Monday, December 26, 2011

Another week...more miles

This week was still quite chill.  In the beginning of the week, I was rather sore from the 5 miler/long run from the previous weekend, but I'm feeling pretty good now.  My left leg seems to have finally stopped bothering me; I stumbled on a new stretch for my lower back that seems to be doing the trick.

-PM: 6 miles, moderate pace

-Commute to work, 20 mile ride afterwards, 27 total.

-AM: 4 miles
-PM: 7 miles

-Commute to and from work, 15 miles total thanks to some detours (always appreciate it CSX...)
-PM: 6 miles

-AM: 3 miles
-PM: 6.2 miles

-AM: 6.2 miles
-PM: 30 mile bike ride

-13.1 miles

Miles run: 51
Miles Biked: 50
Miles Commuted by Bike: 22

At long last, it is time to return to track work.  I'm not sure what kind of running I'll be doing, but I know I want to get in around 6-8 miles total.  I'll have to spend the rest of this week coming up with a plan for workouts through April. The scaffolding is in place including weekly mileage totals, long run lengths, bike mileage, and days for workouts.  It is just a matter of the details of each day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Wrap Up

FDA regulations require that drug manufacturers perform a year end review of each of their commercial products, detailing all kinds of process attributes.  This is mainly to ensure that their manufacturing processes are in a state of control.  What the hell does this have to do with running?  Nothing, but I figured I could apply this on the job experience to my running life.  So here it is, a short synopsis of my 2011 with all its ups and downs.

Miles run: 318.75
Races Completed: 3
   -Resolution Run 5K: 16:47
   -Frozen Fingers (not so 5) 5 Miler: 31:44
   -BRRC GPS 8 Miler: 47:21
   -Notes: After only breaking 17 in one 5K in 2010 and feeling "stuck," I finally broke through on a slow, hilly course.  An easy December seemed to be just what I needed.  Over 300 miles that early in the year would turn out to be a mistake.

Miles Run: 330.05
Races Completed: 3
   -Superbowl 5K: 16:52
   -Annapolis Striders Valentines Day 5K: 16:45
   -RRCA 10 Mile Challenge: 56:54
   -Notes: I was on fire in February.  This marked three consecutive 5Ks under 17 minutes.  I also finished second in every single one of them (the first two I lost to the same runner).  The Valentines Day race was a race to remember as it came down to three of us.  I took the lead with less than half a mile to go, only to get out gunned in the last 0.1 mile.  Exciting stuff.  The RRCA race was like a dream come true as I got some payback on runners who had beat me in the past, shattered my old 10 mile mark on the course, and finished 14th in one of the more competitive races around.  Trouble was brewing though as pain in my lower left leg was getting progressively worse throughout the month.

Miles Run: 114.8
Races Completed: 2
   -B&A Trail Half Marathon: 1:16:12
   -Shamrock 5K: 16:27
   -Notes: What had most likely started as a stress reaction of my lower left tibia had become a full blown stress fracture basically 2 days before the B&A Half.  I still ran 22 miles the day before that race, and ran the half marathon of my life.  I forced myself to not limp while running and was beginning to realize something was horribly, horribly wrong.  I finally had the mind to stop running after the half, but still opted to run in the Shamrock 5K regardless of the risk.  After the third consecutive race of my life, I had to stop.  It took 3 days before I could walk after that race without pain and finally saw a doctor, who after administering an MRI revealed that I had a rather significant stress fracture.  He said I was probably pretty close to a full blown fracture.

AprilMiles Run: 4
Races Completed: 0
  -Notes: And so it was that I missed my chance to run the Boston Marathon.  I spent time at the gym and decided I would rather blow my brains out than use an elliptical, stationary bike, or do aqua jogging so I started cycling instead.  I picked up a cheap, heavy ass hybrid and basically froze to death on numerous occasions as I had no idea what I was doing or what to wear.  Eventually things started to work out better.  A friend introduced me to clipless pedals and eventually road bikes.  Once I was finally cleared to run again, I wiped out on my bike a week later and busted the hell out of my hip and knee, requiring another 2 weeks of recovery.  By May though, things were looking up.

Miles Run: 104.1
Races Completed: 1
  -Fiesta 5K: 16:52
  -Not bad for taking off as much time as I did.  To still be able to break 17 after all that time off was a huge boost.  It took a while to get used to running again believe it or not.  Though I was cleared to run, the doctor did tell me to be careful and there were a few times here and there that I backed off when I felt pain.  I made sure to be extra careful and skipped some races and training opportunities.

Miles Run: 144.5
Miles Biked: 318
Races Completed: 4
   -North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon Relay: (short 10K):  34:00?
   -BRRC Summer Track Series: 2 Miles: 10:20
   -Baltimore 10 Miler: 1:04:23
   -Westchester Medical Center Duathlon: 2 mile run, 15 mile bike, 2 mile run: 1st in age group, 10th overall
   -Notes:  All I remember from that marathon relay is that we switched up our order, sent the fastest guy out first (me), and I buried the field.  Our plan didn't quite work as we still ended up third, by I apparently put fear into other teams, and for the first time in a while, felt strong.  The 2 miler was awesome.  The 10 miler was a disaster, mostly because I was a goddamn idiot.  If I ran smarter I could have broke 60:00.  I instead went for broke and tried to run the pace I could hold in February preinjury.  Not smart!  I bought my road bike in early June and took it for its first race (and my first duathlon) at the end of the month and did rather well.  I was way too conservative on the first run, but that certainly never happened again.

Miles Run: 262.25
Miles Biked: 373
Races Completed: 4
  -Independence Day Duathlon: 2nd Overall, 1.6 mile run, 12 mile bike, 1.6 mile run
  -20in24 Gold Relay (3x8.4 miles over a 24 hour period):
  -BRRC Meet of Miles: 4:49
  -EC5K (or 3.5 miler or something): 17:45
  -Notes: I crushed my previous mile PR of 4:56 and finally got back to where I thought I should be at 20 in 24.  I was part of a team of 5 runners who had to each do an 8.4 mile loop relay style 3 times each.  I ran in the middle of the afternoon, a bit before midnight, and than early morning.  Our team had no shot of winning anything, but I set out to see if I could match the faster runners out there.  I ended up murdering that course, going sub 50 in the hot as hell afternoon, which was one of the faster times on the day.  It would have been good enough for 2nd and 1st in their two cash races (each only 1 loop).  I then repeated with another loop in the mid 50s at about 10:30 at night.  I was so fired up at how well I ran.  By the time the third loop rolled around, a few of my teammates had struggled, causing my time to wait around that much longer.  I mailed in the last loop in 56 and change, which was about as well as I had ran at this race last year.  I knew I was back.  I also joined Adventures for the Cure, a cycling team in the area to start riding with them to try and get my cycling skills on par with my running.

Miles Run: 276.9
Miles Biked: 507
Races Completed: 4
  -Du the 2 Duathlon: 2 mile run, 26 mile bike, 4 mile run...freaking hilly. 1st in age group, 12th overall
  -BRRC Summer Track Series 5K: 16:24
  -Lums Pond Duathlon turned 10K mud run: 34:19 (a bit short)
  -BRRC Too Hot to Trot 10K: 33:56 (also short)

  -Notes: Du the 2 was a great experience despite horrendous humidity and a near crash on the bike.  I'm really looking forward to competing in that race again this year.  They are going to have an elite wave, and it looks like my time from last year will qualify me.  I can't wait to be in better shape on the bike.  That track 5K was me firing on all cylinders.  I just went on that track, ran the most even race I've ever run, and crossed the line feeling way too good for having just done a 5K; especially one outside my comfort zone at nearly 7pm.  It is rather unfortunate I did not run another 5K when I was in that shape.  I did a lot of speed work over the summer, and it really showed in that race.  August was also the month I finally joined the much fabled "Tuesday Night Track" workouts at Gilman High School put on by "Team That's What She Said."  I was glad that I finally decided to show my face (I already knew all about this group for a while).  If you are a fast runner in the Baltimore area, you run with this group.  They pretty much have a monopoly on the fast people, and it made everything easier for me because I FINALLY had people to run with who were at my pace and faster.  I ended up outrunning all my other running buddies and needed new ones...

Miles Run: 289.8
Miles Biked: 456
Races Completed: 4
   -Charm City Run 20 Miler: 2:02:01
   -R U Able Duathlon: 5K run, 14 mile bike, 5K run...1st Overall, won it on the last run
   -Philly Distance Run (Half Marathon): 1:14:44
   -Naylors Beach Duathlon: 2 mile run, 26 mile bike, 6.2 mile run...2nd Overall

   -Notes: September was my month.  In hindsight, I peaked way too early, but such is the way of things.  The highlight of my entire year was that Half Marathon.  By age grade, 79.8% it is my best race of all time.  I crushed my previous half marathon PR in February which I ran injured, which had crushed my PR from the time before that.  In the 20 Miler, I went out too fast, held on anyway, and won my first cash prize for coming in 2nd on a 100% humidity day.  I destroyed the 5K runs on the RU Able Du, completing both in sub-18 fashion.  On the entire day, between relays and the actual 5K race, only 1 person ran faster than me (a relay runner).  No one else was even close.  At Naylor's beach, I kicked ass on the bike (at least for me) and had my best performance by USAT rankings of the year.  That race is a big reason why my rank is so high right now.  This was all while I was banging out 20 and 22 mile runs to get ready for a marathon.  Unfortunately, I overreached a bit both physically and mentally.

Miles Run: 263.9
Miles Biked: 181
Races Completed: 3
   -New Hampshire Half Marathon: 1:18:43, 2nd overall
   -Half Full Triathlon Relay: 1:20:35 (half marathon on cruise control), 1st overall relay team
   -Cape Henlopen Duathlon, 2 mile run, 11.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run, 2nd overall
  -Notes: Something happened to me in this month.  I believe a combination of too many bike miles, too many running miles, too many races, and my new found laziness for stretching conspired against me.  I ended up with what was at times debilitating stiffness and pain in my left quad and groin.  There was the occasional day when I could barely walk.  I eventually figured out heat was the trick and kept heat on my leg at all times.  By late October, I had it under control.  On the racing front, I was still doing well but started to feel stretched thin.  On a whim I decided to do a race in NH 2 days before it was to start.  This was thanks to a friend who called me out by name on Facebook saying there was cash on the line and a weak field last year.  She was actually surprised when I decided to do it (that's what you get for calling me out on Facebook).  A bunch of other guys had the same idea.  It was also raining and hilly as crap.  If I was actually prepared, I could have won, but instead cruised into 2nd, pocketed $100 (minus the $45 race entry, free lodging, and air fare credit), and was pretty happy.  The very next day I cruised through a half marathon as part of a triathlon relay.  We were 5th going into the run, but thanks to my leg that was 20 minutes faster than any other team, I passed all 4 teams in the last 3 miles and gave us victory.  Cape Henlopen ended up being my last duathlon of the year, and also showed I am better built for longer races.  I just don't have the makeup for short bike legs.  It was a bit exciting as I had to outrace someone that caught ME in the 2nd running leg.

Miles Run: 218.4
Miles Biked: 13.5
Races Completed: 2
    -Rockville 10K: 34:27
    -NCR Trail Marathon: 3:01:57

   -Notes: In an effort to get myself fresh and ready to go marathoning, I hung up the bike for November.  My slight misfire in mileage (I should have gone over 300) and my mental and physical fatigue was really started to add up and take its toll, though I tried to ignore it.  The rockville 10k was ok, I PR'ed big.  I certainly went out a little too fast, but my legs just felt dead the whole way.  I also seemed to dread runs more often than not.  I started the Philadelphia Marathon, my alleged goal race, but dropped out at mile 13 after feeling like a train wreak as soon as the gun went off.  I had not felt right in the days leading up to the race, but I had run through worse.  I was pretty pissed with myself, especially considering I was essentially running a PR pace.  I signed up for the NCR Trail marathon which was to be 2 weeks later in an attempt to salvage my marathon season.  The weekend between still didn't really feel that great and my long run that weekend was not as successful as I had hoped.  Once the race rolled around, I felt substantially better and at least ran well for the first half of the race.  Some combination of going out too fast, and just complete mental fatigue did me in and I fell apart quickly in the second half.

Miles: ongoing
Races Completed: 2
   -Jingle Bell 5K: 16:45
   -Celtic Solstice 5 Miler: 27:01

 -Notes: December is ongoing of course.  I took a few days off after NCR, just biking to and from work a few times.  The 5K felt a bit better than my November races, but I was still kind of flat.  I took another very easy week, and finally one more in the days leading up to the 5 Miler.  With a renewed sense of physical and mental strength, I went out and raced my ass off, tying for 8th overall (I was 7th, but one of our guys got added to the results, which is fine with me since he is one of our's!), and blowing away my previous best on an easier course by over a minute.  I felt strong again. 

Now, we have arrived at my currrent week.  I opted for one last week without workouts, just more running, and more cycling.  Both are building slowly.  I was pretty sore for part of this week, but it is getting better.  Though whatever I did to my left leg in October has subsided significantly, it has not gone away.  In an attempt to fix it for good, I've been stretching, and trying to strengthen my core as that perhaps could be a cause (especially with the bike miles).

So there it is, 2011 at a glance.  I'm actually happy with the year.  There is really no "what if" for me.  Everything happened the way it did.  I learned a lot and still got faster in the process.  With 2012 coming up, I now have limits in place to try and keep myself fresh.  I found that I can push myself too much, but thankfully, it takes a significant amount of mileage and racing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Races, January-June

Normally, Tuesday nights would mean track work at Gilman, but not today after opting for one more week of mental and perhaps some physical recovery.  My Saturday race/Sunday long run left my legs rather trashed Monday.  Though we did a decently paced 6 miler that felt good aerobically, my legs and particularly my right hip were none too pleased with me.  Since I've had nothing but left leg problems for a while, it was nice to have the other leg hurt for a change.  After 27 total miles of bike riding today though, I feel much, much better.

So instead of running fast in a workout, I'll dream of running fast in races to come!  As I have eluded to earlier, I am rewriting my entire approach to running.  This includes training, racing, and volunteering.  Everything is being turned upside down in an attempt to maximize my chances of getting faster.  I can see that it will be exponentially harder to get to the next level, but if I did it once in 2010, I can do it again this time around.  I just won't be expecting anymore 10 minute half marathon PRs (if only it were that easy)!

So, from the racing perspective, I will be committing to significantly fewer races.  Not only that, but all races have been carefully selected and planned such that:

a) they fit into my training schedule and I can actually ease off the week of the race (except for one 5k)
b) as much as possible, they are spread out, and there are never more than 2 in a month (I can go back-to-back if one race is a 5k)
c) where possible, I will only run in races that have a high probability of strong competition

To that end, there are a lot of races I have done historically that I will not make an appearance at.  I won't run nearly as many BRRC races this year as the competition just isn't there (including their GPS series).  Though I may be available to cheer for Back on My Feet runners at their occasional race, more often than not, I will not be doing races that they go to.

Ultimately, I'm throwing my name into races to race.  Obviously, not every race will be an "A" level goal race, but I intend for each one to be a real effort.  By limiting it, hopefully I won't burn out mentally and physically as I seem to have done at the end of the fall season this year.  I can also focus more on training too.

With that, here is the list.  I have yet to sign up for any duathlons, as I'm waiting to see if the powers that be will grant me a professional license.  If they don't, I'll take a good shot at qualifying at my first duathlon of the year.

1/1/2012- Resolution Run 5K, Patterson Park, Baltimore

1/7/2012- BRRC Frozen Fingers 5 Miler, Lake Montebello, Baltimore

2/5/2012- Chilly Willy Duathlon, 5K run 10 mile bike 5K run, St. Petersburg, FL

~2/25/2012- 10 Mile Club Challenge, Howard County, MD (get some!!!)

3/11/2012 - Shamrock 5K, Baltimore, MD
3/17/2012- National Half Marathon Washington DC


4/16/2012-Boston Marathon
4/28/2012- USAT Duathlon Age Group National Championships, 5k run, 35k bike, 5k run Tuscon, AZ

5/12/2012- Cascade Lake Duathlon, 1.86 mile run, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run Hampstead, MD

6/3/2012- Blackwater Duathlon, 10K run, 70K bike, 10K run, Cambridge, MD
6/16/2012-Baltimore 10 Miler (possibly as a pacer, undecided)

2012 is right around the corner!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No Rush To Get Back

My calendar listed this upcoming week as optional to return to the track for speed/tempo.  However, I think the results of my 5 miler yesterday have shown that taking another week easy isn't going to kill anything.  In fact, this easy December seems to have done more good than the most grueling speedwork I could think of.  Since I could care less about being in shape in January when there are no races of consequence, delaying one more week to just get miles in won't hurt.  Now for this week...

Mon: PM: 6 miles, long day at work prevented me from joining my usual Monday afternoon crowd.
Commuted to and from work by bike, 6.75 miles each way
PM: 6 miles, another long day at work

AM: 4 miles

AM: commuted to work
PM: rode what ended up being about 20 miles on the bike before it got too dark and I had to bail by hopping on the light rail.  This little experiment has given me a great route to take from my office in Dundalk to either the Falls Road light rail station or if there is enough daylight, the Lutherville Station.  Bikes are allowed on the Light Rail and I live 2 blocks from one of the stations.  This lets me take a route that once clear of downtown, doesn't have too many places where I have to stop for traffic lights.  It beats the trainer at any rate, at least until it starts snowing.

AM: 4 miles

  5 miler with some warmup and cool down, 7.5 miles total

13 miles at ~7 minute pace with a group of 8 people.  It was hilly, but substantially more interesting with company.


Run: 40.5 miles
Bike (training): 20 miles
Bike (commuting): 20.25 miles

Low to mid 40s on foot is up for this week, and still just one bike ride in the 25-30 mile range.  No more delaying after this week though!  By the week of the 26th, I'll be back in the full swing of things and have at least one weekly workout.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celtic Solstice 5 Miler...Lived up to Expectations

This race may very well have erased any and all disappointment I've had lately with my failed marathon attempts.  It was certainly a way to end off the year on a high note.  Now, I've got to tell this story while it's still fresh, because it is epic.

The 5 mile race started right around 8:30AM.  There was no wind, temperatures were right around 40 degrees, and it was nearly an overcast.  Overall, great weather for a late December race.  I went into this race with no thoughts whatsoever as to what pace I was going to run, or what time I was shooting for.  My plan was basically just to show up and run hard.  However, now that I run with a lot of the fast guys that show up to these races, it was really easy to key off of everyone around me to settle into a pace that made sense.  I just made sure to go out a tad bit slower than usual though, since this course was mostly uphill for the first half, and mostly downhill for the second.

As it turns out, I apparently hit the pacing nearly perfectly.  As the race started, a rather large group of maybe 15-20 people went out hard.  I just stayed right where I needed to be as we went up, and up, and up.  The dust started to settle rather quickly and the field thinned out to look more like I expected.  I was roughly 10th or 11th at this point, and close enough to have a front seat for the battle for 1/2/3 (a race I am not fast enough to be a part of).  We passed the 1 mile mark in what was allegedly 5:09, but it was definitely short.  Our actual 1 mile split was closer to 5:35, based on the omnipresent "Garmin beep" a little bit after that mile marker.

I felt like I was surrounded by Howard County Striders, with about 3 of them in my vicinity.  There were other runners too that I run with relatively regularly now, perhaps allies amongst the sea of pain.  After we passed mile 1 and went up around and down the Mansion House Loop, the individual races for particular places were starting to materialize.

A few guys that were ahead pulled away for good, a few guys further back dropped back.  That left essentially me and 3 other runners to battle it out the rest of the way for 7th-11th.  We continued uphill again, made a turnaround, and started back down towards the finish, nearly 3 miles into the race.  I never bothered to take any split times, just glances at my watch and the overall time elapsed.

I had realized that the time didn't really matter at that point.  This one was all about racing the guys next to me.  It was clear that no one wanted to give in and we were going to have to run each other to death to sort this mess out.  The course continued forward, made a sharp right, and dumped us off onto the loop around the lake in Druid Hill Park.  The loop is about 1.5 miles, but it felt like it was 50 miles.

I had been neck and neck with a Strider pretty much since the turnaround.  Every time I went even with him, he pulled just a step ahead of me.  Again, and again.  I was content to hang tight, but he kept trying to shake me.  Eventually, by mile 4, another Strider whom I passed earlier came barreling forward like a train.  He sounded like he was ready to collapse, but his stride suggested otherwise.

That was the push I needed as we left the other Strider in the dust.  This new guy also continuously tried to put distance on me.  I never let him get more than two strides ahead, though it was starting to hurt a lot to do so.  I knew the last half mile was downhill, and I was pretty satisfied to hang tight and just wait for the right moment.  It can be hard to explain when I "know" it's time to go, but I knew it wasn't quite yet.

We left the lake and made the final turn off for the ~0.3-0.4 mile downhill to the finish.  I heard someone behind me urge me on, a runner whom I've done a couple of Monday afternoon "not-so-7-minute-paced" runs with.  The Strider with me was also starting to put a gap on me, and I could feel my tank running nearly on empty.

It was time.  If I waited just a second or two longer, the gap would have become too much.  I turned it on and used the downhill to just open up whatever I had left.  The Strider never stood a chance as we screamed down the hill.  My ally caught up with me, and continued to urge me forward, making sure I didn't slack off on the flat right before the finish.

We crossed side-by-side in 27:01.  I then proceeded to dry heave 3 or 4 times and nearly puke my brains out.  I managed to hold it in, and certainly couldn't have asked for a better performance out of myself!

I ended up 7th/8th overall and 3rd in my age group.  I got a little Christmas Tree ornament for my efforts, which I think is probably the hardest earned award I've received in a while.  My time was 1 minute and 16 seconds faster than last year and good for a 5:24 pace.

I felt really really fresh for the first time in about 2 months, and am really feeling ready to implement my new plan and get going on a strong 2012.  I also heard my choice of attire, bright neon yellow singlet, and socks, black shorts and gloves with neon yellow accents, and completely off color orange and blue shoes was completely obnoxious.  It definitely is, but it is also awesome!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Leap of Faith

I always thought that was a cool phrase.  This is partially because it's a really awesome aspect of the video game series Assassin's Creed.  But, before I start sounding too much like a nerd, let's get back to running.

Tomorrow I'll be racing the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a nice challenging race held in my backyard (Druid Hill Park).  It generally brings out strong runners, a huge crowd, and promises to be a challenging course.  I have not done a single workout save my 5K from two weeks ago, just runs.  I'm merely doing this race to evaluate where I'm at as my mileage starts to come back and I reappear at workouts!

The 5 miler has been a big deal for me the last two years.  In 2009, the race was put on anyway despite blizzard conditions.  However, it was that night that I decided to dedicate myself fully to running.  Up to that point, I was a decent runner, able to generally place in or near my age group.  But, it wasn't good enough, I wanted more; I wanted to be the guy who could show up to a 5K and win, that random runner who could just outrun the field.  So I took a leap of faith so to speak and completely revamped my training.  I jumped into a new realm without really knowing what to expect, but trusting I could come out stronger.  I started running more miles 60-80 per week than my typical 30-50 and started running doubles on as many days I could.  It largely worked, as evidence by my breakout half marathon (1:19, 10 minute PR) and 5k (16:53, 35 second PR) early in 2010.  I continued pounding away and crushed my marathon time, 3:10 to 2:44.  So a leap into the unknown, higher mileage, paid off.

It all started that weekend, particularly that Sunday after the race when I was just fed up with only being average, and not dedicating myself as much as I knew I could, in spite of work and everything else.  Of course, now that I am that guy that can win a 5K, I don't really do it all that often, because it is not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.  Give me a bunch of faster guys, an 11th place finish and a 16:25 over destroying the field by 40 seconds and eeking out a 16:43.

Anyway, in 2010, I surprised myself by running really well at the race and jump started my continued rise (which eventually resulted in a crash and burn).  After four consecutive 5Ks in 2011 all under 17, I had finally gone under for good after having only gone sub 17 once in 2010.  I blew away my previous best 10 mile time on the Club Challenge course (around 8 minutes) and knocked more time off my half marathon and 5k.  Then of course I got injured.  But once again, the 5 Miler kicked off a very successful few months.

So here I stand yet again, the day before the 5 Miler, ready to move on to a 2012 full of hopes and dreams.  I'm taking yet another leap of faith, changing my approach to running in such a way as to help promote success.  I'm racing less, training more, making sure not to miss  runs or flip around my schedule, running with people that are at my pace and faster, and reducing the amount of time I volunteer to give myself more time to train. 

Though I have loved the nearly 2 years of dedication I have given to Back on My Feet Baltimore, it has become time for me to move in another direction.  For better or worse, the growing disparity in running ability, and the dedication required for me to continue to improve have made me realize I do not have the time for both.  Instead of giving my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, it is only going to be Fridays, giving me two precious mornings back to get mileage in at my pace.  It was a decision I had to make myself, since no one in the chapter could relate to my situation.  Ultimately, if I can't bring myself to run any pace between 7-10 minutes per mile on any given morning, than I need to take a step back and let people who can make that commitment step forward.  Once I started pushing people just to get an easy run in, it was time to re-evaulate what I was doing.

This plan is intended to breed success, by making it easier for me to get all my runs in, get more sleep, keep training on the bike without negatively impacting my running, and with fewer races, I should stay more mentally and physically fresh to really make them count.

Now all I have to do is run the 5 Miler and then start looking forward to the next journey that lies before me and hopefully, takes me to Boston!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just Chillin'

Just as last week I thought to myself "Wow, life is really easy when I don't have to run everyday," this week I was thinking "Wow, life is really easy on low mileage and no workouts."  Although, I'm already starting to get bored and can feel the "need" to train returning.  This is all good.

The week, a quiet one for sure:

Monday AM: 4 miles, easy
               PM: 6 miles, easy/moderate-ish

Tuesday: PM: 5 Miles
                Commuted to and from work by bike.  I got a flat, and apparently, screwed up my rear brake and/or put my rear wheel out of true.  It was strange since I never remember hitting anything, I just noticed that all of a sudden, I had a rear flat.  Regardless, I got rid of the junk tires my CAAD8 came with and replaced them with much more reliable ones, got the brake readjusted, and swapped out the stock wheels for another pair (only slightly less crappy) I had sitting around.  No more flats...hopefully!  6.75 miles each way.

Wednesday AM: 4 miles, easy

Thursday PM: 5 miles, easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: AM: 5 miles, easy
                 PM: 25 mile ride on my SuperSix.  The first half of this ride was pure torture.  I wanted to just throw myself into oncoming traffic.  It was barely 40 degrees and windy as all hell.  My plan was an out and back on whatever roads I felt like riding on in Howard County.  After about 5 or 6 miles straight into a stiff wind, I turned off onto the first road I could find just to change up my direction.  I only felt moderately better.  It was hard to breathe for some reason and I still felt like crap.  After hitting my turn around point, I shed my outer layer of clothing and immediately felt 100% better.  The ride back to my car was a bit more fun and overall, it wasn't too bad for my first real training ride back.

Sunday:  10 miles, easy/moderate pace.  This felt pretty decent.  It was in the low 30s but no wind, so pretty good temperatures to run.  Though, there is something about my left leg/back and my bike(s) that is not agreeing.  It seems like my lower back is getting tight and its pulling on my quad.  Stretching seems to keep it at bay.  According to the wonderful internet causes can include bike fit and weak core, amongst other things.  I also know for a fact that my left leg is weaker than my right, I can actually tell that it has less muscle on it.  It may be time to incorporate some targeted weight training, but I'm still undecided about my approach to that.  Working on core should be pretty easy though, I've got some old tricks in that department that I'll finally stick to if it means more comfort on the bike.

As far as bike fit goes, my two bikes have different seat heights and different saddles (one just a bit more padded than the other).  It seems my CAAD8 (more padded, just a tad lower seat height) is giving me less trouble than my SuperSix, but only a real ride on the CAAD8, not commuting, will tell for sure.  After my next legit ride, if my leg and back feel better on the CAAD8, I'll have to match the seat heights and possibly get a slightly more cushioned saddle.  The physical geometry of the bikes otherwise are identical, which is why I have this particular pair.

Miles run: 39
Mikes biked: 25
Miles commuted by bike: 13.5

Up for this week, cracking 40 miles of running, still keeping it to one bike training ride, and no running workouts.  I do have the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler coming up this Saturday.  With an imminent course change from last year, matching my time may prove difficult, but I'll have to see what happens!  It will mostly be a race to see how I stack up against some of the strong runners in the area as it usually draws a good crowd.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jingle Bells, Redskins, Jets, and More Training!

The grand totals for this week:

Running: 7.5 miles
Cycling: 27 miles

This was comprised of a 3 mile run on Friday, a 5K race on Saturday (with some warming up) and two commutes to work by bike.  First, getting rid of my hybrid bike and picking up a Cannondale CAAD8, the entry level version of my good road bike was an awesome idea.  After riding so much in road bike geometry, I could not go back to an upright position.  It just felt wrong.

Second, I feel both mentally and physically refreshed.  That 5K was my only hard run of the week, and I mostly did it because two of my college friends who have never really been runners had decided to do it.  Now between the two of them, they have done a total of four 5Ks.  It's awesome that they got into running, and I certainly wanted to encourage it, even if it meant running a 5K race 1 week after a marathon.

It took place around Centennial Lake in Howard County, and was a "jingle bell" themed race to raise money for arthritis.  I chose not to wear jingle bells, mostly because the ringing is incredibly annoying.  I guess that makes me a Grinch, but whatever.  The actual race was pretty uneventful; I wasn't expecting a whole lot of competition and didn't get much.  A group of 5 people went out ahead of me, but within 0.25 miles it was down to one other runner.  For a fleeting moment I thought he would stick around but by 0.75 miles it was just me, the lead bike, and no more jingle bells.  The ringing was overwhelmingly annoying when I was around the others.

The first mile was mostly downhill and I came through the first split a bit too fast...5:12.

The rest of the course was rolling with many, many turns as the path snaked around the lake.  There was even some ice and mud around, though the bike ahead of me always pointed out the hazards in advance (which was awesome!).

I came back down to Earth for mile 2...5:27

As I started to feel myself fade with less than a mile to go, I upped my effort to try and stay on pace.  For the most part it worked and I didn't really fade.

Mile 3...5:32

Final time...16:43

It was hairy near the finish as I caught up to the bulk of the walking pack, but thanks to that bicycle, he got everyone to stay to the right.  I nearly caught up as he had to slow down while all I did was kick it up as much as I could.

Not the best 5K I've ever run, but considering it was just an off season race, I'll take it.  After some more running, I should get that back into the 16:20s so I can take a legit shot at knocking more time off my PR.

Thanks to the lack of running Sunday, I managed to go to my first live NFL game, and saw my Jets beat the Redskins after a few hours of tailgating.  It was nice to be able to just dedicate the entire day to that without having to worry about getting a run in and (most likely) getting up at an ungodly hour to get my mileage in.  Actually having the energy to sit through a football game fully focused was really nice.  I'm usually battling falling asleep Sunday afternoons watching football after getting a long run in!

Though its been nice to kick back and actually have more free time than I could ever want, it will get old quick, and I'm itching to get back to it.  So that NFL game was certainly a good way to send off my relax week with a bang.  But now, it's time to get back to business.

This coming week will actually involve 6 days of running, though less than 50 miles total and 1 legit bike ride plus two commutes.  No hard workouts, just easy/moderate running and cycling.  Most of December will continue to be quiet, just not as quiet as this past week.

I've got one more race scheduled for December, the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a race I finished in the top 10 last year but never actually got an official result.  Damned if that happens again...