Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday: AM: 7 miles PM: 8 miles w/ 7xhill Sunday: 17 miles


AM: 7 miles, easy/moderate pace.  Felt a little of that dull ache characteristic of running just the right amount.

PM: 8 miles total with 7xhill @ 0.25 miles per repeat, 5 uphill and 2 downhill.  I actually bounced back pretty well for this one.  I did the run at the Loch Raven Reservoir, using a hill by the dam.


17 miles, 1:55 overall, 6:46/mile average.  I also did this run at the Loch Raven Reservoir and contended with rolling hills the whole way.  I started to hit my stride well after about 14 miles.  It was a bit of a struggle before that.  The hills and the week probably combined for that.

Overall, I am not feeling run down or seeing any evidence of overuse.  I am however, beginning to experience the burn.  At this point, based on my last year experience, I'm in the phase where it may get a bit worse but will eventually level off.  Beyond that point, the pain will still be there, but it won't really matter as much.  I'll just get used to it.

One thing is for sure, I'm going to stop upping my weekly mileage for now and keep it in the high 70s to low 80s range for the next 3 weeks and see how I feel.  I should make note that this was my 18th consecutive day of running, more than I've ever run in a row.  If I need a day off, or possibly a cut back week before the end of February, I'll take it.  However, I'm not there yet!

Total weekly mileage: 86  RUN MORE!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

2002-2003 Part 4: High School, Year 3: Trying to get better

Since I never really ran that much over the summer, I would always come into the cross country season "behind."  My times would usually be slower than my best from the previous year, and it would take most of the season before I started running PR performances again.  However, by the end of the season, I did end up breaking 19 minutes in the 3 mile and 20 minutes in the 5K on our usual tough cross country course.  I remember our team tried to make a real effort to win some meets and actually go somewhere.  We managed a 0.500 record, the first time I was ever on a team that actually won a couple of meets.  We also had one of our best runners go down twice during races with seizures.  The cause was eventually nailed down to medication he was taking.  It was rather unsettling to see a good friend go through that.

I also have one memory of us going into NYC to run a race in Van Cortland Park.  We had just received new uniforms, but of course, it was raining a lot that day.  The entire course ended up being a massive mud pit.  The first half mile of the course ran through an open field which was almost completely covered in ankle deep water.  Needless to say, we ruined those uniforms.  The head football coach was actually impressed that we were still running in that weather!

I don't have all my times for that winter track season, but I did get and stay under 5:30 for the mile and 12:00 for the 3200.  I also participated in more than a few 4x800 relays as well.  After some thinking, I realized that I got sick in the middle of the season!  I ended up coming down with the flu.  It took a week before I could even get out of bed, and even longer than that before I could run again.  I remember having such a hacking cough for a week or so afterward and running would just make it worse.  I ended up loosing a bit of weight during that sickness and remember having hydration issues at the start of spring track.

Spring track brought about more of the same at least once my hydration issues were fixed.  I dealt with some absolutely awful cramping early in the season.  It took me a while to realize that my body was still out of whack from that sickness.  Once more serious things were ruled out, I basically drowned myself in water until my body returned to normal and stopped cramping.  Knock on wood, 2003 is the last time I was truly sick with a fever.  I've had nothing more than sore throats and minor colds since.

In our dual meets against one other school, I frequently ran the mile towards the beginning of the meet and the 4x800 relay by the end.  It was pretty manageable since I had time to recover between the events.  My sophomore year mile PR was a 5:16 run at an invitational meet at St. Anthony's High School.  In my junior year, I once again PRed on the same track, running a 5:14 during a 4xmile relay.  I blamed my slowed progress on that sickness and knew I would have to work hard as I only had one more year to try and get that sub-5 minute goal.

My senior year is up next, and with it, the end of my first running life.  Things start to get more interesting after that.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday: AM: 4.5 miles PM: 10 Miles...and some Plan B for Tomorrow

AM: 4.5 miles..easy/moderate pace.  I'm starting to feel ever so slightly, the onset of that dull aching soreness that seems characteristic of consistent high mileage.  I am far from "recovery debt" but things are finally starting to get ineresting!

PM: 10 miles.  Though much of the snow is melting away in the city, I did not have a cleared track to do some speedwork on today.  I did actually check!  After feeling exhausted in the afternoon, I took a quick 2 hour nap, felt substantially better and cranked out a rather hilly 10 miles at moderate pace.  I still feel strong and the ache was not quite as bad this afternoon, so my body is still keeping up with the miles.

It's interesting that I just read a blog post from "Run Girl Run" about always having a Plan B, especially in the winter months (which you can see on my blog list!).  Well thanks to this freaking snow, my plan B is officially in effect.  I'm ditching my track work for the week and will be replacing it with an equivalent mileage hill workout tomorrow afternoon.  Running 10 miles this afternoon helped make it all possible.  Doing it on the weekend gives me a chance to get out of Baltimore City and pick out a real nasty hill to pummel my legs into oblivion; should be good!  I'll save the missed ladder workout for another week!

Honestly, it beats my other idea which was to mark a 0.5 mile straightaway with some cones as measured by my car and do repeats on that.  I really hate doing speedwork away from a track.  Looks like I'm on track for my first 80 mile week of the year, and over 300 miles for the month.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday: 9 miles

I was so used to the horrible winter last year that I forgot how quickly small amounts of snow can be cleared, especially in a city.  I only had to deal with minimal snow covered sidewalks and had to jump and dodge a few snow piles, but overall, I got a rather solid run in.

I was a little tired and a little sore, probably from trudging through the snow yesterday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday: 7 miles, snow, snow, wind, snow, and lightning?

Today probably wasn't one of my better judgement calls.  Despite being in the middle of a winter storm warning, with snow falling at a rate of an inch an hour with gusting winds and lots of snow already on the ground, I decided to go out for 7 miles rather than use a treadmill.

Tells you how much I loathe treadmillls.  I didn't even bother to time the run.  When I actually had a chance to run in the roads and stick to tire tracks, I could actually hit my normal stride and pace.  However, about half the run was done trudging through ankle deep snow which certainly made for a good workout.

Additionally, anytime I ran northbound, the wind would blow all that snow and ice into my face, making me feel like I was running through a hail of pebbles.  Of course, I also had to avoid cars and jump off the stable footing of the roads and onto ankle deep snow on sidewalks.  With the general incompetence of drivers in snow, I certainly was not taking any chances!

I got some strange looks, some words of encouragement, made better time than two cars driving (or skidding) up Eutaw Place and even almost got struck by lightning, twice.  There were 4 lightning strikes on my run two of which seemed to flash directly in front of me.  Both times, I was completely blinded by a flash of blue light only to have thunder crash overhead a moment later.  I could almost feel the air popping with the clashes of thunder.

I guess Nature had it in for me today.  Too bad she failed to strike me down!!!

I may have to push off tomorrow's speedwork to Friday so I can try and find some clear pavement.  10mph treadmills are just too slow for that...


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday: AM: 5.5 miles PM: 7 MIles Tuesday: 11.5 miles with 6 @ tempo pace

AM: 5.5 miles.  Easy-ish pace, no soreness from the race on Sunday.  Still had to battle through bitter cold weather.

PM: 7 miles, 48:34, 6:56 pace.  Felt really strong, though towards the end, my right quad tightened up a bit.  I'm sure the cold weather is doing a number on my muscles.

Tuesday:  11.5 miles total with 2x3 miles @ tempo pace.  It took me a bit to get into this run, but after the warmup, I rocked the workout portion.

First 3 miler: 16:51 overall, 8:33, 8:18 (1.5 mile splits), 5:37 pace
Second 3 miler: 17:03 overall, 8:39, 8:24; 5:41 pace

I ran this workout in my pair of Brooks T6 Racers, a neutral road racing flat.  My usual flat is well over 200 miles and overdue for retirement.  I've been experimenting with the neutral shoe to see how it goes.  My back was a bit sore afterward, so clearly I'm still not quite ready to try and use them more.  Though while running, they certainly felt awesome.

I need to buy 2 or 3 more pairs of racing flats, they only last about 2.5 months at the rate I'm using them!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friday: 4 + 10.4 miles (7xhill) Saturday: 8 miles Sunday: 16 Total

AM: 4 miles, 7:30 pace.

PM: 7xhill with 5 uphill and 2 downhill repeats.  10.4 miles total, 0.4 miles per repeat.   This was done in a cold biting wind, with windchill dipping into the teens.  It was also at 8:30 at night after a long day at work.  Despite everything, it was a solid run.

8 miles, easy pace.  Once again, the weather was bitterly cold.  Thankfully there was no wind, but once again, temperatures were in the lower teens.

Sunday: 8 mile race + 8 more miles, 16 total

First the race.  I'm not doing a race report since there is not all that much to report.  It was an 8 miler (oddball distance) at the Loch Raven Reservoir.  It was the first race of the Baltimore Road Runner's Club grand prix series.  It was an out and back course with 3 challenging hills.  Temperatures at the start were about 13 degrees.  It was so cold that in the 5 minutes I had to wait between warming up and the start of the race, my muscles cooled off.

There was only 1 mile marker, at mile 1.  We went through in a rather pedestrian 6:22.  I was neck and neck with one other runner, dropped the hammer at that point and never looked back.  I ended up winning by over a minute.  The guy who finished second was just getting over a cold and I fully expect a better fight out of him in future races!  I ran a 47:23 overall for 5:55 pace on a cold and hilly course.  In 2010, I ran a 51:14 and in 2009 I ran a 54:54, so there's some progress for you.

After the race, I recollected myself and went back out on the course again to get 16 total for the day.  The last 8 were un-timed but felt good.

Total miles for the week: 74.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

7 Miles? After a long day...fine....

As always, my schedule is constantly flipping around.  One of these days, I'm actually going to hit all my runs in the week on the days I want.

7 miles, 48:12 6:53 pace.

Done after a long, long day at work and other activities.  Not so bad only an hour after consuming 5 slices of pizza.  Though it wasn't heavy pizza, so it actually made for good running fuel.

This makes 8 days in a row running.  10 days is my record which I hope to shatter by continuing to forgo a day of rest.  I will of course, stay in tune with my body and back off if it asks.

I feel good and my paces haven't changed, so all is good!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

4 Miles (No Rest!!)

Today officially begins a new milestone in training, running 7 days a week.

4 Miles: 29:32;  7:23 pace

The best way to slow me down on easy days is to run hard on those hard days!  I was feeling that tempo run a bit today.  For once though, I ran an easy run at the pace I wanted to.

No off day this week, no off day next week.  I'll keep a close eye on how I respond, but I feel about the same I would had I taken the day off.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday: 11.5 miles with 6 @ Tempo Pace

Somehow, I managed to avoid the nasty ice storm that swept through Baltimore.  The afternoon was quite a pleasant time to run with temperatures in the upper 30s.  I consider that warm in the winter.  This was actually my first tempo run in a few weeks.  It was also the first that I did in intervals rather than one continuous run, just to mix things up a bit.

The workout was 2x3 miles with 1.5 miles worth of easy running between each interval.  Around the 1.5 mile loop of the lake in Druid Hill Park, here are the splits:

8:27; 8:27....16:53 overall, 5:38/mile pace

8:40; 8:40....17:20 overall, 5:47/mile pace

The second set was a tad slow, though I really just need to get used to this type of workout.  For a change, I didn't go out too fast (sub-8:15).  Overall, it was solid work and I think the mileage I'm running is starting to help control my tendency to run too fast.  This is a good thing!


Monday, January 17, 2011

A call to VOTE!!! (and some more mileage....)

Pepsi is giving out money to various worthy causes via the Pepsi Refresh Project.  They have a series of ideas on their website for which you can vote for.  At the end of the month, the top 10 ideas with the most votes is awarded $50,000 to realize their idea.  One of my former High School cross country and track coaches, Joe Tole, founder of the Joseph Toles Foundation has an idea up on the site.  Here is a link where you can read about his specific idea, "to provide a camping experience for children living in foster care."

Most importantly, that's where you can vote!  I've been voting nearly everyday since I heard about this, but they need more help.  All my former coaches helped shape me into the runner I am today, and wouldn't think twice about providing my support to Coach Toles!

Here is a link to the Foundation's website:

Spread the word on Facebook and any other social media you may use.  We have until the end of the month to catch the leaders, but we need votes!!!!  I always prefer to catch the leaders rather than start out as one in a race anyway.

Now for the mundane business as usual....

Wow, life is easy when you have a day off from work.

AM: 4 miles, 28:14 overall, 7:08 pace.  I was a bit tired during this run, that's what I get for going to bed too late the night before.

PM: 7 miles, 47:07,  6:54 pace.  Felt a lot better during this run with a strong finish overall.

I'm still far away from feeling any soreness.  We'll see how a 70+ mile week treats me.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday: 8 miles

I know it's winter when I'm running in the Loch Raven Reservoir area.  It is actually quite an awesome place to run.  The scenery is great, it's quite peaceful, and there are some good hills in the area.  There is also very little traffic since the area is remote.  The park rangers even close off one section of road to cars to allow people to run and walk in the area.

However, I only run there in the winter when I can't hit up the NCR Trail due to snow.  Therefore, I associate Loch Raven with a cold biting wind and disappointment since I can't run at my favorite location.  Oh well...

8 miles; 54:14, 6:47/mile pace.  Not bad with those hills.

Week: 66.75 miles.  Next week, I'll go north of 70 and hopefully, never look back, save one breather week for the RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge at the end of February.  That should up my average weekly mileage for sure!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday: 4 + 8 (6xhill) Saturday: 6 + 15 miles


AM: 4 miles, 27:15; 6:49/mile pace with 5x 75m strides.  My knee was stiff in the cold morning but those strides did wonders and cleared it up.

PM: 6xhill, 0.4 miles each, 4 uphill repeats, 2 downhill repeats, 8 miles total.  Downhill repeats are certainly not any easier than uphill ones!  I felt "worked" at the end, so I guess the run did it's job.


Normally, one should not double up on their long run day.  However, I had not done a Saturday morning run with the Back on My Feet crew in what seemed like forever, and at the last moment, I didn't have to be at work at 6 in the morning.  Instead, I could go in whenever I wanted and only needed to put in about 4 hours instead of 12.

I celebrated by running twice on Saturday!

AM: 6 miles, easy/moderate pace

PM: 15 miles, 1:38, 6:32 average.  I did this run within Baltimore City since the NCR Trail is currently not runnable (2-3 inches of snow) and I didn't feel like driving up to Loch Raven at 4:30 in the afternoon.  My 15 miler made for quite a hilly run, going through Druid Hill Park and then down to Patterson Park.  I had problems with cramps and an upset stomach most of the way and felt pretty exhausted on the last 2 miles.  Yet somehow, I matched my pace from last week on a flat course.

The double was probably a bit much, but I think I handled it alright.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday: 6.75 Miles (3xmile)

I was able to get out to the track today since it wasn't snowing.  Lanes 1-4 on the front straightaway were covered in ice but the rest of the track was clear.  I was able to hit lane 1 on the turns and the back straight, but had to go wide on that front stretch each time.

2.5 mile warm up, 1.5 mile cool down, 4:00 rest, splits:

5:42; 5:24; 5:24

There was some wind, but that 5:42 sucked.  Overall though, I felt decent even if I didn't quite hit the times I wanted.  With some more track work, my consistency will return!

I have made a decision to take my training to another level.  Instead of staying where I am for another cycle as originally intended, I'm going to try and bump up to another level.  Everything is just way too easy right now.  It begins tomorrow.  Next week, I'll pull the trigger on running 7 days a week and within a couple of weeks, will be doubling up 4 times a week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday: Rest

It's probably a good thing too.  The lack of skin on my foot is still killing me.  It's probably going to take a few more days before it hardens over and stops feeling so sensitive.  Until then, I'll just have to suck it up.

After 59 miles last week and what will be around 60-65 this week, I'm starting to realize that this mileage load is just too easy.  That's at least one reason why for the most part, I'm running a bit too fast on most of my runs.  I'm still not fully prepared to pull the trigger on running 7 days a week.  However, I think I'll be cutting out my first step back week in 2 weeks and just keep my mileage on the upswing.

By the end of February, I have another one scheduled.  By then I may need one.  That also happens to be the week of the RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge, which I'd like to be a little fresh for.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday: 4 + 7 Miles Tuesday: 8 Miles


AM: 4 miles, recovery pace.  I actually did not feel much soreness at all from Sunday.  A good night sleep cured it all.  This bodes well for the upcoming weeks.

PM: 7 miles, 6:56 pace.  After 12 hours at work, this run was a bit more difficult than it had to be.  However, I still got it done.  Unfortunately, I tore a good chunk of skin off the side of my foot probably thanks to my socks.  It's about time to try a new type.  I have yet to find running socks that I really like.

Tuesday: 8 miles, 7:30 pace, ran through about 1" of snow and moderate snow fall.

My damaged foot hurt pretty badly most of the day.  Ultimately, it's just sensitive skin and nothing to really worry about, but man does it hurt.  By the end of yet another long day at work, my foot was manageable.  Due to some snow, I canned my weekly track work for the time being and went for 8 miles instead.  The snow made it difficult and really slowed me down, but I got the run in.

Hopefully this snow doesn't derail the rest of my week too much.  It isn't the cold, the wind, or the darkness of winter I don't like but the snow.  I absolutely hate snow and ice because there's no way to "suck it up."  Physics is physics and without enough friction between the ground and my shoes, it gets very had to run.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday: 15 miles 1:39 overall, 6:36 avg/mile

Week 1 of training is over, and I survived.  After working from 12am-8:30am and sleeping from 10-2:30, I was finally able to get out to the NCR Trail and start running at 4:15pm.  With sunset at 5:00 and the last bits of light disappearing at around 5:15-5:20, I knew I would be finishing in darkness especially with the lack of lighting on the trail.

After feeling absolutely horrible for the first 5 miles, I hit a really nice groove for the last 10 and put together a really solid run.

Splits: 7:22; 6:45; 6:35; 6:42; 6:43; 6:41; 6:35; 6:38; 6:43; 6:51; 6:23; 6:19; 6:18; 6:15; 6:13

With about 6 miles to go, the sun dipped below the horizon and I could see the sky slowly darkening, with the orange light around the horizon dissipating.  It was actually quite peaceful on the trail.  I could really only see clearly maybe 20-30ft in front of me and could only see the mile markers when I was right next to them.  I couldn't read my watch anymore either.  Cruising through the darkness like that was just awesome.  It certainly made the whole week worth it.

Equally importantly, my hip and knee are 100% again.  My knee is occasionally stiff starting off but within 30 seconds of moving around it clears up.  Furthermore, my left leg in general feels strong again.  I don't have anymore of that nagging pain that had been plaguing me for most of 2010.

This run, combined with the results of the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler and the 5K Resolution Run prove to me that I didn't lose a single step over my recovery month and I'm right where I left off after the NCR Trail Marathon.  If anything, I'm stronger now that I feel no lingering pain.  I'm sure something is going to flare up in the future (it always does!), but I'll take what I can get!

Total Miles for Week: 59

Saturday, January 8, 2011

BRRC Frozen Fingers 5 Miler Race Report: An Interesting Day....

Today may have been one of the more interesting low key races I've run.  It was a 5 mile course that actually ended up being 5.4; it was slightly altered due to icy conditions on some parts of the course.  Temperatures were in the 30s at the start with moderate snowfall.  This did not stop me from running in shorts and a t-shirt

Despite the conditions, I was hopeful that the course would have good footing and that I could still hit a decent time.  Well I must say, I was quite mistaken!

After we started, I quickly took an early lead, and probably went out way too fast.  The race started on Lake Montebello in Baltimore and took us on some of the surrounding roads and paved trails in the area.  After turning off the lake we hit quite an uphill.  To make matters worse, it was quite slippery.  For reasons that are extremely unclear to me, I seem to be significantly more negatively affected by bad footing than other runners.  This is why I avoid trail races.  Runners that I easily beat on roads just fly past me on trails while I'm sucking wind and slipping all over the place at paces I should be able to handle.

Regardless, I had built quite a lead on the 2nd and 3rd place runners.  I kind of knew I had gone out too fast but figured if the footing stayed reasonable for the rest of the race, I could pull out the win and still get an ok time.  After leaving the main road, we ran on some of those paved trails for a little while.  Of course, they were completely snow covered and everytime my lead foot would land, my rear foot would slip and I would lose momentum.  This continued to happen on every section that had snow on it.  I wasted a ton of energy trying to maintain my pace on these slippery sections.

Once we hit some roads again, I was able to pick it back up.  I could tell other runners were hot on my tail.  As I passed course marshals directing me, slowly, I could hear them again more and more clearly as the runners behind me started to catch up.  After just a bit more road running, we hit the slippery trails again and I was finished.

My pace kept slowing on those snowy sections and I just could not get myself to stop slipping all over the place!  I got passed by the 2nd place runner (who has become quite a rival these days) and decided I would at least try and stay in striking distance and get back to him on a road section.  We only hit one very short section while he was still close and though I caught back up, as soon as we hit the snow again, I fell back.

This continued for what seemed like an eternity.  I eventually got passed by another runner to fall to third place.  This was someone else I had seen at races before and was feeling quite pissed that I was so helpless because of just a little snow!  However, I knew the last 0.75 miles of the race were going to have to be on pavement since it ended on the lake.  So I decided that no matter how far ahead that second runner was, I was going to catch back up and beat him when we hit the pavement.

I got my wish....

After finally LEAVING THE SNOW BEHIND, we hit the road.  Technically, we were supposed to run on a sidewalk rather than in the road but there was no snow on the road so I ran there (I guess that means I'm going to running jail).  I was just so sick of slipping everywhere.  I caught up and ran alongside my foe as we arrived back on Lake Montebello.  With the finish in site, it was an all out duel.

He picked it up, and I answered by pushing the pace more.  We went back and forth a few times until we were both running quite hard.  I threw down one more surge and finally the other runner had no answer and I was able to pull away.  After dealing with all the snow there was no way I was getting beat on my favorite running surface!  I ended up crossing the line in roughly 31 minutes and change (I think), I'll have to wait for the results to confirm.

Obviously, I could not expect a really fast time in those conditions, though I still maintained a sub-5:50 pace.  However, this race has stirred up quite a rivalry.

I have mentioned in passing a few times that I run with "Back on My Feet."  The organization is basically a club that runs with people in the various homeless shelters through Baltimore.  They have chapters in a handful of cities and overall, the program is well organized and is really making a difference.  In the first half of 2010, there was one other runner across all the Baltimore teams that was faster than me.  Thanks to my massive increase in speed, I was able to catch up to him by the end of the year.

Before the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, I was 0-2 against him and he completely blew me out of the water in those two races.  However, I returned the favor on that day to improve to 1-2.  I think our rivalry officially started when he told me the score after that race!  Of course, this same runner ran in this race today and when I took the early lead, I figured I had another win in the bag to even the score.  After my disastrous middle race though, the score now stands at 1-3.

I declared that I wanted a rematch on real pavement, not this snow covered junk!  So I must say, I think I've found at least one runner to duke it out with this year and look forward to the extra motivation to train just a bit harder!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why do I Run?

This is a question that I've had a lot of trouble answering for a while.  After 12 years of this, and more specifically, after my return to running in 2007, I'm much more equipped to provide an answer.

Before giving the reasons why I run, it's probably easier to give the reasons I don't use.

Running is a great aerobic exercise and a great way to stay in shape.  Although I love being in shape and feeling healthy, I certainly don't need to run 70-90 miles a week to do it.  It's rather universally understood that the health benefits from running significantly drop off as mileage is added.  If anything, running high mileage is "less healthy" since it could increase injury risk.

Running has nothing to do with weight.  I've pretty much weighed the same for the last 8 or 9 years.  If anything, I could stand to gain a few pounds.  Though I try to eat "healthy" food, it's really only because junk makes me sluggish.  I don't even really count calories, I usually just check the box to make sure it's worth my time and money to consume.  And, whoever comes up with serving sizes is not a runner!

Now the good part, why exactly I do it!

I have never felt worse after a run than I have before, even after a bad one.  No matter how tired or stressed I am beforehand, I always feel rejuvenated afterward.  No matter how badly I want to skip a run, when I finally get my butt out the door, I'm always thankful.  Even after 12 years, this still holds true.

I can't imagine just living the "rat race," going to work, getting home, doing stuff around the house, watching TV and repeating it the next day.  Sitting in traffic, sitting at a desk, worrying about money and making more, none of it really adds to much.  None of it really makes me feel "alive."  Once I get that heart rate elevated, once I start striding, and when I'm flying over the ground propelled by nothing other than my own power, life feels real.  When the pain becomes nearly unbearable, and when I keep running through it, that is when I feel most alive.  It happens in the middle of speedwork, during the end of really long runs, and at random times during tempo efforts when the struggle becomes tough.  I have yet to find anything that replicates that feeling.

Running rewards those who work hard.  The PR has always been awesome.  To put in the training, execute the race, and cross the finish line hitting that goal time creates the greatest sense of accomplishment in the world.  No amount of money, worldly possessions, or advanced degrees can replicate it.  I don't have a clue why I'm more proud of my most recent marathon PR than I am of my recent successes at my job, but I've just come to accept it.

Those reasons certainly get me very close to the answer.  However, there are probably a lot of people that use those reasons, but most of those people probably wouldn't bother running at 2 in the morning.  I think there is still more.

I thrive on competition.  I have nothing but respect for runners of all levels.  However, runners near my ability and those in front of me are all targets.  I keep "unofficial" track of names and times and look forward to seeing certain faces at races.  Each year it seems I find 1 or 2 people right around my ability and we duke it out for most of the year.  So far, each year, I've left more and more rivals in the dust and set my sites on even tougher foes.  I love the mutual respect and extra motivation driven by competition.

I'm running to discover my ultimate limit.  It isn't enough just to run a bit faster than I used to.  I want to maximize my mileage and hit whatever speed my genetic makeup will allow.  20-30 years from now when I look back at this time, I want to make sure I have no regrets.  I know for a fact that giving running everything I have will leave me regret free.  I now wonder and debate every day whether I should have continued running immediately after High School and into college.  Maybe I could have gotten somewhere in the collegiate running scene or maybe not.  But, I won't let that happen again!  Even if I suffer a bad injury and end up falling off my high level, it will still be worth it because I'll know I gave it everything I had.

That is why I run at all hours and hit mileage between 70-90 miles a week when peaking.  That is why eventually, I hope to hit mileage comparable (though probably still less) to elite athletes.  For all my toil, I get very little material reward.  I still need a real job and I still need to pay for shoes and race fees just like every other amateur runner out there.  Sure the occasional gift certificate and other random stuff is cool, but it certainly doesn't pay well relative to the work!  The motivation and drive has to come from within because all that external stuff won't be there at 2am when I have to run 4 miles because I'm working at 4am.

No Time for Excuses: Friday: 8 miles (6xhill)

Today: 2.8 mile warm up, 6 hill repeats, 5 going uphill and one going downhill with a 2 mile cool down.  Each hill repeat is about 0.4 miles, I use the "other direction" between reps.

The craziness of this week continues.  I went to sleep at 7pm Thursday night, work up at 11pm and went back to work at 12am.  We finished at 11am (an hour ahead of schedule).  I then came home, ate something and slept for 4 hours, getting back up at 5pm.  After eating some more, I went out the door at 6:15pm to get the run finished.

This has been one hell of a week to start training, but I don't have time for excuses.  They also don't make you run a marathon faster.

On deck is a 5 mile race tomorrow, which I am really looking forward to, if anything, just to get away from working for a day.  Then I have one more graveyard shift Sunday at midnight followed by a 15 mile run sometime Sunday afternoon/evening.  That might be hell, but I'm so close to getting through this week that I'm not about to stop now!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Dedication PR...2:15AM Run

Thanks to a work schedule from hell, I was given a choice, skip my morning run for Thursday or get up at an ungodly hour and do it anyway.  After going to sleep at 7pm on Wednesday (after working from 4am-3pm), I woke up at 2AM and was out the door at 2:15 for my earliest run on record.

4 miles at 7:30/mile pace.  It was a bit slow and felt a bit harder than it should have, but I guess that's what 2am does to you.  I basically ran in the middle of the very quiet roads of Baltimore.  I saw 4 cars and 5 people which was surprisingly a lot.  I don't really worry about being mugged because I'd love to see someone try and catch me.  As long as I'm not cornered, there's no shot!  I can drop sub 5 minute pace in a heartbeat if I need to.

Of course, the craziness doesn't end there.  After going to work from 4am-3:30pm, I ran another 8 miles in the afternoon....51:05 overall, 6:23/mile pace.  I didn't exactly feel great, probably because I ran too fast.  Most importantly, my knee and hip are fine.

Now I need to get a couple of hours of sleep to return to work at midnight tonight, to be finished at around 12 noon Friday.  I'll probably sleep after that, then get my Friday run in.  Try as the world might, it won't stop me!!!  It will all be worth it when I see 2:3X:XX on the clock when I cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

It may be time to author a post about exactly "why" I run if anything to make sure I'm still sane.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday: Rest

Day off, though I could probably run if I wanted to.  I'm thinking in the next few weeks I'll be throwing in an easy run on these days.

Knee + hip = feeling good, despite standing at work all day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday: 7 miles: 5x800 meter with 2:00 rest

I love 40 degree weather, it's perfect for running.  This was my first speedwork with my most recent tweaks.  Warmup goes from 2 miles to 2.5 and cooldown from 1 to 1.5.  I may even increase that more.  Truthfully, it's only to get my mileage up.  Additionally, I've cut my rest from 2:30 between reps to 2:00 in an effort to make things more difficult.  I must say, I handled it quite well.  The reduced rest forced me to cut back just a couple of seconds and run closer to the pace I wanted, rather than going too fast.

Splits: 2:38; 2:37; 2:36; 2:38; 2:35

Thanks to the miracle of western medicine known as ibuprophen, I'm also quite excited to report that my hip and knee felt 100% the entire day (I took 400mg in the morning) and did not flare up at all after the track work.  A workout like that, with the running in circles and constant starting and stopping would usually do a number on issues like that, but I felt nothing!  I'll take some more tablets (THEY ARE NOT PILLS!) tonight and tomorrow just to make sure the inflammation is cleared up.  Being in pharmaceuticals, I hate when people use the term "pills."  Solid oral dosage forms are usually almost always tablets or capsules.

The next few days are going to be interesting.  I'll be at work from 4am-4pm Wednesday and Thursday and 12am-12pm on Friday and Sunday.  I have a rest day, a hill workout, a 4+8 mile day, a Saturday 5 mile race and a 15 mile long run to jam in around those bizzare hours.

Bring it!  My job, mother nature, and all that other distracting "stuff" out there will not stand in the way of my training!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sunday: 14 Miles Monday: 4 + 6 miles

Sunday: 14 miles @ 7:26/mile pace.

Rain and warm temperatures made for a muddy and interesting run.  Since I will be one of two marathon pacers leading a 3 hour 20 minute group, I decided to dedicate about 1 long run a month to hitting even 7:38 miles to practice the required pace.  I have until 12 days after the Boston Marathon to get it right, and this run shows I certainly need some work!

Splits: 7:59; 7:22; 7:20; 7:31; 7:29; 7:30; 7:26; 7:41; 7:29; 7:21; 7:22; 7:23; 7:19; 7:09

Running just a couple of long runs slower will probably do some good for me in the grand scheme of things.  I usually do my long runs as progression runs, ending up at or faster than marathon pace by the end, which certainly increases my chances for injury.  At least a couple of these easier efforts should provide insurance, and help me to make sure I pace well enough to get invited back to pace again!  It also felt good to take it easy after my 5K effort from Saturday.

AM: 4 miles moderate pace.  Back to cold and windy winter weather
PM: 6 miles, 39:23, 6:34/mile pace

My knee pain has continued to be on and off throughout the day.  I can only describe it as stiffness that I feel more in the morning than the evening, and especially feel it if I kneel down.  After about 1-5 minutes of running, it completely disappears.  By the evening, it felt much better.

I've got some soreness in my left hip also, which is a bit concerning.  I've had on again, off again pain in various parts of my left leg since May; this particular pain completely disappears while running.  I really only feel it standing around or when I start worrying about it too much.

I'm fortunate that there have only been a total of about 3-4 days in my entire running life that I was actually in too much pain from an injury to run, and both were "acute" types of injuries.  It certainly doesn't make all these nagging blips any less annoying!  I'll keep an eye on it; hopefully once my mileage climbs up and I start feeling sore more often, everything will just kind of mesh into one general dull ache like it did in 2010.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Achievement: 2011 Resolution Run 5K Race Report: Now with pictures!

The 5K and I have been in a love-hate relationship for some time now.  When I ran a 16:53 back in March on a flat course, I was elated to finally break 17:00.  I figured that I'd have many 5ks to come in 2010 under 17.  I then proceeded to run three 5Ks at 17:00, 17:05, and 17:05 on courses of varying difficulty in varying weather conditions.

I then focused on some speedwork over the summer to see if I could make sub-17 a bit more doable.  After that session I ran three more 5ks at 17:46 (humid, hilly), 17:16, 17:03.  I finally decided that after years of loving the 5K, that it was no more.  The race is just too short and too quick for my marathon legs!  To add insult to injury, my 10K PR which I ran the day after that 17:03 performance was only slightly more than twice that time, which is just stupid.

Deep down I was wondering why all that speedwork didn't do anything.  My training interval times had improved but yet I still couldn't hit a sub-17.  I was hoping that maybe after an easy December, my 5K legs would finally break out of their slump.  And I was right!

On a rather difficult course, with a ~300 meter hill in the middle of the race I ran a 16:47, 6 seconds faster than my now 10 month old PR which was run on an extremely fast course.  More importantly, for the first time ever, my splits were relatively even and I didn't feel like absolute death after mile 1 like I usually do.

Splits: 5:15, 5:33, 5:33 with a ~27 second last 0.1 mile.

I lined up in the front and as soon as the air horn went off, about 7 guys busted hard off the line.  Being the grizzled veteren, I knew most of them were probably going out too hard.  I could tell too based on their strides, it looked like they were digging a bit too deep.  One guy ran alongside me but dropped out of the picture about 2 minutes into the race.

As we looped around for our first mile, sure enough, one by one 5 of the 6 remaining runners started fading.  I still went out too fast in 5:15 but thankfully, avoided the early mad rush.  A 5:05 or 5:00 or whatever they ran would have killed me.

Here is a shot right before the big hill slowly picking people off (I'm in my customary red shirt).  The one runner ahead of me would put up a fight, the others let me pass without resistance:

After passing the first mile marker we made a sharp turn up to the big hill in the race.  I was now side by side with the 2nd place runner.  He was panting ridiculously hard going up that hill.  I knew I had him.  If he couldn't stay with me on the hill, he wasn't going to beat me at all.  I never let up on the hill and ran it as hard as I could, leaving my foe in the dust.

Here we go as we approach the hill:

 And up the start of the hill...

We had a good fight going up the hill.  Lately, I have been killing hills in races and few runners stand a chance if they are near me!

I took a slight breather at the crest, slowing just a tad before hitting an equally big downhill.  Hitting 5:33 for my second mile was awesome, and I knew that if I could just hold that pace, I would PR.  The 1st place runner was about 10 seconds ahead of me and though I closed the gap a bit, I had no luck catching him.  My marathon legs just don't have the ability to surge in a 5K like they do in 10Ks, 10 milers, and half marathons.  So despite my best efforts, the win was not in the cards.

A couple of more photos, the first with probably about 3/4 of a mile to go and the last right before crossing the finish...

     It was about this time when I was throwing everything I had left to try and catch the leader but after closing the gap ever so slightly around the 2 mile marker I couldn't make up any more ground.  He remained about 11 seconds ahead.

A bit blurry, but I'm about 2-3 seconds from the finish line and for a change, feeling like I didn't fade too badly.  My splits would confirm that feeling once I looked at them relaxed rather than in the middle of the race.

However, the time is what I cared about, and more importantly, how I felt.  Generally all my 5ks are the same.  I go out too fast in the first mile, start to feel oxygen deprived by 1.5 miles and then fade really badly in the second half of the race.  Then, when it's all over, I feel fine about 10 minutes later and my legs don't even acknowledge that I ran.  Any "expert" who claims there is no such thing as "oxygen debt" clearly has never run a 5K with a 1 mile split 10-15 seconds faster than what he/she intended.

In this race though, I never felt the "fade" or the "sucking wind" feeling I normally associate with a 5K.  Though my 2nd mile slowed, the hill was to blame.  I also held pace very well on the 3rd mile and really only started to feel the burn at about mile 2.75, which is where it should be.  Once the finish is that close, I can suck up the pain and make a mad dash for the line.

Overall, this is a great way to start off 2011, better than I could have hoped.  It looks like I may finally have a big breakthrough in my 5K.  I've got two more scheduled for the first half of 2011 and both are on faster courses.  These marathon legs still have some speed in them!  And my 5K time is going to get forced down sooner or later if I intend to run significantly faster marathons.