Thursday, June 28, 2007

3peat

Three times is a charm (or close to a charm). Temperature was a little hotter on Wednesday afternoon, 109F (43C) and I started an hour earlier than Monday and Tuesday, so the sun was beating down on me nearly all the way around the hill. Although I felt as if I was dragging up each of the 3 major hills, I got around the 3 mile loop 30 seconds faster than Tuesday. Embolden by the improved performance, I set out for a second loop. However, less than a quarter mile into the second loop, the combined effect of high temperatures and 3 consecutive hill runs took its toll; my legs were getting real wobbly and that's a bad feeling. My quads were shot and HR racing, so I bagged the second lap for another day and walked back to my car

 

By providence, this turned out to be the right decision. When I got home, my daughters asked if I wanted to go out to dinner and were willing to wait until I cooled down and cleaned up. I was totally shocked after we finished dinner when my 19 year-old pulled out her debit card and paid for the meal. This is the first time any of my kids has ever sprung for a check. Amazing. I was so amazed that I treated them to a movie (Even Almighty) after dinner.

 

Hope all is going well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hill Repeats

Another glorious 108F (42C) afternoon and another 3 mile trail run around Lookout Mountain. Although my back is still stiff, I felt a lot better than yesterday and took a couple of minutes off my total time around the hill. Still used the same strategy … run the flats and up hills; picks my way through the rocks walking down hill. Seems to have worked. Perhaps next week, I can get back to running something closer to “normal” speed.




LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN HILL PROFILE
Not exactly Everest

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hitting the Trail

After a week nursing a sore back, I reached my breaking point this afternoon. Despite temperatures hovering around 108F (42C), I just had to get out and run. My back was still sore, but the feeling of my legs slowly atrophying was much worse. Knowing full well that I’d just go out and screw up my back big-time if I tried running a road course, I elected to run a 3 mile loop around Lookout Mountain instead (see picture I jacked off another site to the left). This is a rocky trail is tough enough to keep the pace slow and I further slowed things down by only jogging the up hills and the flats and walking down the steep sections.

Strategy worked. I kept the average pace to something close to 14/mi and my average HR at 145 (with excursions as high as 170 jogging up hill). Damn, it felt good to be out and moving again. I’ll let you know if I’m as gleeful tomorrow morning.

Thanks for all your positive comments this past week while I haven’t been blogging. I don’t really have much to say when I’m not running.

Have a great week.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Home Alone

After traveling to Somerset New Jersey, Manhattan, San Diego, Toulouse and Macon Georgia over the past 3 weeks, I just couldn't face another trip. This weekend, my wife is in Manhattan Beach, California; my two oldest daughters are in Hartford, Connecticut; my youngest daughter is at another soccer tournament in San Bernardino, California; and I'm home - alone; nursing my sore back. I know I need to get back on the road soon, but I think I'll stay in town one more week and not try another plane ride until my back is 100%

Non running related injuries suck. Like many of you, I've suffered through my share of running related problems; wearing them like a badge of courage. But screwing up my back last week on the plane ride from Paris to Atlanta was something altogether different. Although my back is feeling better by the day and today, for the first time in a week, I was able walk up-right without that tell-tale Cro-Magnon lurch, the damn thing still hurts too much to run on; so here I sit and bitch. But as that obnoxious little twirp in Annie sang over and over ...

The sun'll come out tomorrow,
So ya gotta hang on 'til tomorrow,
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow
You're always a day away

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Inflexible

My lack of flexibility finally caught up with me. Although I set up an objective to work on flexibility this year, I haven’t stuck to anything so far and it caught up with me on the flight from Paris to Atlanta this past Friday. I fell asleep shortly after passing over Newfoundland and must have got myself in a awkward position. Although I felt OK when I got off the plane, 3 hours later I was pitched over in pain and shuffling along.

After spending a great weekend with my dad in Macon, I flew back to Phoenix on Monday morning and got myself a much needed massage. I walked in hunched over and walked out upright. My back is still hurting today, but I expect to start running again by the weekend.

Hope your week is going well

Random photos from Macon, Georgia

I spent the weekend drinking sweet tea and cheap beer and visiting relatives in my home town of Macon, Georgia. I don't want to turn this blog into a travel log, but I did take a few photos before my ailing camera finally failed completely on Sunday afternoon.



Street in front of my father's house. This street stretches for a mile into the fog of a humid Saturday morning.



The Ocmulgee River behind one of my relative's house. This river was navigatable in the late 19th century.




This lab will retrieve anything from the river, including a 5 gallon water jug loaded with 20 lbs of water.



The same dog diving to pick up a smaller bottle off the bottom of the river.



And swiming underwater looking for the bottle. I've never seen a dog swim underwater.

Friday, June 15, 2007

French Connection

I flew back to the US today after a successful trip to France. Although I got everything business-wise completed, I wasn't there long eneough to catch up with all my professional and social friends; although, I did get in one fantastic dinner with the best chef I know in France. He may not be the best chef in the country, but he cooks better than anyone I've ever met. From a running perspective, I got in the two recovery runs I had planned on very little sleep; a 6 miler on Wednesday and a 5 miler on Thursday.

Heading east from the US, I always have trouble the first couple of nights in Toulouse and this trip was no exception. I got to sleep around mid-night on Tuesday night, but I forgot to turn off my mobile and at 2:20 AM, I was awakened by a call from someone in Phoenix. I couldn’t get back to sleep for the next 3 hours, which put a big hurt on my first run. The picture on the left is my best euro-trash look after no sleep on Tuesday.

Instead of trying to power through the run, I grabbed my camera and took a slow 6 mile running tour of Toulouse. Sorry about the picture quality, the weather was warm and overcast, so the light really sucked for photographs. After a quick half-mile warmup getting to the river from my hotel, I got up on the levee and headed north towards town.



Some of the buildings in town run right up the river, so the paths aren’t contiguous, but it sure makes for great running none-the-less.



After a couple of miles along the river, I crossed over a bridge and headed towards my favorite canal in the city. I just love this place. On a sunny summer day, the reflection of all these trees on the still water is just surreal and quickly lulls you into a sense of inner peace as the noise of the city melts away. I somewhat cheated on the picture below. I didn't like any of the pictures I took while running this canal on Wednesday, so I inserted one I took in May 2004.



After completeing a lap around this short canal, I returned too the hotel via the same route, but took a quick detour through one of the many public gardens in town.



Wednesday night wasn’t much better on the sleep front and the quality of the light on Thursday morning wasn’t any better than Wednesday, so I left my camera at the hotel and headed out into a part of Toulouse I’d never been in. Found a couple of great bike paths and felt pretty good through the entire run. This recovery seems to be working.

Thursday night, I headed out to the sprawling megalopolis of Bellegarde St. Marie; a town of 181. It was nearly dark and the light sucked when I got there, so I didn't get any good pictures this trip. My friend, le chef fantastique, lives in a 200 year old house downtown. He has one of 5 houses in the actual village proper; which, like many small towns in the area, sits atop a hill with a church in the middle. Most of the people live on the farms below. Although I didn't get back to the hotel until mid-night and had a 4AM wakeup call, the chance to spend time with him and his family was well worth any pain and suffering I had from lack of sleep today. The picture to the left is chef and his wife in their kitchen. These are really great people, dispite the fact that neither of them are runners :) Their kids are also super; however, as a typical American, it always takes me by suprise when their kids, whom I have known for 5 years, walk up and execute la bise when they greet me.

Of all French gestures, this is probably the hardest for us Americans to figure out; altough it certainly is a key indicator as to how invested the french person is in the relationship. Besides my friend's kids, I only have 4 women and 1 guy that greet me with la bise. Fortunately, all my friends are from the same region, so the number (2) and the initial side (left) is the same for all ... one less thing for me to worry about. However, it sure is a pleseant gesture.

I'm in Macon, Georgia visiting with my father for Father's Day this weekend. My back is a bit sore (must have slept in a bad position on the plane), but I still hope to get in two good runs before I head back to Phoenix on Monday.

Have a great weekend all. I'm sorry this post ended up to be much longer than I expected, but I've been without a private internet connection for nearly a week and haven't been able to post at all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Recovery Week

Post marathon recovery week #1 is over and per the Pfitz plan, I only ran 13.2 miles in 3 runs. Next week I'll get up to 21 miles with 4 runs of 5, 5, 4 and 7 miles. However, the gods of travel have decided that one week is eneough time to stay in town, so I'll be heading out to Toulouse, France on Monday morning. I'll be in Toulouse through Thursday and fly back to the US on Friday morning. I got a great deal on airfare (as great as it can get with last minute tickets to Europe) flying through Atlanta, so I decided to spend next weekend with my dad in Macon, Georgia.

I couldn't get into my usual hotel, so I don't know what sort of internet coverage I'll have in Toulouse. If I can't get a good connection through the hotel, I won't be able to keep up with your blogs while I'm gone. If not, I wish you all a great week and I'll do my best to catch up when I get back to Phoenix.

TRAINING FOR THE WEEK:

MON: Rest Day
TUE: Rest Day
WED: 4.0 miles, recovery; 10:03/mi avg pace
THR: Rest Day
FRI: 4.0 miles, recovery; 9:54/mi avg pace
SAT: Rest Day
SUN: 5.2 miles, recovery; 9:25/mi avg pace

Total training for the week: 13.2 Miles.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Slow Recovery

I ran a second 4 mile recovery run this morning, a little faster than yesterday. Things are still hurting as before and I’m having a hard time figuring out how I’m suppose to ice the region … oh well … I’ve got a month before I build back up to any real mileage to figure it out.

Have a great weekend.

TRAINING FOR THE WEEK:

MON: Rest Day
TUE: Rest Day
WED: 4.0 miles, recovery; 10.3/mi avg pace
THR: Rest Day
FRI: 4.0 miles, recovery; 9:54/mi avg pace

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Muse

I think that I found my muse. In my San Diego Marathon race report, I mentioned that a women latched onto my right shoulder just when I needed a little extra help to get me back on pace. We ran together, not speaking, for a couple of miles and then I lost sight of her.

Last night when I was scanning through the results for other Arizona runners to see if any other ARR club members were racing this weekend that I might have missed, I stumbled on the following runner:

Catherine Pickering: clock time: 3:54:52; chip time: 3:53:47

Damn, that was very close to my time -

My Numbers :clock time: 3:54:51, chip time: 3:53:43

With my lightning quick mental prowess, I realized that she finished a second behind me and crossed the start line 3 seconds in front of me. I took a look at her finishing photo and guess what she was wearing!



Next, I went through my pictures and guess who I found:



I can't imagine that she really followed me for 4 hours, but the numbers and photos seem to indicate that she was lurking around back there.

OTHER RANDOM PHOTOS



Mile 26, you can see my new best friend 30 feet behind me on the right side of the picture



Crossing the finish line. You know who is out of frame on the far left side of the chute.



This is the Muse on the left side of the chute at the same time.



I really like this picture. My shoulders are relaxed (very odd for me) and my hands are low, backs straight. I actually look like I'm enjoying myself. Of course, you can see Catherine back 50 feet or so on the left side of the picture.

Exemplary Lifestyle

As I promised, I visited my GP today to get my lower abdominal pain checked out. As he is reading through my rather thick file (I’ve been with this office for 27 years), he mumbles something about “exemplary lifestyle”. Right there on my summary page, he has written the words “Exemplary Lifestyle”. He said he wrote it because I keep my weight under control, eat right, exercise regularly and do couple of other things I can’t remember. I felt like I was back in Miss Fischer’s kindergarten class and just got a gold star on my finger painting project. Of course, none of that was relevant to the abdominal pain.

After a lot of probing, prodding, thumping, twisting and listening, my GP declared that there was nothing seriously wrong with me. The problem appears to be muscular. He suggested icing the area when it was sore, yoga to make me more limber and sent me and my exemplary lifestyle off into the world. I guess it’s good to know that it isn’t serious; just another sports injury. I’ll ice it until it goes away.

Although I didn’t have much luck with the abdominal pain, he did tie the numbness across the bottom of my foot with the tightness in my Achilles tendon. Again, no solution, but at least someone validated that the two were tied together, which matched my observation.

On the running front, I went out on a short 4 mile recovery run this morning at a blazing 10:03/mi average pace. There’s nothing special to report about the run; however, it is two days sooner than I was able to start up any running after my first marathon. I plan to spend the next several weeks cruising through the Pfitz post race recovery plan and take in a 5K on July 4th. After that, I’ll need to figure out what I want to do this summer and plan out my fall racing program. It should be a life of leasure for the next few months as full heat of summer descends on central Arizona.

Hope your week is going well.

TRAINING FOR THE WEEK:

MON: Rest Day
TUE: Rest Day
WED: 4.0 miles, recovery; 10.3/mi avg pace

Monday, June 04, 2007

San Diego R&R Marathon

It was a perfect day for a marathon Sunday morning in San Diego; overcast skies and temperatures around 61F (16C). I was staying at my sister-in-law’s house in Carlsbad, 30 miles up the coast, so I set my alarm at 3:45AM to give myself enough time to make the drive down to San Diego, find the participant parking lot and take the shuttle to the start line in Balboa Park. With all the worry about getting to the parking on time and working through the crowds, I was standing next to the start line by 5:30.

Once I got there, I was happy to see that I was assigned to corral #4; only a few hundred feet from the start line. Instead of cramming into the corral at 6:00 AM with most of the other folks, I milled around in the park until 6:25 before getting entering the corral. This really helped to keep me calm and my legs loose. I knew I’d take off slow in the beginning of the race, so a warm up was totally redundant. Unlike the Carlsbad marathon, I had resolved to run my race and stick with my game plan regardless of what was going on around me. And my plan was simple. Keep the pace between 8:50 – 9:00 through 20 miles and then have some fun. At Carlsbad this past January, my pace was all over the map for the first 6 miles but averaged 9/mi. After that, I sped up through mile 18 and then promptly blew up and limped in at a sub 10/mi pace over the last 8 miles. That wasn’t a lot of fun.

When the gun went off at 6:35, I crossed the start line within 67 seconds – pretty neat. Right out of the gate, the road was wide and there were no slow moving runners, groups running 10 abreast, baby joggers or any of the other impediments I usually find at other large races; there were just a lot of people running relatively fast for their projected finish time.

As soon as I went across the start line and headed north out of Balboa Park people started streaming by me. Where were all these folks going? My inner voice kept telling me to stay calm and run my race, knowing full well that I’d be seeing these folks again in 20 miles. Try as I might to hold back however, I still finished Mile 1 at 8:34. This wasn’t going to work. After Mile 1, the course loops back to Balboa Park on mile 2 and 3 and runs down hill into the city. Miles 5 through 8 wind around downtown San Diego, but I really didn’t get a good handle on my pace until Mile 7 as the downtown portion was ending and the up the hill portion along highway 163 started.

The climb up 163 isn’t too steep and only lasts 2 miles. I’ve heard of complaints about this climb. 163 is a freeway so the road is banked to handle the higher speeds and the concrete is grooved and very rough; but the road has a narrow asphalt shoulder that was perfectly acceptable. Along the way up this road, a fellow I know from my running club (Arizona Road Racers) passed me. I picked up my pace a little to keep up with him; however, even though he was stopping every few hundred feet to take pictures, he was running 20 to 30 seconds per mile faster than wanted to go and we said good bye on mile 10. Just as well, I would have burned out if I tried to keep up with him on the flats.

I can’t remember much about Miles 10 through 13. The course weaves through Any Town, USA for these miles and other than the timing mats at 13.1 miles, there wasn’t much to remember; or maybe I was in the zone and didn’t see anything.

I crossed the half-marathon point right on schedule at 1:55:43 and headed out into the no-man’s land between miles 14 to 20 in a long loop around Mission Bay. I did pretty well during this part of the race keeping my pace just under 9:00/mi. My mile to mile splits were a lot closer together than the first half and I was finally getting into a steady rhythm. I met a couple of nice people in this section, but I mostly tried to stay focused on my pace and conserve energy for the last 6 miles. I was also dumping water on my head at every water station to stay cool. I’m sure I looked like a drowned rat, but it worked. Each time the water flowed down my back, I got a little pick-me-up in pace.

It’s funny how a runner remembers his failures instead of his successes. I dreaded reaching Mile 18 since this was the point I blew up at Carlsbad; however, this time the 18 MILE sign went by without issue. Legs felt fine, breathing was under control and my pace was still good; however, it wasn’t until Mile 20 breezed by that I started to believe I could get a PR out of this race. I held a sub 9:00 pace on Mile 20 but then got a wake up call on Mile 21. Somehow, I lost focus on this section and logged a pathetic 9:25. This was just not acceptable.

Fortunately out of nowhere, an angel in a lime green technical top appeared at my right shoulder and started pushing me along. I don’t know where this woman came from or how long she had been following me, but she locked onto my right side a half step behind and just kept pushing me along. I can’t remember much about her (one sweaty runner looks pretty much like another sweaty runner), but to have someone running with me at this stage of the race significantly raised my spirits after the poor showing on Mile 21. Even though I know she was using me to help pace her, to have this unspoken companionship after running for more than 3 hours was exactly what I needed. Mile 22 improved to 8:54 and Mile 23 flew by in 8:38. Unfortunately, I dropped my muse somewhere along Mile 23. I turned around briefly to giveher some encouragement, but she had disappeared in the crowd behind me.

It would have been great if she could have kept up with me, but that wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking around for someone to latch onto for the last two miles. In shorter races, I usually spot my next victim and chase them down during this stage of a race. However, this tactic wasn’t going to work. There were way too many people and the field ahead of me was littered with those crazies that blew by me 20 miles earlier. Many of these folks were reduced to walking or were hunched over doing the slow-death-jog, hoping to survive the rest of the race. On the other hand, I had people passing me so fast that I couldn’t latch onto to them. So it seemed as if I was either getting passed by really strong runners or passing walkers that had taken off way too fast; I was on my own again. I was also struggling to keep my shoulders loose and relaxed, but knew that the finish line on the Marine Corp Base was getting closer. I also became aware that the sun had finally broken through the morning gloom and the temperature was starting to rise, but still, I only had two miles to go, so I just gutted it out and kept running.

The end was anti-climatic. Since I hadn’t blown up, I felt great. Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned what I was doing in the days / hours before the race and didn’t even have a clue how I was getting to the race until 8PM on Saturday night. With all the uncertainty (read: lack of planning) I hadn’t arrange any meet ups before or after the race. So I picked up finishers medal, got on the shuttle bus to the parking lot and drove back to Carlsbad.

The details:

Start to 10K > 53:59 – Avg Pace > 8:41/mile
10K to Half > 1:01:44 – Avg Pace > 8:57/mile
Half to 21 Miles > 1:10:52 – Avg Pace > 8:58/mile
21 Miles to Finish > 47:08 – Avg Pace > 9:03/mile


Overall, I was very happy with this race. The pacing was much better than my first marathon and the results showed the same. My average pace from 10K through Mile 21 was very steady and if it I hadn’t lost focus on Mile 21, my average pace over the last 5 miles would have been closer to 8:59 instead of 9:03. Not blowing up at the end and proving that I can run this distance on only 12 weeks of training plus a ton of travel is a great confidence booster. Plus, other than
some minor soreness in my quads, I haven’t had any physical issues resulting from this race. Now the trick will be to plan out a training cycle that will push down my average pace to something closer to 8:45 for my next marathon.

If you have a chance, check out Addy and Dawn. Addy ran a fantastic PR and dropped an hour off her time from last year’s San Diego R&R Marathon. That’s just amazing. Dawn left the chilly weather in Canada to run this marathon. Dawn isn’t the faster runner on the course but has more heart than most of us. Anyone that will fly all the way to San Diego to spend 7 hours running a marathon has a lot more courage than me.

Thanks again for your great comments leading up to this race. I can’t tell you how much I thought about you folks during my 4 hour tour of San Diego. I don’t run with a MP3 player, so I had a lot of time to think. Knowing that there were runners out there tracking my progress really helped to keep me going. I’ll do my best to catch up with everyone’s blogs this week now that I’m back in sunny Phoenix. Have a great week.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Central Park

I finally made it out to California for the San Diego R&R Marathon. My bib number is 4504 for anyone interested in following from home. Times will posted for 10k, half marathon, 21 miles and finish as the race progresses.

While I was still in Manhattan this week I got in two good runs in Central Park; both starting at Columbus Circle. The first was a single counter-clockwise loop in 52:03 (8:32/mi). The 2nd run was a counter-clockwise loop followed by a clockwise loop in 1:53:08 (9:13/mi). What a great place to run. After putting in hundreds and hundreds of miles by myself, it was great to run with other people for a change.

Sorry I haven't kept up with your blogs during this vacation. My internet connections have been spotty at best. I'll post after the marathon Sunday and I'll start catching up with what's going on with everyone. Thanks for all your comments this week. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment while I've been silent. Best of luck to all those running tomorrow.