The Adventure of a Marathon!

As you may recall, I had yet to complete a 20 mile long run since my first marathon in April. This was important to ensure I was both physically and mentally ready to “Rock It” in Seattle. On the first Saturday in June, I was able to get a slow, but steady 20 miles run despite the 80 degree heat. I did slow down to about a 14 Minute mile, but that’s just the smart thing to do in this warm weather!

With the 20 mile run behind me, I was able to relax a bit and start tapering before Seattle. The next weekend though; I had the opportunity to run with my friend Stephanie, who was planning to run Grandma’s Marathon on the 18th. I don’t run with anyone, but my iPhone, so having a fellow runner to help pass the miles was awesome! Although there were points were I didn’t feel my best, mostly due to the warm temps, we got through 14 miles in about 3 hours and time certainly passed very quickly!

With all the running done and logging about 170 miles since my first marathon;, it was time to spend the week packing my bags and fly to Seattle on Thursday June 16th. Packing is the easy & fun part because it does not involve heat, humidity and helps me think through what I’ll need and make sure I’m totally prepared, not only for the trip, but the race itself.

I arrived in Seattle on time Thursday morning, with no issues, but it did take a bit to find/figure out where to get Uber in the airport. The airport had a designated area in the parking garage that I was able to find, but it’s definitely not as straightforward as KC.

I ended up using UberPOOL, which allows you to share the cost of the trip with someone else who is going to a nearby destination. This worked our really well, because my fellow rider had arrived for the half marathon. We passed the time talking about running, which is always good! I continue to be amazed at how open and friendly the running community is. We all enjoy learning and sharing about the joys, challenges and hardships that running brings.

After getting checked into my hotel I headed to CenturyLink Field where the expo was held. This was only about a half mile away so it was an easy walk. However, it is very frustrating to navigate downtown Seattle, because half the streets are straight and the other half follow the river so that means your GPS App goes crazy!

The Rock & Roll marathon does an excellent job in setting up their expo and Race in general. There are three main areas. First you get your Bib/timing chip, then go to the next station to get your shirt/goodies and then head in to the Expo to “shop”.

I spent a lot of time at the expo, just cruising the booths and seeing what was there. I always find this kind of fun, just to see what’s on the market. Thursday seems to be a great time to go just because things were a lot more calm. I went back Friday, to meet a friend and the expo was much busier and I was very glad I already had my race gear!

After getting my marathon bib etc. I headed back to my hotel to lay everything out and make sure I was totally ready to run on Saturday. This was pretty straightforward as I had already prepared most everything. So I filled my hydration bladder with water, bottles with NUUN, flipbelt with gels/protein bars and attached the timing chip to my shoe.

With the race prep behind me, it was time to enjoy Seattle a little. I ate pretty well and got to see Pioneer Squire and Pike’s Market, get some coffee (Starbucks of course) and just relax; although I ended up walking about 7 miles on Friday. This is normally not a problem for me, but with a marathon the next day I hoped I hadn’t overextended myself.

My “quick peek” at Seattle was great, but I’d like to go back someday and get a better view. Friday night I had a great pasta dinner at the hotel and then headed back to my room to get some rest before my 4:30 AM alarm.

I slept pretty well and awoke promptly at about 4:30 feeling good and my legs didn’t mind their extended use on Friday. It took me about 45 minutes to get ready by 5:15 to walk the roughly 1.5 miles to the Space Needle where the race would start. My original plan was to walk to the start on Friday, just to make sure I knew where I was going, but I had no trouble getting to the start by 6.

I walked around Seattle Center, used the Porta-John and was also able to visit with a gentleman, who had lost count as to how many marathons he had run! He thought it was in the hundreds, but I could definitely tell he still loved running and wanted to help people in the process. I certainly want to help and encourage others as I continue to run as far and as long as my Lord and my body will let me (Hebrews 12:2)!

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Seattle Space Needle

As the start time got close, I had to find my way into the corral; I ended up in corral 18 instead of my assigned corral of 29. My marathon adventure finally started at 7:45. The weather was perfect for a run! Overcast in the mid-60s and a slight mist. No overheating on this 26.2!

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Go Time!

The course was absolutely beautiful and I was able to take pictures throughout my run and enjoy the scenery. The other thing was, I felt great and was able to keep my R/W/R ratio of 1Min/30Sec throughout the race! There were times of course that I thought I’d walk more, but I really felt good and was able to stay consistent overall. The only trouble I had was the hard concrete on the bridge; which made my feet sore, but now I know Hokas next time! Although I did not chat with anyone on the run; the amount of people, bands and good aid stations kept me motivated. It was also great to run through the blue mile at 6 & 18, where they had folks with American flags and posters of veterans.

Even though the last miles were harder, I was able to finish in 5:39:51, about 2 minutes faster than my first marathon! I had hoped for 5:30, but I’ll do that this fall at the KC Marathon. All in all, my adventure to Seattle is one I hope to repeat! With two marathons under my belt, I have learned marathons are hard no matter how hard you train, but the rewards are greater than the pain & the personal satisfaction can help improve other aspects of life! So peek running to finish!

Until next time!

Phil

 

 

Fighting to Run Another Day!

As runners, we learn, that sometimes the events of life, health or even the weather can keep us from getting in the training we need, but we also know that determination is vital to ensure we are ready for race day. After completing the Running with the Cows half marathon, my focus turned to getting in a 20 mile run the following week and keep up my Seattle marathon training. However, I came down with a cold and tried my best to fight it off, not only to feel better, but to keep on running! Still with a cold, I thought I’d give 20 miles a shot, but after struggling through 10, I knew I’d better try again later.

After taking a few days off, my cold was gone and I was able to get a couple 2 mile runs in, but the 75-80 degree heat made them no fun at all! So if anybody wants to know, I’ll take a 20 degree cold run over 80+ any day 🙂 My logic is that I can “insolate” myself from the cold to an extent, but cooling towels or not, the sun is still HOT!

My third short run of the week presented another challenge…RAIN! After work, with a storm on the way, I quickly changed and got about 1.7 miles. Then the wind really picked up and the sky got even darker, so I headed home as fast as I could! Needless to say, I did not beat the rain; but I arrived home safe and soaked, This run in the rain, will not be one I will soon forget!

Saturday rolled around and with all the rain this last week I knew my normal long run route would not be in the best shape, so my plan was to run around the neighborhood and then try to do what I could on the trail. As I started to head out I knew there was a slick spot on the sidewalk, but planned to walk it and just keep moving. Well, as you might guess, a few steps in and I went down hard on my left hip…NOT FUN! So I collected my wet and muddy self and turned around and kept going. My hip hurt, but I could still run and went about 3.5 miles and thought I’d better call it a day so as not to make things worse! Later that day and Sunday I iced my hip and figured I’d try the long run again on Memorial Day.

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The slick sidewalk:-)

Instead of sleeping in on Memorial Day, I knew I needed to get up early to try and beat the heat if I wanted to get in a 20 mile run. So I got up at 5:30 and left the house at 7. Not as early as I wanted, but hey, I was up and moving and my hip felt pretty good. My route plan was to avoid the wet section I’d fallen on Saturday, loop the neighborhood a couple times and hit the trail.

My long run was mostly successful, I got in 9 miles around the area then I headed toward the trail. I felt pretty good and my sore hip did not bother me, but it was getting warmer and I was drinking water and Nuun and using my cooling towel as much as I could! This of course did not give me a new lease on life, but it helped a little! After about 12-13 miles, I decided to switch my Run/Walk/Run from 1M/30S to 30S/1M. This helped a bit more, but finally after about 15 miles I decided to throw in the towel and get Uber to take me home! This proved to be a wise decision as I was running pretty low on water and I was starting to get a headache, which I knew was from the heat. Although I did not get in my full 20 miles, I think I could have had the heat not gotten the better of me. I’ll give it another shot this weekend and then start tapering for my Seattle marathon on June 18th. With all these challenges, I’m learning determination is crucial and I must keep fighting to run another day!

Keep on Running!

Phil

 

Post Garmin and Running with the Cows!

The afternoon after I ran the Garmin marathon I was beat, but mentally I was on cloud 9. I had just completed a goal I had worked toward for six months and previous to that I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of running for 5+ hours! I took some wise advice and just chilled out for the next week. I stretched and rolled and got a massage Sunday afternoon. I was still sore and stairs were my enemy, but after a week of taking it easy, I was back to “normal”.

It is important to note that normal is a relative term when it comes to runners. When I tell people I’m training for a marathon or going to do a long run of pretty much any length, I get a wide range of responses, but in their mind I’m sure they think I’m crazy! Well guess what? I’m perfectly ok with that and the fact of the matter is, you have to be a little nuts to put your body through hundreds of miles and countless hours of preparation and effort; to say nothing of the “Ultra-Crazy” athletes that break the boundary of 26.2 and head out on dangerous trails for hundreds of miles; when I grow up as a runner I want to run an Ultra (My goal for 2017).

A full week after my marathon, I was ready to test my legs and ran an easy 5k (3.1 miles). It felt good. I spent the following week running several “short and easy” 2-5 mile runs totaling 15 miles. I then went on a nice 15 mile run. It felt pretty good, but I was kinda worn out and had to “wade” through some waterlogged parts of the trail:-)

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My feet got a little wet:-)

Nearly 3 weeks after Garmin and almost 6 weeks until Seattle, I was pretty much back into “training mode”. My schedule that week was a little off given that I needed to be out of town on the weekend and would not have time for any running, so I ventured out on a Thursday night for what I hoped would be 20 miles. It was a beautiful evening and I felt great for pretty much the entire run. About 16 miles in, it was getting pretty late and I stopped at a sub shop that was just off the trail. This “pit-stop” allowed me to talk myself out of the last 4 miles, so I ordered a sandwich and called Uber to take me home:-)

Now a full month after my marathon, I realized that I needed to address an issue I was having with my shoes. The HOKA Bondi 4’s that had just shy of 200 miles were not supporting my left foot and I was supinating pretty bad. Fortunately, this did not cause an injury, but I knew it was not gonna work for Seattle or any other long runs. So, after talking to my chiropractor I went to the local running store and the only shoes they had in my size were Saucony Kinvara 6s. They were on sale and felt pretty good so I thought this was a great solution! I will of course replace the Bondi’s wth a different HOKA shoe and wll report on that later on.

After testing my new shoes on a couple short runs it was time to really prove them out at the Running with the Cows half marathon. This is really a great race, with rolling hills a couple thousand runners, great aid stations and even better food at the end! Prior to the race on Saturday, I decided to get my packet on Thursday night and go home to get everything ready. I really like to get my packet on early just to make sure I have everything and all my stuff is pretty much ready with time to “relax” and focus on the race itself.

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Yea I was early:-)

I got up at 4:30 on Saturday and got ready and called Uber around 5:15 and arrived at the race around 5:45, which was a little early, but I wanted to avoid the construction that could have delayed my arrival:-) I was able to “hang out” and visit with a fellow runner who had also arrived early, which helped pass the time. The race started promptly at 7:30 and we were off! It was pretty chilly and windy, but overall I have no complaints. I ended up finishing in 2:27:51. A couple minutes slower than last year, but this race is just a “tune-up” for Rock n’ Roll Seattle Marathon on June 18th.

In the coming weeks, I plan to work in a few more 20+ mile runs that I will try and report on as Seattle gets closer.

Keep on Running until next time!

 

Phil

 

The Pursuit of a Marathon

I originally wrote this post for MamaGottaRun

Almost Time to Go
Just before Garmin April 23, 2016

Life before the marathon

My desire to embark on the journey to a marathon began about three years ago. Of course, even then I had no idea I would end up running a 26.2-mile race in three short years! However, before I explain how I started training for a marathon, I need to give you some background on who I am and why running has become one of the things I love to do.

When I was born, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP). This was caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain at birth. In some cases, CP can mean severe physical and mental limitations. Although my family might argue the mental limitation part, God allowed me to have what is considered a very mild case. Even so, I have had and continue to face challenges on a daily basis: I am legally blind in my left eye, have limited use of my left hand and my left leg is a little shorter than my right. All that to say, I don’t drive, so getting around can involve a lot of walking or rides from Uber or friends!

As a result of these limitations, using my feet for exercise seemed to be a great fit. I started working out in the gym but just couldn’t get used to lifting weights, the elliptical, or the “dreadmill,” so I began using an indoor track and a 5K training app. I was also inspired to start running when several in my family were running, and my sister-in-law, Dawn, was even doing full marathons! This inspired me to give it a shot and push myself in a way I never thought possible. As I started to train for a 5k, which was the Sprint Campus 5K in October of 2013, the spark to keep running began.

How I got to the marathon

As I started down the road to running, I had no clue what I was doing and ran that first 5K in just under 30 minutes. Boy was I worn out! I didn’t pace myself but rather gave it all I had. I would soon learn that was not the best approach from an endurance standpoint. I then ran the Thanksgiving Day 5K a month later and a 10K after that. The spark of the first 5K and subsequent 10K now had become a burning flame, and this running thing became not only a hobby, but a habit too. I had a “hobby” that was good for me, and I could just “run out the door” and keep challenging my limits.

After the 10K, the next goal was a half marathon. So I started training with my Nike+ app and Hal Higdon’s training app. Here again, I’m not sure I really knew what I was doing, but I put in the miles, and in October 2014 I ran the Prairie Fire half in Wichita, KS with my brother and sister-in-law. I was sore for two days after, but finished in under 2:30, and I told myself this would not be my last long race. So I set a goal to run 2-3 half marathons in 2015. The year 2015 came, and I kept running and enjoyed it, connected with runners on Twitter and even at my doctor’s office. I loved to talk to anyone who would listen about my passion for running and learned all I could!

My goal of running 2-3 half marathons ended up being 5. The Heartland 39.3 series was a great adventure and allowed me to experience 3 great races the KC Metro has to offer. In the fall, I did a small half in St. Joe, MO, which was fun, especially when I found my brother and 6-year-old nephew chasing me at the end! My last race of 2015 was another half marathon at the Indianapolis Marathon. This was a beautiful course, and I ran most of the race getting to chat and learn from an experienced marathoner!

After running 6 half marathons and learning more about running, I was finally able to wrap my head around attempting a marathon. After running Indy, I decided to run the Garmin Marathon. My experienced sister-in-law, Dawn, told me to stay local so I could have the encouragement of friends and family. This proved to be some very valuable advice.

As I embarked on training, the Run Walk Run method taught by Jeff Galloway proved to be a great way to conquer 26.2 one interval at a time! I did some looking around and found that Runkeeper would allow me to set up running intervals, which was great because I could start the app and my music and RUN.

My training officially started in November, but I was fresh off a half marathon, so I didn’t have to start from scratch. The mileage each week began to grow, and I would average roughly 2-3 short runs of 2-4 miles each through the week and then a long run on Saturday on the beautiful Indian Creek Trail. Part of the adventure was to see how far I could get before I needed to turn around.

As February-March came, I had made it to the end of the trail & back and was able to get several 20+ mile runs and even a full 26.2 under my feet! Now that I had run the distance, I knew I would not surrender and would conquer the marathon.

The marathon and beyond

After running Rock the Parkway on April 9, race week was finally here. After six months of consistent training and 500 miles, I was excited and ready to RUN! I went to get my packet on Thursday and cruised the sponsor tables where I met Traci (of Mamagottarun) and Bubba (Garmin Race Director), who graciously provided me the opportunity to win a free entry! It was just great to take it all in and yes I was nervous, but after all the hard work and encouragement of family and friends, I knew it was just a matter of getting it done!

With packet in hand, I went home to get my running gear laid out to make Friday a simple night since I’m not one to leave things to the last minute. On Friday, my sister-in-law, Dawn, who has been an inspiration and encouragement throughout my pursuit of running, came to help and cheer me on.

The coveted restful night before a race does not always happen, and Friday proved to be no exception. I got up at 4:15 and surprisingly, got ready on auto-pilot. I showered, got geared up, grabbed a breakfast burrito, and we headed out the door. We got to the convention center with no problems around 5:15 and just waited until about 6-ish. Shortly after 6:15, I joined the other runners as we waited for GO TIME at 6:45!

We were off, and as the race unfolded, I continued to use Run Walk Run (1:30 run/35s walk). I was averaging an 11:30 pace through the first half and really felt great! At mile 11 my sister-in-law met me, and we ran together for a bit. Then at mile 12, we parted, and I started down the Mill Creek Trail.

Things were still going ok, but I was starting to feel the miles pile up on my legs. Also, my average pace was slipping a few seconds every mile. At mile 16 I really started counting down, not only because I was getting tired, but I knew I only had 10 miles left. The turnaround at mile 18.5 finally came, and I headed back down the trail, continuing to feel my heavy legs and even started walking a bit more.

I called Dawn to tell her I was headed back, and she said she was around a couple of corners, but those were some of the longest corners! I kept moving and running when I could, but I was heading toward “The Wall.”

The Best Pacer in the World!
Me and Dawn

From a nutrition standpoint, I was alternating Stinger gels and half a Clif Bar every three miles and a SaltStick pill every couple of hours, so I knew my nutrition was ok. I just had to keep moving and pushing myself! I knew I could do it since I had done it before.

At about mile 23-24, I saw Dawn and was so relieved since I knew the end was even closer, and now I had the best encouragement, help and motivation I could ask for. She stayed by me, encouraged me, and told me to stop talking and just breathe. We walked, ran some, and after a “ridiculous hill” the finish line was in sight. I gave it all I had to finish my first marathon in 5 Hours, 41 Minutes and 47 Seconds.

Me and Runner friend Laurel
Me and Runner friend Laurel

It was a great feeling to have accomplished my goal. My brother Adam, his family, and my runner friend Laurel were there to greet me after many months of encouraging words. It was fantastic to see them, but boy did I hurt. You name it, and it probably hurt! We walked around a bit, and I got my results. Then I finally felt like eating. What better place to go than IHOP.

Finisher Gold Medal from my Neice
A finisher medal from my niece!

After a couple of hours, some stretching, foam rolling and a cool bath, I was feeling human again. I slept like a baby that night, but was pretty sore the next couple of days, even with a massage on Sunday. I kept stretching, and I woke up Wednesday with no pain or soreness. I still took the rest of the week off from running, but my first marathon will not be my last.

Even before running Garmin, I had registered for Running with the Cows Half Marathon on May 14 and then the Rock & Roll Marathon in Seattle on June 18! I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle, and what better excuse to go there than to run a Marathon? It’s amazing what opportunities running can present, both personally and geographically.

Pursuing a marathon has proven to be a challenging but fulfilling learning experience. I have learned that “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” (Philippians 4:13) The Lord allowed me to be born with limitations, but running has taught me that He is able to strengthen, protect and enable me to do things I never thought possible. With a grateful heart I thank my Lord, family, friends and fellow runners (Traci, Stephanie, Liz, Laurel and many more). Your advice, encouragement and motivation have helped me to achieve something few have even attempted!

So keep running to finish!
Phil

A Marathon and Zensah Review

In this update, I’d like to share my next big goal and a review of the Zensah Running gloves

My next running goal is to complete the Garmin Marathon on April 16th, 2016! Frankly, it took me several months and half Marathons to wrap my head around even thinking about training. What changed my mind you ask? Well, it helps to be consistent in your running and surround yourself with runners who not only do Marathon’s but complete Ultra Marathons on a regular basis (Anything over 26.2). I’ve been very fortunate to follow and interact with a lot of great runners on twitter and when you hear the successes, trials and the sheer joy of attacking and completing a race, you just can’t help but embrace the Marathon! It’s the gold standard of running and is attainable to anyone who is willing to dedicate, time effort and focus! Ok so I haven’t run it yet, but I’m anticipating the achievement of bold personal goal!

Before I get to the Zensah review, I wanted to touch quickly on how I’m training for the Marathon. I’m using Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk/Run Method for my long runs. In my case I run 2.5 minutes and walk 2 minutes. So far this has served me quite well on several 10 and 15+ mile runs! Through the week I do shorter runs, typically 3-7 mile runs and then a long run on Saturday. I’m expecting to top out at 30-35 miles per week and do a few 27 mile runs well before Garmin!

With the cool Winter months coming, I knew I was going to need a solid hair of running gloves! Laster year I just used some off the shelf gloves that were pretty frustrating and so after comparing the Zensah gloves with the Under Armour gloves, I decided to give the Zensah’s a shot. Here is my take:

Size/Fit: I selected the Large gloves because I have pretty big hands and did not want them to be too tight! I have found them to be quite comfortable and they preform well when using them for normal tasks. They also feel like a second skin. Some other gloves I’ve worn were too bulky and I had to take them off to do anything.

Function: No running glove would be complete without touch sensitive fingertips. The tips on these gloves work perfectly and don’t miss like some cheaper gloves can. The reflective/bright colors are also great to make sure those cars see you on the goad!

Bottom Line: I’m very happy with these gloves so far and look forward to using them the rest of this winter and for years to come!!

Until next time…Keep up the sMiles!

Phil

Intro & BioSkin Review

Over the last year or so I have discovered the joy that the challenge of running can bring to anyone who wants to embrace it! If you would have asked me, a few years ago, if I would become a runner; I would have said, “No Way!” I would have been able to provide you with a whole host of excuses, which are sometimes so easy when we face the tests of life! However, after starting with training for a 5k in 2013, a 10k and my first Half Marathon in 2014, I’ve now made running a part of my life with 5 Half Marathons and a 10k in 2015! This is not just for the fitness aspects, but also to compete against myself and see how far I can go in this wonderful adventure of running! Next stop….a Full Marathon in 2016!

I’ll continue to share what I learn from running in future posts, but wanted to start with a review of the BioSkin Calf Compression Sleeves. About a month ago they contacted me and asked if I would review their product, having not done a product review before or used a compression product so I thought I’d give it a shot! In testing the sleeves, I used them during short, (3mile-5mile), long (10mile-15mile) and recovery/post run. At first they made my legs feel a bit “heavy”, but I soon got used to them. I will continue to wear them during runs, but found that they helped my legs feel much better wearing them after a long run! Here are a few details that may help you if you decide to give them a try:

    • Sizing: The sleeves are not one size fits all, which is great because my left leg is smaller than my right. You will notice that the sizing is based on your calf, so for me I got a Large (14”-16”) for my left leg and an XL (16”-18”) for my right. Be sure and measure before you order them.
    • Fit: I found that putting the sleeves on was pretty easy and they do not seem to get stretched out with the pulling that’s required to get them on. Make sure your legs are dry before you put them on as this will make putting them on much easier. They can sometimes be a little hard to remove, but removing them inside out helps.
    • Using: I found that the sleeves stayed tight to my legs and didn’t really curl up as I ran, it’s nice that once they are on they stay on. They do wrinkle a bit, but that has more to do with movement than anything, but it does not cause any discomfort!
  • Summary: I would definitely recommend these sleeves and suggest that you give them a try! I didn’t know what to expect from compression sleeves, but have found it is a help mostly in recovery and I’m glad I now have another tool to help me embrace the job of running!

 

Keep up the sMiles!

Phil