Friday, May 26, 2006

Old Road Asparagus

under an awning
a farmer jabbers on
- old road asparagus

OK, I was out running this week on the trails and ran past a roadside farm stand. There were mostly flowers for sale, but under an awning there were maybe two small boxes of asparagus. And this old, old farmer was just jabbering on and on to this couple who had stopped there. I couldn't make out much of what he was saying, but I caught the phrase "old road asparagus" as I ran by. I just liked it.

Monday was a recovery day after Sunday's 21 miles. I did the usual ab workout and stretching.

Tuesday was a good interval workout. I did 4 miles of warmup on the trails outside of work (feeling very fast), then went inside to finish the intervals on the treadmill: 5 X 600m at a 7:20/mile pace with 90 second recoveries. The pace gradually sped up to about 7:15/mile pace. The whole workout felt great.

Wednesday was a recovery run. I was supposed to do 5 miles, but I got a late start and had a meeting to get to so I cut a mile off. An easy 4 miles. After Tuesday's good workout, I felt stiff on Wednesday.

Thursday was another recovery day -- abs and stretching. And Friday was an easy 4 including 6 X 100m strideouts.

I'm getting ready for a 10K race tomorrow morning. Looks like there may be rain again, but it's the only 10K race in the area this weekend and I want to do a tune-up race for the marathon. So, rain or shine, I'm racing tomorrow.

Sarah asked me about my goals for the upcoming marathon. I'd like to defer my answer until after I run this 10K. I will report back this weekend with a race report, and my goals for the NODM marathon. That's all for now...


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Week in Review

(Last week, that is.)

Monday - rest day. I do some ab work, stretching and a little bit of cycling to get my legs moving. There is some pain in my right knee. In a place I have never had pain before. Doing a serious quad stretch irritates it. But - it doesn't feel like running would have any negative effect on it. Strange. Similar to a pain I had last Fall. I'm not worried about it yet.

Tuesday - 6 (plus) miles including 6 X 100m strideouts. It's raining still (though it did stop for a bit on Monday). I mostly run in the rain, though it has stopped by the time I finish. Figures.

Wednesday - the sun is shining! What a beautiful day. I'm scheduled to do an interval workout - which I usually do on the treadmill. No way I'm not going outside. I do a 4 mile warmup on the trails outside of work. It's glorious (if a little muddy from all the recent rain). Then I come inside and finish with my intervals. 5 X 1200m (at 7:20/mile pace) with 2 minute recovery, then a 1+ mile cooldown. 10 miles total.

Thursday - same as Monday - abs, stretch, a little cycling.

Friday - it's raining again (of course). I go out along the Charles River in the morning for 10 miles (which turned out to be more like 9 1/2). I knew it was supposed to rain so I wore my rain jacket. For 3 miles I was cursing myself for wearing it. No rain and I was burning up in it. I was telling myself it had better pour down rain before I get home to justify wearing this thing.

I wasn't disappointed.

About the time I passed the B.U. Bridge it was sprinking. By the time I was crossing the Harvard Bridge, it was a light rain. By the time I had passed the B.U. Bridge on my way back, it was pouring. Good thing.

Saturday - the rain is gone, weather is beautiful. I do an easy 4 miles around Fresh Pond.

Sunday - the last long run of this marathon cycle! The weather is perfect (close to what the marathon will be). I take my sport drink (Heed) and my electrolyte supplements with me and take them at roughly the same intervals as the marathon aid stations (I take an electrolyte supplement about every 30 minutes). I run down to the Charles River, east to the Science Museum and back along the other side until I reach the Harvard Bridge. At Mass. Ave. I head south, east for a block on Commonwealth, then south over the Mass Pike. From there I run through the Fenway gardens and over to the river trails. I go south to Jamaica Pond, around the pond, and head back. When I get back to the Charles River I continue west to the Eliot Bridge where I pick up the path back home.

Now this is the funny part. I look at my watch and think to myself, "Wow. I'm really slowing down on these long runs." And then I replot my route using both the Marathon Sports trail map and's google mapping. It turns out that my 20 mile runs are really almost 21 miles! Well that more than makes up for coming up a little short on Friday. And it means...

50 miles (and change) for the week. And for those of you who might care, that's six 50+ mile weeks since late March (highest week was 56 in late April). And now the taper begins! Less than three weeks to go to NODM.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Rainy Race Report

The title tells you a bit about this race and the weekend. And anyone who is familiar with the current weather situation in New England knows how much rain we are getting here. From Friday through Sunday evening I think we've had somewhere between 6 and 8 inches of rain. But the Cambridge Fresh Pond races are still run every Saturday morning at 10:00 am. They've been going for something like 30 years.

The Fresh Pond races are 2.5 miles (one loop around the pond) and 5 miles (two loops). They are free -- you just show up before the race and run them. So I did a one loop warm-up (2.5 miles) with a couple of strideouts. It was raining (duh) and I wore a rain jacket during my warmup. There were a number of good-sized puddles which I mostly tried to avoid during my warmup (but figured I would be splashing through in the race). About 10 minutes before the hour I stepped into the Cambridge Water Dept. lobby where a few runners were congregating (out of the rain). As I looked around at the other runners it occurred to me: only the serious die-hard runners are going to be running this race today. Great. There were 8 of us, and just before 10:00 we headed out in the rain to the starting line. I left my jacket in the lobby and decided to brave the conditions in t-shirt and shorts. Temperature was probably mid-40's and the rain was steady.

Just as we're lining up, the organizer informs us that there will be only one race today -- one loop -- the 2.5 mile. Dang it! I really wanted to run the 5. But it's not like I'm going to go find another race today. So immediate change in strategy. 2.5 miles, a little less than a 5K -- let's see how hard we can go. With so few of us, I have no idea whether there is anyone near my pace. I figure I'll go out pretty hard and see where I fall in the ranks. The organizer says, "Don't try to avoid the puddles -- because you can't! Ready, set, go!"

And we are off. Fast. I start in the lead group and within 200 meters we are stringing out into a line. The guy in the lead is just leaving everyone in the dust (well, mud). By a quarter mile I realize I am running faster than I will be able to hold. Behind the lead guy (who I can't even see anymore) are two more running fairly close together followed by number 4 a little ways behind them and pulling away from me. Another runner and I are running side by side for most of the first mile. We are numbers 5 and 6. We've left 7 and 8 way behind us. I should mention that the first 5 places get their names in the paper every week in the Sunday Boston Globe (sweet). But by the 1 mile mark, the guy next to me is slowly pulling ahead. There is no way I can go any faster and expect to hold on to the finish. I try to stay close behind him (you know, because I do have a kick, and maybe he'll tire a bit and slow down...). Through the second mile I keep him in view, but he slowly continues to put some distance between us. I hammer out the last half mile and finish in 18:24 (7:22 pace) for 6th place. The guy ahead of me must have also sped up over the last half because he finished a solid minute ahead of me. For reference, first place was something like 14:05 (5:38 pace -- through rain and puddles up to 6 inches deep). Audrey tells me I just need to improve one place to get my name in the paper. OK, yeah -- just run about 30 seconds faster per mile. Thanks, Audrey.

I'm happy with the time. I figure it translates to a 5K at just under 23 minutes -- even though I was supposed to race something a bit longer. Oh well. As soon as I catch my breath, I wring out my shirt, grab my rain jacket, and continue running easy. I put in another 5 miles for a total of 10 for the day.

It rains all weekend.

On Sunday, I get up early to do a 17 miler. It rains steady through the whole run. And like Saturday's race, I find I cannot avoid running through puddles -- some up to 6 inches deep. My feet are absolutely soaked. By 10 miles I am just whipped and for the first time in this entire marathon training cycle -- I bail out on a run and head home. Only 12 miles (of the 17 planned). Which means I also do not make 50 for the week, but rather 45. But I think I'm using decent judgement here. I am very tired. I could really use the break. And -- I still have one more hard week, with a 20-miler scheduled for next Sunday (and it will be a 50 mile week). The only other week where I missed any significant run was the very first week of this training cycle (where I missed my long run due to a blizzard). I'm not going to sweat it. The extra rest will do me more good.

Fell asleep Sunday night to the sound of steady rain on the roof.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Working Out Hamstring Tightness

Tuesday morning, it was back to speedwork. After a 3 mile warm-up I did 6 X 600m at 7:20/mile pace with 90 second recovery, and ended with a 2 mile cool-down, for a total of 8 miles. Then at lunchtime I drove into the city for some massage therapy.

Parking in the city (especially near Copley) always seems to be an issue, so I ended up driving to Coolidge Corner and taking the T to Copley. Seemed to work out pretty well. Parking was much easier to find around Coolidge (and I think it was probably cheaper). Anyway, the massage therapist was very good. She specialized in sports massage and got right down to business with my tight hamstrings. It was not always comfortable, but by the end I felt like we had really worked out a lot of the muscular issues going on with my hams. My next run would be interesting.

Wednesday evening I went for a medium effort 11 mile run. I stretched well prior to the run, and then ran from work out to Concord and beyond a bit and then back. There was some misting and a little light rain -- nice conditions for running, actually. As soon as I started running I could feel the difference in my hamstrings. I had gotten so used to the tightness I forgot what it felt like to run without the tight hamstrings. I did about 9:00/mile pace for the first 7 or 8 miles and then slowed a little for the last few miles. Afterwards I could feel the tightness again in my left hamstring and so did some gentle stretching.

Thursday was a rest day and I spent time stretching and doing some ab work.

Friday (today) was another easy day. 4 miles with 6 X 100m strideouts. I can still feel the tougher workouts from earlier in the week, but believe I will be rested sufficiently for a good race tomorrow morning! I will be racing the 5 mile race at Fresh Pond in Cambridge. It should be fun. It's mostly flat, just one small hill on the 2.5 mile loop (twice around for the 5-mile race).


Monday, May 08, 2006

A Bit Sore Now

I decided to get out early for my run on Friday. Too bad I didn't verify exactly what the workout was supposed to be. For some reason I had it in my head that I was to do 11 miles. And that's what I did (along the Charles River out to the Longfellow bridge and back along the other side). But when I went to log the run, I saw that the plan called for 12 miles. (Doh!) No problem, I'll just add another mile onto Sunday's 17 miler and make it an 18-miler. Anyway I averaged right around 9:00 per mile for the 11 miles.

Saturday was a 5 mile recovery run. Twice around Fresh Pond. I was a little stiff but it felt good. A little bit slower (9:12 per mile). The question that comes to my mind is, "Am I running too hard on my recovery days?" I need to be conscious of taking it very easy on those recovery runs (especially now as the marathon is just about a month away).

Sunday morning is a key workout in my plan (way to go -- adding another mile onto it). Plan calls for a 3-mile warmup followed by 14 miles at marathon pace (then I add another mile onto the end for a total of 18). Kind of like a long slower tempo run. This workout gives you experience running for a significant period of time at your marathon pace, but doesn't really wipe you out (like a real marathon).

I run the warm-up at about a 9:30 pace, then somewhat evenly run 14 miles at 8:53. Yeah, it's a little slower than I would have liked, but I was running into a head wind whenever I was running inbound along the Charles. On the plus side, I do have confidence I can at least hold that pace for an entire marathon (which will get me under 4 hours). Also, I think I've got my hydration/nutrition/electrolyte issues under control. I took in about 16oz of fluid, 200 calories, and electrolyte supplements every hour. I still have another 17-miler and a 20-miler to go before I start tapering so that will give me some more practice with those elements.

Total mileage for the week: 51

Now today (Monday) I am a bit sore. A little more speed in a long run really makes a difference -- takes a bit more out of you. Since my hamstrings are also feeling quite tight, I've scheduled some massage therapy for tomorrow. I don't do it very often (can't afford to), but I know when I need it.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Change in the Weather

The first part of the week was chilly with rain on and off. Monday was a day off after the race and all I did was an ab workout.

Tuesday, I went for an 8-mile run. I started out at what I thought was a 9:05 pace and sped up just slightly through the run. The second half was just under 9:00 pace (or so I thought). There was a very light rain for the last 2 miles and it actually felt very nice. It was just a moderately (and evenly) paced medium run. As for the times, I mapped out the route with in great detail and discovered (as I had suspected for some time) that my routes from work were actually a bit longer than I thought. So it was really an 8.14 mile run and my average was not 9:01, but 8:52. Nice to discover I'm actually running slightly faster than I thought.

Wednesday was interval fun. After a 3 mile warmup, I did 5 X 1000m at about 7:20 pace with 2 minute recovery. Followed it with a 2 mile cooldown. It was a good workout but I felt tired all afternoon (probably didn't eat enough either).

Anita's out of town for a while, so I left work a little early to get home to feed the cat and then pick up a sandwich before walking to Harvard Square to meet some friends at a lecture (livin' the single life again for a week). After the talk, and a little browsing around the square, I walked home (pretty boring stuff, huh?). The walking felt good (though not fast, and not far). Still cool and drizzling.

Today (Thursday) the weather is a totally different story. Two days ago we had a rainy high of 46. Today is sunny and 76. And of course, today is a day off from running (just my luck). Tomorrow morning should be a great 11-miler. And with this kind of weather, I think I'll start commuting by bike to work once a week (the savings on gas will be a bonus). Time to check over the racer.

Nothing much else going on.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

James Joyce Ramble 10K Race Report

(Dedham, MA)

Drove to the race early to pick up my timing chip and number.

Note #1 to self: keep extra safety pins in my bag (they only provided 2)

The start and finish of this race are at the Endicott Estate with its lovely expanse of lawn. The weather was spectacular -- sunny and in the 50's, though by the end of the race, I suspect it was in the 60's as I was starting to feel quite warm (as a product of the Arizona desert, I just can't bring myself to say that anything in the 60's is hot!). I spent about an hour laying in the warm sun and then stretching a bit. With an hour to go before the race, I did a 2-mile warmup -- very easy, finishing with a few strideouts. After some more stretching, I made my way to the start.

With 10 minutes to go, most of the 1900+ runners were in place and we were being serenaded with Irish tunes sung by the Dedham Choral Society. At 11:00 a.m. the race began with a gong!

As you may have guessed by now, this was not your typical road race. This was the James Joyce Ramble. Apart from a lone piper at the start of the race, there was no music along the course. Instead, there were actors (and several local high school students) dressed in period costumes reading selections from James Joyce. Although we were moving past the readers quite quickly, it was very interesting and some of the quotes were quite appropriate (though I can only recall one specifically).

Before we get into the mile by mile analysis, let me just lay the excuses out first.

First of all, the course was much more hilly than I expected. From the start line it didn't look too bad, but the third, fourth and fifth miles had some serious hills. After the third steep hill in mile 4, I was losing steam.

Second, though the race was preceded by two very easy days, on Thursday I had done my long run of 17 miles (and that was after two consecutive not-so-easy 8 mile days). I wasn't at my freshest.

OK, here's the blow by blow account (each mile has an associated Joyce work).

Mile 1 (Finnegan's Wake) -- 7:37

"I hear an army charging upon the land, And the thunder of horses plunging; foam about their knees"

The start is crowded. I feel boxed in, but I apparently make pretty good time. There are a couple of gentle hills which pose no problem. Sorry, but that was the only quote I remember now from the race.

Mile 2 (Ulysess) -- 7:53

The course winds its way through the Dedham town center. I'm still feeling good. The hills are not bad, gently rolling. Running comfortably under 8:00.

That's me behind the guy in the foreground...

Mile 3 (Portrait of an Artist) -- 8:15

I pick up a water cup and take a few sips on the run and right after that -- Whoa! Where did this hill come from? I'm still feeling good, but the hill slows me down quite a bit.

Mile 4 (Exiles) -- 8:13

OK, enough with these hills. Two more significant ones. I'm passing people who are walking up these hills. My legs are taking a beating with all the climbing and descending.

Mile 5 (Dubliners) -- 8:13

The last of the big hills is done, and so am I. I just don't have the energy to speed up again. Besides that, I'm feeling hot. I slow briefly at a water table to take in a few sips of water on the run.

Mile 6 (The Dead) -- 8:01

That story (actually from Dubliners) about sums it up. My legs feel dead. There are no significant hills to speak of and I can't run under 8:00.

Mile 6.2 -- 1:33 (7:45 pace)

I feel like I'm sprinting the last 2 tenths of a mile and it takes me 1:33??? That's a 7:45 pace! Where did my kick go?

Watch time -- 49:45
Gun time -- 49:57 (531 out of 1924 total, 137 out of 334 in my division)

My time was not what I was hoping for, but I didn't realize the course had such hills. Next time I'll know better and adjust my expectations accordingly. I did about a 1 mile cool-down before heading over to the post-race fun.

Why would I return to this hilly course next year? (Pay attention, turnip.)

How about...

The post-race festivities were quite good. The Harpoon Beer people were giving it away all afternoon (Unfiltered Wheat, India Pale Ale and Irish Red Ale -- all quite refreshing).

Note #2 to self: when planning a second run in the evening after a race, don't sample all the beers.

Yes, after slugging around the house for a few hours I actually got up and went out for an easy 4-mile recovery run. This accomplished two things. It cleared my head, and it loosened up my left hamstring which had gotten quite tight. It also resulted in this haiku...

sunlight reflecting
dusk at the pond
Spring leaves translucent

Ended the week with 50 miles.


Monday, May 01, 2006

The Week in Review

...excluding Sunday's race (next post).

After last week's 55 miles, capped off with a 20-miler on Sunday, Monday was a well-deserved day off. That was the end of my "Endurance/Lactate Threshold" mesocycle. The next four weeks is the "Race Preparation" mesocycle. This cycle consists of more speed training (intervals every week) as well as some racing!

Tuesday: After a 3 mile warmup, I did 6 X 600m at just under 5K pace with 90 second recovery, followed by a little less than 2 miles for a cooldown. Even though I did it on the treadmill (to carefully control speeds), it was a good 8 mile workout.

Wednesday: A medium 8 mile run. I ran out just beyond the Concord town center and back at a very even pace -- 8:54 per mile all the way. Oh, and I received my order from E-caps for my sports drink (Heed) and tried it out on this run. I think it's going to work out very well. It doesn't taste very sweet at all (since it's composed of all complex carbohydrates); I think it will be easy on my stomach for long distances.

Thursday: This is where things get interesting. I had to shuffle my workouts around this week because the race was on Sunday (rather than Saturday). Of course I didn't want to run long on Saturday and then race the next day. So I got up early on Thursday to do my long run -- 17 miles. This was great practice for taking in fluids. I drank 16 oz of Heed every hour (about every 2 miles to simulate aid stations on the marathon course). I also took an endurolyte every hour (electrolyte supplement). Finally, I tried a Hammer Gel in the last 1/2 hour with water. Everything was clicking. I started at about 9:30 per mile and ended at close to 9:00 per mile (averaged 9:15 per mile, speeding up slightly over the run). This was one of the better 17 milers I've done.

Friday/Saturday: After 33 miles in 3 days (all good workouts -- no easy runs), it was nice to take a rest day on Friday. On Saturday I did a 4 mile recovery run with 6 X 100m strideouts. I felt very good. Ready to race on Sunday.

Next up: Race Report

[Oh, and in a follow-up to my last post... Mom would be my next biggest supporter. She's been to two of my marathons (so far), and will be at my next one as well. Thanks mom!]