Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hill Times Four

Yesterday was hill day. This week I chose a new hill. It is a quarter mile long exactly, and is *steep* - elevation gain on the quarter mile is almost 100 feet.

I started with a 2 mile jog to warm up, and wound everything down with a 1.6 mile jog. Total mileage - 5.6 miles. I'm quite tired this morning as a result of the run! Today is a three mile recovery run followed by some stretching and core strengthening.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Three Mile Tuesday a thing of the Past

Yup - this week, three mile Tuesday became Four Mile ?????. My Higdon plan added a mile to the Tuesday run to put me at four miles today. As per the plan, I picked up the pace a little and ran a 9:40 pace for the four miles. This would have been faster if I didn't need to make a pit stop two miles in. I am beginning to feel a little faster. When I first started this training cycle, I was having trouble running a 10:30 mile. Yesterday, I put in a 9:00 first mile. So - things seem to be working. For sure - my legs are feeling tired at the end of some of my harder runs, so that is good!

Today is hill day. We increase by one repeat today, so it's going to be a tough one! Here I come!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Short Run Day (Again)

Yes - it was three mile Monday. The run was supposed to be followed by some strength work, so I decided that I would run from the Newport Aquatic Center. I took off to the south, which meant that I had to climb the "Hill". Turns out that the "Hill" can also be used for my hill runs, since it is a quarter mile long! I now have three hills for Hill Day Wednesdays.

It was very pleasant yesterday. I ended up running the bluff above the bay at Castaways on my short out and back. I then hit the weight room at the NAC for my normal stretching and core workout. It seems that I'm starting to see some results - my times are coming down (my easy run yesterday seemed to be easy at a 9:30 pace) and my core workouts are getting easier. Now I just need to drop the pounds that I put on the past couple of weeks. I've been a food magnet since starting my running again. My body must be trying to tell me something....

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Shoes

I broke down yesterday and got some new shoes. Stayed with the tried and true Asics Gel Kayanos. The results were pretty immediate. No lower back pain. The nagging pain in my calves and shins is gone.

This morning I am a little stiff from my workout yesterday. Yesterday was the first fartlek workout that I have done running. My pace varied widely, as fast as 6:30 per mile and as slow as 12:00 per mile. I tried to run fast a quarter a mile at a time, but by the time things were wrapping up, I was lucky to get a tenth of a mile in without blowing up. But - that's okay. To be honest - this was one of the quickest 33 minutes I've done. It really did not seem like 33 minutes had passed.

Today I'll keep it easy for 3 miles followed by some strength (core) work....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slow Run

Yesterday's long run was a good one for me! I kept the pace slow (10:30) but pretty constant. My Higdon plan called for seven miles, so I ran lower and upper back bay out and back for a little over an hour. It was satisfying to run for an hour non-stop. It felt good to work up a sweat. I feel that I am getting back to where I was pre marathon.....

Friday, July 25, 2008

3 More

Put in another 3 miles yesterday. Nothing eventful on the run. I did the Lower Back Bay trail - and have found another hill to use for hill training! Ah - variety!

Only a couple of things of note. First, my left knee has been sore lately especially when first starting. Once I get a half mile or so in, everything seems to loosen up and starts feeling much better. Second, I've been feeling really tired. I am sure this is related to going from no activity to training six days a week. I'll see how this goes in the coming weeks. I'm watching my diet and have noticed that I am a bit light on the protein side. I'll start eating more protein, especially post workout (protein shake), to see if I'm able to inject some more energy through diet. Finally, I'm feeling some aches and pains, especially in my calves and shins. I looked in my shoes last night and it appears that they are starting to wear out - so I'll keep an eye on that too!

But for now - I'm looking forward to my rest day today!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hill Repeats

Yesterday's workout were hill repeats. I replicated last Wednesday's workout on the Upper Back Bay trail. This week my pace was about 30 seconds faster than last week, primarily because I was able to complete the hills (all the way up), but I felt it when I got back home. I'll be doing an easy 3 miles today with some strength training after.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three More Tuesday

Put in three more miles yesterday. I did the north route out of the NAC. Three miles put me about at the intersection of Santiago and Galaxy, where I turned around and came back. I then spent a few minutes in the weight room working on the ab exercises from Runner's World to wrap up an easy day.

Today is hill day. Higdon calls for 2 mile warm up followed by 3 hill repeats of about a quarter mile. Last week I ran the hill off of Irvine and University - I think I'll do the same today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

3 Mile Monday

Yesterday was "3 Mile Monday" on the Intermediate Higdon Spring Training plan that I've been following. I ran a mile and a half out and back on the bluff above the ocean at Crystal Cove State Park. I feel like I'm getting back in the swing of things, putting in a 9 minute mile 1, slowing my pace to a 9:55 mile 2, and a 10:00 pace for mile 3 for an overall 9:40 pace. I felt good after the run, so maybe things are getting back to pre-injury state. Yea!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tempo Run Sunday, Magic Shoe 5K

I started my Sunday with a stiff and sore back, leftover from Saturday's run. It was better than Saturday night, but still uncomfortable. I had decided earlier in the week to volunteer some time for Cal Coast at the Magic Shoe 5K - especially since at this point I've only been back to training for a week and knew I wasn;t going to run. This was a neat little race - about 500 or so runners, and kind of unique for a 5K - chip timed! The course was flat, and based on what I saw, it looks like a lot of PRs were set! In fact, the top time was a sub 14:00 (13:56 or something ridiculous like that).

I followed up my brief stint there with my first tempo run since starting the new training plan. Did a 30 minute run in Crystal Cove. I had to start out slow because of my back, but after about 5 minutes or so, my back loosened up and I was able to get my pace down to an 8:42 toward the end of mile 2.

Today, I'm still a little stiff - especially my lower back. It's uncomfortable to bend down and to get up from a chair, but other than that I feel pretty good. In fact, the knee pain I've been having for the last week seems to be resolving as well. I'm looking forward to a new week of running!

Long Run Saturday

Saturday was long run day. The run was a six mile run on the Lower Back Bay trail. I slowed my pace down a little (10:30) and had a very comfortable run. Much better than last week! Heck, I was even able to jog up "the hill"!

The only issue started up a few hours after the run when my lower back flared up with stiffness and soreness. Nothing serious (I think), just a lot of soreness and stiffness from running too far too fast on asphalt. The pain got so uncomfortable Saturday evening that I had to resort to some Tylenol. But, I was pleased with the progress I seem to be making after a week of post injury running.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rest Day Friday

On this new plan, I have one rest day per week - Fridays. So yesterday, I took what I felt was a well deserved day off. I'm actually up now Saturday morning, and while not 100%, I *am* feeling more rested than yesterday.

I'm looking forward to my 6 miler this morning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Core Strength

After my 3 mile easy run yesterday, I started a core strengthening program based on the "Perfect Abs" article in the January 2008 Runner's World. Ugh.....

I'm going to be adding this workout to my training plan 3 times a week. Based on yesterday's grunts and today's groans, it certainly can't hurt.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hill Work

Yesterday I was introduced to a new type of training by my plan - hill work. My plan called for a 2 mile jog, then a 3x hill of about a quarter mile, followed by a 2 mile jog.

My Higdon plan said to not worry about the inclination of the hill - just choose something about the right length (quarter of a mile more or less). On my normal Upper Back Bay run there is a hill that is almost a quarter mile in length, so, off I went to try my workout.

I ended up at just under 5 miles total including the hill workout. I did 20 minutes of stretching to work out some of the soreness. It is amazing how hard I am having to work after my injury layoff.

Today is a three mile easy run and a weight workout. Talk to you afterwards!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Huffing and Puffing

But I got another 3 miles in yesterday. I tried pushing the pace a little yesterday, but by mile 3 I was pretty spent. It really is eye opening how much fitness I've lost in 6 weeks since the marathon. I think I'll need to scale my pace back a bit and get back into shape. Whew!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Three Miles on a Two Mile Trail

I started a 12 week Higdon Training plan today. I need to get back into shape after a 6 week layoff since the Rock n' Roll Marathon. I chose the 12 week Intermediate Spring Training program. It starts off easy enough and builds to weekly mileage between 25 and 30. I'll do the Cal Coast long runs on Saturdays and the mileage should be good.

Tonight I was looking for somewhere different to run, so I went over to Bonita Creek Park thinking that the trail that takes off was a 1.5 mile run, so out and back would have made 3. Too bad for me! The trail was only a one mile out and back. I had some mean climbing up to the Bonita Creek housing tract, back down to Arroyo Grande Park, and then back up and down again. Needless to say, my 9:45 pace was shot. But I did finish and it was great to start back into the swing of things!

I'm Back! (And Sore!)

Well - Saturday saw my return to running. I hooked up with Cal Coast and ran a little 6 miler. All systems appear to be good!

I was surprised at how much conditioning I've lost. Four miles would have been a perfect distance. Six miles was a little long though. I wanted to take it easy (and will continue to do so for the next few weeks), but by mile 5 I was just shuffling along. But, the real pain came a few hours later. Sore legs, sore back. Ugh - pain when I move. It felt good!

I'm now going to start a Higdon Intermediate 12 week conditioning cycle. We'll see where this all leads!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

An El Moro Hike

As I get ready to start running again, I am trying to do some work to get back into shape (or at least maintain what I had). I had originally thought about taking another trek up Baldy today, but with gas at $4.50 a gallon, I wasn't sure that I wanted to drive an hour each direction again. The decision was made when I woke up nice and refreshed, and at 7 AM. To leave for Baldy would have meant that I wouldn't get started until close to 9 and probably have to face the heat of the day. So, I wandered down the coast to El Moro canyon and put in a loop hike there.

I hit the trail at 7:45 AM, and decided to climb the BFI and do Moro Ridge. Normally I jog this route, but I am still recovering from my cycling accident, so I hoisted my Cambelback hydration pack, put on the hiking boots, and tried to keep the pace brisk. In total, I went 9.6 miles today in just under 3 hours, so I did manage to keep my pace a little better than a walk.

The other thing I did today was manage to snap a couple of pictures of El Moro Canyon. This place is literally an oasis in an area that is overrun by expensive homes. I am glad that this gem has been set aside for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Off My Butt and Up Baldy

This past weekend I got off my butt and got some exercise. I made an attempt on climbing Mt. Baldy just north of Claremont/Upland. Mt. Baldy is the large granite mastiff that presents itself as the Eastern buttress on L.A's skyline. As would be typical with something so close to the big city, there are several routes up the mountain. They all start several miles and several thousand feet below.

I decided to try going up the "Ski Hut" route. The "Ski Hut" is actually run by the Sierra Club, and can be used by anyone as shelter. It was originally built in the 30's and now serves as a great rest stop on one of the routes up Baldy. The Ski Hut route is a no nonsense route up the hill - 4.2 miles one way, 4000 foot elevation gain. This would be my first time up the mountain using this route.

The real trick to this route is finding it in the first place. The trail starts up a paved fire road, which continues to Baldy Notch and the ski area on the mountain. The first thing to look for is San Antonio Falls on your left:

At that point, the road turns to the right, and then the trail to the ski hut, unmarked, branches off to the left. It's real easy to miss this one! The trail is there on the left:

From there, it's on up the hill for the next 2 miles to the ski hut. The grade is steady and uphill the whole way. The ski hut is a little oasis on the trail. I took a (well deserved) rest in the shade of the pines and the sound of the rushing stream. After a few minutes and a Clif bar, I gathered myself and continued up the use path up the Baldy Bowl.

At this point, the trail steepened and the going got a little tougher as the altitude increased. The next highlight is a saddle at a little over 9,000 feet, a little over 3 miles from the start. I made it that far and had a little sit down to gather my breath. At this point everything was starting to take its toll. My legs were screaming, my hands (bruised in the bike accident two weeks ago) were sore from gripping my hiking poles, my marathon blisters (from three weeks earlier) were starting to act up, and it was time to turn around. I had no idea how close to the top of the mountain I was either, because the only thing I could see in front of me was more climbing up a ridge. I decided that it would be better to turn around and head on down. At least I knew I had enough to make it down the same trail.

So, I looked ahead, and made the decision to turn around and try again another day. Had I known that I was a little over half a mile to the top... Oh well!

By the way - photos are on my Flickr site at