Sunday, July 29, 2007

San Francisco Marathon

I had high expectations coming into this event, the second Marathon I have ever run and the 1 year anniversary since my first Marathon. In one respect I did quite well and met many of those expectations, but on the flip side I am very disappointed with the outcome.

San Francisco Marathon - 4:38:48 (10:38 pace; 2,509/4,276) Stats

The night before I had everything planned out and ready. I knew what I needed to do nutrition wise in order to let my training take over and run the race that I wanted to run. The first hurdle was the big massive hurdle that I can never seem to jump over before a race: sleep. I went to bed at around 10:30 but wasn't able to fall asleep until around 12. No biggie, right? Well I had to wake up at 2:45 in order to get ready and be there in time to find parking. So the day started out bad, but I didn't take this as a bad omen. In fact, after a while I woke up and was feeling ecstatic.

I arrived and couldn't believe it! I found free parking! In San Francisco, on a day where 15,000 runners were converging? Yup, that's me. Of course it helps that I am paranoid and always show up early to find parking. So I made my way to the start line and, of course, had to make the obligatory tribute to the port-o-pottie gods. Not once, but twice! This was my first mistake: I went to the start line of my corral and proceeded to wait almost 40 minutes, which meant, of course, that the port-o-pottie gods had needed three payments. That could wait.

The Race

So I was in the front of the line when the race started. In fact, I had jumped two waves up, so I started early. When the gun went off I thought mayhem would be cast down upon us, as it was last year, but it didn't! In fact, I was all by myself in the front until we caught up to the wave before us. I was running an extremely easy 8-8:30 pace (extremely easy because of how I felt at the time).

I was surprised as hell that people weren't passing me, and a quick cursory look showed they were behind, and getting further behind. I hit the almost five mile marker and took the second hill and was barely breaking a sweat. Everything was going so smoothly and it had been a long time since I had felt this strong on a run.

Eventually I moved onto the Golden Gate Bridge and here is where the cluster f**k started. The lane we were in can take about five people lined side by side, so no problem, right? Wrong, all the slow runners seemed to want to run with one another, so that caused other faster runners (me in this case) to have to slow down and/or weave in and out of everyone. This dropped my pace to almost 9:30 for about a mile and half before I was finally able to break away, or I caught up and passed the slower wave, who knows. Anyway, I hit the 7.5 mile mark at 1:03:57 and I was extremely happy. Right on my desired pace.

Turning around, we went back over the Golden Gate Bridge and then headed into Golden Gate Park. Here we came to the half way point and I was right on pace, having completed the first half in 1:51:20. Huh? That was 27 seconds slower than my fastest Half Marathon finish! I accounted for this, knowing that this was the pace I wanted because I thought I could then finish out the last half at about a 10 minute pace and reach the secret and ever hopeful time of 4 hours (the time I voiced out loud was 4:30). But here was where everything went wrong, at least I thought so.

It seemed the minute I stepped over the halfway point I stepped from Heaven straight into Hell.

My legs grew heavy and it seemed I was becoming sluggish. I pushed on for the next 2-3 miles and was still running the 9-10 minute pace. Then I was having trouble running. Ominous thoughts passed through my mind as I began doubting myself: "Maybe I'm not cut out for this distance?" "So much for becoming an endurance runner" "Perhaps my training wasn't near adequate enough". So I pushed on for another couple of miles, now running a sold 11 minute pace.

Notice I haven't mentioned the water stations? I didn't really notice them either until about mile 18-19. I started thinking about it and realized that I had only had around 5 ounces of fluid for the first 2 hours of running. Not near enough. I was grabbing a cup of fluid at every aid station except the first, of which there were 6 in the first half (of course, the cups they give you only have about an ounce in each). I should have been at around at least 50-60 at that point. But it was too late. My calves were cramping up on me and I could barely even do a shuffle up the street. I started drinking around 4 ounces of fluid at every stop. But it wouldn't really matter at this point because by the time it settled in and gave some relief to my angry calves the race would almost be done. But try I must and try I did.

Around mile 21 though things got worse. I couldn't even walk fast anymore and could only do the zombie walk up the street, thinking all the long while about going over to the sidewalk and curling up into a ball. Miles 22-23 were horrible, resulting in 21 minute miles. But, just as despair had overtaken my sense of pride and began building the grief that my calves were gladly dispersing, mile 24 rolled around and the fluids and sodium intake had kicked in! Hooray! I still couldn't run entirely fast, but I was able to get my miles up to a respectable 10-11 minute pace and, even better, I was able to finish somewhat strong, instead of the dreaded (in my head I was thinking of this, wondering what it would be like to hobble across the finish line, frightening the medical teams as they watched me stagger in) walk of horror.

At the pace I was running, before some angry monster decided to start stabbing my calves, I would have been able to achieve the desired goal of 4 hours. I was strong. The endurance and stamina were there. It was my poor execution of the most basic and fundamental law of running that did me in. Drink, drink drink! I calculated it out. I had drank only 22-25 ounces of fluid the entire race, when I needed at least 120-140 ounces. My hydration was so poor that I didn't go to the bathroom once during the race (except for the third obligatory tribute to the port-o-pottie gods at mile 4), and when I tried to go after I had to force a trickle out. It came out looking like watered down coke with a hint of yellow.

This was why this didn't meet my expectations. Because the training was there. I could have finished strong and possibly under 4 hours. But something that every single runner learns first was what did me in. No fluids. Lesson learned, one I will not ignore in the future. I am still pleased with my time, coming in close to my original expected time. So all was not lost.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Badwater Ultramarathon 135

Amazingly, the course record set by Scott Jurek 0f 24:36:08 at the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2005 that runs for 135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, starting in 115+ weather, has been broken by two runners at this year's event. Valmir Nunes from Brazil shattered the record in his first attempt with a finish of 22:51:29. Last year's runner up and surprise contestant, Akos Konya, also broke the record with an amazing 23:47:47 finish time.

The race started yesterday at 6:00 AM for the unknown or newbies, then followed with an 8:00 AM start and then finally a 10:00 AM start for the hardened veterans and the ones who have performed well at other events. The runners run straight with no sleep for over 24 hours, with some finishing last year in 59 hours. Their crew follows along with the essential supplies, food and liquids, which gives them enough to continue on through the heat. Nunes and Konya both started at the 10:00 AM time. Akos' friend who he met last year at a 100 mile event in order to qualify for Badwater, is David Goggins, a US Navy Seal who wanted to find a difficult challenge that he could use to help raise money for the children of fallen soldiers. He was also a surprise and unknown last year and finished 5th. This year he came out strong and finished in 3rd position with a time of 25:49:40. Another contender who was expected to win was Jorge Pacheco whose best previous finish at Badwater was a second to Jurek. Pacheco started out strong and was leading the group through the 90 mile station before the race got the better of him. He eventually finished fourth with a time of 26:41:52. Another notable mention is Dean Karnazes who is running his 7th Badwater (one of which was a DNF) who finished in 31:31:34 and was 10th place.

On the women's side Jamie Donaldson of Colorado is a first time runner of the Badwater Ultramarathon and was running strong as she was the lead femalethrough the 122 mile station in 30:47, but was soon overtaken by Lisa Bliss of Washington who ended up being the first woman to finish in 34:33:40 and was 16th overall. The second woman to complete the run was Noora Alidina of Florida, coming in at 35:12:13 and 18th overall. As of this writing Jamie still hasn't checked into the 131 mile station, and there are only two women who have completed the race so far.

Utterly amazing race, and one of the most difficult in the world. If you want to check in with the other 85 starters (4 DNFs so far) then check out the results and splits page or check back in later with the final women's winning results.

Monday, July 23, 2007

7/15 - 7/21 Summary

This was a good week for me in terms of running and exercising in general. I was able to do a variety of terrain and worked a lot of different muscles, giving me a nice all around workout.

Sunday - Half Marathon + .55 Mile Warm Up
Monday - 4.12 Treadmill
Tuesday - Rest Day
Wednesday - 3.85 Trail Running, 1.26 Treadmill
Thursday - Rest Day
Friday - 4.22 Treadmill
Saturday - 7.05 Trail Running

The week started with the Jungle Run Half Marathon, so I was able to get in a decent distance at a good time, comparative to the running I should be doing for the Marathon. Pace was good and I wasn't tired or sore from the race, so that is always a good sign. On Monday I went in and did a 3 mile warm up before working out my chest and triceps, and then did a 1.12 mile cool down at a 1.5% grade on the treadmill. This was important because I wanted to see how my legs felt the day after the Half Marathon, which again, as stated above, is a good measure on how conditioned my legs are becoming.

Tuesday was a rest day, but for the purposes of this site a rest day simply means I didn't run. Instead I did a 16 mile bike ride that had a total of about 700 feet elevation, 500 of which came at the last half mile. I love throwing in a bike routine because it still works out my legs but doesn't stress them as much as running. Wednesday rolled around and the fun began. I went out first and ran 3.85 miles of trail running with an elevation gain of around 500 feet, again most of which was in the last mile. Then I went into the gym and worked out my shoulders, with a 1.26 mile gentle cool down.

Finally I come to Friday, which again was a weight training day. I ran 2.11 miles for a warm up, then worked out my biceps and back, and then did a 2.11 mile cool down. So far the week was pretty easy, until I came to Saturday. It started with a 3.85 mile hike with my sister that had a 500 foot elevation gain. Great trail to hike and is in fact the same trail I ran on Wednesday. Then my sister left and I ran the same trail, but then when I got to the top I turned around and did the trail in reverse, giving an elevation ascent of around 800 feet, running for a total of 7.05 miles. This was a killer. I hadn't felt this beat up since I ran the Marathon and Half Marathon last year. My left knee ached and my right calf was pulsing.

All in all, I ran 33.85 miles, the second highest miles per week yet. Great week and I think I learned a valuable lesson, one that I have always known but never actually experienced, which is that trail running is a completely different sport from concrete/pavement/road running. This week things will taper off and I will hopefully get in around 10 miles as I lead into the weekend and my first big run of the year.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

400th Mile Ran

I am giddy with anticipation, so excited for the upcoming Marathon in a little over a week. This will be the true test on the training that I have done and whether it is working or whether I need to re-evaluate how I am training and make some adjustments. I am in a very good position to evaluate this because a year ago I ran this Marathon with zero training and out of shape. It will be like I planted a seed and I now get to see how far I have grown. That, to me, is exciting. Progress, that is what does it and is what has attracted me to running so much, because how well I do in running depends entirely on how well I train and prepare.

As I hit my 400th mile for the year I couldn't help imagining my future races, one of which is about 5 weeks after the Marathon: Stevens Creek 50k. It is this race that I now am unsure about. Earlier in the year it was the Half Marathon, with the Marathon far off in the distance. After a lot of training and a few 13 mile runs, I slowly grew accustomed to that distance and am very confident with it. Not to say I run it fast, but the distance I am comfortable with. Then I was a little unsure about the Marathon with the Ultramarathon a distant possibility. But that, too, is now very accessible as I finished 400 miles for the year. I've logged in enough rubber to cement to begin to understand what I can do. And a Marathon I know I can.

The question then becomes, how well can I run it and how will my body respond? Because this will tell me on how prepared I will be for the 50k trail run. And who knows, if I do well in San Francisco, will the 50k then seem accessible with a 50 miler off in the distance? I sure hope so, but, ultimately, that will all depend on July 29th. The day that my giddy excitement will be unconstrained and let loose with wild joy.

This I know I can do. With proper training and confidence in one's self, anything can be done.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Complacency Is A Killer

There are two elements to running/staying in shape that are absolutely essential in keeping track of: consumption and laziness. Although there are times when you are bombarded by both your nutrition/hydration and laziness, we are more often than not to be tempted by one over the other at any given time. This is what has happened to me.

My motivation is there and kicking laziness’s ass. So no problem there. My problem recently has been my eating and hydration habits. Starting last year I started running a ton in order to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Immediately after the Marathon I started dropping the weight. Everything felt great. I was exercising and eating healthy. I had cut away the sodas, which was pretty much the only fluids that I would drink before. Everything was feeling great.

In the meantime I had also been reading a lot about other runners and how they have tackled the training and nutrition elements of running long distances. Many always talked about how not drinking sodas and eating sweets, eating healthier lunches and dinners lifted their spirits and made them feel that much better. I concurred with them, but didn’t think it made that much of a difference.

Back to present time, I had finally reached my goal weight, or close enough, of 178 (a few more pounds off won’t hurt, but I am happy at this weight), which is a staggering 35 pound lose over a year’s time period. Everything was working. My speed and endurance were both growing with my shrinking body fat percentage. So what happens? I begin to become complacent and say “You’re still running a ton, you can eat fast food again, eat sweets and drink soda, you’ll be fine”. So I did just that, and have been doing that for at least 3 weeks. Now I am not one to say no sweets or sodas ever, but in moderation, right?

Well I’ve reverted back to 4-6 sodas a day with next to zero water. What kind of runner is that? How can my body support itself on that, especially when you throw in the nasty fast food and refined sugars of ice cream and candy? And I can feel it, especially the last few days when I have been conscious of what has been happening. Now I understand what others are saying when they describe how their bodies feel in similar situations. I don’t feel as healthy even though I am running the same amount, probably more. My speed and endurance are improving, but will those begin to slow if my eating and drinking habits continue the way they are? I think so.

Complacency is a killer, and that is where I have come to. My weight is where I want to be, why worry about food now? Why would anyone think this way? I knew what I had to do to become healthy, why does that change now that I have reached target weight? It doesn’t, but the mind plays tricks. I think this is essential. Learn to recognize complacency in your eating and hydration habits, learn to understand when you are becoming lazy and shirking the necessity of continued exercise. When you master that then you will certainly be better for it, both mentally and physically. Now I have to act on this recognition. I don’t think I need to cut all sweets and sodas out, as I have always believed, but moderation is the key. More water, healthier foods equals better fuel for the body.

That is not something I want to become complacent about.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Jungle Run Half Marathon

I have eagerly awaited this race for a long time and not just because it is practically in my back yard, but because it is the kick off to the beginning of my long races for the year, with mostly Half Marathons and Marathons scheduled. This would, of course, be the gauge that I would use to test my mettle, to see whether my legs can handle the pressure that I am heaping upon them. Boy did this race kick my ass.

Jungle Run Half Marathon - 1:50:54 (8:28 pace; 162/636)

As race day anticipation built the night before the sleep that I so yearned for was dragged before me tantalizingly close, pulled away at the last minute. Eventually I tumbled into a restless sleep for 3 and a half hours before my alarm went off, of which I hit snooze twice and made matters worse. Rolling out of bed I showered up, applied body glide, pinned the bib on and headed off for Los Gatos High School where the start and finish was. When I arrived there were already a ton of people milling around. Having picked up my bib the day before all I had to do was make sure I stopped off at the restroom before heading to the start line. But, wait, only four port-o-potties for 1,500 runners and spectators? The line snaked around and coiled within itself in a weird S pattern and I began to doubt whether I could use the restroom and make it to the start in time. Five minutes in I was casually looking around when I saw a woman bend down and strap on her timing chip. Uh, that hurts. I left mine on the desk at home. Panic set in as I immediately left the line and started jogging towards my car and I immediately realized that there was no way I would be able to make it to my house and back in time, and prayed to the gods of all things running that this event has a system set up to help numbnuts like me. Luckily, they did, and one disaster was averted. Now the restroom disaster. There was absolutely no way I could make it through that line in time. To my amazement as I was strapping on my chip I looked up and there was an unused bathroom that nobody knew about and was able to walk right in without a line! Amazing how things work out.

The Race

The gun went off and I was ready and rearing to go. I was sporting a new handheld water bottle to test out for the upcoming Marathon in SF, so it took a little getting used to as I started out of the parking lot. And, true to Firstwave Events, the race started with a hill (see Santa Cruz) at the very beginning, less than 2 tenths of a mile into the race. I suppose this was better than having a hill at the very end of the race, right? Anyway, we crested the hill and cruised downhill slightly, reaching the first mile at 7:23, which didn't surprise me. Race day anticipation always makes me run a faster first mile than I should, so I clamped down on my pace and tried to slow it down. Shortly there after the 10k runners peeled off and headed on in to Vasona Park and the Half Marathoners continued on the road up yet another hill. 2 hills, albeit not monster hills, within the first 2 miles? Hope this trend doesn't continue.

Soon enough the concrete was pounding my legs as we were on, yet again, a slightly sloping road heading north. More on pace in a minute. Eventually we turned east and entered Los Gatos Creek Park where we joined up with the bike path that I have biked a ton, so I was very familiar with what I would be running. Nothing too difficult, yet it would continue to have an ever so slight ascent the rest of the way. Here is where things began to worry me. My pace was way too fast and my body was screaming at me to slow down. I didn't know what had happened. Every mile that passed I checked my speed and made a conscious effort to slow down. And every mile was still faster than I should be running (7:23, 7:14, 7:43, 7:30, 7:57 and 8:16). I was running my 10k pace for a Half Marathon! In fact, when I was a little over 6 miles into the race I had just barely beat the best 10k I had ever run as a 10k race! Now I knew why my legs were screaming, my shoulders were creaking and my mouth was sucking cotton. I had to slow down. So I instituted a 30 second walk rule.

Now I might add the problem with my Garmin Forerunner 205. I used it during a softball game to see how much running I actually did (2.86 I might add), and also had it set to Auto Pause every time I was standing still. It took me forever to figure out why my watch kept beeping as I was running today, and I found out that this was because I had forgotten to take it off of Auto Pause. Any why o why was it beeping and auto pausing when I was running at 9 mph? A flaw in the technology, my dear Watson, one that I have found to be greatly annoying. This didn't affect my mile time splits in the beginning, but it would definitely affect things later on in the race.

Anyway, move back to the 10k walk rule and I am walking 30 seconds every mile. This worked well, I think, and got my pace under control. I kept checking my watch and knew that I was on track to set a PR so I started taking a few more walk breaks. Here is where it began to get hairy. I would hit mile 9 and my watch said I should be at mile 8.88. No biggie, the Garmin has been known to be off by as much as a tenth to two tenths. I continued my walk run breaks, more so now because of how tired my legs were. Mile 10 rolled around and now my watch read 9.84. Mile 11 and the watch read 10.74. What is going on? The watch seemed to be getting more and more off the mark. I had ignored it so far because I knew I was still on pace to easily be able to set a PR. Easily? Did I just say that? Something must be wrong... Damn, stinkin' technology. I relied on it and it was going to mess with me? I looked at the time and realized that I would now be cutting it close. You see, every time the watch paused it paused everything, even though I was still running. Cumulative over 11 miles and it added up and fooled me, gave me a false sense of security.

Adrenaline kicked in as I came to the turnaround just below the Lexington Reservoir dam. Legs be damned, shoulder pain ignored and cotton continually spit out, I began running for that PR. I knew I wanted it, and I had trained hard to achieve it and wasn't going to let a technological trust issue get in my way. Soon enough I was passing people before I turned onto the High School track and ran the last two tenths of a mile to the finish line. I looked down at my watch and checked the time. Surely I beat it, right? I was blown away. I had beaten it by seven minutes! Unbelievable.

With the way my body was feeling it didn't seem like I was doing anything right. I started out too fast and blew a lot of precious energy. I had started to walk at mile 6 when I had intended to run the whole distance without stopping, which I was able to do a few weeks before. And I put all my trust into a piece of technology (and normally this would be fine, except for the auto pause thing, which stopped the stopwatch portion of the watch, which is ultimately all you need) and found that it decided to begin toying with my head. I even began doubting myself for the upcoming Marathon, not sure whether I would be able to finish it or not. But, when all is said and done, when it came down to my running shoes and myself, the training paid off. I was able to finish with an 8:28 pace, better than I thought I would run.

And the lesson? If I want to run the best possible Marathon I need to get my pace under control in the beginning, and not at mile 6. Trust your training and everything will work out for the best. With a tough Half Marathon under my belt, doubts and pacing problems be damned, I am feeling more confident about the SF Marathon coming up at the end of the month.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Extreme Ultramarathons

I am in awe when I read about some endurance events, wondering how these people can ever complete such massive amounts of miles in such a short period of time. I do want to take part in longer endurance runs than the marathon, but I can almost positively say that I don’t think I could ever get to that level, nor that I would even want to. A 50k works for me, or even eventually a 50 miler. I’ve even considered taking part in a 12 hour event (they have a 24 hour but that is way too much for me) just to see how much I could push myself in that time period. But there are some crazy events that make your jaw drop.

The best known is the Western States 100, which took place on the 23rd of June. Racers run 100 miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn in California, oftentimes through low temperatures cold enough for snow to highs in the canyons in the hundreds. This is one of many 100 mile races and this is perhaps the best known race. The race began when Gordon Ainsleigh's horse became injured before the race, a race where it is held on horseback for a 100 miles. Not wanting to be left out he decided to run the race and not only finish but to finish under the cutoff to receive the covetted silver belt buckle. Of course he finished it and to this day the 100 mile races hold the tradition of the silver belt buckle to those finishing in a certain time limit.

Another extremely hard endurance run is the Badwater 135 which begins in Death Valley in scorching 115 plus weather. It is so hot when they start that if you left your phone in the car window it would melt, and the runner’s feet swell several sizes larger than their normal shoe size. Eventually they run from below sea level at -282 to the trailhead of Mount Whitney with an elevation of 8,360, covering 135 miles. This could be considered one of the more extreme running events in the world and rightly so.

The longest foot race in the world, though, is in New York and is a 3,100 mile race: Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race. This race usually last several months as the participants are on a lap course, where each lap is equivalent to .5488 miles. That means they must complete 5,649 laps in order to finish. If the monotony of doing the same exact lap for over 5,600 miles doesn’t get you, I am sure the 3,100 miles would. Labeled a run, the runners typically complete 70 or so miles a day, which amounts to about 4-5 miles per hour depending on the amount of sleep they take. I definitely give the participants props for completing such a long distance in such a short amount of time.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Week of Cross Training

This past week was perhaps one of my most non-running weeks in terms of days ran. 4 out of 7 days I did not run at all, although I did do some other exercising.

Sunday - Rest Day
Monday - 3.05 (Treadmill)
Tuesday - 7.02 (Paved Path; 1hr Timed Run)
Wednesday - 5k Race, .55 Mile Cool Down (Paved Road)
Thursday - Rest Day
Friday - Rest Day
Saturday - Rest Day

Despite the 4 non-running days I was still able to log in 13.72 miles for the week, above my previous training goal of 13.1 a week. Monday I ran some on the treadmill as a warm up for some weight training, which I try to do at least 2-3 days a week. Tuesday I decided to do an hour long run at a decent, but slower than usual pace. This is something that I have neglected to do in the past because I always focused on the miles ran rather than the time spent running. And finally I ran the 5k on the 4th.

Where running stopped I added in a few other activities: Softball and Tennis. I think it is a must, not only for running, but for all around health to cross train, to do more than one or two activities. Softball is a sport I love to play with the friends but don't to do it too often. On the 4th, after the 5k, we were able to get a game scheduled. It was a 100 degrees I might add, so that was tough. Using my Garmin Forerunner 205 I found out that I had run about 2.8 miles in the almost 3 hours of actual play time. Not a bad workout, one that works the upper and lower body muscles. And finally I went to Yuba City to play in a tennis tournament with the family. I was in mixed doubles with my sister Rochelle and my parents were in a different draw playing mixed doubles together. Again, the weather was 100 on Saturday and mid to high 90s on Sunday, so we had our work cut out for us. My sister and myself were in a round robin draw since there weren't quite enough teams registered. Only three total. Kind of a bummer, but then you look at the bright side and realize that you are guaranteed 2 matches. So pluses and minuses, but a huge plus is that we won both matches and thus won our draw, adding another 1,000 points towards entrance to the Grand Prix Tournament at the end of the year. So after 4 hours of tennis in a 100 degrees I feel I had adequate exercise for the running I missed.

Now on to the Los Gatos Jungle Run Half Marathon at the end of the week, one I've been looking forward to for a while now. I think it'll be the best showcase of how my training has come along, more so than the Santa Cruz Half Marathon I ran earlier in the year, and it will be good preparation for the San Francisco Marathon at the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Morgan Hill Freedom Run 5k

It is rare to see an event in the middle of the week and since I'm tapering off my events this month in preparation for the Jungle Run Half Marathon and the SF Marathon I jumped at the chance to take part in a 5k in the city I grew up in.

Morgan Hill Freedom Run 5k - 0:20:53 (6:44 pace; 58/458)

I've never ran a 5k before other than the 5k that was the run leg for the Lake Almaden Triathlon, so I went into it with a little caution. I had previously ran at a 7:15 pace after swimming and biking, so I had an idea of what pace I should shoot for. The course was a loop course, with the first loop distance of 1.75 miles that followed the route of the 4th of July parade. The streets were already lined with spectators ready to cheer us on. Another plus to this race was that my brother, Mike, joined me again, and my sister, Rochelle, ran her first race.

We were lined up in the front when the gun went off and my nerves got the better of me. I started hard and fast and kept it up for awhile, but realized quickly that I couldn't maintain that pace and finish as strong as I wanted. The first mile clocked in at 6:10, way faster than I had ever run the first mile of a race. Did I push it too hard? My pace noticeably slowed as I settled into a stride. My final two miles clocked in at 7:07 and 7:15.

This amazed me. I was shooting for just under 22 minutes and somehow came in under 21 minutes, or a 6:44 pace, well faster than I thought I could have run my first 5k. This was by far my best result so far. I placed 58th out of 458 entrants, which was 3rd in my age group! I set the bar high for my next 5k. I can only hope that I can maintain my current level of improvement week over week.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

New Training Routine

Recently I've felt that I needed to step up my training for two reasons. The first is the obvious one, which is that my pace and endurance has outstripped the amount of miles that I've been running every week (which was an average of 13.1 a week) as well as only running roads/paved paths. The second reason is that I now know that I will have to run more often in more varied terrains in order to increase my endurance. This past week was my first week in a step towards that direction.

Sunday: 10k Race, 1.5 mile cool down (Flat, Paved Path)
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 13.15 (Flat, Paved Path. Endurance Run)
Wednesday: 4.11 (Treadmill. Five .25 Mile Speed Legs)
Thursday: 5.56 (Trail Running)
Friday: 3.48 (Trail Running)
Saturday: 4.02 (Trail Running)

I started the week off with a 10k race and set a PR. Always feels good to run a better race than the one before. I've had a packed few weekends in a row so I decided to take Monday off and rest, but this only lead to some downtime, so I finished Ultramarathon Man. Couple the inspiration from this book with the PR and I went out on Tuesday and ran my longest single day training session at 13.15 miles. Ran it nonstop and faster than I have ever ran a Half Marathon. The kicker with this, though, was that the next day I didn't feel tired or sore, which is much different than my previous long runs. This was a huge check mark off my list of steps that needed to be reached, which buoyed me for the rest of the week. Finally, the last two stages of the week: speed and hills. I did a short speed session on Wednesday and then the rest of the week was all Trail Running at Mount Madonna. Elevation gain was huge, with the last run amounting to about an 1,100 foot ascent over 2 miles, 3/4 of which was in the first mile. In addition to the running I was able to get in about 8 miles of hiking. It felt great to hike the same trails before or after my runs. Could focus on the trail and actually feel the calves and hamstrings burn. Great trails.

With my endurance run, speed runs and hill running worked into my routine I feel much better about my endurance for the upcoming Marathon. Couple those with the 38 miles I ran last week and I am very pleased. The next step would be to continue this routine through the coming weeks and months and watch as my endurance grows.