Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 review

Rather than lots of words, I'll let the reader look at the numbers and make up their own words:

That was my 2012 in running. Quick notes:

I ran 4 races with my daughter between 1K and 5K. Fantastic. I love running with her.

August: I ran a 50K race and DNF'd at 27 miles. Super-dehydrated, sore all over and my legs/feet were cramping everywhere. I couldn't bring myself to run another hilly 5 miles just to say I did.

October: I ran my first road marathon (Portland, OR) in 11 years and managed to PR by 90 seconds (3:25). I was on track for about 4 minutes better than that but cramped up with 2 miles to go and had to stop to stretch.

November: I stopped running on Nov 10th until Dec 25th to give my hamstrings / butt a break and see if that's what my lingering leg pain needed. Nope! The pain came right back after two runs.

December: I ran the annual Horsehead Bay 7.3K Xmas-day race and finally won my age group.

Numbers will be lower next year no doubt.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

insert witty title here...

How about that, I blink my eyes and a few more weeks go by without an
update. Life has been pretty chaotic (in a bad way) and blogging hasn't been on my mind at all lately. The chaos peaked the Friday before the Bridle Trails race which meant that I had to miss it sadly. I ran the course Friday at lunch and it was a mess with downed branches everywhere. I picked them up and moved them off of the trail as I ran around the perimeter. The only thing I couldn't move was a fully tree that was blocking the East perimeter. I would have needed a saw and an hour or more to drag the pieces off of the trail. I was hoping that the park ranger would have time to do that but instead the course was re-routed to use a parallel interior trail for the East section. I was a bummed to hear that but I wasn't running the race.

I've been missing a few runs here and there due to my workload at the office and at home. I've been putting up weeks of:

31, 29, 28, and 26 miles over the last month.

Most of my runs have been around the Bridle Trails and the streets of Redmond. They've been lackluster with the exception of two tempo workouts I did. One was last weekend, I warmed up for 10 min and then ran alternating rounds of 10min hard, 8min easy. I surprised myself by running mid-6min miles during the hard sections which is good for me considering the hilly nature of the streets around home. The other was a 5K run I did on the treadmill at the gym. I started at 7:30/mi pace and kept lowering the incline on the treadmill and my pace as well. By the end I was running at a 3.0% decline and just under 6:00/mi. I just missed breaking 20 min. for the run which was pretty good after having lifted weights for half an hour and for how slow I started out.

I've been putting in most of my miles in the New Balance MT110 shoes which are great so far. The sizing isn't as big and roomy as I'd like and I'm considering ordering a pair in a wider size to see if that feels more comfortable. The sizing isn't that bad but all of my running socks are DryMax heavy-duty trail socks which are quite bulky. I tried wearing the MT110s sockless once but there was something wrong with the fabric where the upper meets the footbed on the outside edge of one foot that gave me a blister after about 5 miles unfortunately. The traction and cushion of the shoes is great. They don't jump out and scream "FANTASTIC!" but they're nice shoes so far. I still like the feel of the Merrell Trail Gloves the best of all of the shoes I've owned. I'm interested in trying their new Bare Access model but I've heard a few bad things about them from the folks at Born To Run (the store, not the book) saying that they have no barefoot feel to them and that they have built up arches. I'm still curious to try them as the lack of cushion is the thing stopping me from running farther than about 10 miles in my Trail Gloves.

To summarize:
- not running as much as I'd like to.
- Not feeling as good as I'd like to on my runs.
- MT110s are good but not fantastic (yet?).

Friday, January 20, 2012

The end of one year and the start of another

So what's been going on since I last updated.


- Shaved the cookie duster off and no longer hate looking at myself in the mirror.
- Enjoyed Xmas / New years with family and had no serious power outages.
- Ran a bit, got sick for a week then got back to running.
- Didn't make it to the gym to lift weights or swim much.
- Signed up for the 10.4 mi. Bridle Trails run on 1/28.
- Got snowed in this week and had to work from home between power outages.

So the running...

I managed 28 miles the last week of 2011 including the annual Horsehead Bay 7.3K race. This year attendance hit an all time low of 2 people. We ran the course in cold but dry conditions on Xmas day and ended up tying for the win. This marks the 5th time I've tied for first in this event. Some day I'll win it outright. At least I won my age group this year.

I didn't have enough time to get out to run the Crescent Valley or McCormack forest trails on New Years Eve this year. I wanted to but there was just too much family fun happening that day. I finished 2011 with some pretty good numbers though:

Comparing it to 2010: (for the stat geeks like me out there)

I ran two hours less (Odd that the numbers were that close)
I ran 56 miles less
I ran 9 fewer barefoot miles
I ran 16 more times
I averaged 1.5 more runs per month
My average pace per mile was 15 seconds slower

What about my goals for 2011?

1) More trail running, get into the ultra community a bit more
Yes and no.

2) Work on speed, try to beat 10K PR
nope. nothing like that happened

3) Run 2 races of 50K or longer
Yep. Chuckanut 50K and Pt. Defiance 50K

4) Convince my sister to run a marathon with me
Nope. she was injured and doesn't want to run another marathon any time soon. I'll keep trying though.

5) Figure out the GI issues
Happily yes. The Ginger Bread man hasn't visited in a long time. I'm going to chalk that one up to one specific prescription that I was taking. As soon as I stopped taking it, problem solved.

So, goals for 2012?

1) Run the White River 50M
2) Enter more shorter trail races (up to marathon distance)
3) Enter more races with my daughter, get her up to a 5K if she's game.
4) Run 1500 miles
5) Run a road marathon (preferably with my sister)
6) Fix this Piriformis issue that's still bothering me

The first step I took toward these goals was entering the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival 10.4 mile race. As your lawyer I recommend that you do the same.

The other thing I'm playing with that I mentioned in my last post was I've been uploading all of my runs and started defining segments that I run often to compare my paces and hopefully push myself. There are also periodic mileage challenges that they put on (no prizes) to motivate people to get out and run. So far it's nice. It will get better as more people join.

I got another cold right around New Years and didn't run the first 7 days of 2012. When I was ready to run again I got right back out to the Bridle Trails to practice running the course conditions for the race at the end of January. It's pretty sloppy out there right now. This week in the PNW there was a big (for Seattle) snow storm that dumped a few inches of snow.

I ran around the trails on Monday in the snow and had a great time. The snow made it soft and forgiving but also created a layer of ice over the puddles that were already on the trails. I tried to avoid them to keep my feet dry but missed a few. There were also several branches down across the trails that slowed me down. I expect that as the snow melts over the next few days that the trails will be a huge muddy mess.

The last two runs I've done have been in the snow and I've really enjoyed them. It's a much slower pace trying to plan your footing, especially post-holing through a frozen top layer of ice, but it's great to run on the quiet soft white blanket, something that we don't get here often enough to be a nuisance.

Today's run at lunch in the snow was pretty terrible on the other hand. I planned to run a lap of the Bridle Trails and barely made it five miles. I should have stayed inside on the treadmill but I had grand ideas of how much fun it would be to run outside in my new shoes (more on them in a minute).

Starting from work I had to run along the roads covered in dirty plowed snow piled up which was hard enough to run on. Once I got through that to the start of the corridor trail slower than I ever had before the real challenge began. The snow was melting and turning into slush. It was soft with ice cold puddles everywhere. My feet became quickly soaked and confidence in my Dry Max socks kept me going.

Even with the grippy lugs of my new trail shoes I was slipping frequently, especially on any kind of slope. I eventually got to the Bridle Trails and started around the perimeter. On top of the extra effort required to run in the wet slush, I had to navigate around/over/under/through all of the fallen branches and downed trees. Parts of the trail were totally blocked so I couldn't follow the outer perimeter as I had planned. I was surprisingly tired after only a few miles and my pace was very slow so I decided to turn back early. The rest of the run was more of the same with the addition of my toes starting to really hurt from all of the icy puddles that I couldn't avoid. I love running in new snow but I sure can't stand the slushy stuff.

As for the new shoes, I finally got my hands on a pair of New Balance MT110s (yep, kinda ugly). I've been reading reviews and hearing about these shoes for months. They just came on the market around the beginning of the year and I got a pair as soon as I saw them on Amazon. They feel nice so far running in the snow but I'm anxious to take them out in the dirt and see how they hold up. I'm hoping that they live up to the hype of being a big improvement to the MT101 that I really like already.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Running, swimming, push brooms, and a personal appeal from the author of 177 blog posts

With my last trip around the Bridle Trails I'm over 1400 miles for the year and I'll probably be able to get in 4 or 5 more runs before the year is over. The last two years I've gone to run at the Crescent Valley Forest trails on New Year's Eve. I think I'll try that again depending on what else the family and I have planned for the week. (my company gives the week between Xmas and New Years off to all non-essential employees). I don't love the Crescent Valley trails but I've only run them twice so far (the last 2 NYEs.) I've needed a map to find my way around and will probably want to grab one again. The trails have a couple of very mild climbs, not hilly at all. A good alternative to McCormack Forrest or Pt. Defiance I guess.

Going back to that last trip around the Bridle Trails, I pushed a little too hard the first mile and then hung on for a few miles trying to get my strength back before pushing the last two miles and barely breaking an hour for the route. It's great that I'm under an hour for the first time since hurting my knee after Pt. Defiance but I'm still 4+ min off of my PR for the route. Given the muddy winter conditions I think I'll be able to take maybe 2 minutes off of that time by spring.  I've started uploading the GPS files from my runs to Strava. (you need a free account on the site to look at them or search for me.) The site lets users create segments (routes) and then every time you upload a GPS file from a run it looks for any segments (created by you or other users) that you ran and compares your time for those segments to the times of all other Strava users who've done those segments. It was initially created for cycling and in the SF Bay Area the popular cycling hills are super-competitive. For running in the Seattle, Redmond, and Gig Harbor areas, not so much. I love pouring over my stats though...

Swimming has been a form of cross training and a good way to burn calories when I couldn't run but now that I'm healed, I find that I'm enjoying swimming more than I thought I would and sticking with it a bit longer. I've just recently gotten my pacing under control and yesterday I bumped up the distance that I swim at lunch from 1mi to 1.4mi. (1800 yds -> 2500 yds). I didn't think I'd be able to go that far as my shoulders were pretty sore from the start due to weight lifting earlier in the week (shoulder press to failure) but I just slowed down and kept counting down the laps. As I warmed up the pain went away (or I got used to it). I was averaging around 1:50 - 1:55 per 100yds which included stopping between my 800 yd sets to drink water or put on / take off hand paddles etc... I'm not fast yet and I'm interested to see what difference (if any) a pair of jammers will make over swimming in my board shorts. Shaving off the Movember moustache won't hurt either.

That pool skimmer might be slowing me down.

Now for a slight bit of promotion that I'm doing completely on my own based on past experience...

I think I'm going to enter the 10.4mi Bridle Trails race at the end of January as I did last year. I like the race, it's my home course and held on the trails that I run the most and know best. The people putting the run on, Northwest Trail Runs are great people, they put on several trail races (20 events in 2012! most of them with multiple distances available ranging from 4KM - 50KM) in the area with very reasonable entry fees and a good value for money in terms of course, support, swag, atmosphere, and attitude. They don't seem like their goal is to maximize revenue, but to maximize runner enjoyment. This isn't to take anything away from (previous Bridle Trails RDs) Scott and Leslie McCoubrey who were/are excellent race directors in their own right and a pleasure to volunteer for.

In any case, these are the type of events that you (as a runner) should be supporting. The Competitor Group doesn't need your money for their expensive Rock-N-Roll events. ($90 - $140 for the Seattle Marathon, $80 - $130 for the half-marathon!?! Ouch!). NW Trail Runs does deserve your money and they ask for much less of it.  So if you're in the area and want to run on some great (muddy) trails, come check out the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival on 1/28/12. They don't even start until 3pm so it doesn't take over your whole day. (bring your most aggressive trail-running shoes).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

busy busy

When I'm injured the blogging slows down. It's easy when I know that my readership isn't even double digits and I find other things to occupy my time. Take this weekend for instance:

Saturday: Slept in until 7:30am (quite late for me), ate, got dressed and took both kids to a 1K Kids Dash in Tacoma. The race scheduled events backwards and held the kids race after the 5K/10K events. It was a really well executed event and in a great location but Parking was nearly a mile away. This wouldn't normally be a hassle but part of the walk to the start line included about 100 stairs that I had to carry the BOB jog stroller (and it's rider) down.

I ran the race pushing the boy in said jogger while my daughter ran beside me.  It's funny that she loves doing the kids races and asks often when I can sign her up for another one but when we get there, she quietly runs them at about the same pace as the other kids that start around us. She never speeds up to pass people or slows down. She runs much slower than I've seen her run when it's just her and I without the crowd. I think she either doesn't get that it's okay to pass people and run fast or that she's happy just jogging. Either way as long as she keeps asking to go run races with me, I'll keep signing us up for them. I love running with her.

After the race and the post-race donut & coffee / chocolate milk we came back home where the kids either went down for a nap or some quiet crafting time while I took over laying down wood floors in our kitchen from my wife. It's a been a long remodeling project so far (going on 4 months??) and it's a major step that we're starting to put the flooring down. I only had 3 hours to work on the floors which didn't get us very far because of the precision required when floating a wooden floor, cutting almost every single piece of flooring so that the joints are in a semi-random pattern yet wasting as little wood as possible.

I gave up the flooring to shower and get dressed up for my daughters first every ballet recital. It was a big recital where 6 or 7 different ballet classes did numbers, ages ranging from 3 up to 17. The youngest kids were just as fun to watch as the older kids. I've never had any appreciation for ballet, even when dating a girl who used to dance and was somewhat passionate about it. Seeing my daughter do her short choreographed routine was wonderful and I looked at it differently. With some of the older kids' performances I noticed how angular the dancers were and the lines that they create with their arms and legs. I was kind of an eye-opener for me.

After Ballet we went to our favorite Thai restaurant (which happens to be 5 doors down from the recital hall) for a great meal. We let my daughter choose whatever she wanted and that ended up being two full appetizer plates of Crab Rangoon, her favorite thing on the menu. That's not something I can ever remember my parents letting me do. It felt good to let go.

Sunday (today) E and I got ready and left the house at 9:30 for our day of shopping. Typically E's parents will take the kids all day for one day leading up to Xmas so that we can embrace consumerism and do all of our shopping. We made it to REI, the Ballard Market, two Waldorf-friendly toy stores, a tiny bed/mattress store, and Bellevue Square (plus Serious Biscuit for lunch) before heading home with a car full of commerce.

It's been one of the busiest weekends in months for us (I didn't even mention the two kids birthday parties scheduled this weekend, one we could attend and one we sadly couldn't) and next week will be really busy for me at work. The powers at work decided that everyone was going to switch cubes so I moved my stuff to a new cube Friday afternoon. It'll be a while before I get a network connection in my new cube so I'll have to be nomadic with my laptop until the network folks light up my new digs with the sweet Ethernet juice.

Exercise? Yeah, I've been doing some of that. I'm getting back to running a little more but still lifting weights twice a week and swimming once a week. I'm making decent progress with the weights doing my one set to failure routine. I'm also finally starting to 'get' swimming. Rather than swimming a mile as 18 x 100yds with a short rest between each 100, I just figured out my pacing and effort levels to do it as 3 x 500yds + 1 x 300 with a few seconds between each bigger set. I've always found it odd that my whole life I've been heavily skewed toward endurance over speed in things like running and cycling yet when it comes to swimming, I get pooped after 2 - 3 min of swimming and just can't catch my breath after 8 lengths of the pool. Maybe always swimming in board shorts is the problem. I know they slow you down noticeably over a speedo but maybe they're good for the training effect of dragging a parachute through the water with you.  I like swimming more as I improve but as my knee is healed, I really like the ability to get back to running whicih I missed so much when I was injured. If only I had more free time. :-)

So the running lately... My knee feels good and I've been running the Bridle Trails at night after work lately. Friday night's run felt pretty good and I had power in my stride for the first time since hurting my knee after Point Defiance 50K but I'm still 4+ min off of an average time for the loop (comparing against daytime runs in warmer weather anyway). I've lost a good bit of fitness and I don't know what I'll be up for by the end of January at the Bridle Trails 10.4 mi racebut it would be a stretch for me to come close to last year's 1:14.

I've run 50 miles this month so far and only need 11 more to break 1400 for the year. My goal was  1600 miles, but I'm happy with 1400 given the injury and number of days I've been sick. Now I need to focus on getting back to a good racing weight, hopefully I can find a way that doesn't rely solely on a Tim Ferris diet. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baby steps

It's been almost a month since my last post. I would have been writing about my running if I'd been doing much of it. Since 10/31 I've run six times totaling 18.5 miles. I started by taking a week off between runs and only running 2 - 2.5 miles at a ~9:00/mi pace. I've been increasing the distance and frequency of the runs in a lazy progression that has me up to 4.5 miles pain free as of last night's One Store Loop. I'm still keeping the pace really easy and trying to stay light on my forefoot. I've been leaving the Garmin at home too. I love having the numbers and analyzing my pace / splits but I've gotten out of the habit of just running and enjoying my time and surroundings without looking at some gadget on my wrist every few minutes. I'd like to get some kind of device with no screen that I could just put in my pocket that would record the run so I wouldn't be tempted to look at it but could still comb over the data afterward.

I'm not going to make my 1500 mile goal for the year (sitting at 1333.7 currently) but I should be able to hit 1400 assuming that my knee continues to improve.

I'm still working out at lunch every day and instead of running I've gotten back into swimming. I started out doing 1000 yds at lunch and then began working on my form, trying to learn how to glide through the water. I'm up to swimming a mile per session now and I've shaved a few seconds off of my 100yd average time. I feel like I'm noticeably smoother in the water but still have a ways to go. I'm really inspired to work on my technique when I see videos like this one (the underwater shots are very impressive. The instructor looks like he's barely trying). As I slowly improve at swimming it gets me thinking about doing a Triathlon some day. I think I'd be fine at all three of the sports given my running and cycling background but I would need much more time to train. I'd also have to give up swimming in my board shorts and move to a Speedo or those long spandex shorts type suits. I'm sure the board shorts are slowing me down plenty but maybe I can call that a training tool. I'd love it if my first Triathlon was an Ironman, but I just don't see where I'd find the time to train for it.

In any case, to wrap up: running is improving and I'm trying to get the joy of running back, knee pain is calming down and I'm doing much more swimming and weight lifting.

I've also just started reading Time Ferris' book "The 4-Hour Body" which presents some very interesting experiments to try in the realm of exercise and diet. I might give one or two of them a shot and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ouch, that hurts!

Since completing the Pt Defiance 50K I've run three times. My cold came back the week after the race and my legs were sore so I took a few days off and cross trained. Later that week I tried an easy run out to the Bridle Trails. The first two miles felt okay but my left knee started to hurt the further I ran. I had to stop and walk some of the non-flat sections of the trails because the knee pain got so bad. I couldn't figure out if it was just my legs being sore from the race and affecting my form and the way that my knee was tracking or if I had injured my knee.

The pain was on both sides of my knee for the first run. My knee hurt enough the rest of the day that I didn't run again the rest of the week, going swimming at lunch instead. I enjoy the swimming but I'm a slow swimmer. It takes me a little over 20 min to swim 1000 yds. Given my personality, I am of course looking at technique articles and videos online to learn about swimming form and trying to improve my efficiency in the water. Technique eludes me thus far and progress is slow.

I tried running again yesterday (10/31) and had 1.5 miles of pain free running followed by 2.5 miles of knee pain and walking breaks. The knee pain was limited to the outside of my knee this time. Now the process of diagnosing and reading about knee injuries begins. In an odd coincidence, my sister is experiencing knee pain in almost the same spot on her left knee. Hopefully between the two of us we can figure out what's wrong with our knees and get back on our feet.