Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Patriot Half Marathon, PR, and Good Training Week

Welcome everyone ! This week (May 20 - 26, 2012) was a pleasant week, although it is beginning to get a bit on the warm side out there. I did have a good week of running though, and I think the build-up to my latest half-marathon went well.

The soreness / stiffness in my knees that I was feeling last week has persisted throughout this week when I've run a few days in a row. Once again, I either inserted some rest days or did some cycling, and that seems to help. I'll just play it by ear and see how things go. It doesn't really feel like an impending injury, just like I might be getting close to my body's limit at this point.

On Sunday, May 28th, I ran in the Patriot Half Marathon in Rockwall, Texas, and had a fun time doing so. The race started promptly at 7:45, with about a thousand runners signed up for the half. There were spotty clouds out during the race, and although there was a relatively clear sky at the beginning for the start, there were just enough clouds passing by to cut down on the sunshine during the race (at least the first 90 minutes or so). They had given different people in the race either a red, white, or blue balloon just prior to the start, and as they sang the National Anthem, the people would one at a time or in pairs let go of them. It was actually pretty neat to see.

The starting temperature was 72 degrees, with a SE wind gusting from 10 to 25 mph, and humidity at 83%. Two hours later it was 78 degrees, same wind, and the humidity was at 68%. This race was the first one I've run that had the "chip" on the back of the bib itself, with square antenna's setup at the start, finish, and mid-course check point to read the bib. I would still rather have the shoe tags myself, but I suppose it worked OK. I did notice though that my result were not in the initial results posted...mine were in the backup they made (as were many others), so I suspect it isn't as fool-proof as the shoe tags.

I started pretty near the back of the pack for this race, and just eased into the race. Although there was quite a bit of sidewalk running in the early miles (probably up to mile 4...not exclusively, but largely), the sidewalks were even, with no overhanging trees, and were wide enough to run three to four abreast. I was able to weave through the crowds, passing single runners and small groups at a time quite easily.

We ran through a couple of parks, and along a nice green belt as well. From there we turned onto a highway that was completely blocked off (very nice...thank you for that), that had rolling hills. Miles 6 and 7 were largely downhill which was nice, and the mid-course checkpoint was at the 10K mark. The turn-around was right at Mile 7, and at 7.2 a large hill started.

At this point we had the wind in our faces, which was both good and bad. Good, because it served to cool you off a bit. Bad, because in addition to the hills on the way back, the headwind was a bit stiff at times. From 7.2 to 7.6 we climbed almost 60 feet, then between 7.6 and 9.2 we climbed another 55 feet. From 9.2 to 10.3 it dropped about 55 feet with two hills in between, then from 10.3 to 12.5 it climbed another 75 feet. Altogether, there was 621 feet of climbing during the run. It just seemed like the uphill sections kept coming, so that did add to the toughness.

I did manage to have some pretty good splits though, and set a new official PR of 1:54:18, which is 3:17 better than my previous PR at this distance. My splits looked like this:

Mile   Average Pace Per Mile  
1 8:48
2 8:49
3 8:49
4 8:54
5 8:46
6 8:24
7 8:25
8 8:53
9 8:56
10 8:39
11 8:39
12 8:46
13 8:25
Last 0.14 miles 7:31

For a warm weather run (at least warmer than it has been in a while), I was quite pleased with the result. I really focused on hydrating much better than my last "warmer than normal" effort, both early and often, and I feel like I managed to do relatively well this time. It is amazing to me how much it just saps and zapps me when I fail to hydrate properly...it just sucks out my will to put forth any effort at all when it hits, and will hit without warning. I'll be feeling fine, then wham...I'm out. But that didn't happen during this run. :-)

In the end, there were 738 half-marathon finishers, and I placed 110th. In my age group (a 10 year age group for this one from 50-59), I placed 13th out of 49 finishers. The course was challenging but fun, the traffic control was excellent, and there were LOTS of water stations along the way (at least 11 or 12) with water, Power-Aid, and wet towels. Definitely one I would consider doing again. There was also a nice medal handed out the finishers. Great race !!!

Here is what my training for last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 6.65 141 165
Monday Running 6.52 141 153
Tuesday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Wednesday Running 6.60 155 178
Thursday Running 7.07 153 187
Friday Cycling 20.58 105 134
Saturday Running 5.50 163 179
Walking 0.90 142 154

 These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 4:37:02 32.34
Walking 0:12:32 0.90
Cycling 1:27:14 20.58
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 6:16:48 53:82

Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Pullups 10 7 2:30
Monday Rest Day --- --- ---
Tuesday Dips 5 10 2:30
Wednesday Pullups 10 5 2:00
Thursday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Pushups 13 10 0:45

I started back with the pushups once I completed this month's challenge with the dips. I don't know which one's I actually prefer, so a mix of those two will probably be on the schedule moving forward.

I read an article earlier today about rest periods between sets, and I believe that I'll be increasing my rest periods based upon that (along with a corresponding increase in reps per set). It seems that rest periods between 30 and 60 seconds gear one toward fat burning. Rest periods between 1 and 2 minutes is geared largely towards hypertrophy (building up bulk), and rest periods from 3 to 5 minutes are more geared toward strength training. Since building up my core strength is actually what I have in mind, it seems that going in that direction might produce better results.

Another major FAIL on abdominal-specific work during this week....it just never seems like I "want" to do it. Perhaps June's challenge of 100 situps a week (or an overall total of 400 situps for the month) will spur me on to doing what I KNOW is the right thing. Let's hope so. The last thing I need is back problems because my core is weaker than it should be.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fun Runs and Floating

Welcome everyone ! This week (May 13 - 19, 2012) was a nice one overall, with some fun and interesting happenings. I had a nice 12 mile "short" long run on Sunday to start off the week. I did a few courses during the week for my morning runs that I don't normally do (I usually stay pretty much inside my neighborhood since its usually dark out).

I have noticed a bit of soreness / stiffness in my knees on a few of the runs, so I inserted some rest days / cross-training to mix it up. I can't tell if it is just a natural adjustment to the increase in miles I've been putting in over the last several weeks, or if it is something else entirely, but I'm trying to err on the side of being conservative and giving myself time to recover. I love being out and about so much, I really have to "work" at the days when I choose to do nothing at all, reminding myself that rest is an active part of the plan.

Saturday morning there was a Fun Run / 5K at my son's school, and the entire family signed up to run. Aiden and I ran the Fun Run, which was supposed to be a mile and wound up being about 0.83 miles (close enough). It was Aiden's first road race (he turned six in October), so he was excited to do it. He is pretty used to hearing me talk about running (and Mom too), so he was pretty convinced that he too could run several miles with no problem. Well, at least he started with confidence. ;-) We did a sort of run a while / walk a while for the run, and I'm pretty sure he had an fun time. My wife ran the 5K afterwards, and even though it was a bit on the warm side, she still placed 4th in her age group, so she was pretty happy about that. All in all, it was a fun morning.

The little toe that I sliced open last Wednesday is certainly proving to be stubborn as far as healing over is concerned. Given the location of the wound, it gets aggravated by the runs I suppose. It still stings a good bit at the beginning of most runs (and at the end of some)...I'm REALLY looking forward to that healing over !

I did have one of those surreal running moments on Friday morning that was sort of cool. While I was running along a particularly dark part, I started to notice that moving along seemed to be taking almost no effort at all....except I didn't actually seem to be moving along the road. For all the world it felt like I was moving my body, but just floating in one place. Sort of spacey, but at least it made the otherwise pleasant but uneventful morning run something a bit interesting.

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 12.39 139 153
Monday Rest ---- --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.51 149 165
Wednesday Walking 4.26 --- ---
Thursday Running 6.27 144 156
Friday Running 6.56 141 156
Saturday Cycling 20.58 120 146
Running 0.83 --- ---

 These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 4:47:04 32.56
Walking 0:59:10 4.26
Cycling 1:18:45 20.58
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 7:04:59 57:40

Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Rest Day --- --- ---
Monday Rest Day --- --- ---
Tuesday Pullups 6 8 3:00
Wednesday Dips 7 10 2:30
Thursday Dips 4 10 2:00
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Pullups / Dips Alternating 5 / 5 5 / 10 2:00

I continued to mix up the sets and reps for the pullups and dips this week, and added a bit of abdominal work, although I'll need to step that up quite a bit. In the coming week I'm going to start working pushups back into the mix.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Metal Weather Stripping and Dips

This week (May 6-12, 2012) seemed to be much more calm, and most everything went according to the loose plans I had for the week. Of course, it wasn't without incident entirely. On Wednesday evening I was running around the house taking care of various things, and the dog needed to go out (or that was the signal I was being sent). I went to the back door, and opened it (the door opens inward), the dog blocked my path to opening the storm door to the outside so I shifted to get on the other side around her.  And that's when it happened.
At the bottom of the big door is a small metal arch of sorts that is meant to act as a rain shield (I think it is called Brass Weatherstripping). That thing is SHARP on the bottom edges, and it sliced quite a few layers of skin off the top of my little toe on the right foot. It bled like you wouldn't believe, and was pretty sore for an hour or so afterwards.

For Thursday morning's run, I put a band-aid on it (not much will fit due to the small size of the area) and started out the door. It was stinging a good bit right from the start, although it stopped at about 1/4 mile in and didn't bother me during the run after that.

When I got home and took the shoe off, the entire right side of the sock was bright red with blood, which "looked" rough, but apparently the toe had stopped bleeding. Socks wash, so no real damage done there. I dispensed with the bandage on Saturday, and the run went well...it was just a bit sore after the run but not much. Hopefully it will heal up in the next day or so. It is in a challenged area for me to protect it, as that toe just naturally folds into the other one, and there is a lot of contact on the outside and top of the toe in the shoe. It's always something.

With the long run on Sunday, which was a nice success, this turned out to once again top my record for weekly training mileage, so I moved that line from last week's 38.46 miles to a new high of ..... 
! 41.72 !  

Next week will be a bit of a "step back" week, at least according to my plan. This will set me up for another long run on Sunday of the following week (the 20th), as I try to reduce the intimidation factor of long runs, and build up some foundational long run strength.

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 16.04 150 170
Monday Walking 4.26 --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.54 143 156
Wednesday Running 6.04 150 169
Thursday Running 6.57 141 153
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Running 6.53 146 162

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 6:03:24 41.72
Walking 0:59:35 4.26
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 7:02:59 45.98

During this week I got a "bit" better doing the Dips, I just have to dial in the right recover period for me at this point. On Wednesday I tried a  two minute recovery with 10 reps per set, but was then unable to complete the last set of 10. On Saturday I adjusted this to 2.5 minutes, and was able to get 6 full sets of 10. Since this works the same basic muscles as the pushups, and it is a bit intense for me at this point, I've set the pushups aside for a week or two.

I've also REALLY got to get back to doing some abdominal work...I've been skipping that, and I'm bad about doing that. I nearly always feel better about myself when I include it, so I just need to make that happen this week.

Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Rest Day --- --- ---
Monday Dips 5 10 3:00
Tuesday Pullups 20 5 2:00
Wednesday Dips 1 10-10-10-10-5 2:00
Thursday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Dips 6 10 2:30

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: April 29 - May 5, 2012

While this was a really good week in many respects, it was also a weird week. Since I started back from fat and out of shape almost a year ago, I've tracked all the activities I've done in a spreadsheet (for me, that's just part of the fun :-)). For the prior 49 weeks, I have ALWAYS engaged in at least 2 different forms of exercise during my Sunday - Saturday weeks. But not this last week...it was exclusively running. No, it's not my new direction or anything...I suspect it just worked out that way by accident.

On Sunday I was in Oklahoma City with my wife to run her first Half Marathon, and that was a lot of fun. It was interesting to be around that many people out running (easily in excess of 20,000 people), and one of the rare times I actually get to run with my wife. Our schedules and habits (not to mention the 6 year old at home) tend to separate us from working out at the same time, especially since we have no immediate family in the area, so this was a treat. I just stayed with her at her own pace, and was there for moral support and company. It made the whole run a pleasant experience, and I hope to be able to do it again soon. She didn't accomplish everything she wanted to with the effort, but she did finish in a pretty decent time (I believe it was 2:24:35), and was in the upper 31% of all the women in her age group, the upper 39% of ALL the women in the race, and the upper 49% of ALL the finishers regardless of age or gender, so I think she did fine.

Even though this wasn't a major physical effort for me, my body still wanted the day off afterwards, as the knees and ankles felt a bit creaky. As such, I didn't substitute any other activity, but just let my body catch up. After three 6 milers in a row in the middle of the week, things once again felt a bit strained, so I took Friday off and didn't substitute anything else on that day either.

Saturday morning's run after that rest was a real surprise, and nothing short of amazing to me. I went on a new out-and-back route out of my neighborhood, and was quite surprised at mile 4 to hear RunKeeper say that I was averaging 8:23 per mile up to that point. It really didn't feel hard at all, just flowing along. That sort of acted like an encouragement to finish it off well, so I started to pick up the pace, really pushing (although not all out) in the final mile. I surprised myself by completing the 6.07 mile run in 50:05 at an 8:15 pace...the fastest pace I've run at that distance in decades.

As a bonus to that, Saturday's run also put me at a new weekly training mileage high of 38.46 miles ! :-)

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 13.34 --- ---
Monday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.24 158 225
Wednesday Running 6.68 140 154
Thursday Running 6.13 141 163
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Running 6.07 147 167

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 6:01:14 38.46
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 6:01:14 38.46
Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Rest Day --- --- ---
Monday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Tuesday Dips 5 5 3:00
Pushups 2 20 1:00
Wednesday Pullups 4 10 3:00
Thursday Dips 3 10 3:00
Friday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Saturday Pullups 20 5 2:00

The introduction of full body weight Dips meant that I eased back (more like almost completely off) of the pushups. I have a power rack in the garage that I primarily use for my pullups, but I also have some dipping handle attachments. So, although this video HERE shows someone doing them with a set of dipping handles attached to a wall, it does demonstrate the form I'm using while doing them for this month's 100X challenge. I've found that they are working my chest and shoulders as much as my arms due to the need to balance as well as to get down to the bottom of the movement where the upper arms are parallel to the floor. It had been a while since I've done them (once again...many years), so it is taking a while to get in the groove.

I have a marathon that I'm considering that occurs in early - mid October, and although I haven't actually made the commitment yet (not signed up), I do plan to start to slowly steer my training in that general direction. At that time of year, there will still be a REALLY good chance of the temperatures starting in the 70's and progressing into the 80's towards the end, so I plan on using the Texas summer to properly acclimate myself to running longer distances in the heat. Since I haven't completed a run longer than about 13.5 miles since the marathon at the end of February, I plan on doing one on Sunday to start to get back in the groove.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: April 22 - April 28, 2012

This was a pretty good week of running overall. I did have some pain issues with the top of my left ankle where it attaches to the foot on Wednesday. It would grow increasingly painful over the course of 5 or 6 strides, then ease off back to a painless state in 3 or 4 strides. During Wednesday's run, that occurred like clockwork every mile. I took Thursday off, and on Friday it only happened twice on the run. I also did a half-marathon on Sunday where it only happened once. I believe that the tendon there was being aggravated by the shoe lacing constricting it somewhat (although who knows why it is just now happening after all these months of running). I've adjusted that lacing, and it seems to be getting better each day.

Personally, I just think its my body messing with me. Its sort of a sick game, where it causes an injury to occur in an area that has been previously unscathed, then when that resolves it moves on to yet another area. Such fun.

I also topped off the month of April with a lifetime personal best, with my highest monthly training mileage finishing out at 129.6 miles. Not a great deal by the standards of many, but it is significantly higher than my previous best ever (116.6 miles, more than 25 years ago, right before I was hit by the car), and my personal best since my comeback from being overweight and out of shape (114.08 miles in February). I attribute this largely to just being healthy and not having any long runs or hard efforts that required down days for recuperation. In fact, all of my April runs were less than 14 miles, so it was mainly just having the opportunity to be more consistent. At any rate, it is nice to be able to just run and enjoy it more regularly.

 Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Cycling 21.16 122 143
Running 3.21 138 169
Monday Running 6.28 144 163
Walking 2.30 --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.21 153 224
Wednesday Running 6.12 157 197
Thursday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Friday Running 6.64 145 185
Saturday Rest Day ---- --- ---

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 4:09:42 28.46
Walking 0:34:15 2.30
Cycling 1:22:17 21.16
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 6:06:14 51.92

I didn't do a great deal of cross-training during this week. I had one day of pushups where I did 25 sets of 10 with a 45 second rest interval, and two days of pullups [one where I did 6 sets of 10 with a 5 minute rest interval, and one where I did 3 sets of 10 with a 3 minute rest interval].

Other than that, it was sort of a "cross training down week" for me, so I'll need to get back on the wagon next week. The 100x challenge this month is 400 dips, so that will add some variety into the mix. Perhaps I can alternate pushup days with dip days.

Happy Running Everyone !!!