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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wet Nasty Billboards

I’m still riding the trainer every morning and getting into the groove. I have ridden the trainer more minutes this month than I think all last year!

I have also continued to increase my running mileage during this holiday. The day after the 15 miles I met Charles and Jim on the trace to mark out the Steam Whistle 12k (about 7.45 miles) route. I did an easy warm-up from my house to Jackson Station (1.4 miles) and met Charles. A few minutes later Jim arrived. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the 50’s. We marked the start / finish lines and headed west. Charles and I had reconfigured our GPS watches to read kilometers. Charles seems to start a little fast and Jim and I jumped in line behind him.

We ran past Lake Thoreau Drive and then past even Clyde Depot. The turnaround for the route would be just past the ‘Christmas Tree’ about a quarter of a mile west of the depot. Charles stopped and got a drink of water and said to not wait up for him. Jim and I ran and pushed each other with several surges between marking the course – I still had to stop every kilometer.

Once we past Lake Thoreau again we were at the home stretch. I was thinking how this would feel on race day. It is a pretty good ways to the finish – about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). This will be a HARD home stretch. Jim and I finished up. We crossed paths with Charles as he was running back into Jackson Station. I had invited Jim and Charles over for a beer after the run. Charles said he was going to drive because he did not think he would want to run the 1.4 miles back to his car after the beer. Charles would beat Jim and me to my house.

We had a beer and talked about more running plans. I had already filled out the First Light Half Marathon race registration and gave it to Jim. I told him to decide if we wanted to drive down the day of the race (Jan 10 – we will have to leave town at about 4:00AM to do the race). We all also committed to running the Billboards the following day. I ended up with just over 10 miles for the day.

On Wednesday I did the bike trainer again. I had some breakfast and headed to Jim’s house to run the Billboards. Charles had called me and said that he would meet us at the Billboards in case the weather turned nasty. And nasty it did turn. As I drove to Jim’s house the rain had started to pick up. It went from a drizzle to steady state. We were committed.

I got to Jim’s house and changed clothes. I had brought a wind breaker type cycling jacket and I put on a short sleeved shirt on underneath. I had planned ahead and had a change of shoes. I knew it was going to be wet and I was running in the same shoes from the Powerlines.

It was 1.6 miles from Jim’s house to the Billboards. We met Charles right when we turned off of the road. The temperature had dropped and it was wet and muddy. We hit the hills. I had never run the Billboards.

The Billboards are a red clay packed earthen road that parallels a major highway. It is rolling hills. It was also muddy but nothing like the Powerlines from the week before. We did 4 lengths of the Billboards - a length being one way so 2 laps – to use swimming terms. It was a good challenging work out. I only got 7.8 miles for this day. But, that was 7.8 miles that I would not have normally gotten.

We all commented that the weather was so nasty that NONE of us would have ran if we had not made the commitment. That is called being accountable. This accountability will allow each of us to achieve our goals at the Mardi Gras Marathon!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Running Long

After the breakthrough tempo run I took the next day off of running. I did ride the bike trainer. I have been doing well on the bike trainer – having ridden for 45 minutes 5 out of the past 6 days.

So after I rode the trainer I ate some breakfast and got a little stir crazy. I had planned on going to the track in the early evening and doing some intervals. I actually hate to train in the evening. That is the time that excuses creep into my mind. I thought that if I waited until later then there might be a chance that it would not happen. I had also been neglecting the long run.

So, even though the temperature was in the 30’s I hit the trail so to speak. That race in Baton Rouge was at 32 degrees and although I was cold at the start and finish – in retrospect the conditions were just about perfect. I knew that I would not be running at that intensity so I put just a little bit more clothing on. Actually, I wore just about the same outfit. I ran in triathlon shorts, a base layer and a thick performance light weight pull over. And of course gloves.

I headed out with the latest running / fitness / triathlon podcasts loaded up. I also had two gels stuffed in pockets. This would be an easy run and I was going to keep my heart rate in the 140’s. I also ran along the trace in the soft pine straw. This was not a hard or fast run but I was determined to get a little distance. I took a gel at Epley Station (about 6.25 miles into the run – 50 minutes) and then I jumped off of the trace and ran along the undulating horse trail. It was a nice change of pace. I had thoughts of running further and further out but I have a better understanding of my limitations. A year ago I got into some trouble when I just felt invincible. I had turned an 8 – 10 mile run into something like 16 miles – on and off the trace – and I paid the price. It was too much too soon and my body responded. My Achilles started to really hurt. I called for an EVAC (first and only time – I was embarrassed) and limped to Clyde Station. I had to get a ride home. I was lucky because I never run with a cell phone.

I would play it smart this time (no cell phone – anyway). At 7.5 miles I turned around and headed home. Back at Epley Station I took another gel and continued. My pace stayed consistent throughout the run and I was not hurting. It did get a little harder as I wrapped up but nothing that would cause me to slow down or walk or anything. Towards the end of the run I was listening to an interview with an ultra marathoner / ultra marathoner coach. They were asking him how you train for a 50 mile race. Do you just run progressively longer – like a 40 mile training run? He said no – You will not be able to recover very well with that kind of mileage but that you work up to running 20 miles back-to-back (like on a Saturday and then again on a Sunday). He said “You learn to run on tired legs.”

I finished up with 15 miles at 8:34 pace. I need to be almost exactly 1 minute per mile faster and for the full marathon to Boston Qualify. This is going to be tough

I am meeting Charles to map out the Stream Whistle 12k - link to pdf registration (New Year’s Day) route today – so with running from my house I should get over 10 miles – I guess that will be running on tired legs!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mental BREAKTHROUGH - tempo run

I took Christmas day off from the run and just rode the trainer. I have been trying to build my cycling base up – this has been a lot of steady state riding at moderately / low intensity. I also rode the trainer the day after Christmas but I was ready to hit the pavement. I am trying to make most of my running miles count – no garbage miles. Having read a number of books they always seem to state that there are really only three runs that push improvement.

  1. Hard Intervals at or above VO2MAX – example Yasso 800’s or ¼ miles or mile repeats.
  2. Tempo runs at LT (lactate threshold / anaerobic threshold – your maximum intensity that you can hold for about an hour).
  3. Distance runs – long runs at a steady pace
Everything else is supposed to be extraneous – although if you talk to anyone that is fast they will tell you that there is no substitute for mileage. Go figure.

Anyway that being said I was going to go for a tempo run at just above what I believe to be my LT – which is in the mid 170’s by heart rate. This is a hard area to run – a hard area for me to sustain. It is easy for me to let my mind wander and slow down a bit. It is easy for me to think about the discomfort and want to slow down a bit. It is easy to want to stop.

Last Tuesday (Monday was an off running day following the half marathon PR on Sunday) I tried to see how I would have felt / faired if I would have raced at my own pace (instead of following a faster runner and blowing up and suffering through 11.5 miles of the race). I set the ‘virtual trainer’ on the GPS watch for 5 miles at a 7 minute pace. I could not do it. I gave in to the voices – my legs were dead and I was hurting. I turned around at 1.5 miles and slowed way down.

Well, yesterday I decided to not look at the pace (much) and I wanted to do a mile warm up and then push the pace at LT for 4 miles. Then follow up with a mile cool down. The temperature was only in the 50’s but I was looking for excuses and felt cold. I warmed up a little during the ‘warm up’ but my heart rate seemed a little high for the pace I was running. My feet were hurting and I stopped to adjust the laces. I picked the pace up at the one mile mark and it was hard. I already doubted myself. I pushed on and it was still hard – but I was not going to be defeated this time. I had a real mental toughness BREAKTHROUGH with this run. No – I never fell into some kind of bliss zone – it was hard the entire time but I did not stop and I did not slow down (well the first mile was a little fast). I passed a guy and his daughter who were riding bikes – yes they were riding slow – but the guy said that he had never been passed by a jogger before. We were going close to the same pace and I could not slow down – not even just a little bit. I HAD to keep it up!

I got a huge amount of satisfaction from this run! Tempo runs are always hard for me – especially when I run them alone. It is much easier for me to run hard during a race or with someone who is a little faster than me. Others really push me and allow for me to excel. When out there by myself it is a different story.

Miles –

WU – 1 mile
1. 6:21 HR AVE 168
2. 6:40 HR AVE 175
3. 6:39 HR AVE 177
4. 6:40 HR AVE 178
CD – 1 mile

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas - Off Day

On Christmas Eve I went for another 10 mile run. I was not planning for anything fast and the weather was cool. It was perfect conditions. I have been really surprised with myself regarding recovery. I have run 10 + miles each of the last 3 days (if I include the race last Saturday then about 44 miles in 5 days). I would not have been able to do that last year. In addition, I have completed 3 half marathons since Halloween – 2 being in December and only 2 weeks apart. Last year when I raced my first half marathon it took me nearly 2 weeks to recover!

But for this Christmas Eve run, at about 5 miles I started to fatigue. Nothing was hurting I was just tired. I started to do a run walk (I never do these in training and I have only raced it once – during the ironman). But again, the difference it makes. I had been running along at about an 8:10 – 8:15 minute pace. Then I started to walk one minute at each mile. My times slowed to between 8:45 – 9:00 minutes per mile but these miles were so much easier. I am sure that I could have pushed on and finished the 10 miles without walking but I still got the miles in (I did have to get home after all).

On Christmas day I took it easy and rode the trainer for 45 minutes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yasso 800's and the Powerlines

The weather was beautiful after the race. There was a pancake machine – one of those round automated contractions that you see at Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs when they have the all you can eat pancake breakfasts. They also had krispy crème donuts and the other usual fare. I was good – no donuts – but I did have a large stack of pancakes. There was also the beer truck. A lot of Louisiana races have Abita beer but this was Budweiser. I had a small cup of the new Bud ‘Golden Wheat’ – it is okay.

We sat around on the tuff in the infield of the track stadium and swapped race stories. The camaraderie was great. After the race Terry and Eric were going their separate ways. Charles, Jim and I made it back to the house to shower up and then it was lunch time. We met Jim’s wife at the ‘New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood something or other’ and I had a shrimp po-boy. They also had the best soft serve ice cream that I have had in forever. I caught a lot of jabs from the crew as I went back for seconds.

Charles, Scott (Charles’s step son) and I made it down to the French Quarter. We checked into the hotel and Charles and I took a nap – yes we are old -while Scott went out to the quarter. I did not get too much of a nap – maybe an hour – but I felt so much better. I made my way to the quarter and found Scott at a club on Bourbon Street. There was so much Black and Gold. The Saints had lost on Saturday night and Southern Miss was playing in just a few hours. Charles met up with Scott and me about an hour later. We had a couple of drinks but nothing major.

We did the Bourbon Street thing for a few hours including dinner.

I took Monday as an entire day off for recovery. My legs were tired and my feet and Achilles tendon was sore – nothing major but I took the day off. On Tuesday I tried to run a fast 5 miler. I really wanted to see what my heart rate and perceived exertion would have been like if I would have followed my game plan on race day. I set the virtual training partner for 7 minute miles and I hit the trace with zero warm-up. The conditions were just about the same as race day and I pushed the pace. I only lasted one and a half miles at that pace and I cut the run short. I slowed and even walked for a few feet. There was no way that I could hold the 7 minute pace. I was amazed at what a difference a race makes. I can push myself so much harder on race day – but during training I just gave up – I threw in the towel. I clocked only 3 miles in somewhere around 24 minutes. I was a little frustrated but I knew that my legs were just tired. They hurt! They hurt in my calves and the bottom of my feet. My calves are almost never sore…

Being off from work I showered up and took a short nap during the afternoon. I got a text from Jim saying that he and Charles were going to meet up at the track just after 5 PM. I was feeling a bit more rested and decided to get a few miles in – I did not have a plan.

When I got to the track I saw Jim and Steve (the postman – he just finished up IM Arizona) running easily around the track. I joined them and they joked that they were not sure who I was and they were not going to let me run with them - Ironmen only – but then they saw it was me. Ha-ha. So us ironmen ran slow around the track devising our track workout. Charles showed up soon enough. I mentioned that many of the training plans that I have looked at call for Yasso 800’s. Last year I had also talked to Robin (the track coach) about these. Yasso 800’s are ½ mile repeats at your estimated marathon time – for example I would like to qualify for Boston with a 3:15. That would mean that I need to run the ½ mile repeats at 3 minutes and 15 seconds (a 6:30 minute pace). Jim said we need to work up to 10 repeats with a quarter mile easy lap in between. 10 repeats were not going to happen tonight but we gave it a shot.

Jim and I cranked out 3 good sets and then Jim had to leave. I got one more on my own. Jim said that we should be able to work down to 2:5X in just a few weeks – we will have to see about that! With the warm up and cool down I ended up with 7.75 miles (Charles’s knee was hurting him so we nixed the last lap) plus the 3 miles earlier in the day I got a total of 10.75 miles.

Lots of WU / CD with 4 x 800

1. 3:12

2. 3:08

3. 3:07

4. 3:11

On Wednesday I jumped on the bike trainer. I did not have any DVD’s but I was able to watch some television on the internet. This was more base building at a moderate pace – 45 minutes later I was covered in sweat. Not too much of a work out but I was meeting Jim later in the day for a run.

I arrived at Jim’s house and we had a choice of running the Billboards or the Power lines. Both of these are trail runs that are very hilly. I have not run either of these so we picked the Power lines – not because they are easier but because they are closer. We ran along the streets for just under a mile before we tackled the trail.

The Power lines are a swath of clear cut land next to the highway – obviously this was cut for the large telephone and power lines running north and south. Unfortunately this has become somewhat of a dumping ground and it was littered with all kinds of trash. It was not so much that you had to run on it or around it – it was just an eye sore. We started off and immediately had to secure our footing. The undulating hills were a challenge – both going up and down. And the down parts were criss crossed with streams of mud. Most of the crossings were hard packed sand and did not pose much of a problem. I soon found out that the ugly gray / black soil was the most hard packed and I started to pick these places for footing. However, there was one area that this was deceptive. I leaped a small stream and my right foot sank until about mid-calf – the other foot had no place to go and also went in deep. I managed to power myself out of the mud suck but I was now wearing black shoes and socks. It took us 30 minutes to complete the first 3 mile loop. This was challenging!

Jim and I completed one additional 3 mile loop – we were careful to avoid the known pitfalls. I still almost lost my shoes again but we wrapped up the hilly trail workout with 8 miles under our belts. I had actually run / walked 2 miles earlier in the day so I ended up with exactly 10 miles.

My next race is on New Year’s Day – the Steam Whistle 12k and it is right outside my back door!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ole Man River Half Marathon Race Report

I rode down with Charles to New Orleans Saturday afternoon. Scott, Charles’s step son went with us – he is 27 and came along for the ride – more interested in New Orleans than a race. We met up with Jim and his wife. We stayed in a house that is for sale down in New Orleans so we all brought air mattresses. The Saints were playing Saturday night and USM was playing Sunday night – both games would be in the Superdome.

We went to a sports bar not far from the house. Jim’s wife would be doing some Christmas shopping. I was preparing for a PR race and only drank diet coke – all night – about 20 of them. From the kickoff the Saints were in trouble. Jim was sure that Charles had brought bad mojo down to Nawlins – and this would be proven correct. The sports bar was packed and the negative vibe was locked in – we had a good time but the game was rough.

I woke up early to a flat air mattress – yes it leaked – and took a shower and grabbed a small bite – I had a granola bar in my race bag. We stopped for coffee on the way to the race. Eric and Terry had gotten to the race venue early – real early and had great parking spots – we had to walk a little ways.

Race packet pick up went quick and we ditched our outer layers in Eric’s car. The weather was perfect. I wore shorts, a short sleeved shirt, some old tube socks that I cut the end out off (temporary – disposable arm skins if you will) and white compression socks. Gloves would not be needed. This was just about perfect. I was not shivering or shaking like in Baton Rouge two weeks ago.

I had a lot more nervious tension for this race. I knew I could get a PR. I knew that I needed to execute well. I set the ‘virtual trainer’ on the GPS for 7 minute miles. This would be a challenge. As we started to gather for the race start I saw a few more local runner friends. Neil was there with a couple of other guys. I had used Neil to pace off of at a couple of 5K’s last year. I asked him what pace he would be running – he said 7 minute miles. Neil’s half PR was a 1:33 something. I decided to try and follow Neil – big mistake.

There was a lot of congestion at the race start and although the race is chip timed it is gun started. It took a few seconds to get going. I was standing next to Terry and Neil at the start but Terry just simply disappeared. I was able to follow Neil even though he was weaving in and out of traffic like a race car driver. I was about 3 strides behind Neil and hurting when we passed the first mile marker – 6:37. Damn, I was not running my own race. I was going out too hard. My heart rate was sky high but I tried to keep the pace up – I was a 400 feet in front of my ‘virtual trainer’ on the watch – I was going to just try and hold this number steady. I backed off of the pace and watched Neil power on.

However, I was not able to hold that 7 minute pace. The 400 feet dropped to 300 feet in the next mile. I was running this half marathon like a 5k – out of the gate too fast and just trying to hold on. That can work for a 5K but trying to hold on for 11.5 mile – this was hurting. I had to slow down but I still NEEDED a PR. I was not going to let up but at the same time I just could not hold the pace. I would be demoralized if I did not beat my last half marathon time – considering those conditions. I just kept at it.

Mile 1 – 6:37 - Ave HR 172 – Max HR 184
Mile 2 – 6:55 - Ave HR 179 – Max HR 180
Mile 3 – 7:09 - Ave HR 176 – Max HR 179

I had slowed considerably by this time – there was no way to hold 7 minutes a mile and I had already pushed into my red zone - HARD. Once your heart rate is up there – you do not get that back – it is just spent and there is not much recovery that will take place without slowing to a crawl. I had blown up in the first mile and a half! I hunkered down – it was tough being passed and watching people pull away. That does not normally happen in these races. I usually am able to pick a pace and hold it for most of the race and then put together a hard kick at the end. But people were passing me and there was nothing I could do – I definitely was not chatting during this race. My breathing was labored and I was in pain. These next few miles were the slowest of the race. I was burning up and I ditched the sock arm warmers at mile six. I was determined to try to keep up a respectable pace.

Mile 4 – 7:20 - Ave HR 175 – Max HR 178
Mile 5 – 7:24 - Ave HR 173 – Max HR 174
Mile 6 – 7:20 - Ave HR 174 – Max HR 175

I had recovered from the initial shock and was actually starting to be able to push a little bit and race MY race. I passed a couple of guys but it was not with any kind of authority. One of these guys came with me. I could hear him right behind me and we ended up racing side by side for a lot of the race. It was at this point that I passed the guy running backwards. He was trying to set a Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest half marathon time running backwards. He had two spotters with him on either side and a guy filming the race on a tricycle. I was just relieved that I was not going to be beat by the backwards guy. In hind sight he must have been given a head start – Terry was flying on the course and did not pass backwards guy until several mile into the race and I am sure this guy was not running anywhere close to 6 minute miles. I was still pushing hard but feeling better – I was just getting to the half way point.

Mile 7 – 7:15 - Ave HR 173 – Max HR 176
Mile 8 – 7:15 - Ave HR 173 – Max HR 177
Mile 9 – 7:15 - Ave HR 175 – Max HR 177

At this point I was running with two guys – not talking just putting out some consistent miles – working hard but running well – then we heard someone coming up. We were getting passed by a couple of boys. This was the back portion of the out and back course and the people still going out were shutting encouragement to the kids. The boys looked like they were about 8 years old! (In reality they were 13 – they were running strong. I could not hang with them - my mind wandered at this point and I was thinking that I was getting my race handed to me my some little kids – but if I pushed on and tried to out kick them then I would be the jerk - …

At mile ten the pace picked up a little and one of the guys that was running with me fell off – the other guy - well, I just tried to keep his shoulder. He was pushing hard and struggling. I was doing the same. One of the little kids started to crash a little bit and was fading. I passed him up at about mile 11. The other kid was also starting to fade now but was still strong. I also ended up passing this kid at about mile 11.5. And then there was another kid – this one was maybe 16 years old and caught up with the one kid and really started to lift him up. It was pretty awesome! These kids, the 13 and 16 year old ended up passing me in the last half mile or so – I was just done. I even had to stop at the last water station – just for a freaking break – I was so gone. This was the hardest race that I have done!

Mile 10 – 7:06 - Ave HR 177 – Max HR 179
Mile 11 – 7:05 - Ave HR 180 – Max HR 184
Mile 12 – 7:07 - Ave HR 181 – Max HR 184
Mile 13 – 7:00 - Ave HR 183 – Max HR 186
Mile 13.15 – 6:46 – Ave HR – 183 – Max HR 184

I did get my PR by over 3 minutes and I learned a LOT about racing and myself. This was not a smart race but I did push myself HARD – and I did not give up. I will count this as a major BREAKTHROUGH training session!

Terry ended up with a HUGE PR - 1:23:XX and won his age group (15th overall). Neil PR’d with a 1:29:59 and won his age group. I ended up with 3rd in my age group (by 40 seconds – 7:09 pace) with a 1:33:53 but the awards are only 2 deep – oh well.

I had wanted to push hard in this race and I did that - I just pushed too hard at the beginning (my average heart rate was 8 beats higher than Baton Rouge) . I believe that with a smarter race I can bring this time down a little more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Planning for a PR - Ole Man River...

I was looking at my heart rate information from the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon from two weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong – I had a good race – a PR after all – but I know that I can pick up the pace. My heart rate zones are not set in stone – they are in fact pretty generic, but I would like to see a lot more time in ZONE 4 SUB-THRESHOLD. For me that calculates to between 168 – 174 beats per minute. This is where I would like to see all of my time – with the exception of giving everything at the end of the race.

Also, I tried out the ‘virtual partner’ on the Garmin this morning for the first time. I tend to do pretty well in races if I have someone to pace off of – and I am afraid I might be caught in the middle tomorrow. Between Terry who is just too fast for me and Jim who is treating this race like training run. So I just might be able to make this little digital figure on the watch my nemesis for this race. It would also be the first time that I have actually raced by pace. I almost always race short stuff by feel – all out and just try to hold on - and longer stuff strictly by heart rate – never letting myself get too high and blowing up. (Blowing up is a huge fear of mine – it really has not happened BAD yet – I should probably just go out sometime and see what happens – but I really do not want to blow up and FAIL in one of these races).

The weather looks perfect for the race – about 40 degrees and sunny. In addition, this is New Orleans so it should be flat and fast. On top of all of that I am reworking my pre-race routine – this should be a much better race than two weeks ago. I am planning for success!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Half Marathon race plans

I played a little racquetball at lunch on Thursday. After work I jumped back on the trainer and got another 30 minutes. Easy peasy – no sweat (not really – this is the trainer after all).
It was only 30 minutes because I was meeting a group of guys at a local sports bar to discuss this weekend’s race. There are a bunch of us going down to New Orleans for the Ole Man River half on Sunday. There were 5 of us at the table and Charles orders a ‘goal post’ – this is a 120 oz (10 beers) pitcher with a spigot. We had a fun time talking about the upcoming weekend and watching the Colts play. I got some razzing but I did not have a single beer. I did however have a nice grilled chicken salad. Look at me – I’m being good!

After discussions, we unfortunately determined that we are taking about 4 vehicles to the coast (it is only 90 miles – but…). Some are going down on race morning but most are going down the day before. I will be going down the day before. We are staying in a vacant house that is for sale – it has power and water but no furnishings. I am packing an air mattress, blankets, towels, etc.

There is also Saints game on Saturday and we are planning on watching the game in New Orleans – that should be fun. Jim wants to go to the post game radio show – I think I will pass – it will be a late night anyway. For Sunday, there are several heading back but I might just stay one more night and play in the French Quarter. Charles has already got a room near the quarter for him and his step son – Charles said I was welcome – and since I am home alone right now I just might.

I was talking with fast guy Terry during the outing and trying to gauge whether I could hang with him – he said he would be running between 1:25 and 1:30 for the half – (6:30 – 6:51 pace). That is a little too fast for me – however – I have set the bar pretty damn high after my last race. I PR’d with a 1:37:xx under less than ideal conditions. If I do not SMASH that time then … I am working on my game plan.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I hate tempo runs!

I was not able to get a trainer ride in on Wednesday morning and I even skipped the STADIUMS at lunch. I was planning for a ‘BREAKTHROUGH’ running session. I was not sure if this would be mile repeats or a hard tempo run pushing my anaerobic threshold. Either of these are hard runs.

I decided on the tempo run on the treadmill. The treadmills are getting a little bit old at the gym. I always use the same one but it was occupied. It took me a total of three attempts to get a treadmill that would 1. Turn on and 2. Let me set the incline (I always set the incline to 1).

I was all set to go and I thought that I could do a 4 mile tempo run at the pace that I last did mile repeats. I ran 3 x 1 mile @ 6:30 with a quarter mile recovery in between on Saturday. I remember this being challenging but achievable. Last spring I PR’d in the 5K with a 19:09 which equates to a 6:09 pace. That was really fast for me – obviously it was fast for me - it was a PR. But it was fast for me because I was pacing off of someone that I knew and I used them to get that PR. This just does not happen in training. In addition, I feel a bit slower than last year after training so much for ironman. Anyway, I thought that 4 miles at a 6:30 pace would be hard but achievable. I was wrong! I was wrong on a couple of levels. I was not willing to get into the RED zone – the deep RED zone anyway. I wanted to stay at or just barely above my anaerobic threshold. I know that I can average in the low 170’s while running hard for 30 minutes and averaging my heart rate for the last 20 minutes. In the last half marathon I ran (2 weeks ago) with an average heart rate of 168 (with a max at the end of the race at 186). This means that much of that run was in the mid 160’s and the level of exertion was picked up at the end (at mile 11 to be exact). A heart rate in the 160’s is a comfortably hard level for me.

For this tempo run I tried to keep my heart rate between 172 – 175. This is obviously just a little too high for me right now – I can hold it there for a while in a race but not on a treadmill in the middle of the day. I think that I need to back off of the speed in the tempo run and bring it up slowly (last Friday morning after warm up I ran 4 miles at an average pace of 6:52 with an average heart rate of 178 – and a MAX at 185). As much as I hate to say it - This week’s run was just a little too much too soon.

A little frustrated having only run 2 miles at the pace that I wanted I decided to ride the trainer after work. I geared up and set the trainer up for a steady zone 2 ride for 45 minutes. The DVD was on and I was ready. I made it about 5 minutes and then I aborted. My legs were burning at what should have been a pretty easy steady state ride. I gave myself a break and would let the legs have a rest.

I got up this morning and tried the same trainer workout again with much better success. While it was not SUPER easy - all cylinders were firing as they should be. I clocked off the 45 minutes. A good night’s rest makes a huge difference.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Power test - FAILED - NO PR

I took the day off on Monday. My legs were tired and the Sunday Run was harder than expected – I had not taken a day off since the last half marathon. Granted, all of the workouts were not “breakthrough” but my legs were tired none the less.

We had our work holiday on Tuesday so I only got a short bike ride on the trainer. I did a quick 15 minute warm up and then tried to do a 6 minute all out POWER test on the trainer. I have my numbers from the previous run and I try to best it each and every time. This time I met with disappointment. I thought with the previous day completely off I would be able to put together a good run. It did not happen. You would think that 6 minutes all out would not be that tough. But when you know the numbers you want to produce and it is a really hard effort to maintain them – it is painful. The last time I did this run was just before Thanksgiving. I remember that I was grunting and groaning on the trainer and when I got off my legs were burning so bad. I just sat down in an office chair and hurt for a few seconds. Surprisingly, the recovery is really quick and everything was just fine in a couple of minutes.

This time I was just not able to bring the numbers. I brought the power up to just over what I needed to hold and after only 2 ½ minutes I was done. I did another 15 minutes on the trainer – and feeling good I made one more attempt at the 6 minute MAX POWER run. I had the same results.

Today, Wednesday should be STADIUMS but I might have to skip them to get in a “breakthrough” run. I have not decided on that breakthrough – it will either be a hard tempo or mile repeats. Hard stuff none the less.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bike trainer and long run fun.

Having ran a pretty good tempo run on Friday morning I just did some easy reading on the exerbike at the gym for lunch. I needed to finish up a Lance Armstrong book – Lance: The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion. I did not really care for the book. As with all of the Lance books they are completely one sided. You have books like this one by John Wilcockson, who has been following and interviewing Lance for almost his entire career who really thinks that Lance can do no wrong. In the other camp is David Walsh, L. A. Confidentiel and From Lance to Landis, who presents circumstantial evidence and then draws conclusions. I actually like the latter books a bit better but, to be fair, I am not the biggest Lance Armstrong fan. Anyway, I had an easy spin on Friday afternoon – I was planning a long run on Saturday morning.

That Saturday run just did not happen – no fault of my own mind you. The temperature was in the low forties and the rain was pounding. It was miserable conditions here in Southern Mississippi. With it raining outside I jumped on my bike trainer and put on a DVD. Forty five minutes later I was drenched. With school being officially out the gym has restricted hours. I arrived just after 2PM. I hopped on the treadmill with no real workout in mind – I just knew that this was not going to be the 12 – 15 mile run that I wanted – I can’t do that on the treadmill. I warmed up slow for about ¾ of a mile and then I decided to run mile repeats followed by ¼ mile recovery runs – not sure why but I guess to make the best use of the available time. I ended up with 5 miles at just less than 40 minutes. Three of those miles were at 6:30 pace.

The holiday / December running club meeting was at my house on Saturday night. Most of the usuals showed up and we did our officer elections. I scored big with the Dirty Santa by procuring a set of Yanks, running gloves, sunglasses and a couple of gels – not too shabby. However, there was way too much food and drink (actually I drank very little and I did not over indulge too badly on the food). But, the next day my weight was up by over 5 pounds. It tends to do that! – I know that it is water weight from salty food – but still.

The weather had changed by Sunday. Still some rain but much warmer. I got up and did the bike trainer again. I have been enjoying the trainer more than I ever have. I have been doing pretty easy base work but the computer will record all of my stats. I like to compare workout to workout and see my heart rate average, cadence and power averages for the sessions. The computer then spits put a ‘performance’ number. It is average watts compared to average heart rate. The number is not perfect but comparing the same workouts session is fun.

I met up with Charles on the trace on Sunday afternoon. We would try to put together a good long run. I ran 3 miles to meet him just past Clyde station. I ran those miles between 8:15 – 8:30 pace. Charles was running fast also – about his half marathon race pace – 9 minute miles. I slowed to his pace and he never let up. He stung together between 13 – 15 miles at right at 9 minutes per mile. He killed it.

I got about 13 miles at just over 2 hours – there were a couple of long breaks – I got to chew the fat and congratulate Steve (the postman) on his Ironman Arizona. I finished the last two miles of my run at a 7:30 minute pace. It was tough but not race tough. My legs were a little sore after the run – not race sore but…– so I took it easy the rest of the day. I actually skipped the December Beer Club meeting. I really was not in the mood for winter warmers with the outside being 68 degrees – in addition, I did not want to hamper my recovery.

The coming weekend is another half marathon in New Orleans – The Old Man River. The race is on Sunday with the Saints playing the Cowboys on Saturday night. New Orleans will be on fire.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Marathon Training - throwing down the gauntlet

After last weekend’s PR half marathon run on less than idea training and race conditions I have decide to try and put together a fast half and full marathon run. Maybe I can actually run a full-all-out half run this next weekend – I have signed up for the Ole Man River Half in New Orleans. This race is Sunday, December 20th. That is only two weeks since the last half in Baton Rouge and I do not expect to make great gains in running speed but I have more speed in me. I only hope to be able to run the entire race with race intensity (not lollygag and talk and stuff) and see where the time falls. Looking at the race calculators, according to my fastest ever 5K time I should be running these half’s nearly 10 minutes faster than I am. I think that calculator is pushing it but I would like to see how close I can get.

So the goals for the first quarter of the year are set – they will be running goals with cycling base building in between. Yes I still want to push the pace on the bike. I have read many articles that state a fall marathon will not help an ironman time. And I can only image that a spring marathon will in no way whatsoever help sprint and Olympic triathlons. That being said I am finally pumped about my training!

Jim and I met up at campus on Wednesday morning for mile repeats. The weather was warm and humid. We did a campus run with a 1 mile warm-up and cool down with the 4 one mile runs in the middle. We were not killing ourselves but clicked off the following – the rest interval was 3 minutes:

1. 6:42
2. 6:54
3. 7:05
4. 6:52

This was a good effort but the times will be dropping in the coming weeks. At lunch I did the STADIUMS. It was getting cooler and there was a strong wind. Having done the mile repeats I decided to be a follower and just kind of go through the motions. I still felt strong and performed well but I was not giving it everything I had. We pulled up short on the STADIUMS (10 X on 1:45) because I had a new challenge in mind. There is a LARGE staircase on the back of the Thad Cochran building. No one uses this stair case – it is like 3-4 flights of stairs – this is longer than the STADIUMS. So after 10 sets of STADIUMS we went to the back of the Coch. I had wanted to try out 5 sets on 2 minutes. The first set took 22 seconds up and a full 40 seconds to run down/recover. This was a damn hard workout – at the bottom we rested 1 minute. Vic and Richard were with me for the next two but were sucking wind at that point. I did just one more set at intensity and called it a day with 4 x the back of the Coch. This is tough stuff - when the heat hits it will be EPIC.

I had an exam on Thursday morning so I studied instead of exercising. I would have rather rode the trainer and watch a movie but… priorities. At lunch I played around in the racquetball courts to let the legs rest a bit. But after work it was back on the bike trainer. I got a good 45 minutes in a sweat-fest.

On Friday morning Jim was supposed to meet me at the campus for a tempo run. Something came up and I ran alone. It was a good run in the cold. It showed that I am not in position to meet my running goals at this point. I am going to need some solid training to run the paces that I want. I love a challenge.

TEMPO run:

1. 8:29 Warm up
2. 6:41
3. 7:02
4. 6:51
5. 6:57
6. 7:48 Cool down

I have been working on which races I will do next year and I have put together a list.  This is not set in stone (except for the races up to the Mardi Gras Marathon).
Tentative Race Schedule (first half of 2010):

12/20-Ole Man River Half – New Orleans
01/01-Stream Whistle 12k – Hattiesburg (on the trace)
01/17-Louisiana State 25K Championship – New Orleans
01/31-"The WALL" Louisiana State 30K Championship – New Orleans
02/XX-Run for Love 5K
02/28-Mardi Gras Marathon – New Orleans
03/19-St Thomas 5K
04/18-Ironman 70.3 New Orleans
06/05-Heatwave Classic Triathlon
07/XX-Sunfish Summer Triathlon
07/24-Heart O’Dixie Triathlon

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Setting new goals

So after the race Charles and I went to his parent’s house. He had warned me in advance about the soup. Now the soup is delicious and did warm us up – but it is a vegetable cream cheese soup. I believe the vegetables were in the soup to thin it out. Melted cream cheese. Nothing wrong with that. They seem like very nice people. I guess Charles did not far too far from the tree.

We met up with Eric at the Abita Brew Pub Restaurant in Abita Springs. I had actually wanted to go there for some time. The brew pub has all of Abita’s beers on tap as well as a specialty beer from another brewer – they had Arrogant Bastard - wow. Eric and Charles both had draft Andy Gator’s while I drained several Diet Cokes.

I went for a group bike on Sunday and got to congratulate John “the legend” for his successful completion of his second Ironman in 2009. That is a true accomplishment. On Monday I was undecided what to do at lunch and Jim gives me a call and says “Let’s go for a run.” The legs were a little sore and it was chilling outside – it started to rain on us to boot. Jim has been looking for a challenge as well and we may put together a real marathon run. So, both Jim and Charles are doing the Ole Man River ½ marathon in two weeks (12/20) and have talked me into it. See – and I thought Charles would never invite me to another race again. This half marathon will be a real test - a true PR run.  On a side note - I ended up 4th in my age group for the Baton Rouge Half Marathon...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baton Rouge Half Marathon

There were five of us planning to run the Baton Rouge Beach half Marathon this past Saturday. Only three of us made it – Me, Charles and Eric. Terry was sick and had a house of sick kids. He had been training and I am sure that he was upset that he missed out on the race. Jim – not sure – I think the weather played a big part in him skipping the race.

I drove over to Charles’s house Friday afternoon. The sky was bright blue but there was a chill in the air. As we neared Baton Rouge the sky turned gray and it started to rain. The rain turned to a rain / snow – or as we called it in the Midwest – a wintery mix. It was cold and nasty.

We met up with Eric in the hosting hotel but we were a little bit early. The registration had not yet opened so we went and had a drink at the bar. This would foreshadow the rest of the event.

The Baton Rouge Beach race is pretty special in that it has a pre-race dinner and post race food – both of which are fantastic. We are talking jambalaya, seafood pasta, alligator – all really good stuff. Oh yeah, and beer.

I got my fill of all of the good food and my share of the beer. After talking with many of the other participates Charles and I parted ways with Eric. Eric was staying at a friend’s house while Charles and I were staying at another hotel that Terry had reserved. Charles and I checked in just in time to enjoy the last 30 minutes of happy hour. I made a grave mistake and switched to run and diet coke – fewer calories. With just a few minutes left in happy hour the barkeep came by and suggested that we double up while the drinks were free - ouch. Charles and I went up to the room as happy hour ended but we needed to procure something to eat prior to the race.

We went back downstairs and talked the barkeep into finding us some cereal or whatnot. She was very accommodating. So, this is not my pre-race routine – you know – tying one on. Charles said that he heard me exercising my demons in the bathroom at about 3 in the morning. I am sure that all of these shenanigans did not bode well for his race either. Many apologies.

I awoke feeling like death warmed over. It was about 32 degrees outside and I was hurting. Eric met us at our hotel and we drove to the race site. I was resting my head against the head rest in the back seat of the truck. We all got out and wished each other well as we froze in the race starting line.

The race is chip timed but there is not a race mat at the start. The race start is gun timed. We never heard the gun but the crowd of close to 1000 started to move. I ran a little ahead of Eric and Charles and just tried to fall into a groove. Mile one came up extremely slow – and quick – at the same time (7:08 – by my watch). I thought about pulling up for a minute or so and waiting for Eric or Charles and just taking this race easy. But like a hair shirt I needed to pay for the nights transgressions. I kept the pace up. The miles slowly clicked off on the light rolling course through the LSU campus and along a lake (hence the Beach portion of the race name). The mile markers were each manned by different groups of volunteers that were competing for a best water stop station prize. That was a lot of fun. There were people in costumes and many a girl scantily clad – they traditionally win the prize I later heard. It did not hurt that the temperature was in the lower 30’s – at least there was no rain for these troopers.

In races of this distance my mind tends to wander and I rarely am able to stay on task. This is a mental problem for me. It is hard for me to maintain that hard line between racing hard and blowing up – I almost always tend to back off a little bit. When I do this I get chatty and look for anyone to talk with. I found a couple of guys with the New Orleans ½ Iron race shirt on and struck up a conversation. This was the middle portion of the race and my mile times slowed. I was still pushing hard – just not race hard. I missed the mile marker at mile 12 and told the guy I was talking to that I needed to pick it up and finish strong. I sprinted hard the last ¾ of a mile and finished the race in a low 1:37 – just about even for my ½ marathon PR – I’m not sure of my official time yet. Eric took a spill during the race and still ended up with a PR – 1:48 and Charles finished just behind Eric well under his goal time of less than 2 hours. All things considered we all raced well.

I really want to actually prepare for a ½ marathon and push hard the entire race and see just where I might end up. I was disappointed and encouraged at the same time. I have only run about 20 miles per MONTH for the past 2 months and my longest run by far (at least double) was the last ½ marathon that I ran at Halloween.

I am going to put together a few weeks of REAL training – throw in a taper and give it everything. Depending on the results I just might try a Boston Qualifying run at the Mardi Gras Marathon in February.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

STADIUMS - cancelled...

Cool weather and wet eliminated the STADIUMS for the week. That was probably a good thing. It has been about a month since I tackled that obstacle. I am sure that my legs would be sore for several days after another EPIC day at the STADIUM. So this brought us indoors to the coliseum. This is the basketball arena. Since the staircases are shorter this is much easier. We alternated doing single steps and double steps on 1 minute. Doing the single steps takes less than 15 seconds and doing the doubles takes just under 10 seconds. Then you run back down the stairs and recover for about 30 seconds. We got 40 sets in 40 minutes. This was a good work out but not like the STADIUMS. We were wondering with the much cooler weather if even the STADIUMS are not the STADIUMS any more. We will have to see next week.  We did about 15 minutes of abs after the stair climbing.

On the bike front - it has been cool/cold and raining this week.  So, I have been riding the trainer at home. My father upgraded and gave me his old 32 inch CRT (big and heavy) television. I brought it back home from the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I hooked this up in front of my trainer. I have been watching a lot of television on DVD. I read a book recently about cycling base building and I am trying to put some of this to practice. I have been riding a lot of steady state workouts – mostly about 45 minutes long (an hour of television on DVD just happens to be 42 minutes). My trainer hooks up to the computer and I have been setting a constant workout by time and watts. It has been interesting to compare the different workouts – it records watts (constant) and heart rate, cadence, etc. This week I have logged over 3 hours on the trainer. That is more than I have used it for the last 6 months. Granted I ride a lot more outside in the summer but I think that this is a good start.

I am heading to Baton Rouge for the ½ marathon on Friday for a fun race weekend.