Friday, July 19, 2013

Run Judy Run - Clydesdale Division Marathon

Run Judy Run - Clydesdale Division Marathon

Campaigns and Marathons have more in common than you think, and while I’ve been involved with quite a few political campaigns that were marathons in that they were very long races, I’d never actually run an official 26.2 mile Marathon. If you have seen my frame you’d say to yourself it’s just not made for that kind of distance.

One of the very handsome characteristics I’ve been discovering in the Running World is that there is a lot of love there amongst runners, a lot of encouragement, a lot of comradery, and a lot of different Running Divisions, catered for you to compete in, that break down with age, gender and weight.

The Clydesdale Division for men 200 lbs. and over is one division I signed up for and the corresponding Division for Women is called the Athena Division. I think it’s brilliant. When it comes to my 47 year old, 210 pound frame, without the age and weight divisions I’d feel sunk without a friendly hand to dig me out of the hole, and on the alternative I could actually be performing better and never be recognized for it without the divisions.

One thing I’ve noticed is there is abit of a void when it comes to training advice/ procedures, equipment recommendations, nutritional tidbits that might be more accommodating to the Age Division and Clydesdale Division that I’m in. In short we as a running class are lacking in leadership simply because the “fastest” times crossing the finish line are the stars, and frankly those stars are not geared up to remotely understand what we are going through.

Their shoes don’t wear out as fast from the extra weight on the road wearing and tearing on the rubber soles; their skin doesn’t rub in places an extra 100 lbs finds friction on; bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles act much differently with added weight, and it requires a lot more time and energy and stamina to get 200+ over the finish line then it does 150 lbs.

Imagine if you will- asking the top 10 finishers of any Marathon to run the race with a weight handicap or belt of 50 to 100 pounds? Imagine the bewildered look on their faces-The new problems that would cloud their heads? The new performance challenges they would find as massive hurdles to overcome?

When it comes to running Marathons I’m certainly a novice but in that green experience I’ve picked up a few things in my training that just might encourage some of the other Clydesdales' who have avoided running Marathons, or training for Marathons, simply because they didn’t think they could be good runners. Believe me, there is great satisfaction in breaking through the walls and overcoming these challenges that many say you can't, and simply discourage.

My Past Running Experience

Competitive athletic sports have been a big part of my life, but I never imagined in my life-time ever contemplating, training or even entering a full Marathon. Those Marathoners were absolutely nuts in my past experience with track, wrestling, and football all of which I lettered in my high school years.

I played football for 13 years, including one year in College. As a running back I was quick and had a 6.7 yard per carry average my Senior Year as well as being Best Offensive Player and MVP of my team. In track I ran short races including the 110, 240 meter races, threw the Discus, and was on the relay race teams again at the short distances which were a lot of fun. I've also golfed quite a bit competitively and professionally and walking a course in 100 degree weather with the PGA dress code takes being in shape to perform.

At the beginning of the year in school sports we’d always have to run about 4 miles the first few days to kind of get our body in to shape and I thought this was a long distance and never ever cared to run it any more than absolutely necessary.

Now throughout my life after College I’ve been known to get out there and do that 4 miles as I recognized, always did, that it was a pretty good distance to shape up your body and keep your form if you had one too many pizza slices. I always thanked God I could run, never have taken it for granted, and have never thought about setting it completely aside.

Without the rigors of training, and with age, our metabolism slows and the natural consequence, especially if you’re eating habits remain the same, is finding your wardrobe seems to be shrinking in size and the scales are tipping as they did when you were younger and could eat whatever you wanted. Life’s dance must adapt and change, but can in short remain fun and fulfilling.

How did I got into Longer Distances?

Another thing I like is dancing and it was dancing that put me in touch just by happen-stance about a year ago now with one of the best female Marathon Runners in the whole Country. Molly in my eyes resided on Mt. Olympus itself and truthfully she just finished the Leadville Marathon third for women (23rd overall) and that is after recuperation of a knee surgery just a few months ago. Last year (2012) she won it! I didn't know any of that when I met her.

What got me curious was that she could start dancing in the front of the evening and keep dancing till the party was over. I mean dancing hip hop toe pop’n light footed bouncing-well, you could call it the real challenging aerobics classes for 3 hours.

She’s awesome but it was more than her radiant smile, genuine flamboyant personality and less then 3% body fat that got me curious. It was her stamina. How could she never leave the dance deck and not care if her hair was soaking wet from sweating?

I danced by her side for 16 weeks straight all the while I kept inquiring more and more about her life time of experience in running. We both loved the dance and were content to just have fun and enjoy friendship. I provided good cover for her dancing space to guys less polite and wishing to invade it which I was happy to do. We definitely represented two completely different body types and the curious question and challenge in my mind formulated, “Could I actually do what she was doing?” I nominated Molly as my un-official coach.

About the 2nd Saturday I met Molly I woke up the next morning inspired and wondering: “How far could I run before hitting the wall?” I’d never actually challenged myself to the question but Molly had inspired me so I got up one Sunday Morning and started running.

Now when you’re running away from your house and you don’t know how far you can run it pays to remember you actually have to run the same distance back to your house to get home. In my-self challenge I pictured running 10 miles-I made it 7 before I was reduced to aiming my run over to my ex-wife’s house hoping to get a ride home back.

Of course as it happened she wasn’t home so I sat on the steps absolutely with my nose against the wall I’d hit so hard. Hitting the wall simply refers to the process your body goes through when it can’t go on any more. Glycogen is the easy fuel for muscles and when it runs out your burning fat which is not comfortable with your muscles and kind of represents going back to the dark ages of manufacturing reserves- Picture cutting the wheat with a hand blade rather than a tractor-combine.

I didn’t even know how far I’d run exactly till I clocked it one day, but in my mind it was the end of the road. To hell with Molly, she was crazy.

Every week I’d return to the dance floor and there Molly would be dance’n up a storm and I’d be huff’n and a puff’n like an old dragon doing his best. She was always very kind and asked how’d I’d done that week running. It took me awhile to venture off my 4 mile post again.

In my own style rather than clock off miles, I began aiming for land marks and then back home. Out to McDonalds and back without stopping. Then I’d get in my car and clock how far it was. Seven miles for me, and I got pretty good at that one doing it about three times a week.

The winter came in and it was a cold -one- one of the coldest I recall. I remember waking up about 6am putting two pair of sweats on, three shirts and a pull over, gloves and a hat to run in a blizzard one morning with the temperature about 10 below. I was making my own tracks now in four inches of snow and thought if I could run in this I could run in anything.

While doing things like this may seem crazy, it also gives you something to lock up in your library when things are tough or your challenged with a circumstance. Every challenge or hurdle you give yourself goes into your quiver and can be pulled out as a memory to give you a reference point in overcoming other challenges or hurdles you face. Confidence is a jewel in running and building it a necessity.

The consistency and challenge to myself was rewarding and I credit being stronger to never getting really sick that winter. As I pat myself on the back and thought I was doing so good I told Molly of my continued running and one Saturday night as I was begging for tips from her she asked me, “Is there any hills in your run or is it just flat?”, then batting her eyelashes she looked back at me as I crawled in the hole she’d made for me with one sentence. “No”, I replied.
Molly and I Dancing

“Hills.. she wanted me to run hills?” in my 7 miles I thought. That’s crazy. Of course there was the right turn at McDonalds I could make, up about a mile and a parallel road called Harrison Blvd in Ogden, Utah that had some hills in it. One was really steep and about a quarter of a mile and the other was gradual and about a mile but I could turn down to my house from there and clocked it at 8 miles.

I remember the first time I did that run. Winter wasn’t over but I didn’t stop. I made the hills at the slowest pace you could make without walking, just putting one foot in front of the other. I was so excited to text Molly and say, “There are your scallywagging hills, done without stopping.”

Molly had a friend she brought dancing once in awhile whose name was Chad Carson and he, I learned, had done an amazing amount of ‘hundred milers’. Chad worked at McKay Dee Hospital and was in the Surgery room as an anesthesiologist, but it was great talking to him and l was filled with as many questions as I had answers to.

I had developed a heel bruise. He told me about orthopedic inserts and explained, more than a heel problem, it was an arch support problem. He was right. I have a very high arch, another indication I was not built for long distance running.

So, I bought a new pair of shoes and the pain was gone within days from the additional good arch support. Molly had told me I needed to get some good running shoes but I didn’t run out and buy her recommendation and it wasn’t long before it caught up with me.

I had taken good notes on my phone with every tid-bit of help I had received from both of them, so it was easy to go back to and apply when the time was right. Sometimes you can’t justify spending $150 to $200 dollars on a pair of running shoes when your budget says $30, so I learned to keep my eye out at Ross’s for a good pair which I was able to find.

Molly said I could get about 1,000 miles out of her recommendation but as I discovered and proved an extra 100 pounds cuts that down significantly with the wear and tear of the sole ripping on the pavement.

As spring began to unfold my hill run was getting easier and faster. I increased it by another hill and three more miles for a total of eleven and I also begin searching on the Internet on articles about “loading”. For Marathons that has to do with eating carbs and properly fueling your muscles for distance running, and I also begin to ponder a running a half Marathon.

Preparing For My First Marathon

As I studied training recommendations and varying opinions, questions began to rise up in my mind. It took a lot more calories to get 210 lbs across a finish line then it did 175 lbs. or 105 lbs. And while some training programs recommended alternating one and two hours of running a day in a four month build up before a Marathon I noticed a big difference between eight miles and sixteen and most of the training recommendations were not building my confidence or what I termed my muscle stamina.

One day I risked big and did a sixteen miler that had yet an additional two hills in it I got home but felt it was again the distance that held my nose against the wall. However, I was so thrilled that I had passed the half Marathon Distance of 13.1 miles that I wasn’t discouraged but rather encouraged. It was about that time, 60 days ago, I started pondering wither I could actually skip the half Marathon competition and go for the Full 26.2 mile Marathon.

After a couple more “sixteens” spread apart at least by a couple of days for recovery my muscles demanded, I ventured for a twenty-two miler. I was sadly beat down and had to walk-run-walk about mile twenty and finally had to just simply walk the last two miles home.

Run-walk-run was a technique I‘d read about to help people get through a marathon. While it may get you through a marathon my own style was not satisfied in walking. I just didn’t want to quit running. Even when you’re at your slowest pace of running you are going fast. Things slow way down when you “brake” your gate to a walk. Understanding this helps you understand that as long as you’re running things like distances your covering behind you are accumulating very fast. This mental inspiration helped me understand that even a slow pace of running was ok and would bring its reward.

I have noticed many runners out-pacing themselves as they past me. “Sure”, I thought, “ They past me but while their speed was a signature on their back to me their stamina was not .” Could they keep that pace for 26.2 miles, or even 10 miles? “Probably not”, so goes the positive affirmation of the Clydesdales, the real work-horses of the Marathon.

While the fastest time is rewarded in a Marathon isn’t it interesting that “stamina” might be measured by those in the middle of the field. The difference of time on the road and a continued pace is significantly different for someone finished with their Marathon in 3 hours compared to someone taking 6 hours. Think of being on a football field for 3 hours verses 6 or 10 hours and a real appreciation comes into your mind for those making the Marathon at the slower paces.

My green experience taught me there was a significant difference in eight miles, sixteen miles, and a twenty-six miler. Each distance required a different strategy and more importantly a different “stamina”.

When your foot hits the pavement and your muscles lift off it so many times effectually you ligaments, tendons, muscles and even your bones require what seems conditioning for the affect.

This build up of “stamina” is more important than building your “wind” in the beginning. It became a clear goal for me to work on. No matter how much wind I had if my feet couldn’t take the pounding I wasn’t going anywhere.
First get the stamina and then the wind will come, and you can shorten your time.

Last week, I entered the Desert News Classic 24th of July Marathon that runs from Park City to Salt Lake City Utah. I hear it’s hard on the knees with a steep decent and I’m thinking the hills I ran was good training to build up muscle to withstand this pounding.

This race has significance and distinction, while its my first, its also honorably noted as the oldest Marathon Race west of the Continental Divide and follows the same path Utah pioneers made into the Salt Lake Valley.

Over the last two and a half weeks I’ve run 145 miles. The longest has been 24 miles which I was very excited about because I didn’t have any walks, and while it took me 5 hours, there were four pretty good hills to climb in it, (however on the down side I haven't had any training runs that high and I may suffer for that.) But that hasn't excited me as much as the fact that this week I’ve run four 16 milers and one 8 miler with one day off. Before I needed at least two days to recover from a 16 miler and doing two back to back was impossible. Another hurdle cleared.

This is the stamina and quick recovery I have sought in my training even though some may call it over training. I don't call it over training as a Clydesdale, I call it getting used to the work load because worse things can happen when your not used to it and your muscles just don't have stamina. One of the scary things that happened to me though after I entered was a nickel blister that formed right in my arch after my first 16 miler this week. What a place to get a blister! Would this stop me from my needed training before the race?

I reflected on my experience of blisters forming on my hands from working with horses and on the fruit farms and the necessity to work the next day, and promptly popped it and soaked it in as hot of salt water as I could stand for 15 seconds at a time.

The next morning I did another 16 miles on it and it had toughened up significantly enough not to tear. This again gave me another arrow of confidence to understand that I can push through some difficulties without stopping.

That’s the stamina I’ve been working so hard for and I feel is coming. I’ve been able to stay healthy. Nutrition and rest has been just as much a part of that as the conditioning or training. Perhaps I’ll write a little about that in another post.

For now I’ve got just a few more work-outs before my first Marathon that I have confidence I will complete, as long as I run my own race and stick with the pace I have confidence and stamina in. There are no hills to climb in this Marathon so who knows maybe that will help me in my time because Molly challenge me do some hills and I got used to running them. Maybe she's not crazy at all.

I’ve had to buy a new pair of shoes again, and have got to break them in before the race a little because the tread wore off the heels of my others. I’ve gained some understanding in beginning my carb loading even 3 days before the big race in a great article I found here.

Until after the marathon I wish all my fellow Clydesdales strength in every extension and stamina in every mile.

Post Note: Video from Marathon

Cody Robert Judy

Also check out some Good Articles I've come across:

How to avoid the porta potty during a race
That heel pain

Race Day Tips

The Right way to Carb load

Clydesdale Training Advise