Saturday, January 31, 2009

20+ Mile Trail Run

I met Glen this morning and rode over to Monte Sano. Joey joined us for the first 6 or 7 miles. We took the South Plateau loop over to Warpath Ridge, to Power Line, up K2 to Goat Trail. At 3 benches, Joey peeled off and we kept going and somehow ended up heading south on Flat Rock trail. I was pretty disoriented and lost, so I'm glad Glen was leading the way! We came back up Warpath Ridge to South Plateau.

I was able to drop the pace on the last 3 to 8:30. I'm pretty happy with that for the last 3 of a 20 miler. It was a nice run today. I like the Flat Rock trail and Goat Trail.

This put me at 58 miles for the week. That's my highest mileage week ever! I may hit 60 sometime during my Mount Cheaha training!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

8 mile

I planned to do 8 easy aerobic miles today. After about 3, I ran into Matt at the track, and joined him. He was trying to keep all his miles under 8:00. I was enjoying the company, so I stayed with him. He pulled me along today. I would have been content to run slower, but it was probably good for me to go a little faster. I kinda look forward to tomorrow's day off.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tempo Run

The 50k schedule called for 8 miles today. I wanted to do 10, until the alarm went off. Then, I just wanted to sleep. I spent 10 minutes convincing myself to get up. Then I spent another 10 deciding whether to go to the gym and get on the treadmill or to run on the road because the weather was less than ideal (wet and windy). Then, I spent another 10 talking myself into going at all. By that time, I didn't have time to do 10 miles. But I went anyway.

I didn't really have a plan for the miles, which contributed to the debate I was having with myself. I've got to do better about this. Should I do all aerobic miles? Should I do speed work? Should I do tempo? I decided that tempo would be the best use of my limited time because I could get close to my goal mileage if I ran at a tempo pace. So I did 2 warm up miles, 5 tempo miles, and 2 cool down miles for 9 total. 6:59, 6:54, 6:59, 6:53, 6:39. I probably had another 7 minute mile in me, but I wanted to stop with the feeling that I could do more. The warm up and cool down were near an 8:10 pace.

All in all a decent workout for the day. I'm WAY glad that I talked myself into it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Race Calendar for 2009

Here are the races I plan to run in the first half of 2009. I'll try to keep this updated.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mount Cheaha

I got my confirmation email for Mount Cheaha yesterday. I checked the Mount Cheaha website today and both Matt and I are on the entrant list. There's no turning back now! Reading and hearing the reviews from Mountain Mist have me pretty excited! I have to get on the trails and train like a madman!

The weekly Athens run yesterday was a blast. I was in a bit of a rush posting yesterday and didn't say quite enough about that. There were 13 folks who showed up! Group runs are much more fun! I'm wondering at what point we have to get a parade permit! :) I tried to make up for slacking on Saturday by running a few extra (14 instead of 10) yesterday. I hope it worked out! I also did a couple of fartleks during the run. One was when my shoe came untied and I caught the group at about the 3 mile mark. The other was when I went from the back-middle of the pack to the front at about the 9 mile mark. It is really nice to be able to drop to a sub-7 pace 9 miles into a run! It's even nicer to finish 14 miles feeling like I could easily do a few more.

Today, I swam (for maybe the third time in 18 years). I did 10 laps in a 25 yard pool, and it absolutely exhausted me. I haven't completely forgotten how to swim, but almost! I have an ugly stroke and I let my right leg do too much work. I'll continue to work on that to see if a triathlon is something I can pull off anytime soon. Then, I did a regular "push" (bench press, military press, unassisted dips) and abs workout.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mountain Mist

I have to start today by giving a BIG shout out to my buddy Mark Freeman. He had a fantastic run yesterday at Mountain Mist. He absolutely dropped the hammer down and blew away his goal and my expectation for his finishing time. He ran the toughest trail run in Alabama, the Mountain Mist 50k, in 5:20:17. That is insane good. Way to go Mark!!!! I'm way proud of my friend!! Congrats! Nice job! Amazing!

Results are at the HTC Website.

Mark made up for my slacking yesterday. I totally slacked. I ran maybe 2 or 3 miles tops. I just didn't want to, so I quit. Then, I played some racquetball, which was fun. I dove a couple of times and I'm a little sore. I have to learn not to go all out all the time.

Today, I met with the Athens group and ran 10 with them. I ran to the meeting place and ran home for a total of 14 miles. Today was the largest group yet! 13 folks! Great run guys and gals!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Altitude Training

I had to catch an 8:00 AM flight out of Nashville Wednesday morning, which meant that I had to leave my house at 5:00 AM. It crossed my mind to get up before 4:00 AM to run 8 miles and shower before leaving. Luckily, the thought crossed and kept going. :) I did NOT run Wednesday.

I was staying in an unfamiliar part of town in Denver. It didn't feel like an unsafe part of town, but I just didn't know the area. So, I was reduced to choosing between slacking or 8 miles on a treadmill. Ugh. I decided that since I'm pain free and haven't slacked even ONCE in my Mount Cheaha training, I'd go ahead and hit the treadmill. There's no reason to start slacking now. I only did 7.5 miles, though. I quit because I ran out of time.

I was a little pleased with myself for going through with that. Really, after the first two miles, it wasn't that bad. I mean, I'd rather have been on the road or the trail, but it wasn't miserable. I did have to spend 20 minutes talking myself into doing it. Then I spent the first two miles convincing myself to stay on.

The altitude really matters. I ran the first two at a 9:00 pace and it felt like a 7:30 pace. The human body is pretty amazing, though. I adjusted. After the first two, I was able to speed it up and finished the 7.5 miles in an hour which averages an 8:00 pace. I was running the 7th mile at a 6:40 pace and it felt hard, but sustainable. One reason I sped up is that I knew I was running out of time and wanted to get in 8. I just didn't quite get it done.

Wow, that was TMI about a treadmill run. Today, I did a "pull" workout (pull-ups, rows, etc.) and a leisurely 6 miles at 8:20 average pace.

I also got my body fat measured today and learned that I'm only 7.8% body fat. Man, I sure do feel and look fatter than that. I also got my VO2 Max estimated at 42 ml-kg-min, whatever that means.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cycle Down

This week is a cycle down week in the training for Mount Cheaha.

I really can't believe that I'm going to do Mount Cheaha. It's official; I've lost my mind. The application for insanity goes in the mail today. The hotel is reserved. I'm in. Matt, you better mail yours today, too. We have a deal!

I did 10 miles Sunday with a group in Athens. Read about it on Tanjie's blog. It looks like that's going to be a regular thing going forward. GREAT! Yesterday was an off day.

Today, Matt and I did 5.44 miles though the schedule calls for 4. Man, he was pushing me this morning. 8:54, 8:15, 7:38, 7:20, 8:03. I was content to run at 8:30-9:00, but I was glad he was pushing. A cool thing is that even on the fastest mile, we were still able to converse, but with some difficulty. That was a comfortably hard pace.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On the trail again

That's why I run trails. Today was an absolutely beautiful, if cold, run! Those two above are shots looking up the steep part of Waterline on the Mountain Mist course.

It really looks like the Mt. Cheaha 50k is a go. So, I'm continuing to train and log the miles to be ready for it. I'm excited, but I'm also a little intimidated by the climb and distance of that race.

My schedule called for 20 miles today. I didn't quite make it. I logged about 18.5. I'm a little ahead on mileage this week, and I may log a couple of extra tomorrow to make up for it. I know it's not the same, but it's better than nothing.

I worked late last night and just couldn't get out of bed in time to meet the Mountain Mist training group. I was just about 10 minutes late, and they left without me, as they should have. :(

They were marking the course today, so I thought I had a chance to catch them. I ran the second half. I'm guessing that the markers were on the first half today because I never caught them, and I ran out of course markings at the end of Waterline. If any of the markers are reading this, nice job guys. It was pretty obvious where to go even to a trail newbie like me.

Oh yeah, today's run was AWESOME. It was still very cold when I started. It didn't really warm up that much while I was out there. Notice in the pictures how the Mountain Mist course can look! According to, there will be just about perfect weather for the Mountain Mist 50k next week.

This last picture is a stream that crosses Natural Well Trail along the descent to McKay Hollow.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Yesterday was cold, 22 degrees with a wind chill of 5, Fahrenheit. BRRRRR!. But yesterday can't be compared to today's 8 degrees with a wind chill of -4. The sane side of me is glad that today is a scheduled day off from running, but there's this demented side that almost wants to go out there and see how bad it hurts to run in weather that cold!

Yesterday, I met up with Matt and we did an 8+ miler at about an 8:30 pace. The cold wasn't that bad except when we turned to go north, into the wind. Then, it hurt! What if the weather is like that on race day? I guess we just tough it out! My water bottle slushed up again and his beard froze together. Yeah, it was cold.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Tempo Work

BRRRRRR!!! It was COLD this morning!!

The 50k training schedule called for 8 miles. I felt pretty good, so I did 10 and mixed in some tempo miles. I started with a 2 mile warmup at about 8:30 - 9:00. Then, I did 4 miles at what I thought would be tempo pace. I managed to stay at tempo for the first mile, then I inexplicably sped up. I was going to do 5 tempo if I felt like it at the end, but 4 burned me out pretty good.
  1. 7:10
  2. 6:53
  3. 6:46
  4. 6:49
If I had done them all at 7:10, I probably could have done 5. I finished up with 4 8:30-ish miles. While I was running the tempo, I was breathing too hard to drink. During that less than 28 minutes, my water turned to slush. I did not know it was that cold!!!

It was a great, if cold, start to the day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thoughts on Weight Loss

I'm editing this post to insert this preface just to be sure that I don't sound too harsh. I'm not fussing at anyone. I'm only trying to clarify. I don't want someone to quit running because they don't see quick weight loss after they start running. There are better weight loss tools for me than running. I run because it's fun (weird, I know), not to lose weight. Your mileage may vary. That's all I'm trying to say in this post. Now, back to the original post.

Is running good for a weight loss plan?

I may have left a wrong impression with this blog. I was fat three years ago. Then, I lost weight and ran a marathon. I stated in the first posts that I didn't lose my weight by running, but I think I may be leaving the impression that running was a primary weight loss tool for me. I lost almost all of my weight before I started running. I'm no expert on this; I can only speak from my experience. However, I have lost very little, if any, weight by running.

Here's the problem I have with weight loss while running. I eat a little before my run to fuel up. If it's a long run, say longer than 12 miles or so, I'll fuel on the run with gels or sports drink. Then, when I finish, I'll have some chocolate milk or nuts or a granola bar immediately after. On long run days, when I get home, I absolutely destroy all the food in my pantry! It's not that I'm justifying overeating by saying, "I ran so I can eat what I want." No, my body simply demands that I eat! I'm starving all day on long run days!

So, long story short, if weight loss is your goal, you should choose some exercise instead of, or in addition to, running. Running can help, but it takes a while to build up to a distance (without injury) that can yield any weight loss benefits. My experience has been that resistance training (free weights and dumbbells for me) is much more effective for dropping the lbs. It's even more effective when complemented with running or other aerobic exercise.

Oh yeah, here's the hard part. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat right. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein are good. Processed foods, white pastas, white breads, processed sugars, and saturated fats are bad. Eat your 5-9 servings of veggies per day, and you'll probably lose weight without much other effort because the veggies will displace other less healthy foods.

Just a review....

Here's me when 3 miles was a long (and miserable and hated and very infrequent) run for me. This is me before running.
And here's me 14 months later, after running a marathon. There may be 5lbs difference.

So, in summary, if you want to lose weight, eat right and go to the gym (duh). If you want to run, well run! But don't expect to lose lots of weight if you don't eat right and mix in some other form of exercise.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday 10 miler

Sunday is the day for the 10 miler to follow the Saturday long run according to the 50k schedule I'm following. Today's was particularly fun because of the company! Tanjie, Madelyn, Kristi, Glen, Barry, Mark S., and I all met at the rec center in Athens at 5:45 AM and ran through the streets of Athens. What a great start to the week! There was Lots of good company and a good run. I ran a couple of miles from my house to meet them and then peeled off at the end to go straight home instead of all the way back to the rec center. It was about 11 miles total for me.

Nice run guys!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Trails again

Today I met Mark over at Monte Sano to do run part of the Mt. Mist course. I love running trails! We ran the first half of the course and then took a steep climb up Sinks Trail (I think) up to our cars to refill water and hit the South Plateau loop for another 3+ miles. It was around 19 miles total.

We were planning to start at about 6:15 or 6:30, but I got just out of Athens and realized that I forgot my shoes. Yep, I was driving to run and forgot my shoes. Boneheaded, I know. We were so late and behind that we decided to just meet with the Mt. Mist training group. They were doing the second half today. We did that last week so we decided to stick with our original plan and do to the first half.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What a week!

This was a very busy week! I didn't get in bed before 11:45 any night this week, and I was up at 5:15 Tuesday through Thursday so that I could run.That's just not enough sleep for me. My runs were generally lazy as a result, too. But I did get in the miles. 5.5 on Tuesday, 6.5 on Wednesday, and 6.2 on Thursday.

But even on a week like this, I was able to get in all my scheduled runs and two resistance workouts. If I can do it this week, I can do it any week!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I had scheduled a 6 miler today. The weather was supposed to be cool but dry. It was cool, but it was NOT dry! And it was windy. Yuck.

I left my house and headed for the Athens High track. Then, I did a couple of laps around the track and headed back to my house via the greenway. The portion of the greenway that passes under Forrest St. / Nick Davis Road was completely flooded! We had lots of rain yesterday. Then, it started sprinkling, and I was running into the wind getting soaked. Yuck. Today was just a gross run. I wanted to quit, but I had to get back home!

This is one of those days that has to make me a better runner or something. Something good has to come from today's misery!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hill time

The 50k training schedule called for 4 miles today. I decided to mix in some hill work with it. Matt and I drove over to Hughes Road on our way to work. We ran about a mile to Thomas Drive and ran up Thomas drive and Stoneway to the top of Rainbow Mountain, then ran back down. The downhill run has its own set of challenges! Call me weird, but running hills is fun.

Stoneway has a seriously steep 0.3 mile section.

Oh yeah, I left there and went to the gym and did a "pull" workout, chin-ups and rows along with some oblique twists, back extensions, and side bends.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

10 miler

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to run Mt. Cheaha. I'm training as if I'm going to run it. I'll know soon if it's really a go or not. I'm following the training schedule at This schedule has you do a long run followed by a 10 miler on the following day. Supposedly the time on your feet gets you ready for the 50k.

So I did an easy 10 miler today to follow yesterday's 15+miler. The cool thing is that a 10 miler can be easy, thanks to marathon training. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009


A while back I toyed with the idea of ending this blog because the training, marathon, and recovery were complete. Well, several have said they still want to read the blog, so the blog stays. I'll keep the name the same so that folks won't have to update links, etc. Also, the Rocket City Marathon is what started the blog and will hopefully be a key part of my training each year.

This weeks training

Remember that Tuesday I did speed work.

I followed that up with a long run. Not wise! Wednesday, New Year's Eve, Mark and I ran about 17 on Monte Sano. We ran the second half of Mt. Mist, with a wrong turn thrown in to add 1.5 miles. That's a tough finish! I totally bonked at about 14.5 miles. I just had no more gas. I kept stopping to walk. Thanks for your patience, Mark! I'll never do speed work and a long run on back to back days again.

Check out pictures from Wednesday's run in my Facebook photos.

Friday, I played 6 games of racquetball and then took Leigh and the kids for a hike on the trails at Monte Sano. We went about 3 miles total, which was just a little too far (my mistake), but the complaining was minimal. They loved it!

And today I did a 15 miler around Athens, 13+ of them with Matt. We ran mostly at an 8:30 pace and finished the run with the last 3 under 8:00, and miles 14 and 15 were around 7:40. Road miles sure do get easier after running on the trails! I don't have to think about every step!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Others have done a 2008 year in review, so why not?
  • Hated running in January, but needed cardio in addition to resistance training.
  • Barely able to run 3 miles in February, but decided I'd try to like running. I didn't hate running by the time March rolled around.
  • Mark Freeman, Tim Richter, and Angie Reed talked me into running the Cotton Row 10k. I trained for it and got hooked!
  • Ran my first race at the Law Day 5k in Hampton Cove. 22:30 and 3rd place award.
  • Ran Cotton Row in 45:53, slower than I wanted.
  • Waddled through June and July and lost too much conditioning.
  • Mark and I talked each other into running the Rocket City Marathon.
  • Trained lots with Mark and Matt Davis for the marathon.
  • Ran the Monte Sano 5k and 10k road races and the Huntsville Half Marathon as part of my marathon training.
  • Took first in my age group with a 20:39 at the Duck and Run 5k in my hometown of Athens. (Thanks Tanjie!!)
  • Took second in my age group at the Elkmont Rails to Trails 10k with a 44:23. (Thanks Whitney!!)
  • Ran Rocket City in 3:33:25.
  • Started trail running.
Overall, a great year in running. I can definitely do better in 2009. I can eliminate the summer laziness and do more tempo runs. Here are my goals for 2009.
  • Break 19:30 in a 5k.
  • Break 41:00 in a 10k.
  • Finish a 50k trail race.
  • Run Rocket City in 3:25. Maybe in 2010 I'll aim to BQ.