Friday Inspiration – Runners Talking About Running

This one is  a different kind of Friday Inspiration. It’s a short, casual interview with of the most interesting ultra-runners out there – Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek and Peter Balkwin.  Interesting questions, and interesting answers on why they race (or don’t race) why they run, and how to treat my personal nemesis, plantar fasciitis.

I’d never heard of Balkwin before seeing this video – he seems like an interesting character. Check him (and Krupicka and Jurek) out.

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Totals for the Week Ending 1.25.2014

Run Miles for the week: 27.5 in 4:33:46
Run Miles for the year: 106.5
Projected total miles for the year: 1495.1
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 39.4/5.6
Run Streak: 1 (15.5/15.5)
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 113
Prospect Park loops for the week: 0
Prospect Park loops for the year: 6
Bike Miles for the week: 0
Bike Miles for the year 0
Projected total bike miles 0
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 1k bike miles 20.6/2.9
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~4:30
Average Weight 182
Books Finished: 1 (The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight In the Age Of Information Overload, Daniel Levitin)
Books by Women 0
Total books for the year 1
Total books by women 0
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 0%
Books per week to reach 52 1.05
Milo posts for the week 5
Milo posts for the year 13

 

Notes: Not as bad as last week, but not particularly good either. Marathon training officially starts now. Its time to start living the consistency I aspire to.

 

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Friday Inspiration? Moved by the struggles of others

The other night, bored during a six mile treadmill run, I started scrolling through so-called triathlon inspiration videos on youtube. I got mostly what you’d expect. Chris Lieto finishing Kona. An age grouper struggling to the finish line. Many of them were set to Eminem for some reason.

Then I came across this one:

Viewed almost 1.5 million times this video is almost all images of people falling to pieces. There are images of bike wrecks, runners collapsing, runners suffering from back spasms so bad they can’t stand up straight, people on stretchers, ambulances, all in the name of inspiration.

I was of two minds watching this video. Part of me was horrified that these images of people’s bodies failing them would be seen as inspiring; but another part of me was inspired by it, admiring the determination. As someone once said about the classic video of Julie Moss finishing the Ironman, “there are those who will look at that video and know they never want to do the event and those who will look at it and know they have to do it”.

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Book Nerds: Richard Prince

A series on interesting book collectors and readers.

Richard Prince is among my favorite of contemporary artists. His Marlboro Man changed the way I thought about art and his autographed photos remain among the high points of New York clever school of art.

Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy)

A piece from the autograph series.

Prince’s work is now amongst the most expensive by a living artist. One of his Nurse paintings sold in 2011 for over 8 million dollars.  Prince funnels a good chunk of that money back into his very serious book collection.

His collection, housed in a climate controlled vault in upstate New York, is wide ranging. It includes a signed first edition of Ulysses, Vladimir Nabokov’s desk copy of the Olympia Edition of Lolita, and Bridget Berlin’s legendary, handmade, Cock Book.

As Prince explains, “Basically, my collection is about sex, drugs, beats, hippies, punks. . . And great reads.” It is said to be among the best collections of post war American literature in private hands.

The original idea for the collection was American literature from Prince’s birth in 1949 to 1984. But the collection has expanded a bit beyond that at this point. Rumor has it he is in the process of cataloging it and will perhaps donate it to the Morgan library or some other institution. I hope so; I’d love to see the hand corrections Vlad did on Lolita.

Prince features some images of the collection on his website. If you’re into post- war American art and literature, its really worth a look. Check out the stack of Tulsa’s (hardcover, $200), the various editions of the Americans (first edition ~$1200), multiple copies of the first Search and Destroy, what appears to be a complete run of the pulp classic Black Mask, a bunch of Jim Thompson first editions and much, much more.

That a guy with this kind of money spends it creating a collection that involves both scores of trashy lesbian exploitation novels  and Vlad’s desk copy of Lolita, amuses me to no end.

On a personal note, I’ve got a couple of Prince’s books myself. Two monographs, including the one issued for his retrospective at the Guggenheim, plus an edition of his book Why I Go to the Movies Alone bought for four dollars at a thrift store and currently going for about two hundred on Amazon.

Further reading on Prince collection can be found here, and here.

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2015: What to Expect from Milo

Is there anything more uninteresting than a blogger blogging about what he plans to blog?

Probably not.

Yet here I am, about to tell you what I plan to do with this website in the coming year. Why? Because things are going to change a bit and I think you, dear reader, deserve some notice.  Here’s what to expect from this website in 2015

Consistency. My motto for this year is consistency — my work, in my exercise, in my personal development and in my writing here.  While I don’t plan to write here every day, I do plan to post here much more often than in previous years. The goal is 365 posts for the year. As you can see below, some of this will be more of the same, some of it will be new.

More Questionnaires. I have been running the BQ(Q) project for a number of years now, and with the publication of a piece on the project this past fall, it has really started to get some legs. We’re rapidly closing in on 100 questionnaires and this year, I hope to finally reach that milestone. I also hope to finally put all this information into a more useable (and analyzable) format.

Not Just questionnaires. Most of the readers of this website come here to read the BQ(Q) responses. But in the coming year, I plan to post a lot of different things, not just BQ(Q)s. “Like what?”, you ask. Like the following:

  • More Navel Gazing – Over the years I’ve posted a whole bunch of recaps of my training and racing, and the occasional rumination on my running or intellectual life. I plan to more of all of that this year. If you know me personally, it might be interesting. If not, you’ll probably skip it. But whatever, it’s my website.
  • More Books. – When not running around in circles, working, or raising my kid, I’m probably reading. It’s a deep passion of mine and something I have written about throughout the years in various forums. I plan to repost many of those writings here, as well as new pieces on what I’m reading, what I want to read, and book culture in general.
  • Maybe Some Actual Reporting? My current job involves a lot of contract negotiation and drafting and not much narrative writing. I’m going to try to keep my writing chops up by writing some more thought-out posts. Expect some pieces on New York’s socio-geography and forgotten history.  And perhaps some reporting on the spiritual group the Community, (aka “Divine Madness”).

So, lots of new stuff coming down the pike. If you’re like most readers of this website, you don’t care. You’re only here for the BQ(Q)s. If that’s all you’re interested in, may I suggest that start checking www.bostonqualiferquestionnaire.com 

That will bring you to the slightly redesigned BQ(Q) page where I’ll be featuring the latest responses to the Questionnaire, and eventually, compiling the responses into a more usable format. BQ(Q)s, and everything else, will still be posted here on the front page.

Blogging! So exciting!

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The BQ(Q) – Jay S.

Thanks to Jay for taking the time to fill out the BQ(Q) — those interested in lower mileage plans, and plans involving crossfit style training should pay especial attention to what Jay wrote at the end.

Name (and website/blog/twitter if applicable): Jay S.

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’8”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 148

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?
Abebe Bikila Day International Peace Marathon & Half – 3:12:01.
http://www.safetyandhealthfoundation.org/bikila/

Tell us a little about the race.

Compact gravel surface along the C&O Canal Towpath in Washington, D.C. The marathon is out-and-back twice. A very slight uphill going out, and downhill back. Not enough to slow you down, but knowing you’re headed “downhill” on the way back (especially the last 6.55 miles) provides a mental boost. I also liked the idea of breaking the race down into four parts.

Race morning was maybe 65° and 85% humidity. Warmer than ideal, but it’s tree-lined and was under cloud-cover. The temperature definitely slowed me down, but it’s hard to say how much.

A BQ for me was 3:15, but I figured I needed better to gain entrance. My plan was to run for a 3:12 (7:20 min/mi) the first 3/4 of the race, then pick up the pace as much as I could after the third turn-around and see if I could break 3:10 as a stretch goal. The race had two start-times. A “non-competitive” start at 8:00 AM and a “competitive” start at nine. I went out at 8:00 for the slightly cooler temps. This was a very small race. For the 8:00 start, there were only 250 runners, split about equally between the half and the full.  I’d never run on this course before, but I’d be able to get the lay-of-the-land (so to speak) on the first out-and-back. As typical for me, I went out fast, around 7:12 min/mi. I tried settling in with a couple other runners to slow myself down, but didn’t find anyone at quite the right pace. Eventually I just settled into my own pace, and the miles kept clicking off around 7:08 – 7:15. I knew I should slow down, but whenever I tried to it seemed like more effort. So I just kept it where it was. The first 6.55 mi clicked by in 47:14 (7:13 avg pace). The second 6.55 mi was uneventful and I ran it in 47:08, for a halfway time of 1:34:22 (7:12 avg pace).

I knew the third 6.55 mi was going to require my concentration. I felt like I was slowing down, but the splits proved otherwise. I ran the third 6.55 mi in 47:26 for a 3/4 time of 2:21:49 (7:13 avg pace). Now I was really hopeful for sub-3:10 as I still felt pretty good and the last 6.55 mi would be literally downhill. Unfortunately, around mile  I started to fade a little to a 7:22 mile, then mile 23 was a 7:33. I’d also started to feel some intestinal distress. I was hoping I could run through it, but by mile 24 I realized it was slowing me more than just taking a pit stop. The porta-potties weren’t where I needed them to be, so into the woods it was on mile 24, which left me with a 7:49 mile. I was able to pick things up a bit, but not for long before my calves started to give indications of cramping (a first for me). A saving grace at this point was it started to rain lightly, which was very refreshing. I pushed my legs as much as I dare, but the last two miles were 7:43 and 7:58. I ended up running the last 6.55 in 50:21 (7:41 avg pace), crossing the finish line in 3:12:01 (7:19 avg pace). Funny, I ended up just where I should’ve been.
 How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I purchased a treadmill in 2002 to help lose weight. I was 31 years old and 35 lbs overweight at the time. My first race was a half-marathon in

Jan 2003, completed in 1:57. I never ran in high school or college, and wasn’t (and am still not) particularly athletic.

 What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

~ 10K miles.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

About 1,800 miles in the 12 preceding months.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

5 races in the 12 months preceding.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

I followed the Run Less Run Faster plan. But see my final thoughts.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

No.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes. See final thoughts.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, it’s part of the Run Less Run Faster plan.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

This is a bit long, but I don’t feel this interview would be complete

without going into my running history. I’ve now run a total of 7 marathons, including my BQ. My progression was as follows:

Dec 2003 – 4:22
Jan 2005 – 4:15
Oct 2005 – 3:56
Nov 2007 – 3:36
Nov 2013 – 3:22
Jul 2014 – 3:55 (Grandfather Mountain while training for my BQ, so I
ran it as a long run, not a race).
Sep 2014 – 3:12.

My first and second marathons were completed on typical beginner training schedules. For my third, I followed Higdon’s Advanced I plan. But, I never cross or strength trained, barely stretched, and started battling Achilles tendon issues in both legs. Not knowing better, I went to a podiatrist. Not knowing better, he prescribed orthotics. I continued to run as much as my body would let me. For my 3:36, I followed the Pfitzinger 55 mile-per-week plan, and this was the first marathon I actually felt good at the end, especially since I’d had to back off during training at times due to my Achilles.

I ran fairly consistently the next couple years, but nothing longer than half-marathons. In Oct 2009, I ran a 1:38 half which was a PR at the time. Unfortunately, in Nov that year I was a pace-group runner for a marathon when I was suddenly hobbled at mile 17, which turned out to be my Achilles. Months of PT followed. I was pretty bummed, because I had been in my best running shape at the time, and my Achilles hadn’t been bothering me that year. I thought I’d found the right combination of shoes, orthotics and training. But obviously not. So due to the injury and starting a new job, I ended up taking a break from running for the most part from 2010-2012.

By the end of 2012, I was ready to start running again. During this time-off, I’d read Born to Run, which motivated me to scrap my orthotics and stability shoes, switch to more minimal “zero-drop” cushioned shoes, and work on my form, transitioning to a mid-foot running style. Also, the PT I’d seen had evaluated my strength and running form, and told me my Achilles issues probably stemmed from my weak hips. My hips were collapsing when I ran, which put stress on my lower legs.

I needed to add strength and cross training to my running. I’d heard a lot of good things about Crossfit, so I started that in Jan 2013 and at the same time started building my mileage.

2013 was a year of Crossfit while slowly improving my mileage and pace, and mostly running by feel. About mid-way through the year, another runner persuaded me to run a fall marathon. I picked up a copy of Run Less Run Faster as it seemed like the best complement to Crossfit. I ended up doing the last 8 weeks of the RLRF marathon plan with Crossfit 2-4x week and off of that, ran the 3:22, which frankly blew my mind. It’s what finally gave me the confidence I could BQ. I ended 2013 at 1000 miles, with plans to BQ in 2014.

In 2014, I stuck with Crossfit and still running by feel until 16 weeks out from my BQ, when I started the RLRF 3:10 BQ training plan. I trained using its prescribed paces, but adjusted some of the speed work when it was too fast (mostly I ran the tempo and long runs as prescribed, but ran the interval work at slightly slower than prescribed). I also added some additional easy runs as I had a secondary goal to run 1500 mi in 2014. Midway through 2014, I boosted my mileage again when I decided I wanted to try for 2014 miles in 2014. I’m pretty sure RLRF doesn’t have you run over 35 mi/week, but some weeks I was up to 60 mi. Besides BQ’ing in 2014, I finished it with 2050 miles.

I believe it’s the additional strength and cardio from Crossfit that allowed me to push harder in my running that was key. That said, I don’t think Crossfit is the perfect complement to running, it’s just the one that worked for me. But I am now a firm believer in strength (resistance) and cross training, and the idea that running starts from the hips and requires a strong and stable core. I also now think that the running shoe industry and orthotics are mostly bunk. You gotta find what works for you, but I think most folks would be fine in a basic cushioned zero-drop shoe.

One other point: race nutrition. I researched carbo-loading for my BQ. See http://endurancecalculator.com/ and the related paper “Metabolic Factors Limiting Performance in Marathon Runners.”

– I spent two-days pre-race carboloading on > 90% carbs by using maltodextrin powder mixed w/water. It’s almost impossible to carbo-load properly on solid food as you end up with way too much bulk in your intestines.
– I had “breakfast” 3 hours pre-race of a sports bar, two gels, and more maltodextrin powder (150 g carbs total).
– I made my own sports drink from the maltodextrin powder and sugar. I consumed 42 oz of the drink during the race, as well as 3 gels (~ 125 g carbs total). This is the least fade (i.e. hitting the wall) I’ve ever had in a marathon and I think proper pre-race and in-race nutrition was an important factor.

I hope all this helps other runners.

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Training Totals for the Week Ending 1.18.2015

Run Miles for the week: 15.8 in 2:31:08
Run Miles for the year: 79
Projected total miles for the year: 1517.6
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 39.2/5.6
Run Streak: 2 (15.8/7.9)
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 112
Prospect Park loops for the week: 0
Prospect Park loops for the year: 6
Bike Miles for the week: 00:00:00
Bike Miles for the year 178
Projected total bike miles 0
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 1k bike miles 20.2/2.9
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~2:30
Average Weight 182
Books finished: 0
Total books for the year 0
Books per week to reach 52 1.05
Milo posts for the week 5
Milo posts for the year 7

Notes: Perhaps the less said about this week the better. On the plus side, I’ve articulated my goals for the year and  I know what I need to do to reach them. Now, to execute.

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