Sunday, September 26, 2010

One week to go until the big race.

Wow, it's been a while. With a teething one year old who's been waking up between 3-4 am last week I haven't had much time or energy to write. I'll try to keep it brief and go over the runs starting where I left off...

Friday (6.2mi, 43min, 6:58/mi avg) I ran around my "Work Loop" with the goal of an 80% effort. I hit it pretty well. I was working hard but left a little back. It felt hard but good.

Sunday (16.5mi, 2h 11m, 7:56/mi avg) I had 20 miles on the schedule as a final long run before the taper weeks begin. I was on call for work so I had to split the run up into 3 parts. First my daughter wanted to run the whole thing with me. "I can run 20 miles, Jay." Ummm, lets go around the block and see how you feel.... We ran around the block (just over 1/2 a mile) and she started out strong but stopped to walk at the half way point. She had a few more running efforts in her but by the end of the lap she was calling out "DRINK BREAK!" every 30 seconds to get a sip from my hand bottle. It was cute but the opposite of running. She decided that she wanted to go on a second lap for some reason so we went past the house and she ran probably 10% of the time and continued with the drink breaks. She wasn't interested in a third lap. I dropped her off at home and refilled my bottle that she had drank most of and ran a double out-and-back around the neighborhood to get another 5 miles in my legs. I came back home, refilled again and headed out to the YMCA.

The plan was for the family to give me a 45 - 50 min head start and then drive out there along the same route so that if I did get called for work, that they'd bring me my laptop and I could just hop in the car and start working. (sounds fun eh?) . Work never called and they passed me about 3.5 miles from the Y. I kept going and ended up with only 16.5 on the day. Good enough.

Monday (5.9mi 46min, 7:52 avg) I was a little tired from Sunday's adventure so I took it a little bit easy and ran out to Grass Lawn Park. I ran a mile around their funky 0.2mi track with shoes and then 2 more miles barefoot. There was a soccer game going on so I had to watch for errant kicks as I went past parts of the field but overall it went well. My feet feel pretty good.

Tuesday (5.1mi, 48min, 9:25/mi avg) I ran some easy miles with Nate again. Good to have the company out there on the run.

Wednesday (5.4mi, 37.5min, 6:57/mi avg) I went for a decent tempo run (my last for this training cycle) and had a little bit of stomach trouble holding me back on top of a lack of sleep. This was after one of the nights when the boy got up at 3am so that he and I could spend some quality time not sleeping.

Thursday (5.4mi, 51min, 9:34/mi avg) I ran the same route as Wednesday but with Nate in a pretty good rain storm. We were both soaked to the skin inside of 5 minutes. It wasn't that cold thankfully. It stopped raining by the time we finished which added to the humor of the run.

Friday (5.6mi, 45min, 8:05/mi avg) Easy pace out to Grass Lawn Park again where I only had time for one mile barefoot before heading back to work. Felt decent but not great. It always feels odd when I put my shoes back on after running barefoot. It takes me probably a quarter mile for my footfalls to feel normal again.

Sunday (10.5mi, 1h 22m, 7:50/mi avg) I ran out to the YMCA again following the same route as last weekend. I tried to keep close to an 8:00/mi pace. It's not easy with all of the smallish hills that I go up and down around here. I had to push a little harder on some of the uphills and hold back on some of the downhills. It worked out in the end to 7:50/mi which would be a great pace for me on race day. I think that would be a stretch but not impossible. My legs and body felt almost completely good. The exception to that statement was my stomach. I had to stop twice at the bathroom, by which I mean bushes by the side of the road. Annoying.

I passed the 1000 mile mark earlier this month and I'll pass the 1100 mile point next week. My weekly and monthly mileage are falling off a little this month due to the taper weeks before the race. If all goes well I'll run twice during the coming week. I get antsy when I don't run but it'll only help me rest up for next Saturday. So far so good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One more note

I finally hit 1000 miles for the year during last Saturday's long run.

That is all.

Looking back at the past week

Saturday (27.1mi, 3h 43m, 8:14/mi avg) Saturday ended up working better for me to get out for a long run. I had a 4 hour window between cleaning house and friends coming over for dinner.  The plan was to run out to Pt. Defiance and back. I decided on Pt. Defiance because it was just over 13 miles away (I planned for a 26mi run) and I thought that I had a good chance of finding a water fountain to refill my bottles there. If I wasn't able to find a water fountain I could easily run up Pearl street to one of many convenience stores to buy water. I also knew that I wouldn't be too far from a pay phone if I bombed the run completely and needed a ride back home. The downside of the route was that it was all on paved streets/paths.

At noon the weather was partly sunny and in the mid 60s which was just about perfect. The first few miles were out to 40th ave, up and over the long hill and down to the Grange. The shoulders on these roads were plenty wide enough that I could stay well away from passing cars.

I felt calm and at ease with my long run from the start which isn't the norm for me. I'm usually a little nervous about how the run is going and I don't really settle down until I'm 3/4ths over and I know I have it in the bag. Saturday I was feeling confident. Maybe it was the last five 50 mile weeks I'd racked up. I kept a steady pace that was hovering around an 8:00/mi average over the first few net-downhill miles.

I was enjoying some music on my new Ipod Shuffle that I bought on a lark when Apple announced the new models two weeks ago. My first generation Nano is having headphone jack issues and cutting out frequently so it was time for a new one. I took advantage of the free engraving that Apple offers on Ipods and had them etch it with part of one of my favorite running-related quotes: "Never sacrifice the gift." The full quote is from Steve Prefontaine:

"To give less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." 

I don't know why distance running comes easy to me especially given my size and the lack of athleticism anywhere in my family history. Maybe it was some genetic trait laying dormant. A gift in a manner of speaking. Thank you Science!

Back to the run. From the Grange I turned onto East Bay Dr NW (great name) which has little to no shoulder now that it's been re-paved but is the most direct route to the Narrows Bridge. I ran in the grass and dirt along the side of the road until I came to the bottom of the last hill. It was here that my body decided in no uncertain terms that it was time to find a bathroom. I was maybe 1/4mi from a gas station but I didn't think I could even make it that far. Luckily there was tree cover and an embankment that offered some privacy. Once I got back on the road I continued climbing the hill that lead up toward the airport and further on to the Narrows Bridge.

I had only run across the Narrows Bridge once before, at a 5KM race held the day before the new span of the bridge opened. We were running on the road then, not just the bike/pedestrian path. Running across the bridge this time was quite disorienting for me. The view of the water 187' below was very distracting. I was glad when I reached the other side and headed up the hill and turned left at the light. I followed Jackson for a mile or so and then turned left to head down Narrows dr toward the Zoo. I was still keeping a good pace even with the hilly route as I eventually headed down N. Park wy which lead me right into the park and a water fountain.

My Garmin said I was 13.5 miles into the run and it had taken me 1:50 to get there. I refilled and turned around for the journey back. I felt surprisingly good considering the 2hrs already spent running. I was trying to keep good running form (upright, don't over-stride, stay loose) which helped keep the demons off of my back. The temperature picked up a little on the way back so I took off my shirt and enjoyed the breeze. My pace was starting to slip by about 18 miles but I was still hitting the occasional sub-8 min split. I followed the same route back and by the time I reached the Arletta store I was starting to feel the miles in my feet. I pushed through the discomfort and pulled out a final sub-8 min mile before finishing in 3:43. I went through the 26.2 mile point in 3:36:08, which is about 4 minutes faster than I hit that point in my last training run for the Mt. Si 50K earlier this year.

My nutrition plan worked really well. I tried to consume between 275 - 300 Kcal / hr. I put 150 Kcal of CarboPro and a Nuun tablet in each bottle to start with. I carried two plastic bags with 150 KCal of Carbopro and a Nuun tablet in my pocket for the mid-run refueling. On top of that I carried 6 Hammer Gels. Two bottles lasted me about 13 - 14 miles. I ate a gel every 30 min and an S-cap every hour. I never felt hungry, bloated or cramped.

Sunday (0.6mi, ~6min, 10:00/mi avg) The other reason I did my long run on Saturday is because my daughter's first ever race was Sunday. She mentioned a few weeks ago that she liked to run with me so I offered to sign her up for a race. She said "Sure Jay!" (we're on a first name basis) so I signed us both up for the Bank 2 Bay 1K race. I thought about running the 5K or 10K race myself as well but I wanted it to be about her first race instead of worrying about my own event. The 1K event started in two waves, first the 5 - 10 year olds took off, then three minutes later then 0 - 5 year olds. We were in the second wave and got a little boxed in when the starter's horn sounded. It took about 100 meters before the race opened up and we were able to start passing people. We weren't warmed up so we started out slow with a short walking break. Once her legs warmed up she picked up the pace a bit. I left it to her to set the pace and just kept up with her.

The course was an out and back. We weaved through people and got to the turn around where she exclaimed "I see two cones!". We went around the cones and headed back to the finish line on the other side of the street. We were steadily passing other parent/child teams as we chugged on at what I'd estimate was a 10min/mi pace. My wife was cheering for us at the side of the road and took a couple pictures as we trotted by. When we were maybe 100 meters from the finish my daughter saw the Tacoma Rainier's mascot (a big moose) and slowed quickly. She didn't know what to make of him and was a little startled by his size and appearance. She made me laugh when she said: "A MOOSE JAY!" I said "lets go around him" and she kicked it into high gear and we sped around him and into the finishing chute. The race wasn't timed so I'm just estimating that it took us about 6 minutes. As soon as the race was over she said "That was a short race, Jay." I'll look for something longer next time I guess. Overall it was a great time and so much fun to run with her. I hope we continue this trend in the future.

Monday (5.1mi, 44min, 8:36/mi avg) Just a recovery run out to the Bridle Trails and back. My legs were pretty sore from Saturday so I took it pretty easy, stopping on the way back to try a few wild Blackberries (disappointing) and just stretch out those legs.

Tuesday (6.2mi, 47min, 7:38/mi avg) I planned to run out the corridor trail to the Bridle Trails and then come back down to Grass Lawn Park for a mile barefoot on the track. As I approached I saw a motorcycle cop blocking the trailhead. I asked him if the trail was open or closed. He said that there was a burglar in the area and the Police were tracking him with dogs. I changed my plans and kept going down 148th to Old Redmond Rd. I saw Police cars parked every 2 blocks watching for the burglar. I ran up the long hill and turned around when I hit the 2.5 mile point, headed back down the hill and stopped at GLP for 5 laps (0.20 mi track) barefoot. It felt great to run without shoes again now that my feet are healed after the long saga with the blisters after the last time I tried to run barefoot in the blazing sun. I wanted to run another mile or two on the track but I went with caution instead and headed back to the gym. My legs were feeling a little better.

Wednesday (5.4mi, 36:16, 6:43/mi avg) Time to pay the piper and get back to some tempo running. I ran the Redmond Streets route (148th -> Old Redmond -> power line trail -> corridor Trail -> 148th) CCW. I had some speed in my legs but I struggled to really push myself hard. Still recovering from the long run I guess. I'm pretty happy that my mile splits were:

6:05 (downhill)
7:02 (uphill)
7:01 (uphill)
6:48 (mixed)
6:37 (mixed)
6:50 (last 0.4, mostly uphill)

I came close to staying under 7:00 every mile. It's just tough to plod up Old Redmond rd that fast. Good run but tired.

I also finally weighed myself at the gym and I'm down 4lbs since I've put a hold on the deserts a week ago. Tough to stay honest with this one though. I'm sure I'll crack when I go to the Puyallup Fair this coming weekend.

Thursday (5.4mi, 52min, 9:38/mi avg) I ran the reverse of the route I ran yesterday with Nate. We ran at a slow recovery pace. Well it was a recovery pace for me anyway. Nate runs for fitness rather than enjoyment, so his pace is a little slower than mine. Great to have company on the run though. I could have just kept going and going....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The past few runs (recap)

Thursday (5.3mi, 51min, 9:38/mi avg) I ran a very slow recovery run with a co-worker and didn't worry about pace. I just tried to enjoy the rare occasion of company on a run. He's doesn't run anywhere near the miles I do so he's quite a bit slower. Sometimes it's worth it to trade a faster pace for good conversation.

Friday (9.25mi, 1h 8m, 7:25/mi avg) I planned to run between 11 and 14 miles after work but got a late start and my ankle / Achilles started bothering me so I cut it about half a lap short once I got into the trails. I took a slightly different route out to the Bridle Trails, going almost all the way around them clockwise and entering on the West side of the trail where the horse ring and water fountain are. I had one large water bottle with me and it was a hot enough day that the bottle was almost empty by the time I got to the Park (5 miles). I was holding a pretty good pace, averaging around 7:05/mi at that point despite the hills.

I refilled the bottle and rinsed off my head to cool down and got back onto the trail. I started feeling a little overheated after my brief water stop and had to slow the pace down a little bit to keep from blowing up. It only lasted about a mile and a half until I was ready to push again. I continued CCW around the perimeter of the park and rather than completing another half lap when I got to the NE exit, I just listened to my body and headed back toward work. My ankle has been feeling the odd twinge of soreness from rolling it running a week or so ago. It didn't really bother me at the time but I'll get the occasional reminder that something isn't quite right.

I held a strong pace the rest of the way back to work and ended a few miles short of my goal but happy that I got out for an hour no less.

Sunday (15.2mi, 1h 53m, 7:27/mi avg) I took Saturday as a planned day off and ran my scheduled 15 mile run on Sunday. I didn't have a plan on how to run the 15 miles, tempo, recovery, fartlek, hills, etc... I just wanted the time on my feet and more work for my legs. I felt pretty good as I was getting started so I headed out toward Sehmel drive to repeat the 15 mile run I completed a couple of weeks ago and see if I could run it faster. I hoped to run at least 8 miles in the first hour and then hold or beat that pace for the "and back" part of the route. There were only a few uphills on the "out" so I had little trouble keeping the pace in the low 7 min/mi and even high 6 min/mi range until just after the turn around. I made my 8 miles in the first hour (barely) and started to slow on the return. I had to stop for water earlier than I'd planned due to the heat and my pace.

I had a slower mile or two in the middle and recovered somewhat to pull the pace back down near 7:00/mi for the last 3 miles. Overall it was a good run and about a minute and a half faster than last time I ran this route. I felt like I was pushing the pace a little past the point of comfort the whole run. I'm not very in tune with my pace right now and I'm not sure what I should shoot for at Baker Lake in a month. 5 hours seems pretty conservative. 4:30 (well, 4:29 actually) would be a nice run and 4:15 would be a very good day for me. Tying myself to a distinct time seems silly though. I'm not out to win it and couldn't even if I was. I think I should working on coming up with goals in terms of enjoying myself out there.

Tuesday (6.0mi, 44min, 7:03/mi) I skipped Monday's planned recovery run. How's that for recovery? I felt that I needed to take another day off after hitting 50 miles again last week despite planning to drop my mileage. Tuesday I ran on the treadmill at the gym at work instead of braving the light rain and likely muddy trails around Redmond. I ran a mile of warm up at 8:00/mi and then ran 4 x 1mi with times ranging between 6:10 and 7:00/mi. Again I don't know what I should be running for mile repeat times so I just tested out different speeds. The first one at 6:40 felt pretty hard so I backed off a little for the next two and then started the last one at 7:00/mi pace but started bumping up the speed 0.1 - 0.2 mph every 30 seconds. By the end of the mile I was down into the 5:45/mi range and spraying sweat all over the treadmill as I struggled to keep my legs going. It felt pretty hard and my legs were tired by the end but it was good to get this workout into the books. I do speed work without a specific target pace. I'll have to work the pace out before I find a 10K to run later this year.

Wednesday (5.45mi, 45min, 8:16/mi avg)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Big August, Tempo, Fartlek, and literally running an errand

After hitting 190 miles in July I wanted to see if I could beat that for August. I'm happy to say that I found time to break the 200 mile barrier for the first time. I ran 24 days this month, the same as July but I averaged almost 8.7 miles per run to July's 8.0. My numbers for August are:

Miles: 208
Time: 28h 16m
Avg: 8:09/mi

My totals for the year so far are:

Miles: 930
Time: 127h 52m
Avg: 8:15/mi

I should be able to hit 1000 miles in September, but I don't know if I'll be able to keep up the 50 mile weeks that I've been doing this month. Summer is ending and the weather is turning wet. That means my main trail system (Bridle Trails) will soon be a muddy mess as is the norm most winters. Normally I'd hit the gym that's a block or so away but with 4 treadmills in the gym at work, less time walking to the gym means more time to work out.

So what have I been running?

Saturday (6.25mi, 57:50, 9:16/mi) I didn't plan to run on Saturday but with my wife and daughter away at a kids birthday party and Sunday looking packed with guests and a party of our own, A window of time opened up and I jumped on it. I loaded the boy into the BOB and got out onto the roads. My legs didn't feel that bad after running long on Friday evening. Definitely not fresh but not dead either. The only plan was recovery. I headed out to the Arletta store and then over to 40th ave, the local long steady climb. I ran up the hill with the jogger until I hit the 3 mile mark in the run and then turned around. I knew that I wouldn't have that much time before dinner time and the two corn-cakes I packed wouldn't last him long. I wasn't able to keep much of a pace up or downhill and just slogged along trying to stay loose the rest of the way home.

Monday (9.4mi, 1:15:39, 8:03/mi)  I had another appointment with my acupuncturist in the middle of the day so I ran after work. I changed at work and quickly realized that I'd forgotten my water bottle. I drank as much water as I could stand before starting the run and then set out on a moderate pace through Redmond. I headed down to Grass Lawn Park where I stopped for a water fountain before heading up Old Redmond Rd. toward the Powerline trail that bisects the Bridle Trails park. It's a steady climb at a 5% - 7% grade. Not a killer but not very fast either. I trotted up the hill listening to an interview with Duncan Callahan fresh off of his Leadville 100 victory. My pace was slow and comfortable. Once on the Powerline trail I passed a few people riding horses as I headed toward the park.

I entered the park and began a CCW loop around the perimeter. I tried to stick to the outermost trail to maximize my run and because those are the trails that I know the best. I eventually found my way to the lower horse stable / ring where the only drinking fountain was. Again I drank all the water I could stand and set off going up the same trail I ran on my long run last week. It's short and steep and takes you up to the center of the park. From there I tried out a few trails that were new to me and had a great time exploring some different terrain. I love the lesser travelled paths and the narrow quick footing. It felt great to run fast and make quick decisions on which path to follow when the trail split, throwing my body left or right and committing my speed and cadence to that choice.

I found that I was speeding up as the run went on. As I was crossing the last of the South perimeter and coming up the East side of the trails I found myself keeping a pace in the high 5's and low 6's (min/mile) as I sought out good footing on the rooted trail. I was feeling good enough that I was even pushing off of the uneven terrain so that I'd float over the small potholes and gullies. Much to my surprise I found a great groove of speed and agility as I ate up the trail.

I exited the Bridle Trails, crossed the street and headed down the corridor trail back toward Redmond. I kept the pace fast and my heart rate up as I negotiated the two short steep descents and one ascent. Once the trail flattened out near the golf course I was starting to feel the burn from the fast pace but I could see the street that lead back to work so I kept the pace under 6:00/mi until I hit the street. I pulled the plug there and slowed to a recovery pace the last 3/4mi to cool down from the hard effort.

Tuesday (5.25mi, 40:00, 7:37/mi) It was raining hard all morning and the co-worker that I was going to run with forgot his shorts so I was on my own. I debated a run in the rain but decided to use a treadmill at the work gym instead. I was lucky that I got there when I did because three of the four treadmills were already taken. I didn't have a plan in mind (intervals/recovery/tempo/etc) so I warmed up for 10 minutes, then did something I've wanted to try for a while: a 10/10 time trail. I've read about some of the hardcore ultra runners doing 10 minute time trails on treadmills at 10% incline as a friendly competition. They're able to cover between 1.5 and 2 miles in 10min. I've been curious how I would compare for 10min at 10%. I didn't think that it'd be so hard to run at a 10% incline. I started out at 7:30/mi pace and after about a quarter of a mile realized that there was no way I could hang on for 10 minutes at that pace. I dropped the speed as I continued to struggle with the incline. I settled into a decent pace that hurt but was maintainable and finished the 10 minutes with a paltry 1.15mi.

I recommend that everyone try this and see how deep in the pain cave you can venture. Of course this will now be a benchmark that I try to beat occasionally.  It counts as hill training, right?

After the 10min time trail I dropped the treadmill back to 2.5% incline and eased back into a recovery pace for 2 miles before speeding up to a 6:30 and then 6:00 pace. This was more because I was running out of workout time than my desire to run fast. I capped it off with the last 1/2 mile at a 5:55 pace. On my training log I called this a Fartlek day, something I don't do often enough.

Wednesday (6.2mi, 50:00, 8:04/mi) I wanted to get out for a relatively easy run but I wanted to stay away from the trails which should be nice and muddy after yesterday's rain. I needed to pick up a padlock to use at work now that the gym is open and I can leave my stuff in the day-use lockers there. Google said that there was a Target store in Redmond so I got the walking directions to the store, wrote them down and promptly left them at my desk. Luckily the route was simple. The route was all on streets and was about 2.9 miles each way. That would be about as far as I was willing to run to at lunch. I calculated that I could run down there, grab a lock and run back in well under an hour.

The route started out going down a fairly steep 1.1 mile hill on the bike/foot path that goes from 51st street down along Hwy 520 to the edge of downtown Redmond. It loses 300 feet and went by quickly run on the way down. From there I was able to run a block on the sidewalk and then cut over to a different bike/foot path and run almost the rest of the way staying off the roads and sidewalks. The path dumped me out on Redmond Road about a block and a half from the Target Parking lot. One long stoplight later and I was at Target. I headed toward the school supplies, grabbed the first Master combination lock that I saw and jumped into an open checkout lane. I paid in cash, declined a bag and ran back out of there with my water bottle in one hand and the lock (in it's plastic packaging) in the other.

I waited for probably 2 minutes at the first stoplight and then was back to the path admiring the wild blackberry bushes as I ran. The path lead me to the street I wanted half a block from the bottom of the big hill. I waited for another long stoplight and when it changed, I attacked the hill. I kept a strong pace that was probably somewhere in the low 8:00/mi range judging by feel. I've driven down the hill many times but this was the first time I'd run up the hill. It wasn't nearly as steep as I thought it was. I was still breathing hard and my legs were complaining about the effort but it was never bad enough that I wanted to stop or felt like I was going to blow up. I saw another runner near the end of the path at the top of the hill when I was still about 2/10ths of a mile away. I pushed as hard as I could and made up some ground on him but I ran out of room and had to settle for catching him as he jogged in place waiting for the light to change. (I'm still not sure why people jog in place at stoplights, I'm usually running hard enough that I'm happy to take a break when I stop for a light.) In any case, from the top of the hill it was just a short easy cool-down jog back to work to shower and get back to my desk. I only wish I'd brought my Garmin watch on the run to get the actual numbers.

My bad knee is a little sore after the back-to-back-to-back big mileage weeks so maybe an easy week is in order for me. I'm all set and on track for the Baker Lake 50K in October and a 1K race with my daughter (her first) in two weeks. Those two races and a 10K later this year are the only things on my race calendar. I still haven't found a 10K to enter though. I know that there's one in Gig Harbor on Thanksgiving morning (that I ran last year) but it's pretty hilly and not a good one for breaking 40 minutes. I need to do a little more searching to find a flat easy race for the speed attempt.