Friday, April 23, 2010


There are lots of reasons I like to run; Wednesday was one of them.

No, not Mr. Wednesday from American Gods, though if he showed up I'd be sure to run the other way; but it was a relatively cold, blustery day during the group run.

Sun was on it's way to the horizon.  Clouds were dumping rain.  We got the double rainbow thing, and I was struck at how clear the purples and blues were standing out.  Can purples and blues be vibrant, especially against a storm cloudy gray sky?  With the Sun making everything glow gold, I guess they can.

I love running in the rain.

I love getting the feeling of... hunger... to run fast.  When it's all i can do to reign in those impulses.  Running smooth, running easy, but there's also that feeling of "let's see what happens" if I were to cut loose.  It was a struggle to repress that urge.

Hopefully it'll hit again on Sunday.  I still don't feel recovered from the marathon, but there are always other factors in play.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random and mostly disjoined thoughts on my training

Some reflections on my training:

Number of week: 18
Number of Shots: 19
Miles run: 1020.
Hours of running: 160
Average Pace: 9:25

Deepest snow experienced: 8" (non-drift)
Coldest Temps: ~-10° with wind chill.  Still wasn't wearing a jacket. (took it off, truth to tell)

Favorite discovery: you don't fall backward if you're doing the Good Form Running thing.
Second favorite discovery: you can do threshold intervals during a long run.  It's good for you!
One thing I wish I had done more: hard intervals
Another thing I wish I had done more: marathon pace runs
A final thing I wish I had done more: progression runs.

Flaky promise made to self: no restaurant hamburgers.
Favorite moment during training: running the superbowl 5K, going to a sub-7 pace and feeling great!
Biggest fear: the ice-pick in my shin feeling again.
Biggest inconvience: GI issues during my runs (no pun intended).
Solution: Tums, and the occasional use of dried leaves.

Favorite new gear purchase: Garmin 310!
Second favorite gear purchase: Nathan HPL 020
Third favorite gear purchase: Microspikes
Odd feeling: My gear is turning me into a clone of Jeff and Al of RUT

Biggest thing I learned on raceday:  house of cards falls from the base.  A minor, conscious effort to tilt my pelvis posteriorly kept me from slumping forward in my spine, decreasing the thorcic kyphosis which leads to a terrible cervical lordosis.  

Happened to me all the time at the end of a marathon.  My posture would be the same as if you looked up at the ceiling, then bent at the waist to keep the same neck angle but were trying to run forward.  Horrible waste of energy.

Book that's inspired me to think about running crazy miles: Once a Runner
Book that's inspired me to think about running crazy miles in five fingers: Born to Run
Best analogy to how I felt during training: wad of cookie dough
How I wished I felt: carved out of wood

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three shots into the wind

It was supposed to work out perfectly.  18 shots in a fifth.  18 weeks.  The weekend of the marathon, to celebrate the end of the training cycle, I'd drink that final shot with great relish.

Of course, I didn't think that my light hand with the alcohol would bite me in the end.  And deciding against the weekly shot last time may have been a mistake.

Because to finish off the bottle, I poured and drank three shots, which is significantly more than I've drunk since the running fit Christmas party.

I think the Jack Daniel's training program was a success, although I don't know that I would do it again.  I'll probably leave out the whiskey next time.  But I'm truly happy that I was able to do it- not many have, would be my guess.  I really should have taken a picture... :P

Martian Marathon

First the numbers:

Time: 3:27:46.4
Pace: 7:56/mile
Place(s):  AG 12/31, Gender 68/281, OA 71/415

I really couldn't have asked for a better race day.  The temps were perfect for me: in the high 30s to start, in the 40s for the bulk of the race, and probably low 50s at the end.  I don't believe that I really started sweating until mile 10, which is unusual for me.

Here an obligatory map of the course:

The first 10K flew away in a blur.  I do remember thinking that I had better slow down, because my first goal was to run the final 10K faster than the first.  It was an attempt to keep me honest about not going out too quickly, and I think it might have helped a bit.

Not as much as I would have liked, but that only would have happened if it had come true.  I hit the 10K at about 48:40, or a 7:51 pace.

In any case, I remember having random thoughts flow through my head, thinking that I had better note things down if I wanted to write them up as a blog post, and then thinking that the only memory I'll have for the race is that I wanted to write a blog on it.  Which is a tad ironic, but it's one of the dangers when you promise race reports and have no idea what to say.

I do remember cheering on and being cheered on by friends, running for a while with H, whom I hadn't seen in a while, and thinking that the way will be more clear when the half marathoners start back to the finish.  They did, and it was, and I didn't feel any sort of desire to turn around with them.

Time passed, and I hit the turn around at 1:43:16, or a 7:53 pace.

Then the hills started.  I really don't remember running down them, but I sure do remember every time I looked forward I thought "great.  another hill. did we really run down all these?"  More miles passed, and I finally hit mile 20.

There is a mystique about mile 20 of the marathon; most of us don't run more than that for a training run.  And I've often said that the halfway point of the marathon is mile 20, because that's where you really have to start spending psychological energy to keep the legs moving and form from going to hell.

And it was my plan to go from marathon effort at mile twenty slowly up to all out effort at mile 26.  And I think I did a fairly good job, although my pace doesn't reflect that at all, although my heart rate does.  Check it out:

The red/purple represents my heart rate during the race; the blue my pace.  Aside from a sharp spike at mile 11- something I don't remember and didn't feel- my pace didn't fall off (go above 8 min/mile) until about mile 21, where there's a fairly increase in my heart rate.  Pretty much for the final five miles of the race, my heart rate hung out in the 190s, getting up to 204 at the end as I was sprinting for the finish line.

I would have liked to have run harder, but I don't think my body would have been too happy with me.  Perhaps next time I'll see if some endurolytes or S-Caps or something will be helpful.  Could be I was in atrial tachycardia- runs in the family- but it's one of those things I'd need to be running with at least a two lead to find out.  Which I do, but sadly it's not set up to take as specific a reading as would be necessary to get a proper diagnosis.

It was also interesting that I felt like some of my muscles just decided to go on holiday.  I swear I could feel parts of them shut down and say "Okay, we give up."  They threw up their (figurative) hands and gave up.  It felt like carrying extra baggage.  

The end of the race was interesting- for the final couple of miles I was trying to chase down a runner whom i didn't realize till later was one of my coworkers.  I mean, we never really saw one each others face, and we've only worked a couple of shifts at the same time, but it was kind of interesting.

Right around mile 26 a couple of friends of mine (G and D)showed up to cheer me on and run me in.  This was particularly nice because the wind was right in my face and I was able to draft off (and be pulled in by) one of them. 
Also nice was the fellow behind the microphone knew me and not only cheered me in as I finished but plugged the running fit at which I work.

My boss was there at the end and congratulated me, for which I thanked him, and I wandered punch drunk through the  chip removing, medaling and watering ritual.   My friends steered me towards food, other friends, and finally the massage tables.  Massage.  Almost as welcome as the water at the end of the race.  Amazing, that.

So I got most of my goals time wise.  I didn't get my "can I run an intelligent race" goal, but I figure with the temp difference and the downhill/uphill difference, I didn't do too terribly.

Some other random numbers:

1st half: 1:43:16 or a 7:53 pace
2nd half: 1:44:28 or a 7:59 pace

One minute, 12 second difference, which isn't bad.  I'm not displeased.

1st 10K: 48:40 or a 7:51 pace
Last 10K: 50:25 or a 8:08 pace

One minute, 45 second difference which means more in a 10K, and is significantly off my goal, but I bowed to both RPE and heart rate, and didn't try to push myself to cardiac arrest.  that would have been unfortunate.

It was a really good time.  If I have friends who would want me to pace them through it in the future, I'd be happy to do so.  I've heard people complain about the course, but since I don't run on it that much, I kind of enjoy Hines Drive.  For now, it's time to recover, spend some quality time with a foam roller, and see what other adventures may be in the offing.

My next race is in two weeks: the Trail half marathon.  I ran it for the first time in '06 in a time of 2:24:02.  I think I might pace someone, I may decide to race it, or I might just go to enjoy myself and not worry about my time.  Decisions, decisions... Perhaps I'll do it in five fingers.  That might be fun. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Man, things do change

Huh.  I'm going to be waking up in about four hours.  Nice.

I used to have a sheet listing all the things I should be doing on the night prior to a race, to make sure I didn't forget anything (I can just imagine leaving without shoes) and so forth and so on.

I'm a bit more relaxed now.

I still certainly suffer from pre-race jitters, but I don't fight them now, and I think they have less power over me.  at the very least, I don't get as frustrated in trying, and failing, to fall asleep.

No, these days it's just me waiting for gun time, and trying to distract myself.  The hard work has been done, and the taper is hours from over.  Tomorrow I get to see how well Daniel's' program works. Imperfectly followed, of course, but I still tried.  And did fairly well, i think.

Anyway, plan for tomorrow.  Start off at a relatively slow pace: 8:10-20.  Hang out there for a mile or so.  jump up a bit to the eight o'somethings, and hang out there for a while.  When I hit mile six or seven, and feel like I'm fully warmed up, try to drop the pace into sub eights.  No faster than 7:50 on the flats; perhaps a bit faster on the downhills, but only if I've paid for it on the up hills.

I hope to be through the 10K in no slower than 51 minutes, but no faster than 49:30.  We'll see how that goes.  Take the first Gu at the first water stop after mile five.  Settle into my groove, hanging out at an barely imperceptibly faster than eight minute pace.  Keep my form loose and relaxed.  Keep my turnover fast, light, and easy.  Well, as much as I can.  Keep the muscles in the back of my neck as relaxed as possible- they really like to tense up when I get fatigued.

Hm... I wonder if holding my pelvis at a more posteriorly rotated point would help with that.  Perhaps I should try it... after the race. 

Anyway, I'll take my Gu at the fives, and hopefully when I take my last one at mile 20, I'll be somewhere near 2:41 time wise.  that's when I get to see how I'm doing for real.  My hope is to decrease my pace a few seconds per mile- not straining mind, but putting just enough effort in to hit the finish line... well... totally finished. 

What I'd love to see is a 7:58 mile 20, 7:52's or there about for the next couple of miles,  high 7:40's there on out.  It'll be more taxing than the LT workouts I've been doing at a 7:20 pace by that time, I'm sure.  But I do hope my body is ready for this.  If it happens, great.  If not, I'll be good anyway.

Time to try to sleep.  Three hours, 30 minutes to when my alarms are set to go off.  Good times!

Friday, April 9, 2010

the night before the night before

races are all about making the right decisions at the right time, and the few days before the race are key.

So, of course, I spent tuesday night reading a book till 3:30 or so in the morning, and had to get up in time for work. Let's say four hours of sleep on the outside.

Right now, I'm on a roll when it comes to studying, and I don't really want to stop. But it's the night before the night before the marathon, when I should get all the sleep I possibly can.

So, of course, I decide to type in my blog, doing neither anything productive nor sleeping like I should. Which is why I have only myself to blame if things go poorly Saturday.

If this were a role playing game, I'd've failed my common sense roll.

[edit] Yup, mistake.  I got about five hours of sleep.  But I did get a lot of studying in!  :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

One week left. Minus a day.

I think I'll skip my shot today; partially because I'm feeling under the weather, but also because I don't feel I deserve it.

Reasons I hate the taper:
I'm used to interacting with food as if I'm burning 7000+ calories per week in running.  If I'm only burning, day 3000, this is not so good.
There's an inverse relationship between my (psychological) stress level and the amount of exercise I'm getting in.
Lethargy is a vicious cycle.  "bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and so forth..."
I was on spring break these last two weeks.  I had all the time in the world, but the schedule told me not to, run, damn it.
There seems to be a positive relationship between my immune system and the amount I'm exercising, to a point.

Yesterday I skipped my planned nine mile run.  Today I skipped my planned six mile run.  But I slept for about 11 hours, which I almost never do unless I'm feeling sick.  The plan called for 46 miles this week.  I got in maybe 30, with a bike ride which was about the equivalent of a six mile run.

Pretty weak.  Next week will be more interesting, I hope.  Threshold run tomorrow.  Easy runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  Race Saturday.

I'll finish off my bottle of Jack.
I'll do a final write up of what I think I've learned.
I'll figure out what I'm going to do after this race.

Tomorrow the final week begins; I'm really looking forward to what its going to tell me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Well, hell and damnation

Ya'know how you sometimes have dreams, and those dreams seem quite far away but possible if things would just align perfectly?  And striving for those dreams makes them that much more worthwhile?

Well.  The BAA made a certain dream that much more difficult to attain.  Oh well, such is life.

So far as I can tell, they took a blanket 10 minutes from everyone's QT.

So, at my current age I'd have to run an average 7:06 to hit a 3:05:59 (I don't know whether they'll still be giving the extra 59 seconds).

As if maintaining a 7:29 pace for my current QT of 3:15 wasn't hard enough.

Oh well.  If I have another break through, like I did between '06 and '07, perhaps I could get there.  Otherwise, I guess I'll have to learn to be content without ever qualifying.  I guess there are worse things in life to learn how to have to do...

[edit] Well, my face is red.  :P  Happy April Fool's!