This is my life. Sometimes shown through the eye of my camera phone, and sometimes not. I'll talk running, gadgets, music, and whatever else I stumble on to

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seeking Revenge in Chicago 10/11/09

Lonesome Training Grounds
Post 5 mile training run at my "training grounds" in the Independence Grove FP, Libertyville. Hardly anyone there these days.



That 04:54:38 up there was my finish time in the 2008 Chicago Marathon. The projected times below that are what I hope to finish in at the end- anything BUT 04:54! I have much respect for the 26.2 mile distance after that day. It was an excruciating journey, but it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

As of Oct. 11, I would have logged over 450 miles of running this year. The 16 weeks of training this time around has been a little rough, but I feel that I am faster, more confident in my abilities, and my endurance much improved over last year. I've been blessed with having no serious injuries this time around, with part of that having to do with being just a little smarter in my training.

Through the first nine weeks of my plan, I was running a combination of paved and gravel trails to stave off any injuries and build up some strength. The past month and a half, I've been running strictly pavement to get my legs used to all of the pounding they'll be doing through the streets of Chicago come Oct. 11.

Also in the mix was running without music towards the end of my training. Last year, most, if not all of my runs were done with headphones on, but I don't like wearing them during the races simply because I like to take in the sounds all around me. The problem with this is that the music isn't there to push me forward. The mind can play evil tricks on you when you're struggling! So, not listening to music forced me to just listen to my breathing, concentrate on the pace, and play those mind games to win. It has worked and I'm better focused.

My goal in the marathon this year is to stay at an even 9:00 per-mile-minute pace throughout the race. I've been training with a new nutrition plan, replacing my usual PowerBar Gels with the slightly more potent Gu Roctane Gels, which have kept my energy up in the latter miles. I won't be mixing water with my Gatorade anymore, since my stomach can now tolerate a pure dose.

This weekend or early next week, I'll post some final of details of my race for those of you interested in coming out to cheer on the runners. For now, a great spectator guide is available on the Chicago Marathon website here. You can also follow me during the race via TXT or Email by registering for free here - search for "Jesse Mendoza" and I'm bib #13671.

We're getting close!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Winding down to 10/11/09

Lewis & Clark Half Marathon.
Lewis & Clark Half Marathon, St. Charles, MO., 9/13/09.
Finish time 01:58:56.

I ran the Lewis & Clark half marathon on Sept. 13 in St. Charles, MO. I really like running races in the St. Louis area, mainly because the crowds are always supportive, and the scenery is always nice. This was a big race, with the half-marathon field maxed out at over 5000 runners.

This run was a trial run for the Chicago Marathon in a couple of weeks. My goal was to stay at close to a 9 minute-per-mile pace and finish in close to 2 hours. I wore exactly what I plan on wearing for Chicago, carried the same fluids, and the same nutrition during the run.

I finished in 01:58, which is where I wanted to be at the half way point for the marathon. I finished feeling good after a rather rough start for the first five miles due to some nagging shin pain, probably caused by my lack of stretching as of late- lesson learned.

This past Sunday, I ran the CARA Ready to Run 20 Miler along Chicago's lakefront. This is an organized run, and not a race. There are no timing chips, but there are regular hydration stations, mile markers, pacers, and a post-run party.

Once again, I missed starting with my 9:00 minute pace group, so I was on my own, again. To make matters worse, my Garmin decided to die around mile 9, and I had no other way of timing my pace. From here on in I was going to do the next 11 miles on feel alone. This could either be the worse thing that could happen, or the best.

For a newbie marathon runner like myself, I don't recommend this! I've never run big miles without a timing device of some kind. When I saw some runners bunched together along the route, I knew they were being paced, so I would run up to them and ask what pace they were in. I made my way up through the 11:30, 11, 10:30, and finally the 10 minute group. I never found the 9:30 and 9:00 minute pace groups, so being ahead of the 10 group, I knew I was somewhere close to where I wanted to be.

I've never been more in tune with what my body was doing. My legs get a funny feel in them when I'm running below pace, and they want to go faster. I could tell when my breathing was not where it should be, and the rhythm of legs vs. arms at my marathon pace was easy to find on my own. It was a complete learning experience, though unexpected as it was.

I finished the 20 miles in a personal best of 03:09 (old 03:15). To my surprise, there was no clock at the finish, so I had to ask around for the time. Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of my start time being exactly 7:00 a.m., and never thought I'd be happier hearing "10:09". Still, I'd much rather have that Garmin with me.

Running without knowing what time you're going to get to the end isn't my idea of fun, but I had a grand time anyways. It was exactly the confidence booster I needed.

Bring on Chicago!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Good riddance to August

Wow... where to start?

It's been so, so long since I've written. The month of August was not very good to me, and life had me so busy that I barely touched this blog, written about my running, or even ran for that matter.

In my last post, it looks like my personal best at the Rock N Roll Half Marathon was the highlight of my month. Alas, I have survived and look forward to what the rest of the year holds in store for me.

Houston, we have a problem:

For those of you who work in IT, you know that when disaster hits the Data Center, things can go from bad to worse in a very short time. In the first three weeks of August, we had three disasters, one after the other, that caused us quite a bit of downtime, and many hours recovery time. Let me just say that three disaster type scenarios so close to each other is a very rare event in the IT world. I would spend more time at work than I did sleeping through the entire month of August.

The Perfect Storm:

A "perfect storm" of sequences managed to take down Internet access, a corporate email server, and an entire server farm in a streak of bad, bad luck that caused over three weeks of scattered downtime for our users. The last event even rarer still:

As soon as we come out of a weeks worth of a complete email server recovery, routine maintenance on a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) unit in the data center went awry after a power generator failed to kick in during a battery replacement. This caused the entire data center to go dark in the middle of the work day, and wreaked major havoc on over 13 production servers. This happened on a Friday, and our recovery took the rest of the weekend. All of us are still shaking our heads at the turn of events.

Coming into the first week of September now, things have quieted down quite a bit, thankfully. There is still lots of work to do, and although my days are pretty much back to normal, we are all still on pins and needles around here, and for good reason.

Running out of time:

My running mileage for the month of August took a pretty big hit due to all of the other fun I was having. I got as many runs in as I could, especially the long runs on the weekends. Clocking 12 to 18 hour days doesn't help with conserving energy, that's for sure. Still, the runs I did get in saved my sanity in a time when I thought my head would explode. Coming into September, I'm back on my normal training schedule.

What's next:

The Chicago Marathon is now less than five weeks away. The 16 mile run I did this past Saturday went really well, and my last 20 mile training run is in a couple of weeks. This weekend I'll be running the Lewis & Clark Half Marathon in St. Charles, MO. I'm using it as a tune up run for Chicago, and it is my last race until the big day.

So that's it. The post is a little longer than I thought, but it's done. I hope to keep writing, now that things have calmed down quite a bit.

Thanks for hanging in there :)

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Hey look! It's a post!

Taken from a recent Tweet of mine:

"Going to have to hunker down somewhere comfy this weekend and kick out a blog post. It's been forever. Soo much to tell..."

Thanks for hanging in there, my friends.

It's time to get writing again.... :)