Posted on 14-12-2011
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

After last week’s promising performance in the Jingle Bell Run, I gave myself permission to head to the park for some mile repeats at threshold pace today. Based on an 18:47 in a 2.9 mile race, my threshold range for 1 mile cruise intervals is between 6:45 and 7:05.

I’ll admit that I was tired this morning and it took a lot of convincing to get myself to the park. My warm-up lap felt good, but after a quick stretch I was ready to drive home and crawl back in bed. I convinced myself to complete four 1 mile repeats with 2 minute walking rests in between. Here’s how they went:

warm-up: 8:30

mile 1: 6:36

mile 2: 6:35

mile 3: 6:39

mile 4: 6:41

cool down: 8:42

Mile 4 was pretty tough and I was really feeling it in my legs. So, my threshold pace predictions were pretty accurate. I probably took the first three a little too fast. The knee held up throughout the entire workout. It was a little sore afterward, but felt better after stretching and massage with “the stick”. I felt pretty wiped out the rest of the day, but it feels good to be back in the game and to be hitting these cruise intervals faster than my planned pace for the Rock & Roll half marathon.

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Posted on 11-12-2011
Filed Under (Races) by Brian

The annual Wednesday night Jingle Bell run has become a tradition for our family and I think I’ve run it for the last four years straight. I’ve taken it fairly seriously in the past, but there are no race numbers, no clock at the finish, and often times several walkers lining up right on the starting line. The run starts on the St. Petersburg Pier and was probably 5K at one time, but as it became more popular, I think they moved the start/finish line further toward the base of the pier to accommodate more people. Thus, I’ve learned to look at it for what it is: a fun run and after a day of reviewing health insurance quotes for my company, I was ready for a fun run.

Still, with the knee on the mend, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to test it out before giving myself the go ahead to start speed workouts in preparation for the 2012 Rock and Roll St. Petersburg half marathon. So, I chatted with a few friends in the crowd at the starting line before moving up closer to the front of the pack as the jingle bells signified the start.

I went out at a brisk, but comfortable pace, not going out of my way to pass people, but accelerating whenever there was an opening in the crowd. Less than a quarter mile from the start, I heard my name called and turned around to see Meredith. I ran backward for a few feet as we briefly chatted, then turned and made my way ahead. There were still people walking on the course as I rounded the corner at the base of the pier, but I soon broke free of the pack. The knee was feeling good, so I started to pick runners off one by one.

I made it through the 1 mile mark in about 6:45, which I thought was pretty good all things considered. My legs were feeling a little sore from the week’s weight training but I was otherwise comfortable. I made my way toward the Northshore pool, passing a few runners along the way and I rounded the halfway point still feeling comfortable.

Gaps were starting to develop between runners, but I wasn’t really very concerned. I was just running on the edge of discomfort. I would accelerate past a runner, then back off slightly, revving my engine into the red briefly, then coasting for a while to recover. When I made my way past the two mile mark, my legs were beginning to feel tired but my breathing was going well, so I passed a few more runners.

When I made it back to the base of the pier, the half a pizza I had eaten just an hour before was starting to weigh on me. I was developing a side stitch, but I knew I only had a about a half mile to go. A police officer walked the median of the road and yelled out our placements. I was in 21st place, which I figured was decent, but in the back of my mind I figured I could probably pass one more person for 20th.

Although I felt myself continue to “stitch up”, I drew close to the runner in front of me, then hammered a hard acceleration. He immediately responded and we both passed the runner in front of him. Content with 20th place and not wanting re injure my knee in a fun run, I let him go and crossed the finish line in 18:47. Had it been a 5K, I would have been ecstatic, but my Garmin read 2.9 miles. The pace was still good for a sub 20 minute 5K, so I was happy with that. Better yet, my knee felt okay (and still does) so it looks like I can give myself the green light for some mile repeats next week.

It was a nice week of training:

Monday: 3 miles easy + lower body weight training

Tuesday: 4 miles easy + upper body and core weight training

Wednesday: 3 miles hard

Thursday: 3 miles easy + full body weight training

Friday: Off

Saturday: 10 miles

Sunday 3 miles easy

Total: 26 miles


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Posted on 02-12-2011
Filed Under (Gear) by Brian

They're like bionic feet.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been on a minimalist kick. I’m not a hard core barefoot runner, but I do believe that a whole lot of padding in the heel of my shoe isn’t helping me a lot and I’ve noticed that running requires a little bit less effort now that I’ve been running almost exclusively in minimalist shoes for over a year.

While I’ve yet to attempt a run in toe shoes, I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of toe socks. So, I obtained a pair of Injinji lightweight toe socks and took them out for a few runs. Like the Cabbage Patch Kid I got for my 7th birthday, my Injinji socks came with a little instruction memo.

Yes, I had a Cabbage Patch Kid.

Actually, I had two: Bernard Travis and Hannibal Victor, which sounds suspiciously like Hannibal Lecter but the thing never tried to kill me or eat me. Cut me some slack. I have an older sister.

In any case, the little memo that came with the socks let me know that the best way to get a feel for the toesocks was to simply get out and about with them. To quote the memo, “your first time wearing Injinji Toesocks may feel a little funny, due to unfamiliarity with the unique fabric-between-the-toes sensation. However, after a few wears and washes, you’ll soon find that they come to feel like a second skin.”

With that advice in hand, I slipped on the toe socks for the first time…or at least I tried to. I was first introduced to Bonnie Consolo by my high school Spanish teacher. She was born without arms and with the absence of hands, she accomplished many tasks such as peeling vegetables and playing the guitar using her very dextrous feet. I’m no Bonnie Consolo. The human hand is a wondrous thing. It is a precision instrument. We often take for granted the amount of control we have over our hands and how effortless it is to quickly and seamlessly slip on a glove. The feet, are more of a blunt instrument that we pound into the ground over and over day after day for our entire lives. It’s a little hard to get those toes going in new directions.

After a minute or two of wrangling, I was able to get the toesocks on my feet and you know what? They felt a little funny. I went for a run and after a little while I forgot I was wearing them. A high knit count makes the lightweight performance toesocks durable despite their ultra-thin fiber construction. They’re composed of Coolmax, Nylon and Lycra so they remain dry throughout the run and retain their 5 toe shape through all the punishment I dish out on the road and in the laundry.

One huge advantage of toesocks is that they position the toes in a more anatomically correct position and prevent skin on skin friction that causes blisters. I was lucky enough to be born anatomically correct, I suppose (thanks mom & dad) and I’ve never had any problems with toe blisters in the past. So, I can’t really speak for the toesocks’ effectiveness in that regard. I will say that the precision stitching in the heel, the arch support and the dual welt band at the ankle do a phenomenal job of keeping the socks in place. There’s no bunching and no slippage at all.

The best thing I can say about these socks is that I really do forget I’m wearing them and I’m not sure I could say anything better about a sock. I mean, who really wants to think about their socks after they’ve put them on? “Second skin” is certainly a perfect description for the fit. The worst thing I can say is that it takes a while to put them on. Fortunately, I’m not so busy that I can’t spare an extra minute to pamper my feet. I suppose they do deserve it after all.

***Disclaimer: The Injinji Toesocks were complimentary, but the opinions expressed are all mine. ***



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