Saturday, November 28, 2009

Running as Santa

Last night was the "Jingle Bell Run" in downtown Sioux Falls. One my running pals, Joseph, had mentioned a couple of times that we were to wear our Santa hats for the run. I had no interest in "racing" this 5K and had access to a Santa suit. I thought, why not surprise everyone and run as Kris Kringle?
I picked up my race packet at the Y in my regular running clothes, that way if I ran into one of my friends they would not know what was in store.
After packet pick up I had parked my car at the back of the bank lot so that I would have some secrecy while changing. At this time it was all for fun, I had no idea what level of impact this stunt would have on me and others. When I was finally dressed, nobody was going to recognize me, except as Santa!

After helping me put on the suit, my wife and I made our way to the starting area. My disguise worked well, even my running buddy, Jenn, did not recognize me at first!

Soon it was time for the race to begin and we made our way to the start. I went out with a nice easy pace as planned and what a blast! The crowd LOVED to see Santa running. Kids and parents were shouting out "Santa, hey Santa!" and cheering me on almost the entire way. What an awesome feeling to see the smiles on peoples faces as I ran by waving and shouting "Merry Christmas!".
I was a little worried about a wardrobe malfunction because they really don't make Santa suits for skinny runners. I think I used about a dozen safety pins to keep the belt on, the pants up, and my beard attached. Lucky for me, it all mostly stayed in place.

After the race, a local newspaper reporter stopped me and asked a few questions. Argus Leader article.

I had a lot of fun at this race and even finished with a respectable time. What an awesome feeling to have an impact on so many people with such a small gesture!

Thank you to my awesome wife for putting up with and even aiding me in my antics!

And thank you to my running buddies for not being too embarrassed to run with Santa!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

53 Miles

My first marathon has taught me many lessons, most importantly, patience. In training for the first, I selected a fairly challenging training plan and ran almost every run at a strong pace. Never really thinking much about recovery. If you run fast in training, you are bound to run fast in a race right? Right….to a point. Being a master’s runner (40+ yrs of age) changes the game a bit. I have to be a little gentler on the body whether I like it or not. I am still learning about running and researching what will be my next marathon training plan. If Fargo is my race, then I have until February to select the right plan for me. Until then I have been experimenting with aerobic base training and heart rate training.

It’s not glamorous, trust me, I used to check my resting heart rate and what it was right after a run, but never gave it much thought beyond that. My opinion was that it really did’t matter and that if you run harder your heart will get stronger. I was wrong. Using a heart rate monitor helps you gauge your effort and keep that effort within the optimal zone for what you are trying to accomplish on each particular run. This type of training is supposed to build up your aerobic capacity and improve your overall running abilities for all distance running. This training encourages you to listen closely to your body and not push yourself to the limit for each run but allow for recovery after every run. It is actually much more detailed than what I touch on here but I can tell you that it has made my runs definitely more enjoyable. I now closely monitor my heart rate during my runs and do not worry about how long it will take me to finish. In fact I enjoy my runs much more at this slower pace because instead of running at the top end of my abilities, I am running in a comfortable heart rate zone.

It has been a relief, training myself not to run by pace on the watch, but by effort. Forcing myself to slow down when the heart rate gets too high and making myself speed up if I take it too easy going downhill. Since my marathon I have been working to safely increase my mileage. In fact I just finished October with 173 miles, my highest month ever, and the week ending November 1st, I logged over 53 miles. If you want to learn more, below are some links with some explanation. I am also open to any thoughts or recommendations from anyone with experience with this type of training.

H.I.T – the book that started it all for me (this is an advanced running book but still has some good tips for an amateur like me)
Aerobic Base Training
Heart Rate Training