Friday, December 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

That pool skimmer might be slowing me down.

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

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

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

busy busy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baby steps

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ouch, that hurts!

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pt. Defiance 50K Race Report

10/7 - 10/14: no running

What started as a scratch in my throat grew into 2 sick days home from work and feeling like crap for the better part of my taper week leading up to the race. I was careful to get more sleep and hydrate as much as I could stand (which probably still wasn't enough) leading up to the race. I didn't decide whether to run the race or not until I got up on Saturday morning. I felt pretty bad Thursday and Friday morning but by the afternoon on both days my cold was subsiding. I woke up Saturday morning (the 15th) feeling stuffy and a little scratchy but not quite as bad as the previous two days. I got dressed, ate some cereal, packed my running bag, said goodbye to my son (the early bird) and drove to Starbucks for coffee.

The drive out to Pt. Defiance from my house is only 20 min, one of the big selling factors in my running the race. I got out to the start/finish area at Owens beach 45min before the race started. There were a few hundred people running in the three different events (15K / 30K / 50K) but most of them hadn't arrived yet so packet pickup and the bathroom lines were minimal. I got changed in the car and relaxed listening to a podcast while I waited for the race to start.

Five minutes before the race started I collected my things (one hand bottle, four gels, some Clif Blocks, and my iPod) and headed to the start line. I jogged for a couple of minutes out along the course to warm up my legs. While I was slowly jogging I accidentally kicked the timing chip on my left foot and snapped both of the tiny zip ties holding it onto my shoe. As I looked around for the timing chip I heard "3 minutes to race start" over the loudspeaker. I found the chip on the ground, grabbed it up and practiced a little bit of speedwork as I ran the 1/10th of a mile back to the check-in table. They got some new zip ties for me and I was able to get the chip reattached to my shoe with my cold clumsy fingers with a minute to spare.

This is the first time I've used this style of timing chip (about 2/3rds the size and 5x the thickness of a business card) and I don't like them. They're too big, and the zip ties that came with them were the smallest flimsiest dainty little bubble-style ties I've ever seen. They were hard to manipulate with cold fingers and way too fragile. If people are cutting them off at the end of the race with wire cutters, why use the tiny fragile bubble-style ties instead of larger / stronger zip ties? After kicking it off before the race I was worried about losing my timing chip the whole run and kept looking down at my foot every mile or so. I remember running several marathons 10 - 15 years ago and the timing chips used back then were about the size of a quarter and required one small (normal) zip tie. They never came loose and worked just fine.

I lined up near the back of the pack for the race start. I figured that all of the 15K and 30K runners would be faster at the start but that wasn't the case. I found that my 9:00/mi easy pace still had me weaving in and out of people and passing several other runners for the first mile or two.

Pt. Defiance isn't a big place and holding a 50KM race on the trails there is quite a stretch. The race director was very creative with the route. The course consisted of three 16.6KM loops that zig-zagged and tangled all around the park. Each loop started with about half a mile of flat running along the water before heading up a big set of stairs and then snaking around the very nice trails that tangle through the park. The trails were almost all soft single track paths with damp bark and leaves under foot. There were a few road crossings every lap as well as a short section of road near the end. One nice thing that the race provided was crossing guards to hold car traffic at every single road crossing. There were a few short hilly sections and one steep 1/4mi climb every lap but it only made for ~1300' of climbing per loop. At the end of each loop there was a steep descent down a hillside with ropes provided to hold onto as you climb down to the shore and back to the start.

As a 50KM runner I had to complete three loops of the course. I wasn't sure if I'd finish all three given my cold so I started out pretty conservatively, running ~9:00/mi and trying to stay light on my feet with good form. I felt like I could have run much faster but I didn't want to wear myself out and pay for it later. The race was planned as a training run for the Ron Herzog 50K so I didn't have a "A" race mentality, especially just getting over a cold. It was tough to hold myself back and I had to keep reminding myself that it was okay to take it easy.

The first lap was pretty crowded with 15K and 30K runners but started to thin out by the 8mi mark. Just before the end of the first lap a group of 5 or 6 runners and I were mis-routed by a pair of volunteers who thought that the 50KM course had a different finish for each lap. It took us about half a mile to figure out that we were going the wrong way and we turned around and went back the right way. I finished the first lap in 1:41.

There were several picnic tables at the start/finish line where they had an aid station set up and runners could put their drop bags. I stopped to refill my bottle, throw away empty gel wrappers and fill my pockets with 4 new gels, some Clif Blocks and take off my base layer, hat, and gloves. I was feeling good after the first lap and set off at the same pace for the second lap. Over the second 10 miles my legs lost a lot of their spring and I could feel the warning signs of cramping starting to creep in. I kept up with my plan of eating something every 15 min (2 gels and 2 Blocks every hour) along with drinking my CarboPro solution. I power-hiked the one steep hill on the second lap but ran the rest of the loop. When I came down the steep descent at then through the timing mats for the finish I heard someone calling my name and looked up to see my wife and kids cheering for me.  I didn't know that they were coming so it was great to see them there and take a minute to chat while I refilled my bottle / pockets before hitting the porta-potty and starting on my final lap.

The third lap was where things started to fall apart. I was still running at about the same pace but I really felt like I was on the knife's edge cramping-wise. I was taking my electrolytes regularly, so I don't know where the cramping was coming from, only that I'd have to be careful not to push too hard and stay on top of my hydration. I began hiking almost all of the uphill sections on the third lap trying to save my legs from cramping. I make it a little bit past the mid-lap aid station before the first of the cramping started causing me to stop and stretch out my hamstrings and calves. Unfortunately it happened just as three other runners were passing me and asked if I was okay as I stepped off of the trail. I told them I was fine and that they should keep going.

The last 5 miles was a combination of walking all of the hills with slower jogging to keep my central governor just under the limit where the cramping came on. I was looking forward to the end of the race and happy when I finally arrived at the steep rope descent which meant that there was only 1/4mi left to the finish line. I made my way down the ropes and out onto the waterside path where I saw my wife and kids waiting about 20 yards in front of the finish line. Both kids ran up and hugged me, probably happy that they could go home soon after waiting so long for me to show up from my third lap. I held the kids' hands and we ran across the finish line together... while no one took pictures of it. Oh well.

I finished in 5:43:02 (46th / 112), which would have been good on it's own but when you look at my lap times, you can see my decline. I ran a 1:41 first lap, a 1:45 second lap (the difference being time I spent at the aid station) and a 2:15 third lap. A steady 1:45 third lap would have moved me up to about 24th place. A sub-6hr finish on the kind of training I've had this fall along with getting over a cold (and the 50 times I blew my nose during the race) isn't too bad at all. It was a great course and an enjoyable way to spend my morning. I'd like to go back next year and try to improve my time.

I hope I can pick up the pace a little bit for my next run on 11/5/11, the Ron Herzog 50K. I don't know anything about the race except how to get there. The race website doesn't give any real information on the course or elevation profile. It'll probably be fairly cold up in Granite Falls by then as well. Tough to predict a result for Ron Herzog. I'll just say that beating my time from Pt. Defiance would be nice.

As an addendum here just over a week since running the Pt. Defiance 50K, my legs feel horrible. My knees are the worst. I have some sore hamstrings but I'm getting knee pain in the sides of my knees that's keeping me from any serious running. I've run a total of 9.8 miles (2 runs) since the race. It looks like I'll be hitting the pool and the gym for a few more days and hoping that my knees calm down before I have to decide whether or not to brave Ron Herzog. I'm not sure what the problem is with my knees, whether they're sore, inflamed, tracking wrong, or if I did some actual damage do them? I really hope it's nothing serious.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A cold... sure, that makes sense.

Mon 10/3 (7.9mi, 1h 9m, 8:45/mi) I took it easy for a slow recovery pace run around the Bridle Trails. My legs felt surprisingly good after Saturday's 22.5 miles. The trails weren't too muddy either. Good deal.

Tue 10/4 (8.35mi, 1h 2m, 7:26/mi) I tried to run a hard tempo pace around the Bridle Trails today but my abs felt like they were on the edge of cramping the whole run. I pushed my body hard but I didn't feel like I was running very fast. Poor hydration the days leading up to the run? A Gingerbread man didn't help my pace in any way.

Wed 10/5 (6.4mi, 53min, 8:19/mi) I took an easy pace out to Viewpoint park for a few loops. I felt okay but slowed down for loops around the park trails. The good news is that the steep uphill section on the park loop doesn't seem as steep as it used to. Adaptation I assume. I'll take it.

Thu 10/6 (6.25mi, 51min, 8:12/mi) Another easy pace run due to a scratchy feeling I'm getting in my throat indicating that a cold is probably on the way. I'll be tapering for another 10 days, so I'm annoyed but not worried. As long as I'm good about getting some rest and staying hydrated I'll be fine for the race on the 15th.

That's it for the week...I did end up coming down with a cold on Thursday night. I'm a little bummed that I'll have to take a few days off of running but it's taper time anyway and as the saying goes, it's better to be a little under-trained than a little over-trained. Pt. Defiance is a tune-up race for the Ron Herzog 50K coming up in November, so no pressure to push myself if I'm not feeling good on race day.

Shoe Geek talk:
I was in downtown Seattle to meet a friend for dinner Wednesday night so I stopped by the flagship REI store to buy some running food (chews, gels, recovery drink, etc...). While I was there I got to geek out on some new shoes. I saw a tweet the other day from @scottjurek saying that the new Brooks Pure line of shoes had been released. They're Brooks' first steps toward a minimalist shoe. I looked at the four shoes in the Pure line and tried on the trail version, the Pure Grit. I ran around the store in them for a couple of minutes and I wasn't impressed. I wasn't disappointed either, they felt taller and bulkier than their advertised 4mm heel - toe drop. Their swept-back streamlined lugs didn't look like they've be very effective. I didn't buy them but I'm sure I"ll try them on again soon and see if I can convince myself to take them home with me. They've got to be better than the Cascadia 6 that I've hardly used.

While we're on the topic of shoes and shoe stores, a new running shoe store just opened next to my favorite coffee shop. The shoe store is called Born To Run. Those who've read Chris MacDougall's book of the same name would be correct in assuming that the store focuses on barefoot / minimalist running shoes. I was in the mood for a cappuccino so I stopped in Born To Run after getting my espresso fix. The store was pretty minimalist itself in the layout and arrangement of shoes, which I liked. I'm sure they'll add more clothes and gear to the store as time goes on but it was only shoes when I was there. Mens on one side, womens on the other.
The woman that I talked to wasn't very knowledgeable about Merrell's upcoming barefoot releases, or New Balance's soon-to-be-released minimalist shoe updates sadly. One thing that the store did have was several shoes from the Inov-8 line of shoes. This is the first store that I've seen selling the shoes. Unfortunately for me, being a British brand most of their shoes only go up to a UK size 12 (13 US). It's a shame because they make some great looking lightweight minimalist shoes for both road and hardcore trails. I imagine that some of their shoes with the really agressive tread (that look like cleats) are born from British Fell running which sends runners through bogs, swamps, and just the nastiest muck that the UK countryside has to offer.

It wasn't a total loss though, I found a pair of the F-Lite 195s in my size which I tried out and liked enough to buy. They're very light and have a good mix of minimalist feel (3mm drop) and a little bit of cushioning, something I've been looking for in a running shoe. They felt good on Thursdays' run but I'm looking forward to putting them on for a few longer runs to see if they'll work out better than the Merrell Trail Gloves which start to hurt my feet if I go more than about 12 miles. I love the trail gloves for shorter runs, but a little cushioning would bump them up from everyday shoes to 50K race shoes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekly update - now with more miles!

Mon 9/26 (7.9mi, 59min, 7:31/mi) With no running on Sunday the legs are somewhat fresh on Monday. I got a good run in around the Bridle Trails in the fresh mud. It rained enough over the weekend that the trails got a bit sloppy. I mentally didn't have the drive to push a hard pace from the start so I settled for a Fartlek run to get a little bit of hard pace work into my legs. I ran easy out to the trails, then pushed hard on the East and West sides of the trail with recovery pacing in the middle. Once I got out of the trails on the way back to work I picked up the pace and finished with a 6:03 mile on trail / sidewalk. Running a full loop in just under an hour was even better than it sounds because of how slippery my Trail Gloves (forgot to wear socks) get when they're soaked and muddy on trails.

Tue 9/27 (7.9mi, 1h 4m, 8:08/mi) One run through the Bridle Trails wasn't enough so I came back for more. I ran the opposite direction than Monday and wore my other pair of Merrell Trail Gloves. I kept a slower pace this time and didn't try any tempo paced running. It felt nice to be able to pick my head up and look around at the beautiful forest instead of watching my steps as I do when I'm running hard. The legs felt good.

Wed 9/28 (4.0mi, 33min, 8:27/mi) Run #1:  Wednesday was another double run day. It's the only way I can manage to kick the mileage up to run 50+ mile weeks. I ran 4 miles on the treadmill at the gym taking it easy at a steady 8:27/mi pace. It's boring but it's a good warmup before hitting the weight room and the Kettle Bells.

Wed 9/28 (13.25mi, 1h 44m, 7:55/mi) Run #2: After work I ran down to the trail that goes along the East side of Lake Sammamish. I didn't time it very well and it was getting pretty dark by the time I got to the turn-around point. The trail along the lake isn't lighted so it was tough seeing where I was running. Luckily it's a very flat smooth dirt/gravel surface. I picked up the pace on the second half of the run, hitting some mile splits in the low 7:00/mi range. Instead of running back up the trail along Hwy 520 I ran up 51st st which is shorter and steeper. I was pretty tired so I practiced some power walking / hiking to recover a little bit. Overall a good run.

Thu 9/29 (6.5mi, 54min, 8:26/mi) I ran out to Grass Lawn Park for 3 miles of barefoot running around the track. It still feels good to get out and run barefoot as long as I don't try to push the pace and it's neither too hot or cold. I expect that I won't be running barefoot at the track much longer with the rainy season approaching.

Fri 9/30 (4.0mi, 34min, 8:29/mi) Another easy 4 miles on the hamster wheel at the gym before lifting weights. It's almost like I'm cross training but I hate to not run while I'm building up to a race.

Sat 10/1 (22.5mi, 3h 29m, 9:17/mi) I got out on Saturday morning for a long run. I started the run with a side-stitch for the first 3 miles as I headed out the Tunnel Trail and around past Kopachuck. I kept to my standard route out to McCormick Park near the women's correctional facility. I ran about 6 miles around the different trails in the park. I started out with a perimeter loop and then followed some arrows marked on the ground that probably indicated a previous race. I normally only run the largest perimeter loop around the park so it was nice to run some of the interior trails that were new to me. The trails at McCormick will be a pretty close match to the trails I'll be running at Pt. Defiance in two weeks. It hasn't rained enough yet to make a mess out of the trails and I hope that the same can be said for Pt. Defiance come race day. After my 6 miles on the trails I headed the same way back home.

My nutrition on the run was pretty good. I drank from my Nathan 2L bladder pack which had 3.5 scoops of CarboPro and a few Nuun tablets in it (100 Kcal/scoop) and I ate two gels and two gummy chews per hour like clockwork. I was trying to drink on pace to finish the 2L in 3 hours but I was falling short. I ended up drinking more based on thirst. With 4 miles to go I stopped at the Island View store and bought a small Gatorade, a small bottle of water, and an ice cream sandwich. I took a break at the store while I ate most of the ice cream sandwich before getting back to the run for the last few miles. I drank the Gatorade and about half of the water. I never felt hungry / full, or bloated / nauseous on the run luckily. I was probably consuming 320 - 350 Kcal/hr for the first 3 hours. If I can eat like this on race day I'll be very happy. I need to work harder on staying ahead of my eating in races.

I didn't run Sunday (but would have liked to get a short very easy run to flush the legs out) and finished the week with 66 miles, a new personal best. This will be my biggest week for this race cycle. The heel pain is easing and I'm learning to ignore the Glute / Piriformis pain (F*!%&^@# the legs!). I finished September with a new monthly best of 211 miles, eclipsing last August's 208 mile benchmark. I'd love to run a 100 mile week some time but I'm pretty far away from the place in life where that kind of thing could come together. Maybe if I sent my wife and kids off on vacation, and house-sat for someone who lived 10 miles from the office...

Next week will be the first week of a mild taper for the Pt. Defiance 50K on 10/15.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

F&!*#@^ your legs! Just F&!*#@^ em!

Mon 9/19 (7.9mi, 55min, 7:02/min) After a mediocre 18 miles on Saturday I took Sunday off as usual and went for a hard Bridle Trails loop Monday. My training plan called for an easy day but I was feeling good after a day off and the weather was warm but slightly cooler than the last few weeks. I pushed the pace from the start and didn't feel like I was really running that well. I was definitely pushing myself and at the point of trying to hang on and keep from slowing down. Running the loop CCW changes the climbs around so that I don't have any for the first half and then have a short hard climb and a short moderate climb just after passing the halfway point. I felt pretty good going up the climbs and found a good piece of motivation from a podcast that I regularly listen to called Marathon Talk.

Each week on Marathon Talk the British hosts have a common set of segments covering what they've been up to, running news, rant/raves and upcoming marathons among other things. One of the regular segments is a comedy bit read by a great English soap actor called Tony Audenshaw. The bit is called "Tony's Trials" and it's a usually Tony talking about things happening in his life that tie into running. This particular podcast had to do with motivation and Tony was explaining to a friend that no matter if you run relatively hard or at your limit, your legs will still hurt afterward. This led to Tony's common refrain / amusing tagline of the segment: "So just F&!*#@^ your legs! Just F&!*#@^ em!" with the profanity beeped out. It was funny but at the same time made me think about my legs. It inspired me to ignore my legs and continue pushing myself. I kept the pace up and kept ignoring my legs to finished with mile splits of 6:34 and 6:06 stopping my watch with a new PR of 55:34. This was 1:45 faster than my best time for a full Bridle Trail loop and almost 4 minutes better than my previous best CCW loop. Breaking 55 min is next on the list if the trails stay dry.

Tue 9/20 (6.8mi, 58min, 8:36/mi) After Monday's beating I headed out to Viewpoint park for the first time in quite a while. I ran 4 loops around the trails. In the middle of the 3rd loop I felt a sharp pain in my right foot near the attachment points of 3rd and 4th toes. It was so bad that I had to stop dead in my tracks and wait a few seconds for the pain to go away. It lasted about 30 seconds and it was very out of place for me (and a tad scary.) My right heel was also hurting, probably from pushing it too hard on Monday in the Trail Gloves. I absolutely love those shoes but they offer just about zero protection against even smaller rocks. I took it easy and trotted back to work.

Thu 9/22 (8.3mi, 1h 9m, 8:19/mi) My heel was still sore so I skipped my run on Wednesday and just went to the gym instead to spend some quality time with the Kettle bells. Thursday I ran a full loop around the Bridle Trails but added a little detour in the middle of the lap to follow the route that the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival follows. I want to run one of the events in the race coming up this January but I don't know which one. The 10 mile was fun last year but doing a 2 or 6 person 50K would be fun as well.

Sat 9/24 (13.5mi, 1h 50m, 8:10/mi) I took Friday as a complete rest day and had a weekend non-long run scheduled for Saturday. I had to finish in under 2 hours so I set off to run a few local hills. I went up the Tunnel trail, out around Ray Nash and then onto Whitmore/78th. I practiced power-walking up the steep side of 70th and then headed down 40th toward Wollochet. From there I looped around 24th to come around the other side of 70th with a quick half loop of the park before heading straight back home with 10 minutes to spare.

This caps off a relatively lighter week of 36.5 miles. I planned to run fewer miles week this week because:

a) It's good to throw in a recovery week once in a while and
b) I was on call for work so I had to be reachable by phone and be relatively close to a computer so couldn't just go for a long run after work.

Mileage will pick back up next week with my last long run (21+ mi) on 10/2 before the Pt Defiance 50K on 10/15.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A big week

9/12 (5.5mi, 36min, 6:33/mi) In my list of standard routes that I track my PRs on is the "Redmond Streets Loop" that I haven't run in almost a year. I only had one entry in my PR list for running it CCW so I gave it a try. I came in at 36:04 which beat the previous PR by 12 seconds but I feel like I could beat it by another minute on a good day. I think it was the first time running this route where all of my splits started with a "6". I was impressed by this given the mile+ hill early in the route.

9/13 (3mi, 23min, 7:54/mi) Run #1: I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at lunch before lifting weights. 2.5 of them were in my socks before one of the employees came over and told me that I had to put my shoes on for safety reasons. He said that there was a risk that the treadmill could grab my socks and pull me down. It'll never happen but I stopped and put my shoes back on for the last half mile rather than argue.

9/13 (15.3mi, 1h 59m, 7:48/mi) Run #2: I didn't get my long run in last weekend so I made it up on a Tuesday. I ran down to Redmond from work and East through Marymoor park over to the East Lake Sammamish trail. I'd never been on this trail and had no trouble finding it. I did have to climb over/around a couple of construction fences to get there however. I ran South on a trail that goes between the road and the lakefront houses until I hit the 7.75mi point. I turned around and came back at a slightly higher pace. I felt pretty good and kept up with my nutrition. Somehow I made one 22oz bottle of water last the entire run.

9/14 (6.4mi, 55min, 8:35/mi) I ran an easy run around part of the Bridle Trails. My right heel was a little sore. I guess my Merrell Trail Glove shoes (which I just love) aren't quite padded enough for 15+ miles on hard dirt and pavement. Either that or my feet still haven't toughened up after 500 miles in those shoes.

9/15 (6.5mi, 55min, 8:33/mi) I took it easy and went down to Grass Lawn Park for nearly 4 miles of barefoot running around the track. It would have been a little more enjoyable if it weren't peak soccer season with 3 separate kids practices happening at the same time on the small field. Kids were spilling out onto the track at regular intervals. Add to this a group of adults (who sounded either Russian or Serbian) waiting to use the field who decided to stand around on the track while they warmed up causing me to have to weave around/through them for about 15 laps. Ugh.

9/16 (3mi, 26min, 8:40/mi) One more day of easy treadmill running at the gym before hitting the Kettlebells and other misc. weights.

9/17 (18.1mi, 2h 25m, 8:35/mi) I managed to get my long run on the proper day this week. I ran in the morning just as the rain was easing up. I did a few loops around different parts of Gig Harbor before heading with 18 in the bag. I didn't feel particularly good on the run despite nailing my nutrition and hydration. I fueled with 400 Kcal of CarboPro in my Nathan's Bladder along with taking a gel every 30 min. I'm not that happy with the pace but given how I felt in the morning and the mild stress that comes with doing long runs leading up to an event, I shouldn't be disappointed.

Also, I'm just shy of 58 miles for the week, which I realized is my highest (non racing) weekly mileage total ever. I thought I'd done at least 60 in the past, but not according to my spreadsheet. My highest ever was the week of the Helen Klein 50 mile race back in 2002. I managed 65.5 miles that week including finishing the race.

The calm before the storm

9/6 (7.9mi, 58min, 7:22/mi) I headed out for a full loop of the Bridle Trails as fast as I could. I would have beat my PR, but instead I fell just over a minute short due to yet another Gingerbread man. I didn't stop my watch during the break so I'll still count the time as my 2nd fastest. I felt good and picked the hard pace right back up after my urgent pit stop.

9/7 (6mi, 44min, 7:27/mi) Run #1: At lunch I ran on the treadmill at the gym before lifting weights. I started with an 8:00/mi pace and sped up 0.1mph every half mile and then really picked it up the last half mile. Not too bad for a treadmill run.

9/7 (12.0mi, 1h 30m, 7:32/mi) Run #2: After work I headed down to the Sammamish River Trail. I ran the first half at just under 8:00/mi pace before turning around at the 6 mile mark and heading back with mile splits in the low 7's and even one in the 6's. Felt good.

9/8 (6.45mi, 59min, 9:07/mi)
An easy run in the bridle trails on tired legs after the previous day's 18 mile total.

9/9 (5mi, 39min, 7:49/mi) I ran on the treadmill with socks on (no shoes) before lifting weights. It felt pretty good as long as I kept the incline on the treadmill at 1.0% or higher.

9/11 (5.6mi, 51min, 9:10/mi) I ran easy after getting the kids to bed. I didn't feel very good at the start but felt better as the run went on. Easy Sunday night run before starting a big week of running.

Picking up the totals and a disappointing kids race

8/29 (7.9mi, 57min, 7:12/mi) After recovering over the weekend with a big fat 0 miles I attacked the Bridle Trails, running just under 57 min for a full loop. This would have been a PR for me except that I had to stop twice for the Gingerbread Man and stopped my watch each time. Other than that it was a great run.

8/30 (4mi, 31min, 7:42/mi) I went to the gym at lunch for some Kettlebell swinging and plyometrics. I managed a 4mi run on the dreadmill as a warmup. Nothing special.

8/31 (7.9mi, 59min, 7:32/mi) I went for another hard run around the Bridle Trails but my legs just didn't have any pop after my session in the gym on Tuesday. Great weather and great mindset made for a very enjoyable run.

9/1 (5.0mi, 39min, 7:46/mi) Run #1: 5 easy miles on the treadmill before hitting the weight room.

9/1 (10.2mi, 1h 18m, 7:41/mi) Run #2: After work I ran a long loop around the local Redmond/Kirkland area with a couple of decent hills. I wound around the West and South perimeters of the Bridle Trails as well. I thought that I was going to bonk at some point on the run due to my efforts at lunch but I never did. I felt surprisingly good the entire run.

9/2 (6.4mi, 55min, 8:40/mi) It had been a while since I'd last done some barefoot running so I headed down to Grass Lawn Park for 3.5 miles around the track sans shoes. It felt pretty good to take a relatively slow pace.

9/3 (0.25mi, 3min, 12:00/mi) I headed over to Uptown Gig Harbor for a kids race with my daughter. Unfortunately the race was poorly organized. Despite having 3 age categories for the kids dash, the kids in the 2-4 and 5-7 groups only ran a tenth of a mile. My daughter wanted to run the longer route with the 8-10 year olds which turned out to be a paltry quarter mile. We finished dead last but the kids did have 3.5 - 5.5 years on her despite the fact that she was just as tall as the 8-10 year old girls and even a couple of the boys. The upside was that there was plenty of cheering, a bouncy castle, face painting, and balloon animals. Next year we'll have to pass on the kids race and just run the 2 mile walk or the 5KM event. She was disappointed that the race was so short.

9/4 (8.4mi, 1h 7m, 8:04/mi) The family was heading over to my wife's cousin's beach house on Fox Island so I took off 25 min ahead of them on foot and met them there. It was a nice run despite the heat and the two long hills on the way over. It felt great to be out running on such a nice day. As soon as I arrived I took off my shoes, shirt and watch and jumped into the very cold water of the Puget Sound. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying good food, family, and playing in / on the water with the kids. The paddle boat was in near-constant use.

I managed a 50 mile week for the first time in about a year. I feel pretty good. My Piriformis pain is slowly calming down (but far from gone) due to the exercises that I got from my PT which focus on strengthening my hips and pelvic floor muscles.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Double double week.

8/23 (6.0mi, 40min, 6:46/min) Run #1: I ran on the treadmill at lunch, something I really didn't want to do. My company has a policy about the heavily subsidized gym membership to the really fancy gym near work. To keep the membership active, you have to go at least 4 times per month. I'm a little short on visits for August so I stopped by for a run and a little bit of free weights. The < 7:00/mi pace is deceiving, I started out at 8:00/mi with a 2.5% incline. Every half mile I lowered the incline 0.5% and raised the speed a little. For the last half mile I was running a 5:52/mi pace at a -3.0% incline. The lower the incline, the easier it is to run at a faster pace. My 5:52 was probably equivalent to a 6:30/mi pace on flat ground.

Run #2: (4.5mi, 42min, 9:20/mi) After I put the kids to bed I went out and ran the One Store Loop with my head light after dark. I didn't time the run and took it really easy. It was a wonderfully peaceful time to run with a great view of the sky full of stars. Running up the Tunnel trail was pretty much pitch black and I only thought about bears during the first half. I'm glad that I know the trail well enough that I can run it well at night.

8/24 (6.3mi, 56min, 9:00/mi) My legs were tired after my double yesterday so I kept an easy pace running around the Bridle Trails. I just tried to pick some of the less-used trails and have fun at a comfortable pace.

8/25 (4.0mi, 31min, 7:51/mi) Run #1: Another double run day which started with a treadmill run at the fancy gym followed by weights.

Run #2: (7.9mi, 1h 1m, 7:46/mi) After work I ran a full loop of the Bridle Trails CCW. I tried to run a sub-1hr time but my legs weren't feeling good enough. I just didn't have the energy to go any faster. It was good to get out for a run while it still feels like summer. I just love running shirtless.

8/26 (7.35mi, 1h 2m, 8:29/mi) I ran the long way out to Grass Lawn Park for 3mi of barefoot running on the track. Actually it was on the narrow cement strip between the track and the artificial turf which were both too hot for my feet. Almost 18 months later and I'm still enjoying the barefoot running.

Montazuma's rebound

When I last left off, I was just starting to feel the effects of food poisoning. It lasted about 36 hours. I felt mostly better by Monday the 15th but still didn't feel like running yet.

8/16 (7.9mi, 57min, 7:14/mi) Back from the dead and right into a hard tempo run at lunch. I pushed a hard pace around a full loop of the Bridle Trails. It's great running out there in the summer when it's warm and the ground isn't muddy. The only downside is that the horse people are out in force. I had to stop three times to let horses pass. One of the times I came around a bend in the trail and startled myself and the horse. I also tried to catch another runner who passed me on the trail but I couldn't! He just pulled away effortlessly. Minutes later we were both waiting for another horse to pass and I got out ahead of him. I decided to pick up the pace and see if I could hold him off. It turned out I couldn't. He ran me down in about a quarter of a mile and kept going smoothly right past me and my sluggish 6:15/mi pace. Impressive.

8/17 (6.45mi, 58mi, 8:58/mi) After a hard effort Tuesday I took it easy (129 avg HR) just noodling around the Bridle Trails. My legs were dead and my stomach still felt bloated and gassy from the food poisoning episode. It was one of those days where I was just glad to get the miles in.

8/18 (9.0mi, 1h 16m, 8:26/mi) I was on call for work so I couldn't get out for a long run after work. Instead I did two easy runs on the treadmill at work with some weight machine sets between. As much as I dislike the treadmills I was able to keep my phone near me and if I did get called I had my computer in the locker room. Luckily I wasn't called. I felt a little better than the prior day but my calves were still dead.

8/20 (8.5mi, 1h 45m, 12:24/mi) The family and I headed to Salt Spring Island, BC for a long weekend which involved two ferries and about 3 hours of driving so I missed running on Friday. On Saturday the family went to Ruckle Park on the island. They all went for a hike while I set off for a run on my own. The trails at the park were very technical, narrow, and rocky. I started out on the SE edge of the island and then headed North along the coast before the trail headed inland. I caught my feet on rocks and nearly fell probably 5 times during the run. It was fairly hilly as well but my legs felt good after a day off so I didn't have to stop and walk any of the hills. I made a few wrong turns during the run but I had memorized enough of the park map to find my way back to the right trails.

The only part of the run that almost turned into a problem was near the end when the trail bordered a working farm. I came around a bend and stopped in my tracks when I saw a large steer with a sharp pair of horns that were about as wide as my outstretched arms. He was standing in the middle of the trail grazing. We looked at each other and he went back to grazing. I had open field (his field) to the left of the trail and dense forest to the right. I could have tried to find a path through the brush and trees to get around him and pick up the trial later but decided not to. Instead I grabbed a hand-full of small rocks and began skipping them along the ground at his feet. He seemed a little confused at the source of the noise and after about a dozen rocks came his way he slowly wandered down into his field. I never actually hit him with any of the rocks either, so win-win. I began running again but only for a few seconds before seeing two more large steers with long pointy horns standing just past where my trail turned off to the right. My plan was to jog along the trail which went up a short hill and if the steers started moving toward me I'd sprint up the trail and try to out-run them. Luckily  they showed little interest in me and left me alone. Aside from all that, the run went well.

8/21 (10.1mi, 1h 18m, 7:43/mi) I had time for a run on Sunday on the island so I just started from the place we were staying (Salt Spring Spa along the NE perimeter) and followed the road SE for 5 somewhat hilly miles before turning around and heading back. I started with 8+ min miles on the way out and picked up the pace to the high-6 min range on the way back. It was a great run except that I forgot to tape up my pinky toes and got a large blister on one of them. Sadly this happens when I run longer than 5mi in my New Balance MT101s. New Balance announced that the next model (MT110) will have a wider toe box. Being a running shoe geek, this excites me quite a bit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Running and a little bit of riding before salad strikes back.

8/1 (6.7mi, 56.5 min, 8:30/mi) Another lunch run at the Bridle Trails. I felt pretty good after riding the long way in to work and before riding the short way home. I wasn't paying full attention to my footing and took another digger on the trails. No damage luckily, just dirty. I wore my heart rate monitor chest strap and found that my average HR for the run was only 136. That seems low to me based on the last set of %HR numbers I calculated. Maybe it's time to test them out again.

8/2 (6.9mi, 58.5 min, 8:28/mi) I ran hill repeats up the hill next to Hwy 520. It's about a mile long so I ran down and back up 3x. I  ran backwards for 1/10th of a mile in the middle flat section of each repeat. As it happened a podcast I was listening to had an interview with a pro triathlete who mentioned that he incorporated some backwards running into his training so I thought I'd try it out. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary from / after it. It's supposed to be good for your quads and your form. I should try to get a little bit in 2 - 3 times a week and see if I notice anything.

8/4 (8mi, 59min, 7:25/mi) I ran the full Bridle Trails loop at lunch. I had some gas and stomach bloat but felt relatively okay otherwise.

8/5 (6.1mi, 54min, 8:52/mi) I ran out to Grass Lawn Park for a little over 3 miles of barefoot running. The track there is a little rough for a rubber track so I tried to run on the grass and cement border where I could.

8/7  (2.3mi, 30min, 13:00/mi) I went for a slow out-and-back run with my daughter around the neighborhood. She burned through her energy in the first mile and we jog-walked the next half mile and walked most of the way back home. I'm happy that she wants to go for a run with me now and then.

8/8 (6.4mi, 51.5min, 8:03/mi) I took an easy run after work around the East half of the Bridle Trails, It felt pretty good.

8/9 (7.9mi, 1h, 7:37/mi) I ran around the Bridle Trails at lunch and kept almost a tempo pace. I just missed breaking an hour (by 14 seconds!). My legs were pretty tired.

8/10 (2mi, 16min, 8:10/mi) Two moderate miles on the treadmill before lifting weights. Rode my bike to work and back the long way (44mi R/T)

8/11 (6mi, 51min, 8:30/mi) An easy run in the Bridle trails after riding in to work the long way. My legs were pretty tired from the cycling and not drinking enough water during the day didn't help matters.

I was planning to run on Friday the 12th but left work before noon feeling awful. It turned out that I'd picked up a case of food poisoning that kept me down for the next 48 hours. Ugh.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Still falling behind on the blogging

Mon 7/18, 6.2mi, 42:13. I had a PT appointment on Tuesday 7/19 for my Piriformis issue so I wanted it to be nice and sore when I got there. I ran the standard "work loop" CCW and pushed the pace. I don't feel that I'm in top form but comparing this to previous times, it's pretty good. 6:48/mi avg.

Tue 7/19, 6.2mi, 41:51. The PT appointment wasn't until after work so why not just drive that soreness home with another hard tempo run. I ran the same route as Monday but in the opposite (CW) direction. I thought I'd be worn out from Monday's tempo but I managed to run it 22 seconds faster. It's possible the CW is faster though not historically the case. My 6:45/mi avg was the 3rd fastest average pace I've run for this route since I started running it a few years ago.

The PT appt. went okay. The guy is just a regular PT, not a sports medicine PT or someone with experience dealing with endurance athletes. I hope to get something good out of it no less. So far I have a couple of feet of surgical tubing and a sheet of exercises to do while concentrating on contracting my Pelvic Floor muscles with a goal of learning to engage them while running.

Wed 7/20, 2mi, 17min. Just an easy 2 mile warmup on the treadmill before lifting weights.

Wed 7/20, 7.9mi, 1h 7m. I ran a slow steady run around the Bridle Trails after work. My legs were sore from the two tempo runs so I kept an easy pace.

Thu 7/21, 5.8mi, 50min? I ran out to Grass Lawn Park to run 3 barefoot miles. The battery on my watch died early into the run so I don't know the time for sure or what kind of pace the BF miles were run at. Sometimes it's good to unplug.

Sat 7/23, 5.5mi, 46min. It was sunny and warm out (rare this summer) so I went for a run with shorts, shoes and sunglasses. I soaked up the Vitamin D and enjoyed being outdoors.

Mon 7/25 8.35mi, 1h 2m. I didn't think I'd get a chance to run on Tuesday so I took on the Work Hour Loop (148th -> Old Redmond rd -> Powerline trail -> Bridle Trails -> 132nd -> 24th -> 148th). Again the watch died early on so I'd estimate that I wasn't quite able to break an hour. Hard run for me.

Tue 7/26 6.1mi, 50min?. A good friend (Chris) and his family were visiting. I used to train for and run marathons with Chris and then he got me into road cycling and endurance events. Predictably he wanted to go for a run after the kids went to bed. We got some flashlights and went for a run just after sundown. We ran the One Store Loop but popped out to Kopachuck State Park and back in the middle. It was great to run with him again. We had great conversation the whole time at a faster than expected pace. He said that it was only his 3rd run of the year (he's ridden 4000+ road miles though) yet he's in really good shape so we were holding a good pace. It caught me by surprise as I was just expecting a casual pace. He even wanted to test our power running up the final climb on the route. Overall a great visit and great run. I hope that I can take him on a few more runs next time he comes to visit. He probably feels the same way when I visit him in CA and borrow his road bike.

Wed 7/27, 7.95, 58:44. I ran a full loop of the Bridle Trails after work on Wed. I was still a little tired from Tuesday's run so my attempt at a fast loop didn't go as well as I'd hoped. I was still "on the rivet" the whole time but I thought I'd be able to finish about 3-4 min. faster. It felt good to see <8 min left with a mile to go and know that I could break an hour.

Thu 7/28, 2mi, 17min. I ran a couple of miles on the treadmill at the gym before lifting weights. I picked a random program (pace and elevation) and after a mile started to bonk really badly. I'm not sure what happened but I was having trouble holding a 7:00/mi pace. As soon as I hit 2 miles (of a planned 3) I stopped, ate a gel, chugged some water and headed down to the weight room where I recovered as I lifted weights. No idea what happened there.

Friday 7/29 8mi, 1h 4min. I ran another full loop of the Bridle trails. I started off strong with high hopes on a fast time but my stomach started to rebel about 3 miles into the run. I got confirmation that I wouldn't finish in under an hour in the form of two gingerbread man stops. I still pushed the pace the best I could but my heart and stomach just weren't in it.

That was all I managed to run for July. My stats for the month were:

Runs: 21
Miles: 122.5
Time:  16h 12m
Avg Pace: 7:56/mi

I'm on pace to break 1500 miles for the year if I can keep my momentum through the fall. I hope that I can find time to train for another 50K race later this year as well. My Piriformis issue is still bothering me a little bit but it's a little less painful these days. I've been doing the exercises recommended by the Physical Therapist and I think that they've been helping.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Easy weeks, not much to write about

Here's a quick summary of the first two weeks of running in July. I'm spending more time than I should be writing a glorified training log that only I read I'd bet.

Wed 7/6: 7mi, 58min. Came back from a few illness-caused days off to run 7mi at the Bridle trails.

Thu 7/7: 8mi, 59min. I felt a little better so I put a decent effort into a full Bridle Trails loop at lunch.

Fri 7/8: 4mi, 28min. A warmup run before lifting weights. Two quick miles (6:20/mi, then recovery, then 1/2mi @ 5:20/mi, then cool down)

Sat/Sun: lazy / busy / didn't run

Mon 7/11: 6.2mi, 43min. Faster tempo run out to Viewpoint park for 2 laps then back via 520 trail.

Tue 7/12: 6.6mi, 55min. Ran out toward BT then down to Grass Lawn park for 2 mi. barefoot on the track.

Wed 7/13: 3mi, 22min. Treadmill at the gym before lifting. W/U, 5x400 @ 87sec w/ 400 recovery between.

Thu 7/14: 6.4mi, 56min. Easy recovery run out to the Bridle Trails.

Fri 7/15: 3.1mi, 20:58. Treadmill at the gym before weights. Started at 8:30/mi, worked my way down to 5:00/mi. Started the incline at +2.5%, dropped to -3.0% as speed increased.

Sun 7/17: 9.2mi, 1h 27m. Ran with the boy in the BOB jog stroller while he napped. Went farther than I'd planned or expected. Felt really good.

My weekly totals were 19mi and 25mi. Not much to write about really.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monday 6/27 (5.9mi, 48min, 8:15/mi) I took an easy run toward the Bridle Trails and then I headed down to Grass Lawn park to run about a mile and a half barefoot on the artificial turf of the baseball field. I wish I had time for more but I don't have that kind of schedule. I'd welcome a corporate change to a two hour lunch break.

Tuesday 6/28 (3.2mi, 25min, 8:00/mi) I was planning to ride my bike to work a couple of days this week so I needed to "run" an errand at lunch and head down to a local bike shop.

** Bike shop rant **
Unfortunately it was a Performance Bikes store with very poor selection. It seems like every time I go into Performance I see less brand diversity and more of their house brand "Forte" junk. Forte gear isn't much less expensive but I perceive it to be of far lower quality than the companies that specialize in what ever piece of gear that Forte is copying. In my case I needed a couple of road tubes and I prefer tubes with the superior threadless valve stems which Performance didn't carry because A) Forte doesn't make them, and B) the store only carried Forte and one other brand of road tube. Thanks guys, I don't feel so bad about buying gear online if I'm putting your store out of business. Sadly buying online will probably affect the smaller one-off stores like the superstars at Branford Bicycles (who rebuilt my Campagnolo shifter two years ago) more than a big chain like Performance. It's probably no surprise that I'm a total gear head when it comes to cycling with strong opinions on what I ride.

So back to Tuesday... I ran out to the Performance bike shop in Redmond, bought a lock and some tubes then came back to work to lift weights for a few minutes to eat up the rest of my lunch break.

Wednesday 6/29 (2.0mi, 17.5min, 8:45/mi) I rode my bike to the train station, took the train for a bit, and then rode the rest of the way to work. It's been a little over 2 years since I've ridden my bike and it came back to me quickly but I've predictably lost quite a bit of bike fitness, especially when it comes to hill climbing. Other than that I ran 2 miles at the gym before lifting weights and taking the bus and a much shorter bike ride home.

Thursday 6/30 (6.65mi, 51min, 7:44/mi) I was a little sore from the ride in to work yesterday (especially the muscles that were contact points with the saddle) so I started out a little slow on my run out to the Bridle Trails. I picked up the pace as the run went on and felt pretty good overall.

Friday 7/1 (3.0mi, 24min, 7:56/mi) I rode in to work from North Seattle. I took a route that went north over and around Lake Washington and ended up being 22.5 miles each way. I kept a pretty high pace (for me) on the way in and was a little bit slowed down by the wind and the hills on the way home. At lunch I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and lifted weights. I started the treadmill at just over a 9:00/mi pace and increased it a few seconds/mi every quarter mile. I ran the last quarter at a 5:40/mi pace, just barely hanging on.

Not much running for the week but adding 85mi on the bike was a nice change. I started feeling sick on Saturday afternoon and didn't run from Sat through the following Tuesday.

I finished up June with 138 miles on 25 runs in 19h 2min for an 8:15/mi average pace. It was my best month so far this year but pretty low for a summer month. I hope to pick it up in July. I'm sitting at 734mi at the end of the first half of 2011. I'd like to hit 1500 for the year so I'm hoping to pick it up the rest of the summer and have a couple of big months.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thanks for the run Marshall.

Tuesday 6/21 (10.45mi, 1h 18m, 7:29/mi) I skipped my lunchtime run in favor of running a little longer after work. I started the run at 6pm headed down to Old Redmond Rd. I kept a nice 7:00/mi pace running up Old Redmond (a steady 5% - 6% grade for a mile and a half) and then kept pace while cutting across the power line trail to pick up the Bridle Trails and ran a CCW loop of the park. I felt pretty good in my Trail Gloves and no socks. The feedback from my feet while wearing such minimal shoes is great. I grabbed some water at the main stables on my way around and then tried to keep a good pace around the south and east perimeters but I was losing steam.

I started to feel a familiar pain in my feet that I thought could be blisters forming. I finished the full loop and then cut back out to the street and turned East to pick up the corridor trail back to 148th ave and to work. The foot pain never let up and at the end of the run I found 3 new blisters on the bottom of various toes. Luckily two of them were tiny enough that I could just leave them alone and let my feet absorb them while the third needed to be drained. Good run but I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to wear socks with my yellow pair of Trail Gloves from now on as the foot bed is wearing out.

Wednesday 6/22 (2.0, 17min, 8:52/mi) Just two slow miles on the treadmill before lifting weights. My Piriformis was really sore from Monday's hard trail miles. I haven't conquered the Piriformis problems quite yet but I did find a few exercises like this one that were able to ease the Sciatica pain that was also plaguing me after every fast / hard run. Progress.

Thursday 6/23 run #1 (5.5mi, 43min, 7:55/mi) I ran the Redmond Streets route CW at lunch but I took it easy as I was planning to get in a second run after work in Seattle. I figured that this would help make up for missing Monday's run.

Thursday 6/23 run #2 (5.0mi, 45min, 9:00/mi) I didn't bring my watch so I'm estimating the time and distance. This was another running celebrity in-store appearance at Fleet Feet in Seattle. Just as they had Scott Jurek do an in-store meet -n- run last year, Thursday evening they hosted another legend in the sport. This time it was Marshall Ulrich sharing his time and promoting his new book.

A few of Marshall's accomplishments:

  • 15 time Badwater 146mi. Ultramarathon finisher (meaning he goes past the 135mi. official finish line at Whitney Portal and on to summit of Mt. Whitney every year as the race used to be run)
  • 4 time Badwater winner
  • Masters and 50+ record holder for running across the US (3000+ miles) with a time of 52.5 days
  • Only person to complete a quad-Badwater crossing (Badwater to Whitney summit and back TWICE! non-stop)
  • Climbed the 7 summits of the world (Aconcagua, Carstensz, Denali, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, and of course Everest)
  • Much more than I haven't even read about in his book yet

So Marshall is kind of a big name in ultrarunning. Traffic was terrible upon leaving work going across the lake on the way over to the store. When I got there, I only had a few minutes to spare. Parking was terrible and I had to run a few blocks to the store. Other people were just leaving when I arrived so I quickly filled my hand bottle and headed out the door last. I was only a few feet behind the back of the pack which consisted of... Marshall Ulrich and a friend of his who had also completed a run across America. There wasn't anyone else running with Marshall. None of the 20 or so people who showed up to hear him talk wanted to run with him. Who would pass that up? Not me, so I just hung back with Marshall.

I'm not much for words, especially when I'm around someone whose accomplishments I respect so I was racking my brain to come up with good questions to ask Marshall. He didn't seem like an extrovert either so we ran much of the route just making idle chatter with his friend. I didn't want to ask him a bunch of questions that he was going to talk about in his presentation after the run or ask stupid questions. It was easier to just listen and talk about where he lived, and old time wheelbarrow ultra marathons from the 1800s.

After the run Marshall and Fleet Feet provided snacks (nice touch) and then he gave a slide show presentation covering his history, accomplishments, and the details of his trans-America run. He had many interesting and funny anecdotes about his trip followed by Q&A after the talk.

A few of the interesting answers he gave:

A) Including the film crew, Marshall's crew, food, supplies, etc... it cost around $600,000 for his run across America. He had some very nice sponsors.

B) He had no nutrition / electrolyte issues during his 52 day run. At some point in the run he was stopping every mile to eat a little bit of food to keep his calorie intake steady. He said he was eating about 9,000 calories a day.

C) Marshall wasn't able to run as many miles a day as he had initially planned due to stress on his body, injury, and not knowing what to expect. In the last few weeks, his film crew was asking him if he could bump up the mileage because they were going over-budget. Marshall laughed about the absurdity of the question but in the end he managed to wind up running the final miles through Time Square in Manhattan just after dark on November 4th 2008. Yep, the day Obama was elected. He couldn't have timed it better and the film crew got way more than they bargained for in terms of footage and crowd energy.

After Q&A I bought a copy of his book that he signed for me with a nice personal message, I asked a couple of questions and then I went on my way. Another great in-store event for Fleet Feet Seattle.

Friday 6/24 (5.5mi, 44min, 8:04/mi) I ran the Redmond Streets course again, CCW this time. I was in no hurry at all so I took it pretty easy. My Piriformis was feeling better after 3 easy runs in a row now.

Saturday 6/25 (10.7mi, 1h 35m, 8:54/mi) Another rare weekend run. This time my wife took my daughter out for a haircut and some shopping so it was just me and the boy. I got myself and the jog stroller ready just before his naptime and took him out for a rolling nap. He drank a bottle of milk and was sawing logs 7 min. into the run. Sadly he only slept for 45 min, half of what he normally would. I'd say taking him out for a run is a reasonable price to pay once in a while. After he woke up he was pretty mellow and snacks, juice and the scenery kept him occupied for most of the run. He started fussing three miles from home and I had to talk him down and pick up the pace. It became a game of "Do you see that truck?", "Is that a crow?", "Can you smell the yellow flowers?", etc... until he calmed down for the last mile. It was a nice run around Gig Harbor on a great day and I was happy / lucky to get it in.

I managed 39 miles this week. Not bad considering that I'm not training for anything right now. I hope I can pick up some extra mileage over the summer like I did last year. I don't know if I'll be able to break 200 miles in a month (which is what Tony Krupicka runs during his biggest training weeks mind you) like I did last July but I'll try.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kind of getting back into the swing of things

Mon 6/13 (6.4mi, 48min, 7:29/mi) A cloudy and windy day gave way to good temperatures (low 60s) so I headed out to the Bridle Trails for a simple loop. I didn't feel very good, but I was glad to get a run in.

Wed 6/15 (6.8mi, 56min, 8:21/mi) I lifted weights on Tuesday and gave my legs a break apart from doing 3 x 60 calf raises. Wednesday I ran out to Viewpoint Park for 3 loops at an easy pace and then I came back along the bike path that follows Hwy 520 instead of 148th ave. It was a much better choice but it did add a 1/2 mile onto my run. Smooth, low traffic, no stop lights.

Thu 6/16 (6.75mi, 55min, 8:11/mi) I didn't get a chance to run at work so I went for a run at home after the kids went to bed. I ran the One Store Loop but made a detour out past Kopachuck and down the hill. I turned around at the bottom of the hill and came back up and finished the loop. I tried out the black Trail Gloves with much better results than last time and no pain in the toe joints on my left foot.

Fri 6/17 (6.45mi, 52min, 8:03/mi) The weather was nice again (sunny and mid 60s) so I ran a half-loop of the Bridle Trails. It was warm enough that I stashed my shirt at the start of the run and picked it up again on the way back. Well, actually I ran a bit past it and had to turn around and go back for it. I love the simplicity of running with just a pair of shoes and a pair of running shorts.

Sat 6/18 (10.5mi, 1h 38m, 9:23/mi) Fathers Day came a day early. My present this year was a couple of hours to go out for a run. I haven't been running much on weekends lately and of course I miss it so I took advantage of my family's generosity and drove out to McCormack Park (next to the women's prison) and ran 5 loops of the park plus a few wrong turns and an out-and-back at the end to make up 10.5 miles of beautiful technical trail running. My pace was slower than usual due to the technical nature of the route and the steep section of climbing at the end of each 1.8mi loop. It's a hard loop to run fast and the last half mile consists of a slippery descent (still muddy in mid-June!), two small stream crossings and then a very narrow foot path (Trail "U" for the locals) carved into the hillside that requires careful footing with all of it's exposed roots and washed away sections. There's no taking your eyes off the path here. Overall a great run that left me very tired and happy.

Going back over this week now I see that there is very little complaining about the Piriformis. More on that next week.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bruised barefoot Ego and Race weekend

6/6 (8.0mi, 1h 8m, 8:30/mi) I ran twice on Monday, once at lunch around the Bridle Trails and then on the Treadmill after work. I'm estimating the lunch-time run distance based on prior runs as I left my Garmin watch at home. After work I had to stay a little bit late so I headed down to the basement gym to run on the treadmill and made it about 2 miles before getting called by work to fix something. So much for that.

6/7 (5.6mi, 45min, 8:02/mi) I was too busy at work to go for a run at lunch so I ran after work around home. I did the One Store loop plus a small detour up to Kopachuck and back. I wore my new Merrell Trail Gloves and was loving them until my left big toe started hurting half way through the run. The pain felt like it was being caused by the seam of the shoe pushing the base of my big toe. I stopped probably 4 times over the next mile to adjust and re-tie the shoe but nothing seemed to help. The joint was sore the rest of the day. I hope it's not the shoes.

6/8 (5.1mi, 39.5min, 7:44/mi) I ran down the hill next to Hwy 520 that goes into downtown Redmond. The plan was a short hill repeats workout. I jogged to the bottom of the hill and then alternated running up the hill for 1/4mi at a hard effort (5K equivalent) and then jogging easy back down for 1/10th of a mile of recovery. I kept it up until I got back to the top of the hill. It took 7 repeats to get back up. I cooled down with an easy jog around the block and back to work. It felt pretty good and I was holding 7:00 - 7:15 pace for the uphill repeats.

6/9 (5.6mi, 38min, 6:50/mi) I ran down to Grass Lawn park and took off my shoes for some barefoot running around the track. It's been a while since I've actually run barefoot. Now that I have the zero-drop Trail Gloves I haven't been bothering with barefoot running but I think I should get back into it now and then if I can be smart about it. I ran 2.7mi on the track at an increasing pace. My ego got the best of me and for the last mile on the track I tried to run a sub-6 min. mile. I was on a pretty good pace and only slowed down a little bit when my big toe and the side of my right foot started hurting. It wasn't that painful so I ran through it and finished the mile in 5:56 which was good, but as soon as I looked at my feet I saw that my efforts had earned me two quarter-sized blisters. On top of that joy was feeling the blisters as I ran back to the gym with my shoes on. My overall pace was pretty good for this run which surprised me. Not recognizing the blisters and shutting down was just stupid.

6/11 (1.2mi, 15min, 12.30/mi)  Sound to Narrows 2K race, run with my daughter. She's still interested in doing races and wants to run them when I ask, so I keep looking for short races for us to do together. I hope that it's something that she looks back on fondly in the future and that the idea of running won't seem so foreign when she's older. We left the house a little later than we should have to drive to the race in Tacoma. I knew where it was but as we were approaching we found the streets blocked. I quickly re-routed in search of another way to get close to the park where the race was being held. My efforts were in vain as all the streets near the park were closed and there was no street parking. I didn't know that the race was so popular. Using Google Maps on my phone I eventually found a nearby neighborhood and quickly parked the car about half a mile from the park. I grabbed my daughter and took off running. We had about 5 minutes before the race started and luckily I had parked uphill from the park. I ran down to the park carrying her and hurried across the park only to learn that the start line was on the other side of the park up a hill. I picked her up and continued running. As we arrived at the start line there were only a few officials standing around. Everyone in the 2K race had already started. The officials said that we weren't too late so off we went. When I run with my daughter I let her dictate the pace and walk when she walks, no point in pushing her to be competitive, I want her to like running. She took off at a nice steady pace (probably a 12 - 13 min. mile) and we trotted along for the first half mile before stopping to begin our run-walk strategy. We hit a downhill shortly which we jogged down and then we were faced with the last 6/10ths of a mile of the course which were mostly up a gentle incline. We stuck to the run-walk strategy until we got up near the park where the run finished. People were cheering us left and right which felt nice for me but I think she was in the red pushing to finish so she didn't acknowledge any of the cheers. We ran down the finishing straight and being that we were the last ones on the course got some attention from the race announcer as we crossed the line. Something like "Great job dad and daughter!" We started late and I didn't have my Garmin on so I don't know what our finishing time was. (nor do I care). After finishing, we walked over and partook in the freebies (fruit, juice, water) and then picked up her bib and T-shirt (we didn't have time to get them before the race started) along with her finishers ribbon. A quick play in the park and we were off to her swim lesson.

I didn't manage much running this week due to time off and blisters from my barefoot ego problem. I still managed a little over 25 miles which isn't terrible when I don't have any races lined up and I'm still trying to get through my Piriformis issues.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

something something new shoes something something

Monday 5/30 (7.7mi, 57min, 7:29/mi) Holiday Monday so I got out for my home "Hour loop" AKA "Two store loop"). I kept a solid pace but didn't really push it too hard as I put out a good effort the day before. It felt good just to get out and run.

Tuesday 5/31 (5.5mi, 41min, 7:34/mi) I ran the "Redmond streets" route at work clockwise today. It wasn't a speed run, just more of an almost-recovery run with a few tough miles at the start. I picked up the pace down Old Redmond Rd and back up 148th for a decent time.

Thursday 6/2 (5.7mi, 44min, 7:51/mi) More Viewpoint park loops, only two today as I'm taking it sort of easy this week. The run felt great and I felt absolutely fantastic after I was warmed up. My body was responding well when I'd try to pick up the pace and my footing felt good as did my form.

Friday: 6/3 (2.0mi, 16min, 8:02/mi) Pt 1: Two miles on the treadmill before hitting the weights.

Friday 6/3 (6.0mi, 48min, 8:01/mi) Pt 2: Six miles on the dreadmill after work in lieu of being a sane person and running 10 miles outdoors. The weather was nice but I'm on call for work so I thought I'd just hang out in the gym with my phone and watch whatever was on the TV and have an awful run on the hamster wheel instead of enjoying myself on some trails. I meant to run 8 miles but could barely stomach 6. Horrible.

Sunday 6/5 (5.6mi, 50min, 8:52/mi) With my wife and daughter away at a birthday party I took the boy out for a run in the BOB jogger. Being on call for work I stayed somewhat close to the house and just looped around nearby roads. It was a good easy paced run and the boy seemed to be pretty happy with the views.

I ran in a new pair of Merrell Trail Gloves that I exchanged the Vibram Five Fingers for. They felt fantastic. So much better than any other shoes I can think of with the possible exception of the New Balance MT101s. Now that I have two pair I'm actually looking forward to wearing one out so that I can retire them and wear them as every day kicking-around shoes. When I returned the Five Fingers I was hoping to exchange them for a pair of Merrell Tough Gloves, which are casual shoes with the same flat Vibram sole that the running shoes have. REI doesn't carry Tough Gloves unfortunately. Before 2011 I didn't care about Merrell shoes at all, now they're at the top of my list. Why can't Brooks make a good minimalist shoe?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

[Number] [synonym for awesome] [nouns] that [verb]

Monday 5/23 (6.5mi, 51min, 7:57/mi) I ran out to Viewpoint park for 3 loops which has become a regular staple run during the week since finding this small trail. I think that after so much running at the Bridle Trails I was just starved for something new to sink my shoes into. Now if it was only 2 miles closer to work and 20x longer. Moderate pace, felt pretty good to get out and run.

Tuesday 5/24 (6.15mi, 42min, 6:51/mi) I went back to the "Pro Club Loop" after avoiding it for a while. I put in a hard tempo pace and turned myself inside out for this one. Not a PR but for me a pretty good time for roughly a 10K with a decent bit of climbing. It's always confusing when I'm pushing the pace getting up the hard hills that come at the end of the Corridor trail so that I'm red-lining when I turn down the back stretch. I feel like I'm spent and barely slogging through a 9min/mi pace after giving so much on the climbs, but I go back to look at my splits and see that I still managed a 6:43 mile and that my pace over the whole route was never slower than 7:45/mi.

Wednesday 5/25 (2.0, 15min, 7:41/mi) First run of the day was a warmup at the gym before lifting. I gave the Vibram Five-Fingers another try. I like the way they feel for the most part but my pinky toes are a little too short for the toe pockets and slip out occasionally. It's not painful but annoying enough that I'll stop after a minute or two and fix them. The difference between the length of my biggest and smallest toes is considerably more than then difference between the toe pockets in the shoes. They're not that well suited for my feet and I feel like they're kind of a novelty running-wise. There are other minimal shoes out there with a better fit for me like the Merrell Trail Gloves that I rave about frequently. I think the experiment with Five-Fingers will result in an exchange for different shoes. I'd like to try the Brooks Green Silence which aren't really minimalist shoes, or get another pair of Trail Gloves. While I'm talking about shoes, I should mention that I tried on the New Balance Trail Minimus shoes two weeks ago at a New Balance store and I didn't like them. The material seemed nice but in my size they didn't fit well at all. The length of the footbed was adequate but the toebox was both narrow and low. I couldn't splay my feet out at all in them and my toes felt trapped against the footbed. I've read about people cutting the rubber strap that goes over the top of the toes to ease the pressure on the toebox but I didn't want to buy shoes that needed modification from the start. I've also seen a promising review of the successor to the Trail Minimus which should be coming out this summer. I hope that New Balance opens up that toebox in the next revision.

Wednesday 5/25 (10.7mi, 1h 33m, 8:41/mi) I wanted to get a second run in on Wednesday as I was staying late at work anyway so I got out to run at about 6pm in light rain. I ran over to Viewpoint Park for 4 loops before continuing on to the SE corner of the Bridle Trails as the rain picked up. By the time I was in the Bridle Trails heading West the rain increased to crazy torrential downpour levels. Hard enough to drown out my iPod and reduce visibility greatly. I don't think I've ever run in rain this hard. I was quickly soaked and the trails were filling with large puddles and small streams. I tried to hop around the mud and water for a few minutes before giving up and just running through the middle of it without regard for keeping my shoes clean or dry. By the time I got to the main horse ring at the SW corner of the park I was soaked through and the water had shut down my iPod. I stopped to wring a liter or more of water out of my shirt before continuing on.

The short break gave me a second wind and I slopped on through the mud and water and eventually made it around the perimeter of the park and down the Corridor trail on the way back to work. The rain had calmed down to a drizzle by this point but the damage was done. I was soaked through to my skin, my iPod was dead and my feet were sliding around in my muddy wet shoes. I could say that these were some of the worst conditions I've ever experienced on a run or turn it around and say that this was a great benchmark showing that even in terrible conditions I still love to run.

Sunday 5/29 (4.4mi, 32min, 7:17/mi) I missed Thu - Sat for work/family errands and got out for a quick One-Store Loop run on Sunday night. I started out a little easier than I normally do and then kept a steady strong pace once I got to the bottom of the Tunnel Trail. I felt pretty good after 3 days off of running and came within 30 seconds of my PR for the route. It felt great just to get out for a short run.

Almost 30 miles for the week and I'm looking at 125 for May. I'll fall just shy of 600mi YTD. It's quite a bit better than I was doing last year to through May (of course I spent 2.5 weeks in Hawaii last May). I'm feeling the draw of racing now and I really need to get my Piriformis issue under control. I was hoping it would be improving by now but it isn't. Give up and call in the doctor or just research more on the Interwebs? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another light week of running but finishing with a PR

Monday 5/16: didn't feel well, see last week's update.

Tuesday 5/17 (6.2mi, 53min, 8:32/mi) I felt a little better than Monday and was ready to run again so I put on my newly purchased Vibram Five Fingers Bikila shoes and went out to Viewpoint park for a few laps. The shoes felt okay on the pavement but felt great on the trails. They are a fairly tight fit but didn't bother my toes. After the run I found that I not only had a blister on the outside/bottom of my left foot but a spot on the top of my right foot where the stitching inside the shoe had given me quite a painful abrasion. That's a strike or two against the VFFs right off the bat. I'm not sure if I'll keep them after that first run. As soon as the abrasion heals I'll give them another try. The Merrell Trail Gloves are still working really well for me and I just love running in them. I don't need to wear socks with them, and they don't hurt my feet. I've heard people refer to them as the Vibram One Finger. Great shoes.

Wednesday 5/18 (3mi, 23min, 7:45/mi) I ran to warm-up before lifting weights at the gym again. I thought I'd try a little speedwork so I ran 1/2mi warm-up, then 5 x 1/4mi starting at 90 seconds and working down to 78 seconds for the final repeat. I ran 1/4mi recovery interval between each rep at 9:00 pace. It was a pretty hard workout but I could have kept it up (descending times) for a few more at least.

Thursday 5/19 (6.25, 50min, 8:06/mi) I ran relatively easy out to the Bridle Trails then ran down the East border until I got to the southeast ridge where I started running up the various paths to the top and then jogging down. I probably ran up and down 6 times before turning for home. I was almost out of the park when I caught a root with my big toe and tumbled to the ground. I landed on my side on the soft dirt and other than my throbbing toe I was unscathed.

Friday 5/20 (6.5mi, 47min, 7:19/mi) I started out easy and ran out to the Bridle Trails again. I picked up the pace when I got to the park and headed down the East side. From there I ran along the South border until I got to the middle of the park where I headed North and back out. I kept a hard pace for the rest of the run in the trails, then slowed a bit before picking it up for the last mile. If I'd pushed it from the start I think I could have taken the average pace < 7:00/mi.

Friday 5/20 (3.0 km, 24:30, 13:14/mi) After work on Friday I hurried home and changed into running clothes, picked up my daughter who was ready and waiting and we went to a local elementary school that holds an annual 3km charity / memorial run in the name of one of it's former teachers. The school is only about 3 miles from home and the race is held at 6:30pm on a Friday night. On top of that it was only $10 to enter and was all for a very local charity. Tough to pass that one up.

There was no kids category so we both raced in the Open division. We started out quick (for us) at the back of the pack and ran pretty hard for the first 1/2 mile. We adopted a run/walk strategy on the first hill. At about the 1mi point we ran through the first of several sprinklers to cool down. The course was punishing but we did our best to run the downhill parts and some of the flats. We looped around the streets before coming back to the school to the finish.  We started our finishing kick a little too early and were really worn out with 200m to go. It was hard but we convinced ourselves to push ourselves for that last bit on an empty tank to cross the line with a new 3km PR! (for both of us).

Catching up on my running

Monday 5/9 (7.7mi, 53min, 6:55/mi avg) I was working from home Monday so I did a tempo run around my "2 stores" loop, named so because it takes me out past both the Island View and Arletta stores. It takes about an hour to run at a conversational pace so I tried to see how much under an hour I could run it. I ended up a bit over 53 minutes. Any run that I can finish with < 7:00/mi pace makes me happy. It was almost a 3 minute PR for this route. Unfortunately I did get a visit from the Gingerbread Man mid-run.

Tuesday 5/10 (6.3mi, 50min, 8:07/mi avg) Back at work I ran out to Viewpoint park for 3 laps and then back to the office. I was feeling oddly good despite nearly turning myself inside out on Monday's run. I don't care much for the run out to Viewpoint park but I just love running around that loop. It's just under 1/2 mi per loop and being on a hillside less than 5% of it is on flat ground. It's either up or down. I wish it was closer to work so that I could spend less time/distance getting there and more time running loops.

Wednesday 5/11 (3.5mi, 25min, 7:09/mi avg) I went over to the gym to lift weights and ran 4x800m @ 3:00 to warm my muscles up. The first two were easy but the last two were hard to hold. I feel like I'm cheating if I don't put the incline on the treadmill at 2.5% or better even though this makes the equivalent pace harder than the numbers suggest.

Thursday 5/12 (8.4mi, 59min, 7:03/mi avg) I ran the "hour loop" from work at lunch as a second tempo run for the week. I started out pretty strong going down to Grass Lawn Park and up Old Redmond rd. I kept the pace up cutting across the power line trail and even through the back section of the Bridle Trails and down the road to 24th. I started to slow down heading down 24th and especially coming up the other side of 24th. I recovered once I was up on 148th heading back to work. My splits were surprisingly consistent given the hills:

1) 6:36 (downhill)
2) 7:06 (uphill)
3) 7:09 (uphill / flat)
4) 6:59 (flat)
5) 7:09 (slight downhill)
6) 6:50 (slight downhill)
7) 7:38 (steep downhill / steep uphill)
8) 7:12 (slight uphill)
8.4) 6:18 (flat)

Great week of running except that I felt like I was getting sick by Friday and felt pretty bad over the weekend and even through Monday so I didn't run any more this week. I got a whopping 26 miles in though most of them were pretty good tempo miles. I'll cut the weightlifting back and pick up the mileage when I pick my next race.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The return of tempo

Monday 5/2 (2.0mi, 15min, 7:40/mi) Another 2 mile warmup on the treadmill before lifting weights. I played with my speed a little bit on this one. I ran sets of a quarter mile and then a tenth of a mile cool down. I increased the pace of each quarter mile repeat 0.5 mph and lowered it down to 8:30/mi for the cool down tenth. I think my fastest was 6:00/mi pace. I thought I'd do something different to try to keep it interesting.

I'm also playing with my weight lifting routine. I only lift weights twice a week for 30 - 40 min. I don't know if it's better to do one set of an exercise per muscle group and hit all 6 main groups (shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, chest, legs) in one session or to focus on 2 - 3 muscle groups per session but doing sets of 3 different exercises per group. Hit all of the muscle groups lightly every workout or hit them hard every 2nd or 3rd workout? I did the former on Monday.

Tuesday 5/3 (6.25mi, 48min, 7:43/mi) I ran out to Viewpoint park again for 3 CCW loops of my newly discovered trail. I ran them in decreasing times (4:25, 4:03, 3:48) which left me pretty tired after the 3rd one given the short steep climb at the end of the loop. Good run other than my nemesis the Gingerbread man showing up and the stinging nettles that I managed to scratch my butt on.

Wednesday 5/4 (12.0mi, 1h 26m, 7:13/mi) I had a long day at work so I kicked off a job and went out for a run so that I could come back as it was finishing up. I decided to run along the Sammamish river trail and insert some half-mile pickups into the run. I feel like ever since hurting my Piriformis muscle I've been slacking on my running, mostly jogging with no speed or hill work thrown in.. I got down the long hill to the trail and ran six 1/2mi repeats with 1/4mi cooldown. I ran the repeats in: 3:07, 3:06, 3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:14) The times slipped a little bit which I'd expected. I was pretty tired after the last one. I ate a gel and turned around for the run back to work. I tried to run the next 4 miles increasing the pace every mile and I'm impressed that I did in: 7:22, 7:09, 6:52, 6:41). Even running mile 10 mile in 6:41 didn't seem that hard. There is a hill at the beginning / end of this route that follows hwy 520 down into Redmond. It's about 1.25 miles long and averages maybe 7% - 8% grade so it's much more than a false flat. I felt good enough that I was able to pass a guy my age on a mountain bike at the bottom of the hill and by the time I got to the top I couldn't even see him behind me. I wasn't able to pass the guy in front of me on a road bike as he slowly put distance on me. Maybe if I hadn't just finished 10 miles of tempo running I could have held on to road bike guy.

Thursday 5/5 (6.2mi, 50min, 8:09/mi) After yesterday's tempo / interval run I needed to take it easy. I probably should have gone to the gym and lifted weights instead of running but I didn't have the time. Instead I ran the Pro Club loop CCW at a somewhat leisurely pace. Starting the run was a little rough with the soreness in my legs from yesterday but once I got going I felt pretty good. I tried to really work on my legs before bed with my PVC roller and some stretching.

Friday 5/6 (2.0mi, 15mi, 7:45/mi) Just ran a simple 2 mile warmup on the treadmill before lifting weights.

I didn't get a chance to run on Saturday and Sunday. It was just an overloaded weekend hanging out with the family and spending Mother's day out and about. I did make it to the pool and had time to swim 300 yds while the wife and kids were getting ready. I didn't have goggles with me so I just squinted to watch the line on the bottom of the pool. It reminded me how much of a workout swimming is for me. I'll run for hours and feel good but a few hundred yards in the pool has me out of breath in no time.