Why don’t Eskimos run marathons?

For those of you who have been tormented by the question that serves as the title of this post, I have some answers for you.

1. Dehydration sneaks up on you literally with EVERY BREATH and suddenly pretending you are a dragon running through the Germantown streets is not nearly as much fun. Until just recently, I have always associated dehydration with extreme heat and the morning after a night at the bars but now ‘running in the cold’ has jumped to the top of my list.

2. Ice is slippery. To my readers in warmer climates, that thing you use to cool down your Coke is a major pain in the ass (pun intended) when it covers the streets and sidewalks in sheets of translucent death.

3. Cleaning up the roads actually makes running harder! Take the difficulty of running through a few inches of snow and now add mounds at every intersection, unlevel piles where ever people decided the part of the sidewalk they are responsible for ends, and an even higher likelihood you will encounter the translucent death mentioned above. Dreadful.

Okay, I have gotten my complaining out of the way for the day. In reality I have very little to complain about. If the worst thing in my life at the moment is that some snow has made it inconvenient for me to train for a marathon I am willingly participating in then life has got to be pretty damn good, huh? However, I am dismayed that with every day that the Arctic Vortex hangs around I fall further behind in my training. So resulting to short runs through the better-maintained neighborhoods and a minuscule side of treadmill work will have to do in the meantime.

All my love.

WATERisLIFE Derby Marathon Fundraiser

I have made a training fundraiser!

http://www.crowdrise.com/waterislifederbymarathon/fundraiser/benjaminrubenstein

After spending the last few weeks looking around various online fundraising sites and just gathering what information I could about all the different possibilities, I chose to make my fundraiser for WATERisLIFE on crowdrise.com I am extremely excited about creating this as it is for an incredible cause and is already serving as a training motivator.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with WATERisLIFE, they are a charity organization that provide short and long term solutions to drinking water shortages in developing countries. I myself was pretty unaware of them until a friend of mine showed me this video of theirs that really hit home with me.

There is also this video, which I found after doing more research on WATERisLIFE, about a young boy from Kenya.

As someone who gets to drink and use water without a second thought to its cleanliness or where it comes from, I was immediately impacted by the message WATERisLIFE was sending. Not just about clean water but about the perspective we carry through our lives on a daily basis about everything from what restaurant we should go to eat at to why our cable bill is so expensive. Just like this message, WATERisLIFE provides a wide array of products and programs to solve the clean water crisis millions of people face everyday. Their services range everywhere from proving personal water filtration devices, known as the Straw, to installing clean water wells, to education and training courses of sanitary/healthy practices. They run the complete gambit of needs and have a high level of transparency that gives me confidence that the funds you help me to raise will go where they truly need to go. For those who want more information about WATERisLIFE, you can go to their website here.

Originally I wanted to create a per mile pledge fundraiser where my supporters could donate a certain amount for every mile of training I did. While I still think that this is a really awesome idea that would make me super motivated to train, I was unfortunately not able to find any website that would support that format. But have no fear! Even though all the donations will come in the form of lump sums (and I recognize that some people would donate like that anyways) please feel free to donate based on that per mile idea. My training has me running just over 500 miles over the 22 weeks (I am currently at 35 halfway through week 4, but things will ramp up quickly come January). I listed my fundraising goal at $2,500 which is $5/mile. That way, for every two miles that I run I will have raised enough money to purchase one of WATERisLIFE’s Straw systems that will provide clean drinking water for an individual for a year. If I reach my goal, I will be able to do that for 250 people!

Any donation small or large is an incredible help. Not only will you be helping me to train but you will be providing clean drinking water (something that I know I definitely take for granted everyday) for someone who needs it desperately. For those of you who cannot donate right now, I ask that you try to keep some of the perspective shown in the above videos in your day to day life and for your continued support as I train for the 2014 Derby Festival Marathon. I will update my per mile number and total donations through the crowdrise website and this blog periodically, probably with my bi-weekly training updates.

Thank you all so much in advance for your support and donations. You truly are incredible people.

All my love.

PS. SHARE WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

 

The First Two Weeks

Well I am officially training for a marathon, folks!

The start of training has gone really well. Two weeks in and I am feeling fresh and excited for the next twenty. My overall motivation is very high but I admit that the days where I have TRX and a run are pretty daunting. It is surprisingly difficult to switch from one workout to the next. I approach the two with a completely different mindset and it can be hard to make that switch quickly.

The first week of training was just a TRX week. I figured that my body could use some more rest from the pavement pounding and I was unsure how I would react to the TRX workouts. I knew that the workouts would be difficult, as I hadn’t lifted consistently in almost two months and TRX focuses on the core (which is far and away the weakest part of my body), so I didn’t want to jump back into running at the same time. Looking back, I probably could have. But how many times have we done stupid things simply because we could?

I was actually looking really forward to the second week. Even with it being over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was legitimately excited to start running again. A good friend of mine, Rebekah, had told me she wanted to start doing some of my runs with me so we have become Monday evening run buddies. Its a real good setup! She keeps me to a slower pace that helps me work on my breathing and form and I help to serve as some motivation for her to get out and run. So thanks, Rebekah!

As was expected, the Thanksgiving holiday in Southern Indiana was definitely a big test of my resolve to stick to the schedule I had made. It was really hard for me to pull myself away from my family to do TRX alone in the basement. I think they all understood though. AND I FINALLY GOT UP IN THE MORNING AND RAN! I have been telling myself that I will go for a run every time I have been in Spencer County for the past two years and it never.ever.happens. But I was up on that cold Friday morning and took off to run the country block. Let me tell you, it sure as hell beats running through the streets of Germantown here in Louisville. Over the roughly 3.5 mile run I managed to scare up a family of deer, get stared down by several cows, and race a few excited dogs down the side of a yard. All the while surrounded by a country landscape of rolling hills of harvested crops dotted with farm houses, barns, and woods. Incredible how long it took me to truly appreciate a place I have been going to my entire life. Absolutely beautiful.

My self control ebbed a bit over the weekend but Week 3 is off to a great start and I will be sure to keep you all updated on my progress. I am also looking into registering with a charity of some sort. I really like the idea of donors pledging a certain amount of money for every mile that I run in training but I haven’t taken the time to look at what charity or the logistics would be. Keep an eye out, though!

All my love.

2014 Derby Festival Marathon

Today was the first of my 22 week training schedule for the 2014 Derby Festival Marathon. I took an entire week off after the Louisville Sport Commission Half Marathon and it was really, really hard to get back on the horse. The 8 days I took to relax, drink beer, and focus on everything but working out felt like it was months long as soon as I stepped into the gym after work today. But it felt great to get a good sweat and I am beyond excited to tackle this next obstacle so I am not worried.

My schedule for the next five months is very intimidating to look at on paper. Over the course of the 22 weeks I will be incorporating multiple techniques to help me build the required strength, endurance, and mindset that is required to finish a marathon.

The first of these components is obviously running. I did some research on the length, distances, and variations of running that work best for beginner marathoners. I decided to use the training schedule for the 2013 Chicago marathon due to its thoroughness, format, and that it did a great job of combining distance running, short distance/pace work, weight lifting, and rest. I was able to format the schedule to fit my longest runs of the weeks on Mondays and Saturdays. Saturday was an easy choice, I typically have the most time on these days plus the marathon race is on a Saturday. Monday was a lesser of five evils. I figured Mondays already suck and tend to be the weekdays that I have the least going on and am least likely to be traveling. This program will have me running up to 20 miles to train for the marathon and in the heaviest of weeks I will be running 38 miles. Big numbers for a kid who just suffered through a measly 13.1, but I trust myself and this schedule to get me where I need to be by the time I need to be there.

The second component that the training has is weight lifting. This is probably the part that I am most excited about, as I definitely have noticed a difference in my body and strength after I let lifting go to the way-side during the half marathon training. I knew from training for the half that it would be too much for me to do a full-blown lifting routine like I used to but I also knew I had to do some kind of weight training to improve my strength and, through that, my running. So I decided on a TRX, a suspension trainer designed by and for the military, and think it will serve as the perfect middle ground that I need. Some of my favorite things about the TRX is that I can make the workouts as intense as I want to make them, it is very compact/portable which will make it easy for me to fit workouts in, and it implements a lot of natural movement and body weight training. The kit came with a 12 week training program which will get me through the lower mileage weeks of running. Once those 12 weeks are over, I will see if I want to continue relying on the TRX (given that my mileage will blow way up in the last 10 weeks) or if I think I can move towards a more intense routine. I actually did my first workout today and it was eye-opening to see how much strength I had lost in my upper body and how little strength I have in my core. We all have to start somewhere though.

The third component I will use is cross-training/swimming/cycling/yoga. This will help to mix things up and keep training more interesting than pounding the pavement for mile after mile. These activities are also important to prevent over-training and round out the cardio/strength I will gain throughout. So if anyone knows of a cheap indoor pool or a fun rec league (anything but basketball) please shoot some info my way! Out of all of these though I am most excited for the yoga. I was first exposed to yoga in p90x a few years ago and to this day still enjoy a good warrior series. Not only is it an amazing workout but it will also help keep me stretched out and prevent injuries! There are some great deals for free classes in the studios around Louisville so I will take advantage of those and hopefully gain enough knowledge I can do my own workouts once the weather warms up. Yoga on top of Dog Hill in Cherokee, anyone? 🙂

Finally there is the rest component. Each Sunday and at random points throughout the schedule I will make sure I do everything I can to do as little as possible. I understand how important it is to listen to my body during this process (something that I used to have a very hard time doing) and plan to take all the necessary steps to stay fresh and not over-train. I see multiple ice baths and massages in my future over the next 22 weeks.

I will track this entire program from start (today) to finish (April 19, 2013) and will do my best to keep you up to date with how everything is going. I know that I benefited from people writing about their training experience so I want to make available whatever knowledge I gain from this experience as well. This will probably be in weekly posts recollecting the past week and previewing the next. No promises though, as I tend to forget about this things sometimes.

There are 150 days until April 19, 2014 and the Derby Festival marathon. See you then!

Louisville Sport Commission Half Marathon

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I have defeated November 10.

I started my training for the LSC Half Marathon on August 12, 2013. I was following the schedule that the LSC had published and was determined to stick to it.

As many of you know, this wasn’t going to be my first half marathon. I had successfully completed the 2013 Derby Festival half marathon in the spring and had just missed my goal of finishing in under 2 hours, 30 minutes. I can make all the excuses I want for doing a half-assed training in the spring but at the end of the day I didn’t make my performance a priority and disappointed myself. And I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

It was this disappointment and a need to have something that I had complete control over that made me become so dedicated to the training this fall. I had seen a lot of changes in the months prior… graduating, the end of a relationship, starting at Strategic… and needed something that was completely determined by my own actions. Not to mention I realized that my burn-out from Australia had resulted in me being in one of the worst shapes of my life, tipping the scale at 218 pounds and much weaker than I had been in a long time on the first week of my training.

So I ran.

The schedule started out easy enough but damn it made me realize just how bad of shape I was in. I took full advantage of the gym at work to kick start myself and actually found that doing treadmill work helped me not stop and get my cadence under control. Once my distances became too long to do at work or on the treadmill I suffered through that transition which was hell on my knees and shins. But slowly but surely, I gained back a solid base and a lot more confidence to move forward with the training.

For the first time in my life, I kept a detailed log of my workouts over the 14 weeks that tracked everything from distance and time to how much sleep I had. I will never not keep a workout log again. It is incredible to flip back through the pages and see where I started and ended. Going from 7.5 miles in a week to 13.1 in one day and the ups and downs that got me there is really motivating. The log also helped me to keep track of what was and wasn’t working as far as time of day, fuel, and difficulty of certain routes.

November 10 was a great day. I was confident in myself and my ability to stay at the 9 minute mile pace that would allow me to finish at or under 2 hours. It was a gorgeous day here in Louisville, too. A tad windy at times but the sun was out and life was good. I started much faster than I intended, letting the adrenaline and satisfaction of passing people get to my head, but that came to a quick end when I hit the rolling hills of Cherokee Park and Cave Hill Cemetery. My IT bands were on fire when I ran out onto Baxter and started the run back downtown. It was around this time that I also began to feel some fatigue in my hamstrings. This gave me a pretty scare because in the last mile of the Derby half my quads had pretty much given out on me and my race would’ve been shot had my hamstrings done so that day. Here’s to you, hammies, for sticking in there. I also found myself racing against the other runners which was really messing with my pace and rhythm. Once I was able to focus on running against my goal and the clock I started to run more smoothly and actually increased my pace by a bit. The last 1.1 miles were a straight shot up main and it was the longest mile of my life. I stuck to my tradition of sprinting the last half mile (the operative term being sprinting, here) and wasn’t even paying attention to the numbers on the clock when I crossed the finish line.

1 hour, 52 minutes, 56 seconds. My watch had suspiciously added 7 seconds to my time, but both had me in absolute shock. I knew that running the half at a 9 minute pace and cutting 30 minutes off of my time from the spring was ambitious and I didn’t think that I had been running that well that day so when I saw my time I was on Cloud 9. An 8:37 pace and 40 minutes cut off from the spring was beyond my wildest expectations and it felt so good to have the past 14 weeks pay off. I placed 435th out of 1,947 participants and 26th out of 43 runners in my division, Men’s 20-24, too!

Even with how excited I am about my finishing time, it isn’t anywhere close to the most important part of the past 14 weeks. When I started training I was not in the best place; I was unhappy with the shape I was in, restless, and much too focused on things that were in the past and I had no control over. But when I crossed that finish line none of that was there. Running had helped me to direct my frustrations to a positive goal, think and come to terms with “what ifs” that I was wrestling with, melt almost 20 pounds off, and gain back the sense of control and confidence that I was fumbling with in August. And that is worth more than any combination of numbers on a stop watch.

So, for all of you who think that its too late or too cold or you’re ‘too far gone’ to start running, I am here to tell you that all of that is bologna. Whether it is a half marathon or a 5k isn’t what is important, starting something that I will guarantee you will love and thank yourself for later is what matters. Give it time and stick with it and let me know how everything goes!