Archive for October, 2009

Boy it hurt, but it hurt so good.


4 X 400 Z2 (10 sec rest) at avg 7:05 minute mile pace (target 7),
5 X 400 Z3 (20 sec rest) at avg 6:15 pace (target 6:15), and
6 X 400 Z4 (30 sec rest) at avg 6:00 pace (target 5:50).

The faster people were glad to see me come out and play. Led them most of the way until the second Z4, and then I was content with tucking in until the finish. In the last Z4, I did a celebration run and let them go 50 feet ahead which wasn’t too bad overall. I was consistently under the rest times in-between. I totally nailed this workout. Which isn’t often.


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I tweaked my neck somehow.  For days on end, the muscles around my left shoulder blade and my neck threatened to keep me immobile.  I was wondering if this was going to be my undoing.  Work piles up to the point where sports training get less and less, and then the body starts to turn to mush.  Wow, was I ever an athlete?

I found myself going to a class tonight.  Just one hour, but long enough to draw off the excess energy from others and get focused by their aspirations.  I’m reminded that my skills are also used by others to measure theirs.  I’m reminded that my advice is sought actively in some areas.  My coaches remind me that if I were willing–we could pursue a path less traveled and push my talent where it can fly.

I laugh, I smile, and observe.  I wonder how someone can hold such perfect form.  My unfortunate approximations pale by comparison, but my coach tells us it’s amazing what a few classes have done for us.  I think I know what he means.  I’m sure he was making a comment about that someone’s perfect form.  Ha ha.

I see others with fully-formed pictures about their athletic capabilities.  Some are talented, but untrained.  Some are talented and trained, but have chosen not to compete.  Many would like to shed their bodies and put on the form of their coaches physique–maybe impossible, but they try.  Different motivations, different lives, similar goals.

When you train with others, you can get a sense of your talents and capabilities.   Even as a marathoner, I find myself appreciating these short distance-focused triathletes.  After all, they introduced me to running fast!  I think I train with others for companionship.  Like minds where you never have to justify training for hours on end.  Why you have to jump into an angry ocean for a mile swim.  Why you have to dodge cars on a long bike ride.

Yep, training with others does wonders for my state of mind.



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To form friendships, you have to leave competition at the door. Here is what a recent conversation I had sounded like. My companion said “Me me me. Yeah, me me me. I was tops then, tops now. Me me me. Did you see me? Wow, how good I always am. Yeah, me me me”. Laughing out loud. It makes me smile when I play that back in my brain.

I mean, to someone like me who comes from a non-competitive background and always takes a non-competitive stance–this conversation gets old. Watch how the prettiest girl can be undone by her self-worship! If you want to be liked, let someone else play with the flashlight!

When I can get a word in sometimes, the balance is restored until the next ME tirade. Unfortunate I know. Which brings me to my present thinking point–the natural tendencies that western thinking engender. Survival and capitalism brings about competition, and it comes directly from the core to compete at each meeting of two minds. It doesn’t matter if you are at church or praying. You are still competing against something. Western thinking drives you to the edge, making competing an end in itself.

There is no end to raw competition. Just ruined bodies and destroyed dreams, with few exceptions. Only the very best are rewarded, but only for a short time until they too must join the has-beens. I laugh inside and also feel pity when I encounter seniors who keep measuring themselves with the impossible capabilities of youth. Is there ever any reason why one has to prove vigor to anyone? Is it a need to still be taken seriously perhaps?

If you do something without a mind to compete, guess what–the pressure is off. You can do it to your hearts content and never care what others may think. Maybe you can actually gain an edge by not competing. Competing by not competing? Confused yet?

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How to enjoy the long run

Wires and straps, deaf to the world.  Bounding by traffic, life at the peril.  Yet singing off-key to the latest beat, not a care in the world.  Does this sound like you?

Many think that the hours in the run can be used for constructive purposes.  Solve puzzles perhaps.  Think about what the boss said at the meeting, or how the latest gossip will affect you.  After all, running long presents you with idle hours which could be put into more productive use.

Who are you kidding?  Many come to running to get away from it all.  Perhaps a little peace and quiet is what you long for.  How can you ever clear your mind if on the run you think plenty or pass tunes from ear-to-ear and around the recesses of your brain?

To enjoy the run properly, leave home unfettered by technology.  Care not what time it is, and how long it will take.  Listen to the quiet.  Seek the hawk just over the horizon peeking over the sand dune.  Listen to the wind.  Listen to your heart, your breathing and your footsteps.  Smell the breeze.

You can’t really enjoy the run unless you are truly in the moment.  Open your senses–see, hear, and feel.  Be part of the scenery!  Seek the joy of running through the eyes of the child.  Connect with others, even traffic.  Smile, watch, and reciprocate.  So much more is happening than your own little world.

Have fun in your next long run!

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Wouldn’t you know it–two teammates are aiming for 3:15 in marathons in December and January.  One is squarely in the 3:30s, and the other at 3:50s.  What’s going for them is their relative youthfulness (compared to me that is).  The guy who does 3:30s is relatively fast around track–easily hammering 6:10-6:00 pace at Z3.  The other does 7:00-6:50s at Z3.  Even with their differing abilities, you really only need a 7:10 pace to guarantee a 3:15 right?  Only problem is, you have to keep it up for 26.2 miles.  Ouch!

So where does that put me?  One sometimes train with me, and the other talks to me about what he does.  So one way or another, my input is getting in there somewhere.  I’ve been relatively consistent about my advice to get the 7mm X 6 miles tempo runs regularly.  Hope these guys are doing it.  And maybe I need to get back on it again!

I may end up running with the faster guy in LV.  That should be interesting.  I should be able to keep 7:10 relatively easily for 13.1, but so-so right now for the remainder.  Haven’t been keeping up with the harder running workouts.  This is where the end game becomes an important motivator.  For these guys, it is important to hit that goal at this juncture of their lives.  For me, it’s just another number.

I think my prospects for a faster marathon get better each time.  At least this time, their attempt will catapult my mindset into a similar trajectory by default.  The number still isn’t that important to me, but it’s a lot of fun to work towards a goal with others and achieve it.  If I get a faster time in the process, so be it!

But for now, I have to keep my mind on Ironman Arizona.  One month from now!

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Received an email that the marathon was nearly sold out.  Don’t know if that’s true or just a sales tactic, but I signed up for it because it is one of my local marathons.  Let’s see–San Diego R&R, Long Beach, Carlsbad, OC, Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Catalina as well.  There’s probably one in Santa Clarita, but I haven’t scoped that one out yet.

I’m sitting in my office barely able to concentrate.  I think I slept funny because one side of my neck muscles are complaining loudly.  Hard to keep my head up.  An enforced rest day for me.  Maybe I’ll check out what other marathons I can get into early next year!

Surf City Medals

Surf City Medals

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Short version:

183/3211 OA 147/2006 GEN 37/323 DIV

Just wanted to run this one for fun. My GPS died, so I was without a watch as well. Ran with the 3:20 pace group until mile 20. Regretted letting them go, doing miles 21-26 without knowing how fast I was going. I had a super great time and I know I’m doing this again next year!

3:25 plus. Official results not available until this evening. Yup, this report is hot off the press!

Long version:


The last of the fun outings before IMAZ. I have always liked the course, even if my times there are unfailingly pedestrian.

My Garmin’s battery went to zero before the race; don’t know what’s going on, but I had charged it to 100% last night. I was out a GPS and a watch as well. I was going to have to count on mile markers and watches where I could find them.

Oh, I also ran this race without my usual bottle of water. So I was at the mercy of the aid stations for hydration.

Temps were perfect, around 60 degrees. It went up to 72 during the day. Cloud cover during the race.

The race:

I lined up in front just because I’d rather not weave through slower people. The 3:10 pace group lined up maybe 50 feet behind me, and another 50 feet behind was the 3:20 pace group.

After the start gun sounded, I experienced the surge of people passing me in miles 1 and 2. I wanted to start slow and warm up. The first mile had a clock and it said 7:30. Maybe too fast. After another 200 feet, the 3:10 pace group passed me. I entertained the thought of going with a pace group because of my lack of a functioning watch. Their pace was squarely at 7:10 and I didn’t want to work that hard today, so I let them go.

Just before mile 3, the 3:20 pace group caught up with me. The pacer was pretty good, but he was yapping too much. That’s how I noticed them. Anyway, they were doing 7:30s so I decided to go with them. I figure if I could hang for 20 miles, I’ll get a good time even if I have to do the last 6 miles without a watch.

That’s pretty much what happened. I hung around the pace group until mile 20. It was pretty cool to have such a solid group. By mile 20, that group still had about 12 people. It started out at 30 or so. The hangers-on (not trained to that level) were dropped steadily.

The dynamic at the aid stations was sorta funny. I missed a few just be virtue of me being on the left versus the right. I was okay with it because I’m built like a camel anyway. But even when I was in the right position, I still had to grab fast and get out of the way since others in the pace group wanted to get water too. If you took too long at the aid stations, you were dropped from the pace group.

I feed on Gu at miles 6, 12, 18, 21, 22. Accepted one from a volunteer, but it turns out the extra Gu makes my tummy feel icky. I went without salt tabs today, which was okay because it was overcast.

At mile 13, the soreness from my right calf came back. This was from the Triple. I found that I could still run 7:22s if I try not to make too many side-to-side moves. I think it needs more rest.

I stuck to my race plan and let the pace group go at mile 20. I regretted it soon after. I couldn’t tell my pace, and the latter mile markers didn’t have clocks or call-outs. So I just decided to keep repeating in my head “open your stride, keep moving, run as fast as you think you can”. It did get me to the finish line, but I wonder how much better my time would have been with at least a functioning watch .

The final miles were fun. I think this is why I enjoy that course. Running through the avenues with the mix of old and new houses is totally California! And the view of the ocean is great.

I looked forward to running down the last 320 yards into the finish line chute. It’s a short downhill, and the finish line meets you before you are ready for it–versus other marathons where you have to look for the finish line.

I completed the marathon in 3:25 something. Not too bad. Okay, no more running races until IMAZ!


A few things I thought about on the way back:

1 I can now hang with the 3:20 group easily. It’s funny that even the 3:10 group was an option.

2 I’m so dependent on technology. I can’t tell pace without a GPS or watch. It totally sucks.

3. The nutrition worked as before. Didn’t have any low moments during the race. I missed my water bottle though.

Thanks for reading!

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Ford Ironman Kona World Championships, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 10/9/2009

Craig Alexander successfully defends his crown against a surging Chris Lieto. Chrissie Wellington had a comfortable lead off the bike, and was more concerned about her overall placing. She finished 23rd overall and also took the course record from Paula Newby-Fraser by 2 minutes. Mirinda Carfrae surprised everyone with her run which also broke the run course record set by Chrissie Wellington last year by 3 minutes.


1 8:20:21 1 Alexander, Craig Cronulla NSW AUS 50:57 1:44 4:37:33 2:04 2:48:05
2 8:22:56 2:35 24 Lieto, Chris Danville CA USA 51:07 1:44 4:25:11 2:21 3:02:35
3 8:24:32 4:11 54 Raelert, Andreas Drage NS GER 51:00 2:05 4:38:01 2:25 2:51:05
4 8:25:20 4:59 15 McCormack, Chris Burraneer NSW AUS 52:51 1:55 4:32:45 1:53 2:55:59
5 8:28:17 7:56 32 Henning, Rasmus Birkerod DNK 51:06 2:03 4:37:07 2:30 2:55:33
6 8:28:52 8:31 28 Bracht, Timo Eberbach GER 54:30 1:49 4:33:49 2:19 2:56:27
7 8:29:55 9:35 79 Bockel, Dirk Munsbach LUX 50:50 1:56 4:37:29 2:00 2:57:42
8 8:30:15 9:55 161 Jacobs, Pete Sydney NSW AUS 50:03 1:43 4:38:41 2:35 2:57:14
9 8:30:30 10:10 7 Potts, Andy Colorado S CO USA 47:45 1:56 4:46:07 2:29 2:52:15
10 8:31:44 11:23 11 Al-Sultan, Faris Al-Ain ABU UAE 50:53 1:49 4:33:40 2:13 3:03:11


1 8:54:02 101 Wellington, Chrissie Feltwell NOR GBR 54:31 2:15 4:52:07 2:05 3:03:06
2 9:13:59 19:57 131 Carfrae, Mirinda Brisbane QLD AUS 58:45 1:54 5:14:18 2:14 2:56:51
3 9:15:28 21:26 106 Berasategui, Virginia Bilbao BIZ ESP 58:52 2:04 5:01:42 2:08 3:10:43
4 9:23:43 29:41 127 Macel, Tereza Toronto ON CAN 53:29 2:13 5:04:17 2:35 3:21:12
5 9:25:48 31:46 116 Keat, Rebekah Burleigh H QLD AUS 57:17 2:00 5:15:50 6:10 3:04:32
6 9:30:28 36:27 126 McGlone, Samantha Tucson AZ USA 58:47 2:03 5:16:17 1:57 3:11:27
7 9:32:27 38:25 146 Joyce, Rachel London MID GBR 53:31 2:21 5:10:03 2:51 3:23:43
8 9:34:45 40:43 113 Lawn, Joanna Auckland AUK NZL 57:16 2:10 5:19:10 2:36 3:13:35
9 9:38:28 44:26 103 Wallenhorst, Sandra Hannover NIE GER 1:03:07 2:30 5:20:43 2:46 3:09:24
10 9:40:59 46:57 110 Griesbauer, Dede Boston MA USA 55:05 2:13 5:10:22 2:29 3:30:53

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What’s an easy workout? When does a moderate workout become a hard workout? Classifying run workouts are an excellent way to organize your week. You mix them up to make sure you have variety, and also to guard against injury.

Easy workouts are just that. Easy. Recovery runs (jogs) are done at super-easy pace, and never longer than 40 minutes. Really good to do between combinations of moderate and hard workouts. You can even do two of these per day, one in the morning and in the late afternoon.

Moderate workouts may take longer than 40 minutes but less than 1.5 hours, less than 10 miles moderate pace, or short enough so that you don’t incur a recovery period longer than 1.5 days. A moderate workout can become a hard workout when you push against those parameters; for example, running 11 miles is definitely going over.

Hard workouts. Generally anything that makes you push against your current level in terms of speed, stamina, or endurance. Track workouts at Z3 or above are hard workouts. You need to schedule at least 1 day in between hard workouts (Tuesday and Thursday for example). Long runs are classified as hard workouts by virtue of just the number of hours spent running.

Combinations are tricky. It is and should be different for each runner. A running program may show this for one week: M-E-H-E-M-R-R or E-M-E-H-E-L-R. R stands for rest, and L is long run. Long runs can require as much as 2 days of recovery after, where a runner can stay off his/her feet or do recovery runs.

To protect against injury, insert more rest days or recovery days in between moderate and hard workouts. It is also necessary to look at the quality of your workouts versus running junk miles. I call miles as junk when you are just doing it to count miles run per week, and those extra miles don’t help you in your training.

For every 3 weeks of consistent running, you need one recovery week where your schedule is 20-40% lower than the previous 3 weeks. Think of this recovery week as a catch-up week when you are in a build-up phase that taxes your cardiovascular system or makes you sore all over. You might also appreciate having extra time for everything else. The idea here is to allow things to get back to normal. If you find yourself asking “why am I running all the time?” then you need a recovery week.

I would go ahead and classify anything of a technical nature as moderate workouts even if done under 2o minutes. Fartleks, tempo, intervals, strides, and etcetera. If there is any doubt at all about where to classify, always go conservative. Anything of a technical nature can change the way you run, so adding sufficient rest in between such workouts will protect you from injury.

Hill workouts are moderate-to-hard, depending on how used you are it. I don’t know–I’m a good hill-runner, but I certainly don’t go looking for these unless I’m in San Francisco.

If you are new to running, the way to build to many miles is to do it slowly. Again, following the 3-1 schedule–I’d build up maybe 2 miles every 5 weeks with 1 week for recovery. Let’s say I’m currently running 4 miles consistently and I’m building up to a half marathon. My first 12 weekends would look like this: 4, 5, 5, 4 or rest, 5, 5, 6, 4 or rest, 6, 6, 7, 5 or rest. It would take you a while to get to 13, but when you get there you will be able to do it easily over and over. Building up slowly helps you in the long term. I would do a bunch of easy runs (under 2 miles) during the week with plenty of rest in between. Your schedule may look like this: E-R-E-R-E-L-E. Long runs at this point is where you build up on those miles slowly.

So once you get your runs classified, mix them up for variety and put this classification to good use.  Don’t run them all easy or all hard.  Don’t race when you should train.  And have fun out there!

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New runners are well-advised to rest for at least 3 weeks. It takes that long for things to return to normal after a 26.2 race. I would stay off my feet for the first week; maybe put both feet up on my desk and elevate both feet with a pillow while I sleep.

Massaging the legs is good. Some slow stretches are good, but keep them limited in range. Definitely avoid hyper-stretching when your legs are recovering–you may cause injury if for some reason muscle fatigue allows extra range of motion.

If you suffered a setback during the race (soreness, cramping, ITB, knee issues), best to immobilize the leg for a few days. If that is not possible, try not to put weight on it but do limit your movements. Avoid wrapping the site with bandages or any prolonged use of sleeves or support. If you limit the normal range of motion, you actually weaken the area versus letting it come back to full strength naturally.

Compression socks are great. Wear them overnight while you sleep. Good for the first 3 days. Ice baths are okay–not as needed when you have time on your hands to fully recover.

DOMS should be gone by day 5. Your legs will still be achy a week after. Your body will tell you when some jogging is possible; maybe 1.5 weeks after the marathon. Patience is the key here. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Wait until 2 weeks has passed before jogging a few miles maybe 2 days a week.

Avoid any fast running until 1 month after a marathon. By that time, you should be fully recovered. If you had any setback or still limp after 2 weeks, wait for 1.5 months or 2 to start any fast running again. Same time scale also for long runs. Just say no to hill repeats until 1.5 months after a 26.2 race.

Think long term here. The longer the rest period between periods of stress, the better the recovery and also adaptation. Best to keep injuries at bay, as the miles will always be there waiting for you when you can run again.

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