Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Note: To those teens googling for information about Ecstasy, just say "No!"

So last week Katie and I started a different workout routine.  We started doing the P90X program in the mornings to give Katie's plantar faciitis a break from the rigors of running.  Prior to the start I had a few preconceived notions about the program. My week of personal experience has given me few more insights.

1. P90X is very difficult
I figured the program would be difficult, mostly because of the cardio intensity.  The advertisements show a lot of bouncing around and jumping.  I was pretty sure that some of the work would be difficult as much of my fitness is for endurance sports, not for intense cardio.  However, I considered my self to be a fairly fit individual.  I am NOT fit by P90X standards.  Not only is the intense cardio difficult, but the strength exercises are also very difficult!  The workout includes tons of lunges, planking, push-ups, and any other number of body resistance exercises.  We did the Kenpo X workout yesterday and my arms are more sore than they have been in years.  Who would have though that throwing hundreds of punches at imaginary opponents would work your biceps so much?!  I thought with all of the biking and running that I do that my legs would be the good part of my workout, but there are so many lunges and squat positions that you hold for great lengths of time that my legs actually give out!  I did wall squats for the first time since high school and I thought I was going to start crying!  My legs were shaking and the sweat was poring down my face.

2. I am not flexible
I know that I am not the most flexible of individuals, but I thought I was about average.  I can stand with my feet shoulder-width apart and touch my toes.  I was concerned about the Yoga X workout, but I never thought it would be the workout that did me in; it was!  The workout is 90 minutes long!  And if I had to guess I would bet that I was in plank, downward dog, and runners pose for 45 minutes of the workout. The workout has you do these "vinyassas" over and over and over.  At one point, I didn't think I would be able to take it anymore.  Finally, we halted on the vinyassas and started these strength poses.  I thought it might be a bit of a reprieve for me, but the poses had me falling all over the floor as I attempted to contort my body into these arrangements all while remaining upright.  Honestly, the workout made me feel very inadequate and my attitude got really shitty!  Sadly, the only person that I had to take it out on was Katie.  Not a good idea, but thankfully she has forgiven me!

3. Tony Horton is annoying (see above)
I had seen Tony from the commercials and actually witnessed him in action on the Ab Ripper X workout.  All of these experiences were just short spurts of Tony, but even still I found him to be kind of dorky, somewhat conceited, and sometimes a pore instructor.  After having spent several hours with Tony this past week, I now find him to be VERY conceited, confusing as hell, and he seems to have some strange aversion to commitment to romantic relationships.  Thankfully, in the next couple of weeks as I gain more experience and familiarity, I can turn the sound off and just use the visual cues for the workouts.  Katie's distaste extends beyond Tony as she actually became annoyed with one of the other participants this morning.  " I hate Dreya.  She is too [darn] eager!"  I couldn't agree more, Honey!

All of these points aside, I think it is a good workout program, I am glad that Katie and I are doing it together, and I think it is doing the trick. I hope I get better at some of the coordination and balance, and I for damn sure want to get better at that Yoga, or at least do it without crying like a little girl!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Half-Marathon Sufferfest, and How I Learned to Love It

There has never been a question that my first half marathon was not what I would have considered a success.  I struggled and suffered my way to the finish.  When I was done I doubted that I would ever do another half again.  But my attitude quickly renewed and I signed up to run another half, in my hometown, in Galesburg.  Sadly, my second half marathon results were about the same.  I struggled and suffered and in some ways the run was not a success.

It didn't start out that way.  I drove myself to the starting area, as my family had a plan to catch me out on the route.  No sooner than locking my car door, I heard someone say, "Brian!"  I turned to find Shawn.  I almost did not recognize him at first.  It had been probably 18 years since I had last seen him.  Shawn and I played baseball together most of our young lives.  He was a year younger than me in school.  I had his father as a teacher, and I knew his now wife, Melissa, very well also.  I caught up quickly with Shawn, his wife, their lives, their 3 sons, and Shawn's Dad, who I got the chance to talk to for a few minutes. I left to go and stretch and found one of my best friends Matt, who was helping to organize the race.  I had seen Matt the day before at the running store, but had not figured on seeing him today.  He asked how I was feeling and I responded, "Good."  The weather was temperate, about 70 degrees, sunny.  I felt rested and ready.  Soon I ran across Mike and his wife Terra, then April, her parents, and her new husband and baby.  We all quickly caught up with our lives, where we were, what we were doing, and how our families were. 

Before I knew it, it was time to line up and run.  I got into the crowd near Mike and asked what he thought he would be running today.  He said about 8 minutes per mile.  I responded that that was my goal as well and settled into the idea of sticking near Mike.  The gun went off and we were going.  The crowd was nice, not too big, and I saw quite a few familiar faces.  As I attempted to stay up with Mike, I felt like I was moving pretty quickly, but the legs felt good and I was having no trouble breathing.  By mile 1, I wondered if I had made a mistake.  I was still feeling pretty good, but I had just run the first mile in 7:20, not at all what my race plan had been.  I watched as Mike continued to push forward, and attempted to reel myself back in order to conserve some energy.  I still crossed mile 2 at exactly 15 minutes, way too fast.  Pretty soon we exited the city and headed out a county highway.  At that point we turned directly into the sun, and what I had thought was temperate weather turned out to be pretty damn hot.  There was no shade to be had and the sun was really starting to heat up the country blacktop.  On the way out the route took you into a small subdivision on the north side of the road. This was the last place that I saw Mike, o the turnaround, and I yelled, "So much for 8 minute miles, Mike!"  To which he responded, "I am feeling good!" Mile 4 went by at 30:15, still too fast, but it did feel good to see that I was definitely in the early part of the pack.  I headed back out to the blacktop and soon came across my family at mile 5.  Katie, the kids, my dad, my cousin, and her boyfriend had all come out to cheer me on.  It felt really good to see all of them, and considering that there was literally no crowd cheering us on this far out of town, they were like a little oasis for me.  I stopped to hug the kids and I took my first official walking break to hydrate and fuel.  The sun was brutally hot and I took my headband off to release some heat and to avoid an embarrassing tan line.

The stretch between 5 and 7 took a lot out of me.  The wind was at our back, headed straight in to the sun and all one could see was road, cones, and runners.  It was a bit demoralizing.  My speed had begun to lag mightily.  I pulled into mile 7 at exactly 56 minutes, so I was on target, but I was deteriorating quickly.  I grabbed a GU gel and shot it into the back of my throat, first to avoid vomiting from the texture and second in the hopes of gaining some much needed energy.  Mile 7 to 9 were on Blaze Road.  We finally had the sun at our backs and there was a gentle breeze in our faces.  there were a few spots of shade, but all of these pros were soon outweighed by the fact that Blaze Road is freaking hilly!  I continued to trudge up and down the hills.  By mile 8 I decided to take an unprescribed walking break.  I was burning up bad and my legs were really beat.  I knew my family would be at mile 9 again so I bucked up and pushed on.  It was in this shirt stretch that I came to a few realizations.

I was sucking at this particular half marathon.  I was already 4 minutes behind my goal time split and my tank was empty.  I considered a few things.  First, should I ever run a half marathon again?  Experience would tell me that I am not very good at them. Second, should I ever consider running a full marathon?  If I have this much trouble with a half, how bad would I be at 26.2 miles?  Third, I am not having very much fun, and I like to enjoy myself especially when venturing into athletics.  If I am not having fun, should I just quit? It was that last thought that stuck with me.  I struggled with the idea quite a bit.  Should I just tell my family that "I quit, take me home!"?  What kind of example would that be to my kids?  So, I hatched a new racing plan.  HAVE FUN!  I went through the plan in my mind.  I would jog when I could and walk when I have to.  I would enjoy the last 4 miles instead of making myself sick with suffering.  And most importantly I would not quit.

So, when I reached my family, I stopped for a minute, talked about how tough the run was, how hot the sun was, and how much I was struggling.  I thanked them for coming out and being there, and I told them how good it felt to have them cheering for me.  I also said, "Take your time getting to the finish because I am."  And with that I was off again. 

Over the next few miles, I walked a lot.  I also jogged some, but very slowly.  I saw an old classmate and runner, Heather, on the side of the road.  I said, "Shouldn't you be out here?"  It took her a second to recognize me, but it was nice to see her smile when she did.  I joked with a few more of the fans as I got back into town.  I told the other runners how well they were doing as they passed me. I saw the funniest sign of the race and told the 2 young kids holding it "Thank you!"  The sign read, "No Candy?  Worst. Parade. Ever."  It still tickles me.

By mile 12 my legs were cramping and I was walking a lot more than I was running, but I kept moving forward.  About a quarter of a mile form the finish line, I saw Matt again.  This time he had his fiance with him.  I had never met her, so I stopped, introduced myself, and gave her a hug.  she was obviously a bit surprised to be getting a sweaty hug from the runner she just met on the street, but I was having fun!  She told me to keep running to the finish, and I told her I would get there eventually.  Finally, I saw the finish line.  Right before I left my family that last time my son said to me "Dad, when you see that finish line, you sprint to the end!"  It was my words to him during many of his training runs and definitely during his first 5K.  It really touched me that he would say the same thing to me today.   So, when I saw the finish line I "sprinted" or at least what I could do to resemble a sprint.  I finally crossed the line at 1:59:56, not even close to any of my race goals.  But you know what?  That is OK because I definitely learned to have some fun!

Friday, June 1, 2012

No Fear

So I haven't talked about it much, but I have a half marathon this weekend.  On Sunday, I will be participating in the Galesburg Half Marathon Express.  This will be my second attempt at a half marathon and I have a lot of thoughts running through my brain.

Will I bonk again?
In my first attempt at a half, I did not reach my goal in large part because my in-race nutrition fell apart.  This time I have been training with a fuel belt and I will be wearing it during the race.  I have been using a sport drink that has a significant amount of calories and should avoid any low blood sugars.  But still I have the fear.

Will it be too hot?
On my first half, the weather was almost ideal for a long run.  The temps were around 45 degrees and it was overcast (it rained and hailed after I had finished; I was glad not to be a full marathoner that day!).  On Sunday, it could get as hot as 85 degrees.  That is not a terrible temp, but it is much hotter than my last attempt.  I worry about dehydration.  I know that there will be water on the course, but I am just not good at working that into my races yet.

Will I be able to sleep the night before?
Last time, my mind was racing the morning before the race and I had a terrible night's sleep.  When it got to race time, I felt fine, but I wonder if a little more sleep would not have helped.  Considering that I am writing about how much is on my brain already, I have a feeling that sleep will difficult.

Have I trained enough?
The early part of my training went very well, but the last few weeks I found that I was not getting the miles in that I felt that I needed because family obligations and a lack of motivation got in my way.  My eagerness to follow a training regime wanes as the race gets closer.  I have been able to rest my legs this week, but I wonder if I have rested too much and I won't have the stamina come Sunday.

Have I been loading too many carbs?
I started taking in more cards around Tuesday and have begum to peak today and tomorrow.  Since I don't usually eat too many carbs, I have been getting a bloated feeling.  When you add the lack of exercise in favor of rest, I just feel fat and bloated.  I am carrying a couple of extra pounds over what I weighed at my last half, and I question if it will be a strain on my performance.

What is my goal time?
I want to beat last year's time of 1:51.  I have a safe goal of 1:45, but I would really like to beat 1:41.  I get so worked up about how to run a race to meet these goals.  I plan to go out running slightly less than 8 minute miles.  That may be difficult if I get swept up in the start of the race and my legs feel good from the rest.  However, part of my problem last year was that I went out of the gates way too fast.  I will have to tone it down a bit at the start.  About mile 6 I will begin to evaluate how I feel and hope to pick up the pace until about mile 10.  At that point, after evaluating my body, I hope to really pick it up and finish the race strong.

Will I get a poop out before I start racing?
Pooping is a constant concern of mine.  All too often I have had to stop training runs to find a restroom.  I have to get a good poop out before I start, but if I am nervous I wonder if my body will rebel against me.

As you can see I am very fearful of what this race may hold for me.  I hope to calm my nerves and have a good race.  Honestly, I just want to have a good time!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If You're Not First, You're Last

I am a very competitive person.  I always have been.  I struggle with the thought that this is still a good quality to have.  It is helpful in my professional life as I work to be the best at what I do.  But I actually take it a step further.  Not only do I want to do my very best, but I want to be better than the guy/girl that did the work before me.  All in all I don't think it is a bad thing, as the result is that I usually elevate the performance of wherever I am working.

However, when it comes to my personal life, I am not so sure that the competitive bug is a good thing.  Example: When I was in high school I played in the Western Big 6 athletic conference.  To this day, if anyone tells me they are from Quincy, I have an inclination to dislike them.  When I hear the name Brian Moline, a reporter on the local radio station, I cringe a bit because of his last name.  And when I read about my daughter's birthday party on my wife's blog and saw the name "Treasure Rock Island" my stomach turned a little.

I race innocent girls on the streets over my lunch hour and I challenge Olympic athletes to half marathon races.  Sure my ultimate goal is to do my very best personally, but my best work in a race is done when I am chasing somebody down from behind. Competition helps to keep me sharp, but is it really a value I want to display and possibly have my own children emulate?

I don't know the answer.  I am asking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bubba's 1st 5k

After Katie and I ran in the Kirby Derby last year, our son said that next year he wanted to run the 5k.  I was a little leery of the idea.  I didn't know if he understood the commitment that it would take to run that far.  We suggested that he could run part of the race with us and he said, "No, I want to run the whole thing."  We told him that it would require a lot of work and effort; that he would have to train to run that far.  And over the entire Fall and into this Spring he has stuck with the training, running several training runs and calculating his total miles.  A couple of times, on really hot days or lengthy runs, he would really struggle and I began to wonder if it was healthy to have a 6 year old running 3.1 miles.  But he stuck with the training and often talked the race.  Finally last Saturday, Bubba ran his very first 5k!

We had t-shirts made for the event.  the whole family was going to participate in support of Bubba.

 You can see that he was really excited, to have his own shirt, his own number, and to be racing his very first 5k!

There was quite a crowd at the starting line.  The race had a record 770 participants in the 5and 10K races.

All sorts of family and friends came out to cheer Bubba on in his race. 

The grandparents...

The Morrison's...

...and the Haas' (Ian was so proud that he ask his parents to help make a sign for Alaric!)

Bubba's first mile went so incredibly great!  he had never run a full mile without having to stop for a walking break, but not today!  We crossed the 1 mile marker at 12:35!!!  Bubba was flying and he even ran a little further to the first water station before taking his first break.  We walked for a couple of blocks and were back to running.  By the time we reached the high school he was asking for another break.  We had worked out an agreement that every time we stopped for a break we would establish 3 distance goals before we would stop.  he cleared his three goals and we began to walk again.  We were still making great time.

Then bubba asked if he could use the restrooms.  Because there were no toilets on the route we told him he was going to have to try and hold it.  We realized that we would be running right by a public park that had a restroom and he could stop and go there.  A couple of blocks up, Bubba and I ran to the restroom at Nick's Park.  I told him to use the toilet and while I was there I would use he urinal.  Bubba put the seat down on the toilet and I asked "What are you doing?"  "I have to poop!" he exclaims.  Is this kid just like his father or what?!

Bubba finished his business and we were back on the road.  Bubba kept pushing hard but you could see he was starting to wear out.  We took another couple of breaks and headed for the homestretch.  As soon as we started running Bubba saw his karate Sensai on the roadside cheering him on.  It gave Bubba an extra pep in his stride. 
Finally we turned the corner to the finish and Alaric turned on the afterburners and cruised over the line!

He finished in 46:32; just a shade over 15 minute per mile.  Considering that we had to stop for several minutes during the bathroom break, I am certain that he ran much faster than that!

Here he is with his finisher's medal!  He was very proud and we could not have been prouder for him!  Good work, Bubba! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cat and Mouse

After pushing pretty hard for the Marathon Relay and keeping with a tough week of workouts following, my 12 mile training run on Saturday was very physically taxing.  So, when I left for my lunch time run on Monday, I thought I would take it pretty easy and treat it like more of a recovery run.  When I started the run my legs were still tight, but the quickly began to loosen up in the first quarter mile or so. 

Right about that same time another runner, a female, entered onto my route.  Every time I come across another runner, I spend a significant amount of time evaluating their form and pace.  I also take note of what they are wearing as far as clothes and gear, i.e. HR monitor, GPS, iPod, etc.  There was nothing extraordinary about this particular runner, white shirt (non-tech), orange running shorts, no watch.  Her form was good, but she didn't "look" like a runner.  She was short, medium build.  The most critical thing that I noticed was that her pace was faster than mine!  I tried not to worry about it.

"You're not racing, Brian.  You are recovering."

"So what if it's a girl.  There are plenty of girls out there that are faster than you."

"Stick to the plan."

As she began to pull away, I could actually feel my pride draining away.  My shoulders hung and my head dropped.

"It doesn't matter.  You are not racing.  You're just out for a nice, easy run."

By the time she got a full block and a half ahead of me, I was taking stock.  I was a half mile into a 3 mile run.  My legs had loosened up, and my lungs felt great.

"Fuck it.  Let's race."

I opened it up right away, and within 2 more blocks I was within striking distance.  Then, unfortunately for her, she got caught up at a red light.  As she waited for the walk sign, I am pretty sure she turned and saw that I was coming, but if she did she gave no real indication of taking notice.  I was within 30 feet of her when she was finally able to cross the street.  Not having to break my own stride, I made up the ground quickly.

The dilemma of passing was a real threat now.  I could pace behind her a few feet, but I always feel a little "stalker-ish" when I do that to a anyone, let alone a woman.  I could pass her, but sometimes I feel a little "dick-ish" when I do that in a non-race format.  Then I considered that I had just spent the last half mile "racing" this girl down Lincoln Ave., and I decided that I would go ahead and pass.

I pulled to the left and began to make my move.  As soon as I reach her blind spot, she gave a little glance over her shoulder and she took off!

"Oh, I see we have another competetor on our hands!  That's fine."

I tucked back in behind her, encouraged by this little match of wits.  I stayed a couple more feet behind her and looked for my next opportunity.  As we approached the next stoplight, I saw my break.  having run this route 3 times a week for the last several weeks, I have become familiar with the timing of the lights and traffic.  I knew that the walk sign would be on just as we were to get to the crosswalk.  So, she probably slowed a little out of concern for her safety, and I opened it up again, veered to the left, and passed her a couple of feet before entering the street.  I know its petty and I know that I took advantage of 2 stoplights to catch her, but a little smile came across my face as soon as I passed her.

Now, I don't know if she stayed straight, turned left/right, or stopped completely because as I turned right and headed down Kirby, I told myself to never look back.  The last thing that I wanted this girl to know, if she did go the same way as me, was that I was racing her and I was deeply concerned about her turning around and passing me!

When I finally reached 4th Street, I glanced back and the girl was nowher to be found.  She probably stayed straight at Kirby and headed out to Windsor for a long ass run, but what I would like to think is that she was so awed by my superior racing abilites during our little cat and mouse that she no longer wanted to run on the same path as me. 

Is it any wonder why I run by myself most days?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Illinois Marathon Relay 2012

 Once again, I participated in this year's Illinois Marathon Relay.  Originally, we had tried to bully my 18 year old cousin into running with Katie, my sister, and me.  Therefore, we came up wit the name Flatheads, an term of endearment for our grandpa.  When my cousin bowed out due to Senior obligations, we recruited or friend Lara to complete our team.

Lack of time and commitment to other obligations made training pretty tough for most of the team.  Katie probably prepared the most, but her feet have been giving her enough trouble that even the most prepared were having concerns.

I ran the first leg of the race and my whole goal was to do better than I did last year.  I had held back on a few recent runs just to be a little more fresh when it came to this race, but not enough to endanger my half marathon training for June.  As soon as the race stared I felt great.  The weather was cool and cloudy which turned out to be perfect weather for a really good race.  I started well back of the pack because our corral position was based on our predicted finish time, 4:20 or about 10 minutes/mile, but I run much faster than that and therefore got caught behind the crowd.  I did a few nifty maneuvers and managed to work my way through the crowd, while still maintaining a good pace.  As the mile ticked by I was running a pretty regular 7:30/mile.  I was feeling good and I was concerned that pace would not beat my lasts year's time.  So I picked it up a bit for the last couple of miles and finished my leg, 6.7 miles, in 50:01.  I felt like it was a great run.

I handed off to Lara,  who was joined by her husband Phil.  Lara had some concerns about her abilities to complete her leg, so Phil ran with her as moral and, if needed medical, support.  Lara ran past her parent's house where her son was cheering them on. Phil grabbed a hot dog.  Lara claims to have struggled a bit with a few aches and pains, but she completed her 6.9 mile leg in just about 1:10!  Right on schedule.  Note: Phil ambushed the remainder of the race with a couple of other friends!  No recent training to speak of and he ran about 20 miles on a whim!

Next came Katie.  She had the good fortune of running past her parent's house and they made a great sign for her and recruited the rest of the spectators to cheer her on as she passed!  A couple of miles later, Katie passed by her brother and nephew, who were out cheering her on.  There was also the offer of beer from a neighbor, which she bravely passed up.  Her feet held up great and she completed her 6.9 mile leg in about 1:11!  by this point we were ahead of our predicted time!

For the Final leg we handed it off to my sister, Anita, to bring us home!  Anita's job had kept her from thorough training, but she had recently completed the Shamrock Shuffle in preparation.  She was not nearly as nervous as last year, and her performance proved it.  She only stopped to walk one time on the only hill of the entire course, and met us at our designated meeting place right on schedule!  We all joined up and ran across the finish line in Memorial Stadium as a team.  We finished in 4:11:34.  We were 26th of 65 teams in our division and 97 of 202 overall relay teams.  I think we kicked ass!

We had a lot of support along the way.  Besides Katie's family on the course and Phil's assistance in the race, my parent's and our kids came to the stadium to cheer us on.
Anita's friend Betsy was also huge support!  She ran the half marathon in the race, lined up with me at the start, and came back out to join our triumphant run across the finish line!  i am trying to get Betsy to be my marathon partner for next year, but she seems a bit hesitant. And let's face it, I am pretty hesitant myself!

In my typical fashion, I attempted to incorporate alcohol into the event.  You can see from our shirts that the intent was there.

Mission completed!