A Great Idea: parkrun

November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes a simple idea is so obviously great, it makes you wonder why no one  thought of it before.  One of those ideas flickered across my Twitter feed today.

Enter parkrun.

parkrun is a British organization that organizes free, weekly, 5k runs.

I love this idea on a few different levels.

First, earlier this week, I whined about the whole process of getting into some races now-a-days.  You can almost hear me cuing-up my old, crotchety voice, “back in my day, you could just decide on a whim to show up at any race on race day and just sign right up”.   From what I skimmed, these are much smaller, informal races that discard the hype.

Second, from a training perspective, the best way to get into racing shape is to race.  I know I’m able to race much faster than I can train.  For whatever reason–the excitement, the competition, the feeling of being judged, I can just race faster than I can run.  Having a consistent, affordable, regular series of races/runs provides awesome workouts and measuring tool.  Reminds me of the awesome Salomon Autumn Trail Series that I’ve run the last three years.  The series consists of 4 races, two weeks apart, at a local park.  I’ve said it before but the Salomon Trail Series give me a chance to re-create a mini-Cross Country season.

Which leads me into the final, and perhaps most important, reason I love the idea–it gives runners an excuse to get together on a regular basis.  A few different events over the last three months have emphasized how much more personal an in-person bond can be, experiencing things together.   Getting together with friends, comparing notes, having a bit to eat, and going for a run together is a great benefit.

I’ve been toying with a similar, less grand version of this for a little while but maybe I should raise my goals although taking time to organize things takes a lot longer than I knew.

Would you participate, at least occasionally, in a weekly run/race?  For either training, psychological or social reasons?

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Racing to Register

November 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Registration opens today for the 2012 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon & Half Marathon, which I am not running for a  record 11th straight year.

Not that I have anything against this race, in fact I would have signed up for the half today if it weren’t for the fact that the route will not go through Lambeau Field this year.  Last year, I considered running the half primarily for that reason but by the time I wanted to (Mid February), the race was closed.  And while Green Bay is one marathon that allows numbers to be transferred, I wanted to set my schedule in stone and not hope I could find a second-hand number.

But this raises an increasingly common issue–races that fill up to capacity.

I understand races need to limit the field of races because of logistical, planning, and safety reasons–overbooking a race is worse than limiting the field.  But, for the runner, it’s a pain in the gluteus maximus.

It seems that to get into some of the more popular races, you first have to win the registration race just to get into it–and as a race becomes known for filling up, the registration race gets more competitive.  Which really sucks for a marathon or even half-marathon because they can fill up months before the actual race and if life gets in the way of your training, you end up donating your registration fee to the race unless they let you transfer or roll-over your registration although that isn’t the standard.

Some races–Garry Bjorklund 13.1, my Goal Race for the first half of 2011–require you enter a lottery for registration.  And while I got in, going through the lottery process isn’t fun either as it makes planning difficult.  In most cases, I think you find out fairly quickly but there still is usually a period where you end up training without knowing whether or not you’re actually going to get into the race.

Generally, it is a good thing that more runners are out there doing more races but it has added a dynamic to some races that takes away a bit of the fun.  As I’m thinking about my 2012 racing plans, the ability to actually get into the race is another factor to take into consideration.

Running smaller, less likely to fill up races is an option with a different set of pro’s and con’s and I enjoy doing that for training races but would be a little bummed if that decision gets forced onto me because of race capacity restrictions.

I do have an idea of what I want to do next spring & there haven’t been registration problems the last couple years so, if my training goes well this winter, I might not have to worry about getting in but if things fall through, my backup plan could definitely be effected by registration caps.

Has anyone been burnt by training for a race they couldn’t get into?

Have you “discovered” a great  race that you ended up running because you couldn’t get into a different race?

RRCA Coaching Certification Class

August 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

I just spent the last two days taking the Road Runners Club of America’s Coach Certification Class.

It was awesome.

First, Patti & Warren Finke, the instructors, are long-time runners, marathons, ultra-runners, and coaches.  Patti is an exercise physiologist, and has been the American age-group record-holder for 50km and 50mi.  She has been an Oregon Road Runners Club Age group runner of the year three times.  Warren has raced in over 170 marathons and ultramarathons–winning more than 20.  Twice he has been the U.S. track record hold for 100km.

Obviously, both are well qualified.

But their presentation is what really made the classes enjoyable.  The first day included a lot of lecture on topics like nutrition and physiology. The material was somewhat dull but they kept the class entertaining with antidotes from their 60+ combined years in the sport.

One of my favorite stories was about a competitor in the Race Across America bike race who started hallucinating in St Louis that his crew was a bunch of aliens trying to abduct him.  This racer later confessed that even after his crew caught him and got him to sleep a couple hours, that he thought all the way to Atlantic City that his crew was a bunch of aliens.

The second day was a bit more interactive as we broke into small groups and worked on developing training plans for Josefina, as interestingly played by Patti.

One of the side benefits I had not expected–and wish I had been able to take better advantage of–was meeting several other (better) bloggers.

Rebecca, me, Adam, and Ann

Rebecca from Michigan sat next to me the first day and works with Girls On the Run.  If I remember right, she works with over 80 different clubs in a 3 county area in the Detroit area.  I’m hoping to pry some more information from her as I try to get my program going.

Adam’s blog, The Boring Runner is tragically mis-named.  I wish my blog was half as entertaining as his.   Dude can run, too.

Unfortunately, I had less time to talk with Sporty Girl of Sporty Girl Jewelry Fame but she was extremely nice & she makes really cool sports-themed jewelry.

The long lectures on Saturday, coupled with the fact I hustled home to my family right after class instead of going to the restaurant, limited how much I got a chance to hang out with anyone.  I wish there had been a casual get together Friday night or a group run one of the mornings.  But I guess there’s always Twitter.

Again, the class was really amazing, I think I learned a lot–we’ll see when I take the test.  If I pass (and I complete my CPR & First Aid class later this month), I’ll be  a certified Running Coach.  I have a few goals in mind of what I want to do with that but even if I go no further than the experience I had this weekend, it was worth it and something I would recommend for any runner.  If you live in the Portland area (or Kona) , you might want to check out Team Oregon‘s training groups.

13.1 (Half) Marathon Minneapolis Give-Away

July 10, 2011 § 15 Comments

I mentioned that I might be running another half this summer despite plans to focus on shorter stuff.

This disturbing change in planning occurred because I was contacted by a representative at 13.1 Minneapolis offering two free entries and discounts to readers of my blog.  A sucker for “free”, I was definitely interested.

I did some research–searching for race reports from last year–and the reports I found were positive.  There were some minor complaints: port-a-potties, lack of music–but nothing unusual, which was good, especially considering that 2010 was the first running. Taking a look at the route map and elevation data from MapMyRun data showed that course isn’t exactly flat but the major hill is actually where I did my Daws Hills workouts this spring so I’m at least familiar with the enemy.

So I agreed to help promote the race (starting with this post) in exchange for two free entries and a code (12RUNMN) for $10 off registration at http://www.active.com/framed/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1972207.

I plan to use one of the free entries myself but I’m giving away the other free entry to a reader. All you have to do to enter is post a comment to this message before July 18th. I’ll randomly select (I just happened to find my Dungeons & Dragons dice yesterday) a winner from all the entries on July 19th.  I also checked and if the winner prefers to run the 5k, I can get a code for that race instead.

Good luck & Thanks for Entering.

2010 Race Reports:

Beth’s 13.1 Marathon Minneapolis- Race Report.

Positive mention at Active.com

Jen and Kellybee both ran the 5k and  had positive comments.

Ryan, a 15-year old trying to raise $100,000 for a variety of charities, ran a 1:44.

ramberg_jk15 struggled with the hills but enjoyed the race

 
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Race Schedule, second half of 2011

July 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Now that I’m healthy and waiting for my Garmin to charge, thought I should declare the rest of my summer/fall training & racing plans.

It’s time to work on speed.  So I’m targeting a bunch of shorter races–mostly cross country-style (the best) races.

While I would like to run ALL these races, I won’t because even if I had the time & money, my old bones, or more likely, my old tendons and ligaments, wouldn’t hold up–especially running 5 races, including a half-marathon, over 20 days in late August.

But I would like to build a mini-Cross Country season for myself between the two trail series (potentially 9 races) and the first and last race on the list.  Cross Country was my introduction into the sport and still my favorite type of races.  Running the shorter races on softer ground makes racing more often possible.

7/9 Mayer Run For the Son.  I would have felt like I HAD to run this since it is in the small town that I live in.  But it got cancelled.  Probably a good thing for me since I shouldn’t be racing yet.

*7/23 Oulu Rock Run 5k This is a Must-Do for me, it’s in my hometown.

7/28 Lifetime Fitness Trail Series.  4.5 Miles, Hyland Park Reserve. This is part 1 of 5 of a trail series at parks throughout the area.  I ran one last year and it was fun–relatively cheap and good race with good grub (beer!) and SWAG.  I probably won’t run all 5.

7/28 Rice St Mile. 1 Mile.  I ran several years ago–I’m tempted to run it just as a measuring stick although given the choice between this and the trail run on the same day, probably will do the trail run.

*8/6&7 RRCA Coaching Certification.  The Road Runners Club of America puts on training classes to become a certified running coach.  I’ve thought about doing this for a couple years but either missed the registration period or couldn’t afford the time.  Made a special effort this year to make sure I got in.

8/11 Lifetime Fitness Trail Series.  5 Miles, Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve. One of the nice thing about this series is that the races are during the week which frees up the weekend.

8/13 Rockford River Run 5k   I ran this 5k last year and would like to do it again this year for comparison’s sake.

8/21 Minneapolis 13.1 This is where things get interesting. Considering my plan of training for the shorter races, why would I consider this? Two reasons, (a) To give myself a second chance to redeem myself, especially after doing some speed work, (b) I might get comped to do this–more detail in a later post.  They also have a 5k that would make more sense.

8/25 Lifetime Fitness Trail Series.  3.2 Miles, Clifton E. French Regional Park. One of the nice thing about this series is that the races are during the week which frees up the weekend.

*8/31 Solomon Autumn Trail Series.  This is the third year of this 4-part trail series.  I’ve run all eight races in this series’ history–a feet only matched by my nemesis, Scott– so I feel obligated to continue the streak.

9/8 Lifetime Fitness Trail Series. 5 Miles, Carver Park Reserve.  I ran this edition last summer since it is close to home.  This is also where I screwed up my knee a couple weeks ago.

*9/14  Solomon Autumn Trail Series.  This series is also run weeknights so it doesn’t interfere with weekend plans.

9/17 Fall Frolic 5k.  This 5k is put on to support the Chippewa Falls Cross Country team.  I’ve run it couple times before, including once where I ran the loop part–it is a lollipop course–backwards and had to meet all the other runners.  Oooops!

9/22 Lifetime Fitness Trail Series.  5.2 Miles, Elm Creek Park Reserve.

* 9/28  Solomon Autumn Trail Series.  The money from this series supports skier, Audrey Weber.

*10/12  Solomon Autumn Trail Series.  It always has great door prizes for the participants.  Great Sponsors.

10/15 Whistlestop Marathon. I probably won’t run the Half Marathon but this is another race close to where I grew up and is run on nice, soft crushed rock trail.  But it is on my radar.

10/29 Carson Park 10 Miler.  Another race I probably won’t do but this is my favorite race of all time.  Perfect time of year, love the distance.  I have not run the new course but it use to be a point-to-point race with an awkward bus ride to the start.  Unfortunately, this is now two hours from where I live.

11/6 Rocky’s Run 11/6 5k/8k This is a CC-style race at the University of Minnesota’s Golf Course.  It seems like a good way to finish off the season.

Race Report: Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

June 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

Somewhat appropriately, I’ve struggled a bit to describe how this race went for me–perhaps it’s best that I foreshadow with two visuals:

Prelude.

This was my goal race for this spring, I have been training for it since I found out I made the lottery in late February.  My training had gone well and I was confident going in that I could challenge my course record and maybe even my personal record.

I ran a 10k the week before and that improved my confidence.

The logistics of the half marathon, which is run with Grandma’s Marathon, are a bit difficult.  I grew up about 45 minutes from Duluth so I drove up on Friday and stayed at my parents’ house.  The race, which starts at 6:30, is a point-to-point course that requires you catch a bus from the finish line (or one of other points).  In the past, I think I have caught the bus in Superior, which is 10 minutes or so closer for me but, more significantly, allows me to avoid the traffic in the finish area.

The result was that I got up at 4:00, drove for an hour, rode a bus, and arrived at the starting area a little after 6:00.  And, just to clarify, I’m talking AM, Ante Meridian, as in Very Early in the Morning.

The weather was near perfect–about 50, a light rain, a tailwind.  So I was hyped.  I had worn sweats but decided to ditch them right away so I could squirm through the crowd to get to my approximate pace area.

Act One.

The race start unceremoniously–there wasn’t a gun or cannon or anything other than the announcer sending us off.  I fell into my rhythm pretty quickly–I enjoy larger races where you get to do some weaving at the beginning.  The first few miles seemed to go easy enough, I tried to focus on breathing easy and running the tangents.  I was clicking off the miles, I was a few seconds ahead of my dream pace at 6 miles and ended up going through the 10k mark within a few seconds of my finishing time from the week before.

The most exciting thing was counting the number of fellow runners (about 5 during this stretch) who warned me about my left shoelace that had come untied during the first mile.

Splits, Miles 1-6: 6:54, 6:53, 7:02, 6:57, 7:11, 6:52.

Total, first 6.9 miles: 48:27, 7:01 pace.

Act Two.

Clunk!

Around 6.5 miles, my right calf started to tighten.  Then it cramped. Then I felt–something.  I hesitate to name it because that would imply I knew what it was.  It was two sharp pains, one right after the other.  The first dead center in my calf, the other slightly higher.

My race was over.

I slowed down, although my Garmin indicated it wasn’t as much as I thought at the time–about 40 seconds per mile.

I eventually came to a port-a-potty, and feeling the need to use that too, I hopped in & out relatively quickly.  I hung out and tried to stretch–spent about a minute there.  The calf still was very tight but I headed out, wondering if I was about to get my first DNF ever.

Going at the slower pace, I did find time to take a different perspective.  I took long looks at the waves on Lake Superior–i could hear them crash against the rocks in some places.  And while the first part of the race had only a few pockets of spectators, this portion had more clusters.  Since I was no longer racing, I paid attention to the spectators’ faces.  I’ve never looked at the spectators so much. It was a bit surreal–I’m hobbling along, thinking my race is basically over and seeing all those faces and realizing they had no idea what I was going through.

Splits, miles 7-9:  8:46, 8:15, 7:48,

Total 2.1 miles, 18:11, 8:38 pace.

Act Three.

As I was enjoying what had turned into a training run for me, I made the mistake of hearing a group of college guys ask, “Got a bit of Captain in you?”

Since I wasn’t racing, I decided I might as well.  I U-turned and hydrated with half a pint of Rum. And washed it down with half a can of Coors Light.

Not smart.  Under no circumstances would I recommend slamming rum & beer during a race. But then again, I wasn’t racing anymore.

As I burped my way through the next half mile, something odd happened.  I stopped paying attention to my calf and started running at a faster clip.  The first split caught me by surprise, when I saw the second, I rushed to do some  arunmathtic and realized while I wasn’t going to PR, I  had not lost that much time overall.  I even started to think I could set a course PR.

That didn’t work out, I was not able to speed up enough and the curves in the thirteenth mile were difficult on my tender legs but I did finish nicely and ended up running about two and a half minutes faster then the half I had run in May.

Miles 10-13.1: 7:08, 7:24, 7:18, 7:55 (7:29)

Total 4.1 miles, 30:44 (7:29 pace).

Final: 13.1 miles, 1:37:25 (7:27 pace).

The End.

I gathered my post-race goodies–a technical shirt, medal, and some grub.  I did stand in line for 20 minutes for a massage and started to get really cold–while the weather had been fine while running, standing in the wind, even wearing my sweats that I had put one, got to be cold.  I figured the massage would help my calf and it did, a bit, but not as much as I hoped.

And then I had to figure out what had happened.  Somehow the ups & downs of the run were difficult to comprehend, especially the way I was able to struggle through the last 4+ miles.  It would have make sense if I had cramped up and struggled to the finish but I’m a bit perplexed at how I was able to recover a bit.  I’ve had rough patches before but this seemed like a significant injury that was going to wreck this race.

Not Quite the End.

Three days after the race, I am still sore–especially both calves, especially the right one.  Other areas–hips, quads–are also sore.  I had the same problem with my right calf last summer and it took two weeks to work through it.  I did two miles yesterday and will try for three tomorrow but I had planned to basically take the rest of June easy anyhow.

I am a mixture of satisfied and disappointed–I know I have a better race in me but am happy with the way I fought through this race. The thing is, I have the opportunity to run another 13.1 on July 4th.   So IF my body heals, I do have a chance to redeem myself if I choose–and I undoubtedly will choose to  if my body & family allow it.

Lessons (Hopefully) Learned:

  • While the weather was great for running, given the fact that I had no chance to do my regular mile+ gentle warm-up, I should have gone out slower–even 15-20 second per mile–to give my legs a chance to warm up.  I think I could have prevented my calf problem with an adequate warm-up.
  • Racing the week before my big race, even if it was a free race, was probably a mistake and left me vulnerable.
  • Like Yogi Berra said about baseball, running is “90% mental and the other half is physical”. I think the fact that I didn’t dwell on my calf and re-focused on enjoying the unique training run I was having allowed me to rebound a bit.
  • Taking the time to poop, stretch, and hydrate really didn’t take as much time as it seemed like at the time.
  • I should be taking a more pro-active approach to stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Sometimes doing the unorthodox–having a drink during a race–might not help, but might not hurt either (although I don’t plan on making this my standard race place).

Done?!

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, if all went well, I just finished (and hopefully remembered to Smile! at the camera).

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