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Yesterday I finished the St. Louis Frostbite Half Marathon on my 30th birthday.  It was an adventure, to say the least; an adventure I shared with my brother-in-law, Ray.

Honestly, it was not the best training cycle.  Training for a long distance road race over the winter in the Midwest is just stupid.  Yeah, I said it.  Stupid.  Being a busy guy with work, school, and family to preoccupy the majority of my time, the mornings before I go to work is the optimal times for me to get my run in.  Unfortunately, that is also the coldest part of the day.  Some days when I got up, it was in the single digits with the windchill in the negatives.  The treadmill was used whenever I could, but I had to get used to the cold weather for the race.  I would do a few runs after work, before dinner when I could.  By the time Christmas came around, I had a decent base.

New Years Eve brought about the drive for me to take my running a little more serious.  I wanted to be as regimented as possible leading up to my race so I could perform well.  My run on the 3rd of January ended with me clutching my right calf.  A strain, same as last training cycle.  I knew what this meant.  7-10 days off of running, if not more.  All of my base-building long runs in the weeks prior to the race would not happen.  The 13.1 mile race was going to hurt.  That was something I was looking to avoid.

A week prior to the race, my actual calf was feeling better, but I had a dull ache in my lower leg.  It wasn’t always there, and never extreme, but it just lurked.  I was wondering if I had a stress fracture.  I did a really easy 5 mile run with a DailyMile friend, Jason Smith.  He was nice enough to run at my pace versus his pace.  By the time I finished, I was very nervous about the race.  At this point, 6 days from the race, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  There’s no catch-up, no make-up, no extra credit.  It is a pure reflection of the hours you put in.  Decided to rest for the week.

The weather on the day of the race (and the day of my 30th birthday) could have been a lot worse.  We had worse around here the few days prior.  Driving to the race with Raymond, it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit at 7:30am.  The race began at 9, so we might see a few more degrees before then.  We parked, registered, then chilled out before the race.  We met up with Michael Yoon and his friend Jenny, both local, accomplished runners.  We had to run back out to the car before the race began for me to get my belt and drop off my money and ID.  Decided to call an audible on my choice of running clothing.

Originally, I had on my Saucony Kinvara Vizi-Pro’s, short running socks, Zensah calf sleeves, Starter tights, Adidas shorts, C9 baselayer, long sleeved-tech shirt, Old Navy running jacket, Saucony Neckwarmer, and Saucony DryLete hat.  I decided I didn’t need the tights.  So, back in the car, I shed the tights.  I can tell you that taking tights off inconspicuously in the passenger seat of a Mazda 6 is not easy.  I kept the Zensah calf sleeves on as a means of keeping my legs warm as well as compression for my calf.  We met up with my wife and kids, Ray’s wife, and our mother-in-law, all of which were braving the cold to cheer us on.  Ray and I said our goodbyes and walked down to the starting line, which was about 1/4 mile from the parking lot.

Waiting for the race to begin, we run into Michael and Jenny again.  We take a group picture, and Jenny convinces us to move to the front.  The race was small (800-1000 runners) and gun-timed.  Basically, we all had race bibs with chips in them.  The time started for everyone when the gun went off, regardless of when you crossed the finish line.  The time stopped when you ran through the finish chute.  So, Ray and I move closer to the front.  The gun goes off, and we have 90% of the racers run past us.  Awesome way to start.

Like most people, we started out to hot.  Both Ray and I decided to run between 11-12 min/mile pace for the race.  The first half mile we ran close to a 9 min/mile pace.  Kind of got caught up in all of the hoopla.  We pass by our families 1/2 mile in and go around the first loop.  We pass by the families again at mile 2 and head towards the large part of the loop.  The big part of the loop was 4 miles of rolling hills.  I didn’t really know there would be so many hills.  There were 4 hills in the 4 miler part.  Up and down – flat – up and down – flat.  We pulled back in by the families around the 6 mile mark, feeling ok.  Well, I was a little haggard.  We did the small loop and came back by the family spectator area.  They weren’t there.  Bummer.  Last time around the big loop, then we were done.  Let’s do it!

The hills seemed to have grown since the last time we came through.  Running an average pace around 11:30 min/miles, Ray had the idea that we would start gunning it around mile 11.  By mile 11, my legs were shot.  I told him he could go for it if he wanted, but my foot was aching.  We had picked up a couple of other runners near the back of the pack suffering with us.  Four of us in total counted down the remaining mileage and hills.  One hill down, one hill (and 1.5 miles) left.  I had to take two walk breaks in the last 1.5 miles.  The last walk break with 3/4 mile left in the race helped tremendously.  I was ready to be done, I started to run.  The final 1/4 of a mile, I managed to hit a 9 min/mile pace.  I ran through the chute with my family cheering me on.  I slumped over a trash can to give my legs a relief from gravity and pressure.  Turning around, my eyes caught Ray sauntering through the chute less than a minute behind me.  Both of us finished in 2:29 minutes.  It was Ray’s first, and a PR of 8 minutes for me.  After some stretching, we both chugged a Honey Milk on the way to McGurk’s Irish Pub.  Had some lunch, I had a couple beers, then home to nap – for 2 and a half hours.  Basically, I passed out for the same amount of time I ran.  Don’t know what I’ll do if I ever move up to an ultra….

All in all, a successful run and a great birthday.  My foot is still aching with some PF type pain, but I’m hoping for that to subside within a few days.  Oh, and as for a birthday cake, my wife made me a good one.  What do you think?

Saucony Kinvara Cake

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So, got up this morning with the plan to ignore my rest day and do a bike ride. I knew I had to steal the seat and reflector off of my wife’s mountain bike, so after some quick breakfast, I started working in the garage. Well, the bolt holding my wife’s seat on her bike is stripped (crap!) and I got the reflector off, but it’s not a good fit on my bike. I jumped into my saddle and looped around my block. Yeah, my ass still hurts from the 16 mile ride I did on Monday. Not to mention it was still dark outside. My bike is almost graphite color, and I was wearing dark clothing. I believe the universe was trying to tell me not to ride today. So, I took a brisk 1.16 mile walk instead. Just went down to the next neighborhood and back home. Nothing major, but it did get my legs moving a bit. Tomorrow, the plan is to get a 5 mile run in. Wish me luck!

Playlist for Walk:
Sweetness by Jimmy Eat World
Tribork is Trying episode 10 http://tribork.blogspot.com/

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Hello, all! Been awhile since I checked in with everyone. Let me catch you up on what’s going on with me. A month or so ago, I pulled my right calf muscle. It was an over-training issue. It took about 3 weeks to really heal up enough to not have to worry about it. After healing up, my left calf starting acting up during a 5 mile training run. Ugh. It wasn’t as bad as the previous pull, but enough to get my attention. I gave it a few days rest and tried another very light and easy run. This time, I used Ace bandage to wrap the left calf. So what happened? Strained right hamstring. So disappointing. A friend on Twitter gave me some advice and, three days later, I’m ready to try another light run. Hamstring is a little bit tight, calf seems to be doing fine, and I’m ready to go.
Of course, I couldn’t just sit around and not exercise at all. I got a new bike from craigslist (2006 Specialized Sirrus Sport). During downtimes with my legs, I’ve been utilizing Belleville’s MetroLink bike trail. From my house to the trail for a complete loop and back home is around 12.5 miles. It makes for a nice hour long bike ride for me with some minor hills. It’s definitely not the same as running, but it’s keeping my body moving. Which is good.
On the podcast front, I do have some awesome news! We are on iTunes! Woohoo! So, to subscribe (and leave reviews), go to the iTunes store and search for “Geeks in Running Shoes”. Subscribe and leave some feedback! Well, bed is calling, and I have an early start for my run. Do check out my sister site for the podcast (Geeks in Running Shoes).

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Long Run Day

Happy Saturday everyone. Started my first weekend off in a while (been working alot) with a 5.30 mile run this morning. Had a bit of a cheat night last night food wise (Domino’s is a sultry temptress), so I knew I had to get this run in. I woke up at 5:30, threw my running clothes on, had a Clif Bar and ran out the door. I knew I didn’t want to do the track by my house like I usually do. It’s just so repetitive and boring. For short runs and speedwork, it’s nice to have. Long runs…not so fun.
All in all, I was happy with the run. I had some stomach issues around 4 miles in, but nothing emergency wise. My calves were a bit tight, so I tried not to push them too much. Last time I pushed them, it ended up with a muscle pull. Came home sweating up a storm, though. Despite waking early, the temperature rose with the sun. We’ve been dealing with a lot of high humidity in the Midwest this summer. Pulled into the house with 5.3 miles completed in a little over an hour. Not wonderful, not horrible. Could have gone a bit longer, but we had stuff to do. I’m looking at doing a short run tomorrow to keep the legs hard at work.
In other news, we have Episode 2 of the podcast up for download along with instructions on how to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Check out my other site, http://GeeksinRunningShoes.wordpress.com. We had more audio problems for Episode 2, but just couldn’t find the time to re-record. So, it is what it is. The content is good, the quality not-so-much. Episode 3 will be recorded on Sunday. Thanks for reading and listening!

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Hey everyone, long time no see. I’m back to running! Thanks to a little help with my running form from Coach Jeff of PRS Fit, I’m back in action. It’s been slowing building my endurance back up. Saturday I did 3 miles in 36 minutes and this morning I did 2.5 miles in 30. Slow going, I know, but it’s a start. The half marathon is about 7 weeks away, so if I can increase my weekend runs by 1 mile per week, I should be able to get my mileage in. To say that I’m not a little worried would be lying.

Another big news item I have is my podcast! We have one episode currently available for download. We recorded last night, but, unfortunately, we have been plagued with audio problems. The end of the first podcast is a bit distorted, but we are working on it. The whole second podcast was that way, so we are looking to re-record the whole thing tonight. The website for the podcast is http://geeksinrunningshoes.wordpress.com.

This weekend was a rough nutrition weekend. BBQ’s and lots of work led to less than ideal dinners. I could feel it in my run this morning. But, what are you going to do? I could just stop altogether, or try to do better this week. I think I’ll do that latter.

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Two things happened in the past 24 hours. First, I borrowed a friend’s “P90x” workout DVD set. I’m looking to start this up tomorrow morning. I wanted to start it today, but I just didn’t have the time (not to mention I kind of ate crappy most of the day). I’m looking forward to the challenge of it. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about it. So, let’s see if I can take my transformation up a notch.

Second, I got home from my aunt’s BBQ (which I didn’t eat great, but not horrible), I went for a nice, hour long, 12-mile bike ride. For those in Belleville, I rode from my house by Denny’s to East End Park, then followed the Metrolink bike trail to SWIC. Then, came back home on the bike trail, but went through the old McClintock neighborhood. It was a nice ride, hoping to get back to running within a week.

I hope that everyone is having a safe and healthy Fourth of July! Happy Birthday America!

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Quick update: working on my endurance for the half marathon. Hoping to have the money to register within a week or so, then it will be official. Also, looking for diet plans to adjust my macro intakes (carbs/fat/protein). Last, I’m trying to figure out the balance between long distance running training and weight-lifting. Still losing the odd pound here and there, which is always better than gaining. Currently at 207. Life’s busy right now. Hope to have a new researched post this weekend. Stay tuned!

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