Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Four Mile Monday

Well - just another boring Monday. Meh. Four easy miles. Let's see - what boring place should I go to to do this? Around one of the last pristine estuaries in California where I can watch the migratory birds as they stop along their flight back north? Along a creek where birds and wildlife abound (one of my running friends recently saw a bobcat crossing the trail)? Along a bluff overlooking tide pools and the shores of the Pacific? My point is I really tend to take for granted where I live. I'm lucky enough to do a fair amount of travelling around the U.S., and it's hard to beat what I have here. Some places may tie. Some come close. But nowhere have I found the combination of weather, natural beauty and convenience that we have here in Southern California. And before you lecture me on traffic - ever been to San Francisco? Chicago? New York? Even San Diego.

I'm not trying to rub anything in. It just occurred to me yesterday as I was leaving for my run that I really shouldn't be complaining about living and running here. All of the above is less than a five minute drive from home. And I still complain. Sigh.

Oh yeah - yesterday's run? Four easy general aerobic miles. Average pace of 9:48 with an average heart rate of 80% of max.

Today is Tuesday - so that means intervals! Bring 'em on!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Week Wrapped Up

Okay - I know I'm in the middle of this training cycle. I'm not sure what week this is. Too many weeks finished. Too many weeks to go. Kind of like being a sophomore in college. You know you've finished your first year. You know there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's just that the past is a memory, and you can't quite see the light yet. That's what I feel like right now. I have some little tweaks and niggles all around. Sore legs. Tired quads. Tender IT band.

But, another week is done. I wrapped up with an easy 8 miles yesterday. Put in a total of 26 plus miles last week. With 2 days left this month I'm just over 130 miles. This is more like the training load I want. I want to hold it here now for a few months and give my body ample time to adjust and adapt. I feel like I'm right on the edge. If I add more, I'm afraid that I'll push myself over the edge and end up on the shelf again with another injury.

Planned for this week:

Monday - 4 miles easy; visit the gym for stretching and core work
Tuesday - Intervals - whatever the interval gods have in store (should be around 6.5 miles)
Wednesday - 4 miles recovery; visit the gym for stretching and core work
Thursday - Tempo Thursday! 50 minute tempo run (should be around 5 miles or so)
Friday - Scheduled rest day (woot!)
Saturday - 12 mile long run
Sunday - 4 mile recovery; visit the gym for stretching and core work

Total damage planned for this week - 35.5 miles.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My "Get Smart" Race Report

Yup. Missed a PR by "that much". But I'm still pretty happy with the results.

The race was the La Habra 10K. La Habra is one of hundreds (if not thousands) of small bedroom communities that make up the Los Angeles metro area. This race took on that small community flavor (at least as small an event as you can have here in L.A.). About a thousand or so runners between a kids 1K, a 5K and a 10K. No chip timing. No closed streets. The day was absolutely beautiful. As I was driving to the race right after dawn, I was thinking about how different the last 10K I ran was back in February. That day was cold, stormy and raining. I remember watching a car spin out and hit a tree during a downpour. Yesterday was just so different. It was a perfect day for a run.

I had heard before the race that this was not one that was likely to result in a PR. It is a double 5K loop through some rolling hills. Nothing huge, but almost constant. But, I've been feeling pretty good over the last couple of weeks, so I was looking forward to the challenge. I was also going to try to apply some 10K race strategy offered by Glover in his book: (1) start out a little slower than workout pace for the first couple of miles, (2) pay close attention to pace in the middle three miles, (3) speed up in the last mile plus. With this in mind, I knew that I wanted to settle in at an 8:45 for the duration of the race to make my goal. Ho! He he! I obviously have to practice that strategy! I started out way too hot (8:30 instead of 8:50 - honest I was trying to hold back). Then the hills I've attached the elevation profile). 9:36 instead of 8:45, Then the downhill. Ugh. Then repeat for loop 2. At one point about 3.5 miles in, I tucked behind another runner. He was running a very comfortable pace that I was able to match stride for stride. I should have just stayed there. Instead I tried to move ahead of him about mile 4 when I sensed he was slowing. Then on the next uphill, he passed me. I got to watch the back of his singlet the rest of the race as it faded into the distance. Arrgh!

Well, it was still a ton of fun. My 10K PR is a 55.41 (done in December). Yesterday's damage - 55.56. I was satisfied considering the hills. If I would have only tucked in and stayed behind that other runner - he ended up 40 seconds in from of me. There was my PR! Turns out he pushed a little harder because he was worried that I was going to out kick him. We had a good laugh afterwards!

So - no PR. Missed it by 15 hundredths of a second. But still a great time. Oh yeah - the free Chick-fil-A sandwiches sure hit the spot too!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Recovery Day

Yesterday was a recovery day. I put in a four mile recovery run. I was seriously considering bagging it, but I did it anyways. It seems that just to get out and put in four miles and not letting my heart rate go over 75% of max is not a very exciting way to spend an afternoon. At that heart rate I am barely moving along at times. So, when I got back, I went to the books ("Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas) to remember why I'm doing these short, seemingly junk runs:

So there you have it. I guess they are important after all!

Speaking of books, I've given up on the Glover book ("Competitive Runner's Handbook"). It's not the book itself, it's me. Well, maybe it is the book. The problem is I've read this all before in various other books with better descriptions of why these things are important. My impression of the Glover book is he tells you what you need to do, but doesn't do a very good job of explaining why. Kind of like being lectured. When it comes right down to it, "Advanced Marathoning" gets my vote for the best running book out there - even if you aren't going to run a marathon. Pfitzinger and Douglass go into a lot of detail to explain why things are important, providing tools that us runners can use to make decisions when we are playing around with our training plans.

Today is Friday, which means rest day (seems like I've done a lot of that this week). It also means it's Foto Friday over at Adventure Seeker's blog. Since spring is under way (although some would disagree), I though I would leave you with skiing in Southern California as a reminder of all that snow you Easterners had this year. Talk to you Sunday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some Days You Have It

And some days you don't. That was yesterday. After putting together a string of nice, quality training runs, yesterday was a different story. I'm okay with it though. I've been doing this long enough now that I understand that these things happen. That's why they call it "training".

The plan was eight miles at aerobic pace. Things started well enough. In fact, the first six miles went well. During mile seven though, I just ran out of gas. I was sore. My hips and calves were bothering me (time for new shoes?). Then, my heart rate started climbing. Up and up and up. I had to slow and slow and slow to keep it within range. All of a sudden those nine minute miles became 10:30 and slower. I wrapped up the final mile (mile 8) in a mind numbing 10:47. All to keep my heart rate aerobic. Workout done. Heart rate a little higher than I normally would see it for this type of run (83% of max). And a little sorer (more sore?) that I normally am after a GA run too. Hmm.

On tap today - a short four mile recovery run. I'll hit up the gym afterwards for some stretching and core work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unscheduled Rest Day

Okay. I took an unscheduled rest day yesterday. Wife had to work late so I had to get dinner going and on the table. Once I got dressed and out the door, it was getting pretty late. In my mind, I had already decided that my scheduled eight miler was going to be six. Then disaster. Only once before had this ever happened to me. It was my wrist. It beeped. "Batteries are low. Press Enter."

The last time this happened was at my last 10K, the Chinatown Firecracker 10K. I had thought to myself back then, "Okay, batteries are low. There should be enough left here for an hour." Guess what? The message should read "Batteries are dead dude!" My Garmin lasted about 10 minutes. Just long enough to make it past the start.

Having done his before, I knew the Garmin wasn't going to last. The wind was howling. It was getting close to 6:30. So I made a judgement call and decided to trade my Thursday rest day for Tuesday. My concern is the 10K I'm running Saturday. I wanted to be as rested as possible without putting too huge a dent in training volume this week. I had originally scheduled Thursday and Friday as rest days to meet that goal. I'm hoping that a short four mile recovery run on Thursday won't compromise that. I'll find out on Saturday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back Home from the Upper Midwest

I'm back in town after my whirlwind trip to Southwest Michigan. I didn't get a chance to run or anything - flew in late Sunday and flew back about noon yesterday. Not that I would have anyways. The winds were howling. I'm not talking a stiff headwind like we see here near the coast in the afternoon. I'm talking stiff, cold 20 mile an hour Easterly winds. Made the nice sunny mid 40 degrees seem soooo much colder.

I'm moving forward on week 7 of this training cycle. I have a 10K race this Saturday, so I think I'm going to swap out intervals tonight for a regular run - something on the order of 8 miles or so:

Monday - Off (travelling)
Tuesday - Eight easy miles
Wednesday - Four recovery. Gym for stretching, core
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 10K race
Sunday - Eight easy miles

That will put me at 26.2 for the week. Considering 6.2 will be a race, I think that should be good enough. Next week I ramp back up into the mid 30's for a few weeks until tapering for my race on May 3rd!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One less "2" to deal with

Well, I could have blogged about this earlier this week, but I didn't want to jinx myself. I've been here for a brief time before. And when I was it was a fleeting moment until I injured myself. I am talking about having one less "2" when I step on the scale!

I had been stuck between 220 and 225 pounds for quite a while. It's been pretty discouraging. As much time as I've been spending running and watching my diet, it just seemed like the weight wasn't coming off.

So, when I started this half marathon training cycle, I decided that I was going to concentrate on performance instead of weight loss. I increased my calorie intake to 2600 to 2900 a day, and increased my mileage and intensity. I'm eating a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an afternoon snack. I'm eating cookies and chips. I'm charting my food to make sure I'm eating enough (In the past, I was more interested in limiting calorie intake). The upshot? I've dropped 7 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I dropped below 220 last weekend, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke. At this point, I'm sitting at 218.5! I've been in this realm before, but it was just before I hurt myself. On that little 2 month hiatus I put all 7 pounds back on - basically because I wasn't watching what I was eating. I'm keeping my fingers crossed this time!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Twelve to Wrap up the Week

So I wrapped up this week with a twelve mile run. Many of the folks in my running club are in the middle of a marathon training cycle (either the OC Marathon or San Diego Rock n Roll). They had an 18 miler on the schedule today, so we all headed out the San Diego Creek trail.

I had a 12 mile 3/1 on the plan. The 3/1 format is supposed to be run so that the first 3/4s of the run is at long run pace and the last 1/4 at race pace. My issue today was that I ran the first 3/4s at long run pace (as determined by my heart rate), and stepped it up to half marathon race pace as I started the last quarter. One of the problems is our starting point is at a High School on top of a hill. While the hill itself isn't really that big (about 150 feet over a mile), having to climb it to end a run can sometimes present a challenge. Today I just ran out of gas on the way back up. Grrr... But, I still was *very* pleased with the end results. 12 miles in 2:01.52. That's a full five minutes faster than I've ever run this distance. My heart rate was well within aerobic range - average over the entire run was 79% of max. Whew.

This wraps us week 6. Half way through this training cycle. The gory details - 32.5 miles total. Two speed days, one recovery/junk day, one pace day and one long run day. I'm feeling some fatigue though. So I'm glad that I'm climbing on a plane tomorrow. I'm taking tomorrow and Monday off, and am also going to step back next week to 20 miles for one week. That should allow me to perform well at next Saturday's 10K *and* give me some rest. Tomorrow I'll write from my hotel room in Grand Rapids Michigan!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ready for Rest

I wasn't quite sure what yesterday had in store for me. I knew I had a 45 minute tempo run on the schedule. But, I've been physically tired all week and I have a bunch of little "niggles" (nothing that is an "injury", but lots of little aches, pains and fatigue). So I wasn't sure just how fast I was going to get my legs turning.

Once I got going, I found myself moving pretty well - all things considered. At the half way point (22:30 into the run), I turned around right at the 2.5 mile point. By this time I was really starting to suck wind, and I really had to put my head down and push back to the car. I was fighting headwinds. I was fighting fatigue. When I hit the 35 minute point, I was spent. With a 10 minute warm down and a little more than a mile left, I wasn't sure whether I would hit the magical five mile mark. One thing was for sure - based on the way my legs were feeling I definitely passed through lactate threshold!

Bottom line was I made five miles. Another first for me. I passed through 90% MHR for a few minutes doing it though. Oh well. This all has me looking forward to my next 10K - right now I'm running as well as I was the last time I PR'd at that distance. Of course, I'm also running as well as I was before I hurt myself running in a downpour. Now time for a rest day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Junk Miles

Yesterday was four junk miles. I couldn't get my legs moving. My heart rate spiked if I pushed my body. In a couple of words - I'm exhausted. I'm sitting here Thursday morning with sore, tired legs. I'm kind of glad that I'll get a couple days off this weekend.

So the bottom line for yesterday - 4 junk miles at 11:00, heart rate at 73% of max. The weather was nice - but the headwinds were horrible! All in all, not my best day of running. Oh well - we all have some days like this. At least I made it into the gym for some stretching and core work.

On tap today - 45 minute tempo run. I hope I can get my legs moving!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A little sore this morning

Yesterday was interval day with my club. After the last couple of Tuesdays, yesterday sounded pretty easy - 10 X 400 with 3 minutes rest. But, as I found out, the issue with running with a group are the paces that everyone else runs at. I was really dragging by number 8, but I finished all 10. Brought up the rear at 1:40s and 1:50s but finished. A little tired and sore this morning, but none the worse for wear.

I was looking forward to my Garmin data, but it appears it had a bit of a hiccup after the third interval. Okay okay. Pilot error after interval 3 (turned the Garmin off while running and on while resting for a couple of 400s), so my data is suspect. I still put in over 8 minutes at heart rates above 90% of max. At one point I hit 182 bpm on a short little 400!

I am soooo looking forward to my recovery run today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Four More (Plus One)

We've been blessed lately with some great weather, so I decided that yesterday's run should take place where I could enjoy that. Off to where else but Crystal Cove!

The plan was an easy four miles. The run went well. I felt like I was moving along and expending little effort (for a change). The weather was beautiful, so when I hit my planned turnaround point, I continued motoring forward. Luckily for me, there's only another half mile of trail, so I was pretty limited to a five mile run. Otherwise who knows how far I would have gone?

Anyways, at the 2.5 mile point, I turned around and headed back. Only then did I discover why my run was so effortless. I had been running with the wind at my back (no pun intended)! And yes - it was stiff enough to be pushing me along! So I had to put my head down and watch my heart rate ramp up as I headed back to the car. Made it back in just under 49 minutes at an average heart rate of 82% of max. Another decent run. I turned over a new leaf then and hit the gym for some stretching and core work. My toungue is still hanging out of my mouth.

On tap today - intervals at the track! Ugh....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Whaaa...? Isn't it Recovery Day?

Yesterday I went out for a quick recovery run only to find out that I had a pace run on the schedule! I found myself facing rolling hills and a beautiful view at Crystal Cove. But, as we used to say at Andersen Consulting - "Plan the work and work the plan." So I put my head down and took off on my four mile pace run.

I keep my pace on these runs by glancing at my Garmin every now and then to make sure that I am running in the right pace zone. My Half Marathon pace is set between 9:15 and 10:00 per mile. As long as I stay in that zone, my Garmin is happy and won't beep at me. Yesterday, I only heard one set of beeps - I started a little faster than I should have. I tucked back into the pace zone and finished the run.

I finished up in a little over 38 minutes. I checked out my data and found that my average heart rate was only 78% of MHR at a 9:43 pace. Man - it sure seemed like I was working harder than that!

And so week 5 wraps up. This is the third week in a row over 30 miles (32 miles). I am beginning to feel comfortable with the 30 mile per week base (after not quite two years on my feet) . This week will be another 30 mile plus week:

Monday: 4 mile easy. Hit the gym for stretching and core strengthening.
Tuesday: Whatever the interval Gods have in store. I want to total about 7 miles or so.
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run. Hit the gym for stretching and core strengthening
Thursday: 45 minute tempo run. Should be around 4.5 miles
Friday: Rest (yay!)
Saturday: 12 mile 3/1.
Sunday: Climb in an aluminum tube and make my way to Michigan.
Total planned: 31.5 miles

After this week, I get a little rest with a 21 mile week. I will have a little travel coming up (going to Grand Rapids, Michigan - any poker nearby?) and the La Habra 10K the following Saturday (3/28). As physically tired as I've been lately, I want to take two days off before the race so that I can perform a little better than just a hard training run. Then, after that, only five more weeks until my goal race - the PCRF Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


You know, sometimes things happen that make "it" all worthwhile. Whatever "it" is. You work and work and work and work. You question whether you'll ever see results. Any results. I'm know the feeling all too well.

And then, something happens. Most call it a "breakthrough." Well, yesterday was one of those days. I've been putting in a lot of work during this training cycle. This will be the third week in a row up above 30 miles. Two speed work days each week - one *hard* interval day and one tempo day. Burnout started showing it's ugly head this past week. I've got a bunch of little niggles all over - tired legs, sore back, creaking knees, tender hip. I was beginning to wonder....

Yesterday was long run day. This week was a little bit of a back off week. On tap was only 9 miles, but it was a 3/1. In Higdon terminology, a 3/1 is a run where the first 3/4s of the run is at long run pace, and the last 1/4 at goal race pace. So, the run ends up requiring a little more effort because of the last quarter.

I'm using a combination of Higdon and Pfitz training methodologies. I'm using Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon plan to guide me from a mileage and overall plan perspective. I've taken the Higdon plan and lengthened out most of the runs to stay in the mid 30 mpw range. Then, I'm using the Pfitzinger heart rate methodology to guide my effort. I keep my recovery runs at less than 75% of my maximum heart rate (MHR). My easy runs are between 75% and 85% MHR. Tempo runs are as close to 90% MHR (lactate threshold) as I can get them. And my intervals are up over 93% of max heart rate.

So now for my breakthrough. Normally, my long runs are in the 10:15 to 10:30 pace range. At that pace, my heart rate is right around 78% MHR and pretty easy and comfortable. I shuffled my way along the San Diego Creek trail. I got back to my car feeling pretty refreshed. I checked my Garmin. 1:28 and change. Wait a minute - that means that I had to run less than 10:00 per mile. On a long run? Yup! 9:48. Just all of a sudden. My perceived effort was no greater than the week before. The last time I ran nine miles (three weeks ago) my pace was a 10:13. Last week's 12 miler was 10:55! Now I know, 9 miles ain't 12, but I was still pretty amazed at yesterday's pace. So, I started looking at heart rate, assuming that I must have been up pretty high for most of the run to hit that pace - but:

Heart rate below 85% for the first three quarters of the run, and as expected, a little uptick as I climbed the hill back toward my start point and threw in a step or two faster.

Bottom line? I'm re-energized! Maybe I'll go run again today!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tempo Thursday (Again)

I've got to admit - I'm starting to suffer from some burnout here. Or maybe it's just I'm physically tired and would rather lie around and watch TV. Whichever it is (and yes - it's the latter) - I was perfectly content to lay around the house yesterday evening and watch whatever was on TV. I knew I had a tempo run on the plan, but I was physically and mentally beat. It was *very* difficult to talk myself into getting up off the couch and out the door. So eventually (about 5:30 PM - that's right folks - PM not AM) I forced myself into my car. A little more driving around to decide where I was going to pull this off (what a way to justify further procrastination) and I found myself in the Back Bay for this quick workout.

I was apprehensive - my legs have been feeling really burned the past couple of days. Also, ever since my track workout on Tuesday evening, I've been hungry. I mean to the point where anything that is within arms reach might get inhaled. I am trying to lose some more weight , so the upshot is I'm feeling a little weak and hungry. The combination of those two things does not always bode well when it comes to a tough workout. But, I put my head down and my iPod on and did the best I could. Well, maybe I could have done a little better. But, the bottom line was I finished. 4.9 miles in 45 minutes. I ended up with my heart rate right at 88% of max as I started my 10 minute warm down - so I think my objectives were met. Whew!

Today is my scheduled rest day. And I need it.....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mr. Rattlesnake!

Well, on a day I needed my camera - of course I didn't have it! After Tuesday night's tough session, yesterday was a nice easy four mile recovery run on the paved trails at Crystal Cove. Now, normally I do my weekday runs in the late afternoon or evening. But, last night was "boys night out" (more on that later), so I took my lunch hour and headed on down to Crystal Cove. The weather was brisk by Southern California standards - cloudy, overcast, and breezy - but it was perfect running weather.

One thing for sure - this route has some pretty spectacular views. I settled in and enjoyed the stormy skies above and the crashing waves below. About a mile and a half into the run, I rounded a corner to see him there. Yessiree! Mr. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake! Poor guy was stretched out on the asphalt path. Being cold blooded, he was obviously trying to gather whatever warmth he could from the meager rays of the sun on the black asphalt. Luckily, I *am* the running fat guy. He obviously felt the ground shuddering from the impact I was making as I plodded along. He was trying to slither away, but just couldn't muster the warmth to make a fast getaway. I got to watch (from close range) as the young snake (it was about 2 feet long and had 3 rattles) made his way slowly into the safety of the brush along the trail. What a cool distraction to an otherwise normal run! (By the way - the photo is not a photo of the snake I saw, but just a stock photo of Western Diamondback).

Today is Thursday - so that means tempo day! Looks like a 45 minute tempo run on the schedule. And tomorrow - more about boys night out (here's a hint - Ducks v. Canucks).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Running Round and Round and Round

Track day! Just the words get me tired. This was the second week that I've run with my track club. And after two weeks I can totally see why. Something about hard running makes it not so bad when a bunch of other people are cursing as well!

The damage - 2 mile warm up, 1 X 1200, 4 X 800, 1 mile warm down. Including recovery I put in 6 miles last night. Average pace 9:38 (including warm up, warm down, and recovery). I checked out time at greater than 90% MHR - 12.1 minutes. Man - no wonder I'm tired today!

Also - sorry for the late post today. This thing called work keeps getting in the way. On tap for today - 4 recovery miles.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Milestone Monday

As mentioned last week, some of these blogs are going to get really boring. Especially Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays when I'm putting in aerobic miles. Easy four miles. Recovery run. Yawn. Sometimes that's the way I feel.

Then of course, it can be like yesterday's run. The plan was an easy four miler. "Easy" means heart rate between 75% and 85% of max. These days those runs are taking less and less time. I'm going to pat myself on the back. I remember not so long ago when I thought that 9:00 for a training pace was a pipe dream. Yesterday I averaged a 9:03 pace over 4 miles. I'm there - not even two years after starting. It's these small accomplishments that I need to remember when I have to force myself out the door for another boring run.

Final stats yesterday - 4 miles at average heart rate 82% of max at an average pace of 9:03. I didn't make it to the gym though. This weekend is SAT Saturday. My youngest will be taking them so we spent some time in Math review mode last night. I know he's going to do well.

Tonight -intervals with Cal Coast!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Week 3 Done!

So - third week on this training cycle is done. Went out on a 4 mile recovery run late yesterday. It lived up to my expectations - steady but slow. I was still sore and physically tired from Saturday's 12 miler, so I wasn't expecting an earth shattering run. I did a normal two mile out and back along the Newport Back Bay. I managed to keep my heart rate down (72% of max, 133 bpm) which is all I was really targeting. I was going to hit the gym for some stretching and core work. But, I got a late start on my run (isn't daylight savings great?), so by the time I got to the gym, it was going to be an 8 PM finish. I decided to pass on the gym and get some dinner instead.

So - that wrapped up week 3. Ended up at 35 miles for the week. Whew - back to back 30+mile weeks. I'm a little sore here and there, but otherwise doing okay. On tap this week is a couple mile rollback - 32.5 miles:

Monday - 4 mile easy run; stretching and core work
Tuesday - 7 miles - intervals
Wednesday - 4 mile recovery run; stretching and core work
Thursday - 45 minute tempo
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 9 mile 3/1 run
Sunday - 4 miles at HMP; stretching and core work

Onward to week 4!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

BBBRD! (Beautiful Back Bay Run Day!)....

Yup! Yesterday was a beautiful day for a run. Bright, beautiful blue sky. Light breezes. Temperatures in the low 60's.

As usual, I met with the Cal Coast club at 7AM. The plan for most on the marathon plan was a 16 miler (8 miles out and back) on the San Diego Creek trail. I usually tag along with them, and make my turnaround at the appropriate point (4.5 miles if I'm going 9, 6 miles if I'm going 12). But, it was such a beautiful day that as I got to Back Bay Drive, I waved good bye and hung a quick left down the hill to do a 12 miler around the bay.

I was quite happy keeping things slow and steady. Just before I got to the 2 mile point, I ran into Lori from the OC Trail Runners going the opposite direction! She was booking along with her marathon training group. We high fived as we ran past each other. I trudged along enjoying the sounds and sights. It was neat to see sooo many people out today. There were tons of runners, bikers, roller bladers and walkers out on the trails today. Must have had something to so with the absolutely perfect day to be out of the house.

I finally feel like I am getting back to pre-injury shape. By the numbers, today's run *was* easy - average heart rate of 77% of max. My pace is still lagging a little (today's pace was 10:55, versus 10:29 at the same heart rate in early December), but I felt good the entire duration. About the only negative today was my legs were tired and I ran with sore legs pretty much the whole way. I'm hoping that a couple more weeks of this will get me back to where I was late last year.

On tap today is a short, sweet 4 mile recovery run followed by some time in the gym!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tempo Thursday

Well - another Thursday - another tempo run. I fired up the "jets" for a 45 minute tempo run up the San Diego Creek trail. I was a little apprehensive because I've been feeling physically tired this week. I think it's the six day a week structured program with two hard workouts that may be doing it. But, I figured as long as I could get my heart rate in the proper range, the workout would benefit me, so I went off around 4:45 PM.

Now, the problem with running at that time of the day around the ocean here can be summed up in one word - headwind!. The trail I run on is especially susceptible because it runs away from the coast on the way out, but back toward the coast on the way in. So, that means I have to deal with headwinds on the the way back to the car. And - yesterday they were blowing pretty stiff. I settled in and pulled off the run. It seemed like I was running at a crawl. My heart was pumping in the proper zones, my lungs were a little uncomfortable, but it just seemed like my legs weren't turning over. What the heck. The purpose of the run was to build lactate threshold, so as long as my heart rate was in the zone, I continued onward.

The real shock came when I got back and dumped my Garmin. Now, I'm not speedy or anything, but I was shocked to see that my total run , including the warm up and warm down was 9:10 (4.9 miles)! This is a new PR for *any* training run for me! Woot! Better yet, the "tempo" portion of the run was at an 8:46 pace. And that's including some time building up to pace, and then a short walk while I rearranged my music at the turnaround point. And my tired legs! Wow - I am pretty excited. I need to find that 10K race pretty soon!

Speaking of which, I think I've finally settled on the race I want to do. I think I'll hit the La Habra 10K on Saturday March 28. It's a smaller race on a "semi-challenging" course (a few hills). What I've been able to determine is that it's more a neighborhood affair, with a nice little expo and that small town feel.

Today is a much needed rest day. I'll be back Sunday morning after my 12 miler on Saturday!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Recovery Day at Crystal Cove

Yesterday was recovery day. After Tuesday's workout, I decided that taking it easy was in the cards for me. Also, I needed a little change of scenery. Ever since my diagnosis of spondylolisthesis, I've pretty much tried to keep my runs on flat surfaces - which pretty much means the Newport Back Bay. My back has been feeling much better these days (a little stiff after long runs is about all the discomfort I have), so I headed off to Crystal Cove to run on the bluff above the ocean (which involves a few minor hills). It was kind of cool and blustery, but the run was a welcome relief from the stresses of the day. Stresses? Yeah right. After reading some of the blogs I follow, I should be counting my blessings!

The run itself went off without a hitch. A little slower than normal, but a much of that is because I ran into a friend on the trail and helped a couple with directions. Final stats - 4.25 miles at an average pace of 10:58 and average heart rate 72% of max.

Today's workout is supposed to be a meat grinder too - 45 minute tempo run. My legs are fatigued though, so I'm not sure how "tempo" I'll be able to get things. But I'll go through the motions and get my heart rate going.

And I still need to find a replacement race for Spirit Run. I have it narrowed down to the Coaster Run 10K or the La Habra 10K. I'll be on the search to find anyone who has run these before....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kick Butt Workout!

Yesterday was supposed to be Interval Tuesday. The plan was 4 X 800 with a 2 mile warm up and a 1 mile warm down. These days Track Season is in full swing at the local High School where I run, so it's futile to try to get out on the track before 4:30. I've known for a while that my running club (Cal Coast Track Club) meets at the track at 5:45 for Tuesday intervals. So, I thought since I need to run later, why not wait just a few more minutes and join the group? It had to be better than doing all those laps alone.

Well - I was right. It was nice to run with all the other folks there! Altogether there were probably 40 people there last night. Sure beats going round and round and round alone. I even left my iPod in the car.

Now for the bad news - the workout. What did I get myself into? Turns out most of the group was training for the Carlsbad 5K coming up in about a month, so this was the peak of their training cycle. I stepped into a 3X800, 1X1200 and 1X1600 workout. I made it through the first 3 800's fine. By the time I was into the 1200 I knew I was in trouble. And the 1600? Well, if I ever get into a discussion of what hell must be like.....

But - I finished the workout. Whew. Including my warm up and warm down a total of 5.7 miles. But, with intervals the real test is the amount of time spent above 90% of my maximum heart rate. When I added the time up, gulp, just under 14 minutes. Wow! No wonder I left there feeling like my butt had been kicked and drug through a field of cholla cactus. Quality workout I guess!

Today I have a 4 mile recovery run scheduled. And heaven knows I need it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Four Mile Monday

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record here - but that just tells me that training is going well. Yesterday was a four mile easy run. Finished with a heart rate of 80% MHR at a pace of 9:19. This is the fastest that I've run this training distance. Maybe this heart rate training is starting to do some good? The best part of yesterday's run is that the only thing that was tired were my legs - but they were tired when I started!

Ever since reading Pfitzinger's book (Advanced Marathoning), I've been trying to use heart rate as my prime metric. Pfitzinger does a great job in his book discussing the importance of heart rate (actually heart rate reserve) as the key factor in gaining fitness and efficiency. This is the basis of the old "train slower to race faster" adage. I am often suprised at the number of runners who finish a workout with nothing left in the tank. I see it every weekend with my running club. For the first year I ran, I thought that I had to approach each training run like it was a race. I had no idea that by doing so I was leaving my race performance on the training trails. One thing for sure - once I started slowing down and staying within my targets, I saw my PRs drop - 3 minutes in the 10K, 6 minutes in the half marathon. Reading Pfitzinger's book really did a lot to help me start maturing as a runner. I would say that thanks to Pfitzinger and those whom I read religiously (both on the Runner's World Forums and here on the Blogger), I've made my way out of preschool and into kindergarten.

Finally, I'm going to need to shuffle my race schedule (and my training schedule) around a bit. I have to be in Grand Rapids MI on the 23rd, and to get there I'll need to leave pretty early Sunday the 22nd. This means that I can't run the Spirit Run. That's too bad, becuase it is a local run that benefits some of the schools my kids went to. Oh well. I guess I need to make a living to pay their college bills. I need to find anther 10K to run either the week before or the week after. I'll go on the search tonight!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Week 2 Down!

Put a wrap on week 2 of this half marathon training cycle! I put in two speed sessions (one interval, one tempo), three easy days, and a long run for a total of 33 miles. I'm a little sore here and there, but I think I'm in relatively good shape to launch into this week.

Yesterday was a short 4 mile recovery run. Unlike last Sunday (the 11:41 disaster), yesterday was more "normal" - 10:30 pace, 74% MHR for the run. I stopped by the local gym to do some stretching and some planks. I was able to pull off about five of them without back pain! I was pleased with the final outcome - both for the day and the week.

Now, please indulge me while I go on a rant. One of the places on the Internet I visit on a daily basis is the Runner's World forums. I usually spend my time in the California Running and Racing Forum, but every now and then I will look at other forums. Sometimes I am absolutely shocked at some of the "advice" being given. I had an especially difficult time a while back in the Weight Loss forum - where one guy was trying to convince everyone it was okay to only eat 900 calories a day. Then, a recent one in the Beginner's Forum had a new runner asking about proper pace for a long run. One person's advice to this runner was to start slow and speed up as he went. In fact, this person went as far as to let this new runner know that when *he* does a long run, he is usually gasping for air by the time he is done! WTF?!?!?! Luckily there were others that stepped in to point this new runner in the proper direction. Folks - please - if you don't know what you are talking about, pick up a book and learn before you start telling others what to do! Jeez!

Okay. I'm off my soapbox. Will be putting in a 4 mile easy run tonight. And, I think I'll hit the gym afterwards for some stretching and core work. This weeks plan:

Monday: 4 mile easy run; stretching and core work at the gym
Tuesday: Intervals! 2 mi wu, 4 X 800 at 10K Pace with 400 rest, 1 mi wd; 6 mi total
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery; stretching and core work at the gym
Thursday: Tempo! 45 minute tempo (about 4.5 miles)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 12 mile long run
Sunday: 4 mile recovery; stretching and core work at the gym

Total planned for the week: 34.5. Man - it's nice to be back on a schedule!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sort of Long Run Saturday

Yesterday was the day for my weekly long run with Cal Coast. My plan was nine miles instead of my normal twelve. The goal was to stay aerobic and keep my heart rate below 85% of max for the duration of the run. The run itself was a rather uneventful 4 1/2 mile out and back on the San Diego Creek trail. I actually spent time thinking about how refreshing it was to only be running 9 miles.

I've been pretty tired this past week and have been catching a few extra zzz's each morning. Yesterday it bit me! My alarm went off at it's usual time (4:30), but it was so nice and warm under the covers that I shut off the alarm and drifted off for a few more minutes of sleep. Next thing I knew it was 6:20. Yikes! Since we normally start at 7 AM, I got up, rushed to get my coffee and get my gear ready. On a long run (regardless the distance) I wear my fuel belt with all four bottles full - if for no other reason to just train with it on. Well, in my rush to get out the door, I left it behind! So, I was destined to put in my nine miles without any water. I was hoping that things stayed cool and damp.

Well, luckily for me, the morning stayed cool as we ran from the coast and headed inland. I put the miles in and, with the exception of the last uphill push back to our start, kept my heart rate down below target. I also consciously thought about my form while running. I had caught myself doing the shuffle earlier this week - not bending my knees as I plodded along on one of my short runs. The real shock came at the end of the workout when I started looking at my Garmin data - 9 miles run pretty effortlessly in 1:31:53 - an average pace of 10:13! No way did I feel like I was running at that fast. Especially since my heart rate was only midway between 75% and 85% of max the entire duration. In fact, the final stat on heart rate was an average of 149bpm (80% MHR) overall. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with the run.

This afternoon will be a short four mile recovery run followed by a trip to the gym to get stretched out. Yesterday's nine miles put me at 108 miles for February. I haven't been at these miles feeling well for a while. Also, today's 4 miles will put me at 33 miles for the week - the first time I've been up over 30 miles since the first week of December! Woo hoo!