Sunday, March 25, 2007

Need for Speed IV: 5k Edition

Saturday was the Food and Fitness 5k in East Lansing. I used this as my weekly speed work-out hence the title of this post.

It was a pretty exciting morning for us. My daughter was running her first organized race ever - a 100 yard dash. My son was participating in the 1/2 mile race. He has plans for his first 5k later this summer.

My daughter was incredibly excited all week. She was convinced that she was going to win her race. We tried to temper her expectations without dousing her competitive spirit but this was a losing proposition. She's bullheaded and she had no other expectation except to win.

Which lead to a major disappointment and a weekend lost to trying to reflate the ego.

But first things first. Here we are "warming up" for our big race.

She confidently strode to the start line even waving off my offer to run with her like the other parents were doing with their kids.

After a brief delay, the horn sounded and they were off. That's when disaster struck. She took a few strides and then paused a moment unsure if she should go or not (I chalk this up to first race jitters and, of course, age). This pause led to a child behind her running up the back of her leg. You can see the incident captured on film below. Note her left leg turned awkwardly. This was the beginning of the fall that ended with 3 kids lying in a heap on the concrete.

At this point, my daughter became immediately discouraged. Tears were shed, knees were scraped, clothes were wet and she wanted to quit. After some encouragement, she rose again and took off like a shot passing many of the kids who had streamed by her as she lay confused and disappointed on the ground. In the end, she made her way close to the front but, alas, did not win.

Post-race, she was very discouraged. My wife and I spent the rest of the day on Saturday convincing her that this was just a one time fluke and that her next race would go much smoother. God help us, I hope we don't end up looking like liars!

Meanwhile, my son completed the 1/2 mile run intact with no spills, scrapes or tears. He finished 3rd and was very pleased with himself. The kids who beat him were at least a year or two older. He's looking forward to running a 5k now.

As for me, the 5k was an enjoyable experience. It has been since July 2004 that I last ran a race at this distance. I was hoping to do 6:45 per mile and beat 20:50 overall. In the end, I surpassed each of those goals.

Mile 1 was flat and fast. I tried to get out quick in front of the throngs of people to create a little separation before pulling back a little. Mile 2 was a mix of flat sidewalk and a 1/2 mile jaunt up a gently sloping off road trail. I have to say, it was a lot of fun jumping over roots and swerving past leaning branches. Mile 3 was, basically, on the same sidewalk as Mile 1 as this was a down and back course. I was getting pretty winded at about 2.25 miles but just kept my eyes on the small group of people about 15 seconds ahead of me and tried to gain ground. Ultimately, I could not catch the group in front of me but I think they kept my mind preoccupied enough and legs turning quickly to end the race at a good pace.

It once took me 3 years of trying to beat 20 minutes at this distance. When I finally did, I never ran a 5k again until Saturday. I am very pleased to come in at 19:53. I never expected to challenge the 20 minute mark on this day considering I do very little training suitable for this distance. The long distance runs have helped. Three miles seems like nothing anymore.

Mile 1 6:14
Mile 2 6:28
Mile 3 6:30
.11 miles 41 seconds

Here is the three of us after our respective races...pleased and wearing our bling.

We're number 2!! We're number 2!!

That is, I finished 2nd in my age group and 28th overall of 641 finishers. I suspect this race isn't very popular for the top runners considering those results. Anyhow, it netted me a decent little silver medal to bury away in my bedroom drawer. Cool.

Sunday: An easy 11 miler at 7:40 pace.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Family on the Run

I skipped my weekly Tuesday speed work-out in anticipation of running my first 5k since July 2004. I can't believe it has been that long since I did a 5k! I get all wrapped up in my next goal (running a 15k....then running a marathon...then trying to BQ) that I completely tune out other races.

So, this Saturday I'll be participating in East Lansing's Food and Fitness 5k.

Also, my nine year old son will be in the 1/2 mile run.

And my five year old daughter will be doing the 100 yard dash.

This race is a total bargain as well. For me, $18 entry fee gets you a Brooks technical running shirt, post-race feast (this is sponsored by the Lansing Dietetic Association after all) and a finishers medal. For the kids, $5 each gets them a t-shirt and a finishers medal.

It should be fun. Wife will be there taking pictures. Maybe I'll actually post some photos afterwards.

I'm not expecting to set any PR or anything for this distance. In fact, I'd be happy with anything below 21 minutes. I'd like to average 6:45 per mile if possible. We'll see if the legs have that in them any longer.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Getting to Know Garmin

Thanks again to the wife for the Garmin. I'm a huge stat geek (during the season, ask me any Detroit Tiger batting average, HR, RBI and I'll spit it out at you). We just got a new laptop at home so I finally loaded up the Garmin software and imported the history training. Charts, graphs, stats...woo-wee, I love it.

I've been trying to figure out how to load the data onto the blog. It seems like you have to go through an intermediary of some sort to take it from your laptop into a training tool...something through or, etc. Not sure how to do this yet. So far, clip/paste doesn't seem to format correctly. I think I need the html code to plug in for the charts.

Also, I'm not sure what happens if Garmin runs into a signal interference? Anyone have that happen? Does it shut down...or pause and resume when a signal is relocated? During this time, does it ignore your run progress...or catch-up by calculating time and distance since the interference? I'm not sure I've ever had any problems with signal before...just wondering what would happen if I did.

Sunday's long run was a total blast. Probably my best run ever. Make no mistake, I'm paying for it a bit today in the form of sore hips and tight calves but, overall, not too bad. Again, I had no intention of pushing speed on a 15 mile weekly long run. Really, it just happened. I'll have to make sure I pull back a bit for the next few weeks to avoid burn-out. I'm really pleased and surprised at the pace I maintained. A BQ at Bayshore no longer seems completely out of the question. Still, not probable, but within the realm of possibility. Dare to dream.

15 miles
1:50:02 time
7:20 pace

If I break this down to 3 five mile groups, each group was progressively faster:

Mile 1-5: 7:27 pace
Mile 6-10: 7:21 pace
Mile 11-15: 7:12 pace

Mile 14 clocked in at 6:37!! If this is accurate and Garmin didn't have some sort of glitch, this would be my fastest mile for 2007.

It was just one of those days. I felt like I was going quicker than normal. Everything was working very smoothly and comfortably. Time to pull back a bit and finally run the relaxed pace I've been promising.

Fortunately, this is a step back week on the training plan. I think I'll need it.

Friday, March 16, 2007



Back to Chicago for the 30th anniversary of the Chicago Marathon. This decision was easy. I love the city. I loved the marathon. 30th anniversary. I know some people already registered and another friend of mine will soon be registering.
I couldn't miss this one.
That completes my marathon registrations for the year (technically Disney is 2008 but since all the training for it will take place in 2007, it counts for this year).

I see that Dean Karnazes will be at the Chicago registration expo. His Ultramarathon Man book was really an interesting, exciting read. I've adopted his "Embrace the pain" motto for my own, comparatively minor, struggles during a difficult run. For me, it actually does work. By repeating this phrase through my head, my attitude changes positively when I encounter a stretch where I feel like stopping or slowing way down.

See you in Chicago!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Need for Speed III

Yesterday's speed work yielded mixed results. The weather: Fantastic. 74 degrees! hats, gloves, or running jackets. Nice.

However, I was breaking in a new pair of shoes. I knew better than to break them in during intense running but I'm not that bright. Basically, I said, 'This is going to hurt' and took them out of the box, clipped the tags, put them on, and took off.

After mile 2, I needed a 15 second rest. I even stopped the Garmin clock during this time. I felt like I had flipper's on my feet. After mile 3, I slowed to a crawl for another 15 seconds before sucking it back up and resuming a decent pace for the final 2 miles.

Funny thing I've notice about myself - not sure if anyone else has noticed this about themselves - but, if I go out too fast and get really run down quickly, I find that if I just take a quick break...walk for a few seconds, stop and rest for a few seconds, take a quick drink of water, body seems to reset entirely and I can get right back going with little sign of the previous fatigue. It's like my cardiovascular is just a step behind my legs and needs to "catch up". Once it does, I can get back rolling again. Weird. Probably has something to do with lactic acid levels or something.

The result of this work-out indicates I'm still not able to maintain a consistent speed. I did record my single best mile of the year so far but dropped every mile thereafter. My focus is to maintain speed across 3 miles before stepping back a bit for miles 4 and 5. Still a work in progress.

The numbers:

5.02 miles
34:40 time
6:54 pace

Mile 1 6:38 *Best Mile in 2007
Mile 2 6:49
Mile 3 6:54
Mile 4 7:17 * Mile 4 is always my worst
Mile 5 6:52* Mile 5 is always faster than 4. Running to the finish harder?

Overall, I obtained my stated goal of 5 miles in under 35 minutes. Next up, how about 3 miles at a consistent 6:45 pace or less?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Two Problems = Great Run

This morning I tackled my longest run since last October during the Chicago marathon. I was pretty excited about getting out there. Usually, Sunday is my long run day but after taking one look at the morning weather (50 degrees and sunny) I decided today was the day.

The melting snow created some small pools causing some side to side dodging. Every now and then, a foot would get sucked into a mud pit and escape with a sucking sound. I probably should have splashed through the puddles instead. I came back covered in mud below the knee with my previously white socks a new shade of brown.

But it was a beautiful day....which leads me to my only two problems with this LR:

1) I wore too many layers. I was sweating like a madman. Probably had one too many shirts on. And the Adidas wind pants were questionable. I probably should have gone with shorts. Hard to break the winter habit though. I was dripping with sweat and mud and the layers felt like they were dragging me down by the end.

2) I went out too fast. Not on purpose; it was just such a great day. I had no idea how fast I was going and didn't bother to look at Garmin. The last 4 miles were a bit torturous as a result.

Ahhh, Spring has SPRUNG!! Has it not?

The numbers:

14.1 miles
1:47:31 time
7:37 per mile

My first several miles were all under was the 11th mile for some reason. I was pretty whipped by the end though. It wasn't a comforting thought to consider I have to average 7:30 per mile for 26.2 to BQ. Ugh. A ways to go.

Still, a great day. A great run. All hail King Spring!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Need for Speed II

I'm going to continue posting and tracking my speed training so I can keep track and, hopefully, note progress. Again, due to the weather, I was unable to use the local high school track. My course took me around the neighborhood across the street from mine 3x and then once around my 'hood arriving back in my driveway after 4.32 miles.

During each mile, I maintained a steady, brisk - but not a pushed - pace for about a 1/2 mile and then a 1/2 mile of hard effort. The first two miles were manageable. I really started to wear down during the third mile. I found little extra energy to pick up and maintain much of a pace during the 3rd pick-up.

4.32 miles
29:53 time
6:55 per mile

Mile 1: 6:41
Mile 2: 6:44
Mile 3: 6:55
Mile 4: 7:20
.32 mile: 7:00 pace

Not as consistent across all 4 miles as my first effort but, overall, a better pace. Next week, I'll up the total distance to around 5 miles and see if I can still maintain an overall pace of 7 minutes or less.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A new PR.....

...for my friend Phil who completed the Little Rock Marathon this past weekend. Congratulations go to him. Despite the challenging head winds and rolling hills in the middle of the course, he was able to set a new PR at 4:02. That's marathon number 5 for him! I take some pride in his accomplishments because I *ahem* was the person who challenged him to run in the first place. He trained for the Cherry Festival 5k and ran with me in his first race in 2003. Then, he pushed me to tackle my first marathon last year.

I scratched out 12.5 miles on Sunday once again laboring under the multiple layers and wind chill. I'm ready for spring now. Like right now...this instant. Enough already.

I completed Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and, coincidentally, watched the same titled movie that was just released to DVD. The film tried to cram too many political messages into an hour and 45 minutes. I'm all for political or social commentary in a film but it needs to be focused and defined. The movie tried to throw all the subjects covered by the book onto the screen and didn't expand or follow through on most of them. So they just slid to the floor with a KERPLOP! Still, I'd grade it a B and recommend it as at least worth a look.

I'm quite a ways into Karnazes' Ultramarathon Man. Some could see it as an exercise of a man patting himself on the back publicly. When you've accomplished this much, I think there is some room to brag. And it makes for a pretty good story also. I can already see the movie.....someone has it in production don't they?