Saturday, February 24, 2007

Get lost!!

When things get a little tough, when motivation is hard to come by, GET LOST!!! Well, that's what I did not long after my previous post below. I decided to do some stretching, put on my shoes, and just head out the front door to run. No plan, no goal. Just run!

I frankly didn't know if I was going to do 5 or 15 miles. I'm on call this weekend so I just took my beeper and my cell phone and took off. I ran through uncharted parts of Fairfield, often running into dead ends and having to backtrack. The weather was warm and my low mileage this week had me feeling good. I ran for about 3 miles and then decided I'd run to the Athletic Center for some weight training. Another mile and I arrived at the AC for some chest and shoulder work. After about 30 minutes of working out, I cooled off with a mile run back to the house.

I really had a blast today. It felt good to just run and it felt even better to not worry about how far I was from home or how long it was going to take me to get back. It's definitely a good feeling to know that I could run for 10, 11, 13+ miles, no problem. I remember the days when I'd be "afraid" to venture too far out for fear I'd struggle to make the return trip. The confidence I have feels good.

A little rest tomorrow and maybe a little yard work. Then, I plan to go long on Monday evening. If I count my planned long run on Monday with this week's miles, that still puts me at 26 miles for the week, 2 more than last week. I guess the point is that I'm not as far off track with my training as I thought. Steady as she goes!!!

Disappointing week

I thought this week that posting my workout plan for the week on Monday like Barbara does would help keep me accountable. Well, yes, I am accountable. Everyone knew my plan and now everyone knows that I totally blew off my miles this week. And, this week, 11 weeks out from my marathon, is not the time to get complacent.

Marathon training, for me, takes a lot of energy, not just the physical energy of a weekly running schedule but a mental and spiritual energy as well. This week, and frankly since the second week of January, the mental and spiritual energy hasn't been there for me, at least where running is concerned. I wonder if I used it all up last fall. One difference presently is that some good things are happening at work and I'm really in a groove with my job. Instead of thinking every waking moment about my workouts and running goals, like last fall, I find myself engrossed in my work, thinking about the discussions from the day and what's going on tomorrow. We're in the middle of a big conversion at work and we're dealing with deadlines, politics, keeping everyone informed. Preparing for this go-live is kind of like preparing for a marathon. And this go-live is more than 12 months away. Anyway, needless to say, I'm a bit preoccupied with work.

So, no questions about how to make up for this week. I've learned those lessons. I know that missing my 15 miler this week is probably the only thing that hurt me but I'm not going to try to make it up. Actuallly, I could try to get it in Monday evening and not be that far off track. I think that would be better than skipping it altogether. Next week is a cutback week so I could get my 15 miler in on Monday and then be left with and easy 11 miler for my long run next weekend. Maybe I can make it work. The thing I'm worried about more is my motivation. I've got to find it again. I will!

Monday, February 19, 2007

This week on Run4YourLife

Last week's planned 37 mile week turned into a 24 mile week for a lot of silly reasons. Still, it wasn't a bad week. I had a great sub-13 m/mi 7 miler on Tuesday and a very decent long run on Saturday that I'm very pleased with. Plus, 24 is still my highest weekly mileage since the marathon so I still feel like I'm going forward. The exra rest on Wednesday and Thursday did me good I think as I was feeling just a bit dinged up.

I started this week in good fashion this morning with an easy 3 miler at Memorial Park. The weather continues to be perfect and I banged out 3 at average 13:50 pace. I classify this as a recovery run so nothing too hard. I really felt in the groove just as I was nearing mile 3. I looked at my watch and realized that it was getting late. Again, I got a late start. I'm getting way too civilized! So, I unashamedly gave that 4th mile back to the running gods, never to be seen again.

The plan for the rest of the week calls for some major, early AM incivility.

Monday - 3 mile recovery run
Tuesday - 7 miles easy (crack of dawn due to evening obligations)
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 7 miles easy
Friday - 15 mile LSD (so crack of dawn it could almost be counted with Thursday's miles)
Saturday - Rest or cross
Sunday - 4 miles recovery
Total miles for week ending 2/25 - 36 miles

Friday is going to be very uncivilized, trying to get 15 miles in before work starts at 8 am. I'm on call this weekend so I don't want to gamble on trying to get my long run in on Saturday or Sunday morning. It'll take me between 3:30 and 3:45 so that means I need to start around 3 am. Crap, that's just stupid. It's the only thing I don't like about my job, being on call. I may be able to have someone cover for me until 9 or 10 so that I don't have to start my run so early. We'll see.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Perfect Day

Yesterday (Saturday), was absolutely THE perfect day of for running so far in 2007. Not only was the weather perfect but and awesome group of Striders were out in force to lay some sole through Bear Creek park.

My schedule called for 14 easy miles. So, I was going to start around 5:30 or 5:45 and do the Big Bear Creek route with an extra lap around the soccer fields and finish ~about~ the time the rest of the Striders were completing 11. My start was a little TOO civilized though with a 7:45 arrival and the prospect of timing my finish with the Striders pretty much out the door.

I knew I would at least get to see the Strider pack out on the course and talk a little trash, even if it was just for a brief, passing moment. But much to my surprise and luck, Bill drove up very civilized, like me. For Bill, it wasn't laziness or wanting to sleep later. He actually thought for some strange reson that the Striders were starting at 8, not at 7. I say lucky for me because Speedy "Bill" Gonzalez was more than happy to run easy, providing me a rare running partner for my long run.

I had a great run. The weather was perfect and Bill and I talked trash for the better part of 2 and a half hours. When we ran into the Strider pack, there were reports that the back side of the park was flooded so Bill and I decided to finish our loop in Bear Creek, head back to the parking lot for 2 minutes of recovery and trash talking with the Striders, then 2.5 out Cullen and back, and repeat the Bear Creek loop. I felt good the entire run. My splits were all over the place but I stopped a few times for water. After those breaks, I felt good and always seemed to restart a little faster than when I stopped.

Here are the stats:
Total distance - 14 miles
Total time - 3:15:21
Splits - 14:10 / 13:50 / 13:52 / 14:23 / 14:02 / 13:45 / 13:31 / 13:54 / 14:22 / 14:09 / 13:28 / 13:46 / 14:15 / 13:48
Average pace - 13:57

This ended up being a bit faster than expected but the temps made for an easier effort. If I'm remembering right, this 14 miles sure came a lot easier than the last time I attempted that distance. Actually, looking back just now at my logs, yesterday was my FIRST attempt at the 14 mile distance. Last Fall, I jumped from 13 to the 25K with a 10 miler in between. My pace for the 25K was 14:05 and that put me down for a couple of days. The day after this 14 miles, I'm actually feeling like going out before supper for an easy 3. Well, it's progress. I sure like looking back at my logs and blog and seeing where I've been. That's fun.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Decisions, decisions...

I know I promised that this week was all about the miles and no quality stuff. But last night was too perfect and I was feeling mighty frisky so I had to make a decision. Do I follow Hal's program and do my regular mid-week, medium-long run at an easy LSD effort? Or, do I do a shorter, speed workout and get some quality in this week? Medium-long run or speed work? Oh, the decisions that must be made.

Not being able to decide, I did a medium-long tempo run. The best of both worlds. 7 miles at ~10K effort. Man, did that feel good! Here are the stats:

Venue - Memorial Park loop
Total distance - 7.0 miles
Total time - 1:29:14
Splits - 12:51 / 13:08 / 12:55 / 12:39 / 12:45 / 12:30 / 12:23
Average pace - 12:45

Despite the quick(er) splits and the intention to kick it up a few notches, I was conversational the entire run. I was huffing a bit that last mile but finished strong, not gasping and bent over like a mile time trial or anything like that. It was just a good, hard run.

I had the good fortune of seeing Steve out there a couple of times. Glad Steve decided to come out. After the run, we made our way over to Bubba's for another well-attended Strider's meeting. When I say well-attended, I mean we pretty much filled every chair in the joint. A good time was had by all and the HRM lecture was just dandy. At the meeting, Steeeve announced that the Strider's are funding this nice, little project to install mile markers along the Terry Hershey trails. I say little project facetiously. It's actually thousands of dollars that the Striders are contributing to give back to the running community. The money for the project was raised from hosting the RRCA national convention last year. I'm so proud of my club and proud to be a Houston Strider.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

37 turns to 36 early

Well, my planned 37 mile week has already turned into a 36 mile weeks with cutting my 4 miler short yesterday. It was the day after a long run and I didn't want to push a recovery run past 45 minutes so 3 it was.

I was one of just 3 or 4 runners out braving the rain to get our daily dose. I did about 14:20 pace through the puddles and very soft trail. Overall, a good run. Looking forward to the Strider's meeting tonght at Bubba's. I'm gonna try to get out of here around 4 to get my 7 in before the meeting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Feelin' Fine

When the feet hit the floor this morning, they felt like a million bucks. I'm really glad I did those 9 yesterday.

I finished the week a little short of goal with only 15 total miles. Still, it was a cutback week and I had a good long run so I think I'm in good shape. I'll be moving my schedule back a day as Sunday mornings are going away. We're going to start going to church on Sunday mornings instead of Saturday nights. Guess that won't be a problem until the Fall races come around again. It's nice to go to a church that has 15 services every weekend so we can be flexible.

So, the plan this week:
Monday - 4 miles
Tuesday - 7 miles
Wednesday - 4 miles
Thursday - Rest
Friday - 7 miles at MP
Saturday - 14 miles easy peazy
Sunday - cross training

I've really given myself 2 options on the Saturday long run. The schedule I'm following says 14 but I've got no problem with 11 or 12 if I ain't feeling it. The acutal schedule ramps up pretty quickly on the long runs and includes two 20-mile runs before taper. I've got the option to smooth that out a bit and work up more gradually to a single 20-mile run, 3 weeks out. Keeping it flexible.

By the way, with this week's schedule, including the 14-miler, I'll be at 37 miles by week's end, a new weekly distance record. Ambitious, huh? So, the focus this week is on just doing the miles. No kickers. No manly 11-minute miles at the end of my easy runs. Maybe a few strides here and there. :o) Marathon recovery is OVER!!! Let's get it on.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's official

Well, it's official! I'm declaring officially that I've gained weight. No, this isn't just day to day fluctuations. This is a bonifide, real-life weight gain. It's not too drastic of a gain, maybe 3-5 pounds but IT STOPS HERE!!! I know the reasons for the gain. It's nothing magical, nothing emotional, nothing but the simple fact that I've been consuming more calories than I'm burning. So, I'm putting an end to this right now. TODAY!!! Anyone doubt me? I wouldn't bet against me if I were you. :o)

Despite several things working against me this morning, I had a delightfully fanfriggintastic 9-miler this morning. First of all, the mexican food we ate after church last night, around 9 pm, was still sitting in my stomach like a ton of bricks. Then, I woke up this morning with the sniffles and some congestion and contemplated staying in bed. Fortunately, something inside me said, "Get your big butt out of bed."

Since the Wallow, I've had this nagging pain in my ankle. Not the bad ankle, the good ankle. And guess what. It's the same area where I had problems with the other ankle for so long. Still, this is different. The pain's not always there and it doesn't hurt when I run, only when I'm stretching. When I got to Terry Hershey park this morning, I started my stretching routine and had a horrific flashback as the pain in the side of my ankle (it's actually the peroneus longus/brevis) was back, this time on my one, good ankle. I acutally got in my car, started the ignition and drove off. I got to Hwy 6 and said, "Screw it!", made a u-turn and headed BACK to the park. I finished stretching and took off.

Good news! The ankle felt fine and the weather was PERFECT!!! I had made the right decision. I ran west from the gazebo to Hwy 6. This is normally my 10 mile route so I turned around at the water fountain just short of Hwy. 6. Then to Kirkwood and back home. Lots of friendly faces. I stopped short of Dairy Ashford for hugs from Barb and Nancy. It was just a perfect morning. The further into the run, the stronger I felt. I played around a lot, running over on the grass, picking up the pace on occasion going up a hill, stopping for water, taking in the sights. I took one detour between Dairy Ashford and Kirwood, running up on top on what I call the jeep trail, then back on the path on the way home.

Here are the stats:
Total distance - 9.12 miles
Splits (inclulde water breaks) - 14:34 / 14:49 / 14:12 / 14:01 / 14:18 / 14:27 / 14:10 / 14:10 / 13:31
short cooldown - the last .12 miles - 1:46 (14:45 pace)
Average pace - 14:16

On the way home, I spotted the Shepards' vehicle at Starbucks and indulged in some awesome Strider trash talking. Overall, a great morning.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Nice weather tonight

I haven't run since Tuesday so I was itchin' to get it on after work tonight. I made it over to Memorial Park after a haircut, got changed, stretched, and was on my way.

The plan was to just run easy, maybe at around marathon pace, for 3 miles. I did 2 and a little more at an average 13:40 pace and then something came over me. I've been thinking about the 36:45 5K I ran back in January of 2005, before my ankle went totally to crap. To date, that is by far the best race I've ever run. So, I've been wondering if given my current fitness, coming off the marathon, I would be able to touch that time for the 5K distance. To be honest, I really had no idea what that pace (~11:50) really feels like since most of my running this past year has been 13-15 minute pace.

So, after 2.2 miles, I hit the lap button and picked it up a notch to what might be 5K effort. I did the last mile in 11:34. Even though I was breathing hard, I felt like that effort could possibly be sustained for ~3 miles. So, if I had to bet, I'd say I've got a sub-36 in me right now, given the right conditions. But, we'll never know. I really don't have any 5K on the schedule until next Fall's Fired Up 5K in Sugarland. Racing on the weekend right now just wouldn't be prudent with my long runs ramping up as the Pig approaches fast. Still, that 11:34 mile really felt good and really got me wanting to do a 5K. Patience, I guess.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Out of control

Some observers from the Wallow have commented to me that they were worried about me going DOWN the hills. They worried that I was going too fast and was out of control. Frankly, that's how I thought you were supposed to go down hills, perpendicular to the ground with an exaggerated kick after toe off, lengthening your stride and "coasting." Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong and I'll put on the breaks next time. :o)

Ok, this sucks!!!

First of all, Blogger finally went and did it. They forced me to switch to new blogger, aka, Blogger Beta. It's a quirky platform and I've never liked it but it wouldn't let me go to my dashboard without switching.

In other wierd news, I dreamed last night that I was sick and had a terrible sore throat. I remember thinking in my dream that I was going to call in to work and that it was going to be a hassle trying to get someone to cover for me since I was on call today. And I remember from the dream re-setting my alarm clock to 5:45 which is the time I needed to get the first kiddo up to get ready for school. Well, turns out THAT part was real and I didn't get up at 4 to go running. And now that I'm on call, I don't see how I'm gonna fit a run in this evening. Wifeypoo is doing something at church tonight so I'm home with the munchkins doing homework, dinner, baths, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.,

By the way, would someone please remind me of what my focus is supposed to be right now and of the #1 thing that will improve my running? Please!!! Please!!! Remind me that losing weight is my focus right now. Not speedwork, not tempo runs, not hill work, not anything else but losing weight. That being the case, why would I opt for a short(er) interval workout that burns 885 calories over a 5-6 mile, easy run that burns well over 1100 calories? On the other hand, it's just an extra 200 calories to do the long(er) run and I could adjust my intake to make up for that. And the speedwork does add some much needed variety to my schedule which can only help me to enjoy myself more and therefore run more and therefore continue to burn calories. Think I'll stick with plan A. I'm such a dork!!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Recovery miles

I did 3 easy miles this morning. The weather was perfect. I was sore from the weekend but finished with no problems. I would have liked to have slowed down a bit more but felt comfortable at about 14:18 pace. Guess the weather had a lot to do with it. I'm sporting a new pair of Nimubus that Luke's replaced as the old pair were wearing like they were too wide. Felix defected the old pair out which had 180 miles on them and gave me a brand new pair. I downsized 1/2 a size and they felt great.

Speedwork tomorrow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Afternoon delight!

Even the best plans don't always come to fruition. I had a perfectly HARD weekend planned with the Buffalo Wallow race on Saturday and 10-12 miles of hills on Sunday morning with the Striders. On Saturday, though, wifey-poo told me that she invited the neighbors to come to church with us on Sunday morning. Originally, I had planned on going to church on Saturday night and going long in Sealy early Sunday morning but I wanted to join in the fun with our guests on Sunday so a Sunday afternoon long run was force upon me. This was the first time I had ever done my long run in the afternoon so it was a bit of learning experience being out of my routine.

I chose TH park for the venue. I really love running out there and the hill are good prep for the Pig. It was a most beautiful day, the one I know June's been waiting for and the afternoon provided lots of sunshine and warmth.

The garmin was dead and there are no mile markers at TH park (although Steeeve could give you distances within 5-10 feet at any point on the trail) so I had the unique opportunity to JUST RUN. And that's what I did. I just ran. I knew from my Fit days that 10 miles was out to Hwy 6 parking lot, then back to Wilcrest and in to the finish. I threw in the keyhole loop for good measure. I don't have a clue how long that is. I think it's ~.18 or something like that.

After about 30 minutes into the run, I was feeling drained. No energy! I realized that I had not really eaten much for breakfast and only a clif bar and gatorade for lunch. I made it to the water fountain just before Hwy 6 and had a Gu. I don't think I've ever really felt such a boost from Gu'ing before. By the time I reached the underpass at 6, I was feeling frisky again. It was like BAM!!! When that Gu hit, I felt fine. Pretty cool.

I really took my time on this run and felt like I was running very easy. I was feeling the Wallow from yesterday in some very unfamiliar places, like the arches of my feet and my butt and especially my knees. Obviously the hills took their toll. Still, I don't feel like I wandered at all into the abuse/overuse side of training. Sure, these double runs on the weekend are stressing me in new ways but I continue to listen to my body and be flexible with my training schedule. Speaking of flexibility, Hal called for 12 today but I opted for 10, knowing that the Wallow was a tough race plus the TH hills were an added stress on top of that, not to mention I'm only 3 weeks out from the marathon and officially still recovering.

My total time, not including water stops and a couple of 1 - 1.5 minute stretching sessions was 2:25:48. That's ~14:20-14:25 pace, probably closer to 14:45 if I include the breaks which is just perfect for my long runs. Moreover, the effort remained easy and conversational.

One thing...there are sure a TON of bikers out on the TH trails after morning passes. I mean many, many bikes and some of them are going FAST!!! I witnessed two separate pileups and the park ranger had to drive his cart out twice to pick up injured folks and their bikes. It's nice that that kind of help is available in the park, but I guess you have to call 911 to access it. It can be dangerous out there, especially for kids, but for the most part, people were courteous. But, accidents DO happen.

It's good now to have sore legs and feel like I trained hard this weekend. I haven't really been sore at all since the thon and I'm ready to feel the pain again.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

See the Mud! Be the Mud!

With all the rain we've had over the past 2 weeks, I had my doubts about how this race was going to go off. I kept flashing back to photos from the Tour de Bayou where the runners were bounding through calf-deep water without missing a stride. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on whether or not you're a "real" trail runner, the two days before the race helped to dry out the course with the exception of a just couple of muddy bogs.

One of my goals for 2007 was to PR at ALL previous race distances. Since the number 6.3K trail runs doesn't seem to be growing, I knew this may be my once chance to stay on target with this goal. The last and only time I ran the Buffalo Wallow was Spring of 2005 and my time was 52:04. This was the last event I ran before the pain in my ankle became too unbearable to run on and I had to have surgery later that year.

Strategy for the race was to hold a slightly easier than 5K effort, walking up the hills to save my energy, going perpendicular on the down side, and to pushing it on the second half of each of the 3 loops. The hills were mostly on the first part of the course and were short and quite steep. My plan for the few muddy parts of the course was to throw caution (and cleanliness) to the wind and just go straight through it like it wasn't even there.

It's kind of disconcerting when you're in a race and already breathing hard after just 5 minutes. The hills were tough from even the get go but the flat parts on the second half of the loop provided much needed recovery. I told Erin after the race that the course was tough but I really felt at home running on the flat portion up along Allen Parkway. I'm still learning, too, how to pace myself for various distances and venues. I'd like to get to where I don't leave anything out there on the course. I don't want to burn out too early but waiting until the last .5 mile to pour it on isn't the way to do it either. I think I ran this race well, right on that edge between burning out too early and being too conservative.

Oh, my time. Well, I ended up with a finishing time of 48:57, a 3:07 PR. I'll take it. Take it? I'm thrilled. Mission WAY accomplished!!!

Congratualtions to the Houston Harriers for putting on a very fun event. The chip timing was new this year, even without an increase in cost. This is the best $10 race I've ever done. Of course, the Striders were out in force, despite this not being one of the Strider "biggies." The weather made for much frivolity and trash talking after the race. Overall, an awesome day in the mud.

Friday, February 02, 2007

BW update

Reporting live from the floor of the Expo, no, I mean from my office...

On my lunch break today, I took a drive down Allen Parkway to see what the course for the Buffalo Wallow 6K looked like. I am glad (or sorry, depending on what you're wishing for) to report that the course looks good. Yes, there are a few muddy spots which will present at least a little fun for you sloppers out there but for the most part, the course is dry and passable. I didn't walk the entire course but I did go "down" at the east end of the course, down to the lower part of the course and all was well. The hill, west of Studemont, that goes up and then back down later looked fine. I did not walk down under the bridge. The area where the tents and festivities will be set up looks pretty wet. That's the report.