Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Heat

I skipped running a couple of days last week because it was just too damn hot.  Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, and the fact that I have several training mesocycles under my belt I have a new philosophy.  "It isn't about the single workout or single effort, but is the culmination of all of the workouts or efforts that creates the summation of the improvement."  This is my creed for this training session.

So what does that mean to me you ask?  Well, let's say the boys head down to the ole high school track for a session of mile repeats.  You know the boys, your usual training buddies that like to run their big mouths.  You have a plan and you are going to stick to that plan.  You know your pace, you figured it out last night.  You memorized your splits, you even wrote them on your arm so that you would nail them.

Your off and there you are hanging right there with the boys.  I mean you have too, you don't want to be the wimp of the group.  You round the last turn of the first quarter and hit the straight away.  You feel your legs getting tight and you know your breathing is just too fast.  As you cross the 1/4 mark you glance at your watch, whoa! way too fast.  But do you slow down?  Hell no, your not gonna be that guy.  You finish the first mile 35 seconds faster than planned.  The tall guy says "How was the pace?"  Everybody in the group is bending over trying to find their left ventricle.  Everybody says, "Pace is fine, no problem."

What a bunch of idiots we are.  Cause next week we are so burnt out that I end up skipping a few days and the rest of my week is shot because I had to keep of with the fellows.  Not this season no way.  If I have to run on my own with my buddies this whole season, so be it.  I'm older, wiser and more disciplined and I'm not gonna get sucked into that whole Saturday morning macho vortex.  What is important is looking at the whole week as one long workout.  Put enough effort into todays workout to get a good training effect but you have to leave enough in the tank so that you can hit all of your workouts for the entire week.  Recover on the recovery days.  Rest on the rest days.  And push it on the hard days, but not race effort.  One days effort doesn't make us 3:00 marathoners.  One years steady efforts will make us a 3:30 or less marathoner.

So, I have really been trying to watch my paces and hit the goals but honestly, it just ain't happening.  I don't know if I'm just slow or if I have too many miles on my legs, but I want to think it's the heat.  The Pftitz plan that I am using this cycle calls for 18 miles w/ 12 at marathon pace.  Sorry Pete but it's not gonna happen.  I mean there isn't any way I can run 4 miles at marathon pace in this heat and humidity.  Does that mean that I am be too aggressive with my attempted marthon pace?  Don't know but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

I ran 17 miles the other day and the start temp was 74 and the ending temp was 82.  I thought I was gonna die.  I mean it was really tough.  2 weeks earlier I ran 21 with a starting temp of 67 and an ending temp of 72.  Great run, great day, great recovery.  Can 7 or 8 degrees really make that big of a difference?  What about 30 degrees?  What can I really expect if marathon day is in the high 40's or low 50's?

You know what?  There isn't anything that I can do about any of it except get out there and run today and tomorrow and the next day after that.  So, I'll just stay out there and keep hitting the pavement and and lying to the guys about how great the pace is and keep smiling.  Cause I can run and that's all I need.

Monday, July 19, 2010

End of a great week

Saturday was an off day.  Not really planned but we had the wife's parents in town and the boys had an early morning swim meet and I never did get a run in.  It was supposed to be 4 to 6 miles of recovery so I didn't feel guilty about missing the day.  The boys both did great at the meet, the younger son finished butterfly for the first time without a disqualification.  Not DQing when you are 7 is a big deal in butterfly.  Normally if you can just finish legally you can place.  Great job little buddy.  The older son is 10 and is just a bundle of muscle.  He literally has no fat on him and is solid as a rock.  When he swims he just tries to power through the water.  For 2 years I have been working with him to just slow down and glide through the water.  I told him that swimming is all about technique and he finally had a breakthrough day.  He looked smooth and even.  He had powerful pulls underwater and man he was cruising.  Slow, easy, and powerful got him a first place finish.  It really is about technique.  Cool job big man.

Sunday was a 15 miler scheduled.  I ran with my Doctor training buddy and no one else showed up.  The weather was mid 70's at the start and around 86 at the finish.  Legs felt good as well as energy levels but I could tell that it had been a long week.  There wasn't any pep in my step and I kept telling myself that there shouldn't be any pep left after 50 miles in a week.  There shouldn't be any pep left during the race at mile 23 either and that was the purpose of the training.  To push through and carry on when you are tired and fatigued.

I am feeling fitter and stronger than I have in years.  The consistency and the volume of training is really naking a difference.  5 miles isn't even enough to get going anymore and 10 or 11 seems like a normal days work.  The last remaining bits of fat around my stomach is really hard to lose but it does seem to be slowly melting away with the long runs.  My core is definitely getting stronger and I can really tell that I am engaging it a lot more during hard efforts of long runs because I am sore the next day.  I can tell that after hard and long tempo runs my ribs and sides hurt from the prolonged hard breathing and the use of my core muscles to keep my form erect and strong.

The hills definitely seem easier and I don't even notice them unless they are major hills.  I am looking forward to a few sessions of hill repeats in the near future.  This should be the last week of my Endurance Mesocycle.  Next week will begin the Lactate threshold + Endurance Mesocycle and that's where the real fun should come in.  I hope this will be a big week mileage wise, we'll see how the dedication goes.  I am taking a rest day today, not because I feel that I need one but because I had to take Big buddy to summer camp for the week.  I wanted him to know that he was more important than running so I stayed home and helped him get ready.  I guess when I start winning prize money we might evaluate the priorities but I don't really see any Nike contracts in the future, unless they want to sponsor a good looking man......?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Running Camp

So several of the guys in the neighborhood run for the High school track and cross country teams.  They are away this week at Running camp.  Before they left we talked and they told me that they were scheduled for 55 miles for the weeks.  Little girls.  I told them that my Docotor friend was off this week and we were going to have our own little running camp this week and really get in some miles.  So they old man training camp has went well and we have had some great fun.  We should both hit the low 60's and I can feel it.

This morning consisted of an 8 mile run with 3 1/2 miles of tempo.  The air was thick and humid but we had yesterday off and were ready for the challenge.  The first three miles were nice and slow with around a 8:30 pace.  The plan was to run a 45 minute tempo run at half marathon pace.  Problem was we weren't that great at communicating to each other exactly what that pace was going to be.  So we hit our start mark and we were off. 

Now the route was my normal battlefield tour road loop which would consist of a 3 1/2 mile lollypop loop that had some decent rolling hills.  We took off at a 7:30 pace and were superisingly consistant.  My friend and I both are very good at maintaing even paces so they was no pulling or tugging on the pace.  Basically stride for stride smooth running.  The thing that I did notice was the difference in the breathing techniques that we both had.  I breath faster almost in cadence with my stride while my buddy breathes deeper and slower.  I mean how many variables are there really in this equation, is fast breathing better than slow?  Mile 1 of the tempo portion, 7:29 split.  I felt the effort but I still felt strong.  The rolling hills seemed to glide under my feet.  Mile 2, 7:31 spilt.  Everything was fine until we hit that last long slow grade.  It was about mile 2 1/2 and I just went anerobic.  My breathing went nuts but I would slack off on the pace.  That's what's greater about running with an evenly matched buddy, you can really puch each other.  I finally made it to the top of the hill and tried to recover but it wasn't happening.  It was about a mile to the end of the loop and I was just hanging on.  I would glance over and I could tell that my friend was hurting but he wasn't goning to slack off.  (NOTE: My friend is 10 years older than I am and he is an awesome athlete.)

When I saw the bridge that served as the end of the lollypop loop I told him that was it.  I knew that another hill was around the turn and there was no way.  We eased up and walked and I thought I was going to pass out.  I could just feel the mitochondria growing in my cells.  I am getting stronger with each workout and it's really cool feeling the difference.  We slowly jogged the last mile and a half in and I was literally craving my Endurox.

Great run Doc!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


6 miles recovery today.  The temps were around 77 but the humidty was like 95%.  You could cut the air with a knife.  Ran with a friend today because he is off all week.  He said it was going to be his running summer camp.  After the easy six at around 8:40 pace, we headed to a grassy community field near the house.  He wanted to get me running some plyometric drills, barefoot.  I really liked them, I just hope that I won't be sore tomorrow.  Some gentle 50 yards jogs to get started, then some strides, all barefoot mind you.  Then some high knees, some but kicks, sideway slides, and lunges.  The lunges hurt.  Everything was 50 yards down and 50 yards back.  Then I walked the 1/4 mile home barefoot.  They felt good.  I could feel the stretching with the drills.  All the long distance has me tight and I know I need to work on the flexibility.

The Garmin 305 quit working today and I freaked out.  I couldn't get it turned on.  I really have gotten dependent on it to help me with my pace.  Got online and found out that it had just locked up during charging and needed to be reset bu holding down the mode and reset button and then hitting the power button.  Whew! cause I really didn't want to spend $200 to get a new one.

Tomorrow, 12 miles middle distance around 8:30 to 8:45 pace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday July 12

11 miles with my friend this morning.  Last 3 were fast, 7:40 down to 6:40 pace at the finish.  Got caught in a 2 to 3 mile downpour.  Felt great.  Starting to feel strong and get my lungs back.  Trying to bike 30 miles tonight with an easy recovery run tomorrow.  No deep thoughts today but I am going to try to at least start logging my workouts here to keep me honest.

How do I know that the color blue to me is the color blue to you?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What to write about

The last few weeks have really been crazy.  My business is going really bad, running has been great but not steady as I would like.  The weather has been hot, the kids have been so much fun.  There's just so much that I want to get at that I don't know where to begin.  So I think I'll just make a list about topics that I want to talk about in the future and then I'll pick a day and work on knocking them off the list.
  1. Being proud and in love with my family.
  2. Business and the economy suck.
  3. What is truly being happy?
  4. What I experience during a run, the five senses.
  5. Short haircuts - buzz cuts
  6. Watering the lawn?  How much water is green grass really worth?
  7. Good friends
  8. The perfect pork barbeque
  9. Nothing stays the same.
  10. 4th of July Yorktown 8K
  11. Swim team summers with the kids
  12. Fall marathons
  13. Job search - What do I want to do?
  14. Backpacking
  15. Making memories with the kids
  16. How did I get this old?
  17. The whole country is spoiled rotten
  18. What really is the point of having all this stuff
  19. Working with my brother and father
  20. Quiet mornings on the back porch
  21. My Girlfriend - Jill
  22. My new bed - the floor, and my back has never felt better
  23. I'm not a triathlete

Friday, May 7, 2010

9 is the New 5

Our life is made of of routines, standards constants.  When I started running again 10 years ago my standard run was a 3.2 mile loop around a nearby neighborhood.  Some days I would do the loop twice or add onto the loop but when I review my log books from back then I repeatedly see 3.2, 3.2 , 3.2.  When you come around the corner and see the car there and you know that you don't have to run anymore it is really tough to keep going, so you stop and write down 3.2.

Then I moved to the other end of the city, only 2 miles from a National park.  My new standard became a 5.1 mile loop.  I love loops because once your 2 miles in, there isn't really any turning back.  I'd park my car and run my old standby, the Surrender Road 5.1 mile loop.  This became my new minimum, my new standard.  Oh there were lots of days that I'd run more, but the go to favorite, the workhouse run, became the 5.1 loop.  No more 3.2's, I had advanced past that meager distance, I wasn't a beginner anymore, I was a 5.1er.

Several weeks ago I started run from my home to the park, running my 5.1 loop and then home again.  It was cleaner, simpler, easier.  No cars no mess, just out the door and start running.  Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.  Some days I'd add on the French loop for 3 more miles but manly just the run to the Park and then my old friend the 5.1 loop.

I reviewed my schedule this morning and noticed that there weren't anymore 5.1's in my log but a bunch of 9's and 12's.  The 2 miles from my house to the park and then the 2 miles back streched my runs to 9 miles.  I still get to see my old friend everyday but after I get a good warm up.  My relationship with 5.1 was always casual and the first mile or 2 were always slow and easy.  Now I have a feeling that we are going to get serious a lot more often.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Keepin My Sanity

Life as I know it is completely upside down.  My professional life that is.  I am in the commercial construction industry an well simply put there isn't any commercial construction going on.  My company has little to no work.  We have laid off hundreds of good people because we simply don't have anything to do.  The phone barely rings.  The inbox stays empty.  My days last forever and the boredom has become emotionally draining.

During my entire 18 year carrer I have never experienced anything like this before.  Nothing to do, how do you fix that?  We're behind schedule or the vendor screwed up the order, that I can fix.  We'll move men from this project to that, we'll work more hours, add a sceond shift.  You need me to work 14 hour days, no problem.  7 days a week, I understand, let me call my wife so she can handle the kids.  Shut down over Thanksgiving weekend, yes sir, I know this client is important, I'll make it happen.  That's my job, my responsibility, I do miracles for a living.

But nothing to do?  How do you fix that?  How do you make people build 100 million dollar projects?  You can't.  And the worse thing is that I really believe that my industry is about to get even worse.  Even with the economy improving, commercial construction is so overbuilt, and the banks have been burned so bad, that I really believe that it will be several years before the industry recovers.

So what am I doing to keep from going completely insane?  I started a 24 week marathon traing plan for the Baltimore Marathon in October.  I had already increased my mileage and have been averaging 50 plus miles a week.  I'll be using the Pfitzinger 70 miles plus, 24 week schedule.  The only thing that ever kept me from a high mileage cycle before was time, but know that seems to be the one thing that I have in excess.

So, go ahead and us why running is keeping you sane, blah blah blah.  Give us all that runners hokey pokey about how it makes you feel.  That's not it.  I need a purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, a goal, something to focus on, an end to the road.  The training plan has become my purpose.  No matter what I've gotta hit that mileage, perform that workout.  My training plan is my responsibilty.  It is what I have to make happen today.  As trivial as it may be, checking off that days workout is what I have to accomplish today, this week, this month.  It gives me purpose.  How?  We'll it effects everything that I am doing.  I need to eat this at that time or I won't have any energy to make 11 miles tonight.  What is the weather for this weekend?  Should I run my long run on Saturday because it's supposed to rain on Sunday.

Does it make me feel better during this depressing point in my life, yes it does.  Since I have increased my mileage this year I have really dropped some pounds, about 15, and I wasn't big to begin with.  I'm 5'11 and I currently weigh 163 lbs.  I have dropped at least 2 inches from my waist.  I still have some fat to drop around my mid section but I am really toning up.  The most important thing is that I feel a lot stronger.  My core is really starting to strengthen and that has helped my speed.

And speed, I have gotten a lot faster this year.  I sure dropping the pounds helped, so did the increase in mileage and the increase in strength.  I really am a super positive person and I always stay positive during a run.  Right now my favorite thing to do is a hard tempo run.  I tell myself during the run, you can hold this pace because you ARE STRONG.  You can make it through this run and you can make it through tommorrow, and you'll make it through this week.  You'll make it through this economic mess just like you're gonna finish this workout.  Quit!  Quit!  If you quit this workout then you'll be quitting on yourself.  Just a mile farther, 7 more minutes, 4 laps of the track, 3 laps around, 2 laps, 1 more lap, just a 220 left, push it, finishing kick!  I knew that you could do it!  You are strong, you're a finisher!

Last week I ran a hard tempo run, 8 miles.  I pushed it way too hard.  I was so sore I couldn't run for three days.  I am working on running those easy days easy and the hard days a litttle less hard.  The goal is to finish the workout everyday, all week, not just have one super good workout a week.

I haven't blogged in a while becasue, well I didn't have anything positive to say.  But I think I've come round the turn and the wind is at my back now.  It's not gonna be easy, but nothing is easy that's worth the effort.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Training Run Route PR

I started running again 9 years ago.  I ran around a neighborhood walking trail that was 3.2 miles.  That was my normal steady eddy run, 3.2 miles.  I might run more but never less, 3.2 miles was the minimum.  Then I moved to Yorktown, Va.  My house is about 1 mile from the Yorktown National Battlefield.  This is an awesome place to run. 

Well my new steady minimum run is Surrender Field 5 Mile Loop.  It's a little over 5 miles, the Garmin has it at 5.1 miles.  I've never broken 40 minutes on this loop.  I would always go out to fast and crash and burn or would start out too slow and would never be able to make up the time.  I can run faster than 8:00 per mile for 5 miles I just couldn't get things right.  In half marathons I have ran more than five miles at sub 8:00 pace, but there was something about this loop.

It's not flat.  It definetly has some pretty good hills and maybe that's one reason I couldn't break 40 minutes, I don't know.  But something cool happened Monday.

I ran 13 on Sunday.  I was scheduled for 18 but I felt really tired and drained and since I am just base building there wasn't any need to push it.  Monday was a scheduled rest day but the weather was just awesome, low 60's, first warm day of the year.  So after work I got dressed and headed out for an easy 8 miler.  Felt a little slow and stiff at the begining, put started too pick up the pace after the first half mile.  Slow uphill and heard the watch beep at the mile marker, 8:08, wow not bad for a warm up mile. 

Mile 2 is a slight downhill at the beginning and then a long uphill so I started to lengthen my stride and pick up my knees.  I didn't really force the pace I just focused on my stride, long and smooth.  My breathing felt good and I noticed that my heart rate was increasing a little but was definitely under control.  The Garmin beeped and I checked my split, 7:31.  Didn't feel that fast.  But mile 2 has along steady uphill, how did I get a 7:31?  I don't think I've ever run a 7:31 on this stretch without blowing up.  Oh well.

Mile 3 is flat and downhill, no uphill at all.  This should be a fast mile but hey idiot your running 8 today.  Well maybe I'll just skip the three mile French Loop and try to break the All Time Land Speed Record.  I'll just float though the third mile and see what happens.  If I'm below 8 minutes then I'll skip the loop and try to break the record.  Anyway, mile three is usually where I crash so I just focused on holding pace.  Beep, beep, beep, 7:17, Oh Man I've really got a shot here.

Mile 4 is uphill, followed by a flat followed by a uphill followed by a overpass uphill.  Here it is, how good of condition am I really in.  Can I really push the hills and hold onto an 8:00 pace.  I really focused on my form and on my effort.  I knew that I can't hold pace uphills but I needed to hold the effort.  If my heart rate shot up then I wouldn't be able to get it back down and i would crash and burn.  I worked my arms and really focused on the road before me. 7:24, no friggin way, I'm gonna break this sucker today.  Just don't blow up.

Mile 5 is off the overpass and then turns through the woods onto a small stone trail.  The trail has a fairly decent uphill that normally sucks the last bit of life out of me but not today.  No way, I'm too strong.  I'm the man, I've got this.  Out of the woods and out onto Surrender Field.  This is the actual field where the British Surrendered to George Washington and here was where I was gonna break my Record.  The Field is stine flat and after the field there is only a 1/4 of  mile of flat road.  Mike you just gotta hold on.  Keep pushing your arms, lengthen your stride.  Beep, Beep, beep, 7:20.

I can see my car, just push the last 300 yards.  Less than one trip around the track. 220 yards.  You can do this, push it hard. You're not gonna die,  aren't gonna have your heart explode just keep pushing.  Move your arms pick up those knees.  There's the line and I hit the stop button.  I looked at my total time.  38:17 new Record and yes kids Daddy is the Man.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

No Body Ever Said it was Going to be Easy

Work is just awful right now.  My brother and I own a commercial construction company and well there's nothing to do.  I mean no one is building anything.  There are a few jobs out there but they are going for so little money that we would go broke even trying to do the work for those crazy prices.  So what do you do, worry.

How do you change the economy?  How can I make the banks loan more money so that developers will start to build again?   How can I get the state to build more schools when the budget is undefunded by billions?  Answer to all of these questions is that I can't.  So what can I do to effect my own destiny?  Stay positive.

I have a lovely healthy family.  I'm still in my home and we have food on the table every night.  I can be thankful for what I have.  I don't have any major bills or debts other than the mortgage.  I have a supportive extended family and all of the members of that extended family are well.  We have so much more than others in the country and in this world.  We are blessed. 

I can be thankful for having a strong and healthy body and I can do everything that I can to take care of that body.  I can watch what I eat and understand that everything that goes in my mouth effects my entire body.  I can run and swim and bike and they are all free activities.  I can lift at the gym and feel my body getting stronger every day.  I can take my children to the gym and teach them that keeping their bodies strong and healthy is as important as going to school and working their brains.  I can work with my kids on their swimming technique.  I can coach little kid soccer.  I can do all of this for no money other than the monthly gym fees.

I can not want.  I can understand the difference between my needs and my wants.  I can understand that I really don't need anything.  I have enough clothes to last me for years before they actually wear out from use.  The radio is free.   I don't need any new electronics or gadgets.  I need food.  I need shelter.  I need to spend quality time with my family.  I need to spend the day at the public beach with my family next to the house.  I need to take the kids on a hike through the park.  I need to teach my four year old little girl how to kick the soccer ball.  I need to spend a week this summer in the national park backpacking with the boys.  I need to teach the how wonderful the outdoors can be.  I need to enjoy what I have and what God has already provided me.

No body ever said that life was going to be easy.  It's like a really great hard long run,  some parts are smooth and easy, some parts are uphill, some parts really heart and you just want to quit, but when your done, you know you are stronger and better for the work and effort that went into the journey.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Year - New Plan - New Goal - Same Awful Economy

I just finished two great weeks of training.  The first week of February was 55.5 miles and last week I hit 55 miles.  I am trying to follow a Pfitz 12 week 70 miles and under training plan.  This would make my goal race the Frederick Marathon.  I haven't signed up for the race yet and I'm not sure I'm going to but I can't train without a goal.  Here's last week.
  • Monday -        Rest
  • Tuesday -        8 miles, last 3 @ 7:30 pace
  • Wednesday - 11 miles, last 5 @ 7:30
  • Thursday -       5 miles, easy 9:00 pace
  • Friday -         11 miles, last 5 @ 7:30
  • Saturady -       5 miles, easy 9:00 pace
  • Sunday -        15 miles, steady avg 8:15 pace
Sunday's long run was great.  Ran the first 8 miles with two friends.  It's always easier running with someone, especially if your the one pushing the pace.  The last 5 miles was a little tough.  Not the distance but pushing the pace.  I think my nutrition was off.  I gave Hammer Nutrition Perpetutum a try again.  After a really great session with Perpetutum last week I think it gave me some problems.  Last week I ran my last 8 miles on the treadmill and used the Perpetutum.  I was able to sip the concoction and it worked so well.  This week all of the miles were on the roads and I ran the first 8 with no fluids or nutrition.  I had made two bottles, one for after the first eight when we came back to the cars and I had a second bottle in my amphipod.  I think I drink too much of the first bottle too fast.  The entire remaining 7 miles I felt sluggish and bloated.

I really believe that the key distance running or endurance events is proper fueling and nutrition. The trick is getting your nutrition right so that you get the correct amount of calories and electrolytes so that you can keep going.  The weather definitely plays a factor on mixing your nutrition.  Things tend to go sour in 100 degree days in your stomach. 

I'm not sure if I'm going to run any races this spring.  They have gotten so expensive that it almost takes the joy out of running.  I mean $120 for a marathon is just crazy.  Especially if the weather is really bad you feel forced to get out there and race in the bitter cold and rain because you shelled out so much cash.  I enjoy running because I like the way it makes me feel while I'm running and how I feel after a good long or hard running.  I call it pleasantly sore.  I love the way my legs "hurt".  If you don't run you wouldn't get it. 

I can do a lot right now for $120 bucks.  I don't need any more shirts or hats.  I normally bring my own GU and other nutrition.  Water I do get from a race course but come on it's almost free.  I've done a few Rock-and-Roll races and the commercialisim is just crazy.  The bigger races have soley become about the money, not the sport.  Right now the only reason I'd run a race is one where I think I can BQ, otherwise I'll just train.

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he can not turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.
May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.