Saturday, January 31, 2015

2015 Spartan Race giveaway results

Congratulations to the winner of this year's Spartan Race giveaway!  Watch the video to see who won, and I'll be in touch!

Thanks to everyone for reading and participating.  You're all winners in my book.

Edit - Apologies if you can't actually watch the video.  There are reasons why I don't blog for a living, and my lack of technological savvy is one of them.  If you can't watch it, Joel Mattingly is the winner.  Joel, I'll send you an e-mail momentarily.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Don't forget your #whorepants

When I was in college, I took a class on black feminism during my sophomore year.  As she strode purposefully into our first meeting together 14 years ago, the very first words my loud and proud black professor uttered were, "y'all are motherfuckin' racists."

Somehow this left an impression on me.

Over the ensuing 90 minutes, she clarified her opening statement with a discussion on white privilege; the idea that my classmates and I were and continue to be afforded countless unearned privileges merely by being white.  These can be as big as not being subjected to racial profiling while driving, to as small as being able to choose bandaids in the color of our own skin.  It was this white privilege that led every one of us, as the song goes, to be a little bit racist.

Last week, high school friend Jen Miller posted an article calling attention to the harassment female runners face, and I was immediately brought back to my college classroom.  My professor folded her arms over her heavy bosom, looked at me with disdain, and said, "you motherfuckin' sexist pig."  It seems time to address the continuing problem of female harassment, and my accompanying male privilege.

The title of Jen's article stems from an earlier, similar article which described her purple running tights.  When someone had the audacity to call her a whore in the comments, her friends coined the term #whorepants, and the hashtag took off.

I asked my wife about this, and while she doesn't have nearly the amount of miles under her belt as some female runners, she has nevertheless experienced catcalls, comments, and otherwise unsavory behavior from men while out running.  And as a male runner, it saddens me to think what my female counterparts go through.

When I run, I do so for the health benefits, for the chance to explore new areas, and to experience alone time.  But for most women, these benefits can quickly become compromised for no other reason than someone who doesn't know how to behave in public. It's a power play.  It's lashing out over previous female rejection.  It's a desire to be crude and insulting, or maybe it is genuinely an attempt to be complimentary.  But rarely is it ever welcome.

Run enough, and it can become tormenting.  When the weather doesn't cooperate, or the intensity of the run becomes too much, it's easy to want to give in and quit.  I've literally run thousands of miles in my day, and I fight the thought of quitting on a regular basis, but never for fear of harassment.  The worst I've ever experienced is a few honks and/or unintelligible yells. Running can be hard enough as it is; adding the insulting nature of some men's behavior is just unfair.

It has just never occured to me to do anything but nod at a female runner as we pass each other. When not running, it never occurred to me to do much of anything when encountering an attractive female.  Seriously, it's amazing I ever got married.

Many runners, men and women alike, have expressed solidarity with Jen and donned their own version of #whorepants while running.  Alas, the one pair of running pants I own doesn't quite qualify, but it never really was about the pants was it?  It's about reclaiming a word, rallying around a silly hashtag, and fighting the good fight together.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First snow day of 2015

Always a pleasure to see the above message on your district's website the night before a snow storm.  Well, until you get six snow days in one season and countless half days and two-hour delays like last year...

So midterms week at school was interrupted by our first snowday of the school year today. Turns out my area of New Jersey only netted about three inches, but still enough to make running a little more challenging.  I'd forgotten how tiring it can be to run in the snow, and how every run feels like double the distance once you've finished.

I realize I have two streaks going at the moment: one for running at least a mile every day (since November 2013), and one for avoiding the treadmill (last treadmill run in July 2013). Sadly, these two streaks don't always mix well.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

16 mile Sunday

Church of the Sunday Long Run is progressing nicely.  Knocked out 16 miles this afternoon. Compared to the polar vortex we experienced last winter, it's been pretty mild so far this year, and I ran today in just shorts and a long sleeved shirt.  I hear there's a snow storm on the way, though.  Just in time for midterms at school this week...

I felt sluggish at the end of today's run, perhaps because I never had a proper rest day after last week's long run got moved to Monday, and on Tuesday I went right ahead with the next week of training.

The goal is to hit a string of 22 milers, maybe even longer, and complete one 100 mile week this training cycle.  At the first sign of over-exhaustion or excess pain, though, I may pull the ripcord and bail.

So, all things considered, training is going well so far.  85 days until Boston.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Free Spartan Race 2015 giveaway!

Last spring I was contacted by the good people of Spartan Race asking if I would be willing to promote their race on my blog.  In exchange they gave me a free race code to give away to my readers.  They also gave me a code to use for myself, but I was never able to make it to a Spartan Race last year.  Fortunately for you, they have generously offered the same deal for 2015, so here we go...

First of all, for those unaware, Spartan Race is an obstacle race series held all over the United States.  They offer varying lengths, including the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles), the Spartan Super (8+ miles), and the Spartan Beast (12+ miles).

As a new parent, and someone who has spent the entirety of my working life with kids, I'm pleased to see they also offer a Spartan Kids race, with age appropriate obstacles for kids from 4 - 13, and 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Kids Fit Foundation.

Dan the PR man has let me know that they have not been resting easy over at Spartan HQ, and they have a ton of new things in store for 2015.

These include:
  • The first ever Spartan Race Cruise.  In March Spartan Race is sailing to the Bahamas for a Spartan Sprint.  Joe De Sena, Founder and CEO of Spartan Race, will also be along for the ride.
  • Speaking of Joe De Sena, he's launching a podcast called Spartan Up in which he interviews titans of the fitness industry and shares tips for living a fit and active life.
  • Lake Tahoe will host the Spartan World Championship in October.
  • There is a season pass for 2015 which offers great perks.
Here's a map for the locations this year.  If you're in the Philly area, there are plenty of Spartan Races nearby this year, and I hope to see you at one of them.

Now for the fun part.  I'm once again conducting a giveaway for one free entry to any Spartan Race in the continental US in 2015.  Like last time, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me why you want to do the Spartan Race, and a way I can contact you.  Like last time, I'll leave the contest open for a week, and next Saturday night I'll pick a winner.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The first 100

Yesterday was the nastiest day of winter yet, with temps in the low thirties, black ice everywhere, and freezing rain all day.  I had 14 miles on the agenda, and normally I would have tried to suck it up and go running anyway.  Because I had the day off from school today, though, I decided to reschedule. Stevie and her friend watched bad movies all day, and I baked a loaf of banana bread.  Like you do.

Today was slightly warmer and a lot drier, so considerably more enjoyable.  I ran in just shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and stopped at the Haddonfield Running Company to drink some water and eat the gel I'd brought with me.

The 14 miles today put me at 112 miles for the year, which means I got to claim my 100 mile bib from the Run the Edge 2,015 in 2015 Challenge:

2015 is off to a great start.  The weather is cooperating for the most part, my body is holding up, I'm getting in the miles, and focusing on nutrition more.

How is your 2015 going?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My own personalized training plan

When we last checked in with my friend Suze, I was helping her out with a homework assignment for her exercise science and health promotion degree.  She's back at it, this time for an assignment in which she had to create a personalized marathon training plan.  I love nothing more than a random professor somewhere reading of my marathon exploits, so I agreed to be her guinea pig again.

She sent over the completed, 11 page paper tonight and here are a few excerpts:
Scott is a 33-year-old marathon runner.  His first marathon was the Philadelphia Marathon in 2005 at a finish time of 4:29:47.  Since then, he has been diligently reducing his time and ultimately qualified for the Boston Marathon at the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 3:03:05.  His registration was accepted and he plans to run Boston on April 20, 2015.  He therefore requires a 13-week training program with the goal of a personal record (PR).
I'm not actually planning to PR at Boston.  Training through the winter with a baby at home and running a tougher course than Philly will make it difficult to do so, but Suze decided this would work better for her assignment.
Scott's marathon goal time is 2:59:00 (a 6:50 per mile pace [Figure 1]).  The Boston Marathon's elevation involves more hills compared to Philadelphia's relatively flat course (Figures 2 and 3).  Instead of running every day, Scott will now add in a six-week program that includes two days of strength training and one rest day for increased muscle recovery.  After those six weeks, he will switch to a seven-week program with hill sprints and tempo runs to maintain the power output gained earlier.
She goes on to describe sciency things like lactate threshold, voluntary neuromuscular adaptation, and maximal oxygen uptake.

She then describes the steel rigidity of my hamstrings we learned about in her last assignment.
Some special attention will be given to Scott's hamstrings for several reasons. Over-lengthening weakens the muscle as it is in an inefficient position to produce a contraction.  Weak hamstrings is a risk factor for decreased running economy, shortened length stride, and potential muscle or tendon injury... Part of his program will include core stability and stretching of the hip flexors and knee extensors to corect the pelvi tilt and reduce the stretch effect on the hamstrings. Exercises include plank variations, medicine ball throws with a twisting motion, and single-leg bridges.
I've mentioned this on the blog before, but I should reiterate that I've never actually followed a training plan in my life.  Every success I've had in distance running has come down to gut intuition and listening to my own body and experience.  In short, I just make it up as I go.  So it's interesting to have someone take all of my experiences, and where I'm at currently, and apply a scientific look to it.

I can't say I'll go all out for Boston and try everything Suze mentions in her report, but when I do attempt a sub 3 marathon, it'll be nice to have this document to dust off and consult.

In the meantime...

Friday, January 16, 2015

The relentlessness of marathon training

The word that comes to mind lately when I think of marathon training is "relentless."  Each day brings another training run, and each week increases the intensity and total miles ever so slightly.  It doesn't matter if I've had a long day at work, if I got little sleep the night before, or if I haven't eaten properly.  The next scheduled training run arrives whether I'm ready or not, and the miles just keep on piling up, day after day after day.

For the most part I like it like this.  I like the intensity, the feeling of accomplishment, the sense of challenging myself when it would be so easy to stay inside all winter.

But as every marathoner knows, there are some pretty dark moments in every training cycle when I seriously question why this is my hobby.

But as with anything in life, there are pros and cons, ups and downs, strikes and gutters, and if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then maybe it is all worth it.  Right now the parts are made up mostly of cold, darkness, sweaty clothes, and even some doubt.  But lodged somewhere in there is still a healthy dose of excitement for marathon weekend in April, and when it's all said and done and I can finally examine the whole, I'm sure it will all be worth it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What a difference two days make

On Sunday I completed 10 miles in the brutal (to me) Florida heat and humidity.  I had to stop twice during the run, once to walk and once to duck into a Publix for a drink of water.  Side note: I used to drink from the sprinklers in front yards I passed until Stevie told me the sprinklers use canal water. This is what the ducks look like that swim in those canals:

Florida cancer-faced duck

No thanks.

Now I'm back in New Jersey where the weather is considerably colder, and we had our first snow today.

Winter running in Florida vs. New Jersey

The only thing getting me outside in these conditions is the thought of lining up for Boston this April. The temperature frequently falls into the single digits in New Jersey during January, and, as usual, I'm training without access to an indoor track or a treadmill.

Happy trails to y'all, and send some motivation my way!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Movie Monday: The biomechanics of marathoning

Suze passed this along, and it's a fascinating look at Meb Keflezighi, Olympic silver medalist and New York and Boston Marathon champion, among other accolades.

Filmed by ESPN, the video concentrates on an elite runner's biomechanics and what it takes to not only run a marathon, but to run it well enough to win it.

I am by no means a science person, but I nevertheless found this video fascinating.  Enoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 mileage total

Monthly mileage totals for the year:

January: 65
February: 131
March: 173
April: 201
May: 237
June: 146
July: 170
August: 144.2
September: 100
October: 131.5
November: 75.1

And December:

That brings me to a grand total of 1,676.8 miles for the year, 337.2 miles short of my goal of 2,014.

Stevie: Too bad we're not living in the 1600's.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 running goals

Here are my goals for 2015:

1. Run 2,015 miles.  Holdover from 2014 goals.  Looking forward to redemption this year.  As mentioned, I've joined an official challenge, so maybe that will help with motivation.

2. Run the Boston Marathon.  This is more like a life goal than a 2015 goal, and it shouldn't be too difficult as I'm already signed up for it this year and will run it come hell or high water.

3. Run a 50 miler.  The time committment scares me more than the actual hard work involved.  I already take enough time away from my family with all the marathoning.  But I'm really itching for running 50 miles through rugged terrain and the feeling of accomplishment at the end.

4. Run across the state of NJ.  I've been wanting to do this for years.  Start at the Delaware River and run to the Atlantic Ocean.  It's only about 60 miles, so it seems doable.

5. PR my beer mile time.  My first beer mile was slower than molasses in winter, so this shouldn't be too difficult.  Need to practice chugging beer.

6. PR my half marathon time.  This will take some serious dedication over the summer, but I think it is doable.

7. Run a sub 3:00 marathon.  Probably the toughest goal on this list.  It will take every ounce of effort I have to make this goal.  

8. Continue to make running friends, both in my immediate community as well as online.  I hope to spread the reach of this blog, connect with people/companies on Twitter, and see what opportunities open up.

9. Continue the run streak throughout 2015.  I've been at it for over a year now.  This one is ingrained in me by now.

10. Run more trail races.  I love trail running but don't do enough of it.  It's pretty hard to find decent trails in New Jersey, so I'll have to go out of state to find some good races.

11. Run a Spartan Race.  I was given free entry to a Spartan Race last year but never got to use it. Dan the PR man was kind enough to allow me to defer to 2015.  I'll be writing more about the Spartan Race soon.

Non-Running related:

1. Publish a piece of writing.  Anything.  Whether it's in the Top Dog Runner's World, or some publication no one has ever heard of.  Whether it has something to do with running or not.

2. Travel to a country and/or U.S. state I have never been before.  I have seven states to go in my quest to visit all 50.  I've never been to Africa.  The possibilities are endless.  Better start saving now.

3. Continue to spend time with Neale and Stevie.  Spend quality time with the people I love to build the foundation for a strong and loving family.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2,015 in 2015

I joined the 2,015 in 2015 challenge put on by Run the Edge (Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher - Kara Goucher's husband).  Same deal as last year, except one extra mile.  This time, though, there is a whole online community to go along with it.  Kind of makes the thing a lot more exciting.

The challenge allows people to team up with one or two others, and also allows them to walk. Just like last year, though, I'll be running the whole thing, and by myself.

This morning I ran five miles in the sweaty humidity of South Florida to kick off the challenge. Only 2,010 miles to go.
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