Friday, August 27, 2010

Road To Indy Week 8: Meet me halfway

I can't believe it. I am at the half way point!  It's been a very fast build up and mileage, and I was a bit concerned about that when I started. I think up to this point I was doing 40 mile weeks in the height of my marathon training in the past. With the new program I'm already putting in 50+ mile weeks and getting ready to run the first of three 20 mile runs next weekend.

It has come with some aches and pains, but nothing that isn't manageable. I've been having a lot of pain in my shins and some pain in my left achilles tendon. It gets very tight after runs and especially in the morning when I first get out of bed. These are pains that could be easily remedied if I would make more time to stretch. I'll get right on that...starting tomorrow. Or whenever. I've got this under control.

Monday: The usual easy 3 miler, but with a little bit of a twist. Instead of just running the usual neighborhood route I headed into the neighboring subdivision that has a trail through the woods. I don't use it as much as I'd like to, but it's very hilly so I save it for when I really need something different. This was one of those days. excellent road/trail run.

Tuesday: Another 9 miler on the Little Miami Trail. Once again I found someone to "chase" on the second half of the run. It always makes a run better.

Wednesday: I returned to Lunken for today's run and what I've started calling "the gauntlet". That back stretch on the path is a flat long stretch surrounded by trees that don't really provide any shade. So you have no view of anything, no shade, and no mercy. It's just a long, straight endless path that wears you down. Maybe I'll start timing myself on the gauntlet. Let's make this long boring stretch interesting.

Thursday: I was struck down with the dreaded summer cold. There was no running today since I woke up and felt like my head was stuffed with cotton. Rest day.

Friday: Summer cold be damned. I was back on the road today hitting the hill down the street for some hill repeats. I was feeling all that awesome still, so the speed wasn't totally there. I did get 6 repeats in at a respectable time and finished up 6 miles feeling pretty good all things considered. It's kind of gross, but running with a cold actually helps clear out the sinuses. It gets things moving.

Saturday: It was back to the Little Miami for a 9 mile pace run. I don't know why I haven't been using caffeine more for my runs all these years. It works like a miracle. It helps that I don't drink caffeine all the time, so that shot of caffeine once before the run is like a shot of adrenaline. It may be partially psychosomatic, but that's fine too. Whatever the case I had a great run this morning. Caffeine and an overcast slightly drizzly morning makes Adam a happy boy.

Sunday: Wait. What week are we in? This is week 8 right? It's only the half way point. And yet.... I was feeling a bit nervous about this one. 19 miles so early in training? Crazy! With a shot of caffeine and a banana before the run, a powerbar for the run, and an extra bottle of water planted along the way I had plenty of fluids and food. The trail was well shaded and cool. The legs were feeling very good. I didn't feel really tired until the last 2 miles, but by that point all was well. Since there were lots of people out there were lots of rabbits to chase.

From here on in it's alternating 20's and 12's for long runs. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Road To Indy Week 7: I gotta get back in time

I'm officially one week behind on my weekly marathon training update. My bad. It's been kind of a busy week with this happening, and I caught a summer cold which really messed with my head for a couple of days. I don't deal well with the whole headachy, sinus drainage and pressure thing. It makes me want to stick a sharp object through my temple to relieve the pressure. Would that be an over reaction? I don't know how you people deal with the allergies and all that crap all the time. I'd have to move to Arizona or something.

Anyways, let's go back a week. I think 3 turns will do the trick, but don't let yourself see yourself or you'll go mad. Cut me some slack. It's been a Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family and my little girl loves her some Harry Potter. And that's the story I'm sticking with.

Monday: Had a nice easy 3 mile run through the neighborhood. I gave the Nike Plus another try just because I hate myself. I figured it would work with the iphone in the fancy arm band. I was wrong. It failed me again. Still dead to me Nike Plus.

Tuesday: I like to have a rabbit to chase. Have I mentioned that? Not literally, of course. But I find when I'm running amongst other runners in a race or even in an imaginary race as I try to catch some runner in the distance I almost always feel motivated. The Little Miami Trail is really good for this on busy days as was this Tuesday. I had a 9 miler to knock out and the trail was hopping. Those long, flat straight aways allow you to see runners way ahead and makes for a great target to run toward. The first half of the run was good. The second half was better on the way back. I really found a great pace.

Wednesday: Retreat from the heat. This was the first time this year I've had to take to the treadmill because of weather. Really the first time at all. I just couldn't bring myself to do another brutally hot run, so I took retreated to the gym for a 4 mile run on the treadmill at a slight incline. It was as boring as ever, but a nice relief from the heat. While I was there I tried out one of the fancy new computerized spinning bikes for a 5 mile ride as well.

Thursday: I ditched all the fancy iPhone and GPS equipment for a good old fashioned track workout. It felt really good to just get out on the track with a stop watch and burn down some 800 meter intervals. It's easy to get bogged down in all the crap they try to sell you with fancy gear and gadgets. Sometimes you need a reminder that all you need is a good pair of shoes and someplace to run. The pace on these intervals was perfect. Shooting for about a 3:30 800 meter pace. Nailed it.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I did this.

Sunday: I met the running group down in Newport. Well, I sort of met the running group in Newport. I was running late from getting there after work, so I parked outside of Mokka, our post run breakfast spot this week, and headed for a run around the city. It was kind of nice to get back downtown and run the bridges into Cincinnati and back to Covington and through Newport. It's always been one of my favorite places to run. Unfortunately on this Sunday it was brutally hot. It made for one tough 12 mile run. The rest of the group finished before me and called me as I was heading into mile 8. I was feeling beat up and roasted by that point. They had just sat down and ordered my french toast. Oh man. It was on. Suddenly I had something to run for. I would have run through fire to get to that delicious treat.

Coming soon: revisiting that running movie marathon. For real.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our little baby is all growds up

I can't believe my little girl is starting 4th grade today. We took a trip to her school last week for an open house where she got to say hi to some friends, and more importantly meet her teacher. On the way to the school I asked her if there were any teachers that she hoped that she didn't for the year. I was surprised to hear her say no.

I can remember every year going to the school's front doors toward the end of the summer with anticipation and sometimes trepidation to find out who would be my teacher for the year. It seems like every year there was at least one teacher with a bad reputation for one reason or another. There were the teachers that were very strict. The teachers that gave swats. Remember the days of swats and the stories of the infamous  paddle with holes in it? The mythical aerodynamic brute of a paddle that would leave you with a bruised butt and tears in your eyes. There were the teachers that favored a group of students: girls, boys, jocks, cheerleaders. And the teachers that had some sort of body odor issue. There was the story of the class of students leaving a bottle of mouthwash for a teacher with a particularly serious case of bad breath. Good times.

This year she gets to start the year with a curse and what I see as opportunity. She broke her thumb a couple days ago and will be going to school today with a cast. This is ice breaking gold as I told her on the phone. She gets to start the school year with a story; possibly a fantastic one. My advice was to spin the story to her advantage. She fell on her bike while riding down a hill. Or did she fall off her bike while finishing a world record setting jump over 4 of her neighborhood friends that were lying on the ground side by side? Or did she race into the street on her bike to save a kitten from getting run over by a car leaning over cowboy style to scoop the kitten out of the way just in the nick of time injuring her thumb in the process?

She didn't seem to want to use any of my fantastic ideas. Her loss.

Aiden through the years. I prefer to watch it in reverse and see her get younger and less grown up looking. You're freaking me out girl.    

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Newtown 5K Race Report

The Newtown 5K seems to be just a blur of heat and sunlight in my memory. I'm pretty sure I was there. I have a race number. I've seen the results. That's my name right there in black and white. By all accounts I was there, but I can't really account for much of it. Let's give it a shot.

I buzzed down to Newtown right after work and made a mad dash to get signed up then it was straight to the road. I was going to take full advantage of having closed streets on which to run. I had 9 miles to get in this morning. The plan was 3 miles before the race to warm up. The race. 3 more miles after the race. Seemed like a good plan at the time. What I didn't account for was the fact that it was Ohio. I think they said it was 115% humidity. Is that possible? Did anybody drown during the race?

Let's keep this short and sweet. The first 3 miles were pretty good. There were lots of runners out warming up, which always ups my game. I was feeling good, feeling super fast right up until the moment when a pack of teenagers (probably feral) cruised by me looking like they weren't even trying. I admit it. I had a brief daydream of tripping the front runner and watching them pile up like a car crash. Is that wrong?

The race was a flat, fast course right through the middle of Newtown. I don't really have much of a breakdown of the race, because it really does seem like a blur. I set myself on autopilot and just went with it. I had no particular goals for the race or expectations. By the time the race started at 9 am it felt like it was approaching 80 degrees and climbing. That does bring back one distinct memory of the race. It was an out and back course. Right before the turn around there were a series of trees shading the course intermittently. I remember feeling a distinct drop in temperature every time we hit the shade. It felt at least 5 degrees cooler. The sun was blazing that morning. I tried to keep it around 7 minute miles and finished up with about a 7:13 pace. According to my watch I was a little faster. They weren't using timing chips, and I know it took me at least 15 seconds to get to the start line. That would put me at about a 7:06 pace. Despite the heat and post work tiredness it felt good and that's what matters.

Right after I finished I grabbed some water after the finish line, eyed the food spread longingly and headed back out on the course. The final 3 miles was a challenge. My legs were still feeling good, but the heat was really taking it's toll. I pushed through it knowing that some of the people still out on the course were suffering much worse than myself. I felt bad for some of the runners as some of them looked miserable. Races in August are not cool.

Two things made up for the crummy conditions after the race. First was meeting up with Facebook friend and fellow Bataviain Leah. Hi Leah! Props to you for running the race with a child in a stroller. I did notice after the race that the child was absent from the stroller. I would have ditched the kid too. He was totally dragging you down. A time comes when kids need to learn to be self reliant, and if that time comes in the middle of a 5K run so be it. A very close second was that food spread after the race. They went all out. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy stuffing my face with oranges, grapes, watermelon, bananas. It was the best fruit I've ever had. Ever.

Next year I think I'll sign up for the race, but just show up for the breakfast buffet. As all you sweaty runners come into the finish look for me. I'll be the one with a plate grazing on all the finish line fruits and pastry. It's gonna be glorious.     

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Road To Indy Week 6: Take me to another place

So far this has been an interesting exercise. It's amazing to look back and see that I've had the worst run and the best run of training this year all in one week. If you asked me about these days a few months from now there is no way I would think of them all happening only a few days apart. It seems inconceivable. That's how it goes sometimes, and that's one of the things I love about running. It's like a box of....something, what was it? Kittens? I think I'm having heat stroke.

Let's wrap it up and put a bow on it.

Monday and Tuesday: Two of the worst days of running I've had all year. The heat and humidity really got to me on both these days. I had one hot, terrible short run and one hot, terrible 8 miler. The dog days of summer are here for real and I'm over it.

Wednesday: After the last two days I just couldn't deal with another hot, miserable run. It's a rest day for me.

Thursday: Things start to turn around as I head to Juilfs Park for a tempo run. I was still feeling pretty worn out from work, but the weather was a little less crummy. The plan was a 40 minute run building up to near a 10K pace for about 5 minutes around the 20 minute mark. It didn't quite pan out that way as my legs weren't quite there, but it was better. I was able to maintain a good pace.

Friday: Another rest and travel day. After a long night at work and a two hour nap we packed up and headed out on the 5 hour drive to Pigeon Forge Tennessee for a little family trip.

Saturday: I had an easy 8 mile run scheduled at no particular pace. Instead of just a straight run I decided to mix it up. I did a 3 mile warm up before I ran this race. Then I did a 1 mile cool down. It was only 7 miles, but I figured 3.1 miles all out makes up the difference. It was by far the best run of the week and one of the best races of the year. It just felt really, really good.  

Sunday: 17 miles in August?!?! Are you kidding me? I despise you running plan. Another early day up and out the door to try to get in the miles before driving home. I ran up the strip past tourist trap hell and found a little running path that followed a river to a park. It was an unexpected and excellent find amongst all the pancake houses and tourist shops. The run wasn't great. I was pretty spent after racing yesterday and spending the day out and around Gatlinburg. I was able to squeeze in 15 before heading back to get packed up.

I hate to say it, but I'm ready for summer to be over. Bring on the cooler weather.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

West Hills 5K Race Report

Who in their right mind get's up at 5:30 in the morning while on a family trip and drives for 40 minutes into the next town to run a race? Oh wait, that would be me while in Gatlinburg over the weekend for a little family weekend. Saturday morning I was scheduled to run 8 miles for my marathon training. In the interest of staying on schedule and adding another state for this goal I rolled out of bed at 5:30 am hopped in the car and went in search of the West Hills YMCA in Knoxville.

With the help of my iPhone and the race flyer forty minutes later I rolled in to the race site feeling pretty good. I picked up a banana and a Red Bull on the way. I decided to do a little experiment. I'm not a big caffeine consumer. I don't drink coffee regularly and keep my consumption of soda to a minimum. This morning I was going to do a little performance enhancing by following the guidelines for caffeine intake that I had heard recently on Phedippidations podcast.  This could go either way. Either it will help or my stomach may decide to reject the stuff. Game on. 

Before getting caffeinated and race ready I needed to get in some miles. I decided 3 miles would be a good start. That would be a nice warm up followed by the 3.1 for the race and two to cool down. Good plan. I had a vague idea of the course based on some markings that I saw on the road, so I headed off in that direction. As I was running my mind wandered back to the race flyer and this line "Challenging 5-hill course...". Is it wrong and weird that I liked the sound of that? Don't judge me I hate flat courses.

I finished up the run feeling really good. It was do or die time. I had about 30 minutes until the race, so I headed back to the car and cracked open the Red Bull. According to the podcast and Run The Planet I should consume "from 1.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight (3 to 9 mg/kg) taken one hour pre-exercise". In my case that comes to about to about 225 to 600 mg. I underestimated how much I'd need as one Red Bull only has approximately 80 milligrams of caffeine per can according to the Mayo Clinic website. Maybe it's for the best. I'd rather underestimate rather than over do it and end up with a sick stomach.

Race time and so far so good. I was feeling pretty good. I had my caffeine, some more stretching and water. All systems are go. As I went to the starting line I realized this was truly a small community race. There were a little over 100 runners and walkers present. The weird thing was there were many more of the Vibram Five Finger shoes than I'd ever seen at a race before. Weird. I'd found a hot bed for barefoot running enthusiasts in the middle of Tennessee. Who would have guessed?

The race was on. Since it was such a small race there would be no mile markers and no mile splits being called out. I decided to just run with my stop watch. There would be no gps and no tunes to distract me. This race would be a good test to see how things are going in training. The first mile went by in a blur. I didn't push the pace really hard. I set a steady rhythm and just concentrated on maintaining good form, breathing and an even pace.

How many hills was in this race? As I entered mile 2 I was into a good race pace. There was very little flat ground on this course. It was a series of up hill and down hill stretches, and I was loving it. With each hill I would put on a little surge and increase my turnover trying to close the gap between myself and the next runner ahead of me. With each down hill I would try to not pound the pavement and let gravity do the work instead of fighting against the hill. 

I went into the final stretch of the race feeling somewhat tired, but with something left for a kick. There was one particular runner that I had been close to the entire race. I passed him early on. He came back and passed me during one of the down hill sections late in the race. In the final mile or so I kept him in my sight. We were done with the hills and heading into a park that I recognized as being close to the finish from the earlier run. I wasn't exactly sure how far it was, but judging by the time on my watch there had to be less than half a mile left. I picked up the pace and started to close the gap. 

Off in the distance I saw something orange. It had to be a cone leading in the finishing chute. I put on a full sprint.  Legs pumping, lungs burning I passed my target and through the finish line at 21:44. It was an average pace of 7:01 and good enough for a second place finish in my age group and 14th overall. Small races are awesome for that.

I stuck around after the race for a while and had a good chat with one of the barefoot runners about his crazy looking shoes. He said the same as many other runners that use these things. "I had [insert calf, shin, ankle problem here] and since I've started running in these my problems are gone." I think these people sleep with the shoes under their pillows and the shoes talk to them at night.

I'd say the race was a success on all accounts.

It tastes like victory.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Ten million fireflies

I find hot air balloons totally fascinating. The fact that you can fly through the air with nothing more than some cloth, strings, a wicker basket and a flame is amazing. We got up close and personal with some pretty awesome hot air balloons over the 4th of July weekend. They stayed on the ground, but put on an awesome show as they lit up the night.

Watch the bottom right hand corner of the video at the 2:05 mark. The reaction of the kids is classic.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Road to Indy Week 5: Same at is ever was

Over the course of 4 months of training you have bad weeks and you have good weeks. Then you have these weeks which are ridiculously hot, uncomfortable and at the same time completely forgettable. Let's say that's why it has taken me so long to post up the weekly wrap up. It's barely worth writing about. Move along...nothing to see here.

Wrap it up:

Monday: I had a run around the old home town: Batavia. It was slow and sore after a night of work, but nice to have a change of scenery. I always forget how small downtown area is in Batavia  With a 3 mile run I pretty much ran the entire downtown area. 

Tuesday: Another change of scenery as I headed out to Loveland to run an 8 mile run on that section of the Little Miami Trail. It felt really good. Surprisingly my legs were feeling much better than the day before. I had an excellent run with the added excitement of trying out a new running app.  Look at me the fancy beta tester. I've said too much. Lock it down. You never read that thing about the thing that I'm not testing, but I have to say it is pretty awesome.

Wednesday: Skipped my run today for more important things like hanging out with the kid and playing Mario Brothers Wii. You got to have priorities and the day's priority was conquering world 3. Mission accomplished folks.

Thursday: 5x or maybe 6x hill workout on the 5 mile trail at Turpin High School. (1/4 mile hill) I lost count and made myself rum an extra lap or possibly 5th. I'll have to go back and look at the stats.  Post work so as usual tired and stiff but by the end felt good and didn't mind the extra lap.

Friday: That  4 miler that I skipped on Wednesday was rescheduled for today. I ran the usual route from home with a delicious side of trail running.  I cannot live on asphalt alone. Sometimes I need to eat some dirt up. Yum.

Saturday: 8 mile pace run. As usual I started strong, too fast, and suffered at the last mile. I think lack of sleep catching up with me. That's what I'm gong with: lack of sleep and heat. Fact. 

Sunday: I finally was able to reconvene with the running group. It has been weeks and it was fun to meet up after the run for some delicious breakfast. Long runs are mostly about getting it done, so we can eat breakfast. Oh yeah, I ran 15 miles and it beat the crap out of me. The run beat the crap out of me, and that new, super secret, beta app is battery hungry. It ate my iphone battery about 3/4 of the way through the run. This is going to be a problem on long runs.

Coming up: more running, movies and a new video.