Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Run

There were a few groups running this morning. Some were meeting in Elkmont to run the Rails to Trails 10k course. Others were meeting at Piney Chapel to go long on rails to trails. Carl, Matt, and I met in Athens to do to the usual 10 mile route.

I was planning to run from my house to the start, run the route, and then run home to get about 14 miles in. The travel at the end of the work week and yesterday's hot, miserable 16 miler had completely drained me. I slept through the alarm. I don't know what woke me up at 5:35, but I'm glad it did. I knew that I didn't have time to run to the Rec Center, so I got ready as quickly as possible and drove over. In the process, I missed Carl who was going to run toward my house to meet me. Sorry!

Today's run felt much better than yesterday's. I was running a quicker pace at about 10 beats per minute lower heart rate. It could be the temperature. It could be that I'm recovered from travel. It could be that I had a partner. It could just be a better day.

After the 10 mile route, I ran 4 more at the track and greenway. I got 3 of those miles in at marathon pace. I need marathon pace practice. I still struggle to find that rhythm. Anyway, today was a very good run and restored a bit of confidence!
  1. 8:30
  2. 8:00
  3. 8:17
  4. 8:20
  5. 8:12
  6. 8:11
  7. 8:00
  8. 7:57
  9. 7:59
  10. 7:57
  11. 8:11 (I know, not close to MP, but I was standing still talking at the beginning. The part I was running was at MP. I talked for about a minute before taking off.)
  12. 7:19
  13. 7:09
  14. 8:30 (out of gas!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I had to miss Thursday's workout which was very disappointing. I knew Thursday would be a challenge. The schedule called for a 14 miler on Thursday to follow Wednesday's tough tempo run. I was really looking forward to see how I would respond. But... I was behind at work and was up past midnight working. There was no way I was going to be able to start a 14 miler at 5:00 AM. I kept running gear with me all day just in case I found a spare 2 hours (ha!).

It turned out that I had to rush to a customer site which totally consumed Thursday night, Friday, and Friday night. I didn't get home until 1:00 AM Saturday morning. Yuck. That meant no early morning Saturday long run. I simply couldn't skip two key workouts in a row, though!

So, tired and unmotivated as I was, I drug myself out the door and gutted out a 16 miler. I'm a morning runner for a reason. After the kids get up, I don't want to leave them. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave the kids for 2+ hours. On weekdays, stuff comes up to interfere if I don't get it done early in the morning. The weather is much better in the morning. Not to mention most races are in the morning. Anyway...

Today was an exercise in mental toughness. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to continue after the first mile. I started struggling to breathe after 2 miles. My side hurt after 3 miles. My abs were hurting. More than anything, I wanted to quit. Really I wanted to quit the whole time. I somehow kept talking myself out of quitting. It was a huge struggle just to hold an 8:30 pace. Sometimes, that's what running is about: keeping on when all you want to do is stop running.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Difficult Tempo

The schedule today called for 10 miles with 5 miles at tempo pace. This is nowhere near as fun without a partner!

Whew! My longest tempo run thus far has been 4 miles. The funny thing is that I really started to struggle just before 2 miles. I mean I was struggling! I did not want to continue. I seriously thought about breaking the 5 miles up into 2 + 2 +1. But I kept going through the 2 mile split. Then I was thinking that 3 + 2 would be a good idea. I was just struggling to hold on. And I made the mistake of cranking out a 1:30 first quarter on the 3rd mile. I'm not sure what happened there. That made the rest of the mile difficult!

Then, when I began the 4th mile, I was cruising! It was like a switch flipped! The miles and the pace felt EASY!! I have no idea what happened on those last two miles. It felt great!!

Beginning at about mile 2.5, I just started saying to myself over and over... "Do what they won't so that when it counts you can do what they can't." (Thanks, EC) And... "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." Over and over I repeated those two sentences in my head. And it started to feel easier. Honest.
Really, though, I should say, "Do what you don't want so that when it counts you can do what you once couldn't", and "The will to qualify means nothing without the will to prepare." Winning races and outrunning other runners is another level that I'm not sure I'm talented enough to reach. Maybe I'll get an AG win occasionally if I'm lucky. But the idea was to repeat motivational quotes and it worked today.

The workout was 10 miles total with 3 miles warm up, 5 miles tempo, and 2 miles cool down. Tempo splits below. The miles on that track are a little long, like 1.01 and 1.02, 5.08 total, so the average pace was 6:48 according to my Garmin.
  1. 7:00
  2. 6:55
  3. 6:46
  4. 6:54
  5. 6:52

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recovery 6 miler

We had another morning with beautiful weather for running. Most of the folks at the track were wearing jackets and/or long sleeves. I wished for long sleeves! It was perfect running weather.

In a way, I wish that today called for a hard workout. Pete and Scott caution against running hard when you should be recovering. They say that it takes almost as much discipline to go easy on recovery days as it does to get out the door on other days. I stayed disciplined and went 6 miles at a very easy pace. Most of the miles were above 9:00. I was just enjoying the weather.

These next two weeks will test my mettle because I won't have a partner for most of my runs and I will be traveling some. I may be forced to treadmill a tempo and/or a medium-long run. Right now, though, I'm pretty determined and focused on giving a BQ effort. So, I think I'll pass the test.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Early Sunday Run

All I can say about the weather today is WOW! Today was a glimpse of fall that we usually do not get in August! The conditions were amazing! 58F when we started and about 62F when we finished! It was a little humid, but with temps like that, humidity doesn't matter! I can't wait for fall running weather!

There were 6 of us who met at the trail head this morning. Some went 10, some went 12 and some went 13 miles. Carl and I went 12. After yesterday's 17 with 8 at MP, I had no idea how I would respond today. With the temps like they were, I was able to get after it pretty good on this run! The start was a little slow, but after that, we settled into the run.
  1. 9:17
  2. 8:41
  3. 8:20
  4. 8:05
  5. 8:00
  6. 8:04
  7. 7:55
  8. 7:47
  9. 7:45
  10. 7:34
  11. 7:30
  12. 7:20
I know I'm only two weeks in, but I seem to be settling in to a groove for marathon training this year.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Marathon Pace Run

The schedule for today was for 17 miles with 8 miles at marathon pace. Those 8 miles at marathon pace would be the last miles of the run. I was really apprehensive about this run. I honestly did not know if I would be able to hold on for those last 8 miles at a 7:17 pace.

I'm glad I was wrong.

The First 9 Miles
I made Matt wait a little bit before the start this morning. I had some problems getting everything together this morning. But we hit the road at about 6:15 or so. We started slowly because I was saving up for the end. When I looked at the splits after the run, though, it wasn't as slow as I thought!

We did 9 miles around the streets of Athens at about an 8:30 or so pace. For some reason, I was thinking those miles were closer to 8:40. The last two were 8:08 and 8:01. That had us at the Rec Center at 9 miles. We refilled our water bottles and then hit the tough part of the workout. Two laps around the track, out and back on the spurs, and back home would give us just about the right mileage.

The Last 8 at Marathon Pace
The first mile was a little slow at 7:28. We were still trying to find marathon pace, 7:17. The second mile was disappointingly slower at 7:30. The good news is that those miles weren't very tiring. The third mile was a little fast on the trail where the footing isn't quite as good at 7:12. During this mile I got some practice fueling at marathon pace. The fourth mile was also quick at 7:09 on the trail. It was starting to get difficult! That 4th mile was a mental struggle. We had made it halfway through the hard part!

The next two miles were on the track and both were 7:10. Believe it or not, it was starting to get easier! How can miles 14 and 15 be easier than miles 12 and 13? I don't know. At this point, I knew I was going to make it. I knew I had plenty of energy to hang on to the end. Mile 16 was tougher and we had to stop for traffic which was frustrating. But we still ran it in 7:24. Mile 17 was mostly in the sun, and it was starting to get hot. I felt really strong on this mile! I finished with the fastest mile of the day in 7:08. I honestly felt like I could have run another mile at that pace.

Today was a huge confidence boost! AWESOME!! I probably need to pick up the pace in the early parts of future marathon pace runs. Also, I need to run a more consistent pace during the marathon pace miles. I have to find that pace and make it automatic.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ragnar Relay

Today will either be a day off or a recovery run day. Either way, it would be ho-hum to write about. So, I'm going to mention something pretty exciting coming up.

Eleven of my friends (Well, 3 of them I've never met and another 3 I only just met at the first team meeting. We'll be friends after this, I'm sure.) and I will be embarking on a big adventure on September 25-26. We're running in the Washingdon, DC race in the Ragnar Relay series. This is going to be off the charts fun!

So, what is it you ask? It's about a 195 mile relay race from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. Each of the 12 runners has 3 legs of the race of varying lengths. So, 6 of the team members will be in one van and will run their legs in order. Then, the other 6 will be in another van and run their legs in order. We continue to run our legs in order, swapping vans at every 6th exchange station until we get to Washington, DC.

I've never done anything remotely like this, but it will be a BLAST! I have (estimating) a 9 mile leg, a 4 mile leg, and a 7 mile leg for just under 20 miles total. We expect to complete the race in just over 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midweek Half

Thirteen miles in the middle of the week? That wasn't such a good idea, but it's what the schedule called for. I didn't sleep as much as I should have the night before and struggled as a result. I was able to hang on and have a few good miles at the end, but it wasn't my best effort. I should have been more focused on pace and accomplishing the goal of the run.

The first mile was over 9:00 and the average pace was 8:30. I'm hoping these mid-week medium long runs make the difference in December. The company was great. The weather was humid, but not too bad, and the run was tough.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

General Aerobic

Matt and I did an 8 mile (actually 9 mile) general aerobic run today with 8 x 100m strides. I'm short on time, so that's really all I can say about it!

Oh yeah, I read a very interesting article about dieting and exercise. I really agree with this article. Here is the link to the article.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Morning 11 Miler

We changed things up a bit this week. Instead of meeting at the Rec Center, we met at the Piney Chapel trail head of the Rails to Trails. There were 9 runners this morning. I suppose either that's a more popular spot or the route through town had gotten old. It was good to see everyone!

The trail does provide more flexibility in that it is marked every half mile. Folks can run as short or as long as they like. The surface is also very comfortable to run on. It rolls quite a bit more than the town course, but it still isn't what I would call hilly. Some ran 8 or 9 miles. We ran 11. A couple of others ran 12. It was an awesome run! It was warm and humid with 72-75 degrees and 84-87% humidity.

I felt good considering yesterday's quality 17 miler. I did struggle a bit at the end. My heart rate kept climbing even thought the pace was relatively flat. I'll chalk that up to heat, humidity, dehydration, and fatigue. I like how Carl keeps the pace dropping through the run. The last half mile felt a little like running in quicksand. I could see the end, but it didn't seem to be getting closer!
  1. 9:10
  2. 8:36
  3. 8:17
  4. 8:04
  5. 7:59
  6. 7:55
  7. 7:41
  8. 7:49
  9. 7:32
  10. 7:34
  11. 7:42

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Long Run

Marathon Training Schedule
I've been reading Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. I'm basing my training this year on that book. It was recommended to me by my friend and super fast kid Eric Charette. All the reviews I've read have been rave. The principles all make sense to me. I hope to train both smarter and harder this year.

The schedules in the book don't exactly fit my real life, but they do a great job of explaining the principles of marathon training such that I am able to modify the schedules. I've been blending the principles in that book with the principles in Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels. I'm leaning much more heavily on Advanced Marathoning, though. I highly recommend both books to anyone who wants to train smarter.

Based on those books, I have my training schedule made through October, including the races that I'm already committed to. I'll post more about the races I have planned later. Of course, I'll do recaps after each one.

Today's Run
Back to today's run. The schedule calls for a 17 miler today. AM generally recommends running long runs 10% to 20% slower than marathon pace. Start 20% slower and build to 10% slower, finishing the last several miles at the fast end of that range. It was not easy to do that today, but I was able to hold on at the end. I ran the last mile a little faster than called for.

Matt joined me for today's run around Athens and he held on great. It was hot and humid, but not quite as humid as it has been. 72F and 87% RH to start and 78F and 75% RH at the end. That's considerably warmer and more humid than comfortable.
  1. 8:55
  2. 8:22
  3. 8:28
  4. 8:22
  5. 8:20
  6. 8:16
  7. 8:28
  8. 8:08
  9. 8:13
  10. 8:14
  11. 8:12
  12. 7:54
  13. 8:07
  14. 8:00
  15. 7:58
  16. 8:13 (traffic stops)
  17. 7:39

Friday, August 14, 2009

Recovery 6 miler

This morning, I had no running partner. Some things I was planning fell through. That was okay, because running alone I was able to focus on things that I never think about when running. I spent some time focusing on breathing today. I was particularly aware of using my belly for breathing instead of my chest. Also, I was able to focus on breathing rhythm. I don't know if there's any value to either of those, but I was able to focus on them during today's run.

An interesting thing is that my heart rate stayed very low for the pace I was running. It was a recovery run, so I wanted to keep my HR below 140. While running an 8:30 pace, my HR was staying around 135-138. I usually have to run near 9:00 to keep my HR that low.

I don't know what the difference was. Was it the breathing? Is my aerobic conditioning improving? Do I just feel good today? I don't know. Anyway, an awesome, if lonely, 6 miler with 6 100 meter strides at the end of the run.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tempo and Thursday

I've had a busy week at work, but I'm still managing to get in the miles.

Yesterday was a tempo run. Matt and I ran over to Athens High and did 4 tempo miles. My tempo runs lately have been too fast, so I slowed this one down intentionally. I've been running them at 6:40, and the last one, my HR was at about 185 during the last half mile. That's too much for tempo training. So, yesterday, I monitored both pace and HR. We did 4.1 miles in 28:01 for right at 6:51 pace. That was perfect both in pace and in HR. Great workout!

I had some energy left to do a very quality 10 miler this morning. Again, Matt came over to run. We started slow, but that's because my schedule required that we start at 5:15. I just wasn't ready to run that early! We were chatting about the early hour and said that we should have invited Lanier. Then, we saw Lanier at the track!

We finished strong with about 3 sub-8:00 miles and a marathon pace mile at the end. Both yesterday and today felt GREAT. Today was a struggle to hang on. I didn't feel bad, just tired.

All in all, week 1 is going very well.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today I did an easy 6.7 mile run at a recovery pace. Easy does it to be ready for my tempo run tomoroow. The humidity was very thick this morning.

I intended to do some fast running with Carl in Huntsville, but I had an embarrassing mishap that kept me in Athens this morning. I don't have a lot of clothes that fit since losing weight. I have some time with customers this week, so I (my awesome wife, actually) took my good clothes to the cleaners last week. I forgot to pick them up yesterday, so I had to get them before work today to have something to wear in front of customers today. I just couldn't make the 6:00 AM start time in Huntsville since the cleaner doesn't open until 6:00.

Somehow I didn't post yesterday... I must have forgotten to push the button...

Yesterday, I did a recovery run of about 5 miles at a very easy pace. I felt much better after the run than I did before! I guess that's why they call it a recovery run. It was terribly humid, though.

A quick comment on Boston qualifying...

That is my goal for this year. It will be challenging, but that's why I think it is a good goal. I believe that it is attainable. Every pace calculator I have seen predicts that I am capable of it based on my race times. I believe I am capable of it.

A BQ marathon will take work and discipline. I'm okay with that. I may not BQ. I may have a bad day. I may get sick. I may get injured. I may overestimate my capability. If I miss the goal, I'll be disappointed, but I will be okay with it. I learned a lot about that from my disappointing Cotton Row 10k. (I say I learned a lot. Actually my friends and family taught me a lot.) There will be no beating myself up over a poor race performance. I run for a variety of reasons, but one reason I will not lose sight of again. I run to have fun. I choose whether or not its fun. BQ training and a BQ effort will be painful. The saying goes, "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back After a Week

I needed the week off. Ideally, I would not have run on Tuesday, but I don't regret running on Tuesday because Tuesday was so fun! I was generally fatigued. My hip had (and still has) a twinge. I just needed a few days to not run. I needed a break. I was able to get some good rest.

And the best news of all is that I actually lost a couple lbs last week. I had ballooned up to 172, and I hit 168 yesterday morning. I simply was not as hungry last week as I am when I run. This further confirms my belief that running is not a great weight loss tool. It is excellent for weight maintenance, but it's not particularly easy to lose (or gain) weight while running. Having said that, I do hope to lose a few pounds before Rocket City. I'd like to reach the starting line near to 160. I think that's a good racing weight for me, but it will take some discipline to get there.

Today was the usual Sunday 10 miler with much of the usual crowd (Carl, Scott, Lanier, and me) running the usual route. It felt absolutely GREAT to be back out running. The week off renewed my excitement to hit the road. I flat out enjoyed this morning's run like I haven't in a while. I am absolutely excited about and focused on Rocket City. I will do what is necessary to reach my goal of Boston qualifying at 3:15:59. I may miss the goal, but it won't be because I didn't work hard or smart enough.

Today's run...
  1. 8:55
  2. 8:19
  3. 8:05
  4. 7:55
  5. 7:50
  6. 7:46
  7. 7:37
  8. 7:36
  9. 7:45
  10. 7:43
It felt great, except for the brutal humidity.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ABS Alumni vs. XC Time Trial

Background for the Event
Coach Murrell invited me to join the alumni vs the current cross country team challenge. I think this is the fourth year that he has done this fun, informal event. I am not an alumnus of ABS, but my wife is and alumna. Also, I know several of the runners on the cross country team. I'd like to thank Coach Murrell for inviting me. Also, I'd like to thank the parents who volunteered to do timing, who brought the water and watermelon for post race refreshments, and generally made it possible.

This "race" is roughly 3 miles. It's not quite 5k, but it is just a shade over 3 miles. It's probably 3.05 or so miles. It is two laps around the Athens High walking track. I don't know how many showed up tonight. I'll have to check the numbers with Coach Murrell. The idea is that the competition is like a cross country race with one team of geriatrics and another team of the current high school cross country runners. This year, the geriatrics had a chance.

The Crowd
On the way, I thought I may have a chance to take first place in this race. I knew the strongest runner on the team was a little out of shape, so I had a chance. I had no idea which alumni may show up, though.

When I got there, I saw Andy Davidson, and I knew that he would dominate the race. Since Andy is an alumnus, it was cool that he was there, because he was on my team! :) I knew that I didn't have to beat the top runner for the geriatric team to win. (It's really not fair to call the team "geriatric" given the make up of the team this year, but it has a funny ring to it!) There were a few other young alumni who were in decent shape, namely Caleb George and David Watson. So,I knew the alumni team would win. I think this is the first year that has happened! Go Geriatrics!

The Race
When the race started, Cliff Denton (senior XC runner) and Andy Davidson were setting the pace with Caleb and David close behind, then me. Not far behind me was Marshall Smith (sophomore) and Andrew Pittman (junior). I knew I couldn't keep up with Andy, so I didn't try. Perhaps I should have stayed closer during the first mile because the gap wasn't very big.

Just beyond the half mile mark I passed Caleb and David. I didn't know if they would try to hang with me or not, but they didn't. I still had Andy and Cliff in my sight, but they hit the 1 mile mark at least 15 seconds ahead of me, and I hit it somewhere near 6:18. They both no doubt broke 6:00.

Shortly after that, Andy began to pull away. Cliff stayed with him for a while, but couldn't hold on. I kept Cliff in my sight, but I should have stayed closer in the first mile. The gap was a little bigger than I should have let it be between Cliff and me at the halfway point, but not insurmountable. Andy's lead over Cliff was already insurmountable. My lead over Caleb, David, Marshall, and Andrew was likewise insurmountable. So, the only battle left was for second place.

I was slowing and hurting. I hit mile 2 at about 6:41. Yeah, that's slow for a 3 mile race. I was a little surprised by the split given my level of effort. I was able to hold near that pace for the remainder of the race.

The thought of tracking down Cliff crossed my mind, but I just couldn't dig deep enough to do it. He was slowing as badly or worse than I was. The team outcome was already decided. Andy was easily in first place and David and Caleb had a big lead over Andrew and Marshall. I just didn't want 2nd place badly enough to try to catch him.

The Result
Andy won comfortably at 17:26. Cliff was maybe 20 seconds ahead of me, but I didn't get his official time. I came in at 19:39, which is a disappointing time for me. Caleb and David came in near 21:00, followed by Andrew, then Marshall. I guess I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that I'm not as fast in the 5k as I was earlier this year.

Or maybe I'm the same and it's the weather. It was HOT and sticky! The temp was about 86 or so and the dew point was about 72 for a RH of 65% or so. Yuck. It hurt. I couldn't really even do a cool down because my abs hurt so bad!

It really is a great group of kids that Coach Murrell has this year. There is room for improvement. Cliff will get in the low 17's with some work. Andrew and Marshall have 18-ish potential. I'm not sure who is next. But I am sure that it is a fine group of young men who have character, respect and discipline. That's far more important than a number on a clock.

Great fun! I hope to join the challenge again next year!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Time off?

Saturday I did a 16 miler with Matt. Matt definitely pulled me along. I struggled to get going, and I struggled to hold on. It wasn't physical; it was mental. Nothing hurt, I was just tired of running. I appreciate Matt being positive and powering at the end to pull me along. Our last miles were our fastest.

The past few runs I have been starting very slow. I've been fatigued and dreading the first mile. Next week, I start to focus on marathon training and I want to be fresh for that. So, I am taking this week off. I have committed to a 3 mile run tomorrow afternoon, but other than that, I plan to rest this week. I even skipped the Sunday 10 miler yesterday.

I'm focusing on rest and diet this week. I hope to begin to establish a good sleep routine and start good eating habits. I hope to hit week 1 of marathon training well rested both mentally and physically. BQ is the goal.