Monday, August 31, 2009

Time to Get Back on Track

Well - whatever form of the creeping grunge that hit me over the weekend seems to have passed and left me no worse for wear. That means it's time to get back on track. I'll pick up the training plan up where it is. Spilled milk is spilled milk. We can't put it back in the cow. Likewise, missed miles are missed miles. We can't go back and get them.

This week will be a short running week because I also have a backpacking trip planned this weekend. That's right - it's Mt. Whitney time! I'm looking forward to this bucket list item. After all, this was the reason I started rowing and running two years ago. While this is not going to be a technically difficult trip, it presents its own set of challenges. It is only 11 miles from the parking lot to the summit. That's not the problem. The challenge is elevation. At the summit of Mt. Whitney (14,496 feet), there is about a third less oxygen than at sea level. There will be lots of gasping and moving at like 1 mile per hour....

So, that means this week's running will be on the light side:
Monday: Rest day.
Tuesday: Intervals. On the track for 5 X 800. 8 miles total.
Wednesday: 11 mile medium long run
Thursday through Sunday: Mt. Whitney! Thursday I'll be travelling late to the trail head. Friday we'll get a leisurely start and go about half way up and camp. Saturday we'll attack the summit. Make it all the way up? Hope so! We'll the hike out on Saturday and have a leisurely Sunday before returning home.

And b.O.b - here's a teaser for tomorrow's blog post:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

There Was More To It, I Guess

After Friday's aborted run, I was looking forward to knocking out 17 on Saturday. During the day I started feeling more and more run down. I finally crawled into bed early (around 8:30) exhausted. I had been feeling hot during the day, but just chalked it up to living without air conditioning (it was around 94 here in Newport Beach on Friday). But then I started having the chills. I popped in the thermometer, and sure enough - 100 degrees. Not much of a fever, but now things were starting to make sense. The soreness after my easy 8 miler on Wednesday. Just being exhausted all the time for the past few days. Not being able to get comfortable for a good night's sleep.


With six more weeks left in my training plan, I'm taking a bit of a mid-plan taper to get better. I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days to see transpires (hopefully I haven' been "swined"). I bagged yesterday's run. I'll wait until later today to decide whether to try to get an easy run in.

There's another factor at play too. This morning my eyes were burning from the smoke from the fires burning north of Los Angeles, and I'm more than 40 miles away. You have no doubt heard about the wildfires here in Southern California. For us this is kind of like a "season." When it gets hot and dry (yesterday was 96 with 9% humidity in Pasadena), we can count on fires. It's just a normal occurrence here in Southern California. I captured some photos of the smoke being generated. This first photo is from Costa Mesa - about 40 miles from the fires:




Here's one from about 30 miles away:


This photo is from downtown L.A., about 20 miles from the fire lines:





As I type this on Sunday afternoon, I am happy to report there is a definite sea breeze blowing in. This means lower temperatures and higher humidity - something that will definitely help the fire fighters and hopefully let those evacuated (about 12,000 homes at last count) breath a little easier.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Legit Unscheduled Rest Day

Soooooo....

It seems like I'm holding things together here with duct tape and bailing wire*. On the schedule this morning was an 11 mile medium long run. I was out the door and ready to start at 6:20. There was only one problem..... At least today it was physical.....

After yesterday's run I was *absolutely WIPED OUT* the rest of the day. I kind of chalked it up to the hard workout and running in VO2Max for 16 minutes. But evidently something else was a brewin' inside. And it was going to let itself out this morning. I was laced up ready to go and was just waiting for the Garmin to lock onto all of its satellites when I started to get "that feeling" in the old GI tract. Fortunately, since I'm an old fart I know what's coming next after getting "that feeling". And there weren't going to be any "facilities" other than cat holes and I didn't bring any *ahem* "paper" with me. I knew one thing - if I didn't hoof it back home pretty quickly, I would have a real "situation" on my hands. So, I hopped back in the car and did the 5 minute drive back home. There were a couple of dicey points, but a with little cheek squeeze and thinking about how appropos a recent blog from lindsay was, I managed to make it back home before the eruption. Since then it's kind of been like a volcano. You know, after the main explosion there are a few minor eruptions before the volcano goes back to sleep. Well, shall we say I'm just waiting for the minor eruptions to subside.

Now this is the type of unscheduled rest day I can deal with. Physical things are going to happen. There's not much that we can do about them (well, maybe I could have avoided the Curry Ramen at lunch yesterday). It's the mental things that we can and need to control. Especially when dealing with things like a marathon. As Yogi Berra put it so succinctly, "Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical." It's no different at mile 19.

So, I'm going to spend some time today trying to get the stomach back into shape. I *need* to get my 17 miler in tomorrow morning. And I *have got to*be in shape for Saturday night - can you say "FUNK!" Yea BABEE!!! George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic! Long before today's crop of rappers and hip hop artists (heck - even before Rick James) the Grandfather of Funk was getting it on! Check out this YouTube clip - Keep in mind - this video is from 1976!!!! Here's another one - also from 1976 kids! I can hardly wait! I'm hoping that this becomes one of Clinton's typical 3 hour Funk-Fests!

*Oh - and it occurred to me that I'm showing my age with this saying. My father grew up during the Great Depression and always took great pride in being able to repair things rather than buying something new. So as long as he could tape is back togther or use wire coat hangers to hold it toghether, we were good to go. Hence the saying - "Dad, that wheelbarrow is held together with duct tape and bailing wire! Let's go buy a new one!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wow it's Hot Around Here!

As most of you know, I am an afternoon/evening runner. I use running as my therapy. I leave my frustrations and stresses on the trails. So it was disappointing yesterday when I went out to put in my afternoon run. I exited from my nice air conditioned office to find out it was 91 degrees out! And that was on the water at the beach!

With everything that has been wreaking havoc lately, I decided that a run in the heat was not going to help me. I also found that the heat is supposed to be here for a few days (weatherman says until Sunday). Maybe running in the morning would be bad after all.

So, I headed out at 5:30 this morning to put in my 9 mile track workout. On the plan was a 3 mile warm up, 5 X 1200 intervals with a 400 yard rest, followed by a mile warm down. I personally find that 1200's are the toughest. It was no different this morning. I managed to get all 5 in, but had to slow a bit on the fifth one to keep my cookies down:

Interval 1: 6:32 (8:44 pace)
Interval 2: 6:26 (8:39 pace)
Interval 3: 6:26 (8:39 pace)
Interval 4: 6:31 (8:43 pace)
Interval 5: 7:02 (9:24 pace)

Even though the times are not that impressive, I can tell you that I was *wiped out* when I was done. But I finished. Woo hoo!

Tomorrow morning will be another early one. I need to put in an easy 11 miles. And get it done before the sun starts baking the asphalt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time to Get Tougher

I was back on the trails yesterday. I put in 8.25 miles in the late afternoon. My data is suspect - I forgot to pause my Garmin at a long traffic light, so I have a 12:01 mile contributing to my overall 10:21 pace. At least the heart rate was right - 80% overall for the run. And yes - I know I can set the autopause on my Garmin. The problem is a lot of times when I wait for a traffic light I'm not always still. I will walk around in circles, or move over to a rock or bench and take a load off my feet. I've gotten in the habit of reaching down and pausing my Garmin - I just forgot to do it at one stop yesterday.

Back to the title. When I got home last night, my legs and hips were sore and exhausted. This morning they are wiped out. Not sore like I need new shoes. But sore like I just climbed to the top of a 100 story building. The run was not tough. I took a couple days off, so I should be rested. I've been eating like there's no tomorrow, so I don't think it's a fueling problem.

So, I went back through my posts for the past couple of weeks and have noticed a disturbing trend - difficulty getting motivated (especially for longer runs), easy workouts becoming hard, paces slowing, physical exhaustion. Then to cap it all, I couldn't sleep last night. At all. Fitful naps here and there. Lots of muscle soreness. Ms. V - I think you got it right. Yeah - burnout. These are many of the classic signs. I can't let this happen now. I only have six more weeks! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I need to deal with this and deal with it now.

I'm going to get mentally tougher. I'm also going to ease up on pace the next couple of weeks. Last thing I want to avoid is injury. It would be a real shame to get his close to just end up injured. My Mt. Whitney trip will be happening next weekend - that should provide a little variety to the drudgery. It really is downhill from here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Decent Race Photos

You've no doubt seen them. All along the race course. The "official" photographers. Those guys that snap those photos that we never buy. Well, at least *I* never buy. And you all know why - have you ever seen a good race picture? I sure have taken some horrible pictures, probably capped by my San Diego Rock N Roll finish pictures, complete with crooked sunglasses, bloody nipplosity and all.

But, even though I know that they aren't going to turn out well, I still try to ham it up a little whenever I pass a photographer. A fake smile here. A wave there. At least I'll look like I'm having fun.

So, I was expecting more of the same this morning when I got the email from fotojack that the Jet to Jetty photos were ready. Instead, what I got was shocking. Some decent photos!

This must have been early on in the race. Notice the shirt is still dry:

This one was later on around mile 5. I'm looking down the bluff at the finish line. Oh soo close but yet so far away! I actually look like I'm running - I have one foot off the ground!

And here I am with Kathleen of Write-Sizing. After I finished, I was warming down and found her on her way in. I ran with her into the finish chute. At this point she was doing great! Unlike me, she could carry on a coherent conversation.

Not too bad if I say so myself! Next time I'll have to shave. Make up! Make up!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yawn!

What a strange day yesterday. On the plan was a 17 mile long run. I had every intention of doing the miles. I wanted to get it in early - the weather has been a little strange here in So Cal lately. You don't normally equate Southern California and tropical weather, but a couple times a year, we *do* get affected by some monsoonal flow brought on by hurricanes and tropical storms off the coast of Mexico. For sure, we *never* see the full effect of those things (the last time L.A. was hit by a tropical storm was 1939), but we do get some of the moisture and every now and then a little wind as storms to our south unwind. Well - that's been going on this week. Thursday and Friday we received some rain and thunderstorms, and we have been fighting the humidity. At least it hasn't been too hot.

So, the alarm went off at 5 AM. I had every intention of being out of the house at 6 for what would have been about 3 hours on the trails. Mistake #1: I hit the snooze button. Ooops! The next thing I knew, it was awfully bright outside! Well, at least I spent a nice three hours dreaming. No problems - I figured I could just move my run until the afternoon. Take off around 4PM or so and be back while it was still light. Mistake #2: I was enjoying a relaxing day on the couch when around 3:00 - Yawn! Yawn! Sigh. Yawn! Next thing I know it was 4:30. I think I was abducted by aliens! Yeah - that's what happened!

Bottom line was the running mojo just wasn't there. I took a rain check. It's been a long time since I just enjoyed a relaxing day at home. It was actually kind of nice!

So, my week was a little short. I finished up with 31 miles spread out over four days. Kind of a blah week, but that's okay.

On the plan this week is another 50 miles:

Monday - Rest day
Tuesday - 8 mile GA
Wednesday - Off to the track for 5 X 1200 intervals. 9 miles total.
Thursday - 11 miles GA
Friday - Rest day
Saturday - 3 mile warm up, 14 mi marathon pace for 17 total
Sunday - 5 mile recovery

This can stack up to be a tough week with 2 quality workouts. I'm going to keep my head down and feet moving!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I've been Absent, But I Can Explain!

I've been absent. But I can explain! You see, my dog ate my homework. Yeah. That's it!

Actually, I've just been a pretty busy puppy. Especially these past few days. Work has been a real bugger (but that's the joy of owning your own business right?). Add to that that school is starting up soon, so we've been doing all those things that parents do to make sure that your kids are ready. Even if they are college age. All you young 'uns out there reading my blog - you'll understand one day. I've had to prioritize. At least blogging is high enough on the list that it isn't getting *completely* ignored (like Facebook and Runner's World Forums have been).

Fortunately, I'm not burned out enough to sack running (although it's been real tempting). I put in a four mile recovery run on Friday afternoon. You know - it's been so long since doing a run that short. It was kind of invigorating to know that I wasn't going to be out on the trail for hours!
Then yesterday, I ran the Jet to Jetty 10K in Playa del Rey. For those who may not know where Playa del Rey is - if you've ever flown out of Los Angeles International Airport - you took off right over the top of where we ran. The race was a flat (for the most part) out, back, then out and back again course run on the streets next to the ocean. It was a *perfect* day for a race. Temps in the low 70's. Overcast. A slight headwind from the south - just enough to cool things down when running south, and provide a psychological tail wind boost heading north.

The race was a smallish affair (445 in the 5K and 345 in the 10K) with a local feel. Just like I like 'em! I arrived early to sign up and had a chance to wander around and get in a mile warm up run. I wandered up the hill to watch the start of the 5K. This was one thing that was a little awkward. The finish line was on the beach, but the start line was way up there on the bluff.

The 5K took off 30 minutes prior to the 10K. I settled in and watched the runners killing themselves (have I told you that 5K isn't my favorite distance?). They were impressive to watch. Let me tell you - they are moving! Here's a short video of the leaders as then ran past:

video

At that point, the 10K start was only about 15 minutes away, so I mulled around the start line. And then she appeared! Kathleen, who writes the Write Sizing blog! I really dig her blog because this is a person who has lost close to 100 pounds through diet and exercise. And when I say diet - I'm not talking Jenny Craig here. I am talking by some serious diet modification. And then having the strength to stick to it. I'm about half way to her weight loss, and whenever I feel my motivation waning, all I do is pop over to Write Sizing and get re-motivated!

On to the race. At this point, I am in the race preparation phase of training. I wasn't planning on running a PR , so I was taking things pretty low key. I wanted to run competitive with my past time, but didn't want to kill myself. I was going to use the same race plan that I had used in the past: (1) Go out a little faster than goal for the first 2 miles, (2) Fall into a group running at a comfortable pace in the middle three miles, (3) Reel in those in front of me at mile 5. Most importantly though, I wanted to avoid my now infamous mile six flameout. Based on my data, I was mostly successful:

Mile 1: 8:45
Mile 2: 8:43
Mile 3: 9:01 (The group I was running with was a little slower than I felt)
Mile 4: 8:58
Mile 5: 9:03
Mile 6: 8:37 (Turned it up just a tad)
Mile 6.2: 8:15 (No flameout!)



Final time: 55.06 official, 54:55 by my Garmin. The 55.06 is a little disappointing because my 10K PR is 55:00! The reason was there was no where in this race where I felt that I was pushing hard. If I had just kicked it up a notch I would have easily had a new PR. Oh well. Learn something new each day. The next time I fall into a group that is running at comfortable pace, I'll check my watch. All in all a nice day on the other side of town!

By the way - additional photos and videos are posted here on my Flickr site.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wow!

That's the only word that needs to be said. Not that I can say a whole lot more this morning. I'm hoarse. I think I strained the old vocal cords last night.

Four decades. With that much time together, your act should be honed to perfection. And it was. Now, I've seen some acts that were pretty memorable in my time. The Who. Neil Young. Elvis Presley. I've seen some pretty theatrical performances. The Tubes. Blue Man Group. And I've been around a while - I saw my first concert (Neil Young at the Forum in L.A. in 1972). But, this was the *best* all around musical performance I've ever seen.

Sure - the venue helped. We were within 20 feet of the stage. Standing for 4 hours really sucked, but once the little band from Texas made it out on stage, who cared? LOUD! And ROCKIN'! It was apparent from the very start that despite playing the same songs night in and night out for 40 years - they still LOVE what they do. They were smiling. They engaged the crowd. Bottom line was they were enjoying themselves on the stage. It was apparent from the git go that they do what they love and love what they do.

To be honest, except for Billy Gibbons, the musical talent isn't epic (Dusty Hill isn't John Entwistle (yes - I've seen The Who), and Frank Beard isn't even in the same category as Zack Starkey (who? can anyone tell me?)), but the three of them have been together for so long that together they work seamlessly. They are so tight that when Beard and Hill stop so Gibbons can showcase his guitar talent, the cuts are exact and perfect. And the starts are the same. The show works. The music rocks. And these guys are classic together.

I have a few photos to share. Sorry for the bad quality, but they snagged my camera on the way in (I did get it back later), so once again, I had to rely on the iPhone:





Bottom line? I'm kinda of glad that Aerosmith had to cancel. I'm not sure that the same energy would come across at a larger venue like the Verizon amphitheater. But, in a small venue (HOB has a max capacity of 2300) these guys are *the best* overall show that I've ever seen. I'd plop down another C note to see these guy tonight at HOB Hollywood if my wife would let me!

Oh - and my boys now know I am strange. From starting the "ZZ Top" chant with the crowd to yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs to the Sharp Dressed Man sing along, I couldn't help but notice that they kept staring as the night progressed. Yes boys - the Old Man knows how to rock and have a good time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Good" Pain?

Is there such a thing? If there is that's what I have this morning. My legs are rebelling after my 11.5 miles last night. I kept the pace slow and easy since it was a followup to my interval session on Tuesday. I still ran out of juice at the end of my run. I'm not stressing about it though, because I'm happy that I even got out for the run. I only got five hours of sleep the night before. My food for the day consisted of six (that's right - count 'em - six) rice cakes with about two tablespoons of almond butter and some honey plus a couple of plums and a peach. I was stuck at my desk late and didn't get started until well after 6 PM. I was concerned that all those things were going to stack up against me. But I just kept my head down and my pace slow and steady. Two hours later I was back at the car. Tired, cramping, and *completely* spent. But I pulled it off.

Today I'm paying for it though. My quads are really sore and tired. Even if I wanted to head out for a run right now I wouldn't be able to. But unlike a couple of weeks ago, my adductors and lower back are feeling good. Am I making progress here? If so, it sure is about time!

Today is a scheduled rest day. I'm charging up the camera. I'll try to bring back some photos of that little band from Texas.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eight Mile Circle Fest

Last night I was back on the track for an interval session. With a 10K coming up this Saturday, this week's workouts are just a tad easier. Instead of the six 800s before, last night's workout was 5 X 800. What a difference that one interval makes! Also, my afternoon snacking seems to have energized me come run time.

The stats:

Interval 1: 4:13
Interval 2: 4:10
Interval 3: 4:13
Interval 4: 4:13
Interval 5: 4:13

That was the consistency that I was looking for the last time I ran these things. And, like two interval sessions ago, last night's session was pretty effortless. Add to that I was able to get into VO2Max range for about 12 minutes last night. Check mark next to quality workout. With the 3.25 mile warm up, mile warm down, and 400 yard rest steps, I put in a total of 8 miles.

On the plan tonight - an 11 mile general aerobic run. I think I'll do another Back Bay loop. Just so I can beat it into submission.

I'm changing things up a little toward the end of the week. Normally, Friday is a rest day, Saturday is a long day, and Sunday is a recovery day. This week's plan has me running a 10K this weekend. I found one that got some good reviews, so I'll be running the Jet to Jetty 10K. A few folks I know should be there, including Kathleen of Write-Sizing fame. It is always cool to put faces with names! Long run moves to Sunday this week.

Finally, I'm going to need to swap Thursday and Friday this week. I was one of those "lucky" folks to have tickets to the now cancelled Aerosmith/ZZ Top tour. In case you hadn't heard, Steven Tyler fell off the stage in Sturgis (I didn't know the guy was a biker!) and broke his shoulder. The tour was cancelled last week. (By the way - I highly recommend LiveNation for concert tickets. My refund including all fees was promptly and painlessly done. Concert cancelled Friday - money back on Monday.) I was really bummed on Friday, because I was really looking forward to seeing ZZ Top. Well, *early* Saturday morning (while I was getting ready to head out the door for my 20 miler) I received an email from LiveNation that ZZ Top was going to do their own tour. Before this story gets too long, I was able to snag three tickets to see ZZ Top tomorrow at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney! I'll be taking my two boys for a night of raucous, and I hope, LOUD Tejas Blues! Yippee! I'll try to bring back some pics!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm Now Official

I've been running around for a year with a chip on my shoulder courtesy of America's Finest City. When I ran my first (and last) marathon (San Diego Rock N' Roll 2008), I really had no idea what I was in for. My 30 mile peak weeks were woefully inadequate. I approached every training run like it was a race. I thought I was in good shape when I was able to finish 14 or 16 miles in a 10:14 pace by running BTTW. Little did I know what was in store for me on race day. I finished, but I really felt like the course and distance got the better of me.

Well, the one thing I really detest is not being in control. And San Diego was the ultimate beat down. The streets were in control. The weather was in control. The distance was in control. I was not. So I knew at some point I would be back. That day is today. I'm now official for the Long Beach Marathon. I pressed the submit button. I shelled out the dough.

I know I could have done it earlier and saved some money, but being an old fart, I am never sure how my body is going to hold up to the rigors of training. And especially this time. I chose the Pfitzinger 24/55 training plan (24 weeks, 55 mile peak weeks) because it is difficult and demanding. As I move into the last 8 weeks of training, I'm still wondering if I'm going to hold up. As you all know, there have been some trials and tribulations the past couple of weeks. Little tweaks here. Little niggles there. Lots of tired all around. But, to put in a 20 miler and feel strong afterwards - well I have a new lease on my running life.

This isn't about ego. This isn't about having fun (face it - 5 hours on my feet in the sun with chafed thighs, blisters the size of the soles of my feet and bloody nipples is not my idea of fun). This is about getting even. This is about taking this marathon monster and beating it into submission. This is about finishing on my terms. Even if that is a 4:45 marathon.


So there we go. Mental training. Submit button clicked.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Guess I Have a Life

I was supposed to put in a 5 mile recovery run yesterday. But I guess I don't do a good job of maintaining my social calendar and was "reminded" that I had a prior commitment in the evening that I had to attend - an Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Now, if there is one thing that is near and dear to my heart, it's Scouting. I am an Eagle myself, and Scouting did more to round me out as a youth than any other activity. It kept me out of trouble. It taught me how to take care of myself. It helped me when it came to college. It helped me get jobs. Scouting seems to take a back seat these days to a lot of the other activities that are available to youth, but as long as those activities are providing value and moral guidance, it beats the alternative. It's just when I was growing up, my choices were hanging out in front of the drugstore (cheap Cheech and Chong reference) or Scouting. And since Scouting seemed like a cool thing to do (you know, camping, hiking, etc.), and the fact that it was the assigned youth program for my church (Latter Day Saints), Scouting it was!

So, it was time to honor the hard work, perseverance, and commitment of some young men that I am proud to be associated with (one of them even started out in my Cub Scout pack 10 years ago). For that, I will happily give up some miles! Well Done!

That wraps up a decent week of running. I put in 50.25 miles (even with three days off), including an epic FAIL on Wednesday followed by a pick myself up by the bootstraps Thursday and a long 20 mile Saturday.

Schedule for this week:

Monday: Rest day. Maybe some erging. Maybe not.
Tuesday: Hit the track for 5 X 800 intervals with 400 active rest. 3.25 mile warm up and 1 mile warm down for a total of 8 miles.
Wednesday: 11 mile medium long run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4 mile recovery run
Saturday: 10K race (haven't found one yet).
Sunday: 17 mile long
Total: 46.2 miles

Eight more weeks to Long Beach! I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Booya! Take that Twenty Miles!

I started the day filled with doubt and trepidation. I mean, face it, my runs have not been going all that well lately. A lack of patience has been at play. I mean, I'm putting in a fair number of miles each week, but I don't really see any improvement. I've had a couple of fails on recent runs. It seems like I've had to slow down from where I was a few weeks back just to finish. The miles and hours have become a grind.

I had a 20 miler on the plan. Once again, I was going to have to skip running with my Saturday morning group, since a 7:30 start was not going to cut it. I was up early, grabbed some coffee and breakfast, and was out the door at 6:00.

With Wednesday's experience still fresh in my mind, I started at a very slow pace. Almost from the outset (like maybe 4 miles in), I found myself thinking through alternatives to the full 20. After all, if I went just 16 miles, that would still satisfy the overall goal of being on my feet for a long time, right? I can't tell you how many scenarios I went through. I would have gladly paid some miles tomorrow for a few less today(any Popeye fans out there?).

Well, bottom line is while I was making up excuses, I ran past the eight mile marker.

Then the nine mile marker. And it wasn't long before the magical 10 mile marker appeared. I turned and slogged my slow but steady pace back to the car.

There it was. Run over. But, there was a huge difference. Normally, I am absolutely wiped out after a long run. The rest of my day usually involves eating, drinking, and napping (heavy emphasis on napping). But yesterday I actually felt somewhat normal. I am sure this is due to two changes I made yesterday. First, I normally head out fast and fade badly. Yesterday, I started at an 11:15 pace and held that throughout. Second, with Thursday in mind, I modified my fueling strategy. I had been taking calories about half way through anything over 16 miles. Yesterday though, I split up my fuel and fueled at 6, 10, 12 and 17 miles (the 12 mile stop was also to refill water bottles). These changes seem to make all the difference in the world.

So there - maybe the monkey really is off my back. Somewhere here there's a life lesson. But that would require me to engage the brain. Maybe tomorrow.....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monkey Off My Back?

After Wednesday night's debacle, I was hesitant to go out and try another 12 miles. During the day I contemplated the best thing for me to do: (1) Feign exhaustion and throw in the towel, (2) Convince myself that nine or ten miles was good enough, (3) Feign exhaustion and throw in the towel, or (4) HTFU and do 12 miles around the bay with 3rd fingers extended.

Well, I opted for #4. I did make a few adjustments though. As you may have read yesterday, I was beginning to wonder how much fueling was at issue. Normally, my runs over 9 miles are all done in the AM. And, if you know me, those runs usually start off with either a glazed buttermilk bar or an apple fritter. What's happening these days is I'm putting in ten to twelve miles in the late evening with my last meal usually being lunch. So yesterday, I had a Clif bar around 4:30. That put a few calories in my system. Also, I packed away a Gu (Vanilla Bean - yum!) to use during the run. And finally, I slowed waaaaayyyy down. This final item was part of the plan, since Wednesday night's run was (supposed to be) a hard run.

Bottom line, all the little tweaks seemed to do the trick. 12 miles around the Back Bay at an average heart rate of 73% of max. This is the first successful Back Bay Loop run I've had in the last four or five attempts. The monkey is off my back. Or more like the refrigerator is off my back.

Today is a rest day. I'm happy about that. I'm a little sore, but mostly I'm a lot of tired. It was tough getting up this morning. I'll gladly take a rest day today. Especially since Saturday is another 20 miler. Sigh. The life of a marathon hopeful. A 4:45 marathon hopeful.....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quality Session FAIL

These longer runs in the evenings are killing me folks!

On the schedule yesterday was a 12 mile run - 5 miles easy followed by 7 miles at half marathon pace. Everything started out fine. I was back to my old trick of having to slow down during my first five miles. Nothing out of the normal there. I had a long way to go at a tough pace to follow. I hit mile 5 and stepped up the pace into the 9:30 range. Mile 6 check. Mile 7 check. Hmm. Breathing awfully hard. Slow down. Heart rate at 175. Slow down more. Mile 9 check. And then the wheels fell off the bus. All of a sudden my legs didn't want to work anymore. Shit - how am going to run a marathon if I can't even make it half way at a reasonable pace!?!?!? Final stats - 12 miles total. Last 7 at marathon pace. But that's misleading -I was fading rapidly at the end. My last mile was a swift 12:50.

I'm a little dejected today. My head is filled with doubts about a marathon. The miles and hours are turning in to drudgery. I find myself wondering if I should cut back a few miles here or a few minutes there. Sounds like it's burnout time. I'm trying my best to keep my head down and feet moving.

Then to be sure - there were several tactical mistakes made yesterday. First off, for some reason I thought that my HM pace was 9:15. Whoops! Only 30 seconds off! So, I went out too hot considering the conditions (10 mph headwind). Second were the headwinds. I really needed to ratchet things down a notch to compensate. And I can't help but think that diet (or lack thereof) is a factor here. I'm putting in a lot of miles late in the day. My diet has left a lot to be desired lately - both in quality and quantity. I've become an Otter Pop (yeah - that's right) freak lately. Hey- at 25 calories a pop they are yummy. And cold! Then, when I start thinking about quantity - I've been ravenously hungry the past few days, but I would bet that prior to my run, I may have had 1200 calories. And most of those were rice cakes with almond butter. Hardly enough to fuel my daily activity and a hard 12 mile run. And I'm definitely short in the protein department. I think I'll dust off Sparkpeople again and get back to some calorie tracking.

Enough of my rambling. What have I learned? Marathon training involves a lot more than just putting in some miles. To do this right I need to watch all my systems. Sleep. Diet. Rest.

On the plan today - 12 miles. I'm going to take it *way easy* and do a round the bay run tonight. If you see a blog entry tomorrow you'll know I finished!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So Far So Good

So yesterday's six easy miles seems to have settled well. My legs are a little tired this morning, but my lower back seems fine. Another test will come tonight with my quality workout for the week - 5 miles easy followed by 7 miles at half marathon pace. That's about all there is from the running world today. Short and sweet. Can you tell that I am in the drudgery stage of training?

Final stats on yesterday's workout - 6 miles at an average pace of 10:06 and average heart rate of 75% of max. Right where I wanted this recovery run to be. Oh - and I did make it to the gym for some stretching and core work. I think that helped my soreness a bit.

On another note - I'm sweating a bit. For my youngest son's 17th birthday I agreed to take him and a group of his friends to a concert. The concert? Aerosmith and ZZ Top and the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine on the 23rd. Booya! I've already loaded up the iPhone with a virtual lighter app for encore time. The problem? I guess Steven Tyler fell off a stage in South Dakota last week and broke some bones. I know that last weekend a bunch of concerts in Canada were postponed. I've been scouring the news to see what may be happening to other dates on the tour. I will be sooooo bummed if the 23rd is cancelled or postponed! I am *really* looking forward to this concert. If you've ever seen either of these bands live you'd know why. If anyone hears anything new - drop me a line!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Had to Take a Rain Check

I'm physically falling apart a little bit here. After my run Saturday evening I had a really hard time sleeping. I'm not sure if it was because I was keyed up after a late run, but I can tell you my sore back didn't help. Then, I got up yesterday after a fitful night of sleep and my lower back was so sore it was painful to sit. It hurt to stand. It hurt to walk. It hurt to sit. It just plain hurt. I should have taken some ibuprofen, but I was sure that it would get better as the day went along. I've been suffering a lot of DOMS lately - this generally means I'm hitting it too hard. I can't help but think that week off isn't helping right about now.

I tried waiting as long as I could, but finally at 7:30 yesterday evening I threw in the towel. I still couldn't walk easily without pain - I didn't see how I was going to be able to put in seven miles in the shape I was in. I suppose waxing a car and fixing lawn sprinklers didn't help.

So, I wrap up last week a little short: 37 instead of the planned 44 miles. I did get my quality session in, so I'm not going to stress about it. My back is still a little sore this morning, but nothing like it was yesterday. I'm going to take my Monday rest day, and move ahead on the rest of my week:

Monday: Rest. Get this back better.
Tuesday: 6 mile recovery run. I know it's a big week if it starts with a recovery run
Wednesday: 12 miles. 5 easy followed by 7 at HMP.
Thursday: 12 general aerobic miles
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 20 mile long run. This is the second of three on this plan.
Sunday: 5 mile recovery run

This is another peak weak at 55 miles. Other than my back, I'm feeling pretty strong, so I'm going to attack this week like a mutha! Also, after this it's downhill to marathon day on October 11th! Two more fifty mile weeks, but also a lot of 40 mile weeks (more my style). Long Beach here I come!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

That Was Much Better

After Thursday's little debacle, I was hesitant heading out for another semi long run. I was also worried that my run was coming at the end of another long day. I couldn't even get out of the house until 6:15, and didn't get underway until about 6:45 PM. The weatherman (yeah I know - sexist term - but this way we can blame a guy) had forecast cloudy and cool temps. And while it was cooler than it had been during the week, it was still in the upper 70's when I got started. This run was shaping up to be a repeat of my Thursday night cramp fest.

Rather than tempt fate by doing another around the Back Bay run, I headed up the San Diego Creek trail. I started out a little slower than Thursday, and before I knew it (well, actually not) 13 miles was done and over with.

Final stats for this run - 13 miles in a ssssslllllloooowww 11:01 pace. Heart rate at 78% of max. I'm starting to get concerned about a couple of things here. First off, I am running at the same pace and same heart rate as when I started this whole training business 13 weeks ago. I wish I could say I was feeling more fit, or getting faster, or something. But I'm not. And what has me most concerned is there's some burn out at work. I need a race, but it's not race season here in Southern California. America's Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego is in a week, but that has been sold out now for several weeks. There are some 5Ks here and there, but what I really need is a 10K or something like that to let me air things out and see where I stand in a race situation. Not only would that give me a checkpoint to see some of the benefits of my training, but would also give me a little mental break. Well, I guess it's time to HTFU, put my head down and keep my feet moving.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Oweeee!

OK. So that run last night didn't go as planned. I'm sitting here this morning really really sore. Sore quads and sore adductors. I mean to the point where I'm having trouble lifting my legs. It's nothing serious, but at this point in my training it is pretty annoying.

I took off for an 11 mile run around the Back Bay a little after 6:30 last night. I was still sore and tired from my interval workout the night before, so my plan was to take it easy. I knew that regardless how fast I wanted to go, my body had other ideas. So, I settled in at a comfortable pace and headed into the wind. Nothing Earth shattering about this run. Until about mile 9 that is.

There is just something about me and the Back Bay. Face it - at this point in my training cycle, 11 miles should be a pretty standard run. But, the last three or four times I've run the loop around the bay, I seem to die somewhere along the route. Last night it was mile 9. I'm sure it had to do with tired body to begin with, a lack of proper fueling during the day, and just the late end to a long day (up at 5AM). But by mile 9 I had slowed to a crawl, and my calves started cramping. I shuffled along best as I could (remember - I don't carry a cell phone) and toughed it out for the last couple of miles to the car. Ouch!

The good news is that I finished at an average pace of 10:34 and an average heart rate of 80% of max. The bad news is that everything after mile 9 was done at a mind numbing 13:00 pace. Yech. One thing for sure - this marathon training business knows how to keep me humble!

On the schedule today - rest. And based on how I'm feeling that's exactly what's going to happen.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back on Track (Literally)

I made it to the track last night. I ended up starting quite late in the evening. The issue the past few days has been heat and humidity. I had a couple hours of running, but when I first tried to head out around 5:30 it was still 78 degrees and about 50% humidity. Now I know all you Easterners and Southerners are crying me a storm, but here in California this is the equivalent of a 90-90 day in DC. We do get some heat here (after all, Los Angeles is really a desert), but we aren't used to the humidity. At all. We think anything over 30% humidity is pretty stifling. So what do we do about it? We complain! And yes - you all can play the world's smallest violin for us.

I ended up starting my run about 7:45. Things had cooled nicely, and there was a nice sea breeze blowing. I was out slogging around the track until 9:15 - long after dark. I broke out the headlamp around 8:30 so I could see in front of me (while the local High School track is open to the public, it is not lighted).

Stats on the run - 3.25 mile warm up, 5 X 800 intervals at 10K pace with 400 rest, 1 mile warm down for a total of 8 miles. Unlike the last time I did an interval workout (back on July 14th) I had no problems with the warm up. But, the consistency of my intervals though left a little to be desired:

Interval 1: 4:20 (8:40 pace)
Interval 2: 4:17 (8:34 pace)
Interval 3: 4:13 (8:26 pace)
Interval 4: 4:18 (8:36 pace)
Interval 5: 4:18 (8:36 pace)

Also, unlike the last time I ran intervals, I was able to get my heart rate into VO2Max range, spending a total of 15 minutes up over 90% of max. I followed up with a slow warm down mile. The only problem was getting my heart to slow down. It would have been ideal to attain a 75% of max rate, but things kind of settled in between 82% and 85% of max. And it seemed like regardless how slow I went, the heart rate wouldn't drop any further. So I wrapped the session up and came dragging into the house about 9:30 last night - starting an all out search and destroy mission for my dinner! Bottom line was even though this workout required more effort than my last interval session (maybe taking a week off has something to do with that?), it was still a quality workout. Paces and heart rate targets were met.

On tap for tonight - an easy 12 miles around the back bay. The weather is supposed to start cooling today - in fact by tomorrow we aren't supposed to break 70. Ah. To live in Southern California (yes - I'm rubbing it in).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back at It

Sorry. No more concert video. Or food pictures. "Vacation" is over. I made my way out of the house last night and hit the trails. I'll wait until tonight to say I'm back on track. I felt strong and fresh - I think the week off did some good. The run on the plan was a 5 mile recovery run, and it was pretty effortless. The only real problem was that it was hot and humid yesterday. Unusually so for Southern California. I left for my run at 7PM and it was still 78 degrees out. I was happy for a change that there *was* a stiff on shore breeze blowing. It didn't take long before I was drenched.

Tonight's run should be a little more challenging. Intervals on the track (See? Told you I'd wait until today to say I'm back on track). 3 1/4 mile warm up, 5 800s at 10K pace with a 400 yard rest, and a 1 mile warm down for a total of 8 miles. It's supposed to be a warm sticky day again today. Honestly - I don't know how you Easterners put up with this day in and day out!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Umm, Let's Call it Vacation

Yeah. Yeah. That' the ticket. We'll just call last week "vacation." That's it. Sounds good to me? What about you?

Well - after getting back from Philadelphia on Thursday night it has been one thing after another. Here' the way things stacked up:

Friday: Cancel AM 9 mile run due to client issues. Client is on the East Coast, so the phone calls start rolling in at 5:30 AM. Couldn't run in the PM because of a family commitment. KC and the Sunshine Band at the Orange County Fair! Yup - all you 20 and 30 somethings probably have no idea who I'm talking about. Let me say this though - KC was the Kevin Federline for all us 50 somethings (Sorry for the lousy quality. Recorded on my iPhone 3Gs):

video

Disco still lives! And judging by the way all us old folks were dancing, it lives in our memories more than in our bodies.

Saturday: About ready to head out the door for a 16 miler. Then the phone rings. Same client as Friday calling. By the time I was done, it is nearing 9AM. 16 miles in the sun and heat wasn't going to cut it. Saturday PM out as it's my turn to prepare dinner (I try to give my wife Saturday and Sunday off from cooking detail). On the menu - chicken kebabs on the grill. Man. Grill. Man in his element (except maybe for the lack of a certain carbohydrate refreshment).

Sunday: What the hell. So far the week has been a write off. I figured I'd just keep it perfect and sleep in. The long days and travel was catching up to me. The one exciting thing - I went shopping at a local Japanese store and noted some Engrish:

(By the way - I'm half Japanese, but I still chuckle when I see these signs in Asian markets. Hey folks - aren't we fourth of fifth generation here in the U.S.?)

Bottom line - last week was a big zero. Zilch. But I'm feeling really good. No more tweaks. No more niggles. And I put in a new record for me - 172 miles in July. I think this old body is still trying to get used to the 50 mile week.

Not to worry though. I'll be back at it tomorrow. The plan for the week:

Monday: One last rest day. Might erg in the afternoon.
Tuesday: 5 mile recovery. To the gym for stretching and core work.
Wednesday: Intervals. 3.25 mile warm up. 5 X 800 with 400 rest. One mile warm down.
Thursday: 11 mile general aerobic run.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: 13 mile medium long run.
Sunday: 7 mile recovery run. To the gym for stretching and core work.

Total planned: 44 miles.

Whew. Back to it......

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Run That Didn't Happen

Every now and then I have one of those days. Friday was one.

I was excited to be home and to get back to my training schedule after a few days on the road. Due to family and work commitments, my scheduled 9 miler was going to have to happen in the morning. I was up early and dressed and ready to go when the unthinkable happened. Client phone calls. At 5:30 AM. Ah the joys of owning your own business and being your own boss. And of having clients on the East Coast.

By the time I had the problem resolved (nothing serious), it was 7:00, and I needed to be back in my office for some other pending business. I also had family commitments in the evening (I managed to talk everyone into going to the Orange County Fair) so nothing was going to be able to happen in the evening. Basically, these early morning shenanigans meant that Friday's run was shelved. Oh well. We did have a great time at the Fair and concert! Ended up seeing KC and the Sunshine Band. Great show! But poor KC. He's getting old and fat. Hey KC - I have an idea for you! Check out this blog I know about!

Heh heh. I'll be out the door this morning for a 16 mile run. 4 miles of warm up and then 12 miles at Marathon Pace. I'm going to plan a 10:15 pace for the 12 miles. That's just a tad faster than a 4:30 marathon - which I would be ecstatic with in a few weeks!