Training for my third half-marathon

This morning I completed an 11-mile run to prepare to run the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half-Marathon in 3 weeks. This evening it dawned on me it has been about nearly 5 months since I blogged about running. My blog was taken over by some guy who likes writing about his kid.

This race marks my third half-marathon in 9 months and my first since Owen arrived so it is a pretty big deal. I finally got serious about my training last month since TB and I were getting a handle on the whole new parent thing. She has been very supportive. My training requires lots of juggling and sacrifices on her part to allow me the time to go out for 1/2-2 hour runs several times a week when that time could be directed to giving her a break or us doing something together. As a runner herself—TB is the real runner in our family—she understands how being outdoors on the road helps keep my mind and body from turning to mush.

So, dear readers, do not fret. While I took an extended break from running after the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in January, I am still on the wagon, in the saddle, racking up the miles with Nike+. I am looking forward to my wife and son cheering me on.

Speaking of cheering, here is a picture of our little guy in a custom Dallas Cowboys jersey from his Uncle Chuku. Team Smith will be cheering for the Cowboys this fall despite the many boneheaded front office decisions over the past year. Yeah, T.O. is no longer on the roster but you already know what I think about that.

Owen in Cowboys jersey - front  Owen in Cowboys jersey - back

Second half-marathon harder than first

I completed half-marathon number two this past Sunday, running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in 2:09:39. Below are my official race stats. I finished 6,557th out of 21,990 half-marathoners (3,704th out of the 7,939 males).

Keith's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona 2009 half-marathon results

You may remember I had a much faster time for my first race, the Bellingham Bay, which I ran in 1:56:56. I started this last race strong, on pace to finish in 1:52:00 through mile 8. So, how did I end up averaging a minute-per-mile slower finish than before? First take a look at the following video—courtesy the Nike+ data I collected during the race—to review my splits.

As you can see, things started well enough but quickly fell apart around mile 10. That is when I started experiencing massive cramping in my left hamstring and right calf precipitated by severe dehydration. It got so bad, I ended up walking on-and-off for roughly 10 minutes of the race between miles 10 and 12. I started taking in a lot more fluids at each station and, by mile 12, I was able to run the rest of the way.

How did I get dehydrated despite the equipment and attention I invest in proper hydration during training and on race day? Two reasons:

  • First, it was expectedly warmer in Phoenix than any other place I have run since the summer but I didn’t realize how much the heat would affect me. By the end of the race, it was sunny, mid-70s. Compare that to the 9° temperature in Chicago or the 30-40° temperatures in Seattle these past few months. Also, it was much cooler the morning I ran the Bellingham Bay and the hydration plan I used then did not translate to this race. Oops.
  • Second, I had not fully recovered from the virus I caught over the holidays. Mentally I felt ready to have a good race and physically my body felt strong, though a little hot, until mile 8. That was the point the first signs of dehydration and muscle fatigue set in. I previously explained how getting sick derailed my training. Suffice it to say, getting back to a 7 mile “long” run after two down weeks of being sick didn’t fully prepare me to run 13.1 miles a few days later as I had hoped.

I’m not down about my time. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I am proud I finished strong. Even more, I’m proud I went from not running at all a little over a year ago to completing my second half-marathon. What’s more, I did it surrounded by Arizona Cardinals fans as the home team spoiled the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl quest. I’m still smarting from the 44-6 shellacking the Eagles gave my Cowboys to end our playoff hopes. Given my recent rants, how would it have looked for the Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl again without T.O.? Yes, even after a 44-6 beatdown, I will continue sprinkling hate flakes on Eagles nation. I digress…

I have already registered for my next race, the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half-Marathon, taking place right in our backyard on Saturday, June 27th. Training should be interesting with a new baby and all but I’m sure TB will be supportive. Who knows, maybe she will run too.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half-marathon this weekend

It has been almost an entire month with no new posts. Besides traveling to Chicago for the holidays, contracting a serious virus to end 2008, being laid out with a 102° fever to start 2009, caring for a pregnant wife I got sick with my germs and driving a few high-priority projects to completion since returning to work last Monday, I have spent this week convincing my body it is physically and mentally ready to run another half-marathon in 3 1/2 days.

Before heading to Chicago on Christmas Eve, my training was going great. I ran three times during the five days we were there celebrating Christmas with my in-laws, despite severe, 9° temperatures and icy road conditions. I was ready for the race and ready to begin gradually decreasing my mileage each week leading up to the race. Decrease mileage I did, but it wasn’t gradual. I got so sick the Sunday after Christmas and ended up on prescription meds and confined to the couch/bed. I went from running 28 miles per week to running 0 miles for two weeks. Not good.

Earlier this week, I went for my first run since falling ill. It wasn’t pretty. While I managed 4 miles in just under 39 minutes, at the end my legs felt like linguine and I nearly coughed up a lung. I took a break to let the shock wear off and my next run was 5.1 miles in 45 minutes. I felt much better during and after that run but didn’t feel like I could run another 8 miles, which is what I will need to do this Sunday. My plan is to work up to at least a 60 minute run this week and hope everything comes together in the desert. Thankfully the course is flat and the weather should be mild at 60-70°.

Just how big is this race? Over 35,000 registrants, about 100 bands performing live along the course and national television coverage on FSN (schedule TBD). I pinched the video below from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona site. They make running 26.2 and 13.1 miles look so fun.

One year, 500 miles and a new iPod

Nike+ 500 mile certificate

I started running with Nike+ on December 15, 2007, exactly a year ago tomorrow. Today, after a 12-mile run, I passed the 500th mile mark. In my quest to keep fit I fully expected to stick with running for at least a year; however, I certainly didn’t expect to be running as far or as often as I am today, a year later. My previous Nike+ certificate came at 100 miles. I received the “big dog” certificate to the right after uploading my run from today. (The date is off…probably a time zone issue.)

It seems like just yesterday when I set a goal to run 9 miles/week for 3 months. I’m now averaging about 25 miles/week whether running in the hot sand of Cabo or along the icy sidewalks of Seattle—it snowed last night and the roads were a mess today.

Apple iPod nano 4G in blue There was one casualty of all the long-distance, outdoor running: My refurbished iPod nano 2G. Apparently, iPods don’t like liquid and you may have heard it rains quite a bit here in Seattle. Further, those fancy, expensive Nike+ armbands are merely water-resistant, not waterproof. So, after running 11 miles in a downpour, my nano bit the dust. Not only did I lose the results of that run—which would have catapulted me to the 500-mile mark sooner—I lost my $99 running partner. It was a sad day.

TB, noticing the extent of my devastation, green-lighted an emergency trip to the Apple Store for a replacement…upgrade! I love my wife.

I am now running with a blue 8GB iPod nano 4G. Apple offered a $15 credit for the broken unit but I’m still not happy about paying $135 (before tax). I figure it’s still a pretty cheap running partner/trainer. The new 4th-generation nanos are much nicer than the two-year-old, 2nd-generation unit I ran with previously. The 4G has a bigger screen, twice the storage, better sound and snazzier navigation & graphics.

Also, if you buy (or already own) a nano 4G and are thinking of getting started with the Nike+ running program, I recommend the Apple Nike+ Sport Armband (TU017ZM/A). It is available through Amazon for about $30. The strap is much simpler to adjust and the full-body, protective film makes viewing and controlling the nano easier than the official 2G armbands. Lastly, it fits the 4G nano like a glove so the player won’t slide or slip during a run.

Where do the new iPod and I go from here? Well, four people have logged 10,000 ❗ miles with Nike+ leaving many milestones to reach.

450 Miles and Running

I realized I had not blogged the latest milestone in my unofficial “# Miles and Running” series (reference the “100” and “200” posts). Since reaching the 200 mile mark in early July, I reached the 450 mile mark this past Saturday translating to 250 miles in 5 months. Not bad considering it took 7 1/2 months for the first 200 miles.