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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Fragility of Running

This was thought up on my run, of which I just finished not more than 5 mins ago...

Long distance running is one of the most delicate and sensitive sports. This is something I have thought about since college. No other sport's scale of performance slides as much by the balance of so many variables that go on on an hourly basis, every day of the week, every week of the month.

Let alone your diet, sleep history, and stress levels - how you train, when you train, and the conditions of your training all play into this equation which ebbs and flows daily and is manifested in your most recent run. Not even regularity promises improvement, assuming you are correctly following all the other "non running" related factors. How you train is just as big of a piece of the puzzle.

Continuing to run each day like you have been won't get you to the next level, although it will get easier to do. You have to train harder and faster. You can't continue to do what you have been doing, and magically get better. You have to shoot for new target times, you have to push yourself into deeper pain, and you have to go further. And once you bring this new piece to the table, you then slide the scale further towards the risk of injury and burnout, and premature peaking.

Even from a merely recreational standpoint, you'll notice this phenomenon from time to time when you have a great run on a Friday, take a couple days off on the weekend, and go out on a Monday and wonder why in the hell it hurts so bad and you are so much slower and lethargic. The degree to which you feel a "random" off day is not as noticeable as it would be in basketball, soccer, or football. Yes, those are skill sports, and the off day happens nevertheless in any of those sports - but having played many sports, I've never been as amazed at how delicate and needy running is.

So many things come into play with how you will feel on your next run. Sometimes you can't put your finger on it, and sometimes the answer is clear. Running is a needy mistress. She takes time, effort, attention to detail, and persistence to get over the rough patch of your training and keep on going...all while trying to balance the scale to achieve your goals.

Today was one of those days. I had a pretty poor outing, but I got through it. I have a constant battle with wanting high performance, and also living how ever I want. Both cannot be achieved, but I'm never convinced to allow one to rule. Such is my state, and such is true for many things in life. However, I am proud to say that while the battle wages on in running, my maturity in other more important parts of life have improved.

Happy running....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Columbia, SC half Marathon 2012 recap

Going into this thing I was asked what my goal was. I replied I didn't have one. Forced to predict in my head what I could do, I was only allowing myself to think sub 1:30, potentially in the 127-28 range from thinking that I could go faster than my split from Thunder Road. After that, I was untrustworthy to predict lower. Perhaps a moment I thought about the fact that I could run a personal best, with somehow just having a great day since I was going to be pretty fresh not having run since Tuesday - but I didn't allow that thought to feed.

The 7:15am start was pretty unpopular as I went to bed the night before; nonetheless, I awoke without more problems than usual, and felt close to normal once Mike Mitchell and I set off for a warm up jog. My belly had been filled by a wonderful cheese ravioli the night before, and a cliff bar and two cliff gel chews prior to towing the line. Wasn't a huge field, and was able to get out without any stress at all.

Noticed I was sub 6 min pace the first half of mile 1, then I settled myself, and the first hill of the course right on mile on Blossom St. slowed it down too. The course was very hilly. Steep climbs from the first mile all the way though the whole race course, as well as steep descents. The hills seemed more rolling and steeper than Charlotte, while maybe not as long. The second mile I slowed up a bit as I climbed a larger hill on the course before the mile marker. Miles 3 and 4 I started to find my rhythm and the participants started to settle in. Where I found myself was locked in about 20 yards off a small pack of full marathoners who were going just under or right at 6:30 pace. They had found their groove ahead of me, and I kept them within reach until the course did a weird little detour for the half marathon guys, which funneled me out in front of them around mile 5 or 6. My 6th mile was a good bit faster, but I think I was just cruising off a nice stretch of flat/downhill. Now being in front of the pack, I only had a few strewn out bodies in front of me to keep an eye on.

After the first half of the race, I started to feel in control and was grooved into a pace. As I started the second half of my race. I kept the reins on and continued to focus on staying in the pace while I managed the ups and downs of the streets. The couple guys I could see where still out of striking distance, but I managed to keep them in my sights. Body one was maybe 70 yards in front of me and person number 2 in my view was maybe 150 yards in front.

Physically, I was not feeling too taxed in the legs, and my aerobic capacity felt very comfortable. Mentally, I had Gotye's "Somebody that I used to Know" playing in my head, and I used that phrase to keep me moving forward to people ahead so I could pass them and pretend the song applied to them "somebody that I used to know" as they moved behind me. In my mind, I told myself to get more aggressive with 5 miles left, and see if I can pick it up.

that 9th mile (1st of the last 5 of the race - where I was supposed to notch it up) I did pick up the pace, but my split remained in the 630 range thanks to a very large hill which momentarily put me over 7 min pace while I climbed. Still, I pressed on, and the 10th mile I had a nice split riding some downhill. With three miles to go, I wanted to surge, but another huge hill was in the way. Miles 10-12 had the longest hills of the course.

Two miles to go, I was coming closer to the man in front of me. Having gotten some large hills out of the way, and sensing the end, I started pressing on harder towards him. I was able to get my strength back, and started pulling him in and picking up my pace. One mile to go, and I had him about 30 yards ahead, and the guy in front of him was maybe 50 yards ahead of me. The first quarter mile of that 13 mile I fell asleep - I know this because I looked at my watch and saw 12.26 and reacted with some better turnover and a spirit to start letting it out. I was reeling them in, and got the man in front of me just after 12.5. The guy in front of him was coming to me too and shortly there after I got him, as we made our final turn and had the +.1 downhill finish ahead. I got up on my toes and darted in toward the finish. I know some of those repeats helped me with the speed that final mile.

It felt like a big accomplishment to hang on, and get the two guys in front of me that I had had my eye on for over 6 miles.

As the finish clock came into view while I was coming in, I was surprised and happy to see that I was going to get a P.R. and get under 1:25. I knew Mitchell and Carson, my old teammates and still current good friends, had done very well in the race, and I sensed I contributed to that good day with a nice finish myself. (Mike WON and Carson was 2nd!)

The race was nice. No complaints by me. Luckily I was wearing my Garmin, otherwise I would probably have liked to have seen more mile markers on the course - but that didn't bother me.

My Race Splits: 6:20, 6:42, 6:30, 6:28, 6:41, 6:21, 6:32, 6:30, 6:29, 6:24, 6:38, 6:27, 5:53, .47 (.15) = 1:24.46, 6:28 ppm, 5th place overall - GARMIN Map, Data, Etc.

**Looking back, I think I need to be more agressive the entire race, starting earlier obviously. This was only my second half marathon, and I am still learning. I perhaps was too respectful towards the distance, and think I don't have to be - for I might not hit the wall in the half, like you can easily in the full. I was unsure of my training, but am able to still run pretty well. Now, I'm hoping to take this encouragement and work from the race into the next few weeks as I go into Boston. I am a little more optomistic after this, that I have a punchers chance of running a PR in the full up in Beantown next month. Still not a great chance at this point, and I'm still primarily concerned with enjoying the experience as opposed to getting hung up on a PR, but We'll see...**

after cool down (2 miles) = 17 miles for day

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Half Marathon week

After work on Monday I felt I needed to get in some miles since I was sick and didn't long run over the weekend. It wasn't very long but it was a nice run with David Brinkley.
-Out and back from home down the greenway to Morehead and back.
Miles: 9.5
Pace: 7.40

Tuesday - just a little shake out.
Miles: 2.5
Time: 20 mins

Wednesday - Had an appointment after work, then went to the Bobcats game so no run.

Tonight - I never run two days before a race, well almost never. Not making the exception tonight. What a slacker I am - but oh well, will be in fine spirits anyhow since I get to babysit Avery tongiht while wifey goes out to some little party...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recovery Run

Really feeling crummy, I managed to push through and complete my goal of 6 miles. Battling some head cold/allergies. Pace was slow, but going 6 actually allowed me to get loosened up towards the end. Just ran around my neighborhood.
Miles: 6
Time: 49 :40
Pace: 8:16
Garmin Map and Splits -

Miles for week: 19.3 miles on 3 run. 1 medium length run at normal pace, one track workout, and 1 recovery / sick run at slow pace.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feb 2011 vs Feb 2012

I was thinking that I ran more last Feb. than this Feb. I knew that last year I was gearing up for the GPX, and that this year, even though I'm "gearing up" for Boston - I feel like my training has been anything but serious (not that I'm happy with that).

Surprisingly, I was wrong! At least in terms of mileage. Yes, last year I ran more times than this year (comparing just Feb.) - 18 to 15 - but my mileage in Feb 2012 was higher than Feb 2011. 106.6 to 99.3

Last year I averaged 5.5 miles per run, and this year I have averaged 7.1 miles per run.

Basically, I have 1 month left to get in shape for Boston. I hope I can get a few good weeks in!!!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

800s with a cold, in the warm night

too many cookies yesterday afternoon. Didn't get home until after 6, and didn't get started on this run until almost a quarter till 7.
warm up - 12 mins (to Marion Diehl track):
Started the first interval without knowing what I wanted to do. After about 500 meters I think I decided on an 800. Hit the first interval kinda slow, but my legs were not feeling real great yet. Also, my head felt stuffy/runny, and I was a little malnourished. rested 2 mins (as I would btw them all, except the middle) then set off on another. Into that second one, I decided I would stick to 800s for this "workout."
After the third one, I decided I would make it 6 800's, but would rest a little more at this 'half way' mark. ( about 3 mins).
The last 3 were quicker, and the very last one I really went after it with about as much as I had. Maybe would have been faster, but I went pretty good on the 5th one, too.

311, 257, 254, 254, 243, 232

cooled down about 8 mins back to my house.

miles for day: 5.5

Happy March 1st 2012

Picking off where I left off.....

After a great Sunday run on the 19th of Feb., I got up Monday the 20th and flew to L.A. for the week for work. I didn't run monday, giving the legs a rest. Tuesday I thought about running before my first appointment in the morning, but relished the sleep and comfort of my hotel bed instead. Wednesday, I finished my lunch meeting, then found some time to get in a few miles, once I set up shop over at my buddy Chirs Bohle's house in Venice Beach.

Wed., 2/22/12
Too excited to go far, and wanting to spend some time with Chris before I had to get to my next meeting for the day (the Clippers game over at Staples Center), I managed to only log a few miles. Ran up the beach bath to the Santa Monica pier and back. Just casual pace/legs feeling a bit fatigued. My watch was dead, and thus my mileage, time, and pace is all a guess
Miles: 3~

Thur, 2/23/12
Still waking up early given the time difference, I awoke to make it a little further this time down the beach and north towards Santa Monica. Instead of staying on the beach bath, I sauntered up the roads and rose in elevation as I passed the pier, and paralled the streets of SM. Made it, in my guess, about 2.25 miles before I turned around. Pace, again, was casual and easy.
Miles: 4.5~

After flying home Friday, I found myself getting in and heading back out, this time with my wife and daughter - who i was very happy to seee -, to watch my Moms championship basketball game. She is the coach of this small private school in Charlotte for the highschool girls.

Sat., 2/25/12
My legs still feeling a bit tired, but managed to go a little farther, and get some more "Shake out" as I started prepping mentally for my long run the next morning. My garmin was back. Just ran along the neighborhood streets.
Miles: 5.1
Time: 40.58
Pace: 8:03

Sun, 2/26/12
For the third Sunday morning in a row I met a group of runners at the Old Bell entrance to McAlpine park for a long run. The pace was a little faster this time, and I successfully achieved my goal of getting in 14 miles - my longest yet of the year. The pace was just dictated by the large group of quality runners, and me not wanting to fall off. Useually long runs are supposed to be slower, but with my lack luster training in the week, I don't feel this does anything BUT help me!
Miles: 14
Time: 1:39:35
Pace: 7:06

Week: 26.6~ miles for the week. 4 days running. 3 easy and short days, 1 pretty good long run.

Monday, Feb. 27th, I rested.

Tue, 2/28/12
Legs were feeling a little tired, but not too bad really. Pace was comfortable, and I kept it easy and light. Again, I'm embracing the recovery days, and after my last run on Sunday, I needed to. Ran the standard loop through Huntingtown  Farms
Miles: 7.8
Time: 1:01:08
Pace: 7:51

Wednesday - Had something pop up after work, and thus my day was, no run.

Thursday (today) March, 1st - hoping to get in some quicker running tonight, but it might be a little late. We will see what happens.