Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finally Winter, at least for a few days (1/16-1/22)

Weekends like this past one always make me think I should move to a more mild climate.  I absolutely despise snow.  Snow causes the following, none of which are favorable:

-Slippery running conditions, ice covered tracks, snow covered trails
-Snow on my car that I have to clean off
-High chance of accidents since no one can drive in snow
-Even if I do get a day off of work, we just work twice as hard later to catch up

Basically, snow sucks.  I have no problem with freezing cold temperatures, but that fluffy stuff and the ice that comes with it...UGH!  But anyway, the snow is all gone now thanks to warmer temperatures and some rain.

AM: 5 miles, easy
PM: 6 miles, moderate

No work thanks to MLK day.  When I don't have work on a weekday and run twice, it lets me pretend just for a moment that I'm a professional runner.  Unfortunately, that dream generally ends quickly once work starts up again...

10 miles total with 5 @ tempo pace.  I did this one on the track, with the benefit of running with others (makes it a little less painful): 5:49, 5:42, 5:42, 5:41, 5:40.  Overall, pretty solid, and I felt pretty good with that one.


AM: 5 miles, easy
PM: 7 miles, easy

AM: 4 miles, easy
PM: 7 miles, easy

Snow conspired against me on this one.  All I could manage was a 16 mile fartlek run.  If it was slippery, I ran slow.  If I was sure footed, I ran fast.  I kept this one in Baltimore City and made sure to hit a couple tough hills for good measure.  Overall, I still came in around 2 hours which is decent considering the conditions.

Again, I was conspired against, this time by work.  I was supposed to get out on the course of an upcoming important race (10 mile club challenge) with the new team I'm running with.  But, my job had better plans.  Of course, we ended up causing a few thousand dollars (possibly higher than that) worth of damage to our most important piece of equipment and didn't even accomplish what we were supposed to do.  Sundays have not fared well at my company; maybe one of these days we'll plan that a bit better...

I still got in 6 miles at night, and almost busted my face on some ice.

Overall, 66 miles

That 16 miler seems to have done a number on my legs.  My left ankle a few days later is still barking a bit, my shins are not happy, and I'm a bit sore in general.  It is trending better though, so I'm not really concerned.

Thus far, this week is going better.  But more info on that is to follow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

60 mile week, 8 mile race, first "marathon workout"

Interestingly, after shelving the bike for the past couple of weeks, I have felt significantly fresher in all facets of running.  This will definitely be revisited when it gets warmer out after the Boston marathon, but for now, my focus is singular.

Overall, this was a pretty solid week as I continue to carefully add mileage:

AM: 5 miles (fast)
PM; 7 miles total with 6 at around 5:30-5:45 pace.

All this fast running was thanks to a ridiculous mishap in which my car was towed from its legal spot.  Despite getting everything resolved and not having to pay anything, I had to blow off quite a lot of steam.  It was good timing though, as I got my tempo run in a few days early, even if it was unplanned...

AM: 7 miles

In the middle of the day I had my right toe looked at.  Turns out my toenail was not quite ingrown (but was very close).  A quick trimming back has already made my foot feel much better.  Now hopefully the damn nail will grow back properly.  I actually went to the podiatrist group that was the "official" group of the Baltimore marathon for a few years.  My Geico Pacer jacket brought up a little conversation; it was great to be in good hands.

AM: 3 miles
PM: 7 miles

Since I didn't need surgery to remove that nail, I didn't actually need to take any time off.  Though the toe was a bit sore for a couple of days.  A cold rain made the Wednesday night run slightly less enjoyable.


AM: 4 miles
PM: 7 miles

5 miles; back just in time to watch the #Houston2012 twitter feed to get live updates of the Olympic Trials race.  It was certainly exciting and inspirational.  And yes, I admit, I watched the recorded broadcast in its entirety that afternoon.


16 miles total with a low key 8 mile race thrown into the mix.  I ran a 2 mile warm up, hit the 8 miler at about 5:45 pace good for 46:14 and 2nd overall, then ran another 6 to round out the day at 16 total.  I think that counts as my first legit marathon workout.

The race was an interesting one, taking place at the Loch Raven reservoir, a rather hilly area.  Last year, I had run a 47:21 and was hoping to knock that time down a bit.  Overall, it was successful.  My race was pretty consistent, save the large uphill portion in the middle of the race.

I also probably should have worn more than a singlet, shorts, arm warmers, and thin running gloves because it was freaking cold.  It was somewhere around 25 degrees.  By the time I had finished the race, my hands were completely frozen, my toes were cold, and lets just say that my shorts provided little protection for other areas as well.  To top it off, my left shoe came untied with 2 miles to go.

I didn't bother to stop, since I wouldn't be able to tie it anyway (I was barely able to get into my car to defrost after the race), and 3rd place was hot on my heels.  Unfortunately, the shoe slowed me down a bit, especially on the downhills.  I almost kicked it off, but opted to keep it on and just finish without falling.

Splits: 5:46, 5:32, 5:45, 5:40, 6:23, 5:46, 5:35, 5:47.  Clearly, I could use some more hill work, but overall I'm happy with where I am for January.

Total Miles: 61

Next up...60-69 mile weeks for the next two, then a step back the following week.  A 5k the first weekend in February, and the 10 Mile club challenge are on the horizon for the next races.  Only racing twice in a month is substantially easier both mentally and physically!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


A mileage update to catch up to today:

12/26- PM: 6 miles, easy/moderate pace

12/27-9.2 miles total with 5x1000 meter (1 lap recovery): 3:21; 3:18; 3:19; 3:13; 3:09.  Good start to my return to workouts.

12/28- AM: 4 miles, easy
            PM: 6.5 miles, easy/moderate

12/29-Commute to work, 20 mile ride back, 25 miles total

12/30-AM: 4 miles, easy

12/31-10.5 miles, comfortable pace with about 15 other people, good New Years Eve run

1/1-9 miles with the Resolution Run 5K, 16:44

Total: 49.2 miles run, 25 miles biked

1/2- AM: 8 miles total, easy/moderate

1/3- PM: 10 miles total with a ladder: 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m with half the distance for rest.  It was cold and real windy for this workout, my first true winter weather run.  Splits: 75, 2:31, 3:45, 5:11, 3:48, 2:29, 72.  The mile was a tad slow, but overall a solid workout given the conditions.

1/4-AM: 4 miles, easy extremely cold, 16 degrees.  That beats the previous coldest run I've done (ignoring windchill) by 3 degrees.  Even though the forecast claimed there was wind, I didn't feel it.  This actually felt better than 25 degrees with 15mph winds on a track from the previous day.

      PM: 7 miles, easyish pace, much warmer, in the 30s.


1/6-PM: 7 miles, easy/moderate

On tap for the weekend is a 6 mile run and a 14 miler to bring the week to the mid 50s.  I'm not cranking out as many hard miles as I have in the past this early on.  I've got the 1 workout a week going, the long runs for now are staying easy no fancy progression runs or anything of the sort.  For now, it's just about coaxing the weekly mileage up.  Other than some lingering minor abdominal cramps (probably need more water and/or need to get used to cold air), and some skin that has completely rubbed off my left heel leaving raw exposed skin, I feel pretty strong.

I was going to run a 5 mile race today, but the venue changed last minute and it will neither be much of a road race, nor is it guaranteed to be anywhere near 5 miles.  Given that I'm picking and choosing my spots, I'm opting instead for a hilly more accurate fully on roads 8 miler next week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Running: My One True Love

Thoughts as to my 2012 plans have been swimming around in my head for some time.  I've already made some rather drastic changes all in an effort to best position myself to get faster.  To sum up:

1. I significantly cut back time volunteering in the running community, at least through running itself.  Most of what I do now is behind the scenes and balanced in such a way that I can get runs in without doing them at ungodly hours.  It gives me more physical time to run, to be able to focus on my training, and to actually get some sleep.

2. I forced myself to cut back on racing, holding steadfast to signing up for only 2 races a month, and as much as possible, spreading them out.  I train to train and race to race, that's the mantra for this year.  Though I won't exactly cut back mileage for every race I do, I won't train through every single one either.

3. I carefully constructed a coherent and well thought out training plan based on all my observations from December 2009 to the present.  Through that time, I've learned how much I can handle, how long I can peak, what it takes to burn out, and what it takes to be sharp.  This plan is designed to deliver me to Boston ready, sharp, and peaked.

I've eliminated unknowns and really decided to refocus.  It's been great that I've felt so fresh since taking an easy December.  I've raced really well for having done barely any workouts (two 16:44 5Ks and a 27:01 5 miler).  And, any lingering issues I've had are fading (minus an ingrown toenail that is being fixed ASAP).

Now as I stand over my training schedule and look to Boston for the third year in a row (with hopes of getting there for the first time), I see the bike miles I have planned and wonder.  I don't know how I'll respond to the bike on top of the running.  I know the running will work, but the bike is still very new, and very unknown.  I also know that there is no way I can get myself into equivalent cycling shape.  I have neither the time nor the desire, not to mention it would have to come at the cost of running.  For the 5 or 6 duathlons I participated in last year, I only encountered two legit runners, the rest were all fodder on foot who made fodder of me on the bike.  In my heart, I know I'm just a runner anyway.

So here I stand, leaning heavily to just shelving the bike completely at least until after Boston and focusing on just running, my one and only true love (14 years...there is nothing else I've associated with for that long!).  I originally figured the bike would be my mileage check, keeping me from overdoing it.  But, I've clearly learned enough to stick to the plan and keep the mileage and racing reasonable without another sport running interference.

I already backed off of going after the triathlon because going from drowning in a pool to swimming a few laps would take way too much work, at the cost of running.  Just as I look at the bike of "getting in the way" of running, I thought the same thing about going into the tri.  To get better at running I have to dedicate myself fully; it is clearly getting harder and I have to stay on top of my game.  Getting into anything else will only hurt my running because of where I've ended up.

No decisions are final, but at the end of the day, I'm only going to be between the ages of 25-30 once and I don't know if I want to spend them chasing after people on a bike when I have big hopes and dreams for running.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Get Off My Lawn! Resolution Run 5K

In what has become a bit of a tradition, I ran once again at the Resolution Run 5K, held at 2pm at Patterson Park in Baltimore.  For anyone who has run in this park, you can understand that any 5K held there would be reasonably tough thanks to the decently long hill right in the middle.

The weather was pretty good, low 50s with a light to moderate wind.  Since the course direction changes so frequently, the wind would not be too much of an issue.  The start and finish were shifted for this year's race, but the overall course basically stayed exactly as it has been the past 3 times I've done this race.  It started off with a short loop back through the start, knocking off the first mile and going uphill ever so slightly.  It then turned off for a longer loop complete with about 2/3 mile worth of up hill before coming back down to Earth at mile 2.  The longer loop then continues onto the back part of the short loop, before finishing on the same slight uphill encountered during mile 1.  Basically, it was a slow and painful course.

Going into this race, I was just looking to get the legs moving a bit and "see what happens."  My first track workout in well over a month was just this past Tuesday, a 5x1000 meter.  Besides that run, my last 5K and 5 Mile races in December were my only hard runs.  As I took the start line, there were two guys who looked like they would make this a race.  One looked slightly familiar, the other looked young, wearing a Pacer running store singlet.

The gun went off and we started at what felt a bit fast; shocking for a 5K.  Pacer singlet seemed surprisingly relaxed.  I decided he was faking it and there was no way this pace was comfortable.  I got tripped, cut someone off and got elbowed, so for some reason, we were all very antsy running around each other.

As we moved through the short loop, I began to realize that we were going way too fast.  At about the 0.5 mile point, I decided to back off, right before the hills and let Pacer and Mr. Familiar go.  After a slight uphill I hit the first mile in 5:13.  Those other guys never skipped a beat and had a huge lead on me in a hurry.  They easily hit that first mile at 5:08 or better, meaning that we had to be flying before the first uphill.

Regardless, I was pretty happy with my decision to back off, lest I die of asphyxiation trying to get up the big climb in the middle of the race.  As we turned up to the hill, Mr. Familiar began to put distance on Pacer, and I realized Pacer was already starting to drop back to me.  My gamble may have paid off, as I was fresher for the hill.

As we finally crested the top and began flying down the backside, I continued to slowly creep up on Pacer.  Mile 2, which I didn't get because I missed the split button on my watch was about a 5:34.  Kind of slow, but I suck at going uphill in 5Ks.

We pushed on and in about another 1/3 of a mile, I finally established contact with Pacer.  He seemed extremely impatient and uncomfortable with me running near him.  Every time I came up on his shoulder, he put himself a stride ahead of me.  This must have happened 2 or 3 times over the next quarter mile.  Finally, I decided I just needed to pass him.  We were closing on the finish, and I know I have no 5K kick, so I had to get distance on this runner.

I managed to pass him, but could tell I wasn't gaping him.  I knew now this was going to be a painful finish.  He went and passed me again and tried putting the gap on me.  He almost succeeded, as I had to dig real deep to get back up and stay on his shoulder.  We then unfortunately hit a wall of walkers doing the 1 mile walk who were all over the course.  At that point, I was content with just staying right behind him as we weaved in and out of people.

Once we cleared the walkers, we hit the same uphill where earlier in the race I had backed off to save energy.  Of course now, I was pretty spent, but managed to get ahead one last time as soon as we cleared the walkers.  But AGAIN he passed me and as we hit mile 3 in about 5:22; I just didn't have any gears left after that.  Pacer crossed the line in 16:41, I crossed in 16:44.  The winner (who actually finished 3rd and 12 seconds behind me last year) finished in 16:32.  Overall, it was a decently close race all the way around.

I wasn't sure what this 16:44 meant at first.  Then I finally had some perspective.  I matched my 5K time from December, which was on a much easier course and this time was 3 seconds faster than this race last year.  Though the start and finish lines moved, the course was basically the same.  I also managed to run a real fast 3rd mile, which really surprised me because that NEVER happens.  With a flatter course (or some more hills/speed work), I think I can get back down to PR range in a hurry.  Either way this a great way to start off 2012 as my mileage and workouts start to ramp up.  It's time to get some this year!

The only really, really, really unfortunate part of this whole story is the guy who beat me.  As it turns out, this kid is 16 years old.  Really?  16 and running a 16:41 on a tough course?  So in my first race of 2012, I got burned by a FREAKING 16 year old.  GWAH...get off my damn lawn!!!

Seriously though, it was a great race, I wish they were all like that (though I wouldn't mind winning the duel next time!).  I also need to stop getting burned in 5Ks, it seems to happen way too often!