Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Week 3 - "Speed and Consistency"

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
John Rohn

Pace. I have a certain pace that needs to be achieved during the marathon. If I go out too fast at the halfway point my goal pace could be jeopardized on the back 13 miles by more than 4 minutes. If I go out too slow on the first half, I will be required to push the pace to make up the time leading to fatigue or injury. Pace. It is an elusive carrot that dangles in front of me that I continue to strive to master.

During the last 13 weeks I have been able to “stay on pace” for the full amount of the runs. This actually means I have achieved the total time needed to run the distance I needed to cover. There has been bouts of fast and slow paces but very few were consistent.

On Sunday, my main goal was to hang on to the pace. Focus on splits stay on track on remain constant. At the end of this 20 miler I felt I was disciplined enough to hold the average and hit the desired time.

Going into the last weeks I have changed my focus on will be cognitive of hitting the pace where needed and maintaining that pace. Not too fast or not too slow, but as Bob says, “right on”.

This morning was speed. The regular time and the regular group. There is consistency for you. I prefer the norm at this point. My regular friends running the regular track at the regular time. No surprises.

This morning everyone had a regular workout as well. It seems the distance on the menu was 800’s. The Twins had 800’s, Ann Marie had 800’s, Stacy & Shane had 800’s, Susan had 800’s and I had 800’s. Evan was there as well, but he ran mile repeats. I don’t even think he stopped to rest, but just kept going…
Heading down Webb Bridge the temperature started to drop. By the time, we were at the track the temperature must have been 5-10 degrees cooler than at LTF. There was a nip in the air as we scouted the track and started this morning’s program.

The Twin’s quickly connected their Wonder Twin powers and took off. I followed about 20 seconds behind them with Ann Marie tailing me soon after.

I can not speak for all during this workout on their times because they seem to be all over the place, but for me my goal was:

8 X 800M @ 0:02:52 with a R.I. 0:01:30.

The first 800M was 0:02:51 followed by:

#2 @ 0:02:52
#3 @ 0:02:52
#4 @ 0:02:53
#5 @ 0:02:52
At this point we switched direction. Going North to South on the track is a weakness of mine and it should in the times:
#6 @ 0:02:55
#7 @ 0:02:54
#8 @ 0:02:51

It takes me 2 reps to get acclimated to the change up. I was not concerned about the times since I knew I struggle on this direction but would be able to hone in towards the end.

Finishing up, I watched Ann Marie and her coach, Ken (he came a couple minutes after we started) complete the last 800M. It was good to hear Ken teach Ann Marie about pacing and what times they needed to hit on the 200M splits. The last 800M they had I think was a 0:03:02. I told Ken at this point that he needed to change up Ann Marie’s time and make them faster since she was been crushing the prescribed times on her workout sheets.

Not sure she liked to hear that, but consistently since February Ann Marie has been come in with faster times than what Ken has given her.

We left the track and headed back to the gym. One note on #5-800. I left a few seconds after the Twins started their 800M. I held my pace and in the final 100M turn I started to pace the Twin’s. As I moved ahead, both Bob & Jay kicked it up and beat me to the line. First thing Bob said was, “right on”. I turned to him and said, “right on what? “ “Pace”, he said. I estimated they hit a 0:02:59 or less on a 0:03:07 pace.

I enjoy the company and camaraderie of The Twin’s and Ann Marie on the track due to their natural speed. I let them go these days and stop chastising them for inconsistent pacing. They are all fast and can give me a run for my money. However, even with their natural talent for speed and the competitive edge they bring to the track that rubs off on my mere mortal body, I am grateful for have friends with such athletic prowess. Our goals are different at this point and I need to and will remain disciplined during these weeks to achieve the desired goal I have established for myself in the upcoming weeks.

Tomorrow I am going to commit a sin. Not a religious sin or a moral sin, but a sin against my program. This act is to allow me to spend time with my family and parents during the Easter Holiday. Let’s hope the gods are in my favor.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Week 3 - A Different Venue

Tuesday’s have been cross training days. Tuesday’s are swim days. Today is a swim day but one thing has changed. The pool. Well, in the way that I abandoned the poor quality, over promised and under delivered same old, same old pool for another pool.

I arrived this morning at 5AM to swim with the group. The group is a level lower than the Master’s Swim group I usually swim with but I swam with a group of good swimmers: Hans, Trey, Janny & Amy.

The workout was right from the Total Immersion Book:
200M Swim
200M Kick
200M Paddles
6 X 25M right side then left side kick no fins
4 X 100M with RI: 15 seconds. Hans, Trey and I were hitting 1:25’s and waiting for Janny & Amy
6 X 25M right side then left side kick no fins
4 X 100M with RI: 15 seconds. Hans, Trey and I were hitting 1:23’s and waiting for Janny & Amy
6 X 25M 3-5 Breath Strokes
4 X 100M with RI: 15 seconds. Hans, Trey and I were hitting 1:20’s and waiting for Janny & Amy
200M Cool Down

It was a short workout and I was in and out in less than 50 minutes. There were approximately 20 people in the water. The water quality was a B to B+ even after the swimmers were in the water. Clear, cool, no dirt. The pool maintenance actually came out and tested the water because the amount of swimmers in both pools halfway through the workout. The chlorine levels were a tad high, but no band-aids or clumps of hair floating in the bottom.

Good group of swimmers this morning. I was actually asked back to swim with them more often.
Lunchtime will be an upper body and core workout. I have 2 weeks of weights left before I stop completely 1 week before Boston.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The End of Week 4 - "Into Taper"

Done. That is all I can say. Over the last 12 weeks I have ran 5 – 20 mile runs all solo. The 5th one being completed on Sunday. I thought I was going to break my streak on this, the last and final long run, but my buddy had to bail on me do to family obligations. It is fine that he did though. After running 4 long runs by myself, I was not disappointed in the change of plans. I just ran the 20 alone.

I had scheduled this last long run at the Columns. This was the second time I had run the Columns as part of this training. The first time was on Ann Marie’s birthday. It was a 17-mile run for me and she met me at the Columns and ran approximately the last 9 miles with me. This was one of the few runs where I had a running partner so I remember the occasion.
On this 20 mile run, I wanted to hit the Columns for the gravel trail. With the last couple of Half Marathons two weeks apart, the joints have been feeling it over the past week. I figured with the softer (well, softer than the asphalt) trail it would save the joints and hopefully speed recovery going into taper.

Sunday was a rainy, damp, cloudy day. I arrived at the Columns at 8:50AM to start a 9AM run. The goal was to maintain an average pace of marathon pace + 15 seconds for the whole 20 miles.
The day before I plotted the run and splits. Since I was not using a Garmin I decided to make the loops and the out and back my interval times to hit. The 20 miles:

1. 3.25 Loop
2. 5.0 – Out and Back on Columns Drive
3. 3.25 Loop
4. 2.00 Inner Loop
5. 3.25 Loop
6. 3.25 Loop

When I started, the rain was light and a head wind coming from the South was blowing up the trail. It was enough of a wind that I knew that the times heading out on the trail and the back section of Columns Drive would slow my pace.

On the portions where the wind was blowing directly into my face, I tucked in with my head down, body lean and sliced through the wind. Once I turned and had a tail wind, I increased the pace to average it out for the loop. The first loop of 3.25 miles was 22 seconds fast which I was not concerned with since I tend to go out fast and settle in later. I eased into the run pace and headed out onto Columns Drive for the 5 mile out and back.

With the wind at my back, I knew the 2.5 miles heading back to the trails was going to be a negative split, so I increased cadence and speed in order to give myself a cushion for this interval section. I saw a few bikers and passed 6 runners on the road. There were 2 bikers that I saw 4 times on Columns. I kept thinking to myself, “what a monotonous ride”. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. My goodness. I even said out loud to myself, “shoot me if I ever come down here and do this kind of freaking boring ride”. Little did I know at the time, running 4.75 loops on the trail is equivalent to that kind of pain fest of repetitiveness on the bike.

At the end of the 8.25 miles and heading back onto the trails, I was a total of 18 seconds ahead of total run time. I did not worry or be concerned at this point since 1 was only 41% completed and the place where I was to need energy and sheer determination was at mile 16. This is where the brain and body stop talking to each other and start carrying on with their own conversations and telling you to stop this nonsense. With being 7.75 miles from that point right now all I needed to do was focus on pace.

After 11.5 miles, I was still 18 seconds ahead of total pace time. With this amount of time, I eased off the pace and settled in again. The wind had died down and a light rain was falling. As I made my way around the trail, I noticed an increase of population of runners and walkers. In the morning, the “hard core” walkers were out with their dogs walking in the rain. There were a few runners, but majority of the people at the Columns were 60+ year olds. They were decked out in rain gear, boots and safari hats. By the time, I was completed with the 3 segment of the run the demographics had shifted to more runners, a little younger and less clothing on, meaning no rain gear.

As I rounded the trail to make it out for the 4th segment I decided at the end of this 2 miler I was going to peel off the top layer and refuel my bottle. I had lost 5 seconds that 2 mile loop. I believe the mind was wandering a little thinking of what is going to be for dinner.

With having 13 seconds in the bank, I decided to maintain the pace and see how much time I had to make up after the stop. Rounding the Parking Hut, I made it to my car with my car key in hand. I had laid out the bottle in the trunk and like a NASCAR pit crew I had removed the top layer shirt, changed bottles and was out of pit row in 20 seconds.

With the pit stop and losing a little time on the 2 mile due to the mind starting to wander a bit, I was behind pace by 7 seconds. In my head I thought, “okay, you have 7 seconds to make up with 6.5 miles to go.” That is a little more than 1 second per mile I need to make up. “No problem”, I said aloud to myself.

When I run, after an hour or so I start to have open conversations with myself. I ask a question in my head and answer it aloud. This does two things for me. 1. It helps me hear my breathing to determine if I am over the threshold and 2. Since I am running solo, it keeps me company. In addition, we can have some good conversations sometimes. Me and I can talk about food, beer, weather, how we are feeling, where the next turn is. You name it we talk about it. Actually, we may even have conversations about you, the reader of this blog. However, we will never tell. I am not one for gossip.

During the 5th segment I started to come across either High School or College Cross Country runners. The speed and fluidness of their runs seemed effortless. Unfortunate for me they were going in the opposite direction of me so I never had the chance to pass them.

At the end of the 5th segment as I passed the “Parking Hut” it finally hit me that I was as sadistic as those bikers out on Columns going back and forth, back and forth. Instead, I was like a crazed dog chasing its tail in a preverbal 3.25 circle. I laughed at myself, said I was a nut job, looked at my watch and thought, “time to bring it home”. I was 3 seconds behind the total time at the interval. With only 3.25 miles to go, I figured I had plenty of time to make it up.

I picked up the pace slightly and felt my heart rate and breathing become more labored. I looked up the trail and pinpointed on a runner that I was to “pick off”. If I focused on the runner ahead, slightly increasing the pace and counting the time at landmarks for when they hit it compared to when I hit it, I was able to control my overall speed and pass them. This way I would not blow up with a mile or so to go.

As I headed on the short out and back to the back parking lot near 285, I passed by a few of the Cross Country runners. I knew at their pace I would not gain ground on them so I dismissed them as my target. Round the back parking lot and about a quarter mile from the turn, I had a new challenge. 3 Cross Country runners and an older runner with a Louisville Ironman Finisher hat on passed me in the other direction. From the look on their faces and the glance I got as I passed by, I knew they were in for a chase.

I had to keep my composure because this was not a race and I did not need to push it beyond the 1 second faster to hit my target time, but the competitor in me kicked in.

I knew they would track me down and overtake me if I did not accelerate. I took a deep breath and with over a mile to go, I settled in at a faster pace. Not lightning fast, just faster. The heart rate was up, the breathing was labored, the legs were yelling at me, but I knew if I thought these guys were coming down on me I would for sure make my time for this 20 mile run and then some.

As I made it over the small bridge heading North on the trail, I glanced back and saw the pack behind me by a few 100 meters. I decided at that point to just run and not look back. I focused ahead and made tracks through the leaves and pine needles. I heard footsteps behind me as I ran with less than a half-mile to go thinking these guys kicked it up, but it turned out to be my own footsteps kicking up gravel, leaves and dirt. Just then, I saw the octagon bench in the distance indicating the end was near. I increased the pace slightly more and pretended I was on my last 400M track set while I increased my kick. Again it was not a blinding all out speed, just enough to push my limits after 19.75 miles.

As I rounded the last turn and saw the Parking Hut, I kicked it a bit more passing the hut and hitting the stopwatch. 8 seconds ahead of the total goal time for the 20 miles. At that moment after glancing at my watch, the pack of 4 runners ran by as I nodded and the 4 of them nodded knowing that the friendly chase was over.

We are always thankful when we have met our goals in achieving what we set out to accomplish. For me, it was the 5-20 milers all at my targeted paces. As I hit my watch and saw the time, I knew I was ready for the long haul pace on the 19th of April.

The next 3 weeks leading up to this event are going to be filled with emotion and challenges to keep focused. Tapering for a race can be as trying as any long distance endurance training run. You need to stay focused, clear on your objective and just be happy. No need to let things upset you. There really isn’t anything that can be that damming to you and what you have achieved up to that point.

Monday. I emailed Ann Marie last night to see if she could save me a bike for Brian’s spin class. I was not going to “grind it out”, but I want to go to flush the toxins from the legs and loosen up the tightness from the run on Sunday. With Ann Marie saving me a bike, it also forced me to get up and do it. I now had a commitment that I need to keep.

Brian’s spin was rough. Not for me since I just spun, but for the participants. A lot of AT stuff. I just spun and spun while watching the Tour de France on the screen.

After I stretched and when I was leaving Chris told Ann Marie and I that the lap pool looked absolutely disgusting. He stated he was going to swim at Woodstock-LTF in the morning because of the quality. On the way down to the locker rooms, Ann Marie and I took a detour to check out the pool’s conditions. A rare pop quiz for the pool on Monday. The grade was an: F. The water had a green tint, dirt in the corners, clumps of something floating in the water, it was cloudy making the Black lane lines at the bottom of the pool look gray and to top it off there was a skim of slim on the pool’s surface.

Good to see that people who call them professionals cannot do the job they are paid to do.

I am seeking alternative venues to swim.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Week 4 - Tempo Run

“The successful man is the average man, focused.”

These weeks leading up to the marathon I need to hone in on the feeling of the pace I will carry for 26.2 miles. These current weeks of training have most of the tempo runs and long runs within 15 seconds of marathon pace.

This morning a 8 mile tempo was completed. 1 mile easy and 7 miles at marathon pace. This particular tempo run acclimate the body to become accustom to running at a certain pace for extended periods of time.

I was able to remain focused and maintain the pace that was prescribed.

Sunday will be the final exam. I have a 20 mile run at marathon pace + 15 seconds. I have a planned route that will be able to help me achieve the goal I need to hit for the full 20. After Sunday is over and if I continue to stay focused on the run the remaining 3 weeks will be a snap for this average runner.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 4 - "Cross Training"

“Irony is a disciplinarian feared only by those who do not know it, but cherished by those who do”
Soren Kierkegaard

I spoke of Evan in my writings yesterday. His youthful talent of speed is untapped and uncontrolled at this point. Evan has been swimming with a bunch of 40 something swimmers for the past 3 months. He continues to learn from our experiences on pacing and planning but he continues to be impatient and quick to go instead of focusing on the team of swimmers and using each one of them to his advantage. This not a dig on Evan, he is a nice kid, but his “need for speed” is not controlled.

Well, today he got a taste of what speed is. Lane 2 was unbalanced in swimmers with only Michelle and Jeremiah in the lane after a few swimmers exited early. Coach Mike decided after warm up to throw Evan into the lane to equal out Lane 1 and Lane 2. Reluctantly Evan dipped under the lane line into the Autobahn of lanes.

Coach Mike’s Workout:

300M Smooth
200M Single Arm Stroke with paddles & fins
200M Catch-up with paddles and fins
3 X 500M with paddles & fins on the 8:00’s
5 X 200M Descending on the 3:40’s
3:30, 3:25, 3:15, 3:10, 3:05
10 X 100M Descending on the 1:45’s
1-5: 1:40, 1:37, 1:35, 1:33, 1:30
6-10: 1:40, 1:37, 1:35, 1:33, 1:30
100M Smooth
250M Drills
150M Kick

In Lane 1 minus Evan was, Melissa, Chandelier, Brian and myself. Brian was the taskmaster of the group this morning by taking charge and making sure we were on our marks. Brian did a good job at keeping us honest throughout the whole workout.

The workout was challenging but not exhausting this morning. The paddle sets could have been reduced to 2 X 500M or even 1 X 500M and workout to more sets. A few of the swimmers are not used to paddles and they need to get accustom to the feel and power needed in using this tool. Paddle sets are a great way to build you strength and acclimate yourself for rougher open water swims.

Pool conditions: D+. Cloudy, gritty, but the bottom only had a few pieces of debris floating. The balance was off a little with the chemicals. Hands were pruned when I got out and the water burned the eyes.

After the swim I talked to Evan. He kept indicating how fast Michelle was and how he struggled to keep up with her. Michelle is 5 years younger than Evan, so you see the irony yet? I told Evan about Michelle’s swimming history briefly, which comes to find out he had no clue about, and in the end of our conversation, Evan saw the light. He said to me, “Well that explains her speed”.

Lane 1 has shown Evan the ropes of swimming in a group of 4-6 swimmers over the past couple of months, but it is time he ventures out into waters that are more treacherous. A good test for him would be, Michelle, Carmen, Susan and Evan in one lane. Then we will see whose feet will be slapped.

Seriously though, it would be good for Evan to develop more technique by swimming with “real” swimmers. Evan has topped out in our lane. I could push him more, but that would disrupt the flow of the group in Lane 1, which is not my objective. The objective is to push all the swimmers in Lane 1. Evan has graduated to Lane 2.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Week 4 - "Track"

“By ourselves we can enjoy life, but to really appreciate life
we must find companionship”
Alexander Smith

I have endured many solo runs over the past couple of years. Many times, I have to admit that the solo run allows one’s self to get in touch with you and understand how you function and move as a runner. The solo run is a time for reflecting on your life, your relationships and yourself. The solo run has helped me understand my capabilities and how thankful I am as a human to have the people, health and happiness in my life.

As the weeks tick by and the weather starts to turn and breeds new life into the landscape in our small world in the suburbs I am fortunate to be able to share my life and runs with my friends.

Today was one of the occasions. If you have been reading this blog and have glanced at a calendar you know today is Wednesday, Track Day. As the temperatures become more tolerable for some, more runners are venturing off the dreadmills and heading out under the open skies.
This morning we had quite the crowd of runners hitting the track on an un-normal crisp late March morning. We all had a purpose for being out on the track this morning. Stacy and Shane were pursuing speed as part of their seasonal triathlon training, Evan was out there, and well I am not sure why he was out there actually. Evan is a young and up-and-coming athlete. He is fast. Uncontrollably, fast. For 27 years of age, the guy has some serious speed on the run and in the water. The thing with Evan is that he does not have structure. He has been hanging around the “ole dudes” to get some wisdom and like the athletes we are, we are guiding him the best we can. Evan came out to run speed, because he can. The Wonder Twins came out to the Oval to run because of some unfinished business. Bob missed the 10K a couple weeks ago due to family obligations and Jay did not hit the goal he set out to achieve. Each of them needs to put this 10K challenge to bed by racing. Ann Marie headed out to the track like Stacy and Shane for speed. Ann Marie has speed she just wants to get faster. Each week I am out there with her, she is. There was a newcomer, Darren, Coach Mike’s buddy. This was his first time out to the track and he made the rookie mistake by following Ann Marie on her workout. By the end of the day he will figure out that he needs a plan. Tell him that Mike when you see him. There was one more entity moving at the speed of sound out there besides me, Ken Brown, Ann Marie & Stacy’s Tri-Coach. Ken worked the track like a fine tuned instrument. He is another quick dude. As for me, you all know the reason why I was out there for the 11th time this season.

The departure this morning went in 2 waves. A 5:30AM departure and a 5:45AM departure. Stacy, Shane & I headed off to AHS at 5:30AM. Ann Marie, Jay & Bob at 5:45AM. It was set up this way so we could all finish roughly at the same time. Darren & Ken met Ann Marie at the track.

The workouts varied this morning. 300’s, 400’s, Evan just running fast, 1600’s. Having some experience with most of these runners before on the track no one was in each other’s way. Stacy & Shane cruised out 6 X 400M’s. Ann Marie was hitting 8 X 300M’s, The Wonder Twins were knocking out 3 X 1600M’s, Evan was sprinting 400’s just fast and I was popping out 10 X 400M’s. Darren followed AM’s example and Ken was doing his own thing.

Due to the different distances and the exceptionally dark track this morning, keeping track of the runners and their times was not going to happen. Stacy & Shane finished early and headed back to LTF. Evan was a couple minutes behind them and left the rest of us to complete our sets.
With running the ING Half and lifting on Monday, I was a little concerned under the crisp skies if the legs would hold out for the session. The times where:

1. 1:21
2. 1:22
3. 1:21
4. 1:23
5. 1:20
6. 1:21
7. 1:22
8. 1:21
9. 1:18

10. 1:19

The goal time was 1:24’s for my marathon pace, so except for the last two I was within the tolerance range. I felt relaxed and controlled on each 400 so there was no need to increase the pace or decrease. Just maintain.

We all finished out sets close to each other. The group headed back to LTF, stretched and left to start our days.

Being out on the track this early in the morning with a group of runners that you call your friends puts that extra little zest into life. Which means, it is better to have someone else out on the dark, cold track with you than you being out there solo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Week 4 - "Cross Training"

“When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger”

Coming into the last 4 weeks of marathon training, one must continually look at the Big Picture in ones workouts. There is one goal and only one goal on the horizon. This is the time you put yourself in check, trust the training and don’t focus on the small things. What is beyond the tip of your finger is where the prize is and if you narrowing in on what is immediately front of you, you will lose sight.

I have 3 key workouts this week. Track on Wednesday, 8 mile Tempo on Friday and the last 20 miler on Sunday. These are the workouts I need to hit the mark on the paces. Sunday’s ING was a test for pacing for Boston and I passed, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. These workouts will push me to feel what race pace will feel like on that Monday morning in Hopkinton.

I need to continue my weight workouts to insure strength is maintained and last will be the swim for added fitness. Dialing back in the pool will start to occur this week with shorting the time spent in the water in order to conserve the energy for the run. There are many trains of thoughts on cross training and tapering leading into a race, but I go by one philosophy, mine. I listen to my body, understand where my energy levels are and concentrate at the task at hand. This week the task assigned to me is hitting my interval times and maintaining pace on my runs.

This morning was Master’s Swim. I went into the workout with the attitude that this is a C- workout for me. I will get a workout in as part of the cross training, but if the workout started to be taxing, then I was getting out.

Coach Mike’s Workout:

300M EZ
3 X 100M I.M.
9 X 300M
First 200M was at a 1:35 -100 meter split
The last 100M was at a 1:55 split to bring you in at around 5:10
4 X 25M All out race against the rest in your lane
8 X 25 Power Kicks Underwater
200M Cool Down
150M Kick

The workout may not be exact. I only focused on what was going to be done and the sets that I knew for sure I was not going to do. I started the warm ups and completed the 9 X 300M’s with Evan, Brian, Jeff, Seth with ease. When I saw the 4 X 25 sprints, I knew it was time to get out. No need to focus on the finger on this set. I also peeled off from the power kicks since this was a full recovery day for the legs and did not need to add any strain to them.

I am going to start to document the conditions of the pool. Tuesday, cloudy, particles floating in the water, the bottom had unknown garbage floating. On a grade scale: D.

Lunchtime will be spent on concentrating on upper body and core. Hitting a little more weight over the next two weeks to increase the metabolism to burn off a few pounds to get to a good fighting weight. Last thing you want to be feeling at mile 19 is a belly flopping around.

When you surround yourself with talented athletes, the testosterone tends to bubble up a lot with challenges and testing your abilities. If at this point falling into that cauldron would only make me the imbecile.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week 4 - "Recovery Day"

“You are you. Now, isn't that pleasant?
Dr. Seuss

In life, we tend to try to live up to expectations of others. Bosses, parents, colleagues, spouses, friends and even rivals.

As life moves forward and your wisdoms become greater, expectations for others are less important. This is not to say that you become a burden on society or your family by being a slug or a couch potato. This is clearly stating that you do what you do and you do the best at whatever you do. If you are happy with yourself and believe, you have done your best that is what ultimately matters. Even thing else will fall into place.

The weekend ended a whirlwind week at our home. My oldest daughter, Grace was in a middle school play, “The Wizard of Oz”. She had rehearsals Monday-Wednesday and performances, Thursday-Saturday. We went to the Saturday night performance and I have to say as a proud father and a patron of the arts that the play was awesome. The kids were really entertaining. Earlier in the day though, Ellie and I took a trip into ATL to pick up my race packet. We saw Michelle as we were leaving. We also walked around for an hour eating all the freebies and grabbing all the giveaways as well. Ellie and I spun the wheel at the U.S. 10K Challenge booth and we won a free entry to the September race and also a free baseball cap. I guess I will be running the 10K in September.

After the Expo we headed into Dunwoody and had lunch at the Taco Mac, just the two of us. It was a nice day to spend it with at least one of my children.

Sunday brought me downtown for the 4th annual ING Marathon and Half Marathon. There were 18,000 runners that participated. I ran the half marathon and treated it was a barometer for Boston. In the back of my head throughout the whole 13.1 miles I had to remind myself not to push it but go at a even pace. I hooked up with the pace group but right out of the chute they were knocking off 6:45’s. This was a little too fast for where I wanted to be so I dialed back to 7:00’s and finished 8 out the 13.1 pretty much solo. I found it amusing when runners would pass me they would say, “Keep it up, you are almost there.” I was not hurting or even slowing, I was just going at my pace and not worrying about the runners around me. I would say, “Thanks and you look strong, keep it up”, but held my own knowing that I had bigger things on the horizon.
I finished the race at a respectable 1:32:18 and ran another mile to even out 15 for the day. Grabbed some grub, got my bag and headed for the car. I was planning on meeting up with Carmen, since she was going to offer me a beer. Carmen’s sister wanted to have a beer after finishing the half and I was going to crack one up with them, but the rain started to become steady and I started to shiver, so I high tailed it out of ATL.

Later on I found out Susan Allen qualified for Boston on the ING full marathon. I think the count is up to 6 and growing. Hokan, also ran the full marathon and with all the “issues” he had on the course, he came in with a very respectable time. Congratulations to these two runners.

Also, congratulations to Michelle, Rebecca, Seth, Jonathan, Tony, Mike and anyone else I am forgetting during this senior moment. Great race, tough course and now you can mark it in the book, DONE.

I arrived home at 9:30AM, showered, ate and started on some chores I have been neglecting due to the busy schedule we have been keeping lately.

Sunday night brought comfort food. With the rain, it was more than fitting to roast a bird, mash some taters and cook up some of them there greens, green beans that is. We all ate a great Sunday dinner together, which had been the first time in over 2 weeks. I think we are back to normalcy since the play is over.

Monday morning I had set it up that Ann Marie would hold me a spin bike for Brian’s class. She nabbed me a bike next to her spin bike as I showed up about 5:20AM.
I spun this morning to relieve myself from some of the stiffness of running hills in ATL. The hour spin class helped breathe some life in the legs.

Monday’ s lunchtime workout was leg weights. I had held off on weights all last week due to the pulled hamstring, but now I needed to get back at it. 3 sessions on the legs and 2 on the upper body for this week as I plan for my 5 and final 20 miler on Sunday. The plan is to hit the Columns in order to save the legs some of the pounding they have been through over the last 12 weeks.

I am coming into the home stretch of Boston training. It has been tough, but I have been realistic and true to myself on the program and so far, knock on wood, I have only missed on track workout, and I am pleased with the way it has gone so far.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 10 Reasons for Missing a Run

I believe at least 50% of all runners have the ability to qualify for Boston. Less than 3% or so actually do. Why? Lack of proper training. Not so much because of not having the opportunity to train, but more because of the failure to create that opportunity. Below are the top 10 excuses, many of them have been gathered from the Fast Running Blog, a site dedicated to helping people eliminate them.
•There was no time to run today. (Solution: get up 15 minutes earlier, do some of your errands running, take your kids to a track or a park and run while they play, etc).
•I did not have the energy. ( Solution: run slower, but still go the distance. Also, sometimes it takes a while to warm up, in fact as you become more fit it takes longer and longer to warm up. Sometimes I do not feel like running for the first 4 miles, then everything is just fine.)
•I wanted to run but things got in the way. (Solution: plan your run at the time of day when not many people will dare schedule anything they expect you to participate in, e.g. from 5 to 6 AM)
•The weather did not cooperate. (Solution: learn to run in adverse weather conditions. A little extra clothing for the cold, and a water bottle or a route with water stops for the heat do the trick)
•My run conflicted with my favorite TV show. (Solution: imagine yourself stopping to watch your favorite TV show during your attempt to qualify for Boston)
•My friend invited me to go to a party. (Solution: if this is a wholesome party, tell him you'll be 30 minutes to 1 hour late, otherwise just say no, this will give you an additional health bonus by staying away from performance-reducing substances)
•I went to bed to late last night and could not get up in the morning. (Solution: impose a bedtime curfew and enforce it with some cruel and unusual punishment for yourself if you break it, e.g smelling socks)
•My running partner did not show up. (Solution: remember that it will be your running partner that will not qualify for Boston, you do not have to join him in the failure)
•I was on vacation. (Solution: think about what would happen if you stopped for 20 minutes to see sights and take pictures during your attempt to qualify for Boston)
•I was traveling, the treadmill in my hotel was not working, and it was too dangerous to run outside. (Solution: circle around the parking lot until you've reached your goal time/distance)

As you eliminate those and other similar excuses from your mindset, you will see amazing results.
By, Sasha Pachev

I have been a member of this blog since Boston training. A great way to tap into runner’s thoughts and they have a great tool for recording your training. In the end, unless you are injured there is no excuse for missing a run.

This morning none of these reasons would stop me from running. I was actually pumped to run this morning. With running the ING Half on Sunday I switched up my tempo and long run paces so this morning’s run was 10 miles at 7:43 pace. The other reason I was eager was that I had two running partners. Bob and Evan joined me on the run.
All-in-all it was a good run. We started out on pace but ended the 10 miler on an average pace of 7:31’s. It felt fast in the beginning due to the hills but towards the half way point the pace felt comfortable so I let Bob go and did not dog him for running fast. The three of us had a good run with good conversation. I thank these two runners for the companionship this Friday morning.

Ellie and I are heading to the ING Expo Saturday morning to pick up the race packet and nab as many freebies as we can.

The 10.02-mile course.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week 5 - "Cross Training"

“Rest: the sweet sauce of labor”

This week I have been in search of that sweet sauce. Sleep has not come easy. Hard to fall asleep, waking up constantly in the night or awake prior to the alarm. There has been a lot of pillow time but I would hardly call it rest.

The effect of sleep deprivation on me is attitude. As Sarah has put it, “I am crabby”. I try not to be “crabby” but the littlest things are setting me off. I could name them all, but just about everything gets the undies in a wad this week.

On less than 4 hour so sleep I shut the alarm off 10 minutes prior to the set time. I headed off to Master’s Swim and another session of a cloudy, dirty, high chlorine pool. You can imagine my attitude after seeing the pool for the second time in this condition since the deadline date of March 15th. This date set by LTF management has come and gone and no change. It is time I make a change.

Coach Mike’s Workout:
15 Minutes of Swimming
1 X 500M Descending every 100 meters to the last 100 at 1:30.
1 minute R.I.
3 X (4 X 50M) Drills
Finger Tip
3 X 100M – 1:50
1 X 200M – 3:05
3 X 100M – 1:45
1 X 200M – 3:05
3 X 100M – 1:45
1 X 200M – 3:05
3 X 100M – 1:30
250M Swim
150M Kick

The workout for the leader of the set was at AT. The followers I would say the sets were at 80-90% effort due to the huge draft in the lane. There were times I was barely stroking and caught the swimmer in front of me. This was a very dobale session.

Tomorrow is a 10 mile run with, yes, runners. Bob and Evan are scheduled for the run and I have asked a few more to join. In any event, I will be awake for this run with the company.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Week 5 -"Wednesday is Speed Day"

My mother who is an avid reader of the blog provided me some insight last night. No matter how old you get, your mom is still your mom.

Preacher Peter Gomes says about how one should handle adversity in life, "Get used to it, get over it, and get on with it."

Therefore, my mom is basically, telling me to “Suck it up”. Thanks mom.

Wednesday brought the track in focus. With the ailments and injuries sustained over the last week, track was going to be a challenge. I received an email from Ann Marie yesterday evening on hitting the track. Now, Ann Marie has had a nasty cold for almost a week and I knew she had to knock out 5-1 milers as part of her speed work. A few moments later, I got an email from Bob about track as well. The last week has been tough for him and his family on the death of his brother-n-law who was only 39. Two athletes that have had to deal with adversity the past week and they were planning the track workout. With my aches and pains that seemed very minor in the grand scheme of things, it was time to push them aside and get on with it.

I headed upstairs quite early to hit the roller to massage the hamstring and groin. I iced the areas after the roller and placed the heating pad on the lower back to relax the muscles and ease the pain of the sciatica. Around 9:15PM it was lights out.

The clock alarm went off and it was game time. I meticulously followed my established routine and headed out the door.

Arriving at LTF I prepared for the speed workout by Ace bandaging the hammie and groin areas. I met Bob, Ann Marie and Susan L. in the lobby and we were off.

Ann Marie and Susan’s workout menu consisted of:
5 X 1 mile repeats with 3 minutes of R. I. AM @ 6:40’s & Susan @ 6:55’s.

Bob, well, Bob is floating now. With missing the 10K race due to the death he is in need of a goal. Bob was running 400’s and though he is not set on a plan right now he helped me on 2 portions of my 1600’s by running 800’s with me. This was a huge help in keeping pace. It is great to have friends who know when you are in need and come to your rescue to help you achieve your set goals.

This leads into me. I had a mere 3 X 1600M’s with a 400M R.I. The pace was set at 5:57’s.

When we arrived at the track on a blistering morning of 40 degrees, we noticed Stacy & Shane knocking out 1 milers as well. They were on their second when we arrived. We took the scouting trip around to mark off the 200M splits and then we each started out workout.

The first 1600M was at 5:57 exact. It was a struggle and I felt the pull in the muscles but kept the form and dug deep to achieve the time. The wind started to pick up on the back stretch of the track half way through the 1600 and I knew it was to be a struggle to hit the mark on the last 2 1600’s.

At the rest I talked to Stacy about her times on her milers. She was all over the board on her pace and times. Stacy stated after the 3rd miler she was done. I said to her that with being all over the board in time this eats up energy and makes it tougher to hold pace. I gave her some advice to look at 200M splits on the miler in order to hold the pace needed. She tried this along with Shane on the 4th and 5th miler and they were close to the time she had set to run the milers in.

For me, I held the split times on the 200M’s but 6th & 7th 200 were off the mark which slowed me to 6:00 evens on the second 1600. On my last 1600 Bob said he would pick me up after 800 and pace me in for the final 800. After hitting the 800 on queue Bob nestled in on my side at the 800 meter mark. We hit the first turn passing Susan and I asked Bob to take the inside and lead me around. We were constant on the splits and at the 1200M mark, Bob said, “pick it up”. We both increased speed and took the final curve hard. Coming off the curve I pulled to the right of Bob and we were almost neck in neck, I turned it on and slightly move in front of Bob, but like a bullet out of a gun Bob kicked it and smoked me on the last 15 meters. Thus the nickname of “The Bullet” which he has held since Jeff and I named him.

Bob and I headed back after the workout leaving Ann Marie and Susan to finish their milers. I don’t like leaving friends on the track especially when we came together, but their agenda’s for the day are different than Bob and my day and we need to head back to start it.

With the amount of Marathon training I have had I would think it would “Get use to it” by now. But every season brings new adversities that challenge the psyche and body. It is a lot easier to “Get over it” when you have friends like Bob, Ann Marie and Susan to help you push through it, oh, and a mom who supports her crazy son’s antics.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 5 - "Cross Training"

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Theodore Roosevelt

When you have been training for a couple of months the sessions start to wear on you. Your body is tired, you mind is tired and your spirit is flickering. Add in the chaos of Life and the weight on your sole becomes heavier. We all go through this one time or another in our training. I tend to feel it right about now two fifths through this run program.

11 weeks into the marathon program and I am in a “down week”. The down week is typically made up of shorter distances on the long runs on this program. Finishing the 4th of 5 – 20 milers on Friday puts me at only a 15 miler for the long run this week. I have opted to run the ING Half Marathon in order to get the “race pace” feel in my blood. Being among thousands of runners will test my will power to hold the pace and finish the half at my marathon pace. I will make up the 2 extra miles before and after the Half.

The trick to staying on pace for me will be to hang with the Mizuno Pace Group for 12 out of the 13.1 miles on Sunday. Once I hit the 12-mile marker, I will break loose from the group and increase my pace 30 seconds to 1 minute faster for the last 1.1 miles. This strategy will even out the average pace to come in where the plan states I should.

With four runs scheduled this week,(Tempo, Track, Tempo, Long) and swimming, weights and my responsibilities as a husband and father, when Sunday comes that knot better be big enough to sit on.

Coach Mike’s Workout for Tuesday:

300M Warm-up
200M Stroke (I used paddles and buoy)
100M Kick, no fins
100M Perfect stroke
15 X 50M Drills on the :55’s
1. Fist
2. Single Arm up & back
3. Fast
4. Alternative Stroke to Free
5. Catch-up
Repeat 3 times
6 X 400M on the 7’s
100M at 1:44 split
100M at 1:41 split
100M at 1:37 split
100M at 1:33 split
2 X 200M at sub 3:05 (We hit 3:03 on the first and 2:49 on the second)
200M Cool down

Lane 1 swimmers: Evan, Melissa, Brian and myself. Everyone pulled the load when able, but some of the swimmers could have used a rope with a knot in it, but we got through the workout and hit the marks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

End of Week 6 - "A Fast and Busy Weekend"

“We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.”
Alice Bloch

This past weekend, I did not waste myself. Time moved fast as I held on to make the most out of the weekend.

Saturday started with volunteering for Grace’s upcoming play, “The Wizard of Oz”. The build started at 9AM. Arriving at Lambert HS, Mrs. Reynolds (the director and Middle School Music Teacher) had sketched out 5 set builds she wanted completed. There were 4 builders, me and 3 other fathers. One of the builds was a 12 foot by 10 foot replicate of Dorothy’s Kansas house with a side section that was 10 feet by 8 feet. The house was to have depth giving the illusion that when Dorothy walked out it appeared as she was walking out of a real house. Two of the fathers started the frame work on the 10 X 8 section as the other dad and I started on the second build. This one was not as elaborate. We needed to build a frame for the Tin Man’s house. The house was painted on a canvas cloth. The house was 12 X 9 feet. We started the build and completed it within an hour. The canvas was attached and we build support beams to allow the Wicked Witch to climb up the back of the house and pop out of the chimney. When we completed this task, we moved over to help the other two father’s finish the 10 X 8 section. We installed a real window that slid up and down. After that we started on the main section of the house that had a porch, a swinging porch door, a window at the top, along with a slanted roof. This whole build took about 4.5 hours to complete. After the completion of the house two dads had to leave and the third dad had to run home for an hour. This left me to build a revolving stage. The stage was to be 3 feet high and 6 feet long. In the middle was the doors to OZ and on the opposite side was the doors to the Witch’s Castle. The stage was on rollers and was to be attached to a set of stairs. After about an hour one of the dad’s returned to assist as we completed the build. By this time it was hovering near 4PM as we cleaned up, helped with the other 2 builds in securing them in place. By 5PM, we had completed our jobs and Mrs. Reynolds released us. I can't wait for the play next weekend. With all the time put into this rehearsals and set building, it should be something special for all.

After 8 hours, cuts and splinters that I am still picking out, the show will go on as scheduled on Thursday night. Grace went over to the HS on Sunday afternoon to help put finishing touches on the builds. She was amazed as the size and appearance of the props on stage.

Upon arriving home around 5:15PM, I headed upstairs to get some rest. The day was far from over at this point. We had a Dinner Date scheduled with a bunch of friends down in Dunwoody at 8PM this evening. I decided to prop the feet up on the bed, relax and gather some energy for an exciting night.

Sarah and I left the house around 7PM and left Grace in charge. Grace had completed a Baby Sitting course a couple of weeks ago and we thought this would be a good test for her. We planned on being home late, so she was in charge of their dinner and putting her sister, Ellie to bed.

Arriving at the restaurant, Maggiano’s at the Perimeter Mall, the place was packed. We ended up parking almost a quarter mile from the restaurant. Inside we were greeted by Ken, Amy & Susan. They were waiting for Susan’s husband, Mike to park the car. When Mike headed in we all made our way upstairs to the dining area. Everyone else was already upstairs when we arrived.

We chatted, took some pictures, got a few drinks and then sat down to a feast!

Couples Night Out

There were 8 couples and we had enough food to feed a platoon of soldiers. Instead of writing out the whole dinner here is a snap shot of the menu.

The food was outstanding topped off by a group of great people. We all had a good time as all 16 of us left the table stuffed to the gills.

Sunday’s time went fast. Waking up to a time deficit from Day Light Savings, I had decided to work on the shoe box that I have been building, yes for over a month. With all the activities and training in our lives the time I have to spend on the box is limited.

I was able to sand the inside, and varnish it in order for the homeless shoes that have been shuffled all over the house to finally have a home. The staining should be dry by this afternoon for the shoes to start to occupy the inside. This will only leave the cosmetic outside of the box to complete. I plan on finishing this project once and for all in the next 2 weeks.

After breakfast, Sarah and I decided we would knock out the taxes Sunday afternoon. We gathered all of the information and spent the next 3 hours preparing and eFiling our 2009 taxes. The best thing about this process was we are getting a few bucks back to possibly put towards a vacation.

Dinner was a treat last night as well. We revisited Maggiano’s with the left over’s we pigged out on the night before. As Dan stated Saturday night, “Italian Food is better the next day”, and it was.

This ended the weekend of only 47 hours.

Monday morning was a difficult morning. I planned on running a tempo run prior to heading off to work. The alarm went off at 5:22AM as I did the Zombie shuffle to the closet to get dressed and head out the door. After arriving at the Johns Creek LTF (going here gave me 20 minutes extra of sleep) I realized I had mistakenly forgot my running shoes in the Jeep and I had driven the Honda. This means I either go home and get my shoes or bag it and go to work at 6:15AM. With having 4 runs scheduled this week, I need to run, so I headed home picked up my shoes and made my way back to JC-LTF.

The run was 1 Mile EZ @ 8:34’s and 5 at marathon pace. I finished this run with very little struggle and headed to work.

The weekends continue to go by at a blink of an eye as I attempt to complete as many tasks as I can and not waste the time I have.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Week 6 - "4th 20 miler"

I would be lying if I stated this was an easy run. Hills, wind, a little rain and very tired legs. Got through all 20 solo at MP + 45 which was right were I needed to be.

The Course:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week 6 - "Truck!"

“He who runs behind truck is exhausted, he who runs in front of truck is tired.”

This week I have been following the truck. After being in front all last week, I have dropped behind and continue to struggle for sleep, rest, food, and more food.

Everything seems to be off kilter just a minute fraction. I am tired at night, but cannot sleep? Nothing has changed, no new sheets, no new PJ’s, not a new wife laying beside me, no stress at work that I cannot handle. I fall a sleep in 1 to 2 minutes from the head hitting the pillow, but the night wakes me around 1AM and I lie there in a dead zone.

Rest, we all know that does not happen. If you are married, have a job, have children and squeeze in time to train rest becomes a void in your life. Even when you have a second to relax, the mind continues forward and you remember that the trash needs to go out, laundry (your stinky workout garb) needs to get washed, you hear the toilet constantly running and need to repair it, the list is endless.

Food. I cannot get enough. I am good with how I eat. I do not buy Pre Training, During Training or Post Recovery junk that cost an arm and a leg with little to no benefit. I eat healthy. The food pyramid is on the fridge so what more do you need. But, the constant craving of food even with increasing the intake is not doing it. Example, this morning during a 2500 meter consistent swim all I could think about is Blueberry Pancakes dripping with Maple syrup and a hot cup of Jo. The thoughts were overwhelming that during the swim, my stomach started to rumble because I was hungry.

As I chug behind the truck, I assess my day and continue to adjust to balance everything out to insure that the next 40 days of training are not easy, but manageable.

Master’s Swim this morning. Coach Mike’s workout was a doozy, but I enjoy the long stuff.

400M Smooth
200M Kick: 100M Fins – 100M No Fins
4 X 100M I.M.
100M right arm then left w/fins
100M Catch-up
100M Tarzan Swim
100M Fist
2500M Straight
50 Meters at :40
200 Meters at a 1:40 pace
Every 250M lead swimmer switches with no rest.
200M Drills
200M Swim
100M Kick

The mojo at the start of the swim was not there. Every stroke for the warm up and pre set was a challenge. Once we got into the 2500M straight swim, I feel into a rhythm and could have easily swam that pace for another 2500 meters.

Tomorrow, is the fourth 20 miler out of 5 in my training. I need to forge ahead and pass the truck and be in the lead as I run this particular distance solo in the morning. If I am in front of the truck the whole way on pace then I will be tired but at least I will not be exhausted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Week 6 - "Soggy Speed Session"

Sunshine is delicious,
Rain is refreshing,
Wind braces us up,
Snow is exhilarating,There's really no such thing as bad weather,Only different kinds of good weather."

With the way the weather has been in 2010 so far this is the only kind of attitude you can take if you want to run.

Wednesday = Track Day. The weather was to be rain, heavy rain. On the way to LTF this morning the rain was on the light side. As I got closer to my destination the rain became increasingly steadier and more water droplets continued to hit my windshield.

As I turned up the wipers I email Jay to advise him of the oncoming downpour. A few minutes later I received an email from him stating that it looks like we maybe inside.

The thought of another run indoors on the treadmill was not appealing at all, but with the water coming down fast and furious what other choice did we have?

I emailed Ann Marie at 5:15AM ad advised her of the situation. Her speed workout was not conducive to the treadmill due to the distance, so she would have to make other plans.
By the time I hit the locker room and changed I heard Jay and Ann Marie out in the hallway talking. I made my way out and by the time I met them the decision had changed. We are going outside. Ann Marie had stated that the rain had let up and we should go. With an, “okay” I turned around headed back into the depths of the locker room and prepared for an outside run.
I met Jay and Ann Marie in the lobby. (Bob was unable to make this run due to a death in his family. Our prayers are there for Bob, Kim and Kim’s family.) Ann Marie wanted to go find Shane and drag him along so she headed upstairs to find him. When she returned she has Evan instead in tow. Evan thought we were crazy for running in the rain, but we said it is only sprinkling out and we will be fine.

As we headed for the door I could see that the sprinkle of rain we discussed was no longer. A monsoon had erupted outdoors as the rain beat against the glass doors and river started to form in the parking lot. Instead of complaining about the total drenching we were about to part take in, I bit the lip and ventured out with the other 3 brave souls.

We stepped outside and immediately was pelted with rain from all sides. Before we made it across the parking lot we were soaked. We continued our journey down Webb Bridge and to the track tip toeing over puddles and mud all the way.

When we arrived at the track the rain continued to come down in a steady stream. We wasted no time scouting the track and putting up markers for split times.

Jay & Evan had 6 X 400M @ 1:30 (10K race this Saturday for them)
Ann Marie had 15 X 300M @ 1:06’s
My track was: 1K @ 3:35, 2K @ 7:35, 1K, 1K both at 3:35.

As Ann Marie and I ran the track so I could show her the start and finish to a 300M, Jay& Evan started on their 400’s.

The rain continued to come down as we all hit our marks on the track. Puddles started to form half way through the sets but we kept going. Jay & Evan finished their 400M’s while AM and I had only finished half of our sets.

We cut them loose to warm up and get dry and we finished our speed sets. I happened to finish my set before AM and I jogged in the outside lane as she knocked out the rest of the 300’s with ease. I witnessed her last one at the finish line of the 300 and her form, stride and posture were all in line. I think she would had done 10 more the way she was cruising the track in the rain.
After her completion, we high tailed it out of there for some dry accommodations at LTF.

Stretching, a few words were exchanged and I was off to get ready for work as Ann Marie was meeting up with Melissa for a 1 ½ hour spin session.

The weather continues to come up against us all here in Georgia with snow, ice, freezing temperatures, wind and rain. You can either get down to business and do what needs to be done or curl up and go back to bed. Once race day comes you cannot control the weather, only deal with it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Week 6 - "Cross Training"

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”
Albert Einstein

Today is feels as if time has sped up. The pool workout this morning of 4100M went by very fast.

Coach Mike's Workout:

400M Smooth
100M Right Arm Fins
100M Left Arm Fins
100M Smooth
200M Non-Free

5 X 200M on the 4:00's

7 X 100M on the 1:50's
5 X 100M on the 1:40's
1 Minute Rest
3 X 100M on the 1:35's
1 Minute Rest
1 X 200M on a sub 3:00

12 X 25M Under Water Power Kick-Fins

200M Smooth
100M Kick

As Brian indicated leaving the pool deck that this workout flew by. 1:25:00 for the whole workout.

Time is moving forward today at a rapid pace. I have a plethora of duties to take care of today behind the desk in the office.

Will squeeze in a upper body workout at lunch if time slows enough for me to jump on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Week 7, Comes to an End

It is true that speed kills. In distance running, it kills anyone who does not have it.
Brooks Johnson

Saturday morning at 4AM. The alarm wakes me as I hoist myself out of the bed in anticipation of what awaits me at 8AM over 100 miles from my home.

A few months ago, I have signed up for a half marathon. With all of the solo running I have encountered during this training session I decided I needed a little camaraderie of other runners.

I was hesitant to sign up due to the distance of the event. The half marathon was taken place in Rome, Georgia on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 8AM. Logistics were involved to ensure that I could get to the race, retrieve my packet and number then run the event and return home.
The motivation that pushed me to do this event was the crowds and other runners. I signed up and was eager to participate.

Getting up early day after day has not been that much of a challenge for me. Monday through Friday I am up and out the door before 5AM so, 4AM did not seem to be that much of an obstacle. I got dressed and quietly tip-toed down the crepuscular hallway to the edge of the stairs leading down.

The night before I made sure that no obstacles were in my path and by the time, I hit the landing my eyes had adjusted to the darkness making my way across the living room to the kitchen.

The smell of coffee was brewing as I entered the kitchen and flipped on the lights. The initial burst of illumination forced my eyes shut as my pupils adjusted.

As I squinted in order for the eyes to adjust to the shock, I made my way across the kitchen to start the pre-event meal of oatmeal and a PBJ. Eating at 4AM is not a thing that I enjoy. They say you burn a lot of calories while you slept depleting your fuel reserves. If this was true in my case, I think I would wake up starved. Usually food before an early morning workout is not part of my regiment. The mere thought of anything more than brewed Arabica beans with half-n-half is not appetizing at all.

I knew though that I needed to build up fuel for the Berry Half so I forced ½ cups of oatmeal, brown sugar, maple syrup and raisins down before heading out the door. I packed the PBJ for the 100-mile trip knowing that I would need more but right now, oatmeal was plenty.
The trip to Rome, Georgia was solemn. The roads were deserted as I cruised uninterrupted down 400, around 285 and headed North on 75. For most of the ride, the eyes were heavy as the neck snapped back into position a couple of as I fought the urge to close the lids and drift away into a peaceful sleep going 75 miles an hour up 75.

I rolled down the window to let in the morning crisp air. The voice on the radio had stated that the temperatures were around 25 degrees on this dark, but clear sky morning. The blast of cool air woke me as I focused on the digits lines on the road thinking of the 25-degree weather and my decision to wear shorts for the event and eating the PBJ I had brought along for the ride. Too late now, I was 65 miles from home and the decision was final.

At mile 80, I hit the exit that would bring me into Rome. I was still 20 miles from my destination with 2 hours of time until the start. The back roads were completely desolate as I headed through sleeping little towns.

Arriving at the entrance to Berry there was a stream of red lights single file heading down the road into campus. I had wanted to get there a bit early to snag a parking space on campus. If the lots were full they were going to push people off campus and bus them in. With having to pick up my package that morning, I wanted access to the car to dump off the paraphernalia and also catch a couple zzz’s while I waited for the start.

I followed the stream of red lights leading into the center of the campus and to a near-by parking lot about 2 tenths of a mile from the start.

I ran over to the Start line to pick up the number and goodie bag. Today’s run was to be a 15 miler so I thought I would run 1 mile prior to the race and 1 mile after the race to even the pace out for the full 15. I ran at an 8/minute mile or so towards the start and the sound of music playing. The sun was just starting to come up over the East side of campus exposing the main building on campus and the event tents.

Making my way to the registration tent I was about 15th in line. I heard from a fellow runner in line that there were as many half marathoners on this course as there were 10K & 5K runners combined. That tidbit of news pump the spirits up knowing that it would not be me and 20 other runners finishing this event as everyone had headed home after the other 2 events.

I grabbed my stuff at registration and made my way up and around the Start/Finish heading back to the car. The air was very cool as the sun came up sending a chill into my core and I needed to head back, turn the heat on and warm up for about 25 minutes before I had to head back.

After 25 minutes, I peeled down to the running garb and headed out. I rounded the event tents on a side road and headed towards the dining hall where the race director has stated was open to warm up. Making my way over there, I ran into two familiar faces, Chris & Stacy. Chris has participated in this race on and off since high school and stated this is one of his favorite events. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked them if they wanted to find the dining hall to warm up prior to the start.

As we entered the hall, it reminded me of a smaller version of Hogwarts dining hall in Harry Potter. Dark wood, arches, stain glass. The only thing missing was floating candles, but for a religious school, I doubt that would go over well.

The three of us hung out near the old fashion stream radiator against the window and chatted until it was time to head out to the Start.

When it was time, we left the comforts of the mini Hogwarts and walked down to the Start. The air was still chilly but the sun had started to warm the day.

As we made our way with the other group of runners waiting for the gun to go off, Stacy noticed pace signs on the sides heading down to the beginning of the event. There were signs decreasing every 15 minutes until I noticed 1:45 and 1:30. I told Stacy that I was going to head down there to see if there was a group of runners running these paces. I told her good luck as I departed.
When I hit the 1:30 sign, I asked the volunteer holding the sign if there was actually apace group. He informed me that the signs were for placement and there was not a group of pacers at this event.

I looked around and noticed in the 1:30 block most of the runners were 20 something kids decked out in college singlets. I decided to park myself here and wait for the start and see if there were any of the runners hitting the pace I wanted to maintain.

After the Anthem and a blessing from the dean of the college the gun went off. All of the runners took off in back of three bikes with orange flags. The pace was fast but I knew it would be as usual and it would take me a mile to settle in.

At the first mile marker I hit 6:21. This was way too fast and eased up by relaxing the arms, increasing the cadence and controlled my breathing. The course took us out of the main campus and headed into the woods on an asphalt road. The scenery was awesome with woods on one side and pastures on the other. The smell of cow dung was in the air. Not a nasty smell, but a smell that you knew that you were in the country and away from the busyness of the suburbs.
Mile 2 came at a 7:03 pace. Still fast but my breathing was regulated and my cadence was in line as I made my way down the road. The road after a short while brought us to a clearing of buildings after hitting Mile 3 at a 7:03 pace.

The buildings look like animal husbandry facilities as the road became narrow and turning into an asphalt path. For the next couple of miles the pace remained at 7:06’s as I felt comfortable in my heart rate, breathing and stride. I decided to maintain this pace since it was a training run and not a full out race to the finish.

As I ran along, I was passed by 4 teenage Cross Country runners. I could hear them behind me chatting it up about girls, home, school, going out tonight. Their voices were not labored but sounded like they were sitting around a table at Starbuck’s drinking coffee. As they passed I said good morning and all 4 responded with a cheerful, “morning”. At this time my instinct started to kick in and I wanted to hang on their heels for the next 8 miles, but I knew that was defeating my purpose, so I held pace as they moved up the path.

As they moved ahead the asphalt path turned to dirt and gravel. The path actually widened as we headed upward around a few bends and turns into a densely wooded area. From the map I knew we were heading to the first out and back turn around. This is where you would be able to see who was behind you and where you stood in the pecking order. We headed upward and the first few runners in the lead came cruising down the path that had turned from dirt and gravel to dirt and rocks.

I sized up whom as in front of me. 20 something, 20 something, 30 something, High Schoolers. No one 40+. I navigated up the path were the organizers had spray painted the protruding rocks with red so we would not trip.

Just then, a 20 something girl ahead of me looked up and tripped on a rock, but luckily she did not fall. She gathered herself as she continued up the hill to the turn.

I noticed this 20 something runner was going at a good pace and decided to stay a few meters behind her on the way down the from the turn. Heading down I was on the opposite side watching runners head up. About 3 tenths of a mile from the turn I noticed my first 40+ runner. He was cruising up the hill effortlessly and I knew at his pace he would overtake me in the next 3 miles. I kept my cool and decided not to increase speed but maintain my current training pace.

Near the bottom of the path I glanced up and saw a man in all black heading the up to the turnaround. My first thought was it was a military man in black fatigues and a bullet proof vest on. As the black decked out runner got closer I noticed it was Rich! Rich was running with a 30 pound vest on which is a training workout some of the marathon runners do to increase strength. Now, after seeing Rich and less than a half a mile back from me at mile 6.5, the competitive juices kicked in. There was no way I was going to have Rich with the vest on pass me.

I picked it up a few steps and nestled on the left shoulder of the 20 something runner in front of me. I talked to her for a few minutes about her tripping and how she felt. She was a little non-communicative which I can understand running at a 7 minute pace.

After mile 7 we headed around a gravel path that circled a pond. I held my pace and started to overtake the 20 something as she struggled to latch on to me. As I completed the loop around the pond, I saw the other 40+ runner coming down the hill towards the pond. This still gave me a quarter mile lead, but I needed to hold pace through the next 4 miles.

The course took us out of the farming and livestock area and back towards the main campus. At mile 8 I was still at a 7:05 pace and decided to let up a little as we took a sharp right onto another asphalt path. The path that was in front on me was straight and almost flat. You could see the path as far as the eye could take you. I saw 3 runners ahead of me, but again decided to hold my pace and maintain.

About a mile down the path I started to hear footsteps. I decided not to look but hold course. I figured if it was the other 40+ runner I had enough gas in the tank to lock in on him and hold to the finish. I held pace and look forward as the steps became louder and the breathing of the runner was heard. At that point, the breathing sounded female as a 22 year old girl passed me. I told her see looked strong as she made her way past me.

After she passed I noticed her stride became forced while she slowed a little. I kept my course and speed as she slowly increased the distance between us but not at the speed she had passed me.

At this time, the two of us had come up on the first of three runners I saw. The runner was in his 30’s and I noticed him from passing me around mile 1.5. He looked spent and I gave him a word of encouragement and plugged ahead.

The 22 year old moved a few more clicks ahead as we hit the 10 mile water station. The second runner had stopped to get a drink as I grabbed a Powerade cup and kept going. I never saw that runner again.

The third runner I came up on at mile 11 was a 20 year old. He was struggling but after I passed him he tried to hold on to my left shoulder. I told him to hold on and I would help him in, but after a quarter mile he said, I can’t keep it up and dropped off.

By this time the course only had 2 miles to go. I took in some Powerade and decided to move the pace up slightly. We rounded a bend where you could see behind you without turning around and I saw, no one! Okay, I thought, hold this till the end.

The next mile spectators started to gather on the sides of the path and cheered for the runners. I held pace and started to make ground on another runner while I could see the 22 year old as she was about 30 seconds ahead of me. At mile 12, I over took the runner and pushed it to a sub 7 pace. I was not laboring hard, but the breathing increased, legs barked a little and heart rate elevated as I could hear the sound of the announcer and music off in the distance.

At mile 13 I veered left and could see the finish as I kicked it up and cruised in.

I gathered my medal, grabbed a drink of water and started to run on the back road on the side of the race course back to the car. I still had 1 mile in my 15 miles to do. I headed to the car and completed the 15 mile training run for the day. (The 22 year old finished only 27 seconds ahead of me)

The event was spectacular. Great support, awesome volunteers and many runners, which I enjoyed the most. I met a few excellent runners while I grabbed some food. We chatted about the course and I have to say not one runner said a bad word about this event. That is the signs of a good race.

In the end, I accomplished my training run, ran with other runners, got a medal, some glass and a little monetary compensation for the run.

It was a good day.

Sunday, I took the day off as we headed to church and breakfast. I worked on the home projects while the Sarah and the girls went out. For dinner I made a dinner from my grandmother. Grace loves steak and bacon so I made “Pigs in the Blanket”. This is not pancakes and sausage. It is round steak rolled around a piece of thick bacon. It is fried then simmered in water to build a gravy base for about an hour. While that simmered, I made a homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It was a good night and an excellent dinner. The smells of the food cooking reminded me of my grandmother’s home and her cooking.

Monday morning was tough. I had a 10 mile run scheduled. The legs felt a little stiff and I had decided to run the treadmill to get this one done. Since I hit the 15 miler a little hard on pace, I decided to run the 10-miler at MP + 30 seconds which was the scheduled 15 mile pace.
I hit the gym and finished the run with some difficulty at a 7:43 pace which is right on track.
Heading back at lunch to stretch only. Need to get the stiffness out.

Week 7 has come to an end. Speed does kill and all I know is my legs are killing me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Week 7-"Rest"

You learn good run mechanics when you are fresh; you should evaluate your run mechanics when you’re fatigued (or breaking down) like in a race.
Elizabeth Waterstraat

Today is a rest day. Slept in, ate a huge breakfast, got to work before the boss.

The day is going well so far. No lifting at lunch, just resting the legs.

Tomorrow I test good run mechanics.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Week 7 - "Cross Training"

"I believe that the so-called 'writing block' is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance ... one should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It's easy to write. You just shouldn't have standards that inhibit you from writing ... I can imagine a person beginning to feel he's not able to write up to that standard he imagines the world has set for him. But to me that's surrealistic. The only standard I can rationally have is the standard I'm meeting right now ... You should be more willing to forgive yourself. It doesn't make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you're done it."
William Stafford, Poet

After yesterday’s beating on the treadmill and leg weights at lunch, a swim was welcomed. Minimal impact on the legs, swimming with a group of strong swimmers and testing out LTF’s commitment to starting to get the pool back to normal.

First thing, I noticed on the pool deck this morning was a shiny new vacuum. It was on the pool deck but the assumption has to be that Mike of Brian pulled it from its duties in order for us to swim. 1 for LTF and good for the customer.

The second thing I witnessed it the pool water. Opaque. The water was a light white milky color which made the bottom pool lane lines that are black a light gray in color. Strike 1.

The temperature of the water was elevated a couple of degrees and the chlorine levels in the pool were above normal. As I sit here, typing away my skin is irritated, scratchy and has a slight burning sensation. Strike 2.

I know they have until the 15th to rectify the problems in the pool, but you would think that after Tuesday’s meeting the Aquatics Director would have taken control and accountability to get the ball rolling to appease his customers.

Deadline is March 15th.

The pool conditions may not have been ideal, but the swimmers I swam with today made up for it. In Lane 5 we had, Melissa, Brian, Evan, Chandalynn and Jeremiah.

Coach Mike’s Workout:
400M Smooth
3 X100M I.M.
200M Non Free

3 X 400M
100M – Free
100M Kick no fins
100M – I.M.
100M – Free
5 X 200M

100 meter split pace:
1. 1:45-1:50
2. 1:40-1:45
3. 1:35-1:40
4. 1:30-1:35
5. Sub 1:30

300M Smooth
200M Kick

After the initial warm up of 900M’s we started in on the 400’s. The interval was set at 7:30’s. Evan lead us out on the first one. After the 100M free, he tailed off on the kicking and I took the lead. We ended up coming in as a group at 7:50. The 7:30 was a bit aggressive for the group with having a no fin kick. We decided to leave the time and just complete the sets at a hearty pace but wait for all the swimmers to finish and rest before we went off again. This worked out well for everyone.

The next set of 200’s were designed for control. Looking at the split times I knew that every swimmer in the lane had the ability to hit time 1 thru 4. It was #5 that was going to be the challenge. If we took the times and managed them then I was certain that the sub 1:30 could be achieved or at least everyone could come near it.

Melissa lead us out on the first 200M. She was a little fast in the beginning but settled in and brought us in a couple of seconds fast in the end, but it was the first one and the first one is always fast.

Chandalynn was next on deck to take us out. Again, she went out fast and at the split she was ahead of pace by 3 seconds. I said to her to let up a little on the last 100 and she easily brought the group within the set time.

Next was Brian. With his ability to hold a pace, I had Melissa back him up and go second. I hung in the back of the pack with Evan so Brian could lead us in on the mark.

On the 4th 200, it was Jeremiah’s turn. The time was 1:30-1:35. His first 100 was 1:25 which was way too fast for the group. I stopped at the wall to have him ease up a few strokes to hit the last 100 at the split time. He took control of his stroke and brought us in on time.

The last 200 was an all out to hit a sub 1:30 split. I had Evan in the back of the pack on the last two 200’s because he wanted to lead on the sub 1:30. The draft in the back would conserve his energy to bring us in at the goal time. The clock hit the top of the minute and he took off. I was right behind him to make sure he hit the split. The first 100M he was at a 1:24. As we rounded the wall and headed out for the last 100 he started to fade a little. I gained a stroke on him and then two and by the third stroke I was on his feet. We were 5 meters from the wall and I slapped his feet to indicate to him the pace had fallen off. He hit the wall and made up some ground. With the thrashing in the cloudy water, I could not tell where the rest of the pack was at this point, but I saw the clock as the turn into the last 50 meters inches from Evan’s feet. To be under 3:00 he needed to push it in order to hit the last 50 in a sub 40. I was on him the whole 25 meters until the turn into the home stretch. I counted the ghostly images within the cloudy bubbles, 1,2,3 and then 4. When I saw the 4th image go by I pulled out into the lane and kicked it into overdrive. I knew Evan would see me and crank it up. I gained ground on him as we both touched the wall at 2:55.

The goal was sub 3 and we got under the 3-minute mark. The rest of the group was on our heels and every one made a good time on the last 200 of the day.

We started the cool down and ended with us going our separate ways to start the day.

Good swim, excellent swimmers and I main goal was to make it challenging for everyone which I think was accomplished.

Upper body workout at lunch will end the work week of training as tomorrow is a rest day.