Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wined and Dined

Last night (and for most of us at least a little bit into this morning) was the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon and after party at EPCOT. For me, this race was much more than that. I think my running story is a bit abnormal since I went from non-runner marathoner without any sort of natural progession in my running. All of my significant growth as a runner came after my marathon.

However, this growth didn't come without a price. I have been training for something or other for over a year. I went from marathon training to back-to-back 5k plans and started training for this half before I finished my second 5k schedule. I wasn't training to finish races any more. I wasn't training to just get past some distance. I was training to get faster. It worked in spades for my 5k and, in comparison to my marathon pace, it worked for my half as well.

In typical newbie fashion, my goal pace for my half was almost completely arbitrary. Having done a 4:30 marathon, my next milestone was 4:00. When they guy working at the running store said he ran a half and didn't train but still finished under 2:00, I decided that was my goal. A 9:00 pace had gotten pretty easy for me so when I started my half training I decided a 9:00 pace was a good target. Everything went fine for the first few weeks. Then the weather got hot and I fell apart. My long runs were miserable and I was fighting to just finish. The conditioning I had from marathon training seemed to have disappeared during my 4-5 months of 5k training. Then in all the heat I felt like I forgot how to run fast too. As I got closer to the race I started to doubt my ability to get under 2:00. As cooler weather came literally the night of my race, I knew I would be able to gain some speed but was still nervous.

The race started at 10:00 PM so that the after party at EPCOT could start after the riff raff...I mean tourists ;) had left the park. That meant that yesterday was one of the longest days of my life. After my parents arrived to watch the kids, we headed out for lunch and then down to ESPN Wide World of Sports to meet up with my wife's cousin and her husband. My wife's cousin-in-law was also running in the race (his first half and longest distance) and the wives were going to be enjoying the party at EPCOT. Then we headed to the hotel to check in and kill time until the race. Around 7:00 we got on the bus to head for the starting line. I was sitting at the front of the bus as all the runners were boarding when I saw a Garmin 305 pass in front of my face. That is when I realized mine was sitting on the floor of the hotel room plugged into the charger. I went from anxious and somewhat relaxed to completely stressed out. After going back to the room to get my watch, we met up with some more folks loosely related to my wife and headed out to the starting line. I don't remember exactly when we got there, but my guess is it was before 8:00 so we had to kill around 2 hours.

The starting area was about as much fun as a field surrounded by port-o-lets could be. They had music pumping out of a pretty serious sound system so it sounded like the world's biggest (and most casually dressed) wedding reception. I did a little 10 minute warmup and then around 9:30 I headed for my start corral and tried to find my pace compadres. I didn't want to be too close to the front, but didn't want to be stuck in traffic either. I settled in around the middle surrounded by some groups, some couples, but immediately surrounded by 4 other people who were by themselves like me and appeared to be equally nervous.

The start of Disney races is always fun. They had a "Disney Recording Artist" sing the national anthem. There was a lone wheelchair participant who started at 9:58 with their own set of fireworks. The first corral of runners started at 10:00 and then we started around 10:05.

The start was a little slower than I remember the marathon being. I immediately got concerned that I might miss my goal by seconds due to being held up at the beginning. I tried to just stay relaxed and not burn too much energy weaving around but still hopped up on the grass for a while to get around some of the traffic.

Somewhere in there, my shoe came untied. This was a first for me in my fledgeling running career. Believe it or not I had never had a shoe come untied on the road and definitely not on a race. I took note of the time. I think it took something like 17 seconds to tie it.

The course was more fun than the full - started at EPCOT, ran to and through Animal Kingdom, and then through Hollywood Studios on the way back to EPCOT and the finish. There were several overpasses on the roads between parks which gave a good opportunity to conserve energy on the way up and fly on the way down. I tore it up on the downhills regularly breaking 7:30 according to my Garmin.

The ending was strangely familiar from the full - through Disney's Boardwalk into the back entrance of EPCOT. However, instead of wobbly legs feeling like I would barely be able to walk much less run across the finish, I was going to be putting in some of my fastest miles of the race. I found a woman who was running what I felt like was a good pace. More importantly, I felt like I could beat her. I stayed on her shoulder for the last mile or so. Once I hit a bridge around the back of EPCOT, I powered down it and left her behind for good. I split mile 13 in 8:33 - the fastest split of the race - and finished with a 1:58:39.

The party after was great. Got a free can of beer (ok, that was the low point) and had a gift card good for food/beverage that I used for a pint of Guinness and some other food (and of course spent more than the gift card was for). We didn't plan on staying until the 4:00 AM closing time but by the time we made our way out of the park, most of the people were leaving as it was pretty darn close. Definitely going to make this an annual race for as long as I can.

By the way, it is now May 31, 2012. The race started on October 1, 2011 and just today realized that I never finished this post. I have obviously been neglecting this blog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It Starts Today!

It should have started this morning. In a way it did. It was the first day back at work after a long weekend (and another slow, sweaty, long run). It was a fight to get up at 5:00-ish AM. Temps were in the 80s before sunup. My knee was a bit tweaked so even walking was interesting to say the least. Just getting out and running was quite the accomplishment so doing 2x2000 sub-8 intervals is pretty damn good even if the plan was for 3x2000.

It wasn't good enough though.

So today is the day I start training for my race. That may sound odd considering I have less than 4 weeks left and have already been training for 15. I have been training to run a half marathon. I have been training to be faster than my full marathon and 15k (my only "long" race benchmarks). I have been training to break 2:00 - to become a "real" runner by my own artificial standard. I have NOT been training to RACE for 13.1 miles.

As most recreational runners know, only a few elite athletes race to win - especially in big races. Everyone else races themselves. Even if they are racing a friend/rival or pacing someone or just trying to finish, they are racing their own demons - the things that drove them to run in the first place or new lurkers discovered only after becoming a runner. For me it is the latter - I know I do not run as hard as I can. I'm hot, I'm tired, I'm thirsty. These are facts. These are things I cannot change. But there is one thing that is 100% in my control and that is how hard I try. I have wanted to try harder and to run faster, but it was easier to make excuses. The excuses end today.

Today is the day I start training my mind. I don't want to run 13.1 in 1:59:59. I sure as HELL don't want to run it in 2:00:01! Here is my goal:


For those keeping score at home, that is an 8:59 pace. It may not seem like much, but that is 10 sec/mi faster than 2:00:00. Most importantly, that is more than a full minute per mile faster than my marathon pace from earlier this year and 59.5 seconds per mile faster than my 15k from just under a year ago. That is a BIG difference. That is a gargantuan difference!

Anyone who has run a long race (or just a long run) with any sort of accurate timing knows that your pace varies even if only slightly. To average 8:59, you have to run a mile under for every mile you run over, second-for-second. That means, I will very likely need to be uncomfortable for several miles. I can't simply just run easy for 13.1 and then say, "Well, I finished a half marathon." when I am done.

So it starts today! Today is the day that I start training my mind for my race. Today is the day I stop letting excuses and weakness enter my mind and train it to fight through the pain and the tired legs and burning lungs. The picture I am building in my mind is me finishing my race with nothing left. I know I am strong enough, fast enough, have put in enough miles, done enough intervals, trained through the hottest part of the summer. I will not jog, I will not just run, I will not just finish, I will RACE for 13.1 miles and when I am done I will have won.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Florida Fallen Heroes 5k

Today was the "Florida Fallen Heroes" 5k in Tallahasse. This was a late sign up for the wife and I. We were already planning a trip up here when we found out one of the wife's clan was doing this race. After wengot here, he mentioned that part of the race was trail. I had no ideaand had just assumed it was along the roads in the park.

The race site (Maclay Gardens State Park) is a very pretty (and somewhat hilly) park. The start/finish was at a parking lot near a lake with a nice picnic pavillion. Mrs. L and I met up with her cousin's hubby and after walking down to the start area, registering, and getting our shirts, I loosened up with a little jog up and down the last few hills on the course.

After a moment of silence and presentation of the colors, they had a nice rendition of the national anthem and we headed to the start. The course was a lollipop out from the main parking lot to the trail section loop and then back.

The start was kind of sudden. I think I had already started running purely on instinct before I realized someone had actually said "start". The start was a pretty good hill so I took it easy and settled in with what seemed like my pace group. I was running at a very easy pace, attacking the downhills and relaxing up. That kept me pretty steady in my group. Some would pass me on the ups and I would fly back by on the downs.

We ran out of pavement around 0.75 mi or so and so that's where I lost my trail virginity. Hit the first mile marker and I didn't have a watch so I yelled out to see if anyone had a time. "8 minutes" is what came back so I felt pretty good about that.

Most of the people around me were huffing and puffing so I stepped on the gas a bit for the second mile. This was pretty flat and the trail footing was good. I started reeling people in in spite of the narrow trail. I felt kind of bad passing the ones in fatigues and boots but tried to make up by shouting some attempted encouragement (Good job! Keep it up! I couldn't run in those boots!).

Mile 3 was back through the hilly road section. I had a few folks pass me up here but not knowing how I would do on the hills, I stuck with my strategy and tried to hang in with help from the downs. I knew the finish was a big downhill for probably 200m so I knew I would reel in some more huffers and puffers with my kick. That included a guy I passed while he walked up a hill only to have him pass me on the flat top and a (slightly) older guy who eeked by and put about 30m between us.

I turned the last corner (which happened to be the top of the last hill) and hit he jets. I don't remember the last time I ran that fast. I was hootin' and hollerin' as I passed the folks who had passed me on the hills (out of exertion, not gloating). Hill walker was one of the first and I counted them off and had gray hair (again, just slightly more than me) in my sights and really opened it up. My goal (having nohing to base it on) was 25:00. I edged out gray hair right before the finish (which earned me a "you dog!") and crossed at 24:45 (7:59 pace).

Catching my breath required more "Whooooo!"s and so I apologized to the volunteers and other finishers after I regained my composure. After giving gray hair a fist bump and a "good race" I headed over to turn in my time and grab some water. I got to the finish in time to pull out my phone and get video of Mrs. L and cuz's hubby - so I thought. Ends up phone was set for still pics. Got picture of each at the top of the hill (when I thought I started the video) and the clock after they finished (when I thought I stopped the video).

Wifey PRed big time! 31:06 missing 10:00 pace by 6 sec. Previous best was around 33 or 34 and last race was 38. So proud!!! Cuz hub PRed as well between us.

I think the best part was running without having to worry about extreme heat/humidity, nagging injury, or goal pace. Always love race days - the excitement, comeradery, and competition. This was a great cause, great location, good weather, and shared experience with family. Great way to do an "easy" 5k run on a Saturday morning!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Study in Form

My wife got a great picture of me at my last 5k. I mean it was a great picture that I happened to be in, not that I am bragging about how I look in the picture. However, I am going to brag about how I look in the picture. It was just a few seconsd into the race (maybe a minute or two). It was long enough for me to get into the groove but not long enough for me to pull away from the pack of slower runners and firmly cement myself in the middle of the pack. The sun was just coming up over the trees which made a beautiful lens flare right above my head.

The best part of the picture was what it captured in my form - the fact that it existed. I knew it was very different from how I used to run and I wanted to quantify it. So I went on a search through my pictures from the Disney marathon to find the same point in my stride. There were 22 pictures that showed my feet. I figured one of them would be at the same point or at least close. None. Zilch. Nada. So I decided to go to the video tape and that's why I figured out why I couldn't find that position in my stride - because it wasn't there.

I don't mean that there were no pictures, I mean that portion of my stride did not exist. In my 5k pic, I am in mid air (or close to it). My back foot had just toed off (or was just about to). Going frame-by-frame through my marathon stride, that never happened. Not even in the first few miles. By the time my I was toeing off, my toe was up, heel thrusting out in that characteristic heel-striking position, and preparing to hit the ground. The reason I couldn't find a picture of me in mid-air was because I was never in mid-air.

Now, to be fair, I was running the fastest I had ever run for any mile since I PRed my opening mile in about 6:50. This would not be my pace if I tried to run a marathon today. However, I also can't discount the massive change in how I run in a mere 6 months.

So, that makes the picture my wife took extra-great to me!

I Am No Longer a Beginner

I was reading the latest issue of "Runner's World" when I realized I wasn't a beginner any more. Only a few years removed from my c25k and anything titled "Run Your First..." is not for me. I was excited because I'm training for my first half and this issue was all about training for your first half. The only problem is it assumes you have never run that distance. Since I already did a full, I've done that distance 9 times and since the last one was exactly double you could say I've done 13.1 10 times in the past year. Since running 13.1 isn't an issue for me, I was hoping to find some pearls of wisdom for experienced runners running their first half. No dice!

I'm not saying I know everything I need to know about running. My shins, knees, and calves give me occasional reminders that that isn't the case. However, I know everything I didn't know before I started running. That may sound obvious, but there is a finite amount of knowledge every runner must gain before they can recognize their proverbial ass from a hole in the ground. I believe I have made that leap.

For me, now, running is about putting my knowledge into action. I have my core set of running values which I follow (somewhat religiously). Having had some past success with my specific running dogma makes it a little easier to keep going. Having every run planned for me makes it easy too. I just stick to the plan and I run faster. For the most part I have remained injury free (knock on wood).

So I know something now, which is more than nothing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Something, Something, Something, Something...Evidence!

WARNING: The following post comtains MATH! If these excerpts bore you, simply imagine the teacher from "Peanuts" is talking and move on. It gets better. I promise!

I am starting to understand the math behind running. Before I started playing golf, I was amazed when a friend instantly knew the par for a course after someone told him how many par 3s and 5s there were. Now that I have played some golf, I know that many courses are par 72 with 6 each par 3s, 4s, and 5s. 4x18=72 so as long as the 3s and 5s are equal you get 72. If there are more threes it is less than 72 etc.

Now I am starting to get that same mathematical sense about running. I was supposed to do 5x1000 repeats at a 7:28 pace this week. I figured the best way to do that (besides my uncanny inner running clock) would be to time 200m splits. So 7:28 is 32 sec under 8:00 so each lap would be 8 sec under 2 min and every 200 needed to be 4 sec under one. So my splits needed to be something:56, something:52, something:48, something:44, and something:40. Conveniently that got me to 4:40 per 1000 which is exactly what my little chart said as well. Not to mention that, even at that pace I could count backwards by 4s. There is a lot of math I CAN'T do wile I run (so I have learned) so this little bit of elementary school subtraction was just enough mental stimulation to keep me from realizing I was running more than 2.5 min per mile faster than my first 5k and only 10 sec per mile slower than my 5k PR pace.

Now all of this is evidence that that I am learning new math (the running variety) AND getting faster. My track work is paying off big time. I still don't think I have "unleashed the beast" within, but I have turned a corner for sure. What started out as some tinkering with form and desire to run faster has turned into an obsession with speed, "the plan" (I like to stick to the plan), and the science of running faster.

Now, being a running nerd in search of running ubernerd status, I know enough not to say that everyone should try to change their form. Hoverer, I do believe that everyone CAN improve their form. To use another golf analogy (and I promise this one won't be so boring), everyone tinkers a little bit wih their swing. By "tinker" I mean things like, "put a little more weight on the inside of your right foot" or "keep your right elbow in". These "swing thoughts" can help immensely (at least for a few shots until the beers and/or bloody maries start kicking in).

Running is no different. I have "stride thoughts" like "lean forward from the ankles up", "head steady", "wide shoulders/arms parallel", "knees up", "don't reach", "faster tempo", "more effort/push", "feet behind you", "smooth", "you're the f#cking man" get the picture. Now of course I don't think all these things at once. In the same way that that many thoughts would result in a recipe for disaster in golf, trying to do all of those things at the same time would guarantee that you would do none of them.

So based on my entirely unscientific sample size of one, I have proven that you can improve your form and in the process run faster easier.

For anyone who has stuck with me this long, you are probably wondring about the title of this post. If not, you recognized it from "Weeds" inthe episode where Uncle Andy joins the Army and his buddy gets hit in the chest with some kind of missile/drone shortly after they record each other lighting their farts on fire with their Army-issue cell phone/missile target.

The end.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Race Into Summer 5k

Saturday was a unseasonably cool morning for even early June in Florida. It was also the date of the local running club's annual fundraiser 5k. This was a target race for me. I did 1.5 rounds of Furman FIRST 5k training before I realized I needed to start training for my half marathon before this race would arrive. Going into the race I actually felt like the longer distance workouts would help me maintain pace and hopefully not bonk. I started out at a quick but (somewhat) relaxed pace and settled in behind the front pack but also kept some distance ahead of the next bunch.

The course was an out-and-back (a first for me since all of my prior races had been loops). It started at mile 0 on a paved trail that was marked every 0.5 miles. This meant that I had some pretty good pacing cues. Apparently I wasn't as relaxed as I thought because the volunteer at the 1 mile mark called out "6:45" just before I crossed. My actual time was probably closer to 6:50 which is still a personal best mile split by about 5 seconds.

So I took my foot off the gas a bit and hit the turnaround point at 10:52 and suddenly had hopes (although not overly rational ones) of finishing under 22:00. However, by 2.5 miles that opening 6:45 split came back to haunt me with a resounding "BONK!". I crossed the finish line at 22:37 - a personal record by over a minute from less than 2 months before.

I learned a few good lessons during this race:

  1. I start too fast. I did the same thing on my last race. I backed off more quickly that time since I had a GPS squawking at me, but this time I went by feel for the whole first mile. I guess it needs to feel slow.

  2. Training at longer distances helps. While I was doing training designed for 5k distance, only my long and tempo runs were over 3 miles. Now even my speed work is hitting 4-5 miles. This means I am pushing myself harder longer so keeping up the pace for 3.1 is easier.

  3. Changing my form has helped. I almost completely eliminated my heel striking and concentrated on cadence and body lean as my primary form thoughts for this race. I think I still have some conditioning to do on my upper legs to get used to this form, but it is clearly easier to run faster longer.

  4. At my current level, I was able to get huge gains based almost entirely on effort. While I did train hard for 2 months between these 2 races, I'm not convinced I am really over 20 sec per mile faster. Maybe 10-15. Maybe as little as 5. I don't know if I left anything on the table for this race so 22:00 will be the result of training. However 23:00 was as much guts as conditioning.

Overall it was a great, fun race. Seeing the leaders run past me in the opposite direction was new and interesting. The most satisfying part was running to my full (speed) potential for the first time in my running "career".

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Running Prowess?

So, this might be the most ridiculous thing to do, or maybe it is normal. It occurred to me that I don't have an official record of my official race times. Now I will.

DateRaceDistanceBib #AgeOverallGenderDivChip TimeGun TimePace
2/28/2009RBC SOAR to the Finish5k9053537 (of 109)8 (of 16)31:33.931:33.910:11
9/25/2010Miracle Miles15k71437759 (of 1716)454 of (749)67 (of 109)1:32:581:34:499:58.5
1/9/2011Walt Disney World Marathon26.2 mi12462374098 (of 13551)2892 (of 7273)573 (of 1305)4:27:354:46:2510:12.8
4/14/2011Corporate 5k5k23:457:38
6/11/2011ORC Race Into Summer 5k5k963725 (of 191)18 (of 95)6 [30-39]22:377:18
8/13/2011Florida Fallen Heroes 5k5k743743 (of 232)36 (of 123)3 (of 8)24:44.737:59
10/1/2011Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon13.1 mi242038952 (of 8254)641 (of 3041)129 (of 576)1:58:392:04:469:03
6/9/2012ORC Race Into Summer 5k5k723871 (of 232)6 (of 12)26:1326:138:26
9/22/2012Miracle Miles 15k15k111339622 (of 1679)391 (of 759)601:27:381:28:109:25
11/10/2012Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon13.1 mi73739838 (of 11,599)554 (of 3,933)109 (of 709)1:55:401:56:308:49
1/12/2013Disney Half Marathon13.1 mi42032391241 (of 23,126)977 (of 9,998)179 (of 1608)1:50:501:52:098:27
9/21/2013Miracle Miles 15k9.3 mi22140192 (of 1,761)139 (of 707)24 (of 103)1:15:031:15:138:03
10/27/2013Marine Corps Marathon26.2 mi16843402492 (of 23,526)1974 (of 13,537)327 (of 1,761)3:42:133:47:328:28
11/10/2013Baldwin Park Half Marathon13.1 mi1874037 (of 315)6 (of 31)1:43:107:52
11/27/2014Tallahassee Turkey Trot5kBib41818 (of 3865)30:1731:029:45
2/28/2015Best Damn Race Half Marathon13.1 mi252141154 (of 1000)98 (of 383)17 (of 57)1:52:39.61:52:50.68:37
3/5/2015Purple Pride 5k5kBib4175622:437:18
4/17/2016Disney Dark Side Half Marathon13.1 mi75242338289541:45:011:49:168:00

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do I Need Fixing?

Don't ask my wife that question! [rim shot] But seriously folks. . . I should be a good runner. I'm 6'1" and about 165 pounds. I've always been pretty athletic and somewhat fast/quick. Other than a bout of adolescent foot pain (which I now think was plantar fasciitis) that knocked me out of one soccer season, I have never had any issues running. It was just part of something I did while playing sports.

When I started running, I had a (possibly somewhat flawed) theory that basically had 2 parts. Part 1: Running efficiently means your energy is going forward and not up and down or side to side. Part 2: To run as fast as possible, every muscle (at least the ones in your legs) must be "engaged" in trying to achieve maximum speed. While there is probably some truth to both of these, I have started to learn that running fast and efficiently is much different when you are talking about a mile (or even a few miles) and longer distances (for me 10k+). Running efficiently means using the right muscles and using them in a way that they will last the whole distance.

So that is the source of my latest running conundrum. My apparent flaw in Part 1 is that by getting my energy moving forward, I was running very upright (too upright by popular convention) with had a very long stride (over-reaching) which caused me to heel strike. This was all part of my "plan" to roll my feet to keep my head nice and steady (like when I was in marching band only faster). My problem with part 2 was that I was giving each stride a little extra push forward off of my toe (when I had the energy to do so). The result was almost constant calf soreness and, when I was running longer distances, "runner's knee". I just assumed the calf soreness was a sign that I was building up the strength I needed and the runners knee was unavoidable due to my age and the mileage needed to train for marathon distance. The calf soreness wasn't too bad and usually went away after the first few strides of my run.

Now I "know" a little better. I know that heel striking can place extra strain on my joints. Along with the rolling action I was thinking was making me more efficient, was most likely slowing me down due to the deceleration during the heel strike and the lack of recoil from my achilles tendons sapped more speed and caused me to use more energy. I "know" this. I have bought into these aspects of running science as sound scientific theory with good physics behind it.

So here is my question, how much do I "fix"? I have switched to a shoe with a more natural sole alignment and have been working on landing on my midfoot. This is something I can do without making drastic changes to my form. However, I still tend to run more with my hip flexors than my quads (picture someone on a NordicTrak) and when I do engage my quads I feel way too "bouncy" and even though I think I am faster and it seems to take less energy, I still don't like all of that up-and-down movement. There has to be an in-between right? There must be a way for me to run the way I am comfortable (both physically and philosophically) and still be running "right", right?

For now, I am going to just keep putting in the work, trying to stay injury free, and let the form work itself out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Am I a running Cliff Claven?

"Well ya see Nahmy...the Kenyans practically invented tempah trainin'. Ya know that's really why they run so fast. Some people say it's the bay-ah feet, but it's the tempah trainin'." Is that what I sound like when I talk about running? I know I have only been running for a few years and I'm not an exercise physiologist, but I have read a few books and many articles in the past few years. That combined with my personal (albeit limited) experience has led me to believe in a few running absolutes. The first of these is that everything I first thought I knew about running was absolutely wrong.

In my high school PE class, we ran a mile every day to this day I don't remember if my best was 5:30 or 6:30. I just remember that I ran with 2 little twin brothers who were on the cross country team. They were running easy but still the fastest in the class. I was 6'1" and about 135 pounds and even though I wasn't super active in high school, I had played soccer for years and was still pretty quick. Now, 20 years later with a best magic mile just under 7:00, I think it was 6:30 but I might still tell you 5:30.

Anyway, one of the track coaches told me I had a good stride. This was most likely not true. I had a long stride and an easy gait, but I was swinging my legs like I was on a NordicTrack, pushing off with my toes, and heel striking. Basically I had converted my marching band "glide step" to a running version. From a distance it probably did look good. I looked relaxed, my head was hardly moving up and down at all, and I was going relatively fast.

Jump forward 20 years. I have now somehow run a marathon. Then I start reading some things about form - some articles specifically about it and other blurbs here and there. Then I go to my favorite running store planning on replacing my shoes. We do the TM video thing and I talk about how I'm trying to land more on my midfoot (which I had been doing somewhat successfully for my last few runs). We hit he sidewalk outside for a little instruction from the staff and I realize that I was a clueless, mustacioed, Bostonian, postal worker sitting on a bar stool thinking I knew everything about running.

Monday, May 23, 2011

More iPhone Woes

I had a great run this morning - just how great I will never know thanks to the folks from RunKeeper. I am an Ubernerd so I am all about my pace. I read "Run Less, Run Faster" and bought into the science. I try to hit my target paces within a few seconds. Some days are better than others. Today was my first day of my FIRST training for my first 1/2 marathon. My target pace was 7:35. I did 12 400m intervals pretty damn close to that pace. I know they were actually more than 400m because I timed them on my watch to keep track of my splits which were all about 2:00 or an 8:00 pace (even though my body and my iPhone said it was more like 7:30). In fact I decided to kick a little on my last interval and put in a 7:01.

So what is the problem? Everything was fine when I finished my run. Most of my splits looked great with a couple of GPS farts that I have become used to. Skip forward a few hours and I'm trying to log my data on DailyMile and everything is all jumbled up. The first few splits are different (and slower) and then it flips so my recoveries were fast and my intervals were slow. Obviously it tried to "correct" itself for making my intervals too long by recalculating everything. I would father have it tell me how far/fast I actually went as opposed to how fast I would have gone if I was running around a track and ignoring the woman's voice saying "next interval".

The good news is, my average pace even with slow 90 sec recoveries was 8:51. My target race pace is 8:50. I guess that means I can alternate hauling ass and jogging for 13.1 and be right on my target pace!

Friday, April 29, 2011


I love intervals. I hate intervals, but I love intervals. The same can be said for my iPhone. The two love/hate relationships collided today. The plan called for 5x800 at a 6:58 pace. As my wife will tell you, I don't like to deviate from the plan. She will also tell you I never plan for anything and have no sense of time. However running is clearly my exception. My last run was supposed to be 5 miles at 8:18. I did 8:19. I like to stick to the plan.

Today my first interval was too fast (as usual): 6:30 pace. The second one was going ok and I think my pace was pretty good. I have an app for that (and a fancy arm pouch for my phone since the first one didn't protect my first iPhone from my sweat). I tried to grab my phone and turn it on my arm so I could check my distance (something I do several times during each run) and suddenly I hear "Activity stopped". Shhhhiiiiit!!! I must have just hit the stop button. I fumble at my phone hoping I hit pause or that there is some kind of magical resume. Of course not. I am now walking and picking up my keys which fell to the ground when I opened up up my phone pouch. You see, normally the plastic front panel on the pouch makes it difficult to use the touch screen on the phone. Not today though! Not while I am hauling ass through downtown. I had no trouble hitting that stop button!

So now I reprogram my app to start on my next recovery and then do my last 3 800s. Of course this takes so long I really didn't need a recovery so now I am pissed that I am running a 1/4 mile that isn't on my plan. (I like to stick to the plan.) I finish my workout running the last 3 intervals averaging a 7:24 pace with not one of them under 7:20. I blame my phone.

It was still a beautiful day and a great run. I saw three baby swans during my warmup and went back to take some pictures after my run. I don't care how macho you are. Baby swans are, well, baby swans for cryin' out loud! They're the ugly duckling! (They were white and cute so the story is a hoax but still a good message).

I love intervals. I hate intervals, but I love intervals. The same can be said for my iPhone.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A few days ago if you said "BQ" you would have to had spotted me that you were talking about running before I would have come up with "Boston Qualifier". A few months ago if you asked me what the most prestigious marathon was I would say New York. What did I know. I can't say I'm not a runner, but I'm not a "runner". I have never run competitively and used to joke that I would only run if chased. Now my favorite t-shirt slogan is "my sport is your sport's punishment" and I am seriously considering trying to qualify for Boston. . .

. . or at least I was. It was just a few days ago when my wife issued the challenge: "You can do it. If I had any hope of being able to do it I would try. You have a chance of getting there. You should go for it!" (or something like that). I looked up the time and thought, "I might be able to get there. A 7:25 pace is just a little faster than my 5k pace. It would take some more training but I'm shooting for a sub-7:00 5k pace so that would make it possible, right?

Today I cracked open my latest issue of "Runner's World" and there it was: Boston mania is taking the world by storm. This years race was full within 9 hours of the start of registration. So it ends up I might be just another shmuck amidst an ever-growing throng of running crazies.

On top of that, my 3:15 qualifying time would drop to 3:10 in 2013. In 2014 I will be 40 and unless they tighten up agin it will drop back to 3:15. I saw that when I first looked up my time but it didn't really sink in just how inconvenient that is. I don't think I have time to qualify for 2012 and there is a BIG difference between 3:15 and 3:10.

Lost in all this is the fact that I have run exactly one marathon. . . in 4:27. "But that was different!" I now cry. It was a bucket list thing. I was just trying to finish. I had just recovered from all of my training injuries and ran my first 8:00 mile since highschool. Now I have done a 7:00 flat during my speed work and dip down in the sixes quite often for short bursts and live there on my shorter intervals. I read "Run Less, Run Faster" from cover to boring cover and now have the expertise of the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training guiding my training.

The funny thing about all this is that before today I thought I was embarking on an exciting quest. Now I feel a little jipped. It is like stumbling on a quiet little stretch of beach only to have a swarm of people come in with their umbrellas, paddle ball, and Coors Light. They might be really nice and a lot of fun and there for the same reason as you, but suddenly it isn't as special a place as you had imagined.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today's Run

I guess that is a misleading title, but this being the first post in my running blog I think it is somehow appropriate. I am a newbie but I definitely have the bug. I did a couch-to-5k program with my wife about 2 years ago. I've done a couple (2) more 5ks since then, a 15k, and the Disney marathon. Yes I am bragging. We did a 2-year couch-to-marathon program which consisted of floundering around at 5-10 miles a week then doing the Hal Higdon beginner program for Disney. It was brutal. Not the running (not that it was easy) but the time commitment. Our two year-old turned 3 just before the race and we have an 11 year-old with special needs. Running all those hours on top of full time jobs was insane. We did it though. I did 4:27 and she did 5:35. Scratch that off the bucket list.

So that brings us to now. I've been doing the Furman FIRST 5k program working on my speed. I am now a running nerd (I was already a band and computer nerd). For those of you not familiar with FIRST, it is a scientifically-designed ass kicking. Every run. Just 3 days a week, but ass kicking. Well, at least 2 of the 3. The long run is a welcome respite in comparison. The speed and tempo are brutal in a very exacting way. Those bastards at Furman know just how hard they can push you so you can finish the workouts but just barely.

So this leads me to my topic du jour: Today's run. 2 mi tempo at the "short" pace (5k + 20 sec). For me that's 7:48. At 8:00 I feel like I'm truckin'. 7:30 isn't last race pace. 7:48 in heat and humidity was uncomfortable. The heat is already getting brutal (and yes I have used the word "brutal" too much) here in Florida. I crossed the street a few times just to catch some shade. I had to push pretty hard the last quarter mike just to hit 7:55 for my second mile. My cooldown felt like a crawl.

Still...I can't wait for my next run!