Oct 21

Hansons Marathon Method Review by Steve

After completing a couple marathons, I came across Hansons Marathon Method, written by Luke Humphrey, with its promise of improvement with a 16-mile long run. A lot of the marathon training programs I had been seeing online were starting to look the same. I wanted to shake things up a bit. I had heard good things about this book. The Amazon.com reviews are mostly positive.

The biggest difference between Hansons and more traditional running programs is the long run tops out at 16 miles. They want that 16 mile run to simulate the last 16 miles of your marathon, not the first. You are not intended to run it on fresh legs, much like the last 16 of the marathon. They use cumulative fatigue to do this.

The book certainly has the approach of running more often during the week and more miles overall. I had to ease into running six times per week as I had never done this before. This might be too much for some people. Fortunately, I got used to it. I also got used to the overall volume. One of the big things about the training that may be helping people is the increase in mileage itself.

The schedule is a week full of good running workouts. They let you know the pace goals for specific workouts (speed, strength, tempo). The spectrum of paces will help your running in different ways. The physiological benefits behind this are explained in the book. I learned that I needed to run faster on the speed days and much slower on the easy/recovery days. At first I was skeptical about the recovery days but they really worked. I could run some solid miles on those days and feel great the next day.В 

I felt like the book itself was an easy read even with some of the running science terminology. The book is also concise. I still use it frequently as a reference.

The results? I ran a PR after applying their training. I improved my previous time by about 17 minutes. After that, I decided to ramp up my paces using the same training for my next marathon. Again, I improved my PR by about 18 minutes. Hanson’s Marathon Method definitely works for me!

Questions or comments on this book? Leave a comment!


Sep 20

Mesquite Tri State Marathon Recap by Steve

I ran the Mesquite Tri-States Marathon in 2012. This was actually my first marathon. I am writing this review after having completed five marathons so I have a little more perspective.

Mesquite is small-ish town in Nevada about an hour away from Las Vegas. For the 2012 marathon, the event was run by the Casablanca hotel. They are no longer running the event. It is now run by Planet Ultra.

The organization of the race by Casablanca was okay. There were plenty of hotel deals in Mesquite. The race swag wasn’t great. The shirts were plain. The medal was very cool though. I’m sure it will be better with Planet Ultra involved.

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This race has a point-to-point course. We took a bus from Mesquite, NV to Utah. The great thing about this course (and why it is called the Tri States marathon) is that you start in Utah, run through Arizona, and then finish in Nevada. Very cool! The course is mostly downhill with a few rollers on the latter part of the race. The elevation chart really hides those hills, particularly one at mile 21 (Why does there always seem to be a hill this late in the race?). The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect. We finished at the Casablanca hotel. They had a nice modest finish festival.В 

If you want a low key race with fewer participants, fewer spectators and a great course, then this race is for you. I actually remember chatting with another runner during the marathon saying she specifically chose this course because there would be fewer people. В Everyone running was very nice and I made some new friends.

The aid stations were stocked decently. I have seen better but I didn’t know any better at the time. The volunteers were outstanding as always though.

This unique Tri-State course with lots of downhill is great choice, especially if you’re looking for something less crowded. It was a great easygoing race for this first timer.

Sep 04

2013 Pocatello Marathon Recap by Steve

I ran the Pocatello marathon in 2013. I was supposed to run it in 2012 but I had emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed one week before the marathon! It was incredibly disappointing to not run it after all the training I had put in. It was nice to redeem myself in 2013.

Pocatello is a small town but this is a top of the line marathon. There are a lot of good things to say about it. The price of this race is an incredible value compared to what you get. The race bag, personally tagged with your information, was an Adidas sling bag (very cool!) and you get a sack of potatoes (very Idaho). Actually, the volunteers told me to take more bags of potatoes since my kids were doing the kids’ races. On that note, I would like to say that all the volunteers, people working the race, and even residents of Pocatello were incredibly NICE. There is such a warm, pleasant, and courteous vibe there.

The bus ride to the starting line went smoothly. The buses ran on time and were comfortable.

We arrived at a random farm that served as the starting line. There were plenty of port-o-potties. It was a fun feeling being gathered with a bunch of runners at this out-of-the-way spot in the dark.

We started the race running downhill. In fact, the first half of the marathon is downhill (with small exceptions like a short out and back). My plan on the downhill was to run close to my target pace but run comfortably. I didn’t want to expend energy trying to slow myself down. I believe this worked for me because the effort felt the same as the effort I give during an easy run. I can see how the downhill can lure people in to running faster than they should.

The scenery was absolutely beautiful as the sun came up. Many times I just looked around as I ran and enjoyed it. I heard a turkey gobbling at some point which made me chuckle. The weather was also perfect.В 

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At 13.1 the half marathoners line up to start 1:45 after the full marathoners start. RJ did the half marathon and I gave him a fist bump as I ran by. I can see how having all the runners start on the course at staggered times could be frustrating for some runners. If I didn’t run past the half marathoners before they started, I could have been caught up in a larger group of runners. This doesn’t bother me too much but I can see how some may not like this. The only thing that bothered me was when I caught up to walking 5k/10kers and had to run around them when I was really feeling worn out at miles 23/24. Although it didn’t bother me too much because I ran around one group and they said encouragingly, “Great pace!” Like I said, everyone is so nice!В 

The second half of the race is much flatter and there’s a decent hill at mile 21 that took a bit of wind out of me.

The aid stations were well stocked with provisions and enthusiastic helpful volunteers.

The finish area is a beautiful park. The post-race provisions are excellent. After rehydrating and a few bananas, I couldn’t resist a pulled pork sandwich. There were some other cool things at the finish like bounce houses for the kids, massages, and vendors.В 

After I finished and rested for a bit, they held the kids’ races. I love it when kids’ races are held. I think it gets the whole family involved. It also promotes an active lifestyle, especially running, for kids. Two of my kids did the “.2” race. They had an absolute blast. For the finish line, they ran through the mouth of an inflatable tiger head (the ISU mascot). Each kid got their own medal and a slice of pizza. Which do you think they liked more? With the registration, each kid also got their own race tech tee and sling bag (not the Adidas one). This is such a value for a very inexpensive kid race.

My oldest child did the 1.5 mile kid race. She is 8 years old and felt like “.2” was too short. I guess she already has the runner mentality! This race is timed, as opposed to the .2 race. For this race, they get to run through the actual finish line. It is fun to see everyone on the sidelines cheering for every kid.

My kids ended up using the bounce houses until the workers took them down. Meanwhile, I got a massage from a DoTerra booth.

Overall, there are so many good things to say about this race. It also helps my attitude that I set a PR on this race. There is such a great atmosphere. I ran with many friends and family (including my sister-in-law for her first marathon). The fact that the race is held on Labor Day weekend really makes it convenient too. I hope to do this race again in the future.

Aug 22

2013 Hoover Dam Marathon Preview by Steve

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I ended up doing the Hoover Dam marathon on short notice. I had recently run a marathon but RJ and his wife were coming in to town to run the Hoover Dam marathon. If I chose to run it, I would be doing so only 5 weeks after the previous marathon. I did it anyways. рџ™‚

Hoover Dam is a smaller marathon. Still, Joyce fromВ Calico RacingВ puts on a great race. The registration was nice and simple. Packet pickup was small but efficient.В 


Even though the race was held in December. The Boulder City, NV weather was absolutelyВ perfect.

The weather along with the views made for a wonderful experience. The views of Lake Mead, the Six Tunnels trail, and Hoover Dam really make this a race to put on your calendar.В 

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The race starts out near Lake Mead and heads along the paved River Mountain Loop trail to the Six Tunnels dirt trail (also known as the Historic Railroad trail). You run on hard packed dirt through some very cool tunnels (they will throw your Garmin off рџ™‚ As you run along the ridge, you will get more views of Lake Mead. After the tunnels, you go down a switchback walkway (ugh!) and reach the turnaround at the top of the Hoover Dam parking garage. This is when you will get a great view of the Hoover Dam.В 

You turn around and head back. This makes one lap. 1/2 marathoners head back to the finish and marathoners do another lap.В 

Normally, I prefer when races don’t have laps. My favorites are point-to-point. However, I enjoyed the two laps on this race for two reasons. 1. The views are so good, you have to do them twice. 2. I was so focused on the race that on the first lap, I missed the view of the Hoover Dam! Fortunately, on the second lap, I made sure to get a good look.

This course is definitely worth it for a 1/2 or full marathon. If you do the half, make sure you don’t miss the view!В 

The course has a good amount of elevation change and the switchback walkway was kind of awkward to run on. It isn’t a PR race (it definitely wasn’t for me) but that isn’t the reason to choose this marathon. The views are worth it. I have gone back to this location to run the trails again and still enjoy it.В 

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Jul 22

20 Miles is Worse than 26.2 by RJ

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Occasionally someone will mention that they’ve seen me out running and ask if I’m training for something. When I tell them I run and train for marathons the conversation generally moves toward how awful or difficult or boring or impossible running 26.2 miles seems to them. What I can’t explain to them is that the marathon is more of a victory lap than a punishment. A victory lap for all of the hard work, dedication, time management, commitment to nutrition and regular sleep and perseverance through dark, raining, cold mornings for months and months. A victory lap for completing something that is awful and difficult and boring and sometimes seems impossible: the 20-mile long runs.

In my experience, the 20-mile long run is far more difficult than a 26.2-mile race. For while the marathon requires an extra 45 minutes to an hour (at my pace) or more of running, here’s what the 20-miler doesn’t have:

    • FamilyВ and friends cheering you on along the way or waiting for you at the finish line
    • Spectators cheering for those around you (but pretending they are cheering for you)
    • Good Samaritans holding signs that read “We don’t know each other, but I’m proud of you” at the point when you want nothing more than to quit but know you can’t. And won’t.
    • Bands/cheerleaders, even bad bands and girls half my age wearing WAY too much makeup — you know they’ll be there and you’re glad they are
    • Little kids giving high-fives to everyone they can
    • Moments that remind you how lucky you are
    • Regularly spaced aid stations
    • And if you train alone like I do, the camaraderie of others, spoken or unspoken, who are pushing themselves towards a similar goal
    • A medal, T-shirt, medical staff and general overall pampering at the finish line
    • The pride that goes along with walking (or limping if your prefer) around the rest of the day with your medal hanging around your neck for all to see

The 20-miler early on a Saturday morning is a lonely, grueling experience but it must be done. Multiple times even, depending on your particular training schedule. It’s not fun. It’s not glamorous. No one that sees you knows if you’re in mile 2 or mile 18. But it’s necessary. It’s the run when your mental toughness is put to the test. 26.2 miles will be more physically demanding due to the number of miles, but if you can mentally will yourself through your 20-milers you’ll be more than prepared for the physical challenge that awaits on race day.

Prepare for your victory lap.