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Posts from — April 2011

Moving my Life and Running to Costa Rica

I like the old mining term, “pulling up stakes.” Back in the day, gold miners would work a piece of land they had staked out (literally and figuratively), enjoy the fruits of their labor, and then quickly escape when the ore ceased to flow from under the ground. They would then listen to the chatter in the wind, make a gamble on the latest buzz of gold fever, all in an effort to improve their lives and discover the next great mother lode. A mother lode by definition is a principal vein or zone of veins of gold or silver ore.

You may be wondering why the heck I’m making all these references to the Gold Rush, mining towns, and big payoffs. Here is your answer: I’m pulling up the stakes I sunk into Bend, OR two years ago to begin something new. Like the miners of old, I have enjoyed my time here, I have tasted the ripe fruit of endless trails, mountain vistas, friendly kind outdoorsy people, and have enjoyed and grown as a person during my time here. Unfortunately, the vein of ore I have chipping away at has run dry. Therefore, it’s time for me to move on. I’ve listened to the chatter in the wind, researched all the corners of the world, have taken into consideration my wants and needs, and have found the proverbial Comstock Lode. I’ve found my next move, I’m sinking stakes in Costa Rica.

The people of Costa Rica have a slogan that is said to represent the culture and life of its people; Pura Vida. Pure Life. Since I already referenced one definition, here are a few more:
Pure: Unmixed with any other matter.
Life: The quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body.
This is what I’m after. I want to experience whatever that quality is that gives life to the inanimate, devoid of any other matter that seeks to detract from its purity.
I have many things I want to do while down there. Run, read, write, blog, hang out with the locals, become fluent in Spanish, travel to other central American countries, teach English, volunteer, bask in the brilliance of the sun, ponder past epiphanies but still live in the moment, grow, learn, live.
I’ll be living with a host family in Heredia, Costa Rica for the first few months. The ‘host mother’ is Mizonil aka Mizo and she doesn’t speak any English. Hence, I’ll be forced to work on my Spanish daily. She has the internet so I’ll be able to update my blog regularly. I hope to do a lot of correr del barrio (neighborhood running) in Heredia and correr de huella (trail running) in the jungles outside of town. Mostly as a sidenote to put my mother at ease, I have been actively seeking running buddies to run with, mostly to accompany me and serve as more bait for the wild animals de la selva (of the jungle). There is a great running community in Costa Rica so I’m sure I’ll be able to scrounge up some running partners when I want to venture out into the wilds.

I could go on and on about my plans and ideas, I could be down there for 2 months or 20 years, I may find Pura Vida or no vida, all I know is that I’m excited about this next step FORWARD. Some could contend that it is actually a step backwards but those words would probably be spoken from people who don’t know my specific circumstances or know what I need in life to feel alive.

So this blog will most definitely look a little different once I get down to Costa Rica. I’ll probably start taking a lot more photos on my runs. I’m looking forward to running long long long distances where I can stop along the way, take a few pictures, take in the sights, chat with roadside feral cats and lazy donkeys, and really just step away from the racing mentality of hitting splits, maintaining pace, monitoring lactate buildup and everything else that comes along with trying to race at peak performance.
I haven’t ran into any other blogs specifically about running in Costa Rica/Abroad and am excited to create some content that is a little more out of the ordinary. I’m sure I’ll weave in other topics that tug on my heart while I’m down there too; politics and social justice issues come to mind.
The ticket it booked, I’m flying out May 30th, I’m going no matter what.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Thanks for reading.


April 30, 2011   3 Comments

2011 Stanford Invite Men’s 10k: The Duel to the Death

This Sunday night will perhaps be the most electrifying 10,000 meter race of the year. The Payton Jordan Stanford Invitational has become the ‘go-to’ meet for professionals looking to go big or go home. It is the perfect opportunity to go for national and world qualifying standards and show off their fitness from a winter of hard grueling work. I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve watched with athletes saying, “There’s just something special about the Stanford track. It’s fast!” There are so many intriguing stories within this great meet— I’m going to focus on just one.

Last year the marquee event was the men’s 10k and this year is no different. This Sunday night brings us Solinsky vs. Tegenkamp aka The Duel to the Death. I’ll start with a clip from last year’s 10k at this very meet where Solinsky literally shocked the world by demolishing the old American Record and going sub 27 minutes for 10,000 meters.

This race was absolutely incredible. In the moment I was actually kind of pissed off that Galen Rupp wasn’t able to take this race down. I’ve seen many Rupp/Solinsky battles and have always sided with Galen—but Rupp just got straight up owned. This race catapaulted Chris onto the international racing scene and he continued on to have the best track and field season by an American distance runner by far.

Enter Matt Tegenkamp. What makes this duel so interesting is that it would appear that the two of them are just chummy friends, with their own personal goals, out to run well and get a fast time. But I’m going to venture out and say the real scenario is quite the opposite. These guys go way back to their days as Wisconsin Badgers. Matt was the top veteran, Chris was the new bulky kid with crazy potential. They are now both Oregon Track Club, Nike sponsored runners training in Portland, Oregon.

I don’t care what anyone says about being on the same “team” or being good ole pals, whatever. These guys are runners. Runners, especially professional runners, are all about themselves. They want to win it all, every time, and I’m contending that is makes it all the more sweet when you win a big race over a “buddy ole pal teammate.”
Solinsky may have had the better year last season but Tegenkamp is no slouch. He is one of 6 non-African runners to break the 13 minute barrier in the 5k—of all time (Solinsky is another). What adds a significant amount of juice to this story is that after being a pro for over 6 years now, Matt has not run a 10k! He just doesn’t run them. So really we don’t know what kind of potential he has for this distance. I’m hoping he lays the smack down on Solinsky and the 10k becomes his new bread and butter.

Even Matt knows the enormity of this race.
Side note: I am going to use my world renowned acclaim to call out Galen Rupp right now!
Galen…we want you in this race! Excite us with an entry video of your own! Matt and Chris would be shaking in their boots after what they saw you do at the NYC Half Marathon!
Regardless of who wins this duel of epic proportions, it is sure to be a great race and one to remember. I love the rivalries that develop in distance running and this match up is sure to continue for many years to come.
The meet will be streaming live all afternoon and into the evening Sunday, May 1st but the big The Duel to the Death starts at 9:55pm.
Watch the live coverage at Flotrack.
Geek out with the event entry lists.
Schedule for 2011 Payton Jordan Stanford Invite.

April 28, 2011   No Comments

My Training for Eugene Marathon: Predict my Time!

This upcoming Sunday will be my third time participating in the Eugene Marathon weekend. In 2009 I did the half marathon and last year I did the full. This year I’ll be toeing the yet again to complete the full marathon distance. Eugene is where I grew up so it sort of feels like I have a home field advantage. I have trained on every inch of the course numerous times and I know exactly where I am at each mile checkpoint. I find a little comfort in this.

I’d give the course an 8.5 out of 10 on the fast scale. The first half has a few challenges. Miles 2-5 are slightly inclined and then around mile 9 there’s one 200 meter hill that is of pretty hefty grade. Once you pass this hill though, you are home free, basically pancake flat for the remainder of the race. Miles 20-25 are pretty lonely as you cruise along the Mckenzie river on the bike path. I remember this being a great challenge to push through this portion. These miles are not only inherently the most difficult but you also have to deal with the lack of distraction and fans cheering you on. However, when you start to smell the barn aka Hayward Field, you get an adrenaline burst like nothing else.

Last year my goal was to run sub 2:50. I knew it was going to be close as I hit the track on Hayward Field with 200 meters to go. I look up on the giant video screen to see not only 2:49:18, but also my face and body being followed on the jumbotron. The stands were full, cow bells were rung, screams of encouragement were cheered all to create my favorite running experience to date. I cross the line 2:49:53 absolutely elated! I had pushed so hard to get under 2:50 that I must have looked to be in bad shape. They ended up pulling me into the med tent to let me recover in style. I had this stupid grin on my face accompanied with fatigue and sweat and wild eyes; it was a moment I’ll never forget. You have to be HARDCORE to be pulled into the med tent right??? Not exactly.
On to this year: I’m going to lay out a view facts and I would love to hear any feedback regarding whether or not you think my ‘A’ goal is obtainable. I’m currently in my taper phase and to be honest, my head game is my weakest point right now. It’s so hard to not feel like I’m losing fitness while tapering or that I just didn’t get enough miles in to run fast. Here’s my last 12 weeks, let me know what you think!
A Goal: Sub 2:40 (6:07 per mile)
B Goal: PR (current PR is 2:49:53)
12 weeks out:
Mileage: 53.51
Key Workout: 4 by mile @ 5:59, 5:48, 5:39, 5:28.
Long Run: 16 miles
11 weeks out:
Mileage: 35.11
Key Workout: None
Long Run: 8.75
10 weeks out:
Mileage: 54.95
Key Workout: 1600, 1200, 800, 400 @ 5:15, 3:57, 2:30, 1:08
Long Run: 18 miles
9 weeks out:
Mileage: 37.75 miles
Key Workout: 10k race on the track = 33:45
Long Run: 10
8 weeks out:
Mileage: 66
Key Workout: 10 mile tempo = 60:30
Long Run: 20 miles
7 weeks out:
Mileage: 70.63
Key Workout: 4, 8, 12, 16, 16, 12, 8, 4 = All at 80 seconds/lap.
Long Run: 22 miles
6 weeks out:
Mileage: 40.15
Key Workout: half marathon race = 1:16:26
Long Run: 16.25
5 weeks out:
Mileage: 61.09
Key Workout: 5k race on the track = 16:10
Long Run: 18 miles
4 weeks out:
Mileage: 71.83
Key Workout: None
Long Run: 21 miles
3 weeks out:
Mileage: 75.96
Key Workout: 12 mile tempo = 1:13:24 @ 6:07 pace (2:40 pace)
Long Run: 23 miles
2 weeks out:
Mileage: 46.1
Key Workout: 5 by 1200 = 5:40 mile pace
Long Run: 13.1
1 week out:
Mileage: will be roughly 25 miles
Key Workout: 5 by mile @ race pace
Long Run: 8
So there you have it! Will this be enough to get me to a sub 2:40 marathon?
To be honest, the aspect I’m most worried about is my mental state. I think I kind of ran myself into the ground with those track races, bigger miles (for me), and now I’m just not feeling all that motivated. I think I was just desperately in need of a taper. My body is feeling better but it’s definitely a challenge to take it easy for a couple weeks and stay pinned up and excited about racing. I feel like I’m getting slow and fat! I know this is probably crazy; tapers are necessary…but still!
My training DID take a giant leap during this marathon cycle. I really did get in almost everything I wanted to without any major hiccups. My body handled bigger miles this time around with 5 weeks in the 60’s and 70’s per week. I’m excited about that and I think I’ll be able to build on that for my next marathon as well.
I have one more week to get through until race day. I have done the training but the hardest part is still ahead. I can’t stop thinking about those last 6 miles of the marathon. I know they are going to be hell but if I can hang tough and do my best, I know I’ll set a good mark that I can be proud of. Now that my body if feeling recovered, I’m going to start working on building myself up mentally. This will include many nights of watching Flotrack videos, race visualization, and without a doubt I’ll be watching the documentary about legendary U of Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine, “Fire on the Track,” the night before the race.
If you have any input on my training, a time prediction, or general advice; let me have it!!!

April 25, 2011   4 Comments

New Balance REVlite 890 Shoe Review

I recently had a chance to run in the New Balance REVlite 890’s. Right when I picked up the shoe I noticed that New Balance was on to something. The 890 is incredibly light, but it doesn’t sacrifice it’s structure and support to get there. I like that you get to enjoy the weight of a minimalist shoe but still are able to utilize the plush cushioning of the midsole.

Another rad feature is just the fact that the men’s and women’s shoe is a namesake shoe. The names Andy Baddeley and Jenny Barringer (now Simpson) are stitched into the heel wrap of each respective shoe. I’ve been following both there careers, especially Jenny’s, for some time now and I love the fact that they are endorsed my these great runners. One of my favorite races of all time was seeing Jenny go sub-4 in the 1500 in Eugene, OR at Hayward field in her last year as a Colorado Buffalo. That was her first big moment when people were like, “Hold up, this girl is gooood. Nike better get on that.” But somehow New Balance picked her up and this shoe is evidence that they are investing a lot in her and her future.

In addition to the super light material of the midsole, it also sports a 23 to 11 cm drop. This is just enough to cushion your heel but still remain close enough to the ground to feel that natural roll of your foot as you strike and roll to push off.
The upper is manufactured with no-sew seamless welding which provides a comfortable, non abrasive experience for the foot inside this shoe. The weave of the upper is breathable and made with wicking materials to decrease moisture build up for improved comfort.

I’m falling in love with shoes that are considered to have ‘full ground contact geometry.’ This basically means that the outsole is not separated from the heel to the forefoot with a plastic plate or other divisive material. With the REVlite 890 you are in constant contact with the ground for better grip and a more natural ride.

This neutral light weight trainer can truly be used for your day to day runs. This shoe can handle anything from a long 20 miler to a 5 mile tempo run. The cushioning can handle the long stuff and the weight is great for when you want to feel fast and snappy! The only segment that may want to steer clear of this shoe is heavy over-pronators and larger folks. It doesn’t quite have the lateral support to protect this segment.
First the Minimus line now the REVlite 890, it seems New Balance running is really starting to take off. During my years working in a running shoe store, New Balance was always popular with older folks who had been wearing New Balance for decades. Yet they hadn’t quite figured out how to compete with the big boys like Asics, Brooks, and Nike with the running market core. After picking up some great athletes in Anton Krupicka, ‘Jenny B’ as I like to call her, and Andy Baddeley, and then re-vamping their entire ideology and design/management team; New Balance is now a major force to be reckoned with.

Final note: New Balance is the only major running shoe brand to be manufactured in the USA, 25% of the shoes sold in North America are made in the USA. Maybe it’s just me, but in these economic times, I want to support brands that provide jobs domestically, and I like the ongoing commitment of New Balance to do just that.
The New Balance REVlite 890 retails for $90 at Amazon.com
as well as other vendors.

April 23, 2011   2 Comments

Thera-Band Exercises for Runners

One of my day jobs is working as a physical therapist aide for Therapeutic Associates. Basically what I do all day is assist the PT’s by helping them with their patients. This can include taking people through gym exercises, doing ultra sounds on injured body parts, hooking patients up to therapeutic equipment, and doing general clean up in the treatment rooms. The time goes by quickly and I get to meet a lot of cool interesting people. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard!

Thursdays are usually my day off but today all the staff had a mandatory training session with a company called Thera-Band. It was paid and food was provided; sold. Even though I am not a therapist and a lot of the technical and physiological lingo went over my head, I tried to pay attention as best I could, of course, to somehow apply what I was learning to my running regimen.

Thera-Band’s claim to fame and most popular products are their exercise band/tubing. There has been a lot of research that supports using resistance exercise instead of free weights. I got a bunch of free shwag and am excited to start using it instead of weights. I actually just canceled my membership at the local gym which I did for two reasons. One, they discontinued their poor people assistance scholarship program (not what it’s really called) that I had been utilizing. Basically, I just had to show them my pay stubs and they would give me half off. For some reason, that went away, so now I’m going away. Second, my phase of the year with heavy weights and cross training is coming to an end. When the sun is out, who wants to be in a stuffy overcrowded gym? Not me.

The exercise band I was trained with today can be found in almost any physical therapist office and it’s pretty darn cheap. Here are a few exercises that you could integrate into your workout routine that are specific to strengthening a runner’s body:
Thera-Band Tubing Exerises for Runners
These exercises are perfect for toning long lean muscles. For you guys out there this may be a new concept. I too grew up trying to “max out” and see what I could bench. That type of lifting puts on mass, not light nimble strong running muscles. A lot of these exercises are used in our clinic for injury prevention along with general strengthening. This is exactly what I need! In a sport where injuries come like the mail, I will take all the help I can get.

Check out all the free schwag! Also, random side note: yes, I strategically placed ‘Freedom’ by Johnathon Franzen in the picture because I just checked it out from the library and I’m excited to read it!!! I almost bought it for $30 at Barnes the other day. Why?! The library is great. Also yes, that is a Christmas tree in my family room, we leave it up year round…

April 21, 2011   No Comments

2011 Boston Marathon Recap and Results

I could write a novel about the greatness that was the 2011 Boston Marathon. If you want a well-written play by play of the race, read it here. My story is different, it’s just emotion. After the race I was fired up like I’ve never been; I think I actually shadowboxed in the shower as I replayed the race in my head.

Artistic comparisons come to mind. Like how the women’s race was reminiscent of classic literature; the rise and fall of eventual 2nd place finisher American Desiree Davila was a wildly compelling storyline. The climax of her story peaked with her taking the lead with 400 meters to go. The crowd, the announcers, and my own voice were all screaming in angst and awe of the possibility of an American victory in those last moments. It’s been 25 years since an American has won this hallowed race. I yelled at my computer screen multiple times, “Come on baby! Get after it Davila! You gotta go now!” I drank full cups of coffee in seconds. I cursed the announcer for calling Davila, Dasilva—a mockery! I can tell you one thing; after that race, everyone in the running community will know the name Desiree Davila. She was valiant. She was like a hardened medieval warrior. She battled with the best in the world and looked strong doing it. If she would have expected to win, I think she would have. My opinion is that she was so surprised to be in contention, that in the end, she happily settled for second.

Ryan Hall’s 4th place finish was equally incredible. Even now, I can hardly write a coherent sentence because of all that happened. My writing skills are not worthy of capturing the essence of his 2:04:58, the fastest time ever run by an American under any condition. Yes, there was a little tailwind, and yes there is a net loss in elevation at Boston, but this should not take anything away from this time. Stamp that into the record books people because that mark is going to be around awhile. After all the questioning about why he left his old coach to go rogue, why he has bombed in his last couple races, why he is so wrapped up in his faith and God and religion; he vindicated himself today in a big way.

A pair of Kenyans took the top prizes, Kilel and Mutai. They are incredible runners and deserve every second of glory. But for me, Americans Davila and Hall stole my beating heart right out of my chest and pumped it full with passion and fury for running. They made me want to lay it ALL out on the line at my next marathon. This is one of the aspects of the marathon that is so unique; it’s a trial that we can all partake in. The professionals are out there running the same race as the amateurs. Most people can watch a track meet and say, “wow, those are some genetic freak athletes, I can’t identify with them at all…” But with the marathon, everyone who runs one knows what it’s like. Whether you run 2:03 or 5:03, it doesn’t matter; everyone at Boston had put in their own long hard miles and done the work. What a site, what a spectacle, what a display of the human spirit and what it can do to inspire others.
Boston, someday, I’m coming for you…
Complete Boston Marathon Race Results Here.

April 19, 2011   No Comments

Runner’s Knee: strengthening exercises to eradicate this common running injury

Running Tip of the Week #4


Chondromalacia patellae AKA Runner’s Knee refers to the “progressive erosion of the articular cartilage of the knee joint, that is the cartilage underlying the kneecap (patella) that articulates with the knee joint.”
Runner’s knee is one of the most common injuries suffered by runners everywhere. I don’t care whether you run on roads, trails, treadmill, in supportive shoes, orthotics, minimalist shoes or even no shoes; you need to take preventative measures to avoid runner’s knee.

I don’t know any runners to haven’t, at some point in their running career, experienced pain in the knees due to this affliction. Running can be harsh on your body, that’s ok, our bodies are surprisingly resilient. I don’t recommend stopping or cutting back your running (unless in severe pain). What I do recommend though it that you integrate a few key strengthening exercises to make sure you aren’t sidelined by this chronic injury.

The video below gives us four great exercises that we can easily integrate into our life. Do these whenever it
works for you. I think the ideal time to do these exercises is just after you finish your easy day runs. You will be warmed up but not too fatigued to place added stress on your muscles.
I specifically chose this video because it offers you exercises you can do absolutely anywhere at any time. The only tools they use are a step up box and cones. These can easily be replaced by a stump and lawn gnomes…or something like that. Please please please start integrating this into your routine. If you want your running to be sustainable, the sooner you build strength where you need it, the sooner your sidelining injuries will cease to exist.

Finally, if you are already experiencing pain from Runner’s Knee and seek immediate relief; the best treatment is to start these exercises and manually ice twice a day. The best product out there for manual spot treatment icing is the Pro-Tec Ice-Up Portable Ice Massager. This product is stored in your freezer and makes icing easy and convenient for any part of your body. A cheaper option is to freeze water in a dixie cup, then peel off top half of cup and massage.

April 16, 2011   3 Comments

2011 Boston Marathon Preview: Mens Elite

Ok, if you haven’t read my womens elite preview, read that first.

Now on to the Men! Ohhhhh man, this race is going to be good! Let me get a complaint out of the way before I go on. Prepare yourself for this rant. So I went on to the Universal Sports website to see what time the race starts on Monday morning only to find….they are going to be charging money to watch this year!!! What the heck! Yup, a one time fee of $4.99.
I’m starting to worry about the future of the internet. People are charging for EVERYTHING these days. The following is a new tactic that sales and marketing executives across the world are now using. Here is an analogy:
If you are a salesperson for Marlboro, what would be your most effective technique for garnering lifelong loyal customers? Answer: Supply a 13 year old kid with all the cigarettes he wants…FOR FREE…until he gets addicted. Now here’s the money maker; once he is addicted, start charging the sucker money! A little at first (in the case of NBC’s Universal Sports…$4.99), and then over time start bumping that price up until the wallets of the executives are sufficiently FAT. Don’t think that I’m not noticing this, NBC. I’m watching you VERY closely…
All that to say, their evil methods are working because after enjoying loads of live marathon coverage for free, I will now become a paying customer, a sucker. The product is TOO good to avoid!
So folks, sadly, if you want to watch the live feed, you gotta pay up.
On to the race; 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. The mens field is just as stacked as the womens. It’s a little soft on talent outside of Africa but still very intriguing. Here are the top contenders followed by my winner selection and dark horse choice:
Kenyan Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot is, in the words of Randy Jackson, “In it to win it!” He’s the defending champ and course record holder. He has the luxury of cruising up to the line being able to say, “Ya, I’ve run this course faster than anyone else…ever.” He has got to be feeling confident! If he’s in peak fitness, he’s going to be very hard to beat. The one chink in his armor is that the last marathon he raced was Chicago where he finished a mediocre 6th place. We’ll see if that was a fluke.

Ethiopian Gebregziabher Gebremariam is another top condender. I’ll call his GG to simplify that supercalafradgulistic-esque name. GG is the defending NYC marathon champ looking to add another major title to his resume. He had a VERY strong race at the 2011 NYC Half Marathon just a few weeks ago as well. Even though he got nipped at the finish line by Mo Farah, he looked fit! If he’s not in the top 3 I’ll be surprised.

Kenyan Evans Cheruiyot will no doubt be in the mix as well. Cheruiyot must be the ‘Smith’ of Kenya because I often get confused by all these guys with the same name (NATO, can you step in and enforce some name changes please? You know, since you aren’t really busy in Libya or anything…thanks). Evans is the defending Chicago Marathon champ. Chicago is in the fall so if this Cheruiyot has any advantage over the other, it’s that his standout performance last year took place a little more recently.

American Ryan Hall is, in my mind, the only non-African contender. Hall’s recent race performances have been a little spotty but he does have some very strong performances under his belt. He is the fastest American born marathon ever with a 2:06:17 and has finished a legit 4th in his last two major marathon appearances (Boston and New York). My thought on Ryan is that he has the potential to win if he is 100%, but there are a handful of other guys who can win at 90%. EVERYTHING would have to go right for Hall of end up on top.

Throw Back Shot from Stanford Days.

My Pick: GG (Gebregziabher Gebremariam)
Dark Horse: Ethiopian Tadese Tola has had two sub-2:07 int’l marathons last year coming off a weak performance at Chicago in 2009. Now a little more mature at 23, if he can drop another 2:06, he’ll be there in the end.
Ok, there you have it, my 2011 Boston Marathon preview for the mens elite field. If you don’t have the opportunity to tune in Monday morning, be sure to check back at rununtilidie.com to see my post race recap.
I’ll end this post with this. When I think about how excited I am about the Boston Marathon on Monday, this is the SNL video that comes to mind…I’m so FREAKING excited! (Just replace ‘surpise parties’ with ‘boston marathon’)

2011 Boston Marathon Race Recap Now Up!

April 14, 2011   No Comments