Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: By The Numbers

By The Numbers
2012
Year End Edition

     It was 4 years ago this month that I came to the realization that I needed to make health a bigger priority in my life. Very early on I concluded that the best thing I could do for myself was to not focus on any one discipline, but instead to create as much variety as possible on a day to day basis. 

     Running, cycling, swimming, strength training, stretching and eating for fuel became a way of life. Event training gave me something to focus my workouts on, but at the core it has never been about about finish times or finish places. It is mostly about staying off of medications and self image. Sure, I have awoke some mornings hungry to find out just how much punishment this body can take, and I have had to ask myself from time to time if I was perhaps being too reckless, only to reply "Nothing is reckless when I have conditioned my body to the point of being indestructable!"

     I entered 2012 with a mentality that I needed to try spending more time just "enjoying the ride" and let go of some of the focus and intensity that was driving my life and workouts. Then, in almost stark contrast, I trained for and ran the Blue Ridge Half Marathon resulting in a PR and 2nd place master award. A week or so later I did the Trail Nut 10k and picked up the 1st place master award. A month after that I did a sprint triathlon in Salem and while I didn't place well enough for an award, I still logged some stats that will be hard for me to beat moving forward.

     Then, in fairly short order, I just didn't want to fight for it anymore and I've been just kinda going through the motions ever since. I'm kinda stuck in a conflicted state because taking away some intensity and focusing more on "enjoying the ride" was clearly my goal for 2012, still letting go of my high intensity kick has created a general sense of remorse. All in all, it really doesn't matter as long as I have my health. Health is fundamental. Fitness, however, is more ego driven. 

     Going into 2013 my health is still good by generally accepted standards, but I am a few lbs over AMA guidelines (both pre and post workout), I'm eating more for flavor than I am for fuel. Yet, I find that I'm starting to get some intensity back in my game from time to time. I'm not sure where its all going as I continue to push myself in competing directions...but at least I'm enjoying the ride!

The Charts

The Vitals
This is my post workout weight which is what my weight is at when it it is at its lowest each day. I stayed around 165-168 when I was peaking athletically in the spring. I've put on a few pounds of mostly healthy muscle weight since then, but muscle or fat either way is a liability to speed. Hadn't intended to go past 170 lbs, but am currently averaging about 177.
I've tended to not concern myself with weight to much as long as my Body Fat % stays under 15%, which it has. I may need to abandon this philosophy moving forward.
Blood Pressure has test results have not been a cause for concern.

My pre breakfast, pre workout weight. Steadily climbing since I started tracking it in April. I think I need to start trending this in the opposite direction.
BMI. Useless if you lift weight regularly, but I record it anyways.
  
The Mileage 
I haven't swam since September. Time to change that.
Cycling had been dropping off too when my triathlon season ended, but I need to get my core solid again, so I'm back on the bike regularly.
Dropped my run mileage back during the summer and I believe it cost me. I look forward to keeping a stronger run base in 2013
All miles total including run, bike, swim, hike, walk, and elliptical.
   
             

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Training For VA Creeper: Week 4

Training For VA Creeper Marathon
Week 4/16

     Mon: Progressive Hill Repeats: 4.35 miles: Did a warm up and a cool down on the elliptical and did the run in the middle. I kept my expectations to a minimum and started the run just looking to stay comfortable for the first lap, then progress from there. The faster I ran, the better it felt.

     Wed: Recovery/Tempo: Just kickin' it around easy today. Started out looking to maybe challenge myself, but then decided against it. I want this to be a low intensity week, so paces in the 9's are acceptable.

     Fri: Long/Intervals: Low intensity week, so I put a lot of walking in to this one, but I did go a longer distance than I had planned, so I it probably evens out some where. I had had wanted to see if  this route would be a full 26.2 mile marathon, but it came up a little short. My warm up walk to the starting line was 1/2 mile so that makes it a full marathon, but I only Garminized the Parkway/ Explore Park sectionsThe results show significant improvement from the similar, but shorter course of 5 and 6 weeks ago.


Pace Treadmill Trail Asphalt
Total
5

1
1
6 

1
1
7

7
7
  8
1 8
9
  9

10.5
10.5
  10

3
3
  11
2
2
 12




 




Walking 
1.5 7
8.5
 




  Total


42



  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Training For VA Creeper: Week 3

Training For VA Creeper Marathon
Week 3/16

     Original training plan for this week is being significantly altered from the posted schedule because I had underestimated the recovery time from Saturdays Chestnut Ridge 50k. Even taking it easy, I find that 1 full rest day and 1 additional day of light recovery based cardio is needed after 31 miles. 

     Tues: Tempo: 12 Miles: Same goal as last week, except on a slightly easier course. I wanted to see how long I could hold a pace in the 7's and I made it 8 miles. Almost had the ninth mile, but missed it by hair. The big improvement here was keeping my burn out pace contained to the 8's where as last week I saw some high 9's. 

     Fri: Long: 20.47 Miles: This was one of those mornings when its just cold enough to make you want to stay inside and drink coffee. I knew there would be days like this when I signed up for a spring marathon though, so no excuses. My plan was called for 20 miles with a run 6 / walk 1 strategy pacing the run segments in the 9's. I decided I was further along with my progress than that, so I threw it out the window and went with a 20.47 mile route and a goal of running all 20.47 at a steady pace in the low 9's. I got to feeling confident after the first 10, so I upped it into the 8's for the last 10 miles for an easy negative split. I was however exhausted after 20 and ended up walking the last .47, but I even with the walking the avg pace was still a 9:06 which is just a minute above my marathon pace target. I can be happy with where I'm at knowing next weeks long run is a low intensity easy paced one.

       
Pace Treadmill Trail Asphalt
Total
5




6 

7
8
 8
  8
 14
 14
  9
 10
10
  10


  11


 12


 




Walking  <1
 




  Total 32
 32


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Training For VA Creeper: Week 2

Training For VA Creeper Marathon
Week 2/16

     Sun: Family Walk: 5.23 miles: Taking it easy again this Sunday. My priority for the family walks is for me to set the distance and let my daughter set the pace. So far, so good.

     Mon: Treadmill: 6.75: Intervals + Speed: After a short bike ride to the gym I hit the treadmill with a loose aspiration of holding 9 mph for the first 4 miles, but it wasn't feeling right so I did the first mile at 9 mph, the 2nd mile at 7.6 mph, then I alternated between 7.6 and 9 mph at 1/2 mile intervals for the last 2 miles. For speed work I did 2 miles alternating each 1/2 mile between walking and sprinting at 9.6 mph.

     Wed: Dedicated Parkway 12 Miler: Tempo: Tried to hold it in the upper 7's, but started getting fatigued after 6, so I slowed into the 8's and 9's, but still finished strong with a 6 to wrap it up. Interesting note is that miles 10 and 11 both start out with 1/4 mile steep inclines which I uncharacteristically decided to walk. In this instance it probably helped my legs recuperate some and I was still able to pull off a sub 10 pace on those miles. 

     SAT: Chestnut Ridge 50k (Phase 1, 2 & 3): Long: Just wanted to know what a 50k feels like so I set out to do 6 laps of the 5.5 ish mile Chestnut Ridge Loop trail. I didn't want to provoke an over use injury by running a distance that I'm not trained up to, so I took it nice and slow and did plenty of hiking. My overall strategy was run 4 then hike 1.5 to finish the loop. By the end of lap 4 I had hit a 13 month distance PR, by the end of lap 5 I had hit an all time distance PR and a 13 month PR for total miles ran in a day. Starting lap 6 I couldn't hardly summon up anything but a cozy little scoot, so I just did 2 miles, then walked 2.5 on the road to finish up with 31.28 miles...enough to qualify as a 50k! It was exhilarating, exhausting and interesting.



Pace Treadmill Trail Asphalt
Total
5




6  3
1
4
7 2
6
8
  8
1 1
2
  9
6 4
10
  10
4

4
  11
7

7
 12
2

2
 




Walking  2 12 4
18
 




  7 32 16
55
 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Jingle Bell 5k

2012 Jingle Bell 5k

     No big write up for this one. I don't have a lot invested in high intensity training right now, but I was taking it for granted that I could pace a sub 7. Ultimately that didn't happen...I'm not stressin on it though, it just gives me something to reflect on. 

     I did want to use my GoPro to capture a taste of the race environment from a fresh perspective. Previously I have used my GoPro in a non competitive triathlon, and in a couple of cool down 5k laps after having already raced the course. This was my first time wearing it while actually racing


 Jingle Bell 5k
2012-time 22:02 (chip), pace: 7:06 (chip), Place 58/1183 overall, 7/63 in my age group, 50/542 among men

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Training For VA Creeper: Week 1

Training for VA Creeper Marathon
Week 1/16

     Sun: Short Recovery: 4.4 mile family walk. No regard for pace, just enjoying fresh air and nature with the family.

     Tues: Long Recovery: 12 miles: I'm leaving my weekly 12 miler open as an undedicated run type for this training cycle. I'll see how I feel when I wake up and run the prescribed miles accordingly. Today I just wanted to take it easy and spend some time at a comfortable pace on the trails. Its way to early to be concerned with speeds right now.

     Thurs: Long Intervals: 20 miles: Employed a run 6 / walk 1 strategy. Each of the three 6 mile segments were split in half with a different pace target for each half. I know the terrain well, so I just picked something that seemed like it would be a touch past comfortable. This was my first time (recently) doing 20 with just 2 walk segments instead of 3, so I was happy I was able to pull it off with a sub 10 avg pace. Skipped my speed work on Monday, so I'm doing a race Saturday as a substitute. I would have done this run tomorrow, but I will need to rest tomorrow for Saturdays race.

     Sat: Race: 3.1 miles: As a substitute for the 4 mile tempo I would have done on Monday, I would have liked to have seen a steady pace in the 6's. I ended up with only 1 mile in the target range and the other 2 were in the low and mid 7's respectively. Not too concerned with it though, I don't really need a high intensity kick for a marathon PR in March, I just like to maintain it for a wider dynamic range.

     Something new I'm doing for this training cycle is what I'll call a weekly intensity chart. My hypothesis is that by monitoring my average speeds over the course of a week I'll be able to target peak miles sporadically instead of in concentrated bursts like in tempo runs and that doing so will help me gain more consistent pace control.

 
PaceTreadmillTrailAsphalt
Total
5




6 
 1
1
7
 5
5
  8

 6
6
  9
4 6
10
  10
23
5
  11
4

4
 12
2

2
 




Walking  1 5
6
 




  Total
1326
39
 
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

2012 Drumstick Dash 5k

2012 Drumstick Dash 5k minus

History
     The course for this years running of the Drumstick Dash 5k has been altered due to construction, so comparisons to previous years runnings of the same event are invalid. Also, the new course came up a good .20-.25 mile short of a true 5k, so time comparisons to other 5k's are essentially invalid as well. I do have a streak of 4 years as an event history with the Drumstick Dash and it usually works out to be one of my better performances. In 2009 it was my first 5k, in 2010 I set my 5k PR with a 19:21 and a 4th place Age Group finish, and in 2011 it was my only 5k that year and I finished 4th place Age Group with a 19:47.

Expectation
     My stats lately indicate that I am only able to hold a sub 7 pace for 2 miles, so if I can keep my 3rd mile in the low 7's I'll be happy with that. Even with a short course, everybody will still be racing the same distance, so maybe some of the faster Age Groupers will not show up and I can squeeze out a top 3.

 Results

     I finished with a sub 7 avg pace and 5th of 171 in my Age Group. That's about the best I could have realistically expected. The official timing service web site shows me in 6th, but the 1st place would get factored out to the masters spot, so I'm documenting it as a 5th place Age Group finish per typical race procedures.
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Garmin Data HERE
2012 Drumstick Dash        

time: 19:27 (chip) 19:27 (gun), pace: 6:50/M, Place 151/3743 overall, 5/171 in my age group, 132/1928 [Course too short for inclusion in 5k stats, pace above based on Garmin w 2.85 mi] 

  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2013 Creeper Trail Marathon Training Schedule

2013 Creeper Trail Marathon Training Schedule

     One of my favorite things about racing is coming up with training schedules and seeing what works and what doesn't. My most recent training schedule was geared towards a PR at the Star City Half Marathon and that didn't work out so well. I learned two things...1) Running 5 days a week is not right for me and 2) I can't come off a weak running base and escalate my mileage and intensity simultaneously.
     
     Keeping these things in mind, I have come up with a new training schedule with the intention of getting a PR at the 2013 Creeper Trail Marathon on March 24. The experiment in this training plan is that I will be starting out with my current mileage base and barely escalating it at all and focusing mostly on a slow gradual escalation of intensity. Additionally, I will be abandoning the traditional 20 mile long run every 4th week and replacing it with a 30 miler. My long runs will include significant walking and hiking breaks at predetermined intervals, so that my base mileage will stay the same even as my intensity on these runs will rise and fall in 4 week cycles.

         


Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 Star City Half Marathon

2012 Star City Half Marathon

History

     I have no course/event history with the Star City 1/2 Marathon, however it works out very well logistically given that it is close to home. Taking a slight stretch, I can claim a consistent 2 1/2 year history of racing the half marathon distance on asphalt, once in the spring and once in the fall with the spring event being the Blue Ridge Half Marathon and the fall event being the half way point of the full Richmond Marathon.

     2010 gave me a 1:49:27 at the Blue Ridge Half and a 1:35:45 at the half way point in Richmond.
     2011 gave me a 1:37:19 at the Blue Ridge Half and a 1:36:02 at the half way point in Richmond
and so far
     2012 gave me a 1:35:29 at the Blue Ridge Half with Star City Half to be determined...

Expectation

     I suspended my high intensity training about 6 weeks ago because I felt like I was over training and possibly putting myself at risk for an injury. I have continued running with an emphasis on merely covering the distance at a comfortable effort. I'd like to see myself hold a sub 8 pace for the whole event, but given my recent Garmin stats and unfamiliarity with the course I won't be disappointed if I start slipping into the 8's for the last 3 miles of the course. I will be disappointed if I do worse than than 1:49:27 which was my 2010 Blue Ridge Half time, but I will get over it quickly enough and just be glad that I completed another half marathon.

The Event
      
Star City 1/2 route per Garmin
      This race turned out a lot better than I had anticipated in many ways, but the memory I want to carry forward as a priority is the finish. My wife, Denise, a walker, was participating in the 10k run/walk simultaneously as I was running the half. We had joked some about racing each other to our respective finish lines, but never actually anticipated finishing at the same time. The 10k finish shoot and the Half Marathon finish shoot were on opposite sides about 25 yards apart. I crossed my finish line, made my way to the exit and just as I was setting out to find Denise, she crossed the 10k finish line. Technically I finished a few seconds ahead, but we were both in the combined finish shoot at the same time, so I call that an "alignment" event...and deem it a sign that the stars above are happy with my marriage.

Star City 1/2 elevation profile per Garmin

     I started this race knowing I needed to pace myself in the mid 7's for a strong finish, but as is typical I was unable to contain myself and ended up running the first 2 miles at a sub 7 pace. I can only imagine that it did not cost me much later in the race as I fell into a mid 7 pace by mile 3 and stayed there for the rest of the race with the exception of the one mile with the most elevation gain where I slipped into the mid 8's. I finished with an "official" avg pace of 7:41, and I can be happy with that since it represents a significant improvement from where my training runs have been.    

     The course is easily broken down into 3 segments: The Start/Downtown loop, The old Southwest loop, and the Greenway/finish loop. 

     The Start/Downtown loop. I felt really good for the first 2 miles and was keeping the race leaders in my sights. By the time the course took us to the Hotel Roanoke I was starting to feel too fatigued to keep up with that crowd and a steady stream of younger folks started passing me regularly. I found a steady 7-ish pace as we hit a small section of Greenway and followed it to a Holiday Inn and Gainsboro Rd. As the course took us to Shenandoah Ave I was starting to doubt my performance, but I just kept thinking about an ageless peace of wisdom that an older runner gave me once when he said "It takes 6 miles just to get warmed up!" We took the 5th St. bridge back to the VA transportation Museum, followed a path back to Jefferson Rd, and headed back to the start area.

     The Old Southwest loop. Right at the 6 mile mark we make our way past the start area and sure enough I'm starting to feel in my zone with the mid to high 7's. Unfortunately it all ends as we head up Avenham and I can't hold my pace. 8:20 for that one, but I recovered fast enough and got my groove back on in the 7's as we made our way back towards Wiley Dr.

     The Greenway/Finish loop. Up to this point I had only been monitoring my pace, but with just 5k left to run I started trying to estimate what I was looking at for a finish time. Hitting the 10 mile mark I was happy to see that I was staying close to what I had done at the Greenway Memory Miler 3 weeks earlier. I started thinking about surprising myself with a sub 1h40m time. It was going to be close, but when I tried to summon up some extra intensity, it just wasn't there. I resided to just hold my pace in the 7's and take what I get. I ended up with a 1:40:41.9 and I can't complain because it put me in the finish shoot at the same time Denise was finishing her 10k walk. Picked up a nice finishers medal and a 2nd place Age Group medal too!
Finishers Medal, 2nd Place AG Medal, Number, and Event Hoodie

     The Star City Half Marathon 
2012- time 1:40:41, Pace 7:41/M, Place 56/573 overall, 2/39 in my age group, 44/253 among men
Garmin Data HERE 

Usually I prefer not to listen to tunes when running unless I'm on a treadmill. I decided to do something random and listened to this playlist for todays race.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 Greenway Memory Miler

2012 Greenway Memory 10 Miler

     I ran this event in 2011 and have to say I reflect on it as perhaps one of the top race performances I've ever done. Holding a sub 7 pace for a full 10 miles was a huge accomplishment for me last year and I haven't duplicated it since in training or other wise. Returning to this event in 2012 I had looked at my recent training stats and determined that a 7-7:20/M avg pace would reflect a solid high end performance so my expectations were adjusted accordingly.
1st Place Age Group.
 Garmin Data HERE

2012 Greenway Memory 10 Miler
Time: 1:13:35, pace: 7:22/M, Place 9/75 overall, 1/5 in my age group & 8/38 among men

     The race itself is a low key local event that does not draw a huge body of participants from what I've seen. I'd like to see about double the participation rate in future years to ensure its survival. 10 mile races are not common and those of us who favor the distance on asphalt only have the Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg and this one in Roanoke to choose from. (There is also the Montvale Trail 10 miler for trail enthusiasts.)

     Many of us in the running community train for full and half marathons and with a late October race date the Greenway Memory 10 Miler is well situated as a last stop practice race to gauge race day performance. Last year I was training for the full Richmond Marathon and had a few 20 mile long runs under my belt. This year I had been training for the Star City Half (which I have since suspended training for) and my weekly long runs have been considerably fewer and shorter so 10 miles this year was a challenge even at the slower pace.

     I had thought to be able to hold a sub 7 pace for 4 or 5 miles, but I lost my high end kick after just 2 miles and settled into a low to mid 7 pace for the remainder of the event. I established 7th place shortly after the first mile, got passed 3 times over the next 7 miles, and passed one back with about 2 miles to go. One of the spots in front of me was the 1st place female, so I took 9th overall, 8th among men and 1st among men 40-44 years of age.

     It was nice to get back in the top 10 and run an entire event knowing exactly what my position is, but the low turn out makes the place stats less of a factor than what they would be in a larger event. Ultimately, I just like to reflect on the time and pace to gauge my longer term goal of a good run on Nov 17th at the Star City Half.

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     When I stated that I suspended my training for the Star City Half, I was referring to the fact that I have cut out speed work intervals and tempo runs, but I still intend to maintain a good mileage base and run the event to the best of my ability. Looking at my avg pace of 7:18 and 1:13:30 finish time from today's Greenway Memory 10 Miler, I can estimate about a 7:30 pace at the half and a sub 1h40m finish..., but its all speculative.