A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Results are In!

After all my worry about a cold, wet run in this morning's Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon, I woke this morning to see stars in the morning sky. Then I almost missed the race messing around thinking I had plenty of time before realizing the wave start was at 6:55 not 7:55! But I was able to find a parking spot five blocks from the start/finish line and had a nice warmup run to my spot in Corral #2.

Elvis could have stayed thin like this guy if he had been a runner and eaten more beef insteaad of Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches. Did he know takes four times the calories (670) to get the same amount of protein from peanut butter as you get from one serving of lean beef (154)? This guy does ('cause I told him)!
With little time to think about what I was doing the race started. I felt like the first mile was very slow, weaving in and out of the crowd of runners. But when my Garmin Forerunner buzzed signaling the one mile mark it showed 7:54. I felt good so kept moving at the same pace and my next six miles clocked in at 7:44, 8:00, 7:58, 8:08, 7:51 and I crossed the halfway mark averaging sub-8s.

Then I started playing the mental games that always seem to plague me, alternating between thinking I may be able to finish with a new PR (1:46) to saying, "there's no way you can keep up this pace for another six miles." I think the negative thoughts won out over the next few miles and I slowed to 8:10, 8:11, 8:09, 8:21, and 8:49 (although I'm not sure this is accurate because my Garmin was showing two-tenths ahead the 11-mile marker and only one-tenth at mile 12 -- I think mile two was short and mile 11 was long).

At this point I almost gave up on a new PR until I finished the next mile in 8:06 and my Garmin was showing 1:38 with one miles to go so I kicked it up a notch and finished the final mile in 7:51 and the final .1 at a pace of 7:01 (downhill sprint to the finish!).

My official time was 1:46:43, just 43 seconds off my PR but more than three minutes ahead of my goal and crushing my previous best at altitude (2:08:52 in the Arby's Rocky Mountain Half in 2007) by over 22 minutes!

Smash Mouth rocked the party at the finish line in Denver's Civic Center Park.  
1:46:43 was good enough for number 842 out of 8,939 runners (top 10%), 551 of 2,941 men (top 20%) and 53 of 307 (17%) in my age group (M45-49). I am very happy with those numbers but most of all I felt good, had fun and the sun was shining as Smash Mouth took the stage at the finish line party! The bands along the route were nothing special given all I had heard about how cool Rock and Roll events are, but Smash Mouth made up for it great set of All Star, Walkin' on Sunshine, I'm a Believer and a Van Halen medly including Runnin' with the Devil.

All-in-all it was a very good day (even my Chiefs won).

Ride On!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Denver Rock and Roll Half Snowathon?

After returning home yesterday from a week in California I woke this morning to the first snow of the season. It's still snowing in Castle Rock but according to the Weather Channel it is raining downtown and will continue off and on for the next 24 hours. Forecast for the start of tomorrow's Denver Rock and Roll Marathon/Half Marathon is 41F with a 31 percent chance of showers. Lovely. If it weren't for the $100 entry fee I'd be very tempted to bag on this one.

The first snow on our new deck. Not sure I am ready for this!

My two-week half marathon training program hasn't gone precisely according to schedule, given my crazy travel schedule, but I got in some good runs and am feeling reasonably optimistic about my new goal of break 1:50 for the third time in my life. Here's the rundown on the full two-week training schedule results:

Week One
Saturday, Sept. 24 -- 6-mile trail run completed in 57:18 (9:32/mile)
Monday, Sept. 26 -- 3.1-mile (5K) run completed in 25:21 (8:10/mile)
Wednesday, Sept. 28 -- 6-mile run completed in 48:09 (8:01/mile)
Friday, Sept. 30 -- 3.1-mile (5K) run completed in 24:00 (7:44/mile)

Week Two
Sunday, Oct. 2 -- 6.2-mile (10K) run completed in 49:28 (7:58/mile)
Tuesday, Oct. 4 -- 5-mile run completed in 45:16 (9:03/mile)
Friday, Oct. 7 -- 3.1-mile (5K) run completed in 28:02 (9:02/mile)

Running with my younger brother Evan (left, at the Good Samaritan 5K in September) always motivates me to push it to the next level!
The highlight of the week was running with my brother Evan and brother-in-law Matt this past Sunday at the beginning of our vacation in California. The competitive nature of our relationship always motivates me to push harder, simulating race conditions. I finished second in the Tres Hermanos 10K behind brother Evan. It was my second sub-8 run of the week and came on a very hilly course (but not as hilly as my final two runs of the week in the northernmost area of the Sonoma Valley).

The driveway to our villa in Healdsburg, CA, was steeper than any hill I run around my house in Castle Rock, CO.
Today I plan to get in a quick mile on the treadmill at the Castle Rock Rec Center. Just enough to ge tthe blood flowing and loosen my legs after the car/plane/car ride home yesterday. I may have a few tannins left to sweat out, as well! Then its off to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up my race packet wearing my new Team BEEF jersey!

Ride On,


Friday, October 7, 2011

My Two Week Half Marathon Training Program Update: Eating, Drinking and Running in Wine Country

Our home for the past five days. Life is good!
 My two week half marathon training program is coming to an end. And so is our long-awaited vacation in the wine country of California (near Healdsburg in Alexander Valley). In the past week I managed to squeeze in three runs (a 10K on Saturday, five miles on Tuesday and 5K today) in between visits to Silver Oak, Plumpjack, Kendal Jackson, Seghesio, Hartman, Chalk Hill, Ferrari Carano, Bella, Chateau Montelena and V. Sattui wineries! We also ate at Bouchon in Yountville, had a private chef cook us a four course dinner at the villa and grilled cowboy coffee rub strip steaks last night. 

So forget the running update, let's talk food and wine!

I love Silver Oak, but Plumpack across the street was a little less pretentious and their cab was just as tasty!
My favorite winery stops were Plumpjack, Seghesio, Ferrari Carano and Chateau Montelena, all for different reasons. Plumpjack on Monday on the way up the Napa Valley was the best cabernet we tasted. We drink Seghesio zins often so it was fun to visit the historic winery Tuesday and send home so selections you can't find at Bubbles in the Rock. Ferrari Carano yesterday was a beautiful location at the far northern end of the Dry Creek Valley and the sun emerged for the first time all week as we came out of the cellar.

Chateau Montelena is a beautiful setting in the north end of Napa Valley.
Chateau Montelena wins for overall setting, tasting, and history. This is the winery that stunned the French when their Chardonnay won the 1976 "Judgment of Paris" wine competition (the story behind the movie Bottle Shock).

Chef Quimby's Wagyu Beef Shortibs two ways.
My favorite meal was the dinner prepared by Chef Quimby at the villa, part of the package my cousin so graciuously purchased at a charity auction and invited us partake in. The four course dinner featured Wagyu beef short ribs two ways (braised and grilled) for the main course. It was my favorite beef of the week, well-marbled and full of great beef flavor, and the rest of the meal was equally decadent. My second favorite were the Strip Loin Steaks with Cowboy Coffee Rub and Spicy Pico de Gallo (see recipe below from the Healthy Beef Cookbook) we grilled at the villa last night (and enjoyed for lunch today at V. Sattui).

The "Eye of Rib" at Bouchon.
The "eye of rib" steak at Bouchon was a ribeye with the spinalis dorsi removed (the really tender, flavorful "cap" on the outside of the ribeye steak). The steak was cooked perfectly (medium rare) and the au poivre sauce was very good, but I can prepare a better steak for a fraction of the price (as we did last night) and I love the cap so kept wishing they hadn't removed it!

The Cowboy Coffee Rub recipe calls for beef shoulder center steaks (also called Ranch Steaks). I couldn't find a I substituted three strip steaks (one of the 29 lean cuts of beef). We also like this on ribeyes and flat iron but I buy whatever steaks look the best in the store that day and these strips were at least 2" thick and nicely marbled -- and they were on sale for $6.99/lb. I wish I had pictures but suffice it to say they were amazing, bith for dinner that night and a lunch picnic Friday at V. Sattui in Napa, on our way back to the airport in Sacramento.

Cowboy Coffee Rub is one of my new favorite ways to prepare steak. Try it, you'll like it...

Steaks with Cowboy Coffee Rub and Spicy Pico de Gallo
Total prep and cook time: 25 mins (varies depending on how you cook your steak!)
Makes 6 servings

Spicy Pico de Gallo
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantor
1 1/2 tsp. minced pickled jalapeno pepper slices
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
Cowboy Coffee Rub
1 Tbsp. freshly ground coffee beans (I used a medium roast)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt or table salt
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp coarse-grind black pepper
3 beef shoulder center steaks (Ranch Steaks), cut 3/4 inch thick (about 8 oz. each) - I used strip steak the first time and flat iron the second time
1. Combine Spicy Pico de Gallo ingredients in medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.

2. Combine Cowboy Coffee Rub ingredients in small bowl. Press evenly onto beef steaks. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 9 to 11 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning once.
3. Carve steak into slices. (We let the steak rest 5 minutes before carving.) Serve with Spicy Pico de Gallo.

Ride on!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Two Week Half Marathon Training: End of Week One

The 3" Ribeye at Cagle's in Lubbock, Texas!
One week ago I decided to sign up for the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon on October 9. That gave me all of two weeks to train after basically taking the summer off from running races and just enjoying staying in shape by riding my mountain bike and running the trails in the Ridgeline Open Space near my house. One week later I have logged 18.2 miles and running some of the best times since I set my PR in the Kansas City Half last October (1:46 even).

This week I was on the road, traveling to Lubbock, Texas, and Wooster, Ohio, meeting with the people who provide the great-tasting beef I eat every day to fuel my training (thanks, cattlemen and women, for working hard every day to care for the animals you raise to make beef!). Wednesday in Lubbock, I went for a run on the campus of Texas Tech University. I love running on college campuses. There are always plenty of sights to see, running by basketball arenas, baseball diamonds, football stadiums and coeds on the way to class!

The Dos Rita at Ruby Tequila's in Lubbock.
Texas Tech is a huge campus so I could easily run six miles without covering the same ground twice. I wanted to run eight minute miles but wasn’t really feeling it as I left the Overton Hotel towards campus and finished the first mile in 8:40. I picked up the pace a little and finished mile two in 8:10, but then I started feeling good and finished the final four miles running sub-8s (7:51, 7:53, 7:55, 7:34). I really pushed that last mile trying to finish under 48 minutes but the final score was 48:09.33 (8:01/mile).

The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
in Wooster, Ohio
Two days later I woke up in Wooster to cool, rainy, 50 degree weather, a full 45 degrees cooler than Lubbock (where they haven’t seen as much rain all summer as Ohio got in the past 24 hours). I ran on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), site of the 2012 National Beef Ambassador contest. I really wanted to run sub-8s today so pushed hard from the start and finished the first mile in 7:54. The second mile was mostly uphill but I kept pushing and my Garmin registered mile two at 8:11. Determined to finish strong, and will a little help from a grade I ran the fastest mile I can recall in a long time (7:08) and finished the 5K in 24:00 flat (7:44/mile).

I feel good about what I accomplished this week, especially considering the long hours on seven flights traveling from DEN-LBB-DEN-ORD-CLE-ORD-DEN (on the last leg as I write). Saturday is a rest day then on Sunday I’ll do an LSD run (long slow distance) of 10 miles (at around 8:30/mile). Then it will be time to taper towards the run on Sunday the 9th, with runs of five miles on Tuesday, three on Thursday and one on Saturday (to keep the legs loose and blood flowing).

I have no idea if this training program will work, other than my experience following a similar routine last year prior to the Go! St. Louis and KC half marathons. And so far so good for the Denver Rock and Roll Half. I’m thinking 8:30s is very doable so am revising my goal to run under 1:50.

Ride on!