Wednesday, June 30, 2010

training 6/28-7/4

6/28- Indoor 6 mile at SportPlex. 95 degrees outside, 68 inside. Took off at 6:50 for the first "mile" and never slowed down, finishing in 40:58. If the distance was accurate, this was a great run. I did feel good but I just don't think the distance was accurate and will look at other gyms.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0

6/29- Johnny's workout. Finished it just before a storm hit. 4x600 averaging just under 2:00.
(2:01-2:00-2:00-1:57). Again, I was all alone, nobody within 20 seconds. 4x200 in 35. Average pace per mile was around 5:10. Not an all time great workout but still strong and satisfying.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=3.0

6/30- I've settled on 1.5 glutamine taken with a small amount of taurine. It seems to be about the equivalent 1.5 GABA pills. Both supplements seem to be about equally effective. I am very sensitive to both but hoping that maybe not quite as sensitive to the glutamine. Workout was a steamy 80 degree Trak Shak 5. Started fast then saw the combination of the pace and humidity get to me at the end. I had a "maintenance issue" near the end and will only count my moving time. (6:17-6:32-6:47-7:03-6:48)= 33:27. PR pace for the first half. I was at 16:10 at 2.5 then hung on for a 17:07 finish. If I had gone out at 6:30, I may have been close to 33 flat.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.0

7/1- Indoor 5 mile at tempo effort. Time was 34:55 and if the distance is indeed accurate, that's my 4th straight sub-7 pace. Slowest mile was the 1st at 7:06. Fastest was the 5th at 6:40. Felt pleasantly tired at the end but I did have bad diarrhea again both before and after the run. I MUST FIX THIS BEFORE SUNDAY!
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=5.5

7/2- Veteran's Park run with Ryan. 1st 2 were at cool down pace then a mild pick up to 7:45 in Mile 3 followed by another .5 at cool down pace. 85 and humid. Felt a bit tired but no worse than I should have considering my workouts this week. No diarrhea issues.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=3.5

7/3- Planned rest day. Drive to Atlanta. Purchased a pair of overpriced shorts at the expo.

7/4- Peachtree 10K in 42:27. #2 all time.
Grade:B+/4 credits/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
Solid performances all around. This was my best week in a long time. Distances should come up with no races for at least 3 weeks.
Distance= 31.0 GPA= 36.3/11= 3.300

Monday, June 28, 2010

Indoor running

Lately, the weather here in Alabama has been in the low-mid 90s in the afternoon and it drops to around 75 at night. There's really no good time to run. Even at the coolest time of day (around 6 AM), the heat index is already 80+ and the humidity is often 80-90%. The temps may drop to the mid-upper 80s in the evening but the humidity begins to rise starting around 5 PM. What can I run in these conditions? I'll be fine in a short interval session and okay in long intervals as well as short tempos. Long runs and long tempos suck real bad! In fact, I find that my pace falls dramatically after about 3 miles. I can handle 5 or so at a decent average pace but no more. That's why I do so much speed work this time of year. How about an 8-10 miler at marathon pace? Forget it. Long runs of 16-20? I won't even attempt it. If I do, it would have to be at least a minute slower than normal with a ton of drinking stops. Preston, I don't know how you can train for Chicago. What's the solution? I do have a treadmill in my apartment but I find it so boring that I can only stand to do 3-4 miles and I just don't think it does as much good as real running. I can use it if I'm looking to do a few miles at easy pace and don't feel like getting in my car and driving to the nearest place to run. So, if I want to do a run of 6-10 miles at a low 7 pace, what options do I have? I can't do it outdoors so it's either the dreadmill or an indoor track at a local gym. I've used indoor tracks before both at Clemson (10 laps/mi) and in Monty (12 laps/mi). The longest distance that I covered was 13 miles (156 laps). Isn't that a little boring? Not really. Once I'm in the zone, I barely even notice the surroundings anyway. The real risk is that all those turns can cause pain in the joints but as long as you don't go in the same direction every day, you're okay. Also, I doubt that I'll use it more than once or twice a week. How do I keep up with all those laps? I could not do it without the Garmin but as long as my pace is even, it's easy. For example, 45 seconds per lap= 7:30 pace on a 10 lap track. If I suddenly see an 8:15 or a 6:45, I know that my count is off by 1 lap.
Here in Birmingham, I tried the Hoover Rec center, which is supposedly 8 laps per mile but I found the air to be awfully stuffy and the distance was clearly off. It was more like 7.5 laps per mile and they made the runners stay on the outside on gave the walkers the inside lanes. WTH? I did not renew my membership when it expired in May. Today, I tried a place called Sport Plex, which is between my office and my apartment. The staff was very courteous and not too pushy but the track was 16 laps per mile (100 meters long) ... supposedly. There were 4 tight turns but at least they were banked and 25 meters worth of straightaway so as soon as you get a stride going, you have to turn again. It's so narrow that if people are walking even 2 abreast, be prepared to stop.
Today's run was a 6 miler (96 laps) and yes, it sure did feel good to run in 68 degree air conditioning. I took off at 6:50 for the first "mile" and never slowed down, finishing in 40:58. That's only 10 seconds slower than PR pace and I was barely winded. Yes, I did feel good but I doubt that it was really THAT good. Maybe it was 100 yards per lap, not 100 meters. I will be looking at other gyms. Another benefit is the chance to meet new people. I met someone in Monty at my old gym who turned out to be one of my biggest fans. She said that whenever I was clearly having one of my bad days, she wanted to stop her workout and give me a hug. Man, that was really touching and I'd love to meet someone like that here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

training 6/21-6/27

6/21- Another unplanned rest day. Neck was too stiff and the pounding from running caused pain that was too intense to run through. It would not have been a good run anyway because I took too much GABA. ARRGGH! I feel like I'm really losing my mojo now.

6/22- Neck pain was still there but today I could ignore it on the run. 2.5 on the 'mill at easy effort and finished around 19:30 (7:48 pace). Took a hot bath and just relaxed for the rest of the evening. Hope to get a decent workout tomorrow. Do I take 750 mg of GABA (500 isn't enough, 1000 is too much) or 2 glutamine? I will try both options and take whatever make me feel best and reduces my dependence on taurine. Still struggling a bit emotionally.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=2.5

6/23- Went with glutamine in the morning and it was a pretty good day. Trak Shak 5 at "hard tempo" Good start but faded in the 2nd half. Weather was 92 and dry. Splits were 6:42-6:42-6:47-7:15-7:10= 34:37. Probably my best run since the infection. Neck pain is nearly gone. Yes!
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=5.5

6/24- Mediocre short intervals. 200-35, 300-56, 400-75, 300-56, 200-33. Overall pace was around 4:50. GABA and glutamine cannot be taken in the same day! Short distances were not horrible but if this were a long run, it really would have sucked. Too much GABA doesn't cause fatigue or depression but it does cause anxiety and shortness of breath. Try running at 7,000 ft. without the benefits of thin air and that's about how it felt.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=2.0

6/25- Run under a time crunch. Vestavia Mile in 5:26.8 (best time of the year). 2 ticks better than last time but still a tough 11 away from my goal. Again, the first and last 200 were strong but the middle was a struggle 79-84-86-77. Both halves were 2:43 and I like that but I can't say the pace was even. I need long intervals to build my strength for both the Mile and 5K. Still 4 seconds down on last year's time.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=1.5

6/26- Finally managed a double digit run for the first time in a long time but I did have to divide it up. Ran with a group that included Cary but I took off on my own after Mile 5. Averaged about 8:20 through the first 9 with the weather at 75 and humid then stopped to drink and had nothing left after that. Slogged through 2 more at glacial pace. Poor performance. Took glutamine in the evening and taurine in the morning and it did not work.
Grade:D+/2 credits/distance=11.0

6/27- AM-Another bad day. ARRGH! Slept in until 8:30 and dreamed about having my pants stolen and walking around a department store in my underwear while being made fun of by my friend and co-worker. Workout was an easy Veteran's Park run. Started off okay then died. Splits were 7:38-7:51-4:06 then got disgusted and quit. Yes, the humidity was tough but I should not have been this bad. Perhaps the excess GABA has yet to clear my system.
Grade:F+/1 credit/distance=2.5
PM- step in the right direction. 3 miles at Vestavia in 20:50 with an 80 second last go round. I waited until 7:30 and it was still about 85 and steamy. I'm considering joining a gym so I can use an indoor track. I feel like the GABA has mostly cleared my system.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=3.5

Weekly summary: Another down week with unacceptably low mileage. There are signs of breaking out of this slump. I still don't know whether to take 750 of GABA or 1.5 of glutamine but I do know that they can't be taken together. No further comments.
Distance=28.5/ GPA= 22.8/10= 2.28

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Road trips Part 3- South

This is my favorite part of the country and where I have done most of my traveling:

Virginia- a little something for everyone here. You’ve got the big city in DC, where my sister used to live, along with the growing Hampton Roads area. The first vacation that I remember with any clarity was VA Beach. There’s also Chincoteague Island on the Eastern shore. I’ve also been to Norfolk, Williamsburg, Richmond, Roanoke, Charlottesville and a few towns in the SW portion, all of which have their highlights and plenty of history. The western edge of the state is rural and mountainous much like eastern Kentucky. I’ve been to the highest point, which is Mt. Rogers at 5723 ft. Ran the Blue Ridge half in Roanoke in 2014.

West Virginia- Used to live here. Not much in way of big cities here but you’ll find a lot of friendly people. I went to undergrad here in Wheeling. The northern tip is a hybrid of the Midwest and northeast while the rest of the state is southern. Roads are winding and very hilly but well maintained. Ironically, the Marshall Univ. marathon in Huntington is one of the flattest in the country and was run in 2013 as well as local 5Ks.  I’ve been all over this state including interstates and country roads with memorable times in Wheeling, Charleston and Beckley, Morgantown and Huntington. I’ve also been to the high point, Spruce Knob at over 4700 ft.

Kentucky- I’ve been all over this state as well including Lexington, the capitol in Frankfurt and Louisville, which has a nice entertainment district.  I also saw the Louisville Slugger museum. The Kentucky Derby race in Louisville is high on my list to do in the future. The eastern third is largely Appalachian country with very friendly down to Earth people but unfortunately there is still quite a bit of poverty. The terrain becomes less hilly as one travels west and while both areas are solidly southern, western Kentucky is very much different from the eastern third. Ran the Bluegrass half in 2015 in Lexington.

Arkansas- I’ve been here three times and have seen much of this state. The negative is lots of poverty in the Delta but once you travel further west, there’s a lot to like here. Toured Little Rock in 2014 and stopped for a meal in Pine Bluff.  The best part is the Ozarks in the northwest region. The elevation may not be as high but the landscape is still striking nonetheless. Saw the high point, Mt. Magazine at 2700 ft with a nearby lake.  Ran the White River half in 2011 near Mountain Home.

Tennessee- I’ve been all over all 3 distinct regions of this state. I prefer the mountainous eastern third and if I could not live in Birmingham, Chattanooga would be my next choice.  Enjoyed the Scenic City half here in 2011.  I’ve also had some good times in Gatlinburg/Knoxville. The highest point is Klingman’s Dome at over 6000 ft just across the NC border. I’ve also been to Nashville for the Grand Ole Opry, prolotherapy and the Country Music half. I’ve also toured Memphis, set a PR in the Memphis St. Jude half and did well in the Elvis 5K at Graceland.  Saw the Rock n Soul museum and Sun Studios too.

North Carolina- Being on the border of my old home state, I’ve been here countless times, mostly in the Charlotte and Asheville areas. I’ve driven the Blue Ridge Parkway and have seen Mt. Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain as well as great scenery near the Smokies. I’ve also been to Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and Carolina Beach, just outside of Wilmington. Ran the Charlotte Thunder Road half in 2012.

South Carolina- lived here and have probably stepped foot in every county. I spent many happy hours at Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach and Isle of the Palms. Again, the low country (Charleston), midlands (Columbia) and upstate (Greenville) are 3 distinct regions. I like them all but the upstate is my favorite with the beautiful lake country, foothills of the Blue Ridge and proximity to big cities. However, when I couldn’t get a job here, it was time to move on. I attended Clemson Univ. for my MBA and have mixed feelings about it. This is where I met the doctor who officially diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. In terms of racing, I set a 10K PR here that was not bettered until 2008. Ran the Greenville Spinx half in 2015 to cap off the Half 2 Run challenge.

Georgia- best friend Nick lives in Atlanta so I’ve been there countless times for various events. I’ve run a local 5K here as well as the ING GA half marathon, Silver Comet 10K and Peachtree. There will be more races here in the future now that Nick is a runner too. I’ve also had plenty of good memories in Savannah touring the city and surfing the waves on the coast. I’ve also been to Augusta and Columbus. There is also some nice scenery in the north Georgia Mountains including Brasstown Bald at 4784 ft.

Florida- I’ve been all over here as well except for the keys. Miami and Pensacola may be in the same state but are more than 12 hours apart and worlds away culturally. This really should be 2 states if you ask me. North of the Orlando area and some isolated areas around Lake Okeechobee are still predominantly southern while the rest of the state is almost all tourists/transplants. Some of the places that I’ve been include Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Okeechobee, Panama City and Pensacola. My debut half marathon was at Seaside on the panhandle in 2007 and also ran the Fiesta 10K in Pensacola in 2013.

Alabama- my home since 2006 and Birmingham is the right place for me. I think I’ve been to every county. I have been to Mobile, Gulf Shores, Montgomery, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville. This state has a mix of flat lands and rolling hills with surprisingly mountainous areas in the northeast including a high point of 2407 ft. My first trip here came in 1992 for the Junior Olympics in Mobile. Since my comeback, I have also raced in Montgomery, Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville. Many PRs were set on Alabama soil. Big races include Mercedes, Montgomery and the Rocket city full in Huntsville.

Mississippi- With the exception of the gulf coast, this state’s terrain is rolling throughout with plenty of pine trees. Unfortunately, there is still quite a bit of poverty in some areas. Still, there are plenty of nice spots around Jackson and Tupelo. Natchez and Vicksburg are also worth seeing.  I've raced here twice with disappointing results (Run For Life Half and Gum Tree 10K)

Louisiana- New Orleans and Shreveport may be worlds apart but are part of the same state. I have been to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Shreveport. I PR'd a half in Baton Rouge and I also did the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans, where I performed poorly.

Texas- I’ve been through the northeast corner and spent a night in Texarkana. I returned in 2012 for a PR in the 3M Austin half and got to see San Antonio and College Station along with the Houston airport on the way.  I've also visited Galveston and Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Oklahoma- I stopped at a gas station just across the Red River in ’04 and returned in 2006 and saw a fair amount of the northeast portion and stopped in the town of Miami for a meal.  Ran the Route 66 half in Tulsa in 2014.

Question that was asked of me:
How far north/south/west does the "southern accent" extend?
While there are many different varieties even within the states, an identifiable southern sound can be heard in the following towns:
-as far north as Morgantown, WV.  Yes, there is a clear difference immediately after crossing from PA into WV. Also, the far southern portions of OH, IN and IL sound much like Kentucky.
-as far south as Clewiston, Florida (south side of Lake Okeechobee) though Ocala is generally considered the last southern town with a sizable population.
-as far west as Odessa, Texas, which is very close to the New Mexico border.  I've been told that it starts/end at the Texas border but does not extend further west

Monday, June 14, 2010

training 6/14-6/20

6/14- Went to the doctor and it was actually a good call. This description will be short and sweet: Diagnosis was an upper respiratory infection and based on the blood work, the doc thinks that it is bacterial. I had bronchitis last winter and it also started with a nasty sore throat. I may have caught this before it developed into something worse. No fever. No elevated pulse or BP. Weight: 151 (lost 3 lbs). The best news was that my chest was clear. I do have a little bit of coughing but no dry hacking fits that left my lungs raw. Solution: Z-Pak antibiotics. It's only a 5 day course so hopefully it won't be too bad. Last time I took antibiotics, my diarrhea was so bad that I thought I had a colon infection. Yes, I have clearance to do some light workouts as tolerated so today I hit the 'mill for an easy 2.5 @ 8:00 pace with a short cool down in the parking lot.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=3.0

6/15- Woke up feeling really weak from the Z-Pak but improved as the day progressed. By 5, I felt good enough to do Johnny's workout albeit not all out. 400-DNS (late), 800-2:55, 1200-4:30, 1600- 5:58. Overall pace was 5:58. Well back of my normal pace but much improved over the previous day. Long cool down.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=5.0 (grade is a little lenient)

6/16- 6AM run on Lakeshore. Did not try to run with Adam and Eric. 5 miles at tempo effort but not tempo pace. Time was 37:28 and needed a good finish to come in below 7:30 pace. No PM run due to drive home.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance=5.0

6/17- Unplanned rest day. Slept too long and just didn't have time in the afternoon or evening. No big deal.

6/18- 5 mile time trial with a moving time of 34:53 (6:59 pace). A full 2 minutes down on my PR but clearly a positive step. Took the last of the antibiotics today with no significant issues. Legs were there but breathing was not. I was out of breath within a 1/4 mile so my respiratory system is still wounded but at least there was no coughing fit. Pace was pretty even: 6:58-6:56-7:06-7:08-6:45
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=5.0

6/19- Struggled out there in the heat. No water on the run, 80 degrees and sunny outside. Maybe hurting a bit after yesterday's time trial. Hoped to run 10 easy and only managed 7. 1st half was a smooth and relaxed 7:40-7:45 pace then faded. Fortunately, it was not a crash and burn type of day. I managed to hold a sub-8 pace with effort and finished with an overall 7:52 pace. That's acceptable for an easy run but this was not an easy effort.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=7.0

6/20- No time to run due to drive home.

Weekly summary:
This was a recovery week and I really wasn't expecting much. My next race is Peachtree and I should do well but I can't hope for a PR. I am a bit frustrated by these annoying setbacks. This low mileage just won't do either.
Distance= 25.0/ GPA= 17.1/7= 2.44

Monday, June 7, 2010

training 6/7-6/13

6/7 AM- Hoped for a good long run and settled for an average tempo. The humidity was lower today but it was still 75 and sunny. Lakeshore 5 in 35:54 (7:11 pace). Struggled in Mile 4 but bounced back with a 6:30 last mile. 2 mile cool down at 9:00 pace. Still need more Lithium. ARRGGH! Just last week, 1 of those was poison!??
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=7.0

PM- 10x400 with 2 min R. That's right. I did a tempo and an interval session in the same day. Am I nuts? Just refer to my screen name. How did it go? Quite well. Thank you.
Splits: 79-79-80-79-79/ 78-80-79-79-69. Pace per mile was 5:14. I want that under 5 by the end of the summer. Of course, that tempo took something out me and that 69 at the end shows that I was holding back a bit too much. Can I beat my 5:22 mile from last year? I'd like to think so. I feel better emotionally as well. It looks like I'll need the Lithium for the forseeable future but I can cut the dosage.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=3.0

6/8- Easy 6 on Lakeshore in 47:55 (7:59 pace). Slowed down in the last 2 miles but that was by design. I got about what I expected today and hope I can bounce back with another hard day tomorrow
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=6.0

6/9- AM- Run with Adam, Geoff and Eric at 5:50 AM, not something I normally do but it went okay. I did get left behind after 6 miles but only because the group picked up the pace (all 3 have run BQs). Finished in 61:50 (7:44 pace). 1st half in 31:30, 2nd half in 30:20. Still a bit worn out from Monday's workouts but performed in line with expectations.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=8.0
PM- Trak Shak group run. Part of me was upset that the pace was faster than we planned but part of me was loving it. 5 miles in 90 degree heat with a time of 37:24 (7:29 pace) plus a painful cool down. Lungs were burning and legs were tired. It's nothing more than natural fatigue and part of me likes the way it feels.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

6/10- Well deserved day of rest. I hope that I'll feel fresh on Friday and Saturday.

6/11- Mile time trial. Hoping to beat last year's time of 5:22 but just had too much working against me. Temp was 88 with a heat index of 95. I didn't feel fresh despite the rest day. Sore throat and feel like I am coming down with something.
Started off at the same effort as Monday's intervals but it felt like I had done 3 or 4 already. Tried to pick up the pace early in lap 2 and 3 and held it for the first 200 then lost it. A hard fought last lap brought me home in 5:28.7 (best time of the year).
Splits were 80-85-86-77.
It's frustrating that I have yet to beat last year's best time at any distance except for the marathon, which was unofficial on 1/1. Still, overall not too bad. The lifetime goal is 5:15 solo but if I have competition, it drops to 5:10. I was 13 ticks away so I get an 87 on the day. Long cool down at glacial pace.
Grade:B/3 credits/distance=3.0

6/12- Tough AM run at the Shak. Hot and sunny. Struggled. I am down with pharyngitis (I hope that's all it is). I have all the symptoms of a viral infection. Very sore throat but no fever. Felt okay through about mile 4 then faded. Overall pace was just over 8 with stops.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=8.5

6/13- 1.5 on the 'mill at 8:30 pace. I am still feeling sick but I actually could have gone longer today but played it smart by not pushing it.
Grade:NG/0 credit/distance=1.5

Weekly summary:
Another disappointing week. What's been so frustrating about the first half of 2010 is that I have shown flashes but no consistency and have been unable to get into the groove like last Fall. I hope that this sickness is just bad luck and I just picked up an airborne infection. If this setback came as a result of overtraining for 3 days, it does not bode well for a fall marathon. That 5:28 mile doesn't look bad now considering that I was already a little sick. I'll have to go to the doctor tomorrow (arg) to make sure it's not bacterial. I had bacterial infection last winter and it also started as a horrible sore throat. So far, it's mostly head congestion.
Distance=43.0/GPA= 32.5/11=2.95 (inflated by the NG)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

BTC 5K race report

This would be the first time I had raced on a track since 1999 and I was excited. After considering several events, I determined that the 5,000 would give me the best chance of a good time. I considered the 1500 but it was to be run at noon, the worst time of the day to run during the summer. No thanks. The 5,000 was scheduled to start at 7:30 and yes, that does make a difference over the normal 8:00 start times. I had some trouble with my body chemistry during the week but woke up feeling well. My system was clear and I was ready to go.
Hate to say it but there was room for much improvement here. It was mostly a youth track meet with a few Master's runners sprinkled in. I don't think I saw anyone close to my age the whole time I was there. I arrived about 30 minutes early to pick up my number and it wasn't ready. Eventually, I was told to just show up at the start line without it. Okay. It turned out that the 5,000 was not the first event. We had to sit through the racewalk first then the girls 5,000. There were only 4 girls running and about 10 guys but separate heats were still run. Our turn did not come until 8:30 and the temp was already 80 with 85% humidity. At least, the skies were overcast. I chatted a bit with 2 40 year olds and waited patiently for the start.
12.5 laps around a football field. I'll never get a flatter course. Some people can't stand to do that many laps but I don't mind. Once I'm locked in, I barely even notice the scenery anyway. The gun went off and I took off in the middle of the pack. I did a 40 second first half lap. That sounds fast but it's about normal for a 5K and I would settle down for the rest of the first mile. My early laps were in the low 90s, just about on target for what I wanted. To run a 19:13 PR, I would need to average about 6:10 per mile or 92 seconds per lap. On a very humid day, I just wanted a sub-20. Anything under that barrier is considered a good race in my book. I would pass 2 teenagers who started too fast and one Master's runner over the first half and came through the 4.5 laps in 6:47. I had completed the last mile in 6:07. Two miles to go and it was starting to get lonely out there. By the time I finished, there was nobody within a hundred yards in front or behind and my pace began to suffer as a result. Still, even with a ghastly fade to 7:00 pace, I was guaranteed a sub-21. I would need to hold just over 6:30 to finish under 20. That looked doable. I came across the line with 6 to go and now more than halfway home just before the clock hit 10:00. I was still under 6:30 pace. The humidity was really taking its toll now. I was sucking wind that was saturated with moisture and my heart rate and perceived effort were higher than under optimal conditions. 1 mile to go now and the clock read 13:12. The previous mile was 6:25 and my laps were now in the upper 90s. No PR today. Okay, just stay below that 6:45 pace and you've got the sub-20. With 2 laps to go, the clock read 16:32. Now, all I needed was just a hair under 7 pace. By now, I knew I had it. I heard someone at the line say "Finish." I just calmly ran the correct distance and stated that I still had one to go. 18:12 with 1 to go. No chance to beat last year's best time of 19:27 but the sub-20 is in the bag. My kick was pretty weak but I was still happy to get across the line in an official time of 19:44. Best time of the year by 25 seconds but still 31 away from my PR. Once again, anything under 20 is good in my book. I am capable of beating that PR, which was set in 1998. I just need optimal weather to do it.
Grade: B plus.

Friday, June 4, 2010

heat and humidity from a southern perspective

It’s the first week of June here in Ala-dam-bama and y’all know what that means. Heat, humidity and a chance of thunderstorms is the norm much of the time. Thus far, temps have been pretty seasonal (highs only reaching the mid 80s). I can almost hear laughter from my northern friends at “only 85.” The heat hasn’t been all that bad but the humidity has been a killer. It seems that every year, we get this weather pattern for a least a couple of weeks in which it’s about the same every day. High temp: 85 (heat index 90), low 73- 50% chance of rain and no less than 70% relative humidity at any time during the day. If this were July instead of June, we’d be looking at upper 80s- low 90s with heat indices pushing 100. It’s pretty much a steam bath. That’s the worst weather in which to run long distance. I’d much rather run when it’s 95 and dry than 85 and humid. Yes, we get plenty of those 95 and dry days here as well.
How do I cope? First off, I am used to it and the body does acclimate after a period of time. August may be even hotter than June but if you’ve trained in the heat for 2 months, it will not effect you as much. I always have tolerated heat pretty well. I can stay outside for an extended period of time when it’s in the low 90s as long as I am not working too hard but I do have my limits. When it’s in the upper 90s, I’m staying inside as much as possible even if the humidity isn’t so bad.
How does it impact my running? This is why I focus so heavily on speed this time of year. Even when everything goes according to plan, my mileage won’t be much over 40 and there will be no 20 milers on Saturday. I can stand to run in 90 degree weather as long as it’s at the right time of the day. A run at 6 PM is a lot more bearable than a noontime run even if the temps are equal. Basically, you’ve got to finish a morning run before 8:30 AM or start an evening run after 5:30 or even 6:00. Otherwise, you’re dead. If the heat index is over 100, I will either wait until after 7:00 or bite the bullet and hit the ‘mill. In any event, the distance of my run is cut. An easy 8 during the winter becomes a 5-6 and the Saturday 16 becomes a 10-13. Sometimes, it’s so uncomfortable that it will be tough no matter when you run. On Tuesday, it was no hotter than 85 but there was a constant threat of rain. That means you have to check the hourly forecast to make sure you won’t be caught in a storm. It did rain for about an hour and sometimes when that happens, it remains overcast and the evening is pleasant. Not so on this day. The sun came out while it was still raining and you could actually see steam rising from the ground. Not a pleasant run. My friend Preston is training for the Chicago marathon in early October so the hardest phase of the training will be in July and August. That course is flat and fast but I just don’t know if I could handle marathon specific training that time of year. Then, there’s the Tupelo marathon on Labor Day weekend in “Miss’ Sippy”. If I am ever to do that one, it will be purely a fun run, not a serious effort even though it does start at 5:30 AM.
When you run in these conditions, of course it hurts you. First, the heart rate increases as does the perceived effort. You will be soaked in sweat and have to stop for water quite often and unless you want to carry a bottle, there are never enough water fountains. I actually had squishy shoes almost like after running the steeplechase and it didn't rain a drop during the run.
I know some people who prefer temps around freezing for long distance races. That's a little chilly for me. My ideal is around 50-60 degrees and I typically run my best races in the Fall. Sprinters on the other hand prefer the conditions to be warm and dry. Again, warm and humid is not ideal. Even in a 400, I'm sure that high humidity will have an impact. There is a run works calculator which calculates equivalent times based on temperatures. According to that table, my 19:27 5K in 80 degree weather was good for a sub-19 in optimal conditions. I won't get a shot at that until October.
There was a recent poll question on RWOL: Which is worse? Southern summers or northern winters? Having experienced both, my vote is northern winters. I cannot imagine running through an entire month in which every day is sub-freezing and snow is piled up on the sidewalks.