Saturday, January 30, 2010

We'll Try Tomorrow

Thanks to all who helped me with my decision. There's no pain in my calf when I'm walking around, but yesterday I could definitely feel tightness going up the stairs in my building. I think Anne at Run DMZ put it best: "Don't fall victim to the numbers game if you sense an injury approaching!" The numbers game was the toughest part of the decision. For me, a fifty mile week is a big deal. I really struggled when it came to the 50 mile weeks during my last training cycle for Long Beach. This time, not so much. Last week, with the exception of the last two or three miles of my 20 miler, 48 was not that difficult. I was looking forward to 50 plus this week. Instead, I gave my calf yesterday off, and have canceled today's 16 miler. Everything is feeling pretty good today, so I'll try to cap the week off with something around 9 or 10 miles tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. Bottom line is I want to make sure I'm okay for my Half Marathon next Sunday.

On another front, the Injinjis are treating me well. I used them on my last run (Thursday's six miles) and I have no major complaints about them. I want to wear them on one long run (probably next week's Half Marathon, and then I'll file my complete review. My teaser for now though can be summed up this way: "What socks?"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Who's Paying Attention?

Last night I got an easy six miles in right that finished up just as the sun dipped below the horizon.

That's the way sunset *should* look for all us weather wimps in Southern California.

On the running front, I think I'm fighting a little calf strain. It feels like I have a cramp in my left calf that never releases. It started during my run on Tuesday, and was quite uncomfortable about mile 5 last night. Today is a row day (I took Wednesday off), and I'll need to make a decision tomorrow morning whether I trust it on the scheduled 16 miler. I should play it safe. Face it - I've been running pretty consistently for well over a year, and a few missed runs isn't going to break me. Plus, if I do this right, I'm pretty confident of a PR at Surf City in a couple weeks. But it's also a 50 mile week, and there's something about being able to put that on my list of accomplishments that's pretty rewarding. Decisions decisions.

Oh the run? Six miles around the Upper Back Bay. Pace was 9:16 at an average heart rate of 79% of max. And I did get my stretching and core workout done. But with a sunset like that, who's paying attention?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Singing in the Rain...

I'll stay with yesterday's musical theme.

As mentioned, the rain was back yesterday. Nothing like last week's deluge, but wet nonetheless. I headed out for a 12 mile tempo run (2 mile warm up, 8 miles at a comfortably uncomfortable pace, 2 mile warm down) in the late afternoon. As I was heading out, the skies were spitting a little - everything was wet, but the rain was sporadic and light. No problem. Instead of throwing in the towel because it was wet outside, I put on my long pants and a long sleeve underarmour shirt and headed out the door to brave the elements.

I set out to go around the Back Bay - a loop with a short spur to my normal Saturday starting point is 12 miles. As I left the car, the rain fell with a little more purpose, but it was warm (55 degrees) so I set out. Just my luck - the further I went, the harder the rain fell. I hit the six mile point soaked, but feeling good and strong. I was clipping along at a 8:50 pace (I really do need to run a 10K sometime soon) as I headed behind the Newport Dunes Resort. And then - there it was again. The locked gate!!! How the heck can you close a trail? Foul weather? Give me a break! My mind started working. I knew there was an exit from Newport Dunes somewhere that would allow me to continue around the bay. Long story short, within a few minutes I was wandering around a storage yard in puddles up to my ankles. Yech! It was getting dark. My 8:50 pace had fallen off to 9:15. Double yech! I couldn't find the elusive exit, so threw in the towel and headed back to my car. The worst part? Squishy feet for 6 miles! Triple yech!

But, I did it. 12 miles. In the rain. Middle 8 at a 9:22 pace, average heart rate of 85% of max. Now if I can just get that wet dog smell out of my car.....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Row row row...

...your rowing machine. I was back on the ergometer last night. The workout that was chosen for me by the Concept2 website was a 5 minute warm up followed by 3 ten minute steady state rows with a two minute rest between. Total damage was 7.5 kms of fairly easy rowing. My heart rate averaged 68% of MHR. Funny how much more I sweat on the erg even at that low heart rate!

The rain is supposed to be back tonight, even though it is crystal clear right now (6:30 AM). Unlike last week, it's supposed to be pretty light, so I'll get my 12 mile tempo run in regardless the weather. The only issue is where to run.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It Keeps Going and Going and Going

The miles never end. Week 10 is in the books. I wrapped up the week yesterday with a *slow* 9 miles around the Back Bay. After Saturday's little debacle, I was not planning on running the full nine, but once I got past the first two miles, everything that was hurting seemed to loosen up. And after such a wet and stormy week, the weather was fantastic - so I just kept on going and going and going. The final stats on the week: 48 miles - 38 on the trails, 10 on the rower. I failed to do any of my stretching and core work though, so I need to get this back on track this week.

I also took the Injinjis out on their first trial yesterday. My initial reaction is pretty positive. The best part is their wicking ability seems *very*good. I'll do a complete review after next weekend's long run.

Here are the real chimpanzee feet:

Speaking of next weekend, we're into Week 11. On the plan:

  • Monday: Erg 5K. Stretching and core work
  • Tuesday: 12 mile tempo. Supposed to be raining. Sigh.
  • Wednesday: Erg 10K.
  • Thursday: 6 mile general aerobic run. Stretching and core.
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 16 mile long run.
  • Sunday: 6 mile GA.

Total: 40 miles running, 9.3 miles rowing.

The miles seem to keep going and going and going....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three Miles of Blech

I need to go back and read some of my old blogs to figure out what has changed. Yesterday's 20 miler was another painful slog. A lot more painful than it should have been. Ever since my second 20 miler on my Long Beach Marathon training cycle, these long runs have taken a toll on me.

With the flood channels still flowing, and copious amounts of mud still around, I decided to attack my 20 miler down on the beach. I started in Newport Beach, and ran down to the mouth of Newport Harbor. No rain today! What a difference a couple days make:

I backtracked to the car for seven miles, and then continued into Huntington Beach. The damage from the storm was evident. Here's the path from three weeks ago:

Here's the path today:

They are obviously going to need to do some cleanup before this:

I need to correct my blog post from last Tuesday too. I mentioned that the photo showing the waterspout was of the Balboa Pier. My son corrected me a couple days ago, and explained to me that it was the Huntington Beach Pier, based on the unique design of the lifeguard towers out on the pier. He is correct. I checked, and there were no waterspouts today:

I had been fueling every five miles, so at mile 15 I pulled up for my last two Endurolytes and a Hammer Gel (tropical - yum!). I had been keeping things intentionally slow and easy, and was managing somewhere around a 10:55 pace up to that point. But the fun was about to begin. As I hit mile 15 or so, I started feeling really really fatigued. Especially my calves. By mile 16 fatigue had turned to pain, which shortly thereafter turned to cramping. I ended up shuffling the last three or four miles back to my car.

The bottom line is I had a formula that worked once. I need to get back to that formula.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I've Done Been Tagged

Meg over at Meg runs! tagged me the other day. "Are you guys up to the challenge? What makes you happy?" Easy right? Yes. But limiting the list to 10 things was not! So here goes (I feel like Dave Letterman):

  1. Family. Love being together in a room. We don't even need to be talking. Just sitting together does it for me.
  2. My wife. Twenty three years of marriage and 9 years of dating must mean something.
  3. Watching my own kids grow into young adults. Very happy and satisfying.
  4. Mountains. Something about being in the mountains away from people and civilization just makes me so peaceful and content.
  5. Mental stimulation. Anything that makes me think.
  6. A good pun. Especially if I don't get it for a couple of hours. If you see me break out in a smile for no apparent reason you now know why.
  7. Helping kids. Been a youth sports coach, cub master, assistant scout master. I love the looks on their faces when they do something that they didn't think they could.
  8. Related to #7 - doing something I didn't think I could.
  9. A good cup of coffee. Especially up in the mountains. Hot and dark. None of that cream and sweetener stuff.
  10. A nut flush. Always good for a lot of chips. Usually good for a win.

There you go. Anyone else up to the challenge?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Trying to Salvage the Week

As predicted yesterday, the trails around me are still closed. To give you an idea of the amount and severity of the rain, a normal average year's rainfall in Newport Beach is 11.3 inches (yes - that's per year folks - we *do* live in a desert). So far, since the first of the storms came through on Monday, we have received almost 5 inches. That's almost half of our normal annual rainfall in 5 days. I think I've been in Chicago when it seemed to rain that much in a day, and I *know* I've been in Miami when it has. Here though, we are not set up to deal with this much rain. Our storm drains really struggle to keep up with the deluges, and some of the low lying areas (like Long Beach where chicrunner documented some of the flooding) have further issues because at high tide, there isn't a natural flow toward the ocean.

So, water is flowing like a mutha in the flood channels, mud flows have come down the cliffs along the back bay, and high tide and high surf have flooded the beach trails. All of my standard trails are closed and will probably remain so for another day or so. I don't own a treadmill - when you have 330 days of sunny weather a year why? I also let my 24 hour fitness membership go because I just never used it. So, I'm relegated to being flexible with my schedule and doing what I can when I can.

Last night it was the rowing machine again. 5 minute warm up, then 5 sets of 5 minutes on, 4 minutes rest, followed by a 5 minute warm down. Total distance - 7.5 kilometers (4.66 miles) in 55 minutes (including rest). Another workout that had me dripping. I'm hoping to hit the hills tonght, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

Finally, I wanted to let you now that I've actually been asked by someone to checkout and review some product! Yup! Who would have thought? One of the sponsors of the Firecracker 10K is Injinji, and I've been asked to review a pair of their performance socks:

They look strange enough - my wife's first comment was that she didn't think I had chimpanzee feet. Ha ha. (I think she was kidding.) I'll be taking them for a spin over the next couple of weeks - short runs, long runs, etc. I'm most interested in seeing if they are comfortable, don't result in blisters, and most importantly, wick moisture. They should be smelling like a toxic dump in no time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sneaked Nine Miles In

I got out between storms yesterday morning for the nine miles I couldn't get in on Tuesday. I headed to Crystal Cove, where damage from yesterday's rain was still evident:

I slowed down in several places where mud and water flow left debris across the trail. There was also a stiff wind blowing, nowhere near Tuesday's velocity, but it made the first half of my run a little tougher. Final stats: nine miles in a 10:08 pace, 76% of MHR. Kind of a "meh" run.

It's raining again this morning, and is supposed to continue throughout the day. I'm supposed to be doing hills tonight, but the trails around the hill will be closed. If I'm able to, I do my hill work. Otherwise I'll be be in my rowing studio to whip out 5 or so kilometers on the erg, which means hills on Friday, and moving my 20 miler from Saturday to Sunday. Man - this is getting pretty complicated!

On another front, I made some decisions yesterday on upcoming races. First, I am now official - L.A. Marathon on March 21st is no longer tentative. I took the plunge and registered. I've also registered for the Firecracker 10K on February 28th. I did this race last year, and even though it was rough around the edges, I'm back. I'm looking forward to the opening ceremonies, the post race expo, and a dim sum tweetup. The seven hundred foot, two mile long hill not so much.
Finally, somehow I was talked into (well, it really didn't take that much to convince me) a marathon relay! With the takeover of the Rock n' Roll series by the Competitor Group, a number of changes are taking place with the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon. Or I should say "San Diego Rock n' Roll" - because this year there will also be a half marathon and a relay. So I pressed the submit button and am now part of a relay team with fellow bloggers/tweeters Ms. V (@MsV1959), JT (@anotorias) and @Hoof_Harted. Damn these rainy days - keeping me all bored and stuff. Well, I guess it's time to get training!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wacky Weather Wedensday

Well, for all the grief I give myself about running in the rain, I *did* give it the old college try yesterday. The only problem? Closed trails!!!!

If you haven't heard, we are having a week of rather epic storms out West. You saw the video I posted Tuesday of the rain on Monday. Well, we had more of the same yesterday, along with, are you ready for this? A TORNADO warning! And the warning was real - we had a small F1 twister make it's way through these parts! I was never in danger - the closest the tornado got was about 5 miles away in Costa Mesa. But there was plenty of wind, thunder, lightning and heavy rain. Wow. Someone needs to remind Mother Nature that this isn't Kansas!

Here are a couple photos of the excitement yesterday. A tornado in Seal Beach:

A waterspout off the Balboa Pier here in Newport Beach:

(Note - I didn't take those photos. They were shown on the local news and I lifted them from various websites.)

All the excitement was over by 2:30 or so though, so I got dressed in enough clothing to stay warm and some old shoes to get soaked and headed out for the planned 9 miler. For runs that length, I basically have four options - Newport Back Bay, San Diego Creek, Newport Pier to Huntington Pier, and Corona del Mar to Crystal Cove.

So, I started my tour of Orange County looking for a good run. Off to the Back Bay. Gates were up and chained. The road was closed! What?

Next, off to San Diego Creek. To get there I had to drive through the neighborhood next to Corona del Mar High School, where my group meets on Saturday morning. I counted nine trees that had been uprooted and lying across the road. Like big trees. The ones that are a foot in diameter. I parked and walked over to the where the back bay and the San Diego Creek trail splits. Here's the way that looked:

Next - the beach. The boardwalk was covered in wet sand. The wind was blowing at least 35 miles per hour. My ankles were instantly sand blasted.

The message was clear. Three strikes and you're out! Time for Trader Joe's!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week 10

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm in week 10 of this training cycle. This will be my first 50 mile week this time around:

Monday: Erg 5K. Stretching and core.
Tuesday: 9 mile general aerobic.
Wednesday: Erg 5K. Stretching and core
Thursday: Hills! 2 mile warm up, 6 hill repeats, 1 mile warm down
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: 9 miles marathon pace
Total plan: 50 miles

I was up on the erg last night. Did a 5 minute warm up followed by three sets of 10 minute progressions. A 10 minute progression on a rowing machine takes the shape of rowing faster for a decreasing number of minutes. The first progression was 4 minutes at 16 strokes per minute, followed by 3 minutes at 18 spm, followed by 2 ' at 20 spm, followed by 1' at 22 spm. I followed with a 2 minute rest, then took off on the second progression at 4'/3'/2'/1' at 18/20/22/24 spm. Then another 2 minute rest followed by the final 4'/3'/2'/1' at 16/18/20/22 spm. Tack on a 5 minute warm down for a total of 8.65 kms.

I'm glad my workout was indoors. We finally got a bona fide storm. Notice how the tree that was next to the palms is missing the second time I panned right:

On the schedule today - 9 general aerobic miles. I've got the old shoes and a couple of layers packed. Hopefully it won't be raining too hard.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

And Now, for Something Completely Different

My plan said "9 miles pace." That meant I was going to need to figure out how to slow down and keep it slow. I have 9 more weeks left on the trails around home and I'm getting tired of the same scenery day in day out. Time to do something different.
I headed up the road about 20 minutes to Peters Canyon Regional Park in Tustin. The park is located in the foothills of Northeastern Orange County. The trail I was going to run is actually part of the same trail network that I run down by home:
The first catch is there was no parking at the southern terminus of the park. I started about a mile south in a community park, where the trail looks like most in Orange County:

About a mile later, I finally entered the park proper:

It hadn't escaped me that I had been moving uphill for a while now. I was slowly climbing through coastal sage:

I crested a hill and Peters Canyon reservoir laid out in front of me. This reservoir is a leftover from the days that agriculture ruled the land here in Orange County. These days it serves as flood control, protecting the homes below from the infrequent storms that hit the region:

Speaking of storms - remember the storm I was talking about? You can see from the pictures that the skies were threatening. My hope was to get out and finish before the rains started. In fact, just as I entered the park, this stuff from the sky started hitting my hat. Two miles later, the skies were spitting, but it was warm out so I continued on the path around the reservoir:

Two and a quarter miles later, I reached my turnaround point. The foothills of Orange County were laid out in front of me as I reached the high point of my journey. I impressed myself. Despite the uphill push, wet conditions and unsure footing that comes with trails, I was still managing an 11:15 pace!

By now though, the skies were no longer spitting, but was doling out a steady rain. I quaffed a couple Endurolytes, a Hammer Gel (Green Apple - yum!) and started back to the car. The trail was turning slippery, so I was more deliberate with my footing:

I was making good time as I headed down the hill. I was eager to get back because it had stopped raining steadily, and had turned into a downpour! Those aren't orbs in this picture - they are raindrops that were caught in the camera's flash!

Luckily I brought a change of clothes! Yes - I'm an Eagle Scout. Be prepared!
That was dry when I started an hour and a half earlier!

To wrap up - this was a *great* adventure. I pulled up a little short on mileage - 8.7 instead of 9, but I was happy with my 11:00 pace on my first real trail run. I will definitely be doing more of this!
That also put a wrap on week 9. Final stats for the week - 36.7 miles running, 8.5 miles rowing. Nine down, nine to go!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Wardrobe Update

I'm enjoying some payback for two years of hard work. You see, a certain someone turned a year older this week. My wife decided to celebrate by replacing a bunch of pants that, when I wore, looked like I had dropped a load in. For a while now, I've been cinching my belt to keep from showing too much plumber cleavage. A couple weeks ago I noticed that I could actually get into and out of my favorite jeans without unsnapping them. So as of today, I'm in pants that are 4 inches smaller in the waist. And I can snap them without having to suck in.

Speaking of hard work, yesterday's run was just that. Twelve miles were on the plan. The first six miles were wonderful - almost dreamlike. I was keeping a conversational, easy pace at 9:50. Honestly, I was barely breaking a sweat. I got to the turnaround point, took some calories (Clif Blueberry Crisp bar) and started back to CDM. About mile 8, things started hurting. By mile 10 I had to slow down. My heart rate was fine, but I was sweating up a storm and had pain in my quads like I was at mile 20. Not quite sure why. My cold? Overheating (I was wearing an Underarmour long sleeved tee)? I wrapped it up by slowly hobbling the last couple of miles. Then, about noon I went down for a 2 hour nap, was back in bed by 9 PM last night, and slept straight though until 6 this morning. My body is obviously trying to tell me something.

Today I'll be out for nine miles at race pace.Which reminds me, I need to revisit my current pace on the Garmin.....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Storm's a Brewing on the Horizon

I mentioned yesterday that the weatherman is forecasting rain next week. As Meg pointed out, this already has us Southern Californians stressing. I mean I don't even know where my umbrella is! And this is the honest truth - my son had driven a year before he had to drive in the rain. How are we all going to live through the week?

Honestly, the one thing that *does* have some of us concerned is the forecasted size of the storm. According to the forecast, as much as 8 inches of rain may fall next week. I realize for most of the country, 8 inches of rain is no big deal. Heck, south Florida can receive a quarter of that in an afternoon! But, we are just not capable of processing that amount of water out here. You need to keep in mind - the typical year's worth of rainfall here is around 14 inches. Here's what 4 inches of rain over three days did back in 2005:

If you look about 45 seconds into the video you see that the rescuers are laying across what looks like a divided trail? Well, those are the trails that a lot of us run on here! Of course - this isn't Mother Nature's fault. We're just not used to it, so we don't do things like realize that we *should* be sticking to higher ground.

The forecasters are saying rain is starting Sunday night. This time it must be for real. I went running last night (a quick and easy six miles) and got these pictures of the leading edge of the storm:

So, fellow Southern Californians - take it easy this week. If you are going to run in the rain, stay out of the flood channels (like the Los Angeles River, San Diego Creek, etc.). Stay off of the trails that run next to creeks. And take caution - just because it isn't raining where you are doesn't mean that the stream isn't channelling water from way upstream. That's water folks. Notice how it's sunny outside:

Let's be smart this week!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Back on the Horse

What's with this cold? After just a day in bed, I was back in the saddle again. I felt better the longer the day progressed. I *did* take it easy on my rower, but I got it done nonetheless. I put in a 33 minute workout - 5 minutes warm up followed by a long pyramid: 1000 meters at 22 strokes per minute (spm), 1000 meters at 25 spm, 1000 at 28 spm, 1000 at 25 spm, and 1000 at 22 spm. I wrapped it up with a 3 minute, 500 meter warm down for 6500 meters (4 miles).

The plan is to do the same this afternoon. I'll take an easy 6 miles around the upper back bay - just get the miles in and enjoy the scenery. I need to because I'm hearing rumors of a wet next week - and you all know how this Californian reacts to bad weather!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Did Anyone Get the License?

Of that truck that hit me? Figuratively speaking of course. I mentioned yesterday that I was starting to feel the effects of a cold coming on. Well, by noon, I was back at home in bed. I kind of drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the day. Yuck. It's just in my head so far - sinus congestion, headaches and the like.

I'm feeling better today. Hopefully I'll get on the erg tonight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Measuring Progress

I'm sitting here this morning - one tired puppy. Yesterday's scratchy throat has turned into a full blown head cold. Sinuses burning and congested, head all cloudy and stuffed. And my body is all sore and achy. Oh, wait a minute. That last part isn't my cold. It's the g.d. workout that I tried to pull off Tuesday night!

Yesterday's workout was a 10 mile tempo run. One and a quarter mile warm up, 7 and a half miles in that "uncomfortable" pace zone, one and quarter mile warm down. I knocked out the middle 7 and a half in an 8:50 pace. I really faded in the last half mile as my cold took hold and turned me into the loogey man. A real ball buster workout. If the pain in my legs and lower body is any indication, then there were plenty of hydrogen ions released!

It used to be improvement was large and tangible. Distances that I hadn't hit before. Paces that were light years faster. These days, improvement is measured is much smaller increments. A lot of improvement these days are up in the brain, and not so much in my feet. Like last night - just the thought of hitting that distance at that pace had me higher than a kite. In fact, the brain was working so well that I had *nothing* left for my warm down. It was a struggle to bring that last mile in at 11:45. My point? Patience grasshopper (I know I'm aging myself with that saying). Not everything for us enthusiasts is measured in minutes and seconds.

I'm back on my ergometer (rowing machine) this evening. Looks like the workout is (drumroll).....

"Row for a total of 5000 meters at a sustainable intensity, varying your stroke rate as follows: row 1000 meters @ 25 spm, 1000 meters @ 22 spm, 1000 meters @ 25 spm, 1000 meters @ 28 spm, and 1000 meters @ 25 spm."

(Getting that sinking feeling...)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seven Kilometers and a Puddle of Sweat

Last night was another row around my studio. I positioned my erg for a killer workout - 5 minute warm up, 15 sets of 1:40 on, 20 seconds active rest, and 5 minute warm down. Forty minutes total. Yes. The garage walls are still white.

If sweat equity is any indication, this rowing workout was a winner. My shirt was wringable and I had sweat dripping - from my legs! The short bursts of power made this a perfect substitute for an interval workout on the track. In fact, I was just shy of 400 meters for every 1:40 that I was on. The biggest difference was the 20 second rest barely gave me time to catch my breath before I was off again. I was able to drive my heart rate up to between 80% and 85% of max. The final tally was 7.2 kilometers - just shy of 4.5 miles. And puddles on the garage floor.

Today's plan will be a 10 mile tempo run if my body permits. My throat is a little scratchy and my nose a little sniffly. All that after bragging to my wife last night how the Emergen-C had kept the colds at bay. Grrrrr.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Week 8 Down

That means 10 more to go. The past week was good -33 miles on the trails and 12.5kms (7.8 miles) on the reg for a total of 40.8 miles.

This week is more of the same:

Monday: Erg 5 kms minimum. Stretching and core.
Tuesday: 10 mile tempo run.
Wednesday: Erg 5 kms minimum. Stretching and core.
Thursday: 6 mile aerobic run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 12 mile long
Sunday: 9 mile pace run
Totals: 37 miles running, 6.2 rowing

Now to get caught up on all of your blogs. Have a great week!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Easier, But Still Not Easy

Don't let anyone ever convince you. Twenty milers are *not* easy. They certainly get easier. But I really really doubt that they will ever get easy....

I was not going to let this run be like the previous week's run, so my fist stop was the local donut shop to grab some quick energy. What the heck, I was about to burn 3500 calories - what's wrong with a sweet sugar pill? I also had my fuel for the day packed away - two Hammer Gel packets with two Endurolytes attached and a Clif Luna Bar with two Endurolytes attached. I quaffed a couple of Endurolytes and was full of piss and vinegar as the group took off.
My plan was to keep this one slow and deliberate. No pushing. This is the first of at least two and hopefully three 20 milers on this training cycle. I need to make sure that I wasn't going to have such a horrible experience that I would be tempted to bag the next one. I set off slowly. Ever so slowly. Kind of like the tortoise. I shuffled on through the first fueling point at 5 miles. Turned off the main San Diego Creek trail at mile 6 and head up toward the hills. Honestly, before I knew it I was at the turn around point. Interestingly enough, the 10 mile point was right at the finish line of the Make Room for Santa 10K. That was a 20 minute drive last month! Crap. That's a long way!

At this point, everything was going to plan. Based on McMillan, my long run pace should be between 10:22 and 11:22. I was right at 10:56. Fluids were good. I was sweating a lot, but heck, we're in a drought here in California, so I figured I'd just sprinkle the plants along the way. I downed my Luna Bar and Endurlytes and got my legs moving again.

Through mile 15 I was still plodding along like a champ. At mile 15, I pulled up in the park for my final fueling stop and to fill up my now empty water bottles. I took a load off for a couple minutes and took a seat. Anyone out there a skier/boarder? Ever been on the slopes on a cold snowy morning, come into the lodge for some food and a warm drink? Ever want to go *back* out into the cold?

The rest of the day was a struggle. It *was* a good mental exercise. I reminded myself that I had only a few miles left, less than an hour to go (sound familiar fellow marathoners?). My pace started tanking. By mile 18 I was just shuffling along. 12:15. 12:30. Then the final hill. Ugh. Would you believe 13:58?

But, I finished right at the upper end of McMillan's target pace. And a full 10 minutes faster than the last 20miler run. All is not lost!

This was my fourth 20 miler in the two plus years that I've been running. Is it easier? Absolutely. I know what to expect. I know I need to fuel properly. I know I *will* finish. I know that this isn't the race and that I should keep it slow and deliberate. I know I should respect it. Is it easy? Nope. Probably never will be.

P.S. - The one thing I did learn yesterday was when I get tired I have a tendency to lengthen my stride. I guess I learn something new everyday!

Back to the Task

Last night I put in the four miles I was supposed to on Thursday. Nice and easy at Crystal Cove at sundown. In 70 degree weather. Gads I'm spoiled!

Stats - 9:05 per mile at 78% of MHR. This is well over a minute a mile faster than a year ago. I sure hope I'm not peaking 10 weeks early. One thing I can tell you - I really feel that running fewer days and miles and spending time cross training has left me feeling much fresher.

Sorry for the quick short post. I'm trying to get psyched up for my 20 miler this morning. I'm not going to repeat last weekend's debacle. Time for my apple fritter!

Friday, January 8, 2010

So I Lied...

About running yesterday. Once gain, all the intentions were there, but I got sidetracked. Now you might think that a late night at the office or illness or injury sidelined me. Nope. No such luck. So what happened you ask? It was a mental health rejuvenation day!

If you have never been in Northern San Diego County (North County as the locals call it), I would highly recommend it. It's country with gentle winding two lane roads through some spectacular scenery. There are a number of Indian Casinos in North County and I did the mini tour of four of them. For those who know the area, I started at Pechanga in Temecula (yeah okay - that's Riverside County), drove on Pechanga-Pala Road (not the freeway) to Harrah's Rincon, backtracked to Pala Casino, and then drove the 76 to Oceanside. About a hundred miles total. The weather was outstanding. The scenery was outstanding. Drove it with the top down and the stereo blaring! It was just what the doctor ordered.

Today it's back to the ungrind. It's petty amazing what just one day of relaxation can do. All you runners having trouble getting motivated - are you listening?

I'm back on the trail tonight for an easy four miler. Tomorrow will be the first of three 20 milers in preparation for the L.A. Marathon. Yikes!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm Officially a Runner

Yes folks. About 5 pm yesterday I officially became a runner:

That is my big toenail. It has been hanging on since the Long Beach Marathon. My feet now *look* like they run. Thank goodness men don't wear open toed shoes..

On the workout front I was back on the ergometer last night. I was going to row a 30 minute steady state piece. I rowed a 5 minute warmup and then 20 of the 30 minutes before my arms turned to jello. I threw in the towel at 5.25 kms. Is my upper body really that weak? Ummm. Yeah. Sad to think I used to do 60 minute pieces a couple years ago. Oh well. Now I have something to work toward.

Speaking of erg workouts, if this is something that you are considering on a regular basis, I'd like to suggest a couple of resources for information on workouts:

  • This web page on Concept2's website allows you to select a workout of the day. This is a good resource if you are looking to mix things up a little. A word of caution - you may end up with a pretty difficult workout. If you do, no problem, just click the "Workout of the Day" button again to get a different one
  • There are a ton of good articles and information about training in general on Concept2's website here.
  • If you're going to erg maybe three times a week (say you're injured or something), there are a couple of web pages on Concept2's United Kingdom website that lets you create your own training plan. For example, if you go here, you can create a training program (yes - they misspell it on their website) that is a sprint program -it would be like training for a 10K. Or, if you go here, you can create an 18 week weight loss program. Because this is the U.K., you'll need to convert your weight and weight loss goals to kilograms.
  • There's also a great training guide here, albeit it's a pdf and not truly online.

Finally, if you're just looking to substitute a rowing session here and there instead of running:

  • Intervals: Substitute a 500 meter row for every 400 on your schedule. Take a 2 minute active rest in between each interval
  • Short runs: Substitute 30 minute steady state at a moderate effort (heart rate or effort) for every 3 to 4 miles on your schedule
  • Long run: Just substitute the distance and pace. You will need to convert miles to kilometers, and pace to kms/hour

I hope these resources can provide some structure and guidance to make your rowing session a little more enjoyable. Yes. It's still an indoor machine. But, if the treadmills and ellipticals are crowded and the erg is sitting there all lonely, give it a try! And, if you are really hooked, make sure to visit Xeno Muller's website. You can purchase video podcasts that will turn any rowing workout into fun!

On tap tonight - an easy 4 miler. And no - I'm not sitting on that machine. I've got a big toe to break in.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Somewhere There's a 10K PR...

... trying to get out. I hit the Lower Back Bay for a 9 mile tempo run last night. One mile warm up, seven miles at "10K Pace" (more on that later AZ), and a one mile warm down for a total of 9 miles. My average pace during the seven middle miles was 8:50, at an average heart rate of 81% of max. Hmmm. The purpose of this workout is to stimulate lactate threshold, but I'm not running in the LT zone (> 85% MHR). I'll need to push a little harder.

About that "10K Pace". I have been using some confusing terminology. Early on, I read somewhere that a "Tempo Run" was a run that was about an hour long run at a pace that approximated your 10K race pace. The rationale was that a properly run 10K was right at lactate threshold. So, what's this running farther than 10K at a "10K Pace"? After some plodding around on the Internet last night, think I found good definition from a reputable source: "Your Perfect Tempo". This article points out the real definition of a tempo run is a run done at a "comfortably hard" pace - one that is sustainable but where slowing down would be nice. That pretty much described last night's run! If you want to learn more about the almighty tempo run, read the article. It does a good job of describing why the tempo is such an effective training tool.

Finally, about that title - my 10K PR is 55:00. That breaks down to an 8:50 pace. Over 10K. Notice the average pace over the middle seven last night. I think it's time to look for a 10K around here. Preferably a flat one.....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Walls are White

Plan 2010 is in full effect. I spent last night on the ergometer rowing my heart away. Well, actually a short 12 X 250 meter with 1:30 active rest piece. With warm up and warm down, I rowed 7000 meters (4.3 miles). I can also tell you the walls inside my rowing studio (garage) are white.

A couple of you have expressed some interest in using a rowing machine. If you haven't used an ergometer before, I would highly suggest that you watch this video. I filched it from Concept2's website, the company that makes the rowing machine that you most often see in a gym. It's an excellent instructional video on proper rowing technique:

Do it right, and rowing is an excellent non-impact workout. Not only do you get the benefits of a great cardio workout (last night I hit heart rates over 160 bpm), but as you can see in the video, every large muscle group is engaged at some point during the rowing stroke. Thanks to my kids, I've had the pleasure of hanging around some athletes, and maybe with the exception of water polo players (what studs and studettes!), rowers have the best body definition of the group. No scrawny legs or t-rex arms on rowers! Do it wrong though, and just like running, injury will be chasing you out the door.

On tap tonight - 9 miles of tempo madness. I think that's 1 mile warm up, 7 miles at 10K pace, 1 mile warm down. Blech. I'm still sore from Sunday. Time to HTFU.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Failure to Fuel is Not Good!

I received a rude reminder yesterday. Failure to fuel properly is not good. Especially on long run day. But, I'll start at the beginning....

The weather this time of year in Southern California can be difficult to dress for. If it's 20 degrees outside, you can layer up for a run. But how do you dress when it's mid 40's to start and mid 70's by the time you're done? What I do is delay my start so that I don't have to worry about carrying discarded layers. So, I didn't make my way out the door until 10:30AM. The problem? No breakfast. I would find out later what a huge FAIL this would be.

On the plan was a 16 miler. It was an absolutely stunning day, so I decided to try a new route - a beach run:

I think a lot of other people had the same idea:

I started on the boardwalk (well, we call it a boardwalk) in Newport Beach. Did I say it was a spectacular day?

My run went to the north for 8 miles. By mile 4 I had left the confines of Newport Beach for the paved paths of Huntington Beach. It will be along this route that my next race (Surf City Half) will make it's way:

The start/finish line without it's bunting:

I slowed at mile 6 to pop a couple Endurolytes and a Hammer Gel. I was already starting to feel spent. Not a good sign with 10 miles left to go. As I pushed on I tried to use the sights to get my mind off my ever slowing pace:

I turned around at mile 8. I was physically hurting, which was real interesting because on Saturday I whipped out an 8 miler with no problem. The difference? Look at the second paragraph above. No breakfast. No fuel. No go.

I stopped at mile 11 to quaff a couple more Endurolytes and another gel. But I also had to rest. If there is a good place to stop on this route, it's the world famous Huntington Beach pier. They don't call it "Surf City USA" for nothing:

These folks are missing Woodstock something fierce:

From there it was *still* five more miles. Another mile down the trail my calves started cramping. Man. This is less than a half marathon and I'm in pain and cramping. Jeesh. If I was less experienced I'm sure I'd be pretty down in the mouth today. But instead, I pushed on the best I could, part shuffle, part walk, part stop and eventually made it back to the car. Final stats: 11:34 pace, at a heart rate of 75% MHR. That pace *is* a little skewed since everything after mile 9 was slower than 12 minutes. Ooooof.

All of you experienced runners know what I'm going to say next, but I'm going to say it anyways. There are three lessons here:
  1. Fuel fuel fuel. If the tank is empty at the start, it ain't getting full along the way! I should've had my apple fritter.
  2. Bad runs are as important to your training as good ones are. If nothing else, the bad runs will remind you of what you should be doing.
  3. You should be living in Southern California.

That wrapped up a short 29.5 mile week. Travel early in the week and my desire to keep my "I'm not using a hotel treadmill" streak alive, meant my running week became a three day week. Got my hill repeats in on Thursday though, so the week wasn't an entire loss.

On tap this week will be my new modified plan that I discussed yesterday:

  • Monday: Ergometer! I'll grab the Concept2 workout of the day and pull the chain for a few kilometers. Stretching and core work.
  • Tuesday: 9 mile tempo run. Yikes!
  • Wednesday: Erg erg erg erg. Stretching and core work.
  • Thursday: 4 mile GA run.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day
  • Saturday: 20 miles. Note: grab apple fritter on my way to meet up with the group
  • Sunday: 8 miles GA run
  • Total planned: 10 kilometers on the rowing machine, 41 miles on the trails

Finally - anyone here follow Penny (@southbaygirl) over at Planet Ynnep Running? (If not, shame on you!) She lives on that hill over there. Did I say it was a spectacular day?

On tap tonight - a date with my rowing machine.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year. New Goals. New Results?

As mentioned yesterday, it's time to bare my soul and layout my goals and aspirations for all to see. Besides, it keeps me honest and accountable. Normally, this is the point that I tell you how many marathons I'll run and how many miles I'm squeezing in this year. But, I'm going to throw a little change up here. No. I'm not going to stop running. But I am planning on running less.

First, some of you have told me I need to change the title of my blog. As much as I'd like to, I feel that I'm still a bit on the large side. Yes - I've managed to drop a lot of weight over the last two and a half years. As of today, I'm at 216 pounds. Yes - a far cry from the 260 I was at when I started this whole thing, but it's still 4 pounds more that I was at in October for the Long Beach Marathon. And at 5' 11", 216 is still too much to be carrying on my frame. So, here's goal #1:
  • Drop 30 pounds and change the name of my blog by 12/31/2010
To do this I'm going to need to start to carefully watch my intake. Which includes starting to judiciously measure portions. Some eat because they run. I run because I eat.

Love2Mags suggested something that is intriguing: 2010 in 2010. Mags - you had me thinking for a while. I mean really thinking. That one is almost too good to pass up. But, instead I really need to spend time working on some jiggly parts - core and abs. I can (a) spend time in the gym, or (b) spend time on my rowing machine. Ummm, (b) wins. I can combine some core and ab work with a great cardio workout. I'd like to row one to two days a week, and spend three to four days a week in my running shoes. So, goal #2 translates to:
  • Run 1250 miles and row 500,000 meters (310 miles). That works out to an average of 25 miles run and 10 kilometers rowed per week.

I'll be reducing the days and miles run and starting up on the ergometer. Not quite sure what I'll be blogging about on rowing days. The color of the walls in my garage? Who knows. My son still has a Hudson single scull in the boathouse. Maybe I'll venture out on the water when it warms up.

I learned early on that training for a marathon and losing weight are mutually exclusive. Limiting caloric intake makes it tough to effectively train. So, the LA. Marathon will be my last this year. But, the weight loss should make for a little more quickness. In lieu of a marathon goal this year, goal #3 is:

  • PR at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances

Once March passes, I'll start to race more and be more serious about shorter distances. Puke threshold? I guess I'll find out.

And finally, I really need to:

  • KEEP IT FUN!!!!

I learned last year what happens if things start going sideways. This year I reserve the right to change up on the fly. If things becoming drudgery, I'll mix in some new stuff. Fresh = Fun.

So there you go. Keep me honest folks! I'm counting on it!

On the platter this morning: 16 miles. Uff.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year! Looking Back at 2009

It's that time of year. Time to look back to see what went right and what didn't. This time last year, I set four goals:

  1. Build my base to 35 - 45 miles per week
  2. Put in 1500 miles during the year
  3. Run one marathon
  4. Keep it fun!

Time for accountability!

Build my base to 35-45 miles per week: FAIL. Actual weekly average was 29 miles per week. My inexperience showed when setting this goal. I didn't include things like marathon recovery, illness, etc. If I would have thought about it, to *average* 35 mpw means that I would need to run closer to 45 mpw during training. If I would have followed Pfitz to a tee for Long Beach, I may have had a chance. As it was, I only averaged 33 mpw during Marathon training! Ain't going to achieve my goal with that effort!

On the positive side, I did hit a couple of milestones. I put in two weeks over 50, 11 weeks over 35, and 30 weeks over 30 miles. Compared to last year (2008), my weekly mileage represents a 53% increase! Maybe that's why I'm a little faster now than back at the beginning of the year.

Put in 1500 miles during the year: YESSSSS! When I set this goal, I thought this would be a no brainer. After all, 35 miles per week for 50 weeks (yes - I did plan a couple weeks for vacation) is somewhere around 1750 miles. Plenty of cushion right? Well, maybe not so much. It took me to the last day of the year to get this done. On the positive side though, I found this goal kept me more motivated than any other over the last month of 2009. This was *definitely* the stretch goal.

Run one marathon: YESSSS! October 18, 2009 - Long Beach. Still get goosebumps thinking about it. I missed my time goal. I had to resort to a brisk walk at times the last six or seven miles. All those things that weren't supposed to happen. And it still provided a sense of accomplishment like very few other things have. How can so much go wrong but the end result still feel so right? Total. Positive. Experience.

Keep it fun: MEH. This goal I honestly have to give the waving hand to. It started out fun. Things were fun because I was so bad it wasn't hard to get better. Check it out - in the months of April, May and June, I set PRs at every distance. And not just by a few seconds:

  • April 9; 25.24 5K PR (by 1:15) at the Costa Mesa Community Run
  • June 6, 2009: 55:00 10K PR at the Wrigley River Run. And this was *after* stopping at the water station to talk to a friend. And walking during mile 4.
  • May 3, 2009: 2:09:07 HM PR (by 9:52) at the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon. This was the prime example of peaking at the right time

But after that, everything became an effort. The miles were big, the time commitment big, and the trails the same as I had been running for two years. Even though I PR'd at the Long Beach Marathon by half an hour, my inability to break 5 hours was a real downer. Every race after that was like a giant step backwards, culminating in the Shelter Island 5K that was 1:30 off my PR, and the Make Room for Santa 10K a full 1:30 slower than five months earlier. I let it get to me. Running became drudgery. It's easy to tell someone that they shouldn't be too critical of themselves - that it happens to everyone. Yeah - it's easy to tell someone. It's infinitely more difficult to put it into practice. It took the realization that if I dilly dallied any longer my 1500 mile goal was in jeopardy to get me out the door without force again.

In short - I learned a bunch of things this year. Some of it was about running. A lot of it was about myself. Face it - anyone can run. It took desire that I didn't know I had to keep plugging away. It took imagination and adaptability that I didn't know I had to make changes to my plans and techniques to keep moving forward. I guess it's not always as easy as just putting one foot in front of the other.

On tap tomorrow: goals for 2010.