Sunday, February 26, 2012

Go Faster

I took all I need, I don't need no more
So I'll take what I want, until I want some more
You can't stop or I will pass you
If you slow down I will out last you
But when you're down you won't find me laughing
And just one question I might ask you
But it might sound like a disaster
Can you make this thing go faster?

Excellent song by The Black Crowes, who are among the most underrated American rock bands of the 90's (perhaps because they didn't sound like anyone else in the 90's.) It is on my Running / Speed Rock playlist. I am in the process of putting together this list and putting a page for it on the blog.

After good runs last weekend, I didn't do anything at all Tuesday - Friday (again). There are good reasons for it, but I am still not thrilled about it. Went out yesterday and was pretty miserable overall for a 7 mile run. It was just cold, windy, wet and muddy and my energy level just was low for whatever reason. I didn't go too much slower than planned, but just felt kinda blah. Hoping for a better outing on Monday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Longest Run + Fastest Long Run = Good Weekend

Last week was a busy week. After running Monday, I had a planned rest day on Tuesday and then had a meeting Wednesday night and plans for Thursday night. Knowing that I planned to do a long run on Saturday, I made the decision not to run Friday, making for 4 days of inactivity. Sometimes it just doesn't workout to have time to workout.

Saturday arrived and I was ready to go! I checked the weather, geared up and headed out. What is going on? It isn't 35 degrees out like said! Not even close. Last I checked, water bottles don't freeze at 35. I should have known better, but it was windy and miserable. I headed out without gloves ('cause I thought it was 35) and my hands quickly turned bright pink and became sore, even before I started running. I could have went back home, but decided to tuck my hands into my sleeve and continued.

Bite Me Weather Channel

Once I got going, I felt pretty good, with legs that were fresh (and maybe a tad out of practice). I had a plan to run 7 - 12 miles and headed to my favorite road which features a great compacted dirt / sand / gravel mix. After I got warm and my hands stopped hurting, I decided that I was going to go far. Passing the point where I turned around the previous week, I decided to run at least a half marathon distance of 13.1 miles and finally turned around at nearly 7 miles, as I wanted to make sure I could make it home. I hit 13.1 and decided to keep going. 14 sounded like a nice round number and would be my longest run to-date, so I ran until I got there.

Took Sunday off and decided to run at Indian Springs Metropark at the 8 mile long hike / bike trail. The plan was to run 7+ miles at a 9:20 to 9:40 min/mi pace. 35 degrees actually meant 35 degrees today and the sun was a shinin'. It was great! This time, I bundled up a bit more, but the headband and gloves came off pretty quickly.

I started running way too fast. The first half mile was done a an 8 min/mi pace and would have been faster had I not purposely slowed. The rest of the first mile was too fast as well, but most of the rest of the run was done at about a 9:10 pace. This was a pretty comfortable pace - enough to work a bit but not too hard. At about mile 5 or so, I realized that I could finish with a 9 minute pace. I sped up a little until the last half-mile. This is a very uphill portion of the path, but I was able to do it just quickly enough to reach 7.5 miles at exactly a 9 minute/mile pace, according to my Garmin. It was the fastest pace I've ever run over 5 miles.

So, I had my longest run and my fastest long run all in one weekend. Yay! I think all this shows is that I am getting faster, stronger and better. My work is paying off, my training "plan" seems to be working, I am not hurting and I have had good runs for a few weeks.

What I need not to do is 1) not get down if I have any "off days" running in the near future 2) ever be completely satisfied and 3) get crazy in the head and set a kooky goal for the half-marathon next month. My 2 hour goal is reasonable and it should be achievable. What I don't want to do is to get it in my head that I am faster than I really am, go out too fast and fade in the 2nd half of a long race. I am still a long run novice and need to continue to train and to learn. (Yes, it ends up that there is a bit more too it than putting one foot in front of the other, though maybe not too much more. :)

How did your weekend go?

Do you ever get excited about how your training is going?

Should goals be set at an "ideal" or "realistic" level?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vallum Times Day

Ran 5k after a big run (11 miles) yesterday. Normally, I would rest after that, but I think it is getting important for me to sometimes run two or three days in a row. Need to get myself used to moving on tired legs, especially for long races. The legs don't feel as good, but they still work! No overuse, but I need to continue to teach myself perseverance. :)

I posted this on Watch MeGo Run as a response to her post about Valentine's Day and perseverance. Decided I would make it my blog post tonight. It isn't too mushy, but not in the normal character of this blog. Anyhow, here it is:

"Met my woman on a dial up BBS. If ya don't know what that is, it is basically a message board you connected to via modem. Only one person can call in at a time, leave messages, play "lemonade stand", etc. Anyhow, the owner of one of the BBS's, a high school librarian, said I should bug this girl, so that's what I did. It was a couple months before we even met, and even when we did, I wasn't sure it was a date date (I was a master, unfortunately for me, of having more girl friends than girlfriends).

I washed my hair twice, broke out my finest jean shirt (it was 1993 - don't judge me!), and picked her up. We saw Jurassic Park and then hit McDonalds (not much to do in Terre Haute, IN at night, especially when you're 19), then took her back to her college dorm (different school than mine). I decided to be bold (for once) and tried to give her a kiss. It worked out pretty well. We've been together for over 18 years, married for almost 12, have two great kids, and so on. Your (Megan's from WatchMeGoRun) lesson was perseverance, which is very important. In this story, my lesson is confidence. Stronger than you think, better than you know - that whole thing."

I know one of my readers is my lovely wife. Happy Valentine's Day Baby!

OK, that wasn't too bad. How to bring it back to running....hmmmmm..... I'm gonna make her proud when I kick some butt at the Rock CF Half Marathon in 6 weeks! Under 2 hours. Book it! Confidence. I has it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super 5k Pt. 2 - Lessons

My previous post had (way too much) detail about my 5k race. This one will go over things that I learned, things that I did right or wrong in my first race of the year. Races are important to me for several reasons. First, I like to compete. Kids play games and compete all the time, but the grownups don't get to do that nearly as much. Also, I tend to try my best during a race, where in training, that isn't always the goal. The "game" is always more fun than practice. Finally, races tend to tell me where I'm at. The good thing about running as compared to many other sports is that the clock gives you a pretty definitive picture of your performance. Courses may vary, but 5k on one road course is likely to be close to another.

I like this song and it is called Lessons, so here it is!

Here is what I did well for this race:

1. Rest - I didn't do much training in the couple days prior to the race (partially due to schedule and partially by choice). I could have done some treadmill work, but since I couldn't get out and really run, I opted to rest up. I also went to bed early and got some good sleep.

2. Pace - While I slowed a little bit as the race went on, I didn't shoot out of the gate too fast trying to keep up with people I simply cannot keep up with at this time. I stuck to my plan and it mostly worked out.

3. Garments - Since this is the first winter I've run, I've had some cold weather races where I didn't dress in an ideal manner. (This is part of the reason why Novemeber was a pretty down month for me). I think I've got it down now. I had a wicking short sleeve shirt and a wicking long sleeve shirt on to start. I went out and the wind was blowing right through me so I added a thin long sleeve shirt on top. It was perfect. I used to try to be "macho" and go shorts only, but now that I have sport pants that I have gotten used to run in, I don't feel pressure to go bare legged.

4. Training - I have gotten a lot of work in the past month or so and am in pretty good shape and in good health. Sure, there is a ache here or a pain there, but no injuries.

Here's what I need work on:

1. Training- Wait, you said you did this well. I did! But I also need to work on it. Particularly, I need to have more sessions where I run faster. Interval training, tempo runs, I need to do more. You need to train fast to go fast and I didn't train fast enough. I've tried to do this a little on the treadmill, but I think it will get easier as the days get longer and I can get outside in the mornings or afternoon.

2. Core strength - This goes along with training but deserves its own mention. My core is not nearly strong enough and is a big weakness for me when racing. I need to make myself do more to build my midsection up, but the thing is, I like doing that type of exercise. I must make myself do it though, or I will likely never reach my potential.

3. Warmup - I have an issue warming up on race day. Walking for 3 minutes and running for about 30 seconds (as I did Sunday) doesn't cut it, especially when it is below freezing. I don't know that I'll ever find an ideal method to warm up when you need to stand in what is basically a big waiting line for 10 minutes or more waiting for the race to start, but I need to do better. My legs were not ready to move when the race started.

Other race thoughts:

1. My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11 shoes are far superior to my Sears-bought New Balance shoes. More cushioning, more comfortable and I got "fit" for them, so they are the right type of shoe for me.
2. I missed my cheering section. I don't know if I they "help" me, but I like when my family comes to the races *except when I need to deal with trying to keep them happy - Daddy's working! :)
3. Giving away glasses at the end of a race may not be the best idea. I heard several glasses drop followed by a loud "OHHHHHHHHHH!" from the crowd each time.
4. I'll cheer others on when I'm done. Unless I know you, especially if you're beating me, I'm not going to be supportive.
5. The number of pre-teens and senior citizens beating me at these big races is down to a handful. I would like this to be as close to zero as possible.

I learned all that from a 5k race and seem to learn something from every race. Hopefully, I'll retain this info and actually use some of it for next time.


Went to Indian Springs with the lil' woman (she needs a good blog name) and did a 7.5 mile recovery run today. I was very proud of her for walking over 3 miles. I don't know that I'll ever be able to convert her into being a runner, but I'd be happy with her being a regular walker. She's been doing a great job lately.

As for me, my legs were pretty sore from the race yesterday, but I needed to get a longish run in. It was harder that it normally would be, mostly because of the sore legs. I didn't go fast, but ended up just a little quicker than planned, just under 10 min/mi.

What have you learned from recent races?

Any tips for warming up before a race?

Any other events to share?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super 5k recap Pt. 1- Super, thanks for asking!

This morning I ran my first race of the year, the Super 5k in Novi. While this is race has been going on for several years, this is the first time I've been running in the winter and therefore the first time I participated.

Knowing that this was a "big" race, with over 1800 participants, I picked up my race bib and shirt (a nice but thin, long sleeve Mizuno wicking shirt) on Saturday. We decided to drive part of the course to preview what was ahead. It had a couple hills I wasn't expecting on 11 Mile Road, so I was glad that we checked things out. I went to bed early Saturday night and got a decent night's sleep. Because I didn't need to stand in line, I was able to show up about 30 - 40 minutes before race time.

I did a very short warmup and made some clothing decisions based on the weather (about 30F and sunny). Added a thin long sleeve, ditched the gloves and jacket, went with the headband. About 10 minutes prior, I made my way to the starting line where I lined up at the end of the chute with a group that looked to be at a similar speed as me. We waited as we tried to listen to the announcer (this seems to be a weakness at nearly every race - WE CAN'T HEAR YOU!) and since people started moving, we assumed that the race was on.

It was a little crowded at first and, as usual, you need to dodge people who can't keep pace at the start of a race. There is no problem with being less than speedy at all, but people who run 12 minute miles shouldn't be up with the 6 minute milers. It seems like you need to spend extra energy dodging the slower traffic so you don't get behind them and possibly fall into their pace.

The race seemed to go by pretty fast. The first mile was a blur, but I was right at the pace I wanted to be at. We headed forward to the hilly portion of the route where we saw the leaders of the race pass going the opposite direction. I was hoping to be close to the turnaround but it would be about a half mile before reaching it. (Those guys were pretty fast. Some of the runners near me were shouting encouragement to the leaders, but I would do no such thing. I'll give a nod or thumbs up if appropriate, but I'm still competing and have no interest in being a cheerleader during a race. Those guys near the front of the race weren't cheering anyone on, they had business to take care of.) We reached the turnaround and, perhaps for the first time ever, I had zero interest in getting a drink.

Going back, the hills felt a little more substantial and I apparently slowed a little. My Garmin beeps every half mile with a "lap time" and from 2 - 2.5 miles, I was up over an 8 min/mi pace. I thought I picked it up a bit, but the next half mile was almost identical as we approached the finish. I definitely picked it up making the final turn to the finish and I new I was very close to my 24 minute goal. I crossed the finish, grabbed my "finisher's glass" (shown above filled with chocolate milk now, beer later) and kinda stumbled to my car, wondering if I hit my goal. The worst thing about running in the cold is sucking in all that cold air which leaves your airway numb.

Got some good food inside after the race and waited for the results. For some reason, they can only print one copy of results that almost everyone wants to see, so there was a cluster of people trying to check it out. I saw where I thought I finished and squinted for several minutes until I found my result - 24:03.9. It seems like I'm always off by a couple seconds! I was satisfied with how I ran and set a PR by over 30 seconds. Can't ask for much more for the first race of the year in the winter! Erika of "This Spartan Will" was there, though I didn't get to meet her. Congrats on her 2nd place finish in her age group, which I might have gotten to hear if the PA was loud enough (WE STILL CAN'T HEAR YOU).

Next post will cover some things I learned during this race (one of the good things about races is that they almost always indicate something about how you trained, how you warmed up, what you ate, so that you can improve for the next time). Have fun watching the game!