Archive for General Blog Thoughts

5.22 miles tonight takes me to 1171 for the year – 800 less than last year. Ouch. Year recap in the post.

The 5.22 miles I ran on the treadmill tonight takes me to a total of 1171 miles in 2015 – 800 less than last year. With a combo of illness, injury, tanked motivation and flat out laziness I certainly got a lot less miles in this year.

I had indicated at the end of last year that I wanted to back off a bit and run a bit smarter – but I didn’t intend to do that the way it happened! And I don’t think I could consider the way I backed off as running “smarter”.

That being said I did have some great events and got to do some pretty cool things this year:

There were 2 very important running events for me this year – the Dopey Challenge in January and the 12 Hour Lemming Loop in October. I feel great about both of those events. I met and broke all my timing goals at Dopey Challenge and had a blast. And at the 12 Hour Lemming Loop I was able to break 50 miles (50.33) – not too shabby for a guy at around 230 pounds!

I also feel pretty impressed with myself with how I did during the Hypothermic Half marathon in February – it was bloody cold for that one (so cold that they did an emergency course change to reduce the safety risk to the runners) and even though I wanted to quit and walk off, I still managed to finish strong.

Other than that the other races for the year were pretty awful. Between illness and minimal training my race times took a beating. I am frankly surprised that I was able to finish my last half marathon of the year at the end of October in under 2 hours.

All in all, the year was definitely not a write off but it was certainly a major step back from last year. Look for a post on the blog tomorrow where I lay out my goals and plans for 2016…redemption will be mine!

Happy New Year everyone!

Top 5 things NOT to do during the Walt Disney World Marathon #wdwmarathon #goofychallenge #dopeychallenge

The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is coming up in about a month and my jealousy has been building since I am not running it after a 4 year streak. That has gotten me reminiscing about the races and I have a lot of great memories, but I also have realized that I made many mistakes as well.

 

With that in mind, I figured some lucky runners that are doing the races this year would maybe benefit from hearing about these mistakes so they can avoid them. Or at least laugh at my idiocy.

 

So, without further ado, here is my list of 5 (hopefully vaguely humorous) things not to do during the Walt Disney World Marathon (or Goofy Challenge or Dopey Challenge for that matter):

 

  1. Don’t forget to update your music list prior to the race.

 

So – true story…My first ever Disney World Marathon – in the ancient times of 2008. MP3 players really didn’t have very much storage back then and I tended to have to load the player for weight lifting and then reload it with different music for running…and I forgot to do this before I left home to travel to Florida for the race. Listening to the harder / angrier weight lifting music was ok for the first part of the race but by the time I hit Magic Kingdom I was finding the music exhausting. But I still needed something so I stuck with it. (back then Magic Kingdom was closer to the half way point of the marathon than it is now with the current route)

 

But then the Manowar song “The Blood of the Kings” came on as I was running through Cinderella’s castle – for those who don’t know the song, it contains the lyrics “’till the blood on your hands is the blood of a king”.

 

“’till the blood on your hands is the blood of king”, growling in my ears as I was going through Cinderella’s castle – not a song truly fitting with the nature of the place.

I was definitely not in the right mindset at that point – it is pretty funny now but at that point I had to stop and figure out what hell else I had on the MP3 player to save my sanity.

 

I spent the rest of the race listening to Weird Al.

 

I love Weird Al, but there is only so much polka music you can listen to during a marathon. So I reiterate: don’t forget to update your music player.

 

  1. Don’t forget to scope out where the full bathrooms are along the route and take advantage of the 2nd or 3rd one in the park (the 1st is always crowded)

 

Take it from someone who has spent way too much time in porta potties on Disney property (and at many races) being able to use the full bathrooms is truly an amazing perk.

 

  1. Don’t beat yourself up about race finish times and about doing all the right race things before the races.

 

Have a few drinks, burn out the legs a bit in the parks, go for a swim.

 

I have done a total of 6 Walt Disney World full marathons (5 as part of Goofy Challenges and 1 of those a Dopey Challenge) and my favorite was the one I didn’t worry about time and just had fun before, during, and after the race. That was part of my Dopey Challenge and I tried to follow that philosophy that whole trip and it may actually be the only marathon I have smiled during.

 

Disney and the WDW Marathon are about fun – make sure to have some.

 

  1. For men – Don’t wear compression running shorts without other loose fitting shorts over top.

 

The first races I ever did using compression running shorts I didn’t wear other shorts over top – this was during my second Goofy Challenge…the pictures are not a pleasant experience to view….

 

At the WDW Marathon there a huge number of photographers to take advantage of all the iconic picture opportunities for the runners, and most of them are lower down taking shots up at the runners as they pass.

Let’s just say most of my pictures from that race are not suitable for mixed company.

 

I hereby apologize to all the other racers from that year.

 

  1. Don’t forget to pay attention to the weather reports.

 

For my first Goofy Challenge back in 2010, I was seeing weather reports that had Florida being cold, like very cold. I didn’t really believe the reports and didn’t pack my winter running gear.

 

It freaking snowed.

 

I will always remember standing in the starting corrals, getting snowed on and my 6. 2″ height and wide shoulders providing a wind break for teams of smaller runners standing leeward of me. It stayed around freezing that whole weekend and I didn’t have the right gear with me.

 

Don’t believe me about the cold? Check out Lee Hoedl’s video on YouTube for the half marathon. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMjpeCSFErU) (edit – apparently the video won’t play on some mobile devices but does work via a desktop or laptop – not sure why – the link is good but it has something to do with how YouTube has this video set up.)

Then, I believe in 2013, the forecast was for it to be ok in the morning but get hot later in the day. I didn’t really believe it and I wore a compression running base layer shirt. It got very hot (something like 20% of those set to race did not finish and heat was a major factor in that) and the thermal nature of that base layer shirt was not a good thing that day!

 

I pay more attention to weather forecasts now.

I hope you enjoyed the list and if you are running at Disney in January – good luck and have fun!

Let me know in the comments if I missed anything.

Manitoba Marathon 2015 recap – I reaped the consequences of no runs over 13.1 since March. But I learned some stuff.

To start with – the Manitoba Marathon was well organized again this year and as always the volunteers were fantastic along the course and at the finish! Another great race put on by the Manitoba Marathon team!

—-

OK, so the day started off pretty early for me – the pups got me up a half hour before my alarm was set to go off for the race. No sleeping in I guess. Luckily I had gone to bed quite early and still got a good 7+ hours sleep or so. I’m glad I did because I knew it was going to be a rough run.

Folks that follow the blog or my twitter posts know that I had a rough couple months and my training really fell apart. By the numbers I had 556 miles on my shoes so far this year but at the same time last year I was at 810. A very significant difference year over year. The bad statistic though was the missing 18 and 20 milers. I knew I was going into the race trained to do an ok half marathon but not trained for a full at all. I was going to be relying on sheer determination, a lot of pent up frustration and whatever residual stamina I still had left from the Dopey Challenge training.

So basically I knew going into this race that it was not going to be great for me physically.

It was a beautiful day though and not raining like last year’s Manitoba Marathon so that was a positive but it was forecast to get pretty warm. Not Florida warm but still enough that it was going to be a factor in the race with the humidity.

Again this year I took the park and ride option instead of trying to find a parking spot at the race and everything worked pretty efficiently again. I basically got out of my vehicle and wandered over to the bus got on and we were on our way in a few minutes. It was a short drive and we were dropped off close to the bag drop tents. Very smooth.

The only hiccup was that I realized that I had forgotten to put on nipple protectors before I left the house…but I figured I would forget something and luckily I had packed a set in my hydration backpack and I put those on before I got on the bus. Apparently I was rushing though and one didn’t stick properly…more on that later.

I wandered around the start area, hit the port-a-potties and checked out the changes in the course right at the start. New this year was an adjustment to the course for where everyone starts. It used to start with a straight shot down a road but now there was a 90 degree turn about 100 feet from the start line. I was worried this was going to be an issue (thinking back to the hordes at Disney races and how crowded a corner like that could get). Luckily it wasn’t an issue but it definitely slowed down most folks through that first chunk of the course.

While wandering around, I ran into a gentleman from work who was out for his second marathon (first about a month or so previous). I had a good chat with him about strategies and different races and then we headed out to the get in our chosen finish time zones.

I chose to line up with the 4:30 run/walk pace group. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with them or not but it seemed like a good spot to start as I tested myself out. But I was still worrying about the heat and what that would do later in the race.

But then it was time to start – after a couple quick twitter interactions with Kenny (@runshooze on twitter) as he offered encouragement to help get me started.

I realized very quickly that heat was definitely going to be a factor and after pacing evenly for a few minutes I decided that sticking with the 4:30 pace group wasn’t going to work. Basically doing the math it meant I would probably hit the half about 2:10-2:15 (which didn’t match my previously determined plan of trying to hit around 2 hours and then just do what I could after) and the heat would be up and I would probably be already tanking out. This would then likely make it harder to keep going and probably do some hefty damage to my confidence.

So I weighed all the factors and decided to do something pretty dumb and the opposite of what all the marathon gurus will tell you. I decided to run the first half of the marathon fast – I was going to be struggling hard for the second half no matter what but I figured if I could get the first half done quicker, it would mean less time pushing in the heat later.

At that point then I bumped the speed up and decided to follow my original plan – hit the half at around 2 hours and go from there.

By mile 2 I had passed the 4 hour group and the 3:45 group – I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone else but it was what I figured I needed to do.

I passed mile 7 before the hour mark and the 3:45 group passed me shortly before the 8 mile point as I was already feeling the heat.

Right around the 9 mile marker a gentleman I interact with on Twitter (Anthony – @DrAnthonyH) caught up with me and we had a bit of chat about different races and our goals, etc. We also quickly talked about WDW Marathon races and then he continued on and I kept rolling on.

Less than a minute after that I saw Heather and my son and daughter up ahead cheering me on – I caught site of them just as Anthony was giving my son a high five.

They hadn’t spotted me yet so I put on a burst of speed and bolted up to my son and started tickling him instead of what he thought was going to be a high five from another anonymous runner. Surprised him pretty good! And, I think, the folks that were standing beside my family that didn’t know at first what was going on until my daughter gave me a hug and started saying “Happy Fathers’ Day!”

I chatted with them a little bit and then kept moving.

About mile 11 or so I felt some chafing and realized I had lost one of the nipple protectors – not much I could do about it then but I as I was wearing a white shirt I started to wonder what the shirt was going to look like when the race was done!

Just prior to the half way point the gentleman from work passed me and wished me luck on the rest of the race and at just about the half way point the 4 hour pace group passed me. I hit the halfway point at about 1:59 (so goal achieved).

It was at that point I ran into my family again as they had moved to a second viewing spot. We talked again at that point and off I went again.

Not too long after that I started to hit the wall for sure. I was still pushing but it was taking way more pushing to keep going. The heat was also definitely playing a factor at this point.

I also started adding a minute of walking after I hit every mile marker from here on out. I was carrying about 2 liters of liquid in my hydration pack that I had been using frequently but I started making sure to supplement with water at every water stop and using sponges to help cool off. Sponges were plentiful too so kudos to the Manitoba Marathon team for that!

I hit the 18 mile point at around 2:57 or so. That was great for my confidence – it was slow and pretty rough but I also knew I would be under 5 hours to complete.

At this point I sent out a proof of life tweet and got moving again.

Right after that I ran into the wife and kids again before continuing on. I didn’t run long before I ran into a family who was giving on freeze pops…and they had blue! It was glorious! Much thanks to those folks whoever they were!

I kept going from there and was struck at the difference in the weather from last year. This race was hot and sunny and last year I remember being so soaked that passing trucks splashing water onto me as I ran didn’t even phase me.

At about the 4 hour mark I decided to stop and send another proof of life tweet as I had hit right around mile 23. After I sent the tweet my phone started beeping that it had low battery. I wasn’t going to finish this without music so I popped off my hydration pack and dug out my spare battery.

After a relatively quick battery swap I was back on my way. The 4:30 pace group went past me around this point.

Shortly after that I saw the 10 mile marker for the half marathon folks (who share the same finish line) – only a 5k left to go. I knew I was going to survive!

My pace picked up a bit when I was running but I was doing shorter runs now of maybe 3-5 minutes at a time before walking again for 30-60 seconds.

I was here that I learned something very specific about my running that I am going to have to watch for in the future and train against. Basically when I would stop running I would feel a bit woozy, almost light headed but after a few seconds of breathing properly I would be fine and able to go again. I realized that as I was trying to run and push as hard as I could, I was tensing so much that I wasn’t breathing properly. It took me about 10-15 minutes to figure that out and then I was fine.

Then at about 24.5 miles I ran into the wife and kids one final time and I started the final push.

About this point I was probably half and half running versus walking but I was still moving and still coherent.

Then the final corner before I start in towards mile 26 and final stretch on the stadium track. Finished upright with no apparent injuries and under 5 hours. And even the lost nipple protector didn’t cause too much grief. Marathon #11 in the books.

I was handed a popsicle and slurped that down. Chatted with a lady who had just finished her first marathon and was asking other finishers around to sign her arms and legs, etc in celebration. Awesome for her! The Manitoba Marathon is great race for first timers – very friendly.

I then grabbed some water and had a quick chat with one of the volunteers who was obviously there to make sure that runners were still healthy and able to hold a conversation.

I then wandered out to the buses and got on. As I was getting on the bus driver asked “a bit stiff?” My response “no where near as stiff as I will be when I try to get off the bus!”

An accurate prediction – but surprisingly not bad.

I wandered out to my van, hopped in and drove home.

After unloading all my stuff I wandered into the kitchen for a big glass of milk and some bacon. If “recovery bacon” isn’t a thing, it should be.

Had a bit of a scare as I was sitting at the kitchen table leaning forward talking to the kids and getting my Fathers’ Day cards from them…my arms started to tingle a bit. Oh crap…but then I remembered the breathing lesson from about mile 24. I sat up straight, had a few deep breathes and everything returned to normal.

10 minutes later I was in the pool with the kids stretching out the legs and working the kinks out. While cooling off.

I got about a half hour there before we had to get dressed and head out to our son’s piano concert. He did awesome! (and I actually survived) Several people we didn’t know commented on how well he did and how much energy he had. Very cool!

After that we headed to Boston Pizza for a celebratory supper for all of us and I had a beer the size of my head.

And we ended up in the pool before bed again. A very good Fathers’ Day all around.

The next day I woke up and my left ankle was almost locked – after a bit of walking around though it worked itself out. Over the course of the day I went for a couple 40 minute walks that included a few jogging attempts that went well.

Now 2 days later my legs are fine and I suspect I will try a recovery run later today. I have already done swimming pool resistance exercises and 15 minutes of deep water running with no ill effects.

I may not be the fastest, or the strongest (or the most dedicated) runner but man I recover fast. And I am grateful for that!

So coming up I have the 12 hour Lemming Loop that I have signed up for in early October. And I also signed my wife and I up for the WFPS Half Marathon for a couple weeks after that.

I will be starting to work out a training schedule for the 12 hour Lemming Loop in the hopes of breaking over 52.4 miles in the 12 hours (49.278 last year). I will also looking to see if I will want to add the Treherne Marathon (which is about an hour drive away) in early September to my schedule as a training run and as maybe a chance for some marathon redemption.

I should be posting up my planned schedule and goals and such in the next few days – I am going to have to work hard this summer!

Things I want to do at Disney World during the Disney World Marathon weekend, besides run!

With less than a week to go before I make it to Disney World for the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon and the Dopey Challenge, I thought it would be a good time to sit down and think about what I want to do there (besides run the races and spend tons of money at the expo of course).

Doing the Dopey Challenge, I will need to conserve some energy and hitting every ride at every park is probably not going to be the smartest thing to do for the legs. That means I need to determine what my “Must Do’s” are for this trip. If just to make sure I get best Disney vibe for my money while I am there.

The past few months have been quite hectic and stressful at work and I have put in significant miles running besides. Throw in the holidays and I am looking for peace. So a peaceful and quiet atmosphere is going to be the major theme for the list with some new things thrown in that I haven’t had a chance to do or see before.

So on with the list:

 

  1. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train – the ride wasn’t open yet the last time I was at Magic Kingdom so I want to see this ride

 

  1. Festival of Fantasy Parade – I have to see that steampunk fire breathing dragon up close!

 

  1. Sticking at the Magic Kingdom – the People Mover – not an exciting ride but this one fits the peaceful criteria for me – I love to ride it and people watch Tomorrowland.

 

  1. Monorail – I enjoy the ride between Magic Kingdom and Epcot and it is a uniquely Disney experience

 

  1. Epcot in general – it is our family’s favorite park and I just love the feel of the various areas. I enjoy just finding a bench and sitting and watching people or the fountains in different areas.

 

  1. If I can do that sitting and watching in Epcot with a beer in hand it will be even better – don’t get the chance to sit out and have a drink in the fresh air much in winter here in Winnipeg and it would feel really good.

 

  1. Spaceship Earth – there is just something so comfortable and relaxing about this ride – love it!

 

  1. Illuminations – it is a tough call but I think Illuminations is my favorite fireworks show at Disney World.

 

  1. International Gateway – my whole family loves this back entrance to Epcot and World Showcase. It is a great place to sit and relax or just to pick up the peaceful vibe.

 

  1. That then leads out to the Beach and Yacht Club and Boardwalk areas – I love the Beach and Yacht areas and we have so many good memories of the trips when we have stayed in this area. I always feel good walking around there. (Kind of nice that my happy place happens to be at about the 24.5 mile point in the Disney World Marathon – nice little mental mood boost right when it is needed most!)

There are obviously many, many more things I will be looking at doing but this is the short list of things I am truly looking forward to for this trip. Beside the running, of course!

2012 versus 2013 versus 2014 mileage and run comparison

As I have now completed my miles for 2014 (and Dopey Challenge 2015 taper is in effect), I wanted to review my mileage from this year versus last year’s and see what kind of progress I have made.

Quick highlights for 2014 are:

Goofy Challenge #4 completed in January.

Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon (WPS Half) – completed in May with a time of 1:46:00 breaking my old PR of 1:46:11 set in 2002.

Manitoba Marathon completed in June with a time of 4:09:44 breaking my old PR of 4:15:01 set in 2005.

Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon run in mid-September. (My wife Heather ran this one too)

Followed 2 weeks later by the 12 Hour Lemming Loop Ultra Marathon (49.2785 miles in 12 hours).

And then the WFPS Half (Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services) 2 weeks after that.

I had 3 months with greater than 200 miles run.

Total year mileage was 1971 miles – a 571 mile increase over 2013. The first 6 months of the year I did 900 miles and then 1071 miles in the last half.

 

Now onto the real comparison…

Total volume of mileage doesn’t tell the whole story so I picked a few specific data points to compare year over year to give a better sense of how different parts of my training have gone.

As I defined what those data points would be I got to wondering as well how far I have come since I decided to get serious about getting back in shape and losing weight back in Sept 2012. Since September through December covers my Goofy Challenge / Dopey Challenge training periods, I figured it would be interesting to also look at how each of the training periods for 2012, 2013 and 2014 compare.

So with that in mind, I came up with 2 major comparisons to do – all of 2013 versus all of 2014 and September through December for 2012 versus the same periods for 2013 and 2014.

The data points / metrics I wanted to look at were:

  1. Total mileage for the period (to see just how much work I put in)
  2. Highest mileage month in the period (to see where I peaked for mileage in the training period)
  3. Fastest run in the period (to see how much quicker I was getting period to period)
  4. Longest run in the period (to show endurance)
  5. # of runs 13.1 miles or greater in length (to show how much of the training time was put into doing long runs)
  6. # of days where I did more than 1 run to get a total of 13.1 miles or greater
  7. # of runs over 13.1 miles (to help show the number of very long runs done in the period as an endurance indicator) (for the September to December comparisons I did this as runs greater than 15 miles to show just the number of long slow runs I did)
  8. # of days where I did more than 1 run to get a total daily mileage greater than 13.1
  9. # of races run in the period (just for interest sake)

2013 versus 2014 full year comparison:

Metric 2013 2014
Total mileage 1400 1971
Highest mileage month December November
Highest month mileage 191.19 201.8
Fastest run (by average mph) 8.32 mph average 4.16 miles in 30 min 9.0 mph average 5 miles in 33:20
longest run (miles) 26.2 49.2785
# runs 13.1 or greater 28 36
Days with total mileage 13.1 or greater with 2 or more runs in a day 0 4
Total days with 13.1 or more (sum) 28 40
# runs greater than 13.1 13 20
Days with total mileage greater than 13.1 with 2 or more runs in a day 0 3
Totals days with mileage greater than 13.1 miles 13 23
# of races and types 5 half marathons, 2 full marathons 4 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 1 x 12 hour (49.2785 miles)

Some quick conclusions here – I trained faster and I did a lot more high mileage training. Both of these showed dividends by breaker half and full distance PRs this year and by completing my first ever ultra marathon.

September through December Goofy Challenge / Dopey Challenge training cycle comparison:

Metric 2012 2013 2014
Total mileage 471.87 649.65 683.0185
Highest mileage month December December November
Highest month mileage 166.88 191.19 201.8
Fastest run (by average mph) 6.99 mph average 5 miles in 42:55 8.32 mph average 4.16 miles in 30 min 8.83 mph average 5 miles in 33:58
longest run (miles) 20 20 49.2785
# runs 13.1 or greater 6 15 12
Days with 2 runs equaling 13.1 miles or greater 0 0 2
# days with total mileage  13.1 miles or greater 6 15 14
# runs 15 miles or greater 5 5 7
# of races and types 0 3 half marathons 2 half marathons, 1 x 12 hour (49.2785 miles)

Quick thoughts – Significant improvements in 2013 versus 2012 – followed very similar plans for training but I did additional training in the summer of 2013 that put me a better spot going into the training that year. 2014 total mileage is not much higher that 2013 and 2013 shows more runs at 13.1 miles or greater (1 more in 2013 shown – weather and treadmill issues played a factor here though). But 2014 had more runs at greater than 15 miles – so I did more long slow training runs in the 2014 training period. This makes sense to be ready for the Dopey Challenge but also the 12 Hour Lemming Loop ultra.

Weight:

From September 1, 2012 through December 31st 2012, I lost 22.5 pounds. Through all of 2013 I lost a further 15 pounds. For 2014, my weight has been static within 5 pounds either way of 219.5. All races run in 2014 were run with my weight between 219 and 222 pounds.

Conclusions:

Looking through all the numbers, it becomes pretty apparent that I peaked in September 2014 in terms of motivation, speed and proper focus. After having completed the 12 hour race (the Lemming Loop) in early October I was probably a bit tired and burnt out and that showed in my performance at the WFPS Half Marathon in later October.

With weather turning in Winnipeg making outdoor running a slower process than it was before and the treadmill crapping out, speed work went out the window. I had a very impressive mileage month in November but without the speed work to add some excitement it just felt like I was phoning it in – there was no spark there, just a continuous push. December was a slower month as well for the same reasons plus my one knee was aching a bit and it had to be babied for a while.

What this all comes out to, is that I am ready for the Dopey Challenge and I am in better shape going into this challenge than I have ever been for any of the 4 Goofy Challenges I have done. But I definitely could have been in even better shape if either the weather or the treadmill had cooperated a bit more. That is the nature of the game though when you are training for a January race and live in Winnipeg.

Part of me is a bit upset that I didn’t get more speed work in but for the most part I am happy with how I have done and how far I have come. Basically I have laid the foundation for my goal of being able to do the Dopey Challenge and actually enjoy it!