Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Big 5 Marathon

I haven’t done a blog update in over year so I thought this would be a good race to shake the rust off with. Buckle up this is going to be a long one and I can't promise that it will be any good. (who am I kidding? I wrote it, of course it will be good) 

Just to bring you up to speed...  

  • Teresa and I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico 
  • I didn’t run for almost five months • I ran my first 2012 ½ marathon in an miserable 1:32:00 
  • I rebounded a bit with a 1:21:00 20K performance in Des Moines 
  • Teresa and I went to South Africa for the Big Five Marathon in June 

Alright, now you are all caught up. Sort of. 

Teresa, my niece Haley, and I flew in to Dubai for 4 days before going to South Africa for the marathon. The Dubai details are for another blog post on another day. Stay tuned...  

After flying out at 2:00 a.m. we arrived in Johannesburg South Africa 2 days before the marathon. A quick 4 hour ride in a van and we all landed at the Entabeni Game Reserve in the northern region of South Africa in the Limpopo Province. Breathe. 

Immediately upon arriving at our “camp” we rushed to our cabin, dropped off bags, and jumped on a topless Toyota Landcruiser for our first of 4 game drives. Awesome. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the reserve we were following a herd of 7 elephants and then ended nearly face to face with them. 30 minutes later we are tracking and watching 6 lions chill out, roar, move, and then chill out some more. We missed the ever elusive giraffes – but we would have our day. Those buggers are sneaky. I underestimated their sneakiness. 

Next day we didn’t do a game drive per say, but we did do a route inspection. Back in the topless Toyota and drive the 26 miles (or as every other person there said, 42.2 kilometers) of the route. I wish we hadn’t. When it takes 2 ½ hours to drive a marathon course you kind of know you are in for a long marathon day.  A very long day. 

Hurry up and talk about the race Chris. 

By the time race morning came along I was already tuckered out from the travel and rides in the topless Toyota. But Feldo always told me not to make excuses and saddle up for the day. 

The Start. 

The start sucks. I don’t have a more articulate way of describing the first 4 miles. Out of the gate we ran on sand / dirt roads and were running slightly downhill. That didn’t last. The sand did but the downhill was gone. We were greeted with 777 feet of elevation gain in the first 4 miles. Sweet. Thank goodness it was windy too so that I couldn't run too fast. 50+ Wildebeests ran across the course around mile 3.5 which was cool because I could take a quick break. 

The good news is that we were on downhill ground for the next 2 miles or so. At this point we are on the top of Mount Entabeni in a cool prairie / valley section. Very pretty. It was cool because as high as we were (about 5,000 feet) the winds really picked up and made running in the sand less than easy. I didn’t come all this way to have an easy race right? (I kind of did…oops) At this point I was still feeling pretty good and thought I might rule this course. 

I was running with the 3rd place dude and even though he was a faster, younger, stronger, better looking runner than me – it was better than being out there by myself. The pack was strung out by mile 3 pretty good. 

The Down. 

Usually I enjoy a good downhill to let the dogs rest but this was a real doozie. In mile 7 we descended 765 feet and the only paved section of the day. This was way harder than I thought. I only ran an 8:18 mile on a paved downhill section. But we had the breaks on to stop us from dying. It was crazy steep. The sad part was that it wasn’t really registering that we had to run back up this beast. Yeah! 

The Flatish 

The next 10K was at the bottom of the mountain in a really sandy section that was probably the most scenic. I say probably because my head was down looking at my feet the whole time. Somewhere in this section #3 broke away from me and I was in lone 4th. It was fine with me because I could run my own pace and try to get my legs back a bit. I was still feeling ok – but the uphill was looming. 

The Up. 

On paper that hill doesn’t look bad. In person it is extremely intimidating. Long, steep, no reprieve. This hill was just under 2 miles long (1.8) and gained 1,147 feet. Ugh. Right at the foot of the hill 2 dudes passed me dropping me to 6th. No worries…I rule hills. I had visions of awesomeness and tearing up this hill. Chris Brooks from Albuquerque New Mexico was going to show is skill. And I did. For about 150 meters I destroyed the hill. And then it destroyed me. 30 minutes later I reached the top. A broken middle-aged New Mexican. 

The reward? “Hey buddy, congrats you are at the half way point.” “Only 21 kilometers to go!” Son of a B%$!

Ok, sorry it took me 888 words to get to half way point. Hang in there readers, I’m gonna wrap this gem up soon. 

The Finish 

I was done. All I could do was “jog” at a 12:00 clip. I didn’t even know that it was possible to actually still be jogging at that pace. It is. And it was painful too. So I had that going for me.  

I kept praying for some Lion or Water Buffalo to find me delicious looking and eat me. Cool ending to the story I think. Sadly the Lions and Water Buffaloes had high level Lion and Buffalo meetings that day and I wasn’t on the agenda. So I just kept moving. 

Somehow I caught the guy in 5th place and hung on to 5th until 5K to go. When the German passed me for 5th it took the tiny piece of desire, motivation, and spirit I had left. Farewell German. Then a Venezuelan dude passed me and an Australian. Apparently it was United Nations day to pass me.  But I just kept moving. I ended up in 8th and there was quite a gap after the top 10. 

The End End 

This was the 2nd hardest marathon I have ever done (Pikes Peak 1st) but it was close. Mentally this race was a real test. I just kept moving and kept praying for Lions. Thank goodness not all my prayers have been answered. Teresa did great and had a much better day than I did. She could even walk the next day while I was limping around and crying. This race may have beat me – but I beat 192 other participants. Why did they all look so much better than me after the race? 

Until the next race.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mardi Gras Half Marathon

First race of the year is done.  I can't say much about it other than it's done and time to move on to the next one.  1:24:41

Race details from Garmin are here Mardi Gras Half Marathon by brookch at Garmin Connect - Details

I have big hopes for this year and I guess this is a reasonable start.  Here are a couple of fun facts about the race.

1.  First 5 miles in 31:43
2.  Last 5 miles in 32:44
3.  First 20K in 1:20:16 - the exact time I ran the Dam 2 Dam 20K in last year.
4.  Missed my half marathon PR by 12 seconds
5.  Missed placing in my age group by 1 minute
6.  Got called out at the starting line by some jerk-off for wearing last years Brooks racing get up

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog Stats - I'm big in France

No running today - or the rest of the next two weeks.  I needed something to write about so I looked into the traffic on my blog.  I gotta tell you, I was really surprised how much traffic my little nerd page gets.  Yeah me!

Turns out I'm a big hit in France.  People from France have landed on my blog 476 times.  Pretty cool.  Canada and Brazil are neck and neck at 174 to 177.  Go Canada!  I even have peeps in Russia.  привет!

My most popular post by a land-slide is the titled MONDAY.  It was a post about my Pig getting out.  Who knew that would be the big winner?

Probably the most interesting piece though is how people are finding my page.  Imagine my surprise when the term "midgetville" made the top 10 list.  Yeah that's right - that means that there people out there searching for midgetville on Google...and found me.  I bet they didn't expect to end up on a running blog.  I'm a little scared about that one...

5 people have read my blog on their Playstation 3s, and 2 people have read it on their Playstation Portables.  I don't even know what those are.

The picture below is this week's info as of yesterday.  Rich, are you the guy still using Unix out there?

Alright runners, that's about it for tonight.  It is Snoop's birthday today - and Curtis'.  Happy birthday Snoop and Curtis!

Later dudes!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dallas Marathon take 2

First let me start by sharing that all four of us got PRs in Dallas!  Holla!  Matt was 30 minutes faster, Tag was 12 minutes faster, Jake was 7 minutes faster, and I beat my previous best by a bit over 3 minutes.  Fantastic.  It was nice for 4 dudes from Iowa to roll into Texas and set personal marks.  

With that said, no one got their goal for the day - too bad.

Jake and Matt ran most of the race together.  Jake missed his goal by a measly 4 seconds - I will tell you that he has handled this near miss with maturity well beyond his years.  Great job Jake!  Soon 3:10:00 will be a distant memory and you will be rolling sub-3.  Guaranteed.  

Matt was a machine and rocked out a 3:13:00 using the 10-mile-a-week plan.  He had an amazing result - imagine what will happen for his third marathon?

Tag continues to get faster setting PRs every time he lines up to race.  Like many of us, Tag got caught on the final hills but was able to push through them and finish strong.

And then there is me   (I know, we finally get to talk about someone interesting) - anywho,  my plan coming into this race was to get below 2:55:00.  In the weeks leading up to the race I began to lose my confidence in my ability to get it done.  I don't think I had a single good run in the last three weeks of training.  I hate the taper - it doesn't work well for me.

By race morning those pesky voices in my head were already up and at it.  "C'mon Chris, you don't really think you can do it?" "just go for a PR, fight for 2:55:00 another day"...

Even though I wasn't brimming with confidence, I decided to go for it anyway.  

The start was really fast - or that's how I ran it anyway.

Miles 6-9 were uphill.  Nothing too steep or crazy, but they did a good job of keeping the pace in check.  Mile 11 was all downhill and very fast.  Mile 11 was my fastest and was the only mile below 6:30 okay, just barely - 6:29.

By the halfway point I was ahead of pace coming in at 1:26:34, about a minute ahead of goal. This was not necessarily the best plan for me.  I was averaging 6:36 pace which made me nervous.  Odds were that I couldn't hold that

I decided to keep pushing and see what happened.  The front side of the lake was into the wind - the wind wasn't too bad - maybe 12 mph.  I was able to stick with a group of 5 guys and we shared the duties pulling in the wind.  Not sure if my 5'9" helped the others when I was out front.

On the back side of the lake the wind was at our back and our group started to string out. I hung on as long as I could.  By mile 20 I was fading a bit - but I still had 6:38 pace with 10K to go.  No problem, right?

Problem is, we had to go back up the hills that we went down at mile 11.  Miles 20-22.5 were all uphill.  Again it wasn't brutally steep but they came at a bad time both mentally and physically.  My slowest mile was mile 21 at 7:14.  I tried to get my pace back after 21 but I couldn't get the legs back quickly enough.  I went negative splits 21-26 but they just weren't negative enough.  My last 5K was sub 6:50 pace - too little too late.  There was no one around until 1.5 miles to go when we reconnected with the half marathon folks.
Team Dallas - "We Run This Town"

Side note - I really enjoyed the half marathon people running 9 wide, talking on cellular telephones, stopping for no reason right in front of me, wearing their stupid 5 fingered shoes, and making me weave through them like Barry Sanders.  It wasn't that bad, the timing was bad though.  Tired legs + tired mind + lack of self awareness half marathoners = crabby Chris.  

The finish was odd.  It wasn't well marked but it came sooner than I thought it would.  And as you probably guessed by now (or because you already saw my results) I finished 93 seconds off of my goal.

"Just Shy" again
2:56:32 - a new PR and 49th overall.  In the spirit of "just shy", I missed being the top Iowa finisher by 9 seconds, I missed top 10 in my age group (good enough for an award) by one spot, and I missed beating Wisham's mark for 2010 by 61 seconds.

It's all good.  Now I know 2:54:59 is possible for me...

I had great time and a great weekend.  Tag, Matt, Jake and I spent 4 days together without altercations.  Thanks to my sister Teresa for being an amazing hostess!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Phone entry

This is my first entry from my iPhone. I can tell you that 14 words into this and I am not digging it. Too small...that's what she said.

Anyway, just 5 days out from Dallas. I hate the taper. I am ready to get this thing over with. I am also ready to be done doing this blog entry from my phone.

Be right back...

...okay, I'm back and on the computer.  

I felt like an old man squinting at the tiny screen.  Back to the taper - I went to the gym tonight and ran for 28 minutes followed by Chinese at HyVee, followed by Pumpkin Creme cookies from Trader Joes, followed by updating my blog.  nerd

Two more days of work and time for a road trip.  Reno called today and said that he may sell out.  This wouldn't be the 4th time he bailed on a trip.  If no Reno, then Jake, Tag, and I will be cruising to Dallas as the 3 amigos...with fly boy Matt meeting us down there.

I am going to do a bit of work tonight and play some Angry Birds - if I can get the phone away from Mrs Brooks :) 

Later Dudes!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

101 Posts - Dallas is coming

Welcome back - I am really just welcoming myself back to the world of blogging.  I was holding out for an epic 100th blog entry...turns out I already did my 100th entry.  This is my 101st entry.  Buzz kill.

Well runners, Dallas is less than a week away and there is nothing I can do to improve my fitness level now.  I'm pretty sure there are things I can do to mess it up though.  Any ideas?

Dec 4
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
Dec 5
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
9 Comfortable

I would really like to get my PR at Dallas.  I would really like everyone to get their PR in Dallas - they can.  Right now the weather looks good for a forecast 7 days out.  46 degrees in the morning, no rain, no wind. I hope the forecast holds up!

Marathon Route Elevation Chart


This is a new route. It looks pretty similar to past years.  The uphill start is good...should help to keep the pace under control.  Not really excited about miles 19.5 through 22.  If we can gut our way through that the last 4 miles looks like a nice downhill finish.

Dexter is on and I can't blog and track a serial killer at the same time.

Later dudes!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not just a running blog anymore

A funny thing happened at the gym today.  I pumped some iron.  I needed to start some sort of strength program...I have needed to start some sort of strength program for a while.

Pete asked me how long I have taken off from lifting.  I have kind of taken my whole life off from lifting.  So I guess almost 39 years would be the appropriate answer.  It may be a shock to some of you that I don't subscribe to a serious strength training program.  I have the upper body of an 11 year old Ethiopian boy...just hairier.  I know - gross.

Okay so what did I do?  Ran for 24 minutes at a pretty easy pace with Curtis.  We will just call it an even 3 miles.

When I asked Feldman if it was okay that used 30 pound dumbbells for my bench, she did well to control her laughter.  So I acted like a big boy and grabbed two 35 pounders and did 3 sets of 12.  The last set was rough.

Then I did chest press (or something else) 3 sets of 12 at 50 pounds.  Holla!

I couldn't eat dinner because I can't raise my arms.  Sad. Very sad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I ran a lot more miles than I thought I would this weekend.  12 on Saturday & 20 today (Sunday)...adds up to 61.45 miles for the week.

Probably not the best idea for the week.  That was too many miles too close to Pikes Peak.  But, everything feels pretty good, just dead legs.

BTW - looks like I am going to do Dallas.

Weekly totals below

Count:6 Activities
Distance:61.45 mi
Time:07:35:42 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:741 ft
Avg Speed:8.1 mph
Calories:6,208 C

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tempo Attempt

Well, I tried to run a tempo effort today.  It didn't really go according to plan.

The plan was to run a 3 mile easy warm up / 3 miles at sub-6:20 pace / 3 mile easy cool down.

I don't think I got any of it right.  I ran the first three miles not so easy and then gutted it out through one tempo mile at 6:20 pace.  It was clear I couldn't go back to back, so I decided to run another easy mile, and then another tempo...and so on all the way to nine miles.

But I messed it up again.  My "easy" mile came in at 7:10 and I barely survived a 6:17 sixth mile.  That pretty much did me in, so I walked a mile and went home.  The story of my running career - slow miles too fast - fast miles too slow.      "It takes confidence to run slow, when your legs feel fast."

My splits are below...


The legs are still a flat.  I have almost no speed.  Looks like long slow runs are on the docket for me for a while.

I still want to get to 50 miles this week... 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another try at animation

Well, yesterday was fun so I thought I would animate my blog entry again. This time it is actually about today's run. Hope you enjoy!  FYI - the other Robot is Curtis.  Mean little robot...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I was trying a way to become a bigger nerd.  I think I found it.  I animated my blog.

Check it out here BLOG VIDEO

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I was reading up on post marathon recovery.  Looks like I did nothing right.  Here is what the recovery plan called for...

Recovery begins the minute you step into the finishing chute. Keep moving and start drinking, preferably a replacement drink such as Gatorade. Research suggests that refueling works best if done immediately after exercise, when the body is eager to absorb energy. As soon as your stomach can tolerate food, start eating. Most marathons provide bananas, yogurt and other easily digested high-carbohydrate foods. These are good for you. A long walk to your car or hotel room won’t hurt you. After that, get off your feet and rest an hour or two.

Here is what I did...

Got done running, stood around for 5 hours in the sun, ate a piece of pizza, had a beer or two,  walked 2 miles uphill, ran 2 miles downhill, took a 5 minute nap, ate dinner, next day hiked a small trail and hung out at airports.

No wonder I am still not back to 80%.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rough Rough Twelve

This might take longer than I thought.  Recovery, that is.  Today was my first run post Pike Peak, and it was brutal.

Feldman, C-Man, Teresa, J3 and I went for a run close to the Capital Pursuit route.  The pace was at least 30 seconds per mile slower that usual but felt 30% harder than normal. Luckily for me, J3 ran a 1/2 marathon yesterday and Feldman raced a 5K yesterday.  Curtis was ready to roll though so we had to hold him back a bit.

My goal was to get back to full on training next Monday.  That may have to wait...

After the run we went to Baby Boomers for breakfast and some of their world famous speedy service.  By speedy I mean, we walked in around 9:30 and the food was on the table at 10:30.  Good thing we had no other plans.