Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter is upon us

I've been busy with work, family and snow lately so I'll try to catch up with the last few runs for those die-hard readers (both of you)...

Tue 11/16 (5.4mi, 50 min, 9:16/mi) I ran with Nate at lunch at an easy pace. I felt like crap from the start and had G.I. issues the whole run. I had to stop a few times in the middle of the run to use the port-o-potty which is always fun when you're running with friends. "Umm, you go ahead and I'll catch up with you..." I'll blame the antibiotics for this.

Wed 11/17 (5.0mi, 43 min, 8:30/mi) I ran on The Machine at work. I still wasn't feeling 100% recovered from the sickness/flu that stuck with me for the last 3 weeks so I kept an easy pace. I was increasing the incline every half miel until I was running at 7% for a bit before bringing it back down to my usual 2.5%. I felt a little better than Tuesday.

Thu 11/18 (5.4mi, 50min, 9:16/mi) Another easy run with Nate. Same route as Tuesday but the opposite direction. Nate apparently didn't like the mile+ long uphill that you get when you run the route CCW. My condition continues to improve and I felt like I was ready to up the mileage and start running faster. It was pretty cold out and I wish I'd brought a hat and some gloves.

Fri 11/19 (6.6mi, 52min, 7:53/mi) I ran out to Grass Lawn Park for some barefoot running on the track. I wanted to add a little faster pace running so I made it a Fartlek run. I ran hard for one song on the iPod and then eased off for the next one. Songs being all different lengths I was really suffering for a song or two to end. Once I got to the track I ran 2 barefoot miles doing two laps easy and then one lap hard. Pretty good run overall.

Sunday 11/21 (8.5mi, 1h17min, 9:05/mi) With temps dropping I bundled up and prepared for a good run to test out the MT101s a bit more. Just before leaving my daughter said that she wanted to go with me. I tried to tell her that it was too cold (low 40s) but she said that she could bundle up and stay warm. I decided to give it a shot and got the BOB jogger ready and bundled her up. When I run with her the route always stops at one of the local convenience stores for a treat. I think this is the main reason she likes to go with me. Unfortunately the temperature dropped almost 10 degrees during the run which made for one cold kiddo. We stopped at the Island View store for some chocolate and some milk before wrapping her back up in the blanket for the trip home. It started snowing on the way home and she wasn't happy. I picked up the pace and went down the Tunnel Trail as a shortcut despite all of the fallen tree branches. We got home just in time for her to warm up in front of the fire while I took a shower before we bundled up again to go ice skating. (great run, great day)

Snow, wind, and ice took over the roads on Monday and Tuesday and I didn't even try to drive in to work. Working at home makes it harder for me to get a run in. Add to that the icy roads and sub-freezing temps and I didn't get out for any miles. So much for my training cycle for the 10K I'd planned on Turkey day. If anything I'll drop down and run the 5K race with my daughter if it's warm enough.

Wednesday 11/24 (6.21mi, 46:25, 7:29/mi) Back in the office on Wednesday, I ran a 10K on the treadmill at lunch. My plan was to run the middle 3-4 miles at my target race pace of 6:25/mi. The reality was that I didn't have that in my legs or lungs. I started at an 8:30 pace and dropped down :30 per mile until I was running 3/4 of a mile at 6:30 and backing off 1/4 of a mile to recover. Not the workout I was hoping for. Fitness is still coming back after the illness.

Thursday 11/25 (8.4mi, 1h12min, 7:30/mi) There was still plenty of snow on the ground and the temp at the start of the run was 33F. I didn't even bother with the Turkey Trot. It warmed up during the run to maybe the high 30s. The snow wasn't very deep so I wasn't post-holing but it was just enough that the roads were slippery and running on the snowy shoulder was sluggish. I was one layer overdressed and had to keep taking off my hat and gloves and putting them back on. I kept a pretty good pace except for one mile that I tried an alternate route up the tunnel trail. I followed a new path to a dead end and then tried to bridge over to the proper trail. I wound up bushwhacking for a few minutes as I made my way through the thorns. It was a pretty good run overall.

One thing about the run that didn't work out was my choice of gel. A little backstory: During this year's Kona Ironman World Championships Gu came up with a new Roctane flavor that (rumor had it) was originally called "Mai Tai" but because of the alcohol connotations was renamed "Island Nectars." During the week of the Kona event Gu had a deal where they'd send you a free pack of 6 Island Nectar gels if you bought something else from their website. I bought some chocolate mint gels to get the free box of Island Nectar. I've eaten two of the new flavor so far and they're just about the worst tasting gel I've ever had. I've read about people raving over the flavor but it was bitter and harsh to me with very faint traces of fruit flavor. I can't imagine eating another one.

Friday 11/26 (6.5mi, 58min, 8:55/mi) Warmer out (low 40s) but I was still overdressed. With my jacket on I was too hot but with it off I was a little cold unless I was running uphill or really pushing the pace. I brought my son in the BOB this time. I bundled him up and ran out past Kopachuck park and then back around the one store loop. I was worried about the boy being cold but with the big jacket and a blanket he was warm enough to fall asleep after he finished his snack. My pace was a little slow with the BOB but it was great to get out for a run.

I just passed 1,300 miles for the year. I don't think I can make my goal of 1500 by the end of the year but I'm pretty happy where I'm sitting now and how my running form has developed over the year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

back on my feet.... slowly

I'm still feeling the last throes of this flu that snuck by my immune system over the last two weeks. I miss running but haven't been very motivated to get out there and push the miles. My stomach is sour presumably from the antibiotics that knocked out the flu. Unfortunately, this affects my appetite and my ability to run fast. I think that I've lost a little bit of fitness after missing so many runs while I was sick. I'll get it back, but not in time to perform well at the Turkey Trot 10K next week. I'll have to look at adding a 10K in Jan/Feb to see about breaking the 40 minute barrier.  The positive aspect of all this is that being sick makes for a great diet and I'm down to 187lbs. I think I can go lighter though.

Friday 11/12: (6.3mi, 51min, 8:03/mi avg) I got outside for a run at lunch and the weather cooperated nicely. I wanted to try the MT101s out again and see if I noticed any difference between them and my other trail shoes in their weight or traction. I ran out to the Bridle Trails and the conditions were a little sloppy. The shoes feel great and their lightness is definitely noticeable after running in my Cascadias. The traction however doesn't seem quite as good as the Brooks shoes. So far I like the 101s with a few small complaints, chief of which are the laces and the narrow toe box. It was a good run but I was being careful not to push the pace very hard and overtax my lungs.

Sunday 11/14: (8.4mi, 1:07, 8:00/mi avg) After a long day out with the family in Seattle I didn't get home until 4:30pm. I was laced up and out the door by 4:45 on my run but without a light as I didn't realize how early it gets dark now. I made it up the tunnel trail in the last of the twilight. I headed out toward the Island View store with the plan of turning around after 30 min. With small shoulders on the local roads, I was  in the habit of stepping completely off of the road when a car would approach. Luckily there weren't many cars on the road and I was wearing a bright blinking Firefly light and a white shirt so there were no close calls. Yielding for traffic did slow me down a bit, mainly after the turn-around. It was pretty dark on the way back so I had to go around on Ray Nash dr. instead of going back down the Tunnel trail. I used the first and last miles as a warmup and cooldown, though probably not as easy as I should have. My lungs and stomach still didn't want to run fast so this didn't end up as a focused workout (ie: LT / Speedwork / Tempo)

Rain is forecast all week, so I'll see what kind of mettle I have when it comes to running in foul weather.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The one about shoes and buffaloes

Well, I was on track to run 1500 miles for the year. I've run all of 4 times since I've last posted. I've been sick with a bad cold / weak flu. I don't get colds often and when I do they never last long, usually 3 - 5 days at most. I'm coming up on 2 weeks now with symptoms that haven't changed: Snotty and scratchy. It's the worst cold that I've had in about 15 years. I remember living in England in 1994 and getting a flu shot (haven't gotten one since) and being sick for 3 weeks before going in to the doctor for antibiotics. With this cold dragging on I'll be picking up those antibiotics tonight on the way home from work.

So my monthly stats for October ended up looking like this:
Runs: 17
Miles: 123.4
Time: 18h 9m
Avg: 8:50/mi
Barefoot miles: 6

That and the 2.5 slow miles I ran on the treadmill at lunch yesterday put me at 1230 miles for the year so far.

I'm still sick so I probably shouldn't have run today but I've been going stir crazy missing all the exercise I've grown used to. The upside of being sick is that I don't have much of an appetite lately so I shouldn't be too shocked when I step on the scale again in the near future.

The other thing that's been gnawing at me since getting sick are the two new pair of shoes that I got for my birthday last month. My sister was feeling quite generous and gave me a substantial gift card that I used to buy two pair of shoes, several books on running and nutrition (nerd!) and a Nathan bladder system.

The shoes I bought are the New Balance MT101 and the Brooks Launch:


I've been following the hype on the newly released MT101 shoes and reading reviews online. I've never cared much for New Balance shoes so I was a little skeptical. I ran in them twice before I got sick and other than rubbing against a rough spot on one of my pinky toes they felt pretty good. They're much less built up and have lower mid-foot and heel cushion than any other shoes I've run in. I can't wait to get out on some proper trails for a longer run to really check them out. They weigh probably half of what my Brooks Cascadias do and it's quite noticeable. I'm hopeful that these will really work well for me.

I just ran in the Launches yesterday at lunch on "The Machine" for a paltry 2.5 miles at 9min pace. They're one level of cushion and support less than the Defyance, the last pair of Brooks road shoes that I've been running in. I've had really good luck with Brooks lately (except as a shoe tester where they have no love for people who wear larger sizes) even if I have to pay for them myself. I tried on the Launch a few months ago at a running store I like in Seattle but wasn't ready to buy them yet. Now that I'm not a heel striker any more I hope that I'll be able to move down to the lighter / less cushioned shoes. The color combination (Cardinal / Orange) is really bright but I kind of like it. The MT101s come in a dark green color scheme that was out of stock to my disappointment.

The Nathan bladder system was something that I bought in reaction to my results at Baker Lake a few weeks ago when I was massively dehydrated and cramping up. The Bladder is on the back of a loose vest and is very popular among ultra runners. It holds 2 liters, so using that along with a bottle or two should work well for me on runs with a long distance between aid stations. I've never liked running with a bladder on my back in the past but I see so many other people with them at races that I hope it's something I can get used to. Bombing a race because of poor hydration is a pretty dumb mistake to make.

So, to sum up: I'm still sick, I miss running dearly, and I've been reading an excellent book lately called "Running With The Buffaloes" by Chris Lear. It's presented as a series of journal entries written by someone following the Univ. of Colorado  Cross Country team over one season. The level of competition and the training that these kids put in is incredible. It might not be a great read for everyone but as a running geek I can't put it down. It just fascinates me and reaffirms my love of running. Let me know if you want to borrow it when I'm done.