Recap of 15k Champs: The good, the bad, and the ugly!

In our “Welcome to Our Blog” Steph talked about some of the reasons for us starting this website. “We have created this website to open a window into our lives as a married professional running couple and dare to entertain those who follow our journey. We will share our triumphs and heartaches in competing, tell tales of our journeys across the globe all while trying to capture the glamorous and not so glamorous parts of our routine.”

Well, this weekend’s USA 15k Championships in Jacksonville, FL produced a little of everything:

15k champsMarried Professional Running Couple: Steph and I took advantage of being a married couple as this race had an unofficial married couple competition put together by the elite coordinator Richard Clark Fannin (more on him later). The first of its kind as far as I know. So any race directors out there thinking of something similar contact us. 1:34:41 for a combined 30k of running was Steph and I’s winning time (5:04 pace between us). Nice to know we are tough to beat as a couple, at least in a foot race.

Triumphs: This week the triumph belongs to Steph. A great race for her finishing 3rd-50:09 in the women’s race. She has her eyes set on a big performance at the Boston Marathon April 15 and thus was a little apprehensive about how her body would respond in the middle of heavy training. The days leading up to the race for Steph were a bit of a roller coaster, which has happened to her before. A lot of things to throw into the mix, coming down from elevation, travel, and the before mention marathon training. Keep in mind the race was on a Sat. morning. A recap of what I heard from Steph:
-Wed afternoon after run “I felt good at the end of my run, started running fast the last mile dipped under 7:20 (woohoo!), maybe there is something to this coming down from altitude.”
-Thur afternoon after a day of travel and no coffee “That run was a death march, I don’t think I ran a single mile under 8:30, I’m so tired, my legs feel dead!”no coffee no workee

-Fri AM after a huge night of sleep and a short run “I still feel bad, (insert curse word)”
-Fri PM 2nd easy run “Felt bad, strides helped a little, had to force my legs to get going”
-Sat post race “I felt so strong Ben, it was awesome, I went out controlled and then around halfway I decide to just go after the two leaders. Pretty sure Janet (race winner) looked back at one point and looked a little surprised to see me coming.”
Oh the fun stuff I get to hear up to her races. So the triumphs for Steph comes in the fact that she didn’t let how bad she was feeling affect her mind going into the race. She knew deep down she was training well and didn’t take herself out of the race mentally before it began.

crap sandwich

Crap sandwich in Richard Fannin’s words is when you are put in a tough situation where you’re not going to make everyone happy. There is no good way to eat a crap sandwich. You just have to eat it fast and get it over with!

Heartaches: The minor heartache of the day belonged to me and it was more of a stomach ache. After a great 1st four miles, passing in 18:44 with the leaders, I developed a pesky stomach cramp. It forced me to step off the gas a bit and try to regroup. Lucky for me fellow Team USA AZ teammate and friend Scott Smith came by with a light touch on the back and urged me to come with him. I kept close to him the rest of the way hanging on to finish in 44:32 3 seconds back of Scott’s 44:29. This is significant and leads to the real heartbreak of the day. The 15k Champs has a team competition. Three runner teams in a combined time format. So in essence a 45k team time, no way a tie could happen right? Well the men’s race ended up deadlocked between Team USA Arizona Scott 44:29, myself 44:32, Matt Llano 45:14 and ASTF (Amatuer Sport of Track & Field) 44:27, 44:43, 45:05. Both given a total time of 2:14:15 (4:48 avg mile for those keeping track) The race committee was stuck with what Richard Fannin would call a Crap sandwich (he may have used a different word) as they had no tie breaker procedure in place. The timer of the event said that they can look at times to the hundreth and so they did and ASTF ended up 0.28 seconds ahead of us. I know in theory a chip time can be accurate to the hundredth of the second but anyone that has run a few road races knows that they can’t always be relied on, for example the 10th place finisher of the 15k, Donn Cabral was left out the results altogether because his chip did not work*(Donn Cabral was added to the official USATF results but he still did not appear in the results the local paper printed the next day). So to lose a tie breaker based off chip time to the nearest hundredth is sure tough to swallow. Especially when it was shown that the chip time isn’t always 100% accurate. I guess it is a lesson learned for the race committee, something to fix for next time around, and unfortunately a hit to the wallet to the tune of $1000 per team member.

Oh, and did I mention that the same exact thing happened in the womens race! I am not making this stuff up. Team USA AZ women and Boulder Running Company tied, with Boulder Running Company being declared the winner! What are the chances?

Glamorous and not so Glamorous
Many times the not so glamorous part comes in the travel. Things like 3:30am wake ups, multiple flights, shuttle rides, all while lugging around half the public transitkitchen in a big roller bag. Finding a safe restaurant in a new city for Steph can prove to be very difficult so we pack a hot plate, pots, utensils, and a hearty stash of snacks. Waking up early the day after a race to travel is always a bit tough, but many of the glamorous perks of our job make up for it. This varies race to race, but when in Jacksonville it is usually the aforementioned Richard Fannin that will make sure you get what you need. He picked us up from the airport personally, took us to a Gluten Free bakery and a grocery store so Steph could stock up for the weekend. He alsogf bakery jacksonville plans a huge post race party for all the elites, that this year included fried alligator, a private bar rented out topped off with street performers playing with fire.

In case you haven’t heard we’ll be in NYC Thursday at 6:15 putting on a running drills clinic, Q & A, and giving away Picky Bars to all those attending! So bundle up, grab a friend and join us at Central Park lawn.





Taking the Gloves Off

It’s that time of year when the sun is finally peering into your bedroom window at an hour you wish you could stay tucked under the covers just a few more minutes. You’re becoming bold enough to adorn yourself with just one layer and possibly leave the gloves at home? Guys are shaving off their winter beards and the ladies are so thankful! For us this subtle change in temperature and more daylight signifies the start of spring road racing season. We have spent the last 4 weeks training up in Flagstaff. We generally like to cycle our training blocks between being at altitude (at home) and somewhere at sea level. The longest I’ve stayed in Flagstaff for one period is around 9 weeks and that’s pushing the envelope. The body can become stale and from experience over trained if spent at high elevation too long. Why is this? Part is due to the fact that your body burns more energy at altitude leading to faster metabolism, serious carbohydrate cravings and generally making you fitter. If managed properly this can be of great benefit to your training and fitness level. On the converse altitude can negatively affect sleep, reduce iron levels and make you wish you didn’t live in a 2 story home. You wouldn’t believe how walking up a flight of stairs can seriously make you rethink how fit you are. With this trial and error we have found a 4-6 week block up high works well for us. During our stints at home, our days are repetitive as the Lumineer’s say “Hey Ho”.

Our alarm goes off each morning between 6:43 and 7:17 depending on whether it’s an easy run or workout. The odd time belongs to the idiosyncrasy of Ben and his habit of never setting an alarm at a normal time. I have never understood this but I will tell you it has grown on me and I find it gives us a funny and joyful approach to the monotony of setting alarms. In the midst of marathon training each day becomes a guessing game of how I will feel once that foot first hits the ground. Will I be a strong 29 year old durable athlete or will the 5 sets of back squats, 17 miles and 3 way lunges cause me to crawl out of bed resembling an 85 year old with arthritis? Coffee is brewing within 4 minutes of getting up as I lather my rice cakes with a combo of almond/peanut butter and jelly. I flip on the Today show in my attempt to keep up with “current events” and power on my computer. The thrill of standing on the starting line once again is what gets me out of bed this morning when all my muscles want me to do is stay put. We are headed to Jacksonville, FL this weekend for the US 15k Champ. Ben breaks down the 15k in his own words:

The thing about the 15k is you’ve got 5k/10k(steeplechasers) track runners that convince themselves it’s not that long of a race coupled with marathoners who know they are so strong they will try to grind the kick out of their competitors. I look forward to the US Champs road races because they bring the spectrum of track athletes and road warriors and puts them on level playing fields.”

Anything can happen and that’s the beauty and thrill of putting on the jersey and peering down the starting line hoping, doubting, believing and accepting the pain that is inevitable. If you’d like more info on the race check out for possible live coverage (no promises)! We’ll be rocking the bright orange and red Adidas uniforms!

-Steph & Ben



Welcome to our blog!

welcome blog photoBlogs are all the rage right? Seriously though people love reading about what others are doing as it offers a glimpse into a life a little less ordinary than the one we are living. We have created this website to open a window into our lives as a married professional running couple and dare to entertain those who follow our journey. We will share our triumphs and heartaches in competing, tell tales of our journeys across the globe all while trying to capture the glamorous and not so glamorous parts of our routine. Ben will share his insight of the sport through his blogs while Steph hopes to bring awareness to the gluten free community with her experience as a Celiac athlete. We hope you find something you enjoy at our website and we can entertain you while answering your questions and blogging on topics that you’re really interested in!

-Ben & Steph


10 Things from our Honeymoon in South Africa

1. South Africa is a long way away. Approximately half way around the world if you stared at a map. Starting at LAX on a Thursday night got us to Johannesburg on a Sat morning.

2. After a really long travel and new currency in hand it is easy to make a mistake. After our first night stay at a great BNB I left a tip of about $25 thinking I was leaving around $2. Just before check out I took a 10R (just under $2USD) soda from the room and gave the staff a 200R note thinking I had given her a 20R “keep the change” I said. A few miles down the road I realized what I had done, making the very gracious thank you from the staff make more sense. Oh well, the service was great at the place so no worries on the big tip.

3. Wear sunscreen in South Africa!

4. Driving on the left side of the road is so overrated. I thought it was fun and always kept me alert. The left side of the road was not the issue. A four lane highway with a speed limit of almost 80 mph with no center divide was what made things interesting.

5. December is a great time to visit South Africa and leave Flagstaff behind. December means summer in South Africa, so on December 21 when USA was having the shortest day of the year we were having our longest.

6. There is a vast amount of coastline in around Cape Town. Combine the cliffs of Northern California with the sand of Southern California and you get Cape Town. Aside from the water being a bit cold the beaches are amazing.

7. Steph had one of the better lines of the honeymoon. The day after a hike up to the top of Lions Head (about 2 hours round trip from our hotel) Steph said “I am more sore than I was after Honolulu” (her recent marathon run only a few weeks earlier). Goes to show you what a little up and down can do to the legs. (or how well Steph recovers!)

8. Eating out is very affordable, which is a very good thing when on a honeymoon. We had one lunch overlooking Kruger National Park in which we ordered a venison pot pie (for me), a pizza (for me), and a full plate of potatoes, bacon, and some other stuff (for Steph). Add to that a bottle of Champagne and our total bill was still under $40. Goes to show the big tip early in the trip did not hurt us too much.

9. Having a 6 hour layover is not always bad. Especially when it is London during almost 30 hours of travel. Steph had never been to London, luckily I had, so after 11 hour flight from Johannesburg, I played tour guide, we got on the underground headed into the city and got busy walking. In around two hours we saw many of the major sites, London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Square, and all the other great building along the way, too many to count. Then a quick stop at Chipotle. I know how dare we eat there with all the great restaurants around, well it is safe for Steph’s food allergies and we were running out of time. The fresh air and a long walk gave us the boost we needed to head back to LHR for another 11 hour flight to SFO.

10. Put visiting South Africa on your bucket list. If you need any help planning the trip send us a message! (