Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nothing Like Waiting Until the Last Minute

Yes, I was supposed to have this all out of the way and done on Monday. But I didn't. Then on Tuesday I was on a plane to Chicago. Yesterday I had to deal with this:

And this:

Earlier this morning I was back on a plane dealing with this:

And this:

(Wait a minute - didn't they drop him?)

So here we are, the last day of 2009. And I'm three miles short of my goal. So, a little after three today I laced up my shoes and headed to my favorite hill for some punishment for being such a bad boy. Two mile warm up, five hill repeats, one mile warm down for a total of 5.5 miles.

THAT MEANS I DID IT!!!! Woot! Woot! Sometime around 3:30 or so I ran 1500 miles for the year. Final stats for 2009 - 1502.03 miles. That's like Los Angeles to Minneapolis!

Here's hoping that you and your family have celebrating a safe and happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Tough Cold Seven Wraps Week 6

So, just as I start feeling like I'm invincible, I have a run like yesterday's. Things just weren't right. The plan was to run 7 miles at marathon pace. The first issue was slowing down. After running so many miles lately at a faster pace, I found it incredibly hard to slow down and stay slow. Which, come to think about it, is *exactly* the purpose of these pace workouts! The second issue was the cold. I chose to run the Lower Back Bay, and because I got shanghaied into a little construction project during the day, I couldn't get out until dusk. The cold along with the moisture in the air had me hurting. By the time I wrapped up, every step hurt.

But, I got it done. The miles last night seemed to go on forever, but I got the seven done to cap a pretty awesome week. 38.25 miles total with the highlight being an 8 mile tempo run for my quality workout on Thursday.

I'm travelling this week, so flexibility will be the name of the game. Also, while my right knee is feeling a little better, I am still seriously considering a couple of days off to give it some rest. But, I'll put in some quality in this week:

Monday: 3 miles general aerobic (GA), followed by some core and stretching.
Tuesday: 8 miles GA. Traveling to Chicago, so this one may not happen.
Wednesday: 3 miles GA. See Tuesday.
Thursday: 5 hill repeats. Along with 2 mile warm up and 1 mile warm down, this will become 6 miles. I'm coming back from the Windy City, so depending on weather/delays this may not happen. If it doesn't, I'll push it to Friday.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 16 mile long run. Ugh. They're already staring to get long....
Sunday: 8 miles at race pace
Total: Somewhere between 33 and 45 miles.

Are we having fun yet? Only 12 more weeks to go!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

7/9/2007 6.00 13:10 12/26/2009 9.99 9:43 0.99333

I've picked up a few new followers lately. It always floors me that someone else finds my ramblings interesting enough to read. It floors me even more that people keep reading. Maybe it's insomnia? Maybe my blog is better than Ambien? After all, it's not like I am a 3 hour marathoner, or even a 20 minute 5K'er. I'm just a guy that goes out and tries to pick up a few miles here and a few seconds there. I watch those 4:30 marathoners with envy, wanting to grow up and be like them one day. So to the new folks - thank you for following me! And to the old folks (hmm, that didn't come out quite right) thank you for coming back!

So what's with the title? For those who have been following my babble for a while, it wasn't but a few weeks ago I was suffering from an advanced case of the running blahs. I lacked the motivation necessary to train. I literally had to force myself out the door. I talked myself into running slower and shorter. Every hour on the trails was drudgery. My times weren't improving. My fitness wasn't improving. It was just something I was doing out of habit. I wasn't satisfied. Yes. I was burning out.

It happens to everyone at some point. The trick is figuring out how to freshen things up. If you can inject life into the dead cow, then there might be some hope after all. For me, it's all about answering the question "Why am I doing this?" If I can answer that, then maybe I can recapture the flame.

So, back to the data I went. After all, we have these fancy watches and GPS devices and such. What good is all that if you're not going to look back at the story that the data tells? Basically, a lot of my story is today's title. The first part - "7/9/2007 6.00 13:10" is the first day that I got my butt off the couch and did something about my ever expanding girth. July 9th, 2007. Six miles at an average pace of 13:10 per mile. Slow. I don't have any heart rate data, but I can probably guarantee that the sweat was measured in gallons and the wheezing was audible. The second part - "12/26/2009 9.99 9:43". That's yesterday. 10 easy miles. At a 9:43 pace. Right smack in the middle of my aerobic zone. The last part - "0.99333". That's THE fraction. 1490 miles out of 1500 - the goal I set for myself back in January this year. That's 3 minutes and 30 seconds faster per mile than when I started in 2007 and a 50% increase in mileage from last year. Motivating? Heck ya!

The most motivating thing though is to look back and see how consistent this year has been. 10 months over 100 miles (an injury in January and Mt. Whitney and a mean ass cold in September put those two months in te can). Even in November when my motivation was waning, I still racked up 108 miles. And I was able to do this without breaking down or suffering an injury.

I wish I could give all of you new runners and new followers some magical advice that would instantly make you faster. Heck - I wish *I* could find that magic formula to getting faster. But, it was Coach Sumner a couple of weeks ago who pointed out to the new runners starting the L.A./O.C. Marathon training cycles - "The more you run, the better you get." It's been a lot of more, but I'm starting to see the better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas! I hope that Santa was nice to you and that you remembered the batteries. Here in California we are all pretty jealous of you Easterners and Midwesterners enjoying a White Christmas. It's just another boring winter day here in Southern California (snicker).

On the running front, I kicked my own butt yesterday. I did an 8 mile tempo run. One mile warm up, six miles at 10K pace, one mile warm down. A few observations:

  1. Tough workout!
  2. My middle six miles were at an 8:53 pace (10K pace minus ten seconds). If I would have done that on December 13th, I would have had a 10K PR.
  3. Wow. Tough workout!
  4. So *that's* the way that pain is supposed to feel.
  5. I finished the six miles with absolutely nothing left in the tank. Had to search for quarters on the ground for a minute or two to make sure there wasn't going to be spewage.
  6. After all that, I still brought in my warm down mile in 10:20 - that's a 4:30 marathon pace
  7. Did I say wow! Tough workout!

I *loved* this workout. Hard hard hard. It pushed me. Yet when all was done and I was on my way back to my car the pace was pedestrian. A pace that would put me at a 4:30 marathon. I am getting a feel for what I am capable of doing. Now it's just a matter of being able to do it for 26.2.

On another note, I emptied my camera and thought I would share some photos of Wednesday's run through Shady Canyon. Here's the entry to this pretty community:

Luckily, when developers were allowed to build in this canyon, the City of Irvine and Orange County stipulated that an easement for a multi-use trail be provided. As a result, we have this great trail though the hilly and beautiful terrain in Shady Canyon:

Hope you are having a safe and happy Christmas!
On the schedule today - rest. Whew!
Note on the battery reference: When I was a kid, I would get so frustrated going with my dad searching for batteries on Christmas day. Face it, new toys without batteries aren't very exciting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Countdown Continues

Sorry if I keep on tooting my horn here, but this is getting exciting. After my three miles yesterday (in the hills of Shady Canyon, 8:59 average pace, 80% of MHR), SportTracks is telling me I'm 28 miles short of my goal for the year:

Talk about motivating! On the schedule today is an eight mile tempo run - 1 mile warm up, 6 miles at 10K pace, 1 mile warm down. Then a 10 miler on Saturday, 7 on Sunday and 3 on Monday. Fireworks bells and whistles! Then I'm taking a few days off to let my knee rest.

Yup. I'm only six weeks into this training cycle and I'm already reaching for the bailing wire (*) and duct tape to hold things together. For the past few weeks I've been suffering from a pretty mean case of tendinitis in my right knee (it was one I injured impersonating an athlete in High School). Funny thing is the knee bothers me more getting into and out of a chair than it does when I'm running. But, I'll heed the wishes of my wife and give it a couple days rest in an attempt to avoid anything more serious.

If we don't talk before tomorrow - Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

(*) Note: For all of you young'uns out there, bailing wire was the crazy glue of my parent's generation.

Anything that broke from overuse could be patched together using bailing wire and duct tape! Wheelbarrow frame break? No problem. A little wire here, a little tape there. Shovel handle break? No problem, drill a hole here, a little wire there. Car won't start? Just wire that choke open. Car? Choke? Now I'm really showing my age.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Plugging Away

Nothing much new and exciting from the Running Fat Guy's camp. At this point I'm just plugging away at the hours and miles prepping for the L.A. Marathon. Yesterday was a seven mile easy run around the Upper Back Bay. Whipped it out in just over an hour (9:30 pace) at an easy effort. And so marathon training goes and will proceed for the next 12 and a half weeks.

Are you thinking about running your first marathon? I always hear a lot of indecision and fear from first timers. Fear of the distance. Fear of failing. Fear of disappointment. Here's my take: Everyone should experience a marathon. But, be ready.

You need to be ready for the pain that come with pushing your body farther than it's been pushed before (and I'm not even talking about the race). You need to be ready for the ups and the downs that Mr. Marathon can so evilly dole out (check out chicrunner's blog posts here and here to see what Mr. Marathon can do). You need to be ready for the disappointment when you realize at mile 14 that your goal time is a thing of the past and you're only a little more than half way into the beast (my story here). You need to be ready for the emotion as you cross the finish line:

You also need to be ready to shuffle around and climb stairs backwards for a couple of days:

So, if you think you're ready, don't tell me about how you can't. I have seen people of every size and shape at the finish line. Let me tell you about the tears in my eyes at mile 18 in Long Beach when I passed the guy pushing his wife in her wheelchair. I don't think "can't" is in her vocabulary.

Don't tell me about failing. You win by getting to the starting line.

Don't tell me about the disappointment that you might feel when you hit the tape at 5:59:59. First off, anyone who has run a marathon completely understands. Second off, if someone gives you crap about it, remind them you didn't see their feet cross the finish line.

Just be ready for the ultimate test of patience. Be ready for the weeks and months as hours and miles melt into hours and miles melt into hours and miles. Believe me -it's easy to talk yourself out of a few miles here and an hour or so there. Do that and I can guarantee you it will also be the most miserable 5 to 6 hours of your life. Be ready to trust in your coaches and training plan. Don't add a few miles here and a half an hour there because someone else is doing it. Do that and the injury bug will rear it's ugly head and you may never make it to the start line.

Yes - the marathon is a strange lure. Blow it and you'll be back to get even. Do a great job and you'll be back to recapture that feeling of accomplishment. If you *are* ready, take the plunge. The one thing I can guarantee is at the end of your training program you will be as fit as you've ever been in your life. The accomplishment of running hundreds of miles during training will leave you proud. And that pride will show as you take your 26.2 mile victory lap on race day.

P.S. - I think I am motivated again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A New Storm Blowing Through

Beware Easterners! There's a new storm blowing through Southern California coming your way. And just so you don't think I'm a complete wimp, I ended up finishing my run yesterday in the rain. But I have a purpose - I am within reach of my goal of 1500 miles for the year. I whipped out a three miler in 26:30 at heart rate of 76% of MHR. I was trying to push a little harder, but I just couldn't muster anything else from within. The issue yesterday were my legs. They are obviously still a little pissed about what I made them do over the weekend. A short run was just what the doctor ordered.

So, now here's my conundrum. I'm going to be out of commission Tuesday and Wednesday next week (business trip to Chicago). 38 miles this week leaves me 4 miles short of my goal. Monday is a scheduled three miler. Friday starts a new year. Talk about coming down to the wire!

One last thing - Santa was spotted in Southern California yesterday. Seems he's taking a little break from the snow and cold weather!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Left Coast!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week 5 in the Books

I wrapped up week 5 yesterday with an *outstanding* seven mile run along the coast to Laguna Beach. Anyone who has driven south on Pacific Coast Highway as it leaves Newport Beach/Corona del Mar has probably seen this sign:

Yes. The one up there on top of the hill. It has always intimidated me. I never thought that *I* would want to head up there. The traffic. The distance. The two hills!

I had a seven miler that I had to take care of last night. My normal Crystal Cove run is only a 2.5 mile out and back, which would leave me two miles short. Saturday's effort left me a little gimped up, and I was wondering if I was going to make it through the first couple of miles, much less seven. I toyed with running the extra two miles by doubling back. But, when push came to shove, I just buckled down, braved the traffic, the extra mile out and back, and the two hills on PCH. I can now add that sign to my accomplishments. Average pace was 9:58 at an average heart rate of 76% of max.

That wrapped up a 39 mile week. I was pretty pleased with all that happened last week - new distances at new speeds. I'm hobbling a little bit, but nothing that is "injury" status - just the little tweaks and niggles that happen when trying to push an old body to new heights.

This is week six, which in the Hal Higdon camp means it's a step back week. On the plan:

  • Monday: 3 easy (GA) miles. Stretching and core workout afterwards
  • Tuesday: 7 miles GA.
  • Wednesday: 3 miles GA.
  • Thursday: 8 mile tempo style run. See the note below
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 10 mile long run
  • Sunday: 7 miles race pace
  • Total: 38 miles

About my Thursday - one of the things that I discussed Saturday while running with Mike was my frustration with dying at mile 15 or 16 of a marathon. Here we were clipping along at a 4:15 pace pretty effortlessly, but I can't break 5 hours when the rubber hits the road! We discussed my training plan (yes - while running) and since he's a 53 year old BQ guy, I'm going to listen!

Here is what he suggested:

  1. Replace my track workouts with longer tempo style runs. He had always had success with these type of runs, and my body seems to be able to tolerate tempo runs pretty well.
  2. Over the next few weeks, lengthen out as far as 10 miles at a pace that will be just slower than my 10K pace (right around 8:50 to 9:00 per mile). Add up to a 2 mile warm up and a 2 mile warm down for up to 14 miles total.
  3. Ramp down some of my Tuesday and Sunday runs. The goal is to change the structure of my week, not the number of miles I'm running.
  4. About every 3rd week work in a hill workout instead of a tempo style run

With this in mind, I'm changing the 5X800s that was scheduled for Thursday to a 8 mile tempo run - 1 mile warm up, 6 miles at 8:45 - 8:50, 1 mile warm down. Next week I'll keep the hill workout on the plan, and from that point I'll stretch out these tempo runs.

Anyone else have success with this formula?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourteen Miles and A Big Flameout

So, I'm back in the realm of the double digit runs. Yesterday was a 14 miler up the San Diego Creek trail. The last time I ran anything this distance was the end of September. Has it really been that long?

I met up with Cal Coast bright and early at 7 AM. You can tell that a new training cycle has started (the Orange County Marathon) based on the number of bodies that showed up. We went through our normal warm ups, stretching, etc., and set off on the various distances that we were running. Because I'm a bit of a regular face I was assigned something to be responsible for - pacing a 9:00 per mile group (gah!) and getting the first timers (3 and 4 milers) turned around at their half way points. As we started out, I paired up with another runner and we kept each other company for a while. Turns out that this guy, Mike, is my age, needed to run 14 miles, and like me, had fought the scourge of the ever expanding girth in his middle years. But that is where the similarities ended! This is a guy who's best marathon time was a 2:47 when he was in college, and qualified for (and got his application in) the 2010 Boston Marathon. I was not worthy!

I got the second group turned around at the two mile point, and Mike and I continued on together. Wow. What a fountain of knowledge. Maybe I'm not worthy, but I'm also not stupid. I now have a number of changes that I will be making to my training plan. But the truly amazing thing was we kept clipping right along at a 9:20 - 9:30 pace. And not only was I able to maintain that pace, I was able to carry on a conversation. Well, as long as the sentences weren't longer than 5 words. I am finding that by shortening my stride and taking more steps per mile I seem to be running a lot more efficiently, which lets me run faster farther.

I finally did flame out about mile 11:

Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 2: 9:14 (included stops for the 3 and 4 milers)
Mile 3: 9:22
Mile 4: 9:32
Mile 5: 9:17
Mile 6: 9:29
Mile 7: 9:39 (uphills on the underpasses start showing themselves)
Mile 8: 8:55
Mile 9: 9:12
Mile 10: 11:06 (walk break required. Nearing my limit)
Mile 11: 9:22
Mile 12: 12:26 FLAMEOUT!!! (goose is cooked)
Mile 13: 10:55 (up the hill to CdM - 40 feet in a quarter mile, slight incline for a half mile then 110 feet in one mile)
Mile 14: 11:32 (goose is well done)

Overall: 9:56 pace. HRM strap battery needs to be replaced, so I don't trust the 67% of max data. I am ecstatic! To me, this is a huge stride forward. I completely forgot to bring any fuel yesterday and I didn't eat breakfast before leaving, so this run was done only with the fuel my body had stored. By mile 12, my legs were thrashed, but a brisk walk for a couple of minutes let me restart the engine and power on up the hill. I am sure that if I would have followed my regular fueling strategy, those last four miles would have been significantly faster.

Yessirree folks. Patience and keep your nose to the grindstone. It's taken two and half years, but something good seems to be happening.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Fun Rest Day

I've designated Friday as Running Sabbath. It's the day in my training schedule that is set aside for rest. Normally it's a day that I fall back on my old habits - work, eat and watch TV without guilt (not always such a bad idea). It's a day that I give this old body of mine a little rest and pretend all those little tweaks an niggles aren't there.

This morning I am SORE though. Why? Because I violated my Sabbath. Instead of taking the day off for sloth and laziness, I golfed. Golf! That's right! I am still pinching myself to see if this is really a dream....

Now - I used to golf a fair amount. I never got very good at it though, and eventually the frustration of that little ball going wherever the hell it wanted to led me to spending more time frustrated than having fun. The last time I touched my clubs was at least a year ago, maybe two! So it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation to play in a golf tournament to benefit my old High School. This year will be 35 years since I graduated High School, so it is kind of neat to rub elbows with so of my old buds...

It was a great Southern California day and a great day for golf. The skies were warm and crystal clear. Here's the golf course at 7:30 in the morning before we started:

It was a scramble tournament with a shotgun start. We teed off on hole four at 8:30 AM:

The longer the day went, the more spectacular it became. By midday, temperatures were pushing 80 and the air crystal clear:

Watching another great tee shot:

I grew up in a Mexican part of town. The big benefit? Outstanding Mexican food! Here are the carne asada tacos that were waiting for us at the tenth tee:
There was also al pastor and pollo if beef wasn't your style!

It was a great day of golf, and an even better day re stoking some 35 year old friendships!
P.S. - This was for a rare day even by Southern California standards! Yes folks - that's snow on those mountains.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Another Training First

Last night I did what is my favorite type of workout - a tempo run. Thirty five minutes. I was hoping to do somewhere around 3.78 to 3.8 miles. That would really be moving.

4.02. Gasp wheeze.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Miles and a Cloud of Dust

I'm at a crossroads these days. I put in a 3 miler last night at a decent heart rate (80% of Max). The issue? 8:52 pace. What? That was the realm of my 10K PR pace just a few months ago. Now I'm running that pace during training? Yes. It seems I am moving a little faster. I'm not quite sure why or if I'm even doing it right though.

There are a few things I'm doing different this time around:

  • Increased turnover: I am making a conscious effort to turn my feet over quicker. I'm not reaching with each step. I'm landing midfoot. It feels (although I have no data to verify) like I'm taking more steps per mile, but am moving along with a little less effort. It may be psychological, but I'll take it!
  • Core workout: Three days a week, I am doing some active stretching followed by ab and core work. Right now my workout consists of crunches, leg lifts, planks, and bird-dogs. After a month I'm up to 75 crunches (3 sets of 25), 30 leg lifts (3 sets of 10, held for 10 seconds each), 30 second planks (3), and 15 bird dogs held 10 seconds on each side (3 sets of 5). It is amazing how incredibly weak I am in my core. Just look at this picture at the end of the Long Beach Marathon as proof:

  • Increased intensity: My problem isn't speed. I know that comes with time. It's speed over a distance. This is a sign that my aerobic conditioning isn't what it should be. As I looked back at my last training cycle, it occurred to me that I spent a lot of time around 70% of my max heart rate. I know from past experience on the rowing machine, the best way to increase aerobic fitness is to work out long and steady at about 10 to 20 bpm less than lactate threshold. Assuming that lactate threshold occurs around 85% of max heart rate (about 160 bpm), I should be targeting something around 150 bpm (about 80% of max) on my easy runs. So I'm picking up the pace a bit. Also, on my long runs I had been trying to stay below 75% of MHR. According to Pfitzinger: "Long runs train your muscles to rely more on fat and less on carbohydrates at a given speed so your glycogen stores last longer. If you jog your long runs your body will adapt to burn fat at a very slow pace but will not necessarily be trained to increase the proportion of fat utilised at speeds approaching race pace." Hmmm. Time to pick up my long run pace a bit as well.

So, I'll have my head in the books over the next couple of days. Time to consult Pfitzinger and Glover again. At least things appear to be going the right direction again. Give me a couple of months and that cloud behind me really will be dust.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Short Last Week

That pretty much wraps up my running last week. With the weather rearing it ugly head, this Southern California wimp headed indoors. Final stats on last week: 15.2 miles running, a 10K race, and 19 kilometers (almost 12 miles) rowing. So even though the running piece of the week was a little light, the total volume (33 miles) was about right, and I got a quality workout in on Thursday (hills).

That also wrapped up the first four weeks of L.A. Marathon Training. Total mileage was 110 miles, not too bad for two abbreviated weeks. At least I'm making sure that I'm getting my quality workouts in.

This week, weather notwithstanding, I should poke up above 35 miles for the first time in a while:

Monday: 3 miles general aerobic (GA). Stretching and core work to follow.
Tuesday: 7 miles GA
Wednesday: 3 Miles GA. Stretching and core work to follow.
Thursday: 35 minute tempo run (should be just under 4 miles)
Friday: Rest day (yea!)
Saturday: 14 mile long run
Sunday: 7 miles GA
Total: 37.5 miles (roughly)

And since today is already Tuesday, I'm happy to report that the first two days of this week are in the books - Monday 3 miles @ 8:56 pace, 82% MHR; Tuesday 7 miles @ 9:41 pace, 79% MHR.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A 10K on a Whim

I ran a 10K on Sunday. I had decided on Saturday that if I woke up on Sunday morning and there was no rain was falling, that I would mosey up the road a few miles and run a race. My practice pace has been falling lately, and I was pretty confident that I had a 10K PR in me. Well, when I looked out the window Sunday morning, the streets were wet, but there was nothing falling from the sky. Off to the Make Room for Santa 10K!

I ran this race last year and had a great time. It is a low key but well organized event on a neat course that runs as far north as civilization goes in the Irvine area. Normally, I like to be a planner and have everything figured out ahead of time, but Sunday I just went with the flow. Race start time was 7:45AM.I moseyed out the door at 6:30 for the 20 minute or so drive to the race site, boarded a bus and was the registration table with 20 minutes to spare.

It was a beautiful morning and a perfect day to run. The sky was filled with big, puffy clouds, the weather was cool but not cold (I actually took a layer off before the race) and the air was fresh following Saturday's rain.

There were a few changes to this race from last year. Instead of both the 5K and 10K events starting together, they were separate this year, with the 10Kers starting about 5 minutes after the 5K racers. Here's the 5K start:

With the 10K start seperated, there were a lot fewer people on the course at a time than last year which really cut two ways. The good? Less bobbing and weaving. The bad? I went out way too fast. Mile 1: 8:45. Uphill. Since I ran this last year, I should have known better. The uphill didn't stop until mile 2. Mile 2: 9:24. By mile 3 I was spent. I felt like my heart was about to explode so I had to take a walk break and gather myself. Guess it didn't help that I rowed 8 kilometers (5 miles) the night before. And I didn't get my usual prerace apple fritter! Gah! Mile 3: 9:14. On a net downhill mile. I ran into Barefoot Bob! Any barefoot runners out there?

By this time I was trying to salvage a race that wasn't going according to plan. I pushed again through mile 4, where, even with a rolling hill I sill put in an 8:45. But I was close to blowing up again during mile five, so had to pull in the reigns. It's pretty disappointing when the best that you can do on a downhill portion of the course is a 9:13.

I pulled through the final little (I mean little) uphill and hit the mile 5 sign. From there it is all downhill into the finish. Mile 6: 8:33. As I pulled into the final .2, I ran with an older fellow who had struggled to stay ahead of me the whole race. We looked at each other and I said to each other in unison, "Time to finish this bad boy." We pushed the final .2, digging down deep. My day was pretty well shot anyways, so as we entered the finish chute I pulled up just a tad to let him through the line one step ahead. Final 0.2 - 2:03. Garmin time: 55:44. Official time: 56:27. That's a whole minute and a half slower than last June.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with my performance. Not because of the time. I mean heck - this was all done on a whim - a last minute decision. If I wanted to PR, then I should have rested on Saturday, fueled prerace (at least something other than a cup of coffee), and showed up in time to put in a little warm up. What I was disappointed in was my lack of execution. This isn't my first 10K. I know better than to go out too fast. I needed to pull in the reigns on mile 1 so I don't blow up a mile later. Geesh. Physical errors are going to happen, but mental mistakes are inexcusable.

Oh - on a positive note, I did confirm that my maximum heart rate is indeed 185!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Wet Day

Yesterday was a rare day in Southern California - a wet, rainy day. For those who are uninitiated in the ways of Southern California, one thing we *do not* deal well with is wet. We average about 15 inches of rain a year. Let me repeat that - a year. That means that wet stuff falls from the sky maybe 12 days a year. That means that we don't know how to do things that the rest of the country deals with on a regular basis, like, oooooh, running in the rain.

So, I dressed snug and warm and headed out the door to meet up with my Saturday morning running group. I was immediately greeted by water dropping from the sky. Not just a mist, but a cold, soaking rain. Decision time. It was actually a pretty easy decision. 13 miles isn't going to make or break me at this point, and the thought of being wet and soaked to the bone was not at all appealing.
So, instead of running I retired to my rowing studio (aka garage), and proceeded to row 8 kilometers with a 5 min warm up, 16 min at 22 spm, 3 min rest, and 16 min at 26 spm workout. Hmmm. I ended up soaked anyways.

On the plan for Sunday - 6 miles at marathon pace. Unless I wake up and it's not raining. Then I may do a 10K for fun....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Asics GT 2150 First Impressions

After yesterday's lecture to you all, my name would have been mud if I didn't get some new shoes. I went over to Road Runner Sports to look at my options. For a moment I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There on the rack with a big "Just Marked Down" tag were my trusty 2140's! I had my credit card out and was ready to relieve them of all men's size 9s, but my dreams were dashed when I found out that they were out of stock. Snap! So instead I picked up a pair of the 2140 replacements - the Asics GT 2150. Normally I spend time researching new things before I get them. Instead, I just took the advice of the salesperson (has been a mistake in the past) and purchased the shoe. I was off for my evening run.

My workout last night was a hill workout. For a change I had company - my niece. She just finished her first season in High School Cross Country (was a soccer player but can't play due to a hip injury) and is so enamored with running that she and some of her friends are thinking about running San Diego Rock n' Roll! Very cool! With her pushing me (she's a High School Senior), I put in two warm up miles (8:28 and 8:40 - what?) followed by four hill repeats (sorry - I mentioned 5 yesterday, but misread the plan) and a 9:15 warm down mile (wtf?). 5.2 miles total. I managed to hit a heart rate of 172 bpm, and spent a total of 8 minutes above 90% of MHR.

The verdict on the shoes? BIG THUMBS UP!!! The shoes are every bit as supportive as the GT 2140's while having a little softer insole. My big beef about the 2140's was that the insole was rough and not very cushiony, which made the first few dozen miles uncomfortable. Asics has fixed that in the 2150. The jury is still out on wear, but as far as comfort goes, I heartily recommend them. The bottom line is I'm sitting here this morning with no knee and hip pain. The flaring tendinitis in my right knee is also better. Who says shoes don't make a difference?

Slomohusky and EZEthan had a great idea about using eBay to find some GT 2140's. I found several pair for $70 in a first cursory scan. I still need a second pair of shoes, and if I can save $30 a pair, I'm going to save $30 a pair! And because Stacy asked - here's why I have two pair of shoes. During the summer months, I sweat sooooo much (How much do I sweat?) that often my shoes are completely soaked. If I don't have another pair to swap out, I end up setting off the toxic waste warning sirens from the stench that starts emanating from my feet. So, with an extra pair of shoes and my trusty Dr. Scholl's foot spray, I swap shoes every other day and let one pair dry while I run in the other. Hmmm. Maybe I can become The Running Sweaty Guy?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Three Chilly Miles

Got them done right at sundown yesterday. It was chilly out, but I chose a path that kept me in the sun *and* I wore that extra layer, so it wasn't too cold. Not to mention it was in the low 50s. Yes. I am a wimp. Final stats - 3.2 miles at an average pace of 9:21. Heart rate was right at 75% of max. The data says I have more to give. I should be running these short runs closer to 80% of max heart rate. But right now my legs, knees and hips are telling me otherwise. I've been fighting a mean case of tendinitis in my right knee the past couple of weeks. As long as I don't bend it more than about 40 degrees, I'm able to put the miles in. This morning though my hips and left knee are painful. This is the sure sign that I need new shoes.

If running is our profession, shoes are our tools. I would not dream of doing my work with substandard or worn out tools. So much pain and so many injuries could be avoided just by making sure we are in the right shoes. I usually bite my tongue when I hear of people trying out new shoes that they haven't worn before, or buying different shoes because they were a good deal. I won't mention any names, but a couple of folks I follow have some first hand experience.

That's why I have always run in the same shoes. I had a gait analysis done at Road Runner Sports when I fist started running, and ever since then have stuck to Asics. They work for me. In two plus years of running I've had one injury - and that happened when I slipped during a race last Thanksgiving. But, just when I have everything dialed in, Asics decides to discontinue my tried and true GT 2140's! I've had great luck with these shoes - right now I have two pair that I rotate - each with 400 miles on them. I compare that to the Gel Kayanos that I used to wear that got me 250 miles max. And the Saucony Pro Grids that had me in pain after a week in them. Guess I'll go try Asics new GT 2150's and see how those hold up.

Finally, I need to thank all of you readers and followers for your wonderful words of support the past couple of weeks. Reading some of them yesterday shed some light on my past few weeks. As Patrick said yesterday, "I've read past posts when you've been down on yourself-- but you kept going-- pushed through it all-- congrats!" Thank you for reminding me! It's tough when you're in the trenches slogging away to remember the way it *used* to be:

On the plan today - hills. 5 repeats. If the rain holds out....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Six at What?

Something is going on here. Had a 6 mile general aerobic run in the afternoon. Nothing really of note during the run - other than it was cold by Southern California standards. Running from the sun into the shadows was a bit of shock, especially once I started sweating. Next time I'll make sure to wear an extra layer. I pushed a *little* just because it was cool, the wind was blowing, and only wearing a single layer, I was getting chilled quickly.

My Garmin data showed that my average heart rate was 79% of max - right in the middle of my 75% to 85% MHR aerobic range. The real shock was my average pace - 9:21. WHAT? I just put in a six mile training run at a relatively easy pace one minute slower than my current 10K PR? What is going on here?

A few weeks back Coach Sumner told us at a Saturday morning pep talk that running was one of those activities where your results are directly related to the work you put in. Maybe two years of work is starting to show? Folks - keep your nose to the grindstone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Got My Azz Whooped...

First off, I wanted to thank everyone for comments left about Sunday's run. The whole idea of PTSD hadn't even crossed my mind. All I know is I was real confused about how everything progressed and how painful everything was on a relatively short workout. You bloggers are lifesavers. Thanks!
Yesterday was a rarity in Southern California. Something that happens maybe five or six times a year. Cold. Windy. Rain in buckets. Enough so that this wimp decided that running was NOT going to happen. Especially since this wimp also had sore legs, knees and hips AND the run on the plan was just a three mile recovery run.

So, instead, I pulled my old Concept 2 Model C ergometer from the garage and proceeded to row. For an hour. 11 kilometers. Got my ass kicked.

Well okay. Not for an hour. But 55 minutes is close enough. The workout was 5 minute warm up, then 3 sets of 5 minutes at 18 strokes per minute (spm), 5 minutes at 24 spm, and 5 minutes at 30 spm, followed by a 5 minute warm down. This would be the equivalent of some type of a progression run where you would run 5 minutes easy, 5 minutes at a moderate pace, then 5 minutes at a hard pace. While doing crunches and lifting two pound weights up to shoulder height. It's been a long time since I made noises while working out. The only reason I wasn't embarrassed yesterday was that it was so cold and wet outside I'm sure no one walked by the garage while I was grunting like a stuck pig. I am *sore* today. But not like Sunday's sore. This is the "good" kind of sore that tells us that the workout we did the day before has left us a little stronger. A little more fit. Yes - it was worth the ass whooping.
On the schedule today is a six mile run. It's also 38 degrees outside this morning. This wimp says this run is happening after lunch.....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Painful Eight

I'm not quite sure what the deal was yesterday. I ran the most painful eight miles that I have in quite a while. I had plenty of lung - the entire problem was from the hips down. It felt like my legs were full of sand - to move them required a *lot* of effort. To add fuel to the fire, every step was painful. I was ready to throw in the towel and turn around after two and a half miles, but I just told myself to HTFU and not wimp out. When I hit six miles I had to really push with every step just to keep moving. Yesterday *nothing* was smooth or fluid or easy.

Final stats on the run: 8 miles at an average pace of 9:57 including a final mile in a 9:38. On the positive side, I kept my heart rate down - only averaged 75% of MHR. But, it was a hour and a half of struggle. I finished week 3 right on tack. 32.5 miles. One good quality work out on the track. A bunch of good aerobic miles under my belt.

On the calendar this week (week 4 of 18):
  • Monday: 3 miles GA (general aerobic). Stretching and core work.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles GA
  • Wednesday: 3 miles GA. Stretching and core.
  • Thursday: 4 hill repeats. Two mile warm up, one mile cool down for 5.5 miles total.
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 13 mile long run.
  • Sunday: 6 miles Marathon Pace.
  • Total planned miles: 36
This week may be a bit of a challenge. The issue is going to be weather. We are supposed to get our first major storm starting today, and the forecast is for wet weather off and on throughout the week. Anyone East of the Colorado River is probably chuckling at this point, but I'll be the first to admit my wimpiness! The motivation to get the miles in is great though - I'm 102 miles short of 1500 for the year....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Digit Head's Curse

To say I'm a digit head is an understatement. I relish data. I constantly analyze. Trying to make sense out of the information in front of me. Trying to determine cause and effect. Trying to classify and categorize.

Yesterday we laid my Father-in-Law to rest. It was a beautiful celebration of his life. Despite the impending storm and the cool, blustery weather, the Sun made an appearance as we carried his casket to the grave site. It was a fitting finish.

After all the emotion, I laced up my shoes and hit the Back Bay for some introspective time. The clouds were swirling and the winds cold and biting by the time I finished up at dusk.

I guess there are just some things that don't need to be analyzed....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank You All!

I wanted to take a few words here (actually more than a few) to thank those who stopped by and offered their insights after yesterday's call for help. The answers you gave yesterday have me deep in thought at a number of different levels. I have written down the reasons you give for running on a piece of paper (and will continue to do so as new ones are offered) and have been mulling over them for a while now.

One thing about me - for better or worse I am a goal driven person. I don't just go hike. I'm out to climb a mountain. I don't just climb a mountain. I'm out to climb the highest one around. It's a trait that leads to some destructive behavior now and then, but it's also a trait that keeps me focused and allows me to achieve what I set out to do. And it occurred to me about 30 minutes ago that the one thing I can't tell you right now is: "I don't just run. I'm out to ......"

So there you go. I need to revisit my goals. A year ago the answer to the sentence above was "I'm out to get in shape to climb Mt. Whitney." Well, I accomplished that. Along the way I received a *ton* of benefits - I'm carrying about 50 pounds less that I was, I ran (okay -slogged) through a couple of marathons, hiked some neat trails in the local mountains. But those are all tactical. They contributed to the goal, but they weren't goals in themselves. Will I stop running? NO WAY! But the way that I answer the question above will determine *how* I run. The plan to drop 40 pounds looks a lot different that than the plan to BQ.

Speaking of running, I ended up doing my session on the track last night (track workouts in the AM are a bit of a problem because the school uses the track). The plan was 4X800 with 400 rest. I pushed a little, but didn't feel like I was killing myself:

Interval 1: 3:51 (7:44 pace)
Interval 2: 4:05 (8:14 pace)
Interval 3: 4:00 (8:02 pace)
Interval 4: 4:01 (8:04 pace)

I left pretty tired, but really didn't think much about it until I looked at the last time I ran 800s. These are all 10 to 20 seconds faster than last August. Yes - like three months ago! What's happening here? Am I becoming a Speedy McSpeederson (Sorry Jeri! Had to steal it!). Total workout including warm up and warm down was six miles.

On the plan today - rest. And I need it after last night.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When is a Goal a Goal?

The past month of so I've been trying to figure out a few things about me and my buddy - running. Miles are melting together. Scenery is starting to blend. Fresh blog ideas aren't flowing freely. So, I put my old consultant hat on (one that I should wear more often) to analyze the situation. I need to make sure that this training cycle doesn't see me in the dumps again come week 12.

When I worked for a large management consulting firm (quite) a few years back, one thing we always went through with a new client would be a goal congruence exercise - making sure that goals, strategies, and tactics were all clear, communicated, and focused. If we are going to get everyone pushing the same direction, tactical plans need to be formulated and clearly communicated. But the best laid tactical plans are worthless if they do not map into the strategies of the firm. Can you see Walmart selling Rolex watches? And finally, without clear goals, strategies are pretty worthless. That is why in it's current form, Walmart will never implement a high end high service strategy

As I analyzed my situation, the light bulb turned on pretty quickly. The tactical plan and the strategy are laid out for me. I look at it every day and put in the miles at the right paces. But the question is "Why?" Is the goal just to run a marathon? And why is that a "goal"? For a while it was on the bucket list. But that goal has been accomplished. What now? Yes folks, I've fallen into the trap that many do. Not just in running, but in life in general. I do what I'm told. And then can't figure out why it becomes drudgery. It sure is easy when someone else provides the plan.

Speaking of miles, I've put in a couple days of running since my last update:

Tuesday: 6.2 miles, average pace 9:35, avg heart rate 78% MHR
Wednesday: 3.1 miles, average pace 9:21, avg heart rate 78% MHR

Today it will be some track work. 4 X 800 intervals. VO2Max according to the plan.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Never Give Up

I know it's something that we have all heard at some point in our lives. It's used to the point of being trite. Well, I'd like to relate a story of someone who really knows what it means to not give up.

My father in law is a centenarian plus one (101). This is a man who was orphaned at a young age in a country that doesn't have a safety net like we do here. At a young age he was forced to find meaningful employment to support his brother. This is a man who had earned his way through life - not expecting things to be given to him. This is a man who in his early 50's had a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. What did he do? He re-learned how to talk and taught himself to write again. Left handed. This is a man who had his first major heart attack in his 60's. He had to be resuscitated. Twice. In his 60's he started watching his diet and religiously going to the gym to keep things in check. This is a man who in his 70's started yet another successful business to keep himself occupied. This is a man who in his 90's used to drag me to the gym three times a week so he could work out.

In short - he never gives up. He takes the cards that are dealt him and made the best out of them. The proverbial making lemonade when given lemons. And then successfully selling the lemonade. I'm a month and a half short of 53. I can't imagine being paralyzed and not being able to talk. And then living another 50 productive years beyond that.

The past month or so he has been in failing health and in and out of the hospital. Yet everyday he asks, "Am I going home today?" Yup. Never ever gives up. Three times in the last two weeks we were called to the hospital for the imminent event. Yes, that's right. Three times in the last two weeks the doctors wrote him off. Nobody bothered to tell him though.

Today he went home. Be at peace. Your legacy lives in your children and grandchildren....