Monday, December 28, 2009

Another 10 miler.

My company all but shuts down between Xmas and New Years so I have the week off. I got out for another 10 mile run today. It was similar to Saturday's run except slightly less climbing and the climbing was more concentrated. I ran a familiar route out to the top of Fox Island and back. My legs didn't feel as fresh as they did on Saturday but I was still able to push myself to keep a similar pace. I ran about an hour after I ate lunch and again had heartburn. I should carry a Tums or two with me... ugh.

It was in the low 40s and sunny today. I remembered to bring a hat instead of just a Spandex/Lycra beanie so the sun didn't constantly shine in my eyes. Living here I just expect it to be overcast all winter I guess. I was actually too warm most of the run. I was wearing knee-high socks (more on that later), running pants over a pair of Race Ready shorts and two shirts. The socks looked ridiculous pulled up to my knees so on my wife's fashion advice I wore running pants. This was a mistake; I should have just went with silly looking instead of overheated calves/shins. The double shirt was a bad call also. I'm still trying to nail down dressing for winter running here.

I ran the first mile slowly (9:21) to try to warm up. I've been reading Run Less Run Faster and the authors stress warming up and cooling down EVERY SINGLE RUN, something that I've usually only done for speed work sessions. After the slow first mile I went on to knock off miles between 7:01 and 7:47 depending on the hilliness of the roads. The route goes up a hill that's about a mile long right before the 5 mile turn-around point (the 7:47 split). I pushed pretty hard getting up the hill and didn't have a lot of energy to run back down fast once I got to the turn around. Overall I ran pretty evenly with a slight negative split. I was just gassed by the 9 mile point though. I was glad when I hit 9 miles and could run the last mile as cool-down. I had two Gels with me that I never touched. I probably should have eaten one about half way through the run.

The knee-socks that I was wearing were CW-X compression support socks. Another xmas present from me to me. They're nylon/polyurethane and have webbing to support the calves, ankle joints, and arch. They claim to reduce muscle fatigue, and increase recovery & circulation. I don't usually have sore calves on shorter runs. With the running pants, the socks just made my legs sweat that much more. That said I'm not sore and I ran at almost the same pace I did on Saturday so I don't think they were holding me back. They're the only pair of socks I've run in other than Wright double layer socks in the past 8 years or so. No blisters or skin issues but it was only 10 miles. I look forward to using these socks on 2 and 3 hour runs.

The shorts were new as well. I've been looking for a pair of running shorts that have a longer inseam than the tiny shorts that I've been wearing for years but I tend to be very prone to leg chafing. I don't know if there's something out there that long distance guys swear by so I just went with the brand that puts a bunch of pockets in the back of the shorts for holding stuff like gels or extra HEED. They seemed to work pretty well today. Anyone have suggestions on good running shorts?

The numbers:
Time: 1:20:29
Dist: 10.2
Avg: 7:53/mi (7:23/mi not counting the warm-up and cool-down miles)
Ascent/Descent: 2073 / 2107 (Garmin inflated numbers)
Avg HR: 147


I need to get one more run in before Jan 1st to hit 100 miles for the month for the first time since before my knee surgery.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to back runs and compression.

On Xmas it is becoming a tradition that I get out for a run with a few relatives who are over celebrating. This year I managed to gather up 5 people plus a baby in the BOB baby jogger though you wouldn't have known she was there. She slept the entire time from what I could tell. You have to love the overwhelming sleep inducing power of the jog stroller. Being of all different paces and abilities we ran at a moderate pace and regrouped if anyone got far behind. We just ran the "One Store Loop" as I call it and kept things pretty social.

Yesterday I was still itching to get out for a run and spend a little longer on my feet. I also wanted to give my new CW-X Pro compression tights a test. I wore them for the Xmas run but didn't really pay much attention to my legs. Yesterday the plan was to run out to the Tunnel trail then out past Kopachuck, down to the Rosedale store and back around Whitmore / 78th / Artondale toward the golf course and up 70th ave. From there I headed West down 40th and on home. Other than a little bit of heartburn I was feeling pretty good. It was in the high 30s temperature-wise, my legs were responding well and I was running a good bit faster than I usually do for mid distance runs. Like almost all runs I do around here there was a good bit of hills to run. I felt that I was running up the hills pretty strongly and the downhills were much faster than my normal pace. I don't know if it was the tights that were doing it or just me having a slow training week and a bit more rest.

The hardest part of the run was slogging up 70th ave at a 12 min/mi pace for the 1/3 of a mile or however long it is. I was able to dip under 6 min/mi pace for few of the following descents to balance that out. Another thing I tried out on the run was carrying two Ultimate Direction hand bottles instead of just one as I usually do. It felt more balanced carrying two bottles (as long as I remembered to drink from both of them instead of just emptying one first) and I didn't notice them as much as I do when I carry just one. I'm constantly switching hands with just one bottle and it's a minor annoyance. I also only drank about 1 1/3 bottles of HEED on the 10+ mile run which means that I could probably get away with a 16 mile run without stopping somewhere to refill.

So on to the tights... I'd been doing some research on compression clothes for running for a few weeks and planning on buying some compression socks to see if they were as good as other bloggers claim. I decided that I wanted to pick up some compression tights for an Xmas present. The reviews online for CW-X tights were very good and I saw a few reviews of other tights that mentioned that they "weren't quite as good as CW-X" so that was enough for me to consider CW-X. My first impression is that their sizing chart is unfortunately correct. It only goes up to 6'4" in the XL size tights. They're a little bit short for me and don't fit as snugly as I'd like them to around the waist/crotch. It's a shame (for me) that more companies don't offer tall sizes. They just blend the tall sizes in with the heavy sizes so that someone who's 6'6", 190lbs gets the same garment as someone 6'2" and 250lbs. The tights are made of lycra/spandex but they have additional strips/panels of tighter spandex in strategic places going diagonally up and down the legs, under the knees, around the calves, etc... that hold the muscles tight or something. The theory being that this gives improved circulation and less fatigue from the muscles bouncing. This is all supposed to improve performance and lessen / prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

I don't know if I ran faster yesterday because I thought the tights would make a difference or if they really did make the difference. I have been pushing myself with fast 10K runs on the treadmill at lunch the last two weeks as well. I'm a skeptic, so I'm hesitant to give much credit to a pair of tights. They were a little constrictive on my calves and quads/hamstrings when I first put them on but I forgot about that completely after the first minute or two running. I felt good during the run and better than I usually do after a run like this (elevation, distance). That said, I did experience both of the claims that CW-X makes: that performance will improve and DOMS will be less. I'd say it was a positive experience and possibly due in large part to the tights. Also, there was no chafing, another important criteria for running clothes for me. I'll keep using them and report back if I come to any conclusions.


Dist: 10.0 mi
Time: 1:15:17
Avg: 7:31/mi
Alt: 2655 (or 1327 if you divide by 2 to be realistic)
Avg HR: 151

Mile splits: 7:39, 8:33, 7:10, 6:56, 7:37, 7:30, 8:33, 6:57, 7:00, 7:18

Miles 2 and 7 had the major hills.

(Disclaimer: I selected and paid for the tights myself. I've never been in contact with anyone at CW-X. I'd definitely review their products if they wanted to send some to me however. Especially if they made a tall size.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Magic Carpet

After my fast runs on the treadmill last week I was actually looking forward to trying the "Boulder 10K" preset again this week. I ran it in 40:39 last week without going all-out. I figured that I didn't want to try it again last week, so I let my body rest a bit and came back on Tuesday at lunch. My hamstrings were still sore yesterday from doing dead-lifts at the gym last Friday. It was the first time in a few years that I'd done dead-lifts and I didn't use much weight (only 95 lbs!). Luckily the soreness didn't seem to affect my running.

The "Boulder 10K" is the only 10K preset on the treadmill. It starts out with a 2 minute warm-up period at walking speed which I turn up to an 8:00/mi pace. After the 2 minutes the clock starts and the speed increases to your pre-selected pace. You have to enter your speed in MPH instead of per-mile pace so I started with 9.5 MPH (6:18/mi pace)

The course starts out with no incline but over time it mixes up the incline between 0% and 3%, usually for anywhere from 0.2km - 1.0km. It's never really that hard, not even the 1km section at 3% because the incline sections are so short. The only shocker is a 0.2km section at 6% right before the end of the race. Back to my "race": I started out at 9.5 MPH and planned to pick up the pace if I was feeling good half way through.

I've heard people use the term "Magic Carpet" referring to the treadmill and I think it's apt as running on the treadmill feels so much easier than running on the road. You only have to keep up with the belt moving under you and not really propel yourself along. Looking at a treadmill effort chart, my 6:18 pace was equivalent to a 6:35 pace when I was running at 0% incline, 6:22 at 1% and 6:09 at 2%. I'm using this chart as a reference.

I felt good at the half way point (which I ran in ~19:30) and upped the pace to 9.7 MPH (6:11/mi). A few KM later I was starting to feel winded but still pretty good. I was fine on the 0% sections (which were equivalent to a slower pace really) and able to
hang on during the 2% and 3% sections. I increased the pace a few more times until the last 1km when I had the treadmill up to 10.2 MPH (5:53/mi). I couldn't keep that pace for the 6% spike so I slowed down to an 8:30/mi pace for the spike and then pushed it right back up to 10.2 MPH for the last 0.4km to the finish.

I didn't see the finishing time on the display because it immediately goes into a 2.0mph cool down which I bumped up to a 6.0 MPH pace for 2 minutes. After the cool down completed the treadmill stopped and my results came out:

Time: 38:23
Dist: 10K
Avg pace: 6:11/mi
Elevation: 400 ft.

I don't put much stock into that time unless I compare it against another treadmill 10K. I think that I'd add a 1 - 1.5 minutes onto that time for an approximation of a road 10K time on a semi-flat course. *Maybe* I'm under 40 minute pace on a good day. This does bode well for the 40 after 40 contest proposed by my friend MThead and quickly agreed to by Nockee and another friend. The goal being to break 40 in the 10K after turning 40. I turn 40 late next year so I have plenty of time to hunt for a fast 10K course that's hopefully flatter than the one I ran in Gig Harbor on Thanksgiving. With my form this good in the winter I just need to find a way
to keep from getting burned out before next fall but still keep my speed. I hope to run a couple of 50 km races next year to keep things interesting. Nothing planned yet but a few potentials that I'm looking into.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday longish run.

Catching up on the last week, I had the good treadmill 10K on Tuesday then had a so-so interval session (again on the treadmill) on Thursday. I did 4x800 @ 3:10 each. I set the incline to 3% which according to the incline pace equivalency charts I found converts that 6:20 to a 5:58 pace. Oops. I didn't want to do them that fast. I'm not sure if I totally believe that the 3% incline takes 20+ seconds/mile off of the equivalent road pace. I usually put 2.5% incline on the treadmill for my regular runs because the treadmill makes running so much easier than the road (and it burns a few more calories). I guess it's a good training technique either way.

I was set to do a long run on Saturday but had to take a rain check and move it to Sunday morning instead. I got up a little after 6, ate and got dressed. I took my time and got out the door at 7am which I found was about 30 minutes before the sun came up. I ran in the dark for the first 3.5 miles or so. I don't have a good feel that yet. I ran a two loop course so that I could carry my regular Ultimate Direction water bottle during the run and stash a spare bike water bottle full of Heed at the end of the first loop where the little family-owned convenience store I frequent was until last week when it closed (after 60+ years of operation sadly). I try to plan my routes around the local convenience stores so that I can run with one water bottle and carry Heed powder with me. I just stop at a store on the route and buy water to fill the bottle. There are no public water sources around here that I've found yet. I need to make friends along the route and stop at their houses to get water or something.

In any case, I did my first loop, then filled up with the stashed bottle and headed out on a different loop bringing the extra bottle. I dropped the bottle off about a mile away before I headed out toward Kopachuck state park to loop around the coast and back in toward Arletta. I tried to pick up the pace a bit but my stomach wasn't feeling great after last week's attempt to eat more fiber. I accidentally took too big of a dose of Psillium Husk fiber a few days in a row and have been paying for it all week. I don't need to go into any more detail that about it. I'm also trying to fight off a bit of a cold that my daughter brought home from pre-school.

I looped around to my stashed bottle, picked it up and drained it as I headed back toward home. I needed to be back by 9am and my pace had been falling off over the last few miles (see splits below) so I figured that I'd just skip the last 2 mile out and back near home and be happy with 13+ miles instead of 15+. It's always better to be 15 minutes early than 10 minutes late. When I gave in to the shorter distance I slowed down for the last mile to cool down. I've been listening to the Running Times podcast which covers some pretty good running topics, one of them being tapering and recovery. They underscored the importance of finishing runs with a slow jog at the end to help your muscles begin the process of flushing out the lactic acid to avoid some of the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) while beginning the recovery process.

I plodded home, made a bottle of Recoverite and hit the showers. Another one in the books.

Time: 1:49:19
Dist: 13.33
Avg Pace: 8:12
Ascent: 4922 (claims Garmin, I'd say about 1/2 that if you asked me)

I found it strange that my Avg HR for the run was only 147. That seems low to me. Maybe I'm taking it too easy and listening to the Quadrathon podcast isn't helping. :)

Splits (now that I know how to make the Garmin take them):
1: 8:19
2: 7:53
3: 8:07
4: 8:30
5: 7:52
6: 7:32
7: 8:19
8: 8:35
9: 7:43
10: 7:55
11: 8:20
12: 8:02
13: 8:54

You can see where the hills were by the times (4, 7, 13)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Treadmill 10K

I got to the gym on Tuesday for a run at lunch and found that under the "Advanced" presets there was a "hilly 10K" option on the treadmill. I selected it and started out at a 7:30/mi pace after the 2 min. warmup period that the program adds on to each side of the 10K. The hilly part of the program meant that the incline of the treadmill would change from 0% to 3% through out the "course" as it were. It wasn't that much of an incline as I usually set it to 2.5% or 3% when I run on the treadmill. The display counted the distance in Kilometers instead of Miles which was a little odd to get used to. Every Kilometer or two I bumped up the pace 0.2 mph. I got to the point where I was up to 9.5 mph for the last 2 or 3 KM. I held on at this pace for the rest of the "race" except for a short 6% incline spike that the program threw at me right before the end.

I finished the "race" in 40:39, coincidentally the same time that I finished the Turkey Trot 10K (real) race on Thanksgiving (which was only 6.01 miles according to my Garmin 305). I don't know what the conversion factor would be going from a treadmill to a real outdoor run but I'd guess that I'd be a minute slower on a mildly hilly outdoor course compared to the ease of just putting one foot in front of the other on a bouncy moving belt. The other downside of the treadmill is all the sweating. If I ever get one for home I'd have to put a fan in front of it.

I'm very happy with my time and at finding the hilly 10K preset on the treadmill. It's definitely something I'll try again. I also want to run a flat 10K on the treadmill and see how fast I can go. I'd like to see if I can set it to a 5:50 pace and just hang on for 37 minutes. Not this week though. I think one hard almost-race level effort is enough. I'll hope for running repeats (or accellerations) tomorrow and then lift (legs) on Friday before another long run on Saturday.

Time: 40:39
Dist: 10K
Pace: 6:33/mi.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Last week we were experiencing record low temps in the area, some days the high temp didn't break 32F. I'm from Southern California and not fully accustomed to this kind of weather yet so I took my training inside last week. I managed 3 runs on the treadmill at the gym. It's nice to be able to control your pace and stay warm but that's about all I can say for treadmills. Maybe if there were fans to cool you down and the belt didn't feel so flat and loose under your feet. In any case I mostly did shorter runs (4-6mi.) at a 7:05 - 7:45 pace.

On Sunday I found 2 hours to get outside and run. It was around 36F out so I bundled up a bit and grabbed my gloves. I ran an out and back route toward Rosedale and beyond. I put the Quadrathon podcast onthe iPod and set off. I'm not sure why but I can totally zone out listening to his podcast which he typically records while he is running. He talks about his training/gear/races while you hear his foot steps in the background. It's strangely comforting.

In any case I've been playing around with my Garmin Forerunner lately and figured out how to set it up with a pre-programmed run. I set it for 10 min. of warmup (below 135 HR), then 1:40 @ 7:15 pace or better, then 10 min. of cooldown. It was a decent way to go except you only get to see your program info and not your mileage, speed or HR. I need to figure that out for next time. The program worked except the part where I kept an 8:00 pace instead of 7:15. I blame the hills for that.

I would blame the light snow that fell for most of the run but it wasn't enough to stick to the ground and mostly just made me happy to be out running. Three cheers for Dopamine! With the warmup and cooldown at a slower pace I didn't get as many miles in as I would have liked.

Time: 2:00:00
Dist: 14.6
Pace: 8:16/mi. ?

Good to get out after missing last weekend's long run.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Twenty Eight!?

I missed yesterdays run. I'd planned to get out for a couple of hours but just ran out of time and wasn't really motivated to run with high winds and low temps (low 30s).

I was back at work today and the temp at lunch was 28F. I bundled up and walked over to the gym to run on the treadmill. It's easier than running outdoors but not nearly as enjoyable. I decided to try some speedwork and after a 1.5 mile warm-up @ 8:00/mi I ran 4 x 800m @ 3:00 each with 400m slow jogging between. It went fine but it's not the same as real track work.

Overall I managed:

Dist: 4.5mi.
Time: 34:00

I'm toying around with my training but I have no races / goals currently. I have a few ideas for races to try but nothing scheduled yet. I hope to run at least one 50K next year and break my PR in the 10K. I might try running another marathon.

I just hope I can keep the training up with the cold weather.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 4, 2009

cold or boring, pick one.

I missed Wednesday's run staying at home with a sick family so I was motivated to make today's run happen. I walked over to the gym at lunch like I always do with plans of running my 6 mile loop. As I walked it seemed colder than the last few days... much colder. I looked at the weather on my iPhone and saw 34F as the current temp. I had only packed shorts and two shirts to run in. I'd left the running tights and hat at home figuring that it'd be in the mid 40s as it was on Monday. I'd be pretty uncomfortable at the start of the run and maybe barely adequate during the run. I'm a cold weather wimp so I took my run inside to a treadmill.

The plan for today's run was slightly different. I was going to actually do warm-up and cool-down miles. Normally I just get going fast from the start. I'll be doing a sub-7 min pace within the first 1/10th of a mile out of the gym parking lot in the interest of saving time. As I've been reading Run Less Run Faster and looking at their prescribed runs and paces I see that they always recommend warm-up and cool-down as part of the run. No problem if I'm out on the weekend but at work I'm under a little more time pressure. According to my 10K pace from last week I was going to do the warm-up and cool-down miles at an 8:00/mi pace and the middle 4 miles at a mid-tempo pace which was 30 sec slower than my 10K pace or 7:10/mi.

I set the treadmill to a 3% incline and started off with my warm-up mile. It didn't feel all that slow. Maybe I'm supposed to gradually build up to 8:00/mi pace. Next I upped the speed until I was doing a 7:07 pace which was the closest I could get to 7:10. The next few miles felt fast but didn't go by fast enough. I had my iPod on shuffle, watched the other patrons walk by the row of treadmills and tried to ignore the big TVs playing CNN and some other horrible news station. After 2.5 fast miles I really wanted to slow down the pace and was about to do that but remembered the incline so I dropped it down to 1.5% instead of slowing down. That made enough difference that I could keep up the pace for the next mile and a half and make it to my cool down mile.

I'd forgotten how boring running on a treadmill was. I don't know how I did it when I was living in England doing 12 - 15 mile runs on them when the roads were too snowy to run outside. I worry that a bike trainer is going to be horribly boring just like a treadmill, and I haven't bought one yet because of this fear.

In any case I got my run in the books:

6 miles
7:26/mi pace

I'm not training for anything right now. I'm sure I'll go for Chris' 40 at 40 challenge as I love a bit of good natured competition with friends but I don't think I'll settle on a race to enter until at least spring. I have a silly idea that I'd like to run a 50K before then but I'm having trouble finding one around here. I'm doing 16 mile long runs these days mainly because I can and because that's about 2 hours of running for me. I guess I'm saying that I could be smarter about my training but I'm not really training for anything.

Monday, November 30, 2009

more success

I still feel pretty good about my Turkey Trot time last week. Now that I'm back at work after 3 days off from any exercise at all I got back into the swing of things with another tempo run around my rectangular work loop. Last week I went CCW, so this week it's CW. I felt pretty rested and the conditions were favorable (49F, almost no wind and not raining) so I took off fast. Going CW, the first mile is at a slight downhill followed by a steep downhill. Going by my odd pacing system I was checking my watch every 5 minutes to see if I'd been able to cover another 0.7 miles. I was putting a good bit of time into the bank on the descents. After the steep downhill there's a short flat followed by the steepest hill on the route followed by a mile and a half of steady slight uphill. This is where I lose that time I put in the bank. I made it to the flat section of the backstretch about even 25 min, and 3.52 miles. (shooting for 5 x 0.7 or 3.5 miles)

I figured that I had a chance to hit my short term goal of 42 minutes as long as I could keep a good pace and really push hard along the last mile and a half which is mostly flat. First I had to get over a short steep hill and a few shallow rollers. I got over the rollers but had to stop and pull over for a pair of horses to walk by. This gave me a short rest to catch my breath for maybe 30 seconds. I'm sure it helped when I took off again. I was at the edge of being out of control on the dirt path descents, just trying to get my feet in front of me for a solid landing. I kept the pace and my 5 min. splits were just barely holding on to my 0.7mi goal. The last part of the rectangle is back onto sidewalk. I took one last drink of water and sprayed the rest out to get rid of the weight and sloshing. Luckily there was another jogger about 1/4 of a mile ahead for me to focus on. It took me almost a mile to catch him but I did right before reaching the gym parking lot and hitting my timing mark. I stopped the clock at:


Exactly meeting my goal. Of course my mind instantly thought: "Why couldn't I just have saved one second!" When I take the stop into account, who knows what I could have done. Maybe more, maybe less. I'm very happy that I managed to hit my 42 min so soon. It's a minute and a half better than my previous best. Of course now I'll want to break 40 min. as my next goal.


Dist: 6.00
Time: 42:00
Pace: 7:00 (Love the easy math)

On the way home from work I hit a massive traffic jam on Hwy 16. I'd heard that something was partially blocking the bridge that I have to cross to get home. I looked at Google Maps on my iPhone for the traffic and saw that not only was the freeway red from where I was all the way to the bridge (6 miles) but most of the side streets that I'd use to avoid the bridge were jammed up as well.

I took the opportunity to hit the local Borders and look at running books. Chris mentioned a book called Running Formula by Jack Daniels (unfortunate name) so I thought I'd skim it with the intention of buying it. I sat down and thumbed through the book to get a feel for it and while it's highly reviewed on Amazon, it looked way too complicated for me. The book was full of acronyms, math, and symbols representing different paces and types of training. I'm sure I could sit down and figure it out but it just didn't look like it'd be that fun to figure out the training principles, schedules and paces that I'd have to train at.

I remembered another book that was mentioned on a few of the Amazon reviews of Daniels' book called: Run Less Run Faster. I glanced through this book up and saw that it was a much simplified approach that followed some of the same core principles as Running Formula though not in nearly the amount of detail. Knowing that I don't have a lot of time to train each week and that my bad knee is a little sore the day after a fast / long run, I bought the book with "Run Less" in the title. I'm doing about 25 - 30 miles a week as it is and I'm very time limited with my training. Time will tell if I experience the 4 - 8% gains that the published study participants did on average. Looking at my past, I made the best gains in speed and form when I was running one day a week all-out and using a HRM to keep my HR below 70% on my recovery days. I'll give it a try for the winter, especially the cross training part and see how I'm doing come spring.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trot 10K

Chris mentioned list week on Twitter that he was going to run a 10K on Thanksgiving and try to go deep in his "pain cave". I thought about how I'd been running and honestly missed running / riding / competing with Chris so I looked for and found a local 10K to run on Thanksgiving. I'd imagine that Thanksgiving is one of, if not the most popular day for 5K/10K races. Race directors love alliteration and what works better than "Turkey Trot"? **

Some failed suggesions:
Groundhog Day Gallop
Arbor Day Amble
Flag Day Flee
Columbus Day Canter
Hanukkah Hustle
Ramadan Rush

Moving on... Rather than give $3.50 for a their "convenience" fee I decided register on race day. I got up at 6am and was registered by 6:45. This left plenty of time for the 8am start. Time to sit in my car in the pissing rain listening to The Prodigy deciding what to wear. It was probably 50F and lightly raining by the time I went with just shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I Body Glided up and jogged down to the start by 7:50. I ate a Hammer Gel just before the race started which was probably a mistake. I should have taken it 20 min. before or not at all.

I didn't want to get caught up behind droves of slow joggers so I went right to the front of the starting area. I figured that I was a little too close to the front and would be in the way of a few faster runners at the start but surprisingly this wasn't the case. Also, to you casual runners who line up at the front of the start area with your iPods wearing a hoodie or big jacket: why? Sure it's a run for fun, but a few people are out there trying to run as fast as they can. Let them stand in the front.

The "Ready? Set. GO!" was given by the race director and the field was off. I took a quick start and was behind the 4 leaders for about the first half mile. I went out a little bit fast for the first mile and figured that I wouldn't be able to hold onto the pace for long so I had to slow down a little. There were a few small rises and falls on the first mile. At the mile one mark I hit the "lap" button on my Garmin and saw that I ran it in 6:08. I was shooting for a hair under 6:50 average miles.

My pace slowed down going into mile 2 which started with a slight downhill followed by a 1/4mi uphill. The hill was a real grind after the first mile and left me gasping as I reached the top. A few people passed me during the climb, including the eventual female winner. After the hill there was a long straight with a slight decline. I took the second mile in my slowest split: 7:11. We made a left turn and hit a couple of rollers. Nothing huge but big enough to slow down the pace quite a bit to the turn-around. My 3rd mile split was 7:03 and I was starting to feel a little better. My breathing wasn't as labored and mentally knowing that I was half finished felt good. I was hanging on somewhat.

The next mile was mostly the reverse of mile 3 meaning that there was more descending than ascending. The route went a slightly different way to keep us from running down the real grind hill from mile 2. I fared a little better on mile 4, taking 6:50 to finish it.

Mile 5 was again biased toward descending but began with a short hill that was harder than it looked. I grabbed some water at the water stop at the top of the hill which was a mistake. They had tiny bathroom-sized Dixie cups for water yet I managed to get the whole two ounces of water down my throat before I was ready and choked a little. I kept my pace up and finished mile 5 in 6:46.

The last 1.5 mi of the 10K course were also the finish for the 5K course so my last mile was spent trying to weave around the people walking or slowly plodding along on the 5K. I'm sure they could have planned this better so that the back (walkers) of the 5K race wasn't finishing when the top 10% of the 10K race was coming in. Despite this I convinced my legs and lungs to keep pushing and finished the last mile in 6:37.

According to my Garmin watch, the course was .2 miles short, or 6.01 miles. My time was 40:39 which would work out to a 41:57 10K if I extrapolated my last mile time for another .2 miles. Just under the 42 minutes I predicted. Given the rain and the hills, which were much more than I thought there would be, I did really well. It's good to know that I still have some speed in my legs. I think I could have gone harder today and avoided a few mistakes to take maybe 10 - 15 seconds off given my current shape but I'm very happy with the race.

Dist: 6.01
Time: 40:39
AvS: 6:47 / mi.
Finishing place: ~15th out of several hundred. (2000 for the 5K/10K combined)

1 6:08
2 7:11
3 7:03
4 6:50
5 6:46
6 6:37

Oddly the splits add up to 40:35. I guess I lost a few fractions of a second in the calculations.

** Looking on, there were 54 events with "Turkey Trot" in the title on 11/26/09 7 of them in Ohio (all different cities) which edged out Virginia with 6.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Four store loop.

The plan this past Sunday was the same as last Sunday: 2 hours of running. I picked out a route through Gig Harbor that could be either 15 or 16 miles depending on what I did at the end. After averaging 8:30 miles last week in the rain I'd plan to run 15 unless I was a bit faster and feeling good. I packed up for the run which is turning into quite the ritual now that I'm going a little longer:

Clothes (shorts, tights, two shirts, gloves, hat, socks, shoes)
Body Glide in the chafing spots
Ultimate Direction bottle filled with a scoop of HEED
A baggie in one pocket with two scoops of HEED for later
One Hammer Gel
Two S-Caps and $10 in the pouch of the UD bottle.
iPod Nano charged up and loaded with podcasts
Garmin Forerunner charged

After all of that I stand around outside until the Garmin locks onto enough satellites and then I'm on the road. I headed out to Fox Island first and quickly realized two things: A) it was warmer than I thought so the tights, gloves and possibly even the second shirt were overkill. B) It was really windy along the water. I was getting pushed around a little bit running down the road toward the Fox Island Bridge. Going across the bridge was another challenge all together. I actually kept my left hand down close to the thigh-high railing along the sidewalk going over the bridge. The wind was strong enough that I was worried about getting pushed into the railing and / or having my new hat blow off. Luckily neither happened.

I ran up the main road on Fox Island (a big hill) to the top and then turned around at the 5 mile point to find the gas station / convenience store that I couldn't find two weeks ago. Another option for food/water when I'm out running is always good. I didn't need it today as I wasn't drinking too much so my 20 oz bottle was lasting me longer than I thought it would. I came back down the hill and carefully across the bridge. I ran back to the Arletta store to the 10 mile point where I stopped to buy a bottle of water to refill my hand-bottle and re-mix some HEED. I didn't get anything to eat having just eaten the lone Hammer Gel that I'd packed.

I set off down Ray Nash drive, not my favorite road to run as there are some areas with minimal shoulders heading North. I was still feeling pretty good at this point and kept my pace around 8:00/mile. It's not the easy 8 min pace that I had when I was in my late 20s and could just trot around the track spouting 8 min. miles all afternoon. I had to work a bit for these miles. I followed Ray Nash out to Rosedale to yet another small convenience store that I had planned on stopping at. I still had most of my bottle of HEED so I just turned left onto Kopachuck dr. and started up the hill. It's a short hill but still slows you down a good deal. At the top of the hill it's flat for the next mile and then you hit a long grind of a hill up to Kopachuck State Park. You're rewarded with a downhill immediately after and then another uphill/downhill pair to chew on. Flat roads? Haven't seen any.

At this point I was feeling a little fuzzy. I didn't put it together at the time but I probably hadn't been eating enough on the run. I probably put down 180 Cal. in HEED and another 125 in Hammer Gel but I'd run 12.5 miles already. I was fuzzy enough that when I reached the part of the course where I could either head back in a more direct route for 15 or keep going around the long way for 16, I forgot about the short cut and kept running. I looped back to Ray Nash and headed South back to the Arletta Store. I remembered a sign in the store saying that all ice cream was 20% off but I was only a mile or so from home and didn't want to stop. I was watching my pace hover at 8:00/mi. With a good last mile I figured I could hold on to that. I pushed hard on the last two significant hills on Horsehead Bay rd and just gutted it out the last half mile or so to reach the driveway in 2:08:58 for 16.1 miles. Perfect 8:00/mi pace. Just lucky really.

Stats for the run:
Dist: 16.1
Time: 2:08:58 (I'd only be about 10 miles behind Meb in NYC)
Pace: 8:00/mi
Alt: 3965'
Calories: 325

I have to say that there's no way that the altitude can me accurate. I just don't buy it at all. I'm looking around online to see if I can find some kind of ratio for getting that back to a realistic number. That said there were still plenty of hills on the route. I was a little beat when I finished but I think that was more due to the lack of food.

My legs weren't feeling too bad after the run so I went for a shorter run at work today (Monday) with my new Brooks Defyance shoes. They feel almost identical to my Adrenaline shoes.

Dist: 4.95
Time: 38:55
Avs: 8:00 (odd coincidence)
Alt: 900
Calories: 0 (just water)

My legs are a bit sore now and hopefully some stretching will help later. I'm not going to be running the next two days so that I can rest up for a 10K that I'm hoping to fit into my schedule on Thursday (Thanksgiving) morning. I heard that Chris was going to do one so I thought I'd give it a shot too. Sometimes I'm a bit competitive I guess. Ego.

One more thought before clicking "publish": I started listening to a podcast called: The Quadrathon podcast. It's a British guy living in LA who's training for and running ultra-marathons. It's pretty interesting as he talks about strategy, drop bags, gear, pacing, etc... He records part of the podcasts while he's running apparently. At one point it struck me that I was listening to a podcast of a guy running. He wasn't speaking for a few minutes, just finishing the last mile of a race. I could hear his footsteps as I was running holding a similar cadence. Running while listening to someone running. I wonder what he was listening to while he was running...

The bits in his podcast about packing his drop bags for a 50 mile race was pretty interesting and something I haven't given much thought to. The one 50 mile race I did had good enough support that drop bags were un-necessary. Some day I'll have that problem though.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cold and cramp-free

I barely had time to fit in my run today at lunchtime. I did the 6mi. loop that I've been running lately from the gym only in the opposite direction today. I try to switch directions every week. I don't think either direction is easier, the hills come sooner in the CCW direction. I run for speed one day a week and that was today.

I felt pretty good this morning and tried taking an S-Cap before the run. I've never tried them before, only Enduralytes. I didn't have any cramping on the run so they worked okay so far. I probably didn't need it with the cold weather but I want to test them out and see how my body reacts. S-Caps claim to be more powerful than Enduralytes and are more recommended in the ultra running community from what I read.

I pushed the pace from the start and saw the Garmin report a sub 6 minute pace for the first 1/2 mile or so. I don't know how accurate the watch is at a glance though. It feels neat to see the current pace start with a 5 even if it's short lived. If I'm ever going to break 40 min. for the route I'll need to start out fast as I hit the short steep hills around the 1 mi. mark which quickly slows my pace. Once through the hilly trail segment I run on a loose gravel path along side a quiet road for a couple of miles. There are a few small rolling hills along this backstretch. I make a left turn and find myself speeding down a steep hill on the pavement at sub-6 pace again for maybe 1/3 of a mile. It's short lived glory though as I have to run back up an equally steep/long hill soon after.
At the top of that hill I have a very gradual incline for the next mile until the route flattens out bringing me back to the gym. The route is almost a perfect rectangle.

I was pretty gassed by the finish and happy with my time, less than a minute off of my PR for the route.

Dist: 6.0
Time: 43:30 (7:15 pace)

Update: My previous best was 43:39, so today was actually 9 seconds faster than my PR for the route. Nice!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Testing blogging from the iPhone

Speaking of the forest and the trees, I was startled during yesterday's run when I heard a loud crack and then a heavy sounding (WHUMP). I looked ahead to my left to see a large section of rotted out tree that had just fallen into a gulley on the side of the road. It was loud enough to startle me over the podcast that I was listening to.

Would it have still made noise if I hadn't been running by at that exact moment?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The forest and the trees

I'm still keeping up with the running, I'm just lazy about writing it up. The amount of time I have to work out in a given week depends on two things: my meeting schedule at work and my family plans on Sundays. I go to the gym every day to work out at lunch and then I usually plan a two hour block to exercise on Sundays.

I've been tweaking my weekday gym schedule lately to be more running-focused. I had been lifting 4 days a week and doing cardio 1 day. Now I'm doing 3 days of cardio, and two days of lifting. Since the weather is still in the high 40s I'll usually run my 6mi. loop two of those cardio days and do some kind of machine at the gym the other cardio day. I've been having rotator cuff pain recently so I'm limiting my weight lifting to exercises that keep my arms by my side or don't bear any weight. Basically arms and legs only for now.

My running has been going pretty well lately. One of the runs during the week I'll try to go at about 90% - 95% effort for tempo training and for the other I'll back off to 80%. I do a long run on Sunday (lately anyway) and I'm finding this to be an enjoyable combination. We'll see if I'll keep this up when the temps drop to the low 40s or high 30s in the heart of winter. I don't know if I want to push this hard in that kind of weather. We'll see what I can scrape together for winter gear.

Last weekend I did a 12 mile run but I didn't start until about 4pm. I thought for some reason that it wouldn't get dark until 5:30pm which was about an hour off. It was getting pretty dark 4 miles into the run. Luckily I had the foresight to bring along a bright blinky light and a reflective vest to wear over my white long sleeve shirt. I probably looked like a Fred but I came back unscathed after a good hour running on the shoulders with no street lights on a dark overcast night. It was strange running down a long hill with no traffic where I couldn't even see the road under my feet. I felt great during the run which went by pretty fast while listening to NPRs Fresh Air podcasts.

Today I took to it again in the middle of the day. I didn't do very well with my pre-run nutrition and had heartburn during the 2nd half of the run. I had some soreness in one calf as well, likely from the long gym session Friday evening where I did: Squats, Lunges, Leg Press, Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Calf Extensions, Adductor and Hip Flexor exercises plus 40 min of cardio. I'd run my 6 mile loop at lunch on Friday so my legs were a little sore come today.

I ran an out-and-back course today that passed a small store 4 miles into the run and then again 10 miles into the run. This worked out perfectly as I just carried a bag with 2 scoops of HEED in my pocket and bought a bottle of water from the store each time I passed by. I brought two Hammer Gels with me as well. I didn't feel very good after eating the first one so I didn't bother with the second. I forgot to bring any electrolytes but I was able to get away with it because of the low temps and light rain that kept me pretty cool the whole run. It certainly seems that no matter where I run in Gig Harbor, it's hilly. I managed to register a Garmin-claimed 4500' of ascending on today's 15 mile route. I don't have a good way to baseline the accuracy of my watch yet but I don't think it's far off. I only remember a few flat sections come to think of it.

I kept a pretty good pace but I was starting to feel fatigued by the 12 mile point. It wasn't terrible and I'll chalk it up to my poor pre-run eating and sore muscles. I hope it'll be better next weekend. I timed the run perfectly with my podcast selection and managed to listen to Competitor Radio Podcasts featuring: Chris McCormack, Bill Rogers, John McEnroe, and Erica Davis finishing the last podcast with 200m to go.

I don't know what I'm training for if anything. I'd like to get back into the occasional race if I can do it in a way that doesn't impact my time with the family too much. I have zero interest in entering another marathon* but local 50K races sound like a better deal financially and enjoyment-wise. I started today's run just after my daughter went down for a nap and as soon as I got home I changed and we took her to the pool which she loved but my back and hamstrings didn't. I chatted with Chris (over SMS) today and based on that decided to bring my HRM on the run. I came up with the following data:

Avg HR: 144
Max HR: 165
HR 1hr after the run: 60
HR now: 46

As for the run:
Dist: 14.98mi
Time: 2:06:53
Pace: 8:28/mi
Alt: 4580

I wonder how much faster I'd be if I were 10 lbs lighter. :)

* Paying $100+ to enter a marathon seems silly now that I've done a dozen of them. I don't see myself entering any more marathons with the following exceptions:

New York City: I was going to run it in 2003 but got injured and never got to run it.
Big Sur: Once for the scenery
Some decent race if I can ever convince my sister to run one with me. (Portland?)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Where did the summer go?

I've been enjoying the summer and I've been running a good bit of it. I haven't put together any training plans or entered any races but I've been fairly steady about going to the gym and running a mile or two as a warm-up every other day, running on Fridays after work at the Bridle Trails (until recently) and running on the weekend with the B.O.B. jog stroller more recently.

I'm always torn on how to spend my ~45 min a day at the gym during the work week. I usually warm up with a few min. of cardio and then hit the free weights. The last two weeks after watching my weight approach 200lbs I thought I'd try some outdoor running a couple of the days. I found a good 6mi. loop to run from the gym.

Being competitive I push the pace and so far (the 4 times I've run it) I've been able to improve my pace each time. The loop is split between gravel path, asphalt shoulder, dirt trail, and sidewalks. It's quite a hilly for the area. According to Garmin it gains/descends just over 2,000' in those 6 miles. I start fast and watch my 5 minute splits. I try to average at least 0.7 miles every 5 minutes. I don't know where I came up with that ratio but it's a good goal for me right now. So far my times have been:

47:06 (8:02 pace)
45:43 (7:40 pace)
44:20 (7:22 pace)
43:07 (7:11 pace)

It's a nice feeling to finish a hard run where you've been pushing yourself the whole time. I feel like I'm going between 90% - 100% effort the whole 6 miles. It reminds me of several years ago when I used to run with the Palo Alto Running Club. I treated the Tuesday night run as a hard tempo run and pushed to stay with the leaders, guys with sub-37 min. 10K PRs and sub 3 hour marathoners. They were running at 75% effort and I was at 95%. It sure made me run faster in the long run.

In any case, my current pace is a bit surprising given my recent running history and having knee surgery just over a year ago. I still try not to run back-to-back days and my weekly mileage has yet to break 25. I have no plans for racing this year but I'd like to do a 50K and maybe a marathon next year.

Today I got out for an easy run that I'd planned to be just recovery from the faster runs I'd done Tue/Thu. I ran out to Fox Island and back in just under an hour.

6.92 mi
8:39 pace

I felt like I was just trotting along at an easy highly conversational pace yet I averaged 8:39/mi. Surprising to me as I thought I was going about a minute/mile slower. No complaints, no knee pain. Works for me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A sh*tty run

As I did last Friday I went to the gym after work yesterday (Friday) with plans to run. I think we were on 8 consecutive days of rain come yesterday. It was raining pretty hard in the early afternoon but stopped by 5:30 when I stepped out of the gym ready to run. I turned on my Garmin watch and stretched while I waited for the GPS to pick up my position. Following that I headed down the parking lot to 148th ave and then North for maybe half a mile until I reached a dirt (mud now) trail that went due West for about a mile. It's mostly flat and muddy which makes it very slippery to run on. The trail has a couple of short very steep climbs and drops. Nothing that you'd have to walk but enough that my pace really slowed as I was working my calves pretty hard to grunt up it or bouncing side to side on the edges of the muddy trail on the way down so that I didn't slide down it on my butt.

Eventually after about a mile and half I hit the NE corner of Bridle Trails State Park. I finally found a trail map online of the basic layout of the area and where the major trails went. My plan was to run around the entire perimeter of the park depending on how well I'd memorized the shape of the park from the map. With all of the rain lately the trails were a bit slow (Did I mention that it was muddy?) and on top of the frequent mud puddles there were frequently piles of horse crap. It's funny that people give you a hard time if you don't pick up after your dog but no horse owner would ever think of picking up after their 2000lb animal and the giant piles that it creates right in the middle of the trails. The downside of the mud and crap was that I had to zig-zag across the trail frequently to avoid the mud that was deep enough to pull my shoe off as well as the horse flop.

I had the place to myself it seemed. I only saw one other person the whole time I was there, a young woman running the opposite direction. It was really nice to just jog around these deserted trails with my iPod in one ear and nothing but trees around me. No houses, no wind, no cars, no horses. I got a little lost coming around the southwest corner of the trail and a little mixed up when I hit the gravel path that bisects the park but was able to make it up as I went because of the orientation of the park. It's a rectangle with a few bits cut out of it and the edges point N/S and E/W. I always knew roughly where I was and what direction I needed to go. Eventually I got around to the South East side where I'd exited the park last week and this time continued North back to my starting point. This was by far the worse section when it came to the mud. The tree cover was the lightest here as well. There were plenty of sections of trail that were all mud and water and I did my best to run along the edges of the trail or slightly off-trail to avoid getting too muddy. Eventually I completed the loop which measured about 4.8mi. I then followed the same path back down the path to 148th ave and back to the Gym.

Oddly I ended up with 8.0 miles right as I stepped foot in the Gym parking lot. This isn't a true measure of the distance I ran though. I was stopping the watch when I'd stop for anything (stoplight, lost, traffic) and then I wouldn't start it up again until it registered a sub 10min pace for me. I do this because my pace/speed graphs get completely skewed otherwise with brief spikes for 1mph input points from the GPS watch. I probably had another 1/10th - 2/10ths of a mile that wasn't accounted for on the watch.

I did keep rough track of my splits for a change though:

Lap Dist Time AvgHR
1 1.00mi 8:03 138bpm
2 1.01mi 9:35 155bpm
3 1.00mi 9:09 149bpm
4 1.00mi 9:23 149bpm
5 1.07mi 10:09 151bpm (hit the lap button late)
6 0.93mi 8:32 150bpm
7 1.01mi 9:20 152bpm
8 0.99mi 8:31 150bpm

T 8.00mi 1:12:48 149bpm

I got back to the gym and had to go to the showers and wash off my legs before going to the weight room for the rest of my workout. Great place to run, I look forward to running there after a few days of Sun when I'm not struggling to find a path through the slop. Great way to burn 1200 calories.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back in business...

but for how long?

I've been quiet for almost a year now. Here's why:

Knee pain forced me to stop running. I could barely run at all without pain. Here's what happened last summer:

I got Xrays of my left knee: nothing wrong.

I went to a Physical Therapist: It's because of your arches. Come do exercises at my office while I pay no attention to you and buy Orthotics from me. (no change)

I got an MRI of my knee: Torn meniscus.

Knee surgery last July: 25% of my right Meniscus (Left knee) removed. Vicodin sucks.

Knee pain and scar tissue continued until near the end of the year.

I started walking then running 1/4 of a mile at a time at 10min pace. Slow progress.

In January I was up to 1 mile on the treadmill at 9min pace a couple of times a week. I've gone up a bit from then and started doing some outdoor runs as well as treadmill runs. I'm still having pain in my Left knee where the bottom incision port is scarred internally but I can run pain-free every other day.

Friday I took a run through the Bridle Trails park near work. It's a beautiful forest with dirt (some muddy) paths zig-zagging and intersecting through it. There are a few signs but I had no idea where to go so I just headed in a general direction for a while and then turned and headed another direction. I was trying not to get too muddy and avoid hitting any trail-side plants with my healing tattoo on the side of my leg. Great run overall. I ended up exiting the trail and heading south for a bit longer than I wanted to and ran the long way around and back to the gym for a total of just over 7 miles in 1:02 most of it on the trails. I got to the gym and didn't feel winded really or sore for that matter. I'm surprised and happy about this.

My knee was sore on Saturday however. Today though was another story. I got out and ran 2.5 miles in light rain with my daughter in the jog stroller. My daughter didn't care much for the experience all bundled up in her fleece jacket and hat with a warm blanket. She dozed off a couple of times which would have been nice but the rain was starting to pick up when we were heading back home. Right after dropping her off at home it really started to just dump hail. I'm glad that I wasn't caught out in that with her. I waited about 5 minutes for the hail to calm down and then ran the One Store loop with my iPod in the varying rain. Again I tallied up just over 7 miles in just over an hour.

I have to say that I like the Garmin Forerunner GPS watch but the accuracy is crap. I download and view the data and there are spikes galore in my pace / speed graphs. I assume it just loses signal for a second, assumes that I haven't moved for 10 seconds, marks my pace as 1mph and then jumps right back in to sync. Awesome Garmin.

At least I'm running again.