Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back in business

I didn't end up running over the weekend. My knee was still sore and I had too much to do anyway. I tried out the knee on the treadmill Monday instead. I wanted to run a conservative 5 miles and see how it felt with a plan to stop if I had any pain.

My knee felt fine during the run which ended up being a 9 min. warm-up mile followed by 3.5 miles at 8 min. pace with a 0.5 mi. cool-down. I started out with a 2.5% incline and lowered it a bit every mile.

After the run my knee was sore as I walked down the stairs to the locker room. As of right now it's still a bit touchy.

I'm taking an easy week of training this week, doing my weight lifting workouts at about 60%. The knee pain worries me thar I've re-torn my Meniscus somehow so I'm planning to take it really easy for a week or two. I hope to get back to long runs this weekend and continue training for the Mt Si. 50K in 3 months.

Knee permitting I'll get out for a run on Thursday.

Dist: 5.0
Time: 42:00

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


I overdid it lifting weights on Tuesday and my bad knee has been pretty sore since. I thought it was strong enough to handle a bump up on the leg press and deadlifts but it wasn't. I had to skip the weekday runs this week. I'll get out on Sunday if I'm pain free. This sort of pain worries me that I've torn the Meniscus again. I really hope that's not the case.

I should get back into swimming. I wish it was more interesting and less gasping for air just to swim at even a moderate pace. It's tough with no music, no scenery, no one to talk to, just watching the black line.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An early spring?

I forgot to write up my run on Friday morning, so briefly:

I knew that I couldn't get out for a run over the weekend so I got up early on Friday and was out on the road by 5:45am. It was dark out for the first hour and a half and my headlight isn't all that bright. My pace was a little slower than usual because of the dark and stopping to let cars pass. I ran out past Rosedale to Sahmel dr. and back.

It was fun running in the dark even with the steady drizzle of rain. I wore the CW-X tights again and would say that other than being a tad short for those with long legs, they work pretty well. My knee was a little sore after the run but my legs were fine. Viva compression!

~14mi / 2:03:00

The weather was nice yesterday, 55F and sunny. A rare nice day during a dark rainy month. I ran the regular work loop from the gym. Despite not getting much sleep over the past few nights I ended up running pretty fast. I was at my limit most of the run and fighting cramps for well over half of the time. I pushed as much as I could and took advantage of the downhill sections.

During the last mile I thought to myself: "don't finish easy and just miss breaking 42 minutes again." I guess I listened, running the last mile in 6:29 and finishing in 41:50.

Dist: 6.0
Time: 41:50
Avg: 6:58/mi.

Happy to break my work route PR.

Hopefully I'll get in an interval workout later this week.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dark and wet

I had to go in to work late yesterday so I didn't have time to run at lunch. I got lucky and was able to make time to run after work instead. It was raining, cold and dark at 6:30 when I got out the door. I had the debate again over taking the treadmill option instead of running outside but I was able to talk myself into toughing out the weather. I did my normal work loop plus a venture into the Bridle Trails.

The corridor trail was pretty muddy and I was sliding around a little as I strained to see what my headlamp was illuminating in front of me. After the two short steep climbs I reached a section of trail that was totally flooded. I didn't want to have wet shoes so early in the run so I climbed along the chain link fence and through a small tree to get around most of the water.

The rain picked up as I got to the Bridle Trails. I entered the park in the NE corner as I usually do and navigated roughly west to get to the powerline trail that bisects the park. I took the trail south and then headed back out of the park at the SE corner. The forray into the park really slowed me down due to the darkness and how hard it was to see my light beam with the rain coming down. It was pitch black in the forest other than my headlamp. This made it hard to see all of the shoe-sucking mud that I was trying to avoid. I slowed to a 9:30 pace as I bounced back and forth across the trail.

The pace picked up once I got back to the trail next to the roads. The rain kept pretty steady the rest of the run and my pace picked up for the last few miles.

I ended up with:
7.43 mi.
~8:31/mi avg

This was the second time in a week that I've run at night on the Bridle Trails. The difference this time was that there were no course markings. I had to stop at a few of the junctions and look around to remember what things looked like during the day. I need a better headlamp if I'm going to do night runs like this. I was straining to see the trail quite a bit. I loved the run though. I don't know why I keep forgetting this when I'm trying to decide between running outdoors or the treadmill in cold/wet weather.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Running in place

I ran a mile and a half at the gym yesterday and wanted to get out for a run late in the day but couldn't make it happen. I decided that i'd run at lunch today instead of lifting weights. I hopped on a new treadmill at the gym and went for a steady 8:00 pace and 2.5% incline. I started bumping the speed up every mile by 0.1 or 0.2 mph. It didn't end up doing much except saving me a little time. I finished with a 1/2 mi. cooldown at a slower pace.


Pretty basic stuff.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bridle Trails recap

I got out of the house late yesterday to head up to Kirkland / Redmond to volunteer for the Bridle Trails winter running festival. I found my way to the back of the park and was hit by the realization that parking was a mess. I had to park a half mile down the street from the Bridle Trails entrance. I jogged up the street to the trails and arrived about 2 minutes before the 50K racers started. I asked around and found the race director's wife to check in. It started out with normal "Gofer" duties, carry this to them, fill these with water, mark this part of the trail in an idiot-proof way, etc...

After this I set up a water stand near the relay exchange point and tried to keep cups full and available for the runners who were either starting or just finishing their laps. After probably 2.5 hours all of the 5 and 10 mile runners were finished and the water stop was broken down and consolidated with another. I did more gofer work and then sat down at the timing station to track runners and help record finish times for the next 3.5 hours. I worked with a great guy named Glenn who is quite a good photographer and seemed to know everyone that was entered in the 50K race. We talked and tracked runners until everyone was on the last lap and then I volunteered to run the sweep with two other runners (one of whom had finished the 50K race a few hours earlier) to pick up all of the tape, glow sticks and signs that were used to mark the trail.

With the race starting at 3pm, everyone gets a lap or two in the daylight and then has to run the rest of the race in the dark. I've only run the Bridle Trails during the day so despite wearing jeans and a rain jacket I wanted to run a (5.2mi) lap at night. We three set off with head lights (I had to borrow someone one as I'd loaned mine to a runners for his final lap) and a bag to carry our findings in. We started out jogging a bit until we'd find something we had to take down and then we'd stop and walk to pick all of the ribbon / glow sticks up and stuff them in the bag or our pockets and continue on. I was surprised at both how dark the course was and how well it was marked. Every wrong turn had caution tape going across the trail and there were glow sticks hanging so that you could see them far enough ahead that you never really had to search for the trail. You would really have to try hard to get off course on this race. With the format of six identical loops, you'd be even harder pressed to get lost.

It took us almost 2 hours to sweep the course and we all chatted and laughed the whole time as anyone running in a pitch-dark forest at midnight would do. When we finally got back to the finish area and emptied out our pockets, I chatted with the race director for a few, helped polish off some of the leftover food (M&Ms actually can go stale in short time outdoors apparently) and said goodbye and headed back to the car a little after midnight. I remembered that I'd parked a half mile away and started my jog back to the car. I was back in bed a little before 2am and glad for the chance to sleep in today.

I didn't plan to stay so late but I was having a great time meeting the other volunteers, runners, and the race directors. Running the sweep lap was totally fun and makes me want to work it out so that I can run the race next year. Although the conditions this year were some of the best they've ever had and the mud on the trail was very mild by comparison. The finish race was about 88% if my memory is correct. Staggeringly high for this race. What a great day. Volunteering at an Ultra was quite an experience. Get out there and try it!

I was talking to some of the other runners last night and heard that both the Chuckanut and Orca's Island 50K races had sold out already (on the day registration opened!) so they're off my list of potential races. Partially out of paranoia of getting shut out of another race and partly out of inspiration from my volunteering experience I signed up for the Mt Si 50K race in April. I've never run a 50K race before but I finished a 50 mile race 8 or 9 years ago. I've never entered a trail race either come to think of it. It's only a 50K so the training should be similar to a marathon, only more trail work and hills. I hope to enter another 50K race later in the year also. So... um... there, it's on paper.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Back to the Bridle Trails

We're back to rain today and I had to decide between running outside and running on the treadmill at the gym. It wasn't raining when I walked over to the gym at lunch so I figured that I'd run outside. I'm volunteering at a 50K race tomorrow that's near work. I would have liked to run it but volunteering will have to do this year. I figure that I won't get to run this weekend so I planned to run over to the trails that the race uses for a quick 6 - 7 miles. I went in the locker room, got changed, and when I came outside it was raining pretty hard. I waited for my Garmin to lock onto some satellites and debated turning around and running inside instead. I told myself that I need to overcome my dislike of running/cycling in bad weather and just run.

The race that I'm volunteering at is held in January partially because the conditions on the trails get so bad that it increases the challenge. The finishing rate for the 50k race last year was 65% and was only 37% (18 of 49) in 2006. With the race starting at 3pm everyone gets to run most of their miles at night. It's a sloppy dark mess. When I lived in CA, it rained so seldom that it was almost a novelty and I loved running in the worst conditions possible. Now it's just a regular annoyance. (who predicted that one? :)

In any case, I set off trying my new (longer) Race Ready shorts for the second time (it rained last time too) thankful that I remembered the Body Glide. It's about a mile on the pavement and then I take a corridor trail between a golf course and a housing development out to Bridle Trails State Park. I was soaked by the time I reached the trail. The corridor trail is itself pretty muddy and wet so I'm constantly hopping over and around puddles as I run. When I reach the park (which is more of a giant square forest) it gets a little better. The tree cover is dense enough to block most of the rain but the trails are still strewn with puddles, mud, and horse poop.

I didn't have time to run a full loop of the park so I just ran out on one trail and then came back on another. It's been a while since I've run there so I missed a few turns and ended up running a little farther than I'd planned. The running felt good but with all of the deep shoe-sucking mud to avoid you can't really get into a good rhythm. After a few miles I found my way back to where I started and headed back down the corridor trail. I picked up the pace a little bit between sliding around on the wet clay/mud and put the rest of my energy into the last mile (6:47). It rained the entire run and I was soaked and really cold. My fingers were almost numb from the cold and I was starting to have trouble manipulating them. It was one of those times when even a mildly warm shower hurts because your skin is so much colder than the water.

By the time I got dressed and left the gym to walk back to the office it had stopped raining. Figures. I'm glad I stuck it out for a run in the mud instead of overheating on the new goofy treadmills that they have at the gym. Actually reading through the marketing information, they're probably pretty good treadmills. It's just strange looking down at the ground right in front of your feet. On another positive note, the shorts held up to the challenge again and felt good. They feel kind of small. I'll pick up an even longer pair and see how they work for me.

Garmin said:
56:40 (8:07/mi)
143/174 (avg/max HR)
2951' (ascent)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sometimes it's good to turn the watch off

The rain took a day off and the temps touched the 50s so I stopped hiding in the gym for my weekly runs. It's been a while since I've run the loop from the gym. My legs were still a little sore from squats, deadlifts, and Plyometrics on Tue so I wasn't in the mood to be terribly compettive with my watch on the run. I set my Garmin to the menu screen for the run instead of the data screen. I wasn't tempted to check my time and see if I was on pace during the run for a change.

I felt slow and a little awkward running today. I was definitely limited by my lungs / breathing. I just couldn't get enough O2 to push harder. Running the loop clockwise puts the hills mostly in the first half and gives a much steadier longer hill to run first.

I tried to pick up the pace as soon as my HR would ease after the hill sections but I just didn't feel that fast. I guess my treadmill speedwork paid off though as I managed to finish in 42:54. I think that's my 2nd or 3rd best time for the route. Surprising.

Of course as I write this on the commute home (I'm not driving) my legs are feeling pretty sore, especially my Hamstrings. I hope there is something good on the DVR while I'm stretchig tonight.

Time: 42:54
Distance: 6.02
Pace: 7:09/mi.
Alt: probably <1000'

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to the gym and a new treadmill

I thought about going for a run outside at lunch but with 3 days of rain in a row I figured that the trail would be pretty sloppy and slippery so I resigned to running on the treadmill. When I walked upstairs to the room where they keep them I saw that they replaced half of the old treadmills with a new style of treadmill that i'd never seen before. The basic shape was the same, control panel in front, rails on the side, but instead of a moving rubberband style belt these ones had what looked like a collection of tight-fitting rubber/plastic slats that rotated around the bottom of the machine. It worked the same as a belt but it was more like the tread of a tank.

The tank based tread was much firmer and more stable to run on than a floppy belt. There was less give when my feet landed. I'd say that it had more of a road-like feel than other treadmills. The two things I noticed most were that

1) Any change in speed or incline (which you could adjust in 0.1% increments) would cause a small stutter in the tread where I could feel a gap between the slats for a step or two. It wasn't annoying, just odd.


2) There was nothing at the front of the tread. If you ran too close to the front of the tread you might be able to step off the front. If you happened to do this, the belt would probably catch your foot and push it back where it should be. The control panel is still where it normally is and would likely preventing this from happening. It was more of a mental thing to have nothing in front of you.

My run wasn't all that great. I started out with a 2% incline and a 6:53 pace. I didn't feel good after a somewhat lazy holiday break so I was either lowering the incline or slowing down every mile. Eventually I set the treadmill down to a 1% decline and brought the pace back to 6:53 until I hit 5.5 miles. I was more than ready to be done so I started my cooldown and ended with 6 miles in 42:43 (7:07 pace)

It wasn't great but neither has sleep been lately. On the upside, I lost a pound over the holidays. I've never done that before. Usually I gain a few.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reviewing your runs is so last year

2009 was half of a pretty good year for running. I started off the year doing one mile runs on the treadmill after taking the last 5 months of 2008 off from running after having knee surgery. I did mostly road biking and some other cardio machines at the gym during the off-time. I was biking most weekends for a couple of hours while my knee got stronger. By mid-February I started running a few more miles on the treadmill until I decided to test my knee outside and found it to be okay. In March I started doing ~1hr runs after work on Fridays out to Bridle Trails Park. I wasn't concerned with time, just distance and enjoyment of the trails when they were dry.

I was running 7 - 9 mile runs once a week, doing 12 - 20 miles a week between the treadmills at lunch, Friday runs after work and the occasional Saturday runs around the neighborhood. I kept up with the road cycling on the weekends until my son was born in August. I started focusing more on running on the weekends as it's quicker to get a workout in than dealing with the bike and all of the accessories that go along with it. I started taking my daughter out in the jog stroller for her naps on weekends and started increasing the distances to the 10 - 12 mi range.

By September I mapped out a route that I could run from the gym at work during lunch that is almost exactly 6 miles. My competitive drive took over and I started pushing myself really hard to run this somewhat hilly route. I also started focusing more on running at lunch rather than weightlifting. I was running the work loop twice a week and doing another treadmill session and increasing my weekend long runs slowly.

I had to give up the jog stroller runs in early October when the weather turned too cold for my daughter to have any interest in joining me on my weekend runs. I also got sick in October and blew off two weeks of running around my birthday.

I kept up the focus on speed in November finally hitting my goal of 42 minutes for my 6 mile work loop. I also entered a local hilly 10K after being inspired by a "pain cave" comment Chris made on Twitter. I managed about 15th place and finished the race in 40:39 (Garmin said that the course was only 6.01 miles).

In December I started running faster on the treadmill after the weather really dipped to below 32F for a week. I just didn't want to try to gut myself on a fast run while I was freezing and trying to avoid icy patches. I found that running fast on the treadmill is much easier than outdoors, managing a sub 39 10K indoors.

My monthly mileage was a bit scattered:

Jan 5.00
Feb 33.50
Mar 22.20
Apr 48.25
May 57.70
Jun 40.50
Jul 21.75
Aug 24.25
Sep 55.15
Oct 46.70
Nov 94.51
Dec 102.50

for a total of 552 miles for the year. It's not the 1200 - 1400 miles I used to do in 2002/2003 when running was all I focused on. Oddly though I have much less time to run now and yet I'm faster on the short distances (we'll see if I do a marathon again) and now I try not to run back-to-back days to save my knee some stress.

Base goals for 2010:
- Run two 50K trail races.
- Beat my 10K PR after turning 40.
- Run on the trails more

Stretch goals for 2010:
- Convince my sister to run a marathon with me.
- Break 37 minutes in the 10K.
- complete a 100K

I'd be happy to hit even one of the stretch goals but I've never been good at thinking big when it comes to goals, so there you go. Here's to an injury free 2010 for anyone reading my crap musings. Get out there and run!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

NYE Crescent Valley Forest trail run

Between getting a new computer and having two kids under 3, getting this posted 3 days late doesn't feel that bad really. On 12/31 I got out in the middle of the day to run some new trails that I'd read about online. I saw that there was a 50K race on Thanksgiving on some trails about 25 min NE of me in Gig harbor so I drove out there to check them out. I got out there at a little after 2pm in light rain and 45F temps. I went with my new Race Ready shorts (that have yet to chafe) and running pants along with a base layer and a long sleeve shirt. No compression anything for this run. I found a tiny area to park the car on the South side of the forest and took off running.

The area was a big forest with what I assumed would be trails going all around it in some kind of loop. The trails were a little rocky and rutted from watershed. This gave the rain a nice channel that wandered across the trail that I had to keep jumping. I would also have to step around the occasional huge trail-width puddles.

Some of the trail was fire roads with high bush and tree lined sides, other parts were just narrow paths winding through sparse pine trees. There weren't any long hills that but there were some minor incline/decline sections. The area was nice but the trails didn't seem to go anywhere. I must have run into 6 dead-ends where I had to just stop and turn around when I reached the edge of the forest. I was trying to make a mental note of the side-trails and go back to them when I'd hit a dead end. Multiple out-and-backs aren't nearly as fun as a loop course.

My only plan was to run more than 9 miles so that I could hit 100 for the month of December. This came into question about 4 miles into the run when I was feeling slow and run down. I had taken the previous two days off and had a good breakfast and lunch before the run so I didn't think it was due to a calorie deficiency. I had two gels with me but I didn't think they'd help. I kept slogging along wondering if I had 9 miles in me at all. After another woozy mile I just stopped and ate one of the gels and it made quite a difference. I don't know why but my head cleared up and I felt stronger a couple of minutes after eating the gel. Never mind the calories in the HEED that I filled my bottles with, this gel did the trick. Strange. As the run improved for me I decided that I was going to just run how I felt instead of being a slave to the watch and the splits. I really should have set it to just show distance and not time.

The rain had picked up a bit and my shirt and running pants were getting heavier and heavier. I also happened to glance down at my feet and was surprised by big white blobs of what I quickly realized were soap suds at knee level on my running pants. Overfilled the washing machine last time maybe? It initially surprised me and then gave me a good laugh. I kept on running in the rain and had to keep pulling up the waist of the pants and hoped that the chafing wouldn't be too bad with soaked clothes having forgot the Body Glide. (surprisingly it wasn't) After a couple more out-and-backs I saw that I was over 9 miles so I headed back toward the car. It was farther than I thought and I ended up with just over 11. I was happy to have made it. I wrung out my clothes and changed in to warmer stuff in the car, testing out my compression socks for their recovery powers. (They worked fine, no soreness yet)

Good run, good finish to the year.

Dist: 11.03
Time: 1:38:45
Avg/mi: 8:57 (slow first and last mile)
Alt: 3586 on the Garmin (1800' ??)

Here is a Link to the route on Everytrail.com. It starts out as a small picture but you can click "View Map Fullsize" at the bottom right to get an animated version with pretty stat graphs.