Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking Back on 2006...Looking Forward to 2007. Part 1 - Looking back...

(picture is from 2005 vacation - rafting on the Snake River near the Grand Tetons)

At the end of every year, one can't help but look back on the year that is ending and looking ahead at the coming year. So if you would indulge me I will do the same! This is part 1 - looking at the year that is ending. I will cover the coming year in part 2.

2006 was the year that I signed up for my first marathon and began a training and racing journey unlike any I have experienced before. A tally:

Total Distance Run - 804 miles
Total Time Run - 156 hrs 44 min 32 sec
Highest weekly miles - 36 miles
Highest month - 137 miles (October)

Total races - 11 races
5K races - 5
10K races - 2
15K races - 1
Half Marathons - 2
5 miler - 1

Today I ran my last long run before the marathon, which is now less than 1 week away. It was a tough run in the heat and humidity, I almost cut it short. But I survived, nonetheless:

10.1 miles in 2:05:34.
Avg pace: 12:27 min/mile
Avg heartrate: 162 bpm

Now to prepare for the New Year's festivities!

Happy New Year everyone! Or borrowing from Adam - Happy Runzikah!!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

1 Week 1 Day and 7 hours.....and a few lessons from a 5 mile run

(picture is from October's Race for the Taste 10K - this is me running through Disney's MGM studios)

Today's run was 5 miles. I didn't run yesterday for a couple of reasons. First, my heel was a little sore, so I gave it an extra day off. Second, I am trying to get my house ready for a big New Year's party. I did make it out this morning, and had a nice 5 mile run. I felt a bit more sluggish than I normally would expect - I think it was the steak and seafood dinner that we had last night (yum!). But it always feels good to get out there!

This time I used the lap button on my Garmin to get mile split times and recorded the following:

Time(min) Avg Heart Rate (bpm)
Mile 1: 11:08 148
Mile 2: 11:15 155
Mile 3: 11:09 159
Mile 4: 11:32 160
Mile 5: 10:20 168

Total: 55:24 min

Some interesting notes:

During the 1st mile I played a 165 bpm podrunner mix to get warmed up, then used a 170 bpm mix to finish the run - yet the mile times did not significantly increase with the increased bpm (hmmmmmmm). If this is true I might use 165 for the race to maintain cadence and conserve energy instead of using 170+ to push myself.

Also, looking at total calories burned (per the Garmin training center software) I burned the most calories in my longest mile (4) - in fact, quite a bit more (207 cal) vs my fastest mile (5) (157 cal) or even my first mile which was also 157 cal (hmmmmmmm). I guess that shows that you don't have to work so much harder to burn more calories.

After my run, I grabbed the kids and went to Animal Kingdom for a half day at the park. Guess where the rest of the world is spending their Christmas break??? At Disney World!!! This is the first time I have ever seen the Animal Kingdom parking lot FULL. It was wall to wall people when we went into the park (around 12:30pm). We refused to wait in line for 1.5-2 hours to ride on any of the rides, so we took a crowded stroll though the Asia animal walk and got a lucky break to get into the Lion King show. That was about all we could stand. Fortunately, we have season passes - leaving early is not a big deal. Anyway, by the time we got home, my heel was sore so on with the ice again.

So, for now, I am going to baby the heel, rest up and try not to over do it on Sunday night - as I prepare for the big day - now just about a week away!!! I can't believe it is almost here. I am starting to build my packing list for the race. The plan is to use the coming week to get good rest and nutrition leading up to the race. (I should mention I am on vacation and won't need to be going to work that week). Also, I am planning to go to the expo on Thursday afternoon to beat the crowds and to use Saturday to relax and get settled in at the hotel. Yes - I am staying at Disney - or I would need to leave my house around 2:30 am to get to the race on time....this way I get to "sleep in." The last bus to the starting area leaves the hotel at 4 am. I will probably catch a bus around 3:30 am.

This is so exciting, I can hardly stand it!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Good Day to be a Runner

Today's schedule was for a 7 mile run, and it was a good day to run. The temperature was around 62 degrees with a light drizzle - it was cool and I felt good!

I decided today would be a tempo run - I was going to focus on maintaining a turnover of 172 bpm (thanks to my training buddy Podrunner). I was also targeting between 11 and 11:30 min miles. I am hoping that these tempo runs will help my legs remember a good pace. I also was going to monitor my heart rate and try to keep it on the lower end as long as possible, for at least the first 4 miles. If I felt I was pushing too much, I would just shorten the stride a bit but maintain the bpm.

So for the first 4 miles, my heart rate was hovering right around 151 or 152 bpm. I feel good at that rate and can easily maintain a conversation. After mile 4, I picked up the pace which, in turn, picked up my heart rate which hovered between 158 and the low 160's - still a good rate. Conversation would be difficult, but that was ok since I was on the second half of my run. My final mile I pushed it up just a notch, probably between 9:30 and 10:00 min mile pace. I finished the 7.3 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes, about an 11:03 pace!

The drizzle stopped and the sun even peeked out for a bit, but the temperature remained cool which helped to keep my heart rate down. My max heart rate at the end was 171 bpm - which was great! Today was a good day to run!!

Tomorrow I am off, then I have a 5 miler on Thursday and a 4 miler on Friday.

Run well!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas All!!!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope Santa was good to you with cool running toys and a relaxing day with the family!!

My Journey to Become a Runner - Part 2 - The Half Marathon

After completing the 5K, a friend of mine asked me if a marathon was next. Now the difference between a 5K and a marathon is rather significant, so I was going to wait - maybe try an intermediate race length. Three of us decided to sign up for the Walt Disney Half Marathon - January 2004. I trained on and off for the distance but couldn't seem to find the time to really train. My longest long run was about 6 miles. The holidays during December made it hard to stick to a training schedule for this early January race. I had pretty much decided not to run the race since I was not ready. One of my other friends was unable to train or run because of knee issues. My one friend from Atlanta came down to run.

Since I had paid the registration fee, I went to the expo to pick up my race packet - and then decided that maybe I would go for it after all. My race goal was to stay ahead of the cutoff pace of 16 min/mile.

It was a chilly Florida morning, about 38 degrees F, as we waited in the starting corrals about 1 hour before race time. Fortunately I got some good advice and had layered appropriately, throwaway layers and all. The gun went off and off we ran in the dark - first through Epcot where I made a bathroom break at about mile 3. I got to about mile 6 and my feet were beginning to ache pretty good. At mile 9 my legs were aching and I stopped at an aid station to put Icy Hot on my legs. At about 10 miles I got the thrill of a lifetime, running down Mainstreet USA in the Magic Kingdom. By the time I exited the Magic Kingdom there were just 2 miles left in the race. At 3 hours, 11 minutes I crossed the finish line. My friend had finished an hour earlier - but it was quite a race.

Fast forward: Yesterday (Christmas Eve) I did my long run - 14.6 miles. The first 8 miles felt great. My heart rate stayed nice and low (low 150s) and I felt good. However, during the last 6 miles, the sun came out and the 79 deg F with 75% humidity was brutal. I finished the run in 2 hrs 56 minutes - a 12:20 min/mile pace. I am beginning to think that a 5 hour marathon may be out of my reach this time around. I have been unable to sustain the 11:30 ish pace needed to hit 5 hours. I have gotten under 11:30 for runs up to about 10 miles, but not for my longer runs. I am not discouraged - it's my first marathon so the goal is to finish. I don't want to go out too fast at the start to try to meet a pace goal that may not be realistic for me. I think a more realistic target pace would be 12 min/mile - depending on the weather. If we can get some cooler weather like my first half marathon, I will have a better shot at that pace.

I am now less than 2 weeks away from the big race. My blogging since August has been a detailed account of Part 3 of my Journey to Become a Runner - The Marathon. Pretty soon I will be wrapping up the writing of that part. I should really change it to "My Journey to Become a Marathoner" since I became a runner in Part 1 when I pinned on that race number!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Journey to Become a Runner - Part 1 - The 5K

Today I found some pictures and my race number from my very first race - the day I became a runner. That day was Sept 21, 2002. I have run on and off all my life since I was growing up in Vermont. I usually would run a mile or so as a way to stay fit. I never entered a race until my 40th birthday approached. I decided to train for and run my first 5K. I remember the training well....I started by running 30 sec and walking 30 seconds. Then worked my way up to 60 sec run, 30 sec walk. Soon I was running 4 min, then 7 min, then 9 minutes without stopping. I used to read on-line about folks who could run an entire hour without stopping. That seemed just so amazing to me. I ran the entire 5K without stopping (except for water I think) in 35 min 44 seconds. I was very excited!

Fast forward to today. After going to bed a bit late last night, I slept in a bit before hitting the road around 9 am for an 8 mile run. I checked the weather and things did not look ideal. Low to mid 70s with 75% humidity. It was going to be hot. I packed my normal 8 mile stuff - fuel belt with water and gatorade, 1 Cliff shot for halfway, ipod and the trusty Garmin.

The first few miles felt like my 3 mile run the other day - I felt tired and really not into the run. I was wondering if maybe I had burned myself out. I was wondering where the charge from my run had gone. I got to about mile 6 and started to finally feel "normal" - I could push myself and not feel so tired. It was like my body woke up and began to enjoy the run. The last mile was a good push, and in spite of a slow start, I finished the run in 1 hour 30 minutes, about my normal 8 mile pace.

Tomorrow will be an off day with a 14 mile long run scheduled for Sunday morning. The plan is to rest up and get up early for the run, hoping that it won't be raining too much. If it is raining, I still want to run. I haven't done any training in the rain - this would be a good chance to do that in case the race ends up on a rainy day. I will have to leave the iPod home if that is the case, or cleverly protect it in a plastic baggie or something.

The "journey" part 2 will be on the quest for the Half Marathon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Taper run #1 - 3 miles

Three miles?? After two days recovery from the 24.5 miler on Sunday, I was ready to do 5, but my training schedule had 3 for today, 7 tomorrow, 4 for Friday then a 14 mile long run on Sunday.

Seems strange to be tapering when you look at my schedule lately....I started tapering in November.

Ah well, 3 miles it is. I was a bit tired today but had a nice brisk 3 mile run with 30 sec breaks each mile. I hit the lap button at my turn around point and did a negative split: 1st 1.5 miles in 17:08, 2nd 1.5 miles in 16:23 - pace was 10:57 min mile. Not a blazing pace, but I want to keep my shorter runs under 11 min/mile so it was ok. My heart rate was relatively high today. My average heart rate was 162 bpm, with a high of 178 as I sprinted to the end of my street. I am using 185 bpm as a max heart rate but I suspect it may be a little higher. The general formula (220-age) would place it at 176, which is impossible since my recorded heart rate is as high as 183 (end of the hot, OUC half marathon). As I sit here blogging, about 35 min after my run, my heart rate is now 85 bpm. My resting heart rate has been measured at 58-60 bpm. I wish I understood more about the heart rate training thing. For now I am using my Garmin to capture my heart rate and observing what it is and how I feel. It was a good guide on Sunday's long run to measure when I needed to take a break. I think it will be a big help in the marathon.

2 weeks, 3 days, 21 hours to go!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

24.5 miles and now the taper begins!

The plan: Run 24-25 miles
The route: Up and down Lockwood Blvd - 3 times @ about 8 miles each with stops at the house for refills and such after each "lap"
Supplies: Garmin 305, 5 Cliff Shots, 9 fuel belt bottles of water and Gatorade, iPod, cell phone, pepper spray, drivers license (for ID), $5, small towel
Prep: Icy Hot (to loosen up calves), Body Glide (to prevent chafing and foot blisters), Blistex and Bull Frog (to battle the sun).
The weather forecast: 62 deg and fog at the start, 80 deg and sunny at the finish. A slight breeze and 62% humidity.

Well from the title of today's blog, you can tell that I made the distance, although the time is not what I would hope. I optimistically started the run hoping to maintain the 5 hr marathon pace. This turned out to be a bad idea, and by mile 12 all I could do is go into survival mode. I knew at mile 12 I felt a little too worn out to be halfway done, so I shifted into conserve mode, stopped looking at my pace and focused on keeping my heart rate down to a reasonable level. By about mile 15 I felt tired, like I wanted to fall asleep while running (a rather strange sensation). I got home from lap 2 shortly after 16 miles, wishing I could stop, but stubborning announcing I had one more lap to go, grabbed additional drink and cliff shots, and ran out the door. My intent by then was to make it at least 20 miles, maybe even get beyond the 22 miles I did about a month ago, or to stop at 5 hours.

I got stubborn again and decided I was going to finish this thing if I had to walk the last 2 miles!

Around 20 miles into the run, I was really feeling the heat. The sun was mercilessly beating down on me - the temperature had risen to the upper 70s and the humidity was typical of Florida, about 60%. I found myself having some trouble breathing and realized my heart rate had risen to over 165 bpm - well into my Zone 4. So I adjusted my walking breaks. I walked until my heart rate got below 150 bpm, and then started taking breaks every 5 minutes instead of every 10. This helped keep my running heart rate between 158 and 165.

Once I reached mile 22, it was a total mind game to get home. I would walk my heart rate down into the 150's, then agree to run to the next street corner before taking another break. I would walk a little bit, then run to the next clump of trees. When I rounded the corner just a quarter mile from home, I took it in at a nice clip to finish the run in 5 hours 35 minutes.

So what did I learn?
  • I can run over 24 miles!!!! I can push myself past the wall (which found me around mile 23 - legs still worked but will and energy were definitely gone).
  • Rest and nutrition are VITAL for survival at these distances. My 22 miler was 4 hrs and 41 minutes long. This one seemed to take so much longer. I was spent from my life marathon (see previous blog post) and did not do a good job carbo loading this weekend, not to mention just getting 6 hours sleep last night. I think I set myself up for a tough run.
  • Australia is a great place to run (not from my run, but listening to Burning20!)
Now its off to work, icing of foot, and rest! The taper to Disney begins today...just 3 more weeks!!! :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Marathon of Life

I believe that some of my best marathon mental training has been taking place in the rest of my life lately, primarily my work life. As I rapidly approach the end of my 5th week of 60+ hrs and no days off, I find myself reaching that point where I don't think I can go another minute - and then I push myself to go further. I have felt like I "hit the wall" so many times, where I feel paralyzed and can't move or think. But then somewhere I find something that keeps me going.

Needless to say, my marathon training (physical) has been difficult to maintain, this week being the worst. I haven't run at all since my 15 miler last Sun, and I am scheduled to run 24 this Sunday. I think I may do a short run tomorrow just to wake my running self up! After this week, my taper begins. Though it seems I have been tapering unintentionally since my last big run.

The good news, is that this job pace ends next week, and a 3 week vacation begins. I will be able to rest up, and focus the last 3 weeks before the big race (in between getting ready for the holidays and such). I have the training base, I just need to maintain it without pushing too much. Perhaps my heel has benefited from the extra days off (the up side).

So it's off to bed with my sleepy self. Big run on Sunday!

(picture is a San Diego sunset I caught a couple of years ago)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

15 miles along a Florida waterway

And yes, we did see an alligator! Shirley and I had a wonderful 15 mile out and back run along the Econlockhatchee River outside of Orlando. It was a sunny morning starting out around 55 deg F and ending a little over 3 hours later with a temp of 66 degrees.

We met at 7:30 am. I fired up my Garmin and off we went. The park where we met the river trail was about 2 miles from where we started. Then it continued around 5 miles until our turn around point. The trail, which is also a bike trail, was not very crowded and I felt good the entire way.

Distance: 15.3 miles
Time: 3:05:06
Avg pace: 12:06 min/mile
Avg heart rate: 153 bpm
Water: 28 oz
Gels: 4 Clif Shots

I was feeling pretty tired toward the end - and there was a bit of a hill 2 miles from the end as well - but overall it was a very good run. My heel has ached a bit since then, but the ice seems to be bringing it back, and by Tuesday I will be ready for a run.

Plan for this week: A couple of 5 milers - easy week leading up to my 24 - 25 miler this weekend. Shirley suggested I run 5 hours or 25 miles. 5 hours will show I am ready for the marathon time, 25 miles, well, shows I am ready for the race. Then the official taper begins! Just 4 weeks left until the big race!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A front row view for Discovery

The advantage to living in central Florida is the ability to witness one of the wonders of modern science - a shuttle launch. The night launches are a special treat!

Thursday we drove out to Titusville (near Cape Canaveral) to watch the launch and it was scrubbed. But we were back out there tonight for another go, and we were not disappointed. It lit up the night sky and we watched until it was the size of the other stars in the sky.

Not really a running post, but a cool event, nonetheless. Tomorrow is my long run. I will be running with my friend Shirley - 15 miles on a nearby trail near a beautiful river. I am looking forward to it. The weather is supposed to be sunny and warm with temps for the run in the low 60s. I am already anticipating next week's 24-25 miler, the last big run before my taper to Disney, just 4 weeks away!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good morning, Sunshine!

With all the hours I have been working - I had turned to sleeping in and running midday as a break from my computer. But, today, I got up early (5:45 am) and got outside for my 8 mile run.

At first I wasn't thrilled to be up so early....I had gotten out of that habit! But as I ran along, and the sky grew brighter to the east until the sun poked through, I realized how much I missed the morning - and saying good morning to all the other runners, walkers and HS kids walking to school.

Today I had a nice running temp (upper 50's) - and Garmin did a marvelous job! My heart rate was not as high as on the hot humid race I ran. Overall, a great run - 1:29:29 - an 11:15 pace.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another good 5 miles and Garmin is confused!

Today I brought my gear to work and finally got out around 5 pm to do a quick run before the sun set. I brought the Garmin along, but it was having trouble - first finding satellites, and then, well, the run results were weird.

I felt great even though I went to bed late yesterday. The first mile went pretty quick. As I rounded the bend running toward mile 2, the Garmin was telling me that my mileage was decreasing! It seemed to be telling me how far I was from where I started vs. how far I ran. I kept going, keeping up a brisk pace and taking my traditional 1 min walk each mile. It felt like I was running a bit quicker than normal. Even on the last mile, I was able to run briskly. By the time I got back to the office, I had run for over 52 minutes, and the total distance was showing up as .25 miles. (Sigh!) I knew I had to have run about 5 miles.

When I got home and downloaded the route, the Garmin had the route all messed up. It missed half of where I ran. Fortunately I had my total time, so using MapMyRun I retraced my route to be 5.13 miles. With my time at 52:49, that was an average pace of 10:18! A brisk pace indeed. I will count that as my tempo run! :-)

Heel felt good today - just a little ache now from tonight's run, but overall it seems to be feeling better and recoving quicker than it has in a long time!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Burning up the treadmill

After yesterday's half marathon, I had expected to take today off to give my heel a break - however, as I left for work (yes, I had to work today...ugh!) I grabbed my gear just in case I was up for a run or the elliptical machine.

As lunchtime drew near, I realized my heel didn't even hurt, and I felt great - so I hit the treadmill (still too warm and humid outside) for 5 miles....and I burned it up! I ran it in 51:06 (about 10:13/mile). Now, I was careful in my approach since the tendon in my foot had been feeling funny lately. I did some loosening up beforehand, rotating my ankles, knees and hips, getting the joints ready. Then I walked the first minute and ran the first 3/4 of a mile at a slower pace (about 11:00 - 11:30). Then I picked up the pace for the last 1/4 mile and pushed it for the other miles - starting miles 2-5 at a 10 min/mile pace and speeding up to about 9:13 min/mile pace by the end of each mile before I took a 1 min walking break. On the last mile, I did the last half lap at an 8 min/mile pace.

My heel still feels pretty good...maybe I am finally making progress. I am still going to take it easy, just to be sure.

What was especially gratifying is feeling so good the day after a half marathon that I could pound out 5 miles. The last 3 half marathons I entered I had NOT really trained for, and hurt for several days afterwards! Today, I'm feeling fine!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

OUC Half Marathon Race Report

OUC Half Marathon
December 2nd, 7:30 am
70 degrees F, 80% Humidity, light wind
Participation: 1910 runners (finishers)
Goal: 2 hrs 30 minutes

The weather was forecast to be warm, very humid, with a slight chance of a shower.

I wanted to hit 2.5 hours - as kind of a test to see if I had a shot at a 5 hour marathon in January. With that in mind, I set my iPod to a 170 bpm podrunner song and got ready to race. I felt good today - not as rested as I would have liked but excited to be racing. I also had my new toy (check out my left wrist). My new Garmin Forerunner 305 arrived in the mail on Friday - just in time to take it for a spin during today's race.

The Garmin was fun to have. I could see my pace at any particular time, although at times it didn't seem right - I was sure my pace was a little better than it told me at times. Especially when it would flash a 43 min mile while I was standing still! But it was close. Also, the mile markers on the course did not jive with what the Garmin said I had run, and in the end, my total distance on the Garmin was 13.47 miles instead of the 13.1 on the course. I also have a heart rate monitor, although I have to say, the display of my heart rate was very small (good thing I was wearing my progressive lenses)! For the most part, I was running in Zone 4 - mostly outside my aerobic zone. I could tell I was working hard. Anyway, I had to watch that I didn't let the Garmin distract me, and actually had to ignore it at times and listen to my body. Still, the graphs and downloads I got to play with later were fun!

In the end, my final time for the race was 2 hrs 36 min. I knew I was running slower than a 2:30 time pace, but there was no way I could speed up. It was too hot outside and I was feeling it. In addition to having the iPod set at 170 bpm, I tried to run 1 mile before taking a walking break. Toward the end I had to take a few more breaks per mile, but I ran the entire last 1.1 miles of the course.

I made 10 miles right at the 2 hour mark - so I knew that 2:30 wasn't going to happen. I was able to maintain my pace (just under 12 min mile). Technically this was a PR for me. My last Half Marathon race was last year's OUC which I ran in 2:54. However, my recorded time for the Phedippedations Half Marathon was 2:32. I ran that race in two parts, however (a 10K followed by 7 miles) and I think that made a difference in the time vs running the entire race all at once. So I consider today's time a PR.

Heel update: As with any run these days, my heel ached after the race. I iced it and it did just fine.

5 more weeks til Disney!!