Monday, August 30, 2010

Decision Time

Well – my training has hit an all time low. Life is getting pretty stressful these days, and I’m not adapting well right now. It seems that everything I’m trying isn’t working out the way I planned – running included. I am in a deep funk. I’m up about 8 pounds from where I started the year. I’m struggling to find make the time to get my training runs in. I am, in a nutshell, blowing it….

I’m at a decision point here. The Long Beach Half is seven weeks away. My last two HMs were (in my humble opinion) disasters. I’m not into paying good money to put in subpar performances. Which – if I don’t get my crap in order here pretty quickly – is bound to happen again.

So here’s my modified plan. I’ve got to take this in little bites. One day at a time this week. We’ll see how this week progresses. If it does, then I’ll do Long Beach. If it doesn’t, then I think I’m going to pull the plug and take a couple weeks off to get everything sorted out again.

  • Monday: Scheduled rest
  • Tuesday: 8X400 intervals. One mile warm up/one mile warm down for 6 miles total
  • Wednesday: 3 miles easy
  • Thursday: 30 minute tempo – 3 or so miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest
  • Saturday: 9 miles.
  • Sunday: Scheduled rest (Run to the Top on Monday)
  • Planned week: 21 miles
Once I make it past this week, I’m confident that the following six weeks have enough volume that I’ll do fine. I just need to make sure I’m in the game mentally….

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Now Even My Blogging is Inconsistent!

Yikes! The reason is because everything has kind of become boring and mundane in my running world these days. Wednesday I changed things up a little and actually ran part of my scheduled three miles on the sand at Crystal Cove State Beach. Which meant that I had a situation with a 100 foot staircase that I had to climb to get back to the top of the bluff. Yikes!

Running Crystal Cove 8-25-2010, Elevation - Distance

Total miles? 3.6. Pace? The staircase didn’t help.

As mentioned on Monday, I had a schedule conflict on Thursday, so I swapped my Thursday tempo run with my Friday rest day. So, on Friday I embarked on a 45 minute tempo run along the lower Back Bay. It was kind of a meh run. I’m still fighting to get my conditioning back to where it used to be. Patience grasshopper. The final verdict was a rather craptastic 4.6 miles. Hey. I’ll take it at this point.

On the weight front – it doesn’t look like I’ll be changing my blog name soon (for that story – check out this post). Part of the issue is just a lower activity level (as you all have been hearing my whining for several weeks now). The other part are the AYCE* joints I’ve been frequenting. For example, on Friday, my son convinced my wife and I to try out some new cuisine for our palates – Korean BBQ. If you’ve not had Korean BBQ before, it’s kind of a unique set up. Imagine a big table with a hot plate in the middle. The staff delivers a bunch of plates with various types of picked and fresh vegetables, some dipping sauces, and then the highlight of the meal – meat! Well marbled beef brisket. Marinated beef. Thinly sliced chicken breast. Pork belly. *All you can eat. The meat is delivered. You cook it up on your table, and then chow down! Delicious!

IMG_0466 IMG_0464 IMG_0465If you are in the Irvine area, and are looking for delicious Korean BBQ, I’d highly recommend Shi Do Rak.  Very highly rated on Yelp.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pant Wheeze Pant Wheeze

That about sums up yesterday’s run. Hill repeats on what is quickly becoming my least favorite place in Southern California – the hill on San Joaquin Hills Road from the back bay to Jamboree. 120 feet up in 1/4 mile. Then back down to repeat. Eight times. A one mile warm up and a one mile cool down made for six tough miles. Well – at least the four in the middle were:

Running Lower Back Bay 8-24-2010, Heart rate (% of max HR)  - Distance

In a related note – summer has finally arrived in Southern California. We have been experiencing one of the coolest summers on record. Well – this week the heat is on. Not Phoenix or Las Vegas heat – but it was 90 yesterday at the beach! I think it was still in the upper 70’s when I hit the hills at 6:45 in the evening. All I know is I polished off three bottles of water in the process yesterday. I’m still feeling dehydrated this morning.

Things are supposed to be cooling down after today. In fact – by Sunday the temperature is supposed to be back in the mid 60’s. They’re talking about the chance of a dusting of snow in the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevada this weekend. Well summer – it was nice while it lasted…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Lack of Consistency is Alarming

I missed yet another day of training on Sunday. Work called. Not that I stand a real chance winning the bid for the proposal I spent the weekend on (that’s not a bad thing given the job), but I had to go through the effort for the client. Sigh. Four miles were flushed away as a result.

So – last week wrapped up with runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A busted interval workout, a tempo run and a long run for a total of 17 miles. Crap. I’ve got a half marathon in seven weeks. And I haven’t run with any volume (more than 20 miles) since the last week in June. Crap. Well – I guess that’s why running is a hobby. Until I can figure out how to make a living at it….

At the risk of another broken week (I already know Thursday is going to be a problem), here’s my current schedule:

  • Monday: Schedule rest day
  • Tuesday: 8 hill repeats. One mile warm up and warm down for a total of 6 miles
  • Wednesday: 3 miles easy
  • Thursday: 45 minute tempo. About 4 1/2 miles.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day (I may flop this with Thursday so I can get my appointment and run in).
  • Saturday: 9 mile long run.
  • Sunday: 3 miles easy
  • Total planned: 25.5 miles

I’ve got seven weeks to Long Beach. Time to get serious or wonder about the wisdom of spending the dough….

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nine Miles and a Cloud of Dust

Normally, my long runs are in the mornings with my running club. But, after a fitful night of sleep, I slept well beyond my normal wakeup time. I wasn’t about to run without having my coffee, so I put it off. And put it off. And put it off a little longer. Finally, around 6:30 PM, I shuffled out the door for my scheduled nine miler.

I put nine in the books, but I’m really shocked at the loss of fitness that has occurred. Well, maybe not shocked given how inconsistent my training has been. Concerned might be a better word. The run was a Higdon 3/1 – the first 2/3 (6.75 miles) run at a normal long run pace, and the final third (2.25 miles) at race pace. I had no trouble with the first 2/3s of the run, and for a change, I actually kept it in the target zone. I picked up the pace when I hit 6.75 miles, and settled in to HM pace. For about a mile. Yikes!

Now – I’m not totally devastated for a number of reasons. First, I was woefully under fueled. I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch, and even after dinner:

  • Calorie budget:1762 calories
  • Food consumed: 1937 calories
  • Exercise calories: 1448 calories
  • Net calories: 489 less than plan

And those 489 remaining calories were *after* dinner which was *after* my run.

Second, my issues in that last couple miles wasn’t a cardio issue. My heart rate never got into the 90% MHR range. Rather – my legs were sore and heavy. That’s something I can work on. And will over the next few weeks….

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tempo Thursday

I managed to perform to plan for a change! I was out on the Back Bay in the late afternoon and got a 40 minute tempo run in. Just like the training plan said. Wow. What a concept.

That’s not to say everything went well. My heart rate strap seems to be on the fritz. Or else I ran at 110% of max for the whole run. At least I was smart and ran into the wind for the “out” portion of the run. Which meant that the wind was at my back for the “back” portion of the run. Still, I was only able to put in a measly 4.2 miles.

Nothing else earth shattering is going on. This is the time that I go through at some point in a training program – the doldrums. I’m plugging away, trying to put in the miles. Life is still happening and there are lots of changes are out on the (at this point) foggy horizon. Target races are all several weeks away and goal races even further. Every little tweak or niggle seems to be amplified. It’s easy during these times to lose interest.

Sigh. This isn’t the first time I’ve been through this. And it probably won’t be the last….

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foiled Again

So – I was planning on an easy 3 to 4 miles yesterday. But, life conspired yet again. I couldn’t get out of my office until 5:30 or so, and I had a social gathering at 7:00PM. So it was either run and show up stinky and hungry, or eat and shower. Being civilized won out and my run didn’t happen. So has my last month gone…..

Today I’ll try to get out for a 40 minute tempo run. I have a large proposal that I need to get out the door tomorrow – so my day will be consumed with that – but I don’t have anything going on this evening. I can always run late.

And – even though I know that missed miles are missed miles – I will try to add a couple or three miles to my weekend runs. I *have got to* work on my aerobic conditioning. I am *not* going to run another 2:30 half marathon in 8 weeks……

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

At Least I Tried

So, in a moment of surprise, I actually felt motivated enough to head out the door in the early afternoon and get my 400 intervals done. When I got to the local High School track, I noticed the football team was practicing on an adjacent field, so I moved onto the track and got things underway.

My mile warm up went well, and I settled into what was planned to be an 8X400  with 400 rest:

  • Interval 1: 1:59
  • Interval 2: 2:04
  • Interval 3: 2:13 (!!!)
  • Interval 4: 2:01
  • Interval 5: 2:08 (Starting to tire. Tongue dragging.)
  • Interval 6: 2:15 (Friction of tongue dragging over long distance slowed me down)

And – just as I was dreading interval #7, the football team made their way over to the field (which is in the middle of the track) for some live drills. I had two more intervals and a mile warm down left (two more miles), but, not wanting to be the Running Flat Guy, I decided that I would wrap up the evening*.

On tap today – 4 easy miles (I’ll add one of the missed miles from yesterday). It’s uncharacteristically warm and humid for Southern California (it rained on me on the way to work this morning), so I’m hoping I won’t melt.

* Analyzing the data, it turned out that things went pretty well anyways – I spend over 9 minutes at heart rate above 88% of max.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 3 on the Way

I need to apologize for my infrequent posting these days. Several things are going on with life that are taking my time and attention away from some of the fun things in life. Oh well. Since I can;t say that I make a living out of running, I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it.

This week starts week 3 of my journey to the Long Beach Half:

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: 8 X 400, mile warm up, mile cool down for 6 miles total
  • Wednesday: 3 miles easy
  • Thursday: 40 minute tempo
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: 9 mile aerobic
  • Sunday: 3 miles easy
  • Total: 25 miles

I would like to pump the mileage up a bit, but with everything else going on I’m having trouble finding the time to execute the plan, much less add more to it. In fact, last week there were a couple days I didn’t get in, so I finished up with a rather anemic 18 miles on my feet.

Off to make good with life challenges!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wow! What a Craptastic Week!

Okay – a small attempt at humor. This is actually a two part blog post – “Wow!” followed by “What a Craptastic Week”. First the good stuff…


As I was wrapping up my day Friday, I received this email from the Events Director from the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce”

“I was looking through mentions of the Dana Point Turkey Trot via Google and came across your blog.  I saw that you might not be participating in the Dana Point Turkey Trot this year because of crowding and wanted to let you know that we are changing a few things.  We have seen a lot of feedback regarding crowding and safety, so this year the start and finish will be located in the parking lot of Doheny State Beach.  That gives us a lot more space to spread runners out and the course (as of right now) will go backwards, so there is not that squeeze over the Doheny park bridge at the beginning of the course.

If you have any other feedback from a runner’s perspective, I would love to hear it.  Hope to see you in November.”

As I said earlier. Wow. An Events Director that is taking the initiative. I guess I need to take back all those things I was talking with my wife about – how customer service is a lost art. Way to go Dana Point Chamber of Commerce! I’m in on Turkey Day! (For a refresher, here’s what I said about this race a couple weeks ago.)

And now for…

What a Craptastic Week!”

That about sums it up. Monday’s rowing session was canceled due to work commitments. Tuesday’s run went well, but Wednesday saw the big goose egg again as work called. Thursday I embarked on a 30 minute tempo run, but I only covered 3.1 miles on a somewhat hilly course. Friday was a scheduled rest day. Then today (Saturday). Well, let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve run 5 miles with such a high perceived effort (heart rate monitor strap was nowhere to be found)and such a slow pace (slower than 10:00).

To top it off, I haven’t been able to accurately track my calories since Wednesday, and I’ve been plowing through the junk food the last couple of days. Just today I’m around 500 calories over budget. Time for a reset!

Tomorrow morning I’m hitting the trails in Laguna Coast for 6 or so miles. Resetting…. NOW!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Calorie Tracking – A Must Have App

Note: I’ve received several questions over that past couple weeks about how I track calories. Face it, if it’s not convenient to enter the what I’m eating when I’m eating it, it ain’t gonna happen. That is why I have settled on an iPhone app called LoseIt!

The application is easy to use and very intuitive.The application is really targeted to people who are trying to lose weight. You start your LoseIt! experience by entering typical information – starting weight, goal weight, gender, height, birth date and your weekly weight loss goal:


The program then calculates your calorie budget and you're ready to go!


Now – the real benefit of this program is that you can track your intake while it’s happening. Data en try is easy and intuitive. Push “Add Food”, select the meal, and then search for the food from the very comprehensive food database:

Not only are there the standard foods (e.g., bread, milk, eggs, etc.) but food are also categorized by manufacturer - like in this search for Grandma's Oatmeal cookies:

Then, what absolutely blew me away? A entire database of restaurant food! I can enter my In-n-Out Double-Double!

Entering intake is only half of the equation though. By pushing “Add Exercise”, you can access an entire database of physical activity


Any exercise that you’ve done is saved in “My Exercises” so there isn’t a need to search through the extensive database each time you book a workout:


You then select the intensity and length of your workout, and the calories are then folded into your daily summary:


IMG_0451One word of caution here – calorie burn due to exercise can be calculated any number of ways, and no two methods are identical. Don’t be surprised when the calculation from LoseIt! (or any other calorie tracking program) doesn’t agree with your Garmin. I find that calorie count from LoseIt! is more conservative (i.e., fewer calories) than my Garmin.

So there you go. The app that I use to track calories. Now if I could just find an app that would compel me to use it religiously!

  • The app: LoseIt! for the iPhone and iPod Touch
  • More info at their website:
  • Cost: FREE!!!!!

Oh – I did get an easy 3 miler in yesterday. So here’s how the day stacked up:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Food consumed: 2092
  • Exercise calories: 407
  • Net calories: 1685 (77 calories under budget! Yea!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We Learn From Our Mistakes…

Or so the saying goes. If this was true, then I don’t know why I tried to eat all day yesterday without logging my food until the evening. Here’s the damage:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Food consumed: 2944
  • Exercise calories: 760
  • Net calories: 2184 (422 calories over budget! Yikes!)

If you notice – there are some exercise calories there. My son and I finished seven hill repeats charging from the Back Bay to Jamboree Road on San Joaquin Hill Road:

Running Lower Back Bay 8-10-2010, Elevation - Distance

Add a mile warm up and a mile warm down for 5 and half really painful miles. My legs are really feeling it today.

I’ll be out for three miles easy this evening. And hopefully an answer to the question of what I use to track my calories….

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gear Review!

About a week and half ago, I won a giveaway. Yippee for me! This in itself is a major deal – the last time I won anything, I must have been a wee tot. So – I was excited when Rad Runner told me that I had won her Alo giveaway. Not only did I win a contest – but it was for something that I could use! A few days later I sent my info to her, and viola! Within a day I had a package from Alo. Nice customer service!

I received a short sleeve Bamboo tee (unfortunately that’s *not* me modeling the shirt):M1016R-f

I took it out for a spin on Sunday traipsing through the trails of the Laguna Coast Wilderness. Here are my thoughts (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being a-okay):

  • Comfort – 5: There is something about the bamboo (that’s right) cotton blend. It is comfy comfy comfy. I would replace all of my other tech shirts in a second with more made of this blend. Unlike some of my rougher tech shirts, there was absolutely no hint of chafing anywhere. Especially on those oh so sensitive areas on a guy’s torso…
  • Wicking – 3: This is more a personal thing, but as much as I sweat, I *need* something that will wick moisture (okay – sweat) well. This shirt certainly wicked, but as much as I sweat it had a difficult time keeping up. By the time I was done with an easy four miles in the 65 degree/85 percent humidity weather, i was a sopping dripping mess. To be fair, if it were the middle of the day with lower humidity, I probably wouldn’t have left a trail of sweat.
  • Quick Dry – 5: Since, in general, I get soaked regardless what I wear, a *very important* measure to me is how quickly my shirt (or clothing in general) dries. I can tell you – I was shivering uncontrollably in San Francisco when I was standing in the cold still soaked 20 minutes after my race. Well – with this shirt, I was dry and comfortable within 10 minutes after my run. Outstanding!
  • Overall – 4++: This is now *the* most comfortable workout shirt in my collection. Guys - if you have an opportunity to get an Alo shirt – do it!

Thanks again Alo and Rad Runner!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Weekend of Running

This post will be like my weekend of running – short.

Saturday – 9 miles on the San Diego Creek trail. Nothing too exciting or news worthy. Sunday – 3.7 miles in El Moro (Deer Canyon Loop). It was nice to be back on the trails.

Saturday’s calorie count:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Calories consumed: 3105
  • Exercise burn: 1303
  • Net calories: +40

Sunday’s calorie count:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Calories consumed: 2801
  • Exercise burn: 652
  • Net calories: +388

So, for the week:

  • 20.2 miles, 4.3 less than plan
  • 295 calories over plan

Hmm. Now I see why I’m not losing weight.

On the schedule this week:

  • Monday: Cross train. I’ll try to climb on the erg for 30 minutes.
  • Tuesday: 7 hill repeats. One mile warm up, one mile cool down for about 5.5 miles
  • Wednesday: 3 miles easy
  • Thursday: 30 minute tempo
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: ??
  • Sunday: 5K race
  • Total – 17.5 – 20 miles

The reason for the questions about Saturday is that I’m supposed to race a 5K on Sunday. But, not only do I not feel that I am ready for one (and why waste the money), I’m having trouble finding one close by. So, I may switch up Sunday’s race for six miles or so on Saturday.

Finally – I received no responses for my question last week about “Away We Go!” Here’s a photo from Jackie Gleason’s mausoleum in Miami:


And – because I’m an old fart and can still remember that far back – Johnny Olson was the announcer on the old Jackie Gleason show (not the Honeymooners) – who would start every week’s show with Jackie’s tagline as the June Taylor Dancers made their way out on the stage. Ahhhhh! Saturday evening family TV in the 60’s!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tempo Run (?)

I don’t know the last time I completed a tempo run. Maybe back in February while training for the L.A. Marathon? Well, whenever it was, that streak is still intact, because while a tempo run was on the schedule yesterday, I didn’t complete it! Yikes!

The plan was a 45 minute tempo. Everything started great – first ten minutes was a nice smooth warm-up. When my Garmin beeped at me, I stepped up the pace a little and had no problem dropping into 10K pace. I shortened my stride as I ascended the two or three small uphill grades. I hit the turnaround at 12:30 into the tempo and ran into it. The wind. The damn on shores. Blowing with all their might. No wonder I was able to switch into and hold 10K pace so easily. Mother Nature was pushing me along! There was going to be no such luck on the way back.

Sure enough. My pace slowed. My lungs started hurting. At 12:00 I had to do it. Stop. Walk. Gather my wits and slow down my heart rate. Two more times in the next 10 minutes I had to slow down. The wind was blowing directly into my face. It was a tough tough 12 and a half minutes minutes.

Final stats on the run – 45 minute tempo run, 4.6 miles total, middle 25 minutes at 9:39 pace (blech). I’m still waiting for that first tempo run since February….

On the diet front:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Calories consumed: 2614
  • Exercise burn: 733
  • Net calories: +119

Funny what some ice cream will do. Real funny.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finally Underway

Well – the next training cycle finally got underway on Wednesday. Three miles in the Back Bay. We were supposed to start on Tuesday, but between my son’s college orientation and my wife’s visiting family Tuesday became a write off. Not the best way to start a training cycle – hopefully it doesn’t portend things to come.

Now that I’m back to training, I’ll also be posting my progress (or lack thereof) toward my diet goal:

  • Daily calorie budget: 1762
  • Calories consumed: 2104
  • Exercise burn: 489
  • Net calories: –146

Today – 45 minute tempo run. Yikes!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Journey Begins

Okay. One week post SF Half Marathon. I think I’m ready to start a long journey.

I took last week off. Completely. Decided that after three years it was time for a week with no training at all. Nothing. Nada. I think my body is thanking me, even though it may be a pound or two heavier.

But, it’s time to get back to work. For the next ten or so weeks I’ll be training with my son as we run our way to the Long Beach Half Marathon. For this week:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: On the track. 7X400 at 5K pace. One mile WU and WD. 5.5 total.
  • Wednesday: 3 mile easy
  • Thursday: 45 minute tempo. Somewhere around 5 miles
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 9 miles. Will probably hit the trails.
  • Sunday: 3 mile easy
  • Total: 25.5 miles.

So tonight – it’s off to the track to drag some tongue….

Sunday, August 1, 2010

And Away We Go!

… to borrow a term from  Johnny Olson (okay – everyone as old as me – what show is that line from? Hint – the show was cancelled in 1970). I spent the past couple of days laying out my training and racing plans from now until my 2011 goal race. Some thoughts:

  • Assuming about 400 miles out of a pair of shoes, I will go through 4 pairs.
  • The string of 50+ mile weeks later this year is pretty intimidating right now.
  • Nine races on the calendar. Three of them 26.2 or longer. Yikes!
  • Nine races on the calendar? I thought I said a week ago that one of my problems was too much racing and not enough training.

So – here’s how things are going to stack up. For my next two goal races (Long Beach Half in October, and the Southern California Half in January), I’m following the Hal Higdon Advanced Half Marathon plan with one week off in between. Then, in early January I embark on my journey to the High Sierra.

In the meantime – here’s my tentative race schedule:

So there we go. Now I’m committed. Maybe in more ways than one.