Monday, April 30, 2012

Group Training Is Awesome!

The rain held off this afternoon so I hurried up to University City High School after work for the first night of Missouri Running Company's track sessions. I haven't been to these sessions before and U City is about 40 minutes from my office so I was hoping it would be worth the trip.

When I got to the school's track, there were about 30 little kids running around and only a few adults who weren't dressed like they were there to run. For a minute, I thought I had misinterpreted the purpose of the sessions and that they were actually for kids. But it ended up being some kind of after-school program and the runners started arriving for the track sessions a few minutes later. Soon, the kids were escorted off to a soccer field and the track was ours.

As people arrived, we were told to do an active warm-up. One of the coaches on hand said that stretching before a workout is a thing of the past. Everyone is now encouraged to do an active warm-up before running and then stretch after the workout. So we were told to jog an easy mile. Then run two laps of jogging the curves and running the straightaways at about 85% speed. Then run two more laps jogging half a lap and running the other half at 85% speed. Apparently, this will be the weekly warm-up.

Then we were told that the track sessions are intended to improve speed, improve form, and improve cardiovascular fitness. The times we would be running are based on our goal 5K time for the end of the 10-week session. We were split into a few different groups based on our goal times and then each group was assigned a coach and given goal times for our intervals.

Tonight's workout was repeat 400's (one lap around the track). Beginners were encouraged to do 8 intervals and more experienced runners were encouraged to do 12 intervals. But the coaches were great about letting people know not to push it too much (especially on the first night) and to stop whenever they felt uncomfortable continuing.

I was in a group with three other guys and then there were two larger groups set up by their goal times. Our coach suggested we aim for each interval in 85 seconds based on a goal 5K time of 18-19 minutes. The groups staggered their starts so we mostly stayed out of each other's way and we got started.

When I've run repeat 400's by myself, I've aimed for 75 seconds each and started to struggle after 5 or 6 intervals, even with 2 minutes of rest between intervals. At the most, I would do 8 intervals and that took weeks to work up to. Today, I ran 12 intervals at 81-83 seconds each with only 1 minute of rest between intervals and I felt great! It's amazing how much it helps having people to run with and having a coach calling out your times!

By the third interval, one of the guys and I were trading the lead every-other interval. It was an unspoken agreement that we just fell into so neither one of us had to lead the whole time. The other two guys in our group settled into a slightly slower pace and were staggered behind us. One of the guys seemed to be struggling by number 6 or 7, but he hung in there and stuck close to his pace. I thought he might stop when we finished the 8th interval but he hung in and ran another one or two before taking a break and then ran the last couple with us. I still felt good on the last interval so I went ahead and squeezed the trigger a little. I didn't want to go all-out because I was afraid I would injure myself after so many intervals, but I was surprised how comfortable I was running a 1:16 after 11 intervals.

I Loved how supportive everyone was. When a group would start crossing the finish line, they would turn and encourage the rest of their runners through the final straightaway. The coaches did a great job of helping everyone with timing splits cheering people on. I've always felt that runners tend to be friendly and welcoming people and tonight's workout was a perfect example.

When we finished, I chatted with the guys in my group and ran a half-mile cool-down before heading home. I had a great time and it was an awesome workout, but I still haven't decided if I'll be making the trip up every week. I would like to do as many of the 10 sessions as I can, but the cost of gas and the evening away from home might convince me to do something else. I guess I have a week to think about next Monday.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 5.00 Miles.
Time: 12 x 400m (1:23, 1:22, 1:23, 1:22, 1:23, 1:21, 1:22, 1:21, 1:21, 1:21, 1:22, 1:16).
Course: U City H.S. Track.
Conditions: 73 degrees. 6:30PM.

Notes: It wasn't a hot night, but it was warm and humid. I can only imagine how hot it's going to be for these workouts a month from now. Summer is almost here. At one point, I considered a goal of 2,012 miles in 2012... I'm 1/3 of the way through the year and on pace for 930 miles. I know that will pick up when I start marathon training and I wasn't running as much for the first 2-3 months, but I'm pretty sure 2,012 isn't happening this year. Maybe that's a good goal for next year.

Daily Miles: 5.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 309.20 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Pre-Baby Prep And 300 Miles in 2012

The final step of painting the nursery took longer than we thought today. We had a relaxing morning after a stormy night, did a little work in the nursery, took a break for a supply run and ate lunch, did more nursery work, and then it was 5:30.

(Mickey cloud in our nursery.)

I originally planned to run 8-10 miles today but the day was filled with important baby prep so I mowed the lawn (it's supposed to rain the next few days) and then slipped on my running shoes and went out for a shorter, faster run.

I ran to Kircher Park and back and tried to push the pace a little since I was only running 6 miles. It was one of those days where I could lock into a pace and stay pretty close to 6:45 per mile just by feel. I hardly glanced at my watch. The best part was keeping my pace under 7 minutes even in the last mile-and-a-half while running up the big hills on the way home. The hill repeats are already paying off!

I've decided to attend the first of the track workouts Missouri Running Co. is offering tomorrow night as long as it isn't raining. If it's storming or they cancel the workout, I'll meet Liz for a swim. I'm looking forward to an organized speed workout so I hope the rain holds off. But a night at the gym with Liz is a pretty nice backup plan!

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 6.00 Miles.
Time: 40:47. 6:48 Avg. (6:55, 6:30, 6:45, 6:45, 6:57, 6:52).
Route: Kircher Park Loop.
Conditions: 64 degrees. 6:29PM.

Notes: The nursery looks awesome. The lawn is mowed. I had a great run. I passed 300 miles running in 2012. And Liz made an awesome dinner of parmesan tilapia that made me feel even more healthy!

Daily Miles: 6.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 304.20 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sore And Slow

One of the benefits of using FiveFingers is they strengthen your calves, feet, and other stabilizing muscles. The down side? You make yourself sore in places you're not used to being sore.

Most of my training runs leave me feeling tired but rarely am I very sore. Today I'm both. I only ran 1/2 mile of sprints yesterday but I'm definitely feeling it today. Between using different form while sprinting at top speed and using my muscles differently because of the shoes, yesterday's short workout was enough to leave me aching a little today. But it's that good kind of ache... not really  painful... just enough to let you know you worked hard.

To work some of the stiffness out, I ran easier today. I still ran a hilly course, but I took my time on it and didn't push the pace. Just some easy middle-distance to loosen things up. I thought I would run about 4 miles, but I didn't have a specific route in mind when I left the house so by the time I was finished wandering around town, I ran closer to 5. My pace was surprisingly consistent throughout the run even though the first couple of miles were more stiff. By mile 3, I felt pretty relaxed.

I made it home right before some nasty storms rolled in. There were parts of St. Louis hit with baseball-sized hail and possible tornadoes. Luckily, the worst of it missed Eureka and I was home before the torrential downpour hit town.

(A tent near Busch Stadium collapsed injury dozens of people. One person died.)

(A sample of some hail damage in St. Louis.)

Goal For The Day: Easy Run.
Distance: 4.73 Miles.
Time: 35:43. 7:33 Avg. (7:36, 7:14, 7:34, 7:35, 5:42*).
Route: Cul-de-Sac Ext/Deep Vally Loop.
Conditions: 69 degrees. 5:02PM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: Spent most of the day registering for baby stuff. An easy run helped with the overwhelmed feeling and loosened up some sore muscles. Got home just before some nasty storms and just in time for a great dinner with friends!

Daily Miles: 4.73 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 298.20 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Fingers Friday

I have a pair of FiveFingers that I bought a while ago but cold weather and the fear of blisters has kept them tucked away in my closet. I took them out for the second time this year and drove to the track to run on the infield.

I've heard you really have to ease your way into running in FiveFingers. For one thing, they're about as 'barefoot' as barefoot running gets without your feet actually being naked. I use Nike Free Runs for all of my running so I'm already accustomed to minimalist shoes, but FiveFingers are a whole new ballgame, even for me.

Another concern is blisters. I'm not used to having my shoes between my toes so all kinds of things are rubbing that don't normally rub. Because I'm afraid I'll do too much too soon and end up with blisters that ruin the rest of my training, I kept my first run in the FiveFingers to 1.5 miles. That was a couple of months ago but today wasn't much different.

I'll do a full Gear Check review of my Five Fingers when I have more experience with them and can report more knowledgeably. But the main things I've learned so far:
-Running on pavement requires a lot of attention to form and foot-strike.
-Running on grass is heavenly!
-FiveFingers are most comfortable when running very slow/jogging or when running at full speed. They're less comfortable at the mid-speed pace that I'm used to.

Having learned those things on my last run with the Fingers, I drove to the track to run some sprints on the infield. I jogged a warm-up and cool-down on the infield grass and ran 8 x 100 meter sprints in between.

I don't know if I've ever felt so fast with so little perceived effort! I Love these shoes!!! I always Loved barefoot sprints on the infield during high school track but having that extra layer of protection on my feet made today even better. All of the speed and freedom of barefoot running without the wear and tear on the bottom of my feet. Awesome!

Now I just need to use them more so I can run farther and maybe work them into some short races.

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 2.00 Miles.
Time: Untimed.
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 47 degrees. 7:30AM.

Notes: 3/4 mile warm-up. 8 x 100 meters at top speed. Rest after 4 sets. 3/4 mile cool-down. I parked at Berry Park and jogged to the track. I hadn't been here since the park was put in. It's nice! And now I can park there when I want to use the track even if school is in session. Problem solved!

Daily Miles: 2.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 293.47 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So Many Options

Yesterday, I received an email from Missouri Running Co. about their upcoming track sessions. They are offering organized track workouts at University City High School every Monday evening for ten weeks. The sessions are free and they offer a couple of different options for the workouts depending on your fitness level.

That email reminded me that the St. Louis Track Club's Track Series should be coming up soon too. I hopped on their website and they have five track races coming up on Tuesday nights.

So now I have several options to weigh.

Missouri Running Co. track sessions:
I like the idea of having people to run some speedwork with. Having other people to help with pacing and motivation during intervals would be awesome. Plus, I was hoping to focus on speedwork after Hospital Hill and this would be a great way to kickstart that transition. And it's free! But U City High is a bit of a drive and I could do my own workouts two miles from home. And it would mean moving our Monday nights at the Rec Center to another night (or missing the weekly swim with Liz).

St. Louis Track Club Track Series:
This is a fun series of races. It's the only time I get to race distances this short and on the track. And a series is always fun because of the added competition involved with tracking points across several races. But the Series is at Clayton High School which is basically as far away as U City High. And the Series is $45 which isn't as nice as free.

Other considerations:
Next Wednesday is my final day of teaching classes for the semester. That means I'll only be working late on Thursdays for the rest of the summer. I'm finally getting another night free and I'm already considering using one or two nights for running and races. And, depending on which event I run, we'll have to either move our gym night or our weekly dinner with friends.

I doubt anyone reading all of this really cares about all of the things that go into my decision-making process. It just helps me to get it all in writing to organize my thoughts.

As for today's training, I ran The Never Ending Hill Of Doom again today. I ran the Hill twice just like last week. I didn't feel as bad on the Hill itself as I did last week but the run as a whole felt pretty slow. I certainly wasn't running for speed and I think I was running/jogging slower because I knew the Hill was coming up. On the way home, a good-sized hill was hardly noticeable though so the Hill must be doing its job.

If I keep this up, I won't fear the hills in K.C.

Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 4.01 Miles.
Time: 33:53. 8:27 Avg. (7:59, 7:44, 9:24, 8:39, 0:05*).
Route: 2 x Never Ending Hill Of Doom
Conditions: 68 degrees. 7:23AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: Today felt slow and sure enough, when I checked the Garmin page, last week's run was in 31:31 and today was 33:53. Same course, two-and-a-half minutes slower. They can't all be fast days.

Daily Miles: 4.01 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 291.47 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds

I took the day off today. It's my last super-long day of work and class. Finals are next week!

Even with the day off and no training to report, I thought I would write a quick post about an experiment I conducted this morning. I've had a container of chia seeds in the pantry for months and today I finally tried them.

I first read about chia seeds and their nutritional value in the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Apparently, chia seeds are a good source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. If there's one thing I don't monitor strictly, it's my diet. So I like adding in something especially healthy every now and then and the idea of eating the stuff you spread on a Chia Pet was too fun to pass up.

For my first experience with chia seeds, I just added a partial scoop of the seeds to instant oatmeal (cinnamon something). I tossed in a sprinkle of sugar and breakfast was served.

I was not impressed.

I don't know if it was mostly mental... or if instant oatmeal doesn't gel well with chia seeds... or if the seeds actually changed the taste of the oatmeal. But I didn't like it that much. Granted, instant oatmeal isn't a delicacy to begin with, but it tasted a little... off. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good.

So, I'll have to do some experimenting and then dedicate a full post to what works and doesn't work with chia seeds. I've heard you can just add them to a glass of water, bake them in bread and muffins, add them to yogurt, etc. Now that the container is open, I'll do some research for tasty ways to eat them. Google is so handy!

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

Notes: I'm looking forward to having Wednesday nights back and it will be perfect timing because I'll be more prepared for the extra day of running by then.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 287.46 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Speaking Of Motivation...

The Hospital Hill race director has been sending occasional emails to registered participants for added motivation. She recently wrote about the hills on the course and how they aren't that bad. (I'll wait and see for myself.) And today's email was about the power of words. Here's part of the email:

"My favorite part of my job is interacting with participants. Sometimes it is over email or the phone. Sometimes I get lucky enough to meet you face-to-face at an expo or a clinic. I love hearing your stories about setting goals, overcoming adversity and crossing the finish line. Your words inspire me to work harder to make Hospital Hill Run even better!

Every so often a conversation will start with, “I am ONLY a walker,” or “I am JUST doing the 5K.” Let me tell you, I am not a fan of ONLY or JUST! Actually, both words have been banned from my vocabulary.

The great thing about Hospital Hill Run presented by Price Chopper is that everyone has the same start line and finish line, and everyone in any given race passes the same distance. If you are participating in the 5K, you will cover the same 3.1 miles as everyone else participating in the 5K. Everyone in a race receives the same medal, too, whether that person is the first or the last participant. The same is true with walkers: same medal, same miles and same streets. There are no shortcuts to the finish line; everyone covers the same distance.

Words are powerful. They can empower someone to do extraordinary things or make someone feel like he or she is not good enough. I say we all need to kick ONLY and JUST out of our vocabularies. Change your words, and you will change your attitude. And, a great attitude gets you to the finish line every time. Anytime you doubt yourself, email me, and I will be happy to remind you!"

Beth Salinger
Race Director
Hospital Hill Run presented by Price Chopper
June 2, 2012

I talk about the power of words all the time at my job. The words we use and the words we choose (consciously or otherwise) say a lot about our mindset and can have a strong impact on our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sometimes it sounds like nitpicking, but intentionally choosing words that are positive and avoiding words that are negative and limiting can make a world of difference. Ms. Salinger's email perfectly expresses the importance of positive thinking and word choice for someone that wants to get the most out of an event like a race.

However, because I'm taking the "better safe than sorry" approach to the hills in this race, I took her previous email with a grain of salt and hit Top Notch for some hill repeats. There was nothing spectacular about this morning's run... just the knowledge that it will pay off later.

Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats
Distance: 2.92 Miles.
Time: 25:33. 8:45 Avg. (8:13, 9:00, 8:19*).
Route: 4 x Top Notch.
Conditions: 48 degrees. 7:28AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: I felt like I was moving a little slower today but a quick comparison on my Garmin page shows today was pretty similar to last week. Morning runs are tough enough, but a morning run after an evening run & swim is pretty rough. It takes a while to shake out the cobwebs. I also passed 10,000 views on my blog today. Crazy!!!

Daily Miles: 2.92 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 287.46 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Motivation Monday: Julie's Favorite Things

It's amazing how the same things can be said a thousand different ways and they're still effective every time.

I wanted to share a blog post that I found incredibly inspiring. It's a post called "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things" and it's a list of what my childhood friend, Julie, Loves about running. You can read it here:
Too Much Fun: These are a few of my favorite things.

When I was growing up, Julie was my best friend's baby sister. In fact, I knew her when she was literally just a baby. Through the magic of the internet and social media, I've been able to reconnect with her and her siblings lately and it's fun to see some of their adventures from a distance.

Julie ran the Salt Lake City Half Marathon with some of her family members yesterday. She's quickly building an impressive list of long-distance accomplishments and I'm glad she's sharing her experiences with people. In her post, she gives a recap of the race and lists some of the great things about running in general.

I've thought and/or written most of these things many times before, but seeing them in writing and reading through them again is still motivating. It's always good to be reminded why we do this!

Congratulations, Julie!!! And thanks for letting me share your writing!

As for my training, today was the typical Monday trip to the Rec Center. I ran four miles on the treadmill and today was one of those days that listening to some music on my iPod made the miles pass easily. (Being next to the fan again helped.)

Liz met me for our weekly swim and she felt like pushing us a little so we swam an extra couple of laps after what has become our routine of 800 meters. She even said she could have done an even 1,000 but we stopped at 900 and called it a day. I'm inspired by her drive to stay active throughout the pregnancy. She's my hero!

Goal For The Day: Run & Swim
Run Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Time: 28:29. 7:07 Avg. (7:30, 7:13, 6:58, 6:44).
Route: Fenton Rec Center Treadmill.
Conditions: Another day by the fan! Love it!

Swim Distance: 900 meters. (4 x 200, 100).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: I probably had my music turned up too loud for it to be healthy for my ears, but it helped the first three miles fly by. Mile 4 felt a little more like a typical, boring treadmill run, but by then I was almost finished. The swim felt pretty good today. I was breathing easier.

Daily Miles: 4.00 Mile Run. 900 meter Swim.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 284.54 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 7,450 meters.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Feeling More Focused

I struggled to find my focus early this year. I didn't have a specific goal in mind. I was still running because I Love it, but I wasn't 'training' and I wasn't running on any particular schedule. Over the past week, I've been getting back into more purposeful running and I'm starting to feel more focused again.

Registering for the Hospital Hill Half was a big step because it gave me a specific race to think about.

I think it helped that I started blogging again. It gives me more direction to have things laid out in writing. And I think it helps with accountability.

I think it also helped to prepare some training schedules for friends during the past week or so. Even though I'm not the one running the races these schedules are for, working on them got me back in the training mindset.

After an afternoon of organizing the house to make it more baby-ready, I went for a Long Run that was a great way to unwind. But it was also the first Long Run I've done in a while that felt like a training run. I made more of an effort to push my pace a little and I caught myself thinking about my upcoming half marathon several times.

I ran 8 miles today and it was obvious I was a little rusty. I didn't really feel comfortable until about 4 miles into the run. After that, I settled down and everything felt smoother but my perceived effort is still off. I felt like I was moving at a really fast clip later in the run but my watch kept me grounded in reality. Which is fine... I can't instantly return to top shape... all in good time.

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 8.26 Miles.
Time: 57:18. 6:56 Avg. (6:54, 6:33, 6:47, 6:44, 6:51, 7:04, 6:53, 7:34, 1:55*).
Route: To Rte 66/1 Lap/Home.
Conditions: 58 degrees. 3:56PM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: The entire run to Rte 66 felt a little awkward. I'm happy with the pace, but I was constantly thinking about my stride and how my feet were landing. By the time I left the park to go home, I felt more settled and by miles 5 and 6, I thought I was really moving but my pace was actually slowing. The 7:04 definitely felt faster than that. I'm okay with the 7:34 since it includes the hill on Central and the Days Inn hill, but I would be thrilled if those hills didn't slow me down so much. Of course, the hill on Central is also responsible for the 6:33 I ran in Mile 2, so I guess it balances out.

Daily Miles: 8.26 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 280.54 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 meters.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two Gomers: Season 5

I've talked about the Two Gomers several times and they're getting ready to start the fifth season of their podcast. This season's goal is to run the Red, White, and Boom Half Marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the 4th of July.

I always look forward to the Gomers' podcast. They're entertaining and it has been fun to follow them as they progress as runners because it reminds me of my own journey and development. Recently, there has been a shift in that dynamic for me though. For four seasons, I've been very focused on these two guys (Anthony and Steven) and their development as relatively new runners. Listening to their experiences was like looking back on my own learning curve as a runner. Now, they're spending more time talking about some aspects of running that are foreign to me... running as a parent.

Anthony and his wife are the proud new parents of a baby girl! It has been fun to listen to him talk about how a baby has changed his life as a whole and how it is impacting his exercise and running routine. Steven has been a father for years and it has also been fun to learn from his experience and to hear him give advice to Anthony.

These guys started their running adventures together a few years ago. Their timeline as runners has always been the same. And as a runner, my timeline was much longer than theirs. But now, from the parenting perspective, everything is shifted. Steven is the seasoned pro. Anthony is getting his feet wet. And Liz and I are still waiting to get started.

Today I set up some schedules for the Gomers and their abbreviated preparations for the half marathon. That was my contribution as the more experienced runner. Now I'm looking forward to the next 10 weeks of podcasts and learning from them as the more experienced parents! I'm interested to see how well they are able to stick to whatever schedules they settle on. I know how difficult it is to train consistently without kids, so I'll be curious to see how much of an adjustment it is for Anthony and what kind of advice Steven has to offer.

If you get a chance to check them out from the beginning (Two Gomers Run A Half Marathon) or to start listening in now, I highly recommend the podcast. You can find them on iTunes (Two Gomers Run For Their Lives) or at their website

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

Notes: A day off today. I'm jumping back into full-time running but don't want to overdo it. Spent the day working on grown-up responsibilities... yard work, shopping, babysitting. Busy day!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 272.28 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 meters.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Technical Difficulties

Well, that didn't go as planned.

I'm already not a fan of running early in the morning. But when the temperature is in the 40's at 7AM and in the 60's or 70's by the afternoon, I'm always tempted to put off my run until I get home from work. There was a little rain moving through this morning and the thought of warm, dry, running was too tempting so I waited until after work to go for a 4-mile run.

Unfortunately, that morning rain was a result of the cold front that passed through town. It was actually 55 degrees at 7AM and only 50 degrees by 6PM when I went for my run. Even though it was colder, I could live with a 5-degree loss if it meant a stress-relieving end-of-the-work-week run.

Then, about a mile and a half into the run, I paused my Garmin while I waited at an intersection and it wouldn't start up again. It was completely frozen. It wouldn't restart. It wouldn't change modes. I couldn't even turn it off. I finished the run and I just ran this exact route a little over a week ago, so I know the distance but I don't have any time or pace info.

After a little searching on the Garmin website, I was able to turn my watch off and it seems to be working fine. But my relaxing run turned into a colder-than-planned, frozen-watch, no-tracking-data run. They were minor setbacks but not they definitely changed the feel of today's run.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Goal For The Day: Middle Distance.
Distance: 3.91 Miles.
Time: ?
Route: Old Town Eureka Loop w/ Cul-de-Sac Extension.
Conditions: 50 degrees. 6:03PM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: I had limited data on my watch from before it froze. The map of my run makes it look like I literally flew home after 1.58 miles. The info I have: 1.58 Miles in 11:06. First mile was in 7:06 with an Avg pace of 7:03 for 1.58 Miles.

Daily Miles: 3.91 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 272.28 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 Miles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sympathizing With Sisyphus

Sisyphus was a king in Greek mythology whose punishment was to push a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down and repeat that process for eternity.

I didn't have a boulder to push, but today I made a visit to the Never Ending Hill Of Doom and felt Sisyphus' pain.

Just getting to the Never Ending Hill Of Doom involves over two miles of hilly running. Then I planned to run up the Hill itself twice before heading home. But some days, things just don't feel quite right and I never got past that 'morning run' awkward feeling on today's run.

I'm sure a lot of it was mental... I already had it in my head that today was going to be tough, so it was. I definitely wasn't attacking the hill, and passively lifting your feet and 'catching a hill' as it comes at you always makes it harder. Halfway up the Hill, I decided that one time up was enough for today. I could run it twice next week. By the time I neared the top, I was only running by the loosest definition of the word. It was actually one of those jogs that is so slow you could easily walk as fast (or faster).

When I topped the Hill, I was tired, panting, and ready to run home. But for some reason, I made a quick decision, turned around, and ran back down the Hill. I had plenty of time on the jog back to the bottom to second-guess my decision to run the Hill twice. But every step I took on the way down was another step I would have to take back up, so it wasn't long before I figured I might as well run the whole thing and go home feeling good about sticking to my original plan.

Surprisingly, the second time up the Hill wasn't any worse than the first but it wasn't any better either. I ran/jogged to the top and then shuffled my way down the other side. By that point, I really needed to get home so I could get ready for work so I took a little shortcut on the way back.

Today was one of those runs that you only feel good about in retrospect. I felt awkward and less than my best the entire run. I felt weak and out of shape on the Hill. But I feel good about how much this morning's run will help me on the hills in Kansas City in June.

Goal For The Day: Hill Work.
Distance: 4.03 Miles.
Time: 31:31. 7:49 Avg. (7:12, 7:06, 8:38, 8:19, 0:13).
Route: 2 x Never Ending Hill Of Doom.
Conditions: 55 degrees. 7:30AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: I'm sure some of the hills in K.C. will be longer than this, but I doubt they will be steeper. Hopefully, a few weeks of this will let me cruise over the hills in the half marathon like they aren't there.

Daily Miles: 4.03 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 268.37 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 Miles.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

100 Days To Go

I Love the Olympic Games!!!

In 100 days, on July 27th, the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games will be held in London. Coincidentally, our little bundle of joy should be arriving somewhere around that time as well! It's hard to believe we're about 100 days away from the birth of our first child. Crazy!

I always look forward to watching the Olympics but the summer Olympics are especially exciting. Track and Field... the Marathon... I Love the summer sports. And if our little guy times things right, I could be home on Paternity leave with a DVR full of Olympic goodness!

I'm curious to see how having a newborn around affects my training. I'm sure I'll talk about it a lot as we get closer to the big day and in the weeks and months that follow. For now, we're getting into the preparations and that includes making a little extra money whenever possible.

I'm teaching two classes a local community college and Wednesday is my busiest day of the week. I get to work at 9AM and don't leave class until after 9:30PM. So instead of running this morning, I stayed curled up in bed for an extra hour and conserved energy for the day ahead. Maybe next week I'll suck it up and get out the door early.


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

2012 Totals:
  Run - 264.34 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 meters.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Return To Top Notch Tuesdays

I added an 'Upcoming Races' page to my blog. There are always a ton of races I want to run but I usually only get around to a handful either because of scheduling issues or cost. I hope keeping a list of races I really don't want to miss will help me remember to register early. I also hope it will give me some long-term motivation to get out and train hard.

So far, the only race I'm registered for is the Hospital Hill Half Marathon in Kansas City, MO. It's coming up on June 3rd so it's sneaking up on me quickly.

I'm not following any strict training schedule for Hospital Hill since there's only about a month-and-a-half until the race. Mostly, I'm using this race to get my base mileage built back up so I can smoothly transition into my summer plans (that I'll talk about later).

The Hospital Hill Half is a very well-known race with 38 years of history behind it and it's obviously going to be hilly. So today, I started running hills. I plan to do at least two hill-based workouts a week leading up to the race. Tuesdays will become 'Top Notch Tuesdays' again. Thursdays, I plan to run The Never Ending Hill Of Doom.

Today was my usual warm-up run leading right into 4 sprints up Top Notch and then a cool-down run home. It was a chilly morning considering the unusually warm weather we've been having. Top Notch is a tough hill but 4 times up it isn't the hardest workout ever. I just want to ease my way into this. I have such a short time before the race, I probably won't take a long time to taper... it will mostly be build-up until the few days before race day.

Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 2.95 Miles.
Time: 25:45. 8:43 Avg. (8:24, 8:48, 8:32*).
Route: 4 x Top Notch.
Conditions: 45 degrees. 7:15AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: Running up Top Notch would be easier if people didn't park across the sidewalk. That side-step into the street near the top always makes the last 20 meters feel harder. Not a bad start, but I'll need to push myself more on the uphills.

Daily Miles: 2.95 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 264.34 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 meters.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Let's Try This Again

Today was the running of the 2012 Boston Marathon. Technically, I qualified for this year's race in New York last November. But, while I ran faster than the qualifying time, the race was already sold out and with the new tiered entry system, my time wouldn't have been fast enough to make the cut anyway.  I still choose to look at it as though I qualified though... no matter how little it mattered when it came to actually running in Boston.

Since New York, I've continued to run regularly, but I've been lacking... direction. I developed some potential goals for myself but one by one, they each fell by the wayside. I thought about trying to run 2,012 miles in 2012... I almost immediately fell way off pace and it's not likely to happen. I thought about running the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April... I missed the early registration deadline and eventually decided not to run it this year. I thought about running a 'virtual track season' (a friend of mine that coaches track was giving me daily workouts) to make an attempt at a sub-five-minute mile... that lasted about a week before we both realized our busy schedules weren't working with that plan.

I also haven't written in this blog at all in 2012. I have about a dozen mostly-written entries that I never posted (and probably never will at this point). I'm not sure if my lack of blogging influenced my difficulty sticking with a goal, or if my lack of a clear goal influenced my lack of blogging, but I decided it's been long enough! Time to get back in the saddle.

I'm afraid if I make too many of my posts too long, I'll get intimidated by the time demand and want to quit writing again, or I'll write everything interesting I have to say in one or two posts and then later updates will be boring. So for today, I wanted to explain my absence and get back into the swing of this. I'll be updating my page with some new info as I go along and I'll map out my newly formed goals in later posts. I'll also stick with a brief update of my daily training unless I feel there's something worth writing more about.

So today was our weekly trip to the Rec Center for a run and a swim. I was at work a little late, so instead of running around Fenton, I went straight to the treadmill and got in 3 miles before Liz showed up and we went down to the pool. We swam 4 x 200 meters in the pool and finished just before the water aerobics class would have kicked us out. The run on the treadmill was relatively short, but felt great with consistently faster splits every half-mile. The swim felt a little tough after that, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Tomorrow is back to running hills on Top Notch.

Goal For The Day: Run & Swim
Run Distance: 3.00 Miles
Time: 20:23. 6:47 Avg. (7:23, 6:51, 6:23).
Route: Fenton Rec Center Treadmill.
Conditions: Right by a fan!!! Nice!

Swim Distance: 800 meters. (4 x 200m).
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: The run felt good. I dropped 15 seconds off of the pace every half-mile (7:30, 7:13, 6:58, 6:44, 6:31, 6:15). Having the fan blowing on me made a huge difference. The swim was good. I almost skipped it in favor of running outside in the amazing weather, but I look forward to my weekly swim with Liz!

Daily Miles: 3.00 Mile Run. 800 meter Swim.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 261.39 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 6,550 meters.