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Tag: running

Napa Valley Marathon

IMG_2631I know some people who workout and don’t have any specific goals. They find motivation in just the workout itself. Maybe it’s weight loss, increased strength, or just ‘being healthy’. There isn’t a larger, driving goal, like go on a big hike, sign up for a strength competition, run a marathon, etc.

I am NOT one of those people. When I don’t have an overarching goal when working out, I tend to eat worse and lack focus. I have tried to set weightlifting goals such as ‘bench press 170 lbs.’ or ‘squat 225’. I got motivated when I started to get close to the goals, but then what? What is lifting that much going to allow me to do? It just doesn’t do it for me.

So it wasn’t a big surprise that while on the plane trip back from doing a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon, thoughts of what’s next were going in my mind. I have always wanted to do a marathon where I traveled to the location… a destination marathon, if you will. After searching around for what was available in the timeframe I wanted to do it (March-April 2013), I came up with the Little Rock Marathon or the Napa Valley Marathon.

Since my brother lives in Sonoma, CA now, I thought this might a good chance to train with him since he had expressed some interest in running a marathon in the past. I sent him an email and a few weeks later, we were signed up and I had my flights booked. Given the timing, I had to start my training plan the week I signed up for it.

Training through the winter was rough. It was mild through January, for the most part, but that is when it got cold and corresponded with when my really long runs started. I had to get creative and ran 14 miles on a treadmill one weekend (not a highlight for me). A big thanks to my wife for her support during these runs and for not getting upset that I needed to take one day every weekend to get my run in. Running a marathon is not an individual thing when you are married and have a family. It impacts everyone and I appreciate it. IMG_2633

I had an ankle injury that got worse during my training. I would limp all day between runs and even through the first 2 miles of my long runs, but after that it usually loosened up. This obviously had me nervous going into the run, but I focused on making sure I would show up at the starting line with plenty of rest. If I got seriously injured, I wanted to get injured giving it my all during the race.

The race day weather was nearly perfect and while my ankle hurt, especially in the last 4 miles, I finished. My goal was to run another sub-4 hour race, and I was on pace until mile 23. My brother and I ran together until that point. The pain in my ankles and the fuel in my tank just ran out. I had nothing left and knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the pace for the last 3 miles. My brother took off and met the goal, finishing in 3:56 or something close to that. I walked it in for most of the remaining three miles and finished in 4:09. Missed the big goal, but still a great experience. Made even better because I ran it with my brother.

My post race meal was two chicken tacos from Juanita Juanita, a local mexican place. A great ending to the trip.



Why run?

On my long run today, I took a break from the Autobiography of Mark Twain (great running book) to listen to the sound of my run. I do this now and then, especially in the winter. The sound of my run is the sound my breathing makes, my feet hitting the ground and the natural environment I am running in.

Winter Route

Today was my first chance to run something other than my winter route since November. The bike path that goes by the house is covered in ice and snow and so I have to stick to a street route. It’s an enjoyable out-and-back route but it doesn’t offer me the truly enjoyable sounds and sights I get to see when I run along the river.

Winter Route

Spring/Summer Route

I do sometimes run the winter route in the spring/summer but since I run the winter route so much during the winter, I tend to minimize it. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three winters that I have run along that road.


Finding the Meaning

So there I was this morning, running along the river, listening to the sounds of my run and I started to think about why I have this desire to run. This lead me down several trains of thought and made for a most enjoyable time. I started out with fitness.

This morning by the Fox River

Running for Fitness:

  • Relatively cheap (shoes, some winter gear and some body glide and I’m good to go)
  • Can do it all year round.
  • Allows me to eat some bad stuff yet not pack on too many pounds (although I’m not losing any!)
  • Is good for my body (lungs, heart, etc.)

The next thing that came into my head was that while fitness was one aspect of running, it wasn’t the deeper reason I run. Running as a social activity is another reason. A couple of experiences came to mind about this:

  • I was able to spend an incredible amount of time with my wife last year while we were training for the marathon. It allowed for some great conversations and we connected in a way that we haven’t for many years.
  • Back in 2000, I trained with my Dad for another marathon and it allowed me to really reconnect with him after college and having been away for a year.
  • I also have a running partner at work and we have logged a lot of miles together while discussing life events and work.

The last thing that crossed my mind on why I run was a more personal one. I took the photo above and the one below after the turnaround point. It had been overcast the entire run but on the way back, the sun came out for 2 periods of about 5 minutes. The feeling of the sun while on a long run on a cold day is reason enough for me to get out there. The connection to the earth and to the world around me is so strong that I usually pick up the pace and can’t help but have a huge smile on my face. It dawned on me while turning around and taking off my hat to feel the sun on my face that the real reason I run is pretty simple. I run to feel alive.

Chicago Marathon Summary

Chicago Marathon – 10/10/10

Man, there was seriously high anxiety in the Dobson house last week and especially on Saturday. Everything from who we are going to meet up with at the race, see during the race, when we are going to see the kids, Julie’s Dad and Sue, parking before the race, traffic after the race, preparing our gear, getting downtown for the packet pickup, etc. It was a crazy house around here. By the time we were standing at the start line, waiting for everyone to get moving, I thought we had certainly had enough. It took us almost half an hour to cross the start after the official start of the race, but all of that anxiety seemed to go away, at least for me, when we crossed the start. It’s amazing how running 26.2 miles will focus your mind.

We finished in 5:27. A respectable time considering the weather and Julie’s previous injuries. It got really hot in the last three miles and runners were just wilting in the heat. The medical tents were all filled as we passed the aid stations… casualties of the day. By the end of it, Julie and I both were ready for some medical attention, but we could walk and still had our senses about us. Thankfully Julie’s dad was there and was able to drive us home. I would have been capable, but it would not have been an enjoyable trip back.

Two days post race and Julie and are on the road to recovery. I biked a little this morning and she is at the gym as I type this. Talk has already started about getting Julie a pair of shoes (goodbye Vibrams!) and what races might be next. I’m glad to see that Julie may have been bitten by the running bug because it is one of my true joys and I am happy to have company. Bring on the winter runs!!

Marathon Training

Worst training run: Wednesday, Aug 4th. I started my run at 6:05 am. My iPhone died at 6:37:07 and never came back due to me getting caught in a torrential downpour that I had to run in for 3 miles. You can witness this tragic event because the RunKeeper app I use on my phone was running right until the very end. http://runkeeper.com/user/rdobson/activity/13973939

Best training run: Friday, Sept 17th. This was the 20 miler. I ran the first half with Julie and the second 10 on my own. I felt stronger at the end of the 20 than I have ever felt at the end of any long run I have ever done. My times reflect it too. The last three miles where the fastest out of the 20. 8:58, 8:59 and the last mile was an 8:34. These are the runs that make you want to just keep running. http://runkeeper.com/user/rdobson/activity/16625574

Best song to finish a run to: Fighter – Christina Aguilera. Start this song approx 3 min, 45 seconds from the end of your run, you will not regret it. Damn that woman can sing.


You’d think the 62k calories would have allowed me to drop some weight… in the end, I lost a total of 2 or 3 pounds.

Gentlemen, start your engines

Julie and I are running the 2010 Chicago marathon and today was our first significant run in preparation for the event. The marathon is on 10/10/10 this year and due to travel this summer (which means we’ll likely be training less), we needed to get started a few weeks ahead of what our training plan recommended.

We are following Hal Higdon’s Beginner Training Calendar which is the same training plan I followed when I ran the 2000 marathon with my dad. This plan has you running 4 days a week with 1 day cross-training. Usually it’s a Tues, Wed, Thurs run which range from 3 miles as the start of the training to 10 miles at the end. The fourth run is a long run and we are planning on doing ours mostly on Saturdays. These weekend runs range from 6 miles the first week to 20 miles in mid-Sept. where the training peaks. The cross-training day is Sunday.

Here is a google calendar link to our training plan (technically starts the fist week in June). Chicago 2010 Training Program

Lots of things to figure out: shoes, clothes, kid-watching help, work schedules, etc.  Training for an event like this takes a lot of effort and I am so excited that I get to do it with the wife.

I used an iPhone app named RunKeeper to track of today’s run. It has elevation, speed, etc. and the map it provides on their website is one of the coolest things for tracking runs I have seen. It’s just fun to play around with. I’m planning on tracking all my outside runs with this app.

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