The last couple of mornings have been nasty, leaving me standing on my sidewalk at the end of my run with sticky, wet, dripping shorts, but I put some good running in anyway. Even at four in the morning it has been in the high 60s, which matches up well with the dewpoint. Everybody has mentioned the weather lately, from Tucson to NYC. It seems to be sticky everywhere.

In spite of the weather, yesterday I felt surprisingly good, with the exception of some odd motility issues. Nothing more to say there (although if you insist on being grossed out completely, read Mike’s latest post. Guh.), other than 10 miles worked better for me than the planned 15. Since it was supposed to be a recovery day, I didn’t get too bent out of shape about the extra miles. 10.25 in 1:10:01.

Today I spent my efforts on a 10 mile progression run. Feeling good from the start, I rolled from 6:35 to 6:14, then 6:03, 5:58, 6:03, 5:46, 5:52, 5:49, 5:31, and 5:27. The last half mile was about 2:35, and it had me sucking air pretty good. 59:21 for 10 miles. Good quality, and with the exception of the last half mile, it was pleasantly hard running. No tightness, soreness, or anything feeling odd. I actually feel pretty springy.

The last half mile got me wondering about my VO2, though. It is definitely a weak spot right now. I’ve never felt that flick of the switch from aerobic to anaerobic like I did today. It was like within meters of going below 5:20 pace, I started an oxygen debt. Not sure what is happening there, but I don’t think it’s helpful. Sure, I won’t be doing any sub-5:20 miles in the marathon, but I imagine that at 20 miles, every mile will start to feel like a 5:20. It’s something I’ll need to start working on.

Time to wrap up and get back to work. Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay cool!

Down Days

July 12, 2006

The last two days have been solid, but have left me feeling a bit disappointed. I think it’s time to lower my expectations a little bit and settle down. It’s pretty apparent that the 22 miler took more out of me than I thought it did. I’m sure I’m getting a great training effect out of the last two weeks of workouts, and they have been very strong overall, so to be disappointed after a couple of ‘off’ days is kind of ridiculous.

The tempo run this morning didn’t go as well as I would have liked. The warmup mile went down in 7:06, which gave me pause. I added another mile to the warmup and a couple of strides to get things moving, and set off. The first two miles went down in 5:37 each, then a 5:35 feeling a bit uncomfortable, with the last quarter turning into the wind. Mile four was entirely into the wind, and the pace increased along with the effort for a 5:45.

Mentally, my run got totally messed up at this point. My f-ing Garmin 201 started dropping signal in the trees. The next mile showed up as a 5:23, which was not accurate. Then the next mile showed a 5:50, which was also not accurate. Continuing on for a short distance, the average lap pace showed 5:36, which was about correct. Two mile warmup, six mile tempo in 33:51, about 5:39 pace, and two mile cooldown, 10 miles in 1:01:24.

Based on the effort compared to the last tempo, this one was too hard for a seven miler. I realized that around mile four, and decided to cut the tempo to six miles, which would bring the average 5:39 pace into line with the Daniels pace charts and the Pfitzinger 1/2 marathon pace recommendation.

The temperature made things interesting as well. It wasn’t overly humid, but at 68 degrees, it was about 10 degrees warmer than I’m used to for these efforts. It may have been a factor in feeling a little off.

There are lots of little reasons why this run didn’t feel easier, but at the end of the day, I got a longer tempo done at the correct pace on a day that I wasn’t feeling so good. I’ll take it.

Bad Moon Rising

July 11, 2006

There’s a full moon today, and it was rising just as I was shutting down the engines around mile four this morning. I went out feeling great in the first mile, but seeing that the time came out about 20 seconds slower than what it felt like, so I knew I was not recovered from my Sunday effort. Mile two and three confirmed it, and by mile four I knew I needed to make a conscious effort to slow down for one more day. 10.25 miles in 1:08:48.

The full moon was out, but no caveman antics for me today. Tomorrow maybe. I’m planning a seven mile tempo at 5:40 pace, which I’m hoping will feel easier than the last one I did.

Feel the burn

July 10, 2006

Today was an easy easy easy recovery run of six miles in 43:35. I wore long pants even though it was almost 60 degrees just to encourage a bit slower pace. I turned over the last half mile at 5:30 pace just to shake out the legs. Everything felt good, just a little bit heavy.

That’s all for today. About 65 miles last week, on pace for 75 or so this week. Lots of sleep. Lots of sleep…

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But where are the little chocolate doughnuts?

Today was my first official long run since the pool episode. The weather was conducive to the effort, although it was windy at times. There is a front coming through that took yesterday’s muggy 90+ degrees somewhere south of here and replaced it with some dry 55 degree air. Whenever that happens in North Dakota, the wind rolls across the open plains with nothing to stop it. All you can do is try to stay near the few trees we have and hope for the best.

I have been using Mike’s idea about not eating, or in some cases minimal eating, before heading out on my runs. I can’t say it is working, but I can say it isn’t negatively affecting my performance. The idea is to promote fat burning efficiency by starting the run with insulin levels very low. Insulin is antagonistic to fat burning, therefore the less in your bloodstream when you start the run, the more likely the body is to burn fat as opposed to glycogen. So, you can’t objectively see that it is working. Also, it improves, like fitness, over time. It’s a faith-based initiative.

Today I had a tiny bowl of Raisin Crisp, some water, and a cup of decaf about 90 minutes before the run. The article I’m referencing above talks about fasting prior to running, but it also mentions that a similar effect can be had by eating a small amount about two hours before the run. Ninety minutes was close enough. The article also mentions that once the run has started, you’re free to consume gels, sports drinks, etc. as needed. The idea is to begin the run at a fasting blood sugar level.

I downed twelve ounces of 1:3 gatorade to water and headed out. I’ve been using the first mile as my recovery indicator, and today it showed I was feeling good. After the first mile in 6:37, I settled in to 6:15-6:20 miles for the first ten. Then the pace dropped. Initially, it took me by surprise because the effort basically didn’t change. I thought the GPS had gone wacky, and I would wait for the next mile to get a correction.

The correction never came. With the exception of mile 12, 6:23 into the wind, miles 11-22 were between 5:53 and 6:07. Six of those miles were run around a measured course from my college days, partially to stay out of the wind, and partially to confirm that I was actually doing what I thought I was doing.

I originally had planned on 20 miles, but I was still feeling great at that point so I continued on for a couple more, knowing that long runs have been in short supply lately. I started to get a bit tired at 21, and saw the pace slow to 6:07 while the effort was increasing. Twenty-two would be a good stopping point, and it was reached in 2:16:05, about 6:11 pace.

It would have been fun to continue for 4.2 more miles to see what the time looked like, but I’ll save that for another day. Training to race, not training to train. Needless to say, though, to have done this run comfortably and without gatorade or gels out on the run in that kind of time gives me a lot of confidence heading into the next ten weeks. I just have to stay healthy to take advantage now.

Since coming out of the pool, my focus has been aerobic volume. I’ve done three of these runs, 15, 17, and 22 miles at 6:03, 6:04, and 6:11 pace, respectively. All three have felt comfortably hard overall, that steady-state pace that is hard to quantify, but easy enough to feel.

Obviously, given the amount of keyboard pounding I am doing lately, I am excited about the way things are going. I could not have imagined being 33 years old and being able to run distances and times that I would have struggled with in college as a 23 year old. It truly is all about the miles.

Before I completely exhaust your patience, dear reader, I should describe the picture. I need to track down the reference for this…I have been following a recovery plan after these longer, steady efforts which involves drinking a Slim-Fast shake within thirty minutes of finishing the run, then one to two quarts of water and a decent size plate of pasta or other high carb food about two hours after the run. The article describes the concept fully, but in summary, it is supposed to improve your recovery dramatically. It has worked very well for me so far. I don’t have the post run cramping anymore, and I have avoided DOMS (muscle soreness) completely. Drinking a lot of water and gatorade was what I had used before, but it was hit or miss. This seems to work consistently well. Good stuff.

Okay, I’m done now. If you stuck it out and read to the end, thank you, and enjoy the nap which you are surely ready for. Have a good Sunday!

Enjoy. I’m going out for a 20 miler. It’s about 50 degrees here with a nice breeze, so hopefully I don’t freeze to death the first few miles.

Phone blogging

July 7, 2006

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Phone blogging
Phone blogging,
originally uploaded by eric.

I just set up my phone to allow me to make posts from anywhere, at any time. This should give me a five percent better chance of blogging half as much as Mike or Duncan.

Easy run today recovering from yesterdays run (which I still need to blog). Eight miles in 56:20.

Firecracker!

July 4, 2006

Today was the Firecracker Half-Marathon. I didn’t run it, being conservative coming back from the calf problems. I was disappointed, but I think it was the right thing to do. I had been looking at that race as a condition check, but it just didn’t work out.

There was an 8k as well, so I ran that. I ended up second overall behind the same high school kid that edged me out at the Veteran’s Day race last November. The race went well overall. It felt more difficult than the 5k I ran back in April, and it was slower by comparison. High School Kid is about a month out from the finish of the track season, when he ran a 9:46 two mile, so he had speed to burn and he showed it at the start. His first mile was around 4:58, gapping me by 18 seconds. I guess I should have done some striders.

The gap was the same at mile two, where we each ran a 5:25. In hindsight, I should have gone after him here for a few seconds. There is a decent uphill in this mile of the course, though, so that may have bitten me at the end.

At the turnaround, the kid asked me if I was running the 8k or the half. Of course I’m running the 8k! I’m right behind you. Would it make you feel better if I was running the half marathon at 5:20 pace? Anyway, I could see he was worried, and sure enough, mile three was 5:17 for me, and another 5:25 for him as the gap shrunk to 10 seconds. About this time he also started looking back every 50-100 meters. It was absolutely infuriating. I hate it when people look back…or I should say I love it because it pisses me off and gets me fired up.

It didn’t work this time, though. Mile four passed in 5:33. In addition to going back over the hill, I was rigging up. My shins did that lock up thing I have described before, but only to about 50% of the intensity I’m used to. High school kid was having problems of his own, and must have run about a 5:35, because now I was within striking distance.

I slowly closed the gap from eight seconds to six then six to four. He kept looking back and I stayed right there. I could feel him putting in little surges each time he looked back, and in the end it was too much. With just under half a mile to go, he stretched the gap slightly. I tried to go, but I was spent. All I could manage was the steady pace that I had going. No speed for me today. He put another two seconds on me in the last quarter mile, throwing down a 5:17 to my 5:19, finishing in 27:18 to my 27:27.

The course, as usual for podunk races in podunk towns, was not measured correctly. It ended up being 5.09 miles, as opposed to 8k or 4.96 miles. I passed the actual 8k mark at about 26:44, which was about what I expected to be ready to run.

I personally enjoy the McMillan calculator. I find it to be very accurate for race equivalents, so I use it often in planning. It shows 26:44 for 8k to be equal to a 16:11 5k, which suggests I have lost a small degree of fitness since the end of April. I would tend to agree. I just haven’t been able to get the long runs or the mileage in the way I had prior to April. However, I didn’t taper for this race like I had been able to for the April race, and I wore trainers instead of flats today to protect the calves somewhat. In that sense, the performances were about equal. I guess holding on to what fitness I had is better than losing it and having to rebuild.

The calculator also suggests that today’s race equates to a 2:37:xx marathon, and I believe I am in sub-2:40 shape at this point, so I’ll buy that as well. I’ve got 87 days to do what work I can to whittle that down to the 2:33-2:34 range, and I’ll have a couple of test races along the way to see how I’m doing. Including at least one more against High School Kid. He owns me right now.

Pigs

July 1, 2006

[ed. note as you read this post, laugh whenever you see a reference to adding two seconds to each mile. It turned out to be more like 10. I’ll adjust the table and add more notes later, for posterity.]

More on the title in a minute. Yesterday was an easy four miler, which put me at 49 miles for the first full week back from the pool, with one day to go. I think I said I was going for 55, so I was in good position going into this morning’s run.

Lately, I pretty much know that if my first mile comes in under 7:00, I’m feeling recovered. Which means it’s going to be a faster run. Today was no exception. I also had a new toy, a Polar 200SD. I’m not going to be keeping it, but I decided to give it a try since my Garmin 301 is on the fritz. The Polar uses the footpod instead of GPS, so once it is calibrated, it should be more reliable and potentially even more accurate. Once it is calibrated. Did I mention the thing is useless until it is calibrated? [ed. note: this thing is useless unless it is calibrated.]

Mile one was 6:53, but the watch was off by about .15 of a mile [ed. note: this mile is accurate.]. That’s a lot. I had tried to calibrate it to my treadmill, which obviously didn’t work. I reverted to the default calibration and set off on the rest of my run. Mile two was within 10 meters of what my GPS normally hits [ed. note: that means my GPS is 20 meters off. This just keeps getting better…], so I figured all of my splits going forward were probably good with an added two seconds [ed. note: ha!]. Here are the rest of the splits with corresponding heart rate information:

**Splits have now been adjusted +10 seconds**

Time Avg HR Max HR
Mile 1 6:53.3 133 142
Mile 2 5:57.7 147 155
Mile 3 5:42.2 155 158
Mile 4 5:35.9 158 160
Mile 5 5:34.1 159 162
Mile 6 5:32.0 161 163
Mile 7 5:33.8 162 164
Mile 8 5:18.2 168 175

Minus the first mile, that’s 39:06 for seven miles 6.70 miles including the extra seconds. I’m going to ride out the course on my bike this afternoon because it will drive me nuts otherwise. [ed. note: I should have stayed home. Now it’s really driving me nuts.] This is one of the faster workouts of this distance I have ever done, and it was very comfortable, even through the end of the last mile. I have to check this course…

More important though is that it felt great and very controlled. Even if the miles were five seconds off ten seconds off, it shows I have gained fitness coming out of a nine day cross training layoff, and I have some semblance of durability in my lower legs again. I also have gained confidence that I can do relatively hard aerobic workouts with one day of recovery, like Fatboy recently recommended. Since I am training up for a marathon and not a 10k, I’m really not concerned about hard workouts and repetitions. I’ll get in some mile or 2000 meter repeats later on in the buildup and will continue with striders 2-3 times a week, but the bread and butter of my first marathon will be long, strongly aerobic efforts as often as possible, and moderate distance AT/tempo pace runs once a week. And assloads of calf raises.

Now, about those fucking pigs. I respect police officers, just like I respect firefighters and military people. They are all providing a service to the rest of us, making it possible for people like me to pursue pointless leisure activities like training for marathons, instead of fighting thugs in the street for scraps of food like we all would be doing if it were not for the social order that these people help to provide. On the whole, these are great people doing great things.

I’m running down the street, on the street, at 5:2x 5:3x pace, just after 6am. In a small town on Fourth of July weekend, there is no one driving. There is no one driving at 6am seven days a week on these roads. Except for two bored cops. I spotted them from about 100m away, just hanging out at a green light. Odd. As I run by, I flash them a quick wave, and continue on. No wave back. Odd. Another 30m down the road past them, I hear an eardrum blasting voice over a loudspeaker:

[unintelligible] RUN ON THE SIDEWALK.

“Fucking motherfuckers” was how I expressed my shock. Continuing to run on the road was how I expressed by lack of respect for these two idiots. These are the people I’m supposed to depend on to maintain social order? They can’t even restrain themselves from harrassing someone who is obviously causing no harm to anyone? I would expect cops to be way beyond doing that kind of ‘run, Forrest, run’ crap. I guess not. I wanted to turn around and just point blank ask them what I was doing wrong, and if it was illegal to run on the road. I also wanted to ask them to write me a ticket, so I could take a day off from work to go to court and make a point of how these pricks are spending their time. I didn’t because I had a mile to go and I wasn’t going to waste my breath on them. They still screwed me though, because a 5:10 5:18 mile has nothing to do with tempo pace. Bastards.

There must be something about the cops around here. Me and a friend of mine were literally and purposely run off of the road into a ditch by a sheriff’s car about twelve years ago. It’s one incident that sticks out in my mind causing me to believe that no one has respect for a runner except for other runners. Anyway…

Hope you all are having a good weekend. Celebrate your hard-earned freedom, watch some Fox News, wave your flag, and go ‘splode some stuff.

Mike has been experimenting with his body again. Let’s pull our minds out of the gutter for a second, shall we? That’s better. He’s been experimenting with not eating before running, trying to improve his marathon endurance by doing so.

I thought the idea sounded like something some kind of idiotic, stupid, moronic caveman would do. Like a runner growing a beard in the summer or something dopey like that. I was not on board with the idea to put it mildly.

Then I did some reading, and realized that Mike may just be a genius. An art-loving, song-singing, cheerleader-loving genius.

So, I am making public my most heartfelt apologies to Mike via my blog as requested by his lawyers. As a condition of the settlement, I was also required to try the whole fasting thing out for myself, and, honestly, I am a fan of the concept now. I took nothing more than two ounces of water, and was out the door for a 90 minute run. I ended up feeling great, completing a seemingly effortless 15 miles in 1:32:30. And as a final gesture of good faith, In Mike’s name, I will attending running camps this summer, distributing false beards to children who cannot grow their own. Boys and girls alike. Other than apologizing directly to Mike, his family, all of the members of his extended family living in the contiguous 48 states, any of his pets, either living or deceased, his podiatrist, dentist, hair stylists (yes, there are several), groupies, and Lucas, it’s the least I can do.