Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Talking to the future

As I have said before, when I ran my first marathon in 2006, I didn't keep any journal, or blog or anything.  And now I have almost zero memory of it.  I remember getting PFS and going to a physical therapist.  I remember seeing the Fred's Team kids on First Avenue, seeing my then 6 year old daughter too.  But I don't remember the training, the race or really much about it.  So, to make sure I don't forget this one...a training update.

Two weeks ago I ran my long run on the beach at Kiawah Island.   Even though I started early (7 a.m.), it was  already 79 degrees, and humidity was about 90 percent (I looked on yahoo weather.)  The dew point was 74 degrees.  That was sticky hot.  A gorgeous run (pic above) but, man, after about 8 miles, I was dead on my legs.  I crashed, couldn't keep the pace.  Ended up averaging about 9:28 over 12 miles with a crazy high heart rate.  Combination of running on sand and the heat/humidity.  Garmin also crashed and lost my data for the run...airgh...I just wanted my heart rate data to see the stress.  And I did see wild Bobcat tracks on the beach.  Very cool.  But I remember most the crash and burn.  I was really ready for the end of the run.

This last week I ran in the Long Training Run in the Park. Last year, I volunteered to pace a group at 9/min per mile.  After mile 13 or so, I cracked (I had planned on stopping at 11, GI issues, no food or water, etc.), but this year I just wanted to run.  MUCH easier not pacing.  The 9/min pace seemed really slow, but just about perfect training pace. Heart rate in line, not much trouble holding the pace, and felt good.  And the results showed.  A strong training run!  I split feom the group to only run 15, so at mile 13 I peeled off and ran last 2 solo.  And faster also, both around 8/min.  Very successful run.  Very sore the next day too, but 48 hours later, not bad.

Been running during the week on the treadmill.  I have been trying to loosely follow the program of 3 "quality" runs per week -- one long, one tempo, one speed.  Speed I have slacked off has caused aggravationin my calf and hamstring.  But the tempo runs.,..1/4/1 (one warmup, 4 at 10K pace, one cool down)  are a kick in pants too.  Two weeks ago I had a super strong 5mile race in Central Park at 7:36 pace, so beren using that as temp pace.  That is a challenge for sure.

And the other challenge is losing weight while training.  Watching calorie intake, trying to fuel workouts and recover.  I have been successful so far, but it is another stress point.  But running is much easier lighter.

On tap this weekend: 14 hilly miles around my neighborhood.  Already thinking about it, planning it.

Hope your summer has been great!

Monday, July 14, 2014

New update post

I haven't posted in a while, only because I want to have something to report.  I have been running, albeit more tentatively.  The heat and humidity really gets to me, but it must be good training.

I am in this fall's NY Marathon.  And the training begins this week.  I have run nine miles two times in the last week or so, and both times, I ran faster than I intended.  The HR was in the 153 range, which is too fast for the long runs.  But it has also been super humid which affects it also. And yesterday, I ran 9 miles after running a race on Saturday.  So I came off a pretty stressful workout day before, which affects HR for sure.
This year, for training I am going to follow my modified FIRST plan.  It is basically 3 quality runs a week, (one long, one interval, one tempo), and either easy days or cross training.  And I am going to lift.  As much as I have said that in the past, this time I have already begun that regimen.  Once or twice a week since last month or so.  Oh, and yoga too.

The primary focus in the short term remains weight loss.  I need to get to a racing weight of 190.  That is doable, but will require a couple months worth of work.  Matt Fitzgerald wrote a book on nutrition and racing  and said that each extra 10 pounds means the body must use 6.2%  more force to lift the body off ground to run.  Wow, ok, so lose weight, get faster.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The last days of winter are the hardest for me.  It seems like winter goes on and on and on, with no let up in sight.  Growing up in Texas, I just accepted that winter ended in February, and March was Spring. After living up north for 20+ years, One would think my body has readjusted.  But it hasn't.  And a particularly long, brutal winter like this just reinforces that seemingly interminable cycle of cold, snow, gray dreary days.

On that cheery note, yesterday epitomized the effect of these days.  A long day of work, followed by a workout I was really, really not into.  For me, a workout is a gym/treadmill session followed up with a train ride home (and an intervening shower).  I really did not want to do it.  I wanted dinner, a glass of wine, something else.  But, as I keep an eye on my goals and motivations, it is these kind of days that are the days that build the foundation and the basics.  And if you let them go, you can't get them back.  So off I went, running on the treadmill, but I set it a little slower to just get through it.

I was dragging myself to the gym and through the workout.  And it turned out Ok. I didn't get that big "wow, that was a GREAT workout, and I am so glad I did that!" feeling.  But I was glad I did it.  At the end of the day, our training and base is the combination of tons of runs, and choices.  And the decision to run last night on a truly non-motivated night when it would have been much easier to blow it off, is the kind of good choice to make that I will be happy I made later.  Small drops add up to puddles, that add up to buckets.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Long time gone, and never too old to try

Yes, it has been a while.  That is a combination of factors, including a busy fall, crazy winter and general lack of motivation.  So to preserve my running record for posterity, a brief recap is in order.

Fall 2013 -- I was out of shape, but in decent enough shape to consider running NY marathon in November.  I had completed an 18 miler in good shape, and a couple other longish runs.  Then, in early October, I had a trip to Dallas scheduled, and planned on doing something I had always wanted to do, but had never done -- run White Rock Lake.  The basic route around is approximately 9 miles, and my plan was to go 2x around for an 18 miler.  I planned for it extensively, and was ready to go.  Well,one thing I should have remembered October is hot in Dallas.  And White Rock Lake is windy.  So the day started at about 84 degrees with high humidity.  And about a 11-15 mph wind on the lake (there were little whitecaps).  That's not good.  I was drained from the get go, drenched in sweat and battered by the wind.  I made it a little more than once around and pulled the plug to fight another day.  So yes, I ran the Rock. But that day also really, really affected my confidence.  I was not coming off a long cycle of training.  I didn't feel strong running; in fact, I was surprised when I did well (like my 18 miler in Central Park in Septemeber).  And then I caught a little cold.  That was enough for me to pull the plug on NYC rather than risk serious injury in a race I really wasn't ready for.  After that, I fell off the wagon and enjoyed my fall 2013, running maybe 3 times in  a month.  I did run a 9 mile race in December to finalize my entry in 2014 NYC marathon.  And not a bad race either (I think I averaged 8:20 or so, which I was pleased with.)

Winter 2014 -- Nothing.  No running.  And a bad diet led to weight gain.  So, after a ski vacation that totally sapped me (I was not ready for physical rigor and altitude), I simply knew it was time to get back in the game.

Now -- I have been back at it for about 3 weeks.  The running is harder, but hey, that is to be expected.  The pay off for this will be this summer when hopefully I will feel stronger.

One thing I am for sure committed to this time is more lifting, stretching, body strength.  The Runners World article in March 2014 convinced me, and I have started the IronStrength workouts (basically about 40 minutes of body iso and plyometric exercises).  Very, very hard, but that means it is working, right?

And I am in NYC 2014 from efforts last year.  So that's the goal race, some 8 months out.

In other news, I bought a Garmin 620.  Nice device, crazy software.  After I have more experience with it. I will post my thoughts.

And I have missed everyone in the running world!

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Shoes, New Minor Injury and a Fuel Belt

I have previously commented that I barely remember my first NY marathon.  I wasn't blogging, I did not keep a running log, and really don't remember much about it.  And as my recent training has been going on, I haven't been blogging, and have missed providing some of the crucial details that allow me to remember and be more invested in the travails of my training to learn from the good and the bad.

First -- a couple of weeks ago I served as a pace leader for a long run in Central Park.  I had planned to pace for 11 miles, and that worked great.  I was spot on.  They needed pace makers for miles 11-16, and though I had originally planned to bail, miles 5-11 felt great, so I figured, .. Why not?  Well, now I know why not.  I had a...ummm.. GI issue at mile 11, and missed the gel and food station, so I had zero calories in me.  Fluids yes, calories no.  About mile 14, I turned to my co-pacer and said...I don't feel good.  As in I REALLY don't feel good.  Felt nauseous.  Could hardly run.  I cracked off the back of the group and walked half a mile or so, then trudged home in a slow mile 16.  Ugh, not a good ending to an otherwise great day. Note to self -- eat calories during long run.

Last weekend I decided to run 15 miles in a long run.  By the way the day worked out, I had to go at 2 pm. It isn't boiling hot here this summer, so I really didn't pay much attention to the weather.  Plus I had just bought a fluid belt, so I knew I could carry water with me. (More on this later.)  BAD plan for a run.  I ran 6 miles over hills and then a flat 10 or so.  The first 6 hilly miles blew up my legs, and I did Ok on the flat part until about mile 11 or so.  And then I noticed,  Gee, it is kind of hot out here.  And humid too.  In fact, it was actually 86 degrees, with 80% humidity, heat index of 91.  And I had not eaten much the couple days before (still on a diet trying to lose weight).  I was sweating like CRAZY.  I drank 20 ounces at mile 6.  Drained 20 ounces from my fluid belt over miles 6-11, refilled at mile 11 (thanks Dunkin Donuts!), drained another 20 ounces on way home in miles 11-16.  And still felt terrible.  I am hitting the wall around mile 13 or 14 or so.

These long runs make me way can I run a marathon in two months.  Doing a post mortem, I am not so harsh on myself; I can see the heat was really brutal.  And the fact I basically ate about 2000 calories total in the two days before really did not set me up well to run 16 miles in the heat.  Thankfully, I had my fuel belt with me.  Seriously, it was the first time I had run with one ...ever...and it really saved me.  I was never in real danger or anything, but if I had not been able to consume 40 ounces of water over the last 10 miles, I would have had to abandon the run and found water.  And it wasn't that cumbersome or jiggly or anything.  Very good addition to the gear repertoire.

So after that shitty long run on Saturday, I took Sunday off, and ran on Labor Day.    Labor Day last year was the day I hurt my calf so I kind of have bad karma for runs on Labor Day.  This run started off super strong...I was crushing the pace.  I started to feel something in my right high ankle/shin but kept running through it, figuring it was just one of those running pains.  Ran 6.3 miles in 51: xx; great run.

Except for that shin pain.  And when I stopped...oooouccch.  Hmm.  This is bad.  Stress fracture? Overtraining injury can you say?  Ice all day.  Compression sock.  Elevation.  Very sore to the touch.  Some Dr. Googling, and it is either a shin splint or the beginning of stress fracture.  Felt MUCH better Tuesday, so I am guessing shin splint.  And I think I am right, btw.  But what could have caused it?  I have never had a shin splint in my life.

The victim: a new pair of shoes!  My trusty Gel Kayano 19s, are worn out.  I felt the worn out-ness in the last run, so I brought home my gym shoes to run in (I keep a pair of shoes at they gym.)  Those are Nike LunarGlide5.  Really comfortable, cool shoes.  And I had run both Labor Day weekend runs in them (23+ miles) in two days.  Hmm, and one of the causes of shin splints are shoes not appropriate for foot and pronation type.  Hmm, doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to connect the dots...So LunarGlides are out.  Back to Asics (order new pair of GT-2000s (more support) and Brooks GTS 19 (Have run in Brooks before and love them).

So, this weekend...a 4 mile race in Central park.  I plan to tack on another 10 miles or so to get my long run in at the same time.  I have never done a race and then add more to get miles.  The pace and adrenaline from a race screws up the long run mentality for me.  So I will see if I can do it...But I will eat today.  And not wear the LunarGlides.

And I haven't even discussed the new Garmin.  All I can say, new Garmy is like old Garmy ...finicky, unpredictable, but a thing of beauty when it works.  Like an old friend, but one that is crotchety and one you have to invest care, time and energy to maintain the relationship.

And I need to keep blogging so I can recall the details, the ups and the downs of training.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Great Running Weekend and a Race Report

After the session with the running coach, i had a couple of unmemorable workouts.  But I knew I had a pretty big weekend lined up...the Team Championship on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.  The Team Championship is for really fast runners.  It is 5 miles around Central Park, and to put it in perspective, I ran this race in 2009 at 7:02 pace  -- and finished in the bottom half.  So I didn't have any expectations on the run, just a fast tempo workout.

Race day was fine -- 70ish, humid, but no rain during the race (that came later). And i welcomed a new friend -- my new Garmin 410!  I bought a refurbished unit, and it arrived the night before.  After a charge up, was ready to go -- maybe my old one was defective, but the new one is light years better.  the buttons, the battery everything is better.  And it seems like it just works.  After a suggestion from DC Rainmaker, I used the heart rate strap from my Polar HRM with the Garmin receiver snapped on front.  It worked great -- much better and more consistent data than the Garmin strap.

Race was pretty standard -- Mile 1 downhill, two and three rolling but basically up hill and 4 and 5 flat with the exception of cat hill (about  400m long) at end of Mile 3.  My goal time was...40 minutes.  A strong 8:00 pace on the hilly course, humid morning.  I don;t remember much about the race except it seemed like EVERYONE passed me.  My race number was in the 7000's, which is highest I can ever recall, so i started way in the back.  And it still seemed like everyone passed me.  To cut to the chase, I ended up at 39:11, for 7:50 pace, so I was quite pleased, AG of 60% -- and I finished in the 75% percentile.  That's right, basically bottom quarter.  Running can be humbling.

After the race, I walked back to my car, and stopped to get cash at a little deli.  Inside was a Cuban kitchen making homemade, from scratch food.  I never eat in places like that, but I thought, eh, why not?  A plate of scrambled eggs, with green pepper, onion and ham, smashed green plantains and a slice of bacon.  Beyond delicious. 

Then Sunday, I need a long run.  I thought I would just go around my typical route around home, and then I decided, why not go back to Central Park?  My family is gone for the weekend, I had nothing to do, so why not run in a truly great place?  I geared up (packed a bag with water and Gatorade to leave in the bushes, found a perfect parking spot) and set off.  Goal was 10 miles at 9:00 pace.  It was the afternoon though, a quite a bit warmer -- 82 or so, and the day after a pretty good "tempo" run in the race from day before.  And the hills of Central park.  But I hit my paces pretty well, and heart rate wasn't crazy, so was a good long run -10.25 miles at 1:31. After running though, I was really wiped out.  I stiffened up, but really felt pretty good.  And another gorgeous day in Central Park.

All in all a pretty gosh darned awesome NYC running weekend.  Weekends like that make me love the city and being a runner.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Running Coach

For those new to my blog and world, i have never had a running coach, or a running team or any formal training, mentoring or monitoring.  I do what I think is right based on how I feel, and what I read.  And that has served me pretty well.  At least until I get hurt, and have to sit out for awhile.  But, after trying the "lets just do a lot of what I do and I will get better" approach in golf this year -- which was a miserable failure -- I decided to work with someone on running basics.  I don't need workouts and training so much as someone to say yes that right, no that isn't, here work on this, keep this mental image in mind.

So i met with a coach last night.  I genuinely enjoyed it.  The good news is that I am not doing anything radically wrong, in his opinion.  I feared I was over-striding, but he didn't think so.  My arms need work, my knees need to come up more, and I am "carrying some weight in the midsection" that isn't helpful.  (Politest way I have ever heard that I need to drop a few!).

It was about stretching, loosening up to promote flexibility.  Strides.  Speed drills.  Arm position and drive. All of which I can work on and intend to in the coming months.  Also I am working on the "midsection" girth issue.  Was it life changing?  No.  Was it helpful? Absolutely.  I was also just have someone to talk to about running, my theories, my form, my training.  My wife is not interested (not that I blame her), but it was good to have someone who is genuinely interested and intrigued.

I intend to meet with him once very several weeks over the next couple months to evaluate progress, pointers, etc.

And it was a gorgeous night in Central Park. Easy to lose perspective with the sun setting over the Reservoir in 80 degree weather on a summer night in Central park.