Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 5K and 2007 running wrap-up

New Year's Eve 5K

I had no idea what to expect in this race. I did it last year in 21:15 and then later set a 5K PR in May. I feel like I might have even been close to 20-flat shape before marine corps, but after being confined to the elliptical for the last 3 weeks in November and a low mileage December (170 compared to 250-260 in the summer/early fall), I didn't know what to expect. Anything under 21 would be good, but I feared losing ground compared to last year. I even had a dream last night where I was in a race where I could hardly run (like the dreams where you can't get away from the bad guys). That surprised me since I really wasn't anxious about this at all. I took it casually enough that I forgot to unset autolap on the Garmin before the race, which is normally part of the checklist.

I got there pretty early and hung around and socialized with some people before heading out for a warmup. The course is two laps, so I did one lap as a warmup, which is really nice since you can visualize the race. My heart rate was high for the pace, but it always is before a race -- nerves I suppose. I got back to the starting line 10 minutes before the gun. I would have done another quick out and back, but I ran into friends again and chatted with them. The course has some considerable climbs for a 5K. There aren't any up and downs, but there's one long climb per lap. It's basically a tilted saucer. The highest point is 85 feet higher than the lower point.

I lined up behind a big guy and asked him to lead block for me. I was in the 6th or 7th row of people with entire families ahead of me (including kids I'd guess were about 8 years old -- what is wrong with people?). I took off not really knowing how fast I was going. The Garmin said about 6:30 and I settled into that. The waves of children started to come back to me, but my lead blocker was still pulling away. I resisted the urge to follow him. After the climb, I picked up the pace and the Garmin auto-lapped at 6:20. Crap, I forgot to turn it off. When I hit mile 1 less than 10 seconds later, I hit the "lap" button. Actually, I thought I hit the lap button, but instead I hit "start/stop." Double crap. I spent the next five minutes thinking I was running 6:49 pace and wondering how I could possibly be that slow, but I slowly started to pull in a female runner up ahead that was looking pretty strong.

I started the Garmin again and it was reading somewhere around 6:30. My heart rate was also right at 190-191 from mile 1 on. I've never had this much ease maintaining this high a heart rate. In fact, I've never had it feel this easy in a 5K, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have run much faster.

At the highest point of the second loop, I moved to pass the woman I had been following. We ran abreast a bit and then she picked it up. That was fine with me, so I just stayed behind her again. She started to pull away from me, but I would just pick it up and stay maybe 10 feet back. The garmin auto-lapped in here at 6:28 "garmin" pace, but I had no idea what my time was.

At the bottom of the second loop we started run into the walkers we were lapping. Ugh. They were lined up in rows literally 10 abreast. This forced us to run *very* wide. When the rows of walkers got narrower, we made our to the curb and after a while were generally able to run on the cement part of the curb to get around the walkers. I just stayed behind the woman I'd been following and let her make the decisions. According to Mr. Garmin, we were holding a steady pace and I was at about 190-192 bpm, which is about all I can muster for 5K.

At about 2.5 miles another woman came up behind us and the woman in front of me tried to go with her. I picked it up and stayed with them, but the woman I'd been following faltered and when we reached some walkers who were four abreast, I went right and she went left -- that was the last I saw of her as I was pulled along by a new woman. I was really in cruise control and started to pick it up after we hit 3 miles. Hang a sharp right and we head toward the finish. As I get close, I see the clock. Holy crap, this is going to be close to a PR, so I sprint as best I can, but it ticks 20:33, maybe 20:34 -- I missed a PR by a second or two. I forgot to hit my watch at the finish. Too bad I screwed up the watch or I might have been able to claim a "watch PR" since I must have lined up at least 3 seconds farther back than I did in May (that was a smaller race and I finished 11th).

I ran into the 62-year-old who finished a place ahead of me in May. It turns out I beat him by 10 seconds, so that's a benchmark for improvement I suppose (this was a tougher course I think). After waiting for some friends, I did another lap around for a cool down, and my legs didn't feel beat up at all. They've never felt so good after a race.

I'm not sure why I did so well, but I feel like I have more pure speed than I did before. You might think I'm crazy, but I honestly believe these shoes (Nike Frees) have helped. I can already tell that my right foot that is normally pointed out, points more forward and I definitely have a higher stride rate and heel strike less. If I can get my mileage (and endurance) back up without sacrificing speed, I think I'll have a real shot at 3:15 this spring.

2007 running wrap-up

I set PRs at every distance in 2007.

5K - 20:32 (12 May)
5M - 34:20 (20 Jan)
10K - 43:15 (1 April - 10K split of 10M PR)
10M - 1:09:49 (1 April)
HM - 1:33:28 (16 Sept)
marathon - 3:24:16 (6 May)

The training for the beginning of the year was long slow distance with some races. I had a dramatic improvement in January from a 21:15 5K (6:50) on 12/31 to a 34:20 5M (6:52) on an extraordinarily hilly course. Between those two was the Disney Goofy Challenge where I jogged 39.3 10-minute miles over a Saturday and Sunday.

The goal race for the first half of the year was the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and I exceeded my dream goal in beating 70 minutes. It was the hardest race I've ever run and one I finished with no regrets. I started doing the Benji Durden marathon plan about 4 weeks earlier, which has intervals/hills on Tues, cruise intervals on Th, and a strong long run on Sunday -- the others days are 40 minute recovery runs.

I thought I might parlay that into a stab at a BQ (3:15) at the Frederick marathon. I ran the first 3 miles or so under BQ pace, but quickly backed off. Still, I hit the half at 1:38:54 (a half PR at the time), but struggled through the second half in 1:45:22. There was a wicked wind that day and the last four miles were into sustained 20 mph winds gusting to 30 mph. I was very happy with a 19-minute PR and thought Boston was easily within reach in the fall.

The second half of the year revolved around training for the failed attempt at the marine corps marathon. I was on pace for 3:15 through 17 miles and died at Hains Point, struggling home in 3:27:34. Despite the time, I was in the best shape of my life. Actually, I believe I peaked a couple of weeks earlier when I could suddenly run 6 x 0.5 miles at 3:11 per with no problem, when I couldn't break 3:20 for the life of me.

After that, I got rambunctious and thought I'd double down marathons like I did successfully in 2006. I wound up with an injury (right shin) and 3 weeks on the elliptical for my trouble. I'm still carrying around the after effects, but it doesn't seem to limit my running at this point. I just feel something creepy in my shin.

Tonight I had an unexpected good race to end the year.

2007 stats

running: 2640 miles, 412h 25m, 9:22 min/mi avg pace, 145 bpm avg hr (9/21 - 12/31)
elliptical: 22h 16m, 142 bpm avg

Three weeks of injury really cut into my mileage total. I barely squeaked over last year's 2589 miles, but ran it about 1 min/mi faster.

A while back, I told myself I'd avoid setting race goals and instead focus on training goals. I'm not sure that's the best idea. I'd just be kidding myself. My goal is to qualify for Boston. There's just no way around that. To get there, I need to train. When all is said and done, my total for 2008 should be at least 3000 miles, so I'll call that a goal. If I don't get there, I'll know why I didn't get to Boston.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

week of 24 Dec and the tale of the migrating cold

Happy new year, everyone. Hope everyone had a happy holiday.

We arrived back home last night after a 10.5 hour car ride. The drive back to Virginia was thankfully quicker than the way down Georgia as there wasn't any traffic. We did make an unwise choice to use the HOV lanes and sat for about 20 minutes watching car fly by in the main lanes. (The anxiety was made worse by the fact we were maybe 20 minutes from home.)

I think I'm nearly over the cold, which moved into my chest and was pretty nasty. It's head north to my ears and nose, but I think it's on its way out. Unfortunately, it's also made it to my wife and kids. My daughter gets pneumonia at the drop of a hat so I'm hoping she avoids that this time. My son, however, could be missing an arm and he'd say, "Oh, I'm all right." He never complains, so I'm not sure how sick he is.

I finished reading Running Your Best by Ron Daws in the car on the way back. It's really an excellent book. There are some editing problems (typos), but most of them are obvious and I could have done without some of the physiology, which I believe might be dated. I believe he must have felt compelled to put that in despite having started the book saying it was a "practical guide" and that the physiologists were forever catching up to experimenting coaches. Bob Glover's Runner's Handbook for beginners followed by Running Your Best for those who decide they want to run their best isn't a bad formula. It's too bad it's out of print.

Running Your Best has schedules for 20 weeks and some general guidance for shortening them, which will be necessary for me. My basic plan is to build to my target mileage in January (and maybe a week or two in February) and spend February on aerobic base (includes fast aerobic running). March will be hill resistance training with perhaps a touch of anaerobic running, following by racing in April (Cherry Blossom 10 miler and maybe the GW parkway 10 miler). 4 May is either the Frederick or Potomac River Run marathon.

What's my target mileage and how do I build to it? Well, I think 70 mpw is reasonable and Daws has you run relatively even efforts each day to get there as quickly and comfortably as possible.

The week's training was (miles/pace/avg bpm)

Mo - 8.46/8:52/142
Tu - Rest (xmas)
We - 10.95/9:06/145 (hilly)
Th - 7.50/9:12/139
Fr - 10.60/8:54/149 (I rushed to beat a storm)
Sa - Rest (drove GA to VA)
Su - 10.04/9:24/142 (high HR for the pace -- all the sugar in the car?)

Week - 47.57/9:06/144

I hated to run less miles this week than last, but considering I had to take two goose eggs, I did pretty well to get 47.6 in 5 sessions versus 49.6 in 7 sessions (6 days) last week.

Tomorrow I'm running a New Year's Eve 5K. I ran it in 21:15 last year and then better my 5K PR to 20:32 in May. Given my condition, I'm a little worried I won't even beat 21:15. That would be pretty hard to have worked this hard this year and come into the new year slower than last.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas to me -- Running Your Best by Ron Daws

It was quite a Christmas haul for me and my family. The kids got a Wii, which makes my wife and I Wii widows. We figure we'll see them again when they're teenagers. Rather than annoy everybody by not telling them what I wanted for Christmas, I made an amazon wish list, which works well since books, CDs, and electronics are all I ever want. Anyway, I actually got things I wanted. The real gem is Ron Daws's book "Running Your Best: The Committed Runner's Guide to Running and Racing."

I'd heard that Ron Daws explained Lydiard better than Lydiard and, 115 pages in, that seems to be the case. Of course I have no basis for judging that, but the approach he describes matches what I've gathered from reading what's on the Lydiard foundation web site and reading the Lydiardite's posts on the various running web sites.

It's a little dated (the discussion of winter clothing is pretty funny) but the nuts and bolts haven't changed. The book is also written in a direct style that I appreciate. For example, the mileage buildup section of the mile - 5km "Relative Beginner's" schedule says, "Few beginners should tackle more than 50 miles per week. Much less than 35 mpw isn't training." I'm guessing that last sentence wouldn't go well in Runner's World.

I was a bit surprised by how comprehensive the book is, discussing clothing, keeping a running log, stretching, strength training, plyometrics (he calls "resiliency training"), race tactics, and more. It's more like Bob Glover's book that Daniel's, coming in at about 280 pages, 40 of which are the schedules.

Training so far this week: 8.47/8:52/141, Rest (xmas), 10.94/9:07/144 (quite hilly), 7.51/9:12/138.

Monday, December 24, 2007

week of 17 December -- the "no plan" plan

It started as a scratch in my throat on Thursday night. Twenty-four hours later (12 in the car -- to grandmother's house we go!), I was using my new-found baritone voice to wow disinterested audiences with my Johnny Cash impression. Saturday's run was OK, and on Sunday I was just sick as I ran in the 40 degree rain.

My approach for the week was just to let the pace come to me and run as long as I felt like and time allowed. This resulted in 10.1 miles at 10:07 per mile(!) on Sunday. Anyway, here's the way the week went. (miles/pace/avg hr)

Mo - 5.9/8:58/145
Tu - 4.7/9:22/138 am; 5.9/9:55/146 pm
We - 5.9/9:09/143
Th - 10.5/9:33/135
Fr - Long car ride
Sa - 6.8/9:16/144
Su - 10.1/10:07/133

49.8 miles. Not at the right computer to get hr avg, etc., but it looks like maybe 139 bpm as a rough guess. That's much lower than the 147 from the last couple of weeks.

By the way, note the pm run on Tuesday. I am always much, much slower for a given heart rate in the afternoon. I have no idea why that is.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

great, slow run

If you haven't tried running slowly, you should at least once. Just shuffle your way along and breath in the fresh air, noticing the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around you. When you run fast, you develop tunnel vision and miss the world around you.

This morning, I did what I refer to as a "transportation run" into work. The point is just to get from home to work with the least wear and tear possible. I even took some short walk breaks (gasp).

Why am I in such a good mood? My dog slept through the night! I sound like a new father rather than the owner of a 13.5 year old black lab mix.

10.5 miles, 9:33 min/mi, 135 bpm average.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

25 hours: 3 runs, 16.5 miles, and 4.5 hours of sleep

Let's see. I ran a pretty slow 4.7 yesterday morning although my heart rate was much higher than expected. I ran a very slow (9:55 per mile) 5.9 after work with a group and my heart rate was again high. 146 bpm for 9:55 per mile???? At that pace, I doubt I would have cracked 130 bpm only 3 months ago.

Then I slept from 10:45pm to 3:00am when my #$(@#$#@ geriatric lab mix decide to bark every 15 minutes. First it was to go out. Then it was to get water. Then he slid off his pet bed. Then he wanted to get on the sofa. Then he got off for no reason and when he attempted to get back on, he fell. He can't get up by himself because his back legs are shot. I love him and feel sorry for him, but sleep deprivation has a way of just making you crazy. I was back in bed for good at 4:49am. I slept maybe 15 minutes before my alarm went off at 5:45am and I trudged out for another 5.9 miles.

Tonight I coach basketball for an hour and a half. I'll try not to fall asleep. I've been waking up at least once and often twice a night for the dog, but usually it's "only" for 10-15 minutes. Last night was the worst.

Tomorrow, the alarm will go off at 5:15 (5:30?) for a 10.5 mile run to work. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Thanks for listening to my whining!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coolrunning -- Active gave angry people a blank page

Just what were they thinking? They take the site down for 5 days and then put it back up before populating it with the old threads. There are only three options when you visit a message board: 1) just read, 2) post a reply to an existing thread, or 3) post a new thread. The first two capture 99% of the board's activity. By putting up a blank board they left people only option 3.

What were they going to post about? If you look at coolrunning, there are actually very few new threads each day and they usually come from whatever is happening in people's lives -- "Help! My heel hurts," "I just signed up for Cherry Blossom -- who's in?" What was happening in the coolrunners' lives over the last couple of days was, "Yuck. Look at this unfamiliar design monstrosity with no posts that messed up my user name and screwed up my running log."

If the old threads were up, this would have been a few new threads where people vented. People would respond to the existing *running* threads in time and eventually the anger would be bumped off the first page. Instead, there was no option to reply to an existing thread on running and talk about running, so it was just about guaranteed that 90% of the threads on the board would be angry complaints. Brilliant.

Also, look and feel matters. You can't just shove people who are used to a new interface and expect people to be happy because it has improved functionality (this is very debatable of course). People are creatures of habit. Look at what google did with blogger. They didn't just create with a completely new look and turn it on one day with a blank page and a promise to eventually migrate your old posts. They kept it the way it was and slowly migrated it to their authentication system and database.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Coolrunning RIP?

Well, it took me a few days to realize is back up. I got an email on Saturday inviting me to log in after the transition, but it didn't work ("C??? authentication server error" or something like that) and the link I used to use -- -- said (and still says) that their still migrating. You can now get there from this link.

They had something like 5 days and didn't manage to move the old posts over. Meanwhile people are jumping ship right and left to other boards. Don't they realize that the archive of posts and the user base is the only thing the web site has? I'm guessing the old system was pretty primitive, which probably complicated the transition, but come on guys!

Anyway, I noticed Nobby (now Nobby063 because I guess active has 62 other "Nobby"s on other active sites?) has posted on the new site, so maybe there's a reason to go back there.

The old board was a little long in the tooth and could have used some improvement like RSS and speed in posting to long threads, but this could have been done with minimal apparent change to the user. I'm guess active really just didn't want to deal with this separate thing called "coolrunning" that they bought and were just looking for a way to shove it into and be done with it.

They could have just said, "Hey guys, we're shutting down coolrunning. Just go to and make an account there if you like it."
Instead they just create a new redundant hierarchy of groups within, create a bunch of new user names there from the coolrunning database, and make a link from (It really took days to do this?)
Look at how stupid this is. They have Mainstream racing (/community/sports/running/racing) and Mainstream racing (/community/coolrunning/mainstreamracing). There are also parallel Newbies and Injuries forums. It's so confusing they had to put an announcement on the front page of the running forums link that said "Looking for the Cool Running forums? Click Here." This should be a case study in how not to handle a web site transition.

So what to do? Maybe the blogosphere is the wave of the future, but how does one recreate the social network that was coolrunning.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

week of 10 December -- Nike Free 5.0

It might seem a little impetuous, but I ran Wed through Sunday in Nike Frees. I did one 40 minute treadmill run in them last week as well. I've had these things hanging around in my closet for probably a year. I bought them when I was battling plantar fasciitis (which lingered for about a year so I had plenty of time to experiment) and decided to move to running in "less shoe." I slowly mixed in shoes with less cushion, going from Mizuno Wave Creation to Rider to Precision, and I believe going to less shoe was one of the things that helped me beat it. I stopped at the precisions and never made it to the Nike Frees.

Thinking about my most recent injury, I realized that the loading (eccentric forces) on my shin occurs when I heel strike and overstriding while doing downhill strides was the straw the broke the camel's back. How could I stop myself from heel striking? The barefoot running crowd will tell you that you can't heel strike when running barefoot. It hurts too much and your brain won't let you. I thought I'd give it a shot.

I could tell from the first step that things were different running in the Frees. Leaning forward for the first step, my first step is short and basically underneath my body (like running in place) rather than long and in front of me. Even though there's less cushion, it actually feels smoother and less jarring. I guess my legs and feet work as pretty good shock absorbers when working properly. I kept my mileage low and have been carefully monitoring how I feel, but I'm surprised at how easy the transition has been so far.

My running this week:

Mo - 3 miles - shin bothered me from previous day's 13 miles (too much too soon); mizunos
Tu - Rest
We - 4.7
Th - 4.7
Fr - 5.9
Sa - 5.9
Su - 9.5

total: 33.8 miles, 4h58m, 8:49 pace, 148 bpm avg

Yes, 148 is a bit high for me again, but I'm recovering fine with the low mileage, so I figure why not. Speaking of the low mileage, I can't believe I ran this little.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

6 miles a little faster

I was probably a little underdressed for the weather, which might have caused me to pick up the pace at the beginning. Anyway, I did the same 5.9 mile route a little more than 5 minutes faster today. My average heart rate was 154 bpm, but that was skewed by bad (high) HRM readings for the first mile.

Friday, December 14, 2007

another day, another run

My right calf was very tight this morning, so I took it very easy. I ran slow enough that I felt like I was recovering during the run. Registered an average of 138 bpm and 9:22 min/mi for 5.8 miles. I'll probably do the same route tomorrow. I'll pick a pace after I warm up.

Is this the mysterious Lydiard "1/4 effort?" Mystery Coach says, "I used to tell my runners that 1/4 effort was a run you could repeat as soon as you came in, a 1/2 effort was a run you could repeat the next day. A 3/4 effort run would need an easy day but could be repeated the day after."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

two in a row

I did the same run today as I did yesterday without any problems except some tightness in my calf. Don't tell Tusca, but I averaged 152 bpm. My mood was up after my run. It reminded me of when I first started running and probably ran too hard everyday. It felt great. Then I got into low heart rate training and building my miles. My race times dropped, but the nature of my runs changed. I felt more akin to the walkers, out in the fresh air taking in the scenery.

Here's the basic strategy
  • get up to 1 hour daily runs
  • work toward Lydiards time-based marathon conditioning schedule by lengthening some of the days
  • incorporate hill resistance training
  • profit
I'll try and listen to my body throughout and progress to the next step when I'm ready.

By the way, I started doing active isolation stretching again (from the Wharton book). This is the only stretching technique that's ever improved my absolutely pitiful flexibility. Yesterday I was actually able to touch my knees with my wrists! Yes, I am that pitiful. My kids mock me. When I'm stretching, my 8-year-old daughter will sit next to me and put her head between her knees as I struggle to reach past mine with my fingertips.

I've also been doing a minimal amount of core exercise (crunches -- regular, left, right, and reverse; "superman;" bridges; and planks (the easy way with the knees). I really feel like I'm a very weak runner muscularly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"good" run

Well, "good" is a relative term. I ran 42 minutes without any pain and only noticed the shin a couple of times. I didn't have the acute pain I had when I first hurt it though. It was just an occasional discomfort like a tight muscle and not really in the same area. If I keep my mileage low for a while, I think I should be OK. A March marathon looks unlikely. I'll probably use Cherry Blossom as my goal race (closed out in 4 hours!) and run a May marathon as an afterthought. I set a huge marathon PR last spring without a lot of angst beforehand.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

sleep, no run

My dog slept through the night! (Reminds me of when my kids were babies.) I still woke up at 5:25 though, but that means I slept for over 6.5 hours straight!

No run today. I decided I would alway take an off day following any twinges even though it means my last 4 days are 0, 13, 3, and 0.

I'm probably going to have to forget about an early March marathon unless a miracle occurs. Today registration opens for my favorite race -- the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.

Monday, December 10, 2007

bad run

Running this morning was a bad mistake. I thought I'd just go out for 40 minutes. Well the dog kept me up all night and then I thought I'd just bag it and get some sleep, but I couldn't sleep anyway. After my indecisiveness, I was running late and cut it off at 30 minutes. Well, now I sit hear with ice on my shin, because the creepy tendon feeling is back. It feels like I'll never get back in shape.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

week of 3 December -- a week of running

Mo - 3 (9:09/143) - felt a little twinge in the shin and cut it short (planned <=4 anyway); core
Tu - 5.8 (8:31/159) - no pain except to my ego; really huffing and puffing
We - 4.7 (8:53/143) - much better pace/hr; 1st snowfall of the year started during my run; core
Th - 4.3 (9:25/140) - treadmill
Fr - 8.8 (9:10/142) - nice run; hamstring sore, but shin fine; core
Sa - Rest
Su - 13.5 - absolutely no problem with the shin for the first two laps, but felt it some on the last; core

Week: 40.0 miles; 6h1m; 9:02 min/mi avg; 147 bpm avg;

Obviously I'm out of shape. A couple of weeks before the marathon I average 8:45 and 143 bpm. I'm probably 30-45 sec/mi slower than I was then. Hopefully, it will come back quickly.

I'm beginning to think my foot pain is caused by this particular pair of shoes. I know they pinch my right pinky toe (which gave me a nasty marathon blister) and it feels to me like the arch is too high on the left foot, which might be the cause. Has anybody seen variation between shoes of the same model. (This is my 4th pair of mizuno wave precision 7s and they don't feel like the others.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

I ran today

Last week was 50 min elliptical on M, W, Fr, Sa and 100 min elliptical on T, Th, and Su. Really boring. But this morning, I ran! A whole whopping 3 miles. I was slow and it required entirely too much effort, but I ran!

I was totally pain free for the first 2.9 miles. Then my heel hit the lip of a sidewalk cutout (car forced me onto the sidewalk) and I had a *little* pain in my shin. Walking home I could also feel it a little. It wasn't really in the area where I've had a problem, so I think I'm OK, but I'm being cautious.

I'm not quite sure what to do from here. I'll probably run by feel in the morning and then elliptical every other day in the afternoon to keep the volume up.

2.89 miles @ 9:09 min/mi, 142 bpm average. (Hopefully this will rebound quickly.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

week of 26 November

This last week is pretty easy to summarize: M, W, F, Sa - 50 min elliptical; Tu, Th, Su - 100 min elliptical. I'm going to try running 40 minutes tomorrow. I haven't quite decided where. I might try the treadmill or I might venture outside. I think the leg should be OK, but there's no way to know for sure.