Thursday, December 30, 2010

The break continues

3D model of an influenza virus.Image via Wikipedia
Mug shot of Mr. Flu Cell
Got in to see the doc yesterday. It's either the flu or laryngitis (or both). And it's the reason I've now gone a complete week without running an inch. I did, however, wake up this morning feeling a slight (very slight) bit better, so maybe I've turned the corner on this thing.

I wrote last week that I don't let it bother me when I miss a run. Well, missing a week of runs does bother me. But I'm trying to stay positive. The mere fact that it bothers me to miss a week of running shows how far I've come over the past year. Because a year ago, missing a week of running was the norm; now it bugs me.

Also, on another positive note, I have already exceeded my total mileage goal for 2010. So maybe I'm due for a break, right?

Anyway, so I'm hoping that I have turned the corner on this thing, and that I'll be back out on the street pounding the pavement soon - maybe today.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Break

cloudyImage by Gilbert R. via Flickr
The past several days have been somewhat of an unscheduled break from running. Last week I wrote about how I was feeling slow during my runs - like my energy level was declining. Whatever was causing that decline finally came on full force last Friday morning. I've had zero energy, cloudy/congested head, etc. I go to see the Dr tomorrow a.m. Hopefully this will pass soon.

On a brighter note, I got a sweet deal on some new Asics 2150's. They are on clearance right now because the new 2160's just came out. My old 2150's have been great, so I'm pretty happy about getting such a good deal on these new ones. I also got some cool reflective gear for Christmas - a lightweight vest and a knit cap that has a reflective band. I run at night most of the time. A good reflective vest is long overdue.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Catching up

A forest trail running along the top of an esk...Image via Wikipedia
Just a random nice picture.
Not really related to this post.
It's been about a week since I've written about my running, so this is a quick catch-up of what I've been up to for the past week.

Last week:
Monday was a scheduled rest day.

Tuesday and Thursday were the same - Yoga meltdown followed by an easy 3-miler ... or I should say a 3 mile run at my "easy" pace. I really should start calling it something else, because it's not always easy, especially right after the yoga meltdown workout.

Wednesday was 6x400m intervals. This was my first time back to the track in several weeks, so I wasn't sure what to expect. By the second interval I was doubting whether I had it in me to finish all six. But I took it one interval at a time, and did much better than I expected. My goal was 1:45 to 1:50 per interval. My splits were 1:50, 1:49, 1:46, 1:44, 1:43, 1:39 - right on target!

Friday was another scheduled rest day.

Saturday was a 4 mile run at easy pace. This one was a bit of a struggle. My energy level was pretty low, I think I was getting a touch of whatever it was that was making the rounds in our family last week. But I still managed to average a 9:19 pace, just a bit faster than the 9:30 goal.

Sunday was *supposed* to be a 6 mile run at an easy pace. It didn't happen. I just really wasn't feeling well, and I knew I just didn't have it in me. I don't like to miss a run, but I've learned to just let it go and move on. I'm not a professional athlete, and it's not like I'm training for the Olympics here. Things happen, and sometimes runs get missed. I just move on to the next workout on the list. In the big scheme of things, one run won't matter that much.

This week:
Monday was a scheduled rest day.

Tuesday (last night) - yoga meltdown, then 3 mile run at easy pace. The yoga meltdown is still very challenging for me. But last night I detected just a hint of progress. I think it may be getting just a bit easier to keep up. But running after that workout, even at an "easy" pace, is still not easy. I have not looked closely at last night's run yet, but I think I averaged about a 9:15 pace. My Garmin kept reporting some crazy paces during my run, making it hard to know how I was actually doing. The pace would swing from 8:30 to 10 to various paces in between while I felt like I was keeping a pretty steady pace. I'm used to the instant pace being a bit behind and inaccurate, but it's not usually that erratic.

That catches me up to today. Tonight I have a tempo run on the schedule. Good times.


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Foto Friday

I started here - Aug. '09:

Then I spent the past 12 months doing this:

And now 75lbs lighter - Dec. '10:


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garmin gremlins

GremlinImage by clumsy_juggler via Flickr
The mischievous little creature kind of Gremlin,
not the car kind of Gremlin.
It seems that the gremlins have been busy around our house this past month. We've had plumbing issues, a broken cabinet door, a broken garage door, and now my Garmin 305 is acting up as well. My Garmin is one of my most, if not the most, favorite pieces of running gear. So I've been very anxious to get it working again.

My Garmin problems started a few days ago, when I couldn't get it to turn on as I was heading out for a run. This has actually happened once before, so I knew to do a soft reset (hold lap + mode, then press power and all three for a few seconds), and like last time, it came back to life. Then after my run, my Garmin decided that it was no longer on speaking terms with my computer, and refused to upload any data. Plus, I haven't been able to start up my Garmin without doing a soft reset.

So over the past few days, I've done some google research and tried a variety of things to resolve my Garmin issues. I've cleaned the contacts, updated drivers, cleared some of the history, cleared all of the history, etc. Clearing the history helped some. After clearing the history, I was able to upload some data. The time and distance info would show up, but not any of the map data, and also the pace/elevation charts don't appear either.

As a last resort, I did a hard reset, which wipes everything and sets it back to factory settings. I found conflicting information about how exactly to do a factory reset, but this is what actually worked:

1. If the unit is on, do a soft reset (hold lap + mode) to force the unit to power off.
2. Hold down Enter + Mode for a couple of seconds, then quickly press and release the power button while continuing to hold the Enter and Mode buttons for a few more seconds.
3. After releasing the Enter and Mode buttons, your Garmin should power up and go through the start-up screens as if it's a new device.

This procedure really does wipe everything, so be prepared to lose data and settings if you do this. I had already either uploaded or manually entered all of my runs, so I wasn't concerned about losing history. I also wrote down the fields I had set up on each of my screens, so tonight I'll need to set those up again.

I'll find out after tonight's workout if this fixed the problem. However, I was able to start my Garmin without a soft reset, so that's a good sign.


Since doing the factory reset on my Garmin, I've taken it out for two runs and I'm happy to report that all of the problems have gone away! The factory reset seems to have fixed everything.


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting back into 5k mode

I love PR (public relations)Image by DoktorSpinn via Flickr

I'm now officially full-on into 5k training mode. Let the fun begin!

My first workout of the new training program was a 3mi fast run on Saturday. I decided ahead of time on an 8min/mile pace for my fast runs*. This meant completing Saturday's run in 24 minutes. Not an easy task for me, but not impossible either. I'd call it a good challenge - and it didn't disappoint.

I felt pretty good starting out. I checked my pace frequently, trying to get my pace just right. It felt good to be out running such a strong pace - much faster than the 9.5-11min long-run miles I've become accustomed to during the 1/2 marathon training.

Then I got to about the 1/2 mile mark.

And the pain began...this was really going to be a challenge.

I did what I normally do in these situations - I turned up my music in an effort to distance my mind from the pain. That worked pretty well for a while.

Then I got to about the 3/4 mile mark.

Self-doubt started to kick in. I haven't been running fast in a while - had I lost some ability since my 5k PR last October? Have the many long, slow runs robbed me of some ability to go fast on the shorter runs?

I decided I would slow down. Not right away - but up the trail just a bit. The plan had changed - instead of doing three 8min miles, I would use this as an opportunity to see how far I could go at that pace.

So I went another 1/4 mile and finished mile 1.  Time: 7:42. Whew! I was ahead of my goal! So I decided I could back off just a bit and try to hang for at least another half mile. At least make it half-way. Then I could back off and feel good about at least getting to the half way point at my new fast goal pace.

This mind trick kept me going to the 1.5 mile point, then to the 1.75 mile point, then to the 2 mile point... mile 2 time: 8:06. I was slipping just a bit, but still pretty close, and overall still ahead of my target time.

With a mile to go now, I was beginning to feel like I might be able to hang on and finish this run on target. If not, I could at least get really close. This line of reasoning got me through to mile 2.5. Still on pace. Then I got to a pretty good hill. I managed to work my way up the challenging grade at target pace, but I was really hurting at the top.

Fortunately, my effort was rewarded by an equally steep downhill, but it was short-lived.

By mile 2.7 I was really feeling it and really wondering how I managed that sub-25 min 5k last October. Then I hit the wall at mile 2.75. I had to back off. Had to. So I stopped my Garmin and walked for about half a minute. That was all I needed. I decided I could do this last 1/4 mile, I couldn't quit this close to finish. So I started the Garmin again and headed to mile 3... mile 3 time: 8:00 - right on target (well, not counting the short break).

So Saturday's run looked like this**:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 23:48
Ave Pace: 7:55

My second workout was on Sunday.

This session, my long runs are on Sundays. This Sunday was 5 miles. I decided on a 9:30 pace for my long runs*.

I've also decided to really focus more on core/strength training this time around. For now, I'm doing Jillian Michael's "Yoga Meltdown." This is not traditional yoga - it's a combination of aerobic and static exercises, and it's very challenging for me right now. The great thing about it is that it doesn't require any equipment, and it includes alot of core and upper leg work, which is just what I'm wanting to focus on.  I'm doing this workout before my long and easy runs - which means on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

So Sunday would include JM Yoga and then a 5 mile run. I don't really have as much to say about Sunday's workout. The yoga was challenging, but my wife Melody did the yoga workout with me, so it was nice to have a workout partner. By the end of the yoga, I was wondering if I had enough left to complete the 5 mile run. But once I got out on the road, I felt fine and had no problem completing the run.

So Sunday's run looked like this:
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 46:38
Ave Pace: 9:18

That catches me up to today, which is a rest day. I can tell from this weekend's two workouts that I have a challenging six weeks ahead of me!

* The paces were selected with the help of the McMillan running calculator using my last 5k race time.

** If you add in the 20-30 second break, the overall pace slips to about 8:05 - still about on target... unless you also consider that I had my Garmin stopped during the walking bit, so the distance I walked was not part of the 3 miles, so overall distance was more than 3 miles, so... so it's really a bit complicated to figure it all out. I'll just keep it imprecise and say I managed about an 8min pace :)


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Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo Friday

It seems like "photo Friday" is a popular blog topic, so I'm giving it a shot this week.

My favorite part of every race...

is seeing my family after the run...

especially my kids, who are always so proud of their dad, and curious about the race.

It's good to be a runner, but it's great to be a Dad.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Training and Race Schedule Updates

Oscar, running fastImage by soylentgreen23 via Flickr
I've finally settled on a couple of races for early 2011. I'll be doing two 5k's - one on Jan. 22, and another on March 26. This means it's time to get back into some speed training. I've been mostly focusing on endurance the past couple of months, so it will be interesting to see where I'm at with the speed workouts. I'm guessing that I've got some painful workouts in my near future!

I finally updated my calendar on my training schedule page. It now shows my workouts between now and my next race on January 22. My training schedule is based on Hal Higdon's intermediate 5k training program.

I also added a new page for listing my 2011 race schedule. Right now it's a work in progress. I've got a couple of races that are locked in, and several that I'm considering. I'm thinking I'd like to run between 7 and 9 races next year, including at least two half marathons. I'm also strongly leaning towards running my first full marathon next December.  If you know of a great race in the north Texas area that's not on my list, let me know about it!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Team World Vision

I learned a bit more about Team World Vision at the expo last weekend. I had heard of them before because of Ryan Hall's involvement with their program. I've been meaning to look further into it, so I was glad to see their booth at the expo. What I learned is that you can run one of several races around the country, and use that race as an opportunity to raise money for World Vision. They use the money to help provide clean drinking water in Africa. I checked out their website, and I learned that the clean water program is actually only one of many things that World Vision does to help those in need around the world.

So I've decided to get involved with Team World Vision and do at least one fundraiser race for them next year. There are two races that are local - a half marathon in October, and White Rock Marathon next December. I'm thinking I'll do at least the half in October, and maybe White Rock again next December too.

If you can't make one of their listed races, no problem. You can use any race as an opportunity to raise money for World Vision. You just sign up through their "Choose your own event" page, and they set up a free fundraising page for you. 

It's good to run for personal achievements like improved fitness and reaching new time and distance goals. But it really adds so much of a deeper meaning to running when you are doing it to raise money for great causes like this.

If you are at all interested, check out their program at their Team World Vision website (

Also, consider helping me with my fund raising efforts by making a donation to World Vision via my Team World Vision page at


What next?

2010 bib collection
Yesterday's half marathon marks the 6th and final race for me for 2010. My races this year included three 5k's, two 10k's, and a half marathon. I have great memories of all of these races, and I would gladly do any of them again.

So now, with the 2010 race schedule complete, I'm beginning to think more seriously about what to do next. One big reason for this is that my half marathon training program is now complete, so I need a plan for this week! Actually I'm planning to take it easy this week - probably do a few easy 3-5 mile runs. That will give me time to recover from the HM, and time to figure out my next training plan.

One option is to simply do a repeat of this year. It would be fun to re-do each of these races and see how I can improve on the same race, same day. But I think I want to try some new races, so I won't just do complete repeat of this year.

The one race that is a sure thing is Joe's run in March. Joe's run was my first ever race. So I plan on making it an annual tradition to run the Joe's run 5k. They also have a 10k, but I think I'll stick with the 5k event for this one. Aside from that one race, I'm not really decided on whether to repeat any of the other races. There's a good chance that I'll also re-do the Buffalo Boogie. That was a great local event that the kids really enjoyed. I'm also likely to do the Komen 5k again. It's a great cause and an amazing event.

So my mission this week is to put together a training plan for the next 2-3 months. Since Joe's 5k is the next for-sure race, I'm thinking I'll get back into some 5k training - which means more speed work! I may run a 5k in January, sort of as a practice for Joe's run in March, and to keep from having too big of a break between races. If I go too long without a race, my motivation starts to sink. So for 2011, I plan to keep a race on the calendar at least once every two months.

Oh - and there's also that little decision yet to be made about whether to run a full 26.2 next year...


Sunday, December 5, 2010

White Rock Half Marathon

Today I ran my first ever half marathon...

...and I got this cool medal to show for it.

The experience was amazing. I can't wait to do another one.
The day started kind of rough. It's never easy to get up and out of the house before 6AM with three kids. Plus, it was very cold outside - about 35 degrees with wind (the one time the weather forecaster was right, darnit). The race was scheduled to begin at 8AM. We planned to leave by 5:30, actually left some time after 6. At 7:40, when I was supposed to be lining up in my starting corral, I was instead stuck in some major traffic. We finally got within about a mile of the starting line at about 7:55 or so, and so I bailed out of the car and jogged to the start along with several other late arrivers. Fortunately, the race was running late. I ended up having plenty of time to hit the port-o-johns and find my starting corral. I was in starting wave "J" and my wave didn't end up actually starting until about 8:45. So all the stress about running late was for nothing. Plus, the jog to the starting line ended up being a decent warm-up, and so I wasn't too cold waiting for the start.

Waiting in the starting corral was actually kind of fun. There was alot of energy and excitement, and mixed emotions of runners around me, many of whom were first-timers like me. Some were running their first half marathon like me, and others were running their first full marathon. People were really anxious to get going, but were mostly joking about it rather than complaining, which was nice. I guess people were just feeling too excited to complain.

When we finally got up to the starting line, we heard the countdown we had heard many times by then, and then we were off! The first few miles were pretty typical of an early part of a race. Alot of people jockeying for position, and I was focusing on trying to get warmed up and into a groove. And then, miles 4-10 just seemed to tick off more quickly than I could believe. The water stations were every 1.5 miles (and were well-stocked and run by friendly people). It was funny how it seemed like they kept coming up so fast. I would see one and think that they must have worked an extra one in, then I would check my Garmin and be surprised to see that another 1.5 miles had actually already passed. Then the last few miles seemed to drag on. I think because by that point I was more focused on finishing than just running. Finally with about 2 miles to go we merged with the full marathon route (we split from them I think around mile 8), and then mile 13.1 - the finish line! The area around the finish line was really packed with spectators, and there were several giant video screens and music and noise - it was really overwhelming, especially when combined with the emotions of completing the run. It was an experience I just can't describe.

One cool thing  was that at one point near mile 11 I heard a police motorcycle coming up from behind me, pulsing his siren. He passed, and was being followed by another motorcycle that had a rear-facing passenger with a big video camera. Behind them was a woman marathoner running a really fast pace. I'm guessing she may have been the lead female runner. It was kind of cool to be running near such an elite runner, even if only for a moment as she made quick work of passing me and the others around me.

One of the things that struck me about this race was the amount of spectators. I'm used to seeing alot of spectators around the start/finish area, and occasionally I may see some here and there along the course. But this course was pretty well covered from start to finish with spectators. Some stretches were lighter than others, and some spots had some pretty good crowds. But I don't remember ever being in an area where there weren't people watching and cheering us on. That makes such a huge difference, especially when I see kids. It really gives me a boost and lifts my spirits to see people encouraging us on. I wonder if most of them realize how much runners appreciate them. I also love it when I see a kid reaching out for a high-five. I always try to get over and oblige. I gave about a half-dozen of them today.

So looking back, I think I will definitely do another half. I'm not sure about doing a full marathon, but I suspect I probably will at some point. I realize now that it's not so much the race itself that's the challenge - it's the weeks and months of training that allow you to finish the race that is the challenge. And while the weekly long runs might sometimes seem like a grind, it is so worth it on race day to be able to go out and spend a couple of hours with several thousand others on a nice run for a good cause and having a great time.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The night before

The race shirt and bib
Just a few thoughts the night before my first half marathon.

This might be the most relaxed I've been before a race. I think it's because my recent leg/knee pains caused me to back off my training the past couple of weeks, so I've also backed off my goals for this race. I was thinking of trying to come in under 2 hours, but I doubt that I have the stamina for that right now. So I'm really just going into this race tomorrow with the idea of taking it easy and just enjoying it. No matter what, it's an automatic PR, right?

But, I do still have a few time goals in mind:

Easiest goal: 2:24:00 - I feel like I should be fully capable of finishing under 2:24, which is about an 11min pace.

Mid-level goal: 2:17:00 - About where I expect to finish, with an average of about a 10:30 pace.

Hardest goal: 2:11:00 - Averaging 10min/mile - a good effort for a race that I'm planning to take easy.

Another positive is that my leg pain has just about gone away. I got to talk to a sports medicine doctor at the expo today. He seemed to think it was tendonitis and gave me some good tips for stretching and strength exercises, and recommended post-run stretching (4-5min) and icing (no more than 15 min). He also thought my new shoes might be the culprit. It's disappointing, because I really like those shoes.

The only thing causing some anxiety at the moment is the weather forecast for tomorrow morning - 35 degrees and 10-15mph winds, making it feel like 30 degrees. It's hard to dress for this temperature range. I know I'll be freezing at the start and sweating by mile 4. My plan is to layer - two shirts, short sleeve under long sleeve, and a zip-up sweat shirt hoodie as a third layer that I can ditch along the run if I get too hot. I'll also have long compression pants under shorts, a knit cap, and gloves. I'll probably be out of the gloves and hat by mile 8. The gloves are too nice to ditch, so they'll go in pockets. The hat might get ditched, so I'll pick one that I don't mind parting with.

So that 's it for now. Being at the expo today really got me mentally ready to run. Can't wait to run this thing tomorrow!