Saturday, December 20, 2008


Mystery Coach seems to be preparing to crack the whip a bit, as he advised some preliminary speed-work early in the week along with a 7-miler today at 6:15-6:25 pace. For the preliminary speed I'm putting in short fartlek-style intervals of 45 seconds to 2 minutes, with a very full recovery of 15 minutes or so between each. This seems to work well for preparing the legs for faster runs, and it's also much less boring than strides. As for the seven miles up-tempo today, I can't really complain. It was too cold for my crummy heart rate monitor to work, but it seemed like I was working towards the top quarter of my comfort zone. My body seemed determined to run 6:05-6:10, but it felt more like habit than red-line so I backed off when the paces got too fast.

On a different note, I'm proud to say Haiden and I kept our streak of getting to school under our own power for the whole first half of the school-year (with the exception of my days out of town for the marathon). We've been cycling each day, but this week Haiden told me she wanted to start running (I swear I didn't goad her into it, and even Kiera will vouch for me here). So on Tuesday and Thursday this week we jogged the .8 mile to school together, stopping every few minutes for a short walk break when I could hear her getting out of breath. Another semester of this and she's going to kill those kid-races (haha).

Next up for me is the Sun Run 10K on January 25th. I'm a bit behind where I thought I'd be at this time, but between my job and getting sick it's just how things are this time around. Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading.

10 miles, 1h04m, w/7 miles at 6:15-ish pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 Lagged a bit but probably just rusty
Weather: 38 degrees

8 miles, 55m, 6:55 pace w/4x60 second bursts, one every 15 minutes or so
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 38 degrees

7 miles, 50m, 7:11 pace, night run since Kiera was sick in the morning

8 miles, 57 minutes, 7:08 pace, concentrated on running very easy

10-ish miles, first nine at 6:45 pace, w/4x2 minute bursts, one every 15 minutes
Legs: 8/10

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Right Direction

...After a few detours
Week of 11/24-11/30/08, 36 miles in 4 sessions
Week of 12/1-12/7/08, 51 miles in 6 sessions
Week of 12/7-12/14/08, 64 miles in 8 sessions

Out with the sick and in with the well. I'm finally feeling like myself again, so it's good to see the frequency and the miles moving up. I've been keeping my mind off the paces as I've tried to get back to it, with the exception of making sure to take a slow day after a faster day or two when they happen. Both Saturday and Sunday found me down in the low 6:40's, so today I put the brakes on and really took it easy.

Hopefully Mystery Coach is starting to pen some workouts or faster days for the near future, as I'm finally feeling ready.

Thanks as always for the comments. I'm not finding much to write about lately with the running, so I'm not forcing it by blabbing on (too much) about nothing in particular.

9 miles, 1h04m, 7:07 pace
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 50 degrees

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Mystery Coach sent me out for a four mile evaluation run this morning. In the good old days (before NYC) I could run right around 6:00-6:10 pace at 150 beats per minute, but today was a different story:

Mile 1: 6:36 at 153HR
Mile 2: 6:50 at 152HR
Mile 3: 6:52 at 150HR
Mile 4: 6:42 at 150HR

I was moving so slow that I didn't even mind the fitness walker clinging to the inside curb of lane one or the two easy joggers spread out across lanes one and two. It's clear I'm still under the weather, as I'm spending an extra half hour at home trying to get the crud out of my sinus cavities and lungs before heading out each morning.

I guess it's good to have a baseline, but I'm a bit disappointed to see the bar so low at the moment. It does show that I'm probably not doing the easy runs slowly enough though.

8 miles, 57 minutes, w/4 mile eval in 6:36(153HR), 6:50(152), 6:52(150), 6:42(150)
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (hacking too much to sleep)
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 43 degrees

9 miles, 1h03m, 6:58 pace
Sleep: 6h 7/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 46 degrees

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Is This Thing On?

36 miles last week and 46 the week before. Those are some grim totals, but I guess if it's going to happen I'd rather see it during the month after a marathon. I apologize for the lack of posts, but between work, family and a few bouts of illness I've been running and posting much less often. I've taken five days off from running in just the last three weeks, but it seems like things are finally getting back on track.

The Thanksgiving Turkey Trot was a bit of a fiasco after I got sick Sunday night of race week. I ended up taking the three days off before the race, and when the big day came I was feeling flat and fatigued. Toss in a torrential downpour and a resulting mud bog for a course (and me with flats and no spikes), and you can probably guess how it went. The hills were so muddy that I had to go into an all out sprint just to get half-way up before losing my momentum, which meant walking with my feet splayed out and my weight forward the rest of the way to avoid sliding back down.

In the end I ran a full minute off my best, but I helped score for our team so I can't complain too much. Most peoples' times were 40 seconds to a minute slower, so maybe I wasn't as far off from form as I felt.

Looking forward, I'm going to just try to stay consistent with runs of 8 to 12 miles over the next week to make sure both the virus and sinus infection are gone for good. My focus is still the spring racing season, so I want to spend the next few weeks just getting healthy and strong again.

Instead of a long list of runs here, I've just put the last few weeks in the the log.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Seems like the recovery is going well from NYC as I head into my third post-race week. I ended last week with 55 miles after a nice run along Phoneline Trail in Sabino Canyon with some friends. Unfortunately I caught my toe on a rock and nearly took a header on the downhill, and the resulting save tweaked my groin muscle a bit. As a result I'm holding off on adding any strides or short bursts of speed until I'm not feeling stiff and sore there.

I've gone from plain-vanilla easy runs daily to incorporating slightly faster paces either every other or every third day, and the leg turnover seems to be returning somewhat. Altogether, I can't complain.

Sorry for the lack of posts, but the gallery I work for has a show this week so my free time has been severely curtailed. I'm also behind on catching up on several of the runner blogs I check, but I'm happy to see Eric's orange face now has some new entries next to it. Welcome back Sundog, we've all missed you.

8 miles, 52 minutes, 6:34 pace
Sleep: 6hr 6/10
Legs: 7/10 still a tweak in the groin
Weather: 63 degrees

6 miles, 42 minutes, 6:58 pace
Sleep: 5h 4/10
Legs: 6/10 groin tight and sore
Weather: 60 degrees

10 miles, 1h30m, Very hilly Phoneline Trail run with friends
Strained my groin a bit when I almost fell after catching a rock with my toe

8 miles, 53m, 6:40 pace
Legs: 8/10 Felt great

9 miles, 1h02m, 6:59 pace

8 miles, 53 minutes, around 6:40 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 Just a little heavy but ready to move
Weather: 45 degrees

11/12/08, 6.2 miles in 43 minutes with the Running Shop Gang

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love Letter to Greg Crowther and Great Runs

This post started as a comment on Greg Crowther's blog, but it quickly grew into a post of its own. I've admired the guy for as long as I've read him, so this post is for him.

Since I stumbled onto your blog a few years ago I've been a fan of your writing and your running. I've enjoyed reading about you becoming a father as much as I have enjoyed reading about your best races and your relentless training. With this being said, I was bummed while checking the results for your race this past weekend, and I wish it had gone better.

Between this post and the more recent one, I would have to agree that you're temporarily burnt out. I think you might be wandering in the gray twilight of stage 4.5, which is a damning place to be (check the second link for context). Heading into this summer I felt like I was wedged firmly in this space after two failed attempts at a marathon PR and a lackluster early racing season which culminated in yet again blowing my two chances to PR at 5K. I quit blogging for a few months after realizing I never wanted to write another crappy race report again.

What seemed to help drag me out of the funk was a bit of a change of focus and the schmaltzy self-help mantra, "Never another starting line". Bear with me here.

I know from your posts that winning isn't enough, which is certainly one of the attributes of a champion (I truly feel you are a champion Greg). What might be worth analyzing is why running a PR or a fast time IS good enough. Now I'm going to add my favorite fortune to the schmaltz (yes, I actually pulled this from a fortune cookie and yes I've mentioned it before). "The greatest effort isn't concerned with the results".

My guess is that even while you are a fierce competitor, glancing at the finishing clock while breaking the tape isn't what you remember about the great races. Instead, I bet you remember and savor the feeling of really running well on those days more than the eventual outcome. I mean the feeling of just KILLING it, turning the screw at the critical time and finding more in the legs to give, or fighting back with courage against overwhelming fatigue and holding firm in your resolve. I'm talking about finding and lingering in that elusive place where so much joy and so much pain intertwine, when you are truly giving your best effort naturally without any second guessing.

Certainly the thrill of competition can bring out a great run, and a great time or placing can cement it in time, but as always the real battle is with the man in the mirror. Without a starting line or a finishing clock, where do true competitors find the motivation to continue running? What made us fall in love with it and what keeps us in love even while slipping into the inevitable "winding down" of age that John L. Parker describes so well?

Finding that thing inside us that keeps us searching for that next great run seems to be the important thing. I'm sure it's there for you and for me, maybe at some 5K a few weeks down the road, or perhaps on some familiar trail, far from any starting line. The value of the greatest effort is slowly supplanting the value of the next PR, though both are quite sweet when they arrive.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Week That (Barely) Was

Mo: Off
Tu: Off
We: 6 (sore and stiff)
Th: 4 (see line above)
Fr: 5
Sa: 8
Su: Off
Total: 23 whopping miles in 4 sessions

I took the kids to see my folks in Mesa on Saturday night, and in their traditional fashion they took far too long to fall asleep and woke up at 4:30. This behavior was enough for me to at least blame Sunday's zero on them.

This week is off to a good start with an easy 8 miles yesterday and an easy 6 this morning. I'm still leaving the Garmin at home and just running by feel with a stopwatch, but I can tell I'm starting to move over the road at a faster pace than last week's crawls. The right calf muscle is still gripping the bone a bit too fiercely, but I find I'm noticing it about five minutes later on each run when compared to the run before it. Today I only thought about it at 40 minutes in, so I'm guessing it will be gone altogether in a few days. The adductors, abductors, hamstrings and quads are all still a little sore, but they seem to be coming along nicely. One toenail gone, which is unexpectedly good news. I love those Asics Gel Ohanas.

I'm still committed to going easy through the end of this week and into next week, but I'm starting to think a bit about the upcoming 5K cross-country Turkey Trot on November 27. Since my folks are camping for Thanksgiving instead of cooking, I need to land second place in the 30-39 age group in order to secure a pumpkin pie (Kiera hates pumpkin almost as much as she hates making pies). It would also be nice to knock out a PR for the course here, but with all the uphills, cornering and sprinting on grass it will be a challenge given my usual condition in the month after a marathon.

11/11/08, 6-ish miles in 43 minutes

11/10/08, 8-ish miles in 56 minutes

Saturday, November 08, 2008


After two full days off I've gotten back to some running. I'm taking these days as they come, and I've taken off the Garmin for a few weeks in an effort to run easily by feel without minding the paces. The quads are still tight and sore, and the calf muscles are taking awhile to forgive me. So far no strange or abnormal pain, which is always a good sign. It's been fun slowing down and getting up with the kids for a change with the shorter runs. Thanks for all the great comments on the race, I've enjoyed reading them.

8-ish miles, 58 minutes, a bit less sore

5-ish miles, 38 minutes, right calf is mighty tight

4-ish miles, 30 minutes, ran too much yesterday

6.2 miles with the gang, 43 minutes, A bit too fast and too hard for the first day back

11/4/08, Big Zero

11/3/08, Big traveling zero

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mike the Liar

In the days leading up to the race last weekend I told Kiera that I was planning on really enjoying the New York trip, as this would be the last time I would be doing something like this. What I meant was the whole dedicated build-up; Four to six months of focused training geared towards a single goal to the exclusion of other pursuits and races. I talked about how it's just too time consuming and expensive to travel to a big race, and how the satisfaction I get from a marathon isn't really any different than how I feel after any 5 or 10K race. I meant all of it too...and then I ran the NYC marathon.

New York is an incredibly exciting place. Even before we got into a cab at the JFK airport we were making plans to join Abdi Abdirahman for dinner in Manhattan. Abdi is a fellow Tucsonan who finished 6th at NYC, and he's a three time Olympian to boot. While we live in the same town, I'd never met him before so it was a kick to dine with him.

Walking back from Abdi's hotel took us past Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios and Rockefeller Center before we found Grand Central Station for the subway ride home. Just stumbling upon all these landmarks was mindblowing, and worth the blister I ended up getting (the only one for the whole weekend though, so no complaints).

Saturday started with a run along the Hudson River with Lucas and Jason. While the wind and the warm temperatures concerned me, the legs just felt electric and ready to go. The trip afterwards to the expo was a bit scattered as we ended up missing a bus after getting stuck in our own elevator and then missed the next one when we figured out we needed quarters to ride instead of dollar bills. The free shuttle to the expo found us after much more walking, and thankfully lunch and the the trip back home were uneventful. Want to find a good restaurant in Manhattan? Walk one block.

Saturday night found the rest of the gang going out to eat while I stayed home and ate pasta with Catlow, our friend who missed running the marathon due to some leg issues but who served as our official map-reader, navigator, and photographer (and in my case chef as well).

Sunday morning's ferry ride to Staten Island was beautiful and calm. We took Ian's advice and switched from a 5am bus ride from Manhattan to the ferry, and it was a great decision. As the Statue of Liberty passed by I listened to Wilco's "Either Way" with my feet up on a bench, pondering the morning ahead. Again, I felt like I had electricity moving through me, and even with the wind I was very excited about the day ahead.

I already wrote about the race, but the rest of the trip was just as fun. The officials shuttle you out of the park fairly quickly after the marathon, so our group met up on 82nd Street west of the park. At the suggestion of our New York friend Peter we hit a diner called E.J.'s, where I was able to put a check-mark next to my usual post-marathon wish list: Cheeseburger, fries, at least 40 ounces Dr. Pepper and a cup of coffee (had to settle for Pepsi but oh well). From there it was off to the Parlour, a bar-restaurant nearby which was hosting a post-race party for the Central Park track club that Peter belongs to. I drank my two beers and watched the one-hour recap on the big screen TV, talking all the time with both old and new friends. Pure happiness.

After a bus-ride back to the apartment we headed out to Greenwich Village for the best pizza I've ever had. Joe's Pizza on Bleeker Street is the place folks. Here we met back up with Jason, so all four of our runners were back together for a celebratory meal with friends and family. We drank our pitchers of beer and relived the good and bad moments of the race, and all of us seemed to want to give it another try someday. Toss in some gelato from Grom down the street afterwards and you have a perfect post-race evening.

Yes, I still need to tell Kiera I was lying. This trip and the company I enjoyed will be something I will always remember. It's not just another 5K or 10K- it's the New York City Marathon!

Toby, Me and Jason at the finish

Monday, November 03, 2008

No More Ghosts

If you haven't already, you really should run the New York City marathon. I think this is my 12th marathon, and I can say without hesitation that the race and the city are unforgettable.

With this being said, enjoying this race was the absolutely the furthest thing from my mind as I crouched in the porta-john at mile 14. This was the third time I'd done the knee-knocking sprint to the side of the road during the past 5 miles, so by now I was good at throwing the door open and getting on with it. "I'm sh**ting my race away", I shouted at the brown door in front of me. I stayed in longer this time than the last two abrupt trips, as I desperately wanted this to be the last time. A PR was by all accounts slipping away, my stomach felt like hell and I couldn't keep any calories down.

The pre-race fesitivities started with a scare when the announcement sounded that the race had closed the first wave corrals and was now staging the second wave. We were handing our bags to the UPS truck at the time, which was at least a quarter mile from where we needed to be, and the follow-up announcement made it clear that we were now relegated to the second wave. I'd seen this movie before last October when I was stuck in wave 2 at Twin Cities, and there was no way I was going to go through that nightmare again. Unfortunately, there were probably 1000 people milling about in the space between us (Lucas was with me) and the staging area, so we were forced to bump our way through what seemed like half of the race's participants en route to the tail end of our corral. Thankfully when we showed our bibs to the guards at the gate they waved us in. From there we worked to the front and ran into Ian, which was a nice surprise.

Staring ahead at the supports for the Verrazano-Narrows bridge and feeling the cold headwind blowing into the field gave me chills, and I couldn't wait to get started. I was going to get down to business quick, with my effort-based split plan in hand (actually it was glued to my Garmin thanks to Kiera's scrap-book talents). My planned 6:27 was 6:27 for mile 1, my planned 5:38 (big downhill) was a 5:37 for 2, and the 5:49 and 5:42 came in at 5:39 and 5:48. I was on it. I didn't feel great, and the headwind was really pushing against me, but the crowds and the atmosphere made up for it. It was going to be hard work, but I was going to make it my day.

Unfortunately, the stomach started to give me trouble the next mile, and while I kept hitting the splits, I put off the gel at mile 7 until mile 8. When I took it, I knew it was a mistake. Unfortunately the G.I. distress I'd had since Thursday afternoon hadn't disappeared yet, and the pepto caplets I took Saturday night had kept me from my usual pre-race,(ahem), ritual Sunday morning. In hindsight I should have waited until Sunday morning to take the pepto, but I was worried by then it would be too late to do any good. Suddenly the problem was urgent, and it was very close to being very ugly.

One quick side-trip to the john is no big deal, so I did what I had to do and made sure to not look at my split for that mile in an effort to stay positive and to keep thinking one mile at a time. Unfortunately, a sip of gatorade at mile 9 rubbed me the wrong way, and the cycle repeated itself.

Two trips to the john is in fact a big deal. I was now starting to panic and I could feel the heart rate creeping up with the same effort. Just like the first time, I tried to claw back just a few seconds a quarter or so, slowly dialing down the pace as I went to try to get back on schedule. Things again settled down a bit, and a glance at the big clock showed 1:18:15 or so at the half, though now we were on our way up yet another bridge. Maybe I'll just take another sip of gatorade... The next thing I know I'm at mile 14 where this post begins, shouting at the door of the porta-john.

As I sprint back out on the course and hear the door snap shut behind me, I make the plan: Forget micro-managing the splits, don't even look at them until you reach the tape. No more liquid, as it's just putting me on the toilet. Forget the gels. Push it to the red-line and hold the gear, and do what you're trained to do.

The moment of truth came on the Queensborough bridge. This comes at mile 16, and it's a steady, uphill grind run in silence (no spectators allowed). I'm generally good on hills, and thankfully the angle of the bridge took us out of the headwind. I was rolling by runners like they were standing still, all the while thinking about Mystery Coach's advice to keep an even keel until mile 16. Somehow tossing out the split collecting and focusing solely on effort made things feel easier, even though I could tell by my stride and cadence that I was on pace.

Just as the bridge finally tilts downward, runners are funneled down a quick 180 degree turn onto 5th Avenue and the lights come on...

It's a wall of people, screaming their hearts out for every runner. I instinctively give a little wave and the eruption doubles. This roar continues for miles, and I'm just rolling now. 5:53, 5:56, 5:53, 6:01, 5:52. I hit the park and dig in on the uphill mile 23 for a 5:52, and the calf muscles start to give. All of the sudden I can't drive quite as far forward with the knees because of this, but I make do. 6:11, 6:04, 6:03, then a mad dash for the last .2 for a 2:37:08. It's a meager PR, but I'm proud of myself for making the right decision at the right time, and for making the best of a bad situation. I gave it my absolute best. No ghosts.

Special thanks to Mystery Coach for the plan that made it all possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taper Workout and Race Plan

This morning I ran my last workout before the marathon, which included a simulation of the first five miles of the race, ten minutes of jogging, then 3x1000 on five minutes. I started a short, two day carbohydrate depletion phase yesterday morning, so I was a bit leery of attempting a confidence-building workout like this with a less than full tank. All in all the workout went well, though the first mile out the door on an uphill at close to race pace was a little tricky. If it's hard not to overdo it while just imagining the race and running at home, I'm sure being in the throngs of people on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge will be even more difficult. I ended up running 6:09, 5:55, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:53 for the effort, and I definitely felt more relaxed during the last two miles than I did for the first three. Finding the heart rate at 157 for the last mile seemed like a good sign.

After the simulation I jogged up to the track at the nearby junior high and broke into the first 1000 straightaway. Mystery Coach was looking for 3:10-3:20, which he noted as a hard, 4-5 mile race effort. I tried to lock in on the first repeat, but the legs were a little rusty after jogging easily up to the track. I was a little bummed to read 3:21 for the first result, but I wasn't interested in pushing the effort any harder. The 1:40 rest interval really seemed to help, so the same effort netted me 3:13 for the second rep, and the heart rate was back to 120 at 80 seconds into the rest interval. The last repeat felt about the same as the second one, so the 3:14 wasn't too surprising. I definitely felt good jogging home, knowing all the preparation for NYC was finally in the bag.

I'm planning on an easy jog and a joyful return to carbohydrates tomorrow. I don't seem to take to this depletion thing too well, or at least my brain doesn't. This morning after the workout I managed to leave the burner on after cooking my eggs and then proceeded to freak out after "losing" my NYC marathon info booklet and bib card. Thankfully Kiera kept me from burning the house down, and by the time I arrived at work she had also emailed after finding my NYC documents.

Friday morning I'm on a plane at 7am with my pal Lucas, who is running his first marathon. We have an apartment rented in Manhattan where we'll meet up with Catlow, Jason, Toby an his wife Jen, who are all traveling to NYC from Tucson. Jason is running his first marathon as well, though with his fast times at shorter distances he's earned a clean, "sub-elite" space on the front of the orange starting line. Toby managed a blue, "professional" start with his previous 2h37m marathon, and Lucas and I will leave from corral A on the orange starting line.

As far as a race plan goes, I have every intention of running a personal best, and if things go my way I'll try to squeeze under 2h35m. The training has gone very well, I haven't gotten sick in the past few weeks, and I have no complaints of soreness or any injury. Yes folks, I'm saying I have absolutely no excuses. Mystery Coach put together a plan that's made me feel more fit than I've ever been, and for the most part I've been smart enough not to overdo it. While it's true that the stresses and effects of travel, accommodations and weather can't be predicted, I'm heading to the city with high expectations and with great friends, so I anticipate a great weekend.

Instead of just trying to hit 5:55 for each mile, I'm hoping to ease into the race for the first 5-8K, and I'll try to mind what I've been learning from this spreadsheet as far as adjusted splits for the ups and downs on the route. If you look at the pacing tab in the excel file it even gives you the option of choosing how fast you get up to speed and how much you anticipate fading at the end. Pretty cool, though I'm only using it as a guideline. Mostly I'm noting the noticeably slow and fast splits in hopes of keeping an even effort throughout the race. In the past I've been a bit of a pace monkey, which has meant braking and giving up free speed on downhills while working too hard to stay on pace during the uphills. With the undulations in mind ahead of time, I hope to stay under the red-line a bit further into the race than usual.

For nutrition, the strategy calls for a gel 15 minutes before the start, then gels at mile 7, 12, 17 and 21. I'll take on sports-drink and water in about even amounts, and I'll stick to my usual strategy of hitting most of the aid stations but only drinking small amounts at each in an effort to aid digestion and absorption.

Having a real kitchen while in NYC should help me with getting the complex carbohydrates I'm used to on Saturday, which is something I've had trouble with when traveling to marathons in the past. I do hope to meet up with blogging minimalist and media personality Ian for a meal on Friday night. We'll also be in the same corral for the start on Sunday. I know Duncan will be covering the race, so I'm hoping to catch up with him too if he can tear himself away from Catherine The Great.

The biggest problem I see for race morning is the ungodly long period of time between our 5am bus departure from the library in Manhattan and the 9:40 starting time. I usually like to eat a decent breakfast about three hours before racing, but the long ride and longer wait will most likely throw me off. Still, I'll make do.

For anyone interested in tracking me, my bib is 2054. In the U.S.A., NBC has a one hour recap of the race on at 3pm eastern on Sunday following the race. Lots of info on the race is available here.

I'll try to check in again before the race. In the meantime, many thanks to my family for their love and support, to Mystery Coach for his excellent advice, planning and counsel, and to all of you for reading.

9.25 miles, 5 mile marathon simulation in 6:09, 5:55, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:53, finishing HR of 157, then 3x1000 on 5 minutes in 3:21, 3:13, 3:14 (max HR 168)
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: Perfect again

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Garmin for Sale

After having some problems with sweat and the touch-bezel on the new Garmin Forerunner 405 Kiera gave me, I sent it back to the company for a warranty replacement. During the time it's been gone I've gone back to my trusty 205, and since I'm fine with the old one I'm offering up the brand new 405 Garmin sent me back up for sale to my blogging pals before abandoning it on Ebay. This has the heart rate monitor, the ANT+sport stick for wireless transmission to a computer, and everything else it comes with. Shoot me an email if you are interested in buying mine for $270 instead of paying $350 for a new one.

The runs have been going well, and I'm finding it hard to keep the paces moderate with the reduction in volume. I'm leaving for NYC on Friday, and aside from a taper workout either tomorrow or Thursday it's all easy running. Here's how last week went down:

Mo: 8
Tu: 9
We: 13
Th: 10.5, Alternating mile at 6:00 pace, 1/2 mile at 5:30 pace X5
Fr: 8
Sa: 8
Su: 12
Total: 68 in 7 sessions

8 miles, 54m, 6:45 pace, feeling great
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 8/10

7 miles, 47m, 6:45 pace, w/2x800 at MP
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 8/10

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:08 pace, slow and easy with the group
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 75 and sunny

Friday, October 24, 2008


I've had trouble finding the time to post, but for the most part I've just been trying to stay out of trouble on the runs during the taper. The legs seem to be coming back from the Saturday-Sunday efforts, and my one workout this week of a 1600m at 6 minute pace followed by an 800m surge down to 5:30 pace X 5 went down fine (details below on 10/23). Miles 2 and 3 were a bit fast, but I hope I came to my senses soon enough by backing off for the rest of the workout. It was hard to slow back down to 6 minute pace for the 1600's after working down to 5:30 pace on the 800's.

More shorter runs to follow...

8 miles, 56m, 7:01 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 8/10

10.25 miles, 1h01m, 1600 at 6:00 pace followed by 800 surge down to 5:30 pace x 5 in: 5:57, 2:48, 5:48, 2:44, 5:46, 2:50, 5:56, 2:49, 5:57, 2:44
Resting HR: 40
Sleep: 7h 8/10

13 miles, 1h29m, 6:55 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 7/10

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Why do Ryan Adams and the Cardinals want to ruin my marathon? I loved hearing this tune when Kiera and I saw earlier this year when they came to Tucson:

Now they're playing on Halloween at the Apollo in NYC, which is coincidentally the same day I'll get there (the marathon is 11/2). Between the $40 for tix, a few expensive cab-rides and the resulting short night of sleep, I'm wisely passing. But damn, listen to those harmonies!

9 miles, 1h02m, 6:57 pace
Resting HR: 40
Sleep: 7h, 8/10
Legs: 8/10 Had to force myself to keep slowing down
Weather: Yes

8 miles, 58m, 7:08 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 Just a bit stiff
Weather: Oh man, it's just perfect

The legs are feeling quite good, and Sunday afternoon found me with more energy than usual. Still, I'm really trying to start out the week with caution and recovery in mind, since this is the time for the brain to start fooling the legs into working too hard.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Busy week at home and at work. My boss is back and my wife (the other boss?)is out of town, which means more work all around. Here's a snapshot of the week, which ends with me two weeks out from the NYC marathon:

Mo: 10
Tu: 12
We: 8 w/8x1000 at 3:13-3:17
We: 5
Th: 8 (car episode, don't ask)
Fr: 12
Sa: 10 w/6 mile marathon start simulation
Su: 19 w/10 at 6:49 pace, then 9 at 5:55 pace
Total: 84 miles in 8 sessions

Saturday-Sunday was the last back to back, with Saturday planned as a simulation of the first 6 miles of the marathon. This included an uphill start, followed by a shorter downhill section and pretty much rolling terrain afterward. I really wanted to feel great for this workout, but I ended up feeling very flat. Perhaps I wasn't fully recovered from the 1000's on Wednesday, or maybe it was just an off day. The details are below (10/18), and while the paces went to plan (starting at 6:10, then working down 5 seconds a mile to 5:55-5:57 pace), I had to put more effort into it than I wanted.

Sunday was a planned 20 miler, with 10 miles at 6:40-6:50 followed by 10 at 5:55-5:57 pace with three half mile surges towards the end to simulate some areas in Central Park. After Saturday's run I was apprehensive, and Mystery Coach let me know it was fine to pull the plug early if it clearly just wasn't happening. I ended up putting in 7 miles at 7 minute pace with some friends before heading off on my own, and during the next three miles I brought the cumulative pace down to 6:49 or so. I ran the marathon pace effort pretty much by feel, just glancing at the pace on the Garmin every half mile or mile to see if I was in the ballpark. While I hoped to see 5:55 on the nose, I was closer to 5:58 or so for the first half. When I turned into the breeze (and a slight uphill after running slightly downhill), the effort got a little tougher, but I was still feeling under control. However, by the time the planned surges came about I was starting to feel enough pressure to just continue at the same effort. By 8 miles I could tell my heart rate and respiration had changed, and I seemed to be either at or just over the red-line. Instead of really forcing it just to finish all 20, I called it at 19 miles and 9 miles at effort. Details are below.

I might add a bit later, but with Kiera gone it's just too crazy around here. All in all I'm happy it went as well as it did, but wondering why it didn't go a little better.

19 miles in 2h01m, 6:24 pace. First 10 at 6:49 adjusted pace (Garmin pace plus 5)
11-19 at 5:55 adjusted pace (Garmin pace plus 5)
Mile 10-12.5 HR: 149avg
Mile 12.5-15 HR: 150avg
Mile 15-17.5 HR: 159avg
Mile 17.5-19 HR: 164avg
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 72 or so, light breeze

10 miles, 1h05m, 6:31 pace, w/marathon start simulation in 6:11, 6:04, 5:59, 5:59(unavoidable uphill), 5:54, 5:55
Sleep: 7h, 8/10
Legs: 6/10 A bad day for a bad day
Weather: 73 degrees and breezy

12 miles, 1h23m, 6:57 pace
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 6/10
Weather: Nice

8 miles, 55m, 6:53 pace
Sleep: 7h, 7/10
Legs: 8/10 Very hard to keep it slow
Weather: 75 degrees and windy

10/15/08 pm., 5 miles at 7:16 pace

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still Learning

Back on the track for 5-10x1000 this morning, starting each rep on 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the wind buffeting against the house woke me before the gurgling of the coffee maker could, which meant it would be a long morning. Oh well, better today than during Saturday or Sunday's workouts.

An email from Mystery Coach made it clear that rather than an arbitrary number, the paces would depend on me finding and holding the appropriate effort, and that I should quit when I felt I had enough, be it five or all 10 repeats.

With the very strong cross-wind it made sense to run strong through the difficult 200 and to cruise and relax through the aided 200 during each lap, and since I was starting the even-numbered reps into the wind my guess was that they'd be a bit slower than the odds.

3:17, 3:16, 3:14, 3:16, 3:14, 3:14, 3:13, 3:15

Instead of checking every 200 or 400 to see what the pace was I just ran each by feel, trying to tune in to the feeling I had two weeks ago while running 3:22 or so. The wind was obnoxious, but the on-off rhythm it necessitated made the run an interesting challenge. After getting through number six feeling pretty smooth, I started fighting against the headwind to keep up the momentum on number seven. By the time I finished the first 400 of the eighth rep I knew I'd be calling it for the day, and after seeing the time slip back a bit when I finished the deal was sealed. The heart rate was at exactly 120 when I timed it for 15 seconds after resting one minute, which is hopefully a sign I didn't stick it out for too long.

This week and next week are without a doubt the most dangerous two weeks in my preparation for New York. I feel like I have about all the fitness I'll muster for this training cycle, so the natural inclination is to use it. During this period the sounds of fatigue can still be audible, but they can often be muted by the noise coming from adrenaline and a general sharpening up. I'm trying to tune in to them, but it's obviously getting more difficult. The first mile of th 8K two weeks ago is a good example of this, as was the fast start to last week's 7 mile effort. In both cases I probably could have gotten the same or more out of less, and recovered more quickly to boot. I don't think I'm doing myself any favors when I dig in too hard, too soon during workouts or races, and it's certainly a habit that can prove disastrous when carried over into the marathon.

I need to be more mindful of easing into the workouts. Perhaps more importantly, I need to remember that just because I'm in the kind of shape that will stand up to punishment, I don't necessarily have to push things to the edge in order to see gains at this point. I think Lydiard's sharpening is more about bringing the fitness you already have to the surface while getting the body rested and fresh. rather than just blindly piling on intensity because the body will take it. Mystery Coach has certainly told me as much, but as he's mentioned, he's not the one running the workouts.

All right...I wrote it, now I just have to do it.

8 miles, w/8x1000 on 5 minutes in 3:17, 3:16, 3:14, 3:16, 3:14, 3:14, 3:13, 3:15
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: WIND

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:05 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: Very nice

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hurry Up November

Any other runners out there tripping over countless campaign signs every time they round a corner?

10 miles, 1h09m, 6:57 pace
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 40 degrees (33 degrees less than two days ago)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

10/12/08, Three Weeks Out

Good long run today with the group to finish up the week. The legs had a little fatigue from the workout yesterday, but they seemed to rally once I got to 15 miles. Here's how the week ended up:

Mo: 12
Tu: 12
We: 14, 6
Th: 12 w/8x300 jog, 100 accelerate-sprint + 1x600 downhill
Fr: 12
Sa: 10 w/7 around 5:44 pace
Su: 20
Total: 98 miles in 8 sessions

20 miles, 2h15m, 6:47 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 to start, 8/10 at the end
Weather: 48 degrees to start, very nice

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Oh man did I feel great today. Trying out the Asics Ohanas (which I'll probably use for the marathon) helped for the 7 mile effort, but even so I was just dialed in for this one. Mystery Coach set 5:44-5:48 (or marathon pace minus 10 seconds) for the pace guidelines, and since I ran on the track I figured the difference between true miles and my 1600's was about two seconds (I didn't adjust the splits). After running the first 2K a bit fast I seemed to find the pace pocket, and from that point on things just rolled. The sprinklers on the infield were spilling onto the track at many points, so I found myself dodging puddles and running wide pretty frequently in an effort to stay relatively dry. It's nice to see the Ohanas drain pretty well.

I was glad to see the heart rate rise quickly and stick at 161. It seems like the body is getting a bit more used to these kinds of efforts.

10 miles, 1h01m, 7 mile effort at 5:38(154HR), 5:40(159), 5:42(159), 5:40(160), 5:42(161), 5:42(161), 5:42(161)
Sleep: 7h, 9/10
Legs: 10/10
Weather: 73 degrees, humid & breezy and sprinkles (actually sprinklers)

Friday, October 10, 2008


Just marking time for a few days. Worked on form a bit with 8x300 jog, 100 accelerate-sprints along with 1x600 downhill yesterday. No more soreness from the race, and a planned 7 miles at 5:44-5:48 pace on the schedule for tomorrow. Best wishes to Greg for a great marathon in Chicago this weekend. He's done all the work (and then some).

12 miles, 1h22m, 6:53 pace
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather 68 or so, warming up again?

12 miles, 1h22m, 6::53 pace, w/8x300 jog, 300 accelerate-sprint, plus 1x600 downhill
Sleep: 6h 5/10 Ugh
Legs: 6/10
Weather: 60 or so, very nice

10/8/08 pm., 6.2 miles 44 minutes, easy with the gang

14 miles, 1h39m 7:05 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 7/10 Held back a bit
Weather: ideal

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


The sprint to the finish at the end of Sunday's race seemed to have activated the very deepest of my buried fast-twitch fibers. You know, the ones usually reserved for jumping off the fire escape of a burning building or similar. As such the quads feel like they took on a little damage, so I'm just plodding along until the soreness subsides. I think the last ten seconds of that race probably added two days to my recovery, which is enough of a lesson for me to ditch any question of racing a 10 miler two weeks out from the marathon. I had thought of running the race as my 10 miles of marathon pace planned for that day, but I know there's too much of a chance of me getting sucked in and pushing beyond what I can recover from come marathon day.

Speaking of recovery, last week focused on fewer miles and workouts. Between recovering from the back to back workouts that finished a week ago Sunday and preparing for the race this past Sunday, it seemed as good a week as any to back off. Here's how it went down:

Mo: 10, 5
Tu: 12
We: 12, 5
Th: 16
Fr: 10
Sa: 8
Su: 10 w/8K race
Total: 88 in 9 sessions

This seemed to be a needed break, as I was really dragging on Monday and Tuesday of last week. The next two weeks will be challenging, but thankfully the energy levels seem good and I seem to be handling the workload. Thanks to all of you for reading, and for all the kind comments on the race this past weekend.

12 miles, 1h22m, 6:54 pace
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 7/10 Still sore
Weather: 60 degrees

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 5/10 sore quads
Weather: 58 degrees

10 miles w/8K race in 26:32 (10th place, PR)
4:59, 5:15, 5:21, 5:38, 5:18
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 9/10 Ready
Weather 62 and breezy

8 miles, 57m, 7:10 pace
Sleep: 8h 9/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 60 and nice

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Run and Roll 8K

Me goofing off with the kids at a friend's birthday party after the race. Photo by Kiera

Ignoring the splits for the 8K this morning probably saved me a heart attack at the first mile marker. I know from past experience and discussions that it's probably a bit short (and definitely a bit downhill), but even so, seeing a 4 on the minute side of the watch would probably be more than I could handle (4:59). At this point I was still comfortable and running by myself, behind two groups of runners. I was probably in 16th place or so, and while I felt good I could tell the legs were just about at the max of what they could do without me bouncing all over the place.

The second mile typically finds the pack easing, which was the case for the second group just ten steps ahead of me. The first group continued to rocket away, I could tell I wouldn't be seeing them again. I was breathing and sweating now, but the legs still had their strength. I could see some heads waggling and shoulders tightening ahead of me, and while I held my distance and tried to settle in a few from the group came back to me. I hit the split at the second mile and imagined 5:20 (it was 5:15) before honing in on the tangent for another sharp left turn. The course snaked through the University's campus, and it was hard to keep the momentum up through all the turns.

Another two runners drifted back during the third mile, and it was taking a lot more effort to hold my ground behind the shattered remains of the group in front of me. For the first time I started searching for the next mile marker, which I didn't even spend the energy to guess on (it was 5:21), and I remember mentally marking the 5K point in an effort to rally for the last 3K. The fourth mile is really the killer on this course, as it features most of the uphill for the race as well as a tough concrete section through an underpass. The group ahead of me had dwindled to three (I think one more came back to me but it's hard to remember), and now one of them was pulling away from the other two. As I focused on them I could see that the two left behind were now pulling away from me. Unfortunately, I was really on the limit here and I just couldn't turn the screw. The legs felt full and the breathing was shallow, and I kept having to focus on driving my legs instead of following their lead (as I had during the first two miles). I sighed with relief when the marker for mile 4 appeared (5:38).

The last mile (well not quite a mile) found me doing what we all do for the last mile. From the cadence in the legs I could tell I was still on a good race, but it was really hurting now. The last half mile winds through a few more tight turns, and unfortunately the crowds on the sidelines started letting me know about someone coming up from behind. With 200 to go I started to feel his presence, so I surged and focused for the hard, right angle turn that appears 100 meters or so before the line. I pulled on the pavement and cut the tangent right along the curb, but as I made my pivot I catch an elbow and get pushed off the turn and into the middle of the road as the guy somehow muscles past me on the inside.

My eyes get big and I just lose it.

I'm digging into the road to pull this guy back in the 100 meters I have left. Arms are akimbo and flailing, and I feel like my torso is a half-step behind my legs. I remember looking at his right ear, wishing him to turn that head and look at me as I'm drawing close to even and giving it absolutely everything. When I get the step I get mean and get another two on him before crossing the line (5:18 for a 26:32).

Before they even tear our bibs at the end of the chute the guy is apologizing to me. I know it's hard to think straight in those circumstances, and I really appreciated him making the gesture. Later I look in the results and see he's 16 years old (yes, less than half my age).

It's a 23 second PR for me, which is especially nice after my recent grumblings about the static state of my list of bests. Knowing I can still get mean was the best part though.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The New Easy, Redux

Yesterday Michael asked, "Have you noticed that your recovery runs have been slower than in the past? Have you worked on making that so?"

The short answer to both questions is yes. Last summer I had a very hard time building miles and training volume during my conditioning for the Twin Cities marathon. During my first 11 weeks of base building I only averaged 83 miles a week, with weeks 9 through 11 at 77, 72 and 73 miles. In retrospect, I did most of these runs at 7 minute pace or faster, and as a result I either cut too many short or was too tired to add a second run when I needed to. I think in the end I just didn't build my conditioning up with enough miles to make the most of the specific training afterwards.

For New York I felt I needed to get back to higher volume, and when I started my conditioning phase in the heat of summer I took a cue from the three weeks of easy, watch-free running the coach forced on me before starting the training cycle. I'd come out of this forced off-season feeling very fresh, and running slow when I needed to (without the pressure of the watch) seemed to be a big part of it. Why mess with a good thing?

My first 11 weeks of training this time found me averaging 94 miles per week, including one week of 70 miles when I was sick and working away from home. I don't think I could have managed it without the slow five milers on the treadmill at the gym and several days a week at slower than 7 minute pace. I don't know whether it's an age thing or not, but it's just what seems to be working. It also seems to have the side benefit of making the workout days go smoother, which would stand to reason. I also think it makes me less of a crank to be around, but I guess Kiera would be the better judge of that.

10 miles, 1h09m, 6:53 pace
Sleep: 8h, 8/10
Legs: 7/10 Holding back at first, tight quads at the end
Weather: So nice I'd feel guilty posting it

16 miles, 1h49m, 6:53 pace
Sleep: 7,5h 7/10
Legs: 7/10 A little fatigue towards the end
Weather: Perfect

10/1/08 pm., 5 miles around 7:20 pace, 90 degrees

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I definitely needed a few days to recover from the Saturday-Sunday runs, so I took it quite easy on Monday and Tuesday. There's no real soreness to speak of, just a deep fatigue in the legs that was tested by two more days of big wind. Thankfully the weather cooperated this morning, and I had enough snap to add 8x100 strides during the last few miles to try and shake out the cobwebs in the legs.

I'm really making an effort to back off on the two days following a tough workout, though it isn't as tough a decision as it used to be since the legs now seem to demand it. I'm more than happy to just follow their lead.

I'm racing an 8K on Sunday, which will take care of the speed for the week. I'll still hopefully get in a long-ish run tomorrow, but otherwise it's looking like a down week as far as intensity goes. The 8K is one of my favorite races of the year, so hopefully I can drag the whole family along for it.

12 miles, 1h22m, 6:53 pace, w/8x100 strides/accelerations
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 (getting there)
Weather 70 and perfect

12 miles, 1h26m, 7:08 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 6/10 Still need a little recovery
Weather: 75 degrees and lots of wind

9/29/08 pm., 5 easy miles on the treadmill around 7:40 pace

10 miles, 1h12m, 7:14 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 6/10 dragging
Weather: 75 degrees and a crap-load of wind, not fun

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Note to self: No leftover chili for lunch the day before the marathon.

G.I. distress is fine, but throw in a devil wind, warm temperatures and a Garmin that decided not to turn on and you have the makings of a tough marathon run. I drove ten miles to the river path before I realized the Garmin was toast, so heading back wasn't an option. Luckily the river path has marks every 100 meters thanks to the University of Arizona's cross country and track teams, but between the darkness in the morning and the stretches of interrupted pavement (they can't really paint washboard sand) I was pretty well confused for my first 10 miles at a planned 6:45 pace. I knew from past runs where to turn around (I did the first half as an out and back to take the brunt of the wind for the first five), but as I came upon the marks I kept thinking they were wrong. One mark would seem too early and the next came too late, and it was only when I reached the turnaround at 32:10 that I realized I was running under 6:30 pace into the wind. I tried to slow down on the way back, but finally just settled in to a heart rate of 138-140, even though it was still ahead of pace. When I grabbed a drink and took a gel at 10 miles I was just under 1h05m, but there wasn't much I could do about it.

Since the wind was really picking up and blowing in one direction on the path, I decided to run the first two of the ten miles at 6 minute pace with the wind at my back, then turn around and run into the wind for five miles before letting the wind push me back home for the last three. By now it was light enough to see the marks on the path, so by adding two seconds to each 1600 I figured I would get an accurate reading on my pace for each mile.

Adjusted splits: 5:56(142HR), 5:58(152), 5:57(158), 6:00(159), 5:44(157), 6:03(159), 6:01(164), 5:54(164), 6:00(163), 5:42(164)

I pretty much ran by feel, and as expected the miles out of the wind (1-2, 8-10) felt much easier than the miles into the wind (the rest). Changes in terrain and various bridges and underpasses can explain some of the variation, but I did consciously slow a bit on the 6:03 mile after burning the 5:44. All in all it was a tough run, but I think if I'd had the same conditions today that I had yesterday I would have felt a bit stronger at the end. Still, it's a good run to have in the bank and a good end to the week:

Mo: 12
Mo: 5
Tu: 10.5
We: 12 w/10x1000 at 3:23
We: 6.2
Th: 6
Fr: 12
Sa: 11 w/7 at 5:52 pace
Su: 20 w/10 at 6 min pace
Total: 95 miles in 9 sessions

20 miles, 2h04m
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 78 degrees, 54 dew-point, lots of wind

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bottle it Up

Perfect weather, two nights in a row with eight hours of sleep, and light volume over the past two days made for some good numbers this morning. Check it out-

The plan called for seven miles at 5:52 pace, which was the same workout I did two weeks ago (9/13) on the river path with the Garmin. Even though I'm adding five seconds per mile to what the GPS reads on road runs, it's hard to directly compare the two workouts as I did this one by the stopwatch on the track. Still, each mile today felt like walking up and rolling strike after strike at the bowling alley. By the first 400 I could feel the heart rate and breathing firmly settled, and it was just a matter of staying calm and relaxed to keep things humming along in the zone.

...And yes, I fully realize comparing bowling to running shreds any remaining indie credibility I might have, but you already know I like Hall & Oates so wasn't that gone already?

The legs were still humming and light on the mile back to the house, but I resisted the temptation to add to the cool-down given the 20 miler with 10 at six minute pace tomorrow. I figure if I have anything left over it would be better to spend it then.

This is the first run this training cycle where I've felt like I stayed under my red-line at a pace equal to or faster than my planned marathon pace, so I'm giving myself and Mystery Coach a pat on the back. I'm hoping I can come out of tomorrow's run with the same feeling.

11 miles, 7 mile effort in 5:52(150HR), 5:51(153), 5:50(154), 5:49(154), 5:50(155), 5:49(155), 5:48(155), :36 second recovery to 120HR
Resting HR: 42 (a little high)
Sleep: 8h 9/10
Legs: 9/10 A little heavy on the warm up, then great
Weather: 68 and humid

Friday, September 26, 2008

One of my Favorite Days

The birthday girl (photo by Kiera)

Took an unplanned light day yesterday after staying out too late seeing My Morning Jacket perform. As a result the usual mid-week 16 miler turned into an easy 6, which gave me just enough time to bike Haiden to school. The usual evening time-vortex sucked away my chance for a double, and since I was feeling tired from a few poor nights of sleep I just considered it a wash.

This morning I woke feeling good and got in 12 miles early, which gave us plenty of time for Haiden to open presents. Tomorrow starts a difficult two days with back to back workouts, so hopefully the easy day yesterday and some good sleep will soak up before then.

12 miles, 1h23m, 6:55 pace
Sleep: 8h 9/10 (finally)
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 75 and humid again

6 miles, 42m, 7:05 pace
Sleep: 4.5h 2/10
Legs: 5/10 (see line above)
Weather: windy, sunny, hot (didn't enjoy this)

9/24/08 pm., easy 6.2 with the gang, very slow

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Today I figured out which shoes I won't be wearing come marathon morning. I gave the new Asics Hyperspeeds a go for my workout on the track, but between the very low heel height, the minimal padding in the forefoot and a less-than-perfect fit I decided that these shoes should probably top out at 10 miles of racing. Tonight I'll try out the Asics Banditos, but what I'm really looking for are two shoes that don't exist anymore (the old XI version of the Asics DS trainer and the extinct Asics Ohana Racer). While I'm listing off shoes I want but can't get, I might as well add the last incarnation of the Hyperspeed, since it fit me much better, had a slightly higher heel and more forefoot cushioning. Yes, I'm living in the past.

Now where was I before I started complaining? Oh yes, on the track for 5-10X1000, one every five minutes with a goal pace of 3:24-3:30 (with a little leeway), and a plan to surge from 700-900 meters before coasting in. I was told by Mystery Coach to stop once the effort matched how I felt at 2.5 miles into a 5K. Usually my eyeballs are dragging on the ground by that point, so I figured I would probably get all ten in.

3:22, 3:22, 3:24, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:23, 3:22, 3:23, 3:23

The workout really seemed to go well. Typically I'd hit the first 400 very relaxed in 1:20-1:21, then I'd ease up just a little until I surged from 700-900 before easing to the line. As the reps progressed I started getting a bit more ahead of schedule at the 600 mark, so I started cutting the surges a little earlier and worked on form for the last 200. The lungs never complained, and the legs didn't seem to feel the load until the eighth rep. Even at that point it seemed more a case of the calf muscles and quads getting used to the new shoes, as the paces didn't dip.

All in all I was happy with the day, especially since this was the first higher volume speed workout I've done since May.

12 miles, 1h11m?, w/10x1000 on 5 minutes in 3:22, 3:22, 3:24, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:23, 3:22, 3:23, 3:23
Sleep: 5h 5/10 Ugh
Legs: 8/10 Good
Weather: 70 degrees and pleasant

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Just laying low and staying out of trouble after the Saturday-Sunday back to back workouts.

10.5 miles, 1h12m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 7h, 7/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: Fine

9/22/08 pm., 5 miles, 37m, 7:29 pace

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:06 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 7/10 (Little tired at the end)
Weather: Nice

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Mystery Coach laid out an interesting long run today which included 7 miles at 6:10-6:15 pace...with a twist. After each mile I was told to spend a half mile gradually accelerating up to my maximum "relaxed" speed before immediately heading into the next 6:10-6:15 mile. It took my legs a few miles to come to grips with the fact that the 6:10-6:15 miles were actually the "recovery" part of the run, but after about four miles I seemed to settle in fairly comfortably. I didn't blow the doors off any of the 1/2 mile sections, but I did seem to get down to below 5K pace for at least a tenth of a mile or so by the end of them. I still seem to not have much top end at the moment, but it's hard to really dig in full-bore when you know you have several more miles at close to marathon pace ahead of you during a run like this. All in all it was a fun and challenging run, though I regretted getting a late start on it since it's heating up around here again. I spent the evening before at what I guess I can call band rehearsal, though there's only two of us at the moment. Getting to bed at midnight doesn't go along well with a 5am wake up for a tough long run.

Another week down:
Mo: 10 easy
Tu: 12, 4
We: 13 w/preliminary speed, 6
Th: 16
Fr: 12 easy (felt bad)
Sa: 12 w/7 around 5:56 pace
Su: 18 w/10.5 mile effort alternating 6:10-6:15 miles w/.5 mile acceleration
Total: 104 in 8 sessions

18 miles, 1h54m, 6:23 pace, 7 alternating mile/half mile paces of: 6:12/5:52, 6:11/5:41, 6:12/5:42, 6:10/5:43, 6:05/5:38, 6:10/5:45, 6:11/5:39
Sleep: 4.5h 4/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 78 degrees and dry

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chart It

It was a civilized morning on the track, with slower runners yielding the inside lanes and everyone saying "good morning" to each other (and nary a dog to be found).

Mystery Coach backed down the 7 mile effort to 5:58 pace today, so I was able to cruise fairly comfortably through the run. The legs did feel a little heavy for the last mile, but after feeling sick to my stomach Thursday night and having a slow, shaky run on Friday I chalked it up to my system just being a bit stressed by either a bug or too much barbeque. The new Garmin is a royal pain in the butt when it comes to switching screens to find how long it takes for my heart rate to get back to 120, so I gave up and did it the old fashioned way at 1:40 and I was already at the recovery number.

In comparing the runs over the past five weeks it seems I'm slowly reaching a heart rate equilibrium at 5:56 pace or slower, which is a good sign. As I've mentioned before, I'd feel much better about a goal pace of 5:54 or so if I felt I could run that and keep my heart rate at or below 160 for the first hour of the marathon. As last week showed, however, I still rocket past a 160HR when I drop the pace to 5:50 or so for 30 minutes. Mystery Coach's 5:58 guideline for today was probably a very astute assessment of my current redline, as shown by the results today and on 9/5.

As I mentioned above, yesterday's run was simply damage control. As I drove into town to see Liam Finn play (Neil Finn of Crowded House's son), my stomach started revolting and I felt a wave of fatigue come on. I made it through an early show for a different band at another club, but I ended up just driving home before even making it to the Finn gig. A rough night followed, so for the run the next morning (Friday) I decided to go as slow as I could. Sticking it out for 12 instead of calling it at 8 or 10 was probably a little dumb in hindsight, but by the afternoon I was feeling right again.

Tomorrow's long-ish run should be interesting after getting the email from Mystery Coach. I'll let you know how it goes.

12 miles, 1h17m, 7 mile effort in 5:55(150HR), 5:57(154), 5:56(155), 5:56(158), 5:57(156), 5:55(156)
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: Nice

12 miles, 1h28m, 7:24 pace
Sleep: 6h 5/10
Legs: 5/10 (Blah, coming off a bug or something)
Weather: No complaints

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fighting Legs

Michael recently asked, "How are you feeling about your marathon training this go around? Have you looked back and compared to where you were at this stage in your last preparation?"

Well, at this time during the last build I had just decided to run an "easy" marathon race six weeks out from my goal marathon. I won't be making that mistake again. I guess my feelings about my fitness at this point are fairly close to how I felt last time around, which is that I feel I can certainly take a beating, but I can't necessarily give a beating.

What I mean is that the legs feel like they're finally trained enough to stand up to difficult circumstances (like a 24 miler or a tough workout), but they're not quite to the point where they can dish out the sort of punishment necessary to break new ground in the form of a marathon PR. There's enough confidence and fitness to give a wry smile when 16 miles are on the docket, but I'm feeling it at 12 miles and staring at another two miles of uphill before the remaining road levels out (this morning). I can finish the run, I can do the workout, and I can usually manage the paces, but the questions of how much each effort takes out of me and how much stronger each run makes me still remain.

I don't feel like I'm topping out yet (in spirit or in effort), and I'm thankful to still have 6 1/2 weeks of training ahead of me to fine-tune and hopefully grab that last 3-4% I need to get down around 2h35m for the marathon. Mystery Coach is micro-managing the workouts during these last 10 weeks with what appears to me to be more of an eye on my recovery and adaptation than the actual times of the workouts (Axiom Number Two, anyone?) Until now the efforts have been fairly few and far-between, though it looks like the screw will get turned a bit starting next week. With this approach I'm finding myself looking forward to the remaining efforts, which is where I want to be, instead of just looking forward to the hard training being over.

16.5 miles, 1h52m, 6:54 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 (Rallied at the end)
Weather: 67 degrees, 55 dew-point (perfect)

9/17/08 pm., 6.2 miles in 42:30, felt easy

13 miles, 1h29m, 6:53 pace, w/3x2 minute surges, hilly run up Sabino Canyon
Sleep: 7.5h 7/10
Legs: 7/10

9/16/08 pm., 4.25 miles at 6:45 pace (downhill all the way to pick up my car)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


12 miles, 1h22m, 6:56 pace
Resting HR: 39 (back to normal)
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 6/10 Still a little heavy
Weather: 71 degrees, 55 dew-point

10 miles, 1h11m, 7:06 pace
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 6/10 Heavy
Weather: 74 degrees, hella-windy

Just marking time for a few runs while I recover from the long run. The legs felt pretty flat on Monday, but running into a devil wind for most of the morning seemed to exacerbate the discomfort. Today's run went better, but I still didn't have too much snap in my step. I'm hoping for a second run today, but unfortunately it will be whatever distance it is between my work and the repair shop where our car is getting getting new brakes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


24 miles, 2h46m, 7:01 pace
Resting HR: 42 (still a little high)
Sleep: 7h, 6/10 (still getting multiple wake-up calls from the kids)
Legs: 9/10 Felt like I was holding back the whole way
Weather: 68 degrees, 55 dew-point (So nice)

Very nice long run with the gang today. I was a little flat during the first 6 mile loop, but after picking up Scott for the second part of the run I just kept feeling better and better. This was a hilly one around my neighborhood, but I felt strong on all the uphills. It was really nice to still have some energy left in the legs even during the final few miles. This ended a good week:

Mo: 13 w/preliminary speed bursts
Tu: 13 w/7 miles of cruise intervals
We: 10, 6
Th: 14 easy
Fr: 12 w/preliminary speed bursts
Sa: 10 w/7 at 5:50 pace
Su: 24
Total: 102 in 8 sessions

I'm off for a drive up to Phoenix to see a Diamondbacks game, woohoo!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mike Learns a New Trick

While I couldn't get my Mac to agree with Ewen's cool graphing program, I finally figured out how to do one of these on my own. Yes, I'm pathetic with computers.

Mystery Coach has been assigning a seven mile effort on the day before my long run each week, so I figured it might be time to compare the last four (including the workout this morning). 8/23's run was supposed to be at a constant 155 heart rate, 8/27 was planned as 6:10 pace or faster if I felt like it, and 9/5 called for 6-flat pace. Today's run was our first try at hitting Mystery Coach's marathon pace minus 10 seconds pace of 5:52.

I felt quite good during the first half of the run along the river path, and I kept finding myself a bit ahead of schedule on the paces before easing off. During mile five I could feel the effort, but knew that I'd survive without draining the tank too much. With that being said, miles six and seven felt tougher than I feel they should have. I could feel I was over the red-line (or my maximum steady-state) for both of these miles, and chances are I crossed over somewhere towards the end of mile five.

Comparing the numbers above is a bit of an apples to oranges affair, but I do notice some trends. During the past three weeks the heart rate seems to have stabilized around 6 minute pace, which is good news if I want to run the same old 2h37m marathon in two weeks. Luckily for me, though, I still have seven more weeks until the NYC marathon. This means five more weeks to fine tune things, and even if the gains during the upcoming weeks slow under the increased volume I should still find myself ahead of where I was going into the Phoenix marathon in January.

10 miles, 1h01m, 7 mile effort at 5:49(151HR), 5:51(155), 5:48(157), 5:50(159), 5:50(162), 5:49(165), 5:50(167)
Sleep: 7.5h 6/10 ("Honey, is there a law against tying children in their beds?"
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 68 degrees, 58 dew-point

12 miles, 1h21m, 6:51 pace, 2/2x45 second bursts, 2x2 minute bursts (long recoveries)
Resting HR: 42
Sleep: 8h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 65 degrees, 65 dew-point

Thursday, September 11, 2008


14 miles, 1h38m, 6:54 pace, 140HR
Resting HR: 47 (Way high)
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 69 degrees, 65 dew-point

9/10 pm., 6.2 miles in 43 minutes, felt easy

10 miles, 1h11m, 7:07 pace
Sleep: 5h 4/10
Legs: 5/10 (see line above)
Weather: 76 degrees, 60 dew-point

Tuesday's workout tired me out a bit more than I thought it would, but instead of hitting the sack early that evening I ended up going to see Squeeze after Kiera won tickets by calling in to a radio contest. Yes, I fully realize any shred of indie cred I used to have has vanished after blogging about seeing Squeeze, Ringo Starr and Hall & Oates over the past few years. Thanks to Duncan's recommendation I did catch Wolf Parade though (apparently he just saw them too).

Anyway, the combination of the workout on Tuesday and a very short night of sleep following it made Wednesday's morning run a dragging slog of sorts. I had originally planned on running 16 miles, but I just never settled in and kept finding myself wishing was done. The legs felt tired and the motivation just wasn't there, so rather than forcing it I called it at 10 miles. The evening run with the group went much better, probably because of a quick shower beforehand that dropped the temperature down into the 80's.

This morning I didn't feel great upon waking, and I was surprised to find my heart rate up at 47BPM, much above the 38-39 I've been at for the past few weeks. I decided I decided to just run easy for as long as I felt good, which ended up being 14 miles. I brought along the heart rate monitor, but the readings were about normal with a 140 average for the run. This morning's data could just be an anomaly, but combined with my general irritability over the past few days and my lack of good sleep I think it's safe to say I'm a bit behind in my recovery. Hopefully a good night's rest and an easy run tomorrow will put me right for the weekend runs.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


13 miles, 1h25m, workout
1 mile 6:04 (2min), 1 mile 6:02 (2min), 1 mile 5:59(2min), 1200 in 4:23(1min), 800 in 2:52(1min), 1 mile in 5:42(2min), 1 mile in 5:42(2min), 1 mile in 5:41
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 7/10 A little fatigued but plenty for the workout
Weather: 76 degrees, 59 dew-point

13 miles, 1h31m, 7:03 pace, w/2x45 second bursts, 2x2 minute bursts (long rests)
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 6/10 A little fatigued
Weather: 75 degrees, 57 dew-point

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:05 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 73 degrees, 58 dew-point

Today's workout (top) is about as close as I get to cruise intervals under Mystery Coach's tutelage. The marathon pace workout this weekend switches to MP-10 seconds, which will mean running at 5:52 pace or so for 7 miles. This workout got me down to that pace (and faster) with the benefit of some short rest intervals. I still seemed to have a little fatigue left in the legs, but the lungs really responded well to the workout. No heart rate data to work with, but we'll have to survive. This was a continuous run where I jogged in the outside lane during all the recovery intervals, which meant almost 9 miles of spinning around the track. I think I'll give the oval a break for at least a few days.

Yesterday's run was a pleasant 12 miles with some preliminary speed thrown in, and while it wasn't too taxing I just never made it to the gym for a second run. Sunday's run to end the week was another uneventful 12. Here's how last week went down:

Mo: 11 (8 mile race)
Tu: 12
We: 16, 6
Th: 10 (preliminary speed), dragged a bit
Fr: 11 w/7 around 6min pace
Sa: 18 w/10 at 6:38 pace then 7 around 6min pace
Su: 12
Total: 96 in 8 sessions

The miles were down again for the second week, but considering the race on Monday and the workouts on Friday and Saturday I'd say the overall volume was probably the most I've done this build.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Coming Around

Today's run was the second half of Mystery Coach's famous back to back workout. After seven miles around current marathon pace yesterday, I tried for ten miles steady plus seven more miles at 6:10-6:15 pace this morning. The coach gave me some leeway to shift the paces according to how I felt, and as luck would have it I felt GOOD.

The first ten was slated for 6:35-6:40 pace, and it took some monitoring to keep to what eventually ended up being 6:38 pace. The legs wanted to go a little faster, but thinking ahead to the next seven miles kept them relatively in check.

I decided to break the seven mile effort into four segments: 3 x 2 miles then 1 x 1 mile, run continuously of course. The first two breezed by in 12:07 and felt very easy, probably because of the net downhill. Miles three and four went by in 12:12, and it took a little bit of concentration to keep on pace. Miles five and six turned uphill about half-way through, and while I could feel the heart rate climbing a bit it felt good to dig in a little (12:02). I suffered the uphill on mile six en route to the track to run the last mile, where I ignored the pace and just tried to feel the effort. Again I could feel the heart rate bump up a little, but it felt good to finish the effort feeling strong with a 5:50.

When I stepped off the track I waited for my heart rate to drop to 120, but for some reason it seemed to stick at 125 from about 60 seconds all the way to 1:50, when it finally fell to 120. This might have a been a techno-glitch, but I guess it's something to note.

During the one mile cool-down back to the house I contemplated adding two more slow miles to even out the run at 20, but after thinking about the effort today, plus yesterday's run and the race on Monday I just headed home to start recovering.

I feel like I've gained a bit of a bump in fitness over the past two weeks, so it's going to take some good planning to keep the upward trajectory without overdoing it. I think I can hear Mystery Coach crunching the numbers right now from his undisclosed location.

18 miles, 1h55m, around 6:23 pace
10 at 6:38 pace (148HR), then 2 miles in 12:07(147HR), 2 in 12:12(153), 2 in 12:02(157), 1 at 5:50(161), 1:51 to 120HR (stuck at 125 for almost a minute)
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 75 degrees, 48 dew-point

Friday, September 05, 2008


11 miles, 1h11m, 7 mile effort in 5:59(151HR), 5:59(150), 6:00(151), 5:59(153), 5:57(154), 5:59(154), 5:58(153), :50 seconds to 120HR
Resting HR: 38
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 7/10 Touch of soreness deep in low-quads and calf muscles
Weather: 71 degrees, 55 dew-point (getting much better)

Some good data on the heart rate front this morning, though I'm guessing it probably has as much to do with the improved weather as any improvement in fitness. The past few marathon pace runs have been on hot and humid days, so today's excellent conditions were a pleasant surprise. Don't think I'm too lucky here though, as it's still getting up to 98 or 100 degrees each afternoon.

Mystery Coach suggested 6 minute pace for 7 miles today, and I decided to hit the track to get some Garmin-free (read: accurate) data. I've been a bit concerned about the heart rate drifting too close to (or into) the 160's during these efforts, so today's results were a good surprise (see above). I felt good, though not particularly fresh throughout the effort, and the only hitch seemed to come at a bit past three miles when I seemed to start breathing a bit heavier. This seems to correspond with a bit of a jump in the heart rate that remained through the rest of the effort. The recovery to 120 after the effort definitely felt better, though again I think the cooler conditions played a major role.

While the miles for the week are taking a hit, it felt good to take yesterday easy in light of today's run and the 17 miler with 7 around marathon pace on the books for tomorrow. As the coach mentioned, there really aren't all that many workouts on the calendar for the remaining weeks, so I'm trying to do a bit more to ensure I'm ready for an effort when the day comes.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


10 miles, 1h10m, 7:02 pace w/2x :45, 1x2min, 2x :45 bursts
Resting HR: 38
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 6/10 Kind of dragging
Weather: 76 degrees, 59 dew-point

9/3/08 pm., 6.2 miles easy

16 miles, 1h53m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10 (woke up tired)
Legs: 6/10
Weather: 75 degrees, 60 dew-point

It seems I might have dragged my recovery from the race out longer by over-doing the miles yesterday, so I took the advice I usually give others and cut my run short today. There's no specific pain to speak of, other than some usual low-grade soreness from the race on Monday. However, I just didn't feel much like pushing hard through the preliminary speed during the run, which I took as a sign that I just needed to back off a little.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Results are up for the Saguaro 8-mile race I ran yesterday. Temperatures were low, but the humidity was stifling; so much so that we were actually running through a misty fog at the course's lowest points. This is the hilliest race I've ever done, and while it's a ton of fun it's also a real leg-breaker.

I managed to knock 44 seconds off my PR, which was set last year during my run-up to Twin Cities. As I've gotten into the second half of my 30's (I'm 37 now), the PR's haven't come nearly as quickly or as often, so I enjoy bagging one when I can.

I collected splits, but decided beforehand to just run as hard as I could without checking on my progress over the miles. I could definitely feel the boost some of the turnover workouts have given me during the early downhill portions, but when the road finally tilted down during the last few miles I just didn't have the strength or energy left to really take advantage. I'm hoping the next month of training will take care of that to some degree, as it felt like I was really moving in slow motion towards the end.

This morning was an easy 12, and during the run I could feel some of the muscle damage from the race. This one will take a few days to clear from the system, so I'm spending the first part of the week just running easy.

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 5/10 Didn't expect any better
Weather: 72 degrees, 66 dew-point

11 miles, w/8 mile race in 46:43, 5:50 pace, 6th place
5:14, 5:22, 5:36, 6:08, 6:41, 5:50, 5:55, 5:53
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 74 degrees, 66 dew-point

Sunday, August 31, 2008


10 miles, 1h11m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 9h 10/10 YEEHAAAW!
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 75 degrees, 66 dew-point

Nice, easy run this morning after a long, full night of sleep. Gotta hope it's a recipe for success tomorrow, as a bunch of the local guys will be out for the kill. A good end to a slightly lighter week. Here's how things went down:

Mo: 12 easy, 5 easy (sick)
Tu: 12 (still feeling sick)
We: 11 w/7 at 6:02 pace
Th: 20 at 6:40 pace
Fr: 12 easy
Sa: 12 at 6:38 pace
Su: 10 easy
Total: 94 miles in 8 sessions

Saturday, August 30, 2008


12 miles, 1h19m, 6:38 pace, w/3x90 second bursts, last mile at 5:50 or so
Sleep: 5.5h 6/10 (still falling behind)
Legs: 9/10 Man I felt good
Weather: 78 degrees, 58 dew-point

I decided to put in some preliminary speed-work two days in a row, mostly because I just felt good and wanted to run a bit faster today. Canceling a few doubles this week seems to be giving me a boost, which might help me come race day on Monday. I also think going into the race with a bit less fatigue might help me recover faster afterwards (we'll see how this part works out). I haven't raced since May, so I'll be on the line Monday with a smile on my face, gladly willing to suffer.

I was out until midnight last night trying out a rehearsal space for what will eventually be a new band I'll be in. It's been two years since my last performance (a 10-year reunion show with my old band), and ever since I've been threatening a return to making noise. I've been able to write some new tunes, but getting other musicians to commit and finding a place to rehearse has been a struggle until now. Last night was the first practice, which was pretty much me playing the new tunes to the drummer, who is also a good friend. Making a loud racket for three hours or so without any complaints from family or neighbors was a joy, and I can't wait to get the rest of the group in the same room playing together. It felt like finally taking the line to race after miles and miles of solo training.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Almost Like I Planned It

After three solid weeks of decent mileage it looks like I'm falling off a bit for this week. Feeling sick on Monday and Tuesday led me canceling the planned double and weights/plyometrics on Tuesday, then Mystery Coach and I moved up the marathon pace workout and long run to Wednesday-Thursday to get it out of the way before the race on Monday. This has put me back to one run a day for the week, and it seems as good a time as any for it. For those who think I never take a recovery week, this is Exibit A.

Thursday's long run was a solo journey of 20 miles, which is something I've been able to avoid most weeks by running with the other guys heading to New York. This time I had no takers for the 4:45 departure time, which allowed me to get back in time to bike Haiden to school. It ended up being a good run, with each mile along the way going by a bit faster than the one before it. I ran out of road before running out of gas, which I always take as a good sign.

I've kept up my preliminary speed-work this week, including 6x45 second bursts this morning during my 12 miles. I ran the rest of the way fairly slowly to give myself a chance to recover from the effort of Wednesday and the long run yesterday.

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace, w/6x45 second bursts, two every 15 minutes w/3 min recovery
Sleep: 7h 8/10 (finally)
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 72 degrees, 66 dew-point

20 miles, 2h11m, 6:40 pace
Sleep: 5.5h 6/10
Legs 8/10
Weather: 74 degrees, 65 dew-point

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Ever since Sunday night I've felt like I've had a bit of whatever sickness the kids kept us up with last week, which seems to involve headaches, a sore throat and a general malaise. I seemed to escape Monday's run unscathed, even with the cautious speed-work thrown in, but it really hit in earnest on Tuesday after a bit of time throwing up on Monday night. As a result I ran very easily on Tuesday and canceled both my planned double and the weights/plyometrics session for later in the day. I was glad I did, as I felt a bit achy later in the evening.

Luckily, today I woke up feeling ready to run again. I met Lucas down on the river path for 7 miles of marathon-ish pace work, which was in line with what he had planned. After two very slow warm up miles in very humid conditions we got to it, and while the first two miles seemed a bit tough for the speed I finally started feeling good by the fourth mile.

The average heart rates for each mile are listed below, and it was nice to see them staying under 160 for the first five miles. Ideally I'd like to be able to get through the first 10 miles of the marathon before hitting a 160 heart rate, but at this point I'm not sure if that's going to be in the cards.

I am racing this coming Monday, so I'm planning on getting the long run out of the way tomorrow in order to have fairly fresh legs for the punishment. Here's the course profile:

Even with those pretty colors it still looks like a bear.

11 miles, 1h10m, 7 miles at 6:07(143HR), 6:03(152), 6:04(152), 6:02(155), 6:02(158), 6:03(161),6:00(161)
Sleep: 5.5h 5/10 (coughing too much)
Legs: 7/10 A little slow to come around but good after 3 miles
Weather: 73 degrees, 66 dew-point (really felt the humidity)

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:11 pace
Sleep: 4h 2/10 Throwing up and sore throat
Legs: 6/10 Slow slog needed, slow slog taken
Weather: 75 degrees, 65 dew-point

8/25/08 (late morning), 5 miles slow on the treadmill (around 7:50 pace)

12 miles, 1h23m, 6:59 pace, w/2x50 second bursts, 2 x 1:40 fartlek
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 8/10 Good for day after back to back
Weather: 74 degrees, 64 dew-point

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Track Bullies

Today's workout: 10 second argument x 8, repeat every 2 1/2 minutes

Honestly, I wish I would have handled myself better, and I even said as much to Kiera.

Me: "Say you are on the track, walk/running your dog with a leash..."
Kiera: "What am I doing on the track with a dog? That doesn't make any sense! Who runs their dog on a track?"

I continue with the story about me having an argument every lap and a half with this particular gentleman, who for some reason is intent on occupying most of lane two while his dog takes up all of lane one. Both are tethered together with one of those expand-o-leashes. ...And yes, of course he's wearing headphones. There's also a giant metal sign attached to the fence around the track and playing fields at the school which prohibits dogs.

"On your left", I call the first time, and the dog mercifully grants me passage on the inside while the owner ignores me. "Excuse me", I call back to him while looking him in the eye. Next time around he's ready for me, but as I call "track" again he starts to squeeze against his dog and move INSIDE as I'm doing the same thing. Harsh words are exchanged about "common courtesy" from both parties, and I'm left shouting back to him that slower-moving runners should move to the outside lanes when faster runners come through. This startles the poor guy I'm coming up on next, who jumps from lane 5 to lane 8. I apologize to him and give a breathless synopsis of my situation and he seems to understand my plight. Next time around headphone-dog guy is somehow running backwards and yelling about faster runners moving to the outside and we hash it out again (though he has moved over to lanes two and three at this point). I yell that dogs aren't even supposed to be on the track, but that either doesn't sink in or he doesn't believe me. The angry mutterings and arguing repeats roughly every lap and a half, and I'm stressed, hot and pretty pissed off by the time I finish.

This episode took place during miles 14-16 of my long run, which was supposed to be a marathon pace (with adjustment) workout where I ran the first ten at 6:50 pace and the last six at 6:20-6:25. After the first ten went well I figured I could run the second half of the six miles of effort on the track to collect some data on how I'm handling the pace in the latter stages of a run. The data below shows how adrenaline, impatience and surging blood pressure affects a run.

17.5 miles, 1h54m(ish)
10 rolling miles at 6:47 pace and 142HR, then 6:15(153HR), 6:16(157), 6:13(161), then three on the track at 5:54(168), 5:49(172), 5:53(172)
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (sore throat kept me awake)
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 82 degrees, 59 dew-point

In short, I ran past the purpose of the workout. Afterwards I ran a mile and a half home, but what I should have done is run alongside this guy and explained my position. I should have apologized for raising my voice and turning it into a shouting match, as that's certainly not the way adults should behave. Instead I left in a huff, and he'll go home thinking he's right and that I'm an arrogant tool. Meanwhile I'll go home and google "track etiquette" and find solace in the fact that the tubes of the internet agree with me. No one wins.

Aside from failed track diplomacy, it was a good week:
Mo: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
Mo: 5 slow
Tu: 10.5 w/4 mile evaluation in 6:09, 6:18, 6:20, 6:17
Tu: 5 slow, plus weights/plyometrics
We: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
We: 6.2
Th: 16 very hilly
Fr: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
Sa: 11 w/7 miles at 156HR (5:50-6:25 pace)
Su: 17.5 w/10 at 6:47 pace, 6 at adjusted marathon pace
Total: 107 in 10 sessions

I cut out a planned weight session and one double, which seemed to leave space for the increased time around marathon pace as well as the preliminary speed-work. Now if this sore throat doesn't turn into whatever sickness the kids have I should be fine. Enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


11 miles, around 1h14m (watch got out of synch)
7 miles in 5:50(155HR), 6:12(157), 6:13(156), 6:20(157), 6:21(156),6:25(156), 6:24(156), 3:26 to 120HR
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 9/10 Fresh
Weather: 82 degrees, 64 dew-point

First day of my return to back to back marathon pace(ish) workouts, so I celebrated by running 28 laps on the track while pushing buttons on the watch. The goal was 7 miles at 156 heart rate, and you can see the official results above.

Mid-way through mile 4 I had the urge to keep the pace at at 6:15 or so, but the heart rate seemed to drift up towards 158 when I did so. I was glad to see the paces level out at the end, and I think the first mile's quick time was due to starting from a 140 heart rate.

The recovery time to a 120 heart rate after the 7 miles seems wrong, though it was very sunny, hot and humid as I was standing on the edge of the track watching the monitor's numbers slowly count back down from 150. I'll keep an eye on this next week to see if it was just a fluke, as I felt relaxed when I finished.

Tomorrow's plan calls for 10 miles steady plus six miles of current marathon pace, which should be interesting. The coach has warned that this first step back towards these workouts might be taxing, so I'm anxious to see how it goes.

Speaking of Mystery Coach, I'd like to thank him for posting the general training plan, and I encourage all interested readers to pepper him with questions to get him back to work on "Ask the Mystery Coach Mondays".

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:10 pace, w/6x40 second bursts
Resting HR: 40
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (sick Finn again)
Legs: 6/10 Light on sleep, heavy on feet
Weather: 78 degrees, 65 dew-point

16 miles, 1h55m, 7:05 pace, 146HR, Very hilly run to the top of Sabino Canyon
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 76 degrees, 59 dew-point (nice)

8/20/08 pm., 6.2 miles in 90 degree weather around 6:50 pace

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:05 pace, w/6x40 second bursts
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 8/10

8/19/08 late morning, 5 miles easy on treadmill, 7:50 pace, plyometrics and 45 minutes of weights.