Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals we don't need no stinkin' Goals!

So this really did end up being like a trilogy.   Parts 1 and 2 were a look back at the last year for running, and if this were a Back to the Future movie we would be going way back in time.   But since the sequence of the movies and sequence of these blogs don't line up this is more like Back to the Future 2, you know, where Marty goes to the future to save his kid.

Untrue to the title of this blog (right like there are runners without goals) I have several hearty goals for the upcoming year.  But since this is a running blog, let's focus on the running goals.   I was going to lead off with "GET FASTER" but looking at yesterday's Tempo where I cruised through 4 miles at 26:58, maybe I should just work on maintain faster.

Any who, my early season goals are speed work.   Followed very much by the main goal of the year, drum roll please...I am going to train for and run my first marathon.   My friend and I are planning on running the San Francisco Marathon on July 29.

I have all the details worked out, training plan is all but set, my running buddy is in full bore too, just need to sit down with him and work through the details of the training plan.   The secondary goal, as we should all have some attainable mileage goals, is to run 100 miles a month or 1500 miles for the year.  I chose this because last year my goal was 50 miles a month, or 600 miles for the year, and once I built up to a nice mileage I was able to hit 50 every month, so this one seems pretty attainable. I think that the end of the year will be the hardest part, Christmas always seems to be a bit of a slow down season.
So here is the race lineup for the year.
  • 1/1/12 - Thunder Run 5k - A great way to start the year.
  • 2/26/12 - Tri-Cities Half-Marathon - the inaugural race!
  • 3/10/12 - St. Patrick's Day Foot Race, 10k - St. Patty's day is the next week.
  • 5/6/12 - Bloomsday, 12k - Such an awesome race!
  • 7/29/12 - San Francisco Marathon - My first marathon!
  • 9/22/12 - Indian Summer Half Marathon - A good test between marathons
  • 10/28/12 - Tri-Cities Marathon - If all goes well in SF, then I plan on going all out for this one, as it is a great flat fast course.
2012 Tentative Races -
  • 6/17/12 - Vancouver USA Half Marathon - Redemption for last year.
  • Assorted 5 and 10k fun runs.
Mileage Goals:

100 miles per month or 1500 for the year.

All right then.   Good luck to all of you and your goals in 2012, and remember to have fun out there.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Triumphs and Failures (2011 Review - Part 2 )

At least you didn't have to wait two years for the sequel to this gem.   I mean how exciting is it to think that you are all hanging on every word in a blog post recapping a year of running and random exploits from my life.   I know that I am riveted to my seat in anticipation.   Of course when I last left you, I was just preparing to embark upon...

A marathon which, I thought, perhaps foolishly, that upon training for and running a Half-Marathon, one could simply double up the mileage and plan and tackle the full on 26.2.  And perhaps I could have had certain things not conspired against me later in the year.   But I digress (or progress as the case may be), let us rejoin our program in July.

July - I took the first week of the month off, well the first three days anyway, and returned to running in a 5k event locally.  I drove out there signed up as last minute as possible, then promptly ran the 5k in 23 minutes even.   I also geared up and plowed full steam ahead into a marathon training plan.   Things got off to a great start in July as I started cranking through 25+ mile weeks.   I did a 14 mile run in mid-July, that was probably one of the best runs I had had in months, and then a 16 mile run at the end of July.  I also shoved a 10k in there somewhere which was a good test of where I was at.  I felt good, but knew there to be a lot of work left to accomplish this goal.   I climbed to 88.5 miles for the month of July

August - I picked up right where I left off in July.  I was cruising through tempo runs, and speed sessions, but the long runs were starting to kill me.   Or perhaps the speed runs were starting to catch up with the long runs, but somewhere in August the stress of the training got to me (though I didn't notice until September).  I completed yet another 16 mile run in mid-August, though this one wasn't as spectacular as the July run, so I backed off the some of the harder runs and tried to focus on enjoying the run.   At the end of August I set out to tackle a 20 miler during the weekend of my 10 year high school reunion.   I managed to get through 18 miles and that would be the last double digit run for a month which pushed me over 100 miles for the month.   On top of my 10 year high school reunion, we celebrated my wife's 10 year high school reunion, and hosted my best friend from high school for a week.   August was crazy busy and with all that going on I pushed on trying to fight the good fight, at least until...

September - In September I realized I was exhausted.   Between the new baby and running, I crashed.   To add to the anxiety, my company was anticipating layoffs.   Turns out this was a recipe for "I don't want to run right now" itis.  And in looking at the log, it shows.   I approached September the same way I have approached December, just maintain.   I ran easy when I ran at all, but I did race.   The week before the layoffs were to be announced I ran a local Half-Marathon, and did extremely well considering I was uninterested in physical activity.   By the end of September I had run 64.3 miles.

October - Thankfully, the first Monday of October brought good news and I had survived the cuts at work.   So with the change in weather, the work outlook and a new found energy, I petitioned my friend into doing the Tri-Cities Marathon relay at the end of the month.   I was back to running three or four times a week, and enjoying every single run.   My mileage climbed back to the 20+ miles per week, and my friend and I crushed the Tri-Cities Marathon Relay, both setting PRs in the Half distance as always a race report here.  By the end of the month I was sitting at 97.2 miles and some how couldn't find it in me to get over 100.

November - As the temperatures continued to fall in November, it meant one thing.   Basketball season was back.   I was still running three or four times a week, hovering right at 20 miles a week and finally worked a couple of games.   Not much in the way of excitement for November  Just a nice easy month where I pushed across 80.2 miles and crossed 700 for the year.

December - I have been so busy this month.   I refereed 16 basketball games in the first 17 days of the month, and 1 last week.   I usually book ended those with runs typically 8 or so miles.   It is a low mileage month, probably will end up lower than September, but only because I can't factor the basketball games into the total.   I imagine that I will end up in the 65 mile range for December which will leave me at 775 for the year 175 more than I set out to do.

  • July 4 - Camp Patirot Fun Run - 5k - 23:00
  • July 23 - Shoreline Run - 10k - 51:39
  • September 24 - Indian Summer Half-Marathon - 13.1 - 1:51:30
  • October 30 - Tri-Cities Marathon Relay - 13.1 - 1:49:02
As I look back over this year's running I know that I have learned a lot.   For one, I appreciate what my body can do, and listen to it (at least as much as I can).  But I also have found a great place to share the triumphs and failures here on the Loop.   I learned that there is a time and place for speed work, and that it isn't necessarily during a build up of mileage that I wasn't prepared for.   I have taken this into account when planning for my 2012 goals. 

I hope you have all enjoyed reading through my 2 part review.   Happy New Year guys.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Review - Part 1

I am going to do the review in two parts here (honestly it would do better as a trilogy, everyone likes a trilogy, but really who wants to read two parts of a year review much less three).  Mostly I want to highlight the accomplishments of running throughout the year, but I also want to touch on a few things that were important to me too.

January - After having convinced my friend (or him convince me) that we should run a Half-Marathon in the spring we had taken the plunge at the end of 2010 and ventured into the local running store.   Having been properly fitted for running shoes we had eliminated at least one excuse from the goal of running 13.1 miles.   Now all we needed was a training plan and a race.   December saw the culmination of my running goal for 2010, which was to run a 5k.  With this goal accomplished January became an exercise in two ways.   First, try to build up and maintain a good mileage base for the start of training.   Second, get through basketball season without too much pain.   I found that running and basketball caused a flair up in my shin splints, so I limited running to get through the season.   Spots of running throughout the month brought me to a total of 18.6 miles, but at least I didn't think I was pushing myself too much.

February - With six basketball games to referee in the first 5 days of the month I knew that I was not going to get any running in during the first week.   But I did manage to sell my friend on the Vancouver USA Half-Marathon and  a training plan.   We chose this race because it met the two requirements, it had to be on a Sunday and it had to be a Half-Marathon.  I used the majority of the month to get back into the three days a week running habit, and started increasing mileage on the long run with my training partner, getting to 5 miles for a long run by the end of the month and hitting double digit miles for a week for the first time ever.   February saw a total of 22.2 miles.

March - My first 10k.  Which was also my first attempt at 6 miles.  It was made especially intimidating by the fact that I had to spend the week of the race away from home for work.   Nothing is as exciting at Butte, MT in March.   This was also around the time that I discovered the Loop.   Mostly I was a bit of a lurker, I was a bit afraid to put anything in to writing, as it didn't seem as if I had anything more interesting to talk about than training runs, of course the more I read the more I realized that this was the perfect place to start putting any of my thoughts down to share with complete strangers.   March also included a twisted ankle.   An misstep off a ladder while working in the garage sideline me for one long run.   While I felt guilt at missing the run, I did get back out only a couple of days later and found that I could work through it.   The following weekend I ran 7 miles in celebration, brining March's total to 42.8.

April - Looking back this was one of the more mundane months both for training and personally.   With the improving weather, I did notice an improvement in my running.   I incorporated an evil hill to start getting ready for Doomsday Hill in Spokane.  As I look back through the log I question the 3.3 mile week - now I remember being sick, a cold or strep throat, something along those lines.   I also remember feeling much better the next week, running back to back days for the first time ever and slipping under 25 minutes in a 5k for the first time.   So maybe April wasn't that boring after all.  In the last week of the month I managed to really nice up-tempo runs as lead ins to Bloomsday, and brought my monthly mileage to 49.7.

May - What a way to start the month!   Bloomsday was perhaps the highlight of my running year.   This race left such an impression on me that I can't wait to go back and run again in 2012.  If you are ever in Spokane, WA for the first Sunday in May, you owe yourself to run this race.   Everything about it was amazing, from the start with the trees full of clothes, to the on course entertainment, to the amazing crowd support, many of which are on their front lawns.   Really if you want more wander on over the my race  Riding that high, I hit double digits on a run for the first time, with runs of 10 and 12 miles in consecutive weeks.   I also, felt this strange jealousy over the fact that I was neither prepared, nor financially able, to join a group of strangers in Philadelphia for a running event.   Looking back, it seems weird that it took 2 months to form a bond with the amazing people on the Loop, that share nothing more than a love of running.  Now when I miss a week of Bloops I feel like I have missed a year of people's lives.  As the calendar turned to June, I saw 72 in the month total column for May.

June - The anti-April if you will.   This month was turbulent in so many ways.   It started off calmly enough, with my training partner and I hitting 12 miles one last time in the lead up to our Vancouver race on the 19th.  During this time my wife was entering the home-stretch of her own race, six weeks until the birth of our second son.   With doctor's appointments regularly, it wasn't much of a surprise when we learned that the first signs of labor were present and that our new bundle of joy could arrive any time now.   So of course in the weeks leading up to the race I pondered what to do.  Finally, I decided that if I were to go, I would end up missing the birth, and decided to stay home for my wife (more races always exist).  So I ran a virtual (or fake) Half-Marathon around my neighborhood, on a slow, sore, wet morning, details  Of course, our son didn't make his grand appearance until nearly two weeks later on he 30th of June, a week in which I ran zero miles.   Even with the hubbub of baby, and the 13.1 mile adventure I managed to get to 74.5 miles for the month, and was up to 279.8 miles on the year almost half way to my goal of 600 for the year.

The first half of the year

Races -
  • March 12 - St. Patrick's Day Footrace - 10k - 55:18
  • May 1 - Bloomsday - 12k - 1:03:48
  • June 18 - Max's Virtual Half - 13.1 - 2:05:04
The review continues tomorrow where I hope to improve on my 10k and Half times as well as the pursuit of even more.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Cable Bridge Run (The Race I Didn't Run)

Let's start off with the fact that I haven't posted in almost 3 weeks.   Wow.   In that time I have been swamped with work, design activities sure can be fun.   I also got going hot and heavy into basketball season (for those that don't follow, or don't want to go searching, I referee high school basketball during the winter).  Plus I have been running off and on throughout the three weeks, though not as much as I would like.

First off, basketball.   What a difference a year makes.   Last year, it was all I could do to get through 2 games in an afternoon, much less think about running during off days.   I was still building up strength and stamina, increasing my mileage wouldn't come until spring, so basketball caused more pain that I thought it would.   I had shin splints, sore legs, and was drained after doing just a couple of games a week.   This year, completely different.   On more than one occasion I have gone out and run 3-5 miles in the morning and then worked 2 basketball games the same night.   I am on my feet about 2.5 hours when I work 2 games.   If it is possible, I am enjoying the games a lot more this season than last season, probably the experience and working with the more experienced guys have helped.   But right now I am loving basketball.   The first part of the season winds to a close this week with the schools heading into the Christmas break.   I am very much looking forward to the second half of the season.

Last weekend was the Tri-Cities most famous run (I assume, even though we have a bunch of races here), the Cable Bridge Run.   I had been meaning to sign up for the race for a while, but with everything else going on I hadn't gotten around to it, until the 10th.  Well, had I been thinking ahead, and really with a basketball riddled brain (I had completed my 7 game in three days that day) I would have realized that the race and my 3yo's basketball game were at the same time.   But I didn't look for the race time until after I had registered.   So I hemmed and hawed as to run the race or watch the kiddo's basketball game.   If you have followed me at all you know which way I went, family always comes first.   Friday afternoon I picked up my race packet and tech-shirt, even though I had no intentions of running the race.   Needless to say, Saturday morning came and went as did the race, with a lesson for next year, make sure to check the time for the race to ensure conflicts don't exist.

 This is the poster, but the shirt pretty much looks the same with the bridge and bears.

I have had every intention of reading more blogs the last few weeks = Fail! Or posting more of my own = Fail!  I haven't even been commenting that much, just been super busy with everything else going on the last three weeks.   hopefully with some time off from work and basketball I can find the time to get a couple of more posts in.   I also hope that I can summon the courage (or will power as the case may be) to participate in the Great Cookie Challenge.   While I have run on days I have done basketball games, I haven't run many consecutive days recently, unless you count running one day and then doing three days of basketball as running.   I plan on giving it the ol' college try anyhow though.

I have just about completed my race and training calendar for next year and will share that in a post later as well as a post looking back over the year.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you out in Loopland.  Remember to have fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December Everyone

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable November and a Happy Thanksgiving.   Of course, if you didn't, things are looking better as the calendar turns to December

I continue to ride high, experiencing seemingly two months of personal and running happiness.   My current 'plan' has me running when and how I feel.   But my hidden agenda is to increase the number of days I am running, and for that reason, I enjoyed a handful of 3ish mile runs in the last couple of weeks, perhaps the first time in a while that I haven't felt guilty about running less than 5 miles.

I have also managed to add some tempo runs back into the mix too, and boy have they been amazing.   Last week before Thanksgiving I went out for a 5 mile run, the first mile was nice and speedy so I decided to hold pace for as long as possible, which ended up being a 4 mile tempo at 7:39 pace followed by a 1 mile cool down.

Yesterday, I looked at the schedule and part of the add more days plan was run (need to get to 7 for the Cookie Monster Streak) .   The log showed 74.1 miles for the month, and I wasn't just going to leave it at 77 or something like that when I could get to 80.  So I set off at lunch, PF bothering me a bit in the left foot, and right knee a bit sore, not expecting much.   After I got moving the first mile beeped off and I realized I was at 7:49 pace, so I just decided to roll with and focus on breathing for the run.   I had decided that I would try to keep this up for 5 of the 6 miles since I had done the 4 the previous week.   And it totally rocked. I felt great after the run (despite the PF and knee, which were mostly gone by the end of the run anyway).  Overall, the Tempo yesterday - 5 tempo miles at 7:50 pace, fastest at 7:30 (last mile) everything else at about 7:55.  With a 1.1 mile cool down at about an 8:30 pace, overall 6.1 miles at 7:58.  Sweet! 6 miles under 8m/m.  Time for a Dancing Banana.That is pretty much how I felt yesterday after rattling that little guy off.  It is really good knowing that I am seeing some speed improvement.   And hopefully will see big improvements this spring when I roll out the speed plan in Feb 

I have basketball games this weekend, so I will probably drop down to 3 miles a day for those days to keep it lighter and avoid too much stress on the joints.
  • November Miles - 80.2 (would have gone higher but I took the first week off)
  • Yearly Miles - 710.5 - Well past my goal of 600, looking to score 800 by the end of December  I have lots of basketball games the next two weeks so it could be interesting.
Next year's goals need to be ironed out a bit.   But I think I can get to those at the end of December  I hope that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.   Remember to have fun out there.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Reflection on a year.

Last year I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving.  It was an awesome wintry day.  The temperature was in the mid-teens and the snow was falling once again, we had already had several inches at this point.  The farthest I had run continuously to this point was probably 2.5 miles.  But I went out with the knowledge that I would run as much as I could for as long as I could.  I ran the whole 5k during that Turkey Trot, so it holds a special place for me when it comes to running, an accomplishment that I didn't think I could reach (or know where I was going as a runner). 

Forward to today.  The weather couldn't have been more different, temps in the low-40s, sunny, beautiful morning for a fun run.  There were more people out for this year's event, dressed from the obvious, turkeys, to Fred Flintstone, barefoot an all.  With the added people, the start was slow, but as my friend and I moved out (almost half way through) we found a groove and settled into a quick pace.  It isn't a timed event, so I only have the Run Keeper App to go by (27:41).  And it was really over too quickly.  Afterwards, my friend and his lovely family came over for a post race, pre-Thanksgiving, breakfast.  It was a nice way to kick off the holiday.

The Reflection/Thanksgiving Part -

- I am thankful for finding the Loop.  This place has been more than just a place to share triumphs and tribulations in running, but those things which are important in life.  A place to gather and share information.  Most importantly a place to ramble on about running and not be looked at completely crazed.

- I am amazed at the changes a body can go through in such a short amount of time.  I have completed 3 timed Half-Marathons, and long runs of up to 18 miles.  I had no idea that my body, or mind, was capable of that when I started August 2010.  The transition from 5k to half-marathon and beyond has been amazing.

- I am thankful for a pair of running buddies, that put up with my crazy antics, and who have probably drank the kool-aid, when it comes to doing a marathon with me next summer.  I have one convinced to do the San Francisco Marathon with me, and the other is 75% in.  They are great people.

- I am thankful to be here in this great country...I was able to get up and go for a run this morning, then spend the rest of the day with my wife and kids, then have a great dinner with my dad.  I am blessed to be able to do all of these things.

- My super supportive wife.  Who takes care of both my sons without complaint.  She is totally behind my running, and is amazing about it, even when I have 2+ hour runs scheduled.  Or when I suggest running a marathon out of state (though she has already started organizing and planning for the trip).  She tolerates a great deal, and for that I am thankful, and love her with all my heart.

I could probably go on and on but I will leave it at that for the time being.  I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with your family and friends this weekend.  Remember to have fun out there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The First Snow

Well, as it turns out that snow was going to stick.

Saturday morning it started to snow.   Just a light dusting that was mostly sticking to the grass and foliage scattered across the landscape.   At first I wasn't too concerned that the snow would be sticking around.   Shortly after having this thought the snow picked up and was coming down in one of those thick, heavy, wet snows.   And it seemed to last for a few hours at this rate.   And after a few hours of what seemed like heavy snow, we were left with about 1 or 1.5 inches of snow, enough to make snowmen, or an arsenal of snowballs, but not enough to derail driving or running plans.

 I made a pile of snowballs for my 3-year old to hurl at the fence.

It still feels like snow, but the forecast is for warm temperatures and clear skies for the upcoming holiday.   I got two runs in this weekend, one Friday night after work with my running buddies.   We met up at G's house to set off for a quick 5 mile loop, well for G and M.   Since I live a mile away I use it as a warm up and get in 7 miles.   M shows up at 4:30 and we all take off for the 5 miles around the lakes neighborhood.   We ended up short circuiting the run, because of a bathroom need, so it ended up being a 4.3 miles for them and 6.4 for me.   It was a nice run as the sun set and the temperatures dropped.

Saturday I was going to try to get out for a quick 3 miles just to grab miles, but by the time I made breakfast and started getting the 3-yo ready for basketball practice it was practically too late.   My wife and her friend took off to go to a craft show and left me in charge of the two kids and the afore mentioned basketball practice.   By the time we were all done with that, it was snowing pretty heavily and my desire to run had waned a touch, so, I played in the snow with my 3-yo in the afternoon instead, a good trade I think.

Sunday morning I met with my friend G at my place to tackle an 8 mile loop around the two neighborhoods.   The sidewalks were mostly cleared, and the city had put ice melt on the roads and paths so the footing was nice and easy on what could have been slick road surfacs.  It was a really nice run, but for some reason it left me dragging the rest of the day.   I haven't felt that tired after a non-race run in a while.   Spent the rest of the day cleaning up around the house, watching a bit of TV and trying to relax.   When I finally got a free minute yesterday afternoon I thought about all the peeps doing Philly and wondered how they had all done.   I will be looking for the RR Bloops today and tomorrow.

Today is going to be a rest day in hopes of cleaning out the brain and getting ready for a fun Thanksgiving week.   Right now I am really thankful that tomorrow is the last day of the work week for me.   Remember to have fun out there you guys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Trukey Trotting (Or How I will Spend Thanksgiving Morning)

Yesterday was tiring.   I was up early so that I could get into work early.   The deal I have with my boss is that if I have basketball games then I need to come in early to make up for leaving early.   No problems with that, though most of the day was spent in anticipation of getting back out on the basketball court to referee.  Needless to say that I was raring to go at 3 yesterday afternoon for the games at 4. Last year I joined the association about half way through the season, and without much in the way of training (read: None), I was thrown to the wolves as an unsuspecting newbie.   But, I know the game well and really enjoy officiating so I stuck with it.   I even finished the season with a great game with a long time official in the association, turns out there is a way to get that 'high' without running.

Last night I got to get back into the swing of things a bit easier, by doing Middle School ball.   Again, as the association is emphasizing growth and bringing in younger officials, I was paired with a more veteran guy for a pair of B team games.   These are nice relaxing (in the loosest sense of the word) games, because you get to let these kids play and only really have to call the obvious stuff.   Now, I know what you are thinking, how does this relate to running, heck how does this even relate to Turkey?

Now, the reason I really got into basketball last season was a means of staying active, and running so I wasn't outside in 15* weather.   I now realize its potential for short speed sessions  Last night's games are classic games, you get going with the teams easing in and testing one another out, then suddenly you get a minute of fast breaks with the kids sprinting the floor back and forth, with the officials covering about 3/4 of court on those.   I love it, you get the sprinting, the leisurely jog down the court, the ambling walk, then back to the sprinting.   In the end, between enjoying returning something to the kids (it is about them after all) and the forced running (I didn't do 'miles' because I had basketball) I think it is win-win.

Ok, Ok, Ok, I realize that I still haven't talked about turkey.   In case you were unaware, America's most beloved tradition is next week.   I am, of course, referring to Turkey Trots, and you thought I was going to say something about Thanksgiving, huge feasts, and football.   Yesterday, I signed up for the local Turkey Trot, all proceeds go to the local Red Cross, not as good as donating blood, but it is something none the less.
  The race is a nice little 5k down in one of the local parks, one of my running buddies is planning on running with me, then we are going to go and get some breakfast before heading home for family dinners (I guess if I want to have breakfast and dinner I might want to stretch that 5k into a 6 miler or so).

Sunday, I went out with both running partners.   One completed his first 10 mile run ever, while the other (who ran the marathon relay with me) managed to push on his sore knee and is feeling better about his upcoming Seattle Half in 10 days.   It was a nice run, the weather was gorgeous, a beautiful fall run.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Froze My...

Facial hair off.  I so very rarely post pictures that I thought this one might be worth sharing. Its not the best as I took it myself.

If you look closely enough you will notice that there is ICE on my facial hair.

Me-This morning after my 7 mile run.

Once a week I like to meet up with my friend and run around his neighborhood with his pup.  This morning was that run.  I took off from my place at 7:10 AM in what I am guessing was about 25* temps.  I say guess, because my phone couldn't decide if it was 22* or 29*, so I am going with 25.  Anyway, it is a mile over to his house, which is a really nice warm up mile.  I get there and he and his pup get ready, and we set off for our 5 mile loop.  The important thing to note about this morning's run was that it was foggy.  Not so foggy that you couldn't see three feet in front of you, just foggy.  I didn't really occur to me that the fog and cold temps could possibly lead to freezing water on any hair.  But after we completed the 5 mile loop I noticed that my friend had ice crystals on his hair (I had originally assumed from sweat).  Then he pointed out the ice on my beard.  Well, on the mile cool down back to my house it hit me.  Between the fog and the cold weather I had ice on my face.  All said and done, a nice, but cold, 7.15 mile run in 1:02:50.

As for the PF, I can't decide if the shoes are to blame or not, so for the time being, if they are causing increased soreness in the foot, I will wear them and get the most miles I can in them.  If it really is this particular pair of shoes, I will retire them (sad times) and go off in their red counterparts.  But, right now the PF isn't really bothering me so something is working.

Again, I thought this interesting enough to share.  A quick shout out to the Veterans of our great country for making all this possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Self Diagnosis

Monday I announced my winter goals - add days to my running week, lose weight, and maintain fitness.   As part of this plan I am forcing myself out of bed when the alarm clock goes off in the morning to get in the 30-45 minutes of exercise I need.   So yesterday I did just that.   I awoke with the screeching of the ill-tempered alarm clock, and managed to shuffle my way out to the living room.   In the living room, I turned on the Wii and the TV, only to receive the blinding white of the Wii Fit game.   It was very hard to adjust the morning eyes to the total whiteness of the TV screen.  I use the Wii Fit as a scale, since we don't have a working scale in the house.

Now for those of you who don't have or have never used the Wii Fit, let me tell you a bit about it.   The balance board is just that, a 20" long by 12.5" wide board.   It is pretty neat.   Anyway, I get on, and select my avatar, a much shorter bobble head version of myself ready to get a weigh in done and head out for a run.  Once you get the board all warmed up it goes through standard stuff, like how heavy are the clothes you are wearing? Then it is ready to weigh you.   You stand on it for about 10 seconds, which gives you the weight, then it does a balance check to see if you are favoring one side over the other.   Two things to note during this time.   First, I am sitting at 203, which is a bit heavier than I was this summer, but not bad news as at least I am hovering around 200 pounds.   The second, that my balance was shifted to the right.   In my sleep filled fog yesterday I thought that this might mean something, usually that my lower back is misaligned, but I seem to be missing other signs and symptoms that go along with that.   This is the first instance of self-diagnosis, could my back be out?

Then I quickly grab the headlamp, the tights and a long sleeve tech shirt and head out for the morning run.   Let's get at least 4 in this morning and see how we feel, it has been a week since I last ran after all.   I am in my oldest set of shoes, but feeling pretty good as I start out in the sub-30 temps.   It was almost a mile and a half before I felt truly warmed up to the run, but there was something pleasant about the early AM run in the dark, being able to see my breath, it was relaxing.   I got the 4 miles in and felt pretty good about the whole thing, got cleaned up and went to work.

It wasn't until later at work that I noticed something was off. My left heel was killing me.   Every time I would get up from my desk my foot was sore, felt like needles stabbing the bottom of my foot.   So after lunch with my family, I decided to start doing some internet research on potential causes/problems.   I have felt for the longest time that I have a bit of Plantar Fasciitis.  Which is probably true, the heel is sore first thing in the morning, and gets better once I run on it and warm it up.   But I spent the better part of yesterday worrying that the issue might be more than just simple inflamed tissue on my foot.   What if it is a stress fracture, what if, what if, what if?

So needless to say, last night I went home, got a water bottle ice pack (a nifty cylindrical tube) out of the freezer and used it to roll my foot over repeatedly for a while.   I also spent some time doing stretches in hopes that I could work out any stiffness in the foot.   Needless to say, I sat around doing as little as possible with the foot hoping that the problem is the Plantar Fascia and that it would start to get better with stretching and ice.

That brings us to today.   I awoke, got ready quickly, and left for work so that I could get to training this morning.   It was about halfway from the car to the training building that I realized that my foot wasn't bothering me.   Now, being an engineer I felt it might be beneficial to run a test to see what the cause might be.   The best way to do that? Run.   So after training, I decide to use the extra time in my day to get home and get a quick 5 miles in.   There was nobody home, which alleviates the 'don't go for a run, stay with me daddy" that I usually get from my 3 year old.   I got to thinking that it might be the shoes I wore yesterday so I decide to switch over to my other set of Ghost 3s.  I set out for those 5 miles.   I am happy to report, that after 5 miles, I have no heel pain today.

From this I draw the following conclusions:   The lack of running last week may have been the cause of the pain.   The old shoes may be the cause, but I owe them another run to see if they are the problem (there are only 260 miles on them, so I bet it was the former).  Last, I probably do have a bit of Plantar Fascists, and the best way to go is to continue stretching (which I did after the run today) and icing (which I will do tonight after work) to help ease the inflamation.

So I feel like I am off to a good start with 9 great miles so far, I might actually do a bit of cross-training tomorrow.   Remember to have fun out there guys!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Maintenance, Marathon Training, and some Loop Questions

I last ran a whopping 6 days ago.   Last Tuesday to be precise.   That was a tough 5.5 mile run at that.   The run was just two days after my fastest half yet, at 1:49:02.  I followed up that race, by running 3.6 miles as soon as I got home that Sunday  Needless to say the Tuesday run was hard, even at an easy 9m/m pace.   Both my friend and I felt as if we were moving a bit too fast.   So I didn't really mind that I was going to force myself into a running break.

I spent the weekend watching football and playing with my sons.   It was not a weekend wasted.   The week off left me rejuvenated and a bit antsy.   It also marks a distinct line between Racing season and Basketball/maintenance season.   I am looking to the off season to do some major things for my running, let's hit them in list form.
  1. Obviously, I want to maintain my endurance.   I plan on doing this by getting in some mid-range long runs over the winter (8-10 miles, 12 if I feel good).
  2. I want to build speed.   I referee basketball in the winter, it is a good way to stay running and active during the winter.   Plus chasing high schoolers up and down the court counts as a speed session, especially when I do 2 one hour long games.  Plus my Winter races are all 5k and 10k varieties.  
  3. Add at least an extra day to my running over the winter.   To me this means going from 3 days a week running to 4-5 days a week.   Mostly I will just get some shorter 3-4 mile runs in until I can build that solid base.  
  4. I want to drop another 15 pounds.   I really want to get down to 185lbs.  And now that I have put this out here, I hope that I can be accountable to this goal.   I say this because I love food, and running has been a way for me to eat as I want.   Time for another change.
Now, all of those goals are focused on completing next year's goal.   Completing a marathon, all 26.2 glorious miles.   Tentatively I have set my sights on the San Francisco Marathon in July as my goal race.   I should be able to firm that up come the end of basketball season, but that is the goal.   I have already started scoping out training plans, and have all but settled on one of the Hal Higdon Intermediate plans.   I like these plans because they appear to focus on mileage rather than on a mixture of workouts.   I attempted the Speed type workouts mixed with high mileage training runs to disastrous results this last summer and since I want to complete a marathon the idea is to get the mileage base to do so. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tri-Cities Marathon RR (A Group Effort)

Let me think...It has been approximately 73 years since I last posted anything on here at all...well maybe only three weeks, but still, that is a long time to go in the world of running.   When I last left the story, I had taken off for an afternoon run with my youngest son in my weekly quest to reach 20 miles through out October  But what happened between that run and the one in to which I am about to delve is of mere consequence.   Join me as I bring you on a journey through my hometown.

We'll start our journey last Thursday.  After a long week at work, where I spent two days in an all day Value Engineering workshop, I finally had the chance to escape to the comforts of running.   I had spent the better part of the week getting to work early and leaving late, thus leaving little (read - no time) for actual running.   Which for me was fine considering I had a race Sunday  Thursday, I met up with my friend after work (I actually left early) to get a much needed run in.   Since my family was all napping when I got home, I changed quickly then popped out to grab 2 easy miles before I met my friend.   After a nice 5 miles around the neighborhood, we split up, and I grabbed an extra mile back to my house.   A nice easy 8 mile run three days before the Marathon relay.

I spent the next couple of days relaxing, and mostly complaining that I didn't really feel like racing Sunday  Saturday, after mowing the lawn, I met with my relay partner at packet pick up to get our bib and race information for Team "is and anagram of meat" .".  This of course adds a wrinkle at the end of this story.   Truly, my relay partner came up with the name, and seeing as he is a fan of bacon and most meat products, and we were trying to be clever, we settled upon this.   Mostly I think of it as the quote from Shaun of the Dead - "there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in pie. And there's an "I" in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team... I don't know what he's talking about. ""  Its a zombie movie and the run was on Oct. 30, don't judge us.

Back to the story  After packet pick up I was much more excited to be racing Sunday  We had our plan, my partner was running the first half of the race and I was running the second half of the race.   He estimated his time would be 2:10 or so, and I should be at the 2nd transition point in accordance.

Sunday - 9:15 AM (insert dramatic music) - I get out the door after many assurances that I would see my three year old at the end of the race.   He wanted to come with me, not that it would have been that bad had my wife been coming too.

9:30 AM - Arrive at the transition point and wonder if I passed my partner on my way over.   Decide that I haven't and begin watching for him...meanwhile on this brisk morning I begin warming up a bit.   about 15 minutes after I arrive, his wife arrives, she kindly takes my car keys and warm up shirt.   I take this opportunity to use the bathroom once more.

10:03 - My partner crosses the timing mat, handing me the belt with the bib on it.   I start my RunKeeper App, strap on the belt, all in stride and get going.   I quickly begin to think that I am moving all too quickly, and glance at the phone to check time - 7:45m/m pace after about 0.5 miles, decided I can probably keep pace and keep on trucking.

Mile 14-16 -The first mile takes runners back under the Blue Bridge (photo in a bit) heading east towards the Cable Bridge.   The water stops were every 2 miles during this race, and consequently I hit a water stop after only a mile of running, normally, I would have passed, but I decided to grab some water at this point just to get some.   After the water station, the route crosses under the bridge and along the running/bike path next to the Columbia River on the Kennewick side of the river.   The path is nice and windy as it snakes along, so I tried to take the most direct route as possible.   Meanwhile, I am clipping along at a fairly comfortable pace passing many other runners.   Mile 16 takes us over the Cable Bridge.

The Cable Bridge crossing the Columbia River - Kennewick to Pasco WA

Miles 17-18 - In my mind I had broken the run down into a few stages - The run from the transition point to the Cable Bridge.   The Cable Bridge to the Blue Bridge.   The Blue Bridge to the Concrete Bridge, and then finally the run to the finish line.   This little stretch constituted that second leg.   Two miles between the bridges along the winding path on the Pasco side of the river.  Mile 19 takes back under this bridge (my partner went over it during the first half).

Blue Bridge crossing the Columbia River between Kennewick and Pasco WA.

Miles 19-24 - Somewhere between mile 15 and 19 I realized I hadn't seen or been worried about the mile markers in quite some time.   Enough that when I saw Mile marker 19, I didn't believe that there were only 7 miles left in this race.   I was feeling very good, though a bit upset at myself for not grabbing a gel before leaving the house.   Between Mile 19 and 20 I passed over the timing mat at Transition point 1/3 (not a typo, that would be transition point 3 going this way).  I knew I was around 50 minutes for my 6+ pace, and really started thinking that I could hit this thing under 1:45.  I picked up my pace (though apparently not) and plugged on towards the Concrete Bridge.   This stretch was nice and straight, fast, as it meandered along the river, then eventually, through a neighborhood on its way up to the bridge.

Miles 25-26.2 - This was the toughest part of the whole race.   The uphill climb to the bridge, one last crossing of the Columbia  The climb brings the runners out onto the bridge on the Pasco side of the river, and then it is all downhill towards the Richland side of the river.   The final mile is along the streets by the golf course taking us back to the starting point.   As I come into the final quarter mile, I see my wife and kids coming up to the side of the road for a quick high-five.   Then I rounded the bend into the parking lot of the Shiloh Inn, seeing my training partner, and cross the mat at 3:52:30 on the clock.   As I am crossing the mat, the announcer is stumbling over out team name.  "And Relay team 706 - Team is an ana...what...Team is an anagram of meat."  I guess we get a shout out for unusualness.

His time for the first half - 2:03:01 - A PR for him.

My time for the second half - 1:49:02 - A PR for me.   Not quite the 1:45 I was looking for, but still it was fast and totally awesome.

My thoughts throughout the majority of this race were the following:   I really wish I could have gotten through training in September and pushed myself to do the full race.   My job concerns and just being completely worn down did me in.   I was in awe of all the people that were doing the full marathon, and the strength it takes to do that.   I have more motivation to do the full 26.2 mile run.   I have to say though, that this race really did get me back into a strong running mood, and I look forward to next year's challenges.

I promise not to be so much of a stranger in the coming weeks, now that work will be calming down for me a bit, I should be around a touch more.   Good luck to all in their coming races.   Have fun out there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

If you want a challenge...

Push a full blown stroller on a run (not one of those nice cushy running ones).

To all those out there who have pushed their progeny along in a stroller....I salute you.

Late last week I managed to sneak home from work a bit early in an attempt to get my run in.   I was planning on getting in 5 miles in an attempt to reach 20 for the week (my goal for October is 20 a week).  When I arrived at home I was greeted by my wife and my three month old (thankfully his older brother was napping).  This slightly altered my plans, seeing as my wife wanted to hand off the little guy so she could get some crafting done.   I don't have a problem with this, I just wanted to get the run in too (especially before my oldest awoke), so she suggested that I take him with me.

Now, we don't own a 'jogging' stroller so I didn't know exactly what to expect from this run.  (Why do they call it a jogging stroller, that is just asking for trouble?)  But I laced up, strapped the kiddo into his car seat, and attached that to the stroller and off we went.   My immediate thoughts once we were on the road were,
'Where is the flattest spot to run so that I don't have to push this bulky stroller up too many hills?' and "We need to stay in the neighborhood so as to avoid having to cross any of the major streets coming in. ""  Of course, the first thing I did was run down hill away from the house.   Before I knew it we were half a mile into this run, and of course, the nice even pace and the noise of the stroller on the road has put the kiddo to sleep.
I now start thinking about whether I can get the five miles in or not.   The first two miles are easy, I am running at a nice steady pace, the legs, while a bit strained from the added effort, feel good.   After three miles, I decide that we can make it through the five miles pretty easily, even though this is taking a bit longer than I had planned.   I pushed through with the run, moving up and down the hills with apparent ease, even tackling the wind that swirled around the neighborhood as we ran.   After about 4 miles, the little man awoke, and spent the rest of the run grinning at me.   I absolutely love that smile when you are clearly the most important thing in the world to them.

After that run I was half way to the goal for the week.   That night I took my oldest son to a hockey game (we have a local team that is part of the WHL), with his friend and dad.   We had a great guy's night out.   We went to the pumpkin patch and bought pumpkins on Saturday and finished putting up Halloween decorations with the oldest.   (I will try to get pictures of those up soon).

Sunday I met up with my running buddy to knock out 10 miles.   It was a great run.   One of those runs that wasn't too hard, but wasn't so easy that you feel like you should have done more, just a nice solid run.   We enjoyed the beautiful October weather, cool, crisp air, a slight breeze, a little cloudy.   We talked about all sorts of things (they are expecting their first child in December) and it all ended a bit too soon.   Alas, I did get in the 20 miles I set out to do last week.

Now, to look for a nice 'jogging' stroller.

Remember to have fun out there!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why am I not running more? and What to do in the Spring?

Let's see!   I have been doing far more of what I want and far less of what is good for me.   That should read, I have been staying up too late watching TV (totally hooked on TerraNova) and playing board games with my wife and friends and not getting up at the onerous hour of 5:15 to run in the dark and rain.   That is not to say that I am not running, it just means that I am not running as much as I was, want to, or need to.   So I have made a goal for the month!   Run 20 miles per week every week of October

That said, I got off to a bad start.   Monday would be the first day of the week, and I had every intention of running, but between worries about the lay offs Monday which was causing some serious stress related stomach issues, and my late night the night before (trying to keep my mind off said lay offs) I missed out on running.   Tuesday, even after knowing that I had continuous employ, I was concerned about the lingering stomach rearing its ugly head on even a short easy run.

I did finally get back on the saddle, so to speak, yesterday with what turned out to be a fantastic run.   I hit the roads early to dark clouds and a smattering of rain.   I took off on my trusty two mile loop in hopes of getting 4 miles in.   My loop runs up the hill from my house and back down through the neighborhood, at both ends there are two mini-loops that are between .65 and .75 miles in length, great little add ons to a run.

Well, I was feeling so good yesterday that I decided to do the mini-loop at the bottom of the hill an extra time before taking off back up, then once up there I decided to add that one an extra time too.   I ended up finishing a great 5 mile run up yesterday morning in just under 45 min.   Then it was off to work for a very busy day (we did lose one guy from my group).

On the other side of this coin, the run when and how I feel like coin, my wife and mother in-law are a bit concerned that I am giving up the running.   Which is not really the case, I just haven't been prioritizing it, and it probably has to do a lot with the job stress mentioned above.   Which caused me to really slow down how much running I have been doing.   I have no intentions of giving up (I am far to addicted to the feeling of running), just interested in finding a balance in my life.   I just feel like doing a few other things while trying to make sure I maintain a level of fitness I am comfortable with.   I am pretty sure that my running buddy went through this after the Half we did in June.

To that end I am looking at Half-Marathons (or longer) in the April to June time frame.   Of course, I am going to run Bloomsday again in May and am looking forward to that.   But, I am looking for races in the Washington state Oregon area.   So if you know any that are awesome, or that you are going to run in too, let me know.
Just remember to have fun out there guys!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Indian Summer Half Marathon (RR)

Is that the sounds of more than one person behind me?   Where did those two guys come from? Really, an all sprint on the last 30 yards?   Wait those aren't the people I passed in the last half mile....

Friday Morning:

"All right!   Let's get three easy miles in as prep for tomorrow's race, no need to push pace, just an easy run to get in the right mind frame." Runner Me says to myself.

"Wait, we have never run the day before a race, won't we be tired and sluggish tomorrow?" The naysayer retorts.

"Look, shoes are on and we are out the door, Runner can deal with those problems tomorrow," runner replies.

Most of the week I was totally oblivious to the fact that I had a race Saturday, most of the month really.  So the thoughts above totally sum up my attitude for this race, a Half-Marathon for crying out loud.
Friday night:   After being informed that my 3 year old was sick all day, dinner plans were left in the air.   I volunteered to grab dinner from a fast food joint after I picked up my race packet.   Nothing says proper pre-race nutrition like a dinner from Jack in the Box.   Food nutrition aside, I managed to do the right things the rest of the night.   Once the kid dos were asleep, I relaxed, watched a bit of TV, and was in bed by about 10.  This being a local race, I knew I could get a good night sleep at home, get up, and have plenty of time to make it to the run.

Saturday Morning:   Alarm buzzing at 6:34.  Who sets their alarm for 6:34?  Snooze for 10 more minutes, get up and get moving.   Want to be out of the house in 30 minutes.   Get moving on morning routine, bathroom, running clothes on, shoes on (as chosen by my 3 year old).  Now, let's grab a quick bite.   Hmmm?  Pop-tart? Perfrect!  Race number...Why is this not on my clothes?   Oh well, I need to go it is 7:25 and the race is at 8!

Get in the car, and BEEEEP! Crap, the car needs gas, well I guess I can fit that in, it is only a 10 minute drive.   After gassing up, where I used the pump time to pin my bib on (see efficiency), I got to the race location at 7:45.  This works out great. Grab a parking spot, run over to the start location, notice I have 12 minutes to go, run over to the bathroom.   Get back, with only 5 minutes to go, having had a decent warm up.

8:00 AM - Off we go!  I stay back the first quarter mile, letting the crowd disperse a bit, so that I can find my pace and go on from there.   About half a mile in I ran through some grass that had just been watered, whoops, now my shoes are soaked, nothing to do now but run! At about the 5k turn-around (seen below) I checked my phone to see pace, 7:57.  Opps, seems I have started out a bit fast, let's just see where this goes as I am feeling great this morning.

A spot near the 5k turn around.  Of course I didn't stop to take pictures today, I was flying!

Miles 2-4 - Nothing much going on. The crowd has thinned, leaving a random collection of people training out.   There are some guys that I pass here, who clearly started much faster than their abilities.   I keep passing people in ones and twos for the next couple of miles.   I pass up water at the first water stop, cause, well, I am feeling great.

Mile 4-6.5 - Around mile four I hear footsteps and voices.   I get passed by a woman in yellow(#1451), briefly, she is central in the plot, and then two other women, whom I don't remember seeing again.   The water stops at 4 and 5.7 miles I grab cups that are unrefreshingly low on water.   Now, I have a habit of taking a slow jog through the water stations in order to drink the water, this doesn't bother me, because drinking the water is important.   The woman in yellow follows suit, slows down and drinks her water, always remaining just behind me.

Mile 6.5-11- Just before the turn around the woman in yellow decides to pass me.   She uses an uphill burst to get past me, normally I do this, but I figured that if she wanted to make her move now that was up to her.   So on we go to the turn around, she passes her family (I assume at this point she is running her first Half) giving high fives all around.   But maintains a steady pace out in front of me.   I use the opportunity to consume my gel after the turn around (Note:  Gels without water are harder to consume).  We come flying into mile 7, I check the phone, distance is 7.1 and time is 58 minutes (this is the last time I check).  Sweet!  I am crushing this right now.   Leaving the water stop at mile 5.7(7.3) I start thinking that I am tired.   Stupid brain, we are rocking, leave this to the us legs and we can get through it.   Better get distracted.   Focus on getting through the next water stop (mile 9) and the final one (mile 11).

Mile 11-13 - Getting through the water stop, I start calculating just how many milestones are left til we can push to the end.   Meanwhile, I have been holding a pace leaving me about 20-30yards behind the woman in yellow (#1451, when you stare at it for 40 minutes you remember it).  As I cruise past the 5k turn-around I know that it is time to start making a move.   I pass a couple of people at the curves in the path near the hotels, then set my sights on the woman in yellow, as well as the guy that keeps passing me (seriously like 5 times in this race this guy passed me).  With a mile to go, I set my path on the inside of the curves and pick up my pace.   I pass the woman in yellow.   Then with a quarter mile to go, pick it up again and pass the guy who keeps passing me.

Mile 13.1 - Is that the sounds of more than one person behind me?   Where did those two guys come from? Really, an all sprint on the last 30 yards?   Wait those aren't the people I passed in the last half mile. In the last tenth of a mile I get passed by two guys that I didn't even know were behind me.   But I did stay in front of the guy who passed me a lot, and the woman in yellow.   Sometime after the last water stop, I started wondering if the clock would have a 4 or 5 in it when I reached the end.   Well, coming up I saw 1:50: and some change. I passed the finish with a time of 1:51:30!!!!!!

This is a PR, by 14 minutes!!!!!

Of course, last time I ran a Half, I did my own virtual race in lieu of traveling to Vancouver WA and missing the birth of my second son.   This so rocked.   Plus I got this - - - -

So as far as PRing goes, I guess the run for fun plan rocks, I have not run a single long run over 10 miles since I ran an 18 miler back in August.   Of course, I want to get faster (shave 6+minutes off of that) and get below 1:45.  So I know that as I get back into training, I will be working tempos and intervals back in.  But for now I am going to revel in a super fast Half time.

Have fun out there!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

After much discussion with my wife and running buddies, I have decided to drop down to the Marathon Relay with my friend.   He and I will split the marathon and each run 13.1.  I am happy with this decision as it has been taxing on me trying to keep up with the volume of running (and time) necessary to accomplish this goal.   I have decided on taking on one big task a year (read trying the training for a marathon) for the time being in hopes of avoiding burn out.   With this in mind I am looking for a Spring/Early Summer marathon to take on where I can begin training in the early part of the year (February).  I am currently leaning towards a redemption run at the Vancouver USA Marathon (I was unable to run the Vancouver USA Half last year due to the impending birth of my second son).

Moving on to different running issues/problems/phobias/general worry.   I have a lingering issue with my right ankle.   I sprained it last summer before I became a runner, and now I have the ability to reinjure it almost at will.   I rolled it climbing off a ladder back in March and was quite concerned that it was more serious than it really was.   Fast forwarding to this past weekend.   Friday we had a yard sale where we took stuff from our house, my dad's place, and my in-law's place and offered to try to sell what we could and donate all that was left, typical yard sale.   Well, I had wanted to get out and run with one of my running buddies sometime that weekend, and offered Friday after the yard sale as the perfect time to take care of this.   So about 2:30 that afternoon I met up with him to tackle an easy 5 or so before heading home for dinner.   Everything was going well up until mile 2.  His dog, leashed, decided that she wanted to run on the outside of me, instead of in between the two of us.   This caused me to step off the running path into the grass trying to make room for him to pull her back in before she tripped me.   Well, turns out there was a small hole where I stepped off the path.  Crack!   Rolled the ankle and spent a couple of minutes trying to see if it was ok to try to move on again.   I managed a couple of quick sprints up the hill to test it's steadiness before deciding to move on and finish out the run.   I managed to finish the last 3 miles of the run, which was good, though the run wasn't the best I have had.

Typically on Sunday's I like to meet up with my other running buddy to tackle a long run.   This Sunday we were going to try to do 8-10.  When I awoke, I was greeted kindly by my 3 year old.   I absolutely hate leaving him to go run on the weekends.   I texted my buddy and asked if we could go a bit later, he quickly agreed.   I spent the next couple hours getting breakfast and an HD antenna with my 3 year old, then happily went out for the run with my buddy.   We met up about 10 with no particular plan in mind.   We decided to run the path across the highway from his place as opposed to wandering down to the river.   Not being in the best mind to go for a run we decided to just do the 5.5 mile loop and call it a day.   Of course as we got to the end of the loop we decided to try to get a full 7 in, ran the short loop of the path again, and cruised in at 7.14 miles.   I don't know what it is about the 7+ mile distance of late, but I have been loving this distance for a run.   Enough to make me feel like I really accomplished something and yet not so much that I am drained from the effort.

If I were ranking runs in ascending order of awesomeness the last few days, today's would top the list.   Since I stopped worrying about speed and other such tings on my 'plan' and have been running my runs how I feel, I have been much happier about a greater percentage of the runs.   This morning, however, I felt the need for speed.   I was out the door just before 6 in the cool 45* morning air. I quickly realized that this morning was meant to be a fast run.   I warmed up for about a half mile, then turned on the burners, finishing the first mile in 8:15, then really wanted to push it for 2 or so before cooling down and getting ready for work.   Miles 2 and 3 were right at 7:50 a piece, and it felt great to be able to run that speed with what felt like minimal effort (gotta love fall temps).  I ran a cool down mile of 8:45 or so, to pull off a 4 mile run in 8:45.  It was awesome, and left me hoping for a good one tomorrow (I actually want to get up and go again in the morning).  Good to know that my ankle is slowing me down any.

Have fun out there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's About Time

That I posted something.   It's been a week since I changed my approach to training and I have managed to run three times in that span (with another jaunt sometime today).  The run when I feel like it plan is in full and total effect.   I even had one of the best runs I have had in months Saturday morning.

I woke up grabbed the gear and ran over to my friend's place.   He lives a mile away so I always use that as a nice warmup/cooldown, plus he likes to push the pace so it is like a tempo run for the middle distance.   Ran a 5-mile loop with him, and his pup,  through the lakes neighborhood, you know a neighborhood that has large ponds in it with paths winding around the 'lakes' . It was a glorious morning, we watched the sun come up transitioning through a deep crimson through to the orange glow of early morning.   A quick stop to grab a couple of things from his place then I was back at home completing a 7.3 miles run.   I loved every minute of it and it didn't feel like and hour of running.   Those run keep you coming back for more.

After that, I went with my three year old and my father in-law over to Pullman to catch the WSU football game.   Now as opposed to boring you all with the minute details of the game we will surmise it to say that the Cougs rocked.   They haven't looked this good (I know the competition hasn't been super) since I was there early in my college life (2003).  So Saturday was a great day!

Sunday, though, had an air of remembrance and sadness to it.   I spent the morning trying to get the antenna positioned to grab the local CBS station (still no luck) and caught bits and pieces of the 9/11 specials on all the channels.   I had intended on running 7 miles to round out a milestone (more on this in a minute) but both my boys awoke as I was preparing to leave, and instead of making my DW get up and deal with both of them I decided to let her sleep for another 45 minutes or so.   I spent the day doing stuff with my oldest son, watched a bit of football, went grocery shopping, where we saw the local firefighters hang a large US flag across the only major intersection in town.   This prompted questions from my 3yo.  Not that he isn't inquisitive as is, but he really wanted to know what all the flags were about, a question that I had a hard time answering at a 3yo level.   I explained briefly about bad-guys and told him that one day he would understand better, an answer he liked, at least he didn't ask anymore questions. But overall a great weekend.

So this leaves me back at the milestone.   I am approaching 500 miles for the year, was a whopping 30 miles or so away from it at the beginning of the month, and have been sneaking up on it this whole time.   I noticed that I was only 24 miles away last week, and had made up my mind to get past that mark and move on. Well, I guess this is like baseball where a hitter is approaching 500 HRs and gets to 499 and sits for 14 games before hitting 2 in a game to go past 500.  That's me right now.   I have a measly little 2.5 miles left to knock off that milestone, so I think that today (lunch run, or after work) I will go out and knock off a quickie in order to take care of that.

My goal at the beginning of the year was to run 600 miles, or 50 a month.   Knowing that I am 102.5 miles from that goal is an amazing feeling.   I will be knocking out the 600 sometime early next month as I taper for the local marathon at the end of October. I have made no plans for November or December yet, though I will try to keep a solid base so that I can start building up next season.   I will run 4 or so local races during the winter months (5ks mostly).

Ok enough for now.  Have a great day out there and HAVE FUN!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Burnout? Funkytown? How one run helped.

Right now I hate running!   Stay with me, I have a solution.

Hate is too strong a word.   I don't like running.  That's not true, I still like running, I just don't want to run.   Perhaps I just want to do something else with that time.   Perhaps, I took too many days off in the last two weeks, a total of 4 runs from August 22 through September 5.  Perhaps it is the rigors of training for a marathon (way harder than I had thought after training for a Half) coupled with rasping a young family (3 yo and newborn).  Whatever the problem is, running seems like work right now, and I don't want to get up and do it, I would rather sleep, play with the kids, try to take care of the house (why is there so much to do?), or play video games.   So with that, and stresses at work, we are starting conceptual design on our project finally, but the company is looking at lay-offs it seems that there are pressures from many sides. 

I imagine that all runners out there have experienced this phenomenon (the I don't want to run phenomenon, Burnout is appropriate I beleive).  Some would say that this is a funk, a stay cation in funkytown if you will.   But it doesn't seem that way to me.   My runs the last couple of weeks have been great (when I wanted to or actually did go do them), I feel fine, I feel strong, my desire is waning

For example, last weekend I took the family on vacation to our cabin in Montana, a great place on Lindbergh Lake.   I ran one time.   Once, for 8 really awesome miles, they really were great.  The road through the forrest was cool when I ran, which had a positive effect on my run (faster than I thought in the higher altitude), very hilly, but an easy trail run on the dirt road at the lake.  I loved being out in nature, and would seriously consider moving out east (or at least to the mountains) to do more trail runs.  But the rest of the weekend I just wanted to relax and enjoy time with my family.   So I did, throwing away a 10 mile run.

Monday night I bought a new video game, Tuesday morning running be darned.   I have been up late playing it for a few nights now, which is the reason I ran yesterday afternoon in the heat.   That run may have actually turned the key for me though.   It was hard, because it was 95* outside and I didn't really want to be running in the first place.   But a funny thing happened during the run, I started thinking about my next run (tomorrow an amount of miles or time to be determined when I get out on the road).  And I have plans to run with my running buddies Saturday and Sunday I am not doing the 14 mile run on Sunday, I would rather go do a shorter run with my friend and enjoy it instead of worrying about trying to cram 6 miles in before I meet up with him. 

So here is the new agenda.   I am going to enjoy running, which means trying to reach mileage as described in my training plan, but not fretting over what type of run it is.   So if the schedule calls for 6 miles of intervals and I don't feel like them, then fine, I will just go try the 6 miles however I feel like.   I will focus on a few key runs, the final 20 mile run I have scheduled for Oct.9 being the last before tapering.   The Half-Marathon rave schedule in two weeks that I am still looking forward to dropping 2 hours on.   And next week's long run, which will be 16-18 miles depending on the week's running and how I feel Sunday.

Things not to worry about, speed, don't know that I am going to improve much speed wise between now and the end of October, especially as this will be my first marathon, and the goal is to finish!  This will give me a goal for next time.   Plus I can look forward to next year and how to train to increase speed over long distances.

So with those three key runs, and a bit of mental toughness, I will be able to complete my first marathon at the end of October  Between now and then, less focus and worry over the miles and training plan, less worry over the house stuff, and more trying to relax during my free time.

So hopefully with this new approach I can get back to running happy. Remember - Have fun out there!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye August

We had such a nice time together.   But boy am I glad that's over with now hopefully, we can find some time to relax in September.
  • The first week we were a bit distracted or tired and took a recovery week.   We also spent time roaming the country side looking for bathrooms, and enjoying a wedding anniversary.   Lowest weekly mileage @ 13.7
  • The second week we spent in a funk.   Blame my wife's 10 year high school reunion, or just that it was time for the funk-a-thon, whatever it was at least it was short lived.   I pushed through the agony and the desire to avoid running by putting in my longest weekly mileage to day @ 29.5. 
  • The third week we celebrated running for a whole year.   We did this by banging out 5 the day I started running.   We also celebrated by running an impromptu Half-marathon at a faster pace than I have run that long of a distance.   A great week of running, but one without the bustle of added activities. Mileage 28.5
  • Perhaps the most tumultuous week was the fourth of the month.   The changed schedule from the week before leading to a missed speed workout leading to a 5.5 mile run with no aim (looking back I loved that run).  Then the first shot at 20 miles, which ended up being 18 in light of trying to stay hydrated. My 10 year high school reunion, golf and a picnic on the hottest day of the year here.   The missed chance to make it to 100 for the month by trying to sleep off the grogginess.   And fantasy football draft.   Glad I moved the long run to Friday - weekly mileage 23.6.
  • The last three days of the month spent recovering from last week while preparing for a trip this weekend.   Finally got in those 5 miles needed to reach the 100 mile mark for the month.   A great tempo workout this morning with a really speedy mile at the end just for good measure, perhaps the best run of the month.   That is the best way to leave the month behind.
Turns out this month wasn't too bad.   Though it was busy, and I am certainly looking forward to the more relaxing month of September
Total Monthly Miles - 100.3 my first triple digit month. Hopefully the start of something great.
Have fun out there guys!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Easy or Pointless?

Do you ever feel like you are out for a 'training' run that has no point.   This morning I went out for a run, it ended up being 5.5 miles, but it was kind of aimless.   It wasn't a recovery after a long run or intervals, it wasn't a tempo run, it wasn't really anything other than a nice easy run.   Let me explain how I got here.

Last Thursday, I was still very much in go for a run mode (last Thursday was a rest/x-train day).  So with that feeling in mind I decided to move my long run from Sunday up to Friday, and increase the mileage on it from 12 to 13.  Normally I don't move long runs around, but with every other Friday off and the fact that my running partner had plans for the weekend, I decided to go ahead and move it up to try to get more done at the house this weekend.

So last Friday I got up, grabbed a couple of bills that could be dropped off along my route and set off on my run.   I was breezing along at a sub-9 pace for the first three miles before making my first stop to drop off the power bill.   Then back through town to drop off the water bill (a whopping 1.5 miles separates them).  After that stop I ventured across the bridge, where I startled two deer, and up along the busy road/highway into the neighboring city.   After a wait at the light to cross the bypass highway, I ran a few blocks to make the turn towards my in-law's house.   I was at 7 miles in just over an hour, not my fastest 7 miles, but still was right on a 9m/m pace.   I cruised along down towards the river stopping at several stop lights along the way.   I pulled up to the river path after 9 miles and was now just behind the 9m/m pace (stupid stop lights).  Just 4 more miles to go, so I followed the path down the river, and eventually up to one of the local high schools, where instead of returning on the path, I decided to run around the school and back towards my in-law's, my stopping spot.   The whole run was awesome, a 13.2 mile run in 2:01, which was 4 minutes faster than my previous best in the 13.1 distance.   So I counted this as a double type run, a long run, run faster (almost a minute/mile) than my normal long run speeds.   So really a long, tempo run.  

Move ahead two days.   Sunday I finally got to meet up with my other running partner, who's wife just had a baby 10 days ago.   Needless to say I hadn't seen him in a while.   I ran my warm-up mile over to his place then ran a nice easy 4+ with him, stopping briefly to see the new arrival,   then headed back to my place, for an easy 7 miles (same pace as the 13.2 two days prior).

Monday, is a typical rest day, so I looked at the schedule, trying to decide how to tackle the speed work and the 20 miler on deck for the week.   I decided to move the speed session to Tuesday, and the long run to Friday with an easy recovery today and Sunday   I am taking the end of the week off to hang out with an old high school friend and go to our reunion which is my primary reason for moving the runs around.   Then I was up late on Monday, and slept through my time to run yesterday.   So between everything else going on (getting the house ready for my friend, book club, work) I skipped the workout completely.  Which left me with today.

I want to do that speed session, but I didn't want to do it too close to the 20 miler as it is my first attempt at running 20 miles.   I was afraid of burning out and not having enough energy Friday, something I did two weeks ago before attempting 18 miles (ending up with 16.2).  So there you have it.   I was left with a shorter recovery type run on the schedule this morning, and opposed to trying to pick up the speed on it, or increase distance, or get that speed session in, I just ran.   I like to think that all runs have a purpose, and today's ended up being a run for the sake of running.   Deep down I know that the run has a purpose, I am after all still out exercising, but I feel that I lacked focus this morning, just logging miles for the sake of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Runniversary, The Why I Run Story

It all started with a thought.   A simple thought that I could motivate my overweight butt, climb off the couch and run a 5k.  GULP! This is 3.1 miles, the longest I have run or walked in years, especially run, which I hadn't done since high school.   So during my vacation last July/August, I told my wife that I wanted to run the Cable Bridge run here in Kennewick/Pasco, WA.  A simple idea of actually running the 5k.  It was when she told her parents that I felt like was on the hook to do this, like I was committed to doing something I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to do in the first place. 

The Backstory:

I, like so many others, slowly climbed the hill to overweight, little by little, year after year.   I basically stopped all physical activity after high school, as I began working my first real job (retail) and going to the local Community College.   The easiest way to eat was through the drive through, and not the healthy stuff, the good tasting fatty stuff.   This problem continued on through out my 4 years at WSU.  I did eat better (thanks to my wife), but not that much better, the challenges of being in an engineering program mean that food fits around school.   So again, it was fast food heaven. 

After graduation, we moved to New Mexico  I worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.   We were a bit better about home cooked meals, but the exercise was still non-existent, with the exception of a few 30 minutes walks at night whenever I felt good enough to go for a walk.   I assume that my weight stayed fairly constant through out these 6 to 8 years, though in all fairness, I either refused to get on the scale and find out, or didn't care enough to start a change.  A year after moving to NM, my first son was born.   We continued our walking, but never were consistent with it enough to forge a change.   I became gradually more complacent as the rigors of raising a family and working 6 days a week grew upon me.   The fact that my parents were discussing divorce during the summer of '08 didn't help the frustration level.
Either late in my tenure at WSU, or early on after we moved to NM, my mom was diagnosed as prediabetic.  I mild eye-opener, as my mom's weight issues have fluctuated throughout my life, trying diet fads and all sorts of things, but not exacting a lifestyle change.   This still wasn't enough to make me change the way I ate or how I treated my body.

When I got a new job that took us back to Washington State, I was becoming more aware of my seemingly unhealthy lifestyle.   We had been back in Washington for about 9 months when my parents decided that things couldn't be reconciled and began the official proceedings (Jan '10).  I buried this within me as I usually bury things I don't want to worry or think about.   Then a few months later, already worried about my dad and how he was taking things, he told me that he had also been diagnosed as pre diabetic as well.   This got me to thinking, really hard about my future, and making sure I was going to be part of my kid's future too.   But in May of 2010 I still wasn't ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle, exercising was still out of the question, and I like eating way too much to change that part of my life. 

Running Start:

As the weight of my parent's lifestyle choices and medical diagnosis started settling in, I reached a conclusion that I needed to start changing my life for the better.   So what could I do to change my lifestyle?   I remembered that I had a pail or Adidas running shoes that I had purchased in 2005 or 2006, as a futile attempt to become active while in college.   At this time, Mid-July 2010, I told my wife my that I was going to start running with the goal of running the Cable Bridge Run 5k in December  So, at dinner one evening, she told her parents.   Now I felt as if I was on the hook to start, though I still wasn't sure I wanted to.   I did what I always do when I start a new activity or want to find information, I hit the internet and settled on a plan.   Now I just needed to find the motivation.

I made a deal saying that I would start when we got back from vacation, which put my start running date the second week of August.   After vacation and some work around the house, running day arrived.   I however, took a snooze, and slept on past the time to get up and run.   I still wasn't ready to commit, either to waking up or running.   I kept pushing the start off.   The following week, I again didn't get up Monday morning, so I made a decision, Tuesday I was going to get up, no matter how I felt and get out and run.   Finally, Tuesday, August 17, I awoke at 5:15, went over to the middle school track and started my running life.

The Plan:

I don't undertake anything lightly, I didn't want to take on a plan that was going to be too strenuous, to the point that I was going to burn out.   So I hit the internet searching for a manageable C25k plan. After looking at what seems like a ton of plans I settled on a run/walk plan that called for 30 minutes of exercise 3 days a week.   The plan called for one minute of running to seven minutes of walking repeated three times that first week.   I figured that I could drive to the track, walk a five minute warm-up, then start on the running portion.  That first week was hard, but I had pushed myself to 1.5 minutes of continuous running by the end of the week.  

The plan increased weekly, adding 1 minute of running while subtracting 1 minute of walking.   The third week added a fourth set of run/walking, so that I was now up to a grand total of 35 minutes of activity.   I was using the Wii Fit to track weight and do some cross-training, but I found that it was adding stress to parts of my body, so I abandoned that and switched to using the stationary bike for cross-training.   By the end of September I was up to a continuous 10-12 minutes, but seemed to be at a plateau.   I eventually pushed passed this, and by October I had managed to push myself to two continuous miles.   There wasn't any doubt in my mind that I could complete a 5k event.

I completed three 5k events between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.   The Thanksgiving day and New Year's day 5k I ran the whole distance.   The Cable Bridge run was a bit more difficult, as it snowed the night before hand, and was still snowing at start time.   This was a heavy, wet snow which slowed down conditions on the areas where the roads weren't yet plowed.   I remember cruising through the first two miles of that race, before hitting a wall.   I was suddenly very tired, and had to try to plow through snow.   Maintaining pace was difficult.   In then end I was able to find strength and ran the last half mile to the finish, completing the race for which I had trained.   There was a huge sense of accomplishment that I had been able to change my lifestyle as well as complete something like running 3 miles, which I had not done ever perhaps.

A Year of Lessons:
  • Change is hard - To start running after 10 years of a sedentary lifestyle is one of the hardest things I have over done.
  • Rome wasn't built in a day - It took me three months to go from stationary, couch potato to running a 5k.  It has taken me almost a year to get to running 16 miles.   Asked last year if I would have trained or signed up for a marathon, I would have told you that you were crazy.
  • Running is unique to the person - What motivates us individually varies.   Some people run to win, others to PR, some just for the joy it brings.   Whatever your motivation, enjoy it.
  • There are Bad Days - And they suck. They make you question why you do this in the first place.   I look at is a pre-payment for that great run you are about to have.
  • Then there are Awesome days - These are those days that training, or the circumstances all align for and make you realize just why you keep running.
  • Training plans are good - They provide goals, and help manage daunting tasks.   Focusing on today's run is far easier than looking at the whole goal.   Plus they teach flexibility.
  • Listen to your body - The body and mind know when to rest, listen to them and they won't lead you wrong. That training plan isn't set in stone.
The numbers:
  • I ran 515 miles in the year since I started running.
  • I have run 415 miles since January 1, 2011
  • Five 5k races with a PR of 23:00
  • Two 10k races with a PR of 51:39
  • One (Fake) Half Marathon - 2:05
  • 41 lbs lost.
The Final Lesson:

Running was worth it. I started running as a way to get active to start taking better care of my body.   It was something that I decided I wanted to do. I didn't do it as a way to lose weight, or a way to show that I could accomplish a 5k, then give it up.  I wanted it to be a change that I could do for the long haul.   This is probably why I was so successful at continuing to run.   I won't complain about the side effects.   I noticed an immediate shift in the way I approached food.   I was now eating until I was full, trying to watch how many calories I consumed, what those calories were.   I lost 25 pounds in the first three months of running, and had more energy too.   I think that the most important thing about my lifestyle change, is that my sons see that I am an active person.   I will keep running for them, in hopes that they lead a healthy active lifestyle.   But I will keep running mostly for me, because I want to be around to see them and their families.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I took my DW wife to the running store last Friday, in order to pick out a new pair of shoes.  Now, I suppoes that my intentions were twofold.  First I wanted her to get a good pair of shoes if she is going to start getting active again now that the baby is here.  Second, I wanted to look at new shoes (read: try out the Kinvara 2).

The guys at the store are awesome.  They runyou through all the normal tests, stand on each foot, walk back and forth, then recommend a shoe.  First, they grabbed her a pair of Adidas and had her move around in those.  After a few minutes, she told him what she felt in those and then he went to the back and worked his shoe finding magic, brought back 4 new pair.  She eventually narrowed it down to a pair of Sauconys and the Asics GT-2160.  After trying both shoes, she settled on the Asics. Thankfully she absolutely loves these shoes.  Now she just needs to go try them out before we set up a training plan for her. 

In the meantime, I asked to try on the Kinvara 2s.  Let me tell you,  I was so excited to try these bad boys on and take them for a test run.  So out of the store I went for a quick little lap.  They felt great, light and airy, like I could take off, fast.  But, there is almost always a but, they rubbed funny.  What is this, why do the tops of my feet hurt?  Nuts, these aren't going  to work for me.  I can't justify running shoes that rub my feet, no matter how light and airy they seem.  I was major bummed, becauase I was dreaming of these shoes.  Back into the store I went and told my sad story.  They brought out 4 more pair for me to try on.  I decidede on the Brooks Launch.  These are nice, light, but not as airy, shoes, that felt great on my feet.  I should have known, I love my other Brooks shoes.  My wife was impressed that I had the where-with-all to recognize a problem with the shoes, and not  be sold on their awesomeness.  Like I said, if I am going to run 400ish miles in them, they better fit right.  So with the purchase of new shoes in hand, I have officially retired my first pair of shoes, a pair of Adidas with 285 known miles on them.  They were starting to hurt my feet on even short runs.  The new shoes will Launch Tuesday, with and easy run (pun most definitely intended) before they take over interval/tempo runs. 

Speaking of intervals, Friday called for 12x400 with 2 minute recoveries.  The first 8 sets were awesome, the energy was there to lightly jog between each interval. But by set 9, I was drained.  Now the intervals themselves were are all run at roughly the same time, within three seconds of each other, but the final four sets I walked the recoveries so that I could push through.  The average for the intervals was an aweseom 1:34, the fastest being at 1:31 and the slowest at 1:38, a great little workout.

Now, for whatever reason, that great workout didn't translate to a great long run Sunday.  I am guessing that between the hard intervals, the early morning Thursday, or the DW reunion Saturday night, the long run wanted to kick my butt.  And it did, I had no desire to get out of bed, but the knowledge that my friend was going to meet me for 10 later drove me to get it started.  Needless to say, I awoke 30 minutes too late to get the 8 in before hand.  So I decided to try to get 16 in.  I got to the park at 6:40 and knew it was going to be tough.  A very slow 6 miles later, and I met my friend, wanting to stop, so it was good he was there.  We headed out for another 6, slowly, then passed the cars again on our way to finish out his 10 with another 4.  This 16 was bad, it was slow, it was long, it was tiring, to an already tired body.  It ended up being a 16.2 mile run in 2:47, eek.  That was 15 minutes worse than my last 16 mile run.  Oh well.  Sometimes you gotta prepay for that amazing run with a few bad ones. 

Pics of shoes will be up soon.

Have fun out there guys.