Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Goals and Strategy Planning

I'm feeling like I'm slowly getting over this head-cold. I've been able to put in some good runs, including a tempo run yesterday. It went ok, I still am recovering from CIM, but feel like I'm recovering a lot faster than I have from marathons in the past. Cool.

btw - Getting tempo runs 'right' have always been a struggle for me. Ideally, you warm up, then start *slowly* speeding up to just under or just over LT (Lactate Threshold - about 10K pace). Stay there for a while, and then slowly ramp back down again - with a little extra bump / kick before you totally hit your cool down. I never feel like my transitions are smooth and care-free. I have to think too much and often hit paces too fast, too early. That's one resolution for this winter - get the 'tempo' run just right so they come naturally.

It will take a couple more weeks before I'm out of 'recovery' mode, but now is a great time to start thinking about 2012 races and goals. I spent some time this weekend reflecting on the past year (what worked, what didn't) and also what I want to try and accomplish next year. Then I backed that up into what my winter and spring training need to look like.

I thought I would share those with you guys because the structure might help as you think about what you each want to do next year. I'm a firm believer that if you don't have a plan, then your chance of improving or feeling good about the past year is left to chance. Even if all you want to do is 'run some more' - I think putting structure around that really helps getting you from 'as-is' to 'to-be'. I think this applies to any 'resolution' you might have for 2012. Most resolutions fall into the dust bin because good intentions aren't coupled with a realistic plan. So here goes:

Status on Goal for 2011:
  • Run a sub-3 marathon: Missed this one (3:10:51) - but I really felt like I'm getting a better handle on racing the whole distance. In previous years, the wheels would start to fall off at about mile 18 - this year that didn't happen until mile 23.
  • Run a sub-1:30 half: Did it twice! One of those was Denver, which is not a trivial course (hills and altitude).
  • Race a lot with different distances to become a better rounded runner: I raced 9 races this year, compared to previous years when I'd only race 2 or 3 races. The experience racing really helped a ton - especially learning about racing various distances.
Goals for 2012 (with some stretch goals in parenthesis):
  • Sub-3 Marathon (Chicago) (2:59:59 / 6:53) – current (3:10:51 / 7:17)
  • Sub-1:27 Half-Marathon (1:25:20 / 6:31) – current (1:29:26 / 6:50)
  • Sub-40min 10K (38:21 / 6:10) – current (41:52 / 6:44)
  • Sub 19min 5K (18:28 / 5:57) – current (NA) 

I realize some of these are a pretty good stretch. I really feel I figured a lot out about my training this year and think I'll be able to come pretty close to these and have a great season next year if I can stick through some solid training changes this winter and into the spring (see below). 


Strategy and Approach:
  • RACE OFTEN! (vary intensity / goal of each race as needed to maintain) – goal is to toe up often and practice different parts of the race. Throw in more ad-hoc  5Ks to stay sharp.
  • Bump overall mileage by 15% (peak at 70-ish mi instead of 58mi-60mi). Work over the winter to boost average weekly mileage.
  • Keep steady long run @16mi (Sundays) – w/additional long run during week during winter / spring
  • Run some ‘training marathons’ to really hone in on that last 10K. Run them slower 60s lower than MP with race pace in the last 10K. Treat them as ‘long runs’.
  • Consistent strength training (upper / lower / core) during the winter (2x / week)
  • Winter weekly quality workouts (Long Run, 2nd Long Run, Tempo/Hills/Track, Tempo/Fartlek) with 2/1 cycle (2 strong weeks / 1 recovery week)
  • Track in winter is mostly 400s / 800s (Yassos) – play around with some different workouts
  • Swimming – 1X / week  (maybe a tri in Summer?) 
  • Cycling as recovery but also as a way to push LT performance (hill climbs / time trial)
  • Maintain weight (168lbs) over most of winter. Gradually try to get down to 160lbs racing weight (better calorie timing) by mid-Spring and maintain.
2012 Races (subject to change :-)


Date        Race                     Notes
1/8/2012    10K/5K Trophy Series       
2/12/2012   7mi/5K Trophy Series
3/4/2012    3mi Trophy Series
4/7/2012    4mi Trophy Series
4/15/2012   Platte River ½ Marathon  Or RMRR Train Mara?
5/6/2012    5mi/5K Trophy Series
5/28/2012   10K Bolder Boulder       KEY RACE - Sub-40?
6/?/2012    Training Marathon        Last 10K @ MP?
7/?/2012    10K Loveland Classic     Another Sub-40?   
8/12/2012   Training Marathon        Last 10K @ MP?
9/5/2012    Boulder ½ Marathon       Or P2P 10mi?      
10/7/2012   Chicago Marathon         KEY RACE - Sub-3?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sick....

Picked up a head cold that started Tuesday night. I think running the marathon, then getting on some plane flights is probably a recipe for that - but what are you gonna do?

Ran a few times this week, and actually my legs are recovering well. I had 10mi planned for today (Sunday), but decided to bag it when last night the head cold moved into my lungs a bit. Body just needs a couple days off - and it's ok this time of year :-)

Starting to formulate a plan for the winter and race schedule for next year. Will try to post some ideas as they formulate.

In the meantime; sleep, nutrition and take it very easy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Calves......

Ok, different kind of calves.

Today was my first day running since the marathon last Sunday. That was pretty much on schedule to what I was planning for (taking M/T/W off).

We got back from Sacramento on Monday night. Then on Tuesday I was back to the airport early to fly to Alabama for work. Much delayed coming back yesterday (Delta+ATL=bad) - such that I got home around 1am or so.

Today I hit the treadmill over lunch. 6mi varying pace from 10:00 down to 8:30's - just easy to shake things out.

Overall I felt pretty good, but my calves are the most sore. I was able to run just fine, but they are definitely the muscle group taking the longest to come back.

Feeling a little of those post-race blues this week. Kind of lost. I need to figure out my racing calendar for next year. Pick the big races and then go from there. The biggest decision I have is whether to do NY next fall, or pick a marathon I can try to run fast again. Still have the sub-3 bug in my head.

From there the other races will fall into place pretty easily. One of my track-mates had a great suggestion to run one or two marathons as 'long runs' in training. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Other races I think will be on the calendar will be Bolder Boulder, Loveland 10K and then probably the Denver 1/2 (or maybe that's a training full?)

Anywhoo... not much to report other than just recovering and feeling a little spent and blue.

I'm sure going out this weekend and getting a Christmas tree will bolster my spirits :-)))

Monday, December 5, 2011

CIM Race Report

I ran the California International Marathon (CIM) this past Sunday.

My time was: 3:10:51 - which was slower than I was hoping (3:03 - 3:07), but still a PR of about 8 minutes over my 2010 Boston Marathon time - so I'll take it :-)

Everything also went absolutely perfectly leading up the race - with the exception of getting a bad bout of food poisoning on Monday night / Tuesday this past week. However - by race day, those after effects were long gone and I don't think it was a factor.

My taper went really well, no lingering injuries or tweaks. My nutrition was really good and on Friday morning I weighed in about 167 (had lost a couple pounds over the past few months).

Race day prep went flawlessly and the racing weather was perfect for me. Probably about 38-40 degrees at the start and stayed cool throughout the race. The only time I felt cold was when I shed my sweats at the check-in, but then I walked right into the corral and the warmth of other racers around. Once the gun went off, I felt perfect body temp the whole way.

They call this course the 'fastest course in the west' - due to it's overall elevation loss. But I was warned by everyone that had run it that it's deceptive and not necessarily a 'fast' course due to the rollers - especially in the first 15miles.

That's my assessment as well. It doesn't ever really feel 'overall downhill'. There are enough tough little climbs that it keeps you thinking about pace and form throughout. And those early hills came back to haunt me later in the race miles (in the way of having every muscle group in my lower body sore and spent).

I followed my coach's advice (and everyone else's) and stuck to my pacing early on - avoiding going out too fast. I really focused on running with good, smooth form to minimize any pounding or bad form soreness. I hydrated well and even ate well (although I can never take in enough calories - a marathon at my weight burns about 3,100 kCal. I'd hurl if I tried to even come close to that before or during. I may have hit about 1/2 that. I still had the usual blood sugar / stare off into space feeling at the end.

At mile 23 though, my pace started to degrade. I went from an average of 7:03 pace in the first 16 to losing a couple seconds overall by mile 20 - which is what I figured would happen. But then at mile 23 I was hanging on to a 7:50 pace, just trying to get in under 3:10 (or at least not see the clock tick over that).

After 6 marathons now I feel like I'm still working on being able to 'race' the distance. Today was the furthest I felt I was in 'race' mode - about 23 miles. If I can get that to 25, then I think I'll be able to finish stronger - next year's goal.

On another note - it's a very well run and beautiful course. There were a few times I got to glance out at the scenery. And the crowds were great - lots of fast racers. And finish line pancakes / strawberries and syrup - yeah!

Now it's time for recovery and the holidays. And just having some fun running with no structure for a few months.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Most Interesting Runner in the World



  • He once ran a marathon backwards, just to see what it looked like to finish in second place.*
  • Going forward, he is the only man allowed to pace Paula Radcliffe in world record attempts – mostly because the IAAF is afraid to tell him otherwise.
  • He doesn't care what P-Diddy’s marathon time was.
  • He doesn't wear a RoadID bracelet. Because he never runs into trouble and everyone knows who he is.
  • He doesn't wear a GPS, because wherever he is, is the perfect place to be.
  • Even his minimalist shoes provide a soft, cushioned feel on his long runs. Not that he needs it.
  • Out of respect, the wind always blows at his back. Unless *he* wants a head-wind. What, you thought that perfectly coiffed hair happens all by itself?
  • Actually – it does.
  • He has run with ultra-runners Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek on their long runs;  on the same day; separately.
  • If you ran with him, you would not wear an iPod. Because his breathing and foot-falls sound like a chorus of angels. Angels that could sing you a lullaby and pace you into the dirt at the same time.
  • His post workout running clothes smell like a fine double malt scotch airing in a sandalwood forest breeze with just a hint of myrrh. You heard me.
  • He doesn't wear sunscreen. His skin is naturally SPF 10,000. He remains perfectly tanned year round.
  • His after run stretching routine consists of reaching into the upper cabinet to retrieve the martini glasses and downwards to get the cocktail shaker. He does not always drink beer.
  • Boston qualified for him.
  • He never brings a water bottle on a long run. When he becomes slightly parched, it rains – ever so gently.
  • On his off days, he does Yoga to stay limber. ‘Yoga’ being the beautiful Indonesian super-model that lives in his village. Yoga is in fact the only reason he takes ‘off’ days from running.
Stay Thirsty My Friends. And Run Fast.

*Credit where credit is due. This one was an official commercial and it got me thinking... the rest are originals.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Top 10 Ways Running in China is Different than in the US

My friend Katy (http://runlongkatie.com/) suggested that I write something along the lines of this. To be honest, I hadn't really thought lately about the differences in experiences of running in China vs running in the US. I've been traveling out there for some time on a regular basis, so I guess I've just gotten used to the differences and don't really think too much about them.

In some regards, there really aren't any differences. I mean, you put on your shoes, head out the door, and plod down the sidewalk, path or street. The 'movement' of running is exactly the same, except that you're running 'upside down' when compared to the US... or is it us that runs upside down here? Hmmm....

But there are differences in preparation, during the run and even the experiences around you (people, terrain, etc.)

1. You have to think ahead about water. Water out of the tap is not really drinkable. We take that for granted in the US. I always have bottled water (like 5 liter jugs of it) in the hotel room. The four little complimentary bottles they give me in my room every day don't cut it when it comes to my water usage - especially for long runs. I do always wonder if the stores though just fill up those bottles from the tap anyway. Best not to think about it.

2. There really aren't restrooms available on the run. Unlike in the US, where you have porta-potties in parks and along trails - there aren't as many of these on the routes I run. There are a few in the parks I pass through, but it's hit and miss as to whether they are open when you need them. It's probably a little more acceptable to take a 'non-facility' potty break (I see people doing it from time to time in some of the fields and ditches on the sides of the roads) - but it's a last resort for me. I don't have the language skills to explain myself to a property owner if I picked the wrong spot.

3. Traffic and streets are not runner friendly and almost deserve their own blog post because it is one of the most complex and different aspects of getting around in China - and especially running. I don't run in the street and traffic in China is akin to what would happen if you took a bunch of New Yorkers, had them smoke crack and then told them they had to get to the other side of town in 1/2 the time it should normally take. I compare crossing through China traffic as a pedestrian akin to stepping into the business end of a particle accelerator. Traffic moves in every direction, at speeds that are well above those posted. Lines on the road, signals, rights-of-way - these are all simply 'suggestions'. Buses have the right of way over pedestrians, and although pedestrians have the right of way over cars - I wouldn't push the issue. You'd end up getting clipped. Eye contact is non existent. In fact, the surest way to intimidate a driver that is encroaching on your crosswalk is to look right into his eyes. They won't return the gaze, but sometime they'll stop encroaching. Luckily I only have a few streets to cross on my morning runs to get to the long river path. On the way out, it's early enough that traffic is very light. On the way back, they at least now have traffic cops putting some order to the intersections and ensuring pedestrians don't just get plowed over. I make a point of always crossing in the middle of a throng of pedestrians. Part school of fish approach to looking bigger / part physics - the car will hit several pedestrians before me, shedding some of it's momentum. Yes, that's morbid, but I've thought about it. It's survival instinct. Finally, my peripheral vision has gotten exceptional walking and running around China streets all these years. And when I'm there it's super-charged. I notice it when I return to the US. I notice things out of the corners of my eyes that I usually don't notice. Ok, enough of that one.

4. You should be prepared to be stared at. Not just when running, but especially unnerving is when standing in a group of pedestrians waiting to cross. I've had 7 or 10 people just turn and stare right at me, looking me up or down. They don't mean anything by it, it's culturally more accepted to stare like that I think. I just smile or ignore it. I imagine it's what being a celebrity feels like - so I'll go with that.

5. You don't blend in. At 6'1" and dressed in running clothes, I'm one of those things that's 'not like the other' in China. It's impossible for me to blend in like I can traveling domestically or even in Europe. People know I'm not from there. Once I was running on a rainy morning and stumbled on a loose paver stone. I went out the front door, did a complete shoulder roll and came back up on my feet to keep running - almost in one complete move. I got stared at, but nobody said a word. I wouldn't have blamed them actually if they had laughed - I'm sure it looked pretty funny to see this giant go down in an uncoordinated mess - but that's not the way there. It was almost as if nothing happened - except for the staring.

6. When I first started running years ago, you didn't see other runners. There weren't many Westerner's in the locale I'm in and the Chinese didn't run. Since the Olympics, running has become more popular as a way to keep fit and healthy. I now see more runners that are Chinese running, both in running gear as well as street gear or jogging suits. I wave, sometimes they wave back and smile. There's a bond there I think between all runners. Of course the Chinese still haven't warmed up to running in crappy weather. I've gotten some strange looks from people that 'have' to be out in the cold rain (commuting or working). It's a look of, "Uhhmm... it's raining. What are you doing out here? Are you ok? Did you have a head injury?". I should say I used to get those looks in Michigan a lot and I'll get them in other areas of the country. Not in Colorado. We all understand here. The looks exchanged are more, "Awesome isn't it dude? It's so freakin' crappy!!!"

7. It can be very humid and hot. Look, I've run in Houston, Miami, Atlanta and throughout the South in the dead of summer. While it doesn't get as hot in Hangzhou as in say Tucson in the middle of the day (I once went running there in 115 degree weather and the only living thing I saw was a scorpion) - NONE of the places in the US have higher perceived humidity than south China. Sorry, it's not. Don't even try to argue with me until you've gone. You'll see. It's more than the fact that you can come back from a run, go fully clothed right into the shower and not get any wetter. You get super-saturated. But the fall and even the winter are fairly nice and can even get chilly. And I always run very early, so I avoid the heat of the day.

8. Air quality is something I get asked a lot about. You know, it's definitely worse than in the US, but in the mornings, running along the breezy river - the air is just fine. I'm pretty sensitive to poor air quality. Sometimes my throat will get sore or my eyes a little red, but overall I'd say I don't notice most days. Mid-day is probably worse - not just from the cars, coal plants and such, but also from the construction dust. They are always building EVERYWHERE there - so there is more of that. And some cities are much worse than others. I've been to Jinan, Shanghai and Beijing - and all can be worse - although parts of Shanghai seem to stay pretty clear due to the winds and proximity to the ocean. Anyway, it's rarely an issue because again - I run in the very early morning.

9. Treadmills use the metric system on the displays. I have a pace converter on my phone though. It's hard to do that math in your head (I can go from KM to miles, but doing miles per hour to KM / hour is tough for me to do in my head). The good news is that just like in the US, most hotel gyms are empty - or if someone is on the treadmill, they are unlikely to last more than 15 minutes (both there and here). It's universal.

10. While nutrition isn't really running per say, it's an important difference and a challenge in China. The food is good - but it's restaurant food - so you're challenged to ensure you're eating right. In the US there are more options that I use when traveling domestically, but in China - not as much. I generally bring some staple foods like Kind nutrition bars, a special oatmeal mix of oatmeal / raisins / almonds and brown sugar. Big bag of it. I also get a couple of the dehydrated meals from REI. They are surprisingly good and there is some welcome familiarity to them by the end of the first week.

Anyway - those are the main things I can think of. If you want to experience a video tour of one of my runs, I posted one a while back here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Inflation.... the good kind

On my most recent visit to my massage therapist, I got to try out the latest in sports recovery. You may have heard about this being used heavily during Le Tour de France.

It's basically a pair of boots that go from foot to hip - or in my case, upper thigh - that are hooked up to an air pump. The contraption then inflates the boots to compress the muscles in your legs. One of the programs starts at the ankles and moves up the leg. Other programs simply inflate the whole leg boot. The program I was on was the former.

The theory is the same as around compression socks and tights, only taken to a more significant level. Compression of the muscles after a difficult effort is purported to help with circulation, which in turn aids recovery. They keep blood from pooling in the lower extremities. It's been used for years to treat medical conditions related to problems around circulation and there is some medical evidence to suggest this works well for athlete's and recovery for the same reasons. There was a good blog post I found on this subject here.

Anecdotally, I've noticed that wearing compression sleeves on my calves after tough workouts, does seem to help them avoid some of the achy-ness a day or so later (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - DOMS). In fact the three most significant rituals that have really helped speed my long run recoveries have been:

1. Substantive and balanced recovery drink within the 30 minute 'glycogen' window after a sustained, tough effort. During that window, your body absorbs carbohydrates at a rate that is 3x (300%) higher than normal. This is part of calorie timing.

2. Ice bath - you get used to it, and it really does work. Sitting in the tub with cold water and 5lb of ice cubes floating around you. Hint - wear a sweatshirt and read the paper to pass the time.

3. Compression sleeves on my calves until the next morning. I haven't yet tried the full tights - might be a little unwieldy.

There are some suggestions that compression can help with performance as well, but the evidence there is more spotty. I do notice a difference wearing compression tights on recovery runs, but they actually seem to inhibit me a little in trying to run fast.

Pneumatic compression pictured above is a much more active form of compression and certainly, you'd have a tough time running with those big boots on, carrying the vacuum pump along with you. These are purely for recovery and again, they have some pretty strong medical data and usage behind them prior to athletes strapping them on.

So how was the experience?

Well, it was right after a sport massage, so the compression on the muscles felt good. Like someone with VERY big hands pushing the muscle and tissue towards my upper body to kind of finish them off in a massage kind of way. In that regard they were kind of an amplified version of what a massage therapist does towards the end of a massage. There were a couple times when it felt like it was going to pass over the threshold of too much pressure and some pain, but it always backed off right before that. The setting I was using was 10/10 - so that's to be expected.

Right afterwards my legs felt better than they usually feel after a massage. And that lasted at least until the next morning. In short, they seemed to help 'recover' from the massage.

I had a tough pacing run the next day. On that I didn't really notice any difference from the previous days session. Granted, it's tough to pull apart all those different things (recovering from China travel, workout two days prior, massage, compression, weather conditions (it was cold out), etc).

So the jury is out on whether the pneumatic compression is worth it. My massage therapist hasn't decided how much he would charge for a session like that, or how he even wants to work it into his practice. I was just one of his data points / experiments.

I do think my current rituals around recovery seem to be working pretty well. And massage about every 4-6 weeks definitely helps to keep things loosened up during training season too. But I probably won't be dropping the $750 bucks or so for the home version of the big moon boots any time soon.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Long Time... Long Runs...

So I realize it's been weeks and weeks since I posted anything. Chalk it up to being out of the country in China, traveling to see my daughter up in college in Arcata, CA, Halloween - and then of course trying to catch up at work from all of that.

But I've been able to run quite a bit still and to the schedule for the upcoming CA International Marathon on 12/4.

This time of training has been peppered with the 'truly' long runs. Everyone has a different definition of a 'long run' - for me, it's any run over 14 miles. To properly race a marathon, you've gotta have several 20+ mile runs under your belt, just so the distance isn't really an issue and you can focus on going fast.

Today was I think my 5th 20+ mile run (22 miles). The last 22 mile run was a couple weeks ago while I was in Hangzhou, China. That run was one of those runs I just had a wonderful time on and really appreciated the whole thing. It was cool and rainy. I started while it was still dark out so I could get in the mileage. The rain was that light, misting rain. Running along the river, nobody is up yet. It really is a wonderful, contemplative time. The rain keeps you inside yourself quite a bit so to speak. Then on the way back, the city is coming to life. It's such a great feeling to be running those last couple miles back knowing that you've already accomplished about 3 hours of running. And it was the first 18+ mile run where I felt strong throughout the distance.

Same with today. The weather was absolutely beautiful and perfect running weather. Nice cool fall day, 48-52 degrees throughout, sunny. I ran from the Aspen Grove shopping center (which happens to be a light rail stop). Ran up the wandering, dirt path of the Highline Canal Trail, north about 10 miles to the Dry Creek cutoff. From there I made my way over to the Platte and then headed north to downtown Denver. Once I got downtown, I hopped on the light rail train for a 20 minute ride back to my car.

Timing wise, everything worked out perfectly. I just had missed a train, so I got to stretch out after my run for about 20 minutes until the next one arrived. I felt 'good' tired, but not exhausted. I would equate how I felt to how I felt running a 12 mile run earlier in the year. That's a great confidence booster, to know you've built up to the distance properly. Miles 15-20 were to be run at Marathon Pace (MP) - which for me was a target of 6:55. I got that no problem through mile 4, but mile 5 was more like 7:10 or so. Could be a lot of reasons for that. It was a little hilly, slight headwind, still recovering from my travel, too much wine last night :-) Still, I was so happy at how I felt after and how I feel right now. Tomorrow morning will be an easy 4mi shake-out jog, but mostly a day off.

Long runs are really enjoyable, but once you're in the home stretch before the marathon, and you've done a lot of them, I have to really rally mentally to get out there. For me, it's mostly the time away from my family. But today was a little easier knowing that at best I have one more really long run (maybe) next weekend..... well, I have another on 12/4 - but that's a little different :-)

Then it's on to relaxing and running easy probably through year end. Hopping on the snowboard, the holidays - really nice to be thinking about all that.

Oh - today was the NYC Marathon. I watched the live coverage. It's such a 'human' race - there are so many great stories out there and the coverage is usually really in depth. I'm leaning towards running it next year (2012). I actually qualify for a guaranteed entry based on my 1/2 marathon finishing times. For 2013 they are going to drop the qualifying time to way tougher than Boston - 1:26 for the 1/2 and 2:58 for the marathon (in my age group). I think I can probably hit those next year - but it would be nice to not have to worry about it and just run it in 2012. We'll see - it's a ways off.

It's funny, I've been doing a lot of thinking of my racing calendar for next year already! Sheesh! I think it's a good sign though; mentally I'm not burned out on racing. But I do need a break!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Post race blues

This past week has been a recovery week from The Denver 1/2 Marathon.

You'd think athletes would like recovery weeks. While it's nice to have a breather after a hard race, and all the training and prep leading up to it, there are the psychological post-race blues that pretty much hit you the day after the race and last for a few weeks.

Some of those blues are purely psychological, much like post-Christmas blues. There is all this build-up, excitement, planning and then 'poof' - it's over.

Some is psychological, but rooted in the physical way you feel. Because a runner runs progressively less and less in the 2-3 weeks leading up to a race (called tapering), the days before a race are the best you generally feel all year. You're not tired from a tough run a couple days prior, nothing aches and you have all this excitement flowing through your veins for the race to come. If you've done your taper properly, then you are literally bouncing off the walls in the starting corral. And when the gun goes off, you feel strong and confident - like a rocket that quickly winds up to cruising velocity.

After the race, the endorphin have kicked in to give you that 'high', which carries you pretty much until the next morning. Even the soreness / tiredness that creeps in later in the day feels good.

But the days following are pretty crappy, amplified by the alpha-human way you feel on the starting line. You're so amped up psychologically, spilling over with glycogen stores and adrenalin followed by an endorphin chaser. No wonder racing feels like an addictive drug.

And like any good buzz, there is a hang-over (generally proportional to the high). Post race-drug is no different. Paces that you could hit without even breaking a sweat are now laboring. You feel sluggish and flat (and sometimes 'fat'). You have these moments where things quicken and loosen up, but then the next day you are struggling to not shuffle during a recovery run.

You also know that you're at high risk of injury, so you shouldn't push. And you're reminded of the fact that you're very susceptible to getting sick because generally you feel that constant crappy feeling that precedes actually getting sick - even if you never actually *get* sick.

The longer the distance, the longer the recovery. I once read a rule of thumb that said you aren't 100% until a number of days after the race equal to mileage you raced (e.g. ~2 weeks for a 1/2 marathon). I don't personally think that's linear across all distances, but it's surprisingly close for me.

I'm really not trying to whine here. I've been through this enough to know the drill. I can talk myself through it, knowing that it's part of training / racing and that I haven't actually 'lost' any fitness from this past race. I've also got a final big race on the calendar in less than 8 weeks (with a Turkey-Trot 5K probably tossed in there as a tune-up) - and that really helps cushion the landing on the post race blues.

In fact, I didn't really have a point to this post other than to share my whining. It's cathartic - and I seem to have some extra time on my hands in these 13.1 days of recovery :-)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Denver Rock N' Roll 1/2 Marathon

Today was the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon and 1/2 Marathon.

Stats: 1:29:34
8th out of 307 in my division / 95th out of 2,941men

For the past 3 years, I've opted for the 'full marathon'. And every year I've watched the 1/2 marathoners at the split point heading back to the finish and thought, "Ooooo.... that would be a happier time"

Of course I'm kind of kidding. I've never regretted doing the full marathon, but given this year I'm doing the California International in early December, the timing to finally run Denver as a '1/2' worked out pretty well.

It's funny that we call 13.1 miles a '1/2 marathon'. Having raced both (and a bunch of other distances (is a 10K a 1/4 marathon??) it actually has little to do with the feel of racing a marathon (and vice versa). Both are completely different types of races, and each a great distance in their own right. Plus, I think it's unfair to the folks running 13.1 to call it a 'half' of anything. It's a substantive distance and race in it's own right. It would be like calling a 'marathon' a 'mini-ultra' - that's just cold.

In fact, I've learned that each distance has it's own feel. Even a 5K (about 3mi) and a '4 miler' have a different feel when you run them. You approach each distance differently and when I plan a race, I generally have a different strategy for how I plan to race each.

But here we are, stuck with the '1/2 marathon' label. And I'm not really going to expend a whole lot of energy making a point to call it a 13.1, or worse; make up my own name. Plus, some people might like that's it has the word 'marathon' in it - so I'll leave it at that.

So today was the Denver "1/2 Marathon" for me (and Paige). My goal was to run it in under an hour and 30 mins (or sub-90). I ran Georgetown as a sub-90, but Georgetown is 'downhill' (although as I mentioned in my Georgetown race report - that's an oversimplification of the course).

Still - I wanted to have a 'legit' sub-90 under my belt and Denver is a legit course in anybody's book. It's not super hilly, but it is at altitude.

The course is really great. A little bunched up through the first mile. Even though they have corrals, it's the honor system - meaning you tell them what you 'think' you'll finish the race in when you register and they assign you a corral. I estimated 1:29 flat. Most people are good about it, others are a little overly optimistic or just downright concocting their own reality.

After a fast little descent to 'Lo-Do', you make the gradual climb up to the the top of the '17th street hill' at about mile 4. It's a hill that looks more intimidating than it is. Plus, there is a nice one mile flat to downhill stretch to City Park that really is quite nice to run and let's you recover, so I always kick up that hill.

From there it's just some slight uphills and downhills, with the last mile and change being pretty good downhill to the finish.

I actually felt kind of 'off' today. Unlike Georgetown, my stomach was fine, but my legs just weren't as snappy as the Park to Park 10 miler. At around mile 2 or 3 I was considering that if I really fell off my goal pace that I'd turn it into an easy fun run - but I kind of knew in the back of my head that I wouldn't cash out like that. I've never bailed on a race in my life. I've stopped to hurl, been knocked unconscious (mountain bike racing) - but never DNF'd (Did Not Finish) and never just backed off to easy pace. I don't know if that's noble or stubborn. Probably the latter.

Then at about mile 7 or 8, things came together and I just started running faster. I don't know what it was, I just felt more like myself gradually over about 2-3 miles leading up to that. Go figure. Maybe not enough tapering? Not enough warm-up? Too many turns in the early part of the course? Who knows?

Coming into the last mile I had dropped a few folks on the last hill. Then I joined up with a little group that was hauling down the home stretch. My average pace was around 6:50, but in that last mile we were running 6's to 6:10's the whole way. My limiter was actually how fast I could turn my legs over to keep up with my pace. I was max'd out. I kept trying to surge into the next group just ahead of 2-3 runners, but that wasn't going to happen (plus I'm sure they were surging at the same time). I kept thinking, "Man, if I take one mis-step here, I'm going out the front door and it's not going to be pretty".

Around the last turn I saw the finish line clock and knew I'd break 1:30. That really jazzed me up because early on in the race I'd have bet against me and given 3:1 odds. That's the "1/2" though. A lot can happen in 13.1 miles.
I crossed the finish line strong. No wheezing or bending over. Just waltzed through the finish area nice and tall. I love downhill finishes - no puking.

Then I wandered back to watch Paige come in. This was her first 1/2 and she was trying to come in under 2 hours - which she did. She looked really strong too coming in. I guess her IT band was really bothering her and she felt she could have gone faster, but decided to keep things on plan.

We collected her checked bag and got her warmed up. It was cold out at the finish, but of course you felt great still radiating all that body heat. Then after about 10 mins you got the serious chills. I swear I would have been happiest with my First Ascent EB winter parka on if I had it.

We had an awesome rest of the day. Recovery of a warm lunch (and beer), a big 'family nap' (me, Paige and Luke all cuddled up on the same bed). Then out to dinner at Hacienda for fish tacos, margaritas and a banana empanada with ice cream desert. Yeah, we figured both of us are in calorie surplus today - even with the run. But it was a nice celebration to splurge like that!

So now Paige is happy because her busy season is done and she has 3 weeks of unstructured training. I've got about 7 weeks until the California Marathon. I'm looking forward to it and need to start thinking about 'that' distance again. Like I mentioned - the marathon is unique and requires some different thought process, strategy and approach to race it well. But it's going to be a fun trip, and I've had a great season up until now so it's hard to complain regardless of how that race comes out.

And I'll also revel in being 'done' for the season. Will be nice to just snowboard, cycle, run, swim - with no agenda or schedule. At least for a couple months :-)

--------------------

Oh - so why is there a picture of my favorite bass player (Flea) from the RHCP on this post? Well, Denver is part of the 'Rock and Roll' marathon series, and the RHCP are my favorite R&R band. Plus, Flea was recently featured in Runner's World, "I'm a Runner" series.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garmin 305 - R.I.P.

My Garmin Forerunner 305 died the other day. Basically it says it's charged, but if I turn it on, it only stays on for about 3 minutes, then shuts off. No low battery warning, nothing.

Tried resetting it and searching on the web. Basically, nothing worked.

The last few days have been kind of strange, not knowing exactly my pace, mileage, etc. Not that I need all that for every run - but the Garmin is just so darn convenient and useful. I use it all the time. It helps me manage pacing, keeps track of my splits and has found me back to the hotel when I'm traveling, lost in a neighborhood, and desperately need to get back for a morning meeting!

Last night at the track I was going to do my workout by feel. Then Maureen assigned it and it was 800 (hard) right into 1600 at 1/2 marathon pace and then back into 800 (hard) with 4x200m at the end to work on form when tired.

I groaned because I knew I'd over-run the 1600m coming off a fast 800m - and the whole point was pacing practice. So I went to the car and put on my dress watch. It worked, but I probably looked even funnier with a stainless steel band watch running around the track. And I kept reaching down to my wrist to 'lap' the watch... and it has no such buttons. So I ended up just tapping the glass. There was something comforting and ritualistic about that. Funny.

I pulled some stats on it from Training Center. I don't really look back at past runs that often, but whenever I hook up the Garmin to my computer to charge, it downloads the runs - so I have a catalog of all the runs I've done while wearing it.

It said that I first used the unit in November of 2008 and that I've run about 5600 miles with it strapped to my wrist. That's pretty good mileage I guess for under three years of running. Also considering that I don't always wear it for recovery runs.

Granted it's been through sweat, snow, rain, cold, heat, etc.. but I thought it should have lasted longer.

I've threatened to upgrade to the sleeker latest model when this one bit the dust. The Garmin 610 has all the same features, but looks more like a watch than a Dick Tracy communicator / TV watch

But when push came to shove, I'm frugal about such things. Functionally, the 305 does everything (pretty much) that the 610 does. It only weights marginally more and I never really notice it on my wrist anyway. It probably has some negligible aerodynamic effect on my left arm swing ;-)

But the 610 with the HR monitor costs about $400 bucks. The 305 is $138 on Amazon. At $138, that's like 2 cents a mile if this one lives as long. The 610 is 7 cents a mile. That's an extra $2.50 a week on my schedule.

So, yeahhhhhh... I pulled the trigger on a replacement 305. I'm OK with looking a little dorky to save some dough. New one arrives today. Hope it lasts longer!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yoga



Over the years I've incorporated some Yoga poses into my stretching / relaxation routine and have wanted to sign up for some more formal Yoga classes as part of some cross-training.

I recently bought a Schwaggle deal - $50 bucks for two months of unlimited Yoga at the Yoga on 6th studio. I figured that if I averaged $10 or less a session that was good and I could also try out some different Yoga styles and classes.

Now, my Yoga experience has been minimal, haphazard and beginner level. I tend to use it more for stretching / relaxation. I've attended one Bikram class a long while ago with Paige and I think maybe one other formal class (Ashtanga?). I've done some of the Comcast Yoga ON-DEMAND classes at home and have iPad and Android apps. That's pretty much it.

The class I participated in yesterday was Forrest Yoga. It said it was for 'all levels' - but I maybe should have clarified with the instructor that classification included the 'suck-level', which is what I would classify myself as. For those not familiar with Yoga levels, 'suck-level' is right below 'intoxicated-beginner' level.

Apparently, Forrest Yoga is not 'relaxing / gentle stretching' yoga. I did some reading afterwards. It's more of a 'flow' type Yoga that seeks to expunge both bad physical and emotional stuff from your body by sweating it out (my interpretation of what I read - not necessarily a fair or accurate description). Anywhoo... although I don't think I have anything bad to expunge, the class was a lot of fun, although a bit more intense that I was looking for. It also didn't help that I raced on Monday (two days prior) and did a track workout that morning (which both effectively 'expunged' most of my energy - both good and bad.

Yoga I think is good for me - mostly because it's not a competitive environment. Well, maybe it is for some, but when you really suck at something, it kind of takes the pressure off. I also think that when done properly, it's very beautiful to watch. People that are good at it seem to almost defy gravity with some of the advanced stuff. I'm not one of those people that is beautiful to watch. I'm not a warrior, and when I 'salutate' to the sun it generally ignores me and goes behind a cloud. Although I think I have the corpse pose fairly well mastered. At least how an actual corpse might perform it.

All self-deprecation aside. It was an enriching experience. Coupled with the cold, rainy weather - it put me in a funky, kind of 'lost' mood for the rest of the day. And some days - it's good to feel funky.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Aetna Park to Park 10 Miler

Ran the Park to Park 10 miler today. What a great day for racing! Nice and cool at the start time of 7am and throughout the race. Man - I'm ready for that cooler weather. I think everyone out here is just feeling so beaten down from all the hot weather running this past summer. I know I am, and this morning was a welcome respite.

Ran a 1:08:02 which put me 11th out of 55 in my division. Not great (place-wise), but yikes there are some fast guys out there today! btw - I would have been the same place in the division down and actually 7th two divisions down in age (35-39). Sheesh... maybe I need to start lying about my age :-D

Place aside, that's about the pace I was expecting / hoping for (6:48 overall). I was shooting to run 6:45 - hoping maybe I'd be a little faster because of the extra tapering I did. Literally have been bouncing off the walls in the past couple days (which is a good sign usually). Mile 8 could have been better - I think I just slacked off a bit with a 7:04 split - Would have been nice to see 1:07 and change - just mentally! And 10 seconds on mile 8 would have done it. So close!

The course is really beautiful. It starts in City Park, winds down through Cheesman Park, then passes through Wash (ington) Park to finish in the South High School stadium. I love finishing on the track. When you hit that track surface you just feel like you can fly! Great crowd, great food and a live band at the end. Maureen, the race director (and my coach) did a really great job.

So next up is the Denver 1/2 Marathon. Based on how I was feeling at the finish, I think I can hit that pace for the 1/2. That would give me another sub 90 1/2 and a  nice lead-in to the CA International Marathon in December!

Next couple weeks is some promised recovery running. I think I mentioned a bit back that I was just feeling a little fried and my coach promised me some mileage, but less intensity for the next couple weeks.  Also, the less intensity will be a good opportunity to lose that weight I've been trying to. I've come down a pound or two, but I just keep thinking with some discipline and calorie timing, I can go lower by 5lbs before December. I think that will pay off so long as I take it slow and easy and keep the strength training up.

I'm also going to get in the pool and start working on swimming. I've been toying with the idea of doing one (or a few) triathlons next season. Paige has inspired me :-) But first I need to spend some time remembering how to not sink to the bottom of the pool. I don't think the open water will bother me (I grew up swimming on some gnarly stuff on the lake) - but I need to get a decent stroke under me by next summer.

Also REALLY looking forward to snowboarding season! It's starting to feel like fall here and I spent some time at the Ski Rex (big ski sale) today. I didn't buy anything of course, but it jazzed me up to think about sliding along on the fluffy stuff again!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tour of Colorado (aka Pro Cycling Challenge) 2011 (w/pics)

Today was the final stage of the Pro Cycling Challenge (or as those of us from Colorado call it - the Tour of Colorado - much to the dismay of Phil Ligget ;-)

Paige and I rode from our place to meet my buddy Chris up in Golden. We milled around the start line downtown for a while, had some iced coffee, and then jumped on the bikes to head up Lookout Mt.

Paige and I camped out on the back set of switch backs, 2/3 up Lookout about 2-3km from the KOM finish at the Buffalo Bill Grave sign. There were a TON of people up there, chalk all over the road cheering on the riders, costumes - felt like being part of something really big. So great to see a tour like this in Colorado again. It's been terrific watching all week as they traversed roads most of us have ridden (albeit not at the same velocities :-)

It was really amazing to watch the riders coming up so freakin' fast. There was a breakaway of about 20 riders, a couple chasers and then the peloton. I'm pretty sure they were all in the big rings.

It's a little scary the way the tour cars clear the road. They ride pretty fast, staggered out like a cow catcher to push the crowds back. I'm sure it's from years of experience because it's very effective. It opens the ever narrowing road up again as people jump back out of the way. And I'm sure those drivers have a foot hovering over the brake just in case someone isn't as quick - then again, maybe not.

After the riders passed, we hopped on the bikes and finished the ride up to the backside and down Highway 40 - same as the course. It was a zoo up there - once you got near the top you were just crawling along with enough speed to almost be track standing in some places.

Total ride for us was about 38 miles (with obviously some decent climbing). This on top of a 30 miler on Friday early morning and a 17 mile run yesterday in the heat, during which I seriously overheated and bonked at about 12 miles or so. Actually felt pretty good after about 10 miles today - so I think it was just a heat bonk yesterday.

Here's some pics!















Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pictures from Triathlon Nationals!

Getting the transition area ready the day before.

After an easy bike ride and dropping off in transition.

IMHO - A lot of arrows and things to remember in Triathlon !! :-)


Staging for the swim. Almost race time - and look how relaxed she is!

Out of first transition and out on the bike! Lots of folks coming into this first corner way too fast and almost overshot it!

First hill on the run, right out of transition. It was way steeper than it looks here - especially near the top.
And that's AFTER already swimming and cycling!

Paige's Team

Well deserved dinner with the team before the awards ceremony

Sitting right in the front row of awards.

They all clean up nice - don't they!

And of course a well deserved visit to the Ben & Jerry's factory along with samples of ice cream!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Timeless

These are the winners of the 70-75 men's category.

And they could all kick your ass.

Seriously, absolutely inspiring.

Did I mention Paige's coach Susan won the overall women? She's 42.  That's against women half her age. Nationally. 


Awards ceremony

So what picture is on your head when you hear 61 years old? Yeah, put that on the shelf. The winners in those age groups look like teenagers bounding up on the stage. Whoah.

All done!

Paige has now put Nationals in the bag. She said she felt great in the water but a little our of it on the bike. Great 10K time. Now just wait for results!

A bunch of spectators I was talking to while waiting for her to finish her run asked me her name. She was wondering how she had so many people cheering her name as she passed! What great spectators here in Vermont. Many people didn't even have anyone in the race. Just came our to cheer.

Great collection of athletes here. Really fun to be a spectator today!

9:45 update -on the run!

Paige came through on the bike and thru transition fast! Took that first hill on the run looking strong! Now a flat as a pancake 9 more K and she's through the finish line!

Update 9 am Tri Nationals

Paige was all smiles this morning. No stress, just jazzed to be here. She was wicked day out of the water ans through first transition. Waiting for her to finish the bike. Men's leaders are just now coming through. Pretty exciting and beautiful weather here in. Burlington!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Georgetown 1/2 Marathon - Broke 90 minutes :-)))))

One of my major goals at the start of this year was to break 1:30 for a half marathon.

Well, today I PR'd my previous time by over a minute and a half and ran the Georgetown 1/2 Marathon in 1:29:26 !!

That put me 10th in my division (out of 131 racers) and 114th overall (out of a total field size of about 3,100 runners.

Some quick race notes:

  • It was a beautiful Colorado morning, a little warmer than last year both at the start and finish. 
  • I didn't feel 100% at the start, nor throughout. I felt a little off and my stomach was really bothering me until about mile 8. Still, it felt good to put in a solid performance, even without one of those out-of-body running experiences.
  • I was a little skeptical until about mile 9. Then I looked at my time and knew I just had to keep hanging on. By mile 11 I knew I would probably break 1:30 because I had a solid pace throughout in the bank. I ran pretty much flat splits on every mile - adjusting for hills (both up and down).
  • I've really worked on my downhill running (both on pavement and on dirt). This helped a ton throughout the race.
Next up is the Aetna Park to Park 10 miler on Sept 5th. Then the Denver 1/2 marathon about a month later. Will be interesting to see what time I can pull in on that. Then on to the California International Marathon on 12/4 - my other goal was to break 3 hours for the marathon. Not sure if I'll get there this year, right now I'm feeling like 3:05 - 3:07 is more in the ballpark (which would still be a great time and a PR) - but there's something about those specific barriers (:40 for the 10K, 1:30 for the 1/2 and 3:00 for the marathon).

But right now I'll just hover happy with my PR and sub 90!!

Paige will be at Triathlon Nationals next Saturday and I'm soooo looking forward to be dressed warm and cozy, drinking my Starbucks and cheering her on through all the transitions and to the finish line! It's a nice treat to be a spectator!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shoe Fetish?


Ok, so I didn't intend things to get like this. But they have. I officially now have 6 pair of running shoes. In all fairness, I need to point out three things:

1. I do 90% of my running in just two pair.
2. Each pair actually has a special purpose for it's existence.
3. It's not like I went out and bought this many pair off the rack. Some have been demoted, some I got a smokin' opportunistic deal on.

So - from left to right;

Brooks Defyance - These are my 'go-to' shoes that I run most all my runs in. They are the newest of the lot, and the ones that because they get used the most, rack up the miles the fastest, and get replaced most often (about every 10 weeks). They were what I went to when Pearl Izumi stopped making my previous model (Cruise), and I was forced to spend an hour trying about 10 different models on to find a replacement line. I actually like these better than the previous Pearl Izumi's. They are lighter and just feel 'springier' when I run. Very comfortable on the long runs too!

Brooks ST Racers - My track and racing 'flats'. They actually have a bit of cushioning and are meant for distance racing. I love these too. They are so light and quick. I feel fast in them.

Newton Motus - These are a specialized shoe from a company in Boulder that emphasizes natural running form. They are quite expensive (around $175), which has prohibited me from buying them in the past, but I had been wanting to try them out since I saw them at the Boston Marathon expo a year and a half ago. My massage therapist had bought these and the Saucony minimalist shoes, and they weren't working out for him at all. So he sold both to me for $20 / pair. Smoking deal. I like doing shorter runs in these. They provide an interesting 'feel' and help me really focus on a good neutral stride.

Saucony Kinvara - Saucony has this minimalist line. These are smack in the middle. The 'very' minimalist shoe is the Hattori, which looks like a water shoe you'd wear windsurfing or something.


The model I have (4th from the left the collection above) is still pretty minimal. There is no pronation control (I'm a pretty neutral runner anyway), and very little sole between you and the ground. I really love  going out for short, easy runs in these on dirt trails because you can feel all the little rocks and terrain undulations on the bottom of your feet. It feels like a foot massage and I like it for recovery. If I run longer than 6 miles or so, I get little tweaks in my feet and ankles here and there, so I keep the runs very short. I've always loved the entire 'look' of the Saucony line, but they never really seemed to fit my stride very well, regardless of the model. I play around in these, but they aren't for any serious running. Again - at $20, they were a deal and I get my money's worth.

Pearl Izumi Cruise - These are the <sniff> last model of Pearl Izumi's I had. Probably went through like 10-12 pair of the Pearl Izumi line through the years. I had felt these were really great until I started running in the Brooks. Now I'm a Brooks guy. They just felt that much better. With change, sometimes comes something better. This last pair of Cruise's are pretty worn out at about 400 miles (generally I get shoes to last longer, but these didn't. Maybe too much running in the rain. Now they are retired to being bad weather shoes for maybe another 50 or 60 miles. Short runs only. Of course now my Brooks have gotten some miles on them and aren't 'pristine' enough to keep out of the elements - so these will probably get relegated to my 'gym' shoes.

Pearl Izumi Syncro Pace III - Like the Cruise above, these are long past their lifespan. I used to run in these more supportive shoes prior to re-working my stride (when I over-stride, I pronate a little. When I land my foot underneath me properly, I run pretty much dead neutral). I keep them because they have a special 'custom' modification. If you look at the sole, you'll see a bunch of sheet metal screw heads. This is for traction when running on hard packed snow and icy conditions. I read about it in an article a while back and last winter decided to take an old pair of shoes and drill in a bunch of sheet metal screws. It really works! And the extra support helps on the snow - so I'll keep 'em around for that icy day here or there. I also have a pair of Yak Trax that are the shizzle for running on 'non-icy' snow conditions. They fit right over any pair. Together, they keep me running when the weather gets lousy - which doesn't happen all that often here in Colorado!

Anyway - there you have it. I told you there was a rational explanation for my collection. And at least I'm still about 2700 pair away from this lady!!

It's Imelda Marcos - remember her? I think she's still in exile and now a store clerk at Nordstrom at the Mall of America. Ok, she's actually out of exile and part of the Philippine Legislature as of 2010.

I don't know if she runs. Probably not.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Techno Road Runner

I've always kept a training log. I go back and look at things from time to time, but most of my thoughts actually come out of just sitting down and writing how the day's training went. In the field of engineering, a key practice is the 'retrospective'. It's a time when you reflect on the past and try to learn something from it. It's not really specific to engineering. I think it's a good thing to do with any endeavor that you might take on in life. Specifically for running - it creates some 'quiet time' to collect my thoughts and benefit from the following:

  1. The experience of writing it down takes me out of the discomfort and emotional aspects of the workout itself, and puts you into more of an analytically detached mode where I can critically look at what went right or wrong and what is working vs what isn't. 
  2. I can keep track of splits, PR's etc - and see either improvement or degradation based on training.
  3. I can write race notes to reflect on later, and this helps in future race planning (for example - I learned a lot from Bolder Boulder 10K that I then applied to the Loveland Classic 10K. I can also go back and read a race that I'm going to repeat - like Georgetown 1/2 - and that will help me better recall the course and prepare.
  4. Writing it down leverages the 'guilt' factor, especially with a coach. I know someone else is going to see whether I completed the workout and hit my splits - and I better have good reasons for not doing it. Sometimes in the middle of a tough workout - I push harder because I don't want to have to report weakness :-)

When I was bike racing, I kept a written log. I went through a spectrum of very structured to just writing whatever.

For the past few years running, I've printed off a table of workouts and kept it on the inside cabinet door. I also use that to track the mileage on all of the shoes I have (more on that later).

I've tried using some of the advance programs out there like those available from Training Peaks, Runners World, Active.com, etc.. but for me they just require a bit too much work and are far too detailed and structured. The graphs and tools are great - I'm just not *that* analytic!

Since enlisting a coach in January, I decided to come up with an easy way to share my training log. I've been using Google Docs - which worked pretty well, but now recently I converted over to using a Blog.

I started playing around with the idea a while back in my head and it actually came out better than I had thought. I think the Blog format works really well because it's simple, can be read from computers and mobile devices easily, and can even RSS feed to my coach's eMail if she wanted. Because you can customize the page, it also allows me to add some structure to it - more than just a collection of documents. The navigation to any month or week is much easier, and I can include static pages on my racing calendar and PRs - as well as other things that I haven't quite thought of yet.

It's not incredibly interesting to read - it's meant more as just a communication mechanism between me and my coach. My intent for talking about it here was just to share one approach that seemed to work out pretty well for logging workouts. If you start reading it on a regular basis, I'm flattered and have at it - but I'm warning you; it's boring, dry stuff..... Ok, now I'm nervous!!

Anyway, here it is:

http://kevintraininglog.blogspot.com/

Related topic - Managing the Training Calendar
For upcoming training, my coach sends me a schedule over eMail. I then just break it out into 'All Day Events' on Google Calendar by day - one for each workout. That allows me to push them automatically to my iPad, work computer (Thunderbird and Outlook both support Internet Calendars) and sync them to my Android phone natively. It's pretty nice to have my workout schedule always handy like that, but maintained in just one location. If my coach (or others) wanted to see my upcoming workouts, I could always just share the calendar with them and they could easily incorporate. In fact, if I was a coach, I'd really look at standardizing a Blog template and using Google Calendar to centralize all training info for my runners. But I'm kind of a geek.

Let me know if you want any more information on the technical details and I'm happy to help with any of these!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Loveland Classic 10K Race Report

I raced the Loveland Classic 10K this past Saturday. I found out about this race from someone in my track group when I mentioned that I was looking for a 10K distance to do in the late July time-frame. This one was perfect timing, and I'm really glad I signed up and participated in it!

It was the first time I ever won my division. I've usually done pretty well in races, but it was really cool to hear my name announced as first place in my age group (40-49). I was smiling all the way home. btw - I also had the fastest time in the younger pups (30-39) :-)

My overall place was 11th out of 115 total racers with a time of 41:49 - a minute faster than Boulder. The course was flatter than Boulder, but there was less opportunity to draft and it was much warmer.

The race started at 7am, I decided to suck it up and drive up that morning, even though it meant getting up at around 4am. I had looked into finding a primitive camp-site, but couldn't find anything other than developed (RV) camp-sites which, when you price out the site and the park pass - ended up being like $40 bucks - cheaper than a hotel, but sorry guys, that's just silly for a place to drop your tent.

As it turns out, driving up worked out perfectly. The race is small (less than 300 racers split between the 10K and 5K options). When I got there at 6am, I got to park right across the street, picked up my packet and was able to just hang out for 15 minutes before having to start warming up.

It was toasty - probably in the mid-60s at the race start. I knew the limiting factor in pace wouldn't be tired legs or VO2 - it was purely going to be a race against overheating.

The race start was so cool and casual. People just sauntered to the starting line. Then there was a 'racers on your mark' and then a siren sent everyone off at the same time. No tags needed, just one race clock. I liked the simple, casual feel of it all.

The race started out briskly, as they always do. Especially funny was the 4-5 kids that went screaming out in front of me with their mom shouting, "Don't sprint!" But kids are kids. They were easy to dodge as they burned out to a crawl in 100m.

The course is a big loop, slightly downhill on the way out (south) and then you reclaim that elevation on the way back.

I had a far better pacing strategy pulled together this time than for Boulder. In Boulder I had thought about the first couple miles, but hadn't really spent enough time on an 'agenda' for each mile to keep my mind sharp throughout the race. For Loveland I had a plan for each set of 2 miles and was able to stick to that plan.

Probably the best measure of that strategy was how strong and measured I felt with my energy level throughout the race. I felt like I doled it out pretty well and felt like I thought I would at pretty much every mile marker. The last 400m is a slight uphill on a straight road. You see the chute up there, you know you'll get there and just need to grind through it. I pushed it until I was on that edge that, if there was money on it - I could probably eek out another 20 seconds, but at the cost of dry heaving or falling down from over-heating in the chute. I'm trying to put that effort in the middle of the race more than just kicking so hard at the end that I risk hurting something.

The finishing area was so supportive and had a great family feel to it. There was a kids race too which was fun to watch and free Dole frozen fruit yogurt cones!

I think it's a great race and I highly recommend it!!

Next up is the Georgetown 1/2 Marathon on August 13th - going for sub-1:30 !

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Running in Circles - Random Thoughts on the Track

I like running on the track. That encapsulated, consistent little world. You can always see your destination - and generally in speed work it's not far away.

I like the springiness of the track surface and wearing racing shoes. I like being able to run fast, then recover. The feeling of running fast on recovered legs.

I like that all the other distractions are out of the equation, and you can really 'feel' your form and instantly tell if you are running tension free in all your bits and pieces.

And I like running with a group on the track because regardless of abilities - you're always essentially running 'together'. Regardless of speed, you're all suffering the same amount.

And although just about any track will do, even blacktop ones with weeds growing out of them; there are some tracks that are better than others. There's something about a new brown running track in a stadium that draws me more than the blacktop middle school track. Sometimes I make the trek over to Heritage - it's a very professional track and accessible to the public.

Then there are some tracks that I covet running on. Yes, I meant to use that strong of a word - especially the ones that I'm not allowed on. I literally crane my neck to view longingly at the Jeffco track on Kipling and 6th every time I drive past it. Same with The Bird's Nest when I was in Beijing a few weeks back. I would love to spend my whole day just running circles in that stadium. I'm sure I could figure out ways to get into these nirvana venues - but I kind of like that they are not easily in my reach. It's always good to have places that carry a certain amount of mystique to them.

I run with a track group on Tuesday evenings (or sometimes Wednesday mornings). Last night I showed up for the evening session. Got all warmed up only to have the rain and lightening start moving in. I have no issues with rain, but I have a healthy fear of large amounts of electricity. I've read enough stories about lightening strike victims. You're never the same, and that's if you survive. So I pushed to this morning at 6am.

I actually prefer running early. It's cooler out, you get it out of the way and are into the office by 7:30am. Downside is that I have to wake up about 4:45am - yuck.

This morning's workout was 2x800m / 2x600m / 2x400m / 2x200m with 400m recoveries - for the non-track knowledgeable, once around a track (measured on the inside lane) is 400m. So a 2x800 with a 400m recovery means you run twice around the track at a fast pace and then jog, walk, stop to dry heave (off to the side please) - for a lap. Then repeat. 'Fast Pace' varies, and there wasn't a specific one given - so I just as fast as I knew I could complete the prescribed distance for each without compromising the later repeats.

When you've been doing track for a while, you recognize that every distance has a 'feel' to it.

1600m (4x around - about a mile) - Can't go out too fast - you want each lap the same or faster. A mental challenge to not lose focus on the middle laps and slow down accidentally. Usually sounds more daunting than it turns out to be, especially when someone says 6x1600m repeats.... <groan>... but pretty soon you are on the fourth one.

1200m - This is a weird distance for me. I haven't done it enough to have a feel for it. I probably tend to run these the same pace as a 1600m - and I shouldn't.

800m - My absolute favorite repeat. It's just long enough to test you and to get into a groove. But you can still go pretty fast, and there is little chance of losing focus. And generally you don't even start to hurt until you're near the first lap, and by then it's 1/2 over.

600m - I have grown to love this distance and there is a distinctly different way I approach and run these vs the 400 or 800. You can really push it a bit and I especially like to kick on the last 200m (it then ends up being more like a 400/200 progression).

400m (one lap) - I like being able to go out fast on these, but I almost always either run them too slow, or I go out like a shot feeling like I can do it forever and then fade somewhere with about 150m to go). Still, they are over fast - so big fun points scored there.

200m - Great pick-up type exercise, usually done with short recoveries (like 100m - 200m). Generally this is really my top speed.

100m - Good for strides, but I'm just too old and worried about blowing a 'hammy' to kick these out, imagining Usain Bolt next to me. I'm not a sprinter (either on the bike or track) - so I don't think I'm capable of  running these any faster than 200m.

If you're a runner and have never tried track, you absolutely should. Especially if you can find a group to do it with and someone to guide you. Since everyone can see everyone, all the time, you can ask for friends or your coach to watch you for tension sneaking into your stride. You'll get faster over time, and it's fun to run fast but get some rest time in between the repeats. I highly recommend it.

I'm also curious if my 'secretly coveting' certain tracks is a common thing, or just yet another weirdness with me.