The Final Countdown

May 5, 2011

As the clock ticks toward race time, and with only hours remaining in the contest to predict our finishing times, here are a handful of thoughts regarding Saturday.

First, I’m flattered that so many have predicted a sub-2:00 finish for my half marathon. I certainly hope to deliver. Realistically, this is still in the “wait and see” category for me, although – believe me – I’m going for it! Roughly seven weeks ago, I ran a 15K race at a pace of over eleven minutes per mile. On Saturday, I hope to run two minutes per mile faster for nearly four additional miles.

Curiously, I’ve run eleven previous half marathons, and my slowest and fastest times were both in my first two races. For my first half marathon, I ran nearly 2:25. In my second half marathon, roughly six or seven weeks later, I finished a little faster than 1:58. That was nearly six years ago.

Since running the 15K just under seven weeks ago, I’ve completed five long runs of two hours or longer – three 2-hour runs, and two 2.5-hour runs. From an endurance standpoint, I feel pretty confident I can cover 13.1 miles. Speed is the question mark. At the pace I ran the 15K, I would complete the half marathon in less than two and a half hours.

The half marathon and full marathon start at the same time and share the route for the first eleven miles. Ben can definitely keep up the necessary 9:09/mile pace through eleven miles. I hope I can stay with him the entire time. If not, strategy gets interesting. Does Ben surge ahead to make up minutes for me? Does he stay behind to pace me? What if I prove to be faster than expected, and Ben struggles to keep up with me? (That nearly happened during the Air Force Marathon – see the video on the home page.)

I just checked the weather forecast, and it wasn’t my favorite. The start of the race looks to be around 49°F with a 50% chance of rain. The temperature isn’t awful, although a few degrees warmer would be nice. The rain is a bummer, but when I coached track, I always prepared my teams to get psyched up for the rain. Guess I’d better be prepared to take my own advice on Saturday…

One final, random thought. I realized today that Saturday is the day of the Kentucky Derby. Somehow, as a Clydesdale, this makes me happy.

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Prediction Considerations

April 30, 2011

With the race less than a week away, I’d like to give everyone some things to think about to make the best possible prediction you can (on the fun page) to win a prize.

Things that will speed me up on race day:
My weight. When I ran fifty miles last fall, I weighed in at about 170 pounds. Right now, I’m closer to 165. It doesn’t seem like much, but if I have five less pounds to carry for 26.2 miles, it can significantly improve my time.

Things that will slow me down on race day:
My wardrobe. While we didn’t quite meet our pledge goal, it is likely that I will still wear some cheese-themed clothing. In addition to the cape, I may once again wear the cheese cowboy hat to add a little extra to my outfit. Both of these could increase the drag factor and slow me down a bit.

Things that might or might not help on race day:
The weather. I’m hoping for temperatures in the low to mid 50s for the best possible race conditions. Warmer than that, and the cheese cowboy hat may become uncomfortable. Warmer temperatures also means increased fluid intake, and my body has to work harder to keep up the same pace. If it’s too cold, extra layers could slow me down. Rain could also slow me down, but if it’s a gentle downpour, it can actually help keep me from overheating.

All things considered, I am confident that I can break four hours, but I’m not sure by how much. Good luck with your prediction!

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Long Runs and Taxes

April 18, 2011

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin philosophized that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In 2011, the United States put off Tax Day until April 18, straying from the typical date of April 15. The reasons had to do with Emancipation Day and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) not wanting to give up their weekend. While the date may have changed this year, even after holidays and weekends, Tax Day still happened.

For distance runners, this is certain: You can survive cheating on various parts of your training, but if you shortchange yourself on long runs, you’re in trouble. That’s perhaps not as pithy as what Ben Franklin said, and probably no one will still be quoting it 222 years from now, but it’s true.

Long runs, which help runners build toward the distance they’ll run on Race Day, are once-a-week transactions – unless you’re training for a 50-miler or something. Runners tend to save these runs for weekends, partly because, well…they take awhile. They’re also mentally taxing, as long runs don’t come with the adrenaline rush and the support that accompany Race Day. The long run about three weeks before Race Day is particularly important, especially in training for a full 26.2-mile race. Marathoners typically run their 20-milers three weeks out, then scale back mileage until Race Day.

We’re inside of three weeks now. On Saturday, I planned to get in 12-15 miles as a half marathon training run, but it rained all day. I toyed with waiting a couple days until the rain cleared. After all, the IRS sometimes takes key weekends off and still gets back to business on Monday – didn’t seem like such a bad plan.

Then I realized it was April 16, and I hadn’t completed my state or local taxes. I still had two days to spare, but I got right to work. As the day slipped away, I fulfilled my duties to Uncle Sam and his state and local cousins. Had I owed taxes to my specific block or street, I eagerly would have gotten right to work on those. By late afternoon, I was a little sad to have run out of unfinished tax forms. Turns out, doing taxes can be a lot more enticing than a three-weeks-out long run.

Rain continued to fall. An outdoor run wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately, though, my city has a couple of indoor running tracks. I already helped pay for them. With late afternoon fading into early evening, I figured I might as well pay one of them a two-and-a-half hour visit.

As for Ben Franklin? He missed his long run and won’t be racing in Wisconsin on May 7.

Happy Tax Day!

If you haven’t yet entered the contest to predict Ben’s and David’s race times, click here to do it now. It’s free, and it’s way more fun than doing taxes!

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Not what you expected?

April 14, 2011

If you had presented the following facts to me a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have guessed the nation they describe:

  • Among developed nations, she has one of the highest rates of relative poverty, according to reports released just a few years ago.
  • One in six of her people live below the poverty line. That’s 19 million people, according to a January 2010 report.
  • She’s the most indebted of all industrialized nations, according to an article that came out just this month.

If you picked Japan, you either knew that the answer had to relate to our fundraising efforts, or you’ve been paying way more attention to the world’s geopolitics than I have. (Yes, Japan is the correct answer.)

When I think of Japan, I think of a technologically-advanced, industrial powerhouse. I think of cars, electronics, cities glowing with neon lights. I think of some of the world’s brightest, most honorable businesspeople, dressed in suits and working long hours.

I don’t think of poverty.

When I took a few minutes to think about it, the reality of poverty in Japan made sense to me. The gross domestic product (GDP) of a nation cannot protect all of her citizens from poverty.

Then, as I thought more about Japan, I realized that if my life had just been rocked by one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, I’d want people’s first reaction to be, “How can I help?” not, “How well off were you before this happened?”

You can read about GHNI’s efforts to help in Japan by clicking here. To add your pledge to our fundraising efforts, click here.

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Why partner with GHNI?

April 8, 2011

Some of you may be curious why we decided to team up with Global Hope Network International (GHNI) this spring. David first became familiar with GHNI in 2003, when a college friend of his and Ben’s completed an internship with the organization. That same year, through David’s work internationally, he met GHNI’s founder.

Fast forward to 2010. David visited Haiti, where he saw the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, and he visited southern Africa, where he encountered extensive poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. These experiences, along with a graduate-level study abroad project, caused David to think deeply about how to bring lasting help to troubled parts of the world.

Global Hope Network International uses an approach called Transformational Community Development (TCD). An impressive aspect of GHNI’s approach is their commitment to empowering people to solve problems locally. Funds raised for GHNI help people around the world to get back on their feet again, rather than moving people toward dependency on outside help. It’s the difference between giving a person a fish, and teaching a person to fish.

We’re excited about the work GHNI is doing! We hope you’ll check them out and give some thought to how you’ll get involved!

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A New Endeavor – Running for Hope

April 5, 2011

I am excited to announce that I am joining forces with my good friend, David, to raise money for a worthy cause.  We are in the midst of training for the Wisconsin Marathon and Half Marathon in Kenosha on May 7, 2011.  We have set somewhat aggressive goals.  I am hoping to finish the full marathon in four hours, and David’s goal is a two-hour finish in the half marathon.

The cause is Global Hope Network International, an organization dedicated to ‘bringing help and hope to the hidden and hurting’.  They are involved in disaster relief efforts in two key areas.

Japan – GHNI is providing food and more for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami which rocked Japan on March 11th.

Egypt – GHNI is delivering aid to starving families in Egypt, many of whom are refugees from Libya.

Please prayerfully consider making a pledge.  Thanks for your support!

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Race Videos

December 30, 2010

A big thanks to my brother, Andrew, who filmed me on race day and put together two great videos.  First watch the trailer, then watch the full movie!

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr1n7wCaq3U

Full Movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnpqPrh4Nj4

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I did it!

November 11, 2010

What an amazing day. Please check out my running blog for the complete recap of the race. I am also overjoyed that my efforts raised over $2,200 for Compassion International. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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The Final Week

October 18, 2010

The final week of preparation is here!  I ran four miles this morning (Monday).  I’ll run three more tomorrow.  After complete rest on both Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll run two very easy miles on Friday to ensure all systems are go for the race on Saturday.  The toughest days of training seem long ago, but I will be able to run with confidence.

I am also focusing on Team RunningHungry to make sure every team member, both relay and support crew, has what they need.  Whatever happens, it’s going to be a fun day in Door County!

Fundraising Update:  I’m at $1,295, and I’m hoping to reach $1,500 by race day.  Thanks for your support!

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Tapering Phase

October 8, 2010

With about two weeks to go before the race, I am now in the tapering phase, gradually reducing the distance of my training runs to build stamina for race day. I am feeling very confident that things will go well, as I have successfully completed the main phase of training. Be sure to check out this post on my running blog for more details on the busiest weekend of training.

In other news, the relay team is full, and I will be making updates to the Meet the Team page over the next several days.

The excitement is building.  Thanks to everyone who has pledged support to Compassion International!

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