Monday, October 26, 2009

New Strategies at the Silicon Valley Marathon

I'd signed up for this one almost a year ago, when I was still running somewhat. I didn't know what to expect coming in to this one, but I knew that I was going to finish it even if I had to walk it. Luckily I didn't have to walk.

Silicon Valley Marathon - 4:40:09 (10:41 pace; 460/769)

I was seriously skeptical about this one. Not only had I not ran that much in the past few months, but I also had come down with something about a week before the race. Lets start from the beginning.

I gave myself a crash course in running in order to trigger muscle memory. Mind you, I had no notions that this would improve my speed. I figured my speed was shot, but the least I could do was help my muscle memory try and remember what it was like to be on my feet for that long. So in the three weeks leading up to the race I ran 2 half marathons within 48 hours (both at 2hrs9min) as well as a smattering of other runs ranging from 3-8 miles, totaling 48.2 miles. A decent amount for me, even when I was running all the time. I felt confident that I would do alright.

Then a week before the event I came down with a bad cold, hacking, coughing and phlegm that I couldn't get rid of. I was annoyed, I wanted to get a couple of more runs in, but, alas, I was unable to. I played it by ear. Obviously if I felt too bad then I wouldn't run cause I wouldn't want to make everything worse. So I get to bed the night before and around 2:30 wake up completely soaked in sweat. At first you would think, "Oh no, maybe I shouldn't run", but as I lay there trying to fall back asleep I couldn't help but think, "Alright, whatever I had finally broke, I should be good to go in about 3 hours". Haha, oh how the mind works sometimes.

Perfect weather when the race began. I immediately felt good about the run, hitting my stride and not feeling too winded. I did notice I was sweating more than usual, but no biggie. About mile 11 I couldn't help but begin to dread running that whole course again as I was starting to feel tired. I wasn't even half way, oh well. I push through. I'd eaten 6 shot bloks (180 calories) at mile 9 and told myself to do it again at mile 15. By mile 14 my calves were starting to hurt and energy was low, so ate them then, vowing to repeat the process every 4 miles, thereby eating before, during and after I normally hit the wall. The next few miles were uneventful. I remember frog hopping with a handful of runners. I would run ahead, then walk, then they would run ahead, then they would walk. Repeat process. I hate it when that happens.

About the same time I noticed that I never hit the wall. I was at mile 19 and the only time psychologically I hit the wall, ever so tiny though it was, was when I thought to myself that I don't want to run marathons anymore (this is a common wall issue for me, when I begin to doubt myself and think why, oh why would anyone want to torture themselves this way!). Too tired. I coupled that thought with my fellow frog hoppers and knew I had to take a different tactic. My training was nowhere near what it should have been, so I knew I had to focus on my muscles. I immediately started a routine where I ran until my calves hurt, then took a 20 second walk break, then started all over again. Immediately I surged forward and left my frog friends behind. I never saw them again (in fact this one guy that I was doing that with finished the race about 20 minutes after I did!). In fact from mile 19 on I was passing a ton of people! I mean they would come on to my radar and I just pecked them off. I think I was on to something with this run walk routine, at least for times like this when my conditioning is completely gone.

So my morale is buoyed as runners are left in my dust (if only I was going that fast) and the miles went by so fast that I barely noticed. I mean I was running slower than my average marathon but it felt like the strongest (at least mentally) marathon I had ever ran! I came to within striking distance of the finish and realized that I might be able to pull off a sub 4:40, my only goal for the race. With 2 minutes to go I hit the 26 mile marker. I sprint past numerous runners in the final stretch, wanting, needing (for some reason) to run a 4:39:59 or better and... I don't know. My clock said 4:40:14 but I was off when I started it and when I stopped it, so I relied on the chip timing.

When all was said and done I missed my target time by 10 seconds! I ended up running a 4:40:09. Just one walk break less and I would have been exactly where I had wanted to be. I guys that's where the cards fell.

Anyway, I could not have been any more happy than I am after this race. I learned an eating strategy that helps break down the wall (eat at miles 9, 14, 18 and 22) and a way to speed up if my calves are beginning to cramp, notably a 20 second walk break. I didn't run this race faster than when I ran it in 2007, but I certainly felt much better during and after it, despite being sick.

(P.S. I was coughing during the race and needing to blow my nose a lot, which was the only sign that I was sick. But after the race I was having the biggest coughing fit. Add that to being sore that night, as well as sore the next day and still not feeling well, I think I did quite well considering. Now whether I made the right decision to run while sick is a completely different matter and I probably shouldn't have done considering it will probably prolong my cough and phlegm problem longer than it should have lasted. Oh well, you win some you lose some, and I think I certainly did a little of both.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Marathon times predicted by weight differential

As the Silicon Valley Marathon approaches I can't help but be anxious. A few days ago I caught a cold and have been fighting it since. I was hoping to get a 6 mile run in yesterday and just couldn't. Hacking, coughing and phlegm filled nose and throat is certainly not conducive to a good run. So in my spare time I've decided to play a numbers game and predict what my time will be on Sunday (that is if I feel up to it and the cold and cough have subsided).

I've read in several different places that for every pound of weight you run a mile 5 seconds slower. So I wanted to put this to the test. You see I have the perfect base run, my first marathon in 2006 when I signed up for and completed with zero training and weighing 212 pounds. Using that I've gone back to the other 4 road marathons and figured out what the weight difference was, and thus what my predicted time would be.

Obviously there are several factors that go in to running, anywhere from hydration, eating, weather, hills and so on, so it would be hard to use the 5 second per mile as a hard rule. That being said the predicted times did pretty good. My San Francisco and Silicon Valley from 2007 were almost dead on, and you can bet there was a +- factor of a pound or two considering my weight was taken from a different day.

My training was different in 2007 than it was in 2008. In 2007 it was all about the shorter races until the end of the year when I started running longer runs. Then in 2008 the Napa Valley Marathon I had obviously trained much better and my body was ready to run the distance and thus I was able to do much better, adding a 38 minute cushion because of my training. Cowtown was better as well, but I had stopped running and I am willing to bet that the difference from the predicted time was my muscle memory picking up where I had left off.

All I can hope is that I can run better than the 5 hour predicted time of my weight and the 5 seconds a mile per pound rule. I certainly haven't trained that well, so I can't really expect anything other than the predicted time. But seeing as how I had ran 2 weeks ago 2 half marathons at a little over 2 hours each, then I feel confident I can run between a 4:30-4:40... Here's to hoping, not only for a finish but that I will have recovered sufficiently to run at all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Remarkable Week of Running (finally)

It feels strange to not be out running all the time. I went from running 9 marathons or longer last year to virtually no running at all. And I didn't have any good excuses!

A little background is in order. Last October I ran two marathons and then just stopped running. No miles in November and only 2.5 miles in December. I vowed to start the year off correct but still could only muster 28 miles. My first attempt at a 50k was at the end of February so I got a few 6 milers in and one 12 miler, but still couldn't get motivated, ending up stopping at the 30k finish of the Sequoia 50k. Then there were 6, 11 and 20 in the following months, leading to my finish of the Nisene Marks Marathon in the first week of June. From there it got worse, logging in only 3 more miles in June, 7 in July, 6 in August and 7 in September. Abysmal, I know. I just couldn't get motivated.

Along came October. I am planning on running the Silicon Valley Marathon at the end of the month. I mean the marathon is 1o minutes from my house and there is a 7 AM start time! What more could I ask for? The month started out slow with only 3 miles in the first week. Vowing to let my muscle memory regain control (about all I could do because speed is something that would take a lot more training, whereas muscle memory could at least be recalled) I moved in to the second week of the month, starting on Thursday (I use Thursday through Wednesday as my week in order to account for all 52 weeks, since January 1 was on Thursday) I ran 7 miles. No too bad.

Now here is the remarkable part. On Saturday I ran a half marathon, something I've only done for training twice before. Felt great if not a little slow. Understandable. The knees groaned a little at the end but quickly disappeared once I stretched. Wasn't sure what I wanted to run on Monday, but I knew I wanted to shoot for at least 7-8 miles. You see I found that my motivation for running increases when I plan on running longer runs as opposed to short 3-4 mile runs. So when I got to the half way point I felt great and kept running instead of turning around. Before I knew it I had ran another half marathon, my second in less than 48 hours! Better yet, I ran it the same pace as the one 2 days before and yet had no troubles at all with my legs and knees.

A truly remarkable and unexpected week for me. In fact this past week of 33.2 miles is my 7th best week of running ever! I know this doesn't amount to much compared to those of you running 100 mile weeks, but this is a lot for me. I know I will be ready for the SV marathon at the end of the month and I think I finally found a great motivating device to keep the miles coming...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Random Photos

Okay, so I attempted the Stevens Creek 50k last year but lack of training plus 100+ temperature ruined that effort. What is funny though is that I found a picture of myself at mile 1.5 of this race. I am the runner the farthest to the left.

I will run this race again. Hopefully I can get farther than mile 10.9.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

O Wonder of Wonders at the Nisene Marks Marathon

This was meant to kick start my running. I had no intention of setting any goals or even expecting to finish feeling a sense of accomplishment. What I ended up learning was that muscle memory has a long life span.

Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon - 4:44:24 (10:51 pace; 47/69)

I slept well and woke up at 5:38 sans clock. I must have been keyed to the moment as I rolled over wide awake. Grab my breakfast and head out the door for the 1 hour drive, putting me arriving a little less than an hour before the race. This, of course, is one of my favorite aspects of this race, the 8:00 AM start time. The other is the course itself.

Set in Aptos you run 13.1 miles up to the top of the hill. You don't run in the sun until the last few miles because you are running under a lush canopy of trees. The gentle climb, a 2,500 ft ascent, is not too demanding but certainly takes a determination. Then you turn around and run 13.1 miles down. Your legs take a beating as you concentrate on the fire road, hoping you don't hit that stick or rock then sends you tumbling. Ultimately you reach the end exhausted because of the constant pounding and climbing.

The race started relatively uneventful. I took it slow. In fact I started at the back of the pack to force myself to run slow and take it easy. I was taking this as a fast hike instead of a run. At about mile 2-3 I realized I felt good so I opened up some. We hit the first steep portion of the trail at mile 5 and I was already feeling tired. Huh, it was gonna be one of those races. I knew, though, that I would get to the top easy enough, and then the only way to get back to my car was to run back down. No way to drop off or quit. So I felt safe.

At mile 6 I stopped and ate 6 shot bloks, my miracle food while running. A few minutes later I felt myself surging up the hill. It was unbelievable. I mean I was literally running hard up the trail and not feeling my legs slow down at all. My heart and lungs were a different story, of course. Not running more than 100 miles in 7 months has killed my endurance so I had to take short 10-30 second breaks, then let my legs carry the day. I reached the turn around in 2:23 and was ecstatic. I had hoped to be to this point by the 3 hour mark, and yet I knew now that I had a chance of running my 3rd fastest marathon ever. I surged on.

Ironically, the downhill portion is where I couldn't hit my stride. Add that I was tired and it wasn't a good combination. Other factors, of course, were my corn and my calves. The huge corn in the middle of my foot was killing me running downhill because of all the extra pressure. Rocks, branches, holes and so on just seemed to be there every step as each step practically shot pain up my leg. The calves, well there was no way around this one. Not running much has its side effects, and calves that tighten up and cramp is certainly tops on that list.

The time I felt I could reach slipped away, ultimately leaving me running my 6th fastest marathon out of 10! I ended up running a 2:23/2:21 split. I've never ran a marathon with both halves that close, leaving out the fact that one half was up and the other was down. For not having ran or trained, I could not have been more happy with how I felt and the time that I was able to run this tough trail marathon in. I look forward to resuming my training and getting ready for the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Difference A Shoe Makes

So I recently had the pleasure of visiting the doctor. You see, my foot is starting to hurt when I walk on it, especially barefoot. There is a growth on the bottom of my sole, almost directly in the front center. I presumed it was a corn, and I presumed correctly, but I had to be sure just in case. Perhaps a little background is in order.

A little over a year ago I noticed some tough skin. Nothing much, in fact thought it was a blister at first. It slowly grew. I figured all the miles I had been running were acting up. About that time my parents bought me a new pair of shoes, really nice ones fitted to me. Very comfortable. But then I took a new job and for the first month or so it was continuous walking, 8 hours a day, roughly 10 miles a day. My feet took a beating. But I wore my cheap pair of shoes that I had originally had before my parents bought me a nice pair. You would think that I would at least invest a little bit of money in shoes, but no, not the case. I bought a cheap $50 pair. I didn't know the difference. Anyways, I wore the cheap pair to work because I didn't want to ruin the new pair. I paid the price.

Apparently corns develop over time and are an inverted triangle: tip on the surface as it widens into your foot. The pressure and what hurts is that hard skin build up pressing in to the foot. It hurts especially at home when I am barefoot. So I sit down and the doctor walks in and immediately says it is a corn. Then she proceeds to tell me that corns come from improper support of the feet, oftentimes because the shoe itself is not cushioned. Doh! So all the running with a cheap throw away shoe and all the working, 8 hours a day, on a cheap throw away pair of shoes, grew a corn that hurts to walk on.

Who knew it would have that kind of effect? I should have guessed, but I didn't think it would be that drastic. The difference a shoe makes. Invest properly and spend the money for a good pair of shoes. I will never go back now...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shall I try this running thing again?

Strangely conflicting feelings. I miss running. A lot. The sheer joy of finishing a marathon or 50k. The sense of accomplishment. And yet I am also content not running at all, virtually. Strange feelings are a brew.

It all started with the new job. Waking up so early and being so tired by the time I finish my day. I have good intentions. Go home, change, run, come home and eat and feel good. That is what running always does for me. Finish a run and you feel revived. And yet the minute I get in the car to drive home from work, or sit down for a minute, I lose all motivation. It happens. I'll have to change that.

The last marathon I ran was at the end of October. Ran two that month. I've hardly ran at all, some months no running at all. This month only 6 miles. I know I am not in shape to run a marathon the way that I want to run. But it was a marathon that kick started me in the beginning, my first marathon, the one I ran with zero training, repeat zero, and then got me in to running whole heartedly back at SF in 2006. So why not try the trick again? I know I am in better shape then I was then. I mean I am almost 30 pounds lighter now than I was then.

So I signed up for the Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon, one I ran last year, my second fastest ever. No illusions. Figure, since it is 13.1 up and then 13.1 down, it will be tough. But I like the concept of knowing that I have to get to the turn around point to come back. That was my problem with the Sequoia 50k that I dropped to 30k earlier in the year. It was a loop course and I had an excuse to drop because my car was right there. Not this one. So I bit the bullet. Will train some hopefully, putting in a decent amount of miles the rest of the month. At worse, I jog walk a beautiful race in Aptos, getting a full days worth of exercise.

And of course the great high I usually get after finishing that oh so coveted distance of 26.2.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Reason to Run

There are numerous reasons why I love running. My favorite, though, is the tired feeling in my legs and, more importantly, the soreness that invariably comes with it. Why, you might ask? Cause the soreness tells me I'm alive, tells me that I've done something. I absolutely love feeling sore as I sit here, flex my muscles and feel them pull in, warming up. I think this is partly why I haven't gone to the gym too often lately, because I've plateaued and mymuscles are no longer becoming sore. Anyway, love this feeling. Where others dread being sore, I relish in it. Love this feeling.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slipin and Slidin at the Sequoia 30k

I had high hopes for my first ultra of the year. I think the problem was that I set them too high considering the minimal training that I have done in the past few months. This doesn't mean that I fully expected to finish, but I at least hoped.

Sequoia Trail Run 30k - 3:58:47 (12:50 pace; 74/100)

I waited all week with trepidation, watching the forecasts predict rain. With each passing day the weather got better and better, until it suddenly said no rain all week except on Saturday. Weather held over. It did not rain all week nor on Saturday. I would be running. I felt good the night before and the drive over, but as soon as I stepped up to the start line the doubt stepped in.

I'd never been to the Jaoquin Miller State Park. I was floored by what I was seeing. I mean, this is Oakland. A rough and tumble city with a high crime rate. One you wouldn't imagine having huge towering trees, among them Redwoods and Eucalyptus. The start itself was in a little meadow tucked away by the Chabot Space and Science Center. The course went up hill immediately, running through redwoods. Two steep ascents and about 3 miles later we came to an opening checkered with grass and a smattering of trees. To this point I was already doubting myself. I was tired and it had taken me 36 minutes to run 3 miles. Aside from all that my quads were burning and fading fast. But the weather was perfect. A cool middle 50s. Here was part of the problem: mud.

We were slippin' and slidin' at some parts, jumping babbling creeks and brooks. One time I didn't jump quite far enough and my foot slipped into the water. It was that type of day. It wasn't all bad, there were stretches were the mud gave way to roots and rocks, some hard packed dirt. But more often than not I was picking my way gingerly through and past mud.

Anyway, after mile 3 we came to some rolling hills and I was able to open up some. Running was enjoyable. My legs started recovering from the opening 3 mile ascent. We came to the ridge where the weather became warmer and the tree trapped coolness dissipated. I steep descent dropped us over the other side as we hopped and bounced past mud. Eventually it flattened out and dropped us into another park entrance where we came to a turn around point and an aid station. I did not envy the next part, because now we had to turn around and go back up the long steep ascent. By the time I got up there I was beat down and tired. I had already made the decision to stop at the 30k finish, which always plays tricks with my eating and drinking.

I wasn't doing much of either. My legs were already exhausted, but the depleted electrolytes and no calorie intake was starting to make my calves cramp. A quick 200 calorie snack and some electrolyte pills began to take some of the discomfort away as I slowly walked up the long ascent. By now we were traversing along a ridge and the weather had warmed up as we lost the cover of trees. Huge mud puddles spanned the whole fire road and I had to rough it through the bushes to get through, even still having to walk through a ton of mud. After roughin' it we finally came to some downhill, the final descent back to the finish. I had just barely came in under 4 hours and was exhausted and sore. Oh, and there was over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

When all is said and done I realized that I am a horrible mud runner. Where others charge through it, I slow down and gingerly pick my way through it all. Mud is not my friend. And the obvious, of course, is that I need more training. Whereas before my muscle strength in my legs held me up and my endurance slowed me, now the lack of training has lessened my quad strength and my endurance was going strong. It was a great day in the park despite my exhaustion. I hoped for a 50k finish, but a birthday run in the park is well worth it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Running On Cloud Nine

I haven't ran double digit miles since the last week of October. In fact the longest run was a 6.2 mile run last weekend. I knew that I had to A) get a double digit run in before the 50k, and B) run in the hills with double digits in order to simulate the 50k conditions.

I've always felt that all the conditioning a runner needs in order to be able to complete a marathon or 50k is to be able to run 12-13 miles in similar conditions to the intended race (i.e. road for a road marathon, hills for a trail marathon or 50k). Anything beyond 12-13 is all heart and your ability to be on your feet for that long. Not too mention that any running beyond 12-13 is where you would improve your time. But all you need is 12-13. So I knew I had to run at least 12 in the mountains today.

So I turned to my favorite hill running place cause it has some long hills, steep inclines, gradual climbs and so on. It has it all. So off to Lexington Dam I went. At first I thought I was screwed for next weekend, but then things fell in to place.

First Lap - 4 miles (41 minutes)

The first lap starts at the dam parking lot and goes immediately up a very steep hill. I decided for some idiotic reason to run the first hill, which is about a quarter mile long, and then cruise down the hill for the next 1.75 miles. Huge mistake. My body isn't used to that type of running so I was dead tired after only .25 in to my intended 12 mile run. My saliva was thick, I was breathing heavy and my legs were heavy. I already started questioning myself and thinking maybe I should only do one loop and call it a day. I felt like this for the first 2.5 miles despite all down hill after the first steep hill. How could I possibly consider a trail 50k if I could barely complete a 4 mile trail run?

Things improved drastically. My breathing came under control, a little water helped my saliva and the gradual uphill stretched my legs out. When all was said and done I ran it in 41 minutes. No too bad. I was rejuvenated.

Lap Two - 4 miles (42 minutes)

Lap two is arguably harder than lap 1 because the uphill, though not as steep, stretches for over a mile. So after I turned around and ran down the dam, doing the previous loop in reverse, I was able to make up some good time. I eventually got to the top of the hill and knew that I would easily be able to run a third lap. I came in at 42 minutes, which shocked me. A harder loop and yet I ran it almost the same. In fact I don't think I have ever ran this loop this fast.

Lap 3 - 4 miles (42 minutes)

After I reached the dam again I turned around and repeated lap 1. This time, however, I was not going to repeat lap 1's mistake. I walked the whole first quarter mile. Got to the top and cruised down, feeling great as I opened up and ran downhill fast than I had all day. I eventually took the long and gradual climb back up the dam, walking a couple of steeps, before coming in to the car in just under 2:06, or a 42 minute third lap.

I couldn't believe that I had ran such consistent laps, something I have never been able to do here. I've ran these loops a lot and always tired and ran a much slower lap. In fact I have only ran the three loop combo once and that was at the prime of my running last year. I ran it today 7 minutes faster.

I think that I will be able to complete the 50k. Maybe not my best, but I know I can complete it. Only problem is that it is supposed to rain all week, including Friday night and some on Saturday. If this happens will I have to bow out? I don't think I want to run a 50k in mud and rain. I guess play it by ear, but it isn't looking too good. But that doesn't take away from my absolutely great run today...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Running the Valentine 10k For My Heart

I had one goal coming in to this 10k, which stemmed from how my training had been going: run a sub 50 minute. I didn't meet the goal in one way, but I did in another.

Valentine Fun Run 10k - 50:31 (8:09 pace; 94/459)

Last year this time I was 10 pounds lighter and ran my fastest 10k ever at this very same race. I had no misguided hopes of repeating last year. In fact I didn't even think I would come close to that time. With no running in November and December I had to wait until today before I could even begin thinking about running a race again, using January and the first half of February to train some. Even that was few and far between as I am still adjusting to the new job with earlier hours on top of trying to regain some of the endurance of last year. It will be tough, as it was when I originally started running in July of 2006, but I believe in muscle memory.

So I looked forward to this race, my first of the year and the one that will kick start my season to regain my fitness. So when I saw rain all day Thursday and Friday I began to wonder if I would run at all. I hadn't paid the entry fee yet, so I didn't have that monkey on my back, so I could have not ran if it rained. I played it by ear and woke up early. Listened for rain. Didn’t hear any. Peaked outside and saw the blue skies in between dark clouds. I would be running.

I set off for Campbell which is a short hop, skip and a jump away while I munched on a banana. As I pinned my bib number on I began to get the nervous flutters of an approaching race as the people milled around me. I haven't had that feeling for a long time. Felt good. So we lined up on the muddy grass and the horn went off just a little after 9. And muddy grass it was.

The lead gazelles took off while the rest of us gingerly ran through the dirty water and mud flying around before finally reaching the paved bike path and speeding up. Right away I knew I was probably running too fast. Recently I've found that if I start slow then I can gradually speed up and achieve the time I want and feel better doing it, whereas last year I could start off fast and do better even though I suffered towards the end. So when I ran the first mile in 7:27 I felt a little dismayed shortly before I realized that my legs were already starting to feel heavy.

I slowed it down some and pushed it to an 8:10 mile 2, but I think the damage was done. I was feeling tired and didn't really feel like pushing myself harder. Shortly before we reached the turn around the 2 lead runners came over the slight incline at a sprint, well ahead of the 3rd place runner. I trudged on, taking walking breaks to try and let my legs catch up to my lungs. When I hit mile 3 at 8:59 I knew I had to fix something or I would completely poop out. I started taking more regular walk breaks to let the muscles relax and the lungs slow down. This seemed to be doing the trick as mile 4 came in around 8:30. Still not great, but I was getting there.

At mile 5 I began to feel my juices return to my muscles, began to feel the discomfort lessen as I eased into my running. Mile 5 was around 8:18. All of a sudden the clouds parted, the sun shown down and the heavens sang to me as running became easy. I was cruising along at an easy gait, knowing that this type of running feels really good. Mile 6 came in around 7:57 and I kept speeding up, zooming in to the finish line just barely missing my main goal of a sub 50 min by 28 seconds.

I didn't really care though 'cause I felt good at the end. I took a lot of walk breaks, around 15 judging by the pace spikes in my Garmin software, and I was still able to run an 8:09 pace. So my speed is almost there, and my endurance is slowly catching up. But I didn't care. My ultimate goal was to run the 10k at a faster pace than my most recent 6 miler. This would show some improvement. So far I have ran 4 six milers this year (counting this 10k) and every single one was faster than the one previous. My last 6 miler was run at an 8:17 pace and came in at 49:44, thus the reason I was shooting for a sub 50. But ultimately it is my pace that matters, and not the time, since there is an extra .2 miles. So I have improved again, running an 8:08 pace, and proving to myself that I can get back in to shape.

Anyway, here's to always trying to stay in shape and remain healthy. I lost my way for a couple of months, but I am back. In fact I am forcing myself to train for a 50k that is in 2 weeks! A b-day present to myself as it will be the last day to run a 50k aged 31.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2009 Race Schedule

Not sure if I am being too ambitious. Not because of the number of marathons and 50ks I want to aim for, around 7. After all, I ran 9 marathons and 50ks last year. No, I might be a bit too ambitious because my training is essentially starting pretty much fresh. I ran 6 miles last Wednesday much faster than I thought I could after not running for 3 months, and then again 4 miles on Thursday. So I have some base and foundation still there, but I have certainly lost some of the training. I started by wanting to run a race on my birthday weekend. Last year I ran the Napa Marathon. This year the Sequoia 50k the day before my b-day is the winner. That being said, that is in a little less than a month in a half, so a training I will have to do. That being said, if I am successful than I will have my base and foundation back and thus be able to finish out the year. So it all hinges on Feb. 28th in Oakland. Here's to ambitious schedules:

2/14 Valentine Fun Run 10k
2/29 Sequoia Trail Run 50k
4/18 Ruth Anderson 50k
5/9 Quicksilver 50k
6/6 Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon
7/26 The San Francisco Marathon
8/22 iWalk Half Marathon
9/13 Stevens Creek 50k
9/27 Almaden Times Classic 10k
10/4 Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon
10/17 Oktoberfest 5k
10/25 Silicon Valley Marathon
11/26 Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Banner Year in 2008

The year was a good one, and then it ended not so good. Strange to have such a range of performance. At the end of June I pulled a muscle, then there were wild fires throughout California that prevented running, then I was sick, then more smoke and heat... Suffice it to say I ended up taking a forced break to heal the pulled muscle, which seemed to be extended for the rest of the year. The last half of the year the bulk of all my running was done at races, with next to zero training. I finished 2 more marathons and a 50k, and the results showed the lack of training, although I still had enough of a base to perform decently, with my third fastest marathon being my second to last marathon of the year in Sacramento at the Cowtown Marathon.

Some quick facts:

Marathon - I ran 6 marathons (both trail and road) in 2008. Of those 6 I had my 3 fastests marathons ever out of 9, with my fastest in Napa with a 3:53, my second fastest at the Forest of Nisene Marks with a 4:07 and my third fastest at the Cowtown with a 4:34.

50k - Of the 6 career 50ks I've ran, I ran 3 of them in 2008. My fastest ever 50k was ran in 2008 at the Ruth Anderson 50k in San Francisco with a 5:47, and my third fastest at Quicksilver with a 6:16.

Half Marathon - I certainly didn't run that many stand alone half marathons this year, only 1, but my half marathon performance in the marathons I ran were pretty good. I ran a 1:47 first half at Napa in March, which was the fastest I've ever ran that distance. The only stand alone halfer I did was the iWalk and that too was my third fastest ever (out of 7).

10k - Likewise I only ran 2 10ks in 2008. These couldn't have been on further sides of the performance scale. The first I ran in February was my fastest ever at 46:30, but then the 10k I ran in September, a week after I ran a 50k, was the slowest I have ever ran that distance out of 8 total. Strange.

Suffice it to say, I definitely paid more attention to the longer runs in 2008, which showed as I sacrificed speed for endurance, but that didn't prevent from setting PRs in all but 1 of the distances this year.

With 6 marathons and 3 50ks, I definitely ran my fair share of the longer distances, with 9 of the 15 marathon or longer distances in 2008. But I attempted other races, which also gave me a couple of other firsts. My first unofficial DNF came at the Pacifica 50k in January, which I ended up stopping at the 30k finish. Luckily for me they allow your time to count for that distance, and thus the unofficial disclaimer. Not enough calorie intake was the cause of that one. I also was going to attempt 50 miles at Ruth Anderson, but the way that one is set up is that you choose the distance you want to run as you are running, between 50k, 50m and 100k. Wind gusts of 50 mph were enough to stop me at the 50k distance. And finally, my first DNF at Quicksilver. I signed up for the 50m distance, and pulled out at the 50k finish. Quad busting hills from 29-31 were enough to convince me to pull out, although hindsight showed me that if I pushed on I would have easily finished. Oh well.

All in all, a banner year that was clouded at the end. To make matters worse, I have only ran a little over 2 miles in over 2 1/2 months and have slowly fallen out of shape. New job, earlier hours, heat and cold helped my lazy side win out. But not for long. I certainly don't plan to run as many marathons and 50ks in 2009, but I am hoping (so far) to train and be ready for at least 3 marathons (San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Nisene Marks) and 3 50ks (Ruth Anderson, Quicksilver and Stevens Creek) with possibly some others thrown in, depending how my training and conditioning progresses. It will be tough, but I can't wait to get back in to the swing of things, as an 18.5 mile bike ride today showed me what I have been missing.

To all I hope 2009 will be a productive and fruitful year for you.