I’ve Been Here Before

Has it really been two weeks since I last wrote? Well, I guess training, work, and moving really occupies a lot of time.

This is a topic I thought about two Saturdays ago when I was running in downtown Milwaukee with some friends.

If you know me, or have just been keeping up with this blog, you know that I love my home city. I think Milwaukee is one of the best and most underrated cities in the country. That’s a big reason why I’m thrilled about the excitement over the Marathon every year.

However, the city of Milwaukee has never been kind to me when it comes to road races.

The first road race I ran in Milwaukee was the Brewers Mini Marathon, and I was primed for a PR. It seemed like the perfect day for a PR. Training was going well, it was beautiful weather, and the course even followed a lot of the Milwaukee Marathon which I was running about 6 weeks later.

That was all derailed fairly quickly by a bad hamstring and IT Band, which resulted in a rather uncomfortable quad as well. Basically, my right leg was battered and beaten. Naturally I finished the race, but far from a PR.

Like any competitive runner, I didn’t rest as I should have and trained on and off to be ready for Milwaukee. Like I said, the race covered a lot of the same road, so I knew I could easily visualize the second half of the marathon.

I didn’t get to the second half of the marathon, though. With my leg still injured, my race ended at the intersection of 28th and Wisconsin Ave. Mile 10.

Any and every time I drive down Wisconsin Ave, I notice that corner. I consider it my biggest racing failure and that feeling, and that spot, has been seared into my brain.

Fast forward to the next summer. Healed, and two marathons into 2016, I was ready to check another Milwaukee bucket list race off my personal list. The Rock N Sole Half in mid June.

As you could probably guess, it was hot for this race, and I paid the price of going out too fast. The last nine miles were a death march, resulting in my worst half.

Land that brings me back to my training run a couple weekends ago. Our route encompassed a lot of the places in which I struggled badly in Rock N Sole. From the exposed and open boardwalk and Summerfest peninsula to the hill rising you into a local park. I remembered it all, and made mention of those places to all of my running partners that day.

Those mentions included my comments on the final mile of the Milwaukee Turkey Trot (which we also ran that Saturday) in which you can see the finish line all the way from the turnaround.

Thats the mental side of running. We remember the pain and painful moments much more than the great moments. And do we remember the great moments? Of course. Running the final stretch of the Twin Cities Marathon. Emerging out of the woods to a sprint finish at UW Parkside. Passing the leader with two miles to go in a trail race.

We seem to hold onto those bad moments just a little more. And many times, they define how our future races go as well. You hit those spots and you remember how terrible it was, how tired you were. And suddenly your legs get a little bit more heavy in that moment. Those painful memories take hold a little more. That’s when it’s up to you to use those as motivation. That won’t happen again.

I look forward to steamrolling my way through the Milwaukee Marathon this October. And you better believe I’ll know exactly when I’m coming up to 28th and Wisconsin Ave, so I can make sure I power through that part of the race.

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Let’s Talk Gear

Yes, yes I know. I already have a gear page on my blog. It’s not the most up to date, but if it was, it would be a vast page.

So let’s talk about the important stuff. What do I run with? The smartass answer to that question would be: shoes.

But we’ll start down there, if you will, with socks. Every runner knows the importance of a good pair of socks, and a lot of us are loyal to a fault when it comes to a brand. For me, that brand would be the Thorlo Experia socks. They’re light weight, cushioned, and breathe extremely well. Recently they’ve come out with a compression line as well. I’ve got two pairs already and love them. A little lighter than the standard model, but still plenty of cushion.

Moving up from there, we get to the all important Watch. I, like many. Utilize the Garmin Forerunner 235. Gotta have my heart rate and all my other data. I absolutely love it.

Side note, have other Garmin users noticed a quicker satellite pickup with their watch? Mine seems to be going super quick.

Next up, I’m a big sunglasses guy. You’d wear sunglasses if you were going on a 10+ minute drive, so why not when you run? Same difference.

Last year, I invested in a pair of Tifosi wrap around sunglasses. Oh man, these were worth the cost. Super light, comfortable, and don’t fog up. Sometimes I think they make my face look like an insect in race pictures, but that’s a personal problem.

I also have a pair of Bahamas 1 from XX2i as well. I use these mainly as a casual pair, but they can easily double for running as well.

Otherwise, I’ve got a cheap pair from REI and from the Ironman line of gear. These are both fine, but not as good as the Tifosi pair. That extra $50 makes a difference, guys.

And that brings us to the rest of the head.

I love my hate. Never go on a run without one. Normally I’ve used standard running hats (the Shamrock Marathon gave us a finishers hat, one of my favorites). However, even since I picked up a BOCO Trucker’s hat at the La Jolla Half Marathon my life has been changed. I’ve already accumulated a few BOCO truckers hat, and my BibRave one should be arriving in the mail soon.

Sometimes, instead of a hat, I’ll bust out my Buff instead. This is absolutely perfect for moderate (think around 50 degrees) temperature runs. It can double for warming my head, but also just as a sweat catcher.

I do own a buff from the Polar Dash as well. But due to its size, it’s better utilized (for me) as a neck and face warmer once winter descends.

Thats it for my warm weather gear! Once winter arrives, I’ll revisit this post with some winter gear.

What kind of gear do you like to use, or never leave home without?

#MidwestProblems

I’m Wisconsin born and raised, currently living in Iowa, and interviewing for jobs in Minnesota. I also went to college in the Twin Cities metro (just on the Wisconsin side). Basically, I’m a Midwest guy for life.

As those of you in the Midwest know, running here is an adventure and a half. In the summer, we’re bombarded with warm temps, and suffocating humidity. Plus, in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the mosquitoes will probably just carry you away.

And then there’s winter. I’ve run in air temperatures as low as -14 in the past year, and who knows how cold the wind makes it. Plus your casual blizzards in March, and this year (in Iowa) we had a significant amount of ice as well. I legitimately may own more cold weather gear than warm weather gear.

But the reason for this post is the warmth we’re experiencing in central Iowa. Yesterday, I woke up at 4:30 for a track workout, hoping to avoid the heat, only to wake up to 85 and humid weather. I mean, I guess it wasn’t in the 90s?

We’re in the midst of a very warm summer. Looking at the forecast, today is the coolest day…with a high of 85. Throw in the humidity, and it’s rough out there.

Around this time of year, we see a lot of posts about the benefits of running in warm weather, especially if training for a fall marathon. And I totally agree with all of them. Even when the temperature drops to the 60s, it is noticeable on a run. For a fall marathon that may drop into the 30s? Yes please.

I read an article once saying that training in high humidity was comparable to altitude. I don’t know about that, but I’ll take it.

So if you;re looking at the forecast and dreading the heat and humidity, just remember it will all pay off in your fall race.

“Why You No Like Us Anymore?”

I think most of us runners have, in some capacity, a group of people that we run with.

Whether all of your runs are with an organized group, or if you just have some friends that you get some miles in with. We all, likely, run with other people at some point or another.

I’m big on group runs, especially for those Saturday morning long runs. It’s a lot easier to get 15+ miles in with a group of people than it is to do it solo. But sometimes, I think, it’s good to fire off some long runs on your own.

The title of this post is something that was said to me by a member of my running group here in Ames. I haven’t been at a group run in over a month. Yes, running a crap ton of races did impact that. But now a big impact of this is coming with my new training schedule as laid down by my coach.

And as much as I love running with everyone in my group, I’m fine with this. My two best training cycles were the ones going into Grandma’s Marathon 2015 and for Milwaukee 2015 (until I got hurt of course). For both of those, I had a significant amount of time to myself on solo runs.

I’ve got a feeling that a lot of these solo runs will continue, as I continue to approach travel season.

It’s also good for me because, as I’ve mentioned on this blog, I tend to wind up running alone quite a bit in my marathons anyway.

Just an Easy 6

First of all, Happy 4th of July folks!!

I always enjoy the 4th, in part because of fireworks, but also because it’s honestly one of the few holidays we can enjoy in nice weather in the Midwest. But that’s not really the point of this post.

The 4th weekend is also one of the biggest running and race days of the year. If you live in the Milwaukee metro, the big race is the Firecracker 4, and in the Twin Cities it’s the Red, White, and Boom races. And frankly, wherever you’re reading this from, there is a race near you today.

So for me, it felt odd to not participate at all in the race day festivities. An easy 6 was all I had planned, and that’s what I did. Meanwhile, my Facebook, Twitter, and Insta feeds were filled with red, white, and blue racing photos. For me, it felt odd, after so many races in May and June, to not be out there.

There’s nothing wrong with taking time to train (obviously), but normally it’s me running this and that race. I guess it’s just a little bit of no race FoMo hitting me today.

Thats it for today! I hope you all have a great rest of your 4th, and a great start (and remainder) of your training cycles.