Monday, November 27, 2006

Back From Holiday Break

We've had company staying with us for the past 5 days so I haven't had much opportunity to write anything. But I have been keeping up with (almost) everything else. Let's start with the daily challenge.

Daily Challenge Status (300 ab reps per day for 100 days):
Day 13: 3900 down -- 26,100 to go
Thanksgiving was a challenging day. We got a late start, Anita and I were cooking all day, and I didn't get around to doing them until after dinner (before pie). Anja joined in and the two of us cranked out 300 ab reps while the rest of the family and friends harrassed us. All in good fun.

Last Tuesday was my second tempo run. I ended up cutting the total length of the run by 1 mile (8 actual versus 9 planned), but still did the "Lactate Threshold" pace for 4 miles (per plan). I took about 10 seconds off my pace from my last one. The four miles were covered at an 8:04 pace.

Wednesday was an easy 5 miles and then I missed my first run of this cycle on Thanksgiving Day. Got up too late, had too much to do, too much to eat, it was cold and windy and rainy, blah, blah, blah. I let it go.

We did have a great Thanksgiving feast. Anita and I did the turkey (she always does the stuffing). Our out of town friends made appetizers and vegetable dishes. Anja has perfected the smashed potatoes. Kai was coerced into making an orange-cranberry sauce. Anja's boyfriend, Ben, made two pumpkin pies. I also made a gingered-pear pie. Had a Thanksgiving dinner that just couldn't be beat.

Friday was a very nice 10 mile run along the Charles River, and then Saturday was another easy 5 miler.

Sunday was my first serious long run: from home (near Fresh Pond) to the Charles River (Elliot Bridge), to the Harvard Bridge (Mass. Ave.), out past the Fens to the Riverway trails, out to (and around) Jamaica Pond, back on the Riverway trails, past the Fens to the Harvard Bridge, along the river back to Elliot Bridge and back home. 18 miles. 9:10 pace. And it did NOT suck.

Today (Monday) was a recovery day and I did just a bit of cross-training (rowing, abs/weights/cycling). My legs are still a little stiff, but they feel pretty good.

This is a recovery week, so my mileage is cut back a bit. I do plan to do another marathon goal pace run on Sunday (14 miles).


Monday, November 20, 2006

Catching Up

It's been a few days since I posted, so here's the update...

Daily Challenge
Daily Challenge Status (300 ab reps per day for 100 days):
Day 6: 1800 down -- 28,200 to go
Days 1 and 2 were pretty easy. Started getting a little tougher on day 3. Today (day 6) was a bit easier. [I'm not going to post every day about this -- just enough to let everyone know how it's coming along.]

Thursday (11/16)

Nice 10-miler on mostly muddy trails again. Weather continued to be unseasonably warm. Thursday evening it was 72 degrees. Just weird.

Friday (11/17)

Did some cross training and then an easy 4 miler on very muddy trails.

Saturday (11/18)

Easy 5 miler -- twice around Fresh Pond. It was a bit colder Saturday morning and the rain seems to be gone now.

I built and (mostly) installed an island in our kitchen. By the time I went to bed, I was really tired. I knew then that Sunday morning's long run was not going to be much fun.

Sunday (11/19)

It wasn't fun. Down to the Charles River, over to the Science Museum, all the way back to Watertown (Beacon St. Bridge) and home. 16 miles. I felt slow and sluggish the whole way. Much slower than anything in the last few weeks (about 9:24 pace). I did pick up the pace in the last few miles.

Monday (today)

Cross training at lunch time. Rowing, abs, weights, cycling. I cut it a bit short because I had plenty of work to do and I also wanted to get some decent recovery time after yesterdays cruddy run. And...

We are officially EX-homeowners! Sellers closed this afternoon. No more mortgage payments for an empty house. Yeah!

Tempo run tomorrow. Hoping to pick up the pace a bit from the last one. We'll see.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wash My Eyes

Wash my eyes, that I may see,
Yellow return to the willow tree.
Open my ears, that I may hear,
The river running swift and clear.

And please - wash my eyes.
And please - open my ears.

Wash this world, it is one place,
It wears such a mad and a fearful face.
Let the cruel raging cease.
Let these children sleep in peace.

And please - wash this world.
And please - let these children sleep in peace.

- Greg Brown

This song was going through my head for my entire run today (an easy 5 miler on still-muddy trails).

Daily Challenge Status (300 ab reps per day for 100 days):
Day 1: 300 down -- 29,700 to go


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nothing or Double

cool wet fields of hay
hidden birds emerge
- whisper across the sky

Lia asked if I composed my haikus during my runs. The answer is yes, and no. Although they are all inspired by my runs, only occasionally will a complete haiku will come to me during a run. Usually I experience some connection with something I encounter on my run. A particular place, time, feeling. Something about it will resonate with me. As well, a few words will be suggested. A phrase or two. Then usually later in the day I'll recollect the image and the words and then construct a haiku that (hopefully) maybe suggests something even deeper. Only a very few times have I been able to piece together an entire haiku during a run. I think it's probably better to just "experience" it on the run, and then later, with some additional introspection, flush it out, polish it.

Today was a nice run on mostly muddy trails. My shoes are drying next to my desk right now. I also included 10 X 100m strideouts in the last couple miles. Total of 8 miles.

OK, so beansprout has taken on the challenge of running 100 10K's in 100 days. She is already more than halfway through. Very impressive - that's twice as many days as Dean Whats-his-name. But wait! Now Olga is taking on a daily challenge. For 50 days (among other things) she is doing 300 ab reps per day. Like I said in the comment I left there, I was feeling pretty good about moving up to 150 ab reps 3 days per week.

So... since it seems I have just over 100 days until my next marathon, I will take on the following challenge:

[Doubling Olga's challenge]
300 ab reps per day for 100 days

This is gonna hurt for a few days...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Olympic Swag!

I promised Tammy I'd post this (eventually) -- so here it is.

Tammy had a contest on her blog to guess where she was going to spend a week. Knowing Tammy's keen interest in cycling, and a desire to do an internship there, I figured it was probably the US Olympic training center in Colo. Springs.

It was. And Tammy sent me this cool swag for guessing correctly.

Sorry the image isn't clearer -- but you should be able to read the tag: USA Torino 2006. I feel like jumping onto a bobsled when I wear it!

A Really Good Run

After Thursday's 10 miler, I was ready for a couple of easy days. On Friday I did the first half of my normal cross training (rowing, abs, weights, cycling), and then went out for a very easy 4 mile run on the trails. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the remainder of the good weather for the season. (Forecast called for rain and dropping temperatures starting on Sunday.)

Saturday, I did another easy run. Two laps around Fresh Pond for a total of 5 miles. The weather was holding. It was a bit cooler, but still quite nice. And then the day just kept getting nicer and nicer. I figured Sunday morning would still hold some pretty good running weather.

When I got up Sunday morning to do my 12 mile goal pace run, it was just unbelievably warm. And I thought I had already done my last run for the year in a T-shirt! It felt like it was well into the 60's at 7:30 in the morning. It was overcast and almost muggy. By 6 miles I was absolutely drenched in sweat.

The plan was to practice running marathon pace, complete with a 6-mile cutdown. My current estimated marathon pace is 8:30 per mile (enough for a solid PR, but not enough for a BQ -- we'll see how the training goes). So the idea is to run the first two miles at 9:00, the next two at 8:50, and the next two at 8:40. That's a gradual cut-down over the first 6 miles to the goal pace of 8:30. The remainder of the run (6 miles in this case) is done at goal pace -- 8:30. It adds 2 minutes to your marathon time to start the first six miles like this, but it also forces the runner to start conservatively -- saving valuable energy for the later stages of the race. This is important for me to nail down because more than once I've gone out too fast (and there is evidence that going out too fast also contributes to cramping in the late stages of a marathon). So here's how it panned out...

Miles 1 & 2 -- 18:16 (16 seconds behind, 9:08 pace versus goal of 9:00). (just a bit slow)
Miles 3 & 4 -- 17:46 (6 seconds behind, 8:53 pace versus goal of 8:50). (much closer)
Miles 5 & 6 -- 17:18 (2 seconds ahead, 8:39 pace versus goal of 8:40). (almost spot on!)
Miles 7 - 12 -- 50:31 (29 seconds ahead, 8:25 pace versus goal of 8:30). (oh, yeah.)
Overall -- 1:43:51 (9 seconds under goal).

This run felt GREAT. I felt like I could have continued the goal pace for several more miles. It's still very early in the training cycle (15 weeks until the marathon) and I feel confident I will at least be able to run my next marathon at this pace (a bit faster if I can lose a few more pounds).

And that gave me 44 miles for the week (similar mileage to last week). This next week bumps it up a bit more with a 16 miler on Sunday to 48 miles. I'll be ready for my first serious long run.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not That Bad, Really

OK, I said that last Sunday's run was a bit tough. I should clarify that. It was tough in a good way. As in, pushing through some soreness and tiredness and still finishing at a good pace and actually feeling good about the run.

OK, so on Monday, my day off from running, I did some cross training. I was kind of tired, so I cut the circuit training part a little short (half as many reps). I still did about 20 minutes of rowing.

Then on Tuesday, I had my first tempo run of this cycle. I started out with a 2-mile warm-up at an easy pace. Then I picked it up to what should be lactate threshold pace (somewhere between my 10K and 15K race pace), and held it for 4 miles. I finished with another easy 2 miles. I averaged 8:15 for the tempo part of the run. A little slower than I would have liked, but I'm OK with it. It was my first real up-tempo run in quite a while. Tuesday night, of course, I stayed up WAY too late watching the election returns.

Yeah, I was quite pleased. [No gloating.]

Unfortunately, I just didn't get nearly enough sleep that night. On Wednesday, my easy 5-mile recovery run was a real butt-dragger. I'm glad I no longer time those runs. It would have been depressing.

Today, however, after a really good night's sleep, I ran 10 miles at lunchtime. I mapped out ahead of time a new section of trails near Concord and measured it out with's google earth interface. The weather today was simply amazing. Almost too warm. Upper 60's! This is crazy for November in Massachusetts. Averaged 8:36 per mile for the 10 miles. Felt very, very good.

Easy runs for the next two days, then my first "goal pace" run on Sunday. That will be where I practice going out 30 seconds SLOWER than goal pace, and gradually increase to goal pace in the first 6 miles (then hold that for the duration of the run). This one will be 12 miles total. Last week I did 43 miles, and this week should be 44, so no big increase this week.

And, on a MOST exciting note... It looks like we have FINALLY sold our house back in Kansas! We close before Thanksgiving.

[...and there was much rejoicing]

Monday, November 06, 2006

Not Easy (and another haiku)

bare limb juts over
cold still water - suspended
between blue skies

Saturday morning was a little chilly. I did an easy 5 miler - a couple times around Fresh Pond. A long bare branch suspended over the water in Fresh Pond inspired the haiku. Many dogs (and their respective owners) were out enjoying the brisk air. Per my oath -- no watch, no time, just easy running.

Sunday morning was my first long run of this cycle.

I should explain that I consider 7 to 9 miles to be a medium length run, 10 - 13 miles to be medium/long, and 14 or more miles to be long. So this was my first long run of this training cycle. Just because of how the mileages line up around the Charles River, I ended up doing two different loops (Elliot Bridge to Harvard Bridge - 7.2 miles, and Weeks Bridge to Harvard Bridge - 5.2 miles), plus the round-trip to the river (1.8 miles), for a total of 14.2 miles.

I can't say it wasn't painful.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body" became my mantra for the last 3 miles. Oh, if I had slacked off on the pace towards the end it might not have been as tough. But I made sure I did not let up one bit. I ran consistently and strong right to the end. I did the second half slightly faster than the first half (negative splits), and finished strong. Time was 2:05:27 -- 8:50 pace.

I ended up with 43 miles for the week (1 more than planned). That was because on Friday when I was doing my cross-training, when I got to the end where I was to do 10 minutes of rowing to finish up, someone jumped on the rowing machine. I didn't want to wait around, so I did 1 mile on the treadmill instead -- thus the extra mile.

This week will be 44 miles, including a tempo run tomorrow. Today I'm just a bit stiff from yesterday's long run so the cross-training will feel good.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Most Excellent Run (and a haiku)

blue gray lichen
edges the smooth wet stone
- reflecting cloudy skies

After two incredible unseasonably warm days (almost 70 degrees!), a cold front moved through this morning. It was chilly and rainy most of the morning. Luckily the rain had moved on by the time I went out for my run. I did wear gloves for the first time this season (and a long sleeve shirt, shorts, and hat). Although my hands were a little warm and sweaty by the end, I was dressed about right.

And it was a great 10 mile run. Through muddy trails. Colonial houses lining quaint streets in Concord. More muddy trails behind (North of) the Sleep Hollow cemetary. Returning the back way by the airport (Hanscom) and pounding up the last big hill to the parking lot.

8:28 pace all the way.

Feeling really good.

And to recap the last week...

Last week ended with a total of 38 miles, including a 10 miler last Thursday and 13 on Sunday. Tuesday of this week was 8 miles (a lot of trails) with 10 X 100m strideouts (during which I over-stressed my right quads -- they're better now). Yesterday was an easy-easy 5 miles.

This week will be a total of 42 miles with 14 on Sunday.

Congrats to everyone who ran marathons (Detroit and Marine Corps) last week!

C-Ya [some pics coming soon...]