Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I've Been Thinking...

I've been thinking recently about running and bigger picture sorts of things. After looking back at all the left-brain analysis I did of my last race I have to remind myself that's a very incomplete picture of what's going on here. Being the very analytical, living-in-the-rational-world sort of person I am, it's easy to allow that side of my brain to take over. The challenge for me is to give the right side its space. Time and space to perceive, and feel, and create unique insights into who I am and my place in the world.

It's interesting, because when I'm running it's all right brain. (Except occasionally when I'm doing intervals and have to actually think about how fast and far I'm going.) On a long run, the left side just checks out and the right side just soaks up the experience. I think that's why I never listen to music when I run. The left-brain would wake up and be all "hey, i got something I can do now! i can listen to this song and think about the lyrics. go away right-brain." (Actually, the only time I listen to music is when I have to do a workout on a treadmill at work. Not because I want to listen to music. But because if I don't turn on the radio, the next person walking into the gym will inevitably turn on the TV. Ack! Evil!)

Running is a complete endeavor for me. It embodies all aspects of my being. It's obviously physical. In training for and running a marathon, I'm pushing my body to its physical limits.

It can be social at times. Even though I relish my time alone on my runs, it was a blast running the Arizona Rock N Roll Marathon with thousands of other runners and spectators. And despite being pretty much an introvert, sometimes I enjoy running with other people.

It's certainly emotional at times. There's nothing quite like finishing that first marathon! But the lows are there as well. Dealing with injury can bring on significant depression. But even those feelings imform me how important this running is to my well-being.

And it's mental as well. Time is spent analyzing past performances and setting up training plans using the latest scientific results from exercise physiologists (courtesy of some folks I'm very grateful for who do this for a living). Apart from all the analysis I like to do, there is also a mental discipline in running every day. It's not unlike a daily meditation practice. Which leads me to the spiritual aspects of running...

Running is for me, at its most sublime, a connection with the earth and that divine presence behind this material veil. A time when I dissolve into and become one with creation. A time when "self" disappears and I'm aware of everything around me; the way the light filters through the trees; and a narrow spot of sun illuminates a random grouping of dead leaves on the ground; and the edges of those leaves form an infinitely complex pattern; and in that moment, that instant of perception, I hear a bird alighting from a small branch in the distance; and I don't see it but soon I register the smell of decomposing leaves; and then I am aware of my breathing, and the crunching of my footfalls, and my spirit is one with creation, and my run is a re-creation, or a co-creation with the universal divine. And what's even more amazing is that I don't have to be out on a wooded trail to have these sorts of revelations. It could be a run through a city, or the suburbs, or a two-lane country road. It can happen anywhere. Of course it doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes I'm just tired and aching and just want to get through the run. But when I touch that spark...

[The left-brain would everyone to know that we did cross training today: 1 mile warm-up, 20 minutes cycling, 15 minutes rowing.]

Monday, January 30, 2006

Race Plans

My next marathon:

Actually, that's the view from the marathon.

"Wait a minute... that doesn't look like Duluth! I thought you were going to run Grandma's Marathon?"

Well, that was the plan until I couldn't find a hotel within 50 miles of Duluth (except for one B&B that wanted a three night minimum at almost $300 a night -- screw that). Sorry, DGC, guess I won't be seeing you at this one -- I'm sure you'll have a blast though. But I found a pretty interesting marathon.

I've just registered for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon set for June 11th.

It's small.

It's relatively flat.

It's got great local character.

It's on the north end of the Olympic penninsula and looks absolutely beautiful.

It starts in Sequim and follows the North Olympic Discovery Trail along the coast to Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Plus I'm always up for a few days in the Emerald City!

I'm also picking out a few races to intersperse in my training.

March: Run to Remember - 5 mile (Boston, Mass. March 12th)
Ras na hEireann USA ("The Race of Ireland and USA") 5K (Somerville, Mass. March 19th)

April: GMAA Rollin Irish Half Marathon (Vermont - April 22nd)

May: Long Island Half Marathon (New York - May 7th)

That's it for now.

Oh, today was an easy 4 miler over gently rolling hills. Ran from work (Lincoln, Mass.) out to Concord and back (started to head for the trail but found it still completely covered in snow so I hit the roads). Still aware of that adductor on the early hills, but nothing after that. It was a little brisk (forgot my cap).


Sunday, January 29, 2006

End of Recovery

I ended my two weeks of post-race recovery with a lovely 6 mile run yesterday (Saturday). It was a sunny 50 degrees in the afternoon. I left the house around 4:00 pm in shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt. As I climbed the short hill from the house, I could still kind of feel the adductor tightening up. After the hill, it was fine. I'll continue to take it easy for the next few weeks. Six miles took me to the Charles River and down to the Boston University bridge. I hit red lights at every single intersection. They were conspiring against me. At three miles I turned around. The return trip wasn't much better as far as the lights went. I don't know what was up with that. But the running...

By mile four things were clicking. I was in the groove. The pace just naturally picked up and I was in that old familiar stride. Welcome back, old friend. Through mile 5, a beautiful sunset over the Charles completed the picture. Mile 6 took me back through the affluent neighborhoods of Brattle Street, then Huron Village and finally down the hill, fast, to the house. A minute and a half faster on the return trip. Feels good. Very good.

And so now the recovery phase is over and I begin to build up my base again. I'll be adding more runs and more miles, though no speed training yet, and no really long runs for the next three weeks. Just rebuilding the aerobic base. I will continue the ab. workouts though, and will endeavor to continue losing weight (I think 1 or 2 pounds lost last week). After three weeks of base running I'll begin the 16 week countdown to my next marathon. Next post: race plans for the year.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Enough with the Analyzing!

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! The following geekball post may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.

[You've been warned.]

I've spent enough time analyzing all the data from my recent marathon. I've got splits for every mile; I know when, where and how much water and how much "PowerBar Endurance" I drank; when, where and how many gels I took; the carb content of everything (in grams); the sodium content of everything (in mgs); I used a standard measure of 13.8 ml/minute for the rate at which the stomach empties fluids into the intestines (haven't figured out how to measure that one yet); I used a standard rate of 25 ml/minute for a sweat rate (I measured it once or twice last year but can't find my data); I had my starting body weight and a conservative estimate of my initial glycogen stores. Anja says, "That's sick!".

I'll spare you, dear reader, the actual data.

The analysis shows that at around 192 minutes (the 21 mile mark), I had probably lost a good 2.5% of my body weight (fluid loss). Studies show that by the time an athlete has lost more than 2%, performance is degraded about 10%. My splits confirm this - I was slowing a bit. The 21 mile mark also corresponds to the first cramp I experienced in the race (low fluids/sodium).

Further, my data shows that I was likely running out of glycogen stores around 220 minutes (right around mile 24). This situation is commonly referred to as "hitting the wall". My average pace through the first 24 miles was 9:17. For the last 2 miles, my pace was 12:15. There's your wall. It happens in a matter of minutes.

On the plus side:

The cramps were less severe than in my previous two marathons. That's good. I'm on the right track.

Also, I seem to have pushed the "wall" back a couple miles from my first marathon. I'd say in my first marathon I hit it around mile 21 or 22. This one was at 24.

So what did I do wrong? What can I do better next time? How do I better prepare myself?

1. Better pre-race carb-loading. I could definitely do a better job here. I hardly increased my carb intake prior to the race. I just figured I'd maintain my diet and with the tapering I'd be packing away more glycogen. Next time I'll take the carb loading more seriously. No wall next time!

2. More salt. Apparently some people sweat out more sodium than others. I suspect I lose more sodium than normal people do when I sweat. Also, higher concentrations of sodium in the drinks you take in during a race aid in the absorption of fluids into your system (it just doesn't taste so good). Next time I'll probably try "Succeed" tablets, or else figure out how to get more electrolytes into the race drinks (or both). No cramps next time!

3. Become a more efficient runner. Need to run farther and faster with less effort (duh). So for my next cycle, here are three goals/changes:

A. Lose weight. [I'm right there with you Pnut!] Less weight to move = less effort. And I've got some weight to lose.

B. Add speed drills to my workouts. Per B.A.A. recommendations: 6 X 100m strides (at 1 mile race pace) two or three times a week. Also need to re-read Hal Higdon's book on running faster - maybe pick a couple more drills. Anyone have suggestions?

C. Stretch one or two long runs to 22 or 23 miles. I also plan to adjust the pace of my long runs. They could actually be just a little bit faster. This will require a bit of carb-loading prior to every long run.

That's it for my post-race analysis. I've got my next marathon planned, a couple races leading up to it, and my training program laid out. But more about that in my next post.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Feels Good to Run Again

Boy howdy, does it feel good to run again! Even if it's just an easy 4 miler.

In a dream last night I was running up a long hill. As I started running, I realized I could run a whole lot faster and accelerated up the hill, running, leaping with pure abandonment, for no other reason but that I could do it. So exhilirating. Pure joy.

Couldn't wait to run today at lunchtime.

An easy 4 miler. It sounds anti-climactic after the dream but I enjoyed every minute of the run. The adductor is feeling much better. There was no tightness at all when I started (a first for the last several weeks). I could feel some tightness after about a mile, but not bad at all. I'll continue running only every other day for a while and see how it progresses.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Recovery Week

Post-race recovery is starting to get boring. I'd like to get out and run more, but I know I need to really take it easy. My right adductor was tight in the weeks leading up to the marathon, and while it didn't hurt at all during the marathon, I've been feeling it a bit more ever since.

There was no running on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday I went for a very easy 2 mile run. By 2 miles, I could feel it in my quads, that lingering soreness. And my adductor was pretty tight throughout the whole 2 miles.

Friday I did some ab work and then cycled for a while (no running), and then no running on Saturday (which was too bad since the weather was so nice).

Sunday morning I did 3 miles to Fresh Pond, around it and back home. The adductor sitch is improving but I could still feel it through much of the run. This next week I plan to run every other day, and nothing fast or far. I do need this muscle to heal so I can start building up my base for my next cycle.

And what's next? Haven't nailed it down yet, but I'm seriously thinking about doing Grandma's Marathon in Duluth next June. If the healing process takes too long, though, I'll probably just do some shorter races later this Spring and then gear up for a Fall marathon.

Still working on my post-race analysis and will post on that soon. I'm also working on a major update to the design of this blog (new original graphics).

- Kurt

Friday, January 20, 2006

Arizona Marathon Pictures (Finally)

As promised, here are a few pictures from Sunday...

Race picture is courtesy of Elizabeth (thanks, again!). It's taken in the last quarter mile or so. I cramped up again just after the picture was taken.

After the crowds were mostly gone. (Anita and I hung around after the race, soaking up those dangerous UV rays and listening to music.)

And of course the RBF post-race Mexican dinner with Elizabeth, Ellie, and Tammy (who is now over here)! We were so excited to meet up that we all had to take a picture right away. So I think we all took this same picture.

And here I am with Ellie and her husband.

And there's Elizabeth with her husband and Tammy. Elizabeth is still working on that chimichanga there!

I've still got one more race-related post to finish (the brutally objective post-race analysis).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Arizona Marathon - Full Report

OK, let's start with the executive summary:

Time: 4:09:53 (9:32 average)

10K: 55:23
1/2 Mar: 1:56:14
20M: 3:01:05

10400 registered for the marathon, 8031 finished, 4176 males, 565 male (age 45-49)

Overall place: 2453 (69th percentile)
Among males: 1718 (59th percentile)
Among males age 45-49: 239 (58th percentile)

My goals were sub-4:00 and no cramping and I didn't accomplish either one. But I am not at all disappointed with the effort (yeah, me!), and the cramping was not as bad as my previous marathons. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

4:30 a.m.

Dueling alarm clocks break my peaceful slumber. Yes, I did get a good night's sleep. (Unfortunately, the previous two nights were a little short.) But I quickly get up and dress.

I've got a running shirt I was about to retire so I decided to make some modifications for this race. I printed "Kurt from Boston" on the front, and "Kurt from Boston / Running Blog Family / fastandfar.blogspot.com" on the back. I remember my first marathon running behind a guy with "Jim" on his shirt and hearing everyone cheering for him. I decided then that was a good idea.

The pre-race breakfast: a peanut toffee buzz Clif Bar (a tasty balance of carbs, protein, and fat), plenty of water, half a bagel spread with organic peanut butter and sprinkled with a little salt, more water, a banana (need that potassium too), some more water, one relatively small cup of coffee, and some more water. I am fully hydrated and am alternating between stretching and reviewing my race plans.

My target time is 3:50. I've broken down my mile splits for the entire race, starting with a 9:15 first mile (accounting for additional slowness due to the crowds at the beginning of the race) and then running negative splits down to 8:45 at the midway point. After that, if I'm feeling good, I'll continue on down to 8:30 by the end for 3:50, otherwise if I'm not feeling so good, I'll just hang on or even slow down slightly and hopefully bring it in under 4:00.

5:30 a.m.

Wake everyone up.

6:10 a.m.

Hit the road. Anita and I are staying at Mom's house out near Surprise, Arizona, so we have a bit of a drive to the start. The time to get to the start was estimated correctly and they drop me off right at 6:40. Anita and Mom are going to go have breakfast and then look for me around mile 5 (Camelback and 7th Avenue).

I spend my time stretching (especially that pesky right adductor), slather on the sunblock and then get in line for the john. Again, timing is impeccable and I finish up with just enough time to drop my gear bag and get to my corral (#2).

Just before the start, the announcer claims Frank Shorter is there to send us off (and I thought I heard he was to run the half marathon). I don't see him. I don't see much of anything beyond the crowd of runners around me (some of whom obviously don't belong in corral #2).

7:40 a.m.

We're off and ... walking. Somewhere around 7:41 or so I begin running, cross the mat, and start my watch.

I feel the tightness in my right adductor for maybe 30 seconds but that's it for the entire race (what a relief!). I am trying to hold back and am staying behind the 4:00 pace leader since a 4 hour pace averages to 9:09 per mile and I'm trying to run a 9:15 mile. I figure it's a good way to calibrate my pace right off the bat.

Mile 1 - 9:11 (pretty close)

I'm trying to resist the urge to speed up too much as my next mile should be 9:00, but I feel like I've sped up too much. And I'm still behind the 4:00 pace leader.

Mile 2 - 8:38 (OK, the pace leader is going too fast now!)

Holding myself back further now. I pass the 4:00 pace leader. I reach the first water station and walk briefly as I drink down a cup of water. The 4:00 pace leader passes me again.

Mile 3 - 9:06 (I really think that pace leader is going out too fast.)

I start to pick it up just a little bit. The last mile was a bit slow, but I've already got a couple faster ones in so I figure it's a wash. I pass the 4:00 pace leader (and groupies).

Mile 4 - 8:44

That last mile was slightly fast but I'm feeling good. There's a water/endurance station coming up and as I've decided to walk through each one I figure the times are balancing out. I'm mostly running on the right side of the road and I look for Anita and Mom near Camelback and 7th Avenue. I don't see them but I start hearing more "Yeah, Kurt from Boston!", "Go Kurt", "Boston!".

Mile 5 - 8:58

Again a slightly slower mile due to the aid station, but I feel they are balancing out. As we turn East on Missouri, everything is feeling pretty good, though a bit warm.

Mile 6 - 8:45

10K Split - 55:23

Unbelievable! My TARGET 10K split was 55:23 and I've hit it exactly. I am psyched.

Mile 7 - 8:52

From this point on, it feels hot and every water station I pass I drink one cup and a second cup douses my head with cool water.

Mile 8 - 8:52

I really feel like I'm in the groove. I'm clicking off consistent miles as we turn south on 24th street. This is a great stretch of the race, the crowds are huge here, and the band is tearing it up. Turning East again on Camelback, I go straight for the shade of the buildings.

Mile 9 - 8:51

Mile 10 - 9:01

After 10 miles, my legs are starting to get a little tired, and each consecutive water/endurance station takes just a bit longer than the previous one. I take my first Gu (gel) - Orange Mango (I think).

Mile 11 - 9:12

As we head South on 44th street, for a while I run near a guy in a pink tutu, and for a while there is a little less "Yeah! Kurt from Boston!", and a little more "Go Fairy!". I decide I prefer not running near the pink tutu as he's getting way too much attention.

Mile 12 - 8:48

Despite the minor complaining from my legs, I'm still feeling good.

Mile 13 - 8:51

As we pass under the Half Marathon "gate", and over the timing mats, the announcer tells us that Haile Gebrselassie has set a new world half-marathon record on the course we are about to complete. I was not aware the he was running a separate course from all the other half-marathon participants. Turns out he broke both the half-marathon record and the 20K record on the second half of the marathon course (58:55 for the half). The announcer further informs us that we are going to break 4 hours in the marathon as the 4 hour pace team is behind us. I thought to myself, "that's a little premature".

Half Marathon Split - 1:56:14

My target 1/2 Marathon Split is 1:56:02. I am only 12 seconds behind my target at the half-way mark!

We turn East on Oak, and soon after will turn North on 47th. We are approaching an area of the city I know very well.

Mile 14 - 8:46

At Thomas we make a jog in the course over to 48th street and continue North. There is a band at Osborn and as I pass it I wonder if Anita and Mom will be at Whitton Ave and 48th Street. You see, that's where I grew up. My parents lived in that house for over 45 years. Anita and Mom are not there and it feels strange to pass by it. I recognize none of the people sitting there watching the race. I tear open a salt packet and lick what I can from the sweat soaked paper.

Mile 15 - 8:59

Starting to feel quite hot and tired. I take my second Gu (espresso love!). I walk a bit longer through this station. The race is taking its toll as we head East on Indian School Road.

Mile 16 - 9:37

As we approach 56th Street I again wonder if Anita and Mom will be there. Ingleside school, where I went to Kindergarten through 8th grade, is just before 56th street. I don't see them and continue fighting through the miles, again walking through the aid station.

Mile 17 - 9:26

The miles become a blur and I'm just trying to hold things together at a decent pace. It feels good, though, to still be moving at this pace at mile 17. In San Diego, I had my first leg cramp at mile 16, but there is no sign of cramping today (yet). I take my third Gu (Vanilla) at the aid station.

Mile 18 - 9:30

There is no aid station along mile 19 and my pace is still holding up fairly well as we enter the historic area of Scottsdale. I feel good as I pass beneath one of the race photographers.

Mile 19 - 9:07

And now the race gets interesting. I can feel the initial twitches of muscle cramps in my legs. The race is taking a lot out of me now, but there is a big crowd at mile 20 and for the only time along the course, I see Anita. She smiles and waves and tries to get a picture. I know that, at best, she probably got a picture of my back, but seeing her really lifts my spirits. I've completed 20 miles at race pace without cramping. But I am tired, tired, tired.

Mile 20 - 9:52

20 Mile Split - 3:01:05

I am more than 5 minutes over my target split - for a 3:50 marathon. Time to reset. Just looking to get in under 4 hours now.

At the next water station I grab another salt packet, rip it open, dump it into a cup of water and drink it up.

And just as we turn East on McDowell I'm nailed by the first of several nasty cramps. It stretches along the outside of my left leg from my foot to my knee. I have to stop to stretch it and it takes me a while to figure out how to actually stretch this one out (it's not like a simple cramp in my calf muscle). I have to walk for a little bit as the cramp relaxes and then I continue running. But I now know it will be a battle to the end.

Mile 21 - 11:18

I am so glad I took that salt packet. I get through mile 22 without any major cramping. But the muscle twitches are almost constant now and with every step I wonder if a cramp will set in.

Mile 22 - 10:17

I take my fourth and last Gu (another Vanilla) and get hit by another cramp soon after. I'm able to stretch it out a little more quickly and continue running.

Mile 23 - 10:54

I look at my time and realize it would take under 8 minute miles to get under 4 hours. Damn. That's not going to happen. But I do have a pretty good mile without any major cramping.

And then I can't believe what I see next. This can't possibly be happening?! Holy crap, these guys are handing out beers! Anyone who takes them up on that offer, probably gets what they deserve.

Mile 24 - 9:13

Now the cramps start coming more often and I have to alternate stretching and walking with the running. We finally turn West on University and I know the end is soon.

Mile 25 - 12:12

Another grueling mile of running and cramping. But as I turn North on Rural I see Elizabeth taking a picture of me and cheering wildly. Elizabeth - thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the picture in between the cramps. It really lifts my spirits and after the next major cramp I determine not to stop anymore and to just run through any remaining cramps to the finish.

Mile 26 - 12:18

Oh, those cramps hurt. And both legs are cramping as I approach the finish line. But I grit through it and finish as strong as I can.

Last .2 - 2:36

Total time: 4 hours, 9 minutes and 53 seconds. And with that, the shadow of San Diego has been lifted. The albatross is flung off my neck. That abysmal performance last June is forgotten and once again I am at least close to a 4 hour marathon.

I still believe I will do sub 4 without cramping. And in fact, it wasn't the cramping alone that put 4 hours out of reach. I was dead tired. I gave it everything I had and even without the cramping would not have gotten sub-4.

In the finishers area I picked up my swag, got the picture taken, drank some of the recovery fluid, and sat down and stretched a little bit. After maybe 5 minutes I got back up and headed for the reunion area. Right in the most crowded area, a bottleneck leading to the reunion area, I decided not to keep the recovery fluid in my stomach anymore, bent over and deposited the vile stuff in the grass. I stood up, took a swig of water, and continued walking.

Resting near the other W's, first Mom found me, then Anita. I gave them the brief version of everything and then Mom had to leave for a wedding. Anita and I hung out for a while as I continued to rehydrate, refuel, and eventually claim my free brewski.

We didn't have a big RBF meetup, but I called Elizabeth, Ellie and Tammy to confirm things as we had planned on dinner together in the evening. After a long walk to the car that did my legs a lot of good, Anita and I picked up Tammy, drove over to my sister-in-law's house for a quick shower and change, and then we headed over to Los Olivos for dinner. We ended up with a somewhat large group as I had also invited a couple friends to join us and then Anita's cousin and family also wanted to join us.

Elizabeth, Ellie and Tammy really are some of the nicest people you'd want to meet (spouses too). They really are sweet and we all had a wonderful time. All three of them inspire me. Tammy did a great job with her first marathon (What an amazing story, Tammy). And I don't know how many marathons and triathlons Ellie has done (I do remember hearing 11 states so far though). Thanks for the "succeed" tip! And Elizabeth is a speed demon (talks fast too). Read their stories on their blogs if you haven't already. (I know, I'm delinquent in getting this done.)

You gals know you are more than welcome to stay with Anita and I anytime you come to Boston. (And you know I'm serious.)

After dropping Tammy off at her hotel, Anita and I stopped at a Starbucks on the way back to Mom's place where we had a little coffee and just hung out for a bit. Then it was back to Mom's place where we heard all about the wedding fiasco...but that's a topic for someone else's blog. And a good night's sleep was had by all.

And as soon as Anita e-mails me our pictures, I'll post them.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Arizona Marathon Race Report - Short Version

OK, I just have a few minutes to get this posted as I'm sitting in a free wifi zone in Tucson (still need to drive back up to Phoenix to catch an overnight flight back to Boston tonight).


So mission was not quite accomplished (didn't break 4 hours and legs still cramped). BUT, I feel good about the race. It was actually pretty warm. Pace was good through about 20 miles. Cramped at miles 21, 23 and most of the last mile (finish line photo ought to look interesting).

Race was very well organized and we hung around afterwards for a couple hours - soaking up the rays.

Sunday evening met up with Elizabeth, Tammy and Ellie for Mexican food and had a great time.

...and now I have to go. But I promise to provide the long version tomorrow, so stay tuned.

- Kurt

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Soaking up the Arizona Experience

Less than 24 hours to go...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts! I can feel all of you lifting me up already along the course. It means a lot to me and I'm sure to all the other RBFer's running tomorrow.

Last night Mom, Sis, Anita and I went out to hear an old friend of mine playing at one of the Hilton resorts. It was like the quintessential Arizona experience - listening to old-time music, by a fire, on a chilly January night out under the stars and a beautiful moon. The band is "Joshua Stone" and anybody familiar with the bluegrass scene in Arizona during the 70's probably remembers them. They reunited about 4 years ago and play occasionally around Phoenix. My friend Lee is one of the top banjo pickers in the state - and he can play just about anything with strings on it.

Today I decided to go out for a brief run to stretch things out. I warmed up for about 3/4 mile then ran 1 mile at what I thought should be my marathon pace. My watch read 8:52 for the mile. Spot on. I'm thinking the training I did at marathon pace is going to pay off. Brief cool down for a total of 2 miles. I could still feel the tightness in my adductor, but really pretty minor. I think it'll hold out for the race.

Tonight will be a light meal (including a little bit of pasta) and maybe a movie to relax. Relatively early to bed - gotta get up around 4:30 to eat some breakfast. Tomorrow's the big day!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Last Workout before Race

Thursday was my last planned workout, another tempo run. After a 2 mile warmup, 3 X 1000m at marathon pace (4 min recovery) followed by cooldown. 6 miles total. No running on Friday, but I'll probably do a short (2 mile) run on Saturday just to keep things stretched out.

I was also pleasantly surprised to feel much less tightness in my right adductor. I've of course been worried about it, but I only felt a little tightness as I warmed up. At this point it's almost gone (though I'm sure I'll be feeling it a bit after the race on Sunday).

I had a short Jet Blue flight from Boston to JFK, then the long one to Phoenix. Not a bad operation; good prices, comfortable seats. It's now my second preference in airlines (after Midwest). Didn't get to bed until after midnight and had to get up early to pick up my wife Anita across town (she came earlier in the week to spend some time with her sister). After breakfast it's off to the race expo then a nap.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Getting Ready to Rock and Roll

After taking Monday off to rest the right adductor, I did my second to last planned workout on Tuesday. After a 2 mile warm-up, 3 (plus) miles at marathon pace followed by a 1 mile cooldown. Total of 6 miles. The adductor felt very tight for the first 30 seconds, and I could still feel the tightness as I was warming up, but by the time I got to the marathon pace, I could hardly even feel it. In fact, everything felt very good. And I didn't feel any tightness after the workout either. I've been very careful to stretch everything before and after running.

Looking good for this weekend.

I'll take Wednesday off and have one last workout on Thursday (though I may also go for a very short run on Saturday just to stretch out).

On a side note, I was amused to talk with a couple friends from Phoenix last night. Two different conversations went exactly the same way:

"So, I'm doing the Arizona marathon on Sunday."

"You're doing what? The what marathon?"

"The Arizona Rock and Roll marathon."

"Oh! The P. F. Chang run!"

"Yeah, that's the one."

I guess P. F. Chang is getting their money's worth of publicity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Last Full Training Week B4 Marathon

After Sunday's 14-miler, Monday brings an easy 3 miles. Just enough to stretch out. And since I'm feeling some pulling in my right adductor, I decide it's a good idea to take it real easy.

Tuesday is my last fast workout: 2 mile warm-up followed by 3 x (800m-600m-600m) @ 5K effort, 90 seconds recovery, 4 minutes between sets, then a mile or so cooldown. 9 miles total.

Wednesady is an easy 4, and Thursday is a 15 minute warmup followed by 2 x 15 minutes @ marathon tempo, 5 minutes recovery, followed by about a 1 mile cooldown. 7 miles total.

The tightness in my adductor is still there and I decide it needs as much rest as possible before the marathon so I take the next two days off (Friday and Saturday). On Sunday I go for a nice easy 10 mile run (Charles River of course). My leg feels pretty good, but I can feel the tightness still. There is no pain, but I feel like I'm riding a fine edge here. A couple hours after my run it's very tight but loosens up as I walk a bit in the afternoon. I will take Monday off, run Tuesday, Wednesday off, run Thursday, and then rest until the race on Sunday.

Total for the week is 33 miles. One more week until the marathon.

And then what? Since the start of the new year I've been thinking about my goals for the year, but that will be the subject of another post.

Monday, January 09, 2006

New Year's Day

I've got a busy day planned for New Year's Day.

First things first - a 14-mile run. As we've had a couple inches of snow, I'm anxious to try out my new Yak-Trax. I stretch them over my shoes and have a nice run on the mostly snow-packed trail along the Charles River. After a nice hot bath, it's time to start cooking.

The tradition in our house for years has been homemade Swedish Potato Sausage (Korv), cooked red cabbage with apples, and a veritable smorgasbord of meats, cheeses, breads and cookies. And of course, coffee! We really dig into our Scandinavian roots. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of New Year's Day at my grandmother's house, the smell of potato sausage absolutely permeating the house. You see, she made it by hand. Ground up the onions, potatoes, beef and spices in a hand-cranked grinder, stuffed the sausage casings and simmered them for about an hour (I'll post a recipe if anyone's interested). Of course, she also made the best cookies: various Danish-style butter cookies and Joulutortut (Finnish Star pastries). There was also her "Danish Dessert" (a Danish raspberry jello with graham cracker crust - not really very ethnic, but a favorite). So for the last dozen years or so, I've taken on the New Year's Day tradition.

Except this year, with the move and all, I didn't have time to find sausage casings (or even buy some Korv). But, in keeping with our Scandinavian roots, I substituted a couple of fish platters (fresh salmon and smoked bluefish -- living on the coast does have its advantages). Also didn't have time to find the Danish Dessert, but we did find a Finnish bakery in Jamaica Plain ("Sweet Finnish") where we bought some Finnish Stars.

I spent my "cooking time" making Pulla (a sweet Finnish bread), some Danishes, and the red cabbage. A very long and relaxing New Year's Day feast then ensued. Next year the potato sausage and "Danish Dessert" will return.

And it's now a new year, with all manner of possibilities as we settle into a new house in a new city. We look forward to finding our niches in the community here and to everyone who will come to Cambridge and share some time with us in the coming years (despite the smaller house, we'll make room for our guests).

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Eve

This post will take us through New Year's Eve.

This week I get all of my tough workouts in: the interval training on Tuesday and a tempo run on Friday. In between is an easy run. I've taken two days off this week as I'm feeling some pulling in my right adductor. I'm trying to make sure I rest it well enough between hard workouts (and, of course, I stretch it before and after running). Most spare time during the week is spent putting away the endless piles of boxes and hauling empties to the recycling center.

Daughter Anja's boyfriend has arrived to spend some time with her and the house is getting a little crowded. This is, of course, compounded by the fact that we have exactly one full bathroom.

Saturday, New Year's Eve, we all spend at "First Night" in Boston. No running this day, but there will be plenty of walking. We take the "T" to the New England Aquarium where we start our festivities. "First Night" is a great deal in Boston. For $15 you get a button to wear that gets you into all sorts of museums, exhibits, concerts and other performances. It's a real family attraction for New Year's Eve.

From the aquarium, we walk to the Boston Common and stroll among the ice sculptures. We next walk down Newbury Street. Many shops are open and we take our time as we make our way to the Hynes Convention Center. The Convention Center is the start of the Mardi Gras style parade and I briefly consider joining in the parade itself (but the cold weather quickly brings me to my senses - and there is no way anyone else is going to join me - maybe next year). We watch the parade and then head into the Prudential Center to find a snack for dinner. After some coffee and carbs compliments of au bon pain, we find our way back into the convention center for some entertainment.

We take in the "Women of Comedy" show (three very funny comedians) and then a bit of some New England folk music. Anita and I are kind of tired and, along with Kai, take the T back home. Anja and Ben stay out for the countdown at Copley Square and fireworks in the distance (not very visible for the snowy, overcast weather). Anita, Kai and I toast the New Year and head to bed.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Christmas Pics

The first room completed...

Anja serves up club sandwiches...

Kai takes his cocoa in his nutcracker mug...

Anita and I falling asleep...

Xena checks out Anita's new meditating cat on Christmas morning (though I think Xena already has the Buddha belly)...

Twenty Miles for Christmas

It is Christmas weekend. The shopping is (mostly) done. But after missing last week's long run (actually taking a much-needed break), and it being three weeks prior to the Arizona Marathon, I need one more long run.

And lo, the gods of marathon training weather did smile upon the runners of Boston, and did give them the most beautiful Christmas Eve morning for running. Temperature was in the 40's (similar to what AZ marathon starting weather will be in 3 weeks). Most of the snow and ice has melted along the Charles River trails. After a breakfast similar to what I will eat prior to my marathon, I run 20 exquisite miles from home, to the river, along the trails to the Science Museum on the Boston side, back to the Eliot bridge, and another pass back to and across the Harvard bridge then back home. Around 10 or 11 miles I'm feeling tired, but by 14 or so feel invigorated again. The last 4 or 5 miles I pick up the pace to 8:30 and faster. My legs really ache and it feels great.

After relaxing in the tub for a bit, and another breakfast, I have just a few groceries and one or two last minute gifts to pick up and am back home. It being still early in the afternoon, we all go for a walk around Fresh Pond. New to the area, we do not have a church home and almost at random choose a Christmas Eve service to attend. The remainder of Christmas Eve is spent eating club sandwiches by the fireplace, listening to Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales" and Alexi Murdoch's great version of "Silent Night", and opening gifts that have arrived from various relatives around the country. Then it's off to bed. Kind of tired.

Christmas morning starts early for Anita and I -- we haven't finished wrapping everything yet. But by about 9:00am the coffee and cranberry bread is served up and the Norman Rockwell Christmas morning ensues. (OK, Norman Rockwell probably didn't include Mimosas in that image.) The hand-knitted stockings are emptied and gifts are opened, one at a time so that everyone can enjoy. Yes, Elizabeth, I got new running gloves (yeah!), and a set of Yak-Traks (for running on those snow-covered trails). All is well. There is chocolate. I've only been in the house two weeks (Anita and Kai one week, and Anja three days) but we have our Christmas together. And that ritual, even amongst the stacked boxes and unfamiliar surroundings, continues to bond us together as a family. As it has done year after year. And Christmas dinner will be, as always, wonderful (and not because I make most of it).

I start the roast ribeye (au poivre!), and prepare the fresh green beans. Anja will, as usual, prepare the smashed potatoes. I then get to work on dessert (like we need it after all the chocolate). In acknowledgement of our new environment, dessert will be a cinnamon chocolate bread pudding (bread pudding being a traditional New England dessert). Dinner starts with a salad of fresh greens with a maple-lime dressing and a bottle of Shiraz (Rosemount Estate) accompanies the roast. Everything goes off without a hitch.

Life in Cambridge is good.


And every room looked the same.

Catching up after the big move

My previous post was made in the midst (the maelstrom) of moving. Tagged to elicit five interesting things about myself was just the temporary escape I needed (thanks, pnut!). But alas, living among the boxes with Christmas hurtling towards us would not allow any more time for blogging for a bit. So here is the first of several posts, getting y'all (oops, they don't tawk like that here in New England) caught up on the last few weeks with the move, holidays, and marathon preparations.

The Big Move.

I suppose the move could have been a lot worse. At least everything arrived - eventually - with very little damage. Plan was for the movers to unload Friday the 16th. I would then have Saturday the 17th to at least set up the beds and the basics of the kitchen before Anita and Kai arrived that evening (they were driving the second car out). Of course the weather was terrible - we had snow the night before - so I was out clearing the sidewalks early in the morning for the movers. And then ... nothing. No movers. They eventually called around 11:00. The driver had been held up by the ice storm in Pennsylvania (never mind that he should have already been in Mass. by that time - he left too late), can we unload on Saturday? Not really much choice here and I call up the city of Cambridge and get the moving van permit extended through Saturday.

Saturday morning arrives and again I'm waiting and waiting for the van. I call the driver and he tells me he's now on his way - he had some problem with his truck. Fine. Two hours later, a short moving van arrives. There is no way they have all of our stuff on that little truck. His truck is broken down on the side of the road in Peabody and they have to shuttle everything in this smaller truck. Great. That means everything is getting moved twice today. And he has a grand total of 2 guys helping him. This will be a long day.

The driver and his helpers are all very nice, friendly guys. All hard workers. I eventually realized that because of the glitches, they are working all day at least at time-and-a-half (maybe double-time) pay. So they are happy as clams. Even though it seems like all the heaviest boxes are getting moved up to my third floor office - they do not complain at all. We've rented the 2nd and 3rd floors of a two family house, so everything goes up at least one flight of stairs (or down a short flight into the basement for storage). And it is in the basement where the only serious problem of the day occurs.

I was showing them where (and how) to stack some of my boxes of tools and other things in the basement. As I was climbing the stairs (about 5 steps) out of the basement, I hit my head on the very low door frame. Hard. Very hard. I slipped and fell sideways and hit the side of my head on the door jamb to my left. I then fell backwards down about 4 steps, scraping the back of my left hand pretty badly. Dazed, I first felt my head to see if it was bleeding. No blood. But it hurts like hell, and my neck is sore. I brush myself off and walk around to the front of the house. As I'm talking to the movers, one of them asks me what happened to my hand. It's dripping blood now. I explain what happened, they ask if I need a doctor, I say I'll be fine, blah, blah, blah. Now I'm on the porch and I'm feeling a little disoriented. I sit down. For two hours. Mild concussion. But I continue to direct the movers from my chair on the porch.

The first load is completed around 5:30 p.m. and they leave to get the second (and final) load. They will return in a couple hours. Meanwhile I bandage my hand after rumaging through the bathroom boxes, and Anita and Kai arrive. They are dead tired from three days of driving. And all the bulky stuff, like the sofa, chairs and beds, are in the second load. There is no place for them to even sit and relax. Tempers are running high.

The movers arrive with the second load by 8:00 pm and it takes until almost 11:00 pm to finish unloading everything. I sign all the paperwork (and oddly, the driver forgets to collect any money -- I get a phone call several days later asking for my credit card info), and we all collapse onto the bed and sofa.

The rest of the week is spent unpacking the necessities and creating the best Christmas we can for ourselves. Anja arrives Thursday night and we have the living room and kitchen set up, as well as two serviceable bedrooms. Christmas provides incentive to get things done.

Through all of this, I have managed to maintain most of my marathon training. Moving weekend is exhausting and I take a break from my weekend long run. I am able to get in my interval training and tempo runs during the week at the fitness center at work, as well as a couple of easy runs. It was important to maintain regularity in at least some aspects of our lives. And it was especially important that we celebrate Christmas as a family as best we could.

- K