Friday, August 31, 2007

Heading for the hills

Last night, I took my black lab and ventured out into the warm night air for a 6 miler along the Piestewa Freeway (aka SR51). A dust storm blew through the area earlier in the evening but there was only gusting wind and an occasional bolt of lighting flashing about by the time I hit the trail. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but at least I was running outside. It took my dog a good 30 minutes and nearly a quart of water before he stopped his heavy panting. I faired much better.

Tonight I opted for another run at the gym. I needed to get in a simulated hill run and make sure I am capable of making it up the 400' hill I’ll face on Monday during the Labor Day 8 miler in Tucson. After a brief warm up at 9:30/mi, I took the pace down to 8:54/mi and finished out the first 30 minute session on the treadmill. On the second 30 minute session, I started raising the machine's elevation after I got out past the 0.5 mile point.

I knew I needed to be averaging something close to 30' up for every 0.1 mile, but I hadn’t done the math to figure out the equivalent gradient before I started. 2% wasn’t steep enough and 3% didn’t cut it. After 0.2 miles, I needed have climbed least 60' and I was only at 40', so I jacked up the treadmill to a 7.5% gradient. That did the trick.

Once I caught up, I backed the machine down to 6.5% and left it there for the rest of the 1.5 mile climb. My HR reacted as you’d expect and was soon pushing 163. I back my pace down to 9:24/mi to keep my HR under 160 and cruised on up the hill. At the 1.5 mile point, I started lowering the elevation until I was running flat again. The total climb was 446' and I’d managed to survive without breaking my HR monitor.

Once my HR dropped back in the 140s, I started lowering the pace again and was soon running at 7:24/mi. I held this pace through the end of the second 30 minute and started up a 3rd session. Since I’d already got in a good hour of aerobic exercise, there wasn’t any need to maintain a pedestrian pace for last couple of miles I needed to stretch the run out to 8 miles. I soon had the treadmill moving at 7:14/mi and then down to 7:04/mi. At the start of the second mile, I took the pace down to 6:50/mi and finished out the last 0.2 miles at 6:40/mi.

Other Running News: Did anyone catch Bernard Lagat’s comments after winning the 1500m at the world championships? Lagat has been a US citizen for 3 years, but he seems to have figured out what's it all about much better than most of his 300 million countrymen. While draped with the US Flag following his win, he said, “When you’re carrying this, it means a lot. You’re representing everybody, the victims of Katrina, everybody. Those who are serving in the war in Iraq. This is for everybody in the United States.” Not the most eloquent lines ever spoken, but he certainly understands the essence of being a citizen on the world stage. He has a lot teach our over paid and overly pampered professional athletes.

Have a great week.


Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 7.3 miles, 8:17/mi avg pace
Wed: 5.6 miles, 9:37/mi avg pace
Thr: 8.6 miles, 8:41/mi avg pace

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Running in Place

Running on a treadmill is a lot like playing a video game; you can perform feats of superhuman performance without the limitations of reality getting in the way and with temperatures in Phoenix still outlandishly hot, even by Sonoran Desert standards, running at the gym has become the only viable option short of buying a large box of Bon Bons and veging out on the nearest couch. In fact, Phoenix broke the old record of 28 days over 110F yesterday when the high hit 111 this afternoon. Damn, it's hot.

Instead of venturing outside, I hit the gym last night at 10PM for a 60 minute run. The first 30 minutes sailed by at an 8:56/mi average pace with the last 20 minutes run close to 8:27/mi. My breathing and HR stayed under control so I decided to start pushing a little harder on the second 30 minute session. Starting at 8:27/mi, I took the pace to 8:06/mi after 10 minutes and then down to 7:30 at the 15 minute point. My HR continued to climb as the pace decreased. It stayed around 150 while running 7:30, but drifted up to 160 at 7:04. With 2 minutes to go, I’d passed the 7 mile point for the hour and could either start my cool down or crank the speed up again. I chose the later pushing the pace to 6:49 … again, a superhuman performance, way beyond my capabilities on real asphalt. But the belt just went around and around and around as the clock ticked off the final seconds of the second 30 minutes session.

I’m not going to be able to run indoors forever. I’m signed up to run the Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run next Monday. It’s a hilly 8 mile course through Saguaro National Park. Temperatures in Tucson should be in the low to mid 70s on Monday morning, so I should be able to survive. I don’t intend to burn up the course any way.

Have a great week

Monday, August 27, 2007

West coast

You folks that live by the beach have it made. After floundering and flailing in the Arizona heat for most of July and August, I finally got in two days in the cooler climes of Southern California. Although the locals were sweltering under highs of 78F, I found my own Nirvana. As usual, I was in Irvine this weekend supporting my daughter's soccer team at a tournament, so I didn't have that much time for running, but I did manage to squeeze in nearly 8 miles at a 8:40/mi average pace over Saturday and Sunday. The remarkable aspect of it all was my HR. Whereas running any faster than 9:30/mi in the 100F+ night time temperatures in Central Arizona will cause my HR to sore to heights commensurate with a 5K, my HR stayed under 140 running nearly a minute per mile faster while in California.
To be fair, I didn't have the time to clock any real mileage, so my HR could very well have continued to drift higher and higher as the runs progressed, but still ... I was moving a heck of lot faster and exerting not nearly has much energy.
Hope you have a great week.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Heat Index

The heat continues. I slogged through 7.3 miles along Arizona SR 51 (the Piestawa Freeway) on Wednesday night. The temperature was still 103F at 9:30PM after I’d finished up. We are also in danger of breaking our record most days over 110F. The current record is 28 and we are sitting at 26. It’s been one hot summer. My HR started out a nice 135 for the first mile, but hit 145 before I turned around and started heading back up the hill. By the time I'd reached 7 miles, the HR was out of control at 160. I'm out there running slower than 9:45/mi and watching my heart work harder and harder on every mile.

I’m off to Huntington Beach for a soccer tournament on Friday afternoon. It has to be cooler in California. My daughter’s team doesn’t have any early games on either Saturday or Sunday, so I should be able to get a couple of decent runs in.

Hope you have a great weekend.


Mon: 6.1 miles; 9:51/mi pace – 145 avg HR.
Tue: Rest Day
Wed: 7.3 miles: 9:54/mi pace - 149 avg HR.
Thr: Rest Day

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tired Puppy

With the 2007/2008 soccer season in full swing, I’m back to running at night again while my youngest daughter is at soccer practice. Tonight was an hour at an easy aerobic pace. I started by running up hill along the SR51 highway for 1.5 miles, stopping where the trail runs into Reach 11 park; home of Diamond Back rattle snakes and copious quantities of coyotes – I just didn’t feel like dealing with either tonight. Plus I had my black lab with me and it is far too hard to keep track of his safety and watch out for myself while running across the desert in the dark.

Once we reached the top, we turned around and ran down hill for 3 miles before turning around again and heading back up the hill to the practice fields. This is August in central Arizona, which means it is HOT. At 8PM the temperature was 103F (39.4 C). At least the sun had set long ago, an artifact of our forefathers refusing to accept Day Light Savings time in the great state of Arizona. Even though the sun was down, the heat took its toll on my HR as well as my black-lab. I finished up the first mile at 136 and second mile over 140 and the lab was ready to quite. My HR continued to drift up while the pace just slowed down. The final 2 miles where run close to a 10:00/mi pace with a HR over 150. This isn’t as bad as last week, but still not a stellar performance. On the plus side, I am running outside again and feeling human.

Accident Update: Two people died in the accident I reported on yesterday; a 50 year old father and his 6 year old daughter. The accident started when a women driving east swerved to avoid getting hit by semi that changed lanes into her. She lost control of her mini-van and shot across the highway median and into the on-coming west-bound traffic; colliding with a car and another semi. The deceased father / daughter were in the west bound car and spun out of control into the trees that line parts of the median.

Fellow blogger Lisa wrote me this morning to tell me she knows the women involved in the accident that was driving the east bound car and took dinner over to the distraught family. It really is a small world.

Hope your week is going well.


Mon: 6.1 miles; 8:51/mi pace – 145 avg HR.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

90 Minutes

The place I ran across yesterday was far north end of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. This park runs all the way from St. David, Arizona, 40 miles south to the Mexican Border (SEE MAP). I headed back over to the park for a 90 minute run this morning at 5:30 AM. Needless to say, I didn't get all the way to the border. Although I did find the usual evidence of illegal immigration (the tell-tale gallon jugs used for water, strewn under trees in the middle of now where), but didn't run into one or anything else for 90 minutes; that is besides very pesky flies.

The trail through the north end of the park is very rough and really made the run slow going. However, the slow pace guaranteed that my HR stayed low. The outbound is mostly a gradual up-hill, but I kept my HR under 130 most of the way. After spiking out at 160 in Phoenix earlier this week during a slow jog, it sure was nice to just be able to chug along with little effort.

On a somber note, I saw results of a tragic accident as we were driving the soccer team from Benson north back to Phoenix. A semi-truck took out two autos and there were bodies and car parts strewn over several hundred feet along I10. The girls in my car were visibly upset. I check with the other drivers and discovered that one of them actually witnessed the incident. I can’t imagine what the girls who were in her car felt.

One of the cars had flipped several times and was left standing on the highway. The other had careened into the trees in the median between the north and south bound lanes. There wasn't much left of either car. The driver of the car that rolled and didn’t leave the freeway survived and got out of the car on her own. I assume that the bodies were from the car that came to rest in the median. I can only imagine that the women that survived was wearing the seat belt and those that were lying spaced out on the pavement under the sheets were not. Just a guess I still don’t understand why people don’t wear seat belts.


Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 6.8 Miles @ 8:50/mi
Wed: 3.1 Miles @ 9:13/mi
Thr: Rest Day
Fri: 3.2 Miles @ 10:18/mi
Sat: 6.2 Miles @ 9:52/mi
Sun: 9.1 Miles @ 9:47/mi

Total Mileage for the week: 28.4 miles

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Blogging from Benson

Hello from beautiful Benson, Arizona. If this isn't the middle of
nowhere, it has to be close. I'm down here with 19 girls, 3 women and
two guys supporting our soccer team at a soccer camp. It's a bit
primative, but I really like this place. Last night after we got the
girls to bed, the adults sat outside and just enjoyed the cool night
air (plus a few beers and a couple of chocolate martinis). This place
is so remote that I had no trouble seeing the Milky Way and a billion
other stars. And since there is no concrete or asphalt for miles in
any direction, the place actually cools off at night.

I got up this morning at 5:30 this morning and ran for an hour before
the girls got up. Although I've been here before, I went exploring,
running down dirt roads somewhat at random. I even found a BLM Bird
sanctuary (sp) at the end of one of the roads. I'll be back out that
way for more exploring tomorrow.

Yesterday, I tried to run outside again. I was tied up in the morning,
so it couldn't get out until 1 PM. Although it had been overcast all
morning, the clouds cleared just before I started and the temperature
shot up to 102F, but I was out of time and had to get in a run before
I left for Benson. The first mile went really well, clicking by a
little faster than 9:00/mi; however, things fell apart on mile 2. At
the end of mile one, my HR was just over 140 and kept climbing.
Although I kept slowing down, my HR topped 160 by the time I'd
finished up the 2nd mile. Yikes! I'm jogging along being a good boy
and my heart is out running a hard 5K. This wasn't worth it. I pulled
up and walked until my HR settled down below 140 and jogged back to
the house for a whopping 3.1 miles.

Hope your weekend is going well. Please excuse my poor grammar and
spelling today. I I don't have an internet connection here, so I'm
posting this from my BlackBerry.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good
as dead - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


You know you’re in Arizona when the thermometer is still pushing 100F (38F) at 8:30PM. My daughter had soccer practice tonight, so I (the mental giant that I am) brought my Black Lab with me to practice and started running mile laps on the roads surrounding the practice field. My HR hit 145 before I had 5 minutes under my feet and top 150 after a mile. I kept my breathing under control, but felt my pace getting slower and slower as my body continued to heat up. In the end, I called it quits after 28 minutes; running in the heat just wasn’t any fun.

Hope you’re week is going better, or at least cooler.

PS: In my haste to get this post published, I completely forgot to mention how my Black Lab fared in the heat. Well, he didn't have a good time either. As usual he started out running slightly ahead of me, keeping his butt lined up with my left leg. But after a mile he was dragging along behind me. He was more than happy to stop. After I found a place to sit in the park where I could get a decent internet connection, he sucked down 30 ounces of water and laid down on the grass at my feet as I worked on my eMail. I don't think I'll take him out in the heat again.


Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 6.8 Miles @ 8:50/mi
Wed: 3.1 Miles @ 9:13/mi

Cross roads

I think I’m out of my 3 mile slump. After the proverbial “hard day at the office”, I rushed home, changed into my running gear and got to the gym at 9:30. The temp was still 100F when I got home, so the gym was the only viable option. The place was fairly deserted, with only 4 people using the treadmills. One runner, 2 walkers and a 4th guy that just looked perplexed (I know the feeling). I picked a spot next to the runner, cranked up my MP3 player (led off with Cream’s version of CrossRoads from 1968) and slowly increased the pace from 10/mi to 8:54/mi over the first mile.

My HR was staying well under 140 so I started raising the machine's elevation 1% every quarter mile up to 5% while keeping the pace steady at 8:54. Boy did that make a difference. I was still breathing comfortably as my HR steadily increased from 135 to 155 while, but started breathing pretty hard once the incline got up to 5% and my HR climbed up to 163. After 1.5 miles (and 200 feet), I'd had enough fun and lowered the treadmill back down to flat and finished out the first 30 minutes averaging just over 9:00/mi

As I started up my machine for another 30 minutes, I noticed that I now had a young stud running his little heart out to my right; nothing like a little fresh meat. He had his machine set at 8/mi, much faster than he should have been going, so I set my machine to match his and paced him for a half mile, calmly breathing through my nose. My HR drifted back up the 150 range, but everything was feeling good, so I took the pace down to 7:30 and hung in there for another mile. Somewhere along here, the running stud gave up and I was left alone again.

With little to do other than listen to the music blast into my head, I adjusted my pace up and down between 7:30 and 8:00/mi for the fun of it with no particular training emphasis in mind. For the last 2 minutes, I took the pace down to 6:40 and ran out the clock. Now, before you get too impressed, 6:40 on a flat treadmill is the equivalent of running 6:57/mi on the road (see Treadmill Pace chart) or my best 5K pace. Although there was no way that I was going to keep up that pace for 3.1 miles, it sure felt good to be running again.

Hope your week is going well. If you want to checkout an impressive workout, go take a look at Addy’s latest post. She ran an 18 miler followed by a 20 miler back to back this weekend. And I thought I was doing well running a 6 miles on one day’s rest.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 6.8 Miles @ 8:50/mi

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Double Digits

Nothing fancy, just 10 miles on the treadmill at my gym. With temperatures in the high 90s at 8:30 this morning, I was in no mood to trying running in the heat. Instead, I headed over to my gym for a spin on the treadmill. I picked a machine next to a woman running a nice even pace (instead of the walkers) and started the first 30 minute interval at 9:40/mi. The machines at my gym only allow for a maximum of 30 minutes + 2 mintues cool down for each session. So it's just easier to think about a treadmill workout in 30 minute blocks.

After a couple of minutes a young stud got on the machine to my right, did a few dramatic stretches and cranked his machine up to 7 MPH (9:00/mi pace). He lasted about 3 minutes, stop the machine, did a few more dramatic stretches and repeated the process. It was the strangest treadmill workout I’d ever seen. After he left, another youngish guy hopped on the machine and set off at a 10:00/mi pace. He looked much more like a runner than the strange dude that preceded him. Now I had two serious runners on either side.

For the first 30 minutes, my HR stayed stable at 137 (79% HRmax) and I decided to keep running out the next 30 minutes at the same 9:40/mi pace. I wasn’t breaking any records, but I was staying aerobic and breathing comfortably through my nose. The lady to my left restarted her machine 4 minutes earlier and the fellow to my right eventually restarted his machine once his first 30 minutes ran out. I really was running with real runners. This was a first for my gym.

My HR drifted up a few points and as I approached the one hour mark and I noticed that guy next to me had cranked his machine down to an 8:50/mi pace. Shoot, I could do that. I already had a nice 6.2 mile aerobic workout, so it was time for some fun. I started up my machine again for another 30 minutes and matched my neighbors 8:50/mi pace. After one mile (7.2 miles in total), my legs were feeling good and my HR only went up to 145; I still had a lot of head room. My running buddy decided to slow down, so the only appropriate response was to speed up. I took treadmill up to a 7:42/mi pace and completed another mile. I backed the machine off a little, down to 8:00/mi pace, but realized I could get in 10 miles before the treadmill timed out at 90 minutes if I pushed things a little harder.

I took the treadmill down to 7:10mi and cruised along for a bit. However, the math wasn't working out. I still needed to go faster. I cranked the speed up again to a respectable 6:58/mi pace and my HR responded by increasing to 163 within a minutes. My nice and easy nose breathing was long gone and I was starting to breath much heavier; but the legs still felt OK.

With 9.7 miles behind me, I still wasn't going fast enough to reach my 10 miles in 90 minute goal. I don't know why this mattered to me at that moment, but it did. The lady to my left had finished up a few minutes earlier and was replaced by a walker and the guy to my right was in his final cool down. I wasn’t going to get any inspiration from either of them, so I hit the speed set button a few times and took it up to 9.4MPH (6:23/mi pace). The treadmill has really cranking now and I had no idea what my HR was doing. My chest strap had slipped down to my gut and there was no way at this pace that I was going to try to get it adjusted. The seconds continued to tick down the distance counted up. I was going to miss by a few seconds, but I didn’t dare increase the speed anymore. I was already running much faster than I’d run in the past 2 months and I’d never been on a treadmill going any faster than 7:40/mi before. One wrong step and the machine would send me off the back end and through wall behind me.

The machine timed out and went into “cool down” mode and it was a full 11 seconds before the mileage digits acknowledged that I completed 10 miles this morning. I missed 10 miles in 90 minutes by 11 seconds; however, I left the gym elated. This was the first time since San Diego Marathon on June 3rd that I’d managed to get out over 10 miles. It felt great.

While I was screwing around in the gym, a number of you were out racing:

Chad, Lisa, and Pat ran a hot and humid 5K on a hilly course in Phoenix. I had to go up to Flagstaff AZ to support my daughter's soccer team and wasn't able to join them. In addition, Stephanie ran her first 50K since moving to Southern California from Manhattan.

I'm sure there are more of you racing this weekend, but I haven't had a chance to catch up after getting back from Flagstaff.

Have a great week.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Toronto Tempo

I found myself in Toronto this week. After taking a usual Air Canada 2 hour delay out Phoenix on Wednesday, I finally made it to my hotel around 8 PM; fortunately, I had squeezed in a quick 3 miler at home before leaving for the airport on Wednesday, else I’d be out of luck.

Working in the east is a lot like working from France. Being 3 hours ahead of the home office only means that you need to work an extra 3 hours after everyone leaves to work through all the issues back in Phoenix that have sprung up since you’ve left. Tonight was no different … I’m not complaining mind you. This job provides me the opportunity to go places I’d never see otherwise … but I was left with the option of going to dinner at a reasonable hour or taking a run and having dinner around 9:30. I choose to go for the run

Tonight’s run was 5.5 miles on the treadmill. Fortunately, the Renaissance Hotel by the airport has two treadmills because another fellow was already 10 minutes into his run when I showed up. I started out at a foot dragging 10:30 pace and slowly increased the pace to 9:00 over the first 2 miles. By the time I’d gone through 2 miles, the guy next to me had his machine cranked up to a 6:00/mi pace and wasn’t breaking a sweat. The nice thing about running next to someone on a treadmill however is that decent runners fall into the same cadence and only the stride length changes. While my running buddy was spinning his belt around at a break-neck speed, I was keeping up stride for stride, running 3 MPH slower.

In the end, I got in 5.5 miles at 9:00/mi average. Not my fastest run ever, but it did feel good to stretch my legs. Hope your week is going well. Air Canada willing, I’ll be back in Phoenix on Friday.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Denna Kastor running away

Some "senior" women make it look so easy


Let’s review:

Monday – Nothing
Tuesday – Nothing (7 AM meetings … poor excuse)
Wednesday – 3 miles, early evening run in Seattle
Thursday – 3 miles, repeat of Wednesday
Friday – Nothing (flew back to Phoenix on Friday night)
Saturday – 2 miles, hot and humid
Sunday – 5.1 miles, hot / humid / slow

Total mileage for the week - 13.2
Total mileage for July – 64.1

Total mileage for same week last year – 46
Total mile for July 2006 – 200

On the bright side, I’ve only got one way to go.

Have a great week.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nikeplus - Je suis accroc - Paris

This Nike commercial sounds so much better in French, but it's still a dumb Nike commercial. I sort of get lost in the dialogue after the set up that he's out for a 15km run, but it seems to follow the usual young-hip-macho story line.

What am I saying ... a 15km run through Paris sounds pretty nice, boy have I become rather jaded.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Around and Around

I'm back in Redmond, Washington (USA) for a few days. I was up at 4:15 AM this morning so I could stand in line at security in Phoenix for 45 minutes and still have time to make a 7:15 AM flight to Seattle (I'm soooooooooooo glad middle America feels safe with all this fake security). After a full day of meetings, I only had time for a 30 minute run before getting dressed and out to a business dinner at 7:00 PM.

30 minutes .. not much time. And the cars. Cars flipping everywhere ... so I just ran around and around the block for 30 minutes, turning left at every major street. Got back to my room with only 15 minutes to get ready and jumped in a cold shower to cool off for 10 minutes, got dressed in appropriate work attire and headed back out into traffic for a business dinner (travel is so glamorous)

I'm getting way behind on your blogs. I promise to get caught up next week. Have a great week.