Brother on the Run: All the Carbs!

Here’s the latest from the Brother on the Run – he’s training for a marathon and it’s getting serious. His mileage is increasing and he’s hungry. Really hungry. I know all runners can relate.

 

I was told that I looked absolutely panicked when the server tried to take the bread plate from the table.

Sitting at the wedding table with my young daughter, I had not had a chance to grab a roll before dinner.  The rest of the table thought is hilarious as I could only stare in horror as the bread left the table.  I had run 18 miles that morning; I needed some carbs.  Thankfully, the server was only taking the platter to refill it.  When it returned, I grab two rolls and more butter than any one person needed.  Did I mention the running yet?

The sad truth of my weekend was a very long run before a wedding out of state that we almost didn’t make.  As sad as it sounds, the need to get my miles in ahead of the upcoming Detroit Marathon put me into a panic on planning this trip.  The wedding was out of state, which means a long drive and an unfamiliar environment for running.  With a run of 16 to 18 miles planned (required) on Saturday, I had struggled to think of a way to fit everything in.  The easiest action would have been to miss the wedding.  Stop for a moment and consider how sad this idea is – skipping a wedding to get in a run?

Something in me had to be broken.  Miss the wedding for running.  That would be the worst excuse ever to miss a wedding.  Worst.  Ever.

Luckily for me, my wife talked some sense into me and we planned to drive to the wedding on a Friday so I could get my run in on Saturday morning.  In the week leading up to the wedding, I started looking online for running path and trails near the event.  I finally settled on the Prairie-Duneland trail out of Chesterton, IN.  As a part of the Rail-to-Trails movement, the path was paved and 10 miles from end to end with other connecting trails.   The trail was well enough maintained and wide enough for both bikers and runners to pass through.  There were numerous pavilions and frequent enough restrooms.  The biggest issue was crossing roads – many of these interchanges would have high brush that made it hard to note cars and trucks.  Thankfully, I missed the train crossing by about two minutes but that had carried a worry going into the back stretch.

The run went well enough except for losing track of the mileage and going out father than I intended.  I ended up missing meeting a friend for lunch but was able to get my run accomplished.  The wedding was wonderful and thankfully, the infant gave me a convenient excuse to skip dancing and leave early.  My legs were shot and there was no way I was staying up to shut down the event.  I had a recovery run in the morning to start planning.

How To: Race in Multiple Races

Back when I first started running, everyone I knew was training for one event. We would pick a race – a 10k, a half, a full, and train for that one race. We would build our training program around the race, run it, and then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Lately, more and more people are choosing to run in back-to-back races. Some run multiple events in one day, or one weekend. Others have been planning seasons that include three or more events in a series. I’ve tried running in multiple events and I love it! I have run in Tampa’s Gasparilla Distance Classic several times – with four races in two days. I’ve run in Disney’s popular Goofy and Dopey race series, with 39.3 or 48.6 miles across multiple races. This fall, for the second year in a row, I will run four marathons in four weeks. This type of multiple event racing isn’t for everyone, but, if you’d like to give it a try, here are my top tips for multiple event racing success:

  • Plan your season around the events as a whole, rather than around one event. For example, this fall I will run four marathons in four weeks. My goal is to run four marathons in four weeks, not to run one marathon well, with a few extra after that. Planning to run only one marathon, then running four sets me up for disappointment, fatigue, and injury. Plan a training season around your goal – which is multiple events in the season.
  • When running in multiple events, you simply can’t train the way you do for a single event. your base fitness has to reflect the nature of your challenge. When building your base, build a base fitness that will prepare you well for the challenge at hand. This means I need to run high mileage multiple weeks in a row to prepare for my four marathons in four weeks extravaganza. Doing Dopey? Plan to run long runs back to back most weeks, with three to four consecutive days of running. Match the training to the specific challenges of your goal.
  • Let your body be your guide. When you’re striving for a new goal, it can be temping to push through aches and pains. Treat the body well, and listen to its cues. Achieving a multiple event goal requires a healthy, fit body.
  • Find a cross training activity that you enjoy. Engage in it often to prevent burn out and to recovery from bouts of hard running.
  • When you have multiple events in one day, practice running twice in one day. Learn how your body responds to multiple events and work on a rest/fueling/hydrating plan that mimics the specifics of your goal events.
  • When you have multiple events across multiple weeks, every event before the last is part of the training for the last event. Plan paces and race strategy accordingly. Remember that every event you run is preparation for the next, so a tough day or a poor performance is just part of the training process.
  • Learn to recover well and practice recovery throughout the training. Develop recovery strategies that suit you and will work within your goal time frame. Develop a long and short term view on recovery. Think of recovery not just as something done in the days or weeks after and event, but something done in minutes and hours after each event. What you do in the first few minutes after racing, and in the next several hours, can make a big difference. Develop a daily routine for recovery and wellness.  Practice season-long recovery strategies, too, including such as massage, foam rolling, and other body work. The quality of your next race depends on your ability to recover as well as you can in the time that you have before the event.
  • The goal after your first event is to be recovered enough to race again. When races are very close (hours to days), accept that some fatigue will be part of every event after the first. When you have a week between events, use that week to recover, rest, and prepare the body to race again. As the time between events becomes longer, expand the rest/recovery time and start to add in easy-paced running. Use the time between events to maintain the fitness you have, not to train.

Dopey

Racing multiple events can be exhilarating and can add a new challenge to the racing season for even the most accomplished runners. When planning carefully, runners can have great success (and a lot of fun!) running multiple events. Need help planning your multiple event calendar? Consider hiring a running coach. More information on training with Dr. Rachel Runs can be found above, in the Coaching tab.

Race Review: Mystic Half Marathon

Here’s the latest from my brother on the run, his take on a recent half marathon.

Race Review – Mystic Half Marathon: The Spectator Version

It has been a long time since I have put together an update for Dr.Rachel and this is in part due to my running dropping off some.  I had been skipping runs and avoiding working out for the better part of a month.  After setting a new 10K record in May, I had stopped running to let a sore foot heal and get some work done in the garden.

The closest I came to running was attending the Mystic (CT) Half Marathon as a spectator.

Mystic Half Marathon

After an exciting ride to the race event, complete with 911 call for a vehicle accident that happened in front of us, we arrived at the Mystic Village just in time for check-in.  The freeway exit to the parking lot was crowded and a bit chaotic.  The traffic split in a Y only to circle the parking lots and reach the same end destination.  While the parking could have been easier, we were able to get a great spot and unload.  Dr.Rachel bolted off to check in for pacing while my wife and I wandered Mystic.  There was a small expo set up with a decent amount of people milling about and enjoying the pleasant morning weather.  Announcements were easily heard and when the runners started to line up, the wife and I found a hill to watch the event.

I really though the launch worked well – racers split on two sides of a median and then combined at the start line.  From our 100 ft view, it seemed like the race start went off without a hitch and was well organized.  We had joined a number spectators across the road and had a great view.  Afterwards, we treated ourselves to breakfast and coffee because, hell, we weren’t running.

Having thought ahead, we had taken a camera phone picture of the race course.  This helped us to locate a few locations to watch the event unfold.  After breakfast, we wandered through the rest of Mystic and to the 6.5-7 mile markers.  This was hard to find actually and several of the crossing guards couldn’t direct us to the right intersection.  Luckily, a race volunteer was able to help us reach the 7 mile marker as the first male was coming through.  This was a great viewing spot for us and there was a decent crowd to cheer on the runners.

After watching Dr.Rachel pass by, we headed directly to the finish line.  This was a quarter mile walk for us and 6 mile run for the racers.  We win again!  With our chairs and snacks, we watched as the runners crossed the finish line – again, this was set up well and we had no trouble finding a location to sit.

The star of the day was a race volunteer at the finish line.  We lost count of how many runners he helped. Whenever a runner was struggling, he ran out to them, grabbed their hand, and then ran through the finish line with them.  It was incredible and he continued to do this until the very last runner finished the race.  In all, he probably ran farther that day than any of the race registrants but never lost his energy or enthusiasm for helping the racers.  It was truly awesome to watch.

The post-race events were a mild celebration and again seemed to be well done.  While I cannot speak to the medals or course, this race was a lot of fun for spectators.  My wife and I enjoyed our time at Mystic and would come back to watch the race again.

Race Review: BARC St. Patrick’s Day Road Races

Race season has come to Michigan! Here’s a great race review from my brother on the run. Now that he’s conquered 26.2, he’s keeping his training going with several short races. Here’s his take on the BARC St. Patrick’s Day Road Races:

There are a number of early season races near to my home in MI that somehow are able to draw a crowd despite the chance for cold weather.  This year, I signed up for the Bay Area Runner’s Club St. Patrick’s day races held in Bay City, MI.  The race featured a 5K, 8K, and Irish Double – participants in the Irish Double ran the 8K and then 5K.  This was my first race following Disney. So, I did the logical thing and signed up to run the Irish Double.

March weather can be unpredictable in MI, with the 2014 race being about 14F (I am told).  Luck was on our side though and the day turned out to be relatively nice.  Credit must be given to the nearly 5000 people who showed up Sunday morning to run while their neighbors started grills and drank beer – yes, we saw multiple people with cases of Miller Light.  There is a parade that follows the races so most people are not there to watch the runners but to prepare for the parade.

The packet pick-up offered prizes to the first 750 in line and sure enough, the line was out the YMCA door and down the road when we showed up.  The volunteers and YMCA staff did a great job of leading people through the building to the packet location (and minor expo).  The only slight here is that some of the announcements were not loud enough or repeated frequently enough.  The expo featured only a couple of vendors, but had plenty of information and stands on upcoming races – we grabbed a pamphlet for everything.

Sunday morning weather was on the cold side, but we still headed out for the 9:00 AM race start time.  The course starts in Bay City, near the waterfront gathering on a street corner.  Parking was a free for all.  I had asked at the expo where to park and was more or less told that it was anywhere I could find a spot.  This is a pet peeve of mine – parking should be clearly marked and easy to access.  Had we only been running the 5K, I would have been worried about finding a parking place.  Going so early, we found something close to the race start/finish and piled out.  The race corrals were easy to find and plenty big to hold the 8K runners.

The race itself goes through the historic district of Bay City and features some impressive houses.  The course is flat, fast, and with very few turns – perfect for setting a PR.  Two highway lanes are provided so at no time did I ever feel crowded or have to dash through a crowd of people.  Water was provided and there were plenty of volunteers directing and cheering.  I think the course and set up was great and the volunteers seemed genuinely happy to be there.  My only complaint – there was road kill on the course.  Someone should have checked the path and taken care of this before we started the race (let alone clean up before the start of the 5K as there was plenty of time).  The finish area was great and staffed by more than enough people to direct, hand out food, and hand out medals.

The 5K followed a shorter version of the same path and was broken into a run and a walk division.  With my pregnant wife by my side, we started at the back of the runners and immediately before the walkers.  We both enjoyed the 5K course (save for road kill) and were pleased to see even more people showing up and cheering.  I was surprised when we reached the finish at the sheer number of people who had shown up – though the weather was about 15F warmer at that point.

Everyone who finished got a medal and those of us who did the Irish Double received two.  The medals are of high quality and look great.  The race t-shirts are made of impossibly soft cotton and while simple in design, were well thought out.  The swag for this race was great and with a relatively low entrance fee made for a great day.

Overall, I had a great time on this race and would probably run it again – staying afterwards for a beer with friends while watching the parade if situations allow (they did not this year).  It probably doesn’t hurt that I set a new 5K PR during the 8K run.  It was a great way to start the race season.

 

Hot to Trot (and Shop!)

I love themed races and, even more than that, any race where I can wear a costume. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to run in costume and be part of a big theme race. I’ve written about my love of the Turkey Trot before, but I think it merits revisiting. In fact, the entire Thanksgiving weekend is my favorite time of year. I love the food, the events, and, truth be told, the shopping.

This year, like many other years, I ran the Manchester Road Race, a local race that happens to be a famous event. It is run every Thanksgiving Day in Manchester, CT. I love the Manchester Road Race and the great camaraderie it inspires. First, I made the big decision of the day – which turkey hat to wear!

Turkey hats

I got bundled up for the cold and headed out to the race. I found my friends and got lined up for the race.

MRR

This year was a great example of runners united. As we were lining up for the race, the organizers experienced some problems with the public address system. The sound was cutting in and out throughout the morning announcements. When the National Anthem began, the sound system cut out. Thousands of runners united to sing the remainder of the song. It was a great moment.

The race got started and I finally made my way across the start line. As always, the race was crowded and I ran-walked the first several miles. Things finally got going and I ran the final two miles at a respectable place. I always enjoy the great crowd support at the Manchester Road Race. All along the course spectators were cheering, partying, and having a great time. The whole atmosphere was festive and I loved it.

When I got home, I got to cooking and prepared my Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious!

Thanksgiving

After eating a massive quantity of turkey, I took my time to read the Black Friday ads. I love reading the Black Friday ads. It’s great fun to see what the hot toys will be, and what the prices are on a random assortment of electronics. I made my shopping list (gloves, Rubbermaid containers, and knives) and got organized with a shopping plan. I’m never one to engage in the crazy rush hour of early morning shopping – or late night shopping as it happened this year. I like to get up at a nice, leisurely hour and then make my way to the mall. As much as I love Black Friday shopping, I don’t love the pushing and shoving that seems to come with it. I like the respectable, calm shopping that comes a little later in the day. I got the items on my list and had a great time wandering around the stores.

Rubbermaid

All in all, it was a great weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

On Feet, Spurs, and Pain

If you’ve been following along, my mom is my best running friend and my favorite race partner. She’s always ready for fun, and willing to try any new race or event. We love racing together.

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Lately, mom has been on injured reserve, taking some time off due to injury. As much as I missed my race buddy, I was sorry to see her hurt and missing what she loved. In this post, my mom shares her experience of diagnosis and treatment for a heel spur, including the dreaded cortisone shot.

Mom says:

In August, I began to notice a slight pain in my right heel as if I had stepped on a stone with bare feet. I put it off as too many days walking on paved surfaces training for a half marathon. A day off I thought would rest the foot and I could continue on. The next days were a succession of off and on days and no relief for the heel tenderness.

In September, I headed to Michigan to visit family. Although I took all my workout clothes and shoes, I could not walk a mile. Research led me to think the culprit plantar fasciitis so I ordered new shoes, compression socks, and various shoe inserts. I tried a few foot exercises half heartedly. Nothing seemed to help. I bought more inserts, this time from Dr Scholl, that had cushioning since just wearing a shoe was painful
When I returned home, I called my general practitioner and got an appointment. By then, walking to the mailbox was a teeth gritting event. She took x-rays, a heel spur was the culprit of the pain.

Next stop was a podiatrist who reviewed the x-rays. She pointed out that I had arthritis in both big toes (suck it up, Buttercup), a spur on my right heel, and another on the bottom of my foot. The spur on the back of my heel was causing no discomfort unlike the one on the bottom of my foot. Plantar fasciitis untreated probably caused the spur to develop. Her plan to “get me back out there” was a shot of cortisone, prescription Meloxicam, foot exercises, and a night time foot brace.

I had heard the horror stories about cortisone shots but was pleasantly surprised when a topical numbing spray was first applied prior to the injection. Pressure but no pain. The injection site would be tender for several days, but that was minor compared to the relief. My heel would feel odd for several days as if a wad of cotton had been shoved under the skin. Not numb, but pain free heel area made life better.

Now the end of November and I’m headed back for a check up. I have been following the exercise plan, taking the Meloxicam, and feeling much better. I added air plus gel orthotic shoe inserts to my shoes. The gel inserts are superior cushioning for my heel area, better than any other brand I have tried , and I’ve tried almost everything out there. I replaced all my walking and running shoes and am trying new types that offer more arch support. I am more careful of the miles on the shoes and the type of miles, replacement cost is minor compared to the months of pain. It feels great to be back out, even short distances. Although not running yet, I hope to soon.

Rock N Roll Providence, The Sequel

This weekend, I ran the Rock N Roll Providence half marathon. If you’re keeping track, I ran this race last year and chronicled my experience in the Case of the Accidental PR. I loved the race and the course so much that I signed up for the 2013 race as soon as registration opened. I love this race! Even though it had grown significantly in size, all the same amazing features were there.

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First, the course is gorgeous. It starts in a lovely older neighborhood, goes through a park, past the river, and then through the “downcity” and financial district. It ends right in front of the state house.

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The course is well marked and the whole event has amazing organization. Every detail is explained in emails and helpful volunteers are all over. Parking is simple. The start line is easy to find and well organized. Gear check is efficient – but isn’t even necessary thanks to nearby parking. On the course, medical staff are present and security staff line the roads. There see cheering spectators, lovely views, and interesting things to look at. There are great bands on the course and a huge finish line party. Even the medal is great. All in all, I love the Rock N Roll Providence series and especially love the half marathon. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a great course for a new PR…

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