Sunday, December 31, 2006

Before it's too late

While it's still 2006, I'd like to reconsider a couple of 2007 goals that I set in a previous post.

One of those goals is yearly mileage. I previously stated 1200 as a goal for 2007. I think that may be a bit too ambitious so I'm setting that goal to 1008, exactly double my 2006 mileage. That should do just fine.

Also, I stated as my "if everything goes perfectly" goal for the Flying Pig marathon in May a 45 second per mile improvement over my Houston goal. I'm backing that down to 30 seconds per mile. That would give me a 5:47:00 if everything goes perfectly. I'll save the 13 minute pace for 2008.

I just want to be real as these are not just pie-in-the-sky goals that I pulled out of a hat. I really want these to be something that I can grab hold of and accomplish.

In other news, I was thinking. I'm an active guy. I've lost a few pounds. I ran yesterday and burned some calories. I think I'll have an oatmeal cream pie. So, I did. Then I was thinking, man-oh-man, that was good. So, I thought why not just have another. For grins before diving in, I checked the nutritional info on the box. OMG!!! EACH pie has 370 calories. 370 CALORIES!!! How in the world do they pack that many calories into that little plastic wrapper. So, instead of having another, I threw the whole box away. Those things are deadly!!! There was a day when I would have had 3 or 4 of those things, sitting down watching TV. No wonder I got up to 375 lbs. Ain't going back there.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Attn: Garmineers!!!

Thanks to some pretty cool software called SportTracks, I have discovered a very interesting phenomenon occurring with my Garmin.

One of the things that people love about the Garmin 205/305 is that it has a more powerful signal antennae than its predecessor, the 201. This is evident when running in wooded areas and around tall buildings, e.g downtown Houston. It doesn't lose signal. However, I found out today that even though the signal stays strong downtown, it's totally whacked out, looking like you're zig-zagging all over the place. And it greatly affects your mileage. Here is a screen capture of the SportTracks software, showing a short portion of my route from this morning along Rusk.

Each red dot represents a single data point recorded by my 305. As you can see, the dot's and calculated route are all over the place when I am between tall buildings. See, the signal is being received strong enough but because it's bouncing all over the buildings, it really confuses the Garmin and you see the result. My total miles for this run were 12.36 but that is from me running all over the place, into buildings, zig-zagging all over the place.

Now, thank to the edit feature in SportTrack, I can move these dots to be in line with the acual route I ran. Here's what the same portion of Rusk looks like after I painstakingly lined all those points up along my actual route.

With the erroneous zigzagging through downtown, the Garmin gave 6.13 miles from the Tennis Center to the corner of GRB. Everyone knows that it's exactly 6 miles. After moving all the points in line with my acutal route, the point at the corner of the GRB was exactly 6.0 miles. I had an extra .13 miles incorrectly added to my run. After I fixed all of the route, the total mileage for the run went from 12.36 miles to a more accurate 12.18, a difference of .18 miles.

What's funny is that my lap pace from where I entered downtown to the GRB was about 11:15 minutes per mile. I remember looking at that and thinking, I'm not going that much faster. What's going on? Well, you see, the time is constant. I mean the clock just ticks. So, if I'm spending the same amount of time zig-zagging all over the place, it looks like I'm going an extra .13 miles, for example, in the same amount of time. So, my minutes/mile is going to be falsely lower. After my corrections, it made more sense and I actually finished mile 6 in 13:08.

Just keep this in mind Garmineers. It's great to not lose signal, but be aware the signal may not be correct when running about tall buildings.


I ran a few goat trails this morning along Buffalo Bayou on the Allen Parkway side as part of my 12 mile run this morning. Is that what you call the trails up and down the bank along the bayou? Well, that's what I call them anyway.

While the SMARTies were cranking out Yasso's, I was treated to an easy 12 this morning. The route of choice was Tennis Center to GRB, of course, covering the last 5 or 6 miles of the Houston marathon. The plan going into this run was to get used to that steady, 13:45 marathon pace that would get me in at 6 hours on Jan 14. But you know what they say about "the best laid plans..."

The beginning of the run found me cruising along at a 13:14 pace, about 30 seconds off my planned pace. I liked it!!! Thank you sir, can I have another? Mile 2, same story, a 13:18. Hey, this feels real good. Once I turned onto Allen Parkway, I just decided since I was feeling my oats, I'd just see how this pace feels all the way to GRB.

Mile 3 - 13:24
Mile 4 - 13:20
Mile 5 - 13:14

I was downtown, turning down the home stretch on Rusk towards GRB and victory. 6 miles exactly to the corner of the Convention center, wrapping up mile 6 in 13:08. I slapped the wall and headed back. I was suppoed to see June out there but I think she passed me real early, when I stopped at Starbucks to take care of some "problems" I was having.

Mile 7 took me to the edge of downtown in 12:52. Water at Sabine and the first of the goat trails along the bayou highlighted Mile 8, clocked in at 13:06. Surprisingly, it wasn't too wet along the bayou, especially considering last night's storms. I would have expected a lot more mud and puddle hoppin'.

More goatin' at mile 9 (13:16), then up out of the muck and back onto Memorial for mile 10 (13:22). I cranked it up a bit for mile 11 and the last 1.18 miles, running 12:47 pace for mile 11 and bringing it home at 12:35 pace. I saw June waiting at her car and I let out a patented WARHOOP!!! BRING IT ON!!! (the marathon that is).

Total time - 2:39:57 for 12.18 miles

Another 13 minute mile and I would have handily beat my half marathon time by 7 or 8 minutes. Not too bad for a training run one week into my taper.

Oh, and I did this run without the fuel belt. I scoped out all the water fountains that Doug mentioned in a comment the other day and stopped for water at each of them. It was good recon for the 14th.

God bless!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Some 2007 goals

I was setting up my 2007 running log, getting ready for Monday and it asked for my distance goal for the year. I put 1250 miles. Considering my total miles for 2006 were 504, that may sound a bit ambitious. I would like to keep a consistent 25 miles per week for the year. So, with a couple of weeks off for whatever reason, 25 miles over 50 weeks is 1250.

I don't know if I would call this my primary goal for 2007 but it is a great springboard for some of my other goals. To keep a consistent running regimen, I will need to continue to drop more lbs. Of course, conversely, dropping more lbs. will certainly improve my running. So, consistent with my mantra, my top goal for 2007 is to live "a healthy lifestyle with running as a key component."

I've been rather self-absorbed this Summer and Fall with my running, trying to accomplish a lot of things and have regretfully not taken enough opportunities to give back. So, in 2007, it is my goal to officially volunteer in some capacity for 5 or more events. Since I don't see myself racing quite as much in the spring as I did this Fall, I would like to avail myself of the opportunities to work CPR/AED at a few of the HARRA races this year, particularly in the Spring.

Another goal is to PR at all my previous race distances. My current records are as follows:

5K - 36:45
6K - 52:04
10K - 1:18:35
half marathon - 2:59:56
25K - 3:38:11
30K - 4:19:15

I guess I need to include as a 2007 goal to finish my first marathon. It's hard to think of the Houston marathon in terms of "next year" but it does take place in 2007 so I'll include it here. I really have 3 goals for the race. I think it's a good practice to come up with 3 goals for any race. Since my main goal is just to finish, I'm not sure what would be the lesser goal. I guess if I had to state one, Goal #1 is to not injur myself. Goal #2 is to finish. And my "if everything goes perfectly" goal is to finish under 6 hours.

For the Flying Pig marathon, my #1 goal is to finish. After that, my goal is to better my Houston marathon time. And my "if everything goes perfectly" goal is to finish in 5:40:00 which is 13 minute pace. That's ~45 seconds off my Houston "if everything goes perfectly" goal pace. I think with the continued weight loss and training that this is a reasonable goal.

Of course, these all hinge and will always be trumped by the single most important goal to me. That is to remain healthy and free from injury. I will continue to train conservatively and to take no chances when it comes to risking injury. That doesn't mean I won't be trying my hand at some speedwork or perhaps tackling some hills here and there. It does mean that I will listen to my body, take care to not overtrain, and continue to train with a humble and thankful mind and attitude. Staying healthy and injury-free overrides any other goal I have set for myself, plain and simple.

There may be more to follow!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sparse turnout at the Hop!

Only 5 Striders turned out at the Hop tonight. I know the holidays are busy and there are a lot of folks out of town. Still, I was expecting to see Steve B out there. Sure missed you, buddy! Still, fun was had.

I took off about 10 minutes early for my warmup and ran into Yong Collins heading back towards the picnic table. She turned right around and ran the remainder of the 2 miles with me. Think she had already done 8 and is tapering off in preparation for the Kingwood marathon on Monday. I guess Yong didn't mind running 13 minute miles with me. :o) I felt like I picked up the pace pretty good for me while we were running together. Yong is super cool. Turns out she knows my new bestest running buddy, Dusty well. Anyway, Yong told me about her training and about running marathons and gave me a few pointers. Interestingly, Yong, a big-time, fast, veteran of Lord knows how many marathons, does not do speed work at all during marathon season. She said she does speedwork in the summer but none at all during marathon season.

I felt really good tonight. The Hop routine, although still very challenging, is coming a bit easier to me than the first time I did it. I completed all the exercises, including the Greyhounds, in good fashion. Of course, the 2 mile warmup was fun and I was feeling good. I just ran about 15 mintues for the cooldown as it was getting late and I'd like to run 4 or 5 in the morning.

A friend of mine today was talking about pace groups for the marathon. I guess I never really considered it but I looked on the web site today and they have a 6:00 hour pace group. I wonder if that would be a good idea to join them. Alternatively, Dusty said he would pace me to a 6:00 hour finish if I wanted him to. His goal is to finish and continue his streak so that's another option. Wonder what others think about this. Any advice?

God Bless!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Momma Matt told me there'd be days like this

Last time I visited the best barber shop in town, I remember Matt telling me about a day in the near future where I would feel pretty good and go out for a run. Then after about a mile, I would just feel like I couldn't take another step. My strength would be zapped and I would just walk back to the car and go home.

Well, Matt, I got 3 miles tonight and felt like that. Completely zapped. And what's wierd is I was kind of pumped up going into tonight's run. I mean my legs felt good. My tummy was feeling good. Stretching was great! I felt strong. Then WHAM!!! I just packed it in. Walked a lot of mile 3 but finished it anyway.

I'm not gonna try and figure out what's going on. It's really no big deal. One thing is that it's real easy after doing longer runs to blow off 16.5 like it's JUST 16.5 miles. But 16.5 miles is a long way. So, I'm probably still feeling the effects of that run on Saturday. Plus, yesterday was Christmas and I ate my share of bad food including more sweets than I've probably eaten the whole month. So, I was draggin a bit tonight.

I've eaten well today, though so we'll see what tomorrow's 8 miler brings. I owed 2 miles anyway so I'll give it back to tonight's run and call it 5. :o)

Report from the doc

I went to see the doctor this morning. What a great office visit. I was signed in, saw the doctor and was out of there in about 1 hour. Guess the day after Christmas is a good time to visit the doctor.

So, NO HERNIA!!! No problem other than a possibly a "strain" or some inflammation. He seems to think some heavy duty doses of motrin would do the trick real quick. I guess this doctor, who I've never seen before, thought he would be funny. I told him that I had this pain in my abdomen that was aggravated when running. He said, "Well, you know what I say. Stop running." Then he laughed uncontrollably at his own sick joke. So I said, "Well, I'd like to see another doctor" with a straight face. He realized quickly that I didn't think that was funny.

Now, it looks like the taper is on. Strangely, after a couple of missed runs from being sick, recovering from the 30K, and trying to shake this abdomen thing, this week's mileage will actually be up from the last few weeks. Some taper, huh? My weekly mileages the last 3 weeks have been 21, 13, and 22, down from 25, 29, and 34 in weeks before that. Now, this week, if I follow Hal's week of taper, I'll log 29 miles plus the 2 extra yesterday. Guess I could give those two back on Wednesday if I had to. So, if the motrin starts to work and I feel 80% or so this week, here's the schedule.

Monday - 2 (done)
Tuesday - 5 miles
Wednesday - 8 miles (may give 2 back)
Thursday - 4 (probably HOP'n)
Friday - rest
Saturday - 12 miles
Sunday - rest

I saw a couple of movies this weekend that have me fired up. First, I saw the new Rocky Balboa movie. AWESOME!!! Then, my son got the movie Rudy for Christmas and we watched that yesterday. Talk about a couple of motivational flicks. I think I'm ready for the marathon RIGHT NOW!!!


Monday, December 25, 2006

Gathering information

About an hour before a house full of family and friends were due to arrive for Christmas dinner, I decided to go on a little fact finding mission. I donned the cold weather running gear and took off out the front door for a little spin.

I figured one of two things would happen. Either I'd end up after a couple of miles with the same pain that cheated me of my 21 miler on Saturday or I'd feel relief. Although I knew it was still there, the pain in my abs didn't bother my run at all. It was a short recover run at an easy pace but it was a good test. If nothing else, it gives me a little more information to take to the doctor when I visit tomorrow (hopefully).

Total distance - 2.0 miles
Splits - 13:25 / 13:28

That brings me to another minor problem. I don't have a doctor!!! Besides Koala and my podiatrist, I don't really have a doctor. I have a physical exam done every year at the Memorial Hermann Wellness Center but as far as a GP or Family Practice doctor, I don't have a clue who to call. And do I go to a GP for this ab problem or to an orthopaedic? I guess I'll figure it out tomorrow.

This week is shaping up to be good and bad. It's bad because the rest of the family is going to DW's house in LA through the New Year's weekend. It's good because the rest of the family is going to DW's parents' house in LA through the New Year's weekend. :o) Yes, I'm gonna miss them big time but I have a lot going on at work this week and I need to concentrate on my nutrition and my running. This is much easier to do by myself. So, a lonely week but hopefully a good week 1 of taper time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Major shrinkage!!!

First things first. Bessie, what kind of cruel joke was that? How in the world did I let you talk me into a 15-minute ICE BATH?!?!? You made it sound so fun. IT WASN'T!!! I still don't know where "everything" went to!!! All I know is I'd better feel like a million dollars by this time tomorrow and "everything" had better fall back into place real soon or you're gonna owe me a chocolate milk. :o)

And... let me just say, JUNE!!! YOU DID IT!!! When I saw you coming down picnic loop I was like, WOAH!!! June's bookin' it. I think that's the strongest I've ever seen you finish a run. Oh, wait...I've never seen you finish a run. Seriously, congratulations. You are sooooo gonna rock the marathon. And glad to hear you've finally had a come-to-Jesus about the hills. Whatever Bill said or did, WTG!

And Steve Bezner rocked the house today, finishing the longest Longest Long Run distance of 23+ miles in about 7:25 pace. Can you say BQ? Congrats, Steve

Jessica was all smiles too at the finish. I think that was a distance PR for Jessica. Either way, congrats on a great run!!!

Now, I've been sworn to positive thoughts about today by Coach Steeeve. You're not gonna hear me repeat any negative statements or thoughts about today. So, you'd better be sure and listen close the first time (that's an old Hee Haw line in case you don't remember).

Today's run was fabulous (see? postitive thoughts). Seriously, the weather was perfect and I had the honor of running with 18-time veteran of the Houston marathon and overall incredible person, Dusty Cook. Dusty is a wealth of knowledge about marathoning and running and shared some great tips and stories with me. We talked about running, the Lord, kids, business, running...It was a blast. I think I've made a good friend. Thanks for the tour of the course, Dusty. You are awesome!!!

Dusty left me at about mile 16.5, not because he was tired of running slow but because I had to stop. The spot in my lower abdomen that has been nagging me all week really flared up bad starting at around mile 11. I was gutsy for a while but stopped at the water stop at around 16.5 and that was it. Dusty went on and finished in great fashion. I hitched a ride back with Chris and got to hang around and watch everyone come in, Dusty and June included.

So, I don't really know what's going on with my abdomen. A few people I've talked to doubt it's running related. I don't know anything about that area but I'm kind of suspicious that it may be a hernia. I'm going to get it checked out on Tuesday.

I told Steeeve that it may be a hernia and he admonished me that whatever I do, don't watch this video, which happens to be the funniest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. Thanks Steeeve for the laugh. I needed it.

I received a complaint from SB that my posts were getting too long and when they're too long, he just put's "good job, Vic" in the comments and skips reading the post. So, I'm ending here. :|

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Too much, too soon!!!

No, not me. The verdict is still out on me. I'm talking about a world-class athlete, possibly the world's best athlete, who recently decided to have a go at the NYC marathon with less than adequate training. That's right. I'm talking about Lance Armstrong.

I discovered recently a poorly publicized fact that the “shin splint” problem that nagged him during his training and in the marathon is really a stress fracture. He must now avoid impact-related training for 6-12 weeks as it heals.

Lance may have the most well-developed aerobic system in the world but he committed a classic new runner mistake. He did not train to prepare his musculoskeletal system for the pounding it took during marathon training and actually running the marathon. This is why it is almost univerally advised that a new runner run for a year or more before attempting a marathon.

I always say to other noobs, like me, on the RW forums that "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." What I mean is, like Lance, just because you can go out and run 20 miles or do a hard Yasso workout or a tough hill workout, doesn't mean you should. The pounding that you take when you run is immense. And on top of that, like me, many new runners are overweight, increasing the stress on joints, muscles, tendons, cartilage.

If I were reading this post, I'd say, "Well, Vic, you sure don't practice what you preach. YOU just started running in March and YOU're running a marathon. What's up with that?" Well, that would be correct. What I am doing is NOT the smartest thing and probably over-ambitious. Looking back to June/July, I and others would have probably predicted that I would have ended up in as bad a shape as Lance if not worse.

I have, however, done things a lot differently from Lance. I think the one most important thing is that I have not been afraid or ashamed to run slowly. Sure it helps that my aerobic system isn't well-developed and I probably couldn't run fast if I wanted but I always run within myself. Lance probably made a mistake by committing to the sub-3 hour goal. Also, I listen to my body and back off at any sign of trouble. Lance's shin splints were nagging him throughout his training. I know that Lance is a world-class athlete with the whole world watching him. He has sponsors, interviews, magazine covers, and a whole lot of other pressure. Fortunately, I have the luxury of stepping back from the marathon whenever I choose. There's no shame for me in stepping back to the half and living to run a full another day. (No, June, I'm not switching to the half!).

I think Lance, like many new runners, set himself up for this. Was it worth it? Probably!!! Will he heal? I'm sure. Does he have regrets? I doubt it. But I think it's a good lesson for new runners.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Test drive in the jungle

Wow, this morning felt like some scene out of Predator where those guys are traipsing through the jungle, sweating profusely, swatting flies. The mosquitos were back, the humidity was back, and the profuse sweating was back despite temps in the mid-70's.

I was a little disappointed that the doc's at Koala left today's workout up to me. Dr. Doyle, who saw me on Monday, was not in the office yesterday so all I got from the other Dr. Doyle was the standard spiel, "go ahead and run, unless it hurts or affects your gait." So, the plan this morning was left up to me. Although I would have liked to go longer, I decided to do 3 since this was my first run this week after a couple of treatments. BUT!!! Even though I wasn't going long, I needed a little more rigorous test drive than an very easy 3 might give me. So, I kicked it up a notch and boy did it feel GOOD!!!

Splits - 13:25 / 12:57 / 12:19

I felt really good. I knew the abdomen was there as there was still some residual pain but just a little bit. I actually couldn't tell if it was inflammation or just soreness from the hurt that Bre put on me with her deep tissue massage thing. On Tuesday, when Bre "exposed" the area, her eyes got big and her jaw dropped. I'm thinking, well...never mind. I won't tell you what I was thinking. She exclaimed, "Yikes, I bruised you up pretty bad yesterday." At least I have the receipt so I can explain those bruises to the wifey-poo.

June, I don't want to argue about this now but shows 41 degrees at 6 am on Saturday rising only to 57 by noon. Mmmm doggie!!! If that holds, it's gonna be the most awesome day!!! Great day for a distance PR for Vic and June and Bill (I think) and Jessica and ... who else? I'm getting psyched!!! LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!

Oh, and Bill, if you're gonna try to lead me astray, you should know my real weaknesses. KFC, Pizza Hut meat lovers pan pizza with extra cheese, and hot Shipley's donuts. It's making you hungry, isn't it? You're going down!!! I'm going down!!! I will be THE WINNER LOSER!!! Doh!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I can vaguely recall the last time I tried to do the elliptical trainer. I vividly remember how laborious it was. I remember not being able to do it more than 5 or 10 minutes without a break.

Well, this morning's return to the dreaded trainer after a long haitus was nothing like I remember. I had no problem doing 45 minutes and actually got into what felt like a groove once I got going. The purpose today was to just get a workout in while my abdomen heals. I worked up a pretty good sweat. I got to where I could let go and sort of swing my arms like I was running and it was kind of fun. Of course, afterwards, I walked outside to get my clothes out of my car and I was longing to be OUTSIDE, RUNNING!!! I actually ran to my car, maybe 100 feet. Only felt the abs slightly.

I'll be following doctor's orders to the letter and WILL be ready for Saturday's LLR.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Do I have to experience everything?

Well, so far I've experienced long runs, short runs, long races, 5K's, 10K's, a half marathon, a 25K, a 30K, ibuprofen, tempo runs, cold weather, warm weahter, PR's, crashes, group runs, solo runs, hills, Terry Hershey, trail runs, Gu's, fuel belts, night runs, morning runs, Christmas lights runs, epsom salt baths, chafing, hot weather, cold weather, warm weather. Seems like I've done it all in the past 7 months. Guess the journey wouldn't be complete without a mid-marathon-training injury. But I've done the whole injury thing before. In fact, I did it BIG TIME!!! So, I really could have done without this fun experience.

Actually, it's more of a nag than an injury, but enough of a nag to keep me from completing my 14 miler on Sunday. And enough of a nag that I was at Koala this morning when the doors opened. So, where is this nag? Well, you would think I'd have had problems with my ankle or my knees, or my ITB, or shins or PF or achilles. But, NO, it's my lower abdomen. And when I say lower, I mean L-o-w-e-r!!! Like just below my belt but above my...ahem!!!

Don't know how it happened. After the 30K, my whole body pretty much felt like crap. As the week progressed, everything started to feel normal again, except this spot in my abdomen. I really felt it after the Christmas Lighs run. Then again on Friday night. Jamoosh, no, I didn't ditch those miles just for a Christmas party. I think when I posted that, I was in denial. In fact, I've been in denial until yesterday morning when my long run was cut short. It wasn't that I could not have run through the pain. It really wasn't that bad. But I wanted to not do anything to aggravate it more until I could see what the problem was.

So, the kind folks at Koala have agreed to get me back in good form by Saturday's important LLR. After treatment today, I'm confined to the elliptical tomorrow. Another treatment tomorrow and possibly back to running on Wednesday and Thursday. Treatment Thursday and possibly Friday as well. Then the big day on Saturday. Woot!!

I'm down but by no means out. Doubtful I'll be able to brag about my 40 mile week this week like June will but if I can get to the start on Saturday healthy, I'll be satisfied with "just" a distance PR.

What a ride!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not to worry!

I ran 3 miles on Friday. I was planning on running 6 but needed to get to a Christmas party and was running late. I'm not going to fret about the splits.

Splits - 14:13 / 14:35 / 14:26

My main goal this week is to recover from the 30K and it's been tough. One option is to just stay in bed or stay off my feet at least. The other is to get back out there and try to get my legs moving again. I know one thing. There's no way I was going to be able to run the 33 miles that Hal had scheduled for me this week. With 4 on Wednesday, 3 Friday, and 14 tomorrow, I'll be cutting it back to 21 miles by week's end.

In my opinion, I've made a bit of a mistake in my training and it's too early to tell how it's going to effect my marathon. There is a huge difference between a training run and a race. I think it was a mistake to blow my wad on the 30K like I did and not have enough in the tank to continue proper training this week. I really gave the 30K a goal race effort. I went into that race without any sort of taper and now I'm supposed to jump right back into the meat of the final weeks of marathon training? Not a smart plan. I firmly believe that first timers should approach these warmup series races like a training run. Now, for me, to do that would have put me even further beyond the time limit. So, the best thing for me to have done would have been to do an 18 mile training run on Saturday and work the water station on Sunday.

Still, I'll never forget that 30K and do not regret doing it. If I end up trading that hammered 30K for a successful marathon, sobeit. Don't get me wrong. I'm not resigned to a poor performance come January 14. I'm just saying that this whole journey has been a blast and I wouldn't trade any run or race to date for anything.

So, it's tempting to fret about those 14:30 miles but I'm not. Like I said, if it were the week after the marathon, I wouldn't be running at all. Tomorrow is a 14 miler. It will be a confidence building run for me. I don't plan on trying to hammer sub-14 minute miles. I just want to do my thing and try to get my legs back.

God bless!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friendly competition. High stakes!!!

Bill and I have challenged each other to a little friendly competition. No, it's not an ultra marathon or even a hundred yard dash (this makes me happy as I'll never stand a chance against anyone in these events except maybe Barney the Dinosaur). And no, this isn't the something BIG that Bill and I are working on for the Striders. Those details will be coming soon.

Inspired by this week's Biggest Loser finale on NBC, Bill and I are going mano-a-mano with a little weight loss competition of our own. The stakes? Loser buys the winner a registration to the marathon of the winner's choosing. Personally, when I win, I'm choosing the Antarctic Ice Marathon for the low, low cost of $15,000. Not bad, huh? And airfare is included.

The rules are simple. We weighed in today. My starting weight is 295 lbs. The contest runs through the 2nd Tuesday in February. The person (it will be me) with the highest weight loss as a percentage of total starting weight will be the winner.

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!! Bill, I hate to say this but YOU'RE GOIN' DOWN!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas lights run

Tonight had to be one of the funnest times I've had since the last time the Striders got together. I don't know what the record is for the annual Christmas Lights run but we had a lot of people turn out. And it seems like a lot of newcomers as well. I think I met 3 or 4 brand new Striders tonight. AWESOME!!!

Our run took us a little over 4 miles through beautiful Tanglewood, between San Felipe and Woodway. Of course the theme tonight was Christmas. Many were adorned with festive items like Santa hats, lighted reindeer antlers, bells and blinkers. John Yoder wore what looked to be an entire string of lights. Not sure where the power pack was. He was a running Christmas tree. Many homes were lighted and decorated. We just ran through the neighborhood, enjoying the decorations and the fellowship. It was an absolute beautiful night. Afterwards, we hung out and talked trash, laughed a lot, and were generally very, very merry!!!

The pace was a little quick for me for my first recovery run after the 30K. Barb, our pacer, punished me pretty well. Actually, I kind of got in a good groove there at the end and felt pretty darn good. And it was just 4 miles so I'm sure no harm done.

Splits - 13:17 / 13:30 / 13:14 / 12:37!!!
Total time - ~53 minutes

I got to talk to coach a little about the rest of the week's training. He stressed that the most important thing right now for me is to stay healthy. The next big run for me is the 23 miler in 10 days. Everything between now and then is secondary. So, for now, I'm supposed to concentrate on recovering from the 30K. I know how to do that. I'll run a little longer tomorrow but not more than 5 or 6. Then, depending on how that goes and depending on which day I'd like to do my long run, I'll either run on Friday or skip it. We'll see.

On the nutrition front, Catherine wants me diligently logging all intake until the first of the year. We're really gonna knuckle down and eat right these last weeks before the marathon.

ok, what's the deal?

Is anyone else having problems with blogger? I'm trying to post commentson some blogs and I keep getting this "Could not log you in. Double check your password or try again later" error. This is only on Joe's, Erin's, Steve's, and a few others' blogs. What is the deal? Is it me or are others having probs? It must be everyone because none of those posts and ANY comments? Anyone know what's up?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What a pleasure

I had the fine pleasure today of visiting the greatest little barber shop in Houston, Bellaire's Original Barber Shop. Master barber and masters runner, Matt Wright, is the proprietor of this fine establishment. Matt's not as cute as Blanca, the girl at Visible Changes that usually does my hair, but he ain't chopped liver either. LOL!!! Seriously, Matt's shop is awesome. Great atmosphere and top quality barberin'. Oh, and this is a REAL barber shop. I mean warm lather neck shave, the whole 9 yards. Just like when my grandpa use to take me to the barber when I was a kid. Why I even had the hair in my ears trimmed. Only a real barber pays that kind of attention to detail. I would highly recommend visiting Matt's shop. It's reasonable, there's great service. Besides, where else you gonna go get a haircut and talk running at the same time?

The soreness from Sunday's 30K is subsiding. I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off. Well, my thighs and hammys kind of made that decision for me. Actually, this evening, I swam some easy laps at the athletic center so put me down for some cross training. I'm looking at doing my full schedule this week starting tomorrow with a very casually paced Christmas Lights run through Tanglewood with the Striders. Then, I'll either run Thursday/Friday/Sunday or Thursday/Saturday. I'll see how it goes. For now, feeling friskier and probably ready to run by tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It IS official

I found my official time for the 30K posted this morning and turns out the Garmin was just about correct.


Thanks to the race director for keeping the mat and computers turned on for a few extra minutes. You know, I was pretty much resigned last night to the fact that I may not be scored officially. Actually, I would have been ok with that. I was reminded lately that if I'm doing this just to get my name on a web site next to some numbers, then I'm doing this for the wrong reasons. I should be doing this as part of a healthy lifestyle with running as a key component. I want to live and live better. I want to be a better husband, a better father, a better employee, and a better follower of Christ.

Besides, this will be the last year I'll have to worry about time limits. (I hope!)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

30K in the bag

Put me down for another first today. My first 30K race. This morning, I completed the Methodist Sugarland 30K. The weather was cool, the course was flat, but the concrete was HARD!!! I'm hurting pretty good right about now.

I've been proud of my accomplishments to this point but this one was really special. The funny thing is, going into this race, my expectations were not high and I was frankly a little ho-hum about the distance. I was more excited about seeing Steve B nail his race than I was about my own. But this one turned out in the end to be a race that I'll look back on and say that I really performed to my best potential. I know there will be better races in my future and I hope that I continue to get faster but for now, THIS WAS THE ONE!! The one where it really came together.

I got up around 4 am and had my breakfast, and started drinking water. On the way to the race, I stopped at my Starbuck's and got a coffee to enjoy en route. As I was coming out of the store, a guy pulled beside me. He had just gone through the drive-thru. I guess he saw my bib because he said, "I'm going there, too!!!" That was pretty cool.

I arrived in plenty time to talk trash with the Striders under the Strider tent. All the usual suspects, Bill, Steve, Santos, Stacy, Amber, Hillary, Barry, Lee, Miriam, Chip, Jennie, Andrew, and many more. It was a lot of fun and the energy was definitely there. After making my way over to the Marriott to "take care of some business", I did some stretching and started to make my way over to the start. After a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and a quick prayer, the horn sounded.

The course took us out about 3.5 miles to a loop in residential Sugar Land, then 3 times around, and about 2 miles back to First Colony mall and Town Square. To me, the 4.2 mile loop added a lot of energy to the race. There were so many runners and friends. Some were passing from behind, some were running the opposite direction on the other side of the median. AND, best of all, the Striders sponsored and manned the most awesome water station at the west end of the loop. It was great to see Jen, June, Erica, Matt, who place 14th overall in yesterday's Sunmart 25K, Barb, oh, who else was there? I can't remember. It was just the best to get to see my friends and the waterstop, and THREE times at that. Thanks for cheering us on Striders.

My goal for this race was to finish. Plain and simple. There was this little thing about at 4:15 time limit which averages out to a 13:40 pace over 18.6 miles. So, with trusty Garmin buckled on my wrist, I just set out to keep that pace. I don't know what the deal was on miles 2 and 3. I was pacing with the Garmin right at 13:40 but when I hit the mile marker, it was 13:56 and 13:50 respectively. The Garmin show 1.02 for both these miles. I suspect that I took the long way (the outside "lane") on some of the long curves through the neighborhood, basically running over by the cones in the middle of the street. So, my bad on the extra .04 there. No worries though.

Mile 1 - 13:39
Mile 2 - 13:56
Mile 3 - 13:50

By mile 4, I was "warmed up" and feeling really good. One new tactic that I employed was walking through the water stops. This is really a no-brainer and I should have been doing this all along. It really turned out well, I did not lose that much time and I left each stop knowing that I had completly drank all my water and feeling refreshed. The short 30 second or so walk really does me good. So, mile 4 was a little quicker AND included a potty break and a water stop. But like I said, I left that water stop feeling quite frisky and the next 4 miles show that.

Mile 4 - 13:59
Mile 5 - 13:27
Mile 6 - 13:38
Mile 7 - 13:39
Mile 8 - 13:24

At this point, I remember saying to myself, "Ok, just an easy 10-miler left, and some change." I'll admit I was tired but not so much that I had to let up at all. I was still running as well as I can run, strong and confident but still patient. About this time, I start playing this little game in my head. One side of me feels good and wants to knock out a couple of 13:10's or maybe a 13 minute mile. The other part of me respects the remaining distance and says, "Easy, big fella!" Good thing my rational side won that debate because I could have really blew it right there at about the halfway point.

Mile 9 - 13:53
15K (Halfway there) - 2:07:52, right on pace
Mile 10 - 13:35

I just beat my 10-mile race PR by about 6 minutes

At this point, I'm patient at the water stops. Each walk break leaves me feeling a little rejuvenated. So, I walk through a stop, resulting in ~14:00+ mile, then the next mile is in the mid-13's.

Mile 11 - 14:00
Mile 12 - 13:35
Mile 13 - 13:53
Mile 14 - 13:52
Mile 15 - 14:18

Somewhere in here, I bettered my 25K race PR. I don't know by exaclty how much because I didn't take a split at the 25K marker. Oh, well.

Mile 16 - 13:40
Mile 17 - 14:16

About a mile and a half to go but I'm hurtin'. Also, it's gotten really lonely out there. No more water stops. No more shout-outs, no more exciting loops with friends passing. At this point, it's just me on that last busy stretch of road. The runners had the right lane as the cars zoomed by. The good thing was that the Town Square was in sight, towering over the mall. I couldn't see the finish but I could see the buildings by the finish. My first and last moment of weakness came as I walked a good 1 minute and 15 seconds. Then, I just decided that I was goign to finish this thing running, even if it was 14:45.

Mile 18 - 15:35 (with the extended walk break)

After turning left into the mall complex, and making a right with just about .2 to go, I'm surprised to see my whole family, screaming and cheering for me there at the end. This is the first race my family has ever seen me finish and it was a total shocker. Fortunately, the course was cleared out so the little one and my oldest ran along with me out in the street and then on the sidewalk. A few seconds after spotting the fam, Coach Steeeve appears on the left side of the street to bring me in with some awesome words of encouragement. Steve said, "There's your fan club!" And sure enough, many friends waited around for me to finish and were hootin' and hollerin'. Bessie's smile shined through the whole group. Steve B was cheering. My bud, June cheered me on at the end of yet another race. James, Matt, Barb, Jess, Erica, it was just AWESOME!!!

Last .6 or so - 9:06

I hobbled over to shirt pickup, hung around a bit talking trash, loved on the fam, and made my way over to the pizza. Then, we went over to Baker Street pub for some lunch.

I don't know yet if my official time will be posted. I came in a few minutes over the 4:15 time limit. They were taking the structure of the finish line down when I crossed but the mats and computers were still on. Thanks to whoever made that happen. You know who you are and I appreciate it. Still, I don't see my time on the results so I'm not sure if it got uploaded to the results page in time. And, in all the excitement, I failed to hit stop at the finish. How about that. I diligently recorded ever single mile split and even hit the lap at the 15K mark but I didn't get the finish. As near as I can tell, after deleting all the points where I wondered around after finishing, my finishing time was 4:19:15!!! I'm very happy with that. Of all the warmup series races so far, that's the closest I've come to getting in under the cutoff.

Thanks and congrats to all the Striders who raced today and volunteered. Special congrats to 2006 Strider Most Improved Runner, Steve B who averaged an incredible 7:27 over the 30K race. Also, my hat's off to Bill who despite some back and hip problems and a lot of pain, turned in a gutsy 3:18:13 and Jessica, that was a distance and race PR for you, right? You were smokin' out there, girl. Nice race. I know there are many other notables and I will not try to name them all. Of course our own Brett Riley took overall winner today in what I believe is his first warmup series appearance. It looks like the Striders brought home some serious hardware.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

So much to say!!

This blog often presents me with a dilemma. Do I ramble on and on with all my thoughts and goals and milestones and roadblocks for the day or week or do I organize my thoughts into separate, well-organized, well thought out posts, each with it's own theme or idea? I mean just the fact that I'm thinking about this may merit it's own separate post. Actually, that I'm thinking about this at all probably means I have too much time on my hands (or mind). I know that can't be the case as this is the first time I've sat still all week. Anyway, let the rambling begin!!!

I have mixed feelings and a few fears about this week. A lot of these fears could very easily be allayed with a good 30K race tomorrow. Nevertheless, I can't help this morning wondering what this week has meant to my marathon training. My head and my coach say not to worry but my heart says that I must have lost a step or two. On Monday evening, I felt a decent head cold coming on. By Tuesday morning, my nose was rotting off my face and my body felt weak. At that point, I had to make a decision. The decision was to not run until I felt better, not wanting to aggravate my condition and prolong it any longer than need be.

Three days later (Thursday), almost fully recovered and starting to feel frisky again, I finally got out and ran 2 easy miles around the neighborhood. The easy effort turned into a 5K effort after a quarter mile and I finished with an average 12:20 pace. It felt good to get the cobwebs out. I felt like I could go another loop at that effort but stopped there as I planned on getting up on Friday and doing 3-5 easy. I got up at 4:00 but got paged a couple of times while I was getting ready. By that time, I needed to get into the office. So, here I sit, with a whopping 2 miles logged this week after an easy and fun 11 mile trail run last Saturday.

However, here I also sit, rested, well fed, hydrated, and feelin' pretty darn frisky. Not a bad place to be less than a day before a 30K race. None of my long races to date have been on the heels of any kind of significant rest or anything like a taper. I know. I know. This week isn't exactly what you would call a taper and with my first full marathon staring me in the face just 32 days from now, it's not the time to take a week off. But I just can't see myself in my mind looking back to this week and saying, "if I'd just not been sick that week, I would have done better." I'm CERTAINLY not going to start looking for excuses before I even toe the line on January 14.

For what it's worth, I know that some of you more experienced runners out there may be worrying about this noob trying to make up for missing some miles this week. Well, just don't worry your pretty little heads. I ain't stupid!!! Where I am today is where I am today. Ain't no makeups!!! I'll pick back up where I left off on Tuesday and finish this thing strong.

Lastly, the scale's reading 293 now, well below the 300 mark and I ain't going back. (that's the 3rd use of the "ain't" word in this post. Sorry, Erica!) I predict my marathon weight will be around 285-289. I believe that's just about all the help I'm getting from physics. Now, Lord, please plan on good running weather in Houston on that Sunday. Please! Please!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I'm in love...

...with trail running!

Well, 2006 continues to be a year of firsts for me. As Steeeve says, "I got my first trail run ticket punched" yesterday at Huntsville with the Striders. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather to run at what must be one of the area's most pristine state parks. Huntsville State Park is the site of the Sunmart 50K/50mile ultra trail race coming up this weekend and the trails were in great shape.

My first inkling was to arrive early, ahead of the group and get a head start so that I would finish with the other faster runners. That idea was quickly squelched and for good reason. Even though our planned run looked simple on the map, there were several opportunities where a wrong turn could turn a 12 mile run into a 24 mile run. Fortunately, I was with some experienced runners, several of whom know Huntsville and the Sunmart route like the back of their hand. Special thanks to master trail runner, Barb, who hung back and guided me to a successful, enjoyable completion to my first trail run.

It was a welcomed escape from a tough month of training in November and I enjoyed not worrying about time and splits and pace and miles and distance. I just enjoyed running and romping through the woods, taking in the sounds and scenery and enjoying His creation.

When we met up for instructions, Steeeve started describing our route. He said stuff about this part being "technical" and that part being "just jeep trail" and some parts being "less technical." What in the world is "technical?" I'm not sure I know yet but I think it means a section of the trail where you need to navigate and plan each step carefully, thoughtfully executing your path down the trail. It really requires some concentration as I was constantly looking down, planning my next move. It's not at all like the thoughtless groove you get into when running in town at the Memorial Park loop. It really takes a lot more out of you than running on the road. Coach predicted that of the 20 or so of us, 4 would take a fall yesterday. Guess how many fell. Exactly 4. No harm done as the ground is for the most part pretty soft.

I may not know what "technical" means but I do know what hills are and I must say that the route took us over some pretty hilly terrain. Not the short, steep kind but the long, gradual kind. Of course, what goes up, must come down and each downhill section was a welcomed sight. I did end up walking a lot of the hills but maintained a good effort.

So, the 10.5 miles left me feeling pretty good. It's nice to cut back and not feel like I've totally destroyed myself. Still, it was a good workout. This morning, I feel it in places I don't normally feel soreness, like in the glutes and lower legs. I think the cutback this week on the long run is setting me up nicely for a good 30K next Sunday. I can't wait.

God Bless!