Dec 29, 2009

Weekend Update

I'm getting behind in my blogging and blog reading. I'll just chalk that up to the holiday season and busy-ness that goes along with it. Trying to get caught up now.

Last week ended up being a decent week of running, better than I had expected. Fifty-two total miles after I added a 15 miler on Wednesday, 9 miles of speedwork on Thursday and 8 miles on Saturday. Since we travelled towards the end of the week I thought my mileage would taper off a bit more but my wife and I were able to get out in warm Las Vegas for some running. We went to Sunset Park. For those unfamiliar it is a big park with a pond, ball fields, playground, swimming pool, frisbee golf course and a 1 mile packed dirt running path. Very nice. We got out there Saturday and Sunday morning with my wife doing 5 on Saturday, the furthest she's run in decades.

This week won't be quite as high mileage-wise for several reasons. First, the kids are home from school and I can't just leave them home and head out. Second, after 3 50 mile weeks in a row I should have a low mileage week. Finally I've got a nasty cold since last night. Sinus headache, sneezing, runny nose and sore throat. I think it'll just last a few days.

Looks like I'll top 200 miles this month for the first time in a couple years which coincides with me taking up triathloning. So I don't mind if the mileage is low when I'm swimming and biking too. I'll update final month and year totals after the new year.

Be safe!

All in: Wednesday 15.01 at 8:30
Thursday 9 at 7:58 with 5 mile repeats from 6:26 to 6:06
Saturday 8 at 7:27
Sunday 6 at 7:38

Dec 21, 2009

More Bells



Okay, I promise this won't become a woodworking blog but just wanted to show off a few more bells that I've made. These are for my sisters and are about 3 inches in height versus the 6-7 inch one I made for my wife. I'll put a little hangar thing on these so they can be used as ornaments. I only have four sisters so likely my wife will be getting one of these too. The white bells are Corian, the counter top material while the handles are various woods.

Okay, back to running. Had a decent week last week, getting in about 53 miles in 4 runs. Fortunately not all of it was on treadmills as Saturday morning was about 20 degrees. Since my son had a basketball game I couldn't run with my normal group and got out alone at 6:30 AM. A lot earlier than I'm used to! This week I'm hoping to get close to 50 miles but since we'll be traveling for Christmas and the kids will be out of school starting Wednesday, it might be difficult. Started out right though as I got off the treadmill less than an hour ago after 20 miles and almost 3 hours. My entry in my training log was "Ugh". Unfortunately I foresee a lot more of that in the future.

All in: Wednesday 13.19 at 8:50
Thursday 8 at 7:58 (speedwork with 4 mile repeats in the 6:20's)
Saturday 13.67 at 8:52 (honestly each mile felt about 20 seconds faster per mile)
Monday (today) 20.06 at 8:49

Dec 14, 2009

Another Hobby

My other hobby (is running a hobby? Maybe more of an obsession or passion?) is woodworking. I haven't done too much of it in the last year but I enjoy it when I do. I always make my wife two things for Christmas. One is a nativity scene and the other is something from the stump of our Christmas tree from the previous year. This year I decided to make her a bell. What do you think? I'm no artisan but I'm happy with how it turned out. The nativity scene might be a last minute thing though...
Running and woodworking have something in common and that is patience. You just can't be in a hurry to run 10, 12 or more miles and you have to slowly shape the wood and fit it together. Any big mistakes on measuring or cutting and you have to start all over again. Unfortunately in both arenas I am in all too much of a hurry to get things done. I think one day I'll learn the lesson I'm trying to teach myself.

I found some treadmills a the club that don't have to be reset after 60 minutes. So my big motivation today was to put up a big number on the display, at least 18 miles. Unfortunately I found out that they do reset at 100 minutes. D'oh. So the only big number I put up was just over 11 miles and then I had to start over again.

All in: 18.35 at 8:43

Dec 12, 2009

Another Title Deficient Post

Two things struck me as I sat down at the computer at 6:30 this morning. The first was that there is only 28 days until my next marathon. How did this happen? Can I really do 12 of those things next year? With the holidays in there I think the time will go fast before I toe the line again. I better get ready.

The second thing was that I was happy to see that it was 7 degrees out. 7 degrees = happy. I guess it's all relative and when you are expecting 0 degrees 7 turns out to be a blessing. I mean, I had done 12 degrees last week so how much worse could 7 be? Didn't really matter that the wind chill was below zero because, heck, I'd be going with the wind at least half the time. Zero just seems a lot worse somehow. I know it's coming, and I'll probably get out and run in it, but it just seems a lot worse.

I was planning on 12-13 but the group I was running with did 8. Since I ran to and from the running store where we met up that put me closer to 14 for the day and that put me at 50.01 for the whole week. Not a huge achievement, I've been there before and will be there again but not bad for 4 runs either. The pace was a little slow today as it is hard to run when you are slipping on packed snow, trudging through an unshoveled path or dodging large lumps thrown up onto the sidewalk by the snowplow.

I was supposed to do speedwork on Thursday. Wasn't really up for that. I could tell my legs were tired from the day before so I decided to do a tempo run instead. Aaaaactually it was too slow to really be termed a tempo run so it was kind of a marathon paced run. A short marathon paced run. After a two mile warm up I finished with 5 miles at 7:13. Not bad, especially considering that my HR was lower than the first five miles of MP runs that I was doing for the Marine Corps and Myrtle Beach marathons. My legs were tired though so I didn't run anymore than that.

All in: Thursday 7 at 7:40
Saturday 13.87 at 8:28

Dec 9, 2009

(Don't) Let It Snow

Ugh, the snow is here and I think it's going to stay. It came down all night and I awoke to a nice drift on the driveway to shovel. I must admit that ever since I lived in the warm-weather city of Tokyo that I am a weather-wimp. Minnesota is not a good place for me to live. But here I am and now I have to make the best of it which, more times than not, means the treadmill. Especially on days like today when it is snowing, blowing 30 mph gusts and has temperatures in the single digits.

So after relocating the snow from my driveway to our lawn and unstucking my wife's car from the driveway, a process that took 90 minutes by the way, I headed to the health club to run. I got to come up with a way to count the shoveling as a workout. Like say, each shovel throw equals a step and they all add up to miles somehow. Too bad Mr. Garmin won't count shovel loads for me. Anyway, I started out on the treadmill at a nice and easy 8:57 pace and didn't expect it to feel as good as it did. I sped up and still felt good. And then I did it again. I was feeling so good that I decided to turn it into somewhat of a progression run with each mile faster than the last. I ended up with the last one at 7:35 and the whole run at an 8:11 average. Not incredibly fast overall but at least the last few were at a decent pace and with a good amount of miles too.

Monday, which might have been one of the last outside runs of the year, was 17.14 miles. Usually my long runs are a little slower than I ran but I wanted to get out of the cold and wind so the pace was a little faster.

Okay, I'll try to stop complaining about the weather so much but don't count on it.

All in: Today 12 at 8:11
Monday: 17.14 at 8:32

Dec 5, 2009

Week In Review

What a good week of running it has been. I did have one bad day but overall it has been good so I'm focusing on that. It all started off with me officially signing up for the Mississippi Blues marathon on Monday. Glad to get that on the schedule so I can firm up my training plan. After that I did about 16.5 miles at a casual pace.

Tuesday was some weightlifting and stretching; which, by the way, I'm crediting with getting rid of my lingering upper hamstring/lower buttocks pain. It never really slowed my running (I don't think anyway) but it was a pain. I rarely feel it at all these days.

Tuesday I got in an odd run because it was 12 nonstop miles. I ran outside but traffic, shoelaces, stoplights, nothing stopped me. I can't remember when or if I've ever been able to do that before. Usually I'll try to stop to catch my breath or just because I'm lazy or pain averse but after going a few miles with good breaks on the traffic lights I set a goal in my head and met it. On top of that was that I originally set out for only 10 miles.

Thursday's run was the bad day. Since it has suddenly turned cold and I didn't want to run outside I went to the health club to hit the treadmills for some speedwork. Unfortunately my left knee decided to give me some excuses not to run. Earlier in the week it was a little sore but loosened up nicely after a little running. After I warmed up for two miles it really didn't like the change of pace to a 6:27 mile. I was a bit disappointed in that but still wanted to get some work in so I switched to half mile repeats in 3:11, 3:11 and 3:06. In total I got in 6 miles but was a bit concerned. One minor positive is that I felt like I wimped out after "only" getting 6 miles in.

Friday was more lifting and stretching.

Then today I ran with my running group and...no knee pain! I don't know where it went but I didn't even have to warm up into the run, it was gone from the beginning. Maybe the icing and pain killers are just what the doctors ordered. So we did 10 miles at just over 8 minutes per mile and it felt very easy. Nice run all the way around. Of course then I came home and got Hiroo out for a few miles too. Oh, did I mention it was 12 degrees out?

All in: Monday 16.54 at 8:40 (quite windy)
Wednesday 12.02 at 8:47
Thursday 6.02 at 7:51
Saturday 12.28 at 8:07

Nov 28, 2009

Turkey Trot Race Report

Again I'm conflicted, should you really have a race report about a turkey trot? I'm going to I guess, for my own record keeping. First I must say stay away from Taco John's for any late night snacking; gave my son and me a gurgly stomach all week. Your experiences may vary.

We flew to the Black Hills of South Dakota to spend the holiday with my family. Had beautiful weather there all week, upper 50's to 60's. Very nice. Race morning was chilly but beautiful nonetheless. As we waited around at the end I was in shorts, no hat or gloves and not even the slightest bit chilled, even after 45 minutes. The event was very casual. Verrrrrry casual. There was a clock but no official timing. Didn't really seem to be an official finish line either as there was a sign with a turkey on it (like the starting line), the clock at the finish and a third spot with FINISH written on the walkway. By all accounts the course was .08-.1 miles long too.

Still, I enjoyed the race as it was the first 5k I've done in quite some time. I never really respected the distance before until I moved to Tokyo. There my running club did a 5k time trial every month. I definitely grew to respect and enjoy the distance. Well, three paragraphs in and I haven't really started the race report. Here goes:

The course was mostly flat and I started out a little quick. At one point Mr. Garmin read 6:16 per mile so I slowed a little from that. I was passed by a very tall guy in yellow, like 6'5" or so. I was surprised because shorter is usually better. Kept running and settled in behind a younger person, maybe a high school cross country runner, with a funny way of kicking his heels out when he ran. The one mile point (no mile markers, just Mr. Garmin) was at a turn around, 6:34. I counted maybe 20 people in front of me. Most looked like young runners in high school or college but I didn't really pay attention. On the way back we ran into the bulk of everybody else which made the sidewalk very crowded. Heavy breather came up behind me but had a hard time passing because of the oncoming people. Eventually she did though and I was surprised to see it was a young woman. Didn't fit with the heavy breathing.

Mile two came and went at 6:34 again, quite consistent anyway. I knew my pace was 7 seconds off of 20 minute pace but I didn't want to push harder and then really blow up. In mile 3 I was passed by a couple young guys running easy and chatting. At first I was impressed that the pace was so easy for them but then I was less impressed with their effort. I mean really, run hard why don't you? But then it hit me that this was a turkey trot after all so I cut them some slack (all this occurred in my mind though). My pace for the last mile slowed to 6:49 but part of that was climbing a 12-15 foot bank by a stream and then running about half a mile on the grass. Took me back to my own high school cross country days. I felt I was keeping a decent pace and passed heavy breather. I finished strong but was confused at the finish line fiasco. Oh well, it was just a turkey trot. Official time by Mr. Garmin was 21:08 but I'm reducing that to 20:36 for an actual 5k distance. With passing some people and getting passed I figured I was in the 20-25 range of finishers.

After a minute or two of rest I headed back out on the course in reverse to find my wife. We met up about a half mile from the finish and I paced her in to a PB of just over 35 minutes. She never thinks she can do those things by I always know she can. Funny how you can have so much more confidence for other people's running. Now she's all intimidated about the 10k I'm pushing her towards.

Other good news is that I won a cherry pie that they held a drawing to give away. They had 350 pies for 800-900 runners. After that, like many of you I'm sure, was much food and a nap. Nice.

Today was a nice sunny morning but cooler, maybe 30 degrees. Got in a good distance and paced run with a group. Oh, thanks for all the well wishes about the knee. A little bit of lingering pain but it is getting to be less and less every day. Not holding me back at all.

All in: Thursday 5.3 at 7:45
Saturday 11.21 at 8:14.

Nov 24, 2009

Easy Come, Easy Go

Seems how well I was running last week was reserved for last week. I started this week off with a little bit of brand-spanking-new knee pain. Not worried because it isn't running related; it started after playing basketball with my son and some neighborhood kids Sunday afternoon. I guess running could aggravate it though but it already seems to be going away. I'm sure it is nothing to worry about.

Anyway, because of the knee pain I took yesterday off and ran a little today. I was planning on having a low mileage/rest week so at least my training schedule isn't out of whack. I did a couple mile repeats to tune up for my 5k turkey trot this Thursday. (Are turkey trots supposed to be taken so seriously?) After working way too hard to get around in 6:16 and 6:30, I called it quits. Wasn't doing much good and thought I'd be more rested if I didn't push for any more. After last week's running I was pretty confidant I could go sub 20. Now not so much. Looking forward to it anyway, haven't done a hard 5k in quite some time now.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

All in: 5.5 at 7:47 (with Hiroo)

Nov 21, 2009

Running With The Dog

Well after Monday's 16 miler I've had some real good runs this week. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the weightlifting and stretching taking affect. The recent speedwork? Could be just a good few days. And, of course, there's always the bacon.

Anyway, I already mentioned my 10 mile run on Wednesday and how that went. Thursday I ran with the family pet, Hiroo, to the local track and tied him up while I did a few mile repeats. The first one went by in 6:30; not bad, about what I figured. But the second one was feeling pretty good and I got around in 6:10. !!!??? That was a surprise. Especially since my half repeats last week were at about that pace. The last one I decided to take Hiroo and see how he'd do. Actually pretty well as he about dragged me around the track and wouldn't stop frolicking and playing with his leash. 6:12. Maybe next time I'll have him run with me the whole way.

This morning I got out with the running group again, like most recent Saturdays. We started out for 8 at about 8:00 but never really hit that pace. No, me and another guy just got going and wouldn't slow down. Don't know why. We were both wearing Garmins. We both knew we were going too fast and didn't really want/need to go that fast. Just kept going though, guess we were in a rhythm. We finished at just over 8 miles at a 7:39 pace. Kind of quick! I went home after that and added on a couple more miles with Hiroo but since they were a little slower they didn't do much for him. I need to get him back out and let him pull me on the rollerblades again.

One last note on the mile repeats. I'm planning on doing a 5k turkey trot on turkey day and was hoping to go under 20 minutes. There was a time about 18 months ago that would be a no brainer. Well, now it is somewhat of a brainer. Not sure if I can do it but I'm feeling better about it now since it requires keeping a 6:27 pace. We'll see how this week goes.

All in: Thursday 6.6 @ 7:47 (4.6 for Hiroo)
Saturday 10.6 @ 7:50.

Nov 18, 2009

What a difference a day makes (or two)

On Monday I got out for a 16 miler (okay, Mr. Garmin said 15.81 but since my goal was 15 I'm happy) which is what my long runs consist of these days and I don't mind saying it kicked my @$$. Don't know why. The first half was about 8:10's but the second half was closer to 8:40's; putting me at 8:23 for the whole thing which is okay. The real bad part was how tired and sore I felt later in the day and yesterday. I'm only a few weeks out from marathon training and already 16 miles puts me on my butt? How sad.

I did get in my lifting yesterday with some success but I was worried about running today. I just didn't want to get out and have it be a chore and not enjoyable. Maybe that's why I procrastinated an extra hour or so. Anyway, my run today turned out to be pretty good. It was only 10 so I didn't have to push those extra 6 (5.81) miles but I did it at an 8:09 pace and ran negative splits by over 30 seconds. That is especially noteworthy since the first half is significantly downhill and then uphill coming home. Not sure why I ran well but I think it has something to do with nutrition as I did eat a Baconator last night. I think bacon is the new spinach.

All in: Monday 16 (15.81) at 8:23
Wednesday 10 at 8:09

Nov 14, 2009

Return to Stretching

I'm kind of liking my new workout routine. The running is pretty much the same although I'm adding a weekly speed workout. Hopefully I can find some others to join me in that. Also I'm adding some weightlifting and...wait for it...stretching. Never really been much of a stretcher, mostly because I've always been pretty flexible anyway. Also I used the studies that say stretching lengthens ligaments, tendons and muscles and decreases their ability to spring back, therefore decreasing running speed as justification for not stretching. Now of course I'm reading about the injury prevention benefits and that the decrease in range of motion caused by inflexibility also causes a decrease in running speed. So a little bit of stretching for me. How little? Well I've read that as little as 30 seconds a day can increase your flexibility for up to six weeks. After that maybe I'll go wild and bump it up to 45 seconds a day.

The weightlifting is nice because it is such a short workout. I can get it all done in about 45 minutes which is easy compared to running for twice that long. I do have to watch myself a bit though because last Monday I pushed a little too hard and had to bag my run on Tuesday. Way too sore. Oh well, I'm gradually building it up.

Running? Oh yeah, I did a little bit of that this week too.

All in: Wednesday: 12.8 miles @ 8:20
Thursday: 6.55 @ 7:47; 4x800 in 3:12, 3:08, 3:04 and 2:58
Saturday: 10.71 @ 8:16

Nov 7, 2009

Stretching? Nah...

Well, I was going to blog a little about stretching, but like stretching itself I'll put that off to another day. Since I've had some comments on my stated goal of a marathon a month for 2010, I'll talk about that instead.

So that's my goal, to do one marathon each month. I'm not optimistic about it getting done, in fact I put the odds at maybe 50%. There are two main areas that will cause problems: a) my abilities to avoid injury and burn out and b) logistics/expense. To avoid injuries I'm just going to try to build a large aerobic base and back off when I have to. To avoid burn out: ??? As for the logistics/expense, well, I'm lucky enough to be married to a woman who worked for Northwest Airlines long enough for us to have flight benefits. Free flights! But (there's always a but) they are standby only so if I'm signed up for a marathon and there are no open flights for me to get there, I'm SOL. That definitely can help with the expense but hotels, cars and race fees will add up. As far as logistics, well, the flights are a potential problem but being gone one weekend a month could be an issue too. Won't know about that until it happens.

Right now I have the first part of the year planned out although I haven't signed up for any races yet. Here is the plan:

January: Mississippi Blues Marathon, Jackson, MS or First Light Marathon, Mobile, AL
February: Mercedes Marathon, Birmingham, AL or Last Chance For Boston, Columbus, OH
(also possiblish: Sedona Marathon, Sedona, AZ and New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon, a Rock n Roll event)
March: Little Rock Marathon, Little Rock AR (all about the bling)
April: Oklahoma City Marathon, Oklahoma City, OK
May: Green Bay Marathon, Green Bay, WI
Summer: a marathon in Alaska
Fall and Winter: ???

Any input/insight/recommendation is welcome and appreciated.

This week I seem to be recovering pretty well. In addition to my 10 mile run on Tuesday I ran the same route on Thursday only a couple minutes faster thanks to pushing the hills the last 3 miles. Remind me not to do that again. This morning I ran with a new group of people that a friend recommended to me. We met at a local running store, a group of about 10-12 with various distances and abilities. One had qualified for Boston, a few more were trying, one was training for an iron distance triathlon and a couple were just getting back into it. I did 10 as I was planning but then the woman training for the IM wanted to do 10 more minutes so another guy and I jumped in. Ended up going 11.76 and yes, we went longer than 10 minutes. Ever notice when you run with a group the pace only gets faster? People always want to keep up but nobody ever wants to be the one to fall behind so the ebbs and flows of a run end up just getting faster and faster. Good training if that's what you are looking for.

All in: Thurs 10 @ 8:04 and Sat 11.76 @ 8:04.

Nov 3, 2009

Okay, now what?

I was all set to run yesterday but when the time came, well, it wasn't there. But no problem, I just decided to do a weightlifting workout instead. That is one thing I'm going to add to my workout regimen, weights. Didn't want to overdo it yesterday, just tried out some of the machines, did some light leg work and some for the core too. That's what is getting me today, the core.

So, in addition to the weights, what am I going to do? I was all set continue the long runs, MP runs and add in some speed work but now I'm second guessing that. My goal is to do a marathon a month next year and if I'm going to accomplish that I think I'll need a bigger aerobic base. That means miles and lots of them. So I think that's what I'll do; slow it down and pound them out. I'm going to pick up a couple workouts per week too, up to five or so. Perhaps I'll even get back to my all time high weekly mileage of 70-80 miles. Well, maybe not. But I do have lots of time to build up and peak for a couple key marathons next year so I'll start back at the beginning, laying the foundation.

I started that today with a nice 10 mile run. Felt good, laboring towards the end because of the hills and wind. I guess I didn't overdo it with the weights because my legs felt good. Still not 100% recovered but it's coming. And you know what? I don't need to be recovered yet, just need to get in the miles.

All in: 10 miles at 8:14 pace.

Oct 30, 2009

Ever have trouble thinking of titles?

Another thing I remember about the marathon but forgot to write: on our ride home on the subway we sat across from a man who had run and his wife/girlfriend/partner. She was talking on the phone to someone about his time and kept calling it his "score". "It was his best score ever." "They haven't posted the official scores yet but when they do we'll let you know." That was funny enough but then he wasn't even correcting her. Isn't that odd?

A little bit of recovery running today. Isn't it odd that when I'm resting/recovering like today that I'm looking forward to running and another marathon but when I'm in training I'd rather rest? Is everyone like that? It felt good to get out though except for the fact that I ran on the windiest day of the year if not ever. My HR was way up so I guess that was telling me I'm not fully recovered yet. I'll just have to work back into it.

Don't forget the NYC marathon this Sunday. 9 AM Eastern time but the actual races don't start until 9:10 women and 9:40 men. Watch live at www.universalsports.com. I know of at least one blogger that is running. You go girl!

All in: 6.31 @ 8:13 pace.

Oct 27, 2009

2009 Marine Corps Marathon

Right to the heart of the matter, I ran 3:52:11 for the marathon. That is about what I had expected but a touch slower than I really wanted. Training went down hill the last 2-3 weeks. I'm content with my time and don't want to feel like I have to apologize for it just because I've run faster.

Now for the whole race. This is a bit long and probably not overly well written so enter at your own risk.

I was running the race with a friend (his first) and we arrived at the start just in time to use the port-a-potty, check our bags and head to the line. He hung out towards the back as I jogged up to the 3:20-3:40 corral. I was able to climb over the barrier with just a couple minutes to spare so I didn't have to spend too much time waiting around. There was a cool fly-over by a couple of these bad boys. Suddenly the cannon went off and we were moving. Well not really, it took me about 3 minutes to actually cross the starting line. Since I had decided not to really "race" the event I just tried to get into a comfortable pace. I didn't even look at my Garmin because I was afraid it would affect my pace. Then maybe a half mile in my shoe came untied. Really? Already? So off to the side it was to fix that. I had a couple early observations: 1) Why are all these slow runners and even a few walkers up here at the start of the race? It's not really a pet peeve or something that even bugs me a lot but just out of courtesy they should start within their correct corral. I may not have finished within the time of my corral but at least I was at the correct pace in the beginning. And 2) I noticed more women going potty by the roadside then I ever have before. In fact I don't ever remember seeing that before. They just pulled the part of their shorts between their legs aside and squatted a bit. Good for them but it seemed awkward. (I guess if Paula Radcliffe can do it...)

I seemed to settle in at around 8:00 minutes per mile. I knew the course had hills but they were a bit more than I had expected so I just took it real easy going up and let myself go coming down. I decided to use the latest "drink when you are thirsty" research so I bypassed a couple early waterpoints. Mistake? I don't know but I was definitely well hydrated from the previous couple days. Somewhere in the early miles we passed under a large American flag hung over the course and a few military personnel next to me pointed and said that's the only motivation they needed.

5k in 24:51. I decided I was happy that I wasn't trying to do a real fast marathon. It would have led me to do too much weaving through the crowd and work too hard on the hills. I had forgotten how crowded it was in such a big race. But I was enjoying it, lots and lots of runners around. Going up and down all the hills we caught up to and were passed by a fair number of the wheelchair racers. Usually the people with the ipods had to be tapped on the shoulder to get out of the way. I was feeling okay but had to go to the bathroom again. I always play the game of can I wait this one out? Will it go away? Should I just stop? Well, this time the question was answered for me as my shoe came untied AGAIN. So I pulled off to the side and doubleknotted it this time and got some relief.

10k in 49:57. I kept looking for the 7 mile marker expecting a large hill when I heard someone next to me ask "Have we passed 7 miles yet?" and someone said we had. I looked at my Garmin and it showed 7.5. Nice. At 8 miles I took a gel, expecting a water station soon since that was where it was supposed to be. Turns out it was closer to 9 miles. Oh well, no harm done. It started flattening out at that point and we neared our first pass of the Lincoln Memorial. I knew my family would be there so I started looking for them. They were yelling and yelling for me but I only saw them as I passed by, too late for high fives for my kids. The crowds were great through this point and offered a lot of energy and support. Saw the first of many signs saying "Your feet hurt because you are kicking butt!" Then we started to head out on an island and suddenly the crowds were gone. No shouting, cheering or cow bells. Only the constant rhythm of hundreds of footfalls to keep pace with. It was also around here that I noticed the fatigue setting in. Somewhere around mile 11-12 is definitely way too early for that. I knew I'd walk at some point but just wanted to keep running while I had the chance.

Half in 1:45:35. At the halfway point is a turn around on the island. Little did I know that we were running with a slight tailwind for the last 5-6 miles. Now a headwind, ugh. Now I was just trying to duck in behind runners as they were passing me. I decided to keep running until I saw my family again at mile 16. I was able to do that but unfortunately my family wasn't there. Evidently my son had a sudden case of needing to go to the bathroom right about that time. That was at the Lincoln Memorial again and we started our trek along the mall. We passed the Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, WWII, Korean war and of course some others that I'm missing. I distinctly remember thinking somewhere in there that I really thought I'd be more inspired when running through that portion. Someone held a sign saying "Run if you think I'm sexy." A lot of people were running so I guess she was. I stopped to walk for the first time around mile 18. Mostly my hamstrings/upper buttocks were feeling sore. Cardiovascular didn't seem like too much of a problem. Someone yelled at a couple Navy guys to get going because an Air Force guy was just ahead. "We're all on the same team" answered the man from Navy. At the end of the mall we did a turn around by the Capitol and as I passed a high school band was playing the theme to Rocky. Sounds corny but at that point in a marathon any sort of motivation is good and I got a little from that.

35k in 3:05:28. The "Your feet are hurting..." signs were getting tiresome because it felt like my butt was getting kicked. Saw several signs warning me "Don't poop your pants, self, shorts etc" What's up with that? Someone have a bad experience once? Somewhere in the last 10k the miles started flying by. Not time-wise of course by I was always further along than I though I was. I thought I was coming up to mile 20 and I was already at 21.5. Saw Death holding up a sign saying "The end is near." Mile 23 came quickly and it seemed just after mile 24 that mile 25was already there. Sign: "Toenails are over-rated."

All along the last bit I was just telling myself to keep up the effort and enjoy what I could because it would be over before I knew it. And suddenly there it was, the last uphill .2 miles to the finish. I had visions of charging up the hill like all the runners around me were doing but as soon as I started up the incline all along the back of my legs clenched. I was just trying to keep moving to avoid a full cramping breakdown. And finally I was done. It wasn't until then that I realized how thirsty I was. Maybe I should have started drinking from the very first water stops.

After we got back to the hotel my kids took enjoyment in running an ice bath for me. I could barely spend more than several seconds at a time in there and wasn't in for more than a few minutes total but it definitely helped. Not a miracle cure but more than I thought it would. The backs of my legs felt a lot better.

There it is, not much more to say. The marines run a good race but the mass of people is overwhelming at times. The finish area is long and difficult to get through. Text updates were very slow (didn't get the 30k update until after I finished) and only good for relatives following your progress from afar. The subway was incredibly packed at the end and I was in front of the big bulge. Truly though, it is a good race and I'm glad I did it.

Thanks for all the well wishes. No pity consoling comments saying I'll get it next time. I fully embrace my effort, the race and the time that it resulted in.

All in: 26.2 in 8:52 (26.56 by Mr. Garmin)

Oct 22, 2009

Ready or not...

My last run is out of the way, another dismal comparison to my Myrtle Beach fitness but I'll leave it at that and save you the details and ugly chart. The cold has neither worsened or slackened (a word?). So my plans have gone from initially starting out at about 7:25 per mile in hopes of a 3:15-3:20 marathon to hoping I can find a rhythm in the 7:45-8:00 range and try to keep this think under 3:30. Quite honestly though it might be as much as 3:45-4 hours and I'm fine with that. I just want to have a positive experience and I think I will. As long as I'm not reduced to a shuffling, crawling, incoherent mass I'll be happy.

Final preparations are now being done since we fly out early tomorrow morning. Got my new bright orange technical shirt because my wife wants to be able to spot me better. I've done a few runs in it to make sure it is comfy. Garmin and camera batteries are charged. All necessary papers and maps printed out. Last blog entry is done (well, mostly).

Best of luck to all runners and spectators this weekend. I'll be in touch with a race report next week.

All in: 3 miles at 7:56.

Oct 19, 2009

Looking Back

First off, congrats to all racers over the weekend. Marathonguide.com said it was the weekend in 2009 with the most marathons scheduled.

With every marathon I do I like to look back at my training for other marathons to assess my fitness. This one is no different and if you are reading this, you get to come along for the ride. I'm comparing my training with the Myrtle Beach marathon because that one is the closest (did it in February) and has the most similar training schedule (3-4 runs per week with one long and 2 MP runs). The key difference in training was that for MB I spent a month building up my MP runs from 5-8 miles before hitting a month of long ones. For MCM I spent that month doing speedwork and then started the long MP runs. As you can see from the chart below, I ran more miles the two months prior to taper for MCM but at a slower pace. I think that was mostly due to the slow miles (warm up, recovery, warm down) associated with the speedwork. When you look at just one month prior to taper MB is definitely better with more miles and a faster pace. In looking at long runs though MCM has the advantage with 7 runs of 17 miles or better to only 4 for MB. Finally I did a workout today that was the same that I did for the MB taper. It was 5 miles with one warm up, one a little faster, two fast and then one a little slower. This data is also on the chart. All things are quite equal except the most telling stat, avg HR. I was working quite a bit harder this time around.


What does it all mean? It means that I think my training and preparation was pretty similar to what I did for MB where I ran 3:19:54 but the cold that I have now is holding me back and causing my HR to rise. It's like I've gone back 2-3 months in training. Anyway, that's what it looks like from my point of view. Later this week, I'll share my marathon plan and prediction.
Sorry about the format of the chart. Haven't figured out how to put a decent chart into this thing yet.
All in: 5 miles at 7:46.



Oct 16, 2009

Countdown Begins

Ten days from today...Marine Corps Marathon. Early weather reports are good, low of 50, high of 67, partly cloudy. Touch on the warm side but certainly can't complain. Hopefully a tailwind all the way around. ;)

Like I said before, the Garmin is back. Big relief. They certainly were fast on the turn around. Actually, this is a reconditioned unit, not the one that I sent in. I don't mind though, it works well and holds a charge. Speaking of the Garmin, have any of you ever turned it on for the first 10 minutes of a flight? Kind of fun to watch the speed and elevation indicator go so fast. Try it sometime.

I certainly have some sort of something or other going on with me. As I go about my normal day I really don't feel any different but when I try to run (is that not normal?) my HR goes wacko at speeds it has no business going wacko over. This week I got in no run longer than 8 miles. I know I'm tapering but I still don't have a good feeling going into this marathon. Hopefully I come back around in 10 days...

Oct 14, 2009

Oct 12, 2009

Is it just me?

When the marathon is two months away I invariably wish it was just two weeks away. But now that it is only two weeks away I always wish it was back to two months away. Is it just me or is everybody like that?

I've been feeling a very mild cold in my throat and chest the past three or four days. Not really anything to affect me but I can tell it is there when I breath. So with just two weeks left before the Marine Corps marathon, I bagged the long run over the weekend. I also seem to be fighting some leg pain that isn't usual. My left heel hurts, my upper hamstrings/lower buttocks feel strained, calves are a little sore. Not sure what all this is about. It's like my shoes need to be replaced but they only have a couple hundred miles on them and I can usually get 500-600 before I replace them. So my taper has gone from two weeks to a little closer to three weeks. Oh well, hopefully that will allow me to get my legs straightened out.

Today was two warm up miles and then five at about 7:30.

All in: 7 at 7:54.

Oct 9, 2009

When is 3 miles greater than 9 miles?

First of all, catching up on a few items. This is the weekend for the Chicago marathon and I plan to run on Saturday afternoon/evening so that I'm free Sunday morning to get up and watch it. Now the question is do I get up even earlier at 3 AM to watch the World Half Marathon championships until 4 AM or so and then get a few more hours of sleep before Chicago starts. Sounds like something I would do. Also adding complications: forecast for subfreezing temps and snow tomorrow. What's up with that?

My Fedex tracking number showed me that Garmin received my yesterday at 8:10 AM. Not bad. Shouldn't take them too long to replace a battery and send it back. I've been upgraded to hopeful. Side note: when I explained to my wife the dilemma with my watch and the proximity to the marathon her first response was "Buy a new one." I declined but what a great wife.

Finally on to the question in the title. I wasn't up to running my normal MP run yesterday, 2 miles warm up with 9-10 miles at MP. So I threw in a new workout for something different. I went 10.05 miles very slowly, 9:18 pace and then 3.35 at 7:22. Throughout the run I struggled with the fact that I was kind of wimping out. I mean my normal MP workouts are 11-12 miles in under 90 minutes. How can 13.4 in about two hours be better than that? Well, it really can't but it does have this advantage: in my normal MP runs I'm done in less than 90 minutes. In this run I didn't start running fast until after 90 minutes. May not be as good but I'm consoling myself with that anyway.

All in: 13.4 in 8:48.

Oct 6, 2009

Dead Batteries

Yes, the batteries are dead. I charged it up and turned it on and it promptly turned itself off again. The Garmin of course. Aaaaaaauuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhh! IT'S LESS THAN THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON!!!!!!! I mailed it in, what else could I do. The Garmin service agent said I'd have it back in 10-14 days. I'm not so hopeful. I'm pretty much hopeless.


Maybe my batteries are somehow cosmically linked to the Garmin's batteries. Somewhere in the past three years of use my electrical system has been linked to the unit on my wrist. It's like I started myself up on my marathon paced run today and turned myself off just as quickly. Five measly miles. Didn't seem to really have it physically; maybe mentally as well. This isn't unprecedented; it usually happens once or twice in each marathon cycle. This is the first time for this marathon, I guess that isn't so bad. So I just shut it down to have a better workout next time.

Stupid Garmin...

All in: 5 miles at 7:53.

Oct 4, 2009

Marathon Season

Marathon season is in full swing. Congrats to all who have already raced and good luck to those in the future. As for me I'm still three weeks out from the Marine Corps marathon. I kind of suddenly noticed all the marathons this morning because today was the day for the Twin Cities marathon and I had friends running. Thoughts of them inspired me on my own 20 (well, almost) mile jaunt. Didn't help me go faster but helped me get through it nonetheless. Wasn't trying to go fast anyway, just getting the miles in.

As I mentioned it was 19.65 miles and I didn't realize I had a tailwind going until I made a turn after about 6 miles in. Not so bad at the time but when I made another turn at 10 miles I was faced with a headwind. Not too bad of one, just enough to be bothersome. Stopped for a gel and water at 11 miles. I've given over to taking them routinely now. What are you gonna do? Coming up on 14 miles I ran smack into the hills that stymied me a couple weeks ago. This time, not so bad. They definitely slowed me a little but also made me stronger right? I felt pretty solid the whole way, kept expecting to feel bad but it never really came around. On long runs like these I often ask myself "why can't I just be done now?" when I'm only a couple miles into them. The answer? "Because I haven't earned that yet." I can only earn the right to be done when I've finished the run. So today, coming in on that last quarter mile I was happy with my right to be done, having finished a run I could be satisfied with.

All in: 19.65 miles at 9:02.

Oct 3, 2009

Oops!

My mistake. I guess the Chicago marathon isn't until next Sunday. October 11th. I guess I get seven more days to decide if I'll get up early enough or not.

Oct 2, 2009

Chicago Marathon (not for me)

Chicago marathon is to be run on Sunday at 8 AM Eastern time; which means 7 AM for me. It is being broadcast live on universalsports.com (hopefully no technical difficulties this time). Normally this wouldn't be a problem but the deal is I have to get a long run done in the morning because the afternoon is filled up with my son's baseball games. What does this all mean? Well, getting up to run at say 5 AM to be done by 8 AM and watching the last half of the marathon. I mean you've got defending champ Evans Cheriyut, Sammy Wanjiru promising a new world record, Abderrahim Goumri and Tadese Tola. On the women's side you have Deena Kastor going for her second Chicago title. I really don't want to miss it but getting up to run by 5 AM?!? Oh bother.

Today I got up to run but it was by 11 AM so no problem. Well, no problem with the time anyway. Still problems with the running though. After two warm up miles I kicked it into marathon pace but was at a HR of 166 after only mile 3! That is way too high; I should only be up there after mile 8 or so. I had gone to a different park and was running 2.5 mile loops around a lake and to offset how bad I was running I decided to take a small break after each loop. First time around I went potty, second I took my windbreaker off, third I sipped water, fourth I talked a park ranger out of giving me a parking ticket even though my time was up. So basically I cheated my way to 10 miles at a 7:17 pace. At least I got them all in but I did stop way too much and I'm none too happy about it. But the other choice was to keep running and only do 6 miles or so. Currently not so happy with how things are shaping up.

I am happy with the Garmin again though. It seemed to perform flawlessly (aside from not showing me the numbers that I wanted to see). I had to reload all the software from the Garmin website but I think that worked well.

All in: 12 miles at 7:33 pace.

Sep 30, 2009

%@$&* Garmin!

First order of business is to congratulate my wife (not really a runner) on her third 5k last Saturday. She cut 3 minutes off her previous PB and finished in just under 36 minutes. I knew she could do it (she wasn't so sure).

Now on to me. You can tell by the title of this post that I had some technical problems with my Garmin on this run. I was about a mile down the road, driving to a regional park when I realized I forgot the thing. No problem, I just turned around and got it. I think our dog, Hiroo, was confused and distraught when I came home and then left again right away. As I headed of to the park again the thing, Garmin not dog, gave me the dreaded "Batteries Low" signal and died. What? There were still two bars on the indicator. What happened to one bar and then none? I started it up again and this time it worked for a minute or so before dying. Once again I turned it on and this time it would have no more of this funny business. It not only died but died with a bunch of gibberish on the screen and would no longer respond to my protestations. Ugh; I guess I had to run the old fashioned way, with my regular digital watch and push the lap button at every mile. How 1990's.

Luckily the park where I was running was well marked by miles and k's but since it is a 3.35 mile loop I had to do the last .35 on its own and then start over again at the beginning. Also, since I didn't have the Garmin my splits were way whack. Check it out:

8:26
8:27 (warming up)
6:44(!)
2:42 for .35; 7:43 pace
7:07
7:39(!)
6:57(!)
2:38; 7:31 pace
7:08
7:41(!)
7:05
2:38; 7:31 pace
7:16
Total at MP was 9.05 at 7:15.

Now, I wasn't really speeding up and slowing down so drastically. The park has fairly rolling hills and I think I discovered that the first mile although hilly must have a net gain of about 0. The second mile of the loop is the most uphill while the last is mostly downhill. But then again maybe my pacing was that bad. The overall pacing was spot on though.

Anyway, another 9 miles at MP. Really these workouts need to be in the 11-12 (or more) mile range and not stuck in the 9-10 mile range. I even used two gels for this run, orange-vanilla roctane at the start and the old favorite vanilla bean gu at about mile 7. Starting to get frustrated and maybe even a little worried. Oh well, I can only do what I can do and go from there.

By the way, I was on a daddy/daughter camping trip over the weekend so I didn't get a long run in. I did do 13 sluggish miles on Monday. Didn't really get into it physically until about mile 11 but by then I was gone mentally so kept it short. Two more weekends for 20 miles so not to worried on the LSD front.

All in: Monday, 13 miles at 8:56; Wednesday, 11 miles at 7:28.

Sep 25, 2009

To Gel or Not To Gel

Historically I'm not a gel user in training. I'd use them a couple times to simulate race conditions and make sure that I didn't have problems with them but most of my workouts went unfueled. Recently though I've been more gratuitous in my gel consumption. For some reason a couple weeks ago I used them before my MP workouts and had satisfactory results (8 and 9 miles at pace). Then the next week I went back to my non-usage and didn't do as well (7 and 8 miles at pace). Well, now I'm back on them, have been for a couple weeks and have been doing better having gone 10, 9, 9 and 10 miles at pace in the last two weeks. Obviously the writing is on the wall and I'm going to continue to use them but somehow it seems like, well like cheating. Maybe I'm just unable to do the workouts that I used to be able to do (aging? not enough miles?) and I need that external boost to get me through. I don't know why I can't get my mind around this one. Help me out.

So anyway, my gel-aided run on Tuesday went fairly well with 11 total miles and 9 at a 7:12 pace. In fact I did a double boost with a gel at the beginning and another after 5 miles. Today I took one before the workout again but refused to take the second one even though I had it ready. I ended up with 12 miles and 10 at 7:13 pace. The only problem is that my HR was getting so high that I took a little breather with 2 miles to go so that I knew I'd be able to complete the run. That seems a little like cheating too, no? Well if that's what it is going to take for me to get the training stimulus that I require/desire then so be it. But I may not like it...

All in: Tuesday, 11 @ 7:30 and Friday, 12 @ 7:29.

Sep 20, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I hope nobody got up and tried to watch the Berlin marathon because Universal Sports was having its problems. When they finally got around to showing the race it was tape delayed by about an hour and since I was following the race on an live commentary, it wasn't really interested. I should have mentioned that Ryan Hall was running the Philadelphia Distance Run and that it was covered live at competitor.com. At least you could have watched that and it was on at a (more) reasonable time, 7:30 AM in the East. Anyway, Haile Gebrsalassie went on to win the Berlin Marathon in a pedestrian 2:06+ and wasn't really challenged. After setting some incredible splits through 30k he slowed, likely from the heat. In other news, Ryan Hall did win the half marathon in Philly in 1:01+. This was just a tune up race for the NYC marathon next month.

As for me I was hoping not to have any technical difficulties because I had a little incident with my left knee on Friday. The incident involved rollerblades, our dog, Hiroo, and the curb. Luckily I was able to land on the grass and the bruising was just superficial so although it hurt, it didn't bother me to run. I was trying out a new route for running but familiar from biking and now I know why I don't run it; the hills toward the end are killer. Killer I say. They really put a stop to my forward motion but the run did go better than last week and I didn't do any walking.

All in: 19.43 @ 9:03 pace.

Sep 18, 2009

What to do?

This Sunday is the Berlin marathon which will be telecast at Universal Sports at about 2 AM central time. I'm thinking I'm going to have to get up to watch it. I mean it will be an epic match up between world marathon record holder Haile Gebrsalassie (2:03:59, 2008 Berlin Marathon) and the second fastest ever Duncan Kibet (2:04:27, 2009 Rotterdam Marathon). The course is very well known to be flat and fast. Will there be another world record? Gebrsalassie has already said that he thinks he can go another 30 seconds faster in the marathon and will attempt to do so this weekend. There will be a few more runners from Ethiopia and Kenya and one from Japan that will be in the lead group but expect them all to fall off the back before it gets to the end. So, sleep from 9 PM to 2 AM and watch until 4 AM and sleep for a couple more hours before I get out and do my own little 20 miler? I guess so.

As for today, 9 miles at 7:13 pace went pretty well. I was hoping for 9-10 miles at that pace but not really expecting it because I never felt like I got in the rhythm early. After the first few sluggish miles they started to tick off fairly well and I was able to get to 9 before it was getting too difficult and my HR started to soar. I'll take it and call it a good week of running.

All in: 11 miles at 7:31.

Sep 15, 2009

One Of Those Days

It seems like, for no reason, you can just have one of "those" days. They don't have to be all bad either. Sometimes it feels like you can just run forever, as fast as you want. But then just as often even running slowly feels like drudgery and nothing outside of stopping and laying down is going to make it better. Well today I had one of "those" days, but...in a good way.

I'm pretty sure it was because I was properly fueled up. Lately I've been able to run midmorning and so haven't been using any gels because I've been eating breakfast before getting out to run. Today I decided to take a gel. Gu, Just Plain flavor. I actually expected it not to be so tasty, like swallowing a wad of phlegm in my mouth. Makes me wonder why I tried it. But it was delightful. Kind of a hint of the vanilla flavor of their Vanilla bean gel but less overpowering. I think I'll continue to use it. Unless of course I switch to the Gu Roctane formula. More caffeine, more other stuff = more better.

But I digress. So I biked to the club to hit the treadmill again (in the 80's today) with no expectation. As you know I haven't been so happy with my training lately so I decided not to have a goal in mind, just run and do what I could do and receive the training stimulus from that and move on to the next day. First order of business was getting my left ankle loosened up again. Check. Then getting in the two warm up miles before I moved on to the MP portion of my workout. Check. I cranked up the speed and didn't really feel like I was feeling any better or worse than I have been lately but after a bit I adjusted to the pace and noticed my HR was fairly low. Lower than it has been recently. I felt good too. Just cruising along, watching the miles tick by. I had to make a short stop at about 8 miles because the treadmills at the club reset after 60 minutes (is this really necessary?). I got right back into it and put in 4 more miles for a total of 10 @ 7:13 pace. Quite happy with that. My HR stayed low throughout and I ended with it topping out at 166. Usually these runs bring me close to or over 170 for a bit. My average HR was 150 versus the 155 and 156 that I've been seeing lately. I hope this is not an aberration; that it's a sign that the training is taking hold and I can expect better in the future.

All in: 12 miles at 7:30.

Sep 13, 2009

Just two days ago I blogged about how motivation has been high lately. How quickly that can turn. Wasn't really looking forward to my long run today, I got up at 6:30 and I had no doubt I'd get out and do it, I wasn't procrastinating or anything, just wasn't looking forward to it. My inner voices were fighting. I got out and immediately my left ankle started bothering me.

"Yes, I don't have to run!"
"You can run, this is the same old pain in your ankle, it will loosen up."

But it wasn't loosening up like normal; and it hurt much worse than usual.

"Oh yeah, it's making you limp and change your stride. Couch here we come!"
"Give it a chance!"

So I did. Stopped, shook it out, walked a bit.

"See? It still hurts. Give it up."
"I won't. It feels a little better. Just another quarter mile or so and it'll be fine. I'll regret it later if I don't run."

Finally it started feeling better. Really this is normally just a little pain that disappears after a few seconds of easy running. Today for some reason it was worse than normal and took longer to feel better but it eventually did, thankfully.

"Fine. We'll run but it's going to be slow and I'm taking lots of breaks and I'm not going to enjoy it." (How prophetic that would be.)
"Fine."

So off we went, me and my voices. I did feel pretty good through 10 or 11 and stopped for a gel and some water and a potty break. You know this is unusual for me for long runs. Shortly after that some fatigue started to set in.

"Uh oh, not good 9 miles from home."
"See I told you to lay on the couch."

I figured I'd bounce back in a few miles and although it didn't get any worse, I never really did. I went through 17 miles at a pace of just under 9 minutes per mile. Right then and there my body decided that it wanted to be done and my brain agreed. Great decision but not much you can do about it 4 miles from home. I started the jogging/walking that is so familiar towards the end of some of my marathons.

"If you pass somebody, ask them if they have a cellphone."
"Agreed."

Some one was walking ahead so I started running again to catch up to them. They turned up a street before I could get there, D'OH! A biker appears out of nowhere but speeds away before I could yell "EXCUSEMEBUTI'MREALLYTIREDANDWANTTOGOHOMEANDDOYOUHAVEACELLPHONEICOULDBORROW?"
Finally at mile 18+ I came across two joggers that were trying to cut their run from 8 to 5 miles but didn't have a cell phone either. Ugh! I was on my own. Using my walking/jogging I made it home averaging 10-11 minutes per mile.

It was a warm and humid one out there. What's up with this Minnesota weather? Fellow blogger Jean had the same experience in a 20 mile race yesterday that I wanted to do too but couldn't since both kids had their soccer debuts. Anyway, I walked up to the door of my house and as I reached for the doorknob I heard this in my head:

"Boy am I glad to be home."

All in: 20.57 miles at 9:13 pace.

Sep 11, 2009

Bloggers Are Motivational

There are a lot of running bloggers out there. Of course anybody who is reading this doesn't need me to tell them that as they likely follow/are followed by more bloggers than I'll ever have. But all you have to do is pick one or two and then they link you up with several more and it just multiplies from there. This is motivating to me. Knowing that there are so many people out there running every day, fast and slow, always striving for more, getting better. I like that.

I'm not really having any trouble with motivation now but that still doesn't mean I'm getting the job done satisfactorily. I'm beginning to think that my standards are too high at this point in my marathon cycle. I was hoping to come off my month of speedwork in August and move right into long marathon-paced runs. What I'm finding out is that sure, the speedwork helped my speed but it really didn't do much for my stamina. So I'm really second guessing the decision to do that versus building up the marathon-paced runs from short to a decent length right now. Marine Corps is still six weeks away, four good weeks of training, eight chances for marathon paced runs. Ideally at least six will be from 10-12 miles; but at this point I wouldn't be disappointed if only four are.

As for today, 8 miles at 7:10. Not bad but not good when you consider that I took a little break after 5 miles and the last couple miles my HR was higher than I usually let it get for these runs. Oh, I did decide to run on the treadmill today. Like Lindsay, sometimes I just like to run on it even though it is nice outside.

All in, 10 miles at 7:30 pace.

Sep 8, 2009

Meh and Meh

Over the weekend we were away from home with friends. Had a great time at the lake, boating, tubing, skiing, kneeboarding and swimming but it doesn't make for the best running. But I knew it was going to happen so I built that into my training plan. So it was just an easy 11 miler, nothing special. I was tempted to turn it into an MP run for 8-9 miles but I really wasn't up for that. At about half way I looked down as I brought my arm up to see my watch and Bam! I was stuck in the middle of my back with a sharp knife. Well, that's what it felt like anyway. I jogged long enough for the only car that was around to pass me and then I stopped to try and stretch it out. Couldn't really relieve the pain, couldn't twist and certainly couldn't take a deep breath. So I started jogging on a shortcut back to the lakehome and found out that it really didn't hurt that bad. I turned around again and was able to finish out the run. Not long, not fast but finished.

Today I was hoping to get my MP run in, maybe upwards of 10 miles but once again that wasn't in the books. It was midmorning by the time I got going because I had to get the kids off on their first day of school. I went to the park and started doing laps. Just 5 miles in I was working hard, more than I should have been. Kept on going, took a couple extra water breaks but just knew I wasn't going to get all the mileage in today. I ended up with my 10 miles but unfortunately only 7 were at 7:13 pace. I don't want to look for excuses but I do try to find reasons and I think today was just to hot and humid. The temps were in the mid 70's and the humidity was about the same. Lately it has been in the low 50's when I have been running so I think that is what knocked me back. I'll try to hit it again on Friday but here is my question, do I get up at, say, 6:30 and run before school when it is cooler or do I run at the club where it is climate controlled or do I just hope for better results back at the park? The club does have the added benefit of letting me compare my current training and fitness to my training for the Myrtle Beach marathon because I had to do all my running on the treadmill for that. Hmmm, such a decision.

All in: 11 at 8:17 and 10 at 7:34.

Sep 4, 2009

Running Talk

Today I get to put a big tic mark in the Long MP run column instead of the short run column. This is only because I reached the arbitrary distance of 9 miles in MP. My pace was 7:13 which is okay but you might be able to see that I've been slowing a bit over the last few MP runs. I'm keeping a close watch on that, hopefully I can reverse the trend. Also I've increased the distance so I'd like to keep that trend up. Once again I had a terrible time trying to keep a consistent pace what with running on those "deceptive" hills. I saw numbers ranging from 6:45 to 7:33 on the Garmin. Maybe I should set it to beep if I stray from, say 7:05-7:15. It can do that can't it? For some reason I'm thinking I still won't do that but I probably should.

I remember once I was listening to Cartalk (NPR listeners will know what I'm talking about) and a caller talked about how he hadn't changed the oil in his car for several thousand miles. Click and Clack (the hosts) recommended that he never change it again, that somehow, the oil had become one with the car (don't try this at home). On my MP runs I inevitably end up thinking that if I run far enough, like 15 miles, eventually I'll become one with the pace and begin to float in this heightened state of nirvana. That my body will get in tune with what I am asking it to do, will embrace it and it will become effortless. Unfortunately I'm never able to get beyond the effort it takes to get to that mythical place and in all honesty my mind never really believes it is there anyway.

Sunday will necessarily be a shorter run as we are mini-vacationing with friends. I don't want to cut out three hours of the morning for myself and I definitely don't want to get up at 4 AM to do it on my own time. So, do I do an easy 10-12 and call it a rest day or do I insert another MP run of say 12 miles with 10 of it fast?

All in, 11 miles at 7:29 pace.

Sep 1, 2009

A Run in the Park

We were going to the Great Minnesota Get Together today so I had to get out for my run a little earlier than normal. Not so bad, just a bit before 7 AM. But since it was earlier than normal I didn't have chance to eat breakfast. So I did take a gel before the run because, as a contrast to my long, slow runs, I need some energy to do my marathon paced runs. I always like doing my MP runs because I know they get me in my top physical shape. All my PB's from 5k up to the marathon have come within marathon training cycles that I was in the midst of doing MP runs.

So today I got out and after a two mile warm up I picked up the pace. Kind of hard at first to dial into a 7:10-7:15 pace since I've only been running faster or much slower than that. In fact I never really comfortably got the pace but part of the reason for that was the route I chose. I went to a regional park that has a 3.35 mile track around a lake and through the trees. Very nice except that it is deceptively hilly. I say deceptively because I think the hills are bigger than they look and there are more of them than there seems. Does that make sense? Anyway, constantly going up and down makes the pace difficult. But since the Marine Corps marathon is fairly hilly those first 8 miles I think it is a good route to run. Anyway, I ended up doing 8 miles at a 7:10 pace. Something I think I can build on.

All in, 10 miles at 7:28 pace.

Aug 30, 2009

My Best Workout Ever...Or Worst?

Sorry, I`m not talking about today. No, this was in January of 2008 when I was in the midst of some serious marathon training. To the tune of 2-3 80 mile weeks in a row on my way up to 100 miles (what was I thinking!). Early in the morning I set out for a 16 mile run and knew from the outset that I was quite fatigued. I was living in Tokyo at the time and fortunately there is a subway stop every mile or so and I thought I`d just go 4 miles and then grab a ride home. At 4 I decided to go one more mile and then 5 became 6. I said to myself I could turn around now and put a nice 12 mile run in the book but I couldn`t even fathom running another 6 miles. On I plodded up to my 7 and 8 mile marks chanting my mantra "just keep running, just keep running" in my head. Yes, you might recognize that I paraphrased that from Dory in Finding Nemo. So I turned around and started heading back, each time I passed a mile marker I told myself I`d catch a ride at the next one. Finally at the four mile mark, 12 miles into my run, I stopped my watch and turned to walk to the subway. After 10 meters I stopped, turned back around, restarted my watch and ran the rest of the way home. A run that I never thought would go more that 4 miles at the outset and never thought I`d complete. Mentally the toughest run I`ve ever had. Less than a week later I pulled out of the marathon with achilles` problems. Should I have just given my body the rest that it was asking for?

Well contrary to that run I felt pretty solid throughout my run today, which is saying something for a 20 mile long run. I felt like I was lagging a bit from 14-16 but that was only because I was going through a particularly wicked section of hills. Around 17 I was mentally ready to be done and started calculating how slow I could run these last miles and still finish under 9 minutes per mile. I started counting the miles, hills and minutes remaining. Under 20 minutes, 10, less than a mile, only 5 more minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1 and...done. Long, slow run, very casual but still at a faster pace than I`ve run a long run since I was doing only 14-15 in my build up. Also I went without the Powerade. No sports drinks or gels, just a drink from a water fountain at a park I ran through, which is how I usually do my runs. Maybe that`s why I realized I was so hungry when I finished.

All in, 20 miles at 8:52 pace.

Aug 28, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

...and take these mile repeats with you. Didn't look so bad heading out, maybe a few dark clouds in the West. By one mile it was sprinkling. Another half mile brought a drizzle and at the start of my first mile repeat it was raining. I was trying to figure out if I was painting the romantic portrait of a lone runner hammering out intervals in the rain or if it the rain was just making an already tough workout even more difficult. I decided that it was up to me to decide. My attitude towards the rain and my workout could be positive or negative and that would make all the difference. Unfortunately at the time I was smack in the middle of the workout and didn't really have any good feelings toward it. Fortunately by repeat #4 blue skies were making an effort to show up so I figured I could too.


In my head I figured 5 x 1 mile in the 6:40's (same as last week) would be sufficient. Mostly I just wanted to get this last session over with so I can get to my marathon paced runs next week. I went 6:40 with the first one and felt okay. The next four were 6:38, 6:38, 6:38 and 6:35. I knew I had one more in me so I did a sixth in 6:37. Not bad, something I can definitely be happy with. Maybe my fitness is coming around.

All in: 11 miles at 8:24.

The truth is you can always run faster. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Aug 26, 2009

Wisconsin Dells

We went to Wisconsin Dells with some family friends for the last few days. It was a lot of fun but after three days of swimming, sliding, tubing, putt-putting and lazer tagging, I've had enough. I needed to get back home just so I could rest (and run). Before we went on Sunday I did dutifully get up at 5 AM so I could get my weekly long run in.

I ran 19 miles on a 3 x 6.33 mile loop. The loop swings by our house a few times so I could continue to experiment with Powerade but it does include a few good sized hills. I was really starting to sag on miles 11-12 and figured I might be cutting the loop short for the last lap. Fortunately I seemed to revive a bit around mile 14 and was able to finish it off. As for the Powerade, I took a swig when I ran by home at mile 6.33 and 12.66 then shortly after that my stomach felt mildly uncomfortable. Nothing bad, I just hope I get used to it a little more so it doesn't bother me at all. Probably I'm just imagining it. Maybe that's what I'll tell myself and see if that works.

As for today I'm entering my last couple of speed workouts before I hit the MP phase of my build up. I didn't really know what to do but somehow ended up with 24 x 200m in my head. Fine, I'll do that. Not sure of what pace to do I figured I go with 40-45 seconds and adjust from there. It seemed okay but for the first dozen or so I was dreading having to do 24 of these things so much that I didn't realize that they weren't so hard. By 16 I started to realize that my heart rate was probably not getting up as high as it should. In the middle of the 20th one I decided I'd do the last 4 under 40 seconds. Couldn't pull it off for the first but the next three were 39, 39 and 38 and my HR was definitely high enough. I should have been at that pace a little more often I think. Postrun I checked the McMillan calculator and it says 38-43 so I was actually in the zone except for a couple that might have been 44. Of course it wasn't totally exact since the middle school track where I was running didn't have any markings that a high school track would so I had to eyeball my position between the curve and straightaway. You know what is incredible? World record marathon pace for 200m is 35 seconds! I could definitely run that fast and put in a few intervals at that pace but for a whole marathon? Incredible.

All in 19 miles at 9:02 pace and 8 miles at 8:20.

Aug 20, 2009

The Marathon Paced Workout

I have quite a bit to say about today's run so I'll skip any anecdote at the beginning and get into the meat of the workout.

Two and a half weeks into my 4 week speedwork period and I wanted to get an assessment of my fitness. For me the best way to do this is by doing a marathon pace (MP) run. For this workout I'll warm up with two easy miles and then speed up to the 7:10-7:15 range. These are the meat and potatoes of my marathon training. Dare I say it, at least as important as my long runs. I'll complete two of these each week usually with 10-11 miles at MP. A friend once told me (he read/heard it somewhere) that if you can complete 2/3 to 3/4 of your race distance in an untapered workout you should be able to complete the whole race at that pace. For me that would be about 18 miles at that pace. Yikes! I've never gotten beyond 12 miles at MP. Maybe that's why my marathons are run at about a 7:35 pace instead of 7:15.

Still I think these workouts are so beneficial because with only three runs per week, a long run plus two of these, I'm able to run a pretty good marathon. This was my training plan leading up to Myrtle Beach in February and with it I qualified for Boston and missed a PB by less than 2 minutes. I occasionally did a fourth workout that was a short, easy run but more often it was a swim or bike ride (with an eye towards my June half iron triathlon).

I divide these workouts into two groups, short ones and long ones. The short ones are 6-8 miles and long ones are 9+. This is an arbitrary distinction based only on the fact that running 9 miles at that pace makes it over an hour. I build up through the short ones and into the long ones throughout a 2-3 month build up before a marathon. The more and longer the long ones I can do the better trained I am. So with all that in mind, I embarked on a MP run to test myself.

I was hoping to get into the range of long ones but more expecting to do 7-8 miles at that pace. What makes me stop? Usually fatigue and my HR. If it is too high too long then I know I'll have a long recovery and my later workouts in the week will suffer. I felt good getting started, the pace was easy; must be the payoff from my recent speed sessions. After six and then seven miles though I could feel the fatigue and my HR was becoming elevated. I know I could have pushed and completed an 8th mile but a 9th (and therefore a long workout) would have been too tough. So I called it quits there and did a mile warm down. Seven miles at 7:08 is probably about right and looking at my build up for Myrtle Beach I'm in exactly the same place. Maybe that's not bad not having done that workout for about a month and when I enter that portion of my training in September I'll still have 6 solid weeks to push the distance.

So let me know if you have any thoughts on this. I'm toying with the idea of intentionally keeping one of these workout in the short range each week in order to maximize the distance I could do in the second one.

All in, today was 10 miles at 7:49 pace.

Aug 18, 2009

Biking and Mile Repeats Revisited

Last week Kaori learned to ride her bike without her training wheels. Yes it is a little bit late since she is six years old and entering first grade this Fall. However when we lived in Tokyo it was just tow crowded with automobile and pedestrian traffic for her to ride a bike very much. So she's really only been riding for about one year. This Spring we started riding with just two wheels but after one minor wreck we shelved that idea for a couple months. Then last week it just clicked for her and off she went. That first day Cole and her mom offered her $1 to keep going, making more and longer passes in front of our house (how sad is it that I entered the mile in my training log that I ran with her?). When it came to my turn to bribe her I didn't do it. I wanted to end on a positive note and so we finished the session. Now she is pushing for family bike rides and riding all over the neighborhood.

I was kind of tired and sluggish this morning and lacking any sort of motivation. I started thinking about what I commented to another blogger that sometimes low motivation could signal a need for more rest. Still I decided to get out and run but I used the same strategy with myself that I had used on Kaori, give myself a positive experience. I decided to couple that with some mile repeats because I've been eager to redeem myself on those after my bad experience last week. So I gave myself a moderate goal of 4x1 mile in the 6:40's. I know, a little slow but I still think that should provide a pretty good stimulus since it is about 30 seconds faster per mile than my planned marathon pace. I ended up doing 5 from 6:41-6:45 and in doing so I left the track with a satisfied feeling. All in: 10 miles in about 81 minutes.

P.S. Both Yasso and McMillan only mention doing up to 5 mile repeats for marathon training. I would have expected more but I guess I'm doing enough distance with those.

Aug 16, 2009

From Triathlon To Treadmill

I'd hoped to be doing a sprint triathlon this morning and that would get me out of my long run. Unfortunately my friend hasn't trained and didn't want to do the race. I still could have but without him it wouldn't have been the same. Also, I've swam only once since the half ironman triathlon I did in June.

So the threat of thunderstorms drove me inside this morning. An 18 miler on the treadmill isn't ideal for most people but since I live in Minnesota I have kind of gotten used to running indoors. Today's long run was a little better than last week but still didn't feel overly sharp or energetic. I probably felt a little better because I was drinking some Powerade during my run. I usually don't do this. I usually don't drink or need anything. Even though I have a fuel belt I don't like carrying water and I definitely don't like stopping during a run unless I'm doing intervals. I mean, I don't stop during races so why would I during my training. I also think that if I don't take in any gels or sports drinks then my body will have to rely on metabolizing my fat and that is something that is good to train my body to do. This is just a theory though, what do you think?

But the Marine Corps Marathon will be offering Mountain Berry Blast (although their website says mixed berry blast, but they don't have that flavor) and so I need to train with it for at least a few runs. Was that what it was that gave me a little unsettled stomach (apologies to those around me, I was a little, what's the word?, gassy).

Today's run, 18 miles in 2:41:45; 8:59 pace.

Aug 13, 2009

Mile Repeats

Since it's been so long that I have done speedwork I've been checking out Greg McMillan's running calculator in order to get some pace times. I'm not sure what I should run though. Should I do mile repeats in the 6:30's like the 3:20 marathoner that I am or should I do them in 6:20's as my marathon goal is 3:10? Also do I need to push to do 8-10 of them and try to make them an endurance workout as well as speed or do I just need to do 5-6 to strengthen my body to running that fast and the endurance will come with other workouts? Right now I guess I'm just trying to do as much as I can as fast as I can...

...which today meant not so much, not so fast. I set out for my second set of mile repeats and hoped to get 6-7 in. After the second one (6:32, 6:37) I could tell that not only did I not have it but I sure wasn't going to get it. "It" being the thing that lets you run well on any particular day. The third one (6:53!) prompted a long rest of a 1.5 mile jog and even though I was planning on running home after that I just couldn't stand not doing at least one more. Probably not a good idea but I don't think it hurt anything either (6:52). A far cry from last week's mile repeats. Now I feel like there is unfinished business and even though tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day I'm already feeling like I want to run. A short, fast jaunt would be okay right?

Aug 11, 2009

My Best 5k Ever

I was able to run my favorite 5k ever just a couple weeks ago. What made it so good? I was able to run it with my 9 year old son that's what. He had run his first 5k a few weeks prior. He started out with my wife but after finding her pace too slow he took off by himself and walking only once finished just under 31 minutes. Not bad! This time he wanted to go faster and enlisted me to help pace him. This time he didn't walk at all and was working really hard toward the end. I was impressed by him. It was a big (5,000 runners) but casual (no times, not sure of the starting line) race and we were weaving through a lot of runners. We ended up finishing in 28:26. Great job Cole!

Today's workout put me at the local middle school track, an easy 1.75 mile warm up from our house. I was a little worried about my ability to do a good workout since my legs were sore and tired all day yesterday. Fortunately when I woke up this morning I was feeling pretty fresh. I entered a 16 x .25 mile workout with 100 meter rests into the Garmin and got started. My goal was to complete them all in 90-95 seconds and after 2-3 intervals I was able to dial in on my pace. I slowed a little bit in my 7th-10th intervals but number 12 was my fastest one. I cruised through a couple more and then definitely felt the fatigue set in on number 15. Luckily I had only one left and was able to bring it home. I had started out jogging the 100 meter rests but found that didn't give me sufficient recovery to let my heart rate reduce so I ended up walking them (also I was tired). I wasn't so excited about the 1.75 miles to get back home but at least it was slow. Of course I usually try to refuel within 30 minutes of my workouts because we all know that is prime time for your muscles to absorb their required nutrients but that just had to wait as I dived into my kids' pool to cool down. Plus playing with them in the pool is kind of a workout in itself.

Aug 9, 2009

Long Run

Sunday today and that means a long run for me. I don't know why but I've always done my long runs on Sunday mornings. A lot of people do them on Saturdays. I guess I just like to get up early and get them done before we head off to church.

Anyway I did 17 miles today at a 9:06 per mile pace. A little slower than normal but I really don't care since long runs are supposed to be just that, long. All about time spent running. I did 5 laps on a path around a lake plus and additional 400 meters to make it 17 miles. I was going along pretty well until about 4 miles left. At that point it really became a grind. I had a water stop with a little more than 2 miles left that helped, for about a half mile anyway. I think I was tired because of the speedwork on Friday. Maybe it was the 100% humidity that wouldn't let my sweat evaporate and therefore my body to cool down. Maybe it was our party yesterday. Although I don't and didn't drink any alcohol, I was on my feet quite a bit shopping, cleaning, preparing and hosting so that could have had an effect. Likely it was all of those and more.

Glad to have gotten it done; sort of looking forward to my workout on Tuesday (but more looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.) (;

Aug 7, 2009

Speed Work

Since we moved back from Tokyo in July of 2008, marking the time since I ran with my running club, Namban Rengo, I haven't done any actual speed work. Well this month that is going to change. I'll be somewhat following this article by Greg McMillan in Running Times magazine. It advocates doing your periodization for marathon training in this order: build up, speed work, tempo runs. For the Myrtle Beach marathon I built up my tempo runs along with my mileage, did not speedwork, and as previously stated, that was good enough to qualify me for Boston. (note: tempo runs for me are long runs at marathon pace, usually 12-14 miles with 10-12 miles at 7:10-7:15 pace)

Previous marathons that I've run in the 3:20 range, Tokyo and Nagano, I did a build up and then tempo phase while doing speedwork throughout. With this new format after finishing up my mileage build up (I peaked last week at 3 runs of 15, 13.4 and 15 miles) I'm starting up with intervals again and today that meant mile repeats. Since it was raining pretty hard this morning I decided to make use of the treadmill and joined the rest of the family at the health club. I did a two mile warm up, which I pretty much always do, and then did 5 x 1 mile at 6:24, 6:26, 6:22, 6:25, 6:26 with half mile active recovery in between. Nine and one half miles total. Not bad especially since this week I'm trying to ease into the faster pace (on Tuesday I did 12 x 1 minute at 6:20-6:30 pace with 1 minute recoveries). I don't want my tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints to revolt against the sudden increase in intensity.

Aug 5, 2009

Resurrection

I thought it was dead but here I am again blogging on my running blog. I'm still not sure why. Not like I'll be having anymore readers this time around. I'm going to do it though, I'll update after my workouts and races and other events that impact my running/triathloning.

A little more history since I last blogged. I ran the Myrtle Beach marathon on February 14th, 2009 and finished in 3:19:56 to qualify for the Boston marathon for the second time. Not sure if I'll be running it this time though. I had a great time during that marathon; really enjoyed it for some reason. Mostly I'm thinking because I didn't crash and burn towards the end like I have previously. After that I trained pretty hard for a half ironman triathlon that I completed in June 2009. That was not so good an experience. In fact, I crashed hard on the run and didn't enjoy it so much. I'm thinking that's why I'm back into running mode and not swimming and biking so much.

Next up I'll blog about my training for Myrtle Beach and how my training is different from that now and why I think I'll be able to do better.