Monday, August 31, 2009

training 8/30-9/5

8/30- 4 miles at Vestavia @ 7:30. A little too fast but I like that I had the energy to do this. Mild pick up in the last 200. Even splits.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=4.0
8/31-Lakeshore 6 in 46:12 (7:42 pace). Again, that's a little fast but these paces should slow down when I get some more mileage under my belt. Started a bit fast but never went over 7:50. Felt very strong and could have kept going much longer. This was 3:21 marathon pace and it felt almost effortless.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0
9/1- Long intervals. Transition phase of training is in full swing. 3x1Mile intervals with a 4 min. passive R. Times were 6:02-5:58-5:54 for an average of 5:58. No fast quarter for dessert because my groin was tender. Hopefully, it will be okay tomorrow. Overall, a fair assessment of my current fitness. I wanted to average 6-flat, which I did but to run a PR 5K, I need to average 6:10 with no rest. Today, I could not have done that. I hit my goal so this goes in the books as "good" but not "excellent"
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=4.5
9/2- Groin was not okay the next day. Not knowing if this is an injury or just more abnormal muscle soreness is really making me feel uneasy. Hopefully I just need to adjust my formula again. 4 days away from race day. What a shock! Both right and left groins were killing me all day so I skipped the Trak Shak run and simply jogged a mile in 8:00 which left my groin feeling about the same. If this is a strained muscle, I don't think I could have done any running at all.
Grade:D-/1 credit/distance=1.0
9/3- Lakeshore 5 miler untimed but at an easy effort. Significant improvement over the previous day but still a little sluggish and stiff in the groin area. The improvement could have been as a result of adding zinc or cutting out Serine. One of the two. I'm 50/50 on Tupelo and if I run, it will only be a training run. No pressure.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance=5.0
9/4-Took Serine in the morning and felt miserable for the rest of the day. Unscheduled rest day and too sore to even try. I'm cutting out the Serine for good but I may need a 1/2 chromium every few days. No go on Tupelo and the race is sold out anyway. I am not pleased but at least I'll save some money but not racing this weekend.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=0
9/5-Today I was only mildly sore and mildly depressed. I really didn't feel like doing anything except staying in bed but I forced myself to get out there this afternoon. 2 miles pretty much all out in a time of 15:15 (more than 3 minutes off my PR). This was an improvement over the day before.
Grade:D/1 credit/distance=2.5
Weekly Summary:
Distance= 23.0 GPA= 2.09
Nothing more to say that is not already obvious.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reflections on summer speed training

The skinny:
-15 week training cycle averaging 34.4 miles per week.
-81% of my workouts were run faster than 8:00 pace with most of the remaining 19% between 8:00-8:15. I think my slowest run was around 8:30. To put that in perspective, my marathon PR, set in my last training cycle was 3:43:22 (8:31 pace).
When the goal race is a 5K or even a 10K, that type of mileage will do. For a marathon or even a half, that's not nearly enough. Training at this type of intensity year round is a very bad idea and puts me at risk for an injury or relapse. My rationale is that since it is very difficult to run high mileage in the Alabama heat and humidity unless you are either running at 5 AM or after 8 PM, now is the time to work on speed. The results? Well, it ended on a bit of a sour note with back to back weeks of 2.26 and 2.19 but overall not too bad. Few runners can achieve everything they set out to do in a training cycle and they don't have to deal with chemical imbalances and roller coaster energy levels so I should be pleased with what I have done this summer.
Here are some of the highlights:
-I developed a bit of a manic obsession with running a 400 in 59.9 or under. I broke 62 seconds 3 times but fell short by 1.23 seconds or less than 5 seconds per mile. It was frustrating to continually come so close but if you had told me one year ago that I could even run under 65, I would have been very pleased. Also, these were solo time trials. With close competition, I believe that I could have done it. The window of opportunity is the shortest at this distance but I still think that it will not close for another 2-3 years when I am 32.
-Tied my best of the decade with a 2:24 800. This is my strongest track PR (2:13) and a fast time is less important because a PR is out of reach this year but I did chop 6 seconds off last year's time.
-Cut off 8 seconds from last year's Mile with a time of 5:22, which is my fastest since '99 and just 7 seconds from my lifetime goal and 13 away from a PR.
-5K in 19:27. That's only 14 seconds, less than 5 per mile, away from an all time PR. I want that one badly and will take another shot at it in the Fall.
-5 Mile in an all time PR of 33:36. I didn't race that distance in HS so it doesn't mean quite as much but any PR is a great feeling.
Any regrets about this cycle?
Yes. Especially toward the end, I went too far with the time trials. One a month is okay but for a while, I was doing one every Friday. A couple of times, I wasn't feeling quite 100% and still took a shot at 59.9. Certainly, I would have been better off doing a regular workout.
Plans for the remainder of the year:
First, I need to get the mileage up. I will strive for a minimum of 45 MPW. I'll still run speed workouts but they will not be as frequent as during this cycle. No more 400s or 800s. I do want to take another shot a the 5:15-5:20 Mile. My 2 Mile PR of 11:31 is my weakest on the track and I think I have a chance at that one before the year is out. As for my racing plans, I will most likely run the 14.2 in Tupelo next weekend as a fun run. After that, I want a new 10K PR (42:43) and have picked out a race in Monty on 9/19 that should be a flat course. I may race a 5K in October but after that I will be in half marathon mode. I'm considering 2 Novemeber races (Chicamauga or Huntsville). If I PR there, I may call it a season. Otherwise, I will consider 2 December races a little further from home (Baton Rouge or Point Clear, near Mobile).
Looking ahead to 2010, I'm leaning towards running the full at Mercedes on my home course and if I can break 3:30 there, my first BQ attempt will be in the fall. All of this is Lord willing.
On the medical front:
Being released from the chromium dependency could be a major victory. I had better see significant progress on my next medical report. If not, I may need a break from running

Sunday, August 23, 2009

training 8/23-8/29

8/23- Because my unbalanced body refused to cooperate with me yesterday, I wanted to bounce back with something hard today. My body had other ideas. My breathing was labored during the warm up and after striding a 200 in 42, I knew that I would not even come close to my target time in the 800 so I ended up going 4 miles easy in 30:13 (7:34 pace). Even pace and I never felt terribly uncomfortable but if this had been a race or time trial, it would have been a weak performance. This was more than 60 seconds slower than my race pace at this distance and I couldn't have gone too much faster. Probably about a high 21 5K and about a 2:45 800 but that's still a nice improvement over yesterday's debacle.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance=4.5
8/24- Bad day all around. Shortly after waking up, my body rudely reminded me that it was short on chromium so I took 1 friggin' pill and it took me too far in the opposite direction. By the end of the day, I was struggling to stay awake at work. I did a 1/2 mile warm up when I got home and struggled to a 4:05. Running almost all out, I could only run marathon pace for a 1/2 mile. Why bother even trying to do the real workout? This is worse than an F.
Grade:F-/1 credit/distance=0.5
8/25- Took 1/2 pill today and had an immediate negative reaction but this time got better by the afternoon. Showed up at Johnny's workout not expecting much but did better than expected. 4x800 in 2:44, 400 in 64, 200 in 30. plus cool down.
Grade: B/ 2 credits/distance=3.5
8/26- Weak. Sore muscles and shortness of breath. That's a double whammy. Good news is that I managed to finish the workout. Trak Shak 5 @ 7:40 average. First 1.5 or so was slow then I picked up the pace to the tempo range but it was too hard and I backed off to my easy pace. I was spent after the workout. This was a downer. Hopefully I can regroup tomorrow.
Grade: C/1 credit/distance=5.0
8/27- Another all around bad day. Took manganese in an effort to knock out the groin soreness and no chromium. I don't know yet if it was the manganese or the lack of chromium. 2 miles in 16:12. That's 4 minutes short of my split in last month's 5K. No further comments are needed except for the fact that this is my 3rd F in 6 days.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=2.0
8/28- Up and down day today. Took low dose chromium last evening which actually made things worse. Still felt pretty crappy when I woke up but got better as day progressed and by the afternoon, I was ready to go. Vestavia 800 in 2:24. That ties my best of the decade and I'm willing to accept it as my best time of the year. Good start but slacked in 2nd 200 before getting back on track (73-71). 2 mile cool down and felt fine after the workout. After dinner (BBQ), my condition began to deteriorate again. I think that I am low on taurine. I made it through the day without chromium or manganese. That's a good sign.
Grade:B-/3 credits/distance=3.0
8/29-AM-This is nuts. Woke up with terrible leg pains then took taurine and 30 minutes later, I was ready to roll. Group run with Scott, John and Cary. It was a fast finish 9+ miler. My average pace was just below 8 but I ran the last 3/8 of a mile at 6:09 pace including a closing kick at 4:36 (world record marathon pace).
PM- 2 miles easy running.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=12.0
Weekly summary:
Another bad week overall but I have shown signs of breaking out of this slump. My last 2 workouts were average or better and I still hit 30 on the week despite missing 2 days due to flare ups. I am done with this phase of training! Time to build up the mileage.
Distance= 30.0 GPA=24.1/11=2.19

Monday, August 17, 2009

training 8/16-8/22

8/16- travel day, no running.
8/17- Easy 6 in 47:24 (7:54 pace) on Lakeshore. First easy workout in more than a week and my body liked it. A bit tired but it was from the driving. I should be normal by tomorrow with a good night's sleep. Today's workout was not that bad at all.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0
8/18-Johnny's speed workout. 2x200 strides, 400,800,1200,800,800,400. Here are the times:
78-2:41-4:13-2:44-2:48-67. Overall pace of 5:24 and that's fine for a longer interval workout. I beat Dave 3 out of 6. Dizzy spell in the afternoon. Tried to touch my toes, came back up and saw stars. Not good. I took half an extra chromium and produced for the workout.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=5.0
8/19- Trak Shak 8 @ 7:56. Weak performance. Faded badly in 7th mile but still managed to finish fairly strong. I have not run this course in more than a month and this time fell almost 2 minutes short of my course PR. I was cooked after 5 miles and just hung on the best I could. In fairness, I wasn't fresh and it was very humid.
Grade:C+/2 credits/distace=8.0
8/20- Scheduled rest day but I did a 2 mile progression on "the mill" (stormy outside). I felt lousy most of the day but did get better by the evening. This was just a warm up for a time trial tomorrow at 800 m.
Grade: B/1 credit/distance=2.0
8/21- Hoover 800 in 2:27.6 (fastest time since '04). That's almost by default however. I've only run this distance a few times in recent years. Based on my 400 and 1600 times, I should be around 2:20 in the 800. My PR of 2:13 is probably my strongest of any distance so I didn't expect to come close to that esp. solo but I really should have been better than this. I ran a 2:32 at the end of an interval workout and did a 2:24 while on Synthroid. Surely, I can do better than that and until I run a 2:23 or better, the 800 time trials will continue. On the bright side, this was 3 ticks better than last year and I ran very even splits (74-73). Fair performance overall.
Grade:C+/3 credits/distance=2.0
8/22- AM- 3 miles at marathon pace which felt more like 10K pace then stopped after my next 2 were around 10:00 pace. No further comments are needed.
PM- 2 miles easy running to hit quota.
Grade:F/2 credits/distance=7.0
One of my worst weeks on record. Even the days that I ran fairly well, I felt bad for part of the day. No need to say it but I am disgusted.
Distance=30.0/GPA= 24.9/11= 2.26

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a road trip (semi-running related)

On one of my first posts, I mentioned that one of my goals is to visit all 50 U.S states. I can chalk up Iowa now, which brings my total to 43. The Iowa border is about 11 hours from Hoover, Alabama and I figured that since I wanted to race in Memphis, it was on the way and more than 1/3 of the way there. I need Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico. Only a lunatic would drive almost 7 hours each way to see a small town in a new state. They call me Crazy Justin for a reason.
In my defense, I am not the only one who would do something like this. Check out the site and search "visit all 50 states"
I set this goal around the end of college and had been to about 25 states at the time. To clarify, here are my rules:
-Airport layovers do not count. Runways look the same everywhere.
-Drive and ride throughs count but if I am in charge, I make it a point to at least stop at a diner or even a gas station so that way I step foot on state grounds and maybe take in some of the culture.
-I need not spend a night there or even have a memorable experience.
As for my record, most of my 43 states have included a memorable experience but some would say that I have cheated a little. Here's how.
I did have significant experiences in Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut but I was not old enough to remember it. I will return to the area for the Boston marathon someday and did return to Michigan in 2008 for a few minutes.
I spent less than an hour in the following states and only stopped at gas stations or restaurants:
Michigan (Chicago half marathon in '08), about 90 minutes out of the way.
Wisconsin (also Chicago half marathon, 55 miles away)
Kansas- road trip to the Ozarks in NW Arkansas, only about 2 hours out of the way
Washington-just across the river from Portland, OR airport for Eugene marathon.
Arizona- just a ride through the NW corner but saw some amazing scenery.
Iowa- SE corner. for going this far out of my way, I certainly deserve to count this.
For this road trip:
I don't care if it's politically incorrect to say this. I love America and all it different cultures and varied landscapes. I left Birmingham and made my way to US-78 toward Memphis. I drove around Tupelo, MS for a while before my dinner then hit TN by the end of the day. After my race, I picked up I-55, which crossed into AR then MO. North MS was gently rolling but AR and southern MO were flat and straight. However, as I got closer to St. Louis, the terrain became quite hilly. I was supposed to pick up I-64 before US-61 but it was closed and I lost almost an hour going back to the interstate and ended up on I-70 before finally picking up US-61 just NW of St. Louis. I drove through Hannibal, home of Mark Twain. The terrain flattened a bit as I approached Iowa and by dinner time, I had crossed the border and stopped at a Subway in the town of Keokuk. On the way back, I drove mostly on the Illinois side, which had a bit of a different feel than MO (more corn fields but mostly gentle rolling hills). From there, I picked up I-24 in southern IL, which took me through KY to Nashville, TN. From there, it was I-65 to Birmingham.
Will I do something like this again? Probably not on this scale and I won't have to.
2010: Fly to Denver, cut through a corner of Wyoming and Nebraska then head south to New Mexico and fly home from Albuquerque
2011: race in Spokane or Couere D'Alene, ID and drive about 3 hours to Missoula, Montana.
This will complete the lower 48.

visited 43 states (86%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Like this? try: Sea Level Rise

Elvis Presley 5K RR

The last time I raced in Memphis was December '07, the result was my first sub-1:50 half marathon and was hopeful for another PR. I left work 2 hours early and hit the road before rush hour. For dinner, I stopped at an Applebee's in Tupelo, MS, one of my favorite small cities, and arrived in Memphis just after dark. Memphis has some rough areas and it appeared that my motel was not located in the best part of town. On the same block, there was a liquor store with bars on the windows. Ouch. Fortunately, it was also next to the interstate and just 5 minutes away from the starting line at Graceland. It seems as if no race weekend is complete without a mild flare up within 48 hours of the gun. I felt fine on Thursday despite back to back quality days on Tuesday-Wednesday and okay on Friday morning as well. By the evening on Friday, I was beginning to feel some stiffness in my legs. The next morning, despite a 2 day rest, I was worse. Fortuantely, I am well in tune with my body and knew what to do about this. I took a double dose of chromium, which knocked out most of the stiffness but left me a bit jittery. Whenever I warm up, I usually have a good idea of how well I will perform when the gun sounds. Today looked to be good but not great but I never know for sure.
This one begins and ends at Graceland on Elvis Presley Blvd but most of the course was through residential neighborhoods. Since Memphis is just outside of the Mississippi Delta region, I expected a pancake flat course and a good shot at a PR. Not so fast. Nothing was terribly steep or long but the rollers were relentless and flat sections were few and far between. Overall, it was about a 4 (5 at the most) in terms of difficulty on a scale of 1-10. Temps were in the upper 70s with moderate humidity so it was not the best conditions but I've run in a lot worse. There needs to be a decree that all races in the South between Memorial Day and Labor Day must start at 7 AM, not 8.
I was out well despite being caught in a bit of a crowd. The first .1 was uphill then it went back down and that might as well describe the whole course. My breathing was labored almost immediately and my arm action was a bit sloppy. No doubt that I needed extra chromium but I may have overdone it a bit. I had no choice but to do my best and accept the result. I backed off after the 1st quarter mile but a quick look at the Garmin showed that I overdid it. From that point on, it was an all out effort to the line. My first mile was on target for a sub-19 but I just could not hold on. I was hurting after Mile 2 and was well back of PR pace. Still, barring a ghastly fade, I would come in well under 20. Anything under that barrier is a good race in my book. I gutted it out and despite hurting, managed to maintain my 2nd mile pace. With a tenth of a mile to go, the course went back downhill. I am known for my finishing kick but today, with a PR out of reach, a sub-20 secure and nobody within my reach, it was not one of my faster finishes. Gun time: 19:39. Watch time (no timing mats at start): 19:37. I was pleased overall.
-#4 all time, #2 since my comeback. I'll give myself a B+ on the day.
6:03-6:28-6:30-36=19:37 (6:18 pace).
-26th overall (23rd male)
-Second place in my age group and I got a nice little plaque out of it.
Aftermath: Plenty of food and beverages and I was in good spirits as I chatted with other runners. Long cool down around the Graceland property for a 6 mile total on the day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

training 8/9-8/15 (race week, planned low mileage)

8/9- Not feeling well at all. Must take the day off.
8/10- 4th and final attempt. Vestavia 400 in 61.22 (cut off another .4). Felt good but not quite good enough. I really mean it. No more of these for the rest of the year. Still just a tad off form. (14-30-45-61) and I still believe I am currently capable. Had to go to the outside lanes down the backstretch because football players were in my way. May have prevented me from breaking 61 but not 60. Pushed hard on the turn but tied up badly in the homestretch (legs felt too loose). It's wait 'til next year on this goal. I'm mildly disappointed but I really shouldn't be. This was 4:04 pace per mile. Michael Johnson set the WR at this distance at 31 years of age so there's no reason why I cannot PR at 30. 8:00 paced cooldown.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=2.5
8/11-Johnny's speed session. It was 3 400s, 2 800s and a 1200. I led all 3 400s averaging 75 then I made Dave lead the 800s, which were in 2:36. I ran a 4:02 in the 1200 but got beat by Dave's 3:58. Overall pace for the workout was a solid 5:12. Long cooldown. Long tomorrow, which will be my last quality day of the week. I'll only be around 20 miles this week and that has got to come up.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=3.5
8/12-Slight change of plans. Planned on 8 easy but instead ran 5 at tempo effort (7:07 pace) with very even splits. Felt good overall and could have pushed for a sub-7 but I am feeling the effects of too many quality days and not enough rest. I may not run at all for the next 2 days until race day. 2.5 mile cooldown @ 8:24 pace for a good distance for the midweek run. Overall, it was comparable to last week's run on a similar course.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=7.5
8/13-Planned rest day. I actually feel pretty decent today. When healthy, my workout capacity is good and I can breeze through runs that require a lot of effort if I am off form. When I am unbalanced, I'll feel lousy and beat up even if I don't run at all. No doubt that I could go 5-6 easy today but I want to be 100% fresh for Saturday. This is the first time in almost 11 years that I'm going into a 5K race with a real shot at a PR and I'm goin' for it.
8/14- travel day. Mild flare up around dinner.
8/15- Elvis Presley 5K in 19:37 plus long cool down on Graceland property.
Grade:B+/4 credits/distance=6.0
Weekly summary:
Distance=20.0/ GPA= 3.300
This week was not as good as the GPA indicates. Only 4 runs during the week. Out of the 3 days that I did not run, 2 of them would have been "C" workouts or worse. Still, what's most important is that I produced on race day. No PR but every 5K under 20 is a good one in my book and I did it on a course that was tougher than expected.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

training 8/2-8/8

8/2- Another bad day. Very scary afternoon low kept me in bed for a couple of hours then broke down and took an extra taurine, which helped. Thought I may have gone too far with that but when I tried to run, I felt like I didn't take enough. Good start but I was fading by the middle of Mile 2. This was a planned 5 mile easy run and went out too fast (14:25 through 2). I should have been cruising but was fading instead so I stopped, took a break and ran a Mile as fast as I could, which was a 6:12. I could have been under 6 fresh but not under 5:45. Clearly off. Panic attack after dinner for no reason other than imbalances
Grade:C+/2 credits/distance-3.5
8/3- Lakeshore 6 @ 7:58 pace. Decent easy workout. Aimed for 7:45-8:15 and hit the target. Slowed just a tad in the 2nd half. I wasn't hurting too badly but at this pace, it should have been effortless. Still not bad and an improvement over yesterday.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0
8/4- Pretty good speed workout. 5x600 in 1:59 (5:18 pace) with short and passive recoveries. Dave made me lead all 5 and I was reeling heading into the last 800, which I ran in a hard fought 2:46 (10 seconds behind). Then, I allowed myself to recover and sprinted a 200 with close competition in a self-timed 28.6 (got beat by about 0.1 second). I don't think I could have run 59.9 today if I had tried and my 3rd and final attempt will be this month before I jack up the mileage and reduce speedwork.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=3.0
8/5-Strong Trak Shak run. Flatter course than I normally run but turned in a 6.25 @ 7:11 pace. That's better than BQ pace so I am pleased. Felt good. Ran ahead of Adam and Jason. That's 25 seconds down on my goal 10K race pace. That's about where I should be at tempo effort.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.5
8/6- Easy few miles or rest day? I'm opting for the rest. The plan is to make another attempt at 59.9 tomorrow. If I finish between 60.0-60.9, I'll take another shot. Otherwise, it's wait 'til next year. I do want to try an 800 and a 2 Mile in addition to the sub-5:20 Mile.
8/7- Mountain Brook 400 in 61.63 (fastest time since '99). Managed to trim 1/4 of a second off my previous time. Serious case of the jitters before the start which really didn't go away after it was over. Tried to do a long cool down and was out of breath immediately. I was clearly just a bit off form. I've done this 3 times and all 3 times, I was "off form" just enough to prevent me from reaching the goal. Forget what I said about wait 'til next year. I'm taking one more shot at this and I mean, only one more shot. I admit that 59.9 has turned into an obsession and I can't do this too often or it will hurt my training in the long run. I'm going long tomorrow.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=2.0
8/8- Lakeshore 15 @ 8:05 average. Solid effort. 3-12 were all between 8 and 8:15 then turned it up a notch to run the final 3 in 7:53-7:32-6:56. Heat was starting to get to me at the end so I'm glad that this wasn't a 20 miler. I did hydrate well. A little stiff in the calf and achilles tendon so I may rest tomorrow.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance= 15.0
Weekly summary: Not very high mileage but in terms of pace, it was one of my most intense on record with only 1 truly easy day out of 6. I can't keep training like this year round. Come September, I'll be in half marathon mode again.
Distance= 36.0/ GPA= 34.2/11= 3.11