03 May 2008

Well, well, well...

It is a day shy of one week after the 23rd running of the Big Sur International Marathon. I've mostly recovered from the race, had a nice vacation and am now back to home on the East coast ready to unload the details of this thing for which I trained for so long (hold on, I've got a lot to say).

The last week of the taper was pretty uneventful. Lower mileage, a lot of time working my IT band with a foam roller and hoping not to have any problems on race day (I didn't). We were up, out and on a plane by 7:20 on Friday, which put us on the ground in San Francisco at around 1:00 local time. We rented our minivan (baller) and decided to trek down Highway 1 to Monterey. The drive was amazing - you really can't appreciate the views without seeing them yourselves. We got checked into the hotel, had some food from a local hotspot and were off to bed. But not before Ruth Ann could surprise me with a book of encouraging words she put together for me. A big thanks to everyone who contributed to that - I drew strength from it many times on the course.

The body clocks had everyone up early on Saturday, as we tried to hang on to Eastern time for another day or so. We ran a quick 2-miler, got cleaned up and on to the race expo to pick up bibs, chip, goodies, etc. There was quite the karma controversy regarding the "Official Finisher" shirt. Mike and I both had varying levels of belief in some sort of voodoo curse if we bought the shirt before finishing. Ruth Ann saved the day by "secretly" making the purchase for us, which was the right call, because the shirts sold out. The rest of Saturday, we got a parking ticket and mosied around Monterey. Pasta for dinner in Carmel, then off to another early bedtime.

The alarm on Sunday came somewhere around the 3:15 mark. Mike and I quietly got up and dressed, had some food (plan B for me after I exploded my oatmeal in the microwave), then had super-domestique Nathan drive us to the bus pick up. After a 45 minute or so bus ride in the dark, we were unloading at the start line. Mike and I found a quiet spot to sit until closer to starting time. Here's the first really cool moment of the day - Mike and I were recognized! Brian from Carmel Highlands (who I'm pretty certain is the same Brian that won the Master's division - congrats!) talked to us for a few minutes about the race before we parted ways. Really, what are the chances that someone I haven't harassed into it is even reading this blog, let alone saw me at the start among 3,000 or so people - pretty wild.

Mike and I worked our way to the start line and back to the 4:30 anticipated finishers. The national anthem was sung and soon we were on our way. It took about 4 minutes to get to the actual line, beep the watches and we were off. The start was a bit crowded, so it was hard to immediately find a pace or rhythm. Mike was more interested in cutting through traffic than me and we were separated at mile 2. We met back up at mile 4 for our first walking break, but soon after, Mike was off to run his own race and me mine.

The first part of the course runs through forested roads and was pretty warm. Once we hit the coastline, we got our first taste of a breeze (but no fog, the weather was great), and cooled off. I'm feeling good at this point, keeping right around a 4:35 finish pace. The terrain starts to roll a bit and we run by Point Sur and shortly after, get the first glimpse of Hurricane Point. I can't help but laugh when I see it. Even from this distance, I can see people running it and they are running up for a long time. As I approach the bottom, I get some water, some video footage of the Taiko drummers, and turn to the task at hand - running uphill for 2 or so miles. I set a decent pace and keep my heart rate in check. The wind starts to blast me in the face, but I keep moving and don't stop until the water stop just over the summit. Hurricane Point is now behind me.

The two mile decent to the Bixby Bridge is pretty good recovery time, so I try to coast down and across the bridge. We're now about halfway through the race and my legs feel a little heavy but still pretty good. Now I know that the back half of the course is harder and have mentally prepped for that, but wow. We tried to train for the hills, but have nothing comparable to the climbs on Highway 1. The hills are long and steep, short and steep, and many other iterations of not flat. The road is bumpy and I'm starting to feel it. My pace has slowed a bit and I'm stopping more frequently to take on water and Gatorade (much more than in my training, but it was hot). I stopped for fresh strawberries at mile 23, ran about a quarter mile and thought about turning around for more. I'm glad I didn't pass them up.

I don't feel like I ever hit "the wall". I always knew I was going to finish. My legs started to cramp some, my feet hurt, I had to walk a little more than I would've liked, but waving the white flag never crossed my mind. "D-Minor Hill at D-Major Time" (short pop of a hill at mile 25) was brutal. I didn't even think of running up it, just that once I topped it I would run the rest of the way to the finish. As the finish line got closer and people started to gather, I was frantically looking for Ruth Ann and Nathan. There's a picture of me when I spotted them, and even at mile 26, I couldn't help but let loose a big smile. I ran over for some encouragement and a high five, then turned on to the finish, where I proceeded to stop the clock at 4:45.

I collected my medallion and immediately spotted Mike. He had finished about 5 minutes ahead of me and had struggled with a high heart rate most of the day. Nathan and Ruth Ann found us soon after for some photos, hugs and stories. As soon as were able to move, we were off to the car, back to the hotel to clean up, and on the road. We drove the course and took more pictures along the way, then were off for some R&R in San Fran. We were ultra sightseers in SF, taking in Muir Woods, Alcatraz, Napa Valley wineries, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Cable cars, etc. And a big thanks to Ben, Brita and Matt for hanging out with us. It was good to catch up with you guys.

So, how about some Q&A....Did I catch the marathon bug? No. Do I love to run? No (but hate it a bit less than before). Am I proud to say that I've completed a marathon and done something that most people never will? Heck yes. Did the sight of stairs (and subsequently going down them) make me want to cry for a few days? YES. Did I buy one of those borderline cheesy 26.2 car magnets? Uh, yes. Will I ever run another marathon? I can't imagine doing it anytime soon, but never say never. I will say to anyone thinking about running a marathon (Ace), the Big Sur course is amazing. I can't imagine more beautiful scenery to run through, but get ready for those hills.

Thanks again everyone for checking in on the blog and for your encouragement along the way. I hope you've enjoyed my perspective on this journey. Please be sure to also enjoy the
pictures from the trip.

Signing off,

Video #1 (Arrival through mile 9 or so):

Video #2 (Hurricane Point through the Finish):

Posted on Saturday, May 03, 2008 by Bryan Timmons


19 April 2008

We've made it. Today was our last remotely "long" run, clocking in at 8 miles. That's a lap and change (and a snake sighting) around Salem Lake. Next week's runs don't go over 4 miles until we get to Sunday and run for 26.2 miles. In a row. Wow.

This is gonna be the shout out blog if you'll indulge me a bit...

Nathan - Thanks for putting this crazy idea in my head, and applying the appropriate level of torque to my arm to help me decide to run.

Mike - I've seen and smelled more of you over the last 30 weeks than is probably normal. But thanks for sticking with me. I certainly wouldn't have been able to complete the training without your support. I'm looking forward to that post race adult beverage.

Ruth Ann - Thanks for putting up with a half-day husband, and letting me sprout roots and grow into the couch after all of those long Saturday runs. Your patience through this process has been great.

Family/Friends/SRTers - Thanks for listening to my stories/bellyaching/overly detailed running stories (I read
this and felt sorry for you all). All of the "so proud of you" comments really helped get me out of bed on those early morning runs.

This will likely be the last post before the big day. I do plan to carry the camera with me on race day, so check back in a week or so to see my footage and trip/race/vacation recap from the 2008 Big Sur International Marathon.


Posted on Saturday, April 19, 2008 by Bryan Timmons


09 April 2008

Holy friggin' cow are we ever close to marathon day.

I had a little scare this week with my hip. It had been bothering me since the last long run. Wednesday's 8 miler was pretty painful - almost to the point of stopping. I was a little leary of the Saturday run, but was able to complete it without any sharp pain. A little discomfort, but nothing I couldn't manage. I did pick up a foam roller to work out my IT band between now and race day, but think I'm in the clear. Saturday's run was laps around Lake Junaluska up in the mountains. Beautiful scenery and great weather, perhaps a little payback for all the recent rain. On more of a down note, it looks like we've lost one of our runners. Nathan has been fighting off knee pain for the last month or so and has come to the conclusion that he won't be able to run the race. Definitely hate it for him, but it's a little more motivation to finish it myself.

I thought I'd take a few minutes this week to catch up on some stats, since I've been tracking them religiously. I started this plan somewhat fit from cycling season, so I had a decent base fitness. But all this running has really dropped some pounds. I'm down somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 pounds from where I started, tipping the scales at a whopping 161 lbs (my wife affectionately refers to me as Skeletor). A lot of that weight loss was upper body strength, but my body fat percentage has dipped to around 12%.

The runs themselves have also improved. Lower average heartrate (low/mid 130s for the past 3 weeks, down from high 140s at the start back in October) and a mostly consistent pace (9'30" - 9'50" on average) as the mileage has gone up. All said, things are really working according to plan. As we continue to taper (great articles on the taper period here and here), I'm confident that the work we've put in will pay off, and that I'll recover, heal and be ready for 26.2. In two weeks...


Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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06 April 2008

11'06". Really? That's over a full minute slower than my slowest training pace to date, but that was my average pace for the long 20-miler. I had a BAD day. From about mile 5 on, I couldn't find a rhythm, my legs were heavy and just wouldn't go for me. My normal level of effort was resulting in slow, painful miles.

This is the first bad day I've had and hopefully will be the last. There have been tough days, sure, but nothing that felt like this - I just couldn't convince my body to go. But, I hope it's out of my system. I'm looking forward to Tuesday to prove to myself that it's out of my system. I tried to figure out what might have caused this, but to no avail. Did I eat wrong? Didn't hydrate? The best reason I could find was that my mind really fought me. The forecast was for hard rain, and I really didn't want to run through it again. Maybe the ol' noggin just got the best of me. It took the great support of my better half to drag me out of the mental basement when it was all said and done.

But, on the bright side. I DID finish. I passed our starting point at mile 16, thought about stopping, but didn't. It was a moral victory to finish this at all, even if those last few miles were extra slow. Definitely not the triumphant finish to the apex of my training I had imagined, but a finish nonetheless. And other that Saturday, the other runs this week were great. I feel fit and am looking forward to a couple taper weeks to get ready for the big 26.2.

Enjoy the videos - they really show the range of emotion/exhaustion of this rollercoaster week.

Almost there,

Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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30 March 2008

We're really into the home stretch now, faithful readers. In less than a month, this thing will all be over and done with. I will have hopefully conquered the marathon, got a medallion and bought up as much 26.2 memorabilia as possible, and will be ready to start the real vacation part of the trip.

We ran a total of 33 miles this week, but after some brief flirtation with spring last week, it was back to chilly starts in the morning. And a brand new element for our long run.


Believe it or not, it's the first time in this entire plan that rain was unavoidable. In that context, I really can't complain, but the first 5 miles or so were pretty miserable. We were wet and cold out of the gate, but the rain did taper off towards the back half of the run. And now, we mentally can handle a wet day, in case the marathon gods are in a bad mood on the last Sunday in April.

Next week is the big one. Our peak training week of 40 miles, with 20 of those coming on Saturday. Stay tuned for the report.


Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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23 March 2008

Here we are again. Another big training week in the books, capped off by a new long distance of 18 miles on Saturday. We continue to plod through our training and fight of the aches, pains and parnoia of serious injury. Someone getting sidelined at this point in the game (after 25 weeks of training) would be a tough pill to swallow without a doubt.

The long run on Saturday was slower than normal (9'50" average per mile), but I think we've all attributed it to the training load. This plan has a 2 week taper period before the actual marathon, so that time of rest and recovery should (let's hope) deliver us to the starting line ready to go. And just before that taper is our longest training run of 20 miles, which comes a week from Saturday. It's all downhill from there.

Over the last week or so, we've started looking more closely at our agenda for our time out West, which makes this whole thing seem more real and has helped the motivation as well. Monterey, San Fran, Napa Valley - here we come...

A couple of video clips this week. The first set is from an early 9 mile run. I'll just say that I've been lucky enough not to suffer from Mike's "condition". The second clip is just after the 18-miler - tired, salty and ready to sit down.


Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

1 comment

15 March 2008

I'm pretty sure the light I'm seeing is that elusive light at the end of the tunnel. With just 6 weeks of training left and of those weeks, only 2 with really long runs (18 and 20), I'm feeling pretty good about surviving this plan and accomplishing this wild goal of running 26.2 miles.

This week wasn't so bad. Upped the midweek mileage a bit, but came back down for a shorter weekend run. Felt pretty good about the long run, but am definitely feeling the effects of all this wear and tear. The knee hasn't gotten any worse, but my body is starting to revolt against all the pounding. Cardio-wise, things are good, but after we finished yesterday, everything just ached. Still nothing a little time on the couch didn't remedy, so no major complaints.

I think that's it for now. Check in again next week to see if running 18 miles makes me cry...


Posted on Saturday, March 15, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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08 March 2008

Pain. Sure, some is to be expected - I AM training for a marathon. And not to say that this training regimen has been all fun and games, but...

Until recently, I've had the occasionally soreness, stiffness and general desire to sit on the couch after our long runs, but nothing more than that. Starting last week, I went to a new place. I went deep into the pain cave, dropped the flashlight and it was dark, if you catch my drift. I worked up some serious blisters that didn't quite heal enough through the week and came back with a vengence yesterday. Add into that a nice case of "runner's knee" and I'm feeling a little banged up. The knee thing is weird and kind of comes and goes during the longer runs, but I think I can manage it. As long as I can shake these blisters, I think I'll be in good shape. I certainly haven't done all this training to let a little extra pain sidetrack me...


Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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02 March 2008

I am writing this post as one tired puppy. Just finished our first 15 mile training run. This was my first long run in my new shoes and I paid for it. I've got blisters that would make Dr. Scholl's blush - on both feet. Hoping that these will quickly heal/harden and I'll be back on my merry way, but they definitely caused me to struggle today. Towards the end of the run, I fixated on each step and couldn't get my mind to a happy running place.

That being said, we did still finish. Big shout out to Nathan for running the whole distance after being sick all week, and equal props to Mike for "headphone mode". That guy puts on the tunes and disappears down the trail/road.

Next week we up the mileage during the week and tag on another mile to the long run. Here's to quick recovery and being ready to run again on Tuesday.


Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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24 February 2008

Well...To put it mildly, this was a low morale week for me. I've been feeling under the weather all week, so it makes it that much harder to find the motivation to stay on track and get out there and run. Add that with the fact that I've been on a structured, 5 days a week plan for 21 weeks, and I feel like I'm allowed a week of blarg now and then.

I'm definitely a morning guy, but had to postpone my long mid-week run (7 miles) until the afternoon on Wednesday. The weather was much better (shorts and 60s), but the 4 miles the next morning were tough. By Saturday I was just wiped out, but managed to survive the ten-miler. Contributing to that worn-out feeling was Will Ferrell's
Funny or Die Tour. The better half and I trekked over to Chapel Hill Friday night to see the show. It was well worth the trip (and unexpected scenic tour around campus), but it was a late night/early call for running. I highly recommend you check out any of those comics. Zach Galifianakis is a personal fave of mine - check him out if you enjoy wildly offbeat comedy.

Next week ups the mileage again to 15. Hopefully I'll shake the crud I've been fighting (I do feel better today) and be ready for a big week.


Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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16 February 2008

Halfway there! Uhh, sort of. At least by mileage. Ten weeks to go, and today was our longest and most challenging run yet - 13 hilly miles. I'm hoping that the route we took today is somewhat comparable to the Big Sur course. We still haven't found a 2 mile long hill (hello Hurricane Point), but I feel like we got a lot of ups and downs today. Everyone survived unscathed, but ready to be done (at least I know I was).

Today was also time for new shoes. As I tally up my training miles, it looks like I've put about 319 miles on my shoes. They're not completely worn out, so I'll have some time to work in the new pair slowly. Hopefully the new shoes will help ease some of the discomfort I'm having with my mutant left foot.

Also of (non-running) note. Valentine's Day was this week and the better half and I went blue instead of red. We saw the Blue Man Group perform and it was great. I saw them years ago in Chicago, but this show was new and different. And their opening DJ (Mike Relm) was a great surprise. He has a big video screen and controls both the records/scratching and the video. Those of you that know me, know that anyone who does
this has earned a lifelong fan.

Until next week...


Posted on Saturday, February 16, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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09 February 2008

Today was a 12 mile jaunt around Salem Lake. Uneventful it was not, as Nathan found a pile of something to step in and Mike took a tumble (or two) over some very poorly placed roots. I managed to stay upright and survive the run, but I was cashed at the end. Feeling pretty good now, so I'm hoping I'll recover strong and be ready for another big week next week (up to 13 miles, with a much hillier course than this week).

You'll notice from the video that we all had headphones today. No, we're not completely anti-social, but as those miles tick by, we have less to talk about, so a little audio motivation does help. What's on the MP3 player, you might ask? I'm a load-it-up-and-play-it-random type of guy, so I try to dig deep for the tracks on the running mix. Can't miss picks for my eclectic taste? How about the Kings of Leon? You should check them out if you don't know them already. Other staples that keep me moving are Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys and Pearl Jam. And to slow down that heart rate, you've gotta mix in some Regina Spektor and G. Love. So go on, head out to your local Best Buy and freshen up your music collection.


Posted on Saturday, February 09, 2008 by Bryan Timmons

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02 February 2008

Another week in the books, faithful readers...

This week was capped off by a 7 mile run today. As a "stepback" week, the mileage was a little less than last week. This is, unfortunately, the last Saturday that we'll see single digit miles until our taper down period a couple weeks before the race. For any of you that may be interested in the details, you can check out the training plan we're doing
here. Next week jumps up to a 12 mile run (almost halfway through the full marathon distance). See how I'm using that glass half full mentality? I'll take every advantage I can get to keep the motivation high, as it was a massive battle with the pillow this week.

On a brighter note, today's run had some new faces. Nathan is back from his injury and looked as fit as ever, and my dad even joined our crew for the first couple miles.

Until next time...


Posted on Saturday, February 02, 2008 by Bryan Timmons


26 January 2008

Here we are with blog post #2. This week's total mileage was 21, with 10 of those being today. Thursday was a major battle of wills between myself and the pillow, but I prevailed (barely). 10 miles was another uncharted distance, but I think we covered it well. My average pace per mile was 9'13" - pretty respectable with 2 walking breaks for water and power gel. That would put me in roughly the 4 hour range for the actual marathon. As you'll see from today's clip, power gel/GU is the ever-so-appetizing source of calories during these longer runs. The consistency, especially when it's cold, isn't so pleasant, but it is a quick shot of calories to help keep the legs moving.

You'll also see me try to show you my watch after the run (a little blurry, I know). Most of you know what a gadget freak I am, so before I started training I set out on eBay to find some man-toy that would give me something besides running to be interested in. The result was a combination heart rate monitor and GPS watch. The heart rate monitor lets me know well in advance of my heart beating out of my chest. The GPS has functions to show how far I've gone, at what pace/speed, elevation, latitude/longitude, location of Osama Bin Laden, etc. Needless to say, it's pretty slick and a great training aide.

Next week is a setback/recovery week. These weeks are built into the plan every 3rd week to (hopefully) let the body recover and be stronger for the next "hard" weeks. So far, that seems to be working, keep your fingers crossed.

Thanks for stopping by,


Posted on Saturday, January 26, 2008 by Bryan Timmons


21 January 2008

OK folks, let's get caught up to speed before I dive headfirst into this blogging thing. Late last summer, a couple friends (thanks Mike and Nathan) decided that running a marathon would be a good idea. After some heavy convincing (thanks in large part to the Big Sur website), I decided that I would give this thing a go.

Now mind you, I've always had a pretty strong aversion to running (unless being chased or chasing a soccer ball) , but after researching marathons and training, I decided that this would be a great goal/personal challenge for me. In what amounts to a 30 week training plan, we will build up the mileage to prepare for the marathon (26.2 miles, if you're counting). The first 12 training weeks were the get-ready-to-train-for-a-marathon-you-rookie-you part of the plan. Mike and I have been following the plan faithfully since October 1st, running 4 days a week at relatively low miles just to get used to running (Nathan is some kind of superhuman being that didn't need the amateur plan).

Leap forward to today, and we're in week number 17 (13 to go until the big day). The general plan has shorter runs during the week with a long run every Saturday, with the mileage adding up pretty rapidly. Mike and I survived a chilly 9-miler last week and have the first big 1-0 on the docket this week. Nathan is sidelined for a few weeks with a bum ligament, but is swimming like a fish to keep up his fitness.

My plan for this blog is to give updates about once a week or so, with some pictures and maybe even with some video clips if I'm feeling especially ambitious.

Here's a quick pre-run clip with my faithful training partner.

Stay tuned for more...


Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008 by Bryan Timmons