Friday, September 30, 2011

Not Off The Wagon But Not On Track

My training has been going really well but my life has become very busy lately. Instead of making my training a priority and sucking it up to go for a run in the morning, I've been squeezing my training in around everything else in my schedule.

I didn't run at all yesterday. I slept in and then worked an 11 hour day. I was tempted to go for a quick set of Hill Repeats when I got home but it was 9pm and I knew I would only be running the workout because I didn't want another blank space on my training calendar... not because running at 9pm was a good idea.

Last year, I ran at least a mile a day as a random challenge to myself. There were a lot of days like yesterday where I was forcing myself out the door in the evening just to get that run in. I wasn't disciplined about scheduling my mile-a-day then, and I haven't been good about scheduling my training lately.


Today was more of the same. Instead of getting up early to go for the 10 miles I missed yesterday, I ran in the afternoon. I work shorter days on Friday because I work late on Thursday so I decided to run after work. The problem is, I also put off packing for a trip we're taking this weekend so I had to pack my things and load the car before I could go for my run. By the time I was packed, I didn't have time for 10 miles and had to cut it back to 6. The actual run went fine, but I'm starting to feel lousy about my time management when it comes to my training.

I have high hopes for October. I want to make some key adjustments to my routine to help make the marathon on November 6th my best yet. This is the time that I've really slacked off my training for some previous marathons and I want to go into this one feeling like I didn't hold anything back.

In October, I plan to get up and do more of my runs in the morning before work. I plan to miss fewer scheduled workouts and really get the most out of my remaining training. I plan to stop drinking soda and eating candy until after the marathon (I Love both but it's tradition to cut them out of my diet leading up to a marathon).

I'm still happy with where I am in my training and missing the past two days hasn't completely derailed me, but I'm seeing the familiar recurring patterns popping up and I don't want to fall into old habits.

Thursday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance (Postponed).
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Friday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 6.00 Miles.
Time: 40:36. 6:46 Avg. (6:35, 6:20, 6:48, 6:38, 7:10, 7:01).
Route: Kircher Park Loop.
Conditions: 73 degrees. 4:30pm.

Notes: I didn't feel bad about missing Wednesday but Thursday was just plain lazy. Then cutting today short because of poor planning was frustrating. I don't want to make excuses or rationalize missing days and then come up short on Race Day. Then I'll look back and wonder why I didn't just get up in the morning. I want to go into Race Day feeling like I prepared the best I could, no matter what the result is. Tomorrow is a new month loaded with opportunity.

Daily Miles: 6.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 381.42 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Postseason Priorities

I'm still avoiding early-morning running. I used last night's Middle Distance run as an excuse to save today's planned Hill Repeats until after work. I'm needing more sleep now that each run is getting longer and longer and I thought it best to sleep an extra hour this morning instead of getting up to run. How's that for rationalization?

The problem is, I didn't think about my evening plans. Liz and I have dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with some of our good friends every Wednesday after work. A couple of hours with good friends and free chips & salsa at El Nopal are a much needed pick-me-up in the middle of the work week. And tonight, dinner was followed by the final baseball game of the Cardinals' regular season.

It's been a roller coaster year for the Cardinals and things were looking pretty dreary at the beginning of the month. But thanks to a great string of wins (and the Braves falling apart), the Cardinals were suddenly in the hunt for the postseason!

(I Love seeing the birds on the bat in October!)

Instead of going for my run, I found a comfortable spot on the couch and cheered the Cards to victory tonight! This was easily the most exciting night of regular season baseball I've ever seen... probably more exciting than some days in the playoffs.

The Cardinals beat the Astros easily, holding up their end of the deal. The Braves, however, took their sweet time losing to the Phillies in 13 innings. I have to give the Phillies credit for playing so hard in a game that they really didn't need to win.

(Chris Carpenter is a stud.)

There was a similarly amazing story of comebacks and collapse in the American League as Tampa Bay made a miraculous run to beat the Red Sox for the Wildcard spot. Take that, Sox!

So the Cardinals are in the postseason and square off against the Phillies this weekend. The Phillies are intimidating but somehow, we won 6 of 9 against them this year so I'm feeling optimistic. (I'm always optimistic when it comes to the home team.)

No running today and today's post was a little off-topic, but sometimes priorities change and missing one set of Hill Repeats won't ruin my training. Now it's time for me and the Cardinals to have a great October!

Wednesday
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats (Skipped).
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: There's a chance we could see a Cardinals vs. Yankees World Series. How would that be for a side story to my trip to New York?

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 375.42 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Turning The Corner

My Middle Distance runs have been up-tempo and reassuring lately and today was no exception. Sunday's Long Run felt good and I hit my target time for 18 miles. This week is my first 'Peak Week' and I was curious to see how today's Middle Distance run would go after so many miles on Sunday.

As usual, my plans for the day were scrapped due to unforeseen scheduling problems. I wanted to run after work before meeting Liz for our Tuesday swim. Unfortunately, there was a really bad accident that turned the highway into a parking lot on my way to the gym. I decided to skip the swim altogether and just head home for my run. Liz continued on to the gym and swam alone.

I hadn't planned to run today's Middle Distance as fast as I had last week. I actually intended to keep it relaxed to see if there were any lasting effects from Sunday's run. Then I can pick up the pace later in the week if I'm feeling good. But once I got going, I found my relaxed pace was still under 7 minutes per mile.

This is what I've been waiting for. I've achieved this in my training once before and I'm hoping I've finally turned the corner. In yesterday's post, I talked about the brain's internal 'governor' that can send signals making you feel fatigue and pain in order to conserve energy for emergencies. It seems that my brain is finally learning that I know what I'm doing and I can run 6:45s without dying.

When I think about changes in my pace like this, I visualize a metronome keeping time in my head. It's as if this mental metronome sets the tempo for my 'Base Pace'. It keeps my feet moving in a specific pace range when I'm feeling relaxed. Until recently, my little time keeper would keep me going around 7:00 to 7:15 per mile without me exerting much extra effort. It seems like the metronome is ticking faster and my baseline pace has been moved to 6:45 to 7:00 per mile.


Hopefully, I can keep the tick-tock, tick-tock of my mental clock at this pace for the rest of my training. My Long Runs shouldn't be that fast, but I would Love for everything Middle Distance and shorter to be in the 6:40's now. That way, running 7:00 to 7:17 per mile will feel like a cake walk during the marathon.

Tuesday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 10.18 Miles.
Time: 1:09:20. 6:49 Avg. (6:50, 6:14, 6:45, 6:47, 6:41, 6:51, 7:43, 6:59, 7:08, 6:58, 1:20*).
Route: To Rte 66/2 Laps/Home.
Conditions: 67 degrees. 6:15pm.

Notes: Great weather lately! I need to go for more morning runs in October to get used to the chilly temps but these upper-60 runs are pretty darn nice! It's that time of year that running near sunset means returning home covered in gnats. NOT attractive!

Daily Miles: 10.18 Miles
Blog Totals:
  Run - 375.42 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's All In Your Head... Mostly

There are so many things in life that are less scary once you've done them. The unknown is intimidating. Once you've completed a new challenge, it loses some of the mystique and you wonder what kept you from doing it sooner. Triathlons were like that for me. I was intimidated by triathlons because I didn't know what to expect. Now I wish I had tried one sooner. Now I know they're a lot of fun and nothing to be scared of.

Marathons are different though. In some ways, my first marathon was easier, mentally, because I didn't really know how hard it would be. I didn't know what it felt like to feel so completely drained. I didn't know my legs could feel that heavy. I didn't know the last six miles could seem that long. I didn't know walking would be so difficult the next day. With marathons, I think experience can be a disadvantage... especially if your goal is a fast time. The marathon is such a daunting event that the mental challenge is as difficult as the physical challenge.

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." - Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist.

I only have two weeks of peak mileage left in my training. This week ends with a 20 mile Long Run. Then I have a recovery week before another peak week ending in a 22 mile Long Run. Then I have a few weeks of tapering to let my body recover for the race.

There is mounting evidence that Long Runs of 20 miles or more are not only unnecessary for marathon training, but can do more harm than good for some runners. Running that far can definitely take it's toll on your body and if you aren't prepared for it, you can injure yourself before you even get to the race. In fact, I've told plenty of people that if they can run a half-marathon comfortably, they can battle through a marathon. You don't have to run 20 miles to be able to run 26.2.

For me, these two Long Runs are about mental training. 26.2 miles takes a long time and it's easy to get bored or to psych yourself out. It's even possible for your brain to make you feel tired and sore because you've subconsciously done the math and your brain is worried that going farther or faster could cause damage. So your brain makes you feel exhausted and shuts down energy consumption to encourage you to stop. You might be physically able to keep going and you might have plenty of energy stored in reserve, but you won't feel like it because your brain acts as an emergency 'governor' to prevent injury.

The book Brain Training for Runners focuses on redefining your limits by training your brain not to push the panic button when you push to an extreme. It explains the mental component of training in a way that is easy to understand and offers training programs that prepare you for half or full marathons.


I have been interested in how far we can push the limits of human performance and how much those limits are defined by the physical versus the mental limitations of human beings. New records are being set all the time. Physical achievements that were once considered impossible are now routine and 'impossible' has been redefined. Some of this progress is due to improved physical training. We know more about the body and how to fine-tune and specialize it than ever before. But some of the progress also comes from a better understanding of the mind.

Here are two quick links to examples:

1) A Little Deception Helps Push Athletes To The Limit
This article is about a study that tricked cyclists into beating their own personal best performances. They repeatedly rode as fast as they could over a certain distance and eventually became familiar with their physical limits. They were then shown a virtual rider on a computer screen that they were told represented their best time. In fact, the virtual rider was programmed to ride significantly faster than each cyclist's personal best. Despite the increase in speed, the cyclists were able to keep up with the virtual rider. The cyclists rode significantly faster than they thought possible because they were tricked into thinking it was possible. The article goes on to explain other examples of tricking the mind into allowing the body to perform beyond its expected limitations.

2)Radiolab Podcast About Ultrarunner Diane Van Deren
Radiolab is an awesome podcast about interesting stories and science. I highly recommend it. (http://www.radiolab.org/) This particular episode talks about Diane Van Deren and her seeming advantage as an ultra marathon runner. (An ultra marathon is any race longer than a marathon... many are 50 or 100 miles long.) Diane is an interesting example of mind over matter because she is missing part of her brain. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and had brain surgery to remove part of her right temporal lobe in an attempt to control her seizures. Between the residual effects of the seizures and the removal of part of her brain, Diane's mental limitations might actually be an advantage to her as a distance runner. She has difficulty with time and memory. Some people suggest this makes it easier for her to run hundreds of miles at a time because her brain has no data to help her decide how tired she should be... she is constantly living in the moment with little concept of how far she has gone or how far she has left to go. Another theory is that her brain now processes emotions differently and she might have a different (or diminished) emotional reaction to pain. Whatever the cause, she is an interesting case study into the effects of the mind on performance.


For years, I've run the marathon while playing mental games to break up the remaining distance into manageable chunks. At 6 miles, I would think, "I just have to do that three more times." At 13 miles, "Halfway there!" At 15 miles, "Just 5 more until 20." At 18, "Run 2 and then 3 and 3." I did the math over and over, trying to make the miles I had left seem like small, achievable goals. The problem is, I was still going over and over the remaining miles in my head. I was constantly reminding my brain how much farther I had to go.

When I ran a marathon in Olathe, Kansas in April, I decided to spend as much time as possible completely focused on how I felt in the moment. Instead of playing with the numbers and thinking about the distance ahead, I did mental checks of how I felt at any given moment. "How am I breathing?" "How do my legs feel at this pace?" "Do I have a little something extra right now?" "Can I pick it up a little bit?" "Do I need to back off for a minute?"

I ran a 3:19... my second-fastest time... with only half of my usual training on a day with heavy winds that I just planned to run for fun.

So I have two very long runs left in my training. My plan is to use them less as an opportunity to prepare my body, and more as an opportunity to practice living in the moment and preparing mentally for the marathon.

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

Notes: I feel pretty good after yesterday's Long Run. My back is giving some indication of being tweaked, but nothing horrible yet. Lot's of stretching!!!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 365.24 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Figuring Out Fueling Issues

In the last two marathons I ran, I found using Gatorade's G1 Prime... stuff... very helpful during the race. G1 isn't quite a liquid like classic Gatorade, but it also isn't thick enough that I would call it a gel like GU. It's incredibly sweet-tasting and I Love it! It's actually intended to be used before a race, but I've found that I can delay hitting the wall by having a G1 pouch about every 6 miles during a marathon.


In the past two marathons, that worked out just fine because Liz is a Super Spectator and she does a great job as my support crew. She's awesome about finding ways to see me several times along a race course. That way I get the mental boost of seeing her and the added benefit of her handing me things I don't want to carry the whole race.

But in New York, the course is set up so that I probably won't be able to see her very often during the race. In fact, I might not see her until the last 4-6 miles. That makes fueling a problem.

Every race offers water and some kind of sports drink (Gatorade or Powerade) at regular intervals throughout the course. Then a lot of runner's find ways to carry whatever extra food and/or drinks they might want.

In the past, I haven't been very good about practicing for eating and drinking during the race. Now that I've figured out a fuel that I like, I've been practicing using it on my longer runs. So far, I've been able to stash pouches on my runs but now I have to practice how I'm going to carry them with me.

Years ago I bought a Fuel Belt because it was on sale for half-price. I took it home... tried it... and hated it. I just have too much bounce in my stride. That, combined with my lack of hips, causes any belts I wear while running to ride up. But I'm determined to figure this fueling issue out so I took all of the bottles out of my Fuel Belt and strapped in 4 G1 pouches for today's Long Run.


For the most part, the belt worked okay. It was most annoying for the first few miles and it still rides up, but I decided having it strapped around my belly wasn't horrible and left on in the hopes that I would get used to it. I drank a pouch every 6 miles, as planned, and the belt became more manageable with fewer and fewer pouches in it. But over the course of the run I was fidgeting with it a lot. It rode up, it rotated, it bounced. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it was definitely distracting and it affected my run more than I want it to. I know some people Love Fuel Belts and pouches like my Amphipod, but I just don't think they're good for me.

So the fueling problem remains. I'm considering getting one of those water bottles that has a strap for your hand. I'll just dump all of my G1 pouches in it and have a little every 6 miles. For some reason, carrying something like that doesn't bother me as much. Plus, one drawback of the G1 pouches is that they can be difficult to tear open when your hands are sweaty. Pouring them into a water bottle would eliminate that problem. So that might be part of my 20-miler next week.


Other than the belt being a distraction, today's run went pretty well. 18+ miles at a relaxed pace and boredom was a bigger problem than fatigue.

Sunday
Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 18.59 Miles.
Time: 2:18:49. 7:28 Avg. (7:35, 7:17, 7:08, 7:16, 7:06. 7:00, 8:01, 7:28, 7:16, 7:40, 7:25, 7:20, 7:55, 7:56, 7:30, 7:33, 7:28, 7:22, 4:25*).
Route: 3 x Allenton Loop.
Conditions: 47 degrees at the start but warmed quickly. 7:30AM.

Notes: Tough conditions to dress for. Good temperature but it warmed up quickly and then I was overdressed. After Friday's fast 10 miles, I wanted to make sure I wasn't overdoing it today. It felt slow, but that's how I'm supposed to pace the Long Runs. I wanted to run 18 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I hit the 18 mile mark in 2:14:23... right on schedule.

Daily Miles: 18.59 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 365.24 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gear Check - Nip Guards and Body Glide

I'm getting into the really long runs on my schedule so I thought I would talk briefly about the horrors of chafing. I can't count how many times I've seen people (mostly men) running a marathon with a bloody shirt from nipple chafing. You wouldn't think that the gentle friction from your shirt bouncing while you run could cause such agonizing pain, but a cotton t-shirt starts to feel like steel wool after hours of constant rubbing on your nipples.

Here are some sample photos of what nipple chafing can do.

There are plenty of ways to combat nipple chafing. Some people use lube (Body Glide or Vaseline are popular choices). Some people use bandaids. I've even seen guys cut holes in the front of their shirts.

Buying shirts made out of a smooth, performance-designed material (tech shirts) is a good start. But I've found that any run longer than 8-10 miles requires some kind of protection. So far, I've been happy with a product called Nip Guards. I've been using them for years and they definitely solve the problem.


Nip Guards are little stop-sign-shaped band-aids that have a ring of adhesive foam around the outside that actually raises the band-aid off of your skin. They kind of cover your nipples like little band-aid 'cups'. They might look a little odd poking through your shirt, but they definitely do the trick and it's better than wanting to cry every time a light breeze hits your bloody nipple.

For anywhere else on your body that rubs when you run, I recommend Body Glide. It comes in a stick that looks like deodorant and you just rub some on any place that might chafe. A stick of this stuff lasts a long time and it's pretty inexpensive. It's amazing how much a long run can be affected once you start to chafe and it becomes painful. A little bit of Body Glide and you have one less thing to worry about.

I find I can run longer during this time of year without chafing becoming an issue. But during the summer months, I sweat too much and anything over 6 miles requires some pre-planning to avoid painful wear and tear.

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

Notes: Gorgeous weather today. Tomorrow's Long Run should be great weather too. Six weeks to Race Day!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 346.65 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Two-Mile Rule Is In Full Effect

Yesterday's run left a bad taste in my mouth so instead of the usual Friday Bannister Repeats, I decided to go out for the 10 miles I should have done yesterday.

There's a half marathon in Vallmeyer, IL tomorrow that I was originally planning to run. It's a small race on a challenging course and it's the only half marathon I've ever run that is small enough that I can place in my division. I've run it several times and it's always a nice ego boost. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit into my schedule very well. If I run 13.1 miles tomorrow, what do I do about the 18 miles on the schedule for Sunday? I could tack on 5 miles after the race. Or I could just suck it up and run the 18 on Sunday anyway. But after much back-and-forth, I decided it was best to sit the race out. There's another half marathon in Crystal City, MO in a few weeks that fits into my schedule perfectly. I've never run it before so it will be a fun replacement race.

I was planning to use the Vallmeyer half to guage my fitness by comparing my performance to past times on that course. Since I'm not running the race, I decided to see what kind of time I could post on today's 10-miler.

I pushed the pace from the start and about 1/2 mile into the run, I thought I might be overdoing it. I felt like I was running a 5k and that's not a good feeling when you have 9.5 miles to go. But I decided to just wait and see how things developed. Sometimes when I start a run too relaxed and slow, I don't end up picking up the pace later. And sometimes when I go hard from the beginning, I'm able to maintain or increase the speed the whole time. I was feeling the strain of the effort through the first mile-and-a-half but I decided to honor the Two-Mile Rule and see if I could settle down.

The rest of the run was magic! My breathing settled down and I fell into a high-tempo rhythym. My stride wasn't too long, I was turning my feet over quickly, and I was just cruising! I also played around with my arm carriage and lowered my arms into a swing that just seemed to lock everything into a smooth, fast, gait. My breathing started to get a little labored a couple of times but I was able to recover every time and fall back into cruise control.

I ran 10.25 miles at an average of 6:34 per mile and I felt great! My personal best in a half marathon was last year's Disneyland Half. I averaged 6:31 per mile on a flat course with a ton of adrenaline. Today I averaged 6:34 with hills in the first and last two miles and no one to race.


Now that's more like it!!!

Friday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 10.25 Miles.
Time: 1:07:21. 6:34 Avg. (6:22, 6:19, 6:35, 6:35, 6:27, 6:28, 6:31, 6:35, 6:36, 7:02, 1:46*).
Route: To Rte 66/2 Laps/Home.
Conditions: 63 degrees. 4:00PM.

Notes: I didn't even look at my watch after mile 5. I didn't want to know. I just tried to stay in the zone and go by the feedback from my body. It worked out pretty well today! I don't think I could do that for another 16 miles, but I definitely had a lot left in the tank when I stopped. Just to compare recent Middle Distance training runs, here are my times on 10-mile runs:
9/13 - 10 mile time = 1:11:08 - ran 10.00 miles total - 7:07avg.
9/15 - 10 mile time = 1:11:35 - ran 10.00 miles total - 7:09avg.
9/20 - 10 mile time = 1:10:03 - ran 10.31 miles total - 7:00avg.
9/23 - 10 mile time = 1:05:35 - ran 10.25 miles total - 6:34avg.

Daily Miles: 10.25 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 346.65 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World's Tallest Dwarf

I've been incredibly tired the past two days. This is the part of my training that intentionally involves wearing myself down in order to prepare for the marathon. You never run a full marathon in a single training run so one of the ways marathon training programs build your endurance is by having you run several high-mileage runs in a single week. Then you run a Long Run to cap the week off. Even though the Long Run isn't 26 miles, you go into it already feeling tired so it simulates race conditions.

Well, I'm feeling sleepy today.


Yesterday's training plans were dropped due to another movie-viewing decision. My plan was to do another round of Hill Repeats after work. But then I remembered that Wehrenberg Theaters have been replaying some of the summer blockbusters for only $1 per ticket. Today was the last day and I hadn't taken advantage of the promotion yet so I convinced Liz we should go see a $1 movie last night. So, instead of an evening run, Liz and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for two dollars. The movie was better than I expected (I had low expectations) and it was definitely worth the price!



So no workout yesterday and then I slept later than I planned this morning. I didn't have time to run the full 10 miles that my schedule calls for but I made myself get out the door to get something in.

From the very beginning, my legs felt sluggish and I felt tired. It was a cool morning and my legs just felt stiff and unresponsive. Not only was I running a shorter distance than planned, but I had to settle for a slower pace because I just wasn't able to get my mind or body going this morning.

They can't all be good runs.

Wednesday
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats (Skipped).
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Thursday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 6.01 Miles.
Time: 45:58. 7:39 Avg. (7:47, 7:18, 7:30, 7:34, 7:37, 8:05, 0:04*).
Route: Kircher Park Loop.
Conditions: 52 degrees. 6:45AM

Notes: 6 miles of sleep-running. This was the first day this year that I didn't enjoy the cooler weather. I'll still take it over the heat, and most days I Love it. But today it just added to the urge to crawl back in bed. At least I got some miles in even if they weren't what I'm looking for.

Daily Miles: 6.01 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 336.40 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Steady Sevens

The plans for today's workout changed a couple of times as the day went on. Liz and I usually go to the gym on Tuesdays for a swim. I had 10 miles on the schedule today but decided I would just see how many miles I could get in before Liz met me at the pool and then the swim would make up for any lack of mileage.

Then our friends invited us over to watch Bridesmaids tonight and Liz and I decided to bail on the gym and just work out at home. I hadn't seen Bridesmaids yet but I heard it was good and we're always up for movies with friends.

In the end, I went home after work to run my scheduled 10 miles but Liz decided she still had time to fit in a swim so she headed to the gym.

I ran my usual route down to Route 66, ran two laps, and then ran home. It was one of those days that my pace stayed the same no matter what I did. I felt good but never went much faster or slower than seven minutes per mile. I even made an effort to run the last three miles a little faster. Unfortunately, what felt faster was actually still 7ish minutes a mile. The only sign that I was making more of an effort was that my pace didn't drop over the last mile-and-a-half like it usually does. (The last mile-and-a-half has a lot of uphill running so my last mile is usually my slowest.)

It was still a good workout and the pace was fine. I just felt like the amount of effort I put into it should have led to a better time.

Tuesday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 10.31 Miles.
Time: 1:12:06. 7:00 Avg. (7:00, 6:48, 7:06, 7:02, 7:01, 7:03, 6:59, 7:04, 6:51, 7:04, 2:03*).
Route: To Route 66/2 Laps/Home.
Conditions: 75 degrees. 6:00PM.

Notes: 7mins/mile is fine for 10 miles as part of a high-mileage week. I'd still like to be averaging under 7mins/mile without too much effort. Hopefully, I'll turn that corner soon. Liz swam 1,000 meters at the gym and Bridesmaids was "laugh out loud" funny. Good night!

Daily Miles: 10.31 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 330.39 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Motivation Monday: Gotta Have Heart

A good friend of mine had surgery last week and, like he said, he's one step closer to becoming Ironman. He was born with a heart defect and after much deliberation, he and his family decided to have a defibrulator implanted in his chest.


He says it's still sore but I was surprised by how quickly he has recovered following what I would consider an invasive surgery. They didn't have to crack his chest open but they still inserted a high-tech device inside him! Hopefully, he won't ever need it, but like I always say... "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it." Of course, I usually say that about things like duct tape, not a defibrulator in my chest.

It was awesome hearing about just how advanced the technology is and how far medicine has come. It also made me wonder what the future holds for treating heart conditions.

My friend just turned 30 and he's being proactive about his heart condition. My dad died from a heart attack at 63. My mom had a heart attack at 59. The odds are, I'll be sweating bullets when I hit my mid-50's. Hopefully, we'll all be driving flying cars by then and heart attacks will be like the common cold... no big deal. In the meantime, staying active is one thing I can say I'm doing for my heart. It's one of the things that keeps me motivated.


I've had family and friends express concern about my distance running. It's not that uncommon for someone to collapse (or possibly die) during or following a marathon. It's especially hard when the person is described as "young with no previously diagnosed heart conditions". So, it's possible that I could be out for a long run one day and my heart just says, "Hmmm... I think I'll stop right here." and quits on me. But the odds are slim and it's much more likely that I'm doing my heart more good than harm, so I keep going.

I don't know how many beats the ol' ticker has in her, but I'm trying to make the most of every last one.

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

Notes: I checked my records and yesterday was my second-fastest time at Millstadt. I've finished in:
2006 - 1:43:24
2007 - 1:46:06
2009 - 1:40:08
2011 - 1:41:54.
The funny thing is, I'm pretty sure 2009 was in the rain too... even though I don't remember having to be so cautious on the ride that year. So considering I was taking quite a bit of the bike ride slow, I'm pretty happy with what this says about my relative fitness.

Daily Total: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 320.08 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Race Report: Millstadt Parks Biathlon

I spent the past two days waffling on whether or not I was going to race today. I've raced the Millstadt Biathlon a couple of times before and it's a fun but very challenging race. My only hesitation this time was the forecast. I don't mind running in the rain... in fact, I've noticed that I race better in the rain. But biking is another story. I never ride my bike in the rain so I'm not used to riding on wet roads. After seeing the 50/50 chances of rain, I decided to brave it and chose to race this morning.

It was a bad decision.

I left in plenty of time to get over to Millstadt, register, and set up my bike in the transition area. Not a drop of rain fell that whole time. Then we lined up at the starting line and the first rain shower descended upon us.

(The transition area before the rain.)

(The last picture of my beautiful bike befor I mangled it.)

The Millstadt Biathlon is a 5 Mile run followed by a 22 Mile bike. The first mile of the run was in a steady rain and even though I felt like I was holding back and controlling my pace, I ran the first mile too fast. I was still under control though and eased off the pace without completely falling apart. The rolling hills on the course gave me an advantage and I slowly made my way through the pack ahead of me. The course is 2.5 Miles out to a turn-around and then back to the transition area. The turn-around makes it easy to see where you are in the standings and I was the 11th runner to return to the transition area.

I knew I was going to get passed by quite a few people on the bike so I was hoping to stay near the front on the run. I lost even more places in this year's bike than I normally would because I was overly cautious on the early portion of the ride. The rain picked up again for the last mile of the run and the first portion of the bike and the wet roads made me nervous. The bike course is notoriously difficult with a lot of hills and sharp turns. I was taking the turns very slow and I was riding the brakes on the downhills.

Normally, I Love a nice, smooth, asphalt road when riding my bike. But when there's standing water on that asphalt, my road tires feel too squirrely for my liking. Today, I was happy to hit the patches of road that had a little texture to them. I was slowing for all of the turns and downhills and then sprinting on any straight, flat roads I could find. Luckily, the rain died down and I gained confidence as the ride went on. By the last 6 or 7 miles, I was cruising pretty well and going so slow earlier had rested my legs a bit so I picked off a couple of riders at the end of the race.

I crossed the finish line in an hour and 41 minutes... grabbed my shoes from the transition area... loaded my bike on the car... and changed into some dry clothes. Then the sky cut loose and it poured. I felt bad for the riders still out on the course and I was happy to be hiding under the pavilion out of the rain.

I didn't place in my age group and my name wasn't drawn for an attendance prize so I was left to reflect on whether it was worth the trip and entry fee to race in the rain and go home empty-handed. While I drove home, I decided I enjoyed the race and was happy with the effort. I even thought it was convenient that it started raining so hard before I left because it washed all of the grime off of my bike and it was shining like new again. It was a memorable race and I was glad I got out of bed for it.

I'm not so glad anymore.

I was almost home and had turned off of 5th Street onto Viola when I saw another car coming in the opposite direction driving down the middle of the road. I slowed almost to a stop and considered driving over the curb and into the grass to avoid being hit but the guy finally looked up and swerved back to his side of the road. The near-collision got me worked up (and distracted) and I pulled into the driveway still thinking about how close I came to having an accident. Then I had an accident. I completely forgot my bike was still on the roof rack and drove into the garage. Crunch.

I hit the brakes and winced, knowing I had likely just killed my bike and hoping my car and house weren't also badly damaged. I backed out and just sat there not wanting to get out and see how bad it really was. It was bad.

The sad thing is, this is the second time I've done this. I did the same thing after the MS 150 two years ago. This bike replaced the last bike I drove into the garage. I don't know if I was more upset about the bike and the money it will take to fix (or replace it), or if I was more upset with myself just for being dumb enough to make the same big mistake twice.

So, I have two new dents in the wood frame around my garage door that will need to be painted. I have a bent bike rack tray that might be salvaged but looks pretty ridiculous if I can't straighten it out. And I have a bike with a fork bent so bad that the handlebars won't turn and it looks like a lowrider.

(That's not how the front of my bike should be shaped.)

(My broken fork.)

Liz did a great job of talking me down from my self-directed anger but I've been in a funk all day because of the wreck. I spent that whole bike ride being so careful not to have an accident for fear of hurting myself or messing up my bike and then I drove it into my house and ruined it. I totally tainted my biathlon experience which went from a good effort and memorable race to 'that race that I did before I broke my bike'.

But if my biggest problem in life is that one of my expensive toys is broken, I'd have to say that life is pretty damn good.

Sunday
Goal For The Day: Race.
Results:
28th out of 213 finishers.
6th out of 35 males ages 30-34.
Run - 31:41. (6:20 Avg.)
Bike - 1:10:13 (18.5mph Avg.)
Finish Time: 1:41:54.

Notes: The results don't list a transition area and I'm not sure when they consider the start/finish of the run and the start of the bike. I stopped my watch on the run at 4.90 Miles in 33:04. 6:45 Avg. (6:06, 6:21, 6:30, 6:33, 5:59*). Then I have a transition time of 1:32. I clocked the bike at 21.22 Miles in 1:08:50. 18.5mph Avg. I guess my 'Bike' mileage total won't be changing for a while. Blah.

Daily Miles: 5.00 Miles Run. 22.00 Miles Biked.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 320.08 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Take A Hike

The rain is coming but today was just cloudy and cool. Liz and I decided to take advantage of the dry time by taking a hike on one of the many trails in town.

We drove over to West Tyson County Park to hike the Flint Quarry Trail. It's a 3-mile trail that winds it's way through the woods on the east side of Eureka.


We took The Cricket with us and she kept up like a champ! The little pup made us proud. We passed a few hikers and some mountain bikers but the trail wasn't too busy.


Every time we go for a hike, we're reminded how much we enjoy it and we should go more often.

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

Notes: I checked tomorrow's weather forecast. There's a 50% chance of rain in the morning and then the odds of storms increase as the morning goes on. I think I'm going to get up for the Millstadt Parks Biathlon and hope to stay dry (but expect to get wet). I'm not a fan of riding my bike in the rain but a 16 mile training run in the rain doesn't sound great either so I'll try the race.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 315.08 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bannister And Balloons

Friday means back to Bannister. I leave work early on Friday's because I work late on Thursday nights. I planned to go to the track when I got home this afternoon but had a pounding headache and had to lie down on the couch for a while.

By 4:00, I was feeling better and made my way to the high school to run my intervals. School was out by then but it seemed like every sport the school offers was holding practice when I got there. Thankfully, Eureka has a ridiculous number of practice fields and the track wasn't being used. But, I rounded the corner on my first interval and looked up to see the cheerleaders taking a group photo on the football field. I figured they didn't want me running in the background so I stopped and waited a few minutes while they finished up.

The rest of the workout went well and I was able to run 8 intervals this week. Today felt a lot like Wednesday's Hill Repeats. Like Wednesday, I thought about stopping at 6, but pushed through and ran all 8 intervals without feeling too overworked. I was definitely panting at the end of the last two intervals, but I was happy with the overall quality of the workout.

Afterward, I jogged home, got cleaned up, and Liz and I drove downtown for the Balloon Glow in Forest Park. That was a whole other adventure that pretty much involved no balloons but some fun fireworks. All of the walking through the park helped work the acid out of my legs. It was a nice way to end the night.



video

video

Friday
Goal For The Day: Bannister Repeats.
Distance: 6.18 Miles.
Time: 8 x 400m (1:16, 1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:15, 1:14, 1:15, 1:15).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 65 degrees. 4:00PM.

Notes: 2.08 Mile jog to the track. 2.10 Mile jog home. 2 minutes of rest between intervals. I feel good about this week. The question now is about Sunday. I have 16 miles on the schedule but there's also a biathlon I would like to run. We'll see how this plays out.

Daily Miles: 6.18 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 315.08 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Passed 300 Miles The Otter Day

I stopped at exactly 10 miles on Tuesday's run so I could compare it to today's run even though I ran a different course. I ran the Allenton Loop and then into Old Town Eureka Tuesday. Today, I ran down to Route 66, did a couple of laps and then came home.

Talk about consistency! Tuesday's 10 miles were in 1:11:08 averaging 7:07 per mile. Today, I ran 10 miles in 1:11:35 averaging 7:09 per mile. Hardly a difference between the two runs even though the courses were very different and I had a Hill workout on the day in between.

If anything, today's run was more of a 'consistent' run than Tuesday's. My miles stayed closer to the average throughout today's run while I had a couple of very fast and a couple of pretty slow miles during Tuesday's run.

All of this is reassuring and I'm on track for where I want to be but the most interesting thing about today's run was that I experienced another 'first'. While I was running in Route 66 State Park, I spotted an otter on the road. It was about halfway across the road in the park and turned to run into the woods when it saw me. I don't think I've ever seen an otter in Missouri before. There's a creek that runs right by where I saw the little guy and the Meramec River is on the other side of the park, so I guess there's plenty of otter-friendly territory around. I've just never seen one before.

It reminded me of when Dan and Stephanie got married at a hunting lodge in Illinois. They had an abundance of stuffed animals around the lodge and my favorite was an elaborate display with two otters so I posed for a picture. Little did I know I would see an otter in the wild less than a month later!


Thursday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 10.00 Miles.
Time: 1:11:35. 7:09 Avg. (7:42, 7:02, 7:06, 6:51, 7:01, 7:05, 7:03, 7:12, 7:01, 7:26).
Route: To Route 66/2 Laps/Home.
Conditions: 45 degrees. 7:00AM.

Notes: Chilly this morning! I ran in just shorts Tuesday and needed long sleeves and a stocking cap this morning. It would have been great marathon weather today! Passed the 300-Mile mark for the blog... they're adding up fast!

Daily Miles: 10.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 308.90 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Changing Weather

The temperature dropped 22 degrees over the past 24 hours. Our high today was in the 70's at 12:30 this morning. It feels like fall!

Of course, with the cold front came rain and the rain lasted all day. I didn't go out this morning because it was cold and the rain wasn't letting up. Normally, I really like a run in the rain, but not when it's cold and windy. So I saved my run for after work and everything fell into place nicely. The rain stopped right as I drove into Eureka and my run was chilly but dry.

I ran more hill repeats today on Top Notch. Last week I did 6 sprints up the hill and today I did 8. Today felt a lot harder than last week and by the third interval I realized it was because the wind was blowing down the hill. Every time I turned to run back up, I was fighting the steep incline and a solid headwind.

(For only $30 you can buy this baby blanket at CafePress.com.
Although I'm not sure why a baby would be eating hills for breakfast.)

When I started up the hill for the 5th time, I seriously considered stopping at 6. But the 6th went well and felt easier for some reason. Halfway through the 7th I noticed the wind had died down and I didn't have as much resistance. I finished all 8 and took a quick hot shower in time to meet everyone for our weekly dinner.

It was a chilly run and my hands were nice and pink by the time I finished. The low tonight is supposed to hit 45 degrees so tomorrow morning's 10 miles are going to be brisk!

Wednesday
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 4.05 Miles.
Time: 34:26. 8:31 Avg. (7:52, 8:18, 9:17, 8:34, 0:24*)
Route: 8 x Top Notch.
Conditions: 55 degrees. 5:30PM.

Notes: Not the most quality hills I've run but I felt good about getting all 8 in. Found my stride (and ditched the wind) for the last 3.

Daily Miles: 4.05 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 298.90 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back On Track

Over the past couple of weeks I've not only missed some workouts, I've also been lax about posting on my blog. Coincidence?

So today I rededicated myself to my training and my journaling. I ran my first Middle Distance workout since upping the mileage and even met Liz for a swim after work. Now I'm getting caught up on my blog posts and I'm ready to stick to the schedule the rest of the way.

This is the part of my training that I find it easier and easier to talk myself out of a workout. When I'm running 5 days a week and each run is pretty long, it's easy to feel like missing a run here and there wouldn't hurt. And in reality, it probably wouldn't. But most of the time missing a run wouldn't help either.

Instead of fading down the stretch like I have done at times in the past, I'm committing myself to staying the course. I'm back on track and I plan to stay there.


Tuesday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 10.00 Miles.
Time: 1:11:08. 7:07 Avg. (7:21, 6:32, 6:54, 7:02, 6:58, 6:49, 7:16, 7:09, 7:21, 7:40).
Route: Allenton Loop/Old Town Eureka Loop w/ the City Hall Extension.
Conditions: 65 degrees. 7:15AM.

Goal For The Day: Swim.
Distance: 1,000 meters. (300, 400, 300).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: I don't always listen to my ipod when I run but I turned on the music today and ignored my watch during the run. Looking at my times, I could tell that I have my playlist loaded with the better, faster songs up front and the slower, less inspiring songs later. The run felt pretty good though. The swim was good. Much longer intervals than usual. Liz wasn't looking forward to it before we started but got in the groove and was ready to go after the first 300.

Daily Miles: 10.00 Mile Run. 1,000 meter Swim.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 294.85 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Motivation Monday - Two Gomers

Three years ago, Liz started listening to a podcast called Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon. I was a little slow to join the i-pod craze and didn't start listening until the first season was almost over. Once I started listening, I went back to the beginning and listened to the episodes I had missed until I was caught up. We've been hooked ever since.


The Gomers' podcast is about two guys who had never run before (or done much of anything athletic) that decided to train for and run a half marathon. The episodes are weekly updates on their training and their learning process as they figured out what is involved in distance running.

It was awesome to experience what it's like to be back at the beginning... listening to these guys (Anthony and Steven) starting at the basics. What to wear? What to eat? How to train? Everything you never think about until you're doing it yourself. But what makes the show so fun to listen to is the Gomers' personalities. The guys are just plain entertaining. They have that special something that makes you want to listen whether they're talking about running, tv, movies, current events, or their Love of the 80's.


After their half marathon, the Gomers recorded two more seasons: Two Gomers Run a Marathon and Two Gomers Run a Marathon: The Sub-Five Strive. Their podcast grew from just a handful of listeners to thousands of faithful subscribers. The Gomer Nation has become a community of it's own and interacts often on facebook. But Steven and Anthony took it a step farther and have organized some Gomer gatherings. There have been two Gomer Fun Runs, the Gomer Labor Day Virtual 5k/10k Run, and in June the Gomers invited listeners to join them for the Minneapolis Marathon.

Liz and I made the trip and met the guys. We weren't sure what to expect when we met the Gomers face-to-face, but they guys couldn't have been nicer. We felt like old friends who just happened to have never met. We hung out with Anthony, Steven, and some fellow fans at the expo the day before the race. Then we met up for some pre-race photos and Liz went with some of the runner's family members to cheer everyone on while I ran the marathon. Afterward, we all shared our stories from the ridiculously hot and hilly race while we had lunch at Chipotle.





It was awesome meeting the Gomers and we're even bigger fans after getting to know them a little better.

The guys are getting ready to start a new season (and Anthony's getting ready to become a father) so we're looking forward to hearing what adventure they choose to take on next.

If you're looking for a fun running podcast (that often strays from the topic of running), or if you're just looking for some good entertainment, I highly recommend checking out the Two Gomers. And do yourself a favor... go back to the beginning and listen to the guys as they make progress on their journey.

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

Notes: I'm feeling recharged and ready to start the next phase of my training. Bring on the heavy mileage!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 284.85 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking Back Over 10 Years

On Sunday, October 7th, 2001, I ran my first marathon. I gathered with over 30,000 other runners in the streets of Chicago less than a month after the World Trade Center attack. I still remember the underlying anxiety that filled the crowd while we waited for the race to start. We had all spent countless hours watching the attacks on t.v. and it was all to easy to imagine something horrible happening with so many people gathered in one place.

Most professional sporting events draw crowds that big all the time but it's much easier to maintain security as people enter a stadium. On the day of the marathon, tens of thousands of runners crowded the streets and over a million spectators lined the course. You just can't secure an event like that.

All of those concerns dissolved shortly after the race started and several times during the four hour run, I found myself feeling truly blessed for the opportunity to cross the marathon off of my list of life challenges.

This year is the first time since 2001 that I won't be running the Chicago Marathon. I ran it for 10 consecutive years and decided to sit it out this year so I could move on to new races. Today is also the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In less than two months, I'll be in New York City for the first time and I know that toeing the line on Race Day is going to be reminiscent of my first marathon in Chicago.

Today, they released warnings that there are new and "credible" threats that could involve car bombs in New York and DC. I can't help but wonder if the crowd of runners will be feeling that same tension as we did in 2001. I can't help but wonder how ten years passed so quickly and so many things feel like they haven't changed.


Sunday
Goal For The Day: Long Run. (Skipped.)
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: We're in Kansas City for Dan and Stephanie's wedding reception. It's been a great weekend and today just seemed like a good day to sleep in. Then with church, family time, and the drive home, I didn't make time for my run. This was my recovery week anyway so I was only scheduled for 6 miles. I thought about making up the distance tomorrow but I start the serious mileage this week so I'll probably take the day off as scheduled.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 284.85 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gear Check: Stuffitts Shoe Savers

Just a quick gear check post today. I found these things called Stuffitts online last winter and asked for a pair for Christmas.

http://www.stuffitts.com/

Stuffitts are foot-shaped pouches filled with cedar chips that you insert in your shoes when you aren't using them. They absorb moisture and help prevent funky shoe odor. They also have a strap that connects the Stuffitts that makes your shoes easy to carry.




I had some real problems with my Nike Lunarglides not drying between runs and they smelled horrible. I have different shoes now, but the Stuffitts still seem to help with the smell. Until my shoes got wet recently, they really kept from developing that running shoe funk. They might have turned that corner beyond the point of no return, but I still think the Stuffitts help.

They aren't a necessary piece of equipment, but I think they're nice to have around.

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

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 284.85 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top Notch Workout

There's a half marathon I would like to run in a couple of weeks. It's in Vallmeyer, IL and I've run it several times. It's a very small race and I think I've placed in my age group every time I've run it. I don't place in half marathons.

The course is a lot of rolling hills through farm land and the entire last mile is up a very steep hill. So instead of my usual track work, I decided to run some hill repeats this morning.

There's a large hill about a block from our house that has a nice, steep section about 100 meters long that I use for hill workouts. The hill is on Top Notch Lane and I warm up with a jog before charging up the hill over and over.


I use a pair of bushes as my starting marker and run hard up the hill until it levels off at a white mailbox. I don't let up until I reach that mailbox, but once I do, I turn and 'jog' my way back down. I say jog, but it's really a bouncing motion that's slower than a walk. I take as long as I want going back down the hill (while panting) but take off again as soon as I reach the starting bushes.

It's a tough workout that I can squeeze into about 30 minutes and it makes a huge difference when I run hilly races.

Friday
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 3.52 Miles.
Time: 30:16. 8:36 Avg.
Route: 6 x Top Notch Hill.
Conditions: 67 degrees. 7:45AM.

Notes: 6 repeats. I could tell I haven't done this workout in a while. The first one always seems like the worst. Once the blood is flowing and the legs are awake, they're hard, but not as rough. Another great, cool, cloudy, almost-rainy workout!

Daily Miles: 3.52 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 284.85 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Real Recovery Run, Really Reassuring

This is supposed to be a recovery week before beefing up the mileage again next week. But so far, I rode 23 miles on my scheduled day off and ran a virtual 10k hard instead of my scheduled easy 6 miles. So today, I ran the same 6 mile course as Tuesday minus the extra .2 miles I tacked on to make it a full 10k. But today I took it easy.

I went for a completely relaxed 6 miles and put my body on complete auto-pilot. I let my mind wander and didn't think about my pace at all. It felt great!

Today was the first run of the season with chilly cheeks and cold fingers. It was a brisk, refreshing morning and it felt good to get the blood pumping and to start the day with a run that was relaxing and energizing at the same time.

It's starting to feel like fall!

Thursday
Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 6.09 Miles.
Time: 45:55. 7:32 Avg. (7:20, 7:13, 7:24, 7:37, 7:40, 7:49, 0:47*).
Route: To Route 66/Home.
Conditions: 56 degrees. 7:30AM.

Notes: I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my pace after the run. If I can stay in the mid 7's without effort, my working pace should be getting pretty close to what I'm shooting for!

Daily Miles: 6.09 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 281.33 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

International Appeal? Really?

I started this blog in June as a way of journaling my training for New York. I'm still figuring out some of the ins and outs of blogging/social networking. I figured out how to share my posts on twitter and facebook and felt very internet savvy and 'in touch'. I'm young and hip!
I also found out that more of my friends and family read this than I expected. I was surprised to find out how many people were not only interested in what I wrote, but continued to be interested and read this on a regular basis.

But what really confuses me is the 'stats' section of my blog. It lets me look at how many times people look at my blog, how many times people look at each post, when people are looking at the blog, what country people are in, and even what kind of technology people are accessing it with. (Apparently a lot of people read my blog around 11pm Central Time on their Windows computer using Internet Explorer in the U.S.)


That's all very interesting but I'm curious about all of the readers that Blogger tells me I have from other countries. As of today, here are the people that have checked in on my blog by country:

United States 2,176
Latvia 26
France 19
Germany 16
Canada 10
Australia 8
Ukraine 8
United Kingdom 7
Georgia 4
Sweden 4

So, what I want to know is... Who are all of these people? Do I know people in all of those countries? Are people I don't know reading my blog? I realized I've been assuming only family and friends were reading this.

If you're outside the U.S. and reading this right now, leave me a comment and let me know what city or town you're in and whether I know you or not. Either way, welcome aboard!

Wednesday
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats (Abandoned).
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I planned to run some hill repeats this morning for my speedwork. I even got up and dressed for the workout. Then I kept doing things to get ready for work and eventually felt like I didn't have time for the run. I think this was even more lame than when I just oversleep.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 275.24 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Virtual 10k

I've mentioned the Two Gomers podcast before and I'll probably talk more about them for next week's Motivation Monday. The Gomers are between 'seasons' right now but a lot of listeners still keep up with them through their Facebook page and the guys put out an update podcast about every month or so.

Over the weekend, they invited their listeners to join them for a 'Virtual 5k or 10k'. There was no fee, but people were able to register on Sunday and Monday and then could run 3.1 or 6.2 miles on their own wherever they happened to be anytime on Monday. By the end of Labor Day, people sent in their times and got to see how they stack up against other listeners from around the world. Like most Gomer challenges, the virtual race was more about having fun and relating to other fans than it was about competition.

Unfortunately, I didn't find out about the invitation until after I had run my Long Run on Sunday and already had plans for our Long Ride on Monday. I considered going out and running the virtual race yesterday anyway but decided it was best to just wait until today. I had 6 miles on my schedule for today anyway so a 10k worked perfectly.

Liz and I are considering another triathlon for early October. The swim would be half as long and in a pool but the bike ride is still 20 miles and the run is 5 miles instead of the 4 we did last time. Instead of going to the gym for our Tuesday swim, Liz felt like she should brush up on her running so we both went for evening runs. Liz drove to Route 66 for her run and I ran to the park and back for my 10k.

My virtual 10k was a day late so I didn't add my name to the list but I still wanted to run it hard and see what kind of time I could post after two Long efforts on Sunday and Monday and while running the hills of Eureka. Most days, this course takes me close to 45 minutes.

I felt pretty about the effort and I Loved that the temperature was only in the 70's even late in the day. I kept the pace up pretty well and felt really good about my breathing. I finished in 42:01 and joined the Gomer Nation in spirit (even though I was a day behind).

Tuesday
Goal For The Day: Virtual 10k Race.
Distance: 6.20 Miles.
Time: 42:01. 6:47 Avg. (6:51, 6:24, 6:40, 6:46, 7:03, 6:51, 1:24*)
Route: To Route 66/Home/Added .20 Miles
Conditions: Mid-70's. 6:30PM.

Notes: My legs definitely felt a little heavy but not as bad as I expected. It took a while for the post-bike-ride stride to wear off. My stride was shorter and quicker at first but opened up as the run went on. Great weather!

Daily Miles: 6.20 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 275.24 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Long Ride

Liz and I took advantage of our Staycation with a new adventure. We drove downtown for a bike ride on the Riverfront Trail. I hadn't even heard of the running/biking trail but Liz did some research and figured we could ride to the Chain of Rocks Bridge and back in about a 22 mile ride.

The weather was perfect for a long bike ride. Sunny but not hot with a bright blue sky to accent the scenery we rode past. We parked at the trailhead near the Landing and unloaded the bikes from the Subaru.




The trail heads north along the river and the first few miles are through a more industrial part of downtown. It was cool to have the river on our right and the various factories and plants on our left. We even passed a barge being filled with some kind of grain.

video

The further we rode, the more the trail transitioned to a more residential and tree-lined area. There were a few historical markers along the way including an Underground Railroad crossing. It was a tougher ride than expected because we were pedalling into a strong headwind but we were determined to make it to the bridge.

The Chain of Rocks Bridge did not disappoint. It's open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic and it's a long bridge spanning the Mississippi to Illinois. We rode across the bridge and let the tires touch Illinois before turning around and riding back to the middle of the ridge for a snack.

video


Looking south along the river, we could see the St. Louis skyline and it made the distance we rode seem impressive. It was a gorgeous view but it was crazy windy on the bridge and it got cold quickly so we kept our snack break short and made our way back to Missouri soil.




The ride back was much faster (and warmer) with the wind at our backs. We were only a few miles from the trailhead when we passed a couple walking their bikes. I asked if they were okay and it turned out they were in need of a pump. I had to put air in my rear tire before we left the house because of my last bike 'ride' and I made sure to put my hand pump back on my bike... refilled my CO2 cartridge... and packed a patch kit before we left. I had learned my lesson from my Comedy of Errors.

We stopped and loaned the couple my pump. They were in town for a wedding and had a flight back to D.C. later in the afternoon. They like to ride trails when they travel and rented a couple of bikes from the Landing. Then the lady's rear tire went flat and they had miles to go. They said they thought it was a slow leak and didn't seem interested in checking for punctures so he filled her tire and we all went on our way. I was feeling good about having the right tools when they were needed this time but it turned out I was only kinda helpful. Liz and I stopped to read a historical marker and the couple must have passed us. When we got back on the trail, we saw the couple with the guy riding his bike and the lady jogging with her bike along side him. I asked if they wanted to try a quick patch and the guy hesitated but the lady said they were fine. I guess they weren't in as big of a hurry as I thought.

About two-and-a-half hours after we started our ride, we made it back to the car a little sun tanned and a little wind burned. A stop at Chipotle on the way home for a late lunch capped a nice new adventure. The trail is beautiful and the scenery changes throughout the ride. It's definitely a ride worth doing and we would go again but I wouldn't want Liz riding it by herself. There are long stretches with no one else around and you ride through a not-so-great part of town. It felt plenty safe, but it's a good ride to have a partner.

Monday
Goal For The Day: Bike Ride.
Distance: 23.92 Miles.
Time: 2:09:40. 11.1 mph Avg.
Route: Riverfront Trail to Chain of Rocks Bridge and back.
Conditions: High 70's/Low 80's. Strong headwind heading north. Nice ride on the way back. Beautiful day!

Notes: Over 100 miles on the bike for the blog! It won't be long before the weather gets cold enough to hang up the bike for the season so it was good to get a long ride in.

Daily Miles: 23.92 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 269.04 Miles.
  Bike - 122.45 Miles.
  Swim - 9,050+ meters.