Tuesday, July 31, 2012

100 miles: Day 3

Just one run for today. I lied yesterday when I said I was going to do a tempo run. I came home from house sitting this morning and checked my little training plan. It said I had to do a 3 mile warmup, 5 X 3 minutes uphill at 5k effort, and then a cool down.

As I was doing the easy portion of my run, heading toward a hill I believed would get me my 3 minutes, a thought occurred to me: this is what I do for fun. Yes, I watch a little TV here and there--a little more in the summer with my lighter schedule. I read. I do a few other things, but I really spend a lot of free time just running around.

So my fun for today meant I was going to run easy until I got to this long, steep hill, then run up it for three minutes, jog back down, and then do that four more times. When did I decide this was fun? By my third time up the hill my legs were screaming, my lungs were fire, and it was hot enough that as I pumped my arms I could see drops of sweat being flung twelve feet over my head. On my fourth repeat I felt bad when a lady turned in front of me from another trail. As I went by her I knew it would be a miracle if she managed to avoid the droplets of sweat flying off my arms and legs.

I hope she wasn't too disgusted. When I turned back around and headed back down the hill I smiled and said, "hi." She sort of smiled back but I think there may have been a hint of disgust under that smile. Oh course, that might have been because I wasn't wearing a shirt.

Three days in the book and after today's run I'm at 41.5 miles.

Monday, July 30, 2012

100 miles: Day 2

I made it 12 miles this morning and 6 this afternoon. That makes 30 miles for the week, which, if my math is correct, means I'm right on track to make it to 100 miles this week.

That wonderful "Habitat" song was still going through my head, but it also had to fight with "I Would Walk 500 miles." Nothing like a strange medley going on while crusing through Mendota Heights and St. Paul. Da da Da (Da da Da)! Try this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW9Mym1ODhU

I'll be back at it tomorrow--I'm going to do a little tempo run in the morning and then I'll see how I feel for the afternoon. So far I'm feeling great.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

100 miles: Day 1

So far I'm one for one. My plan called for 12 miles today, and I tried not to think about how this was going to be one of my shorter days this week. Fortunately I don't have many individual runs longer than this--most days I'll be running twice. I know 100 miles in a week is not a huge deal--I know several runners who have pulled them off (and a couple that do them pretty much every week), but I'm a little bit excited about going for it the first time.

We're house and dog sitting this weekend, so I got to start the week with some fresh running scenery. I had a nice run through Crosby Farm and Hidden Falls parks after crossing from Mendota Heights over into St. Paul.

As I ran along the river and through the trees, I got this song Laura learned for teaching preschool stuck in my head. There's nothing like spending almost an hour-and-a-half silently singing "the forest is a habitat, a very special habitat..." to myself.

The whole song can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIm0uHOzXTM

I especially like the 5 year-old who's got a beard. I'm sure he had a good reason for it.

100 Miles

Back in May when I wrote my training plan, I decided I was going to do everything I could to get closer to my marathon potential. If you're familiar with any of the running calculator's out there like Runner's World age grading calculator and the McMillan calculator, those tools can help evalate your performance and help you set goals for other distances. An age graded calculator gives you a percent grade based on the world record performance at the distance.

In my case, the marathon is by far my worst time. For comparison's sake, my 5k age graded time is 79%, my 10 mile 76%, and my marathon 69.5%. I know I've got some natural speed, but I've got to think that I can improve my endurance enough to get at least a little closer to my predicted marathon time.

You'd think my endurance would get better as I run more marathons, but unfortunately that has not been the case for the three marathons I've raced. For my first marathon I used a 10k to predict my marathon time and missed the prediction by about 6 minutes. For my next marathon I used a 7 mile race to predict my marathon and missed it by around 5 minutes. Getting better right? The next marathon I raced I used the same 7 mile race to predict and missed my predicted time by almost 7 minutes.

So, I decided that with my somewhat lighter schedule this summer I was going to do my best to improve my endurance. I'm pretty happy with my current 5k PR, and now I'd like to improve my marathon time (and perhaps my 1/2 marathon along the way). So, I'm running more miles than ever. Starting today I'm shooting for my first 100 mile week ever. I've been over 80 miles three out of the last four weeks, so while this will be a little bit of a jump it should be doable.

I'll try to keep my readers updated of my progress--I'll try to think of clever things to write (I'm hoping they can be a little funny, unlike this post) as I run for around 12 hours this week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekend Reading: 14 Minutes

At the end of the school year I was fortunate enough to get a Barnes and Noble gift card from a student with which I purchased Alberto Salazar's new memoir, "14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death."

If you're a running history buff (or an "experienced" runner), you probably know of Alberto Salazar as the former US and world record holder in the marathon. This was back in the early 80s, before East Africans started running in the marathon as much as they do in the modern era. You might also know Salazar from "Duel in the Sun," the story of his 26.2 mile battle with Dick Beardsley. If you follow US distance running currently, you know Salazar is now coaching the Nike Oregon Project's athletes, including US 10k record holder Galen Rupp.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book. Hearing about Salazar's childhood and how he developed as a runner was engaging, and reading about his relentless pursuit of being a great distance runner was intriguing. I think most seriously competitive runners will be able to relate to Salazar in some degree, and although most will never be as single-minded and focused as Salazar, his obsessiveness is something a runner can relate to.

"14 Minutes" begins with Salazar's 14 minute "death." He describes heart attack at the Nike campus in Oregon, and re-vists this "death" several times. The death serves as the thematic glue that holds "14 Minutes" and Alberto Salazar's obsessive competitiveness together.

After describing his family history (mainly that of his father), he describes his running career, his time at Nike, his family, and his coaching at the Nike Oregon Project.

While most of it was entertaining, there were some spots I wish he'd described in more detail. The 1982 "Duel in the Sun" Boston Marathon was brushed over, and his win at the Comrades Marathon later in his career didn't take up as many pages as I would have liked.

Besides the lack of detail in those scenes, there are a couple of areas that might be off-putting to some readers. I enjoyed Salazar's description of his catholic faith, but runners who would rather read about training and racing may not enjoy those sections of the book.

What I didn't enjoy reading was when Salazar showed off his arrogance through his tone and his evaluation of his own talent. Salazar claims (several times), that he, "wasn't really talented." He writes, "I was just stubborn and worked hard like my father and that's why I was so good."

Sorry--you don't run sub-2:10 marathons without being extremely talented. I don't understand how anyone can fool themselves into thinking that their success is a result of pure hard work, but maybe that attitude helps elite runners train harder. Talented athletes such as Steve Prefontaine and Michael Jordan demonstrated a similar mindset in their athletic careers.

Whether or not you're interest in running or in sports in general, "14 Minutes" may be a good read. If you can't get past the arrogant tone and the running community's suspicion of Salazar's training methods, you might want to skip this one.

Happy Running!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Saucony

I've got something to get off my chest. First of all, I love your line of Kinvaras. I've worn out three pairs and am working on two more pairs. The update from the orginal Kinvaras to the Kinvara 2s was outstanding. I really liked my original Kinvaras--they were comfortable, stylish, and durable enough to last about 500 miles.

The Kinvara 2s were even better. I rotated between two pairs and one was pretty comfortable right up to 700 miles. I was thinking about pushing them to 1000 miles, but I was getting too much grief at The Running Room and I had pretty much worn out the outsole. The other pair, for some reason, felt worn out a little over 600 miles, but still a really solid, durable shoe.

Take a look at the upper of a brand new Kinvara 2 next to one with 700 miles on it:

Amazing right? The 700 mile shoe, on the right, is obviously dirtier, but no tears, ripped seems, or any structural problems--after 700 miles!

The outsole tells a little different story. From left to right is a new Kinvara 2, a 600 mile Kinvara 2, and a 700 mile Kinvara 2. You can definitely tell where I push off.

Interestingly enough, it appears that the 600 mile shoe is worn more than the 700 mile one. Maybe I ran faster in it.

Anyway Saucony, I really like your shoes. I've run four marathons in Kinvara 2s, I've raced several 5ks and one miles in Hattoris, and my review of the Kinvara 2s and Hattoris are the most viewed pages on this blog.

So Saucony, I see you've got a new version of the Kinvara out, a Kinvara trail shoe, and there's some new Hattoris on the way. I'd really appreciate it if you sent me a pair to review. Just think how many people would see that review, click on the link, and go get themselves some Sauconys.

It's a win for everyone--I get shoes, you get publicity, and the running viewers of my blog learn about your great shoes. Do the right thing Saucony--send me some shoes to review.

Friday, July 6, 2012

5 Mile Time Trial

Wednesday morning I celebrated our nation's birthday with a little five mile time trial in the streets of Minneapolis. I decided I didn't want to race all out--one, because I was running with Laura's number, and two, the heat index was like 150° at 6:30 AM. So, I decided I'd run at a solid effort, but not all out.

After a little warmup with Nate W., I made my way to the line. I was already really hot and sweaty and I was really glad it was going to be 5 and not 13.1 miles.

At the first water stop I was up with Nate and there was a couple of people behind us. Another pack was out ahead of us and I thought about trying to keep up with them, but decided to stick with my plan of running a hard effort but not going all out. As we got to the cups I had a little trouble getting water. The first two I went for I knocked out of the volunteers hands before finally getting one. One of the guys behind me yells, "Take one, man!"

"I'm trying," I said. Some people really don't think. Did he think I was trying to knock water cups down to sabotage his race?

"I'm not mad at you man," he said. "Just take one."

Later, Nate W. says, "He was mad."

Oh well. He hung with us for a little while and then fell off the pace so he was free to get water without me knocking down cups to keep it away from him.

Besides running a slow third mile, I ran pretty even splits. At the end there was one guy about 10 seconds ahead of me with about a quarter mile to go so I decided it was OK to push the pace and run it in hard. I was able to catch him and went across the line in 29:18, a second in front. I didn't have an official result as I wasn't wearing a chip.

It was a pretty good effort for a hot day. After a cool down, I enjoyed the rest of my day with some swimming, parade watching, and firework viewing with Laura and some friends.

I'm really looking forward to the weather cooling down and having some morning runs that are a little more pleasant. I'm feeling pretty good with the higher mileage, but would enjoy a little break from the heat.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stuff that happens when I run

The heat index yesterday when I was running was 99° F. Today it was a much cooler 96° F. The heat has me going at a slightly slower pace, so I have a little more time to notice my surroundings and think about them with my heat-addled brain.

Yesterday, toward the end of my run, I went past one of Eagan's fire stations. I noticed its sign board read, "Fireworks safety is YOUR responsibility." Hmm, I thought. The fire department must be off for the fourth.

The day before that I was cruising down one of my regular routes on an out-and-back run when right before my turnaround I was passed by a car where a kid, who couldn't have been older than 10, stuck his head out the window and yelled something at me. I'm not sure what he yelled, but it didn't sound nice (and it wasn't, "run Forest!"). I turned around about 10 seconds after that and could still see the car. In fact, I saw it turn into a driveway across the street. I thought about crossing the street and asking the driver if he regularly let his kids (or his kids' friends) hang their heads out the window and yell things at people.

I decided not to ask him about his poor parenting (or poor taking care of other people's kids-ing) though, because who knows what this guy was capable of? He might have been snorting bath salts and come running after me, ready to eat my face off.

It's supposed to be hot for the rest of this week, and I'm keeping my mileage up, so I should have plenty of time to keep observing and pondering.