Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Runner's Coffee House

Sherry had a tutoring gig this afternoon, so I was kicked out of my office and ducked into a neighborhood coffee shop that I hadn't been to before. I had run by it a bunch of times and saw a sign in the window that they had free wi-fi, so I thought I would try it out.

The weather here had become cooler and rainy, so I threw on my Frederick Marathon pull-over before heading out (I had considered riding my bike but decided to drive - good thing to as it started to pour while I was there).

The cafe was quiet and only had a handful of people there. I went up to order and the "barrista" asked if I was running Frederick this weekend (she saw my marathon pullover) and that she was running the Half. Very cool! We started a conversation about running as I was booting up my computer and getting back to work.

Later on in the afternoon, there was a time where there were only four people in the coffee house...and all four of us were runners!

Anyhow, I don't feel like much of a runner lately. On Monday morning I got out and did a 3 miler, and then due to work and other craziness I haven't gotten to bed until after midnight the past two nights. I'll see if I can get to bed earlier tonight so I can run tomorrow morning...even if it is just another easy 2.5 with my son.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Morning Run/Walk With My Son

This morning, I actually woke up before 6am and got out of bed to run! I guess I'm finally starting to feel like myself again.

When I left my room, I noticed that the light in my son's room was on. At 6 years old, he's still an early bird (people promise me that in about 6 or 7 years that we'll struggle to get him out of bed every morning...I just don't believe it at this point). I went to his room and asked if he wanted to run with me - he lit up on the spot!

My plan for him - run/walk for about 30 minutes...2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking - repeat 10 times.

We left the house around 6:05am to a chilly, crisp 38 degree morning and started to walk as a warm up. At that point my son was complaining on how cold it was outside. We only walked for 2 minutes as my son wanted to start running to get warmer - so I obliged and we started our first two minute slow run.

Of course, at the beginning it was really easy for Doron - but he started to get tired about half way through the fourth or fifth run.

We ran through the neighborhood and up to our "downtown" - past the movie theaters, the Star Diner and many of the other stores (and unfortunately - many "For Lease" seems like new ones pop up each week). After that we went towards Inspiration Lake where we saw many different types of birds to my son's amazement. I'm used to seeing all of these feathered friends, but it was all new to him. A red cardinal, a few red-winged blackbirds and we even had a visit from the great blue heron that frequents the lakes in our neighborhood!!

At the end, we ended up doing 11 "sets" of 2 minute runs and 1 minute walks. We covered 2.45 miles in a pedestrian 38:33 (15:37/mile pace). However, Doron made it through all of the two minute run sets...and he can't wait for his next morning run!!! Perhaps a summer 5k for him is not such a crazy goal after all...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking Ahead - It's 5K Season!

It's kind of a weird feeling - I really have NOTHING on my running calendar right now.  (OK, I just finished running a Half Marathon yesterday...give yourself a break!!!)

So, I went over to the Montgomery County Road Runner's Club website to see what "low-key" races they have.  When I started running, I used to go to these races a lot.  First of all, they're free to club members.  Second of all, they're all local races which makes it really easy to fit into the schedule.

Between now and early June, there are four 5K races - two cross-country races and two road races (one of these are on an asphalt trail - but I don't think it qualifies as a trail race since it's on asphalt!).

It looks like I may be focusing on the 5K for the next few months.  The price is right, the races are close and I don't have to train a ton.  Unless I want to try and beat my PR from last summer...

After June, I'll likely switch gears to distance again and train for Riley's Rumble and the Parks Half Marathons.  Perhaps I'll sneak another Half Marathon in the October/November timeframe as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Run For The Shelter Half Marathon Race Report

I'll spare everyone the suspense now (and hope you'll all continue to read anyway...), but I met my "B" goal for this race with a new PR - 2:13:22!!!!  That's a PR by 2 minutes and 32 seconds!!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I laid everything out the night before so I could get out the door quickly and get to the race on time.  One thing I neglected to mention was that I was wearing a new shirt (I's not good to try anything new out on race day) - my Wolverines Run shirt!  The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is sending out free running t-shirts to Alumni Association members who are running marathons.  ( this isn't a full marathon, so I kinda cheated the system, but I did run a full marathon last year and didn't know about the program then...)  Either way, I got a bunch of "Go BLUE!" and "Go Michigan!" cheers from fellow runners and spectators of the race (and only a few "Go Buckeyes" from obnoxious Ohio State fans) - so that a bit of a pick-me-up during the race.

I woke up before my alarm around 5:45am and got out of the house rather quickly.  There were very few cars on the road, so I got out to Leesburg around 7:15am.  So, I had 45 minutes to kill before the 8am race start (or so I thought).  Luckily, I brought a book, so I read for about 20 minutes and then got out of my car for a 20 minute pre-race routine - warm up jog, hit the porta potty one last time, take my GU 15 minutes before race time, etc.  At around 7:55am, I noticed that no one was gathering near the start yet.  What's going on???  I asked around and found out that the race start was 8:30am - not 8am!  So I had another 30 minutes to wait before the race got started.

I actually bumped into a friend of mine from my teenage years (we were both in BBYO together) who was also running the race.  He just got back into running this year and was running his second half marathon (his first was the National Marathon last month where he ran a 1:50 - a full 25 minutes faster than my we would not be running together today!).  It was great to catch up with him, but as people finally started lining up for the start, he went towards the front and I hung out in the middle-to-back of the pack. 

Finally, the race started a tad after 8:30!  The course started at the 4H Fairgrounds and wound down the road for 0.1 mile to hit the W&OD Trail.  The race then went west on the W&OD trail for 6.5 miles and then came back.  My first thoughts at the start of this race were, "oh no, we're going downhill for the first 0.1 mile - that means the last 0.1 at the end is UPHILL - UGH!!!"

The course was rolling hills, but not too bad.  The elevation graph from my Garmin shows an elevation differential of about 200 ft over the course.  The first mile was a lot of uphill while the second mile was mostly down (I didn't remember this while I was trying to pick up the pace on mile 12...where did this uphill come from?).

My main concern was keeping my HR relatively low - under 155 - for the first half of the race and then getting faster on the second half.  Even if I ran a 2:20 or 2:25 today, if I did it with a negative split, I could have pride in the fact that I ran a smart race.

I kept to the plan pretty well for the first four miles:
- Mile 1: 10:37, avg HR 153
- Mile 2: 9:37, avg HR 152 (downhill, remember?)
- Mile 3: 10:04, avg HR 154
- Mile 4: 10:20, avg HR 155

Miles 5 and 6 started to climb uphill a bit (which I didn't mind so much as I knew that this would be coming downhill very soon).  I also started to get into the camaraderie of the race - I ended up speaking to one of the Buckeye runners about Big 10 Football, and I started to cheer for the faster runners who were now making their way back from the turnaround.  My heart rate started to climb up a bit, but unfortunately not with any gains in pace due to the hills:
- Mile 5: 10:57, avg HR 158
- Mile 6: 11:11, avg HR 151
- Mile 6 to Turnaround: 5:57 (10:04/mi pace), avg HR 159

After the turnaround, I felt really good.  I had run at a pretty relaxed pace, I had fueled and hydrated well (there were 3 water stops on the course - which meant 6 stops in total for the out-and-back - and two of them had GU!!!) and although I knew I had 6.5 more miles to go, I felt confident that I could pick up the pace.  I started to turn it up a notch and started to pass many of the runners who had passed me in the opening miles.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the splits at the mile markers.  You see, I didn't realize that when I hit the lap button on my Garmin at the turnaround point, that now the Garmin's auto-lap feature would count miles from the last lap.  I finally hit the lap button again at the 11 mile marker so I could get my splits for miles 12 and 13.

- Mile 7.55 - 10:17, avg HR 164
- Mile 8.55 - 9:34, avg HR 166
- Mile 9.55 - 9:59, avg HR 168

When I hit the 10 mile marker, I saw that I was at 1:44 and change.  I new that if I could finish out with a 30 minute 5k, that I would have myself a new PR!  I still felt like I had gas in the tank unlike my experience that the Parks Half Marathon this past September, and my legs did not hurt like they had in previous runnings of Riley's Rumble Half Marathon.  Time to turn it up a notch and finish it out strong:

- Mile 10.55 - 10:03 avg HR 174 (can we say uphill??)
- Mile 11 - also 10:03/mi pace, avg HR 178
- Mile 12 - 9:56, avg HR 181 (more uphill...grr)
- Mile 13 - 9:08, avg HR 185 (finally downhill! and pushing it)
- Last 0.1 - 7:42/mi pace (uphill, that is...) avg HR 193 (isn't my max HR 186 or something??)

As I was passing the clock at the finish line, it was reading 1:13:38 (or something like that...results still aren't posted).  Garmin time was 1:13:22.  Since it took me a good 20 seconds to get to the starting line - and this race is not chip timed - I think I'll take my Garmin time for now :-)

One thing that I'm a bit perplexed about.  My Garmin measured the race at 13.19 miles - not 13.1.  Also, the Garmin hit mile splits earlier than where the race had the mile markers...starting with mile 2.  I'm not sure if this is a race measurement thing or that my Garmin is a tad off (given that a lot of the trail I ran today was wooded, I'll say it was probably a Garmin thing).

So, I'm not sure if I ran 13.1 or 13.2 today, but it was definitely a PR.  Even with taking a ten day running break three weeks before race day due to bronchitis.

I'll take it easy again this week.  I have nothing else on the race calendar - so I have some work to do!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Night Before My Half Marathon - UGH!

OK...I'm not freaking out too badly.  However, I seem to have a bit of anxiety this time around.

Perhaps it's because I don't feel "ready" to run a timed 13.1 miles tomorrow?  Due to not training much after recovering from bronchitis?  Due to still feeling I'd rather stay in bed than getting out of bed for my morning runs?  Due to the fact that I'm just 24 hours removed from an exhausting vacation with my two rambunctious -full-of-energy sons at Great Wolf Lodge?

Perhaps it's not because I'm worried about can I cover the distance (my worry for my first half marathon), but more that I'm not sure what kind of race I'll run.  The last half marathon I ran I stopped running around mile 10 and walked (with a little running) the rest of the way.  I haven't run anything over 7 miles in the past month!  How am I going to get through 13???  (OK, so perhaps I am worried about covering the distance after all...)

On the flip side, I have two things going for me - 1) the weather is supposed to be wonderful - race time should be partly cloudy with temperatures in the 50s.  2) I don't have high expectations for this race, so the pressure is off.  I'm not aiming for a specific time or a new PR, so if I do awesome, that's wonderful - and if I don't, that's OK too.

My race plan hasn't changed much from what I thought about last weekend.  Keep my HR under 155 for the first 6.5 miles.  From mile 6.5 to mile 10, keep my HR under 165.  For the last 5k, see how I'm feeling - if I feel good, kick it up a notch; if I feel lousy do what I need to do to get across the finish line.

I've got my things ready to go - my Garmin is charged, my race bib is pinned to my shirt ( bib number is 40 - I almost feel like an elite runner with a number that low!), I have everything else laid out - GU, body glide, 3M Nexcare waterproof tape to prevent nipple chafe (very important!), water bottle, etc.

Last thing to do is get a good night sleep.  I guess the kids will have something to say about that one...let's hope their not up in the night.  I have some Children's Benedryl ready if they dare enter my room while I'm sleeping!   :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Running in the Morning - Finally!

I finally got a morning run in today!

I woke up about 6:10am and quickly got in my workout clothes.  It was cold and rainy outside, but I had planned accordingly and my gym back was packed.

I decided to do a little speedwork, but I ended up running out of steam before I could finish the entire workout.  I was going to try to do intervals of 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 miles with 1/4 mile recoveries.  I set the treadmill for 5.4 mph recoveries (11 min/mile pace) and 7.4 mph intervals (a little under an 8 min mile pace).

My HR was up in the mid-170s at the end of my second interval, and it hit 180 after the 3/4 mile interval.  So I knew that I couldn't run the mile as an interval.  Instead I ran it a little faster than a 10 minute mile for the first 3/4 and then back up to the 8 min mile pace for the last quarter.

Stats - 4.5 miles, 44:27 - 9:53/mile pace.  Avg HR 158, Max HR 180.

I'm going to try a short easy run tomorrow morning.  After that we're taking the kids to Great Wolf Lodge for a little vacation!!!  We'll be back Friday evening - just in time to recouperate before the Half Marathon on Sunday.

BTW...the weather report for Sunday looks nice.  No rain, high of 65 degrees (race time will likely be in the 50s - beautiful!).  I just hope I'm in good enough shape to get through the entire 13.1 miles...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Running Days In A Row!

Even though I'm not back up to 100% of where I was pre-bronchitis, I definitely have the bronchitis beat!  I ran for the second day in a row - and no hacking up a lung - Woo Hoooooo!

Anyhow, I'm still not up to waking up early in the morning to get my run in - I'm staying up way too late to do that.  One of these days I'll try to get back on a "runner's schedule" and go to sleep earlier.

Since I didn't get the run in earlier - and there was a large chunk of my late morning without a conference call or other work meeting - I took the opportunity to get into my running clothes around 11:30am and sneak out for a lunchtime run.  My neighborhood 4.4 mile loop - which I hadn't run in two months.

A few observations:  it felt a lot chillier than the 49 degrees which the weather site said it was; whoa! - that hill on Argosy Drive is much steeper than I remember it; I'm starting to feel a bit sore (I just ran 7 miles yesterday, right?).  I even got a bit of a fartlek into my run - when I turned onto Muddy Branch Road, I saw that if I picked up the pace that I would be able to cross Great Seneca Highway with the light instead of waiting for another round of lights - or running up the side of the street with no sidewalk and then playing Frogger to get across the road later on.

I listened to music on today's run - Green Day's American Idiot - so I had a hard time keeping my pace slow like yesterday.  Since I did so well reigning it in yesterday, I didn't care about controlling it today.

Not that I was blazing fast or anything - 4.46 miles in 45:39 - a 10:14/mile pace.  Avg HR of 158.

Tomorrow is a definite rest day.  Then I'll run Wednesday and Thursday and rest until Sunday's race.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Semi-Long Run On The Crescent Trail

I know that I was supposed to do a 9 miler this weekend, but since I only had run 3 miles so far this week, I thought that 9 was going to be pushing too much.  I had decided yesterday to run 6-7 miles - and to simulate the strategy for the first half of next weekend's Half Marathon...keep my heart rate under 155 bpm.

My initial plan was to head out early in the morning - like a usually do for my longer runs.  However, Sherry and I were out late and I couldn't get my butt out of bed (since I got sick a few weeks ago, that's been a common occurrence).  We had talked about going to the gym and having the kids play in the child-care room - however, DUH, it's Easter child care today.

Finally, I found my opportunity to run in the mid-afternoon.  My younger son went down for a nap and my older son was going to a friend's house for a playdate!  Since I had some time on my hands - and it was a sunny, clear day - I decided to head on down to Bethesda and run on the Capital Crescent Trail.

I had run on this trail a few times - but never more than a few miles.  I decided to do 7 miles - 3.5 miles out and then come back.  I really would like to do a really long run here - a 16 miler I think would allow me to start in Bethesda and get all the way to Georgetown and then come back.  Or perhaps a 10 miler could get me down to Georgetown and then to the Dupont Circle Metro stop and then Metro back to Bethesda (I'm not sure if anyone would like to actually sit near me on that metro ride...)

Anyhow, my HRM was doing some weird stuff during the first mile.  I was running at a 11:30 - 12:00/mile pace and my heart rate was registering in the high 160s (it even bounced up to 192 at one point).  I was pretty sure these were false readings, but since I'm still coming off of being sick there was a part of me that may have believed them.  Finally, the numbers started to drop into the 150s and then the 140s and finally into the mid-130s - right where I would expect them to be at this pace.  Thank goodness!

The trail is relatively flat - there are no steep hills (OK, there are a few overpasses which are steep) but a few points where there is a continuous climb up or down.  There are trees on either side which is very nice, and no cars!  Just other runners, walkers and cyclists.  It was great to spend the afternoon with a bunch of other fitness enthusiasts!!!

A few miles into my run, I came up with a great idea: Since in the Half Marathon, I want to keep my heart rate under 155 for the first 6.5 miles and then bump it up into the 155-165 range for a few miles, I can practice that here on this run - after mile 6.5, bump up the pace a bit for the last half mile.  This worked out pretty well - except for the fact that the last half mile was I couldn't really "push it" so much as I was just trying to keep up the pace while my heart rate increased.

My splits were pretty much all over the place - 11:10, 10:22, 9:56, 10:16, 9:28, 11:16 and 10:33.  However, my average HR on each split was right on target - 155 (even with the high numbers at the beginning), 143, 148, 153, 152, 155, 160 (after I picked up the pace for the second half mile).

Overall, the 7 miles took me 1:13:07 which is a 10:27/mile pace.  If I am able to keep a pace like this next weekend over the entire 13.1 mile course, I'd have a time of 2:16:54 - exactly 1 minute off of my Half Marathon PR.  So...a PR is still in reach, although I doubt a 2:11:00 is doable at this point.

Rain is in the forecast for the next few days, however, I'll try to run two or three times this week - perhaps tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday.  Thursday and Friday we're taking the boys to Great Wolf Lodge for a getaway at the end of the week - it should be fun (and I'm excited for the days off of work!!!).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Finally A Run Today!

I finally got out to run today.  I couldn't drag my ass out of bed in the morning, so I ended up doing an easy 3 miles at lunch (OK, it was 3.4 miles, but who's counting???)

I ended up settling in at a 10:00/mile pace for most of the run - splits were 10:00, 9;57, 10:04.  Great, right?  Well, sort of.  My average HR on each of the miles were 146, 157 and 159.  That's way too high for an easy 3 mile run.

I've pretty much come to terms that there will be no PR for me at next weekend's Run For The Shelter Half Marathon.  Right now my race plan is this - keep the HR under 155 for the first 6.5 miles, run the next 3.5 miles at a bit of a faster pace (HR in the 155- 165 range) and if there is anything left in the tank, run the last 5K as fast as I can.  This way I can (a) enjoy the race at the beginning and (b) almost ensure myself a negative split.  Got to find those silver linings somewhere, right?

So, I'm planning to do a 6 miler this weekend - most likely on Sunday.  My plan there is to keep my HR under 155 - to kind of simulate the first 6 miles of the race.  This will be difficult as it looks like I tend to push the pace to what "feels right" - and right now it's likely too fast for me. I hope I can pull in the reigns and pull it off.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Feeling Better - But Still Not Running

The good news - antibiotics are doing their thing and I'm no longer hacking the night away.  Also, my "soccer injury" is and rest were all I needed.

The not so good news - I still haven't made it back into the running groove.  Passover started last night - and we hosted a seder with 15 people (tonight we're hosting another seder for 18 - oy!) so I've been up late preparing, which means the last thing I want to do is wake up early to run.  I was thinking of perhaps doing a lunchtime run today, but I'd feel really guilty if I go out and run while my wife is watching the kids and preparing dinner for 18 people (actually, I should really go into the house and have her go for a quick run to let off the steam that I'm sure will have accumulated by 12:30pm in that situation...).

I'll likely be going to bed late tonight, but maybe I'll be able to muster up the strength to go out for an early morning easy run tomorrow.  I need to get back to running.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bronchitis Again

I've still been hacking away during the afternoons and evenings, and since it's been lingering now for about 10 days, I went to the doctor.  Bronchitis.  Likely started as a sinus infection which drained to my chest.

I'm on Antibiotics now which will hopefully kick this out of my system fast so I can get back to running!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Finally Running Again!!!

I got out for an easy 3 this morning - my usual loop around the lake.  I didn't know what to expect since I hadn't run in over 10 days and I still have some gook moving around in my nose and chest.

I ended up running an 11:04/mile pace at an average HR of 151.  Not too bad.  Although looking back in my training log I found I ran this exact same route about 1:00/mile faster at about the same HR a month ago.

My plan was to ramp up my mileage this week with runs of 3, 6, 3 and 9 miles and then taper a bit next week to prepare for the Half Marathon on April 20.

It's a nice plan - but it may have been thwarted by an injury I got this afternoon while playing with my kids.  I was kicking a soccer ball with my 3 year old and I decided to try and get fancy, over-run the ball and kick it back to him using my heel.  Well, I didn't over-run the ball enough and my foot ended up coming down right on top of the ball.  My foot rolled over towards the ground and then my entire body rolled over on my foot.  OUCH!

I've iced the foot a bit - it's still tender.  However, I don't think I've pulled/sprained/broken anything since there is no swelling.  Just an "ouchie".  Thank goodness!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Still No Running

It's Friday - and still no running since last Tuesday morning. YIKES!

I'm still a bit congested, but I don't feel as achey and run down any more. That's the good news.

I'll likely go for a weekend run - either my normal Saturday morning run or perhaps I'll push it out a day for a little more recovery and run on Sunday. Both should be nice mornings - above freezing and no rain!

However, now that I've lost a week and a half of training, I have no idea where to pick up. My half marathon is two weeks from Sunday - so I should be tapering down a bit on the mileage after this weekend. I was planning to do a 15 miler tomorrow - now, I'll be happy with an easy 3 or 4 just to get back into the swing of things!

Right now, I'm hoping to (a) just run a little this weekend and continue to kick this cold out of my system and (b) be well enough to do four runs next week - hopefully 3, 6, 3 and 9 milers. The week after will be my taper - but I'll probably still follow the 3, 6, 3 formula.

I'm also tapering my expectations on this race. I had some pretty big goals for this race. First and foremost was a PR (current HM PR is 2:15:54...although I did run a faster 13.1 miles at the beginning of the Frederick Marathon last year). My reach goal was sub-2:10. I definitely feel I have some sub-2:10 HMs in me - however, with the stoppage in training this time around, I don't know if it will be this one.

We'll see how quickly I can ramp back up into running and what my pace/HR levels look like...