Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Deb!


I'm still here, but without the consistency of that [damn] marathon training, the motivational opportunities to write are few & far between.  My friend Deb has been needling me to start posting again and since yesterday was her birthday (and since I'm a cheap SOB), this is her present.

So what's happened in the past 4+ months?

In a nutshell, it took about 6 weeks to lose the big toenail on my left foot.  It only hurt for a few days after the marathon in May, but running with it was pretty uncomfortable, even when wrapped/taped.  Simultaneously, work ramped up which broke up the solid consistency of training I'd become accustomed to.  I also took a more relaxed approach to my diet and, while I didn't abandon the habits I'd spent the past year forming, I definitely did allow for more indulgences.

The net result of a more careless diet and a less-than-consistent training plan had very predictable results -- loss of conditioning, strength, and what little physique it appeared that I had developed.  The last month before the marathon, I started having a "bulletproof" feeling in my workouts -- I could push hard and recover quickly.  A month ago I started tracking my diet again and started getting some focus back in the gym.

Only in the past week have I started to get inklings of that "bulletproof" feeling again.  My running pace is still at least a minute a mile off what it was a year ago at this time and at least a minute:30 off what it was in May.  That's what happens when you go from running 3x and 25 miles a week to 3x a month with the same total mileage.  Despite the abysmal running mileage, I'm running a Half-Marathon in a few weeks with my wife (my 3rd, her 1st) and there is certainly not going to a PR in the books for me. Anything under 1:50 will be a miracle.

Once that's over I have something ELSE to look forward to.  My jack-ass sister in law had the bright idea of doing the Tough Mudder obstacle course event in Mt. Snow next May, so we all signed up for that.  That pretty much means that once this race is complete in November, it's back into the gym to finally start working on building strength while maintaining some reasonable level of conditioning.

I did run the Race to the Top of Vermont again this year and cut about 10 minutes off my time from last year (which was more of a scouting "run" compared to this year's race effort).  That'll be a topic for another post though.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Key Bank Vermont City Marathon: Race Report

EDIT: 5/8/2012  Nearly a year has passed since I ran my first (and last, for a while) marathon.  This past weekend, I completed my first Tough Mudder event and found that my marathon experience helped me immensely during the event. With the 2012 KBVCM coming up later this month (and a new blog post about the Tough Mudder forthcoming), I thought it was appropriate to blast down memory lane and revisit that experience again.


I am not a morning person.  I loathe getting up early and this morning was no different.  While I was excited to race, I was equally excited to just have it over and move on.  I had stuck with my training, nailed the majority of my runs, maintained my overall fitness level and weight, dialed my diet in to coincide with my activity level and the unusual demands of running ridiculous distances, and managed to avoid illness and any real injury dating back to January 2011.  Sure there were aches and pains, sniffles and 'stomach upset,' but nothing that dictated a break in training.

Memorial Day Weekend in Vermont is typically marked by one of two things.  Cold, rainy weather or hot, sunny weather. I ran all winter and spring in the cold (and, occasionally, the rain) and that worked great for me.  I do not typically fare well in even moderate heat and will run in shorts and a tank-top down into the low 40s and be comfortable.  It was with great disdain that I saw the race-day forecast with a projected low of 68 and a high of 83 and cut-it-with-a-knife humidity.  The last time I did a run longer than 8 miles with temps in the upper 60s or warmer was probably last August (and it sucked).

We drove down into Burlington shortly before 7AM through pouring rain that subsided before we hit the parking garage about a quarter mile from the starting area at Battery Park.  The air was a little cooler than had been predicted, but the steady rain overnight guaranteed a humid day.  I was glad to have gotten down to the starting area early enough to get to bag check & the portolets before any significant lines developed and got out and did my normal warm-up in plenty of time to take cover under a tree as the rain started up again.

Being a technology-loving runner, I had my Droid running iMapMyRun and RunKeeper (via GPS), a chest-strap heart-rate monitor (HRM) that also reported (poorly) my pace, and my Nike+/iTouch combination. I started my Droid gizmos running about 5 minutes before the race started (both those programs allow for time & route corrections after the workout is complete) and started the Nike+ when the horn sounded and my stopwatch/HRM when I crossed the timing stripe.

2011-MAY-29 RunKeeper Map & Stats
2011-MAY-29 Nike+ Graph (pacing off, crapped out around mile 20)

Mile 1: Anticipation.  
I was starting off running with the 3:30 pacing group.  I knew the pacer's plan was to go out at around 8:30 for the first mile and settle in from there.  This enabled me to not get caught up in the adrenaline of the moment and burst out with a 7:20 first mile.  Running down the streets of Burlington, chatting with fellow runners was an absolute rush... and the cotton-mouth I had for the first half mile was awful!

Mile 2: Belief.
The first mile ticked by in the blink of an eye.  I was having a great time and just settling in with the pack.  I had made the decision at the start to keep my headphones tucked away for a while and just enjoy the moment.  Looking forward, it looked like there were thousands of people in front of us, but considering where we started, the larger crowd was in pursuit.

Mile 3: Church Street
For those who don't know the area, Church Street is a bricked-over pedestrian-only section of Burlington that is really the heart of downtown.  The crowds here were packed along each side and the rush of adrenaline that provided was amazing.  Holding *down* to the 8:00 pace was challenging here!

Mile 4: Descent
The next section after downtown took us out on a barren section of highway known as The Beltline through a swampy wetland known as "The Intervale."  Before I ran this, I would have told you it's a flat out & back.  Having run it, I can tell you that there's a moderate downhill run before the road levels off, but for not as long as expected!

Mile 5: Easy
Still running on flat ground on the beltline and easily running with the group.  I've hooked up with a coworker who was hoping to beat his 3:42 PR.  During this mile, we start seeing the lead runners coming back down the road.  Unlike our group, they do not look like they're running Easy.

Mile 6: Foresight
My initial race plan was to run with the pacers until around mile 6 and then try to advance my pace slightly to hit the halfway mark at 1:44.  I knew the day was hotter than ideal and it felt like it would be a really dumb move to start pushing now and lose the support group I'd fallen in with.  My full-race plan moved from running two 1:44s to sticking with the 3:30 group until we hit the bikepath around mile 22 and try to either pick up a bit of time in that last stretch or burst in the last 0.2 mile to come in under my 3:30 goal

Mile 7: Greetings!
One of the (possibly the ONLY) nice things about the beltline is that, if you're paying attention, you get to see other people you know running on the out & back.  There were some good high 5s and shout-outs to & from the plethora of people I passed on this stretch.  It definitely helps the bleak, fan-deprived landscape drift by faster when you keep seeing friendly faces going the other way.

Mile 8: Hydration
I carried 24oz of Accelerade out on the course with me and my plan was to ignore it until mile 15 and use every third in-race aid stations.  As the warmth of day began increasing, I started being a little more diligent about hitting every other station.  My schedule was also to use 3 of my Clif Bloks every 4 miles (or there abouts) to coincide with my arrival at one of the stations, so while this did slightly mess up that plan, it meant that I was able to keep a relatively stead stream of fluid coming IN to replenish the fluid I was sweating out.

Mile 9: Incline
The departure from the beltline requires running back up the slope we descended nearly 5 miles ago.  Our pace leader indicated that this was likely to be our slowest mile as dictated by the pacing chart he was following.  The grade of this hill wasn't all that bad, but it was fairly long and relentless. Looking back, this is the first time in the run that I felt like I had to put forth any effort.  It wasn't a lot and there was a long downhill section coming.  My HRM was showing me running a little 'hotter' than I wanted to be, but not by much and my perceived effort was still fairly low, so it wasn't until several miles later that I even bothered to check it again.

Mile 10: Jeopardy
The course now began retracing part of its route back across the start line and down Church St., further descending Main St. before turning onto Pine St.  The charge of the crowd on Church St. was once again exhilarating and the steady descent that would continue through this mile and the next would prove to deliver false confidence in my physical condition and not only seal the fate of 3:30, but would seriously threaten the B-goal of sub 4:00.  Mile 10 was the first official check point and I crossed in at 1:19:48, 12 seconds under the "perfect" 8:00 pace for a 3:30 marathon.

Mile 11: Kryptonite
The first half of the 11th mile continued to be the easy effort run the previous 10 had been.  The first half of the 11th mile was also still slightly downhill.  As we set about moving to a very slight uphill, the sun started to come up and suddenly things started feeling difficult.  I still could keep up with the 3:30 group, but it would have involved effort and, not even being at the halfway point, I backed off and let them go.  My HRM showed I was pushing too hard and my plan was to back off to point where I was running back in my safe zone.  The problem was, the slow-down in pace wasn't achieving an appreciable drop in heart rate and I started to feel the first twinges of exertion coming from my quads.  Ironically, this was almost the same exact spot of road I had the same problem a few months in the past, but running the OTHER direction and at about mile 14 and 2h10m into the run, not mile 11 and 1h30m into the run.

Mile 12: Lactate
Here's a short physiology lesson.  During times of strenuous exercise, excess lactate is produced within muscles.  If it is produced faster than the body can process it, it accumulates in the form of lactic acid and causes muscle fatigue.  When racing, pushing beyond the lactate threshold between production and elimination is a bad thing and that's what I ran smack into at mile 12.  At this point, I haven't even reached the halfway point of the run and in the past 2 miles I've gone from feeling awesome to feeling like I was on mile 22, not mile 12.  This was not part of the race plan for the day!

Mile 13: Miserable
The race plan was to get through the first half as a nice, easy effort run, then take evaluate how to handle the next 10k, and finally how to tackle the final 10k.  The only problem with that plan is that it kinda falls apart when you enter the last mile before hitting the halfway point taking walking breaks.  The 3:30 group was a distant memory at this point and I was desperately trying to come up with a plan for salvaging a competitive time.  I couldn't find a pace to run at that felt comfortable or sustainable.  Walking felt fine, but I wasn't about to walk 14 miles to the finish.  My biggest fear was a "DNF" and I knew that pushing this early on in the race on a day where there were warnings posted about the heat/weather that I hadn't trained in brought that result into play.  My mind wanted to go.  My legs wanted to go nowhere.

Mile 14: Nutrition
In spite of the challenges I was having, I still knew I had a finish in me... somewhere, somehow, it was in there.  I spent a lot of time tweaking my diet throughout my training to ensure I was properly prepared to run. I brought a LOT of nutrition out on the course with me, probably close to 1500 Kcal between my Accelerade and the Clif Shot Bloks packed into my belt.  It's rare for a properly prepared runner to completely blow out their glycogen reserves during a race, but it's not uncommon to reach a point where the amount of glycogen being liberated from reserves fails to meet the body's demand for energy.  The resulting drop in blood sugar gives the brain a trigger to induce a fatigue response to bring the body's activity level down to a point where equilibrium is restored.  To an extent, taking energy gels temporarily 'fixes' this problem by giving the body a relatively quick shot of nutrition which in turn increases blood sugar (causing the brain to release the reins a bit and allow activity levels to increase) and providing fuel.  Between what was in my body and what was on my body, I knew I had the fuel to get to the end.  All I needed was the will.

Mile 15: Overtaken
Between mile 11 & 12, I let the 3:30 group run away from me.  Now, 4 miles later, I was overtaken, swallowed up, and promptly spit out by the 3:45 group.  In the span of about half a hour, I had lost 15 minutes of finish time.  The run back up the bikepath into the City is mostly barren, running behind old industrial plants and next to railroad tracks and chain link fence infested with claustrophobia-inducing greenery.  The heat and humidity and lack of airflow in some of these sections boarded on nauseating and I continued to find some sort of pacing strategy that would allow for reasonable progress.

Mile 16: Pride
Initially, I labeled Mile 16 as Pain.  It seemed fitting, but it could really show up anywhere after Mile 10 (and frequently did).  Mile 16 was the steepest hill of the run: Battery Street.  I was still trying to figure out a good strategy for finishing sub-4h and, before the race, I had been supremely confident that I would chug up Battery Street like I've chugged up Sand Hill and Skunk Hollow numerous times during my training.  One of my lessons learned last year during the Race to the Top of Vermont was that there comes a point where you're running so slowly that you would truly be better off walking.  Getting to that point on Battery Street was a very tough realization, but at the same time it was oddly liberating to make the intelligent decision and keep the big picture in mind vs. the much more meaningless ego boost of "running" the entirety of the Battery Street hill.

Mile 17: Quitting
On my way out North Ave., I ran across Master Blake, a Personal Trainer, Tae Kwon Do black belt, and friend who was volunteering for the event.  I slowed to a walk to chat with him for a bit.  I don't recall much of what we talked about, but just seeing a friendly face and getting some words of encouragement from Lloyd really boosted my spirits.  As I picked up my run again and set off down North Ave feeling better about myself, I realized that not once had the thought of "quitting" even entered my mind.  Sure, I had concerns about running myself into a DNF, but as awful as this race was going, I was in it for the distance.

Mile 18: Revuvenated
Fortunately, the last 10 miles of this race were mostly flat or downhill.  Between miles 17 & 18, I finally found a good running pace that could be sustained for a good portion of a mile before I'd slow to a walk for a few minutes.  The strategy was mostly keeping me under 10 minute miles and made me feel like I had a little pop back in my step to the point where I found myself having to dial back the run intensity a bit to keep from blowing the strategy out the door.  At the end of Mile 18, I knew I was 8 miles from the finish and for whatever reason, that was the magic number in my head that said, "You've got this.  All you have to do is wrap it up!"

Mile 19: Smile :)
One thing that eluded me for the past 8 miles or so was enjoyment.  Toward the end of Mile 18, the route started taking us through some of the neighborhoods of the New North End of Burlington.  The Race organizers had set up water stations about every 2 miles, but running through these neighborhoods, there were countless families set up with Fla-vor-ice, watermelon, oranges, water, Gatorade, hoses, sprinklers, drums, music, and signs, cheering and encouraging the runners.  Once thing I'd missed while struggling was any reasonable interaction with the crowd, by my natural self is the comedian and as I took opportunities to ham it up with the locals, it really did help make these few miles slip by.

Mile 20: Toenail
It was in this section of the run that I became aware of the fact that the big toenail (the captain!) on my left foot was sore in a way it had never been sore before.  Upon removing my sock hours later, the bluish discoloration forming under the toenail was an indication that the effects of this race would be with me for weeks after the muscle soreness had faded as I am almost surely going to lose the toenail.

Mile 21: United!
Coming out of the neighborhoods, I caught up with a few guys who had just started a rest-walk at the same time and slowed down to join them.  One was also a first time marathoner and both had, like me, started in the 3:30 pack when the race started.  So here we sat (or walked), united a good 20 minutes adrift of that group, making our own race and trying to get to 26.2 any way we could.

Mile 22: Verve
Despite being a pretty dull stretch of road this mile was the last one before hitting the Burlington Bike path that marked the turn-around point and the run to the finish.  The Bike Path was my mental "final stretch" and getting to that point was as good as getting the finish in my mind.  Get to the bike path and it's a short run to the finish.

Mile 23: Wisdom
The best part of the last 2 hours of this run came as I turned onto the bike path, not so much for the mental release of getting there, but from the blast of COLD air I got to run through for a few minutes that must have been a combined effect of coming into a shaded area that was getting ventilated with cool air off the lake.  As good as it felt, I needed to keep everything in check and maintain the good run/walk strategy that was allowing me to feel [somewhat] peppy.  It was truly remarkable how in the span of 10 seconds or less how you can go from feeling like, "I could run like this all day!" to "If I run another 5 steps like this, I'm going to crumple in a heap in the middle of this path and not move for about eight days."  Keeping it between those every-narrowing boundaries became the challenge for the final four mile stretch.

Mile 24: X
Okay, I'm waiving the white flag instead of forcing a good word for "X."  In a way, though, the letter itself says more than any of the x-words I pondered.  In the world of mathematics, X represents the unknown, that which the student pursues to find the elusive answer.  In traditional lore, an X marks the spot where something of value can be found.  Also, in those olde time cartoons, the cartoonists would replace eyes with X X to signify death and would emblazon XXXX on things that could kill you.  Passing my some of the human carnage (and like some of the soon-to-be carnage), I think a simple "X" is a rather suitable entry for Mile 24!

Mile 25: Yearning
Any reader who's stuck with this report for this long knows in a literary sense what it's like to be this close to the end of a marathon and to want nothing more than for it to just. simply. be. over! Every 2 miles, there's an official clock that has the current gun-time of the race.  I know that all I need to do to be under 4h is come in with two 10:00 miles which is about what I've been mustering for the past 6 miles or so.  In about 20 minutes, it'll all be over!

Mile 26: Zealous
Walking out of the last aid station, I caught the sign of the 4:00 pacer over my right shoulder.  Hell no.  This last stretch was all-run.  No more run/walk.  I can walk (hopefully) tomorrow.  And off I ran, down the last stretch of bike path toward the finish line.  The fans had peeled back and we ran through a no-man's-land between the neighborhoods along the bike path and the crowd gathered on the waterfront at the finish line.  I ran by at least one person who looked like they were going to make it 25.x miles into a marathon without crossing the line at 26.2.  I kept telling myself, "Just keep putting one foot in front of the other."

The Last 0.2 Mile (Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you run with me?)
I don't care that going all-out in the last few hundred meters isn't going to make a substantial difference in my time.  The finish line is that one place where you put everything into the furnace that's left and just go.  I was glad to still have enough for that last burst.  I got a good chuckle running past the Coast Guard station where 4 months ago I willingly ran into and submerged myself in 33F water as part the VT Special Olympic's Penguin Plunge fundraiser.  The weather was slightly different today!  The transition from bike path to turf that had been trampled by over a thousand runners make that last stretch challenging, but I was already running hard and just hammering toward the finish line.

Other than sucking down a pint of water in no time, the only truly remarkable experience post-finish was that I got asthmatic for about 20 seconds, something that never happens to me.  I had already planted myself near the medical tent "just in case" anything wonky happened and it was a really weird feeling and I was pretty glad when it passed on its own.

I felt pretty decent (all things considered) the rest of the day and was quad-sore on Monday.  As I expected, Tuesday was the worst day of the recovery with my quads being very sore and hamstrings tightening, likely in response to me walking funny due to the sore quads and trying to not put any weight on my left big toe.  Wednesday I did a light Kettlebell workout and pretty much took the rest of the week off, save for a little bit of walking with the family.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of normal workouts and resuming my 'normal' diet as well.

Regarding the, "I'm not training for/running another marathon anytime soon!" perspective I had going in to this race, many people suggested that my position would change after I did one.  Now, having done one, I can categorically say, "I'm not training for/running another marathon anytime soon!"

Saturday, May 28, 2011



Keeping with the spirit of the Taper, this was a rest day.  I did go the Mike Blount's Active Stretching class at Synergy Fitness after work to get a good foam-roller "workout."  It's amazing a) how much something so easy looking can hurt so much; and b) how good your muscles feel afterwards.  As of Wednesday night, I started dosing with Aleve 2x daily to try to bring down some of the lingering inflammation behind my left knee.  My leg responded very well, probably to a combination of the NSAID, the standing desk, the lighter workouts & additional rest days, the increased stretching, the PT, and the fact that the damn thing can only hurt for so long!

We also did our Family Meeting for Team Deep Fried Bacon and did some gorging on food (no "drink" for me, at least not the kind that comes in a corked or capped bottle).  I was an alternate to run for the team, but ended up not needing to fill in, so I'll be doing the whole thing solo in my Company's enQuesta Runtime sleeveless shirt vs. the red Team DFB tech shirt (both of which look totally hawt!)

Due to the unpredictable/unknown nature of dinner-time meal, the diet log for today is ends mid-afternoon. I can comfortably say that I hit my calorie goal for the day. :)
2011-MAY-26 Diet Log

Crap, this race is getting close!  I logged 3 miles at my goal pace today in what will be my last run/workout before the race.  The weather for this weekend is looking awful (hot, humid, bleah) and I was hoping it would be hotter out for the run so I could see what it's going to be like.  Alas, it was a very pleasant day to be out & about.

My leg didn't bother me during the run (my hamstring was tight afterward, but it stretched out okay).  I ran at a comfortable pace which ended up being 7:48 per mile (goal was 7:55).  I didn't have my Nike+ shoes today & didn't want to run with The Belt to carry the Droid, so there's no real-time data for this run.  Sunday's run should be fully geeked out. :)
2011-MAY-27 Diet Log
2011-MAY-27 MapMyRun map of, um, my run (manually created)

Writing mid-day with jitters already.  As this afternoon progresses and I move through more & more pre-race prep, the pre-race jitters grow!  I sat down to write to take my mind off it for a bit (fat lot of good that did!)

I'm doing a slightly increased carb diet today & yesterday and dropping down on protein & fat. I'm sticking with my ~3000 Kcal diet goal and not trying to blast in extra calories.  If I've done this right, my muscles will be full loaded with glycogen and adding a gut full of pasta tonight would only add either a) weight to carry for entire race, or b) weight that may decide it desperately wants to part ways with my body somewhere around mile 16.

Laura & I hit the expo today with the girls to get our bibs and race packets.  We went late morning and I was hoping it wouldn't be a mob-scene.  Thankfully, it wasn't and we were able to get our stuff and take a couple of laps around the expo and score a few good deals on running gear.

I'm adding my Diet Log for today now, but it won't be complete until later today.  The 5(ish)AM wake-up call tomorrow morning is going to come VERY early.

For those who want to track my run, my bib (#2056) will update at 10, 13.1, 20, and 26.2 miles.  The link to get those updates is here:  Additionally, assuming iMapMyRun is working correctly, it will be spitting out every-mile updates to Twitter (@Corrado).

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Final Week of Pre-Marathon Taper!


T-Minus one week to race day.  The plan for the day was a 10-mile run at Marathon Pace (~7:55/mi).  I ran my favorite 8-mile loop out through Old Stage Road and added a 2-mile jaunt out to Indian Brook and back.  My left leg was still bugging me a little bit, but my general rule is that if it doesn't hurt enough to affect my stride, it's okay to run.  The idea for the run was that it would act as a dry run for race weekend.  Same pre-race ritual, same attire, same shoes. same pace, etc.

In all regards, the run was a success.  The shoes worked great, the new team shirt was comfy & chafe-free, and the pace felt easy.  That doesn't mean by any stretch that running 26.2 miles will be quite so comfortable, but at least I feel like I've done what I need to do to get there.
2011-MAY-22 Diet Log
2011-MAY-22 RunKeeper Stats
2011-MAY-22 Nke+ Run Graph -- This was the final test for the shoes, so the run also doubled as a calibration for the Nike+ sensor I've been using on the Asics; as a result, the data are a bit off.

This week is all about getting ready for the race -- no hard work-outs, at least, not for the lower body.  On Monday I went to my LIFT! class and was pleased to find that the focus of the day's class was upper-body.  Lots of shoulder work!
2011-MAY-23 Diet Log

Typically Tuesday is the day I run my intervals, but I really felt like an additional day off running would help my *still* naggingly sore leg.  So I went to spinning class and took the approach that anything that felt like it was becoming a good workout was too much.  My goal was to keep moving for the duration of the class and give my legs a chance to warm up and then spend some additional time stretching & rolling out my legs after class.

I also had my a session with my PT to get his opinion on my leg and what I could do to get it to loosen up.  The good news is that he didn't find anything new and gave me a few exercises to do leading up to the race to help free up my hips and get my lower body working like it's SUPPOSED to.
2011-MAY-24 Diet Log

I was a little nervous going into my interval run (6x400) today.  If I felt like it would have been too much of a push for my leg, I would have modified the workout, but I also know that the interval runs also have a tendency to really work out some of the ailments I've had in the past.  I ran the first 400m interval a few ticks slower, just to see how it felt.  The remaining 5 intervals were run at full pace and felt pretty comfortable.

The standing desk thing is getting easier as the week goes.  I don't feel the leg fatigue I did for the first day or two and I haven't been missing my chair as much as I did early on!
2011-MAY-25 Diet Log
2011-MAY-25 Nike+ Treadmill Graph

As the week wears on, I'm marking off the days to the race.  It's still doesn't feel real.  That's not stopping me from getting nervous about it! More than anything, I'm ready for it to be over!

A Week in Shreveport, LA


Week of 2011-MAY-17
Well, it's officially happened.  I've become senile.  I confused *myself* with my "start at the ending and end at the beginning" post and got about 2 days in to this write-up before I realized I was retracing my steps. We also got our Company Relay race shirts and our Family Relay race shirts in this week (back design for Family Relay shirt to the left).

ANYWAY, this is my "Shreveport Week" and it's an easy write-up.  I took a week off from tracking my food (I still tried to eat modestly) and used it as a bit of an opportunity to try resting my body instead of adding to the stress of travel and client meetings with trying to keep hard workouts going.

On Tuesday (17th) I had a good interval run (6x800) along the riverwalk and I ditched my late-week tempo run to rest my naggingly sore left leg in order to be as healthy as possible for my last long run @ MP this weekend.  -- Runkeeper Stats & Map and Nike+ Graph

My only other marginally serious workout was a self-administered "gut check" fitness test on Wednesday night.  Last summer, I spontaneously set a goal to do 100 push-ups in a day (inspired by my friend Deb who did 100 per day for the entire month of May!)  After knocking those out pretty quickly, I changed the goal to do 300 in a 24h day.  That was a good challenge at the time and and I split it up to do 10-20 every 30 minutes or so.  Over the winter, I was traveling in Port Huron, MI and decided to see how quickly I could do 100 push-ups (4:00 is supposed to be a good mark).  I think my time was around 6:50.  I can't do 100 in a row, so the idea is that you can rest/stretch/whatever, but the clock keeps moving until you're done with #100.

Since one of my goals for this marathon was that I didn't want to LOSE any conditioning, I figured I'd see where I was about 4 months later.  When #100 was completed, I stopped the timer and saw that I trimmed over 2 minutes off my time, getting down to a 4:28.

That pretty well wraps up the week (last week) in Shreveport.  I rose way too early on Friday to fly home and took Saturday as another "day off" before my last long run going in to the last week before the race!

My next post will pick up on 2011-MAY-22 with the 10 mile run (...and yes, that comment is more for my benefit so I know where to begin!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

"You can stuff your Sorry's in a sack!" -- (it's an expression)


(Part 2 of the “start in the present and write into the past” thread)

ASICS Men's Gel-Kayano 17 Running Shoe,Black/Onyx/Lightning,9.5 M2011-MAY-12
I read an article on the benefits of a “standing desk” and decided to give it a whirl.  I’ve had issues for ever with tight hamstrings and poor flexibility and I know my desk-bound slouch isn’t a good thing.  I also did my first run in my new Asics Gel Kayano 17s.  I’m working on breaking them in advance of the marathon since I’m still not sure if I’m going to race in those or my ultralight Saucony Fastwitch 4s.

The run-du-jour was a 5 mile run at short-tempo pace.  It was a nice, sunny(ish) day and in the mid 60s.  I set out on my 5 mile loop and felt pretty decent for the first mile or so (other than the usual, “OMG this sucks!” you get with the first mile of a run until things warm/loosen up).  One of the things I struggle with when I get new sneakers is the break-in period.  I’ve talked about it before and it manifests itself differently depending on the shoe manufacturer & model, but in the case of the Asics, it felt like there were hot coals where the insole should have been under the ball of my right foot.

The idea behind a tempo run is that you do a fairly intense, sustained workout for a moderate distance to put your body under stress and strong-arm it into accepting the fact that this is something you expect it do and it damn well better adapt!  The problem with this workout became trying to balance the need/desire to complete a solid tempo run (which I could have done, but with extreme discomfort) with the knowledge that the unpleasantness I felt every time my right foot hit the pavement would very soon result in my stride changing to compensate. 

That’s a bad thing.  Once you’ve settled into your running stride/groove/form/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, your body begins the process of adapting to that specific movement and stresses it places on bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.  This commonly causes varying body parts to hurt to varying degrees for varying amounts of time until some sort of equilibrium is reached.  When you change that stride, you start that process all over again.

So my options were a) suck it up & keep running the Tempo Run, knowing that something new would hurt which would likely cause something else to hurt and & so on & so on for days or weeks or b) call off the tempo run and find a suitable pace to get back to the gym.  I ended up doing a little of both, running for a while longer to see if the burning would go away (it didn’t) and spent the last 2 miles of the run at more of a jog, alternating between walking intervals as needed.  The result was that I missed the goal of the tempo run distance, but still managed to get in a decent run.

Kettlebell class, nothing remarkable in terms of strength.  We did some extended circuits and kept everything light (16kg).  I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to STRENGTH training.

Today’s run was supposed to be a 8x800.  That just didn’t happen!  I went in with the best intentions and I’m pretty sure I could have powered through the workout, but after the first one or two, my hamstring was still feeling VERY twingy.  Being this close to the race, I’m increasingly cognizant of “pushing the evelope” at the expense of breaking the contents. 

So I called off the interval workout and did some runs at marathon pace to try to improve the calibration of my HRM’s pedometer (it currently says my “race pace” is 10.1 MPH or just under 6:00 per mile) and did an extended post race stretch & cool-down.

2011-MAY-10 Nike+ Treadmill Workout

Happy Birthday to me!  I turn 0x25 today.  Workout today was focused on higher reps and lighter weights and the goal seemed to be complete upper body punishment.  In that regard, class was a success!   Birthday means wine and tonight I celebrated with a bottle Wellington Noir de Noirs and a perfectly grilled medium rare steak and fillet of cod with a stupidly large serving of cake and a reasonable pour of Knob Creek bourbon for dessert.  Happy Birthday to me indeed!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More anything? MORE EVERYTHING!

As a HUGE fans of the sitcom Seinfeld, my wife and I frequently fall into dialog from the show as part of our normal conversation.  You’d be surprised how readily, “Fredo was weak and stupid; he shouldn’t have eaten that key!” and “You put a balm on? Who told you to put the balm on? Did I tell you the balm on?” can supplement everyday discussion!  Yes, there’s a point to this odd bit of trivia and a connection to this post.

I find myself once again behind in my blogging and looking to write an encyclopedic “catchup” post.  Typically I pick up where I last left off and move forward.  Today, however, I’m composing at 30,000 feet with a dose of Woodford Reserve Bourbon (thank you, Delta, for the complementary First Class upgrade!) on my left and some dude who may be reading this over my shoulder waaaay off to my right (Hey Dude!).  International-travel planes aren’t WiFi equipped, so I’m stone-aged with (oooh! Snack tray!! Banana, Sun Chips, low-salt, dry roasted peanuts, and bottled water; no “meal” on this flight? BOOO!!  – sorry, distracted...) no internet, so I can't pull up my blog page.  Since I have no idea where I left off, I’ll start with the current and work backward... which was the very creative premise of (you guessed it) a Seinfeld episode!


Travel day, going to Shreveport, LA.  I’ll be getting in a few ‘heat training’ runs.  The weather has been overall COLD in Vermont and there’s a definite possibility that the start time of the race will be the hottest weather I’ve run in since September of last year.  Did I mention I hate exercising in the heat?

I’m not going to formally track my diet on this trip.  It’s such a hassle to manage formal diet tracking when dining out and it’s pretty much shooting in the dark to try to come up with reasonable estimates.  I’ll still try to eat a moderately healthy diet and, from what I’ve been reading, a bit of an uptick of fat (I typically struggle to get up to 25% fat in my diet; research indicates runners do better with 30-35%) with a dropoff of protein in my diet would be a good thing in terms of “performance nutrition.”

(…Biscoff Gourmet Ginger Snaps?  Why yes, sir, I would love a package!  Thank you very much!)

Officially my “day off” and “diet cheat day” for the week. (Yes, I would love another ridiculously small, but refreshing, bottle of Dasani!)  I started diet tracking and then we had Taco Salad for dinner and and I had zero enthusiasm for weighing and entering about a dozen different ingredients, so no diet log!

I chose very wisely to run yesterday as the weather today is truly ugly (low 50s & rain rain rain).  I saw lots of Facebook posts and updates from local friends who ran on Sunday and was very, very glad I wasn’t one of them!

I travel to Shreveport, LA, tomorrow, and travel days are notoriously tough for my diet, but in a way that probably differs for most.  If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I typically shoot for around 3000 Kcal per day on average and even more when I run stupid distances.  It’s often difficult to get nutritive calories in when traveling through 3 airport over the course of 10 hours.  I snack here & there and grab what I can on the airplane (snacks are gone at this point; the carcasses lingered briefly on shelf next to my ¾ reclined seat before being whisked away as I cracked open my 3rd bottle of Dasani).  

The back of my left knee continues to be troublesome.  I need to resume my PT exercises and rule out hip flexors as the cause.  I can definitely run with this and I don’t think it will end up being a showstopper on the course, but it may make me bed-ridden (or severely hobbled) for a day or two following the race. 

My last kinda “long run” and what I’ll call the official beginning of my taper.  Holy s**t, I’m going to run a freakin’ marathon in 2 weeks!  My long run this week is the shortest scheduled long run since my first week on the plan – 13 miles.  This one was supposed to be at Marathon Pace (Oh, sure, I’ll take another Woodford Reserve.  Thank you, kind sir!) and I felt like I struggled the entire way to keep the pace.  My Nike+ kept spitting out the every-mile updates and my best-case scenario was fighting to keep an 8:00 mile on a slight downhill (my goal MP is 7:55 per mile).  I’ve felt very blah on my last few runs and this really wasn’t helping me feel like I was ready to challenge a 3:30 marathon (for reference, running 8:00 miles for the duration just squeaks in under 3:30).

I ran one of my normal routes in reverse, so I really had no good benchmarks for time & distance.  It wasn’t until coming back into my neighborhood that I realized that my Nike+ had been lying to me for the past 90 minutes.  By its report, I was over 2 minutes off my pace for the 13 mile run (I should be in at around 1:45), but here I was, 0.75 miles from home and seeing a time on my watch that was considerably faster. 

I ended up completing the 13.6 mile run in 1:44:30.  My first “warm-up” mile was right about where I wanted to be at 8:20 and then I was consistently cranking times well under 8:00 for the rest of the run.  My best Half Marathon *race* was run at a 7:41 per mile pace.  According to RunKeeper (which is GPS based vs. the Nike+ which is basically pedometer based) my pace for this *training* run averaged  out to 7:42 per mile. 

While the result somewhat changes my perception of the perceived effort of the run, I’m not thrilled at overrunning the run.  I was pushing too hard and, while I’m glad that I had the fitness to run that distance in that time, I will certainly pay for it in terms of muscle fatigue and recovery.  I usually have a very good sense of my pace and to be that far off of what “felt” like the right pace makes me feel a little n00bish again.  Fortunately, the race has Pacing Groups  and mile markers, so I can better track my actual pace on known intervals and use the 3:30 pacing group as a benchmark of about where I need to be to hit my goal.

(No, thank you very much, but while another bourbon would be great, responsibility dictates that I request another bottle of Dasani instead.  Thank you again, sir!)
Day 2 of the “Standing Desk Experiment” went a little better today, but dear lord is it different!  On a few occasions, I would wander off to talk to a co-worker about some work-related nugget of information. I would start walking back to my cubicle wondering why I was looking so forward to sitting down… only to have my dreams dashed with the realization that that there was no sitting down!  I wore my new Asics Gel Kayano 17s today instead of dress shoes, so at least I was standing in shoes with good support!

Considering how dinged up I’ve been feeling this week (standing-desk didn’t help, but I suspect it will be better for me in the long run), I opted out of my cardio class at the gym.  My left hamstring behind the knee is still sore and I’m not entirely sure why it’s not recovering properly.  I absolutely could have muscled through the class and been fine, but I’m also looking toward this weekend’s long run and, given the lousy running workouts I’ve had recently, I really need to have a good run and at least FEEL like I’m getting my mojo back.

(...and here I conclude my Delta First Class experience, deplane and wander around The ATL for a few hours...)  Good stopping point for this update; the next one will go back in time a bit further.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"This is the 2nd best idea that we've ever had!"

(link to video; uncensored language, NSFW w/o Headphones)

I made a comment the other day that I never seem to do anything half-assed; it's either no-assed or full-assed.  I immediately realized that, of the three options, half-assed really sounded like the best option!  So, in the spirit of half-assedery, here's what I've been up to.

Monday, May 2nd -- LIFT! 
Class at the gym; upper body abuse with barbells & dumbbells.  Some lower body work via lunges, deadlifts, squats.  
2011-MAY-02 Diet Log

Tuesday, May 3rd -- 10x400 Intervals Run. 
First interval run in a few weeks.  This one felt really good.  Ran in my Saucony Fastwitch 4 race shoes to see how the felt (and they were awesome!).  I'll do one more outdoor run in them leading up to the race to calibrate my Nike+ sensor to the shoe and validate that they're still in good shape for a kinda long run.
2011-MAY-03 Nike+ Treadmill Graph -- you'd think they could figure out a way to better interpret the raw data; these graphs look like CRAP!
2011-MAY-03 Diet Log

Wednesday, May 4th (Star Wars Day -- May the 4th be with you!) -- Kettlebells
I went in to class with the idea of staying light and using only the 16kg KB.  I ended up doing some fun double-KB work with the 12kg KBs (squats, swings, 24kg total) and a few get-ups with the 24kg.  Mike put together a circuit from hell that included get-ups, swings, push-ups, snatches, mountain-climbers, squats, double-jumps with the jump rope, and a few other nuggets.  First time I've started get physio-pukey in a while!  So much for 'taking it easy!"
2011-MAY-04 Diet Log

Thursday, May 5th (AKA Cinqo de Wy-o, so named after our first ferret from long ago, Wylie, who was born on May 5th) -- 8 mile run @ marathon pace.
What the plan did NOT call for was putting a BF Hill (~ 400' of elevation change in a mile) in the second half of the run (profile w/ pace, below).  This was another hard run at race-pace, but ultimately a successful one.  The iTouch was dead for this run thanks to Apple's "genius" idea to permanently keep their Game Center connected via WiFi, thus draining the battery in a day.

2011-May-05 RunKeeper Map (public) and run stats
2011-May-05 Diet Log

Friday, May 6th -- WhatWhatWhat? Another run?
It was too nice to be inside.  With all the rain and cold we've had, I couldn't pass up a sunny & 50s noontime outing.  Instead of doing my Cardio class, a few of us from work went out for a slow 5 mile run (avg. pace ~ 10:00/mile). Over the last quarter mile, I added a bit of speed at each telephone pole until I was at an all out sprint for the last 50 yds or so.
2011-May-06 Nike+ Run Graph -- Pace/Distance is off.  My stride was much shorter at the slower pace, so more steps = Nike+ thinking I ran faster/further than I did.
2011-May-06 Diet Log

Saturday, May 7th -- 20 mile run... or not.
Scheduled for a 20 mile run, was gunning for around 22.  The run was also prescribed at being 15 seconds off my race pace, but I had already made the decision to run closer to a 9:00 pace to better work the muscles used for "easy effort" running.  Part way into the first of what was going to be two 11 mile loops, I realized that this was a) the first time I'd run 3 days in a row and that 22 miles would put me over the "no more than a 10% increase in weekly mileage" guideline for training.

I ended up re-routing myself after the first loop and shortening the run to about 17 miles.  This still had me running constantly for two and half hours (a good long run).  Even though this was well off my expected race pace, the goal for every workout at this point is to stay healthy.  If I ran longer on this day, I ran the risk of over-taxing my body and affecting the rest of my training leading up to the marathon.  I still have 2 more hard runs (one interval, one tempo) before my training starts tapering off to get ready for the race.

2011-MAY-07 RunKeeper Stats (stopped RunKeeper when I stopped running.  I walked home for the other third of mile that shows up on Nike+)
2011-MAY-07 Nike+ Run Graph
2011-MAY-07 Diet Log -- Came up over 800 Kcal short today and relatively light on water.

Sunday, May 8th (Happy Mother's Day)
Spent the day with my folks, Laura's folks, and family friends in 'dolph.  Ate way too much, then ate some more.  I consider it compensation for being so far under my calorie goal yesterday.  No diet logging today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An 1800 Kcal exercise day


So I stopped writing my last post intending to immediately start up a new one to complete the catch-up.  They I saw Tweets and Facebook updates start popping up in RockMelt which caused me to turn on the TV to see what "big news" Obama was announcing. ...and there went the rest of that night!

Friday ended up being a pretty serious workout day.  I parked my car at work Thursday night and caught a ride home.  Friday morning, I got up early and ran 10 miles to work.  I had left a change of clothes and lunch at the office along with my laptop, and (most importantly) car keys!  There's a LOT more planning & forethought that goes into a run like this than you'd think!

The run was intended to be 10 miles as my marathon pace (I've settled on 7:55 as my goal pace).  My last 10 miler was busted out at a pace about 20 sec/mile faster, but for some reason, the force was not with me on this morning.  It was a fairly tech-free (for me) today since I left my iPod and HRM/wrist watch @ work, but I did run with my Droid and Runkeeper.  It's set to update every mile, so I simply tried to run on what "felt" like a touch faster than 8:00 and used the updates to chart my progress.

It was more difficult to hold the pace than any of my previous runs at this pace or faster for a mid- to long-distance run. My hamstrings just felt off for most of the run.  The only time I really started feeling discouraged was between mile 8 & 9 when I thought, "I really don't think I can keep this pace for 26 miles!" to be follow a few moments later by RunKeeper informing me that I ran that last mile at a 7:30 pace.  Whoops!  Slow down, dumb-ass!

My first mile was 8:53, second at 7:58.  Other than two hills (8:16 & 8:02), I kept everything else between 7:44 and 7:56 (also not counting the 7:30 "oops").  There are some moderate uphills segments, but the net of the run was downhill by a couple hundred feet, so I don't feel like I really over-ran my pace for effort.

I get to work, scamper (yes, scamper) over to the gym, shower, change and start the work day.  A few hours later, I'm back at the gym for my cardio class.  What do we start off with?  Resisted sprints in the parking lot -- one person has an unbreakable resistance band around their waist and a second person trailing behind holding tension on the bands.  10 sprints total.  Then we went inside & did kickboxing moves interspersed with core work.  Total calorie burn for the day estimated at just shy of 1800 Kcal.

2011-APR-29 RunKeeper Stats
2011-APR-29 Diet Log -- yes, I ate allllll 1800 exercise calories!

Saturday ended up being completely an off day.  We went to friends' for their 2 yr old daughter's brunch birthday party which had many, many delicious home-made delights, none of which are remotely close to being on my diet plan... so I didn't track any of them!

Sunday was a wake-up-and-run-15-miles day.  The weather was beautiful when I woke up... with a migraine.    I decided the fresh air may fix it and I really wanted to get out.  As I was getting ready, the nausea which tends to accompany my migraines started creeping in.  No amount of mental coaxing was helping either condition and I ended up getting out of my running gear and crawling back into bed for another 3 hours.

The nausea was gone when I woke up and the headache was bearable, probably transitioning to a hunger- and dehydration-induced headache.  My opportunity for a 15 miler was shot, but I was able to get out for a nice 5 mile run with my Sister-in-law who will be running in the VCMarathon this month on our Family Relay Team (Team Deep Fried Bacon; believe it or not I think it was probably the best option given the other names we were coming up with).  Sunday ended up being another "off the grid" day for diet tracking, but I did manage to remember to turn the iTouch on for the run.

2011-MAY-01 Nike+ Run Graph

I seem to be doing a pretty good job keeping myself 2-3 days behind being current.  I've also been doing a terrible job keeping up with the "MUSINGS" theme I was adding in my early editions of this blog.  Many of those topics will most likely start showing up after the marathon as I reflect on my training and the result of the race.  I've learned a lot about the science and physiology of running as well as nutrition for endurance athletes and it's information that's valuable to consolidate and share.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

4 days with noooo running


In our last episode, our Hero had just completed a 20 mile run, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and foiling Captain Fatigue and his IT Band once again.  What lurks around the corner this week?  Well, not much.

The recovery from the 20 miler really wasn't that bad. On Monday, I did my typical LIFT! class at the gym.  The weather was nice enough that we went outside for the class and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We did a lot of supersetting (two exercises back-to-back) and got a good full-body workout.
2011-APR-25 Diet Log

Tuesday was scheduled to be Interval Day, but one of the staples of my previous training was Spinning and it's something I haven't done as much of this time as I wanted.  I was feeling more quad/hammy soreness today than on Monday and a Spin felt the best option.  The ride today had a Hawaiian ride-along video that was, frankly awful. You think, "Cool! Riding in Hawaii!" but the majority of the video was riding through residential neighborhoods. Where's the coastline?  Where're the volcanos?  ...and I'm pretty sure I saw at LEAST one cloud!

I ended up just keeping my head down for most of it and "visualized" my own ride. Overall I felt good on the bike, but felt weak in the knees toward the end, meaning I've probably lost some fitness there over the past several months.  I definitely need to get a few more sessions in before the race.
2011-APR-26 Diet Log

Predictably, Wednesday was Kettlebell day.  Another outdoor class!  It was upper 60s (maybe low 70s) and gorgeous! My back was still feeling a little tweaky, a carry-over from something I did last week (no clue what).  I stayed light and did the entire class with the 16kg weight, focusing on form & technique and trying to ensure I got full range of motion from the exercises.  Even going light, it was a great workout!
2011-APR-27 Diet Log

Thursday ended up being mostly a day off.  I needed to do a 10 mile Tempo Run and my solution for that was to run to work.  The weather Thursday was ugly, Friday was looking nice, so the extent of Thursday's workout was an Active Stretching class at the gym.  The was short (25 minutes) and centered around the proper use of a foam roller to "massage" muscles using body weight.  I'm already a believer in the therapeutic benefit of using a roller, but it was nice to get a professional walk-through of some of the varying ways it can be used.  I learned some new techniques and left the class feeling fresher than when I went in
2011-APR-28 Diet Log

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Next to last 20 mile run!


I took the weekend off from writing and will do a quick (for me) update through the weekend.  Last Thursday's episode left us doing a late-week Interval run on Thursday.  That workout backed up to Friday's kick-boxing based workout that had things hurting and sweat pooling within the first 10 minutes of class.  The kick-boxing, which, was more shadow-boxing with dumbbells vs. getting to hit people this week, was intermixed with core work on the ground and some cardio drills to ensure heart rates stayed elevated.

2011-APR-22 Diet Log

Saturday was a rest day in preparation for my 20 mile run on Sunday morning.  For this week's run, I tried eating a more normal day's calories and hydrating well.

2011-APR-23 Diet Log

Sunday we had plans to go to my folks' house for Easter, so my run needed to be completed relatively early.  20 miles isn't a fast workout anyway you cut it!  For this run, I was running with, Jed, a friend I've known (and see too little of) since college.  Jed ran the Burlington Marathon last year and ran away from me at last fall's Shelburne Half Marathon and has a 3:30 stretch goal for this year's marathon.

The route we ran took us through 3 towns along the Lake Champlain waterfront, through downtown and the Old North end "ghetto," a blink through Winooski out into farmland on Malletts Bay Ave, back into residential neighborhood before bending around Lakeshore drive with a view of Mallets Bay and out to the end of Colchester Point before looping back through the Delta Park wetland, running back over the Winooski River for the second time and finishing back where we started on the bike path.

Our goal was to run around 8:30s.  We (and by We I mean Jed) pushed the pace early and it wasn't until our biggest climb of the day around mile 5 that we got *up* to an 8-minute mile.  Our pace was comfortable, but I suspected it wasn't sustainable for the distance.  Once we got up to Willard St from the Lake, it was a gradual downhill for a few miles almost all the way to Winooski.  The miles were really clipping by quickly and we were feeling great.  We pit-stopped around mile 8 at a store on Malletts Bay Ave before setting off again.

I was hitting my Clif Shot Bloks religiously every 30 minutes and keeping the Accelerade flowing in small sips.  On this run, I halved the dosage I used for my last 20 miler and that definitely helped make the drink more refreshing vs. cloying to drink while running.  In terms of nutrition, I get a lot of what I need from the Clif Shot Bloks (Margarita w/ 3x sodium) and it really felt like overkill to have such a sweet beverage washing them down.  This go-around, I also had a sleeve of caffeinated gels that I alternated with the Margarita gels, take 3 every 30.  On my next run, I'm going to drop to 2 bloks from 3 bloks every 30 minutes and see what sort of a difference I feel.

My legs start feeling a little bored around mile 10, so I sprint the last significant hill of the run and go into a recovery jog until Jed catches up a few minutes later.  While this may seem counter intuitive, the quick change of pace and Call to Action by a whole bunch of bored muscles serves to get things moving and typically leaves me feeling better when I'm done with it.  Besides, the faster you run up the hill, the sooner you get to the top!

We run along pleasantly, still pretty consistently holding down sub 8:00 miles.  We hit a little downhill coming into Lakeshore Drive around mile 12.  Both of our paces naturally pick up slightly to take advantage of letting gravity do a little more of the work, but once we get back to flat ground, out pace doesn't match the change in terrain and when I do a Sanity Check of our pace on the Nike+, it spits out a 7:22 pace.  We back off slightly and hit half marathon distance at 1:45.xx.

By around mile 15-16, the fast early pace starts taking its toll.  I'm feeling pretty decent overall, but Jed (who doesn't run with water or gel) starts running out of gas.  We start interspersing some walking intervals.  Around mile 17 the gels I'd taken about 10 minutes earlier kick in and run out ahead to sprint the last little slope and I go to a recovery walk afterward and do some stretching for my hamstrings as Jed catches up.

I take my last gels at 2:30 around mile 18.  We make one more water break about a mile and a half from the end of the run and set off for the last bit.  With the end in sight, both of our paces pick up a bit.  I'm by no means fresh, but I'm also not feeling gassed, so with just under a mile left to go, I let my Podrunner mix (168 BPM) take over and keep building my pace to a Tempo Run.  For that last stretch, everything just came together.  The gels kicked in, the clock was ticking toward 2h45m (which was my goal for the run), the music tempo was spot-on for my cadence at the pace my legs wanted to run and I just ran.

I punched the "Stop" on Nike+ at 20.02 miles in front of Jed's place, walked for down & back the bike path for 100 yards or so to catch my breath, did my 25 jumping jacks & 30 push-ups (a proper finish to any long run!) just as Jed was arriving.  RunKeeper puts my last mile at a 7:22 which includes a bit at around an 8:00 pace.  Nike+ says it was sub-7:00, but it's also counting foot-strikes to come up with pace and I'm pretty sure my cadence increased enough to fool into thinking I was running faster than I was.

The run officially ended with both Jed and I standing on the bike path looking at long bank of stairs that led up to his development and wishing there was an elevator.  As we jogged up the steps at 11AM, we both marveled at the accomplishment of the run and realized that there were still countless people in Chittenden County still in their PJs watching TV.  A sore as we knew we both going to be, we think we chose... wisely.

2011-APR-24 RunKeeper Stats & Map
2001-APR-24 Nike+ Run Graph
2011-APR-24 Diet Log -- Easter Dinner.  Beer.  Wine.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sleep is good. Must. Get. Sleep.


I have been a nite-owl for as long as I can remember.  It's rare that I am in bed before midnight and can run indefinitely on 6 hours of sleep and for several days on 5 before I start feeling cruddy.  This does not mesh well with good health practices and certainly isn't good for training.  Sleep is prime-time for healing and recovery.

My typical evening gets me home from work, spend some time with the girls, eat dinner, get the girls to bed, clean up from dinner, watch some TV to unwind, catch up on email, Facebook, Formula 1, research whatever had piqued my interest during the day (nutrition, shoes, ideas for a running route, etc.), and, as some point, realize that I should have written a blog post.

Wednesday was (as usual) Kettlebell day.  I did the majority of the workout with the 24kg kettlebell, dropping down to the 16kg a few times for overhead stuff.  I've had to drop down to the 16kg for some of my left-side get ups.  My right side has stayed pretty strong, but my left side has weakened considerably in the past few months.  It feels like it's coming from my core, which may mean that I need to start paying attention to my hip flexors again.

2011-APR-21 Diet Log

Thursday's run was scheduled for intervals.  1k, 2k, 1k, 1k, with 400m Rest Interval (RI) between each one.  The 1k pace was 9.2 MPH and the 2k pace was 8.9 MPH (ballpark 6:30 per mile).  My time for today's workout was bookended by meetings, so I had to cut the last interval off and there's a good chance I would have anyway.  I was trying out a "new" pair of shoes, some Montrail Trail Running shoes I got a few months ago.  They actually felt pretty decent to run in, but I definitely struggled through the last half of the last interval. I don't know it if was the day, the shoes, or yesterday's Kettlebell workout, but I was definitely looking forward to hitting the showers when it was over!

2011-APR-21 Diet Log
2011-APR-21 Nike+ Run Graph (downloaded from treadmill)

20 miles coming up this weekend.  Here's hoping for nice weather!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Training Update: Three Most Excellent Runs!


Getting behind seems to be a recurring theme!  I've been spending more of my "screen time" researching performance nutrition and doing some work getting print samples ready for some shirts I'm designing for marathon relay teams.

I also seem to tend to write more when I hit bumps in my training and that may be another reason why I've gone MIA for a few days.  My last post caught me up through Wednesday of last week. Not counting family walks, I've had 2 non-training days and 4 training days.  I skipped last Friday's workout to be on Daddy Daycare duty while SWMBO had some appointments and errands to run and Sunday was my planned off day after Saturday's long run.  Monday's workout was almost exclusively upper body and my biceps & triceps are still feeling it a bit!

2011-APR-15 Diet Log
2011-APR-17 Diet Log
2011-APR-18 Diet Log

My last 3 runs have felts great.  Thursday was a 10 mile at my expected marathon pace (MP).  The course I ran was downhill or flat for the first half and mostly flat for the second half with a BIG hill at 7.5 miles.  I was supposed to run at an 8:00/mile pace, but I instead chose to run at a pace that was comfortable and felt realistic for the distance I was running.  I ran the second half (the uphill portion) faster than the first half and ended with an average pace of 7:33/mile and felt great doing it!

2011-APR-14 Diet Log
2011-APR-14 Run Graph (Nike+)
2011-APR-14 Run Stats (RunKeeper)

Saturday was scheduled to be a 15 mile run at MP + 20 seconds per mile.  My long run this weekend was awkward.  We had plans Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon and an ugly storm was due to blow in Saturday afternoon through noon Sunday.  I decided to get the run out of the way on Saturday despite REALLY not wanting to go out in gusting winds as the storm blew in and not really sure if the rain would start pelting down mid-run.

Still working from my MP being 8:00, my scheduled pace for the run was 8:20 per mile.  I completed the run in under 2:00 with an average pace of around 7:51 per mile, again running comfortably and exceeding my expected training pace by nearly 30 seconds per mile.

2011-APR-16 Diet Log
2011-APR-16 Run Graph (Nike+)
2011-APR-16 Run Stats (RunKeeper)

Finally, I typically run my treadmill intervals on Tuesday, but the weather was BEAUTIFUL, so I flip-flopped my Tempo run to today (Tuesday).  It was supposed to be a 6 mile run, 1 mile easy, 5 miles at Mid-Tempo pace.  My training partner has been working with a PT to address some Achilles & IT Band issues and was on a similar run schedule for the day.  We decided to keep the distance, but turn it into a Hill Run + Tempo run.  The course we ran was pretty flat for about 2 miles, then a big hill about 3/4 of a mile long with a few seriously steep portions.

We ran at a relatively easy pace out to the hill (9:00 per mile) and then maintained that pace or greater for the ascent before coming back down and doing our own Tempo Run back to the gym.  I wasn't running with a specific pace in mind, but I pushed the pace for the entire 2 miles I had to run.  I ended up running the 2 miles in 13 minutes for an average pace of 6:30 per mile.  What's truly sick to think about is that the guy who won this year's Boston Marathon did it while averaging almost 2:00 per mile faster for the entire 26.2 miles (and only won by 4 seconds)!

(no Nike+ Graph; dead iTouch battery!)

I don't know where this sudden flurry of success is coming from with my runs.  I've been paying a lot more attention to nutrition and have started working a L-Glutamine supplement into my diet a few times per day.  I've also made an effort to increase the fat and reduce the protein in my diet to help fuel my activity.  Running in the Asics is a dream, too, so I'm not sure what has really made the difference, but so far, I LIKE IT!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Training Taxes Me Enough; I Don't Need The Government's Help


I've been spending much of my 'screen time' teaching myself Adobe Illustrator (Photoshop is a breeze!) and working on designing some apparel for the Marathon Relay teams I'm working with (Family team and 4-5 Company teams).

Wednesday was a non-running Kettlebell day and it was yet another stellar workout!  My abs are still sore a day later (which may also mean that I haven't been doing enough core work lately).  I was powering through right-handed exercises with ease, but struggling to move the weight with my left.  I did several get-ups, about 20 snatches on the right side with the 24kg KB, but was only able to do about half the number of snatches with the left and had to drop down to the 16kg KB for the get-ups on the left.  It felt almost more like it was lack of coordination than lack of strength, but regardless, I wanted the weight going up and it wasn't happening.

At the end of class, I got down with the 32kg KB and went through the first few moves of the get-up, just to see how it felt moving it around.  It's heavy (duh!), but considering it's only April and I have until December to do a full get-up with it, I was encouraged.

I'm looking forward to this $%$^(&#$ marathon training being over so I can get back to challenging myself in the gym.  I've got enough invested in this marathon that I'm not about to do anything stupid and wreck all the training hours I've put into this (and that my family has put up with).  I've still got 100 on 100 and Race to the Top of Vermont in August, so I can't completely let myself go, but at least I get to stop saying things like, "I only have to run 15 miles this weekend!"

2011-APR-13 Diet Log

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Skipping in Hell


I mentioned last week (or was it two weeks ago now?) that I was going to re-revise my pacing/training strategy. I started off too ambitious in search of a 3:20 finish time and it became clear that my current level of fitness was not such that I could train at that pace.  I fell back to the pacings I used for my half marathon training which put me on around a 3:35 pace.  Finding those paces pleasantly easy, I've stepped up the training paces in accordance with my revised 3:30 goal.

Monday was a gym day and we did a pretty active full body workout -- lots of plyometrics and balance drills.  I will publicly state for the record that I *hate* jump-lunges (AKA Scissor lunges) where you alternate lunges by explosively jumping from the down position, switching leading & trailing legs in the air, and landing into another lunge.  It's like skipping in Hell.

2011-APR-11 Diet Log

Tuesday was my first interval run in a few weeks and my first run on the revised plan.  The prescribed run was 3 sets of 2 x 1200m @ 9.2 MPH (or about a 6:18 per mile pace).  One of the seasonal challenges in Vermont is knowing at what point to switch the control on the HVAC from "HEAT" to "COOL."  I think the gym hadn't made that switch yet because it was *HOT.*  I did a 400m easy run on the treadmill and had a sweat going.  Running the intervals felt pretty decent, very reminiscent of the feeling I had during my half-marathon training.  The pace & distance was challenging, at times uncomfortable, but ultimately doable.

Throughout my training I've tried to balance listening to my body with pushing my body.  Getting the balance right is crucial.  Push too far and my recovery will carry into my next run and lead to a cascade of failure where I ultimately have to take multiple runs off to recover.  Push too little and I won't maximize my training and I won't be in the shape I need to be in to run the race I want to run.  For my interval session today, I chose to blow off the last 2x1200 and spend some extra time stretching and cooling down before heading back to the office.  This run was my first shot at a challenging pace in nearly a month and I was still sore from those damn scissor lunges.

I could have pushed through 2 more (and maybe I should have!), but I still have a 10 mile run at race-pace on Thursday and a 15 mile long run on the weekend and I really want to try to see if I can hit the pace for both runs.  In order to do that, I need to be healthy enough to run and that little voice in my head didn't like where that last set of 2x1200s might lead.  I think it probably led to Hell.  ...and there would probably be skipping.  ($#^$&% scissor lunges).

2011-APR-12 Diet Log
2011-APR-12 Nike+ Run Graph