Make a list, check it twice

This post was originally written in May of 2012, but in honor of this week’s Vancouver Marathon and the beginning of Fall Marathon training and all of the hopes and  dreams that go along with that, we thought it was time to read it again.

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by Minh Duong

The day before Vancouver, I sat down in my hotel and put together some thoughts.

  1. Be Patient
  2. Trust your training
  3. Love every moment
  4. Only take with you what are willing to carry–physically and emotionally
  5. Remember why you did this

Be patient

Coming off a hot Austin marathon, I said that I would run only one marathon ever.  I had my reasons: huge time commitment; I love sleeping in; it was off my bucket list; Texas marathons had a chance of being hot, etc.

The main reason is that I am not a long distance runner.  Many around Rogue might be surprised by that statement but it’s true.  I would say that I’m faster than average but that doesn’t equate in experience or skill at the longer distances.  I’ve run mainly 10Ks and 5Ks for many years but Austin 2011 was only my first full and San Antonio 2011 was only my second half.  There is a world of difference in opening full throttle for 10K and strategically running 26.2.  I had experienced that at longer distances, I would start to cramp up if I ran moderately fast especially in heat.

Looking back, I was impatient. Transitioning from middle distance to longer distances takes time.  Deciding to run Vancouver, I approached it with the goal of finishing strong and not qualifying for Boston. Boston would take a few seasons.  For the race at hand, that meant going out slow.

Trust your training

For a while other Rogues like my sister had been trying to get me to join Team Rogue but it was an early morning marathon group.  The target race for the spring was Boston or Vancouver.

Training for Austin, I had done a lot running at too fast a pace.  Even though it wasn’t advised, I ran faster than marathon pace for too many long runs.  By the time Austin arrived, I was a little beat up.

With Team Rogue, I followed the regimen which included learning to run easy.  I didn’t try to “head bang” anymore.  It took me days to recover from Austin.  By the next day after Vancouver, I was fine.

For Vancouver, my coach Jon Schrup worked out plans of 3:25 and we changed it to 3:15.  Most of all I didn’t want a repeat of Austin and San Antonio where I hobbled to the finish.  The plan was broken down into 5K segments and instead of steady pace, we had trained for progressive runs.

Love every moment

The hotels rooms in Vancouver at the special marathon rate went quick so I didn’t get a room in the same hotel with everyone else in Team Rogue.  Strangely enough, all the Team Rogue women who initially wanted to run Vancouver had dropped out but that worked out. I ended staying in the same hotel as the other spring marathon Rogues.  I didn’t want to be part of that Team Rogue sausagefest anyway. 😉

It was beautiful cold and sunny morning and all the Rogues coincidentally wound up in the same subway car for the ride.  While walking to the start, we all happened to catch Allison Macsas starting her half.  I gear checked my stuff and headed to the nearest toilets in the first corral. After about 5 minutes waiting in line, a volunteer was ejecting people from Corral 1 who weren’t supposed to be there even though they were just waiting to use the toilets.  The runners protested but left the corral.  If it was a race in the US, there would have been more than words.  #EveryonewasKungFufighting

The first 5K was mixed.  I was right on target for the first mile but sped up too much for miles two and three.  I blame it on adrenaline and that hot blonde I was chasing. Who can blame me?   I was supposed to average 8:03 but ended up at 7:42.  I saw Michael Wedel pass me and kept just ahead of Ryan Zysk.   I ran into Schrup around 5K and said to him as was running too fast.

For the second 5K, I was focused on slowing down and conserving.  At this point Ryan caught me so we ran together.  We began coming down from the first set of hills. If you can call them that.  At one point a woman was yelling, “You’re almost at the top of the hill!” Ryan and I remarked to each other “That was a hill?”. I had slowed to 8:03 and was being cautious.

The 3rd 5K was uneventful and I don’t remember much of it.  I slowed down based on the hills and feel.  At the end of the segment, I began to pull away from Ryan according to plan and had been averaging running around 7:50.

From 15-20K, we ran by the University of British Columbia and there was an older man advertising for the “Bare Buns 5K”.  He was wearing nothing but a barrel.  That’s what it looked like, and I did not care to investigate further.  I was pacing at 7:30 here with a long downhill.

At the halfway point, they diverted us through a parking lot which I thought was strange but my right knee started bothering me.  For the next 10K, I sped up slightly.  The only thing I really remember was leaving the park behind and running on the bridge that didn’t crest until the end.  I was holding pace at 7:28.

Up until this point everything was going to plan. Around the 20 mile marker, my right quad locked up along with the right calf.  I almost sat down from a sudden loss of balance. From nowhere, Schrup came up and gave me a water.  I took the last of my GU and told him I was going to coast in.  There was some miscommunication as Schrup may have thought I was going to walk the rest.

The next 10K was gingerly trying to finish.  The main problem was the sea wall.  Now on a normal run or in the middle of the marathon, running along the sea wall would have been pretty.  At the end, people are gritting teeth and hanging on and it was unendingly long.  I slowed down to 8:42 by this point hoping I wouldn’t cramp every mile like had happened in Austin.

Past the 35K marker, a woman in pink shorts passed me and something overtook me.  “Oh no she DID-NT (two snaps)”.  So I sped up to 8:21.  By this time it was warm with the sun was high in the sky, and I had taken off my arm warmers and hat.  But running along the sea wall meant sudden gusts of cold winds.  I’m pretty sure the sudden gusts caused my nipples to instantly punch two holes in my singlet.

Past 40K, it was starting to get a bit blurry but I swear that at one point we were running on the sidewalk next to pedestrians.  Schrup met me near the end as I was trying to speed up.  Speeding up brought multiple spasms and he advised me not to slow down to the safe side of redlining.  The last 2.2K was at 7:30 pace.  I finished at 3:26 which was a 20 minute PR from Austin.  Then became the second phase of Vancouver:  the journey of obscene eating.  (Warning many animals were harmed during the gluttony for which I am unapologetic).

Only take with you what are willing to carry–physically and emotionally

I didn’t bring my GPS watch because I hadn’t learned to use it yet (ancient Chinese riddle: Can anyone really learn how use a GPS watch completely).  So I relied on my manual watch and feel.  During training, I purposely didn’t take anything during the runs because I did not want to rely on gels.   For the marathon, I had one GU and portioned it for a third every hour.

Unlike Austin I had a more realistic goal so there wasn’t too much pressure.  When circumstances changed, I changed the goal without any hesitation.  Finishing with a PR was the new goal.  Going minimalist helped me to focus on the race and not anything else.

Remember why you did this

So I had all these valid logical reasons not to run another marathon after Austin or so I thought.  Then in November my friend Stacy died.  Stacy wasn’t a runner but had ran her first 5K (Race for the Cure) in the spring after battling cancer.  It had been a dream of hers and she wanted to run other races, perhaps longer distances.  But the cancer came back, and she didn’t get another chance.

It was a cold slap of reality because she was my age.  See, I didn’t actually have reasons; they were just excuses. For many of us, life presents challenges like work and family that do not allow for us to train and run a marathon.  Stacy had trained and ran despite chemo.  Compared to her, I didn’t have reasons.  All my reasons were really inconveniences and trepidations.

In December, I joined Team Rogue and signed up for Vancouver; no more excuses.  In January, Stacy’s husband sent me these pink plastic bracelets with the words “Faith – Hope – Love  Stacy” on them and asked me to wear them to remember her.  So for the next several months, whenever I woke up at 4:30 am and didn’t want to run, there was that pink bracelet on the nightstand.  No more excuses.

Somewhere in the training I was reminded why I started running again.  Even though we complain about the five pounds of sweat we lose in the summer runs and the early mornings we could have slept in, we love running.  I love running.

Getting to Boston will take some time.  Austin was the first step.  Vancouver was the second and there are many more to go.  The most important thing is that I remember why I run and not let myself become the biggest obstacle to success.  For those of you that have a dream of doing something like run a marathon, visit Kilimanjaro: find a way.  We may not get many chances in life to do what we love.

My (Dallas) Bryan/College Station Marathon Race Report

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Thanks, Arthur!

“In the marathon, anything can happen.” – Paula Radcliffe, world record holder for the marathon

As someone who has now lined up for 12 of these, Ms. Radcliffe’s words ring ever so true. I just never expected that “anything” might start a few days before the race when the email came with the official news. It arrived at 12:53 pm on Friday, just as I was preparing to drive north through cold and icy conditions, and the subject simply read: “MetroPCS Dallas Marathon canceled.”

Wait… what?

After ten years of dreaming, tens of thousands of miles run during that time, and six months of hard training in this cycle, that’s not a scenario for which I was ready. The script I had written in my mind for how this weekend and race would play out went immediately to the shredder.

I stared blankly at the computer screen as the “good luck in Dallas” emails in my inbox gradually shifted off-screen while the “condolence” emails piled in. Though impossible to see at the time, the lining was glimmering silver on the dark clouds that covered Texas that day…

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Grab a carb-loading meal with fellow Rogues. Check.

In a 3-hour scramble, I was fortunate enough to secure one of the additional spots opened up by the Bryan/College Station Marathon for the Dallas refugees. With that race on the same day, a new script was already being written, and there would be no time to even proofread it, much less rehearse it, before the opening act on Sunday.

–       Check to see if all my teammates got in. Check.

–       Book a hotel for Saturday night in College Station. Check.

–       Arrange for a group carpool to College Station on Saturday morning. Check.

–       Drive to College Station. Check.

–       Pick-up my race packet and repurposed “Arthur” bib. Check. (Thanks Arthur!)

–       Check into the hotel. Check.

–       Drive the course. Check.

–       Foam roll out the final kinks. Check.

–       Grab a carb-loading meal with fellow Rogues. Check.

–       Sleep. Pre-race Lucky Charms and UCAN. Final tips from my coach. 1-mile warm-up jog to the start. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Standing on the starting line, I reflected on the whirlwind that was the previous 36 hours. I was supposed to be in Dallas. In my head, I was ready for everything to be familiar. Having run the Dallas Marathon before and growing up running those streets, I know every inch of that course by heart. On this start line, nothing looked familiar except the faces of my teammates standing in the corral with me.

My race plan was finely tuned to the terrain of the Dallas streets. I had spent more than a month visualizing each point in that race. I had the major splits memorized in my head – no need for a pace band. On this course the goal was the same, but with different terrain a different plan was required and I had had very little time to reflect on what that meant.

I was confident and ready, but my mind was blank as to what what lay on the course before me. As I stared ahead waiting for the start gun to sound, I kept repeating in my head the mantra that I share so often with the athletes I coach: “One step at a time.”

And, we were off….

For those who have run a marathon, you know that the opening miles of the race can be a lot like taking a cool international trip. You are brimming with excitement and anticipation as you await boarding in the airport (or as you stand on the starting line), only to have those feelings muted when the reality of the ten hour flight (or 26 mile run) sets in as you get onboard (or on course).

For me, the flight started and I was hitting turbulence from take-off. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as the 1:30 pace leader for the half marathon flew past me in mile 1 [note: to hit my goal, I would need to average 30 seconds/per mile FASTER than him over the full marathon]. My first three mile splits clocked in 15-20 seconds slower than what I needed. Everything just felt labored through one mile, two miles, three miles, four miles, five miles, and then even six miles into the race. The weather was perfect, and the paces were supposed to be easy at that point but I was working too hard to sustain this effort for 26 miles. Steve, my coach, saw me at mile 4 would later say: “You looked like s**t.”  I felt like it.

My mind raced with doubts already. How could this be happening? I shouldn’t be feeling this way at these paces.  What’s wrong with me? What do I do if I can’t hit the paces?

I had spent all of my mental energy in the build-up for the race preparing for an epic battle over the FINAL six miles. I wasn’t ready for it to start in the first six. At mile 4, the half marathon split from the full, and I was suddenly running alone, as I would do for the next 22 miles. Alone with my mental demons, I knew that backing down from my goal was not an option. All I could do was try to hit the right paces, relax as much as I could, and just keep running (JFR, as we say).

As I am known to do in races, I spent much of miles 4-6 on the long straights running with my eyes closed, trying to relax my body from head to toe and keep my breathing under control. I was channeling my inner yogi and literally meditating on the run. Then, somewhere near mile six or just after, things began to click. My legs and body and breathing fell into rhythm with the paces that I needed. My effort level dropped to sustainable-for-26.2-miles levels. My mind stopped racing with doubts, and I just started to roll, as Coach Steve would say.

I saw him again near mile 8 and must have looked like a different runner. When I passed him then, I pointed to two runners well ahead of me on the horizon and said, “They’re in trouble.” Not only were the doubts gone at that point, but I had suddenly also become an over-confident bastard, very unlike me (!). What a difference a few miles can make.

From 8 to 18, the chase was on. I gauged my efforts by the rate at which those two runners were coming back to me. At the halfway point, I was a minute behind one of them (who was in 5th place at the time) and 80 seconds behind the other in 4th, gaining steadily. And, aside from the time I lost due to the slower start, my paces were dead on-track for my goal.

By mile 18 I had run myself into 5th place, and by 21 I was alone in 4th with no other marathoners in sight and feeling strong. The epic battle I expected in the final 6 miles never materialized. I didn’t get my final two mile splits, but I do know that miles 21-24 were the fastest four miles of my race. Although the final miles of any marathon are never easy, I never had any more doubts about how this one would end. When I hit the finishing straight, I could see the clock ticking comfortably in the 2:45 range as I cruised home, feeling a mix of relief and excitement that it was all ending in success.

I had done it, earning a new marathon personal best after 10 years of trying. I allowed myself a small smile and fist pump as I crossed the line to punctuate the moment, a “big” celebration for those that know me. A few minutes later in the finish corral the tears would start to well up, reflecting on the last ten years – 10 years of marriage, one, two, and then three kids, a graduate degree, two moves from Austin to Houston and then back, a major career change, seven other marathons, over 75 races, many, many, many, many miles run and finally, this goal achieved.

I know that this blog is already long, but please indulge me by allowing me to share some lessons from this 10-year journey:

1. From the weekend…  plan for the unexpected.I talked about a silver lining to the race switcheroo, and this is it. I was so dialed into my plan for Dallas, that I had not allowed enough mental leeway for the unexpected to happen. If the race in Dallas played out the way this race did (with an ugly first 6 miles), I wouldn’t have been ready for it. I was too locked into the race happening a certain way, and I don’t think I would have recovered from such early struggles. Fortunately for me, the race venue change put me into a new, more adaptable mode which would ultimately make the difference between working through those first six, rough miles or letting them derail 10-years of work.

2. From this year… don’t believe your own bulls**t. We all do it. We tell ourselves stories about why we can’t do this or that. It comes out in phrases like “I could hit this goal, but <fill in the blank>.” After nine years, I was resigned to never achieving another marathon PR. The lies I told myself were fair and noble: “I have a wife and 3 kids. I don’t have time. I have my own athletes to coach. I should sacrifice my goals for theirs. I work hard. I can’t train as much as I need to….” And, it went on. Thanks to a goal-setting discussion with some friends from lululemon (thank you Tegra), I recognized the stories in my head were just stories, or excuses as you might call them. I had a choice. I could believe the stories in my head about why I couldn’t, or I could write new ones about how I could. I did that, and then I did it.

3. From the last 10 years… the journey is the destination. Some of you have heard me say this before, and in the context of a six-month training cycle, it sounds trite. As I think about the last 10 years though, this lesson is everything. Ultimately, if this was just about achieving a 35-second personal best, then this was a silly waste of time and energy. 35 seconds or 35 minutes, personal best or not, I have learned that the journey was really the destination all along. The sweat and tears shed, the commitment and discipline learned, the goals achieved, the sunrises and sunsets witnessed, the stress relieved, the fresh air breathed, the limits tested and smashed, the conversations had, and, most importantly, the friendships made and deepened in the miles along the way. That is what it is all about. Those are the reasons why I’ve done this for the last 10 years and will for 10 more!

PS. It takes a village to raise a marathoner. So…. thank you to the Rogue community for the massive tidal wave of support leading up to race weekend. Thank you to coach Steve (and John before him) for getting me to the starting line fit and ready. Thank you to all of my Team Rogue teammates for sharing miles on the road, pushing me in workouts and for showing me what is possible through your own racing breakthroughs. Thank you to my athletes for inspiring me daily as I witness the power of commitment and discipline to achieve big goals. Thank you to my wife and family for the unwavering love and support. Thank you to my friends at lululemon in the Domain for teaching me that big goals are possible if you have the courage to speak them. And, thanks to massage guy Levi and my friend the TriggerPoint Grid for keeping me happy and healthy on the roads.

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Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 2.46.38 PMChris McClung heads up all things retail at Rogue Running, and currently coaches half marathoners and those taking on the Austin Distance Challenge.

My Dallas Marathon Goal: The Prequel

by Chris McClung

chrisIt’s 3pm on November 21st, exactly 16 days and 16 hours from the start of my “A race” for the season. I am registered to race the Dallas Marathon on December 8th with a big goal, one that I know will require everything I have on that day to achieve it. In the words of my coach (Steve), “it’s going to be a dogfight.” As I sit here with compression socks hiding under my jeans, I am tired from six months of hard, focused training. And, I would be lying if I told you that my mind was free from self-doubt.

Before I delve into my self-diagnosed mental condition, let’s set the context first. I haven’t always been a runner. In fact, my first race, a road 10K in Houston, wasn’t until 3 months before my college graduation nearly 14 years ago. Growing up, my sport was soccer, where running laps was our punishment prescribed after bad games or mistakes in practice. I was essentially taught to hate running as an activity by itself, and I did.

As with so many of us who become consistent runners, a friend showed me a better way.  After my soccer days were done, he convinced me to tag along on some easy runs with him and ultimately to sign up for that first 10K. I was hooked by the opportunity to test myself, and even though it would take several years to actually enjoy running for the sake of running, the constant carrot of the next race became the fuel for my fire.

Four years later (in 2004) while running my fourth marathon, I set a personal best for the marathon in Austin, a mark that still stands for me today. Since then, I have run relatively consistently and toed the line for 7 other marathons. But, with life and various personal transitions (like having three kids!), I have only attempted to break that personal best three other times, striking out each time.

Dallas will be my fourth attempt and, on paper, I am ready. I have done every workout as prescribed. I have hit every target pace given to me. But, as anyone who has faced the marathon knows, 26.2 miles with a big goal on the line is downright scary. It is especially scary at the end of a tough training cycle, constructed specifically to take your body to its absolute limit. By design, you are tired and beat up leading into those final few taper weeks. The fatigue, which should be evidence that you have done the work and are ready, serves only to cast longer shadows of doubt over your confidence.

A small seed of doubt breeds more doubt, and before you know it, taper madness is in full effect. As an experienced marathoner and coach, you would think I would be immune to this, but I’m not. No one is. My mind rattles with questions just like yours might before a race. Have I done enough? Are these last runs and workouts feeling hard because I’m tired or because I am not ready? Will my [insert nagging pain/issue] prevent me from doing it? Is my race plan right? Will I have what it takes to gut it out when the race gets hard? Is it worth it at all to face this suffering? Am I mentally strong enough to do this? What if I fail? What will people think if I fail? Will the weight of three previous, failed PR attempts sink me, or will I rise above?

I always face questions like these, but over time, I have learned better ways to cope with the mental noise. I trust my coach and find strength in the work I have done, all of the miles, the workouts, the track sessions, the long runs, in the heat, and in the cold (once!). I am inspired by my Team Rogue teammates who have raced with tenacity before me this fall and demonstrated that the work we have done together is not in vain. The athletes I coach drive me when they show me every week and in every race what it means to test and push beyond their perceived limits.

I have learned that a little fear and anxiety before a big race is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indication that you respect the distance and that your goal is big enough. I no longer fear failure, and I know that the true measure of a race isn’t just the outcome in minutes and seconds but whether or not you left it all on the course. I am comforted by the power of community to propel me to results that would not be possible alone, whether they are with me on the sideline directly or behind a computer screen screaming at the tracking page on auto-refresh.

Even though I feel an obligation to perform not just for me but for my teammates and this community, I don’t carry it as a weight or burden but rather as motivation to fight like crazy for this goal. I also know with certainty felt in my bones that, no matter what happens on December 8th, 5:30 am runs will go on and you and my teammates will surround me with the same love that makes the journey as fulfilling as the destinations along the way.

So why am I telling you all of this? Two reasons.

First, plenty of blog space is dedicated to the post-race smiles and tears, and not enough is written about what we feel pre-race – the worries, jitters, insecurities, and fears.

Second, when the 34-year-old me, lines up against the 24-year-old me on December 8th for a 26.2-mile race against the clock, I need you with me. I need the power of your collective energy, and I thrive on the accountability that comes with it.

Let’s do this!

PS. For those who want to follow along, my current marathon PR is 2:46:23. My race goal for Dallas is 2:45 with a plan to pass through the half in 1:23. You can track the race at www.dallasmarathon.com/runner-tracking/.

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Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 2.46.38 PMChris McClung heads up all things retail at Rogue Running, and currently coaches half marathoners and those taking on the Austin Distance Challenge.

Oxymoron

by coach Oscar Gonzalez

There are many oxymorons that we used in the English language.  Words such as JUMBO shrimp, girly man, awfully pretty, and black gold just to name a few.  However, after I started training for and running marathons I eventually came up with my very own oxymoron….”successful failure”.  Let me tell you about how this term came about.

My very first marathon was San Antonio 2009.  That had to have been one of the hottest damn summers I have ever trained in.  Despite the heat, every training run was AWESOME.  I felt like a million bucks every Saturday and every run during the week was equally as great.  I experienced no cramping, no dehydration and no injury.  I was training for a 3:45 and was confident that I would achieve my goal on race day.  Plus, the marathon was in November and I was looking forward to a nice, cool race.  BUT I forgot that in Texas weather is anything but predictable.  I walked out of my hotel and was greeted by a warm blast of air and a ton of humidity.  I stuck to my race plan…big mistake.  This was my first successful failure, although I had yet to realize it.  I cramped, I bonked, I died, I walked, I ran, I stretched, I failed, I ran a 4:22 but I finished.

My next marathon was, once again, San Antonio.  I wanted revenge for the previous year.  I trained a little harder, a little faster.  I was training alongside some of my group members that were faster than me the previous season.  However, my overall “A” race for this particular season was for Austin.  San Antonio was supposed to be a fun run.  I started out with the 4 hour or so group.  And by the half way mark I had almost caught up to the 3:45 group.  But this was also the point where I jammed my knee and that was end of that race.  DNFs suck.

I took a couple of weeks off and did nothing but mope around the house and then got back to training.  I was determined to make Austin my come back race and redeem myself.  I still trained with the faster group.  I still had my 3:45 goal.  I figured that Austin would definitely be a cooler race since it would be in mid-February.  I mean, it was in the 40’s when I ran the Austin half marathon the year before.  But, like San Antonio, it was warm.  Is this just my damned luck?  I ran a 4:03…an 18 minute PR.  I missed my goal, AGAIN, but I set a shiny new PR.  This is when I came up with the term successful failure.

I then signed up for Chicago and trained harder yet.  I was STILL trying to hit that elusive 3:45 goal I set back in 2009.  I figured that if I wanted a cool weather race, I had to leave Texas.  Well, you guessed it, Chicago was warm too.  WTH???  I just wanted to run a cool f!@#$% race.  Was that too much to ask?  This time, I just went out with my coach’s words in mind, “You do your best with the conditions that you were dealt”.  I ran a 3:54…a 9 minute PR, ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL FAILURE.

I don’t know about y’all, but these types of failures aren’t too discouraging. I could get used to failing and still setting a shiny new PR.  I might even qualify for Boston using this method, although, by that point, I might be in my 60s.

Anyway, the point of this is… DO NOT let a missed time goal make you throw in the towel.  It could have been a bad day.  In my case, all my marathons have been warm (to say the least) but a successful failure keeps me coming back for more.  I will eventually catch that goal from 2009.  Until then, I will accept a successful failure.  I will keep fighting and digging deep until I surpass the damned goal.

(Oh, and, if you want a cool weather race, you might want to avoid signing up for any marathon that I sign up for.  There seems to be a pattern.)

Ten marathons: Feels like it’s just the beginning

by Matt Waldbusser

The hard truth is I let myself get overweight.  In 2007, I was a father of two, working full time, and in graduate school.  I had all the excuses I needed.  While standing on the scale one day, I did not see numbers.  Instead I felt shame and embarrassment.

The answer was and still is quite simple: just run.  I ran the Austin marathon in 2008 with a 4:42 finishing time.  This remains to me one of my most proud racing moments as I proved to myself that I could do it if I just got up off the couch and ran.

After a 4:25 Austin 2009 marathon, I got the idea that maybe I should actually train with someone who knows what they are doing.  That is when I found Rogue Running.  Three years later, here I am just finishing my 10th marathon and hitting a PR of 3:47.  In 4 years I’ve been able to knock off almost an hour off my time.  More importantly:

  • My health has greatly improved.  I weigh almost 40 pounds less than I did in 2007
  • I used to have bad migrane headaches.  I haven’t seen one in over 4 years
  • I am a happier person
  • I have learned to approach things in life with the view that …”it’s not as hard as the last 6 miles”
  • Through this all I have found great friends.  It takes a special kind of crazy to knock out a 20 mile run during theTexas summer.  The good news is we all found each other.

This weekend I hit my high point in running.  However, it wasn’t about what I had done that made me hit that high, it is what I know is in front of me.   I do not look at 10 marathons as what I have done, but now what it enables me to do:

  • I am the healthy husband and father my wife and kids deserve
  • I let all of the Rogues in Vancouver convince me that qualifying for Boston is not out of reach
  • I have a coach who’s helping me focus on cross training for triathalons.  He never lets me settle in a workout.  In just 6 weeks he’s changed my mindset, the body is now to follow.

There is no way I could have done this without support from people I am very grateful for:

  • Rogue Running – I continue to learn every time I show up.  The coaches have taught me a lot over the years and there is always an encouraging word there
  • TUFIs – only this crazy bunch of Rogues could somehow make a 3 hour run entertaining
  • Blake Uptain from Moxie Multisport – tore down all of my mental walls in 6 weeks
  • Adriana – I hit the wife lottery here.  She was my cheerleader and the boot in my butt when I needed it

Finally, I am posting a photo.  I have kept this private but this is me in 2007.  I keep it on my desktop as a constant reminder of why I do what I do.

10 reasons to train for 10 miles

by coach Chris McClung

So, I am coaching a program to train for the Run for the Water 10-miler on October 28. The program starts on May 5th – THIS Saturday. For those counting at home, that gives us 25 weeks or just under 6 full months to prepare…. for a 10-miler. Now, that is no typo. Some of you will ask, why? Why do I need 25 weeks to train for a 10-miler, or maybe why do I want to train for a 10-miler at all? After all, half marathons and marathons are all the rage, right? I am writing this to answer those questions, and not because I need more people in the class. As of this moment, we have 13 people already signed up, 3 more verbally committed, and more on the way. No, I am writing this because I think many of you actually NEED this program and here are 10 reasons why…

#10: Because you need a PR. Has it been a while since you PR’d? Have you been frustrated recently by a lack of results? Well, I ask… when was the last time you raced a 10-miler?!? Exactly! Sometimes you just need a “win,” and why not stack the deck a little bit in your favor by racing a little-raced distance. 😉

#9: Because, even if you mess it up, you can always race again in a week or two. You have put all of your eggs in one race basket before, and you have dropped that basket or had it smashed out of your hands by ugly weather. With this program, you will have a mulligan, not necessarily to use but to take the pressure off when you do race.

#8: Because you can’t stand the heat anymore. My group calls itself The Early Birds. We do our quality workouts at 5:30 am on Wednesdays. In the summertime, that can mean doing your workouts in 80 degrees vs.100 degrees. I am not a morning person, but will take 80 degrees every time. Last summer may have driven you crazy, so much so that you are contemplating another hobby this summer. Don’t do it… just suck it up and switch to the morning group!

#7: Because it is time to actually train for the first two races in the Distance Challenge. The Distance Challenge is already a challenge. There is no need to make it more so by rolling into the IBM 10k and 10-miler under-trained after a summer of vacations and debauchery. Let’s do this thing right. We will do both races as a part of this program and then tee you up to roll over into an Austin Marathon or Half Marathon program to close the deal.

#6: Because you don’t HAVE to do a marathon or even half marathon right away. Some of you have never done a marathon and are feeling guilty about it. You see all of your friends doing it. Part of you is jealous and the other part of you is telling the jealous part that it doesn’t matter… that those people are just crazy or have more time on the hands to train or whatever. I am here to tell you that you don’t have to run a marathon now or even ever. There is plenty of glory and pain in shorter races. I promise to show you that, and you may or may not like me for it.

#5: Because some of you are in a marathon rut, and it is making you slower. Marathons don’t have to make you slower. But, for some of you, racing 2, 3, 4 or more marathons a year has become disruptive to your improvement as a runner. I am here to tell you that you can’t get faster at the marathon until you get faster at shorter distances. Training for the 10-mile or half marathon distance is the perfect way to keep your mileage and consistency up, while working on speed that will translate to the longer distances. Which leads me too…

#4: Because you can train for a marathon without doing one. What’s the difference between training for a 10-miler and training for the marathon? Nothing… at least for the first 4 months. Whether you have done a marathon or not, this program will prepare you to be a better marathoner in the future by building your consistent mileage, without the training disruption of the big race at the end. Our long runs won’t be quite as long, and the speed phase will be different, but all of the same training principles still apply.

#3: Because you really, really need the longer base period… no really. At Rogue, we believe in periodized or phased training, starting with a “base” period of easy running to build aerobic strength and capacity. In this phase, we are building your aerobic engine, and the longer the base, the bigger and more powerful your aerobic engine. Some of you are so busy racing or rolling from one program to the next, that you short-circuit the base phase every time. You are running races with a 4-cyclinder engine at max RPMs vs. blowing by people with your souped-up V8. In this program, we will take our time in the base phase, while keeping it interesting with an early focus on strength and form. We are making fine wine, not moonshine.

#2: Because it’s time to break bad habits or at least start good, new ones. At Rogue, we like to say that all of the “one percents” add up to matter, and sometimes they matter more than the running itself. The “one percents” are the strength, the drills, the stretching, the strides, the recovery runs, etc. Some of you have been so consumed by the running part of your training including the long runs, that you are slacking on the one percents. In this program, we will do the one percents like they are the 51 percents.

#1: Because I care. No, I am not implying that other Rogue coaches don’t care or that I care more than they do. I want to convey that I am doing THIS program in THIS way because I care. I care that all of you have long, happy, and (if you want) continually faster lives as runners. And, I think that some of you need this program to continue to develop optimally to achieve that end. I will invest tirelessly to help you achieve your goals. We will do it together. Who is with me?!?

Want in on this? Get it here.

From Houston to Austin to…

by Jimmy Ho

I promise this entry will not be a novel this time.  After my first marathon, I was on a running high. I wanted to run the Austin full marathon.  My coach, Ruth, advised against.  I figured with all of my training that I have done, I would be easy to keep up the mileage and run Austin with a simple goal of finishing under 4 hours.  My partners in crime, Cassundra and Manny, were doing the half.  So with a little of hesitation, I signed up for the half marathon.  I knew with running half, I did not need to keep a 40+ miles running week.  I scaled everything back and was running about 20 miles over 4 days a week. Some of the runners from Team Veggie joined the advanced 10k group, but I was not interested in running as much after the marathon.  I know it builds speed, but I will find a way to improve my speed in the future.  It could be me being stubborn thinking I can do it on my own, but we will see.

 

The last month of marathon training I had scaled back extracurricular activities.  I normally play basketball at work during lunch.  I stopped that just in case I got hurt for some reason.  With the race over, I started playing basketball again.  The running definitely has helped with my speed and stamina. My game was off when I got back so it has been frustrating.  When marathon training started, I only had time to lift weights once a week for about 30 minutes.

 

Without the strict schedule or the time constraint, I am now able to lift weights twice a week for an hour each time.  I have always wanted to be jacked, but as a runner, is that possible?

 

The time between the Houston marathon and the Austin half marathon felt like forever.  I guess I like the feeling of racing because you get a sense of  ccomplishment.  Good thing I did not thoose to run the full.  I started to lose interest in running just a little bit before the race.  Going into the race, my only half time was 3M in 2011 where I ran a 1:58.  I knew that I could beat that easily.  I wanted to run a 1:30, but I figured I was out of my mind.  I met Cassundra, Manny, and another Rogue, Becky at Rogue at 6 am.  We warmed up by running to the start line.  I got a pace band from Ruth to run it under 1:45, but I knew I was going to leave the throttle wide open.  It was a cooler morning so it was great race weather.  I was once again sporting my Beef Team shirt.  One of these races I will finally wear a Rogue shirt.

 

We started off running an 8 minute pace.  It felt fast, but great on

my legs.  It was definitely crowded even though we started out in the

3:20 pace group.  I saw my wife at mile 2.  It is awesome that she

shows up to the race to support me although I tell her she does not

have to.  I do not recall that Congress Avenue is a gradual incline.

I started to pick up the pace and left my running buddies around mile

4.  I was thinking uh oh.  I am on my own at this point.  Cassundra

caught up with me around mile 7. She is a great partner although I

secretly think she is faster.  We always have a good pace going when

we run together.  We passed through the Beef Team cheering section

around mile 8 which was cool.  I saw my wife again with our friend,

Lauren, at the turn in front of city hall.  The Livestrong section

along Cesar Chavez was awesome.  I love it when the crowd provides

energy to the race. We made a quit pit stop shortly after.  After

that, there was a steady climb towards Mopac.  I was not a big fan of

that.  I was starting to feel sluggish.  I was thinking to myself, was

I out of shape?

 

Along the feeder of Mopac, I was like this sucks.  It was a little

hilly, and I was starting to doubt myself of my time.  Cassundra

started to pull away somewhere along Enfield.  I ran by a supporter

who said in a very monotone voice, “Make this race your bitch.”  I

laughed out loud and heeded her advice.  The “big” hill at Lamar was

not big at all.  I raced past everyone up the hill and even passed

Cassundra.  At the top, I was like I should be able to coast to the

big finish along San Jacinto.  It was nothing like that.  You had to

deal with a few more hills before San Jac.  At that point, my claves

started to tighten up.  I was like this is the worst timing.

Cassundra and I were side by side when I decided to sprint with 800

meters left. With about 400 meters left, my calves tighten up even

more, and I laid off the gas just enough for her to finish a second

ahead.  One of these days I will get her.  My time was 1:39:44.  It

was an 18 minute personal record, not bad at the end of the day.  I

also learned that I am pretty decent hill runner.  I, however, was

disappointed with the crowd support.  It was thinned out and not very

loud.  Houston’s crowd was absolutely incredible.  I fed off the

energy.

 

I have one more race before I am done running races for the season.  I

did not plan to do the Capitol 10K because it is so crowded, but my

half marathon time was good enough to qualify for an earlier wave so I

went ahead and registered.  I am starting to replace my Saturday long

runs with soccer.  I figured with all the running I do, it can help me

with my stamina, and I think soccer can help with my speed a little

bit.  What’s after that?  I know I will run a marathon in the fall or

winter.  Where is the question?  I like Ruth a lot as a coach so I

might end up with whatever group she will be with.  At the start of

this whole running process, I never thought I would say this- I want

to qualify for Boston.  It is probably going to take either a few more

races or for me to get older to jump into the next age group. I might

have to get to Cassundra to try to run a 3:10 one of these days.  LOL.

I think it would be an awesome experience to run Boston.

Until next time, Rogue, happy running.