Monday, February 23, 2009

If I had a dollar for every mile I ran this week...

...I'd have a picture of Ben Franklin in my pocket. As planned, I got to the somewhat elusive century mark this week. For some reason, I feel like I can top 90 miles per week fairly comfortably, but getting those last few miles to hit triple digits takes a lot more planning and effort than it seems like it should. Here's how I did it this time:

Monday - 12.5 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. I had Presidents Day off of work, so I had the luxury of sleeping in after the previous week's long run. This was a welcome treat because I usually dread the Monday morning run more than the Sunday long run, but not having to do it at 4 AM helped matters considerably.

Tuesday - 10 miles in the morning, 5.5 in the afternoon. Back to work, so back to early morning running. The 10 miler was pretty slow.

Wednesday - 10.25 miles with 8 strides.

Thursday - 11.05 miles, including 2 miles easy, 20 minutes tempo, 10 minutes easy, 20 minutes tempo and 1.5 miles easy. This tempo workout didn't go as well as last week's, especially the first 20 minute interval, but the second 20 minutes felt better.

Friday - 8.7 miles in the morning, 6 in the afternoon. By far the worst day of the week running-wise. The morning run was supposed to be 10, but 8.7 was a struggle even at a slower than normal pace. Just after I got to work, the wind picked up and it started snowing. So, the afternoon run was done on the indoor track. The first 3 miles felt absolutely horrible: stomach issues, weak legs, mild dizziness. It wasn't pretty. I stopped for a bathroom break and forced myself back onto the track and, magically, started to feel much better. I actually extended what was supposed to be a 5 miler to 6 because I was feeling so good by the end. Crazy.

Saturday - 9 miles with 8 strides. Felt better than Friday, but something still felt off with my stomach.

Sunday - 22 miles. Stomach issues are finally gone. I ran an out and back course that featured about 1500 feet of total elevation gain. The hilliest portion was between miles 9 and 13, where I practiced running the uphills strong (but not too strong) and then pushing the pace on the downhills. Those four miles felt good. A couple of miles afterward felt a little less good, but then I finished strong the last few miles.

Total - 100 miles

8 weeks til Boston....

On a non-running note, Shannon and I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" on Saturday afternoon. It was really good and, since it's the only one of the Best Picture nominees I've seen, I'm glad it won the Oscar last night. Of course, I hadn't even heard of a couple of the nominees. Either I'm culturally deprived, or the Academy picks some weird-ass nominees.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Halfway to Boston

This past week was #9 of my Boston training, marking the halfway point. Only 9 weeks until April 20th!! It seems so far, yet much too close. The week went great for the most part, but was soured some by a crappy marathon pace long run on Sunday. It was just the wrong day to have a bad day.

Monday - 10 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon.

Tuesday - 10 miles. Thanks to Mother Nature dumping a few inches of wet snow on Monday night, which first turned to slush and then froze, the footing was pretty shitty on Tuesday morning. Regardless, I headed out only to decide real quick that that was a mistake. After 5 miles of basically just trying not to fall on my ass, I gave up, shed my cold weather gear and headed to the indoor track for the second 5.

Wednesday - 9.2 miles with 8 strides.

Thursday - 11 total including 2 easy, 20 minutes tempo, 3 min. easy, 15 min. tempo, 3 min. easy, 10 min. tempo and a little over a mile easy for a cooldown. Definitely the best run of the week. Ironic, because it was also the one I was dreading the most, but the tempo intervals went very well and I nailed my goal pace of 6:30-6:35. I think that tempo workouts like this are the key to achieving the fabled "runner's high". During that last cooldown mile, I felt like I was running about 9:00 pace, but was actually going 8:00 with no effort whatsoever. And, when I got done, I felt like I had just shotgunned a 6 pack of beer in about 5 minutes.

Friday - 10.2 miles. I meant to do another 4 in the afternoon, but our dryer took a crap on us and I ended up getting sidetracked by tearing it apart before I finally realized that I'm not an appliance repairman and no matter how many pieces of it I took off, I wasn't going to magically fix whatever it is that's broken.

Saturday - 8.2 miles with 8 strides in the morning, finally got around to that other 4 miler (4.4 actually) in the afternoon. Took the dogs with me on the afternoon run for a couple of miles each.

Sunday - 17 miles with 12 at marathon pace. This was supposed to be 13 miles at goal marathon pace, but it just wasn't happening. After a two mile warmup, I started in on the MP miles and it just wasn't working out from the beginning. I was targeting 7:00 miles and when my first, mostly downhill mile was a 7:05 I knew it was going to be rough. My legs just felt dead and the pace never felt even remotely comfortable. To make matters worse, I purposefully ran it on a fairly hilly course because Boston is hilly and running MP on a flat course isn't going to do me much good come April 20th. By the time I finished 7 MP miles (9 miles total) I had slowed to about 7:15 and my legs were burning. I decided to take it easy for a mile to regroup and then started in on another 5 MP miles, which went slightly better, although my pace still fluctuated wildly; I laid down a 7:20 one mile, but then hammered out a 6:59 on the last one. After a couple of miles of cooldown, I was done (both figuratively and literally). I haven't had a long run, or any run for that matter, leave me feeling that beat up in awhile.

Total - 85 miles

So, I'm down to single digit weeks until the big day. And, considering the three week taper, I really only have about 6 weeks of "hard" training left. Yikes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rock Out!!!

Last night was X-Fest in Rapid City, featuring the rock bands Saving Abel, Papa Roach, Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry. All you old fogies out there are going WTF?? at this point, but just bare with me here. It was loud, it was hot, it was sweaty....everything a rock concert should be. I've imbedded a couple of videos from YouTube below to give you an idea of what we saw. The first is footage from the concert last night of Avenged Sevenfold playing "Bat Country". Not too bad of quality for amateur video:

This second one isn't from the Rapid show, it's Buckcherry performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The first song is "Too Drunk...". Of course, they had to play the edited version on network TV, but at the concert it wasn't....I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out which words go where. They also play part of "Rescue Me", which is my current favorite song, on here, but it gets cut off at the end:

So, as if my ears weren't plugged up enough from a head cold I've been nursing for a few days, they now need to recover from a rock concert too. Oh well, it was very much worthwhile.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring in February

We had another heat wave last week, which is just fine with me. Temps topped out at around 64 on Thursday and were in the 40s or 50s for much of the week. I don't give a damn whether or not that stupid groundhog saw his shadow or not, I'm ready for spring. I would not shed a tear if I've already seen the indoor track for the last time this winter. But, as I type this, we are under a winter weather advisory for heavy snow and high winds, so we shall see. Stay tuned...

Monday - 10 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon.

Tuesday - 12.2 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon.

Wednesday - 10 with 8 strides.

Thursday - 13 total including 2 easy, 4x1 mile at tempo pace with 1 min. recoveries, 5 min. easy, 3x1 mile tempo, 2 easy. I did this workout on the track to keep the tempo pace consistent and it worked out very well. The first interval was a touch slower than I was hoping for (6:38) but every one after that was 6:32 or 6:33, dead on target.

Friday - 10 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. The afternoon run was an interesting one. All week long, my entire family has been transferring the flu to one another. First, it was my wife, then my daughter and then finally my son, leaving me as the lone healthy person in the house. Well, during that 5 mile run, I wondered if maybe my luck had run out. About 1.5 miles into it, I suddenly felt very weak, light headed and slightly nauseous. I decided I would go to the 2 mile point and turn back, cutting the run a mile short. I trudged along and then, just as suddenly as it had come on, the sensation passed and I ended up feeling great and finishing all 5 miles. Still not sick (knock on wood).

Saturday - 10.2 miles with 8 strides.

Sunday - 18 miles including 2 easy, 4x6 min. tempo, 7 easy, 20 min. tempo, 2 easy. This workout didn't come nearly as easily as Thursday's. Running at tempo pace on hills and gravel roads is a much different experience from doing it on a perfectly flat track with even footing. So, my tempo paces weren't as fast, but I guess that was to be expected.

Total - 96.4 miles

Also on Sunday, we went to Rapid City for the February Freeze 5K, which my wife ran as part of her plan to run at least one race per month in 2009. She did great considering the hilly course and the fact that she just go over the flu. The kids had fun watching all of the runners finish. Every single time someone ran by, my daughter Chloe said "Oh, they are gonna win! Everyone is winning!!". Good attitude, Chloe. My son Caiden is infatuated with numbers, so he spent most of the time closely watching the finish clock and made sure to tell Shannon what her time was as soon as she finished. Next month, it's back to Rapid for the Dublin Dash 5K. That one ends at an Irish Pub. I'm definitely looking forward to spectating that one!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Freezin my fanny

After positively balmy conditions (40s, 50s, even a 60) the week before, Mother Nature reared her ugly head and nailed us with winter again early this week. From a high of 50 one day to a high in the upper single digits the next, the weather took a sharp turn for the worse.

Monday - 10 miles in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. All 15 were done on the indoor track thanks to negative windchills.

Tuesday - 10 in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. The morning run was inside again, but it finally warmed up enough to get back outside in the afternoon.

Wednesday - 8 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. During the afternoon run I was running along the Spearfish Creek bike path and had to cross a street. As I hopped from the street over the curb and a berm of snow back onto the bike path I realized that the sidewalk was a glassy sheet of ice. I knew I was going to go down, but there wasn't anything I could do about it at that point. As soon as my left foot hid the ice, it slid out from under me and it hit the ground hard with my left leg and buttcheek taking the brunt of the blow. I popped right back up and noticed that my left calf, which had already had a knot in it, now had a really big, really tight knot. But, it didn't hurt enough for me to stop running (plus I was pissed off and needed to run off the adrenaline) so I finished the 4 miles and by the time I was done the calf actually felt a little bit better. But, after I had showered and eaten lunch, it was really the point where I was hobbling around the office. Not good.

Thursday - 8 miles. After a night of ice, ibuprofen and beating my calf into submission with The Stick, it felt a lot better when I woke up on Thursday. Still, I decided to take it easy.

Friday - 20 miles. So much for taking it easy. I had decided by this point that I was going to race a 4 miler on Sunday, which is regularly my long run day. So, I had to get my long run in sometime and didn't want to do it the day before the race so I ended up cranking it out before work on Friday. There's nothing quite like having run 20 miles by 7 AM. The calf was sore, but not really painful....just letting me know it's there.

Saturday - 10 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. Maybe not the best way to rest up for a race, but I've still gotta get the mileage in. I split the afternoon 5 in two and took each of the dogs out. Our black lab, Vedder, hung with me for 3 without much problem. Our shorter, fatter yellow lab, Molly, was struggling after 2. Both of them need to learn how to pace themselves.

Sunday - 11 miles total, including the Freeze Your Fanny 4 miler (see below). I ran 2 miles warmup, the 4 mile (actually 3.8 mile) race and then tacked on another 5.2 after I got home (gotta get those miles in).

Total - 96 miles

The Race
Freeze Your Fanny is an almost annual (they skipped last year) 4 miler held on Super Bowl Sunday in Sundance, WY. I ran the race two years ago and was waffling on whether or not to do it again this year. I had fun last time, but knew that this time it was going to cause me to do some juggling of my schedule and I just couldn't decide how to do that. Hurting my calf on Wednesday actually helped me figure it out. Since I didn't really want to put my calf through the scheduled tempo workout on Thursday, I decided to use the race on Sunday as my tempo workout and bump my long run up a couple of days. A second motivator for running this race this year was that at least 6 of my co-workers were also running and I felt the need to live up to my office reputation as "the runner".

Sunday dawned with a fresh layer of snow. Yay. We barely got any in Belle, but Sundance got just under an inch and when we got there it was obvious that footing wasn't going to be all that great. The streets were almost totally snow covered and it had been packed down by traffic and it was just warm enough outside that the hardpack was just a little slick. It was in the low to mid 20s, but a pretty stiff breeze was blowing from the north, making it feel colder. After I paid my fee, I headed out for a warmup run and had just enough time to do two easy miles. As we lined up for the race start, I identified a couple of local runners who I'm usually pretty closely matched with, including a guy named Kip who I had yet to beat in a race, although I've finished several not too far behind him.

The gun (actually, the ambulance siren) sounded and we were off. As is typical, a bunch of people took off really fast and I found myself in the back of a pack of ten or so. Kip was right in front of me and as we started a gradual climb that would last most of the first two miles, he started moving forward so I tagged along. In previous races, I had almost always taken off ahead of him, only to have him pass me late in the race and put a gap on me that I couldn't make up. This time, I was determined to stick to him like stink on poo and then see how things worked out in the end. The first couple of miles included an out and back stretch, which was a good gauge of who the contenders were. By the time we this stretch, Kip and I were in 2nd and 3rd respectively, with a teenage punk way out in front of us. At the turnaround, Kip was maybe ten yards ahead of me.

After the turnaround, there was a slight downhill leading to the steepest uphill on the course. I used this downhill to close the gap a little and when we hit the base of the hill I was right behind Kip. As we powered up the hill I pulled alongside him and we ended up staying within an arm's length of each other for most of the rest of the race. After the short but steep rise, there was a long downhill stretch that lasted for most of the final two miles. I tried to stay in control here and it seemed pretty obvious that neither Kip nor I were going to make any moves anytime soon. At one point on the downhill, I heard someone not too far behind us, but as we reached the bottom of the hill and made a left turn straight into the north wind, that person dropped back a little. I pulled a step ahead of Kip on the turn and he promptly tucked in behind me. We were now facing about a half mile stretch straight into the wind and it took me about half of that distance to realize that Kip was just drafting off of me and didn't have any intention of passing me (yet). So, I eased off the pace just a touch, hoping to have some kick on the final stretch.

Finally, we got back to the main drag through town, where we would make a left turn toward the finish. I wasn't totally sure just how far away the finish was going to be after the turn, but as I made the turn I glanced up and saw the finish line just a couple of blocks away. I immediately pushed the pace and was walking a very fine line between sprinting and falling down on the ever so slightly slick snowpack. I had hoped that my sudden kick would catch Kip off guard, but of course I'm sure he was expecting it and after a block was still hot on my tail. I briefly wondered if I had started the kick too soon, but it was too late to do anything about that by that point so I just bore down and kept chugging. As we hit the final block, it seeemed like Kip had dropped back just a little, but I wasn't about to turn and look (and almost assuredly would have fallen on my face if I had). Then, I heard him cough and thought for sure he had dropped back a little. I kept surging as hard as possible without slipping and crossed the finish line in 26:02, 2nd overall and all of 4 seconds ahead of Kip. Upon talking to him afterwards, it turns out he had started dry heaving in that final block. The kid who won (by almost a minute over me) was in the 15-29 age group, giving me first in the 30-39 group. All in all, not bad for the first race of 2009.