Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Group Run Contest – Follow up and results


As some of you know, I started a group run at work.  We’re fortunate to have a corporate gym and an employer that supports health and fitness.  Along the way, we picked up some new runners here and there, but to try to increase attendance and commitment, a couple of runners suggested a contest of some sort.  I am a member of the Brooks “Fanatics” team for 2011, so I thought I’d give Brooks a shout to see what kind of support they would be willing to give.  Doug Rosenberg, sponsor of the team, replied almost instantly with some suggestions on how to execute the contest and contributed a certificate for a pair of shoes to act as the main prize!  This is one of the many reasons I believe Brooks is the most supportive company to the amateur running community.

So, how and what did I do?  I started talking it up.  A lot.  I spread the word through co-workers, email and flyers around the campus.  We set the range of the contest to be 10 weeks, and the terms were:

-Show up and start with the group, no matter how far/short/fast/slow you run, you get an entry

-Each entry went into a raffle drawing for the pair of shoes.  The more times you showed up, the better your chances of winning.

Simple stuff, right?

Before the contest, the group had about 12 occasional members, with an average of 3-4 showing up every week.  At the end of the contest, we had 15 regular members, with peak attendance being 12 and average attendance between 6-8.  Not too bad for a lunch-time group run from a corporate gym!  I tracked every attendee and every run date, assigning each a sequential number.  At the end of the contest, I then plugged the number range into a random number generator and used the selection to choose the winner!

One lucky group runner won a new pair of Brooks shoes of his choice, and the whole group gained some new friendships and got a bit healthier!  One big lesson I learned: it’s very important to make the group non-intimidating, accommodating and open/friendly, this will make runners of all ages and skill levels feel welcome.

GöteborgsVarvet (Gothenburg Half Marathon) – Race Report


First off, some statistics:

  • Race Day: May 22, 2010
  • # of runners: 58,122
  • 31st running of the race
  • Race Website (English): http://www.goteborgsvarvet.com/en/Runner/
  • Elite Start time: 13:30 CET
  • My Start time: 14:00 CET
  • Winner’s finishing time: 1:01:10 (new course record)
  • My finishing time: 1:46:01
  • My placement: 4613 out of 58,122

So, as you can see, this is a big race.  This race leapfrogs a race in the UK to be the world’s largest half marathon every year.  There are pros and cons to this; it’s a huge festival in the city of Gothenburg, and it’s a great experience, but it’s also a hard race to run a PR in because of the crowd.  The course is beautiful, and tours the city nicely, starting in a large park called Slottsskogen, heading out over a large bridge, following the river, heading back into town over another bridge,  up the main avenue, back through the city and finishing at the track stadium Slottsskogsvallen.  This was my second year running the race, and I’ve already signed up again for next year.  Last year I ran a 1:48:06.

Some background: I trained heavily for this race, starting in January of 2010, and following a coached regimen (Bonkproof by Caleb Masland) of twice weekly speedwork and long runs with pickups at the end.  My training went well for the most part, and I was executing some impressive runs for me (in the low-mid 6’s/mile).  A month out, I was feeling very confident in preparation, but was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.  Then I ran the NC Half Marathon, and bombed that one at 1:42.  My confidence was a little shaken, but I recovered.  Two weeks before the GöteborgsVarvet, I started having some problems with the 2nd metatarsal on my right foot.  The week leading up to the race, I didn’t run at all, but stayed on the elliptical at the hotel.

On to the race report:

Race day was lovely, for those watching the race.  Unfortunately for those of us running it, it was pretty hot and humid.  The temperature was in the high 70s, which for Sweden, is pretty much a tropical heat wave.  Early forecasts were predicting mid 50s, which would have been much more preferable!  My start group (#4) was scheduled to start at 2 in the afternoon Swedish time, and the gun went off perfectly on time.  The start group I was in was about 2500 runners, and we were jammed up at the beginning.  The first 2 kilometers were through the Slottsskogen park:

Slottsskogen Park

The entire park was full of spectators, as the entire city comes out.  Most people were spread out on blankets with wine and picnics making a day of it.  Through the park, the race group was pretty tight, and I was running slower than plan.  I wanted to go out at about 7:00/mile for the first 5-10k, but for the first few miles, I barely managed faster than 7:20, and that was weaving and passing people in the grass outside of the course.  Leaving the park took us through an older neighborhood that has recently gentrified and is full of kids.  This is always my favorite part of the course, as the kids provide a lot of energy and all want to give you a hand slap of encouragement!

Älvsborg Bridge

The next part of the course takes you up to the largest bridge in the region, the Älvsborg.  This is a pretty long bridge, and fun to run across.  There was a nice crosswind, and I was feeling quite strong up and over.

Coming off the Älvsborg Bridge

When coming down the bridge, the course narrows into a very small bottleneck, and thousands of runners try to cram through without killing each other.
They always have a photographer positioned here, and I always look very concerned, when in reality, I’m trying not to trip over they guy in front of me! After the bridge, the course blasts you down a long decline that switches back and forth all the way down to the old shipyards and to the Göta river, and from there, it’s pretty flat for the next 2-3 miles along the river until the next bridge.  This part of town used to be only shipyards, but since the shipbuilding industry died in Sweden, there is now a university site and student housing along the river.  There are always bands playing and people out drinking beer through this section.  About the 10k mark here, I started feeling the heat.  I had been training to get through the half without stopping for water, and had run many 14+ mile training runs without water or food, but on this day, at 10k, I realized that it wasn’t gonna go down like that…

Around 10k, I stopped at the water station, gulped some, and dumped the rest on my head and took off.  I employed that strategy for most of the water stations for the rest of the race.  Unfortunately, though, around this same time, my right foot started killing me, and I was noticeably favoring it.  I made the choice to run as hard as I could until my foot hurt too much and then walk until the pain subsided enough to run again.  This obviously had a pretty big impact on my splits, as you can see below.

All along the course, every mile or so, there were bands or musicians playing, ranging from full on rock bands (I heard two Motley Crue songs sing with thick Swedish accents) to African drum troops to traditional Swedish musicians; quite nice entertainment to divert thoughts from the heat…

Götaälvbron Bridge

The next noteworthy part of the course is the Götaälvbron bridge, which is a bit lower than the Älvsborg, but a bit longer as well.  On the downslope of this one, some guy was holding a doughnut over the crowd of runners hung from a fishing rod and line.  Smart-ass…

Coming down the bridge, we circled the exit ramp past the brand new Göthenburg Wheel, that opened for business the same day!  It’s a really nice addition to the city.

Göthenburg Wheel

Past the wheel is the long false flat up the main shopping avenue. It’s a 1.5-2 mile 1-2% grade that is in full sunlight and packed on both sides with the crowd of observers. I always feel a bit like a head of cattle running up a chute, but the crowd support is amazing here. At the top of the avenue, about 18k, I passed my hotel, my wife and youngest daughter, and some friends. My two year old started shouting “Daddy, Daddy, run faster!”. We looped around the statue, and back down the avenue, then left back toward the park.

The course started to open a bit at this point and runners started to thin out. Around here, I started to see a lot of people laid out along the course. The Swedes weren’t conditioned at all for temps in the high 70s, and hundreds of people went to the emergency room with heat exhaustion and dehydration problems. I’m not talking about poorly trained people either. There were lots of runners who had run the course in sub 1:30 in previous years that took DNFs. It was pretty scary to see. I knew we were coming up on the home stretch now and was quite honestly ready to be done and out of pain, although I knew my foot was in trouble. The final mile or so was back through the same park as in the start and then to the finish in the Slottsskogsvallen track stadium.

Here’s a couple of finishing pics:

Finishing Sprint

Stepping on the finish mat with my gimpy foot. Ready to be done!

Splits:

1-7:53
2-7:22
3-7:27
4-7:26
5-7:01
6-7:39
7-8:11
8-8:09
9-8:30
10-8:06
11-9:42
12-8:58
13-8:48
6:01 (.1 mile)

So, overall, I’ll take it considering the unexpected heat and the foot issues I’ve been having.  I’m on week 3 of no running and ART therapy after the race, so I hope to be back out soon.  My disappointment is that I know I could have gone sub 1:35 and perhaps closer to 1:30 if my foot had cooperated.  But, there’s always the next one!

Product Review: Injinji Toesocks


I have a few product endorsements (seen on right), so I will save those reviews for later.  Today, I’m going to focus on a product I’ve found to be extremely useful.

The Injinji Toesocks admittedly are pretty silly looking, and I get lots of stares and a few questions at the gym when I put them on, but if you are prone to between-toe blisters, boy is this a solution for you.  Basically, they’re regular wicking athletic socks with individual toes knitted in, kind of like gloves for your feet.  Getting used to them takes a few runs, and putting them on certainly takes a bit of getting used to.

Once you’re there and used to them, other socks feel hot and sweaty.  By keeping the toes apart from each other, moisture is controlled, and so is contact.  Minimal contact + minimal moisture = no blisters!  Yay! I also understand that these work quite well under Vibram FiveFingers, but I haven’t personally tried using them that way.

The socks come in many colors now, and Injinji has added other products in their product range, but I’ve always stuck with black or white, mini or micro crew.   Once I was a convert, these are the only socks I ever run in.  Ever.  Plus, my daughters love to make fun of them!

There are two cons: they can be kind of hard to find, although your local running store should carry them.  Ordering online is always an option, and they are available in many places.  The second is that if you have a bunch, there’s an added layer of complexity to sock matching in folding clean laundry.  Nothing like getting to the gym with two right socks…

Highly, highly recommended!