Saturday, February 28, 2009

20 miles - what a difference a day makes

After my last couple of runs, I wasn't really looking forward to today's run.  My legs have just been feeling tired and I've been kind of slow and I didn't want to have a bad long run.  I set the alarm to get up and run early with the Kenyan Way group, but I just wasn't feeling real hot when the alarm went off.  I was tired and my legs and stomach weren't feeling the greatest so I decided to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep for a couple more hours.  When I got up, I was planning on just doing about 12 miles if my legs felt up to it.  I ended up doing 20.1 miles in 2:20:50

The weather was much better today - mid 50's, breezy and cloudy out.  I also wore a different pair of shoes which may have made a difference too.  I have several pairs of running shoes and most of the week I've been wearing a couple older pairs of shoes that probably ought to be replaced before long.  Since I wasn't planning on doing more than about 12 miles, I didn't take any water or energy gels or snacks with me, but I did stick my my tube of icy hot in my shorts just in case my legs got too sore.  I felt really good the first couple of miles and started thinking of maybe doing 15 miles if I felt ok.  The weather was really nice and I got in a groove and by about mile 6 I was thinking of doing 17 total.  I ran from my house up Memorial Dr to Voss, over to Woodway, Woodway to Chimney Rock to Tanglewood, down Tanglewood to San Felipe, through River Oaks, a little extra on the bayou and then back home.

Things were going great until I missed a turn in the middle of River Oaks and got slightly lost.  My last water stop had been at 6.4 miles at a water fountain and I was expecting to get back to the bayou somewhere between 14 and 15 and was going to stop at a drinking fountain there.  Sometime after I missed the turn, I realized that I wasn't on the route I was expecting to be on.  I kept going on and eventually hit Willowick and figured out where I was.  Unfortunately my bearings were a little off and I turned the wrong way on Willowick and ended up basically doing an extra loop in the middle of River Oaks before I figured out where I was.  Eventually I got back on track after doing a little more than an extra mile.  By the time I got back to the bayou and got to the water fountain I figured I would be a little over 18 miles if I headed straight home from there.  At that point I decided that I'd just do an even 20 so I headed about 3/4 of a mile down the bayou trail before turning around.  My legs were pretty tired the last few miles and I had a nice headwind I was running practically straight into the last couple of miles.  I averaged a 7:00 pace and I was pretty happy with that for a 20 miler that started out as a 12 miler and I was running by myself.  I think my HR was as low as or lower than on my slow run yesterday.  

Splits and avg HR:
1- 7:29, 142
2- 6:58, 152
3- 7:05, 156
4- 7:03, 158
5- 6:54, 160
6- 6:53, 161
7- 6:57, 160
8- 6:57, 160
9- 6:54, 162
10- 7:04, 159
11- 6:56, 163
12- 6:55, 164
13- 6:51, 163
14- 6:51, 163
15- 6:54, 167
16- 6:52, 163
17- 6:57, 165
18- 7:01, 165
19- 7:20, 168 (uphill and headwind)
20- 7:10, 169

I didn't quite get the 22 miles that was on my schedule, but I'm happy I was able to do 20 when I was thinking of doing quite a bit less when I started.  I'm definitely going to take a day off - probably tuesday - this week to let my legs try to recover.  I'll be racing in the Texas Independence Relay next weekend and doing 4 legs of ~5 miles over about a 24 hour period.  My primary goal is to get through the weekend without getting injured.  Time to go get some lunch.

Friday, February 27, 2009

9 miles easy

I had the day off from work today and procrastinated until about 12:30 and decided to go out and do my run in the heat of the day.  I'll just tell myself I'm trying to train in adverse conditions to build mental toughness.  I decided to wear my garmin and heart rate monitor and try to use my heart rate as a guide to make sure I was running easy enough.  I wanted to keep my heart rate under 165 since that is usual at a level where I'm not pushing it too hard.  I don't know if with the heat today - 80 degrees, sunny out - if it was a realistic level.  I ran the first 7 miles keeping my heart rate between 160 - 165 and I was running at 7:35 - 7:40 pace most which felt painfully slow to me and I was getting really bored.  With about 2 miles left I figured I had run slow enough for long enough and I picked up the pace to finish up the run.  I wasn't pushing it too hard and I ran the last couple miles at about 7:15 pace and my heart rate got up to about 168 - 169 at the end.  If it had been 50 degrees out, I probably could have run low 7:00 pace and hit my desired heart rate.  I'll have to talk to Sean sometime about whether using a HR monitor to watch my easy runs when it is warm out will do much good.  I know a couple years ago he said that if you are running in the summer in Houston, it's always so warm that you probably wouldn't really be able to run at a reasonable pace and hit the target HR range.

You always seem to see some interesting people out at the park.  There is one guy that I've seen quite a few times today and he rides a bike over to the park and always wears a long sleeve shirt, jeans, sunglasses, a hat, and some sort of covering under the hat or that is part of the hat that comes out the back and covers the back of the head and neck to keep sun off.  He always sits on one of the benches just on the south side of the golf course parking lot and watches the people go by for hours on end.  I usually see him if I have a day off and I am running in the middle of the day.  And the most interesting person I saw today was a guy who was wearing tight blue jeans, a mesh fabric top that it like an old school football jersey that you wear over pads that was short enough to show off the guys belly, a fanny pack, and he was roller blading on some sort of roller blade/skate that I don't think I'd ever seen before.  Each one had 3 wheels that were about 4" in diameter which were larger than anything I think I'd ever seen.

I won't be doing the Rodeo Run tomorrow and with the warm weather I'm kind of glad.  It has a late start and can be a pretty brutal race when it is hot and sunny out.  I'll be getting up early to do a 22 miler with the Kenyan Way group. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

9.25 miles recovery

Ran at lunch around the Woodlands and did 9.25 miles at a relatively easy pace in 69:20.  I think I averaged right around 7:30 pace for the whole run.  I could feel my hamstring again after the speed workout on Wednesday, but it seemed to go away after a while and it didn't really bother me.  I'm a little concerned about overtraining and not recovering enough with the higher mileage I'm doing.  Hopefully my body will adjust to it.  I will probably need to take a day off sometime next week.  It was in the mid 70's and sunny out.  I did the whole run without stopping for water.  I'm trying to work on going farther when it isn't too hot without the water breaks because I don't really need them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interval workout - 9.5 miles total

Tough workout today.  Workout was 1600, 3 minutes rest, 1200, 3 minutes rest, 800, 3 minutes rest, 400.  I ran at lunch and it was overcast and about 75 degrees out.  My goal times based on the 5k I ran a few weeks back at the Rockets run were ~ 5:00, 3:40, 2:24, 1:07.  In hindsight, I probably should have backed it off a little bit since it was warmer today and my legs have been pretty tired the last couple of days.  My actual times were 5:01, 3:47, 2:32, 1:11

I did a 4 mile warmup and drills, stretching and strides and felt pretty good to begin the workout.  I was pretty worried about running the first mile because I often have trouble dialing in a good pace at the beginning of a workout.  I'm either usually too relaxed and too slow or I come out of the gate too fast.  Being 4 or 5 seconds off on the first 400 pretty much will ruin any chance I have of hitting the target time and with this being a relatively small number of intervals, I didn't want to blow off the mile.  I ran on an asphalt loop near my office that is relatively flat and has 1/4 mile markers every 1/4.  I started out and went through the first 1/4 right at 75 seconds which was perfectly on pace.  Then I started worrying a little bit about the next 1/4 since it is easy to relax and slow down and I didn't want to fall off pace, but I managed to hit the half mile right on pace at 2:30.  At this point I was locked into my pace and hit 3/4 right at 3:45 - 3:46.  I knew that I needed to run tough the last qtr since I had slipped 1/2 or 1 second on the 3rd qtr, but I always find the next to last one the toughest.  It seems like I can always gut out a hard last qtr when I know the end is sight.  I kept pushing and looked at my watch when I finished the mile and hit 5:01.  I think that is probably the fastest mile I have run since I was in college.  I haven't run any competitive races shorter than a 5k since then and i know I haven't run any sub 5:00 miles in my 5k's and I don't recall doing any interval workouts post college where I have gone sub 5:00.  Next time I'll just have to pick it up a tiny bit more.  When I hit my goal time on the first mile I thought, "this workout will be cake."  Little did I know the pain was just beginning.

The 3 minutes rest went by so quick I thought my watch must have been keeping double time because I definitely wasn't recovered.  I started my 1200 at what I thought was a quick pace, but I only hit the 1/4 in 76 seconds and I knew I was in bad shape.  I felt like I was going really hard, but I was going slower than the mile.  The 2nd 1/4 was really painful and I hit the 800 at 2:32.  I gutted out a 75 last qtr to finish my 1200 in 3:47, slower than my mile pace.  My body definitely isn't used to running this quickly but I relish having challenging workouts.  What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.  Again the 3 minutes rest went by way too quickly and I was definitely not recovered for the 800.  I started out strong and hit the 1st qtr in 75 and I was dead at that point.  I managed to do 77 seconds for the 2nd qtr and hit a disappointing 2:32.  If I'd run a 5:10 on the first mile, maybe I would have been able to pick up the pace on the other intervals.

Fortunately I knew that I could crank out the last 1/4 mile pretty quickly even though I was tired.  I ran the last 1/4 in 71 seconds.  It was a little slower than the goal, but I was happy with finishing faster than the last couple of intervals.  I did about a 3 mile cooldown after the workout.

It was a tough workout and my body definitely isn't used to running at that pace.  Fortunately, I won't be having to run like that in the marathon or do a lot more workouts like this one for my marathon training.  My legs definitely felt better today than they had the last couple of days.  I could definitely feel my hamstring some during the cooldown but after stretching and using the foam roller for a while on it, it is feeling better now.  I'm going to try to get up early and get 10 or 11 miles in tomorrow morning.  I need to make up a few miles for cutting yesterday short.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

4 miles slow

In hindsight maybe I should have just taken the day off. After 74 miles in 7 days with a 20 mile hilly long run on Sunday, my legs have felt shot the last couple of days. After 4 miles of 8:00 pace with tired legs, some minor stomach issues, and no motivation to keep going, I threw in the towel on the run. I figured doing another 4-5 miles would give me more misery than benefit and jeopardize any chance of having a good speed workout on Wednesday. I still think I should be able to hit 68 - 70 miles this week. The good news is that my hamstrings haven't bothered me at all the past couple days. Hopefully the speed workout on Wednesday won't cause any problems. The planned workout is 1600, 1200, 800, 400 at fast paces with 3 minutes rest in between. I scheduled a massage for Sunday which usually helps my legs feel a lot better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

7 miles

I was contemplating taking a day off today since my calves were still a little sore and I had done a lot of miles last week, but I decided to take my workout stuff to work and see how I was feeling at lunch.  Sean told me not to do hills today after the long run on Saturday and just to get the miles in today.  If I wasn't going to run, then I would do a little cross training and lifting instead.  When i got to the locker room, two of the faster guys who I occasionally run with were there and about to head out for a 7 mile run so I decided to join them.  It was nice having someone to talk to while I ran and definitely made the time go by a little quicker.  At the end of the run, one of the guys ran a ways ahead of us so I cranked out a really quick last 600 yards or so to catch him before the finish.  My calves were kind of tight, but they loosened up during the run and I didn't have any hamstring soreness at all.  I did the ~7 miles in 50:30.  I haven't measured this route with my garmin before so I don't know exactly what pace I was running.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slow Recovery Day

The good news is that my hamstring didn't bother me at all today.  It's probably because my calves are shot after yesterday's long run and the soreness in my calves blocks out all the pain in my hamstring.  I ran at the park and felt pretty good other than just running fairly slow.  I ran 7.6 miles in 59 minutes which averages out to about a 7:47 pace.  I've run 74 miles in the past 7 days which is as high as my peak weak training for the Houston marathon.  I'm 8 weeks out from the marathon and I'd like to stay in the 70+ miles/week for the next 6 weeks or so before beginning to taper.  My legs are tired, but I feel healthy and injury free for the most part.  Most of the soreness I have in my legs is more tiredness than injury soreness.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long Run in Conroe with Hills

I got up early on Saturday to head up to Conroe to do a 20 mile run on some hilly terrain that Sean had recommended to prepare for running Boston.  We started out in the dark on the run at about 6:15 and I started out with Sam who is also training for Boston.  The first couple of miles were uneventful and then Sam took off in the third mile and I wasn't ready to start hammering the pace.  Eventually I lost sight of him as we were running through curvy roads.  I hit the first water stop at about 5 miles and Sean came running up while I was there and showed me the route I was supposed to take since I was a little confused on the route.  He also told me to work the downhills and go fast on them.  We ran up a street to the end and then back to the water stop area and i was only about 50 yards behind Sean at this point and a bunch of the rest of the group was getting to the water stop and probably thought I was a totally awesome runner since it looked to them like I was keeping up with Sean.

A little while later I saw Sam running the opposite direction and backtracking since he had made a wrong turn.  I kept running and eventually came to a gate across the road so I figured I had taken a wrong turn so I turned around and ran back into Sam coming the other way.  He had some directions in his pocket and according to them we were going the right way so we ran back to the gate and saw a car coming through it and asked the guy for directions.  It turns out we were on the right route, but I hadn't heard Sean say anything about a gate on this road.  I stayed with Sam for about a mile until we got to another water stop about halfway through the run.  I took some of my clif shot blocks and had a couple cups of water and then turned around and started heading back.  I stayed with Sam for about 1/2 a mile before he dropped me again.  I was moving at a decent pace, but I just couldn't hang with him and run at a comfortable pace.  When I got to mile 15 I pulled out the icy-hot I had been carrying with me and put it on my legs to keep them from cramping up or getting too sore.  My hamstrings weren't feeling too exhausted like they had been on Monday, but my right hamstring which had been tender for a few days was definitely giving me a little discomfort.  I kept working the downhills on the hills and finished the 20.1 miles I ran in 2:13:30 for a 6:38 average pace.

When I first finished, I didn't really feel that great about my run because Sam had just destroyed me on that run and I couldn't hang with him.  Then I looked at my watch and realized I had just done 20 miles on hilly terrain at sub 6:40 pace.  If you take out the first 3 miles where I was getting warmed up, I did the last 17 at about 6:32 pace.  I was pleased with my effort on the run and I was able to finish the run strong even though the last 3 miles had some of the toughest hills in them.

1 - 7:31, 160
2- 7:05, 151
3- 7:02, 161
4- 6:36, 157
5- 6:43, 158
6- 6:31, 160
7- 6:31, 164
8- 6:25, 166
9- 6:44, 164
10- 7:00, 162
11- 6:26, 161
12- 6:36, 165
13- 6:23, 168
14- 6:30, 171
15- 6:26, 172
16- 6:28, 164 (HR dropped since I stopped to put on icy hot and get water)
17- 6:32, 173
18- 6:40, 172
19- 6:25, 175
20- 6:18, 175

The splits weren't as consistent as they might have been since there were hills in just about every mile, but I was happy that I was 6:40 or better every mile in the 2nd half of the run.  Sam was on fire and had a great run.  Hopefully the next long run I'll be able to stay with him.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Easy Day - 6.4 miles

After work I ran two laps at the park.  My hamstring didn't feel tight at all at the beginning of the run which was the first time this week it had felt that good.  I was feeling pretty good, but I didn't want to push it too hard since I was doing the 20 miler on Saturday.  I averaged about 7:20 pace the first lap and picked it up to about 7:00 pace the second lap.  By the end of my run, I could definitely feel my hamstring.  After stretching and showering, I put some topical cream on my hamstring that was pretty similar to Ben-Gay or Icy-Hot.  It made my skin pretty hot and feel like it was burning for a little while, but then it subsided and it felt pretty good.  I went to bed between 10:15 and 10:30 and I woke up about 11:45 and the back of my leg and my hand literally felt like they were on fire.  I jumped out of bed and ran off to the bathroom to get a cold washcloth to try to cool it down.   The cold water helped for about 2 minutes and then it started burning again.  After I while I got back in bed and pulled all the covers down and finally it cooled off enough to fall back asleep.  I don't think I will ever put icy hot on my leg in the evening within a couple of hours of going to bed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Easy 5 miles

I got up early this morning to go up to work for a 6:00 am run with some of my teammates for the Texas Independence Relay in just over 2 weeks. The plan was for people to run about 5 miles in the morning, 5 miles at lunch and 5 miles in the evening to practice running multiple times a day. I already had some lunch and dinner commitments and I didn't want that much mileage so I just ran the in the morning. We did a little over 5 miles in about 40 minutes. I didn't have my Garmin so I don't know exactly how long it was. My hamstring was a little tighter this morning (probably since I had done speedwork the day before). After running I spent some extra time stretching it and doing some light weights to try to strengthen it. I've noticed in the past that when I am consistent with doing some lifting, my hamstrings don't bother me. When I do hamstring curls, I only use one leg at a time so that each leg gets worked and I'm not using a dominant leg to do all the work. After the hamstring curl, I also did some squats on a machine. After lifting today, my leg felt really good and I haven't noticed any issues with it. I'm planning on 6 - 7 miles tomorrow and then 20 hilly miles on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

9 miles - progressive run

I got up early and headed to the park planning on running 12 miles total with 10 of them at goal marathon pace. After running a little over a mile, I stopped and talked to Sean about a couple of things. He said that it was a better idea to go up to Conroe and do a long run in the hilly terrain than running the Park to Park race, especially with my hamstring being a little sensitive right now. I'm a little bummed about not running the race, but it's probably the smartest thing. I don't want to hurt myself and end up missing training for a relatively unimportant race and with the mileage and intensity of my workouts this week, I probably wasn't setting myself up to run my fastest this weekend. Since I did a long run Monday and I was a little concerned about having a really high weekly mileage since I'd be doing two long runs 5 days about, Sean suggested I cut a couple miles out of the run and just do a progressive run. I'm not sure I would have been able to do 10 miles at marathon pace around the park this morning. The weather was pretty miserable for running. The temperature was in the low 70's and it was misting/sprinkling the whole time so the humidity was at 100%. I did 8 miles picking up the pace each mile and then a one mile cooldown. My splits were 7:45, 7:25, 7:00, 6:50, 6:33, 6:22, 6:10, 5:57. It took me about 3-1/2 miles to really get warmed up and feel like I was running quick and smooth. I felt pretty good the last 4-1/2 miles.

Instead of doing the Park to Park race this weekend, I'll be heading up to Conroe for the Kenyan Way's Boston training long run. Sean said there are more hills on this course than in the Boston marathon so it should be a good change from at the flat runs everywhere in Houston.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

6 miles easy

I ran a nice slow easy 6 miles at lunch today. I forgot to throw a watch in my bag so I didn't time the run, but I've measured the route with my Garmin before. My right hamstring was pretty tight when I started the run. I stopped about 1/4 mile in to stretch out a little. I was contemplating only doing about 4 miles, but it finally loosened up after about 2 miles so I stuck with my original plan. Once I finished, I spent a little longer than usual stretching and using the foam roller on it and it feels pretty good right now. I'm planning on spending some extra time stretching tonight and over the next few days. I'm not concerned about it being anything major right now, but I don't want it to turn into a problem. I was thinking of running the Park to Park 5 mile race this weekend, but I'll see how my legs are feeling on Thursday and Friday before I decide whether to run it or not. I'd really like to run that race, but I don't want to do anything that could jeopardize my training for Boston since that is my focus right now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

20 mile run with hill workout

Today I ran a 20 mile run and did a little over 4 miles worth of hill work on the TC Jester overpass over the rail yard a little north of I-10.  I really needed to get my long run in because of my lack of running the past couple of days and I also wanted to get some hill work in since Monday's are usually my hill workout days and I need as much hill work as I can get in preparation for Boston.  My total time for the 20 miles and 42 feet (according to the Garmin) was 2:23 (7:09 average).  I'm glad I got the run in, but a lot of it was pure agony.

I forgot my iPod and I didn't feel like turning around to go get it once I realized that I had forgotten it.  When I do long runs by myself, I like to have my iPod because I tend to get bored running by myself for over 2 hours.  I had to plan my route to stay close to drinking fountains since I didn't take my camelbak with me.  I ran from my house to the Kenyan Way base, up to the end of Heights Blvd, back down to 12th st and over to TC Jester to start the hills.  I got to the overpass at exactly 8 miles into my run.  I did 10 repeats over the bridge running hard up to the top and all the way down to the other side.  Then I jogged about 30 seconds out, turned around and jogged back to the bridge and ran back the other way.  My total mileage doing the 10 repeats and jogging easy for about 1 minute in between was 4.3 miles.  My legs were a little sore from skiing but I didn't want to use that as an excuse not to get the miles in or do the hillwork.  By the end of the hills, my legs felt like they were on fire.  I rested for about a minute and stretched out my hamstrings and quads and retraced my route to Heights Blvd.  During this time, my hamstrings were pretty sore.

When you are running by yourself, you have plenty of time to think about things - especially how much your legs are hurting.  I started contemplating heading back home and finishing with about 17 miles instead of 20 and I was trying to justify it in my head-  I don't want to get injured.  I did hills in the middle of the long run which makes it tougher than a regular long run, I'm worn out from skiing and I can do the long run next weekend, etc.  Then I started thinking about how am I going to make it through Heartbreak Hill when my legs are on fire if my first inclination is to come up with an excuse to throw in the towel.  My legs weren't injury sore - it's more of the pain and agony of pushing them harder and farther than they are used to.  I had plenty of long runs leading up to the 2008 marathon where my legs felt the same way.  Surprisingly I really didn't ever get sore hamstrings on my long runs leading up to the 2009 marathon.  I was a little surprised how sore they were and how early in the run they were screaming at me.  After going back and forth, I decided that I wasn't going to injure myself and I needed to get used to logging miles on tired legs if I'm going to run well in Boston.

When I got back to a water fountain I had a pack of Clif Shot Blocks.  After having some stomach issues on a couple of long training runs and in the marathon, I decided to try something different than the Power Gels that I had been using.  I had wanted to take half the pack about an hour into the run and then the other half at about 1:45, but I was in the middle of my hills and nowhere near water to take them with so I ended up taking the whole pack a little before mile 14.  I learned that in a race, I think I will need to put them into a plastic baggie instead of the wrapper they come in.  I was stopped and I had trouble opening it and had to keep biting off bits of the plastic wrapper before I could get them out.  They didn't bother my stomach at all, but I wasn't running at a really hard pace after I took them.  I think at least one of the 24 miles runs on my schedule has me picking up the pace to marathon pace for the last 6 miles so that will be a good time to try out the Shot Blocks and see how my stomach takes it.

I ran back up to the end of Heights Blvd and back down to Memorial and Waugh for my last water stop.  My legs were still in agony, but I knew at this point I was less than 2.5 miles from home.  The last couple of miles actually felt a little better because I knew the end of the run was in sight and I was able to pick up the pace a little.  I was pretty happy with the time I ran and that I was able to finish the whole run and not drop off the pace at all.

Here are my splits for each mile and the average heartrate.  Usually if my heartrate drops from one mile to the next, it is probably because I had a water stop and had 20 or 30 seconds to recover in the middle of that mile.

1 - 7:35, 160 (I'm not sure what is up with the lap 1 heartrate.  It doesn't seem right)
2 - 7:16, 149
3 - 7:28, 145
4 - 7:20, 152
5 - 7:24, 152
6 - 7:23, 151
7 - 7:22, 150
8 - 7:13, 146
9 - 6:41, 166 (started hills at beginning of 9)
10 - 6:36, 171
11 - 6:32, 175
12 - 6:41, 177
13 - 6:56, 170 (finished hills partway through mile 13)
14 - 7:22, 168
15 - 7:23, 166
16 - 7:11, 171
17 - 7:13, 174
18 - 7:14, 174
19 - 7:03, 177
20 - 7:04, 181 (mostly gradual uphill, this mile was tough)

Based on my heartrate, I don't think I could have done much more today.  The hard hills in the middle definitely made the rest of the workout tougher.  I'll be taking it very easy for my run tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ski trip wrapup

I had a blast on my ski trip, but unfortunately I didn't get a whole lot of running in.  We were staying in Breckenridge at about 9600' elevation.  After we skied on Friday, I went out for a run and it was brutal.  There is nowhere flat in Breckenridge so I basically did a hard hill workout for 32 minutes after skiing all day.  I'm guessing I did about 3.75 miles.  I know that I wasn't going too fast on the hills and at the high elevation.  I was exhausted and felt pretty miserable the rest of the night.  I didn't run on Saturday or Sunday, but we had some great snow and a blast skiing.  My legs definitely got a workout even if I wasn't running. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Day - 9 miles

I forced myself to go pretty easy today and not push it after yesterday's hard workout. I did just a hair over 9 miles in 68:30 at lunch. It was sunny and in the upper 60's or low 70's. My right hamstring felt kind of tired and sore, but it improved and felt better as the run went on. I could have picked up the pace, but I decided that I really needed to run my easy runs easy to make sure I get enough recovery. After the run I stretched and used the foam roller for quite a while and my hamstring seems to be feeling better now.

I'm off to Colorado for a ski trip this weekend so I don't know how much running I'll get in the next few days, but I plan on doing a long run ~20 miles with some good hillwork in it on Monday afternoon when I get back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Speed Workout- 6 x 800

I took Tuesday off. I had been at a conference for work all day and I planned on skipping the dinner and running easy in the evening, but when I started to leave I realized that it was raining pretty hard so I skipped the easy day.

Wednesday I did a 6 x 800 workout with 3 minutes recovery between each one. I did a 3.25 mile warmup with some drills and strides. My goal was to average about 2:28 for each 800. I ran at Memorial Park at about 5:00 pm and it was quite crowded. My 800 splits were 2:32, 2:30, 2:29, 2:30, 2:30, 2:30. I was pretty consistent and reasonably happy with my splits. It was a little slower, but the traction on the dirt path isn't as good as if I were running on a track and I was having to avoid other people out running. It was also the first real speed work that I had done in a while. My legs were pretty tired after the workout. I felt like I was limited more by my legs not being used to turning over that fast than being aerobically limited. My legs were a little sore after the workout - not injury sore, but working muscles more than they had been used to in a while sore. I did a 3.25 mile cooldown and saw my friend Benson and he joined me for about 1-1/2 miles of it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kenyan Way Hills

Monday morning I got up early to run hills with the Kenyan Way group. It was misting/light drizzling when I started running and the temperature was in the mid to upper 60's. I was pretty worn out from running long on Sunday and racing on Saturday. I did a 3 mile warmup from my house to the base at Jackson Hill and over to the hills at Memorial and Shepherd. After doing drills and strides, we did 20 minutes straight of the hill circuit. I ran with Andrew and it was a tough workout. We got 18 loops in during the 20 minutes though we started the last one about 5 seconds after we hit the 20 minute mark but I didn't want to finish the workout on the easy segment. After the workout I did a 2 mile cooldown back to my house. Bill was out there and cruising on the hills, but I didn't want to even try to keep with him since I knew he was fresher and going to be cruising fast on the hills. Total mileage was about 8 miles.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

17 mile long run

The alarm went off at 4:45 this morning and I almost decided to go back to sleep and do the run in the afternoon. I decided I would be a lot happier if I got the run over with in the morning instead of suffering through the warmer weather in the afternoon and my legs would be fresher for tomorrow morning's workout with 24 hours to rest. It was about 60 degrees and very humid when I started the run.

Houston streets are quiet before 6:00 am. I got out the door about 5:15 and ran from my house to the Kenyan Way base area, up heights boulevard to the end and back to base, then through river oaks to 610 to memorial park and back home. The whole route was 17.04 miles on my Garmin and took me 2:05 which is a 7:20 average pace. My splits and avg heartrates were as follows-

1: 7:50, 141
2: 7:32, 148
3: 7:29, 148
4: 7:35, 149
5: 7:31, 152
6: 7:25, 150
7: 7:23, 153
8: 7:22, 155
9: 7:22, 151
10: 7:14, 154
11: 7:12, 155
12: 7:09, 157
13: 7:06, 159
14: 7:06, 160
15: 7:06, 163
16: 7:10, 166
17: 7:13, 165

I felt pretty good and only stopped for water twice during the run - during miles 6 and 9 (avg heartrate dropped those miles). I probably could have used a water stop around mile 14 or so, but there weren't any drinking fountains out on that part of the run. My hamstrings were getting a little sore the last couple of miles and some of it probably had to do with going the last 8.5 miles of the run without a water stop. My heart rate was under 160 for most of the run which is good for a long run/recovery the day after a race. Fortunately I remembered to charge my iPod last night because I would have been really bored without it. For any runs longer than this I will probably need to take my camelbak with me or plan my route to make sure I can get water every 4 - 5 miles. I would have taken the camelbak with me today, but I haven't cleaned it out since the last time I had gatorade in it so it is probably all sticky and gross. This run will make getting up for the 6:00 hills tomorrow morning feel like I am sleeping in.

Buffalo Wallow 6k -21:26 - 6th overall

I ran a solid race and I won my age group, but it was a little slower than I had hoped to run.  Last year I ran this race in 21:23 and my goal was to run under 21:00.  I'm not disappointed, but it wasn't as good a run as my 5k last weekend.  I don't think doing my speedwork on Thursday helped too much either.  The open division race didn't start until 9:00 am - they run the masters division first at 8:00.  I wish the open division had been earlier, because it was getting pretty warm by 9:00.  I'd guess it was in the low 70's and very sunny when we ran.  

When the gun went off, I went out pretty hard the first couple hundred meters.  The first hill is about 1/4 mile into the race and it is pretty narrow so you don't want to be stuck in the back of the back.  You really can only go up it single file and you could lose a good chunk of time if you don't get out hard.  We take off on a straightaway at the start and then do a u-turn around a tree after about 150 meters.  Last year somebody hit a small branch which bounced back and whacked me in the eye so I was careful to make sure I had good position.  After we crested the first hill, I backed off the pace a little bit because I knew that I had no business trying to hang with the lead group - Colin Carroll, Gabe Rodriguez, John Hendengren and Jose Lara among others.  I think I might have gone a little too hard the first 1/4 because I never really felt like I was recovered and relaxed the rest of the race.  The lead pack had 5 guys in it and pulled away the first lap.  Rudy Rocha was a little ahead of me and I don't think anyone else really stayed close.  I passed the finish line area at about 7:20 for the first lap.  The first lap is a little longer than the other two because of the start and how it loops around.  

On the second lap, I really started catching Rudy on the first hill.  I thought he was struggling and going pretty slow and I pulled to within a couple seconds of him.  On the second hill of the second lap, I passed him near the top and I put in a surge off the top of the hill to try to drop him and I got a couple seconds ahead of him.  As I was going up that hill, I noticed one of the guys in the lead pack had stopped and was stepping off to the side of the course so I knew that I was up into 5th place.  When we were within about 250 meters of finishing the 2nd lap, Rudy had caught up to me and passed me.  I was fine with him going ahead and doing a little more of the work because I figured that I could pass him off the hills again on the 3rd lap.  I passed the finish line area at the end of lap 2 somewhere around 14:20 for about a 7:00 lap.  Unfortunately for me, he either got a 2nd wind or had just been taking it easy on the hills on the 2nd lap because he didn't seem to struggle on the hills on the last lap.  I was within striking distance going up the last big hill with 1K or so to go, but he wasn't going to let me get by him again.  He ended up pulling ahead of me and beating my by 7 seconds.  I finished about 40 seconds ahead of 7th place.  My third lap wound up being about a 7:06.

Last year they had a timing mat we crossed at the end of every lap so we got our official splits.  My splits last year were 7:15, 6:59, 7:09 and this year's approximate watch splits were 7:20, 7:00, 7:06.  At least I'm pretty consistent.  Last year I had taken almost 3 weeks off after the marathon and the only run I did between the marathon and this race was 4 miles the day before to make sure that I wasn't injured and could run the race.  Between the warmer weather and having a full week of training with speedwork on Thursday, I think this performance is at least as good as last year's race.  This was probably my best spring/summer race last year when you consider how I placed relatively to some of the other faster runners in Houston.

It was a tough race with the field really spreading out.  4th place was almost a minute ahead of me.  In hindsight, I wish I had started out a little easier at the beginning.  I don't think I would have lost too much time at the start and I might have felt stronger on the 3rd lap.  I was watching the master's race and Wilmer Bustillos had a huge lead, but I missed the start of the awards and I didn't hear what the overall masters winner's time was.  When I checked the results online, Wilmer wasn't listed at all and they listed Gerardo Mora as the masters winner.  I don't know if they goofed on the results or if Wilmer got DQ'd or what happened.  I was hoping to beat all the masters runners, but I guess I don't know if I did or not.  I guess I'll have to wait until next year to take another shot at a sub 21:00 on this course.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Easy Day - 5 miles

Ran 5 miles easy today after work in 37:00.  I made a conscious effort to run slower than I normally would since I had a hard workout yesterday and I am racing tomorrow morning.  The run wasn't all that exciting.  I did 4 strides in the last half mile of my workout.  Last week I did strides the day before my race and had a great race so maybe the strides the day before are the key to running fast.  I did read something in Runner's World a few months ago where somebody recommended doing strides the day before a hard workout because it helped activate the fast twitch fibers in your muscles to be ready for a speed workout the next day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I had time at lunch to get a good speedwork day in. My workout was a 3 mile warmup, 4 miles of alternating 30 seconds hard/30 seconds medium, 1.25 mile cooldown. I was feeling much better than Wednesday evening and I had a strong workout. The temperature was in the low 60's and it was sunny out. I did the 3 mile warmup in 20:26 and set a time on my watch to beep every 30 seconds and keep repeating. My mile splits for the 4 miles of 30/30 were 5:52, 5:44, 5:47, 5:42. Including a 1 minute walk after I finished the hard part of the workout, I did the 8.25 miles in 53:56. The mile times varied a little bit depending on whether I had more of the hard or more of the medium efforts during each mile. The first 2 miles were relatively easy. I was able to keep a quick pace and recover fairly well on the medium effort. The 3rd and 4th mile were definitely a lot tougher. I made a conscious effort to not slow down the pace on the "medium" recovery compared to what I was doing the first 2 miles so it felt more like Hard/Hard-lite. In the past when I've done some of these workouts, my recovery effort pace has dropped by up to a minute/mile as I get worn out. I didn't have my Garmin to check my paces, but since my mile times were pretty consistent I think I was doing a pretty good job. I definitely think that I was going just as fast on the hard parts during the last mile as during the first one.

I think this is a great workout for building strength and mental toughness. I find it is easy in a race to ease off just a little bit to a pace that is more comfortable when I start getting tired and this is a great workout to practice running fast and tough when you are tired. I think the workout also helps getting used to throwing a surge in the middle of a race to either catch somebody ahead of you or drop somebody with you.

On a different note, I am going to be running in the Texas Independence Relay on March 7 -8 with a team from my work. It's a 200 mile relay race with 40 different legs. Each person will run about 4 legs and average a total of 20 miles over those 4 legs. We have 9 people on our team and are looking to try to get one or two more people. Last year the winning time for the race was right around 24 hours and the team we have put together looks like it should be very competitive. If any of you ringers who might be reading this blog are interested or know somebody that might be interested (Bill, Sam, Andrew, anybody else?). The cost will be $80 and I think that you will get 3 nice running shirts out of it including one for running in the dark. Here's a link to the website for more information on the race

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day off

Today was just a day where my body wanted a break.  I was planning on doing 8 - 10 miles total with 3 - 5 miles of 30 seconds hard/30 seconds medium after work, but I was just exhausted when I came home.   I just need a little R&R tonight and I'll try 3 miles of 30/30 tomorrow.

I had a scare this afternoon when I thought that my blog had been hijacked.  A couple weeks ago I had sent someone a link to my blog and I inadvertantly left the "s" out of blogspot.  She emailed me and asked what was up with my blog and I clicked on the link in the email and wondered who had hacked my blog.  I went to another website that had a link in a post to my blog and clicked on it and got to my blog and finally realized what had happened.  It looks like any web address at the domain will send you to that site.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another 6 miles

With some work commitments and some after work commitments a couple days this week, I'm pressed for time to get my running in.  I would have liked to have run longer today, but 6 miles was all I could get in on my lunch break today.  I felt pretty good and did the 6 miles in 40:40.  The temperature was in the low 60's and it was sunny out and if felt pretty nice out.

I'm looking forward to the Buffalo Wallow 6k race this weekend.  When I was in high school and college, I loved running cross country and enjoyed it more than track.  The Buffalo Wallow is 3 2k loops and about as good as a cross country course as you are going to find here in Houston.  It has a couple of pretty steep hills on each loop so we get 6 tough hills during the race.  In 2003, the US XC National Championship was held here in Houston on this course.  Running on grass and with lots of turns and hills, the times won't be as fast as a road race, but I think it is a lot more fun.  I still have my college cross country racing flats in my closet that I pull out for this race.  They have more traction and are better suited to running on this terrain than my other racing flats.

I saw the results of the Texas Med Center 5k and I think that course must have been too long.  I know or am familiar with 6 of the top 7 finishers in that race and all of their times were slower than what I expected them to have run.  My time at the Rockets 5k would have won that race.  I ran a good 5k at the Rockets run, but not a time that I would expect to beat all three of the top finishers with.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tempting Death

Probably not really, but I figured I needed a catchy title if I was going to keep people interested in reading about my easy runs.  I had a long day at work and didn't get home until about 8:00.  I'm in a training class most of this week and I don't have enough time to run on our lunchbreak.  I was starving when I got home and I decided to have a peanut butter chocolate chip clif bar before I headed out on our run.  In the past couple of weeks I received a letter and an automated phone call letting me know that there was a voluntary recall on the clif bars that I had purchased at Costco because of the peanut butter salmonella scare.  I decided that the odds of me dying from salmonella weren't worth the hassle of returning it, especially since I had already eaten about 1/3 of the box.  I wonder if I return it with 1/4 of the bars in it, if I would still get a full refund?

Sometimes the hardest part of the run is just getting out the door.  After surfing the web for a while and contemplating whether I should go running, I finally forced myself to get out the door.  The park is pretty lonely around 9:00.  I did a couple loops for 6.4 miles and I didn't wear a watch.  I figured tonight was a good night just to relax and not worry about my pace.  I felt relaxed and I think I was moving at a decent clip, but I wasn't pushing it. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

65 minute run

I ran ~9.5 miles from my house around the Allen Parkway Buffalo Bayou loop and back to Crestwood.  My garmin battery was low so I didn't get the exact mileage, but I think it was right around 9.5 miles.  I was feeling really good and motivated after my race yesterday.  I ran quick today, but I never felt like I was really straining or working too hard.  I knew it was going to be a pretty quick run when I hit 2 miles right at 14:00.  Usually my first two miles are my slowest as I get warmed up.  I've run the start of this run enough that I know exactly where 2 miles is from my house.  The weather was really nice out this afternoon.  It was 72 degrees and partly cloudy.  Some of the run was in the sun and I had cloud cover for part of it.  There were a lot of people out biking or walking or running or hanging out with their families or dogs.  I like doing the Allen Parkway loop because it is about as hilly a run as you can find around Houston.  I probably should have run a little easier the day after a race, but my legs were feeling good and it felt easy to cruise at a quick pace.  Without doing any speedwork since the marathon, I get a little bored on some of the easy runs when I'm just doing easy mileage day after day.  I'm planning on doing one or two harder workouts this week and running the Buffalo Wallow 6k on Saturday.