2015 Loony Challenge Goals

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Let's lay this all out.

Last year (the 2nd year of the Loony Challenge and my first time doing it), these were my times for the 10K, 5K, and 10 Mile:

38:40, 18:38, 1:01:42 = 1:59:00 total

But, as I mentioned shortly after the race in this post, the 10 Mile was accidentally a little short. My 1:01:42 was equivalent to 1:02:34. So my adjusted Loony time would really look like this:

38:40, 18:38, 1:02:34 = 1:59:52 total

Last year, "sub 2:00:00" was really the best possible goal, and I was able to get that. Barely. Here are my hopes for this year's race this weekend. I like to have multiple goals and see HOW many I can hit. Let's start with the easiest goals and move towards the "if it's a good race" goals:

• FIRST: finish all 3 races. My achilles flared up on my easy Monday run, so I'm not running again until the 10K on Saturday (and I'm trying to get in to my A.R.T. Doc today). I just want to get to the finish line of all 3 races.

• SECOND: try to win the series. Last year, out of the initial 500 who entered the Loony Challenge, I came out on top by over 7 minutes:

I don't think I'm in QUITE as good of shape this year, but 7 minutes is a decent cushion. Depending on who shows up to race, I have a chance at winning again, so I'm going for it.

• THIRD: sub-2:02:00 series finish. That's over 2 minutes slower than last year. I think that's very do-able. I COULD be slower, but I really don't hope to be.

• FOURTH: try to keep my times close to last year's. With the effects of overtraining that I'm currently feeling (as mentioned in Monday's post), I don't know how possible this will be. My 10 Mile time might end up a little down the crapper. We'll see.

• FIFTH: sub-2:00:00 like last year. If these overtraining issues don't really do anything to affect my legs come race day, it's possible to be close to last year's times. I think.

• SIXTH: race PR of sub-1:59:52. This is only 8 seconds faster than my 5th goal, but I'm 99.4% sure this is impossible. Again, we'll just have to see. So this goes down as my "best possible goal" for the race.

One "downside" to this year's Loony Challenge vs. last year's is that the boys are staying with us this year. Last year, we were able to ship them to my Mother-in-Law's house for the weekend, and we were able to go out for breakfast after the 10K and 5K, get a quick massage, TAKE A NAP, and then roll into bed at night before the TC 10 Mile (and Marathon for my wife) whenever we wanted to. So Pharmie and I will be starting the TC 10 Mile/Marathon a LITTLE more pooped than we were last year.

Keep an eye on my tweets and my Instagram over this weekend for updates! Hoping for the best!


My Sister's First Half Marathon

>> Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My sister is running the Mankato Half Marathon in less than 3 weeks. It will be her longest race ever! She's ran a few 5Ks, and generally keeps her runs at 6 miles or less. She just ran her first 10 mile training run, and is doing 12 with a group next weekend!

She's running for a cause. She's running with a group from her church to raise money for World Vision, who's trying to make sure everyone in the world has access to clean drinking water. Here's a video from World Vision that explains what they do:

If you're interested, here's a link to my sister's donation page. She's trying to raise $1,310 (13.1 miles X $100). Here's what she says on her page:

So I've decided to run the half marathon this October! Even at the beginning of July, I was adamant I would not run a half marathon. Sure, I enjoyed jogging 3 miles or doing aerobics a few times a week, it was my stress-relief: I felt better, slept better, ate better, laughed easier, yelled at my kids less. Doing more than that wasn't on my agenda. Then several random people starting asking me in July if I was going to run the half marathon this fall. "NOPE!" I replied with a smile. But, something in my heart was changing...then just a week or two later, it was announced at my church that Team World Vision would have a team running to raise money to get clean water. Heart pulls. I knew that God wanted me to join in the running to help others.

So I'm doing it! I'm running with Team World Vision to help provide clean water for communities in Africa. The needs are real, but we believe that we can end the clean water crisis in our lifetime.

$50 = clean water for 1 person.

Will you invest in the future and provide clean water for 1, 2, 3, or even more people in Africa? We can help change lives, together.

Thanks for your support!

World Vision is a non-profit who puts 85% of every dollar back into helping their cause. They have received positive press about how much of their donations go STRAIGHT into their cause, and not towards things like office expenses or advertising.

Anyway, go here to give if you can, and GOOD LUCK SIS in 2.5 weeks! I'll let you all know how she does!



>> Monday, September 28, 2015

Yep. I ramped up my miles pretty quick after my little achilles injury 2 months ago, and I'm feeling the effects of overtraining.

The first and only (or at least "worst") time I've been overtrained in the past was going into my first TC 10 Mile in 2009. I was naive. I ran most every run "all out." Just over 2 weeks before that race, I did a 9.5 mile tempo run. A few days later, I did a 5 mile tempo. Ten days pre-race, I did a "practice" 10 mile, and felt dead throughout. Now I know it was because I was training too hard leading up to it. (And WHO does a "practice" 10 mile race 10 days before your "real" 10 mile race? Sheesh.) I was running 2-3 times per week, and every run was HARD.

Now I'm smarter. I'm running a little more often (still just consistently 3 times per week), and every run has a warm-up and cool-down. I'll do an easy run if the legs need to be flushed out. There's more emphasis on distances and not just speed. Six years ago, I wasn't injured and didn't have kids, so I was getting in all the runs I could want, and I only covered about 70 miles in September. This year, I'm nursing an injury and working around "stay-at-home Dadding" and teaching, and I'm already over 89 miles with possibly 1 more run before the month is over to take September to maybe around 94 miles.

This year's overtraining is different than 6 years ago. Six years ago, it was about tired muscles from ALWAYS being worked so hard. This year, it's about sluggish legs from adding on miles so quick, mixed with sheer exhaustion (felt when not running).

Achilles injury on 7/20, then finally did something about it the week of 8/3 and started to build
my running back from there. Biking is all over the place, but running slowly builds.
(And remember, I stopped swimming 7 weeks ago because of my elbow.)


Exhaustion example #1: In the last few months since Charlie's stopped breast feeding, I've been the one getting up to give him a bottle in the middle of the night. (Don't give me a medal - my wife works full time and I work about 1/6 time, so it's literally the least I can do.) Once about 10 days ago - for the FIRST time ever - Charlie woke up and I nudged Pharmie out of bed to deal with him because I was just too tired. And then I felt so guilty in the morning. Oops. Sorry Hun.

Exhaustion example #2: For the last 3.5 years, I've been getting up once a week at 2:44 a.m. to go to Adoration at my church. (I really only mentioned it once in this post 3 years ago.) After church, I sometimes go out and make photos, and sometimes I workout. Before this month, I think I've maybe skipped ONE workout during the 4 a.m. hour over the last 3 years because I've been too tired. In the last month, I've skipped TWO.

(And I'm not extra tired for any other reason. I've had no stress to start the semester. I'm sleeping a good amount at night. In the past when I've been running this far, I'm FAR from this exhausted. I'm certain this exhaustion is from ramping up the miles too quickly [possibly mixed with doing more "distance" speed work when all summer I was only racing shorter triathlons] without giving my body time to get used to the build.)

Health example: Since March or April, I've only had 1 cold. Until recently. Then in the last 2 weeks, I've had TWO colds. I may still have this one next weekend for the races. Tip: don't run next to me this weekend because you may get a snot rocket blasted on you. Accidentally, of course.

Training example: By the time I got to my last long run 9 days ago (of 11.5 miles), miles ran at "race pace" were hard. Not because I was running them too fast, but just because my legs were super heavy all the time. Three weeks ago, my easy runs started feeling harder than they should have. But I just had to get the miles in.

So, how will this affect me this weekend at the races? Who knows. I'm not going to think about it. Maybe it will go away with a week of rest. Maybe my legs will feel like heavy crap bags in the first of my 3 races this weekend. I suspect if I feel any overtraining effects this weekend, it will be on Saturday in the 10K or 5K when I'm trying to go shorter and faster - my legs will already feel a bit tired on Sunday in the 10 Mile after doing the 2 races the day before, so I don't think I'll notice anything different. I hope. We'll see.

Back with some "Loony Challenge" goals in a day or 2!


Date Night with Henry

>> Saturday, September 26, 2015

Last night, I had a "date night" with just Henry. Before having kids, I heard of parents having once a week/month "date nights" with their kids, and I didn't think much of it. I thought it was cute, but that's about it. But now, being the stay-at-home parent all summer and for all but about 9 hours a week, I TOTALLY GET IT. There's a good need for 1-on-1 "date nights."

I realized it on Wednesday, before there was any thought of a night out with Henry. On Wednesday, Pharmie didn't work, and she took Charlie to his 15-month check-up (and shots). So it was just me (not me AND Charlie) getting Henry from pre-school. Right away on the car ride back home, the mood was different. It wasn't about keeping Charlie content; Henry and I could just chat about anything. (Sure, I'm chatting with a 4-year-old, so we weren't talking politics or the Pope's visit to the US, but the conversation was STILL more "mature" than when I'm with both boys.) And when we got home, we could do WHATEVER we wanted: we checked the veggie garden, played in the sandbox (with water, which Henry doesn't get to do much when Charlie's around), and even went to the front yard to weed the garden in the blvd (something I can't do with Charlie wobbling around). Through all of this, I was able to really "connect" more with Henry. That spurred the thought of an upcoming "date night."

We just got a "Chinook Book" coupon book from a friend at the Y, so we planned on using some coupons out of there. The plan was to use a free Metro Transit pass to take the light rail to the Mall of America, and then use a coupon to go to Sea Life Aquarium in the mall. Henry was pumped.

Before going, I set out Charlie's bottle and Mama's "bottle" for when Charlie got put to bed.

Running up the escalator to the light rail station.

On our 25 minute train ride to the mall! Henry loved it. We got to see a plane take off right over
us as we went past the airport! (His only other time on the light rail was to go see fireworks in July.)

Running from the trains at the light rail stop at the mall.

We made it down to Sea Life Aquarium about 45 minutes before it closed, but that was enough time. Henry didn't want to touch the starfish or sting rays in the tanks we could put our hands into, but he liked some of the upcoming tanks, like the jellyfish and seahorses:

Counting seahorses.

Running to see the sharks in the tunnels!



Right on top of us!

Needless to say, he loved it.

Freshwater tanks.

This was Henry's face as he realized there were 2 alligators just 5 feet in front of his face!

Pizza upstairs after seeing the fish.

... and a frog cookie for dessert.

We ended with a run-through of Legoland. This is a wall of different containers
of Lego blocks that you can mix-and-match to fill a tub.

He looks bored, but he wanted us to sit on either side of the train station to see
if the train would come in on his tracks or my tracks first. I won.

A cozy selfie on the ride back home (20 minutes AFTER he's usually in bed with lights out!).

The last photo of the night: Henry stole my phone and took 10 selfies like this.

Back with a final training update soon, because the "Loony Challenge" is NEXT WEEKEND!

(Check out my final "Friday Funny" from yesterday to see guys doing not-smart things at the gym.)


Friday Funny 985: Ways to Kill Yourself at the Gym

>> Friday, September 25, 2015

I don't have words for most of these...

Lots more funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com. Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 984: Lord of the Ring Pick-Up Lines

Use one of these to woo your favorite nerd:

More funny things on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 983: Tag Lines for Different Cities

Most of these seem pretty spot-on...

Lots more funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: 10 Running Myths that are Slowing You Down

>> Thursday, September 24, 2015

Outside Magazine posted an article last spring that had some interesting thoughts. It shared the 10 running myths that researchers and expert coaches have recently debunked. The original article has lots of links and more details, but I'll give you the run-down here:

1. Max Heart Rate Has Been Calculated Wrong

The old way of calculating training heart race for lactate threshold-based training has come under fire. A program director of the sports cardiology clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, recently analyzed data from 25,000 cardiac stress tests, a procedure in which a patient exercises to maximum physical exertion while doctors monitor the heart’s function. The researchers found that while everyone’s max heart rate goes down with age, it decreases more slowly in women. In the end, they proposed this new formula for calculating max heart rate:

For women: 200 – (.67)age

For men: 216 – (.93)age

2. A Midfoot Strike is Best

A new study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that rear-foot strikers are up to 9.3 percent more economical than midfoot strikers. "With the cost of energy that a forefoot [subject] needed to run, at a fixed speed, they could be running 1 km/h faster," lead author Ana Ogueta-Alday told Outside reporter Matt Allyn - the equivalent of dropping from a 7:30 minute mile pace to 7:00 flat. Why? "Ogueta-Alday believes the reason for the improved efficiency stems from the increased ground contact time the study observed in rearfoot strikers. More contact time with the ground allows for more force to be applied, while also decreasing the metabolic cost of running."

But it's still proven that heel-strikers have a higher injury rate because of the greater impact on the body caused by landing on the heel. Basically, if you’re a heel striker and haven’t been chronically injured, there’s no need to change your ways.

3. Less is More

As the New York Times reports, last summer five separate studies presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine "found no significant benefits, in terms of economy, from switching to minimalist, barefoot-style footwear." The Times also showed that other studies have found that wearing minimalist shoes does not toughen foot muscles to make runners more injury resistant, one of the key arguments of the minimalist movement. For certain "biomechanically blessed runners," minimalist shoes may work well. Other runners seem to have decided, with the help of scientific research or not, that minimalism isn’t for them.

4. You'll Peak in Your 20s

"Studies have shown that sprinters tend to peak in their early to mid-20s, and elite marathoners peak around 29. But runners who go long - ultra-long - could be dominating races well into their 40s." A recent study looked at top finishers in 24-hour ultramarathons held worldwide between 1977 and 2012. The annual 10 fastest men and women were 40.9 and 43 years old, respectively.

A second recent study looked at even LONGER distance races, showing that some distances have finishers peaking at 43 for women and 48 for men. The study suggested that masters athletes "have high intrinsic motivation to run, race, and train more for self-satisfaction and improvement than prestige or beating rivals, as their younger counterparts often do."

5. Running Destroys Your Knees

I feel like this point is de-bunked every-other week. Recently, researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine wrote, "long-distance running might even have a protective effect against joint degeneration." One of the new arguments for this is that while running does put more force into each stride, runners have much longer strides than walkers, so over the same DISTANCE, running is better on the joints.

6. Glucosamine Helps Your Joints

"Save your cash. Compared with a placebo, research has shown, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination don’t reduce joint pain, nor do they prevent osteoarthritis."

7. You Can Eat Whatever You Want

This Wall Street Journal headline says it all: "Studies Show There Are Heart Risks to Devil-May-Care Diets - No Matter How Much You Run." I've also heard this summed up nicely by saying "you can't outrun a bad diet." While being physically active has been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, studies have also shown that "avid runners don’t have a more favorable atherosclerotic risk profile than less active people. Atherosclerotic being a fancy word for hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances."

8. Dehydration Wrecks Performance

The long standing "fact" on this stated that losing more than 2% of bodyweight to dehydrating will hurt your performance, but that's being a little reversed. First, the method in which these theories were tested in the past has come under fire. Second, a study recently showed that cyclists who lost up to 3% did not lower their power output. Third, a study of soldiers marching in the heat found a loss of 3.8% did not affect their 25K marching times. And finally, a study a few years ago that looked at the drinking behaviors of elite male marathoners found "that Haile Gebreselassie lost a whopping 9.8 percent of his bodyweight during the 2009 Dubai Marathon - and still won, in 2:05:29."

9. All Your Runs Need to be Fast

I've been realizing this one over the years myself. There are 2 other proven ways to get faster other than to run fast. First, work on your efficiency. Here are some thoughts from Jon Clemens from the San Diego Milestone Track Club: "Improving running economy will help you run faster because you’re not wasting energy, for example, allowing your left leg to do something weird on your stride," Clemens says. Plyometric exercises like high knees, butt kicks, skipping, and walking on your tiptoes will help "make you stronger and minimize excessive movement," Clemens says.

The second tip is to work on strength. Staying strong will help you maintain form, which could help you hold on while others are slowing from fatigue later in the race. Running more and running hills can help give you more strength to run faster.

10. Your Long Run Must Be 20 Miles

There's been a recent "controversial" thought that runners training for a marathon shouldn't go past 2.5 hours in training no matter what pace they run. The idea is that it's fine if an elite runner can cover 20-plus miles in 2.5 hours or less. But it may take novice runners twice the amount of time to cover that distance, and therefore, they’ll suffer twice the amount of impact on the body, which could lead to race-ending overuse injuries. Legendary running coach Jack Daniels says "don't worry that you won't be able to complete a 4:30 marathon if you have never run beyond two and a half hours in training. In fact, it is not necessary to train at such a high percentage of your race distance no matter what the course." He says to avoid over-training and burnout, keep that long run at 2.5 hours, no matter how far you've run, rather than making sure to hit 20 miles.

Again, these 10 ideas are just a synopsis of a bigger article (that has many more links to relevant studies). Check out the original article for more details.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.


Semi-Wordless Wednesday: I Wouldn't Be Training For a Long Race If THIS Didn't Happen

>> Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My 11.5 miler on Saturday ended with a little foot pain. Nothing bad, don't worry. Yesterday morning, I snapped this pic:


I don't "lose" toenails. I just kill them. And then a new one slowly starts to grow out from underneath the purple one. Awesome.

TEN days until the the Loony Challenge!


Biking Down a Bobsled Run

>> Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'd try this:

Direct link: https://youtu.be/rl-wWHr_-ck


TC 10 Mile and Loony Challenge Just TWO WEEKS AWAY!

>> Saturday, September 19, 2015

It's gonna happen, folks. I had some big achilles issues less than 8 weeks ago, but I gave that rest, got it healed up (or should I say "heeled" up?) and I'm looking OK for the TC 10 Mile!

My last 2 big "training update" posts were this post from 2 weeks ago when I actually felt good enough to do intervals on the track, along with a long run of 8.25 miles. And this post from last weekend where I noted a brutal tempo/interval/fartlek-style speed workout that I did.

So last week (Sept 7-13) consisted of a moderate 6 miler on Tuesday, an average distance ride on Wednesday, that hard run workout I posted about on Thursday, 55 minutes on the trainer on Friday, rest Saturday, and a long run of 10 MILES on Sunday! I didn't go "all out" in the 10 mile so I wouldn't injure myself: I told myself to hold around 6:20s for 5 miles in the middle. I did 6:31, 6:15, 6:21, 6:15, and 6:15 for a 6:19.6 average. Nailed it.

This week was also the first week where my total running mileage was more than
the 19.3 miles I'll be racing over 25 hours for the Loony Challenge next month.

This past week (Sept 14-now) looked similar. It started with an easy spin during the boys' naps on Monday. Then I did an easy 6 on Tuesday with Charlie:

(As seen in Wednesday's post.)

Wednesday was another average distance ride, and Thursday was a hard run: I had a little time after class and before I had to get the boys, so I did a 2 mile WU, 3 miles all out, and a 2 mile CD. My 3 hard miles had a nice descend: half miles of 3:04, 3:04, 3:01, 2:59, 2:56, and 2:52 for 17:56 total. (Which wasn't as fast as I had hoped, but it was SUPER humid and I had a cold, so I just did what I could.) Friday was rest, and today was another long run: 11.5 MILES! I had planned on running 6 "faster" in the middle (build for a mile and run 5 at 6:20 pace), but my legs were heavy and crappy, and I only did 5.5 fast, and added that extra 0.5 mile to my CD. I did those 5.5 miles in 35:06, or 6:22.90 pace.

I hope to do a longer ride tomorrow, rest Monday, maybe an easy 6-7 miler on Tuesday, and then maybe 1 more "shorter long run" of around 10 miles on Thursday before starting to scale back in the final 10 days leading up to the race weekend. After that, I'll be doing shorter, "snappier" workouts to keep the legs fresh.


Friday Funny 982: College Life

>> Friday, September 18, 2015

Well, I'm back in the thick of it teaching at a local University. (See this nerdy post on my Photo Blog showing the whiteboard after a week of photo lecture.) I figured it was good timing to share some "seen in college" funnies:

It's OK if this happens outside of college too, right? Right? RIGHT?

Bonus: here's an email from a student and a professor's reply:

More funnies on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 981: Donald Trump Pamphlet

I'm not trying to take any political stance. I'm just sharing this pamphlet that Obvious Plant created and left in a doctor's office:

More funny stuff posted on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com all week long.



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