Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter Trail Run Series

Two weeks since my last post. How does that happen? I have gotten in all of my planned runs. My weekly mileage totals are low because of the new regimen of only three runs a week. I have been hitting the gym regularly in between for some time on the elliptical or stationary bike along with the weight training.

Let me try to hit the highlights of running (since Boney Mountain)

Tues, 1/15 - Speedwork. 2 x (4 x 400). My target was 1:49 to 1:51. I got all 8 done with an average time of 1:48. My fastest one at 1:41 was the 6th. I'm not really sure where that one came from.

Thurs, 1/17 - 6 miles @ 8:27 pace

Friday, 1/18 - 14 mile long run at Huntington Beach (thanks to a work seminar/training weekend) @ 8:59 pace. Highlights of this run were the mile that I ran with Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton and his running buddy Herman. Ken is a celebrity of sorts around here. As I was nearing the end of the run I saw this figure running towards me. The gait looked very familiar. It was Celeste, my coworker and old running partner. We met right at the turnaround point for her 5 miler. Running those 2.5 miles was nostalgic. It has been a really long time since we'd run together.

Tues, 1/22 - Speedwork, Again. This week called for 1 mile (400 m RI), 2 miles (800 m RI), 2 x 800m. I decided to try this one on the treadmill at the gym. The 'mill made measuring the distance and pace really easy. I couldn't remember my target mile pace (7:35) when I was there and ended up doing 7:53 by mistake and I shortened the 800's to 400's. I surprised myself by actually sticking with the workout considering my 'mill hatred. In the spirit of variety of speedwork ala the FIRST program, I still considered it a success.

Thurs, 1/24 - I joined 31 of the CA Cruisers/6:42 for the showing of The Spirit of the Marathon movie. I enjoyed it but not as much as I thought I would. It was fun for many of the Cruisers since they had been there that year. I hadn't joined them since I was running NYC a month later. Back in 2005 I didn't think I could run marathons only 4 weeks apart. If I only knew than what I know now.

Sat, 1/26 - It has been raining A LOT around here lately. Just this last week we got more rain than we got all of last year. Saturday some of us had planned to run a 12K race in the Cleveland National Forest off Ortega Highway between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano. I was expecting cold and rainy conditions, with snow possible at the highest elevations. Instead we got a welcome respite from the rain and enjoyed a sparkling clear sky, temps in the 50's and views that went on forever. The race is billed as a 12K, but the elevation map shows the course is really 8.13 miles.

There were 100 racers or so. The trail was 90% single track and in good shape. At least it wasn't muddy but it was very rutted from the run off. The pack thinned very quickly. I ran alone and slowly but surely caught and passed one person after another. I was feeling pretty good about my placement until all of a sudden the front runners were heading back in my direction. There was no out and back in this race. Someone had tampered with the course markings and sent at least 30 of us left at Sugarloaf Junction when we should have gone right. The 8.13 miles became at least 9. My friend Jim had 9.9 on his Garmin. I didn't get as far as he had before getting back on track. Even with that mishap it was a great run on a really beautiful trail. My time was 1:44.

Sun, 1/27 - I'd missed my tempo run Thursday because of the movie. I just happened to wake up around 6:30 this morning and realized it wasn't raining. Before I could think about it too much I got up and out the door for an easy paced run on my Bonnie Cove Five route. Before I got home the clouds cleared up a little to reveal blue sky. Later this afternoon the heavens opened up, it poured. I'd gotten lucky twice in the last two days with weather.

That pretty much sums up all things running in my life. The plans for 2008 post will have to wait yet again. At this rate the plans will be revealed race by race as I do them.

Stay warm and dry.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Boney Moutain

This weekend I had to opportunity to run my first race of 2008. It was the Boney Mountain 21K Trail Run, part of the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series. The races are put on by Generic Events and I think they do a pretty good job. The definitely are able to put on some races on some pretty nice trails around here. I've done a couple of their other races - Malibu Creek, twice and the La Jolla Canyon Legend, now called the Pt Mugu Trail Run. Each of these are fun races on wonderful terrain. Boney Mountain was no different, maybe even better.

I'm very fortunate to have been able to run in the race at all. It was originally scheduled for Oct 28, 2007. That was the weekend of the Marine Corps Marathon. Unfortunately the race had to be rescheduled due to the wild fires that were happening at the time. The trail was not ablaze but the air quality was just too bad for the event to go on.

The race locale was about 70 miles from my home, so it was an early morning. The race is almost all single track, very nice. The first miles is on road and then once we headed onto the single track, we fell into a pretty nicely paced single file line. There was a little jockeying for position, but not much. The first significant hill at mile three worked wonders at thinning out the ranks. I was surprised at the number of people that were forced to walk. I didn't really mind counting myself among them. The single track was a pretty deep depression in the ground about 2 feet wide and sometimes more than a foot deep. There was a group of about 6 of us in lock step from about mile 3 to 5.

One of the prettiest parts of the run was along the Blue Canyon Trail. After that began the real challenge of this race. Around mile 7 there is an earnest climb for the next 3 miles with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. I was pleased that along this stretch I was able to run, power hike or walk past a half dozen people or so. Check out the elevation chart here and an example of the views from the top here.

Once we hit the summit it was mostly downhill from there. I expected to be passed by the masses as I usually am but was really pleased when I was only passed by 3 people. I was passed by three more on the home stretch, flat, mile. There was just nothing left in these poor legs at that point.

My final time was 2:35 (official results aren't posted yet). So with no real expectations other than to get a run in and enjoy the scenery, I'd have to say it wasn't a bad day. I had heard others comment that the times at this race were on par with times from Malibu Creek. Although Malibu Creek is a mile longer, this course was more difficult.

After breakfast of eggs, muffins, bananas, oranges and coffee, I walked the mile or so back to where the cars were parked and headed home.

Earlier in the week I'd done my tempo run. I ran 6 miles at 8:07 pace. I'm pleased with that as well. Today the quads are complaining a little but I made it to the gym for some crosstraining; 35 minutes on the elliptical and some weights.

Sooner or later here I've got to set down my race goals for 2008. Maybe I'll have time mid week for that. I'm looking forward to reading all your reports about Disney and RNR AZ.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Victory Smile

I've been able to walk out the door at work each night very near 5 p.m. to remnants of day light. I was able to smile. I don't mind it being dark by the time I drive home, but leaving work in the pitch black has really thrown me for a loop this winter.

Tonight called for the dreaded speedwork. I've thought about it often since last week. I'm hybridizing my program from the first timers and Runner's World version. The first called out 4 x 800; the other 8 x 800. In a stroke of genius I settled on 6 x 800 with 1:30 rest breaks between.

Thanks to the (much needed) rain we had over the weekend I knew the local dirt track would be the local mud pit. I hate going round in circles there as much as I detest the treadmill, so I mapped out a stop light to stop light route on the local streets.

I needed a street with plenty of room (ample bike path) and few cross streets. My chosen route had one driveway and one lightly traveled cross street. Gmaps told me it was 0.4853 miles long. The standard 800 meter track is 0.4971 miles. Probably close enough for government work, but I still adjusted my real times to their 800 meter equivalent later.

I ran about 2.25 mile warm up to get to my designated starting light. Off I went. My first "800" came well under my goal of 3:48. I walked around for 1:30 and then took back off up the other side of the street (you gotta run against traffic, safety first, right?). The back trip took just a couple of seconds longer. Back down again and I was half done. After the trip back up I was pretty confident I was going to beat this speedwork. The last two "800's" were run with a smile.

I ran the same route back for a total of 7.5 miles. After some calculations back home my 800 equivalent times are: 3:36, 3:38, 3:34, 3:42, 3:35 and 3:44. It felt really good to have gotten this session under my belt. Battle won. Still smilin'.

After dinner, Bryan wanted to go to the gym. We did some work on the lateral machines and then headed off to the bikes. I got on one of the recumbant Lifecycles and took it pretty easy. When I was done Bryan was still pumping away on one of these babies. I jumped on the empty one next to him for 10 minutes more. Those things give you a pretty decent workout. It is my new favorite machine at the gym.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Back to work, means less time for blogging.

The first week of the new plan hasn't gone maybe as well as it could. Wednesday was supposed to be the tempo run day. When I finally left work an hour late, I got a call from my wife. She asked how I was. My response was "I've got a head ache and its dark." The hope of last week's lingering daylight and two long weekends worth of runs in the daylight were shattered in one crappy evening.

I joined a bare bones group of Cruisers on Saturday for a few miles on our old standby, the Santa Ana River Path. The weather during Saturdays run reminded me very much of Rocket City, drizzly and overcast, just 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Many Cruisers were participating in the OC Half and Marathon the following day. The unfortunate thing about this marathon, now in its fourth year, it that it has rained on 2 of the 4 runnings. It never rains in California, remember. Another very cool thing is that one of our own Cruisers was chosen as the December Runner of the Month by the OC Marathon.

Today, after the Chargers beat the Titans, Bryan and I headed off to the gym. We did 25 minutes on the bikes and then worked out chest and bicep machines. Now thanks to the gym I'm not only always keenly aware of my legs, I'm now aware of my arms, back and chest as well.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Return to Speed Work

I got out for a run on the first day of the New Year but not until after watching the first showing of the Rose Parade, and then spending most of the rest of the day putting away all traces of Christmas. All the decorations are packed up, the tree is out at the curb, all the outside lights are down and the whole kit and kaboodle is packed back up into the boxes and stored away in the garage.

The first run for the New Year was speed work. The last speed work I did was in preparation for Eugene, nearly a year ago. The reasons for no speed are two fold - my dislike of the track and fear of further or complete injuring to the less than 100% left hip. I joined the gym with my son in part to force myself to run less and to give the hip a break. (Working on the core and upper body strength won't hurt either.)

With a reduction in the quantity of running I felt I needed to up the quality of running. That led me to the FIRST program. I'd first read about it in Runner's World. The drawback of the program for me is the absolute need to do speed work once a week. I haven't bought the book, but compared notes on RW version and versions on the Furman Institute website. Each plan follows the same format of speed work, tempo run and long runs; differing only in the actual amount of each element.

Having returned to speed work after 9 months and with the bum hip I opted for a compromise between the first time program on the web and the RW one. An element I really like is that with speed the program mixes it up a little. One of the rules is: Put more variety in your speed work. To ease into it I did speed that didn't require a track; 5 x (2 min. fast/2 min. easy) plus the warm up and cool down.

The 2 minute fast sections were hard. I was out of breath before the end but hung on. I resorted to walking my 2 minute easy just to catch my breath. By the third one I was able to jog the last minute of the easy section before taking off again. I'll tackle the track next Tuesday.

The program looks good on paper, executing it will be a challenge.