Monday, April 30, 2007

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

I met Lucas part way through the run today, which meant I took the hilly path towards the Bear Canyon trailhead in Sabino Canyon. Today I left early, which meant I was lucky enough to run over the same big hill four times during the course of the run, twice with Lucas and twice without him.

I could feel a little fatigue from yesterday, which is strange since it wasn't all that tough of a run. With the temperatures rapidly rising around here, I do need to take more care to hydrate and to get out early (two things I didn't manage too well yesterday). I could feel a pretty good sweat after only 30 minutes today, and a check of the temperature revealed that the overnight low was only 65 degrees so it's no wonder.

It's easy to get spoiled running in mild winter temperatures, but now it's time to start paying the piper as summer is knocking on the door.

Training: 10 hilly miles, 1:09:59, 7:00 pace

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Amost Like Training

I've kind of been feeling things out this week as far as my upcoming marathon build goes. I've tried to keep the runs up to at least 10 miles, and I'm getting used to staying out for over 90 minutes a few times a week. It's almost like training.

Yesterday was all about recovering from Friday's hilly effort in Sabino Canyon, so I just took it easy for 10 miles and made a real effort to run slowly. This wasn't hard to do, as the legs were beat. Today I assembled my long-run-all-star group and we took to the roads around my neighborhood for a fairly sedate effort. One 8.5 mile loop had us at 6:55 pace or so, after which a few runners called it good and headed inside for coffee, scones and muffins. For the five of us remaining, another 8 mile loop got us close to the time we were shooting for. Dan, the only runner among us actually training for a marathon needed to keep at it for another 35 minutes or so. I had planned on joining him for the duration after the others stopped, but the combination of the wind, the heat, and the general feeling of being spent altered my plan. I remembered how last week's 20 miler the day after the race had clobbered me for three days afterwards, and I didn't want to repeat the experience with a 10K coming up in a week.

I'm either getting smart or getting soft. The jury is out on this one.

Training: Today, 16.5 miles, 1:51:26, 6:46 pace
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:11:08, 7:06 pace

Friday, April 27, 2007

Who You Callin' "Jogger"?

Racing down from the top of Sabino Canyon's paved road brought me up behind two cyclists; A guide from the exclusive Canyon Ranch resort and his guest. The road has a 15 mph speed limit, so these gentlemen were riding the brakes on the downhill portions, then twiddling away in their smallest gears to manage the few uphill sections, where they sometimes weaved back and forth across the pavement to avoid falling down. I would pad by them on the "ups" and they would pass me on the downs, and after about a mile I was growing a bit tired of it all. Finally the older guest spoke up. "Go ahead jogger, have a nice morning." He was so polite I didn't even mind the moniker, which is a word that makes my wife visibly cringe. She's a runner, dammit, not a jogger.



This was the profile for the 10 miles today, and contrary to my expectations the run went very well. The concert kept me out until after 1 this morning, and when the kids awoke in the 5's I had trouble getting out of bed. By the time I got out on the roads it was already warming up, and while I was determined to make it up to the top of the road at Sabino I had no expectations about what sort of pace I could manage.

The last bit of soreness seemed to have exited the legs, and I was surprised to find myself running under 7 minute pace when I passed the visitor's center and started up the gradual climb. I'm trying to get more familiar with hills these days, in part because of a hilly 10K next weekend, but also because I'm seeing at least one hilly run per week in the upcoming marathon build.

For whatever reason, in my slap-happy sleep deprived state I found myself with a bit of fire in the belly. I hit the climbing road at a steady effort all the way up, digging in towards the end on the last half mile where the grade gets more severe. The legs cooperated and I hit the turnaround at 6:46 pace, which for me is moving along.

The downhill section found me in assisted marathon pace mode, and while the legs took a little bit of a beating it was nice to turn them over with some help from good ol' gravity. I kept the pressure on through the few climbs that popped up, then ran the last mile home as the legs began to fatigue a bit.

This run was much better than yesterday, and while my chin is resting on my desk from the lack of sleep, I feel I knocked out a good one.

Oh, for those of you who remember Crowded House (the concert I attended last night), you might enjoy Liam Finn's music. He opened the show with a solo performance, starting with the song that loads from the link. Great stuff.

Training: 10 miles, 1:04:01, 6:24 pace, w/5.3 miles uphill at 6:46, 4.7 miles downhill at 5:59

Thursday, April 26, 2007

That's Enough

For the first time this week I was happy to be done running when I reached the garage door. With cool temperatures and a lot on my mind, it's been a pleasure getting out on the roads this week, even if the legs have been a bit tender. This changed a bit today after about 8 miles, and I ended up calling the run at a little past 10 miles instead of sticking it out for 11 miles as planned.

My guess is that a faster than usual evening run with the guys from the shop last night had something to do with it, as we found ourselves on the good side of 7 minute pace for a change. Also, I have been a little guilty of chasing the paces down on both yesterday's and Tuesday's runs, so some payback was inevitable I suppose.

I'm off to a concert this evening for Crowded House, which certainly dates me, so that's it for now.

Training: 10.25 miles, 1:07:40, 6:36 pace, a bit fatigued towards the end

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

200's

Dragged the legs around the Slow Down Loop in reverse en route to the track for a bit of sharpening. Not much soreness to speak of, but I did feel a bit clunky while digging around the freshly paved oval at the junior high. I ended up putting in 10 repeats of 200 meters with 200 rests while a large pack of rabbits darted around on the infield. Eight of the ten accelerations took 35 seconds, while two took me a second longer.

Not much to report today, though I'm looking forward to an easy 10K this evening with the Running Shop gang.

Training: 9 miles, 58:50, 6:32 pace, w/10x200 (200 recovery). 8 at 35 seconds, 2 at 36.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Run Forever

A quick glance at the preliminary training plan for the Chicago Marathon penned by Mystery Coach reveals that I officially start training on May 7, which is the day after my next race. While I've emailed the good folks at the marathon, I've yet to hear back from them. I would like to thank everyone for their suggestions for getting into the sold-out race, I certainly appreciate you thinking of me. I tried going the "semi-elite" route, but lacking a 1:10 half or a 2:31 marathon during the past 12 months (or ever) doesn't do me any favors. I'm still holding out hope through some other channels, and I'll let you know what ends up happening. I decided not to go the charity route for my own personal reasons, but it's certainly a good idea for people inclined to persue it.

I headed out this morning with a touch of soreness in the legs. I'm not certain whether I should blame the 5K on Saturday or the 20 miles on Sunday for this, but my gut tells me it's probably about a 50-50 split. Still, it was a beautiful morning so I thought I would try to extend the run for as long as I felt comfortable. In the back of my mind was a conversation with Lucas on Sunday where he mentioned doing a strong run all the way to the end of the road in Sabino Canyon on Wednesday, so I wasn't too eager to really push the gas the day before.

While the legs never really stopped feeling heavy, they did turn over fairly well and I ended up getting in 14 miles. The pace kept dropping most of the way, with the exception of a few sections through gut-check alley where just maintaining was hard enough. I did feel ready to call it a day after 90 minutes, which was around where I felt the pinch a bit on Sunday's long run. One thing going back into conditioning will solve is the extra pull on my system I feel when at this point. I can vouch for the existence of the "nearly tireless state" that Arthur Lydiard wrote about. It just takes some work (and some time) to get there.

Training: 14 miles, 1:30:41, 6:29 pace

Monday, April 23, 2007

Strange

After about 4 easy miles this morning I noticed I was starting to work down the pace, even though I really wanted to focus on recovery. To combat this, and because I simply felt like it I suddenly veered off the roads in Sabino Canyon and took to some less-traveled trails. This involved much rock-hopping across streams and weaving through narrow single-track, and I stopped a few times to take in the views and listen to the quiet. It was a very different run for me, with no timetable and no urgency to get back to the house (it's my day off from work, Kiera's day off from running and Haiden's no-school day).

When I got back home there was a message on the machine. A quick call back to my mom revealed the news we all knew was coming. It had happened sometime while I was out in the canyon, less than an hour ago. When I told Kiera she mentioned that half-way through breakfast, just a little while earlier, our four-year-old daughter Haiden had looked up suddenly and asked, "Did someone just die?" She was probably thinking of Kiera's Grandad, who had passed about a year ago, since she had asked about him fairly recently. Still, this was very unlike her as it's probably only the second time she's mentioned death to either of us, and neither of us speak about death or dying in front of her.

While I'm not religious, or even very spiritual for that matter, I can't deny that something very strange happened this morning. I'm certainly sad about the news of my Grandmother passing, but given the circumstances it's also a great relief to the family and probably to her as well.

Training: 10 miles, roads and lots of trails, 1:11:01, 7:06 pace

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Every Week Eventually Ends

A nice day puts an end to a week I'll be happy to put to bed. This morning Lucas and I joined Dan for his long run, and strangely enough we felt good enough to put in a full 20 miles. It's been some time since I've stayed out for two hours or more, and to do so the day after a cross-country 5K gave me some pause. Still, sometimes it's nice to just get out there and run for a good long while. Here's how the week went down:

Mo: 10 miles at 6:40, felt good
Tu: 8 miles slow and easy with dead legs, abandoned 200's workout
W: 6 miles easy, dead legs, abandoned 200's workout after 2 repeats
W: 6.2 easy
Th: 5 easy w/10x100 accelerations/strides
Fr: Off (shudder)
Sa: 5K race in 17:05, 2 mile warm up and four steps of cool-down
Su: 20 miles
Total: 60 miles in 7 sessions

It was a strange week. I felt great on Monday, which was the day after the Race for the Cure 5K. In retrospect I probably ran too fast, since I felt lousy on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday I felt good again, then a planned zero on Friday led to a second place at the race on Saturday. The 20 miles today was a bit more than I had planned, but it was good for the psyche.

It's been a nice day with the kids here, I hope your weekend is as enjoyable as mine is turning out to be.

Training: 20 miles, 2:13:00, 6:40 pace, some good hills and good company

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Body and Soul

"Could(gasp)you(gasp)grab my keys for me?", I blather out. I'm gimping along in small circles now, pausing briefly to put hands on knees. "Try breathing first", Kiera says as she digs around in the jogging stroller for me.

A few feet beyond me the clock at the finish line I'd crossed a few seconds earlier ticks into the late 17's. I say good-bye to the kids and Kiera, who almost balks at a kiss before I turn and hurriedly head off towards my car. I toss the warm-ups into the passenger seat and put the old beach towel on my seat before sitting down and starting the engine. Checking the mirror reveals a copious amount of spit which has dried on my face and lips, and I'm made aware of just why Kiera had that deer in headlights look when I leaned in.

Behind me is a glorious spring morning, where cold showers and wind have given way to sunshine and mild temperatures. There's a playground, a beer garden, a potluck and lots of smiles and back-slapping. Kiera and I took two cars so she could stay behind and enjoy the celebration along with the kids. She ran a great race and I'm very happy for her.

As I push on the gas with my double-knotted race shoe I can hear the calf muscles complaining about the lack of a cool-down. Soon enough they are drowned out by an NPR Morning Edition segway into another story about the horrific events at Virginia Tech. When I start to sink into the seat and feel the weight press down on my shoulders I fight back and push the button that switches on the new Modest Mouse. "Well nothing ever went/Quite exactly as we planned/Our ideas held no water/But we used them like a damn"

This has been a bit of a rough week for me. I feel sheepish and small for even mentioning it, but it has permeated my thoughts enough so that I can't really move on with this blog without writing about it. Monday I got the news that my Grandmother had taken a bad fall, and that the injuries she accrued along with her advanced Alzheimer's meant that she had very little time left. When the Virginia Tech story reached my ears a bit later that day, followed by the news of the hundreds dead in Iraq after the latest round of car bombs soon after, I really started to withdraw. By the time I could bring myself to heed Lucas's warning that Chicago would soon close, I was already too late to get in. My runs this week were terrible, my patience has been non-existent, and I've found myself in a bit of a funk.

Yesterday morning my brother and I drove up to Phoenix to say goodbye to my Grandmother while we still could, and to spend time with my mother and her sister. There was a blue book we were referred to in the hospice about the separation of the spirt from the body, and much of what I talked about with my mom related to the broken body my grandmother had been living in over many difficult years thanks to alzheimers disease and how unfair it was that her spirit was stuck in it. It was a difficult day, and by the time we returned I couldn't wait to get both kids into my arms. I thought of the one uplifting quote I remembered from the endless stream of "news" about this week, where someone mentioned the importance of moving forward by telling the people around you how much you love them, and then creating new memories with these people. I know it's the same broken record of tried and true self-help refrains, but for some reason it reaches me this time.

Those thoughts were still with me this morning as the rain abated just before Kiera's race started. Haiden, Finn and I watched as she tackled the course in high style. When she finished we switched positions behind the stroller and I headed out for a short warm up before my 5K started. When we were called to the line I eyeballed the competition. A runner who had beaten me by a fair amount at a 10K in January was here, and so were Lucas and Shane. Within a minute of the start the sun punched through the clouds for the first time all day in dramatic fashion. In that instant I changed my strategy from staying close to the front and looking for opportunities to something a bit more suicidal. My body was far from broken and my spirit, while a bit battered, was growing stronger by the minute. I decided to take it from the gun and win the race.

I get off the line in a hurry and take the lead from the get-go, pushing myself hard up and over the false-flat of the fire road that we would travel over twice. I can hear breathing and footsteps behind- I can't tell how many, and even though my breathing is already pretty heavy I try to stay calm. A sharp left and a quick descent leads us into the first wash, where a runner finally comes up on my left. I study him and conclude that he's only temporary, but as he starts to fade my friend Shane zips by me with one of his patented surges. He knows how to get by in a hurry, and I can't get the legs moving fast enough to get right on his tail. He's able to work through the technical sections faster, and I find myself five steps back as we pass the first mile and hit the steepest climb. I know I'm matching him on the uphills, but he's putting the hurt on me through the turns and downhills. When we get into the second loop and I start to pull him back a little, but lose him again as he dances on top of the sand in the washes while I seem to sink with each step.

We hit the second mile marker and make the sharp right off the grass that takes us up the last steep climb. For the last time I make up a little ground, and when I crest behind him by 20 meters or so I'm acutely aware that my chances are running out. I try to dig in and accelerate but the legs are now feeling week. When I really press they almost buckle and I find myself lucky to tread water behind the leader. We cross into the last section of the course, which is all narrow trails with lots of technical turns and I cannot get any closer. One last sharp turn spits us out on a winding bike path, with far too many weaving turns to make up any ground. I'm pushing as hard as I can but Shane can taste the tape and the victory. Shane wins and I spill across the line a few seconds later at 17:04. I stumble a few steps and find Kiera and the kids. Hugs all around, then a look at the watch and realize that while I ran 27 seconds faster than last year, I have less than an hour to get to work.

I'm no less for finishing second, and I'm truly happy that a deserving friend earned a victory today. I certainly suffered out there, but at the same time I was able to let go of what seemed to be weighing me down over the past week while I pushed myself through the loops of the course. I loved it out there, I loved that I had my family with me, and even though I'm stuck at work for the time being I'm left with some new good memories with the people I love. I needed this today.

Racing: 5K in 17:05, 2nd place
Yesterday: big fat zero

Thursday, April 19, 2007

At Least I'll be Rested

I joined the gang from the Running Shop for the weekly evening run yesterday and felt much better than I did on my morning run. In fact, I actually felt like doing some strides or pick-ups off of the front of the group on the way back. This would have been far too obnoxious for the other runners, so instead I just contentedly jogged along.

The legs were feeling good again this morning, but instead of returning to the track I knocked out a series of ten by 100 meter strides on the roads and trails. For the last four I ran along a dirt fire road as I visualized getting off the line and down the wide dirt trail that starts the 5K cross-country race this Saturday. I felt I ran fairly strong last year at this race, and I'm looking forward to giving it another go.

Because of some unavoidable family circumstances I won't be able to get a run in tomorrow unless I wait until the evening, but I figure I will be better off taking a zero than running so close to the race. On the plus side I will be rested, though there's also the possibility that the time off will leave me feeling flat.

I'm quite excited about this race, as I can comfortably shake the "pace monkey" off of my back and simply race for place. The course is beautifully cruel with extended sections through sandy washes, up craggy dirt climbs, and around tight corners. Everyone I've spoken to hates this course, but I think it's a blast. When I'm on a difficult course like this I try and remember some of Colorado University coach Mark Wetmore's strategy as described in the Running with the Buffaloes book. While running on their home course in Boulder at altitude, he cautions his runners to run at a strong but measured pace up the climbs, then to accelerate and make up ground on the downhills or flats following the tough stretches. The idea is to avoid taking on huge amounts of oxygen debt at the wrong times by being cautious on the most taxing parts of the course, which should pay off by enabling a runner to make up ground while those around them are trying to recover after overextending themselves. In other words, I'll try not to scald the milk in the oatmeal.

Training: 5 measly miles, 34:05, 6:49 pace, w/10x100 strides/accelerations

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Don't Procrastinate

When you hear that a marathon is nearing its capacity, register immediately. If anyone out there has any ideas on how a 2:37 marathoner with aspirations for better can get into the now sold-out Chicago marathon, please let me know.

I tried again for the 200's today, but the legs still won't turn over for me. After two reps at 37 seconds I called it off, and while standing on the track afterwards I could feel my heart thumping. More recovery is needed. I jogged it home and called it a day after 6 miles at 6:49 pace.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Flip-Flop

This morning felt like I imagined I should have felt yesterday. In other words, I felt like I was recovering from two races over three days instead of the effortless run I took yesterday. I enjoyed being out there this morning, but the legs made it clear that I would be taking it easy.

My original plan was to check out the freshly paved track at the junior high by our house for a set of 200 accelerations, but as I ran a slow lap and admired the new surface I realized the legs just weren't ready for anything quick. So with a total of one lap covered on the track I headed up into Sabino Canyon to run along the pavement and dirt before looping through a few neighborhoods.

I'm realizing I can't expect to get any real fitness gains before the race on Saturday save for what I can muster from recovering well from this past weekend's racing. Probably the most difficult training concept for me to fully understand and believe in is tapering and the resulting supercompensation (just ask Mystery Coach). I say this because most of my best races of half marathon distance or shorter have come at the end of fairly high volume weeks, but no doubt there were other factors at work.

My mind is a bit occupied today so that's it for now.

Training: 8 miles, 55:50, 6:59 pace

Monday, April 16, 2007

What's Going on Here?

An easy 6-8 planned miles turned into 10 this morning, and for some unknown reason I felt fantastic. This is after a 5K on Friday night and another 5K yesterday, which is perplexing. I seem to be in pretty good shape for anything except a PR 5K.

The coach seems to be giving me a free pass for the next few weeks in expectation of the coming build for Chicago, which officially starts in May. Easy runs and sharpeners are the marching orders, though I'm still hoping to perform well for a cross country 5K this weekend, then a 10K on May 6 and a 5K on May 20 (they're all on the sidebar if you want links).

I will have raced about triple my usual amount this spring, with a total of seven 5K's, one 8K and two 10K's. While it's a bit of a drag that I have nary a PR to show for it, I have enjoyed getting the experience (and there's still a shot for one PR on May 20).

You can never give up.

Training: 10 miles, 1:06:37, 6:40 pace

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Same, but Better

The big news is that my friend and training buddy Lucas finally had his day with a big win at the Catalina State Park 5 mile trail run on Saturday. My wife Kiera also completed the race in style, and I couldn't be happier for both of them. Results are here.

As for me, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about 24 hours after the 5K and started thinking about whether or not I should use the comped entry Lucas offered me to run the Race for the Cure 5K on Sunday morning (the 5K was Friday night). I hadn't even thought of doing this race until now because of the timing and the cost, but a free entry and a score to settle at the distance made it tempting. The problem was that Kiera had a long run scheduled early, which meant the kids would have to tag along with me. In the end common sense lost out and I headed out with the kids to run the race. The rumor was that I would have a shot at the win, which is something I just couldn't pass up.

This race turns mid-town Tucson upside down as it tries in vain to handle the influx of cars and people. We parked about a mile away, in front of a friend's house, and as luck would have it they needed help unloading a gigantic air conditioner out of the bed of a pickup truck. Since I was running late already, this short deadlift session served as most of my warm up. Finally I jogged the kids in the double stroller along with a ridiculously large backpack full of snacks, clothes and diapers to the registration tent, then veered through the maze of expo booths where I finally found my pal Lucas (the big winner I mentioned above). A quick change into a singlet and race shoes transpired while I simultaneously gave him the best babysitting tricks I have, like "just keep giving them food" and "keep the little one strapped in the stroller or you'll never find him". I do have great friends. I make it to the start with two minutes to spare and no warm up short of the jog over, but I'm ready.

I see the sinewy Kenyan and the college singlets with toes on the start line, and it becomes apparent that victory will not be mine. Still, it looks like a fast field. When the gun sounds I'm immediately aware of the need for a proper warm up. Still, I struggle along and get the legs moving. I feel I'm a little further back than I would like, but soon enough runners start coming back to me. The Kenyan breaks well clear early, followed by a few Pima College singlets, my pal Shane and a few other runners. I have the watch on to take splits, but I've made a deal with myself not to look at it until the finish. Mile one finds me feeling better than Friday, though I feel like I'm moving slower (I am as I look back at the 5:18 now).

The second mile I start bringing a few more back to me. I pass one runner, then I pass Shane. Shane doesn't seem to like this and surges past me soon after. I keep the same pace and pick him off again, and this cycle repeats itself before I'm finally past him for good. I feel like I'm holding pace as I come to the two mile mark, and just as I hit the split button someone calls out "Right at 10:40!". This rattles me, as I'm immediately aware that I've been running 5:20's when I was hoping for 5:10's. Still, there's nothing to do at this point but push for the finish.

I gather myself and dig in as we turn onto 22nd street, and for while the legs are fighting me I can feel that they're turning over faster as two more runners come into view. I get by one, then another, but as we come into the final 800 one of them breaks by me and I can't answer. I'm at full bore now and I don't even look for the third mile mark. A hard turn into the parking lot and a weak sprint brings me to the line for 5th place in 16:23.

Yes, I ran even slower. Still, I enjoyed this race and I'm holding my head high. I went into it without concrete expectations or any pressure to speak of, and while I'm still a 16:20 5K runner, it's nice to know I can repeat this performance a day and a half apart. This was a big event, with a huge number of spectators and participants, and I was honestly grateful to find myself in the mix towards the front. Even three years ago I never would have imagined this, and it's something I should never take for granted.

The kids had fun; Haiden got to climb and descend a huge inflatable slide and Finn managed to eat his weight in apples, cheez-its and pretzels. Lucas proved himself as a baby sitter, and I got to celebrate my time by eating Domino's pizza at 8:15 in the morning.

From the race it was off to a windy softball field, where the kids and I watched along with my mom while my dad played softball (they're down from Phoenix for the day). We're home now, Kiera finished her long run, and we're all exhausted even though it isn't even 2pm. The slip'n'slide comes out after Finn's nap. This is my kind of weekend.

Results are here. This guy won it without breaking a sweat.

Training: Today, 1 mile warm up (with kids), 5K in 16:23 (5:18, 5:21, 5:43 (1.1))
Yesterday, 5 miles, 35:48, 7:12 pace

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Same, Just Worse

Cool temperatures, a tough wind, and a disappointing finishing time of 16:20 or so tonight. My friend Dan was kind enough to pace me throughout the race, but I just could not stay on his heels. He finished more than a minute faster and took a win last week at a track meet up in Phoenix, so he probably could have balanced his checkbook while keeping me on target pace. In the end he refused to break the tape first, so on the plaque at the high school my name will be at the top above his, even though I didn't deserve it. Many thanks for his help and his un-ending patience with this novice runner.

This was the first Southern Arizona Distance Classic, which was put on by Sabino High School. The 5K was open to the public and was placed in the middle of a high school meet to give the athletes a needed breather. The family came out to watch, and video and photographic evidence revealed a runner that just looked uncomfortable while running 77 and 78 second quarters. Again I slowed down noticably at the end of the second mile and on into the third mile, again my heart was in my throat, and again the legs just would not turn over easily.

I'd like to think that if it had been a competitive race I would have been able to stick with other runners if they were close to my goal pace, but I just don't know. As it was the race was a 5K time trial against a headwind along the back stretch, and I just couldn't make my goal. Dan ran evenly and on target, yet every time I tried to close in behind him I found myself over the edge and slowly drifting back behind pace.

This marks the end of my chances to get under 16 minutes on the track this spring. When I think about this race, the recent 8K and the previous 5K on the track I feel a bit depressed. Maybe I just can't dig deeply enough. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious the brain goes into marathon mode and shuts me down early. Maybe deep down I'm not as mentally tough as I thought I was.

Maybe it's just too late in the evening, but too soon after a race to think about this objectively.

Training: 3 miles easy in the morning, 5K w/ 3 miles of warm up and 2 miles of cool-down

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Mighty Wind

The temperature won't be in the 90's for the 5K tomorrow, which will certainly be an improvement over my last attempt on the track for 5K. However, I'm certainly hoping the 25-35 mph winds with 50 mph gusts that we're leaning against today in Tucson will subside in the next 24 hours.

Today I headed out for seven easy, slow miles, just to keep the legs in their usual pattern. I've gotten used to doing most of my runs as a steady progression, and when I started dipping under seven minute pace it took some concentration to keep from speeding things up more as I continued along.

I'm avoiding coming up with a concrete race plan, as I honestly have no idea of how many runners will be in the race or what their times are. I can't imagine it will be any more competitive than the last time, and I would say there is a very good chance that I will be running at least two miles of the race by myself. What I will say is that I will most likely try to run as evenly as possible, and I will not for one second pause behind anyone I come up behind (one of the mistakes I made last time).

Training: 7 miles, 48:39, 6:57 pace

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Rat Pack

I could barely keep the body on top of the legs today. Perhaps it was all the time spent in the car yesterday, but for whatever reason they were just ready to GO this morning. I ended up running a bit faster than planned, but as the pace kept coming down I remembered to ask myself a few different times if I was relaxed, and whether or not the effort felt at all taxing. Each time the answers were "yes" and "no" respectively, so I just kept at it through the regular Slow Down Loop.

So far temperatures are fairly mild, and while there has been some wind there's a good chance it will die down by Friday. I'll force myself to go slow during tomorrows 6-8 miles, then comes race day.

My wife Kiera has a surprise evening planned for Angie, so it's a dad versus kids night. I'm planning on taking them to Chuck E. Cheese, which will no doubt be a big hit.

Training: 8.25 miles, 53:16, 6:27 pace

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hell Freezes Over

I'm off to Phoenix for a little road trip for work so this is a short one. The coach gave me a simple workout of 5-6 laps of 100 sprints every 200. After cruising through a few neighborhoods I headed up to the rock-hard junior high track, where I can avoid crippling myself on the pavement peeking through lanes 1 and 2 if I stay clear of them. The sun was just starting to rise behind the Catalina mountains and I could barely see in front of me, but I could make out the construction tape rippling in the wind around the big oval. My god, they're repaving the monstrosity.

This meant a change of plans, and I remembered Mystery Coach's suggestion some time ago when I was complaining about this track. while doing 50/50's. He suggested pacing off 100 meters and putting a marker at each end and 25 meters in from each end. This left 50 to sprint in the middle, and 50 to jog (with a quick 180 degree turn) at the ends. I simplified this and hit the baseball field for straight 100 sprints between the dandelions and clover, counting steps and jogging back to the start. While it took more effort to push off strongly, the soft ground and irregular surface seemed to work the supporting muscles a bit and it ended up being a good workout. After twelve of these I headed off into Sabino Canyon for a few more miles before calling it a day. The legs definitely felt loaded up afterwards and a little heavy, but I probably wouldn't have noticed as much if I hadn't dragged them over so many hills afterwards.

Call me crazy, but I like having my legs feel a little heavy early in the week when I have a race scheduled. In the past I only seem to come around and feel fresh for a few days at a time, and I'd rather save it for as close to Friday as I can manage. If I feel good for too long I usually go out, run too hard and ruin it. It's like walking around with money in your pocket- you just end up spending it.

Training: 9.75 miles, 6:46 pace, w/12x100 sprints with 100 jogs in-between

Monday, April 09, 2007

Released


You can't beat a good Easter egg hunt.

It's 8:29pm and I'm watching a TIVO'd Simpsons with a piece of strawberry pie in my lap when it happens. The hand that's been weighing on my shoulder since Friday suddenly releases me. Maybe it was just putting my feet up, or maybe it was the pie. Regardless of the reasons for the timing of it all, it was a very real feeling, and I was thankful for it.

Finn's alarm beat mine this morning by three minutes when he woke at 4:42. While it took some time to make it out on the road, when I finally did I felt good almost immediately. A few 7 minute miles felt smooth and easy, and once again the feet felt light and seemed to be landing smoothly. I followed much of the same route as yesterday, but the run felt so much easier by comparison.

I finished today with a good amount of confidence that I'm still in pretty good shape. The 5K is going to be a challenge, but with decent weather I feel I can get in under 16.

Training: 12 miles, 1:16:09, 6:21 pace

A Man who Knows What it Means

I don't know this man, but I suggest you take a minute to read his story while it's still posted on our local newspaper's website.

I don't often ask much of the people who read this blog, but if you get the time and feel moved by his story I suggest you take a minute to email Jeff and give him some encouragement for the task he has ahead of him. I say this because I can honestly say my life has been enriched by the encouragement you have taken the time to give me over the past year and a half while I've been writing this blog. Again, his email is "charityrun29 AT yahoo DOT com".

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Tempt Fate?

I made the mistake of making a joke about "not planning on getting sick again" before the 5K coming up in response to a comment. I probably don't need to tell you what happened next. Kiera and I simultaneously got hit with something mean from the virus family on Friday. I won't go into the gory details, but neither of us was very interested in eating, or even remaining upright long enough to feed and put our kids down. Eventually we both went to sleep without dinner at about 7:30 and remained there until the kids woke us up on Saturday. I still couldn't eat come morning, and a run seemed out of the question. For a change of pace I actually listened to my stomach, achy joints and throbbing head and took a day off from running. By Saturday afternoon I was eating again, and I set the alarm for 4am in hopes of keeping our Sunday schedule of Mike's run/Easter egg hunt/Kiera's run all before temperatures climbed into the 80's.

I felt about 85% or so as I trudged down the street, with only a goal of running until I needed to be back home. I finally checked my pace at about 7 miles and saw 6:52 when I was expecting 6:45 or so, which meant I was a bit more tired than I realized. After nine miles I put in one mile around marathon pace just to see what it felt like. It could have been worse.

Kiera seems to be close to 100%, and I guess I'll be right there with her come tomorrow. I seem more susceptible to these bugs nowadays, and while I guess it's unavoidable it sure is damn annoying. What was shaping up to be a good week ended with a whimper:

Mo: 10 at 6:38
Mo: 4 easy with Finn in the stroller, 7:30's
Tu: 10 miles w/ 1 mile at 5:53, 5:02, 5:53, then 3/4 mile in 3:48, +4x400 (73-75)
We: 12 miles at 6:50
We: 6.2 easy
Th: 10 miles w/9 at 6:30 pace
Fr: 12 miles w/10 at 5:57 pace
Sa: Sick, off
Su: 10 at 6:43
Total: 74 miles in 9 sessions

The big 5K is Friday.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:07:16, 6:43 pace, w/last mile at 5:57
Yesterday, big zero

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The cheap shot

Mike sent me the article from Running Times by Jason Karp ("Miles to go Before I Sleep") and after reading it I have to say before making statements like this "I think Lydiard ruined more athletes than he helped." physiologist should at least take a few minutes to learn a few things about Arthur's system. Forty-two weeks of the year did NOT have the 100 mile a week label applied to them. Nor did Arthur coach a huge number of athletes,

"In New Zealand, I probably coached about 20 local lads. I never recruited anybody. They all came to me. Out of these 20, 12 represented New Zealand. When I went overseas, I started coaching coaches, not athletes."

So maybe the coaches misinterpreted his teaching but Arthur seemed to get his points across quite well to even children: Arthur's talk with kids , just go down to the comments section and you'll see what an inspiration and excellent teacher Arthur was.

If you need a much better discussion of mileage not many say it better than this one: Miles Make Champions

Both David Costill and Jason Karp have taken a step backward on who athletes should listen to in regard to their training.

Starting next week I'll post on Arthur's five points to realize if a runner is to be ultimately successful (as a hint to physiologist the 100 mile week is not among them)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Head Fake

For the second time in one week the coach gave me a workout with a "choose your own adventure" component. First it was the exhange run on Tuesday, where I got to choose whether I would run 4 x 1 mile sections or 4 x 3/4 mile sections. I kind of ended up splitting the difference that day by wimping out with one lap to go on the last effort. Today I had 8 to 10 miles planned at 6 minute pace, depending again on how things felt. When I read the workout last evening it sounded pretty tough, especially since it's followed by a bit more work at that pace on Saturday. I've gotten used to carving out 7 miles at 6:00-6:04 pace as the first day of my back to back weekend workouts, but for some reason carrying on longer had me a little worried, especially since I had probably pressed the gas a bit too hard on Thursday's "easy" run.

Morning arrived early with Finn growling sometime in the late-4's. He's been sick (hey, it's been awhile since the last time), so he's been off his game. Kiera got up with him first but he was crabby enough to get everyone up before too long. I drank my coffee and realized I was quickly getting sucked into the morning vortex that delays workouts, when suddenly Kiera picked up a now-sleeping Finn and crept off to the bedroom to catch a few z's with him (she's lucky enough to not have a run scheduled). While the workout was looming, I knew I had to keep our daughter quiet so we headed out for a muffin together.

Finally, with everyone fed and awake (again) I headed off for the workout. It was late already, I was hungry, and I was still leery of how the run would feel and when I would call it quits. As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried. The legs knew what to do, the lungs played along, and within a few miles I knew it was in the bag for at least eight. The pace hovered between 5:55 and 5:56 as I headed up and back on some of the Down and Up loop, and after about five miles I turned onto my usual one mile time trial loop. Seven came and went, and soon after I felt the first small bit of fatigue in the legs. The lungs were still good and I still had my stride, so I continued on. At eight I figured I could aim for the maximum, and while the pace slipped to 5:57 and the lungs finally started huffing a little at nine and a half, I finished feeling good. The heart rate was 156 immediately afterwards, and down to 124 at a minute.

Today it felt like the body proved the mind wrong, which is a nice change.

Training: 12 miles, 1:14:03, 6:07 pace, w/10 miles at 5:57 pace

Thursday, April 05, 2007

No News is Good News

One easy mile into Sabino Canyon with a friend who happened to be passing by, then a steady nine mile progression in and around the nooks and crannies of the Slow Down Loop. The legs feel like the track workout on Tuesday has been forgotten, and the mild temperatures combined with bursts of spring color around the canyon made today obscenely pleasant. While I intended to run a bit slower, things just kept feeling better as I went along so I just went with it.

If anyone subscribes to Running Times, check out Jason Carp's article entitled "Miles to go Before I Sleep". The article has some interesting quotes about training for distance runners by David Costill, Ph.D., professor emeritus of exercise science at Ball State and former director of its Human Performance Laboratory. When asked whether Arthur Lydiard's runners would have run well despite their training rather than because of it Costill says, "I think Lydiard ruined more athletes than he helped." Be prepared for a very different take on optimal mileage. Jack Daniels also contributes to the discussion, albeit with a different view of things.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:06:18, 6:38 pace, w/9 miles at 6:30 pace
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles easy around 7:20 pace

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No Holding Back

At absolutely no point during today's run did I feel like moving any faster. After a week without any stressful runs I was starting to get used to the nice feeling of holding back early on, only to crank the pace down a bit towards the end without any difficulty. Instead I found myself quite content to tromp along at a relaxed pace as the body suffered the after-effects of pushing it a bit yesterday. In other words, after 8 days of medium efforts the legs were hit with a taste of what racing feels like again. They needed a break, and I was happy to oblige.

Training: 12 miles, 1:21:55, 6:50 pace

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How Much is Enough?

Mystery Coach prescribed an exchange run today, and the speeds were such that I felt more comfortable heading to the track for it. Luckily, Lucas also had some time to put in on the oval so we met up at our favorite strip mall and headed over to the Catalina Foothills High School.

While Lucas knocked out 12x400, I was to do either .75 mile at 6 minute pace followed by .75 mile at 5 minute pace x2 as one continuous run or the same thing with even miles if I felt "fresh". I don't know about you, but most of time I can't figure out whether or not I'm feeling good until I'm about halfway through a workout. Still, I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and started out with miles in mind.

I kept finding myself ahead of the clock on the first mile, and it was with some trepidation I hit the "lap" button at 5:53 and took off with four even 75's in mind. I felt fairly controlled for the mile, hitting fairly even splits between 75 and 76. By the fourth lap I was quite happy when I made it to the final stretch, though I was wondering whether or not I could "recover" with 90 second quarters. I hit the mile at 5:02, and while I had the sensation I was crawling for the next quarter I came through at about 5:50 pace and actually had to slow a bit. The recovery mile came and went quickly, and I actually felt ready to give 5 minute pace another go as I headed into the last 200. Clicking the watch at 5:53 I headed into the turn as I increased my speed. The first lap at 76 didn't hurt as badly as I thought it would, but as I neared the 800 in 2:31 I really started to feel it as the legs started to feel very acidic. About 900 in things started to just not feel right; the arms were tight and fatigued, I was really sucking air and the legs started to really drag along behind me instead of eating up the track in front of me. At 1100 in I knew the second effort would be over at 1200. I crossed the line at 3:47, stopped the watch, and immediately started second-guessing myself.

This had been a good workout, and I had kept very close to the goals I had in mind. But of course if I'm given the choice of 3/4 mile or 1 mile I immediately go for the longer distance and tend to feel a little disappointed if I can't make the grade. As I was thinking about this Lucas was coming up the track on his recovery lap. He had 4x400 left at 75 seconds and I decided to jump in with him. We knocked out the four remaining repeats in 73, 75, 74 and 75, and I honestly felt like I could have done them all day.

The confidence of being able to run four very relaxed 400's after my workout is a bit overshadowed by how I seemed to fall apart at the end of my original effort. This time I didn't feel the evil eye of Mystery Coach though, as I think I've figured out by now that as long as I'm still running relaxed that a little extra time on the track won't hurt.

So I guess I'm left with figuring out where I am. I'm responding well and bouncing back after rest intervals (it was maybe 20 seconds between my effort and my first quarter with Lucas), but I'm still breaking down towards the end of harder continuous efforts (the 5K on the track, the 8K and today). I still have 10 days until the next 5K, and hopefully I can put it all together with help from the coach by then.

Training: Today, 10 miles, w/3.75 mile exchange run (1 mile at 5:53, 1 mile at 5:02, 1 mile at 5:53, 3/4 mile at 3:47), followed by 4x400 (400 recovery) in 73, 75, 74, 75

Yesterday pm., 4 miles easy with Finn in the stroller, 7:30 pace

Monday, April 02, 2007

Still the Weekend

I'm spending much of the day with our daughter, planting spring flowers and some vegetable seeds (she's an optimist). This will be a short one.

Here was the weeek:
4/1, 17 miles, 1:55:55, 6:47 pace, a bit tired towards the end
3/31, 10 miles, 1:02:51, 6:20 pace, w/5 miles at 5:42 pace
3/30, 12 miles, 1:17:57, 6:30 pace, felt good
3/29 pm., 4 miles, 30:10, 7:33 pace, pushing the kids in the jog-stroller (they’re heavy)
3/29 am, 10 miles, 1:02:26, 6:15 pace, great progression run
3/28 pm., 6.2 miles, 41:25, 6:40-ish pace
3/28 am., 12 miles, 1:17:57, 6:29 pace
3/27, 12.9 miles, 1:24:47, 6:33 pace, nice progression
3/26 pm., 4.8 miles, 33:42, 7:10 pace, felt easy
3/26 am., 7.4 miles, 49:56, 6:47 pace. Tired legs, ran w/Lucas
Total miles: 96 in 10 sessions

Three doubles is a change for me, and overall the week felt pretty darn good.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:06:22, 6:38 pace
Yesterday, 17 miles, 1:55:55, 6:47 pace