Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 year in review

The final stats read as follows:
Distance= 2,092 miles (PR). Average Weekly GPA: 3.03 (PR)
Average weekly mileage: 41. Highest: 55. Lowest: 24.
Weeks lost due to injury: ZERO (4th time in the last 5 years that I avoided a major injury)
12 races: 5 local, 6 overnight trips, 1 fly away.
Best race: Statue 2 Statue. Worst race: Peavine.
Best times:
400: Did not run
Mile: 5:19 (adult PR)
5K: 19:21 (adult PR)
10K: 40:28 PR
Half: 1:31:02 PR
Full: Did not run
Month by month highlights:

January: Bad vibes from 2010 seemed to carry over as I entered the year with a nasty sinus infection. Trained fairly well for the remainder of the month and would be ready to go for my first round of racing.

February: Better than expected showing at the Mercedes half (1:34:02) followed by a PR 2 weeks later in Chattanooga (1:32:49). Chromium dependency re-appeared. ARRGH!

March: New 10K PR in Atlanta (40:55) followed by a mediocre local 5K (20:01) with worsening chemical instability as the month progressed.

April- Statue 2 Statue 15K in 64:15 with my fastest finishing kick ever, added more speedwork and a couple decent time trials but still unstable.

May- Took care of a low grade oral infection that was a contributing factor to my instability. Traveled to Coeur D'Alene to visit states #47 and 48. Finished in 1:33:25 on a course that was "a bit long."

June-August- Extremely unstable. For much of the summer, I was either red hot or ice cold, very little in between. I did set an unofficial 10K PR of 40:28 and ran a sub-32 for 8K but could not get it done on race day. I was horrible at Peavine and average in a local 5K (19:45).

September- Things began to improve this month. Set adult PRs in the 5K (19:21) and the Mile (5:19). Sharply reduced consumption of sugared drinks and was much more stable for the remainder of the year.

October- 2 straight half marathon PRs in Montgomery (1:31:32) and Columbus (1:31:02).

November- Mini slump at an inopportune time. White River half was a downer (1:33:34).

December- Shifted gears to marathon mode and trained very well until Christmas but succumbed to a respiratory infection at the end of the year.

Final thoughts:
A "pretty good" year overall. My training focused on the 10K and Half Marathon distances and that is where I showed the greatest improvements. I remain frustratingly close to my lifetime goals in the 5K,10K and Half. Based on some of my workouts, I believe that I had it in me multiple times but just could not get all the stars to align on race day. If you are within 5 seconds/mile of your goals, you are indeed capable. I am there at every distance except the marathon.

Looking ahead:
First, I've got to get over this respiratory infection which should be gone in 3-5 days. Then, it's yet another attempt at that elusive sub-1:30 half on a blazing fast course in Austin, TX. 2 weeks later, I will run the full here in Birmingham. It's not my goal race and haven't trained properly for the distance but I can certainly expect to put a big dent in my current PR. After that point, it will be mid-February and I'll take 7-10 days off then shift gears to heavy speed work. At 31 years of age, it's pretty much now or never if I want to get that 59.9 in the 400. I figure that I still have another 3-5 years of potential improvement at the longer distances before age begins to slow me down. Plenty of time to reach my lifetime goals. I'll still continue my "drive for 25" half/full marathon states. Texas will be #13. Top tier options include Louisville, KY, Denver, CO and Indianapolis, IN. Oh yeah, as of now, I no longer need Thym-Adren pills. Only a medical report can determine if this freedom is permanent or temporary as it was in 2010.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Training 12/19-12/31 (bonus)

12/19- The beat goes on. Easy 7.5 in 56:15 (7:30 pace). I was a little behind pace but didn't care until Jordan showed up in the last 1.5 miles. I did have a little bit of quad soreness during cool down but still pretty strong overall. Hit 2,050 on the year. The weather will be rainy for the rest of the week so if I am to take a shot at the 5K, it must be after Christmas. If I can go long as planned on 12/31, I may hit 2,100. Took 2 pills in the morning, 1 in the afternoon and I'll take 1 more before bed. We'll see how that goes. I may stabilize at this dosage.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=8.0

12/20- Very enjoyable and comfortable 8 miler in 59:56 (7:29 pace). I honestly do not try to hit 7:30 pace on the nose every time. It just happens that way and it's a very comfortable effort as well. I can envision myself holding that pace through Mile 22 at least. If I can hold it all the way to the finish, I will cross the line in 3:16 and change. 3:16 huh? Man, I like that number. I've been hammered for my training by the 3:20 group on RWOL but they are clueless about how it feels to have freedom from adrenal fatigue in my sight and the improvement that comes with it.
I get a better grade than yesterday despite the same pace because I felt better during the run.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=8.0

12/21- First signs of wear and tear today. A bit of soreness in the shins and calf muscles but I still did pretty well in the workout. Trak Shak 5 in 37:54 (7:35 pace). There were numerous stops because I'm extra cautious in the dark so the effort was likely equal to about a 7:45. Weather was good but the crowd was sparse probably because many of the regulars are already on holiday. I've got one more day to go myself and hope I can do well on my tempo.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=5.0

12/22- Tempo was a failure. I knew I could not do it after I took my last pill in the afternoon. I bumped it up to 4.5 and it was a bad call. I am trending down, not up. I have got to be smarter than this. One thing that I did do that was a good call was not forcing it when I wasn't feeling it. I've got plenty of mileage on the year already and it won't hurt even if I don't do much for the next 4 days. I should have 2 chances to do at least a junk run. The workout was cut short to 4 miles in a time of 30:39 (7:40 pace). First half was a respectable 15:05, 2nd half was 15:34. If I had kept going, my pace would have gone over 8 by Mile 6. 1/2 mile warm and cool.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=5.0

12/23- Travel day and a planned rest. Back down to 4 pills and it was way too much. I would have been horrible in a workout.

12/24- Moderate effort on the trail. Finished 5 miles in 36:58 (7:23 pace). 1st half- 18:15, 2nd half-18:43. The 2nd half was slightly uphill though. Started off well then faded to the 7:30s in Mile 4 and worked pretty hard to hold it in Mile 5. A tempo or race would have sucked but for an easy run, this gets the job done. It is an improvement over 2 days ago. I only took 1.5 pills this morning and will take only 2 more for the rest of the day. I may try to cut it to 3 tomorrow and see what happens.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=5.0

12/25- No running on Christmas day. Just 31 miles in the last 7 days. YTD now stands at 2,073 so I still have a chance at 2,100.

12/26- Naked 2 mile junk run on very hilly terrain. Felt okay and put forth little-no effort. I was successful in getting down to 3 pills yesterday so I am now down 66% since receiving prayer at the LIFE retreat on 12/10. I believe that God is able to set me free but whether or not I will see it in early 2012 is another question. Just last year there was a 6 week period in which I felt best on no pills. 1 month later, I was far worse off than I had been before. That was not the first time it has happened that way. I don't know what to make of this. Only a medical report will confirm that I am free. Pray for me in this area of doubt. YTD is 2075.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.0

12/27- Back in Birmingham. Not a good day but that was not a total shock after being off my routine for 4 days. I felt pretty good in the morning but after taking pill #2, I was immediately much worse. I struggled the rest of the day at work and did not expect much in the workout today. Finished 5 miles in 40:12 (8:02 pace) indoors on a cold and windy day. First half was around 19:45. Second half was 20:27. Mile 5 felt much like Mile 25 in a marathon but the pace never went above 8:18 and managed a slight pick up at the end. I have reached 2,080 on the year (40 MPW) and expect to finish near 2,110. I will take only another 1/2 pill tonight and go down to 2 by tomorrow. 3 pills leave me way too sluggish. Let's hope that 2 will not push me to the opposite side of the spectrum.
Grade:D+/1 credit/distance=5.0

12/28- Trak Shak loop in the dark. The watch malfunctioned again so I had to go at it completely naked. I am not pleased at all with the Garmin 110. I only took 1 pill this morning and will take just 1 before bed. I felt MUCH better than yesterday. My grade is based solely on how I felt during the run and it rates as "good" but not quite "great." My only shot at the 5K time trial is tomorrow but I will probably bail because I'm too unstable. I may do a fast finish easy run and I've got to break the monotony of uninspiring 5 mile workouts.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=5.0

12/29- Blah. Planned workout was a fast finish 7-8 miler. I came through 5 in 38:48 (7:46 pace) with a mild fade (19:15-19:33) then had nothing left. I managed only a 7:38 6th mile then hung it up. 2 factors were holding me back. I may be able to quit the pills at least for now but the dosage is still too high. The bad news is that I may be sick. This feels like a low grade sinus infection but at least it's contained to my head. I may go to the doctor tomorrow. This may put a damper on my planned long run on New Year's Eve but I have 4 weeks to set things right after that. As for the grade, I get a "C" on the easy 5 and an "F" on the tempo. YTD: 2,091. Need to do the long run to hit 2,100 but at least I'm over 40 MPW.
Grade:D/2 credits/distance=6.0

12/30- Feel worse today and went to the doctor. Paid a $35 copay, waited a full hour and paid another $35 for pills. As expected, the diagnosis is an upper respiratory infection. Doc thinks it's viral but gave me antibiotics anyway and told me to hold off on them for a couple of days. I will wait one day only. Today was a planned rest day anyway but barring a miracle recovery, I'm out for tomorrow's long run. No chance to make it up later in the year so I'll have to take an "F." I'm glad that I clinched early. This "bonus week", which started out so great will end up being my 4th lowest GPA of the year. Today, I have zero energy/ zero appetite and it's not due to chemical imbalances. Has this infection affected my chemistry? I'll know soon.

12/31- 1 Mile run at Vestavia on a beautiful day. I wish I was able to enjoy more of it. I did better than expected and finished with a time of 6:51 with a negative split (3:30-3:21) on no pills. That's goal half pace. Still, when the planned workout was 22 miles and I only finished 1, there is only 1 grade that is appropriate.
Grade:F/2 credits/distance=1.0

Weekly summary:
That's a wrap on a "pretty good" year for me. It ended much the same as it started, with a respiratory infection but the good outweighed the bad for the 50 weeks in between. The final numbers are in and my odometer reads 2,092 miles with an average weekly GPA of 3.03. Both are PRs. I'm neither high nor low heading into the New Year.
Distance=50.0/ GPA= 22/11= 2.00

Monday, December 12, 2011

Training 12/12-12/18

12/12- Reached a new yearly mileage PR today. 2009- 1,993 miles. As of now, I'm at 1,995 for 2011. I fully expect to pass 2K tomorrow. Outside of that, today's performance was rather forgettable. Easy 6 indoors in 45:58 (7:40 pace). I said that I planned to slow down this week so I'm fine with that pace. I did fade to 7:45 in the last 2 miles but did not allow myself to push it. 1 mile cool down in which I felt like I was zonked out. I need a good meal tonight to recover the lost calories from yesterday. Another goal that I have is to finish the year with a 3.0 average. I need a 3.61 this week to clinch it. If I fall short, there's still one more "extended week" to go. Only an injury can stop me from this goal. I'll have to do better if I want to clinch it this week.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=7.0

12/13- Training goal #1 has been accomplished. This one was special too. Easy 8 on Lakeshore (trail plus double extension) and finished in 59:51 (7:29 pace). Smooth and relaxed all the way. Actually tried to slow the pace but could not. Very enjoyable run. Temps were a comfy 55 degrees even after sundown. YTD: 2,003 miles. New goal is 2,080 for the year (40 MPW over a 52 week year). I'll probably lose 3 whole days over Christmas but with 2 long runs ahead, I still think I can do it. This run is also key for the 3.0 goal as well. I'll still need to do very well in my tempo and LR to clinch it this week. Dosage has been cut from 8 to 7. Nothing to get excited about yet but it's a start.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=8.0

12/14- I've seen better days. Dreamed that I was in Compton, CA (birthplace of gangsta rap) and had to stay in a cheap motel. I have NO IDEA where that one came from. Garmin malfunction forced me to run half naked. When it was working, it showed paces in the 6:30s and I felt pretty decent during the run but didn't have PR stuff. I had to stop early because of GI distress that probably came from my protein bar and made up the shortfall with a cool down. The grade is based on how I felt when running which was pretty good but not great. I'll need a sensational long run to clinch the 3.0 this week. Dosage is trending down.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=5.0

12/15- Better today. Easy 6 indoors in 45:32 (7:35 pace). I often struggle in the mornings on weekdays but today was a nice even effort. Added a half mile cool. This evening is my last Bible study with the LIFE group and I'll miss those guys. I only took 3 pills this morning and will try to get by with 6 on the day. 8 to 7 is not a big deal. Down to 6 is encouraging.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.5
PM- Got off work a little early so I was able to squeeze in another 5 mile tempo this one was fully clothed. Finished in 33:12 (6:38 pace) with a final mile slightly uphill in 6:20. 1st half was 16:48, 2nd half was 16:24. Strong! I was successful in getting down to 6 pills too.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=5.0

12/16- Planned rest day. Tomorrow's long run will likely be a slow paced affair with a solo fast finish. In order to clinch it this week, I need 11.4 QP over the remaining 3 credits. I need one "A" and one "A-" and the "A" can be in either the long run or the easy run. If I can pull out an "A+" tomorrow (ranked among my best of all time), I only need a "B" on Sunday. Of course, if I fall a hair short, I'll clinch early next week barring a severe injury.

12/17- Run with the Gnomes. Planned on 17 and I ended up at 15 plus a cool down. Ran with the fast group that included a sub-4:30 miler and clocked a 1:46 flat (7:04 pace). Slowest mile was #1 at 7:37, fastest was #15 at 6:27. From about Mile 4 on, I was near 7 all the way. I'd say this qualifies as an all time great workout. My previous best long run was 18 @ 7:21. Even if I slowed to 8:00 over the last 3 miles, I still would have run a 2:10, which is an average pace of just under 7:15. I could have PR'd a half today for sure. All I need is a "B" tomorrow. As long as I feel decent at base training pace, I've got it clinched.
Grade:A+/2 credits/distance=16.0

12/18- Lakeshore 6.5 (trail + extension) at basic easy effort in a time of 48:10 (7:25 pace). I reduced my dosage to 5 pills yesterday and only took 2 this morning. Again, I was sensational. This almost feels too good to be true. This is the best that I have ever felt on a day after a long run. I could have gone below 7:20 if I pushed it just a hair. Crystal clear skies with temps in the mid 50s. Can't ask for better weather.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance= 6.5

Weekly summary:
I have now clinched a 3.0 for the year with back to back 50+ weeks with 3.5+. Any training I do for the rest of the year is pretty much a bonus. YTD total stands at 2,042. 38 away from a 40 MPW average for the year and I expect to do that. As for the rest of the year, I'd love to take a shot at the 5K PR but if I can't fit it into my schedule or the weather won't cooperate, I'll be content with what I've accomplished. With 13 days left in the year, there will be only one more training post because I expect to run little or nothing between 12/23 and 12/26.
Distance= 54.0/ GPA= 37.3/10= 3.73

Monday, December 5, 2011

Training 12/5-12/11

12/5- New phase of training begins today and it has gotten off to a good start. 8 miles at 3:10 marathon pace. Finished with a time of 58:07 (7:16 avg) with nice splits. I never went over 7:24 and every mile in the 2nd half was below 7:20. 1st half: 29:17, 2nd half: 28:50. I'm not too excited yet. The pace was fast today because I haven't done anything in 60 hours with the exception of the junk run yesterday. I expect to pass 2K miles by the middle of next week. Added a half mile cool as an emotional tribute to Ochocinco. I'll likely be inside for the next 2 days because of bad weather. I'm okay with that especially in the darkest time of the year.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=8.5

12/6- 8 miles indoors this time at base training effort. Time was a solid 60:22 (7:33 pace). Just a slight fade in the 2nd half (30:05-30:17) but that's only 3 ticks difference. My basic paces will slow as the miles pile up and that's fine. Strong performance. I can see myself doing 55 MPW comfortably for 7 weeks. There won't be much speed but that will come in the next phase. Finished with another "moving tribute" to Ochocinco. Hit 1950 on the year.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=8.5

12/7- HOT! Fast finish 7 miler with an overall time of 48:50 (6:58 pace). First 4 miles were nearly effortless in 29:25 (7:21 pace) then turned it up to tempo effort with a 19:25 last 3 (6:28 pace). This will probably be the only real speed that I do this week but that's okay. Heck, I bet that I could have gone sub-20 if I had run a full 5K and started a kick earlier. Again this was after a 4 miles @ 7:21 with no rest in between. 1 Mile cool and no tribute.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=8.0

12/8- Easy 6 at Vestavia track in 45:00 (7:30 pace). Smooth and relaxed all the way through. Nice even pace with nothing over 7:34 or under 7:25. Marathon training is not too glamorous but the miles look good at the end of the week. Temp was near 40 but at least it wasn't rainy or windy and it was good to run outside again.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0

12/9- AM indoor 3 in 21:44 (7:15 pace) plus a short cool down. Getting up in the morning during the week is half the battle and once again, I had to cut it short to get to work on time. That's okay, I only planned to do 4 anyway and I can just do a 5 minute parking lot junk run to make up the shortfall. A fast pace is acceptable on a short run like this. Got progressively faster (7:22-7:14-7:08) without trying to pick up the pace. The penalty comes from not getting up on time to make this a relaxed easy 4 or 5.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=4.0

12/10- Planned rest day for the LIFE retreat. The Gnomes are running at 5 AM today and the sun doesn't even rise until 6:30. I sure hope nobody gets hurt. Best of luck to those running Huntsville today. I've got my LONG run scheduled for tomorrow.

12/11- First and possibly only 20 miler of the year. Finished in 2:30:57 (7:33 pace). Route was a quadruple out and back on Lakeshore on a pleasant 50 degree afternoon. Boring? Maybe but I never had to stop for traffic, only for drinking.
1st 5: 37:30, 2nd 5: 37:31, 3rd 5: 37:40, 4th 5: 38:16. Slowest mile was the 19th at 7:52 but bounced back with a 7:17 in Mile 20. Most of that came in the final quarter mile. A bit of foot pain but I can fix that with prolo if need be. I have no doubt that I can go below 3:30 for a full mary. 3:20 will be a challenge. Overall, not as strong as my 18 miler but still very solid.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=20.0

Weekly summary:
Highest mileage of the year and I am feeling the effects of these paces. I fully expect that the paces will slow down next week. I have only a week and a half to go until the Christmas cut back. I have no plans to go over this mileage. I believe that my GPA is the highest of the year. I have only 6 weeks of quality training until Austin. I sure hope I can survive it. Year to date: 1988 miles. 2 workouts away from 2,000.
Distance=55.0/ GPA=29.8/8=3.73

Monday, November 28, 2011

Training 11/28-12/4

11/28- Weather was more like Seattle than Birmingham today and it will not be any better tomorrow. Temps never got much above 40 and there was a light rain or mist all day. Again, I opted for an indoor run and it went well. I think that the slump is officially over. Now that I have stopped the Juice Plus, my Thym-Adren dosage has jumped back up but the sensitivity seems to have diminished a bit. Workout was 7 miles in 50:52 (7:16 pace/ 3:10 marathon) plus an extra quarter mile in 82 seconds. That would have been near 75 outdoors without the tight turns. 1/4 mile warm and 1/2 mile cool to hit an even 8 on the day. Again, volume will be light this week because of the prolotherapy appointment on Friday but I hope to get at least 30-35 in the first 5 days. Can I stand to do 10 indoors tomorrow?
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=8.0

11/29- Answer to the previous question is yes. I actually think the weather was worse today. Upper 30s and windy and mist never stopped. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with temps near 50. Much better. Today's workout was good. 10 miles in 74:47 (7:29 pace). Solid and even pace all the way. I never went over 7:33. I did not feel quite as strong as yesterday but still very solid overall. I'm back up to 8 Thym-Adren. I'd like to cut that down but I've got to do what makes me feel my best.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=10.0

11/30- Darkest evening of the year. 4:39 sunset today, which is tied for the earliest of the year. To clarify, the day with the shortest amount of daylight is Dec. 21 but days begin to "get longer" now. The morning sunrise will continue to occur later until mid January.
Average performance today. Trak Shak 5 outdoors in 34:55 (6:59 pace). I suppose that considering the paces I've run this week, it's not so bad but I was off form today. I tried cutting down from 8-7 and my body was too loose. The only way to reduce it is to go back to the Juice Plus and that did not work so well. I had to rally from behind in the last mile just to secure the sub-7 pace to prevent a "C." Stopped several times because I'm extra cautious in the dark.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=5.0

12/1- AM run indoors (outside temp was 26 degrees). Covered 4 miles in 30:21 (7:35 pace). Not a real hard effort and it's acceptable for an easy day but my body is feeling a bit out of sync again. I hope to get another easy one in tomorrow then I will have to take the weekend off.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=4.0

12/2- Confusing. My paces were good but I just wasn't feeling it today. I think part of it was mental. I almost never run all 5 week days and when I do, it's only to make up for a horrible performance earlier in the week. I did lapse on my diet again yesterday and may be paying the price now. I ended up at 3 miles total with a rest at 1.5. The first half was 9:48 (6:32 pace) but I didn't time the 2nd half. I'm checking out for the weekend. I'll be back on Monday.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=3.0

12/3- Forced rest day (prolotherapy). I decided to volunteer at a local 5K and I'm glad I did but this is still a rather depressing day. I only had 6 shots this time instead of 9 so I might be up for a junk run tomorrow. Either way, it won't be graded.

12/4- Naked 2 mile run at Veteran's Park. I could have gone longer but chose not to. This won't do anything for my fitness but I just wanted to get out there. 65 degrees outside and I was out there running in shorts in December. Felt slightly better today both physically and emotionally. Time to go to work starting tomorrow.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.0

Weekly summary:
Enough slacking. I've only got 7 weeks of quality training to go until my next round of racing and Christmas will be a built in cut back. I thought the slump was over after a strong start to the week but it seems that I've slipped out of sync again. YTD total stands at 1,933 miles. Barring disaster, it's 2 weeks until I hit the 2K mark.
Distance=32.0/GPA= 21.1/7= 3.01

Sunday, November 20, 2011

White River half RR

I really felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I had been coming off 3 consecutive 50 mile weeks including the best long run of my life by far (18 @ 7:21 pace) and I was primed for a sub-1:30 attempt. Up until about a week ago, I fully expected to do it. Then the taper madness hit. I never felt in sync all week long and my dosage went down during the week then back up prior to the race. I really did not have a good feeling about this one at all.
This is state #12 in my 25 state quest and my first Arkansas race experience. The race is located in the small town of Cotter (pop 900) in the north central part of the state, just across the Missouri line. The only nearby town that you may have heard of is Mountain Home, about 10 miles away. In terms of nearby cities, it's about 3 hours due north of Little Rock and 2 hours south of Springfield, MO. I worked a whole day on Thursday, drove 4 hours to Memphis that night then it was all country roads for another 3.5 hours into town. Arkansas is an interesting state geographically. The eastern third is pancake flat and not a very exciting drive. If there's a race in West Memphis or Jonesboro, it would be a very fast course. The northwestern quadrant is very hilly with strikingly beautiful lakes. The race was located at the edge of the Ozarks and I'm sure it's nice in the Spring and Summer but in late November, there's not much to do. That's okay with me. I was there for a fast time and this course was all along a river and billed as one of the flattest in the country.
Race morning:
Once again, I did not feel right in the morning even with with normal dosage so I upped it and it was something that I would regret. The course went downhill for about 5/8 of a mile then leveled off or as I should say, became gently rolling. Indeed it was a fast course but the area down by the river was not perfectly flat. The first half had a bit more up than down, which made for a nice end. On the downhill, do I bank time or bank energy? Hopefully, a little of both. I would run about 6:50 effort, which I figured would equate to more like 6:30 with the downhill. I was out a little faster but it still felt pretty much effortless and I came through the Mile marker in 6:21, giving me a cushion of about 2.5 seconds/mile to the finish. I kept the effort even down by the river but my pace was still a little fast. By mile 3, I felt the first signs of trouble. I made the decision to deliberately slow to the mid 6:50s but I had to push just to maintain that. My calf muscles were as stiff as a board. Too many pills. Dumb. This could turn out to be a nightmare. I knew that there was no way that I could hold this pace another 10 miles and I feared that it could be a meltdown on the level of Nashville in which I had to walk some in the last 2 miles and saw my pace go over 9. Determined to avoid that, I punted early and settled into a fairly comfortable effort. Approximate splits:
6:21 (6:21) downhill
6:44 (13:05) plenty of time in the bank
6:53 (19:58) this does not feel right
7:02 (27:00) ready to punt
I expected that every subsequent mile would be another 15-20 seconds slower and by the end, my pace would be in the 9s and I'd have to walk some of it. I hit the portajohn in an attempt to clear some excess out of my system. It cost me about 30+ seconds but it seemed to be a good investment. Before too long, I was feeling better. I managed to re-pass 2 runners and decided to throw in a surge at the turnaround point. With less than 10K to go, the sub-1:30 was gone and probably the PR as well but I still had a chance at a "good time" (1:31:xx) if I could maintain it to the line. I heard a few encouraging comments such as : "Yeah. Push it." What a surprising turn of events. Perhaps the slow down earlier would allow me to do better in the last 5K this time.
7:50 (34:50) bathroom
7:15 (42:05) just get this over with
7:05 (49:10) what's happening. I'm feeling better.
6:48 (55:58) back under 7 pace, can still get a good time.
By the end of that mile, it was becoming clear that I could not hold it. I would run the best I could for the next 5 miles but it was not very good. However, if you had told me in Mile 4 that I could hold these paces late in the race, I would have been thrilled. Two other factors were holding me back. The winds were picking up (15 mph) right into my face and I was running in no mans land. It was quite a lonely last 5 miles. In the final tenth, I took a few steps in the wrong direction because I could not see the finish area. After that point, I did not kick it in because I no longer cared.
7:02 (63:00) looking like a 1:32:xx
7:15 (70:15) thankfully,this will be over soon
7:32 (77:47) stopped for a full cup of Gatorade and water.
7:18 (86:05) do I have enough pride to finish strong?
7:03 (1:32:08) still battling but the course will be measured a hair long.
1:26 - last .17 once it turned 1:33, I no longer cared.
Finish: 1:33:34 (7:09 pace)
Final thought:
My initial reaction was Ehh but this one is aging well. I was 17 seconds/mi off my goal on a fast course with good temps and moderate wind. That's not good by any stretch but it could have been a lot worse. In Mile 4, I feared a ghastly fade with a finish time over 1:40. That did not happen. If not for the 2 stops, it would have been in the 1:32s. That's still not close to the goal or even a PR but it's far from my worst also. I'll be lenient and give myself a "B." I've cheated on my sugar restrictions of late and I think that's what caused the minor instability with the pills. Still, there is no need for manganese or chromium. I had some soreness in my feet after the race. I think it's related to the pills but I'm leaning towards a few days off since I'm not racing for 2 months.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Training 11/14-11/27 (taper/holiday)

11/14- No matter how well I feel, I am resting today. Let the taper madness begin. This is a 2 week post because I'm traveling over Thanksgiving and won't be able to run much. I'll be lucky to hit 50 combined. Not to worry though. December will be big. Signed up for the 3M Austin half in January then it's the Mercedes full 2 weeks later. Early forecast looks pretty good for Arkansas.

11/15- Taper madness is in full swing. I was really restless last night and did not feel right this morning so I decided to do a small test to see if it's paranoia or the usual race week drama that includes a last minute adjustment to my formula. Good call on the test.
AM- 3 miles in 21:30 (7:10 pace) looks okay on the surface but I did not feel well at all even from the beginning. Splits were 6:59-7:12-7:19 and my muscles were quite stiff. This is NOT taper paranoia. 1 Mile cool down and I will try again in the evening. Tomorrow, I will try to reduce my dosage from 3 to 2. Unless I am balanced, I really don't feel comfortable going any lower than 2.
PM- No improvement over the morning. 2.5 miles in 18:06 (7:14 pace). Started out at 7:20 pace and held it for 2 miles but it felt quite uncomfortable. Final half mile, nearly all out, was run in 3:26. Last half mile was run at goal half pace so that's just barely enough to avoid a "D" grade. Added another half mile cool down. The dosage will be cut to 2 pills per day.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=7.0

11/16- AM-Worse than yesterday. I'm at the other extreme now. Will I need 2 pills or 2.5? I'll know by the afternoon. I have 3 days to figure this crap out. I felt awful from the get go and was cooked after 200 meters. I wanted to quit then and there but finished 1 Mile in 7:28.
PM- 3 miles at goal 10K pace. Finished in 19:10 (6:23 pace) with nearly dead even splits. After taking a pill late in the afternoon, I was pretty much back to normal. Maybe just a hair tight so it appears that 2 pills will do the trick, not 2.5. That's good. I don't like cutting them in half. My Achilles felt a little tender after I was done but did not bother me at all on the cool down. Still, I will take the precautions. I expect that tomorrow, I will have all of this figured out. Weather still looks decent for race day. Cloudy with temps near 50.
I get a "D" in the morning and a "B+" in the afternoon so it's an average of the 2.
Grade:B-/2 credit/distance=4.5

11/17- Another stressful taper has been completed. I felt some old injuries coming back. I sure hope it's just taper paranoia. Magic formula is currently somewhere between 2 and 3 pills and I still don't know. I'll just have to take little bits on race morning until I feel my best. AARRRGH! I feel pretty down on my chances. I jogged 3/4 mile then ran a 1/4 at 5K pace.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=1.5

11/18- Complete rest. There may be a delay in posting the race report because I'm traveling.

11/19- White River half in 1:33:34
Grade:B/4 credits/distance=14.0

11/20- Planned rest day.

11/21- Still don't feel very well. No desire to run so it's another rest. I'm leaning towards a mini break (3-5 days off) but that could change if I get the itch to run tomorrow. 3-5 days won't kill my fitness and may help prevent burnout.

11/22- Feeling somewhat better but I'm still going with an elective rest day. I plan to run tomorrow.
P.M- I couldn't wait. 1 Mile junk run in the rain with no watch. Foot pain from the race was gone. The groin was a tad sore. I had been extremely inactive since 11/19 and it sure felt good to get out there even if it was for less than 10 minutes in dreary conditions. Still essentially a rest day but I feel like I'll be back full throttle by tomorrow.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance= 1.0

11/23- 6 mile tempo in 40:42 (6:47 pace). Pretty solid performance. Still a bit of foot pain and it's beginning to be a concern. I'm due for another round of prolo anyway and I can treat that as well as the groin.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=6.0

11/24- Terrible performance on Thanksgiving. 6 miles in 51:32 (8:35 pace). First 3 miles were on target at 23:02, last 3 were a pathetic 28:30 (9:30 avg) with a final mile in 9:52. I pitched a bottle of pills that may be the cause of this latest slump. AWFUL! The only reason this is not an F is that I actually finished the workout.
Grade:D-/1 credit/distance=6.0

11/25- Still not good by any stretch but a nice improvement over yesterday's debacle. Easy 5 on the trail in 38:40 (7:44 pace). That time is within my easy range but the effort was tempo level. Faded again in the 2nd half but managed to keep my pace below 8 until the very last part. My foot did not bother me at all during the run and is only mildly sore now. I expect to pass 1900 miles on the year in my next workout.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=5.0

11/26- Elective rest day. Toured Sun Studios and got some tasty fried chicken on Beale Street in Memphis. Got back to the Ham in time to see the 2nd half of the Iron Bowl.

11/27- It looks like the slump may be over. This is probably the best I've felt in 2 weeks. I'm done with the Juice Plus and I'll take the higher dose of Thym Adren. Still a trace of foot pain but I don't think it's anything to worry about. I had hoped to do a double digit run today but we've got an all day rain and I won't do a long run indoors. I was quite pleased with the workout. 6 miles at an easy effort with a time of 44:48 (7:28 pace). Nice steady pace and even effort. 1st half: 22:44, 2nd half: 22:44. How about that? It's 1 PM and I'm not leaving my apartment for the rest of the day.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0

Weekly summary:
Down week overall but at least there is an explanation. Unless I can squeeze in a time trial, I will fall short of all of my lifetime goals this year again. Ugh. With nearly 5 weeks to go on the year, I need only 99 miles to hit 2,000 or less than 3 per day. That should be a cinch. Can I finish above 3.0 for the year. That one is going to be close. The way I felt these 2 weeks is worse than the GPA indicates.
Distance=51.0/GPA= 32.1/12= 2.68

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rant::Obsessive sports fans

I watched a documentary last night about the Alabama/Auburn rivalry and was sickened by some of the statements that were made. Couples have reported that it puts strains on marriages, which was pretty upsetting but one statement was particularly upsetting. An Alabama fan said that when his team lost, it felt like "somebody stuck a fist inside my chest and ripped out my heart." GIVE ME A BREAK! Heartbreak? Are you kidding me? At that point, I could not watch any more and turned off the TV. Let me tell you about what a tragedy really is. How about dealing with a serious chronic illness? Losing a loved one? Seeing your wife leave you for another man? All of these are indeed tragedies and should cause heartbreak. If you equate a game to anything like that, you have some serious mental issues. I'm no fan of psychologists but someone who allows the outcome of a game to dictate your happiness, you're mentally ill and need to get well. This is not intended to anti-Alabama in any way. The same thing happens in New York/Boston with the Yankees/Red Sox. I once heard a Steeler fan say that when the team loses, it ruins his whole week. Even the talk show host said: "Get a grip buddy!"
I suppose that I could understand such fanaticism if you have a close personal friendship with some of the players but most fans of major college and professional teams have no such relationship with any of the players. The only time I did know the players was in high school and I actually rooted against my own school because most of the players were a bunch of jerks who insulted cross-country runners. Okay, now somebody explain how your life is so much better when your favorite team is winning? Can it help you get a job or get a raise?
With all the hell I've been through, I'm certainly not going to let the outcome of a game determine my happiness. Every day that I am chemically stable is a good one. I've had some irritating things happen at work recently but I won't even let that get me down. I have been pretty much chemically stable for 7 weeks. My friends, THAT is indeed something worth celebrating.
My Clemson Tigers have a pretty rabid fan base and had been contending for a national title through 8 games. I'll watch the games with interest. When they win, I'm glad but I'm not going to use it as an excuse to get drunk and act like an idiot. When they lose, there may be a bit of sadness that evening but I'm not losing any sleep over it and I'm over it by the morning. I know that my problems won't be going away if they win nor will they get any worse if they lose.
As for the NFL this year, I have a few comments:
It's been an interesting season so far. I'm glad to see historically weak teams like Houston, Cincinnati and Detroit contending this season. 12 of the 16 AFC teams still have a realistic chance of making the playoffs. I am surprised at how the Colts have gone from a perennial contender to a bunch of scrubs seemingly due to losing their star quarterback. Speaking of which, I think it's a bad idea to trade Peyton Manning and put your future in the hands of a highly touted rookie. There's really no such thing as a can't miss prospect at the QB position. In fact, first round picks have about a 50/50 chance of long-term success. Remember that people thought JaMarcus Russel and Matt Leinart were "can't miss." Not only do you need extraordinary talent and work ethic to be successful, you must be in an offensive system best suited to your skill set and be surrounded by talent both at the line and the skill positions.
One last comment that I have relates to the Tim Tebow affair. Critics said that he could never succeed in the NFL before he even threw a pass. How do you know until you give him a fair chance? Obviously, he needs to improve his accuracy but he's produced a lot of touchdowns with few turnovers. Michael Vick also completed under 50 percent of his passes as a rookie and nobody called him a bust. Tebow is unlikely to put up big numbers and throw for 300 yards per game but he's capable of 100 on the ground and he's shown that he can be a winner at this level. Some people were actually rooting for him to fail because he's an outspoken evangelical Christian. I don't air my religious views on this blog (see my Main Website for that) but such a viewpoint is bigoted. Pure and simple. One quote was that "his imaginary friends in the sky can't help him in the pros." Can you imagine if anyone insulted a Muslim player like that? In conclusion, yes I'm rooting for Tebow and may invest a bit of emotion in his success but that's because I admire him as a person, not just as a football player. What I do not want to see is sadness about the outcome of a game when you have no real reason to care about the players on a personal level.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training 11/7-11/13

11/7- Easy 7 in 52:21 (7:29 pace). Nothing overly exciting to report. Felt strong despite a trace of soreness in my knee. I think the Kinvaras are about shot and the Lunar Elites are not far off so I'll switch to Brooks Cadence for easy runs. A bit fast for an easy run but it did feel easy. That's okay because my mileage will be a bit lower this week. Even pace. No major complaints about this workout. I hope I'll be up for Johnny's tomorrow.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.0

11/8- Johnny's workout as planned. 6x400 followed by a Mile on a nice 60 degree evening. Not a bad workout but I was hoping for a little better. 400s were right on time at 75. I was hoping for a Mile in 5:40 but had to settle for a 5:50. Felt good to run at 5:00 pace for the first time in a while. I could feel that my condition was beginning to deteriorate towards the end. The race is 11 days away and there could be some more drama with the pills. If it happens, I want it to be now, not next week. I went with 1.5 in the morning then nothing until evening. I may have to tweak this further. Even 1/4 pill could potentially make a difference. The medical report will be mailed in about 2-3 weeks. The results? We'll see.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=5.0

11/9- Dreamed that I visited a friend's house and was greeted by a talking dog who threatened me and eventually cussed at me. Easy 5 at the Trak Shak. My IT band hurt during the day and I was worried about it but once I warmed up, I was fine and it felt no worse after the run. Finished with a time of 38:03 (7:37 pace) but the final 3 averaged 7:45. Average performance overall. Ho-hum affair but I survived. If I can survive this week, I can feel good about my situation.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=6.0

11/10- Scheduled day of rest. I expect that my body will demand a rest and I dare not disobey.

11/11- Celebrated the day off work in my own style. The Gnomes wanted to run in the cold and dark but I chose to take advantage of the opportunity to run in the daylight. I took a ride down to Oak Mountain Park and ran 11 miles on a beautiful Fall day in Alabama. Sunny skies with temps near 60 and peak foliage. Very hilly out and back route and finished with a time of 82:30 (7:30 pace) on a route that included nearly 700 ft. of elevation gain and loss. Every mile was below 7:45 despite the fact that 2 of them had 152 ft of uphill with 0 downhill. That's an average uphill grade of nearly 3%. IT band is still a bit sore. I'm beginning to think that the orthotics will not work in the Cadence shoes. I can still use them as part of a rotation but I may need a new long training shoe. Newton Gravity? In any event, it was a strong MLR. I've got another double digit run tomorrow but it will be run with the slower Gnomes. Paid tribute to the Armed Forces with a 1 mile cool down at Veteran's Park on the way home.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=12.0

11/12- Run with the Gnomes. With the time change, it's daylight now at 6 AM now. Not a bad run but I was not pleased that I faded near the end. Finished at 13.5 in 1:45:46 (7:50 pace) but the final 4 averaged over 8 minute pace. Yesterday did take something out of me but I may need to tweak something with my formula. Average performance overall. All I need is a basic easy run tomorrow, which will be the official start of the taper. I'm sure looking forward to it.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=13.5

11/13- Intense runner's high after yesterday and I'm trying to keep it going. Basic easy run on Lakeshore plus one extension. Finished at 6.5 miles in 50:05 (7:43 pace). Solid performance. Not too exciting but that's fine for a run of the mill affair. Slowed just a tad in the last 2 miles but I was fine with the overall time and pleased that I showed restraint in not going for the sub-50 at the end. There's another 50 that's more important.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=6.5

Weekly summary:
Another good week overall. Nothing was as great as last week's long run but I rated every workout as "average" or better. Nothing less than a B minus. That'll work for me. Third straight 50 mile week and my year to date total is 1,850. I have a taper and a slack week ahead but will still finish well over 2,000.
Distance=50.0/ GPA= 28.5/9= 3.17

Friday, November 4, 2011

Another prolotherapy review

According to the stats page, my post from February 2010 entitled "2 days after prolotherapy" is my most popular post of this blog. I want to thank all of you for reading it and considering this treatment. Now, nearly 2 years later, despite the fact that I needed more treatments for the hip/groin than anticipated, I still endorse the treatment. When facing an acute athletic injury, prolotherpy is a fairly easy fix. Your time on the sidelines will be greatly reduced especially if the injury is treated early.
What is prolotherapy exactly? You will be examined by a doctor for painful trigger points then stuck with a needle in that painful area and injected with a special solution to promote natural healing rather than mask the pain like NSAIDS or corticosteroid injections. The pain is roughly on the scale of a root canal at the dentist. You will have an inflammatory reaction that can cause you to walk with a limp for 1-2 days but the tissues will be smoother and stronger within 5 days. More information can be found by looking up prolotherpy on google or You Tube. A directory of practitioners can be seen at:
In the winter of 2010, I injured my achilles tendon pretty badly. Those of you that have had this injury will attest that it is a tough one. When you can walk pain free, you think you're recovered but attempting to get out there and run too soon can lead to quick relapses and potentially a chronic problem. In my case, I was pretty much out for the better part of 5 weeks although I did struggle through a few short 2-3 milers while injured. A single shot of prolotherapy and like magic, I was healed within 5 days and it has never bothered me again. A month later, I ran the ING GA half in 1:38 (a respectable time on a hilly course) with no trace of Achilles pain. In October of the same year, I injured my knee so badly that I was walking with a limp a full week after the initial injury. This time, I needed 2 treatments (3 shots total) but once again, I was cured once and for all. Just 5 weeks after my 2nd treatment, I ran the full marathon in Huntsville in 3:43. Without prolotherapy, I would have been out for several months with each injury. With it, I was as good as new within weeks. Some people blame over training for my injury plagued 2010 season. I do not. I blame the chemical imbalances that hindered my connective tissue healing. I have no doubt that if balanced, I can handle 60 MPW during marathon training especially if my training paces are a bit slower.
As for chronic, longstanding, low-grade pain, it gets more complicated. Odds are, you may need upwards of 5-6 treatments about one month apart to get the desired results. You might think that you are in the clear when you are about 80% there but you are likely to relapse. If I do not get the 5-6 treatments now, I could be back in the doctor's office 2-3 times a year indefinitely. Not good.
The best thing to do is to continue to receive treatment until an examination for trigger points causes no pain and reveals no sensitive areas.
I injured my groin BADLY in the fall of '99 and was out for 3 months. Because of the Synthroid and the fact that I was in the early stage of adrenal fatigue, it never healed properly. The pain was usually little more than an annoyance and often disappeared completely after I warmed up. Still, the hip would usually pop and crack when I stretched it and some days were so bad that I could feel pain when coughing or sneezing. Without prolotherapy, I have little doubt that it would have progressed to a chronic problem that significantly hindered my running.
As for potential complications that could limit the effectiveness of the treatment:
The most common problem is hormonal deficiencies, specifically low testosterone. I suspected that because I had adrenal fatigue, I could be low. I am not. Because I developed the disease in my 20s, it did not damage my testosterone production as much as if I was in my 40s or older. Lastly, mineral deficiencies, revealed on a tissue mineral analysis can hinder your progress. The reason is that unbalanced body chemistry will hinder connective tissue healing. When my pills are off, I am abnormally sore and it is often the groin area that is especially bad. However, when I make the needed adjustment, the pain always diminishes so there is no doubt that chemical imbalances are a contributing factor and if I was balanced, the hip/groin issue may not even be there at all. That being said, prolotherapy has always helped no matter how unbalanced I am and again, it likely prevented me from developing a debilitating condition. I wish it were easier and less costly to treat long standing injuries but I can't think of anything more effective than prolo.
I see Dr. Mark Johnson in Nashville and highly recommend him. He is both skilled and a caring person who prays for the patient before doing the treatment.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Training 10/31-11/6

10/31- Plan was to run 10 miles on Lakeshore with the first 7.5 at marathon pace then pick it up at the end. I covered the full distance in a strong time of 71:17 (7:08 pace). If sustained over a full 26.2, my time would be 3:07. I have now run 34 miles in 3 days, all at 7:30 pace or under. That seems awfully fast and it is but I will have 2 days off following the prolotherapy. Speaking of which, the groin felt pretty good today but it's not 100%. Quarter splits were 17:56-18:04-18:07-17:10. That's a 6:52 pace over the final 2.5 miles. I like that. The Lunar Elites are getting a bit worn so on a MLR run, I went with the Brooks Cadence. I wore black, LOL. I feel like I may be peaking too soon but I'll have some slack time after Arkansas.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=10.0

11/1- Forgot to mention that I passed 1,750 miles on the year yesterday. Barring disaster, I will finish well over 2,000.
AM run- Today was not one of my better efforts. Not a big surprise considering the training that I've done over the last 3 days. Believe it or not, I don't think that was the problem. I took 2 pills in the morning, which was too much. I'll need to take 1 pill three times/day or 1.5 in the morning and 1.5 in the evening. Also, I did not have enough to eat. The workout was the Trak Shak 5. From the beginning, I wasn't feeling it but I did pass 3 miles in 20:47 (6:56 pace) then shut it down and jogged to the finish because I was out of energy. Headed up to Nashville for prolotherapy in the afternoon.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=5.0

11/2- Forced day of rest.

11/3- I had 9 shots in the hip/groin area on the afternoon on 11/1. Based on how I felt this morning, I can either take a 2nd rest day or do a junk run in the evening. I'm leaning towards the former. I'll be ready for a basic easy 5-6 tomorrow and hopefully long on Saturday or Sunday at the latest. Mileage should still be in the 40s.
PM- Opted for the junk run. 2 miles indoors in 16:16 (8:08 pace). No cause for alarm. This is just about what I expected at this stage of treatment. I should be nearly normal in 2 more days.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.0

11/4- AM- 2.5 miles in 18:51 (7:33 pace). I cut it short only because I wanted to get to work on time. I took 1.5 pills this morning and felt good. I will try to run again this afternoon without any more pills and see how that goes. I am unsure if I can go long tomorrow and that's okay. I can do it Sunday without a problem.
PM- This will be my last workout after work in the daylight until the end of February. I decided to run the Trak Shak loop and finished it just before it got dark. I covered 4.5 miles in a solid 33:21 (7:25 pace). Slowed just a tad toward the end but still pretty strong. I should be up for a LR tomorrow but it will be solo in the daylight.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.0

11/5- Skipping the 10K was probably the right call but I know that I would have done well in a race today. Instead, I did the best long run of my life. 18 miles in 2:12:08 (7:21 pace) with pretty even splits and a 6:43 closing mile. AMAZING! Route was (Trak-Shak to Lakeshore, up Green Springs then the remainder of the 5 mile loop) times 2. Fairly flat route but this is BY FAR my fastest pace for this long of a distance. This is 3:12 marathon pace and even if I slowed to 9 minute pace over the final 8.2, I still would have run a 3:25, which is a 10 minute PR.
Grade:A+/2 credits/distance=18.0

11/6- Easy 8 on South Lakeshore. 2 extensions plus trail. Time was 61:35 (7:42 pace). Sluggish start but I was fine after the first quarter mile. I actually had to force myself to slow down. Miles 4-8 were all 7:45-7:50. I needed a flat route after yesterday with the sore quads. Solid performance. I hope that this was easy enough to recover by tomorrow.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=8.0

Weekly summary:
Unbelievable to hit 50 during a prolotherapy week. I believe that's an even 1800 on the year. I will cut back just a hair next week with a race coming up on 11/19. Good call to skip the 10K. Strong MLR and LR but no quality speed or tempo sessions. That also changes next week. I've got a tough stretch of training in December and early January but if I can survive that, I'm golden. If I can manage to sustain this for 7 weeks, I've got PRs in my first 2 races of 2012. I will NOT normally push my LR quite this hard in the future.
Distance=50.0/GPA= 25.6/7= 3.66

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A few comments on running shoes

In short, I have gradually embraced the minimalist movement but do not see myself going any further down that road than I already have. Please take this with a grain of salt for I am in no way endorsing any brand or model as the one that everyone should be wearing. On the contrary, I believe that everyone must be pragmatic because the perfect shoe for one person could be a disaster for another.

Here's a brief history:
In the early 2000s when I was relegated to recreational running, I had custom made orthotics designed to manage tarsal tunnel syndrome that could only fit one type of shoe. At that time, it was the New Balance 991. This shoe is still around but the number may be slightly different now. It's a rather heavy shoe but offers plenty of support. Thankfully, my tarsal tunnel syndrome went away shortly after quitting Synthroid, which I was wrongly prescribed in the first place. I now wear OTC orthotics which are cheaper, just as durable and can fit almost any running shoe.
I buy all my shoes at the local running store, the Trak Shak and I recommend that all serious runners do the same because the workers are actually knowledgeable about the shoe that will work for you and seem to care much more so than department store employees. The Trak Shak sells shoes in 4 different categories:

Performance: racing flats, super lightweight but not very durable.
Neutral: lighter weight every day trainers for those with normal arches.
Stability: less flexible but provide more support for mild over pronation or supination
Control: heavy and stiff shoes, mostly tailored to heavy runners, heel strikers and severe over pronators.
In a department store, it is difficult to tell which shoe belongs in which category and you may realize after 2 or 3 runs that you spent $100 on a shoe that will not work for you.
As for me, I am a natural forefoot striker with a rather narrow foot and a high arch that easily collapses upon impact but do not over pronate or supinate . Something in between neutral and stability is the best fit for me and since I wear arch supports, I can get away with neutral more often than not. Control would be a disaster for a forefoot striker. I can use a minimalist/performance for a tempo or speed workout a couple of times a week as well as in a race but if I wear them everyday, I will eventually develop the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Still, my taste in shoes has steadily evolved toward lighter weight, more flexible options in recent years.
Here's a partial list of some of my training shoes:
Asics Gel Kayano- good support shoe but not very flexible.
Pearl Izumi Synchro Fuel- I like their slogan "Run Like an Animal." Lightweight with good support, cool design but not very durable.
Brooks Ravenna- pleased with just about everything here except the durability.
I'm wary of injury so I tend to replace my shoes perhaps more frequently than necessary. I tend to show a lot of wear in the forefoot area but the treads on the heel appear almost brand new even towards the end of their life. As I've moved towards a minimalist direction, I've tried some others in the Neutral/Performance line as follows:
Nike Lunar Elite: I didn't like these at first and almost returned them but they've grown on me since then. For some reason, I can't use the orthotics in these shoes or I'll get blisters. I still use them for walking and easy runs. Lightweight but not much forefoot support.
Nike Zoom XC- super lightweight and I thought they might be good interval and 5K shoes but they will not work for me. They provide too little support, zero cushioning and are not very flexible either. I'll probably end up giving them away.
Nike Lunar Racer- Good shoe for intervals, tempos and races. Decent durability, lightweight and flexible but not quite supportive enough. Still, I may buy another pair of these down the road.
Saucony Kinvara- Perfect for tempos, long races and okay for long intervals. Surprisingly durable and supportive given how lightweight they are. Not recommended for short intervals because the design is more for midfoot landings. Too much toe running in these is hell on the metatarsals.
Brooks Pure Cadence- Most supportive of the new Brooks minimalist line. This is my current long run shoe and thus far, I am very pleased.
One brand that I would like to try in the future is Newton. The shoes are lightweight, flexible, seem to provide decent support and are designed for a forefoot landing. The big negative is the price tag of $175. I hesitate to spend that much unless I know it's perfect for me.
My current rotation is as follows:
Easy: Nike Lunar Elite
Tempo: Saucony Kinvara
Long: Brooks Pure Cadence
Interval: Don't have one right now, Kinvara will do for 600s and above. May go back to Lunar Racers or Newton MS2 in the future.
I've seen some runners in the Vibram 5 fingers (basically a glove for feet) or even barefoot. To each his/her own but I know that would never work for me. That's a guarantee for PF and probably knee issues as well.

Edit:  The perfect shoe for me right now is on the neutral line, it may be curved slightly and must promote a midfoot or forefoot strike. Also, it should be lightweight and flexible. I don't need much heel cushioning but do need some in the forefoot.  It should have a fairly low heel-toe drop but I'm not ready for zero just yet.  I no longer need any type of orthotics as of now.
Yes, I did try the Newtons and I am a believer but like to maintain a rotation.  I still like the Lunar Racers for intervals and short tempos.  I don't like the updates on the Kinvara and have bought a pair of Karhu Fluids for long tempos.  Newtons are used for easy and long runs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My thoughts on Facebook

Like the internet itself, there is a lot of potential for good as well as bad here. I joined the site as a graduate student at Clemson back in 2004 when it was restricted to the college campus. Since then, I have accumulated roughly 440 "friends." How many of them do I talk to with any regularity? Maybe 50. Still, I like to keep tabs on people and see what some of my old friends and acquaintances are doing now. As for the good that has come out of this, I can think of several things. I have gotten in touch with a few people that I had really hoped to find. I rekindled a friendship with a high school buddy that I had not seen in more than 6 years and recently found an old running buddy that I had not seen since '98. He has since become a Christian and is inspired by my messages. I have joined and contributed to several health groups as well.  I also used facebook to help organize an annual reunion with my old high school cross-country team. Lastly, I found a girl who had stuck up for me when I was being bullied but had not seen since 9th grade. When I messaged her to say thanks, she said that it affected her so much that she started crying. It turns out that she is a runner now as well and we've talked about doing a race together.

Now, the potential for bad:
First, posts are widely read and the social network can be used as a tool for cyber bullying as well as to betray trust, spread gossip and to slander other people. For this reason, I would restrict it to those 18 and older. If a teenager insists on joining, I would suggest that his/her parents set up a facebook of their own and insist on being "friends" as a condition for allowing them to have their page. That way, the parents can view everything that their kids post and can take action in the event of anything offensive or inappropriate.

Second, in order to be facebook friends, you have to send a request to add the person as a friend. The requested friend then has the power to accept, reject or leave you hanging. You can also remove a person from your list, which is known as "unfriend" or "de-friending" as I prefer to call it. This can potentially cause hurt feelings.

I generally have a policy of no rejections and no de-friending because I don't like it when it happens to me. I may make exceptions if I get a request from somebody who is obviously not a real person or if I have a bad break up/nasty falling out with a real life friend, I would de-friend. That has not happened yet. The downside to this is that I have people on my list that I really do not care to have. I was prepared to ask someone: "We haven't seen each other in 10 years and didn't like each other in high school. Why did you add me?" I ended up just accepting them and forgetting about it. I've also gotten requests from people that I am quite sure that I have never met before. I go ahead and accept them as well because they might click on my site and either hear the Gospel or get in better health.
Have I ever been rejected or de-friended? Yes. If it's a high school or college acquaintance that I never really liked in the first place, I don't care but I've had a couple times in which I was hurt a bit. I can understand dropping someone if they post insults about you or use the news feed to push their fringe political ideology. I may post a Scripture verse, race result or random thought on occasion but I'm not a news feed hog. I almost never air my political views but do identify myself as "conservative" on my profile and yes, I was once de-friended just for that. Some people, like my sister, choose to limit their friends to those in which they are extremely close and family members. I suppose that I can respect that. However, there have also been times that I see a former classmate that I liked with 40+ mutual friends and is obviously not too choosy yet I was not good enough to make the cut. That's pretty low. I was once de-friended by a co-worker who had always been very nice to my face.   In another case, I was de-friended for no reason by someone who had recently thanked me "from the bottom of her heart" for praying for her and encouraging her.  To me, that says "I don't care about you at all."

Facebook can be an effective networking tool and can help you gain or deepen friendships that you may not otherwise have. In some cases, an old acquaintance may embrace a cause that is very important to you or share a common interest later in life. Beginning runners have asked me for advice on Facebook. Perhaps most significantly, a college acquaintance developed adrenal fatigue so I mentioned my site and we ended up talking on the phone for a half hour. We were cordial back in college but I never really thought of her as a friend, that is not until recently. That's the best example of why I don't de-friend and readily accept others. In conclusion, I still think the good outweighs the bad so if any readers want to look up the one and only Justin Zehnder, go ahead and add me. You will not be rejected.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Training 10/24-10/30

10/24- The Stress Pak should have cleared my system by now but there is still significant soreness in the groin and quads. This worries me. I will have to go to prolotherapy again before my race but I hope I can put it off until the taper. Dr. Johnson says my best hope is to get a treatment each month for 5-6 months. That will cost a lot of money but if it must be done, it must be done. I still maintain that I would not have this issue if not for the chemical imbalances but I expect my next medical report to be a lot better. I am open to taking a few months off down the road if it's necessary to fully heal. Symptoms fit the description of Gilmore's groin, which mimics a hernia but there's not actually one present. Prolotherapy is an alternative to surgery to fix this problem. Today's workout was 10 miles on Lakeshore in 78:44 (7:52 pace). Aside from the sore groin, I felt pretty decent out there. Relaxed steady pace and never put forth much effort. I planned on running Johnny's workout tomorrow but I may be relegated to all LSD this week. We'll see how it feels tomorrow then I'll reassess it.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=10.0

10/25- Worst day in more than a month. I felt like my groin was improving with stretching and easy runs but I took a step backwards today. Not surprisingly, I was crap in a speed workout. I only did 4x800 in 2:59 on South Lakeshore. On a good day, I can do 6 of them in 2:45-2:50. Then I hoped to do a 5 mile cool down at a low 8 pace. I felt decent at first but my groin gave out on me. I only did 2.5 in a depressing 21:45 (8:42 pace) and I was running 9:30 when I finished. Today sucked. I will call Dr. Johnson tomorrow. If I can't get an appointment by Veteran's Day, I am out for Arkansas.
Grade:D+/2 credits/distance=5.5

10/26- Another depressing performance. Half assed attempt at a tempo at the Shak. Finish time of 37:39 for 4.9 miles (7:41 pace) does not look too bad on the surface but if you look at the splits, it's horrible. Started off at a strong 6:30 then slowed to a 6:53 and it was all downhill from there. Mile 3 was 7:51 then I just slow jogged the remainder in 8:30-8:45 pace. I felt fine except for the extreme soreness in the groin. This feels very much like a sports hernia. Forget about any speed but I can slow jog and be okay. The good news is that I have my prolotherapy appointment on the afternoon of 11/1. I wanted to run 50 this week and I'll be lucky to do 40.
Grade:D+/1 credit/distance=5.5

10/27- Terrible day all around. I had to wait almost 4 hours to renew my car tag. I attempted to run at Veteran's Park and did one lap around the lake at junk pace and realized that I was doing more harm than good and quit. Thoughts ran through my head about being out for several months but it has now become clear that just as usual, the pills are largely to blame. I popped a 3rd Thym-Adren after I got home and had a swift negative reaction. Perhaps the groin issue would not even be there at all if the dosage was right. Why didn't I try to cut the dosage on Monday and prevent further damage? Dumb. I'm not ready to declare myself in the clear just yet. I'm still questionable for Arkansas and still need prolotherapy. Perhaps I did over reach a bit with my training but it's highly doubtful that it was the cause of all of this. I will not give up this fight now or ever. I will try again tomorrow.
Grade:Failure/0 credit/distance=1.0

10/28- Thanks for all the page views. I reduced my dosage and as I predicted, the symptoms have improved. The pain in the groin is still there but it's not debilitating.
AM- 2 miles indoors @ 6:47 pace. Mediocre performance but that's light years ahead of yesterday. I will run again this afternoon and the grade will be based on both workouts.
PM- 4 miles indoors in 27:09 (6:47 pace) again. I was shooting for goal half mary pace and did a hair better than that. I can still feel the pain in the groin but it's manageable now. Energy was pretty good but I was not 100% by any stretch. The Nike Zoom XC shoes are no good. Shoe review post will be coming soon.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

10/29- Run with the Gnomes. I was a bit more sensible with the pace this time. I covered 17 miles in 2:08:48 (7:35 pace) but I did have a couple of extended stops. I had some left at the end this time but I could feel the groin and quads especially in the last 3 miles. Once again, the pain is noticeable but not debilitating when my dosage is right. Speaking of which, I may be stuck in the middle there. 3 is not quite enough but 4 is too many. I hope to settle on 3 soon. Still no need for manganese or chromium. YES! Pretty strong run today. I only need 5 tomorrow to reach 50 miles on the week and I may go a little beyond that. Shoe choice today was the Brooks Pure Cadence. Good call.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=17.0

10/30- Oak Mountain run with Lee. Donated the Zoom XCs and wore the Lunar Elites. Slight Garmin malfunction early. It recorded 6.07 @ 7:37 but the actual distance and pace was about 6.15 @ 7:30 then later added a cool down. 379 ft. of elevation gain and loss. Very good out there. Very little pain in the groin and this one did not even leave me hurting in the least.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
The difference in how I feel on 4 pills vs 3 is like night and day. It's very unusual to be so sensitive and it's making me feel uneasy. At least the downward trend is gradual and this beats the hell out of the instability that I had over the summer. After a terrible start to the week, I rebounded with a strong weekend but it was not enough to continue the streak of 4 straight weeks above a 3.0 but I was very pleased with my mileage.
Distance=52.0/GPA= 24.3/9= 2.70

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training 10/17-10/23

10/17- Naked 3 mile recovery jog at Veteran's Park on a beautiful evening. I'm not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. The run itself was uneventful and I could not care less about the pace. I did have some sudden GI discomfort shortly afterwards. I cheated badly on my diet after the race and it was probably the sugar and/or caffeine that did it. A one day lapse will not do any long-term harm. The power gel did not seem to upset my stomach during the race but I do think it's possible that it hurt me a bit. From now on, I will stick to water and Gatorade for fuel.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=3.0

10/18- Easy 8 on Lakeshore in 61:56 (7:45 pace). I would have liked to have gone double digits today but I just did not feel safe doing it. Pretty solid performance and my effort was smooth and relaxed all the way. Got the workout in just before a big cold front hit. A little bit of IT band soreness but it is of no concern. I hope that I will be up for a tempo tomorrow.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=8.0

10/19- First taste of winter outside today (50 degrees and windy) but I was a new definition of RED HOT! Trak Shak 5 in 31:22 (6:17 pace). I did have to stop a couple of times for traffic but it was no worse than usual. Energy was unlimited. Even a 6:30 pace felt somewhat relaxed and I think I actually had more in the tank at the end. Splits were as follows:
6:17-6:19-6:19-6:24-6:02. Covered a 5K in approx. 19:30 en route. I believe that I had sub-40 stuff for a 10K but I will probably still focus on the half mary in November.
Grade:A+/2 credits/distance=6.0

10/20- AM run in an attempt to keep the MO going. Easy indoor 5 in 37:43 (7:33 pace). I would have liked to have done more but I didn't want to be late for work. Got in the groove in Mile 2 and turned in a 7:24 split but made a conscious effort to slow down after that. 1st half: 18:45, 2nd half: 18:58. Only gripe was a bit of groin soreness. Strong.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=5.0

10/21- Planned rest day that is more of a precaution against over training. I have a big weekend planned so mileage in the mid-40s will be fine following a race week. Since my long run is Saturday and the race was last Sunday, my 7 day mileage will be over 50.

10/22- Long run with the Gnomes. I was dumb enough to run with Brad, Eric and David. Not real smart after coming off 2 HMs in 3 weeks. 1st 3 were on target in the 7:40s then ripped off 9 with the fast group at a 7:20 average pace. With 4 miles to go, I finally fell off the pace and continued alone. Miles 13-16 were 7:28-7:41-7:57-7:11. Not much left at the end. Overall time was a 1:59:32 for 16 miles (7:28 pace) with a 714 ft. elevation gain. Pretty significant soreness in the groin and quads at the end. Not as strong as the previous LR but still solid overall.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=16.0

10/23- Brookwood/Lakeshore run. Easy 7 in 55:44 (7:58 pace). It was not a big surprise that I struggled today. I feel that the groin/quad soreness is at least partly related to taking too many Stress Pak pills. I will cut those out entirely. The run started off pretty well with a first half near 27 flat then faded to a 28:44. Weak all around.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
Strong week overall. Outstanding tempo and a solid long run. I only have 3 weeks of quality training left before my final race of the year and would like to average 50 miles over that time. Paces have got to slow to do that. On a side note, I have already topped my 2010 mileage this year. With 10 weeks to go, I have clinched a GPA higher than last year as well.
Distance=45.0/ GPA= 27.7/8= 3.46

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Columbus Half RR

Following my strong effort in Montgomery, I put in a 50 mile week which was followed by a steep taper. I ran little-nothing in the 3 days before the big day. Although this was technically my 3rd sub-1:30 attempt, it was the first time I approached the race believing that I had a realistic chance. As far as the pills, I had some drama this week as my dosage is trending down. I am more stable now and have not flipped from one extreme to the other but remain quite sensitive. A single pill, whether too many or too few would make a big difference.

It's a 9 hour drive to Columbus and that's about as far as I'll go via car. I would have preferred Cincy the following week but my buddy Nick could not get off work and this was our only chance to do a race together this year. This was my first Ohio race experience and my 11th state overall. The goal is to run at least a half in at least 25 states. I worked a half day on Friday and looking back, I probably should have taken the whole day off. The trip was somewhat stressful. I got caught in the Nashville rush hour and lost an hour due to the time zone difference. I made it just past Louisville on Friday night, about 3 hours from Columbus. I slept in until 9 AM then hit the road and stopped at a Pizza Hut Express just past Cincy. I arrived at the airport to pick up Nick with only about 30 minutes to spare. Then, we headed to the expo. I made a wrong turn and got caught in a bottleneck on the way. Fortunately, that would be the last of the drama. We treated ourselves to a dry rub Ribeye, settled in the room and watched our Clemson Tigers win a thriller over Maryland. Race morning went without a hitch.
Despite some anxiety over the exact right dosage, I felt good warming up and the attempt was on. My plan was to go out at 6:50 pace and hold it right there. If I had anything left, with 4 miles to go, I would let it loose but anticipated a painful finish. We were off right on time and I was feeling nice and loose but my Garmin was acting up again. Every time I looked down at my watch, I saw a pace around 4:30 and it was not slowing down. No way! This can't be right or else I'd be in the lead and running away with it. I asked a few people what the pace was and nobody answered so I would have to run it by feel until I saw a Mile marker. Finally, the watch said that I was slowing down after about a half mile. By the end of the Mile, my watch read 7:28. If that's accurate, it's way too slow. Pick it up a little but don't try to make it up in one Mile. I did see the 2nd Mile marker and an official clock time just under 13:40. I knew that 1st Mile was faster than that. Fine, I'm just a hair ahead of pace now and the Garmin would be fairly accurate from here to the finish. My only concern was that I was feeling some tightness in the calf muscles. That's not a good sign and often means that my dosage is just a bit too high. Outside of that, I still felt pretty well and decided to just keep up this pace for as long as I could. By Mile 4, it was clear that I was going to finish well. How well? Good enough to break 1:30? Under 1:31? At least a PR, I hope? By the end of Mile 5, I noticed that my pace had slipped just a tad and I was now just a couple ticks slower than 1:30 pace. Some downhill was ahead and I made the decision to make a bit of a push here in Mile 6 and turned in a strong 6:45 split. At the 10K mark, I was around 42:40 and I remember not too long ago, that would have been a PR at that distance and unofficially, I was almost exactly 45 flat at the point in which I figured that I was halfway home. Oh man, it's going to be close. This could come down to the last 5K or even the final sprint. Will I find some extra strength this time or fade once again after 9 Miles? The course was one of the flatter ones that I've done but it's no pancake. There were 3 fairly significant inclines in the 2nd half. None was steep enough to break your will but it certainly slowed the pace by a few seconds. The first of these came just after the halfway point and at this time, I began to realize that it's unlikely that I can hold this pace all the way through the 2nd half. Pride kicked in however and I thought to myself: I will remember today for years to come and I want to look back and know that I did not lose heart and I did not stop fighting. The 7th and 8th miles came and my pace remained below 7 minutes. I may be a few seconds down now but if I can find something in the last Mile, I can make it up. Unfortunately, near the end of Mile 9, I could tell that my body was tightening up and my form began to falter. I took a power gel hoping to gain a 2nd wind but it did not seem to be very effective. By the end of Mile 10, the official clock was over 69 minutes and my pace had slipped to the 7:10 range. The dream ends here and I would have to hang tough just to beat my 1:31:32 from 2 weeks earlier. Fortunately, there was no monster hill in Mile 11 here. It was just another mild incline and to my relief,I would not suffer a ghastly fade in which my pace slowed considerably each subsequent mile. I managed to show some heart and kept the pace steady in Mile 11 and 12. With one mile to go, I was in very good shape to PR but I wanted a sub-1:31. Most of the last Mile was slightly downhill and despite the fact that my body had been pushed to its limit, I managed to pick up the pace a bit. One final incline and then, we turned to the finish, heading slightly downhill. After passing the 13 Mile mark, it appeared that I needed about 5:00 pace to break 1:31. Oh, I'm going for it! I got on my toes and sprinted as hard as I could but it was not quite enough. I crossed the line with no disappointment at all in an official time of 1:31:02.
Garmin splits:
6:58* (6:58) estimated
6:42 (13:40) don't try to make it up all at once.
6:53 (20:33) right on pace
6:56 (27:29) just a tad slow
6:54 (34:23) nice and steady
6:45 (41:08) slightly downhill, back ahead of pace
6:54 (48:02) almost exactly 45 at the halfway mark.
6:58 (55:00) uphill, can I find something in the last 5K?
6:51 (61:51) back downhill, hoped for a better split, power gel.
7:09 (69:00) can't solve the 10th Mile issue.
7:09 (76:09) may have to fight for a small PR.
7:05 (83:14). PR is mine but sub-1:31 looks tough.
6:48 (90:02) Need a huge kick.
1:00* (1:31:02). estimated at .17- last .09 was 5:28 pace
Official chip time: 1:31:02, Pace: 6:57, Age group: 31/584
Final thought:
I had to take a shot at THE goal and I paced it almost perfectly. I just didn't quite have it in me today. I don't feel that I had my absolute "A+ stuff either" and I came within 5 seconds/mile. I know that I am capable right now. Once again, I could not clear the hurdle of Mile 10-12 and must get the mileage up to 45-50 MPW consistently. I will take one more shot this year in Arkansas next month and have decided to skip the 10K in November because I feel that my chances of a sub-40 are slim and I would have to sacrifice a long run. If I fall short in Arkansas, then barring injury, I can expect to do it in Austin (Jan 2012).
Congrats to Nick for setting a PR of 1:51 flat. That last minute is yours for the taking.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Training 10/10-10/16 (race week)

10/10- Elective rest day as part of my taper. I did not feel well today and was glad that I had the day off for Columbus Day. I feel as if it's a combination of over-reaching with my training and perhaps too much Stress Pak pills. I should be fresh tomorrow.

10/11- Johnny's workout was a fairly laid back affair. I made it short and sweet but kept the paces up to my standards. 3x600 and 3x400. 600s in 1:57 and 400s were 77-76-67. Not a bad workout but I was expecting a little better. In each interval, I started strong and faded towards the end. In the 600s, I was out in 56 every time then was over 60 on the 2nd half. In the last 400, I saw a 31 at 200 and was hoping for a 64 or even 63 but faded to a 67.6 at the finish. When it comes to the Mile and 5K, I've got the raw speed but when it comes to strength (short distance endurance), I showed today that I am lacking. It appears that I need to reduce the Thym-Adren dosage and a negative reaction this evening confirmed it. An adjustment on a race week again? I wouldn't have it any other way. Overall, a decent workout and if this is a low point, I can feel pretty good about it.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=4.0

10/12- I cut the Thym-Adren from 8 pills to 6 and it was still too much. There is now a trace of concern. If I settle between 2-4, I'll be fine. If I have to quit this stuff and go back on thyroid caps or manganese, that's a BIG problem. My next medical report will not be for another 6-8 weeks. I'll try to cut it to 4 tomorrow and see how that goes. I'll need a small test so it may cut into my planned rest time.
Much of the excess had cleared my system by the evening and I had a pretty strong effort out there. The plan was to run the first 4 near goal race pace (6:45-6:50) then burn a sub-6 5th mile. The first mile was a nearly effortless 6:30 but my calf muscles turned to lead and my body was too tight by Mile 2 and I slowed to the low 6:40s then allowed myself to relax a bit and came through Mile 4 ahead of schedule at 26:43 (6:41 pace). Mile 5 was a solid 6:07 with a strong closing kick. I would have liked to have seen a 6:00 but I'll take it. With a steady 6:50 in the first 4, I think I could have done it. Overall time was a solid 32:50 (6:34 pace).
As for Columbus, the plan is to go out at 6:52 and hold it. No faster than 6:50 until Mile 9.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.0

10/13- Not a good day. I only took 3 pills in the morning (5 in last 24 hrs). That's down from a peak of 9 pills. Once again, 5 was still too many pills and the dosage must be cut further. Race day is only 3 days away so it's the ususal drama. This time, I ran in the morning so I left no time for it to clear my system. The workout was a junk run as planned. 1 Mile in 7:42 indoors. First 3/4 in 5:59 then got down to goal half pace in the last quarter. Sluggish and stiff and it's not because of my training. Nothing but untimed strides until Sunday.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=1.5

10/14- Elective rest day. I hope to feel sharp enough to race one day before the actual event. I only took 1 pill when I woke up and though it wasn't quite enough, it was not far off. I hope to settle on 3/day until further notice. Maybe I'll do a junk run tomorrow. Plan is to leave the Ham early afternoon and get up to the Louisville/Cincy area.

10/15- Junk run on the hotel treadmill. Uneventful workout. Kept the pace just over 8 then allowed a very short pick up. Total distance amounted to just under 1.5 miles. Just enough to keep the legs warm. Today was a bit more stressful than I would have liked. I only made it to northern Kentucky last night because I hit the Nashville rush hour. Part of me wishes I took the whole day off work on Friday. I had to drive nearly 3 hours to Columbus, pick up Nick at the airport, then got in a traffic jam on the way to the expo. As far as the pills are concerned, 3/day will not do and 5 is too much. I will go with 4 tomorrow and hope for the best. My confidence is still fairly high but I'm not sure that I "like my chances" of a sub-1:30 at the moment.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=1.5

10/16- Columbus half marathon in 1:31:02 PR.
Grade:A-/4 credits/distance=15.0

Weekly summary:
Strong week despite some drama with the pills. Can't be disappointed with a PR but with the easier course, my performance was about even with 2 weeks earlier in Monty. I'm skipping the 10K in November so that means that my only remaining official race will be the White River half though I do want a 5K time trial.
Distance= 28.0/ GPA= 3.36

Monday, October 3, 2011

Training 10/3-10/9

10/3- MLR on Lakeshore. 10 miles in 76:19 (7:38 pace). That's a 3:20 marathon pace. Allowed pace to slow a bit in the last 2 miles. Interestingly, I had plenty of energy today but my muscles were VERY sore, especially the IT band and I've been doing a lot of stretching. I must go slower tomorrow. No speed work this week. I just want good mileage here which will be followed by a steep taper with little-nothing next week. A quick nugget about Saturday's half: According to runworks, my projected time on a level course is 1:30:26 and that does not take into account the many turns and curves, which also slowed me down a bit. If all goes perfectly in Columbus, I really believe that I've got a shot. Let's hope the IT band feels better tomorrow or I will be concerned.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=10.0

10/4- Almost a carbon copy of yesterday but shorter. This time I parked at South Lakeshore and did the extension first. 7 miles in 53:03 (7:35 pace) plus a half mile cool. Once again, I was out fast but settled into my base pace by Mile 2. The IT band is still a bit sore but it's holding up. I'm continuing the stretches and in addition to Thym-Adren, I've added a small amount of Stress Pak. The reaction seems to be both positive and stabilizing. I don't feel as terrible if I don't take the mega dose of Thym-Adren. Again, this workout was faster than I planned and I expect Lee will be out to hurt me tomorrow. This could be rough but I've got a shot at 50 this week.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.5

10/5- Trak Shak 7 loop in 47:51 (6:50 pace). Strong tempo effort on tired legs. Lee killed me and I'm afraid that I may not be able to run with him for much longer. He's got a sub-3 marathon in him in the near future. I do think he was a bit fresher than I was. Faded on Mile 6 and those of you from B'ham that know this loop can guess why but bounced back with a sub-7 in Mile 7. This was comparable to my 8 mile loop in 54:50 this Spring so I'll take it. 50 miles this week is looking realistic. IT band pain has diminished and it may be as a result of the Stress Pak. 11 days until Columbus and I ran sub-1:30 pace today. Hit 1,600 on the year.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=7.5

10/6- AM- Indoor 5 mile in 38:35 (7:43 pace). I'm fine with this one. I am appropriately sore and tired today. All I need is a good long run and basic easy run on Sunday and I will hit 50. Not too glamourous today but this week is more like what marathon training looks like.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=5.0

10/7- Planned rest day. I am well on my way to consecutive 3.0+ weeks for the first time since late June. As for the 10K in the first week of November, my gut feeling is to skip it but if I break 1:30 in Columbus or get that 5K PR, I may decide to go for it. Hoping to get 15 tomorrow. No bizarre dreams. I've had some sugar cravings recently but I've stayed strong with the exception of a couple mini pieces of candy. I ate a ton yesterday too but I needed it. I've been off soda a month now and I feel good. Since 9/21, I've had no sweet tea and only 2 days with any beer.

10/8- Terriffic long run with the Gnomes. Ran mostly with David and Caitlin for the first 10 then nobody wanted to run my pace anymore. 15 miles in 1:51:45 (7:27 pace). Not including the warmup mile in 8:45, the average pace was a 7:21. I may pay for this one down the road but my objective was to solve the last 5K of the half mary. In Idaho and Montgomery, I faded after Mile 9 and that must not happen in Columbus. Last 6 miles today were as follows:
7:14-7:16-7:08-7:15-7:17-6:18. That last mile is NOT a typo either. Got a shot at it now.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=15.0

10/9- Lakeshore 5 in 36:46 (7:21 pace). I am officially on fire. I was doing 7:15s comfortably until I allowed the pace to slow in the last 1.3 miles and that was partly because it was slightly uphill. No problem at all after yesterday. I was only mildly sore.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.0

Weekly summary:
Red hot all week long. 3rd week out of the last 4 that I finished above 3.5 and my yearly cumulative has finally climbed above 3.0 for the first time. Can I stay hot for another week? If so, I like my chances in Columbus. Average pace was 7:26 for 50 miles.
Distance=50.0/ GPA=33.5/9= 3.72 (highest of the year)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Monty half marathon RR

Not much different than my usual. High quality with an average weekly mileage just over 40. After an extremely unstable summer, I finally felt a breakthrough after I completely eliminated soda, sweet tea and beer from my diet. The results have been so profound that I intend to keep this diet with the possible exception of social gatherings.

The race starts at 7:00 AM and I figured the drive in to town would be over an hour plus I would need time to park, pick up my packet, warm up and perhaps tinker a bit with the pills. For these reasons, I chose to stay in a hotel that was just out the door from the starting line. If this had been simply a local 5K or 10K, I would have driven it race morning. I lived in Montgomery from August '06-May '09 and this trip alllowed me to check out some of my old hang outs again and reflect on my time there. I have some good memories and some not so good ones but I won't get into that now. Anticipating a minimal expo, I made a couple of stops at gas stations to find what I needed for the morning, a Power Bar and Powerade zero to keep my sugar consumption to a minimum. I picked up dinner at another old hang out in Millbrook and headed to the hotel. It was right around 6:00 so I ate quickly and walked to the minor league baseball stadium just before the expo closed at 7:00. I caught up on my phone calls then went to bed at 10:00 and actually slept fairly well. I did wake up before the alarm at 5:15, took the pills that I needed and headed out the door. Weather was near perfect. 50s at the start and near 60 at the finish with clear skies and light winds. I felt good warming up and was primed for a PR. Sub-1:30? Very difficult especially on a moderately hilly course. My official PR was 1:32:49 in Chattanooga back at the end of February but I did run a time that I believed to be a PR in May in Idaho but there was a question as to the true length of the course. If nothing else, I wanted to put that question to rest and finish below 1:31:57 (my 13.1 time via Garmin in Idaho)

Pretty scenic route that showcased some of the better parts of the city (Monty has some rough areas). Miles 1-2 were mostly a gradual climb then 3-10 were flat-gently rolling with slightly more downs than ups but Mile 11 would be nasty. However, if I could survive that still feeling halfway decent, I could gun it in the last 2 because it was downhill then level to the finish. The plan was to go out conservative then try to hold 1:30 pace through the middle, survive the hill and kick it in hard. I was out a little faster than planned but not so bad that I would be doomed in the later stages. The first 2 miles each passed by in 6:55 via Garmin though the true pace was likely closer to 7:00. Just like Idaho, the course would be measured 2 tenths too long but in this case, the mile markers were pretty much on target (1.01-1.02) almost every time and the course did have a lot of turns so I will not question the length this time. Miles 3-4 were largely a shallow decline and thoroughly enjoyable as we went through a small park before heading on a main road. Here, the Garmin splits hovered right around 6:40 and despite feeling very strong, I was a bit concerned about going too fast. Mile 5 had more rollers through the Alabama State campus and the student band was out playing music for us. That was a nice touch. Again, I managed another 6:40 split but it may have cost me as the pace would gradually slow over the next few miles. Perhaps I could have held it but I was wary because I had heard horror stories about Mile 11, which was fast approaching. In Mile 6, I pulled up alongside another runner who also had a 1:30 goal and we ran nearly stride for stride for much of the next 3 miles. I managed to hold a sub-7 pace through Mile 8 and 9 and 10 were just a shade over the barrier. The course highlight here was Huntington College, where a friend of mine had recently graduated. According to the official clock at Mile 10, my time was just over 69 minutes, well ahead of PR pace and still on target for a sub-1:30 (barely). I knew I would lose it going up the hill but could I make it up on the downhill. Heading up the hill, I passed the man that had kept me company for nearly 4 miles and though I could feel my energy fading rapidly, the pace was still respectable. Unfortunately, there would be no downhill immediately following the climb. It merely leveled off and the small decline that we did get barely helped at all. Then, we went back up another small hill and the downhill did not begin until the Garmin read 11.1 miles. 2 miles to go now and I figured that the course would be measured around 13.2 so after a quick calculation, I figured that I need to do a 6:30 for each of the last 2 miles and finish strong. I had done faster than that at Statue 2 Statue but on this course, the downhill would be more gradual and I was pretty much spent. My pace increased to the 6:40s but no faster. At this point, I wanted a sub-1:31 but I was pretty much content with the PR. Once the terrain leveled off, I faded again to the low-7 range. To make matters worse, the 12 Mile mark did not come until the Garmin read 12.17. This could be another race measured at 13.3. Now, a mid-1:31 was looking acceptable but there was no doubt that I would PR. With a tenth of a mile to go, I was still under 1:31 officially and we made one last turn into the baseball stadium. It was a respectable finish but nothing special and I crossed the line offiicially at 1:31:32. I was quite pleased with this result.
Garmin splits: (probably should add 5 seconds to each to make it more accurate)
6:55 (6:55)
6:55 (13:50)
6:40 (20:30)
6:39 (27:09)
6:40 (33:49)
6:44 (40:33)
6:47 (47:20)
6:54 (54:14)
7:02 (61:16)
7:00 (68:16)
7:15 (75:31) uphill
6:54 (82:26) downhill
7:05 (89:31)
2:01 (1:31:32) last .32
My new running buddy Lee aka the Caucasian Kenyan ran a great race in 1:29:51. Way to go Lee. You have now earned that nickname. I broke my rule and had some beer at the finish and took in the atmosphere. As long as I limit it to special occasions and keep the consumption to a minimum, it should not hurt me. Next, I showered, checked out of my hotel and headed down to the awards ceremony, where much to my surprise, I placed third in my age group and got a nice plaque to take home. Another bit of good luck happened on my drive home. I punctured a tire and as soon as I noticed the problem, I saw a Quick Lube place just across the street and got it patched up for just $10. Great day all around.
Final thought:
Not only did I PR, I averaged a sub-7 pace for the first time ever. Am I in sub-1:30 shape on a flatter course? I doubt it but I'm certainly good for a 1:30:xx. It was not a brutal fade at the end but I just don't think 40 MPW is quite enough to achieve the goal. I need at least 45 with a regular 15 mile long run sustained over 2-3 months. I've got the Columbus half in 15 days, which is a faster course. After that, there is one question. Do I race a 10K in November and take a shot at sub-40 (current PR is 40:28 solo) or just focus on increasing the mileage with fewer races? I'd like to get in a 5K time trial in cooler weather that will give me a better idea of my sub-40 chances. I had originally planned a full marathon in November but will downgrade it to the half because of insufficient mileage. The half that I really have my eye on is the 3M (Jan 2012) in Austin, TX, which is a blazing fast course with very few turns and nearly twice as much downhill as uphill. That's my best hope.
Grade: I'll be a little lenient and call this one a solid A because it's a PR.