Saturday, September 29, 2007

10 Mile Marathon Pace Run

10.07 miles, 1:14:43, 7:25 pace, Avg HR = 153, Max HR = 164

I woke up early to get this run in before my flight out. I'm spending a week in the Bahamas.

If the situation presents itself, I like to visit new places by foot. That being said, I walked along the beach from the Nassau airport to downtown Nassau in lieu of taking a cab.

9.28 miles, 2:41:36, 17:24 pace, Avg HR = 67, Max HR = 118

Friday, September 28, 2007

9/80 Friday Run

7.25 miles, 1:00:08, 8:18 pace, Avg HR=145, Max HR=161

After a good night's rest I hit the road for an hour. I didn't want to get too crazy with my speed because I have a 10 mile "marathon pace" run tomorrow.

8:57, 8:15, 8:49, 8:24, 7:47, 7:56, 8:07, 2:04 (8:16 pace)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another Rest Day

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided to take today off. I work a 9/80 schedule, which means I work 80 hours over 9 days, and get every other Friday off. I haven't been able to get away from work on my past few Fridays, but I'll be able to take off tomorrow.

Fridays are my normally scheduled rest days for running, but since I didn't run on Monday or Thursday, I'll probably hit the trail tomorrow. I think Sean wants us to take Friday off so we'll be up for our long runs. But we're only running 10 miles on Saturday (I never thought I'd say "only ten") after long runs of 16, 15 and 14. In other words, I think I'll be ok to go for a run tomorrow after I sleep in late.

The real news of the day was an "emergency" email I got saying that the Houston Marathon is now 90% full, and expected to be full by the end of the week. So, I signed up for my second marathon before I even ran my first. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kenyan Way Speed #7 -- What Goes Up Must Go Down

1600, 1MR, 1600, 5MR, 800, 1MR, 800, 1MR, 800, 1MR, 800
(or 2x1600 w/1MR, 5MR, 4x800 w/1MR)

It is easy to get spoiled with increasing success at the early stage of any activity when improvement can be seen each time. Start-up companies that see 100% growth year-over-year are impressive, but are they still growing (or turning a profit) at year 3,5,10? Excitement surrounds the latest, greatest pharmaceutical drug as it flies through subsequent rounds of early clinical trials, but will it ever be medically or commercially viable? And more to the point, setting new PRs (personal records) and hitting faster training splits each time out is encouraging, but does the exponential improvement continue forever? The answer is, of course, "no".

Today was one of those down days for me, after several weeks of continuous improvement. I'm trying to take this setback in stride and use it as motivation in my training, but I really failed today in my speed workout.

Goal for miles = 6:30, 1 minute rest, 6:30, 5 minutes rest
Actual = 6:23, 1:02 rest, 6:49 (already starting to fade), 5:01 rest

Goal for 800s = 3:00, 1 minute rest between
Actual = 3:34, 1:06 rest, 3:56, 1:00 rest, 4:09, 0:58 rest, 3:56

So I only hit my desired pace in one out of six segments. But the bigger story is that I felt absolutely drained for each of the 800s. My legs were tired, my heart rate was high, and my shirt was completely soaked with perspiration. In a word, I felt defeated.

I'm not sure why today was such a bad day. It could be due to the heavy workout on Saturday and Sunday (but it's not uncommon for me to do that). It could be the lack of sleep (although I'm used to that lately). It could be my diet (I've been slipping a tad in my endeavor to eat fresh, healthy foods, but I tend to slip about every third week so this isn't exactly new either).

Whatever the cause, I'm going to take tomorrow off to recouperate, refocus my efforts and make October a strong training month. I'm going to do my core exercises at least three times each week, and I'm going to make a point of getting enough rest and not missing the Kenyan Way hill and speed sessions. The marathon is right around the corner!

On an altogether different note, I am a great fan of public transportation. I walk to the train station and take the light rail to and from work every day. And today I took the bus to and from Memorial Park for Kenyan Way. It's a nice change of pace to take the bus to my destination, even if it's not always fast or practical.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday Rice Run

6.05 miles, 48:15, 7:58 pace, Avg HR = 149, Max HR = 164

After a long weekend without enough rest, and a moderately hard workout on Sunday night, I didn't manage to get up early enough to do the Kenyan Way hill session yesterday. Work kept me late, so I couldn't do the workout in the evening either. I guess it's all for the best, since I could use the rest day.

I usually don't have a pace or distance in mind when I run my Tuesday and Thursday runs because they are supposed to be run at a leisurely pace. I usually try to listen to my body and do an extra lap or pick up the pace if I'm feeling well, or back down if I'm not up to it. That being said, I pushed this one a bit harder than normal because I didn't run yesterday. It ended up being suprisingly difficult, and not typical of my Tuesday efforts. After a couple of miles I knew I was going to keep this one short and only make one lap around Rice.

8:05, 7:47, 8:03, 8:05, 8:00, 7:55

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yesterday's Recap and Today's Tri

9:07, 8:37, 8:37, 8:44, 8:51, 8:32, 8:13, 7:58, 7:49, 7:45, 7:22, 7:28, 7:39, 7:40, 7:34, 7:05
Avg pace = 8:03, Pace including water breaks = 8:20, Avg HR = 141, Max HR = 161 (84%)

I ran each of the last nine miles at less than 8 minutes. I'm still wary of determining a marathon goal because I'm intimidated by the distance and I haven't even proved to myself that I can finish 26.2 without walking. But as I stretch out the amount of time where I can maintain 8 minute miles, I'm gaining confidence that I can run an 8 minute pace the whole way for a 3:30 marathon.

Do you recall from yesterday when I mentioned the dog walker? I saw him at mile 10.3. Avg pace through 10.3 = 8:47, Avg pace after 10.3 = 7:35

This graph shows my half-mile times, which were mostly run as negative splits.

OK, I've analyzed that to death. On the opposite end of the analyzing spectrum is what I did today after I drove back from Baton Rouge. I wanted to go for a swim and then a stationary bike ride in the workout room of the apartment complex afterwards. While on the bike I decided to tack on a 3 mile run on the treadmill at the end. I don't use my watch during swimming because of waterproofing issues, and I can't use it inside because it needs a clear line of sight to the satellites in order for any of the GPS functionality to work. As a result I don't really have any data to analyze.

30 minutes swim
1 hour bike
23 minutes running (3 miles, 7:40 pace)

Some comments on each:
Swim -- I was a sub par (40th-50th percentile) competitive swimmer in high school. I wasn't good then, and I'm really bad now. Today I had to to opt for the breast stroke most of the time because I struggled with breathing while doing the Australian Crawl. The one bright spot is that I can still swim underwater for 25 meters without taking a breath. Yes, it's childish, but you have to do something to take the boredom out of swimming.
Bike -- I'm too chicken to bike on streets because of the people out there who drive like me. And the only thing remotely fun about biking in place is being able to watch television. Today's choice was Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately the Cowboys took the Bears to the woodshed. I felt like I was working my butt off, but my heart rate stayed remarkably low. Obviously I'm not much of a cyclist either. I think my swimming and biking ended up being the equilivent of what walking is to running. In other words, I don't think I got much out of it from a fitness perspective.
Run -- I forgot to adjust the incline, but I wasn't out there to set any records so I'm not too concerned. I picked it up the last half mile to about a 5:15 pace. That's probably not the smartest thing to do, but my legs felt fine and I would have quite immediately if I felt anything funny.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Easy 16 Miles

I don't know about you, but "Easy" and "16 Miles" aren't supposed to go together.

"Easy" is pressing the snooze at 4:50AM when the alarm clock goes off. Or turning the alarm off altogether. Or pulling it out of the wall and tossing it out of the window.

"Easy" is leisurely rolling out of bed at noon with your only plans being to make it to campus in time to tailgate for the LSU/South Carolina football game.

"Easy" is a drive over to Louies for a breakfast Hamburger and hashbrowns.

"Easy" is . . . well, easy. My sixteen miles was not.

Despite that, I had a promising long run today -- the longest I've ever run from a distance and time perspective. Julie and I kicked it off at the Baton Rouge beach around 5:30. She accompanied me for a lap of both lakes (appx 6.5 miles) and I finished up with another lap of both, followed with a lap of the larger lake.

I didn't have a goal pace in mind, but I was running against the clock since I had a busy day. Julie and I wanted to catch her cousin's cross country meet at 9:30. Kyle is a strong runner for LSU's cross country and track team. LSU destroyed the competition and Kyle finished the hilly 8K course in an incredible 28:51 (5:48 pace), placing 19th overall. Kyle is an honor roll student, an Eagle Scout, and obviously a gifted athlete. We are all proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his continued success on and off the course.

My accomplishments at the LSU lakes were several planes below the meet today, but I did manage to conquer some small adversity and "win" my own competition. First of all I concentrated on hydration since I've been running my long runs in a dehydrated state. I didn't get a dry mouth at all. By the time my mouth gets dry, I've already lost between 1.5 and 3 pounds of water through sweat and respiration. "Several research studies since the 1930s have observed that adults and children replace only 34 to 87 percent of the water lost as sweat, by drinking during exercise or labor in hot environments. The resulting dehydration is due to the fact that thirst is not perceived until a 1 to 2 percent body weight loss occurs. Interindividual differences, resulting in great voluntary dehydration in some individuals, have caused them to be named reluctant drinkers." I am a "reluctant" drinker, but today I drank early and often, and still managed to minimize the time spent at water breaks.

The result was obvious to me. I didn't fade at the later miles like I did last week, and in fact my last two miles were the fastest two I ran. I don't have any split or heart rate information because I haven't downloaded my watch yet, but here is what I remember from looking at real-time information during the run.

Mile 1-6 -- appx 8:30-8:40 pace
Mile 7-14 -- appx 8:00 pace
Mile 15-16 -- appx 7:45 pace

Overall pace appx 8:04. (I'll post more accurate time later.)

One other short comment: At about 10.3 miles I exchanged hellos with an older gentleman walking a dog. He told me "good pace", and for whatever reason, that made my run. At that moment I grinned from ear-to-ear, and his comment pushed me for the rest of the run. I won't use the word "easy", but it was certainly "easier" after getting that complement from a stranger. So thank you Mr. Dog Walker, I appreciate the encouragement.

One other note: I saw a friend (twice) toward the end of my run. Kevin's sister, Joanna, was looking strong during her run today. It's always nice to see friends while running.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One Hour

7.11 miles, 1:00:06, 8:27 pace, Avg HR = 137, Max HR = 157

I picked it up over the last two miles so I would be near the train station at the end of the hour run. I met Julie at BW3 in midtown after the run for some boneless wings and a beer. I'm such a sucker for the spicy garlic that I'm a stockholder.

8:59, 8:50, 9:04, 8:50, 8:48, 7:29, 7:17

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Watch

5.61 Miles, 38:40, 6:54 pace, Avg HR = 162, Max HR = 170

I used a function on my watch today that I seldom use . . . the virtual partner. But I'll digress a bit and explain the watch first.

First of all my wife is usually right, especially when I don't really want her to be right. She believes that my running took off when I purchased my Garmin 305, whereas I believe it has more to do with the joy of running, blah, blah. She's probably more right than I am, yet again.

You see, I'm an engineer at heart, and I like electronic gizmos and data analysis. The watch satiates those needs. It has a GPS, so I can track distance, pace, speed, number of laps, and any combination of those aspects over any interval of the run. After downloading the data to my computer, I can compare that run to any of the other runs I've ever done while wearing the watch. I can also overlay the route onto google maps or even google earth. But like an infomercial, there's still more! It interfaces with a heart rate strap so I can monitor my heart rate zones and beats per minute both during and after the run. And it has on-screen mapping, so I can use it to return to my starting point if I get lost during a run.

And if you call right now, I'll give you more functions! The aspect I used today is called a virtual partner, which you can program to pace you. It shows a stick-figure graphic of your competitor and tells you in real-time how far ahead (or behind) you are to "him". (My watch is male, but yours can be female if you want it to be.) So, in addition to being a cool electronic gadget which provides plenty of numbers to crunch, it also strikes a chord with my competitive nature -- which brings us to today's run. I missed Kenyan Way this morning (too tired) and this evening (work), but I did the workout at Memorial Park by myself. The goal was a 5 mile threshold run at a 6:51-7:01 pace. I had my doubts about completing at that pace, but I thought I'd stick it out for as long as I could before I had to slow down. I programmed my virtual partner to run at a 7 minute pace, and I wanted to keep him in sight as long as I could. So I started out a little quick to build up a lead on him which I expected to evaporate around mile three. In reality my competitive streak took over and I wasn't about to let him beat me. I worked my lead up to 400 feet by the end of the run, and finished the five miles 37 seconds before he did.

6:40, 6:58, 6:51, 6:54, 7:00, 4:17 (.61 miles for 7:01 pace)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three Loops Around Memorial

9.06 miles, 1:11:03, 7:50 pace, Avg HR = 152, Max HR = 176

If you would have told me one month ago that I'd be posting those splits over those distances, I wouldn't have believed you. But as sure as Memorial Park is a good place to run, it's a great place for a dose of humility. At that pace I was passed by several people, many of which I'll never be able to beat regardless of how hard or long I train. But beating everyone isn't my goal, so I don't let that bother me.

Julie joined me for the first lap, and we went to Mission Burrito afterwards for the best burrito in town.

(Negative splits almost the whole way)
8:29, 8:20, 8:07, 7:48, 7:41, 7:41, 7:32, 7:33, 7:27

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kenyan Way Hills #5 - 20 straight minutes

5.23 Miles, 46:21, Max HR = 171

The benefit to running hills is that you get the workout of a low-weight, high rep weightlifting workout, coupled with interval sprints. But since you're sprinting uphill, the impact on your legs is reduced since your legs don't have to come completely back down. Does that makes sense?

I read an article in the latest Runner's World that you should sprint at full speed up the hills for ten seconds, and walk down for recovery. This coincided with Sean's instructions for the day. In an unusual twist, we ran for 20 straight minutes as opposed to two 10 minute workouts with five minutes rest.

3.03 miles warmup
2.20 miles hills
Laps (two hills, up full speed, walk down, recovery jog after second hill)
1:57, 2:02, 1:59, 2:03, 2:11, 2:11, 2:11, 2:13, 2:09, 1:53

Saturday, September 15, 2007


5k, 23:40.5, 7:38 min/mile pace, Avg HR = 159, Max HR = 179

My race went well, given the earlier long run that day and the fact that I got a bad cramp right before the first mile marker. I pushed through it and used it as practice, knowing it will be more painful at miles 22-26 of the marathon, and considered that a small victory.

The real story is that my wife finished first place in her age division! Her official time was 23:23.4 and she placed fifth among all women runners. I am extremely proud of her!

quarter mile splits:
1:57 (7:48 pace) - thought I'd keep up with Julie, quickly found out otherwise
1:53 (7:32)
1:53 (7:32)
2:11 (8:44) - cramp, ouch!
2:09 (8:36)
1:56 (7:44) - cramp gone, still treating this like an easy jog
1:53 (7:32) - decided to push the pace to see what would happen
1:53 (7:32) - tried runner's world method of drinking water during race
1:50 (7:20)
1:45 (7:00) - saw a friend and got a spring in my step
1:52 (7:28)
1:49 (7:16) - finishing push
0:40 (.1 mile, 6:40 pace) - outsprinted a few people

Weekend Long Run -- 14 miles from Memorial to Home

14.05 miles, 1:56:21, 8:16 Pace, Avg HR = 145, Max HR = 157

I sometimes wonder if I'm crazy. Then I realize, "yes, of course I'm crazy!" Why else would I get up at 3:50 AM after a long week of work in order to run a 14 mile long run starting at 4:30 AM?

The reason is because I wanted to run a 5k race at 8AM with the rest of my Dynegy Running Club compatriots, and I had to get up that early in order to finish my scheduled long run in time. And yes, running a 5k after a long run is yet another example of how crazy I must be.

I ran this almost exclusively alone, after veering off from the Houston Fit group about two miles into the run. I was encouraged by the performance because I purposely minimized water breaks and the time spent during those breaks in order to simulate race conditions. My pace, including breaks, was 8:23.

But if I learned anything, it's that I'm not ready for the big time yet, because I had a hard time with miles 12 and 13. I can't imagine doing the 21 that my friends Tracy and Greg ran with Houston fit.

9:25 for 1.13 (8:20 pace) (hit lap button accidentally)
7:19 for .92 (7:57 pace)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Run Slow to Run Fast

6.78 miles, 55:02, 8:07 pace, Avg HR = 146, Max HR = 163

This was an easy run after the past two days of hard running. I heard a Kenyan Way coach say you have to run slow so you can run fast, which is a concise way to say that running too fast too often will wear your body down and you can't perform at your peak.

I picked up the pace at the end when Beyonce's Irreplaceable came across the MP3 player. Yes, I listen to her and it happens to be one of my favorite running songs. It's about 175-180 beats per minute, so it's easy to maintain a steady cadence in the optimal range while listening to the song.

9:02 for first 1.06 miles (8:31 pace)
5:24 for last .72 miles (7:30 pace)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kenyan Way Speed #6 - 1,3/4, 1/2, 1/4

Warm-up, 1 mile, 3/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile with 3 minutes rest between
Goal times: 6:09-6:15, 4:30-4:36, 2:56-3:00, 1:24-1:26
Actual times: 5:57 with 5:12 rest, 4:46 with 2:48 rest, 3:03 with 2:51 rest, 1:17
Max HR = 178

That's difficult to read, but basically I went out too fast on my mile and paid for it with an extended rest and a slower than targeted 3/4 and 1/2 mile. I recouped by the end and ran a pretty fast 1/4 mile. It's difficult to maintain the target pace for two reasons: 1) It's hard to remember what the targets are when you're doing your best to put one foot in front of the other and 2) I'm not good at knowing what pace I'm running while I'm actually running it.

But overall I'm happy with the run because I finished it, and because I had a strong mile time. I've thought about my post claiming I could run a 5:45 mile, and wondered if I'm just overestimating my ability. But 5:57 isn't too far away, and I wasn't running all-out in order to save something for the rest of my speed work. I still think I can do it under the right conditions.

During a break between runs I saw the Power in Motion group running an Indian run. (Strangely enough, the only hyperlink I could find for Indian run was from the urban dictionary.) After my Kenyan Way workout I went to meet up with the PIM group for some hellos. I was very pleased to see Stephanie and Joe continuing to dedicate their time sharing their passion with new runners. If not for them I'd almost certainly be 35 pounds heavier and watching television this very moment instead of writing a blog entry about running.

As an aside, if you felt any connection with my post regarding different mindsets at different paces, you might be interested in an article I ran across in the latest copy of Runner's World. If you have a moment to read the article ("Use Your Mind to Reach Your Running Goals"), it describes the idea I tried to present, but with more eloquence and scientific integrity. They described the two mindsets as "association" (tuning in) and "disassociation" (tuning out). But they extended the concept to training and racing strategies instead of just pace, like I described.

I am 100% positive that I'll never come up with a unique concept related to running. Individuals before me have already exhausted the spectrum of ideas about running, including everything from Zen Running to hard core Ironman training. Those people are better runners than me, though they may be faster or slower, because they've literally been down that road. But I still get enjoyment out of documenting my epiphanies, although they are old news to many, because it highlights and enhances the experience for me. Right now my running is like seeing snow for the first time, or the first day of school, or when you learned how to drive. Those kinds of memories are almost universal among us. But rather than toss them aside as mundane details, we hold onto them and take time to re-live those moments throughout our lives. Putting my experiences on "paper" is a way to help me expound on the raw thoughts that pop into my head about running and to document them for my future consumption. And if by some slim chance it's entertaining or even minutely motivating to you, then it's more than I could ever hope to accomplish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mind over Matter

Treadmill: 8 miles, 1:03:50, 7:59 pace, 1.5% incline, Avg HR = 144, Max HR = 150

Based on my experience, I believe there are four parts to conditioning for running. A) Muscles, B) Joints, C) Cardiothoracic, and D) Psyche.

I am going to touch on all four of those areas at some point, but today I will discus the psyche. Running is no different than most difficult tasks in life. No amount of physical preparation can substitute for the right frame of mind. Unbelievable things can happen if you have confidence in yourself and condition your mind to believe that success is attainable.

When I first started running six months ago I almost lost the battle in my mind. Even though my body was physically able to complete a slow three mile run, my mind was stretched to the limit and I doubted my ability to keep moving. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my wife, coupled with my innate stubbornness, I stuck with it and the second week was much easier. I didn't suddenly become "fit" in one week, but I did gain confidence by knowing that I could do it.

I recall an old childhood joke about a boy who thinks he can eat a whole watermelon, but says he has to run home for a few minutes before he can make the bet. After ten minutes he comes back, makes his wager and eats the entire watermelon. His friend pays up, and asks him why he had to go home first. The watermelon eater says that he didn't know if he could eat the whole thing, so he had to go home and find out by eating one first.

There are times in life that we are presented with challenges that exceed the limitations of our training. It's up to the psyche to bridge that gap between the end of our experience and the task in front of us. Dallas White Rock Marathon is that task for me. I'll never run 26.2 miles during training. And even if I did, I'd never run it at race pace. The first time I push myself to those limits will be on game day. It's just not feasible for me to eat my practice watermelon, figuratively speaking, because the additional wear and tear on the body would physically set me back and ultimately impair my performance.

Running long runs, hitting goals for speed sessions, attacking the hills -- all of these are designed as much for the mind as the body. Over the past two weeks I've started to gain the confidence that I can do a good job in Dallas. I think the critical step was my 15 mile run, and my ability to maintain several sub-8 minute miles. But equally as important is the lesson I learned that first week of running--that I'm able to fight through the mental barriers attempting to hold me back. I'm physically not there yet, buy my psyche is where it needs to be to succeed.


8:00, 8:04, 8:01, 7:57, 7:55, 7:58, 7:58, 7:57

It was great to run today since I took two unscheduled days off on Sunday (travelling and recouping) and Monday (worked late). I toyed with tacking on an additional two miles to make up for some lost time, but I noticed my IT band tightening up and I remembered all of the good advice that I've read and heard about not trying to making up the mileage from a missed day. I don't want to risk an injury, so I saved it for another day. Tomorrow's speed session should be quite a challenge.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Totals for Saturday's Long Run(s)

Run 1 = 8.56 Miles, 1:10:34, 8:14 Pace, Avg HR = 143, Max HR = 151
(8 minute break between runs)
Run 2 = 6.44 Miles, 50:20, 7:48 Pace, Avg HR = 151, Max HR = 171

15.0 Miles, 2:00:54, 8:03 pace

I'm happy with the effort, but some critical questions remain:
1) Will I be able to maintain that pace (and hopefully a bit faster) over 3.5 hours?
2) Will I be able to maintain that pace without stopping my watch for water breaks like I do on these training runs?

Thankfully I don't need to answer those questions right now. I have exactly 90 days until the White Rock Marathon, and I have a lot of opportunity to build endurance before then.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Weekly Totals and Upcoming Schedule

Last 7 days = 44 miles, 5 days of running

Monday - Hills with Kenyan Way
Tuesday - Easy Run, about an hour
Wednesday - Speed Work with Kenyan Way
Thursday - Easy Run, about an hour or an hour and a half
Friday - Rest (might hit bike or pool)
Saturday - Long Run (distance and pace TBD)

A Whirlwind Weekend

First some housekeeping notes:

1) Congratulations to Kevin for completing the CajunMan Triathlon in an impressive 2 hours and 56 seconds (unofficial time.)
2) A grand thank-you to the Fighting Tigers of LSU for putting on quite a show on Saturday night in Death Valley against Virginia Tech (48-7). The first home game of the year is always exciting, but throw in a top-ten opponent and an 8:15 PM kickoff, and the stage was set for a party. It was one of the best days I've had in quite some time.

As scheduled, I took a rest day on Friday and physically prepared for my fourteen mile long run on Saturday morning. Friday's lunch and dinner included a carbohydrate load, and I did my best to drink water all day long so I wouldn't suffer from hydration issues like I did on Thursday.

The mental preparation was more difficult. My major obstacles were distance, sleep and logistics. Distance -- I haven't run this far before, so I had some self-doubt about completing it in strong form. Sleep -- this week has been horrendous on my sleep, but the problems would compound since I would be arriving in Baton Rouge after midnight and running less than six hours later. Logistics -- I wanted to join the Varsity Sports tempo run at 7:30 AM, but I had to figure out a way to get in about 8 miles beforehand since they were only scheduled for 6.6.

I was pleased with my run. I ran about 8.5 at about 8:15, took an 8 minute break, and ran about 6.4 at about 7:49 with the Varsity Sports group. The Varsity group had a "pickup" scheduled to get the heart rate going, but I thought I responded well by posting a 7:14 mile somewhere in the middle of the run. Running faster splits at the end of a long run is supposed to simulate the fatigue that sets in at longer distances.

That being said, it took a lot out of me . . . probably too much . . . so I didn't do anything at all today. There is a muscle in my left leg that's particularly sore, so I wanted to give it a break. But after watching Kevin's swim/bike/run, I thought of hitting the exercise bike after my trip back to Houston. Sunday night football put an end to that idea.

Motionbased is down again. I wish this wasn't a recurring theme, but the price is right (free) so I'll limit my complaints. Regardless, I post more exact times/distances when they get their act together.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kelvin's Upcoming Tri

9.1 miles, 1:16:38, 8:25 pace, Avg HR = 154, Max HR = 169

I’d like to call a bit of attention to a friend. His name is Kevin Smith, also known as Kelvin, and he is a runner. Kevin was the president of my fraternity at LSU, and by all accounts he is a natural leader. In addition to his leadership qualities, he’s a good person. He’s the kind of man you want your sons to be and your daughters to marry. He inspires you to be a better person.

I ran the best race of my short running career with Kevin at my side, on 4/28/2007. Courir de Festival is an annual 5K associated with Festival International in Lafayette. The festival celebrates Louisiana’s Cajun Culture, as well as other cultures across the world. Kevin got off to an early lead, but was in sight as I crossed the first mile marker at 7:07. I think I probably caught up to him at about mile 1.75, and he offered a hearty “hello”. I thought it would be a quick hello/goodbye, but Kevin picked up his pace and stuck by my side the rest of the way.

We hit mile 2 at about 14:42 (7:40), and cranked up the speed a bit at mile 2.5. At this point I was thinking that I could drop Kevin with a strong kick at the end. Kevin carries a couple more pounds around than I do, so I was confident I could get some separation during the home stretch. The only question was when I would begin my kick. Kevin suggested the church, and I returned with an affirmative grunt, if indeed I was able to respond at all. We completed mile 3 with a time of 22:10 (7:28) and the footrace began.

Much to my surprise, I couldn't shake Kevin. But he didn't know that I was saving another gear for the last 50 yards. What I didn't know is that he had one also, and out-kicked me at the end by less than a half second. My time: 23:04.8; His time: 23:04.4.

At the time this race was my PR (personal record), and I exceeded my goal by almost a minute. I consider this my best race because I performed at a level higher than I ever expected. I was able to overcome the urge to succumb to the pain and slow down, and I left everything on the course. My heart rate averaged 162 (85%) and I set the mark for my highest heart rate ever recorded at 191. I ran 66% of the race in zone 5, which is 90+% of the max heart rate. Kevin pushed me to excel through his words and by example, just as he always has.

Kevin is running the Cajun Man Triathlon in Lafayette, LA on Sunday, September 9, and Julie and I will be there to cheer him on. Good luck, Kevin!

Today's run was one of the toughest runs I've ever done, despite the relatively easy pace. The temperature was higher than normal, but I think my problem was dehydration. I slowed dramatically with about 2.5 miles to go, and couldn't pick the pace back up. I started cramping back at the apartment, so I rehydrated and took a vitamin. I'll make sure that doesn't happen again.

8:40, 8:15, 8:10, 8:13, 8:16, 8:26, 8:28, 8:32, 9:02

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kenyan Way Speed #5 - 8x400 w/ 90 SR

8x400 w/ 30 SR means I ran 400 meters eight times, with a 90 second rest between reps.

Goal time:

My times:
1:31, 1:23, 1:22, 1:22, 1:22, 1:23, 1:21, 1:17

Max HR = 176

I showed up at Memorial Park today for my 400s, and I found two guys from my long run training group at the staring line. We had the same target in mind (1:30), so I asked if I could draft off of them. Little did I know my rabbit friends were feeling good that day. I followed right behind them through the first seven, and they told me to bring it home on the last leg. A combination of inexperience setting pace and the pressure of leading these veteran marathoners led me to an "out of spec" last 400 of 1:17. This equates to approximately a 5:10/mi pace.

Of course I can't run that fast for an entire mile, but I think it is within reason that I can hit 5:15 at some point in the future. I MIGHT be able to run a 5:30 mile right now, and I'm positive I can run a 5:45 mile now even though I haven't attempted the feat.

I've been told that speed matters for marathons, but I can't figure out the connection. It seems that endurance carries you 26 miles and perhaps speed will carry you the remaining .2 miles. But I believe what I'm being told because it comes from dozens of people with hundreds of marathons under their collective belts. For an argument in the speed category, check out this post about Yasso 800s from Cory. I first heard about Yasso 800s from Cory, and read some more about in this article from Runner's World.

The goal of the Yassos is to run 10x800m at the fastest pace you can maintain. Whatever that time is, multiply it by 60 and you get your marathon time. So a 3 minute and 30 second 800 m equates to a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon. I should try to do that workout some time in the future to get an idea of a good marathon goal.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Neighborhood Run in Lieu of Kenyan Way Hills

6.65 Miles, 55:02, 8:16 pace, Avg HR = 141, Max HR = 155

A combination of the rain and Labor Day all but cancelled Kenyan Way today, so naturally Julie and I went for some ice cream instead. If you're ever in Houston (or Austin), you should visit Amy's Ice Cream. Hank's Ice Cream is a very close second in my book.

After a cup of Maple Sugar Bourbon Walnut I was on my way to run an errand of sorts. I took a leisurely bike ride to drop off Julie's bicycle at MD Anderson so she can be a bit more mobile during her lunch breaks. After I locked up the bike I ran from the hospital down Holcombe Boulevard with no particular route in mind. These aimless jaunts can be liberating, as it gives me a chance to view my neighborhood at a slower pace than the breakneck speed that I normally drive.

I ended up on what is conventionally considered the "wrong side of the tracks", but you could have fooled me based on the pocket of really nice houses I found along Macgregor. If anyone has a few hundred thousand dollars extra to swing my direction, I certainly wouldn't mind living in that neighborhood.

I didn't intend to run so far, but that's the unintended consequence of not mapping out a route beforehand. I didn't get "lost", but I certainly didn't have a good concept between what would be a four mile run versus what would be a six mile run. All in all it was a great experience, though, because I felt great the entire run as evidenced by my low heart rate. But I need to keep a close eye on my calves, because they are sore after 25 miles in three days.

I feel compelled to discuss another casual observation that I never would have understood before I started running. There is a physiological and psychological gulf between the 8:16 pace I ran today and the sub-8 pace I ran yesterday. Taking an extra half minute to complete each mile frees my mind to observe my surroundings, contemplate current events in my life, and reflect upon how well things are for me. At faster paces my mind narrows to animal instincts of survival and competition. Both mentalities have their place in our lives . . . in proper doses.

My selfless wife offered to drive back to Houston today while I read a book about the life of George Sheehan. The name of the book was Did I Win?: A Farewell to George Sheehan. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend this particular book ABOUT Dr. Sheehan, I'm certainly excited about reading some of the books he wrote. Dr. Sheehan was an early adopter of distance running, and wrote extensively on the subject of understanding your body, mind and soul through running. Perhaps he would have been proud of my elementary revelation today regarding the different mindsets at different paces.

8:43, 8:26, 8:22, 8:14, 8:16, 8:01, 4:54 (7:54 pace)

Totals for the Week

This week's total is 36 miles, including the 7.4 miles I ran on the treadmill on Tuesday. As you probably guessed, my GPS watch doesn't register movement when I'm stationary. I need a foot pod adapter for that functionality.

Updated Times for Club South Run

8.34 miles, 1:06:06, 7:56 pace, Avg HR = 135, Max HR = 162
1/2 miles splits:
4:07 (8:29)
3:53 (7:48)
3:50 (7:49)
3:55 (7:58)
3:53 (7:46)
4:23 (8:14)
3:16 (7:52)
3:51 (7:50)
2:20 (6:51 pace)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Run with Baton Rouge Club South Runners

8.34 miles, 1:06:13, 7:56 Pace (approximates**)

Typically I've been using Sundays as a very easy day to recover from my long runs on Saturday. But today, being in Baton Rouge, I decided to join the Club South Runners for their regularly scheduled Sunday Run. I had no idea what the distance or pace would be, but I was ready for a long-ish run since I felt great. I showed up at the tiger cage at 6:45 AM hoping the website was accurate and that I wouldn't be the only runner there.

I need to take a slight detour at this point to discuss the phrase "tiger cage" for those of you who never lived in Baton Rouge. The tiger cage is the official residence of Mike the Tiger, the mascot of LSU. It's nestled between Death Valley (the football stadium) and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (the basketball arena). Unfortunately Mike V passed away in May, and we are currently without a live mascot. But excitement currently pervades the city as its newest resident, Roscoe, moved into the tiger cage yesterday. If all goes well, he will be initiated as Mike VI in a matter of days.

That being said, the tiger cage has been the meeting spot for this group of runners for quite a few years. It was lagniappe for me that I got an early morning, semi-private audience with Roscoe. Thousands will visit him over the Labor Day weekend.

The run was great. The weather relented (appx 75), the group was very receptive to a new face (me), and the course was beautiful (LSU Lakes). We stared out on a warm-up pace, but quickly ramped up to sub 8 minute speed. I wasn't surprised by the speed, based on the appearance of my fellow runners. I was the youngest in the group, which ranged up to 62 years old. But a curious paradox exists among runners, in that the older guys often run the fastest. This doesn't necessarily apply at an elite level, but among recreational runners the older guys tend to do quite well because running is usually a lifelong endeavor for them.

Julie and her sister have always told me that the Baton Rouge running community is a closely-knit yet welcoming group, and today's experience certainly confirmed that. I'm hoping to do my Saturday long run with them next week since I'll be in BR yet again for LSU's home opener against Virginia Tech.

**Motionbased, the Garmin website I used to upload my runs, is currently down, so I'll post the quantitative data later.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Kenyan Way Long Run #4 - Progressive 10 Miles

9.91 miles, 1:18:37, 7:55 Pace, Avg HR = 143, Max HR = 171

The mission today was an out and back 10 mile progressive run, meaning that each mile is supposed to be run progressively faster. It's not too hard to do over three or four or five miles, but anything over that and it gets difficult to maintain the effort. For the most part I was successful today. Check out the route at

The course runs through River Oaks which must be one of the nicest neighborhoods in the United States. I used my weekly joke about half way through the run and pointed to a very large house and told my surrounding running partners that I was going to call it a day since my house was right there. It's not that funny, but I can't get enough of it. Pretty soon I'm going to have to switch groups so I have a fresh audience.

I had my doubts about keeping up with the group this week. Even though I'm in pretty good shape, almost all 20 of the runners in the 3:15 marathon pace group are better athletes than me, and all are more experienced. So it came as no surprise when I started to slip back about 20 feet at mile six. I spotted the water stop ahead, and I figured I could catch up and try to stick it out with them as long as possible. We started out together after the 30 second break, and I started to slip again around mile 7.5. But then I noticed I passed the pacer for the group, and I asked him if he was going to go ahead and level off the pace for the remainder of the run. He jokingly told me it was every man for himself, and he was in survival mode for the rest of the run. I had a choice to make about trying to keep up with the bulk of the group, or running with the pacer. I think I made the right choice and pushed ahead.

One by one I passed people in my group until there were only four ahead of me. I ended up passing one other runner and finished about 10 seconds behind the leader in fourth place. I know it wasn't a race, and I know that competition is supposed to be within yourself, but as a new runner I like to compare myself to my peers in order to monitor my progress. As you may recall from an earlier post, just two weeks ago I couldn't keep up with this group, and this week I finished among the top.

10:10, 8:57, 8:22, 8:26, 7:59, 7:20, 7:04, 7:03, 6:50, 6:26 for .91 (7:04 pace)

I wanted to run that last mile faster, but it started raining and the last leg is through puddles, grass and mud, so it wasn't in the cards today. I recouped quickly, and even contemplated another three miles once I got home, but I'm taking a road trip today and decided to forgo the additional miles.

26% Heart Rate Zone 2, 42% zone 3, 30% zone 4. I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't hit zone 5 and I wanted to run a blazingly fast last mile, but it's probably for the best that I didn't try anything crazy in the rain/mud. There's always another run.

I'm ready for some longer runs (12-18 miles) to see if I can maintain an 8:00 pace. I'll dedicate another post to my marathon "goal" time, but as a reference 8:00 minute miles = 3:30 marathon.