Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review: 2011

Well, tomorrow is New Year's Day and I'm stuck in that in-between zone where I don't have a clear goal in mind for my next big event. I decided to use today as an opportunity to reflect on my accomplishments in 2011 and then tomorrow will be a day of goal-setting.

First of all, I started this blog on Wednesday, June 15th 2011. Today marks my 146th post and since beginning this blog, I've run 625.86 miles, I rode my bike 144.45 miles, and I swam 14,350+ meters. Documenting my training and having family and friends check in on my progress was a huge help with my training for New York.

I not only ran the New York marathon, I was chosen as a featured runner for ING, won the featured runner contest, and finally broke the 3:10 barrier in the marathon.

I ran other races in 2011 though... several before starting this blog. Here's a list of my 2011 races and results:

4/16/11 - Oz Marathon - 3:19:32
6/5/11 - Minneapolis Marathon - 3:32:38 (We met the Gomers!)
6/11/11 - St. Louis Race For The Cure - 5K - 32:08
7/10/11 - New Town Triathlon - 1,000m Swim (25:31) 20M Bike (59:30) 4M Run (27:51) - 1:57:14
7/24/11 - Opening Act 5K - 20:04 - 7th Place Overall
8/27/11 - United Way 5K - 19:37 - 1st Place Overall
9/18/11 - Millstadt Parks Biathlon - 5M Run (31:41) 22M Bike (1:10:13) - 1:41:54
10/9/11 - BAJA 1/2 Marathon - 1:27:30 - 1st Place Men 30-34
10/22/11 - Harvest Moon 5K - 19:21 - 1st Place Overall
11/6/11 - ING New York Marathon - 3:09:49
11/24/11 - 5K on Turkey Day - 18:49 - 5th Place Overall
12/10/11 - Frostbite Series 3K - 10:59 - 2nd Place Men 30-34

Looking back, that's a pretty packed year! I accomplished a huge goal in New York and I can't imagine a more exciting overall marathon experience. I also crossed three new states off of my list of marathons (Kansas, Minnesota, and New York). I raced a tough triathlon and did my first open-water swim. And I had a lot of fun running, racing, and meeting new people.

Writing this blog was an invaluable motivator and it's been fun looking back on my time leading up to New York. I've decided to keep blogging so I have an ongoing record of my training and my adventures. I plan to change things up a little as far as the blog page itself and I'm going to reset my mileage counter starting tomorrow. I also realised that when I write a post, I think of it as a personal journal. But the longer I've been doing this, the more feedback I get that people follow along and read some of my posts. I've started to think more about my posts as if I'm also writing them for other people to read and not just myself. It's a weird little shift in my thinking, but it will also likely lead to a slight shift in my writing... it will be less about writing to myself and more about writing with the assumption that other people might read my posts. I don't know if that makes sense, but it feels a little different on my end.

So here's to a successful 2011 and a 2012 filled with untapped potential!!!

Goal For The Day: Take a look back.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I haven't run at all since Monday. It's a sign that I'm between goals and I need to come up with a plan!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Final Blog Totals for 2011:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gear Check: Christmas Gear!

I received some great gifts for Christmas this year and several were running related. I can't wait to put them to good use!

First, Mom and Rick got me the P90X Fitness Program! I've borrowed a couple of P90X DVDs from friends in the past and they definitely kicked my butt so I've been thinking about doing the actual program. It's 90 days of working out 6-7 times per week and the workouts are intense. I would really like to follow the schedule the way it's intended but I haven't figured out how to incorporate such an exhausting program into my running routine. Obviously, I would have to scale back my running while I'm doing it so I haven't figured out when I'll try P90X in 2012, but it's on my to-do list and I'm excited to see how it goes!

Ben and Maja are always great with thoughtful and creative gifts but this year they outdid themselves. I opened their gift to find a Flash t-shirt like Sheldon wears on The Big Bang Theory!

That alone would have been an awesome gift, but when I turned it around to show Liz the shirt, I saw that my marathon time was stitched into the back!!! How awesome to have my Boston Qualifying time stitched into a Flash shirt!!?? Great Gift!

Liz also got me some much-needed and much-appreciated running gear. I have a goal of running a marathon in every state. So far, I've crossed 8 states off of the list. I'm starting to acquire quite a collection of marathon medals but they're currently on a hanger in our spare closet. Now I have a great decorative hanger so I can start displaying my hard-earned medals!

And on a more practical note, Liz also got me warmer, more versatile running gloves. I have a pair of Nike gloves that are great when the temperature is in the 40's. After that, they don't offer much protection from the cold and I've been using cheap cotton gloves that I got for free somewhere. But not anymore!

Liz got me a pair of Asics glove/mitten hybrids. They're super-warm and the mitten portion can be folded back to free your fingers. I'm looking forward to my hands staying warm when the temperature drops and I'm excited that I'll be able to use my iPod easier thanks to the fold-away mittens!

What a haul! I can't wait to put some of this gear to good use in 2012!!!

Goal For The Day: Off Day.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: The New Year is just around the corner. It's time to start thinking about my next challenge/adventure.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ready, Set, Rische or Not 5K

This Christmas involved a couple of challenges. First, the men in the family were challenged to grow beards starting in November and we all sported hairy faces for the holiday.

We also decided to run a 5K as a family while everyone was home for Christmas. We didn't want to run an actual race, but thought it would be fun to go for a family group run.

We gathered outside the Rische household around 10:00 this morning and found out we had picked the coldest morning of the weekend for our run. It had also been dry all weekend but this morning there was a very light rain falling. We didn't let the weather get us down though. Our participants included Nate, Beth, Stephanie, Dan, Nancy, myself, and Liz. (Kim stayed behind to solve a plumbing problem.)

The Inaugural 'Ready, Set, Rische or Not 5K'.

Our course involved running to the bike trail that I ran on yesterday, circling two laps around a park, and then returning to the house. It was a relaxed run. Nobody was trying to set any records and we chatted as we ran.

I ran with Liz, Nate, Dan, and Stephanie while Beth and Nancy settled into their own pace behind us. Beth wasn't sure she was going to run the whole time but she at least started with Nancy.

About halfway through the first lap around the park, Dan and Stephanie stopped for a quick bathroom break and then ran with Beth and Nancy for a while. By the time we finished our second lap and left the park to run home, Dan and Stephanie were catching back up with us and we ran the rest of the way home together.

We checked behind us a couple of times and Beth and Nancy were always right there, not too far back. Apparently, they started slower than us but then must have matched our pace because the distance between us didn't seem to change. Beth ended up running the whole time!

When we got to the home stretch, those of us up front turned around to join Beth and Nancy so we could all finish together.

We ran back to the house as a group and officially finished our first family 5K! I had medals for each of us and Stephanie put her calligraphy skills to good use on the labels so we could commemorate the occasion.

It was a shame Kim couldn't join us but it was a good thing he stayed behind. We came home to find the plumbing fixed and we were all able to take some well-deserved hot showers!

Goal For The Day: Family Fun Run.
Distance: 2.80 Miles.
Time: 30:33. 10:54 Avg. (10:38, 10:40, 9:15*).
Route: To the bike trail/2 laps around the park/Home.
Conditions: 37 degrees. 10:11AM.

Notes: We all used different devices to track our run and compared distances at the finish. My Garmin reported 2.8 miles but it was a cloudy morning so it might have been a little off. Liz used her Nike+ shoe sensor and Nancy used her phone's GPS. We were all right around the 2.8-3 mile mark so it wasn't quite a full 5K but it was close enough. It's the thought that counts!

Daily Miles: 2.80 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 625.86 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I'll Just Have To Keep Dreaming

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... but this year it's not meant to be.

It's been a great Christmas already. We had a brief gift exchange with my family Friday and have spent the rest of the weekend with Liz's family in Kansas City. I Love all of this time with family and continuing family traditions. Unfortunately, the weather isn't contributing to the Christmas atmosphere. It's much too warm and there's no snow to be found this year.

I decided to make the best of it and took advantage of some downtime this afternoon to go for a Christmas Day run. It wasn't cold enough for snow today but it was still chilly. Even with the cold breeze, I was sweating after only a mile and my Christmas beard felt very out of place.

I ran on the trail that runs near the Risches' house and went out about 3 miles before turning to head back. I was feeling a little too disappointed in the weather... it was a nice day for a run after all... but then I got a pleasant surprise. In a shady part of the path, there was a patch of ice that somehow hadn't melted.

I have no idea how it managed to survive the temperatures nearing the 50's, but it was like a Christmas miracle! I know it's ridiculous, but I'm counting this as my white Christmas!

A little farther down the path, I ran past a pond that was partially frozen and I let myself imagine I wasn't running in shorts and a t-shirt on Christmas... in my mind, I was bundled up with frost in my beard and the snow was just about to start falling.

I could have easily gone the entire day without seeing any snow or ice but today's run saved the day!

Merry Christmas!!!

Goal For The Day: Christmas Run!
Distance: 6.01 Miles.
Time: 42:50. 7:08 Avg. (7:21, 7:13, 7:12, 7:08, 6:40, 7:11, 0:03*).
Route: Bike Path in Overland Park, KS.
Conditions: 48 degrees. 1:30PM.

Notes: I got some great running-related gear for Christmas. I'll have to post about it soon.

Daily Miles: 6.01 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 623.06 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Romance Run

Liz asked if I wanted to go for a run with her this afternoon. Considering my recent pattern, it might have been another week before I ran again if she hadn't extended the invitation.

The Gomers introduced us to the term 'Romance Run'. They talk about running with their wives and how nice it is to share one of their favorite pastimes with each other. When Liz trained for her first half marathon, I would tag along on her training runs from time to time. Since then, we haven't run together very often. It was nice to share a run around town.

We ran up to the Phillips 66 and then turned into some neighborhoods that lead back toward our house. We ran down some roads I haven't explored yet and made a lap around the parking lot of a nearby church before heading home.

It was a hilly two-and-a-half miles and a great way to spend some time together on a Sunday afternoon. With the new year just around the corner, I hope to go for Romance Runs more often in 2012!

Goal For The Day: Romance Run.
Distance: 2.50 Miles.
Time: 26:07. 10:27 Avg. (10:23, 10:39, 5:04*)
Route: Run Around Eureka.
Conditions: 57 degrees. 3:23PM.

Notes: I know Liz still has a Love/hate relationship with running, but it's nice when we can run together like this.

Daily Miles: 2.50 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 617.05 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Got The Point

I haven't run at all since last week's race so I wanted to go for a nice, easy run around town today. Instead of the relaxing run I was hoping for, I got a painful lesson in heal-striking.

After the race last weekend, I noticed my left heel was bothering me. It felt like I stepped on a rock and bruised it. I had a small spot of roughed-up skin on my heel and what looked like it could be a splinter. I poked around at it for a while and had Liz take a closer look (poor Liz) but couldn't figure out what it was or what could have caused it. During the week, it didn't bother me and I forgot about it.

My plan for today was to run down into town and run a lap around the neighborhood from the Harvest Moon 5K before coming home. At first, everything was fine and it was a great day for a run.

About two miles into the run, I started to notice my heel again. It didn't really hurt, but it felt like I had a very small rock in my shoe. It was the same spot as last week so I made a mental note to shake out my shoe when I got home.

Over the course of the next mile, that annoying little rock really started to hurt. I finally stopped to clean my shoe out but when I sat to take it off, I caught a glimpse of something shiny on the bottom of my shoe. I looked closer and there was a large safety pin between the treads stabbing into my heel. I tried to pull it out, but couldn't get my fingers in far enough to get a grip. I looked inside my shoe and the pin must have been just beneath the insole and only poked through when I landed on my heel. I was about halfway through my run and still had over two miles left to get home so it was shaping up to be an annoying finish.

I got going again and found that as long as I was landing on my mid-foot or fore-foot, my heel didn't hurt at all. Unfortunately, Eureka is a hilly place and I apparently land on my heels when I run downhill. I also seem to put pressure on my heel when I turn a corner. So for the trip home, I focussed on my form more than I usually do and tried to lean forward to stay off of my heels.

The longer I ran, the less it seemed to take for the pin to dig into my foot. By the last mile, I was basically running on my toes and that still didn't help completely. I tried stopping to walk but that wasn't helpful either. By the end, it felt like the pin wasn't just poking me, but was actually tearing at the top layer of skin.

When I got home, I pulled my shoe off to find a bloody spot in my shoe and a bloody hole in my sock.

I checked the pin again and saw why it was getting worse late in the run. A rock got wedged in right on top of the pin. Every time I landed on my heel, that rock probably pushed the pin in even deeper.

I grabbed some needle-nose pliers and yanked the pin out of my shoe. It's funny that something so small can make a run so uncomfortable.


That's definitely a first for me. It's a good thing I had to get a tetanus booster as part of the vaccines required to meet my new niece!

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 4.93 Miles.
Time: 35:00. 7:06 Avg. (6:50, 6:48, 6:59, 7:19, 7:00*).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop with Harvest Moon Extension.
Conditions: 45 degrees. 1:08PM.

Notes: I just kept thinking of Gary Shandling's line at the end of Ironman 2: "It's funny how annoying a little prick can be."

Daily Miles: 4.93 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 614.55 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Race Report: Frostbite Series #1 - 3K

Every winter, the Saint Louis Track Club organizes a series of races called the Frostbite Series. There's a race every-other Saturday in Forest Park. You can run any of the races by themselves and they're each ridiculously cheap, or you can enter to run the series as a whole and pay one price for all five races.

You also have the option of running either the Short Series or the Long Series. This year's Short Series races are: 3K, 2M, 5K, 4M, and 3M. The Long Series races are: 12K, 10M, 20K, 13.1M, and 15K. I've never run the Long Series... mostly because I don't want to race that far in the cold.

The Frostbite Series always draws a lot of participants and I didn't pre-register so I got to the park early to sign up for the Short Series. It's been a few years since I've run the Frostbite Series but I remember the registration area being crazy on the first day. There was a year or two that I almost didn't get registered in time for the start of the race.

This year wasn't a problem. When I got to the information center where the Track Club sets up shop, there weren't very many runners there yet.

Outside the Information Center when I arrived.

I was able to register really quickly and then found a quiet corner to hang out in until closer to race time. I pinned my number on my shirt and then settled in with a book I brought to pass the time.

When it was time to drop things off at my car so I could warm up, I went back through the lobby and saw that the crowd had arrived. Everyone was packed in the lobby trying to stay warm until the race.

A familiar sight at the Frostbite Series.

Things were much more lively outside too. It was so quiet an hour ago and now there were people everywhere and you could tell by all of the runners' nervous energy that it was almost race time.

I went for my usual warm-up run and then ditched my extra layers in my car. Both races start at the same time but at different starting lines so I went over to the 3K area.

My only criticism of this race is the start. The 3K starts on a side road and as soon as the horn sounds, we make an immediate right turn onto the road that runs in front of the information center. Without fail, that turn causes problems for the pack of runners. You either have to line up at the very front or at the back of the pack unless you want to risk getting tangled up and trampled.

Today was no exception. I lined up near the front so I could get out and away from people early but when the race started and we turned the corner, I could hear the scuffling behind me. I'm pretty sure a couple of people hit the pavement.

As an added bonus this year, the road must not have been closed because there was a car and a city bus in the middle of the road right in front of the information center. The road is already lined with parked cars and I always envision side-view mirrors being torn off but now we had to dodge cars in the middle of the course too. We all did our best to control the chaos as we swarmed around them and once we passed the bus, we were in the clear for the rest of the race.

I don't have a lot of strategy for a 3K race. It's just under 2 miles so I basically run the first mile as fast as I can without killing myself and then try to keep the pace from dropping in the second mile. It's an out-an-back course and I reached the turn around feeling pretty good. It seemed like there were high school kids everywhere and I remembered that the Frostbite Series usually has a lot of kids racing to stay in shape between cross country and track seasons.

On the way back, I started to tighten up and it felt like I was running a track workout. Running a short, fast race like this brings on such a different kind of tired from the fatigue of a long run. I notice the tightening in my arms first. It gets harder and harder to breathe. Everything tightens up instead of just feeling run down. I could feel my turnover slowing so I tried to get a little more distance out of my stride and every now and then tried to pick up the pace.

At the end of the race, the course turns onto a winding sidewalk that snakes around behind the information center. The path is about 100 meters long and every Frostbite Series race ends here. I'm always tired and hurting when I turn that corner and I have two goals for that last 100 meters: 1)Don't let anyone pass me. 2)Pass anyone within reach in front of me.

I didn't pass anyone in the home stretch today but I didn't get passed by anyone either. I crossed the finish line in 10:59. My first mile was in 5:36 and my average over the race was 5:54 per mile so the second half of the race must have been significantly slower. It's still my best 3K ever!

Even though the temperature was in the 20's, the race was so short, I didn't have time to get cold. I snagged some of the post-race snacks... the Frostbite Series always has good cookies and pretzels filled with peanut butter... and went back to my car for warmer clothes and my book.

I waited in the information center for the results and wondered if this part of the process would be faster than in past years that I've run the series. It's amazing how technology has changed races in the past few years. Results are practically instantaneous thanks to timing chips and computers.

Sure enough, there was a flat screen monitor set up that scrolled through the results as they were posted. The list was updated every few minutes and it seemed like they would be able to start the awards ceremony soon.

Fast results.

Apparently, the technology still isn't perfect though. At first, it reported that I finished 6th overall. That didn't seem right. I know I wasn't far from the front, and I know I get a little bit of tunnel vision late in the race, but it sure seemed like there were more than five people in front of me.

The list obviously wasn't complete yet and apparently, some of the people that signed up for the longer race decided to run the 3K instead because their results were already listed for the long race. I found a place to sit with my book and the list kept cycling across the monitor. I moved from 6th, to 9th, to 12th, and finally ended up 28th overall. I finished 2nd in my age group though so I got a ribbon and I should be in a good position as far as series points in my age group.

When I left, a lot of people were still huddled around the monitor looking for their results. Another problem with this system is that it listed all of the 3K finishers and then started scrolling through the long race results. But the system reset every few minutes to update the results and the runners lower on the list of long race finishers never got to see their results because the system always reset before it got to them.

This is the first time I've seen results posted in this way and the system has potential, but it still has a few flaws that need to be ironed out.

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 1.86 Miles.
Time: 10:59. 5:54 Avg. (5:36, 5:23*).
Route: Frostbite Series #1 - 3K.
Conditions: 26 degrees. 9:00AM.

Time: 10:59. 5:54 avg. (5:36, 5:23*).
28th out of 573 finishers.
2nd out of 22 men ages 30-34.

Notes: Didn't set a PR in the Thanksgiving 5K, but set a new PR for 3K today! The first 11 finishers were ages 15-17. 21 of the 27 people that beat me were 19 or younger. Made me feel old!

Daily Miles: 1.86 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 609.62 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 14,350+ meters.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two Weeks... Two Workouts

Am I slacking off? Am I taking a much-deserved break? Am I resting up for something big? Is the glass half empty or half full?

In the past two weeks, I've done exactly two workouts. Not exactly hardcore.

Both workouts were at the Rec Center. Last Tuesday (the 29th), I planned to meet Liz for a swim but our timing was off so I ended up running on the treadmill and Liz went for a swim on her own. I messed around in the gym and did a little lifting and then ran 4 miles. Normally, I'm not a fan of treadmill running because I get bored so quickly, but that 4 miles wasn't bad at all for some reason.

Then this Tuesday (the 6th), Liz and I got our act together and went for a swim. We swam 1,000 meters in three chunks (300/400/300) and I realized that I can run for a long time and just let my mind wander. But when I swim, all I'm thinking about is my breathing and how many more laps until I stop. Hopefully, I'll get comfortable enough in the water that I can let my mind wander while I'm swimming and the workouts will be more fun.

I run the first race of this year's Frostbite Series tomorrow. Hopefully, that will get me back in the groove.

Tuesday (11/29)
Goal For The Day: Run
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 28:28. 7:07 Avg. (7:30, 7:13, 6:58, 6:44).
Route: Treadmill at Fenton Rec Center.
Conditions: Stuffy. 6:00PM.

Tuesday (12/6)
Goal For The Day: Swim.
Distance: 1,000 meters. (300/400/300).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: I'm working on my plans for 2012 and I'm thinking I'll need a lot of early mornings and dedication so for now, I'll let myself sleep in and slack off a little.

Daily (Recent) Miles: 4.00 Miles Run. 1,000 meter Swim.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 611.76 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 15,350+ meters.