IRC Summer Series – race #3

•Jul 9, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The Interurban Runners Club here in the valley put on a short distance series every summer. The first two coincided with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (5k only) and the third runs this evening (5k and 8k options)… with a cool BBQ afterwards for everyone!

The series has been an interesting additional way to measure the benefits of my participation in the VO2 testing and training program. Between race 1 and 2, with the benefit of the various interval training/speedwork, I managed to slice almost a minuter from my previous time and run the 5k in under 21 minutes (20:58) for the first time ever.

I had hoped to build on that and maybe improve just a little bit more this week… Imagine how annoyed I have been as I nurse my right foot back to full strength this past 2 weeks. I broke/cracked something while clambering up through the undergrowth at the farm fence (retracing the steps of my bike burglar). It’s certainly healing very well but I know the sensible thing has been to go easy and not race tonight. I still plan to run, but perhaps the 8k, and will probably pace one or two of the slower folks in our Balanced Athlete group – see if we can help them break a barrier of their own.

Besides, the weather is gorgeous so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to hang out with friends and and at least enjoy the BBQ and sunshine down at Three Friends park on the river…


I’m no detective but Philip Marlowe coudn’t run

•Jul 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

Originally I was going to give myself a week off running following the Anchorage marathon. Sort of rest the muscles and joints before ramping up again in preparation for Erie, PA in September. But, ahhhhhhh I felt so good last week I just had to run on Tuesday. Problem was I had hurt my right foot that day – more than I realized.

I had been playing “detective” around the farmhouse because in the middle of the night some weirdo was prowling here and stole my bike. There goes $350, I thought… When I discovered their entry path in the undergrowth on the slope down to the road, I tried it out to see if they had dropped anything else. Lost my footing on some rocks and twisted my ankle.

Later, at mile 3 of a 6 mile run with the other Balanced Athlete crowd, I discovered a rapidly increasing pain around my little toe. next morning it was pretty painful, it was blue/purple, pink and very swollen. Hmmmm, I must have broken something, so here we are a week later and I’ve been off my feet (what a good boy am I). This of course meant that I couldn’t run in the Seafair event in Bellevue on Sunday, so I was chief carpooler, bag watcher, and photographer. A good excuse to goof off and cheer the others along.

The bike? Wouldn’t you know it, but the guy posted it on Craigslist only a couple of days later. After a quick phone call to arrange an appointment, me and Erik drove up to the (nearby) apartment complex where it was obviously my old bike – I got a ood enough test ride that I confirmed the serial number too. “Gotta go to the ATM for some $$$, pal”… Called Kent’s finest on 911… The rest played out like a classic episode of “COPS”… red dots from their tasers and everything :-)

So that was my toe-breaking, non-running, private-eyeing, bike-recovering, post-marathon week that was… Now, where was I? Ahh yes, it’s Tuesday and almost time to head down to the store for another sunny evening run.

Midnight sun run and a sore butt

•Jun 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Finally I reach the milestone of 10 US states and it was a great experience. The Mayor’s marathon in Alaska. Sunny Anchorage actually – even sunny welllllll into the late evening. Made getting to sleep a little weird on Friday night with the light streaming in around the drapes…

It was more of whistle stop trip than anything… An early morning Friday flight from Seattle, race on Saturday and then a red-eye return on Sunday.

A little drizzle in the race’s first hour kept us all cool to start and it was just overcast when we hit the trail section (do I remember correctly it was at mile 8?). It was a surprise to be on a wide, sweeping graded rock/gravel road – going up and down through the Army reservation (seemed to be more up than down). It wasn’t so steady underfoot, but I tried to keep up a good pace. That morphed into a section of single-track forest trails – complete with mud puddles. Oh joy!

By the time we returned to paved surfaces I was only off by less than 4 minutes for a 3:30:00 pace. Then it was a long downhill towards Anchorage. By mile 20 I could feel it in my legs after 6 of those miles. By 23 my butt cheeks were aching from the use of all the “stabilizing” they had been asked to do on the rocky trail roads.

In the end I finished in the 3:45 timeframe – very happy to be done but feeling surprisingly fresh. All the cardio training (Metabolic/VO2 testing and training) left me with lots of energy to spare, but the tiredness was in my calves and glutes… I suspect from lack of attention to my carb loading last week as well as that trail segment… Gotta work on that nutrition discipline some more.

OK, with 10 US states officially done, I can join the 50 state club as some kind of “associate”… Next up? Pennsylvania in September and I’ll probably round out the year with Las Vegas.

Are you coming too? (you know who you are, LOL)

What to do this year

•Mar 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

In 2007 I managed to run 4 marathons. Not a lot by some folks’ standards (especially the “marathon maniacs”) but as well as eventually getting all 50 states, I’d like to run them all with a decent time. I think if I can do them “sub-4 hour” I will be happy.

Picking up the calf strain in January was frustrating, but I’m glad I didn’t have a Spring race that would have been impacted, or an airline ticket that would have gone to waste. So lots of slow training to (re)consolidate that aerobic base and a first marathon of the year pushed back to June (Mayor’s Midnight Run in Anchorage).

By June I will have had another opportunity to “tweak” my training with the Metabolic Testing folks from Kirkland. If it shows some good trends by then I think I’ll keep doing it through the summer to help me peak (based more on measurement than feeling) as I head to September’s race in Pennsylvania. The Erie marathon at Presque Isles is billed as a nice flat course with some PRs associated with it. Late enough in the season to give me plenty of time to put the injury behind me and fully prepare. Still shooting for another PR, even though I’ve now crossed into an older age bracket. Hmmmm… maybe BECAUSE I’ve now crossed into an older age bracket.

Old Shoes, Injury Progress

•Mar 25, 2008 • 1 Comment

Been a while since I blogged here. My absence can be blamed partly on “post-Tucson lethargy” and/or new year muscle strain and/or a flu that laid me out for a few weeks (worst in at east 5 years) – and just being busy…

I went through 4 pairs of Asics Kayanos last year, running over 1500 miles and 4 marathons. Now I usually “retire” a pair of shoes at about 300 miles but got all cheap (don’t know why as I had plenty of $$ for new shoes) and since I re-checked all 4 pairs had clocked way over 400. I even ran the Az marathon in one of them. No surprise then that in one of my first runs after the Tucson trip I pulled my right calf muscle probaby in part due to the shoes essentially being worn out. Stupid of me.

Yes, I rested. I did ice it. Took the ibuprofen. Of course I compounded it by hitting the treadmill within a week or so and really blew it out. I really HATED not being able to run for 3 weeks after that! So it has been slow, slow, slow, slow, slow…

Slow and steady has worked out pretty well though. A few of us at The Balanced Athlete submitted to the full metabolic testing from Lakeside Fitness. The whole “breathing mask on the treadmill for 15 minutes” thing. They don’t just figure your VO2Max (55.3 for me) but based on both the results and your individual goals, they develop a tailored training plan to elevate the various indicators over a 6-8 week period.

Sticking as closely to the schedule as possible, I’m running longer distances/times at much reduced speeds/heartrates. With that crappy fu thing right after testing the real start was somewhat delayed. However, now we’re on week 3 and the effects are beginning to feel beneficial. A side benefit is that I am running at a pace which promotes injury recovery. The main plan is to raise the aerobic/anerobic threshold which will allow me to run faster at a given HR and stay in a fat-burning mode.

Re-testing for us all will be at the end of April… wait and see.

Murphy’s Law… Tucson Marathon Style

•Dec 4, 2007 • 6 Comments

If you’ve run many races and especially marathons you’ll know that it’s extremely rare for everything to come together just right on race day for that perfect experience and PR. Well no, I didn’t run a PR in the Tucson Marathon on Sunday although I was pleased with my 3:36:05 considering the second half heat and screaming quads after 26 miles of constant downhill.

So who’s this Murphy character ? For the uninitiated, his “law” reminds us that if something can possibly go wrong… it will!

On Saturday evening it became unclear whether the transportation was going to work. “Although there’s a bus to take our hotel’s guests up to the start at 5am, will there be one to bring us back from the finish ? Your info pack doesn’t say…” Sorry sir, I just don’t know, they replied. So there I was navigating the Oracle Road at 5am in the desert dark – muttering and fretting in case I was missing the turn to park

Portable toilet areas in the minutes before the start can be frantic places. All was going well until I stood up to hitch my shorts drawstring. “Twang!!! Aaaaarrrrrggghhhh!!!” The first noise was the elastic of my Heart Rate Monitor coming loose. The second was me realizing I was going to have to fish the HRM out of the primordial soup of the toilet… Luckily I had bought one of those lightweight, throw-away rain jackets at the expo so it was pressed into service to protect my fingers during the” recovery phase” and subsequent cleanup – under the running water at the start-area water cooler.

OK… back on track with a few minutes to gun time… phew! Ditched the disposable jacket in the garbage and dropped the clothing bag on the appropriate bus. Smiling again as I approached the start area I wonder to myself how clear everything looks at this altitude. “That’s because you’re still wearing your glasses you idiot!” Run back to the bus hoping the guy can get them into my bag (but knowing it’s a long shot). Yup, you guessed it… they were not there at the finish.

Oh how my CG laughed at the story and I had to admit it was one of those weird, wonderful experiences that actually make it all worthwhile. Eric often says it’s supposed to be about having fun, and it was – fun and funny! We muddled through the next couple of days (and nights) with me in my prescription sunglasses, singing “I wear my sunglasses at night!”.

OK, that’s 9 states down… 41 to go.

Up the trail and down Scenic Hill

•Nov 20, 2007 • 1 Comment

I almost wrote something like “Last long run before Tucson” but decided that such a tired running blog title was, well… just too tired. So what if it was the last long run before my next marathon. What did you do, John ? Where did you go ? Did anything interesting happen ? Was it just another Balanced Athlete run around the golf course on Sunday ?

Eric knew I wanted to get about 18 miles in so the plan was to do 2 sets. A first loop up onto Kent’s East Hill and back to the store for an 8-miler(ish) run. Then anyone who wanted to could join us for another 7 or 8 masochistic miles :-) Fourteen of us went South along the river at about 9min/mile to the bottom of the 277th St hill-climb. It rises a few hundred feet in 1.1 miles and I felt sure that many folk would have rested along the way if they had been out on a Sunday Solo but, being part of a group, everyone made it – running.

Down, down, down Scenic Hill as it skirts Canyon/Earthworks Park (shouting as we passed Paul B’s place to wake him) and back through town to the store. After 9.5 miles only Eric and I were crazy enough to want more so we took off North on the Interurban Trail for a fast out-n-back 6 miles. A slow one (8:30) to begin, 4 at 7:30 and the last we pushed it to 7:00/mile. Exhilarating to realize that I could run a 42-44 minute 10K after a 10 mile hill-climbing work out. Yes, I’m happy that I’m ready for Tucson.

Was it just another Balanced Athlete Sunday run ? No, it was a remarkable run for a number of reasons.

  • The group runs have been getting larger, busier and noisier – Sunday saw our best group in ages with over a dozen people smiling and eager to start at 8am.
  • It was so good to see people there ranging from original runners to the new faces
  • On the run so many little groups forming, changing and re-forming making it a great social event too
  • A number of people commenting how far they have come in running and fitness in only one short summer