Saturday, September 23, 2006

Time to Goof Off

That's what Marc and I decided today. Done all I can do. Rest, recover, repeat - on tap for the upcoming 7 days to Marathon #9.

I closed the door on training today by breezing through 5 miles in 30:42. The legs are feeling fresh, strong, ready to compete. 57F and a steady rain accompanied me through the first mile in 6:34, 2nd in 6:04, 3&4 6:05 apiece, and shutting the lid with a 5:55 headwind finish. Avg HR @ 169 or 87%.

Tempo just doesn't feel the same anymore.

When I finished, I just stood there, hands on my hips, face to the sky, rain pouring down. I'm ready. Bring it on.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Recovery 9

Today I padded 9 miles in 1:15:13 - something like an 8:22 pace with an HR of 138. Each time I put an average HR in the log, I scroll up to look at runs having similar efforts and the resulting pace. I look for changes, either good or bad, or consistency. I also look at my comments to see how I felt or if anything extraordinary was happening (hot day, hard course, etc). So today I was pleased to see that 138 corresponded almost exactly to the same pace a few days ago on a similar recovery effort.

My recovery runs tend to log miles at a slow pace. When I think of these runs, I think this is one of the best changes I made to my running program in this latest cycle. Lydiard (like most others) uses the hard/easy rule on a two-day cycle. Insert the HR monitor and you have high aerobic and low aerobic running alternately. When I first got the HR monitor, I calculated high aerobic to be about 75 - 80% maxHR and low to be 70 - 75% maxHR. In hindsight, I don't think I was quite ready to run the low aerobic paces that quickly.

Although I didn't recognize it at the time, I now realize I wasn't recovering from the 80% efforts fully when I ran the next day at 75% or even 70%. Too narrow a gap between the two efforts for my level of conditioning. So this time, I have run a pedestrian 65% or so low aerobic pace on the easy days - making for some slow times. However, I have found this has really perked up my running and I'm getting better quality where it counts.

In the future, I hope to run at relatively faster paces (and at slightly higher HR levels) on the easy days and still recover. But this I will take slowly because I have noticed this time, once I dropped the pace on the low days, I was able to A) complete the 100 mile weeks without injury and B) run faster on the high days.

We need to be really critical and honest about where our conditioning level really is. Not just in terms of our latest PR, but also (and maybe especially) our ability to sustain the training regimen we have chosen. If we can't recover, then the possibility exists the problem lies with the easy days and not the hard days. As the training cycle wears on and you notice that the spread between the hard paces and the easy paces is shrinking, it's a red flag and it's time to evaluate the paces.

I've been chewing on this for a few days now as I think about my marathon strategy, articles I have read, and my past training cycles. For example, I know what my 80% maxHR number is and I also know that an average Joe runs his marathon at about this level. But I also know that if I go to 80% too soon in the marathon without building up the heart rate slowly, I am so inefficient a fuel burner during those initial miles that I can possible run out of fuel before the race is finished. These are things I have learned from experience. But why the inefficiency? That is where I need to recognize that my level of conditioning is not refined enough (yet) to bring up the pace that quickly. And conditioning can only be improved through training.

So naturally, while I was pondering the effect of my conditioning on race fuel efficiency, it got me thinking about training within the current confines of this level. It's an inhibiting factor and one that cannot be ignored, skipped, or made to improve out of sheer will. It must be improved through proper training - which means stress & relief (repeat).

So some thoughts out loud: slow down on the easy days if you're not already cooking at your chosen distance. You can't force recovery - impossible. And the hard days? Like any engineering project (this time your own body) the more you focus on one thing, the more it costs in something else. So if you're running 7 miles fast but can't keep it for 12, then figure out what distance you're training for. It might not be the one you think.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

(Running) Harder Easier

Ah, so this is what happens when I reduce the miles. I run faster with less effort. Hmmmmm.

More sleep, less miles. Lovin' it.

Today I awoke at 5:30 and went out to the local Irving Mainway for some coffee. Hung out and chatted with friends, came home and put out the trash, tidied the house and then I went for a run. All this time. What to do??

This morning's 50% workout called for 6 miles at high aerobic. I felt great the whole way, running a two loop progression with the last 2 miles just under 6:00/mile. The first loop averaged a 6:40 pace and the second a 6:06 pace.

I lost about 5 - 10 seconds on mile 4 (split 6:22) when I thwarted an ambush by some deer of prey. The lure deer was on the left side of the road as I was running briskly up the rise. It's head was tilted and the big wide doe eyes staring at me benignly in a sort of inquisitive manner. A harmless little ol' deer just wondering what the runner is doing. Hah. On the right side of the road was another deer hiding behind a tree waiting for the moment when I would enter the trample zone and then together they would run me down in a flurry of flying fur and feet!

They have almost succeeded a few times in the dark when I've stumbled into their trap. Their snorts and the trampling sound of hooves on pavement can really put the scare into you. But today, just as I was swerving right to avoid the bait deer, I spotted the killer deer and I stopped short. We all stared at each other, me swiveling my head from one deer to the other. Finally, they knew the game was up and they trotted peacefully away. Whew!

6.1 miles 38:54 (6:23 avg pace) HR 162.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Taper Run Two

The run was as boring as the title to this post.

7.5 miles in 1:03:11 HR 133.

Guiltily sleeping in, running 50% of the distance, not breaking a sweat.

Well, I broke a sweat. But it's odd to be running and be done in such short order. Here's hoping that while I accumulate rest and recovery the body is readying the cumulative effect of running all those miles the past few weeks.

Fog this morning. Couldn't see a thing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Taper Run One

Running 50% schedule this week, so today's normal brisk 10 was shortened to 5. It was nice to pad out there at a decent pace with the additional sleep. My HR was ok this morning. Not great but a little bit back to normal.

My first mile in 7:40 might as well have been a sprint I'm so use to shuffling the first mile. At mile 2 I was at 6:34 but slowed it down for the next 2.2 averaging 6:50's followed by a brisk 6:18 last mile.

Felt good and glad to be on taper. 5.2 miles in 35:35 (6:51 pace) HR 151.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Soft Landing

One of my favorite activities as a 5 year old was to perch on the arm of the couch and leap into super hero flight onto a pile of blankets. Everything was in place: danger, courage, thrill, and a soft landing.

Well that's what this taper is going to be for me. Time for a break. Time to let recovery do its work. Time to sleep.

I haven't posted since Thursday morning after the 12 mile drag. And with good reason. I've been caught up in a whirlwind of medical problems with my youngest daughter. It all came to a satisfactory conclusion today as we were finally discharged from the hospital after 5 days. And to boot: today was also the day my eldest daughter's cast came off her leg from her ankle break/surgery from 4 weeks ago. 

Tried to run on Friday to get 18 miles in but aborted the run at 7. Tired, hot, no energy. Superstitious, I canceled Saturday's 10 miler (I tend to do this when I bag a run the day before). Sunday, Mike invited me for a 17 mile 'long run'. My schedule called for this to be my final 22 miler but 17 miles sounded perfect to me. So we met up for a beautiful run around Boyden Lake and along the shore of the Passamaquoddy Bay. 17 was enough. The heart rate was slightly elevated for the effort and I was more than ready to declare my status as taper.

No run today but I was able to take my XC team to their meet. One of my runners won. She executed her race plan to a T. Tomorrow I intend on enjoying a nice 5 miler - sleeping in and all that.

With all that has gone on I am ready for that soft landing as I plummet from the heights of my training these past few weeks. I am sure it's there. It's just I'm still falling...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Morning Drag

That's all you can call this morning's 12 miler. That's the trouble with the schedule being fiddled with. I was unable to get out yesterday until the early evening, finishing around 8pm. That means this morning's run at 5am was only 9 hours after my last run.

Knowing this, I planned on dialing down the effort to full recovery mode a was literally shuffling down the street on the take off. I don't know if I broke 9 mins/mile on this run, but if I did it wasn't for long. So the run dragged on for ever and I couldn't wait to be done. It took almost as long to do 12 miles this morning as it did 15 last night.

The sun rose while I was out there somewhere and I was reminded that the sun set on my run last night. But I am glad to be back in the morning routine again. It assures that the run will be completed. I got hiccups out there today. That was annoying.

12.2 miles 1:50:36 HR 128. Very slow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Must rush. Did 10.45 this morning in 1:17:04 (7:22 pace). Very cool. Still wearing mittens. HR 150, felt good.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Running With Bread

Is not easy.

My thought was to run 4 comfort loops and on the fifth, stop by the Irving and pick up a loaf of bread and run with it.

So that's what I did except for a small diversion around 7 miles to run with Eric on his course. This added about 1/2 mile to my total. Anyway, I picked up the bread and my vision of just throwing the loaf under my arm and running home quickly fell apart. I mean the bread was falling apart. I didn't realize that I'd squash the poor slices via this method so I ended up holding the loaf by its neck. I must have been quite a sight. Running the last 1.2 miles with a loaf of Wonder bread swinging from my hand.

Plus I was wearing mittens. Today it was 47F and while not cold in March, this is considered cold in September. No frost in Eastport but I heard they had some up country. After yesterday's blow out effort, what I really wanted today was to be comfortable. So I put on the old standby running mittens (wool, green), an outer shell, and I was off. Nice and toasty and SLOW.

I was feeling it today. Nothing bad but my first mile was 9:41 which represented a runner gently landing his feet on the ground ever so softly. I know I like to start slowly, but this beat the record. Oh well. I deserve it. The whole run was a slow one but I didn't feel any lingering pain from the race and I didn't feel the miles until I was holding a loaf of bread. My loop paces were: 9:09 / 8:43 / 9:00 / 7:58 / 7:55 (partially w/bread).

Looks like I was able to run a little more smoothly after 9.5 miles. What's nine miles to warm up between friends? We'll see how tomorrow progresses. I'll be sure to stay within myself to make sure I recover fully from yesterday. Still a bit in a cloud. I had to take a nap yesterday just to make it through the day. These races really expend some energy. I'm glad I didn't plan on a second workout.

And lastly, I was startled by my own shadow this morning. It seems the moon was positioned high, high above catching the sunlight I could not see and reflecting it down on me at such an acute angle that my shadow was this condensed dark blob running just left and behind me. So at one point, crossing an otherwise pitch dark road (County Road from my race report), I thought a small animal (skunk) was running right next to me. I jumped, and so didn't my shadow proving there was only two of me.

Wacky 15.75 miles in 2:15:46. HR 136.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Smokin' Lamp is...ON!

The rocket got lit at the quarter mile and I was on one heck of a ride. I didn't dare look down, oxygen gone, just blue lights as the world blurred...

Salmon Festival 5k Results: Win in 17:06

What a race. Disclaimer upfront: I think the course is a few yards short of a true 5k. I've called the distance 3.05 miles in my log to be conservative.

The Eastport Salmon Day 5k began at 9:30 with a blip from the lead cruiser's siren. The crowd rushed down the hill. At a quarter mile the street turns sharp left and I was pacing behind the lead 3. Ignition. I wasn't waiting around. And without a thought for consequences the rockets were lit and I took off like the finish was in sight.

I redlined immediately and was past mile one in 5:35. I was starting to wonder whose body I had borrowed when I didn't fall apart. My mouth open, breathing hard, spittle making its way out on its own, I tore down every decline and battled the next three rolling hills with a steep one at 1.75 miles. I was running as fast as I thought I could.

But there was more. I topped the steep hill and onto County Road - 1/4 mile slight up, 1/4 mile slight down. I had no idea where my competition was. I didn't look left, right, or behind. Nowhere but on the blue lights of the police cruiser ahead of me. I dug. Like a wild man running I hit the marker in 5:17 (short?) and then pushed and pushed and pushed to the end of County Road where the course dives.

Where's the death??? I couldn't believe I was still trucking at the red line. Occasionally, I felt like I was struggling but I kept finding more. Each time I'd doubt I'd just push a little harder. Just willing myself to fall apart.

Down a steep hill I forced myself to lean as forward as possible and avoid the "rest" that is so tempting. Sharp turn left and up and I thought "here it comes" but death held off allowing me to crest the hill just above my neighborhood.

Adreneline rush! Oxygen or no, I kept it together. As soon as I was around the corner I felt the rushing
approach of fatigue. I struggled up a small rise to the old railroad bed for the final 1/4 mile to the finish. A final push but no kick brought it to an end 48 seconds faster than my best time here in '04 and my fastest pace in a race since I was 20 years old.

The miles are paying off.

I guess I can say the race went to "strategy" since my plan (if there was one) was to run hard the 1st mile, faster the second, and pour it on for the third. I've been planning to run in this manner after my 3x1 mile repeats last weekend. I kept thinking that if I could only string 3 miles together at my maximum, what a good race I would have. Then I started dreaming about the race all week. In each of these dreams the same part of the course (the 1/2 mile stretch on County Road) was the main focus. In the dream I'd push and push and push to the point of exhaustion - and I'd wake up tired.

The difference between this race and the other Salmon Day 5k's I have run is this time I wanted to test the "non-tiring" aspect of Lydiard training. Was it really true that the training could bring you to a level where you could hold your limit longer? Sure enough. I didn't feel like I could move much quicker but the burning in the lungs was gone. When I finally started to feel the wave of fatigue it was in the legs not the lungs. So I took a chance and ran at a level that previously would have been unsustainable for 2 miles let alone 3.

3.05 miles in 17:06. No HR data as my strap came loose in that 1st quarter mile and I had to ditch it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ho Hum

Another 100 mile week finished. This makes 4 in a row and it is new territory for me. I’m feeling very good and have experienced rapid “re-improvement”. (Meaning I feel like I’ve gotten back what I lost since my injury last April followed by the horrible self-induced stupid ITB injury I got immediately following the May marathon.) What an idiot I was to try to run out my disappointment. Lesson learned.

I was going to celebrate finishing 4 weeks in a row, but after reading Mike’s recent post and his linking to Greg in Chicago and Eric in North Dakota, I realized that 4 weeks is absolutely nothing in the whole scheme of things. It is merely a quarter of what needs to be done to adequately train to race a marathon. So the truth is, the 5 weeks of good training toward Wineglass should be just enough to let me run the entire distance smoothly and at a pretty good pace. But no breakthrough – no matter what my imagination and fantasy may tell me.

I knew this anyway; but sometimes when you’re feeling fast on a training run you start to deceive yourself about your marathon ability. This is when it is good to read the blogs of people that really run the high miles week after week. Look at their marathon times. They train 18 weeks of steady, hard, long miles to get there. Not some foolish 5 week miracle regimen.

The good news is: look at their marathon times. If you train, it will come. Looking at my recent marathon times 3:03 – 3:14, it apparent I have fallen into the “sit around until the last minute then train like mad” routine. By doing high miles a few weeks prior to the race, I’m able to fake some respectability at the finish line – but barely. I should be doing better and again I resolve to get it done. (It’s too bad that my resolutions need to be reaffirmed).

Now, that might be a little harsh. I’m a learn-by-failing sort of guy, so this “plateau” just above the 3 hour mark is full of learning opportunities that I’d be without if it didn’t happen. A brief look at lessons learned from the past 5 marathons in no particular order:

• Steady pacing will achieve your goal (’04 MDI 3:05)
• Running too fast in the first half will chew you up into dog meat (’05 Boston DNF, ’05 Holyoke 3:03 PR –was on pace for 2:56-, ’06 Holyoke 3:09 –running beyond myself)
• A conservative 1st half can lead to awesome negative splits (’05 Cape Cod 3:14)
• Flitting the summer away and training for only 3 weeks will net what you deserve (’05 Cape Cod 3:14 – just grateful I’d didn’t try anything foolish)

So, with one week of good training left before the 2 week taper, I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to run the high mileage. I have definitely gained back my endurance and speed (through not tiring). Thank goodness. It has not been easy, but routine and perseverance has pulled this one through. However, my racing strategy needs to be in line with what is possible given my training. It is good but not great. I’m in a delicate spot of knowing too much about disaster but standing here with a 3 hour ticket in my hand.

At times like these, it is easier to just think about the super superb training I am going to do throughout the winter. I won’t be causing hullabaloo about 4 weeks of 100 miles. No, I’ll be logging and logging and logging until my excel sheet bursts. But if this really happens, I may get my wish to run with the fast guys. Heh.

Today's run in 2 sections back to back. 3 miles with the High School XC team and 7 by myself. Both extremely easy (I have a 5k race tomorrow).

10.45 miles 1:31:42


The last four weeks I have run the same workout on the same day of the week. This has helped keep the mileage up. As reported, the HR has been steadily dropping. My Parrott predictor dropped to 3:00 this week as well. My average pace is interestingly high.

Week 1 105.4 miles average pace = 8:10
Week 2 104.6 miles average pace = 8:18
Week 3 103.2 miles average pace = 8:09
Week 4 103.6 miles average pace = 8:01

This week will be a little different. Tomorrow is a 5k race so that'll delete the long run. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday I'll be out of town on business. That'll do some damage as well. Looks like a drop week in the making.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Up 5 Minutes Early - Out 15 Minutes Late

A bit foggy this morning - both outside and inside my head. Today is the ever looked forward to weekday 18 miler and that means an extra early 'rise 'n shine' time. I've been giving myself about 45 minutes in the morning to get myself going. You know, padding about the house, patting cats, drinking coffee, sending emails etc. On top of this, I also pad the "time necessary" to complete the scheduled run by giving myself a 9 min/mile pace. I run quicker than this but it allows enough time for unscheduled stops, some extra tenths of miles, and other time consuming activities that may occur on a run. Therefore, my departure time for Friday's 18 miler is 4:15am. This allows 2:45 for the run and gets me back to the house by 7am. So if you're doing the math, I awake at 3:30am on Fridays. Ugh.

But it is so much better than when I used to roll out of bed and onto the road - especially for these longer runs. I bonked often. Now I have found that giving myself time to wake up, have some toast, drink coffee and basically lounge, I run much better. This morning however, I somehow couldn't get it together. I awoke at 3:25 without the alarm and then proceeded to procrastinate my way to 4:30. Luckily, my running was on its usual pace and I got back to the house on 5 minutes past 7.

I was motivated to do the run, but I my thinking matched the pea soup outside. The fog was so thick, I almost step on two skunks this morning. Neither of us aware of the other before our near collisions. The fog inside this morning was unusually thick as well. I got tapping on the computer and the time just drifted away. Nevertheless, the run is done in its entirety and I also got to run with Eric for about 7 miles of the effort. It's nice to have company on 18 milers, no question.

My left lower shin hurts a little from this morning. I've iced it and taken ibuprofin. I will ice it some more tonight.

18.3 miles in 2:34:09. 6 x comfort loop.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Let The Good Times Roll

Today's plan called for 12 miles at a high aerobic pace. After shuffling through the first mile in 8:23, the old legs responded and we were off with healthy gallop off the island and out the highway. I decided on an out and back course today to minimize the hills and certainly do away with the short steep hills that charactize the town. Instead, I wanted easy rises, easy downs, and mostly flat. This meant only one course was available: Route 190 out of town.

Route 190 heads out of town and in just over 7 miles reaches U.S. Route 1. The Charles Davis Memorial 7 mile race is run from this corner into Eastport and therefore, the miles are marked on the pavement. So decided I would run out to the 1 mile marker (which is 6 miles out of town) and come on back. Always a little nervous when I do these types of out and back's because if trouble happens, it's a long way home.

Going out, the first two miles are part of my everyday courses. Then the pavement gets a lot better with a breakdown lane instead of a ditch and the road has less variations. Mile 3 is located at the top of a hill and then its down to sea level (literally - it's a causeway) to mile 5. Then an up and down to 6 and turn.

I carried a small 6 oz. bottle of water in my right hand this trip. This little bottle is molded to fit the hand pretty well so it's not overly bothersome. I found it was just enough to get me through. Though on my easy days, I like to drink a lot more. The pace going out quickened to a steady effort with the heart rate in the 150's and the average pace down to 6:54 by the turn. I was quite pleased by this point as I was feeling like the legs were turning over pretty easily and I wasn't tiring. As I turned around for the trip in, I felt motivated to up the tempo and cruised through mile 7 in 6:11. Onto the straight causeways and mile 8 went by in 6:04. A 6:30 took me to mile 9 (top of the hill) and I ran down the other side in 6:02 for mile 10. By mile 11 I had covered the last 5 miles within a few seconds of the International 5 Mile Race 4 weeks ago with a heart rate hovering around 168. At the race my heart rate was 178.

I finished hard to average a 6:15 pace for the trip back in and felt great. I was thinking however, how tomorrow's "recovery 18" is going feel real good!

12.25 miles in 1:20:37 (6:35 average pace 160 HR)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

15 in the Comfort Loop

I didn't stray far from the house this morning. I ended up running 5 loops of a 3.05 mile loop. While running 5 loops can get monotonous at times, this morning it felt good to be just jogging within the gravitational pull of home base.

Every once and awhile I need to run gently. This loop basically goes up for one mile and slowly loops back down to the house. Eric and I call this loop our "comfort loop" where water and facilities are available every 3rd mile and numerous escape routes abound should it be necessary. Today's workout called for a gentle run to recover from yesterday's faster paced effort. I shuffled out the first mile in 9:30 and by the end of the run I was running sub 8. I met up with Eric at mile 11 and he graciously joined me for the final 4 miles (he was planning on 12).

By running easily, the run achieved its purposes:

1. Continue with "voluminous" running
2. Recovery
3. Continue with "high caloric throughput"

Later - when I am in better condition, these workouts could be done at a faster low aerobic pace. But my muscles still need recovery, even from just high aerobic running - especially considering the terrain of yesterday's workout. Even though the focus is on developing the aerobic system, I must pay attention to preventing injury to both the muscular system and the skeletal system. So while I may get greater aerobic benefits from running faster on the low aerobic days, if the muscles remain sore I end up defeating myself in the end.

A brief note on item #3 above. I can't remember where I read it, but one of the listed benefits of voluminous running is the fact that we consume and burn a very high amount of calories. This is known as "high caloric throughput". For reasons I cannot remember, this evidently is a good thing for athletes in and of itself due to its effect on metabolism, fuel efficiency, and the like. I wish I could remember more but it's gone now.

A gentle, gentle 15.25 miles this morning. 2:09:38. HR 133. Pace 8:30 average.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Quick 10

One of the benefits of the Lydiard program is the varying of distances and efforts each day. Today the schedule called for only 10 miles. After running 22 on Sunday and yesterday's sloshy 15, I was ready to run short. The schedule also calls for the runner to up the pace a little for this run and I was ready to do so this morning.

I ran Eric's course which has several pace killing hills due to their abruptness, but overall, I was able to keep a steady pressure on. I think I ran the later miles a little quicker than the early ones. As I was running along, thoughts wander to things like, "If this is MP, then I'm in trouble." The purpose of these workouts is to increase the pressure on the aerobic system at paces that may or may not simulate marathon racing. I don't try to hit a target pace (although today I did hope for 7:00/mile) but rather go by feel and confirm it by heart rate.

It is funny however, that even though the pace seems a little quick, just knowing the distance is much less than the long days makes it easy to continue. And then there's remembering that when the marathon is on, I won't be running on tired legs. I was very pleased that I was motivated to run harder this morning. Generally, I go out with a shuffle and find my stride later on in the run. But last night I was anxious to get in this workout and was even tempted to run a double - but I didn't. I'm not making that mistake. Looking forward to the next workout is a strange new experience. A general dread is the most common feeling - but to be replaced with a "bring it on" attitude, that's a nice change. I better get this race over with before it all fades into a dream.

Speaking of looking forward to the next workout, near the end of my run I got to thinking how nice tomorrow will be to run slowly for 15 miles instead of the grueling 10 I found myself involved in. The way this schedule is arranged, the next workout just has to be more comfortable then the one currently being conducted. So 15 tomorrow. High expectations of ease and comfort. At least until I realize that I'm still on the course after 2 hours, then I'll start looking forward to Thursday's 12.

10.2 miles this morning in 1:09:58 (6:52 pace) HR 154. The last high aerobic workout on this particular course was 17 days ago (August 19th) with a pace of 7:05 with an HR of 161.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ernesto Joins Me for 15

Yes, Ernesto finally made his way in remnant form up to Downeast Maine. And he joined me for 15 miles of a sloshy, tired run this morning. He also raised the morning temperature by 12 degrees and brought a southerly wind. Combined with the saturated air, Ernesto made today's run a real chore.

I've been spoiled by cool mornings lately with temperatures around 48F. So this morning's 60F felt warm so I decided to forego the gortex and just get wet instead of hot. It wasn't raining hard per se, it's just the air was nothing but suspended water droplets being blown to and fro by a steady wind. Therefore, every breath, step, and blink made contact with water. I swear I was leaving a wake behind me in the air.

At 4 miles Eric merged his course with mine. He was at mile 9 of 10 so we ran his last mile together. As I passed my house I stopped in to change my saturated shirt and I broke down and put on the gortex. I was starting to get chafed from all the water. Loop 2 of 3 went a little faster but not by much. This was starting to drag. Luckily, I've been doing this enough that at mile 10 I was not really tempted to stop and end the run. I know the benefits of keeping to task so I launched into the last orbit without hesitation.

I ended up getting pretty hot in the rain jacket. I may have been kept from the rain, but I was soaked through in sweat. This loop was even quicker but again, not by much. By the time I was done, I was a drowned rat. A hot shower followed the run immediately.

Legs were fine, lungs were fine. A little tired as expected. 15.1 miles in 2:09:17 (8:34 pace) HR 141. Lap pace splits: 8:58 / 8:32 / 8:10.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Well Something's Going On

Been looking over my shoulder. Keeping alert. Listening carefully. Just waiting... for the other shoe to drop.

Another good run and now I'm nervous . Surely, this can't last. I'm missing... something. Or, maybe, should I say it? Can I being seeing improvement? Am I allowed to see tangible benefits after only 3 weeks of high miles? No. It can't be.

Apart from paying close attention to the accompanying aches and pains from this schedule, my running is becoming easier and easier and easier and easier and . Take today. What is up with these 22 miles? They just flew by while Mike and I talked the morning away. 2:55:12. The last 5 in 36:44.

But the real story is the decline in the heart rate: Here are the past four 22 milers:

Aug 13th: 8:03 pace HR 151 (73% max)
Aug 20th: 8:41 pace HR 141 (66% max)
Aug 27th: 8:04 pace HR 151 (73% max)
Sept 3rd: 7:58 pace HR 138 (63% max)

Standard disclaimer about the numbers not being exactly comparable due to environmental factors but the drop I saw today was consistent with the past few days' experiences. I think what is happening is I'm getting my base back. The base I lost during the summer of injury. Hunter asked what time I was aiming for at the upcoming Wineglass marathon. Honestly, even though some of the indicators are pointing for a faster marathon, I will limit (publicly) my expectation to a 3:10 until it is apparent (during the race) that I can squeeze a few minutes off of that time. The marathon is a great humbler of persons and I being one of those humbled I want go into this race with the right attitude. The attitude where I recognize that five weeks of good training a PR does not make. A season of good training is what I need - but that is for the spring marathon (Sugarloaf I think this time). So my plan for Wineglass is similar to Cape Cod '05. Start with a smile on my face *knowing* I'm faster than my initial pace and hopefully rocketing home in the final miles.

I recommend this Lydiard schedule -

Monday 10 miles (15km) at 1/2 effort over undulating course

Tuesday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat

Wednesday 12 miles (20km) at 1/2 effort over hilly course

Thursday 18 miles (30km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat

Friday 10 miles (15km) at 3/4 effort over flat course

Saturday 22 miles (35km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat

Sunday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over any type terrain

- for bringing back the sense of accomplishment. While there isn't a lot of fancy speed in the schedule, the fact the tiredness just disappears is amazing and need I say useful. Today I was telling Mike that one neat thing about the schedule is the lack of "shock" in my training week. No midweek high mileage run, and the long run on Sunday is just a mere 4 miles longer than the run 2 days before. Also, if the scheduled is followed, each day completes the same mileage for the past 7 days. Today is the start of my week, also the end, and the middle. At the end of each run each day I've just completed 102 miles for the week.

Just two weeks left of this schedule before a two week taper. Next Sunday is a 5k race here in Eastport that I plan on joining. So my final week will have less miles than the 102 since the long run will be supplanted with the race and a recovery jog. I am not going to rearrange the schedule because I think Lydiard found a very good balance in the sequence he presents in his books. Just when you think the current run is a little long, the next day is different enough to work the system differently. Either through an easier pace or working a different aspect of the aerobic system. Take Saturday for instance. I run 18 on Friday and 22 on Sunday but only 10 on Saturday. And this run is run with some speed and recovery running. I honestly don't feel it the next day. (If I had to run fast I would!)

As an end note, Mike proved his favorite quote today - "When you get tired, run faster!". We were passing 16 miles when he started commenting on dead legs. So what's he do? Why drop the pace to 7:20 of course. We cruised the final 5 miles after stopping at the cars for Fig Newtons. The pace just kept getting quicker and quicker. One mile went by in just over 7. When we turned around the "horses smelled the barn" and we were off. Great finish to a great run. Thanks Mike!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

From Benevolence to Malevolence. A sad jacket's journey from virtue to villainy.

Foul fiend! Lowest earthworm, you slithering snake of rotten humanity! May your flesh be seared painfully with the words Boston Marathon 2003 as you burn in hell. May the wages of your thievery be pagan curses of living torment from your oxycodone abuse and alcohol poisoning. You worthless delinquent. My compliments to your mother. Maybe she'd like the water bottle. You forgot to take it.

Today was the end of long happy life of my 2003 Boston Marathon jacket. It was one of those nylon wind jackets I like to wear when the temperatures are a little chilly but you end up removing after a few minutes. It was a good jacket, not valuable, and I have three of them (two now).

I've used the jacket quite a bit and even sacrificed it one day at a half marathon in New Brunswick. I had started the race in the jacket because it was chilly, but after a couple of miles I was too hot and had to discard it on a guardrail. An out & back course, I intended on picking it up on the way back. But as it would happen, I was racing too hard on a rather steep downgrade to pause and collect the coat. Also, it had blown off of the guardrail and down a steep embankment. When I finished, I realized I was not going to be able to retrieve the jacket as the park the race was in was closed for the season and it was too far to walk in to get. I was disappointed, but chalked it up to poor planning and the cost of the race, if you will. Sometimes we lose some clothing at races. I know I have donated running gloves at Holyoke in 2005 and a pair of my daughter's pink mittens at mile 23 in Cape Cod the same year. (Mark, pick these up will you when you go by?) Many a time, I see runners wearing 'discardable' overwear at race starts when the weather is particularly unpleasant. Sweatshirts line the beginning miles of many a marathon.

After the half marathon where I had left the jacket, Mike received an email asking if anyone had lost a Boston Marathon jacket. Knowing that I did, he let them know I was the owner and they kindly said they would hold it at The Running Room store in Saint John, NB. Not only was that very kind of them, it was over a month before I had reason to be back in Saint John and when I went into the store, they still had it! Not only this. When I went in, I recognized the clerk as Bruce, the #3 finisher in the race. Of course, I couldn't recall his name. But he looked up and said, "Andy, right?". What a memory. So I ask about the jacket and another shopper in the store looks up and says, "Yeah Bruce, it's in the back. I found it and brought it in." So the jacket was restored and the runners of Saint John, New Brunswick are high on my list of good people.

But this morning, my run was disrupted by the lowlife that pinched my jacket as it lay underneath my water bottle at the 1 mile marker of the Sipayik Trail at the Pleasant Point Indian Reservation. I would have thought that the criminals were sound asleep at 7:00am but this one must have been just making his way home on his bicycle - since he looked rather dazed at the sunrise as I ran by him. (The trail connects one side of the reservation with another, thus making it a convenient thru-way).

The mission this morning was 10 miles with speed - meaning a 10 mile distance run but structured so I get a little speed in there. I enjoyed the 1200 meter repeats last week and came up with the bright idea of doing mile repeats on this trail. It is fairly flat, paved with soft tar, and usually quite empty of people early in the morning. Eric had let me know the other day that the trail was now marked every 1/10 of a mile. Plus it is a beautiful spot on earth, right along the sea with salt air and easy breezes.

I parked at one end of the trail (remind me to lock the car next time) and jogged easily out the trail. Sure enough, new markings were on the pavement and the 1 mile marker was just about where I always thought 1 mile should be. The entire length of the trail is 1.8 miles. So I traversed the length and came back to the mile marker. I removed my jacket and left a water bottle there. The plan was to do three repeats and fill the rest of the 10 with recovery running. As it turned out, I did two, (the second passing the perp), and as I made my way back to the mile marker I was debating with myself about doing the third.

Then I came upon the scene. Deflation is the only term I can think of. The jerk took my jacket. I stood there amazed. Why take it? I wouldn't take yours. The mere fact of its lack of value told me the act was pure malevolence. Evil. My water bottle was still there. I was disgusted with this place. Here I am, in a community of 2000 people at the most, and I can't leave a simple nylon coat underneath a water bottle safely for 10 minutes? You have to be joking. This episode took the wind out of my sails and I didn't feel like churning out another mile so I jogged on to the end of the trail thinking I'd just finish out 10 and be done.

My eyes started to wander looking, perhaps, for the practical joke of finding my jacket in a tree, or thrown onto the shore. I started to notice symptons of decay I hadn't noticed before. Like the several carcasses of bicycles in the bushes and grass. Stripped bare of parts with the shiny aluminum skeleton glinting in the morning sunlight. "No Motor Vehicles" signs shot up and vandalized. Swatiskas drawn in kid's chalk with other highlights of youthful imagination. My favorite was the "Home of the PP-Thugs" drawing. (Pleasant Point thugs - how cute).

As I approached back at the scene of baseness, I suddenly had the urge to do the final 3rd repeat and just leave the water bottle as a kiss off. So I pressed through the mile to the car followed by a .8 cooldown to log an even 10 miles and I drove home. So ends my story of the abducted Boston marathon jacket. Maybe I'll see a ransom note in the next Quoddy Tides.

The good news: the mile repeats went better than expected.

1st in 5:24
2nd in 5:25
3rd in 5:35

These high miles are starting to help with the speed. I'm not getting tired midway through the repeat anymore.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Great 18 Mile Run

Oxymoronic, but true nevertheless. I'm so use to complaining about Friday's scheduled 18 that I'm at a loss. How can an 18 mile run be fine on a weekday?

Well, for starters, I met up with Eric just as he was leaving his house at 4:20am. Quite accidental but Providential since it gave me company for 15 of the 18. It made a world of difference being able to chat away while the miles rolled on. I awoke at 3:30 intent on giving myself plenty of time to wake up with coffee and toast and also leave lots of time for the run itself. I usually schedule enough time for 9:00/mile should A) I run that pace, B) I run a few tenths more than the scheduled distance, or C) I should have to stop at the house for a bathroom break or something. This ensures that I won't cut a run short due to lack of time which is an excuse I have used in the past.

The thought of running 9:00/mile this morning was not very appealing. I ran easily yesterday and it was a slog. However, I wanted to run easily again today so I can run a little quicker tomorrow on the 10 miler. So I decided I'd try for an 8:00 pace after the first few miles. This would shorten up the run enough so I'd be out for 2:24 instead of 2:42. The trouble with this plan was the right calf. I had been feeling very good during the day yesterday and this morning it seemed like it was good to go with just the slightest bit of tenderness. So when I took off, I really took stock to the status of the calf.

It was tight but not too bad. After .2 miles I met up with Eric and we ended up running a 3.05 mile loop several times (5 for him and 6 for me plus a little extra). While the loop is short in length it is a pleasant loop with hills and straights and it brings the water back around more often than the other loops. Doing this alone could get very tiresome.

After 6 miles the calf really tightened up. So while Eric stopped at his house for a minute, I took the time to really stretch it out. Did the trick. The final 12 miles felt good with only a tiny bit of calf discomfort. Downhills felt very soothing. (Uphills the opposite).

We ended up running a gentle progression for each 3 mile loop. Here are the pace splits:

Loop 1 8:37 pace
2 8:16
3 8:09
4 8:02
5 7:56 (Eric done at 15 miles)
6 7:24

So ends a strange Friday run. A pleasant 18.4 miles in 2:29:31 (8:07 pace) HR 136. Wx 48F, clear, nice sunrise.

As an endnote, the last 3 weeks I have run an 18 miler on Friday. Each time, I have run at relatively the same effort based on heart rate although the courses have not been the same. In any event, my heart rate for these runs have been around or at 136, which for me represents a sort of "recovery" pace. It is representative of my apprehension of the distance coupled with tired legs from all the miles. Nevertheless, at this particular distance and heart rate my pace has dropped from 8:43 per mile two weeks ago to 8:28 last week and now 8:07 this week. Of course this doesn't translate into the same improvement at MP HR (150's) but it's a start...