Author Archives: TheRunningJones

A Rainy Thursday in my Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex® Active Jacket

This past Thursday morning, there was a chance of rain.  Natalie, Mark, and I met at 5:30 AM and began our 10-mile run with our headlamps cutting through a light mist along the dark and chilly Chester Valley Trail.   That chance of rain reached 100% during the last two miles of our run, and it came down hard.

I was glad I had worn my Gore Running Wear® Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex® Active Jacket over my X-Running Zip Shirt Long® and X-Running 2.0 Shorts® as the skies opened up during those final miles.  This combination of Gore Running Wear® products from the Mythos and X-Running collections was perfect for the weather conditions.

Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket

Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket

After the run I sat in my car nice and dry.  This was a big difference from my normal cold, wet, clammy, ride home after running in the rain.  You can see the rain outside the window in the picture below.  Aside from a few nicely beaded droplets on my shoulder, I don’t look very wet do I?

Me in my Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket

Me in my Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket

Since my visit to W. L. Gore plants in Delaware and Maryland last month with fellow run bloggers Jason and Kate (http://therunningjones.com/?p=255), I’ve been running in Gore Running Wear® every day I go out for a run, which is usually five days per week.

Gore provided the Gore Running Wear® products for us to try out as we train for the Gore-Tex® Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon as members of Team Gore-Tex® and Team Gore Running Wear®.  I like Gore Running Wear® so much, it has become my new running wardrobe.

During our plant visit, Gore Associate Cindy demonstrated the design features and fabrics used in the various Gore Running Wear® collections.  Later in the day, Gore Associate Louise gave us a first-hand tour of Gore’s rain room, a test facility that delivers up to 22″ of rain per hour to test the waterproof performance of Gore products.  We suited up in our Gore-Tex® and went into the rain room where we stayed dry under a 3″ per hour downpour:

All Gore Running Wear® products go through a rigorous testing process that includes controlled tests like the rain room as well as extensive testing by actual users out in the real world.

My Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex® Active Jacket performed as advertised: breathable and waterproof, and with so many reflective details Mark said he needed sunglasses as the beam from his headlamp reflected off my jacket.  The Mythos collection is designed for the ambitious urban runner and the Mythos high-visibility reflective features are exactly what every urban runner needs for early-morning high-traffic road crossings in the dark, of which there are many on the Chester Valley Trail in the pre-dawn hours.

The X-Running Zip Shirt Long® and X-Running 2.0 Shorts® were extremely comfortable and both felt like a very sheer second skin.  The tights inside the shorts provide compression and there is a great zipper pocket on the back of the shorts that was a perfect fit for my iPhone.

X-Running Zip Shirt Long

X-Running Zip Shirt Long

X-Running 2.0 Shorts

X-Running 2.0 Shorts

That’s been a common theme with all the Gore Running Wear® products – plenty of storage and pockets.  I have not needed my trusty waist belt since switching to the Gore products.  There are pockets for keys, phones, energy packs, and plenty of other stuff.  The picture below shows the zipper pocket where I stashed my iPhone.

X-Running 2.0 Shorts - Rear

X-Running 2.0 Shorts – Rear

There is also a lot of attention to detail.  The seams are strong but seemingly seamless and the zippers are high-quality and low-profile.  There are “zipper garages” to house the zippers under a fabric flap and zippers are never “stacked.”  What this means is that you don’t notice that there are any zippers at all.

The best feature for me is that the Gore Running Wear® products I’ve tried so far have been light and breathable and remain dry under conditions where other technical fabrics would get saturated with sweat.  I was surprised that many of the items in the Gore Running Wear® catalog can be used all year long under all weather conditions.

The Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex® Active Jacket is super light and will be my go-to rain jacket for all seasons.  The Gore-Tex® Active fabric technology is designed for extreme breathability in highly aerobic activities and can be found in the Mythos, Air, Essential, and X-Running collections.

Look for more posts on the other Gore Running Wear® products as I continue to train for the Gore-Tex® Philadelphia Half Marathon on 23 November.

 

These are not your Father’s GORE-TEX® Running Shoes!

GORE-TEX® has been in running shoes since the 1970s, but the current generation of GTX® shoes are not your Father’s GORE-TEX® running shoes.  Heck, they’re not even your older cousin’s GORE-TEX® running shoes!  Today’s GORE-TEX® running shoes are light and flexible, provide climate-controlled running comfort under all weather conditions, and are offered in customized designs in some of the most popular running brands and styles including the Saucony Ride, Brooks Ghost, Brooks Adrenaline, ASICS Cumulus, ASICS GT 1000, and Saucony Xodus.  I learned this and a lot more during my recent trip to W. L. Gore and Associates with fellow Run Bloggers Jason and Kate.

The three of us are members of Team GORE-TEX® and Team Gore Running Wear® for the upcoming GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon.  Gore Associate Cynthia hosted us for our visit to W. L. Gore plants in Delaware and Maryland last Friday to learn firsthand about the Gore Running products we’re using to train for the race.

Gore Associate Brandon, Me, Gore Associate Cynthia, Jason, & Kate

Gore Associate Brandon, Me, Gore Associate Cynthia, Jason, & Kate

It was an amazing day and I’m excited to tell you about it.  I’ll talk about GORE-TEX® shoes in this post and I’ll cover Gore Running Wear® in later posts.  Our first stop was the Elk Creek Plant where Gore Associate Kirk showed us how GORE-TEX® is designed into running shoes.  I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about GORE-TEX®.

Gore Associate Kirk Christensen

Gore Associate Kirk

Did You Know How GORE-TEX® Technology Actually Works and Why it is Unique?

GORE-TEX® is unique because it does not allow liquid water to penetrate, but it allows water vapor to escape.  How does GORE-TEX® pull off this magic trick?  The GORE-TEX® membrane has over nine billion pores per square inch.  The pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, but 700 times larger than a water vapor molecule.  This means that GORE-TEX® running shoes can be designed to push out as much sweat and heat as possible while still providing 100% guaranteed waterproof protection.  GORE-TEX® is unique because it is breathable, yet remains impenetrable by water.

I was surprised when I ran through wet grass in my new Saucony Ride 7 GTX® shoes; I did not get the wet saturated-sock feeling I’m used to after a few strides through thick wet grass.  The grass was very wet, and I saw the water drops on my shoes, but my feet stayed completely dry.  I’m looking forward to running in the rain with these shoes.

Wet Grass, Dry Feet

Wet Grass, Dry Feet

Keeping water out is only half the battle in controlling the micro-climate around our feet.  We were all amazed when we learned exactly how much our feet sweat when we’re running.  Each foot can produce 250 milliliters of sweat during a full day of running.  That means that during a four-hour marathon, our feet alone can produce over eight ounces of sweat!  The unique breathable GORE-TEX® membrane allows our feet to breathe, preventing them from getting too hot, while letting the sweat vapor escape.

GORE-TEX® is in Many of the Most Popular Running Shoe Models

I was impressed by the wide selection of top shoe models that offer a GORE-TEX® option (they have GTX® in the shoe’s name).  The current crop of running shoe brands with GORE-TEX® includes Asics, Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, inov-8, La Sportiva, Salomon, Scott, and The North Face.  Most of these shoemakers offer multiple GTX® models and there are choices in the neutral, stability, and trail running categories.  Check them out at:

www.gore-tex.com/products/footwear/running

Saucony Ride 7 GTX

Saucony Ride 7 GTX

GORE-TEX® Running Shoes are Light and Flexible

The new GORE-TEX® running shoes are lightweight and flexible and still provide the maximum protection we expect from GORE-TEX®.  I had no idea that the addition of GORE-TEX® adds less than an ounce to a shoe.  The picture below shows the GORE-TEX® liner in the Saucony Ride 7 GTX® shoes I’m running in now.  The inside of the shoes are soft and flexible, provide a glove-like feel, and keep my feet nice and dry.

GORE-TEX Inside

GORE-TEX Inside

GORE-TEX® Running Shoes are Custom-Designed for each Application

Kirk explained how Gore works with shoe manufacturers to customize the integration of GORE-TEX® into each shoe’s unique design.  Gore works in collaboration with the shoe companies to ensure that every aspect of making a shoe waterproof is taken into account.  Gore specifies how seams must be sealed, and they require that the laces and threads used in a GORE-TEX® shoe do not wick moisture into the shoe.

One of the most interesting parts of our visit was our trip to the Gore Shoe Lab where we saw how prototype shoes are flex-tested to prove out each new shoe’s design.  Gore Associate Donna is demonstrating the Mechanical Boot Flex Test in the picture below:

Gore Associate Donna Purner

Gore Associate Donna

In this test, shoes are placed on electronically-instrumented foot forms that each contain a dozen sensors to detect leakage into the shoe.  The shoe is immersed in water and flexed repeatedly for up to 200,000 times.  Any leak is immediately detected.  If the shoe leaks, the shoe manufacturer must modify the design and then resubmit the shoe for further testing.  Here’s a video of the test:

To demonstrate how the sensors work, Donna simulated a failure.  Sure enough, the sensor display turned red as you can see in the picture below:

Mechanical Boot Flex Test Simulated Failure

Mechanical Boot Flex Test Simulated Failure

This test ensures that each custom GORE-TEX® shoe design is waterproof and stays that way for the lifetime of the shoe.

All GORE-TEX® Shoes Require the Same Standard Factory Testing from Every Shoe Manufacturer

Once a GORE-TEX® Running Shoe is in production, Gore requires manufacturers to test shoes at the factory using patented Gore test equipment.  The Leak Test Machine is used to test 100% of GORE-TEX® Booties before they are installed in shoes.  The Centrifuge Test is performed on selected samples of finished shoes during production.  During this test, shoes are filled with water and then spun at 30g to check for leaks.

Factory Tests

GORE Doesn’t Make the Shoe but they Still Guarantee the Shoe

You heard it right.  They guarantee other companies’ products.  It goes back to Gore’s commitment to “fitness-for-use.”  Every Gore associate we met during our visit spoke about fitness-for-use.  Gore is not satisfied just to sell a material.  They do not consider a job completed until the end-user is 100% satisfied with the product, even if Gore only provides an ingredient in that product.  And they have been backing up that commitment with their GORE-TEX® “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise since 1989.

The Perfect End to a Great Day

Near the end of the day we stopped at the W. L. Gore Retail Store at the Barksdale Site and checked out all of the cool GORE-TEX® products.  That’s when I got my new pair of Saucony Ride 7 GTX® shoes and I’ve already taken them for a spin or two.  I’ll post again with a report on the shoes once I’ve logged a few miles in the rain.

My New Saucony Ride 7 GTX Shoes

My New Saucony Ride 7 GTX Shoes

We finished with a tour of the Gore Capabilities Center with Gore Associate Paul, who gave us an overview of Gore materials and products including cables, medical implants, guitar strings, filters, military fabrics, fire and safety fabrics, Gore Bike Wear®, and of course, Gore Running Wear®.  Gore products have even been to the moon.  It’s pretty cool to know that there’s over a half-century of science and innovation behind my GORE-TEX® running shoes and I’m looking forward to training and racing in them.

Gore Associate Paul Bielewicz, Kate, Me, & Jason

Gore Associate Paul, Kate, Me, & Jason

You can check out my Gore Running teammates at:

Jason Saltmarsh
http://saltmarshrunning.com/
@SaltyRuns

Kate McElroy
rowdyrunning.com
@rowdy406

Summer Running Recap!

My iPhone jolted me awake at four-thirty this morning.  It’s September now and the chill is in the air.  I got myself out of bed, tiptoed past running buddy Griffin’s cage (too early for him), brushed my teeth, downed an espresso, and made the fifteen minute drive to meet up with the five o’clock Friday morning running group at Wegmans.  It was great to be back after battling a pulled hamstring that finally required me to stop running completely for the past month.

Griffen

Griffin

There was a large group, around a dozen of us.  We ran over ten miles on the Chester Valley Trail, illuminated most of the way by LED headlamps, and I didn’t keep track of the time.  I’m guessing we were running somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00 minutes per mile.  The run went by quickly as I got a chance to catch up with everyone and hear about their summer races.

The conversations continued over coffee inside Wegmans a little after 6:30 and I shared some of my summer running-related escapades since completing the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon in Philadelphia back on June 14th.  Here are the highlights:

The Saucony Mile, June 20th

saucmile

The Saucony Mile, Elite Heat

My daughter and I went to watch the Saucony Mile at the Pottstown-Limerick airport.  The race was run straight down the single runway, around a turn, and then back up a taxiway to the finish.  There were multiple heats ranging from elite through age groups and kids.  It was great fun on a sunny summer Friday evening.  I took the above picture of the lead group in the elite race, which was won in a blazing time of 4:10!

Downingtown Good Neighbor Day 4th of July Races

This is a very popular community 4th of July event that lasts all day and into the night ending with a fireworks show.  I ran the 10K and won my age group.  My daughter ran the warm-up with me and then she snapped a great action pic at the start:

Downingtown Good Neighbor Day Races

Downingtown Good Neighbor Day Races

We had Wawa coffee after the race:

Wawa Coffee Time

Wawa Coffee Time

in24 Urban Ultra Midnight Madness 8.4 Mile Race, July 20th

Midnight Madness

Midnight Madness

The Midnight Madness 8.4 Mile Race was part of the Back on My Feet (BoMF) in24 Urban Ultra weekend of races, featuring the 24-hour ultra race as the centerpiece.  It was a different experience driving into Philadelphia late on a Saturday night for a road race.

As I approached the Spring Garden Street exit I could see the lights of Boathouse Row and I started to get pumped up for the race.  I parked near the Art Museum and headed toward the start.  There were runners dressed in glow-in-the-dark gear jogging and walking back and forth stowing their bright yellow swag bags in their cars and warming up.  A midnight running vibe is a cool thing to step into.

Midnight Madness Starting Line

Midnight Madness Starting Line

I had a great time and got a chance to meet BoMF Philly Executive Director Scott Crossin as he greeted runners at the finish line!

Ready to Run at the in24 Midnight Madness Race

Ready to Run at the in24 Midnight Madness Race

2014 Advanced Sports Chiropractic Runners’ Pentathlon, Presented by the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, August 10th

This truly unique race-among-races was contested at Germantown Academy’s Carey Stadium & Athletic Complex, Fort Washington, PA 19034.  The competition was open to all athletes 14-and-older.  The event was sanctioned by USA Track & Field, and officiated by certified USATF officials.

Runner's Pentathlon

Runner’s Pentathlon

More from the event website:

“Each runner competed in 5 track races (3000m – 200m – 1500m – 100m – 400m/800m), with a minimum of 30 minutes recovery time between races.  Athletes chose either the 400m or the 800m for their fifth event (400m and 800m heats alternated). With an equal mix of sprints and distance events (order as above), this challenging (but fun!) competition pitted sprinter against distance runner to determine the best all-around track runner. Scoring was age-graded using the World Masters Association’s 2006 age/gender-graded tables. Points were tabulated for each race (the age/gender-graded percentage), and awards were based on the cumulative percentages for the five races. This meet presented a rare opportunity for men and women, young and old, to compete directly against each other on a level playing field.  The 2014 individual winner was Nick Berra, who amassed 429.60 age graded points to win for the second consecutive year.”

My daughter and I volunteered to help run the race.  I worked behind the scenes entering scoring data into a computer and posting results while she worked at the finish line assisting with automated timing.  We had a great time and then went for a trail run after the meet was over!

It was toward the end of summer when my hamstring began to get worse and sidelined me for almost a month.  It’s great to be running again, but I made an adjustment and switched from the full marathon to the half for the upcoming GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon because there’s not enough time left to ramp up to the distance I would need for 26.2.  Can’t wait to toe the line for the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon!

Questions for you:

What races did you run over the summer?

What races do you have planned for this fall?

Good luck out there on the roads and trails!

 


 

Thank You Run SMART Project for getting me back into Marathon Shape!

New Year’s Day this year found me overweight and out of shape after nearly a decade of decline following a string of running injuries.  I ran 2:53:14 at the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2004 at age forty-five, but in January 2014 I couldn’t hold a twelve minute pace for a full six miles.Race Pic w caption

At fifty-four and not getting any younger, I decided to lose the weight and get back into shape.  I changed my diet and the pounds started to melt away.  But I didn’t have a training plan for running.  I was just jogging slowly every day with no real direction.  I knew I wanted to race again, but I thought it would take at least a year of easy “base-building” before I could think about racing, much less running a full marathon.

Then in late February I found out about The Run SMART Project via Twitter.  After I requested an invitation to try out their VDOT O2 App as a beta user, Run SMART Project founder Brian Rosetti sent me the invitation and offered to provide one of the custom Jack Daniels Marathon Training Plans for me to load into the VDOT O2 App.  I found a local marathon here in the Philadelphia area, the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon, and selected the Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan, which coincided with the June race date.  I was skeptical that I could complete a marathon that soon, but I was willing to give it a try.

Fast-forward five months:

On June 14 June 2014 after training with The Run SMART Project for 15 weeks I ran a 3:43:10 marathon in summertime conditions, several miles of it on rocky, muddy trails, and took second place in my age group.  Then a few days ago on July 4th I won my age group in a local 10K with a 44:11, an average of 7:07 per mile.  Here’s my VDOT O2 schedule from June and early July; the races are shown in red:RSP Screenshot 1

I still can’t believe I got into shape this quickly – The Run SMART Project turned me into a runner again and they did it fast!  I’ve won some nice prizes too:both awards

Here’s how I got started using VDOT O2 with my Jack Daniels training plan:

After receiving the link to the VDOT O2 App back in February, I logged-in and selected my Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan.  Then I was prompted to enter a variety of information on my running history, mileage per week, recent performances, preferred days for long runs and days off, and information on my goal race.  Brian customized my plan and loaded my complete training schedule into the VDOT O2 App including my goal race.  He sent me an email letting me know the plan was ready and I started running and logging the workouts.  Here’s my training schedule for April:April-Training-VDOT-O2

The VDOT O2 App was very cool.  Every workout was pre-loaded and it was easy to click-and-drag workouts from one day to the next when I had to travel for work.  The training paces were pre-determined based on my Daniels VDOT number.  All I had to do was the running.

There were two major differences between training with The Run SMART Project and what I was doing on my own:

First, each workout had a purpose. I was no longer running every day at roughly the same pace; I was running very specific paces and each workout had a specific training purpose. Here’s an example of a threshold workout I did to sharpen up for my marathon later that week:Threshold

Second, I worked harder and rested more. The plan was built around quality workouts that were tailored for my goal race. There was a progression of long runs culminating in a twenty-miler, but there was also a significant amount of threshold pace work, interval pace work, and marathon pace work. By running this variety of paces and intensities, and then taking two days off every week, I got faster in a shorter period of time by running smarter than I would have on my own.  The work at faster paces built my confidence too.

It was a huge kick when I entered my 10K time yesterday and the dialog box asked if I wanted the VDOT O2 App to update my VDOT and training paces based on the race time.  I selected “yes” and my VDOT jumped from 43.23 to 46.24 and the circle turned from gray to yellow, indicating I had moved to a new level.  All of my training paces were automatically adjusted to my new VDOT and my predicted race times are faster, which is a huge motivator.

Now I’m training for the Philadelphia Marathon and I plan to continue training with The Run SMART Project to reach my goal of getting back under three hours.  It might not happen this fall, but I feel more confident that it is achievable, and I know I can get another BQ whether I break three again or not.

Saying a few well-deserved good words here doesn’t come close to repaying The Run SMART Project for what they have done for my running, but I would be happy to share my experiences with anyone who is interested in trying out the VDOT O2 App and I still have a few invitations to send out for the beta version.  Just send me a Twitter DM with your email address and I’ll send an invitation.

Thanks Run SMART Project!

Tim Jones
therunningjones.com
@TheRunningJones

Race Report for the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon

“You will not be running a PR today,” said Stephan Weiss, Race director for the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Half and Full Marathon, at seven-thirty yesterday morning, Saturday, 14 June, 2014. He was addressing the runners just prior to the start of the races.

WebpageBefore I tell you why Stephan said that no PR’s were out there on the trails yesterday, I’ll strongly recommend that you run this race if you ever get the chance. It is a superb race and a wonderful experience that continues long after you cross the finish line. It is exceptionally well run, has phenomenal support from both runners and volunteers alike, features aid-station volunteers dressed as Bavarian Beer Maids, and has a post-race party that’s as close as you can get to the Oktoberfest this side of München.

Even with all these enticements, Stephan still had good reason for laying a dose of reality on the 800+ runners gathered at the starting line in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia. Here are some excerpts from the website, http://www.uberendurancesports.com/races.html, describing why this race is not to be taken lightly:

Course: …The midsection of the course features a bunch of short but steep rolling hills along with a trail section (Mount Cuckoo). Some have referred to our course as an Achterbahn (“rollercoaster”)…Is this a Boston Qualifier? Hell no!!!!! !!!This is a summer race, there is a good chance that high temps will make this harder than you anticipate!!! I recommend running the marathon only if you are an experienced runner, who can handle all kinds of adversity. You have been warned :-). No whining on race day.”

coursemapsauerMount Cuckoo: Not to make this any more difficult than it already is, but around Mile 6 you will have to conquer MOUNT CUCKOO. Mount Cuckoo is a 1 mile trail section that might feature minor roadblocks like rocks, dirt, possibly horse poop and some short rolling hills. This section is relatively easy by trailrunner standards, but the surface is definitely different from what you usually discover during a (half)marathon. This might just slow you down enough to miss your PR even if the weather cooperates. Run it if you must or walk it for your safety. On the positive side, once you conquered Mount Cuckoo, you will be running downstream towards the finish line and you get to see Heidi at the Oktoberfest aidstation for a 2nd time.”

An additional warning about running a June marathon in Philly appears as you scroll further down the webpage:

“Word of Caution: Once again, this race may become the “hottest” race in town. Running a marathon in temperatures in the 70ies and 80ies is exponentially harder than running one in November. We only recommend the marathon to experienced runners, who have ran long distances in the summer before and understand how to pace themselves in the heat, and how to stay hydrated properly. We do not recommend the marathon for first timers or PR seekers. This race is not about your finish time, it will be about how to deal with the course and the temps. You may be able to beat runners, who are usually faster than you, because you can handle the temps better, or because you manage your water intake better. We make you earn your beer, and we will make sure, that it will be cold :-)”

Stephan’s sage advice was very accurate and to be ignored only at great peril. The temperatures climbed into the high 70’s, and maybe even up to 80 if you ask me, and Mount Cuckoo did not disappoint with several sections of rocky hills, plenty of gnarly roots, and several patches of deep mud that could not be avoided!

Pre-race:  I arrived at Pennypack Park at about around 6:30 AM and found one of the remaining parking spots as shuttle buses delivered a steady stream of runners who had opted to park at the Cannstatter Volkfest Verein, a German club in Philadelphia. I jogged a warm-up along the trail, tweeted a few pictures, and took my place in the first of four waves at the starting line just in time for the aforementioned pre-race announcements.

Start

Pre Race

The Race:  I started easy and felt good. I decided to respect the conditions and to run according to how I felt with a goal of finishing the full marathon. Full-marathon runners had the option of stopping at the turn-around, which was the finish line for both the full and half marathons, and being scored for the half instead of the full. This made it very easy to stop at the halfway point if you had half a mind to do so. I didn’t. I didn’t wear a watch or carry any electronics to make sure I stuck to my wise plan of not chasing a mile pace on a day that was too warm for my liking.

About a mile or so into the race, I heard a familiar voice up ahead. Sure enough, it was a certain runner who is a legend in these parts, and I’m sure in many other parts, as much for being an all-around great guy as for his formidable running accomplishments. He was swapping race stories with the group running with him and I stuck with them for a little while. The pace was too fast for me and I settled back into a pace that felt right as the pink gaiters opened up a gap and faded into the distance ahead.

I plugged along chatting with other runners and cheering for the leaders as they passed us on their way back. I ate my Cliff Blocks and PowerGels throughout the race and took Gatorade at every aid station, greeting the volunteers with, “Grüss Gott,” and “Danke,” then doubling up on Gatorade and water for the last three aid stations.

I ran the first half of the race a minute per mile faster than the second half on average, but I did not hit the wall thanks to the 60+ grams of carbs per hour I took in during the race and the 700+ grams of carbs I scarfed down on Friday.Carbs

I just gradually slowed as the day got hotter, the hills got steeper, and the mud got deeper, but I had stretches of feeling good throughout the race. The bad patches were there, but they came and went.  I was passed by three guys during the second traverse over Mount Cuckoo, but then I passed two of them back in the closing miles. The last two miles were tough and the third place female passed me looking very strong with a little over a mile to go.

After what seemed like a mile farther down the trail, a few young boys were walking in the opposite direction and yelled when they saw me, “Just a mile to go!” The rest of the lyric completed itself in my mind, “My old buddy you’re movin’ much too slow.” The boys’ mothers were behind them and I said, “Please tell me it’s not a full mile.” They laughed and said the finish is right around the corner. It was.

After propping myself up on a table, and then on a small tree, I drank a bottle of water, two cups of Gatorade, ate six slices of orange, a piece of chocolate-chip banana bread, and then checked my time at the timing station. I punched in my bib number at one of the three monitors and saw I had run a 3:43:10. Eighteenth place overall and second in the M50-54 age group.

When the counting was done, there were a total of 146 finishers in the full marathon and 675 in the half marathon.

Post Race:Dance 2

We took the shuttle buses  to the Cannstatter Volkfest Verein where runners were treated to authentic Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, German beer, and a German Dance Group. I received my award, which has to be the best race award I’ve ever gotten, a German Weather House from the Black Forest:Prize and Medal

 

PresentationThis was a great race, an even greater experience, and I plan to run again next year. Maybe I’ll see you out there!

 

Attention Philly Runners! Win an entry to the #in24 Midnight Madness or Finale 5K!

UPDATE, 7/13/14: The winner of the race entry to the Finale 5k or Midnight Madness is ! Congratulations & good luck at the race!

One lucky runner will win an entry for either the #in24 Midnight Madness or Finale 5K in Philadelphia on July 19th-20th 2014!

In24#in24 is a fantastic and unique weekend of running events that affords runners the opportunity to run anything from a 5K to a 100++ Mile Ultra!!!!

From the race website: “In24 Philadelphia is a 24-hour race weekend featuring an Ultra-Marathon, Relay Challenge, Midnight Madness and Finale 5K – a weekend full of FUN! All proceeds benefit Back on My Feet [BoMF], a national for-purpose organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness transform their lives.” http://philadelphia.in24race.com/finale-5k/

Here’s HOW to enter the contest:

  1. Visit my BoMF fundraising page and donate at least $5 to this great organization. Every increment of $5 will give you another entry into the drawing! So if you donate $10, you get two entries, and so on.http://www.active.com/donate/BoMFPM14/TheRunningJones
  2. You’re done! A winner will be chosen at random from all who make a donation on my page by 7/11/14! The drawing will be conducted on 7/12/14 and the winner will be announced via my blog, TheRunningJones.com, and on Twitter @TheRunningJones. Feel free to toot your horn for a good deed done by posting a comment here on my blog!

Here’s WHY you should enter the contest:

  • First and foremost, BoMF is a great organization. They are taking running to a new level and transforming lives in the process. I believe strongly in this cause and donating to BoMF is truly a way to enable and empower positive change through the sport we all love so much. From the BoMF website:

“The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many Members obtaining independence through employment, job training and housing.”

  • Two great races to choose from if you win:

In24 RacesMidnight Madness (8.4 miles and a $65 value): “For the mid-distance runner looking for something truly unique, run through Fairmount Park like never before at The 2014 Stroehmann Back on My Feet in24 Midnight Madness! Light the path for the Ultra-Runners and Relay teams in Philadelphia’s only glow-in-the-dark run, which takes place on Sunday, July 20, at midnight. Midnight Madness runners will race the 8.4-mile loop around Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.”

OR:
Finale 5K (a $35 value): “What better way to celebrate the end of the in24 Race Weekend and cheer on the final steps of our ultra-runners then with a fun filled 5K! A perfect race for the novice runner to the most seasoned runner looking to test their speed, the Finale 5K is not a race to miss. The course will be comprised within the Schuylkill River Running Loop.”

Here’s WHEN you should enter the contest:

DO IT NOW! You’ll be glad you did! Just donate at least $5 here and you’re in: http://www.active.com/donate/BoMFPM14/TheRunningJones

Disclosure: I am fundraising for BoMF Philly for the Philadelphia Marathon. I paid my own entry into the Philadelphia Marathon and volunteered to fundraise because I strongly believe in BoMF. BoMF provided me with one complimentary entry into either the #in24 Midnight Madness or Finale 5K and also provided me with one complimentary entry to give away in this contest to promote my blog. I plan to keep blogging about running and to stay involved with supporting BoMF in the future!

How The Run SMART Project Supercharged My New Year’s Resolution

PV TrailAfter ten years of gaining weight and running less and less, I made a 2014 New Year’s Resolution to drop the extra forty pounds and get back into marathon shape.  I ran my last marathon in 2004 and this year I finally decided enough was enough.

I started running in January and went on Nutrisystem in February.  So far so good.  I registered for the Pittsburgh Great Race 10K scheduled for September 2014 to give me a goal to shoot for.  Nothing too crazy, but doable.  Then maybe one day I would somehow get into good enough shape to run another marathon.  By the end of February I was making slow but steady progress.

Then everything changed.

In March, The Run SMART Project Supercharged my New Year’s Resolution. That’s when I started training with The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan and their VDOT O2 App.  My training and goals changed drastically overnight and everything I was doing immediately kicked into high gear.  Check out this RunKeeper graph of one of my cool Run SMART Project Workouts:

Interval ChartEmpowered by a world-class training plan with elite coaches to provide guidance, I gained more confidence in my ability to get back into shape and I set my sights higher.  I registered for the ½ Sauer ½ Kraut Marathon here in Philadelphia on 14 June to coincide with the Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan.  The Run Smart Project founder and coach, Brian Rosetti, sent me my training plan and then answered my questions with a very detailed email about his experience with successful masters runners.

I started doing quality workouts that I didn’t think I was capable of completing.  When I started running in January, I struggled to keep up a twelve-minute mile pace for five or six miles.  Last Wednesday I ran twelve miles at 7:54 per mile and could have gone a lot faster.  I’m still amazed at the progress I’ve made.  In a nutshell, the hard runs are harder and the easy runs are easier.

That’s the big difference.  When I was running on my own, I ran the easy runs faster than I should have and I ran the hard runs slower than I should have.  It was easy to pick the low-hanging fruit by running too fast on my easy days.  It was also easy to dial it back on harder days while I was still recovering from the “easy” days.  Wrong and wrong.

What I learned from the Run SMART Project is this: just because I couldn’t run a full mile at 7:06 pace didn’t mean I couldn’t run two or three minutes at 7:06 pace for six or ten reps.  And I was doing 400 repeats and other fast work.  All of a sudden I felt like a runner again.

I could not have scripted these workouts by myself.  I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom behind the workouts because I have long been familiar with the empirical nature of Jack Daniels’ training paces and the Run SMART project coaches are elite runners who have walked the walk.

Let me give you a few examples of my recent progress.

I did a 14-mile long run on 23 March.  Here’s the RunKeeper screenshot for that run:

14 MilerThis run felt good, but I was in new territory.  It was the longest run I had done in many years.  I was very tired when I finished and I really had to work hard to finish strong.

The next long run was 15 miles and was scheduled for 20 April.  Before I show the chart for that run, take a look at what I did between the two long runs.

Here’s the April VDOT O2 schedule and a summary of the workouts I did between 23 March and 20 April:

April Training VDOT O2

3/26 – Marathon; 9 miles at Marathon Pace 8:13

3/29 – Threshold, 5 miles at 7:36 BoMF 5-miler

4/2 – Easy, Marathon, Threshold; 1 x 1mi @ 9:06/mi, 1 x 6mi @ 8:19/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 7:36/mi, 1 x 3mi @ 8:21/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 10:43/mi

4/9 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 10 x 2min @ 7:06/mi with 1 min recovery, 2mi cooldown

4/13 – Threshold; 1.5mi warmup, 1 x 3mi @ 7:50/mi, 4 x 20 second strides, 3.5mi cooldown

4/16 – Interval; 2mi warmup, 7 x 3min @ 6:58/mi with 2 min recovery, 2mi cooldown

Now here’s the RunKeeper screenshot from the 15-miler:15 Miler

I felt great and had to keep myself from going too fast.  The last mile was a blast and felt easy at 7:45 pace.  There was a huge difference in how I felt in just one month.

I went a mile farther, it only took two minutes longer, and it felt much easier.

Then I nailed my 12-mile Marathon Pace Run on 23 April.  I wasn’t sure if I was capable of making the full 12 miles at the planned 8:05 pace.  It turned out that I had to keep myself from going too fast again and ran at an average of 7:54 mile pace.

12 Miles at MPHere’s my entry in the VDOT O2 App:

12 Miles at MP VDOT O2I’m looking forward to my upcoming marathon as much as I look forward to my hard workout days.  I am running easier on easy days and harder on workout days than I ever would have on my own.  And I’ve gotten into shape much faster after The Run SMART Project Supercharged my 2014 training!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BoMF 5-Miler Race Recap and a Run SMART Project Threshold Workout

I had a great time at the BoMF 5-Miler on Saturday, March 29 in Philadelphia.  There was a lot to love about this race in the City of Brotherly Love:

  • BoMF is a great organization.  From their website, “Back on My Feet (BoMF) …uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living.”  BoMF understands the power of running and it shows.  http://philadelphia.backonmyfeet.org/about-back-on-my-feetRocky Pose
  • The race starts and finishes at the Art Museum of Rocky fame.
  • The race is very well run.  There were multiple options for packet pick-up and many volunteers working in each area (packet pick-up, bag check, results, food, etc.).  It was easy to park and a lot of fun to run.  Chip times were available immediately upon finishing the race.
  • Great people all around.  Small friendly vibe in a big city race.  There were several pre-race speakers including Scott Crossin, the Philadelphia BoMF Executive Director, and then BoMF member Kerry sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem before the race start.
  • Great support during the race.  Miles marked, water stations well-staffed, people cheering all the way.
  • An announcer added color commentary as we crossed the finish line.
  • Great swag including a nice lime-green tech shirt, a cool orange headband, and a great blue drawstring backpack.
  • Great soft pretzels that made me veer off of Nutrisystem long enough to scarf one down after the race.

Pre-Race:

I was en route on the Schuylkill Expressway at a little after six-thirty and was parking on the edge of Drexel University’s campus right at 0700.  As I walked across the Spring Garden Street Bridge, I stopped to take and tweet this pic:Spring Garden Street

Packet pick-up was quick and easy and I had time to take a run up the steps of the Art Museum to warm up.

Packet Pick Up

Then I had the pleasure of meeting a great group of runners from lululemon athletica near the Rocky Statue.  They were happy to take my picture, and then I took this picture of them:Team lululemon

They let me know that lululemon will have a cheering station at the Broad Street Run.

I continued with my warm-up run and remembered several races I’ve run that covered part of today’s course route, including three Philly Marathons and The Philadelphia Distance Run.  I stopped to take this great shot of the Art Museum before heading back to the start:A View of the Art Museum

This picture made me think of El Greco’s A View of Toledo.  Google it and see if you agree.

I moved to the back of the crowd after the opening ceremonies ended and got ready for my Run Smart Project 5-Mile Threshold Pace workout.  I was originally scheduled for a Threshold Pace Workout on Sunday; when I asked about a switch, Run SMART Project Founder and Coach Brian Rosetti adjusted my schedule and gave me the green light to use the race as the Threshold Pace Workout.  My Threshold Pace is 7:42 based on my VDOT value in the VDOT O2 Application (which is based on recent performances).  Here’s the workout in the VDOT O2 App:VDOT BoMF

I realized I forgot my headphones for RunKeeper audio cues, so I just started RunKeeper and tucked it into my SPIbelt.  I ran by feel, which is supposed to be “Comfortably Hard” for Threshold Pace.  It’s the pace you could hold for a one-hour race.  For elites that would be a Half Marathon.  For slower types like me, it’s closer to 10K pace.  I judge Threshold Pace by a feeling I get that is a signal that my legs will turn to stone if I go faster.  As long as I don’t go any faster when I get that feeling, I can keep the pace without stiffening up.

The Race:

Here’s the start from where I was:Start

I wove through the crowd and covered the first mile in 8:04.  I knew I was behind my 7:42 Threshold Pace, but didn’t know by how much.  From there I worked into what felt like Threshold Pace and ran pretty consistently for the rest of the race.

The second mile had a fairly sizeable uphill, but the difficulty was offset by cheers of encouragement from the tutu-clad lululemon team as we ran up the hill at the same time.  As I passed Memorial Hall, I looked down and saw the 10-mile marker for the Philly Marathon painted on the street.  How long it has been! Nearly ten years. I’ll be back!

The third mile was a speedy 7:15, but that was mostly because I opened up my stride and let gravity take me down the hill as I passed several groups of people, only some of whom immediately went right by me again on the flat.

I didn’t start to feel fatigue until the final mile.  To keep it going steady, I chanted this to myself: “trust your work, make it hurt, trust your work, make it hurt.”  It worked; I kept a good pace through the finish.

Here’s the RunKeeper screenshot of the race course:Runkeeper BoMF

And here’s my finish line photo purchased and downloaded from Cazillo Photography a day or so after the race:Copyright Gregory Cazillo, All Rights Reserved

This was a great race and a great workout.  There were 765 finishers.  I was number 93, fourth in my age group with a pace of 7:36 per mile.  The overall winners ran some fast times.  My only regret is that I couldn’t make it to the after party, but will make sure I do next year!  The BoMF 5-Miler is one of those great Philly Races that makes you want to come back again.

My Run SMART Project Marathon Pace Workout

I did my first Marathon (M) Pace workout on The Run SMART Project Jack Daniels’ 15-Week Marathon Plan this past Wednesday, March 26th.   My daily schedule in the VDOT O2 Application called for nine miles at M Pace, 8:13 per mile.  The graphic below shows my training calendar and the exploded view of the M Pace workout:

MP Workout

As the day unfolded, I had three doubts about being able to successfully complete the workout:

  1. First, I had to wake up at 0430 on Wednesday morning and then drive for four hours to work at a client’s location.  I didn’t get to bed as early as I’d planned and only got five hours of sleep.  I was tired by lunchtime.
  2. Getting enough carbs was my second concern.  I have been losing weight on Nutrisystem while increasing my training.  I have to work extra hard to make sure I don’t cut myself short on carbs leading up to quality workouts.  And it’s harder to eat right when I’m travelling.
  3. Finally, it was cold and very windy on the road along the Chesapeake Bay where I planned to run.  I walked out to my car at lunchtime and was hit with a frozen blast of forceful wind.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain a consistent pace, much less an 8:15 pace, running in that wind.  I didn’t feel confident about being able to gauge an M Pace effort.

There was a time when I would run an easy twenty-miler at 8:15 pace, but that was ten years ago.  It’s not easy anymore.  It will be again, but not yet.  As the workday drew to a close at 1630, it was time to erase the doubts and get the workout done.

CybexJust the thought of running gave me a shot of adrenaline and a second wind.  Scratch Doubt #1.  Thinking about the carbs during the day, I ate a few bananas (checking off two Nutrisystem Smart Carbs) and an extra Power Bar (38 grams of carbs, only 21 grams of it sugar) in addition to my normal Nutrisystem menu.  Scratch Doubt #2; I was carbed-up and ready to go.  To stack the deck in my favor, I bought a day pass at the local gym so I could do the workout on a treadmill.  Take weather out of the equation and Scratch Doubt #3.  Now I was psyched.

After I changed in the locker room, I did a set of pull-ups.  As I’ve lost almost twenty pounds, I’ve gone from being able to do one pull-up to being able to bang out six or seven.

I got on the old Cybex and did a slow warm-up mile, walking my way into a 12:00 minute mile pace.  Then I dialed in 7.3 MPH and tried it on for size.  It felt quick but manageable.  My breathing was fine, no respiratory discomfort, but it was hard to imagine going the full nine miles, if only because of the extreme boredom I was sure to experience.

After a few miles, I noticed several people were getting on the treadmill next to me, poking at the control panel for a minute or so, and then walking away.  I looked over and saw the letters “Err” on the display.  Just then a distinguished-looking gent in gray sweats and a cotton pocket-T did the same thing.  I said, “You might want to unplug it and plug it back in again.”  He said something I couldn’t understand, and kept hitting buttons. Oh well, I tried to help.

Then he walked away like the others.  But he turned right and walked along the front of the treadmills, and sure enough, he leaned down and pulled the plug just like I told him.

My old Cybex lurched to a stop and almost threw me over the console.  He was aghast and re-plugged me and apologized profusely at the same time.  I laughed and told him it was OK, that I needed a rest, and could he pull the plug out again in about twenty minutes?  He laughed and found the right plug for his machine and it worked.  He thanked me and got a few miles in and then headed off for the weight machines.

I was at about three and a half miles into the nine.  It was taking forever.  I was starting to feel some effort, but was still breathing easy.  I counted my cadence for a minute, and then recited the alphabet, which took a whole tenth of a mile.  I wasn’t any less bored, but at least now I knew I was taking 180 steps per minute and nearly 6.8 yards per letter.

By the halfway point, my legs were feeling stiff and tired and I was now counting hundredths of a mile.  After not running a lot for the past ten years, and getting ten years older in the bargain, I’m realizing that simply training my muscles, tendons, ligaments, and whatever else is holding me together is a bigger issue than getting into aerobic shape.  My legs were not keeping up with my lungs.

During the final three miles I remembered why, during the final miles of all five marathons I have run in my life, I have sworn never to run another marathon.  This wasn’t an idle threat I was making to myself.  I let twenty-five years go by between marathons one and two.  Now I was feeling that same dog-tired numb-legged feeling after only six or seven miles.  I soldiered on and was almost giddy when the end was in sight. Then I was done.  I felt a little dizzy and leaned on the old Cybex as it fell silent and I rested my head in my hands.

A voice jarred me out of my stupor; “You’re still here?”  It was the distinguished-looking gent back from his work with the weights.  I laughed and said, “Where were you when I needed you?”

Run As Hemingway Wrote

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast is one of my favorite books.  I always remembered what Hemingway said about writing, to leave something in the well for the next day.  He would stop writing when he knew what was about to happen next.

As I learned the correct pace for my long runs with The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan, I recalled Hemingway’s writing habit and made a connection.  Replace the word writing in the above quote with running.  The connection is that long runs are not meant to empty the well of our running, that we should always leave something there in the deep part of the running well.

I didn’t understand this when I was training for marathons ten years ago.  I often left the well empty when I ran a long run.  My long run pace was too fast and I left some of my best races out on the trails.

According to Daniels’ Running Formula, 2nd Edition, I had it all wrong.  In Chapter 2 under the heading Training Zones, Dr. Daniels writes that long runs are done at Easy Pace, and that the training benefits of Easy Pace running are more a function of time than intensity.  Easy Pace is as fast as we need to go to get the desired benefits from the long run.  He writes that Easy Pace runs should be free from trouble or pain, should be run at a conversational pace, and are almost always enjoyable.

8541320D-0F22-4276-BA9E-D298CBC3C70BTen years ago, my long runs were not easy or enjoyable.  I was running them to rack up miles, and the faster the better.  I loved jotting down faster and faster times in my training log.

Not only did I lose the full benefits of the long run, I also couldn’t recover in time to do the faster quality workouts on the schedule.  So I skipped interval workouts and tempo runs when I was still recovering from the long run two or three days later.  I was practically running a race every Sunday without realizing it.

At the start of my last marathon in 2004 my legs were dead.  I grinded out a time I was satisfied with, but I know I should have done a lot better for the mileage I was running.

Since I started training with The Run Smart Project I have been training more as Hemingway wrote, leaving something in the deep part of the well.  I know now that going too fast defeats the purpose of my long run and leaves me dead for the workouts when I’m supposed to go fast.

In The Run SMART Project’s VDOT O2 App, my current VDOT is 43.23, which determines my training paces.  My Easy Pace is 9:15-10:11 per mile.  My marathon pace is 8:12.  So my Easy Pace is between one and two minutes slower than my projected marathon pace.

Here’s the map and graphs from today’s 14-miler:

23 MAR 14And here’s my run entered into The Run SMART Project VDOT O2 App:

RSP 23 MAR 14I stayed on my target pace and had to keep myself from going faster.  I enjoyed the run and when I stopped, I felt like there was something left in the well for tomorrow.  I’ll save the speed for Wednesday’s workout, nine miles at marathon pace.

Leave a comment and share your experiences with pacing your long runs!

The Running Jones

@TheRunningJones