Saturday, September 30, 2006

The "Phitz" Plan continues

I continue to follow the “Phitz” 55 Mile/Week Marathon training plan with only a minor amount of cheating – a few extra miles here, a little hill work there. Of course if I decided to follow the 70 Mile/Week plan like Thomas, I’d be little more than a quivering mass of flesh by now – so it’s all relative

Running is sure a joy again now that the morning temperatures are in the low to mid 70s again. I was supposed to go out on a 5 miler this morning at a “recovery” pace. But I couldn’t keep my pace any slower than 8:50/mi, which is faster than I’ve run all week. Oh well.

Now I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing tomorrow. We’re going to Tucson today for a soccer game and spending the night down there to visit with the older kids. I know there’s an 8K near the University of Arizona on Sunday morning; but I’m scheduled for 13 Miles on Sunday. Perhaps I could run the 8K for fun (I’m certainly not under any pressure to perform) which would give me 9 miles with a 2 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down and then run an additional 4 miles after the race. This wouldn’t be exactly the same as a 13 miler, but I could convince myself that it would be close.

Oh .. if you get a chance, drop in on Michele’s blog and congratulate her on the 20 miler she ran yesterday. I don’t know how these folks can pound out this sort of mileage and then head off to their kid’s school for a pizza party as if they’ve spent the morning lounging around the house. Just amazing.

Have a great weekend

Training for the week:

Mon – Rest Day (1.6 mile walk)
Tue – 8 miles, easy, w/ 10x100 strides, 9:07/mi avg pace
Wed – 3.4 miles, hills, w/ 4x400 sprints, 9:30/mi avg pace
Thr – 10.3 miles, easy, 9:10/mi avg pace
Fri - Rest day (and very early AM call to my buddies in France)
Sat - 5.45 miles, easy, 8:44/mi avg pace

Thursday, September 28, 2006

L'entraƮnement de marathon, jour trois

I’m very thankful that I’ve spent the past 6 months building up from a sub-20 mile a week runner to a 40-45 mile weekly schedule. Otherwise, I’m very sure that I’d not be able to survive marathon training. After kidding about running yet another 8 miler on Tuesday, this morning I had a get out of bed and run 10. I’ve never run 10 miles mid-week before; however, according to Thomas, I better get use to it.

I’ve got nice 8 mile, 6 mile, 5 mile and 3 mile courses near my house, but I don’t have a good 10 mile course defined. Unfortunately, the main roads in Phoenix are laid out on an even 1 mile grid. The gird is broken up by the hills in north Phoenix, but it’s still difficult to find a 10+ mile route that doesn’t require me to either run along or cross a busy street at least 5 times during the run. Of course the traffic mid-week on these roads only gets heavier and heavier as the minutes tick by. Running along the main arteries isn’t that bad at 5:30 but can be a nightmare at 6:30.

Not much to report on my 10 miler this morning. The temperatures are back below 80F (27C) and the humidity has dropped again. It actually feels cool. I started to wear my HR monitor again to get some idea where I'm at and kept my HR between 135 and 140 for most of the first 6 miles. I was a good boy and didn’t look the Garmin to gauge actual or average pace through the first hour on the road, but couldn’t help myself over the last 3 miles. Along mile 9, a bike rider glided by slowly on the other side of the road. Now this wasn’t a bike rider like Michele, pounding out some serious miles. No, this woman was just out for a leisurely morning ride. I’m confident that she didn’t view passing me as an act of bravado, but the macho idiot in me picked up the challenge none-the-less and ran even with her for a half mile. My heart rate jumped to 155 and my pace improved to sub 8:00. Fortunately for me, I needed to turn off the main road and head back towards my house. 4 minutes of tempo running was more than I needed after 9 miles.

Other than a little chaffing, the run went OK. I demonstrated that I can run 10 miles and still get home in time to ensure everyone else is out of bed and make it to work on-time. I haven’t read too far ahead in this plan, but I’m sure there are longer mid-week runs in my future. I already have my alarm set for 4:45, so at my pace, getting another 2 or 3 miles in before work may become a challenge. I’ll just need to work it out.

Have a great week

Training so far:

Mon – Rest Day (1.6 mile walk)
Tue – 8 miles, easy, w/ 10x100 strides, 9:07 avg pace
Wed – 3.4 miles, hills, w/ 4x400 sprints, 9:30 avg pace
Thr – 10.3 miles, easy, 9:10 avg pace

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The more things change, the more they stay the same

This morning, Cooper and I started a new marathon training program based on Pete Pfitzinger's book, "Advanced Marathoning”. After running four 8 milers last week, I was looking forward to something new. Of course, what was sitting at the top of this week’s training plan: “8 miles, aerobic conditioning w/ 10x100 strides. Go figure. Of course, looking at this positively, I could say that all the aimless running I did last week actually had a purpose. It got me well prepared to start my new program.

Have a great week running

Training for the week

Mon – Rest Day (1.6 mile walk)
Tue – 8 miles, easy, w/ 10x100 strides, 9:07 avg pace

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another day, another mile

I had no need to get up early this morning. I completed my long run on Saturday and had little more than a short recovery run in mind for this morning, so I turned off my alarm. Why get up when it's still dark when the temperatures are in the low 70s as the sun comes up and all you need to do is run a quick 30 minutes just to get the blood moving. Unfortunately, I forgot to explain the concept of sleeping in to the dog. Since he still can’t read a clock very well, he was totally unaware that 4:45 had come and gone; but as soon as the sun came up he must have figure out that something was wrong. He jumped up on the bed and started licking my face as hard as he could. He really, really wanted to go for a run.

I got up, got dressed, found his leash and walked down the hill to our usual starting point. So what was it going to be? A short 3 miles? That would be easy enough … or perhaps 5 miles. For either, all I needed to do was turn left. I still didn’t know if my legs would actually propel me forward after yesterday. So what did I do? I turned right and headed out for another 8 miler around Cooper’s loop.

It wasn’t very fast and it certainly was very pretty, but in the end, with 8 miles this morning, I squeezed in a 50 mile week; 50 miles in 5 runs.

I officially start training for my first marathon on Tuesday. On Mike's suggestion I picked up Pete Pfitzinger's book, "Advanced Marathoning" and set up a basic 18 week program peaking at 55 miles/week. This should be fun.

I hope you all have a great week running.

Training for the week.

Mon: Rest Day (recovering from bad sausage)
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace
Wed: More Rest (let the right calf heal)
Thr: 8 miles, easy, 9:07 avg pace
Fri: 8 miles, easy, 9:03 avg pace
Sat: 18 miles, long, 9:17 avg pace
Sun: 8 miles, easy, 9:17 avg pace

Total for the week: 50 miles

Saturday, September 23, 2006

One Dog, One Crazy Guy, Two Rattle Snakes, 18 Miles

I’ll get to the rattle snake part at the end (it isn’t all that exciting).

As I indicted yesterday, I’m just cruising through this week and next while I fret about an appropriate marathon preparation program for the Carlsbad Marathon in January. It hadn’t been a stellar week so far. I started out on Monday sick; Tuesday I strained my right calf; Wednesday I took off to let the calf rest; and Thursday and Friday were OK or at least I didn’t pick up any new injuries.

I had originally thought about running another easy 8 miler along the trails in Reach 11 Park this morning, but fellow blogger Michele got me thinking about a different run last night. Michele banged out a nice 18 miler with her friend Lana on Friday (where do these people find the time?) - I was so impressed with the description of her 18 miler, that I thought that maybe I could try one myself. My longest run to-date had been 16 miles, a distance I’d never imagined I could ever run, but perhaps 18 was reachable.

Since I don’t have a running buddy, I conned my 3 year-old lab, Cooper, out of bed at 5:00 AM and drove him over to Reach 11 Park just as the sky was starting to lighten. I had no particular pace in mind, but quickly settled into a 9:15/mi rhythm. I let Cooper off the leash and he spent most of the first 12 miles literally running circles around me.

Other than a crazy guy camping out under a large Paloverde tree and screaming incoherently, there really wasn’t much to do except to watch Cooper chase birds and rabbits; totally unaware of how many hours he’d be out this morning. The miles just ticked by and I was gaining that invincible feeling runners get when the pace is a bit slower than normal and weather is cool enough to preclude over-heating. You just get into that groove and run.

On the 12th mile, my Zen-like experience was wearing off quickly and I took a short water break for me and dog (I’d stashed a large thermos of water by one of the trails). The couple minutes it took to get Cooper to drink was very refreshing and I immediately picked up the pace to 9:08/mi for the next 4 miles. I even ran by the crazy guy again. He was still sitting in a sleeping bag under the same tree babbling about something. A wiser person would have been worried.

Once I got by mile 16 I was very much aware that I was in totally new territory. Copper had had enough of rabbits and birds and had falling in behind me. He’s very strong and his tail was still wagging, so he wasn't too concerned with his health.

My tail, on the other hand, wasn’t wagging. My pace was slowing down and I was still nearly 3 miles from my car. My Garmin beeped again at 17 miles and I was thankful that I only had another 5280 feet go. Any thought of running past 18 miles and continuing on to the car left my consciousness. Michele had run 18, I was going to run 18 and not a foot further.

On the last mile we passed close by a bush on the left side of the trail and heard an animal rustling about. Cooper stopped to investigate and of course it was a rattle snake. Fortunately, the snake set its rattles in motion and scared the wits out of the dog who quickly caught up with me. As I’m looking back to make sure he’s ok I spotted another 4 foot rattle snake stretched out next to the trail, 3 feet from me. It was none too happy to see me (or the dog I presume) and started rattling to warn me off. No problemo there. I know I can out run a rattle snake, but I don’t like getting that close to one.

We finally finished the 18th mile and walked back to the car for the short drive home, picking up the dog's water dish and thermos along the way. I had intended to sit in an ice bath after fixing breakfast for me and my youngest daughter but laid down on a couch and took a two hour nap instead. I’m feeling great right now ... we’ll see what sort of aches tomorrow morning brings.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace
Wed: More Rest
Thr: 8 miles, easy, 9:07 avg pace
Fri: 8 miles, easy, 9:03 avg pace
Sat: 18 miles, long, 9:17 avg pace

Friday, September 22, 2006

Le beau temps

Another fine day in the neighborhood
Another 70f (21c) morning
Another 8 miler in the bank
No complaints.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace
Wed: More Rest
Thr: 8 miles, easy, 9:07 avg pace
Fri: 8 miles, easy, 9:03 avg pace

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Delightful Weather

With morning temperatures in the low 70s again, morning runs are taking on a distinctively different feel. Gone are the hellish days of August when an easy morning run meant coming home completely drench from head to toe. For the next few months, those of us running on the northern expanses of the Sonoran Desert will enjoy very nice weather for a change.

I took yesterday as a rest day to give my calf another day of heal. The additional rest seems to have helped. I didn’t have any problems this morning during a leisurely 8 miler over the usual route. I left my Garmin at home and just ran with my old sports watch. I managed to ignore my time through the first 6 miles, but the competitive nature in me just had to know how I was doing over the last two miles. As I feared, once I knew where I was time-wise, I just had to set a time limit to beat (why do we do this to ourselves?). So, after having a nice relaxed run for nearly an hour, I suddenly needed to finish this run in under 1:13:00. I know that it’s stupid – like - who really cares?

Speaking of “who really cares”, my younger brother stopped by on Tuesday night for an overnight stay while on his way to California. We had a great dinner and got talking about running (of course) as the night wore on. Unfortunately, I showed him my blog. After reading a few recent entries, he’s now convinced that I am completely certifiable. I still love him though.

Thanks again for your comments of concern over the past several days. I think I’ve recovered from my various maladies. My game plan is to take it easy for the next couple of weeks and try to get in 40 to 50 miles of easy running per week. After that I’ll start focusing on what ever I need to do for the Carlsbad Marathon in January.

Have a great week running.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace
Wed: More Rest
Thr: 8 miles, easy, 9:07 avg pace

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

La Blessure de Jour

I’ve recovered from the stomach distress of this past weekend and I really appreciated all the kind words you left me. I must have been sicker than I thought because immediately after my previous post, I took a 3 hour nap. I hadn’t intended to take a 3 hour nap. I actually set my alarm to wake me up in an hour. The alarm went off at 2:00 PM, but I still wasn’t feeling refreshed, so I reset it for 2:30. No sooner had I put the alarm down after resetting it, but it went off. I don’t know what happened to the 30 minutes. So I reset it for 3:30. 3:30 rolled by and I just hit the snooze. 3:40, snooze; 3:50, snooze; 4:00 PM, OK, the situation was quickly getting ridiculous. I can’t sleep all afternoon. I was still in Tucson and still needed to drive 130 miles north to my home in Phoenix.

I got up at 4:00 feeling a little better, put on my running gear and walked out into the late afternoon sun. No run was forthcoming, but I did manage to get in a 3.5 mile walk around the UofA campus and surrounding neighborhoods.

I also took Monday off as it IS my official rest day. So this morning was the first time I’ve run since the 10K on Saturday. The morning temperature was a blissful 73F (23C) (the hellish summer temperatures are now a distant memory) as I took off on any easy 8 miler. The first couple of miles felt fine. My left hamstring was a little tight, but it seemed to loosen up as the run progressed. I wasn't trying to break any land speed records so I wasn’t too concerned. Unfortunately, my right calf started to tighten up on the 4th mile.

This is a new sensation. I’ve never had trouble with the calves before although I’ve certainly read about the calf problems of fellow bloggers. While waiting for a light to change I tried to stretch out the right calf. Big mistake. As soon as I start running again I could tell that the stretch had done far more harm than good. The muscle really got tight as soon as I put weight on it.

I slowed the pace down from 8:45 to 9:15 and considered stopping altogether; however, the weather was far too nice to take any thought of stopping seriously. Once I got home, I immediately applied ice, but that didn’t seem to do much. It definitely hurt, especially when I tried to walk down-stairs. I’ll do the usual Ice / Compression drill today and see how things go tomorrow.

Hope your week goes great.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sick Day

I forgot runners can get sick. I must have eaten a bad sausage for dinner yesterday because I spent most the of night sick. My stomach felt bloated and woke me up every 40 mintues or so. I just wanted to throw up ... but couldn't will myself to do so. Things didn't feel any better this morning. In addition, I couldn't sleep in because I had to get up to get down to Tucson to fix my daughter's evaporative cooler (just your typical 130 mile service call).

I had the cooler running within an hour and at this point I think that I'll just hang out in her house for the rest of the day before I drive back to Phoenix. I brought my running gear with me, but it doesn't look like I'll get in a long run today. Just as well, my left hamstring is acting up and it could probably use the rest.

Have a great week ahead.

TRAINING FOR WEEK:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 5.0 miles, easy, 9:00/mi pace (approx)
Wed: 2.3 miles, tempo, 7:39/mi pace (don't ask what happened)
Thr: 5.0 miles, easy, 8:18/mi pace (yes!)
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 10k, race, 7:25/mi avg pace (not too bad)
Sun: Sick Day

Total Mileage for the week: 22.6 miles

Saturday, September 16, 2006

First 10k of the season

It’s been a long time since I’ve run a 10k. It's just way too hot during the summer months to host a 10k anywhere near Phoenix and I’m just too lazy to drive up to the mountains for an event. So the 10k I ran this morning was the first 10k of the running season in the Phoenix area. The race ran through the Reach 11 Recreational Park with most of the course staged on dirt trails within the park. The course was set up as a 5K with those running the 10k simply running two loops. I posted several pictures of the course below.

I met up with my buddy Bill (yes, the same Bill from the Jerome Hill Climb) for a brief pre-race discussion. I haven’t felt all that well all week and I wasn’t expecting to do all that well in the race. My left hamstring has been bothering me again and my right foot still hurts. At least with Bill in the race, I’d have someone to chase for the first few miles. I also spotted my friend David before the start of the race. In several 5ks this summer, David has blown by me in the last mile and finished very strong. I fully expected him to do the same this morning.

The race started at 8:00 AM and I immediately got stuck behind several people jogging 3 or 4 abreast right out of the gate. (Insert your own complaint about joggers lining up at the front of the pack). Once I stumbled around these folks I was able to get up to speed quickly and reached the first mile marker at 6:54. I was feeling pretty good and was very happy with the time. It wasn’t too terribly fast, but I still had a long way to go; too early to get giddy.

Bill was 20 feet in front at the 1 mile marker, so I shortened my pace and upped the tempo to close the gap to 2 feet. I ran most of next mile through soft dirt hanging on his right shoulder. I don’t know if he realized it was me, but he did know that someone was following closely. Either he accelerated or I slowed down, but the gap between us increased to 10 feet as we got to the 2 mile marker. We stayed this way until we neared the 3 mile mark at which time our friend David blew by. David is a very nice guy. He slowed up to talk with me for 30 seconds and then ran ahead to talk with Bill. As David pulled away, Bill tried to keep pace with him, but quickly fell back.

I completed the 1st 5K in 22:42. I was still feeling OK, but not great. I was running faster than I’d ever run a 10K at this point, but knew I’d be hard pressed to do a repeat on the 2nd lap. The sun was getting higher on the horizon and I was starting to feel the effects of the sun beating on my back as the temperature slowly rose.

At mile 4 I pulled up even with Bill so I could see how he was doing. He wasn’t all too happy with his pace and I didn’t mention that I was running faster than ever for this distance. We continued side by side, running 7:20+ miles along the back side of the course. This area is hard packed dirt and the traction is fairly good; however, at mile 5 I knew I’d had it. My legs were feeling heavy and my skin was slowly frying in the sun. Bill pulled ahead 10 feet and then slowly increased the gap. I didn’t have enough energy left to respond. My pace slowed down to 7:34 and I just hung on running as strong as I dared without hurting myself. Once I got to the 6 mile marker, I pushed hard through the finish line; the clock read 40:0x. I didn't catch the last digit. Even though I didn't remember exactly what the clock read, it was over 46 minutes. I’d have to wait until the results were posted to get my actual time.

Bill caught up with me on my cool down run. This is the first time I’ve run a cool down with anyone. It was nice to have someone along although the first mile was very painful. My legs felt like lead and I was having trouble talking. But after we finished the first mile, things settled down and I actually started feeling good again. We only ran 2 miles at a 9:00 pace, but I felt I could have gone much further (this could have been wishful thinking)

My official time was 46:00 (yes, 46 minutes even). Bill finished 10 seconds faster. This was a PR for me and my 5K split was 20 seconds faster than the 5K I ran on the same course this summer. All and all, it was a good race.

Hope your weekend is going great.


TRAINING FOR WEEK:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 5.0 miles, easy, 9:00/mi pace (approx)
Wed: 2.3 miles, tempo, 7:39/mi pace (don't ask what happened)
Thr: 5.0 miles, easy, 8:18/mi pace (yes!)
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 10k, race, 7:25/mi avg pace (not too bad)


RANDOM PHOTOS FROM REACH 11 PARK



One of the many small washes in the race. The bottom of this is filled with soft sand



The course looking south towards Piestewa Peak in Phoenix



Small pond left over from the heavy rains this week.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Thombstone Arizona

I spent this past weekend on a ranch near St. David Arizona with 17 14 year-old female soccer players and 6 adults. The ranch, a 3 hour drive south of Phoenix, has two phenomenal soccer fields, a dormitory and a mess hall. We brought our team down to this outpost in the middle of nowhere to help get them focused on playing better as a team. Being a million miles away from anywhere (or at least 50 miles from the nearest city of any real size) with no cell phones gave the girls an opportunity to do nothing but focus on soccer for the entire weekend. Since I was down there to help with the care and feeding of the team, I didn't have enough time to get in a long run this weekend. However, I did get a chance to run 7 miles on Saturday and 8 miles on Sunday before anyone else in camp rolled out of bed.

It wasn't all work and no play however. A friend and I did take a few hours off on Saturday to visit nearby Tombstone Arizona, “The town too tough to die”. The town’s one claim to fame is that it was the location of the shoot out at the OK Coral. Some time after the nearly famous gun-fight in the 19th century, the town did in fact die and was replaced by what has to be the tackiest town in this country. The buildings are filled with curio shops, there is dirt on the streets (covering the asphalt) and a stage couch pulled by sorry looking horses for hire. We did manage to find one bar in Tombstone. In this rough and tumble town, the bar was empty except for my friend and me. After a couple of $4 beers, it was empty once again.

Training for the week:

Mon – 4.6 miles, Race, 9:43/mi avg pace. 4.6 mile wu/cd
Tue – 8.0 miles, Easy, 9:22/mi avg pace
Wed - 4.7 miles, Easy, 13:42/mi avg pace
Thr – Rest Day
Fri – 8.0 miles, Easy, 8:35/mi avg pace
Sat - 7.0 miles, Easy, 9:18/mi avg pace
Sun - 8.1 miles, Easy, 9:08/mi avg pace

Total mileage for the week: 45 miles

Random photos taken near St. David Arizona:



The San Pedro River, looking south. This answers the question: Is there running water in Arizona?



We had intended to follow this road across the river, but thought twice about it when we realized that the water was higher than normal.



This road isn't as pretty as the small lanes through Yeovil England, but every bit as narrow.



One of the soccer fields at the Ranch



The other soccer field looking back at the bunk house and mess hall.



A lunch time feeding frenzy



The road leading to the ranch. I ran 4 miles down this road on Sunday.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mojo returns

First … an update on the right foot. I finally went to my orthopedic doctor for a look-see at my right foot. A simple X-Ray was all that was needed to fully diagnose the problem. Right there next to the proximal end of my 5th metatarsal was a small white blob, a bone chip. Evidently, some time during a prior life, I broke my right foot and left a small piece of bone floating around. During my long run a few weeks ago, this bone chip lodge itself into the tendon that attaches to the side of the foot in the same area; hence the pain.

No big deal. I’m not going to die. I don’t have a stress fracture. I don’t need to stop running. I just need to deal with it. I can do that. On this positive news, I did much better on my 8 mile jaunt around Cooper’s loop this morning. Average pace was 8:35/mi with last two miles run in 8:06 and 8:08 respectively.

I’m heading down to a soccer camp south of Benson Arizona with my daughter’s soccer team this weekend. I will not have my PC with me, so I will be unable to respond to your blogs until Monday. I hope you have a great weekend of running and racing. If you get a chance, go over to Dawn's blog and wish her well. She is running in the Norwalk 1/2 marathon on Saturday.

Training for the week:

Mon – 4.6 miles, Race, 9:43/mi avg pace. 4.6 mile wu/cd
Tue – 8.0 miles, Easy, 9:22/mi avg pace
Wed - 4.7 miles, Easy, 13:42/mi avg pace
Thr – Rest Day
Fri – 8.0 miles, Easy, 8:35/mi avg pace

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Missing: Phil's Mojo

If anyone sees my mojo wandering around aimlessly, please send it home.

Training for the week:

Mon – 4.6 miles, Race, 9:43/mi avg pace. 4.6 mile wu/cd
Tue – 8.0 miles, Easy, 9:22/mi avg pace
Wed - 4.7 miles, Easy, 13:42/mi avg pace

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The day after

My climb up through the mountains above Jerome yesterday took its toll this morning. I felt ok overall (apart from my right foot which I’m considering trading in on a younger model), but there wasn’t any bounce to my step. I didn’t sleep well last night for a variety of reasons beyond the scope of this journal and woke up for good at 4:00 AM. Even though I got up early it still took 45 minutes to get out on my regular 8 mile loop.

The first mile felt sluggish and I could tell I was just plodding along aimlessly even without consulting the Garmin. Things didn’t pick up much on the 2nd mile as I turned onto a little used street and ran through the dark. Miles 3 and 4 felt better, I finally had some blood moving in my legs, but I was running very tight; especially through my shoulders. Mile 5 is up hill and joins up with the access road along one of the local freeways.

This access road is usually all but deserted at 5:30 in the morning, but not today. Traffic on the freeway was backed up so folks were using the access road as a mini freeway. With cars and SUVs whizzing along at 70 mph I had to run on the gravel landscaping along the road. Since we’ve had nothing but rain, rain, rain lately, there is plenty of gravel and dirt in the roadway and the speeding vehicles kicked up plenty of very gritty dust.

Half way through mile 6 I finally got off the access road and headed into a residential area with no cars; however, my pace was still far less than stellar. No risk of melting my shoes this morning. Mile 7 and mile 8 went buy using the standard divide and conquer technique. I committed to run to the next light, to the next intersection, to the next building, etc and slowly made by way home.

I hope your day is going better.

Training for the week:

Mon – 4.6 mile, Race, 9:43/mi avg pace. 4.6 mile wu/cd
Tue – 8.0 mile, Easy, 9:22/mi avg pace

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Jerome Hill Climb


I got my sorry butt out of bed this morning around 5:00 AM because my ride to the Jerome Hill Climb was showing up at my house at 5:30. One of my friends called me yesterday and asked if I was going to the event and wanted to know if I was interested in car-pooling. Cool. Car pooling meant that there was no way for me to back out of the race gracefully.

What ever is going on with my right foot didn’t disappear overnight. The outside edge of my right foot was tender once again and complained a little when it hit the hard wood floor as I stepped out of bed. I think the darn thing is just lazy and really wanted to stay in bed. A couple of Ibuprofen took the edge off and I was outside and ready for my friend to show up for the 90 minute drive north to the former mining town of Jerome.

The drive to Jerome was uneventful and we arrived 50 minutes before gun time. Since Jerome is perched on the side of a mountain, parking is very limited. This year, parking and race registration was on a flat area one mile from the start line. By the time we got our bib numbers, used the porta-potty and ran down the hill to start line, we only had 5 minutes to spare before start; not nearly enough time for a decent warm-up.

The club sponsoring the event was unable to get the appropriate permits required to use the old school house at the lower reaches of the town this year, so they moved the start line about ½ mile up the course and started at a small parking lot of a regional park. They also extended the course at the top by 160 yards to try to stretch it out a bit. In this configuration, the course still climbs 1000 feet over 4.6 miles. However, by taking nearly ½ mile off the front end, we hit the first hill almost immediately after the start gun went off at 8:00 AM.

After the gun went off, I immediately feel in behind my friend Bill. This is the same fellow that I tried to chase down in my last 5k. Bill had taken off very fast and was motoring up the first hill a little faster than I wanted to go, so I fell off his pace and simply focus on the first climb. However, something happened to Bill as we reached the steepest part of the first hill and I slowly caught up and passed him as we continued to run up the hilly streets in Jerome. I was very worried at this point, knowing that Bill always crushes me in these events and now I had him behind me. Surely I was going too fast.

At the old fire station, the route veers off onto a fire road and passes the event’s parking area at the one mile mark. After this point, the next ½ mile section is the last flat portion we’ll see until the finish line. I picked up the pace and started to fret about the 10% average grade coming up quickly between 1.5 and 2.5 miles into the course. The 4 minutes it took to run the flat section flew by and the real grind of this race started at the 1.5 mile mark. Parts of this section of the course are very steep, in excess of 15% which forced me to walk a couple of times to keep my heart from flying out of my mouth. I was sure I’d be seeing Bill flying by me as I power-walked up the very steep portions; but no Bill. In fact, no one passed me during the sections I walked.

My first real challenge developed near the end of this very steep section. Since I really hadn’t warmed up, both calf muscles tighten and both feet started that tell-tale tingling sensation at which time the evil voices in my started screaming, “your feet are falling asleep, you’ll never make it too the top, stop now, …” You know the drill. Self doubt tries to take over you’ve got to work to silence the noise between your ears on top of dealing with a very real physical problem.

Fortunately, from the 2.5 mile mark to the end, the average grade is only 2% with excursions as high as 4%. After the brutal 2nd mile, parts of this section actually feel flat. The voices of negativity quieted down; however, I couldn’t feel much of anything through my feet; it was akin to running on a pair stumps. At least my problem was symmetric. On the plus side, no one was passing me and I was slowly catching up with three guys 100 feet in front of me. I finally caught up to one of the runners at the 3 mile marker and then immediately got passed by a gentleman who looked about my age. We exchanged pleasantries and since it was obvious that I couldn’t match his pace, I wished him the best; but still no Bill.

The last 1.6 miles was more of the same. On the one hand, I couldn’t reel in any of the folks in front of me; on the other hand, no one passed me. On each hairpin turn I could see what looked like the last turn of the race coming closer and closer. As I got within 100m of what I expected to be the last turn before the finish line, a fellow running back down the hill wished me luck and told me cheerfully, “Only two more turns to go”. TWO more turns … just where the hell was the finish line any way?

I finally got to finish line in the same position I was in 1.6 miles earlier. Bill finished 79 seconds later. On this course, the finish is just a line of chalk across the dirt road, 10 feet before a rather large cattle guard. No wonder the course had to end here. The club had set up refreshment tables haphazardly placed on semi-level portions of the hill side. After downing several glasses of Gatorade, I found the all important beer cooler and grabbed a Tecate (this is Arizona). There’s nothing like having a beer at 6000 feet after a quick 44 minute climb.

Since the fellow I came up with needed to get home before noon, we took off together and ran back down the hill to his car. Running down the hill was a whole easier than running up the hill. This is the first time I can remember a post race cool down run at a pace 1:30 faster than my race pace.

I took nearly a minute off my average pace up the hill as compared with last year and finished 48/98 males and 9/23 males 50-59. Not many casual runners show up to this event. You’ve got to wonder about anyone willing to drive all the way to Jerome on Labor day for an event that you not only need to run 1 mile to get to the start line, but also need to run 3.6 miles to get back to your car after the event. I know I’m crazy; evidently, I’m not the only one in this state.

Training for the week:

Mon – 4.6 mile, Race, 9:43/mi avg pace. 4.6 mile warm-up/cool-down

Other Random Photos



Looking down on the starting area (to the left of the white building) from the 1 mile marker. The road on the left side of the picture is the first major climb.



Looking back into Jerome from the 1 mile marker



Your author approaching the finish line at 6000'

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Faux Running avec une Elliptical Trainer


Sore foot or no sore foot, I’m running in the Jerome Hill Climb on Monday. Jerome was once the 4th largest city in the Arizona Territory, but dwindled quickly when the last copper mine closed the early 1950s. It’s made a small come back as a quaint “arts” community and now hosts a unique race up the hills through the town and into the mountains along a fire road every labor day. The course is less than 5 miles long this year and I haven’t clue what the elevation change is, but it doesn’t really matter. This is an event that everyone is just running for fun.

My right foot was hurting again this morning so I decided not to risk a long run and do any more damage before Monday. As you can tell, I am totally obsessing and imagining all sorts of debilitating injuries lurking along my 5th metatarsal. If Ronko sold a MRI machine for $19.95, I would have ordered it last night. Instead of my scheduled 15 mile long run, I wimped out and went to the gym this morning. Rationalizing that the elliptical machine is the next best thing to running, I “ran” 5.1 miles in 60 minutes with the machine cranked up to 15 (whatever that means). The folks around me had their machines set in the 5 to 10 range, so I think 15 was good. I just cranked up the tunes on my MP3 player and kept my turn-over rate between 60 and 70 for an hour. I goy in a pretty good aerobic work out, burning through 1100 calories; but probably did little to help my running. We'll see how I feel tomorrow afternoon.

Training for the week:

Mon – Travel Day
Tue – 5.5 Miles, Easy, 8:48/mi pace
Wed – Work day (no rest for the wicked)
Thr – 5.5 Miles, Easy, 9:09/mi pace
Fri – 8.0 Miles, Treadmill, 8:45/mi pace
Sat – 9.3 Miles, Easy, 9:04/mi pace
Sun – 5.1 Miles, Elliptical Trainer, 60 minutes

Total Mileage for the week: 33.4 (not good!)


On a non-running note, we had quite a storm roll through North Phoenix last night. Rain fall in this area was over 2 inches in 30 minutes. The wind was blowing so hard that we couldn’t see out the windows on the north side of the house and could barely see the other houses in the neighborhood. I took a few pictures of the storm; but none of the rain pictures are usable. All I got of the actual rain were pictures full of my flash reflecting off a wall of rain drops; however, I did get a few shots of the patios on the east side of the house.



The patio on the east side of the house completely flooded. To give you an idea of how much water was pouring off the roof, I have a 3 inch pipe with 4 openings draining this area. The drain just couldn't keep up. The entire patio was dry within 2 or 3 minutes after the main storm cell finally passed.



My barbecue wasn't sitting here when the storm started. The wind was blowing so hard that it blew the barbecue while dragging a full propane tank over 6 feet across the back patio.



All the patio furniture went flying.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Home Again


I got back to Phoenix late Friday night after a quick trip to England. My customer contact has been severely restricted due to travel cost restrictions, so this was only the second time I’ve been on the east side of the Atlantic this year. In addition to a successful business trip, I managed to get in a couple of good runs in the country side around Yeovil England (see pictures below) and also stopped by Stonehenge for a quick look-see. The only thing I didn't get to do was visit a pub. Of well .. next time.

I also apologize for the not keeping up with your blogs this week, the time pressure and travel schedule didn't give me much free time.

I also have a new pain that I need some help with (getting old is really hell). After my 16 mile run two weekends ago, I developed a pain on the outside of my right foot right at the little bump mid-way between my toes and heel. It hurts to walk on hard wood floors immediately after I get out of bed in the morning, but doesn’t hurt to run on. As you would expect from your typical macho idiot, I’ve ignored the problem for two weeks, hoping that it will go away. It hasn’t and seems to be getting worse.

After I got back from a frustrating 9 mile run this morning (I’d scheduled 10 miles) the pain wouldn’t stop, so I finally started ice therapy. That seems to help somewhat.

Any ideas? I’ve got a 5 mile race through the mountains around Jerome AZ on the Labor Day and could use some advice as to how to prepare my foot for the pounding.

Running for the week:

Mon – Travel Day
Tue – 5.5 Miles, Easy, 8:48/mi pace
Wed – Work day (no rest for the wicked)
Thr – 5.5 Miles, Easy, 9:09/mi pace
Fri – 8.0 Miles, Treadmill, 8:45/mi pace
Sat – 9.3 Miles, Easy, 9:04/mi pace

Random Photos from Stonehenge









Photos from Yeovil England

First .. I apologize for the quality of the photos below. There was nothing but bright sunshine on my first run through the country side. I decided to take my camera along on my second run, but of course it was very early in the morning and sky was overcast. In otherwords, the lighting sucked. The place is actually very cheerful.



This is what passes for a country lane in southern England. Note the hedgerows. These bushes are over 10' high. The traffic was light the two times I ran through here, but I did encounter cars in both directions.



Church Yard in West Coker (or was it East Coker?). This was my turn-around point.



The countryside through a hole in the hedges. Too bad I didn't have my camera the day before when there was more light on this scence. Regardless, we don't have anything like this in Phoenix.



Thatched Roof House



Not much room for a sidewalk along this street



The Yeovil Court Hotel. My room was the tall part of the building in the far right of this picture. It had a small sitting room and bathroom downstairs and a small loft with a bed upstairs. Total number of rooms: 23



This is the first time I've ever post a picture of a bath tub on my blog; but, this is the first time I've stayed at a hotel with a stand-along bathtub. I didn't use it, but it looked neat. Also, you can tell that this wasn't your standard corporate hotel. Notice the black walls in the bathroom.