Monday, April 25, 2011

better than expected

I was worried about this week; that the illness I suffered from would keep me from running the way I'd like. Or would cause me to have a relapse if I went too far too fast.

I was worried about the wrong things.

I should have been worried that I would get too caught up in finally being able to run again, and run a bunch of junk miles- miles that are too hard to be easy but too easy to be beneficial in the way I'd like.

And right now, I'm sort of caught in that gear. I need to remember how to slow it down during easy runs. Trails help, as do running in five fingers. but still, there's something comforting in running at a moderate effort. It's just not helpful for me to accomplish my goals.

I need to work on that. :)

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Location:W Bristol Rd,Flint,United States

Friday, April 15, 2011


I'm really bad at being sick. Most people are, so I figure that puts me in the majority.

I've had about five days of being either only able to talk in a whisper, or sounding like I'm going through puberty again. For a while it was nice not to have to say much of anything to anyone, except by choice. Now it's just annoying.

I've only run four miles this week. Part of me is aghast; another part of me feels weak enough that the four miles may have been a mistake. Today's work shift wasn't bad; it was steady but not crazy busy, and most of the people were able to hear me when I spoke. I'm kind of worried about tomorrow, though. Saturdays are usually a little more difficult.

*sigh* I'm really looking forward to when I'll be back running easy, fast, and comfortable...

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Pain scale
I ask this question fairly frequently; not as much as a real practitioner, but more than the average bear.  I need to remember to phrase it for those with overactive imaginations. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I went into this workout worried. My Martian Half went really well, but I worry that I may have left too much out on the course. A (projected) two minute PR is about four minutes faster than I thought I would do, and about three minutes faster than I thought may have really been healthy for me.

Tuesday I did a leg workout which is still kicking my ass. at least, that's where about half the pain is. The rest is in my quads. And yesterday I felt like I was running just a bit too fast, sabotaging today's run.

I get worried when factors pile up like that. It's a thing.

So I got to Indian Springs, and the day is just perfect, for me. Mid 40s, overcast, and just a bit breezy. Two mile warm up. I thought of the intervals my coach assigned me: six 800s with a 400 rest between, paces as follows: 7:30, 7:15, 7:00. 6:45, 6:30, 6:30.

First interval (goal: 7:30) was hard: I guess my legs were set on half marathon pace from this weekend. Started to fast, slowed myself down too much, played yo-yo to catch up. Wash, rinse, repeat. 3:46 (7:32).

Second interval (goal: 7:15) went much better.I felt relaxed, checked every 30 seconds or so to make sure I was on target, and didn't do much tweaking. 3:37 (7:14).

Third interval (goal 7:00) also went really well. I just pictured myself running a 10K, tried to find my rhythm, and started thinking a little more about breathing. 3:28 (6:56).

Fourth interval (goal 6:45) didn't go quite so well. Got a little lazy, didn't check my watch to make sure I was on track, so when I hit about 600 meters, my average pace was 6:53. So I ran hard and hit the 800 meters completely winded... but ahead of schedule. Oops. 3:19 (6:38).

It was during this rest interval I really started to play with the idea of changing my breathing. Counting breaths is my mantra when I'm running; I've been doing it for years, and it really helps me focus. When I'm running easy, I use my breaths to time my foot falls; usually to the tune of one breath every six steps, three in, three out.

If I'm holding a 180 step cadence, and count every inspiration and expiration, I should be doing half a breath (and count) every second. And I've counted literally thousands of my breaths.

Harder running usually calls for two steps per inspiration and expiration, meaning I hit about a 90 count during a minute. This is what I shoot for during a half, 10K or 5K. I've only toyed with the idea of taking breaths faster, never played with it.

I started playing with the new breathing pattern after doing the stupid interval. Two steps to breath in, one step to breath out. Easy to maintain during rest; foot falls are slow, and I have time to think about it.

Fifth interval (goal 6:30) came, and it went out the window. I was averaging a 6:39 pace for the most part until I hit a lucky down hill; this helped enough to let me hit my interval goal. But towards the end I was gasping like a landed fish. And wheezing, which wasn't much fun at all. 3:14 (6:28).

Rest interval. I tried to practice the two steps (breath in) one step (breath out) pattern a bit more. Maybe a little better handle on it.

Sixth (and final) interval (goal: 6:30). I started with the new pattern right off. It felt... pretty good. Like running a waltz. Every time I exhaled, I imagined my breath hanging just a meter before me, and every time I inhaled, I caught up to it. It kind of gave new meaning to "catching my breath." The interval went smoothly. No yo-yoing after falling off pace. No concentration lapses. And best of all, no Wheezing! 3:15 (6:30).

So, gentle reader, if you've made it this far, color me impressed. I hope it was diverting if not entertaining. I renamed my blog appropriately, I think. Perhaps if you've spent time thinking on these things, you could drop me a line to tell me what you've learned...

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Martian Half Marathon

I love race plans. I always get a laugh when I reflect on my plan after the race. Or a "How did that happen?" feeling when a race actually goes to the way I expected.

I don't get the latter feeling too often.

In any case, the race weather was splendid. In the beginning of the week, the weather was promised fine, and I didn't believe it. Last couple of days, the weather promised wintery mix, and I chose to hope for the best.

I got lucky. It happens, from time to time.

Low to mid 30s, nice bright sun, and a breeze that probably helped more than it hurt. One of the big non-controllable factors work out about as well as I could have possibly hoped, and I thought during the run that I should give all due amazement for the fact.

Also for the fact that I didn't overdress. It was a near thing.

Anyway, I got to the race, parked far away but easily, and did the packet pick up thing. Did a brief (1 mile) warm up, regretted that I forgot to bring my Gu, and lined up next to some friends and waited for the start.

I also love goals, much as I love race plans. I always go in with bunches of goals, from the aggressive to the intelligent to the silly. Usually I can hit a bunch of them, sometimes all, but most of the time only a few.

For this race, my time goals were as follows: 1:35-1:37 if things go amazingly well. I gave myself a 1 in 5 chance of hitting this one. If I run smart, 1:37-1:40. That would have been my 'happy with the race' goal, meaning I'm running about where I expected. 1:45+ would have been okay, but it would have meant either I snag (like pain that warns of injury) or I decided to run with someone just for the fun of it.

The race started, and I settled into the "comfortably hard" groove that makes me love half marathons. It felt like a 7:30-7:40 pace to me. Garmin said it was 7:23. I thought "cool" and didn't change a thing effort wise.

Next lap went by in 7:10. I thought to myself: "this is something close to my 10K pace last winter. Sweet!"

Around mile 3 or 4 I got passed by a women wearing a Boston Marathon Jacket. Personally, I have no problem at all getting chicked, especially by a women wearing a Boston jacket. But she was going about my speed, and I thought: Hm. Maybe I can keep up!

So I ran along, attacked (or floated over) the hills, and tried to run a nice, relaxed, even race. That ended when I started to see runners who had hit the turn around and started to run back. It's a wonderful thing to be part of a running group; the encouragement during an out and back that a lot of friends are doing is awesome.

I tried to spot as many people as I could, cheering people on and being cheered. I missed a few, and sometimes names only sprung to my sugar deprived brain long after the people had passed me by. It happens.

When I hit the turn around, the mass of runners started to pass by, and I got enough encouragement to help me drop my mile pace about 15 seconds. Oops.

I hit the water station with the Gu, and walked long enough to take it and water without choking. Boston girl passed me, and for the next five miles or so was hundreds of feet ahead of me. I told myself I was okay with that, and kept on.

Right around mile nine my Garmin bleeped, but there wasn't a mile marker anywhere near me. I thought: Hm. Well. I hope the course isn't long. Or short. Or whatever. In other words, I was practicing denial.

The miles continued to pass. The discrepancy between my garmin and the course markings grew. And I chose to deal with it by ignoring it. I just wanted to finish strong.

About a mile away from the end, just as I was flagging, I saw a friend by the side lines with a camera; he shouted some encouragement as I hammed it up for the camera. Gave me a big boost, and I hoped I didn't make too much of a fool of myself. Forlorn hope, perhaps, but one I'll cling to till I see the evidence.

About half a mile from the end, I reeled in Boston girl and passed her by. I didn't sprint, so I didn't feel like a heel doing it, but I just maintained a nice, even acceleration. Till I hit the corner going into the finish line. I stepped up my acceleration a bit more, until a few hundred feet away, where I really stepped it up.

It felt smooth, easy, and comfortable. If I had tried to do it more than a quarter mile, I'm sure I'd be dying, but it felt really good to cut loose a little. About the only time I feel comfortable cutting loose is kicking into the finish; even during intervals or whatever, I hold myself back. At the end of a race... well, things are a little different.

I finished the race, got my medal, and stood around talking to all the people who finished prior to me, and then who came in afterward. Till the sweat and the wind threatened hypothermia. Realized I scored a PR. Realized that the course was perhaps a half mile long. Realized that the two in combination was really pretty cool.

Hung out for a bit, congratulating and commiserating as the situation warranted, then went off to the Daily Mile Meet Up. Great people, great time, and I even got to biology geek for a while! :)

Executive Summery:
Distance: 13.1 (Garmin 13.52) miles
Time: 1:36:57
Pace: 7:25 (Garmin 7:10) min/mile
25/168 AG,  116/1836 OA (Top 15% of my Age Group; top 7% Over All!)

Personal Record! (Down from 1:37:02, set in 2008)
Side note: if Garmin had the correct average pace, I would've crossed the finish line in 1:33:53. Which really kind of rocks. :)

Thanks to all who made it all the way to the end of this! I did name my blog appropriately, eh? ;)

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books in 2011

Not a running post, believe it or not.  Most of the time, I listen to books as I drive, or do laundry, or cook or dishes.  Fills the empty time between silences.  I read something when it's given to me; though i might start hitting the library soon. Anyway, here's my list:

2011 Books in the first quarter (Jan-March)

*Way of kings- B Sanderson

*Soulless- G Carriger

Blade Itself- J Ambercrombie
Before They are hanged
Last argument of kings

The final empire- B Sanderson
The well of ascension
Hero of ages

*Agatha hetrodyne and the airship city- P&K Foligo

Dauntless- J Campbell

*The Black Company- G Cook

Assassin's Apprentice- R Hobb
Royal assassin

Altered Carbon- R Morgan
Broken Angels

*Best served cold- J.Ambercrombie

Shards of Honor- LM Bujold
The Warrior's Apprentice

*New books; all the others are all audiobooks, and ones I've listened to in the past.  Great for long car trips; since I know the story, it only needs some of my attention.  But it does a lot to keep me from getting bored, strangely enough.