Posted on 28-02-2009
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

Yesterday’s trip to the race expo and the fact that Ryan Hall showed up to run the 15K revealed just how big the Gasparilla classic has become.  With over 8000 people lined up for the 5K, it was by far the biggest 5K I’ve ever run.  Fortunately, I somehow got seeded.  The little yellow background on my number allowed me to liesurely warm-up on the first quarter mile of the course while most of the runners piled into the starting area from the rear.  About 10 minutes before the start, volunteers opened the barricades at the front of the starting line, allowing the seeded runners to enter the start from the front.  It was a little weird milling about the start area with quite a bit of room while the rest of the runners were crammed behind another barricade.  I lined up near the rear of the group of seeded runners, feeling a little like I shouldn’t be there.  After the National Anthem, the barricade was opened and the rest of the field squeezed up to us.

The guy on the stage tells us there are 15 seconds to go before the start, but 15 seconds seem to go by without any kind of fireworks or noise that would indicate we should start.  Suddenly, the runners toeing the line up front take off running and I guess that means the race has started.  Things are quite tight through the start even up front.  I cross the line and start my Garmin.  We all kind of jockey for position at low speed as we run about 50 yards and then make a sharp right turn.

Things open up a bit now that we’ve made the turn and I’m able to hit a comfortable stride.  The road inclines upward for the first quarter mile or so.  I check my Garmin, see my pace is 5:45, feel relieved that I’m going too fast instead of too slow and tell myself to slow down.  My goal is to finish in 20:39, allowing me to go up a VDOT level in the Daniels Book.  As I hit the quarter mile mark and make a left turn, I’m running in the 6:20’s.  I hold myself there, figuring, “What the heck, I may just break 20”.

The road inclines downward now and my legs turnover quickly.  At the bottom of the incline, we reach Bayshore Blvd where the rest of the race will take place.  A DJ plays tunes on a street corner as we make a sharp right onto Bayshore.  I take the inside line and nearly lose an eardrum as I pass right next to the speakers.  A few blocks ahead, I pass the 1 mile mark.  The clock reads 6:36.  My Garmin reads 6:23.  I’m a bit astounded that I’m 13 seconds off the clock time, but pleased that I’m under 20 minute pace.

Things are feeling a little hard already and I’ve got time in the bank, so I slow the pace and try to relax.  We’re passing the slowest 15K participants (they started  hours before us) coming back at us on the other side of the road.  We’ll soon make a hairpin left turn and chase them down.  I glance down at the Garmin and see I’m averaging 6:45 min/mile.  I speed up to catch a group in front of me.

The pace car approaches on the other side of the road with the leaders chasing it down.  As I pass it, I compare the clock on the car to my Garmin.  There’s only a 5 second difference.  I must have misread my Garmin at the 1 mile mark.  It makes sense.  The elapsed time at the 1 mile mark should be very close to the current pace.  6:23 must have been my current pace as I passed the mark, but the elapsed time was actually more like 6:31.  The good news is that with the top runners coming back at me on the other side of the road, I must be near the turnaround.

I make the sharp left and psych myself up for the 1.5 miles straight back up Bayshore to the finish.  I see the time ticking off the 2 mile marker ahead and note that it’s already past 13 minutes.  I’m definitely off the 20 minute pace.  My Garmin reads 13:14 as I pass the marker.  I’m a little discouraged that I’ve only got 4 seconds in the bank and I’m starting to feel some fatigue start to creep into my legs.  Experience tells me that my breathing will soon begin to become more difficult.  I notice my fists are clenching, so I relax my hands and let my wrists go limp.  I straighten up and and relax my shoulders.

I’m passing walkers from the 15 K now and also quite a few other runners ahead of me.  Somehow, my legs seem to hold the pace quite well and while the breathing is uncomfortable, it’s not like I’m totally sucking wind.  When my Garmin reads 2.6 miles, I start counting down.  It’s a technique I often use in my tempo runs.  Generally at my tempo pace, three breaths equals 0.01 miles.  Normally I don’t start this countdown until I have a quarter mile left, but I could use the distraction.  It works out pretty well because I’m running faster than my tempo pace so whenever I check my progress on the Garmin, I’ve gone further than I thought.

Ahead, I see the grandstand that has been assembled for spectators on Bayshore.  That basically means I can see the finish.  I pass the 3 mile mark in 19:47 and feel relief that I’ve got almost a minute to finish and still get under my goal.  I pull off quite a nice finishing kick.  It’s not the “I’m going to finish fast” adrenaline filled type of finishing kick.  It’s more like the “I want this to be over as soon as possible” type finishing kick.  I pass quite a few people on my way across the finish line.  My clock time is 20:28.  My chip time is 20:25.  So, only 3 seconds difference between the 2.  So much for 13 seconds.

Overall, I finished 91st out of 8688 finishers.  I was 7th out of 464 in my age group.  I was a little disappointed in not making 20 minutes, but as I cooled down, I thought back to the long term plan I laid out after the Disney half marathon.  The goal was always to break 20 in the second 5K of the season.  In fact, I think I even said to myself that I should run this first one in “20:25 or so”.  I planned to keep myself between 6:30 and 6:40 pace through the whole race.  My average pace was 6:35.  So, really I executed the plan to near perfection.  In any case, it’s a 2:05 PR over my last 5K PR set only 6 months ago.  I’ve just got to take off another 2:26 in the next 6 months – ha!  As always, I’ll post pics when they’re available.

(7) Comments   
Posted on 25-02-2009
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

Yesterday, the 5 miles on the treadmill went well…as in “without incident”.  I completed an upper body workout and a core workout afterward.  Today’s workout plan was for 3  x 1.5 miles at T pace with 2 minutes rest.  My current T pace is 7:10/mile, so that means 1.5 miles in 10:45.  Here’s how it went:

warm-up at Easy pace

1.5 miles in 10:16

1.5 miles in 10:04

1.5 miles in 10:07

cool-down at Easy pace

The workout went quite well.  My average pace for the intervals was actually pretty close to my planned race pace.  That was nice.  I’m a little nervous, though.  I’ve yet to put a week’s full of good quality workouts together since the half marathon and the race is my third and final quality workout of the week.  With tomorrow off and 2 easy miles on Friday, I’ll at least be well rested.  The goal is 20:39 to move me up one VDOT level (putting me on par with Lindsay).  If it’s a really good day, I might have a shot at 20 minutes.  Apparently there are about 6000 people registered for the 5K and Denise hasn’t decided if she’s running yet.  Should be an exciting morning if nothing else.

(3) Comments   
Posted on 23-02-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

You know, it’s funny that whenever I say “good quality run”, it seems redundant and whenever I have a “bad quality run”, it seems like an oxymoron.  It’s like when you tell a nonrunner that you have a 15 mile easy run and they freak out on you.

“Oh my lord,” they say, “I can’t even run 2 feet and you think 15 miles is easy!”.  No, it’s not that the run itself is actually easy, it’s just that I’m running at my easy pace which is slow compared to my marathon pace, which is not necessarily the pace I’d actually run in a marathon, but rather somewhere in between easy and threshold…oh nevermind!

Anyway, I actually looked forward to my intervals today for two reasons:

1)  The were at “I” pace instead of “R” pace

2)  Since I’m on a low mileage week due to the race, I only had to do 3!

So, the plan was for 3×1200 m in 4:54 with 600 m jogs.  Here’s how it went:

Warm-up at E pace

1200 m in 4:44

1200 m in 4:42

1200 m in 4:46

Cool-down at easy pace

I hardly felt the first interval.  I actually coasted over the last 100 m since I knew I was going too fast.  I felt the last 400 m of the second interval a bit, but nothing too bad.  The third interval was a little uncomfortable, but I still stayed relaxed throughout the whole thing.  During my final recovery jog, I passed the 5K mark in an unofficial PR time.  So, I figure a PR in the race on Saturday is pretty much a given.  My goal, however is a 2 minute PR.

Overall, I ran 6 miles in 47:08 today.  A good workout.  I’m a bit sore, but I think I’ll be okay for the 5 easy miles on the treadmill tomorrow.

(6) Comments   
Posted on 22-02-2009
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

The weather was absolutely beautiful today.  The calf felt great, so I headed out for my planned 10.5 mile run.  It was fantastic.  I did a great job maintaining my pace and felt like I could run another 5 miles at the end.  I finished the 10.5 in 1:29:09 for an average pace of 8:30 per mile.  To summarize the week:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 200 & 800m intervals (7.5 miles)

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: Somewhat botched 8 mile tempo run

Friday: 15 miles on the bike

Saturday: 5 miles easy

Sunday: 10.5 miles easy

Total mileage: 37 miles running + 15 miles cycling.

Next week is a race week, so I’ll dial the mileage back just a little.

(1) Comment   
Posted on 21-02-2009
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

The calf pain had eased up quite a bit by the time I woke yesterday morning, but I decided it would still be prudent to give it a day of rest with a race only a week away.  So, I hit the stationary bike with my customary 3 miles on the bike for every 1 mile I would have run ratio.  I was planning on 5 easy miles, so I did 15 miles on the bike.  This was also a convenient distance since the Amgen Tour of California hit the town of Solvange for an individual time trial also of 15 miles length.

I pounded out my 15 miles pretty much in time to the music from my mp3 player.  There were several long stretches when I was really hauling ass (or at least I felt like I was).  I finished the 15 miles in 39:56…and waited to see how the likes of Levi Lepheimer, Lance Armstrong and Dave Zabriskie would compare…

Pretty well as it turns out.  Lance had me by about 8 minutes, finishing 14th in the time trial.  Levi and Zabriskie were 1 and 2 respectively – both under 31 minutes.  Pretty impressive considering they were negotiating curves and hills while I just had my head down on a stationary bike.

After my time on the bike, I took the opportunity to do a full body strength workout:


2 sets of single leg squats with 35 lb dumbells

2 sets of leg press with 270 lbs

2 sets of toe raises (hoping to pull back on my calf from the other side)


2 sets of decline press with 250 lbs

2 sets of incline press with 110 lbs

2 sets of high row with 140 lbs

1 set of shoulder shrugs with 55 lb dumbells

1 set of shoulder shrugs with 60 lb dumbells

2 sets of bicep curls with 40 lbs each arm


2 sets of roman chair leg raises (not me in the picture -ha!)

30 second side plank on each side

30 second plank

The calf felt fine this morning (though my butt is damned sore) and I completed a 5 mile easy run without so much as a peep from it.  Let’s see if it complains about 10.5 tomorrow.

(2) Comments   
Posted on 19-02-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I got a nice 6 miles on the treadmill in yesterday before an upper body and core strength training workout.  This morning felt good when I woke up.  I slept really well and the weather was just about perfect – maybe a little windy, but not too bad.

During my warmup mile, things just didn’t feel right.  My legs felt heavy and it was like I was dragging myself along even at my easy pace.  The plan was 1 mile warmup, 6 miles at 7:27 and 1 mile cool down.  I hit the park and started the tempo run.  About halfway through the first mile, my right calf started to tighten up.  At first it was just soreness, but then it felt like someone was slowly grinding the back of a pencil into my calf.  I continued into the second mile and it steadily got worse.  I finally cut it off just before the 2 mile mark of the tempo run.  I walked for a while, but the pain wasn’t going away.  So, I sat on a stone wall and massaged the calf for a while.

The massage helped a little bit and I started to walk home.  The slow pace started to become annoying, so I decided to test a jog and that went well.  I passed a man who nodded a “hello” to me and looked at my Garmin.  I was running at 7:25 pace.  I reached the edge of the park and instead of crossing the street to go home, I hung a right and started my second lap of the 3 mile tempo circuit.  The calf was sore, but not too bad.  I finished up the 6 tempo miles without a further break, then made it back home at my easy pace for the total 8 miles.  Here’s the full workout:

1 mile warmup

1.95 miles in 14:18 (7:19/mile)

0.29 miles in 5:29 (walking, sitting, massaging)

3.76 miles in 27:28 (7:18/mile)

1 mile cooldown

So, not a perfect tempo run by any stretch of the imagination, but it was nice to be able to get the full workout in.  The calf is definately hurting now.  I’m icing it as I write and I may have to give it the day off tomorrow.  I’ve got 5 easy miles planned and that may change to 15 miles on the bike.  There’s nothing fast left this week, but there is a 10.5 mile run this weekend.  So, I’m keen to give the calf some rest.

(5) Comments   
Posted on 17-02-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I gotta say that I was downright nervous about my interval workout today.  I’ve come to loathe 800 m intervals so much that these workouts almost feel like a mini-race.  Yesterday, I woke up with horribly sore calves from Saturday’s intervals and the beach workout on Sunday.  So, I made the decision to burn my off day early in the week.  The calves felt better this morning, but I still wasn’t at all excited about heading out for the intervals.  The plan was 4 x (200 m at R pace + 200 m jog + 200 m R pace + 400 m jog + 800 m R pace + 400 m jog).  My R pace is currently 45 seconds for 200 m and 3:05 for 800 m.  Here’s how it went:

200 m in 0:43

200 m in 0:42

800 m in 3:02

200 m in 0:44

200 m in 0:48 (this was actually more like 250 m)

800 m in 2:57

200 m in 0:42

200 m in 0:45

800 m in 2:58

200 m in 0:43

200 m in 0:44

800 m in 3:01

With warmup and cooldown, the total was 7.5 miles.  I’m very happy with it.  The only one I missed was the 2nd 200 m in the 2nd set and that was actually long.  No walk breaks at all today.  Tomorrow is an easy day on the treadmill with some upper and core strength training.  We’ll see if I can string together two good quality workouts this week on Thursday.  That would be a nice confidence booster for the race less than 2 weeks away.

(2) Comments   
Posted on 15-02-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

The sun was shining brightly this morning when I woke.  The birds were chirping and it was 70 degrees outside.  With the rest of the family out of town and most of my chores for the weekend completed, I decided it was a great day to head to the beach for a run.  I ignored the fact that my calves were very sore.

By the time I got out to Indian Rocks Beach (a sleepy little barrier island), the sky was quite overcast and it was even very foggy on the beach.  I also realized that while packing many other things beach related, I had forgotten to pack my Garmin.  So, I was running a new route with no mile markers and no timepiece.  That sounds like a recipe for success.

I decided to head north because I knew the island ended about 4.5 miles north of where I parked the car.  I also knew that Sand Key County park was about 3.5 miles away.  With 7 easy miles on the docket, I just started running.    About a quarter mile up the beach, I realized that I hadn’t really taken note of my surroundings as I started running.  It then occurred to me that I wasn’t really going to know when I got back to where I had parked the car.  I knew what street it was on, but I couldn’t see the streets from the beach.  So, I just tucked that little nugget away for later.

The beach was basically empty.  There were several stretches where I was the only person out there.  The fog was so dense, i could only see about 100 yards in front of me and the humidity was thick.  I was covered in sweat immediately.  I plodded along at what I figured was my easy pace with no idea how far I’d run or how long I’d been at it.  Eventually I made it to the park and ran over to the facilities for a quick pee break.  The concrete sidewalks leading up to the bathroom felt great to run on compared to the beach.

On the way back, I still had no clue how far I’d run or how long I’d been running.  With the dense fog, nothing along the beach really stood out.  So, I didn’t have many landmarks to go with.  Eventually, I started seeing Indian Rocks Beach access signs leading back to the road.  I didn’t remember those on the way out, so I began to get concerned that I had passed my car.  When I got to the next access point, I took it back to the road and discovered I still had 5 blocks to go back to the car.  Back on the concrete, those 5 block were quite fast I think.

I mapped the run out at the USATF site when I got home and found that I actually ran close to 9 miles.  I estimated my pace at about 9:10 min/mile, though it seemed like I was going much faster.  I don’t know if that’s because I was losing energy to the sand or if I really just have no concept of what time it was when I started running.  In any case, it was an easy run and that’s what I was supposed to do.  I’m betting the calves aren’t going to be happy tomorrow.  Here’s the route for those of you who are snowbound and would like to think about the beach:


So, to recap the week:

Monday: 6 miles (400m intervals)

Tuesday: 5 miles Easy on the treadmill + upper and core strength

Wednesday: 7 miles (threshold intervals)

Thursday: 5 miles Easy on the treadmill + upper and lower strength

Friday: Off

Saturday: 6 miles (I pace intervals)

Sunday: 8.79 miles Easy (beach)

Total: 37.79 (36 planned)

After 3 weeks at 36(ish) miles per week, I’m going to pop up to 42 miles per week next week.  Then, I’ll probably step back the following week since it’s a race week.

(3) Comments   
Posted on 14-02-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I woke up early this morning excited to get our for my intervals workout.  The plan was for 5 sets of : 2min I pace + 1 min jog + 1 min I pace + 30 sec jog + 30 sec I pace + 30 sec jog.  My I pace is currently 6:32 min/mile.  So, after going 2 miles straight at 6:38 pace, I figured this workout would be a cinch.  Here’s how it went:

Set #1

2 minutes (.31 miles) at 6:22 pace

1 minute (.17 miles) at 6:00 pace

30 sec (464 ft) at 5:50 pace

Set #2

2 minutes (.31 miles) at 6:25 pace

1 minute (.16 miles) at 6:05 pace

30 sec (422 ft) at 6:20 pace

Walk break

Set #3

2 minutes (.32 miles) at 6:15 pace

1 minute (.17 miles) at 6:00 pace

30 sec (419 ft) at 6:26 pace

Walk break

Set #4

2 minutes (.32 miles) at 6:19 pace

1 minute (.16 miles) at 6:16 pace

30 sec (425 ft) at 6:14 pace

Set #5

2 minutes (.31 miles) at 6:25 pace

1 minute (.16 miles) at 6:11 pace

30 sec (393 ft) at 6:46 pace

So, based solely on the paces of the intervals, things went pretty well I suppose.  It’s just that those two walk breaks were “unauthorized”.   I was stitchin up both times.  I will say that set #4 felt this best.  I tried t orelax and not go too fast in that one.  I think with intervals, I have a problem maintaining the appropriate pace.  It’s especially bad when I’m running time instead of distance like today.  I never really relax into the pace, but rather keep checking the watch.  With my first 5K of the season 2 weeks away, the lesson here is to relax early.  My total run today including warmup, walk breaks and cool down was 6 miles in 49:42.

(2) Comments   
Posted on 11-02-2009
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

I was on my cool down mile, headed back home after a killer workout at the park (more on that later) when I had a rather frightening experience.  In order to get to and from the park, I have to cross one major road.  There is no major intersection at which to cross.  There’s only two cross walks with flashing lights.  So, when you want to cross, you press a little button at the cross walk.  The lights flash and the cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians.

Today, I was heading back home.  I pressed the button on the crosswalk, and looked out into the road to my left.  A huge garbage truck was baring down on the crosswalk.

“Okay,” I thought, “He’s never going to be able to stop.  I’ll just wait here until it passes.”  The driver of the garbage truck made a valiant effort.  He hit the brakes.  With a lot of squeaking and some “thumpety thumping”, the truck finally came to a stop way past the normal stopping line and right up against the crosswalk.  Somewhat impressed, I gave a “thank-you” wave to the driver and jogged out into the street.  Unfortunately, the lady in the lane next to the garbage truck apparently didn’t see the flashing yellow lights or consider why a garbage truck might have stopped at a crosswalk.  Fortunately, I stuck my head out in front of my body and saw her coming just in time.  I stopped quickly and darted back a step as she slammed on her brakes with a horrified look on her face.  One second earlier and it would have been Honda Civic bumper to left knee at 35 MPH.  That would not have been pretty.

It really ruined my mojo after a great workout.  The plan was for some threshold training: 2 miles at T pace with 400m jog, 1.5 miles at T pace with 400m jog, 1200 m at T pace.  My T pace is currently 7:10 per mile.  Here’s how it went:

2 miles: 13:16 (6:38/mile)

1.5 miles: 10:26 (6:57/mile)

0.75 miles: 5:07 (6:40/mile)

Total (including recoveries, warmup and cooldown): 7 miles in 53:04 (7:34/mile).

So, it really was faster than it should have been and I might not have exactly accomplished the true “threshold training” aspect of the workout, but damn it was a nice confidence booster.  I’ll probably feel it in the morning so I’m just going to bask in the glow right now.

(3) Comments   
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