Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Update for Thanksgiving Week

Monday - after Sunday's 20-miler, I took the day off. My left hamstring is tight and I was a bit tired from last week's mileage.

Tuesday - traveling to Kansas City. In the evening did my first track workout for this marathon cycle. After warming up for 2 miles, did three sets of 800m - 600m - 400m - 200m with about 30 second recovery between distances and 2 minute recovery between sets. Finished with a 2 mile cool down. About 8 miles total, and I was exhausted.

Wednesday - drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where we would have Thanksgiving. The weather was not too cold but Thursday was forecast to be very cold so I made sure to get out for a short run Wednesday evening - only 3 miles, but it felt good.

Thursday (Thanksgiving) - extremely cold! The high was something like 19F, and the wind chill must have been near 0F. It was so freaking cold! And I forgot my windbreaker, so no jacket -- no run. This was the first real planned run that I have missed in this cycle. But it was Thanksgiving, we had dinner with great friends and family. We cooked together, ate together, played music together. We also have this tradition on Thanksgiving...

In order to get the guests out of the house for a couple hours before dinner (so we can get dinner together and have just a bit of a break), we would send our guests out on a scavenger hunt. Sometimes they would have to collect things, last year they had to take pictures portraying famous events (with themselves and various city landmarks, for example "Lewis and Clark first view the prairie" and you must include the famous Kansas City statue "Scout"). This year, our good friends hosting us for Thanksgiving, sent us out to make a movie describing "The True Story of Thanksgiving". Our group ended up at a grocery store interviewing one of the managers for our movie. He turned out to be the father of Elijah Wood (Frodo from "Lord of the Rings"). We all had a great time (despite the arctic temperatures).

Friday - it started to warm up a little bit. I was able to get out and run almost 9 miles. As I was missing my tempo run for the week, for the last couple of miles I picked up the pace quite a bit. Felt great.

Saturday - drove back to Kansas City, dropped Mom off at the airport, and headed home. Now the temperature was getting very warm with a wind from the South. Went for a short run (about 3 miles) in shorts and T-shirt and was sweating quite a bit. What a contrast to the last couple of days.

Sunday - the weather remained quite nice, though overcast with a few sprinkles. In the afternoon went for a long run. I had originally planned on going 22 miles, but I had some time constraints, and the previous weeks were pretty intense, so I decided it was probably a good idea to back off for a week. I only did 18 miles. (My daughter just laughed at me when I said "I only did 18 today".)

So for a week in which I backed off on my mileage, I still put in over 40 miles. I should be ready for next week's 22 miler.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Two Times Ten is Twenty

After an easy 3-miler on Saturday, today was the first 20-miler of this marathon cycle. Not bad. Not entirely comfortable, but not bad. Total miles this week was 52.

I didn't take the time to plan out a single 20 mile course, so I did a 10 mile loop twice. The only bad thing about doing a 10 mile lap twice is that after the first lap, you're kind of tired. And the car is right there. And you start thinking, "why am I doing this?". Anyway, forced myself onwards along the second lap. This was a loop along the Charles River between the Arsenal Bridge and the Harvard Bridge.

I tried a new energy gel on this run. I'd been using Clif Shots but Marathon Sports doesn't carry a very good selection of flavors. My favorite for late in a run, like around 15 miles or so, was always Cola Buzz (something like that). Even though I don't drink sodas, I actually like the cola taste. I seem to be able to handle it after that many miles (unlike the fruit flavors, or vanilla). At the San Diego marathon, they had Power Gels, so the month before that marathon I switched. They were OK. Today I tried GU. The first one, at around 10 miles, was orange flavored. I thought it worked pretty well. Not as sickly sweet as the Clif Shot Orange Cream. At 15 miles I tried the Espresso. I don't know if was the flavor, or my stomach shutting down. Not so good. I'd also been drinking diluted Gatorade until that point, but dumped the remainder and just drank water the rest of the way. Felt pretty rundown by 20 miles.

After stretching for a bit in the back end of the Pathfinder, and changing into a sweatshirt and pants, drove into Cambridge for an afternoon brunch. I ended up walking around a couple more miles which actually helped my legs recover, then had brunch at Zoe's. Great food, lousy service. Took some pictures around Cambridge to show our friends at Thanksgiving. I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving with our dear friends and family. Usually Thanksgiving is at our house, but since we're in the middle of moving to Cambridge, our Canadian friends from Iowa, eh, have invited us all up to their place this year. It will be a great time of feasting and sharing music with each other. I wonder if there's a Turkey Trot/5K in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this Thanksgiving?


Friday, November 18, 2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Thermometer in the car read 29F when I left work this evening. Freaking cold. At least compared to Wednesday when it was 66F when I left work. So today's easy 4 mile run at lunchtime was a little chilly (forgot my hat).

After last week's race I did an easy 4 on Monday, then a hill workout Tuesday at lunchtime (total of 5 miles on the treadmill) and another easy 4 Tuesday evening (also on the treadmill -- it was raining and I was feeling like a wimp). Wednesday was another easy 4, and Thursday was a good hard tempo workout (8 miles). Today was 4 miles and tomorrow will be an easy 3 or 4. I plan to try the trail around Fresh Pond down the street from the house we're moving into. Then Sunday will be my first 20 miler for this marathon cycle. I'm feeling pretty good for reaching 50+ miles per week, and all of my runs seem to be getting faster. Now as long as I can stay injury-free until the marathon...

C-Ya (after I go pick up a nice warm hat and some running mittens)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pic from 10 Mile Race

Near the start of the race. I'm number 276 (near the middle). Photo courtesy of Ted Tyler.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

10 Miler and a PR

OK, technically, whatever I did today would be a PR. This is the first time I've raced this distance. That said...

My goal was to finish between 1:20 and 1:25 (8:00 to 8:30 pace). My plan was to go out at 8:30 pace and run negative splits throughout. So how did I do?

Short Version:

Yes, I accomplished my goal! (woot woot) Watch time was 1:23:36, average pace 8:22 (Chip time was 1:23:43, an 8:23 pace). Course was a little more hilly than expected, not too bad, but not conducive to even splits. Weather was very nice. Start temperature was around 46F. This was a very nice race, well organized (excepting at least one misplaced mile marker), with appropriate goodies at the finish (juice, bagels, bananas, COFFEE, and hot soup). I will try and return next year, and recommend the race to any of you New Englanders out there.

I have to say something about the overall winner. Patrick Moulton (23 years old from Pelham, NH) apparently won the race 2 years ago in something like 54 minutes. Last year he won in about 52 minutes. Today he won in 49:43. HOLY CRAP! That's under 4:59 per mile, for 10 miles, on a course with hills! Second place was 57:15. He won by 7 minutes and 32 seconds. Amazing. And ... apparently he ran his first marathon a couple months ago -- in 2:20! This kid is destined to be a great American distance runner. Keep an eye on him.

Long Version:

There were 357 runners in the 10-miler (there were also 265 entrants in the 5K run/walk). Temperature at the start was about 46F. I wore my lightweight long sleeve shirt and Race Ready shorts (along with my now signature grey cap and red sunglasses). The course was roughly 1 mile out, then twice around a 4 mile loop, then 1 mile back. I do only about a half mile warmup since it's a longer race and I won't be running full bore. Again, the plan is to start at 8:30 pace and run negative splits to finish between 1:20 and 1:25.

Mile 1: 7:53 -- OK, so this was way faster than planned, but it was almost all downhill so it's OK.

Mile 2: 7:55 -- Oops, that one was definitely too fast. I'll pay for that later. This was the first mile of the loop and it's mostly uphill. How did I do sub-8:00 going uphill?

Mile 3: 8:21 -- Now that's more like it. This mile is also mostly uphill. It has the first water station and I WALK through the station making sure to drink a whole cup of water. In my first marathon I also walked through the water stations, in my second I tried running and spilled too much and didn't drink enough. Since I'm simulating my next marathon, I walk through all of the water stations.

Miles 4 & 5: 16:28 -- Hmm. The 4-mile marker was missing. Mile 4 is relatively flat and mile 5 is mostly downhill, so I'm guessing these were maybe 8:20 and 8:08 respectively. Second water station is in mile 5 and I walk through again.

Mile 6: 9:32 -- What the hell? This is the same as mile 2 and I did it 1:37 slower? Doesn't seem right but it is uphill and I'm tired. As I'm heading up this hill a guy passes me. He's older. He's overweight. I can't believe this guy is passing me. Maybe I'm fading? But it doesn't feel like it to me. I really don't want this guy to beat me so I make sure I keep close behind him from here on.

Mile 7: 8:20 -- Yeah, that's about right. This is the same as mile 3 and is mostly uphill. I do it 1 second faster than the first time around. Thinking that the 6 mile marker is misplaced. Again walk through the water station.

Mile 8: 8:19 -- Feeling good. This is the same as mile 4, so my guess as to the pace I was doing for #4 is probably pretty close.

Mile 9: 7:17 -- That can't be right. Sure it's downhill, but I'm not running that much faster. That one's also misplaced. But now I've got (about) 1 mile to go and the older, hefty runner is still in front of me. That's impressive. I pull up right behind him. Walk through the last water station.

Mile 10: 9:29 -- Yup, that 9-mile marker was in the wrong place. I'm running side by side with the hefty runner and we're now passing people. We're both speeding up towards the finish line. I still can't believe this guy can keep accelerating. With about a quarter mile to go, I turn to him and say, "All right, let's do it!" (not in a competitive way, but in a very encouraging way) and I kick it up a notch. He's only with me for about 10 yards and then falls back. I'm moving pretty fast now and I pass a couple more runners in the last couple hundred yards. Now, about 50 feet from the finish line I hear somebody coming up behind me very fast and I can tell they plan to pass me just before the line. But I really have been pacing myself the whole race and have plenty of kick left. I pour it on and absolutely dust them over the last 50 feet. I never look back but hear them say, "Oh, crap." Yeah, felt good.

My watch reads 1:23:36 and the chip time is 1:23:43. I place 168th overall (out of 357) and 48th in my age group (out of 71). I do a bit of a cool-down jog then head for the goodies. After indulging in the bagels, juice, coffee and soup, I drive back to the apartment and take a well deserved nap. After putting in a few more hours at work I plan to do an easy 3 mile run this evening.

It's been a good day and things are looking good in my progress towards the Arizona marathon.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ready to Race

Friday -- did an easy 4 miler along the Minute Man trails at lunchtime. Feeling good. Temperature was about 40F. Kinda chilly. Anita and I signed the lease for our place in Cambridge. We're excited about it. Not excited about the actual logistics in getting all of our stuff moved out here, so now is a really good time to down-size.

Saturday -- after dropping Anita off at the airport, drove up to Andover to pick up my race packet for tomorrow's 10 mile race. Went for another easy run when I got back to the apartment (3 miles, resting up for tomorrow), ate a late lunch, then headed in to work for a few hours.

Looking forward to the 10-mile race tomorrow morning. I'm told the course is not too hilly, and the weather should be pretty nice, so I'm hoping for a good race. I plan to start at about an 8:30 pace and run negative splits throughout. I'm hoping to finish between 1:20 and 1:25.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Moving to Cambridge!

On a non-running note, Anita and I found a house in Cambridge. As we haven't sold the house in Kansas, we'll be renting for a while, and that's fine in the current Boston real estate market. We are so excited to live in Cambridge. For any of you in the area, it's in the Huron Village area, between Harvard Square and Fresh Pond. It's just a block or so from Fresh Pond with it's short running trail, and less than a mile to the Charles River where I do my long runs (yeah!). Plus we'll have room for guests.

So after Tuesday's great run, Wednesday's was bound to be a little less than stellar, and it didn't disappoint. Dragged myself through a 4 mile easy run; pretty tired from the previous day's 8 miler.

Thursday was a little better. Did another easy 4 at lunchtime then a 5 mile hill workout in the evening on the treadmill. Like some of my recent easy 4 milers, it felt too easy and I felt like I had to hold myself back. The hill workout felt invigorating. I think I'm starting to get my fast legs back and I'm looking forward to this weekend's 10 mile race to see how I'm doing.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This Is Why I Run

Tuesday's run had to have been one of the best runs I've ever had. Certainly a top ten.

After my long run (18 miles) last Saturday I was pretty beat. My short run Sunday evening helped work some stiffness out but I was still pretty tired. So Monday was supposed to be an easy day. I went 6 miles at an easy pace. Tuesday I planned a tempo run of 7 or 8 miles and was worried I had not rested enough. But...

At lunchtime on Tuesday I started out along the Minute Man park trails with 2 easy miles to warm up. In the second mile I did 3 strides (accelerated to a fast pace, held it for a brief time, then slowed down again). Next I did 2 miles at "tempo" pace. Everything just felt perfect. On the downhills I felt like I was just gliding, feet barely touching the ground. On the uphills I lifted my knees a bit higher, shortened my stride and quickened my leg turnover. Finished the 2 miles in about 16:40 and did not feel at all beat, just invigorated. After another relaxing mile (about 10 min pace), I did another 2 mile "tempo". Same as the first 2 mile tempo, though by the end my legs were feeling a bit tired. 16:30. [Note: according to my co-workers, my 2-mile segments were probably a bit more than 2 miles so I would have been doing close to an 8:00/mile pace. Whatever.] I never felt aerobically taxed or out of breath. I ended with another easy mile for a total of 8 miles and one of the best runs I can remember in a long time.

Adapting my stride to the terrain, pushing my body, leaning against my aerobic limits but never overexerting, moving quickly through the brisk air, the musty smells, and the golden leaves of Autumn. At one with the world around me.

This is why I run.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Four Days - 34 miles

Yeah, the knee is doing better.

So let's see, last Thursday was an easy 4 on the trails at work, then that evening I did a 5 mile hill workout on the treadmill. I'm finding now that I can handle two workouts in one day occasionally. Friday was another easy 4. I was worried that I would be too tired from the previous day's workouts, but I actually felt really good. Too good. I felt I was running too fast for the day before a long run, and consciously slowed down the last 2 miles.

Saturday was the long run. 18 miles. I have done almost every long run on Sunday so this was a bit different for me. I planned my route along the Charles River. The loop from the Arsenal St. bridge to the Harvard bridge and back is 9.7 miles. The loop from the Arsenal St. bridge to the Boston University bridge is 7.8 miles. The two loops together make 17.5 miles, so I parked about a quarter mile from the start.

The first 10 miles felt pretty good. Split was 1:35, 9:30 per mile. By the second loop, my whole left calf was aching. Then, at around 14 miles or so I've got to cross the bridge over the Charles that leads to B.U. A bit steeper than the Harvard bridge, and when you get to the other side you have to go down a long set of stairs (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch,...). Then to make things worse, it leaves me on the wrong side of the road. And now I have to backtrack almost a quarter of a mile to another bridge over the road (the road was way too busy to cross at that point). Another set of stairs up the walkway (ouch, ouch, ...), over the road, then down another set of stairs (ow, ow, "this really sucks", ow,...). And then to top it all off, my water bottle is empty and the water fountains where I planned to refill it are shut off! By the end of the 18 miles, I'm both dead tired and thirsty. And after my legs have had a good chance to really tighten up in the car I still have to negotiate the 40 steps down to my apartment (!@#$, !@#$, !@#$,...).

Sunday, I felt pretty stiff. But by the evening was ready for a short 3 mile run just to stretch things out. Felt good.

So 34 miles in the last 4 days for a total of 45 miles for the week. A good week.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pain Behind Knee Almost Gone

...but tendonitis below and outside the knee still making its presence felt.

After last Sunday's race, I had quite a knotted up calf -- I was feeling pain behind my knee (and stubborn me went for a second run that evening). But icing it and stretching it (quite often) over the next day or so really improved it. I took Monday off completely.

On Tuesday, ran 7 miles (tempo run). I could feel the muscle "knot" but it was much less intense. It just felt like it needed to be stretched out. I based my tempo pace off of the 5K I just ran. My guidance was that tempo pace should be about 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. I ran the 5K at an average 7:47 pace so I figured 8:15 pace would be good. Well, it turned out to be an 8:24 pace, but that was fine. Plus I added another mile to my usual tempo run. I did a 2 mile warmup, then 2 miles at tempo pace, an easy mile, then another mile at tempo pace, and a 1 mile cooldown. I realized I had been running my tempo runs too fast (closer to an 8:00 pace) -- and I don't think I could have run the 3rd mile at that pace, but at 8:24 it was quite doable. Oh, and all three tempo pace miles were right at 8:24 (and I don't monitor my time as I'm running, I just take the mile splits). Very even pace. Very good workout.

Today, Wednesday, was another easy day -- 4 miles. The knot in my calf is pretty much gone. The tendonitis is still there, however. And I still do not feel it at all during or after running -- even with mild hills. Only if I kneel on the left knee, or lift my left leg at least 90 degrees and rotate the leg (eg. sitting cross-leg with my left foot on my right knee). I'm trying to avoid any movements that bring on the pain. So far I can't tell if it's improving, but I've avoided the sharp pain for several days now.

Tomorrow will be a hill workout. But since I'm avoiding downhill running, it will have to be on the treadmill. At least the changing incline makes it interesting (I otherwise hate treadmill running).