Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Training Tip #1

... when doing speed work, don't forget which lap your on. The consequences can be sort of... interesting.

Tuesday is speedwork day, where I and many of my running friends run around in circles as a grand metaphor of life. Faster and faster without getting anywhere, but improving by leaps and bounds- at least, that's how I try to rationalize it when it feels like people have been beating me with sticks.

Oh, and the sun was pretty intense today, too. :)

So anyway, the plan was to do two 1200 meter runs with 400 rest intervals, and then four 800 meter runs with a 200 meter rest interval. tough stuff.

Except I can't seem to count. My first 1200 was fine- 3 laps around and a few minutes rest to have my heart rate come down to something sane. The second... for some reason I thought my second lap was my first, and so I went on to do four. If I had been smart enough to check my GPS, I would've known better. If my brain hadn't been baked out of my head, I might've been able to count to three properly.

But as it was, I set a new mile PR of 6:41, down from 6:52 set at the Huntington Woods race. Oops. :)

So, let this be a lesson to you; Sometimes being absent minded can have some rather pleasant consequences!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Racing. It's a learning process.

So... the grand strategy I laid out a few days ago went bye-bye in the first 30 seconds of Heart of the Hills. Oops. Yes, I did the complete newbie mistake of going out too fast. Yes, I paid for it a little. And though I'm not a race newbie, I am really new to the ins and outs of racing races, rather than running them.

If that makes sense.

Anyway, let's talk about goals. I usually have three: A manageable one if I have a mediocre race; a achievable with a good effort and circumstance, and "pie-in-the-sky" if things go really really well through no fault of my own. My Huntington Woods 3M experience was of the latter variety. If you had asked me two minutes before the race if I thought I could average a 7:07 pace, when my mile PR was 7:30, I would have probably laughed and said "Not a chance." So it can happen. Hopefully more than once. :)

My goals for this race were simple- Primary goal of 10K PR at sub 53. Secondary goal of sub 50. And "OMG" goal of sub 46. I wanted negative splits. I wanted no shin splints. Oh, and to not get passed by a girl. (just kidding!)

Of the three time goals, I beat two, and was 58 seconds off for the third, coming in at a very happy 46:57, or a 7:34 pace. Saying I'm pleased is a nice understatement, and I'll leave it at that for now.

As for the details of the race:
My pacing (after the first mile) was good. Even though the course was quite hilly, (and to be fair to me, the first mile is the flattest of the six) I maintained pretty even splits. How even? Well... you be the judge... 7:09, 7:39, 7:34, 7:35, 7:31, 7:26 and my last .2 was at a 6:13 pace or so. I confess I sped up when I could hear the announcer calling out names and the crowd cheering.

Take off the first mile, and I did have negative splits. I didn't feel even a twinge of shin splints. And I remember being passed by two women; one I lost sight of around mile three, the other I passed about a mile and change from the end. I think it does my ego good to both catch up and to be blown away. Weird, eh?

I placed fifth in my age group, but there was less than a minute and a half between me and number two, while there was six minutes between number two and number one. If I was in the 25-29 AG I would have been first place by over a minute; if I were in the 35-39 I'd have been 10th.

So I'd better get faster before I get older. :)

And yes, I barely remember a thing about the scenery. That's one of the sad casualties of racing rather than running races- everything sort of passes as a blur.

Heart of the Hills was a splendid race, and for a race I'd been looking forward to for quite some time, it lived up to my expectations!

Friday, July 27, 2007

(pre) Raceday Strategies 2

So, I've got a 10K I'd really like to do well in tomorrow.

Is it counter intuitive that I'm drinking Riesling and eating cheese poofs tonight? One of my best training runs was done hung over... and I'm a big believer in never do on race day what you haven't done in training!

"Ah ha" moments: Swimming

It's happened a few times with running, a few times in school, and strangely enough, this last Monday with swimming.

I'm not a natural in the water; sure, during summers when I was a kid I loved to spend time splashing around. But when I was twelve I discovered books, and that was that. It's been a good twenty years since I've been in the water with any sort of regularity, and I've never done it to actually get somewhere.

Anyway, with the triathlon training, I've spent time treading water trying to figure out how to use my arms. How to keep my legs from cramping. when to spot. And most importantly- when to breathe.

It's important, breathing. With running it's easy: just time taking a breath for every second, or fourth, or sixth left foot fall, and after a while it becomes relatively natural. Sometimes I'll be gasping; other times I'll be focusing on using my abs rather than my chest to get air into my lungs. I'll never really worry about drowning while running unless I have a particularly poorly timed drink.

With swimming, as I'm sure the observant reader can tell, it's a little different.

When my muscles got a little bit better at moving in such harmony to let me breathe, it let me focus on getting more air into my lungs, rather than blowing out a half-mouthful of water and then trying to get some air. I was able to relax a lot more, which goes a long way toward energy conservation. And my speed improved because I spent a lot less time treading water or backstroke gasping for breath.

Still, it's just the first baby step to actually feeling comfortable in the water. But it does feel kind of nice to have some improvement, ya'know?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


So, I should probably relate how training is going for my fall marathon(s). On the surface- it's going well! No injuries, no burn-out- I did a 15.5 mile run yesterday and felt great! I felt a bit fatigued afterward, but it is just as likely that the fact that I didn't have breakfast or lunch (I had to rush to go to work) is as probable a reason for the cause.

I also did an 8 mile recovery run this morning, and it went fine. 10:25 pace around a hilly course, and my heart rate average was 135. Essentially, I followed the path of the Heart of the Hills race, which I'm going to try to run my best this Saturday.

I have a race strategy. I'd really like to run the first third of the race in the eight to 8:15 min/mile pace, the second third in the high sevens, and the last third as fast as I can. Hopefully the mid to low sevens, but that's just a hope. Maintaining sub-eight really is what I'm after; hopefully enough to have my average pace below eight min/mile.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Beyond that, my weekly milage has been pretty good. I did 51 last week, while only doing 41 this week. I skipped my mid-week long run, probably because I came home from work a bit too fatigued to convince myself to get out the door. I did go biking a couple of times, so that was nice. I even went swimming for about 10 minutes. *sigh* Baby steps.... a lot like when I first started running.

On the flip side, my average pace is pretty slow. Running with my 501 training class keeps me in the 10:30-11:30 pace. I do make it up during my speedwork. But I really need to add in my Thursday tempo runs. I guess that'll be my goal for next week... this week, I'll take it somewhat easy for the race saturday. I hope.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Speed intervals didn't quite go as planned.

First, instead of doing mile repeats, it was a reverse ladder. We started off with 1200 meters, and then decreased by 200 until we did a 200 sprint.

So much for concentrating on breath. I mean, I had to, but I couldn't compare apples to apples or anything. Mostly I just tried to finish each lap at a good pace, and most of the time I averaged 90 seconds per lap, or a 6 min/mile pace. It'd be more impressive if I could say I did it for longer than 4:30, but I didn't.

Whether I did a 400 or a 1200, I was only a second or two off a 6 min pace.

Except for the 200 sprint. I don't know if it was because it was the last lap and I stopped pacing myself, or if I broke through a mental block, or what, but I did it in 30 seconds, or a 4:00 min/mile pace.

Which, I have to say, isn't half bad. :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Triathlon Training

Running is my passion; it has a lot to do with how I spend my free time, my work, and my intellectual stimulus. It's fun, it's an escape, and it keeps my body healthy when it isn't breaking it down.

That being said, mondays are a cross training day for me, and a group of my friends decided to make it into a triathlon training day. Swimming- I'm taking a while to get into the habit. It's tough- but so too was running when I started. It'll take work.

Biking however- today, biking was fun. In a crazy, OMGWTF Imgonnadie! sort of way. Picture being on a road bike riding seriously for the first time evar. Going down hill. In the rain. 30 miles per hour.

I was breaking the Kensington metropark speed limit on a bike. The ground contact on a good road bike is about the size of two postage stamps. And the rain was pelting me like little pebbles.

It's the first time I ever thought that I might possibly enjoy biking more than running! That darned element of danger...

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about breathing.

It's kind of weird, considering how long I've been doing it, but there are certain muscles I can choose to use, a certain depth, regularity, and timing which all can play a big role in how and how well I run.

The hardest thing, I think, is focus and concentration. If I'm able practice for 30 seconds before I get distracted by something I'm usually pretty surprised. And I really don't know if actively expanding my abs is really helping my speed. But I do know I go from wheezing to heavy breathing when I do it. Of course, it could also be explained by a subsequent drop in my pace.

I'm supposed to be running 1600 intervals on Tuesday, I think. It would be a great place to try to figure it out, if I could compare two intervals breathing "normally" and two focused on ab breathing. If I could keep myself focused on ab breathing for more than half a minute. And if there aren't confounding factors. :P

Saturday, July 14, 2007


So, I guess I didn't know that I had 1000 miles as a goal for the year; it just hit me how happy I was when I achieved it that I achieved it.

But I have been thinking of other goals, more or less seriously-
Run 2000 miles in a year.
Run a sub-50 minute 10K
Run a half marathon sub-1:45
Run a sub-4 marathon.
Run an ultra, either a 50K or 50 mile.

Those are short term goals which I think I could do in the next six months to a year. I may even be able to do now, if I have a good day- though at a risk of injury. I haven't logged long enough long runs lately to feel comfortable saying a sub-4 marathon is in my grasp.

"I'd like to eventually" type goals:
Qualify for Boston
Run the distance of the circumference of the earth, that is: 24,900 miles (roughly)

Lot of factors play in, but that's where I am right now. :)

Milestone brag!

According to my records, today I passed 1000 miles for 2007! If I don't get injured or sick for more than a week or so, I may be able to reach 2000 this year!

Yay me! :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Raceday Strategies 1

I'm going to have to come up with a pic in the style of indexed, but till then I share a tidbit to warm you-

If you're on your way to an early race, and you really need to wake up, skip drinking coffee. Just spill it on your lap; it's far more effective.

The screaming can be a bit disconserting for the other drivers, tho...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hungry Duck half

Yum! Sounds tasty, eh?

Anyway, after a pretty tough five days of training, I knew I wasn't going to race this one. If I broke it down by time, I did two hard hours on Friday, hour and half easy on Saturday, hour and a half hard Sunday, three hours moderate on Monday, and about a half hour of hard intervals (speedwork) on Tuesday. By miles it's 38 running, 30 biking, and .25 swimming.

Not the best way to prepare for a half marathon, but if I wanted a supported long run with friends on my day off, it's a pretty good way to go. I maintained form, listened to my body, and relaxed through much of the race. I actually enjoyed scenery. I also had good conversation with W~, with whom I ran the race.

It was a inaugural, so everyone got a course PR. :) The course itself was well marshaled, except for a snafu where a anther W friend of mine ran down the wrong street for about a minute and a half. The volunteers jumped into a car to chase him down, but the damage was done: he dropped from sixth to ninth overall.

It was also quite hilly, but lots of trees and meadows and stuff as nice scenery. Though I gotta say I still prefer my trails. Trails rock!

Many of my friends did quite well- winning or placing in age groups, though the course was such that I don't believe anyone got a new half marathon PR. I finished dead last in my age group, but even if I ran my half PR, I still would have been three minutes behind second to last.

Not that I feel defensive, 'natch. :P Anyway, pics I took are here:
Hungry Duck run Pics!