Life Goals and other Random Nonsense: April 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Last Minute Marathon Preparations

I haven't been sleeping very well the last few nights which I think is mostly due to some nervous excitement (and the fact that my wife has been working nights at the hospital this week). I was relieved to read this bit about sleeping from Last-Minute Marathon Tips:

You may sleep well, or you may not. Don’t worry about it if you don’t sleep at all. Many runners I work with every year don’t sleep at all the night before and have the best race of their lives. Of course, don’t try to go sleepless, but if it happens, it is not a problem.
I spent too much time last night trying to pick out the perfect marathon music mix. I was trying to pick ~5 hours of music from what I have stored on my computer and my sister gave me an iTunes gift card so I had all that to choose from also. This was a case of too much choice being a bit overwhelming.... but I think I got a good mix. Some rap/hip hop songs like The Seed 2.0, and Ninety Nine (Flash the Message), and The Whole World have been good solid training tunes, and then I added in a few others from random genres like Road to Nowhere, Bittersweet Symphony, Dani California, When I come Around, What a Wonderful World and of course the Rocky Theme. Very few people have ever told me I had good taste in music, so feel free point out how cheesy my selection is.

I meant to blog about this a while ago, but I started training with the Nike + iPod early on, and found it to be a great way keep my pace and music really does add to the enjoyment of the run. At $30, it really is one of the best investments I made, and you don't have to buy Nike shoes to make use of it. Podophile's shoe mod was an inspiration for me to try Caselogic holder and it has worked well with my Mizunos.

My "power song" (the one that comes on when I hit the center button - to power me up the hills) is Lose Yourself by Eminem for both the beat and the message:
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!

This morning I had granola and yogurt with a banana and a PowerBar energy gel (which I have been eating 1 of every morning for the last few days to make sure I can tolerate it first thing). I am skipping the official "Pasta Party" tonight, but will be looking for a good Italian restaurant in Monterey. I am a sucker for the fettuccine alfredo, but I think I will avoid the cheesy sauce tonight and stick with marinara. Shortly I am headed to Jamba Juice for a smoothie, and getting on the road to Monterey... see you at the Finish Line!

Water Bottle Woes

The first few weeks of training, the runs were short enough so that I did not need to carry any water or Gatorade with me, I could just drink before and after the run. Then as the runs have grown longer, I have tried a few solutions to carry liquids along the way.

I tried drinking from the water fountains on the street - but I guess I have become a water snob, because that water was literally hard to swallow. In addition, the challenge of mapping a route with enough working water fountains at the desired intervals along the way meant I was more limited in where I could run than I really wanted to be.

My sister gave me an Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus (pictured above) which is a water bottle designed specifically to be held while running. I did not actually run with it, because carrying it around the house, I realized that having to hold something in my hands for 2-3 hours was likely to aggravate the Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) I have developed in both my wrists from too much keyboarding and mousing. I ended up bringing the Ultimate Direction back to REI and exchanged it for an Amphipod RunLite 2+ (pictured below).

The Amphipod is a belt meant to be worn around the waist with two small bottles and a pouch. Since this was the first water belt system I tried, I thought it was a big improvement over having to carry a bottle in my hands, but after a few weeks of trying, I gave up on the Amphipod. Although they describe it as a "no-bounce" design, I had to keep adjusting it while running to keep it from bouncing around on my hips and waist. I could have lived with the bouncing, but the other problem was that it was hard to keep the bottles clipped in to the holders. The bottles fell off a few times, so I had to check every few minutes to make sure they were still there. But then on a 9 mile run, I did not notice when one fell off, and I lost a bottle. I sent an email to the company explaining what happened, and they told me to call in and they could get me a new bottle, but before I had a chance to call them, the same thing happened and I lost the second bottle on another run.

I was explaining the problem to a good friend who previously trained for a marathon and she mentioned she had a FuelBelt I should try. The bottles had things growing in them from sitting unused for a few years in a drawer, so I ordered a fresh set of bottles and have been using her belt with great success for the last month!

Like the Amphipod, the FuelBelt frees up my hands from having to carry anything and it has a pocket for my keys and some PowerGel. But unlike the Amphipod, on the Fuelbelt the bottles stay put, and the FuelBelt really does not bounce around as I am running!

My one complaint with the FuelBelt is that the caps for the bottles are not designed very well. The spout tends to leak a little bit which results in me spilling water/Gatorade on my self as I am trying to drink or even worse, they can leak in the car or my gym bag on the way to a run. Water leaking isn't a big deal, but I don't really want Gatorade all over my clothes or car.

I just looked back at the website to get the image above and now I realize that when I got the new bottles, I did not get the newest model, so giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe their newer models do not leak... one can only hope!

Now I am just trying to decide if I should wear the belt on the day of the marathon, or I should take my chances with the aid stations along the way. I am leaning towards wearing the belt because I want to carry my energy gels anyway, but maybe I think I will just use 2 of the bottles to lighten the load.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Marathon Route (2) - This time on Google Earth!

For those of you who can't make it in person, here are some snapshots of the Big Sur International Marathon Route which I created in Google Earth.

Note: No these are not "official" images endorsed by either the Big Sur International Marathon or Google Earth... I mapped the route on Google Earth, took some screen shots, and then added on the logos to make them look good.

Driving the route in person was awesome, but driving it on Google Earth was almost as amazing! I will find a way to post the KML file soon, so you can "fly" the course yourself on Google Earth.

Update: Here is the link to the KML file and here are some helpful instructions on how to change your "Camera Tilt" all the way to the right (80 degrees), and the "Camera Range" to the left (150 meters) to feel like you are on the course.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Marathon Route

I went down to run the last 8 miles of the course on Sunday and ended up driving over the entire thing to scope it out. My first impression: wow is it hilly! And of course it is also scenic and beautiful (if you are into that whole "cliffs overlooking the artic blue ocean" thing).

By popular request, above is a satelite image of the route, courtesy of Google Maps and here's the link for a map you can zoom in on. What neither of them really show are all the hills... did I mention it was hilly!

Below is the image provided by to give you a sense, but that doesn't really do the hills justice either. If you are really interested, in seeing the hills, I recommend Google Earth or of course, you could always come on down on Sunday and run it with me! :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

300 miles and 30 years

Two weeks ago I turned 30, and this past weekend I completed my 300th training mile. Both feel like pretty significant milestones. According to the training plan, 20 miles is longest run I am scheduled to complete before the actual day of the marathon (April 29th, 2007) and I completed that run 2 weeks ago. I am now only two weeks from the actual marathon, and I had intended to write so much more often! From what I have read, 20 miles is about as far as a person can run before they "hit the wall." A phrase used to describe the body's way of saying "you probably should not go any farther!" Completing a marathon seems to be in large parts about finding a way to get over, around, or through that wall, but I guess I won't know that until the day of the run!