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?

Oulu Rock Run Race Report

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

This race was two weeks ago and my memory isn’t that good so I’ll give the briefest summary: Went out too fast (6:43 first mile, 7:30, 7:36), mud, down-pour, and lightening.

I especially wanted to do this race because it is in the Town, Oulu, Wisconsin, that I grew up in.  It was at the baseball park 2.5 miles from my home–I spent many hours there playing, and later coaching, baseball.

The 5k  (closer to 3 miles to Mr. Garmin) which I ran started at 8:00 and about 8:05 it started to rain, which was fine, and around 8:08 it started to rain real hard.  All of that would have been great if there wasn’t some high-in-the-sky lightening that was a bit unnerving but I never actually heard thunder.

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see the reflective strip is, well, reflecting.  My father took this picture and because of the rain clouds it was dark so he needed to use his flash.  The flash freaked me out at first because I wasn’t paying attention and out of the corner of my eye it seemed liked lightening.

It also looks like my left shoe lace is flopping around again.

The one thing that the rain effected was the 1 mile run got moved from 8:45 Saturday to Sunday afternoon.  That was a bit of a bummer because my girls ran the 1 mile but because of my schedule, I had to leave before they walk/ran.

My 11 year old.

And the six year old in jeans.

The best illustration of what a home-town race this was for me, there were five race officials at the finish area.  My aunt and uncle were the clock reader and race director.  I spent a lot of time during the summers growing up with them and my 3 cousins.  My uncle was running at that time so they brought me to a lot of the races I did in the 80s.

After passing the finish line, I ripped off the tag at the bottom of race number and handed it to another aunt and gave her a hug.

I didn’t notice it at the time but my  mother was writing down numbers along with the only non-relative at the finish.  However, this “outsider” was a girl from my high school class–we went to school together from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  So while not related, she is a good friend.

Kickstarter Project: Simple Hydration Water Bottle

July 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Kickerstarter has popped up a couple of times in the last couple months in different podcasts I listen to.  Mighty Mur Lafferty of I Should Be Writing Fame used it to raise money to get her Afterlive Series printed and Carl the Mailman from The 3 Non-Joggers Podcast used it to raise funds for his documentary film, One Fall.

Both mentioned it enough to piqué my interest in what else is going on there.  I did some standard searches–Lego, Mego, Running,  and Runner and saw some interesting stuff.  But one project stuck out to me, the Simple Hydration Water Bottle.

Odd shape?

The clever thing is it is designed to slip into your waistband so you don’t have to carry it but don’t need any special belts or straps or anything.

Cool.

Kickstarter is designed for crowd-funding of projects.  Individuals chip in $ so a project can be funded and completed.  The thing is, the project is only funded if it raises 100% of the money requested.   The water bottle has raised $10,610 of $20,000so far with 24 days left. I was informed that 95% of projects that get over the half-way point endd up getting fully funded.

One of the important things about kickstarter projects is designing a sensible reward system for contributors.  While every contribution helps, contributing $20 gets one of the bottles.  Additional pledges get you other swag like hats and shirts.

I intended to pledge and recommend you look the information over and consider it too.

Shutdown

July 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I got about a week head-start from the rest of the State of Minnesota and shutdown my running a week before July 1st.

 

Following Bjorklund, my calf was still hurting.  I eased my way through a 2-miler two days after the race and then a 3-miler after that.  Six days after the race, I went for a four-miler on the horse trails at  Carver Park Reserve and things didn’t go so well.  I think my legs were still vulnerable and the uneven footing ate up my legs.  Later that night while dealing with our dog, I ended up twisting my sore right knee and Ouch!

Since then, I haven’t run.  I’ve rested it, I’ve iced it. It actually feels a lot better so far today (although I’ve spent most of today composing this post).  I have an appointment in 5 days at an orthopediatrician and hopefully it will be mostly heeled by then.

For now, I rest.  Kind of–still have a ton of yard work I’ll hobble through (not smart).

So far, I have not gotten too nutty from not running–I had planned to take two easy weeks after Bjorklund anyhow. so I’m not feeling like I’m losing training. 

 We’ve had some end-of-fiscal-year projects due (I do work for the state of Minnesota but am not laid off due to the shutdown) that needed some extra attention this past week so I’ve thrown some extra energy into those and that has helped my sanity.

I had a passing thought about running another half on the 4th to  redeem myself a bit but I threw that idea out when I tweaked my knee.  There is a 5k in my small town a week from today that I haven’t completely ruled out.

But for now, I’m just hoping to heal.  Not going to run until I can at least walk without worrying about hurting myself.

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).

Go!

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

And We’re Off!

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