Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Run: 12/25

I decided that I needed to go for a run because we were going to get hit with a big snow storm that night and Raleigh does not react well to snow.  I wasn't sure how long it would be before I could get to the gym.  After Hiro and I exchanged presents and had breakfast, I decide to go for another art park run.  I am really grad that I did because this was a very good run for me.  I felt really strong throughout the run and got stronger as the run went on.  There were a few people on the greenway, but fewer than normal.  It was pretty cold and I think that most people thought that I was crazy to still be wearing shorts when the temp was in the low 30's.  However, I didn't feel it at all after the first half mile.  Also, I got a new running jacket that is water proof.  The Nike Storm Fit-1.  After one run I could tell that I made a good choice because even though it was light weight I still felt warm on a chilly day.  After I use it some more, I may do a product review, but so far so good.

As for the run, it was like a Christmas gift to myself!  I ran strong the entire way and kept thinking that I was running too fast and would run out of gas at the end but it never happened.

Mile 1: 9:24.39
Mile 2: 9:58.39
Mile 3: 9:30.24
Mile 4: 9:32.25
Mile 5: 9:17.96
Last .37: 8:28 pace

Not really sure what brought on such a strong run, but I am really have that it happened.

Dec. 24th: Quick Run to the Gym Before Shopping.

I am not usually one of those last minute shoppers when it come to Christmas gifts, but I was this year because I knew what I wanted to get Hiroko and didn't want her to know about it before hand.  So, I did a quick workout before my shopping.  I ran 1.67 to the gym then ran 1.5 on the treadmill and then did some abs, a little leg work, and that was all she wrote for this workout.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sports Conditioning: Dec. 22st

I went to my first morning workout class in a long time and could feel the difference in my conditioning.  I got up and ran the 1.67 miles to the gym, which was a good warm up.  Then when I arrived I took the Morning sports conditioning class.  They were doing a 12 days of Christmas workout, which is one of my favorite workout.  However, it is kind of difficult for your first day back and involves running a lot of stairs, which I am not confident that my PF will really allow me to do at this time.  Currently, my left foot is doing better but my right flares up at times.  Plantar Fasciitis is just one of those nagging injuries that is really slow to heal.  I have heard of people having to deal with it for several months, which is where I am.  However, mine was not really treated correctly for a long time, so I who knows how it would have responded. 

I did two thirds of the class before I went and did some abs and stretching on my own for the last 15 minutes of class.  Afterwards, I jogged over to Hiro's work as a cool down and picked up the car for work.  It was good to go back to the class, but I felt bad about how much my conditioning had dropped off.  I am glad that I took a break from the class and focused on running, but I know that I need to maintain at least degree of cross training i n my workouts. Therefore, I really need to plan my weekly workouts better over the coming months.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12/19: Art Park 5 Miler #2 of the Weekend

Saturday's run went well, so I figured that I should do it again and this time try to use some of the features that my garmin have to offer.  I set Old Bob up to give me mile splits and to compare the run to the course setting that I a had saved form my first Garmin run the week before in the rain.  I had a feeling this days run would be slower than the one I had done the day before.  I feeling a little stiff and sore, but I just felt like I needed this run.

The weather wasn't an issue.  However, it took me a while to feel like as though I were properly warmed up.  My mile breakdown were :
  1. 9:41.08
  2. 10:09.78
  3. 10:14.46
  4. 10:15.11
  5. 9:57.80
Overall I felt lie I struggled all the way with this run.  I was having minor knee pain, which wasn't enough to stop the run, but just enough to make it a little unpleasant.  Over all I did 5.38 in 53:25

Monday, December 20, 2010

Art Park 5 miler: 12/18

It finally stopped raining and warmed up a bit, just in time for me to avoid a complete meltdown.  People who live in the southeast have this unspoken agreement with Mother Nature.  We will tolerate the nearly 9 months of hellish punishment called summer, take our four weeks of spring and summer, and in exchange, other than for a few days in January and February, she leaves us the eff alone when it comes to winter!  Well, this year Momma has gone plum-crazy, and not in the charming way where she sends some random ass Christmas like trivets (thanks mom!), no our dear Mother Nature has gone all shooting at the neighbor's kids with an air rifle crazy!  Snow in December . . . Twice . . . a whole week where the high is 34 degrees . . . WTF are you thinkin' Lady?

Anyway, before I get into full on rant mode . . . it finally got into the mid 30's so I decided that I need to go for a run.  I didn't want to stray too far from my house because I needed to leave Hiroko with the car, so I decided to run the Greenway like I had last Sunday, when God tried to drown me.  This time I made sure that the wasn't a cloud in the sky before I left the house.  Last time I ran the 5.36 miles in 53:53 and this time I did the same course in 52.39.  The run went well, but I was really pushing over the last mile, so that I could do better than my run the week before.  By the end of the run, I was spent.  I really enjoyed it however, and like that with Old Bob, I can track my courses pretty easily.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Treadmill & Exercises: Thursday 12/16

Not a whole lot to say about this one.  It was rainy and cold all day, so I ran 3 miles on the treadmill in just under 30 mins. at the gym followed by a small exercise session.  I did some abs, push ups, and lower body strengthening exercises just to get back into the swing of things.  Everything kind of felt a little crappy.  The run, the exercises, everything was just kind of . . . well . . . crappy.  I was really having to fight it.  I am glad that I did it, and I know that I am in for many more days like this if I want to build back my overall conditioning.  My feet held up well after this, so I'm feeling good about the state of my PF but still don't thin that I am to the point where I don't have to think about it at all.   There is still a bit of random soreness and a little pain here and there, so I know that I need to be careful and smart about my workload as I change up my workout.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Return to Toneing Class: Hubba Bubba Abs -- 12/14

I haven't been to Toning class in over 2 months and in that time my abs have turned to bubble gum.  I've been running, so my I still feel strong, but there is no denying that my over all fitness has declined over the last 3 months.  I need to get back into strength and conditioning classes or else.  I don't thin that I'll go back to the whole 4 or 5 classes a week thing, but I need to get more balance into my workout.  I ran 1.5 miles om the indoor track before the class.  The class was much more difficult than it had been in the summer for me.  The instructor hadn't made it more difficult in the slightest, but I am just no where nears as fit as I had been.   I was a little sore after the class, but it wasn't too bad.  I took off Wednesday because I wanted to give my body time to rest after working some dormant muscles for the first time in a while.  Also, I wanted to see how my feet held up as well.  They were a little sore, but nothing like they had been.  My PF is getting better, but I still need to be cautious.  I plan to sprinkle in so basic exercise on days that I run just to try to build back some of the strength and muscle that I have lost before I hit one of the more challenging classes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Run in the Rain . . . Cold Rain: 12/12

Another name for this post might Sunday stupidity.  I really wanted to run, but we  were suppose to get rain.  first a light drizzle then getting progressively harder throughout the day.  Also, the  Raiders had an early game this week, so I wouldn't be able to use the gym.  Therefore I decided to run the NC Museum of Art Greenway, which is just over 5 miles.  I put on enough layers for the cold and my best water resistant jacket and headed out.  The first two miles were fine the rain wasn't that bad, nor was the cold, but as I approached the midway point, the rain began to pick up.  Once I got to the exact mid way point, it basically hit a pretty steady rain, granted it wasn't an all out downpour but bad enough to make me wish that I had bought a waterproof jacket.  I slogged my way home and was fairly miserable doing it.  At that point, I had no choice, so I just went with it.  There were very few people out on the Greenway, but every time that I met up with someone we shared a little wave or a nod that made me feel like we were all in on some secret.  It kind of reminded me of the the nose rub thing from the movie The Sting.  I am still a newbie to running and I feel like there are certain rights passage that I need to go through before I can really call myself a runner.  If coming home, soaked to bone because your too stubborn to change you plans is one of them, I am one step closer.  Also, after the run, I knew that it was time to invest in some rain gear.

According to Old Bob I did 5.36 in 53:53, it was pretty much all hills and rain, so I felt good about the way I ran .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reindeer Romp 5k -- Last Race of the Year: 12/11

Trying to warm up before the race

The Reindeer Romp was my last race of 2010.  And it was my best race in a lot of ways.  I did not get a PR, but I ran strong and without any injuries or tightness.  I spoke with several people, who had run the course before as we were lining up, and they all said that it was a slow course.  So, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be getting any PR's, but I still enjoyed the run.  Not to make excuses or anything.  I know that I am not at my peak point of conditioning either, but I'm still running within striking distance of my PR.  Since this is my last race of the year, I plan to add more conditioning work into my program because I'm a little worried about repetition injuries from a running only regiment.  My PF has vastly improved over the last few months, so strength and conditioning work is a must. 
Chic fil a cow and a reindeer chatting before the race

About the race, I would give the overall in regards to organization a C+.  There were a lot of little things about this race, which add up to making the event kind of so-so.  The pre-race packet pickup was just one day and only staffed by two people.  Names were not printed on to the race bib and had to be looked up on a printout and then pulled from stacks of numbers.  The location was at Cary Soccer Park, which only has one entrance and exit and made getting to the race a little difficult.  They didn't seem to have enough people on staff considering the size of the crowd attending the event.  The start and finish were not in the same area, and it was difficult for people to find the starting line because registration and packet pick up were all at the finish.  The course did not have mile markers, but they did have people directing runners where to go, which was crucial because the race was trail run, and there were many intersecting trails.  Also the course, was one big loop with a panhandle, then a smaller loop, and a direction change, so it would have been really easy to get off course.  Also, there were no timing devices used at the starting line, so the timing chip was only giving a reading on you finish time.   Granted, there was a really large starting area so it was easy for people who cared about their times to find a place right at the line without fear of getting run down.  Personally, the mile markers and timing things weren't that big of an issue for me because I had Old Bob with me, but I did hear some people grumbling about it, and had I not had a Garmin, I'd have been . . . un-thrilled!
At the starting line

Since the starting line was so long, I did line up right on the line, which I doubt I'll ever do again.  I didn't have any problems with it, but I felt strange -- like I punching out of weight at all (both literally and figuratively).  It was fun to have such a large area for the start, and it eliminated almost all of the bunching problems that have been in nearly every race that I have attended.  The first mile was by far my best, but it wasn't because I was running too fast, it was just that a lot of the first mile was a downhill, so I was able to get a good start.  I did the first mile in just over 8 mins.  But the second mile was pretty much a series of up hills, so my pace came back to earth real quick.  I did enjoy running on the trails much better than any of the road races that I have raced on.  Even with the ground being hard from the cold there was a lot more give, and I felt much less pounding in my knees. Also, there were very few straight stretches, so I didn't get board or intimidated by what was in front of me.  In fact, I had no clue what was ahead of me because I had never set foot on any part of this trail in my life.  This was the first race where I had not at the least driven the course the night before. 

One . . . two . . . three . . . go!
I held up well over the first part of the uphill in mile two and did well through the panhandle that marked the halfway point.  Even though my pace had slowed, I was still going strong when I passed Hiroko, who was waiting at the at the original starting line to take some pictures.  After waving to Hiro I was able to pick up some more speed and get into a grove as we went on the downhill portion again.   At the end of mile two, I was around the 17 minute mark, but could feel that I was starting to struggle.  I had been running the tangents to try to shave off any distance that I could, and since this was a trail run, it was easier to see the benefit because of all the twists and turns in trail.  The course bottomed out at the end of the second mile, we were back to the hills for the last mile. 

Thumbs up for Hiro at 1.8 miles
Over the last mile, I just tried to focus on the trail in front of me.  Also I had passed a girl wearing really festive socks at the 2 mile mark.  I had seen at the Old Reliable Run and knew was a stronger runner than me, and it would only be a matter of time before she passed me back, but I wanted to make try to make it take awhile.  I was trying to find a way to push myself because I knew that the hills were  eating up time and that my slim chance at a PR was slipping away.  She passed me at 2.5 miles after a button hook on an uphill, and my new goal became to keep her socks in sight.  from 2.4 miles to 2.8 the course was almost entirely an incline that just killed my shot at a PR, over that part of the course I was doing around a 9.5 min. mile, which was alright, but needed to be just a bit faster.  I was able to keep up with the girl with cool socks and may have past her in my dash for the finish, but I am not sure.

Girl with cool socks is on the far left in red, one sock can be seen if the the picture is enlarged
 I was going to start my dash for the finish at the 3 mile mark, but I had I could tell that according to Old Bob either the course was off or I had shaved off some distance by running the tangents because the finish line was real close at 2.9, so I made my dash.  I saw Hiro just as I was approaching the finish and tossed her my hat and gloves then made a mad dash for the finish.  I felt kind of silly running all out when most of the runners near me we kids, but I just have to think that it's not about anyone other than me.  And, I want to finish every race as strong as I can. 

Discard what you do not need
Old Bob said that the course was 3.02, so either it was short or running the tangents really helped.  I am willing to trust that the course was right.  My time was 26:16
Looking and feeling tired

Overall, I enjoyed this race, but I am not sure if I'll do it again next year.  I think there will be other events that I can do that will be better more to my taste.  I want to thank Hiroko for coming out and supporting me at this race.  She really hate being cold and this was a pretty chilly day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thusday Cold A@@ Social Run: 12/9

Yeah, I went to Fleet Feet for the social run and it was a brisk 34 degrees out.  And, it felt every bit of 34 degrees.  Unlike Monday's nOg Run, I just couldn't get warmed up.  My legs were cold for the whole run.  Granted, I am still wearing shorts, so I should expect to be a little cold.  Also, I didn't really warm up properly either, so I guess that I shouldn't complain all that much.  The run was alright.  I ran the same course that I did last Weds. and Thursday, and I think that my results fell somewhere between the two efforts.  I know for sure that I ran better than Weds. because I have the stats from Old Bob, but I didn't hit the start button on last Thursday's run, so I am only guessing that last Thursday's run was faster than this run.  This week's run was 3.26 in 29:12 according to Old Bob. 
My Reversible Raiders Running Toboggan

Fleet Feet was also having an event that night where they had a person from Craft come by and let people wear test a base layer.  I didn't take part in the event because I was already dressed and didn't feel like changing.  Plus, I didn't know if they would have my size.  I need to start looking into some better cold weather gear.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday 34 Degree nOg Run: 12/6

Getting Ready for the nOg Run

It snowed here Saturday afternoon, which is kind of shocking for Raleigh.  We see very little snow here and most often it doesn't come until January or February.  But Sure enough Saturday we got our first snow of the season.  More shocking was the fact that the cold front that came with it hung around.  Highs in the low 30's is very uncommon, but I for one was determined not to let it stop me from attending the nOg run on Monday.  However, I had wondered what the cold would do to the attendance.  The Answer: not much at all.  Still well over 100 people showed up for the run.  However, Hiroko was not one of them.  Hiro HATE the cold.  I on the other hand grew up in WV and went to College at Appstate in the Mountains of NC, so I have my pride when it comes to the cold.  I just added another layer and headed out.  I wasn't sure what to expect because I haven't tried to run in the cold.  But it wasn't bad at all.  The wind was a bit harsh for the first quarter mile, but I got used to it.  Overall, I really enjoyed the run.  I would even go so far as to say that I prefer the cold to humidity. 

Old B.O.B.

I ran fairly well.  Actually, it felt better than the race on Saturday.  I didn't get up to the speed that I did at the race, but the run felt  better.  I did 2.82 miles in 24.19.49 according to Old B.o.b. (my Garmin).  I named it per advice from Irene.  And Since I have to old 204 and there are much newer models that may or may not be superior, I went named it after the old robot from the Disney classic The Black Hole.

Very Underrated Sci Fi Movie

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jingle Bell Run 5k : 12/6

Not sure where this was taken on the course.
Wasn't sure that I was going to do this race until the last minute.  Kind of did it on a whim because it was Hiroko had to work all day, and I needed to take of somethings in the afternoon.  But I decided last Sunday that it would be good to get a 5k before my last race of the year on the 12th.  I have been running for the 10k for sometime now, and I wanted give myself a chance to adjust to the 5k.  Some of my three mile runs have felt pretty strong, but training runs are not races, so I just thought that the Jingle Bell Run race would be a good practice race.  Not to say that I was not trying to beat my PR, but I was running with the idea that I had another race the following week. 

I am really glad to have run this race for a multitude of reasons.  For one, my left leg had been pissy leading up to the race, and I had no idea how it would preform.  I tried everything that I could think of the night before to try to get it to loosen up, heating pads, foam roller, stretching, hot shower, meds, nothing helped, and it was still tight in the morning until I decided to jog from Hiro's work to to the race location, which was under a mile.  But, the leg finally started to loosen up some during that jog then got a little better after I stretched some. 

Also, this would be my first race with my Garmin didn't know how it would impact the way I ran either.  During my training runs, it had been something of a distraction, so I debated about not wearing it but chose to wear because it would just be silly to pay for a Garmin and not use it on race day!  And, I am really glad that I did wear it because I think that it was very helpful during the race, and it kept me from getting complacent at times. 

But one of the main reasons that I am happy that I did this race is it really proves to me that I need to move up closer to the starting line for races that don't group the runners by pace at the start.  Once again I find myself running around people walking and slowly jogging for nearly the entire first mile.  I know that I am not that fast so I try to line up about a quarter of the way back, but I line up early and tons of people just file in after I have already lined up.  I am not going to complain about people who aren't running that line up at the front.  I personally think that it is bad form, but I understand that for some people this may be their one event a year, and they don't realize where they should start or that someone might want to start the race with a friend that they know they won't see again until the end of the race, and also some people are just oblivious.  Therefore, if I don't want to deal with the congestion at the start, I need to change. 

As I said the start was really congested, which combined with my own reluctance to push my sore quad, led to my slowest start to a race so far.  I think that I lost a lot of time during the first half mile that I never really gained back anywhere in the course.  After the race my Garmin confirmed that portion of the race was in fact pretty piss poor.   However, after about the first half mile, I could tell that my quad was doing alright.  It felt much better than it had at the Autism 5k a couple of months ago.  But, I still was reluctant to push it.  I knew the course really well because other than the first and last .1of this course is all part of The Old Reliable 10K that I had run just a few weeks ago.  The course roughly corresponded with miles 3 and 5 of that race.  Unfortunately, I really did like this portion of the course.  I wasn't bad for the first mile but I knew that the 2nd mile just wasn't going to be the type place for me to pick up a lot of time.

By the start of the second mile I was running alright, but I could tell I was not running as strong as I had been running over the last few weeks.  I was feeling a little frustrated but was able to stay focused.  My Garmin was telling me that I was close to the pace that I wanted to be at, and I knew the only thing close to a hill was coming up just before the the turn around.  The hill was no real problem and by that point I wasn't having to side step people any longer.  Just after the hill, we reached the water.  I grabbed a cup but just swished it a round and headed toward the turn.  Once I made the turn, I knew that I needed to pick up the pace if I wanted to have any chance at coming near my PR.  At the down, I picked it up some, but I still wasn't hitting my stride the way I wanted. 

The third mile was kind of a small mental battle that the Garmin really helped me win.  I was starting to feel like I wasn't running that well.  And was getting down on myself a bit, but after sneaking a few peaks at the Garmin, I could see that I was till close to the pace that I wanted.  So about mid way into mile three, I picked up my pace a little and started running within inches of the way I had hoped to run.  I was caught a little because I knew that I was off my pace, but still need to save a bit for my push toward the finish.  As I got to the three mile mark, I opened it up and made a dash for the finish.  I was able to leg it out, but I could see that I wasn't going to make my PR. 

 In the end, I was off by 14 seconds, but I was happy with the way I had run this race considering, I felt like I was more managing the course and my body.  This was a day that could have gone south in any number of ways, but I was able to keep things afloat and turn in a time and effort that I was satisfied with.  It also helped to know that I would only have to wait a week for my next opportunity to do better.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Don't Just Walk Home . . . Run . . . or try to anyway: December 3rd, Friday.

How to characterize this week of running?  Hit or miss . . . and mainly miss.  First two runs were crappy, the third one was awesome, and the fourth was back to crappy.  My pesky left quad got real cranky during this run, and just got worse and worse after the run.  I was going to run in a race on Saturday, and since my legs had been acting up all week I figured that I should do a light run on Friday rather than giving them the day off and letting everything tighten up.  Saturday morning was suppose to be cold, so I just thought that it would be better to keep myself in a running rhythm.  After  finished work, I drove my car to Hiroko's work and ran home.  I made it into a 1.75 mile run and finished in 16:17, which is almost exactly the same pace as Wednesday's crappy run.   In fact, this run felt exactly like the same.  I am fairly certain that these leg issues are do to a lack of cross training, and I have to go back to the gym.  I have another race this Saturday, which will be my last race of 2010.  Afterwards, I plan of balancing out my training more.  The best thing that can be said about this race is that it gave me a good idea of what to expect from my leg on Saturday, and I got to use my Garmin.  Other than that, it was forgettable: traffic was bad, the air was cold, and I felt out of sorts. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Balance event at Fleet Feet: Thusday 12/2

One way to get a a big turn out to just about anything . . . Free Beer!  And that is just what last nights Fleet Feet Social Run had to offer.  Fleet Feet, New Balance, and Tir Na nOg Run Club had a cool event that featured some sweet discounts, a raffle, and a lot of other cool stuff, and I would say that somewhere around fifty runners showed up for last nights run, which was just awesome.  I did the same 3 mile course that I had done the night before and rocked it. 

However, I am still trying to get the hang of my new Garmin and did not turn it on properly!  D'OH!   Oh well, it was just nice to turn in a good run after back to back craptastic runs.  I am not sure what to think about the race this weekend.  It will be the first 5k in a while, so we'll see.  Anyway, this was a great run and a good time, and I would like to give a shout out to everyone, who had a hand in planning it . . . Great Job!

First Garmin Run: Dec 1st

Yep, broke down and bought a Garmin.  I took my first run with it last night, and the Garmin was great, but the run was crappy.  It was really cold and my legs felt stiff the whole way.  In fact, they had been sore all day.  It was my second crappy run in a row.  I did 3.26 miles in 30:12.54.  I am still trying to figure all of the gamin stuff out, but from what I can make of it, this thing is going to be awesome!  I ran part of the course from the Turkey Trot because it doesn't have a lot of hills, and I didn't want to work my heel too much.  It was still a bit sore from the Treadmill run on Tuesday. 

I bought the older 205 because it was dirt cheap and was all I really needed.
Running with the Garmin is going to take a little getting used to because I could tell that I was trying to push it just for the sake of the Garmin.   I guess that I was attempting to impress the G-man, but I don't think that the little guy is impressed all that easily, so I need to knock that off and just run naturally. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Treadmill Run: Tuesday 11/30

Treadmills were fun for me at one time.  However, now that I am have started running outside, joined running clubs, and found trails that I love to run, the treadmill has become almost like a punishment to me.  Yesterday, I went to the Y for the first time in some time and ran on a treadmill.   To say that I hated it, would be an understatement.  I ran for 30 minutes and did not run particularly well . . . Maybe Thanksgiving eating has caught up with me.  I did about 3 miles and got a good sweat, but it was a real slog fest over the last 15 minutes, and I felt bored out of my mind.  Also, there weren't any inclines or declines to have to adjust for, which is one way that I keep my mind occupied.  After the run, my left heel got kind of cranky, which hadn't happened in a long time.  However after looking over my blog, I noticed that I said something similar after running on the treadmill one of the last times that I ran on it, so I think this is a sign that I should just avoid the treadmill.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hiroko's First Umstead Run -- My Attempt at a Q&A: 11/25

She said . . . He said.
Q & A:

Greg: So, how did you like running in Umstead.

Hiroko: I liked it, but it scared me.  But, it was defintely easier to run distance than on a flat surface, but I hurt my ankle.

Greg: why do yo think that it easier?

Hiroko:  Because it has a lot (inclines and declines*) and I don't have to push much on the declines.

Greg:  Do you think that you will run it again.

Hiroko: Hmmm . . . if the leaves are not there.

Greg: Did you like running with me?

Hiroko: Umm (Japanese way of saying uuuhhh)

Greg:  Which part of the trail did you like best?

Hiroko:  The part of the loop before the bridge because it is flat.

Greg: Did you like because there weren't that many rock and roots, and more soft pine needles

Hiroko: Yes, and ofcoures .  But, I like running in the woods, the sights and sounds, and there weren't any cars and buildings.

--At this point, Hiro falls asleep.--  My first ever attempt at an interview is a failure because my interviewee finds my questions, so boring that she falls asleep!!  Not really the case, Hiroko is a champion sleeper and can fall asleep at anytime and anywhere.  So this is basically par for the course with her. 
*Greg's words for what Hiroko described.

On Saturday, we ran in Umstead together for the first time.  Hiro really enjoyed the run, but was a little freaked by the possibility of turning her ankle.  I admit that this was not the best time of year to take her to run there because of all of the leaves on the trail, but I was surprised when she said that she wanted to go with me.  We ran the first 4.8 miles, and she was fine for the first mile, but then she turned her ankle and got a good scare.  She was able to walk off the pain, but she did really enjoy herself as much as she had for the first mile.  Ironically, she tripped at a relatively easy part of the trail.  I think she more took a bad step than anything else.  This run was much slower for me, and spent a lot of time pointing out roots, rocks, as well as which part of the trail is easier.  I didn't mind this at all because I was concerned for Hiroko.  Also, I wanted her to enjoy the run, so that one day I might have an Umstead running partner.  Currently, Hiroko is having some soreness in her ankle, but there isn't any swelling or discoloration.  It's more from an old volleyball injury that has caused a ganglion cyst on her ankle, which she has to get drained from time to time (it is gross but cool to watch . . . I'll take off work to go to the doctor's office with her just so I can watch!).  Also, Hiro is just not having used working her ankles like you have to on this type of trail.  I had the same kind of soreness after my first few runs in Umstead.  I am fairly sure that she'll be in a day or two.  This run was a really good and unexpected addition to my holiday running, and I am happy that Hiro wanted to go with me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Robert Frost 5.8 Mile Run: 11/26

I kept coming up with reasons not to run today: it was raining, I had eaten my weight in turkey and other thanksgiving foods, I had a headache, I had run 5 miles yesterday, Friday's are normally an off day.  I tried to think of reasons to run but decided that I didn't really need a reason to run.  I've gotten to that point -- I am able to run and that is reason enough.  I wanted to hit the trails in Umstead.  Hiro was back at work and I couldn't stand the idea of spending the whole day on the couch watching old movies, and if I were going to go to the gym to workout, why shouldn't I do what I really wanted to do and run in Umstead?  So, that was what I did. 

I left around 2pm, the rain had stopped, and it was much warmer than the day before.  I felt loose.  I untapped my feet before a run for the first time in about two months.  I knew that the trail would be blanketed with wet leaves, which would require that my pace be much more measured.  It made sense to me to try running without the tape.  The tape has helped my PF and achilles problems, but it is doing a number on my skin.  And I hate spending money on it.  I am not sure when I decided to run the whole length of The Company Mill Trail, but my mind was made up by the time I left the parking lot.  I've never run the whole thing before.  The trial is 5.8 miles long according to most listings.  I kept thinking about all of the people that were shopping today and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy ans wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

By no means is this my favorite poem or is Frost my Favorite poet.  In fact, I have always been rather annoyed by how often it is quoted, but it just fit today.  It fit the way I was feeling and the trial that I was running.  Because today, it was truly the road less traveled because there were so few people on the trail, which offered me a lot of time to myself.  I was able to really enjoy where I was and what I was doing.  Running has become a huge part of my life in such a short time, and today's run was one of my most enjoyable runs yet.  In fact, other than the last mile, the whole thing was nearly effortless.  I was no slouch and made good time despite the fact that the trial was wet and kind of difficult to see.  But, I wasn't timing myself and just made a point to try to enjoy this run.  The creek was running faster than normal because of the rains, the trees held far fewer leaves, and the whole day seemed more clam, sort of like Japan feels on New Years day or how it feels here just after Midnight Mass.  I think that today's run was by far my most transcendental running experience.  I know that their is a spiritual side of running that is out there waiting for you if you are open to it.  I am not saying that I am going to one day go Forest Gump on the world and just start running across the country, but if I came find a nice inner peace out on the trails of Umstead State Park, then all the better life will be!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8k: 11/25

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This was my first attempt at an 8k (or 5 miler) race.  I did a 10k about 10 days ago, so I knew that I was ready for the distance but wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to run the course.  Luckily for me, my Thursday running group from Fleet Feet runs on most of this course, so I knew what to expect.  The difference was that I had run only portions of it at a time and not the whole course.  But, I really wasn't worried at all.  Since this was my first time at this distance, I just set out to enjoy myself and was hoping to finish in under 45 minutes.  The Ridgewood Turkey Trot is a big race with over 3,000 participants and is put on by Fleet Feet.  Another aspect of the race that I really like is that I starts a mile from my apartment.  Hiroko and I were able to ride our bicycles to the race! 

Trying to stay warm before the race.

It was kind of cold this morning compared to the way the weather has been over the last few days.  The low for the day was suppose to be around 55 degrees, but it felt colder than that this morning.  Maybe because I was riding my bicycle.  I just know that I felt really cold before the race.  There were suppose to be a competitive and non-competitive divisions with start times 5 mins. apart, but it seemed to me that the competitive group had a lot of non-competitive people mixed in with it, but it didn't present as much of a problem for me in this race as it has in others because the road we were running on was really wide, and since this was an 8k instead of a 5k, I wasn't worried about getting off to as quick a start.  Hiro didn't run this race, but I was able to meet up with several different people that I knew from my various running groups.  However, I lost everyone in the crowd and ended up running the race alone, which I didn't mind because with that many people I was doing good not to bump into people that weren't trying to run next to me. 


The first mile of the course was a long straight stretch with a mild decline.  I run this portion of the course as part of the Thursday running group and know it like the back of my hand, which helped me to keep my pace right where I wanted it.  Another thing that help was that my legs were so cold that they felt like concrete slabs.  The Free to Breathe 5k was a much colder morning, but I didn't feel it.  However, I felt the cold today.   I would really like to see what the temperature was on site this morning because if the was 55 degrees, I need to wear some big boy pants and toughen up.  The road through this portion of the race is a wide two lane road with a bicycle lane, so I didn't feel the need to do much weaving through the crowd, which was just awesome.

Just past the starting line, caught in mid wave.

The second mile continues the slow decline for the first 3/4 of the mile, then turns and the last 1/4 of the mile is a pretty steep decline.  I ran this portion alright considering my legs were still frozen solid.  I was actually feeling the a small shock wave up my leg with every step for this entire mile.  Each of these waves seemed to crash right into the bottom of my quads just above the knee.  It hurt but I didn't feel like my quads were burning, so I wasn't worried about cramping.  I just thought that my legs need to warm up and everything would be sorted out.

Around the third mile, we hit the hilly section of the course, which was also the portion of the course which I hadn't run before.  I had done some practice runs on the old course, but it had been changed this year, so this portion was totally new for me.  I handled the hills well, and my legs were starting to feel better.  It was around this time that my ego took a kick to the gut because I noticed two kids running ahead of me.  The boy was around 8 and the girl was maybe 10.  I am not sure if they had run the whole course or not, but it sure looked like it, and they were both putting some ground between me and them for most of the third mile. 

Mile 4 started at the end of the hilly section and went back up the road that we had run down, but we got back on the road a point farther down from where we had turned off, and I new that this section had a deceptively long slow incline that can become a killer because it is easy to not notice that you are running up hill.  I ran this the right way, but I was still trailing that 8 year old boy wearing a Capitol Area Soccer League shirt.  I was really missing legging it out with miss 1025 from the Old Reliable because even though, she beat me to the finish line, it wasn't like I was taking one step for every three of her's. At least I had manager to pass the 10 year old girl somewhere in the hilly portion of the course!  By now my legs were really starting to feel good.  The vibrations had stopped and could tell that the blood was circulating properly at last.  Mile 4 was by far the best yet. By the end of mile 4, I knew that I was gaining on the kid, but it was giving me mixed emotions because how can you feel proud of yourself for out running an 8 year old?

looking pretty rough after the finish. 
As mile 5 began, I finally passed the kid and tried to focus on running a strong finish.  I hoped to find someone to try to keep up with and use as motivation to push myself like miss 1025, but no one really presented themselves, so I just had to dig deep an motivate myself.  I was able to open my gate over the last half of the mile 5 and actually hit what I consider a sprint over the last .15th of a mile, which help both my ego and my time.  I was beat by the time I crossed the finish line and knew that my chip time would be under 45 minutes, which made me really happy.  My final time was 44:44, so I am pretty pleased with this race as a whole. Hiro couldn't get a picture of me crossing the finish line because her hand's were too cold to turn the camera on in time, but no matter.  After the race, I saw my co-worker Lisa and her daughter Annie-Lloyd.  Annie-Lloyd does Iron Man and ran today's race as part of her trip to Raleigh for Thanksgiving.  As we were talking, I asked her about Garmins, and she said that her's changed her life.  That is when her Husband said "yeah, you show it off more than your engagement ring."  She jokingly agreed and said she actually wears is more.  I thought you know that your an athlete when your Garmin ranks up there with your wedding rings!

Anyway, it was a great way to start the holiday!

8k official chip time 44:44

Monday, November 22, 2010

Umstead Bottom Out: 11/20

Well I rode the wave of good runs as far as I could, and it finally bottomed out about halfway through my Saturday Run in Umstead.  It was sort of strange because I wasn't running poorly and I wasn't sore.  If anything I was running a bit too strong, but I just got to point where I felt like I had run enough.  So. I stopped.  I just walked the trail back to the parking lot and tried to enjoy the park, which I run in but don't often take time to just breathe in. 

Trail Run in Umstead
Over the course of this run, it really became apparent to me that I like running trails more than anything else.  I really enjoy the challenge of managing roots, trees, and rough surfaces of trails.  I think that trails require an amount of focus that other surfaces don't, and I can run the same trail over and over and not get bored because it will always provide me with some new challenge.  This weekend the leaves were so thick that it was really hard to see the trail in some places.  I always thought that I would be too worried about falling to enjoy my runs over a trail like this one, but I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that I get from being able to navigate the trail.  Recently, I have been running a lot on the street and greenway, which are fun places to run, but running on the trails really gets my mind right.  Even though this wasn't a monster run, I can't wait for my next Umstead run!  I can't even go so far as to say that this run was a bad run because it wasn't.  It was more just the end of a string of monster runs.  Basically, I just hit my mileage wall for the week.  I was on 17 miles for the week coming into this run, which is the most miles that I have ever put down in week, so there is mo shame in my game. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday Fleet Feet Social Run & Thinking Ahead: 11/18

Last night I attended the Fleet Feet social run and ran with the same group of runners that I ran with the first time I attended the social run.  We did a 4 mile course with a few good hills over the last 2 miles.  It was really nice to run with them again.  However, I am not sure that I made a great running partner because I am on such a running high that I kept pushing the pace.  I stayed with the main group until about the 2.5 mile mark then broke off with another runner.  However, I was a little bit more concerned about staying at least within earshot of the main group because I didn't know the course we were running and was thankful that I did when I lost the other runner at a crossroad that was just over a hill.  He was about ten yards ahead of me when we started up the hill, but when I came over the top and dude was gone.   I continued to the intersection a little bit ahead, but do to another hill and some trees the other guy was impossible to see, and since I wasn't 100% sure I should go straight, I just jogged in place for a bit until the main group came over the rise.  Once they told me which way to go, traffic picked up, which was the sign for me to rejoin the main group for the last half mile.  It was another really great run, and the ladies that I had run with before all said that I was running a lot stronger and looked like I a had slimmed down since they saw me about a month ago.  I haven't weighed myself recently, and I really don't care to so because I feel like I have lost weight, and don't really want the scale to tell me anything different.  

Honestly, I feel better than I have in years.  I really don't think that there has been a time in my adult life where I have felt this good physically and mentally.  I know I have weighed less, but I have never been this active and excited about my prospects for good health.  I really feel like I am becoming the person that I always dreamt of being.  I know that their is still a part of me that regrets that I waited so long to make these changes, but there is an even larger part me that never thought that I would do it, which is just pleased as punch.  It is hard to believe how far I have come in such a short time.

Now that I have run my first 10k, Hiroko and I have been talking a lot about my future plans.  I have pretty much made up my mind that a half marathon is in my plans for this spring.  And if all goes well, a full in the fall.  However, I really am drawn to the 5k distance because I really like pushing my pace.  I really and truly love the feeling that I get from making that last push towards the finish line.  I know that the challenge of the longer distances on my endurance will also inspire me.  But, I know that I just enjoy legging it out, and I think that I have a lot of room to get faster.  I think that I take speed as a large sign of my personal achievement because I was always considered slow because of my weight.  The best thing about this dilemma is that it exists.  I don't really care about finding an answer at this moment because I am just happy that these are questions that are part of my life.  

Friday will be an off day because I haven't been to Umstead in a few weeks, and it is calling to me, and I am pretty sore from a fantastic week of running!     

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

After Work Solo Run-- 4.27 mils: 11/17/10

Work passed by quickly today.  I had a lot of things to do, none of which were stressful or frustrating in the slightest, which for me is always the mark of a good day.  The only drawback was that I couldn't do a lunchtime run, so I was looking forward to a run when I got home from work.  I knew that it would be dark, cool and a little damp because of some strong storms that moved through yesterday.   My legs were feeling fine, but I was a little concerned with all of the mileage that I have been putting on them over the last few weeks.  However, my legs have really felt amazing since last Thursday's run.  I don't know why . . . . and I am not asking . . . but my legs just feel awesome right now. 

When I got home, I just set my stuff down and started getting ready for my run.  I changed, put on my I-pod and blinky light and headed out the door in sort order.  I was sure where I was going to run, but I decided fairly quickly that I would run a long the four main streets that surround the neighborhoods in which I live.  I ran from the corner of  Hillsborough and Faircloth to the corner of  Faircloth and Wade, from there to the corner of Wade and Oberlin, then to the corner of Oberlin and Hillsborough, and then returned to the starting point.  The whole course was 4.27 miles, and was my first solo run in over a week.  It was a hilly course, which I enjoyed a great deal.  During the run, I  felt an amazing sense of clarity and peace.  I didn't time this run, and just ran a good steady pace throughout.  I wash that all runs were like this one, but as we all know there are bad slog-fest runs out there waiting for all of us, so I am just going to be glad that I got this awesome run today and go from there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

nOg Run Club: Post 10k 3 miler -- 11/15

This run was in doubt for most of the day.  I felt like doodie all day yesterday after the 10k.  My quads were sore, and I had a pretty bad headache, both of which continued into this morning.  The quads were to be expected, but I am not sure if the headache was a result of dehydration or just from pounding along the street.  Either way, it didn't really matter, the point is this morning when I spoke with Hiro I told her that there was no way that I was going to Tir Na Nog Run Club tonight.  However, when I called her at 4pm, I asked her if she want to go.  I expected her to say no, but she said that she wanted to go.  So, of course we went.
We decided to do the three mile route, and we met up with Audrey, Henry and his wife from the Thursday night's Fleet Feet Running Group, I introduced them to Hiroko, who Audrey had read about on my Blog (on a side note Hiroko and I bumped into another member of last Thursday's Group on Saturday when we took out kitten to the vet).  Tonight, we talked for a bit before the run kicked off about yesterday's 10k, cold weather, and The Krispy Kreme Challenge, which we are all planning to enter next year. 

The Tir Na nOg Pub in downtown Raleigh
Our chat was short because the run was kicking off, and this run had well over a 100 members, so we just got swept away.  Hiro and I stuck together for the first mile.  I was shocked by how well my legs felt.  My Quads were still sore, but they were not holding me back at all.  In fact, I think that I flet a little better over the the course of this run than I did yesterday.  I think that I am going to run a little the day before my next race and see if it helps.  I  always seem to run better on the second day of running.  The night was nice and warm, but it was much darker than the previous times that we attended, so our blinky lights came in handy.  After the first mile I started to pull away from the group of runners that we were running with.  Hiroko stuck with me, but as we made the turn near Oakwood Cemetery, she said that she had a pain in her side.  However, she is so competitive that she still passed me two more time during the second mile!!

I picked up the pace right as I passed by this tree.
But, by the beginning of mile 3, I pulled away.  Once we got near the North Carolina State Capitol, I started to open up my stride.  Upon passing in front of the Capitol Building, I really picked up the pace.  The last mile was by far my strongest mile.  It wasn't an all out sprint like that last two tenths of a mile were yesterday, but I was in the last gear before it.  I felt really strong all the way back to the the pub.  And, I am sure that I finished the run in under 26 minutes, which would be a PR for me, but alas . . . No garmin to be sure of it, nor was it a race day . . . so oh well!  After the run, we chatted with a guy, who had also run the 10k the day before.  Hiro remembered him because he had worn a kilt, which he said he was required to do in order to join a local running club out of Fleet Feet.  I think that I might be getting sized for a kilt soon!  After chatting for a while, we enjoyed some $1 pasta, which I enjoyed a lot more than last time.  We saw Audry once again and she introduced us to her husband, Victor.  Hiroko and I were both really glad that we went tonight, but she was a little disappointed that she couldn't beat me.  Hiro thought that since I ran a 10k yesterday that she would have no problem beating me; I didn't either!  However, I seem to be getting a lot stronger than I thought.  Also, I am really glad that I am starting to meet lots of new people, who share my passion for running!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Old Reliable Run (My First 10k): 11-14

I ran the Old Reliable Run today.  It was my first stab at a 10k and couldn't have picked a better event.  Everything was done very well from the registration system to the course layout.  I have nothing but compliments for the organizers, event staff, volunteers, and my fellow runners.  The last two races that I ran in were plagued with issues, so I was really nice to take part in an event that was done right. 

The course was deceptively challenging with many long slow hills that you don't give much thought to when you are driving but are difficult to run.  Also, I prefer courses with a lot of twists and turns because they force me to think about the section that is right in front of me and not look at how far I need to go.  Today's course had a two long straight stretches that forced me to stay focused mentally.  Also, this race is special for me because last year I watched it being run from the window of the YMCA where I workout.  I remember that I just stood there looking out the window watching as to runners were passing and thinking how I wished that I could be one of them, but at that time, I was tilting the scales at around 300 lbs couldn't imagine running around the block let alone 6.2 miles.  However, one year later here I am running in the race that a year before I could only stand and watch.

Nash Square where the race began and finished.
 We could not have asked for better weather for today's race.  Nice and sunny with a high of around 68 degrees.  Hiro and I got to Nash Square at around 11:45am for a 1pm start time.  I am the type of person that hates to be late.  We hung around the park while I warmed up and stretched a little.  Hiro wasn't running to day, so she got photographer and stuff holder duty, which is why she is wearing my Raiders Toboggan, which I think looks damn good on her!

workin' out the kinks in my pesky left leg

Hiro wearing my Raiders hat and looking just too cute!
 I once again got pretty amped up by the start of the race.  This was my first afternoon race, so I didn't really know what to expect and kind of worried about when I should eat and how much, but I just tried to do things like I would on any day when I went for an afternoon run, and I didn't have any problems.  The start of the race didn't seem to have any problems from my vantage point.  I did however run my first mile way too fast at something close to 8 minute mile pace.  And, I paid for it a bit in the second mile, which was my worst of the race.  Starting the race too fast didn't seem to hurt me as much this time as it did at the Autism 5k.  I think that since it was a longer distance I felt more comfortable backing down from the pace than I did at the 5k.  At the Autism race, I tried to maintain the pace into the second mile and got crushed in mile 3.  Today, I backed off from my first mile pace during mile two and was able to recover.  At no point in today's race did I think that I might need to walk.  I was able to run the entire race.

Near the 1 mile mark and going too fast.
 Even though I ran the first mile too fast, I did not waste a lot of energy weaving in and out of the pack.  I stayed fairly close to the inside edge or the middle of the road and didn't really get tangled up with anyone.  The second and third miles were the most difficult of the race for me.  they were a series of long straight stretches and slow rises.  But by the  of the third mile, I had things sorted out for the most part and felt like I was running pretty strong. 

Mile 4 was really good for me.  It had a few hills in it and I was able to use them to pass a lot of people by following Bart Yasso's advice about hills from runners world.  I got into a cadence right before the hill then shortened my stride and maintained the cadence as I went up the hill.  Most of the people around me charged up the hills or just fell off at the start of the hill.  By the time, I reached the top the people that had charged their way up were fading while I felt fine and was able to open up my stride and pick up my pace.  This hill strategy was probably what made this distance a reality for me.  I have run this area before as part of my first 5k, and it took the wind right out of me.  I know that I am much stronger now, but I didn't feel these hills hardly at all. 

Mile 5 had two more hills then it was back on the straight stretch.  Along this part of the race I remembered that I had watched the end of last years race from one of the restaurants after my workout, but this year I was running it.  That memory really gave me and extra boost for the last half of the mile 5.  At the end of mile 5, the gun time was around 48 minutes if I remember right. 

Mile 6 was another long straightaway and was the most difficult mentally because I kept looking ahead for the last turn.  At this point my pace was picking up a little and I was trying to figure out just how much I had left in the tank for the home stretch.  As it turned out, I had a lot left and I used most of it.  Right at the 6 mile mark two ladies went by and I picked up my pace a the turn and went past them and another lady.  The third woman called out to me to "get after it!"  I turned and said, "I don't know about that." 

The woman in bib 1025 and I legging it out
 One of the two ladies picked up her pace and pulled even with me and the race was on!  I am not sure how many times we passed each other, but at one point she spoke to me and said, "your going to make me go faster?" or something like that, and I replied, "Come on you push me and I'll push you. " We both legged out the entire last .2 miles of the race, people were cheering us on.  Most of them were yelling at her to not let me beat her, and she pulled out a late burst to pull ahead of me right at the finish line. 
After we crossed she came back and gave me a high five and I was really glad that we were able to help each other shave off sometime from our race.  I wish that I had gotten a chance to speak with her more, but that wasn't a real option because. . .
After legging it out with 1025
 was crushed!  I really don't know how I stayed on my feet long enough for someone to take off my chip and hand me a bottle of water.  I knew that I should keep moving, but it just wasn't happening.  I was able to get up after a few minute or two and take some pictures with Hiro.
Dazed and sweaty but really happy!
enjoying some post race grapes and bagels
Overall, I can't see how this race could have gone any better!  I am just thrilled with everything about it.  I would like to give a shout out to Miss 1025, who really pushed me to finish this race the way that all races should be finished! 

My times for this race were 58:05 by gun and 57:25 by my racing chip, which gives me 9 min. 16 sec.miles by my chip time.