Saturday, December 31, 2005

Playing Make Believe

Last 10K time trial today, and frankly I wasn't looking forward to it. My Lydiard schedules had me doing an easy, short day beforehand, but since I was dealing with Kiera being sick and Christmas travel plans earlier in the week I had already "spent" my shorter days. So 10K hard the day after 14 miles it was, and I headed out. Since I was feeling a bit tired and sluggish, which is a little worrisome, I decided to play a mental game with the workout. After a 2 mile warm-up, I would run the first 2 miles of the time trial at about marathon pace, then slowly try to pick up the pace throughout the rest of the 4.2 miles. I tried to imagine the workout as the last 6.2 miles of the P.F. Chang's Rock'n'Roll marathon, which I will be tackling in two weeks.

In my mind's eye, I'm feeling the stress of 20 miles at just about 6 minute pace, and all that's left is the final 10K of the race. I run miles 21-22 at 5:57, then with 4 miles to go I slowly up the ante. Miles 23-24 I'm turning the screw, and the legs can feel the pressure but the lungs are still good, which is encouraging. Thankfully miles 25-26 are slightly downhill, and I take advantage of this and accelerate a little more. All that's left now is the last 385 yards, and the finish line is in view. I cross it and smile, then stop and catch my breath. The work is done.

In real life I ran the 10K in 35:23, or 5:41 pace, and the finish line is a "stop" sign a quarter mile past our subdivision. I was pretty happy with this, especially since I ran the second 5K in 17:07, or 5:31 pace. I'm glad to have this workout done, and doing the mental exercise of pretending it was the last part of my upcoming marathon will give me something to think about when I'm at the 20 mile mark of the real thing. The mind is a powerful tool, and the mental boost I got from the run can only help me. I ran the same out and back time trial in November about 10 seconds faster, but at that time I didn't purposely run the first 2 miles at 5:57 pace.

Tomorrow's run is scheduled to be two hours, though for all the "2 hour" and "2 hour+" runs so far on the schedule I've added 30 minutes or more. This time I'm taking the time to heart, and I've decided to just do 18 very relaxed and slower than last week. I'm a little more tired than usual, and I've been wanting to sleep in more even though the weather is nice. This fatigue, coupled with the 2 mile time trial, the 12 x 100 sprints every 200, and today's 10K this week convinces me that it's time to really dial down the pressure for the final two weeks. I have to realize that in the "coordination" phase of Lydiard's training that the aerobic work is done. I'm hoping two weeks from today my legs will be rested, and the body and mind will be ready for the challenge ahead. Have a great weekend.

Training: 9 miles, 56:20, 6:15 pace with a 10K time trial in 35:23, 5:41 pace. Second 5K in 17:07

Friday, December 30, 2005

My, That Track is Hard!

Sore hips and quads today, I guess I just need to avoid the rock-hard junior high track I ran on yesterday altogether. Today was 14 miles, and while the lungs felt relaxed, the lower half of my body rebelled a bit. I took some different routes today, through Sabino Canyon, out and back on dog-poop trail, and through some nearby neighborhoods. Taking different routes and trying to stay on the dirt on these easy days makes it easier to run a little slower. I've noticed (and mentioned before) how my recovery runs are starting to get faster, which is not always a good thing.

When I got back Haiden wanted a "special milkshake" (fruit smoothie), but Finn was down for his morning nap so I didn't want to break out the blender. Finn was up before I left on the run, and Kiera tried (in vain again) to get some rice cereal and sweet potatoes into him. Haiden attacked "real" food with a vengeance, while Finn isn't interested in it at all. We're trying the tricks suggested to us by friends with kids, which is why we're trying sweet potatoes. we might try the oatmeal cereal next if he keeps gagging on the rice variety. I know we just need to be patient, but as nervous parents it's in our job description to freak out over each little thing.

So business as usual, including a nice 2:30 wake-up call from Finn (his late-night hunger is another reason we're trying to get him on real food). The twinges I've had are in check; the adductor/groin pain isn't even noticeable, except for a little ache after very long runs, and the new neuroma is at bay. At a little over two weeks out now I'm looking forward to the 10 day taper/sharpening Lydiard puts in his schedule, and I'm still wondering just how far to run on Sunday. I'll probably do 22 out of habit, though I might cut it to 18 or 20 if I'm tired from tomorrow's 10K time trial. We don't do anything special to ring in the new year, so hopefully it will be a low-key weekend.

Training: 14 miles, 1:41:19, 7:15 pace

Thursday, December 29, 2005

You Call That a Sprint?

He's not as cute at 3am. Well, really he is.

Lydiard speedwork/sharpening today, and I could certainly be sharper. Today called for 10-12 100 meter sprints every 200 meters. Since this meant less than two miles total on the track I ran a warm-up in Sabino Canyon then headed over to the rock-hard junior high track across the street from the canyon. If I have to run 3 miles or more on the track I drive to the high school, where the track is much more cushioned and easier on the old joints. Where I ran today the cement is clearly visible through the blacktop in several patches, especially arond the turns.

I cast a fairly long shadow today, and as I sprinted the straights 12 times I tried to keep an eye on my form. It's safe to say I'm no Jeremy Wariner, the U.S. 400 runner I watch over and over in slow-motion on my TIVO. Where he barely seems to touch the ground with each step, I still audibly crush the ground. The high knee-lift and gazelle-like follow-through of his strides are on my mind as I plod along. I am training to be a marathoner, but it's still no excuse.

I remember Alan Culpepper talking about training for the Olympic marathon when he was competing for the U.S. 10K championships. He said that training for the marathon wasn't really much different than training for the 10K. When I look at the strides of elite 10K runners, I don't see too much similarity between what I'm doing and what they're doing, short of putting one foot in front of the other. Most just seem much more "fluid" with their turnover. Form is a tricky thing, but it's linked to running economy, which is of great importance to a marathoner. Lydiard emphasizes high knee-lift during his hill phase, but also notes that on marathon day to not raise your knees any higher than necessary. Some might see this as a contradiction, but he notes that maintaining knee-lift throughout a longer race is almost impossible, so strengthening the muscles that raise the knees is a must. By starting the race with a lower knee-lift, hopefully a runner will be able to maintain it for a longer duration into the race. Think about doing leg-presses, where bringing your legs down to 90 degrees will mean fewer reps than only bringing them back half as far, or something like that.

It's a lot to think about, and I try not to get too hung up on it. Hopefully with enough running I'll keep getting more efficient, and eventually that shadow I follow alongside me at the track won't look like such a spaz.

Training: 8 miles, 56:04, 7:01 pace with 12x100 sprints every 200 meters

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back to the a.m.

After a late-morning Christmas run with Haiden and two evening runs with the kids down for the night while Kiera was sick, I finally got back on schedule. Today's 16 miler found me a bit groggy. Between running 8 hilly miles late the preceding evening, then having Finn get up at one and again at 5, I have to admit I was not excited about heading out the door at 6:45 this morning. I was so tired last night that by the time I heard Finn crying and made him a bottle, I walked into his room to find Kiera already in there feeding him. Apparently she had heard him, fixed a bottle, changed him, and started feeding him before I even fully woke up. Kiera is definitely feeling better, thank goodness, though both of us could use a little more sleep. I'm sure parents out there understand.

Still, I did the work, putting in the miles along my familiar route that brings me down to the Rillito river path and then back again. I ran easy, and once I got going I started to feel pretty good. Much is written about the "nearly tireless state" that Arthur Lydiard's aerobic training brings about, but it's difficult to understand until you feel it. At about 10 miles in, I was running nice and relaxed, and feeling like I could just keep running at the same pace indefinitely. The risk of doing too much anaerobic training, according to Lydiard, is that you will actually pull down your "conditioning", or aerobic base. I certainly don't think I've been overdoing the fast stuff, especially since I missed one fast workout last week, and today's run left me hopeful that most of my aerobic conditioning is still intact. January 15 will ultimately tell the tale though.

Training: Today, 16 miles, 1:54:12, 7:08 pace
Yeserday p.m., 8 miles, 56:48, 7:06 pace

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post-Christmas Epiphany

Christmas day was great for the Salkowski clan. We all slept in a bit, then opened presents and had a nice breakfast together. Finn was in awe of all the wrapping paper and the new toys, and Haiden liked helping him open his gifts (as well as her own). Later in the day, Haiden asked me if we could go for a run, which really made me feel good, especially when she still wanted to go when I told her the muffin place was closed for Christmas. I grilled for dinner outside, and Kiera cooked up mashed potatoes and broccoli.

The plan for yesterday, the 26th was to head up to Mesa (100 miles or so) to visit my parents. My sister's family was in town (3 kids), and my brother's family (3 kids) was heading up also. I was up early to run, and after feeding Finn at 5 or so I suited up to go. Unfortunately, Kiera started the day by hugging the toilet a bit, and was feeling less than herself. I decided to postpone the run, and I tried to get her to stay home and skip the visit, but she insisted on coming with us, saying she was feeling better after throwing up a bit. During the car ride Kiera started feeling pretty bad, and by the time we reached our destination it was clear that this was not going to be a good day for her. She spent most of the day trying to sleep in a house with 8 kids, 8 adults, and two dogs, not an ideal situation to say the least. Still, she was a trooper, coming out to open presents, then staying on the couch for another hour afterwards while Haiden played with her cousins and her new gifts.

Finally we made the long drive back, and Finn cried pretty consistently for the last hour while we were on the road. At home, Kiera helped get Finn ready for bed, then hit the sack herself at about 6:30 or so. I fed Haiden and finally got her off to bed at 7:30, then realized it was now or never for the run. The kids typically stay down once they are asleep, and Kiera in her slumbers wouldn't be missing me, so I grabbed my new "tail-light" and headlamp (thanks Kiera) and got ready. I hadn't eaten since about noon, with the exception of half a box of Mike and Ike's I brought along from my stocking loot. So, fueled by pure sugar and tired beyond belief from the drive, the visit, the solo child-wrangling, and the drive back I headed out the door for 7 miles. A two mile time trial was on the menu, and since I missed one speed workout last week I was determined to get the work in this week. I decided I would run easy for 4 miles, then decide if I could manage the 2 mile effort.

At 4 miles I was at the end of my usual 2 mile trial course, so I could run it backwards for a change. This means all the stuff I usually complain about would be helping me instead, as I would be running with the wind and slightly downhill instead of the reverse. I steadied the headlamp (which is fabulous by the way, Fuelbelt made it) and took off. I have to admit I was in a bit of a daze from all the day's activities and the lack of food, but I just ran hard and forgot about it all. At about 1.4 miles in I saw by the watch that I was at 5:19 pace, which lifted my spirits. It was there I had one of those rare moments of clarity. I could feel the effort, but I knew deep down there was more to give. The speed is coming, the endurance is there. I have been at this for 23 weeks, and I've done the work. It's pitch black outside, I've had a hell of a day, and I'm flying through the dark with a smooth stride that barely even bounces the headlight. If I bring this to the marathon, I can break 2:40. I can run 8 minutes faster for the distance than I ever have.

Yes it was slightly downhill, yes I had an advantage with the breeze, but at 10:35 for two miles I am feeling great. Slap-happy and incredibly hungry but great.

Epilogue: Kiera is feeling better today, she's keeping food down but has a pretty bad headache. I'm at work for the time being, but I will leave if she says the word to come home and help. Hopefully the 24 hour bug won't get anyone else in the household, and I hope everyone else's Christmas was happy and healthy.

Training: Today, stayed with the kids this morning, will have to run in the evening again once they're in bed
12/26, 7 miles, 46:34, 6:39 pace, with a 2 mile time trial in 10:35, 5:18 pace
12/25, 6 miles, 45:34, 7:35 pace, easy with Haiden in the jog-stroller
Total miles 12/19-12/25: 82

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Celebrate Your Inner Elf...


This was our Christmas card this year, all the credit (including wrangling Haiden and Finn for the photo) goes to Kiera.

Last 22 miler before the marathon this morning. Finn's wake-up call came at 4:45, so I took care of feeding him and headed out a little earlier than planned. I don't really like to hit the Rillito river path until 6:45 or so because it's hard to see in the dark, but I just stepped gingerly for the first 2 miles on the trail (which starts about 6 miles into my run) and soon it was bright enough to see. The weather is still unseasonably warm, though I did opt for long-sleeves in a festive Christmas red. I switched the GPS watch to a screen where I couldn't see my pace and just tried to run strong by feel, and I was happy at the end to see that I managed a 6:39 pace without any straining (maybe just a little on the steeper hills from 16-20). I walked into the house feeling good, but unfortunately Haiden has caught another cold just in time for the holiday, which makes her a bit cranky and irritable (which for some reason makes us all cranky and irritable). Hopefully it's just the sniffles, but having to leave Kiera with both kids on the day before Christmas so I can work was difficult, as Haiden had three complete melt-downs in the hour I was home post-run and pre-work.

I'm looking forward to a short day at the gallery today, then pizza with my brother and his family (a newer tradition around here). They have three kids, and when we add our two to the mix it's always a fair amount of mayhem, which is perfect for Christmas eve. Tomorrow will be even more fun, with Finn celebrating his first Christmas and Haiden now old enough to get excited about the holiday.

I wish you all happy holidays, and here's to a happy new year.

Training: 22 miles, 2:26:20, 6:39 pace

Friday, December 23, 2005

Into the Warm Darkness

Warm and darkness together in a sentence in December usually means sleeping under the covers, but in Tucson it means running in short-sleeves and shorts at 5am. Apparently winter has been temporarily postponed, with daytime temperatures yesterday reaching into the 80's. You'll hear no complaints from me, especially after enjoying vicarious weather reports from Northern and Northeastern climes that are less-than-friendly.

I woke at 4, surprised that Finn hadn't gotten us up already. I guess I had enough sleep in me, so I got out nice and early for 10 miles before Finn's 6-month check up. The split-pea and sweet potato soup I had for dinner was not agreeing with me, and the legs were feeling a bit thick after all the hills in yesterday's run, so I just took it easy and enjoyed the weather and the silence. While I'm technically still in Lydiard's coordination phase for another week, the efforts lessen after the final time trial, which I did last Sunday. This was one of those runs where I almost felt guilty for not going harder, but aside from a few more time trials and some more sprint/floats, the hard work is done. Nobby Hashizume shared some of his insights into this period of training. "You've done all your training so don't try to prove to yourself one more time. Don't get in a trap of 'let's see, I wonder if this plant got root. I'll pull it out to see how the roots are growing.' It'll kill it." So today was about not un-doing anything I've done, and with Christmas coming Sunday I'm doing my last 22 miler tomorrow so I can run short and early on the 25th.

One early Christmas present I bought myself was an old, used copy of "Running the Lydiard Way", published in 1978. So far I really like it, as Lydiard shares his experiences and feelings about coaching in Finland, Venezuela, Germany and other countries, as well as his native New Zealand. It definitely gives more insight into Lydiard's character, and the determination, thirst for knowledge and humor he posessed. It makes me even more sorry that I never met the man. When I started a band years ago back when I was in high school, it was much the same with John Lennon. The Beatles were my musical foundation, and the enormity of Lennon's passing, which was lost on me at 9 years old, acutely struck me at age 16.

Nobby Hashizume, Lorraine Moller and the rest of Project Lydiard 21 will be doing a great deal to keep the legacy of Arthur Lydiard and his coaching methodology alive and well, and I for one look forward to witnessing their efforts in the coming year. I mentioned previously that their website, Five Circles would be relaunched before the end of the year with new information as well as videos of Lydiard's hill training. It looks like in order to effectively present all the material in the best way possible, it may take a little longer than planned. Be patient, I know it will be worth it.

Training: 10 miles, 1:13:55, 7:21 pace

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Change is Good

Nice easy run in Sabino Canyon today, with a starting temperature in the mid-40's. I was hoping for 14 miles, but my 7am departure was slowed by both Haiden and Finn getting up around 6:30. This grinds my preparations to a halt as I get them out of bed and ready for the day. Kiera took Finn's 3am wake up call, so I was on duty until she got up a little after 7. Still, I managed 12 miles, with a nice run to the end of the road in Sabino Canyon, and a few side trips on some of the arterial trails and roads around there. I stopped to see a few deer and point them out to a father and son (tourists) who had a camera with them. They asked me (as many tourists do) about the danger of mountain lion attacks in the canyon, so I explained how of 6 of the lions deemed to have "lost their fear of humans" over the past year, one had been tranquilized and relocated, two had been shot and killed by rangers for acting "aggressively towards humans", and three had been killed by bow-hunters with a permit for hunting them. This is a shame, as Tucson continues to grow we inevitably shrink the habitats of the surrounding wildlife. A mountain lion's "territiory" generally covers 100 square miles, so any further encroachment of subdivisions into the surrounding desert has an immediate impact. I am part of the problem, as our subdivision is a little over a half-mile from Sabino Canyon, but was built 12 years ago.

Much of the fear of mountain lions in the canyon is stoked by employees here. There is a motorized tram that gives a guided tour of the canyon, and the driver/narrators, craving attention, spin yarns and generally overstate the dangers of simply walking in the canyon. Tales of grusome near-fatal encounters with vicious beasts apparently tops describing native wildflowers for keeping the tram-riders entertained. Many are afraid to even step off the tram and actually enjoy the canyon on foot, which is a shame. When I take Haiden up the road in the canyon in the jogging stroller, I've gotten a few "tsk tsk" looks of admonishment and stares of disbelief, as if I am actually escorting my daughter in a wheeled chariot for deposit in an awaiting lion's mouth.

Anyway, it was a beautiful run, and I had to really try to keep things slow. Tomorrow is either another time trial or strides, I'm still deciding which, and Saturday will be my last 22 miler for awhile.

Training: 12 miles, 1:27:01, 7:13 pace. Hilly run in Sabino Canyon

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Please Release Me Let Me Go...

Finn in captivity

Hopefully this will be the last pic of Finn in his cranial band. We visited the pediatric orthopedic specialist this morning, and he said Finn's head shape has dramatically improved, his motor skills are on track, and he doesn't show any residual signs of torticollis, which is a shortening/tightening of the neck muscles on one side that often lead to plagiocephaly, which is why Finn wears a helmet.

The doc said that he sees no reason that Finn couldn't just wear the helmet at night for awhile, and then not at all. This was a great relief for the family, and we are grateful that he responded so quickly to the treatment. We had been worried that the helmet was having some side-effects, since Finn hadn't rolled over since being fitted with it. Kiera just called me to say that as soon as she put him down on his stomache without the helmet after the appointment, he immediately rolled over! We're glad Finn can celebrate his first Christmas without the helmet, and we're hoping he will be out of it altogether soon.

Oh, this blog is about running, right? I did get out early today, and I attempted a 2 mile time trial before the sun was really up. It was hard enough running fast just three days after my marathon pace run, and a day after a 16 miler, so the added challenge of darkness and a pretty stiff breeze made it a tough day's work. I ran 11:07, or 5:34 pace for the effort, which was not great (I ran 5:31 the week before), but I felt like I ran just as hard. I'm trying to run these by effort and not kill myself before the race, so giving up a few seconds (especially with the conditions) isn't the end of the world.

I'm still debating my long run at the end of the week. I was thinking about doing a "progression run", where I would run the first half very slow and easy, then gradually ease into marathon pace, and finally finish the run with a few faster miles. However, there are also reasons to just run controlled and not stress my body too hard with three weeks left. Nobby cautioned me in an email not to try to "prove myself", that the hard work was now done. My worries about whether to do my final long time trial 4 or 3 weeks out (I did it at 4) are still with me though. It's hard to trust the hard work you've already done, and easy to keep pushing and over-do it. I still have a few days to think about it, and I'll take them to see how the body feels.

Training: 8 iles, 56:54, 7:00 pace with a 2 mile time trial at 5:34 pace

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How Does it Feel?

You can never really get inside someone else's head. During a race it can be helpful to think you know how someone else is feeling (especially if you're trying to beat them), but it's always just an assumption. Will one more surge break the spirit of your competition? If the pace is hurting you is it killing them? Breathing can be a "tell", but you never know for sure.

Pain and discomfort are inherently subjective and difficult to quantify. This is what I was thinking about on my run today. It started with me thinking about the increased discomfort a marathoner feels as he gets to the bottom of his or her glycogen stores, and how it's actually the brain that gives the muscles the order to shut down (through pain) to prevent the body from damaging itself too much. In the past I've had a problem with this "wall", and through Lydiard training I'm hoping my body will work well enough to keep my brain from trying to shut it down during the late stages of the marathon next month.

But all this pain is voluntary. I started to think of Finn, our 6-month-old, who is wearing a cranial band (or helmet) in order to correct his moderate case of plagiocephaly. He wears the helmet 23 hours a day, and he gets checked tomorrow by a specialist, then by the people who make the helmet and monitor his progress. It's not supposed to hurt, it doesn't "squeeze" his head at all, and the only pressure is "static" where his head bulges. That's nice to hear, but he's not old enough to tell us the real deal and we (my wife and I) ultimately make the decisions regarding his well-being. It's hard to be an advocate for someone else, but it is necessary.

I'm nervous about the appointments tomorrow because I don't really know what is right. I read what I can about his condition, and everyone seems to agree that the treatment doesn't hurt. However, I sense he is happier with the helmet off. Part of this might be an emotional response, seeing his full head revealed, scratching his scalp (he likes this after getting the helmet taken off), and kissing his head the way parents do. He gets his "break" from the helmet at 6pm or so, this way we can bathe him and have some time together before he gets strapped back into it for bedtime.

So tomorrow a decision gets made. I'm hoping his measurements (of how crooked his head is) fall into the "slight" category from the "moderate" he started with. If so, we'll see if we can spring him from the thing entirely, or perhaps have him wear it only at night. I'm worried about things like his lack of peripheral vision in the helmet, and also that he hasn't rolled over with the helmet on, which is something he's done without the helmet in the past. I'm skipping out on some of work (and doing the run very early) so I can be around for both appointments, and I'm hoping things go well.

Sixteen miles gives a man time to think.

Training: 16 miles, 1:55:45, 7:14 pace. Felt a little tight from Sunday but good overall

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dress Rehearsal

Christmas, Tucson style

Sunday was the final big test, where I hopefully established (both physically and mentally) what pace I can hold for the marathon in one month's time. After 3 big weeks, which included an 11 mile time trial, a half-marathon, and a 15 mile time trial, it came down to the "dress rehearsal". I wore the clothes, carried the gels, even drove an extra 16 miles to stash a water bottle so I wouldn't have to stop to drink. This would be my mini-marathon, a 22 miler with 18-20 miles at marathon pace.

In Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top" book, he says this about the final time trial. "With the marathon five weeks away, you can ease your effort slightly but, just over four weeks out, a trial simulating actual race conditions can be run. Anything from 20 miles to the full marathon distance works. It will give you a good indication of the result you can expect-you must allow for the fact that you will not be as truly fresh as you will be for the marathon itself-and it can help you to check your pace judgement because any mistake in the trial will be graphically remembered four weeks later. It will check your racing reactions to food and drink before and during the race. The greatest benefit will come from the run itself in a sharp improvement in your racing fitness. Retain that by keeping all further training rlatively easy and by resisting the temptation to run too much in the final week."

So the stage was set, I even ran an out and back that would bring me eastward (into the sun and usually the breeze) for the second half, like the course in Phoenix. Lucas agreed to do some of the run with me, and helped by stashing a second bottle for me at about five miles in. I topped it off by carbo-loading the night before with...a bacon cheeseburger?? Well, nobody's perfect, and there wouldn't be any drama if I did everything right, now would there?

I decided to take the first two miles as a warm-up, and try to run at least 18 miles at 6:00-6:05 pace. After 18, I would either extend the trial to 20, or run the last two miles easy as a cool-down. The warm-up miles had my legs tingling (maybe it was the 34 degree temperature), and I clicked them off at sub-7 pace, a little fast. I stopped and used the restroom on the river trail (damn burger), and then set off. Just like the first two trials, the pace felt fast at first, and then I gradually settled into it. I found the bottle Lucas left at 5 miles, and kept cruising along at 5:59-6:00 pace. The trend I noticed is that I tend to settle right into almost 6 minute flat miles without looking at the watch on these, and I guess for a guy trying to break 2:40 that's a good thing (6:04 pace would do it). I found my second bottle at about 8 miles in, took my first gel and stowed the bottle to pick up and drink from on the way back (lots of scrub and bushes make this easy). I picked up Lucas soon after, and we made it to the 11 mile turnaround together (9 miles of effort at this point plus the warm-up). We headed back into the sun and the wind, and at about 11 miles of effort (and my third drink) I started to curse the burger again. The legs and lungs were still fine, but I knew a pit-stop was probably brewing. Lucas dropped off about this point, he had run pretty hard the day before and decided to take it easy. By myself again now, it took a little more concentration to keep the pace, still 6:00 at this point. Finally, with less than 6 miles to go, and a second gel downed, I quickly jumped into the bushes for the world's fastest...well, you know. Back on the path now, and I'm at 15 miles of effort. I can feel it more now, and at 17 miles I see the GPS slip from 6:00 pace to 6:01. I also felt like my glycogen was definitely running a bit low, and I made the decision to back off after 18 miles of effort.

The last two miles were pleasant, and Lucas had driven his car over to meet me so we jogged it in together. All in all, 18 miles of a 22 miler at 6:01 pace, or 1:48:10. A good day's work, though I'll probably always wonder if I should have gutted it out for 20 at pace. Nobby's words of finding yourself "90% coming up" on the start line rather than 90% coming down do stick in my mind, and writing this the day after gives me reason to believe I made a good call. I ran an extra 3 last evening with Haiden in the jog-stroller through Winterhaven's holiday lights with my club, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners, and I managed an easy 8 today, so I feel I'm still hopefully on the way up.

Training: Sunday, 22 miles, 2:16:01, 6:11 pace, with 18 miles at 6:01 pace. P.M., 3 miles easy with Haiden
Today: 8 miles, 1:00:03, 7:30 pace
Total miles for the week: 86 miles in 8 sessions

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Land Speed Record

Fastest muffin run yet today, as Haiden and I got off to a late start. Hard to figure out why...
H: (coming out of her room in a dress) Time to go on a run?
Dad: Sweetie, you have to wear pants and a jacket, it's very cold outside.
H: Noooooo! I want to wear a dress!!!
(Dad pulls out a pair of pants)
H: Nooooo! I want these ones!! These ones!!
(Dad pulls out a pair of long socks)
H: Noooo! I don't like those!!!
And so it goes, from the shirt to the jacket, Haiden fighting every stitch of clothing.

Sound familiar anyone? She's finally in the jogger, then remembers she wants a bag of Cheerios to snack on (we have the "yogurt burst" kind, where one of every ten or so Cheerios is coated with some sugary-strawberry-yogurtish substance). She picks through the bag, eating only these particular O's, leaving the plain ones for me. These end up in my cereal later.

We pass the market at 1.7 miles, so it's another 1.3 until we can turn around and head back to it for a muffin. She of course wants to stop NOW, though I travel on in spite of her protests. We finally turn around, into the warming sun, and make it back to the Bashas' for a chocolate muffin, which has gone up $.19 since our last visit (tied to the oil market?).

From this point dad can do no wrong, and things stay on a good note for the rest of the run. Haiden is excited about her new dance class with Mom, and she's anxious to get back to see her brother before his morning nap. On runs like these, when I'm thinking about her, I often forget I'm even exercising. This was supposed to be an easy recovery run, which I used to do at close to 8 minute pace with her, though I finished today with 6 miles at 7:26 pace. Perhaps I'm in better condition, but more than likely it was the subconscious knowlege that our extended wardrobe tussle left me with 25 minutes to eat, shower, shave, and get out the door for work. Who knows for sure.

Last big time trial at marathon pace tomorrow, wish me luck.

Training: 6 miles, 44:34, 7:26 pace

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tagged?? Or, The Madness Stops Here!

Angie "tagged" me today, so I'm supposed to write five things about myself and tag five others. I'll do the former since I ignored my first tag months ago, but I'll skip the latter. I figure blogs are pretty much ego-fueled anyway, so we're always sharing things about ourselves.

Here we go, the guy I used to be:

1. 213 pounds at 6'2", back in my "Fat Elvis" days. In 1998 I returned to Tucson after spending a year and a half in Portland. I was broke, drinking too much and grossly overweight. I would buy two large "Little Caesar's" pizzas for $10 and a 12-pack of Ice House beer. I would drink 3 beers and eat half a pizza for four nights straight (then usually go out for more drinks).

2. My ambition since age 16 was to be a musician. I had a band called Star Crunch for years (1992-1996, then again for a year in 98), where I was the singer/songwriter/guitarist. There's a link at the bottom of the sidebar of the blog that has a song from our '94 CD (mp3). We even did two tours, with a van and everything, during the summers of '93 and '94.

3. My wife Kiera and I did a triathlon relay on the morning of our wedding five years ago. Kiera did the cycling, and I did the swim and run. This was after I did the race once already by myself. This made for a very-long but fantastic day!

4. I'll eat almost everything except olives and mushrooms. It's a texture thing.

5. I'm a southpaw, but for some reason I only bat right-handed. When I was cut from my high-school baseball team my dad was crushed. He was bothered that instead of coming home and sulking I wanted to go out with my friends. He gave me a poem he cut out from the newspaper, called "The Man in the Mirror", by Dale Wimbrow, which I just found through google.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.

I think back to this poem often, especially now that I have children of my own. Also, it turned out that getting cut turned out to be a great thing for me. My dad forced me to run track, and I was too slow to have a chance at any of the shorter events, so I started running both the mile and two mile. Funny how things work out.

No Treat Friday

Haiden and a rare "no helmet" Finn moment

Finn was up to his tricks at 3am this morning, but I still got off for my run at a decent hour. I decided to take some different routes, some dirt and some pavement in Sabino Canyon, and through some high-dollar neighborhoods nearby. The goal was to get myself out of the rhythm of running the easy days a little too fast. Even though it feels easy at the time, I know that 7 minute pace is just too fast for me if I want to have a good marathon pace run on Sunday. This tactic worked, as I finished 13 miles at 7:14 pace. This got me back home in time to share a homemade smoothie (or "special milkshake", as Haiden calls it) with my daughter.

I'm thinking quite a bit about Sunday's final big marathon time trial. I've mentioned previously the difficulties I've had making my schedule during the late anaerobic/track phase and early coordination phase of Lydiard training because of the mixed messages I get between the two schedules I'm using as guides. When the subject came up on the Lydiard/Daniels thread on letsrun.com, I posted about the difficulties I was having in choosing how many trials, and how long to do them. Here's a link to page 62 in the thread, where Nobby, Kim Stevenson, Rich Englehart and Mark Coughlin weigh in on the issue. This thread is overflowing with information for those interested in Arthur Lydiard, but this particular page (and the one following it) are probably my favorites so far.

So tomorrow will be a very slow, very easy run to prepare myself, and it will perhaps include Haiden and a muffin. The miles won't be quite as high this week, but I really want this run to be a good simulation for the marathon. I'm even going so far as to stow some water bottles on the course so I won't have to stop to drink along the way. Lucas has expressed an interest in some of the run, so hopefully I will have some company.

Today is also "no treat Friday", at least for me. The last two pounds I lost came back according to the scale this morning, and I'm figuring that Kiera's homemade hawaiian pizza is partially to blame, but the recent influx of tasty treats (mostly chocolate) sent to the gallery where I work are the true cause. So today the big Kirkland brands tin of chocolate-wafer-cookie-thingies at the top of the stairs to the office, the open chocolate covered caramel apple, the homemade fudge and the various other assorted candies will be off limits. The will-power to execute this day successfully rivals that of the pending time trial on Sunday. ...Actually, staying off the sweets is probably more difficult.

Training: 13 miles, 1:34:09, 7:14 pace. Felt good, quads a little sore from the accelerations yesterday perhaps.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Be careful what you wish for,...

...you might just get it. Yesterday I lamented the poor job I did as a parent and a husband, but left off with, "Tomorrow is another day, and while there is another run at the start of it, there is also another chance to do the other important things right." Such a self-righteous post, I had to pay.

So it's midnight and Finn is screaming. I do grumble a bit but take care of the feeding and put him back down. He still doesn't want to sleep. Haiden and Finn start crying together at 1:15 and I'm at it again, giving Haiden some water as Kiera checks Finn, then I'm volunteering to rock him and feed Finn some more. I'm waiting for his belly to burst like in the "Alien" movies, since he's had about 16 ounces since 6pm. Finally, the clock on the microwave reads 2:15 and everyone is down.

After getting up a few hours later I sit with the coffee in the dark house, wondering if the moon is bright enough for me to see the track. Today is my first set of a classic Lydiard workout, 50 sprint/50 float. The goal is getting a strong anaerobic stimulus without accumulating a huge amount of lactate. This is typically called a "freshener", which wakes up the legs while building and exercising the neuromuscular connectors, but without the lasting fatigue of longer interval/repetitions or the accumutation of lactate that accompanies an anaerobic time trial.

Lydiard says these should only take 10-15 minutes, and you should feel good afterwards. Most of what I've read says to shoot for 1.5-2 miles, sprinting 50 then floating 50. So four efforts and four "floats" per lap. I decided before I started I would shoot for two miles, but would call it a day early if I started to bog down. I haven't done much real "sprinting", which I classify as faster than my "striders", and for the floats I figured I would concentrate on stepping lightly and keeping my stride long and strong, while not neccessarily fast.

The workout was hard, but it felt much less taxing (physically and mentally) than the 2 mile time trial I did earlier. Knowing that almost as soon as I had accelerated that I would get a short break kept me from stressing too much, and I didn't feel like I was dragging during the floats until the last 400. I did check my watch at the end of the two mile workout and was pleased to see 11:03, which is exactly the time of my time trial for the same distance earlier in the week. I did note how much better I felt after this workout than I did after the straight time trial, and I could see how a runner could do this type of workout almost year-round without bringing his conditioning down.

So a good day after a bad night. In other news, Angie, a Tucson mom/ultra-runner/blogger sent me this link to a story in our Tucson Citizen paper that mentions I was the first Arizonan in the Tucson half-marathon, and that I won the Southern Arizona Roadrunners' Desert Grand Prix, which is a series of ten races (really nine since the marathon and half-marathon are run concurrently) where the runner with the highest accumulated placings wins some sort of award from a local running shop. This is pretty cool, as the competition started in January and it was one of my year's goals before I even started Lydiard training. I think the key to winning it was not getting hurt, and having two small children that make leaving town on a race weekend difficult! There's an awards ceremony after the club runs through Winterhaven (a neighborhood in Tucson with crazy holiday lights at night) on Sunday. I'm bringing Haiden for sure, and I'm hoping Kiera and Finn will come too so we can break out the double-jogger.

Training: 10 miles, 1:09:34, 6:57 pace, with 2 miles of 50 sprint/50 float at 11:03

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Runner's Widow

I mentioned before that I was helping Marathon Thomas on his first attempt to do Lydiard-based training. Well, two weeks in and I've lost him. At this time in his life, with a great wife and a beautiful young daughter, Thomas decided that running six or more days a week was just too hard on them. The first thing my wife said when she heard this was "Gee, maybe I should talk to his wife to see how she convinced him." Funny, but telling at the same time.

I think every coupled blogging runner has a post like this. One of the reasons I took on Lydiard training is that I wanted to really give running my best effort. A secondary reason was a hope that by learning to truly devote myself to giving my all in running I would learn to give more of myself in other areas of life.

To some extent this has happened. At work, where I sell artwork (not really that glamorous, I still take out the trash, "go-fer" lunch and other things), I am finding I am able to tap into some of the confidence I've gained through running to help in my salesmanship. I'm also more likely to go out on a limb and contact people about paintings, something I was more hesitant to do in the past. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, which is a lesson racing into the "unknown" (with regard to pace) has taught me.

Unfortunately, I sometimes find I don't give my best effort, and often it's my wife and family that suffers for it. This most often happens when family life and my running come into conflict. Andrew had a nice post where he talks about setting a "departure time" each morning, which for him is early, in order to get the miles in while he's "missed" the least. I started with this earlier in the year, when it was warm and light at 4:30 or so, and I tried to make it back to help with the kids/breakfast/cleaning up etcetera. Now that I can't run in the daylight on the river path until almost 6:45, I've been pushing back many of my runs. Finn waking up so often between midnight and 5 has exacerbated this, as I really feel like going back to sleep for awhile after my wife and I get up with him (one makes the bottle and feeds, the other changes him and hands him off).

Today I was bad, worse than usual. Kiera took the 4am feeding, then fed him some more when he kept grumbling and had us up into the "5's". We finally fell back asleep, with me re-setting my alarm for 6:15. I somehow managed to turn it off and didn't get out of bed until 6:30. I rushed to make coffee and an english muffin, knowing that 16 miles takes me two hours, and if I left at 7 I would get back with just enough time for a shower and a quick breakfast. You know what happens when you're in a hurry? Everything. First Haiden is up, so I tend to her and get her dressed. Then I deposit her in our bedroom, where the wife is still in bed and grumbling about wanting to remain there. Haiden wants to go on the run, Kiera wants to be left to sleep, and like a bad dad/husband I deny both requests. To make matters worse, as I'm heading for the garage to leave Finn is up again, this time for good so Kiera will be out of bed tending to both while I'm running.

A half mile out, I realize I forgot to take the recycling out (after sleeping through and forgetting to take the trash out yesterday), but I have a schedule to keep so I go on. The worst of it is I had a truly splendid run, the late start gave me the pleasure of feeling the warm Tucson sun, and the 16 miles flew by at a pace that should have been too fast but felt easy. No pain, no blisters, no one even tried to kill me with their SUV.

As I return at 9:01 the recycling bins have made it to the curb (through Kiera's efforts), loads of kid laundry are spinning in both the washer and dryer, Finn and Haiden have been fed, and the house looks pretty good. I make a quick "special milkshake" with Haiden, jump in the shower, then dress and depart for work.

I don't always do the right thing, none of us do. Hopefully Kiera understands, and I did make an offer for her to take the evening for herself for shopping or visiting friends (she won't, though she might take me up on take-out or dinner out with the family). Tomorrow is another day, and while there is another run at the start of it, there is also another chance to do the other important things right.

Training: 16 miles, 1:52:09, 7:01 pace. Floated

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lydiard training is about to get easier...

Well, sort of. This press release just in from Nobby Hashizume, courtesy of the Lydiard/Daniels thread on letsrun.

"Lorraine Moller of New Zealand, the bronze medallist from 1992 Barcelona Olympic woman’s marathon, and Nobby Hashizume, a former professional Japanese corporate running team coach and the last partner to Arthur Lydiard, announced Friday (12/9/2005) in Houston, TX, their intention of moving forward with establishment of the Lydiard Foundation USA. It was almost exactly a year ago at Houston’s SunMart Texas Trail Endurance Run where Arthur Lydiard conducted his last lecture in front of an audience of 600. The following day after encouraging runners at the finish-line of the race, the New Zealand coaching legend passed away quietly in his hotel room. He was 87 years old.

The evening of the official banquet for 2005 SunMart Ultra, marked as the Memorial Service for Lydiard, was magical with Flying Kiwi Greats of the 70s, Dick Quax and Rod Dixon, joined Moller and another Kiwi trained by Lydiard, local Texan, Glenys Quick who now lives in Dallas, to honor this coaching legend. Quax, former world record holder in 5000m and a silver medallist in 1976 Montreal Olympic 5000m behind another disciple of Lydiard, Finland’s Lasse Viren, flew all the way from New Zealand just for this occasion to honor the old master. “Arthur was not only a great athletic coach but a great New Zealander,” Quax said. “He really put the country on the map as an athletic power house.”

Rod Dixon, Director of Coaching and Training for Devine Racing, is considered by many as one of the most versatile middle distance runners in history, ranging from 800m to the marathon. “We New Zealanders all used the principles of the Lydiard program,” Dixon said. “These principles helped us to become International and Olympic runners. It is these same principles that we introduce with our training programs for marathon runners”.

“It was his training principle that produced string of world beating middle distance and distance runners from New Zealand,” Moller added. “When they walked away from that principle, New Zealand athletics lost its edge.”

It is indeed this “edge” based on the Lydiard principle, fondly refereed by the followers as “Lydiardism”, which Moller and Hashizume will be offering through the Foundation’s various programs. “You ask most of successful Japanese marathon coaches,” Hashizume comments, “and they will tell you they based their training principles on those of Lydiard.”

The past 12 months, Moller and Hashizume have worked on the programs in detail and fund-raising. They have secured a funding support from Jennifer Maxwell, co-founder and co-inventor of PowerBar in October. “Brian (the late Brian Maxwell) was a big advocate of the Lydiard principle of training,” Jennifer said. “Nobby met with us a couple of years ago and talked about possibility of Lydiard Foundation. I think Brian would have liked to keep his promise and support their programs.”

SunMart, per its president, John Cook, also agreed to join the program as its participant to support the Foundation."

As anyone who reads my blog knows, Nobby has been my guardian angel during my limited time training the Lydiard way. I have mentioned the Lydiard Foundation before, and now I can say that before the end of the year its home on the web, Five Circles, will be greatly enhanced with Lydiard's teachings, straight from those who knew him best.

One of the best features Nobby will incorporate is a video illustrating all three of the techniques Lydiard used for hill training; steep hill running, bounding, and springing. Nobby was kind enough to send me a copy of this early on DVD when I was just starting my hill phase, and I can tell you it's terrific. Nobby and his wife are the stars of the show, as they are used to illustrate the different exercises, much in slow motion. For anyone considering trying Lydiard's hill phase, this information is invaluable. I would have mentioned the DVD in my blog, but I didn't want Nobby to be beseiged with requests for it (from my three readers).

Anyway, to hear the foundation has secured more funding and partnerships is great news for any Lydiard fan, and I'm glad to pass it along.

Oh yeah, I ran today too. Today was a 2-mile time trial, and though I felt fairly ragged doing it, I managed 11:03, or 5:32 pace. The run was slightly uphill and into the wind, and I could definitely feel Sundays marathon pace run in my legs. All in all I would have liked to run faster, but it wasn't in the cards. I was happy to do the whole two miles though, as I considered cutting it short like I did last week. On the plus side, today was the first day I skipped the duct tape, and I finished pretty much pain free.

Training: 8 miles, 54:37, 6:50 pace with a two mile time trial in 11:03

Monday, December 12, 2005

Making a list, checking it twice

A few days ago I posted about changing my approach from strictly following my schedule from Lydiard's newest "Running to the Top" to incorporating some of the schedule from an older edition of "Running With Lydiard". I liked that the latter had two 25km time trials, one 20km time trial, and a full marathon time trial, while the former only had one time trial above 10km, which was a 35km trial four weeks out. In combining these schedules, I came up with a compromise; three time trials, one at 11 miles (of a 16 mile run), one at 15 miles (of a 16 mile run), and one at 18-20 miles (of a 22 mile run), plus the half-marathon I ran at 6 weeks out. I did the second of these yesterday, and I'm pleased to report I managed 1:30:15 for the effort, which comes out to 6:01 pace. Two weeks ago I did the 11 miles at 6:02 pace, so I'm trying to zero in on what I'm capable of for the marathon.

So the longer time trial list has been made, and dutifully checked twice. For both of these efforts I brought along the GPS and consciously tried to keep my pace between 6:00 and 6:04 pace, which would land me on the good side of 2:40:00 for the marathon. I think Lydiard (and Nobby Hashizume) would frown on this method, as I didn't really run by feel. However, there is a distinct psychological benefit I feel I get from keeping this pace for these distances, and (maybe this is a holdover from my days training with Pete Pfitzinger's plan) I feel that keeping an even pace throughout is the best way to manage glycogen stores efficiently for the duration of the marathon. For now, I would rather run the second half a little faster on these (with the help of the satellites and GPS) than blow up by going out too fast and crawling home. Also, I'm treating this marathon as a stepping stone for what I hope is a three-year commitment (and hopefully beyond) of following the Lydiard method to get as close to my potential as I can. I'm hoping in the future to be more able to shun the technology and truly run the Lydiard way, but I'm not ready to make my own shoes yet!

So a good weekend for me, and I was beaming after the workout while talking with Lucas (who ran most of it with me along the river path). Between my similar effort at the same pace two weeks ago, the positive half-marathon, and this weekend's great run, I feel like I am still on the way up. This week will be a tap-dance of effort/recovery to keep me fresh for this Sunday's penultimate time trial. I hope to be ready.

Oh, and as far as the blister epidemic goes, thank you again Eric for pounding the duct tape solution home. My left is now fully healed and my right is almost there.

Training: 8 miles, 58:09, 7:16 pace. Tried to go very easy, a little stiff from yesterday
Yesterday: 16 miles, 1:38;47, 6:09 pace overall, 15 miles at 6:01 pace
Total miles for the week: 86 in 7 sessions

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mellow morning

Didn't set the alarm this morning, and Finn and Haiden mercifully let us sleep until nearly 6. Haiden remembered my promise of a "muffin run" in the jogging stroller (we run and get a muffin at Bashas', a market here, then run back), so she had that on her mind. After serving her "first breakfast" (she has 2-3 breakfasts these days, but doesn't eat much the rest of the day), we were off into the cold. H was wrapped in a warm hooded sweater and a Sesame Street blanket, and I donned the cap and gloves even though it was probably a solid 40 degrees. I do run slower with her, so I stay cold longer. I was hoping an easy 6 miles wouldn't irritate the blisters, and I was half-right. The left is almost healed and gave me no trouble, but the right one still really smarts, even with neosporin, band-aids, and copious amounts of duct tape. I will survive, though I'm a bit worried about running 15 of 16 miles at marathon pace tomorrow on the blister.

The muffin was good, and we also picked up a box of clementine tangerines (Haiden's favorite), which are in season and on sale. We ate a few with the muffin (to lighten the load on the way home of course), and then headed back. I ran a little fast, but it gave me time to cook up some egg and cheese burritos for the two of us. Haiden had never had this delicacy, and she actually enjoyed it. Finn awoke from his morning nap before I left, and while the rest of the family readied themselves to go to the library I headed off to work. Hope everyone else had as nice a morning.

Training: 6 miles, 44:53, 7:29 pace, with Haidne in the jogging stroller

Friday, December 09, 2005

Coordinating the coordination

I'm not going to talk about my feet and the blisters because I don't want to think about them. Still having trouble, more duct tape tomorrow, as per Eric's suggestion. Scooter had some good advice too.

I'm in my first week of Lydiard's "coordination" phase, which will take me four weeks. Here's what Lydiard says about this phase-

"After these first four weeks of track training, another four and a half weeks period should start with the aim to coordinate all the training that you've so far done. Now that speed. stamina, and the anaerobic capacity to exercise are more or less developed, it is necessary to have you running smoothly though-out your competitions without apparent weak spots showing in your running. Even though you may have fine stamina and speed, it does not necessarily mean that you can race well and to your best potential. If you give your body certain exercises to do often enough, then your body will adjust and manage them efficiently. The same can be said about running over distances, If you have the basic condition and run over certain distances often in a controlled way, you start to improve in performances. So at this stage of training, there are these aspects to consider:

It is necessary to do some anaerobic training, only at this time you need to drop the volume and increase the intensity. In other words, if you run, say 400 meters twenty times, it takes a long time and you get very tired with the training. Whereas, if you run five laps around the track by sprinting fifty meters in every 100 meters, floating the other 50 meters, in all twenty sprints; you will also be very tired, though in this case it will only take about 7-8 minutes to complete the exercise, if you are a mature person. This is called sharpening, or putting the edge on the knife of anaerobic capacity training; and this way we can get into racing shape without seeming to pull the good condition down. At this stage it is usually best to use this training once every week, say. upon Monday."

So it's time-trials, shorter sprinting, and getting used to running marathon pace for four weeks. Here's what my first week's schedule from my "Running to the Top" book says-
Monday-100m sprints every 200 meters, 10-12 times
Tuesday-Jogging 90 minutes
Wednesday-Time trial, 5,000m
Thurday-Jogging 90 minutes
Friday-Fast relaxed running, 100m x 6
Saturday-Time trial 5,000m
Sunday-Jogging 90 minutes

This is a "down" week, with a 35k "fast" time trial scheduled at the end of next week. My week has been much different, as I've been recovering from the half-marathon and some serious blisters. For quality I tried a 3,200 meter time-trial and called it off after one mile, then did 8 of the 100 meter sprints every 200 meters today. I'm also planning to run 16 miles on Sunday, with 15 of them at marathon (or 6:00-6:04) pace. I also kept my long run at 22 miles, and did another run of 16 miles. So the mileage is still staying constant, as I'm not really able to ramp up the intensity this week because of my recovery.

The coordination phase is honestly giving me trouble, partly because I am trying to work from two schedules. My "Running to the Top" book, and an earlier "Running with Lydiard" schedule Mark Coughlin sent me. I honestly prefer the latter because of Lydiard's focus on longer time trials in preparation for the marathon. "Running to the Top" only includes one time trial over 10k, which is the 35k one I mentioned above, scheduled for one month out. "Running with Lydiard" schedules two 25k time trials, one 20k, and one full marathon time trial (the last one at one month out). I like this much better, though I would probably cut the full marathon trial to 22 miles at the max. The other problem is that "Running with Lydiard's" schedule is two weeks longer than "Running to the Top", so the best I can do is combine both schedules the best I can with the limited time I have (5 weeks, 2 days and counting).

Here's my answer, though it's subject to change. I did 11 of 16 miles at marathon pace two weeks ago (the week before the half-marathon), then I did the half-marathon full-bore, I'm scheduling 15 of 16 miles at marathon pace this Sunday, and I will do my long run next Sunday with 18-20 miles at marathon pace. Between the three marathon pace runs and the half-marathon, I'll have four high-quality simulations for the real marathon in January. In the past I've always felt I've needed more marathon pace work, and I'm hoping by combining the two schedules with the time I have I can stay true to Lydiard while maximizing my potential.

In addition to the marathon pace runs, I will do some of the prescribed leg-speed sprinting, probably alternating between the "50 sprint, 50 floats" prescribed in "Running with Lydiard" and the "100 sprint every 200" written in "Running to the Top". If this sounds complicated, it is, but I'm hoping by my second go-around with Lydiard I will have found what works while staying true to the method. I will also try to do the shorter time-trials, though I won't do them as hard as I've done in the past, which has "cooked" me a bit too much to stay fresh.

Sorry for the boring and long-winded post, but hopefully others struggling to "get" Lydiard will appreciate my view from the trenches.

Training: 10 miles, 1:07:19, 6:43 pace, with 8x 100 sprint, 100 float on the road (counting steps)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

These Damn Feet


Zoo lights with Haiden, who didn't get a muffin run last night.

New shoes, new insoles, and new spenco blister pads. Two out of three worked great today. The blister pads, however, are pieces of junk. While the box says you can wear them for 4-5 days, it should read 4-5 miles. That's about where they both migrated down my feet, one shuffling under my heel while the other was content to release from its blister and stick to the side of my sock. Needless to say, it was a pretty uncomfortable run.

That being said, the legs and stride are back somewhat, though I'm trying to be careful after racing on Sunday. Today I did my 22 mile long run, which I usually do earlier in the week but couldn't stomache doing until today. Besides, I'm moving the long run back towards Sunday for next week's last big time trial, which will be one month out from the marathon January 15.
I made sure to wear the gloves and hat for the whole run, and drank some extra water beforehand. This was smart, as the fountain at 7 miles in/7 to go was frozen again, leaving me one drink at mile 11. Finn woke me up at 4, so I was kind of sleep-running for the first half. I managed a 6:57 pace for the run, which was faster than planned, but I didn't force the pace so I'm not worried about going too fast. It felt good to get my stride back after yesterday's mediocre run and Tuesday's death-march. I'm hoping to do some faster strides tomorrow, and to write more about Lydiard's coordination phase, which I'm supposedly starting this week, although so far it's all been slow running after the race. Stay tuned.

Training: 22 miles, 2:33:06, 6:57 pace

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Abort!

A short post for a short day. I was scheduled for a 2 mile time trial in my first "coordination phase" week, but it didn't quite work out. I got up a little late and headed out for 6 miles in the 32 degree morning, hoping to do the last two as a time trial. Unfortunately, the race this weekend really did take its toll on me, and after one mile at 5:19 I decided to pull the plug. My adductors and quads are still sore, and I was definitely running with a few hitches in my stride. I tried to weigh the benefits of sucking it up and suffering through the second mile with the potential for it to set back my recovery even further, possibly ruining my 15 mile marathon pace effort scheduled for Sunday and my speedwork on Friday. After running slowly for two minutes after the 1 mile effort, I decided to try to turn the run into two 1 mile intervals and took off again. Within a few steps the blisters started acting up and the legs were fighting, so I gave up the ghost and just jogged it in.

Nobby once said in an email that I should "have the courage to take a day off." Well, perhaps that would have been the wiser choice today, but calling the workout early was the best I could do. If I feel well and have the time tonight, I may take Haiden out for a quick muffin run since she couldn't come along today, which made her very upset.

On a happier note, I saw my regular podiatrist and he set me up with new metatarsal pads in my new spenco insoles. I think my blisters were from wear spots on the outsides of the arches of the old ones, so I'm hoping they will relent. I also stopped to buy some blister pads on the way in, which should help for the long run tomorrow. My podiatrist liked my "quick-fix" of turning an old pad upside down and using it on my new neuroma, but while examining my handiwork he had no worries of being put out of business.

Special bonus today, Mike's half-marathon pics.

Training: 6 miles, 42:12, 7:02 pace. Planned on a 2 mile time trial, did one mile in 5:19 and called it off. Still sore.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How not to recover from a half-marathon

1. Run 10 miles the day after, preferably after a short night's sleep, punctuated by late-night/early morning feedings for a 5-month-old infant.
2. Drink two beers one night after race, get to bed late after watching TV and helping with Christmas cards, get up at midnight for another infant-feeding.
3. Run 16 miles the second day, discard gloves and hat early only to be hit by sub-30's temperature shift along river trail. When hands and ears go numb, go the extra mile in the cold instead of turning around early, foregoing any attempt to save extremities from frostbite. When blisters act up, curse self for not wanting to waste two extra band-aids. Do not eat a gel or any nutrtition, and skip drinking any fluids for the two-hour duration of the run as the water fountains are frozen solid.
4. Shiver in warm shower and ponder how to get the week's pending speedwork done.

The half marathon was the last day of my Lydiard track/anaerobic phase, and while I'm tired today I'm fairly happy with how it went. For two of the four weeks I was not able to do all three of the key workouts, but during those weeks I did make one of the two efforts I did longer (and in the case of the race tougher) than scheduled, so I hope I'm coming out of it about even. The first piece of advice I would give anyone in my shoes would be something Nobby Hashizume, who worked closely with Lydiard for 25 years emailed to me. Slow down when you need to. I probably could have gotten more out of the key workouts if I had slowed down on my long runs and medium-long runs during this phase. I got the message, but it took me a few weeks to listen. Running fast does stress the body, and it needs time to recover. Hmmm, maybe I should be taking this advice today.

So the next four weeks is my Lydiard coordination phase, where I hopefully ready my body for the specific task of running a marathon at sub-2:40 pace, while my previous personal best is 2:47:50. Mark Couglin kindly sent me some of Lydiard's older schedules, which I will be mixing with my schedule from Lydiard's most recent edition of "Running to the Top". I'll let you know how the weeks will look. Happy running.

Training: 16 miles, 1:54:53, 7:11 pace. Tired and cold, especially at the end.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thank you Arthur

First, a few disclaimers-the course is downhill, there was a slight tailwind, the weather was cool and perfect (33 degrees Fahrenheit at the start), and I had a good pacing pal in Lucas, who I did last week's marathon pace run with. That being said, as I commented to Yvonne after her great race at Chicago, if you don't make excuses for bad conditions, then you don't have to make them for good conditions either.

So I had my best race ever, I guess in a fit of adrenaline I even said so to a reporter from the Tucson Citizen. My quote turned out wrong though-where I say "It's the hardest I've worked at a run in my life", I really said "It's the hardest I've worked at my running in my life". It's a small thing, but I do think it's important to make the distinction. Following the Lydiard method has been a real challenge, and I owe my great day to my cumulative efforts before the race (the 20 weeks I've been following Lydiard's training), which allowed me to P.R. and execute what I felt was my best race. God that sounded pretensious, sorry about that.

I was on the start line well-rested, though worried about my self-doctored neuroma pad. Kiera had done two feedings with Finn the night before which allowed me to sleep well so I was ready. With the sound of the gun three runners, two of which were decked out in full Hanson's garb, took off at close to 5 minute pace. I found myself leading the chase pack along with Lucas, Dave (the masters runner from Tucson I've mentioned before), Chris (another runner I ran a half-marathon with in March), and a few unknowns. We started out as 10 or so, and I felt like we were running around the pace I did the 10 miler in a few weeks back, 5:35 or so. We hit the first mile in 6:25. Immediately, a few people start to panic and make goofy surges, but the runners I mentioned and I start talking about how the markers must really be off. Still, it's disconcerting when we hit mile 2 in 5:49, which seems very slow given the effort. I miss the mile 3 split but I hit the watch at mile 4 with 10:08, which meant we apparently averaged 5:04 for two miles. It was all quite absurd, but I just tried to maintain my rhythm as we started to shed runners from the pack. After mile 5 (in 5:25 which seemed semi-plausible), the course detoured into a rolling out-and-back section, which is regarded as the most difficult part of the race. Lucas took the lead into the wind, I tucked in, and after changing places with him I noticed that we were the only two remaining from our pack, even though mile 6 was 5:43 (though who knows if this was accurate). As we started the "back" portion of the out-and-back Lucas lagged a bit while I continued the same pace. I felt like I was on my own for mile 7, which passed in 6:19 (the markers were clearly set out by a drunkard), but I could still hear Lucas's footsteps in the distance. He is a great runner, and does very well with an even pace, so I was happy to hear him coming back up to me. He arrived and was now in front of me at mile 8, which we hit in 5:33. Just 8K to go now, though I was starting to get just a little strained as Lucas put about 4 steps on me. I tried to stay calm as mile 9 arrived in 5:32. I wasn't slowing, so I wasn't too worried at this point. Mile 10 at 5:26 found us hearing footsteps, as a runner had somehow come up behind us. This must have been a huge effort for him to make, since he wasn't one of the guys in our pack earlier.By mile 11 he had passed us, even with our 5:30 pace, and it was a new race.

Two miles to go in a race that had until this point stretched what I thought I was capable of for the distance. I didn't dare look at the total elapsed time on watch, I really didn't want to know. Getting passed so late in a race when you're at the limit is hard, and is also something I'm not used to. As the runner stretched his lead to more than 40 meters I had to make a decision. I had read Pete Pfitzinger's article on surging in the last Running Times, and I thought if I ever needed to surge it was now. I told Lucas that I was going for it, and that this was our chance to beat this guy. Then I just tried to accelerate slowly, though my legs were a little unwilling at first. At first the runner didn't seem to be getting any closer, and when mile 12 ended with a 5:18 I knew it was probably over for me. One more surge. I've come so far this year, and I knew with all the miles I'd run that I could live with falling apart the last mile, but I couldn't live without giving chase to this runner with everything I had. Fourth place was on the line, my best finish ever for a race of this size. He was getting closer, there was still time. I was coming even with him, there was still at least a half-mile to go. As I got on his shoulder, I somehow opened up my stride and ran that last 800 repeat I skipped on Thursday. I could hear him falling back and I simply couldn't believe it. I gave it the maximum with about 400 to go, and with a 90 degree turn at the 13 mile mark I glanced and saw I had it. I crossed the line at 1:12:49, with a 5:03 last mile.

This really was a great day for me, and I want to thank everyone for all the kind comments after the race. It's pretty neat to post your time for a race and wake up the next morning to see so many "good jobs" and the like after the post.

I'm confident that training with the Lydiard method made today possible, and for those following similar training or considering it, I'm here to tell you the results are amazing and quantifiable. If you do the work, your running will never be the same. After stagnating racing times, since I've been running the Lydiard way I've set bests in the 5K by 9 seconds, the 10K by over a minute, the 10 mile by 1:34, and the 1/2 marathon by 2:36. So thanks again Arthur Lydiard, Nobby, Mark, Glenn and all who have helped me on my quest to be the best runner I can, I feel I am on my way.

Training: Sunday, 17 miles, including the 1/2 marathon, warm-up (too short), and cool-down)
Today: 10 miles, 1:16:06, 7:37 pace. Very easy on tender legs and some new arch-blisters
Total for the week: 87 miles in seven sessions

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Stay tuned...

There's a race report on tap for tomorrow, but if anyone is interested I ran 1:12:48 in the Tucson half-marathon this morning, which was good enough for 4th place and a 2 minute, 36 second personal best! I'm pretty tired for now and I'm trying to spend the rest of the day with the family after abandoning them all morning, but I'm sure I'll go on and on about the race tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good weekend. Here's the race site, though I don't think any results will be up for awhile. Congrats also to some friends who had great races; Lucas, Matt, Scott, and Tia, great job today!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

...Heal Thyself

Well, that was a waste of $40 (or $55 if my insurance denies the claim). The sport's doc was really more of a chiropractor, and even though I specifically asked the receptionist if the doctor could make and place a metatarsal pad (to which she said yes and yes), he couldn't. He did videotape me running, and pointed out why I might have developed a neuroma (he agreed that this was the ailment) by noting I strike more mid-foot with my right (newly afflicted) foot, while I crash harder on my heel with the left, and that I push off outside of midline with my right. He did give me some exercises to strengthen the abductor on that side (to fix the push-off issue) and pushed around in my pelvic area when I asked his advice on whether or not I have a sports hernia or something like a stress fracture (he thinks sports hernia). We then argued some about me going to more minimal footwear (I was pumping him for as much advice as I could get in my hour since he could do nothing to help me this weekend, thus I felt a bit cheated). We pretty much left it with him admonishing me for not stretching or strength-training, and saying that I would probably be in the wheelchair division of the local 8K run'n'roll if I stayed on my current path. Nice guy, but I won't be going back.

I took my off-the-shelf metatarsal pad and tried to place it, but it's simply too big and aggressive. I cut it to mirror the shape of the one on my left, shaved it with scissors and razor blades, but still no good. Finally, I took an older pad from my left insole, flipped it over, and used liquid nails to secure it to the right insole to mirror the placement of the one on my left foot. Even though it's technically upside-down, I was able to get the edges adhered pretty well so it has a pretty gradual transition. I tried it this morning and aside from a little numbness in my toes, things seemed fine.

Here's the plan-start the race with the retro-fitted wrong pad and hope for the best. If I start having problems, stop and remove the pad and continue. If I still have problems, stop, chew a hole in my insole where the neuroma is and hope that helps. I'm hoping it doesn't come to this. Wish me luck tomorrow, and have a great weekend.

I want to leave this entry on a positive note: Finn, our 5-month-old boy with the cranial band (helmet) for plagiocephaly has officially "graduated" from physical therapy. He is on track and developing normally in an age-appropriate way, and we are very thankful for all the kind thoughts and wishes our friends, family, and my extended blog-family have extended to us.

Training: 6 miles, 43:43, 7:17 pace. Did a few striders to test the neuroma, feels pretty good. 1/2 marathon tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

You Must Really Want It

Running is made in our minds. We runners know we must run. This is understood. No other reasons are needed, nor when others ask, "Why?" are we ever able to answer directly or satisfactorily. When you are full of running it is a craving, and the feeling can put you in pursuit of the most improbable of quests. Is is that expuisite feeling that no matter what, nothing can stop you. It is born out of purpose and grows into dedication. -Ron Daws, "Running Your Best"

The title of my post is from the heading on page 8 of Ron's book. I shared this quote with Marathon Thomas the other day, but I thought of it today as I was stopped at the Bashas' supermarket 2 miles from home, stuffing some folded up cocktail napkins into the spot under my insole where I need some "lift" to take the pressure off what I think is a case of Morton's neuroma in my right foot. I ran the last two miles fine, after I had started getting some discomfort at 4 miles in. I did 8x100 strides on dirt today, and the pain was non-existent until I started the uphill loop that brings me back home.

I'm seeing a Sports PT today who is highly regarded by my local Running Shop, so hopefully he will come to same conclusion I have, place the pad correctly, and get me on with my running pain free. I'll let you know how it goes.

Either way, I'll be on the line at the half marathon on Sunday, and I will do my best. And while I'm full of running, I won't sacrifice my marathon in 6 weeks time by causing myself injury this week, so I will be cautious. I'll let you know how the appointment goes.

Training: 8 miles, 55:49, 6:59 pace, pain in right foot but legs feel great. Ran a little faster than I wanted to.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Morton and me

Morton's neuroma has bugged me since my first marathon in 2000, when I stopped on the side of the road at mile 18 to "unbunch" my sock from between my left big-toe and the second toe, which was causing the inside edges of both toes to go numb. When I sat down and pulled off my shoe, I found that the sock was fine. Then I noticed how tough it is to start running again at mile 18 in a marathon after sitting down. Won't be doing that again. Anyway, the numbness eventually abated after the race and I didn't think much of it.

The numbness would rear its head occasionally when I was bike racing, but I attributed it to my foot "falling asleep" after being clipped in the pedals for too long. The numbness finally turned into pain at about mile 20 of my attempt at the 2003 P.F. Chang's Phoenix rock'n'roll marathon, and though it didn't cause my bonk there, it certainly made it all the more unpleasant.

After the race I finally visited a podiatrist who quickly diagnosed the problem, added a metatarsal "dome" or pad to my shoe, and the pain almost immediately left. It would take a few months for the numbness to dissipate, and although it did for the most part I still occasionally get some numbness between the toes during long runs, but no pain. Apparently this type of neuroma is often diagnosed for women who wear high-heeled shoes, which tend to squeeze the forefoot too tightly. Cycling shoes did this to me daily, and it wasn't much later that I stopped bicycle racing. I figured this would be the end of it.

Unfortunately, the increased mileage, speedwork, and perhaps the marathon pace work and racing I've been doing this year is bringing out the same affliction in my other foot. This time the numbness has been sporadic and low-grade, so much so that I haven't mentioned it in the blog. Today I felt a bit of pain in the forefoot though, and I'm trying desperately to get in to see the podiatrist and get a pad in place for the other foot before the race.

9:05a.m. and I just found out my podiatrist is out of town until Monday. Hmm, time to stop blogging and figure out what the hell it is I'm going to do about this. With two easy days ahead I probably won't have any problems with the foot for the race, but is is a very downhill course so I'm not sure. Now I'm off to try to find another podiatrist to get this done, wish me luck.
Between the adductor/groin/cough thing and this new malady, things are crazy enough that I believe a good race is on the horizon for Sunday. It's just the way things go for me, bad and good in close succession.

Training, 14 miles, 1:40:56, 7:12 pace. Took it easy (2 miles less than normal) with the race (half-marathon)coming up Sunday