Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snail on Land … Lemming in the Water

I had my first swim coaching session this evening and let's say it was a bit of a rude awaking. It has been nearly 20 years and a similar number of pounds since I have gotten anywhere near a pool and believe me it showed. I flailed about in the pool under the watchful eye of my Instructor. There is a lot of work to be done to prepare me for triathlon season.

The scary thing is that for nearly 10 years, I made my living working as a pool manager, lifeguard and swim instructor. I had qualified on multiple occasions as an ocean lifeguard and have made scores of open water rescues. I guess the old saying is true – Use it or lose it. Starting Monday, I will add at least an hour a day in the pool to my morning workouts. This should be easier if I trick my body into thinking that day light savings time didn't end and just keep my wake up time an hour earlier.

Who knows what the bike training will have in store for me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marine Corp Marathon Race Report

Yesterday was my longest run since the knee surgery.  I completed the MCM in 5:12.  Not my best marathon performance but being only a few weeks out of recovery and having not ran over 14 miles in 6 months, I will claim this as a victory!

Physically, I held up well.  There was very little discomfort in the surgery knee.  My good knee felt the strain much more that the one that was operated on.  I did not push the pace so while tired, I still had a lot left in the tank at the end.    I plan to use the upcoming Harrisburg and NCR Trail marathons as training runs for the Angel 50 miler.  What I need now is slow and steady running – Time on my feet is more important right now than speed.

The MCM was, as always, an excellently managed event.  You know it will be quality when the USMC puts their name to it.  The course, water stations, and crowd support were excellent. 

The only downside to this event was the number of race participants.  There were just too many people.  I may be a marathon snob but there were a heck of a lot of people out there that don't have the etiquette to run in public. 

  • Galloway groups and Team in Training that stop dead in the middle of the course because it is time to walk
  • IPod wearing zombies that are oblivious to the world around them
  • Runners that stop dead in front of other runners to hug their supporters
  • Crowds that come to a complete stop at the first water table
  • Photo takers – here is a news break Washington DC has been there for over 200 years – anything you want to photograph will be there after the race
  • The greatest hazard of all – Cell phone user.  Who the hell do you need to talk to in the middle of a marathon? 


Hopefully these are the antics of one and done marathoners.  Go home – Impress your friends by wearing your medal to work for the next week. Now it is time to look for another thing to cross off your lifetime to do list.  Leave Marathon running for the Marathoners.




Friday, October 24, 2008

Pre Marathon Preparation

I am packing for my annual pilgrimage to Washington DC and the Marine Corp Marathon. This has become a Snail tradition that we spend the weekend in Arlington, Va. We get in town around noon on Saturday and go to the packet pickup and expo. Afterwards, we go back to the Hotel and crash until dinner. On Sunday we will get up and walk about a mile or so to the start of the race. After the race we gather in one of the rooms and have a bit to eat and a few stiff drinks. In the evening we have a tradition to go out to dinner and them early to bed. Most of us will go directly to work on Monday morning.

My plan for the race is to finish. This will be my first official marathon since my knee injury so, slow and steady is going to be the order of the day. I don't care how long it takes as long as I finish without injury.

On the Triathlon front, I picked up the Kestrel from the bike shop. The bike looks good and should serve me well for the 2009 season. I am considering buying a reasonable priced Hybrid to ride for training purposes.

I have not had much success hiring a Tri Coach. Mostly, it is my fault that I don't want to give up my ultra running to become a Triathlete. I know the coaches are right… but psychologically I can't give up the friendships I have made due to running. I have hired a swim coach to work with me once a week in preparation for my rebirth as a Triathlete.

Speaking of Ultras… I got a nice note from Joyce the RD for Running with an Angel. She is a super caring RD and I encourage everyone to participate in one of her events. BTW – Rooms in Vegas are getting real cheap! Try Hooters – Cheap, Clean, Fun place to stay only steps from the strip.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Invest in Yourself

It's getting a little ridiculous – all everyone is talking about is their 401Ks and their stock market investments. The financial networks have a 24/7 countdown to the end of the world as we know it. Everyone is awaiting the financial meltdown and anticipating how bad it will get.

Let's face reality -- we can't as individuals do a lot to control the outcome. Other than stuffing money in a mattress or withdrawing money from our 401K to buy a tricked out tri bike; we just don't have a lot of control.

The market is a bit of a gamble – you win some and loose some, hopefully you come out ahead in the end. But there's one other big gamble that we face every day – and we have a lot more control over it. That's our personal wellness.

Think about how much time you spent last week concerning yourself and talking with others about your investments. Did you skip a workout due to financial worries? Are you neglecting your investment in your personal well being?

Take time everyday to increase the value of your most important investment – your health. The stock market is going to recover somewhere down the road. A training session lost can never be recovered.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Elvis loves the “Girls”

Today, I ran the Baltimore Korman Race for the Cure or to be more correct my alter ego "Elvis Snail" ran the course, posed for pictures and cheered on runners through the 5K. I usually don't do any race where it takes longer to drive to the event, that run it, but this is one race that I make an exception to the rule. There are a few reasons for this exception.

First there is the political; My Company fields a team for the race. Being marked as a runner in the health and safety department automatically makes me a prospect for the team. It would be career suicide to say something along the lines "I can't attend because I need to do a (real) run". Instead, I got to the race early and did 2 laps of the course prior to the start.

Secondly, while almost every race supports a charity, the Korman race is special. I gain a lot of appreciation for life when I see the passion of the participants. The survivors are motivational with their strength. The families of those that have been victimized by this dreaded disease carry on their battle by wearing "In memory" of bibs. The sadness of these participants is counteracted by the joy in the faces of the young high school and college girls that team together to do their small part in fighting for a cure. Of course us guys know our palace and are there to support the girls. No pun intended but I will take credit for it anyway.

Lastly, I have to admit that some, many, most of my fondest memories have involved breast. We got to team together to "Save the Girls".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Perfection is Expected…Excellence will be Tolerated

Yesterday, I had the privilege to join 45 of my friends and pace the Baltimore Marathon. The GEICO pace team is an elite collection of experienced marathon pacers. We are charged with hitting each mile within seconds of the pace time and must bring our assigned pace groups over the line within 1 minute of their assigned time. Over the past 6 years the GEICO pacers have hit the mark 62 out of 63 times! The 5 hour pace group is 6 for 6 capping our performance with our 4: 59:51. Once again we lived up to our commitment to our fellow runners. Congratulation to all the runners in the 5 hour pace group you did great!

The second half of the marathon was hot and many of the runners paid a toll for running in the heat. In the last 10 miles we passed a lot of the walking wounded suffering from the heat. I think this shows the true spirit of the marathon where average guys and gal set a goal and endure pain to press on and reach their goal. They may be slower, but in a few hours they achieved what they set out to do. Experienced marathoners sometimes think that slower runners tarnish the status of being a marathoner. To them I say try joining a 5 or 6 hour pace group and see how much harder these athletes work to make it to the finish line.

Being a pacer gives you some special perks … while GEICO sponsors and supports the group, Baltimore based Under Amour the race sponsor likes to take care of the pacers too. This year we got the opportunity to test pilot their new running shoes. In a few words THEY ROCK! Extremely comfortable, great support and best of all no blisters! They have what they call a "Footsleve" I think both ultra runners and triathletes are going to like the smooth lining of these shoes.

I am happy to report that my knee came through the marathon pain free. Hard to believe that this is only 2 months post surgery.

My training is entering a higher intensity phase. This week I start to add in swimming to my daily routine. I think I am going to lay off the upper body weights for 2-3 weeks until I get into the swimming routine. In preparation for the Angle and Rocky Raccoon I need to start increasing up the running mileage too. Looks like I need to get up an hour earlier every morning – oh crap!

I am considering hiring a Tri Coach to prepare me for next year's Triathlon season. More on this to follow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shape up the Nation

My company is participation in a wellness program called "Shape up the Nation". Teams or individuals compete in three categories

  • Hours of Working Out
  • Steps Walked
  • Pounds Lost

I am entered in the hours of working out category. On Thursday they posted the results from the first two weeks and shockingly, I am in first place for both the Team and individual hours of working out with 50 hours in 2 weeks. Actually I logged 66 hours but the system only allows for a maximum of 25 hours a week. I don't see where 4 hours a day is a record setting level of training but I guess that there are not too many normal people involved in wellness activities. I received a few nasty grams from others in the company wondering how I could possibly log that many hours. I simply invited them to meet me at 3 am every morning for a little pre work run. Enough said!

Training is going well, I still get a few twinges in the knee but I and ready for pacing the second half of the Baltimore Marathon next Saturday.

I lost my EBay bid on a Tri bike, so I decided to stick with the Kestrel 4000. Today, I took it to a bike shop to get it tuned up and have some of the components modernized with new bars, fork, head set and cables. I am going to keep the drop tube shifters instead of having them bar mounted. Even thought this is a 20 year old bike it is still more than I will need.

Things at work are calming down. I think management is doing their best to keep everybody informed and focused on their jobs. I am fairly hopeful that I will survive the changes.

The tooth is still giving me problems. It is a nagging pain but I am afraid that it will flare up at an inopportune time. I think it is time to give up and go with the root canal.

Speaking of nagging pains … I have quit Toastmasters. I just don't want to play their anal retentive games any more.