Sunday, October 30, 2005

This week's workouts

2 great weeks in a row. I ran 3 days this week with Wednesday being the highlight for me. Since getting over this recent post-ankle surgery hump, I have relegated myself to a very light comeback routine that spends several weeks with easy walk/run workouts. I'm following the PIM (Power in Motion) plan for the Aerobics group which is the A group of the ABCDEFGB groups (Never did know why the group above Gu is Backup. Shouldn't it be Hills or something?).

I've been a good boy and have followed my plan patiently but on Wednesday, my PIM group was running 3 miles for the first time. WTG Aerobics!!! I felt really good and wanted to do some continuous running so I set out to do 1 mile running out and walk back that same mile. I was joined along the way by ISS Doub Spence. He graciously listened to the whole ankle story and we talked shop a little. It was a lot of fun and it kept me converstional. I completed the 1 mile run in 15 minutes. That's not bad for me, just starting over and all. I was pleased. The run and the walk back were pain-free, at least where the ankle was concerned. It was nice to feel some fatigue and to feel my body loosen up in other areas instead of all my attention being on that stupid ankle. And it was a great feeling to be a little sore the next day.

Thursday, I did some weights at the gym. I did some leg work which I haven't really been able to do for a long time. I was very sore going into Friday but did a 10x(1R/1W) workout anyway. Saturday was very sore. It was sooooooo nice!!! to finally feel like I've done some exercise.

I ended my week tonight with another 10x(1R/1W) which felt absolutely awesome!!! I'm hesitant to really get excited because every step of improvement along the way has been met with some kind of setback but I'm very optimistic about this one. I really feel like I've topped the hill and provided I don't overdo it, can finally get back on the road.


For those of you that may believe that bloggers are really self-absorbed braggers that just like to see their name in print, let me take this opportunity to totally humilate myself with a situation I'm going through.

Back in September I took interest in a volunteering opportunity providing CPR/AED support for HARRA sponsored races. I attended (and passed) the course and have signed up for a couple of races this fall. Now, here's the humiliating part. After the class was over and each of us were crowned with our certification cards, very nice, bright yellow t-shirts were issued. Well, the largest size available was XL which I pretended at the time would surely fit me. Well, I definitely need a 2X as the XL is way too tight. It's really embarrassing as I sure many would look at me as suggest that I may be the one who would need CPR.

If this story seems like a real downer, it's not at all. Actually, that XL t-shirt has been a real inspiration to me. It's currently sitting on my dresser and every few days I try it on to see how it's going. I can tell a little bit of difference from last month but I still have a long way to go. As extra incentive I went ahead and signed up for a couple of races coming up in November and December and I'm determined to get into that shirt. I'm gonna do it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Shoe haiku

September's issue of Runner's World announced a haiku contest where contestants were to write a shoe haiku. The winner would win a year's supply of running shoes. Of the 2,000 responses, here's the winner:

I love running shoes
Husband does not understand
Must get new husband
-Janis McDowell, Edmonton, AB

LOL!!! I love it! I must say though that of the other great submissions appearing in the December isssue, none are of the quality of those submitted for the Houston Striders' haiku contest back in December '04. I'll try to find the link to that newsletter where all the Strider's haiku were printed.

New stuff and old stuff

As I've mentioned before, I'm really behind on my blogging. I'm so far behind that I don't think I will be able to catch up. It's often the case that I go to my blog with the intention of writing and end up just going to everyone else's blogs and reading all the great stuff going on like Holden's new 5K PR, Cassie's new Half marathon training program, Lisa carbo loading for the Marine Corps Marathon, Jen, like me, just trying to catch up with her bloggin', Sarah running and working on her portfolio, Jessica running strong at HARRA's Practice for the Tour cross country race and getting FAST!!!, Edwin bloggin' the astros game and getting our awesome forum up and running, Steve logging some serious weekly miles (btw, I'd pay much more than $0.00 for, Sam (Day Dreamer), striving to 'hang with those top guys' (we're all trying to hang with you, Sam), Keith battling his subluxed cuboid, getting ready for the New York City Marathon, Joe getting in an awesome 13+ mile training run last week and planning on smoking the RTW 5K course with the rest of the bloggers on 12/10, and of course Jon, keeping us abreast of everything running from race reports to HARRA board meeting minutes to houston bloggers's news and much more. So, you see, by the time I catch up with all my buds, I'm either out of time to post to my own blog or its time to make the rounds again 'cause everyone's so diligent to post even more stuff. I can't keep up with all this. lol!!!

So, going back a few weeks, I'm going to summarily catch up as quickly as possible:

  • A few weeks a go, the new digital scale arrived at my doorstep that I ordered from I'm not a big scale worshipper but I when I'm dieting, I like to weigh once or twice a week to see where I am. Well, I popped the batteries in the scale and hopped on for a ride. Much to my surprise and delight, I had lost about 13 of the 30 lbs that I gained after my surgery. I had not weighed in a long time and actually did not believe the scale. I was just about ready to return it but went over to my doctor's office to verify and sure enough, it was the same. So, that was very encouraging.
  • I got one last steroid shot in my ankle, a little higher up this time. It really knocked out the last bit of pain that was keeping me from running and doing rehab effecvtively. Last week, if I remember correctly, I ran 5 days with a total mileage for the week of of 6.5 miles. On Wednesday of this week, I was brave and did 1 mile continuous running. I did one mile out running and walked back for a total of 2 miles. I did some weights on Thursday and am very sore. It's been a long time and it feels great.
  • I need to post later about the great time S and I had at marathonkids last weekend. What a great program and I saw a bunch of Striders there volunteering. More on this later

There's so much more but I gotta go to bed now.
God Bless!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

RRCA Convention in the Chronicle

Ha, Ha Jon. I beat you to it. And don't go fudging the time and date when you post this! hehe Actually, Steve beat us all, posting on Stride4Fun.

Striders put Bayou City on national running map
Club will host March convention alongside 10K race
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Houston's running community is on pace to gain some national exposure next year when the Road Runners Club of America holds its annual convention here.

The March 8-12 event is timed to coincide with the H-E-B Bayou City Classic on March 11, which has been designated the 2006 National 10K Championship.

The Houston Striders running club will host the convention, which will attract several hundred race directors and club administrators.

"We wanted to bring the convention here to show off Houston and Houston's running community and what goes on here," said Doug Spence, a Houston Strider who's helping organize the event.

Convention participants will have several chances to tour the city — on foot, as you'd expect from a group of runners.

In addition to the Bayou City Classic, they will run on the USA National Cross Country Championship course along Allen Parkway, ride Metrorail to run around Rice University and Hermann Park, and take a walk through downtown's tunnel system.

They will also share information on such topics as race management, course certification and how to write a club newsletter. While the workshops will address technical matters, anyone is welcome to register for the convention, and the public is invited to attend the running expo that will be held in conjunction with it.

Keynote speakers will include Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, and Roger Robinson, the author of Heroes and Sparrows: a Celebration of Running and Running in Literature.

The nonprofit RRCA is the national umbrella organization of more than 700 running clubs with 175,000 members across the country.

For more details, check out or e-mail Steve Shepard, the south Texas state representative for RRCA, at

Monday, October 24, 2005

Negative Splits and Training???

Since I first started training last year with PIM (Power in Motion) I've heard over and over from PIM coaches and others to aim for a negative split on training runs and races. Of course, a negative split is defined as running the second half of a course faster than the first half. From the little I have read about training, in particular aerobic base building (what every beginner should be doing, IMHO exclusively), negative splits would not be in order for training runs.

If I am maintaining a consistent effort over the course of a run (e.g. 70% maxHR), then my pace would most certainly decrease over the last half of the run as I fatigue. At the very best, it stays the same. I believe it is best to keep a consistent effort through a training run, not a consistent or increasingly faster pace. That being the case, you should see your mile split slow as you get closer to finishing. Otherwise, if you are trying to maintain your pace or run a faster pace you effort is certainly increasing and may begin to go more anaerobic which builds up LA and brings on fatigue even faster.

To me, the purpose of negative splits in racing is not necessarily to ensure you go faster over the 2nd half of the race. Rather it is to ensure you do not go too fast over the 1st half of the race.

I'm really curious about this. Why do negative splits in a training run? This post may be better suited for the forum so that there can be some discussion on this. Feel free to comment here or go on over to the forum. I'll post the question there, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday morning 10/23

Another 7x(1R/2W), pain-free run. An awesome thing was that my daughter joined me and had a great time. She's kind of getting interested in running for a few reasons. One, she was able to meet Jon's daughter, W, last week at the 20K and found out that she runs and is training for a half-marathon. S thinks that's cool. Also, S participated in a program put on by City of Houston through the HISA Physical Ed programs at the local schools called marathonkids. I'll report on this in anohter post but briefly, it's a program where kids run a marathon a little bit (.25 miles or a bit more) at a time until they've run an entire marathon. It was a cool celebration Saturday morning and I'm looking forward later today to reporting on it.

Also, I'm adding 600m (1.5 laps at the Rice U track) to my weekly mileage. I ran this yesterday with S at marathonkids. I wouldn't mention this little more than a quarter mile but it's significant in that it was a continuous run and the longest continuous run for me in a long, long time. Sad but true.

So the unimpressive but encouraging (for me) and pain-free stats are:

Distance: 1.3 miles
Run: 7x(1R/2W)
Temp: 75 deg
Weekly distance so far: 6.5 miles

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday morning run

So sorry for the inactivity on the blog for the past week or two but I've been a bit contemplative/frustrated/hopeful/anxious lately about my weight/running/ankle/nutrition...yada, yada, yada. More on this later. For now I'm reporting that I had a wonderful time this morning doing one of my favorite things to do in the world. That would be an early Saturday morning run at Memorial Park.

I know 5:45am isn't 'early' for a lot of folks and in the past I, too, have been on the track much earlier. But I only had a 21 minute run/walk planned this morning so I didn't get too zealous about how early I got out there. It was a beautiful, cool morning at Memorial Park (about 55 deg by, Houston). After stretching and hitting the men's room, I had a GREAT!!, pain-free run. I did 7x(1R/2W) starting at the tennis center, heading clockwise toward the PIM meeting area for a little over a half mile, and back. I definitely could have gone faster/farther but I'm sticking with my philosophy that for a beginner like me, musculoskeletal strength/fitness lags behind aerobic ability/fitness. So, I believe that even though my legs, lungs, and heart may be ready for more, my bones, joints, and especially ankle are probably not. So, I'm sticking with the plan, which, now that I'm able to follow and probably will be able to see through to completion, I will try to post on the blog today or tomorrow.

It was really great to see fellow Strider, Joan O'Connor, out there. Joan was just finishing up her Team in Training 3-miler as I was beginning my run. She gave a fantastic word of encouragement, as any good PIM coach would. Thanks Joan.

So the unimpressive but encouraging (for me)and pain-free stats are:

Distance: 1.2 miles
Run: 7x(1R/2W)
Temp: 55 deg
Weekly distance so far: 4.8 miles

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Could this be the day?

The sun rises on the day that the Astros go to the World Series!!! C'mon guys. Let's get 'em.

RW's Insider's Guide to the Marine Corps Marathon

For Lisa and Chris, Doug and anyone else who might be interested, I found these few tips for the Marine Corps Marathon in the November issue of Runner's World magazine. This may be old news to a lot of you marathon vets but I thought it was interesting and hopefully helpful.

  • Get Support - The Marine Corps Marathon may be the most spectator-friendly course of any large marathon. It's very easy for your friends and family to see you five times with some brief walks across the Potomac and maybe a Metro stop or two. Check the spectator guide on the race web site for the best vantage points.
  • Beware the two starts - For the 30th anniversary this year, registration was expanded to 30K. To accommodate the race's largest field ever, organizers have instituted a two-wave starting system. Teh first wave, denoted "scarlet," starts at 8:15 a.m. The second, "gold," starts at 8:45 a.m. Your wave will be indicated in your e-confirmation card as well as yon your race number.
  • Go out easy - The opening two miles are hilly, so be extra careful not to go out too quickly. Back off on the uphills and you'll make up for it on the downhills. So don't worry if you're a little off-pace those first few miles.
  • Prepare to take the bridge - The 14th Street Bridge at mile 20 is the toughest part of the course. There's no shade, no water, not many people. It's about a a mile and a half of dead space. Take a gel at the 19-mile water stop (you can pick one up at 12.5 miles). That burst of energy-and the knowledge that you've now got only six miles to go-should get you across.
  • Say thank you - All the young men and women who shepherd you through the finish line are lieutenants from the Marine Corp's officer school at neaby Quantico, VA. They're all young and enthusiastic. When they drape the finisher's medal on you, say "Thank you, Lieutenant." They'll be happily surprised you know who they are.
  • Find out more - Check out the Marine Corps Marathon's new virtual map, which enables you to zoom in on any part of the course.

Can't wait to hear all the great race reports.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

Additional headlines from last weekend

It has come to my attention that in mentioning all of the great training runs and races brought about by the beautiful weather last weekend that I failed to give kudos to the very fast and highly decorated Edwin Quarles from Angelton, founder and administrator of the newly acclaimed Edwin enjoyed a 3 hour and 15 minute run in 50-60's temps on Sunday after bringing home hardware from the his awesome performance the day before at the Brazosport Memorial Hospital 5K. WTG, Edwin!!! Sorry I left you out.

10/10 - 10/14 - nutrition

For the most part, I was very good through the week. Most importantly, I stayed away from the sweets and did a decent job not letting myself get too hungry and not eating too much at any single meal/snack.

Monday 10/10

4:30pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
1/2 cup of steel cut oats
1/2 cup 2% milk
fresh raspberries
coffee (with artificial sweetener)
Comfort Zone (after): 3
Wish I had some skim milk but no biggie!

8:30pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
filet mignon
roasted asparagus
Comfort Zone (after): 4

Tuesday 10/11

12:50am (snack)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
fresh strawberries w/ artificial sweetener
Comfort Zone (after): 4

3:30am (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
roasted asparagus
whole wheat pasta
ground turkey (browned and drained)
low-fat marinara sauce
Comfort Zone (after): 3

7:00pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 1
2 eggs (fried in olive oil spray)
canadian bacon
Granny Smith apple
Comfort Zone (after): 3
When I woke up today at 3:00pm, I found that I was out of eggs. I did not eat anything until I was able to get to the store and get some eggs. That's why I got so hungry (comfort zone: 1). Need to plan ahead a little better. No biggie.

11:45pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
filet mignon
brown rice
sugar free jell-o (Yummy and only 10 cals!)
Comfort Zone (after): 4

Wednesday 10/12

Comfort Zone (before): 2
whole grain pasta
ground turkey (browned and drained)
low-fat marinara sauce
Comfort Zone (after): 4

red globe grapes
Comfort Zone (after): 3

Comfort Zone (before): 2
steel cut oats
skim milk
Comfot Zone (after): 4

Comfort Zone (before): 2
whole grain pasta
ground turkey (browned and drained)
low-fat marinara sauce
Comfort Zone (after): 4

Thursday 10/13

9:00am (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
3 eggs fried in olive oil spray
coffee (with artificial sweetener)
Comfort Zone (after): 3

1:00pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
red globe grapes
Comfort Zone (after): 3

4:50pm (snack)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
roasted pork loin (couple of slices)
Comfort Zone (after): 4

7:30pm (meal)
Comfort Zone: 1
strip steak
beef hot dogs, 2
Comfort Zone: 4
The carnivore in me came out tonight big time. Don't think I did too much damage, though.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sounds like everybody had a great weekend

Man, it was great to read all the posts after this weekend. I know everyone was getting so frustrated with the heat. After so many months, I think it was about to drive just about everyone to the edge. Just in time, before we all ended up in the running looney bin, we had some great weather this weekend. And it was evidenced in runs and races. Here are a few notable quotables:

Lisa wrote 'I have NEVER felt so strong at the end' about her 21-mile training run this weekend. Great confidence builder after her hard gutsy effort at the Space City 10-miler last week.

Joe commented jokingly that he didn't run on Saturday because 'It was too cold!' Very funny, Joe.

Cassie 'almost forgot what cool weather feels like.'

Holden set an awesome 5K PR at the Run the Woodlands 5K on Saturday. Way to go, Holden!!!

Sarah was finally able to get off the dreadmill. She said her run 'was better than in months' and 'I went farther than I've gone since spring.'

Jen's run was 'one of the best I've had in a long time.'

So, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year and hearing all the great race reports, training runs, cross-training, and how bitterly cold everyone is. :)


By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sam!!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday 10/6

7:00am (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
whole wheat pasta
ground turkey (browned and drained)
tomato sauce (store bought, low/no fat)
Comfort Zone (after):4
notes: since my last meal of beef roast, I wasn't hungry for over 8 hours. Strange!!! Guess that meat really has some serious staying power!!!

10:40am (snack)
Comfort Zone (before): 3
Dill Pickle from Murphy's Deli downtown (Yummy!!!)
Diet Coke
Comfort Zone (after):3

1:00pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
2 Roast beef sandwiches:
      roast beef
      regular mayonaise
      4 slices bread
Comfort Zone (after):4
notes: This is definitely a PROBLEM!!! I MUST get it together!!! Still, this is a process and I certainly am not defeated by just one meal. I've been doing well all week. Am I disappointed in myself and embarassed? A little. It it all over? NOT BY A LONG SHOT!!! Note to self...even though everyone in the house likes the fat-full mayonaise, I've got to get it out of the house. What a waste of calories!


It's 61 degrees this morning. It feels soooo good. Now listen up everybody!!! In the morning (Saturday) it's going to be in the 50's. So, I want to hear all the stories of how 'the morning run was the best run of your life.' I've been hearing so much moaning about the hot summer and how everyone hates treadmills and can't wait 'till fall/winter...yada, yada, yada. Well your wishes have come true. So let's go people. RUN HARD! Enjoy. Work hard. And this crippled, wish-I-was-out-there-doin'-a-long-run, runner wannaBe will be standing by to hear all about it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thursday report

Part of why it's so hard for me to follow an inflexible diet is the fact that my work schedule is so crazy. I work the night shift so I'm usually having breakfast in the afternoon and dinner at about 2 in the morning. So, for simplicity's sake, I'm not going to refer to my meals as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'll just refer to them as meal or snack.

Also, as my plan does not include measuring, I won't be including portion size for now. I am tracking what Weight Watchers refers to as 'Comfort Zone' before and after meals/snacks. This just a scale from 0-5, with each level defined as follows.

0 1 2 3 4 5
Very Hungry/ Starving Hungry Getting Hungry Satisfied/ Comfortable Full/ Not at all hungry Very Full/Stuffed

So I will be referring to before and after comfort zones as a measure of the amount of food I've eaten. The object is to stay anywhere from 1-4. That's my 'Comfort Zone'.

Thursday 10/5

4:30pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before): 2
2 eggs (fried in 2 seconds of olive oil spray)
canadian bacon, a few thin slices
coffee (with artificial sweetener)
Comfort Zone (after):3

8:30pm (meal)
Comfort Zone (before):1
Beef chuck roast
Comfort Zone (after:4)
comments: I did not have/take time to make an entire,well-balanced meal. I acutally ate this roast beef while I was preparing my dinner to take to work. I need to plan better although the lean beef didn't hurt me. Also, I let my get too hungry while I was out and about this evening. Gotta watch that.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Not ready for prime time

After 2 rehab sessions, my ankle pain has become a lot worse, pain-wise at least. Last night (Tuesday), I went out to run and was unable go 3 minutes before I had to turn around and pack it in. So, instead of enduring another rehab session this morning, I had a heart-to-heart with the docs at Koala and they seem to think that I may not be ready to rehab. So, were going to do some more passive work and get those stablilizing muscles up to par. They're really in bad shape. Standing on a wobble board, my leg just shakes and I can barely stay up for more than a few seconds without having to brace myself against the wall. So, that's the get the horse back in front of the cart.

Unfortunately, I missed PIM (Power in Motion) tonight. I don't know who I'm kidding even going at all. At this pace, I'm certainly not even going to be able to walk a 5K by Nov. By the way, Run With the Saints 5K has a cool new logo this year that looks really nice on their new home page. I signed up for PIM, thinking I would be much further along by now. Still, I so enjoy being at the park and feel the need to be around it (running that is). Missed seeing Cassie and Rose, Sandy, Amalia, Rachel, Doug, Steve, Jack, and all the other really cool people. I hope to be a little better off next week and maybe able to do a walk.

Regarding diet, I'm struggling to find my way there, as well. Of course, if one saw me in person, one must know that my first priority must be to lose a bunch of weight. I lost about 65 lbs. last fall/winter. Since my surgery in May, I've gained about 30 of that back. I don't want to dwell on that or I'll get too mad at myself. I just need to move on and that's what I'm doing. I'm just at a strange place now, trying to figure out a good, healty approach to nutrition and still be effective at weight loss. Most of the weight I lost last year was on a no carb/low carb diet. Readers may now want to chime in and tell me how awful low carb diets are, especially for runners, and how it's not a viable, maintainable, lifelong plan for good nutrition. Let me say that I know all this is sooooooo true. However, I can't bring myself to dismiss the low carb diets completely, just because of my experience. I lost the weight. I felt GREAT!!!! My fitness improved. I was able to run without bonking at all (although my long runs were only up to 9.5 miles). However, that all being said, I do not want to do the low carb thing anymore. I want to work on really developing a total plan for nutrition that I can keep for a lifetime... one that includes the right balance of foods, the right kind of healthy carbs and healthy fats and good protein. I've learned a lot about nutrition and physiology over this past year but know I've only scratched the surface and have much more to learn.

So for the past month or so, I've been 'winging it', just trying to eat what I think is healthy, and trying to cut back. I've been unable to lose any weight as I do well for a couple of days, then Jan will bring home pizza or I fail to eat for 12 hours and then gorge because I'm so hungry or yada, yada, yada. My problem at this point is that I need some kind of structure while I'm transitioning to this better lifestyle that I hope one day will just become second nature. I've looked at a lot of diets (I hate that word). I need one that's flexible, easy to follow, and doesn't take a lot of time to prepare just certain foods. Flexibility is the main thing. I've heard so many good things about Weight Watchers so I joined online yesterday. It's kind of funny because after paying my money and reading about the diet, it's just a common sense, healthy diet. No magic forumlas. No tricky pills or drastic measures. Just basically lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, good oils, eat till you're satisfied then stop, and every once in a while, indulge a little, just keep it in moderation. Guess I didn't need to pay $65.00 to be told that. Still, it's a good thing. Now that I've dished out the moola, I'm more apt to follow the plan. I know that the structure is going to help me immensely and get me to where I want to be. I'll probably be posting my meals on the blog here for my own benefit, just as a record of what I've been eating, what works, and what doesn't.

Well, I guess with all this bad news (pain being back, rehab being postponed, unable to lose weight, can't run, can't bike, now $65.00 poorer), I should be depressed. Strangely enough, I'm anything but depressed. I'm enjoying this journey. I'm learning a lot about myself and I know that these ups and downs are only going to make me a better runner and dieter and father and husband and employee and mentor. As so many have encouraged me and set the example, I hope to one day help others who are right where I've been. That's what it's all about, I think.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

New Toy

LOOK!!! what I got.

Today ends a good week for me. I was able to run 4 days, I started rehab on Friday, and did a little bike riding on my new mountain bike. Another highlight was the opportunity to complete Dr. Bob's CPR/AED course, a requirement to work CPR/AED for HARRA races. I always wanted to do this and out of the blue a few weeks ago asked Pamela Paling how to get involved. She directed me to Dr. Bob and voila, my first race to work is the Houstonian Lite 30K on Dec. 11.

Total pain-free miles this week: 5.5 miles (Yippee!!)