Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 quick review

Three goals for 2008:

- sub-20. Check. 19:49 at Atoms 5k in May.
- BQ. Check. 3:15:22 at NCR trail marathon.
- more than 3000 miles. Check. 3180 for the year at an avg pace of 8:54.

Goals for next year?

- sub-1:30 half marathon. I know it seems crazy for a guy who just ran a 20:12 5k. The 68:49 10 miles I ran is 6:53 pace though. 1:30 is 6:52. I plan to be in much better shape sometime this the year than I was then.
- Requalify at Boston. I'm not that committed to this frankly, but I don't like running a marathon without a goal.
- Finish the JFK 50. I really might rethink this, but there it is. I've never done an ultra and I kind of like the simplicity of running farther than I have before. I have no time goal. I've learned my lesson from my first marathon.

windy 5k, decent time

The graph tells the story. The race started at 4 pm at the "dip" :) It was only 25 mph gusting to 38 mph at that point. Wunderground said the wind was from the northwest although it felt more like the northeast to me (maybe the terrain affected it?) Add the wind to that a pretty tough course and I decided that I would be incredibly thrilled with breaking 20 if I could manage it. Well, I didn't.

They changed the course from last year (and re-certified it). One nice feature is that it is no longer a double loop, which means you don't have to negotiate walkers). I had hoped it meant half the elevation gain, but that wasn't quite the case.

Mile 1 starts on a downhill with a tailwind, but quickly turns to a climb mostly into the wind. My split was 6:33 (180 bpm) average, the next mile was mostly downhill and a net tailwind and I split 6:26 (188 bpm). I felt like I took a bit of a nap there. I usually hit 190-191 bpm on the second mile. Still I was only 7 seconds off 20:00 pace at mile 2. I knew it would take a miracle though since would be turning uphill and into the wind. I picked up the intensity, but the 3rd mile was 6:34 (191 bpm). I ran an even pace and didn't get passed by anyone. Still there were two guys 10-20m ahead I was constantly trying to close the gap on (and draft off of), but never could quite do it. Everybody else went out too fast and I went by them. One guy looked like he was really hurting when I passed him just short of the last right that leads to a downhill finish. I sprinted on the downhill and he sprinted right with me! I put a little extra kick in to hold him off and finished (by my watch) in 20:12.

It's really hard to say what my fitness is based on this race given the conditions. I talked to several of the usual age group faces that I see at races. One guy said he was 40-45 secs slower than his usual time. Another said he was about 30 seconds slower than his last race. A 19-flat runner I know finished over 19:40, so 30+ seconds doesn't seem crazy. I finished in 19:44 (by my watch) at the 5k in May, so I think I'm in decent shape. I'm also about 5 pounds heavier. If I ditch that, I think I'll post some good times soon.

forecast: windy

5k starts at 4pm. Hour-by-hour from

Partly Cloudy / Wind
From NW
33 mph

Ouch. There's a new course this year. Still a double loop. The high point is 25m higher than the low. Two 75' climbs in a 5k plus >30 mph winds doesn't sound fast to me!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

week of 22 December

Mo 6.15 0:55:25 9:00 - easy
Tu am 12.63 1:47:41 8:32 - moderate, w/5 x strides
Tu pm 4.17 0:39:37 9:31 - jog
We 10.07 1:35:21 9:28 - long jog (tired)
Th 0.00 - Xmas
Fr 10.07 1:25:09 8:27 - moderate
Sa 6.99 1:02:03 8:53 - easy
Su 14.97 2:13:54 8:57 - easy (tired legs)
Wk 65.03 9:39:10 8:54

Good week. I could have hit near 70 if I had snuck out on Christmas. I actually had a shot when everyone was taking showers after present unwrapping and before guests arrived.

My legs felt beat up by Sunday's run and I tried to warm up to 8:30's but didn't quite feel like it.

My weight is getting to be a problem. I hit 164 after the marathon and it never went away. After a week of Christmas eating, I'm now up to 165.3. I haven't been there since the end of our week at the beach in August. I can't just up my weight by 3% and expect it won't affect me. We'll see how the 5k goes tomorrow. Last year I ran 20:32 at the Atoms 5k in May and 20:33 on New Year's. This year I ran 19:49 in May. I was hoping to scare 19:30, but with my weight and relative lack of miles of late, 19:50 is looking pretty good. Just checked the forecast and yikes! 40 degrees is awesome. But the wind is supposed to be 20 mph at 4pm (down from 27 at 1pm!).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

week of 15 December

I'm out of town and can't seem to download the Garmin drivers to install on my laptop. hasn't worked for two days. What is the deal with Garmin? They have great hardware and the rest... not so much. Anyway, I've read the following off the 305 screen.

Mo - 6.45 @8:58 - easy
Tu - 7.00 @~8:40 - moderate including 1 x Rock Circuit
We - 10.26 @8:15 - moderate w/ 20'' alternating 5k/5k+60''
Th - 5.52 @9:08 - easy
Fr - 10.00 @ 8:32 - moderate including 3 x ABCs, 8 x 15'' hill sprints, and 5 x strides
Sa - travel to Atlanta for Christmas, no running
Su - 14.80 @ 7:59 - moderate + 8 @ 7:31, 7:25, 7:04, 6:52, 6:55, 6:46, 6:57, 6:54
Wk - 54 - wow, I need to do something about that

The Sunday run was intended to be 4+ moderate out to the 1-mile loop of leg-forgiving finely crushed gravel and then 7:40 for the first mile, cutting down 10 sec/mile with the 8th as fast as I liked. Then come home via the 2+ mile route.

Well, I hit the first at 7:31, but my garmin said it was 7:41 pace. So far, so good. Next was 7:25. Too slow. Ramp it up, to try and hit 7:10 -- 7:04. OK, I'll shoot for 7:00 and get back on track. 6:52. A little fast. I'll try for 6:50. 6:55 and this is getting hard. Shoot for 6:40. 6:46 and I wasn't sure I could race two more at that pace. Backed off to 6:57 on the next and then ran as hard as I felt like and only manage 6:54.

It's a little worse than this because after running a number of laps there, I believe the loop is about 5 seconds short of a mile based on my garmin. On the other hand, I used gmap-pedometer ( ) and found it .9978.

I have to make some excuses. Even though the loop has a perfect running surface and is 5 seconds short of a mile, it is not exactly flat. You can see from the link above that the high point is about 35 feet higher than the low. That sounds plausible. You gain than in a couple of tenths, which is a pretty good grade. The other excuse is the wind. The weather said it was 22 gusting to 30 as I walked out the door. Based on the kids kite that was about to be ripped off the string, I'd agree.

Anyway, that was a tough run and I held up pretty well. Even though I don't think I could have raced the last laps faster, the heart rates weren't at all crazy. and my heart rate splits were 162, 162, 170, 173, 176, 179, 177, and 178. I've averaged somewhere around 178-180 for a half marathon and 180-184 for a 10 miler.

The mileage is very week and I've learned by examing my mid-section that my weight is inversely proportional to weekly mileage. Ugh. Off to a good start this week. 6.17 yesterday and 12.65 + 4.17 today. I need another good day tomorrow before I take a zero on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 miles w/20'' alternating 5k/5k+60

I've been sampling from the workouts on my future schedule like a Chinese menu. I want to make sure I know how to execute them. This includes fitting them into the very hilly terrain of my running routes. Today's run was 10 mile moderate 20-minute continuous alternating 5k/5k+60sec pace (roughly 6:25/7:25). I figured I should cover about 3 miles in the 20 minutes, so I'd start when the Garmin hit 5 miles, which would leave me 2 miles to "cooldown" (or at least go back to moderate). Unfortunately, 5 miles in puts me at the lowest elevation point in the routeThe first 90 sec MP/90 sec 5k was on the flat and I hit it pretty well (6:26/7:14). Then I went up a comically steep section (steeper than where I do hill sprints) and my 5k pace was 7:58. The rest of the splits times are barely correlated between fast and slow as I went up and down over hills. The graph above shows the terrain roughly although gps elevation completely stinks. I miss wearing my Suunto with the barometric altitude. If they can fit that in a reasonably sized wristwatch, why didn't they put one in the 305?

I did the rock circuit yesterday, but only did one circuit instead of two and cut down the number of pushups. I'm searching for some sort of equilibrium the lets me get through the week in one piece.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

week of 8 December

Mo - 5.99 0:58:03 9:41 140 -- 133 excl miles 1-2
Tu - 9.32 1:25:47 9:12 141 -- 134 excl miles 1-2
We - 9.33 1:27:50 9:25 134
Th - 6.99 1:01:42 8:49 143 -- the new easy?
Fr - 7.88 1:07:06 8:31 154 -- moderate w/ABCs, 8x15'' hills
Sa - 6.43 0:57:47 8:59 155 -- "easy" + rock circuit
Su - 13.53 1:57:02 8:39 149 -- last 9.5 moderate
Wk - 59.48 8:55:17 9:00 145

I tried some new workouts this week and tried easy = 145 bpm and moderate = 155. Friday's runs was hard though and it seemed to carry into yesterday and today. I was given a range for easy (140-150) and moderate (150-160) and after today I really think I need to stick to the low end of that range. I also ate like crap the last few days. Lunch and dinner on Fr and Sa was pizza, fried chicken, PBJ, and pizza. Ouch. On top of that I didn't get much sleep.

No wonder today's run was crap. Compare today to 5 weeks ago

12/14 - 13.53 1:57:02 8:39 149 (75%) -- 3 lake laps
11/09 - 22.54 3:12:58 8:34 148 (74%) -- 5 lake laps

My heart rate rises during long runs and three weeks ago, I averaged low 140s through 3 laps versus 149 and at a faster pace. The highest mile split in those three laps was 146 compared to 155 today. Wow, I have totally jumped the shark.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the rock circuit

This kicked my butt today. (It looks so easy on the video.) The last 30 seconds of elevated pushups turned into just 5 followed by me jogging away with my tail between my legs. The knee was also a problem. The strides were preceded by some limp-jogging to get things in a groove before the strides. I'm not so great at the starting and stopping.

Oh, well. We have to crawl before we run.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The new easy is harder than the old easy

Max HR: 200 bpm

Recovery <140
Easy 140-150
Moderate 150-165
Marathon Effort 166-172
Sub LT 173-175
LT 176-184

Above are my training zones. Marathon and LT look right in the neighborhood based on my races. I'm a big weenie though and "easy" above is harder than how I normally run easy, which is way too easy. Got that?

Anyway, I did 7 this morning, average 142 bpm and 8:42 per mile. After the first couple, the miles were basically 8:30/145. Really not that hard and a bit more fun that my usual 9:15/134 slog. This past go around, I basically only had three types of runs: workout, recovery, and long. The long run was at the 140-150 easy effort above. "Brain Training," which I was loosely following, had lots of base/recovery pace runs, and weenie that I am, I opted for recovery every time.

I feel recovered except my butt/hips are *still* sore. I sill have three weeks before my official training schedule starts. I'm planning to do more easy runs and try out some of the supplementary training (core routines, etc.) that's in my schedule.

My run was very good today (except it was 45, raining, and windy) and I have some hope that I'm not far from where I was pre-marathon. Of course, I'm going to lose some fitness recovering, so we'll see where I am at the New Year's 5k. I'll be happy with anything sub-20. 19:30 would be very, very nice.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I got me a coach

In a semi-impulsive move, I decided to hire me a coach. Today, I got my schedule that starts on 12/31 and I am psyched! I get to do all kinds of crazy stuff besides just running. I'm not talking Adam-running-up-hills-with-a-sandbag crazy, but more like your basic core strength stuff that I neglect. Best of all somebody tells me what to do without me fretting over whether I'm doing the right thing or not. Until 12/31 though, I'm still making it up as I go.

Today I did 9.3. Pace was 9:12 min/mi and heart rate was 135. I've gone from 9:57/133 to 9:40/133 to 9:12/135 in the span of three days. I think I'm getting over the marathon. After the run I did some weights. 2 x [ 10 x (adductor, leg extension, leg curl, lat pull, row pull, bench press)]. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm kind of hoping I can fix my runner's knee which is still biting my in the... knee. Hip thingy is a distant memory.

The forecast for tomorrow is incredible. 54 degrees at 7am. Are you kidding me? It snowed last Saturday and was about 20 and windy on Sunday. Now it's going to be 54!? I'm planning on another 9.3 very, very easy -- in shorts.

Oh yeah, after freaking out about my weight yesterday, it was 161.6 today, about a pound above my low over the last three months. Perhaps the post-marathon water weight lingered longer this time? I need to watch what I eat anyway, so the day-to-day weight doesn't really matter.

Monday, December 08, 2008

164.5 lbs

Egads! OK, I rationalized the 164.0 on the scale the night before the marathon as water/glycogen put on in the last few days when I cut my mileage. I rationalized the 163.5 a few days later as water retention from muscle damage (inflammation). Now that I weigh in at 164.5 and can see it on my waistline, I have to accept that it's just fat. This might explain some of my "fitness" loss in the last month. Looking at the bright side, this means I have more room to improve.

Today was the 2 times the neighborhood loop. 9:40 min/mi, 133 bpm average. The breathing and heart rate were in sync finally (140 felt hard on the uphills). The pace dropped about 20 seconds/mile from yesterday, so thumbs up there -- only another 20-40 seconds to go. I felt a little more spring in my step. I think a lot of the post-marathon loss in pace must be due to inefficiency resulting from soreness/muscle damage. I like to assume that at least.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

week of 1 December

Mo - Rest
Tu - Rest
We - Rest
Th - Elliptical 30:11 134 (67%)
Fr - 4.95 0:46:23 9:23 140
Sa - 5.42 0:50:06 9:14 143
Su - 8.98 1:29:24 9:57 138 -- ~134 if you throw out first lap
Wk - 19.35 3:36:04 9:36 139

Today I reached the acceptance phase in mourning my lost fitness. I finally reached rock bottom and settled in for 90 minutes of shuffling along at 9:57 per mile. That was slow enough to keep me around 133 bpm. It felt hard when I crept up to 140 on some uphills, so it feels like my breathing has finally reconnected with my heart rate.

The prescription now is oxygen. I'm planning to consume as much of it as I can with slow runs that concentrate on time on my feet and minimum impact to my legs. I'll probably even use the elliptical. When my muscles don't ache anymore, I'll throw in some weights, hill sprints, core work, etc. I want to get stronger. Not Adam strong, but I'm hoping to work up to a single pull up by the end of the year :-)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

second run back

Went for my second easy run since the marathon last Saturday. My heart rates are still wacky. I can easily shoot over 150 without batting an eye. My breathing doesn't pick up like it normally would and I don't notice until I look at the watch. My last half mile was actually 9:50 pace and 140 bpm average. On the exact same run 4 weeks ago, I ran 9:08 at 125 bpm. Yikes!

Of course, I've been on a long slide since 4 weeks ago and I think I lost a lot even before the marathon. I'm still scratching my head as to why.

Friday, December 05, 2008

5 "easy"

Ooch. Ouch. Like the tin man, I shuffled off this morning, discovering aching muscles I didn't even know I had. Had a weird little knot in my left hamstring. My hip flexors (I think those are my hip flexors) were really tight. After a blazing 9:45 mile, I eventually worked up to a jog and I think my last mile was a little under 9. All in all, it was a good first run back. You have to start somewhere!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Shamrock Half marathon

My spring goal: run sub-1:30 at the Shamrock half marathon on 3/22/2009.

back at it

Did 30 minutes on the old elliptical today. Been a while since I did that. Got my heart rate up to around 145. I'm a bit out of shape (or not recovered). My "gluts" were still a little sore and my left quad was as well. No problem with the hip or knee. I think I'll try 5 easy tomorrow am. No more sleeping in!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

a couple of days behind

I guess this one hurt me more than the previous marathons. I'm at least a day behind in how I feel. Combine that with a desire to be more cautious this time and I haven't run a step since the marathon on Saturday. I plan on saddling up the elliptical for about 30 minutes tomorrow.

I've gained some weight. I thought it was post-marathon inflammation, but it hasn't come off yet. I'm at 163.7. I weighed a whopping 164.0 the night before the marathon (9 pounds above my goal!), but rationalized that it was extra glycogen/water from tapering. Maybe it was that Thanksgiving feast :-)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What am I doing?

Make up your own caption.

revenge of the hip

I guess endorphins and ibuprofen kept it down on Saturday. Not moving on Sunday probably kept it away as well. I took two steps off the elevator at work yesterday and, with my weak muscles, extended the joint enough that the pain came back sharply. I still don't know what this is. It feels like it's really down in the joint. Who knows? I'm hoping with some rest that it will just go away. No exercise at all so far. I'm considering 30 minutes on the elliptical tomorrow. Maybe not though. No rush.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Week of 24 November

Mo - 8.71 1:10:21 8:04 155
Tu - 5.00 0:45:21 9:04 129
We - 4.04 0:36:43 9:06 144 - HRM issues
Th - 4.20 0:34:17 8:10 171 - HRM issues
Fr - Rest
Sa - 26.40 3:15:20 7:24 174 - PR, BQ!
Su - Rest
Wk - 48.37 6:22:11 7:54 162

For completeness, above is last week's training. No running today either, by the way. I feel about as sore as I ever have after a marathon. I have no injuries, thankfully and the soft trail also seems to have saved my feet which usually hurt more. It's really just the typical weak quads and trouble walking down stairs (by which I mean holding onto the rail for dear life).

I've been looking for hotels for Boston and it's about as painful as the marathon! Everything near the finish is sold out or over $450. My wife found one by the airport, but this whole thing is sounding like less fun with the logistics. Fly up Sunday, stay by the airport, checkout, shuttle to the T, T to the race, bus to Hopkinton, race, get bag, T to airport station, shuttle to airport, and fly back. I guess I leave my wallet in baggage check at the race? Can I pack everything in a bag I can check. I feel sorry for whoever sits next to me. Frankly, I'm not sure it's worth doing. Everybody says I should, so I will, but I'd really be going just for the marathon and not to see Boston. Is it really worth the hassle?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

marathon report -- the very, very long verison

Here's the very, very long version.

On Friday, I crafted this pace plan on a yellow sticky and "laminated" it with strips of scotch tape. The left column gives splits for 3:15:00 pace, which I felt was the minimum I could shoot for, leaving 59 seconds for the wicked hills in the last couple of miles. I referred to the left column as the "oh s***, I'm in trouble" column. The right column was what I thought was a safe plan if I felt good. In some crazy corner of my mind I worried about holding myself back! The reason 14:00 at "2" is 7:26 pace is because the 2nd mile marker is actually 601 ft short of 2 miles per the course certification map. Unfortunately, you have to give that 601 ft back in the last 2.2, but my sticky planned for that. It turns out the 600 feet is about 50 secs at goal pace, so I used that for the math.

I stopped my ibuprofen loading (an attempt to fix my hip) on Friday ~5pm and I think the advil combined with the rich turkey day feast (and probably some nerves) had left my stomach in a bit of a shambles. I slept really well on Wednesday and Thursday, but slept in 1-1.5 hour segments on Friday night. It's been awhile since I had trouble sleeping before a marathon. When I "woke up" I ate my small bowl of cheerios (just skimmed off the cheerios to avoid the milk) and a banana. The drive and shuttle bus to the school were thankfully uneventful, except that I felt like crap and my pulse was 70+ when I checked with the old finger to the neck (nerves I told myself). Although I felt like crap, I didn't feel my hip at all for the first time in weeks.

I saw coolrunner Jesse and it was nice to have someone to talk before the race. He did the JFK 50 last week, so he's clearly insane. He said the course was harder than I remembered (I still don't think it's hard) and that the climb was tougher than I remembered (well, this is true).
Here's a course elevation map from when I ran it two years ago with my Suunto (which has a barometric altimeter and gives much better elevation than the Garmin -- those wiggles actually mean something). I kind of wish I had actually looked at this when making my sticky instead of going by memory, but my memory was pretty close.

OK, so we start and it's the usual jockeying for position and me cursing to myself as I try to get around folks. I shot out a little quick though and backed off after ~400 meters. I had used bah-bump electrode cream to get good readings from the get go and the first one I saw was 168. Holy crap!!!! I convinced myself it wasn't real and when I started sweating it would settle down. It didn't. I average 173 on the second mile. WTF! Surely the HRM must be messed up.

I hit the "2" mile at 13:40. I was quick but the downhill was much more downhill than I remembered. OK, settle down and just run goal pace, I told myself. Mile 3 was 7:32/171. I should be at ~167 at this point. I'm 4 beats high and six seconds slow. I caught up with Jesse and talked to him a bit. I hoped to be able to run with him a while, but we weren't going the pace I needed. That mile was 7:39/172. I'm 4 beats above normal and 13 secs/mile slow! I'm am beside myself. What was all this training for? What the hell happened. My only choice now is to get on pace and wait for the inevitable blow up. I said something to Jesse like "well, I'll just have to average a higher number I guess." The next mile was 7:27/174. Back on pace but I'm paying dearly for the effort. I was also kind of yoyo-ing in my pace and seeing HRs as high as 177. I was distraught. How can this be happening? I was running 7:30s in the 150s on the track. I consult my stick at 5 and at 36:20, I'm right on the even pace scheme, but I used up the 20 second cushion on the opening downhill in just the last 3 miles.

I scouted around for someone to pace off of, hoping just to think about running. In these situations I usually look for two kinds of runners -- women and age group runners. Young guys are the worst. I found a woman and followed her for about a mile. We must have had a little wind in our face (just a little) because I remember wishing she were taller. 7:25/173 for that mile. A little better, but 173 is still not good at all. (Looking at the elevation profile, it turns out this was just a flatter mile.) Unfortunately, I could tell the woman I was following was losing pace.

At this point, the miracle in a green shirt passes me -- a guy in his 50s running like a swiss clock. This was my ticket. I settled in behind him and it was even better than I thought. He was just a little shorter than me and running almost exactly the same cadence. The next mile (also flat) was 7:23/172. It's early to be at 172, but that was going to be my number. I just followed the guy in the green shirt for the next couple of miles. 7:31/172, 7:28/172. I'm a little slow of the 7:27s, but I'm in the ball park and just hope to make it up on the downhill.

You can start to feel and see the climb starting at mile 9 at it continues until the turnaround. Green shirt leaves me a little, but I stick to my 172 heart rate. 7:37/172, 7:34/173. The race director warned us the parks service had moved mile 12 south 300 feet and it was 7:09/172, which I figured was 7:34 based on 50 secs/600 feet. Mile 13 was long -- 7:51/173 (7:26 by my logic) -- but I didn't even look at this split. I was looking at my sticky. I was at 1:36:22 and my sticky said 1:35:50 was an even pace 3:15:00. I'm 32 seconds behind. I figured ~ 5 secs/mile below pace on the downhill would have me even at 20. It didn't quite work that way.

I turned the corner at the turnaround and wwwhhhheeeeee a downhill! I chatted to green shirt briefly as I passed. I didn't even take the next two splits. 13-16 was 21:42/173 (7:14 pace). I figured I chopped off my 30 seconds right there. These miles were great. I was flying past everyone. The people at the water stops were telling me I looked great and I believed them! 7:17/174, 7:23/173, 7:21/175. A few relay runners fly by but no marathoners. One of the relayer slows a little and chats with me at around 19. He says I look great. My muscles are really starting to ache now from the pounding. I feel like I have something in the tank. I feel about like Frederick and mile 19 or a little better even. Mile 20 was 7:24/176. I consult my sticky. 2:57:55 is what I need for 3:15 flat. I'm at 2:27:31. 24 big seconds in the bank! I vow not to give it up by my next sticky check at mile 24. I'm going to need those 24 and the 59 the BAA gives me to deal with the finishing hills.

The fun of the downhill ends at 20. 20 is basically flat although I thought it was a little uphill at the time. We also get a little bit of a headwind. Like they cliche goes, this is where the real work begins. Mile 21 was 7:25/177. Almost all the people I'm passing are jogging or walking now. The few who are faster are harder to deal with because I just want to fall in behind them. My mantra is "just run the number" meaning keep the Garmin at 7:2X. (The mantra quickly turns to "run the f***ing number!")

My legs are aching and I feel like I'm overstriding and my hamstrings are taking the beating. Another little miracle occured when I passed a pack of three. I think they were pacing a buddy because they were saying "just moves your arms and your legs will follow." Hey, great advice! "Move your arms and run the f***ing number!" 7:31/177, 7:25/177.

5k to go. I thought of coolrunner JimmyB's advice that the last 5k should feel like a 5k. 7:25/178. I'm at 24. My sticky says 2:57:40. I'm at 2:57:18. 22 seconds. I only gave up 2 seconds of my bank. I'm very proud of this.

At this point a guy is passing me, but it's not a relayer. It's a marathoner! Are you kidding me? Another miracle. He's going faster than me, but I sorta latch on and at least keep in my sight. I swear having him save me 10 seconds in the next mile. I'm waiting for my fate when we turn off the trail, but we stay on longer than I remember. Every downhill step on the trail is a gift.

Finally the turn off. It's almost a disaster as my new friend and I are barreling past a volunteer who belatedly says turn right at the bridge. I plant my foot and turn 90 degrees on a dime to just make the far side of the bridge. If I had to backtrack even a step at that point it would been a huge blow. I look across the bridge and think, "I wish I coulda run that tangent."

We're on the road now and no hills yet. When do these come. Just short of the 25-mile marker you see this wall in front you. Looking at the elevation from last year, it's about 60-70 feet in 0.2 miles That's like a 6% grade. Some friendly bikers are passing and say, "Gee what point in the marathon are you guys at." One of the marathoners who's slowed to a jog wryly points at the 25-mile marker. "Sorry," the bikers say. The split was 8:01/180. (Turns out this was 7:29 pace.) I wasn't watching the number during this mile I guess (probably watching my new friend) and I'm not sure whether this is the long mile or not. If it's not the long mile then I just pissed away 35 seconds and I'm in deep s***. I enter desperation mode.

Now to this hill. I charge up this thing. I'm not letting this slip away. No chance. My heart rate spikes well into the 180s. (Looking at the data, I hit 186 at the top.) Still this sucker is so steep that my lap pace (which I just reset at the bottom) slides to over 9 min/mi! Down the other side we go. I run as fast and with the best form I can. Another wall. I charge up again. My hands suddenly get cold and start to tingle as a I run up. I'm in full on freight train breathing now (about one breath per step) and my hands (still in gloves) are freezing! We flatten a little and then up another climb (longer but not as steep).

Where the hell is the school? My brain isn't quite working. The Garmin says 7:4X. I can piss away 20 seconds but is it right? I'm 7+ minutes into mile 25 and I don't see the marker. My brain isn't working and I think I should see that finish. I think that somehow I've blow it and I'm minutes away. I don't realize there's another .2 in a marathon I guess. It does dawn on me after I hit the mile marker that there's another .2, but where's the school? My split was 8:18/183. [Turns out this mile was long, too. 7:45 pace]

At this point I have no idea whether I've made it, but I'm going to "sprint" (as best I can) to the finish because I am absolutely not going to miss it by a second or two. Finally the school! I turn left in the driveway and -- is that a 15? It is, 3:15:13 and ticking. I'm going to make it. I run through and see 3:15:20 on the clock. A woman with my medal says "Congratulations!" All I can muster is (in a distant monotone), "My hands are so cold." Looking concerned she says, "You ought to get a blanket." 10 steps later and I'm fine.

I hung around forever afterwards. Talked to Jesse and all the friends who saved me -- green shirt, the relayers, etc. They asked me if I got my 3:15 and I said "Yes!" I met someone on runningahead who ran 2:58 and got his sub-3! The soup was great. The coke was great. My age group was a juggernaut. I finished 6th -- a mere 11 minutes behind 5th. The hip didn't hurt at all! And the runner's knee that had been puffy after every substantial run for the last two months wasn't the least bit swollen.

When I got home, I watched the Ga - Ga Tech game I Tivo'd. My son had a great poker face while we watched together and didn't give away the ending. I was convinced my Yellow Jackets would lose until the very last second, but they didn't! 45-42, Tech. They beat the hated Dogs in an incredible comeback (down 28-12 at halftime). Coach Paul Johnson for President!


I did it! (with 34 secs to spare even)

I had an off day just like the last two long runs, but I sucked it up and made it happen. Even pace. Smart race.

I'll post more when the kiddies aren't breathing down my neck.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm thankful for...

NSAIDS. I tried some "Vitamin I" yesterday and I could feel some small improvement in my hip (feel more like hip flexors than piriformis today). I should have been taking ibuprofen for weeks! At this point it's not going to make a dent, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I've never been this fit, the weather should be perfect (upper-30s, lower 40s, no wind), and it's a fast course. Course/conditions alone should buy me 2-3 minutes over Frederick's 3:21. On the other hand, I've never gone into a marathon with this much of an injury, so I'm apprehensive to say the least. I guess I have to have something to worry about!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

last run

My schedule called for 4 miles with 1 @ MP and 1 @ HMP.

I did the whole run at the high school track. My heart rate monitor was way, way off during the warmup (before I broke a sweat) and I threw an extra warmup lap in hoping that the HRM would settle down, but it didn't. I took several splits thinking it had settled down, but I don't think it was tracking until the 4th lap.

Time Distance Pace HR
11:04 2000m 8:57 195
3:42 800m 7:27 181 -- 3:15:09 pace; HRM obviously messed up
1:52 400m 7:31 165 -- HRM still messed up
1:50 400m 7:23 157 -- tracking
3:32 800m 7:06 163
3:31 800m 7:05 169
8:42 1600m 8:45 145

The MP was very easy. It felt considerably easier than my usual opening mile of a marathon, so that was heartening. The HR on the last 800 of the HM pace was disturbing though. The last 1600 of my 2 x 2 miles on Monday was 6:52/168 which is way, way better than that. Some of this might just be my HR ranges coming back to normal.

I think my pace versus hr gets a little skewed when I include more intensity. I'm not necessarily faster when my pace/hr improves because I can't necessarily sustain a high heart rate for as long. For instance, the first time I did Pfitz (and was in over my head), I averaged 177 bpm during a tune-up 10k and then averaged 182 bpm in a 10 miler later that spring. My marathons have been remarkably consistent at 172 or 173 bpm, but there's always been a taper before them.

On the knee front, I didn't notice it today. It's not completely better, but it's not a concern.

The hip thing is a concern. Today I felt it mainly in my lower back at the base of my spine and at the top of my butt. Then I felt it in my groin on the cooldown. Very strange. It must be some kind of muscle imbalance. My toe didn't know which way it wanted to point on each stride as the various muscles battled it out when my foot came off the ground. I came home and tried a few stretches before I got tired of them. Hopefully endorphins will get me through. I seriously considered dropping out of the Frederick marathon when my right hip got very tight and increasingly painful from 8 to about 15 (and felt better when I hit the real hills). My guess is I'll have some kind of rough patch like that but make it through. There's also a fair chance I laugh because I don't feel it at all on race day.

My schedule calls for 2 miles tomorrow, but I don't really see the point of going to the trouble.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Forecast looks great, but my butt hurts. Forecast is now for the low 40s and 8 mph winds. Woohoo!

My injury thingy, which I'm calling piriformis, is rather disturbing though. The "discomfort" has shifted around and I'm going to take that as a positive sign since there isn't a point in doing otherwise. The way the course is laid out, I think I'll be OK if I can just make it to the turnaround (and start of the downhill) in decent shape hip-wise. The gradual grind of the 1% uphill is what worries me. Uphills are noticeably more troublesome and with the constant grade, hitting the same muscle in the same way could be bad.

My 4 miles easy this morning was kind of odd. My HR was ridiculously high even after discarding the first goofed up HRM split. 139? That should be more like 133.

Time Distance Split time Split distance Split pace Avg. HR
09:18 1.00 9:18 1.00 9:18 166 (83%)
18:17 2.00 8:58 1.00 8:58 134 (67%)
27:18 3.00 9:01 1.00 9:03 139 (69%)
36:21 4.00 9:02 1.00 9:04 136 (68%)
36:43 4.04 0:22 0.04 8:55 140 (70%)

Glancing at my HRM though the average didn't seem to really match the instantaneous values. Looking at the graph with elevation and HR, it doesn't really make sense. I've thought my battery was going for the last couple of weeks when I've had some weirdness, so I went ahead and bought new batteries today.

I hate tapering. It's a constant battle to balance healing your legs and maintaining your fitness. I feel like a total slug by race day. I sometimes wonder if the guys who just run lots of marathons don't have the right idea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I'm beginning to think that's what my butt, hip, back, thigh (and now groin) pain is. I can feel this ache deep in my "gluts" (don't snicker!) that feels like it's where my femur meets my hip. I know I'm under the effects of taper madness, but this is getting kind of disturbing. It seems to be causing all sorts of other problems and while it certainly won't result in a DNS, I'm worried about it holding up for 26.2. Of course, I say there's a 50-50 chance I don't feel it at all Saturday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

week of 17 November

Mo - Rest
Tu - 10.30 1:26:56 8:27 144 (72%)
We - 10.72 1:26:11 8:02 148 (74%)
Th - 5.00 0:45:53 9:11 133 (67%)
Fr - 5.90 0:52:46 8:56 137 (68%)
Sa - 13.43 1:54:11 8:30 152 (76%) -- HRM messed up 1st two miles
Su - Rest
Wk - 45.35 6:25:57 8:31 145 (72%)

I moved the long run up to Sat to put it a week before the marathon and then didn't know what to do with Friday's workout. Thinking that less was more, I didn't an easy six and avoided the back-to-back hard days. Yesterday, I said I'd run 5 today, but I decided that was just some strange need to get over 50 miles and I'd stick with the off day following a "long" run. This leaves me with 45 for the week. Yikes!

Besides over analysis, what are the other symptoms of taper madness?
  • New aches and pains. Check! When you cut back the miles, it's like you've removed the all-over, general dull ache from your body and suddenly every little joint and muscle wants to complain about what you've been doing to them for the last 6 months.
  • Germ phobia. Check! I ran on a hotel treadmill and Thursday and after rubbing my eyes realized I'd probably rubbed the sweat of a thousand guests in there. I have a tickle in my throat today, but I'm pretty sure that's from raking leaves yesterday.
  • Checking the long-range forecast. Check! According to NOAA, it should be 36 at 9am and 42 at noon (start is 9:30). I'll take it! 10 mph wind from the NW. It's basically a north-south out and back (with 7 miles NW), so that could suck, but it's in the woods and somewhat sheltered. Plus, I'd much rather have the wind at my back in the second half. Notice how I pretend like a 7-day forecast means anything? A sure sign of taper madness!
Here is the official plan. It's a semi-steep downhill first two miles, 1% uphill grade for 11 miles, 1% down for 11, then semi-steep uphill last two. I'll hit the turnaround at 3:14 pace and then bank a minute (5 secs/mile) on the downhill to give myself a couple of minutes before getting to the uphill.

One race-day plan I can't quite figure is eating. While I usually don't eat anything on marathon morning, I'm not sure it's a good idea with the race starting at 9:30.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the outside looking in again?

Another sub-par run has me wondering if I've peaked too early and am now on the outside of 3:15 looking in. How can I be the guy who easily did 17 w/ 13 @ 7:14 pace a few weeks ago?

Today, according to my Garmin, I did 13.4 and the last 2.5 in which I attempted to run at marathon pace were 7:32/165, 7:26/169, and 3:47 (7:34)/170. What the hell? When I did my MP pace run three weeks ago, my last three miles (after running 10 at MP!) were 7:10/169, 7:04/167, and 7:06/168.

Arrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. My excuses -- which do not app up 20 to 30 secs/mile -- are that
  • my Garmin doesn't seem to be completely accurate on the trail. The conventional wisdom is that it's 4.6 miles around, but my Garmin reads 4.5 per last lap. [A friend road a calibrated bike around and got 4.57. Another guy claims a cross country team wheeled it at 4.60.] That's a 1.5-2 % difference, which doesn't seem like much, but that's 7-9 secs at 7:30 pace.
  • it was pretty windy. Sustained 15-20 and gusting to 25-30 mph. It wasn't really in my face the whole time, but since it was from the WNW and since my half lap at MP took me from the east to the west side of the like, I guess it was net in my face.
  • it was 27 degrees. Cold is better than hot, but I recognize that at some point, you do lose something when it's cold. I was wearing two shirts, tights, and a water bottle holder. It was in the 50s and very low humidity on the previous MP run.
After going through the excuses, I feel a *little* better, but still not happy. Blech. I'll have another track workout between now and the marathon. Hopefully that will lift my spirits.

I think I'll do 5 miles easy tomorrow, which will just get me to 50 for the week. It's been a long time since I've seen a number that low.

The hip definitely took a hit from the 13 miles today, but on average it seems to be improving. Balancing the miles to keep fit while getting healthy is definitely tough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take it easy

Tues - 10.3 @ 8:27
- skipped the Tues night double

Wed - 10.7 w/ 2x3 mile - 7:27/148, 7:13/157, 7:10/159; 7:16/156, 7:16/160, 7:18/160
- normally these would be faster, but I felt like the Tin Man without his oil

Ok, now cue the Eagles music...

This morning I ran 5 on a treadmill in a St Louis hotel. I got up to 6.6 mph (9:05) after a couple of minutes and left it there. HR settled at 130 plus or minus for the run. I haven't run on a treadmill in a long time and it was weird to run that easily at that pace. Things are qualitatively different than they were 6 months ago.

I'm back and after endless debating in my head, I'll do another easy 6 or so with some strides tomorrow. My schedule calls for 2 x 2.5 at HM, but I want to move my long run to Saturday since my marathon is on a Saturday and that seemed like too much back-to-back. At this point I'm guessing less is more.

On the knee/hip front, the hip was much better this morning. The knee still sucks, but I don't expect that to get better until after the marathon. I picked up a pain on the top of my left foot a couple of days ago. I think that side is just so screwed up now that the three joints (hip, knee, ankle) just aren't working well together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the knee says he's #1

After I gave the nod to the hip as the #1 injury, the knee fought back this morning. It wasn't too bad though. I'm kind of use to it, although I will be happy when it no longer has that constant slight puffiness and is more like his taut friend on the right.

The hip thing has now spread to my lower back but it seems to be a duller ache. (I believe it's my gluteus medius that's bothering me.) From what I've read on hips, they often stem from weak back muscles and people like me not doing their core exercises. I'm pretty confident I'll shake this.

Today was a little less than 11 at base pace on my usual course that I haven't done in about 3 weeks (veteran's day, out of town, etc.). The pace was 8:27 and hr 143, so I think I'm back to normal in that regard. I have a new explanation for the poor weekend runs. I think I was under the weather. Yesterday I was just in a total fog.

I'm tapering, so no Tuesday double today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

week of 10 November

Mo - Rest
Tu AM - 10.95 1:32:43 8:28 148 (74%)
Tu PM - 4.95 0:46:33 9:25 134 (67%)
We - 9.28 1:13:40 7:56 156 (78%)
Th - 5.85 0:55:47 9:32 133 (66%)
Fr - 10.81 1:23:59 7:46 153 (77%)
Sa - 5.31 0:49:28 9:19 135 (68%)
Su - 17.99 2:36:13 8:41 149 (74%)
Week - 65.14 9:18:23 8:34 146 (73%)
Last - 71.14 10:01:47 8:28 142 (71%)
The taper started today with a shorter long run -- 4 laps around the lake instead of 5. It was blech. I'm not sure what to blame it on, but I'm hoping I haven't passed my peak. I stayed up to late Fr and Saturday, ate crap last night, and maybe the oddly warm weather yesterday threw me off. Today was 45 and pretty windy. The only decent excuse is the wind. I was out there from roughly 9 to 12 and the hourly report of winds/gusts from wunderground was 15 mph/29, 23/32, 16/28, and 16/27. Still it's hard to explain. My fourth lap last week was 8:19 pace @ 151 versus 8:44 @ 152 today. That's 25 seconds per mile!

This was really an annoying run. My hip bothered me the whole time and I felt like I wasn't running efficiently. The hip, the wind, and the trail made me feel like I never got a groove. While I thought I definitely could have qualified if I'd run a marathon last week, I'm sure I couldn't have today. The marathon gods are fickle.

The hip thing is my #1 injury concern now. The pain is where my hip meets my thigh and I feel it from all sides (front, side, back) at various times. Hopefully the increased taper this week will help. I'm planning to do roughly the same thing except drop the mid-week double and shorter the Sunday run to two laps. That should be about 55 miles, which is frankly so low that it scares me a little bit. We'll see if I can stick with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

an "easy" 5

Hot and humid today.

My hr/pace splits last Saturday and today (same route):

08 November - 9:51/123, 8:56/125, 9:07/127, 9:26/ 131, 9:08/128, 9:08/125
15 November - 9:48/142, 8:57/127, 9:08/135, 9:23/136, 9:17/134, 9:28/140

The first split today is probably a screwing HRM, but the rest should be accurate since I was sweating like a pig! Checked the temps and it was 64 deg and dew pt of 62.6. Hey, isn't it mid-November?

I've developed a mild pain in my left hip/butt. I really felt it in the turns on the track yesterday. I should probably be careful tomorrow, so I doubt I'll do a full 13 at MP. Either half that or none of that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday musing

The Friday tradition of 2 x 3 miles at "HM" pace continued today. Below are the last two times I've done this:
  • 10/24/2008: 19' warmup; 4800 in 7:00/156, 6:58/162, 6:55/165; 800m rest; 4800 in 6:46/165, 6:47/170, 6:49/170; 19' cooldown
  • 11/14/2008: 19' warmup; 4800 in 6:55/157, 6:48/166, 6:46/169; 800m rest; 4800 in 6:51/165, 6:49/169, 6:51/171; 19' cooldown
The first one looks better to my eye. In what probably really matters for the marathon though, my second (11/9) burke lake 5-lapper (23 miles) was signficantly better than my first (10/19) -- 8:45/152 versus 8:34/148.

Ah, taper madness. I still can't decide what to do on Sunday for my long run. Probably 17 or 18 miles (depending on the course I choose), but I can't decide how much at MP. There's also a 10K I could run. Hey, Bob Glover has a 10k two weeks out in his schedule!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Glad I didn't run Richmond

Forecast is 67 degrees at 7am on Saturday. How's that for 15 November? My odds of warm weather go way down with the extra two weeks between Richmond and my marathon. Of course the odds of having temps in the teens go up too!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

hangin' on

The knee is, well, not too good. It ain't that bad though. I've got this week muscle strain in the bottom of my right foot (don't think it's PF). My weight is headed in the wrong direction, too. I counted calories and got to 160, stopped counting, and got to 163 in a heartbeat. I said you could ridicule me if I weren't 155 and didn't qualify for Boston. The offer still stands, but I think I just might have it this time.

I ran 11 at ~8:30 on Tuesday AM, and 5 really easy Tues PM. I was really unmotivated to go out last night. I just felt like I'd rather be doing something else with the 45 minutes. Once I got out there, my mind wandered, and I wondered why it was so hard to get out the door.

Then this morning, I modified my mixed intervals, substituting the 1k @ 5k pace and 800m @ 3k pace with another 2k @ 10k pace. This is sort of a compromise. I think the point of the fast stuff is to keep in touch with your speed, but I never developed any to keep in touch with. HM pace is really good for marathon training per Hudson and damn it if I don't agree :-) I've also decided that 10k pace is just plain good for me and I'm not letting it go just yet.

I felt tired going in and wore way too much clothing. It was supposed to be 36 (when I paced) but I think it was more like 45. I was wearing sweaty gloves by the time I reached the track. During the intervals my heart rate seemed higher than before, but now looking at the "data" it's pretty close.

Today: 3200m in 6:56/159, 6:50/167, 2000m in 8:10/173, 2000m in 8:10/175.
Last Tues: 3200m in 6:56/159, 6:44/167, 2000m in 8:07/172, 1000m in 3:54 (6:17)/176, 800m in 3:00 (6:02)/178

It was worse today, but not that much different. I was a little afraid I might be slipping based on how I felt this morning, but looking at the above, I can't jump to that conclusion.

My taper is really going to start with my long run this weekend (two weeks out). I did 23 last Sunday. I can't decide what to do this week. Here's a tour of book wisdom.

  • "Brain training" calls for 17 w/ 13 at MP again and I just might do that.
  • Hudson says 17 easy.
  • Pfitz 12wk/70mpw says 8-10k race Sat, 17 easy Sunday. Ouch. (The race sounds fun though.)
  • DRF Marathon Training plan A says 2 x (35-40' E pace + 15-20' T pace) + 2 mi E pace. My head hurts. I'm just going to read this as 17 with a couple of fast sections, OK?

I sure own a lot of books. I might do a repeat of my Mt Vernon time trial, but slower. I also thought of driving to the course, but it's a long drive. I could also do my standard 18 mile route and either make it easy or throw in some fast parts depending on how I feel. I'm tempted to do more than 18 because 3 weeks just seems like a long time to have 18 miles be your longest run.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

week of 3 November

Mo - Rest
Tu - 9.54 1:14:44 7:50 152 (76%)
We AM - 10.80 1:30:12 8:21 140 (70%)
We PM - 5.31 0:46:47 8:48 132 (66%)
Th - 6.57 0:59:14 9:01 131 (65%)
Fr - 10.78 1:25:52 7:58 145 (73%)
Sa - 5.59 0:52:00 9:18 127 (63%)
Su - 22.54 3:12:58 8:34 148 (74%)
This Week 71.14 10:01:47 8:28 142 (71%)

Sleep, sleep, sleep. I was a bit burned out before Friday's run and scaled back the intensity. Even then I was a little afraid that I wouldn't recover before Sunday and my long run would be miserable. I got 8 or 9 hours of sleep on Friday and took Saturday's recovery run *really* easy (check out the 127 bpm average). Then on Saturday afternoon (after my son's flag football team was victorious to finish the season 5-1!), I took an absurdly long nap and followed it up with another 8 or 9 hours of sleep on Saturday night.

All of the sleep must have helped because after I got going this morning, I felt great. I cranked out 5 steady laps at Burke Lake (23 miles) in relatively easy fashion. The only hiccup was my shoes. I ran the first lap in the Free 5.0v1 that I just bought four cheap pairs of and it felt like running on a golf ball. Doh! Luckily I brought the trusty Mizunos and switched back to them.

I'm hoping that 3:12:58 time for my long run today is a sign.

Friday, November 07, 2008

worse than hitting the wall

I saw this on the Baltimore Road Runners Club web site

"Bowhunting season has begun in Maryland and continues until January 31, 2009. This year the Loch Raven Watershed is open to hunters, so BRRC reminds trail runners as well as users of the NCR Trail to wear bright colors. Trail runners may also want to consider alternate venues that are not open to hunting."

The NCR trail is where I'm running the marathon. Something worse than hitting the wall to worry about.

Today's run was bizarre. Feeling beat up, I decide to do the usual Friday 2 x 3 miles, but not run < 7 min/mi like I had. The 1600m splits for the fast sections were 7:11/152, 7:14/156, 7:13/157 and 7:18/156, 7:21/158, 7:30/158. Unreal. My body must be in a weird state. If not, 7:26 is going to feel like jogging. Right not my plan is to run BQ pace (or maybe a minute faster) for the first half and then negative split. I definitely need to bank a couple of minutes for the last two steep uphill miles.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

just beat up

I think the MP on Sunday along with switching my track workout from Wed to Tue (to accomodate work travel) put me over the edge. Combine that with a lack of sleep from the time change and I am just beat up. Saturday is 3 weeks to go. I wish I believed in long tapers, because I could use one.

I manage to squeeze in 3 runs total 22 miles during my 3 days of meetings. The hotel was next to a golf community and there was a very nice 3.3 asphalt loop that was pretty flat and essentially uninterrupted. HRs paces were nice on the flats. 90' @ 8:21/140, 46' @ 8:48/132, and 59' @ 9:01/131.

I'm planning to cut out the stuff faster than HM pace and I think that will help me. Hudson's sharpening phases doesn't have it anyway. Fitzgerald maintains the mixed intervals (3200 @ HM, 2000 @ 10k, 1000 @ 5k, and 800 @ 3k), but I swear the 3k and 5k pace kills me more than anything.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

week of 27 October

Today I did a "marathon pace" run. The Brain Training schedule called for a half marathon tune-up today or time trial. Well, there wasn't a half marathon and I wasn't going to time trial one. Plus, I think a half would be too much of a disruption for me.

My plan was to head to the Mt. Vernon bike trail and run the potomac river run marathon course. It's a double out and back marathon and there's a permanent marker at the turnaround (10.5 k from the start). What pace should I do the 21k? Well, I'm a wimp and planned to run 7:20 pace even if that were below marathon hr as I expected it would be from the track. Still, this is a pretty hilly course. The race web page says, "Many flat stretches, some rolling terrain, two notable hills. This is not a flat course." That's about right. In some places the "rolling terrain" is pretty short and steep, which makes it hard to get in a groove.

Anyway, the first 7:20 went nice on the flat and even up the first hill. I kept even pace up the first hill and then kept up the effort, zooming down the other side in 6:59. I ended up running closer to marathon pace then I planned. Here are the splits. (You can see that it's pretty hilly from the lack of correlation between heart rate and pace in some sections.)

warmup - 9:24/154, 9:07/131 -- wonky HRM first mile
7:18/155, 7:18 /162, 7:14/164, 6:59/164, 7:09/166,
7:02/168, 7:15/168, 7:09/167, 7:31/168,7:18/167,
7:10/169, 7:04/167, 7:06/168, 0:45/171 (0.10)
cooldown - 8:47/153, 8:28/150

Splits from Frederick for marathon heart rate reference:
7:35/157, 7:21/168, 7:31/170, 7:34/169, 7:26/170,
7:26/171, 7:23/171, 7:28/171, 7:34/171, 7:32/171,
7:26/172, 7:38/172, 7:43/172, 7:40/173, 7:31/173,
7:29/173, 8:04/173, 7:35/173, 8:14/174, 7:53/174,
7:42/173, 7:56/173, 7:57/174, 7:40/176, 8:10/176,
7:58/175, 2:24/180.

So I did 21k in 1:34:25 or 7:14 per mile. (My half PR pace is 7:08!) The heart rates correspond to a very conservatively paced marathon. By mile 13, I would normally be solidly in the 170s (172 or so), but I'm not sure I could have turned around and done it again. My breathing was 2-2 from the beginning. This is something I probably need to get used to. I used to associate 2-2 breathing with 10 mile pace, but clearly I ran 13 without a problem. I'm now unsure whether to go with my normal marathon heart rate pacing or not. I'd hate to reach for too much and fail to BQ, but I don't want to leave too much on the table either

Here's the week.

Mo - Rest
Tu AM - 10.31 1:27:05 8:27 147 (74%)
Tu PM - 5.01 0:45:21 9:03 135 (67%)
We - 9.46 1:15:25 7:59 157 (78%)
Th - 6.02 0:57:56 9:38 133 (66%)
Fr AM - 1.11 0:10:26 9:23 153 (76%)
Fr AM 9.51 1:14:08 7:48 153 (77%) -- same run, had to reset Garmin
Fr PM 4.95 0:44:38 9:01 142 (71%)
Sa - 5.44 0:50:34 9:18 130 (65%)
Su - 17.10 2:10:13 7:37 160 (80%)
This Week 68.91 9:35:46 8:21 148 (74%)

Mileage was below 70 again. Gotta watch that! Getting in my running this week is going to be challenging, but I'll get it done.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

mixed intervals

Today's mixed intervals went 2+ mile wup plus 3200m in 6:56/159, 6:44/167, 2000m in 8:07 (6:32)/172, 1000m in 3:54 (6:17)/176, 800m in 3:00 (6:02)/178, 2+ mile cdn.

Last Wednesday was: 7:04/158, 6:57/165; 6:36/170; 3:56/174; 3:03/176

About the same. Today, my heart rates were a little higher for the last two intervals, but I ran the 10k pace for 2000m instead of 1600 and I ran the second 1600 of HM pace significantly faster than last week.

I really felt like I grooved on the second 1600 of HM pace. I'm calling it HM pace because I'd be happy to run a half at 6:44, but I've averaged ~167 for the second mile of most of my marathons.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10 at base pace -- calf is doing fine

I took an off day yesterday. I'm thinking those things might actually be good for you. I felt a bit like the tin man this morning, but none of the aches were in my calf, which I tweaked on Sunday's long run. By the end, I could feel a bit of a dull ache, but no tugging sensation, so I think I'm good to head to the track tomorrow. I haven't quite figured out what I'll do. I'm not sure I should do anything faster than HM pace. I might swap Wed and Fri and do the long threshold runs tomorrow.

Quite by accident, I've settled into Matt Fitgerald's "Brain Training" schedule. I really like what he tells you to do, but I *really* don't like the way he tells you to do it. All the pseudo-science and marketing really turns me off. The plan is basically two workouts (with lots of mixed intervals), a long run, one off day a week, optional doubles of 20-60' four days a week plus some drills and core work. The workouts get more race specific as you approach your goal race with lots of HM pace for the marathon. It's a lot like Canova and Hudson (who he co-authored a book with), but I think it targets a slow guy like me a little better. Canova uses a hypothetical 3' per km marathoner (the US has had two in history I think -- KK and Ryan Hall) and Hudson's hypothetical guy ends with running a 2:39 marathon. I know I can use the principles, but I'd like to be led a little closer to the water.

I used "base pace" to describe today's run as Fitzgerald does, but it was basically a moderate run (Daniels would call it E pace). I did 8:27 pace (146 bpm average) -- same pace as Sunday. It dawned on me that it's a little faster than I raced my first 10 miler in April 2005.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

week of 26 October

Mo - Rest
Tu am - 10.34 1:28:31 8:34 144 (72%)
Tu pm - 5.01 45:07 9:00 147 (73%)
We - 9.27 1:14:53 8:05 150 (75%)
Th- 5.48 0:52:36 9:36 135 (67%)
Fr - 10.70 1:24:59 7:56 149 (75%)
Sa - 6.00 0:55:53 9:19 133 (67%)
Su - 22.28 3:07:47 8:26 149 (75%)
This Week 69.09 9:49:46 8:32 146 (73%)

Everyone who ran MCM today should thank me for the perfect weather since I didn't run today. It was 44 degrees when I started my long run and only 54 at 10:30 when I finished.

My legs felt fresh and this was a very easy run. BUT, at about 10 miles, I took a turn and felt a pinch on the medial side of my left achilles. The pinch grew into a dull ache over time and I could feel each footfall. Fortunately, I don't think it's my achilles. I believe it's the muscle between your achilles and medial ankle (to make up a term) that you stretch if you rotate your foot out and lift your toes. Muscles heal better than tendons and I believe this is the same injury as I had in April. I was able to run through that, so hopefully I'll have the same good fortune this time.

Aside from the injury, the run was perfect. If I'd run MCM today, I'm about 90% sure I'd have qualified. I ran 22.3 at 8:25 pace and 149 bpm. My old rule of thumb was MP is 80 secs faster than my 20-mile run pace at 149 bpm (I lock in on that in these runs). On the way back from the lake I picked it up and my miles were 7:59/152, 8:17/159, 7:56/161, 7:44/162, 7:52/162, 8:06/164, 7:57/166. The last two miles are significantly uphill. I like this route because it simulates the last 2 uphill miles of the marathon I'm running and I never like to give in and slow up too much on those miles.

69 was pretty decent mileage for the week with a complete off-day on Monday. I didn't get in the second double I was hoping for to push me over 70 for the week, but that's all right. I'm probably better off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a couple of good workouts


After a day off on Monday and a moderate Tuesday, I was ready to do a workout on Wednesday and felt a little more spring in my step, so I decided to try some faster running again. I tried a workout from Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training book. The workout is 2@HM, 1@10K, 1k@5k, 800m@3k with 400m rest. (I also did 2 miles wup + 2 miles cdn) The workout is basically in between the 4M@HM + 2M@10k and the 10k->1500m pace ladder interval from Hudson's book.

I didn't have much of a plan on pace. The math was easy for 6:56 pace (52 per 200), so I shot for that. It was dark for the first mile and I couldn't see my watch well, but hit 7:04. The next 1600 was 6:56. After that, I just tried to take a couple of second off per 200 for each subsequent interval and they were 6:36, 3:56 (6:19), and 3:03 (6:08).

As it turns out, the paces were pretty damn close to what McMillan would predict from my 68:49 10M race in the spring. McMillan says 6:05, 6:22, 6:36, and 6:59 for 3k, 5k, 10k, and HM. I ran 6:08, 6:19, 6:38, and 7:02 per mile.


I did a very easy 5 and some really short drills. Like 3 x 10-15 seconds of skipping, high knees, butt kicks, and strides. It's amazing how awkward skipping was the first time and how natural it was on the third set.


I figured Fitzgerald worked so well on Wednesday, I stole his HM pace cruise intervals. He actually builds up to 2 x 4.5 w/800m by this point in his schedule, but I settled on 2 x 3 miles -- sounded plenty hard. I shot for <= 7:00 per mile. After a 2+-mile wup, the first 3 miles went 7:00/157, 6:53/164, 6:53/165. This was very easy. My marathon heart rate average 172. Knowing that 6:52 is 3-hour pace, I had the notion that someday I might actually run sub-3 (not this time!). The next three were pretty routine also, although the heart rate continued to climb: 6:54/163, 6:56/167, 6:56/169. Another 2+ miles for 10.7 total and 7:56/149 bpm pace overall.


I'm really interested in seeing how my long run goes on Sunday. I'm thinking of throwing some goal MP in there to see how it feels. To get an accurate reading maybe I'll run on the Mt Vernon bike path. There are a few permanent markers (4k and 10.5k) from races they hold there. I could do 10.5k out, 10.5k back easy, then 4k out and 4k back at MP.


I need to stop eating! I'm 2 pounds up from my low a week or two ago. If I weren't running well, it would upset me a lot more. I'm considering weight training to help me keep the pounds off. I can't run any more than I do and counting calories is too damn hard.

Monday, October 20, 2008

took a zero today

Slightly complicated logistics (probably would have had to run on the treadmill) combined with the realization that I probably ought to take a complete day off some time (my last was 23 Aug), and a vague recognition that 23 miles is a pretty long distance, motivated me to take the day off from running. Slept until 7am!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

week of 12 October

Congrats to Mindi on a great race! I know she must be thrilled with her time and negative split. It's always good to exceed expectations.

Mystery coach, bless his soul, sent me a new chart based on my workouts from last week. If I'm reading correctly, it reflects a 10 secs/mile pace increase.

Without further ado here are the stats for the week.

| Date | Dist (mi) | Time | Pace | Avg. HR |
| Monday | 6.20 | 0:57:42 | 9:18 | 124 (62%) |
| Tuesday | 9.31 | 1:21:07 | 8:43 | 138 (69%) |
| Wednesday | 12.09 | 1:49:05 | 9:02 | 133 (66%) |
| Thursday | 5.40 | 0:49:15 | 9:07 | 136 (68%) |
| Friday | 14.31 | 2:01:38 | 8:30 | 148 (74%) |
| 6:23 AM | 11.33 | 1:34:03 | 8:18 | 150 (75%) |
| 6:22 PM | 2.98 | 0:27:35 | 9:16 | 141 (70%) |
| Saturday | 5.38 | 0:49:25 | 9:11 | 138 (69%) |
| Sunday | 22.51 | 3:17:03 | 8:45 | 152 (76%) |
| This Week | 75.19 | 11:05:15 | 8:51 | 142 (71%) |
| Last Week | 71.62 | 10:29:29 | 8:47 | 141 (71%) |
| This Month | 203.00 | 30:01:42 | 8:53 | 140 (70%) |
| Last Month | 278.72 | 40:44:19 | 8:46 | 143 (71%) |
My heart rate was inexplicably high on Friday PM and Saturday. I brushed off Friday because I never run well in the afternoon and the HRM messed up the first mile. Nevertheless the last mile of that run was 9:27/136, which isn't good. Then Saturday, was OK, I suppose (the 138 avg mostly comes from a wonky HRM -- 167 bpm first split), but it still wasn't quite right.

I did 23 today. Well, the garmin gave me credit for 22.5, but the conventional wisdom (and my friend's calibrated bike) say Burke Lake is 4.6 per lap and I did 5 laps. I had to thread the needle timewise to get this one in because my wife is out of town and I had 3' 40'' between dropping the kids off and picking them up. 10 minutes from drop off until running and a 10 minute ride to pick up left 3:20 for the run, so the goal was sub-40 per lap (a little under to allow for bathroom breaks and water refills). The laps went 39:57/140, 39:39/145, 39:03/149, 38:56/156, 39:27/164.

Except for the length (22.5 versus 20), this was almost an exact replica of this run on April 13 (3 weeks before my 3:21 at Frederic). In fact, through 4 laps, my times were 2:37:35 today and 2:37:32 then. The third lap today was 38:56/156 versus 38:27/157 then. In other words, I'm the same (or maybe a little slower).

I really felt like I had lost some of my recent mojo from the beginning of this run. The HR seemed too high for the pace given my recent expectations. You have time to think while you run and my slightly runny nose, tight chest rekindled a theory about why I've drastically underperformed at MCM for 3 years -- maybe it's mid- to late-October allergies. This is almost the exact time of year that I follow a confidence-boosting workout (10/16/07) with a bad long run (10/21/07).

I do take one positive from today. Despite the fact I didn't quite have it in the pace/hr department, I didn't hesitate to head around for that 5th lap. My endurance seems pretty good.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Conditioning workout take 2

Time Distance Split time Split distance Split pace Avg. HR
0:09:15 1.00 9:15 1.00 9:14 177 (89%)
0:18:28 2.01 9:13 1.00 9:11 134 (67%)
0:27:06 3.01 8:37 1.00 8:38 129 (65%)
0:36:16 4.01 9:09 1.00 9:10 134 (67%)
0:38:30 4.25 2:13 0.24 9:04 133 (67%)
0:45:47 5.24 7:18 0.99 7:23 157 (78%)
0:53:06 6.24 7:18 1.00 7:21 159 (80%)
1:00:27 7.24 7:20 1.00 7:19 162 (81%)
1:07:45 8.25 7:18 1.01 7:16 165 (82%)
1:15:35 9.26 7:49 1.01 7:46 162 (81%)
1:24:32 10.25 8:56 1.00 8:57 145 (72%)
1:33:21 11.25 8:49 1.00 8:50 142 (71%)
1:34:02 11.33 0:41 0.08 9:09 139 (69%)

Basically the same run as Tuesday but faster and longer and with some "strides." I jogged to the track the long way (4.25 miles) and did 4 miles. After 7:40 pace resulted in a much lower heart rate than the Mystery Coach predicted (148 versus 163), I thought I'd quicken the pace. 7:20 was a nice round number (55 per 200m) and happened to be below my goal MP :-)

The 4 miles (1600m) were 7:18/157, 7:18/159, 7:20/162, and 7:18/165. I was very happy with the heart rates obviously (my first 4 miles at Frederick were 7:35/160, 7:21/168, 7:31/170, 7:34/169), but was a little surprised to see it jump from 162 to 165. Some of that was tiring, but I think some was also the wind. It was semi-windy the whole time, with the wind straight down the track. (Wunderground shows it was 16 mph sustained.) On the last mile it picked up a little and running into a gust saw my heart rate jump from 160 to 168 on one straight.

After the four miles, I decided (for no good reason) to work a little on my "speed." After jogging a lap, I strided down the straights and jogged the curves (6 "strides"). Then headed back (2 miles).

Jogged 3 miles after nearly being hobbled while chasing kids during flag football.

I'll be only 6 weeks out after tomorrow, so I'd like to get back to some of that HM/10k pace that seemed to do wonders for me. I know I can't go to that well too often though. Not sure what I'll do. I'm thinking I might need to do a pure speed workout (like Rubio's 200s) on Tuesday. On Friday, I could do the same conditioning workout (sans the strides) or maybe inch up the pace.
If I could do that HM/10k workout at 6:40/6:20 (and the right HRs) in a few weeks, that would be fantastic.

AM: 11.33/8:18/150 (HRM messed up 1st mile. Said 177 bpm avg.)
PM: 3 miles/9:16/141 (goofed up again)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My average pace in March was 8:55 and average HR was 143 bpm. So far in October, those numbers are 8:54 and 137.

Today I did 12 easy -- 9:02/133. Summer made a comeback as it reached the 80s this afternoon. This morning, when I ran, it was 63 deg and 97% humidity.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the (slow) beat goes on

The theme of good heart rates/paces continued today and I'm beginning to suspect it might reflect an actual (gasp) improvement in my fitness.

Tuesday is normally a workout day, but I kept it slow per the Mystery Coach's advice. He recommended 15-25' wup, 20' at 7:40, and 15-25' cdn as a conditioning workout. I padded the warmup a little and did 39' wup (long way to the track), 4800 meters at 7:43, 7:38, and 7:40 per 1600, and 19' cdn (direct route home).

The bottom line is that 7:40 pace was very easy in terms of effort and heart rate. Below are the splits

Time Distance Split time Split distance Split pace Avg. HR
0:09:50 1.01 9:50 1.01 9:42 150 (75%) -- HRM was screwed up
0:19:21 2.02 9:30 1.00 9:28 130 (65%)
0:28:07 3.02 8:45 1.00 8:46 125 (63%)
0:39:37 4.24 11:30 1.22 9:25 130 (65%)
0:47:20 5.23 7:43 0.99 7:49 145 (72%) -- 1600 on track in 7:43
0:54:59 6.22 7:38 0.99 7:43 148 (74%) -- 1600 on track in 7:38
1:02:40 7.24 7:40 1.01 7:34 148 (74%) -- 1600 on track in 7:40
1:11:38 8.23 8:58 1.00 8:59 134 (67%)
1:20:26 9.23 8:47 1.00 8:49 133 (67%)
1:21:07 9.31 0:41 0.08 9:06 133 (66%)

After the first mile on the track, I pretty much stuck at 148 bpm. That's very, very low for me. It's not even what I'd normally call an 80% run. It's barely in the high aerobic range. It also felt very easy. I was somewhere between 4-4 breathing and 3-3 breathing during the three laps. Mystery Coach said 7:40 should correspond to 163 bpm, but it wasn't close to that.

I don't think I'm overcooked or I wouldn't recover so well. Note how low my cooldown heart rate was at a pretty decent pace. I think/hope that backing off on the threshold stuff for a little bit and working on turnover will get me fresh again. I'll probably inch up the pace on these conditioning runs. I'm a little afraid of giving back what I've gained recently by backing off too much. I probably shouldn't be running 6:40 like I was, but 7:40 seems too slow.

The knee is still giving me trouble, but I did some light stretching before, during (at stoplights), and after my run that seemed to help a little.

Monday, October 13, 2008

feedback from the Mystery Coach

Perplexed by my inability to "go fast" in this workout, I emailed the Mystery Coach in the hope he might be able to figure out what went wrong and how to "fix it." MC kindly provided a detailed response, including this chart. The chart has times across the top indicating the length of time the heart rate and paces below can be held. There's a range of paces that bracket my current fitness on line 9. From the first column, I should be able to run 6:11 pace for 12:33 with an associated heart rate of 197.

MC believes my inability to get my legs to go fast comes from the inability of my upper level muscle fibers to generate the force needed to drive you HR up because they have not been activated (lack of leg speed work) or because they were not conditioned properly in the base phase. He suspects my running ahead of my maximum lactate steady state (MLSS on the chart) has undermined my condition and recovery, exhibiting a disconnect between HR and running pace.

MC suggest
I do some 15-60 sec accelerations with a lot of rest -- 1-2 minutes worth every 15 minutes. On the conditioning end, start with a 20 minute steady run at about 7:40 pace (HR should be about 163) with a 15-25' and cool down. This could be the day before a longer slower run (75-100 minutes).

For at least a few weeks, I should stay out of the red and orange zones (except for the accelerations).

His advice is pretty similar to my intuition. Although I've been enjoying the absurdly low heart rate (my run today was 6.2 at 9:19 per mile and 124(!) bpm average), I can't quite believe the low heart rate reflects my real fitness. I think I need to cut down on the LT pace until I get some semblance of normalcy. What he suggests is actually pretty similar in spirit to a couple of the Joe Rubio workouts (continuous "80%" runs and 200m intervals) I was doing early in the summer.

I do have to disagree with line 9 on the chart though. I really think I'm in better shape than that, which makes me ambivalent about changing what I'm doing. I think all this HM and 10k pace got me in better shape, but I recognize there are diminishing returns there.

week of 6 October

  • Mo - 5.30 0:45:48 8:38 139 (70%)
  • Tu - 11.60 1:38:02 8:27 147 (74%)
  • We - 9.30 1:25:23 9:11 133 (66%)
  • Th AM - 5.60 0:52:51 9:26 133 (66%)
  • Th PM - 2.98 0:27:55 9:22 132 (66%)
  • Fr - 11.25 1:28:44 7:53 158 (79%)
  • Sa - 5.33 0:50:45 9:31 130 (65%)
  • Su - 20.25 3:00:01 8:53
  • This Week - 71.62 10:29:29 8:47 141 (71%)

On Saturday, I got in 5 easy before my son's flag football game. His team scored at TD with 4 secs left to tie and made the conversion to win! After the game, we drove down to Williamsburg for the weekend to visit colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. By prior agreement, I was able to get in my long run on Sunday :-)

I agonized over where I was going to run and ultimately decided to run from the colonial area to a trail I read about at the Waller Mill resovoir. Unfortunately, my replacement from Garmin didn't make it before we left (of course it was on the doorstep from Saturday afternoon until today) so I just ran 3 hours. I attempted to do the lookout trail at the park, but after scaling a couple of hills, I realized this wasn't a jogging trail and I just might snap my gimpy knee off. I also found a nice bike path that was about 2 miles long and shaded. I ended up doing a couple of out and backs on the bike path before heading back. Some guesswork and gmap-pedometer puts my distance at 20.25 (8:53 pace). Most was at ~9 min/mi, but the last 7+ were about 8:40 min/mi. (I don't have a HR because I forgot my chest strap.)

In other news, a high school friend of mine surprised both of us by getting within 90 seconds of his PR. That's really something when your 1) 37 years old and 2) ran sub-2:45 in your late 20s. He's running Boston in the spring and I'm hoping to make it there with him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I couldn't run faster than 6:30/mile...

...if I fell off a cliff.

This was another weird one today. The plan was 4@HM, 1 mile jog, 2@10k.

- Jog 2.25 miles to the start line of the track.
- The 4 "miles" (1600m) went 6:43/166, 6:39/172, 6:37/175, 6:39/176. As I said before, my avg HM heart rate is 180, so this was quite a surprise. I had planned to hit the first 200m at ~51-52, but hit it at 50 and then it was just 50s the rest of the way. Really this was quite easy.
- Jog a mile - 9:05/148. HR recovered well.
- I was supposed to do 2 @ 10k and I tried. I really did! I though I'd hit the first 200 at 47-48 and I saw it tick over 47 to 48 as I crossed the line. Perfect I though. Then the next 200 was 50 again. Crap. I thought maybe I'd increased my breathing rate and went from 2-2 to 2-1. I saw my heart rate go down, but I didn't get any faster. The first mile was 6:36/173. I was trying! On the second mile, I stopped looking at splits and tried to relax and move my arms and legs fast. 6:47/175. Ugh.

I realized I wasn't far off an 8k PR through the 4 miles. My PR is 32:45, which is 6:33 per 1600 meters. During that race, I averaged 187 bpm over the last 4 miles. I'm not sure what the deal is. Maybe its just the marathon training that's made me slow, but strong. I feel like I could crush my 10 mile PR (6:53 pace) but probably couldn't touch my 5k PR (6:23 per mile).

I did 3 miles ez tonight (I can't double tomorrow like I wanted to).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Doubles... I think I'm going to have to start doing them. My keys for 3:15 are 70 mpw and 155 lbs. Adding intensity has made the former harder. Hudson says 70 mpw is about the most you can do in singles. For me, because I'm so much slower than Hudson anticipates, that point is probably less. I've been trying to do 10+ miles w/ a workout on Tu and Fr, a med long run on Wed, an easy 10-miler on Sa, and a long run on Sun. I think the Fr, Sa, Su stretch is probably taking a lot out of me. If I made Saturday, and possibly Wednesday, into doubles, the schedule would probably be a lot easier to handle and let me consistently reach 70 mpw while keeping the workouts. I hesitate on doubling Wednesday though, since I have a deep attachment to the mid-week medium long run. If I'm doing 10-12 on Tu & Fr though, maybe that would suffice. I really don't like doubling because of the time it takes, but I'm less than 8.5 weeks out now, so I'd only be doing it for the next 5 or 6 weeks.

I noticed that Rubio and Hudson differ on which days to double. Rubio would have you double workout days first (Tu and Fr). Hudson has AM moderate/PM easy on Wed and AM easy/PM easy on Saturday. I lean toward Hudson only because I always feel like I'm going to pull something when I shuffle around the evening after a hard run. At 37, maybe I ought to look at that masters chapter.

I was a good boy and did about 10 minutes of stretching/core today after an easy 9.3 miles @ 9:11/133bpm.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No spring in my step?

This was the strangest run ever for me.

I had been planning to do maybe 8 miles with something at the track, which would mean I could run at home before going to work (rather than get there early and run from there). Then last night as I was looking at the menu from Hudson's book, he had what looked to be about 11 miles, so I packed up my bag at about 10:45 and tried to go to sleep. Of course, I then woke up at 4:30. Since it was so early I figured I'd just do my run at the high school track near my house.

Here was the plan: 1.5 wup + 3 x (1 mile, 1k, 800m, 400m w/200m jog) at 10k -> 1500m pace. Ouch!

After 15 minutes of jogging, I found myself looking at a locked gate outside the track. I've run in the morning here before, but I guess not quite this early. This wasn't going well at all. I jog back to the old 10 laps per mile gravel track at the elementary school.

On my weird little track, I planned to do 3 x (10 laps, 7 laps, 5 laps, and 3 laps w/1 lap rest), which would be close to the plan.

My trusty Garmin is in Olathe, KS right now and I'm waiting for Garmin to send me a new (refurb) one, so I have my Suunto T6 on. The T6, unfortunately, has the world's worst backlight implementation. Not only does the backlight stink, but I can't figure out how to make it stay on. My only choices are "Normal" (press hold a particular button to get it to come on for a few seconds), "Night Mode" (on for a few seconds when I press any button), or "Off."

I tried the first mile at what, without looking at lap splits, thought was 10k pace. When I hit the lap button, it showed 6:56 and 164 bpm (not avg, but at the end of the interval). Um, that's kinda weak. I picked it up (or so I thought), and got down to ~6:40 pace for the next interval. After that, I never got much faster. The whole thing was bizarre. Near the end of the second set, I decided to stop and just run another 30' easy, because this obviously wasn't what was intended.

I tried everything to go faster. On the last interval (3 laps), I basically did what I felt was sprinting and only managed 1:52 -- 6:13 pace. The first mile of my 5k PR was 6:00 and (6:23 pace overall). My heart rate also never really got that high. I've put the graph of my heart rate below (ignore the first 10 minutes before I broke a sweat.) I've also added lines of 180 and 185, which are what I average for my last HM I raced (9/2007) and my last 10k (9/2008), respectively. My heart rate is really quite low. I would think it was because I was tired, but in the past when that's happened, I'd expect my heart rate not to recover so well, but look how well it recovered between intervals in only 0.1 miles (usually 55'') and how well it recovered in my cooldown run. When I've been overbaked, it would usually stay very high even when I was shuffling after a workout.

For completeness, here are the splits.
  • 26' warmup (average from 16' - 26' was 118 bpm!)
  • 6:56/6:56/160/164 (time/pace/avg bpm/bpm at mark); .1-mile jog
  • 4:45/6:47/162/164; .1-mile jog
  • 3:19/6:38/162/172; .1-mile jog
  • 1:56/6:26/165/172
  • .2-mile jog between sets
  • 6:44/6:44/167/171; .1-mile jog
  • 4:41/6:41/167/171; .1-mile jog
  • 3:17/6:34/170/171; .1-mile jog
  • 1:52/6:13/173/180
  • 30' cooldown (133 bpm average)
Total: 2.7 wup + 5.8 interval + 3.1 cdn = 11.6 in 1:38:02; 8:28 mi/mi;

One thing I find interesting is that the interval portion totals 5.8 miles and I ran 7:07 pace (including the rest intervals) at 164.5 bpm average. For the first 6 miles of the Frederick marathon, I averaged 168 bpm and right at 7:30 pace (I avg'd 172 for the marathon). Does this mean I should just run intervals at my next marathon? :-)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

week of 29 September

The 10k stuck with me nearly all week. Even on Thursday, my quads felt trashed. By Saturday, that sharp soreness was gone, but I still felt like I was running in molasses and had aches and pains all over. Today's long run was no different. I started over 9 min/mi (hard to tell without my Garmin) and brought it somewhat under by the end (two timed laps on the track were 8:40/mile), but I felt so off, it was hard to tell how fast I was going. I cut it off at 18 miles instead of doing the neighborhood loop to bring it to 21. I planned this exit ramp as I knew I didn't feel well. The shin thing is, thankfully, gone, but has been replaced by the knee thing (this ain't going away) and something on the lateral edge of my right foot. Being a veteran of peroneal tendonitis, I recognized the pain. It's not anything like what kept me out for two weeks a couple of years ago, but I'm going to take it very easy tomorrow (0 - 45 minutes) depending on how it feels when I step out of bed.

Enough whining. Here's the week:

Date Distance (mi) Time Avg. pace (min/mi) Avg. HR
Monday 6.60 1:01:07 9:16 132 (66%)
Tuesday 9.30 1:18:39 8:27 140 (70%)
Wednesday 13.72 2:03:44 9:01 133 (66%)
Thursday 5.86 0:55:06 9:24 132 (66%)
Friday 10.31 1:28:23 8:34 141 (70%)
Saturday 8.30 1:15:54 9:09 135 (68%)
Sunday 18.00 2:43:51 9:06 139 (70%)
This Week 72.09 10:46:44 8:58 137 (68%)
Last Week 59.09 8:22:39 8:30 144 (72%)
This Month 278.72 40:44:19 8:46 143 (71%)
Last Month 299.35 45:24:38 9:06 140 (70%)

I finished off September as well this week and obviously bumped up the intensity. I still kept reasonably close to the same mileage. I also went over 1,000 miles on this pair of Nike Frees. I'm not sure when/if I should get new ones. I don't think these things even have a mid-sole to wear out.

I've been wildly swinging between mileage and intensity the last couple of weeks and need to find the center again (after I get my legs fresh).

One more thing. The weight is coming down. I'd say I'm within a pound of my Frederick weight. Here's a nice graph.

Friday, October 03, 2008

ain't as spry as I used to be

I strained my right shin mowing the lawn last night. (I hate %@#$#@ mowing.) This morning I bagged anything fast and did an easy to easy/moderate 10 miles. This afternoon I was the asst coach on my son's flag football team, and since we were a player short, I filled in. Well, it's hard for an old guy to chase down and de-flag 10 year-olds even without a bum shin. I think I should challenge them to 30 or 40 laps before the practice to get them good and tired, so they don't move so fast.

The shin thing seems like a muscle strain (pushing off with my toes while pushing a lawnmower uphill), so I think it will go away fairly quickly. Hopefully it's not a tendon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

slogged my way into work

MR: Do you have all of your runners use a heart rate monitor?
I try to instill in everyone that this is something useful, but I can't force anyone to put it on. Some people just don't like to use them. They don't like the feeling of running around with something strapped to their chest. You can learn a lot about your body from one if you use it regularly.

MR: Like what?
Like if you're doing a workout and you can't get your heart rate up, your muscles are telling your cardiovascular system what to do. They're tired, maybe glycogen depleted, you might be on the verge of overtraining.

This was absolutely the case with me today. I did somewhere between 13.5 and 14 (no Garmin) and my average heart rate was only 133, but my legs felt like they weighed 100 lbs each and I was ready to be done after 45 minutes.

I've been reading Hudson's book, "Run Faster." I think it's great stuff and makes Canova's ideas more accessible. It does have some serious editorial flaws though I'm afraid. The text and the tables/schedules look like they were written by two different people. He talks about different threshold paces (60' pace, 90' pace, and 2.5h pace) but then the schedules use different terminology. Sometimes you can figure it out (marathon/half marathon is probably 2.5h pace), but sometimes you can't. The tables also aren't consistent. They should "aerobic support" runs for a hypothetical peak-70mpw marathoner in one table, but when they put the whole schedule together, it doesn't match. Hudson also says you should double if doing more than 70 miles per week, but then the schedules have the Level 3 marathoner do 84 miles in a week in singles. Of course you should craft your own schedule, but it would be nice to have something to start with that didn't violate the principles of the book.

There's also some annoying salesmanship ("In my adaptive training system...") that I'm sure is not from Hudson. It sounds a lot more like his co-author, Matt Fitzgerald.

Ok, now that I've complained, I think it just might be the best practical running book out there. It distills a lot from "Run Strong" into more of a how-to book.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

10 k revisited

Well, that was some great race math on my part. Miles 1-4 (if that was the mile marker) in 20:47 is 6:56 pace, not 6:36 (19:47 is 6:36 pace). Would you believe I got a perfect score on my math SAT? Anyway, 6:31 for mile 1, 6:56 for miles 1-4, and 6:47 for the last 2.2 is fairly believable. This would have to be the race that my Garmin dies.

That being said, I checked the results from the most recent 10k (certified) I could think of and found some people who ran both. He are the matches:

28 Sep, 10 Aug
36:59, 35:54
47:58, 46:01
50:08, 48:08
51:49, 50:41
52:27, 54:50
54:47, 51:51

As you can see, everybody except one was over a minute slower at my race. I don't think that the course was long though. It was 64 deg/59 dp on 10 Aug believe it or not and it was 71 deg/67 dp on Sunday.

I almost think I need to do another race before the marathon to gain some confidence, but I don't want to jeopardize too many more long runs to do it. If I keep my mileage up and my weight down, I think I've got it. The latter is the tough part. I've lost a couple of pounds and am about 2 pounds from my spring marathon weight. I'd like to get at least a couple below that though.

Did 9.3 miles this morning. ~35'' easy, 25'' moderate, and 18'' easy. I worked the uphills to get the heart rate up because my quads are trashed. That's never happened to me in a 10k. Usually it's my hamstring with short races.

Monday, September 29, 2008

props to Garmin and an easy 6 w/ 6 x hill sprints

Getting to tech support was a pain (the web form didn't work and I had to wait 30 minutes on hold), but once I did, they were great. The end result is that I'm sending mine back and they're sending me a refurbished unit under warranty even though I'm 10 days past the 1 year warranty, so I'm pretty happy with that. I'll be using the old Suunto T6 until then.

I did six in the neighborhood this morning on one of my usual routes. Pace was about 9:00. I finished with six 10-second hill sprints on a 6-8% grade hill (I could probably find out for sure with the accurate altitude from the T6). I've been loosely following Hudson's Run Faster and did 2 hill sprints last Mon, 4 last Th, and then 6 today. They serve basically the same purpose as strides, but they're also supposed to help leg strength.

I'm still scratching my head over the 10k.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

week of 22 Sept -- 42:18 and a dead garmin

The remnants of some tropical storm laid a wet blanket over the area for the last three days or so and the overnight lows have steadily increased as the heat has been unable to escape during the dark hours. As a result, it was 70 degrees and humid as I left at 6 am this morning. Checking wunderground it was a steady 71 with a dew point of 67 during the race -- decent standing-around weather, but not so good for a race.

My Garmin has given me fits as I said on Friday and it hasn't stopped It's takes some kind of reset voodoo just to get it on and I couldn't even download my runs last night. I tried to fill in the customer service web form, but after detailing my wows, the submit button didn't work. Thinking it only worked with Internet Explorer, I retyped it again and still no joy. Ugh. It has a 1-year warranty. Looking trough my old email, I see Garmin shipped in on 9/19/2007. Double ugh.

So, I put it on before my warmup and after 30 secs of trying, I get it to start. 10 minutes later I see "low battery." (It was completely charged last night.) I figured it wasn't going to last for the race, so I went to plan B - my trusty Suunto T6. I jogged for 19', which I'll call 2 miles and by the second mile, my sweat confirmed the humidity. Still, it didn't seem horrific like the half marathon. I timed my jog perfectly for the 8am start, but not the 15 minute delay.

8:15 and we're ready to go. One of the nice things about the Garmin is that you get some pretty good pace feedback before that first mile marker. Well, I wouldn't have that today. The plan was to hit mile 1 at 6:30 and if the start aligned, run 6:25's the rest of the way to, by some miracle, break 40. If things weren't clicking, 6:30 wouldn't be too fast to ruin my day.

It's getting near 6:30 and I'm looking for a marker, but don't see one. The I hear some watches beeping. I look at the ground and see a 6-inch line with "G1." 6:30.7. Perfect. My heart rate is really good at this point -- 183 -- and I'm beginning to think, "Hell. I could do this." People are starting to fade and I have to consciously pass them to keep up my pace. Another 7 minutes and I don't see a mile marker. Great. We get on a bike path and go through some mud, take a few twists, etc. Things have kind of sorted themselves out and I'm about 30 meters behind a blonde woman with a pony tail who I hear is the first woman. I had a mental lapse and she started to pull away from me a little and a guy started to catch me from behind. I didn't let him go by though and we ran together for most of the rest of the race, trading the lead. I asked if he'd seen a mile marker. "Not a one." was his reply. I think maybe, I saw a "G 4" and 20:47 was the split. 6:36 pace sounds about right, I think, and probably the best I could have expected. [Of course, now I've figured I was off by a minute and that was 6:56 pace. I'm usually good at math while running, but not this time.] I still wasn't sure this was a course mark though because there were marks all over the trail. I know 6:26 is 40 flat pace, so I'm about on 41 maybe (if that was 4 miles).

Somewhere after mile 4, I say something like "let's catch the pony tail." She's pretty far ahead at this point (maybe 50 meters), but we start to pull her in. I start to lose my concentration and he took the lead back. I was surprised to see my HR drop from 188 to 185 after I started following him. Maybe this running together thing works. After about 5 miles (no marker of course), he put in a surge and made up half the ground in maybe 400 meters. I hung on with that one. Another effort and he dropped me. I finally saw the overpass and couldn't believe I was already at 39 minutes. WTF? I was well over 0.25 away from the finish. I really wondered if the course was long. I could see my running partner making up ground on the first female while I stayed about the same distance back. We got to the top of the hill and he tried to make up the last of the distance. They said something over the PA and she picked it up. I couldn't see who got there first. It was really close. I came in (according to my watch) at 42:18 -- only 35 secs faster than my Cherry Blossom 10k split.

I caught up with my running partner later and he said she beat him by a step. He also said he ran a 10k last weekend and ran 90 seconds faster. That made me feel a lot better about the result. I'm still scratching my head on the time though. If that were 4 miles, did I really lose 1:24 over the last 2.2? That seems impossible. I wasn't falling apart and I kept my HR nailed at 188. Three people passed me in the last mile. Two were young guys who looked like they were on a training run, picking it up the last mile. One was a guy who I think was 20 ft behind me the whole way. If I slowed 40 secs a mile, I would have expected a ton of people to pass. I guess those weren't the mile markers, but this was run on the George Washington Birthday 10k course, so "G" makes sense as the mile marker designator. I'm really confused. Gee, if only I'd had my Garmin...

Anyway, I think I'd have done better with a 20 miler today instead of a psyche-killing 42:18 10k. Here's the week. Another intensity fest w/ 12.2 miles at 10k pace and 3 at HM. Only 59 miles. Yikes. How we make money? Volume. I need to get the mileage back up. Yesterday was 9 weeks to go. This is really sneaking up on me and I haven't done enough work to finish that last 10k of the marathon strong.

Date Distance (mi) Time Avg. pace (min/mi) Avg. HR
Monday 3.01 0:28:36 9:30 131 (66%)
Tuesday 7.72 1:01:10 7:55 158 (79%)
Wednesday 12.12 1:47:28 8:52 137 (68%)
Thursday 6.72 1:02:10 9:15 132 (66%)
Friday 10.25 1:21:15 7:56
Saturday 10.05 1:31:22 9:05 136 (68%)
- 7:34 AM 2.00 0:18:55 9:28 130 (65%)
- 8:14 AM 6.21 0:42:18 6:48 185 (92%)
- 8:58 AM 1.00 0:09:25 9:25 159 (80%)

This Week 59.09 8:22:39 8:30 144 (72%)
Last Week 72.13 10:59:16 9:08 137 (69%)
This Month 262.82 38:24:33 8:46 143 (72%) <-- mileage heading in the wrong direction!
Last Month 299.35 45:24:38 9:06 140 (70%)