Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's next....?

It's a question I didn't think I would ask myself until a week or two after the race. But, it turns out, I'm not as fried as I thought I'd be. Yesterday, I actually counted back from the Harrisburg Marathon (November 9th) to see how long I had until I start an 18 week marathon plan. To start that plan, I would have to start on July 6th. That gives me over two months of training time to work on something else....

So.... I decided that I want to start an 8 week, 5k training plan. In my head, it will do two things for me. First, it will allow me to focus on a different kind of running altogether. I'll get much more speedwork in (which I've never really done in my running life) and hopefully throw in a nice 5k pr at the end. The other thing it will do for me is allow me to take the focus away from distance for a while. I'll spend a little less time (maybe not energy, but time) on the roads. And, maybe I'll be able to focus on losing a little weight before I start the marathon training.

I think I'm going to do the Hal Higdon Intermediate 5k Plan. It's 5 days of running (which I haven't done in quite some time), but it's not nearly as many miles as I have been doing. So, hopefully that evens out. I'm going to start next week and see how it treats me. I guess I need to find a track for my speedwork. Hmmm....

I also got my first post-half run in yesterday. Justin (from work) and I went on a run over lunch. It was supposed to be a light 3. But, you know how that goes when you are running with a partner. Anyway, here's the recap.

Run recap- 3.5 miles, 32:05, 9:10 pace

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lehigh Valley Half, the real race report....

This report is the real deal. The other was just a stopgap until I could get a little time to write this one. Truth be told, I should be working on a presentation for my class on Wednesday night. But, who am I to keep everyone waiting on that? Besides, it's the last presentation that I might ever give for school. I mine as well keep up to the lofty standard that I have set for myself (procrastination till my death).

The Day Before
I had planned to stay with Nate in Allentown at the HoJo... But, I got a disconcerted call around noon saying that he couldn't make the race after all. Major bummer for him... All that training and no outlet. That sucks....

So, instead of driving up the day of, my wife and daughter decided to drive up with me on Saturday and keep me company. That was nice. Although, sleeping in a room with someone who is racing the next day vs. sleeping in a room with your daughter aren't quite the same thing. But, I digress... It was great to have them along.

We tried to go to dinner at Carrabas... but it was pretty darn packed. When you have a 19 month old, you learn to avoid stuff like that. So, we settled for Friendly's (one of my least favorite restaurants in the world). It was close and not busy. Both pluses in the "I've got a hungry kid" column. I proceeded to eat the worst night-before meal ever. Chicken finger sandwich, fries and a sundae. Awesome!!!

Finding the race was as easy as pie. It was one turn and we were headed towards the parking. Unfortunately, even though we left early, it was pretty packed around the race (duh). So, I ended up having to jump out of the car to head towards the race for my pre-race routine (stretch, jog, go to the bathroom, repeat as many times as possible).

My wife and daughter made their way back and by some miracle actually saw me before I headed to the start line. Since it was a stadium finish, there wasn't much worry of not being able to find each other after the race.

The Race
Having run only one half-marathon before, I was kinda nervous. But, I wasn't as nervous as the first one and not nearly as nervous as I was for the full marathon. I would have to rate it as regular race nerves. Then, I was chatting up the guy next to me who had run the race on multiple occasions... He described it as a pancake with a couple blueberries (flat with some small hills). That made me much less nervous.

The first 6 miles or so was pretty downhill and I started out on my course. It felt fast, but I knew that I was in an easy part of the race. So, I wasn't going to sweat it that much. I came through the first mile in 8:51. But, I looked at the clock and it said 9:27. Phew... I forgot that it didn't adjust for me not getting through the start line when the clock started. Duh.

The second and third mile just skated along. I was still enjoying the dating stage of the race (courtesy Nitmos). I kept thinking that I was going too fast. But, it was definitely too early to tell. I was enjoying it so much that I missed the 2 mile marker. Only have a split at three. So, I came in at 16:32 for those two miles (8:16 pace for the math challenged).

From there it was kind of a blur. The next thing I remember is crossing the 5 mile mark and thinking the wheels were most certainly going to fall off (came in at 42:22 or 8:28 pace). I had some tightness in my hamstrings and was getting a little worried that I had gotten out too fast. My PR at 5 miles is 40:16. So, that's pretty fast when you have 8 miles left.

The next mile came in pretty close again (8:28) and mile 7 was even faster (8:06). I started to wonder whether my legs were going to fall off or if I was going to break 1:50. It clearly had to be an either or at this point.

I continued to roll on, seemingly unfazed by the distance. Mile 8 came in at 8:50 and Mile 9 at 8:11. Huh, how about that? Still staying pretty close to goal pace. And, despite a pretty good number of hills in Mile 10, I came in at 8:54 for that mile too.

Then, the unimaginable happened.... I ran a 8:13 eleventh mile... Whaaaaa? I don't know. Really weird. I think this was the mile that they had a violinist and a guy singing Frank Sinatra. I think that was a little late in the race for that kind of music, but anyhow. Just added to a strange mile. Old blue eyes cheering me on? Maybe.

But, the rest of the race became a lot more difficult at this point. I just kept repeating the "you can run 2 miles in your sleep" mantra all the way to the finish. Mile 12 was my first (and only) over 9 minute mile at 9:16. The final 1.1 came in at 9:19 (8:28 pace). The ending was very cool. We ran up a small hill past some asian drums (bum, bum, bum, bum.. ok, i'm not sure if I'm affecting a mental image for you, but I am getting one). Then, into the stadium for 3/4 of a lap around the track. I even had energy to pass 4-5 people at the finish.

New PR!! Official time, 1:51:45. A full 3 minutes faster than my previous PR. Sweet!! I guess I'll have to remember this for my next big race. I do think that it's easy to get a little crazed during the taper. Maybe I'll be a little more optimistic next time.

*** Placing update- 977/2923 overall (Top 33%), 73/148 age group (Top 49%)

Lehigh Valley Half unofficial result

I'm going to write a real race report later... but several people have asked me how my race went. So, I figured I'd check in with a mini-report. I finished in 1:51:4?. I don't know my real time. But, that is a very good time for my goals. Not quite my stretch goal of under 1:51. But, pretty darn close. Full report later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That's better.... but not great

I went out for a 4 mile run yesterday to hopefully erase the memory of my heavy-leg run on Sunday. I certainly didn't feel the way I did Sunday (thankfully). But, my pace left a little something to be desired. I was pushing pretty good to see how I felt and could only manage my minimum goal pace for the 4 miler. I wasn't trying to race or anything. But, I felt taxed at the end of the run. So... not sure what to think for the half this weekend.

I am going to run again on Thursday or Friday (2 miles) and that is it before the half. That way, my legs are as rested as possible. Despite the fact that I don't feel that fit, you can't make up fitness in one run. It is what it is....

Run recap- 4 miles, 35:07, 8:47 pace

Monday, April 21, 2008

Am I Crazy?

Either tapering is getting the better of me, or I'm crazy. I had a disastrous last "long run" yesterday. I went out in the rain with Ivey and that didn't bother me that much. But, less than halfway through I got a good bit of thunder and lightning. So, I decided it would be better to turn around and come home. It's not the act of turning around that bothers me. It's the way my legs felt. They actually were ready to turn around. They feel pretty trashed.

So... I'm not terribly optimistic about this race. But, for the long-term, I think it's good that I get this one behind me. It's a good first step for my "racing" year and maybe I'll surprise myself. Who knows? I'm definitely going to get more serious after this one though.

Run recap- 3.7 miles, 37:10, 10:03 pace

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ahhhh Tapering...

For some reason, I remember tapering as a really fun time. I forgot how crazy it can make you. It makes you doubt your fitness (I'm not running enough), get fat (I'm not running enough), and spend too much time thinking about the race. I feel like I'm ready to run the race today. Well, I could, I guess. But, I WANT to run today.

The Lehigh Valley Half Marathon is next Sunday. I have 4 runs left between now and then (6, 4, 3, and 2 miles respectively). I'm going to try and run 3 out of 4 pretty slowly just to keep my legs fresh. I'm curious to know what I'm "supposed to" be doing this last week though. I guess I could go online and find an article that tells me what I should do. This one seems to say that I should do a "dress rehearsal" some time this week. It's a marathon taper guide though, not a half taper guide. Do the same rules apply?

Anyhow, I was curious to see how everyone else treats the taper. I have just over a week left of "relaxing". So, it would be nice to know how everyone else handles it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


As I sit here watching the Biggest Loser finale, I realize that I have more potential that I'm not tapping into. I've definitely reached a point where I'm complacent and content. There are certain things about that statement that I'm ok with. I think I deserve a certain amount of complacency and contentment. I've lost almost 35 pounds. But, with that complacency comes a little self doubt.

Let me be clear... I don't think the weight is coming back. This running thing has definitely stuck. But, I could definitely lose another 15 pounds and would like to lose another 15 pounds. Not only that, even if I don't lose that 15 pounds, I could be a more fit/muscular 197 pounds.

So.... what does that mean? I'm really not sure right now. I think that it means that I'm a little disappointed with myself. I haven't been eating well... No, scratch that, I've been eating terribly. I eat well (probably too little) all day and then eat way too much when I get home from work. I think I know the answer (bring healthy snacks to work and eat more throughout the day). But, that's a lot of energy and money. Stupid excuses. But, I'm in my last month of finishing my MBA and am stressed and tired. It's just another thing to think about.

Maybe that means that I wait until after the half marathon and class is over and really focus. I know that I can do it. I just don't know that I have the energy to right now. Seems like a plan. I just can't allow "pushing it off until later" to be a recurring theme. Been there, done that. Don't want to do it again.

On a brighter note... I ran over lunch today. It was a pretty darn good tempo run. Here's the stats.

Run recap- 4.98 miles, 43:10, 8:41 pace

Sunday, April 13, 2008

12.... no wait, 13 miles

My long run for today was supposed to be 12 miles. I had, what I remember as, a 6 mile loop planned to do twice. Well, my memory wasn't quite as good as I thought. And, it turns out that I ran almost a full 13 miles. There's not one thing that I can think of that is bad about this scenario. I wanted to negative split, and I did. And, I nearly got the full half distance in today. So.... that's encouraging. I still don't think I'm as fast as I'd like to be. But, only the race will tell.

On a related note... I took Ivey (my dog) with me for the first 6.5 miles. She did really good, despite a couple bathroom breaks and detours to chase random animals (mostly squirrels). She's now laying by my side out like a light. Good for her. We went to my college roommates house last night and the dogs spent the night on their own. So, she deserved a nice run.

This also was my last LSD before Lehigh Valley. So, let the taper begin. Woohoo!!

Run recap- 12.95 miles, 2:10:38, 10:06 pace
First half- 6.475 miles, 1:09:33, 10:45 pace
Second half- 6.475 miles, 1:01:05, 9:26 pace

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And.... I fall flat on my face

Not literally... But, I ran yesterday and was supposed to go for 5 miles. Instead, I accidentally cut out one of the streets I was going to run on (pre-planned from RunningAhead). Then, I decided it was ok, I'd only run 4 miles. Then, I was completely trashed at about the 3 mile mark and I decided it would be ok if I walked the final mile of the "run". So.... after running 3.25 of a 5 mile run, I completely gave up.

Now, I rationalize this by saying that I obviously wasn't feeling great and they would be junk miles anyway. But, I can't help but feel like a huge sissy. Looking back, I had two days in a row where I was up before 5 am (very unusual for me). So, that could be getting to me. In the end, I've got 12 miles that I would like to negative split tomorrow. So... that's probably more important. But, damn. I seriously bailed on a 5 mile run? I barely recognize this guy...

Run recap- 3.26 miles, 29:44, 9:08 pace

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Early Morning Running...

This doesn't happen very often... but I got up before work and went for a 5 mile run. I was on the road by 5:45 am and finally woke up at about 5:55 am. It was a pretty good run and I felt much better when I was done. But, this isn't really sustainable. I don't get enough sleep as is.. So, these early morning runs, while a nice change of pace, weren't really meant for me.

Run recap- 4.97 miles, 45:27, 9:09 pace

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I've been tagged, Six word Memoir

It seems like this has been going around faster than the flu bug at the office. Nitmos kindly tagged me to create a six word memoir... Here are the rules as stated on Nitmos site (and probably many others).
(1) Write your own six word memoir.
(2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
(3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogs-universe.
(4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.
(5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

So... combining my stubborn tendencies with my recent confusion over whether or not to run the marathon...

Hard head, hard road, soft feet...

It may be lame... But, now I've fulfilled my duty.

New tagees:
1. Corey
2. Steve
3. Tim (Fat Man Running)
4. Tim Wilson
5. RunningTwig

Monday, April 7, 2008

Crazy Graph?!!

This is my monthly mileage since the beginning of the year. Not too shabby. Just over 20 miles in January, just over 40 in February and just over 70 in March. This month is only 7 days in and I've already got 20 some miles in. Already shaping up to be my longest again. I like the way that looks.

Newville 11

Nate, Bill, Jon Laman and I went out for a run at Newville on the rails to trails. I gotta tell you, running with other people for the long runs is really enjoyable. Conversation and company makes the time fly. It is also nice to see how other people react to long runs and all the funny prep that goes into it.

I decided not to bring my amphipod (don't ask why) and had decided I would just do without hydration for the run.. I have no idea why, just did. Then, I got there and realized how dumb an idea that was. Jon had given me a gu and I needed to wash it down with a drink. So, I carried my hugemungous Gatorade bottle for the first 3 miles and dropped it off. Then, I picked it up at mile 8 on the way back and took my gu. Lesson learned.

The run was pretty good. Jon and Bill stuck with Nate and I for the first half and then really picked it up on the back half. Nate probably could have run faster, but he was being a good buddy and stuck with me. I felt pretty fatigued. Not sure if that had something to do with the tempo run with Dave or just the onslaught of the training itself. But, I was pretty beat by the end.

Only one long run left in the half training (12 miles), then I taper. I'm looking forward to it. The training is beating my body up a bit. Can't wait to race some shorter races after this one. I'm sure I've got some PRs in me.

Run recap- 11.02 miles, 1:44:13, 9:28 pace

Long Running My Thing?

I've been training for some long race (half or full marathon) for the better part of the last 10-11 months... But, I've been thinking about this lately. Is this really my ideal distance? I'll tell you what, my feet said "no" after the first marathon. However, I think I chalk that up to "too much, too soon". But, at 6'1" and 195 pounds, I'm not exactly ideal build for the longer distances. Ok... maybe not for running at all...

Then, there is the question of how much I like running longer distances. That's a completely different story. Everything up to 15 miles is a lot of fun. I like covering a lot of distance on my long runs. It's fun to be outside and running for the better part of 2 to 2.5 hours. There's also the benefit in terms of caloric burn that I get from the long running. So... that rocks too. But, are the longer distances better for me in terms of racing ability?

Exhibit One- My race times on the McMillan calculator tend to get slower as the races get longer. I could run a 23 minute 5k that suggests I could run a 1:47-1:48 half marathon. But, I'd guess that I would be lucky to run a low 1:50 something half.

Exhibit Two- I think I was more built for speed. No science involved here, I just think I am faster rather than longer (no off color jokes please).

Exhibit Three- I'm a complete wuss as the distances get longer. I think I can sustain a peak effort much easier over short distances.

What does all this mean? I'm not sure. I think it means that I will start training harder for 5ks and 5 milers some time in the near future. More speed work and less "long" runs. I'll obviously do some long running, but not with the same intent or distance.

Nate had mentioned that I don't "have to" run the Harrisburg Marathon with him this year. And, I agree, I won't if I don't want to. I just haven't decided I don't want to. I don't want to hang up the marathon after one crash and burn. And, with a second child on the way, it's only going to get harder to get long runs in. So.... this year might be the right year for my second marathon. Then, I'll decide what my running career looks like after that.

Or.... maybe I'll lose 15 pounds and run longer... you never can tell.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not bad...

It's clear that Tuesday's run was just fatigue from a tough workout on Sunday. Today's run went much better. I went out over lunch and got (almost) 5 miles in with Dave. Dave wanted to go a little easier (about 9 minute miles). For me, 9 minute miles aren't fast, but they aren't "easy" either. So, today was a nice test and progress for sure...

We went through some neighborhoods near work that I haven't seen before as well as "under the bridge" and out through a much more residential area. Dave lives near work... so he's a good running partner (well, more reasons than that). He knows a lot of good routes and I enjoy the conversation.

On another topic... this was my first 20 mile week since I've been back from my recent injury. It's taken me 11 weeks to get here. But, I'm glad I did the slow build-up. Strangely enough... since I'm doing my long run on Saturday this week, I'm actually going to put in 31 miles. But, that's kind of an exaggeration since it's next week's long run. But, it's within the 7 day span. So... last I checked, that's a week.

Run recap- 4.78 miles, 41:57, 8:47 pace

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Five Tough "Easy" Miles

I went out on my five miler today very optimistic after my negative split long run on Sunday. I took Ivey along with me (and will continue to take her on the shorter runs). I don't know if it was the wind, dog, fatigue or what... But, that was the toughest "easy" run I've ever been on. My legs did feel sufficiently trashed. But, I didn't expect this...

I ran 5 miles in ten minute miles and struggled to do it. Holy crud!! I must have really beat myself up on the long run Sunday. That's good and bad. It tells me that I'm putting in enough work that my legs are fatigued two days later. But, it also has been my downfall in the past. This kind of running has typically led to injury. The next two runs will really tell the story. If I'm still not back to normal on my "easy" run tomorrow, I'll know I over-did it. But, if I'm ok.... then, just a good work out.

Run recap- 5.0 miles, 50:00, 10:00 pace