Thursday, February 28, 2008

3 Days and Counting

The B & A Trail Half Marathon is just three days away and after a great long run, I've suffered this week.

Because of my travel schedule this week, I did my Wednesday "sorta long run" of seven miles on Tuesday. By a mile and a half in, I started to feel fatigued and a bit queasy. (I was thinking that the awesome Indian cauliflower and potato dinner from Monday night might not be sitting well. Maybe it was the second bowl.) Even sipping on my Gatorade made me feel worse. Regardless, I pressed on. Somehow, I made it through the seven, but it wasn't pretty, or fun.

From the gym, it was off to the airport. I have a pretty poor history of running on the road. All of the hotels I stay at have treadmills. Even my corporate HQ has treadmills and shower facilities. I have schlepped my gear way too many times for it not to see the light of day. This time, though I was determined -- particularly when a co-worker said they'd be hitting the fitness room early Wed. Now, I have accountability.

The alarm went off early Wednesday and I headed to the fitness room. Not a great run, but I've had worse. Struggled on endurance as I only made it half way of the 3 1/4 miles without walking. In the end, though, I made it through in okay time.

Wednesday night, after an all-day meeting, we headed to a local restaurant, Bella's, which serves the best veal marsala I've ever had. First, though, there were the appetizers of shrimp cocktail, roasted red peppers and mozzarella, and stuffed mushrooms. That with a couple glasses of wine left me full when the veal arrived. Oooh, it was good, but I could only finish half.

This morning came way too quick. I did diligently head down to the gym, but after just a mile, I was felt like crap and was toast. I gave in and headed back to get ready to go home. Not a great finish.

So tomorrow, I'm planning to finally get in a spin this week, then try for a good last short run before Sunday's half. I sure wish I still had Saturday's great feelings back.

Just need to get psyched.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Hey, I Finished My First Marathon!

OK, it only took, me a week to do it, but it was more than 26.2 miles . . . 27.5 miles to be exact. A new mileage high for a week, but it keeps going up from here.

With all of those miles, plus a spin class, plus a group weight class, I lost just 2/10 pound. I've definitely been treating some of my brick and long run days as licenses to eat. Saturday night I ate until I felt like I was going to pop. It had been a long time since I'd felt that way.

A loss is a loss, but hey, more is better.

I know I'm gonna regret this but the weather report for Sunday's Half Marathon is a low of 40, high 48, partly cloudy. Can't ask for much better than that. 6 days and counting.


Sunday, February 24, 2008


The good news is that March is right around the corner. Next week is the B&A Half and I'm pretty sure they won't let me run that on the treadmill. But for this weeks long run, the day after some icy precipitation, even the Team in Training run got postponed, so off I was to the gym.

The B&A fit pretty closely into my training plan, but not exactly. Next week's 10 scheduled would be 13.1. This week was a scheduled 13, so I figured I'd just swap weeks. Well, that was the plan before my great run last Saturday. When I got to the gym, my plan was to do 14. It would be my longest run ever, but I knew I had some flexibility if it got tough. I also came prepared this week with a couple of gels and Gatorade. Another change this week was addition of my mp3 player. Thinking through last week's run, I knew it would be tough to run through 3 repeats of Sports Center without a buddy to talk to.

After last week's 5 am start, 6 seemed almost like sleeping in. I pulled into the gym parking lot a few minutes after 6 and was on the 'mill around 6:20. Music going and the 'mill going at 5.7, I was off and running. Still concentrating on endurance and using 2.62 miles as my benchmark (10% of the full marathon), I cruised through that mark in about 27 minutes, still going strong. Next stop 5k, my longest to date. Done and feeling fine. Without drawing this out too long, I ran, non-stop, for ONE HOUR. Sixty minutes and 5.6 miles until the treadmill took a break at the 1 hour mark. Time for a gel break and a water refill.

From that point, I walked about 1/10 of a mile per mile and was feeling great up to about 10 miles, where the excitement about feeling great and my legs were starting to part company. Through 10 miles, I was able to maintain a sub-11 minute pace. Mile 11 was a bit slower, but at the 2 hour mark, I was slower but not speedy, maybe 12 minutes. Time for gel and water break #2.

The next few miles were really a struggle. At points, I was walking almost as much as running, but I was driven by the possibility of breaking 148 minutes for 13.1. Why 148 minutes? Well at 2:28 pace would represent a 40 minute pickup from the Philly half from September. And that I did. Sometime in the 148th minute, the odometer hit 13.10. Will I be able to replicate this next week? Don't know, but I'm sure to make progress weather and health permitting. The last mile was pure effort being close to the end. If the goal were 16 miles, no way would I have made it, but getting to the 13.1 left me close enough to 14 that I knew I'd get there if I had to walk the remaining 9/10 mile.

As the timer hit 160 minutes, I hit 14 miles and had completed my mission. Final pace of 11:26/mile, just a second or two off of last weeks 12 1/2 miler. As I stepped off of the treadmill, the pain started to set in immediately. Mostly my calves and the back of my upper legs. And my feet. Ankles, too. Oh, right, also my toes. . . and even my toe nails. A "quick" shower was not in the cards. A really slow one was. I don't know how long it took me to do my business and get out of the gym, but it seemed like forever.

I know there are things I could have done to alleviate the pain -- stretching comes to mind (and was highly recommended by Dave and then Deb, then by Deb again. Then, later on she said "I can't believe you didn't stretch." Then she said it again. And again. And maybe again. You get the point.) An hour of icing and a half bottle of ibuprofen did it's work and by late afternoon, I was moving a bit less gingerly.

Today, I can hardly tell I did 14 miles yesterday. Dave also suggested that I not do any activity until at least Tuesday. Sorry, buddy, not gonna happen. Spin and short run on tap tomorrow.

Just one week till the B&A and I'm ready to go!


Friday, February 22, 2008

A New Level

In the last 10 days or so, I feel like my running has moved to a new level. Last night, I posted a 4 mile treadmill run at 41:59 -- 10:29/mile. Not a PR, but pretty close. I'm consistently at or under 11 minutes now for my medium and short runs and well under 12 for my longer runs over 8 miles. Even better, I've managed to really cut down on the walk breaks. Last night, I took just one walk break and that came after 3.1 miles (5k), for just 1/10 mile.

Marathon training is going great (knock on wood) and, if I'm able to throw and extra 3 miles over plan in before next Friday, I'll hit 100 miles for the month a February -- a high mileage month by more than 50%. I'm actually starting to look forward to the long runs, too.

I really have to thank Karen, aka Pokey, for her post talking about getting back to running, rather than run/walking and Dave for suggesting I use a lower mph setting for my long runs. I know that this isn't earth shattering news, but sometimes you read stuff over and over and just don't listen when it's right in front of your face. I'm now starting slower than I was but, because I can endure longer, my times are improving. It's been quite a breakthrough. Could the sub-10 minute mile be far behind? Only question remaining is how the treadmill times will convert to the road. If I could just get my cold-allergic-wimpy-butt out on the road, I might find out.

Last night, Dave and I went to see Spirit of the Marathon. The movie follows six runners planning to run the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Two are elite professionals, two are repeat marathoners and two are first timers. The movie takes them from early training through marathon day. It's quite inspirational.

All for now.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Peaks and Valleys

Only good peaks and valleys this week.

Starting with the peaks, yesterday was my 12th anniversary. Every day is a peak with Deb. I couldn't have found a better partner. She's amazing and she's the best. No better peaks that that!

I hit my peak mileage this past week -- 25 miles, one more than the training plan, a few more than my prior weekly high mileage. No weights last week, but I did get in a couple of spin classes. No issues here.

Then there's the valley -- that would be my weight. A good valley -- a new low of 238.2, down 2.1 pounds from last week.

So it's all good. Gotta make a note to remember last week when I hit a plateau or don't feel like hitting the gym.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jordan Jr.?

I need to start off not talking about what I planned to talk about, but something else entirely.

My family has not been blessed with a huge amount of athletic ability. It's not that we don't like to compete, it's just that, like most people, that natural ability gene just isn't present. My kids play all the sports -- baseball, football, basketball, karate -- but generally aren't the first picked on the teams.

My eldest has been playing basketball this winter and has been on a pretty good team with a great coach. He's learned so much, as have all the boys, and it's been great to watch them come along this season.

So, yesterday was the last game before the playoffs and the the kids are all looking forward to playing. My son is scheduled to play the first three qtrs. In the first qtr, he misses a couple of shots and makes one to equal his season high 2 pts. Game is tied at 6. In the second qtr, he gets fouled on a shot and makes 1 of 2, but the other team's big guy makes a few. 13-9 at the half.

Third quarter, my boy starts to look like the next Michael Jordan and he knocks in two baskets, has a clean steal and he's just on fire. His team mates recognized the hot hand and were actually feeding the ball to him. After 3, they were back on top 19-16. Deb and I just had proud smiles on our faces and one of the other dads asked me what he put on his Wheaties for breakfast.

In the end, the other team tied it up, but our guys finished them off 27-23. What an exciting and proud game.


Saturday is long run day and time and weather being what they are, I wasn't excited about running early in the upper 20's with the Team in Training crew. With 12 miles on the schedule, I needed a warmer plan.

Talking to my buddy Dave, he planned to hit the treadmill early to get in his 17 as his next big event is in 5 weeks. "I'm going to the club at 5 to hit the 'mill, wanna meet me there?" When? 5 am? 5 am, Saturday? "Yeah." Hmm, let me see what else I have going on at 5. Let's make that 4, alarm clock time. Amazingly, my calendar is free. Sure, I'm in!

At 4:06, as the birds on my alarm clock were chirping, I finally opened my eyes and hit the floor. When I gave Deb a kiss goodbye, she instructed me to kick Dave's butt on the 'mill. One thing I knew is that I'd be able to at least keep up. Dressed and out the door, I met up with Dave at my club at the agreed upon 0450. Not surprisingly, the crowds were non-existant. By a few minutes after 5, we were off and running.

With 12 miles on the schedule, Dave suggested I keep my speed down so that I could run somewhat comfortably for 2+ hours. What I like about the treadmills at my club is that they each have their own tv. We pretty much kept to our headsets. I settled in for the first hour nicely at a 5.7 mph pace. I normally start at 5.7 and move up and down around 6 mph over the course of the runs, but for today, 5.7 would work. I was able to run without stopping for the first 3.5 or so, then just about 1/10 of a mile for each mile run. I was feeling pretty good. Oh, and Dave, he was rocking at 7.6.

In the second hour, we did some talking. Kinda weird for me since I'm used to running alone. It was very comfortable, and I was able to converse fairly easily as my heart rate stayed around the upper 140's. In the last few minutes, Dave pushed up to 9.0, so I figured it was time to kick his butt -- I bumped to 9.1, which he matched, then bumped to 9.2. After 1/10 mile, it was time to cool down. Dave had hit his 17 and I had banked 12.5.

Along the way, there were a number of very important questions answered. Treadmills are obviously not designed for long runs, though there is no penalty for doing them. It's just that you never know how the computer will handle the bigger numbers. I know that these machines stop at an hours, though they restart with time and distance ongoing with the push of a button. Question is what happens after 99 minutes with just four number spots on the display. I figured that the machine would again stop and reset. Gladly, I was wrong, it just converts to minutes only, no seconds. Second question was answerd at the 2 hr point -- would it stop there? Answer is no -- just keeps on ticking. I guess we'd be good to 9,999 minutes. No worries!

Oh yeah, the time. 143 minutes -- a pace of 11:27. Pretty good, considering the distance. With that said, I had no elevation on the machine, so I wouldn't expect to go that fast on the roads, but I felt really good in the end. Probably the first time I've felt confident about the big one to come. I could have definitely kept it going for a while longer. Now, I really can't wait for the B&A half in two weeks.

So much for the longest treadmill report in history!


Monday, February 11, 2008

What a Week

Another week in the books and all signs are positive. I seem to have the diet back under control as I've dropped the 1.7 that I gained last week. Looking forward to more positives (or actually, negatives) on that front in the weeks to come.

I've already outlined some of my exercise for last week, but it was a great week all the way around. 21 miles total run in addition to two spin classes and one group power class. Just concentrating on running rather than run/walking seems to be working as I posted a 10:50 average on Friday for 5 miles and broke that with a 10:42 for 5k this morning. Could a sub-10 minute mile be far off???

The marathon training plan has 24 miles on the schedule for this week with a 12-miler on tap for the weekend. The miles just increase from here. The next week shorter than this one is not until late April.

Looking forward to more fun in the week to come.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feeling Fine

I'm scared to say it, but after yesterday's nine miles, I am feeling fine today. A bit sore this morning, but nothing out of the ordinary.

What's most exciting is that I was able to run seven of the nine miles on the road, essentially pain free. I guess the custom orthotics are doing the trick. (And they better, since I'm in the midst of debating their "medical necessity" with my health insurance company and may have to foot the bill myself. I dunno, walking without pain shouldn't be a luxury, right? Anyway, I digress. . .)

As for the rest of the training, I'll probably keep the weekday runs on the 'mill and the weekends on the road. With that confirmed, it would be great to slip in an event in the midst of all the long training runs. What luck -- in a couple of weeks, the Annapolis Striders are running the B & A Trail Marathon and Half Marathon. The Trail is a 13 mile paved walkway that attracts lots of runners, walkers, skateboarders, etc. I've ridden my bike there on a couple of occasions. I didn't even know about the run until I saw Katie talk about running the half. Planets aligning as they have, I'm mailing my check in tomorrow. (Oh yeah, check out the swag, too: All registered marathon and half marathon runners will receive a custom-designed hunter green fleece vest with zippered side and chest pockets. Suwheet!)

Here's to staying healthy!


Saturday, February 9, 2008

9 Divided By 3 Equals 9 on the Ninth

Today being Febuary 9th, it's time for

Non-Runner Nancy's 9 on the 9th Sweetheart Shuffle. Being one to never pass up a challenge, I signed up!

The plan was to do hit the local park and run 3 miles prior to the Team in Training scheduled 6 mile run to make the 9. Well, you know what happens to the best laid plans.

Morning came and I was up plenty early to get to the park by 7:15 to do my pre-run, but time just slipped away and I spent some time chatting with Deb instead. (Much nicer, I think, than running around in the sub-40 breeze for an extra hour.) So, the next plan was to add 3 at the end.

I got to the park and met all the Team in Training folks. Much to my surprise, out of 15 or so first timers, there were only a couple of us doing the Frederick full. Most were doing the Frederick half, San Diego half or Mayor's Midnight Marathon Half in Alaska. Regardless, after a few comments from coach Karen and a brief presentation from the owner of a local running store, she explained the route and we were off. For the first mile and a half, I was able to run with one of the coaches. Nice guy. Was kinda wierd for me to not be running either alone or in a room full of treadmills. He was running a half, so only had 3 miles on the schedule -- at 1 1/2, he turned back, I kept going.

Mile marker two was the water stop. For sure, the biggest benefit of running with the group. They had water and Gatorade put behind a big green transformer. When I arrived, there were four or five others ahead of me. I stopped for a couple of minutes, then headed off, leaving the group behind to socialize.

The three mile marker was the turn around point and I hit the water stop again on the way back. This time, on my own. Now four miles in, I've been able to run without stopping, other than for water.

After a quick drink, it's back towards the park. At about mile 5 1/2, the run goes on a gradual, but long uphill grade. Now, I'm walking, but feeling pretty good about getting to this point with only stopping for water twice. I trudged up the hill, then came back into the park. Total distance measured by Garmin: 6.25 in 1:16:48, a pace of 12:17/mile, including stops .

So how did I get to nine? Well, I got home and my eldest was at his basketball game. I went inside briefly, then took off by foot for the 3/4 miles to the middle school where he plays. After the game (a heartbreaking loss) I finished with two on the treadmill.

9 miles done, 3 "runs" in 1:48:27, an overall average of 12:03/mile. Not bad for my first street running (well, 7 miles of it, at least) in almost 3 months.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Running. . . I mean, Running

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, before ankle injuries and paranoia set it, I could run 2 miles without stopping. They weren't a particularly fast two miles -- pretty close to 12 minute miles, but they were running, none the less.

Since the fall, most of my running has been in fits and spurts. I usually knock out the first mile without a problem, but after that, it's run/walk/run the rest of the way, whatever that is.

Reading Pokey's blog the other day got me to thinking about how I need to get back to working on endurance RUNNING.

So this morning, I set out to run. My plan was for 5 miles, but it's been a long time since I've run continuously for more than 1.5, so I figured I'd shoot for 2 continuous and I'll work up from there. Along with this, I decided to put less emphasis on the speed. Normally I start at 5.7 mph on the treadmill and increase from there. Today, 5.7 would be the magic number.

The first mile was no sweat, as usual. As I thought through the process, I realized I'd been using the walk breaks as a crutch more than anything. At 5.7, my heart rate was at about 150, but didn't feel overwhelming. I think I could have conversed somewhat comfortably (assuming someone wanted to talk to me.) From there, my body naturally started to push me to walk, but I didn't give in. I kept going through 1.5, past 2 and managed 2.3 miles before my first walk break. I never touched the speed setting.

Ultimately, it was a great 5 miles. In the end, I finished the 5 in 54:08, an average of 10:50/mile -- a new PR. I know I could have kept going, too.

Tomorrow will be my first outdoor run since November. It is scheduled for a 6 miler at Centennial Park with Team In Training. My plan is to head out early and do another 3 to participate in Non-Runner Nancy's 9 on the 9th . I'll let you know how I do tomorrow!


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wow, Am I Late!

The last few days have been crazy. My dad had a procedure on his heart yesterday, but all looks good and he should be coming home from the hospital this afternoon.

Since I posted last, the scale has been sliding back in the right direction, however not enough to keep the week at a gain of 1.7 to 242.0. My exercise levels continue to increase and I'm thinking (hoping) that it's more an issue of increased muscle that will ultimately work in my favor.

Very good mileage for the week -- a total of 21.1 miles, including an 8 mile long run, and four others around 3 1/4 each. Last week's 8 miler was 5 1/2 minutes faster than the week before. Only difference was that I took a spin class prior to the 8 miler the week before. This week I did the 8, then spin.

Speaking of that Saturday spin, the 8am class is taught by Homer, a middle aged guy, maybe late 40's, with a spare tire to boot. Now, I sure don't mind looking at the usual variety of instructors -- mid-20's women with 4% body fat (just looking, Deb!) -- but it's nice to see an "ordinary guy" running one of these, for sure.

Without a doubt, Homer is the "King of Pain". This class rocks and the pain is evident across the board. Plenty of sicko's love the pain, cause there's always a long waiting list for Homer's classes. Lots of in and out of the saddle. Lots of speed work. You name it, The King throws it out there -- and he's happy to dish it out!

Saturday was the first time I ran before a spin class. Saturday was the last time I'll run before a spin class, espeically The King's class. Ten minutes in and I was calculating how early I could bolt without being noticed. Fifteen minutes and I thought I'd need a wheel chair to get to the locker room. As the clock continued, I managed to stick it out. Never made all of Homer's UP - DOWN - UP - DOWN's, but I did make it to the end.

I mentioned that I'm Walking Across Arizona (WAA). This was the first week for that. In calculating mileage for WAA, they allow you to convert other types of exercise into mileage. That works out pretty well -- spin classes work out to 1 mile per quarter hour. Just about everything counts. With a goal of 25.6 miles per week, I was able to count 32.6 miles for the week. The Mexican border is long out of my rear view mirror, looking forward to touring Tucson.

I think I'm caught up now.