What's Your Motive?

What is it that motivates us to lace up our shoes and hit the pavement? Where does this inspiration come from to compete in long distance running? To be honest, we spend months training for a single event logging hundreds of hours to run a few as strong as possible. Are we all insane?

Some would call running crazy, pointless, and other choice words, but hundreds of thousands would like to disagree. At some point in our running history we decided to run and most of us haven't stopped since. For me, the distance was a marathon and it was with the National Aids
Training Program in San Francisco. That was over 2 years ago and right after I finished my first 26.2 miles, my mind was already considering  what the next event would be. In total, my running history includes 3  fulls, 5 halves, and a single 10k, not impressive, but my calendar  year is planned around which events I choose to participate in and where I plan on traveling.

So again, I pose the question, what motivates us? I raised over $4,000 in my first and only training program and that is what motivated me for the first 6 months of my running life, but a couple years later I'm still out there logging miles and loving it motivated by something  else. Unfortunately I'm not going to go into what motivates me as a  runner today... I want to know what motivates you.

So this is my little experiment: I want to know what motivates other runners around the world. Let's hear it, is it an addiction? Do you run for fitness, charity, acclaim, to travel or shear insanity? In the comments below, let the world know what drives you.

Need some motivation? The first 10 people to post a comment will get a FREE download on iTunes for a 30 min coached workout . (If you are one of the first 10 and I don't have your email, email me and I'll send you download instructions: pavementrunner@gmail.com )


Verdict Is In: Arien Is 'A' Winner

Nike responded Wednesday to the outcry from their ruling on Sunday at the Nike Women's Marathon. (It is detailed below in my words and still a top story on SFGate.) I'm sure the running community and others alike threw Nike PR into a tail spin and left them scrambling around to turn this into a positive for one of the largest Woman-focused races in the world. It happened in our own backyard and I don't doubt that SFGate's attention to the matter and the thousands of emails Nike received didn't have an influence. The power of the people (and running community) at it's best, uniting.

Nike decided to name Arien O'Connell as 'a' winner, not 'the' winner (subtle difference — not). She will be given the same award as the first place finisher that ran 11 minutes slower than Arien. Nike is also removing the elite category from future races to hopefully avoid this from happening again. Could they have completely overturned the first place ruling, yes, but that would have created another PR nightmare from the other side of the argument. It seems like Nike wanted to admit there was an injustice and is trying to handle it fairly across the board. Whether or not they were successful is still up for discussion.

There were some great comments yesterday and opinions seemed to be in favor of granting Arien first place which was also the consensus from the majority of the postings I was reading online. As for me, I am really still on the fence about this, but in favor of her winning — it could have been a fabulous PR story that encouraged thousands of new runners to get out on the pavement. Let's say I'm 52% give her first and 48% unofficial winner. I feel like she ran the best that day and should be awarded first along with it's accolades, but rules are rules regardless of how lame they are (and yes, lame is a technical word).

Sadly there is always someone that gets the shaft for things to be reexamined for the better. Maybe by Arien not being named First, hundreds of women runners will run the race of their lives and be named 'the' winner over the next hundred years. I guess we have to look at the big picture, cheer on Arien and all the other Arien's out there and be happy that perhaps the 5 year old that was out there this year will run a 2:30 twenty years from now and have the first place medal put her around her neck whether or not she considers herself elite.

Your thoughts?


Breaking News!!! (as of 11 a.m.)

Nike has reversed their position, Arien O'Connell has been awarded first place, read the story at SFGate.com — seems the uproar that was posted yesterday online put the pressure on Nike.

An extended post will be added tonight as an update (since I'm at work), but read last night's post below for details and reader comments. The people spoken.



Sorry, Fastest Time Didn't Win

With over 20,000 competitors at the Nike Women's Marathon this past weekend, an interesting thing happened: The finisher with the fastest time, didn't win. That's right! Arien O'Connell, a 24-year old from New York City, ran the fastest time of all the women finishing 11 minutes faster than the field and did not claim the first place trophy. How does this happen?

Let me tell you, in certain Marathon races there are what is considered "Elite Runners." These are usually the people that finish in the very top percentage of the runners. They start earlier than everyone else and are escorted by a blockade of police and observed for anything that may cause disqualification — essentially the pack race against each other. They normally stay in a close knit running group throughout the race until they slowly break apart and the faster runners emerge. The remaining thousands of people start 20 minutes or so after this and are released in waves based on their estimated finishing times. The 3 hour group first, 3:30 next and so on. This usually spaces out the field and allows the faster runners to be in front to avoid having to maneuver around (us slower) runners.

With that quick fun description out of the way, let's get back to Arien O'Connell who finished with an amazing time of 2:55:11 besting her PR by 12 minutes. Let me repeat: beat her PR by 12 minutes!! That right there is astonishing. For someone like me who finishes above 5 hours, shaving off 12 minutes is a matter of drinking one less Starbucks a week and maybe running an extra 5 miles a week. When you get down to the 3 hour range of finishing times, shaving off 12 minutes is extremely tough. Here is a bad example, but I'm going to use it — imagine a 300 lb. person trying to lose 5 lbs. Now imagine a 100 lb. person trying to lose those same 5 lbs. (with my slow time being the 300 lb. example) With Arien O'Connell not registered as an "Elite Runner" and not racing in the elite field, she was not eligible to place. Sounds totally unfair right? It's a race, fastest person wins, right?

But let's look at it from a different perspective. The elite field is essentially racing against each other and basing their pace on the pace of one another. If the lead runner knows that the person behind him/her is a minute or so behind them, then they will conserve their energy for the end in case there is a push or to reduce the risk of injury. If the runner behind the lead runner sees that they are a minute or so behind, they will increase their pace to catch up. Here lies the problem, these runners didn't know that someone (Arien O'Connell) was technically in front of them (even though she is 20 minutes behind their current location). You might be asking yourself, they should be running their fastest, it is a race. Plain and simple, not every runner can go a thousand percent every race, they would injure themselves and not be able to participate in future races. Sometimes you have to run just fast enough to win (which to their knowledge they were), especially if you are viewing this as a training run for another race or a much larger event such as Boston or an Ultra marathon. 

This story ran on the cover of SFGate.com for the majority of the day and has received over a thousand comments with 4 or 5 times as many thumbs up or thumbs down votes (as of when posted). So here we go, I open up the floor — where do you stand and what are your thoughts? I really havent come to a consesus on how I feel about it myself and have tried to look at it from all angles. What's your take on the situation? Should Miss 2:55:11 be given first place and all the glory that goes with it? Or since she didn't register as an "Elite" and run with the pack, it's tough cookies. Please share your comments below. And don't forget to participate in the vote box to the right.


Nike Women's Marathon 10.19.08

The Nike Women's Marathon (and Half-Marathon) is this weekend in San Francisco and the local excitement is building. Thousands of people have been training on their own, in teams, or with charity organizations (see Kristen to the right). They have spent months perfecting their stride, nailing their pace times, ensuring proper hydration levels and the time has come for them to put their training to the test. 

For some this will be a fun run, for others it will be an attempt at a PR, and for the lucky few who are running this event as their first road race — then I am envious of you and wish you nothing but the best. The first time you run a road race is an amazing experience. After having trained for months and waking up early to get in the long miles, this is where it pays off. For all the times you weren't able to go out with your friends Friday or Saturday night because you had a long run the following morning, around mile 11 (for the half-marathoners) or mile 22 (for the full-marathoners), you will understand that you made the right choice. If you start to hit the wall, you'll think of everything that you have done to get to that point: whether it be all the fund raising you had to do, the 5 am alarm going off, or all the running clothes/accessories you discovered you needed along the way. Thinking about that and putting one foot in front of the other will get you to the finish line. A number of things will cross a runner's mind their first time out and after crossing the finish line the emotions are almost indescribable. It is one of those things that must be experienced. It is the emotion that inspires some of us to keep running. Whether it is your first marathon or your tenth, that finish line is close to one of the greatest things on Earth. Your first marathon (or half-marathon) is something that is a once in a lifetime experience. Literally. 

Runners compete in road races all the time, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon or any distance you can think of, but every runner remembers their first long distance race. So my suggestion to those doing this for the first time... soak it in. Take a minute before the race and look at everyone around you. Look at the thousands of people that are about to do something spectacular. Look at the spectators during the run and appreciate that they are out there to support you. Around the last few miles, little Billy standing out there with his mom will give you a look, almost as if he has been standing there all day to clap for you and give you a hi-five. The person at the water table has been out there for hours just to hand you a cup of water. That fellow runner towards then end that says "We're almost there!", entered the race just to give you that bit of encouragement. And when you cross the finish line, pause a moment and realize what you just accomplished. It's a wonderful thing and enjoy it.

If you are in the neighborhood and feel like cheering the runners on, here is a course map. You might not realize it, but it means alot to the runners out there. Every time I run a race, there are always a couple people that give extra boost when it is needed at the right time. It might be you for someone out there. 

Care to share about your first road race? Throw it in the comments section below.


The Way I Learned to Run...

Awhile back, there was a comment from a reader that was looking to take up running. With the Chicago Marathon this past weekend and the person that taught me how to run completing it, I figured those were two good reasons to tell you how I learned to run.

I learned to run through the San Francisco Aids Marathon Training Program. The program used a combination of running and walking in order to teach people to complete a Marathon. The pace that I started at was a 4 to 1 interval. Running for 4 minutes, then walking for 1 and doing this over the course of a desired distance. And that was the basics of how I started learn to complete a marathon. Sorry, but that is it. No secret formula or special training juice to drink. Just running and a little bit of walking. Sure there is a lot more that goes in to completing marathons, but those are the basics. I'm still learning tips and proper running strategies today, but simply running for 4 minutes then taking a walk break for 1 and doing it over and over is how it all began for me. Gradually, through the program, we increased our mileage from 3 miles to 24 over a period of six months and we learned the rest as we went along from fellow runners and our awesome team of coaches.

For those of you looking to start running or a different way of approaching your running style, perhaps this may be the way to go. It worked for me, but every runner is different and what works for one person, might not for another. But I'm hoping this may be a starting point that gets you out the door or back on that treadmill. Instead of thinking about running a certain distance your first time out (like a mile or 2), try running for a period of time. Start at a run for 20-30 minutes from your house and run out 10-15 minutes then turn around and run back. There is your 20-30 minutes. And instead of running for 30 minutes straight and being out of breath, take it out nice and slow at an easy pace so that you are not out of breath. If possible, go with a friend; you should both be running/jogging at a pace where you can hold a casual conversation without huffing and puffing. If you have a stop watch or digital watch, try starting at a 3:1 interval or something that feels comfortable for you. Maybe it is a 2:2 or a 1:2, no matter what, it is a start. If you don't have a stop watch or something that will keep the proper time, try using city blocks. Run for 2 blocks, walk for one. Songs on your iPod can also work, run for one song, walk for a song (songs are typically 3-4 minutes so keep that in mind).

After you find a pace that works best, try to lengthen your time out week by week. If you start with 20 min and run 2x a week, then once you feel comfortable enough, try going out for 30 min. once and see how it feels. Another option is to alter the time you spend running; bump up your running interval by 30 seconds or a minute. It is all about finding the right balance. After running for several months at a 4:1 pace, I found on shorter runs, I could run 5 minutes and still feel strong. I am constantly changing my intervals depending on how I feel and the distance in order to mix up my routine in order to get a different workout. Remember to listen to your body. If you can't run the full distance or time today, you can always try again the next day.

In the comments section below, feel free to share your running style or how you learned to run and give the readers other suggestions or techniques.


Rock n Roll San Jose Half-Marathon

This was my second year in a row running the RNRSJ and was looking at the event as a fun run due to my recent troubles with my IT band and low mileage leading up to the race. I was running with 2 close friends was happy to have the support. 

I finished last year around 2:13 and would be happy with that finishing time this year, plus or minus 10 minutes (with the most-likely being on the plus side). The course was close to or exactly the same as last year and the weather was fantastic. I remember last year being a little warmer, but with the course being through downtown, then through shaded neighborhoods I knew it was going to be great day for a race.

I started off running with my friend who was looking to PR and I could tell he was ready to go from the start. We ran the first 2 miles in 19:30 which was faster than I was looking to head out of the gates. I gave him the ok to continue at that pace without me, since his goal pace was going to be a little over 9 min/mile and mine closer to 10:30/mile. I needed to slow down and he needed to maintain the quick pace and increase it towards the second half.  Unfortunately he wouldn't reach his goal time, but he would finish strong and 5 minutes in front of me. 

The first 6 miles went by very quickly and I was surprised that I was still running at a little over 10 min per mile through the first hour. I was looking to run the first 8-9 real easy and see how I felt for the last 4 miles to see whether or not I would speed up or slow down. Once I got to mile 9 I felt my legs get slightly heavy but still felt strong and was maintaining a little over 10 min/mile. The thought crossed my mind to pick up the pace and see if I could beat last year's time. Luckily, I was able to convince myself that the notion was a bad idea that might end poorly. I stayed the easy 10+ min pace I was currently at and targeted enjoying the remainder of the race.

A little after mile 10, I felt my IT band start to "act up." I was hoping this wouldn't happen and I was 100% healed, but it turned out that wasn't the case. With 3 miles to go I knew I would be able to finish strong as long as the IT band didn't get any worse. I stopped a couple times to stretch (which is how to treat it on the fly) and felt some cramping of my left calf. I talked myself through it, knowing that I wasn't going to let this hinder my attitude or cause me to DNF (did not finish). I've been running long (and taught well enough by Super Lori) that there is a difference between knowing when to stop and knowing when to overcome obstacles. My IT band or leg cramp were not severe enough to risk any serious damage by continuing the last couple miles with an easy pace and some stretching and that is how I finished. With a smile on my face and a "I know I can do this!" attitude.

I finished the race in 2:17:24 - four minutes slower than last year, but as equally if not more enjoyable. I stretched and towled off with a medal around my neck and friends around me. I hit up the medical tent and had them saran wrap some ice around my knee, but not until after I made line for my FREE Widmer Hefeweisen Beer. It was cold and delicious. Cheers to another great run and a highly recommended course for first time and experienced runners. See ya there next year.

Notable Participants for 2009:

Injury Update:
IT Band - Have to kick the rehab into second gear — Lengthening stretching sessions. Purchased a foam roller today for added stretching, icing for 20 mins, and rest.
Duration - 1 week to as long as necessary
Cramping - simple day of stretching, replenishing salt and plenty of water/Gatorade. 
Duration - 1 day

Side Note: I received a comment from a reader who was asking about suggestions for taking up running and how to start — this will be the next post later in the week and look forward to any updates or additional questions through the comment section or email.


The Return of the Invisible Man

With about 20 hours to go until race time, on a sprinkling Saturday, the invisible man has returned. Yep, it is that time again for me to lay out  everything I need to compete in the San Jose Rock N Roll Half-Marathon. Similar to last time, but with some slight alterations, here is the breakdown:

A: 2006 SF Aids Marathon Hat (Dri-Fit)
B: Running Sun Glasses (In-case sun comes out)
C: 2008 Nike HumanRace shirt (Dri-fit)
D: Nike Running Gloves (Dri-fit)
E: Water Bottle Belt (filled with Gatoraide)
F: Running Shorts (Dri-fit)
G: Running Watch (Set to a 5:1 Run:Walk ratio)
H: iPod Shuffle (song list)
I: Running shoes w/ Dri-fit Black socks
J: Where Mika is playing with her Kong right now

One thing you may notice that is missing is my running number/bib. That I am picking up today at the Expo. There is a chance of rain tomorrow, so it looks like we may have a nice fun run in the rain.

Hope you enjoyed the Invisible Man part 2. He will be making another appearance in early November. In case you are wondering, why this is the sequel, visit the original Invisible Man here.


RNRSJ: Round 2

The Rock n Roll San Jose Marathon is 3 days away - as the Chronicle says, 96 Hours... so let's think back to October 14, 2007 to prepare for this weekend.

It was my first RNR race and first local event outside of San Francisco, so it was a pleasant change of scenery. I was still recovering from a severely sprained ankle (still convinced I tore something, but never had the MRI) and was working my mileage back up. The weather was great, the crowd support was the best I have seen since Florence and all around it was a fun race. It was very well organized and some high profile runners participated, including local NBC news anchor, Lisa Kim. (2:00:35). The top finishers were Kenyan runners who finished in just a little over an hour for both the men and the women.

This year, I am participating again in the RNRSJ and AGAIN am working my way back from injury. I feel like my IT Band is well recovered, but have not run over 8 miles in the last month and am concerned that I may have a slight case of runner's knee. But I have chalked this run up to a fun maintenance run and will be racing to finish, not to set a PR. I'll be racing with two friends with the same mind set and will enjoy a great event with a wonderful route through downtown San Jose and through some nice local neighborhoods. Last year, neighbors came out and cheered from the sidewalks with friends and families on their lawns as almost 9,000 runners pounded the pavement through the streets.

Although for almost a year I have been saying that my goal was to beat Lisa Kim (which would involve me matching my PR: 1:59:28). It looks like I will have to hope to beat her in 2009. I guess it is more nights of me screaming at the TV: "You better be training Lisa Kim." LOL.


A Hefeweisen Well Deserved...

With the San Jose Jose Rock n Roll Marathon in 4 days, I have just been informed that Widmer Beer will be at the Finish Line Festival to provide (all runners over 21) one FREE BEER. And if you want more, it's only $5. How awesome is that?

Although I have never drank a beer so quickly after a run, the carbs are going to be very helpful and the Hef is my drink of choice if the choice is beer. So Cheers to hearing some good news on a Wednesday.

Later in the week I'll write about how this years RNRSJ event will be a different experience for me from last years.

Care to share your post run drink of choice? Leave it in the comments and let the people know what helps you recover.