Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas Independence Relay -- Intro

I will be running the Texas Independence Relay along with eleven of my teammates starting tomorrow morning. You can view information regarding the 203.67 mile relay race at

I am supremely confident.
Because we’ll win? No – We won’t.
Because I’ll run my best race ever? No – I won’t.
I am confident because I know my teammates and I will accomplish quite a feat by completing such a significant challenge.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I tend to run in fear. Fear that I’ll slow down, fear that I’ll miss my target time, fear that I’ll get hurt, fear that I’ll be humbled by the challenge, fear that this run won't be faster than the last, fear that I've reached my limit and will never improve, fear that I’ll finish the race and never want to run again.

Being a team member has not always come naturally for me. I was always the guy who wanted to do the whole project because I didn’t want to depend on others. I wanted to run the show because I thought I was the most capable. I wanted to be the beginning and the end. Yes . . . that’s very self-centered. It probably has its roots as an only child for four years, and eventually the oldest of four children. It probably also has a bit to do with my lifelong desire to be self-sufficient so that I never had to be a financial drain on anybody. Looking past that bad attitude, perhaps you can understand my fear of failure. In essence, I’m describing going through life without a safety net.

What changed? For one thing I grew up. Life’s experiences have taught me to trust more. I’m fortunate because it works the other way for most other people. But more than maturity, I place credit for my positive change on my marriage. It opened me up to the foreign concept of depending upon another person. And as the door opened, I realized it’s ok (and even good) to depend on others. It’s one of the innumerable blessings I’ve received from knowing Julie.

So I’m confident regarding my team’s task. Tomorrow I will run without fear. I have my teammates to carry me if I fall, and I’m willing to do the same for them.

(No running today . . . hit it pretty hard last night and felt a small knee pain, so I turned off the alarm clock when it tried to trick me into going to my 5:30 AM hill workout. I’ll be blogging from the road, so check it out.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five Around the Heights

5.15 miles, 38:19, 7:26 pace, Max HR = 157ish, Avg HR = 148

I waited until Julie went to sleep and then hit the neighborhood route. Although I've gone on about this before, I still feel the need to say that I'm quite pleased with the running accommodations around here. In the museum district I had Hermann Park and Rice within a short distance of me, so I was worried the Heights wouldn't be worthy of comparison to my old place. On the contrary, I really enjoy running the trail at Stude Park. A warmup to the trail, followed by two laps along the slight rolling hills of the trail, finishing with a retrun trip home yields about five miles. If I want to get up to ten then I take that route and then take White Oak over to Heights Boulevard and follow that to 20th street, and then back to 9th (with a pass by All Saints Catholic Church) before crossing Studemont and heading to my doorstep). Any longer, which I haven't done around my neighborhood yet, is also possible. I can take Studemont or Heights Boulevard south to Buffalo Bayou and run near marathon distances. This is all a long, boring way of saying that I probably have it better now than before.

Since I got my phone fixed I've usually been running while listening to podcasts. Today I left it behind and ran faster and easier than I have in recent memory (perhaps ever.) My heart rate stayed relatively low and my breathing was easy during the whole run. But I'm not implying that it's due to the absence of an ipod. It's probably because I've run limited mileage this week as compared to normal. Sure, the miles were hard, but I guess it's easier for me to recover from short, intense workouts than longer low-intensity runs.

I realize that I've been rambling to this point, but I want to get two quick things across before hitting bed.

1) Dave Wilkinson's results are now posted at Congratulations, Young Dave, as he is known by the 15th Street Flyers, his running group!

2) I'll be running the Texas Independence Relay this weekend and attempting to wirelessly blog a series of short, random thoughts along the way. I ask in advance that you please pardon the typos.

7:42, 7:31, 7:29, 7:15, 7:16, 1:02 for .15 miles (6:53 pace)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will's Hills - 2- Will's Hills again plus evening lap at Memorial

Bike Ride to
Short Warm up
Hill Workout, 2.78 miles, 27:47, 9:59 pace (ugh!), Max HR = 168, Avg HR = 154
Bike Ride from

3.02 Miles, 23:32, 7:46 pace, Max HR = 152, Avg HR = 144, Cadence = 89

Already it's been a tough few days. Let's recap:
Saturday AM - 5 Mile Race
Sunday AM - 10 Mile Run
Monday AM - Hills
Tuesday PM - Speed Workout
Wednesday AM - Hills
Wednesday PM - 3 Miles at Memorial Park

Despite the low mileage, I'm beat. I need to decide how I'm going to balance the new hill workouts and speed workouts with distance. I'd still like to carry 40-50 miles per week as an average, but I won't be able to do that feeling the way I do right now.

The hill workout was great. I started out in the back of the pack but worked my way up. I took the downhills faster, mimicking what others there do. I can feel the burn in the quads when I do that. Since my legs appear to be physically underdeveloped in the front as compared to the back, my guess is that it's a good thing for me to run down the hills to build muscle balance.

Plus, and this is preliminary, I might be running the Ogden Marathon in May with Cory. If I do, I'll need to build up my quads since the marathon is downhill the whole way and that really pounds the quadriceps. More details on that marathon later.

Congratulations to Dave for completing the Mardi Gras Marathon last weekend! Dave, I wish I could link to your results, but since this race was run in Louisiana then we can't expect online results any time soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rice Track - 1 - Back on Speed Work Again

Warm Up
10x300 with 45 seconds rest, 5 minutes rest, 1x800, Max HR = 173 (91% max)Warm Down

Shon has been talking to me about running with his group at the Rice University track for quite some time. I finally went with him today to do my first training on a real track and I really enjoyed it.

The coach's name is Jon Warren, the coach for the Rice track and cross country team. He personalizes training plans for his athletes, which includes regular joes like me, all-stars like Brett Riley, and of course Division I athletes at a competitive university. I see this as the fourth major step in my training:
1) Joining PIM from a sedentary lifestyle
2) Joining Kenyan Way summer session for "easy" maintenance workouts (low mileage)
3) Joining Kenyan Way marathon program with "hard" workouts and long mileage
4) Joining Jon Warren's group

I ran today's workout cautiously, as I did the first workouts of each of my prior major steps. Let's be honest -- by "cautiously" I mean scared. I was afraid to blow out my splits and collapse. But when I finished, it was a tremendous confidence boost knowing I could hang with the crew. But, even at that, I know my place. I'll never be as good as the top tier of runners, who made me feel as though I was standing still as they blew past me. It was genuinely an honor to be on the same track with them. I recognized many faces as those who are finishing in the top 10% of the local races.

Some notes:
The wind was crazy today. The Garmin booked it at an average of 20.7MPH at the airport. I don't think it was that strong at Rice, but you could certainly feel the effect when rounding the track and getting punched in the mouth by the headwind.
For the most part my 300s were run increasingly faster.
I forgot to hit stop on one 300, hence the "user error" referenced below.
My 800 time was a bit disappointing because I was hoping to hit 2:40-2:45 since that was what Shon's target and I was shadowing him. But a quick review of my prior 800s tells me that it's around 5-10 seconds faster than I've ever run an 800 before. Hmmm . . . I guess I don't need to be too disappointed after all.

? - user error
(average = 0:59.70)

2:47.55 = 1:21.57 + 1:25.98

Monday, February 25, 2008

Will's Hills - 1- Back on the Hills Again

Bicyle Ride to Park to Warm Up
Warm Up
Hills, 2.31 miles, 23:59, 10:22 pace, Max HR = 168, Avg HR = 156 (77% in Zone 4)
Bicyle Ride Home to Warm Down

Tom Radosevich, a coach from Power in Motion, told me about a group called Will's Hills that meets THREE! times per week to run hills. I haven't had a hill workout since before the Houston marathon(and only a few since before the Dallas marathon back in December), so I was anxious to try it. It starts at 5:30 AM, and these hills were more challenging than the Kenyan Way hills.

This workout kicked my butt. I was one of the slowest ones there. I'm not sure if it's because I'm out of shape, they're in great shape, I'm tired from a long run yesterday and a race the day before, or because my knee bothered me just a bit today. I'm inclined to go with the second -- they're in great shape. At Kenyan Way I was often among the top two or three runners, but I'd lap people who were walking and talking. If you're talking during a high intensity workout, then you're not achieving your target zone.

I'm excited about the possibility of joining them once or twice a week. Since it starts at 5:30AM I'll never have to worry about being late to work. I enjoyed my bike ride over to the park and bike ride back home. That's something I couldn't have done when I lived in the Museum District.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fatige Run

10.15 miles, 1:18:17, 7:42 pace, Max HR = 157, Avg HR = 148 (77% Max), no cadence

In an attempt to ramp up my mileage, I hit the road today despite being sore and tired from yesterday's run. It was difficult, and I can't remember being this fatigured during a run in quite some time (marathons excluded.)

I usually like to rotate my shoes, but ever since I purchased my foot pod for cadence measurements, I've run in the same pair every day. My one complaint about the foot pod is that it laces into the shoes, so you have to unlace it in order to switch shoes. Since I've put some hard miles in the past few days, I decided to rotate out the shoes and forego cadence measurements. I ran in the very first shoes I started running in with PIM . . . Asics 2120. I've purchased three pairs of Brooks since then (ok) and one pair of cheap Mizunos (terrible). The Brooks and Mizunos purchases were based on pricing. If I had any sense at all I never would have left the Asics because they fit my feet perfectly and feel great after hundreds of miles.

The high temperature during my run was 75 degrees, which is dreamy compared to summer running in Houston. But as I'm approaching my second summer of running I'm dreading the oncoming heat. In other words, it was very hot over the past few miles.

I maintained a very steady pace the whole time. My average pace was 7:42, and my plus/minus two sigma deviation produced a band of 26 seconds. So 97.7% of my miles would have been at 7:42 plus or minus 13 seconds, if this z chart is correct. My boundaries get even tighter if I disregard the warm up first mile (plus/minus 9 seconds).

Parts of mile three and mile 5.5 to 6.5 had a relatively stiff headwind.

I'm still psyched over my Park to Park run, but they didn't post my official time due to some timing issues and I may never know exactly what my time was. Regardless, it has to be within a few seconds of what I reported yesterday . . . 31:26. Some race equalivent calculators give me confidence that I can break 40 minutes in a 10k. I think I need a bit more training, but hopefully that will happen before New Orleans.

7:57, 7:39, 7:40, 7:46, 7:48, 7:43, 7:38, 7:46, 7:36, 7:36

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Park to Park 5M Race

5 miles, unofficially 31:26, 6:17 pace, HR information unreliable, Cadence = 94

Today I had a strong showing at the Park to Park 5 Mile race. My goal was to maintain a 6:30 pace, which I thought would be possible but difficult. In reality I finished with a 6:17 pace. That pace over five miles is only a few seconds slower than my personal best for a 5K. And since this is the only 5 mile race I've ever run, I suppose this time was a personal record for me.

If I could have run another 1.2 miles at a 7:08 pace then I would have run a 40:00 10K -- my goal for the Crescent City Classic. I'll get a chance to test my 10K capabilities in a couple of weeks at the Bayou City Classic. Right now that time seems out of my grasp, but I still have a bit of time to get into better shape.

Mile Splits:
1 - 6:09 -- off with the rabbits. I know this course well since I used to run mile five on a daily basis, and I've run on mile 2-4 frequently. I'm not overly concerned with my fast start, because I'm counting on sheer willpower and course familiarity to carry me through the later miles. (first half = 2:58, second half = 3:11). My heart rate monitor slips off of my chest twice, so I pull it around my waist and decide that I won't be getting any reliable data from the monitor today.
2 - 6:18 -- During this mile I pass by the Toyota Center, home of the Rockets. I cross under I-45 and head out of down town. A few people pass me in this stretch - maybe 5 or 6, and I pass perhaps one or two.
3 - 6:21 -- I'm starting to feel the weight of my legs on this stretch, but I tell myself I'm half way done, and all I have to do is get through mile four. I'm counting on the last mile to be a breeze, relatively speaking. I think it's on this stretch that someone passes me, but I pass them back within the next sixty seconds. During this stretch I pass under US 59 and I'm on Almeda. I can almost count the traffic lights until I'm back at my old apartment.
4 - 6:06 -- Buoyed by the fact that I'm still feeling relatively fresh, and knowing that my times have been slipping, I rip off a fast mile here. During this stretch it becomes apparent to me just how many police officer were employed to maintain traffic control. They can't possibly be making money on this race . . . and then I remember that Minute Maid is sponsoring this race so Hermann Park probably will get a significant payday. I don't think I pass anyone, or anyone passes me on this stretch. I feel just a bit of a headwind here, but nobody is around to use as shelter against the wind. I turn the corner from Almeda to Hermann Circle and I pass by my old apartment at the four mile mark.
5 - 6:16 -- I'm really tired here, but I figure I can hold on for another mile. I slide up my heart rate monitor so I can monitor my heart rate, and I quit looking at my watch to monitor my pace as it became all about survival. I look over my shoulder and realized I will be passed if I don't keep up the pace. I pass what I thought was the turnoff to the finish line and realize the finish line is further than I think. And what's worse, it's a blind corner finish so I don't have a good idea what's left. Also, the course has been measured incorrectly at the mile splits, so I'm wondered if it will be long and I started doubting my ability to finish strong. As that happened, someone passed me. I cheer him on with some encouragement as I wonder if he's going faster or I'm going slower. As I pass the last turn I saw the finish line and the clock. I knew I was going to make my goal time (32:30) and I sprinted to the finish. In doing so I pass the guy who just passed me. According to my Garmin, I covered the last 180 feet at a 5:08 pace, with a heart rate of 180 BPM. I passed the guy like he's standing still and I had a small pain of guilt because I felt as though I stole his finish. I also wondered where that energy was one half mile before, and why I didn't kick it into high gear earlier. It will be interesting to see my finish photos. I remember slobbering on myself as I finished . . . lol. Like I said, I'm anxious to see the expression on my face as I neared the finish line.

The after party was great, and I enjoyed hanging out with Shon and drinking a few beers. Perhaps the funniest thing was watching a homeless guy try to convince the beer guy that he was part of the race today and he just finished.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another Early Morning

5.01 miles, 39:44, 7:55 Pace, no HR info, 88 Cadence

Not particularly thrilled about running at 5:38AM, but I need to get the miles back to where I want them to be: 45-60 per week.

It's a good thing that I didn't put this off because I ended up at a happy hour after work and didn't get home until very late.

8:14, 7:53, 7:52, 7:47, 7:46

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unofficial Power in Motion Run

.46 miles warmup, 3.71 miles run

I'm coaching for Power in Motion this year. It's a great honor that they can use my services, and I'm excited to do a small part toward helping other people enjoy running.

This evening's run was an unofficial run with PIM, and technically it was cancelled because of rain and earlier lightning. I didn't get word that it was cancelled, and about five other people showed up anyway so we took a lap around the park. I got to spend some time with Tom and he gave me the skinny on different Houston running clubs and runners. He invited me to a hill workout session that apparently takes place every M,W and F near my house.

I'm also considering starting a speed workout program with a friend from work. He runs under his coach's supervision at Rice University on Tuesday evenings. I'm concerned that work will frequently run long and stop me from getting to the track in time. But hitting the speed and hill workouts again (with other people!) will be great for my 5K and 10K times.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

5.01 miles, 39:50, 7:57 pace, No HR info, Cadence = 90

After dinner last night I put on my running clothes and equipment, and watched TV for a minute before heading out for a run. Fatigue took over, and before I knew it I was asleep on the couch. So when I awoke at about 8:45 PM I had a choice to make -- go for my run or go to bed early and hit the run tomorrow morning. I chose the sleep option.

So I got up this morning and laced up for a 5 miler at 5:15 AM. Ideally I wanted to run 7 miles, but time was a consideration because I wanted to get into work early this morning.

I started out unusually slow . . . I guess because I'm sore and tired from my recent miles. I kicked butt and ran negative splits in order to slide in under an 8:00 pace when all was said and done. I'm clearly still new to my neighborhood because I turned the wrong way on my street while returning home.

I want to run a bit tonight, but it's very poor weather so I don't know if that will happen.

mile splits: 9:01, 8:15, 7:48, 7:40, 6:58

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seven Around the Heights

7.05 miles, 55:37, 7:53 pace, Max HR = 149 (78%), Avg HR = 139 (73%), Cadence = 90

My knee bothered me a bit today, but not too much.

I'm going to try to start listing my weekly mileage and statistics, and since I don't have anything particularly exciting to relate about today's run, I guess I'll take up some space to do it today.

2/10/08 - 2/16/08:
30.91 miles, 3:58:32, 7:43 pace, Calories = 3592, Avg HR = 146, Cadence = 89, 5 days of running

mile splits: 8:17, 7:47, 7:42, 7:57, 7:38, 7:59, 7:51

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pre-President's Day Long Run

12.09 miles, 1:34:39, 7:49 pace, Cadence= 89, Entire run in Zone 3 HR

Post-Run core exercises: 300 crunches in two sets, 90 pushups in three sets, one with elevated feet, 60 seconds of elbows and toes.

Post-Run drink: Accelerade. I used to drink this after every Kenyan Way workout but I haven't had it more than a couple of times since KW ended. It's supposed to be a proper mix of carbohydrates and protein which helps in post-workout recovery and muscle repair. I don't know if it works, but my anecdotal evidence suggests that I ended up hurting just a bit more when I wasn't drinking it. So I bought a big jar and I'll try to drink it after every workout from now on.

I didn't get out to my long run on Saturday or Sunday during the day, so I squeezed it in just before midnight on Sunday night. This isn't a problem from a sleep perspective because my company is celebrating President's Day tomorrow, and we have the day off of work.

The run was relatively easy, except for the strong wind around certain stretches of Memorial Park. There were very few people at the park, and the street lights were out for a stretch of about 1/8 mile. I didn't see a single police officer there, which was surprising because there is usually a patrol car circling the park after hours.

Now that I have my phone again, I was able to listed to two episodes of Phedippidations, a podcast about running that I've mentioned before on this blog. For those of you keeping score at home, running alone after dark is a bit dangerous, especially with headphones. I listen with the volume extremely low so I can hear upcoming runners, I watch the shadows for people approaching behind me, and I keep my eyes peeled for anything unusual.

The topic of the first show was one of my favorite topics, the C25K . . . shorthand for Couch to 5k. Steve, the host, talked about a program to train for a 5k road race (3.1 miles) for the fitness level of a couch potato. That topic is near and dear to me because it WAS me a little less than 12 months ago. I've sung the praises of Power in Motion before, which was my C25K program. It got me off of the couch and I've never been the same. In a feeble attempt to try to give something back to PIM and the running community in general, I will be coaching for Power in Motion this year. I hope to share my enthusiasm with other beginning runners, like the way my coaches "infected" me with the bug.

The topic for the second show was about children and running. It addressed questions like whether or not it's healthy for children to run, train and compete. Without getting into too much detail, the thesis of the program was that it was perfectly ok, provided that the child enjoys the activity. Overtraining can cause health issues (in adults as well as children), but children will not overtrain on their own accord.

I hope to be blessed with a child at some point in my life. But my fear is that I'll put too much pressure on him/her to confirm to my standards. Those who know me well would say that I run a tight ship and I don't cut enough slack for mistakes. As I get older, I've tried to mellow and do a better job of looking at the situation from others' perspectives. If I have a child, hopefully I'll be a good father and find the balance between letting them live their own life and make their own mistakes, but still provide a structured, loving environment where I can teach them right from wrong. Jeff, my step father, told me that you can't imagine your capacity to love until you have a child. I pray for the strength to love without exerting undue control.

When you run these "zone 3" runs (Heart rate of 134-153 for me), your mind had time to wander and ponder.

mile splits: 7:51, 7:54, 7:58, 8:00, 7:47, 8:07, 7:55, 7:50, 8:04, 7:48, 7:42, 7:24

Friday, February 15, 2008

Threshold v.4.0

1.00 mile warm up (8:33)
4.01 mile, 26:29, 6:36 pace, Max HR = 178, Avg HR = 169, Cadence = 93
1.01 mile warm down (8:38)

Today's run was a tough one, but then again speed work and threshold runs are never easy for me. And for that matter, I'm not entirely sure there is anything about these types of runs that I enjoy. I'd much rather be taking a leisurely jog enjoying the day, instead of having to push myself every few seconds so I don't perform below my capabilities.

One of the few thoughts that I did have today regarded fear -- specifically the fear of failure as it pertains to life and running. When I line up for a race or a speed workout, I am motivated by the fear that I may not be able to complete the test ahead of me.

For a 20 minute 5k (or a 40 minute 10k) you must run a 6:26 pace (9.32 MPH). The thought of running more than one mile at that speed is scary to me to the point that I can't imagine doing it. But somehow I did do it on Thanksgiving of last year with my 19:18 5k for a 6:13 pace. I believe that allowing fear to motivate you is a positive force, whereas allowing fear to stop you from trying something reduces your quality of life. And for me, not meeting a goal for speed workout or a race isn't a failure unless I failed to give it my best shot. That's why I can be happy with my results even when they are below my pre-workout expectations.

The corny reference in the title, Threshold v.4.0, relates to my threshold pace over four miles, but also due to the fact that I am once again connected to the wireless "grid" after going without a phone for almost a month. It's good to have my iPhone back, and I'm looking forward to running with it and listening to podcasts. Oh yea, and receiving phone calls.

splits: 6:33, 6:42, 6:33, 6:36
52% in Zone 5, 41% in Zone 4
Half Mile Cadence Splits: 95, 95, 94, 94, 93, 92, 91, 89 (clearly my turnover reduced as I fatigued)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Late Night Run

7.00 miles, 55:08, 7:50 pace, no Heart Rate info, Cadence = 89

I worked until about 8:30 again tonight, and visited with Julie until she went to sleep around 10. So I didn't get out on the road until 10 and didn't finish until almost 11. I'm watching the Tonight Show as we speak. I can't believe how bad tonight's band is. It's like bad 80s music, and a crazy guy is jumping around singing in painful falsetto. And just when I thought it couldn't get worse, they crazy guy starts banging on a garbage can. I think the band is Amica or something like that. Jay Leno's site says guests for tonight are "TBA", so I can't get a proper spelling on the band's name. I guess the web writers are also on strike.

I've run almost 22 miles over the past three days, and forty over the past seven days. I should be tired, but I'm not really feeling that bad. Regardless, I'm going to take tomorrow off because it's Valentine's day, and Julie and I have plans. Friday I'll hit the speed work and Saturday I'll do a long run.

8:15, 7:30, 7:44, 7:40, 7:43, 7:57, 8:12

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back to Work

7.82 miles, 1:00:06, 7:41 pace, Max HR = 151, Avg HR = 140, Cadence = 89

I set off for my normal route today, but since it stormed pretty hard today I detoured toward downtown when I saw some puddles along my route. After working twelve hours in a day, what draws a man to run back toward the building in which he works? Icarus flying too close to the sun looking for glory, or the mosquito attracted to the deadly blue light of the bug zapper? I think beauty is in all things. I enjoy the sight of mountains and forests and oceans and sunsets. But I also enjoy the sight of a city skyline. So I headed toward downtown along the route that my bus carries me every day and passed by my building.

I've pressed this issue in the past, but I REALLY enjoy having my watch so I can take impromptu detours and not wonder how far I've run. Today's run was a bit long -- I was slated for 7 miles - but I really enjoyed the new scenery, even though I didn't finish until after 11PM. The headlamp worked well announcing my presence to other cars.

8:09, 7:45, 7:31, 7:35, 7:52, 7:44, 7:42

Monday, February 11, 2008

Running Partner

7.09 miles, 53:43, 7:34 pace, Max HR = 162, Avg HR = 148, Cadence = 88

I bonded with another runner today during my seven mile jaunt around the trail by my neighborhood. Here I was, five miles into my run, just before 8:00PM, and I passed by a group of kids hanging out and doing what kids do. The next thing I know one of the kids is running beside me. Now it was dark enough for me to be a little anxious, so I picked up the pace just a bit, but he kept at my side. He seemed nice enough, so I asked him if he was a runner and what he ran. After getting no response but a smile, I realized he didn't know English. So I asked him (in some of the few Spanish words I know) what his name was. So Luis and I ended up running for just under a mile before he faded behind and caught back up with his friends. He seemed like a nice kid.

I'm not sure why the cadence was so low today. I was happy with my speed and my breathing pattern (3x in, 3x out which means I'm running comfortably.) Although I skipped my speed work last week, I kind of feel like I might be at my fastest right now. Not putting in the long miles on the weekend gives me more energy to run faster "easy" run.

I think the mild terrain change over the course of the 2 mile trail is probably a better workout than I've normally been getting at Rice, Memorial and Hermann Park. I only wish my new path was a little longer and more well lit. But I bought a headlamp at Home Depot this weekend in preparation for my night leg of the Texas Independence Relay and I tried it out tonight for the first time. Cars certainly see me better, and I get a better view of the path ahead of me so I can avoid pot holes, roots and other obstacles.

8:10, 7:36, 7:40, 7:40, 7:25, 7:08, 7:18

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday in the Park

3.07 miles, 25:23, 8:26 pace, Avg HR 137, Cadence = 88

Today got off to a quick start . . . 7AM Mass, a grocery trip and three miles at Memorial Park with Julie all before 9:45 AM. I kept up the pace and went to Home Depot after the run to purchase a ladder. I'm 33 years old, but I've never owned a ladder before.

After trimming some branches and setting up the satellite dish I was ready for a nap. Even though I didn't run very hard today, there are some days where I just need a nap. One of the interesting things about my running is that I've learned to listen to my body. I can feel my good days and bad days on the trail, I recognize my nutritional cravings, and I can tell when I need a nap. I'm pretty sure a nap is a great way to recover after a hard workout. I've read that some elites take naps between their two-a-day workouts. Obviously I didn't hit it that hard today, but I've found that a 30 minute nap after a long run can make a world of difference.

I let Julie dictate the pace, and we ran negative splits for each half mile split.
4:33, 4:19, 4:15, 4:14, 4:04, 4:01

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mardi Gras Mambo Race Report

10K (6.21 miles), 43:10, 6:57 pace, Max HR about 180

I ran the Mardi Gras Mambo 10K race on January 26, but I'm just getting around to blogging about it.

The pros: This was a beautiful course . . . from downtown Baton Rouge, along Nicholson where a plantation home is, through LSU, and down River Road back to downtown. I wanted to run under 45 minutes in order to qualify for a chip for the Crescent City Classic 10K, and my time of 43:10 was encouraging. I finished second place in my age group, although I left "early" and didn't stay for the recognition. They were handing out beer at the post-race celebration.

The cons: I felt a serious pain from the start in my right leg, which I've since realized is my right hip flexor (specifically the Psoas major muscle or the Iliacus muscle -- I can't tell which.)

Overall Review: I'm fairly certain I won't be running any more Baton Rouge races for quite some time. They mostly disappoint me. They always seem to run out of shirts, the courses may or may not be properly measured (although this one was on the money), they refuse to do chip timing, the results take FOREVER to post on race-day and an absolute eternity to get them online.

1) This race was a qualifying race for the Sr. Olympics (or something like that) and in order to attract people of all age groups, more than $1300 in cash was given away to various winners. Yet they still couldn't afford chip timing!? Hundreds of people ran.
2) My watch read 43:10, but my "official" time was 42:20. Who's running that clock and what kind of amphetamine are they using!? And despite mailing the results out, they still aren't posted to the web site. They're in a digital format, and someone needs to spend 10 minutes at the most in order to publish them on the web, but it's two weeks later and it's anybody's guess if they'll ever be posted.

I realize these races are typically run to benefit a charity, but I'm going to sit out Baton Rouge races until they get their act in line. If everyone boycotted they would be forced to run the race in a more organized and professional manner. If they did, I believe they would benefit by having more runners attend. I realize my individual boycott won't have any effect on their budget or add any pressure to change, but if I'm going to spend $20 bucks for an entry fee to a race, I may as well spend it where I can run an accurate course and get timely and accurate results.

I still owe you a Houston Marathon race report, which I promise will be much more up-beat!

Distance + Speed Work

10.35 miles composed of an easy run (6.51 miles) some speed work (3.00 miles) and a warm down (0.84 miles).

6.51 miles, 50:15, 7:42 pace, Avg HR = 147, Cadence = 91
splits: 7:54, 7:42, 7:32, 7:37, 7:44, 7:33, 3:50 for .50 miles (7:40 pace)
3.00 miles, 21:09, 7:02 pace, Max HR = 171, Avg HR = 159, Cadence = 91
splits: 6:59, 7:25, 6:40

0.84 miles, 7:12, 8:36 pace, Max HR = 147, Avg HR = 142, Cadence = 86

I missed my speed work last week, so I decided to work it into today's long run. Ideally I would have preferred to hit a 6:45 pace, but it wasn't in the cards today.

I'm hoping this week will slow down at work, and I'll be able to get home a little earlier and get back on my running schedule. I don't want to miss another speed workout. The base mileage and long runs are good for me, but I'll need some serious speed in order to get 6:30 miles for the CCC0K.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Sublime Run

5.01 miles, 37:10, 7:25 pace, Max HR = 170, Avg HR = 152, Cadence = 90

I wouldn't so much say that my run was "sublime" so much as I would say that I'm headed to a Sublime cover band concert now that I finished my run.

I missed yesterday's run so I tried to do a small pickup today. 7:25 isn't so bad for five miles. But it's hard to believe that I ran faster than that for 26.2 miles just a month ago.

Before I forget, I had a dream that I won a race the other day. Now you should know that I've never been able to convince my conscious self that winning a race was possible, despite trying. And I've certainly never had that though in my subconscious. Regardless, the oddest thing is about the dream is that it was a steeplechase run, and I was neck and neck just ahead of the last jump into the puddle. I gave it my all and pulled away for the finish.

7:26, 7:32, 7:21, 7:24, 7:18

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Double Up

10.07 miles, 1:18:05, 7:45 pace, Max HR = 159, Avg HR = 147, Cadence = 89

I worked late on Monday and again today. I didn't run on Monday, so I decided to catch up and run both of my five mile runs after work today at Memorial Park. Within five minutes of starting the bottom dropped out of the sky and I was soaking wet and dodging puddles and lightning. At least it wasn't cold. It's a little more difficult to keep up your pace and cadence when you're running with wet shoes through puddles, but I was happy enough to be running and letting my mind wander that I didn't really force myself to a strict regimen. I did run the last mile a lot faster than the other nine, though.

Today is Mardi Gras which means tomorrow begins the Lenten season, a forty day period of reflection, fasting and penance. May peace be with you during this time, and always.

7:47, 7:53, 7:53, 8:08, 7:53, 7:47, 7:53, 7:51, 7:48, 6:55

Saturday, February 2, 2008

NOLA Mardi Gras Run

10.04 miles, 1:17:45, 7:44 pace, Max HR = 156, Avg HR = 148, Cadence = 90

Causeway, Levee, Oschner, Cooter Browns, St. Charles streetcar line, Audobon Park, The Fly, Audobon Zoo, Loyola.

It's Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, and although I usually overdo it with food and alcohol, I wanted to get in my first long run since the marathon at some point this weekend. I was on the trail by 7:45 AM despite a five hour car trip and a late night of drinking the night before.

I felt great for this run, and it was good to see New Orleans at 7.75 MPH.

8:05, 7:39, 7:56, 7:46, 7:50, 7:44, 7:41, 7:46, 7:36, 7:25

Friday, February 1, 2008

Scratch Bear Creek and onto Memorial

6.02 miles, 46:16, 7:41 pace, Max HR = 162, Avg HR = 154, Avg Cadence = 90

I ran an errand out to West Houston today. I don't normally venture outside of loop 610, and even more seldom do I go outside of Beltway 8 except to drive to Louisiana. But since I was out there I decided to run my 5 miles at Bear Creek. It's a large park near Eldridge Parkway and I-10 for the suburbanites. After driving though the park, I decided to pass on the two mile blacktop jogging trail and go to the crushed granite 3 mile track at Memorial instead. There were a surprising number of people out there at 11AM on a Friday.

I configured my running watch to monitor real-time cadence. As normal, it wasn't an issue to keep my number at 90 early in the run, but I had to make a conscious decision to keep the turnover up once I got tired about four miles into the run.

After the run I hit the core exercises, including two sets of 20 "perfect pushups" with my feet elevated about 18" off the ground. The pushup apparatus probably doesn't really make the pushup better, but it's a gimmick to make me do pushups and it works on your grip as well as your pushups, so I'd call it a success. I got my set for $20 at Fry's, and I've heard you can talk them down over the phone if you call in your order directly to the company via the late night TV commercials.

It's been a while since I had a tough core workout, and I could really feel it immediately afterwards. After my run I treated myself to a Jamba Juice fruit smoothie. If you've never had it, drop what you're doing right now and head to the closest franchise.

Through no direct effort, I lost almost 10 pounds over the past four days. I've been taking light meals, and eating less during some lunches because I've been too busy to leave my desk. But almost all of that weight loss is water weight, since I woke up this morning very dehydrated from my late night run yesterday. Regardless, I'm back to my racing weight relatively easily. Let's see how my upcoming weekend of Mardi Gras in New Orleans affects that! I expect to eat my body weight in Danny and Clyde's Roast Beef Poboys, the greatest in the world. I also hope to be able to get in a "long" run of 10 miles on Saturday morning before the festivities kick off. We shall see.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention a fact. I've never experienced the "runner's high" while running like so many people advertise. Maybe I run too hard or too fast (or not hard/fast enough), but I've never experienced it DURING a run. But sometimes all the elements fall together and I feel really great for about an hour or so AFTER my run. Today was one of those cases -- it was a good day. I didn't have to worry about work (I'm off today), or running at 10PM because it's the earliest I could find time, and I was in no rush to be anywhere. Afterwards I rolled back the sunroof of the car and reflected on how good life was at that very moment. I guess that's my runner's high.

141.5# 10% body fat

half mile splits with average cadence:
3:58 (91), 3:48 (92), 3:46 (92), 3:50 (91), 3:53 (90), 3:52 (89), 3:49 (89), 3:51 (89), 3:53 (90), 3:42 (90), 3:56 (89), 3:49 (90)