Updates from the flatlands

In order to avoid bias every blog about the mountains needs someone who lives in the flattest state in the union, Florida.  On this blog that would be me.  I live in a state where the highest point above sea level is 345 feet, this point is also nearly 300 miles from my house.  Fortunately though, I have a job that allows me the opportunity to travel both for work and for pleasure.  This is good because I suffer from a condition known as alpine crankypants, which pretty much means if its been too long since I have been in the mountains I get pretty cranky, and as you may have guessed the only way to fix it is to head to the hills. 

Sadly this year, other than a ski trip I haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time in what you would call the alpine environment.  However, that has not stopped me from having adventures.  In fact, I think perhaps my desire to be at altitude has been partially sated by lots of travel in the air at 30,0000 feet, where I have been able to see many mountains (the Rockies, the Cascades).  Because no blog post is truly complete without a graph, I decided to plot my air travel.  I think it shows a fairly decent work-life balance between travel for business and pleasure.  The numbers on the x-axis denote the month of the year (e.g 1 = January, 2 = February, 3 = March, I hope you get the point).

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In light of the fact that I live in the flatlands a lot of my activities lately have focused on road running, and in particular marathon and half marathon training.  As far as the calendar I have 3 marathons planned in 2012, one is already completed and I have 2 to go.  On June 23 I ran the Seattle Rock n’ Roll marathon.  It wasn’t the marathon I had planned on running.  I was supposed to run a marathon on May 20 with some friends from college.  However, the day I was supposed to fly out I had a temperature of 102.7 and later that day a diagnosis of tonsillitis.  When you google “fever and marathon”, I assure you nothing good comes of it, so I decided to cancel my ticket and rest up. I’m also guessing that since I couldn’t eat solid food, it probably wasn’t good to run a marathon on an empty stomach.  Normally, I would have felt relieved to avoid running 26.2 miles.  However, this time around I was actually bummed.  This marathon was to be my third, but it was really the first one where I can say I truly enjoyed the training (it probably helps that I had all the ligaments in me knees in tact).  In the end I think this fever was a sign that luck was on my side.  The marathon I signed up for ended up being so HOT that my two friends that ran it dropped out at mile 13 and 17, respectively.  Once I was able to eat solid food again, I ate a burrito, and found a back up marathon in Seattle, which allowed me one more long training run. 

Looking at the chart above, you can see that I had a lot of travel in June.  I decided I would make my last long training run an adventure in a new city.  The big business trip in June, was a trip to Sydney. While in Sydney I met a graduate student who had just done an ironman triathlon.  He gave me a great suggestion for a running route, shown on the map here. 

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As you can see this route was about 19 miles, and all but about 4 miles of it had a view of the ocean.  It was spectacular!  The other spectacular part of the run was that it wasn’t hot and humid as I am now accustomed to in the swamp.  Honestly, I am starting to realize the best thing about marathon training is the ability to do long runs while visiting other cities.  This year I ran 18 miles in New Orleans and 19 in Sydney, and both times the long run was one of, if not the highlight of the trip.  Let’s get back to the Sydney run though.  While getting running route tips from the ironman grad student, I realize in retrospect I perhaps should have asked him to clarify when he asked “Do you mind hills?”  I responded, that hills were fine.  But I’m pretty sure I didn’t have this elevation profile in mind.

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According to my Garmin (map corrected) the elevation gain for this route was 1,834 feet, pretty impressive considering the high point was only 275 feet, and the lowest point was 8 feet.  Although, I am pretty sure there wasn’t a flat section on this run, and it did involve stairs.  However, the run included the some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen (and considering I biked the entire California coast that means something!)

I was a little worried about how my legs were going to recover from this long run, since obviously it was a lot hillier than anything in my flat state and I only had two weeks to taper before the marathon, instead of the recommended 3. 

The day of the race arrived two weeks later, and although my legs didn’t feel as fresh as the produce at the farmer’s market, they still felt good.  The race day weather was perfect, overcast and mid-50s at the start.  I never felt amazing, but still managed to finish with a new personal best for myself.  Also, at the finish they gave us Jamba Juice, which was pretty amazing.

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Now that the road marathon is over, its time to start trail training for the trail marathon I’m running at the end of August with Adele, Toberer, Tricia, and John.  We’ll see how that treats this flat lander.  I’m sure I will be able to update you with tales of trail running in the swamp.  I just hope there won’t be another near alligator eating for my dog! 

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