Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sammamish River Trail

I'm in Seattle this week and got bumped out of my hotel in Redmond on Monday night (damn those Microsoft corporate types). Instead, I got re booked into a hotel in Bothel, 10 miles north of Redmond. Other than fighting the insane traffic north from Redmond, this was a perfect spot for a runner. Two miles from the hotel, I found a nice place to park my car and took in a great 6 miler south along the Sammamish River trail at 5:30 on Tuesday morning.

What a difference from the hell-hole that is Phoenix this time of the year. Moist cool air, over cast skies and miles and miles of paved trails running along what is left of the river (the Army Core of Engineers dredged the river years ago creating a uniform channel). Tough to beat. Average pace over 6 miles - 9:38

This morning I was back in Redmond and took in a completely different run. Instead of my usual running route, I headed north to 140th and ran up the 1.5 long hill. Slow going up, kick-ass fast coming down ... weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ... I just don't understand why everybody isn't out running in this weather. Just couldn't beat it with a stick.

Tonight I'm heading back to Phoenix and I'm currently stuck at the Airport in Seattle ... flight delays ... so what's new.

Hope all is going well with you. Take care

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Racing Smart

Another Saturday, another 5K. But unlike the last 5K I ran this summer, I didn't take off like a bat-out-of-hell on the first mile. Instead, on this hot and sticky morning, I kept the throttle back and past the first mile at 7:49. This is one of the tougher courses on the Summer Series, not exactly hilly, but not flat either. The fist mile parallels a canal for 1/2 mile before dropping down into Kiwanis Park. The course usually runs along one of the man-made lakes in the park, but this morning the lake level was so high due to recent rains that we had to run along a step hillside; at least it was on grass. The first mile ends along a gradual climb towards the south side of the park.

Feeling pretty good at the end of mile 1, I kept cruising up the hill before turning north again and back into the park. I must have been doing something right. I was passing runners and not getting passed on mile 2. I passed the mile 2 marker at 8:08. A little slower than I'd like, but I still felt great (well, maybe not great, but I was holding it together).

The third mile heads back to the lake, along the hill side and up a hill to the canal before the last 1/2 mile to the finish line. I maintained my pace through most of the last mile until I got back up on the flat along the canal before I increased the pace to about as fast as I was going to move this morning. The temperature was raising as the sun climbed over the horizon and was near 90F by the time I got back to the canal. The humidity, although low by eastern US standards, was 34%. Not exactly perfect race conditions; but, I was hanging in there. Although I was running as fast as my legs would carry me, I wasn't passing many people; lots of fast people out running this morning. I finished mile 3 in 7:56.

So, at the end of the day, I ran a 24:40 5K this morning. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm coming back.

On the plus side, my buddy Lisa hit a PR this morning, finishing in 32:48. She was moving so fast at the finish line that I only caught her running out of the frame in her blue shirt and black shorts:



Week in Review

Not much to report this week. I ran on Tuesday, outside - way too hot. Afterwards, I drove 250 miles to Mexicali, Mexico to spend some quality time with my employees and try to get a few issues resolved at the site. This part of Mexico is so filled with contradictions. Really smart people (at least the ones that work for me), lots of grinding poverty, and a few interesting hip-and-happening restaurants. I got in a 3 mile run on Wednesday morning. No idea what the temperature was, but it was HOT HOT HOT, even when compared to Phoenix. I drove back to Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon after a 30 minute wait to get across the border.

The only workout worth mentioning was my ride to and from work on Thursday. 17.3 MPH average ... felt like I was flying.

Take care.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

1/2 Mary

12 miles on the plan; 13.1 in the bank. It didn't start out this way. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed this morning and headed to the gym for a 12 miler on the treadmill. The first mile was murder, very tight. The 2nd wasn't much better. Started to loosen up on the 3rd, but lost all desire to keep running shortly thereafter. Just didn't have any interest. This was very odd. There were all sorts of folks jogging around me and I just didn't care. 3.2 miles was all I had in me

This afternoon was very different. Torqued that I'm missed my target by 9 miles, I headed back to the gym at 3PM. The first 3 mile breezed by, mostly run at 9:30/mi with the incline set to 0.5%. Several joggers came and went, but no one was sticking around for a real run. Miles 4, 5 and 6 were about the same as the first 3. I had a good sweat going, but wasn't tired .... at this point, I was simply focused on finishing up my 9 miles and hadn't given any thought to running longer.

Somewhere around mile 8, I started to toss around the idea of extending the run out to 12 and by the time I had started mile 10, I had convinced myself that I could actually put in 13.1 this afternoon. I'd been varying elevation up and down between 0.5% and 1.5% and modulating my pace between 9:30/mi and 9:10/mi for the past 6 miles and was still feeling good, just cruising along, not a care in the world.

At the end of mile 9, I crank the pace up to 8:50/mi. About the same time, a couple of young studs got on the machines to my left and started running at a pretty good clip; they looked like the real deal. The guy to my immediate left pushed his pace up to 10:00/mi and elevation to 2.5%, heck I could do that. I left my pace at 8:50/mi and pushed the elevation up to 2.5%. My breathing got harder, but I was still feeling good and it was great to be running with someone, even if I was moving along a little faster. Unfortunately, the real deal was actually a pretender. Right as I got past mile 11, he shut down his machine. I tried to shame him into running another couple of more miles with me, but to no avail. He was whipped.

Only two miles to go and with a little mental arithmetic, I realized I stood a fighting chance of finishing 13.1 miles under 2 hours. Not much under two, but maybe it was possible. I took the elevation back down to 0.5% and pushed the pace to 8:30, and then 8:10 a few minutes later. I kept looking at my watch and tried to do the pace vs time calculations in my head. I was still close, but nothing was guaranteed. By the time I started mile 13 I was running under 8:00/mi and was all the way down to 7:10/mi by the time I ran past the 13.1 mile mark.

I didn't exactly hit 2 hours -- finished in 2:00:18. Still, I pretty good run.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Mon: XTRAIN (2.5 miles on the elliptical)
Tue: 7.0 miles w/ 4x10 min @8:20/mi
Wed: 3.5 miles @9:22/mi avg
Thr: 4.5 miles w/ 4x1:30 min Hill Sprints
Fri: XTRAIN (1500m Swim - 33:07 min)
Sat: 6.0 miles easy @9:27/mi avg
Sun: 3.2 miles easy @9:35/mi avg
Sun: 13.1 miles long @9:11/mi avg

TOTAL RUNNING: 37.8 Miles

That makes 3 weeks in a row over 30 miles. The last time I did that was Oct '07. The last time I ran more 3 35+ weeks in a row was December '06. It's been a long time coming.

I'm heading to Mexico this week, so it will be a lighter week than the past three. I think I need a break anyway. Don't want to get injured at this point.

Take care.

Friday, July 11, 2008

le Tour

Warning: This is a rant ... those solely interested in running, please skip to the bottom.

OK. I can accept that fact the every sport I care about is considered (at best) a "minor sport" in my home country; and I understand that watching 120+ riders battle their way through some of the prettiest country side on the planet isn't nearly as exciting as watching 8 guys standing around adjusting their testicles and snapping gum while the lone action is limited to one amazing individual throwing a small ball close to 100 MPH a distance of 60 feet; however, does that mean that the local press in the great state of Arizona have to pretend that the Tour de France isn't even happening. It's bad enough that they totally ignored the amazing performance of Ryan Hall during the Olympic Marathon time trials and have acted as if the US Olympic Track & Field Team Trials deserve no more than a footnote in the local rag; but this is le Tour; the biggest endurance event of the year.

Today, le Tour race through le Massif Central .. the mountainous area that runs across the middle of France. If you've never had a chance to visit this area, be sure to get there on your next trip. It doesn't have any of glamor of Paris, nor will you find the "beautiful people" that hang out in Nice or Marcelle; but you find mile after mile of lovely country side with steep canyons, rolling hills and charming villages ... and not an American within 200km. For some reason, we just don't go there.

Tomorrow the race heads for Toulouse, one of my favorite cities in France. I've spent more time than I can remember in the city and just kick myself that I can't be there. The race will finish up on streets that I've walk ... heck, streets that I've run and here I sit in on the desert of the South West US with absolutely no coverage of the race. Minor sport, my ass.

Your normal blog continues:

Yesterday, I did my first "hill" workout yesterday. Since my fair city was under a deluge of wind and rain, I headed back to the gym for some more treadmill work. My first plan was a 2 mile warm followed by 4x1:30min @9/mi@ 15% grade. HA HA HA ... not even close. The warm up worked good enough but 15 seconds into the "sprint", I had to shut the machine off. My heart was bursting, my legs were putty, I felt like sh!t. Way too fast for these legs. I cranked the machine back down to 00% grade and took a breather. Holy crap, that was tough.

After I got my heart back in my chest, I tried again; only this time I only took the treadmill up to 10% grade and set the pace to 10/mi ... much better. Feel the burn time. A 10% grade doesn't sound like much, but it really made me pick up legs; really worked the quads. Not that fast, but 4 sets of 1:30 really gave my legs a workout. I left the machine at 10% grade and walked for 2 min between sets. A real workout.

Tonight, I took it down a notch and swam 1500m ... a full metric mile for those of you keeping track at home. It wasn't fast, but I outlasted everyone in the pool over 33 minutes.

Tomorrow, I have a 12 miler scheduled and we'll just have to see what Sunday brings. I fully expect to get over 30 miles again this week for the 3rd week in a row.

Take care.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Suck it in buddy

Now that I'm feeling better, I took a chance and measured my waist line; what a mistake. 39.125 in around! That's 99.4cm for my buddies using a more logical system of measure. No scratch that, way to close to 100cm to even think about. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, moi measured closure to 32in around at the navel. This morning, I was expecting something like 35 or 36; but 39, holy crap Batman? I look at all the fat guys walking around this country and try to use them as some type of morbid motivation; little did I know that I was matching them inch for inch.

Enough introspection ... the inches will come off.

Tonight I ran my first real workout in like forever.
Nothing fancy:

3 mile warm up at 9:30/mi
2x10min @ 8:20/mi w/2:30min @10:20 jogs after each rep
Cool down @9:30/mi through 7 miles

Deliberate ... plan says do "X", I do "X". This is what we do. We follow the plan. Doesn't matter what the plan is, we follow the plan. We're good doobies. Without a plan, we're just jogging. With a plan, we have an objective, we have a goal, we have purpose. Life is good.

Take care.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bike - Swim - Run - Bike

Ok, not exactly the right order, but as close as I was going to get this afternoon. I ran 11 miles yesterday and had a light day scheduled today; but, didn't feel like a light day; so, I hopped on my bike, rode 5+ miles to the gym; swam 1300 meters; and ran another 6 miles (with 2.5 at MP). The afternoon temps in Phoenix were up and over 109F; so 5 miles was about all I could pound out non-stop on the bike. Of course, the pool felt like it was filled with ice-water when I got inside the gym and jumped in the pool. After 30 minutes in the pool, it took 4 or 5 minutes on the treadmill to warm up again before I was running smoothly. No too bad.

It hasn't been the best of weeks, but I'm running stronger and feeling great. I racked up 36 miles again this week, that's two +30 mile weeks in a row. The last time I did that was in November '07, right before the start of my slide into oblivion.The cool thing is that I've ramped up to 35 MPW slowly over the last 6 weeks and have done so injury free. I've had a few sore days, to be sure, but nothing severe. Now, I need to focus on getting the rest of the excess weight off getting stronger and more flexible.

Week Totals:

Runs - 36.8 Miles
Tue: 7.0 Miles; Easy w/3.0 @MP - 9:09/mi avg pace
Wed: 5.0 Miles; Easy; 9:37/mi avg pace
Thr: 3.1 Miles; Easy; 9:30/mi avg pace
Fri: 5K; Race; 8:20 avg pace
Sat: 11.0 Miles; Easy; 9:19/mi avg pace
Sun: 6.0 Miles; Easy w/ 2.5 at MP (8:50)

Swims - 3 swims; 4000 yards
Bike - 4 rides; 35 miles

I'll be in town all week ... so I expect to get in another solid week ... hope the best for all of you.

Friday, July 04, 2008

ARR Summer Series 5K Report

It was ugly, real ugly. The course was nice, the post-race food was fabulous, the race organization was great (as usual); but my performance was as ugly as it could get. In fact, this was my slowest 5K since I started running. No good reason for a poor performance; I only managed 4 hours of sleep the night before and had to get up at 4:30AM to make it to the course in Peoria, AZ in time to warm up, but I've done that before. I run 4 easy miles the day before the race, but I've done that before. It was already 85F with humidity at 43% when I got to the start line at 6AM, but I ran my 5K PR in July '06 under tougher conditions - so what gives?

After picking up my bib-number and timing chip, I warmed up with a slow and deliberate 1.6 mile run, but was already sweating profusely by the time I got back to the start line with 10 minutes to go 'till gun-time. The race course has a sharp left within the first 0.1 mile and narrows significantly as it enters a foot-bridge over a dry river bed. I didn't want to be in a mob while trying to negotiate the turn, so I pushed my up through the 600+ runners to a spot about 40 feet from the start line.

This was a good spot, most of the people around me looked very fit and as I guessed, they took off like shot. I got through the left turn, over the bridge and made the hard right on the far side of the bridge without problem. I was cruising along nicely and spotted one of my faster friends 5 seconds in front of me, so I had some confidence I was running a decent clip. Not too fast - not too slow; just about right.

After I got off the bridge, I noticed a woman on my left shoulder and sped up to give her some room. She reacted to my acceleration stride for stride and hung on to my shoulder. Cool, she looked like she was in great shape and it would be nice to have someone push me along. We continued to run together past the 1 mile marker at which I logged a 7:38.

I wasn't burning up the course, but running decently. I felt good, I had a new friend running on my shoulder, an old Neil Young tune with a perfect 90 beats/min was wailing in my ear-buds, the sun was shining, the birds where chirping, life was good. However, 3 minutes later, my outlook on "life" changed dramatically. As we neared the turn-around point, my quads started to fatigue. I could feel the lactic acid building up quickly, but I was determined to hang in there; heck this was only a 5K. I've run a million of these, what could be so hard about running another mile or so?

Well I found out. Just before the turn point, the trail dips down to go under a major East-West thoroughfare. As we headed down, my little buddy on my left shoulder must have smelled blood in the water and surged by me and up the raise at the end of the underpass. I had NO response. None, zippo, nothing. All I could do was watch her run up the hill, around the turn point and head back to the finish line. As she continued to open the gap, the burning in my quads just got worse. Within a few minutes, my tiny brain started murmuring to stop running and walk back. By the time I got to the 2 mile marker, the voices were screaming, STOP STOP STOP.

It was all I could do to continue running as better prepared runners trickled by me. The trickle was soon a torrent, but I hung in there; slower and slower and slower, but I kept running. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot ... I couldn't even hear my iPod any more. The voices in my head were way too load and their internal arguments were blocking out everything else; but I finally made it back to the finish line and thought I was going to drop.

I don't remember feeling so bad at the end of a race. There was no way I was going to run a cool down. Know I should; but just couldn't get my quads to move. Of well ... we all have bad races; but 7:38 / 8:16 / 8:55 splits is approaching the absurd. What I'm having a hard time accepting is my performance progression during my club's 5K Summer Series:

Race #1 - 23:53 (Temp-61F) - Group Placement (10/21)
Race #2 - 25:40 (Temp-83F) - Group Placement (19/35)
Race #3 - 25:52 (Temp-88F) - Group Placement (16/36)

If there was anything positive, this race must have kicked a lot of folks in the butt. I placed a little better in my aged group than the second race ... probably could have done better if I'd started slower.

OPEN WATER

I spent the 3rd of July out on Lake Pleasant (see pic below) and got in my first ever open water swim. I don't know how you triathletes do it. Looking down into the murky depths of the lake, realizing that sinking in a few hundred feet of water could really ruin your day is really motivating to keep you going. But unlike running, you can't simply stop. However, it was a cool swim. I got in 0.7 miles under perfect conditions. Hard to beat.



View from the top deck of my friends house boat



House boats everywhere



Still smiling before my warmup this morning



The bridge - didn't want to be on this behind 600 people at the start



Post-Race barbecue - Nothing beats hamburgers and hot dogs at 7AM on the 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

X-TRAIN

The schedule said rest/xt. You've all seen it. Every other day, your program doesn't give you an option: 11 mi, easy; Tempo - 6 mi with 3 @ 8:10; Intervals - 6x800 @ 7:00 w/400 rest .... but once or twice a week we get rest/xt - Options! Usually this means little more than kicking back and taking the day off; giving my leg muscles and connective tissue another day to recuperate. However, last night, I took the plunge and moved to the right of the hash mark. Instead of staying home and eating a plate of snickerdoodles, I went to the gym for a swim.
 
To say I'm not a strong swimmer is a gross understatement. I can stay afloat, but with my bulging mid-section, I've got plenty of drag; add that to my total lack of upper-body strength and you get a 6 foot blob slithering slowly through the water. All during the 30 or so minutes I spent in the water, I kept getting visions of Michael Phelps powering through the water - Michael Phelps I ain't. In the end, I got in 1300m in 32 minutes using a combination of free-style, breast and back stroke. It wasn't pretty. I even put my competitive spirit aside and didn't try to race the women in the next lane nor the guy in the lane next to her; although I did out last both of them (does that really count as competing?)
 
I don't know how your tri-athletes do this, especially in the summer. I've been hiding inside for the past two weeks - I can do so because my mileage has been so low of late. But I can't ride my bike inside. Since the beginning of the year, I've been commuting back and forth to work; leaving my house right after sun rise and leaving late in the afternoon with the sun low on the western horizon. However, yesterday I had to be home at 5:30 and found myself riding with the sun still high enough in the sky to thoroughly bake any exposed skin and the air temp holding steady at 111F (44C). Riding in the hot dry wind with the sun beating down on my back was surreal. It felt as if gossamer fabric was being drawn over every bit of exposed skin. The heat felt as if it was reaching out to touch me - it was visceral, well beyond the usual feeling of moving air; much more primal.
 
I'm gearing up for another 5K on Friday ... should be fun to run on a week-day.
 
Hope all is well you. Take care