Monday, October 31, 2011

Last weeks nOg Run: 10/24

Last week Hiroko and I attended the nOg Run together for the first time in ages.  It will likely be that last time for ages as well.  Hiro's work is entering her busy time of the year, and it is getting colder here.  Hiroko . . .HATES the cold.  I, on the other hand, don't mind the cold as much as I do the heat.  I am not fond of wind, but could I can deal with for the most part.  I am actually looking forward to running in the colder months to come, but by far Fall is my favorite season of the year. 

The run itself was nice, and I felt much better after the 10 mile race than I did the Half Marathon.  In fact, I had no real ill effects from the 10 miler to speak about at all.  Anyway . . . I am about a week behind on this blog and nothing stands out about this run other than it was nice to run with Hiro at the nOg.

3 mile  28:17 for a 9:25 pace

1 9:30
2 9:17
3 9:29

Here is an interview I found with Anton Krupicka from last winter that I figured would be nice to share, since winter is quickly coming on:

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Plan of Action

Sunday's workout was a much reduced from the killer 12 Days of Christmas or 900's that I was doing while I trained for the Half Marathon.  But, I'm going down a new path with my health and fitness, so the crazy killer workouts are on hiatus for now. 

My new plan is much more about building and relying upon my personal will power, so I may be screwed from the get go, but we will see.  Here are the major changes:

1) Eat 3 meals a day and one post work snack -- most often a homemade smoothie (yogurt or Banana, Frozen or fresh fruit (most often some combination of Blueberries, Strawberries, or Peaches.  Maybe Pineapple, but nothing from a can).   Hiroko and I don't eat in restaurants very often, and I eat basically the same breakfast everyday. One serving of either Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal (not from the prepackaged pouches) with fresh or frozen fruit, a few walnuts or almonds added, and some Honey, two pieces of toast or a bagel, and coffee cream, no sugar. I have an amazing capacity to eat the same thing for weeks on end without getting tired of it. I always take my own lunch to work. The size of which I am attempting to reduce.  Also, I want to get away from taking sandwiches because the never fill me up.  I also want to move to more rye bread rather than white or wheat.

2) No Snacking, No Grazing, No Eating Because of Boredom, which is my major issue.  Snacking is my downfall.  I love sweets and have no real self control when there are around.  So, sweets are pretty much out of my life until I can control myself. 

3) Beverages:  this is the area that comes most natural.  I drink alcohol very infrequently -- like less than one beer a month.  No real reason why other than it is just not my thing.  As for soda's . . . don't get me started.  I consider to be just shy of poison and do my best to avoid them.  I may have a root beer from time to time, but that's is about it.  Sports drinks and energy drinks are poison unless you are in the middle of an athletic event, I see no need to drink them and I still prefer water.  Basically, I drink water, coffee, tea (mainly green) never sweetened (which is seen as a SIN in the South, but I don't care), and the occasional OJ. 

4)  Nothing to eat after 10pm.  Hiroko and I eat rather late and often don't start dinner until 7:30 or 8pm.  It is an old habit from Japan.  So when we find ourselves wanting an after dinner treat or something to eat while we watch TV.  It is often well after 10pm.  So now, I have two rules to stop this behavior: No Snacking and No Eating after 10pm.

5) Stay Active: I hate TV, but we are getting free cable . . . (Ssshhhh . . . don't tell!)  So, I get sucked in.  Plus, it is Hockey and Football season!  My idea is to try to stay active around the house and resist the urge to sit on the couch and zone out on TV.

6) Ride My Bike back and forth to work and do small nightly in home workouts of abs and push ups.  I am good about riding to work, but have gotten slack about riding home and will often get a ride from Hiro.  My bike rides need to be both ways, which helps out in the waist and wallet.  I think that by doing a smaller nightly routine, I'll be able to keep a better level of motivation and maintain a base level of conditioning. 

Well, that is the basics of my new plan of action.  I have been following it for over a week now and think that it is more than workable.  My main goal is to reach the point where this is no longer an exercise in self discipline, but simply the way I choose to live my life.  Running started out this way, and I am no longer at the point where I need to force myself to run.  Running is just part of my life now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler: Race Report -- 10/22/2011

The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler was designated as the 2011 Road Runners club of America North Carolina 10 Mile State Championship Event, which meant nothing to me other than, there would be a lot of fast folks at this race.  I was also certain that I would be spending my near the tail end of the field, which I had no problem with at all.  The field was going to be fleet of foot, but the race was also going to sport some top notch organization and another great location to run.  It seemed to me that the 10 mile distance itself would also weed out a lot of people, who like the sexiness of the Half and Full Marathon but aren't looking to run a lot of races.  Another thing that I knew would discourage a lot of recreational runners was that the race had a strict ban on headphones: the website even went as far as to say:

As a USATF sanctioned race we must enforce recently amended rule 144.3(b) that prohibits the use of portable electronic devices by participants competing in long distances running races.

Any violators will be disqualified and timing will NOT be scored. For your safety and the safety of your fellow runners, please leave your headphones at home.

I didn't add in the bold type or italics folks -- that's a direct cut and paste!  Scary, Huh! Personally, I had been in need of something to force me to leave my i-pod at home.  I had been running without music for most of the year until I got laid up with the flu.  I started using the I-pod again when I came back to distract me from how bad I felt. 

There were two main reasons that I wanted to run this race: One -- I had never run on the American Tobacco Trail, and Two --  I wanted another longer distance race following the Neuse River Bridge for fear of a "what now moment?"  I am kinda famous or infamous for what I call a "What Now Moment?" after a major accomplishment.  I sort of get lost and make really dumb decisions because I focus so much on achieving my goal that I have no real idea what I want to do next.  Anyway, I figured that another race right after the Half would help me keep my head in the game.

As for the course, the race was being run on the American Tobacco Trail, which is a Rails to Trails project that runs over 20 miles from Durham to just south of Apex NC.  Most of the trail is covered in a fine compacted gravel surface that is ideal for running and fairly flat.  I had heard that it was a wonderful place to run, and a lot of people rave about the Spring Marathon and Half Marathon that utilize the trail.  Even though I was well aware of the trail, I have never ventured the 20 minute drive to see for myself, mainly because my beloved Umstead Park is just minutes away from my door. 


Saturday was nice chilly morning cool enough to sport my Raiders nit cap (which I will refer to from here on as a toboggan) rather than my hat.  Since the race was on a trail and there would not be enough parking, there was a shuttle bus service running from the USA Baseball Training Complex to the race HQ where we picked up our timing chips and could use the restrooms.  After that, we walked about a quarter of a mile to the starting line for the start of the race.  Since the race was being run on a trail about 10 feet wide, there were two starts one for women and another 15 minutes later for men.  I had no pretense as to my place in this field and made my way right to the back of the pack.  My goals were to run a smart race, try to keep my splits close together, beat my average pace for the half Marathon, negative split the race, and walk away in much better shape than I had the Half. 

The Start and Mile One:
I had triple checked Old Bob before the race to ensure that he was at full power for the race.  My warmups had not been great and I felt stiff, but at the start of the race, I felt really good.  The first mile actually began on a street leading to the trail in order to accommodate the whole field of runners being packed together.  This would lead to a slightly long outbound portion of the race because the finish would be on the trail.  Some people don't like out and back races, but I am rather fond of them.  However, this also meant that the race began with a small incline.  I could tell right off that I was going to have a good race -- maybe my Raiders toboggan has special powers, who knows.    I tried hard not to go out too fast and forced myself to slow down several times during the first mile.

Miles Two through Four:
The field had indeed been just as fast as I had imagined, and I was clearly near the back of the pack, which was just fine by me because it allowed me to concentrate totally upon my race.  Most of the out bound portion of the race was on a slight decline, which I knew would make my goal of a negative split more difficult, but I still felt up for the challenge.  I had done well in regards to not going out too fast for perhaps the first time.  Miles two, three, and four were all about maintaining an even pace and not trying to do too much.  I felt great, but I needed to resist the temptation of taking advantage of how great I felt.  I kept telling myself that the more energy I conserved on the first half of the course, the better I would run on the back half.  I started to encounter runners from the women's race some where into the third mile.  And, I saw the eventual winner of the women race on her return leg as I finished my fourth mile.  Immediately, I  recognized her as someone I see running in both Umstead and on Hillsborough St. all the time. I felt great by the end of my fourth mile and most of the field was now passing me going in the opposite direction, but I was running my race and my splits were exactly where I wanted them.

Miles Five, Six, Seven:
I took my Gu (Espresso Love)  at the start of mile five and finished it at the turn, which was at 5.3 miles.  The next three miles were about maintaining my pace despite the course shifting to more of an incline and the early onset of fatigue.  I know that I am really bad about pushing myself to maintain my pace during uphill portions of a race, which leads to some wild swings in my splits.  It was a major goal of mine to work on that during this race, and I was having to push myself not to let my pace fall into the 10min. mile range that much during these miles.  I did a fairly decent job and was happy with the results. 

Miles Eight and Nine:
AKA -- Reeling in Mr. Red Cap.  When I looked ahead of me at the start of mile Eight I could only see a few men ahead of me.  Most of the other guys were way beyond my line of sight.  There were a few guys behind me and I had just passed three younger guys that I knew would re-pass me at some point.  However, I could make out one guy wearing a Red (most likely NC State) Cap with about four or five women in between us.  Catching him became my goal for the next two miles.  I gradually picked up my pace and began to shrink the  distance between us.  I could see him getting closer to me as I passed each of the ladies that had been running between us.   There was only about 15 seconds between us at the 8.5 mile mark.  I finally caught him at the 9 mile mark and picked him off.

Mile Ten and the Finish:
AKA -- This one hurt.  After passing Mr. Red Cap, I could feel the hurt in a bad way.  I knew that I was slowing down as we were again running on an incline.  I tried my best not to let my pace slip too much and to fight off the guys who were coming up from behind me.  The three young guys that I knew were going to pass me zipped by shortly after I passed Mr. Red Cap.  two more older guys also passed me on the first half of mile 9.  I knew that one of them was gone for good but the other was lingering close and I thought that I could get him if I pushed.  At the 9.7 mile mark I got sick of the hurt.  I wanted it over with!  I could feel that I was no longer running upright, but was hunching over, and I decided enough.  So I launched into what would become a full on head long berserker sprint for the finish line.  I didn't do it to save seconds or to pass people -- I did it to end the hurt as quickly as possible.   I looked like a complete Jackass, I am sure!  But, I finished the race on my own terms and ended the hurt.  I was able to pass the one of the older dudes that passed me as well, which was nice. 

I felt Awesome.  I didn't negative split the race, but I achieved all of my other goals.  I didn't feel wrecked by this race mile I did the Half, and I felt like I had run a much stronger race.  I can not wait to run this race again next year.  Honestly, I think that The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler will go down as my favorite race of 2011 . . . at least thus far!

10 miles in  1:33:26 for a 9:20 pace

1-- 9:16
2 --9:01
3 --9:35
4 --9:12
5 --9:14
6 --9:43
7 --9:35
8 --9:04
9 --9:15
10 --9:30

Sunday, October 23, 2011

First Cold Morning Run of the Year: 10/20

Fall is in full force here in Raleigh, the leaves are falling, the State Fair is underway, and my morning runs are getting chilly.  A lot of people (Hiroko included) are not pleased with the idea that colder weather is here to stay, but I should not be counted amongst them.  I love the cold weather when it is within reason and in Raleigh it is nearly always within reason.  My only real concern with the change to more brisk weather is that my breathing is getting a bit more difficult.  I'm still using a steroid inhaler at nights before bed in order to breath properly.  My breathing never returned to normal following my flu in the summer, but with the use of an inhaler, I've been doing just fine.  However, I tried to come off of the inhaler following the Half Marathon.  It took only to two days and one run on a cold morning to realize that I had made a bad choice and return to the inhaler.  I don't want to be dependent upon an inhaler, but for the time being, I'll just have to deal with it.

Thursday's run was alright --no real issues at all from soreness and fatigue.  I had a good run and began to think about how I wanted to run the Tobacco Trail 10 miler that was coming up on the weekend.  Overall, I am feeling fairly good about things.  I know what I need to do in regards to my eating habits, and I feel ready to take on the changes that I know are much needed.  I've begun to exercise at home nightly instead of doing a couple hard workouts at the gym each week.  I am just doing abs and pushups for now, and I still plan on going the the gym to add verity to my workout.  But, I know that I need to workout at home in order to avoid being sucked into the couch potato life after work.  I'm also trying to help out more around the house, which I've always prided myself on being fairly good about, but I know that there is more I can do, which helps keep my active and less likely to get bored and graze, and it also earns me some good husband points, which is an added bonus and timely because Hiroko is disgusted by my black toenail.  The little piggy who stayed home on my right foot decided to put on his Halloween costume a bit early it seems. 

4 miler: 42:28 10:29 pace

1 10:51
2 10:20
3 10:26
4 10:23

I maintained my pace pretty well throughout this run.  Here is a song in honor of my Halloween Toe:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Return to the nOg: 10/17

Hiro getting a new PR
Sore.  Stiff.  Beat all to hell.  That was how I felt on Monday.  Luckily, Hiroko and I had planned a small vacation around the Half Marathon, and I didn't have to work until Tuesday.  By late afternoon, I knew that I needed to get a run in but knew that it would be a slog-a-thon if I tried to run alone.  Luckily enough, Monday night is the night that Tir-Na-nOg hold a social run and trivia contest, which ofter draws over 300 runners to the streets of downtown Raleigh.  I tried to get Hiroko to join me but she was rest on her laurels after finishing 4th in her age group in Neuse River Brigde Run's 5k.  Yes, that's right.  Hiroko did one training run a then crushes yet another 5k!  I'm really glad that I was running in the Half and not the 5k because this might have been the time that Hiroko finally beat me. 

Anyway, the nOg Run ended up being just what the doctor ordered for me.  I was able to ride the wave of a huge group run, and push myself into running a nice three miler.  I missed most of the nOg run's while I was training for the half.  I had forgotten just how much fun I have a the nOg run.  I am going to try to attend a few of these over the course of the next few months just to give myself a change of pace.

I did 3 miles in 29:13 for a 9:44

1 9:20
2 9:42
3 10:12

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Post Race Wrap Up: Neuse River Bridge Run Half Marathon

Following the Half Marathon on Saturday, I have had a lot to the think about.  I am pleased with my race overall, and there isn't much that I would do differently, other than an equipment check.  I am really proud that I followed my training plan and got myself to both the starting line and the finish line on my own.  It was really important to me that I did not enlist any direct assistance from anyone (other that the much appreciated moral support that many of you supplied).  Running in the Half Marathon was something that I wanted to do pretty much on my own, which is why I stop attending group runs and workout classes while I was training.  Good, bad, or ugly, it was going to be on me.  And I think that it all turned out for the good. 

However, notice that I said that I was pleased with my race.  I am not ecstatic or thrilled but pleased.  Since Saturday, I have had to face up to a few things that I have wanted to avoid for sometime now.  My weight is the great struggle of my life.  And, even though I ran an entire Half Marathon at 280+ pounds, I wish that I hadn't.  My time was good, but the punishment that I put my body through was really unnecessary when you think that it could have been reduced had I only lost weight before the race.  The fact that I didn't rests entirely at my feet.  I have made great strides in my exercise and improved the way I eat over the last few years, but I can and must do more.  Diets are not my thing, and I don't think that they work.  Lifestyle changes are much better than diets in my book, and I have been reluctant to committing myself to the type of lifestyle choices that I know are needed.  However, after the half Marathon, I have come to a crossroads: either commit myself to running and make the tough health choices need to support my running or go on the way I am, give up running and take up a sport that has less risk of injury.  These options may seem extreme, but let's face some cold hard facts, running at 6'1" 280 pounds at the end of your 30's is a major injury just waiting to happen.  Besides this is an easy choice when it comes down to it -- running makes me happy.  Weighing as much as I do -- doesn't.  I need to commit myself to eating right and losing weight.

I have no doubt that I could run the Marathon in Miami, and finish it, but the risk of injury is off the chart.  As it stands now, there is about 14 weeks to go before the marathon, and I will lose one week of training due to a wedding that I will be attending in LA come November (Irene, I am heading your way).  I don't like the odds, so I have decided to drop down to the Half Marathon in Miami.  I plan to dedicate myself to both training for the half and losing a substantial amount of weight before I reach the starting line.  These decisions are honestly way over due.  I know that exercise alone is not going to get me to where I want to be, so it is just time to commit myself to the healthy eating habits that are required.  I haven't given up on the idea of running a full marathon.  In fact, I am more committed to it than ever, but when I do run it.   I want to run the hell out of it, but if I ran it now, it would only be about sheer survival.  I want to thrive, not just survive!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Neuse River Bridge Run Half Marathon Race Report Part II

After a near pre-race meltdown, no matter how much I wanted to focus on the start of the race and just fall into a nice groove, I found that I was still trying to reassure myself that everything would be alright.  I had toyed with the idea of running without Old Bob and my I-pod before the race, but had decided that I should run with them because that's how I had trained.  Also, I was afraid of going out too fast and blowing up.  Now, I would have to rely upon my own best judgement rather than Old Bob's hard data.  I felt just a little bit doomed because my judgment . . . umm . . . not always the best in the world.  I started out much closer to the front of the race field than I wanted too, so that any splits I got along the course would be as close to accurate as possible.
Runners Crossing the Drawbridge across The Trent
The first three miles of the the race would be the most challenging of the course because they mainly consisted of three bridges that also formed the only hills on the course.  The first drawbridge across the Trent river, which was still rather flat was our first bridge. Once we crossed the starting line I just let people stream past me and tried to stay out of the way.  I was running fairly well, but left knee was feeling a bit of soreness during the first mile; however, I was confident that I would soon fade.  I had the notion that I was going out too fast, but the pace felt right so I went with it for the time being.  I knew that the Highway 17 exit ramp the Neuse River Bridge was coming and would quickly sort out any pacing issues for me real fast.  The off ramp was a long sustained incline and formed the only real hill on the entire course.  However, I wasn't anything that difficult when compared to the hills I had been running in Umstead, so I was sure that I would handle it just fine.  When I made the turn onto the off ramp, I was that a few people had already begun to walk as they climbed the ramp.  Other people continued to pass me as I made my way up the off ramp, but I still wasn't in my part of the field and most of the folks going past me were clearly stronger runners, so I didn't let it bother me in the slightest.  It was right around sunrise and the view from the bridge was just stunning.  Once we reached the top of the off ramp we made a button hook turn and head back toward the shore along the bridge rather than crossing the full span of the bridge.   The climb was no problem at all, and I even made a silly attempt to ham it up for the race photographer waiting for us as we made the turn onto the highway.

The Bridge was still open to traffic, but the road had been coned off and police officers on motorcycles were running back and forth along the course as we ran along the Neuse River bridge and the Highway 70 bypass bridge spanning the Trent River.  I felt totally safe on the course and was able to enjoy an awesome view, which helped to steady my nerves.  Once we crossed the brides and left the highway the remainder of the course was totally flat.  I had my Nathan's hand held H20 bottle, so I skipped right past the first H20 stop at the three mile mark.  I had hoped that there would be someone calling out splits but no such luck!  My left knee was doing all right and fewer people were passing me at this point.

Miles 3 through 6 were nice and flat.  The went by with relative ease.  I sipped from my H20 bottle a bit, but the morning was near perfection for running: Cool, hardly and breeze after the bridges, and clear blues sky.  I I asked another runner for the time at Mile 4, and it was around 36 something, so I was right on pace for my goal of finishing in 2 hours.  A large group that had slowed for the H20 stop caught up to and passed me around this time.  I continued to feel good and run strong, and my difficulties of the morning were fading from mind.  I took my first Gu as close to the 45 min .mark as I could figure.  At mile 5 we had another H20 stop and the port-a-potty both of which I skipped.  My pace was still good, and I again gave my thanks to the volunteers but declined H20.  At the 6 mile mark, I began to feel like I was in a sort of No Man's Land.  There were few runner's around me and the area was the least interesting part of the course visually.  The few spectators were waiting for their friends and family.  I picked up my pace a bit and hoped that this wouldn't come back to burn me later. At the next H20 stop I grabbed a cup of water and added it to my hand held as I continued to run.  Removing the cap and pouring in the water running wasn't an issue at all, but the maneuver did seem to impress some of the volunteers.
I didn't even notice the palace as I ran past it..
After mile 6, I realized that I was now in the midst of my longest race to date.  Mentally I was beginning to struggle, and the only person  running with consistently was of course running intervals.  I swear that we passed each other at least 8 times from mile 6 to mile 10, which was annoying because we were running a narrow portion of the roadside.  I was starting to get cranky and a bit goofy as the miles clipped off.  I kept hoping that the next mile marker would read on more mile than it actually did.  I Guued again before the 9 mile mark and felt much better.  Miles 6, 7, and 8, were lonely, and long straight lines, which really added to the fraying of my nerves by the interval guy.  Just before the mile 9 mark, we got back into the Historic portion of New Bern and the course had more volunteers and was more engaging.   I was coming out of my funk, but my right leg was getting sore from having run on the sloped edge of the road for so long.  I began to talk to the volunteers as I passed them and decided that one way or another I was going to rid myself of the interval dude after the 9 mile marker.
Hiro Waiting at the finish.
I manged to stay right on him and was waiting for him to stop, so I could go past him and try to get enough distance between us, so that he would still be behind when he began walking his next interval, when my race nearly fell apart. At the H20 station at the colonial governor's palace I decide to grab a cup of H20.  Rather than unscrew my H20 bottle lid and dump it in like I had all race, I decide to just drink it.  BAD IDEA!  REAL BAD!!

I can't drink from cups while I am running -- not at all.  I ended up spilling it on myself and what water I did get went down the wrong pipe slightly.  I was alright for about a block, and then . . . I coughed!  And it hurt.  It hurt lowReal low!  It felt like some one pulled on some internal band in my low low abs right below my waste band.  I immediately slowed down as my brain sought damage control reports from all departments.  I managed to keep running, but I knew that 2 hours, which had been slipping away since the no man's land of miles 7, 8, 9 was officially gone.  Also, interval dude was most definitely out of my life forever, which was a good thing.  By  midway through mile 11, I knew that I had tweaked something, but it wasn't bad enough to stop me from running. 

I passed a another guy cramping along the road and tried to give him an encouraging word as I passed, but in hindsight, those things probably don't help.  The course had now merged with the 10k course and there were more people around.  Just at mile 12, a lady wearing a shirt from Raleigh Running Outfitters passed me, and I chatted with her about the Raleigh 8000, which I had run in the midst of Hurricane Irene.  I was able to my mind off of all the soreness that I felt and pick my pace up a bit.  The last mile was difficult, but I got excited the closer that I got to the finish line. 

My pace picked up and the pain faded as I made for the finish line.  I saw Hiroko waiting for me just before the finish and picked up my pace even more.  As I pasted her, I took off my Raiders hat and yelled out "THIS RACE IS FOR AL DAVIS!"" 
Yes, I a wearing A Krispy Kreme Challenge Shirt

I didn't actually finish in anything near a sprint, but I had picked up my pace enough for the person on the micorphone to comment on how strong I was finishing and for a few people in the crowd to notice.  I was beat by the time I crossed the finish and I hardly remember the volunteer putting on my medal  I staggered about for a while trying to remain on my feet rather than sitting down.  Hiroko met me pretty quickly and helped might fight off the temptation to sit down.  Mentally, I was drained and it took me a few minutes to real be able to do much beyond stand there a smile!  I later found out that my time was 2:06:07.

The look on my face must have been one of exhaustion, confusion, and pure silly joy.  The run didn't go as I had planned, but it went well enough.  Afterward, I had plenty to think about and have come to some very significant conclusions, which I'll go into in the final part of this race report.  I am very proud of this run and can't wait to run this race again next year.  Hiroko and I both were very happy that we chose The Neuse River Bridge Run and New Bern is a great little town, which I will always remember as thr place that I completed my first Half Marathon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Neuse River Bridge Run Half Marathon Race Report -- part 1

I had everything carefully organized for the race
 I ran my last warm up run on Wednesday after work.  My intention was to run a shakeout run on Friday morning, but the Wednesday run went so bad that I decided to just rest up till race day.  Wednesday, had been a humid day with dark clouds hanging around threatening to rain but refusing to just get it over with.  I hadn't wanted to run, but after work I started crawling the walls making making both myself and Hiroko crazy.  My plan was to run an easy five miler, but I began to have stomach cramps after the first mile, and the rest of the run became more of a walk/run horror show that I shortened to just over 3 miles.  After I finished, I didn't let this disaster of a run effect me mentally.  In fact, I shrugged it off rather easily.  It was a bad run, nothing more.  I had faith in my training and where I was at in way of my conditioning.  However, I did decided to skip my Friday shakeout and just give myself some extra rest.

Unaware that most of this stuff isn't working right
Hiroko and I traveled down to New Bern Friday afternoon in order to get settled in at the hotel and attend the mini race expo.  We picked up our race packets, shirts, had a brief look around, and then joined the pre-race pasta dinner.  I was beginning to get nervous and couldn't wait for the race to start.  We didn't stick around the expo long after eating; instead Hiroko and I walked around historic New Bern for a little bit before returning to the hotel to get ready for the next morning.  Hiro was running in the 5k, which began an hour after teh half Marathon started, so we coordinated out game plan for the morning and I laid out all of my gear for the coming day.

I wanted to make sure not be to scrambling in the morning to find something.  My only desire was to get to the line as relaxed as possible.  We went to bed at a decent hour, and I slept well.  The morning started out well -- I got up on time, my stomach didn't give me any complaints, and my nerves were alright.  The starting line was just in front of our hotel, so all I need to do was walk out of the hotel to and join the gathering crowd.  I went out side and waited for Hiro to go back upstairs for her jacket because the air was still a little chilly.  Right then the wheel came off -- I turned on Old Bob and waited for a signal and immediately realized something was wrong when the low power warning came on.  I had charged him the day before, but during the car ride the button must have gotten pressed.  I hadn't checked the power because I knew that I had charged him.  I quickly came to the decision that I would be running my first Half Marathon by feel alone.  Next, I turned on my I-pod hoping to settle my frayed nerves, but this only made matters worse as my I-pod was blasting my music through it external speaker, despite the fact that my ear buds were plugged in correctly.  Had my Garmin been working, I would have had no problem just chucking the I-pod, but the I-pod was now the only thing I had to help me calculate my speed, and I was determined to get it to work.  Hiroko was trying to help me, but by this time I was in full on freak-out.  I messed around with my I-pod as I moved to the starting line, and It wasn't until about 5 minutes before the start that remember how to re-boot the damn thing and got it working.
there I go in my Raiders cap and red shit


 I attempted to not to go completely bananas at the idea of running the race be feel, but, honestly, I was a mess.  I just wanted to start the race before anything else could go wrong.  My wish came quickly, as the three minutes that I had to kill once I joined the other runners at the started, just ticked away quickly without passion or prejudices.  And . . . after the having exact type of morning that I had wanted to avoid, I was off.  As I start to run, I told myself that I was just going to have to focus on running -- nothing more.   I had trained too hard and invested too much in this race to not enjoy it.  I settled down with the knowledge that race day was finally here, and as I passed Hiroko, I shouted to her that I would see her in two hours.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Neuse River Bridge Run -- Short Recap: 10/15

I just finished The Neuse River Bridge Run Half Marathon in New Bern NC.  This was my first Half Marathon, and I finished in 2:06:07 for a 9:38 pace.  I'll post a full race report later but here are a few photos for now:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three Thing Thursday

 1)  I need to give some BIG SHOUT OUTS to Jessie Pants , Irene, and Morgan whose comments on my blog and encouragement over the last few months through illness and training have been awesome.  Ladies, you ROCK MY SOX!  Honestly, I can't tell how happy it make me to see your comments!

2)  I need to give another shout out to my family for supporting me as I worried, fretted, rambled on about, and worried some more about running.  Hiroko, on September 26, 2006, I was lucky enough for you to marry me.  You have supported me, encouraged me, and picked on me every day since.  I love and cherish our life together and want to thank you for dealing with everything so well (including all of the sweaty running clothes), and I promise to never get into the car again after a long run without putting down a towel!

Basil, my little man, I am sorry for all the times I come home sweaty and you've unknowing rubbed up against my sweaty leg or given me a head bump only to come away soaked in sweat.  I know it ticked you off by the way you glared at me as you spent the next two hours grooming.  Sorry Bud!

3)  Tuesday after on run training run with me of 3 miles in 29:57 for 9:57 Hiroko decided to enter the 5k that is running along with my Half marathon.  Seriously, she hasn't run with me in nearly 3 weeks and still kept up just fine.  She make me sick!

Our Splits were:


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Last Long Run Before My First Half and Understanding My Need: 10/8

I began my training program for this half marathon nearly 10 weeks ago, and the whole process seem daunting, and my reasons for deciding to run a half marathon in the first place had become somewhat muddled.  I had been sick and was beginning to have doubts concerning my need to run.  I kept asking myself why I felt so compelled to run and what was I hoping to prove to myself.  I never doubt that I would return to running.  In fact, being able to run again was nearly all that I thought about.  However, the thing that I was trying to ask myself was other than the obvious health benefits, why did running matter so much to me.  I thought about what running meant to me and why I felt this deep seeded need, but I couldn't to come up with an answer that satisfied me.  Eventually, as I began to feel better and started my training program, the question faded from mind for the most part.  That is until this weekend when I returned home from my final long run and turned on my computer to upload the data from my Garmin.  As I waited for my data to transfer, I noticed the internet headline that Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders had passed away.  As many of you may no, I am a life long Raiders fan, and I bleed Silver and Black.  Mr. Davis was the Raiders.  It is that simple.  And, he was a man, who I respected a great deal for a multitude of reasons both football related and not.  Rather than giving you a the same litany of reason why he was a great man that have been shared over the weekend or share the multitude of reasons why I admired the man, I've decided to keep them to myself.  My reasons are mine, and I truly cherish them.  I take pride in supporting and identifying with the organization that Mr. Davis spent his life building.

Now, one may wonder "what does this have to do with running?"  Well, after a very emotional Sunday, I lay in bed and tried to go to sleep, but I began to think about life, death, and the nature of our existence on this big blue world of ours.  It was then that I realized that I haven't had any instances of night terrors in months.  I don't really talk about it much (and who would), but I've had night terrors periodically throughout my life.  Mostly, they have been centered upon thoughts of death or feelings of overwhelming dread.  For anyone who doesn't know about night terrors here is what Wikipedia has to say:  

"A night terror, also known as a sleep terror, incubus attack, or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread, typically occur in the first few hours of sleep during stage 3 or 4 NREM sleep. Night terrors should not be confused with nightmares, which are bad dreams that cause the feeling of horror or fear. An estimated 1-8% of children have at least one night terror in their life but have no memory of the occurrence"

Ok.  I am a child.  A giant child.  Well, no not really.  And my night terrors were never the nature of a violent fit or any thing you might have seem on tv.  I would just wake up and be seized by this overwhelming sense of dread..  I would be overwhelmed by it to the point that my heart would race and would feel like the wall were closing in on me.  I know that it sounds cliche, but that is truly the best way to describe the feeling.  I would want to scream just to snap myself out of it.  I can't really say that the source of these terror was a fear of death or the insignificance of human existence, but my mind often wandered to these subjects when these feels came upon me.  I think that my mind went to these subject because they seemed like the only subject worthy of producing the type of dread that I felt, rather than vise versa.  I can't explain what would produce these attacks because I am generally a pretty positive person.  Nor, have I ever really talked about then with anyone till this very moment.  And, I wouldn't be talking about them if not for the passing of Mr. Davis.  Sunday night, I start thinking about all of those big questions, but there wasn't any dread, which isn't surprising because, like I said earlier that isn't really how it works.  But it got me to thinking that I haven't had one instance of night terrors in a long time.  I could even really remember the last time I've had it happen in the last year, and immediately, I understood why I need to run. 

It was so clear and nearly a revelation.  Running is my mechanism by which I process the world.  I don't know how it is for anyone else but while I am running my mind churns more than my legs ever could.  My brain just goes into over drive and bounce from one random subject to the next thing to the next until by the end of a run I feel mentally wrung out.  Some people call it me time, but it isn't that selfish in nature.  At least I don't think about it in that manner.  It is just that running allows me to put my body in to the rhythm it needs to stimulate my, normally screwed up, little brain into working correctly.  Simple as that.  That is my need for running in a nutshell.  Distance, speed, times . . . none of those thing matter.  I just need the process.

9 Miles 1:29:11 9:54

1 10:42
2 9:34
3 9:21
4 8:56
5 9:47
6 10:34
7 10:56
8 10:03
9 9:14

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Pet Peev with Interval Runners and Why I am not a Running Bigot: 10/6

Thursday morning I over slept, so rather than attempt to run the streets of Raleigh during the morning drive time, I chose to run in Umstead following work.  I enjoyed the run a great deal, but the park is a noticeably different place during the week as opposed to the weekends.  Because of the limited day light their appear to be far few runners than on the weekend.  However, the number of mt. bikes seems to have increased exponentially.  I know that their is often a clash between the two groups, but I personally could care less.  I find everyone equally annoying  .  Let's face it, I've been buzzed by mt. bikers and I had runner let out random grunts/yells for no reason as they passed me.  I find both things to be irritating, but I try not to judge a group based upon the idiocy of a few of it's members.  

However, if there is one group that does annoy me for no real reason other than, they annoy me, it is interval runners.  Before people start yelling at me for being a snob or running bigot, let me just say that I am not one of those people that looks down on the practice of running intervals.  It isn't my thing, but whatever floats your boat.  I just find playing runner's leap frog with interval runners very distracting.  I would rather be passed by a person or pass a person and be done with it.  Having the someone pass me, then stop walk awhile, until I pass them, then have them start running again and pass me, and stop and start the cycle all over again . . . ugh . . . it just makes me nuts, and I'll deal with it, but for those of people who run interval and get a sneer from me as you pass me for the seventh time, please know that it is not that I look down on you or a judging you . . . it is just that YOU ARE ANNOYING THE F@*K OUT OF ME!

As you may guess, I had a bit of an issue with a guy running intervals during this run. I'll get over it.

I did 6 miles in 1:00:51 for a 10:08 pace. 

1 10:45
2 10:24
3 10:33
4 10:44
5 9:38
6 8:44

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lets Talk Rewards: Fish Sticks! 10/5

Ok!  I am close enough to my Half Marathon to talk about post race rewards.  Mine started as an odd joke between Hiroko and I a little over a year ago.  We were standing in the frozen food aisle, and I told her how I was craving Fish Sticks of all things.  It was crazy because this deep visceral craving was nearly giving me the shakes and my knees felt weak.  I had no idea were it came from because I haven't eaten fish sticks in at least 10 years, and the last time I did eat them, I was monumentally disappointed because they we soggy and disgusting.  But, this craving just grabbed hold of me and would not let go.  Hiroko said if I wanted them that badly that I should just buy a box.  But, I refused because deep down I knew they were going to be AWFUL!  The idea of Fish Sticks -- great!  I loved them as a kid, but I know that I am not a kid anymore and no matter how much I once loved foods like SpaghettiOs, Tang, and of course Fish Sticks, I now find them to be rather repugnant.  So, I showed restraint and scurried off without buying any Fish Sticks.

However, the craving only got worse over time.  Every time Hiroko and I went shopping as soon as we got to the store my mind began to focus on Fish Sticks.  I would forget what I had gone to the store to buy and find myself standing in the frozen food section transfixed  by all the boxes of Fish Sticks.  That grizzled bastard the Gorton's Fisherman just stood there mocking me.  Eventually, I'd shake it off or Hiro would come by and pull me out of my death stare.  But, as the weeks turned into months, the situation just got worse and worse.  I'd refuse to even walk through the frozen food section just to get to the checkout for fear of getting sucked in.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and could swear I smelled fish sticks in the oven.  I even started to eye my cat, Basil's, bowl of food whenever he got a can of Classic Ocean Whitefish & Tuna Feast. Poor guy ended up eating nothing but Tender Beef & Liver Feast everyday for about six weeks last January.

This all came to a head around the time that I signed up for my Half Marathon, I needed a solution to this issue because this whole fish stick thing was really beginning to effect my life.  I told Hiroko that if I ran a Half Marathon then, and only then, would I buy a box of Fish Sticks and give into this craving -- as a reward.  Seriously, I have no illusions about just how disappointing these fish sticks are going to be, but nonetheless a 48 count box of Fish Sticks is my Post Half Marathon Reward!  The funny thing is that as soon as I settled upon Fish Sticks as my reward, the craving has subsided and I've been able to go in the the grocery store without hardly giving Fish Sticks a second thought.  But, I dare not run a foul of the Gorton's Fisherman, soon after I return home from my race.  I'll be getting my Fish Sticks!

Workout 10/5 12 Days of Christmas:

1 Lap
2 Step Ups (each leg)
3 Fire Hydrants
4 Dips
5 Push ups
6 Bicycles
7 Bird Dogs
8 Russian Twists with 6 lb ball
9 Side Obliques
10 Super Mans
11 Crossover Crunches
12 Standard Crunch

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Step Closer: 10/4

I stole this from runjodirun
My first Half Marathon, The Neuse River Bridge Run, is less than 9 days away as I write this post.  At this point I am really excited and just can't wait for the day to arrive.  My 12 mile run on Sunday gave me a to of confidence, and I feel good about the race.  I have done nearly all of my training on my own, but have followed the training plan that I selected for Runner's World nearly to the letter.  I wanted to do my training on my own because I wanted to own whatever happens come race day.  It was entirely my choice to run a half, so I wanted the responsibility of the training to fall on myself as well.  I have learned a lot about myself over the last 10 weeks and have come to understand a lot about why running appeals to me.  I've come to realize that I love the internal struggle running presents.  Every time I put on my shoes and get ready to go for a run, it is another opportunity to ask myself if I have enough courage and fortitude to accomplish the goal that I have set for myself that day.  I have come to cherish my time on the trials or streets, and longer distances no have fear attached to them.  I still respect them, but I am confident that by training and dedication I can eventually achieve any distance goal that I set for myself.  Sunday, I ran 12 miles and spent well over 2 hours running, and it was, by far, a wonderful investment of my time.

Tuesday, I shook off the soreness of Sunday's long run with a 3 miler in Umstead. 

I did 3 miles in 31:18.67 for 10:26 pace.  The first two mile were rough, but I felt well sorted out by the end of mile two, and the third mile was a dream.

1 11:05
2 10:54
2 9:18

Monday, October 3, 2011

Running Down Darth Vader: 10/2

Twelve miles.  When I began copying my training plan from the August issue of Runner's World, the twelve miler at the end of week 8 was unimaginable.  I remember just shaking my head as I wrote it on my calendar.  I was glad that it fell in the early part of October, so I wouldn't have to stare at it for the whole month of September.  It scared the crap out of me.  It reminds me when I saw Star Wars for the first time, and Darth Vader scared me to death.  Most people forget just how frightening Vader was to kids watching the original Star Wars for the first time on the big screen.  He was enormous, clad in black, and the way the breathed chilled you to the core.  Darth Vader gave me nightmares as a four yaer old.  The Boggie Man never bothered me because I had no idea what he looked like, but Vader -- I knew exactly what he looked and sounded like.  This Twelve miler was just as terrifying to me as Darth Vader was to that wide eyed four year old with his eyes fixed upon the screen.

Now, I know that I still have a Half Marathon to run, but the twelve miler is the longest run of my training plan, and I am counting on the race day rush to carry me pretty far during the half.  But, I knew that for that twelve miler that I would only have myself to see me through.  I began to dread the run even more after I inexplicably scheduled a 10k race for the day before.  Why would do such a thing, well . . . I am sometimes a bit of a dumbass!  After last weeks 10 miler, which was the longest run of my life to that point, the gravity of this run began to set in, and I felt as if the Imperial March was playing in my head all week.  Vadar was coming and he had been disappointed for the last time!  My legs were cranky all week, and by Wednesday, I began to think of ways to alter my training schedule.  However, Thursday's morning run did a lot to settle my nerves.  Still by Saturday morning, there was still part of me that was wanting to skip the 10k.  Luckily, it had a $30 entrance fee, and I am a bit of a cheap bastard didn't want to just throw money away.  Therefore, I manned up and ran the race.  Afterward, my legs felt good, but I was feeling exhausted and nervous as the day went on.  I started getting stuff ready for my Sunday morning long run at 9:30pm and was in bed by 10pm.  When I woke up at 5:30am, It was time to face Darth Vader.

But, I didn't want to face him.  So I dilly dallied around until it was nearly 8:15 before I left the house.  When I got to Umstead, I still wanted no part of this run.  I spent the first three miles trying to settle my nerves and reconcile myself to the task at hand.  I didn't bring a camera on this run because I wanted to focus on the run.  Taking pictures as I run is a good way to make a run pass quickly, but I felt like I need to face up to this one.  Look directly at it's Darth Vader face and run it down.

Somewhere into mile three a couple of songs came on my I-pod that helped me to relax.  The next three miles went by fairly well, but I was still unnerved by the idea of twelve miles, and I couldn't help but think that it had only been a week ago that I ran ten miles for the first time.  However, upon reaching six miles, I was committed. My car was six miles away, and one way or another I was going to have to get back to it, so I may as well run.  Over the last six miles I felt a real clarity of purpose.  If I were a huge nerd I might say something about "the Force", but I'm not going for a cheezy reference with this post.  It is just when I think of things that scared me as a kid, Darth Vader tops the list, and when it come to training for the Half Marathon this run was what scared me the most.

After reaching the the nine mile mark, I knew I had the run in the bag.  It was down to a 5k, and I knew that I had more than enough in the tank for a 5k.  The last of my hills were in mile ten, and the last two miles just slipped by pretty quickly.  My legs hurt as soon as I stopped running, but the pain was just from soreness. . . lost of soreness . . . but not hint of injury or pain that I need to worry about.  I had faced down Vader and survived!

12 miles in 2:09:48 for a 10:48 pace

1 10:49
2 10:49
3 10:38
4 10:12
5 11:14
6 10:30
7 10:33
8 9:42
9 11:28
10 11:53
11 10:41
12 10:50

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Carrboro 10k Race Report: 10/1

The Carrboro 10K was a race that I enjoyed a great deal, but may not have been the wisest choice to run from a scheduling stand point.  I was looking for a 10k to fit into my Half Marathon training schedule, but this race was kind of a square peg round hole deal.  If I wanted to run a 10k, it needed to happen two weeks ago, but I'm a rookie, and I made a rookie mistake that will leave me running a 10k the day before the longest run of my training schedule.  FAIL.  

The Race, in and of itself, was a nice little race that showed me a lot about the progress that I've made over the last 8 weeks of training.  This was my third 10k and was by far the least taxing of the three.  The course was actually more challenging that the others, but I ran the distance with very little effort.  Granted, I didn't attempt to challenge my PR, but I came fairly close to my goal pace for the Half Marathon, which is by far more important to me at the moment, and I didn't feel bad at all following the race.  Honestly, I knew that I could easily pick up the pace if I chose, but I made the wise decisions for once and opted not to attempt anything stupid.  Having the 12 miler tomorrow actually helped in that regard.  

I arrived at the race just in time to make the start.  I miss timed my wake up and how long it would take to drive to the race.  I've never in my life been to Carrboro, so the course was also I total mystery.  Yeah . . .  I know . . . You don't need to say anything . . . I can feel your look.  Not smart, huh?  That's ME!  I am not going to bother with attempting to break down the race mile by mile because I ran the whole thing in the same, "just don't hurt yourself" manner.  We had nice weather and aside from the lack of a starting line of a sort, the race was well organized.  I have no complaints at least.  It was pretty windy and chilly, which made for a good test of my lungs and their healing from my breathing troubles this summer following my nasty flu and sinus infection, and I am happy to say that I had no issues breathing at all!  I felt 100% normal.  I plan to still keep using my inhaler before bed until after the Half, but this race has me optimistic that those problems are behind me.  In addition, my shin held up well, and I didn't feel any of the soreness that I felt following last weeks 10 miler other than on the downhills.  I did pick up a hitchhiker in my shoe right at the 4 mile mark that threw my stride off a bit, but other than that the race was just a fun little trot.   

Even though, I didn't run this race that hard, I chose not to run with my camera, but Hiro took a few nice photo, which I've included with this post. I ran with my I-pod during a race for the first time in forever, but I think that I am going to take it with me when I run the Half Marathon because the Neuse River Bridge Half Marathon is a small race, and I have no idea what kind of crowds to expect.  I am sure I will be in for some long lonely miles once the 10k runners finish.  As for the Carrboro 10k, I count this race as a success and just I hope that tomorrows 12 miler will be just a good.
Start of the race

Fast people I never saw

Same as above

same as above

There I am sporting the red shirt and Raiders hat

Not sure that this guy and I were in the same race?


Also Fast

see above

Wow!  My feet touch the ground when I run!  Not like this guy.

My guess is first Female, but I never saw her either

Every time someone passes me with a baby stroller, I tell me that they have probably BQ'ed . . .I kind of helps 

Oh come on!  Two kids . . . you smoked me pushing two kids!  

Just before the finish line

Yeah . . . I'm still not there

This couple passed me around mile 4.  I would like to blame the rock in my shoe, but that's a lie!

Here I am.

Hey, am not looking like death!

58:08 according to Old Bob.

I need to thank Hiroko for all the support she has given my as I follow my running passion!

But . . . She must stop taking pictures of all the people, who finish ahead of me pushing strollers!