Friday, December 26, 2008

50/50 by Dean Karnazes - Book Review

I just finished reading this account of Dean Karnazes' running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. I have already seen the movie and saw that the book was in the library, so I checked it out. This is an interesting book, but having read his first book, Ultramarathon Man, this book is not nearly as interesting. While I felt that non-runners might enjoy U M, I can't say that about this book. In fact, even Dean seems to have had to throw in tips and observations to try to make the book more of a how-to guide. This book is mainly 50 race reports. So if you like reading those, you'll like the book.
I have had a wonderful Christmas. Wonderful because I have been around family. Joy is watching the light of happiness in a child's eyes.
My training is going well, I'm starting to ramp my miles back up. My upcoming races are mainly trail runs, so I will try to get more time on the trails. I have several goals for 2009, but will write about them next week. I will tell you that I did register for the Boston Marathon, and my application has been accepted.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas rifle

The Christmas Rifle by Rian B. Anderson

"Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving. It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what..Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on. After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? Yeah," I said, "Why?""I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit? Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp."We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out."We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people. I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine. At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life Merry Christmas Everyone Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Time off in the Dominican Republic

For the last week, my wife and I have been in the Dominican Republic celebrating our 29th anniversary. During that time my running miles have gone way down. Less than 25 miles a week. But that is a good thing. I'm not sure I could have wound down my mileage otherwise, although the cold weather in Oklahoma may have been able to accomplish the same thing. We enjoyed our time away, but travelling at this time of the year is a huge headache. While we stayed at an all inclusive resort, within the D R people always have their hands out, and I detest that. I'm not singling out the D R, every country I've been in has been this way. And it was the same way in Miami, where we stayed a couple of days. More and more I'm convinced that customer service is almost dead. We had several occasions where we were lied to about why things didn't happen the way they were supposed to. But tis the season, so I'm not going to dwell on that. We are home, safe and sound and all is well.

Feliz Navidad Próspero Año y Felicidad!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Route:--Elev. Avg:3819 ft
Location:Oracle, AZElev. Gain:-1762 ft
Date:12/07/08Up/Downhill: [+692/-2454]
Time:07:29 AMDifficulty:4.1 / 5.0

Distance: 26.17 miles
Speed:7.0 mph
Pace:8' 32 /miHeart Rate:163 bpm (Avg)
Calories:2778182 bpm (Peak)
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
Heart Rate (bpm)
Heart Rate Zones
In Zone
In Zone
Zone 5167 - 1851h 22m36% 9.67 mi
Zone 4148 - 1672h 34m69% 18.14 mi
Zone 3130 - 1480h 00m0% 0.07 mi
Zone 2111 - 1300h 00m0% 0.01 mi
Zone 193 - 1110h 00m0% 0.02 mi
(none)out of range0h 00m0% 0.00 mi
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Heart
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 00-0' 327.5+0.5161-220 ft
28' 27-0' 057.1+0.1164-36 ft
38' 19-0' 137.2+0.2164-43 ft
48' 40+0' 086.9-0.1164+6 ft
58' 25-0' 077.1+0.1162-39 ft
68' 24-0' 087.1+0.1153-170 ft
78' 24-0' 087.1+0.1153-144 ft
88' 24-0' 087.1+0.1154-118 ft
98' 25-0' 077.1+0.1155-121 ft
108' 31-0' 017.0+0.0156-76 ft
118' 47+0' 156.8-0.2160+23 ft
129' 14+0' 426.5-0.5164+65 ft
138' 28-0' 047.1+0.0159-78 ft
148' 43+0' 116.9-0.2161-55 ft
158' 29-0' 037.1+0.0159-91 ft
168' 32+0' 007.0-0.0163-72 ft
178' 29-0' 037.1+0.0164-114 ft
188' 23-0' 097.2+0.1166-85 ft
198' 30-0' 027.0+0.0166-82 ft
208' 29-0' 037.1+0.0168-59 ft
218' 29-0' 037.1+0.0169-56 ft
228' 35+0' 037.0-0.1169-49 ft
238' 27-0' 057.1+0.1170-62 ft
248' 31-0' 017.0+0.0171-49 ft
258' 47+0' 156.8-0.2173-3 ft
268' 36+0' 047.0-0.1173-32 ft
end8' 45+0' 136.8-0.2175+3 ft
Versus average of 8' 32 min/mile

Posted from

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holualoa Tucson Marathon

Well it's over. My purpose in running this marathon was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For me to qualify, I needed to run 3:45 or better. This is an 8:35 average pace. Since Tuesday, I've been writing this blog in my mind trying to figure out how I could explain not achieving my goal. Why?, because I haven't run what I've felt like is a good long run. Sure, I've run over 30 miles three times, but saying "run" is to use the term loosely. All of those runs were really in preparation to pace a runner in the Motherroad 100 miler. And they were all run at a pace over 12 minute miles. But I had also been running pretty good tempo miles, so I knew I still had a chance. Anyway, my trip to Tucson was uneventful. Planes on time, no problems renting a car and finding the marathon expo. The expo was very small, but everything went smoothly. This race used one of the new style chips that tears off your bib and loops through your shoelaces. It's a throwaway. On my way to the expo I passed a Trader Joe's. So I knew where I would be buying dinner. I stopped there on my way back, got a sandwich and salad and went to my hotel to settle in and watch football. First I watched Florida take care of Alabama, which I figured they'd do, and then I watched Oklahoma take care of Missouri. I slept pretty good considering that I usually don't sleep well the night before a marathon. I got up at 4 and got dressed, got some coffee and headed to the parking lot to pick up the bus to the start. Got to the start and it was cold, but not as cold as I had expected. I decided not to wear anything other than shorts and my running club t-shirt top. I had gloves and long pants on but just warmed up in them, and then threw everything else into my drop bag. A countdown from 10, a horn and we're off. If any one plans to run this in the future, email me. I'm not going to go into all the ins and outs of this course, but let's just say that if you expect to be running down hill all the way, you're mistaken. But it's still a fast course. After reading other peoples experience with this course, I decided that I would let it take me along, that is bank time where I could and give it back where I needed to. I settled into my pace, still with doubts in my mind. Could I hold this pace and not crash and burn around 18-20 miles. My heart rate was running higher than I liked, but it was do or die. Also my Garmin will sometimes read high at first, but if I stop, let the rate drop, then start again it will usually stabilize. But there was going to be no stopping for that in this race. So I just pushed on with it running high. Eventually it did drop to where I wanted it, but after 12 miles it went back up. This race takes about a 4 mile detour into an area called the Biosphere. While I'm not sure I ever saw the Biosphere, this is where you have to give back time you've banked, and trust that you will bank some more after you leave here. This is a very hilly area, and I dropped to over nine minute miles based on what I had read from previous runners. Around mile 4, a lady asked what my goal was, then said that was hers also. She said maybe we can help each other and I said ok. We pretty much stayed together until after we left the Biosphere. Then she started dropping back. I had to keep pushing if I was going to make my goal. My left calf started hurting, not much but it made me think I might have problems up ahead. I remembered that I had some Endurolyte capsules, but also I have problems swallowing pills and capsules when I've been running for a while. I decided to chew them rather than swallow them whole, and after a while they seemed to work. I kept holding my pace, and when I hit mile 20 with about 3 minutes to spare, I started thinking I might be able to do this. But I also knew the wall generally resided in this area. But I kept pushing. Mile 21, 22, 23, I hit 23 with about 27 minutes to go to make my goal and I was thinking, I'm going to do this. My pace was faltering, but it was still just below 9 minute miles, and that was good enough to get me in. I started pushing near the end, you know it starts getting good to you when you smell victory, and I saw the clock was reading 3:42 plus. As I was nearing the finish line, I heard the guy was calling out names and cities, then I heard him call my name and Oklahoma City. I crossed in 3:43:01 chip time, 2 minutes to spare, sweet. I got my medal, some water and walked around for a bit. Then I went back to the finish line in time to see my new friend finish. She was beat, but said she felt ok, just couldn't maintain the pace. I then walked around some more and decided to wait to see a friend who had moved from Oklahoma to Colorado. I knew she was running, and had seen her during the out and back to the Biosphere. She was running with the 4 hour pace group, and I figured she'd be able to hold that. I saw her come in, talked to her for a while and then headed to the bus back to my car. Before I got to the buses, I saw a guy whose blog I read named Dane. He's a pretty fast runner, and is famous for having run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. He did it to raise money for a charity, and called it fiddy2. I have linked to both his blog and charity. You also might want to read his race report , since it gives more course information than mine. I then took the bus to my car headed to the airport and now I'm home. Hurting and sore, but I've felt worse. Happy to have achieved my goal, and in the next few days will decide if I will register for the Boston Marathon.