Monday, April 30, 2012

Training 4/30-5/6

4/30- Last day of a rotten month. 
AM- 3 mile progression to tempo effort at the end.  Finished in 21:25 (7:08 pace) with splits of 7:18-7:11-6:56.  That's still a full minute slower than race pace but the first time I've clocked anything under 7 since the flu.  Strength is slowly returning.  Tupelo is on 5/12 and it may be too hot to race all out but I'm going no matter what.  Miss'Sippy will be state #5 out of 10 in the 10K department.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=3.0

PM- 6 miles in 45:15 (7:32 pace).  It's now day 7 of the flu and I'm coming along steadily.  I still think I'd be over 45 in a 10K race but this was the first day that I could have finished a half mary (2 days late for Kentucky).  Today, I hit my normal easy pace but the effort was not quite in the easy range.  Faded in Miles 4-5 but did manage to bounce back a bit at the end.  1st half: 22:22, 2nd half: 22:53.  I get a decent grade today because this was not a scheduled hard workout and I hit the planned pace.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

5/1- Planned rest day.  I'm interested in seeing if a day off will accelerate the recovery process.  I hope to be back at full speed by Wednesday.

Quick update on the Cal/Mag imbalance:  In short, this is going very well.  It appears that I will be able to stabilize at 5:5 after all.  The need for extra magnesium was slowly trending down but just as I suspected, dropping to a 5:5 too quickly overshot the balance point.  A few days on 5:6 was all I needed.  My struggles with the flu last week had absolutely nothing to do with this.

5/2- Trak Shak 8 hard in 57:12 (7:09 pace) in 85 degree weather.  I wilted after a strong first 5 miles.  1st half: 28:06, 2nd half: 29:06.  Solid overall.  The virus has not completely cleared my system but I expect it will be gone in about 2 days.  Best workout since the flu but I still feel that I'm at least 5% below my peak.  That means that my 10K would be in the 42s.  Chances are slim-none that I can get back to sub-40 form within 10 days.  Still on 5:6 Cal/Mag and I finally got my temporary tooth today.  Very tired after the workout.  Diet must be strictly followed.
Grade:B+/2 credit/distance=9.0

5/3- Yesterday's workout took more out of me than I expected.  I was not up for a sprint workout today but I was fine in a basic training run.  I ran 5 miles with clothes in 37:25 (7:29 pace) then stripped for another half mile at the same effort.  Added another half mile cool.  Felt fine in an easy run but the real test is a quality session.  I feel that I may be ready to try a 5:5 ratio.  Sprint workout tomorrow I hope.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0

5/4- Sprint workout at Hoover as planned.   8x100/ 4x200 plus a Mile warm and cool.  Ran naked by choice today because it's so difficult to get an accurate self-time in a 100.  Strong effort and good leg turnover but managed to stay fairly relaxed most of the time.  Need to work on sprinting form.  I do not particularly enjoy intervals less than 400s but if I want to get the long awaited 59.9, I need to do this once a week.  The flu is about 95% gone now but the residual crud could take a while to fully shake out of my system.  Took a 500 mg. calcium and just a trace over 500 mg. magnesium.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=3.0

5/5- Summer like weather conditions.  I was too lazy to get up early today and did not get started until 7:30.  By the time I finished, it was already over 80 degrees with high humidity.  I had planned on running 12 but decided to cut it to 9 then added a cool down mile.  Time for 9 miles was an even paced 67:22 (7:29 pace) that did NOT feel easy.  Time would have been slower if not for a few extended water breaks.  Legs were a bit tired from the sprint workout as well.  I may not enjoy running hard 100s and 200s but the "runner's high" that I get from short intervals workouts is far more intense and makes it worth it.  Decent performance.  Took the 5:5 cal/mag today.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=10.0

5/6- Easy 6 indoors in 45:31 (7:35 pace).  Body felt a bit tight but it's nothing to worry about.  I did go to a Gnome party last night which might explain why I felt a little sluggish.  Still a decent performance.  Nearly dead even pace (22:45/22:46) with every mile between 7:33-7:38.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

Weekly summary:
Feels good to be back on the plus side of 3.0 after 3 bad weeks in the last 4.  This is pretty much what summer training will look like.  Rather than drastically slow my paces in the heat, I choose to ramp up the quality and keep the mileage moderate (near 40).  Tupelo weather is looking decent so I may be able to run a good time there after all.
Distance=43.0/ GPA= 31.6/10=3.16 (I like that number)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Training 4/23-4/29 (race week)

4/23- Stayed with the 5:6 ratio and was very pleased with the result.  Easy 5 in 36:21 (7:16 pace) plus a cool.  Slightly negative split despite making no effort to pick up the pace.  Very smooth and relaxed.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.5

4/24- 4 days away from race day and guess what?  I'm sick.  How bad?  I'll know tomorrow.  Right now, my primary symptoms are body aches, a nasty sore throat and an annoying runny nose.  Even if it's just a cold, it seems unlikely that I'll be fully recovered in time.  Against my better judgment, I did try to run today and did surprisingly well early then my energy ran out midway through Mile 3.  I stopped at the end of that Mile with a time of 22:36 (7:32 pace) with splits of 7:26-7:30-7:40.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=3.5

4/25- This feels like a bad dream.  Day 2 is normally the worst day so this is as bad as it's going to get. Race day is on day 5. My throat is killing me and I'm congested but the body aches are not severe and the infection appears to be contained to my head.  No running today.  I've got 2 more days to decide whether or not I will even go to Kentucky.  Unless I am significantly better, it's a no go.  Even if I go, I will probably just jog it.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=0

4/26- Planned rest day so there will be no grade today.  Barring a miraculous turn for the better tomorrow, I will not be going to Kentucky.  I see no point in driving 6 hours to perform so far below my peak.  Jogging 13 miles serves no other purpose other than to set my recovery back.  The Kentucky Derby half will certainly be around long-term so it will be pushed back to '13 or '14.  Today, the sore throat pain has diminished but the fatigue and malaise is still considerable.  At best, I'll be up for some light workouts this weekend.

4/27- The scheduled workout for the day was a junk run, which I managed to do.  1 Mile indoors on my way to work in a time of 7:49.  It required little effort but I don't think I could have even broken 7 all out.  I might be able to finish the race tomorrow but the "no go" decision is still the right call.  The weather forecast has turned nasty for Louisville (60% chance of storms with severe weather possible).  I don't feel so bad now about missing that.  No grading today either.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=1.0

4/28- Definitely a good call on not going to Kentucky even though the weather held off.  I did make it to the BTC social and slogged 4 miles in 35:00 (8:45 pace). Splits were 7:38-8:02-9:05-10:15.  Even if I Gallo-walked it, I'm not sure I could have finished.  This is not just a bad cold.  This is a definite case of the flu.  I fit all the symptoms.  It could be 2 weeks before I'm all the way back.  I get an automatic F for the missed race but a plus for completing an easy workout.
Grade:F+/4 credits/distance=4.0

4/29- Got a little bit stronger today.  5 miles in 39:41 (7:56 pace) plus a walk.jog cool.  Nice step forward but still far from where I want to be.  Felt easy for the first half but by Mile 4, the pace was really getting to me.  Managed to keep all 5 miles below 8:00. Clinched a 1.0 for the year.
Grade:C+/1 credit/distance=6.0

Weekly summary:
Back to back blows.  This hurts.  Once I got the Cal/Mag lined up, I catch the flu.  Ouch.  This is my worst weekly GPA since Oct '10 when I was injured.  After the red hot start, I am now only one more bad week from dropping below 3.0 for 2012.
Distance=20.0/ GPA= 9.5/8= 1.19

Monday, April 16, 2012

Calcium/Magnesium imbalance

Edit on 6/26/12:
I believe that this problem arose due to an extreme intolerance for sugar and caffeine.  Since discovering the problem, I made numerous adjustments to my Cal/Mag formula, which is why my 2nd quarter of 2012 was not very good.  I still don't understand why this issue has gotten worse recently.  There is a chance that by allowing virtually no sugar in my diet, I can stay off the pills and achieve my potential.  That means no soda, no energy drinks, no beer, no liquor.  Even fruit drinks with no sugar added are off limits.  Basically, all I can drink is water.  The only exception is some Gatorade during runs over 8 miles. 

In my 4 races this year so far, I have raced at 100% only once. That was in Austin. I managed to set PRs at both Mercedes and Rumpshaker but both times, I felt like I was off my game by 1-2%. That's worth 10-20 seconds in a 5K and 2-4 minutes in a marathon (200 minutes*.01= 2). As for New Orleans, I was at least 5% off. If I can get this problem solved, I've got my 5K and 10K goals in the bag barring injury. I'd love to focus more attention on the 400 and Mile until it's time to train for my next marathon in '14 or '15.

After some research yesterday afternoon, I feel a bit better about my situation. The problem is an excess of calcium relative to magnesium and supplements must be taken to correct it. Pills are normally sold in either a 2/1 cal:mag ratio or a 1/1 ratio. This issue has been bothering me off and on since before Mercedes and I found that it is not the number of pills that is important but the ratio of cal/mag. Since the diagnosis, I've been taking a pill that is a 5/3 ratio and as a result, calcium has steadily risen relative to magnesium. Taking all calcium would be a disaster at this stage. All magnesium may lead to a few good days but eventually, I develop negative symptoms associated with a magnesium excess. It is my hope that I will eventually stabilze by taking a 1/1 ratio. Why such sensitivity? That's just the nature of the beast when dealing with chemical imbalances.

Chemical imbalances do NOT mean that you need to be institutionalized. It's not your fault nor is it a cause for being ashamed. Ignorant people tell me to just go to counseling or worse "pray it all away." They might mean well but I'd like to smack 'em when I hear it. I've said it too many times already but it must be said again: It doesn't matter how good things are on the outside or how great your attitude, symptoms will be there when the body chemistry is unbalanced. The only way to improve your symptoms is to balance your chemistry. As for praying it away, God is indeed able to heal and I am steadfast in my belief that it's not his plan for anyone to be unbalanced but faith must be accompanied by action (taking pills when needed).

A non-believer once told me that he considered the possibility that my "religious beliefs" are a major reason why I manage this condition so well. That's not quite true but I can explain it further. It's not enough to simply believe. You have to get to know God through a relationship. See my main site for more info on that. Through prayerful discernment, I believe I can determine what needs to be taken. That's a gift of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, I am extremely well in tune with my body through these workouts. If I can't run up to 10 miles comfortably at 7:30 pace or run an all out Mile near 5:30 and have not done anything real hard in the last 2 days, I know something is wrong long before a sedentary person can even feel a difference.

The fact that I managed to stay off the pills for 4 weeks bodes well for the future. I should be able to miss a dose here and there without major problems. Why could I not tell sooner that I needed to adjust my ratio rather than quit the pills? I was excited by the possibility of being free and was not strong enough to discern that I still needed a pill. Time to get back on track now.

Training 4/16-4/22

4/16- AM. 1 Mile test indoors on my way to work. Finished in 6:48 at near tempo effort. I took a 4/9 cal-mag ratio yesterday, which was clearly too much magnesium. Today, I bumped it up to 5/9 and it was still too much magnesium. I'm going to try 5/7 tomorrow then hope to eventually stabilize at 5/5. I'm not up for anything hard tonight but a basic 5-7 easy will do.

PM- Easy 6 in an even 45:00 (7:30 pace). Even pace and actually had some power in my legs. Aerobically? Not so good today. Hit my norm as far as pace but this is no cause for excitement. I'm sure that I would have been under par in a race, tempo or time trial. Still a bit too much magnesium but 5:9 felt a lot better than 4:9. Let's see what happens on 5:7. I'm afraid that if I try 1:1 right now, it will overshoot the balance point. Still hopeful of stabilization. For an easy workout, 6@7:30 in relative comfort is a pretty solid day.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=7.5

4/17- 7 miles in 48:54 (6:59 pace). Moderate effort. Never uncomfortable. Hit 6 at 42:38 then turned up the heat for a 6:16 in Mile 7. That's in between 5K-10K race pace. Went down to a 5:7 ratio as planned. The only ill-effect was a little diarrhea, which is common with a magnesium excess. I will try 5:5 tomorrow and then will try to stay there. To clarify, a 5:7 ratio means 500 mg. calcium/700 magnesium, not 5 pills/7 pills. Excellent workout.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=7.5

4/18- PHENOMENAL! Trak Shak 8 in 53:57 (6:45 pace). That's my current half mary pace. Took a 1:1 ratio and it worked to near perfection. Only irritation was a little diarrhea. Slight fade in the 2nd half but that's because I pushed too hard on the early hills. Tried to run with Dewayne early. 1st half: 26:32, 2nd half 27:25. Course PR by :53.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=8.5

4/19- I wanted to do a Mile time trial today but my legs were just too sore and I should not have been surprised. Felt good during the day and would have been fine in a basic 5-6 miler. I decided to bag it after an 83 1st quarter and turned it into a quality workout. 6x200 HARD with a 200 jog R. The Soleus data was full after the first interval (32) and I believe that the last 5 were similar. I really focused on quick leg turnover esp in the last 100 of each interval. This type of workout will really pay dividends in the Mile and 400 and possibly the 5K. From now on, I want to do either a time trial or a sprint workout like this every week until the end of the summer. I'll have to sacrifice miles but with no marathons on the radar for 2 years and my half goal accomplished, so what? Grading is primarily by feel today and it's slightly better than average but not significantly.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=3.0

4/20- Planned rest day. Dinner with my parents.

4/21- Decent long run.  Trak Shak 8-5 plus an extension.  Finished at 14 in 1:45:25 (7:32 pace).  Could have pushed for a sub-7:30 but this time, I was smarter about the pace.  Fairly even pace (52:23/53:02) with only 2 miles over 7:40.  I was hurting on the hills today and just didn't feel all that great.  I was not fresh despite a rest day yesterday.  My magnesium may be a bit low again.  I will try 5:6 tomorrow and see how it feels.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=14.0

4/22-  Took 5:6 ratio instead of 5:5 and it clearly made a difference.  I HATE being this sensitive and it leads me to believe that there may be another issue under the surface.  Today's run was a fast finish easy 6 plus a cool down.  Time was 43:46 (7:18 pace) with the last 200 in about 44 seconds.  Very even splits.  I believe Miles 1-5 were all 7:17-7:21.  Felt very strong.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=6.5

Weekly summary:
  Finished way over 3.0 which breaks a 2 week losing streak. This is a testament to how well in tune I am with my body to do so well in spite of having to make constant adjustments.  Once again, I HATE being so sensitive but as long as I stabilize at 5:6, I can live with that.  If it's 5:6 one day then 5:3 or 5:9 the next with seemingly no explanation like last summer, it would break my will.  I cannot live happily like that under any circumstances.  Prayer is needed.
Distance=47.0/ GPA= 31.3/9= 3.48

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rant: Bullying

I plan on seeing the movie Bully when it comes to Birmingham theaters this Friday and will edit this after I see it. I am a survivor of some pretty nasty bullying myself, especially between about 5th-8th grade. I was regularly pushed around and punched in the halls, got books knocked out going up stairs and was often threatened by people twice my size who were going to "beat the f*** out of me." On many days, I feared for my physical safety so I am certainly qualified to post about this. I asked one person what I did that was so annoying and the response was: "You exist! Just die and go to hell." Some people say it's just kids being kids. It's happened in the past and will happen in the future and it's not that big of a deal. I strongly disagree. What it does is wreck a person's self-confidence and can cause problems into adulthood. Children who are bullied are more likely to have problems at work, abuse drugs and alcohol and have relationship issues. I also believe that this problem is getting worse with each succeeding generation.

I've got to be careful how I word this section:
Bullying is bullying period. The motive is not important. If a teenager is tragically driven to suicide because he or she is targeted because of his or her race or sexual preference, the media is a lot more likely to jump on the story. I do not intend to minimize that tragedy and my heart goes out to those families. My point is however that it is just as offensive to target a white, straight, middle class kid for any other reason. I was an easy target for 3 reasons:
1. skinny and weak, defenseless in a fight.
2. a bit awkward socially.
3. talked slower and softer than other kids.
Consider how many overweight teenage girls are brutally bullied or driven to harm themselves yet those stories almost never make the news. Are their lives any less valuable?

Like I said, anyone who is different from other kids in any way can be a target especially if they are not physically strong. I've observed that all it takes is if one kid who is an influential leader of a "cool" clique grows to dislike someone for any reason, you can bet that 5-10 others will jump on the bandwagon. Other kids do not want to be friends with the one who is being bullied because he or she "does not have any friends."

Advice for those being bullied:
Do not try to buy friendships or allow yourself to be used by doing special favors. If people don't like you for who you are, screw 'em. It's their loss, not yours. I know that's easier to say to live out but I believe it wholeheartedly.

Do your best in school. That's an obvious one but especially crucial for you. Working hard toward achieving good grades will go a long way toward boosting your fragile self-esteem.

Find a productive extra-curricular activity. For me, joining the cross-country team was a major turning point and my high school experience was a bit better. I do believe that you have some type of talent to offer but it may not always be immediately apparent. I showed little promise as a runner in my first few races.

Get to know the Lord. I know some people don't want to hear that one but if you know the depth of His divine love, I guarantee your perspective will change. It also provides opportunities to meet more positive and accepting people in a youth group and probably an adult mentor with whom you can confide.

Advice for school teachers and administrators:
I found middle school teachers to be especially uncaring. Elementary and high school teachers were usually better. It really hurt me when some teachers who heard some of the disgusting comments directed at me as well as others yet did nothing to stop it unless it became violent. Even that sometimes was not enough. I had a gym teacher who watched as groups of kids put me in a head lock and threw me down head first. My mother called the school and even that didn't stop it completely. Even if you feel powerless to stop it, at least pull the bullied kid aside and let them know you are on their side. The straight-A students and star athletes as well as the ones always in trouble get the bulk of the attention. Try reaching out to the "B and C" students who are quiet and need a friend or simply someone who knows they exist.

Corporal punishment was being phased out when I was growing up in the early '90s. Call me medieval but I'm all for use of the good old paddle. If you want to inflict pain and fear on a defenseless person, you deserve the same fate. Discipline should be aimed at deterrence. Many students view a suspension as merely a vacation from classes and if the parents are at work, who will stop them from playing video games all day long? Detention is a better punishment because it forces students to remain in school against their will. Another idea that I have is to put a kid in a corner and not allow him/her to speak all day unless they have a question about the lesson being taught. I would also allow teachers more authority to lower grades for any negative behaviors.

This may not be my place to comment and I'm not going to tell you how to discipline your child. Keep in mind that if your child is being bullied, he or she is unlikely to tell you very much about it. I did tell my parents about some of it but they had no idea of the full extent. Why? I wanted to be strong enough to handle it myself and I especially did not want my mother to worry about me. If your child is being bullied, remember that their self-esteem is shot. If I ever have kids faced with that situation, I would reward them for their strengths, discipline when necessary but not hammer them too hard for weaknesses. On the other hand, if I ever have a son or daughter who is a bully, I would take a VERY hard line and make darn sure that it never happens again. I'd even call the other kid myself just to say I'm sorry it happened and I guarantee it will stop. I would rather have a "C" student who is well-mannered and respectful to others than an "A-B" student who is a bully and troublemaker.

The most important factor in stopping bullying is the students themselves. If you have a friend who is picking on another kid, PLEASE do not jump on the bandwagon. Also, simply not participating in it is not enough. Pathetically, surveys show that two of the most important factors in self-esteem are not school and sports performance but their popularity (esp. with the opposite sex) and their ability to beat up other students. Especially if you are an attractive girl or an athletic guy, you have a lot of potential to do good. Simply pulling aside a bullied kid and saying "I'm sorry this is going on. You are a nice guy and I'm here if you want a friend." You have no idea how much that means. The kids who are being bullied may not open up to you because they are too shy but I guarantee that they appreciate you. Last but not least, make it clear to the bullies that you don't like how they treat others and until it stops, don't have anything to do with them even if they are nice to your face and tell them why.
Whoa. This is some heavy stuff. I welcome any comments.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Training 4/9-4/15

4/9- This is not good. I only took 1 magnesium to see if I could get by and was feeling really weird during the run like I was on the edge of losing it. I took off at an effort that felt no harder than 7:20 but the watch read 6:50 and I couldn't believe it. The pace gradually slowed and my left hamstring was sore. The pace was starting to get to me by Mile 5 and I slowed to 7:08. Then I tried to pick it up and raised the pace for a quarter mile. After that, I was done. Finished with 5.5 miles in 38:21 (6:58 pace). Split decision. Good pace but not pleased with how I felt. It looks like I need pills until further notice. Please God, keep me stable. I have cheated on my diet since the race and that can't help things.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

4/10- I've hit 10,000 page views today. Thanks to all my readers, especially those from outside the U.S. (27% of my page views). It really means a lot that so many people care enough about me to read this blog even though in all likelihood, we will never meet in real life. I'd like to hear from some of you. My main e-mail is Today was a disaster. I loaded on magnesium and it was awful. 1 Mile at Hoover Middle School in a turtle time of 7:49.6 with even splits. Absolutely nothing there. Consider this a rest day but since I felt miserable all day, this will be graded. Dosage must be cut. I may be unstable.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=1.0

4/11- Positive step forward today. Trak Shak 5 in 37:55 (7:35 pace). Started out at 7:16 then gradually faded to 8:01 in Mile 4 but did bounce back with a 7:26 finish. Decent pace but I had to put out tempo effort to run a normal easy pace in spite of doing next to nothing the previous day. Magnesium dosage was cut to 1. I am cautiously hopeful that I can quit again and take it only once every few days for preventative maintenance.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=5.0

4/12- Scheduled workout was 200s. I did not feel up to it today and don't like missing these workouts but it's still early yet. Instead, I ran a Mile time trial at Hoover. Finished in 5:37.3 (best time of the year). Excellent splits: (83-86-86-82). Still a distressing 22 seconds from my goal. Breathing was very well controlled but my legs were trash. Not quite in sync yet but this is clearly another step forward. Added 2 more 400s in 87 and 83 and finished with a Mile cool. This grades out at a 78 on the official scale but I'm in a generous mood.
Grade:B-/3 credits/distance=3.0

4/13- First full day back off the pills. Easy 6 in 43:56 (7:19 pace). Very evenly paced. Nothing under 7:15 or over 7:22. Felt very good aerobically but still can't quite shake the soreness in my legs. The left hamstring is esp. troublesome. Again, not quite 100% but this is the first day back on track with my diet as well. Tomorrow's long run will be crucial.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.0

4/14- HORRIBLE! Plan was the 8-8 Trak Shak 16. I slept 10 hours and dreamed about being sent to Afghanistan and going AWOL at the last minute before I was supposed to board the plane. Maybe I should have just stayed in bed. I turned around at 1.5 miles and finished 3 in a pedestrian 24:10 (8:03 pace) then had to quit. Splits were 7:40(uphill)-8:23-8:07(downhill). I'll try to run again this afternoon but the morning workout is a failure.

PM- Took a magnesium pill and knew shortly after that help was on the way. Pelham 4 in 29:56 (7:29 pace). Even pace with a Mile cool. Struggled a bit in the heat (80 and sunny). Still out of sync. Average performance. The grade is a B- in the afternoon and an F in the morning.
Grade:D+/1 credit/distance=8.0

4/15- AWFUL! Trak Shak 8 in 65:17 (8:10 pace). Felt miserable for the entire run and was actually surprised that I was able to hold sub-8 for 6 miles. Finished with a 17:33 over the final 2. I took the pills that I was supposed to take so I still don't know. It could be the cheating on my diet. In any event, my worst fears from last week have been realized. It appears that I am unstable again. The only thing I can do is keep my sugar consumption to a minimum and take the magnesium with just a little calcium. I get a plus for finishing half the workout.

PM- 10 laps at Vestavia in 17:58 (7:11 pace) and managed a 91 last lap (5K race pace). Felt better after a 3rd magnesium pill but this does not change my grade for the day. 2 lap cool
Grade:F+/2 credits/distance=11.0

Weekly summary:
Worst week in almost 2 years. 'Nuff said.
Distance= 40.0/GPA= 18.4/10=1.84

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Crescent City 10K RR

My best friend and my mother told me that I should not do this race. Maybe I should have listened. I took a short walking tour of New Orleans (Bourbon Street) on a road trip back in '03 and a guy latched onto me, started talking and would not leave me alone. It turned out that he was well known by the police and would have robbed me if an officer did not step in. So why did I give New Orleans another chance and choose this race? Several reasons. One, I thought I was in shape to break 40 for the first time and wanted to do it at an event to remember rather than a small local race. Two, it's a mega 10K with nearly 20K participants and no chance of ending up in no man's land. Three, it's not that bad of a drive and a fairly easy way to take another step toward my 10K in 10 states goal (now have AL,GA,SC,LA). Four, New Orleans is almost dead flat and in good weather, all the right ingredients for a fast time.

I took the whole day off on Friday and left around 10 AM. I stopped for Irish food at a quick service place just across the Miss'Sippi border in Meridian. It was a very smooth ride until I got off the interstate and turned on to Canal Street. That was literally a parking lot and took almost a full hour to go just a few blocks. Finally, I pulled into the parking garage and took my tired body up to the expo, also at the hotel. I checked into my room, tried to take a quick nap and headed out the door for a walk. First, I went further down Canal Street to the Riverwalk, which was a cool shopping mall on the banks of the Mississippi river. From there, I took a walk down Bourbon Street and found a moderate priced sit down restaurant for dinner. You never know what you'll see on Bourbon Street and those who have been there know what I mean. Let's just say that I was not amused by what I saw and leave it at that. I was feeling better now and headed back to my room for a good night's sleep.

Race morning:
I felt okay warming up but really should have known that something was a little off. Nevertheless, the sub-40 attempt was on. I didn't feel very good before Rumpshaker either and still turned in a PR. The temp was around 70 with sunny skies and relatively low humidity. Not quite optimal but not bad enough to preclude a PR. I wish this one had started at 7:30 rather than 8:30. As expected the course was nearly dead flat and point to point starting from Jackson Square and ending at City Park. There were a few inclines here and there but I really didn't feel any of them. The gun went off and I was out well. According to the watch, which was not too accurate today (10.22 K), I was doing just about an even 6 pace. Relax. I told myself. Just allow yourself to slow down and when the pace hits 6:20ish, start pushing and hold it from there. The first mile passed (slightly downhill) in a strong 6:07 and early in Mile 2, my pace was still holding pretty steady. I thought I would smash the barrier but man, things would turn ugly in a hurry. By the middle of Mile 2, the pace began to slow to the 6:20s as planned. Okay, time to start pushing. This should feel like a hard tempo at this stage. I tried to push but there was nothing there. Mile 2 passed in about 12:30 but at this point, it felt like the power switch had been cut off. There was no power in my legs and I still had almost 7K to go. At this point, I knew sub-40 was out but I thought a sub-41 would still be respectable. In Mile 3, we turned onto another road. This was the rough surface that I had heard of. I did not find it too bad and it did not significantly alter my stride. Today, even if all conditions were perfect and I paced it evenly, it was still not my day. Mile 3 came and my pace was slowing to the 7:00 range. I'm going to be over 42. The 5K marker passed by in 20:04. Time to punt now. I'm not risking a melt down on a warm and sunny day when I am clearly off form. From this point on, I merely went through the motions. I stopped for water at Mile 4 (one of only 2 stations that I remember). Even if I was pushing as hard as I could, I don't think I could have gone much faster. I was surprised to see the 5 Mile marker showing a time of 34:14, still well under 7 pace overall. With 1 Mile to go, a volunteer yelled out 390 to me. I assumed that was my overall place. The top 500 get to take home a poster. Pride kicked in and managed a slight increase in my pace as we made the turn into City Park. I was still getting passed but they weren't streaming by me like the previous 2 miles and I was sure that I would hang on for a top 500 finish but my time would likely be over 43. Down the final straight, I surprised myself by mustering a pretty decent finishing kick. It was not enough to get me below 43 but it was enough to re-pass several runners in the last 400. Finished with a 43:08 (6:57 pace) for 405th overall. I got my poster, took the bus back to the hotel and got out of there as quickly as I could.
Here are my official splits, which are a bit different than I recall:
6:09 (6:09) feel good.
6:29 (12:38) power is gone
6:46 (19:24) this is going to be ugly
7:15 (26:39) this can't be over soon enough
7:35 (34:14) feels like Mile 19 of a marathon.
7:24 (41:38) pride is coming back
1:30 (43:08) roughly 6:40 pace on the kick.

Final thought:
No offense to any readers from the New Orleans area but I have not had good luck here and do not intend on coming back. If you are looking to race in Louisiana, I recommend Baton Rouge instead. Baton Rouge Beach ranks high among my favorite half marathons and have heard good things about the new marathon there as well. Clearly, I was off form and I could tell the difference between a bad day and my chemistry being off. Today, the latter was clearly the case. NOOOO! A 40:xx or even a 41:xx would be within the normal variability. Today, even if I went out conservative, I still don't think I could have broken 42. That's way off (:20/mile). As I've said before, if I have to take a couple of pills every now and then to stay in balance, I'm okay with that. If it's x# of pills per day every day, that sucks. If it's x pills one day then y or z pills another day, then I will be VERY ANGRY. For now, I'll just have to wait and see. God is still able. Let's regroup next week and bounce back strong in Louisville. The Gum Tree 10K in Tupelo offers a good chance at redemption at this distance. Both my 5K and HM predict a sub-40 10K so I see no reason why I can't do it.

A sub-40 is set as a A+ and it goes down in increments of :30. Sub-40:30 is an A and sub-41 is an A- and so on. A time between 43-43:30 is a "C" grade. One solace that I can take away is my 5K split of 20:04. I could have run a 19:45ish 5K today even off form. This one could have been a low 42 if I knew I was off form and went out :30 slower in Mile 1. I've been down before and will get back up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tentative summer/fall racing plans

Here's what written in stone:
4/7- Crescent City Classic- 10K in New Orleans
4/28-Kentucky Derby half- Louisville

Penciled in for the Fall:
7/4- Peavine Falls run- local trail race
9/22- Denver half
10/21- Detroit Free Press half
11/3- 10K (local or Mobile)
11/17- Turkey Burner 5K- Monty

Possible: No more than one of these per month.
5/12- Gum Tree 10K- Tupelo, MS
June- Race to the Courthouse 5K- local
June- Possum Trot 10K- Atlanta
July- Retro 5K- local
August- Are U Able 5K- local
early Sept- Franklin 10 K (TN) or Monkey C 5K (local)
October- Hueytown 5K/10K- local

Much of the summer options will be game time decisions based on the weather and what I accomplish in the shorter distances. New Orleans weather has taken a bit of a turn for the better. Low is down to 66 and the high is only 83 so it may be under 70 at the start. Tupelo will depend largely on my performance in NOLA. If I break 40 there, I'm a lot less likely to do it. If I come up just short, I won't be able to resist. Then again, I really like the city of Tupelo and it will be a fun event. Almost all the big time 10Ks are in the Spring. Only 2 on my list are in the Fall (Pittsburgh Great Race, Senior Bowl) and neither is on the radar this year. Therefore, if I can't get it done this Spring, it may have to wait until next year.
After further reflection about Rumpshaker, don't get me wrong, I am NOT disappointed with the tied PR but I really should have broken it. It feels like running a half in 1:30 flat or a 10K in 40:00 without breaking it. The guy who passed me in the last 400 meters gained 6 seconds on me. That's very uncharacteristic for me. It was SO close. All I needed was maybe 1-2 corners in which I ran the tangents better. What if there was no hill at the end? What if I had no intestinal discomfort? I had it. I'll get that last second down the road this year.
The 10K? Not so sure. I'm also not so sure on the 5:15 Mile or 59.9 400.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Training 4/2-4/8 (race week)

4/2- 8 miles in 59:55 (7:29 pace). Slight fade toward the end. Still quite a bit sore in the calf muscles. I really should have allowed the pace to slow and finish over 60 but pride got the best of me. Probably not real smart but we're only talking about a few seconds per mile. Johnny's workout tomorrow, easy Wednesday then 2 days off before race day. Weather is not looking good. Low temp will be 68 degrees and the race does not start until 8:30. Let's hope it will be a few degrees cooler or this might have to be a fun run.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=8.5

4/3- Johnny's workout was fairly moderate, which is what I wanted. I was NOT up for a brutal speed session today. Once again, I was very sore esp. in the calf and foot but once again, I did better than expected. (400-800) times 3 on South Lakeshore plus long warm and cool. I really don't like doing intervals on the road instead of the track. We had to make a U-turn at the halfway point of each interval so I probably lost 2 seconds each time. Times were (82-2:45/78-2:47/78-2:42) Ed wasn't there so nobody was able to push me. Decent overall. Last quality session of the week.
Grade:B+/2 credit/distance=5.0

4/4- Trak Shak 5. I wore clothes only because I wanted to be sure the pace was slow enough. Finished with a time of 38:02 (7:36 pace) with a pretty significant slow down at the end. Felt beat up and tired but the good news is the calf and foot pain has diminished. I get 2 days off before race day. Ho-hum affair.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=5.5

4/5- Planned rest day. I need one badly. Weather in New Orleans is looking better. High of 79, low of 64. The first sub-40 attempt is on!

4/6- 2nd rest day. Still a tad sore but expect to be ready to roll.

4/7- BAAAAD! Crescent City 10K in 43:08 (6:57 pace) with a brutal fade in Mile 4-5.
Grade:C/4 credits/distance=7.5

4/8- Hilly 6.5 mile loop from the Shak at moderate effort. 2 water stops but the moving time was a comfortable 45:36 (7:01 pace). Consider this. My first quarter mile was a slow 1:56. After that point, I averaged a sub-7 pace over the final 10K. My pace was comparable to yesterday's race and felt comfortable. The difference? 2 magnesium pills. What will happen now? Will I simply need a pill every few days for maintenance or will it be a specific formula that I will adjust periodically and without notice? Trying not to stress over it even though so much depends on it.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=6.5

Weekly summary:
Overall, not that bad of a week but why did the nadir have to happen on race day? If the race was one day later, I probably could have fixed the issue in time. In the past, I lost my form overnight. I may be unbalanced but I am more stable. This year, it seems that it's a slow fade over a few days-up to a week. I've already said what I feel emotionally right now so no point in repeating it.
Distance=33.0/ GPA= 25.3/9= 2.81