Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back To Reality

This past weekend I was in Cleveland (Medina, OH) and Ann Arbor, MI - visiting a friend of mine from college and going to the UofM vs Wisconsin football game.

The weekend was great - complete with a Michigan victory and visits in Ann Arbor to Dominick's and Cottage Inn (I also got a chipati carry-out from Pizza Bob's). Of course, this means that I overate and consumed waaay more alcohol than my body is used to now.

I returned this afternoon and have been "going and blowing" ever since. I led the Israeli dance group at my synagogue. When I got back, I quickly ate dinner and helped put the kids to be and then started to set up for Rosh HaShana Eve dinner tomorrow night (we're having 18 people for dinner). I then logged into work for a bit. I'm finally sitting down and watching football!

I'm not sure what kind of running week I'll have since it is Rosh HaShana on Tuesday and Wednesday. I should try to run at least one of the days, if not both. With Jewish Holidays comes lots of food...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Early (No-So) Rainy Run

My younger son was up in the middle of the night again. So when I couldn't get back to sleep and the clock was showing 4:50 on it, I decided to just brush my teeth and get into my running clothes already (my alarm was going off in 25 minutes anyway...what's the difference???)

I hemmed and hawed about my first big decision of the morning. To run outside or at the gym. Over the past 24 hours, the weather here has been much cooler and it started to rain yesterday afternoon and continued through the night. At 4am I could hear the wind swooshing around outside and the drizzle hitting the windows. Cold rain - YUCK! Treadmill at 5am - BORING! What's a guy to do????

I decided to grab my reflector vest and go outside. It ended up being an excellent choice :-)

I got outside at 5:15am and noticed that it had stopped raining. It also was not as cold as I was expecting (it ended up being in the high-50s at that time, not the low 50s/high 40s). I had put a bunch of Led Zeppelin albums on my iPod shuffle last night - I turned it on and the song that popped up was "The Rain Song" - whoa!

It ended up being a really nice run. It ended up raining lightly on me for about 10 minutes - but it was a refreshing drizzle - not the bone-chilling downpour that I was dreading. I just wish it would get lighter a bit earlier. Running for a full hour in the darkness is a downer. I mean, at least give me the sunrise as an incentive for exercising on the early side!

Today's stats - 5.51 miles in 57:53. 10:31/mile pace. 147 avg HR, 161 max HR. This put me at 20 miles for the week and 782 miles for the year (yes...I am still on pace for 1,000 miles this year!). The Brooks Defyance shoes I bought 5 weeks ago now have 111 miles on this rate, I'll need another pair by Chanukah!

No more running this week. And probably no more blogging. I'll be heading up to Ann Arbor for tomorrow's UofM vs Wisconsin football game. GO BLUE!!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Six on the W&OD Trail

Today I was scheduled to be in Northern Virginia again. I decided that I would pack up my gym bag, leave earlier to beat the traffic, run on the W&OD Trail and shower at the Fitness First in Reston.

I left the house around 6:25am and got around the Beltway pretty quickly. Car was parked in front of the gym by 7am and 5 minutes later I was running on the trail. I pick it up at the 17.5 mile marker - my plan was to run towards Herndon again, this time to the 20.5 mile marker and then come back.

The plan was also to keep my HR under 150 as much as possible. I want to get back to training at a slower pace to improve aerobic efficiency.

The weather was wonderful once again - temperatures in the high-50s and clear skies. Towards the end of my run the sun was getting higher in the sky and starting to warm things up a bit.

It was a great run - 6 miles at a 10:13/mile pace. Average HR was 149 and max was 165 (I don't remember getting that high during the run...perhaps it was while I was going over an overpass or something). More importantly, whenever my HR started getting into the low 150s I slowed down a tad and brought it into the 140s. This made for a nice, steady run. Too bad I had to go to work this morning, as I would have loved to run twice as long on this trail!

This was the third day in a row that I have run. I'm compressing my schedule this week as I'll be heading to Ann Arbor, MI this weekend to see the UofM Football game! Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to squeeze in a run this weekend, so I'm trying to get some miles in during the week.

I'll likely take a rest day tomorrow and then run on Friday morning. So far I have close to 15 miles for the week, so I still may be able to make it a 20 mile week with a 5 miler on Friday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Running in the Dark

Although I got a short run in yesterday, I wanted to run this morning. I planned to get up early so I could be home by 6:30am to help out with the kids.

I set the alarm for 5:15am. For some reason, I woke up at 5am. This happened to me frequently while I was training for the marathon - it was like my body knew the alarm was going to go off shortly so I got up anyway.

Of course I contemplated going back to sleep. But then I remembered how wonderful the weather has been early in the morning and I did not want to miss my chance.

I was outside by 5:30am. It was dark. It wasn't as crisp as some of the previous mornings were, but it was definitely comfortable. The skies were overcast so no stars were shining. Just me, the streetlights and the other crazy runners out there (before I left my neighborhood I crossed paths with 4 other runners!).

The theme of today's run was S-L-O-W. I tried to hit the breaks whenever I saw my heart rate going into the 150s. Again, it worked for the first 2 or 3 miles and after that my body just found its pace and stayed with it. Overall the run was 5.5 miles in 59:22 (10:47/mile pace) - 149 average HR, 163 max HR.

I took my iPod with me this morning. I normally don't listen to music while running in the dark, but for some reason I took it with me. My run started out with REM's Superman, and included some songs by Phil Collins, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Daughtry and others.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Short Run During a Work Break

This morning I slept in until 6:15am - so no morning run for me :-(

I got out of bed and started making the kids' breakfasts and lunches, put up coffee, etc. I got into the office before 8am and full-steam ahead (that coffee sure does help!)

At 9:30am I had hit a lull. No conference calls until 12 noon and I was waiting for others to get back to me before I could proceed any further. I could either open up the paper and do the Sudoku or slip into my running clothes for a quick 3 miler.

Hmmm...both were tempting - but the run won out! (I didn't feel too guilty as I knew that I was in conference calls from 12 to 5 straight - which meant eating lunch at my desk - so my run was kind of an early lunch break)

I ran my lake loop - which I hadn't run in about 3 months. It was warm and sunny outside...the temperatures were making their climb into the 70s as I was making my way to the lake.

I took it easy, but seem to want to speed up about 2 miles into the run for some reason. This has been happening to me often and I think I'll need to make an effort to re-teach myself what a slow, controlled run is. Although my average HR was 151, I ended around 164...there's no reason for me to be up that high on a 3 mile easy run.

I finished the loop in 32:27 - a 10:01/mile pace. I quickly showered and popped back into work. Working from home definitely has some awesome advantages! (as I typed out that sentence, my son just arrived home from school and both of my boys came up to my office to greet me - yet another reason working from home is great!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Peaceful Sabbath Run

Today is the Jewish Sabbath (or Shabbat as we call it).  Throughout my marathon training I did my long runs on Shabbat - waking up early so I could finish up my long run, get home eat and shower and get ready to walk to our synagogue (1/4 mile down the street) by 9:45am.

Many people call Shabbat "the day of rest".  However, after spending months waking up before the sun rose and going for a run - some starting around 5:15am - my Shabbat was no longer a "day of rest".  However, long runs at this hour are definitely peaceful.  And today was another peaceful Shabbat run.

Again, however, it was not a day of rest :-(

The day started in our household around 5:10am when my youngest ran into our room - bright-eyed, bushy tailed and ready to start the day.  Grrrrrr.  We tried to get him to go back to sleep, but by 5:45, I realized it was not going to happen.  I put him in front of the TV by 6am, got in my running clothes and out the door I went.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL!  Low 50s.  No humidity.  Clear skies.  A crisp morning for running.  Delicious.

My plan was to do my 6-mile route or 7-mile route - depending on how I felt (turn onto Kentlands Blvd or continue on to Darnestown Road and finish back on Main Street).  Also in the plans was to take it easy.  I wanted to go slowly - see if I could still do a slow easy run after all those weeks of speedwork in preparation for the Kentlands 5K.

My first mile was 10:45 pace and HR in the low 140s.  I kept my pace and HR down nicely through the first 3 miles - even with the hills.  After that I started to speed up a bit - I had my iPod with me and as I normally end up doing, I run to the cadence of the music at times.  Not that I had thumpin' tunes with me - it was mainly Jack Johnson with a few miscellaneous tracks of Plain White Ts, Fastball and Smashmouth.

A strange thing that happened towards the end of my run - about 50 yards in front of me, I saw a fox quickly darting across Quince Orchard Road.  At 7:30am in the daylight (I thought foxes mainly ran around at night).  I slowed down and waited to ensure the fox was deep in the woods on my side of the road before I went further.  Last thing I want to do on a run is be chased by a fox (unless it is a relative of mine!)

As I approached Kentlands Blvd, I felt good, so I pushed it to the seven mile run.  All in all it was a glorious run - 7.33 miles in 1:16:36, a 10:28/mile pace and an average HR of 150.  And the start to a peaceful Shabbat (although definitely NOT a day of rest!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Pictures from Parks Half Marathon

Here are a few more pictures of me from the Parks Half Marathon:

I'll likely go out for an easy run tomorrow morning.  I'm going to really try to keep the pace easy - and perhaps do 6 or 7 miles.  It should be another crisp and clear morning...great for a run!

Follow-up From The Parks Half Marathon

During my post from The Parks Half Marathon, I mentioned that there was a runner that had collapsed around 11.5 miles.  It ends up he had heat stroke.  My sister sent me this tidbit from a weekly newsletter that she receives from The Sergeant's Program:
  • Hi Everyone, The doctors feel he's progressing: no fever, blood pressure has stabilized, heart and brain are clear and healthy. They are concerned about the liver and kidneys, but they can deal with that if need be.   His wife told us the story of how he collapsed. She was waiting at the finish line wondering what was taking him so long. Meanwhile, he was already at Suburban for that hour and a half, faceless/nameless as he had no ID. He fell, and a woman stopped to help him (a trainer), and right behind her was a nurse. One ran to call 911 while the other elevated his head and feet. Apparently, the ambulance couldn't get down to the path so these two women along with another 2 women, carried him over to where the ambulance was going to pull up. His wife thinks these women saved his life. The nurse who saw his name on his shirt (before it was cut off him), googled it and tracked down his home phone number. His wife was so overwhelmed with what this stranger did for him...she couldn't speak. 
Amazing story of how runners help each other.  Also, a very scary story about the runner having no ID.  I'm glad that I wear my RoadID on my shoe.  Every runner should get one of these - just in case a situation like the one above happens.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Post-Race Easy Run

I went out for an easy run this morning. My usual 4.4 mile neighborhood loop.

At 5:45am when I started, it was still dark outside - and a cool 52 degrees! Oh - how wonderful Sunday's race would have been with that weather.

I tried to keep the HR down as much as I could - I did pretty well with a 149 bpm average - however, there were many points of the run where I got lost in the music (I was listening to Ben Kweller this morning) and I was running a bit too fast. I guess that's what I get for doing all of the speedwork/tempo runs over the past 6 weeks.

I ended up with a 10:32/mile pace....and a big smile on my face for running on such a beautiful morning!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Few Days of Rest

I'm still a little sore after Sunday morning's race, however, not so sore that I couldn't go out and run a few miles.  However, I'm going to take it easy for a few days before running again.  Maybe I'll go for a morning run Thursday or Friday.

In the meantime, I'll try to hit the gym and do either the rowing machine or elliptical trainer.

BTW - the weather this morning was wonderful.  It's in the low 60s and a little overcast.  Great running weather.  Why couldn't it have been like this on Sunday?????

Monday, September 15, 2008

Parks Half Marathon Race Report

I planned to run the Parks Half Marathon for the second straight year. It is a beautiful course which is mostly on the trail of the Montgomery County, MD portion of Rock Creek Park. It's rolling hills through the woods with a few longer hills (which I had totally forgotten about from last year...go figure!). The race finishes in downtown Bethesda, MD to a horde of cheering fans and live music. It's a great race and a great finish!

My younger sister had wanted to run a half marathon as well and I gave her advice in her training for this one. She trained for the past two months and she was ready and psyched! We went to pick up our race packets together on Saturday afternoon and I picked her up bright and early on Sunday morning.

Last year's race I decided to take it easy and not push myself since I had to drive to Raleigh, NC later that night. I kept my Heart Rate in the 160s for most of the race (average HR was 166) and I was able to finish strong with a 2:16:50. I felt I was in better shape - or at least faster - this year with my 25:17 time at the Kentlands 5K two weeks ago. So my plan was to keep to a 10:00/mile pace and hope to finish the race in 2:11 this year.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.

Last year's race, the starting temperature was in the high-40s and very little humidity (the high temperature later that day was 64 degrees). Yesterday starting temperatures were in the 70s and humid (high temperatures yesterday were in the mid-90s!). Even though most of the trail is shaded, you can't get away from the humidity.

My race started a bit shaky as well. The Port-a-Potty lines were long, but I needed to go before the race. By the time I got out of the port-a-potty, the race has started, and the wave that I wanted to go out with - which had the 9:45 to 10:15 pace group - had already left. I ended up starting with the last wave of 12:00/mile + pace runners - and everyone else who got caught up in the Port-a-Potty lines!

The first 1.75 miles are on Viers Mill Road - a rather hilly main road in Rockville. I remember the beginning of last year's race cruising down this stretch of the race feeling really comfortable and cool. This year's race was not as comfortable :-( I could already feel the soupiness and stickiness of the air. By the time I entered the Rock Creek Trail, I was already sweating and my HR was already in the low 160s. I knew it was going to be a tough run.

My first few mile splits had me on target with pace, however, my heart rate was getting up there:
Miles 1-2: 19:21; avg HR 152, HR at split 163 (I didn't see the Mile 1 marker...)
Mile 3: 10:01; avg HR 168, HR at split 169
Mile 4: 10:35; avg HR 167, HR at split 171 (this included the first water stop and a longer hill which I decided to walk instead of run)
Mile 5: 10:04; avg HR 177, HR at split 173

I was still on pace with my goal, however, the weather was definitely pushing my heart rate up. To give some perspective, earlier in the week I did a tempo run at a 9:30/mile pace. It was 10-15 degrees cooler that morning and my HR over the 5 miles was a 161 average. At this point over the first 5 miles of the race, I was running about a 10:00/mile pace and my average HR was probably close to 170. My average HR of mile 5 - 177bpm - started to worry me, however, I was going to stick to my plan. I had run my best 5K a few weeks ago without considering my HR and just focusing on pace...and I was determined to try the same strategy here.

During these first five miles, I started to pick out runners that were running at a similar pace as me. Throughout the race I would see many of these people - they would go ahead or fall behind and then re-emerge later in the race. I had kind of found an informal pace group, although none of us really acknowledged each other. I'm sure that if I had started to strike up a conversation with someone in the pack that it would have been fine; however, we were all focused on running (OK, some of the runners were plugged into their MP3 players...) and chit-chat was not in the plans for any of us.

The next few miles were tougher. At water stations, more water was going on my head than in my mouth to help cool me down. My HR started to hit the 180s (max HR for me is around 187). I knew I could push myself at this heart rate, but for how long????

The nice part about these four miles is that they were very familiar to me. I used to run this part of Rock Creek Trail when I lived in Bethesda, MD in 1999 and 2000. I wasn't much of a runner then. I didn't enter races - I just ran for the exercise, for the solitude and to get outside every once in a while. And this was one of my favorite spots to run. Here's my splits over the next four miles:
Mile 6: 10:12; average HR 179, HR at split 183 (included water station)
Miles 7-8: 20:38; average 183, HR at split 186 (I didn't see the Mile 7 marker)
Mile 9: 10:09; average HR 187, HR at split 189

I was still on pace for a 2:12 at this point, which still would have been a PR for me. However, I was totally wiped. I tried thinking of some of the running quotes that I had read in Runner's World the night before - about not quitting, about leaving it all on the course, about pushing your body to do more. I just couldn't find it in me anymore.

In my past half marathons, it was usually my leg muscles hurting which slowed me down in the final miles. My quad or calf would tighten up or my knee would have some pain. However, today my legs could do it...I was just beat (and beet red!)

I started to walk some. Then I found it difficult to start running again once I started walking, but I kept trying to make myself run. The kicker came for me at about 11.5 miles. There was a runner down on the side of the trail with EMT personnel working on him. I recognized him as one of the people who was running at my pace earlier. I immediately thought to myself that if I had pushed myself too hard, that guy could have been me. At that point I was convinced that I just needed to get to the finish line - no more pushing myself past my comfort zone. I thought of my wife and my two boys who were waiting for me at the finish line. I needed to get to them at the finish line - I couldn't be that guy on the side of the trail. Even if it meant walking the rest of the way.

My splits at the end are pretty embarrassing for me to post - lots of walking (I believe miles 11 and 13 were almost ALL walking):
Mile 10: 11:16 (avg HR 187, HR at split 174)
Mile 11: 13:11 (avg HR 177. HR at split 179)
Mile 12: 12:18 (avg HR 182, HR at split 172)
Mile 13: 13:24 (avg HR 172, HR at split 186)

I was able to run the last .1 mile. It's a very uplifting scene - the trail goes into a tunnel for about a quarter of a mile and emerges in downtown Bethesda. (Here's a photo from Edward Johnson showing me emerging from the tunnel)  Spectators cheer everyone as they leave the tunnel and you round a corner and see the finish line. I saw Sherry and the kids and my brother-in-law and my nieces cheering me on as I approached the finish line. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch - 2:22:24 - a good 10 minutes over my anticipated time...I was disappointed to say the least.

Here's me trudging to the finish line:

A few minutes later my sister crossed the finish line with much different emotions. I actually did not see her cross - I was re-hydrating and getting out of my sweat-soaked clothes and into the dry shirt, shorts and socks I had sent along in my "checked baggage". However, afterwards she mentioned that she felt so great crossing the finish line. What an accomplishment for her! She had just finished her first Half Marathon! Her first run over 10 miles! I definitely remember that feeling and I'm glad that she was exhilarated after crossing the finish line.

Here's a picture of me and my sister after the race:

It was great to hear her excitement after the race and it helped lift me up a bit after my disappointing time. Even better was seeing the kids playing together and how much fun they were having!

For me, there will be more successful races and better chip times. However, after hearing from my sister and seeing Sherry and the boys, I knew it was better to focus on the positives. I completed a long morning run on a beautiful trail that is close to my home. Despite the hot and humid conditions I finished without injury and with my family there to cheer me on. Really...what can be better than that?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Park Half Marathon - UGH!

Official chip time - 2:22:25.

No PR.  Actually, this was worse than my time for this race last year.

I don't have time to post a full report now, but the main story here was the weather.  Starting temperatures at the beginning of the race was somewhere in the low 70s with humidity.  Last year, the same race had starting temperatures in the low 50s and no humidity.

I followed my race plan - run at 10:00/mile pace.  However, with the heat and humidity, my HR was waaaaay too high and I broke down about mile 10.

I'll post the splits that I have and more details about the race later.  It was just a disappointing race for me.

On the brighter side, my younger sister ran the race as well and completed her first Half Marathon!  Go Lauren!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Race Prep

Tomorrow morning is the Parks Half Marathon.  I picked up my race packet this afternoon, I have been drinking a good amount of water and gatorade today (and cut down significantly on the coffee and soda - and no beer during the Michigan game), and I had a pasta dinner.

All in all, I'm ready!

A few last minute items to go through tonight and tomorrow morning.  First, I'll need to figure out which shirt I'm wearing and pin my race bib to it.  The weather is going to be a low of 70 degrees tonight - so tomorrow's race will be warm and muggy.  ICK!  I'll most likely wear my Fleet Feet singlet - I have a U of Michigan tank top - which I wore during last year's race -however, given how poorly UofM played today against Notre Dame, I'm not so sure I want to flaunt my UofM apparel tomorrow.

I think I have my nutrition/hydration plan down for tomorrow.  I'll have a granola bar either on the way to the race or when I get there.  I'll bring 3 GUs - I'll most likely only use 2 during the race, but if the weather is really humid and hot I'll have an extra one just in case.  As for hydration - I'm not going to bring my water belt and I'll rely on the water stops on the course.  I'm hoping I don't regret this decision later on...

The one thing that I have have not figured out yet is my race plan.  In the past I have run according to heart rate, however, two weeks ago I ran my 5K trying to stay at a particular pace and I set a PR.  I'll definitely have my heart rate monitor with me tomorrow, however, I'm thinking of trying to keep to a 10:00/mile pace the whole way through - or even better, for the first 9-10 miles and then speed up for the last 3 or 4.   And, if I decide to do this, should I stick with the "official pacer"?

I have conflicting thoughts about running with a pace group.  On one hand, it's a great way to keep a consistent pace throughout the race and meet people who are at the same level/speed as you.  However, I kind of feel like I'm cheating a bit...I mean, someone else is leading you through the race.  Am I crazy to think that this cheapens the race time if I use a pacer?

I'll try to get to bed early so I can get a good night sleep before waking up early for the 7am race start.  Hopefully I'll post a race report tomorrow afternoon while watching some NFL football!

Friday, September 12, 2008


With the Parks Half Marathon on Sunday, I'm going to rest and not run much leading up to the race.  I may do a short run today - two to three miles - but otherwise my plan is to rest and hydrate today and tomorrow.

My biggest challenge - not to over-eat and to eat more carbs and less fat and sugar over the next two days.  No chips and beer in front of the Michigan / Notre Dame game tomorrow afternoon.  Water, gatorade and pretzels - here I come!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Easy Run Becomes Tempo Run

My plan this morning was for an easy run.

I had to be in Northern Virginia this morning for work, so I decided that I would get in my running gear, pack up my work clothes in my gym bag and hit the gym in Reston, VA.

Last night before hitting the sack, I had an even more brilliant idea - try to find how close the W&OD Trail is to the Reston Fitness First. Perhaps I could run on the trail instead of the treadmill, and then just go to the gym to shower. I checked it out on the internet and found out that the W&OD Trail is right across the street from the Reston Fitness First - what luck!

New plan was 2.5 miles West on the W&OD Trail to the Herndon train station - mile markers 17.5 to 20.0 - and then back.

I got out of the house later than I wanted to - at 7am - but I still got on the trail by 7:45am (for DC traffic, travelling 27 miles in 45 minutes is actually quite impressive!). My original plan was to do an easy run, however, that soon changed.

There was something about this morning that wanted me to go a bit faster than my normal, easy plodding jog. The weather was great - overcast skies and 64 degrees. The trail was nice - a wide asphalt path with a gravel path to the side of it. No cars on the trail - just bikes, runners and walkers. Each half mile was marked on the trail which actually made the run go by quickly as well (direct feedback every 4.5 to 5 minutes!)

The scenery wasn't so great - the part of the trail that I ran still runs through some pretty highly developed areas of Reston and Herndon - and it seemed like there were power lines overhead the entire run - however, there was just a great feeling not having to share the route with cars, trucks and buses. I also had my iPod shuffle with me and a mix of fairly uptempo songs. So everything was pointing to a faster run.

There were a few times that the trail crossed a street in which I had to stop. Since I was running a bit faster I didn't mind the short breaks which got my heart rate back down. Most other road "crossings" were overpasses or underpasses which created some small hills on the trail. Since the hills were not too steep or long, I "attacked" the hills when they came - trying not to lose my pace.

I ended up doing the 5 miles in 47:13 - a bit under a 9:30/mile pace. My HR for the first half averaged at 155 bpm and the second half at 167 bpm. I was a bit concerned about how much my HR went up in the second half. Sure, I did run the second half a little faster (40 seconds over 2.5 miles) and since it was only a 5 mile run I was fine. However, as I choose a pace for this weekend's Half Marathon, I see that a 9:30/mile pace is going to be too fast for me at this point. I started going into the anaerobic HR zone at about 4 miles (for me that's around 170 bpm) - and I know that I won't be able to sustain that for 9 miles. I'm going to try to stick to a 10:00/mile pace the best I can this weekend - that would still get me a PR of 2:11 if I can stick to it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Treadmill Run During MNF

I executed my plan for last night and hit the gym after the kids were in bed. I got to the treadmills, changed one of the televisions in that area to the Monday Night Football game (can I reiterate just how happy I am to be back at Fitness First instead of Bally's!), hopped on a treadmill and started to stretch a bit.

Just as I was starting the treadmill, a neighbor of mine showed up and took the treadmill next to me. We started to chat, so I began my run at a slower pace - about an 11:00/mile pace - for the first mile and a half. At that point, the conversation between us died down, so I brought my speed up a notch to a 10:00/mile and started to concentrate more on the game.

I would like to run the race this weekend as close to a 10:00/mile pace as possible. My Personal Record in the Half Marathon is 2:15:54 (although I did clock a 2:13 and change during the first half of the Frederick Marathon...) and I would love to set a new PR. That would be two PRs in two weeks as I just beat my previous 5K PR by more than 1 minute!

I'm won't blog too much about the game (the biggest news was that Aaron Rogers looked very good - this helped save face for the entire Green Bay Packers organization for dissing Brett Favre this offseason). I ended up running 5.75 miles in 58:40 - about a 10:13/mile pace. The good thing is that I held the 10:00/mile pace for a good 4.25 miles, and my heart rate stayed in the 140s and 150s the entire time (average HR was 144).

As long as the weather cooperates on Sunday, I'll be shooting for a 2:11 which is equivalent to a 10:00/mile pace. I'll need to remember to rest up towards the end of the week, hydrate on Friday and Saturday and carb load a bit. It sounds like a great it's time to Just Do It!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yen For Nachos

Since I'll be running on the treadmill tonight for a while during the football game, I was thinking to myself, "hmmm....after my workout, perhaps I'll go by Baja Fresh and pick up a heaping plate of Nachos to eat for dinner while I finish watching the game!"

It sounded like a great plan.

Until I decided to check out the Nutritional Information on those nachos.

A plate full of those fresh, warm tortilla chips, smothered with Jack and Cheddar cheese, black beans, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo (yummm) has 1,890 Calories and 108 grams of fat!!!!


I would need to run 15 miles to burn off the calories in that plate of Nachos. And although I could run 15 miles during the time it takes me to watch a football game - I will not be running that much tonight.

So - I will need to think of something else to chow down for dinner after my evening run. Oh well...

Taper Week!

It's a taper week! The Parks Half Marathon is coming up this Sunday, so I don't want to overdo it with mileage this week.

Up until this year the taper before a Half Marathon was a big deal. I believe none of my runs during the taper week were over 4 miles. However, my perspective has changed a bit. While in my marathon training I had weekend long runs that were longer than the 13.1 mile distance that I'm going to cover during Sunday's race, and still was able to put in "normal" mileage during the week.

So...although I will treat this as a taper week, I'm not going to cut down too much.

I did not get a chance to run this morning, however, I think I'm going to try an run tonight at the gym - while watching Monday Night Football! Woo hoo! My big problem with running in the evening is that I have such an adrenaline rush that it is hard for me to fall asleep. Luckily there is a late MNF game on tonight as well ;-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

8 On The Treadmill

It was a wet morning - but not raining when I first woke up.  I checked a weather radar on the internet and I saw that there were some strong showers coming my way soon, so I decided to hit the gym instead of risk it outside.  It was a good call!

When I walked outside before my run it was warm and muggy - another good reason not to run outside.

Running on a treadmill is sooooo boring.  I had some good tunes with me - a mix of popular Israeli music from the past decade that is more on the mellower side, but with good melodies to get lost in.  I also chose a treadmill under a ceiling fan to keep cool and be more comfortable.  I kept up a 10:00/mile pace and kept my heart rate in the 150 bpm range for most of the 8 miles.

By the time I left the gym, a steady rain was coming down outside.  Hurricane Hanna has arrived.  Although running outside is so much more pleasant than the treadmill, I'm glad I ran inside today!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Change of Plans

I guess the nice thing about not following a structured training plan is that I don't feel as guilty missing a run.

I was planning to run Thursday morning, but a late night watching the Republican National Convention (man, Giuliani and Palin had guns blazin' on Wednesday night) and another middle of the night visit from my younger son and my plans were dashed. I was similarly tired this morning so I did not run this morning as well.

To cap it off, Hurricane Hanna is heading our way and is supposed to soak my area tomorrow morning. So, I believe the 11 mile run with my sister will not happen Saturday morning.

Time for Plan B - I'll probably do my Saturday morning long run at the gym on the treadmill (yuck!). It will most likely not be a full 11 miles - but I'll try to make it over an hour. Now I'm really glad I ran 9 miles on Monday (Labor Day) morning!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tempo Run On Not Enough Sleep

The day started for me at 4:40am. That's when my younger son entered the room - awake and full of energy. Perhaps it was full of anxiety - his first day of Nursery School is today. My wife brought him back to his room, but he started to shout and cry - like only a 2 year old can - and woke up my older son. So the entire Fox household has been up since 4:45am.

There were feeble attempts to get the kids back to sleep, but it just wasn't happening.

At about 5:45am I decided to put my running clothes on. My wife said to me, "you're just going to leave me here with all of this???". I reminded her that I was already planning to get up and run at this time anyhow - and since the kids aren't going to get back to sleep we may as well start the day, right?

I really had no concrete plan. I knew I was going to do a Tempo Run - I was thinking somewhere in the 6 or 7 mile range. With the lack of sleep, I knew off the bat it was going to be shorter.

The weather was great. Clear skies (although still dark at 6am - I was wearing my reflective vest), 59 degrees. Awesome for running!

The first mile - at an easy pace - was done in 10:24 at 137 bpm average HR. I felt really good. Time to bump up the pace!!!

I got through the first two miles of my Tempo Run just fine - with HR in the low 170s - however then I started to tire out. I decided to stop the fast running after 3 miles. The three miles took 26:29 - an 8:50/mile pace. Average HR was 174.

I decided to do my 5.5 mile loop - instead of 6 or 7 miles - and I'll do an easy jog the rest of the way. That was my intent. However, when Eminem's Lose Yourself came on the iPod, I couldn't control myself from running faster. I'm not sure what it is with that song, but it makes me want to pick up the pace... The last 1.5 miles in 15:15 - just over a 10 minute mile.

It was a great run to brighten up a perfectly horrible start to the morning.

BTW, my son never made it to his first day of Nursery School. He fell asleep on the car ride to school at 9am :-)

One more tidbit - the photos from the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K were posted today. Here's me gutting it out at the end!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This Week's Schedule?

With no training plan to follow, but a race coming up in less than two weeks, I need to figure out what workouts to do during the next 10 days.

The weather here in DC is turning hot again - 90 degree temperatures the next three days - so running in the early morning, or inside, will be key.

I definitely have Saturday morning inked in - a 10.8 mile long run with my sister on the Rockville Millennium Trail.  With this in mind, I'll probably want to rest both Friday and Sunday.  So I'll run tomorrow and Thursday mornings this week.  I'll probably do one Tempo Run (probably at 10K pace) and the other either an Easy Run or a "at Half Marathon pace" run.

Next week, I'll try to follow a similar schedule - Monday longish run, Wednesday Tempo and Friday easy or HM pace - perhaps at shorter distances as a "mini-taper" leading up to the Half Marathon on Sunday morning.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nine Miles This Morning

This morning's run was pretty uneventful.  But that was why it was so wonderful :-)

I got out the door at 6:30am - the sun starting to rise, the temperatures still in the low 60s, and very few people out and about due to the long weekend.

I ran my 9 mile route to Olde Town Gaithersburg and back, however, this morning I reversed the route...just to take some of the monotony out of the run.

I had a Fantasy Football podcast on my iPod (my second - and last - FFB draft is tomorrow) and I just ran at a comfortable pace for 1:37:28.  It felt so good, I probably could have gone another 97 minutes!

During the run I did start thinking about how I would attack the Half Marathon in two weeks.  Should I just run it nice and easy again?  Should I run with one of the pacing groups?  Should I try to work on pacing this week and target a specific time?  In the past I've worked on targeting a specific heart rate zone, so doing that again is also a possibility.

The other thing I need to think of is how to prepare.  The only run I know I'll be doing is the Rockville Millennium Trail - I'm running this 10.8 mile loop with my sister next weekend.  Other than that, I have no training schedule.  I'd like to run 4 days this week and next week (3 leading up to the race).  Perhaps each week doing a longish run (like this morning), a tempo run and an easy run and then the long run on the weekend.  We'll see how it goes.