Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Hay Is In The Barn

There is nothing to do now but sit and wait.

The training and the taper is either there to help or it is not.

The weather will be a factor or it won't be. Well it probably will be. So read on.

These are things you cannot control.

What you can control is your first 10 miles, hopefully your first 20 miles. And if it is truly your day you will be in the driver's seat through the last three miles.

So control your start. Personally, I would begin my race with the medium or low goal in mind, and not even THINK about up to a higher goal until mile 15 or 20. The humidity and warmth will be factors. Start conservatively. Let people pass you from downtown Minneapolis, past the lakes, and even along River Road.

If you do that, you will pass over 75% beginning when you cross Franklin Avenue.

If you run a smart race, you will run the first 23 miles of a marathon with mental discipline. Mental toughness is for last three miles.

And if you are worried about the weather, you can't control it. Just make sure your race plan has factored the conditions in. There is no use wishing for better conditions. Just remember: the worse the weather, the smarter you need to run.

If that doesn't help you and you still worry about running in rain, warmth, and humidity, just tell the weather gods this...

B R I - am at your servIce sez the car repairman N G

I Tokyu Hands*

*Credit due to Chris Taylor for "bring it" the Official Finn Mantra of the Fall 2007 Marathon Training Season

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


In the interest of full disclosure, these are quotes from an e-mail I sent out to the training class last year. But as I re-read these quoutes, I had forgotten most of them. And was all like, "Dang yall! These quotes are good!"

What I recommend is that you read through these and find one that resonates with you. Write it down and keep it in your mind. Some of these quotes are good to chew on over the next three days. Others may be a nice thing to remember somewhere on Summit Ave on Sunday morning.

You will read a lot of quotes about taking risks. I want offer my own definition of how risks relate to marathons. The risk you have taken is to sign up for and run a marathon. No other risks need to be taken. You could tell yourself at mile 10, "I feel great, the weather is awesome. I'm going to pick up the pace and see if I can catch the group ahead of me." Technically, that is a risk. But it is risk in the same way jumping out of an airplane without a parachute is a risk.

You took a risk by devoting the last fifteen weeks, months, years to a challenge with unknown results: this marathon. You took the risk to shape your life around training for one race for one fall morning, not knowing what the weather, your health, or your marathon will be like.

That is a real risk.

You guys are great. I hope you don't me to tell you that. You should already know that.

On with the quotes. Happy hunting.

"Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport as about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks." - Sir Roger Bannister (first person to ever break the 4:00 mile)
*editor's note: This quote by Bannister is one of my all-time favorites.

"Good things come slow - especially in distance running."
- Bill Dellinger, Oregon coaching legend

"We are different, in essence, from other men [and women, right?]. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."
-Emil Zatopek Czech great who won 1952 Olympic marathon

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
- Anonymous

"A lot of people run a race to see who's the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts."
- Steve Prefontaine one of the greatest American runners who died
prematurely in a car accident

"A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they're capable of understanding."
- Steve Prefontaine

"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."
-Fred Lebow, founder, New York City Marathon

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow

"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality and the last part with your heart."
-Mike Fanelli, coach of the San Francisco Impalas

"I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."
- Jesse Owens

"We will go to the moon. We will go to the moon and do other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard."
- Preseident John F. Kennedy, Jr.

"The only way to define your limits is by going beyond them."
- Anonymous

"The man [or woman] in the arena... who at best knows the triumphs of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
-President Teddy Roosevelt

"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."
- William Faulkner

"No doubt a brain and some shoes are essential for marathon success, although if it comes down to a choice, pick the shoes. More people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes."
-Don Kardong

"Growth means change, and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown."
-George Shinn

"There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less."
-Kurt Hahn

"If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them."
-Bob Dylan

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
-Mark Twain

"Anyone can run 20 miles. It's the next six that count."
-Barry Magee, marathon bronze winner in Rome, 1960

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired...You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going."
- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

"Mind is everything: muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind."
-Paavo Nurmi of Finland who won nine Olympic medals

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."
-Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

"Tough times don't last but tough people do." -A.C. Green

"God has given me the ability. The rest is up to me. Believe, believe, believe."
-Billy Mills, '64 Olympic 10,000-meter champion (he also ran the marathon in the '64 Olympics)

"Enjoy your pain, you've earned it."
- Anonymous

"Pain is weakness leaving the body"
-Back of a t-shirt I read

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." -
President Teddy Roosevelt

"People can't understand why a man runs. They don't see any sport in it, argue that it lacks the sight-thrill of body contact, the color of rough conflict. Yet the conflict is there, more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition. In track it is man against himself, the cruelest of all opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies deep within him, in his ability, with brain and heart, to control and master himself and his emotions."
- Glenn Cunningham
*editor's note: Cunningham was a premiere US middle-distance runner from the 1930s. At age eight he suffered burns so severe on his legs, doctors said he'd never walk again.

"The mind determines what's possible. The heart surpasses it."
-Pilar Coolinta

"Get going. Get up and walk if you have to, but finish the damned race."
-Ron Hill to Jerome Drayton during the 1970 Boston Marathon

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."

"The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I am not afraid… I was born to do this."
-Joan of Arc

"We can't all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."
-Will Rogers

Does anyone else have some quotes to add?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Be Like Geb

Yesterday Haile Gebrselassie broke the men's world record for the marathon, running it in 2:04:26. Just as impressive is the fact that Geb at one point in time has been the world record holder for the indoor 2000 m run, the indoor 3000 m, the 5000 m, and the 10,000 m. And now the marathon. How's that for range! Jack of all trades, master of, um, all.

Anyway, last week I posted a document from Kirk on the google group and said if you read it, you too could run a 2:47.

Well, forget that. I now give you "How To Set the Marathon PR." Look at Geb's splits from yesterday. Match them, and you too can run a 2:04:26. In the interest of full disclosure these splits came via an e-mail to me by a friend of mine who has the suspicious alias "Klassy Barry." So I cannot claim this information is 100% trustworthy, considering the source.

5 km: 00:14:44
10 km: 00:29:27 / 00:14:43
15 km: 00:44:16 / 00:14:50
20 km: 00:59:10 / 00:14:54
25 km: 01:14:05 / 00:14:55
30 km: 01:28:56 / 00:14:51
35 km: 01:43:38 / 00:14:43
40 km: 01:58:08 / 00:14:30

So you guys get out there and run those splits! Records are made to be broken. Why not one of us?

The only thing that would be more amazing than one of us breaking Geb's record is if Marty or Deb posted on this blog. Wait a second, they did! Awesome!

First Marathon

Many of you will be running your first marathon. What an exciting time! It may also be a very scary time since you just do not know what to expect. I bet that most of us can remember our first marathon experience in quite detail since it is such a dramatic event in one’s life. I will now share my experience since there may be some good “lessons learned” (See Marty’s comments “Lessons Learned The Hard Way.”) that I hope I can share with you all. I also encourage everyone else to share their experiences as well, not only so we can give you first timers some words of wisdom, but to give you all encouragement that everything will be OK.

My first marathon was running Grandma’s Marathon in 1984. I just finished my freshman year at Mankato State University. I was talked into running the marathon by my high school friend, Tracy, who ran distance for the CC and track teams. Tracy contacted me in the spring time in 1984 about running the marathon because she thought it would be “so much fun.” I will never forget that she said this because I laughed my head off at the very thought of it being “fun.” While Tracy was the distance star, I focused on sprints and middle distance in high school and at Mankato State. I also thought that distance runners were a bit “nuts.” I told Tracy the only way I would run a marathon is if she could convince our friend Darren to run it as well. I felt I got out of this since Darren was a sprinter and middle distance runner like me and we both disliked running any further than we had to! However, it didn’t take long for Tracy to convince Darren because before I knew it I had an entry form mailed to me by Tracy! I was stuck!

Since I was running track at Mankato State, I did not really think much more about the marathon at all once I registered. I was too busy training for my track events that did not go further than 800 meters! When my first year of college was nearing to an end, my roommate, Sue, who was also on the track team and a distance runner, asked what I was going to do in the summer. I told her for starters I was going to run Grandma’s Marathon. Before I knew it I was getting drilled by Sue as to how many miles I was putting in a week and what my longest run was up to that point. Sue had run several marathons already so she was experienced enough to know that I was not prepared at the time. So that very weekend Sue dragged me out for a “long run” and I really did not know what she meant by this. She just told me to put on my shoes and we were going to be running for awhile! I ended up running about 16 miles on a very hot and humid day. We had many stops at the gas stations along the way for water. This run took place about 3 weeks before the marathon. I guess I was so na├»ve about the whole “marathon” thing since I really did not know you had to train for this thing.

The Friday before the race, Tracy, Darren and I started our drive up to Duluth. Our lunch consisted of popcorn made by Tracy and a bag of Snicker bars that I brought with for the trip. When we arrived at Duluth, we got our race number and walked around Duluth for a long time! We finally ate the Spaghetti dinner the marathon offers and then we headed to Helen’s campground located near mile 5. Yep, I camped the night before my first marathon. Before we went to bed, I saw Tracy put out a few pair of shoes. I liked one of the pair she had out and she told me that she was not going to run the marathon in those, but the other pair. So I asked if I could run in her spare pair. “Of course!” So I took those shoes and put them by my side. I decided I would wear them because they looked like they had more cushioning then my pair. That is logical, don’t you think?

When we awoke, I remember the butterflies in my stomach. I was still thinking of ways to get out of this thing! I was thinking that I should pretend I’m sick or my back hurts from sleeping on the hard ground. Then all of a sudden Darren tells us we have a flat tire and asked if we knew how to change a tire! A feeling of sheer thrill went through me! Yes! We won’t be able to make it to the start line. That was quickly dampened by Tracy’s remark that we should then run to the start. “Run to the start?” “Are you kidding?” “It’s 5 miles away!” Tracy was not kidding. She was very serious. I was about to run 31 miles so I quickly dashed up to the front office and started asking people if they knew how to change a flat tire. However, Darren was able to get it fixed and we quickly dashed to the start. We made it with a few minutes to spare.

What I remember most vividly at the start line is that it was a cloudy, cool day. They announced that it was 38 degrees. There was also a light mist. Tracy was wearing a light blue tank top and shorts and I was wearing a pink tank top and shorts. Darren had on a white cotton t-shirt and shorts and we were all freezing! As we were waiting for the start, Tracy thought I must have looked like I was going to pass out. She just looked at me and said, “Debbie, we are going to finish this race…OK?” I said “OK,” and with that the gun went off.

I recall that we were chatter boxes the first few miles. We laughed at how our morning started out and then we started talking about what we wanted for lunch later. We were always talking about food! However, before I knew it, it got really quiet. All I could hear was breathing and the sound of everyone’s foot strike.

The race was moving along quite nicely. We had a lot of people cheering for Tracy and I. Go pink and blue!” That was encouraging to hear. All we had along the course was water. We did not eat anything along the way. We did not have Gu’s back then! We just took the water at the scheduled water stops. Darren decided to stop and stretch at mile 12 and said he would catch up to us. We never did see him again until the finish. I then started to feel something in my toes. They felt like they were burning. Then for the next few miles I was complaining to Tracy how I felt my toes were bleeding. I was fixated on my bloody toes. Then at about mile 16, I started to feel “something” in my legs. They just were not moving the same as before. I told Tracy I was going to slow a little bit and she went on ahead of me. Before Tracy took off she said to me, “Debbie, just take it one mile at a time. You are going to make it to the finish line.” I said “OK” and wished her good luck. Now I was left lone to battle my bloody toes and sore legs. It was my toes that were bothering me the most. So for the next several miles, I took Tracy’s advice and focused on each mile. I also tried to think of other things bedsides my bloody toes.

Before I knew it, I was at mile 23 and I thought I could see Tracy up ahead. Sure enough, it was Tracy! I was so happy to see her. When I caught up to Tracy, she did not look so good. All of a sudden, she started vomiting right towards my shoes…I mean Tracy’s shoes, which then started me too think about my bloody toes! I remember thinking Tracy’s puking and I have toes that are bleeding. As I said, distance runners are “nuts!” However, it was my turn to give encouragement; I told Tracy that we are going to finish this thing together! I remember us both getting a drive in us that is beyond explanation. We were like two locomotives. We were in perfect stride with each other. We continued to hear “Go pink and blue!”

Then one of the most miraculous sites I’ve seen was the Finish line! I was so excited! I could not believe I was going to finish. When we crossed the finish line, it was one of the best feelings ever. I remember feeling just so awe struck by what just happened. We were 88th and 89th women overall. It was an incredible feeling to say “I finished!” Of course, the first thing I did was sit down and take off my shoes to look at my bloody toes. I was convinced they were bloody! However, they were just blistered. Not a drop of blood!

I was very happy I ran the race since I now enjoy distance running. My first marathon taught me a lot about myself. Some of the good lessons that I learned immediately was to eat better the day before. Popcorn and snicker bars do not sit to well in your stomach! It probably is not a good idea to borrow someone else’s shoes the day before the race. Definitely not a good idea! I also learned that long runs really are important for the marathon. Although I made it to the finish, my legs would have been much happier if I had trained them a bit more.

The one thing that stands out the most though is how important it is to believe in yourself and believe you have it in you to finish. Tracy taught me this, even though it seemed impossible for me to run a marathon at the time. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should not drop out if you are physically not able to finish! You still need to make choices that are right for you.

I wish you all the very best! You have done the training. Just BELIEVE that you will finish!

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

Preparing and running a marathon just takes a little common sense. The fact that we actually want to run a marathon might mean that we are lacking a little common sense.

My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 1980 and I made a few rookie mistakes. First, I signed up for it three weeks before the race thus my longest run was only 13 miles. Next, I just couldn’t resist playing touch football the night before the race. Nobody in Chicago actually plays touch football. To top it off, I told my brother to pick me up in Grant Park after the race not realizing that there will be 6000 other finishers.

The week before my 2nd marathon I decided to try out a new trail that I discovered in the woods of Upper Michigan. Well, six hours later I managed to find my way back to where I started.

For marathon #3, I decided to camp out the night before the race. It is hard enough to sleep the night before a marathon let alone on the cold hard ground. Needless to say, I was two miles into the race before I realized that I wasn’t wearing any socks.

Marathon # 4 was on some country roads with just a couple of aid stations. So, you needed a support team if you wanted water. I had a support team, but I just forgot to tell them where and when I might need water. It wasn’t until mile 23 before we connected and then I just drank a can of coke.

I went into marathon # 5 ready to race a marathon vs running a marathon. I was lucky in my first four marathons that I never hit the wall despite that I didn’t take in much fluid. I was more concerned about staying with the pack vs taking water, so I ran through the water stations. I cramped at mile 20 so bad that I could barely walk.

A friend talked me into running with him at TCM. It all sounds wonderful until we hit the 10k mark and I was a minute faster than my 10k time from 6 weeks earlier. It was a long and painful last 20 miles.

In 1996 I ran the 100th Boston Marathon. Rooms were hard to come by so I told a friend that it was ok for one his buddies to stay with us. Well, I was woken up the morning of the race by some strange guy doing jumping jacks in nothing but his fruit of the loom underwear.

At the St. George marathon in Utah, they bus the runners to the start which happens to be 2500 feet higher than the finish area. Since the temp was a nice 60 degrees, I decided that I would be fine in my cotton t-shirt and shorts. The bad news is that is was 38 degrees on top on the mountain.

I usually buy a new pair of shoes within a few weeks of running a marathon. Normally, it is the same type of shoe that I have been using for training, so I am pretty comfortable that I won’t have any problems with the new shoes in the marathon. A few miles into the last time I ran TCM, I knew something was wrong. In my last minute rush to get to the dome, I managed to wear one new shoe and one old one.

We each will learn something this Sunday. Either it will make us a better runner or we can pass what we learn to someone else.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Don't Be Like Steve

If you have read the previous post, below, you have already seen my sermon about being vigilant to avoid fluke injuries as the marathon approaches. So you know, avoid things like unicycles, rugby, frozen fish....

Read for yourself. This is from Steve "I Hate Running But I'm Training For Another Marathon" Williams. He wrote me to point out yet another way to get a fluke injury.

I was at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, when it was hot. So I was wearing sandals (open toes)...and of course I was in a hurry. On the top shelf in the frozen foods section were the frozen juices. I needed a couple of cans. I swung the door open and quickly grabbed a couple with one hand and spun around to put them into the cart. Well, those darn cans can be pretty slippery I found out, and one slipped out of my hand and dropped from the top shelf, scoring a direct hit onto my big toe! The immediate pain was so intense that I thought I had broken my toe, and I'm sure there were a couple of kids in the aisle who learned a few new words that night! It's been about three weeks now, and that toe still has some color to it, but luckily it's not too sore anymore. Just wanted to share with you another "foot protection" story, something a guy wouldn't even think about, until it actually happens; but believe me, I am now very aware of not dropping items (slow down, firm grip).

You can go crazy trying to imagine every possible fluke injury you can get. So I guess just slowing down and being careful is the best we can do. Are there any other fluke injuries out there, that you know of, that we should be careful to avoid this week?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't Be Like Mike

I want to write about some mistakes I have made. And I want you to appreciate the major editing skills this post will take. Because when I look back on my catalog of mistakes, I am impressed and a little depressed by its length. Luckily, I'm going to edit out all my past mistakes that are non-taper related.

So this leaves out all the lapses in judgment I had, well, pretty much every weekend of college. It also excludes the time when I was ten and told my dad I didn't finish raking the backyard, even though he told me to because ""I don't really want to and the Cowboys game is on." Cripes. I think I'm still grounded for that mini, short-lived rebellion. Shhhh. Don't tell my dad I'm going to Major's on Sunday night.

Even better, all non-taper related running mistakes will be left out, like going for a run on a sub-zero January afternoon in Iowa, wearing boxers and Umbro shorts.

Instead, here are the top five errors of my oh-so-humble taper ways...

Example One: Forest Tahdooahnippah I

The Star-Tribune ran a real nice story on Forest Tahdooahnippah last week. There is a lot to admire about this athelete. And reading his story will be well worth your time. Click here for the story.

One thing the story touches on is how he is managing his first-year of law school while training for and being part of a nationally ranked division I cross country team.

My first marathon was right when I was finishing up graduate school. I turned in my thesis to my committee on Friday morning, and ran 26.2 miles on Saturday morning. What am I leaving out here. Oh yeah, I only ran twice that last week before the marathon. I was waaaaay to busy frantically putting the finishing touches on my thesis to go for a run. I did a terrible job of balancing my training demands with my school/work demands. Instead I rationalized. "What's the harm in missing these runs? They're meaningless." I was so very wrong.

I trained so well for this marathon. It was a shame that I went and blew the taper. My legs felt so very heavy for the first few miles. Plus, mentally, I just didn't feel sharp.

a) Do not take unscheduled days off, unless you are injured or on the mend. Follow your training calendar.
b) During taper week, minimize your workload at home and on the job as much as you can, while maintaining your responsibilities. Easier said than done, I know, but do your best.

Example Two: Paralysis by Analysis
This week it will become very easy to feel hypersensitive about every nick and ding you feel, or anytime you are out of breath. If you are like me, then your first instinct is to think, "I'm out of breath after chasing my two cats around the house. I need to sleep in an oxygen tent tonight or my marathon is going to be disaster!!!!"

Solution: To decide if you have an issue to really worry about, follow this rule of thumb: flashback to mid-July and ask yourself, "Would I have been worrying about this back then?" If the answer is "no," then you'll probably be okay. No need to stress yourself out unnecessarily. But you can always check in with one of your coaches if you do have worries, no matter how big or small.

Example Three: Don't Play Tag With Edward Scissorhands
After saying don't sweat the small stuff, I am going to suggest you take extra care to avoid things that could lead to fluke injuries. With each passing day, the stakes are higher for avoiding with stubbed toes and bruised heels, as there is less and less time to recover from them.

Two years ago, a week before my marathon, I was walking around my house barefoot and got a tiny glass splinter in my big toe. I had to go to Urgent Care to get it carved out and my toe got one little-bitty stitch. I was fine two days later, and got mocked by my fellow Finns for being lame.

Solution: Take extra care to think about keeping your feet covered. So for the next week...
a) Don't go barefoot. It would be a shame if a fluke cooking accident knocked you out of TCM.
b) Walk, don't run, everywhere (unless of course you're doing a training run).
c) Watch your step extra carefully. Those curbs and tree roots seem to move and jump out at people the week before a marathon.

Example Four: The Wafers in a Kit Kat Bar Do Not Equate To Carbo Loading.
How much sleep you get tonight and what you eat tonight is just as important as what you do Saturday night.

Going back that first marathon I ever ran. I had a great pasta dinner the night before Grandma's. I went to bed nice and early. I even got plenty of sleep the night before the night before. Why did I feel so cruddy then? Maybe it was the Payday candy bar I had for dinner three days prior (did I mention I was in grad school?). Maybe it was two straight nights of five hours of sleep I got early in the week.

Solution: Treat every night from here on out like it is race night. Get to bed by 10 p.m. Eat a healthy diet from when you first wake up until you go to bed (from can see to can't)

Example Five: Did You Get the Memo Yet?
My worst marathon can be linked to one thing: lack of a plan. My training, diet, sleep, and attitude were great going into the marathon. I was just missing one thing. I only had one plan. I only had one goal.

Here was my detailed plan: to go out with a friend of mine who was a bit faster than me, and see what happens.

I was so ill-prepared mentally. I ended up way-off pace by mile 18 and didn't know what to do next other than bleed profusely from my nipples and just try to finish. Not a fun experience, but I learned from it. Now I have policies and multiple goals.

Solution: Use taper week to come up with your plans and policies. Be flexible. Consider the wide range of weather and how you may feel that day. How do you plan to handle each scenerio you think of?

Oh, and the solution for the bloody nipple thing is simple: use Body Glide and pin your number to your shorts (not you shirt), so you can toss your shirt should Body Glide fail.