Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fork in a Light Socket

Runners often make mistakes even though you know better. As a kid you learn don't stick forks in light sockets and you don't lick outdoor metal in the winter--mistakes you only make once and know not to do it again. As a runner, I know certain things I should do and shouldn't do. It's amazing when I continue to do things I know I shouldn't it some alpha male Darwin award thing? (That's a rhetorical question.)

There are some things in life that shouldn't be overdone--for some reason I have a visual of a Thanksgiving turkey overcooked. Something that you spend a lot of time preparing, but if overdone, it's not worth serving to the dog. Overdone in running can be done in a single run, a single week, a given marathon training plan, or over a year (don't run four marathons in ten months like I did--not smart nor recommended.) I violated two of the three this week. Despite "knowing better" I knowingly or inadvertently mixed in three challenging runs in one week which culminated in today's long run.

If you read my previous blog on hill training (Pay me Now or Pay me Later,) you know that I tackled the "bluffs" in Lone Tree on Tuesday this week. Not exactly Vail Pass, but probably a blue square/black diamond hill. Eight miles on this hill run with a "climb" of 763 feet at a sub eight minute mile with a Zone 2-3 heart rate "put some hair on my chest." Wednesday was a rest/recovery day and I followed Dr.'s orders. Thursday I took a ride up to Boulder to visit my running PT (and guru) Mark Plaatjes.

Apparently motivated by his mere presence along with the aura of Boulder's mystique as one of our country's running mecca's I came out flying in my Thursday afternoon tempo run with the tempo miles of my five mile run hovering seven minute mile pace. It felt great not just because of the pace, but where my heart rate was and how effortless the pace felt. I proclaimed on my DailyMile log that day that the run was almost better than sex.

Friday was a rest day which I again followed the plan, but at this point, I had two tough runs already this week. According to my Vo2Max Dr., two max'ed out HR runs in one week is sufficient. Call it pre-game jitters, or nerves around a new job I was starting on Monday, I did not sleep well at all Friday night after getting to bed at eleven.

For those keeping score at home, going against me was;

I was sick a week ago on antibiotics.
I already pushed my body enough this training week (or was it "weak?")
Poor rest.
And bad judgement on today's long run.

Saturday's long run was a 7/6/1. Seven miles at a comfortable pace, six miles at goal pace, and one mile of recovery. Part of my issue is that I'm a "tweener" at this point feeling I can run a 3:15 pace, but my running group has a 3:10 and 3:20 pace group. 3:20 is too "comfortable" for me so I've moved up to the 3:10 group the last three weeks. I knew right away that if I was a cell phone, I was running on one battery square. Fueled by the superior runners, I ran the first seven "warm-up" miles way too fast; 7:30-7:40 pace on the outbound seven miles with a Zone 2 Heart Rate. The return six miles were at a brisk 7:03-7:24 pace with a Zone 3 (<152hr.) WAYYY too fast for my long run, but at least my heart rate wasn't too far "out of whack." Many lessons learned this week...mainly, don't overdo it.

An apparel footnote to my run; CW-X compression tights have a drawstring. SKINS have an elastic waistband. Run a few miles in CW-X tights without tying the waist strings and you get runner's crack. Live and learn.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pay me Now or Pay me Later

This blog is all about the hill run. Tough miles to prepare you for race day. Tough miles and even tougher to come up with a blog title. Some title names I considered;

"Hillacious Runs" Google wouldn't know what to do with this, my kids vetoed it, and it may be confused with my return from Mexico.
"The Hills are Alive" Too many "Sound of Music" references that have nothing to do with running. It did yield some amusing search results.
"Hill Yes!" Ummm...Hill no.
"The Hills" Too many Heidi and Spencer references that have nothing to do with running.
or speaking of Heidi, "Nasty Hills" didn't make the cut either.

None made sense, so I settled for "Pay me now or pay me later" since this seemed to epitomize what hill work is all about. Prior to starting my 18 week Boston Marathon training plan, I put effort into cross training and strength (weight training.) For those that follow my DailyMile training logs, you've seen me list "Meb Quads" during my cross training. No one seemed to get the reference, but have you seen Meb Keflezighi's quads?--holy thoroughbreed, he's got some pistons.

As I move into my marathon training program, putting in the hill pain during this phase builds those leg "pistons" so any semblance of a hill on race day seems less significant. I also find that with a healthy dose of hills, flatter runs seem to require much less effort.

Other than merely logging miles for the sake of miles or "building a base," hill work is one of those things that improves yourself as a runner mentally and physically. Other tough workouts that fall in this category may also include speed (track) work and to a degree, tempo runs. Another way to describe these challenging workouts are "character builders."

I seem to have had a few of those lately with my New Year's Eve single digit temperature run, last weekend's long run in 21 mph winds (was I wearing a parachute or did it just feel like I was?) and my last few hill runs.

The first six to eight weeks of my training plan have included hill work on Tuesdays to build strength and endurance before moving to my speed phase. The speed phase implements tempo runs and track work on those days leading up to "taper." Some runners do "hill repeats" by running an incline over several intervals with recovery on the way down or in-between. I prefer to map out a challenging hill route that essentially has the same objective over six to eight miles. Some Denver-area suggestions include Green Mountain with the infamous Jeep trail (the only long training run that ever forced me to walk,) and Loretta Heights. Two routes closer to my longitude are Wildcat Parkway and Bluffs Regional Park (Lone Tree Bluffs.)

Wildcat Parkway

I live in Highlands Ranch Colorado which is deceptively hilly. This route is convenient since I can start from my neighborhood and have a gradual climb up to mile one, it then picks up in miles two and three, teases you with a little downhill then up, then you return. Depending on how far I go, it's 800 to 1000 feet of climb (and descent.) The descent portion helps builds my confidence since Boston lulls you into overconfidence with the first 1/3 of the race virtually all downhill. Two weeks ago I attacked ten miles of this route with a tempo pace trying to take on the 1000 feet of incline at a 7:32 overall pace. This one felt real good as the best news was that my average heart rate was at 146 (hopefully the byproduct of eight months of heart rate based training.)

Bluffs Regional Park

This one has a bit more character than Wildcat as it's a preserved natural park in the heart of Lone Tree, Colorado (southern suburb area of Denver.) Still not feeling 100% from a bug from last week, (and apparently not thinking 100%) I took on the Bluffs this morning before work. The temps were in the 30's so I had to "bundle up" a bit with the wind thrown into the mix. I was surprised to find out that the elevation was only 800' on this "bad boy" but there's nothing gradual about the incline as shown in the video I took at the summit. I skipped the iPod on this one to enjoy Mother Nature and to keep alert from her critters; rattlesnakes, and coyotes are common in this area (the former more likely in the summer months.) It brings new meaning to the word, "challenging run."

It's funny how the mind plays games as you mentally check off runs, miles and weeks on the training calendar. At this point, I have one more week of hill training and will now begin the speed phase. Just as you have satisfaction getting through an individual tough run, I'm satisfied that this phase is over with and feel good about the work I've done the last six weeks to prepare me for the hills I will experience in Boston. Boston is known for many things including "Heartbreak Hill" and is a deceptively tough course. The course only starts at 490' and ends at sea level. The BAA throws 85' and another 100' in climb in the later Newton miles (mile 17 and 20) of the race. Without putting in my Wildcat and Bluffs work, I would definitely "pay later" without a healthy dose of hills in my diet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Devil and the Donut

This one took some willpower. Friday morning my son was expected to bring two dozen donuts to class. I was more than happy to oblige with my paternal duty, but heading off to the donut shop I felt like I was heading into a runner's "Sodom and Gomorrah." I'm four weeks into my Boston training program and donuts are not on the plan. The only donut on the schedule is the donut-shaped "zero" on Friday's mileage chart. I am also fresh off the holidays where I completely fell "off the wagon" in terms of diet. I was on the sea(see)food diet. I saw it I ate it. As a result, I'd ballooned up to almost 15 pounds over my Portland Marathon race weight (more on that later.)

You get the picture. With a weakness for sweets, sending me to go get donuts was like Colonel Sanders watching the chicken farm or Lindsey Lohan babysitting your teenage girls. Wanting my son to impress the classmates, I wasn't going with any old grocery store donut--I headed off to Lamar's donuts. The creme de la creme of donuts. I walked into the store and the aroma of freshly baked donuts filled my senses. I saw rows and rows of freshly baked donuts; sprinkles, glaze, old-fashioned and my achilles heel; the white fluff filled chocolate Long John. The donut temptress proceeded to build two boxes of a variety of the temptations.

What harm would there be in ordering a "baker's dozen" and wolfing one down I wondered. How 'bout I get the Long John and split it with my son, or scarf one down inside before I left?

I stuck with twenty four of the sugar inner tubes and tossed them in the back seat of my car ironically next to my gym bag. The devil on the right shoulder said, noone will miss one out of're running later today aren't you? I'm not asking for a medal, but to "cut to the quick," the seal on each of the two Lamar's box of dozen donuts was not cracked as I threw them into my wife's trunk when I got home. Curse you ya little circle bastards! The only donut that day was the zero miles as a reward for "rest day." I rewarded myself with a granola bar--not exactly a white fluff filled Long John.

I was feeling all proud of that day and into the weekend. Sunday was a family birthday brunch and there on the table was Mr. Lamar's evil twin, Krispy Kreme. I caved and succumbed to the pressure and gobbled up two of them like a dog scarfing up a steak dropped on the floor.

The score read; Donuts one, Ty one (on.)

A footnote to the blog. I've been reading Matt Fitzgerald's "Racing Weight; How to get Lean for Peak Performance." He has a chapter on off season conditioning and weight gain. By dumb luck (and due to injury,) I focused on strength training the couple months between training and taking time off from running. Matt indicates that it's common to gain as much as 8% of your race body weight in your "off season." By Matt's standards, I was within my rights to put the weight on that I did over the holidays. I'm working on a mind shift to avoid the kids' junk temptations and increase the healthy snacks as I begin week five of my Boston Marathon training.

"I think I can, I think I can..."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Ahhh...that new shoe smell. Nothing is better except for maybe that new car smell, but cars come and go. Yesterday I posed a ridiculous challenge to the twitter world in the late afternoon as my work was done and my mind was wandering, "Work is tedious today. If I get ten retweets, I'll blow this joint & go buy some new #running shoes." I'm known for bizarre bets; shaving my head for my brother's birthday party, sitting in a bucket of keg ice water for $5, or losing $20 when Jimmy Johnson did NOT say, "how 'bout them Cowboys" in his celebration locker room after winning his first and only Super Bowl.

But this was a bet where I would win either way--it was about some new running shoes. Having strayed to other shoes with their new designs, bold colors or bold claims, I always go back to my old faithful, Gel Asics 2150's....but the new 2011 model is the redesigned 2160. Everyone has their benchmarks on how many miles to "put on the tires" but right or wrong, I have used roughly 600 miles or twice a year. I also try and buy a new pair a month before a race so I can run on something broken in, but not broken down. My DailyMile tally, excel spreadsheet and more importantly, my body was telling me I needed new shoes.

Somewhere after three tweets, I headed out the door for my favorite local running store, the Boulder Running Company. I know my electronic handshake with twitterland was ten tweets, but I could already smell the new shoes and more importantly, my feet, legs, hips and back were "aching" for new kicks.

Thanks to the eventually five that egg'ed me on to grab a pair; (@iRun2BeFit, @tyronem, @runnerteri, @Run_Caitlin_Run, and @ang_drw.) Okay, I confess...I actually headed out the door after the first retweet. Daddy's got a new pair of shoes!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Cold One

New Year's Eve and I was heading out for a cold one. Not the barley variety but the brrrr variety. While the rest of the country has had bizarre weather and blizzards,we've been spoiled with unseasonably warm weather in Colorado as witnessed by the potted plant in my courtyard that was still green until this week's storm. December came in like a lamb and out like a lion with a snowstorm that brought subzero temperatures to the Mile High city. My training schedule called for a fourteen mile long run on Saturday. Knowing I wanted to ring in the new year and wouldn't want to run early on Saturday, I changed the schedule to head out on Friday afternoon.

I'd picked one of my favorite areas to run; Cherry Creek State Park with temps expected in the single digits. Cherry Creek State Park boasts miles and miles of dirt/gravel paths and private roads with a reservoir and nature backdrop within the city limits.

What to wear was the question. Humility is out the door and there are no style point rewards for how you look--it's all about warmth and comfort. There are some lessons you learn in training and races, and equipment is one area you learn over time. I can skip BodyGlide for runs less than ten miles. Skins are good for compression, but they aren't good for warmth. Given that, the line-up for a Colorado single digit 14 mile run was;

Thick Hat that covers the ears.
Sunglasses (for wind, sun, and snow glare.) I should have opted for the lighter lenses with my Oakleys.
Triple legs. Nike briefs, Nike longjohns, and Skins compression tights.
Heavier Saucony gloves. I have two pair...the lighter Nikes and the heavier ones. This was a heavy glove run.
Triple torso. Long sleeve Nike Dri-Fit running shirt, Nike fleece top for warmth, and my San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon Running Jacket for wind.
Heavy SmartWool Socks with my Asic 2150's. Some people do some crazy things with their feet when the temp drops; including duct tape and Saran wrap.
BodyGlide. I prep'ed at my local 24 Hour Fitness and got some bizarre looks as I applied the BodyGlide stick to my inner thighs and nipples. The fact is cold weather makes the nipples hard. Fourteen miles of rubbing any material against the nips and you'd better do something.
YakTraks. I left these in the car. The park only had about four inches of snow and mile 2 was the only non-asphalt/non-concrete section I'd have to traverse. I wish I had them for this stretch as it felt like running in soft dirt or sand. Once through Mile two, I would stick to the main park roads.
IPod. I had new songs loaded, but being a day of reflection and goals, I tuned into nature more than the new tunes.

There was no cheering section on this run and in fact, it was the first time I never encountered another runner at this popular running venue. Color me stupid or color me dedicated, my only encounters were cars, one woman walking a dog and two parents with a child and a sled. I muttered to myself that the later expedition would last only 15 minutes in this cold. I wound up running 13.3 miles as my "turnaround" was literally at a turnaround at the Cherry Creek Reservoir water tower at mile 6.7. I kept my heart rate where I wanted it to be in Zone 1-2 with an average of a 140 HR I logged onto DailyMile. One of the new blogs I follow, Watch Mom Run had a quote from Dean Karnazes posted that said,

“To call running ‘fun’ would be a misuse of the word. Running can be ‘enjoyable.’ Running can be ‘rejuvenating.’ But in a pure sense of the word, running is not fun.”

This run was not fun, in fact it sucked, but gave it me a good sense of accomplishment as I began to whittle away at the 600 miles to get me prepared for Boston. No pain, no gain?

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine