Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nike Free 5.0 Retire... Nike Free 7.0's are in! Minimalist Running.

I started running in my vibrams and Nike Free 5.0's back in Jan when I had an ankle injury. The theory was that the minimalist shoes would do a good job of building up my foot/ankle muscles, rather than stuffing a shoe full of cushion so it was easier to run on... that is, until the cushion wears away in about 2 months. Since starting with my Nike Free's I've noticed a few changes...

1) Foot Strike- I'm now running with a front foot strike (toward the front of the foot, rather than slamming on my heels). This new strike (I feel) has helped me stay on my toes during my races, which keeps me going faster. 
2) Arch- I've never had an arch, but with the minimal support my arch has built itself back up. 
3) Light & Free- The light feel of the Free's have definitely helped run lighter. One of the things I read about minimalist running is that the foot can feel the ground easier through the thin shoe, which makes us pound less... much better on the joints!!!

Alas, my Nike Free 5.0's have been going strong since January and have made 18 (yes, 18) full marathons along with all the training (~1400 miles). I could wear them forever (because cushion wear is not an issue) but the seems have actually started coming apart... that and they've gotten pretty raunchy. So, let's all welcome Nike Free 7.0's!

Out with the Old, in with the New 7.0 and 5.0
New in 7.0
- Added Cushioning-- you can see from the profile of the shoes, the 7.0 has just a little more cushioning, but still maintains the flexibility the 5.0's had. 
- Arch insert-- the insert has a little bit of an arch so it shapes to your foot better. I'm not a huge fan of this (and didn't realize it til they came in the mail). I'll probably pull the inserts out and use my old ones or let my feet beat the arch out of the shoe. 
- Wider front-- One issue I had with the 5.0's was foot swelling, especially in races. My feet would swell and they were fitted so tight, I would lose my toenails all the time. The 7.0's have a slight wider area just in the front that I think will work out much better... and maybe I can stop painting the skin where my toenails were! 

First Run... 7.0's!
When you start out with a new shoe, the experts recommend that you 1) Test the shoe out before you buy it and 2) Start out with a short run to get yourself used to the shoes. Well, we don't do anything normal here on Steph's 50 Marathon challenge-- so I went ahead and threw the shoes on for a 12 mile training run this morning! How did it go? Thoughts?...
-The funky arch thing is annoying and gave me a small blister just on my left arch. Granted, I ran the whole course on the left side of the road, meaning my foot was pushing inward to make up for the slant in the road. I will pound it into submission or replace them with my 5.0 inserts
-Better fit! I actually went up 1/2 of a size from my 5.0's and after a long run my toes felt great
-Generally, they held up well and I liked them. With the extra cushioning I'm running a LITTLE back on my foot, but not like I would in a normal shoe. It's a little less minimalistic than the 5.0's, but that's probably good for the distances I take these babies in! 

This is my last weekend off before 4 marathon weekends in a row, so I'm heading to Boston to visit friends and family! Don't worry... I'm bringing the 7.0's with me! 

Happy Training,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Race Director Lies...

 Last night I realized we were past the 24 to 36 hours that Omaha claims to post their final race results. I cared because I was on the cusp of 3:23/3:24 and wanted to know what my final time was. They just now posted a note with links to the results. For the marathon they just linked to are those the "final" results? Sometimes there are differences b/t the certified race results and marathonguide's but we'll go with it. Final time... 3:24:01-- Ahh if I didn't stop for the bathroom that 1 time! Oh well! 

Anyways, it got me thinking of all the funny little things race directors promise and often do not keep. I thought I would share my list...

10) "Lots of Entertainment along the course"- this often means you'll be greeted with a "Band" (1 guy playing a guitar... or better yet a Kazoo) and "Cheer Squads" (5 year old girls that look bored to death) a few times along the course. 
9) "The race is 26.2 Miles." Now I'm an AVID tangent runner and I have RARELY seen a race under 26.3 miles. 
8) "Race Results will be posted in 24 hours"-- Often it's 2 to 3 days later
7) "Plenty of aid stations/port-a-johns" along the course. I've surprisingly found that when they mention that, there is usually an issue finding them. But, the races that don't bring it up at all... have them every half mile. 
6) "The race is "mostly" flat". -- and coincidentally-- 
5) The race is "mostly hilly"
4) Post-race food available -- usually for the top 100 runners, if you're slower than a 4:00 marathoner, you are SOL, my friend. 
3) "Great/Beautiful/wonderful/etc" T-shirts!" -- if they're telling you how great the T-shirts are, chances are they are poop brown with an unidentifiable picture on it... and they itch! 
2) "Unique Finisher medals" -- if the word "Unique" comes up in any marathon, it's never good. This will often lead to this crap... Yes, friends that is the WORST 2009 marathon medals from Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge. (I've still clearly NOT gotten over this thing they tried to pass off as a finisher medal)
And the #1 Race Director Lie is...
1) There WILL BE a marathon. Thank You Myrtle Beach Marathon of 2010! 

What is our lesson here? Promise nothing?... heck no! If you've run the Wyoming Marathon that LITERALLY has the motto "Where the race director promises you nothing and he delivers"-- and they truly stick to it-- then you'll know that's not the answer. I find that when there is just the "Must have" information like # of GU/water stops and a general description of the course, that is all I need. I like to be pleasantly surprised by added Entertainment, great shirts, fancy medals, etc. Also-- nobody can complain when they don't get what's promised! 

Calling all Chicago Runners!!!! 
If you go to the top the page to the nav bar and click on "Upcoming Races" -- or heck, here is the link.-- check if your name is on there. If it's not, let me know and I'll add you. 

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Sunday, September 26, 2010

40th State + 20th (2010) Race = 10 MINUTE PR!!!!!

Today was the Omaha Marathon and State #40 on my Tour De US! If you read my last post I mentioned that judging from the 2009 results, this looked like a FAST course-- and I was definitely NOT wrong! After my 3 full weekends off from racing, I knew I was feeling good but I had no idea I was capable of ... 3:23:58 (unofficial race results). Prior to this race my best time was 3:34:09. 

To tell ya the truth I'm not exactly sure what was SO fast about the course. My garmin clocked 26.32 so it wasn't a short course. There were some BIG hills between mile 6 and 13, so it wasn't a completely flat course either. The one benefit I felt was NOT being in high altitude, which is how most of my races have been lately.

Apparently I wasn't the only one that had a fast day. Even with a 3:24 I only took 6th overall (unofficial). That kind of time on a medium-sized race like this should have placed me, but these women were fast-- we're talking top 3 all under 3:20! Craziness. I was able, however, to take first in my A/G! Jeff Galloway presented us with our awards (pictures to come later). 

So when I DO manage to PR, I like to analyze why it is I may be improving my time and hope to learn valuable lessons-- I may as well get something out of the 50 states besides missing toenails. Some of the changes I've made since my last PR (University of Okoboji Marathon, circa July). 

1) Rest- I took THREE weekends off from racing. I've done this before with 4 being my longest streak away from the marathon distance, but a little rest never fails to benefit a race!

2) Group Speed Work- In this recent post, I mentioned that I had been doing speedwork with a running group out of Mojo Running in West Chester, OH. Coach Bob has had us doing shorter mileage speed work (400 m to 1 Mile sprints) than I've been used to (Yasso 800's and mile repeats). I think these shorter distance and running most of them at 6 min/mile pace, have gotten me very comfortable running in the low 7's. 

3) POM Wonderful? I have written about it yet, but POM wonderful DID come through with a package to sample. I've been drinking a bottle after every workout. I'll post when I'm finished and have put some thought into it. 

What Does this Mean? 
Well this means 2 things to me...
1) If I can run 3:24, I CAN run 3:15! Ok, at least sub 3:20. I had goals to get to my current time around May of next year... I'll have to reevaluate my goals now. 
2) Boston Marathon... Wave #1! The 2-wave start of Boston was split just about where my old PR was-- so next year could have gone either way. I think with my new time, I have a much better chance of being in wave 1!

That's it for the night! Post-race thoughts, race ratings, and official results coming soon! 

Happy Running
"Run to Win" -Meb

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Omaha Marathon ~ Race RUNdown (NE- #40!)

Inspiration Points...
1. The BIG 4-0!!! If you even ask if that is my age, just know-- I'm not afraid to smack you!!! It's my 40th State!!! (43rd Marathon!)
2. 50-Stater Reunion! This is the 2010 50 States Marathon Club 3rd quarter reunion! Lot's O' 50-staters and Marathon Maniacs expected here!
3. 5 Marathon, 6 Weeks... Let the fun begin! This is just the start to the world of hurtin' I'm going to inflict on myself. Just keep saying "I can do ANYthing!"

NE Race RUNdown...
Omaha Marathon ~ Sunday September 26, 2010. (#40) 7:00am Start for all races!
Omaha, NE ~ Downtown/Lewis and Clark Landing
Registration Fees: $70-$80 Early ($90-$100 late) Availability: ALL races- Sign up here!
Year Running: 35th!
Races Available: Full, Half and 10K
2010 Expected Field: 400+ (marathon)
2009 Field:  459
... Females: 144  ... Age Group: 35 (F25-29)
2009 Avg. Finish Time: *4:17:31!!* (wtf?)
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/Yes
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: 1PM (6 hour) course cutoff time. No info on early starts
Weather Update: The current weather is calling for partly cloudy skies with a high of 67 and a low of 48. The day before is looking at thunder storms and I'm hoping that doesn't leak over into Sunday as well! 

MarathonGuide Rating: 3.5 Stars!
They claim that this raise isn't as flat as people would assume with their "baby bluffs", but judging by last years times-- I'm thinking it's pretty quick! 4:17?? I mean this isn't some small town race with only the better runners competing. This is the description from the marathon website...

"the marathon course consists of approximately 17 miles of relatively flat terrain, 8 miles of rolling countryside and approximately 2 miles of "real" hills. the running surface consists of concrete and asphalt pavement."

All three races (full, half, 10K) start simultaneously. We do the 10K loop and as the 10K'ers finish, we keep going. Around mile 8 the halfies turn back and we keep going. I would imagine this leads to quite the congestion in the beginning of the races, but I'm hoping to jump into the front so it won't be so bad. Also-- those halfies and 10k'ers BEST have tags on their backs indicating they are NOT part of the marathon so I don't feel like I'm racing a bunch of fast people. 

Race 411:
Holy Fast Course Batman! The avg time last year was 4:17!!! Seriously? That just doesn't happen in larger-ish races! 
I have no shoes! This year they have a bare foot division! I would rock the vibrams, but I don't think my calves and achilles are quite up to running a full marathon in those babies. 
~ Mile 8 Heaven or Hell? Mile 8 contains an Italian bakery! Would this be heaven?... pssh if they come out and give me some! If I have to smell that goodness I may get just a litttttle cranky!
~ Rockin' Out- Music at several points during the course!
~Aid Stations- Every 1-2 miles! Sort of crazy, but I like it! 
~"Hair Ceremony??"- Not gonna lie, I find this kind of weird and it has nothing to do with a race, but the director is donating her hair to locks of love. Great cause... just no idea what it has to do with a marathon!

Race Plan:
Trying to save it up for Chicago in 2 weeks. If I feel good, I'll go for a decent time-- if I'm feeling crappy, I might hold some in reserve for Chicago. ... now who actually believes that's going to happen? If you do, clearly you have not been following my blog long enough!

Throw Back! Bring it back now ya'll...
Reverse the Countdown!
This is my 40th marathon-state, meaning I have 11 to go including this race. What was going on around state #11!?!? I was running (and pacing) The San Francisco Marathon  on July 26, 2009! I was NOT a fan of this race and pacing become quite difficult when old garmin flipped a sh*t due to the fog and humidity. For being such an excitable marathon, there just wasn't much that stuck out to me. There are SO many marathon in Cali, I definitely wish I had chosen another! Don't worry... I'll be back!
Myself and my group at San Fran Marathon
This time in 2009...
Last year I had just finished the Boulder Backroads Marathon (definitely a tough one!) and gearing up for my FIRST Double Marathon- NH and ME! I had a great time at the double (esp NH with all the Cinci Galloway runners) and made some pretty good time. I learned that if I'm normally "hungry" in a marathon... by marathon #2 I'm FAMISHED and if there is no food on the course I will beg a child for his donuts and feel no shame! 

Meet up Info: I will not be attending the 50-staters meeting (at least I'm not planning on it right now).  I don't think I know any bloggers planning on doing Omaha, but if you are use the email link at the top nav bar and lemme know! I'll add you to the Upcoming Races list and hopefully meet up! I know there will be several maniacs there, but no meet up time has been established thus far! 

Happy Racing!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mesa Falls Marathon ~ Race Ratings (ID -#39)

Tag line: "Potato sack packets, big breakfast, and Huckleberry milkshakes... oh there is a marathon too!!!"

(These are about a month past due... sorry!)
Antler Arches in Jackson, WY-- That's MB not me
Mesa Falls Marathon ~ August 28, 2010
Ashton, ID ~ Targhee National Forest
Type: 13.6 Miles of Pavement 9.8 Miles of Gravel roads (wide), and 2.8 Miles of trail (Non-Technical)
Year Running: 11th (certified)
Registration Fee: $55 ($75 late and no shirt)
Charity Race? N/A
Runners:  214, 101 Females
Available Races: Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K
Average Finish Time: 4:34:53
BQ %: N/A

Overall Race Ratings: 4.5/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 4.3/5.0
~ This is a VERY well organized race that is all about the runners from the shuttle bus pick up (with a full breakfast) to the ticket you get at the finish for a free huckleberry milk shake. This small race has a relaxed feel and a non-uptight director who waited for the port-a-john lines to die down before starting. The aid stations are stocked the way an ultra would be and the volunteers are exceptionally nice and supportive. Great course with a variety of surfaces and a great view. 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ This race is in the middle of nowhere, so you're going to have issues getting to the race and you're going to have to get up early for the shuttle bus. Aside from moving the race out of ID, the things you can do?... Make sure there is enough food at the end for all the marathoners! If this means having a separate food corral for the halfies and the fulls do that! Also-- the shirts (although unique) need a little work :)

Event Organization: 3.8/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~ 2 Hours from Jackson, about 45 Min to the closest airport
Rental Car Required: YES
Getting to this race is definitely not easy--- but most of the ID marathons are the same way. You could fly into a fairly close airport and pay a LOT or you could fly into Jackson, WY and pay a little less. We flew into Jackson, which I would recommend, because there is a LOT more to do in Wyoming than Idaho. We actually ended up canceling our hotel res in ID and stayed the night after the marathon in Jackson. It's a really cute town with a lot more to do. WARNING: Driving from Jackson you'll need to go over the Tetan's which is not easy! They give you suggestions on how to drive the rental car! The website was very informative, but even they say there are not many places to stay in the race area. This race is just in the middle of nowhere! 

A few great points however- 1) you have to wake up early for the bus to drive you to the start. Since it's so early they have a FULL breakfast available at the meeting point-- we're talking cereal, bagels, fruit, muffins, donuts, oatmeal... I could go on forever! 2) When you finish, they give you a ticket to get a free huckleberry milkshake from a place down the street. A-MAZ-ING! I didn't know what a huckleberry was, but now I'm sold! 3) Post-race there is a big raffle that the pull while you're running, so you'll know if you won anything as soon a you finish. 

(Pic Left: a "Don't touch my milkshake" face)

Our Goody Bags were
Potato sacks!!
Race Organization: 4.9/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Varied
Where the event organization lacked, they definitely made up in the race organization! So many things, we may have to number...
1) Breakfast! I'll include that partially in here since it's kind of like a first aid station. Full breakfast provided where the bus picks us up to bring us to the start. There is also a dinner if you get there.
2) Aid stations: They were stocked like it was an ultra with gel, fruit, cereal bars, etc. I've never seen that in a normal (non trail) marathon.
3) Port-a-john- plenty available throughout and a few camping areas with real bathrooms as well. 
4) Relaxed Director! When we got to the start they realized there were 4 runners stuck in traffic so we waited and extra 10 min for them. In the meantime we all lined up for port-a-johns. The director was kind enough to wait until the line was pretty much gone to start the race! 
5) The race announcer made sure to try and get EVERY single marathoners name and hometown as they crossed. Very energetic and fun to listen to if you're waiting
6) LONG post-race massages available! 

Gel Type/Flavors/Availability: Gatorade AND powerade with Multiple options! EVERY 2 miles!
~Post Race Food: .They had 80 different types of pizza available (a local place supplied) as well as fruits, cookies, etc. I was a little disappointed that the pizza did not last THAT long... I was able to get some, but about 20 min later it was gone. Too many halfies, I guess! -.1

Course: 4.8/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating...

Garmin Distance: 26.30
Type: Point to Point
~ Elevation Gain/Loss

~ This is definitely the type of course is a little harder than it appears on paper-- esp if you're not used to altitude!!!. I kept expecting to be running downhill and it never really felt to downhill-ish (yes, that's a technical term). Don't get me wrong-- it's still a fast course! I was feeling horrible and tired and felt like I was hardly putting any effort in and I still ended up with a half decent time. 

This point to point course is mostly run half on pavement, and the rest mostly on packed gravel roads with 2.8 on a flat-downhill trail. It's very scenic as you're running through the mountain and there is an overpass you hit around mile 11 that 1) may give you vertigo and 2) gives you a great view down into a canyon with waterfalls! 

Spectators: 3.7/5.0
~ This is definitely a quieter race as the bus needs to bring you out to the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere to run, but the aid station folks were fantastic and the best part... if you can get there fast enough, the half-marathoners (halfies) start 2 hours after us. If you get there before they take off then there is a HUGE cheering section there at your 13.1 mile mark! They go crazy and you're on the biggest decline of the race so you're flying-- it's quite exciting! There were trucks, vans, and cars driving up and down cheering which was great.... and they were the only cars on the road so you didn't have to worry about getting hit while running the tangents

 Pace Group: NA/5.0
~ NA

Runner/Corrals: 4.5/5.0
~ No Corrals. The runners were VERY nice. Actually I had very little sleep the 2 night before due to work and traveling and was quite grumpy. A few of them approached MB and I because they remembered us from other marathons-- I may have gotten snippy. So I get a 1.0 on this and the runners get a 4.0 :)

Expo: NA/5.0
~ NA

Swag: 3.7/5.0
~T-Shirts: These T-shirts were actually Polo's! They definitely get points for something unique, but they weren't exactly fitted for women or something I would choose to wear. 3.3
~Medals: The medals were also very different with a wooden medallion instead of a metal. The symbol was burned into the wood with the date and location. 4.0
~ Goodie Bag: The bag itself was actually a potato sack!!! Hello Idaho! There wasn't much else in the bag to note. 

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:45:35
Place: Overall- 27/214, Gender- 5/101, A/G (F25-29)- 2/15

Monday, September 20, 2010

5 Marathon in 6 Weeks... Top of the Roller Coaster Looking Down!!!!

Do you ever get yourself into something and as it approaches you start getting more and more anxious? Like you're heading toward the top of the roller coaster and now you're about to take the plunge? Well this week I'm almost at the top and heading into a good stretch of another Marathon o' Marathons... and it's definitely up there as one of my toughest stretches.... 

10/2-3: Off (Boston for Julie's Bday)
10/10: Chicago Marathon (10.10.10)
10/30: Spinx Run Fest (marathon distance)

Prepping for the Plunge...
Omaha will be my next chance to PR, having had the last 3 weekends off from races. I've changed up some of my workouts to try and get my time down...

RandR Weekend: I got some R&R with only an 8 mile long run with Rachael. Caught up with friends and went to a Bengals game... as this is my last weekend of fun for a while :( 
Speed Work: I've joined a local running group and I've been doing some pretty intense track workouts with them. 
Long Runs: Off! I've purposely kept all of my runs in the past 3 weeks under 17 miles and almost all under 12 miles. The rest is much needed before heading into this many races
Total Mileage: I've kept my total mileage under 45 miles/week and up'd the intensity of the workouts and put in a little more weight lifting and cycling. 

This Week
Mon: Long Run 8-9 Miles
Tues: Speedwork on the track
Wed: Cycling
Thur: Long run with Rachael
Friday: Easy 2-3
Sat: Off
Sun: Omaha!

And.... How Do you Feel about this?
Well, a little nauseous and maybe slightly dizzy. Haha Nah! I'm ok. I've been going with the mantra "I can do ANYthing" lately. I'm sure if you ask me this around 10/25 I'll have a different answer, but for now I'm ok. What helps? Knowing I have something special at all of them. Chicago is going to be great because Carey Beth (CB) will be joining me for another marathon... along with lots of marathon maniacs! Detroit... I get to visit Canada on the run! Isn't that cool? Bimbler's Bluff -- Well I'm just happy I finally figured out a CT marathon that works in my schedule and I don't have to continue to beg the mean Nip Muck Man to let me in! Spinx is Halloween and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be dressing up! 

I'm still sore from a few toughy workouts I had last week... between the speed work sessions, the Crossfit workout, and one impromptu run in with a rowing machine (please don't ask), I was definitely a little worn by this weekend so the rest was good! 

If all goes well... in 6 weeks from now I'll only have 5 more states to go!!!

Happy Running!
"Run to Win" -Meb

Friday, September 17, 2010

A New Workout.... Crossfit!

Yesterday we had a health fair at work (amazing, right?). They brought in some local restaurants to give samples of healthy food options as well as local gym/running/workout facilities to provide more information and to even take us on an hour sample workout if we wanted. Lauren from Stylized Existence was helping put on the event and pre-warned me about the cross fit class I had signed up for. She's been using the crossfit workout program/gym for a few weeks now. I had heard about how tough of a workout it was supposed to be and since I'm always looking for a tougher workout I thought I'd give it a whirl.

What is Crossfit...
So, if you've never heard of Crossfit let me try and explain it (if I get some details wrong here forgive me). Crossfit isn't just a gym you go to and workout at your own pace. They are facilities set up with specific programs their members are supposed to follow. Each day there is a new workout posted designed to make you a the best athlete you can be, working on strength, agility, speed, power, all of the above. This type of "gym" comes at a pretty high cost (we're talking $160/month) but it's sort of a hybrid between just having a gym membership and having a personal trainer... so the cost falls somewhere between that as well. You can find a Crossfit location in most major cities. Crossfit Nasti (a Cincinnati local) was the group that came and put on our program for the day.

This isn't exactly a gym set up to just "get in shape" or "drop a few lbs." It's more of a place to go if you want to become (or become a better) athlete. The types of exercises are pretty simplistic (kettle bell swings, air squats, deadlift) but put together and run at a pace to definitely bring your heart rate up and keep your muscles screaming. This is the type of strength workout and still has a conditioning component that I like! I'm definitely going to look more into the gym and think about becoming part of... maybe once I'm done paying for 3 flights a month to different states :) If you go to the front page of the crossfit nasti website you'll see a lovely pic of yours truly... but since I like to post pictures here I'm hoping they won't mind if I steal it...

The trainers are in the front and the chick to the left that looks like she can bench me. No, I'm not the only girl... there is one in the back that you can kind of see...

Crossfit Trainers and GE employees that try and keep up
 The workout...
The crossfit team took us through some of the basic "how to's" on some of the equipment. They showed us how to do things correctly so we didn't hurt ourselves then they took us through this team-style workout. This is how it goes...

Teams of 4 complete...
100 Push ups
100 Sit ups
100 Burpees
200 m run?

... in a relay type fashion. We had 1 person run down about 25 m then back. In the meantime the 2nd person in line starts doing push ups as fast as they can. When the runner gets back they get a break and the person doing the push ups takes off while the 3rd person starts doing push ups-- starting the count where the last person ended. This goes on with the push up/sit up/burpee slash running intervals (with rest when you get back from the run) until your team gets through the whole workout. It took all the teams roughly 10 minuets.

Overall? I thought it was a challenge-- it's not something your body is used to. There are no times at the gym where you take off running then throw yourself to the ground just to stand up, jump and clap your hands (that would be a burpee if you were wondering). It didn't feel super hard while we were doing it (probably b/c I'm too competitive and was more worried about losing). But afterward my arms and legs were a little jelly-ish. But that could also be b/c I did a boot camp class after crossfit. This was also not a real crossfit workout (more of a sample). I would definitely check out the gym and go through a real workout to see what it's like. Next day? The only thing that really hurts are my pecs and my lats a little... I'm not a big pushup or bench person and I'm not overly concerned about how big my chest muscles are so those are a little tender. Overall I would say it's a pretty good workout and definitely something to check out! Go online and see if there is a crossfit gym in your area and how they can help improve your running!

Happy Running (and Strength Training)
"Run to Win" -Meb

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Training Tips #1) Inside Knee Pain w/ Guest, Scott and Group Speed Work!

Q&A on Inner Knee Pain
Out of all the people I know (and some I don't) that follow my fun little Tour De US on here, some of them actually ask me advice on running/training/injury prevention etc. Of those people there are a few that actually listen and even then there are a fewer people that I actually manage to help. I'm not a Dr. but I've been running long enough to see-- sadly in some cases firsthand-- what causes injuries, what prevents them and how to treat them.

Scott in front of the Wall 'o' Bibs

Question: Meet Scott! Scott sits next to me at work and is a novice runner. He and his wife have started the couch to 5K program and have added the extra strength conditioning benefit of bringing their son in his jogger along for the ride! Scott came to me a few weeks ago and asked if I knew anything about knee pain... specifically on the inner part of his knee. Although I haven't had any serious knee injury (knock on wood), I could tell that there isn't much there, and it's a difficult place to injure unless you're doing some sort of lateral movement (usually in running, you're not!). At the time he was icing and didn't enjoy that part of training at all. The only thing I could think of was that Scott was somehow forcing a lateral movement or a stability muscle to do more than it needed-- by running only on 1 side of the road. When you run only on the the one side when a road is naturally arched, the outer foot needs to compensate for the road slanting downward. The knee will actually be used to pull in the foot and correct for the uncomfortable position.

Solution: I suggested either changing to running on 1 side out and the other side back (so both knees would do a little work instead of all the damage done on 1-- or running in the middle of the road (as long as it's safe!). Also-- If you've seen the newest runners world, there is a tip on strengthening the knee. The knee is NOT an easy place to target strength train, but this exercise isn't too bad. They suggested doing half-squats on a forward slanted surface. You can use a slanted driveway, a slant board, or a bosu ball and put all your weight on one side. You should be facing with your toes downward (as if you're standing in high heels). Do half squats (not full-- or your knee will go past your toe!). Watch yourself in the mirror for good form. I believe they suggest doing a couple sets of 10-15 reps.

Injury Status: Scott has been running in the middle of the road and no longer feels that inner knee pain! He has been ice-free for 2 weeks! Good job Scott!

Speed Work with Coach Bob!

Mojo Running... Next week I'll get a pic of the group
 Last week I decided I needed something to change up my routine. I had 3 weeks off b/t marathons (crazy, I know) and I wanted to get some extra hard speed work in. I decided to contact one of the running stores near my work... Mojo Running! I went here for my trail sneakers before the 50 miler and found out they had a running group. This group meets on Tuesday nights and we have the option to go for a group run or to do speed work with Coach Bob on the track. Coach Bob is a local HS XC coach and seems to very much know what he's doing... I could tell when I was pretty sure I died after last nights work out. 

Coach Bob likes to encourage consistency in your speed work-- keeping a consistent pace over many intervals, rather than running all out for 1 then dying on the rest. Last nights workout looked like this...

Warm up ~1mile (running to the track, then 2 laps)
2 x 200 @ 70-80%
2 x 400 @ 80%
2 x 800 @ 80-90%
2 x 400 @ 80%
2 x 200 @ 80% to all out
Cool down ~1mile

When I saw that workout on the board I thought "ah that's not too bad"-- yeah until you have VERY speedy speedsters dashing off in front of you and you are sucking wind to keep up! By the last 200m of the 2nd 800 my legs were SHAKING and I just had to hope they didn't fall apart. I tried to keep my 400's and 800's at a 6 min/mile pace and was pretty successful. For the 200's... I tried to keep them under 40 seconds with my last one around 32? Nutso!

For speedwork I've been doing Yasso 800's or Mile repeats and keeping my pace around 6:50-7:20 min/mile, but I'm hoping this extra fast speedwork (albeit with less mileage) will help me push my pace! I have the mileage in, now I need to work on the turnover and not sucking wind.

Upcoming Races: Omaha Marathon next weekend, then 1 week off, followed by 4 weeks in a row! 5 States in 6 weeks... eesh, good thing I had this break!!!

Happy Running!
"Run to Win" - Meb

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Runners Like to Drink!

... of course I mean water gatorade, electrolyte drinks etc -- but I like where your heads at!!! Ok, so SOME of us (yours truely) don't like many liquids at all (including water) but we have to include them in our diets or we aren't able to run. The few drinks I do enjoy usually involve some sort of liquor and pomegranate.... pomegranate margarita, pomegranate martini, etc. I've also written before about how pomegranate is supposed to have immune system benefits and I make a point to pick up the vitamin water with pomegranate when I'm flying back from a marathon so I have a little immune boost when I'm run down from so much running. Well, apparently I'm not the only one picking  up on the advantages of pomegranate....

POM Wonderful....Last week POM Wondeful emailed me promoting the health benefits of pure pomegranate juice. Now I'd still rather mix it with a little tequila, but I can see pure pomegranate being good on its own! They're sending me a case of it for me to try and I'll be letting you know how it is. We're heading toward marathon #20 for the year and I'm definitely starting to feel a little run down so hopefully this should help keep me going. If you check out their website here you can check out the benefits on your own. Some of the advantages I pulled from the site...

  • POM is an "Antioxidant Superpower" - against other known antioxidant drinks, POM is one of the top performers.
  • Each bottle of POM is like eating 4 pomegranates
  • There are several recipes for cooking, baking, and drinking available on the site. 
Runners World <3's POM too. If you haven't read the recent Runners World "Fridge Wisdom" article, they also site Pomegranate Juice as a running performance booster! The article sites that something called "ellagiatannin" (some sort of complex polymer) in pomegranates helps reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, easing muscle pain. Who couldn't use a little of that??? Another (non-alcoholic) drink Runners World Suggests...

Chocolate Milk! This has been BIG at marathons lately. The new 'hip' thing to do is have either muscle milk or straight chocolate milk available post-race at marathons. I never thought I would enjoy milk right after racing, but it's really refreshing and it's a little thicker than water/gatorade which fills you up when you don't feel like eating right after. Runners World Studies site a reduction in muscle protein breakdown from the C-Milk, which helps protect your muscles. ... and it tastes D-Licious!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Final (MN) Marathon Selected!!!

... or should I say they selected me! Coach Dick and the runners of St. Olaf College sent out THE email last night letting us know who was selected for the Zoom Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon and guess whos name is on there? Das right... Stephanie!! Yayyyy Stephanie. I guess my plees to the running gods helped.

A little about the race...
Direction: Put on by Coach Dick Daymont and the St. Olaf College track team.
Field Size: 40 runners are selected in total due to limited space on the indoor track.
Qualifying: Run a sub 6-hour marathon... then selected by lottery.
Course: 150 laps on the school's indoor track facility, changing directions every 30 laps!
MN is (pretty much) the only state I hadn't gotten a solid marathon planned for. The only other one that is semi up in the air is SC. I was going to try for Myrtle Beach again (remember the cancelled Myrtle Beach Marathon experience?) but Marathon Maniac Gary threatened to defriend me if I did so. You may notice him at races often sporting a slightly altered MB Marathon T-shirt. He's added a word before the marathon name that starts with an "F" and ends with an "uck." He's also making it his lifetime goal to get the race shut down. Anyways... I'm 90% likely to be doing Spinx Run Fest on Oct 30th instead. I just can't contemplate why a small race in Greenville, SC has an $85 entry fee!!!

I will be adding these 2 races to the schedule (found in the "upcoming races" link at the top). As with all of the races, let me know if you'll be attending Zoom Yah! Yah! or the Spinx Run Fest.

Happy INDOOR Running,
"Run to Win" - Meb