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#finishingiswinning Shirts are IN!!!

We’ve gotten our first shirts and we’re so excited!!

We went with Playback as our shirt of choice and our good friend Kathy Sweezy created the design.

This is our Unisex design:

Shirts are $25.  We’re still setting up our online store, so for now email us at FinWinAdmin@finishingiswinning.com to order!

Whee!

2011 Year in Review : The Leadville Marathon Part 1

Please forgive me… I confess that I became distracted during the holidays, and lost track of my desire to post “year in review” blogs, recapping races from 2001.

I also confess that I became a bit intimidated by the task, as recapping such significant races/ events is, to my mind, a big deal. It’s a big deal because these events hold a great deal of personal meaning, and because it’s hard to condense so much passing of time into coherent paragraphs.

But, such is the task. Hopefully, it’ll be readable.

Leadville.

FIrst, there’s the altitude: over 10,000 feet. It’s an unkind and harsh environment, even if astoundingly beautiful. There’s little oxygen and nothing to diffuse the brightness of the sun. It’s dry. It’s tough. It’s amazing.

Then, there’s the town itself, which is simply hardcore. It takes a certain type of person to live at 10k feet, and a whole gathering of those people creates a unique community. That town is not messing about.

Leadville.

That name immediately conjures images of the 100 mile footrace for which it became famous, and the colorful cast of characters that have run that fabled trail.

But, that race is for another day (like maybe some weekend in August, 2014).

I “just” ran the marathon, 26.2. But, every single mile of the race is above 10k feet, going up over 12k feet a couple of times, and beyond 13k at the halfway point. It’s no easy race.

I’d had my sights set on this race since the year of my 40th birthday, when I decided I wanted to mark that milestone with a “significant event.” Reality set in thereafter, though, in the form of abject lack of base mileage, which led to a bit of over-training, which led to injury, which led to my not completing a marathon in 2009.

In 2010, I intended on doing the Leadville heavy-half (15 miles) as part of my training for the KC Marathon, but injury again prohibited my participation.

After getting KC under my belt, the 2011 Leadville Marathon became my sole running focus. I rested much of the fall and winter after KC, felt great most of the spring, heading towards Leadville.

A long planned and amazing trip to Scotland in early June was something of an interruption to the very peak of my training, though, even if I did get to run along the shores of Loch Ness at sunrise! (and right next to a 13th century castle at another point… but that’ll all be another post)

A week after returning to Colorado, from Scotland’s sea level, I drove up to Leadville for my longest training run before tapering for the race. And Leadville had its way with me. Ugh. Too few red blood cells. Too few hills run in preparation. I knew it was going to be a tough race.

Now, I should also bring in another twist to this story of Leadville. His name is Chris Scott.  Chris and I go way, way back.

THIS is Chris Scott.

He’s a little unhinged… and so I asked him if he’d be interested in doing this marathon with me… he is incapable of passing up a challenge, so he said “YES!”

Chris had been doing a lot of those mega-tough-military-mud-shockandawe type races, so that, coupled with his being in great shape from his involvement with the Army Reserves, meant he was pretty much ready for a marathon. But, he’d never done more than 16 miles at once, and he’d be driving out to Colorado from Arkansas.

Chris arrived in Denver a few days ahead of the race, and he and I drove into the mountains Thursday night, so we could have at least 2 days of acclimatization. Melanie met us up there the night before the race and my good buddy Ross Odegaard was meeting us in Leadville the morning of the race.

So, the stage was set… Chris and I were as ready as we were going to be, we had our crew and it was time to do this thing…

To be continued…

Registering to Race the Sky

It’s a New Year and my blog, bendicke.com, is down for some reason. Anyway, since this post is primarily about running, I thought I’d put it on the #fiw sight for now.

I signed up for the Leadville 100 Trail “Race Across the Sky” today. It’s by far the earliest I’ve registered for any running event. As an actor, I rarely know what my schedule will look like six months in advance, let alone nine. However, when I saw a tweet from race central that said they were only 23 slots from capacity, I figured it’s now or never. I would be fairly heartbroken if I were unable to run simply because I failed to register in time.

Not that this was a snap decision. Rather, upon returning from India in October just a week after completing my first 100 at the Heartland in Cassoday, KS, I knew this was the race I wanted to set my sights on in 2012. After all, this is the race that my fellow Cross Country mates and I talked about while watching Eco-Challenge and other televised endurance events. Back then, the Ultra-running community was less publicized as Dean and Jurek hadn’t yet become fixtures amongst mortal civilians.

When Gary and I watched last year’s Leadville I noticed something at the “1 minute to start mark.” Silence. It was brief but, it’s a bit of how I felt registering today. Here were 600 plus runners who’d planned all year for this moment and now, in their corral, waiting for that gun, there was no turning back. It was them and a 100 mile out-and-back course that would likely change them forever.

I’m excited. And scared. And ready for the challenge. Well, as ready as I’ll ever be.

My little calendar is set. It’s got a bunch of runs at high altitude, a number of long-mileage days (30+ and beyond) and a whole lot of tire pulling.

I truly believe that Leadville embodies #finishingiswinning as well as any event. Here’s to one more sojourner looking to cross that ever elusive goal-the finish line.

Training Your Mind Pt. 2

There are a slew of great training programs out there for anyone looking to run a half-marathon or further. Resources by Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Bart Yasso and others provide novice to elite runners with advice, speed workouts, tips for obtaining PRs (Personal Records) and the like. Most of these programs will include long, slow runs as an essential part of long-distance training. These runs are never to be ignored or skipped, barring injury, of course.

Gary is training for a trail marathon in Aspen, CO in August (that sounds boring, doesn’t it?) and his training regiment includes three 20 mile runs. I would suggest that not all of these have to be run as one long 20 mile effort. Rather, I would suggest at least one of these scheduled as what I call, The Back-to-Back Out-and-Back.

This particular workout involves taking your car out ten or so miles, parking it late at night, and running home. Make sure you start this run at a fairly unreasonable hour, say, after 10 o’clock. Once you’ve arrived home, make sure you only sleep about 4 hours. After that alarm goes off and you’ve completed a short regiment of cursing, head out the door to find your car.

Small Joys tip*: I like to set the automatic drip on my coffee maker to coincide with my alarm.

This workout will train you to do a couple of things. 1) Run when your both mentally and physically tired. 2) Give you the benefit of a long run without the full impact on your joints and muscles. 3) Prepare you for waking up early on race day when you probably didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Have a crappy workout!

Note: For all of you cyclists/triathletes, this workout can be done with your bike as well however, it might require to drive 25 or more miles away from home. Of course, I do the same as a part of my Ultra Training.

*Small Joy tips are just that, little things you can do to make training your mind a little more bearable. I’ll try to include them whenever talking about training programs that don’t sound like much fun.

2011 Year in Review : Colfax Marathon and Half-Marathon

Cold, wet, rainy, long… awesome.

This was the day of the Colfax Marathon, May 15, 2011.

Cliff Notes Version:
- It was cold and wet.
- Ben ran 9.5 to starting line.
- Ben did full marathon, Anne and I did half, besting her PR.
- Ben and I ran 9.5 back to his place.
- We were really tired.

Extend-o Version:

I wasn’t even sure I was going to run this race, as a couple of weeks before I’d had some funky leg/ knee issues at a softball game (one of the strangest physical issues I’ve ever had… I think I temporarily dislocated my right knee, or something…) but, a bit of rest, followed by a good, strong 9 mile run convinced me I could do it. So, at the last minute, I bought a registration (legally) off craigslist.org and joined Anne for her second (or was it her third?) half-marathon.

As Ben was ramping up mileage in training for his first 100, he was planning something insane: running 9.5 miles to the starting line, running the full marathon, and then running 9.5 miles back home for a total of 45 for the day. I decided to join him in at least part of his madness, figuring that after 35 miles, I might be able to keep up with him…so, I planned on running the 9.5 miles home with him after the race, which would put me at 22+ for the day.

(Side Note: I did something all the experts tell you NOT to do. I wore a BRAND NEW pair of shoes for this madness, a pair of replacement Saucony Kinvaras, as the pair I’d been training in had a manufacturers defect. It worked out fine, likely because I’d been running in the exact same shoe up to that point…)

The day started early. And dark. And cold. And just a wee bit rainy. Anne picked me up before dawn, as Melanie, sanely, was going to meet us all at the finish line much later.

Many racers will buy super-cheap thrift store clothing to wear at the starting line before a race, so they can discard it at the start line without wasting good clothing. I had found a good quality fleece vest for $2 for this purpose. But, it was so cold, I never discarded it.

Hilarity ensued at the starting line as Ben ran up and down yelling at the top of his lungs, looking for Marshall Ulrich (Ben’s hero). People just don’t know what to do with him… and it’s funny to watch.

Unfortunately, the half-marathon course and the full-marathon course head different directions, so Ben was left to run West alone, as Anne and I made our way East. Anne promised me she was fine with my “run-walk” regimen, but for the first couple of miles we ran way more than we walked, which was good. What was funny was that when we ran together, neither pulled ahead, but when we walked, it was super-hard for me to not pull away from her… I guess I am about a foot taller than her…

It’s hard to communicate what happens in a race, unless you’ve done it… you settle into a groove, things feel good, then it hurts and you feel bad, then you find the groove again. We kept a good pace and kept working. Running a race with an old friend is a GREAT way to catch up, and we conversed the entire way.

About the half-way point, the course runs through a Fire Station and that was pretty great. Anne made the pictures on the Denver Post web site at this point, and I was “conveniently” cut out. I didn’t think I looked THAT bad…

The back half of the course comes down 17th avenue and it’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous neighborhood. Really nice part of the course.

As we made our way back into City Park, we began to push pretty hard, realizing we could beat Anne’s PR. Then, we were handed a dose of “reality” as a guy on a bike came whizzing past shouting, “Make way for marathon winners! Make way for marathon winners!”

Wait. What?

It was true. The guy was clearing a path amongst the half-marathon back of the packers so the marathon winner could finish… ahead of us.

The marathon race winner beat Anne and I and we were only doing the half. So, that’s kind of cool and a bit humiliating. But pretty cool.

So, we finished up, began re-fueling and started watching the finish line, waiting for Ben. He finished very strong and had a great race. We all did. It was a great race for everyone.

We took advantage of the post-race food and drink, but soon Ben and I had to face the facts that we had 9.5 to go. Ugh.

We loaded up on food and drink and bid farewell to Anne and Melanie, and we started making our way back to his place.

Those miles are kind of a blur. They were hard, hard miles Our stomachs turned and we had a hard time getting enough fuel down. It was long, long, long.

And then, as I thought we were getting ready to make the turn onto Ben’s street, he told me we had to go a bit further, to round out the mileage. It was one of his mind-tricks he was employing to train himself for the difficulty of running100 miles.

Finally, though, we rounded a corner or two and we were done. Exhausted. As we were doubled over, tugging our shorts, gasping for breath because we’d finished with a flourish, I looked at Ben and said…

“Does this count as our exercise for the day?”

And we laughed and laughed and laughed the way only oxygen depleted, totally exhausted people can…