Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beautiful morning

More cool temperatures this morning as I got 4 feel-good miles in at Memorial Park.

Total distance - 4 miles
Splits - 13:11 / 12:50 / 12:37 / 12:35
Total time - 51:14
Average pace - 12:51

I'm surprisingly well-recovered from Sunday's pounding at the half marathon. I really felt good this morning and would have run 2 or 3 more had I not run out of time. I'm bummed that I have to miss Kenyan relays tonight but DW is going out with a girlfriend for dinner so I'm "in charge" of the household tonight.

The rest of the week is going to be interesting. I'm on call this weekend so I'm going to try to run long Friday morning before work. I've already told my boss that I won't be in until around 9:30 or 10:00. I'm looking at going 14-15. Don't know where yet. So, the week looks like this:

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 4 miles
Wednesday - 6-8 miles with the Striders
Thursday - rest (NOT Boot Camp C, Awwwww! I'm sad)
Friday - 15 mile long run
Saturday - rest and soccer games (the kids, not me)
Sunday - 3 miles
Total miles for the week - 28-30

So, I'm back to daydreaming at work about running, reading blogs, writing blogs, checking the McMillan running calculator, checking my VDOT, updating my training plan, checking my logs, logging my calories, just generally obsessing. Like Santos said, "Doesn't your boss know you have a running problem?" I've been working my butt off and my butt's been getting bigger. It's time to start running my butt off and see if that works. :)

Lastly, I ran into one of my all-time heroes this morning at the park. Reuben. Ok, get this. Reuben was getting in and easy 18 this morning to get his day started. 18 MILES!!! Not 18 minutes. Reuben is one of the most genuine people I know. The world could use a lot more Reuben's. That's for sure.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Late last night, I posted my strategy/plan for this morning's Half Marathon, something I've done before a number of races. In some ways, today was either make or break for me. I really needed a good race and some indication that I'm going to be able to get back on track for Houston. To be honest, a poor race today and I may very well have come home and switched from the full to the half for January. I've never finished a long race strong. Never! I needed to finish strong today.

I arrived right on time and made my way over the marble floored bathrooms at the Doubletree like a wily Houston racing veteran. My buddy, Danny, from the Woodlands was impressed with that tip. Then I made my way over to the machine. I'm referring to the machine that is the Koala/Luke's Houston Half marathon, managed and directed by the Houston Striders This race runs like a clock. Every detail in order. Plenty bathrooms, smooth chip pickup, fun/challenging course, perfectly run water stations, fun, fun, fun post-race party, just a wonderful race experience.

I picked up my chip, tied it on and went to the back of the pack and did some stretching. After a wonderful rendition of our Star Spangled Banner, we were off.

Mile 1 was mile 1. I wanted to get through the first couple of miles with plenty left in the bank, just warming up. Still, I didn't want to borrow too much time and blow it early. Mile 1 was 13:28. Now, that's Garmin pace. I don't know if it was the buildings or what but Garmin arrived at 1 mile about 30 yards short of the first marker. I think there was a problem with the Garmin at the start because I arrived at the mile markers consistently about 10 or so seconds late. No worries, though.

Mile 2 - 13:34. I'm still doing my easy, warmup thing here. At this time I'm thinking I'd like to get to 3 miles feeling really, really fresh. Then it's just a 10-miler after that.

Mile 3 - 13:37. I lost about 20 seconds with a bathroom break at the 2.5 mile water stop. Still, no worries. When I came out of the port-a-potty, I found myself in the middle of a leapfrog with a couple of FBF'ers. They were so cute. "Tag! You're it." I must admit it was annoying. I left them at the 45 underpass and never saw them again.

Mile 4. Ok, it's time to get down around that 13:15/13:20 mark that I wanted to run through the halfway point. I ended up with a 13:11. Just right on the mark.

I'm really starting to feel good at mile 5. I had a Gu at the water stop. Mile 5 split was 13:03

After mile 5, I start to think about easing my way just below 13 for 2 or 3 miles.

Mile 6 - 12:52
Mile 7 - 12:41

Got a great shout out over the loudspeaker from Coach at the halfway point. Oh, and I forgot to mention. This race, I sported sunglasses for the trip(s) eastward and if you ask me, it made all the difference.

Not much commentary from here on out. The splits speak for themselves.

Mile 8 - 12:36
Mile 9 - 12:24
Mile 10 - 12:19 (starting to really crank it up with a little over 5K left).

I'm so zoned out that Steeeve starts running with me and it's well over 100 yards before I even notice him there at my side. I notice a shadow and turn to see coach running there with me. I think I said, "Hi! Bye!" It really was good to see you there Steeeve. Oh, that reminds me. Reuben jumped in around mile 7 or 8 and was going to run with me for a few miles but I think I dissed him too. I feel so bad. It was great to see my hero, Reuben, but I think I just wanted to go by myself. Reuben, you rock!!!

Mile 11 - 12:12
Mile 12 - 12:17

With a little over a mile to go, I had managed to get my average pace down in the 12's and I start to thing that I may just finally finish a race strong.

Mile 13 was tough. I was fading and fading fast. I took a couple of short walk breaks but maintained a 12:20 pace nonetheless. I cruised in for an OFFICIAL 2:48:45. That's right!!! 11 minutes and 14 seconds faster than last year.

Here are the splits again so you can see them all together - 13:27 / 13:34 / 13:37 / 13:11 / 13:03 / 12:52 / 12:41 / 12:36 / 12:24 / 12:19 / 12:12 / 12:17 / 12:20 / 11:33 pace for the final .1 miles. Now, by calculations, that's about a 50 mintute per mile negative split for the second half of the race.

I'm excited about the PR. I'm excited about the 2:48 and change which is the official cutoff time for the race and puts me on track for a sub-6 hour marathon at Houston. But I'm stoked at how I finished this race. I have NEVER finished a race strong. I've always faded and faded hard at the end of these long races. Today, I was picking people off left and right the second half of the race. Now THAT was a totally new experience for me and one I could get used to. :) Per my buddy Danny as well as coach Matt, I just set my sights on the next person and just worked away at her. Then, I'd put another in my sights and pick him off. Lordy, I don't know how many runners I passed that last 6 miles but it was a blast. I ran through all the water stops and Gu breaks. I only walked a little going up the underpass at Studemont and for about 10 seconds at mile 13.

I so needed this race. And to think I almost didn't run it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that my training has sucked the last few weeks. I just registered for this race on Saturday afternoon. Coach suggested that I should be energized after a race like this and I AM!!!


Where's the next giant?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Will it every end?

This weather is unbelievable. I think it's going to be like this all the way through January, don't you? I mean when was the last time we ever had a 10-day forecast like this?

I'm really pumped about the half tomorrow. Maybe a little too pumped given I only decided Friday afternoon that I was going to run it. Part of me (a big part) tells me I'm not ready. One day, after January 13th, I'll confess to the world what a scary place I was in at the end of October. I'm definitely not where I should be, but I'm not out of it yet. I'm right at that point where either I start ramping up the mileage, LIKE NOW!!! LIKE TOMORROW!!! or the Houston Marathon is going to quickly turn into the Houston Half Marathon for me.

Goals and strategy for tomorrow's half... Even though my training is not where I thought it would be by the end of October, I still can't fathom not PR'ing tomorrow. The question is only how much of a PR. I can see myself with a 2:55, no problem and that would be a 5 minute PR. But, I'm shooting for sub-2:50. I'm going to have to run hard but I think it's doable, not thanks to any increased fitness I've gained since the 10-miler but thanks in most part to the weather.

Strategy... I'll employ a similar strategy/plan as I did for the 10-miler. Mile 1 is mile 1. Just trying to settle in and get warm. I'll work to settle into that 13:20/13:15 pace for the first 6 or 7 miles. Then, I'm going to gradually ease it down to ~12:50/13:00 pace for miles 8-12. If I've got anything left, I'm just going to let it all out for mile 13 and just try to finish a freaking race strong. I mean it! I'm tired of finishing weak. At this point, I'd rather walk the first half of a race for a chance to finish strong, RUNNING in, not limping in or walking all but the last quarter mile so that at least I can run across the finish line. I'm sick of that. If I finish strong tomorrow, I'll be happy, no matter what the clock says.

Ok, let's go slay some giants!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun Times

What a glorious, beautiful morning for a race. I had three goals for the race. My oh-my-goodness-I-must-be-dreaming goal was a 2:05 or 12:30 pace. My second goal was to run a 130 minutes, 13:00 pace for the math impaired. :) My last fallback goal was a 10 minute PR. That's right, 10 minutes. Heck, I ran a 5 minute PR during a training run last weekend.

Friday afternoon found me in the barber's chair talking race strategy with coach Matt. We talked about the importance of having a plan going into a race. Of course, the extent of my race plans to date has been "I'm gonna get started and see how I feel after a mile or two..." That's not a plan. So, the plan today that we came up with was to warm up for mile one and get into my goal marathon pace which is 13:20. I was going to hold that pace through mile five. Then for the next 4 miles, the plan was to work my way down towards 12:30 and then just let it all hang out for mile 10.

Mile 1 - 13:23

I started out just right. I chatted with James for a couple hundred yards. We caught up on things and he was off. There were very few people behind me but hey, that's ok.

Mile 2 - 13:17
Mile 3 - 13:21
Mile 4 - 13:19

I walked through the mile 4 water stop but Joltin Joe ran with me for about a half mile and got me back on pace quickly.

Mile 5 - 13:12

I felt strong through 5 miles. Really strong!!! I felt like I had just walked 5 miles. I was ready to start cranking it down. I figured the best way to start doing that was to pick out a person ahead and just work on passing him. Then, pick out another person and pass her. So, that's what I did. I passed several people during mile 6 and fixed my sights on a girl in a pink shirt about a minute ahead of me.

Mile 6 - 12:55

I felt really good going across the bridge and kicked it up a notch for the race photographer before turning onto Space Center Blvd. Pink shirt girl was just ahead.

Mile 7 - 12:31

After the turn onto Space Center Blvd. and going into mile 8, I was right where I wanted to be. I had executed the plan flawlessly and was on track for a 2:10 or better. Just about the time I caught pink shirt girl (actually, I passed her), I just sort of lost it. The sun was beating down pretty hard and there was no breeze to speak of. No, those are just silly excuses!!! The fact is I'm just not tough in these situations, out by myself, on a loooooong stretch of road, starting to fatigue. Just when the going gets a little tough, I just don't know where to reach to find that extra umph!!!

Mile 8 - 13:27

By this time, I was walking quite a bit. But when I was running, I felt like I was still moving at a pretty good clip but I just couldn't hold it, or wouldn't hold it. I took a Gu and walked through the water stop at mile 8, thinking, "OK, you can do ANYTHING for 2 miles. So, I took off. Then I hit the stink!!! Oh my goodness. That smell going over that bridge made the bat bridge at Waugh smell like a rose garden. I couldn't breathe and I walked through the funk.

Mile 9 - 13:51

Mile 9 was the slowest and most disappointing. I walked a lot. Then, from somewhere inside, I started to think about my fallback goal or 2:12:53, a 10-minute PR. I did some calculating and realized it was still possible. With 800m to go, I beared down and said, "I ain't walking, no matter what." I rounded the final turn and saw Pony. She ran me in the last 400m or so and I'll tell you what, if it weren't for her, I don't think I would have finished that last bit as strong as I did.

Mile 10 - 13:02

So, I had a little redemption there at the end and crossed the finish at 2:12:34, a 10:19 PR.

The race today was bittersweet for me. I know with just an ounce of toughness I could have broken 2:10. Still, I did have a plan and I think it was realistic and for a good part of the race, I was executing. This race puts me well off of my marathon goal. Obviously, my training at the longer distances is lacking. I've gotta get with it.

The post-race activites were a blast. It was such a beautiful morning and it was so nice sitting around the tent in the morning breeze visiting with the Striders. On the Run put on a first-class event. The mile markers were right on. The water stops were well services. Thanks to OTR for a memorable race.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't laugh!!!

I got out the door tonight and logged 1.6 miles down the block, around the lake, and back. A 20 minute, easy run is just as good as a rest day if you ask me. The fun part was the kiddos tagged along on the bikes and we had a rowdy-good time. Plus, I got to log a couple with my new kicks. Man, you really don't know how bad your old shoes feel until you don a brand new pair.

Now, let's talk 10-miler strategy. Aw, heck, I'm just gonna run. I have no idea how fast. I have no strategy and that is bad. I'm not confident enough at >5K to know what I can do and what pace to start out at. I guess if I had to strategize, I'd say go out very easy for the first 2 or 3 miles, say MP +15-30 seconds. Miles 4-8, gradually crank it up and find a good groove, somewhere between MP and 10K pace. Then, for miles 8-10, just gut it out like it was the last 2 miles of my life. I'll probably walk the water stops, Galloway style, for a periodic recovery. How does that sound?


Training AND blogging...

Venue - Memorial Park
3 mile warumup / 3x800m with 400 recovery.
Average pace, warmup 13:05
800s - 5:40 / 5:35 / 5:00
Total distance - ~5 miles

That's all the blogging I have time for this morning. :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

3 miles

3 miles this morning. Nice and easy. Still sore in the thighs from Saturday.

Total distance - 3 miles
Splits - 13:30 / 13:35 / 13:10
Total time - 40:16
Average pace - 13:26

Sorry, that's all I have time for this morning. Unbelieveable goings-on in Chicago. Unbelieveable!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Not the best conditions...

...but not my worst run. I'll confess, the last time I ran over 9 miles was over a month ago. Between then and now, I've PR'd for the 5K distance and shaved another 25 seconds off my 1 mile all out time. But, hello, Vic!!!...we're training for a marathon here, right? Right.

Hopefully it's not too late to start ramping up again. I've obviously gained some fitness over the month and I didn't feel like I really needed to start from scratch ramping up the weekly LSD miles. Since the USA race is next weekend and 10 is such a nice, round number, I decided to give the 10-mile course through River Oaks a try.

Yes, the conditions today were horrible, especially compared to the seasonable mornings we've had this week. When I walked out the door this morning, the air hit me across the face like a George Foreman jab and I seriously considered just scrapping the whole thing. But I didn't. I did get a later start than I had intended, arriving at the park around 7:05.

I took water every chance I got. Had 3 gu's over the course of 10 miles. Grabbed water at Starbucks on Post Oak and then took advantage of the water hose behind Pilgrim's cleaners on San Felipe. TNT was serving up cool water over on Willowick and the fountains at Shepard and Allen Pkwy and at the Starbucks provided plenty hydration so I didn't have to carry a fuel belt.

I was a little surprised and am now a lot sore. I really ran well and ran consistently. I still felt a little bit of Thursday's run in my thighs and that's where I hurt the most now. I downed some Endurox and headed back to the house for soccer games and yard work. Here are the splits.

Total distance - 10.0 miles
Mile 1 - 13:52
Mile 2 - 13:37
Mile 3 - 14:07
Mile 4 - 13:29
MIle 5 - 13:40
Mile 6 - 13:32
Mile 7 - 13:40
Mile 8 - 14:37
Mile 9 - 13:46
Mile 10 - 13:15
Total time - 2:17:38
Average pace - 13:46

Oh, and I'll mention that I just let the clock run, even during water breaks. From this run, hopefully, I won't have to worry about a PR next weekend. I beat 2:22:53 today today on just a training run. Anyway, ...one word...REST DAY!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Broke the Barrier

No, not the sound barrier. I'm talking about the 10 minute barrier. As in 1 mile time trials. That's right. Tonight was mile time trials on the west side with the Striders. It was a beautiful night for a mile PR!!!

I had been thinking/dreaming about sub-10 all day. The last time I ran a mile all out was August 11 at SMARTie's first mile time trial of the season. I ran a 10:19 that day, taking 48 seconds off my mile PR from 2006. So it took almost a year to take 48 seconds off. Would it be possible to take 20 seconds off in just 8 weeks. I had my doubts but couldn't help but daydream all day.

After a 2 mile warmup and some silly walks, it was announced that there would be 2 heats and my heat was first. I felt anxious, a little scared (this was going to hurt) but still positive and optimistic. My fears disappeared when coach stepped up next to me and asked simply, "sub-10 tonight?" as he reset his chronometer to get ready to pace me. "That's the plan," I answered. Coach knew without without even a word from me that I wanted this tonight.

Before we took off, I thought now if I can't trust coach to pace me to this, who can I trust? So, I threw Mr. Garmin down on the ground an placed my goal in the hands of THE MAN. Through the first turn it felt like to me that we were a bit fast. Turns out we were. I got a good smile early in the run as coach checked his watch and said, "Woah!!!" But after that, coach was like a machine with the pace and it turned out good that I ended up with a little time in the bank for the first quarter.

At about the 200m mark, Kay and Barb joined in to pace and lend moral support. That and it's always better to run with hotties. :) I did manage to look at the clock after 1 lap and I was in good shape. If I remember right, I was at about 2:22 or so. 8 seconds in the bank. I don't remember my lap 2 split but I do remember that I had slowed a bit. Just a bit. I think it was right at 5 minutes.

I really did not want to finish. Another half mile at that effort seemed like soooooooo far. Coming around the last 100m of lap 3, I must say, had I not been running with coach and company, I would have just peeled off into the grass. I wanted to so bad. Plus, I was slowing even more. I remember being off pace by about 3 or 4 seconds. I think I hit the clock for lap 3 at 7:33 or so.

One more lap to go. It seemed like I was maintaining my pace through ~1300m but I was fading fast. With a half a lap to go, Barb said something about it just being from Eldridge to the water fountain or something. All I remember thinking was..."DOES NOT COMPUTE!" Then Steeeve said, "One more Kenyan relay left." Now those Kenyan relays are seared into my memory. Thus, I knew how far that was. I kicked it in. I felt like I took it up a small notch and just tried to finish strong. As the clock came into focus, I knew I had it. 9:54!!!

After I was done, I was ecstatic but I could not catch my breath to say anything. Finally, after about a minute, the holler that was building up inside came out. WAHOO!!!!

After a mile cooldown, I went to the car to call wifey-poo and give her the good news. Then we made our way over to Romano's for some scruptious eats and some trash talking. It was good to catch up with the Sheps and to hear about D's Maui marathon. Speaking of D, congrats on your PR tonight. D ran a 5:01 mile. IN-CRED-I-BLE!!!

Thanks coach, Barb, and Kay. No way I'd have been able to do that without you all running with me. And thanks to the Striders for all the cheering. Striders ROCK!!!

Now, one word...Rest day!

One Word!!!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I think of a gear in a car or bicycle as something that transfers energy to the wheels. In a car, you change gears and you gain speed while keeping the RPM's relatively low. Well, this week during my runs, I've felt like I have another gear. What I mean by that is in the middle of a run, something happens either with my mechanics or my stride or my mind or something where even though I'm at the same effort, my pace increases.

Very strange to me...on Tuesday, I planned to do an easy 3. My goal on these easy miles is to stay conversational and really just run easy. So, mile one, I really felt good. I did a 13 minute mile and felt like I was going sooooooo slow. But that's rally fast for me (in my mind at least) for an easy run so I say to myself, "Self, ease it down a notch. Just relax. Drop your arms a bit. Loosen up. Ease your shoulders down. SLOW DOWN!!!" Mile 2....12:42. What the heck? I didn't feel at all like my effort increased. No big jump in RPM's, but a much quicker mile nonetheless. Here are the stats:

Total distance - 3.0 miles
Splits - 12:59 / 12:42 / 12:47
Total time - 38:29
Average pace - 12:50

Then this morning, I did 6 miles. After yesterday's "too fast" 3 miler, I wanted to slow it down to at least 20 or 30 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace. So, I started out at 13:30 - 13:40 pace, very, conversational. I kicked back for 3 miles and kind of shuffled along, finishing in 13:39 / 13:46 / 13:45. Mission accomplished. So, I figured I was just right on my effort so I stopped looking at the Garmin and just ran. I relaxed, got up a bit on my toes, swung my arms a little bit and just tried to maintain my effort. Mile 4...13:10...What the heck? I did not want to speed up. Then, I ease off and BAM!!! 12:58 for mile 5. Still breathing easy. Still relaxed and loose. I finished with a 12:40 mile 6. Now I have an excuse for mile 6. I most likely suffered from back-to-the-barn syndrome. But the only way I can explain miles 4 and 5 is that I must have just switched gears. Again, no big increase in effort. I just settled down, relaxed, moved up onto my toes a little more, extended my stride and voila.

I think the difference is between running back on my heels, just shuffling along and when I move forward just a bit onto my toes and actually run. It kind of reminds me of something coach said at the beginning of the season. He said something changed with me from last year. He said the difference between last year and this year is that this year I'm acutally running. Well, I didn't know at that time what he meant by that but I think I"m starting to understand. :)