Running for Profit

As most of you know, running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today.  According to runningusa.org, there were over 40 million runners in the USA in 2012.  Since the year 2000, the amount of Race Finishers has nearly doubled from 8.6 million to 15.5 million in 2012.  It is no wonder that this rise in popularity has spawned an entire Running Industry that is currently booming!  At roughly $91/ pair, the running shoe industry alone generates over 3 billion dollars/year and growing.  That doesn’t include apparel, medical supplies, water belts, compression socks, rolling sticks, energy bars, gps watches, and all the other stuff that runners happily buy, and buy into.  When I began running I thought it was the most inexpensive sport in the world! Hell, all you need are some shoes, and your legs and you’re good to go right? Little did I know about all the stuff I needed and how much the race fees were going to be….

With a rise in runners comes a rise in racing events and these events generate massive amounts of money each year.  With so much green floating around these events, its no wonder there’s a real gold rush happening here.

First, I want to say that not all races are created equal. I have participated in all types of events from a Major World Marathon all the way down to your local 5k and everything in between.  The majority of the money generated from races in the US comes from Charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (over $407 Million last year) and Susan G. Komen’s Race for the cure (just under $127 million).   These races tend to generate massive amounts of people and seem to have more walkers than runners. Also most of the proceeds, if not all, go directly to these corporations.  With events as large as these, I’m skeptical as to how much of the $$$ actually goes towards research and how much goes to furthering their brand and planning for the next event. This is why I tend to stay away from these type of races.

Also, with the rise in popularity of the sport, I’m seeing more and more traveling race events popping up in our area. These touring events attract huge crowds that mention nothing about charities and usually have a gimmicky theme such as a “Zombie Run”, “Glow Run”, “Color Run” etc. and are out to do one thing, make as much money as they can.  

Earlier this year I participated in the Project Mud 5k event at the Charleston Tea Plantation.  I won a free entry from a local radio station and decided to give it a shot.  The run was actually very fun.  It’s a 5k with a several obstacles along the way and a lot of mud. I ended up winning the event.  Expecting some sort of party/ award ceremony, I was disappointed in finding vendors at the finish trying to sell us everything from beer and food to personal training and gym memberships.  It wasn’t a celebration for all of the time spent training and the hard work we just put ourselves through, it was another attempt to squeeze some more dollars out of our pockets.  The price to run these type of races are fairly expensive.  Starting at $65 months in advance, it gradually increased to $95 the day of the race!

 After the race I had to track down the event organizer and was told that I would receive $100 for finishing first and a free entry to the next Mud run.  This was also told to the first place female.  He gave me his contact info and said he would mail the check.  After sending multiple emails inquiring about the prize, I finally received my check….. FOUR months later.  The female finisher has yet to receive her check and neither of us has received an entry to the next race (which is less than a week away).  The site still hasn’t announced any involvement with a local charity.

From their website: 

Getting Dirty For a Great Cause

“Project Mud believes in giving back to the communities that we invade.  Check back soon as we will be making an official announcement regarding our charitable partner.”

Did I mention the race is 6 days away….

Last year they gave the Make-A-Wish foundation a vendor table to help promote the charity.  It happens to be one of my favorite charities because 100% of the donations go to making a child’s wish come true so I was excited to see them there.  However, I doubt that very little, if any, portion of the entry fees went to support the charity.   That could be very misleading to the runners.  It makes it look like Project Mud is supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation when all they are actually doing is allowing them to set up a table to promote their charity.

Not all races are out to make huge profits however.  There’s a smaller market of local races organized by running clubs, local charities, or by someone raising awareness for a particular cause. These races donate the majority of the entry fees to a particular charity and tend to dominate the local scene here in Charleston. You can pretty much find several of these races any given weekend.  The race fees are usually between $20-30 and that usually includes and after party with food and drinks and an award ceremony.  These are the races I enjoy running for one reason, they’re honest. Unfortunately a lot of these races have very low runner turnouts, which means less money for the charity of choice. So why don’t these local races attract the big crowds that the traveling “for profits” do? Well, there are two reasons that stand out the most;  the smaller races don’t have any gimmicks and they tend to have lower budgets for marketing advertising.  This means they have to be much more creative to reach people.

This experience has made me much more aware of the type of races that are being promoted nowadays. I believe that its important to do a little research in choosing the race you run and ask yourself what you want your entry fee to support. Do you want it to support a local charity, your community, and enjoy a wonderful celebration with good food and friends?  Or would you rather pay more money to get color filled powder balloons thrown at your face while fattening the pockets of an out of town, corporately hired race director?

My hopes are that if more people understand that all races are not “created” equal, then more people would support the honest, local races, versus the heavily marketed “For Profit” traveling races that only continue to grow.  I will certainly be more socially conscious while choosing my future races and I hope you will too.

-Michael

   


Run to the Silver Linings

It’s been a long time since my last post and for the 10 of you who follow my blog, I sincerely hope you haven’t lost any sleep in anticipation….  My last entry was just before the Savannah Marathon LAST NOVEMBER.  Needless to say, this is long overdue.  There’s plenty of reasons why I haven’t blogged since then, I simply haven’t had much positive news to report…

After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon {Side Note: I went out way too fast and hit a wall around mile 14 and never recovered..the last 12 miles was the most physically painful lesson I’ve ever learned.} Where was I? Oh yeah, After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon, I came down with a bad case of ITBS (not to be confused with IBS).  I’ve experienced ITBS before, but never this severe.  Imagine someone driving a nail through the outside of your knee every time you try to run.  It SUCKS.

After a variety of treatments, it seemed like nothing would work.  Not Ice, not heat, not rest, not rolling, not stretching, NOTHING.  Not even a week long holiday vacation to the most beautiful island in Hawaii (Kauai) could ease the pain.  Hopeless, right?

I had to do something, I was already scheduled for my for the Charleston Marathon on January 19th only 2 weeks from my return.  I decided to downsize to the Half Marathon and knew that even running 13.1 miles would be a challenge.

Four days before the marathon I received a phone call from my mom.  It was the phone call I’d been dreading for over a year.  My Uncle Jack had lost his battle with cancer.  Uncle Jack was my Rock-n-roll mentor who always encouraged me to pursue my own musical talents.  An inspiring man, never without a smile on his face or a guitar in his hand.  It was impossible to imagine the pain he’d been through for over a year and in those final moments, but I tried to.  That thought alone gave me a new perspective on pain and suffering.  I popped some Aleve and was able to finish the Half in just under 1hr 45min and I know he was right there with me all the way to the finish. Just like his Father (my maternal Grandfather) was during the Chicago Marathon the previous year. His suffering was finally over.

The following week, I was determined to cure myself of this ITBS.  Two weeks of no running was the first prescription I’d prescribed to myself, little did I know I’d need running more than ever.

It was a phone call from my dad this time.  His father (my paternal Grandfather, Aka Papaw Wayne) was involved in a serious car accident.  It was a foggy morning and he pulled on to the road in front of an 18 wheeler.  He was in critical condition and remained in the ICU for a few days. The following week I received an e-mail from my best friend/girlfriend of over 2 years explaining that she wanted to continue on her journey without me.

My Universe was quickly falling apart and the center of it had just disappeared.

Unable to run I had to do something, a week went by and I was wasting away.  Stuck in a pitiful, “life sucks” state of mind, self medication only worsened my condition.  I thought about my Uncle Jack and his passion for country music.  He was an emotional man with the biggest heart.  This made him a wonderful country music songwriter and musician and I remembered how he used the power of music to heal.  I picked up my guitar and began to write and play again, just as he did his entire life.

The healing of my heart had begun.

A few more days went by and I called my father to check on the status of my Papaw Wayne.  “He’s leaving the hospital today.” he said.  It’s a miracle, I thought to myself.  Not many people in their 70’s could go through an accident as bad as that one and survive.  He’d had a hip replacement the week before the accident and although he was finally out of the hospital his new challenge now was to be able to walk again.  He became my physical inspiration.

The healing of my body had begun.

During my intense physical rehabilitation, I’ve had plenty of time  to reflect on my relationship with Diana. I realized how much I’d learned from her.  A woman with a wild and adventurous spirit that strives to truly experience and explore the world, to live.  A real traveler.  Wanting to understand her more, I FINALLY finished reading a book she’d left me before her trip to Micronesia.  It’s titled, “The Sex Lives of Cannibals; Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific“.  After reading the book, it was easy for me to see how the author’s perception of the world was changed and how a new perspective  was born.  A perspective that no one could truly understand without living it. She was living it.

The healing of my mind and soul had begun.

Today, a week after my 28th birthday and the eve of the 2013 Cooper River Bridge Run, I’ve never felt more at ease. After a 2 month routine combining Hip and Glute exercises, plyometrics, rest, easy running, and ALOT of reading, my ITBS is finally under control.  My legs feel fresh and my mind feels strong and although its unlikely, there’s still a tiny chance I could beat last year’s 10K PR of 41:28.  There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to run this year’s race for time though.  I want to take in every moment.  Every smile from the crowd.  Every breath of precious air.  These past few months have been one of the most influential learning experiences of my life and I will be grateful to simply cross the finish line tomorrow.

There’s an old Gatha that reads:

If you do not cross the meadow thickly covered in weeds, You will never reach the village dusted with falling blossoms.

The center of my Universe never disappeared, it’s always been there,  I’m just learning to find it again.

-Michael

Uncle Jack


Life is Full of Surprises….

On November 3rd of this year I will hopefully be finishing my 2nd full Marathon.  I say “hopefully” because my training hasn’t exactly gone as planned.  It never does.  On October 3rd, exactly one month away from the race, I finally felt like I was in prime condition.  With only a month left of training and riding high on a good group run the night before, I set out on my Wednesday night run.  The plan was to do 8-10 miles FAST! I got off work, biked home, jumped in my brightest Brooks Nightlife gear, and took off.  I remembered to grab my driver’s license and debit card. I always carry these when I’m running a course that takes me over 4 miles away from my home. Especially at night.  I breezed through the first mile in just under 8 minutes.  During my mental checklist, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my trusty compression sock for my right ankle.  I usually wear it on longer runs to keep my peroneal tendonitis in-check.  I thought to myself, I’ll be ok, I’m on the road not trail.  Besides, I’ve run this route a million times and I know where watch my step. You can probably tell where this story is already heading.

Mile two split: 7 minutes, 10 seconds.  Man, I’m feeling good, I thought to myself. The ocean breeze is at my back and I’m running along one of the most historical places in America, the Charleston Battery.  The stars were out, the waves were breaking, and the lights were on in some of the most colorful houses in the country and I was tearing up the road with lightning speed. Mile 3 split: 6 minutes, 43 seconds.  I found my groove and decided to back off a bit and settle in to a 7 minute/ mile pace.  This is my goal marathon pace if I want to qualify for Boston. Which I do….eventually.  Everything felt great so I decided to push ahead toward East Bay St.  I usually stay on the road if I can as its flatter, but a car was heading in my direction so I jumped to the sidewalk.  I saw an opening where I could get back on the road after the car passed, so I took it.  I was turning left and jumping from sidewalk to pavement.  I mis-judged the height of the curb and planted with my outside foot (my weak ankle).  Two mistakes that proved to be devastating. I immediately felt my ankle give way to the sound that rice crispies make.  This was followed by by left knee taking the brunt of the fall and a “very manly” yell that I’m sure woke everyone in Charleston. I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this awkwardly violent fall and too my surprise, no one saw and I still get to keep my man points. At the time I remember experiencing a lot of emotions at once.

This is the moment fear can take over.  Not fear of pain.  Not fear of how will I get home , but the fear of will I be able to race in a month?  Fear of will I be able to run in a week?  Fear of losing everything I’d worked so hard for all summer long.  All of those summer runs in 90 degree weather with 90% humidity.  All of the long runs I’d completed in the weeks prior like the half marathon, the 14 miler, the 16 miler, the 20 miler! All of those runs were now meaningless if I couldn’t bounce back from this. At that moment, I didn’t even know what “this” was, and that was the scariest part.  What did I just do to my ankle?

I could feel the swelling immediately.  I knew from previous ankle injuries to keep the shoe on to try and control the swelling.  I stood up to see if i could put any pressure on it.  I could, but only in my heel. My knee was in pain and blood dripped down to foot and stained my favorite T7 Racer’s.  It was nothing urgent, so I started walking.  I knew that there was no way that I was going to walk 3.5 miles back home so I flagged down some guys walking toward me and asked them if they minded calling a cab for me.  The dispatch needed an address he looked around and found 5 East Bay Street. If you look at the picture below, I fell just at the turn in the road by the fountain.  5 East Bay St. is the second houses down East Bay on the left.

As I was standing in front of the the large pale pink house, a car began to pull up. I asked the driver if this was 5 East Bay St. and she replied, “Yes it is, why”?  At that moment, someone from the side porch behind the driveway gate yelled, “Who are you and what happened? Are you hurt?”  I explained to them what happened and they told me to go around to the front of the house.  There, a nice woman greeted me at the bottom of the stairs, assessed the damage and went back up stairs.  While I was waiting in the foyer of one of the most expensive houses in Charleston, a middle aged man in a pink polo shirt with his collar popped walked downstairs and asked me what happened.  Bruce was his name and drinking was his game! In his old Charleston drawl, Bruce told me that he used to run…A long time ago….While shaking his head and sipping on a cocktail, he followed that statement with the word, “girls”. Just….”girls”.  Being the southern gentleman that Bruce is, he offered me a drink several times.  I and I kindly declined at first, but after several minutes of extremely awkward silence I looked at Bruce and said, ” You know what Bruce, I’ll take you up on a beer! I don’t want to be a burden, but after all, who know’s how long this cab will be right”? At that point, the kind lady returned with band Aids, hydrogen peroxide, and everything else that you would find in a first aid kit.  She doctored me up and Bruce returned with a Bud Light.  I cracked the beer, took a sip and the cab pulled up at that very moment.  I thanked them greatly for their hospitality and and told them that if they every needed any shoes to come visit me at my shop and I would take care of them.  Not wanting to be rude, I chugged the Bud Light, thanked Bruce and the kind lady again, and hobbled to the cab.

When I returned home, I immediately began to R.I.C.E. and assess the damage.  The fact that I could still put pressure on it was encouraging and I knew that running anytime the following week was completely out of the equation.  A week went by and the bruising began. I’d never seen bruising like this before as it was isolated to my outside ankle bone.  This spooked me in to going to get an x-ray.  I planned on taking a week and a half off to let it heal but wanted to make sure nothing was broken before I started running on it again.  Fortunately, the x-rays came back negative.  I had a level 2 sprain and the Doc prescribed me some anti-inflammatories. I asked him what the normal healing time was for an injury like this and he said 3-4 weeks.  I told him my situation and he replied, “You runners will ultimately do what you want to, but just take it slow and be very careful”!

The anti-inflamatories helped tremendously and I was running on it in a week and a half.  During the week and a half off I focussed on strengthening my core by doing endless push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and wall sits. I knew I would lose some speed and my goal of finishing in 3 hrs is most likely out of the equation now.  After taking it slow for a week and altering my routine by adding more rest days, I was finally ready for a long run.  I knew I had to squeeze in another one to assess the situation of my ankle and give me confidence in simply finishing 26.2 miles. With only two weeks to go, I set out on a 20+ mile run and it couldn’t have gone any smoother.  I ran an easy 22 miles in 3 hours 7 minutes and some change with no problems.  This was the result I needed and now I’m extremely confident in finishing the race. After the long run, I cut my mileage down and began to taper.  With only three small runs left this week before the Marathon, I can finally say that happy with my training results and although I realize I’m not going to get a BQ this time around, I’m definitely due for a huge PR.  My new goal is to finish with the 3:15 pace group and to crush my PR by 30 minutes.

If I could sum this roller coaster ride of summer training up in one word (other than hot), it would be “Surprised”.  Surprised that I met so many new friends in my weekly beginners running group we started at the store. Surprised that I encountered so many injuries this go around and surprised that my body was able to roll with the punches and bounce back from these injuries so quickly.  Surprised that I kept my disciplined diet even with the newly added TCBY in the shopping center I work in.  And the thing I’m mostly surprised about is the fact that I did all of this and kept my sanity without my best friend, girlfriend, and training partner, Diana by my side. After being such a catalyst in my own transformation and encouraging me to fulfill my goals and dreams, July 5th of this year, she flew around the world to Micronesia to fulfill her own goals of traveling and teaching. Even through the distance, she has been incredibly supportive and continues to surprise me from the other side of the world. Although she won’t physically be able to see me cross that finish line in a week, I know she’ll be worrying and thinking about me the whole way to the finish! Her positive thoughts and words of encouragement will be enough to push me through to the end in hopefully a “surprisingly” fast time and I’m extremely grateful to have her in my life!

On a less mushy note, I’m excited to be working with Brooks at the Expo for the Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon and I’ll be sure to send you a Run Happy Pre-race report from Savannah later this week!  Wish me luck and as always,

Run, walk, bike, drink, trick or treat and smell my stinky runners feet, debate, vote, and debate again…….happy!

-Michael

Michael’s “beer of the month”:  Bud Light…..

Yup, I never thought it would end up on my snobby beer list, but hey, “Life is full of surprises” and this bud’s for you Bruce! Thanks for the watered down refresh-ness!


Free KT Tape Anyone?

Ok folks, it has been far too long since my last entry and I apologize to my faithful followers who have been eagerly waiting a new entry.  Yes, I offer my sincerest apology to all three of you.  It’s been a busy summer and I’ve definitely had a few “blog worthy” moments, but for the sake of time (and your sanity) I’ll briefly highlight a few.

First I would like to highlight my completion of a running related Facebook page called Simply Running.  I was searching for a way to bring runners of all backgrounds together to share their experiences, expertise, and to promote their individual causes.  Also, there’s an abundance of useful info, articles, videos and anything else running related posted to the wall.  We currently have 56 likes and we’re looking for a lot more, so just visit the page and like us!  There may be something in it for you if you do it soon but I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs;)

As you may remember from my last entry (that was ages ago) I just began training for the Savannah Marathon which is on November 3rd.  Thanks to my awesome sponsor Brooks Running and the Inspire Daily program, I received a free entry and can’t wait to represent!  I’ve been training through Charleston’s suffocating heat all summer long and now that the humidity is breaking all of that training is starting to pay off.  Although I’ve encountered a few setbacks along the way, with only one month until Savannah my legs are finally beginning to feel fresh and fast again.  I tweaked my lower Calf/Achilles  a few weeks ago and have been battling Peroneal Tendonitis to this day, both of which I feel I finally have under control.  I can attribute some of that to R.I.C.E. but mostly I’ve been using KT Tape.

This stuff really works folks! I’m a believer for sure!  If applied properly, this tape can alleviate pain from an abundance of running or sports related injuries.  It works wonders on my peroneal tendonitis by keeping that tendon in place while I’m running without having the bulkiness of a compression brace.  As for my tight Calf/Achilles issue it relieved the pain immediately! I was skeptical at first until I mentioned my situation to a co-worker who was experiencing some pain in both of her Achilles from playing rugby.  She went to the store and bought a roll and I applied it for her. The results were almost instant.  She was skeptical about the tape and thought it could be just a placebo effect upon leaving work.  But not to my surprise, the next morning I was greeted with smiles and thank yous! Throw all of the Scientific Junk out the door people, this stuff WORKS!  I’m not going to get into the science of how it works, if you want to learn more about it, CLICK HERE.

In fact, I’m such a believer in this stuff that I’m going to give you a chance to try it for free! Of course you have to jump through a few hoops first, but here’s how it works:

1) Simply subscribe to my blog here at Running Haven. If you’re already following then you’re already a third of the way there!

2) Next, visit the Simply Running Facebook page and click the “Like” button

3) and lastly, leave a comment on this blog or on Simply Running’s Facebook page letting me know you’ve completed it and you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free roll of KT Tape. A week from today (Saturday October 6th) I’ll put all of the names in my Brooks hat and pick one of you lucky winners at random and mail you a free roll!

For more info about KT Tape and all of the injuries it can help with just visit their website from the link above.  They also have YouTube videos on every application you could think of! I also want to thank fellow Brooks ID member Michael Robertson for this idea.  You can follow his blog by clicking the link under my blogroll OnceandAlways!

Thanks again for the support  everyone and good luck!

-Michael


Rock n Roll, all the way to Savannah!

It’s been over a month since my last post and I’ve had a few ‘blog worthy’ moments since then.  I ran a short 5k in Summerville sponsored by the shoe store I work for, Phillips Shoes.  It was a short 5k due to the wide neighborhood roads.  The group who put on the race claim that it is a USATF certified course, but my trusty Garmin begs to differ.  If the course was mapped in a car then it would be close to 3.1 miles, but runners cut through curvy roads like a school of fish through water.  By taking the inside route on every turn, we shaved off a great deal of the course.  By the end of the race my watch read 2.80 miles and 17:15 which is a HUGE personal record for me. Although that time is official,  there is no way I can mentally accept it.  That aside, it was a fun race for an awesome cause. All of the proceeds went to helping train Phoenix Athletes and to fund the Wounded Warrior Project.  I have mad respect for those guys and gals Click here to see the official results.

I tried to stack as many base miles as I could in June and only took three days off of running during the month.  I averaged around 25 miles/ week establishing a solid foundation leading into my marathon training plan.  Last Thursday I registered for the last race of the Bulldog Breakaway 5k Twilight Series at the Citadel that benefits the Citadel’s track program.  The turn out for those races are pretty minimal and the competition is usually on the lighter side so I decided to use it as more of a speed work/training run. I started the race in front and held my position until I was passed around the 2 mile mark.  My quads were cramping badly and I nearly dropped out of the race completely, but I slowed my pace down and let the guy ahead further his lead a bit but didn’t let him out of my sight.  I was approaching 2.5 miles and by this time I was getting use to the pain. I knew that I had to make my move soon or I would take 2nd place again like so many times before!  I focussed in on the guy in front and tried to close the gap between us.  His form was sporadic and he wasn’t wearing a watch.  That’s when I knew that was getting tired and he had no clue that he ran his first mile at a sub 6min/mile pace on a humid night in Charleston, South Carolina.  That was just the motivation I needed to begin my kick!  I lengthened my stride, focussed on my breathing, and repeated my Caballo Blanco mantra, “Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast”.  I finally caught him, passed him, and continued to kick all the way to the Finish line without looking back. I looked around as if I’d just won the gold medal at the Olympics in London! Instead I was greeted at the finish line with light golf claps. Nonetheless, it was music to my ears.  I Won. I finally won a damn race! I was ecstatic inside, but humbly hid my emotion from the second place gentlemen who crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind me.   My time was slower compared to my other 5k races, but I have a feeling the heat/cramps had a lot to do with that.  I read that running in temperatures above 70 degrees can make you up to 15% slower. I believe that the heat and cramps, combined with my lack of speed work was the cause for my slow time. But  a win’s a win and it felt damn good!

Although it was a small 5k, I finally chased down my goal of winning one and now I can focus on the larger goal ahead, the Rock n Roll Marathon in Savannah, Georgia on November 3rd 2012! To further challenge myself, I want to complete it in less than 3hrs to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2014.  Last year I ran the Chicago Marathon in 3 hrs 43 minutes using an 18 week advanced Hansons-Brooks distance project training plan (which was definitely too advanced for me at the time). I’ve come a long way since then and looking back, I’m surprised I made it across the finish line in one piece.  If you’re unfamiliar with a Hansons-Brooks training plan it basically stacks as many miles in the week as possible.  Speed work once a week for the first half, then strength training once/week in the latter half and a lot of miles in between with only one day of rest. Instead of focussing on one long run at the end of the week, the HBDP stacks more mileage throughout the week.  For Savannah I’m taking a different approach.

There is an intermediate training plan in the July 2012 edition of Runner’s World magazine that I believe will get me to my goal in record time.  It’s a 16 weeks plan developed by coach Janet Hamilton for runners who have run a marathon before and log at least 25 miles/week.  It had me written all over it!  When I looked further I noticed that it offered 2 days of rest each week too! Where do I sign up? Also unlike the HBDP, this plan includes hill work in the FIRST 8 weeks to build strength, THEN speed work in the latter half. This is to ensure I stay healthy through the training and have a strong base going into the speed portion of the plan.  Each week including some sort of tempo run at Marathon pace  sub 7min/mile for me and a Long Slow Distance run at the end of each week, this plan sounds perfect for me and I’m happy to put it to the test.  Furthermore, it’s completely adaptable to each person’s goal pace so if you’re in a similar situation with you’re running i recommend checking it out!

There are a few other ‘blog worthy’ moments worth mentioning but I’ll save those for next time!  That is, if you haven’t fallen asleep reading this one already 😉

As always, happy running, walking, cycling, summer blockbuster movie watching, and house moving!

-Michael

P.S. “Like” the page Simply Running on Facebook and gain instant access to advice and information from other runners of all types and backgrounds. You can share your own running experiences while helping to inspire others to live a more positive, healthy, and active lifestyle!

Speaking of healthy,

Michael’s beer of the month:

Foster’s in a big oil can….Australian for: “I would prefer a tasty micro-brew, but this college grad is on a budget”!


Brooks Pure Flow = Pure Recovery

Just when I thought that I found my distance dream shoe, Brooks surprises me again with a new one! I was formerly attached to the Brooks Pure Cadence.  A wonderfully light, supportive, comfortable and durable shoe that cradled me over finish line after finish line.  Pure Cadence and I have weathered many storms during our short time together, and though we have set many PR’s, I’m afraid there’s a new shoe that has my heart now. The Brooks Pure Flow.

Pictured above is the closest relative of the Brooks Pure Cadence, the Pure Flow.  Less controlling than the Cadence, the Flow allows your foot to move more naturally within your gait cycle.  It is a dream shoe for a neutral runner like myself and with my latest ankle issue, it has been the perfect recovery shoe for me.  The Flow feels like two clouds wrapped around my feet as I bounce along the pavement. Although I try not to strike on my heels, when my calves get tired from striking on my mid/forefoot on a long run, the Pure Flow gives me the cushion I need to transition to a light heel strike.  It also does this without forcing my foot to the outside like the Cadence did.  Another great feature of the Flow, that can also be found in all of the Pure Project shoes, is the Ideal Heel.  The heel of the shoe is actually curved which promotes better running form by allowing the heel strike to be centered under the heel rather than behind the heel like most traditional running shoes.

Before I get into more of the technical features of this shoe I want to let you know, if you don’t already, that I am sponsored by Brooks.  I am also a Sales Person at Phillips Shoes in Charleston SC where we sell other running shoes by brands such as Asics, New Balance, Merrell, Keen and Vibram.  While I am a sponsored Brooks runner, my job as a sales person in the shoe industry depends on a variety of product knowledge from an array of different brands such as those mentioned and more.  With that said, the technical features of Brooks running shoes are currently unmatched in the industry.  This, along with the Brooks, “Run Happy” attitude and positive messages not only make them a pleasure to run in, but to also run for!

After my last post I began running low mileage again with minimal amount of pain and resting and icing my ankle frequently.  I was completely off from running for 2 week, then used the next 2 weeks to ease back into my routine.  I have been on a 10 day running streak now totaling 41 miles alternating between the Pure Flow, T7 racers, and my Mach 13 (spikeless) and spending the majority of the distance in the Pure Flows.  Being the minimalist runner that I am, the Pure Flow is the most “Shoe” I like to wear during a run.  Although I love my T7’s and Mach 13’s, I just don’t have the confidence that they will give me the protection and cushion I will need for 26.2 miles.  This may change depending on how my training goes, but as for now the Pure Flow is my go-to distance shoe.

For those of you looking to make the transition from a heel strike to a forefoot strike OR for those of you simply wanting to go more minimal, this shoe is AWESOME!  It is light and fast enough for your 5k’s AND offers enough protection and cushion to get you through a full 26.2 mile marathon.  Heavier runners need not worry either, the Pure Flow as well as the entire Pure Project line offers the blended Bio MoGo and DNA midsole.  This sole and this technology is one thing that really separates Brooks from its competitors.  No matter how much you weigh, the brooks DNA distributes your weight evenly and gives you the same amount of bounce back!

While other gel-like materials simply absorb the shock and cradle the landing, Brooks DNA actually returns the energy.  Just think of these little particles as miniature trampolines under your foot.  For the Pure Project shoes, Brooks actually blends the DNA with their light-weight BIO MoGo EVA foam so that those little trampolines are in every ounce of the sole!  This makes the shoe light and extremely durable and  there’s a reason why Runners World magazine awarded it Best Buy for 2011. Considering the amount of features you get out of this shoe compared with other brands, 80 bucks is a steal!

Not only do you get a smooth ride from the mid-sole, but you will also have a blister free experience with the “sock-like” upper material of the Pure Flow.  Furthermore, you get flexibility  without sacrificing durability.  You don’t know how many Nike’s I see on a daily basis with holes in the sides or toes busting out of the ends.  I’ve owned my Pure Cadences now for 8 months and put a ton of mileage on them.  The uppers still look brand new!  The uppers in the Pure Project’s are built of the same quality of materials and re-enforced in the same areas therefore I think that the Flows will perform just the same.

One feature that I dis-like about the flows is the the traction in wet conditions.  Under normal conditions the traction of the tread is satisfactory and unnoticeable, but on wet pavement it is a little slicker than the tread on my Pure Cadence. It’s not like I was ice skating in them, but it was definitely noticeable.  Hopefully they fix that one little issue in the upcoming Flow 2.0 that is due this winter!

Along with updated versions of all the Pure Project line, Brooks will be introducing the Pure Drift to the collection. This shoe will be one that everyone in the industry will have their eyes on including me.  For more on the upcoming Pure Project 2.0, click HERE!  Until then, I’m going to grab as many Flows in as many colors as I can and will hope to be crossing some finish lines soon in those fancy Blue ones! As always,

Run, walk, talk, read Scott Jurek’s new book! not 50 shades of grey, marry….or divorce;) swim, barbecue and drink happy!

-Michael

Michael’s beer of the week: Negra Modelo…….good Mexican beer doesn’t need a lime!


Tar Heel 10 Miler Race and Injury Update

Hello all, I just want to bring you up to speed on whats been happening in my running world.  As you know from my previous post I was very displeased with my performance and the directors performance of the Cooper River Bridge Run.  But thankfully that is in the past and much has happened between then and now.

April was an extremely busy running month with two races, the CRBR and the Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill, NC.  I put in a lot of fast mileage and enjoyed every bit of it.  I went into the Tar Heel 10 Miler with a bit of an achilles scare.  The week leading up to the race I ramped up the intensity of my running despite the advice of most in the running community.  About three days prior to the race I went on a run and had to quit around mile two due to some achilles pain.  Knowing how scary any achilles ache can be, I RICE’d it for the rest of the week.

The morning of the race I arrived at Kenan Stadium early to warm up and to make sure my right foot was feeling ok. I decided to wear my Brooks Pure Cadence because they control my foot compared to my more neutral and favorite, T7 racers.  Because of the higher mileage, the Cadence’s also allow me to make a smoother transition to a light heel strike if need be.   Everything felt groovy so I made my way down to the track surrounding the football field where Tar Heel great and former Carolina Panther DE Julius Peppers use to run through 300 lb. offensive linemen like an 18 wheeler would a Smart car.  The majestic beauty of Chapel Hill alone was well worth the $40 entry fee.  I began the 10 miler with a hopeful 6min/mile pace that would only last the first two miles.  Unlike the perfectly flat, sea-level Charleston that I’m use to, Chapel Hill has an abundance of hills!  I floated along to mile 3 where I began to feel minor pain in my achilles so I slowed my pace to 7min/mile and transitioned to a light heel strike to give my achilles and my calfs a rest.

I started chatting with a fellow runner while running down historic Franklin Street to keep my spirits up.  He told me that this was his first race after coming back from tearing his achilles.  What are the chances, I thought to myself, and told him of my situation.  We were running just over a 7 min pace when we got to mile six, holding back a bit due to the inevitable Laurel Hill that awaits all runners at the end of the race.  Its a conveniently placed mile long hill located around mile 8.5 – 9.5.  I was feeling comfortable and confident that I wanted to finish with a pace below 7min/mile so I sped ahead of my new found friend and attacked the small hills leading up to Laurel Hill.

At the base of Laurel hill, the four mile race had merged with our 10 mile race.  I kept thinking to myself, I should have done the 4 miler.  I’m passing most of these people and I just ran 6 more miles than they did! They better not get the same 10 mile medal thats waiting for me at the finish line (which they did)!  I hit Laurel Hill like a brick wall.  Afraid to look at my watch for my pace, I kept my head low and tried to pass as many feet as possible.  When I finally reaches the top, my legs felt like jello.  You know, the kind of jello that hadn’t even set yet.  I looked at my watch and there was only a half a mile to go so I mustered up what I had left, stormed through Kenan Stadium tunnel, sized up my competition, and sprinted around the track picking off a few runners that had thought they picked me off!  That is one of the benefits of ending a race on a track.  It gives you the opportunity to have that race within a race!  I finished 93rd according to the Gun time with a chip time of 1:08:48 accomplishing my goal of finishing below 7 min/mile pace.

After the race, I returned to a more “mileage focussed” running routine.  I was confident in my speed and now wanted to increase my weekly mileage.  I began to run 6-8 miles daily at a comfortable 8 min pace without nearly breaking a sweat!  All was well until I decided to play some hungover beach football with several high school friends at a bachelor party beach weekend.  Injuries always seem to happen when you least expect them.  I was running for a pass when I hit some loose sand and heard a pop!  That was the sound of my Peroneal Tendon on the outside my right ankle tearing the sheath that surrounds it.  It hurt like hell.  I was done with football for the day, jumped in my rental, and drove back to Charleston where I began to ice and rest.

Subluxation of the Peroneal Tendon is what my girlfriend’s-sister’s-Physical Therapist-friend diagnosed me with over the phone.  Give credit where credit is due right?  I also went to a local orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brown to verify this, and it was that exactly.  He recommended no running and to begin Physical Therapy immediately.  For those of you that have no clue what Subluxation of the blah blah blah is, please refer to the chart and paragraph below.

Ok, You see those two tendons marked with green and blue lines?  Subluxation occurs when those tendons get separated and roll from behind the fibula bone, over the bone, and to the front of the fibula bone where they are clearly not supposed to be.  This has been happening to me since the beginning of the year and I have been able to pop the blue one out since I was a kid.  It occasionally happens during a run and feels really awkward. Having no idea what it was at the time I would simply stop running and push the tendons back behind my fibula bone and continue running.  This time it was different, and very painful! So painful that I want to make sure this thing is completely healed and re-attaches itself behind the fibula bone for good before I start running again.

Because of two pesky tendons in my right foot, I’ve been unable to run for two weeks now…. Although the ankle is feeling a lot better, I’m still not 100% confident that it is completely healed. I’ll give it a few more days, but I don’t know if I can even wait that long!  I know that a patient mind perseveres in a situation like this, but every morning when I wake up my body feels like a caged coyote ready to chase down and inhale a jack rabbit for breakfast!  Biking, Core workouts, and plyometrics give me strength and help to maintain my condition, but they don’t come close to the freedom I get from running and racing.

Screw it, I’m going for a run. Half a mile here I come. Call it foolish, but it’s the only true way to find out the condition my ankle is really in. If we lived the way evolution intended us to, I would have no choice right? Run or die, and this Coyote has been hungry for weeks….Until next time friends!

-Michael

P.S. : Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to bring my lucky rabbit’s foot along for the ride 😉

Michael’s beer of the week:  Gluten free Estrella Damm Daura, Coyotes can’t have gluten….


Post Bridge Run Race Rant

The Cooper River Bridge Run happened almost month ago and this race update/rant is way overdue!  If you have read any of my previous posts you would know that I had high hopes for this year’s CRBR and planned on recording a huge 10k PR in less than 40 minutes.  My official time……..41:28.  In defense of my poor performance, the director and coordinators of the CRBR had a poor performance of their own.

Beef #1: No water for runners prior to the race.

Last year’s CRBR had and abundance of Aquafina that was handed out left and right by volunteers!  I expected the same this year only to arrive to no water bottles or water fountain.  I would’ve ran to the gas station close by, but OH YEAH, my debit card and cellphone were with my lovely girlfriend Diana who was waiting patiently for me at the finish line….It’s ok I thought, the race will start any minute and I’ll just hit the first water station and coast the rest of the way to the finish line…… right?

Beef #2:  Delayed start.

I understand races have delays, but an HOUR is a long time to wait….especially when you’re being told the whole time that the race is going to start any minute.  If they would have given us a straight answer like, “Sorry folks but we won’t be able to start the race for at least an hour because we hired a dumb ass that left 5,000 runners on buses on the other side of the bridge.” then  maybe instead of waiting in the corral staring at my watch and jumping up and down, I COULD HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR WATER!!!!  Instead, we waited while the temperature, along with our tempers, began to rise…

Beef #3:  No water post race….

Finally, an hour later the race began and I was so eager to get it over with, I decided to skip the first two water stations and get some later at mile 4 on the other side of the bridge.  I had a good 6:10/ mile pace going into the Bridge, but I fell back to an 8:30 pace going up the Mt. Pleasant side.  I knew I should’ve done more hill training, but I can’t afford the time to go train at the bridge, and there aren’t many hills, other than than the bridge, in Charleston. I thought I would make up some time on the down hill side but wasn’t able to push the pace like I wanted to.  I was greeted at the bottom of the bridge with the motivating sound of African hand drumming, which I did my notorious air drum while running dance to cheer myself up. I’m sure it cheered the Afrikaans musicians up to see a skinny white dude playing air drums too….  I was also greeted at the bottom by volunteers with plenty of water.  I pushed through the last two miles with much appreciated help from the crowd and finally crossed the finish line……

Only to see one volunteer passing out water, and of course she only had two left and I was unable to snag neither.  Confused, thirsty, and tired, I found my girlfriend Diana and began to apologize for the late start and for the fact that she was going to be late for work.  I also began to grow more and more frustrated when I couldn’t find any water.  Last year they had volunteers passing out waters everywhere.  I finally found the trucks that had the water on them……about 100 yards away from the finish line.  They were being unloaded and seemed to be very disorganized.

I stuck around and talked to some other runners that also expressed the same feelings I had about the race.  It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only person that didn’t perform to their potential.  I understand that this is a big race and there have been public apologies made by the directors.  That is nice and all, but actions always speak louder than words and there has been nothing done other than limiting the amount of entrants next year.  This may seem like a great idea, but I have a feeling the annual increasing participant streak just ran out anyway.

I propose a better idea:  Give us 2012 participants a discount to 2013’s race.  Even if it’s only 5% it would be welcomed in this “Support Your Locals” community.

Until next time, vacation, run, walk, shoot zombies and garden with a vengeance!

-Michael

My beer of the week:  Heineken…..It was Earth Day yesterday so I’m going green


Year One.

My “tempo” run went incredibly well this past Saturday morning.  I trained hard all week and it paid off with a second place finish at the Race Judicata 5k at Hampton Park.  I also recorded a new, intimidatingly fast personal record with a time of 18:27.  During the race I didn’t feel like I was running any faster than I did at the Catch the Leprechaun 5k when my time was just 19:03.  I shaved off 33 seconds in just over one week!  After my poor performance at the Leprechaun 5k I decided to ramp up my mileage and workouts, and it worked!

It was only one year ago today that I was training and preparing to run my first race ever.  Three months prior to that race, I’d made several New Year’s resolutions:

1. Get fit  2. Stop Smoking 3. Drink in moderation 4. Eat healthier.  I didn’t know this at the time, but running was helping me with every one of those resolutions.  It was my cure everything pill.  If I ran, I would get fit.  If I ran, I wouldn’t want to smoke.  If I drank a lot, I wouldn’t want to run and I would want to smoke. If a ate poorly I would run poorly. Lastly,  if I registered for one of the largest 10k’s in the world, I would HAVE to run.  By centering my life around running, I would accomplish my resolutions. It was that simple.

The race was last year’s Cooper River Bridge run and at the time I had no idea that I was about to embark on a journey that may never know actually know it’s destination. My second place finish this past weekend gives me an incredible boost of confidence going into this year’s Bridge Run.  It has also motivated me to continue training hard these last couple of days until I begin to taper my mileage off on Wednesday.  This year’s Bridge Run means a lot to me and regardless of what time or place I finish in, having fun while running it will be the most important thing.  The Bridge Run is more than just another race to me, it’s a symbol of my accomplishments and how far I’ve come in just one year.  Because it usually falls on the weekend following my birthday, it makes it even more meaningful.  It’s my present to myself and a perfect reminder of where I am and where I want to be.  Besides, who wouldn’t want to drink beer and celebrate their 27th birthday with 44,000 other crazy runners in downtown Charleston?

Since last year’s race, I’ve run seven more races including a full marathon, received a generous sponsorship from THE top running company in the world, created a small website, started a running blog, and have met new friends and made memories with old ones along the way.  That was all in Year One.  I really have only one thing on my mind for Year Two…….and it rhymes with…..Dalifying core be Froston Care-athon….I’m sure there will be more great memories shared and created down that road too, and I will be sure to let you all know about every single one!  Until then,

Happy running, hunting, walking, hunger gamesing, curling, hurling and roller derby-ing….

-Michael

Beer of the Week:  Charleston’s very own Palmetto Amber Ale. Drink happy my friends!


Reality Check

So here’s an update on my training for the Cooper River Bridge Run.  In my last post I laid out a training plan that would help me average less than 6 minute/mile for a 10k (6.2mi).  Unfortunately you and I will never know if that plan would’ve worked because after only a week I strayed from it.  Instead of steadily increasing my mileage over the past couple of weeks, my mileage actually decreased.  This was partially due to an ongoing battle with a bastard of a blister that kept getting worse  and a lack of motivation…..

The blisters have finally begun to heal thanks to my friend and co-worker Cindy.  After hearing me complain about the blister one day at work, Cindy went to the foot care section of a store and bought me a “toe condom”.  That’s right…I had know idea these things even existed but its been my best friend since. I just slide it on, go for a run, and can’t even tell that it’s there! It’s like I’m not wearing anything down there…. I’m not sure what it’s made of but it’s very durable and offers the perfect amount of “skin like” protection…… They come in one size fits all, so some of you might have to trim yours…..Me, I just left it the way it was 😉

All jokes aside, that thing has helped me out tremendously.  As for the crusty blister below it, I let it dry for most of the day and use the Band-Aid Activ-Flex adhesive bandages on it while I run.  They work excellent in spots that need full mobility and also offer a more “skin like” protection…haha….ok I’m done I swear….Back to running!

The blisters were just a complement to my lack of motivation.  Call it wishful thinking, but I guess I thought my times would just magically continue to decrease regardless of the miles I put in.  But when I crossed the finish line at last weeks Catch the Leprechaun 5k huffing and puffing at only a 6:09/mile pace, I knew my goal was probably out of reach.  Although I came in 13th overall (880 participants), placed second in my age group (25-29 yrs), and caught that damn Leprechaun, I knew that I could’ve worked harder for a better time (19:03).

       

With only 10 days to go before the big race, this week is crucial.  I’ve ramped up the miles and my workout ethic in an attempt to gain back the ground I’ve lost.  Because I normally train alone, I’ve scheduled a small 5k race this Saturday to serve as a tempo run.  Hopefully it will keep my competitive spirit alive through next week.  My new, more realistic/settingthe bar a little lower goal is to try and run this year’s Bridge run in less than 40 minutes.  Compared to last years time of 50:10, this would be a great accomplishment for me. I’ll be sure to let you know how the “tempo” run goes on Saturday morning and as always,

Happy running, shooting, walking, job hunting, granite topping, facebooking, and bird watching……

-Michael

Michael’s Beer choice of the Week:

Dos Equis Amber on Draft and in a frozen 36oz mug at your local Mexican restaurant. Stay thirsty my friends!

Click here to see the new commercial…..hilarious