Monday, March 29, 2010

It's not pretty, but it's 20

This past weekend was my first 20 mile run in training for the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon. It was best long run of this training cycle yet. Wait, no, best isn't the word I'm looking for. Worst--it was the worst long run of this training cycle.

A few things went wrong for this run. First, my wife and I were going to go and look at houses around noon on Saturday and I was planning on putting in the 20 when I finished. When I woke up, however, she asked me if I'd just go and run now (about 8 AM) so I could stay out of her hair while she cleaned. I didn't think that would be a problem but I made at least 2 mistakes; one was easily fixable that morning and the other was too late.

First, I drank a pint of Heineken the night before and probably didn't drink enough fluids afterward. That may or may not have made a differences but I'm going to go ahead and lead toward it did as I felt a little dehydrated. Second, I thought a bagel would be an OK breakfast before running. Unfortunately I know I put too much cream cheese on it. Right after I put the cream cheese on I was thinking, whoa, that's too much cream cheese. When the right amount of cream cheese on a bagel before a 20 mile run is none and I just happened to pile it on. It wasn't sitting well in my stomach from mile 1 through 20.

So the whole run my stomach went between a dull ache to severe cramps. I also brought along blue powerade (powerade doesn't have flavors, only colors) and that crap only made me feel worse. I was going to dump it out and fill the bottle with water, but all the stupid drinking fountains haven't been turned on yet.

So pretty much the whole run my gut hurt, I'd get thirsty, drink some powerade, and then it'd hurt worse. Yuck. I put in the whole 20 though, slowly but surely. It was still fast enough that it fell into Mr. McMillan's pace range for a long run but I was definitely feeling it.

Fortunately my legs didn't get beat up too bad and I was able to do an easy 8 with the MN Running Wild group yesterday and another easy 6 today with some hill sprints thrown in for good measure.

I hit 60 miles last week which is a post-collegiate mileage PR. This week I'm cutting back a little and I'll aim for about 50. I'm running a 20k on April 10 so that next couple weeks I'll keep my mileage steady around 50 so I have some legs for the 20k.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Reading

I thought it might be nice to start reviewing some running books I've enjoyed. Although it's probably redundant as there are many book reviews floating around on the interweb, I don't really care because my opinion counts more. 

This past year I've become obsessed with running books and have been reading between 2 and 4 a month. Some have been great and some have been so-so. I'll start with one of the great ones and mention the so-so ones here and there.

One book I really enjoyed was "Duel in the Sun", by John Brant.  It's the story of Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar's epic race in the 1982 Boston Marathon. Before this past year I hadn't been a running history junkie and I knew very little about this race, so reading an almost stride-by-stride account of the race was very interesting.

The narrative of "Duel in the Sun" moves between the 1982 Boston Marathon and the lives of Beardsley and Salazar. For the most part does a pretty good job at it, though it can feel choppy at times. Leaving the race and moving into one of the racer's lives, Brant does a nice job keeping just enough tension to keep the narrative compelling. 

The book is a lean 203 pages and could probably be read in one sitting. At times it left me wanting to know more and it actually lead me to pick up "Staying the Course: A Runner's Toughest Race," Beardsley's memoir. "Staying the Course" was a decent read but I still preferred "Duel in the Sun." 

Some people don't enjoy reading race accounts, but if you're like me and don't mind reading about how runners jostle for position, surge, draft, and other race details, you'll probably enjoy this book. It had just the right mix of biography and running to keep me interested through this quick read. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snot-nosed runner

Every spring I get a cold/sinus infection/mucus-filled grossness. I think I catch something every spring is because: 
DST messes up my  sleep patterns
All the germs sleeping under the snow in the winter wake up, fly into the air, and land in my nose (yes, all of them)
I work at a school filled with carriers of all kinds of infections

I read that as long as a cold is above your neck it's OK to run. All the disgusting mucus is staying squarely in my sinuses (unless I'm snot rocketing or spitting it out) so I'm planning on continuing my running as planned. Maybe I'll put some kind or tourniquet on my neck while I sleep to make sure the snot doesn't migrate south and spoil my running plans. That's safe, right?

I do not like running with a cold. It slows down my pace, causes me to spit frequently, and leads to an inordinate amount of snot rockets which, regardless of how awesome, are still a little gross--especially if they don't get complete clearance and stick to the side of the face, the arm, or the shoe.

Having a cold also makes it really hard to put in morning runs. I usually start to feel better as the day goes on, but first thing in the morning the mucus content of my nostrils is at its highest. Waking up with my eyeballs floating in snot, hacking, blowing, and spitting phlegm, doesn't lead to positive feelings about putting in an easy 6.

I'm going to try to run 8-10 miles this afternoon. It's supposed to be a multi-paced fartlek kind of thing, but we'll see how much this wicked cold gets in the way. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Running

This weekend was a great weekend of running. Although there has been warmer temperatures this March, the weekend was sunny and just warm enough that it didn't suck.

I put in an 18-miler on Saturday with 14 miles at MP + about 15 seconds, so 7:25ish a mile. It was definitely my hardest long run so far but it was a million times better than the first 20 mile run I did training for my first marathon. 

That 20 mile run brings back (terrible) memories. It was a Saturday morning last July and it started out innocent enough. I thought I was going to do 10 miles out and then 10 back at my goal marathon pace. Wrong. It got hot, which for Minnesota means about 75 degrees. By the time I turned around, and I ended up doing maybe 3 miles at MP. Then, at 14ish miles I ran out of water. At 16 miles my legs felt like jello, and I'm still not sure how I finished the whole 20.

Saturday's run was so much better. The only downside was I decided I didn't need gloves and when I pulled out a pack of jelly-beans around mile 14 my cold hands had problems opening them. Then, when I got the pack opened my fingers' dexterity was far from adequate for putting said beans into my mouth. I dropped several, costing me at least 14 calories and surely a slower pace. 

On Saturday I met some new friends, a group called the Minnesota Running Wild. They were all doing different distances and paces but I found someone who wanted to go 10 at about my pace. Unfortunately, Emi and I weren't overly familiar with the route and ended up running 14.7 miles instead of 10. Oops.

Oh well, over 32 miles is pretty good for one weekend. I got a little over 55 miles last week and I'll shoot for 55 miles+ this coming week. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daylight Savings

Anyone else have a daylight savings hangover? I know some runners--particularly those who run after work--welcome daylight savings time. They get an extra hour of daylight to finish their run.

I, however, have been running early Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and DST has messed me up. This year I had sort of a delayed reaction to it. Tuesday morning was fine besides starting and finishing my run before the sun came up. Yesterday morning I must have hit the snooze bar 3 times before I finally got out of bed.

Then, last night sleep just wouldn't come. Usually I sleep awesome while I'm running this hard. Last night, however, I just wasn't tired, despite having gotten up before 6 three days in a row and working over 10 hours two days in a row. The culprit: daylight savings time.

It better wear off this weekend because I got some serious running to get done. I got a hard 18 miler tomorrow with 14 miles at MP + 20-30 seconds--probably the toughest run of this training cycle so far. If DST keeps me up late again tonight I'm going to be seriously ticked.

In other news:
Thanks to Razz for putting on a great inaugural "Global Warming, My Ass!" 6.66 mile virtual race. I managed to edge out the competition for first place. The full results are at Razz's blog, Running off at the Mind.

Have a good weekend running!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Putting in the miles

There are few things as satisfactory to me lately as writing down my mileage on my current training plan. Before I started training for this marathon I planned out about 20 weeks on Excel, using Brad Hudson's marathon level 2 plan as a template. Though I've moved workouts around here and there and had to miss a couple for schedule, weather, and injury reasons, for the most part I've been logging almost all the miles my plan called for.

I feel great when I write in pencil underneath my planned workout the actual miles I ran that day. It's great when the day calls for 6 miles easy with 10 X 10 second hill sprints and I can write down 6.2 miles. It's like doing the extra credit problems at the end of a high school math assignment. You don't have to do them, but when you do you know you've accomplished something. You know the teacher's going to look at your paper and say, "Wow, not only did he do all the problems, he even did the extra credit! What a bright kid."

Sure, there's no one looking at my training plan, but I still feel like a bright kid when I run a few tenths of a mile farther than the workout calls for. Because not only does it mean I did a little extra, it also means that I have a little cushion later in the week if I need to cut a run short.

Last week was a pretty good week of running. My hip was a little sore after the GW,MA virtual race, so I took an extra day off. Even with that day off I managed a little over 50 miles. This week I'm looking to go over 50 again and after a 9+ mile run this morning I'm well on my way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Race Report - GW,MA

Yesterday's "Global Warming, My Ass!" inaugural virtual race went off without a hitch. The weather was pretty nice for the second week of March--race time temperature was about 44 degrees. It was a little windy but the rain had mostly let up, though there were occasional sprinkles throughout the race. 

The course was supposed to be 6.66 miles, though the Garmin measured it at 6.69 miles. I'm not sure how I did at running the tangents, but 3/100 of a mile isn't too bad. Plus, I know they always measure these things slightly long to be sure the course is certified. 

The route was fairly scenic--it ran along the Mississippi River in an out-and-back course beginning at Kaposia Landing Regional Park and following the Mississippi Rive Trail. The MRT was nice and flat with no camber--making this a PR course for sure. It began heading south, which yesterday just happened to be into about a 10 mph wind. No worries though, because I knew I'd be turning around and finishing the course with the wind at my back.

I knocked off the first mile in 6:30 which was pretty decent considering I was heading into the wind. The next mile clocked in at 6:29 and I realized I was on pace for a PR in the 10k if I kept it up. I calmed down a little and the third mile was an easy 6:34. A half-a-mile later was the turnaround. Luckily there was no one in front of me running really slowly so after turning around I was able to pick up the pace again.

With the wind at my back now I started speeding up. If I could keep my pace I knew I would set a PR for the 10k and after that I could just cruise for another 4/10 mile. At four miles I was on pace to average 6:30 and confident I would break my 10k PR of 40:37 (granted I've only run one 10k and it was 2 days after running 20 miles). After going under the Interstate 494 bridge the wind was really at my back and I picked things up even more. I hit the lap button on my Garmin at 6.22 miles--39:51--a new 10k PR. Now it was time to dig deep and finish this 6.66 mile race strong. 

With 200m left I got up on my toes and sprinted. No one was going to catch me from behind--not even that lady walking her dog and occasionally running. I came through the finish at 42:26--also a PR for 6.66 miles.

Here's a bird's eye view of the course. Congratulations to everyone who completed this epic virtual race.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Returning from Injury

Last week was a nice week of running. I didn't do anything intense besides hill sprints, and the ankle didn't really bother me at all. The weather is really starting to get decent around here. Yesterday I ran in shorts outside for the first time since November. That's about 4 months my legs went without seeing the sunshine.

I'm looking forward to a quality week of running. I'm still going to keep it cautious and probably the only quality I'm going to do are hill sprints and Razz's virtual race, though I might throw in a fartlek on Friday if I'm feeling good. I'm also switching my long run day from Sunday to Saturday so I won't be doing a long run for 13 days. The 20k I want to do in April and my goal marathon in May are both on Saturday so it make sense to switch my long run to Saturday also. I figure that way I'll be able to completely get over this ankle problem and continue doing core work these next 2 weeks.

I'm discontinuing my weekly workout report. Instead I'll just sum it up. I ran 35 miles, did 3 days of core, and did elliptical last Sunday as my last day of taking it easy from the ankle injury.

Yesterday I did a long run of just over 17 miles, which means I ran 52 miles over 7 days without any nagging injuries. That's pretty good for me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Virtual Race

Look out virtual racing world--I'm about to put the virtual smack down. That's right, I just registered for a virtual race. No, not a race to benefit some worthy cause, though I might do that someday. Instead, I'm using this virtual race for virtual bragging rights. 

I'm guessing there will be plenty of virtual runners who are faster than me, but that won't stop me from earning virtual bragging rights. I'm simply going to run the most race-like virtual race of anyone. Perhaps I'll chalk off a starting line and set up a turn-around cone. Maybe I'll set up an aid station--at the very least I'll have a virtual aid station. And there's no way I'm running with my ipod (they'll be banned on my course). I'll probably use the virtual partner on my Garmin 305 to have a virtual competitor to duel it out with.

This race is being sponsored by Razz at Running Off at the Mind. If you're interested I think you have the rest of today to get registered. Good luck to everyone taking part in this worthy event. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back at it!

Monday's test run went pretty well. I gingerly tip-toed 4.7 miles on a bike path. If it was summer I'd be doing everything on dirt trails and such, but at least the bike trail doesn't have a camber. The ankle had a couple of small twinges of pain, even as I was gingerly tip-toeing along, but they were nothing like the pain I had been feeling. The pain was mild and sporadic and didn't really bother me. I might not have even noticed it if I wasn't really looking for it. In fact, I actually wasn't even tip-toeing. I mean, really, wouldn't that just put undo stress on the calf muscles?

I felt so good after the run I threw in 8 X 10 second hill sprints just for the heck of it. Today I ran 6.6 miles and there was a little ankle pain towards the end of the run, but again, nothing too concerning. Since this morning's run I haven't felt any pain at all, so after I take tomorrow off I might run even farther on Thursday.

It was actually nice taking a few days off for an injury. I'm glad I'm doing something smart for once instead of trying to push through the pain and ending up worse off.

On a different note: The scene that met me on my run this morning as the sun was coming up looked like some kind of expressionist painting. Or, at the vary least, some sort of artsy poster you can buy at Ikea. I was running along the Mississippi River just before sunrise and the sky and the river looked amazing. It was a little bit foggy and there was a mist hanging above the water. There were pink streaks across the sky and various waterfowl dotting the water. Then, a large osprey flew out across the river and I was thinking, I wish I had a camera. Then the osprey pooped. Not even kidding. It pooped and it's poo splashed right into the river. I'm guessing that part wouldn't have made it into the artsy poster at Ikea.