Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Failed Titles for this Blog Include...

Three weeks of Training Runs
How to train for a Marathon 9 minutes at a time
Why Titling Bloops is the hardest thing to do
You should click me, I'm Awesome
Insert interesting title here!

You get the picture.  Would you have clicked this post if I had used the first title, well maybe.

I'm still here...still running...well training...but I've been busy.  It's been several weeks since I last blogged, I haven't even been commenting as much as I like, lurking - yes, commenting - no.  Oh well, mostly it comes down to being busy at work and home, and trying to fit in umpiring.  I'll just try to catch up a bit since the St. Patrick's Day blog.

Way back at the very middle of March I took a break apparently.  Surrounding (and including) the Shamrock run in Portland, I ran 5 total times.  And leading up to the start of my training plan I decided I needed extra rest.  I remember calling my running buddy and canning my Sunday long run.  I don't think either of us was disappointed by this turn of events, especially since I tend to be the one guy that never backs out of a run.  Besides the next day was the start of training for the SF marathon.  HA!  Monday is a rest day.  So I ended with 4 consecutive rest days (though I did umpire baseball on Saturday if that even gets close to counting).  Tuesday March 27 was the first official run of our 18 week training plan, an easy 3.

Easy is all in the eye of the beholder I guess.  My running buddy and I were both transitioning back to the early AM run.  I groggily crawled out of bed (a theme of the morning runs) at 4:30, to allow time for bodily adjustments, then met him at 5:15 for our easy three.  And it was, a jaunty 3.2 in 28 minutes, definitely not going to be setting any records with that pace, but considering the time of day, and the overall sluggishness of the body, it was acceptable.  The plan for the rest of the week was to try to maintain this level of running and hope that once the sleep cycle caught up with the running we would get faster.  So we ran out the rest of the week (3-5-3-5-10) with almost all those runs at the insane hour of too early in the morning.

The nice thing about the plan (Hal Higdon Intermediate 2) is the flexibility to run each run how you want, at least the way I read it, so most of the runs are 'easy'.  Though, not to lose sight of it, I still like to grab some speedwork where possible.  So last week, after the first two meandering runs (3 and 5) I decided to push the tempo a bit for Thursday's three.  Which, I did, sporadically.  Run hard, slow and recalibrate the brain that I actually wanted to push hard, run hard, slow to recalibrate, repeat for 3.1 miles.  In the end I decided that the mostly hardish run was about what a Fartlek would be and just called it that, especially as the overall pace was 8m/m, a 30-45 second improvement over the rest of the easy runs.  Again the weekend featured two early AM runs of 5 (almost, since I forgot the route) and 11 miles.

That brings us to the present(ish).  After our easy three yesterday, we agreed that today would be the hard day for this week and we would do the 'damn hill' as part of the run.  For a couple of guys training for SF we realize the need to get hill work in, but we still don't like doing it.  We settled into an easy pace this morning cruising through the first 4 miles including down the hill.  As we came back upon the hill, the mood and determination change just enough as we both start plodding back up the hill, in an exercise to finish it off.  We still have a long way to go, I think we need to get to point where not only are we tackling the thing multiple times a week, but multiple times a run.  But for this morning it was a good workout, with an easy mile back to the house for a cool down
In the beginning I was wondering how my friend was going to handle the brunt of the training plan, especially the three days in a row, two days on the weekend thing, but it turns out it has been really good for both of us and he has responded well to training (I started working on the three days in a row part almost immediately after basketball season ended).  So far we have had a lot of good runs, and are taking it nice and easy as we creep along through the plan.

I have the pleasure of running two races in May.  The first is a little race up in Spokane you may have heard of it, Bloomsday, there might be a Loop meet up there (at least that's what I am told).  The second a much more widely known race from the town of Sunnyside, WA to the town of Prosser, WA, a breezy 13.1 miles, known as the Sage Rat Run.  Be jealous, I get a blueberry filled donut at the end of that one!  I might try to sneak in a 10k and a 5k in April, but I haven't completely decided on those yet.

I suppose that I will call it for now, before I start rambling on, or continue rambling rather.  Hope that everyone is having great training runs and as always have fun out there!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Portland Shamrock Run Plus My First Loop Meet UP

Where to start?  I guess way back in January (or perhaps February)  when MildSauce mentioned that her roomie bailed for colder climes.  I found myself drawn to Portland to kick off the year with a 15k race, perhaps drawn to the potential Loop Meet Up (defined as meeting strangers that you share blogs with at RunnersWorld), or perhaps the free 15k PR, but certainly for the hills of Portland (Yes! There are hills in Portland).  You should go pop some popcorn, grab a blanket and strap in 'cause this one is a bit long.

Let us begin this journey on Friday.  We clamored into a pair of vehicles around 9 Friday morning to make the 200 mile journey to Portland.  Why two cars you ask, because I like to roll with a group, also because my wife's family made the trip, and its hard to put 5 adults and two car seats into a vehicle comfortably.  So off we rolled with dreams of great food to eat and fun things to do.

Our first real stop on this journey was at the Bonneville fish hatchery, where you guessed it, they raise fish.  Everything from Chinook and Coho salmon as well as several varieties of Steelhead salmon.  There are a bunch of fish rearing stalls (really the best way to put this) with hundreds of thousands of fish in each.  But the main attraction at the hatchery is Herman, especially if you are a 3 year old who has been cooped up in the car for a couple hours.  Herman is a 10+ foot, 500+ pound white sturgeon, who lives in a very special pond on the hatchery grounds with several of his very large sturgeon friends.

The next stop on this beautiful spring afternoon was at Multnomah Falls (it is pronounced exactly as it reads). There are two falls here that total at total of 611 feet of drop between the two. We did the short hike (less than a quarter mile) up to the bridge to take a couple of quick photos and then hit the road again.  I have to say that this really inspired me, as I want to come back on do one of the longer hikes up to the top of the falls (or perhaps to the top of the mountain).

Now, on to the highlight of the day (unless you are into beer and German food), the meet up. We arrived at our hotel at 3:30, got checked in and settled, then headed off to the convention center, conveniently across the street.  I am willing to admit that I was nervous (or at least I was in the hour or so leading up to the meet up).  Honestly, I don't usually get nervous, I have moved around enough in life that I know how to make friends and how to get along with people, and you would think that meeting people you already have something in common with would be an easy thing to do.  But still.

The expo was smaller than I was expecting, especially with 32000 people registered for the race.  The entrance was packet pick up with a smattering of booths in the middle, a stage (where we heard a harpist and a bagpiper) then T-shirts and chip confirmation at the other end.  Immediately after picking up my packet, I set off looking for MildSauce and LadyRunsAlot, my wife asking if I knew where they might be.  And as we turned the corner I saw them.  Walked right over and introduced myself, and off we went, talking as if we were long lost friends.  We talked about what to do in Portland and running, upcoming races, and what to expect during the race on Sunday.  Sadly, after about an hour, I realized that we needed to get on the road and get the kids fed.  So we said our goodbyes with promises to meet up again at the conclusion of the race.

Saturday we spent the day doing all that is cool to do in Portland.  We started off by grabbing breakfast at Pine State Biscuits (as featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives), where, perhaps, more food than should be consumed by one person is indeed eaten by one person.  We followed that with a trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).  There we went for a tour on a Submarine (the USS Blueback), toured the exhibits, which included a lego art exhibit, and played around in the kids area.  Let me recommend this if you have kids and want something to do for a day in Portland.

After OMSI, we headed into the heart of Portland grabbing a quick bite for lunch, and then going over to Powell's Book Store.  This place is amazing, and if you love books, then this is the place for you, I could have spent the whole day here looking at (and of course buying) books.  My brother in-law and I parted ways with the rest of the family in order to meet up with one of his high school friends and his girlfriend.  They took us to a Nickel Arcade, where we spent two hours (sorry I didn't take any pictures here) playing nickel games and generally having a good time.  We then had dinner at a place called Montage, which had good food, and I made the most questionable call of the whole trip by ordering spicy mac and cheese.

Sunday, I was up at 6:30 for the 7:45 race.  I put the bib on my shirt, and laced the timing chip to the shoes.  Managed to get through all my pre-run routine and was out the door by 7.  I had originally intended on using the mile distance to the race start as a warm-up jog, but I noticed all the green shirts getting on the transit train, and decided to just ride over with them (alleviating a concern I had about running over the river in a city I don't know at all).  The train dropped my off a block from the start of the race, I took it all in for a minute or two, then went to find the port-o-potties for that all important last pit-stop.  Then I quickly went over the starting area and found the 8-9 minute start group.  Then we waited.

Getting ready for the start of the race.

We kept waiting for a train to get to the station, so that we wouldn't have to stop at the train tracks, and I was ok with this plan.  Finally, at 8 AM we were off.  I knew roughly the way the course was going to wind through the city, and I knew that somewhere there was a monster hill to be tackled.

Miles 1-2:  I narrowly escaped being stopped by the transit train as I got to the first rail crossing probably about a half mile or so into the race.  I kept trucking along and wondering when exactly that hill was supposed to start.  The splits I have on my phone for these miles show that I was running about a 7:50 split during the first 2 miles, but my GPS and the course miles were not matching up as I was about .2 miles off from the markers on the course (2.2 instead of 2).

Miles 3-6:  I hit the hills starting at mile three and felt really good, though I was starting to wonder if I was going to regret the mac and cheese from the night before.  Apparently I slowed down a ton on mile 4.  Either the hill or the concern that I might have to hit the bathroom must have slowed me down, as I recorded a 10+minute mile (the only one above 7 on my splits). When I checked the phone at mile 4, it read 37minutes for 4.37 miles.  Two thoughts hit me as I looked at that.  1) I needed to speed up, and 2) the phone was good for time only, as the splits weren't going to match up well today.  So I kicked it up a gear in a desperate effort to make up time, by this time the stomach had returned to its normal self.  At mile 5 you have the joy of coming down hill a little, and I remember thinking to myself that I didn't hear or see any bagpipes so we haven't reached the acme of this hill, still it was nice to have a little reprieve.  I push on knowing that we have to be close to getting there.  A couple more ups and downs, mentally I have convinced myself to take a quick walk break when I hear that sound.  The sound of bagpipers calling us to the top.  I make on last push to get to the top of the hill, knowing that this is it.

Miles 7-9.3: I literally feel like I am flying down the last 3.3 miles of this race.  It is all down hill.  RunKeeper shows splits of 7:41 for the last of the hill miles (mile 6) and then 7:23, 7:21, and 7:16 for the final three plus miles of this race (or 3.78 as the case may be).  I cruised in and stopped the time on my phone at 1:18:00, just three minutes off the predicted goal.  My official time was 1:17:23.  That time is right at my fastest half marathon pace from last year and that was a flat course.

I stumbled around the park for a couple of minutes looking for my family (before I realized they hadn't gotten out of the hotel yet), grabbed some water, then went in search of MildSauce and LadyRunsAlot near the Chowder huts (apparently there were 4, I only remember 2).  I had just about given up on finding them when I turned back around and saw them.  We stood in the rain, well a few minutes of it, (did I mention it misted/rained for most of the race?) and chatted about the experience and got some pictures. Looks like I need to work on my after race enthusiasm. LadyRunsAlot's husband was nice enough to snap some pictures after the race.  MildSauce and I then spent some more time trying to convince LadyRunsAlot to join us again in Spokane for Bloomsday.  Finally, it was off to warm up, pack up the kids, and head back home.

Why do I have such a strange look on my face? You would have thought I was staring at the sun!

I got up and ran Monday morning, and I never get up and run the day after a race or a long run for that matter.  I did 3.3 very (go ahead and drag that out a little) slow (this too) miles, in about 32 minutes, all while trying to avoid all the hills in my neighborhood.  Then I went to work, where I take the stairs regarless of how my legs feel, and it was all I could do to walk around the office yesterday, thinking, how did I run this morning.  My quads were burning, but I knew it was from a good strong workout and a great race.  I already have a new goal for next year, get as fast as MildSauce and LadyRunsAlot.  I have more pictures to post and will put those up this weekend when I get some time to transfer them off the camera.

I had a lot of fun in Portland and I am already looking forward to going again next year!  Until next time folks, have fun out there!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

February Stats and March Plan (Shamrock Run)

I wrapped up February with a Leap day run, cause you only get to do that every 4 years.  Anyway, a quick update for March plans and the February stats.

I have been getting mentally and physically ready for marathon training by increasing the number of days a week I have been running, while trying to get the base mileage back on track, and last week was no exception.  After taking a cut back week the week prior, I attacked last week with a vengence.  The schedule (which is identical to week one of the training plan) called for 5 days of running, 3-5-3-5-10, with days off on Monday and Friday.  I managed to get through the 3-5-3 part of the run last week pretty easily, knocking out a killer tempo run Wednesday to close out February.  That run was 5 super speedy miles at a 7:30 pace, with the second half into a pretty good head wind.  A great confidence boosting run.  With that run I closed out February at 76.6 miles and sit for the year at 110.  Both numbers way out in front of last year's numbers.

Back to last week.  Started out March with the easy 3 on Thursday, and had all the intentions in the world of making it a great weekend.  But Saturday morning came and went and I hadn't gotten out the door for the 5 miles.  Then I got busy doing laundry, and dinner, and gardening, and I wanted to sit on my butt and do nothing.  So I did that, skipped the 5 miles.  Oh well.  I knew I was going to go out for at least 10 the next morning and just moved on.

Friday and Saturday I spent trying to get my two running partners to agree to times and places to run Sunday morning.  My friend, M, bailed out Saturday night, citing his need to homework and take care of his 2 month old.  But my friend, G, who is doing the marathon with me, was still in.  Well, 5:30 Sunday morning rolls around, and I start the preparations, and just after 6, G texts and tells me that he isn't feeling good and isn't going to come.  There I sat, all dressed up and no one to run with, so what do I do?  I thought about more sleep for about 3 seconds, then strapped the water bottles to the belt, hit start on the phone and off I went.  I left with no plan other than to run the 10 miles, and do the big hill in my city.  Two hours later I cruised into the house having done 12.1 awesome miles, got cleaned up and took my 3 yo for donuts (he earned for eating fruits and veggies all week).  It was a really good day.  Finished last week with 23.5 miles feeling really good as we get close to kicking off training in three weeks.

Last thing.  Finalized plans for our trip to Portland next week, we get in Friday.  I grabbed a hotel downtown, and am looking forward to doing my first 15k next weekend.  I know there are a few people that will be there doing the run as well, so if you want to meet up or do whatever, let me know.
Remember to have fun guys!  Now if you'll excuse me, I have some miles to go run.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pacing Questions for the Marathon

I want to post more on here about my runs, all of them really.  But the problem comes when I am home for the weekends, as I usually spend about 30 minutes on the internet the whole weekend, and that is usually to check banking and log my runs.  Plus with two little kids I spend more time with them during the day, and only get on later at night, which leads to diminished posting. So I spend most of my Loop time during the week.

Last week I had wanted to post after several runs.  Like a run last Wednesday when I ran 5 miles down at the park.  I was only going to do 4 then I found myself out at 3.5 with a 1.5 mile run back to the car so I finished up the 5, aided mostly by another runner running several feet behind me at the same pace, so that we could hear each other's foot falls for my last mile.

Then there was Friday, where I had little desire to run (probably because I hate hills), but put on the gear and hit the hill anyway.  Last year I had to walk portions of the hill when I started running it in preparation for Bloomsday, but this year, I ran the whole thing on the first go (the hill is approx. 0.75 miles with a climb of about 225ft.).  So I am reviewing my plan and how to work running the hill multiple times to gain the benefits.

Of course, Sunday I did a "long" run, it was a cut back (long run wise)week, so we did 6 miles as a group, but I added on about 1.5 for a nice 7.5 mile run.  It was slower than we have been running some of our long runs, coming in at 9:30 m/m instead of the 8:30m/m, but I attribute that to a long week and tired legs.

Later Sunday the discussion of pacing came up.  My marathon partner and his wife, and my wife and I, went wine tasting at several of the local wineries (and if you have been to SE Washington, there are a ton).  During this nice (child free) afternoon, the topic of how we were traveling to SF, and several other marathon related topics were discussed, including that of using our friend, M, as a pacer.  He is really good for it, as he is a 9:30-10 m/m guy, and doesn't vary too much.  We really want to use him during the longer runs to help keep us in check and not over-exert ourselves during the strenuous long runs.  This inevitably led to GPS watches, and if we could use them to do this type of pacing for us.  At this point I should caution that we both use our phone and the RunKeeper App to track our runs, but it's limitation is that it can't really do pacing.  It does distance, and gives an average pace based on miles (or time), or does instantaneous the same  way, but seems like it lacks the ability to hit precise pacing requirements.

So, I hit up the great reference of the Loop in hopes of coming to a decisive answer, and thusly, was told to get one I wouldn't regret it.  However, I have yet to run out and find one of those lovely little devices.
Last week was a 21.5 mile week, with 4 days of running, so I feel pretty confident about where I am at right now as we get closer to marathon training. This week, I started out with three basketball games, and have yet to do normal running (today I blame the wind, and will probably hit the stationary bike tonight to make up for it). Back at it with a smaller mileage week, before picking it up again next week and increasing mileage. Have fun out there guys, and thanks in advance for the responses about watches.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That Runnin' Feeling (I registered for my first marathon)

Yet another weekend has flown by.  The time sure does fly when you have so much going on.  Friday was a needed rest day as I was worn down from the long week.  But we had plan Friday night anyway.  We went to dinner with my mom, then my mom, I and my three year old went to the local hockey game.  It was disappointing that the Americans lost the game, but my son had a great time and that is what really matters.

Saturday I had every intention of getting up and running 5 miles, but when the alarm went off at 5:30, I ignored it and slept for a bit longer.  When I did get up at 8, I noticed that it was raining, and suddenly my desire to run was washed away.  So I grabbed my Nook and hit the stationary bike in the garage for a 10 mile ride.  Then spent the majority of the day feeling a bit guilty that I didn't run.  But at least I got some exercise in.  Spent the better part of the afternoon, getting the garden ready for spring, especially after I noticed that the tulips are starting to poke through the ground.

Sunday was one of those great days.  I met up with my buddy, G, for our long run, 10 miles.  And we really did have a great run.  It was cool (34ish) but there were no clouds, and we got to watch the sun come up over the Columbia River about 7:30.  This run was so nice compared to the 8 miles we did the previous week in the freezing fog. It was also the second time I used the new fuel belt.  The one thing I have to do is make sure to close the lid on the bottle, otherwise it splashes on my shirt, not a good feeling.  We finished the 10 just under an hour and a half, and both felt really good about it.

After the run, he and his family came over for breakfast so we could start our preliminary planning for San Francisco.  We went over three or four plans that I had picked out.  I told him that I was looking at doing Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2 Plan, because I am feeling really good about my running right now.  I am running any where between 4 and 5 days a week, and have been running three consecutive days in the middle of the week for a few weeks now (counting basketball of course).  So I feel good.  Anyway, my friend decided that he would train on that plan as well, because it offered a lot of flexibility if he wanted to shorten a run or cross train a short day instead.  Then of course we broke down and registered for the San Francisco marathon.

I repeat for emphasis, that we are both registered for our first marathon! I have yet to decided if I am more excited or completely insane.  Right now, all I know is that I am enjoying running and hope that it keeps up for a while.  Training will start with an 18 week plan on March 26th, so until then I am focusing on regaining my base miles.

A final note, the best feeling I have every week is the first day I run and knock that zero off the weekly log.  Today was that day.  An easy 4 down by the river at lunch to release from the stress of a design review.  I'll be back out tomorrow, but haven't decided on a distance yet.  Since this has gotten a bit long I'll stop now.
Stay safe and have fun out there!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strike While the Pavement is Wet

When I started running in 2010 on of the first things I learned was how much fun running in the rain could be.  I started running in the late summer/early fall that year, and had the opportunity to run in the rain on several occasions (later this would be snow).  Considering the area I live in is classified as a desert, I don't get the opportunity to run in the rain all that often (Yes, SE Washington is a desert, contrary to the belief that the whole state is rainy and gray like Seattle).  I had planned on running before work yesterday morning, but alas, the bed had other plans for me.  I knew I would be going out sometime during the day, and the decision on when to run became quite clear when it started raining around 10 yesterday morning.

At 10:45 I wandered out to the car, drove on down the park and prepared to do my thing.  At this point I feel a clarification is in order.  The park I run in has something like 6 bathrooms placed about 1 mile intervals.  My daily runs start at the farthest north of these bathrooms, where I quickly change and get moving.  Nothing new yesterday, change lock the car, set the phone and off we go.

My mind and body had two different thoughts about the run yesterday.  The mind was like "hey, we should try for five" and the legs were like "Umm, we are sticking to three thank you very much."  With this debate ongoing, I took off north through the rain, though to my dismay, it wasn't raining as hard as I thought it was.

It didn't take long for my left calf to settle the how far are we going to run argument.  Since the path has marking every half mile, and I had started just before one of these markers, I decided to the through four of these markers.  The first marking off about a tenth of a mile from the start and the last being near 1.5 miles.  I was enjoying the run, nice, easy and smooth, running just past the WSU Tri-Cities campus then turning around just before the industrial plant out north.  The turn came in at 1.7 miles.  As I was cruising back I noticed that the rain had picked up a bit, as the noise was noticeable on the leaves littering the ground.  I probably dropped back the pace another 10 seconds per mile or so through the second half of the run, as the left leg was just a bit argumentative.  I was lost in my thoughts of the run, and my training plans for the summer, so I was only barely aware of the sore leg.  And finally I was back at the car, 30 minutes and 3.4 miles.  It really was a nice run, even if I did use the fast shoes for the easy run.

Anyway, on to more pressing matters.  My friend and I are meeting to discuss our training and travel plans for San Fran this weekend, my guess is that we'll be signed up by Sunday afternoon.  I also plan on signing up for the Portland Shamrock run at the same time, most likely for the 15k.  However, the most important thing to discuss in this close out, is Bloomsday.  

Anyway guys, have fun out there, and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Call of Running

Let's get this out there now, I was planning on running today anyway, but it was looking like one of those days.  I got into work and noticed that I had two meetings scheduled at 11AM and 1PM.  That left only a hour for lunch.  Since I have been running at lunch then eating it usually take about that long to run (including changing) and grab/warm up lunch.  No way was I going to get that done this morning in a single hour with book ended meetings.  So I sat at my desk, hemming and hawing over whether to go out and run at 9 or 10 and have it our of the way. Finally, at 9:30 I decided to just go get it done so I could focus for my meetings.

I went down to the river and changed as I always do armed with the knowledge that I wanted to get in 4 miles.  What I really wanted was to get the miles done in a quick manner so I could be back at my desk in plenty of time for that first meeting.  I was actually debating whether or not I was going to do the 4 or just do 3 and head back.  I decided I should just see how I felt, especially since I ran 3.6 yesterday, which was really more than I had planned on doing.

This internal debate went on while I changed, and through the first half mile of the run, where upon, I decided I would do 4 if I felt good after two.  I went north along the path for the first half mile turned around and came back to the start for the first full mile, so if I just went the next mile I could decide that was enough and come back with three under my belt.  But something funny happened, I hit the first mile at exactly 8 minutes.  So I decided to run the full 4 and try to push this into a tempo run.

Great decision in that arena.  The second mile came in at 7:50, the third at 7:40, and the fourth at 7:30, overall pace for the 4 miles was 7:47.  It was great, negative splits for all four miles, plus I was only away from the desk for about 45 minutes.  I was very pleased that I went and did the run this morning as opposed to waiting until tonight and trying to cram it in around dinner and kids and whatnot.

The repercussions of doing the tempo run today is that I probably cut the track workout from the schedule, unless I do it tomorrow, but I don't typically like to do speed two days in a row and will probably just do an easy three tomorrow. 

Remember to have fun out there you guys.