Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Endless Winter Continues

Today's run concludes week 6 of my marathon training plan. It has already been an interesting and rewarding journey of extreme temperatures and creative time management to get to this point. So here are my random updates.

This winter has been especially harsh. We have had a total snowfall this year of about 58 inches and way too many days below zero. My coldest run to date that I can remember was -15 with the windchill and -11 without wind. As I noted in an earlier posting, I invested in some winter running gear so that I wouldn't have to be a slave to the treadmill all season. Three layers on top have kept me plenty warm including a basic Under Armour long sleeve base layer, a Mizuno Breath Thermo Running Crew, and a RRS Jacket. To keep the legs warm I have a pair of Adidas tights and a pair of Under Armour wind stopping pants that I alternate. I keep my feet warm with Mizuno Breath Thermo socks, and stay sure footed on the icy days with Yaktrax. Next winter I will invest in better gloves, my hands stay warm most of the time, but I struggle on the really cold days.

Sticking to my training plan has not been too bad so far. I just have to do some planning ahead to get the miles done. I have only been running 30-35 miles a week so far but next week it jumps up to 40 and will increase to 50 miles for some weeks. I will have to do some creative scheduling to get these future runs accomplished, but it will happen.

I have been very fortunate to have some great running buddies the last year or so. I started out with Jeff who talked me into signing up for my first marathon. After he was injured I started running with Jenn who has become an insane future triathlete who is logging miles on her new bike and quickly learning how to swim. She now has a coach that has her using heart rate training. Both of them have gone in a different direction with their training so I have been forced to look for someone else that I can train with. Today I met up with a small group of people that belong to the Sioux Falls Area Run Club. It wasn't easy getting up at 5am on a Sunday to run, especially since it was going to be 20 degrees warmer in just a few short hours, but I am glad I did it. I met four great people and had a nice time. That is certainly one of the side benefits of running, meeting new people that share a similar passion. I am lucky to have great friends like Jeff and Jenn and looking forward to meeting more people through the club.

This year I have been focusing on adding cross-training to my regimen. That's cross-training, NOT cross-dressing. Anyway, I joined the Y last fall so that I could participate in some of the classes. Being able to work out with other people really helps keep me motivated. I have been taking a class called Power Pump which typically consists of low weight high rep weight lifting including squats, push-ups, lunges, and more. It was a little tough to get used to at first, but I really enjoy it now. The other class that I occasionally attend is  Sports Conditioning on Sunday. This class kicks my ass every time. I only go after I forget how painful it can be. It is a constant hour of marching in place, squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping, and more at a high intensity. It's a great workout but can be quite humbling. Both of these classes have definitely increased my upper body strength and I like to think that they have made me a better runner.

I am now a third of the way through my training plan and as of today's writing have 82 days until the Fargo Marathon. It's nice that I keep hearing positive comments about what a great marathon it is and how well it is organized. I am looking forward to this and hope to have a better experience and outcome.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Training Update

This week starts week # 4 of 18 for Fargo Marathon training. I had a great week of running, logging 31 miles including a 4 mile race on Saturday and a little over 11 miles through some beautiful snowy paths on Sunday.

Saturday's race was the Frostbite Four in Beresford, SD. My running buddy Jenn, wanted to run this for her birthday, and my wife Corrin came along as our cheer section. It was a well organized race and we had pretty decent weather for February. My goal pace for this race was to finish in 30 minutes. I did it in just a hair under 29, mission accomplished!
According to the Hal Higdon Intermediate II training plan, I was scheduled to run an easy 8 miles on Sunday. Jenn and I had planned to meet up Sunday morning and run this together. We had received about 4 inches of snow overnight and there were no parking lots cleared yet in the area where we had planned to run. I suggested we leave from my house and we could run a random route through the streets to get in our miles. 

A couple of times this year I have gone out on some winter trail runs and Jenn had expressed interest in going sometime. So, I took her through a hilly little side road not far from our house. This path has some pretty serious hills, and to make matters worse, most of it was covered in snow that ranged from ankle to almost knee deep. There is no question, this was a challenging run, but it was a beautiful one also. So much for a scheduled easy run, Jenn was not very happy with me for taking her over the hills. When we finally finished, I just had to grab my camera and run back through there to get some shots of the scenery in that area. No, the hills were not easy by any measure, but the view was more than worth the hard work it took to run through them.

Had the opportunity to spot a deer up ahead on the path!

Can you spot the deer on the right side of the path?

This, is the beauty of running!

One of the monster hills along our Sunday run!