Monthly Archives: June 2011

Yearly goals 2011/2012

Last year I set a goal to finish a marathon in under 4 hours by my 30th birthday. Not only did I finish well under 4 hours (at 3:50), but I did so almost 2 months before my actual birthday. As I approach my 30th revolution around the sun, knowing that this year is only special because we count in base 10, physically I feel the best I have ever felt in my life. I was a three sport athlete in high school too, and I was a teenager then, but I could open a can of whoopass on myself back then. In hindsight, last year’s goal was a little too easy. This year, I will be making a series of goals that will hopefully be a challenge to make.

Swimming

I want to participate in a swim meet. This is just a participatory goal, meaning all I want to do is show up, race, and finish. We’ll worry about time and podiums later. 🙂

Cycling

I also want to race the Tucson Bicycle Classic as a category 4 racer. The qualifications needed to upgrade from cat 5 (all n00bs) to cat 4 is simply “experience in 10 mass start races.” So upgrading to cat 4 by TBC should be easy as there are at least 16 mass start races before then in the Tucson or Phoenix area. Depending on how I do and how fun it is, next years goal might be to cat up to 3.

I will Ride the Rockies.

Running

That’s it for biking and swimming. As for running, I’d like to complete a marathon in under 3:30. That’s 20 minutes off of this years time, but if I choose a flat course I think it’s possible. I’ll be running the Really Big Free Marathon in Las Vegas in November 2012, and the unofficial course right now looks pretty flat. At least compared to Whiskey Row. I also want to run as many of the Arizona Road Runner races as possible.

Triathlon

I’d like to do an Olympic triathlon. I’d also like to set a time goal for this, but as I haven’t even completed a sprint tri yet, I have no idea what I should set as a goal. I’ll have specific time-based goals for sprint tris after I finish my first one on my birthday. I want to compete in at least 3 sprints next year in addition to the Oly.

Training

In terms of training miles, next year I want to peak my weekly training miles at: 50 miles running, 250 miles biking, and 10 miles swimming with about half of each weeks miles coming from the long swim, bike, or run.

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Running in Tucson

A question from Katie:

Hi Nathan! I love to run, but it’s so friggin hot right now, where are your favorite spots? Ususally I go to Sabino Canyon, but because its so hot – the only time that would be decent is at dusk and I am afraid that I will run into a rattlesnake or Mtn lion! I like to run 3 to 5 miles – any suggestions?

When to run

Tucson is hot. Even in the winter it’s hot during the day, but during the summer it’s absolutely miserable. Even at dusk, the temperature is often still near 100 degrees. In my most recent 5k (the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run/Walk 2011 on June 5, 2011), the temperature at race start (7:00) was 98! Even drinking liberal doses of water, by the time I was done I was severely dehydrated. If running at night is your only option, I have several suggestions: drink plenty of water beforehand, carry plenty of water during the run (a water belt or carrying a water bottle both work), and drink plenty of water afterward. Running after dark is always an option too if you can find someplace lighted, there’s a full moon, or you don’t mind carrying a flashlight to light your way. Recently I’ve run barefoot on the soccer fields at Udall Park about an hour after sunset. There was enough light from the adjacent softball fields that I was comfortable enough with not stepping on anything or in any holes. It was still a little warm, but without the sun beating on me it didn’t feel too bad.

But my suggestion would be to run in the morning! The coolest part of the day is just after sunrise. I know it’s hard getting out of bed that early in the morning, but for me it’s worth it. This morning it was only 72 and the sun wasn’t as intense as the afternoon or evening.

Where to run

Where you run partially depends on when you choose to run. If you run in the mornings, you can pretty much run anywhere you want! That’s the great thing about running. If you’re looking for a flat run, the Rillito River path is great. If you’re looking for hills, Sabino Canyon or Tumamoc Hill are both great. Sabino is longer (about 8 miles round trip), but Tumamoc is much steeper. City parks are usually empty at this time of day too. If you don’t mind running in circles, high school tracks are available. Be careful though. If someone from the school says that you can’t run there, you’ll have to leave, but that’s never happened to me. Running around Reid Park seems popular, although I’ve never done it.

Mount Lemmon is a great place to run in the summer! (Don’t try this now with the Forest Service restrictions in place.) Drive up to Summerhaven and run up Ski Run Road. It’s about 7 miles round trip, and the temperature is about 15 degrees cooler than in the city! If you don’t want to run 7 miles, turn around whenever you feel like it. It’s a pain to drive all the way up Lemmon just for a 5 mile run so I’d recommend taking up a picnic and making an afternoon out of it. Or if you’re into such things, run in the evening, have dinner (either your own or at Ski Valley), and then stargaze as long as you want. This is more fun with a group of people, but can be a solo activity too. A telescope may or may not be needed depending on if you want to look at specific objects or just marvel at the night sky.

I will mention that I run on roads quite a bit, mostly because it’s easy. Slip on a pair of running shoes, head out the door, and I’m already running. I have a route in my neighborhood that’s 4 miles that I run quite a bit. The nice thing about running in your neighborhood is that you get to meet some neighbors that you might not already know, especially if you run at the same time everyday. I regularly see the same walkers, runners, and cyclists when I do early morning runs.

Wildlife

I don’t know how many miles I’ve run in the Tucson area, but I do know that in all my time hiking, biking, and running I’ve only ever seen one snake. I was hiking in the Coronado Forest in the afternoon and a snake was sunning itself on the trail. As I approached, unaware at this point of its presence, I heard it scurry off the trail, and barely caught sight of it as it went down a hole.

I don’t think there’s too much need to worry about snakes at Sabino Canyon, even at night. I’ve run the road at dusk numerous times, and even though everyone says to be careful of snakes, I’ve never seen one. You should still be careful though! Mountain lions are a different story. I have seen a mountain lion in Tucson, but not while outside. I was actually here for a conference, and saw one from the hotel. The last time I heard of a mountain lion sighting at Sabino was fall 2010. Since I’ve been in Tucson (7 years) I don’t recall hearing about anyone getting attacked by a mountain lion. There was a lot of sightings in 2004, and they closed the park for awhile, but I don’t think anyone was attacked. In short, I don’t think you have anything to worry about by running at dusk at Sabino Canyon. (Note that Sabino is currently (June 17, 2011) closed at dusk due to fire danger, so don’t run there now anyway.) If you’re still worried about mountain lions, contact the Forest Service Santa Catalina Ranger District for up to date information.

If you want to see wildlife while you’re running, I’d suggest doing it in the morning. I’ve seen numerous deer while hiking and running at Sabino, but only in the mornings. I’ve also seen roadrunners, large birds of prey, smaller rodents, and the usual lizards.

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PRs and other musings

I should probably keep a list of my PRs somewhere. For now, it’s at my about page, where there is nothing actually about me at all.

So far: 3 races, 3 PRs. The next race will be another PR as it’s a sprint triathlon and I’ve never done one of those before. Then another guaranteed PR in a 8 mile event. Then a couple more half marathons late summer / early fall. And I might do the Mount Lemmon Marathon (note the gratuitous link to en.WP) in October. There’s an 8k and 10k coming up in October too. Not signed up for those yet, but 2 more PR opportunities. 🙂

Depending on how the triathlon goes, I might do some bike racing next year. In the further future, I may do some swimming events too. I need to sit down and plan out a yearly schedule instead of just racing whenever I feel like it. I hate planning.

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Running news

I’ve been really busy lately. Well, busy enough that I didn’t have time to write on the blog. Those that don’t blog probably don’t realize how much time it takes to actually write a descent post, much less put together a series of posts every day. The same thing day in and day out. Now that the complaining is done, let me update the many few one zero actual readers of this blog on my races since the last post.

I completed my marathon! Woohoo! Active.com has the results posted. 21st overall, 2nd in age group with a time of 3:50:53. That’s actually almost 10 minutes faster than my goal, which was set really slow because the course was basically up a mountain. I think there was something like 2800 ft of elevation gain. In contrast, my half was basically flat, with the most elevation change coming by crossing a bridge.

Two weeks later I ran in my first mud run. I was slightly disappointed, not with my time, but with the course. There was no mud. They had a fire hose out spraying runners in one spot and a slip-n-slide and some pools, but there wasn’t any mud to speak of. But it was still fun. 8th place overall.

I’ve raced once more since then, in a local 5k. I had a goal of finishing in 20 minutes, but unfortunately I missed it by 12 seconds. I blame the heat. It was 98 F at race start. By the end of the first mile I was dehydrated even though I made sure to drink plenty prior to the race. I’m sure if the temperature would have been even a few degrees cooler I would have shaved those few second off. Actually, I think I only have to go about 5 seconds faster. When I saw the clock tick to 00:20:00.0 I slowed up a little. But all in all I was pleased with my results. I finished 67th and 11th in age group which is pretty good since I think they said they had about 1600 people running. The winner finished in under 15 minutes, so I have a little room for improvement.

But the biggest news is that I’m registered for a triathlon on my birthday (July 3rd). The run and bike parts will be easy being only 3 miles and 12 miles, respectively. However, there’s a 800 meter swim that I’m not prepared for. It’s funny how you can have the endurance to run or bike for multiple hours, but swimming 50 meters is all you can do. Different muscles, poor form, etc. Hopefully I’ll be able to swim it by then! If not, there’s always doggy paddle.

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