Tuesday, January 30, 2007

South Bend - Day Two

Nothing to report today. I wasn't feeling all that well last night and didn't get up to run this morning. There's a treadmill in the hotel that I'll tryout on Wednesday morning before I check out. I thought about running after I got out of the office at 7 PM tonight, but the temperature had dropped to 12F (-11C), the snow was still coming down and the wind was blowing so hard the that it was creating white-out conditions in some areas of northern Indiana. It would have been cool to say I ran in these conditions, but if I tried it, I'd have to post first to let someone know where they could find the body in the spring.

With that, I leave you with a few pictures from my morning.

Your's truly heading over to breakfast this morning

My rental car. I dusted it off before breakfast and it had a 1/2 inch of snow on it when I got back.

Yes folks, this is my office in South Bend. It isn't exactly the sexiest building in the USA

Monday, January 29, 2007

South Bend

The last time I was in South Bend was June 29th and the roads didn't look anything like the picture to the left. Today, the temperature was under 20F with light snow on arrival at the small regional airport on the outskirts of town. And unlike my trip last week, I didn’t have any trouble with my flights. Delta came through and got me (and my bag) to South Bend on time this afternoon. After checking into my hotel at 5:30 PM, I decided to go out for my run this afternoon instead of waiting for tomorrow morning. I figured with the temperature at 18F (-8C), it wasn’t going to get much warmer in the morning and the thought of running in the dark through fresh snow in an unfamiliar town didn't sound like such a good idea.

I came prepare with a long sleeve technical shirt and long sleeve warm up as well as my running tights and gloves. I was actually quite comfortable and headed south along the “River Trail” paralleling the St. Joseph River. The game plan was an easy 2.5 miles out and 2.5 miles back at whatever pace I happened to run.

The River Trail is cement path covered with ice covered with a dusting of snow. My footing wasn’t too good, but that doesn’t explain the slow 10:04/mi average pace; I just didn't feel like running any faster. My HR locked in on 141 bpm and stayed there for the entire run. My right foot feel asleep again after 3.5 miles, but the numbness didn’t progress to the point where I thought I’d have to stop. This foot problem is really getting to be annoying.

The river path was beautiful and I can’t wait to get back up here in the spring time when the foliage is starting to bloom. For now, I’ll settle for a scenic but sluggish recovery run. On the plus side, this was the coldest temperature I’ve ever run in. Since the wind wasn’t blowing, it actually was quite pleasant.

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Escaping Toronto

I finally got back from Toronto late Saturday night (rant to follow) and after a good night’s sleep, I got up this morning for my second run of the week; a short 5 miler around my usual loop. Temperatures in the mid 40s and clear blue skies were a welcome change to the gloom in Minneapolis and Toronto. Not much to report concerning the run. I kept the pace just over 9:00/mi throughout and watched my HR drift up from 135 to 150 bpm over the course.

I didn’t have any issues with my right foot on this run, although my right ankle is a bit tender and the pads on my right foot’s center toes are still numb. Overall, I’m still feeling pretty good.

I’m heading for South Bend, Indiana on Monday and I’ll continue with my recovery program while I’m there. With any luck, I should be able to top this week’s mileage total of 9.1 miles without too much trouble. Have a great week.

WARNING – The following is my private rant against Air Canada and has absolutely nothing to do with running. Proceed at your own risk.

During my adult life, I’ve flown over 1,000,000 miles (990,976 on American Airlines alone) and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I have never been treated as shabbily as I was by Air Canada during my trip to Toronto last week. In fact, I didn’t actually fly on an Air Canada aircraft since they canceled both scheduled flights. In the course of my travels, I’ve dealt with normal flight delays, impromptu airline employee strikes (not unusual in Europe), the US “war on terrorism”, missed flight connections, misplaced baggage, bad food, broken aircraft toilettes, drunk passengers, obnoxious passengers, children crawling under my legs while I was trying to sleep and about everything else life can through your way as you travel around the planet; but I have never been simply told, “fxck you”, when an Airline canceled my flight moments before boarding time because there weren’t enough people on the flight to make it profitable and they could cover their collective butts by claiming the cancellation was weather related and as a result their only obligation was to dump their former passengers outside of the security parameter for them to fend for themselves. I explained most of this in my last post.

After Air Canada’s demonstration of their whacked definition of compassionate customer service Friday night, I didn’t know why I expected any better from them on Saturday morning. I got to the airport two hours before departure time and tried to retrieve a boarding card from the Air Canada check-in kiosk as I did last night before they canceled my direct flight back to Phoenix. When the kiosk wouldn’t accept my confirmation number and hence wouldn’t give me a boarding card, the Air Canada line Nazi near by told me to get in the baggage drop-off line without a boarding card and have the agent at baggage check-in solve my problem. I had an Air Canada reservation, made through Air Canada, using an Air Canada flight number, so this sounded reasonable and had me moving in the right direction. Boy was I wrong.

After standing in the baggage check-in line for 30 minutes, another Air Canada goon came out and said (this is a direct quote): “If you are in this line and are going to Denver or Chicago YOU ARE IN THE WRONG LINE!. We CAN NOT help you. You MUST GO TO THE UNITED COUNTER!” The tone was certainly: why are you dumb sh!ts clogging up my line. Just because we screwed you all over yesterday and dumped our garbage on United, as we told you last night, we are still under no obligation to treat you as human beings. Get out of my line NOW! So over to United I trundled with the rest of the huddled masses yearning to be free of this appalling airline.

The line at United was controlled chaos. There were so many rebookings the night before that the line spilled out of the serpentine roped area directly in front of the United Check-in counter and extended far into the hallway. The line wasn’t moving at all and after 10 minutes it was clear that there was no way United was going to work its way through this mess in time to give me enough cushion to get through passport control, customs and security (US Passport Control and Customs is located in Canada) and still make my flight.

Fortunately, my flight to Denver was delayed an hour which gave me some breathing room, but cut the connection to my Phoenix flight in Denver to 30 minutes. After another hour went by, the United folks got smart and figured out that they needed to focus on checking in the people leaving on the next flight (which was the flight to Denver). I was checked in and on my way 15 minutes later. I tried to get the United agent to switch me to the later flight out of Denver, but she assured me that I’d make my connection. Again, I knew better, but what the heck, I like to live on the edge.

The flight to Denver pushed back at noon, two hours behind schedule and immediately stopped on the tarmac. The pilot came on the loud speaker and informed us that the aircraft needed to be de-iced (again, no problem) which would take an hour and a half (big problem). 90 minutes to get the plane de-iced. There goes any chance of making my connection in Denver and I wasn’t all that sure that there would be room on the last flight from Denver to Phoenix on Saturday and the thought of spending another night in a hotel on this trip wasn’t all that appealing. But, no worries, I could make it work

I got to Denver an hour 30 after my flight to Phoenix left. Fortunately, United had figured this out and had already re-booked me on the last flight out of Denver heading to Phoenix. After another flight delay, my bag and I arrived in Phoenix at 8:30 PM, 21 hours behind schedule. In the future I’ll just book my travel on United and cut out the Air Canada antics.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Great White North

Thanks for all the great comments on my marathon experience. I’ll keep this post short.

I’ve been on the road all week. I spent Tuesday / Wednesday in Coon Rapids, Minnesota (north of Minneapolis) and Thursday / Friday in Mississauga, Ontario (west of Toronto). I actually planned this trip around my marathon. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t get in much running the week following the event, I decided to head up to the Great White North in the dead of winter. Of course, with my luck, I got to Toronto on the coldest day of the year so far. Morning temperatures were 3F/-16C and during the day it warmed all the way up to 14F/10C. That’s mighty cold for this boy. That's probably why I look so grim this picture.

On the plus side, I did get to visit with a friend of mine who is taking a 12 month, self-funded, sabbatical. It takes a special kind of person to step out of the corporate world for a full year to figure out what it means to be human. On the negative side, my friends at Air Canada decided to cancel the flight to Phoenix on Friday night, so here I sit in the Renaissance Hotel near the airport, working on my blog.

At least I was able to use the hotel’s treadmill, so I have a little running news.

My recovery game plan was to take progressively longer easy runs after 3 to 4 days rest and try to keep my HR below 75% HRmax. My HRmax is around 174 (I really need to measure it again) so that meant I had to keep it under 130 bpm. That just wasn’t happening. Once I got on the treadmill at an easy 9:45/mi warm up pace, my HR quickly climbed to 135 and kept drifting up. As it drifted up, I slowed down until I had the machine crawling at 10:30/mi and my HR was topping 140 bpm.

After two miles of this, my feet hurt from the awkward gait and I just wasn’t comfortable nor having any fun. Perhaps it was stupid, but I started cranking the speed up until I got the machine whirring at 7:48/mi. My HR responded and topped out at 172 BPM, but at least I was covering the distance at a good clip. I started backing off the speed again after 3.5 miles and finished up the run with an overall average 9:18/mi (average HR=148)

Although this wasn't my best run every, after reading about Mike’s recovery and Thomas’s recovery, this ain’t too bad. I don’t have any remaining soreness and other than the whacked out HR and residual numbness in the pads of the two middle toes on both feet, I’m feeling pretty good. With any luck, I'll get home tomorrow.

Again … thanks for all the support. You guys have been super.

For those of you that just enjoy the picture, I have a few more from the race:

Running up one of the early hills with the ocean behind me. I've really got to do something about those tight shoulders!

Creasting a hill at 16 Miles.

I don't remember where this is

Monday, January 22, 2007

Carlsbad Marathon Race Report

Warning – This is way too long

Although this was my first marathon, it was certainly the most scenic race I’ve ever participated in. Although the race starts in a parking lot of an average looking mall at the far north end of Carlsbad proper, the course quickly climbs a hill into the older part of town and continues to wind its way through town until it breaks free of the buildings and parallels the coast within the first 3 miles. For the next 3 miles the course undulates along the beach with nothing but ocean to the right. The route gets close enough to the water at several spots such that you can hear the waves crashing on the beach. After mile 6, the ½ marathon turns around and the full marathon heads 3 miles in-land for a 300’ hill climb, with most of the elevation change on the last ½ mile. On the way back down hill, there are several breathtaking vistas of the Pacific coast as it was in the '60s ... not a condo insight. Once the course gets back down to coast highway it turns south again and continues rolling up and down the bluffs until reaching the turn around at 18 miles. From there, it’s a straight shot north along the coast and back down to the shopping mall.

Not only is the course a sight to behold, but you couldn’t ask for better weather. Although the official forecast for Carlsbad this past Sunday morning predicted overcast skies with patchy fog, the predicted fog was nowhere to be found and as far as clouds were concerned, I couldn’t see anything in the sky in any direction. At the 7:30 AM start time the temperature was 48F (9C) with light wind and clear skies and it didn’t get much warmer than 53F (12C) by the time I finished. This was evidently too cold for some of the locals, for although I was perfectly comfortable in a sleeveless tech top and shorts, many of my fellow racers were bundled up for arctic conditions. It’s a good thing they weren’t at the Phoenix R&R Marathon last week when the temperatures were far below freezing … but I digress.

The race was a lot larger than I expected. The half-marathon sold out with 7000 entrants and the marathon had roughly 1400 registered runners. The entire field of 7000 half-marathon runners and all marathoners with anticipated finish times below 4:30 started at 7:30 AM. Marathoners requiring more than 4:30 to finish were encouraged to start at 6:30 AM. So I found myself surrounded by a virtual sea of half-marathon runners when I got the start line at 7:15 AM.

Just before the gun went off, I spotted the 3:50 marathon pacer standing 20 feet behind me and made my first tactical error of the race. My original strategy was to take the first hill slow, run through the first 3 miles at 9:00/mi, accelerate up to 8:30/mi over the rolling hills for the next 3 miles, take it easy up the big hill, hold 8:30/mi through the rolling hills along the coast to the south until mile 20 and then pick up the pace.

Instead, once the gun went off, I latched onto the small group of runners huddled around the guy with the 3:50 sign and jogged up the first hill at a 9:00/mi pace. My thought process was sound. I figure I could hold an 8:48/mi pace without a problem and have fun running with a group of people somewhere in my league. In fact, from a gross perspective, I followed my game plan through the first 20 miles, and had a fairly typical 10K at the end:

Start – 9.3 miles; 1:23:39; 8:59/mi pace
9.3 – 13.7 miles; 0:37:21; 8:35/mi pace
13.7 – 20.0 miles; 0:53:43; 8:29/mi pace
20.0 – 26.2 miles; 1:02:48; 10:06/mi pace

Although it looks like I followed the game plan, the actual mile-by-mile pace varied a lot. Once we reached the top of the first hill, the pacer accelerated on the second mile to an 8:15/mi pace; much faster than I wanted to be running at this stage of the race. As the course continued to roll along the coast, the pace settled out and ranged from 8:36/mi to 9:07/mi before we turned in-land. This was OK, but in hindsight, I should have let them go as soon as the pace picked up too much on mile 2.

As we turned in-land and began the big climb, my right foot started tingling and fell asleep over the next mile. Fortunately, I was chatting with other runners in the group and ignored the problem. By the time I got to the top of the hill, the feeling returned to my foot and I was left with only a numb sensation in the pads of my middle toes. This was a pretty weird feeling, but nothing that would cause me to slow down. After cresting the hill on mile 9 we ran the next three miles down hill at 8:34, 8:13, and 8:24 respectively. That 8:13 was way too fast and really pounded away on my quads, a mistake that would come back to haunt me later in the race.

We turned onto coast road again on mile 15 and continued heading south through several more rolling hills. At mile 18, we turned around and headed north back up the coast. There was a nice breeze coming out of the north which felt great, but I started having trouble keeping up with the pacer on the up hills and he dropped me completely on mile 19. So now, for the first time in nearly 3 hours, I was running by myself. Of course, I was not alone exactly. I was catching up with and passing runners that had started an hour earlier than me, but there really wasn’t anyone near me running at my pace and I continued to slow down as lactate built up in my legs. What I needed now was a buddy.

Fortunately, on mile 22 a 20 something woman struggled to pass me on an up hill– finally, I had a buddy. I locked onto her and let her drag me up the next set of hills. Running with someone again really help and I improved my pace by 20 seconds/mile, but on mile 25 she stopped and walked through a water station and then proved herself a much stronger runner when she blasted by me and continued to pull away on the last little climb. This wasn’t really much of climb at all, probably no more than 60 feet, but it might as well have been a jog up the Hillary Step on Mount Everest. I wasn’t hurting; I just couldn’t get the legs moving; but I was getting close to the end and there was only a down hill between me and the finish line.

Up to this point, I was confident that I would report that I ran the entire race pain free. I could lie of course (who’d know?), but running down that last hill on mile 26 was pure torture. My quads were screaming to stop on every step; but I since I hadn’t listened to my right foot when it feel asleep on mile 6, I wasn’t about to listen to my quads on mile 26. I told them to buck up and keep going. And I can’t tell you how happy I was to turn the last corner and still see 3:5x:xx on the race clock only 100m in front of me. I was about to finish my first marathon on a hilly course in under 4 hours. With the massive slow down on the last 10K my average pace decreased to 9:04/mi, but I had made it 26 miles with no serious damage. It was also very strange to finish a race and not be absolutely drained. I just picked up my finisher’s medal and walked off the course. My quads weren’t going to be doing any running, but the rest of the body was functioning as if I’d just been out for an easy 5 miler. Needless to say, I was very happy to have finished.

Thanks again for all the encouragement you have offered me over the past 18 weeks since I decided to take this on. Now that I’ve got the first marathon behind me, I can focus on getting better without worrying if I can even finish. One of my goals for this year was to run two marathons, so I signed up for the San Diego R&R marathon in June. I know that many of you have run this race, so I’ll be digging for pointers as we get closer to June.

Hope you all have a great week.


Carlsbad Marathon Elevation Map from my Garmin

Mile 2 - Still looking fresh; but look at the fellow behind me. He's ready for snow.

Mile 12 - Coming off the big hill with the 8:50 pace group

Mile 27 - 50m from the finish - not exactly sprinting

Wife happy to see that I survived

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Carlsbad Marathon

I completed my first marathon this morning with an unofficial time of 3:57:38 (my watch). The marathon had great weather (48F at race time), a beautiful course with ocean views throughout and an extremely well organized set of volunteers. What a race!

I need to head back to Arizona in a while so I don't have time to write a complete race report, but I will say that this is a definite do-again. The hills threw me off my intended MP and my quads were complaining on the down hills over the last 8 miles; but overall, it was a fantastic experience.

More later.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This Training Cycle is Finished

I’m taking your advice and resting for the last 3 days before the race. Since tonight’s 7 miler was my last run for this training cycle, I thought I go back through my log and see what I did:

Total Mileage: 793
Average MPW: 45
Time spent Training: 118 Hours
Average Pace: 8:57/mi
Runs over 17 miles: 8
Longest Run: 20.44 miles
Number of PRs while Training: 4 (8K, 10K, 10Mi, 30K)

My last run started out great. After I got home from my daughter’s soccer game (they won 2 : 0) at 8:30, I took off with my dog and head lamp along one of my standard 7 mile courses. The night was cool, around 49F, so I wore shorts and a long sleeve top. I could have done without the top, but I didn’t intend to put a lot of effort into this run and the extra installation was fine.

The first three miles went great. I had to remind myself to slow down and take it easy. Per Pftiz, I was planning to run the last two miles at MP (8:30), but my pace kept drifting towards MP without any coaxing, so I constantly had throttled back. However, on mile 4 I could feel the back of my right leg (about two inches above my ankle) start to tighten up. As I suspected, this is the precursor for the tingling sensation in my right foot which is quickly followed by the numbness I’ve described in the previous two posts. I tried to do toe clenches while running to relax my foot, but that really didn’t work. I tried a few other things to change my gait, but the foot continued to go numb; however, I kept up the pace and didn’t slow down.

Once I got through mile 5, I accelerated to MP and significantly overshot, so I had to slow down again to ensure I didn’t over do it. My right foot was numb by this time, but I thought it would be a good idea to see how this played out under marathon conditions. I hit the end of Mile 6 right at 8:30, turned the corner and headed off into the dark on mile 7. The numbness wasn’t getting any worse and it never progressed to the same point it did yesterday. In fact, when I turned the last corner and headed for home, I was starting to get feeling back in the foot. By the time I got to the end of run, only the bottom of my foot along the centerline from my toes to my heel was numb. It sort of felt like running with a roll of pennies lodged in my shoe. Perhaps if I had run another mile or so, the feeling would have gone away altogether.

Once I reached my street and started walking up the hill to my house, my foot was completely normal within 45 seconds. With any luck, with three days rest and a bit of stretching, I won’t be problem solving like this in Carlsbad with 19 miles to go in the race.

Thanks again to everyone who has encouraged me and provided great advice over the past 18 weeks. I certainly wouldn’t have tried this had it not been for you and hence, you all deserve a great deal of credit for prodding me to get into the best shape of my life. I truly appreciate your support. I’ll have my computer with me in California, but I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to post before I have to return home on Sunday afternoon. Anyone interested can look up the results on the Carlsbad Marathon Web Site. My bib number is 956.

Training for the week:
Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 6.2 miles w/2 @ MP; 8:49/mi avg pace
Wed: 7.2 miles w/2 @ MP; 8:38/mi avg pace
Thr: Rest Day
Fri: Travel Day
Sat: Rest Day

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mon pied dort encore

Right on schedule at 4 miles, I started to feel the tell-tale signs of numbness in my right foot. The tingling started in my toes and spread backwards towards the heel. By the time I finished mile 5, most of the bottom of my foot and sides of my right foot were “asleep”. I took Dusty’s advice and loosened my laces to see if that would help. In fact, I ran with my right shoe untied and the laces loosened for the last mile (at MP). I don’t think this helped much, but the problem didn’t get any worse. I tried to walk it off after I finished the course, but the feeling remained; however, once I stopped completely, the numbing sensation went away inside of 60 seconds.

I really appreciate all the comments you left yesterday. I really think that the problem is related to a nerve impingement somewhere above my right foot and suspect that it is either in my ankle or higher up on my calf. Both were very tight today and I could feel my ankle tightening as I ran. As for external causes, I really haven’t changed anything. I’m wearing the same shoes, socks, tops, shorts, glasses, hat, etc. I just don’t have that much gear to be swapping things around. I’ve got a few more days to work this out, so I’m not panicking yet.

I also had my yearly physical today. On the plus side, my doctor forgot my age and started giving me the typical talk assuming I was in my early 40’s. I had to remind him that I was a decade older. Heart rate was good (58), blood pressure was solid (128/80) and most of the other systems were working as expected. On the negative side, it also meant that I needed to have a prostate exam. I know that there are worse things women have to put up with, but it doesn’t make this exam any more enjoyable. But I survived and assuming that all the blood work comes back negative, I should be able to make it through another running season.

Hope your week is going great.

Training for the week:
Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 6.2 miles w/2 @ MP; 8:49/mi avg pace

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tagging Up

Anne tagged me for a book report. She very kindly thought it would get my mind off my taper. I appreciate the temporary respite.

Here are the rules:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks

Book: Larousse Concise French-English / English-French Dictionary; Catherine Love (Direction de l'ouvrage - General Editor)


corner vi [sirène] to blare out; vt [page] to turn down the corner of.
cornet nm -1 [d'aliment] cornet (like you didn't already know that), cone. -2 [de jeu] dice shaker.
corniaud nm -1 [chien] mongrel. -2 fam [imbécil] twit.

Since nearly everyone I know has been hit with this at least once, I'll tag anyone who just wants to join in the fun ... heck I learned something. I didn't know the word for twit before. Now that's a useful word to know.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


My youngest daughter’s boyfriend is up visiting from Tucson, so I couldn’t get out for my run until 11:30 this morning when my wife got home to pick up chaperon duties. For my last 12 miler of this training cycle, I ran a new route with a slight up-hill along the first 3 miles. When I started, temperatures were still in the low 40s and the cool air combined with the bright sun shine felt great.

I was feeling pretty good, so after a slow warm up, I dialed the pace down to 8:57 and just enjoyed the great weather. My dog was back to normal and what ever palsy had infected his brain on our last run was nowhere to be seen. He stuck to my left leg like a good dog. My life of bliss started falling apart however, on mile 8 when the bottom of my right foot started to tingle. By the time I was on mile 10 the foot felt like a stump. I accelerated my pace hoping to run through the problem, but that didn’t work. I was finally forced to stop and walk it off for a couple of minutes. Once I stopped, the feeling quickly came back to my foot and I was able to get moving again.

The same thing happened on mile 12. My right foot started to tingle and I was forced to stop for a minute to get the feeling back in my foot before continuing on. I went through my logs and saw that this happened 4 times in 2006. I was hoping that the problem was correlated with the age of the shoes or something else obvious, but it didn’t seem to be. So I don’t have a clue what is causing this problem. This is not exactly the confidence boost I was looking for today. Any ideas from the blogsphere?\

If any of you get a chance, go over and congratulate Pat for finishing his first 1/2 marathon today at PF Changs in Phoenix. In addition, Subhasish traveled all the way from Redmond Washington to run the 1/2 marathon this morning. I'm sure he was thinking it would be a little warmer, but he certainly finished strong. I also had two friends finish the marathon (3:29 and 3:57), but neither of them blog, so I'll just have to congratulate them for you.

Training for the week:

Mon: 7.0 miles, recovery w/10x100m strides; 8:15/mi avg pace
Tue: 8.0 miles, easy w/3x1 mile @7:20/mi; 8:23/mi avg pace
Wed: Rest and Travel
Thr: Rest
Fri: 5.1 miles, recovery w/6x100m strides; 9:01/mi avg pace
Sat: Rest
Sun: 12.1 miles, medium-long; 9:03/mi avg pace

Mileage for the week: 32.1 miles

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sticking with the Plan

I’ve been a good boy and held off running yesterday. Instead, I got back on the Pfitz schedule this morning with a quick 5 mile recovery w/ 6x100m. There’s nothing much to report, other than the fact that my dog seemed to have forgotten how to run. Due to the low mileage taper and my trip to Redmond this week, he hasn’t been out since last Sunday; however, you’d have thought that this morning was his first time. He was all over the place. Slowing down and tugging on the leash; running behind me; running around to my right side then back to the left. The dog was nuts. His little doggy brain finally got in tune with the run on mile 2 and he settled down.

Saturday is my third rest day of the week, followed by an easy 12 miler on Sunday. So, I won't be posting all that much. In case I don’t get to you, I’d like to wish all of you that are running in the Phoenix PF Chang’s R&R Marathon this Sunday the best of luck. It should be a fun race and the weather forecast is an excellent 36F (2C) with bright sunny skies.

Training for the week:

Mon: 7.0 miles, recovery w/10x100m strides; 8:15/mi avg pace
Tue: 8.0 miles, easy w/3x1 mile @7:20/mi; 8:23/mi avg pace
Wed: Rest and Travel
Thr: Rest
Fri: 5.1 miles, recovery w/6x100m strides; 9:01/mi avg pace

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Neither Rain nor Snow nor Dark of Night ...

OK sports fans. I’m starting to appreciate (just a little) what folks like Deene and Thomas have to put up with on a daily basis. I got off work late this afternoon with a significant cold front rolling through Seattle. It had rained most of the afternoon and the weather outlook for Wednesday morning was 31F (-1C) with snow showers. The current temperature was 38F (3C) and very wet, but the rain had more or less stopped. I didn’t relish the idea of rolling out of bed and driving down (read down hill) to the Sammamish River at my usual ungodly running time and slip and slide through the snow with no running tights (left them at home) in less than optimal running conditions. On the other hand, the hotel I’m staying at had a “happy hour” going on until 6:30 PM, so if I could only drag my butt out of bed in the morning, I could take Tuesday as a rest day and grab a couple glasses of wine and some free eats at the hotel.

The temptation of free foot and drink won me over and I took a book down to the lobby and had a semi-healthy dinner with two glasses of wine and enjoyed reading for an hour. Once I got back up to my room, I fiddled around for another hour, answered some eMail and posted a few comments on your blogs. All through this however, the Sammamish River Trail kept calling me. (Phil … It’s not raining … come out and run … you’ll like it … damn river). So I gave into the siren’s call, slipped into my running gear, took my gloves and head lamp and drove down to the river for a casual 8 miler w/ 3x1 mile intervals.

The first two miles were something straight out of a movie. It started to lightly snow just as I hit the trail and everything got real quiet. All l I could hear was my foot falls and the condensation from my breath combined with the snow flakes and shined brightly in my head lamp as I ran north on the trail. Unfortunately, the weather gods were having a jolly good time tonight and decided to turn the soft gentle snow into rain on mile 3. The rain kept getting heavier as I continued north and I finally had to take off my glasses and hook them over the band on my head lamp, trading off my ability to see clearly in the dark without my glasses with my total inability to see anything through the haze on the lens. And whereas the dry snow didn’t seem cold at all on my bare legs, the near freezing rain was not all comfortable.

I finally got out to 4 miles and turn around and started the first 1 mile interval. My game plan had been to take the pace down to 7:00/mi and see how long I could hold on. After a quarter mile I was booking along at 6:35 avg so I knew I needed to slow down. By the end of the first mile, my average pace had decreased to something closer 7:20. Following a two minute jog, I took off on the 2nd interval. It was still raining hard and I could now feel my socks soaking through, but at least my legs were completely numb so they weren’t bothering me anymore. Somewhere around the 1/2 mile point, my left show became untied, but fortunately, the shoe stayed on my foot and other than the annoyance of my shoe lace slapping my ankles, the shoe didn’t really slow me down.

By the time I got to the 3rd interval, the rain let up and I was just running through the cold night air with numb legs and wet feet. As hard as I’d tried on the last interval, I just couldn’t generate much power; although, in the end, I did about as well as the other intervals.

Mile splits: 7:21, 7:16, 7:21

Now I’ve got another quandary. In the last 3 days I’ve run 16 miles (at 8:56/mi), 7 miles (at 8:15/mi) and 8 miles (at 8:23/mi). I'm suppose to be in my taper, but I’ve been running hard and didn’t take a rest day on Monday as usual. Now it’s Tuesday and I only have two more workouts for the week: a 5 mile recovery and a 12 mile medium-long. Any suggestions as to when and how I should run these?

Hope your week is going great. I'll be happy to get back down into warmer weather on Wednesday (although I have really enjoyed Seattle on this trip)

Training for the week:

Mon: 7.0 miles, recovery w/10x100m strides; 8:15/mi avg pace
Tue: 8.0 miles, easy w/3x1 mile @7:20/mi; 8:23/mi avg pac

Monday, January 08, 2007

Break out Run

From time to time in course of human events, a runner just needs to do what feels right and throw out the %@#$ing plan. I made it to Seattle in one piece (although I got a middle seat somehow) and after a productive afternoon in our Redmond office, I decided that it was best to run my 7 miler this evening instead of Tuesday morning. I need to be back in the office at 7AM on Tuesday and just couldn’t face getting up at 4:30am.

Although the temperature this evening in Redmond was 45, the high humidity made it feel much colder at first to this desert dweller. However, I left my tights at home, so despite how cold I felt, I was running in shorts. After work, I checked into my hotel, changed into my running gear and drove over to the Sammamish River trail for a quick 7 miler. I also brought along a clean shirt and a pair of jeans so I could go grab some dinner at my favorite down-town Redmond eatery – Big Time Pizza (best beer in Redmond and the food absolutely rocks)

After parking the car at the trail head and walking around a bit to warm up, I turned on my head lamp and started down the trail. After a mile, I looked down at my Garmin and was shocked to see that I was doing better than 8:30/mi; but the legs felt strong and I was really enjoying the cool air damp air on my legs. I kept cruising for another mile until I was passed by another runner. I picked up the pace immediately and stuck on the guy's tail. This guy was pretty strong and after my Garmin had time to settle out, I realized we (I use the word we very liberally) were cruising along at 7:15/mi. I can certainly run 7:15 for 5 or 6 miles, but I was suppose to be running a recovery run and was already running way to fast, so after a 1/2 mile I dropped off his tail and resumed a more sensible pace (it was fun while it lasted)

I got to my turn-around point at 3.5 miles in just under 30 minutes and was more than a little concerned that my excursion with runner boy would cause me to bonk on the return leg - and I had yet to do my stride outs. However, I was feeling pretty good as I headed back down the trail towards my car, so I just kept my foot on the gas and cruised along through mile 5 before I started the 10x100m strides. On the 6th stride, I got to pass 4 joggers out for a casual night run. Although I knew darn well that I couldn’t keep up a sub-7:00/mi pace for more than the distance of a 100m stride, it was still fun to chase down a group and pass them running full out. They didn't know I was pushing really hard and my recovery pace was much faster than their jogging pace, so I was in no danger of getting caught. With 10 strides on the return leg, I finished up this section with a negative split, well below 30 minutes.

Outbound – 3.5 miles @ 8:26/mile
Inbound -3.5 miles @ 8:04/mile

After the run, I walked back to my car and my glasses immediately steamed up when I closed the door. I drove the car (with the windows down) to a secluded part of the parking lot and walked around outside in the cold night air for 10 minutes before I cooled down enough to slip into my fresh cloths. After changing cloths, I motored over to the restaurant, only to find that it was closed for renovation (I must have missed the eMail when they asked my permission). Fortunately, I was able to find another Italian Restaurant near by to supply my required dose of carbohydrates. Like most towns, there are plenty of common chain restaurants in Redmond, but I usually avoid these when traveling alone. I like to find the smaller one-of-a-kind type of places where the chief has to live or die by the decisions they make on the food. This place, Frankie’s Pizza and Pasta, didn’t disappoint me. The pasta was cooked superbly and the meat sauce (which the waitress told me was spicy) was pleasantly mild.

I really appreciated your comments from yesterday’s post. For the past two days, I’ve stuck with a good diet and managed to get in a couple of decent runs (ignoring the fact that today was supposed to be a rest day). I hope the rest of the week goes as well. Maybe I am getting the hang of this taper thing.

Training for the week:

Mon: 7.0 miles, recovery w/10x100 strides; 8:15/mi avg pace

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Last longish run

This morning was the last semi-long run of my marathon training and the weather gods were smiling. Right after sun-up the skies were clear and the temperature was at a cool 34F (1C), so I left my house with my long sleeve running shirt, shorts and gloves. With no wind and the sun peeking out from between the trees, I was certainly toasty warm for my 1st 5 mile loop; although I was starting to sweat quite a bit by the time I got to 4 miles. I finished up the first lap feeling great with an average pace of 9:06/mi and my heart rate stayed around 133.

I swung back to my house at the end of 5 miles and dropped off my dog, gloves and long sleeve shirt and headed off on the 2nd loop wearing the same gear I wear throughout the summer when the temperatures are closer to 90F (32C). The cool air on my skin was invigorating and I really sped up on mile 6 (perhaps too much), but settled back into 9:00/mi pace by the time I got to mile 7. My average pace on the 2nd lap was 8:52/mi and my heart rate stayed close to 137.

I added an extra mile loop to the last lap to bring the lap distance up to 6 miles but found my mind drifting to other thoughts and I lost track of what I was doing. My HR dropped back down to 133 and my pace was dropping off as well, so I picked up the pace to correct the problem on mile 12. However, my breathing was getting a bit heavier as my heart rate drifted up to 140, but pushed on to keep my average lap pace under 8:58/mi. I pushed a lot harder on mile 15 and 16 to get up the last couple of hills and maintain a decent pace (see elevation chart below). After 16 miles I was ready to call it a day.

Well, I got through my first week of the taper. My weight is up, my diet sucks and my energy levels are down. Next week I’ll be in Seattle, but I should be able to get all my runs in. I only have one tough run scheduled next week, a 8mi w/3x1600 @ 7:00/mi on Wednesday. As long as it isn’t snowing, I should be able to get this run completed. I also need to focus on eating well. I think my energy issues and weight are related to my poor eating more than anything else. I am taking Mike's advice to heart and laying off the beer and ice cream until after the marathon, but my body is craving high fat / low carb foods as the mileage drops off (I think Anne warned me about this). I hope this 16 mile jaunt will turns things around.

I wish you all a great week of running.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8.9 miles w/5x600m @ 6:51/mi pace
Wed: 5.0 miles, recovery, 9:16/mi avg pace
Thr: Rest Day (ZZZZzzz)
Fri: 4.1 miles w/6x100m strides; 8:39/mi avg pace
Sat: 8k @ 7:28/mi avg pace + 2.7 mile Warm up
Sun: 16.1 miles, medium-long, 8:56/mi avg pace

Total Mileage for the week: 41.7 miles

Elevation Profile - Not exactly flat, but not too hilly either:

Saturday, January 06, 2007

No PR in Sight

It was certainly a disappointing morning. The skies were clear and temperatures in the mid-40s with a stiff breeze coming out of the north. This is just great weather. Cool enough to warm up in a long sleeve shirt, but not so cold that it's uncomfortable to run at speed in a short sleeve shirt and shorts.

Despite the fine weather, the run wasn’t all that good. The track at PVCC is set up along a north-south alignment and every timeI went around the south end of the track and headed norhth back into the wind I felt as if I was running straight up hill. Gliding down the west side of the track with the wind at my back was fun, but running into the wind really wore me down.

The first couple of laps were right on pace, but I soon started to fade. After the first 1600 hundred I knew I was still a few seconds up on my required pace, but on the 2nd 1600, I was loosing 3 seconds per lap. I had thoughts of making up the lost time on the last half of the run, but it wasn’t to be. I just kept slowing down lap after lap. A fellow in a NAVY sweat shirt showed up about 12 laps into the run and I chased after him for a few laps, but I just couldn’t get my lap times back on target.

Final result – 8000m in 37:06 – 7:28/mi avg pace.

400m Splits: 1:43, 1:48, 1:49, 1:49, 1:48, 1:51, 1:51, 1:52, 1:52, 1:52, 1:54, 1:52, 1:53, 1:53, 1:52, 1:54, 1:54, 1:55, 1:56, 1:55

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8.9 miles w/5x600m @ 6:51/mi pace
Wed: 5.0 miles, recovery, 9:16/mi avg pace
Thr: Rest Day (ZZZZzzz)
Fri: 4.1 miles w/6x100m strides; 8:39/mi avg pace
Sat: 8k @ 7:28/mi avg pace + 2.7 mile Warm up

Friday, January 05, 2007

Taper Schmaper

I’m singing the taper blues. Here it is Friday and my total mileage for week is an outstanding 18 miles. Yes folks, for the 1st 5 days of the week I’ve racked up 18 whole miles. Just count them: 9 on Tuesday, 5 on Wednesday and 4 on Friday. How does he ever do it? Instead of rejoicing at the low volume of activity, my body is complaining very forcefully. My weight is shooting up and my legs feel down right lethargic. I’m also getting all sorts of phantom pains. Yesterday, I knelt down to play with my dog and I felt a sharp pain in my right knee when I stood up. I limped around for 30 minutes after that. Last night my neck hurt so much that I considered digging dig out a hot compress so I could sleep. Then this morning, I thought I was developing shin splints. I’m a wreck. At this rate, I’ll need to hire an ambulance to get me to the start line.

Things ought to improve this weekend. I have a simulated 8K race scheduled for Saturday morning and Pfitz is allowing me to run 16 miles on Sunday. If I can get below 35:41 for my 8K, I’ll have my first PR of the year. I’m running the 8K at Paradise Valley Community College - PVCC (Union Hills & 32nd Street) around 8:00 AM Saturday morning. Drop me an eMail if you’re interested in joining the race. I may push the start time out to 9:00 AM to allow the air temp to warm up a bit. The forecasted temperature for 8:00 AM is 36F (2C)

Hope your week is going better than mine:

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8.9 miles w/5x600m @ 6:51/mi pace
Wed: 5.0 miles, recovery, 9:16/mi avg pace
Thr: Rest Day (ZZZZzzz)
Fri: 4.1 miles w/6x100m strides; 8:39/mi avg pace

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1st run of 2007

With New Year’s Day falling on a Monday, today was my first official run of the year: 8 miles w/5x600m at 5K pace. This run just wasn’t going to happen this morning. It was not only my first day back to the office in what seemed to be a bazillion weeks (actually closer to 3), but my 14 year-old daughter was going to Tucson to visit her sister and her boyfriend, so someone had to get her to the Airport at 7:15 AM to catch the shuttle – I volunteered, seeing as how I’m the only healthy driver left in the house at the moment (wife and other daughter are sick).

Since I missed my run in the morning, the only other time I had to run it was 5 PM this afternoon after I got home from work (I left the office earlier than usual to make sure this would happen). I had just enough time to run 3 miles over to the track, get in the intervals before the track closed at 6 PM and then run the 3 miles back – yeh – I know that adds up to more than 8 miles, but I was quickly running out of daylight as well as options.

My goal was to keep the interval pace down under 7:00/mi, but I forgot my cheat sheet in my haste to get out the door and couldn’t remember what the timing intervals needed to be. The only thing I could remember is that I needed to be at or under 48 seconds at 200m to be reasonably assured of being on pace. Someday I’ll listen to Ewen who just laughs every time he sees us converting pace figures on a metric track back to miles, but old habits are very hard to break.

Once I got to the track I jog around to the start line and took off on the first interval. As usual, I had the track to myself and felt pretty good accelerating up to speed. I passed the 200m mark at 48 seconds (my magic number), so I knew I was in range. At the end of the interval, I jogged the 200m back to the start line. Pfitz allows 90 seconds between repeats and a slow 200m jog takes about 80 seconds, so it works out very nicely for me.

The 2nd interval wasn’t nearly as good. I passed 200m with 50 seconds showing on my watch and had to pick up the pace on the last 400m to keep it close. On the 3rd interval two joggers showed up, so I had someone to blast by, but I was starting to struggle. I thought I was in the groove and just cruising on the 4th interval, but when I passed the 200m mark at 52 seconds I had to turn on the after-burners to get back on track. And I really had to work the 4th interval to keep my shoulders relaxed. My head was starting to feel as if it were simply collapsing into my neck.

I really got focused on the 5th interval and maintained decent (for me) form all the way around. I passed 200m at 40 something (it was too dark by this time to read my watch), but at least I was close. I kept the pace as fast as my little legs would turn-over and got through the last interval at 2:30, which I thought was pretty decent, but my mind was able to do the math after 5 intervals.

Actual Splits: 2:32, 2:33, 2:34, 2:36 (yikes), 2:30 (yes!)
Average Pace: 6:51/mi (4:15/km)

After slowly jogging my last 200m recovery, I headed off on the 3 mile run home. I got out of there before the grounds Nazi showed up and tossed me off the track and actually enjoyed the 3 mile run home in the cool night air. I made it through every traffic light after I left the campus and didn’t have a single car pull out in front of me over the entire distance. What a great way to end my first run of the year. I hope your week is going as well.

Training for the Week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8.9 miles w/5x600m @ 6:51/mi pace