Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lower 50's, overcast, slight breeze... absolutely perfect running weather for me. 17.5 miles all right on my chosen pace for the day. The last mile or two was definitely more work than the first couple, but a shot block and a few swigs of water every 3 miles or so as I made each lap of the neighborhood and I was good all morning. Running up and down the stairs to get the house ready for a party tonight is not exactly fun now, but not impossible. Next weekend is a cutback to just 12 miles but after that I'll start my prerace ritual of a bagel before setting out for long runs and try the flavor of Gatorade they'll provide on the race course. Sometime soon I also need to try a long run that incorporates some of the uphill segments from the marathon. I just don't have a route in the neighborhood that has that much sustained climbing (some of my streets are steeper than the race course, but they're only for 1/2 mile at a time or so, and hill repeats are not the same thing as going uphill for an hour.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today I am NOT a runner...

... and I'm kinda OK with that. Because last night I was too busy just being a dad to sleep. Our son has been fighting some allergies for a few days and the drainage was enough last night that he got sick to his stomach.
Three times
At 2AM
In the upstairs hallway
On the carpet
Right outside the bathroom

This is a very frustrating thing for me, because, also suffering from allergies, I hadn't been sleeping too well before that, and I had plans to wake up early to run. Running on 6 hours of sleep in the pre-dawn darkness when it's cold is not always kind to me, so I really wanted to get those 6 hours of sleep, but I didn't. I had about 3 hours in when I heard a door open upstairs. It's not entirely out of the ordinary for this to happen, because (thank God!) my son is fully capable of waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, wash his hands, and go back to bed all without a fuss. (Why he can't do this as quickly when we're in a hurry to leave for school in the morning is one of those great mysteries of the universe.) I also heard him coughing, which isn't that weird since we've all been coughing this week and waking up never seems to help.
So I simply turned over and tried to find a way to lie down that didn't hurt (I mysteriously injured my back by waking up last week and it's been a lingering problem.) until I heard a curious noise... the sound of someone puking isn't something you hear alot (unless you're in college... or perhaps a grade school teacher) so it always takes me a few seconds to put it together... it's like coughing, but more wet.
My wife is a gifted sleeper. She can sleep through a great many things, and that's a good thing in this case since she's an accomplished puker as well. Just thinking about somebody else eating some bread that's a bit old might just be enough to give her dry heaves. Combining these two superpowers, legend has it that she once puked in the middle of the night and turned over to sleep on the clean side of the better, having never awoken! (Her other great superpower is the ability to tighten the lids on jars beyond her ability to reopen them, but that's not important right now :-) Her magical puking powers mean I'm the one to clean up any puke in the house, lest the puke be magnified by her puking when attempting to deal with it. So it should be evident that if I wanted to have a puke-free bed to sleep in, I needed to quiet down the action upstairs very quickly!
I hustled upstairs just in time to see that our son was pretty much done emptying his stomach onto the hallway, but I rushed him into the bathroom just in case there was any more in there.
I got him cleaned up and in fresh PJ's...gave him a few minutes of wavering on his feet to make sure he was done, and let him go back to bed.
I wondered for a moment at the joy that he'd managed to get out of his room before popping, and then fell into a moment of sorrow that he'd decided to wander into the hall instead of just staying the bathroom. Because the bathroom has a tile floor. The hall has cheap carpet that stains if you look at it funny. And there was a foot-wide swath of puke-colored puke spots spattered over it for several feet. And I was standing in one :-(

I reached around the bathroom doorway to grab some kleenex and got my feet clean enough to walk back downstairs and grab a stack of cleaning towels and the carpet cleaner spray.
I then spend at least half an hour converting the stack of clean towels to a stack of not-so-clean towels and generally being not too happy. Amazing how corn looks exactly the same after being chewed up and digested for half the night. At least our son has finally learned to chew his food... if I didn't know we had burgers for dinner I don't think I would have guessed that's what most of the other stuff was. Somewhere around 3 AM I finally hauled a bag of disgusting downstairs to the kitchen, where I could rinse the chunky disgusting out of the cleaning towels and into the garbage disposal. By 4 AM I had gotten things to a state where I would not want to blow chunks myself when dealing with it later and stumbled back to bed.

Now if I were REALLY a runner, I'd have gotten up again at 5 and gotten my miles in. But today, I'm just a tired dad. And I'm OK with that.

(A sure sign of the coming apocalypse (or at least being really busy) another back-dated blog post, sorry)

Since the great puke incident of November, things have been well. I've logged all my planned miles and am on my second pair of running shoes for the year, with a third planned before the marathon. I have bought running gloves and a running hat and survived sleet, wind, and cold. I have "eaten" Gu on the run and been on runs so long I had to visit some discreet bushes along the side of the road to get rid of the water I would have sweated out in the summer.
This weekend: my first 17-mile run! This will be my first 40-mile week!
Next weekend: a "rest", cutting back to just a 12-mile Saturday run.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wind is not my friend

Saturday was my longest run ever: 13 miles. It was also my first run with my shiny new cheap $20 windbreaker from Target (well worth the price!). In open areas the wind was gusting 12 to 20 MPH according to intellicast... early on it was just a giant wakeup call that left me feeling cold so I ran a bit fast to stay warm... bad idea. On my third lap of the neighborhood I was definitely feeling the extra effort. I don't keep a real close eye on pace in long runs but even a glance at the minute hand was enough to tell me I was fading and on the final uphill I had lost at least a couple minutes but after a couple hours I was no longer sure what time I had started or even what the previous split had been. The route I had chosen takes me up a road of increasing steepness, ending at a corner that I then realized turned directly into the wind. I made it to the top in a full run but hitting the wind just dropped me to a walk immediately. The extra effort, wind, and Friday's marathon pace run all combined with no breakfast and no calories added up to walking for a few minutes. Even downhill the headwind kept me dropping to a walk on the last mile at times.
Maybe this weekend I'll try out that sports Gu I've had sitting in the pantry for a couple months, since I suspect it will be just as windy.
Hopefully I'll improve over the next few months, but if it's windy on race day right now I'll be glad to finish at any pace!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What a difference a day makes...

I've finally settled on my last training plan. Honest... only 2 weeks into it, even!

It's basically Higdon's Intermediate II plan with minor adjustments to accommodate life.
Saturday was the first time I did a long run the day after doing a faster run (the orange boxes are days the plan calls for marathon-pace runs, with everything else at an easy pace a good minute or more slower than marathon pace). 5 miles in I could tell it's certainly different from doing a long run after a rest day. I was totally comfortable with the effort, but my legs definitely felt the difference. Being a few degrees colder and a little windy but without thicker clothes probably made a difference too, but I wasn't really feeling that after a couple miles. The biggest difference was running down slopes, but that could have been cold legs as well. I had been thinking of pushing to 10 miles instead of the 8 in the plan to make up for lost time due to my lack of deciding on the plan until over a week into it, but that thought ended at mile 6 after climbing the steepest hill in the neighborhood.

Sunday was a rest day and Monday was supposed to be an easy 3 miles but I went a bit too fast trying to stay warm. Tuesday I went too fast the whole 6 miles trying to stay warm. Today I finally got it (or got tired of aching legs) and almost held back to the easy pace.

These short mile days really mess with me. I spend half the run just warming up and alot of time aching. Running slow just feels like pounding the pavement instead of enjoying a natural stride. Hopefully a day off and a faster run Friday will put me in the right mood for my longest run yet: 13 miles on Saturday to cap off my highest-mileage week yet!

Still checking the Austin Marathon website 3X a day hoping they'll publish the final route :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

When is an easy 5 miles not easy?

When you spent most of yesterday out in the sun moving tables and doing other work at the neighborhood Halloween party and then stayed up late trick-or-treating. Definitely didn't want to roll out of bed this muggy morning but after a mile or so I was glad I did. I was glad to wake up anyway since I was having a weird dream where Harry Potter goes to prison. Hey, I said it was weird!

In better news, I tried something new Saturday morning. I got up at 6 and got in about 5 miles on the road waiting for the sun to come up and then got to hit the trails for the first time in months. A bit slow going at first since it was still pretty dark but got to pick up the pace on the way back. I do need to look into some actual cold weather gear real soon now, though!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Livestrong 5K Race Report

I'll call my first-ever race a success, even though I was a bit disappointed with a few things.
Finished in 29:37 or so by the timer in my phone. I hadn't intended to run with my phone (or car keys, or extra safety pins) but the bag check I expected wasn't there. Luckily I did have my phone since there was no race clock and I don't have a working watch other than my big heavy Tag that I didn't want to run with.
I learned that when they don't have start corrals or other guidance, if you care about time, you get in line early, but the team I was running with were busy taking pictures and chatting and being the new guy I didn't want to press the issue.
Getting down to the race:
We crossed the start line about 8 minutes after the start, and had some trouble getting around the folks walking (and even pushing strollers!) until we got past the chute and could run on the other side of the road to pass people. Once I broke out I pretty much ran as fast as I could until we hit the first hill and I eased up to about what I thought was my target pace.
With no mile or km markers on course my only feedback was passing the water station, which I guessed was half distance and I did it about 30 seconds after half my target time. So I guessed I was running a bit behind but not being used to speed work anymore I was fighting a side stitch at that point and just went as fast as I could without making it worse.
Heading toward the finish, we were blessed with a bit of a down slope so I got my breath back and once I saw the tall buildings of downtown and came upon some thicker crowds I figured it was time to go back to full speed. I put my head down and more or less sprinted what I guess is the last half mile. I hoped to cross the line in a sprint but heading up the slope of the bridge where start/finish was and the narrowed course I had to back off a bit. The last 100 meters I felt like puking and decided to just go as hard as I could and hope not to yak on any brave cancer survivors!

The joy of finishing and relief of dropping to a walking pace was enough to bring it back together, and a light sprinkle from the clouds cooled everyone off nicely. Good thing since I was coming into the finish too fast to go through the misters or get a cool towel!

So, thanks to $480 in donations my goal time was 28 minutes (I did a gag where I'd take a second off the pace for every dollar donated, starting at a conservative 36 minutes :-) and I ended up missing it by 97 seconds.

A bit disappointing but I learned alot from the experience and have a good start to training for the marathon. If everything goes well, I should be able to beat 5 hours, and if I ever do another organized short race, I'll either pick one that takes timing more seriously or get there earlier (or at least not spend all my free time chatting!).

One of the highlights of the morning had to be seeing Fatty in person. It's not too often you get to yell "Hi Fatty" at someone and have them smile back!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Catching up

It's been a busy two months since I last posted! Lots of work has kept me from spending free time writing anything, so I'll catch you up...
Switching to running a little less often but for more distance worked and I lost 2 pounds in a few weeks. Now I'm up to running more than half the days and for more distance and maintaining or losing still. Of course the last couple weeks have been totally shot for running, missing a weekday run last week feeling sick and two this week with back pain, aside from missing last weekend's long run for a car race at Eagle's Canyon. I had been pretty confident I could run and drive in the same day, but a long day of Friday practice reminded me how much you get beat up driving a race car! I opted for more sleep.
On the bright side, my weekend long run was up to 10 miles for 23 miles per week total before those troubles. (No wonder I managed to lose some weight!)
Still playing around with different shoe inserts to correct my toe-out on the right foot and right hip pain. A trip to the Podiatrist yesterday confirmed my right leg is a bit longer than the left, and he gave me a different set of orthotics to try if the Superfeet don't get the job done. Hopefully I can avoid custom $600 ones!
Next up tomorrow: my first-ever race... the Livestrong Challenge 5K here in Austin!
And next week, I'm officially in training for the Austin Marathon. I registered nearly a month ago and this is supposed to be week 1 of the Higdon Novice II plan... I plan on 24 miles next week!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Morning Inversion

I'm now running more days in a week than I'm not running. I no longer think about having to wake up early to run, but instead think of it as getting to sleep in on days when I don't!

When I first started waking up early to run in the morning before work I would wake up before the alarm and see if was still too early and go back to sleep. I had a recurring dream where I was running effortlessly, the weather was beautiful, and the sunrise would never end... The sun would just never quite make it above the trees and the clouds would stay that perfect, irradiated orange/pink for hours. Of course, that was when the days were their longest and the sky would be getting light before I made it out of the house.

These days are a bit shorter, and the stars are still brightly visible when I step out of the front door to be greeted by mosquitoes in the humid darkness. After yesterday's rain I think I'll have to do lunges inside the house instead of the front porch for a while. The vampires waiting in the shadows aren't as scary as in the movies, but they're much more real and running with itchy legs is not fun. I think they're attracted to pale skin more than anything. I'm so pale that streetlights turn off when I run under them!

Still, the sun does rise and light the clouds up eventually before I make it back home, and it's the kind of long moment that runners really love (or at least I do, hopefully not everybody that runs in the morning is so focused on their activity or jaded not to notice nature's light show). I was almost all the way around my 3-mile neighborhood loop thinking that perhaps today's sunrise wouldn't be quite as nice as normal... the sky getting ever brighter and I was starting to think the family of little clouds overhead wouldn't manage anything interesting today.

Then I came around a curve and saw a fine picture...the kind that makes me wish I ran with our 6-pound DSLR to be able to capture. I decided to try my cameraphone anyway and stopped to fiddle with it, netting a blurry mess and the poor old thing crashed as it tried to save a second, superior photo to the memory card at the moment the music application was trying to load a new song. By the time I got the thing back to the land of the useful, the sun had burned off those little clouds, the favorite song I had been listening to had stopped, and the moment was gone.

So I suppose that's a lesson... when you realize you're living in a perfect moment, maybe you should just enjoy it for what it is. Or put another way... you just had to be there :-)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

San Antonio

Final backlogged post!
Last weekend we stayed down on the riverwalk and visited the missions, some parks, and did other random touristy things. (By the way, if you've got kids, did you know that if you join the safari club at Rainforest Cafe you can skip the hour wait on weekend nights!?) That meant that I got to do a 5 mile run in a new city! Before I left home I mapped out a route from the hotel, around Hemisphere Park, and out and back on streets with bike lanes. Given that I was running at dawn on a Saturday, this let me run on relatively soft asphalt most of the time, only jumping onto the concrete sidewalks when the rare car or truck came down the street.

I was a bit surprised to cross paths with 3 or 4 other runners that morning, and the locals all flashed the peace sign and a smile, which is a nice change from the half-hearted half-wave you get in my neighborhood from the dog walkers if they're not too busy texting to notice you going the other way. On the loop back to the hotel I saw a huge dude in blue and white coming back from a morning run going in the back entrance of the Hyatt. Then I came around the front of the building and saw a line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get footballs and posters autographed and remembered that the Dallas Cowboys training camp was in town at the same time... coincidence? I think not!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Also a backlog post from two weeks ago
One of my rituals after a morning run but before I've cooled off enough to shower without just instantly sweating again is to pour up cereal for my breakfast. This morning I realized that cereal boxes absolutely always have broken pieces... no matter how careful you are to not drop the box or squeeze it, there's always a ton of broken cereal in the bottom. I think they fill the bottom 1/3rd of the bag with leftover bits before they even but any whole pieces in. That's how they save money... they never have to throw away anything at the cereal factory, they just dump all the leftover bits in with the good ones.

Sometimes while running, once you've started to get burned out on the same music you've been running with for the last two months, you start to have deep, meaningful thoughts. Or at least other people say they do. I mostly think that I really should take the time to pick new music to listen to, but never do and instead just start skipping songs and end up burning out on even my favorites. So this morning I gave myself a topic to think about while running...

Things to say at the start of the marathon to make friends:
I figured there'd be more women to look at back here in the 5 hour corral.
I've never run a 26K before, have you?

Hmm... that's all of two things... I think I better think of more tomorrow...I hear you end up standing around for a good hour before the start, and with 18000 people around I bet somebody will have heard those before! This thinking while running thing just isn't working yet...

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Note: I haven't been posting much since I've been busy at work and wanted to get a chance to post something well thought-out. I have since decided that my mom and the other two people that read this would rather read something bad than nothing good, so here goes a new age of less-good posts, but more regular...

Thursday's run (actually a couple weeks back now that I'm finally getting around to posting this!) was supposed to be a nice, easy 3 miles before work, and it was indeed just over 3 miles in the middle 70's but the humidity was 97 percent! You think that's air you're breathing? Interesting. No, Neo...that's rain waiting to happen! I didn't so much sweat as slightly increase the humidity in the immediate vicinity. Amazingly it seemed much cooler and nicer as the sun rose and burned it off, so by the time I got home I could sweat like a normal person again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Tempo

Tuesdays will be my tempo run straight through August, until I go to 3 weekday runs. This morning I was ready for rain but all I got was 94% humidity. Even at a nice 75 degrees it got to me after a little while and I lost a minute on the last mile. Otherwise it's been going well and I have the fun task of planning a 5-mile run somewhere near the riverwalk in San Antonio. Going on vacation is no excuse to stop running!

The plan continues to evolve... I feel like the gap between Saturday and Tuesday is just wasted...maybe another easy 3 miles on Mondays would work and knock down the percentage of running that I do in my weekend long run. That would also put me into a third pair of running shoes by the time of the marathon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Easy Miles

Put in 6 pretty easy miles Saturday night. As usual, my first mile was quicker than I expected even though it had a decent amount of uphill. It's getting better with more warmup effort, so I think I'm getting the hang of pacing somewhat. I banked about 40 seconds going downhill in mile 3 and burned it all up coming back uphill in mile 4, which is fine. I'm trying to take Jim2's advice on running hills to heart, and keeping my center of gravity over my feet really is allowing me to go downhill quickly without pounding my knees and least it feels better than trying to lean back. The last couple miles were slightly but persistently uphill and I had to work to hold my target 12 minute pace for the whole run. I know I should just run a comfortable pace the whole time, but for now I'm still trying to get used to setting a pace and sticking to it, and these aren't really hard efforts or terribly long, so I seem to be getting away with it.

This morning found me repeating my 3-mile course from last week but this time with a more-sustainable 10:30 pace. Tomorrow's soreness (or lack of it) will tell me if that's going to work for my increasingly long midweek tempo runs this winter. If all goes well, the numbers say my 5-hour marathon target is within reach. I'm even tempted to say I should target 4:45 or lower, but for now I think I'll stick with my current goal and, if I feel good on raceday, go for a negative split instead of repeating the classic rookie mistake of starting too fast and bonking.

Plan 2

A work in progress...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So far most of my running has been at a comfortable pace...possibly too comfortable, so I decided to try my 3-mile run at a brisker pace to see where I'm at. I used the less-than-excellent MapMyRun to find the exact mile and half-mile splits so I could see if I was on pace during the run and decide what pace I should expect up and down hills. Using the more-excellent McMillan Running Calculator, I determined that to do a sub-5 marathon I should be able to run 3 miles in 29 minutes. It also confirmed that my 12 min/mi long run pace is about right, and that 10:11 to 10:37 is a good pace for tempo runs.

I decided to divide my 29 minute goal time into 10 minutes for the first, uphill mile, 9 minutes for the second, downhill mile, and 10 minutes for the slightly-uphill third mile. I warmed up with lunges, walking, and jogging to get to where I marked off the start of my 3-mile loop. The first mile clicked off about perfect in 10:04, but I still worry about injuring myself running downhill too fast and ended up doing the second mile a bit slower in 10:06. Also, something about running uphill always makes me feel like I deserve to coast a bit afterwards, so I'm probably just not pushing myself. Maybe wearing my heart rate monitor would keep me motivated to maintain effort... Determined to not fall too far off my intended overall time, I pushed myself a bit and finished the last mile in a bit over 10:07.

At first I was disappointed in this, so I decided to make a list of excuses:
  • It was humid (OK, well it's always humid in the morning in Austin :-)
  • My allergies were acting up a bit, giving me a bit of a sinus headache for the rest of the day and I lost at least a few seconds in the third mile coughing
  • Most of all, I had caffeine and spicy food for lunch and dinner the day before, which didn't let me sleep as well as I'd like
I'm not really content with these excuses, since humidity and allergies could happen on race day just as easily and nobody sleeps well the night before their first marathon, so I kept thinking about it. I also spent some time reading the excellent articles at Jim2's Running Page. I think you don't really know how much you pushed yourself in a run until later in the day and especially the next day. Judging for the ache in my left ankle the next day and that tiredness later in the first day I remember from a month or two ago when I started getting serous about training, I think it was hard enough. Also, I need to do more core strengthening to avoid back pain. I decided to take some solace in the fact that at the end of the run I felt like I could have given it more, especially downhill, but I had gone out conservative wanting to leave something for the uphill finishing mile. Besides, the calculator assumes a race effort for the 3-mile, which in retrospect this was not.

The good news is that this was a little fast for a tempo run, so I should be able to back off a tiny bit and repeat it next week without too much stress. I'll try again, possibly with my HRM to make sure I don't overdo it, next month and see if I've progressed.
Next up: Saturday's 6-mile run

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A different sort of run

I believe I have discovered a new kind of Fartlek* workout. It starts by giving your 4 year old son a new bike. Build up his confidence for riding fast by giving him a great helmet. Sadly his enthusiasm for going really fast downhill completely outmatched his ability to utilize the coaster brake to slow himself. Luckily for him, he hasn't yet had the same pleasure I have had of going over the bars at speed and landing heavily on very solid pointy rocks. So after dinner he set off for a bike ride and I jogged after him; he fueled by chocolate milk, and me by a Smithwicks. He laughed with joy as he pedaled at full speed down every hill and ignored my helpful instructions to "pedal backwards" as I ran flat out to try and intercept his collision course with random bushes, trees, telephone boxes. Eventually, he decided to actually try to stop before reaching the nearest streetlight pole and locked up the rear wheel for an awesome 30-foot skid just in time for me to catch up with him.
We circled around the neighborhood for nearly an hour as he'd accelerate wildly at different speeds up or down hills and stopping or slowing at random times when he thought it was a good idea. This resulted in me running varied paces and stopping or dodging every few hundred feet. I had learned from Sunday's experience doing this to wear shorts and my running shoes instead of the clothes I had come home from work in! The sun was getting low in the sky so it was only about 88F with a low 60% humidity and I didn't sweat enough to blind myself. Given that I felt pretty recovered from Saturday's 5 mile run and didn't have another run scheduled until Wednesday it was a great filler that I hope to repeat under slightly more controlled circumstances--and without the beer.

* A Fartlek workout is not (normally) something as unsavory as the name may sound. It's where you vary your running speed and distance to vary the muscle fibers being used and get a good aerobic workout. If you do this after having a beer with dinner before beginning this workout, as I did not really plan on a workout, you might get to taste the beer twice, and perhaps regret that choice of beverage for the evening.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Good Run

Wednesday was humid and not exactly cool but I had a great run. Gave myself a good half mile of walk/jog to warm up and then put in a bit over 3 solid miles a little faster than my target marathon pace. What's really good about it is absolutely no pain, no little twinges of "what was that feeling in my calf?" or aches anywhere. Just a great way to start the day and I've got to say Fatty is Right about waking up before everyone else for a cool start of the day. It won't be as pleasant this winter but at least I know I can make myself do it and not being dragging it at the end of the work day.
If my weekend "long" run goes as well I'll definitely be adding more miles to the plan.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Burped on the 3rd of July

A busy weekend found me doing my weekend run Saturday night. I also found that tortilla soup is not something you want to eat before a 5 mile run. I was a couple minutes off the total time I wanted but I'll chalk that up to indigestion and take it as a learning experience. Mental note 1: Pack Gas-X for the marathon. Mental note 2: figure out how to carry it during the marathon.
One plus of running at night is the cool weather, and on that night, early fireworks going up before the 4th of July. I was pleased to find I could push the pace a bit even after 4 miles to limit my time loss. I'll have to not make a habit of that, though, since the longer runs are supposed to be at an easy pace.

More fun news... mapped the last Austin Marathon on MapMyRun for all the world to see.
I was a bit surprised nobody seemed to have done that already but I thought I would learn something about the challenge ahead from doing so. The elevation change looks more dramatic than I expected, but it's still not significant enough for most people to consider "hilly":

Compare to my last run, which was actually much more downhill-ish:
I think I need to run this loop in the other direction sometimes to get more of a long climb in.

For long runs in the future, I think I'll try to better match some sections of the marathon. Where safe, I'll try to run sections of the marathon itself. Not too easy on the parts that will be on closed major roads, so I'll wait for the 2011 course to be released!

Friday, July 2, 2010


It's getting warmer (and more humid), so sweat getting into my eyes is starting to become an issue. I could just keep wiping it off on my sleeve, but that will eventually wipe off all the sunscreen and I've found a few solutions that are a bit more "high tech".
There's the Halo, Wicked Tails (Made in Austin!), and the sweat GUTR. I'm sure there are dozens more, plus normal head bands and hats, but I suspect they will all make me look significantly more dorky than I already do, and I can do that for free. On the bright side I'll probably be running in the rain Saturday anyway, so a decision can wait...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I've got to stop reading Runners World

I had already burned out on reading about training plans and what brand of electrolyte tablet is tastiest (I think the consensus was Succeed), but now I'll have to pass on "Ask the Sports Doc", too. If you thought the specter of bloody nipples was bad, then you won't really want to read all about toenails. Black ones, red ones, falling-off ones and the fun treatments like sticking needles under your toenails, drilling holes in them, or burning holes in them.
Wow. So much to look forward to after my long runs.
On a positive note, got in a 3.5 mile run early this morning before the rain came. "But wait", I protest, "I was only supposed to run 3 miles today since I'm still a bit sore from all the concrete running I did on Saturday." Yes, but when you plan your run at 6 am after getting maybe 6 hours of sleep you tend to make mistakes like taking shortcuts that don't exist. Fear not, I have now mapped an actual 3 mile route in the neighborhood to use next week. I even mapped a 5 mile run for Saturday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

The great thing about coming from a big family is when you get together, everyone's kids can occupy each other and leave most of their parents free to relax or challenge each other to fun stuff like running in the heat of the evening until you puke. My oldest brother begged off running since the concrete streets around my other brother's house would hurt his knees. (waaaah!) My other brother said he'd die if he ran, or at least sweat. (waaaah!)
That left my sister and I to hit the pavement. She wants to do a half-marathon in November so she'd been doing a little running lately too. I let her set the pace, and luckily it was comfortable so we chatted back and forth until we hit the first hill. Halfway up she was reliving the ice cream we'd just eaten so we walked the hill and then did another lap of the neighborhood. She begged me to stop telling jokes so that she could breath and I decided to be nice and comply. We filled the time with bits of running advice we'd gotten from concerned friends about the right clothes to wear and how to hydrate properly. After two laps she was fading and decided to walk one while I ran ahead. On my last lap I decided to run it backwards so I could check up on her (partly to make sure she didn't fall over dead and partly to make sure she didn't just wimp out and cut it short ;-). When I caught her she'd just finished walking the big hill and was ready to run again. Unfortunately for me she was feeling good and ready to really push it to the finish and started to leave me in the dust. So I did what any good brother would do...told jokes until she cracked. "Last one home has bloody nipples!" got me to the front door first.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Simple Plan

Most people attempting a marathon for the first time would do something smart like consult a trainer or join a running group. I prefer the do-it-yourself approach, since trying to get coordinated with other people would eat into the time I have to actually train. So I read dozens of plans and articles about plans and rolled my own...

It's basically spending summer carefully building up to running the kind of mileage most serious runners have before they even start training, and then carefully doing increasingly long runs on the weekend, backing off a bit after each milestone.

The serious runners will probably be aghast that there are only 3 running days each week, but that's the time I have to do it, so that's what I'll do. Just for them, there's a proper 3-week taper at the end.

Non-runners will probably be aghast that it takes around 600 miles to train. Luckily it provides the answer to the age-old question of what do I want for Christmas? This year, it's a new pair of shoes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Long Road Ahead

With today's run I'm all of 2% into the nearly 600 miles of training I've got planned. My pace is where I want it for now and I'm starting to believe I can not only finish, but do it in under 5 hours. Not exactly burning up the timesheets, but with just 3 days a week to train I think that's still pretty good. The only problem is I spent too much time running on the left side of the road instead of the right today, and my right hip pain is back a little bit. Slightly longer run planned for Saturday so I'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How it got started

I've always loved running for fun, and after I broke my mountain bike in a small crash last fall I started trail running so I could fall down at lower speeds. I'd worked up to running for an hour or two at a time pretty easily and thought about doing the half at the Austin Marathon in February. Sadly I'd missed the deadline and blew it off, then got busy in the spring and lost all of what a serious runner would call "form". When I tried to go right back to running 5 miles at a time my hip would hurt so I had to start over from nothing. Now I've got some new shoes and carefully worked back to running a solid 3 miles twice a week with no issues and thanks to the generous 7-hour time limit for Austin (a 16 minute/mile pace!), I'm pretty sure just about anybody could finish.