Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Philadelphia Marathon - 11/23/08

So long time no posting. Busy family + busy job + 70 mpw left blogging on the cutting room floor. I did keep training this fall though and ran the Philly Marathon this past weekend.

My biggest fear going into the marathon was what would happen after mile 20. I was very confident in my ability to roll through mile 20 on a great pace, but what would happen to me physically after that was anyone's guess. Coming out of September and a hard HM I've struggled with a hamstring strain and I knew that at some point the marathon would expose this. It was more a question of when than if.

I spent a lot of time picking the brains of some friends - including one with almost 75 marathons under his belt and they were hugely helpful. The plan, based on my condition and background, was to take it out easy through 8 or 10 (the end of the bigger hills on the Philly course), then pick it up. I had run 15+ @ MP in training, so a plan like that would put me in the position of being pretty fresh at mile 10, then more or less doing a run I've done before, and left with just a few miles to wrap things up.

Race-week in Philly broke in a January cold come early. Sunday morning was low 20s with a teens windchill. Possibly the only upside to this was that it let me obsess for the last few days over something I at least had some control over - what to wear! Ultimately I went with my original plan, race shorts, tank top, compression sleeves.

Race morning I was up around 4 and it was as cold as predicted. Thankfully the corral was pretty packed and not too cold.

It was cold enough though that the air horn froze and would work, so the race started with a countdown instead.

I intentionally started a little further back than I would have knowing that it would force me to start at a more relaxed pace. We crossed the line and wooosh, underway. I tried to limit my picking and moving up.

The crowds in the first mile or two were thicker than I was used to, and I missed the first mile marker if it was even out there. Mile 2 split came by 13:27, 6:43 pace, a little on the slow side but around what I was looking for on those miles. As we moved onto Delaware Ave, I picked the pace up a bit and went through the 5k with a split just over 20:30.

The next few miles lead to a confusing cycle of "easy on the gas" / "easy on the brake". I don't know if my internal spedo was off or if some of the miles were mis-makred but I saw splits like mile 6 (6:16) then 7 (6:49)? Huh? The run up Chestnut street is one of the best parts of this course and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I remember moving up in that 6th mile and hearing 2 spectator guys commenting on me and how relaxed I looked. I took that as a good sign. Miles 8 & 9 have a good uphill portion and I settled in a small group. I was trying to be conscious to keep my pace & my breathing well under control - I wanted to hit the 10 and the HM feeling fresh. I settled in for most of miles 8 & 9 with a Philly guy and we just chatted about the weather and the pace.

The amount of conversation that goes on during a marathon was a surprise to me. I'm used to a little more spitting and gasping for air.

Coming up in mile 9 & 10 the course heads up toward Memorial Hall and a confusing set of twists and turns. Every time I looked up I saw hordes of runners shooting off in some opposing direction. The 10 mile checkpoint was a biggie for me. I thought that a number of the previous splits had been off and I knew that if I wanted to hit my goal for the first half (1:25) I needed to get through 10 in around 65. I saw the 10 mile marker and my watch and knew I wasn't close enough. 10 miles in 65:41.

I was a little pissed. I had wanted to be relaxed in the first 10 but I also wanted to put myself in a position for a strong time and being off pace at that point was not something I was happy about - I had planned for high 6:20s and averaged mid 6:30s.

I told myself not to get too fired up and not to try to make it all up by the half.

So of course, I ditched my last layer and got all fired up and made it all up by the half.

Next 3 miles as we worked down onto West River Drive and toward the Art Museum - 6:13, 6:15, 6:17. I made it to the HM just under 1:25.

I knew that my wife Jen and some family were waiting just after the half. As we came past the Art Museum and headed out toward Kelly Drive my heart started to sink - I was sure I had missed them. But no - they were right on the turn for our last last legit hill and I took the boost from seeing them into a spurt past the group I was with and up to 2 West Point cadets who I ran with for a bit (and who insisted on calling me sir!).

When we came back down Lemon Hill and onto Kelly Drive I all of a sudden felt at home in my race. The first half, starting slow and mixed in with the HM runners was much more crowded than I was used to, but by mile 14 I was in much more familiar territory - small groups of people, fairly spread out.

Outside of seeing family and friends on the course, in retrospect miles 14-19 were my favorites of the race. The crowds really disappeared, the packs had thinned out and it was just me and my thoughts. I started putting down the miles I had planned on and was feeling really good. I was just moving from small pack to small pack, chatting with them briefly, then moving on again. (Splits - 6:15,6:22,6:23,6:18,6:14).

A good friend of mine, and the guy who had really gotten me into running 3 years ago - rode his bike down to the bottom of Lincoln Drive (right before Manayunk) and I was ecstatic to see him there. Pretty much as soon as I passed him though things took a turn for the worse. I had started to feel some cramping in my hamstring back maybe as far as mile 15. But my pace had been ok. Now it was starting to hurt.

Mile 19 was a downhill mile into the turnaround. I would have through that would be easy on the hamstring, but it just started getting tighter and tighter. I was looking for a place to stretch and just not really able to comprehend that there were still 6+ miles left. I made the turnaround and a guy I had just passed passed me back. As best I can recall he was the only person to pass me after the 10 mile mark, but that could be a hazy lie. ;)

Mile 20 I was going back uphill and out of Manayunk. I tried to relax a little in that mile and looking for people I knew coming down the hill. I tried to keep the turnover going and mentally relax everything I could to take the stress of my hamstring. I made it up the hill and back to my friend. He remarked later that I looked a lot better on the way in (when we talked) than on the way out (where I just slapped his hand).

Somehow in mile 22 I came back around (6:18). I remember passing people and seeing a bit of a crowd at the Falls Bridge. I knew deep down at this point that I would make it, and probably in a decent time.

To be honest, I don't really remember much of 23-25. I would just focus on the person in front of me, reel them in a step at a time, then on to the next. Based on the crowd I knew I was moving up through the top 5 women (who has a good race going on) and I started keeping away to pass to not interfere in any of that.

I remember being careful going through the water stops, since they were icing up and putting down rock salt. I stopped drinking Gatorade after getting a slushy mix that dropped my core temp in a hurry.

As the crowds started to get thicker into mile 26 the cramps started to get worse, but at that point it was just a matter of trying to keep my leg tracking straight and moving forward.

At mile 26 or so I somewhat saw (or really heard) my wife, family, but I can't say I was really able to focus on them.

Then, as slowly in real life as it is now quick in memory, it was up a short hill and woosh, into the chute and I heard the kick cheer squad erupt in the stands, then I was done and my left leg was swinging at a crazy angle and I was grabbing at trash cans and people who looked more stable than me and trying to stay on my feet.

Official time - 2:49:11. 80th overall.

First 10: 1:05:41 6:34 pace
Second 10: 1:03:06 6:18 pace
Last 10k: 40:24 6:31 pace

I was lucky that my family was there when I came out of the chute - if for nothing else than to help me get some clothes on! Within minutes of finishing I was shaking like a leaf.

Perhaps my biggest regret at this point was that no one had a camera ready to capture my mom's expression when I started pulling various pieces of clothing out of my race shorts that I had stuffed down there in a desperate attempt to keep my crotch warm!

It was a great run and I was really ecstatic to hit my goal.

Here's some pictures that my wife took on race day:

Me at mile 26:

Going past:

Trying to warm up:

And that's the Philly Marathon for ya:

Numbers for those of you who care about that sort of thing:
1: 6:43.5
2: 6:43.5 (based on 13:27)
3: 6:20
4: 6:34
5: 6:21
6: 6:16
7: 6:49
8: 6:44
9: 6:26
10: 6:39
11: 6:13
12: 6:17
13: 6:15
14: 6:15
15: 6:22
16: 6:23
17: 6:18
18: 6:14
19: 6:27
20: 6:22
21: 6:29
22: 6:18
23: 6:27
24: 6:36
25: 6:31
26: 6:27
.2: ?

Some takeways:

- The weather was tough. I've never raced in weather that cold before and I can't say I'm anxious to do it again. On the plus side, you feet don't sweat much when they are frozen.
- I upgraded from my normal racing flats to a (slightly) heavier show (Asics Speedstar). I think I would have been fine with new T5s.
- I don't think I was really close to running out of gas at any point, but I was pretty close to running out of time on how much more pulling my hamstring could do. I think it might have been ugly if I had gone out hard.
- As everyone says, but you don't don't really know what they mean until you do it, the marathon really is a very different beast than the shorter races.
- The slow start / faster finish probably saved my leg enough for the end. It might not be an optimal plan for time, but it is fun passing people for the last 16! :)

The next few weeks will be an off season for me, so again with the no blogging! Hopefully in the spring the time will be there for some more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Philly Distance Run - 9/21/08

This Sunday was the Philly Distance Run. This was my 3rd time running the PDR and my 3rd HM.

My goals going in were to PR and run 1:15.

My wife also ran this race as her first HM with a local friend - Alexis. Both got their goal with and both PR'd with a 1:55. I am so excited and proud of them both!

This race was not going to be a goal race for me. That said, I hurt my back early last week on a work all-nighter and ended up trying to balance enough rest to get my back in shape with a couple fast workouts to be ready for a HM.

Based on last years race, I also had some sub-goals - I wanted to get out quicker than I have in the past, stay focused through the middle miles, and get into a pack for the last 3-4 miles.

My plan this year was to go out at low 5:40 pace and give myself the chance to run a 1:15 low and have a chance at a 14 if everything went well. I went out on plan - 5k around 17:40 and 10k at 35:30.

Around mile 3 or 4 I picked out a guy about 30 seconds ahead of me that I knew from some local 5ks. His stride is unmistakeable. I made it my mission to keep my eyes locked on him and try to reel him in over the next couple miles. Last year I struggled to keep focus in miles 6-8.

The plan worked and around mile 8 I caught the guy. Looking at my splits now, it was as much him slowing down as it was me keeping up. We said our hellos and ran together a bit. He asked how I was doing and by 8 I knew I was getting tight.

I hung with a decent-sized pack from 8-10. 10 mile was about 57:30 - about 25 seconds off my 10 mile PR. A cool moment - as we came up the hill towards the Falls Bridge I looked off to my right and coming off the bridge and down Kelly Drive was the lead pack, and in the mile or so I could see between us all, all the chase packs. Very cool.

At the 10 mile mark I knew that I would need a sub-17:30 5k to get close to 1:14 high. With the rising sun and the heat, I was beginning to cramp up (hamstrings, back, shoulders), and I knew my chances weren't great. As the last 5k played out it became a battle to hang on for a PR. Every mile went by felt a little slower and while I knew I had some time in the bank, I knew it was slipping away.

That said I was running as fast as I could. Between the heat and the fast early pace, it was taking it's toll. I saw a lot of low 1:teens guys ripping off shirts, a few dropping out and a few slowing to a walk. That was surprising.

I was dry-mouthed and couldn't get enough water down in the water stops to change that.

Unlike last year, there wasn't a lot of horse-trading in the last few miles. I was in a small pack of guys that strung out as we got close to the finish and didn't swap any places for the last mile or 2.

Finish was 1:15:50 - a PR by about 25 seconds.

Overall I was really happy with the results. I ran according to plan - given better conditions I think there was a little more there, but it was easily the hardest I've run a HM.

My splits were: 5:40,5:40,5:44,5:42,4:56,6:33,(mile 5 was obviously off so probably 5:44, 5:45), 5:46, 5:49, 5:47, 5:49, 5:55, 5:54, 5:55

So what did I learn? Well, I ran the perfect race plan for 2007. :) I knew it was warming up faster than I thought by mile 1 or 2 but kept with the plan. By the time the 10K came around at that pace - there weren't many options left - I was committed. It was a struggle to hang on and PR but I was glad i did.

Overall: 1:15:50, 118th overall, 15th AG.

The PDR has always been a fun race - it's a great fun, fast race. It was great to see so many KR people there.

Some photos from Jen's husband Matt:

Me at mile 5 or so, feeling pretty good:

Then again, around 20K. As Matt said, I looked a little better at 5 miles:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Week of 9/1

Mon: 5 easy
Tue: 9+ with tempo, backed it off to start since the temps were over
80, but picked it up 5:56,5:51,5:50,5:44,5:50, felt good
Wed: 5 easy
Thu: 11 @ 7:10 pace
Fri: 13 @ 7 pace
Sat: 8 easy
Sun: 21 progression in 2:31, last 2 in the 6:30s, felt good

For a total of 72+, a new high for me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week of 8/25

Cutback week this week, and it was about time. The little nagging
things were piling up and my legs were a little tired, so it was nice
to take a little break. Of course a cutback week is also a good time
for a tune-up race, right? Right? That's was a funny.

Just over 52 miles.

Mon - 5 easy
Tues - 5000 on the track, 16:54, led for about a mile and a half to
pace a friend to a PR, 2nd OA
Wed - 5 easy
Thus - 11 harder
Fri - 14 hard
Sat - 0
Sun - easy 10

In September I've got 2 half marathons coming up, one this weekend and
then the PDR on the 21st. This weekend is just for fun - I'll
probably do it as a marathon pace workout. The PDR I will run hard.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Week of 8/18

Another week in the books. Still just putting on the miles but I had
a good tempo this week and my first 20 ever on Sunday.

Monday: 0. A real actual honest day off.
Tuesday: 9 with 4 at tempo - 5:37,5:39,5:35,5:43. I felt strong but
kind of all over the place form-wise.
Wednesday: 14, 7:30 pace overall, nothing fast than 7:15. Kinda sore
around the edges from the tempo.
Thursday: Easy 5
Friday: 10+
Saturday: 5 easy
Sunday: 20 in 2:26, felt pretty good, took a few slow to warm up then
just hovered in the 7:10 range. A little tired at the end. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Week of 8/11

I ran a total of 67+ miles last week, which is pretty high for me. At
this mileage I start to feel it a little with the aches and pains, so
I'm sure I'll get a few weeks into the 70s, but I don't have plans to
go significant;y higher - just to hang out between 60-75 mpw and build
some strength in that zone.

Monday: 5 easy
Tuesday: 9+ at a moderate pace with 10 striders
Wednesday: 14, average low 7s, middle 10 were all 6:40-7:00
Thursday: 5 easy
Friday: 18 @ 7:20 avg, started slow, then walked it down to the high 6s, low 7s
Saturday: easy 5
Sunday: easy 11

The long run right now is definitely the hardest workout I'm doing.
I'm pretty tapped out by 18 miles, so I know that these runs are doing
me some good.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wha Happenin?

Now my 2 year old son's favorite line. "Daddy, wha happenin?". Sit
and watch Cars with him and you'll hear it an even hundred times.

So, wha happenin?

Mostly just got busy with life and work. I ran that 5K on the Fourth
of July - much the same as my other efforts this spring - 16:55 or
somewhere thereabouts. I took some downtime the next week or so after
that, then started in with a base building plan for the fall. I've
decided that I'm going to train this fall a little bit more like I did
last year - higher miles, more LT pace workouts, and focus on some
longer races for the fall. I decided that I could use some aerobic
development for the fall so I've started my season by following the
Pfitzinger 18/70 plan. The last 3 weeks have been just around 60
miles with a 15-17 long run.

I'll probably do a 5k late this month for a fitness check. In
September, I've got a couple half marathons. I'm doing a trail HM
early in the month - probably just as a good hard workout. Then the
PDR in late September. I'll run that one hard but don't really expect
to be in great shape by then. I'll probably plan on something at the
Philly Marathon in late November for a peak race.

This past week, 62 miles and my first tempo run of the fall season, 4
miles at 5:45 pace.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ambler YMCA Summer Solstice 5K

This race report is subtitled by Jen: "I can't handle you and this 5K
thing anymore." <grin>

It was kinda stormy here last night but I figured as long as they were
going to have the race I would run it. When I got there I tried to
avoid the crowds by stretching out under the football stadium
bleachers. It was pretty muddy and drippy, but I thought that beat
just getting soaked in the parking lot.

I saw a few faces I recognized warming up, but not a ton.

The race was about 20 minutes late getting started. I don't know if
this was because they were really waiting for the storms to pass, or
if they were just a bit disorganized.

I was picking out all the fast looking people out front, and (as I
usually do) tried to pick out who I thought was the fastest. And as
usual, I was wrong.

My hamstring has been bugging me on and off since last week's race and
it was still tight in warmups. I don't think the 20 minutes of
standing at the line and occasionally doing a strider really helped.

The race had a funny start. They had been going through
announcements, letting sponsors talk, singing the national anthem,
etc. Then a woman got up and said "Runners I have one more
annoucement... take your marks HONK!". I was like, whoa crap, she
just started the race!

I got a spasm in my hamstring about 400m in, and that made me pretty
nervous, but it faded.

It was a big field, but we all got off cleanly. There were a lot of
high school kids there and one crazy dude with an iPod on who went
through the half mile in probably 2:20. I was thinking I did not want
to be that dude at mile 2. I was in maybe 10th place at the half
mile. I saw a local guy I know starting to settle into a groove and
some of the HS kids started coming back, so I got in behind him.

At mile 1 I was next to another guy and a few steps behind first.
Mile one was 5:04. Uh-oh! It sure didn't feel that fast.

Mile 2 went onto a short nature path that was a nice change up. I
felt pretty strong and was able to keep the leader less than 10-15m in
front of me. There was no 2 mile split, but I'm pretty sure I was
around 10:20 or so.

We went around a sharp turn on the course here and I could see that I
had a good gap on #3.

At this point I thought I was sitting pretty. I thought I could feel
#1 starting to fade and I thought that I might have enough to get him
and the PR.

Then right around minute 11 I got a sharp cramp in the hamstring.
Owie. I thought about stoppping, but this season has been too long to
give up on a race.

The last mile was just painful and my stride was falling apart.
Number 3 caught me just as we headed onto the track for the finish and
I really just couldn't extend to keep up with him.

So I was 3rd overall in 16:53, about 5 seconds behind #2 and 15
seconds behind #1 - both guys that I know.

I won a nice dinner gift certificate for placing. Now all I need is a
race that gives out babysitters!

Those ugly splits look something like 5:04, 5:15, 5:55 pace. Ouch!

The hamstring is still pretty sore today, but I'm going to see what I
can do about pulling one or two more races out of it before I call it
a season.

So I am a little disappointed, I thought I was in a good position for
a PR, but I knew it was a little risky going in. The hamstring was a
big factor, the first mile was too fast. Kind of a dumb mistake on my
part. It didn't feel that fast going out.

Fun race overall though, nice course.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jenkintown Summer Sunset 5K - 6/11

Last night was my hometown 5k. This is really one of my favorite
races and it's the only race I've run every year since I started
running. Our town is an old-school small town just outside of Philly.
Picture 1920s houses, kids walk to school, small downtown, that kind
of thing.

The race winds in and around the town so I know the roads and the
course like the back of my hand. They have been running it for almost
20 years now.

The turnout is just great. I don't know how many people there were -
but it was easily 300-350 people. I was joking with a neighbor that
we probably knew half the field. That's only a slight exaggeration.
We run a team every year just from our street. Go Team Hillside!

It's a big event for our town. Kids come out with handmade signs,
people sit out on the front lawns to cheer, it's a blast.

So have I talked you into coming next year?

My brother's girlfriend was around to watch the kids, so Jen and I
went over to pick up numbers and warmup around 6. It was still warm
(low 80s?) but waayyy better then it was over the weekend. I was
happy to see that the guy who co-owns the local running store was
running it. He is an excellent runner so I knew there would be
someone to chase.

Warming up was fun, and I did a little bit of it with Jen. They had a
DJ warming up the crowd and when it was time to head for the line he
played the Chariots of Fire theme. Now that's knowing your audience!
I felt loose and ready to go.

I lined up front with the running store guy, a bunch of guys from the
running store team, practically the whole HS XC team and as many other
people who we could squeeze up there.

Things started fast as they tend to do when there are a ton of HS
kids. I let them go and just stuck off he shoulder of the running
store guy. By the half mile it was me, him and a guy in a backwards

The first mile of the course is almost entirely downhill. There's one
stretch with a pretty good downhill for about 4 blocks. I settled
into 3rd here - I really need to work on my downhill running. It was
still the 3 of us ahead by a bit but I could hear an enormous pack
thundering just behind me, so I was running scared.

I hit the first mile at 5:15. That would be a great split for me
right now for a flat race, but it worried me a little since what goes

Mile 2 is rolling, but generally downhill. Here running store guy
really started to pull away and hat guy was slowly opening a a bigger
gap. Every time we hit a downhill he would add another meter or 2.

Jen told me later that there were all sorts of people we knew out on
this stretch cheering, but I honestly don't remember seeing any of

I could totally feel the burn starting around 1.5 miles. Right at the
2 mile mark, you make a hard left and it's pretty much all uphill from

At this point hat guy had maybe 15 meters on me and running store guy
was a good way up the hill.

I have really struggled in the 5k with making moves late in the race.
When I am running so close to the red line it's just mentally and
physically really hard to get it together and hunt somebody down.

As we started up the hill I thought about settling for third (I was
third last year). Then somehow I decided that I have run that hill
too many times to settle for third. 15 meters became 10, which became
5. About halfway up the hill I finally pulled up on his shoulder,
then pushed past.

I'd like to think that I hammered it hard and put a gap on him, but I
think the reality is that we were both dying and I was just dying
less. Maybe that's the same thing.

Once you hit the top of the hill, it's kind of deceiving. There's
about .75 left and you think it should be flattening out, but it's
still just trending uphill.

Once I got past hat guy, I tried to focus on just turning my legs
over. My hamstrings were totally starting to tighten up.

I pushed as hard as I could over the last .5 mile but the gap on
running store guy was too big for me to close at that point. He ran a
16:35, I was second in 16:50. The kiddos were at a playground and
there is nothing that can get you to hammer like hearing "GOOOO
DADDDYYYYY!!!" Hat guy was about 20-25 seconds back so I had put a
decent gap on him.

After the finish I was just obliterated and my legs were shredded. I
headed back out onto the course with the best jog that I could manage
to cheer on the neighbors coming in and look for Jen. When she came
by I hopped out and tried to run with her a bit, but she was going too
fast so I just gave a big cheer and walked over to meet her at the

Overall, I'm very happy with the race. I said yesterday that I would
be ecstatic with anything under 17 on that course, and I am. I'm
really proud of coming back to close a gap and beat somebody - I have
never done that late in a race and have sometimes doubted that I
could. Plus it was a 25 second improvement over last year on the same

Grace and I after the race:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Oy Vey 5K

Oy Vey indeed. A bank sign across the street from the race said 91 at
9 am. Plus crazy muggy, which really is worse.

I met a guy before the race who's a local HS track coach and was
looking to run a similar time. We talked about maybe taking it out
hard, but by
the time we were done warming up, the sun had come out and it was just
brutal. I wasn't just wet after a 2 mile jog, I was saturated.

Jen and I had also had the kiddos out on Saturday at a carnival, so i
was already half-baked form that.

Needless to say, we took it out easy. If the guy with the watch was in
the right place, we ran a 6:10 first mile and the both of us were just
chatting. He might have been late, I think we started a little faster
than that. At that point there were 2 guys behind us.

There was no 2 mile split, so I'm just guessing that maybe we ran 5:50
for the second mile, and at that point there was no one within sight
behind us. Maybe all the smart
people stayed home.

We cranked the last mile, maybe 5:10 pace, if all those numbers add
up. He had a bigger kick than me and I was 2nd in 17:40.

Hopefully he weather breaks a little bit by Wednesday night for the
Jenkintown 5K.

Monday, June 2, 2008



Sunday afternoon added 10 around 7:30 pace as a rare double.

June Fete 5k 6/1

Saturday I had plans to go to a track meet and try out a 5000 on the
track, but dicey weather led me to skip it.

Sunday though, my wife was already planning to run a low-key local 5k
that benfits our local hospital. So we got a babysitter and I came

I ran into Chuck - a great local runner - warming up for the race. He
and I run together sometimes at the local running store, but with my
schedule I haven't made it there in a few months. He's a great runner
and I was sure he would keep the pace honest, although he had just
raced Saturday at the track meet that I bagged on. I didn't warmup
quite as much as I usually would, but did a some stretching and a
short jog and decided to let someone else go out first.

The race had a pretty goofy start - they lined us up in a narrow
driveway, and we would run down that driveway and make a quick hard
left out onto the road. I decided that I was going to be the first one
around that corner and it wasn't a bad idea, since I heard someone
behind get caught up on the curb and go down hard.

When we went around the corner I immediately backed off and let
someone else take the lead. It was funny, there was a pretty big pack
of us that stuck together, probably a dozen guys or so for the first
mile. It's pretty unusual to have that many people up front in a small
race. The first mile "marker" went by at maybe 5:35, but it didn't
really feel that fast. The course was really winding and hilly so it
was hard to judge. I think it was really probably closer to 5:50. It
was also not the best marked course - there were a few places they had
marked a turn and then sent someone back to say not to turn there.

For the first mile, Chuck and I stayed on either side of he pack, and
no one made a move get get away. After the first mile marker Chuck & I
started to pick it up and string the pack out a bit. One guy stuck
with us, between and just a little behind, but he was breathing pretty

I had seen a few guys at the start who looked slim and fast, and I
just kept expecting one of them to come busting by, but at mile 2 it
was Chuck and I and the other guy. The second mile was maybe high
5:30s? Hard to tell. Plus I had missed the start button on my watch,
so I was looking at 0s.

The course had a big loop, so when we rejoined I got to see my wife
going the other way. I wanted to high-5 her but there were too many
people in the way.

Right about the 2 mile mark we started a long hill, maybe about a half
mile or so and I decided to make a move. I didn't look back and just
punched it up the hill. By the top I couldn't hear anyone, so I
figured the gap was decent.

From there it was just down a hill, around a corner and in.

It was fun - there were a lot of people a the finish line cheering.
Finished 1st overall - time was 17:30 something. I looked at the clock
as I went across but promptly forgot what it said.

Who even knows how long the course was. I'll guess a little long. It
was so winding I couldn't even remember it if I wanted to go and try
to measure!

Chuck was maybe 25 seconds back so I grabbed a water for him and
headed back out to run in with DW. We metup maybe 3/4 a mile out and I
got to finish with her - her first real (i.e. no jog stroller) 5k - in

She was ecstatic. Plus she won her AG and got a sweet little shoe bag.

I won a gift card to a local restaurant I've never been to. Plus they
had water ice at the finish. Sweet! Not a PR day or a PR course, but
fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Up and down weeks

I've realized that unintentionally, the past month or so has become a
cycle of slightly overly hard weeks that then necessitated an easy
week the next week. Last week was one of those easy weeks, and I'm
going to try to break that cycle this week.

52+ miles:

Mon: easy 5
Tue: 8x400 at 5k with 200 at MP
Wed: 6+ easy
Thu: 7 easy
Fri: 6 easy
Sat: 7 @ 7:25ish
Sun - 15+ long run, 7:20-7:30 pace until a storm blew in, then 6:30s
to stay warm for the last 3-4 on the way home

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Was that fun or what?

Jen & I at the Broad St finish..

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week of 5/5

Not a bad week running-wise. The weather has gotten nice except for
the odd pollen attack here and there. My hamstring has cleared up
nicely. I'm starting to head into my racing season and I'm excited.
I'm thinking I'll probably run a 5k this weekend, then one the last
weekend of May, then come June there is a fast local Wednesday night
5k series. After a few of those I'll aim to be ready for a big 4th of
July race and that's about it. Whew. I'm tired already. :)

Last week was just about 50 miles. Workouts were:

Tu: 9.6 with 6.5 at tempo - 5:52 avg pace, felt good. The long tempos
have been a really nice addition this year. I never used to take
these runs over 5 miles.
Wed: 7.5 at 7:15 pace
Fri: Lousy weather, so I turned my interval workout into a crazy Dean
Karzanes style TM time trial, 4 miles in 21:24, 5:21 pace. Goofy, but
Sun: A moderate, but hilly 10 around 7:20 pace.

And that's about it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Broad Street Fun

This past Sunday was a Philadelphia running institution - The Broad St
Run. This 10 miler is point-to-point and has a nice downhill tilt to
it. I had been hoping for a PR showing this year, but an over-the-top
workout last Tuesday put me temporarily out of the running.

So I asked my wife Jen, who was running her first major race, if she
would mind if I ran it with her.

Her awesome results speak for themselves.

We got dropped off at the
start line by a neighbor and running buddy whose daughter we were also
running with. Jen and Molly set the pace and I was along for the

Broad St has swelled to 22,000 registered and has become quite the
traffic jam. It would have been difficult for us to have run
significantly faster than we did from where we were lined up if from
nothing else but the thick traffic. The race director suggested at
the start that they may move to a corral start next year and I think
that is an excellent ides.

I was amazed at the strength that Jen ran with, having only been
running since October (8:45 pace) and really enjoyed taking in the
race and the scenery on Broad St. For once I even noticed as we came
in to the Navy Yard the giant decommissioned warships that we race by.
In previous years I've been too busy looking for the finish line.

Jen ran a fantastic race and I was ecstatic to be there with her and
to be able to see her face as we crossed the finish line together.

It was a blast!

So last week was a down week for me. Yesterday I was back on the
horse with no major hamstring issues - 9.5 miles with 6.5 tempo at
just over 5:50 pace. Feeling good and anxious to get back to racing.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I want to be reincarnated as a bird...

I was out for a nice run on Sunday afternoon - a comfortable 15.
There is a nice stretch of this run that I do on a new trail along a
creek that I found in the Pennypack wilderness. I'm heading out of
the creek on Sunday down a small tree lined road, just noodling along,
minding my own business. All of a sudden a robin breaks through out
of the tree cover maybe 40 feet in front of me and all of a sudden
it's 1945 and I'm the USS Sitting Duck.



He weaves left, he weaves right. I cover my head.

Splat. Missed by inches.

I live to run another day.

Week of 4/21 Workouts:
Tu: 13 with 10 at tempo -
6:31,6:36,6:12,6:17,6:13,6:13,6:00,6:01,5:41,5:35 for 61:19
Fri: 16x400 100 jog every rep, 400 every set -
77,76,77,77,78,77,76,77,77,77,78,76,78,77,76,77. I hate morning track
Sun: 15 comfortable

Week of 4/28
Tu: hard workout and I hurt myself. m1: 5:50 200-1: 34 m2: 5:52 200-2:
35 m3: 5:57 200-3: 36 m4: 5:54 1000 jog: 5:49 800-1: 2:50 30 sec rest
800-2: DNF

Tuesday I was trying to do rolling mile reps with 200 hard between and
tweaked my hamstring. All EZ miles since then. It's not too bad, but
it might put a crimp in Broad St. I'll figure that out on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Broad St Special

Last night, 13 miles with the middle 10 progression. The plan was to
drop the pace every 2 miles from 6:30 down to 5:50. Nice night for a
run and it went well.

6:31,6:36,6:12,6:17,6:13,6:13,6:00,6:01,5:41,5:35 for 61:19

Of course I do a workout like that and it strikes me today as kind of
a mystery how I'll run a whole heck of a lot faster on race day, but,
I suppose, figuring that out is what races are about.

When life hands you lemons...

You can always mash them into a pulp with your forehead.

Sunday I headed to my track for some long intervals. I was stopped at
the gate by a guy in a respirator. He said they were spraying an
herbicide and the field was closed. Not going to argue with that one.

Run to another track.

Locked up tight as a drum. I will climb a 6 foot chain link, but this
place has 10 foot iron fences. Nope.

Run to another track.

Finally one that is open. Unfortunately this is on the top of a hill,
wide open, and completely exposed to the wiiiiiiinnnnnnnndddd.

It was windy enough that in the middle of my reps, it blew a trash can
off the baseball field and onto the track.

It was a debacle. The wind which was a straight line just bearing
down the whole front stretch. It was really all I could do to just
put my
head down and try to get some work in. I went pretty hard and was
totally caked in salt and dirt by the time this one was over, but the
times were just ugly.

2000: 6:54 (5:25 pace)
400: 76
400: 76
2000: 7:09 (5:35)
300: 59
300: 56
2000: 7:14 (5:42)
200: 34
200: 40

I will leave it as an exercise for you, loyal reader, to determine
which of those last 200s was with the wind, and which was against.

It was pretty surreal. All down the front straight it was just
roaring wind and trying to keep moving forward, then into the turn and
trying to stay on the track and not get pushed onto the infield and
then *pop* I was around and could feel the invisible hand just pushing
me down the back stretch in complete silence. Then I would feel the
heat of the sun and the sweat and then off the turn and back into it.

Last week about 53 miles.

m: easy 5
t: drunken man's 10k (400 @ 5k pace, 1600 at MP, repeat for 6.25)
w: easy 5
th: easy 7.5 with 3x1/5 (56,56,56), jog, 2x1/5 (55,56)
f: easy 5
s: 10 @ 7:20
s: wind blown debacle

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Butterfly Run 5k

I've had this 5k on the calendar for a while. It's for a local charity but offers cash to the top 3, so there was quite a good turnout last year.

Short story: 16:44, 4th overall

There were thunderstorms in the forecast for Saturday morning, so on Friday night we abandoned plans of getting the kids up and out the door early and bringing the whole family. I got on the net and found an alternative race on Sunday which was close to my house, but who knows who would show up.

But come Saturday morning, the thunderstorms were nowhere to be seen. But already having considered waiting until Sunday, I was unsure if I wanted to head out or not. I'm really kind of a fruitcake on race mornings. I don't know if it's nerves, or fear of the oncoming rush of pain, or since I run hard mostly at night that I'm really just not primed to head out the door and race early.

My wife has another word for this, but it's not suitable for a family blog. :)

Anyway, it's a good thing races are early, because if I acted like this all day on race day I'd be divorced.

So after all that, I decided to head out to Great Valley since I figured there would be good competition there. I was a little late getting going, and was worried about having enough time to warmup, but this race director is notorious for not starting on time, so I ended up with an extra 15 minutes up at the line to do some striders.

I don't know if the weather scared people off, but I did not see a lot of people I knew (or knew of) at the start. I did see 3 guys who are local post-college runners, running-store sponsored guys and I knew they would be good for a fast race. One in particular can run sub 15, so I keyed on the other 2. Since I didn't see anyone else at the line who I thought would be running in the 16s I decided to stick a hook in these 2 and see how long I could hang near them.

When the gun went off, it was the 3 running store guys, myself and 2 high school kids. After about a half mile the high school kids dropped off and I just tucked in behind the lead pack. I was tempted to really get in close and try not to lose touch, but the ground was a little slick from all the rain last night and my flats don't get a ton of traction. So I gave them a yard or two.

The course is rolling, but only has some minor hills in the first mile. I was a few seconds behind the leaders at the first mile in 5:07. But the bigger hills come in miles 2 and 3. At about a mile and a quarter there was a decent hill and places 2 and 3 started to drift away. There was a brief moment on the hill where I thought I could pick it up and stick with them since I knew they were heading for 16 flat.

Like I said, it was a brief moment. :)

They got out ahead maybe 50 yards over the next few hills and more or less stayed there for mile 2.

About halfway through mile 2 I had a brilliant idea. I saw a low hanging cedar tree coming up on the corner and thought that I could just brush my head against it and shake some water off (it poured here all last night). These are the kind of brilliant ideas I have deep in oxygen debt. While I didn't knock myself out I hit the branch a little harder than I would have liked. I got nice and wet, but unfortunately also covered myself in tiny green crap. Oh well.

Mile 2 was solo and a slower 5:28. I couldn't hear if anyone was close behind me but I didn't look back. Judging from the spectators there was no one especially close.

Mile 3 was even hillier than mile 2 and I was just doing all the mental-deal making I could to keep the legs turning over. In particular the last hill leading up to the 3 mile marker was a kicker. Mile 3 was 5:34.

Then it was just a short .1 downhill to the finish and a 16:44.

In the chute I had to grab onto the arm of the woman who was tearing off the bibs. I took a knee when I came out and got a little woozy and dizzy. In retrospect, this was nice because I felt like I left it all out there for this one.

I met up with the top 3 guys after the race and had a nice time talking with them and hanging out while we caught the end of the race and the awards.

So although the time isn't a heck of a lot faster then my race a month ago, I'm really happy with it for 2 big reasons - this is a much tougher course with all the hills, and I was running solo for the last 2 miles. Combine that with the fact that it was over 70 for the first time this spring and I'm happy with the progress I'm seeing.

I ran a 17:25 on this same course last year so I'm really happy with the year over year performance too.

Plus my daughter wanted to take her nap on Saturday with my AG medal since it had a butterfly on it. That made it all the more worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Flashing Yellow

Last week running was a grind. We had a real push early in the week at work to release a revision of the software and so work was crazy. All week it was just a challenge to get the shoes on and get out the door. In the past my reaction to this has just been to put my head down and try to run through it. But by Saturday I began to think that I was getting a little close to the line. My legs were achey and sore and tired as heck. So I punted on my track workout for this weekend and just did a nice easy trail 8 miler.

Last night was an easy 3+ and those warning lights have started flickering back to green.

m: 6.5 easy
t: 9 with 7.5 @ 6:00 pace
w: 5 easy
th: 7+ with light track work - at 1/5m track - 1.5 laps 1:28 (4:53
pace), .5 jog, 1 lap 58 (4:50 pace), .5 jog, .5 lap @ 27 (4:30 pace),
long jog, 3 x 1/5 59 (4:55 pace),58 (4:50 pace), 56 (4:40 pace)
f: 5 easy
s: 12 at 7:15 (easy to start, then 10 at low 7s), sore, tight and tired
s: easy 8

for about 53 miles.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Obstacle Course

First off, best wishes to Joseph. Be well and you're in my thoughts.

This week was 62+ miles in 7 runs.

m: 5 easy
t: 1 @ 5:20 + 4 @ 5:49 + 1 @ 5:20
w: 7.5 easy
th: 7.5 with 2 x (2/5 @ 2:00, 1/5 @ 58)
f: 5 easy
s: 11 with 4x5x440y
s: 16+ at 7:15 pace

Tuesday was a nice tempo workout. I started with a mile at 5:20 to take some of the zip out of my legs. This was a nice workout and really replicated the feeling of a HM pretty well. The tempo pace wasn't too fast, but my legs were a little tired. The 5:20 after the tempo was just gratuitous.

Thursday night was an easy run with a light speed workout on my HS 1/5 mile dirt loop. 2/5 @ 2:00 then 1/5 @ 58 seconds. Then jog for a bit and repeat. Oddly, the second set was easier than the first.

Sunday was an easier long run - 16+ at 7:15 pace. I tired to keep them all over 7:00 pace and only slipped under for one.

Saturday was low 40s and windy. When I showed up at my 440 yard dirt track, I was the only one there. I set about doing a couple warmup laps and making some marks in the dirt for using the 50 yardlines and the football goalposts as my guides for the 110s. As I was doing this, a whole little league team showed up for batting practice on the infield. Watch out.

Then the octogenarian who speed walks in lane 1 showed up. I don't mind him so much, but he does that jaunty old man thing where he swings his elbows real wide as he walks and I've almost caught it in the chin a couple times trying to cut by in lane 2.

Then some other runners showed up.

Then a couple who thought it would be cool to have their 5 or 6 year old daughter rider her bike around the track while they jogged. Ride it the wrong way. In lane one. And swerve out trying to hit runners. And park her bike across lanes 1 & 2.

Really, when you are doing 440s, the last thing you want to see coming down the backstretch, when your eyes are tearing up from the wind, is the Huffy Training Wheel Express bearing down on you.

I was dodging people on every lap.

Regardless, the workout was good. The plan was 4x5x440. Jog 110 after each rep, then 440 after each set.

1 (Goal: 1:24): 1:17, 1:20, 1:20, 1:21, 1:21
2 (Goal: 1:22): 1:21, 1:21, 1:20, 1:20, 1:21
3 (Goal 1:20): 1:20, 1:19, 1:20, 1:20, 1:19, 1:19
4 (Goal 1:18) 1:17, 1:17, 1:18, 1:17, 1:15

I was really happy to nail all my times on this one, and especially with the last set. Somehow I lost count on one set and did an extra rep. Of all things, how do you undercount intervals?

It's the first workout this year that I felt like I really nailed like I wanted to.

On the second to last rep the stunt biker was (finally!) leaving with her parents. Not to be intimidated though, she felt compelled to run back over and jump in front of me in lane 1 and put her hands on her hips. I gave her parents as cold a stare as you can manage when you are in oxygen debt.

Good week. Fun runs. Feeling faster.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fun workouts

So. It's crazy. The new job's time demands and mental energy is pretty high. But I've made it through the first week and that's the hard part. Thanks for the comments and emails! I've been trying to do my easy runs early, and my workouts at night. I just don't usually have the gusto to hit the track early. (Good for you Joseph for pulling that off!).

Thursday night was an easy run, but I swung by the track to throw in 4x440 just to get some turnover. Goal was 72-75. I did 1:13,1:11,1:12,1:15. The track was cold and windy (is the track ever not windy?), but we had an almost full moon and it was fun to run on an almost-lit track for a change. Those reps were just fast enough to get me feeling some fire in my belly. (And few enough that it didn't make me want to cry.)

It occurred to me while I was doing them - and these felt just about as fast as I could go with breaking out into full on crazy mode - that that's how fast you have to run a HM under the new qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials (a 1:03). Holy carp that's fast!

Saturday was a big workout - 6x1000. I didn't really feel up for a workout, but after some prodding from my dear wife I went out to give it a shot. The goal was 6 x 1000m in 3:20 with a 1 minute jog. I'm converting everything for my dirt track, so it was really 1100 yards with a 220 jog.

3:20, 1:15 jog (max hr - 179)
3:17, 1:22 jog (183)
3:20, 1:22 jog (182)
3:22, 1:28 jog (183)
3:23, 1:32 jog (183)
3:28, -- (181)

It felt a lot like my 5k from last weekend and I was happy that I held it together. The last rep was tough and I felt like I was running in Fluffernutter. I just went to pieces flailing my arms trying to keep my legs moving for the last 440. But I kept my HR up, so I'd like to think it was honest, and not just showing off for the octogenarians walking in lane 1.

Sunday I felt surprisingly strong, so I snuck out during a lull in the Easter festivities for 15.5. After the first few, I just fell down into the 6:30s and it felt good, so there it was. Low 6:40s pace overall. Hilly course, but I've found a new trail, and a decent way to get there, so that was nice.

So now I just take it 1 week at a time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Keep it moving

Still trying to sort out the new schedule. Got home later last night than I wanted, so I hustled for 10 miles in 1:06 when the kids were down - warmup, 7.5 miles at tempo in 46 minutes (6:08), short jog, then 3 minutes at 5:30 pace, then a cooldown.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pressing for Time

Sunday was a nice 17 in 1:59. Monday 6 easy.

Monday I started a new job at a software startup here in the Philly area and I'm already in over my head. :) I'm sure there is going to be a period of adjustment as I get time for everything sorted out.

At some point today I'm going to fit in some tempo work. Probably tonight.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adrenaline 5k

For a nice summary of the race, check out Seebo's summary. Except where he says he surges past Tom in the last 30 meters just substitute "Seebo surges past me" and you've got my view on it. :)

Nice day for racing, first time on this course. As planned, first mile was 5:18, but I didn't drop down from there. Mile 2 was a tiny bit hilly, and a few turns. I didn't think I dropped off pace but ran a 5:29. There wasn't much horse trading going on where I was - just 3 or 4 guys hanging together and moving back and forth. I thought I would be able to drop the hammer a bit for the last 3/4 of a mile or so which was a straight shot to the finish, but there were no more gears there. Last 1.1 in 5:58 for 5:25 pace. 16:47 for 47th overall.

I heard the 'first female' calls as I was heading in and it sounded like there was a race developing so I just drifted off to the left a bit to stay out of their way.

Congrats to Seebo on a nice race - he's setting up for a great Boston. Congrats also to the Jenkintown Running guys who went 1-2. (You had to go sub 15 to crack the top 10 in this one!)

I thought I had more in the can for this one. Don't really know what happened, but it was what it was.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How far we've come

I started running but there's no where to run to
I sat down on the street, took a look at myself
let's see how far we've come (right now)
let's see how far we've come

Saturday - go time. First race. Game plan is to hold back the first mile and try to negative split. I have never successfully done that, but I will give it a try. I will say the goal is 5:20 first mile, 16:20 something overall. Hopefully this plan will survive the first quarter mile. :)


At my dirt track. I'm not a great track runner. I don't really know how to run the turns. Especially on this 1/5 mile track I can feel myself just fighting to keep my speed up and leaning in to stay close to the curb in the turns, then rocketing down the straights.

4 x 1/5 goal 64: 64,63,63,62
1 x 4 mile tempo: 5:54,5:59,5:59,5:56
4 x 1/5 goal 64: 62,63,62,62

Monday & Wednesday - easy.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week of 3/3

This week was about 57 miles.

M:5 easy
T:10.5 with 30 min at 6:00 and 15 at 5:52
W:5 easy
T:8.5 with 15 x 1/5 mile cutdowns - was too fast on the first, ok in
the middle, struggled to hit 58s
F:5 easy
S:10.5 with 3x(7min @ 5:30,4 min jog, 4 min @ 5:20, 2 min jog)
S: 12 @ 7:30 pace

This was a higher effort week. The 45 minute tempo on Tuesday was further than I normally go. But I felt good after a half hour at 6 min pace, so I dropped it down a bit to the end.

Thursdays workout was 15 x 1/5 mile on my local HS dirt track. Frankly, my pace identification isn't very good.

I ran these without checking a split in the middle, just trying to run by feel. Basically I was way too fast on the first few, hit the 62s and 60s pretty well, and didn't quite get the 58. That's a gear (4:50 pace) I haven't quite gotten to yet and my legs were fatiguing a bit by then. Overall the running was decent, but the pace id wasn't. 5 x (2.m, .1 jog, .2m, .1 jog, .2m, .2 jog)

1 (Goal 66): 63, 64, 63
2 (Goal 64): 63, 62, 64
3 (Goal 62): 62, 61, 62
4 (Goal 60): 60, 60, 60
5 (Goal 58): 59, 59, 60

Saturday was a tough one - 3x(7min @ 5:30,4 min jog, 4 min @ 5:20, 2 min jog). That just really sucked my legs dry.

Next Saturday is the Adrenaline 5k. I'm excited to see where things stand right now.

Also decided this week that I'm taking a new job. I've been an independent consultant now developing software for about 9 years. I've been talking for a couple months to an internet startup and they are just getting underway. So I've decided to hang up the consulting hat for a while and try my hand with them. This should be exciting.

And the fridge is fixed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Unlocked GSM, Orcas, Fridge Defrost Timer and Thermostat

What do these 3 things have in common? In the past 24 hours I've become a self-styled pseudo expert on all of them.

Sunday I was attempting to wrestle my 18 month old son into his car seat while he practiced resisting arrest. I put the phone on top of the car. You know how that one ends. Thus my research in the unlocked GSM cell phone market. I found a nice one on Craigslist, but when I proposed meeting him at the cell phone store to make sure it wasn't stolen he mysteriously stopped returning my emails. Hmmm... I think I'll order one from Amazon.

My 3.5 year old daughter has developed a fascination with killer whales. Also known as orcas. Adult males can weigh as much as 140 people. The live in pods, which are like families. Except some move around (transient pods) and some stay still (resident pods). They have 4 types of fins. Scientists are still learning many things about orcas. They are mammals. They can eat 500 pounds of food a day. (Now that sounds fun!)

Then my wife calls me at 4:30 and says the fridge isn't cold. When I get home I discover that the freezer in fact is. Destroying my wife's fervent hope that the 12 year old side by side is now deceased I employ my friend Google to learn all about the role of the evaporator coil in the frost free freezer. Apparently I need either a new defrost limit thermostat or defrost timer. Reasoning that both of them put together are 1/3 the cost of a call to the repair guy, I decide to order both. Overnight. Because I'm extravagant like that.

Oh yeah, and 10.5 with 30 minutes at 6:00 pace then 15 at 5:50 pace.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Man:1, Machine:0

Congrats to Seebo on a nice showing this weekend. Good luck at CR next week. i've never run that race.

This week for me was just over 58 miles in 7 runs.

M: easy 5
T: 3 x 2 mile at 5:45
W: easy 5
T: easy 5
F: 5 x (800,400)
S: easy 6+
S: hard 17.75

Sunday's long run seriously kicked my behind. I ran this on a rolling loop course near my house where the only flat part is about 30 feet where you cross over a small dam. Everything else is going up, or going down. I started with an 8, then 7:30 then 7:15 and then it was all 6:30s and 6:40s from there on out. The last 2 miles heading home were flat and I tried to keep the effort level consistent and I dropped down to 6:20 pace, so the the workout was probably around that level if I had run on a flat course.

In the middle of the run, I was coming to the top of a hill on the loop and a couple on their mountain bikes noticed that I was catching up with them. She leaned over to him and said something, and *whoosh* they were off in high gear down the hill.


One of the things I've learned over the years (especially running at the Wissahickon) is that recreational bikers aren't good for much better than 10 mph, especially on rolling terrain. They'll smoke you on the downhill, but you can make up real ground on the up. This isn't the real-deal bikers in their tights and actually knowing what gear they're in. Those riders I can only catch if I sneak up on them at tempo pace on a hill.

But this was a challenge. THey had maybe 80 yards on me at the bottom of the hill, and I could see them start churning up the next one. 6:30. I got within about 20 yards of them by the top of that hill and I could see them looking back again and *whoosh* they were gone again. 6:20. Into a more level part, I could see them pushing the pace pretty hard. 6:10. I knew I had them when I saw them pushing it into a low gear and getting up out of the saddle on a long but relatively gentle hill. 6:00. As I got really close I could see their bikes wobbling side to side, sweat under their helmets plastering their hair to their neck.

And *woosh* I went right by. Didn't see them again.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Back to the track

So I was back to the track last night. There was a forecast of snow (which, fortunately, ultimately came as rain) so I was hoping to get done before the sun went down. The planned workout was 5 x (800, 400) with half distance jog after both. It went pretty well.

Goal: 2:38, 1:18
Max rep HR in ()

1: 2:37(197), 1:17(174)
2: 2:39(180), 1:16(179)
3: 2:38(182), 1:17(177)
4: 2:38(183), 1:18(180)
5: 2:40(182), 1:19(177)

I tried to run the last set by feel without looking at the watch to adjust my pace at the splits and I was obviously feeling the fatigue a bit. This one was mostly in the lungs and I was breathing a little heavy in the 800s. In this workout the 400s are almost like a break :) Overall it felt good - a moderate workout.

Just for an interesting point of reference, I looked up some similar workouts from the past and last March I went totally into oxygen debt during a 6x800 at 2:55 with 400 jog, in June, right before my 5k PR I did one 6x800 in the high 2:40s, and one low 2:40s (both deep in o2 debt by the end). None of them identical, but interesting points nonetheless.

This week is my easier week, I do 2 workouts then a long on Sunday. Tuesday night was 3x2 mile at 5:45 pace with a 2 minute jog. Let's face it, 2:00 isn't much of a jog. By the time you look at your watch the second time it's time to buckle down again. That said, I really kind of groove on LT workouts. I really seem to settle in and they get easier as the reps go on.

2 weeks from today to my first early season race. I'm excited already.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Week of 2/18

Last week was 58.9 miles in 7 runs.

M: 5 easy
T: 9.8 with 40 minutes @ 6:00 pace - hard
W: 5.7 easy
T: 9.75 with 12 x 1/5 mile cutdowns - moderate
F: 5 easy
S: 10.5 with 4x(5min @ 10k, 3min jog, 3min @ 10k, 2 min jog) - moderately hard
S: 13 @ 7:30 - moderately easy

It's been pretty busy here lately. I think someone has been sick in our house pretty much every week since Christmas. This weekend it was our son and he was up all night on Saturday with a nasty cold. There's just not enough sleeping going on in our house.

Some decent running this week. Tuesday was hard. I rarely take tempo runs much up past 30 or 35 minutes, so 40 minutes was pushing it pretty good. The cut downs on Thursday weren't physically very hard, but I'm struggling mentally to get the feel for the difference between 5:00, 5:10 and 5:20 pace.

I've decided on a first early season test - there's a good 5k in 3 weeks. The Adrenaline 5k is a kickoff to the spring season here and gets a great, fast crowd. I've never run it before, but I will give it a shot this year and see how things are progressing. Any locals going to be there? Seebo?

I'll have to be lucky (and fast) there to crack the top 20, so it should be fun. I've been doing more fast paced work this spring than I ever have, but I don't really have a good feel where my 5k fitness is. This should be a good data point.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Easy, hard,easy

Mon: 5 easy, just recovering from the Sunday long run
Tue: Hard. 10 miles with 40:00 at 6:00 pace in the middle. That was pretty hard. I usually only do tempos out to 30 minutes, so the last 10 were a struggle.
Wed: 6ish easy

I'm sensing a pattern here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week of 2/11

This week was 57.4 miles in 7 runs.

M: 45 minutes easy
T: 2x3mi @ 6:00 pace
W: 50 minutes easy
T: 40 minutes easy
F: 16x400 75-79
S: 55 minutes easy
S: 16+ miles avg just under 7 pace

Friday was an interesting new workout. I am working with a coach this season, so I'm getting to experience a whole new range of workouts. This is probably good for me since I have a tendency to fall into a workout rut.

Friday night was 16x400, 200 jog after every rep, plus another 200 jog after every 4th. Got that? Seebo talks about how he learns something every time he goes to the track. Do you want to know what I learned? I need this guy to come with me!

Btw - parents with young kids - CTW has finally started putting videos up online - - we really enjoy Sesame in our house, so it's been a lot of fun. They have a bunch on there that you don't see anymore, including old-school Super Grover, Grover as the waiter, etc. It's a blast to see all the old segments. Did I ever tell you we were only allowed to watch PBS growing up in my house? :) I'm still looking for the episode where Stan steals the 'Golden An" and puts it in his Tan Van.

The Friday 400 reps are supposed to be done at 5k pace, so it's not a killer oxygen debt workout. I averaged 78 and got them all between 75 and 79 so I was happy. It was a nice solid workout.

Sunday was a good long run - 16 miles in 1:52 - mostly trail (down the Wissahickon to West River Drive and back). Took the first 2 to warmup, then in the low 7s to the turnaround, then down through the 6s, last 5 miles all 6:20s/6:30s. Felt good, although still a little sore from Friday's workout. Ended up averaging just under 7 pace for the total. The rain held out and it wasn't too cold.

I'm happy with that week and feeling pretty good after 2 weeks back on the workout horse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Perplexing. And I cheated.

One of the things that I have always found very perplexing is that I consistently get great workouts on the days I least want to run. Yesterday I had a sore throat, not enough sleep, a runny nose, a whiny ass. You get the picture. I had really wanted to run outside, but an ice storm prevented that.

So I cued up Invincible (now there's a movie for a Philly runner) and got down to work. 9.5 miles with 2 x 3 miles @ 6:00 pace with a 2 minute jog in between. I know that the treadmill is easier than running outside, what with that moving belt and no wind resistance and all, but it went down pretty well all things considered. HR steady in the low 160s during the reps.

Even with the incline at 1.0, I know that would have been harder on the track. But some days you just have to take what you can get, so I will.

I did have a fan setup to try to keep me from becoming a complete sweat-slime boy, but it did not work. And the wind resistance was minimal. I'm gonna need more fans.

And Tuscaloosa - in a run like that, once I really start sweating I have a hard time keeping the HR monitor in place. So I can't really imagine wearing one in a race unless it was cold enough that I wasn't going to sweat much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Week of 2/4. Hungry, hungry.

First week back with mixed pace running. 58.5 miles in 7 runs.

M: 5.2 ez
T: Tempo 8.25 with 5 at 6:12 pace
W: 7 ez
T: 8+ with 10x300 with 500 jog (56-59 seconds)
F: 4.6 ez
S: 9.5 mi with 8x3 minutes at 10K, 2 minute jog
S: 14.5 progression, started very easy, worked down to the high 6's, avg 7:20s

I like to post a week summary since it gives me a good look back at the structure of a week. Overall I feel good. Some achies always accompany the return of faster running for me and this week was no different. My hamstrings were sore, but are improving, now both quads are a little sore.

Plus since we weren't all quite back on track in my house after the stomach bug and sleep is still all disturbed, we decided, hey - let's get a cold too! Throat is a little sore. Pbbbt.

For some reason, either the running, or the cold temps outside, or the cold in my head I've been really hungry the past 2 days. 2 helpings of dinner. Hungry, hungry.

Uninterrupted sleep has also been a rare commodity at our house lately. First it was the stomach bug, then our son (who is a late, and on again-off again) teether is getting new teeth and good for a few wake-up calls a night. Now our daughter seems to be afflicted by nightmares about paintbrush distribution and other travails of the craft table. Tired, tired.

Last night, 45 minutes easy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday workout

Back on the dirt track. Saturday's workout was hard - 8x3:00 at 10K pace with 2:00 jog. Not killer, just maybe 8/10 hard.

I could have certainly done more reps, and never was at risk of going anaerobic. 1-3 were hard and I struggled with finding the pace a bit, 4-6 felt pretty easy and 7 and 8 I felt like I was losing some zip in my legs. I did this one on the track just so I could be sure I was being honest about effort level. I was aiming for 5:30 pace and hit the half mile at 2:43-2:46 for all of them.

9.5 miles total. w/u 16 min, c/d 20 min. Paces are from the Garmin, so figure +/- 2%, but they look roughly accurate with the split I eyeballed at 880 yards. All reps 3 min, recoveries 2 min.

1 - 5:26 pace HR 170 avg / 183 max
2 - 5:20 pace HR 172/180
3 - 5:28 pace HR 172/181
4 - 5:28 pace HR 172/180
5 - 5:30 pace HR 172/179
6 - 5:33 pace HR 170-179
7 - 5:33 pace HR 171-180
8 - 5:32 pace HR 171-178

Saturday night my wife and I had a rare babysitter and had a good dinner out at an Italian place we can walk to. Very nice!

Friday, February 8, 2008


After all that Rocky-style hullabaloo about running through mud and spitting cinders everywhere I did Thursday's track work on a track that was constructed post-Roger Bannister. Actually, it was pretty nice. Modern surface, 400m and all that.

Speaking of which, here in the US, we have such a curious marriage in running (and swimming I guess) of metric and standard. We do 300 meter or 800 meter repeats, but we are constantly computing the minutes/mile in our heads. When we run a 5000, we never take K splits. 1600m? 1 mile? 3.1? 26.2?

Anyway, if you don't like the numbers (and you know who you are), you can stop reading now.

Easy 3-5K pace workout last night: Windy. Split times ranged 56-59, HR consistent across them all. Just tried to be smooth and comfortable at that pace. This is the first time I've ever done any race pace reps this early in the year. But the intervals were short and the recoveries long, so it was really about efficiency.

w/u - 17:30, 1.9 mi, HR avg 121
1 - 0:59 HR (154/166)
R - 2:56 HR (139/167)
2 - 0:56 (158/173)
R - 3:00 (142/174)
3 - 0:57 (161/175)
R - 2:58 (143/176)
4 - 0:57 (162/177)
R - 3:02 (143/178)
5 - 0:58 (161/176)
R - 3:08 (142/178)
6 - 0:57 (158/176)
R - 3:02 (142/176)
7 - 0:59 (161/175)
R - 3:08 (142/176)
8 - 0:57 (163/177)
R - 3:04 (143/178)
9 - 0:58 (162/177)
R - 3:02 (144/178)
10 - 0:58 (163/178)
c/d 15 minutes, 1.5 miles

Wednesday was 7 easy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Track

Joseph asked in the comments when go time was. Oh yeah, that was last night.

First workout of the year was on tap - really the first workout since September since I've been battling these nagging injuries since then. Plan was for 30 minutes at 80%.

I dug out my flats - again the first time since the PDR. I love my flats (T4s) and have seriously considered running in them all the time. But that's probably just some crazy Letsrun talk.

I normally do all my tempo runs and track workouts at "my track". This is an old-skool abandoned 440 yard track that used to be the HS track for the town next door. Then, some years ago they built a new building and sold the old one off to 'Sunrise Living' or something like that. I think they still use the field for JV football practice or something like that since I'll sometimes see benches there, but the thing I like most about it is that it is usually deserted.

This is probably also because it is not lit. (Note to people who use unlit tracks - always jog one lap slowly to make sure no one left any benches, or oh, say, a rake on the track.)

It is ostensibly cinder, but over the years the traffic has slowly ground most of the cinders just into the dirt. Lanes? Markings? Ha! This time of year the track is pretty rutted from people using it while it's freezing and unfreezing, so when you're running it's all rolling divots and trying to stay in the middle of lane 1.

So it's not the fastest track in the world, but it is open and I can run to it. So I'll take it.

My plan was 5 miles at 6:15-6:30 pace - I ended up doing 5 at 6:12 pace (6:08,6:12,6:17,6:15,6:08).

Miles 1 and 2 were all elbows and knees and whoa crap what's going on, in mile 3 I forgot how to breathe (oh wait, you can use your stomach???), but by 4 and 5 I started to remember how to run like that and started getting faster at the same effort level. Last mile was nice and smooth and the easiest of the bunch.

My heart rate was higher than I thought it would be - 178 avg/182 max, so I was a little over my 80% target, but overall, it just felt moderately hard and no soreness or anything after, so I'm happy with that for a first real workout of the year.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Long Runday

Got out for a nice even-paced long run late on Sunday afternoon - 17 miles even in just a couple seconds over 2 hours (7:05 pace) in the squelchy, squelchy mud at the Wissahickon.

It was really kind of a gut-check (no pun intended!) run - I'm still getting over some of the effects of the stomach bug and since the kids are off their game, we haven't been getting a ton of sleep. After about an hour I really just wanted to mail it in. But I hung in there and got my first 2 hour run since before I was hurt, which is a nice feeling.

I was feeling it a little bit in the hamstrings after a while, but I've been viewing this as a good development. No pain at all in the lower legs, which is even better.

Then I get home and found out that my daughter was sick again. This started last Tuesday night! I will not be surprised if I get home from work today and find that the CDC has wrapped my house in the same giant plastic tent that they used in ET.

I saw an awesome bumper sticker in the parking lot before I went out for this run -- on a small, 2 door Kia, a giant yellow and black bumper sticker that said "YEAH, IT"S GOT A HEMI!". That made me laugh

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Running in the Time of Cholera

Ok, so maybe it wasn't cholera. Or maybe it was. Whatever it was, it took our house by storm, incapacitating denizens large and small. For maybe 36 hours our house was just a biohazard zone, filled with piles of laundry (dirty? clean?), toys awaiting disinfectant, and half used rolls of paper towels.

Fortunately for us, the gods of the intestines were kind enough to spare me until late Thursday when my wife finally began to emerge from her comatose state. Then I went down.

By today though, everything seems to be looking up.

Thursday: No running. Shaking, chills, yes. Running, no.
Friday: 6 easy once everyone had gone to bed.
Sat: 8 easy at 7:30 pace at the Wissahickon with some really light fartlek thrown in, 5x30-45 seconds around 5K pace. HR avg 144 / max 176.

The legs are feeling great. I am continuing with the new stretching program and feel like I am more flexible already, even though I know that is not really possible. I am focusing on making sure I am pulling with my hamstrings while I'm running. I know that you are not really supposed to mentally try to alter your stride, but having been in a bad state for a while I think that keeping this in my mind (and trying to pull the ground under me) is needed for a little bit while I continue to work on flexibility. Hopefully in a few weeks it will just be habit and I can put the conscious thought of what my legs are doing out of my mind.

No pain in the shins or calves. A little bit of soreness here and there in my hamstrings. I think they are just responding to the stretching and being awoken from a long winter slumber. Plus they are cranky about having to do some work for a change. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is this bad form?

Last night I had some obligations with a borough committee I volunteer for so I didn't get out the door until well after 9 and didn't get home until 11ish. That's kind of late for me to be out.

Then I come home to find that my daughter has gotten the puke bug and my dear wife has already been through numerous sets of sheet changes. It kept up and was a long night for all of us. She did settle down a bit between 3 and 4 so we all at least got a few hours straight. She seems to be on the upswing this morning.

The upside of being out so late is that there wasn't much traffic. I did an extended version of the loop that I run with the running store group that goes through some well-to-do neighborhoods. It's a nice hilly loop (see elevation below) that keeps me off the busy roads.

Last night was 30s and a bit rainy, so with the cloud cover the dark roads were really dark. It reminded me of that old pseudo-video game Night Rider were I just tried to stay in the middle of the road and keep the trees to the outside.

I did 2 reps of my AIS before the run and one after. My legs have just felt very different the past 2 nights, and in a good way. I have tried to focus on pulling my feet backwards when they hit the ground and I could feel the muscles in my hamstrings and glutes, which I normally wouldn't. I felt very strong rolling up the hills.

My shins were pain free and I could really feel the larger muscles working hard. I only felt the shins and the calves when I hit some really steep downhills.

It strikes me as extremely unlikely that the new stretching regimen has had this kind of an impact already. I have to wonder if it is possible that my form had slipped that much, and just a little bit of stretching plus a focus on better form is making the difference? I could feel myself on the downhills falling back into my bad habit of throwing my feet out in front of me, and I would immediately feel it in my calves. I almost can't believe that it could just be in my head (so to speak).

There is no way I could have done this run last week without being seriously sore in my lower legs.

11+ miles in 1:17. First 3 down through the 7s to get warmed up, then into the mid/high 6s for the rest. HR Avg 154.

Limited soreness in the morning - just a bit in the hamstrings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When life comes at you fast

Ok, so sometimes life just starts coming at you and it's all horns and lights and for the love of god, watch out for that truck!

I can't really write everything, even everything running, because you would never want to read it. Thus I will summarize.

Massage: Good. Helpful. Tight feet, painful stretching, tight calves. Numerous suggestions. Runs improved for the next few days.

Last week: Easy. 51 miles in 7 runs. Steady improvement in the shin.

Sunday: Nice 13+ at the Wissahickon Saw Seebo out for a walk with his son. Almost didn't recognize him without his running hat.

PT: An old neighbor that I had recently run into (and who has recently gotten into running from biking - Hi Rob!) found this blog and saw some of my injury notes and suggested I visit someone he had been to. i don't know if he is technically a PT or not, but he does do a lot of work with athletes. He is a big proponent of active isolated stretching.

He sized me up within minutes. The dignosis? The shin, just a symptom. The calves are tight. The calf that was strained in the fal? Just a symptom. My hamstrings are weak, My glutes are weak. Most significantly, my quads are as tight as a drum.

He showed me that when running, and even when stretching, I couldn't even get my quad to go past my midline when it should be extending far behind me.

The things he was saying and the questions he was asking all of a sudden began to tie together lose ends for me. The tight shins, the sore calves, the feeling in my speed workouts tht I was just throwing my feet forward hoping they would stick to something, the running dreams where I would head toward the finish chute neck and neck with someone and the faster my legs turned over, the slower I moved.

He said that in some ways, it was like people get at the end of a marathon, when their quads beginning to fatigue and lose strength, and their body just starts throwing bits forward left and right jut to keep moving and hit the end. Except I was just doing that every day. Rather than using my glutes and hamstrings to pull myself forward, I was using my calves and my shins to throw my feet in front of me. Hence the ouchies.

There's an old story I've read with my daughter about the Blind Men and the Elephant. It's a parable about the limits of our perception. Each blind man touches the elephant and describes it. One grabs the tuck and says it has a spear. One grabs the trunk and says it is a snake, etc. I feel this way about many problems in my life, but running in particular. I am always struggling to put together the little threads of evidence, determine what is relevant and what is not, assemble the right advice, evaluate the results.

Then sometimes, a light flashes and I think oh crap! It's an elephant.

Much, much more I could say about this. The PT believes that cutting back on the speed in the fall and just doing higher miles exacerbated the problem and further shortened my stride. I have some key stretches and exercises to do.

He was very optimistic that some good stretching is what I need most and I should see results very quickly.

He is a former Oregon runner and from a big running family. He also called me out on my 5k time and threw out a number that he thought I could run if I trained right. Yoiks. You know., aim high and all that.

Last night: After some more new stretching it was off for 6+ just under 8 minute pace and the best run I have had in months. I felt a little rubber-bandy from all the stretching, but I could feel my legs moving in ways that just hadn't for quite a while. I felt very fluid. Plus 6 accelerations on the track, because I had to.

Also: It was my birthday over the weekend and we all took the train down and took the kids to the Franklin Institute (science museum) for the first time. It was a blast! My daughter helped my wife plan a brthday party and we had a dinosaur themed party for me, complete with musical chairs and pin the horn on the stegosaurus.

So here's a picture for you from the train:

And that's all I've got time for. Phew.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Up and down

So this week is all about some cutback and trying to get the shin to feel a bit better. I think this is in a slightly different part of the same muscle - so I'm guessing that it is a compensatory soreness because the strength wasn't back enough in the injured part for the miles I was doing. Hopefully it will be 100% soon.

Wed: 5 easy
Thu: 10 in 124 @ 122 HR

Right now it loosens up for a while when I start, then oscillates while running. I've been cutting the runs off before it starts to hurt and I have been stretching a lot (although the shin ones are pretty hard to get right) and attacking my lower legs with the stick.

Tonight I'm trying some massage therapy, so we will see how that helps and what kind of feedback I get.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Easy Stuff

Last night 30 minutes super easy and a good stretching session and I'm feeling pretty good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not so deep thoughts...

So Tuscaloosa mentioned in a previous comment that CoolRuning has become a wasteland. That was the first running site that I frequented and actually have fallen in with a group of friends from there who keep up (now on kickrunners) and meetup for the occasional race. It is really amazing how precipitously the posting traffic there fell off. 50%? 75%? You have to wonder if the purchase included traffic goals. The disaster that has taken place there should be an object lesson for online communities.

And while this was obviously a joke I have to add a correction.

It wasn't a baby that we rescued from the river, it was a middle-aged woman and her dog. I think it was July of 06, and I was running on the main Wissahickon River path with my running pal Joe. We passed by a bridge right around the 1.5 mile mark and I swore I thought I heard someone yelling for help. Joe didn't. Now there are always kids around, fishing and horsing around, so I usually don't pay that close attention to what's going on.

Then I *definitely* heard someone yelling for help. I sprinted back to the bridge and saw a woman stuck in the water (which was running high from a recent rainstorm) and holding onto a downed tree. Joe and I went down the bank as best we could (it is steep and muddy). Joe stayed up and held onto a tree and I held on to him and slid into the water knee deep and helped the woman climb out.

Once we got down there we saw why she had gone in - her dog was in the water. We called the dog and he was able to climb up the hill back to the trail. Apparently unaware that his owner thought the river was deadly, he promptly jumped right back in.

And so did she.

This prompted much cursing by Joe and myself, and we again went down the bank and again convinced her to come out with us. This time the dog came out and stayed out.

Then she told us to get lost.

Deep thoughts

So we finally had some of the cold settle in here this weekend that has been spreading over the north. It was chilly, but not too bad once you got out and got moving. Sunday was maybe 20 or so when I headed out, but the wind was blowing pretty hard (easily +15 feet on the loogie) so the wind chill was probably low teens or high single digits. I like running in the cold weather. I do swear by my new Hind tights though. I finally have a pair that fit me.

Saturday was a relatively easy 12.5 on a rolling trail in a park near me that I have to sneak into. It is restricted to town residents only and they ID cars coming in, but they don't bother with runners. It would be nice if it was a dirt path, but it is paved. In fact, this entire small park is slowly being overrun by public works workers with too much time on their hands to repave, cut down trees, and drive trucks all over the grass.

Sunday was a short run, and the park was deserted. It was fun to be out there in the middle of the day and have it be just as deserted as when I run at night. The cold wind had the branches of the trees just cracking together overhead and the grass was crunchy with that sort of flash-freeze that you get when you go from wet and soggy to pretty cold overnight.

I would like it if I had more variety in my local runs, and in particular if I had more places to run offroad. This park is one of the few places I can run to from my house that at least allows me to not have to worry about traffic and sidewalks.

Last week was 61 miles in 7 runs.

M: 7 easy in 1:01
Tu: 10 easy in 1:22
W: 10 in 1:13 (with a few in the 6:30s) with the Jenkintown Running Co
Th: 6 easy in 49:30
F: 9 in 1:10
Sat: 12.5 in 1:37
Sun: 6.6 in 50

Bigger Picture Stuff

It was a little bit of a setback over the weekend though since my shin started to act up a bit. Thursday and Friday I felt great - really the first 2 runs where I felt nothing the whole time. Saturday I had some soreness at the end of the run and Sunday was definitely sore, so I cut it short.

In an email exchange with the coach he offerred his perspective - that I am not doing a good job with recovery, and that is one of the harder things to get a good feel for.

I need to think more about how I deal with this and try to be more careful about scheduling real recovery time, even when I'm not feeling fatigued.

I think that I suffer from a confluence of factors here that I need to start to come to terms with:

- Overconfidence - I think that I overestimate my abilities to do *and recover from* workouts and the stress of miles. I think there are a number of factors behind this - inexperience is one, although that may just be an easy crutch to fall back on. Another piece of this may be that I do almost all my running alone - I don't really get to run and do workouts with more experienced runners and see up close how they govern their efforts.

- Seeing the forest for the trees - I think that I don't do a great job of trying to apply the training rules that I'm aware of to actual application of running. For example, in recoverying from this shin injury, I feel that I've been careful (especially since I originally hurt it by breaking this rule) to stop running when it hurts and only run up to that point. But along the way, I've parroted, but failed to apply, the 'in recovery, less is more' concept. The past few weeks have been 'more is more' since I would just keep running if there was no pain.

- Mileage and fatigue - I think that I've been (deliberately? - although I guess you can't really use the word deliberately if you feel the need to append a question mark to it) fooling myself about the fatigue that is generated by mileage, even given no pace workouts. Looking back at my log from early last when I was struggling with the cumulative effects of 40 mpw should give me some clue. Now, less than a year later, I would consider that sort of volume to be easy, or almost too light. But mentally, I have (had?) myself convinced that I could or should be running 50% more just as a recovery or maintenance week.

But looking at the overall growth of weekly mileage since I started running, I think there are some conclusions to be drawn here:

I think the trend line is too steep. In 2005 I averaged just under 11 miles per week, 2006 was almost 28 per week, and 2007 was just under 43. Following this growth line would have me averaging just under 60 per week in 2008, which would really mean typical weeks in the 70s and 80s.

I don't think I'm ready for that and more importantly, I don't think I want to do that. I have been very healthy on and raced extremely well on lower volumes. I just don't believe that to continue to improve in running I need to continue to increase my mileage at the current rate.

Compared to other runners I know, I don't think I chase particularly high mileage numbers, but I wonder if I have started to act as if past performance increase have been not only correlated with mileage increases, but solely caused by them. Writing that down, I certainly don't believe it, but looking at my log, I think you have to conclude that I have been acting like it.

So why do I do things that I don't believe I am doing?

That's a post for another day I suppose.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snowball fight!

We got our first appreciable snowfall of the year last night here in the Philly area. My daughter has been anxiously awaiting snow in any form (and was very sad that it did not appear on Christmas) so we all headed out after dinner for our first ever family snowball fight. My wife claims that my using our 18 month old son as a human shield was being a sissy, but I think that is just good snowballing!

We also built a very short, very wet (and unfortunately short-lived) snowman. Fun!

The snow turned to cold, heavy rain though, so I ended up on the treadmill last night. The runs lately have been good and I'm starting to have runs where I don't even feel the shin at all. My plan now is to finish this week with some high (for me) mileage, take a bit of a down week next week, then into a pre-season plan with the coach. I'm getting excited.

Fri: 9m @ 7:45 - HR avg 135
Thu: 6m @ 8:45 - HR avg 124
Wed: 10+m @ 7:15 - HR avg 159

The Wednesday night run was with my running store group and we through in about 3 miles of 6:30s to keep things interesting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So last night my wife tells me my blog is boring...

Too many numbers. Too little personality.

Why can't you write more interesting stuff like Seebo does?

Last night: 7 miles in 1:01, 123 avg HR - (8:42 pace)

This morning: 10 miles in 1:22, 126 avg HR - (8:12 pace)

Pbbbbt. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

3.33 Miles Per Blogger

One of the benefits of having a blog like this is that it is a nice way to meet up with local runners whom you might never otherwise find, except maybe at races. Saturday morning saw a nice 10 mile-ish tour of one of Seebo's regular routes out through West Philly and back. I also got to meet John. And Seebo's sycamore is very impressive. Although I doubt I could ever find it on my own.

That said, I do now know where the founder of Flag Day is from.

It was a great run, and it's really nice to be able to spend some time with and pick the brains of runners with a lot more experience than myself.

I noted to John that I run on Forbidden Drive all the time, and we agreed that we must have seen each other there before. Funny that. Sunday afternoon I passed him going out as I was on the way back. :)

Sunday was a comfortable 15 from Chestnut Hill College, down Forbidden Drive to Lincoln Drive, then Kelly to just over Falls Bridge and back. 7:20 pace overall. This was also a bit of a return to the scene of the crime, since this is the same route I was on in December when I hurt my shin. No shin problems this time.

I was hoping to see the Falls Bridge all lit up, since I saw in the paper that they have some new lights, but I guess I was a little bit early.

This week wrapped up with 68+ in 7 runs. I'm feeling pretty good.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Last night was a little cool, 45ish, when I got out for my run. Then the wind and the rain kicked up and it turned in to a BYOH (bring your own heat). 11 rolling miles @ 7:30 pace did the trick and kept me nice and toasty. Best run on the shin yet, there were a number of miles I totally forgot about it. This morning, 6 easy on the treadmill since it was storming.

New blog for your reading pleasure: Trevor in CT, who I met at the Philly marathon and is running his first Boston in April. Howdy, Trev.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Good running this week so far. We are in the midst of a warm-wave in the mid-Atlantic here and the past few nights have all been in the 50s when I got out to run, so it's been shorts and t-shirt weather. No complaints, but I'm sure the cold is right around the corner.

So far this week:

Monday - 9.20 mi @ 8:18 pace
Tuesday - 6.40 mi @ 8:07 pace
Wednesday - 8.00 mi @ 8:00 pace

I've noticed this steady drift downward before in my easy run pace when I'm not doing workouts. I'm going to try to shake it up and vary that pace a little more. I think it's just unconscious.

I've looked through the options for races and I think I'm going to target a few 5ks between Father's day and the fourth of July for a peak. There's a gap in fast races in May when I'd like to try to run one and by June the college kids will be out to run some fast 5ks so hopefully I'll be in condition to get pulled along to some fast ones.

Of course, that's 6 months away which seems like a long training cycle for a 5k series.