October
31
Posted on 31-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

The first “quality” week of training for the Gasparilla half marathon is in the books and it went pretty well.  I was tired on the days I figured I’d be tired and I skipped one workout, but still managed 41 miles total.  Here’s how it went:

Monday: 6 miles easy

Tuesday: 1 mile warmup + 4 x 1 mile at threshold pace + 1 mile cool down

Wednesday AM: 4 miles easy + leg strength training

Wednesday PM: 3 miles easy

Thursday: 10 miles easy

Friday: Off

Saturday: 12 miles

Sunday: Off

Total: 41 miles

After the speed workout on Tuesday and the two workouts on Wednesday (including weight training on the legs), Thursday’s run was slow and painful.  My legs were stones and I took several walk breaks after 6 miles, but still managed to drag myself through the full 10 miles in just under 1 hour and 40 minutes.

I figured it was better to sacrifice Friday’s planned 6 miles in order to have a good long run on Saturday, so I took Friday off.  I ran a little over a mile Saturday morning to meet Meredith, then ran 10 miles with her (she completed her 10 in 1:29:56 – looking good for a sub 2 hour half in November), then ran another mile to round my total out at 12.

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October
26
Posted on 26-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

As predicted, the enthusiasm I had last night for my upcoming speed session faded dramatically overnight and I woke none too excited about heading to the park for some fast laps around the lake.  I still managed to drag myself there and started to feel better about the prospect after an 8:30 warmup mile.  I stretched, then went in to the speed portion of the workout.  The plan was 4 x 1 mile in 7:00 with 1 min rests between.  The path around the lake at the park is 1.1 miles (marked every 1/4).  So, I figured I’d run the mile, then walk the 0.1 from the mile mark back to the start.  As it turned out, this walk took about 1:30-2:00, but I needed the extra rest.  Here’s how the miles went:

mile 1: 6:35

mile 2: 6:47

mile 3: 6:50

mile 4: 6:58

After realizing the first mile was too fast (I was showing off for Raffi and Britt who were running their usual Tuesday morning 3 miler at the same park), I tried to slow myself down in the next two miles.  I finally succeeded in hitting the proper pace in the final mile but only because I was tired.  I’m actually surprised I got under 7 for that one.

So, the first speed session was not the most consistent, but at least I’m clearly fit enough to proceed with the plan.  I may even need to bump myself up a VDOT level, but I’ll wait a couple more weeks and decide then.  I finished the workout with a mile cool down to round the whole thing out at 6 miles.

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October
25
Posted on 25-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

I planned last week as a recovery week and I got a little bit more than I bargained for.  I slept horribly on Sunday and Monday nights, so I woke up on Monday and Tuesday mornings feeling like absolute poo.  Thus, Monday and Tuesday became off days.  I felt pretty “pooish” on Wednesday morning too, so I slept in but made it to the gym for 35 minutes on the StairMaster.  It was one of those cool StairMasters that looks like you’re walking up the down escalator and it was quite a workout!  Later in the evening, I ran 4 miles with Meredith and Scott.  My legs felt so fresh that I had trouble holding myself back and busted out sub 7 minute pace in the last half mile.  I dropped Meredith, but Scott hung with me.  He’s really improving.

Raffi convinced me to run a 5K on Saturday, so I took Thursday off as is my custom 2 days before a race (like I had worked hard the rest of the week and needed the rest).  I had a doctor’s appointment anyway, so that adds another excuse.  Two excuses are difficult to overcome.  Friday, I ran an easy 3 mile shakeout run.  Saturday, I kinda sorta ran a 5K race and won.  So, here’s how the numbers work out:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday AM: 35 minutes StairMaster

Wednesday PM: 4 miles easy

Thursday: Off

Friday: 3 miles Easy

Saturday: 3.1 mile race

Sunday: Off

Total: 10.1 miles

Hey!  I made it into double digits!  I certainly can’t complain too much about not being well rested.  It’s just under 18 weeks until the Gasparilla half marathon and tomorrow is my first speed workout.  I’m excited now, but I’m sure I won’t be at 7:00 am.

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October
24
Posted on 24-10-2010
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

Semi-naked peopleRaffiandBrianThis weekend, the Tampa Lululemon showroom turned 3 years old and the “Bare it All Birthday Bash” was held in celebration.  The event included a 5K run with bootcamp stations followed by yoga in the park across the street.  The whole event was billed as clothing optional.  Although nobody came totally naked, there was certainly a lot of skin there to be seen and a few other creative takes on the idea of “nude”.  Raffi wore a nude cami with Lululemon logo “nipples”.  I was boring and just wore my normal racing clothes, but I was ready to take it all off if everyone else did (yeah, nothing like a little peer pressure).

We set off at a slow jog and headed to scenic Bayshore Drive.  As we ran along, many people were wearing party hats and blowing on party favors.  We got some fun looks from other joggers along Bayshore, especially since we were being led by Patrick of Very Little Clothing (pictured above), who took to playfully grabbing light posts and dancing around them like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.  Unfortunately, Bridget’s birthday bow wasn’t behaving and she was getting over bronchitis so she turned around and went back to the store.   At the one mile mark, we stopped, waited for the entire group to arrive, then proceeded to do 33 push ups and 33 second planks.  The strange number of reps signifies the 3rd birthday of the store.  Doing 3 reps just seemed like too few.  After another quarter mile of running, we ran right into the Tampa Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  Thankfully, we weren’t all naked because there were more than enough police officers to arrest us all.  When we hit the turnaround, we all stopped again and did 33 burpees before heading back to the one mile mark.

The game is afootOnce we arrived back at the one mile mark, we waited again for everyone to arrive and then the race was on.  The first male and female participants to arrive back at the store were promised a free technical top or a 1 hour massage.  Two ladies jumped out into the lead and I pulled right behind the first place man.  After about 10 seconds, I realized he was running at around 8 minute mile pace, so I passed him and pulled even with the lead lady (Laura).  We easily pulled away from everyone else at a 7:30 pace and chatted most of the way back to the store.  She had already run 10 miles that morning and I had a lot of Irish Whiskey the night before, so neither of us were really in the mood to race it out for bragging rights.  I’m pretty sure she would have beaten me if we did.

Yoga in the ParkNone of that mattered, though because we both got the prize!  After we got back to the store, we waited for everyone to arrive, had some water, and then participated in about 30 minutes of Yoga in the park across the street.  After playing the part of Studly Studmuffin in the run portion of the event, I was quickly humbled in the yoga segment.  Fortunately, I now know that my shoulders are quite weak and my core could use more work than I like to think as well.  I was definitely dropping to my knees in some of the plank and push-up positions.

New Lululemon shirtAfter yoga, I got to pick out my new shirt.  I scored a nice long sleeve (with thumb-holes) shirt that contains silver for its anti smell properties.  It’s also super soft.  In fact, when I tried it on, several ladies came over and felt me up.  Just another added bonus of winning the race!  The icing on the cake was that they gave me the massage certificate in addition to the shirt.

Thanks to Nathan Bangs of Yoga Tampa Bay for shooting the photos (except the one of the shirt…that’s my own crumby photography)!

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October
20
Posted on 20-10-2010
Filed Under (Gear) by Brian

I spoke briefly of my foray into barefoot running back in March.  Actually, it was one of my most popular posts.  Clearly the somewhat controversial topic motivates people to comment.  In any case, I haven’t really given up on the minimalist concept.  I’ve done all of my barefoot runs on the beach.  I live about 20 minutes from the beach and though some people would kill for that kind of proximity, it’s just not practical for me to waste 40 minutes round trip in commuting to the place I’m going to run on a regular basis.

All of my usual “out the front door” running routes are primarily pavement.  As a sort of compromise, I’ve been training a lot in my racing shoes.  Those of you who have my official Topps trading card (I jest) will know that I raced in the Saucony Grid Fastwitch 3 last year and have now upgraded to the Saucony Grid Fastwitch 4.  The 3 is a delightful shade of orange, but the 4 is bright yellow with black tiger stripes.  Richie was quite fond of them when I debuted them at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and kept referring to me as “Mr. Saucony” and making tiger claw motions pre-race.

As a result of my great experiences with my Saucony racing shoes, I had been toying with the idea of phasing my 5 pairs of Adidas Supernova Sequence training shoes out with something by Saucony.  I was also looking for something lighter and thinner at the bottom.  I really like the way my racing shoes allow me to feel the road while still feeling soft.

Shortly after the Race for the Cure, I received an out of the blue email from the Saucony PR people with a press release about the ProGrid Kinvara, which recently won the “Gear of the Year” award from outside magazine.  Delighted, to hear about it, I asked them to send me a pair and it arrived a week later:

Saucony ProGrid Kinvara

At first look, they’re pretty sleek.  They sit obviously lower to the ground than the traditional training shoe.  I wanted the bright orange, but it wasn’t available.  The black and red is still pretty cool, though.  It is a training shoe after all.  I should really show restraint and save the bright colors for race day.

The first thing I noticed when I slid the shoes on is the roominess of the toe box.  This is very important to me.  In my many miles of running, I’ve never experienced black or lost toenails and I’d really like to keep it that way.  Freedom for my toes is a must.

I took the shoes out for an easy 6 mile spin.  I felt a little floppy for the first mile or so.  I think that was because this is my first pair of neutral cushioned shoes and I’m used to a little more rigid support.  After about a quarter mile or so, I got into a good rhythm.  My right foot felt great, but my left ankle had an itchy, bordering on painful feeling.  It kept getting worse so I figured maybe I had laced the left shoe a little too tight.  I stopped after about a mile to retie the laces and that’s when I noticed a giant mosquito bite on the outside of my left ankle.  I can’t really fault the shoe for that.

After a few miles, even the mosquito bite stopped bothering me and I floated along rather easily.  In the end, it was a pretty comfortable 6 miles.  The second run was a scheduled 4 miler with Meredith, Scott and Britt.  After about a quarter mile, Meredith and Scott had to pee so they picked up the pace.  We quickly dropped Britt and sped through the first mile and half to the bathroom at about 8 min/mile pace.  After the bathroom break, we slowed the pace down a bit, but the initial warm-up had my adrenaline pumping and I was chomping at the bit to let loose.  The shoes felt great.  My leg turnover was rapid and everything felt pretty effortless.  In the last mile, I thought about speeding ahead, but held back.  Finally, I was so giddy that I couldn’t help but speed up.  Scott stayed with me and we averaged 6:45 min/mile pace over the last half mile.  I finished wanting to run another two miles.

I’m especially impressed with the shoes’ traction.  I accelerated through some sharp corners and the shoes held the ground firmly.  It was like they were sticky in the corners and springy the rest of the time.  I’m really excited to be trying these out, but I’m also a little wary as to how they’ll affect my body over the long term.  We shall see, but so far so good!

***Disclaimer: The shoes were complimentary, but the opinions are solely mine.  I’m not saying they’re the perfect shoe for everyone, but I sure do like them.  If I didn’t, I’d tell you that.***

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October
17
Posted on 17-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

Thanks to everyone for the notes about the beginner’s guide. If anyone is interested, I’d like to run it by a few people for feedback before it’s published. Just let me know! On the running front, it was another solid week. I hit 41 miles again. My easy 4 miles on Thursday were pretty crappy after fasting and some routine bloodwork. Meredith and Scott were doing 8 miles on Saturday, so I ran a mile to meet them and then ran a mile back home after I was done running 8 with them. Though I averaged over 9 min/mile for the whole run, I felt good at the end and did a few 7 min/mile surges in the last mile. Here’s how the week shaped up:

Monday: 6.5 miles easy with 6 50-100 m strides
Tuesday: 4 miles easy and core/lower body strength training
Wednesday AM: 6.5 miles easy with 6 50-100 m strides
Wednesday PM: 4 miles easy
Thursday: 4 miles easy
Friday: 6 miles easy
Saturday: 10 mile Long run
Total: 41 miles

In the coming week, I’m going to scale my mileage back just a tad as a bit of a recovery week. Today, I’m 19 weeks away from the Gasparilla half marathon, so this will be my last week sans speedwork.

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October
12
Posted on 12-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

During the past few weeks, I’ve been conducting research for a comprehensive guide to running for beginners. Since my primary source of information has been the local library, I’ve been delving into texts that feature way too many pictures of people wearing very short shorts and stylish striped tube socks. I think at this stage of my running career, I’m quite qualified to advise the beginning runner, though my own beginnings were not ideal. I remember thinking the best way to reduce my 5K time was to pick a pace and start running. If I wanted to run 8 minute miles in the race, I’d run 8 minute miles in training and simply try to work my way up to 5K before I collapsed. To some extent, that worked but my first “breakthrough” at the 5K distance came only after I started running slower than my planned race pace for longer distances. My second “breakthrough” occurred when I started running faster than race pace for much shorter distances (in addition to the long, slow distance runs).

Though my negative (and more rare positive) experiences during the early days of my running career have taught me a lot, I thought it prudent to revisit some of the “classic” texts of running lore. I’ve made it through Hal Higdon’s Beginner’s Running Guide, and I’m working on Jeff Galloway’s Book on Running which still demands a 3 deep waiting list at the library, despite being in print for nearly 30 years. Still in the queue are John Bingham’s Courage to Start and Amby Burfoot’s The Principals of Running. I’ve made a lot of notes for my beginners article, but I’ve also learned a bit to benefit my own running.

It probably seems obvious and I’ve always known that on easy days, it’s okay to go slow (or even walk), but the wake up call I needed this week was not just that it’s okay to go slow on easy days, but it’s really more of a requirement. With the great weather, I’ve been feeling pretty awesome on my runs these last few weeks. When I feel awesome, I like to go fast and I usually do. That can lead to problems sometimes. Easy runs, after all, allow the body to recover from hard runs and fitness is not gained through running hard workouts, but rather in recovering from them. So today on my run home from the gym, I took a walk break. It wasn’t because I was tired – I felt great. It was because I ran hard strides at the end of my 6 miles yesterday, it was a beautiful morning and I was in no hurry to get home to get ready for work. It was the most exhilarating walk break I’ve ever taken.

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October
10
Posted on 10-10-2010
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

First things first:
1) Apologies to Bret for spelling his name wrong in the last post.
2) Congratulations to my daughter, Alice, for her PR 22:13 5K performance on Tuesday – also her first varsity ribbon with an 8th place finish in the meet.
3) Congratulations to Ragnar teammate, Bryan for his 4:08 PR performance in the Chicago marathon.
4) Big congratulations to sometimes running partner,Drew, for his PR 2:45:51 performance in the Portland marathon (17th overall)….someday maybe I’ll be able to keep up with you in a training run again!

On my end, I’m feeling pretty good and I put in a pretty solid week:

Monday: 6.5 miles easy (finished with 4 50-100 m strides)
Tuesday: 4 miles + lower and core strength training
Wednesday AM: 6 miles easy
Wednesday PM: 4 miles easy
Thursday: 4 miles + upper and core strength training
Friday: 6.5 miles easy (finished with 6 50-100 m strides)
Saturday: 10 miles easy
Sunday: 30 mins stationary bike
Total: 41 miles

Next week will probably be similar. I still don’t have any formal speedwork, but I’m putting in some fast miles in the middle of my 6 mile runs and finishing them off with 50-100 m strides at sub 6 minute mile pace. I’m 20 weeks from the Gasparilla half marathon, so I’ll probably put the formal speedwork into the routine once I’m 18 weeks out.

The weather cooled down tremendously last week and I’ve really been craving the morning runs. I’ve even been running to and from the gym on strength training days instead of warming up on the treadmill – although I’ll admit the run home from the gym on the leg strength day really, really sucked.

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October
03
Posted on 03-10-2010
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

Finally, a race to write about!  The goal for this year’s Race for the Cure was simply to put up a time from which I can base my training paces over the next 20 or so weeks as I train for the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay and the Gasparilla half marathon.  I went in with the plan to run the first 2 miles at 7 min/mile pace and see how I felt.

The traffic to the race was crowded in the morning and I found a spot in a parking garage about a half mile away.  I decided to jog from the parking garage to the race where I would meet up with Richie, Brett and some of my Ragnar Relay teammates.  Near the starting line, I ran into Richie and Brett running the other direction.

“Hey boys, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Just getting a little warmup in,” Richie replied.

I joined up and we ran along at about 8 min/mile pace out along the course and back for about 2.5 miles.  My legs felt very light and the weather was wonderful.  When we returned to the start, I stopped to stretch while they put in another half mile.  In the corral, I ran into Scott and Meredith who were planning on running between 8-9 min/mile pace.

Eventually, Richie and Brett returned and Drew popped up outside the starting corral.  He wasn’t running this year since he’s running the Portland marathon next weekend.  We chatted for a while and I asked him his goal for Portland.

“2:45”, he replied with the caveat that he’s been training a lot on the treadmill this summer.

Soon, we counted down to the start, the start was delayed, we counted, delayed again, and finally we were off.

I’m cruising behind Richie and Brett out of the starting corral.  The pace feels easy even though we’re moving along at about 6:30 min/mile.  Richie is chatting the whole way referring to himself in the third person as “coach” while Brett argues for a faster pace.  Through the first half mile, we make small surges then fall back trying to find our pace.  We make a left turn and head to the end of the St. Petersburg Pier.  I miss the official 1 mile marker, but my Garmin reads 7:00 exactly as it records the first mile.  I report the time to Richie and Brett and we make a lap around the building.

On the other side, they pick up the pace, Richie obviously excited about something as he gesticulates with his hands while making a point to Brett.  They’re about 5 yards ahead of me as I’m holding the 7:00 min/mile pace.  They look back, I remark that they’ve sped up and they ease up, allowing me to catch them.  Shortly, we run up on a young lady at the base of the Pier.  Through Richie’s banter, we find out her name is Leslie and Richie encourages her to stay with our little pack.

My Garmin reads 13:48 through 2 miles, but the 2 mile mark is nowhere to be seen.  We finally see it as we run through a water station 2 miles up the road.  Brett and Richie surge ahead again, leaving Leslie and me about 5 yards behind.  Brett is clearly feeling good and he’s ready to kick the pace up a notch.  Richie goes with him.

“Hey coach, your shoe’s untied” says Leslie.

“Yeah, I’ll stop here, you guys keep going”.

Richie stops and ties his shoe as we pass him.  Brett is about 10 yards ahead now and I’ve pulled a short distance ahead of Leslie.  Soon, Richie flies past me to catch Brett.  They make a left and head up the incline of 1st avenue south.  It’s a familiar route from last winter’s marathon training.  Brett surges up the “hill” and Richie falls off the pace.  I focus on maintaining my 7 minute miles and come through the 3 mile mark (which is actually in the right place) just under 21 minutes.

Up near Tropicana Field, we make a hair pin turn.  Brett is close to 100 yards ahead of me now and Richie is about 50 yards ahead.  I turn and head back down hill.  I look for other people in the crowd on the other side of the road.  Suddenly, Scott pops out, crosses the cones and gives me a high five before popping back into the crowd of people.  It gives me a little charge of energy and I pick up the pace.  I cross the 4 mile mark in about 27:40.

A half mile later, I pass the sign marking 4 miles.  Thankfully, I’ve got the Garmin.  If I were timing myself with a regular watch, I’d be pretty messed up right now.  After a long time of running pretty much by myself, I’m starting to catch some people and I’m now running in a small group.  At the bottom of the hill, we make a left turn and the course flattens out again.  I surge past the group and toward a woman and man running just ahead of me.  I can see Richie in the distance with 4 or 5 other runners, but Brett has disappeared.  I pass the 5 mile mark (which is in the right spot) in about 34:25.

I’m running with a woman and a man now and the woman surges to pass the man.  I tell myself that I’ve got to go with her and I dig down to accelerate passed.   Once we’re clear of the other guy, she eases off and I settle in just behind her.  After about a quarter mile, I put in a surge and pass her.  I can hear her breathing pick up as she makes an effort to stay with me, but I sustain my surge with the aim to catch the group 100 yards ahead.

I can no longer hear the woman’s breathing as I slowly pull some distance on the group ahead.  I can see that Richie is in this group.  We make a right turn back toward the bay and close in on the 6 mile mark.  I’m about 20 yards behind the group now as Richie stops at the  mile mark, circles around and says,

“Go get em Brian”.

I speed up just a little and catch on the group members as two other surge ahead toward the finish.  I pass the first guy and make a left into the finishing chute when I suddenly acquire the most painful stitch I’ve ever felt.  It’s like I’m being stabbed through my lowest two ribs while a 300 pound man sits on my chest.  I can only take very short breaths.  I think about yelling at Alice not to let anyone pass her in the finishing chutes of her cross country races.  All I can think about is heeding my own advice.  I run the last part of the race nearly holding my breath with the sole mission of getting across the finish line before the guy I’ve just passed.  The pain is excruciating and I keep telling myself it will end as soon as I cross the line.

I beat the guy to the line, finishing in 43:06.  The pain doesn’t end, though.  I slow to a walk and take sharp little gasping breaths as I stumble to the water table and meet up with Brett.  It takes about 2 minutes for the stitch to slowly let up, allowing me to breathe normally again.

The race itself was pretty successful.  I was more than 30 seconds slower than last year, but I averaged 6:52 min/mile so basically stayed with my goal.  Now I’ve got a good baseline from which to start my more serious training.

As for the week, it went like this:

Monday: 6 miles easy

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

Wednesday: 5 miles easy

Thursday: Off

Friday: Off + jogging at cross country meet (maybe 2 miles)

Saturday: 3 miles warmup + 6.2 mile race

Sunday: Off

Total: 25ish miles.

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