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Races?

Posted May 23 2011 10:13pm
Main image
written by Charlie

Yes. I finally ran my first half-marathon of 2011.  I have also ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile race.

 

The Cherry Creek Sneak

I ran the Cherry Creek Sneak as Elvis this year.

I even PR’d (Personal Record), not so much because it was fast, but because it was my first 5 mile race.

Cherry Creek Sneak Elvis

Elvis is a popular figure at races like this one where costumes are encouraged (and even judged).  This picture shows me in the costume contest.

I ran it with a friend that was amazed when a young lady caught up to us just to say hi.  What he didn’t know is that she and I ran together for about a mile during the race.

It was a fun race. I really hammed it up for the spectators and for my fellow runners.  I got a kick at one point when a man said to me, “I never though that I would be passed by Elvis!” I commiserated by telling him, “and it is the fat, middle-aged Elvis at that!”

I like running new races.  You always get to see  a city, town, or environment in a new way!!

That left me 2 weeks to the KP Colfax Half-Marathon.

 

The Barking Dog Duathlon

Get it?  The Barking Dog Du is what it is referred by those who love it and run it.

Tom is a friend of mine that ran his first duathlon this year. He ran and biked the long course. It consisted of a 5K run, 30K bike ride, 5K run.

Tom BDD

3 of us went to experience this with Tom. Jeff, Tom and I arrived @ around 6:00 AM, as Tom had a beginner session he had to attend @ 6:20 AM. Cherry Creek Lake Park was supposed to have the entry station staffed by rangers, but they did not. It was pandemonium as competitors pushed to fill out hand-written entry permits. Cars were parking everywhere and people were pushing to get that entry stuff done.

We did get parked and Tom took his bike and transition stuff down to the registration table. Jeff and I casually strolled down to the lake and then met Tom near his place in the transition area. Tom headed for the start line in his wave. Soon after that, he was off on his new competition adventure.

While Tom was busy with that competition, I had my last long run for my half-marathon. He was busy, I might as well be busy, too. After Tom crossed the start line, Jeff and I headed up to the parking lot to get ready for a run.  We changed and I started a run.

I ran toward the road, but the competition was using the near trails and the road. So, I ran the parking lot. I ran 8 miles of figure 8’s. Jeff ran with me for 5 of those.  I started to feel a left upper leg quad muscle.  It got sore enough (and the figure 8’s were pretty boring) so that I stopped at 8 miles.

Tom did great! He finally crossed the finish line, and just before he collapsed (in a controlled manner), he stated that he had learned a lot, but also had a lot to learn for the next one.

Congratulations, Tom, on notching up the bar! 

 

The Kaiser Permanente Colfax Half-Marathon.

I must like running competitions.  

KP COLFAX MEDAL Mod

Tom and I ran the Kaiser Permanente Colfax Half-Marathon on Sunday, May 15th. Start time was 6:00 AM. Remember that I work the swing shift and didn’t really believe that a 4:00 AM was real or possible. Well, it is…

I was out the door at 4:30.  It was cold and, although not raining, there was a heavy mist in the air. Tom and I drove down to city park to find that the streets were already being closed. We found a way in and parked in the Denver Zoo parking lot.

We waited in the warm, comfortable car until 5:20.  We headed over to the start line. On the way over, we examined the weather and our dress. I knew that I’d be good with an under layer, a shirt and my running jacket (All made of wicking fabric – Get that water off and away). I wore my running shorts. Might end up somewhat cold, but I generally don’t get leg cold. Tom thought about it and changed into his tights.

I spent all day Saturday drinking water so I though I was good with most of a cup of coffee. Tom decided he would check our gear and get in line for a porta-potty. I went to my corral (starting area assigned by projected time completion).

I stood next to a young lady. She was nervous as it was her first Half.  We talked about it and many of the people around were running their first.  It was my tenth!  It didn’t take long for time to pass and the speakers started to announce preparations for the start.

I got a lot of questions that I was glad that I could answer. What is a start like? When will my time start? When do I start my watch? How do they let our corral start?

After the national anthem, the race slowly started, corral by corral, we were 4 or 5 back (With Tom being in a corral 2 ahead of us).  After the start, I pointed across the lake so that everyone could see the closely packed runners starting their event.  Then, it was our turn and we were off.

We ran through a lot of City Park, then out and onto East Colfax. On the way, we got wind, more mist and I even saw a few snow flakes.  At mile four, I had to stop at the porta-potties.  There was a line that cost me 8 minutes or so of my run. As soon as I could, I was off down the street again.

Two hills were on the way toward Havana Street, both gradual and the worst was at mile 4. At the same time it warmed us up internally, the wind cooled us back down. It was a relief to turn off Colfax and head north. The path took us into an impoverished neighborhood. It was sad to see. Then again, it climbed. Only for a block or two, but I could feel it, A couple of turns later and we were welcomed by the Aurora Fire House #1 as we ran through it; on our exit there was a huge USA flag draped from a ladder truck. Inspiring.

They took us back to City Park via 17th street.  This is a tree covered street all the way. The closer we got to City Park, the more opulent the houses became. About 3 miles out, I was running (about this time I was thinking, “One foot in front of the other..” when I came across one of the ladies that I started the race with. I found out that she was Susan and she learned my name. We ran all the way to the finish line together talking mostly about running and the consequences.

The last couple of years, the moment you enter the City Park again, you know that the finish line was only a figurative hop, skip and a jump! Not this year. We had about a mile and a half to go still.  That made it just a little bit tougher.  I was glad that Susan and I were running together.  We discussed pacing, watches and running in general. She mentioned that it is not a cheap sport.  I had to agree.

We could smell the Zoo again (don’t ask…). We knew that the finish line was not far now. Neither of us picked up speed until we saw it.  I told her that she is now, “Sue-soon!” I reminded Susan to show her biggest smile and to throw her hands in the air! I finished 1 second ahead of Susan.

I started down the goody line. I got water. I stepped up to a young lady and she placed my medal over my head. I asked if I could give her a hug and she let me. I have received a hug with every medal so far.  How cool is that?

I got another water, a sport bag, some bagel and a banana half.  About that time, Susan grabbed my arm and took me over to the side. “Is it normal to fell like you’re going to hurl?” she asked.  I assured her that was a pretty normal feeling after giving it your all and crossing that finish line.  I told her to hold it back and think of calming down.  We found her friend that she started with and I left her with. About that time Tom tapped my shoulder.  Tom finished in 2:09 or so. I finished 30 minutes after him. We didn’t spend much time there as Tom had a muscle pull and I developed a chafing sore.  It was also cold!  It never did get above 40 while we were running or there.  We decided to ditch the after-the-race BBQ and headed for home.  Another 13.1 mile race was in the bag.

That was my 3rd running of the Colfax half-marathon and my 10th half-marathon overall!


By the way, Tom is suggesting that one should not necessarily run a half-marathon the week after competing in a duathlon!

written by Charlie

Do you run with a dog?  I do.  Her name is Sami (Stupid/Smart am I – Depending on her circumstances). She is a 2+ year old yellow labrador.  Sami weighs in at 85 to 90 pounds.

The vet has approved the plan.  Sami is old enough and very willing to run.  She has run as far as 12 miles with me in the last year. She can do it and enjoys the runs seemingly more than I do! The only thing she does that tends to tick me off is at the end of a run.  The closer we get to the end, the more she turns around and stares at me, silently urging me to “Catch up to the pack!”

Last weekend we ran 7 miles, the week before 7 miles, 2 weeks ago 8 miles. I often run with Sami off leash. I do a belly wrap with the leash so she wears it, but it doesn’t drag on the ground, it is loose enough not to chafe her, and I have a ‘handle’ to hold her with should the need arrive.

Sami is trained to run off-leash!  She has some specific running commands that she is very good with.  Among them are, “Leave it,” C’mere” (Heel),  “wait” (handy at busy intersections), “Go” (release), and, of course, “Good girl!”

I wear an Amphipod belt with water bottles on it.  Each of us have the same number of water bottles (either 1 or 2 based on the length of the run).  She has learned to drink from a sports bottle and anticipates it when the time is right!

Lazy Sami

The Half-Marathon!

We will be running “ The Slacker ” as our half-marathon.  It is a dog-friendly high-altitude 13.1 miles that drops 2,200 feet with a really fun 1/2 mile uphill at the end.  Should be a fun thing to do!

It will be held on June 25th this year. That gives both Sami and I time to train and become acclimated to the altitude.

If you are familiar with Colorado, the race starts just below the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels where I-70 crosses the continental divide, and uses trail, roads and recreation paths as it makes the way to the finish at Georgetown, Colorado.

We do not have a training plan yet.  Both of us run between 20 to 25 miles per week.  The long runs have been 6 to 8 miles.  Another month or so and we’ll be able to step into the middle of a training plan.

Catch Up -

In January, I ran 22 times for a total distance of 104.23 miles.

In February, I ran 21 runs for a total of 104.23 miles.

So far this year, I have run 205.95 miles.

What?  Yes! Sami has run a similar amount!

 

written by Charlie

It ended up that I had 2 days of vacation left.  I can’t carry them over or get paid for them, so I was able to get them off.

So Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday were off.  What to do?

I am lucky to live in the Denver area.  It puts me close to some great places to see and experience.  On the cheap, I went to Green River, Utah with a friend and a dog.  The first and last day of was travel. The middle day?  2 slot canyons near Goblin Valley State Park.

On that first day, we stopped to see Thompson Canyon and the rock art panels located there.  Some pretty amazing rock art to see. The panels are easy to get to and something to see!

Rock Art Panel

Rock Art Panel.

Ute rock art panel

The large Rock Art panel.

It was a cold day that started out with snow about.  We got out and started the drive out there.  I was driving and missed the destination road the first time out.  Not a bad thing to have happen.  If you have ever been to the San Rafael Swell, then you know that there are very beautiful, albeit desolate, vistas to behold.

We did find a camping couple (some people are far hardier than am I).  They clued us in to where the actual road was.  We wished them a wonderful Christmas.  We back-tracked and found the road.

One word…  Amazing!

 With the dog as the canyon walls get narrow...

Tom coming out of a close space

This is Sami and the man!

Out of one canyon then into the other!

Narrow walls

 

Narrow walls and a dog

Slot canyons trail (Google Earth)

It was a first time exploring the desert for Sami the yellow labrador (Stupid AM I).  Little Wild Horse canyon was not a problem, but Bell canyon had some 8 to 10 feet steps or waterfalls (most of the time dry).  So, between the 2 of us, we had to figure out how to move a flailing, non-understanding lump of dog flesh down them.  Some of the drops were 2 to 3 step transfers.

She made it, though – So did we!

written by Charlie

I am of for a quick vacation over the weekend.  I’m heading out with my firend, Tom, and the dog, Sami> to explore the Little Whild Horse slot canyon near to Green River, Utah!  Just four days – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

In the Holiday Spirit yet?  Then this might not help you out…

See you soon!

written by Charlie

I am now up to 1,313.70 miles for the year!

I have recently been honored.  Twice.  The first is from Randy & Andy @ the 2 Guys 1 Brain podcast.  In show 460, they mentioned me in a positive way.  I am humbled and honored.

I was also honored by a fellow runner.  He is John C out of Alabama!  He sent me a personal message thanking me for some running inspiration.  He started running last April, is up to 5 miles, and has a half-marathon scheduled in April of 2011.  I am sure that I was a very minor part of his inspiration, but he thanked me for my contributions to the 2 Guys 1 Brain podcast.  Thanks, John.  Again I was humbled and honored.  I really think that people like John are true inspirations to other runners.

Did someone say, “How about another PUNishment?”

The PUNishment started, more or less, as a joke.  I would send some very bad puns via voicemail to the good people at the Bear Crawling podcast after I was asked to do an impression of Yogi Bear © ® ™ on 2 Guys 1 Brain. I started to call Bearcrawling regularly after that.  The rest is history.  You can actively participate in the Bear Crawling podcast on Thursday evenings @ 9:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.

 

 

written by Charlie

Saturday, just past, I completed 1,300 miles run in 2010.  It is not a year that I ran the most miles, but this is not too bad.  I am serious in my health, albeit while being a recreational runner.

I hope that you, my reader, are doing well.  As a favorite author has written, “It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.” I hope that you do not experience too much the “Worst of times.”

I do create a weekly podcast, no…  Actually a PUNcast.  I have the latest episode for you here.  BTW…  Don’t blink.  You’ll miss it!

The Silent Monks of Molalla Oregon also known as the, “ St Francis de la Sissies.”

written by Charlie

The Shirt The Medal 10182010

The shirt and the medal!

It used to be the Denver Marathon.  The Rock and Roll organization took it over and this year was the Inaugural event. A full marathon, a half-marathon, and a full marathon relay was offered.  I ran the Half!

Participating in an organized run starts with mental processes.  What distance? Where? How much do I want to pay? What do I want out of it?

2010 I set aside as a Rock and Roll bling year.  That means that I wanted to get medals for my running.  In addition to the medal that you get for finishing, you can get additional medals for the number of events and the distance.

That set my sights on Rock and Roll events.  In December 2009, I ran the half in Vegas, in January 2010, I ran the half in Phoenix. In June, I ran the full marathon in Seattle. Finally, in October on Sunday, the 17th, I ran the Denver Half.

The extra bling for this year will be the Desert Double Down (for running both Vegas and Phoenix), the “39.3” medal for 39.3 miles up to Seattle, and I should have earned a “26.2” (2 half-marathons in 2010), and the “Triple Crown” for running 3 events in 2010.

But that is really neither here nor there.  What I want to talk about is the Rock and Roll Denver Inaugural Half-Marathon.

The Denver Event

Preparation

Running the half is the last thing you do in preparation for it.

Choose an event.  A lot of that will be what works for you.  City, distance, elevation, etc.

Register for that event.  Pay the money and get yourself ready to run it.

It starts with choosing a training plan.  They’re available from many sources and for many levels of ability and experience. If you are interested, Google “half-marathon training plans.” Read them to see if the plan is a fit for you.

Train.  Learn to respect the distance.  Follow the plan that you chose for you. You are not only training yourself to run the distance, you’ll also learn a lot about what assists you in achieving that distance. Things like nutrition, apparel, shoes and ability will all be learned during the training plan AND periods that you experience.  Pay attention and learn.  Then apply what you have learned during the event.

If it is a first event, take your time.  Watch and learn. Talk to other runners.  You are going to do something cool and you’ll remember it in a positive way for a long time.

The Day Before

The Rock and Roll series have an Expo for 2 days prior to the event.  In Denver, the expo was held in the Colorado Convention Center. An expo serves 2 purposes.  The first is a method for you to pickup your number bib, your free technical shirt, and your goody bag. The second is a method to sell you stuff.  Wait…  Maybe I should have said that it is an opportunity for you to realize what is being offered in the field of running.

Our convention center is in Downtown Denver.  For most of us that means you don’t want to drive as you’ll need to park.  Rather than deal with that problem, I decided to take the Light Rail with some friends.

It ended up being a great way to get downtown. The light rail even has a stop at the Convention Center. How much easier than that can it get?

Now, I did drag a trash bag with 8 pair of running shoes with me.  They are the shoes that are too old to continue to run in.  I brought them to the booth for Give Your Sole !  They recycle all shoes brought in by giving them to a local charity that can use them.  In our case, they will go to the Denver Rescue Mission!

I walked the entire Expo, tasting nutritional supplements, sport drinks; I looked at apparel and shoes.  I bought a great pair of Mizuno Elixir 5 shoes at a great price, some head bands, and some Body Glide.

Tom set it up to meet a good friend that he’s never met in person before!

Expo Annie & Tom

Annie & Tom!

It was a great expo!

On the way home, there were several gear bags fresh from the expo slung over people’s shoulders.  We had great conversation encouraging each other and reviewing our running histories!

When I got home, I checked my list and set up my gear for the morning.  Bib number 12560 got mounted on the shirt I was going to wear. The tracking chip was put on my left shoe. Body Glide was set out. The Amphipod belt was prepared.  Cell phone put in the belt, Endurolytes packed. “26.2” socks place out.

Checked my prep list 3 times. I am ready!

The Event!

I work a swing shift.  so, 4:15 AM comes awfully early for a guy like me. I kept thinking as I wandered into wakefulness if this was going to be worth it.

I got a cup of coffee while shaking the cobwebs from my eyes. I had to wake up quickly enough to get to the light rail station and buy tickets before the train arrived.

I did all of that.  I was on the “D Line” and headed for the race start line. It was crowded by the 3rd stop (mine). I stood all the way to the convention center stop where I disembarked.

Stop after mine, an RTD Transit Security guy got on.  I asked him if all of the Sunday 5:30 AM Trains were as busy as this one.  He looked at me, and said, “Not hardly!  Generally, these are empty.” He said he was there to check fares, but after seeing the SRO (Standing Room Only) he decided not to.

Needless to say, it was dark out! It was also cold enough out to need the jacket that I was wearing.  This would be the first time that I actually checked gear at an event like this. 

I was going to this event with a good friend, Tom M.  It is always cool to share the experience with a friend.  It took about 10 minutes to get from the Train stop to the start line at Denver’s Civic Center.

It was already a mass of humanity milling around.  We looked at everything and made the circuit a couple of times (mostly due to finding the Gear Check area).

It is fun to watch as others (runners, volunteers and spectators) as they deal with their nervous anticipation.  It is also fun to just watch people!

All too soon, it was time to get to my corral.  A corral is a staging area that is assigned byt the time you anticipate finishing your run.  I dropped Tom off at Corral 5.  I tried to go with the flow to get to my Corral 12. It was way down the block and around the corner.  I found it and entered.

Time was getting short. The wait for the start did not take long.  Soon, we had moved around the corner. Then we could see the start line.  I talked to two ladies standing near me.  It was a first half-marathon for both of them.  One had a daughter there to watch her and the other didn’t have anyone.  Her Bib number was 13515.  I told her that she now had someone watching and anticipating her finish.  Then, the corral sped up and we weren’t far from the line.

I crossed the line, started my Garmin Forerunner 205 and found myself in a half-marathon run! 

The Course

Google RnR Half 10172010

The course took us through downtown Denver, by two of our sports arenas out to City Park, over to Cheesman Park, then back to Civic Center and the finish line.

How can I describe running a half? I think it is a unique experience to each individual. They can attend to what needs to be done, but can also save some concentration for what you can see on your run.  There were a lot of good things to see.

We ran down 14th Street toward the Sports complexes.  We ran by the Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets basketball and Avalanche Hockey) then we headed North to Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies). We turned in to the downtown area.

I did have water and Cytomax (most excellent sports drink) at every water station along the way except for the last one.  After 12 miles, I knew I could go to the finish without any more.

The hill on 17th out of downtown was a surprise to a lot of runners.  I turned to the young lady next to me and told her that the course reminded of going to public school as a youngster.  “Uphill both ways.” She told me that her Father always said that and, “He had to beat off bears using his loose leaf binder.”  She said ‘It’s really rough in Montana!”

I ran up to another clydesdale as he ran the hill. “Just fine!” he said, “Right after this hill!”

Soon it was done.  Then we started the gradual uphill through 17th street neighborhoods toward Denver’s City Park.  City park has a large museum and our Zoo in it.  We ran right by the backside of one and the front side of the other.  City park also has restrooms with running water in ‘em.  It was my single rest stop on the entire course.

Halfway through the park, I met my fellow Clydesdale again.  “I see you made the hill!” I said.  “Yes” he retorted!  “Thanks for the encouragement!”

I was about half-way through, when I came up to a lady with a set pace.  “I see you’ve trained,” I told her.  She enjoyed hearing that. “It’s my second half,” she said.  She said she was doing it to give her an on-going project and to keep her healthy in her retirement.  We talked for a while and then I ran on.  “Thanks for the inspiration!” She told me as we parted.

I was running an out and back when I felt a tap on the shoulder.  “You’re doing great!” she told me, “Do you remember me?”  She was one of the 2 ladies from the corral at the start line.  “Aren’t some of these people’s stories regarding running, great?” She asked.  I told her, “Yes!”

I explained that I was into running as I was once much larger.  My Doctor told me to exercise or die, so I started running.  She looked at me and told me that she is an Intensive Care Unit nurse. She said that she would much rather meet me as a runner in a race rather then a patient where she works.  I thanked her for that inspiration!

The turn-around point on 17th Street was near the ten mile mark.  There was a left hand turn onto York or Josephine Street.  We turned to the right onto 13th Street.  Soon after, we ran up that short, sweet hill at the entry to Cheesman Park, then a long gradual one to the formal gardens.  Level and somewhat downhill through another third of the park.  As we neared the exit (and the Half-marathon/Marathon split), the hill made it’s presence know again.  We left the park and were back out on 13th again. 

So close to the finish now with a gradual downhill (after all, what goes up must come down (Eventually)).  So, I increased my speed a bit more.

Soon, I had a view of the Denver Art Museum and knew that this day’s trek was almost over.  I turned the corner onto Bannock Street.  I could see the finish line now.  Somehow, I found the energy to increase my sped a bit more!  I may not have passed many but I did put the rush on. With a smile on my face, and my hands in the air, I crossed the finish line!  My race was done!

The Chute

The Chute is a secured area after a runner crosses the finish line.  It is the place that you get your medal, that medics observe you, that water, sports drinks and various and sundry foodstuffs are made available.

The chute in Denver was long. It wrapped half of a city block.  As I passed through it, I thought it would never end. I got my cell phone out and called Tom.  He had finished about a half an hour before I did.  I wanted him to know that I finished. We agreed on a meeting place, but I had just completed 13.1 miles, and forgot where it was almost immediately.  Plenty of time for that later.

I went to the Medal station first.  A young lady handed me the medal that I earned.  I told her that I have a tradition of giving a hug to the person that gives me my medal. She agreed and gave me a hug.  I rounded the first corner, and saw the “Free Hugs” station.  How novel!  Of course, I had to go and get mine!

Water was next. Yes, I needed some by that point!

Rock and Roll events offer you a “Finisher” photo.  The next station is where I had my picture taken!

After that was more water and Cytomax.  Then, there was the food.  Apple slices, crackers, chips, granola, orange slices; if you wanted it, it was probably there.  I was offered Jalapeno popcorn, but opted for the sweet flavor of caramel corn, instead. 

Finally, I neared the end of the secured area.  I had finished the race, and now I had finished the chute.

Denver RnR Medal 101710

The Aftermath

I walked out and there was Tom grinning at me!  We had both finished our latest half-marathons.  We compared our identical medals (mine was the better one even if they were identical).

As the course end was on the South and West side of Civic Center and The Chute covered the North side and half of the East side, we made a few wrong turns before we figured out an escape route.  It was a lot of fun watching the people as we prepared to leave.

It was a slow walk (with sore muscles) as we headed back toward the light rail station. A great day for a great race!

BTW…  The other lady at the start line?  She finished.  As her only person at the race cheering for her, I am so proud of her!

 

 

 

 

written by Charlie

The Shirt The Medal 10182010

The shirt and the medal!

It used to be the Denver Marathon.  The Rock and Roll organization took it over and this year was the Inaugural event. A full marathon, a half-marathon, and a full marathon relay was offered.  I ran the Half!

Participating in an organized run starts with mental processes.  What distance? Where? How much do I want to pay? What do I want out of it?

2010 I set aside as a Rock and Roll bling year.  That means that I wanted to get medals for my running.  In addition to the medal that you get for finishing, you can get additional medals for the number of events and the distance.

That set my sights on Rock and Roll events.  In December 2009, I ran the half in Vegas, in January 2010, I ran the half in Phoenix. In June, I ran the full marathon in Seattle. Finally, in October on Sunday, the 17th, I ran the Denver Half.

The extra bling for this year will be the Desert Double Down (for running both Vegas and Phoenix), the “39.3” medal for 39.3 miles up to Seattle, and I should have earned a “26.2” (2 half-marathons in 2010), and the “Triple Crown” for running 3 events in 2010.

But that is really neither here nor there.  What I want to talk about is the Rock and Roll Denver Inaugural Half-Marathon.

The Denver Event

Preparation

Running the half is the last thing you do in preparation for it.

Choose an event.  A lot of that will be what works for you.  City, distance, elevation, etc.

Register for that event.  Pay the money and get yourself ready to run it.

It starts with choosing a training plan.  They’re available from many sources and for many levels of ability and experience. If you are interested, Google “half-marathon training plans.” Read them to see if the plan is a fit for you.

Train.  Learn to respect the distance.  Follow the plan that you chose for you. You are not only training yourself to run the distance, you’ll also learn a lot about what assists you in achieving that distance. Things like nutrition, apparel, shoes and ability will all be learned during the training plan AND periods that you experience.  Pay attention and learn.  Then apply what you have learned during the event.

If it is a first event, take your time.  Watch and learn. Talk to other runners.  You are going to do something cool and you’ll remember it in a positive way for a long time.

The Day Before

The Rock and Roll series have an Expo for 2 days prior to the event.  In Denver, the expo was held in the Colorado Convention Center. An expo serves 2 purposes.  The first is a method for you to pickup your number bib, your free technical shirt, and your goody bag. The second is a method to sell you stuff.  Wait…  Maybe I should have said that it is an opportunity for you to realize what is being offered in the field of running.

Our convention center is in Downtown Denver.  For most of us that means you don’t want to drive as you’ll need to park.  Rather than deal with that problem, I decided to take the Light Rail with some friends.

It ended up being a great way to get downtown. The light rail even has a stop at the Convention Center. How much easier than that can it get?

Now, I did drag a trash bag with 8 pair of running shoes with me.  They are the shoes that are too old to continue to run in.  I brought them to the booth for Give Your Sole !  They recycle all shoes brought in by giving them to a local charity that can use them.  In our case, they will go to the Denver Rescue Mission!

I walked the entire Expo, tasting nutritional supplements, sport drinks; I looked at apparel and shoes.  I bought a great pair of Mizuno Elixir 5 shoes at a great price, some head bands, and some Body Glide.

Tom set it up to meet a good friend that he’s never met in person before!

Expo Annie & Tom

It was a great expo!

On the way home, there were several gear bags fresh from the expo slung over people’s shoulders.  We had great conversation encouraging each other and reviewing our running histories!

When I got home, I checked my list and set up my gear for the morning.  Bib number 12560 got mounted on the shirt I was going to wear. The tracking chip was put on my left shoe. Body Glide was set out. The Amphipod belt was prepared.  Cell phone put in the belt, Endurolytes packed. “26.2” socks place out.

Checked my prep list 3 times. I am ready!

The Event!

I work a swing shift.  so, 4:15 AM comes awfully early for a guy like me. I kept thinking as I wandered into wakefulness if this was going to be worth it.

I got a cup of coffee while shaking the cobwebs from my eyes. I had to wake up quickly enough to get to the light rail station and buy tickets before the train arrived.

I did all of that.  I was on the “D Line” and headed for the race start line. It was crowded by the 3rd stop (mine). I stood all the way to the convention center stop where I disembarked.

Stop after mine, an RTD Transit Security guy got on.  I asked him if all of the Sunday 5:30 AM Trains were as busy as this one.  He looked at me, and said, “Not hardly!  Generally, these are empty.” He said he was there to check fares, but after seeing the SRO (Standing Room Only) he decided not to.

Needless to say, it was dark out! It was also cold enough out to need the jacket that I was wearing.  This would be the first time that I actually checked gear at an event like this. 

I was going to this event with a good friend, Tom M.  It is always cool to share the experience with a friend.  It took about 10 minutes to get from the Train stop to the start line at Denver’s Civic Center.

It was already a mass of humanity milling around.  We looked at everything and made the circuit a couple of times (mostly due to finding the Gear Check area).

It is fun to watch as others (runners, volunteers and spectators) as they deal with their nervous anticipation.  It is also fun to just watch people!

All too soon, it was time to get to my corral.  A corral is a staging area that is assigned byt the time you anticipate finishing your run.  I dropped Tom off at Corral 5.  I tried to go with the flow to get to my Corral 12. It was way down the block and around the corner.  I found it and entered.

Time was getting short. The wait for the start did not take long.  Soon, we had moved around the corner. Then we could see the start line.  I talked to two ladies standing near me.  It was a first half-marathon for both of them.  One had a daughter there to watch her and the other didn’t have anyone.  Her Bib number was 13515.  I told her that she now had someone watching and anticipating her finish.  Then, the corral sped up and we weren’t far from the line.

I crossed the line, started my Garmin Forerunner 205 and found myself in a half-marathon run! 

The Course

Google RnR Half 10172010

The course took us through downtown Denver, by two of our sports arenas out to City Park, over to Cheesman Park, then back to Civic Center and the finish line.

How can I describe running a half? I think it is a unique experience to each individual. They can attend to what needs to be done, but can also save some concentration for what you can see on your run.  There were a lot of good things to see.

We ran down 14th Street toward the Sports complexes.  We ran by the Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets basketball and Avalanche Hockey) then we headed North to Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies). We turned in to the downtown area.

I did have water and Cytomax (most excellent sports drink) at every water station along the way except for the last one.  After 12 miles, I knew I could go to the finish without any more.

The hill on 17th out of downtown was a surprise to a lot of runners.  I turned to the young lady next to me and told her that the course reminded of going to public school as a youngster.  “Uphill both ways.” She told me that her Father always said that and, “He had to beat off bears using his loose leaf binder.”  She said ‘It’s really rough in Montana!”

I ran up to another clydesdale as he ran the hill. “Just fine!” he said, “Right after this hill!”

Soon it was done.  Then we started the gradual uphill through 17th street neighborhoods toward Denver’s City Park.  City park has a large museum and our Zoo in it.  We ran right by the backside of one and the front side of the other.  City park also has restrooms with running water in ‘em.  It was my single rest stop on the entire course.

Halfway through the park, I met my fellow Clydesdale again.  “I see you made the hill!” I said.  “Yes” he retorted!  “Thanks for the encouragement!”

I was about half-way through, when I came up to a lady with a set pace.  “I see you’ve trained,” I told her.  She enjoyed hearing that. “It’s my second half,” she said.  She said she was doing it to give her an on-going project and to keep her healthy in her retirement.  We talked for a while and then I ran on.  “Thanks for the inspiration!” She told me as we parted.

I was running an out and back when I felt a tap on the shoulder.  “You’re doing great!” she told me, “Do you remember me?”  She was one of the 2 ladies from the corral at the start line.  “Aren’t some of these people’s stories regarding running, great?” She asked.  I told her, “Yes!”

I explained that I was into running as I was once much larger.  My Doctor told me to exercise or die, so I started running.  She looked at me and told me that she is an Intensive Care Unit nurse. She said that she would much rather meet me as a runner in a race rather then a patient where she works.  I thanked her for that inspiration!

The turn-around point on 17th Street was near the ten mile mark.  There was a left hand turn onto York or Josephine Street.  We turned to the right onto 13th Street.  Soon after, we ran up that short, sweet hill at the entry to Cheesman Park, then a long gradual one to the formal gardens.  Level and somewhat downhill through another third of the park.  As we neared the exit (and the Half-marathon/Marathon split), the hill made it’s presence know again.  We left the park and were back out on 13th again. 

So close to the finish now with a gradual downhill (after all, what goes up must come down (Eventually)).  So, I increased my speed a bit more.

Soon, I had a view of the Denver Art Museum and knew that this day’s trek was almost over.  I turned the corner onto Bannock Street.  I could see the finish line now.  Somehow, I found the energy to increase my sped a bit more!  I may not have passed many but I did put the rush on. With a smile on my face, and my hands in the air, I crossed the finish line!  My race was done!

The Chute

The Chute is a secured area after a runner crosses the finish line.  It is the place that you get your medal, that medics observe you, that water, sports drinks and various and sundry foodstuffs are made available.

The chute in Denver was long. It wrapped half of a city block.  As I passed through it, I thought it would never end. I got my cell phone out and called Tom.  He had finished about a half an hour before I did.  I wanted him to know that I finished. We agreed on a meeting place, but I had just completed 13.1 miles, and forgot where it was almost immediately.  Plenty of time for that later.

I went to the Medal station first.  A young lady handed me the medal that I earned.  I told her that I have a tradition of giving a hug to the person that gives me my medal. She agreed and gave me a hug.  I rounded the first corner, and saw the “Free Hugs” station.  How novel!  Of course, I had to go and get mine!

Water was next. Yes, I needed some by that point!

Rock and Roll events offer you a “Finisher” photo.  The next station is where I had my picture taken!

After that was more water and Cytomax.  Then, there was the food.  Apple slices, crackers, chips, granola, orange slices; if you wanted it, it was probably there.  I was offered Jalapeno popcorn, but opted for the sweet flavor of caramel corn, instead. 

Finally, I neared the end of the secured area.  I had finished the race, and now I had finished the chute.

Denver RnR Medal 101710

The Aftermath

I walked out and there was Tom grinning at me!  We had both finished our latest half-marathons.  We compared our identical medals (mine was the better one even if they were identical).

As the course end was on the South and West side of Civic Center and The Chute covered the North side and half of the East side, we made a few wrong turns before we figured out an escape route.  It was a lot of fun watching the people as we prepared to leave.

It was a slow walk (with sore muscles) as we headed back toward the light rail station. A great day for a great race!

BTW…  The other lady at the start line?  She finished.  As her only person at the race cheering for her, I am so proud of her!

 

 

 

 

written by Charlie

What?

Another article on home theater personal computers?  Whatever for?

Simple…  I was tired of paying for television service.Over 8 months ago, I said goodbye to DirectTV.  They were too expensive for the few stations that I actually watched.  The problem was the shows I liked were all on premium channels that cost more or were in a special programming package. 

The good news is that I get digital television from an antenna over the air and other programming from the web.  I did (and am keeping) get the basic NetFlix package (primarily for the streaming ability). 

The initial HTPC was (and still is) a home-build.  You can read about the basic build here .  Basically, it is a Windows XP Professional OS, AMD 3800+ dual core processor with 2 gigs memory running at 2GHz.

For this build, I upped the memory another gig of ram and installed a much better video card for playback.  I installed SageTV software for the television part of it (including a digital video recorder -DVR). I also installed hard wired network cable.  I had Mozilla Firefox for the internet web browser.

I also had three tuners.  2 are USB tuners (Hauppage HVR-950Q & PCTV 800e) and I had an ATI PCI Express X1 card.

Troubles.

When you see a landscaping vista on the television, I would get choppy video that would disrupt the viewing comfort.  Mostly on television watching, or watching recordings.

SageTV is good software.  I am thinking that for me? It is software that is too good.  It is very programmable. I was constantly setting and re-setting the parameters that the software runs under.  Some facets would improve, some would degrade, but I could never get it right.  I honestly though it was the build.

A Mac Mini, maybe?

I have a roommate.  Tom is also my friend.  He was thinking of getting an upgraded Mac Mini to replace the one that he has now.  That would leave his old unit available to configure as an HTPC.  This computer is an Intel dual core processor running 2 gigs of memory at 2.00 GHz.  So…  Both the Mac Mini and the WinXP build were similar.

After a few days of research, and some help from some friends, I downloaded software called, “Plex” from Plexapps.com.  It is amazing software.  It will turn your mac into an excellent media server thats seeks things off of the web and off of your hard drive in a user configured way. To get television on Plex (or on the Mac without the Plex software), I did additional research.  Everything that I saw tended to suggest the use of EyeTV software.

I got the software only as I already had tuners that would work with it.  I set it up on my MacBook first and got excellent results.  I ran both Plex and EyeTV with good results.  I tried it on the Mac Mini and it worked well there, too.  Main problem? EyeTV would only use one tuner.  You can watch or you can record. That is all.  There is not trial period so you can try the software, either. 

At this point, I was blaming it on the Windows Operating System as opposed to the software on it.

Was the Decision Made?

Well… No.  A new Mac Mini would be $700 approximately.  Would we really need to spend that much to get smooth video? Rather than doing that, we decided to do more research.

Would different DVR/Television software for the Windows HTPC be an option?

Every Windows TV tuner comes with software that will allow you to use that tuner with the Windows OS.  Not necessarily slick software, but working. Still not a solution.

More research.  The only real competition for SageTV in SnapStream’s Beyond TV. I read up on it and downloaded the trial software.

The software loaded and ran with no problems.  Or almost no problems.  My zipcode is 80113. When I entered that into the Beyond TV setup program, it threw a real clinker into the works.  The program guide gave me stations that I didn’t know and would not tune in.

So, I go rid of it all and started over.  What a change when I entered a zipcode that it recognized for my area.  From there, setup was simple and effective.

Setup did take a long time.  Each tuner has to be loaded in and each channel tested.  You only have to do once for each tuner.  It does take time to do.

SO Far…

I am impressed with the user interface, the actions and the presentation of everything the Beyond TV does. I’d like to emphasize that it looks good, it does not bog the computer down, the video is smooth. It looks as good as getting the digital signal thought the TV tuner.

I’ll let you know if it survives the trial period of 21 days.

Running?

Oh, yeah…  Recreation with Charlie…

Last week, I did 5 runs for 27.37 miles @ a 10:36 pace.

For September, I ran 14 times for 71.82 miles @ a 10:43 pace.

For 2010, I’ve run 188 runs for 1023.96 miles @ a 10:34 pace.

The next competitions are “Fans of the Field” a 6.2 mile run that visits all of Denver’s major sports stadiums.  You can read about it at http://www.fansonthefield.com/  . That will happen on October 10th.

The Denver Inaugural Rock and Roll half-marathon It will be held on October 17th. I am running it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

written by Charlie

Tom Charlie Seattle RnR

(Thank you, Char! This picture is courtesy of Charlene Huang-Roberts facebook page!)

I work the swing shift.  Afternoon and evening.  When I have to get up at 3:30 AM, either something catastrophic has happened or I am dedicated to something!  It was the latter.  I had to get ready to run a marathon.

 

Several months ago my friend, Tom, decided that he wanted to do a marathon run. Tom and I have been friends since elementary school.  I decided to run the same one with him.  He is faster than I am so I doubted that we’d run it together, but we could train and learn the process together. I’ve done this before, so we could draw from what I had learned as we progressed through the training.  We decided to use Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I marathon training schedule as our base.

 

I ran with another friend, too.  Her name is Penelope The Cat. Penelope is an internet phenomenon. She has been a little bit of everywhere across the world. If I was going to cross the finish line, she was going to be there with me.  You can find out more about her at http://www.facebook.com/penelopethecat.

 

Remember that this would be my 3rd attempt at a marathon distance.  I failed to complete at Chicago in 2008 falling to the ground with debilitating lower leg cramps at the 40 kilometer mark (I’ve learned to conquer that problem since). I did complete the Las Vegas Marathon in December of 2008 bringing it in at 6:04:22.

 

My brother, Clint and his lovely wife Susan, were kind enough to provide his house as a base for our Seattle activities. They live North of the city. We had to get up early to catch a shuttle from a hotel just north of city center.

 

Everyone has their own procedure for race preparation.  The evening before I made sure that I had what I needed for the morning.  It would be an easy matter to get up, eat, dress and get out the door in an easy manner.  Clint had volunteered to shuttle us to the shuttle bus location. 

 

The morning was cloud covered, cool and somewhat misty. By the time we made the journey, the mist had cleared. Clint dropped us off 1 block from the shuttle bus loading zone. We got right on the bus and we were off. We were headed for the starting line of the 2010 Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

 

Everyone on this school bus shuttle was a competitor. They were all nervous and contemplating what they were about to do.  We talked about what we registered for, our sport watches, & recent aches and pains. One runner said he stubbed hi big toe badly recently. It was black and blue, but the Doctor gave him clearance to run, so he was going for the half.

 

Then, we arrived. We were at the staging area for the start line at the Seattle RnR 2010 race! We found ourselves a city block away from an industrial park in Tukwila, Washington. We followed the other runners over.  The next hour was spent just looking.  There was water, fruit, bagels and Cytomax. There were several UPS trucks at the gear station. There were also a whole heck of a lot of porta potties. No lines when we arrived, but long, long lines as the start time approached.

 

We checked out the corrals at the start line.  A corral is an assigned starting position based on the finish time that you gave yourself at registration. I had Corral 27. Tom was assigned to Corral 22.  In total, there were 39 Corrals. At the back of the line was the silver car that denoted the end of the competition. It was the car that would run the course at the very end of the assigned time closing the course.

 

As zero time approached, we went to our corrals. Tom and I had talked about it time and time again, but we went over it again. Start out slow. When you think you are slow enough, slow it down a little bit more.  The start is a good time to conserve energy that you’ll need toward the end.  Tom’s brother, Don, had called the day before and reminded us both of that. In January, Don completed his first marathon at the Phoenix RnR! It was advice based on his own real experience.

 

I entered corral 27 and looked about.  There was a younger man standing close by.  I saw that he had a yellow bib.  The yellow bib was the full marathon color. He told me that this was his first marathon and that it was a “Bucket list” item. I told him that it was my second attempt at a marathon completion.

 

7:00 AM was approaching quickly by now.  We had the privilege of having John Bingham (waddle on, penguin) as the announcer!  I looked about again and Pat had moved on. The line grew quiet as the national anthem was sung. The countdown to the start of the race commenced and this competition was on!

 

To a runner this is a special period of time. I contemplated the task that I had taken on. I thought about the weeks of training that I had completed. You could hear the nervous contemplation as corral after corral was started. As my corral got closer and closer to the start line, my nervousness grew and grew. Tom’s corral 22 started their run 34 minutes after the start gun. My corral started 43 minutes after the gun.

 

We got our “Go” and I started to run. Before I had run far, Pat was at my side. He told me that he’d like to run with me if he could. Well, misery loves company and so do marathoners!  We ran the entire course together.  We discussed a lot about running and Pat shared his knowledge of the area with me. We made a great team.

 

We ran at a pace of about 12 minute miles. The first half was very scenic. We ran through industrial areas, nice neighborhoods, parks, and along the shore of Lake Washington. We contemplated the floating bridge as we approached it. Then we converged on the first split point. Full marathon runners were to run to the right, half marathoners to the left. As Pat and I moved over, the half runners cheered us on! We returned the favor. We were on the floating bridge and headed across Lake Washington soon after. 

 

There weren’t many hills to this point. If there were, it didn’t matter as we were still fresh. The floating bridge did have a ramp down and into the bridge, and up again at the other end. As it was an out-and-back at this point, so we had it to do again. There was a slight breeze that cooled us off under those cloudy skies.  Pat found some friends headed back across the bridge, and I saw Tom. We stopped and caught up but you don’t finish until you run, so on we went.

 

After the floating bridge we entered our first tunnel. It wasn’t very long and we were back out and into the light.  They had split the courses after the floating bridge. We ran on one side of the road and the halvers on the other.  We passed the 12 miles mark and then came up on the 13.1 (halfway) mark. I looked at the Halvers and told ‘em that we had completed 13.1! Then I said that it was OK, though, as we had the same distance to go!

 

We were in the sports area of Seattle. I remember Safeco and Qwest Fields.  Soon, the Halvers would again split and head for their finish line.  We were at one cross walk watching as some Halvers who had finished were crossing the course. I stopped one young lady asking to see her medal.  It looked great! I commended her. She saw my bib and commented on my being a marathon runner. I told her not to worry as Pat and I were on our way to a finish. We took off again.

 

Seattle downtown was a fun part of the run. We ran down some steeps headed toward the water front. We headed toward the Alaskan Viaduct. At the split, we marathon runners headed North as the Halvers headed for their finish line. We wished them luck and ran on the middle level of the viaduct.

 

 The viaduct was not too bad headed North. We were covered and cool as we headed toward the tunnel.

 

At this marathon, there were medical people with red shirts on bicycles. They were observant and everywhere. Tom told me that one was behind him and commented that his shoulders were too tight.  He loosened them up and felt better.  He did say that he had to turn around and comment that she was just making him nervous after a while.  She smiled and moved on.

 

The tunnel was interesting. Noise echoed the entire length. I took the opportunity here to take a couple of electrolyte supplements. There was a DJ spinning disks near the end that had music on way too loud.  Hurt the ears.

 

Pat sure enjoys his music!  At every band and chance to dance, he did.  The bands picked up on that. It was enjoyable all the way around.  This was a Rock and Roll event and there were bands all the way along the course.

 

We came out of the tunnel into faded sunshine. It felt good to have some warmth. This was at mile 16. The course had been slowly gaining elevation.  It would continue to gain all the way to the Aurora bridge.

 

We crossed the bridge and got a break from the climb.  I knew that we were on a bridge but my concentration was on our endeavor. I wanted to get the view but I also wanted to achieve the end. To conserve energy, we ran right down the middle and not the edge. So…  No view. On the other side, it was a few blocks to another turn around point. We were headed South again.

 

Mile 19 was just past the South end of the bridge.  We started the run and I felt cramping in my lower legs.  I reached for my coin purse with the electrolytes. It was not there! I must have dropped it in the tunnel.  Shades of Chicago! What was I going to do. Pat agreed to walk for a while (What a great guy)! As we passed the next water station, there were salt packets (the kind you get at fast food joints). We both downed one. I grabbed some extra packs. We washed it down with bot water and Cytomax. Now it was time to see if it would work.

 

It was after the water station that I decided to down another salt pack. Pat did one, too.  It left the nasty taste of salt in the mouth until the next water station.  BUT…  The cramps were easing up.  Soon, we were alternating running and walking.  We passed the 20 mile mark.  Pat and I were on the final 6.2!  This was a doable competition now!

 

Water on the North side of the Viaduct came from hose water and tasted like it.  No way around it, I suppose, but it was noticeable.

 

We entered the Viaduct tunnel headed South. It was about the same length as the other side but much quieter.  We exited the other side into some bold sunshine. Didn’t matter, though. We were nearing the end.  We were on the upper level of the Viaduct now.

Miles 21 and 22 passed.  Running, walking, running, walking…  Nice and level at this point.  We kept on going.

 

Mile 23 passed.  I thought that I was running long.  After all, the race was a 7:00 hour maximum.  I knew that Pat and I would make it, though. Up ahead, the viaduct was ending.  It appeared to be a ramp headed down. What lies ahead now?

 

We neared it and watched as others ahead of us were reaching another ramp leading down to the finish line.

 

Expecting some relief, we saw that at the bottom of the ramp the course continued (and continued and continued).  We could see the turn around, but it was a ways up there. At the bottom of the ramp was the 25 mile marker for those closer to the finish line. I wouldn’t be long now! W e ran and we walked.  It took a long time (seemingly) but we reached the 24 mile marker a little before the turn-around. There was a Med station there.  Behind that there were two “Vulture” buses. It was their job to take those who couldn’t finish to the final staging area.

 

Pat and I bolstered each other up and kept going.  We ran toward the 25 mile marker. The ramp after the marker was steep. We decided to walk it. At the top, we started to run again. It felt good to know that the finish was so near. We were going to finish!

 

Soon, we were at the final downhill ramp.  We passed the 26 mile marker on level ground.  There was a left turn and then another left turn and we could see the finish line. Pat and I looked at each other. We made it! He was kind enough to let me go ahead. I dropped my glove and got Penelope The Cat out. She went into my right hand for the finish line.

 

I heard my name being yelled. I turned to the right and there was Manager John and GAG Char cheering us to the finish line.  My arms went up and I smiled. I crossed the finish line! Marathon number 2 is in the bag!

 

Pat and I shook hands, hugged and congratulated each other. Tom was there waiting for me.  We congratulated each other on a marathon completion. Tom had come back to get a picture of both of us at the finish. What a guy!

 

My medal record goes on!  I waited for a young lady handing out medals to place mine over my neck. She put her hand out but I asked for my usual hug. She agreed!

 

We got water, granola bars and fruit. We left the finishers chute. Poor John and Char.  Here was a sweaty, large guy that just finished a marathon refusing their out stretched hands for a full body hug!

 

Unfortunately, Clint and Susan missed my finish again.  They met us soon after.  I don’t like to think this now but I might have to run another so they can see me finish one!

 

It was great weather and a great personal achievement.  I did feel a disappointment as I saw the finish clock was at 06:31…  I missed my PR I was trying for.  It wasn’t until several hours that I found out that it took me 43 minutes to pass the start line.  SO…  I DID PR! My new Personal Record was 15 minutes and 39 seconds better than my first.

 

As we were leaving the area to get the car, a familiar face came out of a restaurant. Pat!! He said that he was telling his family of our experiences together when he saw me!  Coincidence?  Who knows…  Pat was a great guy to run with and it made this race a great experience! Thank you so much, Pat!

 

Oh, yeah…  Tom…  My friend, Tom, did a great thing.  One of the Team-In-Training people was having a hard time at the 19 mile mark. Tom saw her and talked to her. He recognized that she had the spirit but could use some help. She felt exhausted and was contemplating dropping out. He offered her some of his energy gel, some encouraging words and an endurolyte or two.  He stayed with her until the end.  That made the marathon experience even better when 2 runners can assist each other to make it work.  Congratulations to both Tom and Elizabeth for your spectacular finish together!

 

Seattle RnR Medal

Overall, a great day for everyone involved!

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