Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Marvin the Compassionate


Went to the podiatrist yesterday to deal with the pain around the neuroma, and things started out badly when I was informed that the referral from my primary care doctor (or bumbling intern as I remember) had expired, which meant I was going to be billed the full amount for my appointment instead of the usual co-pay. I could have spent an hour on the phone there to get around it, most of it in voice-prompt-auto-response hell, but I decided to forego it and just pay the bill at the end.

My podiatrist is named Marvin, and we go back at least a year and a half now. On the surface he's what you would expect; a cranky and cantakerous man who has chosen a career that inevitably involves dealing with old, damaged feet, usually attached to ailing diabetics or the nursing home set. But he leads a double life. While I was at least 20 years junior to everyone else in the waiting room, when I was led back to a different examination room than usual I found myself surrounded by countless University of Arizona sports team posters. Cross-country, track, volleyball, basketball, the list goes on, all signed by the athletes this grumpy fellow has helped over the years.

We've hit it off since my first visit, where I complimented his wife's paintings, which decorate much of the practice. I could tell who taught her by the style of artwork and the framing, and her mentor happened to be someone the art gallery I work for represents. When we get tired of talking about my smelly foot our conversations can drift aside to art and then back again.

After going over the problem we decided to go the conservative route, which involves building up the metatarsal pad a little more in my racing shoe. He added to it with a different color, so I could strip it off if it bothered me. Any big movement to the left or right could produce a bigger problem race day, which wouldn't be good. He believes that lower mileage, plus ibuprofin and ice if necessary should allow the swelling around the nerve bundle to recede, which should mean little to no pain on race day, but probably some numbness.

Now it's time for him to have some fun with me. This fellow is into orthotics and motion control shoes for those who need them, and approves of my usual 13 ounce Brooks Adrenaline training boats. "So, Michael", he says as he starts to examine the flimsy Asics DS trainer I've decided to race with, twisting and contorting the shoe with relative ease, then bending it at the midsole and holding it with one hand to prove a point, "why have you chosen to use these shoes for a 26 mile race?" "Don't make me say it", I beg. "Michael, this is my office and I'm entitled to ask you these things to effectively treat you". I start to stammer, "I know, I know, the weight I save doesn't make any difference, think of the increased pounding your body will take over that long a distance, etcetera etcetera". He starts to smile a little. I go on, "But lifting three extra ounces, 180 times a minute, over 155 minutes if I'm lucky, that adds up." He gives me the "that's really your answer?" look for a moment, then graciously lets me off the hook. "That's all I wanted to know".

I exit his office and return to the front desk, readying myself to fork out the going rate for Johnny-off-the-street-no-insurance. "Dr. D says there's no charge today".

In his own way this guy roots for me, even as he admonishes me for the potential damage I'm doing to my feet and the rest of my body. As I'm driving home I realize that my family has been doing the same thing, and that supporting someone and worrying that they may go too far aren't mutually exclusive. A guy shouldn't have to learn this from a podiatrist, but I can be a bit thick sometimes.

"There are those who can run and there are those who cannot", he mentioned to me once, referring to the complex biomechanical struggle many face in this sport. "I think I'm probably somewhere in that gray twilight in-between" was my response.

I ran 8 miles today in the race shoes, easy, but with two miles at marathon pace. This is Lydiard's last scheduled time trial before the race, and it's also part of Pete Pfitzinger's last week in his schedules. I ran the two miles at six minute pace, but didn't pay too much attention to the numbers as I tried to use the time to dial in what race pace feels like. Truth be told, it felt a little fast, but on race day it will hopefully be fine, along with the foot.

Training: 8 miles, 56:48, 7:06 pace, with 2 miles at 6 minute pace.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Intervention

"Making a commitment to run comes down to how badly you want to explore your limits. It means honestly confronting your excuses. It means making time to train. Unless you go all out for something, you may conclude your life without actually having lived it. It doestn't have to be running, but it should be a quest for excellence, and it need be for only that period of your life that it takes to fully explore it. That's how you find out what you are made of. That's how you find out who you are. To live your life your way, to reach for the goals you have set for yourself, to be the you that you want to be, that is success." -Ron Daws, "Running your Best"

Why is the taper so damn evil? Why do I find myself with a sore forefoot and toe, forcing an emergency trip to the podiatrist with hopes of him providing enough damage control with regard to my neuromas and metatarsal pads to enable me to run the race I've trained 18 weeks for without my foot hurting so badly by the end that I either have to drop out or suffer some other injury from compensating for it? Why would I write such a long sentence? Why, within a week's time, do I hear from my brother, my mother, and my wife that I may be training hard enough to actually do myself long-term physical damage?

I believe in what Daws says. I'm also guilty of the single-mindedness and pig-headedness that seems to go along with it. I believe that striving for excellence in one of life's many avenues makes it easier to persue it down others. There is so much pain and suffering in racing, and it's only amplified during the marathon. But there is a finish line, I know I will reach it, and that makes it possible. This inevitably spills over into the other "endurance events" of my life, be it sick kids, night feedings, art shows, or whatever life throws at me. I know I have the strength to get through it, and that the "finish line" will eventually appear. I'm still convinced that because of this running makes me a better person, and it most certainly makes me happier and more fulfilled.

I thought my family was on board with me, but apparently that's not completely the case. In addition to dealing with what feels like a bruised or nerve-inflamed toe/forefoot marathon week, I get to figure out how to further minimize the footprint my running leaves. This is where I deal with the single-mindedness and pig-headedness that develops when I spend two hours a day away from my family running, not to mention the time I spend thinking about it. It's easy to pay words like "balance" lip service, now comes the test.

I ran 16 miles with Lucas on Sunday, and even though the effort was easy my forefoot/toe pain returned soon after the run. Our family headed up to Phoenix to spend the rest of the weekend with my parents, and I convinced myself to take a real day off from running yesterday in hopes of it hastening my recovery. This morning I felt a little better, and I decided to run 6 easy in my racing shoes, hoping that the worn insole/metatarsal pad combo in my trainers was the culprit. I have an appointment at 1:45 today which will hopefully help, though time is of the essence.

Pay Duncan a visit and congratulate him on a 6th place finish at the Vermont City Marathon. He put his fitness to the test in true Daws style.

Training: Today, 6 miles, 41:55, 6:59 pace
Yesterday: off
Sunday: 16 miles, 1:59:33, 7:28 pace
Miles for the week: 75 in 8 sessions

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tempo

Met up with Lucas this morning to do his workout of 20 minutes at tempo pace. It's been getting hot early, so a 6am start is about as late as either of us wants to get out on the road. After two miles of warm up and some half-hearted strides we tackled my usual "time trial" route, which is slightly uphill on the way out and the opposite on the way back. We settled in fairly quickly, though I had a little trouble dialing in the pace, as we were running about 5:48 pace, only 10 seconds or so slower than what I'm planning for the marathon. We averaged 5:50 for the first ten minutes, then turned around and averaged 5:40 on the downhill back for a cumulative 5:45 pace. This is probably a little slower than ideal, but as I sit here and type the legs feel good and the foot pain from yesterday has definitely decreased so I'm happy. We ended up running about 3.5 miles during the 20 minutes of effort, so after jogging up to Sabino Canyon and back we ended up with 8 miles even.

I'm at the part of the taper where I'm thinking about the future. Since it's really too late to improve things for this time around, I guess it's natural to look ahead to what's in store for the summer and fall in terms of running. Also, all the things I've been too much of a pansy to tackle during the taper (serious amounts of yardwork, ladder climbing, painting and other homeowner duties) are starting to weigh heavily. I'd like to just be able to enjoy the moment, and to be able to feel my body coming around and soaking up the work I've done up to this point, but I'm afraid I'm just not wired that way. Often during a run I can tap into just enjoying the "now", but soon after it's back to looking ahead.

Speaking of the future, after the long run tomorrow I think our family will be heading up to Phoenix to visit my parents for Sunday and Monday, so I might not be able to bore you again until then. Enjoy the weekend.

Training: 8 miles, 56:23, 7:03 pace, with 20 minutes (3.5 miles) at 5:45 pace

Friday, May 26, 2006

Taper Schedule

I'm having a hard time getting the miles to add up the way I want them to this week. With the marathon at the end of next week, I wanted to pull back the mileage to 70 or so for this week. Unfortunately, when I added up my original plan I came up with 84. This seems pretty high, especially since I've been averaging a little over 90 for this build. I started cutting the 10 milers to 8 and the 8 milers to six. Still no good, I was still looking at 80 or so.

This morning I woke with a bit of pain in my left forefoot, just in front of where I have a metatarsal pad attached to my insole to help with a neuroma. Unfortunately, the toe that's affected is a "claw-toe" to start with. Let's back up. I have messed up feet. I figure the slight pain in this case is due to the combination of running more up on my forefoot during the 5K Sunday followed by the faster 600's and 400's yesterday. I'm hoping with a little ibuprofin I'll be fine tomorrow. What's a taper without getting over some aches and pains?

This little "niggle" was enough when coupled with the fact that I need to start more aggressively dropping mileage for me to cut tody from the original 10 down to a very easy 4 mile run with Haiden in the jogging stroller. I guess I can't be too careful now, and Haiden enjoyed getting out early. She ended up picking a donut instead of a muffin, though she spent about half an hour just licking off the frosting and sprinkles instead of actually eating it. This disgusting display cured me of any temptation to share it with her.

Back to the miles. By going short and easy today, and by trying to keep tomorrow's tempo run to 8 miles total (20 minutes of effort), I think I can keep this week at 75 or under, even with 14-16 miles on Sunday. I'm hoping it's the right thing to do.

Training: 4 miles easy with Haiden in the jogging stroller

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Look Sharp

End of the road for the hard, anaerobic stuff. After 6 hot miles last evening with Dragons Jason and Lucas at a moderate pace, today called for my last real track interval workout, or sharpener, before the marathon next Sunday.

The 4:15 wake up call found me a bit fuzzy, and the legs were not feeling at all good when I met Lucas at the track an hour later. After about two easy miles up and down a hill we were ready to go. His original plan called for 400's, but I managed to talk him into 600's instead. With a little longer interval I tend to run a little more evenly, and 400's for me seem to turn into miniature races. We settled on 1:30 recoveries, as both of us were feeling a little tired. We hoped to run 8 or so at 5 minute pace, but nothing was set in stone.

The first repeat felt a little slow, and it was at 1:56 (1:52-3 was goal pace). Neither of us were feeling very good at this point, but number two went down in 1:52. I actually started coming around here, and the third repeat at 1:53 felt very relaxed. The next three left me scratching my head, with times of 1:50, 1:50, and 1:49. I just don't run this fast. By now Lucas had switched to 400's, and I had started feeling a little fatigued at the end of the 5th repeat and for half of the 6th. Rather than forcing things and risking breaking down, I switched to 400's for the last two repeats. 70 and 69 followed. This was nuts, as I never get under 73. Something good has happened to the legs. Yes, I ran 400 less than planned by cutting the last two intervals short, but it was nice to stop on a good note, knowing I might have had one more in me. Another trip up and down the hill and I was home just after Haiden woke up.

It's time to start saving up now. I've noticed a nice progression in how the legs and body have felt over the past month. It started with the 10K almost three weeks ago, where the running felt tough but I improved more than a minute from the year prior, and continued through the 5K where I felt much better about my performance. The workout today seemed to take me another step up, and I really think I need to "put the lid on the speed", as Nobby would say. A planned 10 miles on the Phoneline trail tomorrow is turning into 6 easy miles instead, which will lead into 20 minutes of tempo (probably with Lucas) on Saturday. An easy, and slightly shorter long run of 2 hours or a little under is on tap for Sunday.

The goal, of course, is to keep coming up in fitness, and peaking on the starting line of the marathon. It's a tough needle to thread.

Training: 7 miles, 6x600 with 1:30 rest in 1:56, 1:52, 1:53, 1:50, 1:50, 1:49, and 2x400 at 70 and 69

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In the Pocket

Figuring out marathon pace can be difficult. When I made my first attempt at the distance back in 2000, I made the mistake of working backwards from a goal time I felt was reasonable. It helped that it was a nice round number, namely 3 hours. This worked out well, except for the part towards the end of the race where I ended up adding about 12 minutes on to that three hours.

Race equivalency tables, found on good sites like mcmillanrunning.com and the Purdy scale are also of value, but unless your other personal bests are comparable to one another (mine are and aren't), it's hard to know which race result to use. The course a personal best was set on can also complicate things. As early as 2003 I had a half marathon best of 1:15:25, which would suggest a 2:40 marathon was easily in the cards, even though I couldn't manage that time until this January. Unfortunately, my time for the half marathon was run on a course that dropped 1000 feet, which negates it from any equivalency table.

After running six marathons I think I've started to tap into how my body feels at marathon pace. The heart rate goes up at first, then levels off, I feel some pressure in the legs and the inclination to lean just a little forward, which keeps me from running like I'm sitting in a bucket. Arthur Lydiard's longer, marathon pace time trials have also helped. Last time around I seemed to settle into a 6:01-6:02 pace on these, while for this build the pace has held steady at 5:58. I've done 14, 15, and 16 mile efforts at this pace during the past two months, so I'm figuring this will be where I'll try too keep my effort during the race.

I tested the pace again this morning by running the last two miles of an 8 mile run at "marathon effort". The pace ended up at 5:57, though the route was a little downhill. While I could feel myself moving along at a good clip, I still felt controlled, and being able to lock in to this pace fairly quickly is hopefully a good sign.

Back in my bicycle racing days, and even further back during my triathlon days, I would call this pace "riding in the pocket". Not fast enough to blow up, but still moving right along.

Training: 8 miles, 55:34, 6:54 pace, with 2 miles at 5:57 pace

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Race is up the Road


I stole this photo from this guy, who offers an informed and humorous inside account of the Dragons in action at the Tucson 5000 on Sunday. I'm the tall guy in white, in 9th or so. I told you I was off the back of the second pack.

Tucson Wildlife


Hmmm, this could end badly

The kids took it easy on us and slept past six, which set the tone for a nice recovery run. I brought along music again, and took my new 8 mile route at a fairly relaxed pace. The wildlife was out in force around Sabino Canyon, I even did a double take and stopped running to watch a mother duck walk across the road with seven baby ducklings trailing behind en masse. This was a very strange sight, as I was more than a half mile west of the canyon and quite a distance from any water source. Ducks crossing a hot asphalt road lined by saguaro and prickly pear cacti is something you don't see every day. Once in the canyon, a young deer crossed right in front of me, which is a little more routine up where I run.

The abdominals and calf muscles feel good again, and the run today felt fairly effortless. I'm taking it as a sign that I'm recovering from the race, and I'm planning a fairly easy speed workout tomorrow. Nobby emailed me again with some last minute advice, telling me to keep the true speed workouts short, and to make sure I fully recover from each effort and session. This seems wise, as last time I kept "racing" time trials right up until the race, which probably broke me down a bit. Lydiard training during the last few weeks is like balancing on the knife-edge of fitness. Do just enough fast stuff, mixed with just enough longer, slow stuff to stay on top without tipping over. At this point the real work is done. All the ingredients are in the pie, I just need to bake it the right amount to get the good stuff bubbling up to the top at the right time.

Now when's lunch again?

Training: 8 miles, 56:58, 7:07 pace

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rest and Recovery

First of all, my thanks to everyone who wished me well before and left comments after my race yesterday. I'm pooped today, and I'm in the unique situation where my wife is out at an extended playdate with our daughter, and my son just went down for his morning nap. What's more, I have one two hours of TIVO'd track and cross-country meets cued up on the TV. My sincere hope is to turn it on and fall asleep during the first 10 minutes while the house is quiet.

I woke at 3:45 this morning to get in a long run and get home by 6:50 so the girls could go out, which meant 18 miles of slow torture. The abdominals and the calf muscles are tight and sore from racing, and probably worse than they would have been if I'd either done a longer cool down or gotten out for a shake-out run in the evening. A beer and some tacos nullified the latter, and since I was watching our daughter after the race and didn't have a jogging stroller the former was ruled out too.

I'm starting the taper tired, and today certainly didn't help, but hopefully I'll come around. That's it for now, I'm off to fluff the pillow on the couch and settle in. It's nice having Monday off.

Training: 18 miles, 2:11:49, 7:19 pace
Total miles for last week: 72 measly miles in 8 sessions

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why is Everyone Else so Damn Fast?

16:07 only gets a brother 8th place and second in his age group. I'm not complaining, in fact it's incredibly motivating for me to run out of my head and still have the "real" race ahead of me on the road. Dragons Dan and Jason got 3rd and 4th I think. Here's Jason's view from the front. Results are here.

Oh, you're back. In short, I'm in a great mood. Kiera and the kids came down to the park to watch the race, though Haiden really wanted to go on the swings instead of watching me finish. I got to the race early and put in a slow, two mile warm up, running the last mile of this familiar course once in each direction and getting in a few strides to get the blood moving. The course for the Tucson 5000 is pretty much a big oval around Reid Park, with the first and last miles slightly downhill and the second mile slightly uphill. Mark challenged me to run watchless, but I did bring one along. I got my splits but never looked down to see them and had no idea of my time until I crossed the finish line.

Mile 1 was crazy-fast, with the leaders hitting 4:48 (and me behind in 5:05). All I know is that I was slipping off the back of the second pack though my heart was in my throat and I was certain I couldn't go any faster without imploding. I tried to keep the last mile of my 3x1 mile repeats from Thursday in my mind, hoping to run the same 5:15 or so, or at least to feel that way. It didn't feel that way. Still, I pressed on, as runners ahead of me (probably 12 at this point) started catching on fire and dropping behind me. We were on the slightly uphill mile now, the point of no return. I just tried to hold things together and keep my breathing from getting too out of control. By now the back of my throat was burning like it used to when I ran the mile my one year of track in high school, and I was starting to doubt my resolve. The leaders were still in sight but were slowly gaining distance on me, but the guys between them and me were still dangling about 20 yards ahead.

Thought the second mile would never come to an end, but of course it finally did (in 5:16) and I knew at this point I could bring things home at least at the speed I was holding. When we made the last big turn onto Country Club avenue (a little irony in the name here if you've ever seen the neighborhood bordering this street to the west), I started to zero in on the two runners ahead of me. The legs were starting to shout at me, but I remembered the advice I gave someone else racing this weekend. At the crux, when all you want to do is slow down, try speeding up first. I started by trying to increase my stride, and they started getting closer. I made the junction with about 600 to go and got past them. Unfortunately, I brought along a little company, as a runner who wasn't even on my radar countered my move on the two by passing all three of us with about 200 to go. I tried to accelerate and get on his heels but I was at the max. One last turn and across the line, with a third mile of 5:11.

Last year I ran this in 16:58, two weeks before bombing a marathon, A 40 second improvement and a 30 second PR is a nice feeling, and also a great relief. I'm sharpening up.

After the race Kiera left with Finn, and I hung out with Haiden for the awards and a long session on the swing set. By then it was getting hot, so we had a nice breakfast together before heading off to an indoor play area at the mall. While hanging out at the mall is somewhat painful, it is an air-conditioned way for Haiden to blow off some steam.

All in all a great day and a nice way to start my weekend. Hope you all enjoy the rest of yours.

Racing: 6 miles, 2 mile warm up, 5K race, 1 mile cool-down

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ain't Nuthin' but a Muffin

Six miles with Haiden in the jogging stroller this morning. Everyone slept past six for a change, so I'm well-rested. The legs feel good, and without really trying we kept the pace under 7:30. Haiden got her muffin, though since I was short on time she had to eat it at home.

Tomorrow is the Tucson 5000, which should be very tough effort for me. My race plan is fairly simple, go out fast and don't let up. Speed up when I feel like I'm dying at the end. The rest should take care of itself. There's a rumor floating around that Jen Toomey, who is training in Flagstaff (a few hours north) under the tutelage of Jack Daniels will be at the race. She was the women's indoor champ for the 1500 in 2004 and 2005, and has a 1500 PR of 4:06:24. Considering the women's race was won in 17:56 last year it would be cool if she showed up to stir things up a bit.

After the race tomorrow I'll be two weeks out from the marathon in San Diego. The trip is definitely looking up as Eric, my favorite blogger to link to, will be adopting me for the weekend. He and his family will be on vacation at the same time in lovely San Diego, and he has promised to be my chaperone, driver and food-taster. It will be nice to have a surrogate family, as I'm kind of a wimp when I'm away from my own brood. I also found out that Jeff, another Tucson runner I've known for years but don't see much anymore is also doing the race and has the same itinerary as me. We'll be sharing a hotel room just a mile from the start.

I hope everyone has a good weekend, I'm looking forward to a few days off myself after working 13 days straight.

Training: 6 miles, 7:28 pace, with Haiden in the jog-stroller

Friday, May 19, 2006

No Watch

Got out to run a little late this morning, and once I was on the street I realized my Garmin was dead. It took me so long to get out the door that I didn't feel like going back in and grabbing my watch, so I ran with both wrists naked for a change. I've figured out a nice 8 mile stretch that avoids the main roads almost completely in favor of trails and neighborhoods, which I traced today in a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines. I even brought along the iPod shuffle, which for some reason isn't shuffling. Thus all the songs I listened to were from the "B's", starting with some Revolver, Rubber Soul, White Album and Sgt. Pepper's from the Beatles, followed by Ben Folds and finally Bill Janovitz (the Buffalo Tom guy). Yes, I'm a pop guy.

The legs feel good after yesterday's workout, and I'm doing my best to keep them that way until the race on Sunday. I'm planning on another easy 6 or 8 tomorrow, which will mean some pretty mild mileage for the week, but at three weeks out and a 22 miler in the bank from Tuesday I'm not too worried about it.

I did get a nice email from Nobby Hashizume yesterday which brightened my spirits. He let me know that the Lydiard Foundation will officially launch on May 27 with an event at the Boulder High School in Colorado. Alan Culpepper, Peter Snell and Ron Dixon will be there. Tickets are $20 and are available at a number of Boulder running stores.

Training: 8 miles

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Frankie Say Relax

I met up with the Running Shop guys last night after work for 6 warm miles. Thankfully we had a few sprinkles during the day, so temperatures weren't close to 100 like they've been most afternoons in Tucson lately. I was a little uncomfortable the whole run, though everyone else looked easy, which worried me. I just hung on to the back of the small group, enjoying the company but not happy that the run felt tough. We clocked about 41:35 for 10K ish, so while we weren't flying we were definitely under 7 minute pace.

I went to bed tired and with sore legs, so I wasn't thrilled when the alarm went off at 4:15 this morning for my appointed rounds with Lucas at the Sabino High track. 3x1 mile was the plan, but while his coaches wanted him to stay at 5:30 pace I was hoping to run a little faster.

During the three mile warm-up I still didn't have it, but figured I would still give it a go and run the first one right at 5:30. While we were joking during the first 400 about how the pace felt much tougher than 10K pace, I suddenly started feeling better. After hitting 5:30 on the first we decided on just one minute rest, and soon we set off on number two. At about 200 in I opened it up a bit and hit the mile in 5:19, still feeling nice and relaxed. When the minute was up and we started the third repeat, with me aiming at 5:17 or so, thinking this would be close to race pace. I still didn't tie up at all, even with the short rest intervals, and ended up at 5:15. We cooled down for two miles and called it a day.

"Cripes, man. What does it take to get you excited?" Eric jokingly left this comment yesterday, and he has a point. I've been nervous about my build-up, and while the 5K this weekend is barely a rest stop on the road to the marathon next month, I want to do well. If my last Lydiard method build taught me anything, it's that hitting the times is secondary to how you feel during the workout. I'm starting to think this is why Lydiard's schedules don't rely on pace charts and VO2 max tables, or even set intervals. I've been guilty of being a slave to the watch at times when I should have been focusing more on effort alone, even during the longer time trials. While the marathon pace workouts were all great on paper, I really felt pretty rough during many of those miles, which leaves me apprehensive about holding that pace for the entire race.

Today's workout was the opposite. While I went in feeling bad, I came out of these intervals feeling great. Maybe it was the slower pace or maybe it was starting with a 5:30 mile, but for whatever reason I left the workout excited. Even if the 5K isn't a record-breaker for me, I felt the body responding well to the training today, which to me is more important than how many seconds each interval took.

As I was in the bathroom getting ready for work, still feeling good about the workout, our three-year-old daughter came in and pulled herself up to sit on a ledge next to the bathtub. As her legs dangled, she looked into the mirrorred closet doors and just smiled and squinted at her reflection with the love and total lack of self-conciousness that comes naturally to some children. I thought again about what Eric said, and I took a second to actually congratulate myself on the string of training I've been able to put together over the past 14 weeks. I stood there for a second with Haiden, looking into the mirror for a moment and hoping we were feeling the exact same thing.

Training: Today, 8 miles, with 3 x 1 mile repeats in 5:30, 5:19, 5:15 with one minute rest
Yesterday pm., 6 miles with the Running Shop guys in 41:35

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Summer Already?

Yeah, it's hot here. Time to make 4am the standard wake up call. The body feels pretty good considering yesterday's workout, and since the feet held up in the lighter Asics DS trainers for 22 miles I think I'll be using them for the marathon. So far they've worked well for a 5K, a 10K, my speed workouts, and two marathon pace workouts so they're as broken in as they're going to get.

While I should have woken up early, I slept in until the kids woke up at 5:30, then spent the morning fertilizing the grass and finishing up some rabbit fencing before heading out for 8 easy miles. It was already in the mid-70's by the time I finished at 7:30 or so, which means summer is here. The legs were a little stiff and I was sweating profusely, and the allergies are in full swing as everything goes to seed, so it was nice to finish up and get home.

Work is still pretty busy, so the posts will probably be pretty short until after the race this weekend. Tomorrow will be another speed workout, probably 3 x 1 mile or something similar with Lucas. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough by then to put in a good effort, which in turn should set me up for a fast 5K this Sunday. I've got to get that PR down to save myself from more ridicule from my fellow bloggers.

Training: 8 miles, 1:00:33, 7:34 pace

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Be For Real

The happy Mr. Finn

Woke up at 4am to 65 degrees, about 10 degrees higher than usual for this time of year. While I wasn't too excited about it, it's probably a good simulation for possible similarly sultry San Diego in early June. Superlative.

The plan called for 22 miles, with 4 miles of warm-up followed by at least 16 at marathon pace (more if I could muster the energy). I was out on the river path at about 5:15 and was amazed to see my warm-up miles ticking off at 7:03 pace. As soon as I turned around at about 2.5 miles the reason was clear, I'd been sailing along with the benefit of a hot tailwind that was now blowing right in my face. I finshed the warm-up at about the same pace, but it was now more difficult to hold. At 4 miles in I started the watch and accelerated into the wind. I burned quite a bit of fuel from the get-go, and could only grind the pace down to 6:02-6:03. After two workouts at 5:58 this was disheartening, but I know the wind was making things difficult. At this point I passed Angie, who was running along with a friend and looking to be having much more fun than I was. At 5 miles I finally got to turn around, and immediately I tried to turn the screw a bit to get things back on track.

Things started to improve with the wind at my back, but the pace wasn't coming down as fast as I would have liked and the effort felt a little tougher than usual. I took a gel and a swig of gatorade off the hood of my car at 10 miles into the effort (14 total). Where the first 5 went by in 30:10 or so, the second 5 took me 29:06. By now the legs were feeling it, and I had to force myself to go out another 4 miles before turning around to make the run an even 22. I watched the Garmin slowly drop from 6:01 to 6:00 to 5:59 over the next 3 miles, and finally I was able to turn around. This left the last 2 miles of pace effort back into the headwind, and while I did manage to get the average pace down to 5:58, I really felt the effort. At 16 miles of effort and 20 miles into the run I pulled the plug and coasted the last two miles back to the car.

When I totalled up the damage it came to about 1:35:25 of effort, or 16 miles at 5:58 pace. With the 4 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down I ended up with an even 22.

This was different from my other two pace runs, since the end of the effort took me all the way out to 20 miles instead of 16 or 17. Viva la difference. The heat, the wind, and the plain absurdity of running this hard for this long is taking a toll today. I'm not thirsty but I'm forcing myself to drink, not hungry but I know I need to eat. Cranky is the word. If I can just make it through the workday things will surely improve.

While I don't feel like I just finished the marathon, I'm still not convinced I could have held it together for another hour. Probably more on this later, have a good day.

Training: 22 miles, 2:17:41, 6:15 pace, with 16 miles at 5:58 pace

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Final Push

Three weeks left until the marathon, and my last week before tapering. Last week ended with 90 miles in seven runs, with two quality workouts of 15 miles of marathon pace and one track workout. I would have preferred another day of fast stuff, but this week will be particularly grueling so backing off a little beforehand will hopefully help in the long run. Here's how last week looked-

M-21 miles very slow and easy after the 10K the day before
Tu-10 miles easy, bracing for Thursday
W-10 miles easy, bracing for Thursday
Th-17 miles, with 15 at 5:58 pace
F-10 miles, hilly run up Phoneline trail
Sa-10 miles, 2 sets of 1200, 800, 400, 2x200 at 5K goal pace(ish)
Su-12 miles moderate

This week features my two final tests in the run-up to the marathon. Tomorrow is the final marathon time trial, 22 miles (at least) with 16 (at least) miles of marathon pace. I was originally planning on stretching this run out to a full marathon, but I'm worried that will tax me too much. Truth be told, if I had been able to manage more miles consistently (like I had planned), a full marathon run tomorrow would still be in the cards, but I'm trying to respect the limits of my fitness. The run tomorrow should be very tough, but not so hard that it breaks me for the week. It's the constant battle of "coming up" versus "coming down". I'd rather leave a little on the table tomorrow with hopes of having it in reserve in three weeks, but I need the toughness, mentally and physically, that a run like this brings. Balance, balance, blah blah blah.

Another reason to not flog myself too badly tomorrow is the 5K state championship on Sunday. I ran this in the low 17's last year in my run-up to the same marathon (that I subsequently bombed). Looking at the results shows more than a few people who finished ahead of me with bulls-eyes on their backs. I'm hoping for a sharpening workout on the track Thurday, followed by two easy days before the race. I'm hoping for a good week and a good result.

Training: Today, 8 miles easy, 58:39, 7:19 pace
Yesterday, 12 miles, 1:26:25, 7:12 pace
Miles for the week: 90 in 7 sessions

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I Should be Working...

so this will be quick. Met Lucas this morning at the wonderful Sabino high school track. After 3.5 miles of warm up we did the workout described yesterday, two ladders of 1200 (2 min rest), 800 (1 min), 400 (30 sec) 2x200 (15 sec) at 5:20 pace, then the same thing again at 5:15 pace. We scratched our heads over what the rest interval should be between sets, and we settled on a paltry 15 seconds, which made the second 1200 a little tough. Overall it was a good workout, fast but not too fast. Three miles of cool-down and we were done.

When we parked outside the school we saw a huge owl walking around the parking lot, which seemed strange. When we finished the warm up it was lying on its side, not far from our cars. Not a good sign. When we finished our cool-down, we thought it was gone, but then I saw its head poking out from behind one of my front tires. We figured he was probably hiding from predators at this point, since he didn't look too good. I put the car in neutral (without starting it) and pulled it back to give him some room, and he stood up, clicked his beak, and ruffled up his feathers, probably trying to scare us off. Finally, we said our good-byes to him and headed off. Lucas remembers seeing him on a telephone pole near the school a few days earlier, though I doubt either of us will see him again.

Art show today, check it out at www.settlerswest.com.

Training: 10 miles with 2 ladders of 1200, 800, 400, 2x200.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nice Place for a Run

Lucas and I ran from my house and did Phoneline Trail again in Sabino Canyon. We met up with Jason (the Dragon) and Randy, president of the running club I belong to, and ran at a steady but not lung-crushing pace. I thought I would feel much worse than I do after yesterday's marathon pace workout, which is a good sign that things are starting to come together. The craggy, hilly trail doesn't seem to beat me up as much as it did earlier in the year, and I feel like I'm running with a little higher leg lift, which helps me get over some of the football sized rocks on the route.

Tomorrow's plan takes me to the track for some crazy ladder workout with Lucas. I'll be his training hack for this one, as all I really need to do is run 3 miles or so pretty fast. Here is the workout. Lucas has a chip from his workout coaches implanted behind one ear so that they can make sure we keep the rest intervals as prescribed. Rest in parentheses

1200 (2min), 800 (60sec), 400 (30sec), 200 (15sec), 200 (15sec) - 1st set at 5:20 pace

1200 (2min), 800 (60sec), 400 (30sec), 200 (15sec), 200 (15sec) - 2nd set at 5:15 pace

Lydiard would probably laugh at a workout like this, or at least have some questions about it. "Why 15 seconds rest after the 200's, why not 20?" From what I've read he hated to prescribe set distances or recoveries for anaerobic workouts. He's written that only the athlete knows exactly when he or she has had enough. It could be 8x400 or it could be 20. This might give the athlete a little too much credit though. Lydiard was often working with athletes accustomed to pushing themselves to the absolute limit, where some of us need the kick in the pants a very structured workout offers.

Can I run faster than the workout's assigned paces? I would think so, but it will be good to ease off a little bit before Tuesday's final marathon pace time trial. Instead of learning to suffer and run uncomfortably at a really fast pace, tomorrow is about learning to get comfortable and run smooth at a fast pace. It should be fun.

Training: 10 miles, including 9 miles of Phoneline Trail at Sabino Canyon, 1:24:00 or so. Nice and hilly

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I Yield the Floor

When I started this blog last fall I searched for other running blogs that mentioned Arthur Lydiard. Downeast Runner Andrew Seeley was the first one I found. Turns out I was lucky. After commenting on one of his posts that mentioned Lydiard, Andrew was kind enough to plug my blog in a post with the title above. Since then we have done a bit of back and forth about Lydiard's training, and I've always come away from our correspondence impressed with the focus and detail of Andrew's analysis of Lydiard's methods and intentions.

Andrew's post today pits his analytical mind against his 18 week preparation for the Holyoke marathon he completed last weekend. He does not go easy on himself, though he does find a good deal of humor in his situation. For anyone who has looked in the mirror after a race and said, "What the hell went wrong?"(myself included), Andrew has the answer-look long and hard in the mirror again. The trail of breadcrumbs starts at the training log, continues past missed runs and the training deals we make with ourselves, through injury, malaise or unavoidable commitments, and ends at the finishing tape.

This post has me cracking open my log, finding the leaks, and figuring out how best to patch them in the time I have remaining before the marathon June 4. Most of us know what we're supposed to do, but it can be humbling to take a look and realize that how we say we train differs from what the logbook says back.

What do you Mean, 11 More?

Now that I'm back home I don't feel like I just ran a marathon, but towards the end of my workout today the legs started to feel like I was coming up on mile 20. The problem was, I was only on mile 15. Today's workout was 20-25K of marathon pace, the second such workout for me during this final phase of my training for the June 4 marathon.

After a mile warm-up I was planning on running 5 miles at 6:10, 5 miles at 6:00, and 5 miles at 5:50. Ahh plans, nothing like having roadmap to throw out the window. After the warm-up I started down the river trail, and soon found myself around 6:08 pace after about a mile. So far, so good. Then, it seemed that every time I looked down at the watch I was going a little faster. The first 5 ticked off in 30:13 or so, which is between 6:02 and 6:03 pace. The second five miles felt a bit quicker, and when I hit the timer at the end of it I was at 29:34, so close to 5:55 pace. I started to feel my neuroma going numb at this point, probably due to the lighter Asics DS trainers I was wearing. I liked being able to pick my feet up easier, but I did take a little more of a beating. By 12 miles I was starting to get a little tired, but I figured I could finish things off without killing myself. By 13 miles, when I was thinking I should pick it up, all I could do was maintain the same speed. The legs were feeling thick, I was sweating, and I felt much more like I was finishing a half-marathon rather than finishing 15 miles at marathon pace. Another 29:34, at least I'm consistent. 5:58 pace for 15. The time made me happy, but truth be told I'm worried about how tough the last 3 miles felt. Maybe it's residual fatigue from the race Sunday, maybe I'm still tired from 21 miles on Monday.

A little doubt crept in today, but I'll see how things continue to go. These workouts are supposed to be tough, and maybe I'm just forgetting how tough the marathon is. For now I'll press on and hope I'm still coming up.

Training: 17 miles, 1:45:37, 6:13 pace, including 15 miles at 5:58 pace

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chin Down!

Here are some rather unflattering race pics from Sunday. The good news is, I don't seem to heel-strike as much with my right leg. The bad news is, I really do look that tired and that old. I'm also still doing that "differently enabled" thing where I drop my right hand and inadvertently wave at people behind me with each step. Perhaps some duct tape will help.

Looks aside, I felt much better today. Lucas and I met up for another easy 10, and all the residual soreness from the race seemingly evaporated by the last mile. I'm ready for another marathon pace test tomorrow, though I'm still contemplating exactly how to go about the 20-25K of effort. I figure I'll either just try to run the whole thing at what I feel to be marathon pace (right around 6 minutes per mile), or I can do the run as a progression, with 1/3 above pace, 1/3 at pace, and 1/3 below. I do like the idea of running the last few miles at faster than predicted pace, just to teach the legs to keep working as I start to fatigue.

To make things more interesting, I'm going to use my Asics DS trainers for this run instead of the Brooks Adrenalines I usually use. With the Brooks, I'm carrying close to 3 more ounces per shoe when I throw in the weight of the sweat-soaked spenco insoles. One thing that really hurts towards the end of the marathon is bringing up my knees. With 3 ounces less to lift, multiplied by 180 steps per minute, multiplied by 155 minutes or so, the weight savings could help. The flipside, of course, is the additional pounding the legs take with less cushioning in the soles of the lighter shoes, as well as the added stress to the calf and achilles from a lower heel height. Eric is currently singing the blues about a calf issue that might have been exacerbated by this phenomenon. Actually, it probably wasn't, but saying it did gave me the opportunity to use "phenomenon" and "exacerbated" in the same sentence.

This is the second of three longer marathon time trials Arthur Lydiard advocates in his training (some schedules have 4 but I'm doing a shorter build this time). The goals of these workouts, as I see them, are-

Pace judgement and awareness: Getting used to performing efficiently at your predicted goal pace, and making sure that the pace chosen is reasonable.

Final fine-tuning of the aerobic system: This dress rehearsal of sorts puts the body through a difficult workout, which will hopefully bring about a final boost to the aerobic system.

Mental toughness and confidence: Putting myself through the paces three or four times like this en route to the marathon puts my mind out on the race course. The feelings of all the marathons I've done come back to me, and coming out the other side of workouts like this really changes me and lets me know I'm as ready as I will be. Sounds hokey but it's true.

The danger of course is peaking on these runs instead of the marathon. Being able to do these runs and still keep coming up is a challenge, and I'm hoping that spending more time recovering before and after each will help in that regard. I need to be able to keep something in the tank. Last time I think I peaked a bit early, and a combination of a tough half marathon followed by 18 miles of a 22 miler at 6:02 pace a week later did me in the weeks leading up to the marathon. Hopefully I can structure both tomorrow's and next week's pace efforts to keep the same thing from happening.

Training: 10 miles, 7:20 pace

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Move It

Tired this morning, a little delayed onset muscle soreness from the race Sunday, no doubt intensified by yesterday's 21 miles of pounding. I'm not feeling fast, and truth be told I wasn't too excited about heading out today. I ignored the 4:15 alarm and slept until the kids woke up in the early to mid-5's.

Ten miles on the dirt and pavement, nice and slow to hopefully work out the soreness. I was quite ready to call it at 6, then again at 8, but as usual I mucked through all 10. This is supposed to be my last tough week of training, and I'm trying to recover enough for a 20-25K marathon pace time trial on either Wednesday or Thursday, plus a speed workout either Saturday or Sunday. If I feel this lethargic tomorrow the MP stuff will definitely wait until Thursday.

That's it for today, some quicken to bank errors and a small fender bender (no injuries) are causing me a fair amount of stress, so I'll sign off. For some interesting post-marathon posts look to Andrew and Marc, who both toughed out the Holyoke marathon last weekend. Nice work boys.

Training: 10 miles, 1:14:20, 7:26 pace. Dragging a bit

Monday, May 08, 2006

Burning Fat (or What's that Smell?)

Depleted is the word for the day. 21 miles this morning on tired legs from yesterday's 13 miles, which included a tough 10K. With Kiera out of town for half of last week I didn't get in a long run, so I had to make up for it today. I had no desire (or ability) to run fast, so the goal was just to put the time on my feet in.

Duncan wrote about a "depletion"-style run recently, though in his case he fasted beforehand in an effort to simulate the last part of the marathon. I find that my body, like many others, can go close to 2 hours on my regular diet before I feel that shift from burning primarily carbohydrate to burning increased amounts of fat when my glycogen levels get low. While I'm not up to Duncan's challenge of fasting, a tough race the day before brought me into this run a bit depleted from the get-go. My rules were simple-no gels, no gatorade, 20 miles or more.

In the past, including my first go-around with Lydiard-based training, I've brought along a gel or two to make the last half of these runs more pleasant. After talking with Nobby, as well as reading more about glycogen depletion in books, this article on Greg McMillan's site, and this article reprinted on marathonguide from the Marathon and Beyond magazine, I've stopped.

I need to get used to the uncomfortable shift in energy systems and this is one way to do it. One benefit of long runs without caloric aid is that the body learns. Lets face it, what body wants to suffer that hollow, bonking feeling? My hope is that these kinds of runs teach my body to use stored glycogen more slowly by tapping into fat stores earlier. This, combined with carbo-loading to increase available glycogen stores before the race and taking carbohydrates and sugars on board during the race (gels and sportsdrink) will hopefully get me to the finish line with fuel in the tank.

Today was tough from about an hour and 45 minutes on, but I just kept trudging along at 7:18 pace. Hopefully next time it will be a little easier.

Training: 21 miles, 2:33:23, 7:18 pace
Last week: 72 measly miles in 9 sessions

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Good not Great

I'll get the drama over with quickly, as it's Sunday and no one should have time to read blogs (shouldn't you be mowing the lawn or something?). 34:38, 4th place. No PR, no trophy, just a $20 gift certificate to the wrong running store.

Before the race I discussed with my friend Lucas what I was going to do. I was going to stay with the fast guys, and try not to let them get away like they did in the 5K a few weeks ago. Lucas and I usually key off each other, so he asked how fast I would be willing to go out to stay close to the leaders. "5:20 or so, any faster would be suicide." The first mile is net uphill, the second mile is even more uphill. Any faster would surely lead to a meltdown later on.

Lucas and I got there in plenty of time for a two mile warm-up, and we headed to the line. I felt relaxed and ready with the recent dip in mileage and I was set to go. With the sound of the gun we were off, and the pecking order was established in very short order. Fast little guy I don't know, then Jason, then Dan (both Dragons teammates who finished 2 and 3 at the cross country race in front of me), me and Lucas. Try as I might to get on Dan's shoulder, the three in front started inching away and I just couldn't grab on. Given the uphill and the 6 miles ahead of us, it was all I could do to try and keep the gap manageable and hope that either I would feel better or they would feel worse. While I never looked at the watch this race (in an effort to not get freaked out by the splits) I did get my mile times. Mile 1 was 5:23 and we continued uphill into the most difficult mile of the race. Mystery man was gapping Jason at this point, and Jason was gapping Dan. I was still about 20 yards behind Dan at this point, and Lucas was either on my shoulder or tucked in behind. The rest of the race felt miles behind us.

Mile 2 was a slow grind at the same tough effort, but ended with a 5:51 (same as Dan's split in front of me so I was still holding). Mile 3 was the free-for-all, with half a mile of fast downhill, a very abrupt 180 degree turnaround (with a misplaced water station right where you accelerate out), then 1/2 mile back up the hill. Climbing the hill I started edging closer to Dan in third when I crossed mile 3 in 5:36, but I immediately started paying for it. When I passed a chalk-marked 5K marker the legs really started to ache, payment for the acceleration on the hill as well as the first fast mile came due. I kept on trucking along through mile 4 but managed a 5:50 as Dan started to slip away. Two miles of rolling downhill with a few short inclines remained, and while I could still see third place I just couldn't gain, even though mile 5 and 6 passed in 5:21 and 5:28. One lap on the track to suffer through and it was over.

You won't know if you don't go. I didn't play it safe, I went out harder than I could sustain, and I'd do it exactly the same way if given a second chance. I pushed enough for the body to push back, so hopefully I gave the body some good stimulus for the marathon. I tried to beat the people that eventually beat me. It was a fun race.

No PR, but I ran the race more than 90 seconds faster than last year, which is encouraging. Oh yes, mystery man won, Jason got 2nd and Dan got 3rd. I'm not knocking on the door yet, but at least I'm close enough to see the door.

Kiera and the kids are home, so off to enjoy the weekend. Hope you do the same.

Training: 13 miles, 2 warm-up, 10K in 34:38, 5 cool-down
Results will be here, probably later today.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Test

I'm training for the San Diego Marathon on June 4, which I also ran last year in a disappointing 2:50, 3 minutes slower than my PR at the time. My training had been a little more spotty than usual, as we moved into a different house last April, and we were busy preparing for the birth of our second child, who arrived a few weeks after the race. My last "predictor" race before the marathon was the Cinco de Mayo 10K, which is coming around again tomorrow. I ran that race in 36:09, almost 20 seconds slower than the year before. I brushed it off at the time, thinking maybe it was just an off day, when in fact it was a harbinger of things to come one month later. When I finished the San Diego marathon at a crawl, utterly spent, I vowed to find a better way to train. A month later is when I started following Arthur Lydiard's training methods.

So what will happen tomorrow? My plan is simple, run gutsy and run faster than last year. I've been laying the bricks for 13 weeks now, and this race will leave me one month out from the marathon. It's a chance for me to pull my eyes up from the map and see just where the hell I am. I want to drive home tomorrow feeling I honestly gave it all I had.

I should be relatively fresh with only 59 miles in my legs so far this week, though the legs were a little heavy after yesterday's 14 miles. We'll see how it goes.

Training: 6 miles with Scott, 7:27 pace

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stuck in the Middle

Since I haven't done a long run since last Thursday's marathon pace workout, I decided to get out for an easy 14 today. While I am racing Sunday and I would like to be sharp and ready, it does take a few longer runs a week to keep my endurance base up. If I was training for 10K's I'm sure I would have just run 8 easy or so, but since I'm focusing on the marathon on June 4 I do have to compromise and skip doing a full taper for the race.

I brought along music today to keep the run mellow, and spent quite a bit of time on dirt paths and neighborhoods in and around Sabino Canyon. The goal was to keep the pace at 7:15 or slower, which was hard to do at first. I was feeling great for about 10 miles and my average pace kept dropping down faster than I wanted to go. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I started getting a bit tired about then, and the legs started complaining about the 11 miles with 5x1000 yesterday morning followed by the 4 miles yesterday evening. I finally made it in, and the Garmin had me back at 7:17 pace when it conked out about a half mile from home with a dead battery.

I'm thinkng about another 4 this evening, but the main reason would be to raise my pathetic mileage total for the week to a less embarassing level. Mileage vanity is not a real reason though, so I'll probably just rest instead and get 6 easy miles in tomorrow in preparation for the 10K. Kiera's trip earlier in the week really put a dent in my daily mileage, so Tuesday and Wednesday's 12 mile todal will haunt me for awhile, but what's done is done. The race should be very competitive this year, and hopefully I can find a good group to tag along with and run fast. It's a difficult, out and back hilly course with a fast finish, and the effort should help sharpen me a bit for the marathon one month out. While my 5K PR is by far my worst, I have recently been informed my 10K PR is also "soft", so I'll have to do my best to change that. Thanks Jason.

On a family note, Kiera and I went to our first parent-teacher conference at Haiden's pre-school. I was really nervous for some reason (probably from my days as a student), but of course things are going well and Haiden really seems to be enjoying herself while keeping the tormenting of her teachers and fellow students to a minimum.

Training: Today, 14 miles, 7:17 pace
Yesterday pm., 4 miles in 30 minutes

Thursday, May 04, 2006

How Not to do 1000's


The wife is back, which means I get to screw up my own workouts instead of bringing the kids along to help. 1000's were the order of the day, and after about 3 1/2 miles of warm up I took to the Catalina Foothills high school track. The surface isn't as heavenly as the Sabino Track I ran on last week with Lucas, and without his even pacing to help me today I mucked things up pretty good.

I was shooting for 5 x 1000 in 3:14 or faster, with a very easy 400 recovery. I ended up going 3:10, 3:07 (ouch), 3:08, 3:09, 3:09. The recovery started at 2 minutes and gradually stretched out to about 2:30. I was really cooked and wanted to stop after the 4th one, so I took a full 3 minutes before the last repeat.

I wish I could have started with 3:10 or so and worked down, but it just didn't work out that way. The legs are feeling a little clumsy after pushing the double stroller for 4 days, but it was mostly my lungs complaining from the third repeat on. Still, doing these at the same pace or faster than I was doing the 800's last week makes me feel like I'm still coming along.

I need to take H to school so that's it for now. I have enjoyed the range of comments on stroller running, keep them coming. Nothing like the threat of child abuse to bring folks out of the woodwork. Just to be clear, when I let go of the stroller to run alongside the kids (for a few seconds at a time), they're not rolling down a mountain or anything. We're maybe hitting 5:40 or so down a gentle grade. As long as Haiden gets a muffin at the end she's happy.

Training: 11 miles, including 5 x 1000 with 2-3 minutes jogging rest, 3:10, 3:07, 3:08, 3:09, 3:09

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Everything Old is New Again

Suffered through a tough 5:30pm run with the kids yesterday. It was still hot and very windy, and I would have certainly called it at 4 miles if not for promising Haiden a treat at the grocery store (which requires an addditional 2 miles). My sugar-fiend daughter/coach egged me on, "NO! We CAN'T turn around!!" Sweet chocolate dedication, thanks coach.

This morning was much better, with a victory lap of sorts as we did our last of 4 daily runs as a threesome (me pushing both kids as Kiera is still out of town). I worked on some strides on the downhills, where I could let the stroller loose and run fast behind it. These shenanigans led to a 7:20 cumulative pace for the six miles, which is the fastest I've managed to push both of them. Sasha can manage 5:45 pace for a 10K pushing the stroller, but from what I've seen of his blog most of his races drop at least 1000 feet for a 10 mile (and up to 2500 feet for the marathon) so I'll have to do some converting to see how fast he really goes.

In the past I've usually just pushed our 3-year-old daughter Haiden, but having 10-month-old Finn along has been really fun. Even at 3, Haiden is already "too cool" for most of my juvenile running antics, like wheelies and running alongside the stroller to "race", speeding ahead then falling behind. Finn finds these things hysterical. It's nice having a second chance, and I'm really glad we decided to have two kids. That being said, it will REALLY be nice to have Kiera home late tonight.

Training: Today, 6 miles, 44 minutes, 7:20 pace
Yesterday, 6 miles, 45ish minutes, hot and difficult

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just Wait Until I Can See

...where I'm going, that is. My brother came over around 8pm to catch up on TIVO TV he missed while his cable was out so I could do a speed session sans stroller. He also brought over a plate of corned beef and cabbage, a plate of homemade mac and cheese, a slice of pizza and a slice of chocolate cake. I won't be losing any weight while Kiera is gone.

I didn't want to detain my brother any longer than necessary, so I decided on a quick 6 miles. 2 miles warm-up, 5K time trial over the same course as last week, and 1 mile cool-down. The moon was up and it didn't seem too dark, so I went without the headlamp, though I soon regretted it.

I jumped into the workout determined to have it go better than the 17:05 I clocked last week. The legs did feel tired though, probably from pushing the double stroller. I notice I have to "dig in" a little more while pushing the kids, which helps me to drive more forward with each step rather than bouncing up, which is probably a good thing. The best way to describe it is it feels like I'm always running uphill. Still, while running this workout alone I couldn't really get back to a longer stride. Not being able to see the ground with all the oncoming headlights probably didn't help with this. I focused on effort and breathing, trying to get a feel for the 7/8 effort Lydiard talks about on these. The first half mile is uphill, so what I usually do is start out feeling like I'm about to die. After I make a turn at half a mile I keep the same speed, but the effort eases a little as the road evens out. From here I try to keep the same feeling throughout, heart in my throat, but slightly lower than my adam's apple so I still have a little to give before falling dead on the roadside. I stole a glance at the Garmin at the turnaround, 5:28 pace. I kept up the pressure and just kept staring at the stoplight in the distance which marks my last turn and the slightly downhill last half mile. No sprinting, and I finish with a 16:51, or 5:26 pace.

These are tough workouts, much harder for me than intervals since there is no rest or recovery, just one tough effort. The upside to these is learning to keep running while the lactate is building, which is good for preparing for shorter races. The more I practice this, the tougher I should be when the chips are down. The downside is I can't run as fast as I can during intervals, and raw speed is definitely a limiting factor. Hopefully by getting in an interval session after Kiera gets back from the airport tomorrow night or on Thursday morning I can keep working on both elements weekly. It's always a fine line, this fine-tuning stuff, and the question that lingers in the back of my mind is "am I getting it right?".

After all, I'm turning what Lydiard separated into two phases, each 4 weeks or more, into one combined phase of 4 weeks. Lydiard is all about the perfect balance of aerobic and anaerobic work, and I'm going more from the gut this time to try and get to that point. I think I was a little too tired and stale coming into the last marathon after 8 weeks of fast stuff, so hopefully condensing it and trying to get more out of it at the same time will do the trick. It's hard to know for sure until it's over.

Haiden slept in too late this morning for me to take the kids for a run before taking her to school, so I'll either have to go out with Finn in the heat (probably not a good idea), or wait and take them for a quick spin after dinner when it starts to cool off.

Training: Yesterday pm., 6 miles, 38:30, 6:26 pace, with a 5K time trial in 16:51, or 5:26 pace

Monday, May 01, 2006

Time Crunch

I don't know how my wife does it. Trying to wrangle 2 kids all day is exhausting, especially when it involves getting both of them in the stroller for a run. Yesterday wiped me out, and today should be the same with the addition of taking Haiden to dance class. I can pretty much manage feeding, bathing, clothing, shuttling and entertaining the two of them if I ignore or forget certain things I like to do during the course of a day; things like eating, bathing and changing clothes.

Another 6 miles, 7:30 pace on the dot, another mufffin to go. Thanks for the encouraging comments on my Mr. Mom act, Wednesday night won't come soon enough!