Thursday, September 28, 2006

3 miles!!!

Wow!!! What was that all about? I really felt great tonight. I felt good all day for that matter. I really felt like running today while walking around the office. A couple of times I broke into a trot on the way down the hall and had to contain myself. Depending on which schedule I eventually decide to follow for the remainder of my training, I was either supposed to do a 25 minute tempo run or 3 easy miles. So, I decided to do a 1 mile warmup, 1 mile at tempo effort, and 1 mile cool down.

Straight to the stats:
Total distance - 3.0 miles
Total time - 41:05
Mile 1 - 13:53 (I really WAS going easy)
Mile 2 - 12:53
Mile 3 - 14:17
Average pace - 13:41 (that's right at goal marathon pace)
Temp - 82 degrees
Humidity - 60%
Pre-run nutrition - 16 oz. Gatorade and small protein bar

I'm kind of speechless. I don't know what to think about this run. I don't worry much about anomalously bad runs. I usually just blow them off. So, I shouldn't give too much weight to this run but I had fun. I like the results. It felt good. I look at the times and wonder, "Wow, Vic, you must have really been pushing it." But I really executed at the familiar tempo effort for mile 2 and miles 1 and 3 were definitely conversational. I don't know what happened but I'll take it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Halloween comes early to Fairfield

A taste of Fright Night came early this year to Fairfield residents. No, June, there were no random bat attacks reported. No, Joe, Hugo Chavez did not make a surprise appearance. No, Barbara, no nightmares of a repeat Lidge v. Pujols faceoff in the 9th inning of the Division playoff game. This was much more scary!!! I ran 3 miles this morningm through the streets of Fairfield, SHIRTLESS!!! That's right, shirtless. SHAMELESS!!!

My normal pre-work run at Memorial Park ritual could not take place as I had to take my son to school early (by 7:00) for the See You at the Pole prayer meeting that students take part in every year. So, last night, I mapped out a 3 miler through Fairfield to run when I got up. The plan was to get up around 4:00 am, have a Clif Bar, and be out of the house by 4:30, back by 5:30, and leave the house by 6:30. I woke up with to the alarm at 4 as planned. Snooze. Snooze, again. Thoughts...I'll just run after work. But I'm on call. That's ok, I'll just run with the beeper...I hate to run with the beeper...I don't want to get up...I'm going to sleep until 5:30. So I got up to use the bathroom, set my alarm for 5:30, checked the results of the Cardinals game (Yea!!! They lost!!! poor babies!!!), and went back to bed. I laid there trying to get some motivation to get out there and do what I needed to do. I don't know why but Barbara's comment from the other day about the reason men run with no shirt got me to thinking. Hey, it's early. It's quite chilly. It's dark. Here's your chance to run half-dressed. It will be invigorating, liberating, and IT'S DARK!!!

So, I hopped out of bed, put on my shorts and my Garmin (I feel naked without my Garmin) and headed out. No shame!!! This was the 2nd time I've run in my neighborhood. It's really quite nice. We have a several lakes and greebelts with sidewalks that wind through the community. Also, for some reason, there are not a lot of cars parked on the street. Lots of two car garages, I guess.

I really did not get loosened up until well into the run. I never really got "in the groove." Much of the route and path was dark. It's fairly new and level concrete. Still, my confidence in my ankles just isn't there and I ran "nervous" most of the way. Towards the end, I was on lighted streets and it was much better. I could kind of relax a little. No pre-run nutrition like I usually am able to do on the way to Memorial Park. Overall, a good easy 3 miles. Mission accomplished.

Here are the stats: Total distance - 3 miles
Total time - 43:47
Mile 1 - 14:32
Mile 2 - 14:36
Mile 3 - 14:28
Average pace - 14:18
Temperature - 59 deg
Humidity - 89%

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tips for the USA 10-miler

I came across this article cruising the Houston Fit discussion boards. Hope it's helpful for USA 10-miler noobies like me.

Tips for the United Space Alliance 10 Miler on October 15, 2006

By: Robert Key - Founder of Faithful Soles

As a resident of the Clear Lake City area since 1977, I have run all or part of this course more times than I can count in training (a course map is available by clicking on the link above and going to the race web site), so I am very familiar with what you are going to encounter. I believe what I have to share may help you in this race whether you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced or elite runner, and regardless if you are walking or running. You can have a great day in this event, but as with most distance events, you have to be very smart, put your ego aside, and listen to your body. For those of you doing this distance for the very first time, do not put any pressure on yourself to run a particular time, and remember that no matter how you do, since it's your first race at this distance, you are going to run a PR (Personal Record)!

I really enjoy running in this event. The sponsors put on a great race and it's fantastic to see people from all around Houston come down to our area. As far as the course itself, I personally really Iike the single-loop layout for this distance. With the exception of one very minor bridge at about mile 8.75 or so, the course is basically completely flat, so there is no need to be concerned about "hills" or rolling terrain.

I ran this race in it's inaugural year of 2003 and then again in 2004 (I did not run it in 2005 due to a stress fracture). In both 2003 and 2004, I ran negative splits (for those of you not familiar with this term, negative splits means you ran the second half of the race faster than the first half of the race). In 2004, I finished 17th out of 71 in the 40-44 age group, and of the 16 men that finished ahead of me, only the winner and I ran negative splits. Based on the times I saw for my age group, the vast majority of runners went out way too fast and their pace-per-mile on the second 5 miles in many cases was much slower than the first 5 miles. I was probably in good enough shape that year to have run almost 30 seconds per mile faster than what my pace ended up being, but I was smart enough to know that if I had attempted that type of effort I more than likely would have crashed and burned. I know the only reason I was able to accomplish negative splits both years is because I know and understand the course, and so both years I finished the race having had a positive experience.

To me, especially at this time of year, the biggest factor will be the weather. Of course all of us hope for a cool front, and much of what I have to say here is contingent on the weather being typical, which is warm and humid, not cool and pleasant. The race this year is on October 15, which is 10-12 days later in the month than the first two times I ran it, so hopefully that will make a difference. Having said that, here are the weather conditions at the 7:00 a.m. start of the race as I had them logged in my running journal for both years that I ran:

  • October 5, 2003 - 77 degrees, 100% humidity, 83 degrees heat index

  • October 3, 2004 - 79 degrees, 94% humidity, 85 degrees heat index

Those are definitely NOT ideal conditions for a fast time, regardless of your ability, so before either of the races started I had made up my mind to leave my ego behind and go out much slower than normal for the first 5 miles and then see how I felt for the second half. This proved both years to be a very smart strategy.

I think where most people make their mistake is by going out too fast in the first 2.75 miles of this course. When I am running this first part of the course, I will always ask the people around me if they have ever run this race before and if they have not, I advise them to slow down and save themselves, especially if I see that the skies are not overcast and the sun is starting to come out. Since a lot of them don't know me, or they feel really good at that point, quite a few of them do not take my advice and surge ahead anyway because at such an early juncture of the race, they feel strong and fresh. The sun is not yet fully out, and you are running through some commercial and residential areas that are still affording you a decent amount of shade, so perhaps you don't realize how warm it is already getting as 7:15-7:30 arrives and the sun is starting to rise. When you turn onto Bay Area Boulevard at about the 0.75 mile mark, the sun is on you for a little bit, then you are back in the shade on and off until about mile 2.75 where you turn off of Bay Area Boulevard onto Red Bluff Road.

In my opinion, the turn onto Red Bluff Road at mile 2.75 all the way to about mile 9.5 is pretty tough both physically and psychologically, but hopefully what I have to say here will help you to be better prepared for this stretch. First of all, from a physical standpoint, presuming it is sunny, the sun is now out in full force and once you get onto Red Bluff Road, there are very few stretches of any type of shade to speak of for the rest of the race. This is where the people who went out too fast start to get into trouble, and usually between miles 5-7 I have passed all those people that I told earlier to slow down. In 2004, I do not recall anyone passing me from mile 5 all the way to the finish, but I passed numerous runners in that stretch. From a psychological perspective, what makes this stretch starting at mile 2.75 so difficult are the LONG stretches of road where you literally can see as far as a mile or more in some places. I try to just keep my head down and concentrate on my pace and not focus too much on looking ahead to the next turn because if you keep looking up for it, it seems like you are never going to get there, and then when you do finally make the next turn, you are faced with another long stretch just like the one you got off of, which in and of itself seems defeating. The last tough test psychologically is after you pass over the bridge at about mile 8.75 and you can see the 9.0 marker up ahead. You will go around a road that curves for quite a long stretch to the left and it starts to seem as if you will never get to the final left turn back to UH Clear Lake and the finish line, so just expect this and be patient.

Again, this is a great race, and you will enjoy it if you are just patient and stay positive. If the weather is warm that day, do not let your time deter you in your training for the rest of the races coming up. The weather will get cooler and you will continue to improve. At the end of this race, you won't just be crossing a finish line, you'll be taking a step towards your next starting line. Good luck on race day!

Recovery jog not working

I normally follow my long runs with 1 day of total rest, per the Katy Fit schedule. This week, after an awesome long run on Sunday, I thought I would do a short, 20-30 minute recovery jog on Monday. I've read that a recovery jog after a long run aids recovery by increasing circulation during the recovery period and generally getting your juices flowing.

I was pretty sore yesterday before the run. But once I started running, the soreness subsided. I kept my pace very slow despite the short distance and the cool temps. Well, I was even more sore during the day yesterday and this morning when I woke up, I still felt like I normally do the day after a long run. Usually, I'm very well recovered after a day's rest. I decided last night that I would not run today and try to catch up on my rest. Kind of funny. I always hear about runners trying to catch up on miles they've missed and here I am trying to catch up on rest I've missed. LOL!!!

I've rearranged the plan for this week to accomodate the rest day today. I was also reminded that this is a big weekend coming up with the relay and a personal record distance long run on Sunday. So, I dialed back the 30/30 workout on Wednesday to 3 easy miles and a short tempo run on Thursday. I consider Tuesday (rest), Wednesday (3 easy), and Thursday (short tempo) to be easy/easy/hard. Then rest Friday, a short 2 miles for the relay on Saturday, and the mother of all long runs, running to GRB for the first time, one for the record books, long run on Sunday morning. That will still give me a bit over 20 miles for the week. Whew!!!

So, the lesson on resting a full day after a long run is learned, at least for now. I will definitely not be running next Monday. I you need me, I'll be sleeping in.

God bless!!!

Interesting predicament !

I wasn't aware of this until this morning after a little research and I haven't heard any broadcasters mention it. If you look closely at the possibilities for the Astros as the season comes to a close, you may notice that the 2nd place Astros are 78-78 with 6 games remaining, a total of 162 games, the correct number of games in a season. The first place Cardinals are 80-75 with 6 games scheduled, totaling only 161 games. So, I'm wondering what gives.

Well, thanks to the internet, I found out fairly quickly that the Cards' 17 Sept. game against the Giant was postponed due to rain and a makeup was never scheduled. It turns out that IF postseason is in question, they will have to make up that game at the end. They have no off days until the end of the regular season so they would have to play this game after the season is over. And if that game results in a tie for the Division, then we would play them in a playoff, probably the next day. As a side, that would be good for us as we could get an extra day's rest for whoever we want to pitch, giving us more options pitching-wise.

So, as we're ciphering and trying to figure out all the possibilities, assume that the Cardinals are playing 7 more games, not 6. That's bad because it gives them 1 extra game to try to clinch the Division. So the Cardinals need 5 wins out of the next 7 games to clinch. Beyond that, it just depends on how many games the Astros win.

I believe the table below spells it out. The first column shows the possible number of games won by the Astros. If they don't win at least 2 games, it's over. The next column shows the number of wins the Cards need to win the Division, given column A and the last column show the number of wins the Cards need to tie, given column A. Hope it's all very confusing! It is for me.

If Astros win Cards need to win Cards need to tie
6 5 4
5 4 3
4 3 2
3 2 1
2 1 0

Monday, September 25, 2006

Plan for the week

The plan for the week is a little screwy because of two things, I did my long run yesterday (Sunday) instead of Saturday, and the upcoming Cross-country relay on Saturday afternoon. My hope is that the relay will not turn out to be a hard day. It is just 2 miles. As much as I'd like to "perform" at my best for the relay, I don't want to ruin my 12 miler the next morning. So, nice and easy on the relay. I'll try to pick it up a bit. Afterall, it is a race. But I won't overdo it. Just want to have fun.

Monday - 1.5 mile recovery run.
Tuesday - 35 min. easy run. Rest.
Wednesday - 15 x 30/30 with 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown (Fit schedule calls for 18 x 30/30 but I missed the 14 x 30/30 workout last week). 3 miles easy.
Thursday - 3 miles easy. 25 minute tempo run.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Cross-country relay (2 miles)
Sunday - 12 miles (Yikes!!!)

Cool temps and 1.5 mile recovery jog

Normally, I don't run the day after a long run but I was reading in Runner's World that an easy 20-30 minute recovery run after a long run can aid in recovery. So, the purpose of this morning's run was to take advantage of the beautiful weather, play more with the new toy, and get the blood flowing a little bit to continue to recover from yesterday's run.

So I did 1.5 miles at an average 15:07 pace. This is right at long run pace so perfect!!! The weather was beautiful and there were many smiling faces out there. A little less nudity than I've gotten used to over the summer but plenty of sweat to go around.

Going to be a great week!!! Run strong all and God bless!!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mr. Steady. or A Real MALE Runer now, or Lucky Guy!!!

I've been pumped up about this 10-mile run all week. I mean really pumped up. Almost raceday pumped up. With the USA 10-miler just 3 weeks away and the Luke's Locker/Koala Half Marathon 5 weeks away, I wanted to really nail a couple of long runs, starting with today. Now don't get me wrong. By nailing a long run, I don't mean running at race goal pace. I just wanted to pace myself consistently and finish stong. I figured with a bit cooler temps, if I could do for about 15:15 pace and finish the last couple of miles strong, I'd be very pleased.

Family time and doing the Tour de Art on Friday night had me putting off my long run until Sunday and skipping Katy Fit. Nevertheless, my faithful partner, Jo, was on hand this morning to run with me. It's just great running with Jo. She's a good chatter and helps keep my mind occupied. Another great reason to put my long run off until Sunday is that June runs long on Sunday and I was able today to introduce her to what's right now my favorite running venue, Terry Hershey Park. And much to my surprise and pleasure, Erica was able to join us too. So am I one lucky guy or not!! Running with 3 beautiful, classy women!! I was on cloud 9.

So call me Mr. Steady. Check out these splits:

Mile 1 - 14:35
Mile 2 - 15:16
Mile 3 - 15:11
Mile 4 - 15:12
Mile 5 - 15:10
Mile 6 - 15:59 (stopped to fill up 2 water bottles and stretch a little)
Mile 7 - 15:05
Mile 8 - 15:08
Mile 9 - 15:00
Mile 10 - 14:28
Total time - 2:31:09
Average pace - 15:07 min/mile


I was so psyched about how I finished, I was quite literally yelling out loud, "WA-HOO!!!", arms raised like I was Rocky or something. What a dork!!! It was fun to share that with 3 really cool people, too. I think fun was had by all and June seemed to really like TH Park. Erica, June, and I made our way over to Starbuck's for a little more trash talking and many goose bumbs as the cool breeze blew. I was still drenched from sweat and forgot to bring a change of clothes (dry shirt) like I usually do. Acually, that's the only thing I would have done differently today is bring an extra shirt.

One other thing I'll mention is that I really felt good through this whole run. I felt stronger than ever going up and down the hills and stayed strong and on my toes for much of the run. A couple of times I felt like I was sitting back on my heels but I was strong and corrected it immediately. The little bit of calf work I've been doing along with the wobble foam really seem to be paying off.

Lastly, I'm a real MALE runner now. After the finish and on the way to the car, I look down and notice something. Majorly bloody nips!!! I was actually kind of proud of them and bragged that now I am a real runner. Jo said later in an e-mail that now all I need are black toenails. LOL!!! I greased down the area pretty well with body glide before the run but sustained bloody nippage syndrome (BNS) nevertheless. Guess it's time for bandaids on the next long one.

Later and God Bless!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tour de Fun!!!

I was trying to figure out how to combine "Tour de Art" with "Tour de Fun" and all I could come up with was "Tour de FArt". That's so childish. But quite frankly, that's what I've felt like lately, especially at last night's Tour de Art. I felt like a kid, running around downtown, dodging cars, crossing when I'm not supposed to, giggling with my friends, poking fun at the slow people. (Hey, that's me!!!) Seriously (but not too seriously), we had a blast last night.

Lotsa bloggers were on hand for the event. I think the biggest surprise was seeing Sarah and Jose drive up just as I was putting my shoes on. The second surprise, and not a good one at all, was Sarah's truck "dying" just as she pulled into her parking space. I have no idea what was wrong. It just wouldn't start. I know she and Jose were worried but they were troopers. Sarah just locked her doors (manually) and said screw it, let's go run. Woohoo!!! Other bloggers were June, Steve B, Bill. I'm really enjoying getting to know these great friends better and better. One of the reasons I did this Tour de Art is because of the encouragement I got from Bill some month or 2 ago after his first Tour de Art. I remember his telling me after that run that it would be a perfect event for me. A good workout, visiting with friends, frequent stops, perfect for a slow runner who wanted to run with others and just have fun. Well, Bill, it was everything you promised and more. Thanks, bud! Oh, and Sarah got her care started. Another friendly runner gave her a jump. I hope she made it home ok.

This was a very casual run, a little over 4 miles according to the Garmin. Like I said, there were plenty of stops and time to talk and visit. I think I should be the poster child for this event if it's ever done again. I can see it now..."If Vic can do it, anyone can." Turns out I was the brunt of several "slow-poke" jokes starting very soon upon arrival. One "friend" told me that she invited a hesitant companion to join her for this 5-mile run. I find out he gave in only after she told him that Vic was going to be there so we'll run with him. It'll be fine. Then one "coach" told me, 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, "ok, Vic, if you're going to finish in a timely manner, you'd better start now. Go!!!" Very funny!!! Seriously, it makes me feel good that my friends can joke with me. With much encouragement must come much abuse. LOL!!! Gotta have thick skin around this bunch. :o)

About the time I was halfway home, I started to think about all the work it took to put on this event and provide some fun for me and the rest of the group. I wonder how early folks had to get there to set up the tent. And how late did they have to stay in the dark to take it down. I just want everyone to know how much I appreciate the work and the effort. I feel bad about not sticking around to help in some way. I'm going to try to be more aware of opportunities to help out. Anyway, I really do appreciate Steve, Barry, Bill, Roger, Lee, and all the others that made this event possible.

Runs with toys!!

Maybe you've heard of Runs With Scissors. Well, as of yesterday, I'm Runs With Toys. Mr. Toys has a new toy as you may already know if you've read Bill's blog this morning. Thanks for stealing my thunder, dude! Just kidding. Anyway, I'm really going to be in trouble for this one. DW is out of town until later on today so I have a short reprieve. So, what is this new toy? Well...

Ta Da!!! Finally, I broke down and got one. My dreams have come true. Never again will I wonder on a new course how far I've gone and how far I have left. It's a very cool toy. Now, I just need to figure out how to use it. Oh, btw, on the Tour de Art, I don't think I lost the signal one time, even running downtown amongst all the tall buildings. Of course, I haven't even read the instructions so I have no idea what it would even do if it lost the signal. I guess it beeps at you. Bill said that the unit would flash a prompt "Lost Signal" if it does and that never happened. I'll have to run a known distance to compare in order to have total confidence. Hey, for the price, it had better make my toast and pour my coffee as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


As a new runner and a heavy runner, I often feel like I am outside of the group looking in, training to "be there one day." There are a lot of groups. USA Fit divides runners into groups by pace. Other training programs place people in groups by experience or ability. There are marathoners, sprinters, walkers, big runners, small runners, fast runners, slow runners, all kinds of groups. IMO, the reason many new runners don't stick with running is that they don't feel that they are part of a group. Or, more likely, they are trying too hard to be included in the "real runner" group or the "fast" group or the "far" group and they burn out early in their running experience. One contributing factor to this tragedy is how new runners PERCEIVE their training and racing. It's our perspective. We are always comparing our pace to other runners or how far we run to how far others run. Perspective can keep us from attaining our goals and from living a healthy life with running as an integral part.

Since working out with the Striders SMARTies last Thursday, my perspective has changed. Coach Steve said something to me after the workout that I've been thinking about a lot and I believe it can be revolutionary to new runners. He said something to the effect of, "Vic, now you've just worked out for 90 minutes with a group of sub-4 and sub-3 marathoners and you fit right in." He said more but this gets straight to my point. How did I fit right in with this group? How can a just-been-running-for-6-months, 15-minute-miler, never-run-a-marathon, overweight, inexperienced runner fit into this group? What makes me like them? What is this great equalizer? The great equalizer is effort! Did you hear that? EFFORT!!! What a revelation. What a revolution. I put forth the same effort that the rest of the group was putting in. They knew it and I knew it.

So I would suggest that new runners as well as experienced runners look at training with this perspective. When comparing yourself to other runners, when trying to find where you belong, when placing yourself in groups, understand that it's the effort you are putting into a run that is important. Effort is what defines the effectiveness of a training session. If I walk/run 3 miles at a conversational pace and it takes me an hour, that's the same effort as Bill running 6 miles in an hour at a conversational pace. I don't have to quit just because there are faster runners out there. I'm training at the same effort as all those runners. Good for me!!

Note to self...Don't get discouraged. Don't quit. Don't set yourself up for failure by having the wrong perspective. Put forth the effort. Purpose each training session. The next time Speedy Gonzales flies past you talking casually to a friend and barely breathing hard, just remember. You're running at the same effort that Speedy is. You are both runners!

Monday, September 18, 2006

3 a little harder than easy

Did 3 miles this evening a little harder than easy effort. No stopwatch. My dial watch showed about 42:45.

Great to see Sam cruising by out there. Sam (and the world, too, I guess since this is a blog and the World Wide Web), I hope this doesnt' sound strage coming from a guy but you are a beautiful runner. You really glide out there. God has blessed you with a gift. Wonderful to see you using it.

God Bless!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mental tricks!!!

I really need to learn some mental tricks to keep me running when the going gets tough. Saturday morning's 8 miler really kicked my pa-too-ty as I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted to. Still, I want to learn from the experience and not get down about one, single workout.

Since my new running buddy, Jo, wasn't available due to illness, I was going to try to run with the 5/1 group. But after a little less than a half a mile, they were out of sight. The 5/1 group must be averaging 12 - 13 minute miles or better. Again, there really isn't a group that I fit into. Am I complaining? No, not really. I'm going to stick with this no matter what. Oh, did I mention that 10 weeks into the program, the head coach has quit (well, she really wasn't there to begin with) because it was interfering with her own marathon training and over half the Red group has pretty much dropped out. I ran by 2 coaches on their return trip yesterday morning, running by themselves at "their own" pace. I don't think I have to complain and speak too badly about the program. These few facts speak volumes. Like Jo said, we were so spoiled by PIM (back in the day). Still, there is some energy left and they may be able to salvage the program for those that remain. The new Red team head coach has a lot of excitement and really seems to care about the new runners and seeing the program head in a better direction. It just hurts me so bad to lose potential entrants to the sport of running. I mean really hurts.

Ok, back to the run. I think in a way, I was still recovering from the SMARTie Hop workout on Thursday. The workout introduced some new stresses to my ankles and lower legs. Good stresses, mind you. But you know how it is the first time you really do a new exercise. It sort of "shocks" your system. Well, I think my ankles and lower legs were kind of shocked from Thursdays workout. Now, I just need to continue those kinds of exercises and continue to improve my coordination and strength in my ankles. Even though I was still recovering, I felt stronger and more stable on my feet and didn't experience the discomfort and imbalance that normally plagues me going up and down hills and slightly graded or beveled surfaces.

Again, I think the trouble I experienced on this run was mental. I never cramped up or felt out of breath. I just got tired. I know the humidity was very high and it felt like a big thumb pressing down on me. At the time I don't think I realized this but looking back and remembering the run, I know my body could have performed better but my mind slowed me down to a crawl. I ended up walking quite a bit, maybe a half a mile or a little more in total.

Still, the one thought process that works well for me is the one where I know exactly how much further I have to go and it's not too far (maybe a mile or a little more) and I say to myself, ok, Vic, you want to finish strong. Now run the rest of the way in and finish strong. That works!! It's just the middle of the run, the tough miles, that give me fits. Interestingly, I think it has something to do with not knowing where I am on the course. Not knowing my pace, not knowing how far I've gone, not knowing how far I have left. That really does something to my mind. I'm still not familiar with TH Park. That stretch between Dairy Ashford and Eldridge is a lot longer than the Kirkwood/Dairy Ashford leg. Well, I just went and looked it up. Eldridge to Dairy Ashford it 1.10 miles. Dairy Ashford to Kirkwood is 1.5 miles. Maybe knowing that will help. But the Dairy Ashford/Kirdwood has some mean hills, too. I can see just from this post that the thinks I am thinking about are not the things I should be thinking about on a run. I need some more mental tricks to practice and try to find some that work for me.

No stats really to report. I didn't even bring my watch at all so I don't even know my total time. I did make it back in time for most of the seminar and in plenty time to make an announcement and collect registrations for the Koala/Luke's Locker Half marathon. Lot's of questions and excitement about the race. Some of the questions I didn't have an answer but I committed to find out and report back next week.

God bless!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hipity, Hopity, Hop!!!

Very fun and exciting time last night as my life (kids, work, training, where I am at any given time of the day) finally afforded me the opportunity to attend one of the SMARTie Hop workouts. It's really what the doctor ordered this week. The camraderie and the workout were a big encouragement to me. I was one of four first time attendees and felt very welcome as I always do around Striders groups

Coach Steeeve coached me through the entire workout, "customizing" it to suit my ability and to keep my ankle safe from harm. No hopping during silly walks (bad for the ankle), abbreviated warmup and cooldown, 1 mile and 1.5 miles respectively were just a couple of examples of how I was able to make this workout work for me. I really appreciate the invite and the extra attention given by Coach Steeeve. Lee and Chris did a great job leading the group. Lee took extra time to explain each exercise before we started so that we newcomers would know exactly what was going on and how to execute each exercise. Remember my first (and last) step aerobics class where the instructor was shouting out "moves" a split second before they were to happen and I just sort of stood there or hopped in place, not knowing what the he** was going on? Well, this was nothing like that.

Two memorable occasions come to me as I reminisce on last night's workout. The first, and one I'll not soon forget, was a drill called greyhounds. Greyhounds are described this way in the SMARTie manual: "4 sets of 100 meters. Accelerate for the first 20 meters, attempting to reach close to top speed, maintain close-to-max speed for 60 meters, decelerate for 20 meters, turn around, rest for a second or two, and repeat in the opposite direction. Complete four 100 meter segments (two in each direction)." The toughest part of this drill, for me anyway, was the "rest for a second or 2" part. Well, I guess the actual second or two wasn't the problem. It was what immediately followed. Truth be told, I rested a good 10 seconds. Still I think my effort reflected the spirit of the drill. Each repeat is supposed to be run while you are still fatigued and you're only supposed to recover briefly from the previous repeat. Fortunately, Steeeve ran my greyhounds with me. We staggered our repeats ahead of the rest of the group, since my slighly-less-than-all-out, ~8:00 pace would have certainly caused some problems with the rest of the group running into me. One of the benefits of this drill is to learn to run when you're tired and believe me. I ran that last repeat tired. I was breathing pretty hard before we even took off on the last repeat. FUN!!!!

The second memorable was a drill named maniacs after Michale Sembello's song, Maniac from the movie, Flashdance. I think everyone was surprised when Sandy Wollangk cranked up the original song on her boom box for this drill. Also memorable were the command performances in the middle of the group by Steve and Jessica followed by "dirty maniac dancing" by a pair Haliburton employees. Oh, and Lee, thanks for the bonus round of maniacs and the extra dose of lactate still hanging around this morning.

The workout summary:
Venue - Terry Hershey Park
1.25 mile warmup - 17:30 (~14:00 pace)
Silly walks
SMARTie Hops including 4x100 greyhounds (pace - ???)
1.5 mile cooldown - 24:30 (~15:40 pace) - my legs and ankles were spent. I just kept chatty on this cooldown and enjoyed the evening breeze on the lighted Blue Jay Trail loop.
Total miles - ~3 miles.

Finally, it was great to put some names with faces as well as see some familiar faces. Great to see Jessica back running and bringing excitement to the group. Jess, you rock!!! Steve B., my inspiration, always great to see you. Thanks for the shout out as you flew past me on the cooldown. That got me over the hump. Spoke with Tim Bowler, a very nice guy. Stacy, Sandy, the list goes on and on. Very nice to meet Miriam. Thanks to all for a great time!!! Where was Bill? Who's the phantom Strider now?


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

90 degrees, feels like 88???

I just checked for Cypress, TX and it says it's 90 degrees, feels like 88. WOW!!! I haven't seen the feels-like-temp lower that acutal in like, ever. Supposed to be 65 in the morning.

Happy running, all!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Speedwork, if you want to call it that

To date, following the Tuesday night Katy Fit schedule has been hit or miss. During the five "hill weeks", I did one hill workout. Now speed work has started and I missed last Tuesday's 8x30/30. Understand, I haven't been skipping Tuesdays, I've just been doing easy miles instead of the prescribed quality workouts.

Tonight, I wanted to get back on track and do the prescribed workout. The schedule called for 10x30/30 with warmup and cooldown. Not wanting to "jump ahead", I decided to do last Tuesday's 8x30/30 workout.

DS had his first football game (actually it was a scrimmage) so by the time I got home after that, it was pretty late. DW encouraged me to go run as I was seriously considering skipping out. I've been on call Monday and today and I hate to drive over to a venue, get laced up, start stretching, and then get paged. But, I rolled the dice and made my way over to Memorial around 8. I just pulled into the parking lot and guess what? Beep, beep, beep, beep... So, I called the help desk to see what was going on and it ended up being something that required my attention. Drats!!! I went over to Starbuck's, logged in, and attended to the issue. By this time, it was about 8:45. Do I just go home (it was getting to be my bed time) or try again. I tried again.

After some good stretching and thinking about my game plan, I set out on my warmup mile. Don't ask how I came up with this plan but I wanted to do a 13:30 warmup mile, then the 8x30/30's, then a 14:30 cooldown .75, and a .25 walk. This plan was executed perfectly. My pacing was right on. Of course, it's easy when you have markers every .25 miles. But my first .25 on the warmup was EXACTLY 3:23. My .5 time was exactly 6:45 and I ended my mile at 13:27. This was a fun exercise. I then did some stretching and executed 8 30/30's. No measurements or stats. I just set my timer to 30 seconds and let it repeat 16 times. The toal distance by the time I finished was ~2.5 laps. So, not blazing by any means. Still, it felt good and the 30 seconds was a safe and comfortable (well slightly uncomfortable) interval. I'd say I was ~90% of an allout, running from the bad guys, sprint.

After walking the remaining 1/2 lap and then back to the 0 mile marker, I completed my .75 miles at exactly 14:30 pace. It was pretty fun to target a pace and then to see by my watch at each .25 that I was right on. Just exactly 1 minute slower than the warmup.

This is what I put in the log:
Total distance - 2.38 miles
Warmup - 1 mile - 13:30
8 x 30/30 - .63 miles - 8 minutes
Cooldown - .75 miles - 10:53 (14:30 pace)
Walk - .25 miles

God bless!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

That was it?

Well, I guess unofficially I'm a member of the double digits club as of this morning at 8:30. I say unofficially because when I got home, I found that shows ~9.7 miles, just a little more than last weeks "9 mile run" of 9.4. I ran this morning without the aid of mile markers or my Polar footpod (the distances on that thing are suspect as well). I wouldn't say that I need a Garmin but I will say that I'd like to have one, a 205 if possible.

When I drove up to the parking lot late, Strider Joanne jumped out of her car and said, "Oh, Vic, I'm so glad you are here." Her 2/1 partner, Sashi, could not make it and she was hoping that I would be there so she could run with me. Jo is a small lady but a big runner. She runs faster than me (of course). I think She and Shashi have been running ~14:00 miles on their long runs. Still, she was very eager to have someone to run with this morning and vowed to take it slow. I forgot to tell her she was an answer to my prayers. She was worried about holding me back but the absolute truth is that she pushed me just right. A couple of times she got ahead of me 20 or 30 yards and just doubled back to rejoin me. I know it must be hard to slow down 1:00 - 1:30 minutes from what you do on your slow runs. She has a nice little quick turnover and pretty good form. Oh, by the way, Jo is well in her years but very young at heart.

Overall, I had a great run. Of course, the hills at TH park presented some challenge but I tackled them better than I did last week on Allen Parkway. Of course the weather was nice this morning and I'm sure that contributed to a good run. Jo likes to talk and I enjoyed the conversation. When we turned around at Kirkwood, Jo told me we had 3.5 miles left. I thought, "Is that it?" I think one of my biggest problems mentally is not knowing how far I have left. Am I halfway? Do I need to conserve a little. I guess this will come with experience being at these venues more. Anyway, I was feeling pretty tired about 2:15 into the run and Jo told me it was just 1 more mile. "Is that it?" By this time last week, I was hurting. So, I ran the last mile in with only a short break at one of the runner's showers.

No stats really to report. I know that's so unlike me but you know, right now I'm just trying to finish these long runs strong. Also, I'm just trying to enjoy myself, concentrate on nutrition and hydration. Speaking of which, the Gu's worked just fine today. I took one at :45 and at 1:30. If I were going to be much longer out there, I would have had another but I felt fine. I love the way I feel after a long run. Really sore, broken, barely able to walk around, yet so alive! Not sore to the point that I've hurt myself but just where I know I've pushed my body a little past where it wanted to go. Now rest!!!

I had the opportunity to drum up some interest in the Koala/Luke's Half Marathon. I took one registration but handed out a lot of printed flyers/registrations. I'll bet next week, I'll get a lot of registrations turned in. Did get one today which was good considering it was raining and the two ladies had parked in the I-10 lot. I drove them to their car to get their checks. What service!!!

God bless!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

What a whiner!

Running clothes in the trunk, shoes in the car, hydrated, well fed, the plan for Thursday was to meet up with th SMARTies at the Hwy. 6 levee to do some silly walks and some hills. I was looking forward to this all day. I mean big time!!! The way this was supposed to work, the plan, was that DW was going to pick up the tike from afterschool program on the way in from her trip to Louisiana. She went home to sit in on some pre-trial court stuff for the murderer of her brother earlier this year. Anyway, the plan was to be back in time for me to run after work. Well, between getting a late start and traffic, I knew around 4:30 that she wasn't going to make home at the planned time so I had to pick up the tike.

So, here's where the whining began. I was really being selfish, whining to myself about how I never get to to the training I need to do. I may as well forget the marathon. My meal planning sucks and I ended up in a pity party going to McDonald's on the way home...if I'm not going to do my workouts during the week, I may as well not do my long run since I won't be ready...I haven't lost any weight this week...WOE IS ME!!! Then when DW got home, she apologized for not "executing the plan" (my words, not hers) and I continued to mope around...Woe is me!!! She said, "you want to go run, now?" I said that it was too late...just forget it.

So, I moped around some more and then went to check the blogs. The very first post I read was on June's blog. June linked to a Dick and Rick Hoyt video that I haven't seen before. June posted simply, "For when you think you cant do something, or you just cant take anything more, you might want to take a look at this." It's been kind of funny. Every time during the past few months that I get down, someone out there links to one of these videos. The first to introduce me to the Hoyt's was Coach Steeeve on the HRB forums. Anyway, you just can't whine after watching those two.

I got straight up from the desk, got my shoes and went down to the athletic center for a late 35 minute tempo run on the treadmill. I found my mp3 player and listented to some good tunes. The run was great. I'm so glad I did it. Don't know if the calibration is off or if the 66%/no humidity helped but I was cruising at about 12:30 pace for the last 10 minutes of the tempo portion.

No stats, I just did a 10 minute warmup a around 15:00 pace. Then 20 minutes, easing up the pace little by little, finishing the tempo portion (as I said) around 12:15 -12:30 pace, then an easy 5 minute cool down.

So, that's my pity party. Thankfully, it was short-lived. Thanks, June for the post. Somehow you knew I needed that.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fired up 5K

Got up plenty early this morning. Had a Clif Bar and about 24 oz. of Gatorade for breakfast and gathered my things. Don't know why but I almost fell asleep on the way. I actually missed the Beltway and decided to go in to 610 instead of doubling back. I was actually entertaining the possibility of taking a quick nap in the car when I got to the race. Very strange though. As soon as I saw the first little orange cones in the street and then some volunteers walking around, I suddenly started to get excited. Then, driving into the parking lot, I started to see all the runners and people I know, no way was I sleepy anymore.

I ran into June just a few moments after I parked. We hung out, got some water and our chips and met up socialized for a bit before stretching. I had a Gu 15 minutes before the start to finish a well-balanced breakfast. I felt good stretching. Lately, the nagging stiffness in my bad ankle that has been there since April wasn't there and I was actually able to get a good, full calf stretch.

Got sucked in a little at the beginning but not as much as I may have had I not been aware that I was susceptible to that. I really wanted to push this 5K as much as I could. I really treated last month's Run the Woodlands 5K like more of a training run although I pushed pretty hard then. But this 5K was pretty close to an allout 5K race for me right now. I still lack experience pacing and "feeling where I am on the course. My thoughts, especially in the last mile, were focused on how far I have left. I really didn't know (remember) how much further we had to go once we rounded the corner and went up that small hill. I was probably too tentative during the last ~.5, just being aprehensive about burning out with a lot of course left. I really was a lot closer to the finish than I judged and could have picked it up more. Thanks to Jon and June who followed the "no blogger left behind" creed and came out to run me in the last ~.3 or so. Seriously, I was just getting ready to take a much needed walk break until I saw Jon waiting there for me to run the last stretch. Then June joined us just before the corner and was a real encouragement. I appreciate that from you guys so much. It made the difference for me. I've really got to find that something inside me to push myself when I'm out there alone, though. I don't know what that thougth process is going to be but I've got to figure something out. Several times now, during a race or a training run, I've just about quit and then someone comes up and I finish strong. So, I know it's mental since my body is responding to the distration of running with someone. I've got to get over that.

Anyway, my time was 40:51. That's about 4 1/2 minutes off my RTW 5K last month. That may sound huge but RTW was not an all out effort for me and it was much hotter. So, I consider this race my first "real" 5K since coming back after surgery. Still, I'm really happy with the 13:11 average pace. I haven't run that fast over that distance during any training run so it's definitely a milestone. I've been able to maintain around 13:30 pace for about 20 minutes during training but today's 5K was definitely a race effort.

Splits, as far as I recorded:
Mile 1 - 13:05
Mile 2 - 12:55
Mile 3 - 13:40 (walk break and short hill)
last .1 - 1:11

Great to see Steve and Steeve and all the Striders, and Jon and Waverly. Just a fantastic group. I like the out and back course too as I get to see all the runners and give a shout out to them.

Oh, by the way, great race organization. 10/10 on registration, packet pickup, pre and post water and food, rest rooms, course management, water stops. And the results were posted for all to see almost immediately after the race. Very well organized race and will be on my list next year.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Big runner tackles new route...

...maybe tackle isn't exactly the right word. More like survived. This week was an "unoffcial" Katy Fit meeting time. What that means is because of the holiday, there was no official meeting, no gatorade and water after the run, and no seminar, but some of the coaches were there and many of the Fit'ers were meeting to run. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to try out one of the other venues in town so I decided to run the Houston Fit 9-mile course with a slight modification. The modification was departing and arriving from the tennis center instead of the HF meeting place. Turns out, this makes the route a little over 9.5 miles. Here's the course, probably familiar to many.

Couple of highlights to report. The first was seeing the graceful and speedy Cassie during my first mile. It was kind of dark but I recognized that perfect stride a mile away. Well, maybe .005 miles away. Then, as if that wasn't enough good fortune, I ran into (almost literally) the strong and beautiful June at the Memorial/Park loop intersection. June is just so much smarter than I was. She started well before 5:30 and was finishing up about the time I was starting. Read about her well-executed run on her blog.

There were a lot of firsts on this run as well as a season/lifetime distance PR. This was the first time I ran with my new Amphipod RunLite Hydration Belt. Steve, you talk about people "running shalessly", that was me on this run. I've never used a hydration belt before for one reason. They don't make 'em big enough to fit my waist. Well, for the first time, I am able to get one around my waist comfortably. That's a victory to me! The shameless part is that despite my shrinkage (quiet, all you Seinfeld fans out there!!) my still ample belly really sticks out when wearing the belt. Hey, at least it doesn't hang over the belt and you can see the belt but it's still "shameless" to be out in public looking like that. Don't get me wrong. This is not a pity party. I'm thrilled that I can fit into one now comfortably. Now I just have to continue to shrink this gut.

Another first was taking a left at the southwest corner of the Memorial Park loop instead of continuing around the loop. I've always sort of envied the folks who would turn left. I always wondered where they were going, what it was like "out there, when will they be back." It was sort of surreal to be venturing out towards downtown. I really did not know what to expect.

I made my way down Crestwood to Blossom and turned towards downtown. The mile or so down Blossom is nice. I saw several runners and bikers. The little townhomes and gated apartments all seem pretty new and must be expensive due to the location. Blossom is very flat. I think that contributed to my poor pacing and going out too fast, too early in the longest distance of my life. I forgot to turn on my mile auto-lap feature until 26 minutes into my run. Still, I don't really trust the polar footpod accelerometer. I don't think it responds well to changes in pace or stride or hills. I think as long as you maintain a consistent stride and pace, it's accurate but when you have to walk up a hill or stairs or want to shorten your stride, it's not accurate. I've gotta get a Garming some time soon. Anyway, I think I was doing around 14:50 pace for the first 2-2.5 miles. I felt really good and continued to be excited about what was ahead.

After turning on Jackson Hill, I consumed a gel and water and trucked on. I didn't mention but I was doing 5/1's for this run. Looks like even with the walking, I was maintaining an good sub-15:00 pace. That is good. Looking back, I should have been a little closer to 15:45-16:00 pace for these first miles and been in better shape by the end. Still, I felt really good, running strong for each 5 and walking quickly on the 1's. The first "hill" I came to was the Memorial crosswalk at Jackson Hill. It's not really a hill but you've got to get up to get over so it was a bit of work. When I got to the other side, I experienced what would become a theme for most of the remainder of the morning. The trails along Allen Parkway and Memorial are not smooth and flat. In a way this is bad on my weak ankle but in another way, I think it helped to work out those accessory muscles in my lower leg. Still, my confidence on the uneasy surface just was not there and I really felt myself working harder with each step on certain parts of the trail, not wanting to twist my ankle. So, this part of the run was really difficult for me. I never really got in the groove like I did on Blossom. Nevertheless, the view was awesome as the sun was coming up through downtown and the adventure was what my running needed at the time.

It seems that I really did get a late start as many of the runners were already off the trails. I did run into several runners. One notable who flew past me with a couple of other guys was Drew Prisner, winner of the 2002 Houston Marathon. I knew who he was because Jon pointed him out to me at HARRA's Party in the Park. These guys were beautiful the way they were running. I passed them at a lower point down by the bayou where they appeared from a distance. The ground they closed in just a few moments was incredible. God definitely made those guys to run. I also ran into a couple of Striders. I'm so bad with names. I believe the man's name is Noah. He was running with his wife. I know I've met them and we recognized each other but I can't for the life of me remember their last name and her first name. Oh, and I passed the kind gentleman from the Woodlands that was so nice to give me all that advice during the HRB RTW 5K. You may remember him from an earlier post. I think his name is Nick. Anyway, he shouted as we passed, "Hey, Do I know you from up north at the Woodlands? Keep it up!!!" I appreciated that. I'll bet I was the last 300+ lb'er he expected to see out in no man's land.

Although this was unchartered territory for me, I did recognize parts of the course. One stretch in particular was part of the Buffalo Wallow 6K Cross Country race, the last race I ran before falling completely out of running and having surgery on my ankle. Well, there I was, kind of back where I left off. Also, I believe I ran part of the HARRA Cross Country Relay course on the calendar for Sept. 30. I think they already had the course marked and it looked like there was a group either running the course or starting to work on the event. Anyway, there was a fairly large group gathered at the start, either getting ready to do something or wrapping it up.

The uneven surface and hills pretty much did me in. I walked a lot up Memorial once I got past the Starbuck's water fountain. I really had no idea if I had gone 9 miles or 7 or 10 or what. My wind was there and my muscles were just sore and tired but my bones and mind were taking a beating. I think it was mostly my mind. I just could not find anything else to think about, no more songs to sing, and regretfully, no more prayers to pray. Here's wher running with someone would have paid off big time for me. Doug, where were you? I know I had more in me though because after I crossed Memorial, back onto the granite Memorial Loop trail, I ran pretty well. After about .7 miles, I was done though and I walked the rest of the way to the car. Of course I stopped at the shower and to sit down for a few minutes first. I had no idea if I made it or not. No idea how far I went, what my pace was. Who cares, right? When I got home and mapped the course, I found it was 9.396 miles plus the walk to the car (doesn't count). So, that's a new lifetime distance PR for me. I did 9 back in 2004 before the Houston Press 5K.

I still have a lot of doubts about the upcoming months. But, I'm just going to keep on digging. As these runs get longer, I'm going to have to find a partner to run with. I've gone it alone up until now but running 3, 4, 5+ hours straight by myself is going to take some mental fortitude and I don't think I'm that strong mentally.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fired up 5K training run

Well, there are so many cool people running the Fired up 5K on Monday, I just couldn't pass up being there for the festivities. So, I paid my $18 to do a training run. Who knows, I may push it a little bit. Maybe I'll just shoot for breaking my 45:22 from 8/12 RTW. I'm sure the weather will cooperate. SMARTies, I wanna see some hardware!!!

See you all there!!!