in after a few weeks with progress, but hopefully this motivates others to step up and try something outside of your comfort zone.  More times than not, you'll surprise yourself with what you are capable of.

Saturday
Jan232010

Fitness Spotlight - KathEats.com

Full disclosure - this next Fitness Spotlight is going to highlight a woman from Davidson College, which is my undergrad institution.  I need to say that upfront so that my pro-Davidson biases will be out in the open before I start to gush over this woman's healthy foods blog and positive outlook on nutrition.

It would be limiting to say that www.KathEats.com is purely a healthy foods blog, but that is one of the main benefits.  It also serves as an inspiration tool for anyone (female or male) who has struggled with seeing their weight or clothing sizes rise and been frustrated over an inability to fix things. 

Without giving away her entire story (which can be found here: http://www.katheats.com/kath-2/ ) she basically got tired of seeing her weight increase and made a life decision one day to take control of her eating habits and start getting more daily functional exercise.  I might be making it sound overly simplistic, but the good news is that taking charge of your own weight loss really IS simplistic.  It starts one day, with one pro-active healthy choice, which snowballs into another, then another.

Kath eventually lost 30 pounds, and her weekly exercise routine is a mix of running, elliptical, and spinning classes.  She was also featured on the cover of the January 2007 issue of Women's World Magazine. 

Her site is not only inspirational for anyone who thinks losing double-digit pounds is a fantasy, but there are also NUMEROUS receipes and posts related to food.  She seems to be fanatic about oatmeal in-particular, which suits me well since that is my preferred complex carb source.  Her blog received an award from FoodBuzz.com for 2009. 

I'd be promoting this site whether she was a Davidson alum or not (we have never met) but her blog truly is a must-read for anyone (female or male) who needs both information and inspiration on how to take command of your nutritional health one step at a time.