Thursday, August 31, 2006

No good run goes unpunished

As Thomas warned, watch out for those good days because they can mess with the next day's training. Well today, I wasn't exhausted or anything, but I had to deal with the right calf being pretty tight and my right heel hurting just slightly. Looks like I'll be icing both all day today (and stretching).

What started out as a gentle jog as the sun rose brightly over Campobello Island turned into a pretty long, boring, slog of 12 miles. Too bad too since there are days when you like to just go along slowly and enjoy the scenery. Also since Marc told me of a nice 12 miler he ran recently on the carriage roads of Acadia National Park, I was thinking that a slow 12 miler today would fit the bill. But it was not to be. I was hoping Eric would be out but our paths didn't cross and it wasn't long that with the calf bothering me and the pace slow, I got a tiny bit bored and wishing I was home. I should have brought my MP3 player.

But the deed is done, the miles in the log and soon I'll be sipping some coffee and all will be well.

12.15 mile slog in 1:45:31. Wx beautiful, wish I could have enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Like children yelling "faster, faster!"

I knew something was up. Odd as it was, by mile one the legs were sending me odd signals to the effect that they were "fresh". Fresh? It appeared yesterday's easy 10 was making me feel rather vigorous this morning. Nevertheless, caution prevailed as I sampled the mile splits and found that while I may have felt faster, I was still just cruising at a little over an 8 minute pace. Maybe it was just the relative difference between what I had been running these 15 milers at and what I was doing today at a pretty low heart rate. Either way, I was enjoying running quicker and more relaxed than normal.

A 3 loop day, I cleared the first 5.2 in 8:07 pace but needed a time-out at the house for a couple of minutes. But as the pace had increased at the end of the 1st loop I regained the tempo and made my way out onto the 2nd loop. The legs were still requesting more speed, so I obliged and had fun bringing up the speed to a 7:01 pace for the 2nd loop. I couldn't believe how good I was feeling. The heart rate was staying low and the legs kept humming along unfazed by the speed.

Each mile this morning in the cool fog (temperature 48F) seemed to glide by as the legs urged me on. (Faster, faster!) I whisked by the house onto lap #3 and brought the pace per mile down to 6:34 for the final 5 miles. The lungs were in the control, the legs responding, and only a slight calf tightening in the final mile. Even the hills felt less steep and shorter.

I finished in 1:50:00 for an average 7:17 for 15.1 miles. I was very pleased. This workout showed up out of nowhere. Crazy legs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Drizzly 10

Just the thought of running 'only' 10 miles made me smile as I left the house in the pre-dawn darkness amid the drizzle. I planned on running quicker today but with no target pace in mind. I took it easy up the 1st mile hill and then added some pace for mile two. Mile two passed in 7:36 and it's funny how with the extra mileage that feels like a pretty quick pace. However I was relaxed and feeling very good with the exception of a tight calf muscle and some tenderness in the hamstring. I decided that I would be sure not to stress either of these muscles with any foolish notion of running a certain pace.

As luck would have it, I met up with Eric on top of Redoubt hill and we ran together, a nice easy relaxed pace that answered my need for "quicker" but within the limits of some muscle fatigue that was showing on mile 2. By the end of the run I had averaged 8:15 per mile with a nice low HR of 136. It is most likely why I feel so good just now. No pain or fatigue. Like I didn't run at all...

10.45 miles in 1:26:14. Wx drizzly, 59F.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Easy but Hard

Went out this morning into the drizzle to shuffle 15 miles. My course was two out & back's up Redoubt hill. To help get me going in the darkness, I loaded The Federalist Papers onto the MP3 player. You can find this download at Americana Phonic. By mile 5 I wanted my thoughts to myself so I turned it off.

The run was very easy with a low HR without much notice of yesterday's 22. That is until mile 13 or so. Then for some reason, I was out of gas. I think I was a little dehydrated. I didn't take any water so I only had a drink half way through. Sometimes that works fine, but I paid for it near the end of the run. It didn't slow my pace down (I wasn't going very fast to begin with) but when I finished I was glad to be done.

15 miles 2:12:32. 9:11 pace first half / 8:26 pace 2nd half.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ladies & Gentlemen: We are leaving the comfort zone

Put the aerobic system through some stress this morning. I felt good through 17.5 miles, but that last 4.5 was hard. Took a lot of focus on the task at hand along with a tolerance of discomfort. You know you're doing it right when what was "fine - feeling good" two seconds ago descends into the pits of drudgery and you force yourself to do the work. And work it is. The good news it takes 17 miles to bring me to this point. The point where the fuel is depleted, legs are tired, and even the lungs could use a breather. But that's the point of Lydiard's program - training and adapting the body to long bouts of aerobic exercise with the purpose of increasing the aerobic threshold. Longer running at faster paces.

Yes, the Sunday long. I still claim it's easier than Friday's 18 (the Friday 18 miler has the "why oh why??" aspect but the long run carries a sense of legitimacy). I ran with Aretakis around Boyden's Lake and along the ocean. It was good to run with him again. He beat me by 30 seconds at the International 5 miler (results here) a couple of weekends ago. A 2:39 marathoner a few years back, he's a good training partner. (He's running New York in November). While the whole Team Boyden wasn't together, it was still good to be running on those empty country roads. One of the dangers of course is dogs. They tend to roam freely up country.

We talked the whole 17.5 (where Jon left me to finish at 18) and we ran an easy gait of just under 8 / mile. It makes the miles go by much quicker with company! I think next week Mike might be available for the long run.

Poor Marc flew into Bangor this morning and wanted to run long in Calais. But my schedule just wouldn't let me. Just as well. I talked to him after his flight and he's tired from the flight and early departure. Bangor and Calais aren't exactly next door - there's 100 miles of forest between them. So it would have been quite a drive just to run with a friend. But that's the kind of guy he is - always willing to go the extra mile. I suspect he is now napping somewhere at the Bangor Folk Festival.

The after-effects of the long run are starting to tone down a little. This is good since I'm usually useless for the rest of the day. 

These singles are doing the trick. I feel like some endurance is creeping back into the legs. 22.1 miles 2:58:27 (8:04 pace). Weather cool.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Some 1200 meter repeats

Today's 10 miler was done at the local airport. The airport is 3/4 mile long or 1200 meters on the conservative side. The plan was to run 7 repeats and 7 recovery jogs back up the airstrip. No stress, just a quick turnover and "in control". The weather was beautiful with little wind and temp's in the 70's. The splits (w/pace):

4:38 (6:13)
4:39 (6:14)
4:36 (6:10)
4:42 (6:18)
4:45 (6:22)
4:54 (6:34)
4:52 (6:32)

My average pace for recovery was 10:37. Only one plane tried to land while I was running. It's a popular airstrip for small planes hopping into the United States from Canada since Eastport has its own Customs and Immigration outpost due to our shipping port and summer border crossing. Planes land, clear Customs, then continue on their U.S. journey. Anyway, it's always a thrill to be running along and have aircraft land beside you. A slower version of Top Gun. Perhaps "Top Run"?

"Negative, Ghostrunner. The pattern is full..."

Today's 10.8 miles(1:32:36 HR 151 / 8:34 avg pace) ended my week at 104.6 miles. I ran .8 miles less than less week but it took me 7 minutes longer. Last week I ran an average 8:10 pace and this week an 8:18 pace. I took an 15 extra minutes on my long run this week. But my Parrot Predictor dropped by 14 minutes. Itemizing the repeat splits contributes to this since the computer can "grab" the lower times and not have them averaged into a slower total time. I don't rely on these "predictors" but it does add some fun to the numbers. For example, this week my predictor says 3:06 marathon. If I fiddle with the splits above and Yasso-ize them I come up with a 3:10 performance. Some more fiddling with time equivalents predicts 3:04 to 3:11. My recent 5 mile race predicts 3:02.

The range between 3:02 and 3:11 is very large but notice anything? There's no awesome prediction at 2:50 or any that is a lot slower. And if you grant greater predictive power to these numbers when they are produced from high mileage training of many weeks they can be fun to track. I admit that they can really throw off a low mileage runner. Imagine running 27 miles per week rather fast and having the parrot predict a low marathon finish time. Disaster waiting to happen.

My intention with this training cycle (of 5 short weeks) leading up to the Wineglass marathon has always been to "salvage" a 3:10 from my summer of injury. I'm under no illusions that I can really run my fastest ever etc. However, I'm feeling that, given the right racing strategy, I can cover the distance in under 3:10. I feel that way now. Hopefully, this will even solidfy further as I continue the high mileage.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A 3 Loop Example

Well the 18 miler has come and gone and all is still well. When the alarm when off at 4am didn't I groan. "Not the 18 miler!" But yes, it is Friday and the 18 miler has to be done. Some coffee, cereal, and procrastination finally saw me out the door.

For psychological purposes I went for the 3 loop workout divided like this:

Loop 1: 3.05 miles
Loop 2: 10.2 miles
Loop 3: 4.95 miles

Total 18.2 miles in 2:34:07 (8:28 pace) HR 136.

The whole run was relaxed but those first miles are just a shuffle. For the first loop my pace averaged 9:04. An 8:26 pace saw me through loop #2 followed by an 8:01 pace for the final 4.95 miles. The numbers don't work exactly because embedded in the total time is about 45 seconds when I was stopped drinking water at the house.

Only 10 miles tomorrow. Yeehah.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Morning 12.2

I finally did it and got up to run in the morning. I wanted to put some space between today's workout and tomorrow's - which has to be run in the morning since it is 18 miles. I can't believe the dreaded 18 mile workout has arrived again. But no need to think about tomorrow, it will be here soon enough.

I had an early meeting this morning I had to attend, forcing me to get out of bed at 3:45am. I drank some coffee, ate a bowl of cereal and headed out around 4:30 to do the scheduled 12 miles. Jogging gently the for the first 3 miles, I stopped by the house for a break in 26:26. The coffee wasn't settling very well. It wakes up more than one system it seems.

However, the remaining 9 miles was a nice progression running 3.05 splits in 22:38, 21:22, and 20:05. Total time 1:30:55, 12.2 miles HR 145.

It's amazing how well I feel after the warmup of a few miles. The plan calls for this run to be "high aerobic" and I always decide about the pace depending how I feel. Letting the body naturally increase the pace (knowing the distance isn't that long) allows me to run faster without overdoing it. Tomorrow I'll be taking it easy for the bulk of the run. Occasionally I'll let the pace increase on the longer runs in the final miles. This serves 3 purposes: 1) It gets the run over with, 2) it is good training for the legs, and 3) it inserts what I call a "natural" element into th workout - where the body glides to the pace of least resistance. Sometimes, holding back the pace for the entire 18 miles can turn the run into a lengthy slog. But I always go into the these runs slowly and gently.

I learned from Tuesday's mistake of going out too quickly and today the paces seemed easier and more in control. A good reminder for proper racing technique on marathon day. Exaggerated ease for that first mile than let the pace come to you. Then power home if there's gas in tank in those final miles.

I should write this down.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I wear my sunglasses at night

Well I might as well have. I couldn't see a thing by the end of tonight's run. The cloud cover was complete and the Deep Cove Road was without a firefly to break the pitch. And the deer... the deer were holding some sort of clandenstine meeting that I joined accidentally. The clatter of hooves let me know I was uninvited. I didn't know if I should duck, dodge, or bolt. I couldn't see!

Really glad I got the 15 miler in this evening. Yesterday my right knee was a little sore from the tough 22 miler. I blame the course. I iced it, elevated it, and it seemed ok. However, I decided before I went to bed that I wouldn't run in the morning to be sure it was ok. A good call as the knee was not perfect and I iced it at work. I am ok with taking a day off - it is bound to happen and it is all part of the training.

My grandmother invited me out for supper tonight. So I sat and ate an extremely high carb meal that she is famous for and we chatted away. When I got home, my knee was fine. Uh oh. Now I wanted that run. Part of me was tired and wanted to just pad around the house. But the runner in me said "If it's not hurt, we train". I put on the running gear and jogged out there to tackle the 15 miler.

It took awhile, but I finally got motivated somewhere out there. With the increased mileage, I find it takes a little while to get "warm in the collar" and get keyed up on the task at hand. But once I do, the workout takes on real meaning. Another workout done in the long, long line of workouts needing to be completed to build my endurance and raise my threshold. I kept the HR down as suggested by Lydiard for the workout following the long run. The knee was slightly tight but absolutely ok to run on. I'm starting to feel the little aches and pains here and there. I try to be conscious of what's being worked a little too much and adjust or tend.

Anyway, by the end of the run, I was running effortlessly - like I hadn't run 22 miles the day before. I did get thinking about my meal I had just eaten. Boiled potatoes and bread were the main course and I am sure this contributed to the absense of any fuel problems. On easy days, I don't seem to have problems running right after I eat. However, on a hard day it doesn't work quite so well... This running effortlessly thing: this is one of the tricks to good training. I find there is a certain mile marker where I feel pretty good, running strong, yet getting a sense of fatigue - especially if I calculate how many miles I have left to do in the workout. It is imperative that I run through through this temptation to stop. No! How can I work the aerobic system if I stop before I've run the mile I came out to do - the last one? As long as the muscular and skeletal system give the green light - I've got to build those blood vessels!

At least that's the line I've been feeding myself. 15.05 miles in 2:03:01 HR 142.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A long, long time in the Moosehorn

Did my 22 miles in the Moosehorn this morning. It felt good to be off the pavement - until the last 7.5 miles. Then the rocks and general unevenness of the road were getting to be a real pain. The course is sort of a figure eight- 2.7 mile loop in one direction then a 4.8 mile loop in the other. Do this three times and you get 22.5 miles.

I've posted about the Moosehorn before. It still is a wonderful place to run. No traffic, no people, just empty dirt roads winding their way through forests, meadows, brooks, ponds, and fields. The weather was misty this morning. And this mist turned into an absolute downpour for the final 4 miles. I was dragging.

The plan was the take it really easy for the first lap with an HR target in the 130's - which is basically recovery pace. The 2nd lap was to be in the 140's and the 3rd lap back to recovery pace. This worked pretty well. I needed the slower pace - especially in the beginning. The 2nd lap went well because it went about 7 minutes faster (it's always nice to be closer to being done). I slowed it back down for the final 7.5 miles to avoid any muscular fatigue etc. I was a little low on energy so I chewed on a bagel as I jogged along. Don't know if it made much of a difference but it gave me something to do.

The downpour matched my mood when the skies opened. I was dreaming of pavement and wondering why I hadn't noticed just how steep these hills were before. The little rocks I had cruised over twice before, now stuck there pointy edges into the soles of my feet. And to top it off, the downpour had the immediate effect of eroding deep pathways in the road so I had to pick my footing often. I was quite glad to be done.

The nice thing about the Moosehorn is the public restroom. It is large and clean and the perfect place to change out of soaked running gear and into warm clothes. This I did and speedily made my way into Calais to have a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Once I drank that down, I headed back to Eastport for a hot bath.

This running thing can really eat up a day... 22.5 miles 3:15:22 HR 141.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Easy 12

Met up with Eric this morning and ran an easy 12.4 in 1:45:12. HR 137. Beautiful sunrise. Didn't get a good sleep last night and was tempted to sleep in. But I figured I'd be tired in the evening as well as the morning so I got up. I'm glad I did.

To shake off the cobwebs I made some coffee and had a bowl of cereal before I went out. Knowing I was going to run easily this morning and a shorter distance than yesterday, I figured the risk of a little discomfort from the cereal / milk was worth the sugar shot. Together with the coffee and I was good to go.

The plan was 4 loops of a 3 mile course grabbing water at each pass. However I met up with Eric at 2.5 miles and turned around with him. We ran the rest of his course which deposited me back at my house at 12.4 miles. So no water today. With all the talking I didn't notice it much but now I've been thirsty all morning.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Easy 10 miler

Having run the 15 miler last night, I was tired on my early morning 10 this morning. When the alarm went off I debated deferring the run to tonight but I resisted. 

And I'm glad I did resist. Mom invited me out for supper tonight. So that would have made an evening run next to impossible or at least shortened it up.

The legs were a little tired so I went very easily and the rest of me didn't mind. 10.4 miles in 1:29:54 in the rain. HR 137.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Switching to Singles

Ran my 15 miler this evening with cool temps and a slight southerly breeze. Had a little chill getting off the motorcycle tonight so I wore long sleeves for the run. Haven't done that since March I think. Course was along the ocean and then up atop one of the hills for the turnaround. Each lap 7.9 miles so I ran it twice. With dusk falling, the deer were out in force, traveling back to where they'll spend the night no doubt.

Eastport is not hilly. Well, it's hilly but all the hills are short. This becomes apparent any time I race in another town. It seems everybody else's hills are larger, steeper, and longer. The only time Eastport's sudden up & downs come in handy is when a race has similar terrain. It can wear you out if you aren't prepared for it. But when it comes to those long, drawn out hills, not in my repetoire. I mention this because the turnaround for this particular course is probably the highest point in Eastport - and I laugh because the hill's a bruiser yet it might seem mild to those in other areas that are forced to run two miles at a time either going up or down.

I slept in this morning because the 4am check still declared sore legs from yesterday's 22 miler. I didn't want to do any damage to the muscular / skeletal system so I took advantage of an empty house and planned the 15 miler for this evening after work. There is danger in such a plan since it took a little more will power to A) get started, and B) run the 2nd lap. But it got done and now I'm glad of it. I didn't run at lunch either so as not to jeopardize the evening run.

Which leads me to my post title - switching to singles. I've been mulling over my training or more accurately what I want my training accomplish and I think I'll try focusing on singles just now. Meaning - get my core mileage in with the single runs and only add the doubles as easy breathers / stretchers. Lately, I've found that while I run both daily runs easily, I count on the double to hit the number. For me, I think I get greater benefit by the increased specificity of the longer single runs. Now with that confidence building 22 miler under my belt, I think I'm ready to slide into the longer daily run again. Plus this will address a core weakness right now: aerobic conditioning due to time off from injury.

Unfortunately, it is easier to plan such a training regimen than it is to follow through. The number one limiting factor is time. As more and more time gets taken up by running, the value (or cost) of the run increases.  The number two limiting factor is the stress it applies to the muscular system and the skeletal system. Both of these systems being pretty much adequate for the sport by nature of being human, stressing these systems can become counter productive rather quickly. So while I purposely stress the aerobic system with longer single workouts, I need to take care to limit muscular damage along with bone & tissue issues. That is why I'll limit the doubles based on how I feel and take care to not push the muscles beyond themselves. The aerobic system on the other hand, is expected to be tired.

15.8 miles 2:06:27 150 HR

Saturday, August 12, 2006

International 5 Mile Race Report

I am going to try to beat Mike to be the first to post about the race. Unfortunately, his will still be more interesting.

There were several titles to this post that I could have used such as:

*You Get What You TRAIN For.*

*It could've have been worse.*

*Water in the mouth, not up the nose please.*

But all of these sound like I didn't do well or have a good time which is untrue. I had a blast. All three titles are technically correct but carry the wrong message.

First, this was my first race back from a long, long injury. And training has just started getting back. If I thought getting through the injury was a "long road", guess what? Getting back to my conditioning before last April's horrid half is going to be a long road as well. I dug out the HR monitor the other day to include the data in my log again as I finally got back to daily training. And the numbers were not good!! Morning, noon, or night, the HR was either 10bpm higher than "usual" or my pace was almost 60sec slower per mile. That's right, the old MP pace has been shot dead. If I try running 6:40's now, I'll be DNF at mile 18. No surprise, but having the numbers staring at me gives me the chills. The good news: I am seeing immediate improvement "day to day" as the the paces are getting easier and the HR is slowing coming back down to earth during my easy outings.

Second, it indeed could have been worse. I was pleased with my performance. Scared I'd be sucking wind by mile 3, I determined to run the initial miles in control. I was successful in avoiding the temptation to surge up to my friends, Jon and Ozzie up ahead a few dozen yards. This plan worked very well. By the end of the race I was running as fast as I could go but I could have kept going. So while I hit a pace ceiling, the steady pace throughout the race allowed me to catch anyone dying in the final miles.

It didn't go exactly as planned however. I had arbitrarily chosen 90% maxHR as the pace I thought I should start off at and work the race around there. That didn't work because I felt in control at a higher heart rate so I decided to let the HR be elevated as long as my breathing was controlled and my form stayed smooth. But elevated it went! Right to the tip top and stayed there. I always thought my max was 182 but it turns out I hit 186 going up the last big hill. How about that? Anyway, after 1 mile or so I hit 180 and I couldn't shake it. It would drop slightly but bounce right back at the slightest incline. Needless to say, I was concerned about a possible crash in the final miles. But the breathing was controlled, I could talk, and the form was smooth. I did, however, feel like I was on the brink of running "out of control" if I went one smidgen faster. In fact, if I even *thought* of trying to run a little quicker I'd start getting nauseous.

So the standout lessons here are:

1. I need weeks of miles to bring my HR back down to where it belongs. There are pace ceilings and I hit mine.
2. It was the right thing to do to stay in control in the early miles. This is one of my few steady pace races and I enjoyed it. Especially since at the end I felt like I could continue.
3. My endurance training over the last few years has not deserted me. Even though I was at my limit pace-wise, I handled the elevated HR over the entire distance without crashing. Good news.

Thirdly, I had trouble at the 2nd water stop. For some reason, I attempted to ingest the water via my nose. Lots of sputtering. But I laughed at myself.


It was good to get back to the race scene. All the familiar faces were there - too many to list. Marc was up from NY and not to spoil his news but he got an 11 second PR for the distance. He hung out with Mike for 4 miles and then dropped the hammer to clinch the PR. Nice job! It looks like Team Boyden will be back in training come September. The summer schedules will quiet down (and my injury resolved) and we can return to those chilly Sunday morning runs around Boyden Lake.

The race itself went smoothly - except for the winner. He had such a lead than when he went across the border into Canada they stopped him! The rest of us got in as they wrote down our numbers as we zoomed by. Getting back into the U.S. was smooth as well. Just smile and wave! However immigration did come down to the finish line and wait for one in particular to finish and took him off by himself to ask him a couple of questions.

And finally... I won my age group! Placing 6th overall in 31:00 I hit the *sweet spot* of age groupings. Of the 5 ahead of me #1 and #2 were in their 20's, #3 and #4 were in their 50's, and #5 was in his 40's. Hah!