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August 13, 2006

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Technical Difficulties

August 8, 2006

I’m not running right now. The leg did not improve after a zero and a 1.5 mile day, so I have been hitting the bike. Yesterday was 45 minutes of something like a fartlek run. Definitely some high aerobic/low anaerobic work in there. And this morning was 55 minutes at what I would call an easy effort. Not laying back, but not cranking hard either. I also threw in a couple of parking ramp laps, just for fun.

My ass hurts the whole time, and I’m kind of jumpy about traffic, so I can’t wait to get off the bike. That and I’d like to get back to training during the most important six weeks of my race preparation. I figure this will take five to seven days to clear up, and just like with the earlier episode in the pool, I expect to come out the other side stronger, so although I am pissed off about this, I won’t waste too much time thinking about it. I just have to get through the week and move on.

I’m going to become a believer in cross-training in the future. Not a lot of cross-training, but just enough to stay balanced. I’m starting to feel like Dick Beardsley with all of these injuries.

Oh, Puke!

August 3, 2006

Last Saturday, I ran that 5k and followed it up with a nice, easy six mile cooldown. Everything felt great. Then I helped my neighbor move a 36-inch television. He had asked me about helping him move it way back before we went to San Diego at the beginning of June, so at nearly the beginning of August, I thought I would (should) inquire just so I didn’t seem like I was pretending not to remember. I was secretly hoping it had already been taken care of, but it had not.

It can’t be that heavy.

Yes, it can. Just a quick glance around the 36-inchers at Amazon shows me a weight of 225-250 pounds for one of these things. It was every ounce of that. My neighbor is a slight guy, like me, and is in his late 60s, so once my wife and I saw the size of this tv, we were concerned. He insisted on moving it, though, so we did.

The next day, I didn’t feel up to my normal 22 miler, so I just did 14 at an easy pace. My right leg felt odd. No power. I attributed it to the race and the hills. Then on Monday, just a seven miler, still not feeling good overall, and the right leg a little bit sore now and still a sense of no power when landing and pushing off.

Tuesday I did a good stretch and warm up, started off with a very slight limp for about a quarter mile, then everything was pretty good. The sensation of power was there for the most part, and even got to the point where everything felt 100% for the last four miles.

Later on Tuesday, my hamstring and inner thigh started to hurt and tighten up. Stretching briefly made it feel better, but the slight pain and general weakness continued.

Waking up Wednesday morning, it was just as bad as the day before, so I decided to take a day off. No sense pushing a minor injury this late in the game. I went for a walk Wednesday evening, and it was about the same.

This morning the leg was feeling slightly better, so I opted for a bike ride at high RPMs. The ride felt fine, but I wasn’t able to get my heart rate up very well. Pretty much hovering in the 110s.

I’m not too concerned about missing a couple of days right now. It won’t make the log look good, but if I can heal up in time for the quality workouts or at least minimize the impact on the quality workouts, missing a couple of recovery runs is immaterial. All in all, this should be pretty quick to fix. Just a simple hamstring and adductor strain.

One thing that will be key to my next build up is strength training. Whether it’s plyo, weights, hills, or whatever, I obviously have developed a durability problem in my old age. F@$%ing irritating, but it is what it is. Next time around it won’t be a problem.

Solitude

August 1, 2006

Up and out the door a bit earlier today. I wanted to get a longer run in, but I haven’t been feeling up to it since the race on Saturday. I woke up at 3:30, had a small bowl of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, a swig of Gatorade, and was out the door by 4:00 for my warmup, which I have been doing ever since the calf problems. I usually just walk about a quarter mile, then stretch whatever feels tight. It’s been working, so I don’t mess with it.

At 4:25, I hit the road. I’m almost embarrassed to mention this given everyone else’s weather situation, but it was fifty-two degrees and calm, perfect for a run. I had wanted to get in 18 to 20, but needed to be home by 6:00, so I decided to go for 15, making the somewhat ambitious assumtion that I could pull off six minute miles for an hour and a half.

I was out just thirty minutes earlier than I usually run, but it was absolutely dark and quiet this morning. I was able to hear and analyse every breath for the first hour of the run, and it was, at times, mentally draining. These workouts are tough in a way that transcends the physical, step-after-step discomfort. The mental aspect is one that I was unprepared for, coming from a 10k and under background. The legs seem to be willing to do whatever the mind tells them, but the mind is unrelenting, in a constant subconscious versus conscious battle to do less.

I ran past my house at ten miles in an effort to mess with my own head, and in a further effort to show myself who my daddy is, I did the last five miles over what is usually the beginning 2.5 miles of my longer, faster efforts. The effect was as intended, and I had to work my brain a little to adapt to the fact that I wasn’t stopping, and I wasn’t just getting started either.

A really good run overall. Fifteen miles in 1:29:22 with an average heart rate of 150. Mile-by-mile (with average heart rate) was 6:43(128), 6:12(143), 6:05(144), 6:03(146), 5:57(148), 5:47(152), 5:56(155), 5:55(151), 5:54(153), 5:57(155), 5:53(156), 5:46(157), 5:47(159), 5:38(161), 5:37(159). The heart rate and pace information is very encouraging. I actually started feeling smoother and breathing better with four miles to go, once I hit the 5:40s and near 160. Not sure why this would be, but the last four miles felt much better than any other four miles that I could have picked out of this run.

Now it will be interesting to see what kind of recovery I need before I’m ready for the next one. Hopefully just two days, but I don’t necessarily make that decision. The committee of the whole will be giving me lots of feedback over the next day or two, and we’ll see what the legs, lungs, mitochondria, and brain decide. Cheers.

Coming This Weekend :

July 29, 2006

Area Man Runs Local 5k — And Gets Second! F!

I ran the Knight’s Challenge 5k, which supports one of our two high school’s cross country teams–the one with good coaching that actually tries to be competitive and makes cross country fun. I ran this same one last year as well, so it was nice to compare times. Last year was a painful 17:48, compared to this year’s equally painful 16:21. I was able to beat High School Kid, finally, but still ended up second to College Kid, a sub-31 10k runner. I ended up three seconds behind CK and one second in front of a slowly closing HSK, so it was a good race all around. Our team ended up second to the high school team. Although we did have the most interesting team: five guys, a twenty-something, thirty-something, forty-something, fifty-something, and a sixty-something. We finished in age order, too, which was neat.

Pace Graphs, Heart Rates, and Hills! Oh My!

Here are some chartsngraphs, brought to you by the fine people at stickenstone
Race - Knight's Challenge 5k 7-29-2006, Heart rate - Distance
Overall average heart rate of 172 with a peak of 179. Pretty consistently in the 170s, which objectively suggests redline. I would subjectively concur.

The 5k I ran at the end of April had similar numbers, an average of 171 and peak of 178.

Race - Knight's Challenge 5k 7-29-2006, Split pace
The two big peaks were quarter miles that included a 40 meter hill at 18% grade. The corresponding downhill is a further quarter-mile away, but is only about 15 meters long. It’s a loop course. Two loops, and a 200 meter finish stretch.

Race - Knight's Challenge 5k 7-29-2006, Split pace vs average pace
Here is a view of each quarter-mile split against the overall pace average. A solid race, I think. Fast start, strong first mile. Recovered from the pace a bit, then hit the first hill. Faster again in the middle, lost contact with the leader right before the hill, which just DESTROYED me, and then held on for dear life the last quarter and through the finish.

Double Running Stroller Finally Delivered!

We ordered a double running stroller from BicycleSource.us about six weeks ago and it finally showed up. Whoopie. Mike was lucky to have had a good experience with this company, but it looks like it’s much more common to get completely bent over by these yahoos. Don’t ever order anything from them should you have a choice.

The stroller is fantastic though. Absolutely wonderful.

This Week’s Mileage! This Week’s Workouts!

75 miles! Highlights were the 22 on Sunday, and a 14 miler on Thursday once I finally recovered from Sunday. I gave myself about 60 seconds to be impressed with the 14 miler before I flicked myself in the back of the head and reminded myself that these kinds of efforts need to be bread and butter (peanut butter and jelly?) in the coming weeks. I did the first seven around 6:10 pace average, and then dropped the pace down to a 5:45 average, just about goal MP. A good workout, and my first run ever over ten miles and under six minute pace. 1:23:10 for 14. Now for a few more, and longer.

‘Homemade’ Pizza? Just A Fabrication? DiGiorno’s?

Why so much interest in the pizza? It did look good, didn’t it?

Long Run Jeopardized By Global Warming and Drywall

No long run today. I was a bit sore from the race and helping a neighbor move a 150 pound TV (stupid is as stupid does) so I just went for 14 as the body and mind dictated. Almost exactly seven minute pace in hot, humid weather. We hit very close to 100 degrees here today with a dewpoint of about 75 all day long. Nasty.

Hope you all had a good weekend. I’m off to find a cool place to lay my head.

Best. Pizza. Ever.

July 26, 2006

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Best. Pizza. Ever.
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originally uploaded by esondag.

Mercy

July 23, 2006

Yesterday was a forgettable four mile tempo run at 5:30 pace. Didn’t feel good at all, and was surprised at how hard 5:30 pace was. I guess that means my aerobic system is VERY highly developed. Ha. Totalled nine miles with another four later in the day with my daughter in the stroller, very slowwww. That was actually a lot of fun.

And another long run in the books today. This one was very tough, but despite the mental bargains I tried to make with myself, I stuck it out and did the workout as planned. Twenty-two miles comprised of ten laps around a park, including a 50 meter long grassy hill that rises about 30 feet, an 18% grade, and a 15 meter downhill of the same grade. I was able to incorporate my house into the loop as well, and had my family manning a water station for me, which was a lot of fun.

The first few laps were really good. The hill section would get me out of my comfort zone for a quarter mile or so, and then I was recovered. As the run went on, the recoveries would take longer and longer, until they were taking almost half a mile. By the last two laps, the up and down was kicking my ass.

I practiced taking water and gatorade every lap, and I was surprised how difficult it is to get a good amount of fluid and to maintain breathing. I was able to pick up the cup without spilling a drop, but as soon as I tried to drink it was all over. Pinching the top of the cup closed quickly turned a nine ounce cup into a four ounce cup, and the extra couple of ounces to go sloshing out the gaps. I did manage to get several ounces each time, but it probably only amounted to 35-40 ounces total, which wasn’t enough. Also, drinking requires that you stop breathing long enough to get everything swallowed. Basically, every drink was like another hill. I would finish my cup within 100-150 meters of picking it up, then require another 200 or so to feel recovered. More practice is needed.

So, another 22 mile run, out in 1:10:15, back in 1:10:00, about 6:22 pace. This was the hardest of the three I have done over the last three weeks. I didn’t bonk like last week, I was just exhausted at the end. I probably ended up a little bit dehydrated again, but at least I was sweating all the way through the finish this time. The hills definitely hit me in a different way later in the run, so I think today was a really key workout.

The next several weeks I will be incorporating a sort of ‘hill phase’ which will be tricky considering there are precious few hills around. The idea will be to add some anaerobic power to the miles in the form of hills, and beginning to tolerate some heavy breathing and lactate baths. Fun.

Assessment of Needs

July 21, 2006

Feeling better the last couple of days. Still having some issues with breathing through a stuffed up nose and my ‘intestinal fortitude’ could be better. I’ve needed to stop by some construction sites on my runs over the last week to use the portable facilities. Not fun.

Thursday I had anticipated going out for 16-18 and running as quick as I could comfortably manage. The first eight went down at 6:15 pace average, and I wasn’t feeling very good doing it. After a pit stop at one of the aforementioned facilities, I started in on the second half. After feeling like crap for another half mile or so, the pace picked up naturally and felt pretty good, so I went with it. Eight and a half miles later, I finished with a nice little marathon pace effort averaging 5:50s. Overall, 16.5 miles in 1:40 and change, 6:06 pace.

Today was just a nice little 12 mile recovery run at just over 7:00 pace. I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed a recovery run, but I’ve got a tempo run on schedule tomorrow and a strongly paced 22 miler on Sunday. It’s likely the recovery will have been a good idea.

It’s about time I come to grips with what I am going to do. I’m either going to put 2:29 out there and train like it, or I’m going to keep doing what I have been doing, which is lack intensity in my training because I’m okay with going for 2:35 because it’s my first time in the marathon, I need to respect the distance, the course is hilly at the end, my dress is too tight, etc., etc.

I’ve started to realize that the fear of failure is part of the reason I haven’t committed to the 2:29 yet. That and the fact that I haven’t demonstrated the ability to run even 13 miles at 5:43 pace yet, let alone comfortably.

I’ve been told, however, that some of the workouts I have done already look like 2:29 building blocks, and that the right kind of peak should be worth 20 seconds a mile. If that’s the case, I’m right there.

There’s no penalty for failure, other than running 2:29 pace through 18 or 20 miles and finishing in 2:41, so what am I afraid of? . That’s right–nothing.

I have a few more key workouts to do before I can begin to believe in the 2:29, but I started having faith a few days ago. And hope is increasing. I’ll start with what I have and get what I need. Seventy days to go.

The last couple of days have been tired and lackluster. I’m still feeling the effects of the cold–run down, stuffed up, and the voice of a life-long smoker. Yesterday, I did an eight mile run with a couple of marathon pace miles to finish. Not as far as I wanted to go, but I just wasn’t feeling up to a longer run. Basically the same situation this morning. Seven mile run with some solid pick-ups, but just too tired to do anything sustained like a tempo or steady run.

Better days ahead. Thanks to Mike I finally got my hands on Daws’ book Running Your Best. It’s a great read so far. Makes me wonder what I could have done with a resource like this in college. Where I went to school, the coaching staff was of the opinion that 100 mile weeks were something that other schools did to their runners as a way of ‘thinning the herd’. Of course, these were always the schools that fielded a fifth runner that could generally beat our third, and so on down the line. Did I just go on a mini-rant there? Where was I?

The book is great so far. It’s hard to find, as it is out of print, and used book sellers know that it is in demand, charging correspondingly high prices. Try getting it through your library, or just borrow it from Mike. Ha!

Sick Day

July 17, 2006

Summer colds are the worst. I’m normally able to avoid getting sick, even with the rest of my family sneezing and coughing around me, but this time was an exception.

It started on Saturday afternoon with a tickle in the throat, and caused a fitful night of sleep, er, no sleep on Saturday night. I wasn’t feeling too bad before the long run on Sunday, but by the time it was finished, so was I. The temperature had climbed into the mid-70s less than halfway through my run, and even though I had downed a bit less than two quarts of water prior to and during the effort, I still weighed in five pounds lighter at the end. That’s just about 4%, which qualifies as dehydration.

It definitely affected my performance. I ended up pulling the plug about half a mile short of 22. I was dropping off my planned pace pretty severely, and my legs were dead. I got a good dose of what I expect miles 20-26 will feel like starting at mile 19 of this run, so I stepped off the path and walked it in. 21.4 miles in 2:16:16, about a 6:23 pace.

After last week’s 22 miler, I thought I had probably gone at it too hard. It took me almost four days to really feel recovered. I figured I could either cut the distance, which I didn’t think sounded logical, or cut the pace. I chose to slow the pace by about 10 seconds per mile, and it worked out almost perfect, with the exception of the fluid issues.

Encouraged by 21+ miles and the dehydration, the cold viruses in my system burgeoned forth in search of new territory. By dinner time, my legs were feeling better and I had drank enough water to recover my morning weight, but the cold had taken hold. A second night of no sleep came and went, and I made the decision to turn off the 4:00 am running alarm and forego Monday at work.

I had planned to take a zero today, but I’ve gradually started to feel more energetic, after reading, resting, or sleeping the day away, and realized that an easy thirty minutes of fresh air and sun will probably do me some good. I got my ForeRunner 301 back today, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had opted to replace, rather than repair the busted one. And I got it back in just less than a week. Most impressive, Garmin.