Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rough Week. Tough Month.

Yesterday was the annual Hunt Family Reunion in Ramsey, Illinois. I made the trip solo this year because Liz was helping throw a baby shower for some friends back home. The reunion is at Ramsey Lake and I almost threw my bike on the car so I could take a ride around the campground like old times. I decided to stick with the plan and let myself rest and recover so I wouldn't risk a flare-up in my chest pain.

I felt great all day yesterday and my chest was almost back to 100%. I was beginning to look forward to this morning's Long Run and getting back into training. But as the day went on, I started to notice my lower back hurting. You wouldn't know it by my recent troubles, but I'm generally a pain-and-injury-free runner. I've had almost no serious physical problems as a result of running.

Then this Spring, my lower back started giving me trouble. It was really bothering me about two weeks before the Olathe Marathon in April. I got through the marathon fine but it tightened up even more afterward. I took it easy after that becaue I had the Minneapolis Marathon in early June. My back bothered me off and on between Olathe and Minneapolis and I only ran twice in the two weeks before Minneapolis.

I had avoided the doctor for fear of being told not to run Minneapolis and I was able to stretch better and relieve some of the pain after the marathon so I mostly forgot about it. I've been trying to stretch my back and hamstrings more often and it seems to be helping. In June and July, my back wasn't a problem.

This week, I hadn't run since Wednesday. Like an idiot, when I stopped running, I stopped stretching. So I also hadn't stretched since Wednesday. I'm hoping that's the only reason my back is bothering me again. I'm hoping that I'm dealing with a muscle imbalance... my back and hamstrings are tight and my abs are weak in comparison so everything in my lower back is pulling too tight. I'm hoping that a return to stretching and some additional exercises to strenghten my core will iron things out.

But, sticking with my new habit of following my own advice, I plan to call my doctor tomorrow to make sure there isn't something more serious going on. Tight muscles can be easy to manage. A problem with a disc or a stress fracture would be a much bigger problem. I don't want to do any permanent damage just because I'm too stubborn to see a doctor.

So today's Long Run was a disaster. My back was super tight for the first half-mile and my stride was reduced to short, little steps. I was hoping things would loosen up after about a mile and after two miles, I was actually feeling a little better. But this was the first run where the pain lessened but never went away.

The plan was 13 Miles today. (To Route 66 Park, 3 Laps, and Home.) Instead, I got to the park, ran one lap, and decided I was going to do more harm than good if I kept going. I turned for home and slipped into a relaxed jog. To make sure I spent plenty of time walking and letting things relax after the run, I stopped to walk the last mile home.

Today's planned 13 Miles turned into a very uncomfortable 8 Miles. So I finished a month of training in intense heat with a week of chest and back pain with two skipped workouts and one workout cut short. Things can only get better from here, right?

Goal For The Day: Rest and Recover.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Goal For The Day: Long Run
Distance: 8.00 Miles.
Time: 1:01:00. 7:37 Avg. (7:26, 7:24, 7:15, 7:20, 7:24, 7:49, 7:57, 8:20).
Route: To Route 66 Park/1 Lap/Home
Conditions: 77 degrees/humid at the start. 8:00AM.

Notes: My chest feels fine now but my back is all messed up. Last week's 12 Miler was so encouraging. It makes this week's Long Run even more frustrating. I'll call the doc tomorrow to schedule an appointment. Tomorrow's another day of rest. Hopefully, I'll be ready to go by Tuesday. Hopefully, August will be a better month. (Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, Cindy.)

Daily Miles: 8.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 156.84 Miles.
  Bike  67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Rest For My Chest

Wednesday afternoon I started to notice a familiar pain developing in my chest. For 6 or 7 years, I've had these unexplained periods of chest pain. I'll have a day of my chest feeling odd and then 3-4 days of pain along my sternum. The first time it happened, I thought I was having a heart attack. I've had all kinds of tests run and no one has been able to diagnose it. The best that doctors have been able to tell me is that my heart seems fine and they haven't found anything life threatening.

The pain comes and goes in basically the same amount of time. It's probably only happened 5 or 6 times in 7 years and it's been a while since my last occurance. I don't even go to the doctor for it anymore, I just wait it out.

At this point, I'm pretty convinced it's either muscular (some kind of strain) or a respiratory problem. I have a slight deformity in my chest muscle. It doesn't seem to affect me but for all I know, it could be related to this weird pain. The reason I suspect a respiratory problem is that the pain is dead center on my chest and hurts more when I inhale deeply.

I'm not always good about following my own advice. I tend to run through things I would suggest other people rest for. If Liz were experiencing pain like this, I would definitely recommend she take a break from training and not push it (and probably to see a doctor). I decided that it was better to have a brief interruption in my training to get past this than to try pushing through it and end up having to take a full week off.

So I skipped my workouts yesterday and today. So far, it seems to be helping and I feel better today than I did yesterday. I don't know if I'll try sneaking in a few easy miles tomorrow morning or if I'll just plan to pick up my training with a Long Run on Sunday.

I've been more consistent than usual with my training so far. I've been working hard at the speedwork. I'm trying to be smart about my training this time around and I think taking a couple of days off is the best thing to do right now.

Thursday & Friday
Goal For The Day: Rest and Recover.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 148.84 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Little Things

I've already said that the little things in life are important. Taking a cold shower after a hot run, taking a hot shower after a cold run, taking a post-run nap on the floor, driving with the air conditioner on and the windows down... the little things help make running fun.

The little things can also make for a tough day. Today's workout was pretty rough but not because of any major problems. It was a few little things that came together to make for a tough morning. I struggled with a combination of a cut on my foot, feeling fatigued, and dealing with last night's dinner.

The Cut: I cut my foot somehow over the weekend. It's kind of on the underside of my big toe's 'knuckle' and it's a tiny little cut that I don't even feel most of the day. But after I've run for a while, that tiny little cut starts to sting and it's developed a small blister that's even more of a nuisance. I feel like it affects my stride more than a sore muscle would.

Fatigue: I was feeling a little tired this morning but my legs were where I noticed the fatigue the most today. I think going straight into the week's training without a day off after my Long Run caught up with me today. I've done this in training before and I usually run through it, but today was one of those days the fatigue makes itself known. I wasn't exhausted by any means... just annoyingly tired.

The Food: Liz and I took Mom and Rick to the Cardinals game last night. It was a good game and we brought home a winner! A hot dog, nachos, and peanuts don't make for the best training fuel though. I didn't give it much thought until I started my workout and I realized I probably should have taken a bathroom break before I left the house. I wasn't at risk of a Code Brown, but I was feeling sluggish and heavy.

Each of these things would be fine by itself, but the combination made for a 'bad day'. Some days feel unusually good and effortless. Some days just feel rough.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 5.00 Miles.
Time: 6 x 800m (2:49, 2:44, 2:46, 2:46, 2:49, 2:47) 2:45 breaks.
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 81 degrees/humid. 7:15AM.

Notes: 1 Mile warm-up, 6 x 800m. 1 Mile cool-down. Goal was 2:45 each. Felt tired and sluggish. Wasn't breathing well. Inhaled a bug on #4 and choked a little. Was looking forward to a slightly slower pace after last week's 400's. Just didn't feel right today.

Daily Miles: 5.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 148.84 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recovering On The Run

Yesterday would have been a day off but scheduling changes meant moving my Long Run back a day. So I got in 12 Miles yesterday morning and I would normally take a day off after a Long Run. But I'm feeling good after yesterday's run and I want to keep going while I'm on a roll. So instead of skipping today's 6 Miles, I just cut it back to 4 Miles and skipped a day of rest.

(I TOTALLY look like that in picutres with my shirt off... or at least I would if I knew how to use Photoshop.)

Yesterday's 12 Miler was one of those reassuring Long Runs that makes you think you're right on track. It was also nice to exercise a little more control over my pace after Sunday's race got away from me. I tried to keep with the trend by getting in 4 solid miles to start this week's training. I tried to keep the pace fairly consistent and up-tempo without running too hard.

I definitely felt a little soreness over the first 1/2 mile. My quads reminded me that I did, in fact, skip my day of rest. But I loosened up quickly and the rest of the run went pretty well. It always feels good to break up some of that lactic acid with a short run.

I think of my training weeks as running from Monday through Sunday but yesterday's Long Run is just last week's workout bleeding over into this week's schedule. So, in my head, today's 4 Miler was the beginning of my week. A nice, relaxing start!

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 28:57. 7:14 Avg. (7:15, 7:01, 7:18, 7:19).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop.
Conditions: 76 degrees. 6:45AM.

Notes: Still a cooler morning but humid. The rest of the week is only going to get hotter.

Daily Miles: 4.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 143.84 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Uneven Dozen

After yesterday's race, I was determined to be more sensible about my pace on today's Long Run. The schedule calls for 12 Miles but I decided to run the Allenton Loop twice. It's a little over 6 Miles around the loop, so I ran the course and didn't worry about stopping the watch right at 12.

It was about 10 degrees cooler this morning than it has been for the past couple of weeks and it made a HUGE difference. The first lap around the loop was especially comfortable. The sun snuck a little higher on the second loop and the sweat started to pour, but it was still better than it has been.

I ran the first lap at a good clip and decided I wanted to run the last mile-and-a-half of the second lap hard(down 5th Street from Six Flags). I probably thought too much about that last stretch because I took the few miles before that a little too easy. But I covered the last 1.5 Miles at a 6:53 pace. It felt good to know I could finish well after running that many miles at a good pace.

Goal For The Day: Delayed Long Run.
Distance: 12.52 Miles.
Time: 1:30:09. 7:12 Avg. (7:20, 7:01, 7:06, 7:12, 6:58, 7:03, 7:25, 7:24, 7:24, 7:24, 7:19, 6:53, 3:33*)
Route: Allenton Loop x 2.
Conditions: 75 degrees at the start! 6:45AM.

Notes: My Long Runs are supposed to be 30-45 seconds slower than my goal pace for the marathon. I'm going against that philosophy by trying to stay close to Goal Pace. It's against what I tell other runners to do, but at this point, I'll try to keep my average under 7:17 on my Long Runs... at least until I get into the really high mileage.

Daily Miles: 12.52 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 139.84 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Race Report: Opening Act 5K

For years, St. Louis has hosted two major marathons every year. The Go! St. Louis Marathon is every April and the Lewis & Clark Marathon was every September. But this year, things are changing. The Lewis & Clark race is no more. In it's place, St. Louis will be hosting it's first marathon in the Rock 'n' Roll series this October.

I won't be running St. Louis' Rock 'n' Roll Marathon this year because I'm running New York two weeks later. Liz and I are volunteering at the race instead. With all of the marathons I've run, I've never volunteered at a race and I'm looking forward to cheering runners on for a change.

As a warm-up for the Rock 'n' Roll marathon, Fleet Feet sponsored the Opening Act 5K today. To stick with the rock 'n' roll theme, they had a couple of DJ's on the course playing music and a band named 'Surrender Dorothy' played a post-race concert.

The race started at 8:00am and they were expecting around 1,500 runners so Liz and I got to the parking lot a little after 7:00am. Between the large number of participants and the half-mile walk to the starting area, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time before the start of the race. Of course, as is my habit, I planned too much time and we were able to sit around a while before the start.

It was a hot morning but I was still hoping to run well because I expected a flat course. The race was in Chesterfield and every race I've ever run in Chesterfield has been pancake flat. To cut down on congestion, Fleet Feet staged runners in corrals based on their predicted finish times. Each corral was allowed to start about one minute after the corral in front of them. That way, the mob of runners was staggered right from the start. I was in the first corral and Liz was two corrals back.

The good thing about starting at the very front of a race like this is I don't have to worry about getting boxed in behind slower runners and I can keep an eye on how many people are ahead of me. The bad thing is, I have a tendency to front-run and take off too fast in the first mile. I have a really bad habit of taking off too fast... feeling like I'm managing my pace but I'm not. I stay as close to the front as I can but I usually burn myself out and spend the last part of the race just trying to hold on the best I can. At that point, I'm hoping to keep as many people from passing me as possible. In and ideal race, I would take the first mile easy, run negative splits, increase my speed as the race went on, and spend the last part of the race running people down.

Today I went out too fast.

I knew going into the race that they were only giving awards to the top 5 finishers. No age group awards today. Normally, I wouldn't expect to finish in the top 5 unless it was a much smaller race, but I thought I would see how it went. Very early on I found myself in 6th place and thought the pace was manageable. I reached the first mile marker at 6:11 and realized I was moving faster than I thought. I also started to realize that I was mistaken when I expected the course to be flat. We were basically running the roads around Chesterfield Mall and it was hilly. I'm used to hills and this was tough.

(I found this elevation map for the race but I don't think it does justice to how hard the hills were.)

I was moving up and made my way into 4th place but I was also starting to feel hot and tired. I was breathing too hard and knew this probably wasn't going to end well. I ran the second mile in 6:22 but I could feel the meltdown coming. I had gone too fast too early and the heat and hills were getting to me. Between miles 2 and 3, I slipped to 5th and eventually 6th place. With a half mile to go, I was passed and fell into 7th. I was able to put on a burst near the finish and cross just ahead of that last guy to finish in 6th place but with the chip timing, I finished 7th by 2 seconds in a time of 20:04. I ran the last 1.1 miles in 7:31. I was 21 seconds away from 5th place.

It was a good time considering the heat and the course but it could have been much better if I had run a smarter race.

After grabbing a bottle of water, I went back to cheer Liz down the home stretch. She ran 32:50... a great time for her considering the conditions. She mixed in some walking and her knee was acting up again today and she still ran a good time.

After the race, we hung out to listen to the music and take advantage of the post race snacks (water, soda, chips, cookies, bananas, and sweet rolls). We chatted with some friends (congrats Erin, Sharon, and Margo) and enjoyed Chesterfield's new amphitheatre.

It was a fun race but I'm craving cooler weather.

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 3.10 Miles.
Conditions: 85 degrees/humid. 8:00AM.

Time: 32:50. 10:35 Avg.
448th out of 1,035 Finishers.
220th out of 675 Women.

Time: 20:04. 6:28 Avg.
7th out of 1,035 Finishers.
7th out of 360 Men.

Notes: Can't remember another 5K with more hills. The heat and humidity were awful. I keep underestimating Liz's ability to cope with tough race conditions. She still turned out a time faster than I expected. Feeling good about my fitness but I should race smarter. A concrete at Culver's tonight and my Long Run tomorrow morning!

Daily Miles: 3.10 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 127.32 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gear Check - RoadID

In 2007, I was almost hit by a drunk driver while I was out for a run. I was in my apartment complex and on the sidewalk a block from my apartment. A car came around the corner, hopped the curb, missed hitting me by about three feet, smashed into a light pole, drove up and over the pole, and slammed into a parked car.

I ran to the driver's side door to see if the woman driving was okay. As I got up to the car, she backed her car up over the light pole and continued driving into the parking lot with me and a couple other people chasing her. The woman parked and stumbled out of her car just around the corner from my apartment. I asked if she was okay and tried to get her to stay still in case she was hurt and didn't know it.

When the woman realized she had been in an accident, she actually got back in the car and was going to drive away. I took her keys and tried to explain she could be hurt and shouldn't be moving. She was trying to explain that she hadn't had that much to drink when the police arrived. They put her in handcuffs and explained that she had already hit two other cars at the gas station a mile away where she was buying more vodka.

This is the poor guy's car she hit (after Ameren came to take the light pole off of it):

I can't remember when I first heard about RoadID, but I rarely go for a run or bike ride without it. Most people don't take any identification with them when they leave the house for a workout. If anything were to happen to them, whoever tried to help would have no idea who they are or who to call. RoadID is a way to keep important personal information with you in the event of an emergency.

RoadID makes several kinds of ID you can wear. I have a dogtag with my Name, Home Town, Emergency Contact Phone Numbers, My Blood Type, and "No Regrets" printed on the front. You can also choose a quote or design for the back. My tag says, "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

Liz has the velcro band she can wear around her wrist or ankle.

RoadID makes several kinds of ID you can wear. I like the dogtags, but some people don't like that they bounce a little during a run. Liz's band gets pretty sweaty over the course of a run. Each ID has pros and cons and which you buy depends on personal preference. The important thing is to have emergency information with you when you need it.

Cars have come close to hitting me, people have thrown things at me, I've fallen off of my bike, I run in ridiculous heat. Any number of things could happen that would leave me unable to tell people who I am or who to notify if I'm hurt. Road ID could be the difference between my family meeting me at the hospital and me being admitted as a John Doe.

Goal For The Day: Rest.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: Tomorrow is the Opening Act 5K in Chesterfield. I'll move my Long Run to Monday morning.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 124.22 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Air Cranked Up And The Windows Rolled Down

Earlier this week, I talked about how little I like running 400 meter repeats. I know I'm getting a lot out of the workout, but it's not the most fun part of my training schedule. Keeping with the 'glass half full' theme, there are some benefits to running Bannister Repeats.

On a day like today, I'm hot, running hard, and by the end of the workout I'm exhausted and drenched in sweat. The great thing about working that hard is that when you're finished, just sitting still suddenly feels like heaven. I Love showering after a long run and then taking a nap on the floor. I Love how good it feels to just be still after forcing yourself to move for so long. I Love how easy it is to breathe after making your heart and lungs work so hard.

Eureka's track is just over two miles from my house and I've been driving to and from my speedwork sessions to save time in the morning. I've found a nice way of rewarding myself on the way home after a hard day at the track. I like to open all the windows and turn the A/C all the way up for the drive home. The A/C is blowing cold air in my face and the wind is whipping in the windows and it just feels awesome.

(I wonder if kids today even know why we call it "rolling" the window down.)

Sometimes, you have to find joy in the little things in life.

Goal For The Day: Bannister Repeats
Distance: 3.50 Miles.
Time: 6 x 400m. (1:17, 1:15, 1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:16). 2 minute breaks.
Route: Eureka H.S. Track
Conditions: 85 degrees/humid. 7:15AM.

Notes: Goal was 1:15 each. I was running a little behind this morning and didn't feel like doing today's workout. I guess it was a good week to feel inspired. I took the first interval too easy and hoped I would magically be on pace... I wasn't. Picked it up through the middle 4 intervals. #6 was pretty sad.

Daily Miles: 3.50 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 124.22 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Because I Can

There are a lot of reasons I run. I've already talked about how I find it relaxing, it helps me feel energized, I like the challenge, I like the alone time, I like the community of runners, I like spending some time with Liz, I like feeling strong and healthy. But the most basic reason I run is because I can.

George Mallory was once asked, "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?" He famously replied, "Because it is there."

I already talked about how running gives me a very defined sense of mortality... I know I won't be able to do this forever. But that's one of the reasons I run so much. Because I still can.

"Runners are much more in tune with the winding-down process...  ...Your average citizen these days isn't that connected to the physical realm. Builders, farmers, your grandfather probably was more than most. In an older time, with say manual agriculture or hunting-gathering, you always knew how much less you could carry than a year ago. Or how much less far you could ride or walk. Believe me, when dinner depends on running game to ground, you notice pretty quick when it starts to get harder....  ...Modern civilian though, things happen too slowly to notice. Jeeminy, when did the basement steps get me wheezing? Am I old or just out of shape? And if you were never in shape, is there any difference?...  ...Whereas we can just watch ourselves slowing down like there's a gauge on the dashboard...  ...People don't realize what it's like to be in a sport where you can compare yourself so easily with guys in Europe, guys in Africa. Or even with guys from a different generation. Or with your own younger self." -- Bruce Denton in Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr.

This week seems to be filled with reminders of how fortunate I am to have my health and the ability to pursue my goals.

My Dad died of a heart attack 5 years ago. It was sudden and unexpected. In the morning he was here and that night, he was gone. Last Friday, a friend of mine lost her father to cancer. I went to the visitation Monday night at the same funeral home as my Dad's wake. It was the first time I had been back to that building and I was flooded with memories of the days after he died. We never know how long we have, so I try to make the most of my time.

Then Sportscenter of all things tugged at the ol' heartstrings this week. They're doing special segments in conjunction with the Make a Wish foundation. So far, I've seen a 16-year-old boy with a blood disorder who has had multiple surgeries and a stroke that left him with limited functioning over the left side of his body. He was able to meet and play catch with Tim Tebow.

Today, an 8-year-old with leukemia met professional surfer Bethany Hamilton in Hawaii and learned to surf. Not only is the 8-year-old battling cancer, but Bethany Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack and is still surfing professionally. How can I not get up off of the couch after seeing that?

Heck, even the Old Man in the green shorts (today they were blue) gets out in the heat for a walk!

Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's humid. Yes, I enjoy sleeping in. But I also Love running and cycling and swimming and challenging myself. Right now I can do those things. So I do.

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 6.00 Miles.
Time: 43:13. 7:12 Avg. (7:25, 6:44, 6:54, 7:05, 7:18, 7:43).
Route: Kircher Park Loop.
Conditions: 85 degrees/humid. 7:15AM.

Notes: I saw the Old Man again. He does, in fact own different shorts! Today felt pretty good. Starting to find my rhythm again. Heat was getting to me in the last mile, but still manageable.

Daily Miles: 6.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 120.72 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Puking Race

When I was in high school, I was not a fast runner. We didn't have a lot of runners on our track team so most of us ran anywhere from two to four races at every track meet. I mostly ran some combination of the 800m, Mile, and 2 Mile... sometimes as individual races, sometimes as part of a relay. Every now and then, we would be so short on runners, I would be asked to run a 400m. I hated the 400m. It's a race for people much faster than I am. For me, it was basically sprinting as fast as I could for a full lap around the track. I really can't sprint effectively at any distance longer than 200m so I was really sprinting for half a lap and then trying not to die for the last half-lap. It always felt horrible and I always spent several minutes gasping for breath afterward. I called it the Puking Race.

I still don't like running 400 meters at a time. It's a good workout and I know it's helping my racing speed, but I don't have to like it. And racing a 400 is definitely different (i.e. worse) than running 400m intervals. My intervals aren't all-out efforts. They're at a deliberate pace that's somewhat more manageable.

This week's workouts have become a bit of a scheduling problem. I looked at my Wednesday workout and saw that the schedule calls for 400m repeats. Since I already do 400m repeats on Fridays, I wasn't looking forward to doubling up on that workout this week. Then I remembered that Liz and I are registered to race a 5K this weekend and I thought the race was Saturday. So I planned to run 400's today, 6 Miles tomorrow, take Friday off, race Saturday, and do my Long Run Sunday.

Unfortunately, the race is Sunday morning... not Saturday. So now I'll likely still do 400 repeats Friday, rest Saturday and race on Sunday. But that displaces my Long Run. I'm scheduled for 12 Miles Sunday and I would normally go for a 9-miler sometime after the race, but it's still supposed to be a hot one Sunday and a late day run doesn't sound good. It looks like I'll be postponing my Long Run until Monday morning.

It's not ideal, but I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday and when you train for months at a time, the schedule gets moved around a bit every now and then.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork
Distance: 3.50 Miles.
Time: 6 x 400m (1:13, 1:13, 1:15, 1:14, 1:13, 1:14).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track
Conditions: 82 degrees at the start, 86 degrees at the finish. It got very hot very quickly! 7:15AM.

Notes: 1 Mile warm-up. 6 x 400m. 1 Mile cool-down. Goal was 1:15 each. Felt good and it showed in my times. Might be because I'm improving, might be because I usually run this workout at the end of the week. We'll see how Friday goes. The track is getting crowded. Even more boys out today. Some girls were out for a team workout for the first time. Then tennis started showing up. That's a lot of people to have around while I'm running. Awkward.

Daily Miles: 3.50 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 114.72 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Never Ending Hill of Doom

Today, my Middle Distance moved up to 6 Miles. Normally, I'll knock out 6 Miles by running to Kircher Park and back. Today, I felt like keeping it relaxed and changing courses so I made my way to Camp Wyman.

The beautiful thing about running to Camp Wyman is that it's on a flat, quiet, shady, back road lined with trees, a creek, and some amazing houses.

But everything comes with a price. The road to Camp Wyman is remote and shady but it's also at the bottom of what I like to call "The Never Ending Hill of Doom". It's almost impossible to go for a long run in Eureka without running into hills, but I think this is the most intimidating hill in town. It seems to go on forever, it's really steep, and it turns several corners so every time you think you're at the top, you come around a turn and see... even more hill.

It was a fair trade-off today. I just stayed relaxed and didn't push the pace, treating myself to a scenic run in the shade. In return, I had to run up the Never Ending Hill of Doom. Fair enough.

As a special treat, I got to see my Middle Distance Old Man. (I hope he never reads this and takes offense to calling him an 'old man'.) He must have gotten off to a late start this morning because I was heading home before he even got to the hill where we've been passing each other. I thought it was funny that he was wearing the exact clothes I described in my last post about him (green shorts, tall white socks, and a towel draped over his neck), so I shot a quick video as I ran by and said hello. Then I realized that I have three pair of the exact same running shorts so I've probably been wearing the same clothes every time he sees me too. I caught him by surprise this morning, so he didn't share any advice this time.

After work, I went to the gym and did a little lifting until Liz met me for a swim. Usually, swim teams are taking up the lap lanes in the outdoor pool so we're confined to one lane in the indoor pool. I don't know if it was too hot for practice, but there was no swim team today so I was excited to have the opportunity to swim outside. That excitement was short lived.

It was still crazy hot and humid so I was looking forward to jumping into the cool water. Unfortunately, the water was the warmest pool water I've ever swam in. It was absolutely no relief from the heat and was surprisingly uncomfortable. It was odd how hard it was to breathe with the water that warm. It was actually hard to tell when to breathe because I would turn my head to take a breath and I couldn't tell a difference between the hot, wet air and the hot, wet water. Blah.

After 300m, we retreated to the indoor pool and the water felt luxuriously cool by comparison. Another 450m indoors and then I left for home while Liz took her turn at lifting.

A productive start to the week!

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance
Distance: 6.00 Miles.
Time: 45:40. 7:36 Avg. (7:28, 7:32, 7:33, 7:11, 8:03, 7:48)
Route: Camp Wyman Loop.
Conditions: 81 degrees/humid. 7:00AM.

Goal For The Day: Swim
Distance: 750 meters. (5 x 150m).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Pools

Notes: Slower pace on my run but it was nice to go for a relaxing morning run. The heat wasn't as bad this morning. It was nice to get back in the pool tonight.

Daily Miles: Run - 6.00 Miles. Swim - 750 meters.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 111.22 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Motivation Monday - Running On The Sun

Today is a scheduled day off but I feel like mowing the lawn this morning should have counted as a workout. I know I sound like a broken record, but it's hot out there. The forecast for this week:

That's a little ridiculous. It's weeks like this that make it hard to get out and get the miles in. I'm always looking for ways to stay motivated at times like this and I've amassed quite a collection of books and movies about running that help keep me going. I thought I would occasionally post about some of the things I do to keep my motivation up. Given the weather, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the movie, Running on the Sun.

Running on the Sun was made in 2000 and is a documentary about the Badwater Ultramarathon. Technically, anything longer than a marathon is considered an ultramarathon. The Badwater happens to be 135 miles long and it's run through Death Valley every July. It's hard for me to imagine a more horrible idea.

The movie follows several runners through their experience at Badwater. It's inspiring to see such a variety of people push themselves to such extremes. It's also gross. The temperature can get so high during Badwater that runners have to run on the white stripe on the side of the road or the rubber on their shoes will start to melt. That kind of heat over that kind of distance does some pretty disgusting things to the body. The movie involves some especially nasty footage of people dealing with blisters on their toes.

Running that kind of distance in that kind of heat is also pretty amazing. I always get a little misty eyed when the runners finally cross the finish line.

I've watched Running on the Sun several times and it's inspiring every time. An ultramarathon of some kind might be in my future, but I have absolutely no desire to run one in that kind of heat. Badwater will always sound crazy to me, but I'm always up for watching other people run it!

Goal For The Day: Rest
Distance: 0.00 Miles

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 105.22 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

100 Mile Blog and Ready to Build

Today was the last day of the 'Base Mileage' Phase of my training schedule. My Long Run was 8 miles this morning and I faced the heat to close out my week of training. Here's the breakdown for the rest of the schedule:

Build Phase 1 (3 weeks + 1 recovery week)
Build Phase 2 (3 weeks + 1 recovery week)
Peak Phase 1 (3 weeks + 1 recovery week)
Peak Phase 2 (1 week of peak mileage)
Taper Phase (2 weeks)
Race Week

It's nice to have the Base Phase behind me but now the mileage will start adding up. Today I broke the 100 Mile mark for this blog and I have hundreds to go before the marathon.

The week ahead is forecasted with a high of at least 100 degrees every day so even my morning runs will be in the 80's. I'm just trying to remind myself that running in the heat now will make running in New York in November feel easy. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right?

After my run, I took a quick shower to cool off but then turned right around and went back out with Liz. She's borrowing my friend's road bike (thanks, Sharon) and we drove back to Rte. 66 to take the bikes for a short ride. Liz has a hybrid bike that has treated her well but she's getting more serious about her riding and is thinking about upgrading to a road bike. She hasn't really ridden a road bike before so she took my friend's bike out to see if she liked it. It was also her first trial run at wearing clips on her pedals.

It was a short experiment because of the heat, but it went well and I have a feeling there's a road bike in Liz's future soon.

The rest of the day has involved hiding from the heat. I made a banana shake with some cookies 'n' cream protein supplement and sat down to watch the Women's World Cup Final. It was the best game of soccer I've ever watched even though the U.S. lost. The Ironman Championship is on the DVR so it'll be more inspirational sports television tonight!

Goal For The Day: Long Run
Distance: 8.01 Miles.
Time: 1:01:02. 7:37 Avg. (7:23, 7:08, 7:16, 7:15, 7:23, 7:30, 7:58, 9:04)
Route: To Rte 66 Park/1 Lap/Home.
Conditions: 80 degrees at the start. 7:45AM.

Surprise Goal For The Day: Bike Ride w/ Liz
Distance: 5.17 Miles.
Time: 27:13. 11.4mph avg.
Route: Route 66 State Park.
Conditions: 85 degrees.

Notes: The run went well. 80 degrees isn't horribly hot but the heat wave we're in has me psyched out. I took it easy and didn't push the pace. I'm trying to be smarter about not pushing my Long Runs too hard. I even stopped to walk part of the hill on Central (hence the 9min pace for the last mile). The bike ride was much more comfortable. It's nice when you create your own breeze!

Daily Miles: Run - 8.01 Miles. Bike - 5.17 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 105.22 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going Vertical

Liz and I took on a new adventure today! One of Liz's dream challenges is to climb a mountain someday. In the meantime, any kind of climbing sounds like a good start. She got a coupon for 10 passes to the Upper Limits climbing gym for her birthday and we were finally able to schedule a class for this morning. (

We got to the gym at 10am and were taught the basics in the Rock Gym 101 class. We strapped on the harnesses, learned how to tie the necessary knots, and practiced working on belay. After the class, we were turned loose to climb around the gym.

There were 'paths' marked on the walls in different colored tape and each path was rated by difficulty. We didn't climb anything too crazy difficult today, but we definitely got a workout. Some of the more experienced climbers were friendly and shared helpful advice. (It's apparently common to hold your breath when you're high on the wall and struggling... I caught myself doing it several times.)

We learned that climbing shoes make a big difference in how well your feet grip the wall and hold you up. We'll have to rent some next time. We also learned that climbing a wall at the gym is easier if you're 6'3" than if you're 5'4". Most importantly, we learned that the climbing gym is a lot of fun and we can't wait to go back! We're excited to see if we can do some outdoor climbing when it isn't 100 degrees outside.

After the gym we stopped at the City Coffe House  & Creperie in Clayton for lunch. Liz had a BLT crepe and I got the Fiesta. A couple of very filling and super-delicious crepes capped a great morning.

So, a very different kind of cross training today!!! It was fun mixing things up!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles
Blog Totals:
  Run - 97.21 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Feelin' It

I've never trained for a marathon with two days of hard intervals each week. In fact, I've had trouble staying consistent with speedwork over the course of a full training schedule. After a long race on Sunday, this week's workouts have added up and today I was feeling the fatigue in my legs.

It's been a long time since training has made my legs feel this tired. I've been running for so long that it takes a lot to make my legs tired and sore. Usually, it's more of a general lack of energy that slows me down. Or I'll occasionally feel like my breathing can't keep up with my legs. But today, I was feeling a little sore and my legs were definitely having to work during the morning's intervals.

Even with intervals, my main problem tends to be running out of breath and feeling a full-body meltdown as I'm getting into the later intervals. It usually isn't my legs feeling especially worn out. Today, I could feel the heaviness in my legs from the first interval.

Today's plan was Bannister Repeats (8 x 400m). My times stayed consistent through all 8 intervals but the last couple of intervals felt very different from the first three or four. I started out feeling controlled and steady. By the last few intervals I was just trying to keep my cadence up and my form felt more awkward and strained.

I found this picture online and thought it was a great representation of my last few intervals today. Someone else at the track might have seen me running the same times throughout the workout, but I felt very different inside as the workout went on.

I felt good about getting through all 8 intervals not only because of the physical benefit of the workout, but because it was good mental practice. Now I'll know that I can still turn out a good, hard pace even when I'm feeling that tired.

Tomorrow is a day off before Sunday's Long Run so my legs will get a nice chance to rest and recover.

Goal For The Day: Bannister Repeats
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 8 x 400m. (1:15, 1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:16, 1:15, 1:15, 1:15). 2 minute breaks.
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 76 degrees. 7:00AM.

Notes: 1 Mile warm-up. 8 x 400m. 1 Mile cool-down. Goal was 1:15 each. Nice weather today. Cooler and less humid.

Daily Miles: 4.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 97.21 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gear Check - Nike Free Run+

There wasn't anything too unusual about this morning's run. It was much more comfortable outside this morning. Lower temps and lower humidity made for a nice 4 miles. It was nice to run without stopping today. Yesterday's intervals involved lots of sweating during the breaks. As long as I keep moving, the sweat keeps evaporating, so today was a pretty comfy run!

Since there wasn't anything too exciting about today's run, I thought I would do another gear check. Today, I'll take a look at my shoes.

I know it's the work and training that make me faster... not the shoes I'm wearing... but sometimes the right pair of shoes makes a big difference. I'm a fan of Nike and stick to them pretty exclusively. Over the years, I've worn a handful of shoes that I felt were really 'special' and each one made me think, "Nike, please don't change a thing... just keep making this exact shoe forever." Of course, they never do. I have yet to find a shoe that Nike doesn't at least modify in some way every single year.

In high school, I got a pair of Air Pegasus and called them my Magic Shoes (Forrest Gump was new back then). Not too many years ago, I fell in Love with a bright yellow pair of Air Elites. I even bought the follow-up versions of the Elites until they were discontinued a couple of years ago. Recently, Nike switched to the Lunar Foam in a lot of their shoes and moved away from the 'Air' cushioning system. I bought a pair of Lunar Glides and hated them. I don't have plans to ever return to the Lunar series.

Most recently, I bought a pair of the Nike Free Run+ shoes. I had been drooling over the Nike Frees for a while but was hesitant to make the switch to a shoe with so little cushioning. The current trend in running shoes is to go for a 'minimalist' feel... decreasing the amount of cushion and weight of the shoe and moving toward a more barefoot feel.

The Lunar Glides were a step in the minimalist direction (even though I hated them) and I Loved the feel of the Frees when I tried them on, so I bought a pair and slowly worked them into my training rotation. There's significantly less cushioning in the Frees, but it wasn't long before I was wearing them on every run.

I think the idea is for the Frees to be used in shorter training runs and speed work... not as a full-time running shoe. I definitely recommend newer runners only using them part-time until they're sure it won't cause stress injuries. I've been using them full-time and have worn them in several marathons with no ill effects.

They seem to be the most comfortable when I'm either at a slow jog or moving at a pretty good clip. Slower-to-middle paces require more concentration to make sure my feet are striking properly. This probably says a lot about my stride and mechanics at different paces.

I'm wearing last year's model of the Free Run+. Nike already made changes to the shoe for 2011 and I haven't tried them on yet so I don't know how they compare to the pair I'm wearing. In this picture, you can see the segmented tread on the bottom of the shoes.

Reebok recently came out with a similar design but I have a weird aversion to Reebok so I haven't tried them on. The next two pictures show how flexible the tread design and lack of cushion make the shoes. The idea is for the shoe to flex with the natural motion of your foot.

The low-to-the-ground, flex-with-your-foot, natural feel of the shoe makes them super comfortable. There's also no real tongue to the shoe. What would be the tongue is attached, so the shoes actually slip onto your feet and then the laces secure the fit as needed. If I didn't already have too many shoes, I would buy another pair just to wear around all day.

There are only two negative aspects to the shoe. One is that the tread is segmented but each segment is relatively smooth so the grip isn't the best on smooth surfaces. I've noticed a little slippage when I'm on the rubberized track at the high school (especially if the track is wet). This hasn't been a big deal so far, but you don't get the firm, sticky grip that some other shoes supply. Another problem is the segments Love to snag stray rocks. God help you if you run on a gravel trail in these babies. Most of the time, it's little pebbles I don't notice until I finish my run. Then I find a stick and go about popping them out from between the segments of tread. (I'll admit, digging out the rocks is oddly satisfying.) Every now and then, I'll pick up a bigger rock that gets wedged in and I'll hear it 'click, click, clicking' with every step. The big ones tend to eventually fall out on their own or get worn down until they're silent. This guy was with me for the last mile and a half today and he was noisy:

Overall, the Nike Free Run+ has been my favorite running shoe so far. I Love the minimalist feel and haven't had any problems with injuries. (Knock on wood.) In fact, I finally broke down and bought a pair of even more barefootish shoes... Vibram Fivefingers! I've been walking around in them but haven't taken them out for a run yet. We'll see how they turn out. Until then, I'm Loving my Frees!

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 28:42. 7:10Avg. (7:12, 7:02, 7:09, 7:15)
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop.
Conditions: 70 degrees. 7:15AM.

Notes: Great weather this morning. Tried to enjoy it while it lasts. The forecast for next week had a lot of 99's in it. Next week, Middle Distance goes up to 6 Miles!

Daily Miles: 4.00 Miles.
  Run - 93.21 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 Grand Workout

A few spotty storms came through last night and actually left it feeling semi-pleasant outside. I got to the track at 7:15am and it was only 75 degrees and cloudy! Of course, my warm-up mile reminded me that it was still humid and I spent the workout sweating buckets... but it's still an improvement over yesterday.

Today was 5 x 1,000m and the workout went pretty well. I made it through all but one interval before the track got a little crowded with the high school kids. They've been very gracious about leaving a lane open for me to use though. Excellent track etiquette!

1,000m is two and a half laps around the track. Long enough that my pace for each interval isn't back-breaking, but also short enough that I'm not out for a jog. Today's intervals were a little faster than I can sustain over an actual 5k, but the pace was close enough to my actual Race Pace that I kept daydreaming about having someone running off of my outside shoulder, chasing me to the finish line. I'm sure part of the reason races were creeping into my head is because I'm still in that special 'post-race window' following Sunday's tri.

I mentioned in Monday's post that I start Jonesing for a new race withing hours of finishing a big event. The craving hits especially hard if I didn't reach a goal I was shooting for. Part of the addiction is what I talked about yesterday... races remind me of how fun running is and when I finish a race, I want more.

Part of it is also the frustration of coming up short on a goal. I've felt the strongest desire to jump into a new race following marathons that I felt I was in shape for but something kept me from hitting the time I wanted. I missed 3:10 in Cincinnati by 4 minutes and it was pouring rain for the first half of the race. I missed 3:10 by 11 minutes in Chicago last year and it was HOT. Both times, I worked for so long and really thought I was in sub-3:10 shape. So after the race, I thought, "Why wait and start training all over again? Why not just find a marathon I can run two weeks from now and have another go in better weather?" (Incidentally, my friend, Paul, felt this same frustration after missing his goal in the Chicago heat... He ran another marathon a month later and set his goal PR!)

Unfortunately, marathons are expensive and usually require travel plans, so I haven't caved in to the craving yet. But you can bet that after a big race, I'm online checking race calendars for the next big event.

Apparently, this is a common effect. The day after we finished New Town, Liz was searching for more triathlons to do this summer. Anthony, (from talked about the same desire following his marathon in Minneapolis last month. I guess I'm not alone in my addiction!

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 5.10 Miles.
Time: 5 x 1000m. (3:26, 3:25, 3:26, 3:26, 3:24).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track
Conditions: 75 degrees/cloudy/humid. 7:15AM.

Notes: 1 Mile wam-up. 5 x 1000m. 1 Mile cool-down. Goal was 3:26 each. It was tough making myself start the first interval. Settled in and it was a pretty even effort throughout. I tended to fall off the pace by a few seconds and had to make it up in the last 200m of each interval. Could have been more consistent.

Daily Miles: 5.10 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 89.21 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dripping with Dedication

Continuing my post-race self-analysis:

I usually train for a marathon for 4 months or more. That's a long time to focus on a goal. And the longer I go in my training, the more running I'm doing. The distances get longer and it's more of a time commitment. Usually, that means it gets easier for me to talk myself out of going for a run as I get near the end of my training.

I've run enough marathons by now that I know what it takes to finish the race. And I never stop running even if I'm not technically "in training". So, I tend to use my experience to rationalize slacking off every now and then late in my training.

Then I actually run the marathon.

Without fail, I replay the race in my head (see yesterday's post) and find things I could have done better. I also look back on my training and think about how much better I could have prepared. I always walk away from a marathon wanting to get right back into it. I think, "Okay... when's the next race? Because this time I'll do that little bit of extra work and meet my goal for sure."

But it's not just about chasing a goal. Running the race also reminds me how fun this is. Thinking of running as 'training' can sap some of the fun out of it. Running a race brings some of the excitement back to it.

After Sunday's tri, I'm definitely feeling that renewed sense of excitement and renewed focus on my goal. The timing couldn't have been better because the weather is working against me this week. Today was the kind of day that makes 4 miles feel much harder than they normally would.

The high today was over 100 degrees with a heat index near 115. So when I left the house at 7:15 this morning, 83 degrees almost felt cool... almost. It's the stupid humidity that gets you. Today's run reminded me of the scene from "The Abyss" where Ed Harris puts on the diving suit that lets him breathe liquid.

It was like trying to run and eat warm soup at the same time. I'm not a fan of running when the air is so thick you can chew it so I was glad to still be on my post-race high. Otherwise, who knows if I would have tried to wiggle my way out of this morning's run.

Between the occasional race and updating this blog, I'm hoping to be more consistent training for New York than I ever have been in the past.

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 29:49. 7:27 Avg. (7:28, 7:08, 7:20, 7:49).
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop.
Conditions: 83 degrees/HUMID. 7:15AM.

Notes: Today's run was the same distance as the run portion of the tri. It was a good indication of how much the big hills and humidity slow me down. It was also a good indication of how well the hills of Eureka prepare me for running on flat race courses. Today was much slower than after swimming and biking on Sunday. Weird. Besides my renewed motivation, it helped that I thought this was the week I stepped up my Middle Distance to 6 miles... 4 miles sounded way better in this heat. Bonus!

Daily Miles: 4.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 84.11 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Post-Race Head Case

I think the amount of time it takes to prepare for an event is directly proportional to the amount of post-event mental disturbance I experience. I don't obsess much following a 5k, but that's because I can decide to run a 5k the morning of the race and run it without any extra preparation. Following a marathon is an entirely different story.

Today is a scheduled rest day following yesterday's triathlon. To be honest, I've had absolutely no trouble taking today off because it's 100 degrees and humid outside and I want nothing more than to soak up the beautiful air conditioning.

But just because I'm resting my body, that doesn't mean my mind has slowed down. I definitely have that post-race hangover that involves several things:
1) Repetitive Race Assessment
2) Renewed Enthusiasm and Dedication
3) Addictive Race-Seeking Behavior

I know yesterday's post was super long, so I'll just talk about the first post-race habit today.

Repetitive Race Assessment
When I got married, I was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the wedding day. It took months of preparation and work to create the event. After all of that work, the actual wedding seemed to fly by way too fast and it was over before we knew it. I think big races are similar.

I train for months to run a marathon. Liz and I trained for months to do the triathlon. And then the actual races are over in a matter of hours. It can seem a little anti-climactic if you don't learn to savor the event.

After a big race, I find myself reliving memorable moments for several reasons... One is to really take it all in and make the most of it. Another is to acknowledge any improvement I might have made after all of that hard work. But another reason I replay races so often is to look for things that I still could have done better... searching for wasted time I could squeeze out of my performance.

In a race that lasts as long as the marathon, there are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes. I have never finished a marathon and thought, "I couldn't have done that better. I didn't leave any time out on the course." I missed qualifying for Boston by just over 4 minutes when I ran the Cincinnati Marathon last year. I could name several times during that race that I could have made up that 4 minutes.

In fact, I've only run one Half Marathon that I was completely satisfied with. When I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon last year, I decided the night before the race that I was going to change my goal from just having fun with it, to having fun while seeing if I can run a time much faster than I thought I could. I set a goal that was very ambitious, took off hard from the start, never let up on the pace over the entire 13.1 miles, and finished in a time I didn't know I could reach. I still look back on that race and think I ran it the absolute best I could for the condition I was in at the time.

That feeling hasn't happened since.

And that's good, because it gives me another reason to keep training and working. I always feel like there's room for improvement.

So... Lessons I learned from yesterday's triathlon:
-Checking out the swim course the day ahead is a huge help for calming the nerves.
-Avoid a mob of swimmers by taking the turns wide on the swim course.
-I think I can get through a triathlon this length (or shorter) without socks. They took a long time in the transition area and I don't think I really need them.
-A second water bottle cage would be helpful on my bike for races this hot.
-Don't trust how fast I feel like I'm going in the run. I felt like I was running much slower than I was and I still could have run faster. I held back too much in the last two miles.
(Frazz by Jeff Mallett)

I had a great time yesterday and it was definitely a positive experience. I'm happy with how the whole day went and can't wait to do another tri. I just can't help going back over the race and trying to streamline my performance.

Goal For The Day: Rest
Distance: 0.00 Miles

Notes: The high yesterday was 99 degrees with the heat index between 112 and 115. I'm glad they schedule races early. We hid inside the rest of the day and I'm still a little tired today. It's even hotter today and looks to be a hot week. Back to marathon training tomorrow!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 80.11 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Race Report: New Town Triathlon

Success! We did it! It was crazy hot and definitely tough, but we did it!

We got up at 5AM and had the bikes loaded to hit the road by 5:45. It was an early start but we were treated to a beautiful sunrise.

New Town was already full of racers but we found a place to park and took our gear over to the transition area. The bike racks were set up by bib number so Liz and I set up on opposite sides of the transition area.

(Liz setting up in the transition area.)
(My gear set up in the transition area.)
(The view of the swim finish area from my spot in the transition area.)
After we set up our gear, we went to pick up our timing chips. I had never used a timing chip in a tri. It wrapped around your ankle with a Velcro strap. I felt sorry for the poor volunteer that had to take that sweaty thing off of me after the race.

They also put your bib number on your arm and your age on your calf. For some reason, having a race number written on me in permanent marker makes me feel cool.

(Liz getting marked for the race.)

A quick 'last call' stop at the porta-potties and we were ready to get started.

The Swim
This was the perfect triathlon for us to ease into the experience of open-water swimming. We lined up by bib number and they sent a swimmer into the water every 3 seconds. It really helped to keep us spread out and we were spared the experience of having people mobbing each other and getting punched and kicked while we were swimming. The only times it got a little crowded were when we turned corners on the course and when we got to the finish and people bunched up getting out of the water.

Liz was #191 and I was #229 so she was in the water first. I caught up to her almost halfway through the swim and, not long after that, she said she was feeling nauseous and considered taking a break in the shallows. Her stomach had been bothering her this morning and swimming in the disgusting water made things worse. (We smelled a little funky all morning because of the nasty green water.)

I talked Liz out of stopping and stuck with her while we changed strokes to recover a little. We used buoys as short-term goals and it wasn't long before Liz found her rhythm again. By the time we turned into the last straight away, she was back to form and I actually had trouble keeping up with her at the finish.

The Bike
After the swim, we parted ways to transition to our bikes. Both transitions went smoothly today but I was far from competitive in my transition times.

I ran my bike out of the chute and got on the road hoping to make up some time. I know I'm not a great swimmer but I was hoping to at least pick off some people on the ride.

At first, I was pleasantly surprised by the speed I was able to maintain. My bike computer was reading over 23mph and I was cruising pretty comfortably. I got about 10 miles into the 20 mile ride feeling really good. Then we turned into the wind.

The entire 2nd half of the ride seemed to be into a headwind. My speed dropped from 22 or 23 mph to 17 or 18 mph. The wind helped keep me from feeling hot even though the temperature was rising fast, but I noticed I was still sweating a lot. The last 5 miles seemed to drag by but I pulled back into the transition area pretty happy with my ride.

The Run
I put my bike back on the rack, changed shoes, grabbed a G2, and shuffled my way out of the transition area and onto the run.

I really need a new seat for my bike so my legs not only had that post-bike-ride heavy feeling, but my butt was stiff and sore so I was moving pretty slowly coming out of the transition. I worked up to a jog and waited for things to loosen up.

The run was two laps around a 2 mile loop but there weren't any mile markers and I was just wearing my Timex so I didn't have a clue what kind of pace I was running. By now it was really hot out and people were struggling on the run. I still felt like I was moving at a slow pace, but I was passing people consistently.

There were a decent amount of spectators along the run and everyone was cheering the runners on and trying to be encouraging. Some of the New Town residents set up their sprinklers in the street or stood in front of their houses with hoses to help cool off the runners. The race volunteers also had water stations and sponges soaked in cold water. It was awesome having the support along the course.

I picked up the pace for the second lap and felt good finishing the race. My watch read 1:57 when I crossed the line and I grabbed an ice cold bottle of water and turned my attention to figuring out how Liz was doing.

Liz's Finish
I hadn't seen Liz since we finished the swim and I had no idea how she was doing. I didn't know if her stomach was still bothering her, if the wind got to her on the bike, or if the heat was too much on the run. At our last triathlon a couple of years ago, Liz's knee forced her to walk almost the entire run portion of the race and I was hoping today would go better for her. I found Cara and Mike and hung out in some shade to look for Liz.

It wasn't long before I saw Liz come around a corner on her way to starting her second lap of the run. She looked like she was moving well and she was on pace to finish with a time much faster than she planned. I had snagged a cold bottle of water for her and passed it off to her as she went by for her second lap.

I still wasn't sure how she was feeling because she was so focused when she went by that she didn't talk much. I could tell the heat was bothering her, but she was still running well so I was hoping she wouldn't overheat in the last two miles.

Cara and Mike went to get their gear and some post-race snacks and I moved closer to the finish to cheer Liz in. Even with the heat, she made good time on her second lap and finished almost 30 minutes faster than her final goal time!!! In fact, she was cruising over the last 50 meters and I haven't seen her run that fast since she almost sat on a snake at the Lake.

We found a shady spot to sit in while she cooled off and recovered a little... savoring a good finish.

Post Race
I grabbed some of the post-race food and brought it back to our shady spot (sandwiches, cookies, pasta salad, bananas, a Coke, and a Sprite), but neither of us was very hungry yet. We nibbled and shared stories from the race until we were ready to grab our bikes and gear and head back to the car.

We stuck around for the attendance prizes and some of the awards but didn't win anything this time. The sun was baking hot by now, so we called it a day, loaded the bikes on the Outback, and cranked the AC for the ride home.

(I Love my Subaru!)
In terms of difficulty, I would rate marathons as the hardest thing I've done... a 15-mile trail race I ran in Kansas City as the second-hardest thing I've done... and this triathlon as a close third.

It was months of training but it all paid off well and I think Liz is becoming a tri addict. I'm also feeling good about my fitness level at this point in my training for New York.

It was an awesome race and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in doing a tri.

Goal For The Day: Race!!!

Time: 2:35:02.
574th out of 615 finishers.
203rd out of 226 females.
41st out of 47 females ages 25-29.
Swim - 27:22. (rate 2:57)
Transition #1 - 3:52.
Bike - 1:17:24. (15.3mph avg.)
Transition #2 - 1:48.
Run - 44:35. (11:08 avg.)

Time: 1:57:14.
218th out of 615 finishers.
165th out of 373 males.
33rd out of 71 males ages 30-34.
Swim - 25:31. (rate 2:45)
Transition #1 - 2:45.
Bike - 59:30. (19.9mph avg.)
Transition #2 - 1:36.
Run - 27:51. (6:57 avg.)

Notes: Liz's ultimate goal was just to finish the race. She thought it would take her about 3 hours. She hoped to finish the swim in less than 30 minutes, average 13-14mph on the bike, and survive the run. She finished in 2:35, averaged over 15mph on the bike even with the wind, and rocked the run even with the heat. I'm SUPER proud of her!!!

I wanted to survive the swim, average 18-19mph on the bike, and have something left for the run. Mission accomplished!

Daily Miles:
  Run - 4.00 Miles.
  Bike - 20 Miles.
  Swim - 1,000 meters.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 80.11 Miles.
  Bike - 62.51 Miles.
  Swim - 3,700+ meters.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Packet Pickup and Final Prep

Tomorrow's the big day! Liz and I went to New Town this morning to pick up our packets and take a peek at the setup we'll be dealing with tomorrow. It's about a 45min drive from our house so it'll be an early morning tomorrow.

The triathlon expo took over the pavilion in New Town and we arrived not long after the kids' triathlon. There were mini triathletes all over the place, enjoying post-race snacks and popsicles. It's supposed to be a hot one tomorrow (high of 95 degrees), and today was a good indication of how hot it will be late in the race.

We signed in and got our bib numbers and t-shirts.

(Awesome logo design!)

Then we went over to take a look at the transition area and the lake we'll be swimming in. The lake is more of a large, man-made pond than a lake. We actually got in for a short swim and tested the footing where we'll get in and out of the water.The water was pretty gross and very mirky. When I was swimming, I couldn't see my arms past my elbows. For the race, they're going to start a swimmer every 3 seconds so that should help keep us a little spaced out and cut down on people swimming over each other.

(Not her race attire, but it'll do for today!)

We also met up with my friend, Cara and her husband, Mike and their three boys. They're doing the tri tomorrow too and came to test the waters. I hadn't seen them in years and it was good to see an old friend. Hopefully, we'll get to spend a little time hanging out after the race tomorrow.

After our test swim, we grabbed a quick lunch and saw a movie. When we got home, Liz made an awesome pasta dinner and we relaxed in front of the t.v. It was a great pre-race day and we're rested and ready to go.

We just finished laying out all of our gear and going over a mental run-through of the transitions. Triathlons require a lot more gear and preparation than running.

Now it's off to bed for a good night's sleep and tomorrow, we'll swim, bike, and run!!! No matter how the race goes, I'm confident we'll both finish and I'm proud of us for taking on another new challenge.

Goal For The Day: Rest
Disance: 0.00 Miles

Notes: Ready or not, here we go!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 76.11 Miles.
  Bike - 42.51 Miles.
  Swim - 2,700+ meters.