Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kenyan Way Long Run

12.05 miles, 1:32:12, 7:38 pace, max HR = 157, avg HR = 141 (2% Z4, 93% Z3), 79 degrees, 82% humidity

I missed my chance to join Stephanie's group today, and their run on League Line Road in Conroe. It's a hilly route, and I was looking foward to it. I set my alarm to the correct time to meet the group, but I forgot to turn on the alarm.

When I woke up I realized I could meet up with the Kenyan way crew. I joined the 3:00 pace group, but they left me pretty much immediately. They took off quickly at a sub 7:30 pace, but I tend to need a warm up mile or two to warm up. Plus, they were only scheduled for 8 and I wanted to get 12 today. Also, I need to be rested for my Sunday long runs so I don't get embarassed running with the Tornados.

I enjoyed the run, and managed to keep my heart rate pretty low until the very end when I picked up the pace about the time the heat also picked up.

TDLY - 7/11/07 - AM Kenyan Way, PM Run with Cory at Memorial Park, 6.02 miles, 53:40, 8:54 pace, Max HR = 171, Avg HR = 152

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Threshold Attempt

Warm Up
Threshold attempt, 5.01 miles, 34:42, 6:55 pace, Max HR = 171, Avg HR = 162, 89% Z4, 9% Z3, 85% and sunny, 68% humidity, 6:37, 6:39, 7:05, 7:11, 7:03
Warm Down

My attempt was to run this with a 6:30 pace for five miles, the first time this season that I've tried a five mile threshold. As you can tell, I missed the mark on every mile, and it got progressively worse. Many of the other Tornados struggled as well.

For me I think it was a combination of the heat and the fact that I ran 58 miles in the prior six days. Tomorrow's rest day will be well appreciated. I'll be watching Leno run at the last Rice All Comer's meet of the season. Next year I'll enter a few events.

TDLY - Museum District Neighborhood Run, 4.16 miles, 36:54, 8:52 pace, Max HR = 152, Avg HR = 141, 86% Z3

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

After (Work) Eight

8.00 miles, 1:05:19, 8:09 pace, Max HR = 149, Avg HR = 137

"After Eight" is an after dinner chocolate mint, hence the bad play on words for my eight mile after-work run. Yes, witticisms cease to be witty as soon as you have to explain them.

The story here isn't about the run so much as it is about the events around the run. First of all I was scheduled to run four this morning and four this evening. Ever since I set down a training schedule a few weeks ago, I've been pretty good about following it. I've also been very good about getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, since fewer that than has hindered my performance in the past.

But last night I only slept about an hour before waking up at 11PM. I couldn't get to sleep until about 4:30 AM -- so I didn't run in the morning. Strangely I didn't feel that tired during the day, despite sleeping less than four hours. But I was determined to run eight today to keep on schedule, even though my tempo run tomorrow looms large.

Normally I run one of only a few routes when I start from home. But then again, normally I'm running about five or less. Since I had some slight distance scheduled for this run I decided to stretch out my geographical boundaries. I crossed I45 along the marathon route into what is considered somewhat of a ghetto. From there I headed North along N. Main and ran around the Holy Cross and Hollywood Cemeteries. Both of those areas were mostly low-rent districts, but what appealed to me was the apparent neighborhood pride. People were outside talking to each other, and the yards were fairly well maintained. This area gets a bad rap, but I think it's a nice place to live.

I ran through Moody Park where a soccer game was taking place, and dozens of families were enjoying the day. It was at that point I was "lost", so I looked at my map on my watch and determined the proper direction back home. I ran down Fulton street and into another neighborhood near Jim Hogg Park where many of the streets had biblical names. I crossed back over I-45 and came out by Dharma Cafe. At this point I figured I was right on track for an 8 mile run if I headed straight home. And indeed, 8.00 miles ticked off just in front of my house.

I enjoyed checking out my neighboring neighborhoods. It gave me the same feeling as when I was running in San Antonio recently -- just meandering around and taking in the sights.

Since I forgot to set my watch to auto-lap (I usually have it tick off half miles), my run was recorded as one big lap, so I have no easily accessible split information to report (not that it matters anyway.) Let's just hope I have some juice in the legs for tomorrow's tempo run.

This Day Last Year (TDLY) - 7/9/07 - Kenyan Way, 10 minutes (2 hills, up fast, down slow) 5 minutes rest 10 more minutes, Max HR = 178, Avg HR = 157, 44% Z5, 46% Z4.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

3x1M with 4 minutes rest

2 warm up, 3x1M with 4 minutes rest, 2 warm down, Max HR = 178, mile 1 = 6:01, mile 2 = 6:01, mile 3 = 6:17

I've been running speed workouts with the Tornados on Tuesdays, and today's workout was a challenging one. The workout was three one mile stretches with four minutes of rest between reps. The first two were pretty consistent, but at the tail end of the second one I started to get a visit from my lunch (or more accurately last night's dinner, given the apparent progress along the gastrointestinal tract.) It reminded me again during most of the second half of the last mile. I had visions of this picture of runner #26 I saw on Half Fast the other day. If you want to see something unplesant, click the picture at the link I provided.

Other than that minor set-back, I was pleased with my splits.

TDLY - Rest

Monday, July 7, 2008

Six in the Morning, Six in the Evening

AM - 6.14 miles, 47:57, 7:48 pace, max HR = 140, Avg HR = 130, 54% Z3, balance below
PM - 6.15 miles, 46:23, 7:32 pace, Max HR = 153, Avg HR = 143, 1% Z4, 88% Z3, balance below

Motionbased weather is still down. It's been down for about a week or more. I guess you get what you pay for (free).

My route was exactly the same for both, so it makes for a good comparison between the runs. I ran faster in the evening and it was hotter, so my heart rate was understandable higher. Check out the graph where I compare my half mile split times and heart rates.
It's interesting to see how consistent I was over each individual half mile. This is probably because the terrain over the route is varied, so my times and heart rates go up on an incline, and down on a decline.

TDLY - 7/7/07 - Run to Coco Crepes Restaurant to meet Julie, 7.23 miles, 1:03:57, 8:50 pace, Max HR = 170, Avg HR = 156, 73% Z4, 21% Z3, 84 degrees, 75% humidity. I was still fairly new to hour long runs at this point, and I very nearly quit during the latter stages of this run to meet Julie. It was quite difficult.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tornados Spotted in River Oaks

11.80 miles, 1:27:22 (5:40 rest), 7:24 pace (7:52 factoring rest), Max HR = 165, Avg HR = 140, 32% Z4, 43% Z3, 22% Z2

The Tornados hit River Oaks today in lieu of running down the bayou to Sabine. We didn't put out water so it was a bit of a dry run. But I followed Lucho's advice and drank plenty of water before my run (not quite as much as he recommends, but a lot for me.) I also had a gulp of water from a hose about 4.5 miles into the run.

I structured this run as:
1) 4.5 miles of warm up at 7:58 (about 4:00 rest)
2) 2.81 miles of tempo at 6:28 (about 1:30 rest)
3) 1.5 miles of cool down at 7:59 (no rest)
4) 2.94 miles at 7:12

I felt well afterwards, so I guess the tempo run wasn't a bad idea. The times I feel the worst is when I hammer the last mile or two (6 or sub-6), so I'll try not to do that except for speed sessions. Things can get competitive with the Tornados, but I know my place (almost all can beat me) so I wouldn't prove anything by racing them during a long run.

It's curious to me that I struggle to keep a 6:30 pace on a Thursday tempo session, but this 6:28 pace came easily for me, after a long warm up. I really think that hydration may be my magic bullet, as I'm usually running the Thursday tempo runs in a dehydrated state. As much as I complain about this, you'd think I'd just wise up and drink some water. But the truth is that I don't like the way water tastes, and I don't want the additional calories from sports drinks. I'm going to pick up some G2 so I can get the liquid without as many calories. It has 25 calories per 8 ounces, which means it only takes one mile to burn off a quart.

TDLY - Rice and Hermann, 5.58 miles, 44:52, 8:02 pace, Max HR = 173, Avg HR = 157, 69% Z4, 25% Z3. No Blog Entry.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

San Antonio Wanderings

AM 10.04 miles, 1:20:58, 8:03 pace, Max HR = 151, Avg HR = 137, 78% Z3, 20% Z2
8:39, 8:32, 8:25, 7:54, 7:52, 8:30, 7:49, 7:40, 7:29, 7:34

PM 2.52 miles, 22:33, 8:56 pace, max HR = 149, Avg HR = 133, dehydrated, hilly and hot

Julie and I are spending the weekend in San Antonio. I don't know much about the city, and I didn't spend my usual time researching and overanalyzing. So my run from the Bed and Breakfast pretty much had no destination objective other than running ten miles before the day got underway. As much as I enjoy running, I enjoy my vacation time with Julie more so I didn't want this run to interfere with our planned activities. I was out of the door at 5:48 AM and finished at 7:08 AM.

Our Bed and Breakfast, The Bullis House Inn, was situated next to Historic Fort Sam Houston. I'm not entirely sure what kind of Army Base it is, but you can see very large mansions on the compound. I think it might be for Army doctors, since I read this as part of the "mission" of the base:
To provide quality service and support to our community, the Home of Army Medicine.
The Bullis House was OK . . . nothing spectacular, but it fit our needs. I wanted something a little closer to downtown, but those were all booked or required two night stays. Because this one was a little banged up and out of the way, it was significantly cheaper was well. But the service was great and the breakfast was so good that I ate my body weight in fruit, yogurt, eggs, potatoes, cereal, orange juice cocktail and biscuits. The room was nice as well. I guess the only downfall was the shared bathroom, which could benefit from a renovation and probably wouldn't smell as much if it had air conditioning.

Back to the run -- I meandered through San Antonio, alongside the fort and happened upon Brackenridge Park, the Zoo and the Japanese Garden. Upon later analysis I found out I was about 200 yards from Trinity University. Had I known that I would have checked out the campus. As I mentioned here and here, I've always enjoyed spending time on college campuses. The Japanese Tea Garden was nice, and I ran up several flights of stairs to the crest (which is why I had an 8:30 mile nestled in the middle of my run.) Speaking of pace, I want my Saturday runs to be easy (8:30 or whatever feels easy), so I can run my Sunday runs a bit faster (8:00 or perhaps a bit faster.) So I was happy that I was able to carry an 8:03 pace while feeling great.

After breakfast we headed to Gruene, TX (near New Brauenfels) to tube along the Guadalupe and go to Gruene Hall, the oldest Honkey Tonk in Texas. Julie and I squeezed in a short run, just to say we did it. It was uneventful, full of traffic, and was pretty terrible as far as runs go. Afterwards we went to The Gristmill River Restaurant and I ate until my stomach nearly ruptured. (I give myself a license to pig out on vacations.)

TDLY - Rest Day

Friday, July 4, 2008

2008 Run Wild 5K

5K Race, 19:19.9, 6:13 pace, Max HR = 183, Avg HR = 166, 31% Z5, 58% Z4, 8% Z3

warm down after race with Andrew, 3.06 miles, 25:10, 8:13 pace

For the first time in my life a 5K didn't seem so long. Every other time I'm counting down each half mile, trying to survive. For better or worse, this one seemed to fly by. That's probably because I didn't run it hard enough. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my time based on weather conditions, the winding course and the fact that running on tired legs due to ramping up my mileage. But I wanted to break 19 on this race, and I think I didn't try hard enough to get it done.

First mile, 6:01 – Didn't want to go out too fast. This six minute mile felt easy.
Second Mile, 6:24 – I wasn't looking at my watch and I didn't notice that I was slowing down, but I did notice the heat and humidity. I'm really not straining too hard here. I feel my cadence slip a few times, and I concentrate on picking up my turnover and landing on my mid-foot.
Third Mile, 6:20 – This is based on a strong second half mile when the end was in sight. I started passing people with about a half mile to go. My breathing falls into a once in/twice out pattern. This is ok for short distances, but usually isn't sustainable for me.
.1 finish, 0:35 (5:27 pace) – I surprised myself with my strength as I passed about four or five people during this stretch, including the second place overall female. I think I could have held this pace for at least another quarter mile, giving me reason to think that I left way too much out there.

Congratulations to Lilia for her first place finish! Lilia is a fellow Will's Hiller. I've run side-by-side with Lilia, and I have to say that she is a determined yet humble runner. Her work ethic is enviable, and it paid off for her on July 4.

In national news, Sean Wade won the masters division of the Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta, GA. This is one of the largest road races in the country, with 15,000 participants and nearly 150,000 spectators. Sean's time of 31:24 was 21 seconds faster than his nearest masters competitor, and it placed him in 28th place overall. In a testament to the popularity and prestige of this race, the top ten runners all hailed from Africa. The open men and women were chasing a $15,000 first place check. The total purse was $83,100.

The competitive racing season is over for me, if you can even call what I do "competing." Unless things change, the next time I will give it my all is on January 18, 2009. Yes, I'll enter a few races between now and then, but I won't go all-out so I won't jeopardize my marathon training. My potential upcoming race calendar is as follows:

8/22/08 – Hood to Coast Relay
9/18/08 – Watermill Express 5k Marathon Kickoff
10/12/08 – USA 10 Miler
10/26/06 – Luke's Locker Half Marathon
11/9/08 – HMSA 25K
1/18/09 – Houston Marathon

Other possibilities:
11/27/08 – Baton Rouge Turkey Trot 5K
11/29/08 – Baton Rouge Beach Marathon
12/14/08 – Houston 30K

After the race I ran three miles with Andrew as a cool-down effort. This was after hydrating with two pints of beer. I've had easier cool-downs, but it was good to catch up with Andrew. We worked together at Texas Memory Systems during my first tour of duty in Houston.

TDLY - 7/4/07 - 2007 Run Wild 5K, 20:54.2 chip, 6:45 pace, 78th overall, Max HR = 188, Avg HR = 102, 54% Z5, 39% Z4, 75 degrees, 90% humidity. This was a PR for me. Apparently I'm 94.3 seconds better this year, but it appears as though my effort level was higher last year based on heart rate information. No Blog Entry.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Tale of Two Runs

AM 5.52 miles, 44:39, 8:05 pace, Max HR = 150 Avg HR = 130, 35% Z3, 57% Z2
8:53, 8:15, 7:54, 8:14, 7:34

PM 5.01 miles, 39:58, 7:58 pace, Max HR = 159, Avg HR = 144, 22% Z4, 58% Z3, 16% Z2
8:21, 7:40, 8:01, 7:49, 7:58

In the morning I felt ok after a relatively light speed workout yesterday, and my heart rate reflects a comfortable run. In the evening I ran approximately the same distance, but I felt bad the whole way. I had a cramp in my shoulder and my rib cage and my heart rate was high the whole time. When I finished my legs were like concrete.

I'm not sure why the same run produced such different results, but I have some theories:
1) Dehydration -- I didn't hydrate well enough during the course of the day (hence the cramps and higher heart rate.)
2) Temperature -- Motionbased weather is down, but says the morning run was 76 degrees @ 87% humidity (feels like 76 degrees), and the evening run was 87 degrees @ 57% humidity (feels like 91 degrees)
3) Over training -- hopefully this isn't my body telling me I've had enough. I don't think so, but I'm a little concerned that I may have left my 5K out there. Let's see how I feel in 36 hours when I toe that line.

TDLY - rest

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Warm Up, 4x400 with 200 walk/jog recovery, Warm Down, Max HR = 174

My 400 splits, run at the Memorial Park black top track were as follows:

This goes to show that I don't know how to run 400s, since my pace was all over the place. In reality I would have liked to run about ten of these, but Leno (Tornados Coach) thinks that we should take it easy for our Friday races.

What? Controversy, you say? Oh yea, you're talking about the headline I used to lure you into this blog entry.

One would think that the Houston running community would be a pretty benign space. As a newbie, I'm finding out otherwise.

Check out this exchange between Kenyan Way, Wills Hills and bystanders on Bret Riley's blog, particularly the comments.

Did you check it out? . . . no you didn't, seriously read it. It's funny, sad and emotional. Kinda like a chick flick.

My take, which is worth exactly the amount that I'm charging for it, is this:
1) I love Kenyan Way, and credit Sean Wade and his training program for taking this couch potato to a 3:12 marathon in a span of six months. It is inspiring to be coached by an Olympian, and it's obvious he knows what he's doing as far as coaching and the tremendous business logistics behind running such a large program.
2) I really enjoyed Will's Hills, and regret that I no longer run with them. The best part of the group is the social aspect, as this seems to be much more of a "club" than a "program."
3) The groups are different in a few major ways.
i) First of all WH starts at 5:30 AM which allowed me to attend, whereas the 6:00 start time of Kenyan Way didn't mesh with my new job.
ii) This is perhaps my most controversial comment -- I think Will's Hills is a more advanced workout. True, you get out what you put in to a hill workout. But the people at Will's Hills seem to be faster, so the workouts are geared toward a higher calibre athlete. I'm usually exhausted after WH. KW was exhausting as well, but you also passed people who were chatting and walking like it was a social hour.
iii) Maybe this is also a controversial comment -- Will's hills is a not-for-profit endeavor, and is thus cheaper. Kenyan way is more expensive, but offers more amenities like an online training schedule, branded clothing, Accelerade (that stuff ain't cheap), an Olympic coach, a personal blog on the KW website, et cetera. You get what you pay for. And to further that, I love the fact that a professional runner is able to continue to make money after his "big" money race days are over. And even further, I fully understand Sean's business concerns regarding competition, because that is his means of providing for his wife and son. If you threatened my livelihood, I'd come out fighting more so than the petty disagreements posted in the comment section of Bret's blog.
4) I like Sean, Will and Brett, and I understand all of their positions. I also want to believe that it's not as heated as one might assume by reading the comments.
5) I think the comments by people like me who are uninformed bystanders are hilarious. Particularly the Dickensian "homeless man under shepherd bridge" who posted:
"AAAARRRRRGGGGHHH!!! You damned capitalists- I shake my fists at thee- BBUUURRRPP!!!"
I'm not sure how he got internet access, but the Heights Library, with their collection of 29 books, seems to be a hotbed of homeless internet activity.
6) As far as Brett goes, I wish I was training for a 2:30 marathon. Right now I have to wonder if 3:00 is in the cards for me.
7) The KW Saturday long run program is the most organized of all long run programs, with fantastic support along the routes. But I run with my running group, the Tornados, on Sundays because I think they have the most sub-3 hour marathoners in Houston on any given run. I believe that you get faster by running with faster runners. I call it the theory of viral running.
8) I've personally given written and oral glowing reviews of both programs and have recommended several people to each program, based on what I think works best for them. It's possible that my input as a PIM coach steered at least one or two people to KW, and I've taken visitors to Will's Hills. I use Google Analytics on my blog, and I can tell that my blog comes up often on searches regarding Kenyan Way, which hopefully helps businees.
9) I'm almost certainly a meaner person than all three of the parties mentioned, so don't get any false bad impressions of Sean, Will and Brett by reading internet comments that don't always accurately reflect emotions. That being said, I wrote this entry to give one more data point toward your opinion of the controversy. So don't take my input as fact.
10) Both programs let you give it a go without making a commitment, so contact them for a trial workout. Unless you're already very diligent and scientific with your exiting workouts, you're almost guaranteed to improve under either program.

One final comment, I don't know why I bothered posting this since all three of you who read this don't really care. But for some reason I seem connected since I know and trained with all three parties. The bottom line is that I'm proud of where I am as a runner, and I wouldn't be here without Power in Motion, Kenyan Way, AND Will's Hills. I hope and fully expect the Tornados to take me along during the next step of my journey. I wholeheartedly recommend all of those programs.

TDLY - 7/1/07 - Tempo Run Around Rice, 7:15 pace after .85 mile warm up, max HR = 180, avg HR = 158, 18% Z5, 49% Z4, 23% Z3