Sunday, October 31, 2010

Back on a Track: 10/31

I don't even want to try and count the number of years that it has been since I put even a toe on an outdoor track.  However, I decide to make use of the track that was built a bock away from my apartment.  Meredith college put in a new soccer field and track last year, but I have never made use of it.  I've thought about it for a while now but just never did anything about it.  I never liked running on tracks because they are really boring to run on and don't offer any shade.  But, I have several races coming up over the next five weeks and a nice rubberized flat surface only a block from my apartment was just way too inviting, so I was off to the track.  Luckily, the field was not in use today, so the track was open to the public.

Track I ran on today.  I am really lucky to live in one of the best areas for Runners in Raleigh.
I had planned on running the greenway, which starts right beside the track, but I was feeling a little bit more soreness in from my Plantar Fascittis this week than I have over the previous weeks and just thought that I shouldn't push it too much this close to my races.  I went for a little jog around the neighborhood before heading to the track to warm up, then did a little bit of stretching.  Running on the track felt great on my knees!  I could feel a huge difference between the track surface and the greenway and was immediately pleased with my decision.  I don't know any real speed drills to do on the track, so I just decide to do laps.  Next time I go to the track, I will have done my research.  I did 16 laps in lane six, which is close enough to four miles for me.  I didn't get bored  (Thank you Steve Jobs! If only the I-pod had existed when I was a kid!  I might not have gotten fat); however, the sun was really draining.  Today was in the 70's, but pretty sunny.  I could feel the difference from running in the shade of Umstead's trees the day before.  I'll really need to pay attention to my hydration when I use the track.  Overall, I enjoy myself and will try to pun in more time on the track.  I know that my knees will thank me.  After my run, I did some more stretching and then went home to watch the Raider's crush the Seahawks!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pre-Halloween Umstead Monster Run: 10/30

If you had told me before I left the house that I was going to have a great run today, I would have scoffed at you.  My left leg had been cranky since Thursday, and I had little to no energy on Thursday or Friday.  In fact, I used a rainstorm that blew in just about an hour before running group to stay home.  I could have gone because the rain stopped about 10 mins. before I needed to be there, but I just didn't feel it at all.  On Friday, I thought about going to the gym to stretch, do some abs, and use the foam roller, but that idea never made past the thinking stage.  And I wouldn't say that I felt anything close to wonderful when I woke up this morning, just "normal" at best.  But, I did change a few things up that might have factored into today's Monster Run!  I call this one a monster because I ran the same course that I always run in Umstead (the loop of the Company Mill Trial) nearly 1 min and 10 seconds faster than my best run.  Two weeks ago I nearly passed out after running the 3.9 miles of this hilly loop trail in 42:36.4, but my time today was 41:26.7 and I was not as gassed doing it.  I am not sure what produce such a big change in my time, but I can point to a some changes in the way that I prepared and ran that are probably big factors. Two days rest might have helped, but I have given myself two days rest before an not seen this type of result, so I think it was more do to these change:

  1. Instead of walking the trail to the bridge where I start my run, I did a light jog which warmed me up more.
  2. I changed the way I run up hills by shortening my strides.
The stream that runs beside part of the trail
This morning was pretty cold when I got to the park.  The low for today was 47 degrees and our high today was only 64.  Thank you for the return of fall!  87 degrees in late October is nuts!  I would guess that it was still in the upper 40's at 9am when I left for the park.  I only live 10 mins from Umstead, so I hadn't warmed up on bit by the time I left my car and stared down the trail, also I shaved my head last week, so I was feeling the chill, and after walking a bit I decide to jog because I knew the air was only going to get colder due to the shade from the trees and the air coming off of the stream that I would be running along for the first half mile and last half mile of the loop.  The stream wouldn't matter for the last half mile, but for the first half . . . .brrrrr . . . is the word.  So, I did a light jog down the trial to the bridge where I start my run, then stopped for a stretch before I crossed the bridge and began my run.  While I was stretching, I could see that the morning fog was still coming off of the water and steam was coming off of the top of my head!  I felt much more loose than I usual when I started running.  I had never jogged like this before when running in Umstead because it took everything I had just to run the distance of the loop, but recently I have moved beyond the 3 to 4 mile range and knew that the light jog would not hinder my run.
One of the more tricky part of the run are these steps that I have to run down.
It looks like this photo was taken from about half way up.

I felt good at the beginning of the run and didn't notice the cold air at all, but didn't let myself get carried away and open it up too early in the run, which has happened in the past.  Last week I was able to get in a good run on a day where I wasn't running my best by running smarter.  I am not Steve Prefontaine, and I need to realize that I need to manage my runs in order to get my best results.  Coincidentally, I got my first copy of Runner's Word this week and was reading their advice to beginning runner's.  One of the things that they said was that beginners shouldn't charge up a hill; that just before you get to the hill, you should shorten you stride, but keep the same cadence.  In doing so, you will conserve energy and still go up the hill at a good pace.  I put this advice into practice today, and I can honestly say that I think it helped a great deal.  I found at least two different spots where I was able to open up my stride and run harder than I have in the past after the hills flattened out.  Before, I could really take advantage of these good flat spots because I was using them to catch my breath, but I think that running this way is what enabled me to crush this run!  All in all, I was able to conserve a lot of energy to really push the end of the run.  When, I stopped running I was pretty winded, but I wasn't dazed like I was two weeks ago, and I even managed to jog a bit on my way back to the parking area. 

After my run, I drove to the Y for a stretch and to hit the foam roller.  If you haven't tried the foam roller I strongly suggest that you do.  It really helps with muscle tightness.  My PA suggests using the roller first then stretching, which is what I have been doing, and I can feel a huge difference versus only stretching.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lunch on the Run: 10/27

It was a busy day for me, so I had to fit my run in during my lunch hour becauseI had tickets to the Caps vs. the Canes at the RBC Center, which was a great game for me because my Caps shutout the Home town Canes 3-0!  I had planned on going to the AM Sports Conditioning class at the Y, but I just couldn't get going this morning.  However I wanted to fit a workout or a run in today because on a whim I signed up for my first 10 k . . . and . . . it will be in two weeks!  Next weekend I'll run a 5k then eight days later, I'll do my first 10k.  I think that I am ready for the distance, and I'm not worried about hitting any goal time since it will be my first 10K, a PR is going to happen!  Anyway, this morning Hiro took our car to her work, and I took my bicycle, which gave me the Idea that at lunch I would just run a 5k course to her work, get the car, drive to our apartment, shower, grab a sandwich and head back to work.  After work I could put my bike on the bike rack and pick up Hiro, then we could grab some and drop off the bike on our way to the game. 

Not where or how I spent my lunch
It seems like a bonehead plan it might not be the best idea that I have ever had, but I wanted to try!  So this morning I mapped out my run before I left the house.  Hiro And I only work about 2 miles from one another, so I need to add in some additional twists and turns to make the right distance.  I ended up with a route that was just over 3.2 miles, and had four nice size uphills and two good downhills.  Unfortunately it was unseasonable hot today with highs in the mid eighty's!  The run itself went really well, but I was super sweaty when I got home.  I couldn't stop sweating even after my shower, so I had to wear some transition clothes until I stopped sweating.  The afternoon went by pretty quickly, I thought that the run might make me sleepy but, I was wide awake because I was so frantic to get back to work closed to on time.  Next time I do his it will be a day that Hiro has ridden her bike to work, so I can just run to the apartment.  I lost a lot of time today driving from Hiro's work to out apartment,    Overall, I know that I will do this again, but there is no way that I could do it in the summer because I would melt.

Monday, October 25, 2010

nOg Running Group: 10/25

Hiro and I joined  The nOg Run Club, which is a social running collaboration put together by the folks at Fleet Feet and Tir Na Nog Pub in downtown Raleigh.  They host weekly runs on Monday night through the downtown streets of Raleigh.  Wendy, one of the runners from last weeks Thursday group run at Fleet Feet gave me the details.  You pay $1 when you sign up, and the give you a little key chain scan card, then every time you take part in the run you scan your card, after you come to 10 runs you get a technical running shirt with the club logo, and after 25 runs you get a Run Club Mug.  The run starts at 6pm, but there is a straggler run that starts at 6:30pm, and they have course drawn up for 3, 4, 5, and 6 miles.  They even give you small had held laminated maps.  After the runs you return to the pub and pay one more dollar and get a buffet pasta dinner.  It is an awesome deal!  Basically, the only thing that you pay for is your bar tab, which for us will always be minimal because Hiro is allergic to alcohol (Asian Glow) and doesn't want esophageal cancer, so can anyone say Greg has a life long DD and I rarely drink, so we are talking minimal expense.

Today was our first run, so we had to fill out some waivers, which made us late to the start.  We didn't feel like waiting for the straggler start, so we left at around 6:10 with some like minded folks.  You run in the streets opposite the traffic, and the organizer have tried to put you on less traveled streets, but this is still the downtown, so awareness is key.  For this run we did the 3 mile route, which both of us completed with no problems at all.  In fact, we were shocked that it was three miles because neither of us felt too tired by it.  I didn't time it because I just wanted to have a good run.  Honestly, I doubt that I'll ever time one of these runs, this is just more about enjoying the run.  The Oct. 18th run had 271 people, no totals for this one, but my guess is that it was shy of that mark because of the rain that we got earlier.  The weather was perfect for the run, however, and the sky was just awesome.  The nOg Run is sure to become a fixture of my week from here on out!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art Museum Greenway 5.5 Miler: 10/24

The Green way path I ran along and one of the exhibits
Today's run was much better than yesterday's, and I can  tell that I have become a stronger runner.  My endurance has improved more than I expected it would by this point in the year.  I live about two blocks from one of Raleigh's best Greenway's.  It starts at Meredith College goes through the NC Museum of Art Park and goes straight out to Umstead park where I run on Saturday's.  I am not to the point where I can run all of the to Umstead and back.  I felt as if I could run to the museum and back, which is 5.5 miles of hills -- really good sized hills.  I never gave any thought to just doing a 4 mile out and back because I had my mind made up to do the 5.5 lollipop route around the museum once I ran through the art park.   The greenway is paved and open to bikes, so you need to watch out as I found out today.  I was actually hit by a kid on a bicycle.  Luckily his front tire just struck the bottom of my shoe as I was lifting my foot off the ground.  I more startled me than anything, but it did make me jumpy for the entire return.  The kid was part of a group of something like six kids and three dad's all on bikes, who would pass on the up hills and would pass me on the down hills, but if anything they actually made me run a bit faster, so I can't complain.

The Rodin Sculpture Garden which I can see on my run
I used to ride this greenway on my bicycle as well, and I would see runners on it, but I never thought that one day I would be one of them.  I was really kind of a small personal milestone.  I was pretty sure that I would be able to do it but wasn't sure just how bad it would hurt.  I knew that I would at least enjoy running through the exhibits, which make the art park one Hiro and I's favorite places to picnic.  Today was a bid windy, but it was wonderful to feel the breeze as I ran through the park as I began my return trip.  This run was just a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I was going to time this run, but not run for a certain time, but I messed up the stop watch on my I-pod.  It didn't matter anyway.  All I wanted to know was just how long it took to run the course at a normal pace.  After I finished I felt good and wasn't winded, it was just a nice little run.
The new wing of the Museum that opened this year with the Rodin's

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Running Duvall's Way -- Umstead Run: 10/23

Umstead Saturday is the highlight of my exercise week.  I look forward to it every week and think about it all the time.  I just really like running in that park, maybe because it reminds me of everything I liked about growing up in West Virginia or it could just be that it good to get a way from the city streets for an hour or two.  It doesn't really matter why I love it so much, what matter is that I have found a place where I enjoy running.  I am still running the loop portion of the Company Mill Trail, but there are several other trails, which I could run once I get tired of this trail or distance.  For now the company mill trail is just fine, and now that I have found the stopwatch feature on my i-pod, I can keep my times and compare them from week to week.

This week's run was a few seconds off from last week, which 42:36.4  I did the same course in 42:47.1 this week, which I am really very pleased with because I felt like I was struggling much more this week.  I was fighting the trail a lot more during the second half of the run.  There were a combination of reasons why: my left quad was feeling a little tight (my left leg is a constant source of problems), the light through the trees and the leaves on the ground made it difficult to see or stay on the trail at times, and I was feeling a little dehydrated from all of the stomach issues that I had this week.  However, what pleased my about this run is that I recognized that I was not running nearly as strong as I did the week before and was able to adjust the way I ran.  It was like that scene in Days of Thunder (yes I know it is Tog Gun in race cars, but it is on TV all the time and will suck you in nearly as much as The Poseidon Adventure) where Robert Duvall's
character lets Cole Trickle drive so many mile his own way then has him drive his way and they compare times.  Of course Duvall's way produces a better time and doesn't melt the tires.  Well today I ran Duval's way, I picked my spots to open it up and run faster, and I did much better about conserving energy on the hills.  I wasn't forced to stop running, and never really felt like I needed to think about walking.  I would really like to get to the point where I an produce a good time through running efficiently because I could feel a big difference this week from last week.  When I finished last week I was beat, I was taking in monster deep breaths and a bit dizzy and was incapable of continuing, but this week I felt much better.  I was winded but recovered quickly -- a lot faster than I did the week before.  I hope that if I can learn how to run a smart race that I can produce a better time by running smart for the majority of the race and then have enough energy left to really unwind it at the end.  Anyhow, even though I never was really comfortable in this run I feel great about the outcome, which is a great way to end a difficult week!

Hiro Goes to Running Group & Four Miles of DAIKKON Fun: 10/21

Yeah!!! Hiro joined me for my new running group that meets up at Fleet Feet on Thursday nights at 6pm.  This is a big deal because when it comes to training (these are her words -- not mine, but I do agree), she is incredibly lazy!  Don't get me wrong, Hiro is not a lazy person and has an great work ethic, but she is one of those rare people that is just really athletically inclined, so she doesn't have to train hard in order to preform most athletic activities at an acceptable level.  I offer this as a very stupid trivial example of  her abilities and how frustrating they can be: a few years back Hiro, and a friend went to the North Carolina State Fair together and were playing some games.  Hiro's friend and I lost seven straight games of Wac-a-mole to Hiro, the whole time she played while eating an ice cream cone.  She didn't spill one drop of ice cream nor lose a single game until the last when she had already gotten the prize she wanted.  Hiro's friend was so frustrated that she dismember the chintzy little stuffed bear she one in the last game.  I on the other hand long before gotten use to losing to her. 

Hiro & Her Prize
So since Hiro doesn't train that much (for her 5k, she logged at most five 30 min runs on the treadmill in the month before she busted out a time of 26:45, smiling the entire way), I was shocked that she agreed to come with me to the running group.  Last week, I really had a good time and was expecting to run with the same group of ladies that I ran with.  They were really nice, and their pace was perfect for me.  However, they weren't anywhere to be found when we arrived at the store (I later found out that they had gotten there earlier and left before us).  Hiro and I fell in with a group of runners that were forming up, but who we could tell were much stronger runners than us.  Also, I had been having some stomach pains most of the day because of some Daikkon radish I had eaten the day before.  Daikkon is really tasty, but it has been known to make one a bit on the gassy side from time to time.  I did realize just how hard it would hit me until it was much too late. 

Our group started out on what was suppose to be a 5 miler, but I knew that right from the start that this run was going to be brutal.  Their pace was at a much faster clip than I was accustom.  Hiro and I did really well keeping up for the first mile and half, but their was hardly any talking for us.  At around the mile mark my stomach had started to act up, an by the mile and a half point I was really starting to feel bad.  When we hit the two mile mark we were still right with the group, but I was in really bad pain, and when two other runner decide to cut the run short I asked Hiro to do the same.  We stopped and walked a little bit just so that I could sort out my stomach issues.  Once I determined that I wasn't going to have to look for some bushes, we were able to run the remainder of the way back.  We walked less than a quarter mile, and enjoyed a nice little chat on the way back. 

Once we returned, we met up with the group of runners from last week and made plans to run with them for the next week.  Then we met up with the group that we ran with today and they told us about another run that happens in downtown Raleigh on Monday's, which we plan to attend.  On the way home my stomach went total ape-shite me and just started singing.  But, Hiro said that she had a good time and that she wanted to go again next week, so was really happy I went because  I might make a running partner out of my wife -- at least a part-time running partner.  My stomach was cranky all night, and has been pretty much the same today because when we got home all we had to eat was some fish and the left over Daikkon from the night before!!!  I am stocking up on pasta for next week!  No more Daikkon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Running Gives Proof: 10/20

**this post is about running and the role it plays in my life: I am not fishing for condolences, so please limit any comment to those about running.  I don't want to sound like an ass, but I not looking for "sorry to hear that comments"**

For the second time this month, I've turned to running as a way to deal with difficult day.  Finding solace in the rhythm of running is a significant change for me.  I've enjoyed exercise for a while now, but  many times  a bad mood or difficult day has drained me of my will to go to the gym.  Recently, however, bad days compel me to run.  I know that sitting around watching TV will not improve my mood, and there there comes a point where talking about the problem isn't going to do anymore to improve the situation.  And, sometime especially with work issues Hiro has heard it all before and has her own problems to deal with, so going for a run become a much better way to work things out .  I think that we are both better served by hitting the highlights, declaring it a crappy day, and lacing up the Sauconys to pound out a few miles.  I've given it a lot of thought as to why running provides me with such comfort.  I think it is the fact that it forces me to breath.  Breathing is so easily ignored, but the way we breath has a direct impact on our minds and our though processes.  I think that when I am running and running well my body and mind shut down all non-essential systems, which allows move past all of the stuff is weighing me down.

Wednesday was supposed to be a good day: Hiro was interviewing for a new position and I was very confident that she would get the Job because . . . well . . . she Rocks!  I was interviewing for new student workers and had a really good crop of candidates.  I just really thought it would be a good day.  All of the work stuff that we had went well, and we were just sitting around chatting when we got a text from a friend about a kitten we had picked out and were going to adopt in a few weeks.  Without getting into too much detail, the kitten wasn't doing well, and I started to worry.  Before we could contact her we got another text that he had suddenly passed away.  I was so shocked.  The fact that his life had been so brief just made me feel horrible.  And, I've been struggled recently with a lot of life/death stuff because one my co-workers suddenly passed away of a brain aneurysm last month, she had only been 42 years old.  Two days before she died I had been in her office talking with her and some of her co-workers about a 5k that I was going to run. And, just prior to that, the student worker in our office had to withdraw from school due to deaths in her family.  It is strange because all of these things have happen right at a time where running has become such an important part of my life.  Running has given me an outlet for all of the negative thoughts.  But, more importantly it has given me a stronger connection to life.  I've started to wonder if the main appeal of running is that it connects us to life so strongly.  Running makes us feel the beating of our hearts, we notice the air in our lungs.  We feel life in our bodies when we run.  Maybe that is why on a bad day now, I want nothing more than to go for a run.  I just want to prove to myself that hey I am alive and that is all that really matters.  Enjoy your life because it is a gift.  So after learning that our kitten had passed away I cried, then went for a two mile run to clear my mind.  I was still sad when I returned but felt a little better, much better than I would have if I just sat around doing nothing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treadmill Tuesday post Char-Grill Run: 10/19

I went to the gym today to get in some time on the treadmill.  I wanted to run the treadmill because I needed to be able to stop where I was if I started having stomach issues.  My stomach had been a bit testy all day due to Char-Grill a local landmark burger joint , which is an awesome place to eat, but not great if you are planning to run the next day!  So, I wisely decided to run on the treadmill.  Hiro and I also had stuff to do, so my running window was really narrow.

The Run was alright and I was able to run at much faster pace than I could in the past.  However, I realize that I no longer enjoy the treadmill as much as I did in the past.  The trails and streets are much more appealing to me.  This is a big deal for me because I never thought that I would be the type of person that you would find running through the city streets or along a trail.  Now, I just love that I am out from under the artificial light and am not forced to stare at TV permanently tuned into the 24 hour noise/news channels!

Treadmill Run
3 min @ 3.6
2 min @ 6.8
10 min @ 7.2
3 min @ 3.6
2 min @ 4.2
2 min @ 7.2 (I started having stomach pains here)
3 min @ 6.8 a combination of stomach pains and a need to leave caused me to stop after 25 mins.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inadvertent Intervals & Advice III: Sunday 10/17

I've been feeling great this week.  My worst run was my the race on the 9th, even that was a new PR, I've run my first 5 miler, and crushed my run in Umstead on Saturday.  Also, I hit a new weekly mileage total: 18 miles, so I knew that the bear was out there waiting for me and at some point he was just going to jump on my back turning one of my runs into a total grunt fest, but after running so well in Umstead on Saturday, I just couldn't bring myself to imagine that it would happen of Sunday.  Well, I am a frickin idiot! couldn't have been so wrong!  Like my Raiders, who were trying to put together back to back wins and did a face plant, my attempt to put together two strong runs in a row went nowhere quickly.  As soon as I got out of my apartment complex, the bear jumped on my back and demanded that I take him for a ride.  I struggled the through the first mile and a half of the run, but after stopping off at Hiro's work for a quick chat, the return trip home turned into an inadvertent interval workout.  I just couldn't get going and could feel that my quad was giving some serious thought to throwing a fit.  So this run turned into a run/walk with that mean old bear just laughing the whole way home.  Topping things off, the Raiders played a shameful game that just told me that it wasn't meant to be my day. 

Monday I took the day off and while reading through some of the blogs that I follow, I came to Scott's blog: 180 Day Experiment where he was asking for advice about staying motivated.  Scott and I know each other through a college buddy of mine, who is a good friend of his.  We haven't spoken or anything, but we follow each others blogs because we are both fighting the same fight.  He started out at 315 and is now down in his 260's, and I started at 316 and am now in the low 270's, so I can really identify with his struggle.  The main differences between us is that he adheres to a much more strict diet while, I don't follow a diet, but just try to eat healthy.  I understand the ebbs and flows of motivation.  I struggle with it from time to time as well, so I feel like it is a good time to talk about motivation.

I've been working out regularly for just around a year now, I started by taking morning classes, but I've transitioned away from taking classes and began running more as my interest formed around running.  Injuries have caused me to transition and change up my workouts, but I've been able to stay motivated because I  have expected this whole process to be difficult.  If it weren't difficult, more people would do this.  Personally, I needed something difficult in my life that was going to cause me to struggle and apply myself, and I have tried to embrace the attitude that whatever challenges come my way are only going to be temporary.  It is the same thing with running.  Crappy runs happen.  They are unavoidable and I just try to look at them as bear that has to be crossed every once in a while.  So, for me periods of waning motivation are just a natural aspect of this process.  I don't try to avoid them, push through then, or anything.  I just look at them as temporary and know that my motivation will return in due course.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Saturday Umstead Run: 10/16

I run the loop portion of the company mill trail

I really wish that I had run last week's 5k like I ran in Umstead today.  I felt really good the entire run.  No problems with my quad or side.  It was just a great run.  My Plantar Fasciites has flared up some, but I am treating it.  The tendons on the bottoms of my feet were a little cranky at the beginning of my run, but by about the 2 mile mark they were feeling alright or I stopped thinking about them, but either way, they didn't hold me back in the slightest.  I just discovered that my I-pod has a stopwatch feature, so I was able to get an accurate time: 42:36, which is not bad for 3.91 miles of up and down trails with some pretty tricky spots.  I am pretty sure that this is the fastest that I have run the company mill loop.  Today's run was one of my most complete efforts ever.  No problems navigating the rocks and roots, and I ran stronger the longer I ran.  Also, I was pushing harder in parts of the trail where I haven't in the past and didn't run any less strong else where.  I had a great personal moment towards the end of my run when I was passing a group of scouts hiking along a flat stretch of the trail just before the finish.  They were cubs scout age and as I went by one group they start yelling to the group in front "watch out for the runner" and "hey, there's a runner coming!"  Not jogger, not a guy walking, but a "runner," and today I felt it: I am a runner.  It is great to finally feel that way!
Each trail has its  own symbol to help you stay on the right trail

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First 5 Miler: 10/14

My first five miler was a big achievement for me, but not because I did it.  What was the big achievement is that I was Mr. Chatty Pants the whole time.  I joined a running group for our local Fleet Feet for the first time.  And, I had a great time.  In the morning when I run with my classes, my mind can't function.  It is still dark and my brain is running on only it's most basic systems.  By the time I an close to functional, the rest of the class has left me far behind.  However, the group that I ran with today stuck together for the most part until the end when three of us pulled away.  We did the whole run at about a 9:45  pace, which is really great considering all of the hills and talking.  I really enjoyed this run and am sure it will become a regular fixture of my workouts.  Also, this has me thinking that a half might be a bit closer than I thought.  Maybe in the spring rather than the fall.  We shall see.  But for right now, I am just happy that things are going well.  My PF is not hurting too much, so I can really enjoy my runs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Lunch Hour Run: 5k 10/13

The Free to Breathe 5k on Nov. 6th in Raleigh is being run right on the campus where I work.  The course goes right past my office, so today just before lunch, I thought to myself "why should I wait till after work to run?"  So, I changed in to my running clothes, which I had in my bag for the gym and went for a run.  I ran the exact course that I will be running on the 6th.  I took along a stop watch that one of my co-workers had for his work, so I even have an accurate time: 28:23:15, which is not bad at all.  This is a hilly course and there was some lunch hour traffic to deal with, but mainly -- I never really opened it up.  I just ran my normal pace the whole way.  I think that this might be a slower course than the last two race that I have run, but I won't know that for sure until I have run it a few more times.  I plan to run it at least two more time before the race, and the lunch time run might happen more often.  Luckily, I live very close to work, so I can go home and shower if needed.  However, what I may end up doing is riding my bicycle to work in the morning, running at lunch, ending at home, showering, then drive back to work and put the bike back on the rack on the way home.  Hmmm . . . sounds like a plan to me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday Plycore:Slowly Backing It Down 10/11

I could have taken Monday off, but I want to do a little cross training before my taking a day off.  So, I went to Plycore class, which was nice.  It was kind of different from what I am used to doing in the class.  It was much more of an aerobic and kind of low impact, which I really needed.  I stayed for 45mins of the class before going and hitting the foam roller and stretching.  I knew before class that we would no longer be running outside in the morning as part of this class, so I will now be able to change up my workouts a bit easier over the next few weeks.  I might be able to move my long runs to Sunday if Friday's CrossFit class kicks the tar out of me.

Tuesday is an off day, and I plan to run on Wednesday rather than attend class.  I may or may not do the ab portion of class, but I plan on starting a daily ab workout for myself over the next two months.  I am pretty sure that my gut negatively effects my running and working on my core would really help my running.  I don't plan to go crazy but just get in a little bit each day to see if I can tighten up some.  At the least, my back and upper legs will benefit from it. 

Mentally, I am feeling alright following the run.  I am really glad that I signed up for the 5k in November because two months would have been just too long to wait for my next race. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recovery Run or Whatever You Choose to Call It and an Article: 10/10

I am not a science guy but the science of running interest me.  From time to time, I will post different articles about running that I come across not because I take them as gospel, but because I am pretty new to running, and I want to know what the conventional wisdom is saying.  There are so many sources of good, bad, and misinformation out their that I am more looking for patterns rather one place that holds all of the answers.  So, I have been reading tons of blogs, looking up articles on the web, and have signed up for a subscription to . . . wait for it . . . yes . . . Runners World in order to get a broad range of information.  Recently on other blogs I have been reading: I Am Boring said something about doing a recovery run, and despite not being able to find the post again because I am too lazy to scroll through his whole blog again, so I google the heck out it the term and found lots of interesting info, which all seemed to disagree with each other on one level or another.  Below, you find a link to one article that seem fairly interesting, didn't put meet to sleep, or sound like someone rocking back and forth on their own little hobby horse. 

A Fresh Perspective on Recovery Runs

The reason that I was interested in the concept of a recovery run is that I felt like total garbage after each of my last 5k's for the better part of week, something I didn't care to repeat after Saturday's race.  I already figured that it would be less likely because this race was on a much less humid day, and my conditioning has improved greatly since either of those races.  But, I just didn't want to sit on my couch and watch football all day, so after reading up on recovery runs and deciding that I probably didn't need to do one, I did one anyway.  I also think that I just wanted to get back out there to try to aid in my mental recovery.  I felt better about the race after getting a nights sleep, and the time didn't bother me.  It was the fact that I had to stop running that really had me down.  I basically wanted to run just to clear my mind.  However, I wanted to take it easy and run on as flat a surface as I could.  About a mile from my apartment there is road that is just perfect for my needs.  Fleet Feet of Raleigh is right near there, so there are all kinds of runners and jogger running along that stretch of road.  It also has really nice bike lanes, so it is just ideal.  I walked the mile to where the road started then did an easy 3 mile.  It was just what I need to sort myself out.  After walking the mile home, I felt really relaxed.  I didn't have any pains or soreness to speak of at all, so I was just pleased as punch with my recovery run or . . . whatever?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5k: Lessons Learned (race report) 10/9

OK, I set a new PR: 25:45!  This is 45 seconds faster than my last 5k, and this was on a much more difficult course, which make me happy.  However, I did not get my goal time of 25:00 mins flat, but I did learn a lot a valuable lessons. 

My motto for the race which is from Frayed Laces Blog.
 The Triangle Run/Walk for Autism 5k was a race that I had been looking forward to for about four months.  I signed up for the race sometime in June and had really big aspirations about, both running and civic.  I tried to organize a team for this race at work, but it never got off the ground like I had hoped.  I was able to put together a small team, but I had really hoped to have a lot more people take part in the race, and I was disappointed with this aspect of the race.  The people, who did join me were awesome, and I really want to thank them because this race was really for a great cause.  Being a team leader is something that I will do again, but I will make sure that I on those days I am running the race just for fun and enjoyment because I need to focus on either my individual goal or organizing my team -- not both.  Yesterday, I just couldn't get focused on running my race.  I am the type of person that internalizes a lot in order to get focused.  For about 20mins. before the race I need to just listen to my music go over things in my head and just pump myself up, which isn't really a good way to go about things when you are leading a team, so I won't try to combine the two efforts again. 

Prerace warm up
 Also, this race was my first competitive race with close to 1000 participants, and I really did not know what to expect.  I know that there would be some bunching up at the start of the race, but I was not prepared for the number of slower runners who lined up at the front.  I expended a lot of energy at the beginning just trying to weave my way through the crowd.  I should have expected this, and I did to some extent, but I just wasn't prepared for it.  I also should have lined up a bit closer myself, by my timing chip I can tell that it took 30 seconds just to reach the starting line, which is not bad when think about how long it takes a some Marathons, but for this event, I was clearly lined up in the wrong spot. 

Unfortunately, I let these distractions effect how I ran my race.  I really wanted to get clear of the pack, which led me to run the first mile at a much faster pace than I wanted.  Also my quad had started to tighten up the night before just enough to be a distraction.  I don't think that it effected how I ran physically speaking, but mentally I was distracted by the slight burning I felt in it.  At the one mile mark, I was doing OK and was optimistic that things would get better for me as the race progressed, but it just never happened.  The 1.5 mile marker was right at the foot of the on big hill on the course, which I went up fairly well, but the hill didn't level off.  Instead, you made a right turn and immediately went in to a slow incline, which just took the life out of me because right after that incline I started having really bad pains in my back right side on the edge of my rib cage.  I tried to run through them but right as the were hitting I was also running past a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop/factory and smell nearly made me sick.  Eventually, just after the 2 mile marker I had to pull up for a few seconds to catch my breath and let the pain subside, which it did.  I was able to get going again, and recover most of the distance that I had lost, but the pain returned, so I had to do the same thing two more times before I reached the 2.75 mile marker, after that point I was able to gut out the rest of the way but I wasn't able to recover all of the ground that I lost from pulling up.  I would say that I lost about 20 seconds from pulling up. 

Hiro & I walking with our friends after the race: She is still smiling!
I know that these difficulties later in the race were the result of my bad start.  I just wasted to much energy, got flustered, and ran too fast.  My first mile should have been a 9min mile not an 8!  Hiroko on the other hand Had a great race!!  I am really proud of her.  She finished at 26:45, ran the whole thing, legged it out with some guy at the end who might have cross the line one second before her, but who she smoked on the chip time!  She said that she couldn't stop smiling the whole race because she was enjoying herself so much!  I am really glad because now I might be able to get her to run with me a bit more!  After the race we walked back and met some friends of our who were walking in the non-competitive race with their son, who has Autism.  Hiro and I were really happy that we could walk with them and support a cause that help provide their family and many other families with much needed assistance.  We all had a really good day and enjoyed our time walking together.

Greg how do you feel about the way you ran today?
After the race, I started feeling really hungry and got kind of cranky.  I didn't go and eat anything from any of the hospitality booths, which I really should have done.  My hunger and dissatisfaction were so strong that when Hiro offer to cook when we got home, I spent my time looking for and registering for another 5k which I'll run in 27 days!  The course for this 5k is going to be much more hilly, but is run right where I work so I can get practice on the course.  All in all this was a good experience.  I learned a lot about myself and how to be a leader vs. an Individual runner both of which are important to me.  I got to support a really great cause.  Hiroko was able to enjoy a race in a that she did not expect.  And, I was able to meet a lot new people that I expect to be running with again very soon!

Did you have fun today?  Of Course!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pre-Race Stuff and Goal Time Announcement: 10/8

This post will be about my pre-race stuff, no workout yesterday or today.  I went and picked up my race packet yesterday, and I am not feeling any nervousness, which is different from my last 5k.  I started getting nervous on the way to pickup my race packet, and I didn't really settle down until about a mile into the run.  Right now, I'm a calm as a Hindu cow. . . we'll see if this continues.  Last night Hiro and I went and drove the course, which pretty strait and flat with only one good sized hill right around the 2 mile mark.  Hiro is getting a bit wound up about it.  This will be her first timed run and she has not been running nearly as much as I have.  We are not planning to stick together at all because I really want to go after my goal time.

I ran my last 5k in 26:30.8 on a really flat course, but one that had many more twists and turns and on a much warmer day.  My goal time for this 5K is 25:00 minutes flat, which would put me at just over 8 minute mile pace for the whole race, and would mean that I shave 90 seconds off of my PR.  I am not sure how realistic this goal is for this race, but I would rather flame out trying for a goal I am not sure that I'll reach than pick something safe just so I don't have to come back On my blog and say I didn't get my goal.  So, there it is:  My goal is 25 Minutes!

The tightness in my quad has passed, and my heels feel better than they have in months.  I am not feeling anything from Wednesdays 4.8 miles.  The heels were a little sore yesterday, but today they feel good.  I'll tape everything up good tonight before bed, and be ready to roll in the morning. 

Here are some of the songs that will be in my I-pod for the race:

Black Sheep by Metric
How You Like Me Now by The Heavy
Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
Steady as She Goes by The Raconteurs
Back Against the Wall by Cage the Elephant
Electric Feel by MGMT
Whataya Want From Me by Adam Lambert (don't judge me!)
E-pro by Beck

Speaking of I-pods, check out this I-pod give away Shut Up and Run! is doing if you have time.

Well, I guess that this is about all for now.  Next post should be a Race Report.  See you at the Starting line!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wow! Is for Wednesday: . Quesadilla Fajitas 4.8 mile run Two-a-day! (10/6)

The plan is toast!  But, I think it is in a good way.  Here are the most important details of the day:

  1. I got up and went to Sports Conditioning Class: it was so-so.
  2. I went to work and had a craptastic day, and I am not even sure why.
  3. I ate Mexican food for lunch.
  4. I came home and went for a run.  (I know where you might think this is going considering I once held the nickname "Puke Skywalker," but not this time!
  5. I ran 4.81 mile along the most hilly street in Raleigh  and did it in somewhere around 40 mins. (I need a Garmin!!)
Alright, let's expand on the these.  The class was only alright because I didn't really feel like pushing myself too hard.  And, to be honest I am struggling with this class because it never changes all that much.  I know that I need the ab workout and cross training is important.  However, it is difficult for me because the class has change very little in the year that I have been attending.  I know that their is a good side to such stability, but I am just not enjoying it at this moment.  I stopped at the 30 minute point to get some extra stretching and to use the foam roller, which I have been doing over the last few weeks when the class begins doing more jumping exercises, which would wreck my heels.

Today's Lunch: not sure how I kept this in me!
I am going to make the work portion of this quick b/c it isn't important in the long run.  I just had one of those days where you think I would just can't wait for work to be over, and you would love nothing more than to uninvent the fluorescent light bulb!  Fluorescent light bulbs -- Yuck!  Mexican Food yum!  However, running nearly 5 miles after Mexican food when you weigh as much as a small Llama is not the best idea. BTW: (My weight = Small  llama regardless of eating Mexican)

In fact, it usually a recipe for disaster.  However, today was not the case.  I had not planned this run, but after work, I knew that I needed to run or I would just sit a stew all night, so I asked Hiro if she want to go for a run with me and once she stopped laughing enough to shake her head no, I was out the door without any real idea where I was going.  I decided to run along Wade Ave. because it is the only really hilly spot near where I live, and I wanted to run on cement somewhere more challenging than the 5k course will be on Saturday.  Also, if I had seen someone running along that street 6 months ago, I would have thought they were nuts.  The street is only has small rolling hills, but they are some of the biggest hills that you will find around here.  I had a bit of stomach pain toward the tail end of Wade Ave., but it in noway slowed me down.  Once I hit about 2.5 miles had no problems.  I was really shocked at how easily I handled the hills.  All of those Umstead runs are paying off.

It was a nice cool day, and I was running just before Sundown, so it felt great to be out.  I still had a nice sweat going and could tell that this was going to be a great run when I finished.  The best part of the run came at the last half mile or so.  I was running south on a street and a running group happened to be running north (may a dozen or so people), and we me up at an intersection at the same time, and we all turned west at the same time.  I fell right in with them for the last half mile of my run, it was an awesome feeling because I ran right to the front of their group and then out past them.  I wasn't trying to do it, but I was just running really strong and got excited.  I doubt that they cared in the slightest.  But, I just really liked the feeling because it made me think that I might be able to call myself a runner at last. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Plan Change, The Second Worst Movie, and Road ID: Oct. 5th

I can't believe they made a sequel! I know
That if I go to hell, I'll be forced to watch them
for eternity.

The instructor for my toning class was changed today, so Hiroko and I decided not to attend.  I might have stayed in the class had the instructor not said for us to get a Bosu as soon as she entered the room. I HATE THE BOSU!!!  There are several things in this world that I could live my whole life and not experience again and be very Happy:

1) Watch the Ethan Hawke movie Before Sunrise -- 2nd worst film that I have watched.  Pretentsion Optimized!  I would almost rather watch every Merchant/Ivory production ever made than that movie.
2) Eat in a cafeteria again.  (Germ factories and heaven's waiting room) honestly few places force us to face our own mortality more than a cafeteria, and I live in the south, so throw in some morbid obesity to go along with everything else!
3) A drunken 5am train ride from Roppongi station to Kasukabe.  Trust me.  This one has to be lived about once every other weekend for the better part of a year to be understood.  Horrid.
4) Stepping one single foot on a Bosu.  My finger is still messed up from the one bosu class my wife talked me into attending. 
5) Living in Fairmont, WV.  The only way I will move back is in a box!  Some people love the place, and I do like to visit, but living there is not for me.

Anyway, now that my rant is over, and I have alienated every member of the Fairmont, WV chapter of the Ethan Hawke Fan Club, which is meeting at this very moment in the K&W cafeteria on Gaston Ave., I'll move on.  (btw: I know that there is no K&W in Fairmont, but there should be, they would make a killing --  pun intended!)

So, all today's workout consisted of was a 1 mile run, which was awesome.  I was able to complete it in 7 and a half minutes on the indoor track.  I feel like I could have dug a bit deeper if I wanted, so I feel real good about this.  I am not planing to get anywhere near this pace on Saturday, but I like knowing that I have it in somewhere.

Today, when I arrived home I got my Road ID, which is something that every person that runs, cycles, hikes, or does anything active outside should really have.  Both Hiroko and I ordered them.  Mine is here and Hiro's will arrive by the end of the week.   Here is a coupon for $1.00:
Coupon Number: ThanksGreg845069

PS:  the worst movie ever is Gummo!  I can't warn you enough: Don't watch this movie!  Save youself the pain, and just schedule yourself the labotomy because watching this movie will permantly damage the fabric of your soul.  I am not kidding.  I am rarely offended by anything, but Gummo was, boring, offensive, and and repugnent.  Don't watch it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Race Week: 3 mile Indoor Track Run (10/4)

Race week is here, which means that the excitement is in the air.  I'll need to take care this week to avoid doing anything stupid (very difficult for me) before this weekend's 5k that might jeopardize my run.  Right now, I an excited about this run.  I have prepared  more than I did before my last 5k, and the heels are much improved.  Here is my plan for the week, which I started with today's run:

Monday: 3 mile indoor track run
Tuesday: Toning Class with optional 1 mile run
Wednesday:  3 mile outdoor run and Sports Conditioning class Ab session
Thursday: off
Friday: off
Saturday: 5k

I might alter this a little and do something light on Thursday, but this is the plan as of now.

The 3 mile indoor run was today's workout, and it went off without a hitch and was one of the better runs that I have had on the indoor track.  I was able to run complete the run in around 26 minutes, The track wasn't very crowded, so that helped a lot.  Also, I put some new music on my I-pod (Adam Lambert, Kidding . . . ok, not really . . . just one song!  I know I just lost some man points) that really inspired me to pick up my pace.  I felt great running this because I was able to push myself a lot harder than I have been doing recently.  My quad burned a little, and I had a couple small twinges of pain in my left heel, but they didn't interfere with the run in the slightest.  My upper body is still sore from Friday's push up hell day and made the first mile a bit interesting, but I was lucky that I need to focus on my lap count, so I couldn't think about the soreness too much.  Pushing it felt awesome because I know that as hard as I went today that I still had a lot in the tank that I should be able to draw on for the race.  By the end, my lungs were burning a bit, but I never attempted anything close to a kick.  I don't want to get cocky about this run on the weekend at all.  I just want to try to run as hard as I can and know that in the end I didn't hold anything back.  We'll see how that goes on Saturday, but for today, I am feeling awesome after two good runs in a row!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Redemption Run 10/2

Today's run was much delayed and rather uncertain for most of the day.  I woke up late this morning with my upper body sore as all get out.  The quad felt much better after a night of muscle cream, but I was worried that if I tried to run today that I would have a repeat of last weeks piss poor performance.  But as the day progressed I really wanted to get outside and run.  The weather in Raleigh was actually great for the first time in what feels like months, so I went to Umstead at around noon for my Saturday run.  My energy level felt good, but the soreness I felt had me really worried.  I didn't think that the upper body soreness would hold me back, but I didn't want to injure my quad.  Next Saturday is my next 5k, which made me both want to run but also more than a little worried about aggravating my heels or hurting the quad.  But having just put in a lackluster effort on Friday in class and the aforementioned piss poor performance on last week's run, I was determined to run today.

This is a small bridge that I run accross as part of my run.
Everything ended up going much better that I had hope it would.  I started out a bit gingerly and didn't try to push things at the beginning.  The quad was holding up well, but the upper body soreness was really annoying for the first mile of the run.  My energy level was very different from last week, and I knew fairly early in the run that I should be able to complete it if i paced myself.  By the half way point the run was going well, I had stuck to my plan, and was just a few minutes behind my normal pace.  The mild burning in the quad that I felt at the beginning of the run had subsided, and the soreness of my upper body had just wasn't flaring up as much as it was staying on an even keel.  Flare ups seem much worse to take, so just past the half way marker I decided to open it up a bit and see if I could get back on pace.  Once I got passed the place where I stopped running last week, I was able to shake off my last distraction and really get down to running.  The trail was in good shape considering the 6 inches of rain we got this week.  I thought that it would be damp, but it wasn't.  The only problem I had was staying on the trail because of all of the fallen leaves and pine needles.  I almost lost the trail and ran into the woods twice.  Over the last eight minutes, I pushed it hard than I think that I ever have on one of these runs.  I made up all of the time, I needed to and completed the run in exactly 45 mins.  By the time that I hit the bridge to stop running, my chest was pounding and lungs were burning, but all of the soreness had vanished.  Once I caught my breath, I felt great.  I am very glad that I did this run because it helped me to put those crappy workout's to bed.  Now, I have a couple of days of light workouts and then the 5k on Saturday.  I can't wait!

Friday, October 1, 2010

CrossFit: Push Up Hell Day (10/1)

This was not my best effort.  No denying it, so I am not even going to try.  The problem that I have with myself on days like today, is that I should have either decided that today's workout was not for me and done something else or committed to it fully but mailing it in is only going to get me hurt.  I took yesterday off to rest my quads, but my left quad hasn't responded.  It isn't anything that I need to worry about -- it is just really sore.  But, the main problem with today's effort was that I knew before the workout that it was too difficult for me. 
Today's Workout (proposed:
50 Push ups / Suicide / 5 Squats
45 Push ups / Suicide / 10 Squats

40 Push ups / Suicide / 15 Squats
35 Push ups / Suicide / 20 Squats
30 Push ups / Suicide / 25 Squats

25 Push ups / Suicide / 30 Squats
20 Push ups / Suicide / 35 Squats

15 Push ups / Suicide / 40 Squats
10 Push ups / Suicide / 45 Squats
5 Push ups / Suicide / 50 Squats

In 30 mins.  The portion in Red is about what I completed (at some point in the40 rep set I switched to girl push ups).  Also, the instructor gave each of us a mini H2O bottle, which we place on its side, so that we could keep proper form.  We needed to make sure that our chest touched the bottle each time.  On a good day, I can do 50 push ups with crappy form, so I pretty much knew that this was going to be a nightmare for me, and the squats were not going to be kind to my quad.  So, I should have gone and done an ab workout or something if I wasn't going to really commit to this workout.  Instead, I gave what was clearly an uninspired effort.  I won't take this class next week because I have a 5k on Saturday the 9th, but I will be back in two weeks, and I not be mailing it in then.