Maui Jim Sunglasses

Aloha! After a couple of days on Oahu, we flew to Maui to visit one of our longtime sponsors at www.OneMileRunner.com, Maui Jim Sunglasses www.mauijim.com. It was our first time visiting the location where Maui Jim began in Lahaina. Even though Maui Jim moved its headquarters to Peoria, IL after purchasing RLI Vision in late 1996, the Hawaiian culture and way of life that Maui Jim promotes dates back to its roots here in Lahaina.

Having an opportunity to meet the owner and CEO of Maui Jim, Walter Hester, and his entire Lahaina staff was a treat for Sekyen and me. We felt the warmth, hospitality, and care that Maui Jim prides itself in everyday with its superior customer service and employee relations.

DSC00385640x484

(Sekyen and I with Walter Hester)

DSC00392640x481

(Bill Haywood and Jen Williams with me at the entrance of the Lahaina location)

Being a Fitness Ambassador for the Maui Jim Team http://www.mauijim.com/teammaui.html called ‘Ohana (Hawaiian for family), I was asked to test out a new pair of sunglasses called “Hot Sands.” Even though “Hot Sands” will not be available for purchase until later this year, you will see me testing out the model during the last leg of The 2012 Isles Mile Challenge on the Big Island this Saturday.

Sekyen and I wanted to say a special thank you to Ruthie Belden, Executive Assistant to CEO, who took the time out of her busy schedule to show us around the facility and share with us the values of Hawaiian history. Mahalo!

Running Fidalgo Island

I had no idea where Fidalgo Island was located before I began The 2012 Isles Mile Challenge. However, we are pleased to learn about this wonderful getaway just about 80 miles northwest of Seattle, WA. We had a chance to see Deception Pass, a strait between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island, and walk/jog across the bridge built over the Pass in 1935. We stayed in Anacortes, the main town on Fidalgo Island, during its busiest weekend of the year as they hosted their annual Arts and Crafts Festival in historic Downtown Anacortes. And we enjoyed the special hospitality of Matt McKay at the Nantucket Inn.

DSC00340640x421
We were blessed with great weather for the race as Fidalgo Island is in a rain shadow as mountains block the rain producing systems that keep Seattle so moist throughout the year. The weather even in Seattle this weekend was beautiful. I ran a 4:43 on a tranquil country road that typifies the area and was protected at all times by Mert and his taxi service.

DSC00382640x552
We are traveling to Hawaii on Sunday for the last leg of the The Isles Mile Challenge for www.OneMileRunner.com. We are planning on racing on the Big Island next weekend after seeing the great waves of the North Shore of Oahu, touring the Maui Jim sunglasses office (one of our sponsors) on Wednesday, and then racing on Saturday on the Big Island near where the IronMan triathlon takes place. It should make for a great finish to an unbelievable tour.

Running Bermuda

DSC00316640x360

You would think with an island’s highest point being only about 260 feet above sea level that it has flat terrain, but Bermuda is an up and down island making Race #5 on The Isles Mile Challenge my most difficult race yet. Bermuda is a British overseas territory located in the northern Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the United States. In my opinion, it has one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in Horseshoe Bay and is a leader in off-shore finance.

We raced just outside the capital city of Hamilton on a warm morning. I ran a 4:49 mile on the sometimes dangerous course, but was well protected by driver, Jack Mungal.

DSC00331640x359

After five weeks on the road, we were pleased to board a plane soon after the race to spend the weekend in Sarasota before venturing west to Seattle at the beginning of the week.

Running Mount Desert Island

Stop #4 on The Isles Mile Challenge is the largest island off the coast in Maine – Mount Desert Island. With its rugged and rocky beauty, Mount Desert Island is the home of Acadia National Park and the quaint town of Bar Harbor. We arrived on Saturday with Charlie Olbrias and Scott Boucher from The Last Mile Racing Management LLC. Charlie and Scott measured the selected course and prepared us on the particulars of the race on Sunday.

DSC0030612640x360

I awoke at 4am to begin my warm-up for the race. The sun rises early this far to the east, so a few minutes after 5am the sun appeared. We had dry and sunny conditions, around 65 degrees, with strong winds. It was a great day to race. The race course was in Acadia National Park and was one of our most picturesque routes to date. Check out the beautiful views in our 2 minute video below:

It was very special to have Charlie and Scott from The Last Mile Racing Management LLC (www.thelastmileracing.com). They use the My Laps system to get the precise computer time with the “chip” being attached to the back of the bib number, so when your chest crosses the final mat, the clock stops. I ran a 4:39 and was happy to have my old crew with me.

DSC0029912640x362

We are traveling on Tuesday to Bermuda and Race #5 will be at the end of the week. We have crossed the halfway point of our tour…

Running Santorini

DSC00111640x250

I have wanted to go to Santorini for many years. We visited many Greek island in 2007, and then ran on the island of Symi in 2010, but never made our way to Santorini. On the 2012 Isles Mile Challenge, we came to Santorini and it did not disappoint. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You are situated high up on the volcanic cliffs overlooking the giant caldera (which was created by one of the world’s biggest volcanic eruptions in 3650 B.C. toppling Minoan civilizations). Spectacular sunsets, a famous red sand beach, and archaeological digs that are still in the process of being excavated. Santorini has a variety of things to do and see, but the sights are breathtaking. Take a look at the sunset from our cool hotel room or see Santorini from our boat cruise in our short video. You will get a sense of the island’s beauty and my heavy breathing during the middle of the race.

Situated up so high on the cliffs, there is a lot of wind to keep you cool in the summer heat. We did not even have to use the air conditioning, just left the windows opens in our high perched room creating cool breezes all night. We awoke on race day at 4am and raced about 6:15am as we tried to beat the traffic on one of the busy roads of Santorini. Thanks to our trustful driver, Leftoris Poulis (pictured below), we were able to remain safe on the race course.

DSC00229640x309

DSC00208640x408

I ran the mile course in 4:45. I felt a bit fatigued from this third race in a couple of weeks, but was happy to complete the European leg of the Isle Mile Challenge. We now head back to the eastern time zone in the United States. We will make our way up to the state of Maine where we will meet up with one of our sponsors – The Last Mile Racing Management based out of Connecticut. The Last Mile Racing Management is the Official Timer of all our events. You probably remember Charlie Olbrias and Kyle Dunnack of The Last Mile Racing Company as they established the New England Marathon…One Mile At A Time in 2009 and followed me throughout 27 New England cities. Charlie will be measuring, timing, and protecting me in the next race at Mount Desert Island on July 22nd. We look forward to returning to the States for Race #4 before moving onto to Bermuda for Race #5.

Running Iceland

After our race on the west coast of Ireland, we boarded a bus to Galway city, switched buses to travel across the country to Dublin, boarded a plane to Amsterdam, and then made the flight late night to Iceland. It was a long day of travel, but it was still light when we landed around midnight (as the summer months have just a few hours of darkness each day).

 

 

We had a bit of jet lag to get over, but we had a chance to train and take in a few of the beautiful sites around the capital city of Reykjavik. Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is a very cool place as it is the junction of two tectonic plates on the mid-Atlantic range. The division between the North American continent and the European continent is most visibly seen here in Iceland. The break in the continental divide stems over 3 miles wide and increases 2 cm. every year. We also had the opportunity to see the incredible waterfall at Gullfoss, the faithful geyser, Strokkur, and finally soak in the thermal glacier baths at the world famous Blue Lagoon. If you have not visited Iceland, please put it on your list. You will feel like you are on another planet as the natural landscapes do not disappoint.

 

DSC00069640x3602

 

We raced just outside Reykjavik on our first sunny day since we left the US. It was nice to race in the sunshine and I finished race #2 in 4:42. Our crew in Iceland was very friendly, especially our enthusiastic driver, Arne Thorolevison from Hveragerdi.

 

DSC00093640x543

 

We continue across Europe tomorrow as we overnight in Amsterdam. Fly to Athens and then onto the Greek  island of Santorini on Friday.

Running in Ireland

We have seen the sun for just a few hours since our arrival in Ireland, but this is why this island country is so green…

The Irish people are extremely friendly and they make you feel right at home. Our Irish host from Clifden, John Wallace, is a typical Irish bloke full of love and Irish humor (and his favorite Guinness). Here’s a photo of Sekyen and John in front of beautiful Kylemore Abbey:

 

013368x640

 

Our first race in Galway county mixed a bit of wind, rain, and slippery roads, but it was a good start to the tour. I ran a 4:49 and was very thankful for another part of our Irish crew – driver Lukas Pietraszewski who kept me protected the whole way. Here is a photo of Lukas after the race:

 

DSC000121

 

 

We fly to Iceland on Sunday ready for more rain next week. We will miss the picturesque countryside of Connemara and the warm Irish folks who have made our week here a very special memory.

Running: 5 Steps to Run A Better Time Trial

The last part for my speed preparation is a time trial. Just me against the clock. Unfortunately, some of my races are just like a time trial (in some of my strange locations) with no other competitors. It is I vs. the clock – that is how my time trials are set up. It does not have to be that way – you can have competitors at a time trial, but for me to properly measure my training and my shape, I prefer to run a time trial solo. I do this to build my mental strength. This is why I find time trials much more difficult than running against other competitors. In a race, you can draft, pace, and use other competitors in your event. In my time trial, I am alone and want to feel that loneliness over a measured distance.

We have set up a half mile time trial on the roads behind my house that I run every year before my tours begin. It helps me build confidence in my body, mind, and spirit. I do not run this time trial all out, instead I use it as a dress rehearsal for my mile race. I warm-up the same way and put my toe on the line just like it is my first race. I want to “feel” what the first half mile should feel like in my mile race. I practice my strong start, my first quarter mile, and then run my second quarter just as I would like in the mile – smooth, relaxed, and rhythmic. I should be around 2:20 for the first half mile.

I ran time trials the last two Saturday mornings running right around 2:20. This practice allows me to race with confidence next week. Here are some points to remember for a good time trial:

1) Warm up fully
2) Race solo or with others – your choice.
3) Choose the same course in order to measure improvement
4) Have a purpose – what are your performance goals?
5) Reflect and repeat the following week

All the best with your speed workouts to help you better prepare for your racing distance. We are off to Ireland on Monday for our first race. Let’s hope the rain will stop just before I put my toe on the line…

Running: 7 Steps to a Better Start

Working on my “start” is part of my speed training. I remember my mistake at The National Masters Indoor Championships in 2006. When the gun went off for the start of the race, I went backwards and not forwards giving up position on the tight 200 meter track. I wanted to start off in a certain group for the mile, but they were already gone. I ran a 4:46 just before my 43rd birthday. I corrected my “start” mistake the following year at the same track in Boston at The National Masters Indoor Championships. After working repeatedly on my start and the initial 100 meters of the one-mile race, I ran a 4:37 just before my 44th birthday. I had earned my qualifying spot for this National Championship and wanted to stay with the leaders for the first 1/2 mile. My good “start” helped me establish position in the lead group and allowed me to keep my race strategy for an improved time in 2007. Now that I am soon embarking on my 5th tour for www.OneMileRunner.com, I am working on my “starts” this month as I prepare for my first race on July 1st.

The shorter the race, the more importance is given to the start. Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 meters knows how important his “start” is going to be in London next month. From 400 meters and below, sprinters use “starting blocks” to begin their races. Events longer than 400 meters (one lap around the track) do not use “starting blocks”. Even though in longer races the start is not as important, it is still fun speed training and certainly gets you focused on the task at hand.

Here are the 7 keys to a fast start for races that do not use a starting block:

  1. Line up your feet in a sprint position one ahead of the other. (Decide which foot you would like to have in front – this will be your push off leg).
  2. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart with your front foot flat and the back foot just touching with your toe. (If you begin with a base too wide, it can cause you to retract backwards at the shot of the gun).
  3. Whatever foot you have in front, raise your opposite arm up high in a full arm swing position.
  4. Lean over the starting line (yes, it is legal to lean over) with almost all your body weight on your front foot.
  5. At the shot of the gun, thrust down and back with raised arm and push off with your front foot at the same time. This will literally launch you off the line to begin your race.
  6. Keep yourself in full sprint mode to get position at the start of your race and to avoid collisions with other participants’ legs and elbows.
  7. Maintain your sprint speed for a desired length (somewhere between 60-200 meters depending on the race).

Enjoy the power of your new “start” and begin your race with a bang!

Preparing For The Speed Of The Mile

One of the reasons why I love the workouts for the mile is that every day is different training. Besides all the full body strength training that I do to prepare for the abuse of racing every week, this month of June focuses on training the speed required for the mile. The week started for me in Arizona, where I began my week on Monday with repetitions of 8×1/8 mile sprints, returned to Florida to run a 3 mile tempo run on Thursday, and concluded my speed training on Saturday with 7×1/4 mile on a straight road. This coming Tuesday, I hit the bridge to take advantage of one of the few hills in the city.

Let’s go over each of these different speed workouts so you can understand why you should add them to your workouts:

  1. 1/8 mile sprints –  all-out sprints preparing your muscles to load and explode
  2. Tempo runs –  roughly 20 minutes of  “hard running at ease” (breathing is easier) to raise lactate threshold (the breaking point where your muscles fatigue)
  3. 1/4 mile repetitions –  slightly slower than your sprint speed teaching your body to work harder and increase your running efficiency
  4. Hill repeats – working against gravity improving the strength of muscles and tendons

At 49 years old, I follow my hard runs with a recovery run (30-50 minutes) the next day allowing time for my body to mend, strengthen, and absorb the quality speed workouts. Of course, before you begin your speed workouts get properly warmed-up with light jogging and mobilization exercises, and then conclude the workout with a cool-down of jogging mixed with striding (easy lengthening of your stride) and stretching movements to remove lactic acid created by the speed workout. Please let me know how any of these various speed themes help you to go faster.