Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Not Well

I keep trying to get out the door even though I don't feel like it.  Some nasty funky germ is ravaging my house. Everyone has been running a fever and coughing and sneezing and just feeling miserable.  Me too. We just can't seem to shake it. I've had good days and bad, but I haven't felt well since about last Wednesday. This is messing up my training!

Today, even though I didn't feel like it, Andy and I rode over to the Owl Creek Horse Trails in the Bankhead National Forest to run the Black Warrior 25k course. The plan called for a 14 miler today. I love those trails! The mountains were still snow covered, and it was an absolutely beautiful run! I ran hard, too.  I finished the course in about 2:02, which is faster than I raced it in 2009.  I think I inadvertently shortened the course by about a quarter mile, though. I wanted to finish stronger, but my left hamstring just kept whispering to me to slow down. I listened. It's still sore. Ugh. I just want to run fast again without worrying about injury!

The rest of the day I have been completely wiped out. I was not well enough to run, but in a way, it was worth it. I'm miserably sick now, but the joy of the beauty of nature and camaraderie was almost worth it. Almost.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Holiday Week in Training

I mostly did what the plan called for this week. First, I did a 12 miler with 10 of them with the usual Sunday morning 10 mile crew. Have I mentioned how much I like having that Sunday morning fixture on my calendar?  I think I have.

Monday, I did a recovery run and 10 strides (yay! I didn't hurt myself with the strides!).  Tuesday, Matt and I did a 13 miler at a much harder pace than my plan called for. It was miserable at times, but overall it felt awesome.

Wednesday, I went to the trails and did an 11 miler mostly on the second half of the Mountain Mist course. Joining me were Matt, Marcus, and Andy.  Marcus and Andy are much younger and faster than I am.  I need to hang out with young fast people more often. I was still feeling Tuesday's 13 miler and totally tanked at about 10 miles.  I had no idea how I was going to finish that last mile. I stopped and walked a bit, let them all pass me and even get out of sight.  Then, I had to just "suck it up, buttercup" and tried to catch them.  As they were cooling down on the last quarter mile, I got back in sight and was able to nearly catch them.

Thursday, I felt like garbage.  I'm sure that was a combination of the back to back hard days and the fact that everyone in my house except me is running a fever.  I generally don't run a fever even if I am sick. I feel sick. I thought a recovery run in the warmest part of the day would make me feel better.  Wrong.

I had to try to squeeze the long run in on Friday because I have to see what Santa Claus brings on Christmas Day.  So, I tried to run 17 miles with 8 miles at marathon pace.  That was a complete no-go. I dreaded the run before I started.  I struggled to get out the door. I finally got out the door an hour later than planned. Then I ran at my normal long run pace for 9 miles.  I never relaxed and enjoyed it, which is unusual for a long run.  My HR was fine, but I just couldn't get comfortable.  Then, I sped up to the 6:50 3 hour marathon pace after 9 miles.  I ran 3 miles at that pace and just had to stop.  My left leg was hurting and I knew that it would only get worse. Also, I just felt horrible.  So, I slowed to about a 9:00 pace and ran home from where I was.  That turned out to be about a mile, so I got 13 in with 3 at marathon pace.  Ugh. I hope I feel better soon so I can train for this crazy 3 hour goal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chugging Along

I battled weather and flight delays to get home on Thursday. What a day.  I had to get up too early to get in a run before heading from my hotel to DFW.  I figured that getting home at 12:40 would allow me to get in the missed medium-long run of 12 miles.  But Delta Airlines had other plans for my day.  I spent much of the day cramped up in a plane out on a tarmac awaiting departure and awaiting an open gate.  Ugh.

Business travel is great.  Ask anyone who travels 20 or more times a year and they'll tell you how wonderful it is to sit at an airport and be away from your family and have your diet and schedule interrupted. And the wonderful sights you see. Hotels, airports, and offices pretty much look the same no matter where you are. Seriously, if I didn't run, I don't think I'd be able to bear business travel.  I do get to see things that others don't see because I explore a bit on foot. Wow, I just got off topic, didn't I?

I did the 12 miler when I got home and barely finished before dark.  It felt really good, but my body is tired from the travel, lack of sleep, and horrible diet this week.  I really enjoy those medium-long runs.

After recovering Friday, I went to Monte Sano today and ran the second half of the Mountain Mist course.  That race is going to eat me alive! Natural Well trail is much rougher than I remembered, and I remembered it being nearly impossible. I have a lot of work to do to even run close to last year's time on that course. 5:00 is out of the question. It's brutally difficult and I am not in good shape, and I'm nowhere near trail shape right now.  But the run was really good. I love it out there on the mountain.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Tempo

My mettle to train for Boston has been tested early! I have been on business travel in a very unfamiliar city this week.  The only place I've found to run is a 2.7 mile concrete path.  So, if you run out and back on it several times, you can get your scheduled mileage!

Yesterday, I ran 10 miles with 3 miles at 6:29 overall pace.  Yep, all 10 of them were on that concrete path that goes by the dump and the jail and the airport and the middle school. In fairness, it also goes by two nice parks, too.

Today, I needed to run 12 miles.  I tried running on the roads around here, but apparently there is no leash law.  after getting chased twice by dogs in the pitch dark black of pre-dawn, I decided that the trail was my safest option.  I only did 10 miles because I ran out of time and I couldn't bring myself to running out that silly path again.

The upside is that the weather has been gorgeous!  50 degrees this morning!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Boston Training... Day 1

My training schedule for Boston started this morning.  It was a 9.7 mile recovery run.  I met with the usual Athens 10 mile crew.  One in the group was struggling a little with a sore Achilles, so I stayed back with him at an easier pace.  We also cut the run a little short to avoid a hill on a recovery run.

It was cold and WINDY!  I guess that is a sign of things to come this winter.  I have to get in 3:00 shape.  I have a tempo run and a med-long run scheduled this week.  It will be a challenge to get them in while I'm traveling, but I'll do whatever it takes to get the miles and quality done.

Everything counts.  Miles. Quality. Diet. Recovery. Strides. Core work. Hills. Stretching. Drills. Rest. 3:00. 3:00. 3:00.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rocket City Marathon 2010 - 3:45 Pacer

I was more nervous for this than I was for any race I remember, even my first one.

There will be people counting on me! What if I have an injury?  What if I mess up the pace? What if go out too fast?  What if I get behind?  What if nobody shows up to run in my pace group? What if I get a jerk in my group? What if I'm just boring?  What if, what if, what if.

Well, it was an absolute blast!  Running a marathon without hurting is fun!  I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the entire group. I really wish we had stayed together the whole time, but I know that was not realistic.

As I made my way to the starting area, people began to crowd around me.  I had a group of maybe 25 or 30! I couldn't believe it! I tried my best to chat it up with all of them and get their names.  I only remembered a few names, and I simply didn't have time to get everyone's name before the anthem.  Most of them needed a 3:50 to BQ and were planning to hang with me as long as they could.

I warned everyone before the race that we would get as much as 40-45 seconds behind in the first three miles.  I told them not to worry because we would make that up in miles 4-15, but not all in one mile.  I told them that we would try not to run any mile more than 5 seconds too fast.

The Early Miles
We had to run a slow first mile because of the crowds. Very early in the race, my Garmin was way off of the markings on the course.  I should have disabled auto-lapping and pressed "lap" at every mile, but I didn't do that. My Garmin actually measured this course at 26.45 miles. Because of this, my splits were not as consistent as I had hoped. The second mile was also a little slow, but we had a good third mile and were about to settle into a pace.

I got all kinds of questions about my running and the course and the area and the weather and who knows what else.  The chatter just kept the miles clicking away. It was a fun group of miles, for sure! Our splits were pretty consistent here, too.  Mile 8 was a little slow, but it is uphill.

The long stretch on Baily Cove was even boring with this big group.  We were out of conversation, and this section of the race is just brutal.  I tried to take the lead as much as I could, but the group had spread out some, with some running ahead. I tried, but pretty much everything I said was artificial.  I just couldn't stay cheery here.

Near the halfway mark, I HAD to go to the port-a-potty.  I was about to burst.  I hated to do that because there are no scheduled bathroom breaks on the pace group.  I just had to, though.  I did not want to, but I had to.  So, I spotted the ugly blue plastic stall and told everyone in the group that I was going to run ahead and told them not to chase me! That made mile 13 a 9:03 mile and mile 14 an 8:00 mile trying to catch the group again.  I did catch them and settled down quickly.

On to 20
After the turn on Cheney Thompson, the conversation picked up again.  The group stayed together well, and we were having fun.  I kept reminding people how much fun it is to run. The conversation was amazingly positive and it was just plain fun.  I don't remember a lot here.  I could see people beginning to fade, and I was trying to bring them along.  It worked for the most part.  I got several of them to 20 with me.

The Last 10k
People really began to drop here.  I told the group, "If you feel good, you can drop me at any time.  I won't chase you.  Leave me."  Only one took me up on it, and I passed him again before mile 23.  I hope it wasn't bad advice that caused that.

Actually, the opposite was beginning to happen.  People were dropping.  Oh... I wanted to go get them.  I wanted everyone to finish with me. Badly.  It hurt each time I passed someone.  People kept saying, "No! I don't want you to pass me!" My response was, "Don't let me!  I don't want to! Hang with me! I'll get you there in 3:45!" Some would lift and hang for a while, but most just faded.

I know how difficult that last 10k is. I kept telling everyone that.  I kept telling them that the secret to the marathon is conquering the last 10k.  You haven't lived until you've experienced the last 10k of a marathon. The last 10k is what you love.  The last 10k is what you train for. Embrace the last 10k.  Overcome the desire to quit.  Overcome the desire to slow down.  10k? That's an easy distance! At 5k I was saying, "5k? we laugh at people who only run 5ks!"  During the last mile it was a pure celebration! I was saying, "DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING ON THE ROAD! You should not be able to take another step when you cross the finish line! Dig deep! You got this! A mile? A mile is NOTHING!"  I was supposed to finish under 3:45, but I yielded to some in my group to allow them to finish ahead of me and went across in 3:45:04 chip time, 3:45:24 gun time. That's pretty close for a first time pacer, I suppose.

Rocket City Marathon is one of the best marathons ever.  Run this one. Great race. Great people. Great town. I'm super excited that it now offers pace groups.  I'd lead a pace group again if asked.  Awesome fun.

And I'd like to give a shout out to Bob, Sheryl, Lisa, Gretchen, Amy, and Stephanie for Boston Qualifying today! Also, nice job David, Lucas, and Matt for hanging in there the whole way. Sweet! I hope I was some help to you along the way.

After the finish, I wanted to hang out to find all of those that I lost.  I found some, but not all.  It was great to reunite and congratulate.  I'd love to do this again.  The star of my group was clearly Stephanie.  She BQ'd in her first marathon EVER!  She absolutely dropped the hammer in the last mile. She showed toughness and guts that are rarely seen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What To Say?

I'm really looking forward to this weekend's Rocket City Marathon.  Helping folks reach the goal that they have trained so hard for will be a pretty neat experience.  I've been thinking about what I may say to the group.  I like to talk, but I have to make conversation with strangers for nearly four hours?  I'm sure I'll get by.  And I need to mix in some trite running quotes to inspire them, too.  You know, the classics I use in this blog, like "Suck it up, buttercup!" I'm guessing that one will get old sometime before mile 26. I'm open for new suggestions.

I'm happy to report that my hamstring seems to be cooperating with me now.  I tried some fast running yesterday (well, faster than I've been running).  I did a 6:30 mile and 5 or 6 strides.  I could feel it, but it never tightened up on me.  Today, I did 6 strides again with no problem.  I think I'm ready for the hard running that will be my training for Boston.  Oh yeah, Boston training starts Monday.  3:00.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Really Do Maintain a Blog

I know, I know.  It's been a while.  My posts here have been anything but regular.

I have been under considerable stress recently. When you add to that some nagging injuries, it's just been hard.  Are the injuries related to the mental stress? Anyway, it's been a real struggle to break the 50 mile per week mark.  60 miles per week has taken almost super-human focus.  The few times that I've broken 70, I honestly don't know how I did that.

However, I'm coming off of a 65 mile week that felt fantastic.  I believe that I have the necessary 65-70 mile base required to begin serious marathon training.  So now it's time to come back and focus again. Now everything counts: planning, stretching, diet, drills, mileage, hills, quality workouts, recovery runs, rest. Three hours at Boston.

I'll end with a funny story from yesterday's 18.5 miler.  After 17.5 miles, some kids on bicycles were riding alongside me and we started chatting.  They seemed like good kids, maybe 10-11 years old. I asked them if they thought they could beat me in a race to the end of the street.  One said, "We've been out here a long time and we're pretty tired."  I said, "I'm working on my 18th mile, I'm tired too." "WOW! 18 miles?!?!" "Yes. It's fair. Let's race to the top of the hill there." I took about 5 or 6 quick steps and said, "GO!"  I had the lead!  But of course, bicycles are much faster than feet after 17.5 miles and they pulled ahead.  My hamstring actually stood up to that fairly well.  At the top of the hill, I congratulated them and paused for a minute to share some high fives and idle chatter.  It made my run.  The moral of the story? Have fun.  There are more opportunities for innocent fun than we ever realize.  Little things can make big things more enjoyable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Goal Adjustment

I have a completely new set of goals now. The second half of 2011 has been mostly a disappointment.  I'm not discouraged.  I'm coming back in focus again.

Rocket City Marathon
I love this race. It was my first marathon and will be a fixture on my calendar indefinitely. I'm so happy to have a quality marathon so close to home. I'm signed up and I look forward to running the course on that day. However, I will not be running or attempting to run a sub 3:00 this year at RCM.

In 2010, the Rocket City Marathon is offering pace groups for the first time ever. I am VERY excited about this! Most large marathons offer this feature, and I'm glad that RCM is offering it this year! Setting a goal and training for a goal are nice. However, having a group and a dedicated cheerleader for every step on race day makes achieving that goal a little easier. I will be leading the 3:45 pace group.  This is the Boston Qualifying time for women 35-39 years old and for men 55-59 years old. I know how much hard work and preparation are involved in running a BQ marathon.  I consider it an honor to be chosen to lead others to the finish line in BQ time. Come join me and run a 3:45 at Rocket City!  I am beyond excited about leading others to their race day goal!

Mountain Mist 2011
Since I won't be racing RCM, I should have plenty of umph in my legs for a strong showing at Mountain Mist.  I don't really want to say that this race is circled on my calendar, but it's important to me.  I want to break the five hour barrier.  This race draws such an elite crowd that breaking 5:00 won't get you much, but that does seem to be the measure of excellence on that course.  I'll be hitting the trails quite a bit in December in preparation.

Boston 2011
This is my new 3 hour goal. This one IS circled on my calendar. I know it's a big goal and a tough course that eats people alive. I know that I'll have distractions the week of the race.  I know I'll be tired from traveling.  But I will work harder and smarter than I ever have before.  2 something at Boston.  Nice.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dizzy Fifties

Today was a day of lessons.  Most importantly, I learned a lesson in humility.  What ever made me think that I could just show up and run a 50 miler? It turns out that you need to prepare your body to run 50 miles.  You can't just run a couple of weekend 20 milers and call yourself prepared. I am not above the rules of nature.  Maybe there is some level of grit and determination that can pull one through 50 miles, but I don't have that.

The Little Loop
I had such hubris.  I thought, "I'll just find some 50k'ers slower than me and just run with them to make the first 30 miles pass."  I had no plan for the next 20 miles.  So, that's what I did.  I tucked in behind Brad White for a bit.  Then I caught Christy Scott and ran with her for the rest of the loop.  I HAD to stop and shed some clothes;  It was WARM today.

The North Loop
I was behind at the beginning of the north loop because of the stop.  I ran most of it alone, until just before 3 benches. There I caught up with a few folks from the Knoxville area.  I don't remember all their names, but I ran with them and passed going up the Sinks hill.  I was running quite a bit too fast to expect to finish a 50 miler, but I had to make a pit stop and needed to get there quickly!  I stopped again and there was some distance between me and the next group again.

The South Loop
Ugh.  Alone again.  I was very much alone for much of this South loop.  It took me until the South Plateau loop trail at O'Shaugnessey point to catch Linda Scavarda.  She was also planning 50 miles, and let me know that my pace was too fast for her.  Well, it was too fast for me, too.  We chatted a bit, but I went ahead. Shortly after that, I caught the next group, the folks from Knoxville.  I ran a bit with Malinda Honkus who told me in no uncertain terms that I would not finish 50 miles if I did not slow down.  What does she know about how fast I am?  Quite a lot, apparently.  I should have listened.  But NOOOO!  I ran ahead.

North and South Loop 2
After leaving the aid station I caught Christy again and ran the north and south loops with her.  It was great to have some company.  On the turn at Cold Springs trail, we had to shout down the second place female to bring her back on track. Other than that, it was completely uneventful except for some really good conversation.  This was especially helpful because I was already wondering how I'd run the South loop again.

North Loop 3
I let Christy pull away from me at the beginning of the North Loop because I knew that I would not be able to maintain this pace for 50 miles.  I really should have made the decision right then to go 50k and then keep up with her. She made a wrong turn that cost her a spot or two in the race which really made me regret delaying the decision.  I'm sure I could have helped her through that. My bad.  I'll take some blame for that.

Soon after this I caught Dan Burleson.  We had some very good conversation, and then Malinda caught us again. Malinda and I left Dan on the way up Sinks trail. I told Malinda that she was in 4th place, so she turned it up a notch as we left the aid station to start the South loop.

South Loop 3
This was completely miserable.  I was alone the entire loop.  I just couldn't convince myself to do this loop again.  It's the easiest of all the trails physically.  However, mentally, it's mind numbingly boring! This loop is an absolute test of mental toughness and I failed.  I didn't want to run another step.  I knew that a reasonable 50k time was long since past. I had no desire to do any more than 50k.  So I made my decision to just quit when this loop was over. I walked a lot of this loop wondering if that would convince me to keep going.  Nope. Not if this loop is included. I believe I could have run the North loop 3 or 4 more times, but there was no way I could run the South loop even once more.

My hamstring held up and I feel pretty good several hours later.  I'm going to run the Sunday morning 10 miler  tomorrow.  So, today was just another long run.  I didn't give this race the preparation and respect it deserved. Then I didn't commit to either of the 3 distance options available.  This is what happens when you do that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Huntsville Half - Humbling DNF

Well, I report the good and the bad here.  Today was the bad.  I DNF'd for the first time.  I don't regret my decision, but I do regret having to make it.  I believe it was the right one.  Ouch, my pride hurts. It turns out that I'm not invincible.  I can't just run as far and as fast as I want without consequence.

I had a bad week of preparation.  I knew it would be.  I had to be at work early and work late on Monday and Tuesday.  I had to travel on Thursday and Friday.  I just viewed the packed schedule as an excuse to "mini-taper" for the half marathon.  I had a very good short tempo run (6:19 avg pace for 3+ miles) on Tuesday and a very comfortable 11-12 miler on Wednesday.  I took Thursday off and ran an easy treadmill 5 on Friday. Reducing the mileage was the only way to survive the added fatigue and stress of the work week.

I rode over with Lance, one of the regulars for the Athens Sunday morning 10 miler.  This was his first half marathon, and I'm proud of his hard work in preparation and his effort today. Nice job buddy!

My stomach was all out of sorts, as usual.  I just couldn't go to the bathroom enough before the race.  But somehow, I was able to overcome that discomfort.  I enjoyed the pre-race pep talks and visits.  That's one of my favorite parts of racing!  I worked my way to near the front of the starting line just in time for some pre-race announcements and the start.

The First 5k
For some reason, I had a lot of adrenaline for this race.  In spite of the bad week and stomach troubles, I was as mentally ready for this race as any I remember. I wanted to GO!  I was pretty pumped.  I started really quick and constantly had to rein myself in during the first mile.  It's a rolling first mile and I kept peeking at my instantaneous pace and it was sub 6:00!  Then I'd purposely slow down and then I'd be running fast again.  I just couldn't help it.  I clocked the first mile in 6:21.

I knew that I still had to pull the reins in some to last.  Mile 2 is a much easier mile, but I was able to hold back the excitement and run it in 6:30 flat.  The split caller said 12:51.  Nice!  I'm on pace, feeling great, and have some time in the bank!  Greg Reynolds blew past me as we passed the mile marker.  I did not even entertain the thought of chasing him. He's faster than me.  Period.

Mile 3 is pancake flat and I was still trying to hold back.  6:31.  The split caller said 19:22.  Nice.

Miles 4-6
I didn't remember that Mile 4 was so uphill.  It's a long, continuous uphill.  It's not that steep, but it's uphill.  And today, it was into the wind.  I was struggling up this hill!  I was working maybe a little harder than on the previous miles.  I hit this mile in 6:38.  The split caller said 26:02, so I was off just a bit.

Near the top of this hill I caught up with Robert Whitaker.  We ran together for a a few minutes.  I know that he has run the 10 miler at about 6:30 overall pace, so I figured we were looking for about the same pace.  I could tell that he was working harder than me for this same pace, so I dropped the pace a bit to pull ahead.  From here I could see some bodies in the distance to go after.

I also wanted to make up some of the 8 seconds that I lost in the fourth mile, but I didn't want to do it all at once.  I ran the 5th mile in 6:27.  Nice.  Do that a few more times and I'm back on pace. It's a downhill mile and I took some advantage.  I probably should have run it a bit faster, but it was still nice.

Mile 6 is also flat, and I had a person picked out to pass.  I passed him (did not know him) at about 5.75 or so and ran the mile in 6:29.

I can't really describe how good I was feeling.  6:30 pace seemed like 7:30 pace.  My breathing was controlled.  The stomach issues were gone.  I was feeling great.  It just seemed like it would be my day.

The End
I was cruising along and had another unknown runner picked out to pass.  And I did just after the 6 mile marker.  I had to make a bit of a move to pass him, and dropped to below 6:15 temporarily to get by.  After that I settled back to the 6:30 that was I was feeling.

Then, I noticed a pain in my left hamstring.  It was toward the outside, near where the tendon attaches at the knee in the back, but inside such that it couldn't be IT band.  And the pain was clearly muscular. It wasn't that bad for a few steps.  I thought I could handle it.  Then it got worse.  Then I couldn't run without limping.  So I stopped to try to shake it out.  I started again.  No.  I walked.  I tried to run about an 8:00 pace to see if I could do that.  No.  I was limping.  NOOOOO!! What do I do?  I started walking again. The guy I just passed ran by.  He checked on me and I told him I was fine and that I would make it to the aid station just ahead.  I appreciate his checking on me. Then, I tried an easy jog.  My gait was affected.  No go.  Ugh.  This was about 3/4 mile from the aid station, so I just walked there and dropped out.

Humiliating.  Disappointing.  Frustrating.  Embarrassing.

I noticed the hamstring soreness the week before last while I was doing some strides.  On about the second or third acceleration, it tightened, so I just quit the strides and jogged home.  It was sore the next day, but it never bothered me again.  Today's pain was just a little worse than a couple of weeks ago, but it doesn't seem that bad.  It just seemed like continuing, and especially continuing to push the pace, would risk real injury.

Hopefully, today was just discretion being the better part of valor.  I probably could have limped to the finish. But why?  If it had happened at mile 10 or 11, I definitely would have considered finishing through the pain.  But with 6.1 miles to go, it just seemed silly and pointless and risky.

Thanks to Madelyn Patton for her kindness and encouragement when I dropped out.  Also thanks to Mark York for giving me a ride back to the start.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week In Review

This week was up and down.  I didn't get nearly my scheduled mileage on Saturday because I ran the Spooktacular 5k and felt more like visiting with friends than running extra miles. So I ran 16 or 17 on Sunday to make up for the lost mileage. I felt sick on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but just ran and worked through it.

Tuesday called for 6x1000m intervals, but I just didn't feel like it.  I opted for about 11 miles with some strides instead.  I would have called in sick at work, but missing work wasn't an option on Tuesday. Since I had to work, why not run?

Wednesday was by far the best workout of the week.  I felt much better.  Matt and I ran a "long tempo".  We ran three warm up miles and then we ran 10 sub-7:00 miles.  Matt peeled off after 7 and then I was joined by one of the happiest golden retrievers I've ever seen!  I told him to go home, but he wouldn't. He joined me for two laps around the Athens High 1.5 mile track at a 6:45 pace!  I could tell that he was struggling at the end, but he was welcome company! I really had to get stern with him to keep him from following me home, which wouldn't have been safe for him.  I petted him and congratulated him for hanging with me.  It made me want a dog!

Today was a 17.5 miler at long run pace.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spooktacular 5k - A New PR

First, the numbers.  I ran an 18:29 which is a PR by 22 seconds.  That was good enough for 24th overall and 2nd in the 35-39 age group.  Congratulations to Fleet Feet team mate Brandon York for out-dueling perennial winner Josh Whitehead for the overall win in a very swift 15:19. There was a very fast crowd up front with the top 19 finishers under 18 minutes.  The overall results are at the HTC website.

Yet again, I wasn't sure I'd run this race. I still have bruised confidence and legs that are slow to turn over.  The last workout on the track humbled (or is the word humiliated?) me.  But I really needed a good 5k fitness test, so I signed up.  Late.

This race is really too cool.  Costumes are encouraged, so you will laugh. And there are awards for the best costumes. Cool awards, too. The start of the race is preceded by a rendition of Thriller complete with dancing zombies.  Really, you should run this race.  Also, this race draws a FAST crowd.  So, if you just want to see the costumes and really compete, you can do that, too. Fun and competitive.  Nice.

It was very cool with temps in the mid 30s and no wind.  PERFECT running weather.  I warmed up with Sean and Jon from Fleet Feet on the course.  It wasn't a good sign that I was already feeling nauseous.  I had great weather, but I wasn't confident and I didn't feel well.

I opted for a long sleeve Nike base layer, Fleet Feet sleeveless shirt, shorts, beanie, and gloves.  Also, this was my first race in my Nike Lunaracer2 shoes. I REALLY liked racing in those shoes.  They just stay out of my way and let me run fast.

The Start
After Vincent Price was finished rapping and laughing and a few announcements, the race started right on time.  That's impressive given all the pre-race festivities.

I was scoping out the competition, looking for people in my age group, knowing that the front would be way ahead of me.  Shane O'Neill was running with his son, so who else? Rob Youngren.  Sometimes Rob runs hard and sometimes he doesn't.  This day, he ran hard and I had no chance to touch his sub 17. I figured I should be 2nd in my age group.  Now that's out of the way, how fast can I run?

The start was VERY crowded.  There were tons of young runners who started WAY too fast.  It was just absolutely packed.  It took a good half mile for it to thin out at all.  Even the front runners had to weave and bob through the crowd.  After maybe 3/4 of a mile, I had passed a dozen or so teenagers and it seemed that we had settled into our places.

I tried something different for this race.  I barely looked at my watch.  I wanted to have it for log purposes, but I wanted to run based on how 5k pace feels.  Oh, I definitely paid attention to the split callers, but I didn't look at my watch very much at all.

Mile 1... Mike called out 5:42, but I think it was slower than that.  Post-race I learned that my auto-lap on the watch clocked it at 5:47.

Mile 2
Just ahead of me after the turn on Clinton was a teenage boy, then Caitlin Morris and a group of 3 teenage boys.  I could tell that the first teenager was struggling a bit, so I passed him and he made no attempt to hang close.  For the rest of the race, I stayed close behind the group of Caitlin + 3.

I thought several times about making a move and passing.  I probably should have.  I at least should have joined the group.  I just didn't.  I have no idea why not, just not.  It's probably because I was already running pretty hard!

The only noticeable climb on this course is between 1.5 and 2 miles.  Here, I lost the group ahead.  As we were climbing up toward the courthouse, I just didn't (couldn't?) keep up with them.  They passed the two mile mark and crested the hill with some distance that I didn't know if I could make up. I MUST work on hills. The distance at the two mile split was enough that I didn't hear their split, but I heard mine.  There was probably 15-20 seconds difference.  Randy said 11:44.  Post race, my watch said 11:52.

The Finish
Going down the hill, I closed the gap considerably. Now, there couldn't have been any more than 5-6 seconds between me and the group ahead. Again, why did I not continue the move?  Why did I not hold that pace?  The course is downhill to the finish except for the bridge by the Embassy Suites. I fancy myself a better than average downhill runner. Why didn't I run faster?  Sure, I was running hard and I was tired of that pace, but I wasn't hurting that bad. I have no idea why I don't run harder in races.  Really, I don't.

Approaching the 3 mile marker, I noticed that the teenagers ahead had a final kick.  Caitlin didn't give them chase.  I didn't want to be the guy who sprints past a lady at the finish line (yeah, that's it, chivalry and all), so I didn't try to close the gap either.  Also, there was nobody within striking distance behind me, so I just maintained pace the rest of the way in.  Yeah, it's a weak way to finish, I know.

It was a PR and a fun race, but as always, I know I could have done better.  It's a tired refrain.  I say it after every race.  When will I really let it go in a race?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trail, Track, and Medium-Long

I was on the wait list for the Dizzy Fifties Trail Run, but now I'm in.  So I decided that Saturday would be a good day to scope out the course.  I know the course, but I've never run those loops together.  I did about a 21 mile run on the course Saturday.  I had no snake or deer hunter encounters, so it was a pleasant run.  I felt very fresh for the rest of the day, too.  I'm planning on the 50 mile option at Dizzy, so I'll be walking the Sinks Trail climb pretty much every time.  November 20 should be both miserable and fun.

The schedule shifted the track work back from Tuesday to Monday for some reason that I don't understand.  But I did what it said. I still had tired trail legs Monday morning when I did the 5x600m intervals. I forget how difficult that workout is.  5x600 sounds easy.  But there's nothing about sub 5k pace that is easy.  Matt totally dominated this workout and finished every interval 5-7 seconds ahead of me.
  1. 2:12
  2. 2:05
  3. 2:08
  4. 2:08
  5. 2:09
Today, the day following the track workout, called for a 15 miler. Yuck, it was muggy today.  I finished the run strong and managed a sub-8:00 overall pace, but I feel tired and beat up right now.  Tomorrow will be a day off.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Long Tempo

Twelve miles with seven miles at tempo pace were on today's schedule.  Actually, a 15 miler was on today's schedule and 12 / 7 was on Thursday's schedule.  But I slept late and realized that I didn't have time to get 15 miles done before 7:00 AM.  I seriously thought about doing 12 miles at long run pace.  That would have been easy and pleasant.  I still had that thought when I hit the road at 5:20 AM.  When my watch hit 3 miles, though, I decided to just do it.

I did mix it up a bit and do the tempo miles on the roads instead of on the track.  That time of day there is very little traffic in the neighborhoods where I'm running.  It worked out well as I only had one stop for traffic. Running that fast in the dark does disturb dogs a little more, though.  There was more barking than usual and I had to squirt a couple back with my water bottle.

I ran 7 miles at a 6:36 overall pace.  After the first mile at 6:37, I spent most of the rest of the run talking myself out of quitting.  When I hit mile 6 with a 6:35 average pace, I wouldn't have quit early for $100.  It's funny how a distance runner's mind works.  I kept telling myself, "Running until you're tired doesn't make you a better runner.  Running AFTER you're tired makes you a better runner."

Why do I like this suffering so much?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh The Track

The schedule for today was 12 miles total with 6x 800m at 5k pace. What is 5k pace? I sure don't know. So I opted for just slower than dry-heaving pace. If I dry heave or throw up, then I ran too hard. If I don't feel like I'm going to dry heave or throw up, then I'm not running hard enough. Yeah, that sounds about right.

  1. 2:51
  2. 2:50
  3. 2:50
  4. 2:54 (almost lost my guts, so I'm running just about right)
  5. 2:54
  6. 2:52 (Not sure how I didn't lose anything, but I didn't.)
The 4th and 6th were especially brutal for some reason. Other than that, I got some sick enjoyment out of today's workout. I ended up with 11.5 miles total.  I hope this helps shake some slowness out of my legs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fleet Feet Monte Sano 15k

The Numbers
I ran a 1:01:39 which is a 5 second PR (I guess that still counts as a PR). That was good enough for 15th (of 412) overall and 2nd (of 30) in the 35-39 Age Group.  14th overall was 59:49, so I wasn't close to catching anyone.  14th overall also happened to be 1st in the 35-39 Age Group.  Overall results are available at the HTC website.  The young runner I mention in the first 5k of the report below was David Gunther, a 14 year old.  He set a state age record at the race.  I met him and his parents after the race and he was a very nice young man and was happy with his race.  He should be!

I wasn't sure I'd run this one.  I wanted to. I mean, I haven't raced since Cotton Row, and I needed to toe the line again. But my daughter just had a tonsillectomy, and I wanted to be sure she was recovering well before I committed to a race.  Well, she's done just GREAT since the surgery, so Leigh and I decided late last night that I'd get up and go sign up on race day.

I was running a little late as usual, but was able to get most of my pre-race routine done and even registered in time to get one of the last shirts.  Thanks to Mike O'Melia, Fleet Feet, and all the volunteers today.

I did a 2 mile warm up with a random runner who happened to be Eddie Blankenship.  He ran the Duck and Run 5k and actually won the masters honors there.  He was telling me what a great time he had at the race before I even let him know I was the race director.  AWESOME!  I'm glad to know so many folks had such a good time.

First 5k
The race was just a little late getting started, but it was no big deal to me. I scoped out the competition, and picked out who would be the lead pack, the next pack, and the group I should be in.  I definitely started a little quick, with the second pack, but backed off quickly.  I saw Timothy Pitt who has been running strong lately and was running about my pace, so I decided to stay with him for bit.

I had an hour in mind, but I knew an hour would be a challenge on this course.  I hit the first mile, an uphill mile with a turnaround, at 6:20, well on pace for that and still behind Tim.  I felt really good, but there was a long way to go.  I passed a really young runner (maybe 15 years old or so?) at the scenic overlook just before the 2 mile split.  I ran mile 2 in 6:25, still on pace.  Just after mile 2, I passed Tim and clocked mile 3 in 6:24.  An hour will be tough!

On to 10k
On the way to mile 4, the course starts to growl at you a little.  Along the way to mile 4, I passed Emily Hardin.  I am not in her class.  She's a tough runner who regularly wins, won the San Francisco Marathon, and who looks like she's jogging when she's running a 6:00 pace.  I asked her, "Is this a marathon pace run? Are you OK?"  She had just finished doing a 40 mile Rim to Rim run in the grand canyon.  Ahhh. That explains it.  I absolutely admire her and know that she's the top female runner in North Alabama.  She wished me well as I went by.

Mile 4 was a miserable 6:40 and the wheels were coming off.  I decided that I couldn't make up 15 seconds in one mile, but if I'm tenacious I can make it up before the end.  Well, there was nobody challenging me and nobody in reach.  Mile 5 was 6:36 and mile 6 was 6:37.  So much for making it up a little at a time.  Here, I lost my focus and really didn't run well.

The Last 5k
At all the turns here, I would sneak a peek over my shoulder. I knew that I was losing time because my splits were just too slow, but nobody was really close.  Mile 7 was 6:43.  I have no idea why I didn't just gut it out and run faster.  Mile 8 was 6:44.  Again, the pain of exertion comes down to three words, "Suck it up!"  I didn't.  I exerted less.  After mile 8, I looked over my shoulder and noticed the young guy that I passed early gaining on me.  I knew that at this point, I would have to come back (which I was kinda doing) or they would have to run  much faster than they had been to catch me.  So I ran a little harder in the last 1.3.  I ran closer to my pace during the early miles.  Nobody caught me, but they weren't too far behind.  Mile 9 was 6:37 and the 0.3 (actually 0.4 by my watch) was 2:27.

This was also a very lonely stretch.  After Emily in the fourth mile, I didn't see another runner (except on the overlapping portions of the course).  I could have used some motivation.

I finished 1:01:39 which is a 5 second PR.  It's a personal best 15k, but it wasn't my personal best and I know it.  Not bad for shaking the race cobwebs off, though.  I know that I need to work harder, especially on the track.  I felt like I could have maintained a 6:35 - 6:45 pace for another 3 or 4 miles, but I don't think I could have run any faster.  Weird, I know.

I'm going to mix up my training a bit after RCM.  I'm going to spend more time on the track working on speed.  I'm going to do drills and 5k pace and faster more often.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ahh, The Mid Week 15 Miler

For some reason, I've come to believe that the multiple mid-week 13-15 mile run is the staple of marathon training.

Sure, the long run is important.  You have to learn what happens to your body at 20+ miles.  You have to learn to hydrate and fuel during your run.  You have to build endurance.  Don't skip the long run.  And you better practice marathon pace at the end of some of those long runs, too.

Likewise, the tempo run is a must.  You'll never learn to hold a difficult pace for mile after mile if you don't practice it.  And the physiologists (who are much smarter than I) claim that lactate threshold is the single best predictor of marathon performance. Tempo runs aim to improve lactate threshold. You'll never be able to run your fastest marathon without a steady diet of tempo runs.

But the mid-week 13-15 miler seems to be what gives my marathon training its kick.  Perhaps I say that because I enjoy them (sick, I know) more than the other types of runs.  But I know that twice a week I'm going to pound the pavement from 5:00AM to 7:00AM.  I'll suffer some misery, but then I'll see the sun rise and for some reason I'm not as tired. These runs seem to separate those who train for marathons from those who train, but happen to run marathons.  If I want, I can mix in marathon pace miles.  If I don't feel like it, I just run at a long run pace.  And people look at me funny when I'm wearing my reflective vest in broad daylight.  Yeah, I've been out here that long.

Today I belted out a 15+ miler at 7:35 average pace (minus the warmup 8:50 mile) and my heart rate never climbed out of the 150s.  Gotta love cooler weather.  Aerobically, I feel like I'm in pretty good shape.  I could certainly improve, but my HR seems to stay low for a given pace.  Old man age seems to be catching up with my legs.  I can't get them to go much faster.  It's really weird to feel like I'm at about max effort in my legs while I'm able to breathe and converse normally.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Well, I do suppose an update to this blog is due.  What, has it been 2 weeks now? I knew back in June or July that September would be the kind of month that I just have to find a way to endure.  Well, I have endured September.  I made it through the preparation, business travel, directing a race, and running Ragnar.

I'd really like to do a Ragnar report, but I don't know that I'll have time.  Let me just say that it was extremely hot (100F and 90F during my first and last runs) and I didn't go all out during my legs like I did last year.  I never got a side stitch while running, but I got several while laughing in the van with my friends.  If you ever get an opportunity to run a relay like that, take advantage of it.  It's an amazing experience.  It'll be one of the most fun events of your life.

I've still been trudging along with my marathon training.  I'm trying to hang in there and get the miles done.  My confidence is severely bruised and I don't feel very fast at all.  I haven't raced since Cotton Row, and I stunk so bad that day that if you sniff in downtown Huntsville, you can still get a whiff of my stench.  That was just an awful race (actually an awful 2 races). I really don't know how to get my mojo back, except to keep waking up at or before 5:00 AM to slog through the miles and gut out the tempo runs and MP runs.

I signed up for Dizzy Fifties, but didn't get in.  Maybe a few more will drop out and I can get in.  Since I'm so stinking slow right now, I thought I'd give a try at 50 miles.

I signed up for Mountain Mist also.  I did get in that one.  I'll have to bust it on the trails to be ready for that one.  I ran 23 miles on the trails on Saturday, part of it was on the Mist course.  Humbling.  I'm still sore from that run.  And I still have visions of the rattlesnake I saw while running alone.  That was a little spooky.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Duck and Run 5k

I haven't posted in a while.  That's mostly because my life has been consumed by two things over the past week. Work and the Duck and Run 5k.

This weekend was my first attempt to direct a race.  WOW!  It's a lot of work.  My wife made this happen.  She deserves all the credit for the success of this event.  And I must say that this event was a resounding success.  We made very good proceeds for KALB and everyone at the race had so many positive things to say and seemed to have great fun.

I was more nervous for this event than I was for my first marathon.  I had nightmares the week before the race.  I kept dreaming that I'd never get the race started on time because I'd be running around getting nothing done.  I dreamed that half of my volunteers backed out Friday night.  I dreamed that the police didn't show up.  I dreamed that I totally botched the scoring.  I dreamed that someone got ran over by a car that ignored traffic control.  I dreamed that we ran out of food.  I dreamed that we ran out of water.  I dreamed that we had 500 people sign up on race day.  I dreamed that the leaders missed a turn and got lost in the last mile, causing about half the field to go the wrong way. I guess the only thing I didn't dream was the classic showing up naked dream.

I'm glad to say that none of those nightmares came to be.  It was a great event (if I do say so myself) and I'm SO glad that I did it.  Now, I need a week to recover from this.  And here is my sage advice for anyone considering becoming a race director.  Don't!

We had 263 finishers, and the largest age group was 11-14. There were 85 runners between 11 and 19.  Almost all of those were from Limestone County. I can't describe how happy that makes me. I believe the sport of running is very healthy in Limestone County.  I'm going to do my part to keep it that way.

The community of Athens came out big time to support the runners. There was much cheering and fun to be had by all.  I even had a couple of local celebrities at the event, Bill Holtzclaw and Mayor Dan Williams!

As a result of work (ugh, but it pays the bills and supports my running addiction) and the Duck and Run 5k, I had to put a hold on my marathon training.  I had a 35 mile week with no long run.  I will not be running near 3:00 this year. But Athens had a good September 5k.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Early Long Run

Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh!

Well, that didn't translate to the written word very well. Just imagine Robert Plant as he's belting out the screams in "Immigrant Song".  That's how I felt after today's run.  Good screams.  I wanted to shriek with joy at the end of 18 miles with 10 miles at marathon pace today.  Finally, a good run.  A run that required me to maintain a challenging pace for a long time.  A run that I was able to finish and want some more.

What is marathon pace?  That's a good question.  Today, with my bruised confidence, I just wanted it to be below 7:30.  But after two miles at that pace, we realized that it needed to be faster.  So, we dropped to 7:20 and 7:10 and then 7:05.  Next time, I'll try 7:05 as a start.

Today is the kind of run that reminds me of why I like marathon training.  I had a challenging schedule this weekend with NO time to run on Saturday.  So, I adjusted my running schedule all week so that I could be recovered and ready to hit the long run early Friday.  Getting 18 miles in before work means wake up and smell the asphalt no later than 4:45 AM.  Ouch.  Getting it done when it ain't easy is what marathon training is about.  Marathon training teaches you to overcome the overwhelming desire to give up.  I could have given up on this week, but I found a way and I'm glad I did.

I asked Matt if he wanted to join, and he did.  He's as crazy as I am. It's beyond awesome to have a training partner who'll join you with a crazy schedule like that.  And Matt really pushed the pace this morning.  I couldn't have done today's workout without him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cooler Weather... Don't Go Away!

This morning Matt and I met for a 10 mile run with 4 miles at tempo pace.  Man, it felt so good outside this morning.  It was warm enough for shorts and warm enough to sweat, but it wasn't so warm that it slows you down.  My weather records say 64, but it felt even cooler than that.  Nice.  I don't think the rest of the week will be so pleasant.

We decided that our tempo pace should be a little quicker with the cooler temps and (supposed) improved fitness.  We were aiming for 6:40 pace for  the tempo miles.  We hit 6:36 overall pace with 6:42, 6:31, 6:30, and 6:40.  It wasn't miserable, which is good because a tempo run shouldn't be miserable.  It was uncomfortable at the end, which is good because a tempo run shouldn't be easy.

Maybe progress is happening.  I have a lot of work to do and I have to improve in my willingness to hurt, especially during training.  But just maybe I can run a 3:05 in December.  3:00 still seems out of reach.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chugging Along

Even though I didn't travel this week, I didn't have a great week of training.  I got in most of my miles.  I got in all of my quality miles.  I only missed recovery miles and I traded one recovery run for a spinning class, which is effectively the same thing (elevate the heart rate without stressing the running muscles). However, it was a struggle to get it done this week.  I'm tired and stressed.  I knew the month of September would be a huge challenge.  My calendar is overrun.  I'm overbooked.  I have too many irons in the fire.  And then some additional stress has been added.  Ugh.

Anyway, I did the miles: 12 on Monday and 14 on Wednesday.  Then, I did a lazy (can a 20 miler be lazy?) 20 miler at an 8:00 average pace on Saturday.  The weather was beautiful and I just enjoyed being out in it.  I didn't really think about how fast (slow) I was running.  I just ran.  I honestly didn't look at my pace until mile 16, and decided to finish as fast as my tired legs would allow (about 7:40-7:45 for the last 4 miles).  It was mind clearing, but probably not the best way to run for marathon preparation.  It did reduce my stress considerably, though.

I should have gone to Monte Sano and run the 10k and 5k, but again, I'm afraid of the reality that is my slow 10k and 5k pace.  Some time soon, I'm going to have to run fast.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Weekend

Yet again, I chickened out of a 5k.  The thought of 5k pace right now, even if it is only for a 400m lap around the track, makes me want to puke.  I'll get over that soon, I hope.  I missed the Running of the Bulls 5k Saturday.  Part of the reason was that I had traveled on back to back weeks and I was just tired and out of sorts.

I did what the plan called for on Saturday, 16 miles.  I didn't get after that 16 very hard.  I ran into a friend on the streets of Athens and ran his pace for about 5 miles.  After that, I did pick up the pace a bit, but it was getting hot.

The Sunday 10 miler just keeps going.  Running seems to be strong in the Athens area.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do Over

I'm glad that I got a do-over this week.  Last week was so miserably bad.  No sleep, working late, terrible food, and 2 key missed workouts.  This week was much better.  I somehow made time to fit my runs in.  I had to cut one run a couple miles short because of time constraints, but I got all the quality work in on that one anyway.

Yesterday I did a 14 mile run along the Olentangy River.  There is a really nice greenway that goes along the Olentangy and Scioto rivers for miles and miles.  I did an out an back and negative split by 4 minutes.  I finished strong with miles in the 7:20s and felt great.  I especially thought the run was a good one since it followed a tempo run the day before.  The lower temperatures and humidity make a huge difference.  Still, though, 3:00:00 ain't in my 2010 Crystal Ball.

I've done all my running in the evenings this week because I've been traveling and working early mornings to coincide with the work day in India (great).  I MUCH prefer morning runs.  An evening 14 miler when you don't finish work until 6:30 will really mess up your eating schedule!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weekly Report

I'll do anything to put off doing this weekly report that I have to do for work, including posting on this blog.  Ugh.  What did I do this week?  I worked.  Something tells me that won't be good enough. Anyway...

Today, I did a 5 mile tempo run.  The schedule called for 10 miles total with 5 at tempo pace.  Because of time constraints, I had to shorten that to 8 total.  I still managed 5 at (almost) tempo pace, 6:48 per mile.  It wasn't terrible.  It wasn't a suffer fest like a race, but I wanted to stop at 3 miles, at 4 miles, and at 4.5 miles.  But I didn't stop.  It was just a matter of being tough and finishing the run even though it was uncomfortable.  Today's run was 95% mental.  It was a little warm and muggy for the run, too, at 80F and 55% RH.  That's not North Alabama heat and humidity, but it's not exactly comfortable, either.

I'm considering 6:45 my tempo pace right now.  I am not anywhere near 3:00:00 marathon shape.  I won't be there by December, either.  Oh well.  I'll just try to run 26.2 miles as fast as I can and see what that number is.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cross Country Running Park

Believe it or not, before today, I had never run the course at the Cross Country Running Park in Huntsville.  Yeah, I know that's hard to believe.  I've never done the Sprint Tri.  I've never done the Recover from the Holidays 50k.  And, I have never done one of the summer cross country runs.  I really wanted to this summer, but with my injury, it just never worked out.

I suppose now I have officially been inducted into the Huntsville Track Club.

I volunteered to record splits for the run portion of the 30th annual HiWAAY Sprint Triathlon today.  It was a great event today, and I admire George DeWitt and all he did to pull this off.

After the last runner was in and we had cleaned up the tents, tables, etc. I took off running with Brett Wilks and Joe Francica on the cross country course.  Man, that's not an easy run.  I planned to do 16 miles, but it was just too hot and I really didn't have that much time.  So I only did 10.

Besides, I realized that I got confused looking at my calendar and I'm a week ahead in my marathon training.  So, THIS WEEK DIDN'T COUNT!!! :)  I'm repeating this week's schedule next week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Everything Counts

I need to re-remind myself of that.  I had an awful week in terms of diet and training.

Business travel is not as glamorous as some people think. There is no glamor in being prodded onto a metal tube like cattle.  There is no glamor in conducting business on a cell phone surrounded by strangers who may be listening to your conversation and noisy loudspeakers blaring gate change and TSA announcements. There is no glamor in cancelled flights and running from gate to gate trying to get the next flight to your destination.  There is no glamor in waiting in line and waiting on hold at the same time just to see which queue is shorter to re-book a flight.  There is no glamor in flying during dinner hours and landing after all the restaurants have closed and your options are a 24-hour drive-thru grease bomb or a vending machine.

In spite of all of that, I don't really mind business travel except for one thing.  You see, while I'm actually in the air or on the customer site, nobody is doing my job.  If someone would take care of my daily duties while I travel (and if my family could accompany me on every trip), I'd love it.  So that's what I do in the evenings in the hotel -- catch up for the day.  And that totally messes up my sleep patterns and my diet.

I had a horrible week of nasty fast foods and I took two zero mile days because I simply was too tired to run.

I wish this week didn't count.

But the up side is that I did get in an 11 miler with 4.5 miles at tempo pace on a surprisingly hilly route right along the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River.  The run felt great, was very scenic, and I was able to hold about a 6:45 pace for the 4.5 miles.  It turns out that 75F and 47% humidity feels a LOT different from 77F and 95% humidity.  I wish I could have found a way to run in the morning when the temp was 58F.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Second long run

I planned to run the Brooke Hill Run for Awareness 5k this morning.  I ate a healthy, light dinner.  I got in bed early.  I set out my Fleet Feet Racing uniform.  I packed a change of clothes.  I packed some post race nutrition.  I set my alarm so that I would have time to register and do a full 3-4 mile warm up.  I even visualized finishing strong in blistering heat.  I had done all of the pre-race preparation (Well, except for the work on the track at 5k pace.  Details.)

When the alarm went off this morning, I just did NOT want to race.  I wanted to run, but I didn't want to race.  I feel bad because I had told the race director, a friend and Fleet Feet team mate, that I would be there.  Then I just wimped out.  I don't really want to know how badly I'm out of shape, I guess.  Racing a 5k would expose just how slow I am right now.  I was really afraid that I wouldn't be able to break 22 minutes and that I might lose my breakfast trying to do that.  I totally chickened out today. Call me a girl. Call me a coward.  I'm not proud of that.

Instead, I slept an extra hour and then hit the road from my house and ran a 16 miler.  The schedule called for 17 with 8 at MP.  HAH!  There was just no way possible to pull that off in today's heat.  I ran 16, and barely held on to an 8:20 pace at the end.  I was drenched in sweat, miserable, tired, hot, and discouraged after today's run.  I know that sounds negative, so I'll follow that up with this.  I'm glad I ran and I enjoyed seeing all the people I saw.  I mixed up the route a bit and saw some old sights from a new perspective.  (I've lived around Athens for 36 of my 38 years.  There are no new sights for me!)  It was a good run, but my body was ready to stop long before the run was over.

I guess my expectations are not realistic right now.  I decided to compare my runs this year with my runs at the same time last year.  I was quite amazed to find that my times, distances, and paces are nearly identical! I'm marginally faster this year, by less than 10 seconds per mile. The big difference?  It's been consistently 10 to 15 degrees warmer for most of those runs this year!  (Yes, I am a nerd that logs the temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed during my runs. So, that's not a subjective "it's hotter this year".  It has really been hotter this year.) So, I just need to stop complaining and thinking negatively and take what the weather gives me.  It's time to not be discouraged any more.  It's past time to start believing that I can accomplish my goals.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Keeping on...

This has been a tough summer.  The heat and humidity started early, and with only a couple of days here and there, it has stayed consistently hot and humid.  Hopefully training through this will pay off.  In a way, I hate that I missed the early part of the summer.  I think gutting out a few more weeks of this brutal heat and humidity would have made me stronger.  That said, I'm ready for fall.  I'm ready to see if it's just the heat or if I have really lost that much conditioning.

Tuesday's run was about a 2.75 mile warm up, a 21 minute tempo run (6:44 overall pace, very consistent mile splits, 43, 44, 46), and a 2.7 mile cool down.  That 6:44 pace was much more difficult than it should have been. I could have run that pace for a little longer, but the heat was bearing down!  It was 77F with RH near 95%. I left pools in the kitchen floor (of course I cleaned up) as I was making my chocolate milk. I don't remember ever being that disgustingly sweaty and gross.

Today, I did spinning to give my legs a break from the pounding and to be ready for a big mid-week run tomorrow.  I followed spinning with a very lackadaisical effort with weights in the gym.  Is a lackadaisical effort better than no effort?  I hope so.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I met Shane in Decatur to attempt a long run.  I had no confidence.  I know that Shane is in much better shape than I am, and even when I'm in great shape, he's much faster than I am. The plan was for 18, but we did 16.  Wow, I was surprised.

I had several things going for me on this run.  I took a couple of easy days before today's run.  We had a small break in the weather (though it was HOT at the end, like 85F or so).  The pace of the run was modest (probably painfully slow for my speedster partner), and I fueled early and often.  But still, I made it 16 miles with no pain and I felt GREAT after the run.

I think I'm ready to continue with this marathon training thing.  Whether or not 3:00 is realistic still remains to be seen, but I feel ready to train.  I'm kinda excited about this.  I hated taking the time off.  I like running and I like higher mileage.  I broke the 50 mile mark this week with two days off.  I don't feel the least bit beat up for it, either.  (I know that will change.  Marathon training catches up with you and you inevitably go through a phase of feeling completely drained.)

Let's start week 2.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hot Hot Hot.

I was going to try to do 12 miles today.  I know I said that I was going to continue base building before marathon training and maybe do a 12 or 16 week plan instead of an 18 plan. Well, I looked at my training and realized that I have basically done the first of an 18 week program already.  If I did 12 today, I'd be right on schedule.

So I tried to do 12 today.  I got 11 done and probably could have done 12, but I ran out of time.  I looked at my watch at 9 miles and realized that I had to go straight home.  It turned out that home was about 1.6 miles away and if I was going to do 10.6, I may as well do 11, so I ran around my block to click off 11.

I'll say that it was as miserable as I ever remember a training run to be.  I struggled mightily to average an 8:17 pace.  I was drenched, hot, and tired.  But my leg felt great!

So, I may start marathon training this week after all.  I kinda already have.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Wow, I've gotten slow.  I attempted a tempo run this morning.  So, I knew that I wouldn't be cranking out 6:30 tempo runs like I was doing in prep for the Country Music Marathon.  That just wasn't a realistic expectation because I took what amounted to about 5 weeks off and because it is STINKING HOT!  So I opted for a more modest 7:00 pace.

I was struggling after 2 miles at that pace.  Really.  Struggling.  But I made it 3 miles at about a 6:55 overall pace. But I couldn't have maintained that for much longer.  I have work to do.  I'm pretty sure that I need to give up on 3:00 this year. It just doesn't seem realistic at this point.

I was glad to have Matt there to endure the misery with me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Marathon Training

An 18 week schedule for Rocket City would begin today.  I still feel like I need to do some more base building before I venture into a steady diet of tempo runs, mid-week 15 milers, and marathon pace long runs.   So for now, I'm still doing mostly easy runs and building my mileage back up. I'll re-assess my fitness and general feeling in a couple more weeks and may go with a 16 week schedule.

Another option is a 12 week schedule.  That's what I did for Nashville, and it worked out very well.  However, I rolled into that 12 week schedule with a very big, solid base.  I'm not sure that 12 weeks will get me to a PR in December.

The 10 miler was hot and humid, but fun today.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Think I'm Back

My calf is well. My fitness is not.  My weekly mileage has been about 35-38 miles for 3 weeks now, and it's time to increase that.  On most of my days off from running, I have either done a spinning class, intense resistance training, or both.  Even so, my fitness is a shell of what it was in March/April.  I run slow and short.  I want to run fast and long.

So I have work to do.

I'm going to bump up to 45 or so miles for the next couple of weeks, and then hopefully start an 18 week marathon training program that peaks at 70 miles per week.  Will that get me to 2:59:59 or less?  I don't know.  And I will re-assess that goal after running a 5k fitness test in the next couple of weeks.  But I will focus on my training and will make choices in other areas of my life that will help me get there.

This spring, my oft repeated trite little motivational quote (is the word I'm looking for "mantra"?) was "Suck it up, buttercup."  This fall, I'm switching over to "Everything counts."  Hopefully this will help me to keep my diet, sleep, rest, recovery, and hydration in check.  Everything counts.  Everything I do will either help me progress toward my goal or it will set me back.  Everything counts.

Let's do this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still coming back

I had a great weekend of running compared to the past 6 weeks with 8 miles on Saturday followed by 10 miles on Sunday. The Sunday 10 miler was nice with a strong finish. I was struggling and my calf was tight for the last two miles, but it never hurt. I decided to take Monday off completely which felt really good. My calf was feeling great this morning.

I decided to use the spinning class to sub for a tempo run today. I don't know if I'm quite ready for good hard running just yet. So, I ran over to the gym (about two miles on the route I took, but it can be as short as 1.25 miles) in time for the 5:15 AM spinning class. We did 30 minutes of standing and increasing the resistance followed by 5 minutes of sitting at a hard pace + warm up and cool down. For that 35 minutes, my HR was in the tempo zone. Still, it's not the same as a tempo run, but it will have to do for now. I followed that up with a push workout and a 1.75 mile run home.

I'm still deciding on the 5k fitness test to run in a couple of weeks. That race may actually be the ABS CC versus alumni race. (Though if that happens this year, it looks like I'll have to be the one to pull it together.) From there, I'll assess my goals for the remainder of the year and begin training for Rocket City. Sub three hours may be gone as a goal for this year, but that's okay with me. If sub three is clearly out of reach, I'll probably totally reassess everything and try to determine what is reasonable and then schedule my races around that.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Coming Back Slowly

Oh how I want to run 20 miles right now. And I probably could, but I would definitely regret it.

I did an 8 miler this morning around Athens. It was a great run, and one in which each mile was faster than the previous one. My calf was fine, but it was starting to tighten up during the last half mile or so. I'm still working much harder than I should be to run an 8:00 mile. I really enjoyed the run and can't wait until I'm back up to 70 miles per week.

Knowing that 8 miles just isn't enough exercise for a day, I went for a swim immediately after the run. That also went well. I was able to go 200 yards without stopping. That's a huge improvement over what I've been able to do. It wasn't fast, but it was steady and there was no interruption in the 3 or 5 strokes between breaths rhythm I was in. I'm going to try to keep a couple of weekly swims in my routine. I really enjoy it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday Run

I'm going to have to be careful in my comeback because I REALLY want to run about 20 miles right now.

I ran Wednesday morning, and it felt GREAT. There was absolutely no pain or discomfort in the calf. It was sore later in the day, though. My cardiovascular system is NOT conditioned for running just yet. I was working much harder than I should have been to run 7 miles at an 8:23 average pace, but I'll take it.

I didn't run today (though I planned a short 3 miler), but I did do a killer interval spinning workout followed by a "pull" weight session in the gym. I don't enjoy weights, but I do like the results.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Monday's 5 miler didn't exactly go as planned. I ran the first mile very slow, like 10:00. I didn't even notice! The next mile, I was bold and dropped down to about 9:35. Ouch. I actually had to stop and walk, but I never limped. During the 3rd mile, I ran nearer a 9:00 pace, and my leg was very tight. It loosened considerably on the 4th and 5th mile and actually felt fine. The 4th mile was 8:40 or so and the 5th was 8:00. Everything felt great while I was running those last two miles. After the run, though, it was sore all day. I hit the gym really hard yesterday and today. My calf feels much better today and I'll give another try either later today or tomorrow morning.

I'm going to go with the advice I've heard and given others. If it doesn't affect your gait, you can run through it. So far, it isn't affecting my gait.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Last Day Off!

Today is the last day of rest before I try to start running again! Woohoo! I'm very excited to get out in the morning! I hope it all goes well.

My plan is to start with easy miles and keep up the spinning and swimming so that I can get some good high heart rate work done without the impact. I plan to start at about 30-35 miles per week. If that goes well for a couple of weeks, I'll replace one of the spinning sessions with a tempo run. I plan to do a 5k as a fitness test some time during the first week of August (maybe Sunset 5k in Sheffield or Dog Trot in Huntsville). That will give me an idea of how to pace my workouts as I train for the Rocket City Marathon this fall.

While I've been out, I've really tried to avoid losing ground by doing weights, core, spinning/stationary bike, and swimming. I spent over an hour in the pool yesterday! It's a 25 yard lap pool, and I did 25, 50, and 75 yard intervals. I just can't quite last for 100 yards yet. I was pushing really hard, was gasping for air, and nearly puked. But still, it's not the same as busting out a set of hard intervals at the track.

I will say that swimming is humbling! I'd like to keep practicing, though. Who knows, one day I may try a tri.

Friday, July 9, 2010

After This Message...

I've been meaning to do this for a while, and I just haven't done it. I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about Fleet Feet Sports in Huntsville.

When I first started running, runners in the area told me to go to Fleet Feet Sports in Huntsville. That is the single best piece of running advice anyone has ever given me! The staff there was very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. They truly take care of their customers. Every time I have been to the store, it has been a great experience.

I was honored when I was selected for the Fleet Feet racing team, sponsored by Nike, for the 2010 season. I didn't write about it here sooner because I wasn't sure it was for real. I was waiting for them to realize how slow I am and that there had been a mistake in the selection process. But now, I've got a spot on the website and a uniform that I've worn, so I'm in for this season!

Seriously, nobody has better customer service and higher quality products and employees than Fleet Feet. Nobody does more to support the local running community than Fleet Feet. I can't imagine buying running gear anywhere else.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Maybe the Sky Isn't Falling

I went to the doctor Wednesday for a check up and I mentioned my calf problem while I was there. The calf is tendinitis and rest, ice, and ibuprofen are the treatment. That was my plan anyway.

My BP was 120/75. Compare that to 157/112 four years ago when I weighed in at 238. Yeah, that's a terrible number, and that number alone may have been the catalyst for my current fitness kick. I still remember the serious look of concern in my doctor's eyes when we discussed my blood pressure. I am thankful that diet and exercise have been successful in getting that number to a healthy range.

I've been terribly worried about my weight since my calf started bothering me. However, my weight was exactly the same as last year's doctor visit, and I had a great fall/winter of races last year. I guess it doesn't really matter that I lost 8 or 9 pounds for the April marathon and gained them back. I'm still right where I was last year as far as weight is concerned. I can have a great fall and winter again and I can drop those pounds again.

I'm still trying to maintain cardio fitness and take advantage of the time off to strengthen my core and tone my upper body. So far, it seems to be working. Who knows, maybe I'll return better than ever once I regain the running specific conditioning on my bones and muscles.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where Am I?

I'm still around. I'm trying as hard as I know how to avoid losing too much fitness during the time off.

I tried running Sunday morning. Nobody but me showed up for the weekly 10 miler, and that was probably a good thing for me. I started very slowly, and I could feel my calf. There was no pain, but I knew that if I went farther or faster that it would start hurting, so I just quit. If someone else had showed up, I probably would have run with him and done more damage. I'm taking a full two weeks from Sunday and then I'll test it again. If all goes well, I'll start base building so I can hit August 8 (the first day of my 18 week marathon training schedule) ready to endure the grind.

In the mean time, I'm doing weights, spinning, recumbent bike, core work, etc. I'm really hitting those exercises hard. I'm watching my diet very closely. Yet the pounds relentlessly appear. I've gained 6 pounds since the first sign of the injury. Maybe they're not all bad pounds because I do think I look a little better in the mirror! :) (But that's not nearly as objective a measure as the scale itself.)

One thing I've learned in my 38 years is that I am not a person who can just go on auto-pilot when it comes to body weight. I have to watch it very closely all the time. I'll never have it licked. I'll have to be disciplined with it for the rest of my life or I'll weigh 250-300 pounds or more. I envy people who can eat cookies and ice cream and cake and fast food and not gain weight. I am not one of you. Even at 70-80 miles per week during training for Country Music Marathon, I gained weight because I got lazy and unfocused with my diet. Ugh. And to me, saying "no" to ice cream is more difficult than grinding out that 5th 1200m interval at sub 5k pace.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still not back

I took another 5 days off because of the calf. On Sunday, I thought it was 100%. I took off from the 10 miler to be sure. Not wanting to just be lazy on Sunday, I went to the gym. I was on the recumbent bike at the gym and about 50 minutes into the ride, that same calf just completely locked up. We're talking a serious Charlie Horse. I had to get up and walk it off, and it hasn't been the same since.

I ran Monday anyway (probably not wise), and after about 6.5 miles, it was very sore. It was sore for the rest of the day and is still tender today.

I had to be at work at 7:15 this morning, so I woke up at 5:00 hoping to get an easy run in. My leg was still sore, so I thought better of it. So I went to the 5:15 AM spinning class at the gym. That was a pretty good cardio workout. It did nothing for my endurance, though. I say that because I was sweating like mad during the class and was struggling at the end of each interval. However, 5 minutes after the class, it felt like I had done nothing. I liked the class, and I'll probably be back at least until my leg heals.

I feel like I'm going to have to spend the next 6 weeks strictly getting over this calf thing and building base for the training that starts in August.

Friday, June 18, 2010


So I thought I was better. Sunday's run was great. I ran a little hard and my calf felt fatigued at the end, but there was absolutely no pain. Monday's run was also great. Tuesday, not so much. I mixed in some strides on Tuesday's run, and the calf started hurting. And it hurt all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was better, but I could still feel it. Today it doesn't hurt, but I'm afraid to run.

Ugh. And I said every day that I would go to the gym and I didn't go at all. What is wrong with me? I won't get to 3 hours in December like this. The injury I can live with. It's part of running and I know that. It's nothing that rest, ice, and Aleve won't cure. However, the lack of motivation to do something else while I'm injured is something I have to overcome.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Athens 10 Miler

We had another good group to join our weekly 5:45 AM Sunday 10 miler today. There were 6 of us and it was HOT and HUMID!

After about a mile, the group formed into two packs with Carl and I up front. I didn't realize it until I looked at the splits this afternoon, but we did a pretty good stair step today. Each mile was faster than the one before it. I was working much harder than I should have been for a 7:28 finishing mile. I'll blame the heat.

The calf is fine. I felt fatigue in the calf, but no pain for the last mile. I'm going to continue to baby it and avoid 5k pace or faster and avoid hard hills until it is completely normal.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm really glad that this run is a fixture on my calendar? Come join us some Sunday morning. You'll be hooked.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Plan

I have an answer for the "what next" question.

I am going to run a sub 3 hour marathon this year. I will do this on December 11 at the Rocket City Marathon.

August 8th marks the beginning of an 18 week training schedule for the Rocket City Marathon. I plan to hit that date healthy, in shape, lean, and ready to work hard. If I meet any of the other goals I have set for this year, it will be collateral to my preparation for Rocket City. Laser focus.

Goodbye cheeseburgers, ribs, ice cream, cookies, and chocolate. Goodbye sub-50 mile weeks. Goodbye extra pounds. Hello 2:XX:XX.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On the Couch

After the Cotton Row 10k, I noticed some pain in my right calf. It was completely new. Hmmmm. I didn't want to run the 5k, but I did anyway, and it didn't hurt any worse, but I noticed it during the entire 5k. By Monday morning, the pain was completely gone. I was probably just tired, I thought.

Yesterday, I went on a long-ish trail run. There was a time when 20+ miles was a long run. Now, anything over 12 is long for me. Ugh. Anyway, about 8 miles into the run, I noticed that same pain again. Hmmm. I didn't stop because it was bearable. It was nothing major. But it kept getting worse with every step, especially every uphill step. By 11 miles, I had to stop. I walked for a bit, then tried to run again. Ouch. Walked more and then ran again, but couldn't run without a limp.

The problem was that I was a long way from my car. I didn't know how far, but I knew it was FAR. Walking would take way too long. I had to run when I could. Uphill running was completely unbearable. So, I ran (okay, limp-jogged) the downs and flats and walked (okay, limped) the ups. It ended up being just over 3.5 miles back to the car.

I could barely walk the rest of the day. With that, I'm on the couch with ice and advil for a few days. It completely feels like a muscle pain and not ligament, tendon, or bone. But I'm taking at least 5 days off to let that heal up. Maybe during that 5 days I can get some cross training and stretching mixed back in.

I'm guessing that the fairly sudden increase in hills recently has caused this. I'll get back to hills soon, but gradually, like every other week instead of twice per week. One of my less measurable goals this year is to convert uphills from weakness to strength.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Really, what next?

What will I do next? I still don't have an answer to that one!

I looked at my goals for 2010, and I'm way off. Way off. Let's see....
  1. A 5k in 18:30. I haven't done it yet and my best chance was Chick Fil A in Athens. However, that doesn't seem unattainable for this year and I'll have plenty of chances to try.
  2. A sub 38:00 10k. Um. Perhaps I should re-think that. Ouch. The only chance I can think of to get this one is the Dam-Bridge run in Florence in November. At least I have time to prepare. I had better get started.
  3. A sub 1 hour 15k. I think I can do that at Monte Sano in October.
  4. An 84 minute half. This means 1:24:59. Maybe.
  5. 26.2 miles in 2:59:59 or faster. I'm not sure I'll run another marathon this year. I'll have to decide. If I give a go at this goal, it will be Rocket City.
Maybe I should punt and make all of these 2011 goals. Or maybe I should just pick one of the hard ones and make it my focus and see what happens with the others.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cotton Row 2010

Cotton Row, Cotton Row. How I love and hate you all at the same time!

Cotton Row is the premier footrace event in this area. I love the festivities. I love seeing people who may run one race per year pushing themselves. I love renewing old acquaintances. I saw people today that I haven't seen in well over 5 years. Really, this is a first class event.

Dink and Suzanne Taylor know how to put on an event. Thanks to Fleet Feet in Huntsville and Mercedes Benz of Huntsville for sponsoring this race. Every year it seems better than the year before.

Huge shout to some folks who ran great today... I'm proud of my bud Daniel Ogles for his hard work preparing for this and then gutting it out. A co-worker Olivia Cole signed up and did both the 10k and the 5k. I thought only crazy people did that. And my good friend and Fleet Feet Racing team mate Eric Fritz busted the 20 minute mark today! Nice job!

It is all about me isn't it? I ran a 40:36 (why o why can I NOT break 40 in the 10k?) which was 66th overall. I ran a lousy 5k in 20:18 (how's that for even pacing) but that got 2nd in my age group.

The 10k
I was going to run with my friend Shane O'Neill, and I did for a mile and a half or so. He was going to pace me to a sub 40. If I had stayed with him, I would have broken 40. I let him go pretty early.

I was totally unprepared for this race. I am simply not in 10k shape. And this course is tough. Really tough. I should have been a little tougher. I just didn't get after it like I should have today. It's one thing to be unprepared, but it's another to lay down a bit during a race. I have a good reason to be unprepared (Country Music Marathon), but not giving my best to the course today is inexcusable.

Having said that, 40:36 is a 21 second PR. That's nice, but I should be breaking 39.

I ran a smart race, but not a tough one. I didn't start too fast. I ran the hill hard, but didn't redline. I was right on pace at the top, and I intended to bring in the last 2 miles near to 6:00.
  1. 6:13
  2. 6:27
  3. 6:45
  4. 7:00
  5. 6:14
  6. 6:29 (I just didn't like hurting. Wimp.)
  7. 1:27 (0.24 miles)
The 5k
I had no motivation for the 5k. I didn't want to put in the effort that would be required to break 20. I knew that I had no PR in me. Why was I doing this? I still don't know. Next year, I think I'll just volunteer at Cotton Row.

I started on sub 20 pace and thought I might hold it. I hit the 1 mile mark at 6:22 and felt un-miserable. So, I held on for about another quarter mile and simply gave up. It was hurting and I wanted to quit. I ran mile 2 in a terrible 6:50. Huh? Really. I was a quitter today. I seriously thought about coasting the rest of the way at about a 9:00 pace. That would have been pleasant.

But then Brett Wilks caught me at about 2.5 miles. I probably was coasting near 7:30 when he caught me. Miserable. I even told Brett to go ahead, I was done. I expected him to surge and go, but he didn't. He stayed with me. So, I had to speed up. The faster I ran, the faster he ran. He wasn't going to put me away, but he wasn't going to let me quit either. When we hit the 3 mile mark, I decided that now is the time. Will I toy around or just go all out? I decided to just go. I really didn't know I could run that fast. I ran the last 0.11 miles in 29 seconds. Yeah, that's a sub 4:50 pace. And I felt like I could have done that a little longer, which was weird given how miserable the rest of the race had been.

I've just got to get tougher. I need to work harder, lose weight, and repeat hills. Cotton Row last year gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get serious about my training. This year, it will do the same.

All in all, a PR on a tough course and a day in which I was woefully unprepared isn't bad, but it wasn't my best and I know that. And the 5k, at least I learned that I can run fast if I have to. Positives and negatives from both races.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cotton Row Nerves

Um. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided to sign up for Cotton Row this year. A 10k a month before a marathon is genius. A 10k a month after a marathon is not wise at all. I simply haven't had time to recover from Nashville and then focus on the systems necessary to run my best 10k.

So, this will be one of the first races that I've gone into without really being prepared. I've done a couple of weeks of crash course type training with hills in Denver and track work and tempo runs. But all of that has felt extremely uncomfortable and sub-40 on a flat course would be tough. Sub-40 tomorrow on that beast may not be possible. Oh well. Maybe I can PR.

And then there's the 5k afterwards. What was I thinking? At least the 5k course is more reasonable. I'm pretty nervous. Maybe I'll get lucky and have a good day and PR both distances. More likely, my lack of preparation will show and I'll finish way back of where I should be.

Live and learn.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Tempo

The title of this post is just a play on words for those who read music. I'm getting back to my pre-marathon tempo pace. (Get it? a tempo. Nevermind.)

Believe it or not, I know a little bit about music. Not much, but a little. I really wish I knew more, but I can't truly enjoy music on the same level that most folks can because I'm nearly tone deaf. I can sight read pretty well because of my days as a tubist in high school. But miss a note by up to a step and a half, and I'll never know it. You'd think that these inept ears equip me perfectly to be an American Idol viewer, but I don't really like that show. Even I can tell that those people can't sing.

Wow, I'm rambling. But I know you missed my wit much more than you missed my workout descriptions and splits. Maybe not.

Anyhow, I did a 20 minute tempo run with Matt this morning. We did a 3.5 mile warm up and a 2.5 mile cool down for 9 miles total for the day. The tempo portion ended up being 3.11 miles in 20 minutes for a 6:27 (6:30 was the goal) overall pace. That was much harder than it should have been and I'm having difficulty imagining how I could hold that pace for 10k, especially with a huge Mountainwood hill right in the middle.

How bad is a DNS? I'm not ready for this race, Cotton Row.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Apologies

I owe all three of my readers an apology. I mean, I can't just stop by this blog and tell you what a great workout I had this morning without some sort of explanation about why I haven't posted in 3 weeks. Don't you at least deserve that? My apologies for leaving you hanging.

Work has been extremely busy since about March 15, and it really has gotten intense since the week of the Country Music Marathon. I've had to decide whether I'll do without sleep, workouts, or blogging. Well, blogging got the ax. Actually, lots of things slipped, not just blogging. Things seem to be more reasonable now, so the hiatus was temporary. I'm back. Besides, all you missed was marathon recovery. You didn't really want to hear about short, slow workouts did you?

Right now, I'm beginning Jack Daniels' Gold Elite plan. It's supposed to get one ready for a variety of race distances, except the marathon. I don't have a marathon on my schedule any time soon, so I'll be doing the occasional 5k, 10k, 5 mile, 8k, or whatever distance is in the area on a given weekend. This plan adds what Daniels calls "repetition" training. I haven't done any of that, so I hope this will freshen up my workouts and stimulate systems in my body that haven't been used yet and help me past this plateau I'm on.

Today was a repetition day. 10 x 400m at "R" pace (faster than 5k, maybe 1 mile or 3k pace) with long rest between bouts. The goal is to recover such that the next one feels like the first one. You may take 3 to 5 minutes between reps. If it takes longer than 5 minutes, you're running too fast.

Matt came over and we ran to the Athens high track. This was perhaps the slowest warmup ever because I dreaded running these reps. I was delaying in every way possible, and Matt called me out on it, too! It turns out that I really liked this workout. The last 3 or 4 were right on the edge of nausea in the last 100m, which is where I like to be for a hard workout. I sure don't want to cross the line and lose the contents of my stomach, though. Anyway, here are the numbers.
  1. 82
  2. 80
  3. 79
  4. 78
  5. 77
  6. 80
  7. 79
  8. 78
  9. 77
  10. 75
I've really felt great all day. Man, that workout felt good. (Well, except for the actual running fast part, that pretty much hurt.)