One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

I really began running last March, and my first run was the Broad Street Run. This is a great race. The course goes straight through Philadelphia for 10 miles and is downhill the whole way. It is not a steep downhill but it is downhill. I feel like I have come full circle in a way. This weekend the Broad Street Run is here again and this will be the first time I have run a race a second time. It is exciting.

This was my first race ever. I think for that reason it holds some special meaning for me. The excitement and atmosphere was electric. There are thousands of folks with bands and well wishers. It was amazing. I think my real love of running was born on this course.

I am really looking forward to breaking my record from last year. This should not be a major feat as last year my pace was 14:26. I would like to blame it on the sprained ankle I had at the time. But the truth is that I was very fat and very out of shape. This was my start and since then I have dropped about 70 pounds and I generally run about 3 and1/2 to 4 minutes faster per mile. More than the marathon, this one means something to me.

I have learned a lot since last May. I am hoping to have a great time and hope to run a good race. This is great.

Here is my Last year's Broad Street Run race report.

Injury news:
-- After the stretching from my martial arts class last night, my hip feels about 25% better today than yesterday. I think my odds of running the marathon are now about 85%, if this keeps up I see no trouble. I will hold off on any running until Thursday to foster healing but I will continue to stretch and cross train. I have to hit a couple of times a week or I don't feel right. I am a strange man.

Monday, April 28, 2008

20 Miles .... is far

This will be a short post, mostly due to my own uncertainty about things. I did my 20 miles on Sunday as planned at an 11:15 pace for the entire run. I am happy about that. After the run was over my hip was barking again, even after doing the whole thing on trails. It was much worse this week than it was previously. I am a bit concerned over my ability to deal with this injury over 26.2 miles. It is concerning me. I will do my taper and see what I think in three weeks. However, there is a chance that I will not run the Marathon on the 18th of May due to injury, not sure. If I had to lay odds I would say there is a 75% chance of running and 25% against. I will let you know as time goes on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Injury Progress

I know that everyone was worried about how my hip might do on an actual run after the massage I had on Tuesday. Well I was told to not do too much activity for the next couple of days post massage, so I didn't (well I went to martial arts class on Wednesday night ... but I did try to take it easy). On Thursday night I went out for a 4 miler on some trails near my home. The plan ... Do four miles. I did not have a speed in mind and just wanted to get the mil age going in the right direction.

Mile 1: Just tried to work into a flow. I could still feel the hip but it was just a ever so tiny little voice (I would guess it is about 90 to 95% recovered. First mile 10:38

Mile 2: I was trying to just keep the pace of mile 1, I didn't want to push just to maintain the pace. I started to go a bit faster and the tiny voice turned into a little voice. There does seem to be a speed component to this injury. Second mile 10:29

Mile 3: Mile three has some ups to it. It is no massive thing but you have to do some climbing and I am not the best at this yet. I am much better than I was though. Third Mile 10:40

Mile 4: I was just trying to maintain my pace and not push too hard on this one. Fourth Mile 10:38

I ended up at an average pace of 10:38 over 4.10 miles. It was good and the hip was fine, I am sure everyone was worried, but I am fine. I do believe that this is a manageable injury. I just have to be smart about it. The rest of the week holds 4 miles tonight and 20 miles on Sunday. Yes, I know 20 miles but that is really it. Starting on Monday, the beloved taper.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Take it and Run: 13 Words or Less

Tom and Amy at Runner's Lounge have asked for our best running advice in 13 words or less. Well the good news is that no one will get eye strain reading it all.

Success in running is all about getting out the door
I have been running now for more than a year. In that time I have not taken time off but for injuries and I believe that the way that I did it was that early on I made it a point to just get out there. It did not matter how far I went or how long. It just mattered that I showed up. I started walking a few minutes and running a few minutes. I entered a race just so that I would be responsible to myself for my actions regarding running. Slowly but surely I built up my endurance, and slowly speed. It all started with showing up. Early on showing up is the hardest thing to do but if you can get the showing up part down the rest is gravy.

A massage story

I mentioned that I had scheduled a massage to try to work the kinks out my lower back and hip from overuse due to this crazy marathon schedule. I will say that it was affecting my spirits a bit. I was a little down, no, no, its o.k., now. So I went for my massage on Tuesday after work. I will start by saying that I am not much of a comfort person. I have a deep seeded belief that too much comfort is a bad thing. So, for me to go for something like a massage is a remarkable thing in its own right. I did go, so maybe I am overcoming some of my innate stubbornness, unlikely.

The masseuse was a good and did a top to bottom sports massage. I had a few muscle spasms in the small of my back and buttocks during the massage. I took this as a sign that things were being worked out. Nothing good ever came without a little pain along the way. I think all told the whole thing lasted about 50 minutes. I hear some people, mostly at my office, talking about how awesome a massage is. I suppose it is fine and as long as it is useful for you who am I to argue. I can't see myself as a regular. I was a bit looser after than before and I think within 2 hours my hip and lower back were 50% better than when I went in. That is what I wanted. Yesterday, I think that total was up to 65% and today I would put that at 85%. My hip is still a small bit of trouble; however, it is 10 to 20% of the problem that it was. I will call that a success and I thank the fine woman who helped me out with that. I can see myself doing it again for this type of injury but as I said I am not the type of person who would be doing this on a regular basis.

To minimize the chance of injury going into the home stretch, I have decided to switch to trails. There are some gentle trails close to my home with little challenge in terms of rocks. This will give my hip and lower back a chance to recover more fully before the marathon in Mid-May. I have my 20 mile run this weekend and this will also be done on trails. The time will be slower but I will be recovered for the marathon and that is the point. Start the race healthy and leave it on the course, no regrets no what ifs. I read in one of the runners magazines from one of the top runners, better to be under trained and healthy than over trained and injured. I will keep this in mind over the next month.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Speed comes to those that wait

I still remember last year when I was trotting along at 14:00 miles. I knew I wasn't going fast but it was hard work at 280+ pounds to get my freight train of a body going at any kind of speed. I guess that is why we don't see many bulldozer races. These days I am flirting with a kind of respectable speed.

I did not post a week in review over the weekend. But I will do an abbreviated version, NOW:

Thursday: 3.65 miles, 10:09 pace
Friday: 4.10 miles, 10:25 pace
Saturday: 3.65 miles, 10:19 pace
Monday: 7.00 miles, 10:34 pace

I can see over the last month that I have gotten steadily faster. My miles over 11:00 are the rare occurrence on these shorter runs, this is a nice feeling. On my quicker days I seem to get a mile or two below the 10:00 mark. It is strange to see single digits on my Garmin at the mile mark. I am not going so fast as sometimes I try the talking drill to see if I am going too fast. I will sing a little to check how hard I am working. If I can belt out a few bars I know I am not pushing too much. I make sure I am alone before I do this. I have respect for my fellow man and wouldn't want to expose anyone to my dreadful renditions of what could loosely be classified as music. So I am not pushing too hard and I have been slowed down a bit due to the stiffness I have been experiencing in my left hip. I hope it can be worked out today during the massage.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Will Ferrell Rocks

I thought I noticed that Will Ferrell was supposed to run the Boston Marathon today. I could not find his time, I could have been wrong on that. I am not sure what happened, but I did find something on when he ran in 2003. I think Will is funny and I love most of his movies, although 'Blades of Glory' was a bit unfortunate. However, I did not know he was a runner. This changes him in my eyes a bit. The performance I did find, 3 hours, 56 minutes and 12 seconds, was a great time for Boston.

When I saw that his name was listed for Boston, I thought, "well another celebrity got a pass." Not true. A 9 minute pace over 26.2 is legitimate for his 2003 run. Good for him, here is to you Will Ferrell, way to go. I think I am more Katie Holmes in NY Marathon speed (5 hours 29 minutes 58 seconds). I think I might beat her we will see.

In other celebrity running news, Lance Armstrong finished at 2:50:58 or a 6:32 pace. Lance is awesome. I can only marvel at what he can do.

Listening to your body

I have been having a bit of pain in my hip and lower back as of late. I know it is just over use. I did something this week that most people will cringe at. To be truthful, I don't care. You have to know your own body and what is best to do for yourself at times this will fly in the face of conventional logic. So I took my long run off this week. I was scheduled for a 12 mile run on a down cycle week. In short, I was hurt and I need to recover. My back and hip were becoming issues in everyday life and not just when I ran. I could have run through it but I knew I needed the rest. So I took the time off, it was necessary. So now this weekend when I have 20 miles staring me in the face I won't be as concerned.

I feel better today. I did not have any wincing moments and even though the hip is stiff it is a workable situation. Most people might have said to just take the 12 slower than usual. You know, I don't think I could have done that. When I warmed up and started to feel fine on the run, I would have sped up. The best remedy for me was rest.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Help I am overused

My back and hip have been giving me some problems this week. I did some reading and found that this is most likely an overuse issue. I don't like to go to the doctor unless I am convinced there is no other way around it (co-pays are just outrageous I have to look into another plan). From what I was reading it suggested that a massage might help. I thought, now that sounds like the type of remedy I can go for. So I made an appointment close to work for next Tuesday afternoon. I will let you all know how it went.

I am looking forward to it. Smiles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What is with all this deadline stuff?

This week has been a tough one work wise. I work for good people but they have their demands as well. I usually can get things done on 9 to 10 hours a day, usually. I had a last minute thing to get done for Wednesday which meant that I spent my normal 10 on Monday followed with 14 on Tuesday and another 10 on Wednesday. All work and no play makes Rob a dull boy, but what can you do, work is demanding sometimes. So, I was not able to run until this morning for the week. The good news is that I did it in new shoes and this is a cut back week.

Quick funny: When I went into the store, Philadelphia Runner, I love that place. I told the guy that I had burned out my shoes and I had a marathon coming up. He said: "Boston?" I said, "Not really" and laughed a lot. Boston, what a funny man.

There is nothing more exciting than new shoes. My Brooks Adrenaline GTS7's were burned out. I knew that during the 18 mile jaunt last weekend. I needed to step up to the plate this week and replace them. It was sad we had been though so much together. It was like moving away from a friend. But what can you do, my little buddies were broken down and out friendship was hurting me, literally. So I bought some new friends, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8. These shoes look fast and that makes all the difference. The silver trim makes the difference. I am sad about my old shoes being gone but the new ones are outstanding. I can feel the difference.

This morning: 3.65 miles, 10:09 pace, 37 minutes 3 seconds -- see the shoes are fast.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Lisa at I'm a Runner? has tagged me with writing a 6 word memoir. I looked at the website and it is pretty interesting and it did get my creative side flowing. Here were the rules posed to me:

(1) Write your own six word memoir.
(2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
(3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogs-universe.
(4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.
(5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

I am fine with playing along; however, I won't be tagging anyone else. If anyone wants to play along feel free.

Here are few of mine:

Always fighting, not always the winner
I don't fear death, I live
Determination never takes any days off
Church never explained life, Army did
3 Continents, 13 Countries, 44 States
Well this was fun, Thanks Lisa.

Just an Update (of sorts)

This weekend was a pretty tough one, I went out for a quick 8 miles on Saturday and this was a miserable tough run in the humidity. I remember the full force suck that is running in humidity. Terrible. I managed to pull out an 11:10 pace but it was a Herculean effort to get that out. Sunday, I did my long run. I ran for 3 hours and 23 minutes and ended up with 18.25 miles at an 11:09 pace. This does put the full effect of the suck that was my Saturday run in context.

On Sunday I ran more than 10 miles more and ended up with a faster time. Anyway, the long run taught me a few things (besides that I am a bit off balance for considering this distance) first miles 15 to 17 seem to be a bit of a lul period. Nothing serious but I have been worried as my pace drops by 30 seconds or so during this stretch. I was concerned that this would keep dropping and keep dropping. I have found that I found a second (third or maybe forth) burst of energy at mile 17 and I was able to run about 11:00 pace from 17 to 18.25. This is only a mile and quarter but it is a good sign that there are a few more energy reserves. Well this week is a scale back week and then next week is my 20 mile run. That sounds far.

Bad news from the run, I blew out my shoes. Well I probably did it before but after the run I felt my hips, back and ankles. I need some new shoes there is no doubt. I am at about 300 miles on this set so I should go get some new ones this week. Today my hips are stiff but this appears to be a minor thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Take it and Run: The Training Plan

Is it Thursday again? The good people at Runners Lounge have their take it and run Thursday and this week's topic is running plans. I have a few points I have picked up on the subject that be useful only to myself but here it goes:

1. A Running Plan is not a statute, law or hard set of rules. It took me a while to turn down the anal on this point. If my plan said run 3 on Monday, 5 on Wednesday and 3 on Thursday, that is what I did no more no less. I am much more loose on the plans these days. If the plan calls for 7 on Wednesday and 4 on Friday, I have no problem switching the days if I have some other schedule issues to contend with. Also, I don't beat myself up if I run 3.5 on a day that calls for 4. This is an exercise program not the building of the space shuttle. So I look at it like a guideline rather than a set of rules. As long as I make steady progress toward the end result I am fine with it.

2. Build flexibility into the program, for myself this is a must. I always add one to two extra weeks into the program. I do this because I have a life with demands, much like anyone else. I may intend to get it all done but sometimes I just can't. So I put in a couple of extra weeks in case I spin my wheels for a week or two along the way. This reduces the stress of I have to do 18 this week. If I don't make it I can try again next week with no penalty in the overall training.

3. Write in pencil. I have found that I don't know as much as I like to think I know. When I write the plan out I think this is what I need to do to get to the end. Yet, I reflect on the way. I am currently training for a marathon and have two long runs left on the program. I had set this up in terms of miles but I will be changing to time based for the last two. I believe it will take me 5 hours to do a marathon. So I think for the last two runs I will run for 3.5 hours and 4 hours. I came to this decision because I didn't want to lock myself in 100% to my training plan. I want the flexibility to change my mind, so for me training plans need to be adjustable.

Those are my three points for training plans. I suppose I am just saying take it easy and take it all with a grain of salt. Use the training plan to get where you are going but don't be afraid to change it. It is a sign of my insanity that I have rules about not having rules.

Ate Something

Well the title is a bit misleading. I did some intervals today a half mile of speed with a half mile recovery over 3.65 miles.

The Up portions were: 8:55 pace, 9:22 pace, 9:02 pace and 9:35 pace (for the last .15). The down portions were also encouraging at 11:34, 11:22, 11:21 and 10:53. I think this a nice result. I was quite happy with the 8:55 pace for the first speedy half mile.

In other news, I have been going to my martial arts classes but I have been in a funk. I have been a bit more tentative than I usually am. I believe this all started a number of weeks back when I caught a training partner with an elbow under the chin. That was the intended target I just didn't intent to strike the man. I like to pride myself on control and when I hit someone I like to mean it. So I think when I hit someone without the intention of doing so, it bothered me. Rationally, I know things happen; however, it did get to me anyway and made my training less enjoyable. I think that I can try to overcome this mental block a bit now that I know what it is. More mind games, it is unfortunate that my own subconscious was plotting against me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Speedy Morning

I am getting faster:

3.1 miles, 31:32 time, 10:09 pace
I thought it might take me until the end of the year to get down to a sub 10:15 pace. I actually recorded a 9:47 mile on mile 3. Well here is to speed and knowing that it is out there for all of us.
"As you think, so you shall become" -- Bruce Lee
I used to think I was slow, I don't think that anymore.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cherry Blossoms and Row Boats

Today I went on my long (read really long) run. I decided to shake things up a bit and run down at Kelly Drive. This, as I have said before, is the nicest part of Philadelphia. The shores of the river are lined with cherry blossom trees, statutes, and other manicured areas. It really is an excellent place to run. The whole thing forms an 8.4 mile loop. I did two loops today plus a little extra for 17 miles.

The trees were all in bloom adding splashes of white and pink for my run. It reminded of my time living (and visiting) in Tokyo. It really did make the miles melt away as I did them. Added to this was the fact that there are lots and lots of runners out there doing the same thing. This is a nice change from my normal routes where I usually see only one or two folks running. I do like to share the road with like minded people.

The other interesting thing today was that there was a regatta on the river. Rowing is an interesting sport. It was a nice distraction to watch the boats race by as I was running along. It really was a nice three hours.

The numbers: I started strong doing the first 10 miles between 10:20 and 11:00 pace. The first 6 were around a 10:30 pace. The next few miles were at a little below 11:00 pace. Then the trouble started. Miles 15 - 17 were not anything to write home about. I hit a mini wall and could only manage about 11:45 per mile for this distance. In the larger scope of things this is quite good. I remember running down these last few miles during the Philly Distance Run (miles 10 to 13) feeling spent and putting 12:30 to 13:30 minute miles together. I think this is quite a good improvement in 6 months. I do think I could have kept up the 11:45 for another 4 to 6 miles if necessary. When the marathon comes up I will have to start out slower. The end result was 17 miles at a 10:58 pace (half marathon pace was 10:46 - a pr).

This is one of my favorite parts of Philadelphia.

Week in Review

4/2/08 ..... 38:31 time ..... 3.65 miles ..... 10:33 pace

4/3/08 ..... 39:07 time ..... 3.65 miles ..... 10:43 pace

4/4/08 ..... 1:19:00 time ..... 7.50 miles ..... 10:32 pace

4/6/08 ..... 3:06:39 time ..... 17.00 miles ..... 10:58 pace

This was a good week. I will give a more detailed summary on the long run later on. That said I will note that at the half marathon mark today, I was at a 10:46 pace. Which is my best to date.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Philadelphia, Where are we going?

There has been a rash of violence in Center City Philadelphia, for those not familiar with the city that is downtown. The elevated train to Center City has seen three attacks in the past ten days. It is a concern. Two of the incidents involved groups of teens attacking single persons and the final was three men attacking a lone man. The first two happened at about 3:00 and 8:00 pm where the last was late at night. I understand the reality of living in a large urban area there is crime. Yet, there hadn't been daylight attacks on public transportation in my recent memory. I am sure that this will lead to an increased police presence in Center City. A perception of city hall being a dangerous place is simply not good for business. If visitors are afraid to visit the city it will affect the city revenues and they will do what is necessary to prevent any ill effects.

I think what gives me pause is not that there is violence on the train system. I mean things can happen any place and any time. I think what I am concerned about is the first two attacks. In both cases the attackers were groups of teens attacking adults in a random fashion. There is some fundamental disconnect that I just don't understand. Today life is different than it was when I was a teen, of this I am sure. That said, I can't imagine a set of circumstances under which the series of options in my head as a high school student would lead to "attack random person". I just can't get there. Maybe these kids don't think about the consequences. The first attack is a homicide so that is a murder charge the second is robbery and aggravated assault. From my time with a local district attorney's office, I can say that these are not the type of charges that the Commonwealth takes lightly. These young people are looking at multiple years behind bars for these random acts of violence, to get some sort of thrill (I guess that is the reason).

I certainly don't know the situation of the kids parents in this case. I am left wondering what is going on, especially in second attack. It happened at 8 pm. These teens were out at 8pm on a Wednesday night attacking a woman on her way home, this was 6 boys and 6 girls. Shouldn't these kids been doing other things on a school night? This confuses me. I do understand poverty, I grew up with the kind of poverty that makes most people uncomfortable. I also think that condoning violence as an outlet to poverty is the wrong reaction to the issue. So what do we do. More cops and more jails? I certainly wish that was not the answer.

I believe that we do need more police. In this city it has been shown that this does work. However, this does not treat the real problem. The youth of our city, maybe our nation - I don't know, have less of a problem with committing acts of violence than is comfortable. It's bad. Our city seems to be losing some of its humanity. It is sad.

We sit back and look at the violence in places like Kenya, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and we think how sad. How could such things happen? There must be something different about those places: there isn't and we are not that far off.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Coming Seasons of 2008

I am a what is next sort of person. So when I fell ill on Monday, I did some thinking. What is next after the Marathon in May? When the year started I thought I would break the year into seasons. Winter was the season of building the base. I spent my time logging the miles to build a base to get ready for the spring. Spring has been the season of the marathon. With the very nice Philadelphia weather it has been a very nice time to run. What is next? Summer. With the amount of time necessary to train for a marathon I need to make it up this Summer. Running is a wholely selfish act. There really is no doubt or arguing the point. (I will say that you need to be selfish some times in life. If you are not healthy you cannot do for others so in this circumstance selfish is necessary). That said with this marathon kick I have been a bit more selfish than usual. So for the Summer, I will try to take the family a few places and restrict my running to speed work and maintaining some distance work (maybe about 10 miles on the weekend) I will try to fit in a couple of 5k's.

Then comes the fall. I have a half marathon scheduled for Baltimore in October. I think I will add another half marathon in November. However, the amount of time needed for a full marathon is a bit too demanding to do it twice in one year. So there is my year to come. So, Winter was to build a base, Spring for the Marathon, Summer will be for speed and Fall will be for the half marathon.

I am looking forward to the marathon. That said I will said that the training is hard and very time consuming. Phew.

Tonight's run was a tempo - 7.5 miles with 3 miles at 10:05 to 10:10. The remainder was at about 10:45. It was a good run.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Marathon Training

I have been training for my first marathon for a couple of months now and I thought I would take some time to say how it has been going. During that time my long runs have gone from 11 miles to 16 this last weekend. I have learned a lot from these runs in particular and in the training as a whole, here are my observations.

  1. Your body gets used to running certain distances and when you venture beyond your comfort zone there is a period of adjustment. My comfort zone was up to 14 miles. When I went beyond this my body really barked at me. After finishing 13 I am just fine; however, when I finished 15 I felt like my ankles were going to burst into flame and the fatigue was overwhelming. Last week I did 16 and the last mile was a bit of a torture. I will say that I did a lot more hills than usual so this probably had an impact on my post run feeling.
  2. Your body adjusts much quicker than you would think to the new stress you put on it. I did struggle with some of the longer runs, the first time. I found that after I ran a distance once I was able to have a much better run at the distance the next time I ran it. Moreover, my feeling at the end of a distance that the week before would leave me exhausted, I felt pretty fresh. Not like a creepy guy on a subway, but as in not so tired.
  3. Your ability to recover from long runs gets shorter the more that you do them. I remember doing a 15K a year ago that took me the better part of a week to get over. On Saturday, I ran 16 miles. I felt fine to run on Monday but for a bit of a head cold and fever.
  4. Speed comes with practice (and weight loss). I remember when I started running about a year ago doing 14 and 15 minute miles. I was flat out slow. I was sometimes passed by people walking. I have worked at it (and lost 70 pounds along the way). So now I am averaging about 10:30 to 10:45 pace. I am also doing some interval training and will add some track work this summer. It was hard work pushing the pace down. Your body gets into a comfort zone and it doesn't really want to break that. So you have to mix it up to get beyond this comfort zone. I think part of training is doing things that are a little uncomfortable.
  5. Respect your rest days. I have learned that you can't rush the training. If you miss a day and it can happen, everyone's life has demands some unexpected, you often times can't make it up. Trying to push 4 running days into 4 consecutive days is asking for trouble. Your body needs time to recover. I have found that my spirit and willpower exceed my physical ability. I can push myself to complete the distance and put all the runs in but the price I pay is too steep. It increases the chance of injury and the fatigue it generates lasts more than a day. In addition, the later runs will not be at top ability because the recovery from the previous run is incomplete.
  6. Sleep matters. I am a busy man and often work long hours. My family demands are much like others. When I sleep 5 to 6 hours a night, my running is not as crisp as when I sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. (Less sleep also leads to weight gain). I find that getting a good night's sleep is vital to my performance. Plus, I am more likely to get out there if I am well rested, otherwise the call of the pillow is too strong to resist.
  7. Running is complicated. I used to think what could be easier, just put one foot in front of the other and try to do it quickly. I am learning that the more I know the more I realize how little I know about this sport. Running is a simple natural act but it requires a good deal of concentration and dedication to learn how to run well. That is what I strive for not to be a someone who runs but someone who runs well. I am learning, everyday.