Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Week of 03/24/2014: The Point of No Return

Last week of base conditioning; next week off to tempos!  In preparation I actually ran my first tempo this week.  As I begin running longer distances I have been running multiple laps of my shorter courses; in doing so I have noticed a psychological effect that comes from passing a bailout point and realizing that there is nothing to do, but to go forward and complete the run.  Maybe it's just me, but it feels like the miles go by easier after you have passed the point of no return.
My 12:30 GMP for Grandma's is clearly low hanging fruit; I am fine with it though.  5:30:00 will still be a PR time for me, plus it goes hand in hand with my plan of being prepared, enjoying myself and not blowing up on the course.  I didn't accomplish any of those things in the 2012 TCM.
I intend to enjoy Grandma's experience in June and then put it to work to set a more ambitious goal for TCM in October.

Monday 03/24/2014

Scheduled:  5 Mile Recovery Run
10º, Partly Cloudy.  This and the previous (Sunday's) runs went really well from a comfort standpoint; I think that I got away without proper stretching for a long time, and if I continued pushing it I may have injured myself.  Most likely I would have, since even now I have little nagging issues that I could only imagine worsening as I ramp up my miles.

Tuesday 03/25/2014

Scheduled:  8 Miles, 6 Mile Tempo @ GMP
12º, Clear & windy. Ran the first 2 miles nice and slow, for the next 6 I bumped up to my GMP (Goal Marathon Pace) which, in all fairness to runners everywhere, is still pretty darned slow. This run did not kill me.  My 12:30 per mile GMP appears to be extremely do-able at this point, 12 more weeks of training should make it more so.
One challenge that I have faced this winter compared to years past is that I have been running shorter circuits closer to home, doing multiple laps in the case of longer runs.  The nice part is that I can bail out halfway through a run if it is going bad.  The not so nice part is that on runs where I really just need to buckle down and get through them, that bail out point looks awfully tempting.

Such was the case today on the fifth mile when I went past the turn that would lead me back home.  It was cold and windy, and my butt was numb.  It was very tempting to turn in and cut the workout short.  Once I got past the turn I noticed that not only did I feel better, but I realized that I must have been contemplating ditching at some subconscious level for some time.  Even though my butt was still numb, I felt a whole lot better after I had passed the point of no return.

Wednesday 03/26/2014

Scheduled:  6 Mile Recovery Run
09º, Partly Cloudy.  A beautiful run under a pre-dawn sky. Typical first two mile issues, everything loosened up in the third mile and the run went well from there.

Thursday 03/27/2014

Scheduled: 5 Mile General Aerobic Run
37º, Overcast & drizzle.  What a difference a 30 degree temperature shift makes! No outer shell, no beanie, no balaclava today. Ran in the rain, sloshed in the puddles, thankful that there were no ice patches. I ran the first mile at 12:30 as a warmup, ran the rest sub 12. The shins bothered me a little bit, but no issues on my plantar fascia or my ankles. A day off from running tomorrow to swim and then my long run on Saturday. Great week so far!

Friday 03/28/2014

Scheduled: XT (Swimming)
I skipped my cross training and caught up on sleep this morning. It snowed an inch or two of wet sloppy snow last night and froze up into an icy crust this morning. I am hoping that the sun will melt most of it away prior to tomorrow morning's 10 miler.

Saturday 03/29/2014

Scheduled: 10 Mile Long Run
20º, Clear.  A good morning for a run, tough it took the better part of 3 miles for my shins to loosen up.  There were about 4 nice miles in the middle, before my hip flexors, my hamstrings and my ankles started to tighten up during the last three.  On all my long runs so far this winter I was able to get away with just a 20oz water bottle; today I drained it and was starting to hurt a little by the end.  Will definitely need to start using the camelback on 10+ mile runs, and bring along some nutrition - I wasn't bonking quite yet at the end, but the tank was definitely low.

Sunday 03/30/2014

Scheduled: REST
Nice restful day.  Went for a 2.5 mile walk with the kids.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Week of 03/17/2014: Clever title goes here

I don't have a lot of clever quips about training this week.  I got to bed late a couple of nights midweek, and it caused me to choose between getting enough sleep or my miles in.  Clearly I need to be disciplined enough to do bot, so that is my goal for next week.

Also, I needed to do some body sleuthing to determine the cause of some leg discomfort.  I need to do more stretching (especially calves and hamstrings), and get serious about doing some core strengthening.

Monday 03/17/2014

Scheduled:  4 Mile Recovery Run
25º, Overcast.  The run went fairly well, though it was difficult to stay at recovery pace, my body wants to run about :45 to a minute per mile faster.  I'm glad that I finished the run when I did, as when I left for work freezing rain was coming down.

Tuesday 03/18/2014

Scheduled:  5 Mile General Aerobic Run
I skipped my morning run to catch up on much needed sleep and ended up running this in the evening.  First off, for the fist time in hundreds of uses, my Garmin 610 flaked out on me.  During the first mile I was seeing an average lap pace that would indicate that I was moving around 25 miles per hour, which gradually eased out to a first mile split of 10:41 (Which I knew wasn't right based on my surroundings when the lap alert chimed).  Later when I uploaded my run to Garmin and could see my map I confirmed that the first half mile or so appeared that I was moving via helicopter.  So at first glance I am not impressed with the recent firmware update.

Secondly, I was bothered during much of this run with a tight left shin.  I needed to stop several times to stretch it.  Before mile 2 was done I concluded that my planned 12:00 pace was going to be untenable and even began considering ditching the run and cutting it short.   Thankfully I did not and in mile 4 I started to feel like my normal self.  In the fifth mile I opened it up a little and ran it in 11:40.  There may be people who can just run without a warmup or stretching, but I am not one of those people.  Lesson learned.

Also, conditions for this run were 28º and snowing, the snow just beginning to accumulate.  Maybe not perfect conditions for some, but for me it was a lot of fun - I love running when it's snowing.

Wednesday 03/19/2014

Scheduled:  6 Mile Recovery Run
I changed this to a rest day and rescheduled this run to Sunday.

Thursday 03/20/2014

Scheduled:  5 Mile General Aerobic Run
I cancelled this run and extended my rest.  Legs felt a lot better today.

Friday 03/21/2014

Scheduled:  XT (Swimming)
Got in a quick 1000 yards in the pool this morning, had an appt. that I needed to get to.
Did my traditional 500 warmup, followed by a 500 cooldown.  No main set.

Saturday 03/22/2014

Scheduled:  8 Mile Long Run
09º, Clear.  It was a beautiful clear day for a long run, though with the slight breeze it was cold enough to send me scampering back into the house for my balaclava before I got started.

I thought that I had been doing a good job of stretching, but the first 2 miles of this run really let me know that I have been neglecting my calves and hamstrings.

Sunday 03/23/2014

Scheduled:  REST
07º, Clear.  I ran a 5 mile recovery run as a makeup to one of the midweek runs that I skipped.  I actually meant to run a 6 but I was about a half mile in when I realized that I had turned on to my 5 mile route instead of going straight on my 6.  The first couple of miles today were much better.

The easy pace plus the added stretching between yesterday and today paid off.  I was feeling good enough by mile 4 that I was considering tacking on a 2 mile loop to work it up to a 7, but in the fifth mile my butt started getting cold.  Since my butt is directly attached to the tight hamstrings that have been wreaking so much havoc on the rest of my legs lately , I decided to call it a wrap before I overdid anything.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Week of 03/10/2014: Back on the Horse

While licking my wounds last Sunday, I re-formulated my training plan and strategy for Grandma's.  Fortunately there is still time to work a plan.  What it requires is a firm commitment to run all my training miles, and to adust my expectations regarding my pace (& ultimately my finish time).  In short I will NOT be averaging 11:30 miles at Grandma's in June.  While I do think that it is possible that I could condition myself to run 12's, I am not sure how much I would enjoy it or what kind of shape I would be in after I finished.

The plan then, is to complete my 'unfinished business' from the 2012 TCM.  I intend to pace at 12:30, finish at 5:30 or better, and most importantly, finish well (All smiles, all wheels on the wagon)  Almost as an omen that this is the right plan, the same 5:30 pacer from the 2012 TCM will be pacing the 5:30 group at 2014 Grandma's.

I can re-evaluate this plan over the coming weeks, there is still time at this point if I really think that my GMP (goal marathon pace) could/should be faster.

Monday 03/10/2014

Scheduled:  REST
I extended my recovery from Saturday's race into Monday.  Overall most pain had subsided but my quads were still bothering me.

Tuesday 03/11/2014

Scheduled:  3 Mile Recovery Run
I ran this one indoors on the treadmill, and I took it extremely slow.  As in I only walked the first and third miles, and the second mile was barely a light jog.  My heartbeat barely got over 100 during the entire thing.  But what is important is that I got some blood flowing down to my sore leg muscles and got them used to the idea f moving again.  They felt pretty good afterward, though the quad pain lingers on.

Wednesday 03/12/2014

Scheduled:  4 Mile Recovery Run
Back outdoors!  18º, Clear.  I took a nice easy run on my oldest route (out and back to a stoplight 2 miles from my house).  The pace was light and easy, which was good considering the number of ice patches that I encountered.

Thursday 03/13/2014

Scheduled:  5 Mile Recovery Run
23º, Partly Cloudy.  Another light and easy paced day.  Even though there were a few clouds out I could still make out a bright red Mars hanging overhead in the pre-dawn sky.  It was really a beautiful time to be outside.  Again, the ice patches require constant vigilence.  Running outdoors this time of the year is not for the careless.

Friday 03/14/2014

Scheduled:  REST
Fridays are normally my swimming days, but this week is spring break and the middle school where I do my lap swimming was closed this week.  I took advantage to get in an extra day of rest.

Saturday 03/15/2014

Scheduled:  6 Mile Long Run
19º, Clear. Again, this is a tricky time of the year to be running outside.  During the daytime the snow & ice patches melt and re-freeze over night; the result is that the surface conditions are never exactly the same two days in a row.  You cannot simply "remember" where the ice is today based on where it was yesterday or two days ago.  So as before, I had to be very careful to watch my footing.  All of this was fine considering that the theme of this week has been very light and easy running.  The surface conditions have actually worked in my favor considering my tendency to run recovery runs at too fast a pace.

Sunday 03/16/2014

Scheduled:  REST
Enjoyable day off sleeping in, with the kids climbing in and joining us before we woke up for good.  A nice time at church and an al around good day.  Back out on the trail tomorrow!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Week of 03/03/2014: Dress Rehearsal

This just in:  Winter sucks!  I hope that spring really is around the corner.

I missed the majority of my workouts this week due to lack of sleep.  My daughter came down with what turned out to be strep throat, and I spent most of my nights laying with her in her bed, tapping her butt and stroking her head, trying to help her get comfortable and stay asleep.  The net of all that was that by morning I was in no mood or condition to work out.

All that and Saturday was my big 10 mile race.  After 3+ weeks of blowing off my training it would have not been a surprise that my performance suffered, but what I experienced was a breakdown just as bad (and perhaps at a micro level worse) than the breakdown in the 2012 TCM.

The question that I am left to ponder is really a simple one - Do I want to continue to undertrain for my events and then fail miserably at them, or am I willing, truly willing, to commit myself to the proper training, so that I can really throw down the best possible effort, and have something besides a black box crash analysis to go over for these race reports.

I better mull it over quickly, as this week I also laid down my money for Grandmas.  I am officially registered for two marathons this year.

Monday 03/03/2014

Scheduled:  4 mile Recovery run
I slept in the morning and ran this on the treadmill in the evening.

Tuesday 03/04/2014

Scheduled:  6 LT (4@HMP)
Skipped.  The evening workout followed by a morning workout thing.  So I slept in the morning and then life got in the way in the evening.

Wednesday 03/05/2014

Scheduled:  4 mile Recovery run
Skipped.  Around 11PM or so my daughter got restless, lots of tossing turning and whimpering.  She wouldn't settle down unless I lay next to her the entire night.  By morning time there was just no way that I was going to get up and run.

I officially threw my hat into the ring and registered for Grandmas today.

Thursday 03/06/2014

Scheduled:  Rest
I had visions of a makeup run, but it just wasn't in the cards.  My daughter was restless and whiny for the entire night so I basically slept right up to the point that I had to get up for work.

Friday 03/07/2014

Scheduled:  XT:  Swim
Third straight night of restless kid syndrome.  by the time 4:30 rolled around I said screw it and went back to sleep.

Saturday 03/08/2014

Scheduled:  Race - 100% Irish for a Day 10 Mile
I blew up.  And then I died.  Race report here.

Sunday 03/09/2014

Scheduled:  4 mile Recovery run
I was still in a lot of pain after yesterday's debacle.  It was a day to rest, lick wounds and re-assess the Grandmas training plan.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Race Report: 2014 100% Irish for a Day 10 Mile

I got up around a quarter after 6, my breakfast was 2 english muffins with butter & jam, and a cup of coffee.  I drove down to the race site, parked about 2 miles away in a church parking lot.  I was really surprised with the road conditions, they were icy and rutted.  I made my way to the starting area, made use of the portapotties (they were plentiful), and enjoyed pre-race hot chocolate.  The sweats drop off was at the bandshell, and as I removed my warmups I got the first hint that the wind coming across the lake might be a problem.  Fortunately that omen never came to pass, as the sun got up higher, and the wind stayed mostly calm the weather conditions were never really a factor.  In the starting area it was obvious in my vicinity most people were running with one or more people that they knew.  As I typically do I kept quiet and just observed others.  Everyone was in good spirits, and it seemed like a good bunch to race with.

Once the gun went off it took almost 90 seconds to cross the starting line.  A lot of start/stopping, in typical Minnesota rush hour fashion.

The first mile felt pretty good, I intended to run it around 11:00 but ended up just over 10:30.  "All good," I thought to myself, if it stays this way I'll just run even splits throughout the race."  Split - 10:38

The second mile has a couple of hills on it, and I made a mental note that this stretch was going to really suck on mile 8 when we come back around Harriet for a second lap.  Also, I noticed a strange ever s slight numbness in my left foot, almost like it was going to sleep.  It didn't hurt, it wasn't bothering me, it just felt a little weird.  If I had the benefit of knowing that this was foreshadowing, I would have taken the time to stop and re-tie my shoe.  Split - 10:33

The third mile was where the first signs of trouble showed up.  My heart rate was still up from those hills in mile 2.  I dropped off my pace a bit, but my heart was still going 160.  Split - 10:58

Miles 4-6 it was very obvious that my primary goal of a 1:45 race were not in the cards, and I switched to my fallback goal of 2:00.  But as each mile went by my times were going up, and it was not looking good.  Around this time I began talking to some of the people around me.  The one nice thing that I have found about running off the back of a race is that the nicest people are usually back there Average split - 12:10

Miles 7-9 is where the wheels really came off the bus.  I could no longer even maintain an easy jog, recovery run pace.  I took walk breaks to get my heart rate down.  I took walk breaks to go up hills (I was right, those hills on mile 8 sucked) I took walk breaks to rest from walk breaks.  In the 9th mile I felt a sharp twinge in my left ankle that lasted for a couple of steps and then went away as mysteriously as it appeared.  The numbness in my left foot from mile 2 had been constant and accepted by my brain as "Normal" for the time being.  Even at this point I did not link the two. Average split - 13:30

In Mile 10 I caught up with one of the runners I had befriended earlier in the race.  She was also struggling (It was her first time covering 10 miles in a single run at all, much less in a race).  I was determined to finish the last mile running the entire way, so I pulled this runner along with me, talking her through.  I countered her negative talk with positive talk (which actually helped me tremendously, because I had been having some pretty negative internal dialogue for the past hour at that point).  About a half mile to go I started to get a shooting pain in my left knee.  I sucked it up and we crossed the line together.  I wished her well and went off to get my warmups.  Split - 13:07

  • My plan was to run a 1:45 race - average 10:30 per mile throughout.  Start with a slower first mile, make up the difference in miles 2-3, and then run even 1:30 splits the rest of the way.  My fall back strategy (Assuming that I couldn't hold the pace) was to run a 2 hour race (Average pave 12:00 per mile) 
  • I was not able to hold to this strategy - it was apparent only three miles into the race.  I switched to my fallback strategy, and for a mile or two thought that I had a chance of achieving it.  But as I started needing more and more frequent walk breaks (See 'Conditioning' below) it slipped away from me.  By the 7th mile I accepted it for the train wrek that it was.   
  • I ended up over 18 minutes off my primary goal and almost 4 minutes over even my fallback goal. 
  • There is no doubt whatsoever that I had seriously cut back my miles in the weeks leading up to this race - I was not ready to maintain my goal pace over the distance.
  • I could not get my heart rate to settle down, it was redlining throughout the race, even after I had conceded my pace.  I had to take ever more frequent walk breaks and nurse myself to the finish line like an overheating car.  The worst was when I would go past race volunteers posted along the course and get a "Lookin' good!"  from them.  I don't think that they were intentionally being patronizing, but all in all it was pretty embarrassing since I was doing anything but 'looking good.'
  • Hindsight tells me that a combination of my calf muscles being too tight and my shoes improperly laced created a chain reaction of events resulting in irritation of the tendons on the top of my foot.  Adjusting for my foot caused misalignment in my knee that over the distance resulted in the shooting pain. 
  • The week leading up to the race my daughter came down with what turned out to be strep throat.  I got poor sleep the entire week as I cared for her at night.  While I have not gotten sick, there is still 100% certainty that I was exposed to the virus.  So to my mind sleep deprivation and a busy immune system definitely contributed to the breakdown.
  • If I am serious about running two marathons and running them "well" this year, I definitely need to stick to my training plan and get my miles in with no more excuses.  Also, I don't have specific hill workouts planned.  These need to happen, because those hills were not even all that big but to me they were killers.
  • For the conditions I went with a full beanie, light fleece gloves, last year's long sleeve 5K jersey over a Nike pro combat hyperwarm long sleeve shirt, tights, Nike running socks and my Asics GT-1000's.  
  • I was fortunate in that it was not very windy, as my gear was not wind resistant.  A good add to the list above would have been a light windshell to keep my torso and arms warm.
  • I am convinced that at least part of my leg issues can be attributed to the top laces on my left shoe being cranked down too hard over the top of my foot.  I will be looking into lacing alternatives for my shoes.

The two mile walk back to the car was a nightmare.  The top of my left foot still hurt, my left knee still hurt, and the plantar fascia on both feet felt like they were on fire.  All that plus I was stiffening up.  The next day I had DOMS in my quads.  All said I really need to look into my conditioning plan.

There are a few things that I would have done differently - Gotten my miles in, stretched properly, paid attention to what my body was telling me earlier on.  As for whether or not I will ever do this race again, my answer has to be "Maybe." It is definitely a special time and place of the year.  I find myself wondering how I would have felt about the day if I had just run the 5K and really opened it up.  As for how it helps me to prepare for the next event on my calendar (Grandmas), it served as an eye-opener.  I need to re-asses my race plan, ensure that I am able to get my miles in and get to the start line prepared.  I don't like blowing up in races nd would prefer not to have it happen ever again.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Week of 02/24/2014: National Rest Week

In response to how good the rest at the end of last week felt and the just plain ridiculous amount of snow that we have been getting, I declared this week a "National week of rest."  In doing so I am focused on getting my nightly routine (& thus my nightly sleep quantities) back on track, as well as letting my feet get a reprieve from the pounding.

Next week will be a moderate week ending in Saturday's 100% Irish for a day 10 miler.  I am not where I hoped to be speed wise, but I have no doubt that I can cover the distance.

Also, this week I decided not to do the 2014 Blaine Triathlon.  The driving reason is that with all the focus on running events this year, I will not be properly conditioned for the swim or bike legs.  I'm not great at triathlon to begin with, and it's not worth the cost of the entry fees or the wetsuit rental to suck at something even worse than I normally do.

Monday 02/24/2014

Scheduled:  REST

Tuesday 02/25/2014

Scheduled:  REST

Wednesday 02/26/2014

Scheduled:  REST

Thursday 02/27/2014

Scheduled:  REST

Friday 02/28/2014

Scheduled:  XT:  Swim
Got in 2000 yards in the pool.  Main set:  2x: 50-100-200-100-50

Saturday 03/01/2014

Scheduled:  REST
I got out and cross country skied a little under three miles with my son.

Sunday 03/02/2014

Scheduled:  Rest day