Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I have a large program running in Virginia. A bunch of work going on in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. I get to sit here in 70 degree, sunny weather in Southern California.
I also get to catch up a little on my radio listening. For a while now, I've been a Phil Hendrie fan. For those of you who may not know who he is, Hendrie is a Nationally syndicated radio personality. His claim to fame is that he performs much like a voice actor does. He has several characters where he provides voices. His characters are an assortment of politically incorrect folks. He will have his characters call into his show. He then carries on both sides of the conversation with his character on some current topic. For example, one of his characters, Rudy Canosa, owns a lingerie store. On Valentine's Day, Canosa called in to Hendrie to talk about gifts for Valentine's Day. While they are talking about that, foghorns start going off in the background. When asked what those are for, Canosa explains that the foghorns are to warn his sales staff that an "extra large" woman has come in the store. They need to be earned because these fat women will stretch the lingerie when they try it on. So you get the general idea. You can catch Hendrie on KTLK (1150 AM) here in Los Angeles 9PM to 1AM. You can also catch Phil on his website at http://www.philhendrieshow.com.
My bigger problem though is that I'm an early to bed, early to rise guy. So, I rarely stay up to listen to the show, relying instead on podcasts of the show made available at http://newphilhendrieshow.com/forum. Likewise, I also have a computer set up to record another of my favorites, Coast to Coast AM. I use a product called Replay AV from Applian Software to capture the recording right off KFI's Internet feed. When I come in in the morning, I have the previous night's C2C ready to listen at my leisure.
So, while sitting here tonight (this conversion job in Virginia has been running for 4 and a half hours now), I've been able to listen to last night's C2C AM (I fast forward through the news and commercials), and finished up the 2/22 edition of the Phil Hendrie Show. Of course, I got the first hour of Phil on my run tonight.
So far, I'm on week 2 of my hour long runs during the week. I *can* tell a difference too. I am running with a little more energy and am much more comfortable through 4 and 5 miles. I am managing to keep my pace at 10:00 or a little better, and keep my heart rate in the 150 range. I'm still not fast, only making it through about 6 miles on each run, but I'm hoping the speed will come as I build a better base. For now, I'll just keep plugging along.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I am looking forward to running again tomorrow. The days have been absolutely amazing. I'm looking forward to getting out in the sun.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The next couple of days should be a little tougher - it's supposed to be close to 80 by Wednesday......
Sunday, February 24, 2008
First of, on Monday, I tied my shoe a bit too tight on my left foot. As a result, I have a bruise on the arch of my left foot. The bruise is not visible, and, interestingly enough, it doesn't hurt when I;m in my running shoes and running. But it is painful when I am in any shoe that covers my foot.
Second, last week, I erg'd in my running shoes with my running socks. That was just enough to create a blister on my left Achilles tendon. The blister never popped, and I was able to keep it from getting worse despite two more erg sessions by simply wearing some cotton socks. The additional thickness was just enough to keep my foot from sliding around in my shoe.
I'm looking for this week. One hour of running Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Some rowing on Tuesday and Thursday. Long run (this time 5 miles) on Saturday. Should be fun!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
It didn't rain the rest of the day, and actually started clearing up in the late afternoon. So, by the time I got to my run about 3:30, not only was it sunny, but there was a good stiff breeze blowing from the South. And by a stiff breeze, I mean whitecaps on the back bay's water.
Having experienced this on Wednesday, I got smart today, and ran into the headwind for the first half of my run, and got a nice little push from a tailwind after my turnaround. The final numbers? 6 miles in one hour. Not too bad. Also, I'm not sore, which is good for tomorrow's run.
I tried out Calorie Count (http://caloriecount.about.com/) because of its food database. Here's a prime example. Say you went to Costco this weekend. You bought some blueberry muffins. You have one for breakfast. You go to Sparkpeople (http://www.sparkpeople.com/) and type in "blueberry muffin" in the food searcher. Here is what you will see: The first thing to notice, is that there are no Costco Blueberry Muffins on the list. So, we are left to guess at that point. Seemingly, a Starbuck's Blueberry muffin might be close. So we'll choose it. Here are the gory details about the Starbuck's Blueberry Muffin:
That's a whopping 61% more calories! It becomes easy to see how not having the right food on the food list can make a significant difference, even when you think you are trying to do the right things!
This means that there is constant moving between screens. Also, while the graphical interface is nice, the one BIG thing that is missing here is what are my targets? I know how many calories, but what about carbs, fats, and protein? All this important information is missing.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The way back was *not* fun. I got to run into a headwind and uphil. Got about 5.8 miles in and spent time looking for quarters.......
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Since last summer though, I became a lot less dedicated to tracking my calories. I also became a lot less dedicated to the event that was causing the calorie burn - indoor rowing. The end result was that I violated the sacred equation and turned it backwards, adding about 10 pounds in the process.
Now that I am running, it is time to start attacking the other side of the equation. I started using Sparkpeople again, but I found that the food database is a little lacking. If you are going to start using a website to track calories, the first thing you should look at is the food database. Look especially for a food database that has stuff in it that you eat. As I got further into using Sparkpeople, what I found was that for what I ate, the food database in Sparkpeople was more like an ingredient database. I had to spend time selecting bits and pieces from the database to approximate what I was eating. What became clear to me was that doing this was probably underestimating my intake, since I was putting the excercise in, but not losing the weight.
I've changed my calorie tracking website to Caloriecounter (http://caloriecounter.about.com/). So far, the food database is much more to my liking. I'll give it a couple of weeks and will present a report here.
Oh - today's workout? Back on the ergometer for 10 kms.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Starting today, I'm going to ramp up the three times a week runs. I know I can handle 60 minutes at an easy pace, so that is what I'll do. Today I put in a 60 minute, 5.9 mile run along the back bay. Nothing hard - average heart rate around 150. With this plan, I should be able to start putting in 20 and 30 mile weeks - something that Higdon is high on. This week for example, assuming that I run easy and get 5 miles in each day, I should be able to put in 19 running miles and 12 rowing miles.
The general consensus of most of the coaches in the book is that to run a marathon and do well, you should be putting in at least 50 miles a week. I looked at the training plan and we never get to those levels. So, I'm going to make an adjustment here and start running one hour per day, 3 days a week until about 3 weeks prior to the marathon. At that point, I'll begin my taper. My goal is to make sure I finish - and enjoy it while I'm doing so.
Tomorrow I'll talk about a new calorie counting website I found.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Yesterday I was talking about weight loss. The key to my weight loss was tracking my calorie intake. To do so, I used a website called SparkPeople (http://www.sparkpeople.com/). Among Sparkpeople's better qualities is that it has a large food database to use when tracking calories. This, along with a drastic change in diet (cutting *way* down on eating out) allowed me the 40 lb loss that I enjoyed.
Since then though, I've put some weight back on. I attribute that to a combination of factors - the largest being not tracking calories any longer. I am going to start again. I am hoping that that, along with an uptick in my running time and distance will provide the kick I need to drop another 20 poinds this year. I'll keep you posted!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Looking back at the week, this was a pretty light week. I ran a total of 14 miles, plus a little over 12 miles on the erg. The only injury to speak of are some blisters on my left heel. With all the running that I've been doing, I end up with blisters from rowing. Go figure.
The best part of this week has been the dropping of a couple of pounds! Yes - I've officially dropped back below 230 lbs. The weight loss thing is the toughest for me. When I first started excercising a year or so ago, 40 lbs came off pretty easy. Of those 40, 20 came off just be being active again. Then, I had to work real hard to shed the extra 20. I was working out a lot - burning 1000 calories per rowing workout. Obviously there was something that I wasn't doing right. Of course, what I wasn't doing right was balancing the calories. From my research, I found out that weight loss is really pretty simple - more calories out than calories in and the weight comes off. That meant that I was going to need to start calorie counting. Now - calorie counting is pretty simple right? I'll get into that answer tomorrow.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Besides, tomorrow morning bright and early it our weekly long run. Granted - it's not very long - only 3 miles. But it's the start.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Speaking about calories, I've started tracking again. I am committed to losing another 20 pounds by a couple of weeks before the marathon. It's a bitch being hungry all the time!
I'll post more about calorie counting and calorie tracking later today.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I also made pretty good time today, doing 9:48 miles running easy. This is quite an improvement over my 11:30 miles that were the norm not that long ago. I remember how stoked I was to average 9:14 going all out in my first 5K last November!
Back to the ergometer tomorrow. Talk to you then!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I set up a workout today on an ergometer at the Newport Aquatic Center and went on my merry way. One of the neat things about the Concept 2 rowing machine is its programmable timing computer. The computer allows you to program workouts by distance, workouts by time, etc., etc. - almost an unlimited number of workouts. I programmed a short pyramid - a common type of rowing workout. I did an 11 minute pyramid - up the pyramid at 3 minutes at 18 strokes per minute, 2 minutes at 20 spm, 1 minute at 22 spm, and then back down by going 2 minutes at 20 spm, and then a final 3 minutes at 18 spm. This was followed by a six minute active rest period. This workout was repeated 3 times with a 5 minute warm up session. In total, I rowed 56 minutes, and went 10.2 km. I really enjoy this type of cross training - it really provides a good workout to a bunch of non-running muscles.
Tomorrow it's back to the trails. I'll cheat once again and put in 30 minutes instead of the required 20. Talk to you then!
Monday, February 11, 2008
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, this program looks a little light. I understand that the program needs to be structured for non-runners, but week one includes 20 minute runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then a 3 mile "long" run on Saturday. If I stretch the 2o minute runs to 30 minutes, then this week will be 12 miles. Well below what I was running on the recovery program.
So, we'll see how it goes. I got the go ahead to add a couple days of cross training to the schedule, so I'm sure you'll hear about my indoor rowing and weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
The morning started promptly at 7 with a few words of wisdom from Coach Bill Sumner. I first had an opportunity to meet Coach Sumner about 4 years ago when my son was a Freshman at Corona del Mar High School. "Coach" as he is called, is a bit of a legend around CdM. He has been coaching Cross Country and Track at CdM for 25 years now. And - it's easy to see why. I have not run into a more positive High School program. Doing your best was always stressed, and "winning" meant that you did better than you did before. Even if only by 1 second. It wasn't where you ended up when all was said and done - just that you tried your best. Even better if you PR'd!
Once Coach finished his introduction (complete with his own brand of humor that makes him so entertaining), we broke into our group and did our one mile time trial to see where we all stood in terms of fitness and general ability. It was great to see that for the most part, we were all compatible. Ithink there were two or three runners that were *clearly* better than most of us, and maybe on or two that were lagging behind a little, but most of us finished in the 8:45 to 10 minute range. I was happy that I was able to run a 9:02, without really breathing hard. I am especially happy to see that I will have some company on long runs!
Speaking of long runs, we also got a copy of the actual training program. It's looks a little light. But I'll stick to it with a few additions here and there. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I find the best place to look for races is at raceplace.com (http://www.raceplace.com/). There are a few that don't show up on raceplace, but they tend to be smaller races or boutique races. Anything major in Southern California shows up there.
The deal with this weekend is that a 5K sounds fun. A 10K requires a level of effort that I'm bot sure I want to expend, and the last 5K I ran was back in November. It would be kind of cool to see how much improvement I can pull in a 5K now. The closest 5K though is in Downtown L.A. this weekend. Granted - it sounds like fun - The Chinatown Firecracker 5K/10K to usher in the Chinese New Year. But the thought of getting up at 5:30 AM, driving for an hour, looking for parking, and then running for less than 30 minutes isn't all that appealing. There is a 5K in San Diego County, but it's a similar story there too. The drive for a short run just is not that appealing.
The next one close by that looks decent is on February 23rd - the Los Alamitos Race on the Base 5K/10K (http://www.ci.los-alamitos.ca.us/race_page.htm) Who knows - I may even be motivated to run a 10K on a flat course at that point.
As for this weekend - the weather outlook is good, so I think I'll put in some miles on the trail this Sunday.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Today was also a great day for running here. Sun was out. Wind was slight and offshore. The only problem was the 55 degree temperature at 4:30 PM. Oh well - could have been a lot worse. I ran my favorite part of the Newport Bay Trail - from the Interpretive Center over to Jamboree Blvd and back. This is an area of the bay where there is a paved trail on rolling hills. It is used by a lot of runners and walkers, but only a few bicyclists. The result is a scenic, sane trail good for running.
I may have to miss running tomorrow. This past weekend, my brother in law backed into my parked car. I now have a little souvenier that shows that a Hummer's rear bumper and a BMW's front bumper don't align. I have a 4PM appointment at the dealer to get an estimate to fix the damage. By the time I'm done with that, I doubt that there will be time to run before picking my son up. I'm not going to sweat it though. I think I'll put in some miles this weekend to make up for it.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
When I started the whole fitness thing (about a year and a half ago), it was becuase I had a "shelf" on top of my stomach. On weekend mornings, I could actually sit in a chair and rest my cup of coffee and muffin quite conveniently. I was pushing 260 pounds and was leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle. My daughter, who was trying to secure an athletic scholarship, is the one who really got me off my butt and motivated me to start indoor rowing. I decided at the time that my goal would be to get back in shape to start hiking and backpacking again.
As I started working out three to five days a week, I started feeling a lot better. I found that my focus started shifting from my original goal to weight loss. I brought in another website that helped me track my calorie intake, and the weight started coming off! Great! I dropped from 260 to 220 in a matter of a few months. Of course, those were the easy pounds.
As I started getting fit and saw the weight come off, my goals once again changed from weight loss to fitness and competition. When I started looking at the opportunities for 50 year old overweight guys, it seemed that running might be a good fit. I knew that I would never be an elite runner, but the challenge and the competition was there in finishing. That's right - just finishing. I never thought that I could finish a 10K, much less anything longer. I mean - that's like 6 miles! True - I was rowing 15 kilometers a day at that point, but the whole idea of running that far was a bit of a stretch.
So I started running. At first it was 10 miles here, 10 miles there. No plan. I saw that I could run a 10K, but that it was going to take me an hour and a half to do so. In my latter stages of rowing, I had been exposed to training plans. I thought that that may be what I needed here. I had purchased a Forerunner 305 to track heart rate and distance. Some of the materials that came with the GPS pointed me in the direction of Training Peaks. There I found that training plans were readily available and integrted into their web site! Sounded like an opportunity for me!
I've now been running since last September. The 5Ks are anticlimatic. 10Ks are still a challenge, but are doable. I've run a Half Marathon. My running goal is now to complete a Marathon. The best thing about running at this point in my life is that it leads to a whole set of goals that I can now see as achievable: Lose 20 more pounds, Boston by the age of 60, PR in 5Ks, 10Ks, Halfs and Marathons. The list is only limited by me.
Monday, February 4, 2008
There is one thing about indoor rowing that I really like. It is as close to a complete, non-impact body workout as you can get. Today's 30 minute workout has me sore in places that I forgot I had. Rowing is also great for the legs. Most people think that rowing is all about pulling oars (or the handle on a rowing machine). Actually, rowing is all about pushing with legs. My son, who is training for the upcoming racing season, is required to do literally hundreds of jump squats every week. There is not a person around a boat house with quadriceps smaller than a small oak tree.
In fact, the rowing stroke can be broken into four major steps:
- The Drive: The Drive begins by pressing down your legs. The legs provide force. In a boat, the drive with the legs translates into movement of the boat. Press to the rear and the boat moves forward. On an ergometer, the leg press starts the flywheel moving and translates into flywheel momentum. During the drive, the arms remain straight and back firm to transfer your leg power up to the handle. Anyone who bends their back or arms during the drive is not transferring all the force of the legs into movement or momentum. The last part of the drive is to gradually bend the arms and swing back with your upper body, prying against the legs until you reach a slight backward lean at the finish.
- The Finish: The Finish involves puling the handle all the way into your abdomen. Tforce to either the boat or the flywheel, translating into speed.
- The Recovery: The Recovery involves a number of motions. First, the arms are extended toward the flywheel on an ergometer or toward your feet on a boat. This is a critical step in a stroke. You'll often hear rowing coaches telling their students to "swing the arms". It is critical that the arms move quickly to the front. Any hesitation in a boat results in oars dragging in the water and loss of speed. On an ergometer, hestiation results in slowing the flywheel down. Once the arms are extended (elbows literally locked), lean your upper body forward at the hips to follow the arms and gradually bend legs to slide forward on the seat. These last two steps should take place much slower than the rest of the stroke, as this is the time to "rest" (okay - at least to breathe in) during the stroke. For an experienced rower, this step provides just the little rest that allows them to explode into the next stroke.
- The Catch: This is the final step of the rowing stroke. It really describes the result of proper recovery. At the Catch, the shins are vertical, the upper body should be leaning forward at the hips, arms fully extended. You are ready to take the next stroke.
When you think about this motion, you can see that the rowing stroke provides a workout for the quads, lower back and abs (Drive), arms, shoulders and obliques (Finish), calves and abs (Recovery). Rowing for 30 minutes provides about 600 repetitions - all with no impact on the joints. Talk about working up a sweat. Whew. For me, an hour of rowing is about a 1200 calorie workout. Of course, that's becuase I am the Running Fat Guy......
This put me in an interesting position. I am sure that someone from Oregon or Washington would be laughing at me about now, but after looking at the rain, the wind, and the thermometer, I decided that I was much better off with a warm cup of coffee in front of my laptop.
It rained throughout the morning, but did eventually break a little after noon. By then though, the weekend was in full swing. Visit the parents, do our Costco run, cook dinner. Before I knew it, the day was done. I'm glad I'm not training for anything at the moment.
I did get a chance to start on the Higdon book though. I'm through the first three chapters. So far, it's been a little dry reading - mostly about why people run marathons, goals, etc. I'm just starting the chapter that discusses the evolution of marathon training plans. Interesting enough, but nothing specific to training. Hopefully that comes a little later in the book.
There is one thing with the book though - it serves to strike up conversation. I was in a local coffee house Saturday morning reading the book and ejoying a cup of joe. A guy at the table next to me asked me if I was planning on running a marathon. Turns out that he had read the same book and got motivated to run marathons becuase of it. He had even used a Hal Higdon Marathon training progam. In a few minutes, we had a group of 5 people talking about marathons and running in general. All because of my book. Sounds like an opportunity here - single guys??????
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I got back to running yesterday. My plan called for a 40 minute tempo run, so I took off to Crystal Cove State Park and did a run along the coast. The 40 minutes gave me just enough time to put in a 4 mile run. Still not fast, but doing better than when I first started.
I enjoy this particular run. It is along a paved trail, parallel to Pacific Coast Highway. The only people that share the trail are walkers and other runners. Vehicles and bicycles stay on PCH, so there's no fighting wheels. Also, the views are spectacular - the ocean is about 100 feet below. The coast along this stretch of the OC is a mixture of rocky coast and sandy beach.
The first time that I was introduced to this section of coast was back in college, when my Ecology Course at UC Irvine (Bio 101E) used the tide pools for laboratory excercises. I have vivid memories of a lab where we had to chart the territorial habits of the barnacles attached to the rocks in the tide pools. That was back in the days when this section of coast was still private property - owned by the Irvine Compnay. No buildings, no public usage from Cameo Shores on the north to Irvine Cove on the south. The only things that were there were the cottages - all privately owned on private land, the Shake Shack on PCH, and the Mobile Home park in Scotsman's Cove. These days, there's a golf course, a resort timeshare hotel, a shopping center and homes on the inland side of PCH. In return for the right to build, the Irvine Company donated the current land that comprises Crystal Cove State Park to the State of California for safekeeping. The State has added some improvements - restrooms, parking, converting the cottages to rental properties, removing the mobile homes, and paved trails. So for now (at least until the next budget crisis), this little piece of coast has been saved (yeah - I know - improved but saved). There is talk of another resort hotel going in on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, but I haven't seen any new construction going on - other than the homes from Shady Canyon encroaching the hills facing the ocean.
Today's run is a 90 minute run. My son needs to row this morning, so I think I'll drop him off and then do a back bay run. I'll check in with you all later today.