Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Would you believe this is my 99th post? Where did the time go? It's only been 5 months and still finding things to say and talk about with a few kind souls paying attention once in awhile.
Today was another cruel winter day for running with conditions no better than our endurance test on Sunday. From the sounds of it, poor Andrew is still suffering from the repercussions (mostly mental though I'd dare say ;-). Today it barely got above -10C (15F) and a windchill of -18C (0F) was the warmest it got, for about the 5th day in a row. This is supposed to last for a few more days and we might possibly get up to the melting point by the weekend (let's hope)!
But it didn't stop me from running, especially after a whole day of rest from our 20-something mile ordeal on Sunday. So at high noon with the sun well obscured by the dull grey clouds and swirling gusty winds keeping the flags well extended I made preparations for battle. Multiple layers, 3 on top (not enough), 2 on bottom (coulda used more), vaseline, bacalava, neck protector, warm hat, headbands and off to the races.
On tap today, 9 miles with 8x600m reps at 5k pace (what kind of idiot came up with that!). Started out easy, did a few stretches, and about a 1 mile warmup jog to the base of the Joe's Point road and hill where I did my 1 mile repeats last week. The hill is about 1/2 mile at a mostly gentle grade, nothing overly steep but enough to wear you down. Did the reps mostly by time but tried to hit the same end point each time and then walk, gasp, jog my way the last 200m of the hill. Of course this was both up and down so it actually accomplished a dual purpose of providing some hill work (especially downhill) as well. Finished off the last rep as the full downhill distance of 800m in 3:05 which was acceptable given the conditions. Actually once I got started the wind and cold were barely part of my conciousness anymore. Wasn't flinging off all my clothes but it was no longer the main concern, rather the struggle to keep form and make it to the same mark on the hill each time.
Nice to finish the repeats but still had 4 more miles to get in and this is where things got hard. The 1st 2 miles were a nice jog with the wind at my back but then after the turnaround it was a teeth first struggle to make it back to homebase. The lack of adequate extra layers made themselves known and it was a relief to finally stop and call it a day.
Guess I'd better get to work on number 100, with miles to go and the roads always beckoning.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Looking across Passamaquoddy Bay from Mill Cove toward St. Andrews (6:15am Eastern)
Same view but zoomed and more down the Bay a few seconds later... This spot is only a few miles from our meeting point by Boyden Lake in Perry, Maine.
Arrived a 1/2 hr earlier this morning so Andrew and I could get in a few extra miles before Stephanie arrived at 7:00am. We did a short out and back and thought it was going to be a nice easy run but forgot to note the nasty wind at our backs. After the turn we had a change of heart and decided the brutal wind was going to make this a tougher day after all.
Stephanie had arrived by the time we got back. After throwing around various plans of attacks to minimize the time into the wind and get the 10 miles in that Steph needed (she's been out of commission lately with a sore leg) we headed north along the lake to do a couple of out & backs. Again, tough going into the wind but nice after each turn around and the quick car pit stops for drinks. We talked about lots of stuff, running mostly, plans for upcoming races including Boston and Holyoke, the awful weather. We also noticed that despite the cold there are still large open water spots on the lake so no short cuts were in the plans today.
Final hour of the run was just Andrew and I along the southern base road along the lake. The 1st 1/2hr was great; we just sailed along literally, right past the Rotweiller house (we could hear them barking from inside) until the fateful turn around when things got ugly. Where did those stupid hills come from? Like being on a treadmill at the steepest incline, we slowed down to a crawl for the final return leg. Finished back at the cars in 3:08 according to my watch. Andrew said it was time to stop but stubborn moi decided he still needed 12 more minutes of 'punishment' so as to have the required time 'on my feet'. Total for the run is somewhere between 22-24 but I'm calling it 24 for due diligence and nose to the grindstone effort.
Andrew is done (lucky dog) and he can afford to smile now, or is he laughing at me?
End of run (almost). I still have 10 minutes to go which is perhaps why I'm not smiling.
End of a tough but satisfactory week with a total of 75 miles in 10.5hrs of running. Only 7 weeks to go to the prize ;-)
Friday, February 24, 2006
There was no volleyball on Weds, just couldn't find the gumption to crawl off the nice leather couch while watching Olympics. The next morning I slept in till 7:30 missing my easy dreadmill run on purpose. Actually awoke on time before the alarm but no, back to the warm bed instead. Nice.... Then at lunchtime it was just a slow tired 6 miles around town about 2 minutes slower than the same effort earlier in the week. Felt draggy after the run and so no desire to do the treadmill thing after work either and opted for more recovery from the Weds hill workout.
Same deal this morning, woke up before the treadmill alarm time, but no, right back to sleep for another 45 minutes... yes! All this so the legs would have a chance to recover and put in a decent effort for today's 7 mile tempo run embedded in a 12 mile run. In order to improve you need to recover enough to go hard on hard days. The usual slogging pace just doesn't cut it and so there was no option but lose the doubles and not worry about the mileage game so much.
However, the tempo run went poorly, despite the legs feeling fresher than usual when heading out. The average pace for the 7mi on the usual hilly/windy/snow covered course was 7:42/mi with splits between 730 to 750. Damn! Can't even run marathon pace (<730) now on a tempo run... But I'm not despairing, this is the usual pattern for me in heavy training. Just don't have any speed but it usually comes back after the taper with the race day magic.
So, what's going to happen next? The disturbing pattern is:
Hills on Weds + Tempo Friday + Long run (24 todo) Sunday = Big Time Bonk?
Hey, I could be 'Just Like Mike' ! We'll see ;-)
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Drumroll... A bit tougher to get going today despite a beautiful, sunny calm day with above normal temps near the freezing point. The reason, a 15 miler with down-hill repeats, sounds like fun eh? Started out with stretching, an easy 1 mile warmup, more stretching and then begin. Ran the repeats on an 800m hill going from Pottery Creek to the top of Joe's Point road, which was mostly snow covered from last night's little sprinkle (only an inch or 2).
As I said, these were downhill repeats which were done at about marathon pace or a bit harder with the focus on form and turnover. First loop in 7:43, then dog it back up the long gradual hill for an 8:04 2nd loop, ouch! better pick it up a bit on those uphill 'recovery' jogs; next repeats in 7:52, 7:51, 7:51 (counting), and 6th (more counting) and last in 7:45! It was a nice feeling to run a bit faster than normal and most of the downs felt fairly smooth. I tried to think faster turnover, quick feet, raising my knees and of course the last 5 miles of the Boston course on tired legs. Some other points from a book that Andrew had lent me also helped.
Downhill running tips from Higdon, Run Fast. Relax it’s free speed!
1. Starting down, tilt forward, from the waist. How much you tilt depends on the steepness of the hill. Lean forward so the torso is perpendicular with the surface of the hill.
2. As you move faster, raise your knees and lengthen your stride to cope with the increased speed and faster stride rate.
3. For better balance, esp. on uneven ground, allow your elbows to rise up and out.
4. To cushion the shock of descent, land more on the balls of your feet than on your heels.
5. Most important is to practice and concentrate but don’t overdo it as it is easy to get injured running downhill with up to 40% more leg shock than on the flat.After 6 miles of hill repeats, I thought it was enough punishment for the day but still had about 8 miles left to do. And this is where the mind comes into play, the lazy body is tired and wants to go home but the evil master says 'NO, keep going this way, that way, hurry up, no slacking!' . So it was a jog back home for more Gatorade and then a 2 mile measured loop at medium effort which came out a surprising 7:40 pace. Then 5 more around the Point to finish me off in 2:03 . The rest of the day was just resting at the keyboard and even bummed a ride home as I felt too beat to walk the one mile home.
Tonite, it feels nice to sit and type while watching the Olympics out of the corner of my eye. The men's hockey team blew it I guess but they never did come together as a 'team'. Meanwhile the amateurs are doing well for Canada with the medals still coming. Go Canada!
Hmmm, should I go to volleyball Mike? I'll try not to lose my keys ;-)
Sunday, February 19, 2006
> "Commitment" is an observer's word, not a participant's. People
> who are committed show it. They don't usually have any reason to use the
> word itself.
production of bacon and eggs for breakfast. "The chicken is involved but
the pig is COMMITTED!" And in at least one ... project, all the client
participants showed up the day after the joke wearing pig's noses to show
they were committed to the project... "
Should I wear a pig's nose for our next group run? But then again, just showing up and doing it is the key point. I like the old Nike theme of 'just do it!'.
Today's run was a nice group run of 16 miles in the freezing cold with Andrew & Jon. The company made the run alot more bearable. Actual temps were -17C (0F) with 10-20mph NW winds making for a windchill of -26C (or -17F) but with enough layers (see yesterday's post), vaseline on exposed skin and other buddies to take turns breaking trail it was not that bad. We did the usual 13.5mi loop around Boyden lake followed by a few extra to make up the distance we each needed.
Not alot to report about the run, no dogs - they were all safely indoors, few cars as usual, the usual conversations about food begining about 1/2 way into the run. We also had the false impression that Steph might show up with coffee and fresh baked muffins but that was just a pipe dream. The pace was good today as we worked hard to keep warm and I felt reasonably strong and fresher than expected for most of the run. The legs did get a little sore/tired near the end but this is to be expected. A nice run and oh so nice to stop and get warmed up, my feet are still cold.
Total for the week 67 miles, year-to-date 507 and only 8 weeks to Boston from tomorrow!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Layers as follows:
- head: bacalava, neck warmer, fleece hat, big glasses, vaseline on exposed skin
- body: 2 long sleeve tech shirts, fleece pullover, outer shell, gloves
- legs: underwear, tights, Gore-tex pants, Thorlo socks and Mizunos
See you on the roads tommorow!
Friday, February 17, 2006
Perhaps I should have emulated Duncan and taken a nap at lunch in the van, instead of running in the blustery conditions we had. In fact, I'm starting to get the feeling he might be my evil younger twin who is sucking away my running energy. It's a bizarre theory but take the following similiarities, same height 5'11", same weight 162, likes beer, trains like a maniac. But even stranger of all, today's mileage was exactly the same, a double with 15 miles total and 4 easy on the treadmill (do you hear the weird music?). Of course when it comes to speed we're obviously in different worlds but how come he's feeling good and I'm not or vice versa... Naah!
But I'm still tired and have no explanation. Work is completely crazy busy and not likely to improve for weeks (around the time Boston happens actually). Now if I was listening to my body and not blindly following a schedule, then maybe I wouldn't be afraid to sleep in instead of doing the dreadmill routine or to cut back on the miles when it's not going well. Like today's 2nd run... the weather was mild (+12C or 50F) and very strong winds near 30mph but instead of easing into the run and starting to feel better it was just downhill from the start (and not in a good way). Again, too stubborn to call it a day and slogged out the 11 miles.
The weather has been quite amazing again and did it in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt again today. But tommorow it's back to winter reality as the Polar Express from the west is bearing down on us (thanks Dawn!) with -25 to -30 windchills and other fun stuff. Now do you think that would be a good reason to cut my run short? Naah! Actually looking forward to the group run on Sunday, surely things will be better by then ;-)
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Most or all of the above may apply here in balmy St. Andrews. It's been really busy at work with presentations to prepare and meetings to attend and despite being a so-called rest week and I'm beat. On Tues I broke my 9 miles scheduled for the day into 4mi. on the dreadmill at 645am and a 5er after work, neither of which seemed too difficult, just dragging my butt sort of runs.
Today, almost falling asleep all morning at my desk, even after 3 cups of coffee and 9 mile run with 6x600 at 5k pace awaiting. But what a great day, +6C (44F) and medium SW winds of 10-20mph and so went in shorts and felt great showing off my skinny white legs! Once running things went a bit better and was able to do the workout, more or less, just going by time on the road for the intervals. Used my sidestreet hill by the golf course for the repeats and was able to get a bit of speed up going down at least.
After the run it was back to being tired and dopey for the rest of the afternoon. Tonite I hope to have enough energy for a few hours of volleyball and better get going now....
Sunday, February 12, 2006
So today, Sunday, was long run day but with a twist; calling for 12 miles at marathon pace. I wimped out on the trip down to Somesville with Andrew and instead got up and going early at home before the storm was due to hit. Made the usual pre-long run preparations of a light breakfast of coffee, OJ, cereal with fruit and milk and more coffee (no bagel today). Then gear up with foot powder, bandaids for tender spots, vaseline in strategic places and plaster over my face with temps of -12C (10F) and windchill of -18C (0F). Out the door by 8am only 1 hour after waking up.
Began the run with an easy 6 mile warmup around town but didn't get to warm with the wind. I did see a few walkers including Cory (and her dad) who is in town to give a seminar on her thesis which was based on fisheries data we helped her with. At least they beat the storm too! After looping back home and refueling the water bottle with Gatorade I was ready to attempt the marathon pace part of the run. Because of the conditions it was scaled back to 10 miles on an out and back 5 mile measured course. The 1st 5 were more or less into the wind at just under 8:00 pace (aiming for 7:30) but the return leg with the wind behind was better at 7:44 pace including the first and last miles at 7:30 goal pace for a 10 mile time of 1:18:23. Total time for the 16 miles was 2:13 thus completing the week with 75 miles in 6 days of running and 3 doubles.
After the run I had time to play with some of my running data in a spreadsheet program. This plot shows my mileage by week and long runs (in yellow) since my last marathon in late October. The dotted line beyond this week is the planned mileage going ahead to my near term goal of Boston. My only comment on this is that it looks quite consistent (so far) and should allow for a decent performance barring injury of course.
It's now mid-afternoon, 2pm local and we've only had a few flurries so far. I'm hoping that it holds off for Andrew, assuming he did make the drive down to the race. The latest Bar Harbor area radar pictures looks like the storm is still coming and so hopefully he's safely on his way home by now. I'm looking forward to his race report!
Friday, February 10, 2006
And they didn't even miss me at work because, a-I work flexible hours and b-most of my co-workers were in another dumb meeting. But it still was a long day on the job and wasn't able to sneak off as early as I would have liked since there were more meetings to get sucked into and a couple of reports to finish off before the end of the day.
Meanwhile, out in the real outdoor world it's been freezing cold here the last few days. Temps today had a high of -9C (12F) and with the wind of 15-30km/hr made for a windchill of -16C (or 0F). Brrrr, extra layers for sure! At least I started out my 13 mile run in the sunshine, but into the wind it took a few miles before my face warmed up (all the other parts were fine with 3 upper layers and 2 bottom). My left leg was still a bit sore at first but improved after a few miles; need to keep working on the daily stretching and easy warmups. The run went very well, felt reasonably fresh and kept up a good pace until the final few miles when the spring in my stride seemed to go. Nevertheless it was a remarkable easy 13 in about 1:50. Even the longer runs are now starting to seem easy which must be a good sign.
The forecast for Bar Harbor on Sunday isn't looking so good:
I've decided to call off the trip to Somesville for the 10/20 mile race. It's a 3+ hr drive and don't want to be doing it into the teeth of a nor-eastern blizzard and then have to return along the same route. This would have been a great run to test my fitness, even if only 12 miles at marathon pace but would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to winter weather and driving. Are you listening Andrew? Be carefull!!
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
A little background on the sneaky plan I'm on. It slowly adds mileage over the weeks, first building up by maxing out on single runs but then in the 2nd phase it adds double runs on the easy days. The theory, and it seems to work, is that those 2 short 'easy-or else' runs of 4 & 6 miles are less stress on the body than one longer 10 mile run. Another trick is adding miles on the dreaded mid-week medium-long run day by doing a double that day as well.
So this morning it was 4 very slow (or-else) miles on the treadmill followed by a mid-day run of 14 (plan actually said 15 but I misread) for a total of 18 midweek miles. The mid-day run was fantastic, clear blue skies, a bit cold with a light NW wind (windchill -10F) and felt great with some spring in my stride for most of the run. Did stretches before and after and the legs are much improved (just a speed bump in the road to Beantown). The semi-cold is also gone which helps too. A month ago, when looking at a double like this, I thought 'there's no way I can survive that!', but remarkably it was almost easy and I feel great tonite.
Now about this weekend's long tempo run/race in Somesville, Maine which is organized as 2x10mile loops.... My 'plan' calls for 16 with 12@marathon pace, so do I do a warmup, the 10 miler and add a couple of miles at the end or run the 20 with the last 4 'extra' miles at a jog? I'm leaning toward the former as it would be way too easy to get sucked into overdoing it on the 20 and don't really need the extra miles or stress right now.
Meanwhile, I'm hungry all the time lately and need to find something to eat. The cobbler is history but we always have ice cream in this house. Mmmm food!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Once tried to run 7 days a week but it only lasted for about ... 1 week. Mondays are the most important running day of the week and they are 'my day of rest and healing'. I can't comprehend running streaks of months at a time, like Animal Lydiard Mike let slip in a recent post (oh yeah he missed a day, on Aug 4!!). That is nuts and praiseworthy at the same time but he's simply following his plan which says 'run!'.
Similiarly if my plan says run xx miles, then it gets done if the body and weather allows but this morning it wasn't so sure. For some reason I'm developing extreme tightness in the back of my left leg behind the knee in the hamstring area and could hardly walk down the stairs to get to the treadmill. (note to dummy/self: stretch every night, before every run and after 1st mile too). So, hobbled down the stairs to the mill and started out at a walk for 1/4 mile....not bad, loosening up, slow jog 6mph ... hey I can do this, barely, a little faster now ! Ended up with 4 very slow miles but got the run in!
Lunchtime plan was for another 6 and the same story as before, stiff and tight leg, actually limping up and down the hall (try to take breaks from the computer every 1/2 hour at least) to try to loosen it up. And then, lace on the shoes magic, a few stretches, easy-easy short choppy jog, more stretches and the run went amazingly well, just a little slow. It was a really nice day with sunshine, light wind, and just a bit below the freezing point. Felt fine after, except for the limp that came back again (looking for sympathy?) and the walk home tonite was nice and relaxing.
And so...the verdict is that I'm surviving so far, but just hanging it. My notes called for a re-evaluation this week to see how things are going and if the plan needed any tweaks or reductions if not able to maintain. If I can get through this week and the coming weekend's tempo 10/20 mile race in Somesville, Maine on Mount Desert Island then next week is only a recovery week followed by 8 more weeks to B-day!!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Yesterday was a completely different story with a mild springlike day, sunshine, mild temps near +5C (40ies F) and NO wind! I even met 2 (count em, two!) runners while heading out the highway for an easy 8 miles. Finished with a set of 10 strides (more like pick-ups; just not feeling very fast or smooth). The run went fairly well otherwise but still have various aches and the beginings of a cold with a ticklish/flemmy throat.
As I said, today was a completely different story with nasty weather that reminded me of the KV marathon last fall with cold rain and wind. But I guess it could have been alot worse, and it is February and not October, isn't it? And so after delayed things as long as possible, waiting for the wind to drop and rain to stop, and even the temps were rising, finally got on the road at mid-afternoon. Even tried to convince K who was on MSN to join me but he already had pressing commitments (he says ;-)
Conditions were decent for the 1st part of the run with very mild temp of +9C, no wind and just a slight drizzle. Did a bunch of zigzags around town for the 1st hour before refueling at home and heading out of town to complete the almost marathon. Over the last few miles it really felt like I was running a marathon, the weather closed in, steady cold rain, legs and mind tiring, just one more mile, just one more mile. It's not fun at this point but you still can't cut the run short, the plan says x and we're doing x, so shut up! Finished the 22 in 3:13 and barely able to walk down the driveway to the house. Man that shower felt nice!
The purpose of these extra long run is the subject of much debate in the running world. Some plans max out at 20 and others actually go overdistance up to 28-30. I'm convinced that there is a benefit to the extra distance and can feel it working just sitting here on the couch. I'm especially partial to the idea of doing long runs by time on your feet equivalent to your expected marathon time, which for me is in the 3:10 to 3:20 range.
Total for the week is 77 with 2 doubles included, both new records. Total for January was 298, didn't make it to Frostbite Falls with the rest of the gang cause I got lost going in the wrong direction with all the running. Looking over my plan it says to re-evaluate now to see how I'm feeling at this point (I was worried about handling the extra load). (Ahhh, time out for ice-cream and peach cobbler, mmmmmm feeling much better) Besides being tired and sore I think it'll be all right, final report forthcoming.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I'm having issues with my blog or it could just be blogger losing comments etc so I'm re-posting this.
There's a nice article in
For example, I woke up this morning with very tight sore achilles, calves and hamstring, in fact the entire back of one leg was like a giant cord of knots. Tight, tight, tight despite 1/2 hour of stretching last evening and a long tempo run staring me in the face today. Forecast was for wind and lots of rain and so decided to take the van to work to save energy (that turned out to be a great decision). Still tight and a bit sore all morning thinking 'Man, how can I run like this?' but miracles happen and once the shoes were laced on things started to improve.
The plan called for 12 miles with 6@1/2 marathon pace which I decided to do as an out and back run. However, dummy decided to leave his gloves and headband behind at the start with warm feel like temperatures and the wind at my back initially. Regretted this for the entire 2nd half but had other small miseries to keep me occupied, that is fighting the 30km headwind while trying to keep the effort up. Reverted to alot of counting and some yelling at the sky for some portions and only managed to do the return leg 4 minutes faster than the slow jog out. It was so nice to be finished even though the tempo pace was much slower than planned, not even marathon pace today (ouch).
An unexpected reward and another chink off the armour after the run was a stiff neck and back that just came from nowhere...'what gives, am I falling apart?' or maybe it's just a lack of ice cream! That will go good with a nice homemade peach cobbler that magically appeared after weeks of incessant whining and moaning for more dessert.
Which reminds me, the Readers Digest (hey, it's a nice light read) reports that the current New Yorker has a cartoon of 2 dogs. "I had my own blog for a while," one says to the other, "but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking."
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
So today (Weds), the plan was to head off the blahs at the pass by getting out of the way what is considered the hardest run of the Pfitzinger program, the dreaded midweek medium long run. Feel like a free man now, with only downhill-wind-at-my-back runs for the rest of the week...'I wish ;-)' Managed to get 15 miles in over an extended lunch in just over 2:03 including a series of four downhill repeats over a 1 mile loop on a quiet back road by the golf course (at the end of Joes Point road where the view is awesome). The roads were perfect with last night's storm staying to the south and only had to contend with some wind (20-40 km/hr) and a bit of cold (-2C). Felt decent for most of the run, made a stop at home for gatorade which provided a nice boost, and then fought a tough headwind before turning for home on tiring legs.
Now, just mixed another batch of Gatorade and ready for volleyball. We'll see how frisky I am in the morning on the treadmill at 6:30am to start off another double run day....
It's now Thursday for real and here we go with a report, no waiting involved.
Volleyball was good with a nice turnout and even teams and games. My wrist was still sore causing my setting to be a little 'off' but had good energy for some jumping and moving around, although I couldn't move too quickly.
Up around 6:30 (before the alarm would you believe Andrew?) for a quick 4 miles on the treadmill. It's getting to be fairly painless, roll out of bed, grab the water bottle, set the satellite to the morning news and roll along until I wake up. Went very easy around 7-7.5 mph and felt fine, just a little stiff at first.
Nice brisk walk to work, about a mile with a clear sky and temps around -9C and no wind.
Lunch time was just an easy 6 mile loop around town with temps up to about -1C and again, no wind! The legs felt fine except for some stiffness in the achilles for the 1st mile which went away. Have to keep up with the stretching program in the evenings while watching the late news so this doesn't develop any further.
After the run, I had that 'happy tired' feeling in my legs and lungs which only seems to occur when pushing the training limits a bit. It also should mean the heavier training load is having the desired effect but is not overly stressful. And finally, Happy Thursday or Happy Groundhog Day, only 6 weeks to spring, right?