Monday, April 25, 2011

Come Take a Run With Me: Umstead in Pictures -- Easter 2011

While Hiro slept in on Easter, I went for a run.  Please come along!  (All of the following pictures but one were taken on the fly as I ran.)
Starting Out on the Company Mill Trail

Umstead has a way of making me feel like it is a world all it's own

Me!

Foot bridge over one of Umstead's many creeks
A picture of the creek as I ran across the bridge

A nice flat section along the stream, but lots of bugs!

another small foot bridge

Green!
this portion of the trail is soft with few roots and rocks

Ok, time for some hills!

this timed shot is the only photo not taken on the fly as I ran


About to cross the multi purpose trial.  Can you see a guy riding a mountain bike on the multi-purpose trail ahead of me? 

Backside of the loop: here is where things get fun!

I really need to pay attention here. 
The trail narrows, gets more rocky and rooty at times,
and has lots of switchbacks, which can send you straight into the woods.

Still there are still some soft pine needle covered sections to enjoy

The trial narrows to the point where two people can't pass in a few places
these roots will get you if you're not careful!

About to leave the hiking trails behind

More hills!

Heading for home on the Ready Creek trail
By 11am we were in the mid 80's, so the shade was welcome!

Another runner zooms on by

I really enjoy the sound of my feet running across this wooden bridge

a right turn and we're nearly done!

The little lake is a welcome sight, but the flies buzzing about my head I could do without.

The bridge ahead is my stopping point, I plan to walk out the rest of the way.
We're done!  let's enjoy the view before the Horse Flies get us!


4.6 miles run in Umstead:  Here is map of our run:
Follow the yellow line.
Thank you for coming on this run with me.  I shot nearly 140 photos but selected these 28 because they reflected the terrain best.  I twisted my ankle on this run, but ironically I wasn't taking a picture at the time.  In fact, I had turned of the camera because I knew the section I was in was a bit tricky.  Oh well, such is life!  I hope that you have enjoyed these photos and can see why I feel so strongly about Umstead.

Returning to Umstead: 4/23

After races on two straight weekends, I couldn't wait to get into Umstead and get away from the streets of Raleigh.  I love running in races, but I hate that they take me away from my weekends runs in more natural areas.  I've been reading Runner's World: Trail Edition, which really makes me want to try my hand a trail race.  Honestly, I love running on trails much more than I do streets.  My only issue is that I often end up with sprains and twists.  I have weak ankles as well as not own a single pair of trail running shoes, so these minor injuries keep me from running on some of the more difficult trials that I truly enjoy.  I am fairly certain that my lack of trail running shoes will be remedied rather quickly because the trails are a callin'! 

Saturday, I did five miles on the multi-purpose trails in Umstead.  It was just about the perfect day to run: a little cool with a light rain that was just a bit more than a mist but rarely reaching a sprinkle for more than a few seconds.  I felt stiff, my arms were still sore from lifting, and my hips were SCREAMING on the up hills, but still . . . what an incredible run.  After finishing the run, I felt so relaxed.  Just what I needed.

I did 5 hilly miles over an out and back course in 52.51 for a 10:33 pace.

Mile 1: 10:43
Mile 2: 10:38
Mile 3: 10:48
Mile 4: 10:05
Mile 5: 10:33

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wait . . . Weights . . . Don't Tell Me! (4/21/11)

I hate weights and lifting.  There I said it.  It's true!  I have never been one of those guys, who was obsessed by how much I could or couldn't bench press.  However, since I am half-giant in appearance, people who do care about such things always seem to think that I too share their obsession.  When I was younger, I think that 37% of all conversations I had either started off with one of two questions: did you play football in High School or how much can you bench?  The answers never really seemed to register in the mind of the person correctly.  When I would say, that I played chess instead of football and hated weights, people seemed to think that either I had misunderstood the question or answered in some foreign tongue they had no hope of decyphering.  Oh well . . . I still hate lifting, but I know that I need to add it into my workout, so here it goes.

I ran to the gym on Thursday morning: 1.64 in 16:17.27 9.55 pace.  Then began a lifting workout that I did last summer when I was injured.

Lifting:

--Chest--
Dumbbell Bench Press:
12 reps @ 25lbs
10 reps @ 20lbs
8 reps @ 15lbs
6 reps @ 10lbs
12 reps @ 25lbs

Dumbbell Incline Press: 12 reps @ 25 lbs

--Back--

One Armed Dumbbell Rows:
12 Reps @ 25 lbs
10 reps @ 20lbs

8 reps @ 15lbs
6 reps @ 10lbs
12 reps @ 25lbs

Pull Ups (assisted)

3 reps @ level 20 assistance  . . . DNF . . . Haha . . . pathetic!  I used to be able to do much much better at this.
--Shoulders--

Seated Dumbbell Press:

12 reps @ 25lb
10 reps @ 20lbs
8 reps @ 15lbs
6 reps @ 10lbs
12 reps @ 25lbs

Upright Cable Rows:
12 Reps @ 50lbs

--Biceps--

Barbell Curls:

12 reps @ 50lbs
10 reps @ 40lbs
8 reps @ 30
6 reps @ 20lbs
12 reps @ 50lbs

Alternating Dumbbell Curls:
12 reps @ 25lbs

--Triceps--
Lying Tricep Presses

12 reps @ 25lb

10 reps @ 20lbs
8 reps @ 15lbs
6 reps @ 10lbs
12 reps @ 25lbs

Dips 12 reps

This workout didn't suck as much as I had thought it would, but I was sore for several days afterwards.  I took it easy the first day, but I'll need to make it more difficult next time I do it.

afterward I ran home: 1.63 in 16:08.77 for another 9:55 pace.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weds. Sports Conditioning: Abs Hell Day 4/20

This post will be short and sweet. 

  • Ran to the gym in the morning, but Old Bob was out of power
  • First naked run (sans Garmin) since buying OLD Bob: kind of liked it . . . kind of didn't.  Hmm not ssure what to make of it.
  • Took Teresa's class again . . .
  • As we left on Monday, she told us that Wednesday we would do Abs until we puked
  • I didn't puke
  • Wish that I had.
  • My abs still hurt
  • Ouch
  • Ran home after class
  • Thought that I might die.
  • Ouch
  • Biked to work
  • Ouch
  • People at work said that I looked like I was either about to die or about to puke . . . opinions varied
  • Ouch
  • My abs still hurt . . . I am not sure my internal organs are in the right places . . . ouch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monday Morning Wake UP Call From Boston: 4/18

After running in my local 5k and failing to get my PR, I went to the gym and took Teresa's Sports Conditioning Class: the last place that you want to go when your opinion of yourself is on shaky ground.  It is rumored that she is a former Drill Sargent, and I have no reason to question the validity of the rumor.  There is no bullshitting about in her class, she picks difficult exercise, piles on reps, and people who finish first are rewarded with being the first to begin the next exercise.  There are no breaks.  The class is an unending onslaught of exercise  and pain from start to finish.  If you want a break it's on you.  If you die, we'll call your next of kin after class ends.

I hadn't attend Teresa's class in months, but I knew what I was getting into.  The class was brutal and left me destroyed! 

After Teresa's class I weighed myself and saw that my eight was 10 pounds higher now than it had been during the race I PR'ed the 5k.  Those 10 pounds cost me a PR on Sunday.  I've no excuses for this. I let injuries and mental fatigue get the better of me, and I got complacent.  I have improved since the New Year, but I know the truth.

It is time to face some facts, I love running.  I want to run all the time, but I need lose weight for so many reasons that extend beyond running, and running alone is not the most effective way for me to lose weight.  I'll either breakdown or plateau.  I enjoy the fitness classes that I take for the most part, but I tend to shy away from the more difficult classes these days.  I hate weights, but they are an extremely effective way to lose weight. 

All of these ideas realities were floating around in my noggin as I started tracking AR and Emily as they set fire to Boston.  Now, I have NO dreams of EVER running Boston.  None, none, none.  But, I do have dreams of running faster and longer distances.  I also have dreams of being able to walk when I am in my 60's, being able to dress myself, and play with any children that I might one day have. 

All of this stuff just kept churning away as I watched AR turn in Rock Star negative split on bum knee, and I just couldn't escape the fact that if I want to achieve my goals I need to pick up some frickin weights, maybe try some yoga, take a break from races, and work.  I need to get up early and work my ass off, which is what I am going to do.  Work is what every single person in Boston has done, and even though Boston is not my destination, I'll except this wake up call from Boston . . .That's right operator, I'll take the call!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second Empire 5k Classic 4/17: Race Report (Updated)


Michel, Stephane, Hiroko, and I before the Race
 Despite the tornadoes touching down in Raleigh on Saturday, The Second Empire 5k Classic was still held on Sunday.  Driving around town, you can see trees uprooted, broken branches, and minor wind damage across the city.  The parts of town that were hardest hit have entire houses destroyed and most of the residents are just thankful to be alive.  Hiroko and I spent Saturday night on edge because our friends Stephane and Michel were traveling down from Canada, straight into the path of the storm, and we were unable to contact them until morning.  To our relief, they were just fine.

Both of them had planned on running in the race with Hiro and I, but after a tense night of driving Stephane had a splitting headache and decided not to run, but Michel did run in what would be his first 5k.  We arrived at the race very early because we needed to get Michel registered and  figured that we could take some time to show them a little bit of the downtown area.  The weather was so perfect, 68° with clear blue sky, that it was difficult to imagine that the weather had been so deadly just the day before.  After our tour, I tried to loosen up a bit and see how my legs were feeling.  Surprisingly, my legs felt much better than they had before the Cary Road Race last week.  I felt none of the stiffness that has plagued me since my misadventures in Umstead two weeks ago, but my legs weren't as springy as I had hoped. 

Regardless, I didn't have any real complaints going into the race and was pretty hopeful that I might be able to challenge my PR.  I felt very comfortable with the course, which was flat for nearly the entire first mile.  The second mile consisted of two long slow inclines with a short decline between them and the turnabout.  The remainder of the course was on a decline except for the short decline of from the second mile was now a slightly steep little rise.

The race started of well and there was very little jostling at the start and since this race was part of  the Second Empire Spring Race Series, there were more experienced runners in the field, so most people seemed to have lined up appropriate to their level.  There were no costume runners to deal with, and few people sprinting out at the start and dying a half a mile into the race, so it was a nice start to the race.  I got out well and was right on the pace that I set for myself.  We ran east on Hillsborough Street towards the state capitol building.  Michel went past me just as we took the first turn to go around the Capitol building and Hiroko was still running just over my shoulder as we completed out loop of the Capitol building and head back onto Hillsborough street.  The first half mile had gone by quickly and we were now preparing to pass by the start/finish area again.  The crowd gathered there gave us a good cheer as we went by.  Michel was still a little ways ahead of me, but I could tell that I would be catch up to him soon.  Hiroko was still over my shoulder, and Iknew she was going to pass me pretty soon, which she did just after we caught Michel at the mile marker.  My first mile was nearly exactly where I had wanted it to be.  8:07.96.  I had felt a little soreness inside of my pelvis around the 3/4 mile mark, but I wasn't worried or effected by it at all and it soon passed. 

We began the first incline just at the mile mark and a soon as we did were hit with a strong headwind that would last until the turn around at the traffic circle just in front of the NC State bell tower.  Hiro was in front of me and pulling away a bit as we came down the decline.  I was only shocked by this because she hadn't been running at all prior to this race.  I am well aware that as it stands, Hiroko would easily smoke me at every race if she only trained more (or at all).  But, as we began the second incline, I was fairly confident that I would pass her at some point in the third mile.  The front runners came past us heading towards the finish line as we were passing the mile and a half marker.  A guy running somewhere around fifth bonked right in front of Hiro and I.  His knees went all wobbly, and I thought that he was going to hit the deck, but instead he just puked and staggered on.  I  turned my head a kept running on toward the turn around.  This wasn't the first time I had seem someone puke in a race, but it was the first time I had been face to face when it happened. 

I tried to just focus on my race because I knew that I was off my pace and wasn't sure why.  The incline on this portion of Hillsborough street is deceptive, the wind was fairly strong, but I wasn't sure if they accounted for my being off by so much.  I did the second mile in 8:57.61, which was nearly 45 seconds off my goal pace. 

I passed Hiroko just after the we rounded the traffic circle and began our run back toward the finish line.  I had expected her to either fight me or fade, but she didn't do either and hung with me until I began my kick.  The third mile was mainly me trying to figure out where to begin my kick.  I felt that perhaps I had run the second mile too conservatively, and wanted to try to get everything out of my legs that I could over the remainder of the course.  Michel was still hanging tough but had fallen well behind Hiro and I.  After the rise, I picked up my pace with about 800 meters to go and went into a my kick at 400, by 100 meters I was in a sprint.  The crowd had noticed my kick and began to cheer me on as I tried to run down a guy much younger than me and in much better shape.  He was wearing a green shirt and I was wearing white.  I began hear people yelling "Go WHITE!  GO WHITE!"  He heard me coming in picked up his pace but I was closing fast and easily passing the three or four people between us, but the Green shirt edged me out by a second. 


I did mile three in 8:17.6 and the last .13 in .49.48  My time was 26:12 and a pace around 8:26.  I fell short of my PR by nearly half a minute, but I felt like I ran fairly well.  Hiroko PR'ed the race and never really fell off like I thought that she would.  She came in at 26:34, which is frickin' awesome when you consider that she has run only once in the last month!  I effin' hate her!  Michel came in at 28:19, which when you consider that this was his first 5k, and I don't think that he trained a lick, it is pretty frickin' solid!

As for me, I think that my confidence failed me in the second mile and could have run harder, but I know that I am carrying 30 pounds more than I want to be carrying.  And, I know that if that weren't the case, my PR would get CRUSHED!  Currently, I am singed up to run a race on June 11th.  That race is the Komen Race for the Cure and will mark my birthday as a runner.  The Komen was my first race and began my love affair with running.  I've decided that I will not run another race between now and then, in order to focus on conditioning.  I know that I can't lose all the weight that I need to by then, but I can sure as hell put a big dent in it, which is what I plan to do.  Overall, I am happy with this race.  I am happy that the stroms didn't do more damage than they did, and I am pretty thankful for the chance to do something I love with people I care about!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday's Twisters: 4/16

Saturday, my town was struck by several tornadoes.  A tornado hit downtown Raleigh and several neighborhoods.  Sadly, there were some fatalities and a great deal of damage.  NC was hit by over 60 tornadoes Saturday, which is just mind boggling.  Between the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan and now these tornadoes, I am wondering what's next.  Hiroko's family is alright in Japan and we're OK here, so I feel like knocking on all the wood that I can find.

Saturday, started out so normally that I went to the track early in the morning and did two miles as a shakeout for my 5k on Sunday.  It was windy, the sky was dark, and the air was cool, but I didn't give it much thought.  I just wanted to get my run in before any rain could begin to fall.



I did an easy peasy two mile in 19:45.72  mile 1 in 9:51.41 and mile 2 in 9:52.  After running, I went home showered, ate my lunch, watched a crappy movie, and was just about to go pick Hiro up from work when the already dark sky and strong winds went from bad to "oh shit!"  The storms were over quickly, but they have left a lasting mark on the community.  I didn't really put things together until I started writing this post, but since Saturday, I have felt a surge of Carpe Diem rushing over me, because this little life of ours is just way too random to waste watching bad reality TV!

Thursday Fleet Feet Social Run: 4/14

I attended the Fleet Feet Social Run on Thursday.  We did 4 miles in 38:15.42 at a 9:34 pace.  In the past, I've spoken about how I am sort of in between pace groups on this run, which is frustrating because I don't run with the slower group and be unintentionally pushing them to run faster or run with the faster group that will run me into the ground by the second mile.  Staying my own pace would most often would leave me running alone, which kind of defeats the purpose of attending a social run, but I have been thinking more about it, and this run could be a good place for me to learn about pacing.  I have just been so happy to be running that I haven't given enough attention to pacing and understanding how it will benefit me as a runner.  Up till now, I have just been amazed to be running.  Recently, I have come to think of myself as in the my toddler stage as a runner: I am up and about, happy as hell to be doing it, but not skilled in the slightest!  Now that the weather is getting nicer, more people are beginning to show up to the run, and almost all of them are more experienced than I.  They may not be running at my pace, but they know how to maintain their pace, which is a skill that I lack.

As for my past post regarding Frayed Laces and her Chicken Nugget post, she has since removed the post from her blog, which has caused a lot of folks to come to my blog to read what she wrote.  I know that FL is taking tons of heat in lots of forums right now for what she wrote, which I think she deserves.  But, I would ask that people refrain from getting nasty.  She wrote something pretty boneheaded and smug sounding, but I honestly think that it was more out her own over exuberance and commitment to the sport she loves.  I am not saying she deserves a pass for what she said, but that one post doesn't sum her up as person anymore than eating nuggets after a long run sums up a persons status as a runner, which is I hope the lesson that she learns from all the ire she brought down upon herself.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wading into the Fray and Tuesday's Toning

Common Ground for FL and I
Tuesday Hiro and I attended Toning Class and It was uneventful.  Nice class, good to give my legs a rest, but not a lot worthy of a post.  However, yesterday Frayed Laces put up this post after hearing an NPR story about Boston's changes.  Here is basically what FL had to say on the subject:

"I know this is a hot topic, and there are many heated opinions about this. I've kind of kept my opinions to myself about this since I don't want to piss off any readers, but when I got to the "Chicken Nuggets at the End!" part of the story I started to get pissed off. The context of that statement is Team-In-Training runners. To motivate the runners to finish their 20 mile training runs they reward them with chicken nuggets at the end. Chicken Nuggets? Are you friggin' kidding me?!? If you can eat chicken nuggets at the end of a long run you may want to consider kicking things up a notch. I can barely keep down a recovery drink at the end of my long runs. I am a runner, and technically they are runners, but to lump us both in the same category is a bit ridiculous. I may not be setting any world records, and when I did start out I wasn't nearly as fast or serious about training as I am now. In the past few years I've dramatically changed however, and it really dills my pickle when someone hears that I do Ironmans and they say "Oh yeah, I did one of those once. It only took me two hours!" when in fact they're referring to a sprint triathlon they did 20 years ago. (Same thing goes for marathons) I usually just keep my big 'ol mouth in those situations, but what I want to scream out is "I train 20 hours a week! I push myself in training to the point of puking! You're doing this once to cross something off your life goal list, and I train harder-harder-harder to get faster each year! I eat, sleep, breathe this sport!

So, are there too many marathon runners? No, there aren't. There are too many "chicken nuggets at the end!" marathon runners and not enough "eat, sleep, breathe" runners. I think it's great that so many people are embracing fitness and tackling the goal of a marathon, but don't lump us all in the same category."

After reading FL post, I gave this rather sarcastic reply:

"I got started running last year and am not the type of person that anyone would look at and say "that guy looks like a runner." I'm 6'1 275. So, I am really careful not to call myself a runner because I don't want to risk offending people I who consider themselves "runners". Here's my question . . . I've done 15 race in the last 10 months, ran in the snow, ran in the rain, ran during my lunch hour, ran an 8k while on vacation in Hawaii, run 5k's at close to an 8 min. mile pace, suffered through Plantar Fasciitis, get up at 4:30am to run, have a subscription to Runner's World, keep a running blog, plan social events around my running, talk about running so much it annoys my wife, sprained an ankle running, read "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", own more pairs of running shoes than dress shoes, and know who Bart Yasso is . . . so when will my calling myself a runner not irritate people who BQ? Because honestly, it keeps me up at nights. Sometimes, I even get a little weepy just thinking about it and want to take up curling -- but I'm screwed because I live in NC and we only get snow like twice a year."

In a follow up post Follow up to "the" post FL used my comment as an example of the responses her post has gotten and elaborated on her opinion in order to clarify that she wasn't attacking slower runner.  Personally, I never thought that was her intent.  I got that she thinks that a person, who runs a Marathon just to say they have done it, shouldn't be considered a "Marathoner."  Personally, I see the difference, and I think that most reasonable people would or should.  My issue is that a lot of people make these kinds of judgments based upon completely arbitrary criteria and superficial observations and then proceed to treat people like something akin to dog poo.

Now, I realize that is not FL's intent, but I think that making these type of judgements about people is a very slippery slope (If you need an example of this, just look at all of the Team in Training bashing that went on in response to FL's comment.  You would think that Team in Training were the biggest bunch of posers to ever put on a pair of running shoes).  Personally, my response was more than a little bit fueled by the looks of disdain that I get from people when I show up at events.  They don't know anything about me or my commitment to running, but they see a big guy with a new running jacket and just look at me a some sort of window shopper denigrating their sport. 

Now, I realize that these people are not representative of every "Runner" out there and are most likely asshole outside of their running life, and this elitism is only how their prick-ishness manifests itself in this setting, but it is this type of elitist BS that intimidates some people and keeps them from participating in something that may awaken and hidden passion.  It also can lead to efforts to devalue the accomplishments of slower runners, such as different color medals based upon finishing times, which one comment spoke about in response to FL's post.  Personally, I am the biggest person at nearly every non-major charity race I attend, and it is intimidating at times to line up with people that are in much better shape than I am.  There is no way for me to show them that I am just as serious about this sport as anyone else.  Honestly, I don't care what motivates a person to run.  I am glad to see people out there doing it, and their reasons good, bad, or ugly are their own and have no effect upon me.  I am a  runner.  I don't need a BQ or anyone else's nod of approval.  I don't care if some 400 lb Sumo Wrestler completed the LA Marathon in 9 hours and a bunch of media outlets wrote stories about it.  It doesn't water down how I feel about my accomplishments.  And, I hate to see people like FL, who have a lot people's respect buying into the idea and not realizing where such sentiments can easily lead.


Friday, April 15, 2011

nOg Run: Monday 4/11

Hiroko and I went to Tir Na nOg and did the run on Monday, which was the hottest nOg run thus far this year.  The 6pm start time of the nOg run are going suuu-uuck come mid-June!  My legs felt a tad better than they did the day before, which meant that they were still tights as hell.  I wanted to get the run in hopes that an easy run would keep my legs from tightening up.  Hiroko has been working like crazy, so she hasn't been running at all.  Not that she runs all that much to begin with.  She enjoys races, but isn't big on training, and I am pretty sure that she enjoys running on the dreadmill more than running outside because she doesn't have to deal with hills and can watch the Food Network or read a gossip rag while she runs.  I, of course, am the exact opposite and now despise the Dreadmill and want no part of it if I can help it.  Oh-well. 

On Monday, we did the run together and since my hammies were still pissed, I stayed with Hiroko for the whole run.  We did the 2.8 mile run in 26:27.51, which is about a minute and a half off from what I have done over my last few nOg runs, so I am pleased that I was able to resist the urge to faster because of the crowd.  I did the first mile in  9:32.1, the second in 9:25.77and the last .80 in 7:29.63 for  9:23 pace. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Post Race Rigamortis Run: 4/10

After the Cary Road Race on Saturday, my legs hated me.  My Hamstrings wanted to go on strike, but I was having none of that talk.  I forced myself (and Hiroko) to go to the gym because taking a day off  would just allow the soreness to take root.  We drove over to the gym and from there I ran most of the course that we will run for the Second Empire Classic 5k on Sunday.  I know the course really well, and run it as part of my morning workouts at the gym, but I just wanted to see how it felt since I have been running more hills over the last few weeks.  The course was really flat, but I didn't try for any kind of speed because my legs felt like rigamortis was about to set in.  I did 2.70 in 25:34.87 for a 9:27 pace.


The first mile was a painful 9:57.71 because my hamstrings were on fire!  Mile 2 was better and took 9:09.07, but I was still not having any joy in the slightest.  The last.70 took  6:28.09 for a 9:10 pace, and I wanted it to end at this point.  Seriously, I was over this whole running thing by the time I returned to the Y. 

After returning, I joined Hiroko for some light exercises, which mainly focused on abs and back.  Then I foam rollered the hell out of my legs and stretched.  Honestly, I am glad I went, but at the time I cursed myself for doing it.

For My Angry Little Compatriot!

As Many of you may know, Angry Runner is having a give away that contains a bunch of useless crap I mean  a bunch of useless shit I don't need! oops, I mean . . . some really awesome stuff that I really really want so bad that even made up a little song about it!  Now, I am a tragic frickin' loss to the music community as you can tell by my little  video, which I took time to make per my little Angry pal's request.  Enjoy.  P.S. Sadly you can't see the little dance that goes with this song or the sequin man thong I am sporting which says "Winner" in a very appropriate place!
video

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Cary Road Race: 4/9/11 Race Report

This was my most intelligently run race to date because of the elimination of past mistakes and management of my body while not feeling my best.  I had some cranky leg issues over the last few days, which made me cautious.  A PR was within reach as long as I ran a decent race and didn't do anything dumb, but considering how much of a dumb ass I have been recently, there was at least a 50/50 chance I'd find a new a creative way to screw up!  My previous 10k time was 57:25.  I got it in race for which I wasn't prepared and went out way too fast.  My previous 10k was also run at a time when my overall fitness level was declining due injury and poor work habits.  Currently my fitness level is on the rise, and my preparation has been geared towards this race.  So, my old PR was as ripe for a fall as .

Unfortunately, my lower quads started to get cranky on Wednesday, and Thursday didn't seem that much better.  Friday they improved some, but we had lots of thunderstorms and the temperature dropped that night and didn't help things in the slightest.  My legs felt tight when I woke Saturday morning, and my left calf almost felt knotted.  I tried to warm up and loosen me legs before the race but was hit by a sneezing fit, which took away from my time to get warm.  I had taken allergy medicine before I left and figured that with the rain, allergies wouldn't be an issue.  I was mistaken, and after eight straight sneezes I had no choice but to sneak off to the side of the starting area and launch some snot rockets.  Disgusting? Yes!    But, I most of the people there were runner, so I am sure that they all been there / done that at some point or another.

The race was chip timed, but the only timing device was at the finish, so you may as well say it was gun timed.  Hiroko had to work and I was flying solo at the race, so there won't be any pictures unless there was a race photography company there, but I never noticed one.  The course was a double loop around a the 5k course, and I was happy for it because I had never seen the course before.  I thought that it would be fairly flat and was right for the most part.  There was one good sized hill towards the end of the first mile. 

My Garmin times are a little more accurate than the race time, so I'll use the splits from Old Bob in the report.

Mile 1: The first mile started with an immediate slight decline which got my pacing off, but I was able to fight off the urge to go out fast for the most part and held myself back.  I was hoping to run the first mile as close to 9 minutes as I could get.  But, I picked up time on the down hill that I never gave back and came in at 8:32.33, which was alright in my book.  I was hoping that my legs would loosen up more than they did over the course of the first mile, but the dampness in the air seem to work against me.  It also didn't help that we were running around a little lake.

  A lot of people passed me throughout this mile, but I didn't fight it at all because I knew that I would see them again as the race went on.  I just picked out a few people to target later.

Mile 2:  We continued up the hilly area just for a bit more then turned around and returned the way we came before turning off to go around the lake.  This portion had a large downhill that I had to take some advantage of and pick up speed.  I put Newton in the drivers seat and let my big ass pull me down the hill.  I didn't try to run anyone down or get caught up in anything going on around me.  No one really seemed to pass me here at all, nor did I pass anyone else.  I was still hoping that my legs would loosen up, and my calf still had most of my attention at this point.  I did this mile in 8:33 51

Mile 3:  this portion of the course was the  flat portion of the course and runners just streamed past me.  I didn't pass a single person during this mile.  I just kept my pace right where I wanted it.  I could feel a slight burning feeling in my hip flexors, sort of like I had applied a muscle cream to them, but I hadn't.  I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew something was a miss.  I did the third mile in 9:08.8, which was pretty close to the 9 minutes for which I was aiming. 

Mile 4: this was a repeat of the first mile.  About a halfway into this mile people, who had passed me earlier started coming back to me.  I wasn't really passing them yet, but I was picking off a few people that had been ahead of me for most of the race.  I caught the first person I had marked earlier as we were going up the hill, and I just eased by him was the hill took his legs out.  I was glad for all of the Umstead running that I had been doing because the hill wasn't hurting me as much as it was a lot of the runners around me.  I kept my pacing right where I wanted it and finished mile 4 in 9:09.82

Mile 5: The big downhill was right in this mile, and I again used it pick up some speed and began to take down a lot of the people that had passed me on mile 3 and got the last person, who I had marked.  I was running alright and knew that I was on pace for a big PR, but I also knew that my hips were not right and doubted that I had much for the push I wanted at the end.  At the end of Mile 5 my time was better than my 8k PR that I had set just last month by about 6 seconds, which made me feel pretty good because I hadn't used any kind of kick, which I would have had this been an 8k race.  I did mile 5 in 8.42.19

Mile 6: Once again we hit the flat ground and about five or six people passed me at this point, while I continued to pass about four others.  None of the people that passed me were people I had recently passed, so I didn't try to fight anyone except the last two ( I nearly caught the last person to pass me at the finish line, but she edged me out by a foot fall).  I debated about where to start my kick throughout this mile because I just didn't confidence in my legs at this point and knew that I had a 5k the following week where I was going to take a better performance than this to challenge my 5k PR that I want to challenge.  I held off until the end of the mile and just picked up a little bit rather than launching into the beginning of a kick.  I did this mile in 9:01.68

The last .2 was a little confusing it was the only portion of the course that I had not run on as part of the first loop and the finish line was right around a hairpin turn, so I did realize just how close, so my kick was shorter than it could have been.  I did it in 2:02  Old Bob say that my time was close to 55:00 flat, but my official time for the race was 55:14,which shave off 2:09 from my old PR, so I'll take it and be happy considering my legs never really felt their best.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wed. Sports Conditioning & Pre-Race Leg Issues: 4/6

OK, after Tuesday's workout, my same old cranky left leg decided to start complaining.  Everything felt fine but as the day wore on and I toiled away at my desk my quad started to feel sore and weak just above my knee on the outside of my leg.  I tried to put it out of my mind, but I wasn't at all happy about the timing considering I have two races in the next ten days.  I hit the foam roller as soon as I got home and my leg genuinely felt better.  I decided to go to the Afternoon Sports Conditioning class, just to get some work in before my Race on Saturday. 

The class was a standard Stations class with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for seven rounds.  The class was really uneventful except that we did to different exercises that targeted my already cranky quad.  I tried to be smart about the exercises and not push too hard.  After the class, I did made sure to stretch, hit the foam rolled again when I got home, and use some muscle cream.  

I am fairly sure that my quad issues are the result of a imbalance between my vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.  I have noticed over the last few months that a lot of my workout classes hit the same muscle groups over and over, which I think is causing my to over work some muscles while under working others, so I have begun to read up on the different muscles and how to better work them, which I hope will over time alleviate a lot of my issues. 

In order to avoid going going Gary Busey crazy about the condition of my leg before the race on Saturday I decided to rest for the next two days and try to go into the race with well rested for my 10k.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Effed with by the God's of Spring . . . Another Gym Run & 12 days: 4/5

Persephone goddess of spring and Hades
Following Sunday's workout, I felt pretty beat but didn't want to give up on going to the nOg run on Monday.  I tried to convince myself all day that I was going to go.  I had made sure to bring my clothes with me to work and tried to amp myself up for the run.  However, by the time I was supposed to leave work, I was struggling.  My motivation was waning, but I hadn't fully given up on the idea.  Luckily for me, Hiroko had to work late, and I couldn't make the run on time, so it took the decision out of my hands (at least that is what I told myself).  But, I promised myself that I would repeat Sunday's workout on Tuesday: no excuses excepted!

Which is, of course, why the God's of Spring decided to eff with me on Tuesday!  That morning I woke to a nice little windstorm with some awesome random sideways rain.  Hiro had to be at work at 7am and couldn't be late.  She asked me several times if I wanted to drop her off and use the car, but I insisted upon riding the bus.  Why?  Because I am apparently I am a dumb ass!  So, I am sitting in my apartment drinking my morning coffee and reading Runner's World, Hiroko has just driven off and . . . the power goes out!  It is not a flicker and back on . . . nope . . . it is out and going to stay out.  Wisely, I contact my boss and co-worker and tell them I'll be late because I'll need to fix a different lunch than the one I had planned and wait for there to be enough day light to venture in the shower.  After sometime, the rain let up and I decided to head to the bus stop, which is about half a mile from my apartment.  Everything was fine until I got right to the bus stop.  The wind picks up, turns my umbrella inside out right at the moment I get hit with a sudden flash of sideways rain that is gone just as quickly as it arrives.  Now, I am at the bus stop but waiting for the bus is useless because I am soaked.  My pants a stuck to me, my shoes are water logged, and both arms of my shirts could easily be wrung out. 

I just turn right around and head home.  No cussing, no laughing, I am just disgusted with myself.  I knew that I deserved this for being a dumb ass!  The power comes back on after I return home.  It has been out for three hours, but I am able to take a shower and get some dry clothes on just in time for the rain to stop, so I end up riding Frankenbike to work.  The rest of the day is for the most part uneventful for me, but Hiro ends up working late, and I have to return home before I can go the gym because the gym clothes I packed are soaked.

But a promise is a promise, so as soon as I get home  I change into my gym clothes, listen to Hiro tell me about her day and tell her about my morning, pet Basil, and head for the gym:

My legs feel much better than they did on Sunday and I run the 1.63 miles to the gym in 14:45.27 for a  9:02 pace. the first mile was in 9:38.64 and the last .63 took 5:06.63 for a shocking 8:04 pace.  this was shocking because I wasn't winded or trying to hit hard pace.

Upon arriving, I went straight into my 12 Days of Christmas.  I changed up a few exercise just to hit some problem areas and to make the transitions between exercises more strenuous.  I wanted to have to transition between the standing and laying on the floor between each exercise, so I need to break up the abs and push ups better than I had in the past.

  1. Lap around the indoor track (1/15 of a mile)
  2. Burpee with push up
  3. Fire Hydrant (each leg with a leg extension)
  4. Curls with 15 lbs. dumbbells (each arm)
  5. Push ups
  6. Leg Raises (each leg)
  7. Bicycles
  8. Prisoner Squats (with an elbow to knee leg raise on each side)
  9. Crossover Crunches (each side)
  10. Hamstring Curl (with exercise ball)
  11. Overhead press w/ 15lbs. dumbbell
  12. Supermans
I was drenched for the second time after finishing the 12 Days, but this time it was in sweat, so I felt much better about it.  I put up my equipment and headed straight for home. 

I did the 1.68 in 14:22.72 for an 8:34 pace.  the run home felt much better than the run to the gym. I was beat when I got home, but I felt great about the workout.
Mile 1 took 8:37.38 and the last .68 took 5:45.34 for an 8:30 pace. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sunday Gym Run & 12 Days of Christmas

After my misadventures in Umstead park during the Ultra Marathon, I was feeling a tab bit reluctant to move from in front of my TV on Sunday.  I had a knot in my left calf early in the morning, but it had worked itself out by mid-morning.  Nevertheless, I spent most of the morning feeling fairly wiped out and the idea of physical activity just made me ill.  It didn't help that the Hockey playoffs are getting near and there was a game on in the afternoon.  However, it was between the Rangers and Flyers, so my interest was minimal.  Also, the weather was so perfect that if you looked up the word "Spring" in the dictionary, you might well have seen a picture of this very day!  So, after much debating, self chastisement, and a whole assortment of guilt trips, I forced myself to change into my workout clothes and headed to the gym. 

I decided to run there, workout, and run home.  Which seemed overly ambitious the moment I step out the door.  If Hiroko had been off of work, I am sure we would have gone for a picnic and at that moment the idea of just laying down in the grass for the next hour or six was very tempting.  But, I continued my epic struggle and headed onward.  The first 3/4 of a mile was like a Baskin Robbins of sucky, but it got better as it went on.  I did the 1.62 in 16:01.22 for a  9:48 pace.  Mile 1 took10:04.44 and the last .63 took 5:56.78 for a 9.22 pace.

Once I got to the gym I went right into a 12 Days because I just didn't want to tighten up.  Since, It was such a nice day the gym was rather sparely populated, so I decided to incorporated the track into the routine.  The 12 Days:

  1. Lap around the indoor track (1/15 of a mile)
  2. Leg lifts (each leg)
  3. Fire Hydrant (each leg with a leg extension)
  4. Curls with 15 lbs. dumbbells (each arm)
  5. Push ups
  6. Bicycles
  7. Prisoner Squats (with an elbow to knee leg raise on each side)
  8. Crossover Crunches (each side)
  9. Super Mans
  10. Hamstring Curl (with exercise ball)
  11. Bird Dogs
  12. Standard Crunch 
After the 12th round, I put away my stuff and headed out the door because the thing that I like most about this type of workout is that I stay in motion from the moment I leave the house the the moment I return.  I don't need to wait for equipment or adjust anything.  I try not to take breaks or rest between exercises.  Also, I like to try to set up the exercises in a way that causes a need to transition between standing and the floor as much as possible.   The run home hurt, and by the time I got back to my apartment all I wanted to do was hit the foam roller and take a shower.  I did the 1.64 in 15:23.04 for a 9:23 pace.
I did the first mile in 9:26.75 and the last .64 in 5:56.29 for a 9:16 pace.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lost Among the Ultras: April 2

As close as I will ever get to being an Ultra-Man!
I got used to being out of place during the years I spent in Japan.  Being over six foot and pushing 3 bills, I stood out in every crowd.  I am the easiest person to find, other than the bride, in several of my Wife's friends wedding pictures.  Oddly enough, I rarely felt self-conscious among the Japanese because I was so hopelessly lost and intensely focused upon just getting by that feelings of embarrassment were a waste of energy.  The times that I ended up feeling most embarrassed or self-conscious were in the presence of other Westerners because they were keenly aware of how out of place I was or the oddity of my behavior.

Living abroad in a country where English is not the native language and you have little grasp of the native one, will reduce your functional vocabulary by 2/3, slow down your conversation rate, and make your facial expressions mimic those of a silent film star, so when you find yourself back among people from your native culture, eventually you'll become starkly aware that you resemble Nell.  If you are lucky, the other person will have been abroad just as long as you or longer and you can share a good laugh at your own expense after spending three days trying to remember the word "flight attendant," so that you can stop calling them "those people on the plane that help you," and once again sound like you own more than a second grade vocabulary.  My point being that I felt more uncomfortable not when I stood out from people that I had no hope of blending in with in the first place, but when I was around people who had the potential to fit in with and failed. 

Which brings me to Saturday's run in Umstead Park, let me start of by saying that I am not an Ultra Marathoner, nor do I have any aspirations of ever being one.  I was a ware that The Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Race was taking place on Saturday, but also knew the park would remain open.  I wanted to run 8 miles, which would be my longest run to date and had mapped out a course that I wouldn't require running outside of the park or an out and back course.  I planned to start at the Harrison Ave. gate and run a loop route consisting of portions of the Ready Creek, South Turkey, and Cedar Ridge Trails.  From my second mile through my fourth mile, I would be on the same course as the Ultra Marathoners.  I didn't think it would be an issue because that portion of the trails is a very high traffic area.  Once I got to my Fourth mile I planned to take a different trail and be on my merry way.  My only concern was that I would be running near one of the aid stations, but I didn't give that much thought.

I arrived at the park a little later than I had hoped but started my run at around 9:45 in the morning.  The first few miles went by without any problems.  Once I got out on the Ready Creek Trail,  I began to see signs for the Ultra and a few participants, but by far most people that I encountered were just doing their regular Saturday run.  Since the Ultra course was 8 laps around a 13 or so miles of the park trails, and the portion we would share was between their miles 4 through 7, I doubted that I would really see much of them.  And, as it turned out, I was nearly correct.  I had seen just a few Ultra runners as was heading down the trail toward my turn off.  I knew t the aid station was near the turn off but hoped that it would after my turn and could ignore it.  As I went down the hill, towards the where I needed to turn, I noticed that the aid station was before my turn and began to feel a little uncomfortable.  My discomfort grew as I noticed people at the aid station cheering for the couple of Ultra runners ahead of me.  People began clapping and shouting words of encouragement as each runner approached.  And, I just started thinking that this was going to be awkward.  If people clapped and cheered for me, I was going feel like a tool.  If they just looked at me blankly as I ran by it would be like telling a bad joke and having no one laugh.  I tried make it clear I was not wearing a race bib but prepare myself for either option.  What ended up happening was kind of the worst of both worlds-- a few blanks stares, a smattering of applause, and few lukewarm words of encouragement, but it was over rather quickly, and I was able to shrug it off.
I picked up my pace and quickly found my turn off, but as soon as I turned I saw something that I wasn't prepared for at all -- the trail was flooded.  We had some heavy rain during the week and now about five inches of water running across the trial.  I couldn't Jump it and there was no bridge. I wasn't going to be able to cross without either soaking my shoes or taking them off.  I didn't like either option.  There was a guy on the other side just sitting on a fallen tree, so I asked him if there was another way, but he wasn't aware of any.  I looked for a map board, but couldn't find one.  I assumed that it too was somewhere on the other side of the trail. 

After staring at the stream for a bit and trying to bring the map forth from some dark recess of my brain, I was facing an age old problem: keep going or go back the way you came.  I knew that going back I would run just over eight miles, but I would be covering the same ground that I had run the last two weekends and I would have to back through the Ultras' aid station.  Or, I could press on in hope of finding a hiking trail or a foot bridge of some sort, so that I could get back on the course I had planned.  I thought things over for a second or two, and then did what any  Red Blooded American Male would do and headed off into unknown territory.  Yep, just call me Trial Blazer Greg!

Now, I doubt that you would need to be Nostradamus or even Carnac the Magnificent to figure out that this was a colossal mistake!  Hell, I am sure that I realized that it was a mistake at the time but went ahead with it anyway.  I continued on and mile five had a big old juicy hill right about halfway into it.  The sucker was the biggest hill that I have found in Umstead.  From talking with other people, who run in the park, I knew that there are some big hills and thought that I was prepared, but I wasn't.  Furthermore, I soon realized that the only people going in the same direction as I were Ultra runners and people riding horses, which may have been nothing more than coincidence, but in my mind, was a very bad sign.  As I climbed up the hill, my calf's began to scream in pain.  I was hardly reaching a a good jogging pace once I got to the top, and any  relief was short live because I saw one of the Ultra sign that read "hills are your friend."  I knew that this was only the beginning of the hills.  Also, I still had no idea how to get back on course.  If I turned back now, I would be committed to 10 miles, but if I continued there was still a slight chance that I might able to catch a hiking trail, get back on course, do something close to my eight and be near the parking lot when I finished. 

I decided to press on and immediately regretted it because the hills got worse.  The path narrowed and the horse shit increased.  I am not kidding . . . there was actual horse shit all over the trail, which normally wouldn't bother me.  However, when you're kinda lost, your legs are on the cusp of riot and the re cheeky signs about, little things begin to grate on your nerves.  Also, people riding bikes or running in the opposite direction started to mistake me for one of the Ultra Runners and began offering me words of encouragement as they passed, which made me feel like the horse shit that was laying about everywhere!  Even though I am fairly certain  the Ultra Runners had all kinds of things going through their minds, the least of which being me, I just knew that all of the Ultra runners were looking at me in disgust for stealing their encouragement.  They could tell so easily that I was not one of them, and it made me feel as out of place as a group English teacher in Japan, who have been admitted to hip Tokyo Mardi Gras party attended by the fabulously wealthy and beautiful just because they are westerns.  The people passing me may not have noticed a difference me and the people in the ultra me but, I was keenly aware of it.  Heck, they were on something like mile 20 and doing alright.  Me . . . I was struggling with mile 6 for Pete sake!!  I began to wonder if this is how it felt to run as a Bandit at Boston because you could make the time.  I felt ill with every word of encouragement.  The hills continued to suck, too!  By the end of mile six, I was contemplating darting of into the woods rather than stay on the stinking trail and feel like such a phony.  Turning around would have eliminated my stress, but by this point I was just so focused upon find the way off the trail that I didn't even think about turning around . . . plus . . . turning around would guarantee that I would do over 12 miles in some fashion.

Finally at seven miles, I came to an  intersecting trail and found a map board.  After some time of looking at the map and trying to will it read differently, I had to admit that I was now at least three miles away from my car.  I had two choices: stay on the easier multipurpose trial with the Ultra Marathoners all the way back to the road that led me to my car or take a much more difficult hiking trail back, which I was in no condition to run on.  As if I needed any help making up my mind, just as I began to run again, a family on mountain bikes streamed past me with the children screaming "go Ultra-man!"

I had to get off the Frickin' Frackin' trail, so I pushed my spent legs onward to the first hiking trail I found and walked 3 miles back to my car.  I felt disgusted with myself: 7.34 miles, and I was done in.  It was a hard walk back because I was no "ultra-man" and I knew it!  I was just a guy trying to get his run in, and I didn't want anyone to think otherwise because I sure as hell knew the differences between me and the people participating in that 100 miler.  I hadn't tried to pass myself off and didn't want anyone to think that I was the type of person, who would do such a thing.  I wished I was wearing a shirt that read "Not in Race.  Trail Flooded. Sorry, Ignore please." The entire way bad I wished that I had run somewhere else that day, and kicked myself for not turning around when I came to the stream.

Now, I would love to say that this was the moment that inspired me to one day become a real Ultra-man.  That it stirred deep within me and made me say, "one day I am going to run an Ultra!"  I know that this story almost begs for that moment.  But, I am not going to lie to you.  I never felt it.  Not for a second.  I saw tons of older men and women running in the race, and that was inspiring.  But, I wasn't inspired enough to have that moment where I found my calling to run an Ultra.  I love running, I desperately want to lose weight, and one day I would like to be fit enough to think about a Marathon, but that is enough for me.  The idea running in an Ultra . . . for me . . . is like telling the Wright brother to build you a rocket ship.      



When I got home Old Bob said I ran 7.34 in 1:15:19 at a10:15 pace

1  9:28.31
2  10:12.20
3  9:19.83
4 9:18.01
5 10:37.02
6  11:19.66
7  11:21.39
 .34 3:39.76 10:34