Sunday, January 23, 2011

Eighth Leg

I ran the Ragnar Relay last year with some really great folks that I really didn't know. This year the CA Cruisers have united and put together two teams. We've got the competitive over-50 co-ed team and the lets run this thing and see how much fun we can have. I'm part of the second team. This years southern California route is completely different than last years, so it'll be a whole new adventure.

Just for fun the Cruisers decided to run the eighth leg of the Ragnar route today. This put us in completely new territory than we've ever run before. The eighth leg starts at the point on the Santa Ana River Trail were we usually turn around and head back. This was listed as a 5.4 mile Moderate leg that included 945 feet of elevation gain. We ran it out and back. I needed to get to 15 so I did a few extra miles back onto the River Trail on familiar ground. I ran about a third of the route with Jim, the ring leader of the competitive over-50 co-ed team. He slowed down considerably to run with me. I ran the rest alone, meeting up with the others before and after. My overall time for the 15 was 2:35 for a pace of 10:22. This is still off the planned pace but I felt good the entire way. I was glad to get some hill training in too.

Thursday's tempo run went well. The plan called for 8 miles at planned marathon pace (PMP). I hoped to stay as close to 9:09 as possible. The last few I've done have all been on the fast side and I really wanted to get a better feel for the 9:09 I am supposed to run in Austin. My first mile was 8:38, so I decided to start the next mile by walking the difference to get me to 9:00 pace and walked for about 20 seconds. I ended up doing this at every mile, walking as much as 40 seconds at the beginning and as little as 15 seconds on the latter miles. My overall pace even with 7 walk breaks was 8:34. So I guess I have no 9:09 gear in my legs. I'm either too fast on the tempo runs or too slow on the long runs. What a quandary!

4 weeks to Austin. One more 20 miler next weekend where I hope to work on hydration and nutrition to see if I can get past the wall. The following week is a 13 miler at PMP so I signed up for the Rose Bowl Half Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday. I'm going to do my best to stick to the 9:09 PMP.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Called Off Not Phoned In

Today's speed workout called for 10 x 400 (with 400m rests). It would have been an 8 mile workout. I was really looking forward to it because 3 weeks ago I did a similar workout and nailed it.

We've been enjoying some very warm, almost summer like, weather here in So Cal. My kind of weather. I love the sunshine. The temperature at noon was just shy of 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky and no breeze to be heard of. My kind of weather. Sitting at the beach kind of weather.

I found out soon enough that today it wasn't exactly good 400 meter repeat weather. I started off just fine with my usual 2 mile warm up and then began the repeats. My times were actually right on target at 1:42, 1:39, 1:46, 1:47, 1:46, and 1:53, but it was taking everything I had to stick with it. My legs felt like lead and I just wasn't mentally ready for the warmth. This weather in the summer would have actually been expected and I've run plenty of times in 80 or greater temps and enjoyed it. Today it kicked my butt, in a bad way.

After the 6th repeat at mile 5 I decided to call it off rather than phoning it in. I could of probably made the next 4 repeats and the mile back to the car, but I'd have been miserable. The mile cool down I did was at 12:00 pace, nearly a walking pace.

I was a little bummed that I'd caved. I haven't done that in a while, especially on this plan. I got in some extra cross training this evening by taking the R.I.P.P.E.D. class at the gym. It's a good kick in the butt, in a good way. It isn't running but it gets the heart a-pumping and the sweat a-flowing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Santa Barbara Strand(ed)

My in-laws flew into San Francisco last Saturday and began a southward journey through California that ended at hour home today. The spent 3 days in the Carmel area. We joined them when they got to Paso Robles. We spent Wednesday touring several wineries in the area and then enjoying a wonderful dinner at Buona Tavola.

Thursday was my scheduled tempo run day and I was excited about the opportunity to run somewhere other than by current status quo of the river trail. I set my watch to get out the door at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. I got up checked the temperature. It was a balmy 35 degrees so I went back to bed. After breakfast our southward tour took us to Solvang, where we shared a nice apple strudle and then ultimately to Santa Barbara. Our hotel was conventiently located across the street from the beach. We arrived in the late afternoon giving my ample time before dinner to get my tempo run in along the multi-purpose path that runs along the beach. This was a much better choice than running in Paso at near freezing temps.

Without my trusty marked path I was pretty much ad-libbing the run. I knew the distance (5 miles) and my planned pace (8:41 to 9:09) but without the markings I had no real way to reconcile the two. I did have the GPS app on my smartphone that I checked periodically to know the distance.

I've mentioned before that I'm am functionally illiterate in the mathematical computational arena while on foot. Once on the path I headed east first for about 1/2 mile and then back west. I ran west past my starting point toward Shoreline Park. I checked my phone occasionally to monitor the mileage. For some reason I can't explain I didn't turn around until the GPS said I'd run 3.5 miles total. This included the 1 mile eastward out&back plus 2.5 more miles westward. It wasn't until I was on my way back and checked the phone again that I realized just how math challenged I was. I hit the 5 mile mark while I was still a mile away from the hotel (no surprise to any of you). I walked that last mile back to my hotel.

Another side effect of the run was my lack of pacing control without mile marks. Although I looked at my phone a couple of times to get the distance there was no way I was going to be able to calculate the pace. Odd distance at odd times just don't compute. I finished the 5 miles in 41:55. Once I was walking I could at least determine that I'd run faster than 9 minute miles. After a bit of finger writing on an imaginary chalk board I figured the pace to be 8:24 or at least close enough. Oh well, I can think of worse place to be "stranded" than the bike path along the Santa Barbara coast.

We went to the Getty Villa in Malibu the next day. Upon returning home that evening I went to listen to Dick Beardsley speak about his marathon experience, his trials with accidents and his subsequent drug addition. He gives a very good presentation. I would recommend seeing him if he is in your area.

Saturday morning was yet another long run; the third of the four prescribed 20 milers. I ran in Huntington Beach, meeting up with the CA Cruisers. Margaret and I were again running partners. We were running consistently 9:50 pace up through 15 miles when Margaret began to lag and gave me permission to go on ahead. I maintained the 9:50 pace up through mile 18 and then fell to pieces. This has been my usual modus operandi on all these long runs. My pace for those last two miles was in the 12 minute range. Those miles were so slow that my overall pace for the run fell off to 10:21. I finished the 20 miles in 3:27:11.

I'm a bit bewildered by this whole thing. At mile 15, 16 and 17 I could tell I was on pace to complete the run in 3:20 (I can do simple math like 10 minute miles by x miles = y minutes). I hate to be a broken record but it is really hard to see how when I can't complete a long slow distance at a pace significantly lower than planned marathon pace that I will ever be able to run 26.2 at a faster pace. Also Dick Beardsley reminded me that the Austin Marathon has its fair share of hill. This training cycle has been completely devoid of hill training. With 5 weeks to go, I may swap some of those speed sessions for hill work. It should be an interesting little experiment in the hill country of Texas.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Running Lunch

Somewhere along the way I became that guy that doesn't like to run after work. I'm not into the chilly evening darkness. On the other side of the coin I'm definitely not the get up early and get my run in so I can get to work guy either. It's just easier to face the challenge of hitting the paces of this training program on a well marked course in the daylight when I can clearly see the markings. All the better than I can do it on the bike path rather than running circles around the track.

So for at least a month now I've been doing my 2 midweek runs at lunch time and I'm loving it. Up today was 3 x 1600. My goal was 7:20 to 7:50 pace. I was a bit worried about making it a whole mile at that pace. I notoriously run my first repeat too fast so today I worked really hard trying to stay near the 7:50 end of things. I managed that pretty well and let the chips fall where they may for the last two. The 3 miles came in at 7:40, 7:23 and 7:24; another decent effort in the books.

All told I ran 6.5 miles for the day and continuing my foray into barefoot running ran my last mile sans shoes in 11:36. It really is kind of fun to do.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Split Decision

Before Christmas I'd made plans to run with my old running buds, Brian and Celeste. I had 15 on the schedule so I'd run with them and then make up the difference either before or after.

As a nice coincidence the CA Cruisers had decided to run the Newport Back Bay loop which goes right by Brian's neighborhood. The grand plan came together. I would meet the Cruisers at 7 a.m. Run about 5 miles to Brian's 'hood, meet up with he and Celeste and run a few miles then continue on the loop for somewhere around 15 miles.

You know what they say about the best laid plans....well, I never heard my alarm so I over slept, waking up with only enough time to meet Brian and Celeste at 8:00 a.m. We had a great run, the three of us plus Brian's wife and 7 month old daughter. We ran out of the neighborhood and down Back Back Drive. The girls lead the way with Brian's wife pushing the baby jogger. Brian and I brought up the rear. It was a nice leisurely out and back 6 mile run. Back at Brian's house we stood around chatted and had fun watching their adorable daughter. We could have spent the whole morning, maybe even the day, being entertained by her.

I finally broke away with the intentions of completing my miles for the day. But I'd cooled down considerably and my wet shirt was making me feel even chillier. I had to drop some stuff off at my car and struggled with myself about whether to complete the miles or not. I was cold and tired and really wanted to just go home but I forced myself to get moving.

I ran the entire Back Bay Loop, 11 miles, in 1:50 for a nice 10:00 pace. Although this was still off from my planned pace of 9:19, it was far better than the paces I'd been keeping on some of my other long runs of late. It was a short "long run due to the warm up 6 miles with Brian and C0. but the pace was improved. I was glad I had fought off the desire to be warm and home.

Six weeks to race day!

Oh, I've fleshed out the 2011 race calendar a bit by signing up to run the Little Rock Marathon on March 6. I'd I forgotten that the CA Cruisers had chosen the Missoula Marathon as our group outing in July. I missed this one in 2010 and hope to run it this year, 1 day shy of my 50th birthday. I'm still searching for a decent airfare to be able to join Joe in April at the Illinois Marathon. Cleveland, Fargo and Deadwood my have to wait another year. But there's still the fall season I haven't even begun to consider yet.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A B-minus Run

Today called for the Mother of All Tempo Runs. Well, at least for the current training cycle. The plan called for the longest tempo run of the cycle - 10 miles. the pace called for was either planned marathon pace (9:09) or 10K + 40 seconds (8:41).

I was a bit intimidated by this workout but I was going to give it my best shot. I headed on over to the river trail during lunch (and yes I stayed late to make up for the extra long lunch break). Conditions were good - mostly cloudy skies, light breeze, 65 degrees. My goal was to stick to the marathon pace as much as possible. The run started off well enough but didn't end up so well. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Mile 1 8:55
Mile 2 8:47
Mile 3 8:44
Mile 4 8:22
Mile 5 8:30
Mile 6 8:39
Mile 7 8:40
Mile 8 9:05
Mile 9 9:56
Mile 10 10:19

I realized early on that I was running too fast to make it the entire 10 miles. I even took some walk breaks along the way if I realized I was approaching a mile marker in less than the fastest pace of 8:41. By Mile 7 all momentum was lost. Mile 8 was respectable and almost on target, but those last two are just disgraceful. All told, my final total time was 1:30 so my average pace was a nice round 9:00/mile; right on target. I just needed to even things out a bit.

So for 8 good miles, albeit a bit too fast, I'm giving myself a B-.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Put a Bow on Another One

2010 is over. It wasn't such a bad year, running wise. 7 races, 1424 miles.

I ran 3 marathons, adding 2 states and a repeat performance in California.

First was the Los Angeles Marathon in March. It is my home town race so I feel I should really love this race, but I don't. The new course for 2010 was a great route for folks seeking a destination race. It takes in all the best "tourist" attractions of the area. The start at Dodger Stadium and finish at the Santa Monica Pier are great elements, but like a kid who lives across the street from Disneyland, the rest of the route is "stale" for this local. Been there, done that. Running it with bronchitis wasn't my wisest move either.

Second was the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota in October. Check off State #17. If I lived in the Twin Cities I would do this race annually. It certainly is "The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America." We had wonderful racing weather and although I missed my goal of 4:00 I enjoyed pretty much every step of this race and got to see some good friends while I was there.

Third was the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque, NM. I ran this only 2 weeks after Twin Cities joining three of my running friends on the 50 state quest. There was nothing memorable about this race but I'm glad to have checked off State #18. I'm grateful for the ability to be able to continue the countdown to "Fifty Down". At my current rate I expect to get there in 2023!

Besides the three marathons I also ran 3 half marathons - Surf City, Orange County and Los Angeles County Holiday Half. I was super pumped to set a PR unexpectedly at Surf City in 1:45:11. In stark contrast, I ran Orange County with a friend (at his pace) and set an all time personal worst of 2:42. It wasn't my race to worry about and it was satisfying to pull Brian through to the finish line. Most recently the LA Holiday Half took me through Bonelli, my favorite venue.

I rounded out the races with a single 5K, the first one in a long time. Although not a PR, I was happy with my 23:46 effort.

I ended December with 127.3 miles, a 60% improvement over November. The year came in at 1424 miles, which is just about my average mileage over the last 6 years. One nice milestone for 2010 is that I passed the 10K mile milestone, having now run 10,188.2 career miles since June 2003. One bad thing is my weight is up, 10 to 15 pounds, from my lowest weight in 2004 - something to definitely work on in 2011.

Plans for the year ahead are still very fuzzy at this point. The only thing that is currently scheduled is the Livestrong Austin Marathon (State #19) on February 20. Others I'm considering are: Little Rock Marathon - March 6, Illinois Marathon - April 30, Cleveland Marathon - May 15, Fargo Marathon - May 21, or the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon (South Dakota) - June 5 and then who knows about the fall and winter. I'd also like to throw in a bunch of local 5K's to work on my speed again in 2011.

Other highlights for 2010 were two trips to Europe for work allowing we to run in Germany, around Paris and London and in Switzerland. A 2-week mission trip to Zimbabwe was a great experience and I even got to run 4 miles with our host in Ruwa. Lisa and I took a land/sea cruise to Alaska with my parents in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary and I found time to get some mileage in Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage and Skagway. I missed being able to combine the trip with a marathon in Anchorage or Fairbanks by 2 weeks on either end of our trip.

I hope you all met or made progress on your running goals in 2010 and wish you all the best in 2011.