Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Starting from scratch in the pool

Quick update.  My swim progression is going nicely.  When starting to swim after a very long break, I begin on the first day with 12 laps, then next day I do 18 laps, 18 laps again, then 24, 24 again, then 30, 30 again, then do 33 or 36.  For a long time, my math-challenged brain thought 36 laps was a mile, but then my friend Ryan pointed out that 33 laps is a mile!  Oops!  Since I don’t count the laps very well, who knows how far I really am going?  Now, I can count to 33, yeah, I’m not dumb.  But when swimming, if I start to daydream a bit and strategizing about work or relationship challenges, I can totally loose track of what lap I’m on.  I do the same thing on the track.

Anyhow, last night I did 24 laps in 28 minutes.  I was pushing it the whole way, because I started at 9pm and the pool closes at 9:30pm.  I think I may have done 1 or 2 laps extra due to that daydreaming thing I was mentioning earlier.  I need to focus and get an accurate lap count so I can get an accurate gauge of my speed.  Anyhow, it was slow, but not too bad for my 4th swim.

Two nights ago, I got on my bike on the trainer for 30 minutes while watching the underwhelming Ravens play Cleveland for Monday Night Football.  I wore my running shoes, and a lot of the foot pain and knee pain didn’t happen, like when I wear my biking shoes.  So I guess I need new biking shoes.  :-(

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Break-time is over!

Sorry I haven’t been doing much with this blog recently.  I’ve been swamped with schoolwork and I have been trying to figure out what I want to do next.

I was a bit unhappy with my progress, and I needed some time to regroup and rethink some things.

Today, I went to the pool for the first time in a very long time.  It was quite enjoyable, perfect for a rainy day.  As the seasons change, it is getting dark earlier and earlier.  It is very difficult to get in trail runs.  Last year, I was able to scoot out for an hour or two in the afternoons, but I’m not sure I will be able to do that this year, since I’m in a different job that is more support than development.  If you are providing support, you have to be available to your customers, not out running in the woods!

Ok, here is the big news:  I think it is about time to try a triathlon!  I like swimming, biking and running, and 2 out of three can easily be done indoors without need to worry about environmental concerns.

At this point, I am just information gathering.  I need to figure out what distance, what race, and sign up.  I also need to investigate training programs, to make sure I have enough time to train.

I have a bike, but I will probably need to acquire a few things.  Wetsuit, bike shoes that don’t make my feet scream in pain after 30 minutes of riding, would be a good start.

Anyone out there have good suggestions on first triathlons for people in the Baltimore, MD area?  And don’t suggest the Irongirl.  I don’t think I qualify.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 Gunpowder Keg 50K

The power is out at work, so I thought I'd make a short blog post from my iPhone to kill some time. I tried to take a nap, but that wasn't working for me...

On Saturday, I ran the Gunpowder Keg 50K. It is a roughly 10 mile loop, and there are 2 aid stations. One is at the start/finish, and another is maybe at 3-4 miles into the loop. You pass this one twice, so you are never more than 3-4 miles from an aid station.

The terrain is not too technical, with an elevation gain/loss of 1000 feet per loop, 3000ft total, and about 100ft per mile. This is not bad, I've done a 16 mile run with 6000ft of vertical in another section of the same park. There are very few rocks or roots to trip on or worry about. There are a couple wooden mini-bridges that can get quite slippery. My hip and ribs had a very intimate encounter with one of them. Nice bruises!

There was only one water crossing. Supposedly, you could avoid this if you skipped across some wet mossy rocks, but it looked too dangerous to me. I just plowed through the water.

This was a "Fat Ass" event. Before anyone starts complaining, Fat Ass is a term that has been used for years to describe a low-cost or free, no-frills, largely self-supported run.

This run fits that description perfectly. There is a $5 suggested donation, and you are supposed to bring 1 gallon of water for the aid stations.

I only have one complaint about this race. Some douche(or perhaps douches) filled his (their) water jug(s) with the nastiest water imaginable. It tasted like pool water siphoned through a decrepit garden hose. When I topped off my water and Gatorade at 20 miles, I didn't try them right away. One mile down trail, I took a sip, and nearly barfed. I tried both, and they were undrinkable. Maybe I am just a sissy, used to drinking some of the best quality tap water in the nation, but this was disgusting. So for the next 4ish miles, I didn't drink anything. I started to get dehydrated and delerius.

The water at the next aid station was much better. After that, I learned to sample the water before filling up my bottles.

Personally, I didn't have the best run ever, but it wasn't that bad, either. I finished in 5:52. I met my "easy" goal of breaking 6 hours. But was far from my tough goal of going under 5 hours. 5:52 was the second fastest I've ever run a 50K, the best in 3 years. I have no idea what place I was. It will probably be a good while before the results are up, but thats ok with me. Before the water mishap, I was running even with 2 very fit competitive ladies, so place-wise, I was probably where I normally am.

Ah, the power is back on, so I need to wrap this up. I have some more thoughts about training I want to write about, so I'll have to get to that later.

Also, if you are going to a race where they ask you to bring a gallon of water, avoid douchebaggery and just buy a jug at the store. If you can't, at least fill up the jug the night before, and LEAVE THE CAP OFF. This lets the chlorine "outgas", removing the funky taste.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More bad food choices

At 6:35pm, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at Gilman, wondering if I REALLY wanted to do TNT. I have been sampling the menu of the brand new, glorious Wawa for my lunches at work, and today I had the Chicken Parm Hoagie. Ugh. I like most of the stuff at Wawa, but this was absolutely horrible, soggy, messy, tasteless, and the marinara sauce was very acidic. My stomach was rolling all afternoon. But I remembered that I had felt bad before other track sessions, and I ran anyway, and ended up with a great workout.

This was the case today, as well. There was a bit of confusion. No one 1 wanted to do Ryan's workout; it seemed like the consensus was to do 5x1600m.

On the first one, I fell in behind Dr. J, and she set a pretty good pace, around 6:08. That's pretty good for me, if I had been running by myself, I probably would have done a 6:30. (which is what I was doing a few weeks ago when we did 1600's. On the second 1600, I think she was setting a bit faster pace, and I ended up with a 6:01. This is the fastest I've ran a mile in a long long time. If I had known how close I was, I would have pushed it a little more, and gone under 6. But I should really have stayed in the 6:08 range, because I was not fully recovered in mile number 3, and I struggled to end with a 6:20 with Dr. J quite a few yards in front of me. For number four, I had no energy, and on the backside of the track at 600m I was having difficulty breathing, just couldn't get enough air in. Not sure what that was about. I think my body is just not used to being pushed like that. Rather than keep pushing into the danger zone, I coasted in and stopped at 800. I recovered, and I think I did either 2 more 800s or an 800 and a 400.

The “warmdown” (ha) was an out and back that I was a bit unfamiliar with, and the guys were running way faster than I should have been. So basically, instead of a warmdown, I got in 2 or 3 miles of fast tempo running to finish off the night.

I don't know why I go into details like this on my workouts, I guess just to remember key times where I did something good or bad.

In other news, my long runs have been doing pretty well, progressing up to 21 miles at 8:30ish pace. This weekend, I'm doing the Gunpowder Keg Ultra 50K. It's up at the Bunker Hill section of Gunpowder State Park. I haven't run the exact course, but I scouted the area last year. It is not too technical, but it certainly isn't NCR-flat, either. So I think my goal will be to run a 9 min mile, and see how long I can keep it up. If I end up averaging 9:30ish mile that would about break 5 hours, and I would be really happy if I break 5. I think I'm in as good shape or better than 3 years ago when I did a 4:56 at HAT Run 50K at Susquehanna State Park.

We will see. This is not a goal run, I'm actually using it as a training run for a 50 miler in November.

1 well, I would much rather have done shorter intervals like Ryan's workout, but I am an agreeable chap, so I just did what everyone else was doing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not slacking on the training pays benefits!

I went running on the NCR trail on Saturday, and I felt pretty good. We ran 9 miles, and I could have gone a lot further. But this was an off week, so 9 miles is just fine. We ran at 8:40 pace for the first 8 miles, then on the last mile, I burned off some excess energy and turned in a 6:40. That works out to 8:27 per mile for the nine.

Last week, we did 19, and struggled to keep up with a 9:00 pace. Not sure what the difference was. Maybe I carb-loaded too late before last week's long run. That's usually reason enough for a miserable run!

One difference was that I did TNT this week. I had to miss Tuesday Night Track for the last few weeks because of work schedule, both at the real job, and the self-inflicted torture that is rehabbing my kitchen! At TNT, I did the abbreviated workout, one, because I can't handle the full workout, and two, because I got there a bit late. I did 1600, 800, 800, 1600, 600. I think. So almost 3.5 miles of speedwork on the track, plus about 3 miles of warm up and warm down on the trails around Gillman. I'll guess at the times. 6:13, 3:05, 3:08, 6:30, and I really don't know about the last 600. Everyone else did a 1000, I jumped in on the last lap and a half, and finished not too far off the back. The second mile really sucked, I think I lost focus and started to jog for a bit, then I remembered I was supposed to be running fast, and I picked it up in the last 300.

I also got a decent run or two at Patapsco, so I think I benefitted from extra running volume this week. Oh, and I did a tempo run of about 5 miles on Thursday night through Canton, Fells, IHE. It felt fairly fast for me, probably in the low 7:something per mile.

The week I did 19, my training was total crap. Being focused and getting the work done helps!

I also really need to start going back to the gym and or pool. Thinking back to when I was faster, I definitely remember putting time in with the leg weights. Leg press, leg flexion, leg extension machines. We also did this thing where we lean up against a wall, and then drop down so we are in a seated position against the wall, but without sitting on anything. You just keep doing that until your legs burn, then keep doing it until you can't stand the burn anymore. With my old creaky knees, getting back up again might be a challenge! Anyhow, it's gotta be easier than the version my buddy E learned. He had to do that, plus hold a rifle with both hands, arms extended out from the chest. Since I don't have a rifle handy, I could hold a 2x3 piece of lumber...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Leadville is tomorrow!

Leadville is tomorrow. It's a high-altitude 100 mile race, your choice between foot or mountain bike (MTB).

There is a webcast available at
. I won't be around a computer, or I'd watch. Just thought I'd put that out there if anyone is interested. Maybe I'll order the DVD.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fall Ultra Season is fast approaching

I haven't posted in a while, or gone to TNT. Been busy at work and my training hasn't fit in with speedwork on Tuesdays. But I'm bummed that I missed 16x400 on Tuesday! Well, at least not the first 12. That was my favorite workout in the day....

I realized Fall Ultra season is fast approaching, so I have been focusing on ramping up my distance. 3 weeks ago, my buddy E and I ran 9 miles on NCR at 8:42 per mile. Then 2 weeks ago, we did 13 at 8:40 per mile. Last week, we didn't run together. He did 17 at 8:40, and I did 12 at 8:40. I didn't feel comfortable increasing 4 miles every week, plus it was getting extremely dark, my hammies were acting up, and it was murderously hot and humid. Shortly after I got in the car, it started raining and thundering fiercely.

Running in the dark in a full on gusty drenching thunderstorm would not have been fun.

I think only doing 12 this week was a wise choice for me. Next week, I'll do 17. I think I'll be ready to run the BRRC Gunpowder 50K on September 19th. My goal is to break 5 hours. As long as it isn't any more technical than the HAT Run, this goal is doable. There is no page for this year's race, but here is the info sheet from a couple years ago. Last year's results are here.

I could always do the Big Schloss 50K, which is Sept 26. This is a lot of fun, and has a party at the end. It is crazy-technical, like the Bel Monte, probably because both of them are in the George Washington National Forest. You can forget about goal times for this one.

And I didn't make it into the JFK 50 miler. I am going to do the Stone Cat 50 miler in Ipswich Mass instead. They say it ends at a brewery. If there is no party at the end, I am going to be sorely disappointed. I have no idea if I can keep the 9:00 mile going for 50. So my goal is to average between 9 and 10 min per mile. I think that may be reasonable. I don't recall any mountains being in Mass.

On the nutrition front, a Powerbar Long Lasting Energy Bar before running prevents me whining about not feeling swell during the runs. Today, I discovered that Kung Po Chicken with white rice consumed 5-6 hours before running has a similar benefit.

On the shoutout front, I think I saw Ryan and Barf shout out "Steve-O!" while I was running through Inner Harbor East tonight. And then I think I almost trampled Melissa after crossing the street.

And on the Shoe front, I saw a podiatrist. He told me to get Brooks Dyad shoes, since he said I have flat feet and am not a big pronator. In fact, he looked dubiously at the custom orthotics I showed him, and said that they could have seriously hurt me if I kept using them. They didn't push my feet down enough in the mold. $450 wasted.

The shoes have really helped me, my ankles feel pretty good.

Edit: I just read the post below this one, and I realized I said pretty much the same thing two weeks in a row! I gotta stop making posts after I get a couple beers in me. I forget what I wrote...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

2000 calories on the NCR

Had a great run today. We did 13 miles in 8:42 per mile. Most of it was at 9:00 per mile, and we picked it up to 8:15ish in the last few miles.

The plan is to train to keep at this pace for at least 50K. I think this is doable. Maybe i will change my mind when we get beyond 20 miles in a few weeks. 9:00 per mile is pretty good for a 50K, about 4:30. As long as there are no mountains or crazy technical stuff...
Meaning, HAT run, yes, Bel Monte, no!

Keeping this up for 50 miles would be great, but I have no idea if this is possible (for me).

My current plan is to get in shape to run the Gunpowder 50k, then build from there to 50 miles.

I did TNT on Tuesday, and I was able to stick to the back of the pack. Which made me happy. That was totally attributable to eating a PowerBar before running.

I still wish they would do 12 x 400, my fave workout from the old days.

Of course, a miler workout like that wouldn't be very helpful for someone training for an Ultra.

Perhaps an intelligent training plan would be helpful. Considering what I have been doing over the last few years, improving should be easy! I'm 15 lbs less, I'm running more miles each week, and, most importantly, I'm running smarter.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The best run of the year tonight!

I feel absolutely awesome! I've been doing a lot of experimenting recently, trying to figure out why I don't have energy when I run. I kept track of everything I ate and drank, and my runs, looking for patterns.

As some of the guys at TNT suggested, it was a food issue.
On the two days I had a Powerbar Harvest Whole Grain Long Lasting Energy Toffee Chocolate Chip bar, I had awesome runs. Plenty of energy for surges, demolishing the hills, and just general feeling like I'm 16 again (without the acne).

The one day I didn't have anything to eat, I felt like total shit. No energy, just like all those nights at TNT. Now, true, the weather tonight was incredible, and I am sure that was part of it.

But, anyhow, I am excited to experiment further!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tour De Blur

This is my view of the Tour De France on VsHD. Wonderful picture, eh? Not so much. All my other HD channels work fine. Even Vs HD usually works when displaying stuff like Rodeos and Hunting. Just the Tour. So I have been relegated (that's a TdF pun, btw) to watching the Tour in regular Def.

Oh, well.

One of my running buddies insists that "any HD is good HD", but he hasn't seen this picture!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

TurtleHeadAck on Twitter

I am now on Twitter!

This has been a pretty good week:
I finally contacted a podiatrist to address some of my concerns. I'm looking forward to pain-free running.

I set up an account on Twitter. Yeah, I know, I'm behind the times. It's fascinating, though. I have it set up on my iPhone, and when I get bored, I monitor the tweet stream for various search terms. Already, I am learning useful info. For instance, two dams will be removed in Patapsco State Park, Union Dam and Simkins Dam, and they may even remove Daniels Dam and Bloede Dam. I think this may cause some trail changes, as the water level changes. Should be good for the fishies, though.

Here is a link that describes the project in more detail.

I had several runs this week longer than 1 hour, all on trails. It feels great! I decided to do a time trial last night on the Promenade. Sorry to all of the people I almost ran over! You should really pay attention to where you are going, though. When I finished, I thought I had done 5 miles, and my time of 26 minutes would have been freaking awesome! But then reality intruded into my fantasy, and I figured 4 miles. Then 3.8. When I got home, I went to Google Maps Pedometer (awesome site, btw) and I mapped my run. 3.68 miles! Not so great! That means I was actually running at 7.06 minutes per mile, which is 7:04? per mile. Not awesome. But not too bad, considering all the lights and peds I had to stop for. Peds is short for pedestrians, of course. I'm pretty happy with the other runs I have put in this week, and the direction of my training and fitness.

For the run mapping, initially went to, but was turned off by the blizzard of ads. Yuck. Then I remembered Gmaps Pedometer. I used to use this site a lot. No ads, and it works great!
Here is the run I did Friday evening:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where NOT to put your keys at TNT!

At TNT last night, I left my keys next to the outside rail of the track, so I wouldn't have to carry them while running. This is new for me, as I am paranoid about losing them.

When I finished, they were still there, but retrieval was an issue. Some dude who totally kicked ass during the workout was puking right over my keys! The keys were ok. The conversation went something like this:

ME: "Um, those are my keys. Excuse me. I'll just grab 'em".
GUY: "Sorry, dude. I didn't even see them there."
ME: "No problem!"
GUY'S GIRLFRIEND: "I thought he was coming over to congratulate you on a good workout ."

Later, I realized that's exactly what I SHOULD have said...right before I snagged my keys.
I really need to be more considerate.

This got me to thinking, maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe I should be hurling after or during the workouts. I might try that next time. The last time I hurled from running was the 2002 DC Area Beer Mile. Warm beer + running = not so good.

I guess the takeaways from this lesson are:
1) never put your keys next to the outside rail of the track. The inside near the bottles is a much better choice!
2) be more considerate
3) run harder

On a more technical note, this is my first post using Blogpress, which is an app for the iPhone. I am hoping it will enable me to do more frequent posts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Confessions of a Masochist

Just finished watching today's stage of the Tour de France. When you think about what these guys are doing, it is just amazing. Tomorrow they are doing 120 miles! That is just 1 of 21 stages. Incredible. I just want to take this moment to say how much VsHD sucks. Vs is the network covering the Tour. Since I am a gadget geek, I have HD, so I've been watching the Tour on HD. Unfortunately, their signal is highly compressed, and the pixilation is so bad it makes me want to puke. I think I will be watching the rest of the Tour in Regular Def. Oh, well.

I have a confession to make. I almost quit today. But you don't get anywhere by quitting, and, as a masochist, I would be depriving myself of some great suffering! So I am NOT quitting! Whew! I have run 6 50K's, and completed each one. No DNF's. 2 or 3 involved ankle sprains that I kept running on to finish. I don't quit anything easily.

Even though I am not quitting, maybe it will make me feel good to list some things that I am NOT doing:
  1. Badwater Ultramarathon: 135 miles run in the summer in Death Valley, with temperatures up to 130 degrees F, so hot that you have to run on the painted lines on the road, if you don't, your shoes will melt. I hate, HATE running in hot weather. This is most definitely NOT on my list of races that I want to do some day. I have the movie. It is SICK!
  2. Hardrock Ultramarathon: 100 miles, with the lowest point at 9,000ft! As a low-lander, something like this would be suicide. If I ever move to Colorado, I may change my mind.
  3. Barkley Marathon: this has various distances. Most years, NO ONE FINISHES! Only 8 people have ever finished. I think the average pace is 30 minutes per mile. This is not running.
When I say "quitting", I mean I was about to give up trying to be a competitive runner. Just because I have to put a lot more effort in, now that I am an old guy. In my 20's, I could half-ass my training, and still do somewhat respectably. Now, I have to pay attention to my diet, fueling before the run, hydration during the run, recovery after the run, ice on the joints, take vitamins daily, and most importantly, quality training. Skipping workouts just doesn't work anymore.

A rude awakening, but it is ok.

The cool thing about running is that I am learning new things about myself. Isn't that what life is all about? Learning about yourself? I'd much rather put myself through tough track workouts and learn about myself than sit on the couch vegging out with the TV.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

JFK 50 Miler- Good news and bad news

I went to sign up for the JFK 50 Miler. There is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that for the first few days, JFK is only open to current military, military vets, and JFK veterans with at least 5 finishes. This run fills up quickly, so there is a chance I won't get in (which is maybe good news?)

The good news is that E is a vet, so he can sign up today. Also, I was just talking to my high school coach, who helps run the race. He said if I have trouble getting in, he might be able to help me.

So the real thing to consider is: WTF am I thinking? 50 miles? Am I crazy?

I am getting better with my training, so I doubt that my body will fall apart in training THIS time.

I definitely need to see a running doctor about my ankles. If I string too many days of running together, especially if they are on roads, they start to hurt. If I "play it smart" and rest, I don't get into the fitness level I need to be in.

I went to a shoe store in Annapolis where they sold me orthotics, and they hurt my ankles tremendously, even after getting them redone two or three times. I need to see someone who knows what they are doing.

One fear is that if I wear orthotics when running trails, I won't have the control I need and will have a catastrophic ankle sprain/twist.

Why I am not getting faster...revealed!

I missed TNT again tonight, because I had to stay late again at work. Oh, well. By the time I got back in the hood, it was after 9pm, and thunder storming, so I decided to run on the treadmill. My plan was to run 45 minutes, with two separate sections doing negative splits.

I started off at 8 minutes for half a mile, then went down to 7:30 for 1.5 miles, then 7:00 for a mile, then 6:40 for a mile, then I jogged at 8:30 for a half mile, and I was about to start increasing again, and some dude came on the intercom, and said "the club is now closed. Please get the f___ out." Ok, I am paraphrasing, but you could tell they wanted us OUT so they could get their drink on or whatever they do when they get off of work. So I only got 30ish minutes in. Not too bad, though.

As all of my loyal readers (lol) know, I've been whining about why I'm not getting any faster. So I have been thinking hard about what was different when I was faster.
  1. I was younger. This can't be overlooked, but I see people my age and over that are still fast, so I am not about to just give up because I am having troubles.
  2. I was running every day. I think I keep forgetting about this. At some point in the last 5-8 years, I started to run 4 or less days per week. I now think this is normal. I even ran some 50K races on 1-2 days of training per week. (And those races were the ones I totally sucked at) The only 50K I am happy with (4:55), was in 2006 when I was running every day (a temporary abberation).
  3. My hairstyle had more aerodynamic lift. Like wings. I think I'll just have to make do on that one. No going back!
I definitely remember that i would freak out if I missed a day. So I am resolved that is what I have to do. Even if I have to run on a crappy treadmill that shocks me when I accidentally touch the heart rate measurement handles. Better than getting struck by lightning!

Signup for JFK 50 Mile Run is tomorrow! Yikes!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More douchbagishness

For some reason, it has been a really long time since I wrote a post. I had a lot of good ideas in the intervening time, but now those ideas have faded, or are no longer appropriate.

I had to stay late at work to prepare for mid-year reviews, and I worked on my kitchen all weekend, so I missed a lot of running.

I did do a race on Friday. The HoCo Striders have a series of X-Country races on Friday nights this summer. On Friday the race was at Centennial High School, which was our chief rival. As I expected, there was some douchebagishness. The vast majority of people were cool though.

I knew I was in trouble when at the 400m mark, some dude shouted out, "72 seconds for the quarter. Not a bad mile split". Uh oh! I went out too fast! I'm used to trail races, where if you don't go out fast, you'll be trapped behind walkers as soon as the trail leads into the singletrack. In Cross-Country, there IS no singletrack. No need to kill myself. I was in maybe 10th-15th. I relaxed a bit, let some people by, and settled in at 25th. I then started to feel good, and slowly reeled in people. We circled the school a bunch of times, going up and down hills. My favorite moment was when I passed one of the douches! Sweet!

At 800m to go, I was in 20th or so, and I had no idea how much further I had to run. I asked one of the race directors as I passed, and I am almost positive he said, "halfway, 1 and a half miles to go". I then slowed down, let 5 people go, and settled in for another mile of torture. I saw the track approaching, but I thought, "well, he said I was only half done, so the trail must veer off somewhere else. I'll save my energy." By the time I realized I was almost done, it was too late to get the people, I just hung on, and didn't let anyone else get by me.

I finished in 22 minutes or so. I was a bit shocked. I was hoping for 19-something. I haven't bettered my pace in months. I am obviously doing something wrong, Maybe I'm just getting older, but that can't be it entirely.

So my takeaway is I have to be more prepared. At least wear a watch. Hopefully my fancy GPS Nerd Watch. That way I won't have to depend on asking people for anything. And my other takeaway is that I have to keep searching for why I am still so slow even though I am doing speedwork.

I probably should mention that the race was in about 90 degrees F, and very humid. Starting off too fast probably affected my ability to run fast. And in an ideal world, I would be running every day. Life sometimes intrudes on training plans, and you just have to make do.

If you feel like going back to the good old days of High School Cross-Country torture sessions, by all means, try this series out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TNT, nutrition, speedwork strategy for nooBs, and your longest run shouldn't be on the track!

Tonight was TNT, or Tuesday Night Track. After the track workout, we went to Chipotle, and when I saw the shredded meat, it reminded me of how my legs feel! Shredded!

The workout was 3x600m, 2400m, 3x600m, 2x200m, with 200m jog rest between the intervals.

Since I am still a beginner, and still gaining my fitness, the 200m jog rest was insufficient for me. It does me no good to try to run speed if I am struggling. The point of speedwork is to teach the body what it is like to run fast, and to keep proper form.

Arjun made a good point about keeping form, ie, don't put your head back.

Dave Berardi also gave a good example of someone he knows (I'm not sure exactly) who was inexperienced at speedwork, and was training with a more experienced runner, and he cut off laps to get more rest in between intervals. Again, it is better to try to run fast with someone and stop sooner, then just do the same workout, but be a lot slower because you are tired. And if your form is bad, you are more likely to get injured.

Not sure if I am making a whole lot of sense here.

But anyway, the 600's with 200 jog was draining my energy, so I cut them back to 400's, and was able to keep up with the back of the pack (usually!) For the 2400m, I cut one lap off and did 2000m. I have no idea how fast I was going, but it felt fast (to me).

Joel G. and Maurice gave me some good tips on eating something before TNT. I think I need to bring some Gatorade, eat a second (light) lunch, and maybe slurp down a gu packet before I step on to the track. I also need to look into recovery drinks.

Vitamins have been helping me by making it feel like I have more energy, even though they expired a year ago! People on the Internets say it is safe (so it must be true, right?) I kid, but really, I cross-verified, and the only people who said it was dangerous seemed like total morons, with many misspellings and grammar mistakes.

From what I can tell, vitamins are guaranteed a certain potency by their expiry date, and they degrade slowly over time. So worst case, I am just taking less-potent vitamins. Hmm, I should have made this a post all by itself.

At the end of the workout, they calculated how much we ran, and it came out to 10 miles. Yikes! That is my longest mileage of the week! This is when I realized that I haven't been doing long runs. Speedwork builds speed, but you need long runs to build strength and endurance. Duh!

I need to make it out to NCR once a week to get some mileage in at a good pace. Patapsco is too technical for me to go fast enough.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why you shouldn't self-diagnose medical conditions based on info you have gleaned from the interwebs

I am a bit of a hypochondriac, and am constantly diagnosing myself with all kinds of diseases. My favorite for a couple years was Lyme Disease, and now it's Diabetes.

Let's go through the symptoms:

  • Frequent urination

  • Excessive thirst

  • Extreme hunger

  • Unusual weight loss

  • Increased fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Blurry vision

Yes, I have all of these. But that doesn't mean I actually have diabetes.

The extreme hunger, excessive thirst, increased fatigue, and unusual weight loss are due to running. Frequent urination is due to the slaking of my excessive thirst. And my love of good beer.

The irritability is due to my occasional interaction with pinheads at work.

The blurry vision is sometimes due to excessive staring at a computer screen, and sometimes due to my love of good beer.

And I guarantee that the "unusual weight loss", fatigue, hunger and thirst would cease within a day or two of reducing my exercise load.

I got this list from the helpful folks at the American Diabetes Association. They even have a risk assessment test.

Oh, BTW, I am now down to 179lbs! Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blue Stains, Smurfs, and Icing Techniques for Runners

My couch is now covered by slightly sticky blue gunk. No, I didn't do anything improper with a smurf smurfette, my icepack sprung a leak! Ug.

Ice is a great thing for a runner. It reduces swelling, reduces pain from injuries, and aids in recovery. As you get older, these wonderful properties become increasingly important to your running career!

The ideal thing is to take an ice bath after exercise. Ie, put enough ice and cold water in your tub to submerge everything below the waist. Ice baths can pose logistical challenges: not everyone has a tub, and how to get enough ice. And they can pose other kinds of challenges: shrinkage and general discomfort. It takes a special person to dunk themselves in ice.

From what I have heard from various sources on "the Internets", from elite runners I know, and my own personal experience, 15 minutes is as long as you want to ice. Less is ok too. Also, you really don't want to dunk your core torso in ice water. It's not needed, and could be dangerous. Don't be a dumbass.

For those whom the above mentioned challenges prevent them from icing, I have a solution. In my shower, I have one of those nozzles that is on the end of a hose, you can buy these at any bath supply or hardware store. After I'm done with the normal business of showering, ie de-stinkifying, I turn the water all the way to Cold. I then spray the legs with the very cold water. I keep that up for a while, at least several minutes. When I am done, the legs are red/pinkish, and cold to the touch. It feels great, and helps a lot.

I do this right after running, and first thing in the morning. I sometimes follow that up with sitting on the couch with ice packs on the legs.

Which leads to the blue sticky mess on my couch.

I bought what was called an "ice blanket". It is made from a blue liquid sealed in bubblewrap. You can cut between the "bubbles", and get the size you want. I must have accidentally dropped it or punctured the plastic when it was frozen. After 15 minutes or so, I noticed it leaking all over my couch. As I was confused as to what was going on, I squeezed it, and of course more of the blue gunk got on the couch. I would not recommend buying products like this. The best ones I have found are the old-fashioned rubber ice bags you can find at any drug store. People make fun of me for it, but they work great, and don't leak.

On the positive side, my couch was a dark blue/brown, so the stain is not super-noticeable. I'm glad I didn't purchase that white fuzzy rabbit-fur couch I had my eye on...that would have been a major bummer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My virgin run with the Federal Hill Runners

Today, I ran with the Federal Hill Runners.  I haven’t posted in a while because I was feeling like crap and I didn’t want to bore my readers with whining.  So now it’s all positive!

I will talk about a couple things that I have learned.  I can’t take off 3 days in a row, or even two, and expect to see improvements.  I need at least 30-45 min almost every day.  Also, I have learned that everybody is different.  My buddy E does best with every other day running.  Any more than that, and he gets injured.  If I try every other day, I get slower and slower, making me miserable.  There are dudes that run 180 miles per week!  That works out to 20 miles per day!  Assuming I could find that much time each day, that would probably make me hobble around like a 90 year-old.

I’ve been running in the heat the last few days; that plus  my refusal to turn on my AC, is acclimatizing me to the heat.  It’s purely for the sake of my training, I’m not cheap at all.  Honest!

Today’s run was pretty hot.  A lot of the people were complaining about it, but it didn’t really bother me too much.  There are various courses, depending on how fast you run.  The fastest run an extra part along the water that makes it about 7 miles.  The middle group doesn’t run that, but does run around Fort McHenry.  This course is about 6 miles.  And there is another group that skips both extra parts, which makes it more like 5 miles.

This makes everyone finish around the same time, which is very cool.  It’s kind of like hashing in that respect.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, check this out.  Ok, maybe that’s a stretch.  There’s no beer, or singing, or silliness, but they are both non-competitive, and all about socializing with fellow runners.

I ran with the middle group.   I was aware that “this isn’t a race”, so I treated it like a tempo run.  I didn’t want to look like a douche on my first run with them.  Hopefully I succeeded!  I really should put a map here, or a turn-by-turn, but I honestly don’t remember all the turns.  After I run the course a few times, I will post a map.

I didn’t bring my watch, but the pack of girls in front of me said that they did it in 40:something.  If I heard right, and it really was 6 miles, then that works out to a little under 7 min per mile!  Which would be really good for me, a real improvement over the mid 7’s that i had been doing.  If I misheard, then that is ok, too, I still had a good run.

Tomorrow is on the track with TWSS.  I’m going to try to run the Survivor Harbor 7 mile this weekend.  Alternatively, I could do the Patterson 4 miler.  Or I could do both.  The Patterson is in my hood, and only costs $2 for BRRC members, so it would be silly to not run it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I think one major think I need to work on is my diet. I rarely eat vegetables, except in an occasional bowl of soup. I also don't eat much fruit. Most of my nutrition is from the bread group, the lunchmeat group, the cheese group, and the beer group. I used to eat a lot of frozen burritos, but they have a lot of salt and fat, and it was hard to keep my weight in check.

I ran 1:20 at Patapsco yesterday, at I bonked one hour in. I totally ran out of gas. That's really strange, since I ate a good breakfast and lunch. I even had a granola bar before the run. I was so hungry, I was seeing mirages of pasta and rice!

At the end of the run, I found an old packet of Gu in my car, and I squeezed every last drop out of it, like a starving lunatic.

The diet will be difficult to modify until I can get my kitchen fixed up. But it's definitely something I need to think about, especially for the longer runs.

The plan for the rest of the week:
  1. Tuesday: Run hills with TWSS @ RELP
  2. Wednesday: Swim 12-15 laps and maybe jog a few miles
  3. Thursday: First Thursday @ Mt. Vernon: Run or bike there and back. (sure, I will be sweaty, but BFD)
  4. Friday: 1 hour run at Patapsco or RELP, swim 15-18 laps
  5. Saturday: 1 hour run
  6. Sunday: 1 hour run, swim 18 laps (half mile)

I might do a 5K race this weekend in lieu of speedwork on the track.

I would like to bike at B&A or Patapsco this weekend, but I think getting the kitchen done is more important. Life is full of tradeoffs!

On a positive note, I am down 5-7 lbs to 183lbs at 6'2". I think 175 would be ideal.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Doing too much speed?

I didn’t run much this week, since I took off work, and rehabbed my kitchen.  That’s hard work!  I have a lot of respect for people who work in construction for a living.  Especially ones who run!  No wonder they look at us funny.  When you totally deplete yourself at work, and then go running afterwards, that’s a sign of a true masochist.

I didn’t run on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I went to Goucher to run on their track with BRRC.  The goal was 6x800m.  After four, the area on the inside of my right knee started to get tight, I think that’s the IT band, so I skipped #5 and stretched and jogged.  #6 felt fine, so I was relieved.  I think I did too much speedwork last week, and I’m glad I listened to my body, instead of just following a workout plan.  As I get older, I’m finding this strategy works better.

Maybe I should do just one speed session, and do one hill session per week, in addition to the longer steady runs.  I’ll have to think about that.

I didn’t run Friday, and on Saturday, I ran a few miles in the morning before working on the hizzy.

Sunday was a gorgeous day.  Instead of doing rehab work, I just went to Home Depot to get supplies, then I ran and swam.  I did 7 miles from Canton to the Inner Harbor and back at about 2pm.  It was kind of hot; I was glad I brought along a water bottle, and wore my HAT Run hat.  It was kind of slow for me, 8 something per mile.  I guess I need to acclimatize to the heat for the warmer months coming up.  The roof was off the pool, and I did my usual first pool workout, which is 12 laps (24 lengths).  The pool was awesome.  The way the shade falls across the pool, it was cold at one end, and warm at the other!

I finished up with a walk to the Polski festival, where I enjoyed some tasty beverages and ethnic food.

Now that I am back to work, I am going get back into a better running schedule.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I thought I was in half-way decent shape, so I wasn’t too worried when I decided to do speedwork with a new (to me) group.  Running speedwork with a group is definitely better than solo.

What I didn’t take into account, was that I have a LOT more work to do.

The first 400 was my first clue I was in trouble.  Everyone else accelerated away from me within a couple steps off the line, and I was DFL, where I remained for the rest of the lap.

Our workout was a ladder: 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m.  (400m = 1 lap, just in case you didn’t know)  You are supposed to run it around your 5K pace.  I haven’t done a 5k in ages, so I just chose a compromise between my GOAL 5k pace, and something that wouldn’t be TOO embarrassingly behind everyone else, but amazingly right at my goal 5K pace of about 6:00/mi.

The next interval was 800m, one of my favorite distances in high school.  I was determined not to DFL on this one.  On the backstretch, I surged a little, and got to somewhere mid to mid back of the pack, and hung on to finish with a 2:50 or so.  Made me feel better in one way, but that wasn’t too wise as far as being able to complete the workout.  The 1:30 rest period ended way too soon.

As soon as the 1200 started, I knew I was in trouble.  I faded early; I had no gas in the tank.  After one lap, Ryan, the coach, said just keep this one to 800.  That pepped me up, and I think I finished that one around 3:00 to 3:10, somewhere near the 6:00/mi pace I was working on.

Then the 1600 started, and when I saw everyone again drop me in the first few steps, I settled in for more torture.  Ryan again suggested I cut off a lap, to 1200m.  I was grateful, and again, hit my goal pace.

At the start of the 2nd 1200, I was used to the idea of cutting a lap, so I resolved to run it as an 800, without Ryan having to tell me.  I was starting to feel better with the shorter runs and more rest that cutting the laps was giving me.

At the last 400, I decided to finish on a good note, and not DFL.  On the backstretch, I turned on the “jets”, meager as they are, and got to somewhere in the middle of the pack before the final turn, and then held it to the end, in a 75 sec lap.  That’s about 15 seconds faster than I should have, but I was tired of being last, and I needed a psychological boost.

I know it’s probably kind of lame to detail an individual workout like this, but as it was the first real group speedwork on a track in almost 2 decades, this was a big day for me.

Hopefully, I will look back on this in a couple months, and laugh.

This does remind me of the benefit of running with people faster than you.  When I was in HS, I was having problems with my race times being not very impressive, so my coach did something sneaky.  He lied about my times to get me in the faster heats!  I was horrified!  But it worked.

My desire to not DFL was way higher than my desire to “win”.  By getting me into the “fast heat”, it had a stunning impact on my times.  I still finished in the middle, but I had to run way faster to do so.

I am hoping that training with these fast dudes and dudettes will have a similar effect on my training now.

Friday, May 22, 2009



As I was doing my laundry, I thought of Leslie Nielson in the Naked Gun movie, one of the best movies of all time.  Specifically, I was thinking of the scene where he is going through his fridge after being away for a while, and he is smelling the chinese takeout that has been in there for a couple years.  Or maybe it was milk.  I have to rewatch that movie.

This isn’t the right picture, but it is the right look.

This is the look I had when laundering my running clothes.  Yikes.  I guess I need to purchase more, so I don’t have to wear them more than once.  Ok, maybe that was TMI.  But most of the shirts I get from races are cotton, not the best fabric for exercise, so I have a small number of technical running shirts.

Ok, so I do have some of those skin-tight Under Armour shirts, but I haven’t been doing any upper-body work, and those things look terrible unless you really spend some time swimming and/or doing weights.

Yesterday, I ran 6 miles easy at Patapsco.  But there is no such thing as easy at Patapsco.  I did more hills than I should have.  I was trying to recover from the speedwork I did on Tuesday.

Today, I didn’t want to do too much, so I started off with a 20 minute warmup at 8:30 per mile, and then I did a one mile time-trial.  I had a crazy idea that I could break 6 minutes.  That isn’t so far out of the realm of possibility, since I did 6:15 on the 3rd of 4x1 mile intervals on Tuesday.

I guess I wasn’t fully recovered from Tuesday, or maybe I was hungry from working too late, but I did a pitiful 6:20.  No biggie, though.  I’ll keep working at it, and not push too fast.  I have lots of time. 

I’m thinking of running the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K on Saturday.  I guess my goal should be to go out at 6:45 per mile, and see how that feels.  If it’s too much, I’ll drop back to 7, and try to hold on to a sub 7.  I ran 7:20ish per mile 2 weeks ago, and that was on trails.  I think I can do sub 7’s on the road, even if it is hilly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doing speed on Boston Street

Everyone is telling me I should do speedwork.  Currently, I have been running 5 days per week, mostly on trails, with a bit of hills, and one or two fast “tempo runs”. 

So today, I was thinking, where can I do speedwork?  I tried to run at my old high school’s track a few times, but you never know when there’s a lacrosse game that makes running on the track difficult.

I decided to run on a section of Boston St. in Baltimore City.  There are no road intersections, just driveway entrances.

I started at East and Boston, and ran to just beyond Capt. James.  There is a parking lot between Capt. James and the Thai Restaurant.  The first entrance to that parking lot is 1 mile from East St.  Or is it East Ave?  I don’t know.  Does it really matter?  I think not.  Especially since I am the only person reading this, so I really don’t have to go into details!

Anyhow, 1 mile intervals seems like a great way to start into speedwork.  The last time I attempted speedwork, in 2006, I had major hammy problems immediately afterwards.  At the time, I didn’t really consider that maybe the problem was the duck-pin bowling with the deep slide that I tried on the same day.  Duh.

Whatever the cause, I had hammy problems, off and on, mostly on, for 3 years after that day.  Which totally sucked.

Today, I ran 4x1mi.  6:24, 6:31, 6:14, 6:34, with 2:30 rest in between, followed by 2.5 miles easy at 8:45.  Ideally, I would have done even splits, but this is my first REAL attempt at speedwork in a very very long time, so I’m not too worried.

The theory is that you train yourself to run fast, and learn how to keep a pace.  It’s not just a theory, a little speedwork can make a  HUGE difference in your race times.  There’s a bunch of scientific mumbo-jumbo I could go into, describing how exactly it benefits you.  But I don’t really feel like going into that now.

But when I was in high school, I remembered that to train for a 4:40 mile, I would do a bunch of quarters (12x400m) at sub 70 seconds per quarter (race pace).  I figure the same process can be adapted to the 5K and the 10K.  My goals are to get back to sub 6 minute miles for the 5K and 10k.  I need to train my body to re-learn what it is like to run that fast.  Running 1 mile intervals is the first step.  Eventually, I will run halves (800m) at better than goal pace.

There are plenty of websites and books that can give you scientific advice on the best way to train to get to a goal.  That is not what I am trying to do.  My running is more organic, I do what I feel my body can handle.  Since I am a bit older, I need to be concerned about injuries that can ruin a season.  Slavishly sticking to a pre-printed schedule you find in a book is a recipe for disaster, at least for someone in my position.  Believe me, I have done that, ran through excruciating pain, because the book said that’s what I needed to do that day.   Finally, I have realized, the best way to get to your goals is to not get injured.  Maybe I need to say that again.

The best way to achieve your goals is to not get injured.

That means dnf-ing a race because your hammy is acting up, or you are running in really bad weather over insanely technical terrain, and  you have a more important race coming up in a couple weeks, and you don’t want to be picking your teeth off the trail.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prettyboy Trail Race 10K

On Sunday, I ran the “Prettyboy Trail Race 10k”.  Maybe I’m just a juvenile at heart, but I chuckle every time I see that name.

It’s named after the Prettyboy Reservoir, which is one of the water supplies to the Baltimore Metro Area.

This is a local club race, put on by the Baltimore Road Runners Club.  (  $2 for club members, and $6 for non-members.  I almost feel guilty for only paying $2. 

The night before, I was a bit nervous, since my previous few runs felt horrible.  I didn’t get home until 9pm, and I hadn’t had dinner yet.  So I turned on the oven to make a pizza, then I realized that eating late the night before a race doesn’t work out so well.

This is one great reason for writing this blog.  I document what works and what doesn’t.  Hoovering a pizza at 9:30-10pm isn’t a good recipe for a fun, fast race at 8:30am.  So I turned off the oven, and pondered my choices.  Big carbs like pasta were out of the question, and pizza can sometimes cause difficulties in the morning.  Not eating at all would be crazy, since I need some energy, so I decided on a small ham and cheese sandwich.

It turned out to be the perfect choice.  I slept easy, and woke up feeling good!  Carb-loading for a 10K isn’t that important anyway.  It is not long enough.  I would say 10 miles or longer.

I had a sensible breakfast of oatmeal, then headed off to the race.  There was a big sign on the beltway that said, I83 closed due to accident at exit 30.  Ruh-roh.  Since I go by road names, not exit #s, I had no idea if that was before or after my exit.  So I tried going up York Road for a while, but it was too slow, so I decided to risk 83, and if it was shut down, then oh, well, I miss the race.

Luckily, exit 30 was beyond where I had to turn off, Mt. Carmel Rd, so I was good to go.  I followed the directions for a while, then I spied a shortcut, so I took that, of course.  I kept going and going, and I started to get a bit uneasy as the time for the race approached, and I still wasn’t there.  Then I saw a bridge over the Reservoir, and I thought, “I don’t remember having to go over the bridge…”  Just then, I saw a string of cars coming in the opposite direction, with skinny runner-type drivers, so I turned around and followed.  They took another wrong turn, but I figured out the right way to go, and I finally found the race, as everyone was lining up. 

Sorry for the rambling lead in to the story.  I’ll try to get better at that.

Most trail races begin with maybe 1/2 mile to 1 mile of road, to allow people to find their place before it jumps on to the trail.  This is because most trails cannot accommodate many runners at the same time.  Many, in fact, are single file only (called “singletrack”), unless you want to blunder through stickerbushes and wicked rocks NEXT to the trail.

I have found that it is VERY important, if you want to get a decent run in, to go way faster than you normally would at the beginning.  Don’t just start off with your goal pace.  I have done that many times, and then been stuck behind walkers as the race dumps into singletrack.  This is extremely not fun for many reasons.

So I was prepared, and at the “gun”, I started off fast, and all of a sudden, I was in the lead pack, threatening to take the lead!


I am used to running in the middle  to back of the pack, so I was a little thrown by being in the front.  I decided I must be doing something wrong, so I slowed down a bit, but I eventually realized that:

  1. My training is showing benefits
  2. Maybe club races are a bit less competitive, since there is no $$$ at stake.

So I just went with the flow.  We hit the first hill, I let the 3 guys at the front draw ahead.  I didn’t want to spend too much energy going up the hill, so I let a girl get ahead of me too.  Once we crested the hill, I overtook the girl, and we headed into the woods.

These trails are very wide.  They are not technically difficult, not many rocks or roots, so I was happy.  I was able to keep up my speed, I was in 4th, occasionally I would see #3, and I didn’t hear anyone behind me.  I resisted looking back, for two reasons:

  1. Looking back lets people know you are concerned about them, they may take it as a signal to try to surge past you.
  2. Not devoting 100% of your attention to the trail immediately in front of you is a good recipe for catastrophe.  Road runners can close their eyes, jam to their tunes, check out the scenery (including the foxes!), but trail runners who do that will faceplant or worse.

I hit the one mile marker, then the three, and I was feeling great.  I was wondering where the 2nd marker was, but I figured that I missed it.   Since i was already half done, I kept  pushing the pace; I was determined to catch up to the third place guy.  Then I saw the second mile marker.  I checked my watch, and sure enough, the 2 and 3 were mixed up.   So I had 3 more miles to go, and it was a bit disheartening.  I think I slowed slightly to save a bit of energy.

We got into a bit of singletrack somewhere around mile 4 or 5, and I must’ve slowed down, because I suddenly heard footsteps behind me.  (I’m not fast over singletrack)  I chatted with the two guys behind me, which was a good way to pass the time, and I realized running is a good way to socialize.

Jason, myself and Alex were running together for a while, then we got to a monster hill at the 6 mile mark, and Jason hammered ahead, and dropped both of us.  I really felt like walking, but I knew we were almost done so I trudged up hill, and stayed slightly ahead of Alex.

Then I was done.  5th place!  And I avoided getting getting “chicked”!   I would say what my time was, but I forgot to stop my watch, as usual.  I guess I’ll have to wait until the results are posted.

I think I averaged about 7:20 per mile, which is quite good for me, especially in a trail run.  And running at the front was fun and challenging as well.  You can’t just follow everyone else!

So that was my first attempt at a race recap.  I’ll try to keep them shorter in the future.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

5 things you can do to avoid Turtlehead Attacks during your morning run:

Maybe I didn’t choose the best name for my blog. Now that topic is the only thing I think about during my runs. This morning, for instance, I ran around the harbor, and had to cut short the run, because I had “issues”. I ended up doing less than 5 miles, at a very slow pace. I won’t even mention it here.

Perhaps it was because I ate several chimichangas really late last night, and then ran early this morning. Perhaps I didn’t eat enough for breakfast (ie zero); oatmeal or a cliff bar might have helped “make things happen” BEFORE the run.

I think it’s a combination of the above factors. This is making me think of a list. Everyone loves lists, right? At least that’s what they say in the blogging books!

  1. Don’t eat too late the night before. 10 is bad. 11 is worse. 1am is awful. If you are carb-loading, this is even more important. Really. Unless you want to make several pit stops and lose 15 minutes on a 50K run, eat at 7pm or before.
  2. Eat something for breakfast. I prefer oatmeal, as it is easy to digest. I don’t recommend a Grand Slam at Denny’s! There are a lot of theories on breakfasts before a long run, I’ll write a separate post on that later. But basically, find something that works for you, and don’t experiment the night before a big race. Trust me on this!
  3. Make sure you allow enough time for bodily functions AFTER you eat, and BEFORE the run.
  4. This may sound kinda funny, but your body likes to set a rhythm. If your daily routine is to release the hostages mid-morning at work, then realize that if you are doing a long run, you might feel the need to go in the middle of your run. Set your routine so it won’t interfere with your run.
  5. Try to limit alcohol the night before. It will dehydrate you and mess up your routine. If you have to get your drink on, I advise going for a mid-afternoon or evening run.

Sometimes, even the best plans go awry. It’s a good idea to plan ahead in case of difficulties. Choose a course that has public facilities or restaurants that won’t mind you dropping in to say “hi”. Sometimes, if I am not feeling too well, I’ll just circle my neighborhood or zigzag down the streets, so I am never too far from the hizzy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The perils of drinking soapy water

Last night (Thursday) I went running at my favorite location, Patapsco Park’n’Ride.  I had to work late because I was waiting on stuff that people were supposed to submit at 9am….ah, I don’t want to rant about my work.  Breathe….ok, back to my blog post.

So anyhow, I roll up at 7pm, and I know I have about an hour before the sun goes down, do I do my favorite 1 hour trail.

One thing I immediately notice, is that I don’t see anybody.  WTF is everyone?  Perhaps they are concerned about the damage their feet and wheels might do to the trails?  I normally would be in that camp, but after several days of rain, and several days more forcasted, I get like a crack-head, and I just gotta get my trail fix.

So I’m having a great run, all by myself, then I see this guy prancing around the muddy trail with gleaming white shoes, choosing each step with extreme care, and I just had to laugh.  Patapsco, even in the driest conditions, is not the place you go if you want to keep your shoes clean.  It was really weird seeing a grown man do that.

So I keep going, and I water my favorite tree at the top of the first hill.  Dogs seem to like that tree, too, so I gotta make sure they know who’s boss.  Territory marking is essential.

I’m having a wonderful run, then all of a sudden, I remember the water glass at work, and maybe I should have been more diligent in rinsing the soap out of it.  Yikes.  Drinking soapy water isn’t a great idea.  I don’t advise it.

So the second half of the run, as the sun marches inexorably towards the horizon, I am focusing more urgently on holding back the turtleheads.

Whenever you find yourself in this situation, you start to take stock of what you have, and what could be used in case of “emergency”.  Many people joke about using socks as TP, but after you have been running in the mud for an hour, I really don’t advise it, especially once Poision Ivy season starts.  Some advocate using your underwear, and leaving it behind.  That assumes you HAVE underwear.  Some bring along TP, but that involves way too much pre-planning, and besides, if it rains, it won’t be very useful.  Using leaves on the ground may be the best option, but you have to KNOW what kind of leaves they are, or you may be in for a few weeks of extreme discomfort.

The best case is to just hold it in, and tough it out, if you can.  Which is what I did.  I almost wiped out a couple times on the way back, as the light was fading, but I made it back ok.

The NerdWatch says I did 1:01, 5.something miles at 11:00 per mile.  It’s hard to go fast at Patapsco.  But I spent 900 calories, so it was all good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today’s Run

Today, I was going to run at Patapsco State Park, but it started pouring right as a left work, so I decided to run around the harbor instead.

You might think I am a wuss…

But I didn’t want to get sick or injured, so the run on pavement seemed like my best choice.

I didn’t have my GPS watch, so I only know I ran 48 minutes.  I’m guessing it was about 6 miles, maybe a bit less.  I was not pushing it at all.  Taking it easy.

I’ve learned that I can’t go all out every day, because that is a recipe for injury.

Hopefully, the weather will clear up a bit for tomorrow, because I REALLY need to get back on the trails.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Today’s Run

Todays run: 10K (6.1mi) around the harbor on the Promenade. 43:36, which works out to 7:09 per mile! This is really good for me. I haven’t been running this well since my late teens. (a very long time ago!) Ok, it’s possible that I have ran this well since then, but I didn’t have a fancy Dork Watch™ with GPS, heart rate monitor, and chick repellant. So I never knew how fast I was running.

I guess a new goal will be to break 42:00 for the 10K. When I was a freshman at UMD, I timed myself at 35:56 for 6 miles. But my best 10K is a little over 42:00 at the Clyde’s 10K. That extra .1 miles was a killer! Clyde’s is one of my favorite races, btw, because they have great food and beer apres. Well, let me correct that. They have great food, and they have beer (Michelob Ultra). I am not so much of a snob that I won’t drink it, though.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Trail Running is therapudic

Last week, or maybe it was 2 weeks ago, I ran one too many times on the roads, and I hurt my ankle. I tried various things, like RICE, trying to figure out what caused it, etc...

I cut back on the running, and all the glorious gains I had experienced evaporated. I went back up from mid 180's to low 190's (pounds that is), leg muscle definition went soft, and generally felt miserable.

I then decided to give up on trying to run on the roads, and went back to trails. Every other day, I run 1 to 1.5 hours on the trails, and my ankle problems largely went away.

Plus, I ran a 5 mile trail race on Sunday, and I did unexpectedly well. I could still see the frontrunners after a mile! I lost some places on the first 600ft hill, but I slowed down a bit and got my legs and wind back, and didn't lose any more spots. I actually avoided getting "chicked"! This is something I haven't been able to do since the early 1990's!

I'm constantly amazed at how therapudic trail running is vs. road running.

Perfectionism = No Posts

Ah, a fate common to many new blogs. The blogger finds all kinds of excuses not to write...

Actually, I have written a couple posts but I haven't published them yet, because I wasn't happy with them. They need more work.

Which reminds me of something. I've been reading blogging books as a way to procrastinate, and the thing many people say, is that blogs are not supposed to be perfect. You are supposed to just stream your consciousness onto your keyboard, and then hit the "Post" button.

I find that difficult. I am a perfectionist. I need to get everything absolutely RIGHT. The downside of this is a lot of half-finished projects. So I am going to endeavor to just post stuff and see what happens. I can always edit them later. (yeah, right!)

And it's not like anyone is actually reading this, except me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Troubleshooting an Injury

On my run tonight, I noticed some nagging old pains, and some new ones.  It made me think about some troubleshooting techniques I use when diagnosing computer problems.

The first step is to gather as much info as possible about the problem.  The outside of the right ankle had a somewhat sharp pain (which is a somewhat recurring thing over the last couple years), and my right hip and left inside ankle started to hurt as well.

The second step is to think back and try to remember what you have done differently.  You may come up with a long list.  In my case my list consisted of: 

  1. I didn’t drink any beer last night
  2. I tried picking up my knees a bit more (altered stride)
  3. I ran a good ways on a cobblestone street because of a detour.

Next step is to discard the things that are unlikely to be the source of the problem.

While I’d really like the problem to be lack of beer, that is unlikely to be the cause.

Altering my stride by picking up my knees could very well do it.

Cobblestones can definitely cause injuries, but it wasn’t very far, maybe a block or two.

I now have two reasonable suspects.  If I changed both things tomorrow, and the problem went away, I would have no idea what fixed it.  So the best course of action is to only change one thing at a time.  This is important, so I will repeat it:

Only change one thing at a time!

I had this problem off and on for a year, and then it mysteriously went away.  I tried different things, but I didn’t keep a record or journal of what I did.   This is another important thing to remember:

Keep a journal!

It doesn’t have to be on the internet, like this one.  It could be in a spiral notebook.   Just keep track of the distance and or time you ran, and any information on how you felt.  You will not only be able to better diagnose injuries, but you might discover other interesting things you never suspected.  There a lot of things you can keep in the running journal, enough for a separate post.

The Top 6 Reasons for starting this blog

1.  Keeps me running.  If I don't run, I have nothing to write about.  And my waistline expands at a truly alarming rate!
2.  Outlet for griping.  My specialty!
3.  Review some running-related products that I liked, and some that I didn't like.  I really like searching "the internets" for product reviews before I purchase something, so maybe they will help you decide what cool new swag you get.
4.  Watch less TV.  TV is like a zombie, sucking out your brain like the people sucking down cheap domestic beer during happy hour.
5.  Socialize with other like-minded people.
6.  Share some of my favorite trail runs in the Baltimore area.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My first post

Hi, welcome to my blog!
This is my first forray into blogging, so I will be testing things out, seeing what looks good and what doesn't.  It'll take a while to get everything the way I want it.