Friday, December 31, 2010

Dragon's Doctor Friend, Ed, Says....

I moved my 20 miler this week up a day. Not to get the mileage in 2010, like an anxious parent scheduling a c-section to get the tax break, but because it fit my schedule better.

The CA Cruiser's typical long run day is Saturday. Saturday is New Years Day. New Years Day means the Rose Parade. Although there are very few good reasons for me to miss a run, there's nothing that will keep me from watching the Rose Parade. I Love the Rose Parade. Yes, it is on all day here in southern California; repeated at least half a dozen times for all those hung over folks; but I'm a bit of a purist. I've got to watch it the first time it's on, live, without commercial interruption. I'd almost prefer to watch it live in the grand stands in Pasadena, but the recliner in my warm house is just fine, thank you.

So anyway, a long explanation as to why I ran today. The Cruisers were planning a 10 mile run. I texted Margaret and gave her a head's up on my plans and she decided to join me.

A strange and infrequent cold front has settled upon us, so it was 34 degrees at 6:30 this morning. We'd already decided to delay our run until 8:00. On my way to Huntington Beach I got a call from Margaret telling me it was cold there - too funny.

We started our run in 38 degree weather under clear sunny skies. The sun sure felt good. So did the long sleeve shirt and 99 cent gloves from Walgreens. The run itself was pretty uneventful. It was a simple out and back on the bike path in Huntington all the way into Sunset Beach. About 12 miles into the run we ran into a coworker of mine. He ran with us for a couple of miles and then took off at his own, much faster, pace.

We finished the run in 3:29 for a 10:27 pace. Again much slower than the prescribed pace of 9:35-9:54. As much as it would be easy to blame the pace on Margaret, truth be told I just can't seem to get going much faster either. I do fall into her pace at the beginning, but 3/4 of the way into the run I just run out of steam. It is a bit frustrating and worrisome.

I've been hitting the paces on both my speed and tempo workouts midweek but have no endurance when it comes to the long runs. Its been going like this for 6 weeks. It makes we really question how I'm going to run 9:09 pace in a marathon (that's what a need to get my 4:00 marathon back). Seven weeks till race day, so I'm going to stick with the plan and we'll see how things work out in Austin.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Basic Tempo

Sunny, 55 degrees and windy!

5 mile Tempo Run.

41:28 (8:17 pace)

Forgot my watch, but thankfully the new ipod I got for Christmas has a stopwatch feature.

Only tomorrow's 20 miler stands between me and the year end statistics.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One 1200 Too Much

It rained, A-G-A-I-N, today in SoCal. That's all I'm going to say about that. I was thankful today was a rest/cross training day.

Yesterday was beautiful and sunny (the Southern California we all love and expect), the perfect day for some speedwork. I'm on vacation for the week so I headed over the the San Gabriel River Trail at my leisure, which meant around 11:00 in the morning. The temperature was in the low 60 but with the sun on my skin I was plenty warm and salty by the time the days repeats were done.

Things started as usual for these days - park the vehicle in the lot and then head north on the trail from the 35.25 mile marker for a 2 mile warm up. I've gotten really good at finishing up these 2 miles in just less than 10:00. The intervals today were 3 x (2 x 1200) with 2 minute rest between the intervals and 4 minutes rest between the sets.

My goal time for the 1200's was 5:26 to 5:49. The first set of 2 were easy enough at 5:36 and 5:25; both heading south on the trail. For the first one of the second set I headed back north for a 5:49 and then headed back south again for 5:33. I could definitely feel the effect of the slight "up" in the north direction. After the required (and gratefully accepted) 4 minute walk/jog to the next 1/4 marker I got the 5th 1200 done in 5:35 heading south. For the last one I turned back north and retraced my steps. By now my legs were feeling the effects. I even took a couple of short walk breaks ending the 6th and final 1200 in 6:11. Ouch, that hurts! I blame my poor diet, i.e. (way) too many holiday treats on the sluggish legs. Rather than one 1200 too much, it is really more like one (or more) pieces of fudge too much!

This left me one mile north of the car for the perfect cool down mile which I did barefoot again. The river trail was newly asphalted last fall so is in perfect condition for the barefoot running. Unlike on Christmas Day where I actually kept my socks on this time I went for the entire barefoot experience this time. I was surprised to pull this one off in 10:22, significantly faster than just a couple of days before. The only ill effects were the loss of a bit of skin off the pads of two middle toes on my right foot (and maybe some odd looks from the other folks I encountered along the trail).

I'm not sure any of this is really helping my heel pain but at least it keeps things interesting.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rain and Rumble

I've mentioned previously that this training program takes a bit of mental fortitude. The last couple of weeks I've taken advantage of daylight and run my speed and tempo workouts during the day and things have gone quite well. This past week the forcast called for rain, rain and more rain. After my last long run in the rain, I'd already decided that I would do the speed sessions on the treadmill at the new gym.

The new gym isn't nearly as crowded as the old gym and so far hasn't instituted a 20 minute rule. I don't usually like using the treadmill but I thought it would be a fun challenge and alternative way to do the repeats called for on Tuesday. And then the rumbling began.

Sunday afternoon I ended up with either a touch of the stomach flu or some whopper of food poisoning. I'm the only one in my house that got hit but I got hit good. I rarely get sick, especially with this sort of thing; I've got a pretty iron gut. I was sapped on Monday and stayed home, laid in the recliner and watched endless hours of HGTV. Tuesday I went back to work, but my stomach still wasn't quite right. I could keep food down but my stomach intestines were sure rumbling and working overtime.

True to the forecast it was still pouring rain that afternoon and with the illness I was in no shape to complete mile and 800 repeats. One thing this program makes clear is not to try to make up any missed workouts, so I had no choice but to just let it go.

By Thursday I finally felt 85-90% again, but I had lots of last minute stuff to do and although I might have had time to get in my 10 mile tempo run, I lacked the mental fortitude to go get it done.

Finally on Friday, Christmas Eve morning, the rain had stopped and I met up with a bunch of CA Cruisers for an 5 mile jaunt through a hilly little route through Yorba Linda. I ran with Jay and John. My gut was a bit tentative about the movement, but luckily everything held together.

On Christmas Day, I took advantage of the beautiful dry day and some free time between morning present opening and breakfast and the larger meal later on in the afternoon and put in a nice 12 mile run. The schedule called for 15, but time didn't permit the extra 30 minutes it would have taken. The first 7 miles were run at 9:12 pace or so and then without any real warning things slowed down to 10:00 pace. I decided to try something fun and ran the last mile and a quarter barefoot. My pace for that last mile was as expected considerably slower at 12:33.

I've been having heel pain for some time now so I wanted to give the barefooting a try. My heels enjoyed having the pressure off them for sure. Running barefoot didn't seem that odd, really. One thing I didn't expect was an pain that happened only on my right foot. The three middle toes on that foot felt like they were on fire. That pain continued on for nearly the entire mile and even after I'd finished running. Now two days later, they still feel a little weird. Something else to keep an eye on.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and extend my best wishes for an awesome 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Long Wet One

It doesn't rain often here in Southern California, but it does rain. We're no Pacific Northwest to be sure but we have our rainy season. Right now we are in the middle of a forecasted 4 to 5 days of continuous rain.

My plan called for 18 miles on Saturday morning. The rain had already begun on Friday. All day long I fretted over the possibility of having to run that many miles all wet and chilly. I really wasn't looking forward to it. I don't mind running a few miles in the run but 3 hours out there was just messing with my head. But the CA Cruisers are just like the US Postal Service, we run rain or shine.

When I left home Saturday morning at 6:00 there was a light drizzle. By the time I met up with over a dozen intrepid souls the drizzle had become more of a heavy mist. Actually not so bad for running. Getting started in that was much easier than having to get started in full on rain.

A very funny thing happened about 2 miles into the run. Here we are, a bunch of middle- to late-aged folks out for our long run. We'd all dressed for the weather with long sleeve tech shirts, hats, assorted rain gear (jackets, ponchos, trash bags) and our fair share of extra percentage points of body fat. The mist had subsided so most of the rain gear was now tied around our waists. As we ran down Fairmont Blvd in Yorba Linda we were over taken by a trio of college guys. They must have been team mates. They could have been triplets or clones. Each one was dressed in black shorts and running shoes and nothing else and none of the three had more than 0.5% body fat. It was quite the contrast to our little band of runners. It was no time before they were well off in the distance never to be seen again.

I ran with Margaret again. She had 16 on her schedule so we decided to share much of the run together. Most of the runners ran a shorter 6 mile loop. When we hit the river trail we left the group and did an out an back on the trail. About 8 miles into the run the rain started up again and continued for the duration of the 18 miles. Luckily the temperature was in the mid 50's and there was only a light breeze, so I never got too cold.

It is nice to run with a partner on these long runs, but Margaret usually runs at a slower pace than me, so once again I didn't meet my long run pace goal. This weeks goal was 9:39. We were doing just less than 10 minute miles for quite a while. 15 miles into the run we had a cumulative pace of 10:12. The miles began piling on and the fatigue piled on too resulting in a final pace of 10:33 for the entire 18 mile distance. I ran the last mile and a half alone but was unable to pick up the pace as much as I would have liked to.

I've been good at hitting the paces mid week, now I've got to start concentrating on hitting the paces on the long runs as well. I might try running on my own to be able to get closer to the planned pace and forgo the camaraderie of the Cruisers for a couple of these long runs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I took advantage of my excess vacation and took a half day off to get my speed session in on the San Gabriel River Bikeway taking full advantage of the quarter mile markings and the daylight. The plan called for 2 x (6 x 400) with 1:30 Rest between the 400's and 2:30 rest between the two sets of 6.

My goal times for the for the 400's was 1:45 to 1:53. By running this workouts on a trail marked in quarter miles I'm really running 440 yards so I'm probably running these a bit faster than I need to, but all that extra math just isn't worth the effort.

My first quarter after the warm up was a bit slow at 1:58 but then I got then under control. The first 6 x 400 went like this:

1:58, 1:48, 1:42, 1:45, 1:37, 1:44

I took a 1:30 walk break after each quarter with a 2:30 walk break after the last one before starting round 2.

1:42, 1:42, 1:42, 1:45, 1:42, 1:42

How sweet is that? I followed that with a nice 9:18 mile cool down and left the trail tired and happy.

I'm looking forward to Thursday's tempo run.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LA County Holiday Half Marathon

This race is run mostly in my favorite little running route - Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. This is the second running. I can't remember why I didn't end up running last year, but this year I decided to join in the fun. My new planned called for a 13 mile run this weekend, so the timing was perfect. None of the CA Cruisers were joining me, so it would be a solo effort.

The race started on the grounds of the LA County Fairgrounds. As a training run my prescribed pace was PMP (planned marathon pace) + 15 sec. That would put me at 9:24 which seemed reasonably doable. I really wanted to try to get the thing done in 2 hours or less which is really my PMP. I figured since all more other long runs on this plan had been run significantly slower than planned it wouldn't hurt to throw a little bit of speed at this effort.

At the start I ended up running into fellow Cruiser that I didn't know was going to be there. He is much faster than me at the short distances. At the sound of the air horn, we took off and I let him go right away. When we hit the 1 Mile mark I was surprised to see him only about 20 feet in front of me. My watch read 8:22, over 30 seconds per mile faster than I really wanted to go. At this point we were had left the fairgrounds and were traveling across the parking lots.

The second half of Mile 2 was run on the Pomona Raceway dragstrip. At the 2 Mile mark John was still less than 30 feet in front of me. I clocked that mile in 7:47. Way too fast. I worried that that one was going to come back and bite me in the arse for sure. I stopped at the next water stop and made a conscious effort to slow the pace. The race was being used by Students Run LA as a training effort for the LA Marathon. Running along all those young folks I think got the race of to a pace faster than I could hold on to.

Mile 3 took us along Puddingstone Drive and even with my best efforts to slow down I still clocked an 8:09 mile. Soon after that we entered the north side of Bonelli and ran west through the parking area. Mile 4 came in at 8:28. I feared that the correction had begun from my careless Mile 2.

Mile 4 took us across the dam. We had a great view of downtown Los Angeles over 30 miles away. The weather was perfect southern California "winter." The temperature at the start was 56 degrees and was probably warmed up to the 70's by the end. Mile 5 came in at 8:38. Slowing down some but still going better than the sub-2:00 plan.

After the dam we headed south on Raging Waters Drive and then east into the park on a nice little downhill. At Mile 6 I ran into John unexpectedly. He, like me, had gone out too fast and had run out of steam. I was getting tired I told John I was going to hang on as long as possible. I passed him by and didn't see him again until the finish line. Further slowing on the gently rolling course, Mile 6 was 8:43.

At the far east of the park we doubled back and round what I call the picnic loop route. I missed the marker at Mile 7. Mile 8 read 17:33 (roughly 8:45 pace). I was definitely running out of steam as well, but I'd been with a couple of the same folks since Mile 3 and we were all in the same boat, no one taking off and no one being left behind.

Mile 9 included a nice little incline that took us out of the park and into the adjacent Eastlake RV park. Along this section we had a great view of the entire Puddingtone Lake over our left shoulders and an amazing view of the San Gabriel Mountains just ahead. The uphill was followed by a nice little down hill into the RV park but it didn't help much. Mile 9 was 9:06, almost exactly on the pace I should have probably been on all along.

Mile 10 took us through and then out the other side of the RV park. The poor folks in the RV park probably wondered what all these crazy folks were doing. Still at 9:10 pace for Mile 10.

The next mile included a long slow grind up a little bump in the road passed Brackett Field a small airstip in LaVerne. We'd gone passed the other side of it on Puddingstone Drive back on Mile 3. I trudged up the bump, noticeably slowing but trying my best not to break stride. I was rewarded with a 9:20 Mile 11.

I thought that this would be the end of the rolling course but the way up McKinley Avenue towards Fairplex Drive was a long slow slog ever so slightly up as well. I don't mind a rolling course but it was definitely getting the better of me by this point. Mile 12 found us with a nice reprieve on Fairplex coming in at 10:02. I chuckled. The correction that I'd feared at Mile 2 had certainly come back to haunt me now.

We wound our way back through the fairground parking lots, onto the fairgrounds proper right back to where we started with 10.11 for the last 1.1 miles.

My final time was 1:55 and change. I'm super happy with that. It wasn't a PR but I wasn't aiming for one, but it is well under my secret hope for a sub 2:00. I waited around at the finish line for John. He came through right around the 2:00 mark. It was a decent showing on an absolutely beautiful Winter day.

This run came on the heels of my tempo run on Thursday. I was supposed to do an 8 mile run with 6 at Long Tempo Pace, 8:30-9:00. My first two were 8:22 and 8:33, then I ramped up to 8:06 without trying to. I took walk breaks each of the next 3 miles to try to keep the pace in check and still clocked 8:15, 8:14 and finally 8:43 which included a the one and only real hill on the trail (twice since it was an out and back mile).

This new approach to training is working out so far. Ten weeks until Austin.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The heels still hurt, but seem to be holding up well without the orthotics. I did my the 20 miler on last Saturday and my speed session today without them. My heels weren't exactly pain free at the end of the 20 but they we much better than the week before with the orthotics. I will continue to monitor them. I ran 6 miles today at lunch and am no sitting here at home hours later with my feet on an icepack.

Now to the title of the post - Mental. As if running 20 miles isn't enough of a definition. The mental I'm referring too is mental focus. This program takes a good portion of that. I may be only running three days a week but each of those runs has a very specific sequence and pace associated with it. Just figuring out all the paces and then remembering them is a chore. Thank goodness for good notes.

Last week the night before I did my Tuesday speed work I had a dream that I got over to the river trail and then realized I had no idea what the workout was supposed to be. I was panicked. When I got up in the morning I wrote down all the specific and the paces and stuck it in my pocket. I reviewed it several times that morning to be sure I wouldn't forget. I even carried the note in my pocket while I ran an referred to it a couple of times to be sure I was hitting the paces.

The work out was 20 minute warm up, 2 x 1200 (2:00 RI), 4 x 800 (2:00 RI), and 10 minute cool down. I'd done the math to determine how time for each distance based on the per mile pace, because we all know I don't calculate well on the run.

Thursday run was a simple 5 miler at mid-temp pace which for me is 8:16-8:34. For me doing these runs requires a measured trail so I can keep track of my pace. I don't have a garmin so I really on the markings on the trail. Relying on these marks also limits my runs to at least waning daylight. This is why I've done a few of my speed runs during lunch. Thursday since the distance was less complicated I'd planned to leave work a little early to take advantage of the last few minutes of daylight. As often happens, things at work did not cooperate. This puts me in "bad place" and although a run would have cleared my head I knew I couldn't use the marked trail in the dark to meet my goals so I gave up the run. Major lack of mental focus.

I packed my stuff to give it another try on Friday afternoon and then opted out for fear of jeopardizing the 20 miler. Super duper lack of metal focus.

But today my calendar was clear and I got back out there at lunch for a similar speed session as the week before but this time with 6 x 800 (goal time 3:40). It was a beautifully warm (70 degree) and sunny day with very few folks on the trail. I was a happy camper. My paces on the intervals were 4:02 (I started off slow because I tend to start of too fast), 3:41, 3:36, 3:33, 3:36 and 3:45. Score a major victory for mental focus.

Hitting the mid week runs will be easier for the next three weeks since I have excess vacation to burn before year end so I'm taking half days on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get the job done. We'll see how focused I can be in 2011.

How much longer before the sun sets sometime around 6:00 pm?