Monday, April 23, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: April 15 - April 21, 2012

I believe I've finally overcome the left calf issues that developed after my first marathon on February 26th. Of course, it would be unfair to say that I gave it plenty of time to heal by staying off it for a couple of weeks, so it undoubtedly makes sense that it took 7 weeks to completely heal.

Once again this week, I wore my heart monitor for most of my workouts, and I believe I'm getting a feel for what "my numbers" really are at this point. Nearly every run this week just seemed to flow and be easy from a perceived exertion perspective, and it sure it nice. I kept most of the runs this week fairly steady from a pace perspective, with only one of them having a "surge" for the last 1/4 mile. Mainly just a week of nice, comfortable running.

I also completed the cycling goal I set for myself earlier this month, by passing the 2000 mile mark on my bike within the first 11 months I've owned it. It has been a GREAT bike thus far, although it really isn't anything special. I've had good luck with it, and will hopefully NOT bring that luck to end by saying that I'm yet to have a breakdown of any kind, including a flat, with no wrecks (at least not the moving kind...I did comically fall over twice last summer by coming to a full stop before I un-clipped at least one foot...not recommended if you want to keep your ego intact :-)).

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 6.07 148 165
Monday Walking 4.54 --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.07 154 196
Wednesday Running 6.54 150 199
Thursday Cycling 23.24 121 164
Friday Running 6.15 157 210
Saturday Running 6.41 157 203
Cycling 20.03 137 173

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 4:32:59 31.24
Walking 1:01:38 4.54
Cycling 2:44:20 43.27
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 8:18:57 79.05

In cross-training, I worked in two days of both pullups and pushups. This week increased the pullups a bit, and increased quite a bit on the pushups. Both pushups sessions were the same, with 20 sets of 10 and a 45 second rest interval. I increased the rest interval to 5 minutes for the pullups, and did 5 sets of 10 one time, and 5 sets of 10 plus one set of 6 the other. Once again, no Yoga this week...just not on "the list". I also did a few less crunches this week as well, with only three days doing 25 per day.

After examining the feedback from my heart monitor, I think my actual maximum heart rate is a lot closer to 200 than what I thought it might be earlier, so that will be my calculated maximum until I know differently. While it hasn't sustained at that level for longer than 30 seconds or so, it was more than just a spike on a chart. This puts my average heart rate for all the runs this week right in the middle of in Zone 3, with the cycling all being in Zone 2.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: April 8 - April 14, 2012

This was really a good week, with the calf continuing to improve slowly (almost completely healed), and nothing but a bit of an ache in the knee area when I went a bit too hard....nothing a day of rest didn't resolve. For most of the runs this week, I wore my heart monitor, so I have some new numbers to play with. I also tried to pick up the pace at the end of most of my runs (from the last mile, to the last 1/4 mile). It was nice just trying different things, and having a pleasant week overall. I don't really have a race lined up as a goal, although I would like to get to 2000 miles on my bike by the end of the month (only 62 miles to go). That would all be in 11 months.

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Cycling 25.12 125 153
Monday Running 6.01 153 172
Walking 0.60 119 129
Tuesday Walking 3.40 --- ---
Walking 1.00 --- ---
Walking 1.72 --- ---
Wednesday Running 13.13 145 156
Walking 1.00 --- ---
Thursday Cycling 15.51 117 138
Walking 1.51 --- ---
Walking 1.77 --- ---
Friday Cycling 30.17 123 147
Saturday Running 6.06 149 174
Walking 1.02 148 165

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 3:48:56 25.20
Walking 3:06:47 12.02
Cycling 4:35:44 70.80
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 11:31:27 108.02

In cross-training, I worked in two days of pullups and one of pushups, with one Kettlebell workout. This week increased the pullups a bit, but dipped a bit on the pushups...I'll need to remedy that in the weeks ahead. I did 150 total pushups and averaged 37 pullups per session.

A FAIL on the Yoga this week...just didn't have it in my priority list. Weird that I did that, since I almost always enjoy the classes.

I stuck with the 25 strict crunches per day as a part of the 100X challenge, with one day having 100. I really do need to ensure that this continues to be a part of each week, at least at some level. If I can ever get the layer of "covering" (a.k.a. 5 or so pounds of stubborn fat) off my mid-section, it would be nice if there was some defined muscle in there. Of course, it will have to just magically disappear if I stay with my current eating habits, which includes multiple trips to Yogurtland with toppings like crushed Heath Bar, shaved coconut, and Ghirardelli syrup.

So far this month, I haven't done a single minute of planks, and I can honestly say I don't miss it a bit. I need to do them, since my lower back always felt it the day after, but I'm SO not a fan.

Although I've had a few "anomaly" readings on my heart rate, I believe my maximum is still right at (or close to) 174. I have yet to sustain it at that level though, I've only seen it slowly rise to that level during the sprint at the end of a run, which makes me think it might be a tad higher. I just don't believe that my max is 220 minus my age (which would be 167 for me)....I think its a bit higher, so I'll use 174 for now...but I'm probably just splitting hairs if I'm within 7 beats.

I'm still not sure what my running pace would be in Zone 3 though (or below), since that would only be 132-139. Probably nothing more than a brisk walk. I seem to average a high Zone 1 to mid Zone 2 for my cycling workouts, and Zone 4's for my runs. I may not stick with tracking the heart rate for a long time, but it is interesting for now, and I may find that tracking it from time to time will be interesting.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: April 1 - April 7, 2012

All things considered, I recovered very quickly from the race (given that it was just 12 miles...makes a big difference), and other than just some tightness in my left calf that continues, things went very well.

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles)
Sunday Running 12.13
Monday Rest Day -----
Tuesday Cycling 22.73
Walking 1.70
Wednesday Walking 1.04
Running 4.03
Walking 0.63
Walking 3.88
Thursday Running 9.09
Friday Cycling 22.10
Cycling 9.01
Saturday Walking 1.01
Running 6.10

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 4:59:23 31.35
Walking 2:00:45 8.26
Cycling 3:28:55 53.84
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 10:29:03 93.45

In cross-training, I worked in two days each of pullups and pushups, with one Kettlebell workout. This week had just slightly more work in it than the week before, since I averaged 152 total pushups and 30 pullups per session. I also moved up to 25 pounds and 5 repetitions for the Turkish Get-ups (doing the right then the left until I've done 5 for each side with no rest between).

With my wife doing another long run on Saturday morning, and scheduling conflicts arising, I didn't attend Yoga class this week. I did a "bit" better on the stretching and Yoga at home, but need to get back to it being a daily thing. I also added 25 strict crunches per day to the mix as a part of the 100X challenge, so that is thrown in there as well.

On my run on Saturday I was able to really step it up in the last 1/2 mile of my run to start getting used to periodically running a bit faster. It was tough since I'm somewhat used to sprinting right at the end of a race, but completely unused to picking up the speed for more that a tenth of a mile or so. It was a 6.1 mile run, with the first five miles looking like this:

Mile   Pace  
1 9:27
2 9:21
3 9:23
4 9:17
5 9:15

At about 5.6 miles I started to up the pace, and got to a 7:49 pace by 5.7, dropped back to a 8:12 pace by 5.8, then peaking at a 6:13 pace right at 6.0. The last mile's overall average was 8:29, with the final tenth at a 7:19 pace.

 I was actually trying to see if I could max out my heart rate to see where the real limit was, but since my heart rate was still climbing during this entire time (from 156 @ 5.5 miles to 174 @ the end), I don't believe that is the true maximum. Also, I felt like I could have probably gone further at that pace (a little), or perhaps have gone a bit faster to finish it off. I just have no real desire to hurt myself doing this, so I want to ease into it.

Years ago, I pulled a hamstring trying to outrun my Golden Retriever in the park one afternoon when she was about four months old. She never even looked like she was trying...just had this silly grin on her face the entire time she was "fast-trotting" and looking over at me.  When I both felt and heard the snap and went down like an Indy car wreck, she thought I wanted to play and started licking me in the face and rolling around on me. It probably "looked" like fun, but it took weeks to be able to walk straight again. I won't be going "top speed" anytime soon. :-)

However, this week I'd like to see if I can't spend a bit more time in the sub-8:30 pace to see what that feels like....perhaps a mile or more, but we'll just play it by ear.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: March 25 - March 31, 2012

What can I say...a tapering week for the marathon race. I had managed to all but resolve the calf issue (just minor tightness), but the race effort (even though I only managed 12 miles before having to pull out) did set it back a bit. Not a great deal, but I'll want to be careful moving forward to ensure I let it heal appropriately.

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles)
Sunday Walking 1.09
Running 6.10
Walking 0.50
Monday Cycling 21.05
Walking 0.29
Tuesday Walking 1.05
Running 6.52
Wednesday Walking 1.02
Running 6.54
Thursday Rest Day
Friday Cycling 21.27
Saturday Rest Day

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 2:56:38 19.16
Walking 0:55:52 3.95
Cycling 2:43:23 42.32
Overall Total 6:35:53 65.43

In cross-training, only two days of pullups and one of pushups as I cut back in anticipation of the race. I averaged 150 total pushups and 25 pullups per session last week.

I only went to Yoga on Thursday this week as well, as I didn't want to strain anything prior to the race effort. I have been letting the Yoga and stretching go a bit, and need to be more diligent with doing this whether I go to a Yoga class or not. The Yoga is just too important in keeping me healthy to set it aside, and I'm starting to notice a difference after only a week....a negative one.

Time to do a "reset" on my training and goals now. Although I'll be running with my wife in a half-marathon at the end of April, it won't be a "race" for me since I'll be going considerably slower than I normally run even on my most casual training runs. I'm looking forward to just running healthy and for fun for a few weeks, then perhaps getting in on some 5K - 10K action later to see if I can move my legs a bit faster at this age. It has been a LONG time since I've run a race at either of those least 20 years, so it may be about time.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A2A Marathon Recap

Wow...what an interesting experience !  I honestly can't say that it was all that pleasant, but it was certainly a learning experience if nothing else. But I don't want to get ahead of myself.

I drove up from Dallas to Ardmore on Saturday and arrived at the very small "expo" they had in the Ardmore Convention Center about 2:30. There were no lines, and only a couple of booths selling various running related items. The vast majority of the runners entered in the race were either for the 5K or the Half-Marathon, so the Marathon table only required one volunteer. When I picked up my packet, I asked how many were signed up for the Marathon, and was told it was close to 150. This really WILL be a LOT smaller than Cowtown. (As it turned out, there were 139 Marathon finishers this year, along with 515 Half-Marathon finishers, and 682 5K finishers).

I checked into my hotel (which was about a half a mile away), and then grabbed the course map and drove the course. It starts on the top of hill just about a tenth of a mile from a little curio shop that overlooks Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains. You might think that it then would naturally be downhill from there, at least for a while, but such is not the case. It starts at 1109 feet and rises to 1229 in the first 1.6 miles. From there it goes down to 1186 feet at 2.4 miles, then up again to 1275 feet at 3.7 miles. So you will have climbed 209 feet inside the first four miles.

After that, there is a large downhill section going from 1275 feet to 934 feet at 6.1 miles, before it begins to do a slight rise to the turn off to the Bar Nothin' Horse Ranch. From here to the end of the course, it is mostly just rolling hills, although each up and down section is long...most sections being 1/2 mile either up or down.

I got a good night's sleep, and arrived at Noble Stadium early and got a great parking space. I had my normal pre-race breakfast about 4:00, and was well hydrated. It seemed that I was actually "over" hydrated to me, because I was hitting the port-a-potties pretty regular. After waiting a bit for things to get going, I walked over and got on one of the school buses that were there to take us from Nobel Stadium to the starting line. The bus left about 6:45, and took about 20 minutes to get to our destination. I had some good conversation with others who had run the course before, and the mood was light and fun.

When we arrived, I got off the bus like everyone else did to wait for the start. It was cloudy and 66 degrees, with a SW wind blowing at 15-25 mph, so it actually got pretty cool, pretty fast. Most were standing around looking cold and/or shivering. About 15 of us got back on the bus that was just idling there to sit, stay warm, and talk until about 10 minutes before the race. I used the restroom one more time, and got in line.

They started the run with a shotgun blast, and we were off. Even though the first part was uphill, I fell into a nice pace early on. Nothing particularly fast, just moving, with the first mile at 9:21, followed by a 9:17 and a 9:01. The wind was in my face and really blowing in these early miles. It didn't really feel like it was hindering me a lot, but I definitely felt it and was running "against" it. I had my fuel belt on as I normally do, with four 10 ounce bottles of Gatorade, GUs, electrolyte tablets, etc. My normal hydration plan has me drinking 3 - 5 ounces every couple of miles, with a GU at every 4 and an electrolyte tablet at every 6.

The first water stop was just past the 2 mile mark, and I took a cup of water and poured it on my head as I was starting to feel warm already, but not thirsty. Since I had been drinking (and peeing) nearly non-stop for hours, and didn't want to stop to pee throughout the course, I only took in about 2 - 3 ounces of Gatorade at the 2 mile point. At 2.4 I started to climb that next hill, and with the wind blowing in my face, it was tough. There was another water stop at 3.4, but I just poured some water on my head and kept going.  It was a welcome release to crest the hill at 3.7 miles and start on the long downhill. The wind was still in my face, but the downhill made up for that, and my next three miles were 9:11, 8:31, and 8:47. I had a GU at the 4 mile mark along with about 4 ounces of Gatorade, and poured water on my head at the water stop located at the 5 mile mark.

I felt really good at this point, although I already had to pee again which was annoying. Of course I had no idea that I had already run the race so wrong that I was going to be crashing very soon. The sun came out at about this point, and it felt noticeably warmer. I got to the bottom of the hill and started the short climb to the Bar Nothin' Horse Ranch at about the the 6.1 mile mark. There was a port-a-potty at 6.9 right outside the ranch, and I stopped there, peeing clear still. My left calf was starting to ache from the up and down hill pounding, so I took an Advil and made the turn into the ranch.

Within a quarter of a mile, it happened. Not only did I not see it coming, I never even realized what was occurring at the time. Upon reflection, it was almost certainly too late at that point to do something about it anyway, but it probably would have helped if I had known. All of the sudden, the race just got "hard". The wind was blowing across me at this point (not in my face, so no longer cooling me the way it was), and the smell of cow and horse manure was pretty strong at times. I noticeably slowed, confused as to why this was getting hard since I had been running comfortably and this wasn't even up a hill. I passed the water station at 7 and poured one on my head and drank about an ounce of water or less. I made the turn south again with the head wind at almost the 8 mile mark, where I took another GU, and about 7 ounces of Gatorade. I expected the GU and drink to give me a lift in a few minutes, which it normally does, but such was not the case this time. Just getting to the turn-around at the 9 mile mark felt like it was taking forever, and it was a real struggle to even hold my reduced pace. The temperature had now risen to about 72 degrees outside.

With the wind at my back, I headed back towards the exit to the ranch. Miles 7 - 9 were at 9:49, 9:39, and 9:44. At about 9.5, my upper back started to have light, rolling cramps, and I felt like every bit of energy just slowly drained out of me.

And then it hit me.

I was walking at 9.8.

I REALLY don't like to walk in a race, but there was simply no choice. I drank about 3 ounces of water at the aid station just shy of the 10 mile mark, and poured some on my head. I walked to 10.3 and started to run again, but had to start walking once again at 10.5. I just couldn't generate enough energy to keep going. My back was starting to cramp when I ran, the legs and hips felt like lead, and there was just nothing there. I poured some more water on my head at the water stop at 11 (if you're keeping up at home, you will note that I've drank less than 20 ounces of liquid at this point), and kept trying to run. I would make it about 30 to 50 yards at a time, then have to walk. The half mile hill out of the ranch was all walking.

I didn't feel particularly hot, and was never thirsty. I could NOT figure out what was wrong, and was just confused by the whole thing. Not mad or annoyed...just confused....with rolling back cramps and the beginning of a headache.  I would only come to the realization later, that I was experiencing Heat Exhaustion and dehydration. Just before the 12 mile mark, I noticed that I was starting to experience a bit of tunnel vision, and black spots were occasionally forming at the edge of my vision, so when I got to the water station I told them I was done and needed a ride. They offered me water, but I refused...I wasn't thirsty or hot.

My first DNF.    I was stunned and perplexed all at the same time.

The van came within a few minutes, and took me back to my car. I stopped by a Sonic and got a large drink for the road (a Route 44), and drove back to Dallas. It was only after I stopped half way home to get another large drink and got back on the road that the fogginess started to lift a bit. I wondered why I didn't need to go to the bathroom. By the time I got home and that drink too was gone, it started to hit me. A quick Google of the symptoms confirmed it, and I continued to rehydrate.

As the day went on, I continued drinking and the headache started to abate. I flushed my system out, and started to feel a bit more normal by the early evening.

Here is what it looked like "on paper"...

I had planned to run this race by feel, but the fact that I wasn't acclimated to doing long runs in this temperature range, meant that I didn't have the experience I needed to hydrate properly by feel. I was definitely out of my element and experience (at least recent experience). If I had it all to do over again, I would have literally stopped at every water station and drank a cup of water before continuing. I know I'm not a fan of walking these races, but I wouldn't have had to do that...just stopped and actually drank. Waiting until I was thirsty just didn't work, since that never happened.

I now have a MUCH better appreciation for running in heat that I'm not fully acclimated to, and how VERY different it is to run a marathon when the temperature is 68 to 72, as opposed to running one in the 48 to 55 degree range. Trust me, it makes a GREAT deal of difference (not to mention 3.7 initial miles of uphill...who mapped this out, Satan..?)

Even though there is definitely a part of me that is "less than proud" of the DNF, and I really wanted to do well (and didn't), I have to admit that I'm also finding that I'm pretty accepting of the result. Yes, my hydration plan completely sucked, and I did this to myself...FAIL on that front. But I also realize that once the damage was done (probably by mile 4 or 5), there was no way I could have just "gutted it out" and completed the race....this was not a test of will. It could and probably would have progressed to something much more serious had I continued even for a few more miles, so I'm glad I stopped when I did.

Other than my left calf being a bit tight this morning, I appear to not be any the worse for wear from my 12 mile run. Now I just need to ensure that this was not a wasted effort, and that I apply it as a learning experience going forward.

Even though I didn't finish the entire distance, I'll still be conservative coming back to training since I don't know what the effort and the dehydration / heat exhaustion, etc. might have strained that I'm not aware of. I want to not only learn from this, but come back healthy to what I love....

...just getting out on the road,....

...and RUNNING for the pure joy of it !

Happy Running Everyone !!!