Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weights and 6 miles easy

The weather was kind of bad at lunch so I decided to do some weights in the gym and hold off on my run until after work. I did about 35 minutes of lifting, doing a good mix of upper and lower body stuff. I tried to make sure I wasn't doing too much weight and I definitely focused a little more on strengthening my quads and hamstrings. I have definitely slacked off this year in getting into the weight room. As I try to get my mileage up, I have less time available so the weights have been getting squeezed out. After the Boston marathon, I'm going to make an effort to try to lift twice a week on a regular basis. I think lifting regularly helps my form, helps prevent injuries and makes me tougher and more relaxed when I run.

Between a hard hill workout on Monday and weights at lunch, my legs were pretty dead for the run. I did 6 miles at 7:40 pace at the park. It felt pretty good. I was just running easy and relaxed and not pushing it. I wanted to try to have a little something in the tank for Wednesday's 8 mile tempo run.

20 days to Boston

The Boston marathon is 20 days out and it's hard to believe it is coming up that fast. I got my packet pickup card in the mail on Saturday and my bib # is 1456. I'm getting pretty pumped about the race and I feel good about my fitness level. I've felt strong and hit the times I've wanted to hit on my past few hard workouts and I've had two really strong 20+ mile runs on hilly terrain in Conroe. I only have a few really tough workouts left and I'll really start to taper back next week. I'm going for a 2:45 marathon if the weather cooperates. Only one out of the last three years really had ideal conditions for running a good time. 2006 had 70 degree temperatures, 2007 was ideal, and 2008 was very windy. If the weather conditions are hot or windy, I'm going to slow down my first half and try to just be able to finish strong instead of going for a specific time and blowing up in the 2nd half of the race. Maybe if the weather conditions are bad, I'll elbow my way to the front of my corral and go all out and try to run with Ryan Hall for the first 1/2 mile and get my face on tv.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hill Workout

Since my legs were relatively fresh today, I decided to try a treadmill hill workout my dad had sent me that was supposed to be geared towards people training for Boston. The workout was 8 sets of 90 seconds at marathon pace on a 6% incline, 1 minute recovery jog, 60 seconds at marathon pace at a 7% incline, 2 minutes recovery jog.

I did a 3 mile warmup outside to minimize the time I had to actually run on the treadmill. I covered about about 3/4 of a mile in each set, though the distance covered gradually dropped off throughout the workout as I jogged a little slower through the recoveries. I made it through 8 sets and did about 3/4 of a mile easy cooldown for about 9.5 miles total on the day. I found the 90 seconds at 6% to be much harder than the 60 seconds at 7% incline. Some of it was probably just mental since the 90 seconds seemed so much longer and I felt like I could always gut out a hard 60 seconds no matter how tired I was. I was happy with the workout and I didn't fall off the treadmill and my hamstring didn't feel any worse than normal though I could feel it a bit. We'll see how the legs are feeling tomorrow for a slow easy day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

7.6 miles

Ran 7.6 miles at the park Sunday morning. 46 degrees out and sunny and not windy. The weather was really nice and I cruised the run and felt really good. I got a pretty good night's sleep last night and I didn't feel near as exhausted as I had been the last two runs. I finished the run at about 6:40 pace and did the 7.6 miles in 53 minutes. Sometimes it seems funny that my per mile pace at the end of a run can vary by a minute from one day to the next when neither run is a hard workout.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Long Run - 17 miles - 2:10

This was one of the most miserable runs I've had in a while. It was slow, cold and windy the whole run. It was in the low 40's and I was battling 20+ mph winds the entire run and I ran by myself the whole time. A number of people were racing on Saturday and some people had gone up to Conroe and I ran some before the 6:00 am start, but I was late getting to the base at 6:00 so I don't even know if any of the guys I run with showed up. The first part of the run went north up TC Jester to 610 and we were running straight into a headwind. I was doing 7:30's - 7:40's, but I was working to hit that pace. I had worn my arm warmer sleeves for the run which worked great, but I really wished that I had gloves. The windchill was in the mid 30's and my hands took a long time to warm up. I was able to pick up the pace a little coming back with a tail wind but I started slowing up again near the end when I had some more headwinds I was running into. By the time I got to 17 miles, I just didn't have it in my to pick up the pace for the last 6 miles and I didn't really see much benefit to going on at that point so I packed it on. On a positive note, my heartrate never averaged more than 149 bpm for a mile during the entire run. My avg heartrate over the entire run was 144 which is really slow for me. Usually I am hitting in the 150's - 160 for an easy recovery run. With such an easy run, I'll be a lot fresher for this coming week to get in a tough hill workout and a long tempo run.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday - 8 miles

Easy 8 miles in 1 hr. My legs were pretty tired from the interval workout and I was just beat. I ran at 3:45 pm and it was about 80 degrees out which didn't really help much either. Not much else to say about the run. My legs seemed to be feeling ok and the interval workout didn't appear to have aggravated my hamstring or foot at all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interval Workout

I took Wednesday off partly because of bad weather and partly because I wanted a day off this week before I do my last 24 miler this weekend. I pushed my speed workout back until Thursday evening. The workout was 6 x 1 mile with 1 minute rest. Because of bad weather again, I did the workout on a treadmill. I did a 3 mile warmup in 21:30 and then started the workout. I set the treadmill at a 0.5% incline to compensate for no wind resistance. I waited until the treadmill got up to full speed before starting my watch for the mile interval. At the end, I slowed it down to walking pace for about 45 seconds and then started ramping it up to full speed so that I was at full speed and starting the next interval after 1:00 - 1:05 after finishing the last one. My splits were 5:41, 5:39, 5:36. 5:34, 5:30, 5:19. I probably could have run the first few a little faster, but I like to negative split my workouts and I didn't know how trying to start in the mid-5:30's would feel or how my hamstring would hold up. My hamstring felt pretty good throughout the workout. I could definitely feel it a little bit during the last few, but the amount of discomfort was noticeably less than what I felt during hard workouts over the last few weeks. Discomfort might be a little too strong a term to describe it because it was more like I noticed it felt a little tight or weak. It really didn't bother me that much and it didn't feel as tight when I was stretching it afterwards as I have noticed in the past weeks. I probably won't be doing my long run up in Conroe this weekend. I've been a little tired and I'm not real excited about getting up by 4:30. My hamstring has been feeling a lot better this week, but I think running here in Houston may be a little easier on it and then I can do a tough hill workout on Monday. It's hard to believe that it's only 3-1/2 weeks left until Boston.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

8 miles - feeling good

I posted this once, but it didn't seem to show up for some reason so I'll try posting it again. I ran 8 miles in 54:10 (6:46 avg pace)at memorial park this evening and really felt good. I didn't even think about my hamstring until over halfway through the run when I remembered that it had been bothering me lately and I was surprised that I hadn't felt anything at all in it. Between not having a super long run this weekend and a relatively easy hill workout on Monday, I felt a lot stronger and fresher than I often do on a recovery day. I got in a groove and was running low 6:30's the last several miles of the workout. I hope I feel this good on my last 24 miler on Saturday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kenyan Way hill workout - 9 miles total

I had a good workout this morning despite the alarm going off at about 5:15 am. I did a 3 mile warmup, 25 minutes of hill repeats and a 3 mile cooldown. We did a little bit longer/steeper hill than we normally do and Sean made us walk down the hill after each repeat. I got 25 repeats in during the 25 minutes. I'll call it 3 miles but I'm not sure exactly how long it was. I felt pretty good - my hamstring felt ok which was good. I didn't know if the hill workout was going to stress it more since I was doing shorter, more explosive sprints than my normal speed workouts. I did a 3 mile cooldown back to the house after the workout and stretched for a few minutes before heading off to work. This is going to be one of my tougher weeks culminating with a 24 mile long run this weekend. I'll probably be going up to Conroe for it to get one more tough run in on the hills up there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

6.4 miles easy

Pretty uneventful run today. I ran 6.4 miles in 49 minutes and I was doing most of the run right around 7:40 pace. My legs were pretty tired after hard longer runs 2 out of the last 3 days and I needed a nice slow recovery day. None of my aching body parts really bothered me during the run which is a good sign. I've been having a little pain in my left arch but it never bothers me while I am running. It seems to be sore afterwards or at random times during the day. I've been doing some toe raises fairly regularly trying to strengthen my calves and arches so hopefully it won't be anything serious. The weather was really nice out this weekend, but I saw we are supposed to get some rainy weather coming up this week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Long run

I ran 14.5 miles with 11 miles at goal marathon pace. I was a little late getting there in the morning so I ended up running the entire time by myself. I started out with about a 2.5 mile warmup before the 11 miles at marathon pace. It took me a couple of miles after my warmup to settle into the pace I wanted, but overall I averaged 6:15 for the 11 miles which is right where I wanted to be at. I was a little surprised my heart rate wasn't higher than where it was at but the temperature was about 60 out this morning although it was very humid.

My splits and HR for the 11 miles were-
1- 6:25, 168
2- 6:21, 169
3- 6:18, 171
4- 6:20, 172
5- 6:14, 171
6- 6:12, 170
7- 6:14, 172
8- 6:12, 174
9- 6:21, 173
10- 6:21, 171
11- 5:48, 177

Miles 9 and 10 had a little more uphill in them and then I pushed the last mile to try to get back on a decent pace. The total run took 1:34. I was pleased with this workout since it was only 1-1/2 days after my last hard workout and I ran last night too. My body felt a lot better at the end up this run compared to how I felt at the end of the 20 and 24 mile runs I've done. I've definitely felt a lot more motivated and excited about my runs the last few days.

7.6 miles

I ran 7.6 miles at the park in the evening after work. I was surprised at how well I felt. The temperature was in the mid 70's and I figured I would be a little sluggish after the progressive run I ran on Thursday. i was surprised how quick my first mile was and by the 2nd mile I was just under. I ran the 7.6 miles in 53 minutes which averages out to just about 7:00 pace. I probably could have gone even quicker but I didn't want to wear myself out too much for Saturday's long run with 11 miles at marathon race pace.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday - Progressive run - 12.4 miles total

I didn't want to not do a hard workout this week so I decided to do the Wednesday workout on Thursday - an 11 miles progressive run where I pick up the pace each mile and finish sub 5:40 pace. My plan was to be sub 7:00 pace after 2 miles when I was sufficiently warmed up and speed up ~10 seconds/mile for each mile. My actual splits were 7:23, 6:54, 6:48, 6:36, 6:31, 6:18, 6:11, 5:52, 5:46, 5:37, 5:26. After I finished the 11 miles, I did a 1.4 mile cooldown.

I felt great today, was motivated, not sore and was really pleased with how the workout went. Midway through the workout, I was thinking of doing a 12 mile progressive run with about 1/2 mile cooldown afterwards, but I made too big a jump in pace when I went from 6:11 to 5:52 to be able to keep picking it up each mile at the end. It was definitely a confidence booster to be able to keep picking up the pace and finish sub 5:30. I had originally been hoping to get down to about 5:35 pace at the end and when I was close to that after mile 10, I knew I still had enough in the tank to pick it up for another mile.

I felt good throughout the entire run and my hamstring/quad/feet all felt ok and weren't bothering me. Since I did this workout on Thursday evening, I won't be attempting to run a 5k this weekend. I'll just plan on doing my regularly scheduled shorter long run with 11 miles at marathon pace.

The most amusing part of my run took place with about 3 miles left in my progressive run. I was running on an asphalt sidewalk/trail that loops around a neighborhood and a golf course and there were a number of people out walking dogs or riding bikes on it. I came up on older man walking his dog who was stopped near a drinking fountain and he just reeked of booze. As I got near him, he told me that I had better run the other direction around the loop. I'm not quite sure why it bothered him so much that I was running counterclockwise instead of clockwise, but since I was cruising at sub 6:00 pace at this point, I didn't want to stop and ask him why I should be running clockwise around the loop instead. I was wondering if I would see him again since I still had another loop to do, but I didn't run into him again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday - day off

Between being pressed for time, lack of motivation, and injury avoidance I took the day off. Lunch was the only time of the day that I could run and I was starving when lunchtime came around so I decided to get lunch instead of running. I feel like I'm pushing the limits of not overtraining and getting injured. My hamstring's been kind of tight for a few weeks and flared up a little after last weekend's 24 miler and I've also had a little discomfort in the muscle or tendon that goes across one of my arches. I think taking a day off will do just as much for me mentally as giving me an extra day to recover from my aches and pains. Sometimes I wonder what I'm going to be like when I get old if I feel like I'm always walking around now with minor aches and pains.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday - 6 miles

Tuesday's run was a tough workout and I ended up throwing in the towel early. I ran 6 miles in 44:30. Before the run, I was considering doing my hard workout for the week - an 11 mile progressive run-that day since I was going to be hard pressed for time on Wednesday. I also figured if I did the hard workout Tuesday, I would be fresh enough to try running a 5k race on Saturday.

After the first mile, it was clear that I wasn't going to be doing a progressive run that was any good. My legs still felt heavy and tired an my first mile was at about 7:40 pace and I wasn't really feeling like I could really start picking up the pace. At that point I decided just to do a 9 mile run and then try to squeeze in the hard workout at lunch on Wednesday and cut it back to a 10 mile progressive run.

The whole run on Tuesday I was was just really struggling with motivation. I don't particularly enjoy logging lots of miles, especially by myself and when I'm running slow. I had picked the pace up to about 7:20 pace after the first lap at the park, but my legs were sore and I had no motivation. I think I mildly strained my quad when I was lifting on Monday - nothing serious, but it was still kind of tender. One of those things that you need 2 or 3 days to recover from and then it will be fine. It was starting to get a little dark out and after about 6 miles I decided that I had enough for the day and I didn't see the benefit of doing another lap. I hate logging what I consider junk miles. In my perfect world, I would run 6 - 8 miles quick for every recovery run, but of course I can't really recover effectively when I am going slow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

5 miles easy, weights and core work

I did some weights and core work at lunch on Monday and then went running in the evening after work. In my past experience, I've found that doing weights on a a fairly consistent basis helps me recover from injuries and stay injury free. I focused more on my legs and did a lot of core work and stretching. After work I was contemplating doing a hill workout on a treadmill. I decided to go outside and do a 4 - 5 mile warmup and see how everything felt. Part of me really wanted to get in a good hill workout and 9 - 10 miles total, but I also know that one workout isn't going to make or break Boston for me and I don't want to do anything dumb. I tend to be kind of hard headed sometimes and keep training until my body forces me to take a break. I ran the 5 miles at about 7:30 pace and my hamstring felt decent, but my legs were just exhausted from 40 miles in 3 days and lifting at lunch. I also knew that the last time I did a long run on the hills in Conroe Sean told me not to do hills on Monday so I decided to call it good at 5 miles and spend some extra time stretching. I think that I will do my hard workout on Tuesday this week and see how I feel. If things are feeling good at the end of the week, I will probably try to run a 5k, if not, I'll just stick to doing my regular mileage and trying to stay healthy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

7.5 miles easy

I ran just over 7.5 uneventful miles at Memorial Park Sunday evening in 56 minutes - avg 7:25 pace. The first mile was a little slow and after about mile 2 I settled into about a 7:20 pace for the rest of the run. My hamstring felt kind of tight most of the run. It didn't get sore like it had previously, but I could definitely feel something there for most of the run. Other than that I felt pretty good. I didn't seem too sore or tired after the 24 miler. I was contemplating doing about 9 miles once I got midway through the run, but after doing about 40 miles over the last 3 days I didn't feel the need to add on to the run. Lots of stretching and foam rolling after the run. I was thinking of running a 5k this coming weekend, but I'm not so sure about it now. We'll see how I'm feeling on Thursday and Friday. I seem to be able to put in the miles without aggravating it too much, but the speedwork worries me a little bit. The 24 miles with 6 hard at the end on Saturday definitely was tough on my legs.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

24 miles in Conroe

24 miles in 2:44:31. Last 6 miles attempting to run close to marathon pace.

Today was a tough run. I'm glad I got it done, but it wasn't what I would consider a fun run. I was kind of hoping it would be raining when I got up so I'd have a legitimate excuse not to go. I have to get up at 4:30 am to get up to Conroe for a 6:00 start. My body still seems to be a little tired from the Texas Independence Relay last weekend. Unfortunately for my excuses, the weather was fine so I headed up there. Fortunately Sam came up so I didn't have to do the run by myself. Sam said he was going to take it relatively easy the first 19 miles or so and pick it up at the end. The temperature was in the low 40's this morning so I wore shorts, a long sleeve base layer and a fluorescent green shirt so hopefully cars would see me and not run me over. I started out with gloves, but ditched them after a couple miles at one of the places I had put a bottle full of gatorade. We ran a little bit different route than the last time we were up in Conroe and I think it added some more hills to it. Near the one of the roads we were running down, one of the guys up there was coming the other way and said he hadn't gone all the way to the end because there was a dog out there. We could hear him barking in the distance and we turned around when it started getting louder. I didn't really care to have a run in with a dog. My hamstring definitely felt tighter today in the cold weather and probably because I didn't stretch it enough at the end of yesterday's run in the cold. I stopped for about 45 seconds midway through the run to stretch it out some and that helped. I put some icy hot on my legs with about 7 miles to go since both of them felt like they were getting tired and a little sore. We started picking it up with about 6 miles to go and Sam took off at a faster pace than I could hang with. The last 5 miles of the run were also the hardest 5 miles with the most hills in them of the entire run. I was contemplating doing a couple miles on a different road without as many hills but I decided that would be wimping out and I was going to run hard on the tough hills to finish. My goal was to run the last 6 miles at 6:15 - 6:17 pace, but with the hills I figured it would be a little slower. I ended up averaging just under 6:20/mile for the last 6 which I was happy with considering I felt like my legs were tired the whole run and we were running on some serious hills. I can't imagine heartbreak hill being tougher than one of the hills we went up which was at least a 1/2 mile long. The cool weather definitely makes a ton of difference and helps keep my heart rate down. Here are my splits and HR's:

1 - 7:34, 143
2 - 7:00, 152
3 - 7:25, 155
4 - 6:50, 151
5 - 7:22, 154
6 - 7:05, 150
7 - 6:47, 150
8 - 6:55, 151
9 - 7:07, 156
10 - 7:14, 159
11 - 6:51, 152
12 - 6:54, 151
13 - 6:58, 154
14 - 7:00, 157
15 - 6:58, 159
16 - 7:06, 160
17 - 6:55, 157
18 - 6:36, 167
19 - 6:17, 171
20 - 6:30, 172
21 - 6:21, 174
22 - 6:29, 176
23 - 6:17, 176
24 - 6:04, 177

You can basically figure out the miles with hills, at least in the first half of the run by my splits and heart rates. I definitely never really felt aerobically limited. My HR tends to get up into the 185 - 187 range when I'm hitting my aerobic limits. Today it was all my tired legs that were limiting me. I'm happy with the run. I finished in under 2:45 and was able to finish strong. I think I could have added on a couple more miles at 6:30 pace so basically I could have run a marathon on the hills in Conroe today about 5 minutes faster than my Houston marathon time. Only one more really long run before Boston in 5 weeks.

Friday, March 13, 2009

8 miles in the cold and light rain

Brrrrr. It was chilly out there. When I started my run, the temp was in the mid 40's with 90% humidity and the windchill was about 40. The first mile or two were kind of cold and I had to pull my hands inside the sleeves on my shirt. After 1-1/2 - 2 miles I was warmed up enough that I could pull my hands out and run without any problems. The park was really empty. I think I've gone running at 9:30 pm and seen more people than were out there about 1:00 pm today. The run was pretty uneventful. I did the 8 miles in 55:23, about a 6:55 average. I finished the run at about 6:40 - 6:45 pace. Tomorrow I'm heading up to Conroe bright and early for 24 miles as long as it isn't raining a bunch. If it is raining hard up there when I get up, I think I'll just stay down here and run sometime when it isn't raining. My hamstring hasn't bothered me at all this week which is good news and everything else seems to be doing ok. The next 3 weeks are going to be pretty exhausting with two 24 milers planned and several high mileage weeks getting ready for Boston.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

6.5 miles on treadmill

It was pouring outside at lunch and windy and about 50 degrees. I saw two crazy guys head outside to run in the rain, but I figured I'd rather endure the boredom of a treadmill than get thoroughly soaked and cold. I set the treadmill on random so it changed the incline throughout the run which made it a little more interesting. I wish that when it jacked the incline up to 4 or 5 degrees, it would also slow the pace down. I would have to slow the pace down on the hill parts and then speed it up again as it got flatter...kind of like a real run. I did just over 6.5 miles in 46 minutes which was about as long as I could take on it.

A couple updates/clarifications on some of my previous posts. My team got 9th overall in the Texas Independence Relay. If we hadn't gone off course a couple of times, we would have moved up to 8th place, but the 7th place team was way ahead of us.

When I said that I ran the 6 mile loop backwards on Monday, I didn't literally run backwards for 6 miles. I ran the 6 mile loop in the opposite direction that I normally do. Somebody who shall remain nameless asked me about it so I wanted to clarify it in case anybody else out there was confused and losing sleep over it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

5 Miles easy

I went to the park with intentions of doing my speedwork, but I saw Sean there and stopped to chat with him and he told me not to do any speedwork this week and just run easy to recover from the race this past weekend. He said there would be a group run up in Conroe this weekend so I'll be heading up there for a 24 miler this weekend. I wasn't feeling real motivated and my legs still felt a little strained so I headed home after 5 miles. My hamstring and calves felt great, but one of my quads was a little tender.

Monday 6 miles easy, Tuesday - off

I decided to go out for a 6 mile run at lunch on Monday since I had about 30 hours recovery since the last leg I ran in the Texas Independence relay. The first half mile I wondered why I was actually going for a run the day after running the relay where I ran about 27 miles total over a 16 hour period with 23 of them being marathon or sub-marathon paced. Surprisingly, my hamstring felt fine. I figured that it would probably be tender or tight after multiple fast runs since it seemed to feel like that the day after my last 8 mile tempo run. My calves definitely felt a little tighter and strained. I probably could have done a little more cooling down and stretching between legs of the race although I did do some after each leg.

After about 1/2 a mile, I started to loosen up and feel a little better. I decided to be wild and crazy today and I ran my 6 mile loop backwards today. I almost always run my looped runs in the same direction, but I figured going the opposite direction would keep the run fresh and exciting. After a couple miles I was actually feeling pretty good and felt like I could pick up the pace, but I held back some. I finished the 6+ miles in 45 minutes and averaged 7:25 - 7:30 pace.

I was swamped at work on Tuesday and at work from 7:00 am - 9:30 pm and didn't get a chance to run. It is probably just as well because my calves still felt kind of tight. Last year when I was having some pain in my achilles, it was preceeded by tight calves and not backing off when I needed to. They are definitely feeling better this morning and I'm planning on doing my planned speedwork this evening. Hopefully the weather will hold up and I can run my workout outside rather than on a treadmill.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Texas Independence Relay - 24 hours of agony and exhaustion

What a day. I'm trying to muster the energy to type out this post before I crash from exhaustion. Our team finished the 203 miles - actually somewhat longer after several brief jaunts off course- in about 24 hours and 40 minutes. I'm not sure what our official time ended up being. I think people who run races like this must enjoy torturing themselves. 200+ miles in hot, humid windy conditions can't ever be considered fun by sane people, but I have to admit that I actually enjoyed and I might do it again. The race website had a calculator on it where you input your 5 mile race time and it would come up with an estimated pace for you for the entire race and it told me my estimated pace was 5:59. In good weather conditions and running shorter legs that might have been possible, but I didn't even try to run that pace for the legs that I ended up doing.

We started yesterday afternoon in Gonzales, TX a little after 1:00 pm. Governor Rick Perry was running on a team from Austin and started shortly ahead of us. Deep down we all wanted to beat his team. The whole team ran about 1.1 miles together in a loop around Gonzales Texas before breaking off into our 40 individual legs. My first leg ofr the race was an 8.8 mile leg that was ranked as the hardest leg in the race. Rob who runs our fitness center at work and was running on our other work team called me shortly before I was going to run my leg to give me a heads up on the course. He had run the same leg a couple hours earlier and said it was one of the hardest runs he had ever done in his life. He said he was almost 1 minute/mile below his race predicted pace but he was pretty happy with how he had run. Nothing like giving me a bunch of warm fuzzy feelings before I started. The leg was entirely on hilly dirt roads. It was 78 degrees out, mostly cloudy and pretty windy. The only good news was that it was mostly cloudy, unlike earlier in the morning, so I didn't have the sun beating down on me.

At the exchange point I was a couple minutes behind the next person in front of us. It wasn't too windy at first and I felt really good as I started out. The first 4 miles were relatively flat with a couple of rolling hills and my splits were 6:01, 6:05, 5:50, 5:54. At this point I was feeling great and it wasn't too windy and I was wondering why Rob was talking about how difficult the leg was. Then the real fun began. As I was coming up a hill near mile 3 I saw a guy in front of me and I thought I saw another one or two people farther ahead, but it could have just been fence posts off in the distance. I caught the guy in front of me near mile 3 as I was cresting a hill and I expected to see the other people in front of me when I got over it, but they were nowhere to be seen. On some of these roads you can see miles ahead of you at times and it is really hard to judge how far away something is. I was cruising down the hill and the first problems came up at a turn on the course. I was pretty certain that we were supposed to go right and I thought that was the direction the cannon on the sign was pointing, but I could see somebody well off in the distance running down the road to the left. If they had marked arrows on the dirt road they were long gone. I thought that the cannon pointing to the right meant go right, but I was confused with the person running the wrong way. I knew that if I made a wrong turn, it would be almost 2 miles to a water stop and if I didn't see it by two miles I would know I was running the wrong way. Then I'd have to turn around and go back 2 miles to the point where I had made the wrong turn. Since I wasn't certain, I actually just turned around and ran back to the person I had passed and asked him which way we were supposed to go. He thought we were supposed to make a left turn, but he said if the cannon was pointing right we should go that way. I turned to the right and hoped that I was on the right path. I ended up adding on almost 1/4 mile onto that leg by turning around and going back to that guy. Mile 5 wasn't particularly hard either as it didn't have too much uphill in it and I hit it in 6:05. Then the real fun begins. In mile 6 I finally hit the hill that Rob was talking about and I had seen on the elevation profile and my split was 6:24. I was working hard at this point and every time I looked at my Garmin, my heartrate was showing 187 which seems to be the highest that I ever see it on the Garmin. The scary part was I knew that this wasn't even the steepest part of the hill that I saw in the elevation profile and to top matters off the wind picked up and I was running into a headwind most of the time I was going uphill. Just before mile 6 they had a water stop with water bottles set up on a table so I grabbed one and downed it. Mile 7 was pure agony. The first half of the mile, I was doing about 7:30 pace up the hill into a tough headwind. I went around a curve in the road and you think that you are cresting the hill, but it only gets steeper. We hit a plateau near the end up the mile for a little bit before we had the final ascent to the peak. My split for mile 7 was 6:46 and finally in mile 8 I crested the hill for good and finished mile 8 in 6:29. I knew that it was basically flat to the end so I would on just running fast and smooth and finished out my run with 6:00 to finish the nine miles in 55:33. After that leg I don't know if I was brushing more salt or dust off of me. I averaged 6:11 for my 9 mile jaunt and I was really pleased with it. After that leg I wondered how much I would have for my other legs later in the race. I finished this leg just a little after 3:00 pm.

On the next leg of the race, our runner collapsed about 1/4 mile from the finish of the leg. I don't know if he was just dehydrated or ran out of electrolytes or what had happened. A couple guys on our team ran to where he was and helped him walk in the last 1/4 mile to hand off the bracelet to the next runner, but that was going to throw a wrench into the plans since it didn't look like he would be able to continue. Later in the day we decided that in order to not wreak havoc on the entire schedule of planned runs, it would be easiest if I ran a double leg at night and picked up this guy's leg and then somebody else would take a short leg of mine near the end of the race.

My second leg started at 8:30 pm and I was going to run back to back legs for a total distance of 8.8 miles, 5-1/2 hours after I had finished my first hard leg. They were legs 14 and 15 It was a relatively easy couple of legs - just straight down highway 90 so I didn't have to worry about turns or missing a turn. There were some rolling hills, but nothing like the hills in my first leg. The hardest part was being alone out in the dark. It's just really hard to press hard in the dark when you are by yourself. When I started my first leg, i could see the blinking lights on the backs of a couple runners ahead so I had the motivation to catch them and I hit my first 2 miles in 6:12 and 6:11. After I had passed the 3 runners, I couldn't see anybody ahead. My next 3 splits were 6:15, 6:16, and 6:19. At about 4.7 miles I hit the checkpoint where I normally would have handed off but I kept running through. One of the guys on my team met me with a gatorade and ran with me for about 30 seconds while I drank it. The temperature had cooled off to a balmy 76 degrees, but the humidity had increased to about 105%. I caught 2 more teams right near the end of the first of the back to back legs and then it was back to running in the dark by myself and hoping that the oncoming cars wouldn't veer onto the shoulder and hit me. For the night legs we had to run with a light, a blinkie and a reflective belt or vest and I had a cool florescent green shirt that people ought to be able to see from about a mile away. most of the time i would actually run in the middle of the lane of the highway since the footing seemed smoother than on the shoulder and I would move to the shoulder whenever I saw oncoming traffic up ahead. My mile 6 - 8 splits were 6:24, 6:17, 6:19 and the last 8/10 of a mile were at 6:18 pace. I finished the 8.8 mile leg in 55:20, a 6:17 average. I was just dead at this point. I scarfed down the remaining 2/3 of a subway footlong sandwich that I had gotten earlier in the afternoon and drank a lot of water.

Every 5 or 6 legs, we would swap vans with the other half of our team and we would do our legs while they would go up to the next changeover point and wait for us and then we would swap and they'd do the legs while we rested until ours came up again. After our evening legs, we went to a high school in Wallis, TX where they let people shower and sleep in the gym. We got there just before midnight and the first guy running on our team thought that he would start running at about 3:40 am so we needed to leave at 3:15. Keep in mind that this is daylight savings time change weekend. In order to avoid confusion, we weren't going to change our watches until the end of the race since all the projected times on our spreadsheet didn't account for the time change. I went inside and set the alarm on my phone for 3:00 am. I was too tired to shower and I just wanted to get some sleep so I set up my cot, pulled out a blanket and hit the sack. I woke up about 1:40, went to the bathroom and then went back to sleep. The next thing I know my phone alarm is going off and the clock on my phone says 3:00 am. It seemed like I had just fallen asleep, but I figured I must have just slept like a rock. I pulled out my Garmin to check the time on it to make sure that the time was right on my phone since I figured there was a possibility that the phone could have switched an hour ahead since it can update the time off of the cell towers. I turned on the Garmin and it says it is 3:00 am and I know that I hadn't changed the time on my Garmin so I started packing up my cot. This cot takes a couple minutes to pack up and it squeaks a little bit and I didn't want to wake up some of the people sleeping around me. Still I had this nagging feeling that it wasn't really 3:00 am so I walked out of the gym and saw a clock that said it was just after 2:00 am. I guess the Garmin must automatically adjust the time off of the satellites and my phone changed time off of the cell tower. I was a little ticked that I was missing out on some sleep and I went back into the gym. I didn't want to re-set up the cot since it took so much time and made so much noise so I pulled a couple towels out of my bag and I figured I would just lay on them. As I was setting the towels down on the floor, one of my teammates walked by and I could tell he was looking around the gym trying to find me. It turns out that he had looked at the predicted end time and not the start time for his leg and the other team was running ahead of their predicted pace - a couple of guys seemed to have been sandbagging on their times- and we needed to leave to get to the next exchange point. My alarm timing actually ended up being just about perfect and I didn't feel quite so bad about it going off an hour early.

I had the 2nd leg in our group and it would be the last leg of the race for me since it would be my fourth leg since I had doubled up on legs 14 and 15 earlier. I was running leg 25 which was a flat 5 mile leg that crossed over the Brazos river at the exact halfway point. My leg started at 3:20 am (old time). The thermometer in the van showed it was down to 73 degrees out, but I think the humidity was up to 118%. There was water in the rumble strips on the shoulder on the edge of the road and it definitely wasn't raining and there weren't any sprinkler systems around. When I was getting ready to start the race and standing around the exchange point, Governor Rick Perry was there and he was running the same leg as me. One of my teammates was chatting with him and told him I was running the leg so the Governor came over and introduced himself and we chatted for a minute while we waited for our teammates. He said he would probably be running about 8:00 pace and looked at me and said he figured I could probably do about 6:00 pace. I said I was pretty tired, but I was hoping to get in the low 6:00's. His teammate came through about a minute ahead of mine so he had a little bit of a head start. I took off pretty hard since I knew it was my last 5 miles and I had seen a lot of teams come through the checkpoint and I knew I could catch a lot of people. I hadn't done too much of a warmup other than jog for about 2:30 and do some form drills and a couple easy strides. It took me most of the first mile to really get warmed up and in a groove and I hit mile 1 in 6:13. Sometime in the first 2 miles I caught Governor Perry and passed him and said hello as I was going by. He had a multiple vehicle entourage shadowing him throughout his run. After I saw him, i kept going after the next set of blinking lights I could see ahead. My legs actually felt really good and I was telling myself that I need to pretend that this is the last 5 miles of the Boston Marathon and I need to keep pushing hard even though I'm tired. I hit mile 2 in 6:03. At about 2.3 miles, I started running up the bridge over the Brazos river. It would have been cool if I weren't running a race and could have had more time to take in the picturesque moonlit night. There was a mostly full moon, partially obscured by haze and humidity and the reflection of the moon glimmered on the Brazos river. I worked the downhill on the bridge and knew that the last 2 miles would be totally flat. I hit mile 3 in 6:04 and mile 4 in 6:07. With one mile to go I figured I'd push it a little harder since it was my last mile of the run and I could see a couple more blinking lights up ahead I wanted to run down. I lost count of the number of people I passed on this leg after I ran out of fingers. I finished my last mile in 5:50 for a 6:04 average for my final 5 miles. I ran 24 miles in the race plus about 3 miles warming up and cooling down for the various legs. I was totally exhausted but glad that I was done. Later in the morning we had about a 4 hour break when we were in Houston so we came by my house and crashed for a couple of hours. I figure I got between 3 and 4 hours total sleep during the race.

The team ended up doing fairly well. The conditions were brutal on Sunday morning - hot, humid and sunny. I think we fell off pace a little near the end as people were fairly exhausted and battling the warm weather. Two of our runners went off course and ended up adding on at least a couple extra miles and did it in the heat of the day. After going off course, the Governor's team passed us, but our last runner was able to pass them back and beat them out by a slim margin. We started later than them so our time would be better regardless, but it still feels good to cross the finish line ahead of them.

I think I've run out of energy typing all of that. I'll add an update whenever I get our official results for how our team placed. I know that we didn't win because I saw at least one or two teams of ringers out there. I saw Brett Riley and Colin Carroll running the race - I'm not sure if they were on the same team or not, but their team or team would have toasted us. I'm hoping that we made the top 5 open men's team, but I'm pretty sure we'll be in the top 10. Off to catch some zzz's. I won't be doing the Kenyan Way hill workout tomorrow morning, but I will try to go for an easy run sometime.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday - 5 miles easy

With the Texas Independence Relay coming up on Saturday and Sunday I just wanted to get a nice slow easy run in to loosen up. I had eaten at Chick-Fil-A for lunch and I guess my lunch was still sitting in my stomach because it didn't feel very good the whole run when I ran after work. I did an easy 5 miles at about 7:45 pace. I could have gone faster, but I wanted to save my legs for the next couple of days of torture.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

7 miles easy

I ran 7 miles around the Woodlands after work on Thursday in 50:30 and averaged just under 7:15 pace. The run wasn't too eventful though the hamburger in my stomach from lunch was sloshing around the last 3 miles and I was hoping I wouldn't have to make a pit stop in the woods before I finished, but fortunately I made it back with no problems. My hamstring had felt kind of tight in the morning after Wednesday's tempo run but it didn't bother me at all during the run. I spent some extra time stretching, using the foam roller and doing some gentle strengthening exercises after the run.

On a sad note, it appears that they have changed the toilet paper brand in our bathrooms at work. The new toilet paper rolls are definitely narrower than the old ones and they also seem to be a little thinner. It's still 2-ply and reasonably soft, but it definitely seems to be a step down in quality and I don't like it as much. I guess everyone's looking to cut custs where they can these days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

8 mile tempo run, 12 miles total

I was feeling pretty fresh today and ready to go on my 8 mile tempo run. The temperature was 72 out, slightly breezy and partly sunny. I was planning on trying to start out around 6:00 pace and gradually work up to the low 5:50's by the end of the 8 miles. I didn't know how much the warm weather would affect me and I didn't want to go out too hard in the first mile and end up blowing the entire workout. It usually takes me a little while to get dialed into the right pace so I try to negative split my tempo runs.

My splits for the 8 miles were - 5:56, 5:55, 5:52, 5:53, 5:51, 5:51, 5:48, 5:48. Total time for 12 miles was 1:16.

I felt really good out there and pretty smooth and relaxed for the first 6 miles. The last 2 miles were starting to get tough and I think I was probably getting a little quicker than tempo pace, but I didn't want to start slowing down. I've had two really strong workouts this week and I'm feeling really good about the shape I'm in right now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday - day off

My legs were feeling good and I was thinking of running today, but mentally I was ready for a break. I was planning on this being a slightly easier recovery week so I went ahead and took the day off.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kenyan Way Hills - 8 miles

My legs felt great this morning after getting a massage. I did a 2 mile warmup from my house to the corner of Memorial and Shepherd and did some drills and strides. Sean told the people running Boston to go to a different hill course, but I wasn't sure where it was and I wanted to run with Bill since I knew I would get a great workout running with him. We did 22 hills in the 20 minutes. I'm not sure of the total mileage but I'm guessing that we did at least 3 miles. It was a tough workout, but today was definitely the strongest I've felt for a workout in at least a couple of weeks. I think I was pretty consistent with my pace during the workout. After the workout I did a 3 mile cooldown to get to 8 miles on the day. My legs felt so good, I'm contemplating not taking the day off tomorrow and deferring it until sometime later when I feel like I need it more. I'm guessing I may need a day off next Monday. I will probably be running 4 legs of the relay over a 24 hour period and I'm sure I'll be exhausted afterwards and wanting a day off then.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

8 miles easy, afternoon massage

I got up this morning and ran over to the park to run a couple laps with some teammates from my work team that is running the Texas Independence Relay this weekend. For those who don't know, it is a 200 mile relay race with 40 legs and you can have 8 - 12 people on your team. I think they also allow 4 man, 2 man, and solo teams for the ultra-nutcases out there. We drive out about 200 miles west of Houston and then run from there back to Houston and it ends at the San Jacinto monument just east of Houston. We have 12 people on our team assuming nobody pulls out with an injury this week.

It was pretty chilly out this morning - mid 30's and windy so I got a chance to break out the winter running gear one more time. It would have been pretty comfortable out without the wind. We ran fairly easy the first lap - averaged about 7:40 pace. A couple of the guys wanted to do a lap at their tempo pace so we ran the second lap at about a 6:52 pace and then I cruised back home for a total of 8 miles on the day. This weather has been nuts. I had to turn on the A/C in the house on Friday because it was getting so hot and today it's back to heating the house. I went out and had a massage this afternoon and I feel great now. I'll be out at the morning hill workout tomorrow and then I'll enjoy taking Tuesday off after 15 days of running in a row. With today's run, I've done 55 miles in the last 5 days.