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:

8:27 (warming up)
2:42 for .35; 7:43 pace
2:38; 7:31 pace
2:38; 7:31 pace
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 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, 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.)

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."

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.