Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NYC Marathon Contemplates Shift to Run/Swim/Run/Swim Format (w/fake photos!)

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast earlier this week with wind and 6+ inches of rain, directors of the New York City (NYC) Marathon are rumored to be contemplating a run/swim/run/swim format for the race scheduled for this Sunday, November 4th. The new format would have runners swimming ~1000 yards at mile 4 in Brooklyn, as well as at mile 25 at 59th street near the finish.

(30 foot waves crash on the Statue of Liberty on Monday...one of many fake photos to hit Twitter this weekend)
Ha, ha...all kidding aside, I hope all of our east coast bretheren are hanging in there. The NYC Marathon is still scheduled to be run this Sunday, and major props go to NYPD, NYFD, and the many volunteers for keeping the show on track. As much as I would love to show my support, I'm  finding it impossible to get out there now that my original flights were all cancelled, so I'm going to have to pass this year.

For those who can make it to the race, good luck! For those who can't, the cancellation policy has been extended to Saturday, 11/3*, which allows you a guaranteed entry for 2013 (you will have to pay again though). Be sure to add some extra time to get around since...

...it could be tough to get a cab...

...crowds may not be as big in Brooklyn this year...

...intersections could be tough to navigate...

...and the subways are seeing some high water levels (yowza!)...

...once the hurricane hits the peak, it's going to be crazy!

* Runners can cancel by email to reghelp@nyrr.org until 11:59 p.m. Saturday or by mail to Marathon Cancellations, New York Road Runners, 9 East 89th St., New York, NY 10128 with a postmark of Saturday or earlier. Include in your cancellation notification your entry number, name, address, date of birth and the words "cancel my entry." Those who cancel due to weather will be guaranteed entry into the 2013 race, but their 2012 entry fee will not be refunded and they will have to pay the fee again in 2013. Entrants who applied through an official charity partner must contact the charity directly to cancel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome Surprises

There are things known, and things unknown. And in between are The Doors." - Jim Morrison

Forced transition. Sudden metamorphosis. Expedited evolution. Accelerated transitional states. Welcome ambiguity. Unexpected rebirth. The inflection points in our lives that, while in the moment, feel like gravity itself has abandoned its rules, and only in retrospect do we realize these are the turning points that shape the core of our being. Can we appreciate these moments devoid of compass or destination? Can we realize that within the stranglehold of numbing shock and anxiety lies the foundational serenity to reflect, deconstruct, embrace, and explore? The Phoenix dies only to rise again, no? And most importantly, can I finally devote the training time to knock off that marathon PR?

In case you haven't picked up on this...I have recently become unemployed again. ;-)

On the spectrum of "YES, FUNemployment! Let's go run every day!" to "Sorry, kids, it's Saltines and ketchup tomato soup for dinner again", I am (gratefully) on the former end of the spectrum this time. But unemployment carves an undeniable hole in your self-worth, no matter how it comes, or how welcome it is received. I always find it fascinating to see how trail running (and other parts of my life) try to fill that hole, and what I can learn about myself by acknowledging the patterns.

I found trail running in 2001, soon after my first bout of unemployment. I was burnt out from the Silicon Valley fast track, lacking life balance, and Mother Nature was happy to provide me with miles of ever-changing terrain to regain my footing. Trail running replenished my soul through hours of exploring, finding my place in nature, and bonding with my dog. I had to find my footing again before climbing the career ladder.

I got back into a new company, but one that struggled to find its way, and it ended in 2005 with some of my peers faulting my performance for not getting the company back on track. Holy crap, do I suck? Ah, the gravel-toned voice of self-doubt. Once again, the trails provided a remedy, but this time through races. Start, finish, all that matters is who is fastest on the day. It was wonderful to have a contest so simple that one could not deny or question the results. I had some good races, some great personal performances, and a supportive group of peers doing the same. I didn't need a job, title, or respect of work peers to acknowledge my worth...I could find fulfilling adventure on any given Saturday.

Soon after, I would be looking to trail running to be the constant in my life rather than a source of boundary stretching. I founded a company early on in the mobile industry, and it turned out to be a career roller coaster of epic proportions. The crazier it got at work (or at home for that matter with kid #1, Sophie Jane), the more I looked to trail running for some consistency. Rain or shine, I could find the same group of humble warriors willing to run a course they had done dozens of times before, if only just to have one more set of great stories to share. Ah, the relief I would feel to know each adventure would start, end, and we could celebrate our achievement! It was my source of perpetual bliss.

My next visit to Unemploymentland came just as kid #2, Quinn, arrived at the scene and forced Christi and I to get some MAD scheduling skills. Once again, trail running was there to help. I could no longer assume long runs would happen on the weekend, or jump into a race the day before since we had "nothing on the schedule". There was ALWAYS something on the schedule, and if it wasn't running, then running wasn't going to happen. When I only had small blocks to train, I wanted to make the most of it and actually train. Guess what? It turns out you get faster. And it feels good to push your potential, both in training and in races. Once again, trail running provided immediate feedback and satisfaction in the whirlwind of life.

So what now? How will trail running help me at this juncture? I guess we will have to wait and see. NYC Marathon is coming up, but it's a bit too close to think about PR's. I am lucky to have my girls as an outlet (cross-training?), and the opportunity to feed my curiosity by working with some very smart people on some amazing technology projects. I guess I'll just find the right pace, enjoy the ride, and see where it takes me.

Hmmm...maybe Mother Nature is already helping out... ;-)

Hope to see y'all on the trails, especially around 11am on a random weekday!

- SD

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pete Jacobs, Leanda Cave Win 2012 Ironman World Championship

Australia's Pete Jacobs improved his 2nd place finish in 2011 by one critical place at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, HI, and won the 2012 Ironman World Championships in 8:18:37. The 31-year-old braved unusually tough winds on the bike to head into T2 in 2nd place, 8 1/2 minutes behind Belgium's Marino Vanhoenacker, and ran Marino down around mile 10 to claim the $120,000 prize and keep Australia's 6-win streak alive. Germany's Andreas Realert took second five minutes back.

In the women's race, Great Britain's Leanda Cave pulled away in the last 3 miles of the run to win her second world title of the year. The 34-year-old Cave won the Ironman 70.3 world championship last month and carried that momentum into Kona, finishing in 9:15:54. A strong pack of females, including four 2012 IRONMAN Champions, charged along the 112-mile bike course of the Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway as Cave, Caroline Steffen and Mary Beth Ellis pulled away and headed into T2 with the lead. After Steffen set the lead pace for much of the run, the race would turn into a close battle when, in the final 5k, Cave made her pass for the win. With the victory, Cave became the second person in IRONMAN history, and first female, to win the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3 and IRONMAN World Championship in the same year. Great Britain has held on to the women's IRONMAN World Championship title the last five out of six races. 

Age groupers also tore it up on Sunday, with Christian Muller in the 40-44 category broke the take in a sizzling 08:54:17 to post the fastest age-group result of the day. There were 20 finishers in the male 70-74 age-group (outstanding!), and Milos Kostic won the category when he blazed across the finish line in a stunning time of 12:15:41 that many triathletes half his age would die for. The oldest female finisher was Harriet Anderson in the 75-79 category who just beat the 17-hour cut-off with a time of 16:59:19 in a truly inspirational performance. There were three male triathletes in the 80+ category who completed the 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 marathon well within the 17-hour deadline with 20+ finisher Lew Hollander taking the title of oldest finisher at 82-years-old. (all results)

Top five professional men:
1. Pete Jacobs
2. Andreas Raelert 
3. Frederik Van Lierde 
4. Sebastian Kienle 
5. Faris Al-Sultan 

Top five professional women:
1. Leanda Cave 
2. Caroline Steffen 
3. Mirinda Carfrae 
4. Sonja Tajsich 
5. Mary Beth Ellis 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Men Find Running Easier When Women Watch, Study Finds

In a study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, men reported a lower perceived effort when they were being watched by women. Now I know why my fastest mile at the Boston Marathon is through the Wellesley Scream Tunnel!

(Cruising the Scream Tunnel!)
As Runner's World summarized, British researchers had 10 male runners do moderately paced 20-minute runs under three conditions: with no one watching; with a woman appearing after 10 minutes to watch; and with a man appearing after 10 minutes to watch. Then the runners were asked to rate their perceived effort during the three runs, which were all at the same pace. When they knew they were being watched by a woman, the men rated their perceived effort at that pace as lower than when they weren't being watched; that is, running felt easier. When they knew they were being watched another man, the runners' perceived effort went up.

The study might have different results in, say, a 5k through the Castro in San Francisco. But I'm thinking a 5k through UCLA sorority row may be my best bet for a PR. ;-)

BTW, for those who didn't see, the Boston Marathon filled on 10/11. RW said, "With qualifying times for the 2013 race five minutes faster than for this year's marathon, registration lasted two and a half weeks longer than for the 2012 race. About 19,000 of the approximately 21,600 qualifier spots were filled in the first two weeks of registration; last year, registration for qualifiers was over after two weeks. With the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October full of popular marathons, it was expected that registration would close before this coming weekend."

Monday, October 08, 2012

Latest Product Obsession - Frontier Bites (YUM!)

Few things excite me more than trying a new product and having it naturally working its way into regular training and racing rotation. This is especially true for any snacks/foods that can break the monotony of gels and mixes (dentist be damned). If you can be on a long run/ride and be looking forward to eating, you are WAY ahead of the game.

My latest product obsession is Frontier Bites - a crispy, all-natural snack from the newly created Frontier Snacks in Mountain View, CA. I first tried them at the Tour de Menlo century ride, where owner Matt Oscamou was happy to chat about how his new product came about. His dilemma sounded familiar - how to create an all-natural, gluten free, dairy free snack that tasted great, had some protein for long efforts, but was still lightweight and easy to pack. His creation, Frontier Bites, absolutely nailed it.

With flavors like pecan/cherry/cinnamon (my favorite), almond/blueberry/lemon, and macadamia/pineapple/coconut, each bite has a nice mix of nuts, puffed rice, and zest to get your mouth feeling like it's eating something hearty. I can easily ingest a whole pack and stay at race pace without any stomach distress, and a small handful has a whopping ~110 calories. Best of all, they weigh NOTHING. Easily the lightest snack I have ever packed.

I brought along a couple of their variety packs to the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, where both their lightness and taste made them a favorite through the night climbs. I now keep a bulk pack near my shoe rack for a post-race recovery snack too. My daughters, Sophie Jane (6) and Quinn (1.5), steal them all the time, but I don't mind. It's much better than when they break into caffeinated Shot Blox, which results in freak sprinting, grand mal meltdowns, and a half dozen diaper changes. ;-)

You can buy Frontier Bites at their web site, www.frontiersnacks.com. I would highly suggest the variety pack to start!

Happy Fall training everyone!

- SD