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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


So, one of the people from the Loop (Angie) shared a game with those of us hanging on the Loop over at RunnersWrold.  Here is my take, at eleven questions and things you may not have known about me.

It took me all day, mostly because I spent the better part of the day in meetings (minus the run at lunch, a nice 3.6 miles)  but also because I couldn't get the arrangement to stay in one place.  I really liked trying to come up with the 11 things that you guys didn't know about me.  It has been fun getting to know everyone on the loop just a little bit more.  Without further ado, here are my answers and facts.

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?Dreyer's Nestle' Toll House Chocolate Chip Mint Brownie Ice Cream if we are going to be specific.  Or just about any ice cream if we aren't.
Fact: I lived in Egypt for 2 years when I was in middle school.  No, my family wasn't in the military, but rather construction, so we moved around a lot.  While there we got to go to Kenya for a safari, Greece, and a couple of other places in Europe. 

2. Saucony Kinvara or a shoe from the Brooks Pure line, like the Connect of Flow?I tried the Kinvaras on one day at the LRS and found that they pinched the tops of my feet.  Ended up with a pair of Brooks Launch, so next time I'm at the LSR I will look at the Brooks Pure Line.
Fact: I tried out for basketball as a freshman and sophomore only miss the cut both times.  I found my calling was in the theater department, where I acted or was stage manager for several shows.  Typically I was stage manager for musicals, as I have a terrible singing voice.  My favorite play was "Out of the Frying Pan. ""  I did one more play in community college but that is where my acting career ended (I would do it again in an instant, if I had the time).

3. Where would you go if you had the money to take a two week dream vacation?If it was going to be just me and my wife, I would say I want to wander around Europe and visit all the old castles and other historical stuff there.  If I am taking the kids along with me I have to go with Disney World, it stands out as one of the best vacations I took with my family when I was little.
 Fact:  Throughout high school I had told everyone that I wanted to go to dental school and become an orthodontist  I had envisioned being able to practice dentistry and be able to play golf all the time.  Apparently, some where along the way I decided I didn't want to be in school that long.

4. Did you play sports in high school? If so, what sports?In high school, I played golf...for one season, as a senior.  I played baseball recreationally until I was a junior.  Of course I watched (still do) tons of games in school, and found my love of officiating there (those that can't do and don't want to coach, officiate).
Fact:  My wife and I went to separate high schools in the same city, then spent two years at the local community college before finally meeting two months after we started at WSU.  Of course we got married the summer before out last year at WSU.  I am a firm believer that some things happen for a reason. 

5. If you had to eat one item of food every day (you could eat other things, but you had to eat this one food too) for the rest of your life, what would you choose?Cheesy Potatoes.  Preferably covered in bacon.
Fact:  The two years after high school, I had thoughts of becoming a professional umpire.  I decided that would be a very cool job, you get to travel and be part of something as awesome as being part of Major League Baseball.  Some time after I started at WSU I decided that professional umpiring wasn't right for me, probably had to do with the difficulty in moving up through the minor league system.  Of course I still umpire, and referee basketball, and am happy to do so at the high school level and below.

6. Do you have a favorite professional runner?I don't really follow a whole lot of running pros, so I am going to pass until I really know more.
Fact:  I finally decided to combine my two favorite subjects in school, math and chemistry, into a degree program.  I earned a BS in Chemical Engineering, and now work as a Project Engineer doing only mildly chemically related engineering work. 

7. What is one running item you would find it hard to run without?The smart answer is my feet I am really sensitive when it comes to my feet so I baby them.  Without good shoes to protect them I don't think I could run as far as often as I do.  (Though I have found lots of things that make running better)
Fact:  I am a super nerd.  Though I don't have time to play video games like I used to, I do find that I have time to play games like D&D.  I guess that playing D&D lets me go back to being an actor a bit.  We also play several board games such as Arkham Horror (based on H. P. Lovecraft stories) to pass our evenings.

8. Are you a morning runner or afternoon/evening runner? Is this by choice? And if it's not by choice, when would you choose to run: morning or afternoon/evening?Given my druthers, I would run at 11 AM every day.  On the weekends, and in the heat of the summer, I am a morning runner by choice and force.  I cannot run in the evening unless I really need to get a run in.
Fact:  In an accompaniment to the D&D and board games, I love a good fantasy or sci-fi series.  The longer the series the better, I am like a little kid with candy when I see a new book in a series I have been reading for a long time.  I also enjoy the mystery/drama stuff like Patterson's Cross series (the quick and easy to read books when you have nothing else to read).  I have found that I really enjoy Stephen King books, and am slowly going back through his collection.   

9. What are your big races this year?Bloomsday 12k in Spokane in May.  San Francisco Marathon in July.  And if all works out well I will do the local marathon at the end of October.
Fact:  My wife and I are part of a book club.  Which has really helped take me out of my normal book reading comfort zone and helped me to find some great books and authors to read.  Though whenever it is my turn to pick I always want to pick from what I know. 

10. Are you also a triathlete?Nope, not yet anyway.  I ride the stationary bike occasionally, and wish I had a pool to swim in.  One day I hope to tackle at least a short tri.
Fact:  I thought about making these facts tie into the answers to the questions somehow, but decided that was never going to work.  So instead I decided to make it a bit more of a chronological history of myself.  So finally I have two boys, a 3 yo and a 7mo.  I love them to pieces and I try not to do anything that takes time away from them. 

11. What do you like better: intense speed work, tempo runs, or long runs?I like settling into that nice groove that only a long run with a couple good running buddies can provide.  That said the completion of a good speed session is exhilarating. 
 Fact:  Oh, there was one more here.  I had to rearrange this blog at RunnersWorld about 12 times.  But I was smarter, I did it in word too. 

Indian Summer Half Marathon last September.

T Helping me stretch last spring.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Freezing Fog Long Run

I had so much going on this weekend, as usual, so here I am Monday morning getting my thoughts down.

Last Wednesday I ran 4.5 miles, on what were very sore, very tired legs, capping 9 consecutive days of running type activity (basketball/running).  That run was nothing more than a get through it and be done, ho-hum run.  I had intended to do 5 miles, but after two miles I realized that I should probably have only done 3, so I settled for 4.5.  That run convinced me that Thursday needed to be a rest day.

Friday and Saturday were my final two basketball games of the season.  Both were JV games that came down to the wire.  It is always more fun to officiate a game that is close and exciting, I think it brings out the best in an official.  The most important thing, though, is that basketball season is over.  I had a great season, but it was tiring and I need a break.  I can now return to my regularly scheduled running plan, at least for 6 weeks when baseball season starts.

Now on to the Freezing Fog.  Honestly, I figured my chances at winter were done, past, gone, what have you, but this weekend, as the Lower-Columbia Basin is wont to do, an inversion settled in over our lovely area.  You know where you get a weather system that moves in and gets stuck so you constantly turn over the same tepid air, well, that's us this weekend.  Our inversion, was confused by the sunlight during the day, and dense fog at night.  I was prepared for the fog, seeing as it had been foggy all weekend, I wasn't prepared for freezing fog (though the 27* temp should have clued me in).

Sunday morning I awoke an hour before my run in order to do that eating thing that is supposed to be important before a long run, and to take care of business.  I dressed in a long sleeve tech shirt and fleece vest, and long pants, but left the compression tights at home it was just slightly below freezing after all.  I also strapped on the safety vest and my new fuel belt.  Got out to the car, chipped off the ice, and went to meet up with my running partner G.

We took off with his pup for the first three miles of the eight mile run.  Once out on the streets we found a good groove and were moving along nicely.  G had planned the route, but wasn't quite sure which roads he had selected for the 8, but knew it went through my neighborhood then back through his and to our normal loop.  So I directed us until we go back to his place to drop off the pooch.  I was a nice 3 miles, and I went through several adjustments on the fuel belt.  I had the hardest time getting the bottles to stay in one place, and it wasn't until I pushed them to the middle of my back that I got them to stay in place.  I actually found that I didn't mind having them back there, I also noticed that once the bottles were about half full, that I didn't really hear that annoying sloshing sound which was nice.

The last 5 miles of the run were uneventful and pleasant.  We were running at a leisurely pace (9ish m/m) and just enjoying the fog and the run.  We both had a gel around mile 4, helped with energy, but not so much with the sore, heavy legs.  Tested the water bottles out at several places along the run.  As we were nearing the last couple of miles we noticed several things:  1) The water in my nearly empty bottle had turned to slush (I figured with all that movement it would be easy to stay liquid); 2) The fog was sticking to anything it possibly could, my eyelashes were the most notable, every blink water would drop onto my face; 3) We were able to actually see the fog freezing and falling in front of us; and 4) I had an awesome ice do where my hair stuck out of my ear warmer.  (Sorry no awesome hair pics as the phone was not cooperating with the camera function.

It was a good run and a nice way to cap off an exhausting week.  This week should be easier now that basketball is over.  Back to my regular scheduled speed and hill work as I build up for marathon training.
Until next time, have fun out there.