Running the Cape

Most people who regularly read this blog know that (among other things) I’ve been spending the last year putting together teams of complete strangers to run Ragnar Relays. Usually, I don’t plan on running the relays. I only serve as the captain and a support staffer for the team. Sometimes, however, there’s a last minute cancellation and one of the runners is unable to run due to an injury or some other reason. In those cases, it can be pretty difficult to find a replacement last minute so I step in as the emergency replacement runner.

Just this week, one of the runners on my Cape Cod Ragnar Relay team, “Running for the Halibut” dropped out due to some IT band syndrome in both knees, so I was thrust into the position of runner #4!  Now as most of you already know, I’ve only recently started up with regular training since a roughly two month hiatus following the St. Petersburg Rock n Roll half marathon. So, I’m probably in the worst shape I’ve ever been in prior to a Ragnar Relay. Here’s a look at my legs:

Skinny? Yes, but I'm fond of them.

Seriously, though, leg #4 is described as “the heart of history and downtown Plymouth”. So, that sounds kind of cool. Here it is in map form:

Very historical and mostly down hill!

That’s the longest leg and probably the one I’m most looking forward to in terms of scenary. Leg #16 will be around midnight. It doesn’t look all that special on the map, but I always love chasing those little blinking red lights (other runners) in the middle of the night. I’m expecting some cool temperatures and an enjoyable run:

Bonus! Another mostly down hill leg.

Leg #28 is my shortest leg and it’s almost entirely on a “rail trail”.  After the two longer legs, I hope I have the legs left to really kill this one. It’s always fun to finish strong.

Short, sweet and another net elevation loss!

This will be my 6th Ragnar Relay. It’s my 5th as a captain, but only the 4th I’ll actually be running. While I’m not in the greatest shape, it is the shortest total distance I’ve ever run in a relay. So, I’m pretty psyched about this surprise race next weekend and I’m looking forward to many road kills!

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Going Granola

My breakfasts usually consist of standing in the kitchen with a bowl of cheerios and a glass of OJ. Running Betty has been trying to get me to switch to oatmeal, but it’s May in Florida and oatmeal just doesn’t sound very good (especially after a hot run). She convinced me this week that I could make granola, pour some milk over it and call it cereal. I accepted her challenge.

Of course, every good granola starts with rum. So, I poured some Cruzan 9 spiced rum over a few ice cubes and got started with gathering my dry ingredients:

The rum goes into you mouth, not into the granola.

3 cups of rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped Blue Diamond Almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon cinnamon

a few shakes of the salt shaker

I wanted clusters of granola that wouldn’t break part in a cereal and I read that an egg white would help hold the clusters together. With that in mind, I mixed together my wet ingredients in a separate bowl:

Dry and wet ingredients warming up to each other

1 egg white

1 cup agave syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

After thoroughly mixing the dry ingredients, I dumped them into a 13 x 9 pan, then poured the wet mixture over the top. Using a fork, I stirred the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until things got a little clumpy. Then, I used my hands to kind of knead things together before flattening everything out in the pan.

I baked the granola at 300 degrees for 1 hour, stirring it every 15 minutes. When it finally came out of the oven, I was a little disappointed with the “clumpiness”, but I let it sit out and cool for about an hour and everything stuck together pretty well. I spooned it into some Tupperware and refrigerated it overnight.

In the morning, I defrosted a handful of frozen blueberries in a bowl, then poured some of my granola over them and added milk. It took me more than 45 seconds to eat, but it was quite delicious! The whole batch was enough for about a week’s worth of breakfasts.

The happy ending

What’s your favorite granola recipe?

Posted in Food | Tagged | 2 Comments

Week in Review 4/23/2012 – 4/29/2012

It’s hard to believe another week is in the books, but time is flying. Friday was the state track & field championships so the season is officially over. That means I’ll have to adjust more to morning runs since I won’t be running with the team in the afternoons (at least for the next two weeks – some of the runners expressed interest in continuing to run after school). I’m holding up pretty well with the 25 mile weeks. I sometimes wake up with a little soreness here and there (especially in my feet), but it goes away after a day off or an easy run. If the last 7 years of running have taught me anything, it’s how to tell the difference between a little soreness and an actual injury in my own body.

Here’s how the week went:

Monday: 4.8 miles easy in the afternoon followed by 3 miles at threshold pace in the evening.

Tuesday: 3.6 miles easy

Wednesday: Body weight strength circuit

Thursday: 4 miles easy in the morning + 3.6 miles easy in the afternoon

Friday: Off

Saturday: 8 miles easy

Sunday: Off

Total: 27 miles

I think I managed to fix my Garmin. I let is sit off for about 5 days, then charged it fully. Once it was fully charged, I got it to turn on and download the new firmware. The firmware supposedly fixes the lockup problem I was having. It made it through the whole week without a problem.

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Week in review: 4/16/2012 – 4/22/2012

Things are starting to roll now. I’m getting out of bed in the morning and enjoying runs again. At this point, I’m basically planning on running the Walt Disney World marathon. I’m not going to register yet, though. It doesn’t fill up as fast as it used to and anything can happen. I’ll wait until the early bird deadline unless it gets really full for some reason.

Here’s how the week went:

Monday morning: Core/Lower body workout

Monday evening: 3 mile threshold pace run with the World of Beer group

Tuesday morning: 3 miles easy

Tuesday afternoon: 2 mile very easy geocaching run

Wednesday: Core/lower body workout

Thursday: 6 miles easy (sped up at the end)

Friday: 3 miles easy

Saturday: 8 miles easy

Sunday: Off

Total: 25 miles

I think I finally fixed my Garmin Forerunner, so can actually get times for my runs in the coming weeks. I sketched out the summer and figured out where I need to be at the end of the summer to really ramp up into a solid training plan that will get me close to the 3 hour mark in January. I’ll need to be around 60 miles per week at the end of the summer. Given that fact, I can stick with 25 miles per week for a couple more weeks and then increase my mileage 5-8 miles per week every 3 weeks.

I’ve also done some research into producing some home gym equipments, so I might have some fun “how to” posts coming up!

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Week in Review 04/09/2012-04/15/2012

Cheers to another solid week since my “marathon training sucks” post:

Monday afternoon: 4.5 miles easy with the track team

Monday evening: 3 miles (7:10, 7:09, 8:32) with the World of Beer group

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: 3 miles easy “runcaching

Thursday: 4 miles easy (8:43 pace)

Friday: Off

Saturday: 9 miles easy

Sunday: Off

Total: 23.5

My goal was to 20 miles. I would have had 20.5, but I felt good on Sunday and decided to continue running with another 3 miles after the group finished 6. Meghann, a young lady who is moving to St. Pete in the beginning of May joined our group for the run and she was planning on doing 12. I ran the extra 3 with her to show her a little more of our normal running route. I was definitely done after the 9 and sent her on her way to finish off her 12 without me.

I’m holding up pretty well. I felt a little twinge in the normal spot on my left knee on Thursday morning. I actually adjusted by running a little taller which engaged my hamstrings a little more, relieving some of the stress on my quads. The pain went away almost as soon as I made that adjustment. I still need to start doing some strength training, though. I think I’ll aim to hit 20-25 miles again next with the addition of the strength training.

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At a recent meeting of Tampa Bay area bloggers, I was introduced to Geo-caching. That night, I downloaded an app for my phone and (accompanied by Alice‘s birthday party-goers) found my first cache just over a quarter mile from my home. It occurred to me at some point that Geo-caching might be a fun exercise for the cross country or track teams.

Since the district Track & Field championships are tomorrow, I’ve given the distance runners relatively low key workouts this week. Yesterday was supposed to be an easy three mile run, but everybody thought that was pretty boring. So, we went geo-caching instead. We grabbed some stickers from the school’s advancement office and off we went. The first cache was a half mile run away. We found the camouflage painted peanut container pretty quickly and it was full of goodies. We traded some of our stickers for a few goodies from the cache, signed the log and headed off to the next cache a half mile in the other direction.

That cache was a duct tape wallet with a signed dollar inside! Score! The third cache was another 3/4 mile away. We were excited because it was described as a coffee can, so we expected a lot of goodies inside. We headed to the cache position and looked around. We found a dead dog and some other things we would have preferred not to see, but unfortunately did not find the hidden cache. We know we were close because others described seeing the dead dog near the cache so perhaps we’ll have to return and look for it again.

Our haul from an hour of Geo-caching.

By the end of practice, we had run about 3.5 miles in the process of Geo-caching. Sure, there was a lot of downtime while we searched for the caches, but it was planned as an easy day anyway. The goal was simply to get some movement in our legs without taxing ourselves too much. We accomplished that goal and everyone had fun!

On the personal running front, I’ve logged 15.5 miles so far this week so I should end up with 20-25 miles by the end of the week and that’s exactly where I want to be.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Saucony Kinvara 3

A few weeks ago, I returned to the office after a vacation on the beach and found a package sitting on my desk. I practically jumped out of my shoes when I opened the box to find this:

My love of the Saucony Kinvara has been well documented. I regularly run in two pairs of the Kinvara and simply wear a pair of the Kinvara 2 around everyday. I didn’t even know they were working on the Kinvara 3, but here it is!

The first thing I noticed about the Kinvara 3 when I slid the shoes on was a generally sleeker look. Although my measurements tell me there’s no change in the width of the shoe, the midfoot area looks thinner (and therefore faster). There’s still plenty of room in the toebox for my toes to spread out (and absorb shock) on impact.

The biggest change from the Kinvara 2 is the additon of Flexfilm to the upper. Where the Kinvaras 1 and 2 had a “plasticy” feel over the shoes’ breathable mesh upper, the Kinvara 3 uses Flexfilm (a lightweight, highly dynamic flexible film) to secure and stabilize the foot. This is accomplished with an awesome looking pattern that had one of my track and field athletes offering to purchase the shoes off my feet. While the new technology appears to reduce the amount of material on the shoes, the weight has remained the same at 7.7 ounces (based on a men’s size 9). The new upper design will eliminate a small flaw in the Kinvaras 1 and 2 where the “plasticy material” would occasionally tear under high stress.

I’ve put about 40 miles on these shoes since they arrived and I absolutely love them. The look alone gives me a mental edge of feeling faster and they have the same comfortable feel that I’ve loved about the Kinvara over the last 2 years.

The Kinvara 3 will be available on April 26th.

***Disclaimer: The shoes were complimentary, but the opinions are solely mine.  I’m not saying they’re the perfect shoe for everyone, but I absolutely love them.  If I didn’t, I’d tell you that.***

Posted in Gear | 5 Comments

Week in Review: April 2-8, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a “week in review” post mostly because I haven’t had a whole lot to report. I’ll admit that there’s not a whole lot to report this week either, but I have started things up again:

Monday: 3 miles easy

Tuesday: 5 miles easy

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Off

Friday: 3 miles easy

Saturday: 5.3 miles easy

Sunday: Off

Total: 16.3 miles

16.3 miles! That’ll be about the average long run if I decide to run the Walt Disney World marathon. After Monday and Tuesday’s runs, I felt a little soreness in my knees. I took Wednesday and Thursday off and the soreness went away. Friday morning’s run was very pleasant and we had a great group for the Saturday morning run.

Everything feels good now, so I’ll see if I can ramp up to (gasp) 20 miles next week. I’m still running very much by feel so I don’t really want to force myself into any kind of schedule just yet. Still, I’d like to get a little more mileage next week.

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Running for Brews St. Pete

On Saturday, I showed up to my normal group run (the one I lead) planning on doing 5 or 6 miles. Inia was the only other person who showed up and she wanted to do 8 so I ran along with her. The pace was right around 10 minutes per mile and I held up well, though I was glad to be finished. My legs were sore most of the rest of the day.

In my new mission to further explore the local running community, I headed to World of Beer last night for the Running for Brews St. Pete group run. There, I met Tori for the second time in as many weeks and Rick, who ran with me two Saturdays ago. This group is just over a month old, but 33 people showed up. It was only a 3 mile run punctuated with 2 stops for lunges, sprints and other strength exercises.

I ran pretty comfortably with the two leaders for the first 3/4 mile before they stopped to lead the group in the strength exercises. Since I had already done some of that with the track team earlier in the day, I circled back to Tori and another runner (Erika) who had also decided to skip that portion of the workout. We continued on up the pier and back to World of beer at just under a 10 minute mile pace.

The running for brews group. Yes, this picture was taken a few weeks before I ran with them, but they haven't changed much in the last month...there's just more of them.

Afterward, World of Beer had some great half price specials for runners on about 10-12 draft beers. I had a Carlsberg lager because I don’t like heavy beers (especially after I’ve just run). I can’t say it was the best beer I’ve ever had, but it sure was cheap!


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I finally forgot

I ran my last marathon in February 2010. It’s been roughly 25 months. Late yesterday morning, I was browsing through some posts on the “Bling Whores” Facebook group when I suddenly forgot how much marathon training sucks. I forgot about Saturday afternoons lazing around on the couch or dragging my butt behind my wife at the grocery store because I ran an insane number of miles earlier in the morning. I forgot about what it’s like to not have any free time because it’s all spent running.

Woe is me. No bueno.

I forgot that the first time I tried to run a marathon, I limped for 8 miles, then spent 5 quality minutes in a port-a-potty before limping another 19 miles to the finish line (my limping caused some meandering) before limping through a maze of Powerade tables, food tables, photo areas and finally a baggage tent where I was greeted by my family and another quarter mile limp to a bus.

I forgot that the second time I ran a marathon, I was cruising along like a champ well on my way to the goal time before I decided that consuming my last gel seemed like too much effort. I forgot that my calves cramped up at mile 24. I forgot the sound of the voices on the crowd lined street and the man who said,

“He’s cramping, honey! Look, he’s cramping.”

Only half as far? Muy Bueno!

I forgot that I long ago decided that the half marathon is my favorite distance.

I thought for a brief moment, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to run the Walt Disney World marathon this year?”.

And the thought didn’t get immediately squashed. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World marathon and my first marathon was the 15th anniversary. Some people run it every year. Maybe I run it every 5 years. The Florida Keys Ragnar Relay is the weekend before the Disney Marathon instead of the same weekend. So, I can have a Ragnar team and still run Disney.

I’m not committing. It’s 286 days away. I’ve been whipping kids into shape at track practice and frantically putting together Ragnar Relay teams for adults. I’ve been working three jobs and my thoughts have been running into so many directions that I sometimes wish I could just go back to stocking the shelves of the grocery store everyday.

It seems I’ve forgotten how much that sucked too.

My point is that the one thing I haven’t been doing a lot of is running. While a race is often good motivation, I need to prove to myself that I still enjoy that level of running without the lure of a race.

From past experience I also know I need a good running group to help me through the miles. When I ran my second marathon, I had Richie, Steve and Justin running with me every Saturday morning. Their early morning good humor made the miles fly by and those long runs were often the highlight of my week instead of something to be dreaded. On any given Saturday, one of us was always feeling good enough to challenge the rest of the group to run a little bit faster. Because of them, that second marathon was actually a lot better than I made it sound. I PR’ed by nearly two hours, after all!

So, we’ll see how the next few months go. Maybe I’ll hit a few beer runs on weekday nights to feel out the rest of the running community. There are always plenty of locals running Disney!


Posted in Inspiration | 6 Comments