Sunday, January 23, 2011


It was cold yesterday.  Too cold.  Maybe not THAT cold for my northern friends, but still...  cold enough for here.  The running group met at 8 AM, but I opted to sleep in.  It was so delicious, getting out of bed at 9 AM.  With Dee Dee and Matthew sleeping in late, I spent a quiet morning pondering where I would like to get my long run in for the day.  Temps would peak at 42 or so around 3 PM.  I decided to give Kennesaw Mountain a go.

After spending some time with Dee Dee, I got dressed at 3 PM and left the house at 3:30.  I thought surely the cold weather would keep people indoors, but I was rather surprised to pull up to the mountain and see the parking lot was full.  I had noticed a new parking lot on the right as a drive by.  I can't remember the last time I ran at the mountain.  It must have been a year or more.  I turned around and drove the half mile back to the parking lot and found a good parking spot.  I waited at the entrance for my Garmin to sink up, then took off running towards the mountain.  Due to the wind, I had opted to wear a short sleeve and a long sleeve technical shirt.  At the start of the run, it was kinda warm.  By the end of the run, I was grateful for my foresight.

The road to the mountain was going to be the only flat stretch of this run.  I stopped at the visitor center to drink some water and use the facilities, then took off down the trail.  My goal for the day was 14 miles.  As I started going up and down the hills, I got to thinking...  The park probably closed at dark (actually 5:30 PM).  It was supposed to get dark at 6 PM.  If I did 14 miles, I would not be back until almost 6:30 PM.  About three miles in, I decided to just do 12 miles, and get back to my car by 6!  I didn't want them to close the gate and lock me in.

I ran out past the Cheatham Hill visitors center where I had to cross a rather busy road.  Evidently, the good citizens of Georgia still aren't aware of the law for stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk.  Grrr!  After crossing the street, I made my way along the road for while before meeting back up with the trail.  I ran a short bit, and my Garmin went off, indicating I had reached the five mile point.  This was the farthest I had ever ran.  One more mile meant new territory!  As I followed the packed gravel road into the forest, up ahead, three white tail deer crossed the road.  I continued on for another five minutes or so before hitting mile six and my turn around point.

At this point, I started to get worried about my car, and I picked up the pace. I noticed the deer in a field off to my left.  I counted nine of them as I ran by.  I crossed over a wooden bridge, and I heard some rustling in the leaves to my right.  A small possum was staring me down.  I kept running, not wanting to hang around to hear him hiss.  The ups and downs had taken their toll on my muscles.  I was tired and I was kicking about a 9:30 per mile pace.  I passed a few people on the trail, but for the most part, it was just me.  The dwindling light made footing even more of a challenge.  Twice I stepped on a rock or root that bent my right foot up, causing intense pain.  Fortunately for me, it wasn't serious nor permanent.

Near the visitor's center, the trail exits the wood next to the road.  I opted to follow a little path down to the road and get on the side walk.  I followed the road back to my car.  The Garmin beeped 12 miles just outside the entrance to the parking lot, and it felt so good to stop running.  My legs were just shot, certainly from running up and down the hills, but also from kicking up the speed a bit.  All that worrying about the car was for naught.  Everything ended up just fine.

This morning, as I reviewed my schedule for the next couple of weeks, I realized that I made a few mistakes.  I have one more build cycle in which to increase my mileage to fourteen then fifteen miles.  No need to rush.  Also, I added a fourth mile to my cruise intervals on Thursday, and this after doing a tempo-ish run on Wednesday.  A bit much don't you think?

This week coming up is a recovery week. Plenty of time to ponder where to go from here...  and I'm itching to get back into the pool :-)


Monday, January 17, 2011

Ain't that Special

The weather was hard last week.  We had snow.  It melted a bit.  Then it froze.  The result was havoc on a city deep in the south.  I found it amusing that even the locals made fun of the City of Atlanta for not having enough equipment.  I was waiting for those same people to volunteer their income to make more purchases.  People love to complain about their government.  They key word being "their".  The kids were out of school all week, which I thought was a great idea.  The roads were just too dangerous.  We lost a young vibrant woman in a senseless accident blamed on ice.

Most of my running for the week had been done on the treadmill.  By the time the weekend arrived, I was determined to get my run in outdoors.  It was supposed to be fairly warm, with a high in the fifties.  The problem was that the sidewalks and trails just would not thaw out.  I thought, to be safe, I would head down to the Silver Comet Trail to run.  I brought my Saucony trail shoes just in case.   When I arrived, the trail head was covered in ice and snow.  I quickly changed out of my K-swiss and into the Sauconys.  It was a smart decision.  Parts of the trail were clear.  Parts had tire tracks in it from a four wheeler. Parts of it were just blah.

Once I got started, I decided I needed to throw any time goals out the window.  It took a lot of concentration to keep my ankles from going in directions they were not meant to bend.  I passed a few  slower runners on the trail, and one guy on a mountain bike passed me, but he turned around at about mile 4.  I, however, continued  another four miles or so out past the Floyd Road trail head.  A few elderly people were out walking, but none were feeling particularly friendly.

I decided after turning around, that I would begin to pick it up a bit.  The air was warming.  More and more of the trail was turning to slush.  The McMillan pace calculator said that my half marathon race pace "could be" 8:35 miles.  I was happy to keep the pace below 9:09 (sub-2 hour half mary).  I rattled off miles 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, with the final mile being slightly up hill all the way.  I was spent.  My ankles and feet were sore.  Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good.  It's been a long time since I ran 12 miles and felt so good afterwards.

That night, after I got out of the shower, I decided to check my body fat percentage with wet feet.  Yea. A small technicality I neglected on my last weigh in.  I'm pleased to report that my body fat percentage dropped 4 points, to 19 percent, with wet feet.  I did it twice to be sure.  It would seem wet feet help the current run through your feet.  So...  just like that, I dropped 7 pounds of fat.  Don't be jealous...


Friday, January 14, 2011

Those Other Digits

Tanita Home Scale Body Fat Ult-400

I got on the scale yesterday morning, and much to my pleasure, the scale told me that I was back below 180 pounds.  Given the fact that I drink to excess (OK, not so much anymore, but you know, the holidays and all), and I haven’t been tracking my food all that much, I’m amazed I don’t weigh more.  I’m only 4.5 pounds over my best Ironman training weight.  THIS IS A GOOD THING.

My current love interest is Racing Weight, another book by Matt Fitzgerald.   Weight and nutrition isn’t nearly as exciting as training.  The going has been slow.  I have just finished the part where we determine what a good target weight would be.  Can you feel the suspense?  My Tanita scale, pictured above, told me that my body fat percentage is 23.  23!!  It determines this by shooting a low voltage current through your feet and measure the resistance.  Evidently, electricity moves through fat pretty quickly, and I have 41.285 pounds of it.  OH.MY.GAWD.

At my age, 23% (or 41.285 pounds of fat) puts me somewhere near the 35th percentile for my age group.  Yes.  That’s right.  Sixty-five percent of athletes in my age group have less fat than I do.  OH.MY.GAWD ROFL….  I’m right at the border line recommendation.  I can either shoot for the 80th percentile (16.3% body fat) or try to improve by 25 points (18.8% body fat).  I, being all HTFU and stuff, decided to pick a point in between.  I am shooting for a body weight of 168lbs.  I haven’t weighed 168lbs since I was a college freshman.  Is 12lbs doable?  I think so.  Here we go :-)

Yesterday was my second tempo-ish run of the week.  With my race less than 10 weeks away, I am beginning to steer my training towards race pace efforts.  I decided to run some mile repeats at what I thought would be a good pace.  I did a mile warm up, then I did 1 mile at an 8:35 pace, followed by a half mile recovery.  I repeated this three times for a total of six miles.  My effort was pretty low on the first mile.  The second and third mile caused my HR to spike up into zone 4.  I felt pretty good on the last one, just a little tired.  In reviewing my McMillan pace chart, 8:35 is  what I should be racing at *sigh*, not doing mile repeats.  C’est la vie.  There is always tomorrow.

Rainmaker is giving away another Garmin 310XT over at his place.  Go by and register!

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Reward

For every stick, there must be a carrot.  For every risk, there must be a reward.  Why else then would one take risks in the first place?  My reward for executing a most excellent test was a plethora of digits for me to play with and analyze.


As you can see from the splits, I started out way too fast, which, while not unusual, is easier to avoid during a test than a race.  That number would indicate that my first mile was a PR, with one small problem.  My Garmin 310XT beeped at me before I crossed the 1600 meter line, much less the 1609 meter mile mark.  A mile PR?  not so much…

I am much happier with the second, third, and fourth splits (yes, even the last 0.11 miles).  It shows that my effort was consistent, and I even managed to turn it up a little bit at the end.  Overall, these deets tell me that there is room for improvement in my execution.  Running well is not entirely about fitness, execution and economy are important as well.

The chart below shows my heart rate during the test:


As you can see, the level of effort is pretty consistent.  My max HR was 171, and my average heart rate was 167.  This puts my Zone 5 heart rate seven (!) beats below where it was last year.  That’s a huge difference.  How could this be?  Well, I have my theories…

Ever since I switched over from training by heart rate (running) to training by pace, I’ve noticed that my heart rate has been lower, even though my pace has improved.  Certainly, some of this is due to greater fitness, but I’ve had a stinkin suspicion that a lot of it had to do with my preoccupation with heart rate during my training/tests.  My mind was forcing my heart rate to match my perceived level of exertion.  By totally ignoring HR during my test, I believe I have a truer picture of exactly where my zones are.

Using the handy dandy calculator at Training Peaks, I plugged my average pace into the calculator, and I’m now the proud owner of pace ranges for each of my five zones.  Coupled with the information from the McMillan Running Calculator, I now have a pretty good idea of how and where I should be doing my training.  The McMillan calculator, by the way, says I should run a 1:52 half marathon.  I don’t think I have the confidence for THAT, yet….

With 67 days to the Georgia Half Marathon, its time to get bizzy…


Monday, January 10, 2011

A 5K Time Trial

Saturday morning arrived with little fanfare.  The sun was shining, and it was cold.  This was expected.  What I didn’t expect was the 20+ mile per hour wind gust.  Had Dee Dee not been sleeping next to me, I would have groaned audibly.  Instead, I kept it to myself.  As quietly as I could, I gathered my things and went downstairs.  The cold, silence of the downstairs was broken by eight pairs of paws as the dogs bounded across the hardwood floor.  The little one, my princess, stands up on the door and arches her back.

Do you mind, she says?  I have to pee.

The smell of food is no longer enough to roust my kids from their slumber.  I enjoy a solitary breakfast of waffles and sausage.  With the basics out of the way, I turn my attention to replacing the screen casing on my son’s laptop.  Of its own accord, the screen casing had cracked and the hinge broke.  This seems to be a common theme with Dell laptops.  Through the power of eBay, I procured a new casing at one half to one third the cost a professional repair would have been.

When you look at one of these laptops, one wonders how exactly they come apart.  On Jimmy’s Dell, it all started with a little screw underneath the battery.  Once that is removed, you pop the top plate off over the keyboard and a wonderful world of wires, screws, and connectors begins to appear.  In order to unhook the display, the keyboard has to be removed, and one of the screws was stripped.  We had purchased a special tool for that, but it failed ignominiously.  In desperation, I grab the screw head with a pair of pliers, and got quite a shock when it actually turned!  With the keyboard off, I disconnected the display.  The antennae wires for the wireless card disappeared beneath the motherboard through two separate holes.  I should have disconnected those first.  Not perturbed, I removed the bottom panel to find that one set of the wires wasn’t even being used, and only two of the four connectors on the other wire were being used.

After that, things moved quickly.  I removed the video connector and the integrated webcam and popped out the display panel.  I installed the case, screwed back into the display, and then it was time to put the wires back into their proper places.  I had an “uh oh” moment, but eventually, every wire was restored, and the casing was snapped back in place.  It was good as new.  Jimmy gave the repair job a two thumbs up, and in his words, the new black cover was “sick”.

Dee Dee woke from her beauty sleep around 2-ish PM.  Working the night shift is rough, especially when trying to get much needed rest with a house full of people.  We are in the process of replacing our dishwasher, and Dee Dee wanted me to go with her to look at some discount models.

Go out for your run now, so you can with me to the store, she said.


Of course, I couldn’t say that out loud.  Instead, I dutifully suited up.  Let’s see.  Forty degrees.  Twenty mile per hour winds.  Thermal long sleeves.  Tights.  Hat.  Gloves.  Off we go.  I drove the fifteen minutes up Bell’s Ferry Road into Canton and made my way to Boling Park.  I parked above the Little League baseball field next to the track.  A cold brisk wind slapped me in the face as I got out of the car.  At least the sun was shining.

From my starting point where I entered the track, I began my mile warm up.  On one side of the track, the wind blew directly in my face.  On the other, it was like it wasn’t even there at all.  On the last two laps, I did a few pick ups to get my legs ready for the effort ahead.

Up to this point, I had been intentionally ignoring what was about to happen.  As I walked a half a lap to the starting line, I decided to continue with this theme as long as possible.  When I hit the starting line, I pressed start on the Garmin and took off.

As usual, I started off too fast.  By the end of the first lap, I was huffing and puffing.  I wanted to hold something back, but I also wanted to get uncomfortable.  There was a very real fear that I would settle into a pace that was “too comfortable” and totally blow my test.  Shortly after lap two, the negotiations started.  It takes some real mental toughness to run twelve and a half laps around the track.

Lap after lap, I huffed and puffed, staying true to my ideal of totally ignoring the Garmin.  I peaked one time around lap 6 to check my cadence and was rewarded with a “92”, well above my goal of 90 steps per minute.  As I wound down the final mile, I consciously reminded myself to keep my pace up and not drift into comfortable.  I even kicked it in for the last two hundred meters.  I hit the stop button on the Garmin as I crossed the finish line.  The Garmin said, “24:23”.  That’s over a minute faster than my 5K PR.  I smiled.

I walked around the track one time before breaking into a slow jog.  I ran a mile to cool down before heading back to the car.  A text message was waiting for me on my cell phone from Dee Dee.  Our handy man had found us a dishwasher at a good price.

This was turning into an absolutely fabulous day…

Friday, January 07, 2011

House of Pain

not much happening in my world these days.  work.  run.  family.  rinse and repeat.

I decided to make this week a recovery week, which actually fits nicely into my three week cycle.  I’ve been pretty focused on 4 miles.  4 MILES.  every day :-)  Except for today.  Today, I am going to run 3 miles easy, in anticipation of my 5K time trial tomorrow.

You see, I’ve been doing my easy runs on flat at a 9:30 pace.  I’ve been doing my tempo runs on hills, at a 9:30 pace, and my heart rate never climbs out of zone 2.  This tells me that my fitness has improved, and I, in truth, have no idea where that fitness is.

That is why, tomorrow, in the sub-40 degree weather, I will be heading to the track to run a 5K.  My goals will be as follows:

  • Ignore the watch (don’t look)
  • Ignore the heart rate (don’t look, no cheating)
  • hold a little sumfin sumfin back

The idea here is to set a benchmark, but at a level that I can continue to race against for the rest of the year.  I don’t want to entirely sandbag.  That would be a waste of time, but it should be challenging enough to make me work harder to beat it for the rest of the year.

Can I set an unofficial 5K PR?  My fitness tells me that I can, but actions speak louder than words…

Have a great weekend, y’all!


Monday, January 03, 2011


First off, Happy New Year!  I’m sure I’ve splatted this on countless Facebook statuses and blogs, but here it is again, for the last time.  I hope that 2011 exceeds your expectations, and I will be stalking you to find out :-)

I kept pretty busy over the holidays.  I shifted from offseason triathlon mode to base building runner mode.  I am still reading my book,  Run:  The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel, and I have to say that it is one of my favorite endurance books to date.  It got better since I last mentioned it, only to settle down into some dry and tediousness towards the end.  I’m hoping to finish it and give it a full review soon.

During Ironman training, I ran 4-5 times a week, depending on how much reffing I had on my plate.  The schedule looked like this:

Tuesday Transition Run
Wednesday Tempo
Thursday Long
Saturday Transition Run
Sunday Transaction Run

Kind of on a whim, by feel should I say, I decided to give the “basic week” as laid out in the book a go.  Where have we heard the term “basic week” before, eh?  :-)  The basic running week looks like this:

Monday Off
Tuesday Speed Work
Wednesday Medium Recovery
Thursday Medium
Friday Tempo
Saturday Short Recovery
Sunday Long

I was rather pleased with myself when I hit 24 miles for the week before my long run on Sunday.  Oh, I was concerned.  I wanted to do 10 miles on Sunday, but that is roughly my highest mileage week EVER.  Both of my previous long runs had been eight miles, but my highest mileage week had been 15 or so.  Jumping to 34 could be dangerous.  I decided to listen to my body and give myself permission to turn around if I started hurting too much.  With the exception of my feet and ankles being slightly sore, the long run went splendidly.  It was around 50 degrees with a breeze, but the sun was shining, making it all the more bearable.  I finished the 10 mile run in an hour and forty-one minutes, for a ten minute seven second average.  Perfect!

So as not to push it, I’m going to take it easy this week and cut back to 60% of last week’s mileage, but I’m going to cap it off with a 5K time trial.  I need to set my training paces, and I also want to see where my run fitness is at.

As usual, after being off for a while, my body was just not ready to go back to work today.  I slept like crap last night, and today, I feel like I haven’t gotten any rest at all over the holidays!  Ugh!  Hopefully, tonight I will fare better.

Here’s to a great year, y’all!